Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bryce Canyon Ultras 1/2 Marathon

Bryce Canyon Ultras 1/2 Marathon - June 17, 2017
time =4:27:46
pace = 20:26
placed 17 in my age group (40-49) out of 22
placed 88 in women out of 135
placed 182 overall out of 259
link to strava data

i don't even know where to begin.  it's been exactly one week today since i was in bryce doing this race.  it was my first mountain run ever and anna's first race at all.  i guess i'd like to talk about anna first.

anna and i have been good friends since i was (maybe) 23 years old.  we met through my brother who is friends with her boyfriend at the time.  i was instantly drawn to anna.  she has an energy about her that is so easy-going and unencumbered.  i instantly knew we would be friends.  we became friends and a little later roommates.  to this day she is one of my best friends, sisters, and confidants.  simply put, i love her.

such a perfect summation of this woman's spirit
about 5 years ago anna was diagnosed with breast cancer.  she underwent chemo and countless things that i cannot even wrap my head around and she came through the other side and always always she has this magnificent smile on her face.  she is pure light.  she is one of the most wonderful souls you will ever get to meet if you ever get that chance.  i feel fortunate to know her.

so back in early winter of 2016 i talked anna into running the 1/2 marathon distance of the bryce canyon ultras as my plan was to run the 50K.  i thought it would be fun to spend time together and do the races and then spend more time afterward.  i was really looking forward to the trip and when she signed up for the race i was plesantly surprised.  you see... anna doesn't really run.  she would not consider herself a runner and rightly so... it's just not quite her thing as much as hiking, moming, and working out are.  she is heavily active in the community and a huge advocate for cancer survivors.  she is a force to be reckoned with.  as the race day approached we communicated more and more.  on the sunday prior to the race anna broke up a fight between 2 of her cats and one of them bit her.  she thought little of the bite until it became swollen, sore, and ultimately grossly infected.  the night before my arrival she was in the ER being administered IV antibiotics as well as pain killers.  did this change the circumstances of my trip you might be wondering?  not in the slightest.  that woman was at the airport picking me up (late per usual) with the most beautiful smile on her face.  swollen right arm and all.  i suppose i should also explain that post-cancer her lymph nodes do not work as well or the same as pre-cancer.  so she is prone to lymphedema in her right arm.  the cat bite exasperated this condition and the infection was not subsiding as quickly as it should have so upon my arrival she was scheduled to return to the ER (24 hours after initial IV antibiotics) for round 2 of the antibiotics.  so what did we do when i arrived?  we went to the pool, hiked around a mountain, rode a saddle at a bar, ate fantastic food on the side of said mountain, and then proceeded to sit in the ER until 11pm.




the next day we got up and drove the 4 hours to bryce canyon, utah as anna lives just outside of salt lake city.  the whole time i couldn't get over the majestic beauty of the mountains.  anna is fortuante enough to live within a short drive to the mountains and they can be seen from her backyard.  it is truly a sight to see if you've never been to the mountains.  my advice is to GO!  

so we drove to bryce and stopped in beaver, ut (because that's funny), arriving in bryce around 3pm.  i'm pretty sure the mountains are where i belong.  it is really difficult to capture the magnatude of the mountains without witnessing it first hand.  my photographs simply do not do them justice.  it is humbling and breathtaking.  it was an emotional experience to say the least.  

we arrived at bryce, got our packets and our room, and headed for the pool.  it is a desert afterall and we had just sat in a car for 4 or so hours.  pool it is!  we stayed at ruby's inn which was overtaken by runners running the race.  the inn was the hub of all things running that weekend.  it was magnificent.  we ended up talking to a couple at the pool who were discussing the race and race conditions.  the man had dropped from the 50 miler around 20 miles due to the heat, lack of water, and breathing in the dust of the desert.  the conditions were just too much for him.  so as i eavesdropped on their conversation i butted in asking about the race.  the woman was set to run the 1/2 the next day (same as anna & i) but had decided not to run given the expected excessive heat.  this made anna and i worried as we had only brought a handheld for hydration.  we promptly purchased camelback packs and decided to go for it!  that is what we were there for afterall... how bad could it be?

race morning and we all packed into several shuttle busses which would take us to the start line.  we were pumped and excited.  our bus took off and about a mile or so from the hotel pulled over on the side of the road where we would wait for all the other busses to conga-line it to the start.  while we sat there we also took pictures.  surprise!  

we finally arrived at our destination and found the most amazing toilet set up i've ever seen.  small pod tents which contained a bucket with a toilet seat.  inside the bucket was some saw dust type material and human waste.  surprisingly it didn't stink.  we utilized the facilities and then took more pictures.  i will include the link to all our images at the end of this post if that's something you are interested in perusing...  so the toilets were getting their work out and we took more pictures as again... i cannot tell you how big and beautiful the canyons and mountains are.  i just cannot find the words for this.  

so all the racers are milling about this parking lot and the race director comes on a mic to say that this is not the start.  there was some issue with the park and noise and the start is now through a water drainage tunnel and down the paved path on the other side of the highway.  so we all commence walking to the start.  once at the start there was no fanfair.  we waited for some cyclests to pass and then (i'm not entirely clear on this point as we were middle to the back of the line) the director said go... and we went.

where did we went?... straight up a mountain on beautiful switch backs for 3 miles. lol!  hardest climb of my life.  it is amazing what being at approximately 3000 feet above sea level will do to a flatlander's lungs.  my legs wanted to go but my lungs were saying... wait a minute.  what the hell is this?!?  
about 1/2 way up the first climb
i will say that my friend dave was right... i should have done some hill training.  ugh... what a challenge that was.  incidentally, my butt did not hurt.  in fact, there was only a fraction of discomfort in my left hip flexor as we ran at first... all discomfort subsided after the first climb and i felt great!  when we crested that first climb i was compelled to take pictures.  the course is beautiful!  well worth the climbing.  the terrain was incredibly runable.  it was dusty but not so much that i noticed it while running.  the ground was compact with a thin layer of dust and some rock debris.  not technical at all.  were we not in a conga line the downs would have been heavenly.  we came through the only aid station at mile 5, filled up our water, used the real bathrooms, ate some sweedish fish, and continued on our way.

