Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fun/Tough road ahead...

Just got home from my second Crossfit session...whew! I will be sore tomorrow!! It was fun, challenging, exhausting and totally different than anything I have done before. I love the atmosphere- everyone cheering one another on while pushing yourself to the limit- and then past it. I signed up to compliment my running training. I am excited to see where it takes me. I will do it twice a week for a few months and then see if I can handle doing it three times/week.

I also just signed up for the Vermont 100!!!!!!!!

I've been getting the 100 mile itch for quite a while and after finishing Mountain Masochist I knew I wanted to do one. After MM it was all I could think about!!! I went to Vermont last year to help crew and loved the environment. I have been to quite a few 100's in my life and this was a fun one.... lots of people, lots of horses, lots of aid stations, etc. I especially loved that everyone camps there the night before! So, after a LOT of thinking, I signed up!!!! Training starts now!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mountain Masochist

I'm sitting here writing this about a week after running so I feel like I have made myself forget some of the worst parts but I will try to re-live it here :)

I signed up for this race early, in May, and have been training for this race since then. It was my final, end of the year, ultimate race. Race weekend quickly arrived and I wasn't sure if I felt ready or not! I met Carrie and Jay and we began the 10 hour drive down to Virginia. After a long day in the car we made it in the nick of time for the pre-race dinner and briefing. Once there my nerves really started acting up! I definitely had the pre-race jitters! I sat listening to Clark review race information and all I could think about was how horrible the next day would be! I was so nervous about cut offs, snow, climbs, the distance and how the hell I would be able to finish! What had I signed up for??!!

We made it to the hotel, quickly put our things together and went to bed. Without much sleep the alarm clock finally went off at an early 4am. We made it onto the bus that would take us to the start at 5am and made it to the start by 6. Whew, I was SO nervous at this point, couldn't eat, couldn't drink, just wanted to start and get going.

Bimbler's toe star

Finally made it over to the start and we quickly began! The race started in the dark, you could just see headlamps leading up the paved road and back behind. Finally we dipped into the trails about a mile or so in and began the day-long adventure! I knew I would have to be quicker than normal in the beginning if I wanted to meet the cutoffs so I tried to stay faster than normal. Eventually the sun began to rise, we put away the headlamps and enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL sunrise over the Virginia mountains. The silhouettes were absolutely stunning.

Runners were starting to spread out more and more but I was constantly with someone or at least in sight of someone. One good thing about huge races is you never have to run alone! All I could think was CUTOFFS so I was anxious to see how my pace was when I hit the second aid station. I realized I was just on pace to finish in 12 hours, oh no! I wanted to be faster than that! I decided I needed to push it into gear a little more and really hope that it would last me until the finish. After that, I constantly broke up the race by each aid station. Just focusing on each section. instead of the entire race. After going through a few more aid stations, I was finally about 30 minutes ahead of cutoffs. I knew then I could relax... a little. The last climb to the halfway point was tough! It felt like the climb never ended, I tried to walk a while, then jog 20 yards, and alternate until I made it to the top. Then someone told me the climb after the halfway was even worse! And that there were many more the second half of the race! I was already getting tired, I couldn't even imagine running a faster second half if it was harder than the first!

I made it to the halfway aid station (mi 26ish) at exactly 5 1/2 hours, I was about thirty minutes ahead of cutoff and was feeling pretty good, I didn't take much time, just wanted to get the upcoming climb done and over with. I met up with several people and managed to chat my way through several tough miles.

Then came the infamous LOOP! This is where things got interesting! I had heard there was snow the second half of the race, but the loop was SO SNOWY! There was about a foot of snow the entire 6 mile loop. It was tough, slow going- felt like I was constantly slipping and sliding- Yacktracks would have been perfect to have. There was a half mile out and back in the middle of the loop up to the top of Mt Pleasant. The out and back was tough! Runners were coming towards you fast and it was hard to get out of the way in all the snow. But the trip was totally worth it for the views from the top- I probably spent too much time up there, but oh well! It was beautiful!

Beginning of the loop

View from  top of Mt Pleasant

I knew I was way slower than I should have on the loop and that I would have lost a lot of time. I was worried about where I would be in regards to cut offs. I made it into the aid station and realized now I was only 10 minutes ahead of cutoff. Shit. I have to book it for the last 10 miles to be able to make it under 12 hours. I heard from a few people that they pushed the finish cutoff (12 hours) by thirty minutes. So I knew I would make it in 12:30, but REALLY wanted it in under 12! I just hoped we were done with the climbs and snow.

But it wouldn't be a crazy race if there weren't more climbs or snow! :) We went up another few climbs on fire roads, walking and jogging my way through it. Then hit another aid station- I was only 5 minutes ahead of cutoff now, telling myself to keep moving, don't waste time, pain is only temporary, etc, etc.

