October 28, 2013

The 40 Day Countdown!

It's recap time!

I hadn't been running the past few weeks thanks to my feet problems.

I saw the PT last Tuesday and then looked at the wod for the day: Partner wod - 400 air squats, 4000m row. I asked the PT if he thought it would be okay considering my body issues and he said he didn't see any problem with it. What I failed to consider is that I hadn't exercised in two weeks, let alone done any crossfit. Instead of doing the actual wod, the boyfriend and I each did 200 air squats at home. I proceeded to be wobbly and sore the remainder of the week...willing and praying for my legs to flush out and recover in time for my Friday long run.

They did not.

So then Friday rolled around. I took the day off so I could run my 31 miles and not have it interfere with the Halloween party on Saturday and not do it on Sunday and be exhausted all week. The plan was to run five miles, get to my friend's house and have her join me for about 13 miles, then drop her off and pick up the boyfriend for the remainder of the run.

Reality was a little different. I woke up still sore but tried to stretch out as much as I could before heading out. I made my way downstairs where I was greeted with dog throw up. Fun times. I cleaned that up, prayed it wasn't a bad omen (it was), made some coffee, ate a few bites, and then finally got myself out the door. The five miles alone were rough. It was a battle between my mind and my body. My body was pulling out all the stops to ensure I did not complete this run, and my mind was in a constant argument with itself about whether to give in to the pain or to stop being a pussy and continue on. And it was cold as balls.

I got to my friend's house about 8 minutes behind schedule, which considering how awful I felt, didn't seem too bad. I filled her in on my condition and gave her a glimpse into my fragile state. She joked and offered for us to just stay at her house and have coffee and decorate for the party. Man was I pissed that I passed that up! Instead of chatting over coffee, we decided to pick up another friend on our way out of the neighborhood. I considered it another good opportunity for me to stop and strech...still trying to convince my muscles to cooperate.

Off we went down the main road with our sites set on the gym about four miles down. For as awful as I felt, I was so extremely grateful to have the company. At times I thought it would have been better to just suffer alone out there, and who knows...I might have grinded out more miles (probably not, but I'm weird that way...where suffering alone can somehow mean more miles get done). They kept me moving at a faster pace than I would have allowed my suffering body on my own and eventually we were at the gym.

Where I promptly threw in the towel. As I sat on the mats inside the gym trying to stretch out even more, I argued with myself about calling it quits for the day. We would still have to head back to my friend's house or me to my house. The thing that kept gnawing on me was that I was now 10 miles in and suffering way more than I should be at that point. Looking down the barrel of 20 more miles just did not do it for me. The three of us decided we would walk back.

I almost (okay, I did) cried on the walk back. It was brief before I made myself push it away (until I got home in the shower alone and cried more). I honestly just don't know why this has been such an emotionally charged training season. I wonder if part of it is because so many people believe in me and I feel like I need to live up to something I'm not even sure I can do. Uninjured me would have whooped this fifty miler's butt! I wish I had that same amount of faith in myself to complete this. Easier said than done when your body keeps pulling shenanigans on you.

SO, what did I do wrong this week?

1. Squats
2. Old shoes
3. Bad attitude

The good thing is I can fix those.

I am refraining from leg workouts for the time being.

I just ordered new trail shoes.

I am constantly working on fixing my negative attitude about this race. I'm a roller coaster with it.


I'm still not throwing in the towel, even with all of this that keeps happening. This weekend I intend on running the Heart Half Marathon in Loveland. I'm going to wake up early, run 5 miles, drive with the boyfriend to the race, run the point to point course, and then instead of taking the shuttle back to the race start and the car, I will (or rather WE will) run back to the car.

Bing Bang Boom - 31 miles.

This plan allows me the security of a race shuttle in case something flares up and I can't run back to the car, and allows me company. Bless his soul for agreeing to not only run the half marathon, which would be triple the distance of his longest run, but also agreeing to keep on running after the race to a full marathon distance...forgoing a free pancake breakfast!

