Friday, March 30, 2007

"You're so good"

So I brush my teeth at work a couple times a day.

Big whoop.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Check these off the list

- 4:30AM wake up for a 5:00AM 'date'

- Running with a dog leash in my hand and a dog at the other end of said leash.

- Picking up dog poop with a plastic bag on my hand.

I never thought I'd see the day.

Heck, I never thought I'd be caught dead driving a PT Cruiser, but I was 'forced'** to do so a few weeks ago.

We all have to experience a piece of hell once in a while, right? I'd rather pick up my own crap with a plastic bag on my hand than drive a PT Cruiser. No apologies to any PT Cruiser drivers out there, either.

So it must mean something when a cat lady as myself does this..

**When renting a car a few weeks back, the only thing available in my 'size' was the PT. I could've had a Dodge Charger for $20/day more, but declined

Monday, March 26, 2007

On the rise

Recent race results have surprised me this early in the year. Most of the time, I use the HAT Run 50k as a gauge to figure out how I'm doing so far. With training for MMT 100 this year, I'm still leery with how to approach races and training runs. I know nutrition, hydration, and pacing are key things to practice each weekend. I know I have to look at the big picture and realize that MMT is the race.. my 'A' race. I know I shouldn't try to set a PR at all these races I'm doing leading up to MMT.

But there's that competitive side in me.

I did the HAT Run this past weekend for the 5th time. It was my first ultra back in 2003, so I feel a need to come back every year. There's a bit of pride and a sense of accomplishment in completing HAT each year since this was the steppingstone race to my ultra life so far. I remember back to the end of 2002 when I had just completed Ironman Wisconsin in September, Baltimore marathon in October, and the Philly marathon in November. Despite running 3 marathons in 3 months, I was sick of running. I had no motivation. I would've rather had a root canal than go our running. It wasn't fun anymore. My (then) boss, an avid running and ultra runner, knew this, and put the entry form for HAT on my chair. I pinned it to the wall of my cube, so it was staring at me every day until I finally took it down and mailed in my entry fee.

In race conditions similar to those of this past weekend, I finished in 6:47.

This year, I finished in 5:59:03

There are many similarities in both races, mainly what I did wrong. I did a lot wrong that first year not having run trails before or anything over a marathon. Saturday, I did a lot wrong having run trails before, specifically this race 4 times. I figure I know what I'm doing and get lax on specifics - nutrition, hydration, and pacing, which were the 3 things I should've been focusing on.

Nutrition was better and continues to get better. I went with the 2 bottle waist pack again and carried super concentrated Carbo Pro in one bottle and water in the other. The CP had (I had hoped) enough calories (244 cals per serving) to get me through the first 15 miles in addition to a GU (100 cals) every hour. I had only a couple potato quarters dipped in salt at miles 10, 15, 20, and 25. At the halfway (15) point, I grabbed another of CP in my drop bag and had to suck on a bottle of GPush 1 (yes, it was discontinued 3 yrs ago) and took in about 8 oz. So here's the breakdown..

First loop
244 x 3 servings = 732 cals
Gu (100) x 3 = 300
Total - 1,032
*add in some potatoes, maybe 8 oz of Gatorade as I had to top off my bottle at mile 10.

Second loop - same totals.

*include 100 more calories for misc items - gatorade, G1, Coke, and potatoes. Probably a little generous.

Overall - 2,164 calories

I'm trying to ingest a max of 350 cals/hr, so I should've had 2100 calories for the day. Not bad. I still felt a little under as I was craving the G1 at the turn. I think not having enough calories/carbs stored up did me in there.

I carried 1 bottle of water in addition to the bottle of CP. First loop, I made the mistake of drinking only that 1 bottle in 15 miles. Yes. Bad me. I knew this was bad and made sure to finish the bottle and refill at each aid station. Felt better. Need to work on sodium intake as I only took out 8 Succeed tabs with me and ended up bumming an Enduralyte from a pal out on the course. Should consider increasing the dosage to 1 tab every 30-35 min instead of 1/hr.

Horrible. I got out fast like I wanted to, and entered the trail in a good spot - ahead of the big chatters and walkers. I should've slowed down a bit at this point and run my race instead of that of the person in front of me. I knew then, and kept telling myself, that I was going to crash and burn on the 2nd loop. It was close. The last 5 miles were run on dead legs, guts, fumes, and sheer will power to finish. I got to the midway point in 2:55 and figured I could finish close to 6 hrs, so I pushed the pace.. and myself. I raced instead of run/paced the course. It was no longer a training race, but a chance to PR by a big margin. I was thinking about the 'now' instead of MMT in the future. Dumb.

Timewise, I am very happy with finally breaking the 6 hour mark - barely. There were a few changes in the course that added more flat roads to run on, which probably helped with my overall time.