up the next climb...

this one was more direct with a lovely dip into red rock canyon where we (of course) took more pictures.

the course then wound up from the canyon and continued to go up and up and up.  we started encountering a lot of mountain bikes on the course as this portion of the course is a mountain bike trail.  all of these things slowed us down but we were running for the thrill of the course and being together so that was not priority.

nearing mile 11 anna started to feel not so good.  her legs were cramping each time we ran and she was feeling light-headed and her ears were bothering her.  each time i looked back at her she smiled at me... that's anna.  always smiling always working through it no matter how tough it is.  the rest of the race would go this way... us powering up the climbs and trying to run the flats and downs.  i ran out of water at mile 10 and it was so hot.  the heat climbed above 80 degrees.  someone told me the high that day was 88 but i'm sure it was hotter in the bottom of the desert.  

we crested what we thought was the last hill to the finish.  my watch was saying we were at 13 miles... so we ran.  we ran down to a parking area with a table and 3 large gatorade tubs.  ALL EMPTY!  we were not the only ones who were upset and disoriented.  turns out this was a fake finish... aid station.  the finish ended up being another mile down hill.  we arrived at the fake finish looking to fill our packs and all containers were empty.  we arrived just moments before a man who was pacing a 100 miler.  they had run out of water too and he had run ahead to get her more as he had given her the water in both his hand helds.  now there was no water at all.  

a nice man who happened to be at that parking lot unrelated to the race gave us his cold unopened bottle of gatorade and we split it amongst 6-8 runners.  once that was done we were again off.  everyone was walking down the hill at that point but i had had enough.  i just wanted to be finished so i ok'd it with anna and i ran ahead.  i got to the end of the race and was so thrilled to just have some water.  except... those containers were empty too!  i had to wait an additional 15 minutes for someone to come fill up the water.  by this time anna was running through the finish and we were done.

we walked around the finish area a bit and then had had enough of all of that.  there were not enough tents or chairs for everyone thus creating a not so great environment for finishing a race.  there was nowhere to sit to stretch or relax.  it was hot as balls with very little shade and they didn't have very good post-race food/drink options.  we decided to get on the shuttle back to the hotel.

the line for the shuttle was minimum 40 people deep.  turns out they only had one shuttle (which seats 9 people) running people back and forth from the finish to the hotel.  such poor planning.  unbelievely so in fact...  so we waited in line for 1.5 hours just to have some very thoughtful women behind us call their friend to come get them.  they invited us along for the ride (thank god) and we started walking down the very long park road to the main road to get picked up.  as we were walking i felt sicker and sicker.  the dehydration was kicking in and i was beginning to get a headache.  the heat was unbearable at that moment and i thought i was going to throw up or my head would explode... or both.  anna was hobbling along behind us all and again... each time i looked back at her she smiled.  *sigh*  i love her.  we could all learn something from her attitude.  i know i certainly could.  

so we made it to the pick up point and sat down in the shade of a building.  thank god for that!  i was still feeling wretched.  we get picked up and dropped off and all i could do was lay on the floor of our room as still as possible while my head exploded from the inside out and my stomach threatened to violate the floor.

after we showered and got moving we went and had the best meal i've ever eaten.  came back to the room and watched awful tv until we fell asleep.

the next morning we got up, packed up, ate breakfast, and were on our way.  we drove throughout bryce canyon taking the obligatory tourist photos and then took the scenic route back to salt lake.  we stopped at a river to swim for an hour and i took more pictures of mountains than you probably want to see.  (you'll still get to see at the end of this post if you're so inclined. lol!)

all in all i have to say that i will do this race again.  i loved the route and knowing what i know now... will plan my hydration better next time.  i learned a lot about myself, running, and what i think i'm capable of.  the course alone was reason enough to be thrilled with this race.  the mountains are calling and i must go... over and over again as many chances as i get for the rest of my life.  

"we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us." ~ anonymous




link to all the photos from the trip... if you're into that sort of thing.



Saturday, May 27, 2017

sitting is such a pain in the butt

so... the week before i went on vacation to florida i was hella busy.  so busy in fact that i went to crossfit once (it hurt and i was SOOOOOPPPPPER sore the next day) and ran zero times that week.  this proved to be my downfall as i would find out a few weeks later.

because i did basically nothing for the 4 days before we left my glutes (which were in a shitton, yes that's a word, of pain after that crossfit class) got really really tight which then transferred that tightness to my hamstrings.  all of this was unbeknownst to me until i tried to run 20miles upon my florida arrival.  (strava data here)

that run started a domino effect of ailments that have now culminated into some serious pain in the ass.  i'm literally UNABLE to run without pain and certainly not at the level i've grown back to over the past 6 or so months.

notably, i also think that the fact that i have a sitting job attributes to the nerve pain i've been experiencing again.

today i went to see jerome for a sports massage at body wise milwaukee.  it was fantastic.  some of my pain is relieved, and i'm interested to see how running is tomorrow.  i'm not expecting any miracles but i'm hoping that the pain is lessened.

it is so amazing to me how, as i've gotten older, my body no longer recovers like when i was in my 20's.  of course, i rarely moved my body in my 20's other than to walk a lot of places (necessity not choice) and to shake my rump-ah in a well lubricated white girl way.

now... if i don't stretch an appropriate amount of time after physical activity... my body rebels and i'm in a world of hurt a couple of months later.  aging is a bitch.

