Saturday, May 30, 2015

14 days

my next race is in 14 days.  while i feel prepared to run it i don't feel like i can attain my goal of a PR... even if it is only 3 min difference from my previous PR.  i've been running so sporadically since mid-march.  i did not meet my goal mileage in april due to a nagging ankle thing and barely ran at all the couple of weeks prior to ice age.  after ice age i tried to get back into the swing of things, but really haven't managed to do so.

i'm at about 80something miles for the month of may.  funny that 30 of them were from ice age.  i'm probably going to finish this month out with about 90 if i get 10 in tomorrow... i wanted 10 today but the weather is not cooperating.  i might still be able to do it but it won't be until after 5pm if it stops raining.

my speed just isn't where i would like it to be to finish rock 'n sole with the time i would like.  thankfully it's such a fun race that maybe i won't care about missing my PR goal.

i keep wondering if it's possible to get faster as i age.  that is my desire.  it is also my desire to maybe veer away from road races next year.  i have one race per month from now until october.  an even number of 1/2's - road to trail with a road marathon to end the season.  i might also do longer distances next year.  less races with longer distances.  time will tell...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Heart the City (5K)

Heart the City (5K) - May 16th, 2015
time = 24:30
pace = 7:52
placed 1st in my age group (40-44) out of 2
placed 1st in women out of 40
placed 2nd overall out of 53

i had no intentions of running a race so close to ice age yet here i am running a race the weekend after ice age.  i ran this race as part of supporting milwaukee foot and ankle specialists which is where i work.  i enjoy my job and i enjoy my bosses and co-workers so what better way to spend a few hours on a saturday morning?  to add the best part is that this race supports (in part) the balm shelter which is a non-profit organization helping those in need obtain basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing.  being that this is their inaugural race there were definitely some bumps in the road, but that in no way detracted from the fun.

the husband and i arrived at the park an hour before the race with our dogs (a 40min drive from home) to overcast and drizzle.  the park was nearly empty which i thought was strange given that there was a race occurring within the hour.  i've never been to a new race so it all makes sense in hindsight.  we parked easy peasy which was awesome and i used the bathroom.  there were no port-o-potties to speak of which was also odd for a race.  again... once considering the size of the race this all makes sense.

the race wasn't very organized but given the number of people this didn't pose any sort of problem and i received my t-shirt and bib uneventfully and with ample time to prepare for the race.  i found my work peeps and we talked some.

pre-race ~ photo by brant mccartan
when it was go time they lined up the 10K runners first and wanted the 5K runners behind.  i thought that we were going to be starting out staggered, but that wasn't the case either.  we all started at the same 10am start time.  i took off and was ahead of almost everyone before we got out of the park and onto city streets.  the feel of the race was so casual i was wondering if anyone was actually racing it.  when the 10K runners turned right and crossed the street and the 5K runners ran forward i realized that I WAS THE FRONTRUNNER!  i am NEVER the frontrunner!  THIS IS AMAZING!  i really should run dinky brand new races more often. lol!

the course was marked with periodic spray painted "5K"s and arrows on the ground so i was a little confused after about 1/2 mile because the markings disappeared in a residential area.  i kept looking behind me to see if i was alone (i wasn't), and had gone the wrong way (i hadn't).  it was then that i noticed the water stops on the other side of the street so i knew with certainty i was on the right track.  the fact that they were across a street with traffic caused me to briefly wonder if this was an out and back before i remembered it was a loop.  they were just set up on the wrong side of the street... yikes!  so that was a bummer if you need to stop for water because the streets were not blocked off...  i assume because we were running on the sidewalks.  i never stop at water stops on a 5K anyway so this wasn't an issue for me, but i imagine it would be for some of the other runners in the race.

there was this guy with a stroller (containing what i can only imagine to be a 40lb child) gaining on me!  let me tell you... my rubber necking this whole stretch proved to be my downfall because the constant looky looing slowed me down something fierce.  by 1.5 miles this guy was passing me while praising my pace.  i muttered something about having run a 50K the weekend before (to save face of course) and then i spent the remainder of the race trying to catch him and his kid in the stroller.  he effortlessly created more and more space between us.  much like what is asked of a person in a yoga class... you know what i mean... create space in your body with your breath?  yeah... only he was doing it without breaking a sweat between us on the bike path.

