Monday, February 26, 2007

Give it up

I'm not a rah-rah Catholic, but I do attend church once in a blue moon. Last week, I attended Ash Wednesday service for the first time in years. I would venture to guess that the last time I went on Ash Wednesday was back when I was living with my parents or sometime in collge, so it was nice to go back. Sure, I, like many, have my reservations about the Catholic church, but that won't keep me from going and believing what I believe. What is that exactly? I'm not quite sure, which is why I like to go from time to time to try and find out. Not sure how much progress I'm making, either.

I'm probably one of the least likely people you'd expect to be a chuch goer, too. Well, I am.

So with Ash Wednesday comes fasting as well as giving something up. My mom likes to say we don't have to give something up, we just have to do something to become closer to God. I still like to give something up and usually it's along the lines of sweets, beer, peanut butter, etc. This year I made it 3 things - chocolate, peanut butter, and swearing.

Yes, swearing.

On top of that, every time I swear, I have to do 10 push-ups. I had been doing 7 a pop on my own while waiting for food to cook, during commercials, etc, but I've decided to up the ante. Not on my knees, aka "girl" push-ups, either. When doing my 7, I'd really focus on form by going slowly, doing them with my hands on a foam roller or with one on a medicine ball, etc. When at home, I'd also try to do them in front of the entertainment stand since I sould see my reflection in the glass door. That way I'd really be able to keep an eye on my form.

The words in question, or that 'count', are basically every four letter word out there that you can think of. Even the most minor, such as '@ss', 'd*mn', 'sh1t', and 'h3ll'. No mention of the Big G, either, or else I have to hit the ground and knock out 10. I'm on the honor system with this, too.

While riding the trainer yesterday, I lamented aloud about how my chest hurt.

"Stop swearing," my sister dryly replied.

Has it worked?

Well, let's just say I've had some good/bad days. Not sure how to define that, either, but I think I have cut back on swearing.

I still have about 30 to do yet today for my morning potty mouth and maybe 20+ from my potty mouth last night. *sigh*

By April 9th, I might be closer to Demi Moore in "GI Jane" than I am to God.

Whatever works

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Answer: Most definitely

Question: Wait is up. Do you still want the slot?

Regarding my post about 3 weeks ago titled "The Waiting Game", apparently 3 was my lucky number. I got news yesterday that I made it into The Bull Run Run 50-Miler this spring. Hard to believe this year will mark my 4th 'battle'. I'm looking forward to the challenge, however my goals will be a little different this year.

With past times of 11:03, 11:14 (spent too much time chatting and not running my own race), and 12:01 (rain, mud, temps dropping 20 degrees over the course of the day), I would most definitely like to break 11 hours this year.

Do able?


My training is getting there and I have a few 'tests' coming up in the next few weeks that will give me a good idea of how my training really is going. However, running a bunch of PRs isn't my goal. Yes, I'd like to better my times from previous years.. isn't that the point of doing the same race year after year. And doing so would be icing on the cake, but something to reflect on after MMT. MMT is my goal.. my elephant.

April will be a busy month and a time to hone my nutrition and mental game plan, which is why doing this race 5 weeks before MMT is so important.

I am looking forward to both.. most definitely.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I had my first true test this weekend as I did a training run out in George Washington National Forest with a few from the VHTRC. In prep for the MMT 100 in May, there are 5 organized runs on sections of the course. This was the 3rd and the first I was able to make it to.

This past week, the area got a few inches of snow along with some ice. The temp hasn't been much over freezing, either. I wasn't sure what to expect in the mountains - terrain wise and weather wise.

After a comfy 4 hrs of sleep, we were up and at 'em and out the door by 4:40am for the 2+ hour drive to the mountains. Temp in the car registered at 26 degrees outside. Perfect!

The crew of about 15-20 runners assembled then carpooled over to Moreland Gap where the run started. Having never been on the trails before, I didn't know what to expect. I don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Never the less, we were off at 8am. More appropriately, they were off and I was left to bring up the rear.

Long day short, it was quite the adventure. I covered the 24 or so miles (with 8 of them only being on the actual course) in 7 hours including 2 aid station stops, 'scaling' my way around an icy patch of trail, and sliding off the trail ribs first into a tree. I was wearing my RimRunner Camelbak and had a water bottle in one of the side pockets, so that took the brunt of the impact as evident by the huge dent in it. My nutrition was okay except the valve to my Camelbak kept freezing, so I had to take the bite valve off to get water. Most of the time I ran alone, which was fine, but negative thoughts creeped into my mind, and they got in there early.

"If I'm at the back of 20 people, will I be bringing up the rear of 160?"

"How to I expect to make the aid station cut offs when all I'm doing is walking?"

"Not only am I walking, but I'm just walking"

"Do I really think I can do this in 3 months?"

Three months.

I was running with two other people the last 8+ miles - one was an experienced ultra runner and the other was doing MMT as her first 100 just like me. He talked the whole time, which was fine as he metioned specific mileage of the section of trail we'd be on, possible weather conditions, what time of day it would be, how we might be feeling, etc. I mentioned that I wasn't in MMT shape and he was quick to correct me.