There was another section of single track in the snow with a few small climbs (that felt huge!), this section was really slow and a low point for me. I knew I had less than 6 miles or so but it felt like forever. Finally I made it to the last aid station!!! I had been looking forward to this point for the last 15 miles. I knew the last bit was all downhill fire roads- MY FAVORITE!!!! I knew I could fly on this section, and I did! I gave it all I got and tried to enjoy the last few miles of my first 50 mile race. I was so proud of myself at this point and was so happy that I was going to be able to finish in under 12 hours!!!

Made it into the finish line at 11:52!!!! I was tired, happy, proud, exhausted, sore, relieved and uncomfortable but I was done!!!! First 50 mile race is in the books and now I'm ready for my next adventure!

MMTR is a great race- hard but great and so well put on. The people were wonderful, aid stations stocked, views beautiful and trails lovely. People ask why the hell I would run 50 miles, I'm never quite sure what to tell them, but I know when I was done I was happier than I have been in a long time! Now the question is... do I sign up for a 100  miler now??!!??!!


Ironhorse award- most reps of bench press after the race

Was able to put my sticker on!!!!

Bluff 50k 2012

The 2 weeks leading up to the Bluff I was stressing out about how and if I would be able to finish this race. The fall from Nipmuck Marathon really bothered my knee and I was sent to physical therapy from my MD. I literally ran 10 miles total in the two weeks before the race- I felt lost, out of shape, heavy, stiff, and fearful for the race- NOT a good way to go into a big race!!! I tried stretching, strengthening, ice, e-stim, ultrasound, McConnell taping, kinesiotaping and I just prayed something would work!
So race day arrived and I was nervous! I told myself to just enjoy the day and whatever happens, happens. It was supposed to be a clear, fall day in the 60s. The tree's were in full fall color and the course was beautiful. I knew the climb to the Bluff Head was trecherous but it would be totally worth it that day!
I arrived early and ended up sitting in my car until the last minute because it was so cold! Once I went to the Starting line I ran into all the Bimblers- everyone was so upbeat and excited for the day, it instantly put me at ease and into a great mood. Once the gun went off I fell in line with some other Bimblers and we immediately started chatting about life and races- this is why I love running trails- you would never see this kind of friendship and commradery in any other races or competitions! After running with several trail friends, I ended up alone on my up to the Bluffs Head. I made it up to the top and stopped for a few seconds to enjoy the view- and it was worth it! The pictures don't do it justice.

The start of the climb up to the Bluff's head

Smile! :)

So far, so good with my knee- I popped a few ibuprofens just in case but I was feeling really good. After the top of the Bluff, it was a tough section- not because of elevation or tough trails, but it was ROCKY and the leaves covered everything. So I basically stubbed my toes about 1,237 times. OUCH! But before I knew it I was at Renee's Way- with great volunteers in some beautiful costumes! Always makes me smile :)
I grabbed some normal M&Ms and pretzels and a Mt Dew and was on my way... but that's when trouble started. All of a sudden I had some major cramping and GI problems. I knew I was on track to beat my time from last year, so I wanted to keep up my pace and continue on. But the more I ran, the more 'side trails' I had to take- very frustrating to have to stop every 30 minutes or so. Looking back I could have taken 15 minutes off my time! Oh well- guess it was just a bad stomach day for me!
I met up with Rob while I was pretty down on myself and was being pretty negative. He was so positive and up beat and so happy to be there that it really helped me out. I came out of my negativity and started realizing that we are doing something most people can't even imagine and I actually enjoy doing it! We ran together off and on for the rest of the race- and I pushed myself to try to stay with him the rest of the way. I ended up finishing just behind him and finished an hour faster than my last years time!! I couldn't believe it! I am now very excited and less nervous about the Mountain Masochist 50! Thanks to all the fellow runners pushing me forward, the happy, helpful volunteers and the great Mr. Bimble for putting on this great race! It was my first ultra and I hope to be running it for years to come!

Hard to see, but beautiful finishers award!

Nipmuck Trail Marathon

 I went into this race excited and a bit nervous. I have been running my butt off for the past 6 months or so and was anxious to see if I would have improved since last year. Last year I had just started training when I ran this race. It was a great race and I thought I did well at the time, but this year I just felt like I could do better.

