Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Third times a charm... Bluff 50K

What a great way to start... had my trail name on the bib!!!!  

After a horrible Hartford Marathon, I was in need for a lovely, fun, happy trail race. The Bluff 50k was the perfect thing to get me out of my post marathon funk. I decided I would go into the race with no expectations. I've run the Bluff the past two years and I didn't want to have to compare times, or go into the race with any type of goal. 

I knew several people at the race, so before the race even started, everyone was chatting and having a good time. I started near the back of the pack and just took my time- no rush. People went by and I was in no hurry to chase after them. I decided if I felt good at the end, THEN I could start chasing people down. 

The race went pretty uneventful... it was probably the nicest fall day New England has had to offer, a perfect 60 degree, sunny day, and fall foliage was at it's peak. We made our way up to the top of the Bluff Head and the views were spectacular- that is one (of many!!) reason I run this race each year. You can see for miles. 

Top of the Bluff... totally worth the climb!

After the Bluff Head, the course gets tricky, lots of rocks and many more leaves to cover them up so each step is a new surprise. Actually sounds a lot like Ozark Trail 100
I kept running with new people, one of the best parts of trail running is constantly meeting new people and getting to know each other on the trails. Everyone is always so friendly and chatty. Makes the day so much better when you can find people to run with and talk the day away. 

Little bit of a climb

Made it to the halfway point, and filled up on grilled cheese! It was the best thing I had ever tasted!! I knew I could get through the rest of the day with those little sandwiches! YUM! We continued on, walking, running, chatting, and soon getting lost! There was a new section of trail that a bunch of us missed and went about a quarter mile past the turn off. Oh well... just got my moneys worth! :) The new section was great- lots of sharp turns back and forth and up and down, it was a mountain bikers paradise. I love that this race has so many different types of terrain, some climbing, some technical, but still lots of runnable forest roads. I'm discovering that the runnable forest roads are my new favorite, but you also need some hills to break up the running parts to give yourself a walking break :) This race has it all.

Kinda scary while I heard gun shots getting closer and closer

Towards the end of the race, around mi 28ish I got a new burst of energy, I felt great, still had some gas left in the tank so I decided to take off and kick it into gear. I booked it the last 4 miles or so of the race, and felt great! I was so happy to have felt so good, no stomach issues, no leg pains, no cramping. I don't know if I have ever felt so good towards the end of any race. I guess the Hartford Marathon was just a great training run for the Bluff. This was my third year at the Bluff and I hope to keep coming back year after year. Great race and thanks Jerry!

LOVE the finishers awards!!! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hartford Marathon

A bad day running is still better than a good day working, so I guess I shouldn't complain about this race too much. I got to run for a few hours... or more :)... and see the great city I've lived by for the past three years. The Hartford Marathon has been on my Connecticut bucket list for a few years and I needed to cross it off my list before I leave. After VT100, I didn't do much... I ate a lot, I slept in, I went to crossfit occasionally, and I sometimes went for 15 mile runs on the weekends. I wasn't training, I was recovering. A few weeks before the marathon I decided I should probably run a long run on the roads to get ready. I ran 17 miles and felt good- hopefully that would get me through the marathon, I mean I just ran a 100 miles a few months ago.. I can do a silly road marathon, RIGHT?? HA! Boy was I wrong!!!

The day of the race I felt okay, not confident, but okay. Thomas dropped me off and I slowly made my way to the starting line. I had my showtunes music ready on my ipod, waterbottle full, gu's ready. The starting line vibe was great- tens of thousands of runners all there for the same goal- to push themselves all the way to the finish line. I wasn't so much nervous as I was anxious. I wasn't sure how I would feel since I hadn't run a ton in the past couple months. We started and after a couple miles I ran into one of the Bimblers- Jay, aka Forest. Crazy running next to him out of thousands of runners! Then we realized he had the same flight to New Mexico as Thomas that afternoon- small world!!! We ran together for a couple miles until he kept speeding up and I knew I needed to slow down. (He ended up with a great time!) I felt pretty good up to mile 10- always looking at my watch to make sure I was going slow enough that I would be able to keep the pace for 26 miles. 