Takeaways from this weekend include improvement on the follow:

-Nutrition: Homey here needs to lay off the Pop-Tarts. I have 3 singles in my pocket and grabbed 4 quarters before leaving this morning. I was tempted. I did a 'fly by' of the devil machine.. yknow, just to check. *sigh* My precious was there, but I just gave a nod as if to say "'sup", did an about face and walked away.

-Stretching: I am so friggin tight. Core took a beating on the muddy/slippery course and I am paying for it with sore everything from mid back down to hammies. I'm also feeling twinges in my left ITB. Not good with lots coming up in the next few weeks.

All in all, lots of positives to build on. It has been a good year so far and continues to improve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jackpot! Feeding my addiction

It's been 4 weeks since I gave up peanut butter and chocolate (and sort of beer) for Lent. I'll admit to getting the occasional PB 'fix' by having peanuts (allowed!) and Pad Thai Tofu.. ordering it and forgetting there are peanuts in it. I also included a loophole by allowing my chocolate whey protein shakes, but everything else is off limits.

With that, I have had to find a replacement.. something to help fill the void.

And I think I found it.


For the love of Mary, I have been craving Pop-tarts like nobody's business!! I pass by the "devil machine" each morning at my metro stop "just to check" and then I end up feeding it my dollar. The flavor of the week has been Frosted Strawberry, which is the good 'ol, can't-go-wrong standby. However, hiding in the back is my faaaavorite..

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

As I reach down to pluck my purchase from the bowels of the devil machine, I playfully paw at the glass.. yearning for that deluctable faux-pastry that alternates the spiral with Frosted Strawberry.

"one of these days.." I think to myself.

"Why don't you just buy a box?" my sister seriously asks me. Seriously? If I bought a box it would be gone in one sitting. Gone. Just crumbs and wrappers surrounding me and my bloated belly. Worth it? For those 10 minutes.. maybe.

So I can't even describe the sheer joy I experienced as I walked up to the machine Tuesday morning to "just take a look" and to see my precious waiting for me and my dollar.

.. and again last night!..

.. and again this morning!..

Before I left home, I was looking through another backpack and previously worn jeans for change. I swear I've spent almost $10 in the last 2 weeks on these things.


Monday, March 19, 2007


I needed a weekend like this.

I wanted to be lazy and I was. It wasn't meant to be like this, but it just happened.

I needed it.

I've been going hard the past 3 weeks. Training has been picking up with back to back runs the past 3 or 4 weeks - longer one Saturday and a shorter 'recovery' run Sunday. I was scheduled for a couple rides this weekend to complement a couple rugby matches that were eventually cancelled because of poor field conditions.

No additional running.

Just walking.

So I took the time to do a few things around the house - get caught up on laundry, dishes, picking up, etc. I also took the time to.. well, to be social.. let's put it that way. My coach had warned me a few weeks ago that my social life would take a nose dive, and on the contrary, it has picked up. Other things, however, have taken a back seat, notably laundry, dishes, and picking up.

It's worth it.

So I spent the weekend being somewhat lazy athletically, but productive socially. It was nice to spend time leisurly shopping, cooking an okay dinner, making dessert, watching most of a movie, trying to watch the rest of it the next morning, napping, eating, then napping more. Who knew time went by so fast when you did absolutely nothing!

It was great. I loved every minute of it.

I can't predict when or if that will happen again, but I enjoyed it while I could. It was as nice a physical break as it was a mental break, and now I'm ready to dive back in.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Humbled - Part Deux

This past weekend I joined in with The Virginia Happy Trails Running Club for MMT Training run #4 in the series of 5. This week we were to run from Moreland Gap up to Elizabeth Furnace - mile 67.7 to 96.8 of the course. Back on February 18th, I joined in for training run #3, which had to be rerouted from the original intended course. However, I did get to experience Short Mountain covered in snow and ice, and would able to see it Saturday in all its rocky glory.

Just as it happened 3 weeks ago, I was the one bringing up the rear as we left Moreland Gap at 8am. I had seen this section before and had an idea of course, but no clue to the rockiness of the terrain since it was covered in snow. Everyone forged ahead and all I could think of was "here we go again". I tried to keep the second to last runner in sight as my carrot to keep moving. I have no problem running by myself, but it's just discouraging when everyone TAKES OFF.

It's a few miles to the top. We have about 30 miles to do for the day. I let them go.

Throughout Short Mountain, I move cautiously, yet as swiftly as I can. I reach the aid station only 15 minutes faster than 3 weeks ago. A bit discouraged, but I have caught up with 8 other runners. I am happy to be with the group since the next 22 miles are all new to me. We leave together, run down the fire road, and enter the trail for yet another long climb to the top of Powell Mountain. The weather is gorgeous and the trail very runable when it's not going uphill at a 5% incline. Again, I just keep moving. I keep the others in sight and try to gain some ground with some short bursts up the hill for a few yards.

