Sunday, November 4, 2012

Anything but running is dumb


So I'm almost four weeks into no running because I'm letting the tendinitis in my patellar tendon chill out.  Been going to the gym, working core, and trying to find something to maintain fitness.  Elliptical hurts my knee.  Regular bike hurts my knee.  Recumbent bike doesn't.  Here are a list of things I did on the bike yesterday that prove why it is infinitely more dumb than running:
-check my email
-check facebook
-read an article online
-peruse the internet
-fiddle about with my mp3 player extensively
-have a leisurely conversation with a gentleman about running (oh, the irony)
-text my fiance

Then I came home and filled up 26 of those lawn and leaf bags full of leaves from our lawn.  Yup.  26.  And that made my knee sore.

Today I'm coming prepared.  I'm bringing a magazine (Runner's World) and a book.  The only time I have to come prepared for a run is if I'm running trails and need to bring appropriate shoes and maybe gaiters.

I can't win.  But I do know one thing:  anything but running is dumb.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An open letter to New Haven, Michigan

Don't Be Dumb

Here are my beefs with how the wussification of America has effected Halloween.

First off, don't be dumb.

November First is when the Catholic Church celebrates All Saint's Day. October 31st is All Hallow's Eve. The word Hallow means "holy." Hence the abbreviation Hallowe'en. You can't just move it to a different day because it's cold or wet.

New Haven, Michigan has moved Halloween to Saturday because it's supposed to be rainy, windy and cold out tonight.  First of all, I remember going trick or treating in the snow.  Second of all, you can't just move a day.  Why don't we just move June First to the middle of December?  I like that idea.  This way, we'll have some warm weather in December.  Better yet, why don't we just move the whole month?  I'm overjoyed that I don't live in a community run by a bunch of idiots.

Second off, don't be a wuss

Many communities have an ordinance that places a curfew on trick or treating.  7 - 7:30 pm.  Really?!?!  We didn't start until it got dark out.  We stopped when there were no more porch lights on.  After our neighborhood was exhausted, we'd have a parent drive us to another one.
Oh look.  It's dark.

What's the deal?  All of a sudden our kids can't be out after dark?  Are they going to turn into a pumpkin?
Stop being a wuss.

Last, get a grip

Many elementary schools will not allow kids to bring toy weapons as part of their costume.  I understand the reasoning behind that.  But are our teachers and school administrators that lazy that they are unable to closely observe students to verify that it is indeed a toy?
They also don't allow anything "scary."  Fake blood is definitely a no-no.  What?!?!  Halloween is all about being scary.  It's the most spook-tacular holiday there is!  
Not allowed.  Too scary.
America, we really need to get a grip.  The wussification of this great country has gotten completely out of hand.  I foresee a future where trick or treating is completely banned.  Where our young boys have to dress up like ballerinas or fairies or some such nonsense when they go to school.  What a load of crap.  We need to take a stand.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm prententious

The only reason that I opened a blogger account was to have a medium in which to share my race reports.  I always thought that people who kept blogs were pretentious.
I mean, honestly, who wants to read your thoughts?
But here I am, posting a non-running report.

I'm currently in week three of no running.  It sucks.  I go to the gym on the days that I would normally run.  By the time my knee is healed, I'll have the lower back and abs of a Norwegian man named Olaf.  Or perhaps a Swede named Sven.  Not sure there.
All I know is that it sucks.

I suppose this is all a life lesson of some sort, but I try not to look too hard into crap like that.

So that's it for today.  Maybe more tomorrow.  We'll see.

