Tuesday, December 20, 2016

what's that you say? SHOE REVIEW! horray!

as many of you know i've been a long time fan and dedicated runner to new balance.  i have had some issues with their shoes (mainly due to the narrow toe box), but haven't really been proactive in finding an alternative because i really love the shoes so much.  lately tho' i'm getting a little tired of the constant blisters on my middle toes.

sooooooo... i've switched (tentatively) to altras for trail and topo athletic for the road.

let's start with my trail shoes first and then move onto the road shoes...

 the altra superior 2.0 ~ i have had these trail shoes before and for whatever reason they are now only available on closeout. both on the altra website, as well as the secondary sites like zappos, running warehouse, and REI to name a few.

these shoes are fantastic!  they are incredibly light weight, have great tread, are zero drop, have a wide toebox, and hold up well in sloppy conditions.  they only weigh 7.5 ounces which is an additional bonus as i truly hate heavy shoes.  i've recently run in some pretty snowy conditions (4-6 inches) of what i like to call "snowsand" which is like running on a beach of dry sand or possibly imagine running through mounds of slippery sugar.  it was challenging for sure but not at any moment did i feel unsafe or like i would fall.  there is no doubt that i will add ice spikes or screws to my shoes to run once the trails are covered in lots of ice patches, but until then these are doing a great job.

i like to stick with the same companies when i find something i like so i went ahead and bought a pair of road shoes from altra too.  again, the ones i purchased, provision 2.0, were on closeout (likely because they were the 2.0s) making them a really economical purchase, and i was pretty excited to try them out.  i ran in them twice for a total of 8 miles and i was not happy.  the toebox is again nice and roomy, but for whatever reason, my left heel kept slipping no matter how i tied the shoes or how i tried to remedy it.  i returned them and tried the provision 2.5 (maybe the update made a difference?)... no such luck.  the 2.5s were no different than the 2.0s.  my left heel slipped and i didn't even bother to test these on a run.  i just returned them and started a web search for "wide toebox" shoes.

in the meantime, i continued to use my new balance 1500s for indoor runs.  

i finally found a shoe that looked promising... from a brand i've never heard of before... topo athletic

so i purchased the topo athletic fli-lyte.  this shoe is AWESOME! granted i've only run a short 3 miler in them but i LOVE them!  these shoes have a 3mm drop and weigh only 6.7 ounces.  i love the sea foam/tangerine color combo and as a bonus (if you like that sort of thing) they give a second set of laces to change up the look.  my heels don't slip and my toes feel great with the more anatomical shape.  

their mission statement is pretty awesome too.  i can't believe i've never heard of them before.  no matter... they're on my radar now and i'm sticking with them.  bye bye, new balance... onto newer things!

so that's what i think about that.

what are your favorite shoes and why?  have you ever heard of topo athletic?  what are your thoughts about the natural toebox vs standard toeboxes?  how do you feel about zero or low drop shoes?  
tell me your thoughts in the comments!  i'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

bank of america chicago marathon

welp... i woke up this morning and checked my e-mail before even getting out of bed.  i mean... it's 10° outside with a windchil of -4°.  certainly not inspiring me to get dressed and run outside.  *sigh*

back to the email... so i was reading through my e-mails and i came across THIS!

so exciting!  it will be the largest race with the most amount of people i've ever run.  in 2016 there were 40,523 finishers.  i'm interested to know how they approve people for entry since i got the impression (prior to finding out i got in) that it was difficult to get in.  now... i'm seeing a lot of people got in.  i wonder what the criteria is?  no matter... i'm just excited that i will be running it.  add this to my list of big races for 2017.  no more!

i'm only going to run short races for the rest of 2017.  5Ks and 1/2s... nothing bigger since i've now got THREE big races lined up.  i guess i'll just hold onto the warmth of that knowledge to get through these freezing runs.

Monday, December 12, 2016

don't go jumping the gun now...

is it weird that i'm already freaking out about iceage?  i mean... it's in MAY.

it is approximately 151 days, 9 hours, and some change away.  i've got PLENTY of time to get it together, be fully trained, and ready to go.  right?  yeah... i have lofty goals for this race.  i am really nervous about the winter training season.  winter running is when my body always gets injured somehow, or at least it seems that way.

last saturday,  i ran my long run on the IAT from nordic to horseriders (strava data here).  this is the first portion of the IA 50K race and my favorite part.  the rest of the race is on ski loops that roll and roll and roll... boring, painful, and not fun at all.  so i live to run the first part and i tolerate the last part.  this time i ran it the fastest i've ever ran it except for the race in 2015.  i was about 14 minutes slower overall (actual moving time was much faster than the race), but i felt great the whole time which is the bonus in this story.  my downfall for the race in 2015 was that i went out too fast.  so my plan going into 2017 is to try and temper my pace going out so that i can maintain it on the loops for the duration.  yup, that's my plan and i'm sticking to it.

however in the interim i'm going to focus on short weekly speed runs and long weekend runs for time on my feet.  my main issues with 2015 was that in the loops my hip flexors were freaking out and one of my toes was killing me from bombing the downhills.  i'm going to try and figure out how to avoid the hip thing for 2017.  i am of the impression that it's fully because i killed it on the IAT and didn't leave anything for the loops.

it's been working well so far (since september) and i'm doing some cross-training too which i wasn't really doing before.

this race and my subsequent utah race (in june) are on my mind constantly.  it's usually what i think about while running and i think about them a lot when not running.  if anything i should be mentally prepared for them if not physically.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

updates, goals, and butt covers

hello friends!  just a little update is in order it seems...

i was out of commission from february 1, 2016 until august 15, 2016.
within that time i managed the following mileage:
  • february = 23.5 miles
  • march = 7.1 miles
  • april = 15.5 miles
  • may = 9.2 miles
  • june = 0 miles
  • july = 8.5miles
  • august = 60.1
i gave myself the goal of 600 miles for the year as i thought that was doable given that i'd have 5 months to complete it barring any recurrence of the injury that put me on hiatus.  i am so very please to report that i surpassed that mileage on yesterday's run!  it looks like i'll be ending 2016 with a bang and probably closer to 700 miles.  i've been steadily increasing my mileage and pace.  i've added in some races because i was feeling so great!  we all know i don't race in the cold. lol!

wisconsin has been so mild throughout these fall months that racing was viable.  now that my "race season" has come to a close i am just going to run miles until february when i start training for iceage.

that means treadmill will be back in rotation.

i do also want to say that i picked up a super sweet pair of down quilted butt covers.  i've been seeing a down filled running skirt for the past couple of years, but it didn't interest me.  i didn't like the idea of being restricted in my movement by a skirt because they always looked so narrow.  so when i was trying to figure out how to keep my butt and hamstrings warm this coming deep freeze i googled "down running shorts".  lo and behold lululemon used to make some!  i got these babies off of eBay the other day...  i'm so excited to try them out once they get here!  they cost a pretty penny so they better be worth it!

lululemon "hot" shorts

the job hunt is still going strong.  oh... i guess i haven't talked about that tidbit.  i lost my job back in september and have been on the search ever since.  i had an excellent interview on friday which i hope pans out.  cross your fingers for me!