Every little bit counts as it's more than just 'time on my feet'. Today is about practicing nutrition. I guess on the high end that it will take me 10 hours to finish. I guess on the high end that I need 350 calories/hour to stay fueled. On most days, 3500 calories is what I'll eat in a day. I use a mix of Powerbars, Clif bars, Clip2, CarboPro, GU, and Ensure to try to meet my goal.

I thought the section along Powell Mountain was very runable. I was able to catch up with, and then pass, a few runners while latching on to others for company and conversation. Sometimes talking leads to slowing and, and if that happened, I went ahead a little ways and ran at my own pace. This is a training run and meant to simulate race day-like situations. I don't want to be in a situation like that where I get too comfortable running someone elses pace/race.

Rolling into minimal, but welcomed aid, at Woodstock, I was feeling good and wanted to keep moving. There was little water, so I saved it for others since I had my 3 liter Camelbak. I figured it would last the 5 miles (1:40) to the springs at Powell's Fort. Another good section to run and I stayed with 4 other runners most of the 5 miles. The spring was a welcome relief. I tried to keep my break close to 5 minutes and took the time to refill my bottles, camelbak, and to rinse off my face. This next section was a long ATV/fire road that I will definately be running/hobbling during the race to help gain some time. For now, it was a chance to chat about MMT, VHTRC, and just the day. It was a welcomed break some 5 and a half hours on my feet. They were feeling each and every rock, so the stream crossing was a nice break, too, to help cool them off.

Three of the four I had been running with went ahead and I eventually followed, leaving the fourth behind. We soon picked up the Tuscaroroa trail and had a nasty, winding climb to Meneka where Tuscarora eventually started going downhill for about four miles to the end. I heard the voices of the four up ahead, but could never catch them. I was zapped on the downhill and shuffled a lot. Negative thoughts creeped back into my mind - "if this is how I feel when running the last section on fresh legs, how on earth will I survived after the first 2/3 of the course?"

Some questions are to be left unanswered until a later time.

I ran into the Signal Knob parking lot after being on my feet for just under 8 hours. My car, fresh clothes, and my bare feet slipped into my Crocs were what I craved. I was one of the last 4 to finish, but there was a good crowd of folks still partying in the parking lot just waiting to welcome us home.

I look up at the mountains and I am in awe. "I just came from up there," I think to myself, leaning forward in the car to get a glimpse up and out of the front windshield. It's a max height of 2700 ft or so somewhere, but it sure seem like a lot more when you're out there hoofin it.

I managed to do a slow, easy 8 miles or so mid-Sunday afternoon. My feet were tender as a I ran a loop of the 24-ATR course, but the muscles felt good. I had to fast walk a few of the short climbs, but I was moving.

So this is what it feels like to get into "MMT Shape".

Some questions will be answered at later time.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Becoming the person I don't want to be.

It seems like my last post was a little too nonchalant regarding the distance. I think about it now and it almost has a 'ho hum' ring to it.

I don't want it to come across that way. I don't want me to come across as someone who doesn't respect a marathon, half-marathon, or any shorter distance. I do, I just prefer 10-milers and half-marathons on up. That's just me. It's not that I'm particularly fast or good, I just enjoy that amount of time out on the trails or road.

I remember running my first 50K back in March of 2003. There was a section where the runners are in an open field and another runner struck up a conversation with me. He had mentioned how he had just done a 100k overseas, a marathon the week before that, a 50-miler before that, and at least a marathon every weekend.

I was in awe. I didn't realize people did that, or that they could do that. He seemed so nonchalant about it, too, like it was just another way to spend his weekend.

I have become that person.

It's not that I intended to do it.. it just.. happened.

I will be back at that 50k again later this month for the 5th time. I might be that person chatting it up about how this race is the second of three 50ks in 5 weeks and how I'm training for a 100-miler, etc. But I don't want it to come off as 'ho-hum'. I've learned a lot from the random people I've met during races, but I can't forget about where I started from and the people I met at the local 5K or 8K race.

Maybe someday I'll return.

I was running a few mile repeats on the track the other night. Nothing particularly fast, but it got me thinking how fast I could run a stand-alone mile.. flat out. This was something similar to last year when I was lifting a few days before a big race and wondered how much I could max out on the bench press. That wasn't a smart idea, but the mile got the mental juices flowing.