My sweet new shoes that I won't be wearing for a while

Monday, October 15, 2012

REDEMPTION

or

Top Of Michigan 100k

or

How My Friend Pulled Me Through



History

If you've been reading my race reports, you know that on September 8, I completed my first ultra, the Woodstock 50M.  Then, two weeks later, I dropped at North Coast 24 hr after 6 hours.  Doing that hurt.  On Saturday, October 13, I had the opportunity to redeem myself at Top Of Michigan 100k.  The only problem that I foresaw was the fact that I had developed patellar tendinitis that manifested itself after my first ultra in September.  In the five weeks prior to this 100k, I had only put in about 80 miles, with 36 of them coming at NC 24 hr.  So the fact that I may not have been fit enough was a worry.
Also, I believe that ALL jinxes are valid in sports.  That being said, I had already purchased the 100k sticker.  It wasn't on display, but I was worried that I had jinxed myself.

Overview



Top Of Michigan 100k (TOM), is a small race that can be run as an individual or part of a relay.  There are six relay legs ranging in length from 7.9 miles to 16.7 miles.  Jeff Winegard, the RD, was super awesome.  He was very involved, being at every relay leg, asking us how we were doing.  The volunteers were also tremendous.  They acted as traffic stoppers and AS volunteers in the rain.  I remember one of the last AS she had everything covered in plastic because it was raining.  She got out of her car, offered some goodies to us...  Everyone was so awesome!!!
I, of course, ran the individual.  I was accompanied on my journey by my friend Kurt Adams.  This guy is awesome.  More on that later.

The Race

This was my first venture into the > 50M realm.  The overall elevation is -758 ft.  There were no hills, so no built in walk breaks.  
We started out as a group of three: Kurt, John Sands and myself. 
me, Kurt and John
Before you do a double take, yes, I'm wearing a running skirt.  Many (mostly male) volunteers asked me why.  My answer?  "Because I'm confident enough to." 

Crystal and I before the start
My super beautiful and awesome fiance, Crystal, provided support at every relay leg stop.  She was fantastic.  I would pull in, she would fill up what I needed filling up, give me some encouragement and send me on my way.  She also provided support for Kurt and John.
About 10 miles in, John had to take an in-the-woods break, and we didn't see him again until mile 28.  
It was right before this point that I really hit bottom.  Everything was hurting.  I was tired.  I wanted to stop.  Kurt kept reminding me how crappy I'd feel if I DNF (did not finish).  I pulled into the relay leg at 28 to stop at Crystal's car with Kurt yelling to her "Keep him going beautiful.  That way <motioning down the trail>."  She asked me how I was doing.  I told her "I hurt."  She asked what hurt.  I took stock and said, "My pride, mostly."  She said, "If you're tired, that's fine.  But if you're hurt, that's a different story."
I love this girl.  
I got what I needed and carried on.

Further on down the road

So we made it to the 50k point and started incorporating walk breaks.  After running that long, starting and stopping running is what hurts the most.  Once you're going, the pain is just background noise that you can tune out.  We ran as a group of three again for quite awhile, wrapped up in our own thoughts.  That can suck when you're trying to drown out that background noise of pain.
At mile 36, Kurt says, "The starting gun for the marathon just went off."  I told him to suck my nuts.  He gave me a 5 hr. energy to try.  I was hesitant to try one of these.  I had never had one period.  Much less trained with one.  I told him that if I got violently ill, I'd be blaming him.  His response?  "If it gets you to the finish, you can do whatever you want."  It did not make me ill, and it helped get me over the hump.
Our three person group goal was sub 12 hours.  In our lucid, able to do math moments, Kurt would inform us that we were still on point for that.  John had brought along a map of the course, with mileage distances from AS (aid station) to AS (there were AS in between the longer legs).  This comes into play later.

