Saturday, February 22, 2014

Race Plans for 2014

Instead of running around the beautiful mountains of Virginia, I've been cleaning house, decluttering, painting my nails (really!!! I did!!!!) and thinking about future race plans.

Already signed up/paid for:

Buzzard Day 50K March 15 Medina Ohio
Zion 100 Mile Race April 4 Virgin, Utah
Medina 1/2 Marathon (Road Race) May 31
The Barkley Fall Classic 50K   September 20 Wartburg, TN 

I have to admit that the BFC was a total impulse. I was a bit drunk, the Monday night after returning home from TWOT (or maybe it was Sunday night..) I saw an email announcing the race.  The race is on my four day weekend.  I had been contemplating the IMTUF 100 in Idaho for that weekend.  But I instantly decided it was far easier (logistically) to stay on this side of the Mississippi and run Laz' brand new race.  I can also just drive (albeit a long drive) to Wartburg, TN.

Volunteer Committments

I have a bit of volunteering weekends mixed in there-Forget the PR 50K and 1/2 marathon the weekend of April 12;  probably Laurel Highlands June 14, and volunteering at Hardrock in July! I will also be working our NEO TC Club Race, YUTC, September 15.

On the almost certain list- The Ring, August 30.  Since missing Reverse Ring, it appears I need to go back in the heat and complete this again.

I would not mind finding a long run in the East for October, November, December.  But if it a race I have to travel a long distance to, it has to engage me.  It has to be...hard...or a beautiful course, and not an out and back.  I still have not figured this one out yet! But hey, there is still all day Sunday!!

Change of Plans

I am not attending Reverse Ring in Virginia this weekend.  I had a dog that had to go to the specialty vet in Columbus (she's fine, it's her paw) and I had to drive her there, as the husband is also under the weather!

So, no Reverse Ring.

It's time to make lemonade out of those random lemons thrown my way!!

 Image courtesy master isolated image/

Image courtesy of dusky/

It's very strange to go from the mindset of "race/run ready" to "NOPE". I sulked around a bit last night, doing the "right now I should be at Portobello" but I think I am over it.  I have a bit of a "loser" mentality going on, but honestly, it's not like I started the run and then dropped out, I was just a DNS-did not show, not a DNF-did not finish.

Weekend Plans-now I have a whole weekend to the family, here in Ohio, what to do?

Back to Weight Watchers-this is  Numero Uno.  I didn't track points the five days or so prior to TWOT and have not since TWOT.  I did manage to lose 3 pounds

Which is good, but it was just part of that seven pounds gained right after TWOT:

Perhaps this week I can get my body back to an even keel, get more fruits and vegetables back into my diet.

Running-I'm going to start running again! I had emailed my Coach yesterday and told him of my change of plans, so I should have a training schedule coming soon.  My plans for Saturday is my 11 mile loop around the area, all road. I'm looking forward to it, I haven't been in this area in a month or two. The weather should even be the 40's or so here in Ohio, that is still much better than the 13's and 19 degrees of my last outside runs!

Home work-Do I declutter more, paint the last wall in the basement?  Maybe all of the above?

Okay, time to go make a WW Friendly breakfast, have a good weekend and don't fret over what you cannot control!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: My first ultra Race Report

For your reading pleasure, my HUFF Race Report, from 2005:

Short version: I did it!! Official time 7 hours 38 minutes, my watch said 7 hours 22 minutes (what's 10 minutes after seven hours running....)

This is a loop course, 10.8 mile loops around the Roush Lake Reservoir. Temps are a bit cool, in the teens (F) when we start. We're all really really cold at the start.
The cannon does go BOOM!!! And we're all off, the relay runners and 50K'ers. The one-loop fun runners will be started about ten minutes behind us.

This is a nice, scenic course, it was very pretty at daybreak, sun glinting off icles and the lake. It was hard to look up though, because the footing was very uneven and unstable this first loop. There was probably 6-8 inches of snow, which, due to the cold, was not getting beat down at all, even with all the folks in front of me. The first loop was very crowded, too, it was pretty much going one by one up the trail. Passing someone meant going into the deep snow of about one foot on either side. The trail or the racers finally opened up for me about the second aid station, which was around mile 8 or so.

I had no real expectation of time goals, although I thought 6 hours seemed rather a reasonable number. I thought I could do each 10 mile split in about two hours (I was just ignoring the other 0.8 mile, not being a mathelete.) And my splits through the 10 miles were 2.01 hours, then around 2.15 for the second 10, and 2.30 for the third then (more or less).