i have bryce in approximately 3 weeks (20 days to be exact).  i'm working on transferring my 50K entry to the 1/2 marathon distance.  we'll see if i get to do that.  i've been patiently working with someone at vacation races but the communication is sporadic at best given that they are always gone on location at other races.  we'll see... if i am unable to transfer to the shorter distance i am going to stick it out for the 50K and hope to god my body holds up.  i am not ready for that distance given i've run only a handful of miles since my ice age DNF.  life is cruel sometimes.  *sigh*

i mean... worst case scenario... i walk the whole 50K.  the cut off is 11 hours.  that's like 21min/mile pace.  i'm pretty sure i can manage that with some running thrown in there for good measure.  do i WANT to walk a whole 50K?  hell no... but if i don't have a choice i don't have a choice and i will tough that shit out like a champ.

next year i think i might have to strive for short(er) distances and see how my body tolerates that.  until then... i will take this race season and try to run/race for love and not be so broken up about the competition aspect of it all.  i always want to win so maybe this is a lesson in humility, slowing my roll, and learning how to love the journey.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - DNF


Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - May 13, 2017
DNF'd at 19.9 miles

this was not my first rodeo... i had a solid plan for this race.  based on the last time i ran it, and the data that race provided i decided to run the first out and back slower.  my research showed that i needed to run a steady 10:37 min/mile pace the whole race to meet my goal of a 5:30 time.  that is totally doable and the strategy was to run faster than goal pace for flats and downhills to make up for the walking i would be doing.

sounds easy peasy lemon squeezy... right?

yeah... not so much.

within the first 1.5 miles of the race my left foot and calf began to cramp up.  this has happened before on training runs and i believe it's all connected to the menagerie of issues that have plagued the left side for years now.  i have no idea how to remedy what ails my body as the issues are always different but seem to also always crop up on that side of my body.  *sigh*

anyway... i ended up walking for a bit just over 1.5 miles in which allowed the cramp to subside and me to begin running again.  after that... it was smooth sailing.  

the issue i've been having with my butt caused me not to run at all the week leading up to this race.  after my last long run two saturday's ago followed by beartrax... i was in a great deal of pain.  i cut several runs short the week before last due to the pain so i figured it was better to let that pain subside prior to iceage than to force the short training runs (4mi, 3mi, and then 2mi)  i had planned leading up to the race.  maybe that was the wrong decision?  i dunno. the pain in my butt seems to be coming from maybe tight abductor muscles?  i am really at a loss... the pain is on the inside of my butt near the crack but sort of underneath. from this diagram it seems that's where the adductor muscles connect under the glute.  

whatever, back to the race.  so once the premature cramping subsided and i fell into my groove i was running really strongly and having a great deal of fun.  this is my favorite part of the course.  the out and back... i love the iceage trail and in particular this section of it.  it is a lot of fun to run.  i got stuck in a couple of conga lines since i fell behind a slew of people when i walked so early in the race but that was ok as i kept telling myself i was trying to pace this portion and go slow.

unfortunately, there were even a couple of times where i actually WALKED on a down hill because i couldn't get around the more careful people in front of me.  i don't know if you know this about me, but I LOVE BOMBING DOWNHILLS!  love it!  seriously that is so much fun to me.  the pure abandonment of all safety concerns.  i don't care about falling... i love the feeling of running so fast and free.  tiptoeing with the swiftness of a lithe and dainty hippo through and around rocks, branches, roots, and other obstacles.  it is so much fun.  i like that i can still do that fearlessly.  

my alter-ego: smirk savage of the rushin' rollettes...
not sure what season... maybe 2007?
i attribute my trail confidence to having played roller derby for so many years with women so much larger than myself.  i've gotten hit so hard in a bout once that i flew clear off the track and under the dj booth.  i fell so much in derby that it no longer phases me.

roller derby taught me how to be fearless and own my space in the world.  

so when i run downhill with complete abandon and fearlessness... this is why.

as i was saying, the out and back went smoothly and i finished that portion feeling really solid.  my hip flexors started talking to me near mile 10 but the conversation was so benign that i ignored it.  everything else felt surprisingly good that i just thought the hips were conversational given the pace of my race so far.  by the time i came through the start/finish to begin the first loop i was still feeling good but my hips were beginning to be painful.  i thought i could push through.  my easy flat pace on the 1.5mi section of ski trail back to the start/finish was pushing a 9min mile so i believed that the loops were going to be a breeze... 

i was wrong.

i stopped at the start/finish to use the bathroom and to take off my shoe a second time.  i had stopped a few miles before on the out and back because it felt like there was something in my shoe... possibly a little stone or my sock was folded or something.  the underside of my foot felt like i was stepping on something painful and i thought that before it got worse i should remedy it.  when i took my shoe off the first time i found nothing and carried on.  this time i took both the shoe and sock off because i thought maybe a small stone had gotten in my sock and under my foot.  again i found nothing but the fold in the middle of my foot just below the ball was hurting and felt like it was not flattening out or something.  i put my shoe and sock back on and took off on the first loop feeling good.

my hips were still chatting away to each other and me but again... it wasn't painful enough for me to pay them any mind.

a couple of miles into the loop tho' and i knew there was something very wrong.  both of my hips were becoming more and more painful with each stride.  not just the front flexors now but the outsides of both hips too.  i decided to walk it off.

as soon as i tried to start running again my hips were screaming at me bloody murder.  there was a fire and i was not doing anything to put it out... or so my body was telling me.  i pushed on.

the flats were good and i was keeping a 9ish min/mile pace, but that all changed on the downs.  i had to slow my roll considerably to go downhill without making the pain sharper.  which was compounded by the immediate ups (these ski trails are rollers and i loathe rollers)... walking up and then immediately having to go back down was murdering me.  when i would finally hit the flat it was becoming more and more impossible to pick my legs up to run.  once i got running the pain was bearable... for awhile.

by mile 14 i knew in my heart it was over.  i called my husband and immediately burst into tears.  i asked him to come early as i knew i was going to drop after this loop.  he was supposed to meet me for the finish and i was asking him to come a clear 2.5 hours earlier than expected.  i got off the phone with him and pushed on.  a few minutes of running and i thought i could do it so i called him back and told him maybe he should wait.  then i started crying again.  he asked what he should do and through my tears, i told him i didn't know.  he said he was coming and i knew i was done.