i watched him get smaller and smaller as i got slower and slower.  such is the way my 5K cookie always crumbles.

positive splits... bane of my 5K existance
the upside is that the loop around allowed me to see that there wasn't anyone behind me to worry about.  my right quad was burning and didn't feel good.  not sure if that is something i should be concerned about or if it's just residual from not being fully recovered from last saturday yet.  i'm going to assume i'm just not fully recovered yet and move on.

i just wanted to be done and i was so happy when i only had 1 mile left.  home stretch...

back the way we came down drexel to the park and then round the park path i can see everyone in front and behind me... so basically just the guy with the stroller and then another man pretty far behind me.  no one else to speak of.
there we are.  overall winners!  ~ photo by brant mccartan

yay!  first woman and 2nd over all... this is a first and i don't care how small the field is... I'LL TAKE IT!  hahah!

they did a fantastic job for an inaugural race.  they didn't have water right at the finish which i would suggest is a change to make for next year.  that's really important.  i had to go searching for water which wasn't awesome.  otherwise everyone involved with the event seemed really invested.  they seemed to really care about what they were doing and why they were doing it.  i had a good time and i was happy to spend a few hours with my work peeps supporting our podiatry practice and getting our name out there.  what our doctors do is fantastic work and they really love their patients and love what they do.  everything about today was all in the name of helping others and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

it is notable that yesterday lucy (aka dr. meier) pulled out the toenail on my left foot third toe since it was detaching and loose from ice age.  it hurt and feels better now that it's gone.  still hurts but feels better... you can view the video on my instagram if you're so inclined to watch that gross stuff... it's pretty great.  i lost some followers because of it. haha!
the toe held up fine and is just a little sore now.  all is well that ends well... yes?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

holy crap i ran a 50K!

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - May 9th, 2015
time = 5:34:23
pace = 10:46
placed 4th in my age group (40-49) out of 33
placed 12th in women out of 79
placed 54th overall out of 195

the only good photo in existence - by dave o'brien

tailwind (flavorless) in my waterbottle (refilled at aid stations which i supplied)
1/4 of a banana & 1/2 cp mt. dew at mile 6.6
1/4 of a pb&j & 1/2 cp mt. dew at mile 13
finished up with those same portions of banana & mt. dew at miles 18, 22, 27
turned out to be the perfect amount of everything to get me through.  i love tailwind!

top 4 age group finishers ~ missed top 3 by just over 11 minutes.
man, that's A LOT! it was those last 9mi... 
they literally murdered my time. *sigh*

i want to begin this post by saying that i had to drop out of this race last year due to injury.  i never thought i'd be able to race this distance (31.06) in the first place until a little birdie (jeff crosby) kept chirping in my ear on training runs throughout 2013 that he had total confidence that not only was i capable of running that distance, but that i could succeed in killing that distance.  so i started ruminating on it and secretly believing that i could actually do it.  i thought about it for months and then at the end of the year when the opportunity to sign up presented itself i was sitting at my computer at noon on december 15th, 2013 (with everyone else) when registration opened.  i got signed up and it was SO ON!  the race, by the way, sold out in under 2 hours.  this year's race sold out in less than that.  it's pretty insane.  

so yesterday was a redemption race for me.  it was me running this (again on an injury that derailed my training) to see if i could do it.  to prove to myself that i can do it.  really i just enjoy seeing what i'm capable of.

with all the issues i was having with my foot i have hardly run in the past couple of weeks.  i really wasn't expecting to do anything at this race except finish.  i gave up my time goal pretty early on.  my original time goal was under 5 hours (silly me), and then i ran the portion of the course that goes out to horseriders and back.  i realized that a 5 hour or less finish was unlikely and i reevaluated my time goal to be 6 hours.  given all the issues i've been having with my ankle and my gross lack of training in the past 3 weeks i really wasn't sure i'd even be able to finish in 6 hours, but i was absolutely going to try.   finishing was a certainty considering i could walk it in if necessary so that was the C goal.  to just finish... and finish i did!

i slept so badly pre-race night.  went to bed around 9:45pm and was probably up every hour or two.  just couldn't sleep.  my brain was in overdrive.  i didn't think that i was nervous or worked up about the race.  i haven't really been freaking out about it.  i was, admittedly, worried that i wouldn't do well but since i didn't really know what i was getting myself into i had no reason to really be freaked out about it.  apparently, my subconscious thought differently.  