On the second loop, there was no problem with running space! Everyone had spaced out, and I wasn't running around alot of other folks. It was amazing what I remembered on the first loop to prepare for the second loop. The footing was improving too, the sun was heating some of the snow and it was getting trodden down, improving in many areas. I was getting tired already though, the first lap of tromping and teetering, trying to balance, had tired me. My upper body was stiff after constantly watching the trail. I was shuffling along on the second loop, on the road to the first aid station when I thought to myself "I am dog azzed tired" And I immediately felt worse. Then I banished that thought, thinking, no "I am strong but slow." Then I thought it should be "strong AND slow" so I quibbled over that myself and managed to while away a good half mile before I decided on "slow AND strong".

Loop 3 came about and I did not change my shoes and socks like I did after the first loop. Which I should have, because I had changed out of my trail shoes for running shoes, which got soaked rather quickly in the inches of snow. I just grabbed a fresh toboggan hat (I changed hats at each loop I sweat so much) and more food and shuffled on.

Loop 3 was good because it was the LAST loop!!! I was really out there by myself now. I picked up some of the remaining Coke at Aid Station 1, and that really perked me for a few miles. I then tried to keep eating as I went forward, because that seemed to help with energy levels.

I was of course power walking any slopes. There were only a few areas that I could call "hills" here it was a very mangeable course. I developed a non-specific leg pain in my right thigh (different that my normal hamstring pain) which actually hurt when I walked.

I glanced at my watch at one point and saw I was over the five hour mark...longer than any other run I had every done..then once I clicked over 26.6, longer in miles than any run I had ever done!

I just kept watching for the mile markers on the last lap, and the big landmarkers..airport, check..aid station 1, check. Awful road section by shooting range, check. 3 runners passed me here and asked if I was okay. I was walking the uphill and eating potato chips and told them I was fine. I caught them at the last aid station, grabbed some hot chocolate on the go and moved on. It was interesting trying to drink hot chocolate and shuffle at the same time. Next was the reservoir, then 3 foot bridges, then the restrooms at the campgrounds, then done.

Got to the reservoir, headed across it. There was a woman ahead of me, just moving ahead very steadily. I was surprised when I caught up to her right before mile 10, she had been doing great. I passed her and then finally saw the Magical Mile Ten Marker!! 0.8 miles to go!!! I was so excited, I was muttering "ten! ten! ten!" Then I knew all I had to do was pass over 3 footbridges, and then I was see the restrooms and be at the campground.

I pass over the first footbridge and heard an awful commotion behind me. First I thought it was dogs barking, then I thought it was the trio of runners being me, catching up to me and yelling! I must have really slowed down! No, it was the geese over on the reservoir I was hearing, I was finally getting close!!! Two more bridges....and then...yes it was, ohmygod, I've never been more happy to see a bathroom (well, actually I probaly have been, but this meant the end of the race) I trucked it through the campground, and turned the corner into the finishing shoot and completed the race!!!!

My chip and bib strip was taken, and then I passed the mental examination in the hot tent (I had to fill out a card with my name, sex, bib number and approximate finishing do that after running 7 hours..) I must have passed because I got my finisher's medal and was pointed to the soup tent!

I got some great chicken soup, slumped down over it in the corner and started to cry..I am not sure why..just so damn glad to be done running. Some nice man noticed me and came over and talked to me, congratulated me for the race and finding out it was my first ultra. That helped me recover a bit and he said he thought conditions were pretty tough out there on the first loop too.

I was really beat after this, still am on Sunday. This seemed, afterwards, so much harder than running my first marathon. I guess because I spent 2 more hours than my longest run had been. I'm so glad I had some 24 and 26 miler runs in though, because for me at less, 20 mile training runs would not have done this for me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recovery and Taper

It's all wound up the same week!

I can't help it TWOT and Reverse Ring are two weeks apart.

I've run..4 days since TWOT.  All on the treadmill.  I just could not face the cold outside world.  Besides, I was recovering.

I ran on Monday, prior to work, and was really tired all day from work.  So I just down the running, and have been concentrating on getting to bed early.  I won't run again until I am in Virginia.

I'm packed now. Just one drop bag, that will be  courtesy-shuttled around Fort Valley in front of me.

Snazzy drop bag, eh? Easy to identify!

Contents of the bag?

Fuel for each section
A fresh headband for each section
Spare shoes, socks, long sleeved shirt, gloves

Full change of clothing for Camp Roosevelt.  If I start the run in shorts, I will switch to tights at Camp Roo.  I will also swap out bra and top. I have learned the wisdom of getting rid of wet top covers, you feel so much warmer without damp or wet clothing.  I will also pick up a toboggan hat, gloves.