Sure, I'll try it again soon, but I know I won't be able to get my time down as far as I'd like to while training for what I am. Maybe after the 100 I'll work on that mile. Maybe after the 100 I'll work on getting that 5K from 26 minutes down to 24:xx. Maybe I'll try that bench press again, but build up to it over the course of a few weeks instead of over the course of a few sets in one day (see... not smart).

But for now, I'm that person.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How many miles are you planning to run today?

that is what I asked a woman Saturday when I saw her get off course 3 times

This was a big weekend. It was the start of big weekends to come in the next 5-6 weeks.

I am 11 weeks away from my 100-miler. This was the first 'big' weekend leading up to it. In the next 6 weeks, I have three 50k races or training runs as well as a 50-miler. I looked at my schedule a few weeks ago wondering how I'd be able to do it all.. would my body hold up to the pounding.. am I really in shape?

This weekend was my first test.

I could've headed out to the Shenandoah this weekend for some climbing miles, but opted for my first big back-to-back weekend. I had tentatively scheduled to do the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon on Saturday, and then the B&A Half-Marathon on Sunday. One is point-to-point and held on dirt trails, while the other is an out-and-back course on a rails-to-trails 'trail'. The Seneca trails are very running runable and I figured the B&A would be a nice complement since it's a very flat course with a mild hill at the turnaround and a slight downhill the 6 miles back.

Relatively 'easy' day 2 miles.

I had done the Seneca marathon last year, so I registered a 'time to beat'. Conditions were much different, though, as last year it was a dry course, but the temperature was ridiculously cold and windy. This year, the temps were in the high 40s/low 50s, but most of the trail was either covered in ice or ankle deep mud. It was manageable, but after running in the mud for so long, it started to wear on me. You start to 'feel' those extra few ounces of mud caked on your shoes everytime you pull your foot out. You start to 'feel' how hard those smaller muscles around your hips and glutes really have been working over the miles.

You want to be done.

The two miles between aid stations feels like four. But when you're told "you're the 6th female overall for the marathon" at mile 21-ish, you first question the number of participants ("Let me guess, there are 8 of us," I actually replied since I knew of 2 others doing the marathon) before you start to wonder how far off #5 is. Yes, I'll admit, the adrenaline kicked in, but only because I left the aid station with female #7 and didn't want anyone to pass me.

I ran in hopes of finishing in 5:30, which would've been 20 minutes faster than last year. I ran to practice moving fast, or faster than I normally would, with tired legs. I ran up runable hills that I would normally walk. I ran with lighter and quicker steps.. hey, even if it didn't look like it, I tried to get it to feel like that.

With less than a half mile to the final aid station 2.5 miles from the finish, I caught up with #5. She left a little before me with another runner who acted as her pacer. I let them go, but kept them in my sight less than 50 yards away. It wasn't until the road section, where she was slow to get off the trail, where I finally passed her. I wasn't sure if the aid station volunteer was right that I was #6, but it was the motivation I needed to keep moving at a consistent pace.

I carried that consistent pace to my race Sunday. This time around, I wanted to stick to the 10 minute run/1 minute walk routine. This was a nice flat course, so it was very doable. I also had the mile markers to go off of, so I kept my mile splits, then walked at 10 minutes, 21 minutes, 32 minutes.. etc. I would eat/drink while walking, too, and planned on using what I had in my 2 bottle waist pack - no reliance on the aid stations.

I tried to keep my goals modest since I was using this race as a test, not as a race. I wasn't out to set any PRs, but hoped to finished between 2:00-2:15. I was very sore Saturday night and spent a lot of time stretching, and because of that I was feeling surprisingly well Sunday morning. I nixed any warm-up (never do one anyways) and just went with the gun. I was worried I was going out too fast with 9:45 and 9:41 mile splits for the first two miles with the third coming in at 9:51 and fourth at 9:57. I finally settled in and focused on my heart rate. It was tough having to walk, but stuck with it anyway.. and I looked forward to the walk breaks.

Mile 10 split was 9:11. Thank you, gradual downhill on the way back. At this point, I was doing the mental math and knew I would finish closer to 2:00 than 2:15. Sub 2?? The last walk break was around mile 11. This had turned into a race. I thought I could go sub 2:05, but the finish for the half was back at the school - about half a mile further than I expected. I still finished with a good time and was very pleased with the back-to-back runs/races.

One thing I try to take away from big training weekends are 'what can I do to improve for the next weekend?' In the past it has been core, nutrition, etc. This weekends lesson was rest.. I need more of it to recover. I had a total of 7 hrs of sleep over the weekend. I'm I night person and a morning person. By Saturday afternoon, I was exhausted while out shopping and had to nap in the car. I slept on the sofa that night. Exhausted. Muscle wise, I felt good. Even now, 2 days later, I have very little soreness. That is a good thing.

I have another big test this weekend with more to come. I'd like to think I passed, but the learning process continues.