The Last Leg (Cheboygan to Mackinaw City)

After leaving Crystal for the last time until the finish, the three of us started back down the road.  It was 16.7 miles until the finish.  It was at this point that I looked closely at John's map.  I noticed that the last AS was 4.1 miles from the finish.
Around mile 50, another friend from our local ultra group (RUT), Andrew Harding, caught up with us.  After a mile or so, he and John took off on their own.  They went on to finish in 11:48:xx.  Great Job Guys!!!
Kurt and I were hurting.  We would run for one mile, walk for .2.  Then it was run .8, walk .2.  Even during the latter, we were still doing sub 12 minute miles, so we were on point.  Kurt's watch died, so I let him know when we reached the 10k left point.
I kept checking my watch, waiting for that last AS.  We passed 4 miles to go.  I started to realize that my watch mileage was higher than our actual mileage.  I saw the last AS in the distance, about a half mile up.  I didn't tell Kurt my suspicion's yet.  When we reached it, we had 3 miles to go by my watch.  We asked a volunteer how much longer.  When she said "4.1," all wind was taken out of our sails.  I told Kurt, "We're not going to make it."  Referring to our sub 12 goal.  A volunteer tried to pep us up.  I remember thinking, "Look lady, we're gonna' finish.  We just ran 58 miles.  Shut up."
We ended up walking more that last little bit.  We actually walked the last mile or so.  We came to the last road crossing and a volunteer got out of his car to warn traffic.  I shouted to him, "Don't worry about it.  We'll wait."  We asked him how much farther and he said a half mile.  I told Kurt, "My watch says .8 by the new math.  I'm not running until I see the finish."
And then there it was.  We just looked at each other and started running.
this hurt

100k in the books.  12:14:50.

phew!

Post Race

Sitting in the covered pavillion just past the finish, I saw another RUT member, Mark McCaslin.  He's a 100M veteran.  I told him, "Mark, I don't think that I can run 100 mile."  In fact, I never wanted to run again.
My perspective changed the next morning.  Yeah, I was pretty sore.  But I couldn't wait to start training for the next one.  Now I had no race obligations, so I could give my knees time to heal.
100 Miler, Here I Come!!!

Lessons Learned

  • After running that long, starting and stopping running is what hurts the most.
  • With a solid spring/summer base, it's possible to complete 100k.  Painful, but possible.
  • Running with a friend is invaluable.
  • When traveling from Gaylord, MI to Mackinaw City, MI, it's quicker and much less painful to drive.

Food consumed

  • 80 oz. Go Juice
  • 1.5 almond butter and jelly sandwiches
  • 12 pringles
  • handful of pretzels
  • handful of dried fruit

Monday, September 24, 2012

How Bad Quitting Hurts

(or)

How I Ran 6 hrs in a 24 hr Race

(or)

DNMEGM

(Did Not Meet Expected Goal or Mileage)

I'm not really feeling writing this race report.  It involves me quitting, and I didn't think that word was in my vocabulary anymore.  Apparently it is though, so here it goes.  There will be only one picture.

Background

I ran my first ultra, Woodstock 50M, on September 5th.  That went swimmingly.  Had a great time.  Had a great race.  Fast forward two weeks to North Coast 24.  My goal was 100 miles.  This was so the distance was no longer intimidating.  Everybody ready?  Here we go.

Oh boy, I'm in... Cleveland

Rode down to Cleveland with my mother and her friend.  This was the first time that I had left the state in 14 years.  That wasn't really too exciting.  Took pictures in preparation for this blog.  
One thing about Ohio: they don't have "Rest Areas" like we do here in Michigan.  They have "Service Centers."  These are like mini malls.  They have the rest-rooms, a food court, all kinds of fun stuff.  
And Cleveland is WAY cleaner than Detroit.  WAY.

Pre-Race Dinner

This was held as an informal event at Player's restaurant in Lakewood, OH.  Very nice place.  Very nice dinner.  Only a handful of other runners attended.  The entire medical staff was there, and there were a bunch  of them.  That was cool.  Had a great meal.  But that's not why you're here either.