I also have a spare set of shoes. I learned my lesson after last year's RR. 

Beta from Fort Valley says the snow should be gone, but the trails will be wet.  The MMT drains fairly well, but I know certain points will be wet-the road off Signal Knob, the climb up to Powell's Fort, Duncan Hollow Trail, etc.  I do not expect to have dry feet at all, but I would rather have the option of changing to dry socks and shoes if needed.

Goals for Reverse Ring?

Finish it. The trite answer, I know.  But really, that is it.  Barring that, I still have Gombu's splits on my hand-laminated turn sheet.  If I can run about what I did last year (without going on YELLOW) I would be well pleased with that.  (You betcha I will remember that right hand turn this year!!)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reverse Ring Plans

I am cautiously optimistic about participating in Reverse Ring 2014.

Barring household problems,  I will run RR this year.  If there are no travelling barriers, the next issue could be aid on the course.

I don't expect any aid at Powell's Fort. The road is closed in the winter-but there is water, from a spring there.

Last year, the road to Woodstock Tower was also closed. A few volunteers hiked up water and a few snacks.  It would be a good idea to expect the same this year-make sure you are carrying enough calories until Edinburg Gap.

There will be aid at Edinburg and Moreland Gap, easily accessible road sections. Crisman Hollow could also be "iffy".  Stephanie Wilson has hiked aid in the last two years, but it would also behoove a runner  to go from mile 29 to 46 without aid.

Camp Roo will be the full blown aid station and the last guaranteed aid before Signal Knob parking lot.  There could be aid hiked in, also at the Veach Gap Motel.  I've always been out of water and grateful for a new snack by the time I've hit Veach Gap, with ten miles to go.

I'm debating "packs" again. I may wear my Ultraspire pack, with the two bottles, and carry a handheld. It could be in the 40's and 50's in Virginia this weekend, and that is way above normal temperatures for me. I don't want to get dehydrated!

I am then thinking of changing packs at Camp Roosevelt-switch to a bladder system, and pick up  my hiking poles for the last 25 miles of trail.

I will get my gear/clothes/snacks organized on Wednesday. It will be much less difficult than four unsupported loops by myself!  All I have to pack is one drop bag, plan out snacks, and clothes.

It is also time to start watching the weather reports again!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ignite Talk at Fitbloggin 14!

In keeping with my Word for 2014 "Reach" I had decided to attend Fitbloggin 14, in Savannah Georgia in June.

Fitbloggin also offered a chance to present an Ignite Talk, at the Keynote Address at the conference.

Since I live way off the social media bus line, I had no idea what an "Ignite Talk" was.  I quickly educated myself.  I offered up a topic as my Ignite Talk, and it was accepted!

I will be giving a Ignite Fitness Talk at Fitbloggin 14!

It does not bother me to speak in public or give a speech, I have done this plenty of times over my career. What is interesting is the presentation of an Ignite Talk.

"Enlighten us, but make it quick".

The rules of an Ignite Talk is a five minute presentation, with 20 slides.  These slides auto advance every 15 seconds.

Scott Berkun's Ignite Talk, on how give a great Ignite Talk:

I am incredibly stoked with the idea of this presentation.  I've started to watch a bunch of videos to see how others have done with the five minute format.

I've been surfing the web looking for ideas on how to write and present. I think I will do several blog posts on my progress with my presentation. 

My topic?  I pondered this a bit. I wanted it to do with running or trail running.  How to get someone out on the trails. But how to do that in five minutes?

There are many successful Ignite Talks on a bunch of somewhat strange topics, like "How to Use a Semi Colon" "Secret World of Lego" "Hacking Chocolate" "Flash Mob Gone Very Very Wrong".

My topic will be "Screw Your Shoes".  A good, useful, informative topic.  I can easily educate Fitbloggin on how to screw their shoes in five minutes!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Are tech gadgets more help or hindrance on the trails?

This is the February topic from the Trail Runner Blog Symposium.

Are tech gadgets more help or hindrance on the trails?

 For the purpose of this blog post, I am going to eliminate the tech item of music-headphones.  Under consideration would be watches/smart phones with all their little gadgets available on them.

I think it is up to the user, and how the user perceives the gadgets, and how the user reacts when the technology stops working!

I use a Garmin 910 to run with.  It lasts much longer than the 305, but I can still outlast the battery.  But that is cool, I am used to it.