i wasn't crying just because of the pain... i was crying because i was so disappointed in myself and my body.  i was crying because i missed every goal i set for this race.  i was crying because i simply couldn't do it.  i spent the next 4 miles in agony run/walking/crying (more walking and crying than running) just counting the miles down trying to get back to the start.

the final miles
there is a place on the course at mile 19 where the course goes right for another 2ish miles loop, but the start is left about a mile away... i cut the course and went under the barrier to get back to the start as fast as i could.  the idea of run/walking that extra 2 miles, if i didn't have to, was more than i could bear.  it was the decision that ended my race.

in hindsight (cuz, of course, i am in a different mental state today) i wish i would have toughed it out for the whole loop so that i would have had the option of taking a moment to breathe, reassess, and still be able to continue on the last loop if i was able.

that last mile walk to the finish was very demoralizing.  when i cut the course it put me just in front of the group i was running with before it all went to shit.  as each one ran past me they all said some semblance of "good job" or "great effort" which just made me feel so much worse.  as i cry/walked back to the start i felt so defeated.  rounding the final corner to the finish i saw my husband and son right away and immediately started making a crying beeline to them.  my friend laura came out of nowhere... she intercepted and hugged me on the course.  then i got to my husband and bawled into his chest.  i felt so angry, disappointed, and defeated.  i was probably a little embarrassed too at my performance (or lack-there-of).  i'm still trying to sort out my emotional response to the DNF.  my friend dave came over too for a hug and some reassurance.  he asked if i wanted to just sit for a minute before continuing on... i never even thought about that being an option until he said that.  hence the 20/20 hindsight about when i cut the course.  my other friend denny came and hugged me too.  i saw several other friends after that and all the support was so necessary and so welcomed.  i am very fortunate to have a great group of people who are willing to lift me back up when i fall down.

i don't know what this means for utah.  i emailed the race director to inquire about dropping to the 1/2 if they will allow it.  i do not want a repeat of yesterday.  utah is going to be much more challenging with the factoring in of above sea-level issues, the heat, and the fact that it's a mountain and i'm basically a flat-land runner.  i feel so heavy hearted about the whole thing.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

4 more sleeps...

the last time i ran this race i had an injury that sidelined me for the 3 weeks prior to the race.  this time around i'm definitely more prepared but nursing a different injury altogether that cropped up approximately 3 weeks ago.  maybe a bit longer ago but it didn't hurt enough for me to count it as an injury... more of an annoyance.

today i feel ok.  it still hurts but not enough for concern.  i'm stretching a lot every night and also at crossfit.  i've made the conscious decision not to run at all this week.  as always... my training is there so the one week of no running prior to the race isn't going to make that much of a difference in my performance.  in fact... it might be the thing that helps me perform better... it certainly isn't going to make or break me.

my strategy this time around is to temper my pace, not go out too fast, and try to stay steady for the out and back.  it is going to be difficult because i LOVE this section of trail.  LOVE IT!  i tend to bomb the downhills and this, in turn, fries my quads and wrecks my toes.  i need to go moderately effectively saving it for the loops.  the loops are deceptively difficult.  they're difficult because of the rollers.  it's hard to run up and down and up and down and up and down... hard on the body.

right now a friend of mine is running the entire length of the iceage trail in wisconsin.  1,200 miles with the goal of completing it in 19 days.  she's on day 8 right now.  you can read about her progress here on her boyfriend (and crew support) brian's blog.  it's really such an impressive, inspiring, and amazing feat of the human spirit.  i will be channeling annie's strength on saturday for sure.

in order to meet one of my goals for this race, i need to maintain a pace of 10:37min/mile.  so the strategy is to run the first 13 closer to just under 10 to make up for the ascents.  the theory is that at this pace i should feel pretty comfortable on the loops and maybe just maybe i will feel good enough to push the pace on the final loop.  we will see.  i'm really going to try and keep that strategy.

i suppose that's all i can do now... it's a wait and see.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Beartrax 20K

Beartrax 20K - April 30, 2017
time = 1:58:14 (chip time)
pace = 9:30
placed 7 in my age group (40-49) out of 15
placed 11 in women out of 36
placed 36 overall out of 76
link to strava data
(i'm not 100% positive on these numbers as i had to tally them myself)



pre-race sporting my dirtbag runner's trucker hat
i ran this race last sunday and the plan was to utilize it as a training run and not race it.  i had run 19mi the previous day (strava data here) on the iceage course and my legs were feeling it.  i want to mention that it's really challenging to change the race mindset but i was happy that i did it.  the weather was less than awesome in that it had been raining all night and now was lightly misting with a temperature hovering around 39º.  when i woke up i was still on the fence about going to the race but since i had a generously comped entry from instep physical therapy & running center (who's trail team i am on) i felt more inclined to go than not.  besides lapham peak is one of my very most favorite places to run.

when i arrived the weather wasn't as bad as i expected it to be and i came prepared with a raincoat & trusty trucker hat.  i would have never worn that jacket if i had been racing the race because it was much too hot... but since the plan was to run it comfortably... i was not concerned and just wanted to stay as dry as i could.

i've never run the 20K before but have run the brownie shuffle several years.  i love this race.  the 20K course is fantastic.  you get a little bit of everything in the park and that was fun.  it begins in the middle of the park at homestead hollow and heads uphill right away.  the first two miles course through a bit of trail near the butterfly garden, and then loops back through the start.  once back through the start, the race goes backward on the black loop down to evergreen grove and then winds back up on the iceage trail where it again loops back down on the black loop towards two-tier turning off on the blue loop connector hopping back on magic carpet ride towards evergreen grove again.  once passed evergreen grove it's back on the black loop the right way back to the start/finish.  while my pace was all over the place my heart rate stayed pretty steady until the last little burst.