If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

If that works out for the 31 miles, I will feel a little more comfortable for what's approaching quickly. The following weekend I will plan for another long run, and another one the weekend after that. Then it's taper time. We are almost there! Then you won't have to hear me complaining all the time!

Now let's just hope my feet rest up in time for Saturday!

October 22, 2013

How A Math Major Reviews For A Race!


Okey Dokey.

North Face FINALLY posted the updated course guide. Hallelujah! Now I can obsess for 46 days!!!

You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Since realizing that it's been posted, I've already combed through the pages, drawn on the elevation chart, done some analysis (again, you probably think I'm joking)...


Race Start at 5am, 14 hr cutoff. Ouch.



So there's the course map. I understand that means next to nothing to most people looking at it who aren't familiar with the area.


Oouff.

And here we have it.


Yes, that says an elevation GAIN of 9,237 ft and a LOSS of 10,043 ft.

Here's some perspective:
Bear Mountian 50K Elevation


DC 50 Mile Elevation

So basically I'm in a for a world of hurt. I just hope those downhill parts are actually runnable so I can make up some time...and that I will actually be able to breathe on the uphills since I won't be at a million ft elevation.

Not going to lie...getting kind of excited. Regardless of how I do, this is a completely foreign race course to me. I haven't been able to practice on it or learn every little curve and bump, so I get to go out on race day and truly explore this area for the first time. It's supposed to have absolutely beautiful views as well, making the climbs (hopefully) worth it!

In case anyone is sooo curious, here is a breakdown of what I will encounter...aid station to aid station:

Start to Aid #1 (5 Mile Water Stop):
You will start the race in the pre-dawn and proceed through this first section, which is mainly road or fire road. Look back to see the other runners behind you snaking up Bobcat in the darkness. Enjoy the lights of the Golden Gate on Alta trail.

This section is 5.7 miles and from what I gather, it is mostly flat the first mile, 3 miles uphill, then one steep downhill mile.

5 Mile to Aid #2 (Tennessee Valley):For most runners, this portion of the race is still run in the dark.
They are talking about me here, haha. This three mile section is downhill for half a mile, one mile uphill, and the rest is downhill.

Tennessee Valley to Aid #3 (Muir Beach):This is a beautiful trail with a sweeping view of the coast, a beautiful single track that winds along high cliffs above
the Pacific.

This four mile stretch is downhill for a little over a mile, uphill for one mile, down steep for a bit, then up/flat/down. A little bit of everything!

Muir Beach to Aid #4 (Cardiac):Work on the Muir Beach wetland area means that the entrance in and out of the aid station is different in 2013. This section of the course has a number of turns at the start, but ultimately enjoys simultaneous views of San Francisco Bay, and Pacific while running along the edge of Muir Woods. At Cardiac take aid and congratulate yourself on having completed 1,500 feet of ascent. Don’t congratulate yourself too much though as you still have to climb thru Pantoll and onto McKinnon Gulch.
Fuuuun name, Cardiac. 5.2 miles consisting of 2 flat, and 3 long uphill miles.

Cardiac to Aid #5 (McKinnon Gulch):Run out along the ridge, out and over the famous, wrecked car on the Coastal Trail.
This is 4.8 miles of almost pure uphill climbing. And at the end of those miles is the first hard cut-off, which I have to be at no later than 11:28 am, which is 6 hours and 24 minutes from the start...and 22.7 miles.

McKinnon Gulch to Aid #6 (Stinson Beach):After running along through the rising thermals along the Coastal Trail, you’ll descend 1,900 feet to the cool ocean air of Stinson Beach.
Woooo hooooo downhill! That's going to feel nice after all of that climbing! This is 5 miles of rolling/flat terrain for 2 miles, then 3 miles of downhill enjoyment. I also get to pick up my pacer for the remainder of the race! Lucky him!

Stinson Beach to Aid #7 (Cardiac):
Run up the classic Dipsea Trail through the moors. Turn back to see a sweeping view of Stinson Beach and then focus as you continue to climb the Dipsea to the Cardiac Aid Station. * The new routing in 2011 means that you’ll have the pleasure of running through trees and up a long section of the famous Dipsea Trail steps before coming back to the Cardiac Aid station that you saw earlier in the race.
So this part makes me a little nervous. It's 2.7 miles of all uphill and the famous Dipsea Trail stairs. Dun Dun DUUUUUNNNNNN.