"You've never done MMT, so you don't know what it's like to be in MMT shape. If you've done it before, you'd know what shape you need to be in to finish."

I may not know what MMT shape is, but I have three months to get there.

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time"

MMT is my elephant. I need to break it down into manageable, bite size pieces.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

As seen on TV

I know it's a bit freaky that I eat breakfast at work. A little freakier is that I eat (fake) sausage and eggs. Probably the freakiest of it all is that I cook my eggs in the microwave.

Don't judge.

They cook well and fully and are nice and fluffy.

I try to hide my freakiness from my coworkers when making said breakfast at anytime of the day.. because breakfast is good anytime of the day.. but sometimes I fail.

Today, I failed.

I had a coworker point and laugh and comment "oh my gosh!"

Yep.. eating breakfast at 5:30pm on a Thursday in the office. Cracking eggs into a coffee mug and dumping the yolks in a styrafoam cup.

"I've never seen anyone do that with an egg. I've always seen it on TV, but never in real life!"

The ability to separate the egg white from the yolk. Never seen before in person. I should take my act on the road.. or at least out of the office.

"About your social life.."

First off, I know I don't have much of one. Second of all, when one doesn't have much of a social life, is the next step down hibernation?

I'm about to find out.

I received some 'bad news' in the form of an email earlier this week. Sometimes email is a good medium, but when the note starts off "you might want to sit down," I knew I was in for it. Hell, having heared that before I had an idea of what to expect, but I didn't expect to hear this so soon.

Here's the deal.

I have a lot planned for the next.. oh, 5 months or so. I have 2 'A' events - one in May and another at the end of July. The one in July as been planned since last July and the one in May has been in the making for 2 years. It has been on the radar for those 2 years and now it fits the schedule.

The problem is my schedule doesn't fit the schedule of other people.

The problem is people don't 'get' what I do. And at times I don't get it, either. I just know I enjoy it.

I don't expect anyone to come out for 25-50k long training runs with me. If you do, great. I won't rope you in to being my sherpa or make you come spectate at races. If you want to, great.

Call this selfish of me, but this is my time. These are my 5 months. Training/racing isn't my life, but it's what I'm doing for the next 5 months. It is time consuming and at times it will be all consuming. I might eat like a monk and drink like Mormon, but that's my choice. Don't try to change me.

I might distance myself and not be as responsive as usual, but that's my choice. I might not be at happy hours or weekend parties because I need the extra sleep and/or miles, but that is my choice.

I've trained, and I know others have trained, for an Ironman triathlon, so there is some idea of the level of commitment involved to the training. I don't know many that have trained for a 100 mile trail run as well, and since I am new to it, I'm not going to skimp on the training. I've faked my way through an Half-Ironman before and trained/finished an Ironman when I didn't know how to properly train. There's no getting around covering 100 miles of trails. It is what it is - a long ass time to be on my feet.

So I look at my training schedule. I look at the copy I keep at work, the one in my backpack, the one at home, and the Word doc I keep open on my computer. There's not a lot of free time. I don't mind. Two years ago this trail run was but a blip on the radar screen. I want to cross it off my 'to do' list. I don't want to 'just finish'.

Everything comes with a price.

Sacrifices need to be made.

This isn't my life, but it's my next 5 months.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How I Roll

I realized how my trail runs have prepared me for long distance driving - it's all about continuous forward progress; stay fueled and, most importantly, alert, and you will reach your destination.

I started off Saturday at 4pm. I had a great nutritional system going to stay fueled for the entire trip. I started by alternating a granola bar and an apple every hour. I had my drinks, too.. water and a protein shake.

I knew at some point I needed real food, but there's not much open along the Penn Turnpike at midnight. I settled for a milkshake and a veggie burger from Burger King. Not stuff I'd normally eat, but the bod needed something 'solid'. The milkshake was generic and I can't even describe the veggie burger. First off, it was from BK.. that should say a lot there. Second, I try to be a stickler about my veggie stuff, so I asked that it be microwaved - didn't want it on the broiler with the real meat stuff. Again, that should tell you something about the quality of said burger. Third, I should've asked for 'no mayo'. When I saw the knife dip into and out of the large vat o' goo, I knew this was going to be an experiment. I took the burger and tried to wipe off as much mayo as I could before heading out to the car to eat. I'm a freak of an eater and I didn't want to subject the other midnight diners to my idiosyncrasies.

I must say, the first bite was decent. Not as bad as expected. I had one of these burgers in the BWI airport back in 2002 or so when they first came out. There was enough lettuce and tomatoes to cover up the taste. Second bite, I realized why it had been since 2002 since I last had one. Third bite, I finally looked at what I was eating. The mayo I couldn't wipe off was dripping down my hand, I saw a pickle (I don't like pickles), and there was something sticking out of the burger. It looked like a mushroom - I don't like mushrooms - but I couldn't tell for sure. I pulled that out, as well as whatever pickles I could find, and tried to finish eating it. Fourth bite, I couldn't take it anymore. I was too worried about what else was in the burger that no amount of lettuce or tomatoes or even ketchup could cover up the taste.