because of all the rain, there was ankle deep standing water and mud in the lower sections of the park.  i managed to not submerge my feet until the second time through those sections with less than 1/3 of the race to go.  i was jack rabbit-ing two women for most of the race and some strides behind a man the whole time.  when we hit the ankle deep section i was in front of the women and had caught up to the man.  we commiserated on having both gotten submerged and then we chatted for a bit until he got away from me heading up gut buster.  again i traded places back and forth with the two women until we hit a good downhill and i got ahead.  i caught up to the man, scott, and we ran together and chatted.  just before the finish was in view i blurted to scott that i just didn't want the two women to beat me.  he glanced behind us and said "they wont", and we rounded the corner to the straightaway before the finish.


scott & i at the finish
as we ran towards the finish he said to me "you're not going to let me beat you are you?" and that's right there was all the push i needed to sprint to the end.  (he still beat me).

i remember thinking to myself as he said that... "man, now i really have to go!"

i cannot stress enough how much i love racing and running at lapham peak.  it is a beautiful place so close to home.  lapham is where i learned to love trail running and it will always be my home trails.

i'm glad that i didn't try to race this per se.  my legs were so shot at the end and in mile 11 i rolled my ankle on a downhill and it was really throbbing once i stood around for a minute waiting on the results.  i was worried that i had actually hurt it but by monday it was fine.

i have the iceage 50K next and have decided to reassess my goals.  i've developed some really strange pain at the base of my left glute where it attaches to my hamstring (and a myriad of other things).  i want to enjoy the race more than i want to kill the time.  the original goals for iceage were as follows:

A goal = 5 hours
B goal = PR 2015's time of 5:34
C goal = finish the race

i want to finish the race with a smile on my face and enjoy my time out on the trails that i love.  i always always want to be fast, but under the circumstances, i don't think that's in my cards for next weekend.  running has become quite painful and i'm not sure that the two physical therapy appointments i have lined up next week are going to help all that much.  it is so hard for me to let go of those goals.  so hard...

so the new goals are as follows:

A goal = finish with a smile on my face
B goal = PR my time
C goal = finish the race

best picture of me from the race, feeling awesome!
but i digress...

all in all, beartrax was a lot of fun (as is evident by my face in the picture to the right).  it waited to really rain until i had completed the race which was nice.  this race is now run by silver circle sports events.  sometimes i wonder if these guys are even runners.  this is the 3rd race i've run of theirs and honestly... it's hard for me to want to run another.  their timing leaves something to be desired.  as a runner, it is important to me to have the stats from my races.  quite frankly, i like that shit.  for each race i've run of theirs there was some sort of issue with the timing.  i'm tired of hassling them for the information that every other race i've ever run has provided as customary.  they don't post overall results and it is frustrating to have to add up the people in the race and try to figure out what everything means so that i can get accurate stats. *sigh*

beyond that... the course support was great, volunteers are always great, and obviously, the location of the race is beautiful.

dave, myself, and nichole pre-race

a little stretch of the painful butt at the start

a bear-y fun high five as i ran back through the start around mile 2



Saturday, April 22, 2017

8th Annual Realtors - Earth Day 5K

8th Annual Realtors -  Earth Day 5K - April 22, 2017

time = 22:19
pace = 7:12 (strava says 7:48)
placed 1 in my age group (40-49) out of 10
placed 2 in women out of 54
placed 9 overall out of 94
(i'm not 100% positive on these numbers as i had to tally them myself while i wait for my request for overall results to be posted.  it is also notable that i won the master's award which is 40 & up in women.)

pre-race stretching - pc: husband
i signed up for this race because i enjoy running races when i travel if it's possible.  the 5K distance is not my favorite, but i appreciate the difficulty of it and know that i can learn a lot as a runner from sprinkling them into my season.  so i begrudgingly do it.

i typically go into this distance remembering that i hate it, but (much like childbirth) i've forgotten how very much it hurts.

this race was no different.  

i took off near the front because there seemed to be no timing mat at the start.  i didn't want to be stuck behind anyone clogging the shoot since my time counted from the moment the RD shouted GO!  so i took off at the front which typically has proven to be a terrible idea for me as i tend to run with the frontrunner pack and not temper my speed.  today was no different.  my first mile was 7:11 pace!  ugh... so i dialed it back since 1/2 mile in i was sweating bullets and having trouble breathing steadily.  it is very very humid here and already at 8am (race start), it was 70º.  i want to note that the race is really tiny, there were zero course markings (not even hand-written signs with arrows... NOTHING!), and the volunteer at the 2nd turn failed at directing the runners.  everyone in front of me went forward and the volunteer told me and those behind me to go right.  i still have no idea which was the correct course!  this would prove to be a theme...

but i digress...

view of saturday past's run
as of today (saturday, april 22nd) i am in florida.  we've been here approximately a week as of friday (yesterday) and i've been having an interesting (to put it nicely) time of running here.  the 23hr car ride last week friday made my subsequent saturday run go south.  dehydration, lack of sleep, and generally just thinking i'm super human caught up to me and 10 miles into my 22mi run (strava data here) my left foot was cramping so badly that i had to walk...  A LOT.  by mile 13 i was calling my husband to come and pick me up as i had to throw in the towel.  my left hip and left foot were in so much pain there was no point to continue the run.  it wasn't fun anymore...  while i am training for a 50K that commences in less than a month i also know when my body needs a break.  last saturday... it needed a break.  in fact, BOTH my feet ended up cramping throughout the day saturday and i could barely walk.  i ended up skipping sunday's run and by tuesday's shortie, i felt much better!  it was slow going as the heat/humidity is not something i'm accustomed to and it proved to be a challenge.  wednesday's run went smashingly and i felt great... by thursday tho'... the short-lived euphoria had disappeared.  8mi was on the schedule for thursday and by mile 4 my left ankle was hurting (in the back along the achilles) so badly that i thought i had pulled something.  i ended up cutting that run short by 3 miles and rounding it out at a little over 5 total.

friday morning my ankle still felt abnormal but no pain.  i was really worried coming into the race that i was going to have some sort of pain issue.  i'm happy to report that no such thing occurred!  my body felt great the whole time... minus the pain of simply running the race that is.