What I do find the Garmin useful for is a guesstimate for unfamiliar routes/races. For example, you are running a 50 mile race that is new to you.  Aid stations are eight miles apart. That gives you an opportunity to glance at your Garmin and see that you have about two miles to the aid station, you can finish drinking your water or eating your last snack you have on you.

I also have used a Suunto watch with an altimeter.  If you know what elevation you are going to peak out on, that could help you on a long lonely climb in the middle of the night to know you have another 2000 feet to go, since you can't see outside of your little globe of light!

Smart phones-again, a phone can be a help until it goes dead and becomes a hindrance!  I had a friend who went off course during a 50K last summer. She utilized her phone as both a map-to locate what road she was on, and as an actual communication device with the Race Director, who was able to get her back to the proper route.

I ran an event last week;  I had several people lined up to pace me.  I used both text messages and a Facebook update to let my pacers know where I was, and the time I would be through certain checkpoints.  Could we have synced up otherwise? Sure, but not as convenient. 

A little aside with the smart phone-it will not do you any good at all, to have the Race Director or run organizer's phone number programmed into the phone if your phone is dead.  You are far smarter to have that phone number written down, on paper, in your pocket, so you can borrow a working phone to make that phone call!

In conclusion, I would call tech gadgets a help.  As long as your safety is not rolled up 100% in the gadget, and you are not going to have a negative reaction if the gadget stops working.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It's Been a Week?

Did you ever do one of those contemplative "one week ago  I was doing this.." after a big run?  I was doing that yesterday, and this morning.

I was at work last night, glanced at the clock about 830pm, and thought a week ago, I still descending off Little Bald Knob and Grindstone Mountain forever.  Then this morning, in my nice flannel sheets with a semi-cuddly German Shepherd dog next to me, I thought about waking up in my vehicle  and having to make a decision on a 4th loop.

I finally have a little time to myself to rest, relax and think.

I am kind of getting over my aversion to the cold weather, but I still might get my long run of 4 miles done on the treadmill today.

At the moment, I have the conclusion that many things-like other long runs-are not going to seem as difficult after that 108 mile fest.  I probably will be proven wrong. I'm not trying to be cocky about it.  At least mentally, at this time, other things don't seem as hard as that Wild Oak Trail.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Recovery Week

Ah, recovery week. The week that I look forward to, and it usually sucks.

This week was no exception.

Jumping back into full time work doesn't help, but vacation days are few and far between. Suck it up and go to work.

Thursday I finally woke up not still exhausted.  All week long I would wake up and still be tired.

I still have the appetite. I've been eating about every hour or so it seems.  Today, Friday, I've started to switch in more healthy-and lower calorie-options.  But I am not going to cut the calories, I still need that fuel.

I've been drinking pretty well, I'm still a bit thirsty most of the time, so I keep drinking.

Running-I got on the treadmill this morning, walked a 1/2 mile, then jogged 1.5 miles, for really no other reason than to keep my Jantastic score at 100%.  I was smart and put down three runs for this week, with a long run of 4 miles!

This week in Ohio has been cold-very cold-and still snowy. I've had zero interest in going outside into the cold.  Early this week, I was at a zero percent interest in running in the cold ever again.  I've recovered a bit mentally from that point of view.

Reverse Ring, on February 22, is still undecided for me.  I have a dog in a cast and right now it's rather time consuming to manage her and the other two dogs.  It's really up to my husband to decide whether he can spare me from the household, so that will decided next week.


Finally found my standard answer to "you run 100 miles at a time?!?" 

"It's not impossible, it's just not very easy"
                                                                                    -Dominic Grossman

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekly Weight Watchers Weigh In

I didn't weigh in last week, as I was in a parking lot in Virginia.  I was up three pounds, though I had weighed the day before.

This week's results?

Is this what I expected? Yep.  The body is thrown competely out of whack. I still have some swelling in my ankles at the end of the day.

"Look back over the last week and think about what you might be able to change."

Okay.  I won't do this again, x 4:

  I've never run a 100 mile race and not come off it with a weight gain.  This bothers me not all.  Once my cortisol levels and ADH levels get back to a normal levels, this weight will come off.  I've also not been tracking any WW points for the week, in fact, I've been snacking just about every hour, as I am still just very hungry.  You really need to feed the body after an intense event, and let it heal up on its own.

Recovery is going slow.  This is the first morning I have woke up NOT feeling exhausted.  Work has been rather exhausting.  I have not run yet. I am planning on getting on my treadmill for a run on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so I can keep my 100% score going in the Jantastic Challenge.

