Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hello Mojo Good Riddance to June!

The training mojo is back!

I am glad to be done with the month of June. I was sick, my dog had surgery, has been diagnosed with cancer, I had dental surgery twice.  I was getting exhausted just working my normal shifts at work.I am up a few pounds with stress and not caring.

I had a good run around the block today. I listened to a podcast on the Barkley and was actually thinking about that race for 2012 again. I haven't been exhausted at the end of my work shifts.

It doesn't hurt also that I am on the first day of six days off work-yeah!  We are having house guests, and the dog is going to the specialty vet today, so my running schedule is staying  very flexible.

I am going to Mohican Friday afternoon to run with Rob Powell, on some blessed trails. We are meeting at the Covered Bridge at 5pm, if anyone is interested.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Stuff

I don't know if I posted about this before. I have a new handheld bottle that I really like:

It is an Amphiphod. I used these at MMT, courtesy of Mongold, and I really like them. They curve your hand around the bottle, so you are not really holding or clenching the bottle. I liked them so much, I bought two shortly after the race and have been using them ever since.

The other new thing is almond milk!

No, you can't milk an almond, and it really should be called "almond beverage" but you can use it just like a milk product. I don't really like milk so if I buy it, it usually spoils before I finish a carton. The almond milk is tasty, and I have finished both boxes I have bought, I've tried two brands.
Of course, when I googled almond milk, it brought up recipes, so next round I will have to try making it myself!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today's Run

I thought we should have some cheese to go with my whine...

  • I started at noon. I baked through miles 0 to 4. I almost had to jump over a guard rail when a semi-trailer took the entire state road through a blind curve. What if there had been an Amish buggy in the other lane, buddy?
  • Mile 5 I got to the ridgeline. I could see the storm in the distance. However, it did blow up a nice breeze
  • Mile 6 the storm began. I was glad I had on my visor and sunglasses. The temperature dropped and it felt like almost hail. It stormed through mile 8. I was hoping the husband would come and extract me, but he was "helping me train" and did not.
  • Mile 8.1 I was heading through Peoli, the sky was blue again and the clouds were white and fluffy. The Amish were amused by my bedraggled appearance
  • I could see the next storm approaching. It hit me right at mile 11, right before home. I walked it in, heck I was already wet!

Worst run I have had in a long time. My hamstrings were extremely tight, my left calf was hurting again. I was not into the run, yet I kept going.
There is two big positives about today's run. 1) I got 11 miles in, my longest run since MMT.  2) At no point did I turn this negative on myself. The run was what it was. But I didn't think about the run being sucky because I was A) fat B)  Slow C) blah blah blah.  There just wasn't anything personal about it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Almost Heaven

I drove down to West Virginia to work an Aid Station for the Highlands Sky Race, June 18.

Highlands Sky is a 40 mile race that runs like a 50 miler.

The West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners is pleased to offer the 9th annual Highlands Sky Trail Run, the ultimate ultrarun in the Mountain State. The event is centered at Canaan Valley Resort State Park while most of the course is in the surrounding Monongahela National Forest.
The course traverses Roaring Plains and Dolly Sods Wilderness through some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in West Virginia. Dolly Sods is an area of high elevation, windswept plains ranging from 2500 to 4700 feet elevation. Trail terrain varies from woodland paths, rock and boulder, to upland bogs, through northern hardwoods at lower elevations, to Red Spruce and heath barrens above 4000 feet. Canaan is the highest large valley east of the Mississippi. The Valley creates the headwaters of the Blackwater River and has a unique environment composed of wetlands and uplands with vegetation characteristic of more northern latitudes.

I had been having a stressful work week, but as I entered West Virginia for the second time, and departed south of Morgantown, I started to decompress. It didn't hurt that I had to traverse switchbacks over two mountains until I got into the Canaan Valley area.