Then I hit mile 10 and it all went downhill (not the roads, just me). I felt tired. Heavy. Exhausted. Bored. Drained. Sad. Disappointed. Angry. I knew it was going to be a long day at that point. I realized I wasn't properly trained, and just because I had run 100 miles that summer, did NOT mean I could do a road marathon without proper training. 

After VT100 I felt invincible. I had accomplished this amazing goal that I never thought I could achieve. I felt like I could do anything. So I thought I could do very little and still be at the same level I was when training. And I was wrong. This was a huge lesson for me to learn. I realized that I worked my ass off in the spring and it paid off at VT100... then when I got lazy after the race, I couldn't do the same things I could before. Hard work does pay off... and laziness does not! 

So I kept running... I watched my pace get slower, and slower, and slower. BUT I kept moving forward. Eventually I had to walk. But kept moving forward. Once I accepted my off and on walking and not being able to break 4 hours I knew I just had to keep moving and I would eventually reach the finish line. A slow finish is still better than a DNF in my book. 

So now I know what I need to do... I need to get out and train. I need to sign up for some new races and get back in the gym and on the trail. I love the trails, they are my peaceful place and I love having a goal to keep striving for. So now the question is... what will the next race be????

Happy to have finished!

Beautiful fall day!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vermont 100

I signed up for VT100 in December so this race has been a long time coming, I knew I trained hard for it and was ready. Typically I went to crossfit three times a week, ran three times during the week and had at least one long run every weekend. I ran a couple 50ks, marathons and a 50 miler this spring and had the race prep down.

My parents flew out before the race- they have run ultras for years and have countless 100's under their belt- I knew they would be the perfect crew!!! We got into Woodstock a couple days before to hang out and tour VT a bit. Had a great time with the parents around town. We checked into the race Friday morning to weigh in and get blood pressure checked- everything looked good! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and napping before the race briefing at 4pm.

Everyone's drop bags for the race

Tent city

I camped at the starting line with many other runners Friday night, that way I can roll out of bed and walk to the start.  I tried going to bed in the tent around 8:30 but couldn't get much sleep. The biggest thunderstorm I've ever witnessed went on Friday night from about 10pm-2am. BRIGHT lightning and LOUD thunder kept me up most of the night. Finally it was 3am and I could get up and get the race started. I got my things together, and headed to the start for some coffee and meet up with everyone. I surprisingly wasn't nervous- I just felt so excitement for what I was about to partake in! I don't remember a race that I haven't been nervous!!! We were about to toe the starting line and all of a sudden there were beautiful fireworks from the nearby hills!! What a perfect way to start the day!!!

I started at a slow pace, and then tried to go even slower- I knew I had a long day a head of me. I met several women in the beginning and had a great time chatting and getting to know my fellow runners. Met several that were back to avenge their DNFs from past years. About 5 hours in I made it to Pretty House at mi 22 where I met my parents and Thomas for the first time. It was so nice to see them! I knew then that I was so lucky to have people to look forward to for each handler aid station. I knew that would help me get through the race. 

Everyone helping :)

More climbs

 More sock changes

Beautiful Vermont views

Only 73 to go :)

I just keep running, chatting, enjoying the scenery and the miles went pretty quickly. I tried to maintain my eating and drinking, knowing that I wouldn't want to later on. I met so many great people and really enjoyed the company of everyone. There were lots of hills- mostly shortish hills, downhills, flat, repeat. Soon I was in Camp 10 Bear at 47 miles- almost half way! I remember seeing that after this aid station there was a big climb! AGH! And boy were they right!!