What I am NOT interested in doing is miles outside in the cold.  We are back into a snow-very cold-cycle here again.  I will get a few miles on the treadmill and see how I feel over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 Miscommunication and a 4th Loop

I get into the parking lot. Sniper is happy to see me and yells to Bradley that I am back.

I slump down against my vehicle and whine out "Bradley I can't do another lap".

Happy days from the past  TWOT 2012, Loop One

I am assessed.  Mongold finds out my problem seems to be I haven't ate or drank for about 8 hours. Sniper and Mongold get water, coffee, soup into me. They let me sit down and warm up.  My hands are shaking so badly I can't get the soup to my mouth.  A runner named Josh is there, who is going to run one loop of TWOT on Saturday.

I don't think Josh was impressed with what one looked like after two Loops of TWOT.  He was planning on doing the traditional one loop on Saturday, and here I was, wrecked.

Everything hurt, mostly due I believe, to the calorie deficit, and the tense body contracted against the cold.  I was some punch drunk from the sleep deprivation. I felt awful.

But Mongold had taken the day off from work and driven two hours to pace me. I felt obligated to try and do something-not the whole loop!

Mongold said, well, let's walk over to FDR 96 (we were now going to go clockwise) which was 10 miles, and  says "Quatro will be there".  Apparently Q was going to have aid there. What the hell did I know?  Okay, I will WALK over to 96, and then I will QUIT.  We can use Q's car, drive back to Camp David, and then return Q's car to him. I had it all worked out.

It was not a pleasant journey. I was whiny and slow. I told Mongold how unhappy I was to see him.

I think we ran into a few Friday runners through here. When asked how I was, I honestly said I felt awful and I was quitting.

We climb up Hankey, on the more gentle side, and I am looking forward to be done with this stupid nonsense.

And the parking lot at FDR 96 is empty.

I just want to wail and cry. I am just devastated. I was planning on being done. I snap at Mongold "did you lie to me?"

He says he thought Q would be here, because where is the aid that was supposed to be dropped.  We go to my aid, and I whip myself down on the ground.  Now that the temperature is a bit warmer, Mongold can bang the water against the tree and get some water to break free from the ice chunks.   I remark that didn't occur to me last night.  Now I don't have a choice. I have to climb Big Bald and PRAY that some one's vehicle is at Camp Todd.

I eat and drink and start to get chilled and get ready to leave as Bradley tidies up the aid stash.

This is probably the most interesting part of my mental challenge. Maybe this is where unconsciously, I really did not want to quit.

The park rangers pull into the lot.  In the back of my head, I hear the little voice saying "ask them for a ride. They will give you a ride back".  But I don't really address it. I'm so sleep deprived and out of it, I've already moved on to thinking about climbing Big Bald.  The rangers weren't part of our "game". I think if a VHTRC'er had pulled in, I might have been tugging on their car door and getting in, unasked.  So I didn't even say anything. Heck, I didn't even think about this particular moment until the next day.  But I was such a hot mess--er cold mess.  I didn't feel any better during this loop.

The only place I actually broke into a pace faster than a walk was on top of Big Bald. The clockwise direction gave us a gentle little downhill for a bit.  All people we ran into, I told them how bad I felt and I was not going on after Loop Three.  I had serious ultrabrain.

There was, of course, nobody at Camp Todd. I was forced to go on and finish the whole damn loop.

To start Loop 4, Mongold worked on me for what is seemed like hours. I had told him at some point, IF I went out on a fourth loop, I had to sleep and I was not going to start a loop in the dark. I didn't care about ending a loop in the darkness, but there was no way I was going to start a loop in the dark and the deep cold again.

Mongold tried everything. He tried humor, shame, guilt, pride.  He told me he could stay and do Loop 4, but we would have to start almost immediately.  I did not cave. I told him I just needed to sleep. And I really did.  There was no way I could have started Loop 4 at midnight and walked fast enough to not become hypothermic again.

I also told him yes, I realized the odds of me starting a fourth loop were very slim after getting into my vehicle. I was aware of that. I honestly did not know if I would do a fourth loop. All I wanted to do was lay down.  That was all I cared about.  To stop moving, to close my eyes.

It took forever to get off Grindstone Mountain and we were finally back at Camp David.  Sniper made me some soup and I told Bradley I was going to sleep and then make a decision.  I climbed into my sleeping bag and finally got to stop moving.