Cardiac to Aid #8 (Old Inn):
Prepare for a ride! This section has a winding difficult descent, followed by a challenging climb. Enjoy sweeping vistas along the Sun Trail, then rejoin the famous Dipsea Trail for a short time.
5.9 miles - down 1.2 miles, small up/down, uphill one mile, and down three miles. Also, the spot of the second hard cutoff. I have to be here no later than 3:18 (mile 36.3), 10 hours and 14 minutes after the start.

Old Inn to Aid #9 (Muir Beach):
This section runs you through the high grasses of the Redwood Creek trail, across two wooden bridges, and back to Muir Beach Aid Station, which you visited earlier in the day.
This is 3.6 miles, up and down for one mile, and a small downhill for three miles.

Muir Beach to Aid #10 (Tennessee Valley):
Exit Muir Beach, going up a hill you have seen earlier in the race. Then, enjoy the amazing vistas as you grind up the Fire Road, onto Coyote Ridge, up to the top.
Always so much fun to go up a hill and look forward to seeing it again later....not! This section is 4.1 miles of steep uphill for 2 miles and downhill for 2 miles. At least what goes up must come down!

Tennessee Valley to Aid #11 (Alta):
Just when you thought the climbing was over. This section will gradually ascend almost 700 feet over 2 miles of wide fire road.
What a bunch of jerks putting a hill so close to the end of the race! It's the last hard push though! Woo hoo, almost there! This section is just 2.9 miles, one mile uphill then the rest is rolling and downhill.

Alta to FINISH LINE!!!!!:
This is the last 2.8 miles of the course, two miles downhill and the rest is a slight up and flat chunk to the finish line where I can bask in glory and beer! And hopefully a tub of ice!


Okay so now that all of that is covered...who wants to come run with me for a little bit THIS FRIDAY?

I am doing my 31 miles and would love to see some supportive faces. If you don't want to run, you're always welcome to stand on 104 with a poster and a cowbell! You will be rewarded with my smiling, shimmering face! Because, what more would you want?! Nothing. You want nothing.

The plan from here on out is:

10/25 - 31 miles
11/2 - 15
11/9 - 28
11/16 - 24
11/23 - 16
11/30 - 10
12/7 - 50!

October 07, 2013

Why I Can't/Won't Quit My Ultra Marathon

Okay, well I may still be working on the answer to that statement.

Recap of Blue Sky Trail Marathon - (this is where you get lucky) There is no recap. It never happened.

You're welcome and goodnight.

Just kidding. Like I would have that short of a blog post EVER hah.

Where to begin this post...we'll start with Saturday. I finally slept in (til 9! whoop whoop!), took my time getting dressed, and drove out to watch my crossfit people get there swole on at a competition. The thing about going to those competitions is that I get to see everyone I miss (you know, from forever being absent at every wod) and I get to feel like part of the family again. That's great, and also the most horrible thing ever. I'm already hating my running life and a small, tiny little baby's breath of wind would knock me off my training plan so fast...

So I'm there, rooting everyone on, missing crossfit like whoa, feeling a little sorry for myself. At this point, I'm DREADING the race tomorrow. Let's be honest, I was dreading it way before Saturday. I got home later that afternoon and had a little cryfest to the boyfriend. I won't hash it all out again because I recently wrote on here all of my feelings. After crying a little and talking through some things, I decided that running on Sunday wasn't a good idea. I wasn't going to enjoy myself and clearly I needed the time to regroup. Later that evening I looked up the other race distances, contemplating switching my entry to the 50k or marathon. Luckily, they are sold out and not easy to switch into. I say luckily because I signed up to run 50 effing miles. I already have a 50k finisher's medal (it's actually not that cool so it'd be nice to get a new one...) and I already have a marathon medal. Not that the fact of me doing the 50 resides on medals. My point is, my dream wasn't to do those other distances. Been there done that type of thing. And as a friend put it, 'Is it better to finish something you know you can, or try at something that is harder than you thought possible?' I think my dream sucks balls right now, but nonetheless...I go forth.