Soon we saw a 50 mile sign, I knew the rest of the way would be uncharted territory for me... I have never run more that 50 miles, or more than 12 hours so I was anxious to see how my body (and mind!!) would be for the rest of the race. The second half of the race was similar to the first, except hills were much longer!!! Long climbs up, long climbs down, then short flat sections. This really started to tear down my quads and feet. There was a long hill, about 2 miles and it really got me down, then all of a sudden I saw my dad, Thomas, and Phil! YAY! An aid station! (Seven Sees I believe, mi 59) That helped a ton, and by the time I left the aid station I was happy and smiling :)

More ups, downs and again, I got to a low spot by the time I got to Camp 10 Bear at mile 70- all I could think was, "I am starting to be sore, how the hell am I going to do another 30 miles!??!" (especially because everyone had been saying the last 30 is the hardest- how could it get any harder?!?!) Thank goodness my dad picked me up here. At the aid station, I basically flew past my crew because I was so mad/sad/tired/sore and in such a bad place mentally. At the next aid station I had to apologize because I knew they were out there waiting for hours and I just blew them off. With my dad, time went a bit faster, but I was really starting to hurt- quads and soles of the feet the worst. And I felt like the hills were just getting steeper and longer!! Or maybe that was because I had been running for 17 hours already...


Still happy at mile 62, heading into the night...

The last 30 miles were a blur of silent (and some non-silent) curses, moaning/groaning, with a bit of chatting thrown in once a while when I could get the energy to say anything. My dad was great- always talking and keeping me upbeat, telling me I was doing great and pushing me to always keep moving. At one point I looked at my watch and couldn't believe I had actually been out there running for 20 hours already!! WOW!!! And then I realized I still had several more to go... oh jeez! By the time I hit Bills, mi 89 around 23 hours in, I just wanted to be done. I weighed in 6 lbs heavier than when I started and the medical staff looked concerned, but they let me go. I ended up leaving before Thomas and my dad. I just started walking and told them to catch up- I was on a mission to finish!! I knew by that point that I WAS going to finish and it was just a matter of how much pain and how much time it would take to get me there. I knew if I kept moving I would make it. They were both great pushing me and telling me how awesome I was doing. Finally we passed Pollys, the last manned aid station! Only 4 more miles! I wanted to get under 27 hours so bad, I had an hour and a half to do 4 miles so I PUSHED it!! I tried to run as far as possible, then walk, then run again (it was more of a shuffle, def not a run!!) We saw sunrise coming up over the mountains at one point- it was beautiful! I wanted to stay and watch but knew I had a goal :) 

FINALLY the finish line!!!!!!!! I made it across at 26:38! Under my original goal of 28hrs. Wow, I was hurting, tired and so emotionally drained. It was the hardest race of my life, but probably the most rewarding. I could not have done it without my awesome parents and boyfriend helping me for the past 8 months and pushing me along during the race.

FINISH LINE!!... with a bit of a run :)

Best pacers a girl could ask for

Still doing ok in the medical tent-- don't worry, just icing my knee

The race was wonderful, beautiful views, not much technical trail, great aid stations (although they ran out of water at a couple of the beginning unmanned aid stations), great runners and volunteers and an overall great day! I'm already starting to forget the bad and just remember the good. Now I need to find a new goal, will it be another 100?? Probably....

Pineland Farms 50mile

Pineland Farms 50m has been on my "to-do" list of races in New England, I've heard from several runners it's a fun event. I needed a 50m before VT so I signed up! It ended up being about a 4 1/2 hr drive, not horrible!

I checked the weather about 100 times before race day- it kept chaning from rain to no rain, to rain, to no rain! I packed my car with about everything I thought I would need-whether there was rain OR no rain! On my drive up, it was pouring the entire way! I finally got in mid afternoon and picked up my packet, by the time I walked back to my car I was drenched. No way did I want to sit at my campsite the rest of the day/evening. So I googled the closest Starbucks, which was about 45 minutes away. I ended up in Freeport, ME which is an adorable little town! Full of outlets!!! And not normal outlet shops- but North Face! Patagonia! LL Bean! It was an outdoorsy, outlet haven!!! By then the rain had dwindled so I was able to walk around a bit and enjoy the cute town. For dinner, I had to get the Maine specialty- lobster roll and a hard cider, YUM! On my way back to the campground, it started raining again, I decided to just sleep in the car- didn't feel like putting up a tent in the rain and then putting it away in the rain :(

Freeport ME in the rain

Morning of the race, it was... Raining, of course. Stayed in my car as long as possible to try and stay a bit dry. Finally made it out to the Start line.... and got drenched. After a few words from the RD, we were off!