Monday, November 7, 2016

PNC Milwaukee Running Festival (1/2 marathon)

PNC Milwaukee Running Festival - 1/2 Marathon - November 6, 2016
time = 1:46:57
pace = 8:10
placed 10 in my age group (40-44) out of 125
placed 66 in women out of 934
placed 226 overall out of 1509
link to strava data

that's a PR people!  oh yeah!

BUT before i get to that let's talk about fueling on race day shall we?  again i slept SUPER badly saturday to sunday.  daylight savings got me all worried that my phone wouldn't update and i'd not get up on time.  so i tossed and turned most of the night finally getting out of bed before my alarm at a little after 4am.  my morning "routine" is a full glass of water right out of bed to get the innards moving and then i take the dogs outside.  by the time that's all done i'm generally ready for the bathroom.  the morning went off without a hitch.  i also usually eat one packet of instant oatmeal on race day.  it's just enough to stave off the hunger and doesn't make me feel icky when i race.

 UNFORTUNATELY for me... this time i unthinkingly added RAISINS!  whoops!  rookie mistake for sure... rookie mistake that i didn't realize until the next day.

in case you're sitting there wondering to yourself... "why not raisins?"  i'll tell you why not...
"Raisins soaked overnight and taken in the morning support bowel movements. The Council suggests a healthy raisin recipe: Combine 50% raw milk and 50% cool water. Eat two handfuls of soaked raisins twice a day, and sip two glasses of this water alongside. Besides this, eat light foods like squashes — lauki in particular is good — to regulate your bowel movement." ~ excerpt from ayurveda view on raisins
um, so yeah... all the poopings, but we'll get to that a little later.  something else to note is that it was about around 45 degrees to start and when i finished it had to be in the mid-50's.  this is the ONLY reason i signed up for this race... the fact that it was warm enough to race (for me).

we wanted to leave the house at 5:30am because lincoln memorial drive would be closing at 6am and i wanted to get a parking spot near the start/finish with minimal walking.  so once we arrived down there we sat in a line (not all that significantly long) for a few minutes and then got a $5 parking spot very close to the start/finish.  pro tip:  should have gotten the all wheel drive and not been so concerned about my gas mileage.  alas that wasn't what happened so now i have to concern myself getting stuck in mud and snow for ever and ever amen.

i imagined this... obviously over exaggerated. lol!
we parked on some mushy grass and i wondered for a minute if i'd be able to get out.  my new (1 year old) car only has front wheel drive and i'm not all that used to it after having a jeep with all wheel drive for the past decade.

after getting all parked and settled in the squishy grass i left my family in the car to go to the bathroom.  i drink a large amount of liquids in the morning and spend a good amount of time in the bathroom because of it.
there was no line and i was in and out in a jiffy.

i did notice that the line of cars trying to park now stretched well past where we ended up getting clogged up, and it looked at least a mile long.  by the time i got back to the car (it turned out to take me 10 minutes back to the car!) it was 6:20am and i was supposed to meet my oiselle volée ladies at the kite shop for good morning photos.  i stripped off my pj pants, lubed up my legs for running, grabbed all the things i would need, and we headed out.

there was a lot of really great energy buzzing in the air which just added to my joy and excitement.  i'm joyful because i've come back from my 8 month injury hiatus stronger than ever, and my excitement to be a part of this race was almost insuppressible!  this was going to be the longest distance i've tackled since my injury back in january!  even in training (or what could be called super minimal "training") for this event i never went longer than 10 miles.  so here we are... looking at 13.1 and hoping to PR at 1:45.

oiselle volée in full effect!  and this isn't even everyone... 
met up with the ladies and met some new friends to boot which is always amazing!  in case you didn't know i'm quite socially anxious (hide it well with the "fake it 'til you make it" mentality) so a big group of new faces makes me VERY UNCOMFORTABLE... got a picture and then we all went our ways to prepare for our races.  i was supposed to meet my mom's run this town ladies for a photo op at 6:45am... when that time came and went i realized that i would need to hit the head one more time before taking off.  tried to make some connections online to see where people were, but had to take off and get in the potty line.  it was HELLA long!  took me until about 2 minutes before the race started to get in there.  talk about cutting it close!

said goodbye to my husband and son and went to find my corral.  when i meandered my way up to the 1:45 pace group i found sheila!  we stood around and chatted; then another bird showed up (sorry love i don't know your name) and we too chit chatted.  next thing we know it's time to go!

my plan was to stick like glue to the pacers which i accomplished up until we hit st mary's hill.  have i mentioned that i'm not a good hill climber?  well... i'm NOT!  i started to lose the pace group by a few feet so i determined that i would have to catch up at the top on the straight away.  it seemed like the hill went on F.O.R.E.V.E.R... although when i look at it now it's only approximately .27 of a mile.

the struggle was really really real tho'!  

my legs not even 2 miles in
i started up the hill feeling strong and capable... that didn't last long.  before i knew it i was huffing and puffing, my legs felt like lead weights, and i was thinking about how much pain i was in instead of all the positive shit i am usually talking to myself about.  finally, i made it!  i was at the top and needed to lengthen my stride and push my pace to catch up to my pacers... this is the first of several times over the next 6 miles that i would force myself to catch up before finally being unable to do so at mile 7... but we'll get to that.

so i made it up the hill where the sparklers were sparkling, unicorns were dancing, and my body did the happy dance (only on the inside).  FREEDOM! i started to fly down the road towards my pacers arms... just kidding... their backs.  then i MADE IT! i caught up and could settle in.

the course is freaking beautiful!  so far so good... we ran along the lake and now we were on the east side.  my old stomping grounds... grew up right off of brady street and spent my college years over there too.  i miss living on the east side.  so much to do, see, and experience all within walking distance.  *sigh*

i digress... we ran down historic brady street where the crowd support was stupendous!  there's a bit of an incline near the west end of brady (it wasn't bad), and then we got to hit a downhill!
andrea and the dino

we ran under the holton street viaduct where there is a marsupial bridge  (built in 2005) that goes over the river for safe pedestrian crossing.  that was fun to run across and if i weren't attempting a PR i might have stopped and taken some photographs like my friend andrea (you can find her here) who stopped for photo ops at the swing park, with a dinosaur, and several other fun places on the route.  right after the bridge we got a sweet little downhill to the street below where we headed south into downtown.  i thought the hills were behind me and i began to feel light as air.  well, THAT might be 100% an exaggeration as i was still trying to keep up with my pace group who were running like little bullet trains.  all the while chatting away to each other as if this were a snail's pace... man, i wish it were that easy for me to run this pace!  incidentally, turns out that miles 1-6 were considerably faster than the necessary 8min mile pace needed to hit 1:45.  i'm not saying this was my downfall, but i do think it helped contribute to my failure.  you see... when i run on my own my pace varies but the average has been hitting under 8 min miles as of late.