With a smile on my face.

And positive thoughts in my head...

Fake-it-til-you-make-it style.


THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!!

Things that resonated with me from this weekend:

A friend of mine asked about my running while spectating at the competition. I made a self deprecating remark (I do that a lot, especially in regards to my running). I said something along the lines of 'There's no way I'm going to finish it.' He simply said, 'Well, I know you're not going to quit'. I laughed it off and told him that he might be right, I might not quit, but I might be forced off from being too slow. He essentially told me to just make sure I was a fraction faster than that.

K.I.S.S - keep it simple, stupid.

For the last wod of the competition, the team had to complete four of the women. Isabelle, Grace, Diane, and Fran. These teams had already been through the ringer with a grueling two days and six wods. I watched our last Anchor team move through Isabelle, Grace, and Diane, and then it came down to Fran. I was so inspired watching that performance. The teammate completing Fran got through the 21 reps, then the 15 reps, and time was dwindling down for the 9 reps. It looked like it took every fiber to continue through those movements, but the last rep was done with literally seconds to spare. Over the two days, I watched these athletes dig deep when they thought they couldn't give anymore and keep working til the very last second. Now I didn't want to get all 'Crossfit is the best thing in the entire world' on you, but seeing that kind of display of grit really does something to you.

So here we are now, another revised training plan. I'm going to dig deep, keep going when I think I have nothing left in me, and finish what I started.

If anyone has suggestions on how to make long runs more enjoyable and fun, please clue me in! OR, if you care to join me for a few miles during those long runs, I would be happy to have you!



Accountability. That's what's up.

October 03, 2013

65 Days and A Wake Up

Alternate title being UUUGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I die.

Time for the long run recap. This weekend the long run took place on Sunday instead of Saturday due to going to Vail Friday and Saturday.

Sidebar - Vail was fun but maybe a little too much walking before going to run twenty miles.

How about that for already making excuses?! Eh?!?!

Anyway.

Saturday night I did my usual prep work, filled my Nathan pack, grabbed a handful of Justin's Almond and Hazelnut Butters, some shot bloks, boiled some eggs for an easy breakfast...bing-bang-boom, off to bed!

My friend came and picked me up in the morning (bless her heart for only needing to run 17 miles but joining me for twenty. Bless you, I say. BLESS YOU!) We drove out to the Aurora area to pick up the Cherry Creek Trail, which thanks to my excellent navigation took us a little longer to find. Yay me! How do I survive trail races and trail running without getting lost?! NO IDEA.

So we parked at this outdoor soccer field, hit up the piddle palace, and with our empty bladders headed out on the trail! For about a mile or two! Until we had to look at the trail map on the phone because the trail kept splitting off without telling you which was way the right way! Once we pranced up and down that part of the trail trying to follow the dot on the phone, we figured it out and off we went again! I tried to be a little ambitious at first, wanting to just run. But then I remembered I'm outta shape. So I went back to my walk/run strategy of run 10 min, walk 3 min.

By Mile 5 I was already uncomfortable. The fun was starting earlier than usual. Whoop Whoop! Just kidding. It sucked though, for real. The back of my knee cap started swelling way sooner than normal (which I know, isn't normal at all...). I put all that effort into sports taping my two front knees but didn't think to do anything for the back of the knee...mostly because it usually doesn't start to bother me until I'm about 13 miles deep. I pulled to the side and decided to stretch out my hams to see if that would help...low and behold it actually worked! So note to self - stretch yo hams! All the day long!

(I'm going to give you the abbreviated version) So we (I) suffered to the turn around point at mile 10, hooped and hollered that we could finally turn around, and the wheels fell of for my partner. Me - the first half. Her - the second half. We are winners (She really is though... she is badass for real (not just saying that because she reads this (or am I? (I'm not.)))). We were touch and go there for a couple miles walking and stopping but then we decided to just get deep in the pain cave and get to the car as fast as possible.