When I first lay down I thought, okay, I will do a fourth loop. But as I woke up and moved around in my warm little sleeping bag, I changed that. No way. I'll sleep and hide out in my vehicle until 10 am, then it will be too late.  I knew if I was going to start a fourth loop, it had to be closer to daybreak in order to utilize the daylight hours.

I woke up when runners started arriving.  I had a call of nature, so I got some clothes on and stumbled out of the vehicle. I fully expected to be stiff and muscles totally cramped up.

To my utter astonishment, I did not feel..that bad.   My quads were a little tight, but really not as bad as I thought.


I walk around the lot a bit,  trying out the legs. Quatro says a few comments to me. I'm still mulling things over.  I don't feel that bad. (I don't feel that GREAT either.)   I will never be this close to a TWOT finish again.  I have all day. It's not even 8 o'clock yet.  I can just walk the whole loop.

I ask Sniper to make me coffee and soup.  I drink an entire serving of my favorite recovery drink, Ultragen. I open my vehicle to get my stuff organized for a fourth and final loop.

I'm taking everything with me, including my down jacket. I am NOT going to get cold out there. I have three lights.  I  have two Zunes, because I don't know if either one has a charge.  I have my phone.

I type a  text message.  "Starting Loop 4".   There. It's done.  I am committed.

Meanwhile, it's almost time for the trad TWOT One Loopers to begin.  I start ahead of them, because I am getting cold, and I get some yells of encouragement.  Three minutes later, I step off the trail to let them run past me.

Brian McNeil catches up.  He is out for one loop, back from rehabbing a hip injury.  Brian declares he is going to pace me my 4th loop!!

I tell him  that is great, but when he needs to go ahead, to all means go, I will be moving extremely slowly.  Brian reiterates that he is going to stay with me, and by golly he does!

I cannot believe how "good" I am feeling on this loop.  I am not running, but I have a pretty clear  head and a tiny bit of energy. It is amazing what sleep can do for a person.  My legs do not feel too bad either.  This is the best I feel since Loop One.

Brian is a great pacer. He sets his watch at one hour increments, and we stop and eat and drink.  I am usually hungry when we stop! I am now also able to stomach my solid foods-peanuts, candy bars, all the stuff that I couldn't eat once it got cold out.

The weather is cooperating in my favor also.  It's considerably warmer out today than any of the other days that I have been out here in the woods.

I break the loop down into tiny goals. Brian and I are going clockwise.  Get to the road. Then get to the road gate.  Climb up Hankey (the easy side again.) Get to FDR 96.

We run into Brian  Keefer here. He was on his 3rd loop. Brian and  Keith Knipling were the other finishers of the full TWOT this year.   Keith has also done this four times over!

We also run into lots of runners. Now, when I say, lots of runners, this is still less than..twenty-five? But that's alot of runners for a TWOT trot.

  Today I am  happy to get their encouragement after quitting so many times to them the loop before.  I feel "pretty good" on this loop and say so.  I am also cognizant that I could crash and burn at any time, but man, Loop 4 is going so much better than Loop 3.  I feel sorry for Mongold who had to put up with my whiny self.

Camp Todd. A bunch of kids are out.  I don't spend alot of time looking to see what they are doing in a forest, in February.  Brian and I cross the water (via the bridge) and start the LAST climb, up Little Bald.  It's still daylight.

This seems to be going far more quickly than Loop 3. (But hey, what do I know, I have ultrabrain)

But THEN, there it is, the Famous Sign, the sharp turn.  I always consider this the top of Little Bald. Now it's going to be more of the descent.

Brian and I keep up with the chatting.  We get over the icy spots, now it's dark, and I am back to the little bubble of light.  It's very hard to know where you are on this section, when it's dark.

Unexpectedly, before I know it, we are at the LAST SIGN, where it  is now less than 2 miles

I warn Brian that the last two miles will take approximately 18 hours to complete, as that is what it felt like on Loop 3.  My quads are finally protesting quite loudly, and the downhill is tough to do.  l.All I am looking for is the wet section of trail. When we hit that, we are 1/4 mile to the parking lot.

FINALLY! The wet section of trail!  Brian and I cross the three wooden bridges. I start to run.

I fall down.

  LOL. Probably 500 feet from the lot.  My second fall in 107 miles.  Brian picks me up and we emerge victorious to the crowds of well, David Snipes cheering..

I did it. I freaking did it. 108 miles.  About 8000 feet of ascent per loop, so 24,000 feet of gain.  I had mentioned to Brian earlier, that "this was the hardest run I've ever done" and he rattled off some of the statistics.    True, I would still say Hardrock is harder-hey, even going up the dreaded Hankey Mountain, the only positive I could give it was the fact that I still had oxygen to breathe.