anyhoo... i was happy to hit the flat land of downtown, running along the riverwalk was an astonishingly beautiful reprieve from the pain in my legs and lungs.  as we were running the short distance along the riverwalk i was mentally praising my good fortune when we hit wisconsin avenue.
 fun fact:  wisconsin avenue runs east to west (we were running west) and is a delicate,  constant, simply arduous, mind-numbingly challenging 1.80ish miles with a measly 97 feet of elevation gain.  it sure didn't FEEL like something so easy... it felt impossible.
as i watched my pace group slowly slip away within the first quarter mile of this stretch (that felt like a gentle mountain ascent; no i'm not exaggerating!) the woman i was running with this whole time behind the pacers turned back to me and said: "stay with me!"  i replied with breath that was barely mine... "i'm tryin'", and i watched the divide between us slowly grow and grow until i was so far behind there was no catching up now.  it was at this same moment that i realized i would need to find a bathroom pretty quickly.  thankfully in mile 7 (or was it 8?) there were glorious port-o-potties!  beautiful and gleaming in the sunlight... calling my name.

i went in and when i tried to lock the door... IT CAME OFF! the lock not the door ya silly goose!  as i cursed the lock, sat down, and tried to fix the lock whilst doing my business... i timed myself so i could lose no more than 1 minute.  i figured we had banked enough time that i should be ok if i didn't lose anymore than that.

jumped out of the port-o-potty in a practical sprint just as denise came out of the other potty!  she was running the full and went on to win as the first woman to cross the finish line!

so far mile 8 was my slowest mile yet at 8:57... not bad so i figured i was fine with the lost time.  so i lengthened my stride once again and opened up as best i could to once again make up my lost time.

i hit the turn around (effectively a descent) and clocked that mile at a 7:40.  made the righthand turn onto 16th street and lost my gumption.  the bridge is cool and it was fun to run over it with no cars, but my stomach was acting up again with no potty in sight!  i was really worried that i was not going to make it to the next stop without having to walk which i think causes me to subconsciously slow my roll thereby putting less strain on my innards.  mile 9 was still an excellent effort at 7:54.  got to the end of the bridge and went down a small hill to connect with bruce street which would ultimately take us back east and into the 3rd ward.

mile 10 was tough as i tried to run comfortably without causing stress to my bowels.  i was really needing to find another potty pronto!  i finally came upon another aid station with potties and handled my business... unfortunately i was there for almost 2 minutes this time!  very disheartening as i watched my hopeful PR slip away.

i got out of there as fast as my legs would carry me and finished out mile 11 at 9:36!  ugh... this was gonna hurt me for sure!

i really picked up the pace as best i could for the next 2 miles.  i figured if i could really push it i could try to make up at least some of the time.  which was now almost solely my focus only to be diverted while running around discovery world as it was pretty and new to me.  i really liked running on the wood walkway surrounding the facility so i took note of it.  as i rounded the building i knew i was maybe 1.5 miles from the finish, and i pushed as hard as i could until the end.

saw the camera and readjusted my face

 as i ran the final stretch i noticed several people who had finished and i was mentally trying to check their bibs to see if they were 5K finishers or half finishers... unfortunately my brain couldn't figure out what color bib was for which... the pain in my body was so intense that i started to cry.  

what pain looks like

i just wanted to finish as strong and fast as i possibly could.  i needed to beat my previous fastest time and i was angry that i had to make TWO bathroom stops on the course.  as i rounded the turn to the finish i saw the clock turn from 1:45 to 1:46 and i kicked it into high gear.  as i did this i heard a man making a TON of noise behind me as he pushed himself with all he had.  i can't remember if he finished before me or not but i think so... i think his sprint was stronger than mine, and as soon as i heard my name and crossed the finish line i burst into tears.  i ran that last bit at a 7:32 pace.  it was hard and painful and worth it!

i saw my husband and son.  i cried into my husband's chest as i collected myself from my effort.  i made my way down the finisher's corral gathering bananas, pretzels, milk, water, and cliff bars.  as i came out of the corral i hugged my son and husband again and smiled.  I DID IT!  i managed to PR and i'm counting it even if it's just a breath over 2 minutes.  my garmin counts my moving time at 1:44 so imagine if i didn't have to bathroom break?!?  i could have CRUSHED my goal!  next time...

the course support was great.  the volunteers were amazing and energetic which is oh so necessary when doing something hard.  it's nice to hear someone tell you to push through or that you're doing great when you feel like shit.  i liked getting to see the city on foot and that was the best part.  it is an entirely different experience than driving.  more visceral and real.  there's an attachment to it that you can't get in any other way.  running is freedom and life.  the world looks a whole lot different when you're running on it than any other way of traveling except maybe walking.  connection.

all in all i liked the course a lot.  the challenges were necessary and (while painful) made the course fun.  i like being pushed to my edge to see what i've got.  this course did that for me and for that i'm grateful.  there is nothing so rewarding as working hard towards a goal and attaining that goal.  i am stronger for this race.  if the weather cooperates i would certainly do this race again... but ONLY if the weather cooperates.  after all, we all know how i feel about winter racing.

finisher's "after tears" smile

and done!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lakefront Discovery Run 15K

Lakefront Discovery Run 15K - October 29, 2016
time = 1:13:48
pace = 7:56
placed 8th in my age group (40-44) out of 91
placed 38th in women out of 595
placed 138th overall out of 1048
link to strava data

i want to start this post out by talking about beetelite.  i picked some of this up from REI a couple of weeks ago.  i tested it out on a couple of runs, and (to my amazement) there really was a noticeable difference in my performance and how my body felt while pushing it.  it doesn't taste that great (all REI had was the cherry flavor so that's what i got), however the taste is completely inconsequential when looking at the results.  as we all know that consuming beetroot juice (or beets in general) has been known to increase performance.  beets are full of antioxidants and good for all kinds of things from lowering the risk of heart disease to boosting endurance to combating constipation.  they just don't always taste that amazing.  when i found this product i thought... let's try it.  so glad i did!

the last road 1/2 marathon i ran was rock 'n sole in 2015 where my pace averaged out at 8:25, and honestly... this was the best i could do.  today's race went so much better!  honestly, i didn't start to "feel it" until mile 7 i guess.  that's when i really had to dig to keep up the pace.  i was doing all the pep talking at that point too.  letting myself know that i was almost done.  that i just had to work through the last couple of miles and so on.  verdict?  yes, beetelite works!

moving on...