So we're running and I'm following behind her when out of NO WHERE a snake flies out at me. He was 10 ft long, had crazy fangs, demon eyes....

Okay so he was maybe a few feet long and grey and I'm sure probably not poisonous but DAMN did he scare the crap out of me!

We continued on carefully for a little bit, and I got in front and we ran for a while longer. This time I'm jammin out to my music and in the zone when I cross this footbridge. And then a few feet away from the footbridge BAM!

I STEP. ON. A SNAKE.

This time he looked like he tried to bite me just a little bit and slithered quickly to the other side of the trail...where I launched myself after realizing what I stepped on. Gooood times.

So from then on my new goal was to haul ass to the car and get out of this snake infested land, but carefully trying to avoid running close by the grass. Which was hard because of all of the cyclists and runners/walkers out there.

Blegh, disgusting.

So we finally made it back to the car, sun burnt, wobbly, but finished.

Then I proceeded to be completely exhausted the rest of the afternoon/evening and the rest of this week so far. I did take a cold epsom salt bath to aid in speedy recovery so I can run *decently* at the marathon this weekend, so I actually feel not so bad this week physically. Little knee pain, little quad-ness. Mostly just tired as balls.

Segue - the marathon this weekend! So I haven't actually done anything active this week. Hooray me! Monday was an off day for running and I even planned on going to the gym for ab and arm work but I was so ridiculously tired that I didn't go. Yay paying for my membership since February but rarely ever going! Thanks body! Thanks 50 miler training! Thanks self for doing this to..your..self...

I'm pretty nervous about the race because of the bad memories I have from the Month of Half Marathons and the very last race in that month..the Black Squirrel. Black Squirrel is the sister race to the Blue Sky Marathon and it's on the other side of the reservoir. So, remembering the difficulty of B.S., I am definitely worried about the Blue Sky. At least the temps should be in the sweet spot with a high of 63! Jumping from 20 miles to 26? Suuuure, no problem when you've already jumped from 0 to 13 to 17 to 20. With minimal activity each week in between the long runs. FMRL (the r is for running. regular life is the bees knees).

New segue - me crying two days ago on the couch after work. Yeeeep. That happened for real. Ever been so frustrated with things than it breaks you down to tears? I put my workout gear on, even sized my jump rope ready to go do the wod when I thought about the actual movements. Lunges. Squats. Double Unders. Pain. So I pulled the plug on going. Then I sat on the couch and cried just a little.

I'm so fed up with this chunk of months. The quasi injuries keeping me from things, the training plan depleting my energy and time...withholding me from crossfit workouts for fear that I will hurt my knees more, my knees already hurt, the workout will tear up my legs and I won't be able to get good runs in, etc etc. (Before you get all up in arms about stuff, the knee problem is my fault for the way my training plan has gone.)

SO FRUSTRATED. I am ready to taper. To push myself as much as my body and mind will allow in 65 days, and put this race behind me. Get back to a normal day to day life where I can actually hang out with my boyfriend on Saturdays and Sundays without being too exhausted to function. To finally stop stressing out and feeling guilty about not going to the gym or missing a run. Or being able to make plans on a Friday night because I don't have to stress about waking up at the crack of dawn to go run 31 miles alone.

Segue!!!! (Trust me, I know I don't NEED to actually say segue when I segue...I just like doing it today. Deal with it.) So all of this complaining brings me to my 31 mile run I decided to place on October 25th. I plan on taking a vac day to knock that bad boy out so it doesn't interfere with a bachelorette party the weekend before, or the halloween party on the 26, or a wedding on Nov 1.

Someone promise to make me read this post when I decide to sign up for another one. Please. I beg you.

31 miles alone. Yowza that's going to be reeeally rough. I'm going to have to find a location and start planning out the logistics of getting this done. I just hope I can summon the mental strength I will need to keep myself going...

Welp, this ended up being pretty long (and NO pictures?! How dare I!). So if you actually hung in there through all that rambling, I say to you...go get a hobby or find something better to do than read this nonsense!

Just kidding.

Thanks for 'listening'! You're a good friend, who ever you are!