I finished in 57.30 hours.  This includes the 7 hour nap, 1/2 hour or so stop between Loop 2 and 3, and 1/2 hour stop between Loop One and Two.  I am the 17th finisher, and 5th female to finish The Wild  Oak Trail.

Driving over to a hotel room I  had reserved in Harrisonburg minutes later, two songs came on the satellite radio, and I smiled, because it seemed so randomly appropriate Nazareth "Hair of the Dog" followed by Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills".

I did not do this alone, in fact, left to myself I would have quit and probably been home in Ohio on Saturday, instead of wandering up down beautiful trails in Virginia for another day.

Bradley Mongold for saving my run.  David Snipes for assisting Mongold and feeding me.  Kathleen Cusick for being my cheerleader and pacer early.   Brian McNeil for turning my fourth loop into a rather almost enjoyable loop.
For all the other runners who didn't take me serious when I said I was quitting!

As I tumbled into my clean hotel sheets on Saturday night, I felt more beat up mentally than physically. Jill mentioned "it was all between my ears" and perhaps, 95% of this event was for me. I've had several private mental reviews of the weekend so far. It's amazing what you can do and what you perceive you CANNOT do.

 It's amazing what can happen when friends believe in you.  More than one person told me "they had no doubt I could do it."  Well, I certainly did. For probably a good 24 ( to 48 hr?)  hour stretch, until I started out on Loop 4, there was plenty of doubt on my side.  It's good to have people who have more confidence in me than I have in myself. That, is great.

If You Stop Quitting, You'll Finish

This is my tale of my little weekend spent in the mountains of Virginia. It was a long time coming. I had the proverbial "white whale" to kill, previously making 100K of progress on this trail.  It had been on my mind all winter long. I spent the month of January out in the cold on training runs, to set myself up for cold conditions in Virginia.

This is not an easy trail, especially when you repeat the loop four times.

I started up the trail at 1130, a half hour early, but I wanted to utilize as much daylight as possible. It was a great loop. All my pictures come from Loop One.  I was snapping pictures and updating my status on FB and texting to let my pacers know where I was at.

 It was cold. I believe it was 28 F when I started. I make sure I kept my face mask on, to help warm up my breathing passages.
 This is on Little Bald Knob.  I was relieved to find out there was not much snow.  Maybe two or three inches on the top of the Balds, which was firmly frozen down to the ground.
This is the famous sign at the turn, for the three mile descent to Camp Todd. There is also another trail, much wider and more visible, that you could blunder down also!

Uneventful loop. I got to FDR 96, Mile 17 on the Loop, two hours ahead of my planned schedule.  I am able to text my pacer, and she arranges to come out from the TWOT Lot (renamed Camp David, since David Snipes manned the aid station there all weekend long) backwards to meet up.

Kathleen Cusick has volunteered to pace me on Loop Two.  Kathleen is much faster than me (ie, she WON Hellgate) and I have cautioned her to wear warm clothing, she will be going slow.

We start Loop Two, counterclockwise again for me, up Grindstone and then Little Bald Knob.  Kathleen keeps going ahead, and then coming back for me, which is fine, we both need to move because it's that cold out.  Kathleen pointed out the half moon and all the stars, and all I could think of was how cold it was going to be with no cloud cover.

My hydration system consisted on bottles, stashed in my old UD Wink pack. I was using the Wink pack because it had the most room to stash items in. (This was my Hardrock pack.)  I wasn't carrying a bottle because I was using my Black Diamond Hiking Poles.

It had already become a hassle and annoyance to stop, take the pack off, and drink. It also chilled me each time that I stopped.  On the second loop, I was getting behind on eating and drinking.

Kathleen turned, as planned, right before Camp Todd, and I told her I was going to regroup and get calories and food in.

I had planned calories well. I had many different items to choose. I had items I knew might freeze, like candy bars, but I also had honey-roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, items I knew would not freeze.
What I didn't count on was trying to eat these items, with a dry mouth, as I moved along.  For any ultra runner, it just doesn't work.  So I had been eating more gels.
Boost! I drank a can of Boost, 240 calories, at Camp Todd, and took a can with me.  I drank a bunch of water.  As I climbed up Big Bald, I felt pretty good. I was giving myself positive self talk-with the climb, I was toasty warm.  I even told Antonniette that when I ran into her on the trail.