the weather turned out to be PERFECT for me!  i hate, despise, and loath cold weather racing.  have i told you guys that before?  the only reason i signed up for this race was because of the promise that we could wait inside the warm building prior to the start.  turns out that wasn't necessary as it was around 55 degrees when we arrived and warmed up from there.   my son max was volunteering with my friend (and fellow oiselle volée teammate) laura.  we arrived at 8am so max could get to his volunteering position at the start/finish line.  one of the really cool things about this race is that they actively encourage costumes. it IS nearly halloween so it fits.  yes, as is evident from the above picture, i am a party pooper and don't dress up.  this is strategic tho'... i cannot run in things i'm uncomfortable in and we all know that i RACE to win not to have fun.  i suppose that sounds kind of stupid but it makes perfect sense to me.  when i run a race i am doing it to see what i'm made of.  to test my limits.  to leave everything i have on the course.  i run all the other days to have FUN... that's not what race day is about for me.

bunny laura, me, and gorilla max

i did all my normal pre-race routine things and pretty soon it was time to begin.  we all lined up and the race director got up on a ladder, said a few words, and then counted down with little fanfare and we were off.

the course was really nice.  we ran past the summerfest grounds along the lake past the art museum, up the hill by the war memorial, and then veered right onto the oak leaf trail.  we followed the trail up to lafayette hill where we hopped off and onto terrace avenue at the top of the hill.  followed that around back to the oak leaf (still at the top of the hill) and ran that for awhile.  this part is a beautiful paved trail that runs through lake park.  we ran through lake park to lincoln memorial drive and that was a most welcome descent.  we then continued to follow the oak leaf along the lakefront where the sun had come out in full force.  man!  was it hot all of a sudden.  the lake was beautiful and calm tho' so that made up for the sudden burst of sun drenched heat.  i'm going to say that this might have been the prettiest part of the whole run.

the whole time i was really focused on my strides.  i have learned that if i lengthen my strides i take less steps and effectively reduce my cadence.  i think this is important for me because i used to take a million steps and it was not energy efficient.  lately i've really been focused on my strides and have found that when i lengthen them and it seems i'm slowing down (because i'm taking less actual steps)... i ACTUALLY am going FASTER with less effort!  it's a beautiful thing!  so i focus on that and try to also focus on my back foot having a really strong push off to propel me forward.  so far so good.

once we got back near discovery world we ran out into lakeshore state park (the oak leaf turns into the hank aaron state trail at this point).  i was hurting by then and just trying to maintain my pace at while tricking myself into believing that i wasn't in any discomfort. i followed everyone (and i mean EVERYONE) in front of me through the park and towards the back of the marcus amphitheater.  there were two women directly in front of me that thought we were going the wrong way.  the one was telling the other that last year they turned around right at the loop we had just passed, and headed back the same way we had come so she was confused about where everyone was going.  however, because there were so many people in front of me i just continued to follow.  i have never run this race before so i had no idea who was right.  i figured that there wouldn't be that many people all going to wrong way... man, was i wrong!

turns out there were (at the very least) 50 or more people who all went the wrong way!  it only added a tenth of a mile to my distance... other people said it was longer, but i'm going with what my garmin says.  a 15K is 9.321 and my garmin said 9.4 so not a big deal.  i would have been more worried if we cut the course and since that didn't happen... who cares?

i finished as strong as i could running the final 1/2 mile in with a 7:50 pace.  it was pretty hard to maintain, but i just kept telling myself that i was nearly there and to push as hard as i could so i could be done.  i'm pretty proud of this finish time.  i didn't honestly think it was possible.  my goal for this race was to run it in 1:20 or under.  i absolutely exceeded my expectations there!

me, bettina, & sheila ~ oiselle volée team members
the finish was really crowded.  lots of people in costumes milling around who had finished running.  they had a lot of snacks but no bananas or any of the regular type finish items i'm accustomed to so that was a little disappointing.  there were lots of chips and cookies tho'... if you like that sort of thing.  i had some water and then ran into sheila who is also a fellow volée teammate.  we stood around and talked for a bit and i got to meet another volée teammate, bettina.   it was nice to finally get a chance to talk to these fantastic ladies for more than a couple of seconds.

max and i ended up heading to the car so he could get out of his costume (it had gotten much much warmer) and so i could change out of my running shoes into something more comfortable.  i don't know what the deal is with this new style of shoe, but i'm having an issue with my toes on my left foot.  they hurt after runs and i'm pretty sure i'm going to lose a nail.  i might have to look into different shoes if this doesn't change.  this is only my 2nd pair but i sort of feel like i had the same issue with the last pair... maybe not.

anyway... this race puts on a huge after party.  they had the boogie men playing and offered up more food that had to be purchased for $5.  the awards were really cool.  the top finishers received a disco ball trophy and the top age group finishers received medals with disco balls.  very nice!

yes... those are uggs.
all in all i would absolutely do this race again (contingent upon the weather, of course!).  the course was pretty easy and fun.  it was well organized (minus the detour snafu), and my only complaint is not having foods i would eat after a run.  a banana or two would have been nice as all i had was a handful of potato chips... not my first choice for nourishment after a hard effort.  i'm so glad the day turned out the way it did.  such beautiful weather for the end of october.

lakefront discovery run = a success!

and we're off!

fake it 'til you make it... trying to look strong in the last 1.5 miles

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

more real every day...

so... i just booked my room for bryce canyon.  while perusing the website i decided to read what they had to say about the course.  i can't tell if i'm excited or terrified...

The 50K course starts at the boat ramp area of Tropic Reservoir, near King's Creek campground. Runners will be shuttled here from Ruby's Inn. Shuttles will load at 7:30am and the race will begin at 8:30am. The route starts with about a half mile of road to thin the field out before hitting the singletrack which will lead you out to Keyhole Arch and some beautiful hoodoo running before descending to a doubletrack road after a couple of miles. You'll begin a 5 mile ascent, peaking at over 9,000ft, then descending 500ft over a half mile to the Blue Fly aid station at mile 8.5. After the Blue Fly aid station, you'll hop on a steep and scenic singletrack section that quickly descends through some hoodoos down to a doubletrack at around mile 10. You'll take a left and have a two mile climb until you meet up with the 50/100 mile route. From there, you'll take a right and descend two miles of singletrack to the Proctor Canyon aid station, your only crew access point. You'll have 8.5 miles of singletrack between Proctor Canyon and Thunder Mountain aid stations, with plenty of ups and downs through canyons and along ridges. After Thunder Mountain aid, you'll have a gradual ascent for about two miles before hitting the Thunder Mountain trail for a long and grueling climb up to the finish line.

i mean... not even a mile in and there's a FIVE MILE ASCENT!  this will likely be the most breathtakingly beautiful and also most challenging race i've ever in my life run.  i'm so excited!  there's no way i'm hauling ass through this race.  i can hardly run our tiny hills at lapham peak!  guess i really do need to seriously start training on some hills.  the bane of my existence.

it's not that i don't WANT to run hills... it's just that it's so damn hard!  i feel like when i "run" hills (and i use that term loosely) i'm going slower than if i hiked them.  also, as i run i'm in way more pain than if i just hiked them... so i end up hiking them.

i think the terrifying part is that the ascents are not just feet... they are talked about in MILES!  we don't have anything like that here in wisconsin that i've run.  the exciting part is that i am going to do something amazing and new and hard for me.  

i am going to conquer something i've never conquered before and i'm going to complete it and be a better person for having suffered through it.

i cannot wait to be bathed in all that beauty!  june cannot come soon enough!