I have never seen so much mud before! And I've even done a couple Tough Mudders! This was relentless mud, and for the majority of the loops. Each loop was about 16 miles, I would guess about 10 miles was in constant mud- thick, "get your foot stuck", slippery mud. It definitely slowed everyone down. And through each loop- it just got worse.

I ended up running with quite a few people- met a few guys that had run VT100 a few times, so I drilled them with my many 100 miler questions I had about the race. It seemed like quite a few of the runners I was around were also using this race as a training race for a 100 miler. Kind of made me think that I was on track with my training :) The loops were pretty, part in the woods on cross country ski trails that looped along- you could almost always see someone on another part of their loop across the way. The other half of the loop was out in the open in the fields- again, you could almost always see someone ahead or behind you.

I left a drop bag (my first time with drop bags!) at the start/finish which I saw three times, but I never ended up stopping- always felt like a waste of time. I did use my new Ultraspire Hydration pack, it was a small 1 L bladder that I ended up filling a few times, but my shoulders never hurt as they do with my larger pack! It has quite a few pockets on the front- kept stashing food from aid stations in there :) I did realize my new favorite aid station food- PICKLES!! It was an amazing salty, watery food! Besides the mud, the race went well- felt strong the entire time, and really tried pushing it so I could finish under 10 hours. I realized in the last 5 miles or so that I would make it under 10 and tried to keep picking up the pace. I finished in 9:46! I was very pleased with my time, given the muddy conditions. Not sure if I will go back next year- three loops is plenty of times to see the same course! BUT it was a great race, very organized and great volunteers/RD. Overall, great race!!

Muddy!!! Ruined my favorite Lululemon tights :(

Won my Age Group! Bottle of syrup

I was HUNGRY after the race!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bear Mountain Marathon-North Face Endurance Race

I was really looking forward to this race, new lots of people running and it was sponsored by North Face! I figured we would get lots of great gear! I was a bit worried because it was exactly a week after my Promise Land 50k and was eager to see how my legs would hold up. Thomas was able to join in the fun and signed up for the marathon with me.

We camped close to the race the night before and got to the start with plenty of time to anxiously wait. The race went fairly uneventful, lots of short climbs, rocky, rocky and more rocky. It was a bit more technical than my liking- especially after PL which is mostly fire roads!

I decided to  not wear my watch for this race- which is a HUGE deal for me! I normally look at my watch constantly! I just wanted to go out and run how I felt instead of how I thought I should be running. I was still recovering from PL 50k and wanted to kind of take it easy and just have fun. It was so freeing not having a watch, I think I enjoyed the race a bit more without the stress of a timer. I have started keeping my watch at home on some of my training runs as well- and I actually love it!

The race was beautiful- a few from the race...

1. LOTS of TRASH! I have never seen so much trash on a race course before! I threw away over a few handfuls by the end of the day.

2. Lots of short climbs!

3. Too commercial, too many people trying to sell me things at the finish line. I would much rather be at a small, local race that donates money to the trails instead of into someones pocket.

4. Great trails and great markings, lots of single track, goes along some pretty lakes and even the AT. I will def go back and do some hiking/camping/running at Bear Mtn State Park again.

5. Great finish line food/festivities. Loved seeing all the other Bimblers there at the finish!

Few pics...


Lovely 50k Bimblers


So happy :)

Lake along the trail

One of many climbs

Happy to be done :)