Race Time

It was chilly on the lake at the 9am start.  Between 50 - 60 degrees fahrenheit, so I had my running hat and gloves on, as well as a light windbreaker with tech long and short sleeved shirts.  The course is a .9 mile loop.  After one loop, took off the hat and jacket.  Another couple laps and I was down to just the tech short sleeved.  Then I ran in a circle for about four hours.
At this point, I started feeling sleepy and my mind started giving me the "This is too much too soon" line on a continuous loop.  I tried to reason with my mind, telling it all the training I had put in, but it didn't want to listen.  For all I know, it could have been too much too soon.  I put on some music and kept on trucking.
At about 50k, I turned into the med tent for a stretching session.  Those volunteers were amazing.  I came out of that tent feeling like I was ready to run another 50k.  Then the storm blew in.  
I was watching it approach as I finished a lap.  When I knew I wasn't going to make another one before it started, I grabbed my $3 rain poncho and did another lap.

This was taken during my last lap.  When I turned the corner, a 50+ mph wind hit me in the face.  I wasn't ready for this physically or mentally.  I finished the lap then retreated into the restrooms.  I watched it hail.  I watched tents and canopies get blown away.  I was done.  The wind had ripped the poncho right off of my arm.  That was the only rain gear I owned at the time.  (First stop upon getting home was REI.  I now own a VERY nice water PROOF [not resistant] jacket).
I called my fiance, Crystal, and told her what was going on.  I said, "I'm not having fun anymore."  Normally, I LOVE running in the rain.  Bring on a thunder storm!  This time, it was the proverbial straw that broke my back.
Then called my mother and told her I was quitting and to come pick me up.
Told the RD.  Stopped by the med tent for one more stretch out.  Gathered my stuff.  Went back to the hotel.

Aftermath

I knew, in my head, that I had done the right thing.  Crystal, my father and my mother all said that I had done the right thing.  But all I could think about were all the people that were still out there.  All the people that HADN'T pussed out.
Threw up a post on the Ultra List and my ultra goup's face book page.  I needed other ultra runners to tell me that it was ok.
I got an awesome response.  Thank you all for your encouragement.

In Conclusion

This report did help a bit.  A bit.  I have an 100k in less than three weeks that will restore me I think.  That one WILL be fun.  I'll be with a group of friends from my ultra group, and we're going to ROCK it!!!
36 miles in 6 hours.  40 loops.  I will be back.

Lessons Learned

  • Spend some money on rain gear.  It's worth it.
  • Sometimes your mind is right.  Not often, but sometimes.
  • Ultra runners deal with pain.  But there's still a part that's fun.  If it stops being fun, why do it?  
So tune in three weeks from today for "How I ran across the top of Michigan, and all I got was this lousy shirt"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Woodstock 50M report

(or) A first timer's account of a 50 Miler

(or) If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball

Why?

The original plan, circa January 2012, was to run the Detroit Marathon at the end of this year, and start running ultras in 2013.  That ended when I was informed that Canada wasn't keen on letting me into their country.  So the ultra plan got moved up to this year.
Like everything in my life, my philosophy is "Go big or go home."  I ran the 50M last weekend, am running North Coast 24 hr. 22-23 September, and Top of Michigan 100k 13 Oct.  I also have personal reasons for trying to jam all that into this fall, but that's not why you're here.

Training

I'm the type of cat who has to have a schedule to follow.  Do this workout on this day.  Makes one less thing for me to think about.  It took awhile, but I was able to find a good one online.  Later meshed that with the one in "Relentless Forward Progress."  Mine can be viewed here.  The only hiccup was in the summer when I was running some races on the weekend.  Also tweaked my foot the Saturday before the race.  Took most of the week preceding the race off.  Turned out fine.  
If you don't want to view it, peak week was 77.13, total mileage in training was 942.41.

The Day Before


The Woodstock festival of races is cool in idea.  They have everything from a 5k to 100M.  100k and 100M start at 4 pm on Friday, which is a nice idea.  This way, you're doing your night portion while still relatively fresh.
Got to the campground the day before to scout out my camp site and see one of my friends off for his first 100M.  After meeting his family and giving him a rousing send off, I went back to pick up my fiance (crew chief extraordinaire) from work.  I can't give her enough props.  She's understood my new found love/obsession with running and indulged me.