Monday, October 17, 2016

WI Trail Assail - Sweetest Day 10K

WI Trail Assail - Sweetest Day 10K - October 15, 2016
time = 52:54
pace = 8:30
placed 1st in my age group (40-44) out of 10
placed 6th in women out of 57
placed 23nd overall out of 91
link to strava data

i signed up for this race on a whim.  i just joined oiselle voilée, and there was some chatter on the private fb page regarding this race.  sounded like a good way to meet some new ladies, and to run a trail race... what could be better?!?  so i signed up for the 10K.  mainly i chose that distance because i've only run one other 10K and it was awful.  mostly it was awful because it was full on winter (we know how much i love racing in winter) and the course left a lot to be desired.  so i decided to run this distance for that reason and because i had 5mi on my training plan for that day.  what better way to spend those miles?  amiright?!?

on friday night the weather said it was going to be in the high 60's and sunny.  this was music to my ears.  i picked out my gear and got everything ready for saturday morning.  i woke up before my alarm on saturday morning (as is customary for me), let the dogs out, fed them, and did my usual morning things to get my stomach straight.  i got dressed and as i was getting my shoes on to leave the house i realized that i almost forgot my bib!  ugh... great start to the morning but at least i didn't actually leave the house before remembering.  just before all of those shenanigans the groupme messages started pouring in.  this chat group was set up so that all the oiselle birds could communicate and meet up before/after the race.  i messaged that i was leaving and was on my way.

the drive out to nashotah was uneventful.  i've driven it hundreds of times.  we take our dogs out here to the dog park fairly often, and when we lived in delafield we were regulars coming a few times a week.  it's a great dog park.  i've only run at nashotah once... it was thanksgiving morning with the lptr group.  that particular time there was at least 6 inches of snow on the trail and took a very long time to run a few miles so i had no idea what the trail looks like without snow on it.  i was interested to see.

the groupme app was blowing up the whole drive so i was excited to arrive and respond.  i got there and let the ladies know i had arrived so that we could meet up.  the parking lot was pretty full, but the place didn't look too crowded.  i was sure i'd be able to find people without difficulty.  i parked right in the front by the bathrooms facing all the action.  did i mention that it was freaking cold out?!?  turns out that the weather was not correct (surprise surprise!)... it was high 50's and super windy.  the wind made it feel so much colder than it actually was.  i decided to sit in my car to wait.  i asked where people where and only got the response that they were "here" so i opted to wait in my car until i got a more accurate location.  when parking my car i realized that I FORGOT MY GARMIN!  OH.MY.GOD... WHO DOES THAT?!?  i mean... of all the things i could forget... my garmin?  really?!?  ugh...

went to the bathroom 3 times between arriving and the start of the race.  mostly i went that many times because i simply didn't want to have to pee while running and i'm paranoid about that during races.  while in the bathroom line the last time dave and emma came up and said they had been looking for me.  it was great to run into them!  i saw jeff after one of the other bathroom runs... that was nice too.  never ran into the oiselle ladies tho'... that would come later.

i ended up sitting in my car to wait for the race because i was so cold.  after the last bathroom break it was time to begin.  i jogged over to the start and found dave.  i stood with him to begin and when we took off i had to goof around with my strava app on my phone to track the run.  what a pain in the keister.  got that situated (had to hold my water bottle in my mouth to get my phone in my pocket), bid farewell to dave, and started making my way through the hoard.

we began in a small meadow, ran around some cones, and then onto the trail.  the trails were wide and groomed mostly covered in grass, packed earth, and wood chips.   it is my understanding that these trails are used for hiking and snowshoes in winter.  there was a decent flat at the start and then the rollers began.  i'm not a fan of rollers if you must know.  they aren't hard per se... i just can't get a steady pace going because i'm not very good at running uphill.  there were a couple of big hills near the end of the loop (the 10K was 2 loops of the same trail) with a pretty nice flat to carry you to the end.  the course is beautiful.

everything is changing right now so the colors are all orange, yellow, and brown... very homey and comforting.  it had rained the night before... actually, several days leading up to the race so the earth was soft and pliable.  made for bombing the downhills a lot less strenuous on the joints.  we all started out together... the 5K, 10K, and the 1/2... then maybe 1.5 miles in we broke off... the 5K broke off and then the 10K and 1/2 stayed together for a bit longer.  when i started the 2nd loop i was with one woman (who turned out to be one of the voilée) who i stayed close to until just before the finish.  i left her when i bombed a downhill and she didn't.

my legs were fatigued on the 2nd loop.  i started pushing hard in the last 2 miles...  i came up on another woman and we were neck and neck passing back and forth on the hills (her running up the hills and passing me and me bombing down the hills and passing her) for the last mile or so.

i ended up leaving her behind in the final flat stretch.  i think that running up that last big hill took it's toll on her and she just couldn't muster up the juice to sprint it in... i took off.  i had a goal of running this race in 53min or less.  there was one other man near us and i passed him too and then there was no one else around us.  as i was running the final stretch i saw the clock said 52 minutes... i opened it up and ran as fast as i could.  i really really really wanted to get in under 53 if i could and it looked like i could make it if only i pushed a little harder.

my legs felt a little burn-y but otherwise i felt pretty good.  i think i should have pushed more on the flats.  it was hard to know how fast/slow i was going without my garmin.  i had to rely on feel and i felt way too comfortable out there.  i should absolutely have been pushing harder.

i ran into the finish with everything i had... or everything i thought i had to give.  i love trail running so much.  the course was beautiful.  i would have enjoyed it more had i not been racing, and had been out for a run instead.  not sure i'll go here to run on my own though...  the loops are pretty short, and i don't drive out that way for something so short... i'd rather run at lapham if i'm going to drive out that way, but that's just me.

i would run this race again... maybe the 1/2 next time so i can really settle into a comfortable pace.  i'm not a fan of the 10K distance.  i don't like it because i feel like i need to sprint the whole distance. i feel like it's too long for a sprint and too short to not be a sprint.  so what do i do?  i try to sprint the whole thing...   on the other hand it could be a good learning experience for me to do this race (the 10K distance) again so that i can learn how to run it successfully and effectively.  there's always more to learn.

the cons... the only thing i am not happy with regarding this race were the results.  the timing company posted incorrect results at first (not really a big deal), and subsequently corrected them before i left.  however... i did get the wrong medal at first.  when they posted the corrected results i was able to give back my 3rd place medal and get the 1st place medal.  my thoughts on that are what about the people who had gotten their medals and left?  such a bummer...  additionally, they didn't post overall results either, and when i contacted them via facebook as well as email asking about this... i've so far today (monday) gotten no response to my inquiry.  that sucks.