at about 5:30am i woke to a tick galavanting across my forearm.  i promptly grabbed it, jumped out of bed, threw it in the toilet, and peed on top of it.  cuz i'm classy... why else?  we live surrounded by woods and have 2 dogs.  ticks are as a part of our everyday lives as mosquitos are for most people.  they're an annoyance that we see all the time.

i went about my morning routines... ate my before race/long run breakfast, got my gear together, got dressed, and took off for nordic.

when i arrived i picked up my packet from some friendly LPTR faces and went to look for other friends.  the 50 milers were just over an hour into their race so i met up with dave and kevin and we waited for annie, sid, and kevin's sister to run through.  we cheered on the runners and it was very exciting to watch.  the race is such a great experience all around.  there are so many friendly faces and it is comforting to be surrounded by friends.  the start/finish is loaded with people.  a huge crowd gathers to wait and watch.  friends and family hang out all day and the camaraderie of the trail running community is unmatched.  i was really excited to start (especially watching all the 50m front runners coming through), but we had about an hour more to wait.  the weather was cloudy and low 50's at the start and was supposed to get up to 70 by the time i would be finishing.  50's is perfect for racing... 70's not so perfect.  it had rained the night before which was also fantastic because that meant that the sand would not be sandy.  firm wet sand is much easier to run in than loose dry sand... fo sho!  there are parts of this race that have A LOT of sand and as the race wore on that sand dried up and became the bane of my really pained legs existence... ugh.

finally it was time to begin.

i was lined up quite close to the front... not on purpose... just worked out that way.  so i started (of course) out too fast.  my first mile was an 8:44!  ugh... not good.  so i pulled back to try and run smarter.  i didn't really manage to do that all that well and i certainly paid for it in the end as my time got slower and slower as the race came to a close.

the first 13 flew by!  this portion is run on the IA trail out to horseriders and back.  it is SO.MUCH.FUN!  it's single track trail and really fun to see the people running after the turn around.  it was cool to see the front runners run past too.  those guys are super fast!  this trail segment is so beautiful and i feel so fortunate that i get the opportunity to run here whenever i want.  the elevation is tough but the fact that it is so beautiful and bombing the hills is so fun really makes up for all the climbing.  after the recent rains it's all greening up nicely too and was all the more breathtaking for race day.  

i made certain to stop at aid stations and fill my water, drink some soda, and have some food.  i didn't want a repeat of lakefront's disaster due to fueling issues.  worked like a charm.  like i said, the first 13 flew by and next thing i knew i was heading back to the start/finish to begin the first of my two 9mi nordic loops.  

dave was waiting for me at the start/finish and told me i was 4th woman which was amazing to hear!  it definitely fueled my fire and i hugged him goodbye and ran on.  i was running really strong until mile 23 when things took a turn.  my hip flexors began to hurt something fierce.  it is notable that my left ankle (the one that's been giving me hell for weeks) was absolutely fine throughout.  weird, right?  so my hip flexors are freaking out and screaming in agony so i'm doing a bit more walking at this point and turns out that my 3rd toe on my left foot is screaming at me too so the downhills are hell which is also slowing me down.  at mile 23 two women pass me.  i am now 7th woman.  not so bad and i push on...

before i finish the first 9mi loop one more woman passes me and i'm now 8th woman.  *sigh*

i finally make it back to the start/finish and stop to refill my water and i suddenly need to cry.  the urge is so strong and overwhelming that i was having the most difficult time trying to speak and the volunteers were concerned.  they fill my water and i croak out that i'm fine and have no idea why i'm crying.  i run on.  i stop at the bathroom a few feet past the aid station to pee and take off flying as fast as my pained and exhausted legs/feet can carry me.

just an FYI:  it is impossible to cry while running... so keep running. 

the next 9mi loop is all mental.  i try to smile because that seems to help.  i probably look like an escapee from an insane asylum.  i am alternately running as fast as i can (which on the flats is still an impressive - to me anyway - 8-9ish min miles) and walking/sobbing/hyperventilating breaks.  every time someone passes me i tell myself that i don't care, and that all i want to do is finish.  i continue to count down the miles as i finish them.  