Our Aid Station is the last one, Aid Station #8. The runners only have 4.1 miles to go to the finish. But they have also ran 36 miles to get to our Aid Station.  And a good amount of runners have gone off course due to course vandalism-the trail markings have been removed.

The Virginia Happy Trails Club had a good showing with Aaron Schwartzbard and Eva Pastalkova taking the wins respectively.  Aaron ran by our Aid Station at 1130, looking fresh, like he had just started his run. Eva was not too far behind. When she came through our Aid Station, she was #6 overall.  She stopped to congratulated ME on MMT.  I believe she may have finished #5 overall.

It was slow going at the Aid Station. Runners were coming through singly,then a few in groups, then more in groups. Most all seemed to have gone off course, and were gracious about it. They weren't eating much at the last Aid Station. Most wanted ice water,Mountain Dew or Coke, and then were off to the finish line.

As time wore on, we were cognizant of the time. The race ended at 6 pm. There was no cut off at our Aid Station, as we were only 4 miles from the finish. 

One of the last runners, a female, came through about 5 minutes to 5pm. She took the last of the sweet tea, and we urged her to hustle these last 4 miles. (She did end up finishing.)

Before long, the last two runners, a couple, showed up, with our sweeps, Greg and Paula Smith.

What is a sweep? In well managed trail races,the Race  Director will have people out sweeping the course. They will follow the last runner, and usually pick up trail markers and trash also. It's a safety measure, to make sure all runners are accounted for.

For our Aid Station, this meant we were free to go. We quickly broke down the rest of the food and drink, and packed vehicles. Time for us to head to the finish line and get some food!

It was a good day to work an Aid Station. The skies were overcast and we had a breeze. We had good humored and gracious runners. All were polite to me, Kenny, and Manon.

If you are an ultra runner and have never been on the "other side of the table" I highly recommend you work an aid station. One,  you give back. Two, as an ultra runner, you know what these folks are going through. Some people I handed a cup of ice water without them asking. Several I handed the icy cold sponge we had handy to squeeze over their head. We kicked several chatty runners out when they wanted to linger a bit.

Another successful run put on by the  West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners!

P.S. I am looking for some folks to work my Aid Station for the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 mile Run August 26!




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Around the Block

The shorter block. I work the late shift today. I got up early, wasn't feeling the love for the run.

 Opened up my blog reader, and saw some posts of other athletes. That gave me enough motivation to put on Sunday's smelly running clothes and get out there.

Once out, of course, typical reaction-felt good, felt fine, glad to be running!

I have noticed one thing, one very special thing. I am running up hills. I am not stopping to turn it into a walk, I am just powering it up the hill-without that much effort.

These are not fast runs up the hills-but they are still runs, not the walking leg turnover.

Very interesting. I do feel like I am on my way to Part Two.

I  have still been a little exhausted after working my ten hour shifts. I believe it's two things: 1) we are short handed at work so I am being over-worked; 2) still not at 100% recovery from MMT.

So I am not pushing the training yet, hence a 4 mile run instead of the 10K.  Eventually I want to turn the 10K into my normal routine run.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Conquered the Hill

This is the hill I mentioned, in one of my first post MMT runs, that it didn't seem so big and long anymore.

I had vowed to make it a summer goal to RUN up this hill, no walking.

Maybe it was the week off of running.

I started running up the hill.  I got to the driveway where I had turned it over to a walk last week.

I ran past that.Still was able to breathe, so kept the legs in the running turnover rather than switching to the "walking mode".

Kept going farther. The hill flattens in the middle for a few feet, as I continued running it. I glanced up. Not that far to go.

Screw it, I'm going to run the whole thing today.

The last 20 feet turn into a steeper grade. But I knew I was almost at the top. Then, I was! I did it!!!!!!!!

My dogs (the ones that live at the top of the hill) didn't even come out to congratulate me.

Well, that was a summer goal. Now what?  Now I need to time myself on this hill, and get a benchmark.

So as I lose some more weight, I can get a bit faster on this RUN up the hill.