yeah for good running form!
pc: husband
there is now absolutely no doubt that i am a heel striker
pc: husband

pc: husband

so back to the race... by 1/2 mile in i was sweating like a grandpa in a sauna.  it was terrible!  i still felt pretty good tho' and held my pace.  that is until i saw what mile one rounded out at.  i think that is such a mind fuck!  when i see that i'm running too fast i suddenly feel TERRIBLE!  its almost as if not looking at my watch would keep my mind blissfully unaware of what my body is doing and i would have been able to maintain that speed.  so i checked my watch when the mile marker beeped and i saw i was sprinting a 7:11!  so immediately i felt ridiculously fatigued but i puttered on.  the course is totally flat and this race is so tiny & unassuming that there was barely any indication of where the course was.  scratch that... there was zero indication of where the course was!  i was maybe 2/3s of the way through mile 2 when i lost the lead pack.  i had no idea where they turned!  i got to an intersection and stopped in my tracks!  i had no idea where to run!  forward or turn right?!?  i looked around in a panic and saw a little old man in a yellow vest about 2 blocks further straight ahead and yelled to him.  he kept pointing to the right and i couldn't be sure if he meant that i come to him and go right or if i simply go right.  then another volunteer in a yellow vest came out of nowhere from behind me (and across the street) and told me to go right.  so i went right and so did another runner.  so it was just he and i down this unpaved dirt road.  i would have found it beautiful if i hadn't have been so annoyed at the misdirection.  my pace had slowed considerably when i resumed and i was having trouble getting it back to the ridiculous speed i previously finished mile 1 in.  we ran to the end of that road and found another volunteer who told us to turn right.  

we followed that around back to the straight-a-way that i got confused on and a volunteer there blurted out "you ran the old course, huh?!".  i thought to myself ... fantastic. 

at that same moment, we ran right up onto the back of the frontrunner pack!  literally directly behind them!  they were coming from a different direction!  wtf?!?

so we fall into line and run our hearts out.  i might mention that there were no roads closed, and the volunteers seemed to have no idea what the hell was going on.

thankfully this was the last stretch until the left turn to the finish.  i had no idea what group of runners had run the correct course.  with the 2 wrong turns, zero course markings, and lack of volunteer attentiveness it was really confusing.  my garmin came up 3/10 of a mile short!  that's a whole hell of a lot!  

i heard others say that their distance was shorted too, but overall i think the course would have proven accurate had i gone forward and not right at the 2nd questionable turn.  

none the less my performance was awesome and i feel really good about it.  the fact that i held a whole mile at less than an 8min/mile pace is amazing!  glad to know that i can still pull it out when it counts.

the weather was beautiful but challenging and really my only true complaint is the lack of course markings.  that would really solve all of those issues if they just had simple signs with arrows at intersections.  being that i don't live down here i had no idea the course before running the race.  it was frustrating, to say the least, but i still managed to do well in spite of those set backs.  i think my final time (adding in the missing 3/10s of a mile) would have been closer to 23-24 minutes so i still would have come in where i came in on the results.  this just makes me wonder how poorly i'll acclimate to bryce when i run it in june.  i'll only have less than 2 days to grow accustomed to the altitude and dry heat.  good thing my goal for that race is simply to finish and not blow any sort of time out of the water.

today was a pretty good end to a pretty good vacation.  tomorrow we drive home.

my "medal"



a week after the race my mother-in-law sent this to me.  i made the paper! lol!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

its the shoes

so lately i've been having some interesting pains and then last week these pains turned into full blown cramping and shooting pain in both of my calves.  i've been having problems running well and comfortably the past few months and it turns out IT WAS THE SHOES!

yesterday, i went back to my new balance 1500s to run my 18mi long run.  my calves freaked out the first 3 miles like they had been doing and i thought it was going to be another crappy and painful run.  by mile 4 they felt fine.  no pain, no cramping, no fatigue... so... i just kept on keeping on.

i have been running in new balance 1400s since i began running and i graduated last year to the 1500s because they provide more stabilization.  turns out... my feet (and subsequently legs) need this stabilization.

today i ran 10mi in steady rain.  no issues whatsoever with my calves.  no pain in any of my body.  it was wonderful!

for the past month, i've been running extremely consistently and hitting all my miles (albeit slow as molasses) on the dot.  i'm really happy with the progress i'm seeing.  my runs are still challenging but maybe with the shoe switch back that will fade too.  the lesson here is don't mess with a good thing.




how's your spring training coming along?  what race are you training for?  what motivates you to keep going when you just don't want to run?

Friday, March 3, 2017

MARCH FO(u)RTH

one of my very best friends has celebrated the 4th day of march for years.  i never understood the significance of the day... i thought it was just a clever play on words (as he is prone to such things) and that it must have some life significance to him but i never really asked until a few days ago.

as we were chatting via text i asked if he was doing anything special on march 4th.  i knew that the answer would be yes and that i'd learn about some awesome plans that he had to be out in nature.

i was right...   he is headed to the desert with one of his good friends for hiking over the weekend.

he also encouraged me to find my own limits edge and do something. so that got me thinking... and i wanted to know if this was an actual thing... an actual holiday, or if it was just his thing.  google is incredibly effective when learning new things.  i found this, this, and this.

so dear friends and readers... let's jump on the bandwagon!  what do YOU plan to do to honor your body, honor your mind, and push your limits on this unofficial holiday?  what does this look like for you?  what could this mean for you?

for me... i'm going to run at one of my most favorite places and do 12miles (already on my training schedule).  i am going to run 2 loops of the black loop at lapham.  each loop is 6.4 -6.6 (depending on your garmin) although this map marks it at 7... it is not 7 miles.  i intend to power through it to the best of my abilities under whatever the given conditions of the trail are.  when i was at the park earlier this week it was snow covered but i'm hoping that will be somewhat gone by tomorrow.

get out there and be limitless!  enjoy your day and then tell me all about it!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

starting 2017 off with not so much BANG!