We settled in that evening.  It rained the entire night.  Hard.  All I could think of was the brave 100 runners.  They did awesome.

Race Time

My preparations were simple.  First was my progress bar.  I'm a computer dork an Microsoft has made me a progress bar junkie.  If I can see that something's happening, then I'm cool.  The 50M consisted of a run around the campground (.2M) and 3, 16.6M loops.  This is my progress bar.  3 rubber bands.

Second was my fuel.  Mr. Jonathan Savage has it on his wiki.  I've found his go juice to be invaluable.  I have a hard time eating after running more than 3 hours, and at almost 300 calories/8 oz., his juice is awesome.  I did miscalculate how much I would need, bringing only 2 quarts when I needed 3, so I had to supplement with pb&j and pringles at the AS.  Everything else was just trust in my training.

And They're Off

6 am start.  In the chute, I found two friends from our local ultra group (RUT), Kurt and Darin.  More on them in a minute.  There were 205 people running the 50k and 50M and both races started at the same time.  After the loop around the camp ground, we entered the single track.  205 people...  It eventually cleared up, but it took us 20 minutes to cover the first 1.5 miles.  This is far slower than I wanted to go.  My primary goal was to finish sub 12, with a secondary to finish sub 10.  Too ambitious for a first?  Read on...
Running with my friends made the first 25 miles the funnest 25 miles I've ever run.  Talking, laughing, running, shouting... we had a blast.  Here we are after lap 1 (16.8M in).  From left to right, Darin, Kurt and myself.  The headlamp is still there because we started in the dark and we hadn't hit my base camp yet.

Loop one was completed in 3:21.

Loop # 2

The start of the second loop coincided with the start of the full and half marathon races.  That made for some crowded single track.There are three aid stations on the course, and one at the start/finish.  They're roughly four miles apart.  After the second AS of this loop, Darin and Kurt started to lag.  I told them adios and carried on by myself.  I had my Mp3 player at base camp with my fiance/crew chief Crystal, and had planned on picking it up for the last loop.  This made the last half of this loop fairly long and boring.  More so after having so much fun the first 25.  I did alot of praying/thanksgiving to God out loud, and that made it way better.  Finished this loop at 6:40.  Negative split!  Here I am, signifying I have just one more lap left.

Last Lap

Allright!  Got my music, and I started rocking!  My Garmin died around 7 hours, but that was cool with me.  I was enjoying rocking through the trails, having a good time.  I was keeping track of my time on my Mp3.  When I hit the AS that's half way through the loop at 3 pm, I knew I wouldn't be hitting sub 10.  I was still going to get it as close to that as I could though.  Did the ol' standing quad stretch then I started running faster.  Because this was my first ultra, I didn't let it all hang out, because I didn't know if I'd be able to make it.  I still turned it up a bit.  
Upon reaching the AS that was 4 miles from the finish, I let loose.  Up until that point, I was power walking the serious hills.  Now I was running everything.  Don't know my 4 mile splits for the last 8, but I did the last 8 in 70 minutes.  Not bad for the last eight of a 50.
Finishing time: 10:10:23.  No AG award, but I was happy.  Sore, but happy.  This is me shooting off the last rubber band, signifying that my progress is now complete.  The following is the profile for one loop:

4,121 ft. total gain for the 50 miles.
Did I mention that I was happy?

Lessons Learned

  • It only hurts.  Ignore it and it won't bother you.
  • Make sure your math is right when you're figuring out your fuel.
  • It's possible to let it all hang out sooner than you might think.
  • Pringles are the awesomest food ever invented.
That's all I've got.  You've been a great audience.  Tune in in two weeks for my next installment:  "How bad does 24 hours really hurt?"