i did calculate the overall stats myself and i'm pretty sure they're accurate.  i'm not sure if i'm supposed to count the top male/female in the results or even HOW i'm supposed to calculate them in so i counted them in the total number but not in the results number if that makes sense.

like i said... i'd run this again.  i don't think i'd do the series because there are other races that i'm already doing next year that it will interfere with.  i think if you like trail racing, or even if you've never run a trail race and would like to, this is a great race to do that.  it's not too hard that a novice couldn't do it and feel good about it and it's certainly not easy.  all in all it was a good race and i'm glad i chose the 10K distance.

my body feels good.  nothing hurts.  i'm running between 35-40 miles a week right now and it feels really good.  next (and last) on the calendar is the lakefront discovery run.

it's a 15K along the lakefront the weekend after next.  hopefully this weird warm weather will hold out and it won't be freezing...  

emma (dave's daughter), me, dave

jeff & i

the correct medal

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

oh yeah! "race pace"

so the little training plan i put together for the discovery run called for a 3mi run at "race pace" today. why did i put a training plan together you might be asking yourself?

well... because the longest distance i've run in the past 8 weeks since being back at it has been 10mi.  so signing up for a 15K made me nervous, and i thought i should probably train a bit before tackling that distance.

monday's are my running rest day, but i still go to crossfit and then i sit around on my bum the rest of the day. lol!  today i felt pretty good and took off running.  out of the gate is about .25mi downhill so that certainly helps my first mile pace.

i felt pretty great and as my watch beeped for the first mile i was pretty shocked to see it was under an 8 min mile!  my brain wanted to tell my legs they were tired, but i lengthened my stride and focused on my breathing and form and just kept on running.

by the time the 2nd mile beeped at me i glanced at it and noticed it too was under an 8 min mile!  i kept pushing at it all the while realizing that while it felt hard it didn't feel impossibly so.  usually when i run a pace like this it is in a race setting (hence the "race pace" speed for this run) and for some reason i feel so much worse than i was feeling at that moment.  so i kept pushing and pushing.

no i don't know what i was doing with my face... 

i ran up the hill just after mile 2 and then steadied my pace on the flat after that.  i thought for sure mile 3 would be slower (it felt slower), but it proved to be the best mile yet.  i finished this short run feeling spent but really really good!

i guess there's something to be said for shorter distances.  hmmmm who'd a thunk it?

strava data here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

what the hell is wrong with me?

so... i just signed up for the wisconsin trail assail sweetest's day 10K.  it simply doesn't take too much peer pressure when it comes to running and i'm totally on board.  

i figured i have 5miles on my schedule for saturday anyway... why not race a 10K instead?  ugh... what is wrong with me?

i'll tell you what's wrong with me... i wasn't able to race hardly ANY of my races this season due to being out of commission for 8 months, and now i'm rip roaring and ready to go!  i want to race!  i want to speed!  i want to RUN!

anyone else with these same issues?  please tell me i'm not the only one with this "problem".

Friday, October 7, 2016

next race is up

the problem with feeling better is this... now i want to RUN ALL THE RACES! 

the problem with running all the races is this... i absolutely loathe racing in cold weather.  i mean... i actually swore off it back in 12/14 (unofficially of course), and that's really when i stopped racing after october from then on out.  then this year due to my 8 month hiatus i ended up running the ragnar northwoods which was hella fun.  my performance there was so promising that when i came home i committed myself to 25mi weeks.  i've been hitting that goal mileage pretty easily so when the opportunity to sign up for the lakefront discovery run popped up i began seriously considering it.

the deciding factor was that they allow you to wait inside the italian community center prior to the race.  this was the clincher for me because the whole reason i don't race in the winter months is because i get so damn cold!

admittedly i've also been starring longingly at the milwaukee running festival races too.  *sigh*

ridiculous i know..  i can't run that race!  it's in NOVEMBER for christ's sake!  it will be so damn cold!  i can't bring myself to commit.  besides... that might maybe probably is too much too soon as is my usual m.o.

so that's where i'm at.  i've been running really well and put a teeny tiny training plan together for the discovery run so that i've got a little mileage under my belt before the race.  we all know i WILL be racing that race... not just lallygagging around through it.  it's impossible for me to run a race just to run it.  i will leave all of myself on the course.

hopefully i will have some friends there to hang out with at the after party.  that will be fun.  i'm trying to be less introverted and more outgoing.  it's odd because i am very outgoing but there are times where i feel drained by crowds and mostly by new people.  i yearn for social interaction, but then my anxiety kicks in and i just want to be at home alone. lol!  it's the bane of being an ambivert i suppose.  yes, that's a thing.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Ragnar Northwoods 2016 - otherwise known as i am number 8

Ragnar Trail Northwoods - September 23-24, 2016
time = 27:36:46
21 out of 42 in our devision (women)
119 out of 169 in our category (open)
placed 174 overall out of 240 teams to finish

so... this race report begins long before race day.  i saw a post on the badger crossfit facebook group page saying that a group of ladies needed a replacement runner for the relay.  this was at the end of august.  at that time i was only 2 weeks back into running, and while i really wanted to jump up and say something... i also was really doubting my ability to run the race successfully.  so i waited and i ruminated and i ran it past brian (a non-runner, my husband, and my biggest cheerleader), and dave (my friend, running partner, and also one of my biggest cheerleaders) to see what they thought.

the following week i asked some questions of the ladies posting, and basically decided to run.

i woke up before my alarm (typical) on friday morning (race morning) at approximately 5:15am so i just got up.  laura texted me around 6am letting me know she was packing her car (i had finagled her into filling another spot that needed a replacement about a week or so before the race), and would be over soon.  she arrived, we packed my stuff in the car, and drove to get courtney and melanie.

driving up to 9 mile forest in wausau, wi took approximately 3 hours.  it was an uneventful drive filled with ample conversation and laughs.  we got to know each other a little bit and i instantly liked court and mel quite a bit.  it felt natural and comfortable... as if we knew each other for a long time.  it's always awesome when that click happens.

we arrived and found the rest of our team at camp.  it was a lot smaller than i anticipated.  the illustration of the map made it look a lot more spread out and huge!  it's nice that it was so small.  very manageable and easy to find everything and everyone.  we got situated and went to the village to check things out and watch the safety video.

soon enough it was time for our first runner to begin and we were off!

this race is very different than the road race in that the vibe is so much more relaxed.  as with every trail race that is usually the case.