for 2017 i decided that my mileage goal would be 1,350 miles.  it's an arbitrary number in that it doesn't mean anything specific... i just looked at previous years and the mileage i was able to complete and then decided to up it from there.

so far things have NOT been going as planned.

i am notoriously a winter complainer.  i am not a fan of the cold which makes running in shitty weather, or weather that is so cold i can't feel my muscles less than optimal.  i tend to skip those runs, attempt to run on the treadmill, or just die a little inside as i brave freezing my (literal) ass off.

the goal mileage for january and february was 110 each.  in january i missed that goal by 21 miles finishing out the month with 89 miles.  in february i missed that goal by 30 miles.  in my defense i was out with a migraine for about 5 days in january, and sick in the beginning of february for 10 days so there's that...   incidentally, that february plague caused me to miss my crossfit goal for the month!

i'm certainly not batting 100 with the 2017 goals.

so i guess what this means is that i either have to tack those 50 miles onto the rest of the months, a very lofty goal, or just let the goal go and see what i can do for the rest of the year.  i'm not sure what to do... i don't think that tacking that 50 on can work because i'm not sure i will be able to run enough miles to complete it.

goals are funny huh?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chilly Willy Run Series - Flannel 5K

Chilly Willie Run Series - Flannel 5K - February 25, 2017
time = 25:28
pace = 8:20
placed 2 in my age group (40-44) out of 25
placed 18 in women out of 212
placed 43 overall out of 324
link to strava data

why do i do this to myself?!?  i SWORE... literally SWORE... that i would NEVER race in winter again!  i blame the recent 60º weather for my lapse in judgment.  i mean... it seemed like a very good idea at the time of signup... let's run a race in freaking FEBRUARY for christ's sake!


sure... what could go wrong?



um... let's study that question for a moment.



turns out... a few different things.




so it was 18º with a wind chill of 5º at the race start.  that isn't cool (no pun intended.  ok... maybe pun intended).  i arrived at naga-waukee park in delafield, wi about an hour before race start.  it's a good thing too because there were no bathrooms at the start/finish.  the park is broken up into "picnic areas" and the start finish was at picnic area 5.  when i arrived i headed to the bathrooms and they were LOCKED.  yup... locked.  so i headed over to the tent and asked about that.  they said that bathrooms were available at picnic area 2 (which is directly at the entrance to the park) and down at the lake which was also a bit of a trek from the start/finish.  while this was inconvenient it certainly wasn't the worst thing in the world.  i drove down to the 2, took care of that peeing business, and drove back up to 5 and parked.  just after i parked i saw dave and made him get in the car to talk.  it was hella cold!  so we chatted for a while and then saw (and said "hi" to) jeff  who was volunteering and taking photos for the race.

approximately 15 minutes before the start we left the car so that i could warm up and dave could find some others he's friends with.  i ran up and down a little bit of the road and mentally thanked jeff for telling me to come with screw shoes.  the pavement was plowed and pretty clear of snow, but there were still a good deal of slick spots and areas still covered with snow.  i should have known that this was going to cause problems...

about 5 minutes before the start i headed over to the corral.  i like to be in the front so that i don't get frustrated with getting caught behind slower people.  i know that people will pass me, but i just like to get out in front and get out of the way.  so i started near the front and that's where i saw another instep running team member, andrea, so we talked a bit about the weather and our shoes.  maybe now is an appropriate time to say that if i hadn't gotten my race comped through instep for being on their team i probably would have flaked and not gone at all.  responsibility (and possibly guilt) are strong and motivational drivers.  i run for instep on their trail team as well as for oiselle voilée.  for that reason i sometimes get comped entries to races where i can represent instep... this was one of those races.

dave & i just minutes before race start - pc: jeff crosby
just moments before we took off - pc: jeff crosby

the gun goes off and we start running.  the wind is gusty and makes everything a lot more challenging and so much colder.  i feel pretty good, but right away the cold is affecting my legs.  i can feel the waterlogged dead weight feeling coming on, but i press on and try to ignore it.  i feel like i'm running pretty well and i guess i should be since the first portion of the race is essentially DOWN HILL!  while this makes me pretty happy at first i then remember that what goes down must come up... at the bottom we loop through picnic area 2's parking lot and head back up said mentioned hill.  by now i've seen a few people slipping and sliding and i hear a guy behind me say that someone fell.  i've slipped a few times and my legs are getting heavier and heavier... so heavy, in fact, that I STOP RUNNING AND WALK A FEW PACES!  

what in the ever loving fuck?!?  yup... i'm not even a hair out of mile 1 and i'm freaking walking.  there is nothing more humiliating for me in a 5K than having to walk.  i mean, it's only THREE miles for christ's sake... what is wrong with me?

so i walk a couple of paces and then start running again.  i'm surprised i can even pick up my legs at this point... they are so damn heavy.  i focus on putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.   there were several turns on the park roads and an adjacent neighborhood and then we ran downhill again to the lake.  as with before... what goes down must come up.  *sigh*

andrea fell back right out of the gate because of the slipperiness of the roads, but she moved up on and passed me around this time.  i only walked (again) a few paces but man... it sure plays with one's confidence to have to do that.  this is the first 5K i've EVER had to walk in.  EVER!  i think the fact that we started at the top of some hills was a bit unnerving for me because we started with a significant descent and then a very slight differential between that and having to head back up right away.  it was absolutely a challenge (two times over) that i was ill prepared for.

i was feeling pretty down about my performance at this point and really just trying to keep picking up my legs and putting them back down.  i knew i only had about a mile left so.... i kept pushing and really just thinking about why in the world this felt so hard.

finally, the finish came into view... i saw jeff again (taking pictures) so i put on my photo face and waved.  as soon as i passed him i went back to looking like death.  i ran through the finish incredibly relieved to be finished as i simultainously cursed the time clock which was ticking off the finish time well past what i deemed acceptable for myself.

dave was waiting at the finish with a congratulatory smile and kind words.  we went straight to the tent for the promised hot cocoa and to wait for the results.