Then it was all about survival. I didn't know what my body needed, so I tried everything - pop, Pop-tarts, bagels, Gatorade, etc. I must've been low on calories to start. I did a 17 mile trail run in the morning, so I don't think I properly refueled before hopping in the car. So wrong of me.

I finally reached my destination 11 hours after starting. I was tired, full, a bit delusional, but elated.

Who knew sitting for so long could be so tiring. I would've rather been running for 11 hours than sitting.

Sick, I know, but that's how I roll..

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bad Juju Vibes

I'm hoping it's not me, but I think I have some bad karma flowing.

A few weeks ago, I got my "three". Within days of each other, an aunt and uncle on my father's side passed away, and a very close neighbor friend of my aunt in Chicago.

Deaths happen in 3's, right?

Well, I just found out the father of a close friend of mine from college passed away today. Earlier, my mom sent an email saying a long time neighbor of the family has been in the hospital and was moved from ICU to Critical Care.

Stay away from me. You might be my 3rd.

It's quite the downer, I must say..

EDIT: I figured out my 3rd - father of a girl I knew grade school through middle school. You can all rest now for at least a couple weeks.

And the neighbor did pass away Thursday

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Motivation and Demotivation

One reason I enjoy trail running is the solitude. Being out on the trails for 10+ hours will give you time to think. Letting your mind wander is a whole new ball game as it leads to loss of concentration, ergo tripping, stumbling, etc.

I did this particular run 2 years ago for the first time and had a goal this year to beat my 2005 time. Isn't that the point of doing the same race at least a second time? a thrid? a fourth? I wasn't sure what I was capable of the second half of the run, so I pushed myself. I raced. I had a lot of positives in my favor, as well as negatives. Here's a list of thoughts and wanderings - what helped me keep going hard, and some random thoughts of the "you've been on the trail too long" variety.

Thoughts.. aka what kept me going
- Time
- Fear
- Doubters
- Having a heart rate monitor that beeps ever 15 minutes and/or 30 minutes - I hardly looked at it, so I don't really know.
- My lengthening shadow - knowing sunset is nearing
- The voices behind me - if I walk, they might walk; if I run, they might be too tired to run with me.
- The sloshing of my water bottles - they eerily sound like the footsteps of someone behind me.
- The runner up ahead - the first sign that a race is actually going on as you haven't seen anyone, other than aid station volunteers, for at least 6 miles.
- Catching and passing that runner up ahead - pick 'em off one at a time.
- Mud - the thicker it is, the more fun it is to run through
- Stream crossings - you have to clean off the mud somehow.

Mental Wanderings
- Time - it's tough to do math.
- "What are those 3 RV's doing out in the woods?" - I thought to myself.. as I started to walk off the trail to get a better look.. at the downed trees, which actually turned out to be a brige I was supposed to cross.
- Get back on the trail
- "Deer!" - The red, brown colored 'animals' were actually reminents of a tree.
- The white tents up ahead = aid station!
- Frustration as those 'white tents' are just 'white rocks'
- It doesn't hurt, it's just sore.
- A heart rate that has dropped from 155 bpm to 120 bpm - should I be worried?
- Fingers and hands so fat they look like little vienna sausages.. can't see any lines, wrinkles, knuckles, or make a tight fist - should I be worried?
- Stopping. It's tough to get going again knowing those last 2 miles are a looong 2 miles.

Stopping is also a good thing especially when it's accompanied by a half dozen people. Yknow, the one's still left hanging around the bonfire and/or the volunteers. Those are the ones.. clapping for you as you follow the zigzag trail marked by the checkered flags to the finish line - the end of a fence. No Mike Reilly. No loud thumpa, thumpa music.

Just some hearty souls, good soup, and warm clothing waiting at the end.

That's what keeps me going.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Waiting Game

Lucky #3.

At least I'm hoping it's lucky.

It's not uncommon for popular triathlons to fill quickly. Typically, the registration for Ironman's in North America fill within hours of it opening. When I know that I want to do a particular IM the next year, I'm usually on the ball and register ASAP. No problems.

I got a little lazy when registering for a popular 50-mile trail run. I kept an eye on the entry list when registration opened Jan 23rd. I filled it what I was supposed to online then printed out the entry form to mail in later. I left it at work over the weekend and saw the entry list at 315 Saturday. Well, lazy me didn't drop it in the box until Monday night. I checked the website and saw that registration was full. Luckily there's a waiting list.

I'm #3 on the list.

So now I wait.. 6-8 weeks. I will wait. I won't sit idle, staring at the entry list to see if my name will appear. No, I will continue to train as if I will line up with 350+ others at 6:15am.

What sucks, though, is that it's someones misfortune that will be my gain. It will come down to 3 people falling victim to injury, lack of training, or something else to allow me to do this race. I wish to not know the circumstances. I can only hope to be a good replacement and have a good race.

Until then, I will wait.