a couple of things i want to mention about the race:
1.  they cleaned out the port-o-potties 3 times that i saw while i was there!  THREE TIMES!  that is amazing and wonderful!  there is nothing nicer as a runner than sitting in a pristine potty.  seriously folks... seriously.
2.  they had PIZZA!  fresh fire roasted PIZZA!  i didn't get to eat any but they had it and it looked damn good!  i'm still jealous of those who got to eat it.
3.  they served a pasta dinner the first night.  i do have a minor complaint about that tho'... it started at 5pm and was supposed to go until 10pm... by 8pm when i was able to eat it was cold and mostly gone... i was not happy about that.

moving on... we saw several of our exchanges off and then i decided to charge my phone so that i'd be ready for the rest of the day.  while standing at the charging station i had a weird encounter with an older woman who was clearly not a trail runner.  she was pacing around very concerned about everybody else.  freaking out about why her items weren't charging fast enough (can i take a moment and point out that THERE WAS A CHARGING STATION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS?!?), and then she decided to talk to me.  she went on a little tangent about how awful the trails here were and how dangerous.  she proceeded to tell me that she had run the 3 miler the day before and that it was ONLY ok, but that if the other trails were super dangerous as she anticipated they would be... she would definitely not be running them, and she'd turn around and walk back.  she was very aggressive in her speech and seemed to not really be happy to be there AT ALL.  had me wondering why she'd sign up for a trail race in the first place?  she made it a point to tell me she was the oldest and slowest on her team.  she did not seem happy about that either... in fact, she didn't seem happy about much.  after that diatribe she turned to me and asked:  "do you run trails?"

i thought for a moment about whether or not i should answer and if so what i should say before i just simply said:  "yup."

she replied (very aggressively) and with irritation:  "well, you should be fine then!" and turned away from me and didn't speak another word to me.

it was an odd interaction.

i unplugged and walked away right after that.

laura m, me, connor, amanda, & melanie - team badgnar!
i saw several friends at the beginning before we all started racing but once the running commenced i didn't see anyone again.  my first leg started at 7pm.  (strava data here) i took off uneventfully in the dark.  i kept confusing myself about which color trail i was running green or yellow.  i kept believing i was supposed to be running green but really i was running the yellow loop first so when the volunteer asked me at the turn off i mistakenly breathed out "green".  thankfully he saw my wrist band and yelled out: "that looks like yellow!" so i made a hairpin turn and got on the correct trail!  sheesh... you'd have thought i'd have just looked at my stinking wrist... not the brightest bulb in the pack apparently.

leg 1 - yellow loop
the trail was a 4.6 loop beginning on some wide (possibly) ski trails or fire road then jumps onto some beautiful single track that opens up to some mountain bike trails and then back to single track and finally ends on some wide (possibly) horse trails or fire road again back to the start.  it was a fun trail except for the portion of bike trails that had some really close together dirt mounds that were difficult to run through.  otherwise it was a fun run.  about 3 miles in i tripped over (what i assume was) a root system or a rock or something, and i fell pretty badly.  it happened right after i passed someone while running like a speed demon.

i bounced right back up and kept going.  i did take a look at my hand real quick, but it looked ok so i just kept going.  my knee hurt but it didn't feel like it was bleeding (it was dark so i couldn't tell) so i didn't worry about it.  running on new trails in the pitch black with only the small tunnel of light from my headlamp is a unique experience for me and causes me to have tunnel vision.  when i run in a circumstance like that i don't really take in the scenery or really enjoy the forest in and of itself per se.  i'm more in my head with the run.  i am more inside myself.  because i tend to run too fast to break focus on the trail especially when i cannot see well... i put all my energy and attention into that small window of light in front of me.  i focus on my body, my breathing, and pushing myself as best i can and as efficiently as i can.  i really get inside myself and go! it becomes more technical for me, and i make it about going hard and fast.  it's a different experience than when i can run in the forest in the light of day.  both of my night runs were like that... the daytime run was 100% different.

i successfully finished the run and went right to the medics to get cleaned up.  my hand and knee were filled with gravel and i had some road rash on my thigh but really i was no worse for wear.

medic tent after 1st leg ~ photo by laura m.
once i got cleaned up it was time to try and get some sleep since i wouldn't be running for another several hours.  i pretty much slept (or more accurately TRIED MY BEST to sleep) the whole night away... i was freezing so it was really challenging.  i didn't pack enough warm stuff that is for certain!  next time i will pack a little differently.

we cycled through our runners as the night progressed, and soon enough it was my turn to run again... 5am this time and for 3.0 miles (strava data here).  the "easy" loop.  uh huh... easy.  my teammate laura b. went up with me as she is runner 1,  runs after me, and needed to be awake anyway.  again i took off uneventfully although it was harder to pick up my legs this time... my legs were so fatigued and heavy!  this loop (if memory serves) was all single track.  all the loops begin and end in the same way on the same trails... wide horse or fire/ski trails... i'm not entirely sure could be a mixture of all three depending on where on the trail one is.  anyway,  i wanted to be done with this as soon as possible so i was running as fast as i could.  turns out THIS is the trail everyone was talking about that had "huge boulders".  i kept hearing people talking about these "huge boulders"  on the trail, and i couldn't imagine what they were talking about.  so finally i got to see what all the fuss was about. on this loop there was a section or two that had a series of rocks that the kids (read mountain bikers) call a rock garden... it was a bit of a challenge to run through in the pitch black.  they weren't actually boulders if you're wondering... they WERE large rocks but i wouldn't call them boulders.  although, considering we live in wisconsin this is probably the closest thing to boulders we're going to get so i'll give those folks a pass on the misnomer.  i'm sure you're wondering if this is where i decided to eat shit again?

leg 2 - green loop
nope... but i sure did fall again... i passed several people walking on this trail.  one of those passing times is precisely when i fell again... probably tripped over a root or something... really, i have no idea since it was so dark outside it was like being in a closet with no windows.  there were a lot of switchbacks which were really fun and quick going.  i liked those a lot.  i love single track trail so very much... lovely little breaks of awe and amazement between the tiny little pains i was having.  another issue i stupidly was having on this leg was that i put my headlamp on too tight and since the run was so short i didn't want to stop and adjust it... so now i am sporting a cute little lump/bruise combo right in the middle of my forehead at the hairline.  the good news is that the bruise is very faint so there's that.  back to the fall... i fell right on the same hand that i fell on the first time (my right), but thankfully this time i fell on my right leg and spared my left knee.  not only did i fall once... i did it TWICE!  i fell a second time about a quarter mile from the finish.  there was a little hop up into a single track section of trail, and you have to step up over a berm to get into it and i tripped over that, stumbled, and managed to pinwheel my arms a bit but still fell into the woods.  this time it didn't hurt because i landed on the grass and soft dirt but the open wound on my hand got FULL of dirt and pine needles.  it was awesome in a bad way.  by then i was so exhausted that i just got up and jogged for a minute or two.  i ran it in and finished it up.  handed the bib off to laura b., off she went, and i could go back to bed.