it was a pretty spectatular turn out for a race held on a not so spectacular day.  i will try very hard to remember why i loathe racing in cold weather after this race.

this race series hands out awards for the most average runner of the race.  so the man and the woman who run exactly the middle pack pace win an entry to the "average joe" 5K which i think is really awesome and fun.  those were the first awards handed out.

next they did overall winners and then age group winners.  i always like to stay and see if i've placed in my age group.  the announcer gets to my age group and calls out my name as the 3rd place winner! yay me!  so i receive my medal and the person called as the 1st place winner of my age group is my friend cortney (i didn't think we were in the same age group so i was surprised).

dave and i left after that.  we were supposed to go run lapham (i had 10 miles on my schedule), but i was so cold and disappointed after my race that i didn't want to run at lapham.  plus dave is considerably faster than me so i didn't want to hold him back since my body is currently walking on the heaviest of railway ties.  i mean... lead weights.  iron beams. tree trunks... you get the picture.  they were damn heavy and subsequently S.L.O.W.


i headed home and ran another 6 miles on the treadmill instead.

after my shower and eating i looked at the official results only to find out that they were different than what was announced on site.  i had actually come in SECOND in my age group because (sure enough) cortney was NOT in my age group.  i contacted the race director and he confirmed that the posted results are correct.  this is where the rest of my "what could go wrong" disappointment regarding this race comes into play...

i was disappointed to learn that he was aware of the issue with the results, but chose not to do anything about it right away because it "only affected a few people".  i am a pretty serious and competitve runner and even tho' i did a pisspoor job at this race the results... the CORRECT results... are very important.  i didn't freak out or act like an ass when given this response... i just said thank you and sent him my e-mail so i can get the correct medal.  i don't want to be a jerk about it, but this is the second time this has happened to me with this race director.  the first time it was (thankfully) corrected right away so i left with the correct medal and had pictures retaken with the correct medal... now tho'... i will have pictures with the wrong medal and it's disappointing.  it sort of makes me wary of running their races.  i understand that there are A LOT of things that go into planning a race, but honestly, i think that the results are of the utmost importance.  i suppose there are some people that wouldn't care if this happened to them, but if there's even one person who cares about this then the race director should care about it also.  i would not want it to happen to someone else even if it isn't really that big of a deal... more of a minor inconvenience.  anyway... that's the race report and my experience.  if you like winter/cold weather racing then i recommend it.  the course was insanely challenging and totally worth it.  i think it's one of the most difficult 5Ks i've ever raced (and all 5Ks are truly difficult).  oh and the shirt... it was cute.  tech t with a flannel filled state of wisconsin.  the race director also said during the awards that next year they'll have ACTUAL FLANNELS! that alone might make me do it again... lol!  i mean... c'mon... a flannel race shirt?!?  that's pure gold.

Monday, February 20, 2017

60º in FEBRUARY?!? i'll take it




we have had some ridiculously beautiful weather for the past week or so now.  it has given me the chance to run on my favorite trails.  slow but beautiful given the amount of mud, standing water, and ice lurking about.  i started training for iceage 50K on monday (2/13) and the runs were nothing short of extraordinary!

i ran in the sloppiest of conditions over the weekend... it was perfect!  there is nothing i love more than trail running.

lapham peak - wednesday 2/15
lapham peak - sunday 2/19
so much mud!  the ascents were easy peasy... the descents not so much... had to be very careful.  it was a lot of fun
the slipping down ice wasn't so fun, but what can ya do?  keep on keeping on... that's what!  there was a section of trail where the ice went edge to edge for maybe 10 yards or so... down hill.  this was a bit scary because as i was bombing the edge my right foot landed on the ice... i was unable to correct and ended up slippin' and slidin' down to the bottom.  i'm proud to say that i stayed upright the whole time in spite of the trail trying to take me down.  that'll get your heart pumping!

so because i've been feeling so awesome, and the weather has been so great i decided to take advantage of a couple of races that InStep Physical Therapy & Running Center offered to the Trail Team (which i am honored to be a part of).  today i signed up for a 5K this coming weekend.  unfortunately, it is looking like it will be only a high of 30º instead of this lovely 50-60º we've been experiencing.  this is still warm enough for me to feel good about racing.  plus it's in delafield and on a trail so it's really a win/win all around.  i'm going to rock a flannel to make it official too so there's that!  given that it will be cool i should be comfortable enough in the flannel to make it worth the weirdness of racing in one.


there is still time for you to sign up for this race... in fact, i'm pretty sure they have race day registration.  come one come all!  

this was on saturday (2/18) on IAT from the nordic trail head... it was such a beautiful day!

i've also been going to crossfit semi-regularly beginning back january 1st.  i had a week there i was sick so no running or crossfit from 2/3 to 2/10.  i hate when i have such a large break in training because i (erroneously of course) believe that i'm losing fitness.  i feel so good when i'm hitting all my weekly goals.  it also helps keep my mind right.  i've been unemployed since 9/15/16 and it is at best frustrating.  running and crossfit have helped me stay sane during these difficult few months.  it is so important to stay positive.

lapham peak on sunday was glorious!

i also signed up for beartrax 20K today.  i was supposed to run it last year, but ended up dropping out of almost all of my races due to whatever weird thing that happened to my left hamstring.  this race is in one of my most favorite places, lapham peak.  lapham peak is where i began this trail running adventure, and therefore holds my heart as my favorite trails to run.  it is where it all began...

if you're new to wisconsin trail running i highly suggest coming to run this race (or any race at lapham for that matter).  this park is really runner friendly with a mixture of wide groomed ski trails, and then the IAT which runs through and is more technical and adventurous.  this race tho' is only on the groomed trails so i think it's good for someone who wants to try out trail running, but might be a little apprehensive.   prowl the peak 5K (possibly now defunct) was the first trail race i ever participated in.  it was definitely an experience and one i wouldn't trade for the world.

looks like i'm back in the saddle which is a glorious place to be.  with any luck 2017 will shape up to be a banner year all around.  big things in store for me this year...