Part Two

It’s time to start planning out Part Two.

I’m still in recovery from MMT, so still enjoying a somewhat guilt free little exercise happening. (Getting sick also helps with the no exercise too.)

Although I am  a big proponent of seeking out and finding new races to do, my next few runs/races will be repeats-it’s simply that I enjoy them so much, it’s a no brainer not to return to them.

First race is 12 Hours of Big Bear Lake. This will be interesting, because I want to do 8 loops, my longest mileage. I have not been running much at all. I hope to ease back into that this week, and not try to  OVER DO IT.  We will just have to see. 8 Loops or not, it will be a good day of getting back to a “long” run.

The Ring-I have to repeat The Ring again. I now know exactly what I am getting into! 
This would give me July and August (after Big Bear Lake) to ramp up some hill climbing and heat training.

Fall “A” Race is the WV Trilogy. I dropped from the 50 mile race in anticipation of not making the cut off.  This year, with my weight loss, better education on how to eat for an ultra, and knowledge about what I am getting myself into-I can finish the 50 mile in the time limit.

There will also be other races too-YUTC, perhaps the Groundhog 50K, The Big Schloss, Slim Pickins, in the fall. So many to choose from, who knows which I will be able to attend.

The family life is the big IF right now. My dog is recovering from surgery, and has to be watched 24/7.  I doubt I will be getting away for any out of town runs for quite a while-in fact, who knows if I will be able to attend Big Bear Lake 12 Hour Race in July.  So any plans and training has to revolve around the family right now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Back to Journalling

I finally weighed myself this week, and was relieved to see I am at 166.5 lbs, which is 6 lbs up pre-MMT, which was my lowest weight. Relief in that it wasn't more.
Between the dog being sick, and ME being sick, I really wasn't measuring food, or really caring. I had some 'pity me' indulgences (like most of a bag of potato chips last night, so my  weight might actually be lower due to all that salt).

I still struggle with the typical female body image. Take this picture for example. I am FINISHING the hardest 100 mile race east of the Mississipi. It's a great picture. I like it.

 Photo By Bobby Gill

But do you know what my second reaction to the picture was? "Wow, look at my arms. I need to get to some weight training."
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why can't we just celebrate how strong those arms were, pumping to walk down those dirt roads quicker, holding 1 lb water bottles in each hand for 32 hours?

Retail Therapy

Since I decided I wasn't going to indulge myself with food, my latest indulgence is retail therapy-or I should say on-line shopping retail therapy. Other than one trip up north for Lloyd's birthday party, I have not ventured more than 25 miles from home.
In this 25 mile radius, there is limited shopping. In other words, our biggest stores are a Walmart, Kmart,various dollar stores and a few other local grocery stores. I have been wanting to go clothes shopping, but with the dog surgery right after my epic work week from hell, it's not happened.
So when the twill shorts I bought on-line arrived, I tried on, and immediately bought two more pairs. Who knows when I will get to a store. I have plenty of sports shorts, but no 'non-sport' shorts.
REI-Outlet also had a 20% coupon, and I got a pair of rain pants, a jacket, and I did splurge for a new rain jacket with a fabric called eVent. It's supposed to be very breathable.
Note these are future adventures. I hope to be getting some good training in over the winter this year for future events to come. Having the right gear can make you far less miserable out there.

I spent the day doing some yard work and gardening. The dog had her wound debrided. It looks both better  and worse now. We are playing tag team with keeping an eye on her. Right now, I am on dog-sitting duties while the husband gets some work done in his office.  When I was outside working, he was keeping her company.  She is doing well, she's in very good spirits. She just has some horrific open wounds.
The other two dogs are being so good. We're also trying to show enough attention to them too. 
Hopefully the dog will continue to improve and we'll get adjusted to all this. Just a stressful time right now.