7 miles left, 6 miles left, 5 miles left...

this is how i get through the last 9 miles.  

this is me (chafed armpits) with marty at one of the last aid stations on the
final 9mi loop.  i basically wanted to die here ~ photo by mariya sorensen
when i'm less than 2 miles from the finish i get passed AGAIN by the last woman who passes me.  she also happens to be in my age group successfully shutting me out of top 3.  bummer...   again, i mutter to myself how i don't care and that everyone and their mother can pass me at this point because i just want to lay down and be done.  

then i hear the crowd.  i see this guy at the top of the hill leading into the finish and he is clapping like a mad man!  he is amazing and i decide that i LOVE him.  i thank him for being there because he is why i am now running my finish in.  he is why i feel strong again.  he is the reason that i can do this!  he is a godsend!

i run into the finish strong and as fast as i can (it wasn't very fast).  as i cross the finish i bee line for water and then i begin crying.  i need to get away from people so that i can cry in private without people asking me if i'm ok so i head to the parking lot where a couple people ask me if i'm ok.  i find a tree and squat down.  i call my husband.  they were supposed to be at the finish but were late due to my son's soccer game. i am bawling now.  it is just so overwhelming.  i am so tired and the feelings are so big.

finished! couple of blisters and probably going to lose a toenail

this race is top notch.  the volunteers are AMAZING.  seriously i cannot say enough good things.  they ask what you need when you run into their stations and are there with everything.  they have vaseline for your parts AND paper towel to wipe off your hands after you've slathered all your parts with more vasiline than you ever thought you'd put on your parts.  the race is so well put together and so fun (except for those last 9 miles... those were torture.  those were not fun).  the race director does a fantastic job and i feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to share in this experience.  the 9mi loop is breathtaking.  there is a section of trees that are towering and the ground is covered in pine needles.  it is so beautiful.  if i wasn't racing and trying not to die i would have stopped to take pictures of it.

i never thought i would be able to race this far.  i anticipated finishing in 6 hours so i am very proud of my sub-6 finish.  it was the hardest race i've ever run.  it definitely tested my mental toughness as well as the limits i put on my body.  turns out that my body doesn't have any limits unless my mind imposes them... so there's that.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

this ankle... ice age creeper

this ankle is just killing me!

my goal mileage for april was 210 if i had been on schedule and running injury free... not missing any runs during the month.  i suppose it is needless to say that i didn't come anywhere close to that with my subpar training for april.

i ran about 19ish miles out at the nordic trail head a couple of saturdays ago and felt really really great the whole time.  after that it was all downhill for my ankle.  it remained swollen and painful to the point that it hurt to walk and was causing me trouble walking normally.  ran a couple of runs after that with pain, but really didn't think much of it.  woke up with a super swollen ankle after that last run before beartrax at which point i decided it was time for some concern.  i decided not to run until i could walk normally and without pain.  turns out that took an entire week.

i have not run since the race last sunday.

not even a few steps.

do i feel ready for ice age?  nope, not even a little bit.  dave keeps telling me that the "hay is in the barn" meaning that i've done my training and there is very little i can do between now and saturday to make up for the missing runs but i don't feel ready at all.  my ankle doesn't hurt anymore... with 2 weeks off why would it?!?

i only ran 97 miles for the month of april.  NINETY SEVEN!  not a great month to be certain.  i need to figure out how to stop injuring myself.  everything was going along so great!  i was feeling wonderful and then out of goddamn nowhere this!  it is so disheartening.  maybe i'm not supposed to be a runner.  maybe i'm not supposed to be a fast runner.  maybe i'm not supposed to be a trail runner...  i dunno.  whatever it is i need to figure out how to not get hurt because when i run i love running fast.  i love running far.  i love running trails!  if i cannot do those things then i just don't know why i would bother running at all.  this is what i love about running!  i mean... not all i love about running but i love competing and pushing my body and seeing what i can do.  it drives and inspires me.  it makes me happy.  if i can't do it how i want... why do it at all?

so ice age is creeping up and i keep mentally going over the course in my head... trying to figure out my strategy.  trying to figure out if i will have the stamina and endurance to run the race how i want to run the race.  trying to figure out if i need to start out slower than i want to so that i can try and run faster than i originally intended at the end... i just have no idea how to approach it now that i don't feel ready.  i don't want to just go out and run it with no time goal.  i know i can run the distance... but i want to finish with my head held high and as if i ran a RACE and not just the miles.  GAH...  what do i do?

97 miles is not enough miles to be prepared for this...