 The weather was gorgeous, about 50 degrees- a perfect fall day. We started out on the pavement for  about 200 yards then went into the woods where it bottlenecked and slowed way down for about the first mile or so- which is great, I always try to stay slow in the begining. I finally got into my groove and ran at a good pace, before I knew it I was at the first turn-around at mile 6! It flew by! The course of Nipmuck is great, single track through various types of woods, with my favorite section running along an old stone wall. I just enjoyed the views and took in the beauty of nature. I felt like I was running strong and by the time I hit the halfway I tried to pick up my pace knowing that I would probably beat my time from last year. The run was very un-eventful except for a hard fall around mile 20 which I almost landed straight on my face. I caught myself on my hands and knees and was a bit sore the rest of the race. But I continued on, trying to pick up the pace and finish as strong as possible. I ended up coming in almost 45 minutes faster than last year!! I was so proud of myself for all the miles and hard work I have put in to get to this point! I couldn't wait to run the Bimblers Bluff 50k and see if I could again beat last years time, and also gave me a great confidence boost for my upcoming Mountain Masochist 50 miler!!

Bimble toe star

Shellygirl and I's matching arm warmers


Gets a bit rocky at times

Beautiful trails!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jay Peak 50K

I'm not sure why I signed up for this race. First, it's 6 hours away, it's on a ski mountain, and it was the inaugural year. BUT, I was convinced to sign up regardless. And I'm glad I did. I absolutely despise anything uphill so I was using this as a great training run for Mountain Masochist to prove to myself that I can do lots of hills over 30 miles of running. And I absolutely LOVE downhills so I figured I would at least like half the course! The course was two loops of the 25k course. The first loop with all the other 25k runners. I really didn't know what to expect when I got there, I have now done 2 Tough Mudders that are on a ski mountain, so I was thinking this would be similar just without all the obstacles (which was basically just running up and down ski slopes).

We started off the weekend with a relaxing day before the race at a lake near Groton, VT (Stillwater State Park). It was probably the best state park Thomas and I have ever been to- green grassy area, perfect sandy beach, ladder golf games, kayak rentals, and CLEAN bathrooms! After relaxing and reading our books, we left mid afternoon for the rest of the drive up to Jay Peak Resort by the Canadian border.

Stillwater State Park

We picked up our packets at the resort and grabbed a couple beers to sit out and look UP the mountain. We met up with Jay and his son, Spruce, and grabbed some pizza for our pre-race meal. The closer the race got, the more nervous I got! I saw quite a few intimidating young ladies and was even more intimidated by the mountain itself

Race day! We arrived at the start and I was more and more nervous about going up and down all day. The first few miles were great- gradual slopes, shaded by trees, and mostly flat! And then BAM! We went straight up the mountain about 200 yards, turned around and went back down. We were about 400 yards past the top of the hill and I heard people shouting "STOP!". Everyone around me stopped and waited for a second. The RD came running up the mountain telling people to turn around keep going up the mountain. The one good time to be slow! The fast group had gone about a half mile past and down the mountain and had to turn around to go back up. SO that little "oops" definitely leveled the playing field for a little bit.

Then we continued to climb, and climb, and climb! And boy was it steep!!! The whole time I was thinking that I had to do this all over again! The climb continued for about a mile-(??) part straight up a black diamond ski slope and part on the Long Trail (single track), bouldering our way up the mountain. And then finally we were to the very top!

Looking back at runners climbing 

Beautiful views!!

Steep downhills!! We also went up and down the far trail as well.

Now, I say I like downhill, but going down this mountain was not  normal downhill running- it was basically a controlled fall on a super, super steep black diamond ski slope. I don't like skiing because I feel like I am going to constantly fall- I didn't like this either because you were constantly trying to slow yourself from falling off the side of the mountain. But, the views were to die for.

Then it felt like the rest of the course was constant up and downs, up and downs, and up and downs. There were short, 200 yard climbs, and then there were long half mile climbs, some grassy, some gravely, some switchbacks and some straight up. They continued until we finally made it back to the Start/Finish.

As I came through the Start/Finish for the 25k (half point) I heard my name announced by the RD and he also said I was the second female for the 50k... wait, what?!?! No way, that can't be right, can it?! So, I quickly refilled my hydration pack, grabbed some food and was off again. After that, I just kept thinking I had to hurry if I was going to actually come in 2nd place for female finishers- I mean I wouldn't get another chance like this one again!!

Looking back up to the top of the mountain we ended up climbing twice. We went up on the far side of the mountain and down the trail you can see coming down. 

More grassy uphills

The rest of the day went basically the same as the first loop, only MUCH more painful and a little slower. A few of the aid stations were dry by the time I got to them. Not much food to choose from either- I had to carry a cup of chips and M&Ms with me for a couple hours because I was worried I would run out of fuel for the rest of the day.