i stopped back in the medic tent to get cleaned off again.  the care there was less than stellar.  i'm pretty sure that the people in there are not actually medical staff most of the time so i'm not too concerned about it.  the guy in there this time just dumped a little water on the wound on my hand and then a little peroxide and then covered that with some gauze.  once he gauzed it up he wrapped all of that with more gauze and my hand looked like a little mummy.  i sort of gazed at it for a moment, looked up, said thank you, and walked out.  i just wanted a couple of bandaids.

got back to the tent and it was still dark out so i took all that mummy wrap off, laid down, and fell fast asleep.  that is correct... i did not one little iota of stretching.  the horror!  camp was pretty quiet most of the evening which was pretty different than i thought it would be.  i really expected a lot more partying than what actually happened.  i suppose that's another very different aspect of trail runners as opposed to road runners.  i love that.  so camp was mostly silent with the exception of the loud talker once in awhile until about 7-8am so i got some pretty quality couple of hours of sleep.  i felt much better by then.

throughout the day we cheered on our runners, walked around the ragnar village, and lounged around camp.  i found dave and said hello to him.  (observe below)

FOUND HIM!  dave and i
dave is a funny dude.  he's my best bud and running partner.  we were supposed to run this race on the same team, but due to my not being able to run all those months i dropped out of the team back in february because i wasn't sure i would be running.  so on our runs leading up to ragnar he would say funny things like: "i hope we run into each other." and the like.  as if the place would be super huge!  so when we arrived we were texting each other and he made another comment like that.  i kept thinking how silly and joking with my current teammates about it.  it became a running joke (sorry dave)... so i went looking for him on saturday and found him quite easily at his camp.  i joked with him about the silliness of it all and we chatted for a bit.  he was getting ready to leave so it was perfect timing.

.and that's the story of that.

as it got closer to my run time we started packing up camp.  i got changed and headed up to the start to wait for mel to come in.  we grossly overestimated our run paces so we were several hours behind our estimated finish time.  that's one thing that ragnar could do differently.  trail running is very different than road running.  the pacing is very different and cannot compare.  using a road run time to accurately judge finish times just doesn't work.  our time was so off!  one also has to factor in fatigue and terrain... i think if they want to use a race time it should be a trail race time for a trail ragnar.  anyway... the last and final leg of my race was the longest, most challenging, and all around hardest loop.  it also proved to be the most fun, most beautiful, and made the entire journey worth it.

i was most worried about my performance for this loop because i hadn't slept well, it was touted to be the most difficult of all the loops, and i had heard that there were miles and miles of knee deep mud.  ok... i'm exaggerating about the knee deep, but the talk about all the mud on this loop was RIDICULOUS! so i anticipated a butt load of mud.  i was concerned that i would be extra slow given that my green loop felt so bad and my legs felt so heavy AND it was only 3.0 miles!  so i was deeply ill at ease about my perceived performance issues.  turns out i had no reason for the misgivings... i took off and my legs felt a-ok so i ran a little faster.  i started passing people right off the bat... it felt ok so i just kept going.  i usually know right away whether or not it's sink or swim and since i was swimming just fine i picked it up a notch because... TRAILS!

have i mentioned that i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE running trails?!?  well... in case you don't know. I DO! i love it!  i love running on trails and these trails are amazing and beautiful and oh so fun!  single track is my JAM! seriously... the.most.fun.ever!  so i'm just running and funning it up like nobody's business.  life is good and my body is having so much fun!  the only issues i'm really having are my bandaid is falling off my hand (so i put it in my pocket and carry on), and the top of my left foot hurts like hell because my shoe pushes on a nerve uncomfortably and after 3 runs so close together... well... it's really fucking tender!  so that was awful and the worst pain ever but I DON'T EVEN CARE BECAUSE THIS TRAIL IS AMAZING AND SO MUCH FUN!  i am flying down all of these twists and turns... and then it happens....

a big, huge, ginormus, never ending, immeasurable, very long, wide ass, bane of my existence  fire road just standing there... mocking me.  so i start running up it.

until i can't.

then... i walk and power hike and run some more.

finally i am at the top and i am running and the wind is hitting me and i am free and smiling and i have made it!  there is nothing more satisfying than making it up a hill that feels like a mountain.  a hill that feels like it will never end.  a hill that really isn't that big but because you're exhausted and sleep deprived and STARVING and really want some pizza... that damn hill looks like a leviathan!  it is the damn swiss alps!  it's mount kilimanjaro for goodness sake!  so now i'm running a flat and it feels pretty damn good.  until it doesn't because there's another damn ceaseless ascent!  oh.my.god!  so this happened a few different times.  i'd come out of some beautiful single track onto the most god awful fire road that just went on and on and on.  the worst part about those particular trails is they were matted grass peppered with hidden rocks and at about mile 6 there was a huge section of this kind of trail that was about 3-4 inches of muck.
how i feel about descents
the thing to remember is:

what goes up must come down... and we all know how i feel about the downs.  

i FLY down the descents like i'm not even touching the ground (i suppose for the most part i barely am).  i tiptoe around rocks like i'm playing hopscotch.  i dance through the root maze and spread my arms to balance my weight.  i am weightless!  i am free!  my legs feel amazing!  for a moment i wonder how i could ever have worried about my legs making it through this loop.  i never look at my garmin this whole time tho' because i don't really want to know how fast (or slow) i might be going.  i've learned over the years that just because it feels fast doesn't mean it actually is fast.  better to not know until the end.  so i'm just running and enjoying the run.  the woods are home and my church!  this is the best place to be!  i love it.

so i'm running and just loving everything about the run and i get a text from laura wanting to know how i'm doing.  i can't get my stupid phone to work from my pocket so i call her back and let her know that i'm about 5.5 or so miles in... this was just before that mucky section of trail.  there were some people walking that section and then i was back in civilization where the loops were converging.  getting close to the end.  this loop was so fun! (strava data here)

leg 3 ~ red loop
i love trail running because you really have to focus and stay on point.  it was fun running in and out of the single track.  popping in and out of there onto the fire/ski/horse trails was challenging and entertaining.  this race was really well put together and kept my brain engaged the entire time.

when i hit the final straight away before jumping back into the final single track to the finish i punched it.  i was so happy to open it up, run big, and with long strides.  it felt good to push it a little bit more.  it also helps that it's downhill and easy to open up the legs and really let everything take flight!  i hit the quarter mile marker, heard the buzz, and knew the hairpin turn onto the single track was coming up.  it was so exciting!  i could hear the crowds cheering and i ramped up my run.

there were a couple of people on the trail ahead of me but they were not running as fast as i was so i blew past them and freight trained it in to my team...  we all ran it in together and finished our run.

i'm so proud of all of us.  we dug deep and struggled through this journey together.  we forged friendships, we laughed, we slept, we ran, we struggled, and we persevered!  we did it!  until next time ragnar... thanks for the memories!  it was awesome.

team badgnar ~ finishers!
ragnar bling