I plan on going for a run in the morning. My swollen lymph node has subsided. I am only planning on a 4 mile run, at an easy pace, and just ease back into training. I got a bit scared last week, with how sick I got practically overnight, I don't want a repeat of that!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out for Laurel

Due to the dog's health, the husband could not handle her alone this weekend, so I do not get to go over to the Laurel Highlands. Good luck to all the runners.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Laurel Highlands Preview

This upcoming weekend is the Laurel Highlands Race- the 77 miler, and the 50K.

It's usually a 70.5 mile race, point to point, but the bridge over the PA turnpike was removed last year, due to structural isssues, so there is a 6.5  mile detour.  As many of us found out last year, that road section detour was just downright nasty.

But now it's a known quantity, so if you have run the race in 2010, you should be prepared.

Race start: You will  start in the State Park, where there are restrooms available. You will run down the main street, cross the very active railroad crossing, and then head down a rough road. You will have about 1/4 to 1/2 mile before the LHHT starts up to the left. Just a short little climb, then it will open up a bit where you can pass runners again.
After about the first mile marker, it will settle down into single track and much more difficult to pass, so if you don't want to get stuck behind slower runners, you might want to get ahead at the start.
A good climb at mile 3, with a great down hill runnable on the back side, another good climb and downhill

Mile 6, where you will see the signs for the shelter, is the beginning of the 1.5 mile climb. This is the big climb of the race. Do not get freaked out here. Lots of people do, they think the entire course is going to be like this. 
Mile Marker 8? Congrats, you've made it to top of the big climb. Now you have some nice runnable sections.

AID STATION coming up at mile 11.6.  You better have drained both those water bottles you started the race with.

Stop and admire the rhododendrons and huge boulders when you cross the stream at Mile 15, on the three wooden bridges. Maybe there will still be water flowing this year.

Now you are on your way to your next Aid Station, at Mile 19.3 miles. Right around the mile 18 marker, you will encounter a short, nasty climb up through some boulders. It's short, but steep. But the AS will be on the top side of this climb.

Now your focus will be getting to the Seven Springs Aid Station. The Aid Station will be right around mile 26, where you come out of the woods to the Seven Springs Ski Resort.
Make sure you wet your hat or bandana down here. You will run across the ski resort, it will all be exposed sunlight and hot. Maybe a 1/2 or 3/4 mile until you run around a lake, then back down hill, and follow the LHHT.
Although Seven Springs is the highest point on the course, beware at mile 28, there is a short, steep hill.
Next Aid Station is mile 32.3.  You will then hear the dreaded words: "Next Aid station is 12 miles". (Well, 11.7 miles.) This is also where you will encounter the 6.5 mile road section detour.

All I can say is drink up, take all the water you can carry, and hope for a rain storm.
The first section of the road is not bad, it is actually a long gradual downhill. For me, after having cement mile markers each mile for 33+ miles, you now do not have them.
You should know you run down this road (I believe it is Kuhntown Road) until it intersects with West Bakersfield Edie Road. You will see the PA Turnpike on your left, and keep thinking you are getting close, but this road goes on on. There are BIG LHHT detour signs, you will not get lost here.
You turn left onto the Bakersfield Edie  Road. This is an asphalt road of rolling hills. There is la little berm and cars drive fast here, so be alert and running facing traffic like you should.
It seems like forever until you finally see the road over the turnpike. You cross the turnpike, and now you start back up a less travelled, kind of gravelly road-this should be Hickory Flats Road. This is still exposed to the sun.
Eventually you will come to now mile 44 of the race, to the Hickory Flats Aid Station. Be NICE TO THE VOLUNTEERS they did NOT CREATE THIS DETOUR!!!!!!!
You also will have access to your drop bag here.
Then you are back into the blessed woods and trail again.

Right around LHHT mile marker 41, you will see the Beam Rocks, huge rock formations. Take a second to glance around at these, very cool. You also go through some big rock "mazes" around these miles, through some rhododendron shrubs also.