The uphills were HARD! The downhills fun, easy, but boy were they painful!!! Finishing was such a relief! And I ended up keeping my 2nd place female finish!!!! Thomas finished 2nd overall (we're such a good match aren't we ;)) Jay finished about 40 minutes(?) before me. Great day overall, beautiful views, hard climbs and even a fuel belt for my award :)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Providence Rock N Roll Half Marathon

After working out for a while and running Tough Mudder together, I convinced Elizabeth to run a half marathon with me. What a great race to start with! I ran Providence RNR Half last year and it was a great race! EXCEPT I ran like crap!! So I felt I had to come back to avenge my race death from last year. After we signed up for the race I found out Karmin was the feature Finish line band playing- I was STOKED!!!! They are my new obsession and are so talented!

We met in Rhode Island the night before and stocked up on carbs for race day. An early morning start, with a few bumps in the road- a long wait in Dunkin Donuts drive through, a spilled hot tea in the car, almost losing my ID to check in, and then almost losing my bib number after I finally checked in- but we finally made it to the starting line!

Elizabeth and I ran most of the race together, we ended up splitting up around mile 10. Elizabeth was definitely pushing me along the first 6 miles- I was really worried I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace. Once I had a GU at mile 9 I was got my second wind and took off. I felt great the last 3 miles, which was great because that's when I felt HORRIBLE the year before! It felt great to kick last years ass! 

I ended up coming in at 1:48- my new PR! The race was so fun! Great bands along the route, high energy the whole race, a great way to see the beautiful city of Providence and so fun to run with Elizabeth! 

After the race we stayed around for our free beer and Karmin concert- definitely the best part of the day! They were GREAT in concert!!!!

Finish line at the top of the hill



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vermont 100 Crew

Last weekend I spent the weekend crewing for a fellow Bimbler. We had met up the week before to go over the details so I felt prepared to help out for the race. I arrived on Friday afternoon in time for the pre-race briefing and dinner. Met up with all the other Bimblers there and sat around the rest of the evening chatting and catching up. It was such a great group of people and runners, it was great listening to stories from past years and other races. I look up to so many of the other runners it was great listening to their past experiences. We went to bed early and set our alarms early for the next morning.

Everyone was up and getting ready by 3am for a race start at 4am. It was still dark at this point, and we all headed down to the Start together. We huddled around our runners sending good vibes their way. There was a lot of nervous energy in the tent and you could tell the runners just wanted to be on their way. Then they all lined up... and they were off!! 

Vermont 100 also has a horse race that goes with the runners race. I've never been to a race like this before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The 100 mile horse race starts about an hour after the runners. The horses slowly checked in and then they were off as well! It was fun to see the horses along the course and throughout the day. 

Once the runners were off, all the crew groups set off for the first aid station, and some breakfast :) From about 6am we went from aid station to aid station. The first half of the race we saw our runner about every 3 hours, but then the second half we met up with them almost every hour. Luckily my runner was very organized and knew exactly what he would want at each aid station. I pretty much just swapped his hydration vest at each place and added some gu's here and there. Pretty simple :)

It was great seeing the other Bimbler runners throughout the day, and also having their crews around to hang out with and chat. I also met a few other Connecticut and New England runners. It's great to see that even though the ultra running world is getting larger and larger, it is still such a small world and a close community. The environment at ultra events is unlike any other running events. It is low key, social, happy, and encouraging. Everyone cheers for everyone and each runner wants everyone to have a great race. 

I met up with Elaine at mile 50ish. She was meeting up with Alex at mile 70 to pace him for the rest of the race. She had never been to a 100 mile race and was a little nervous about pacing for the first time. We talked a lot about races and ultras and how crazy all the 100 mile runners were :) I think we were both getting the itch to run farther races though. Once we met up with Alex at 70 she was gone and I picked up Suresh as my new navigation partner- thank goodness too! I was so nervous about driving and getting lost in the dark in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. 

Finally we  met up with Alex and Elaine at mile 94 (ish) and they were looking strong!! We hurried to the finish and before we knew it, they came through the finish line!! He finished in 21:20!!! It was such a great race for him, he looked so strong and focused the entire race. I stayed at the finish line for a couple hours watching other runners finishing and it was so moving and motivating. All I wanted to do at that moment was sign up for a 100. I am really starting to get the 100 mile itch. I've been around ultras my entire life and now I think I am ready to step it up a notch and try for a 100... maybe :). I have Mountain Masochist 50m in November so I will have to wait and see how that race turns out before I sign up for anything. It was the best thing in the world seeing all the runners coming through the finish line accomplishing their goals that they have been working towards for months or even years. 

Lots of Bimblers supporting their fellow Bimblers!

Here comes Mr. Bimble himself!

Getting weighed in


Probably my favorite aid station-Bills I think, mile 88?