After Route 30, this seems to be when the pre-historic fern forest begins. This ferns are huge and cover the entire trail-you won't be able to see your feet due to the ferns.lamp
The mountain laurel may still be in bloom-white-as you run through here. If it is at night, the laurel will glow very pretty in your headlamp.
Speaking of headlamp, you may consider the use of a hand held light also. The fog could roll in on you, making it harder to use just one light.

Last year I timed out of the LH Race, made it to the AS at mile 65 or so.  It has been a few years since I have been on the miles 65 to 70.5, so really can't comment on it, but I do remember it being runnable and the last section is a net downhill.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Classic crash and burn after big race.

Now for the record, I don't think I over did it with the excercising.

After MMT, I did not run at all until Monday, May 23. I did alot of outside yardwork that weekend after the race. I ran 4 miles that Monday, a little more that week.

Then I worked six days straight over Memorial Day weekend, and that sucked my energy out for sure.

Then the dog had major surgery on Wednesday. She's not doing that well and I am majorly stressed about that.

I felt fine running on Thursday and Friday, then I didn't get good sleep with the dog issues Friday night, and woke up with my sore lymph nodes.

Another very poor night of sleep on Saturday, and this morning it hurt to swallow. I decided to invest the time in the UrgiCare rather than wait until my regular doctor's office opened on Monday to beg and cajole for an appointment.

They ruled out strep and mono. I have an antiobiotic which I hope will resolve the inflamed lymph nodes.

I'm going to take the week off from running, and rest.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Taxing the Immune System

After a poor night sleep, I woke up with a sore throat and a ping pong ball size knot on my neck.I spent the morning spring cleaning my kitchen, then managed to get out for my10K around the block.

I wasn't feeling the love all that much, as it was already 11 am and getting pretty warm. I did manage to run up more of the hills before turning it into a walk.

I walked the last .4 miles of my10K (my 10K is actually 6.4 miles)  and resolved considering taking Sunday off and resting. It's hard to do when you have the day off from work, and the time to get a run in.

But these swollen glands  point toward a compromised immune system, and I don't want to get sick before the Laurel Highlands Race next weekend.

I think next on the agenda is a nap.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trail Run!

Trail run. Two of my favorite words. I got out this morning, went to Salt Fork. I ran on the blue bridle trail, which I had not been on in a few years. It was very flat and runnable the first few miles. It's amazing how the trail is aleady bone dry, despite all our rains in May. There were some areas of mud and some of the footing is uneven due to horse hoof ruts, but I likened it to running on rocks.

The trail had markers at every mile, but they did not come anywhere near what my GPS said. I thought my run would be longer, but I cut up a different trail which interesected the blue trail, and I was back to the horseman's camp in 2 hours for a 7 mile trail run.

Felt really good to be out on the trails again!

Unbreakable: A Western States Trailer

Very cool!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I love my 10K route around the block. It's on back country dirt roads. No traffic. The dogs all know me now.

My dog had surgery yesterday, so there are no long runs out of town this weekend. I was happy to do my 10K around the block. Great weather.

This graphic is courtesy of Eric Grol:

This is his explanation of the graph:

The graphics show what i called "arrival place percentile," which means what position within the field did you arrive at each aid station.   A high number is good, so Mr. Meltzer would be at 100% for the whole race, since he arrived at each aid station first.  

The X axis is the Aid Station Number. (Or maybe it is the Y...)

I was really tickled by this graphic, since it does show I was steady-steady-steady; then around mile 40, I started picking people off. I then picked up crew and pacer, Jill and Bradley, at Habron, and we really went to town after that.

Okay, I will finally say it, smart pacing on my behalf!!  It was not really intentional, except for that uphill at the beginning where I didn't see what everyone was all fired up about-and then Short Mountain in the dark, I just wanted to get familiar with the rocks again. Intentional or  not, it WORKED and I am going to finally take credit for it.  Pacing yourself and not getting overheated got me way farther and ultimately faster to the finish line than quite a few runners.