But 240 calories, into a caloric deficient person, who is now climbing 2000 or 3000 feet, in twenty degree weather, doesn't go too far.  I drink the other can.  I am looking forward to more Boost at FDR 96.

FDR 96

I think I got to 96 about 5 am.

My water was frozen. My Gatorade was frozen. My sweet tea was frozen.  I am well, devastated. How freaking cold is it that my stuff is frozen???
 I can get a little dribble out of the water. My 4 oz bottle of cranberry juice is not frozen, so I add that to my bottle.

No food looks good. I stuff more gels under my shirt to keep them warm enough to use.  I move on. I am very cold. But climbing up Hankey Mountain, like when I climbed up Big Bald, should make me "toasty warm" again.

I hate Hankey Mountain.I start climbing. But I am not getting warm. There is a little breeze-not much, not like 2012 gusts, but as I need every bit of warmth, this isn't helping.  I can only climb about ten steps and  I have to pause. I am panting, out of breath. I can't really tell if it is my asthma, my heart rate, or my body in that horrible timing of the day, the lowest ebb, right before dawn, but I am moving so slow.

Of course, I am getting colder and colder.  I slip chemical handwarmers into my gloves, as I can't feel my thumbs.  But now my thighs are getting cold. My thighs never get cold, I can feel the cold on the outside. I'm getting genuinely concerned for my well being.

But what's the alternative? There is none. I go on. I'm looking forward to getting back to my vehicle, warming up, and QUITTING.

There is just one flaw in my plan, named Bradley Mongold.

Me and Mongold, MMT Finish 2013
Mongold paced me at MMT 2011 and 2013. When you sign up with Bradley, you know you are going to finish.

Mongold agreed to pace me for Loop 3 and "maybe" Loop 4.    But I  had already quit. Now I just needed to get rid of my pacer. 

The phone had died, so I just needed to get back to the vehicle, plug the phone in, and hopefully see that Bradley wasn't coming. He had warned me that he had some business to conduct on Friday, so he might be later that planned.  My best case scenario would be a text from him, saying he couldn't be there until Friday afternoon, and then I could tell him that was fine, I was hypothermic and stopping after two loops.

I pass the sign that says FDR 95 4 miles, and it seems to take five hours. I cross the suspension bridge. I think about cutting the course and going down the road...but of course, I don't.

I get into the parking lot-renamed Camp David, for David Snipes handling the aid station there all weekend long-and it's the worse sight ever. My vehicle is open, and Mongold is there, ready to start Loop 3.

Not a cliff-hanger, but a logical place to break up a long tale. Part Two will be out later today!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


One of my favorite quotes that has been hanging around my inbox for the last few months:

"There’s never going to be a time where the stars align and you’re suddenly debt-free and commitment-free. That just doesn’t happen. You have to make it happen. Nobody’s life is so complex that they can’t make their dream happen, it just might require more sacrifices than they’re willing to give. You will do whatever it is you most want to do.”
                                                                                   -Anish, Heather Anderson

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Will He or Won't He??

It's Groundhog Day!  What will Phil forecast this year??

If you are around western Pa some time, (like running the Groundhog 50K) you have to check out

Punxsutawney and Gobbler's Knob. 

 This is where Phil makes his appearance and tells us if it is six more weeks of winter, or not!!

It's not so busy, or crowded, in the fall.  Lots more greenery too~!

 Yes, I have met the famous Phil!  At the pre-race dinner, before the 50K, Phil & his handler made a special guest appearance.

I have to give a shout out for the Groundhog 50K run. It's my second favorite 50K, behind the YUTC. Runnable course, great hills, cool schwag.  You get a Groundhog Beanie Baby in your schwag bag!
(I've run the race four times, I left one Groundhog at my old place of employment. :(  )

So what did Phil decide?  Early spring (oh please please please please please) or more of the same?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Seeya, January! Don't let the door hit you!

January Recap

There's a reason everyone dreads January. The fun holiday season is over, everyone is on a diet, and

THE WEATHER SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nonetheless, I sucked it up and got outside for quite a few runs.  Every time I did it, it was with the understanding that "TWOT weather could be just like this.  Good training to get used to it now."

I am loving my face mask these days

Miles run in January:  170.7  Missed a few sessions this month, a few due to being sick, and a few sessions where I just couldn't bare to get on the treadmill.

142 miles outside, 28.7 on the treadmill. Looking at my log, miles actually "enjoyed"? 27.  Sheesh. It's a good thing I like to train!!

In order to set yourself up for a race, sometime you just have to get in the miles. Although I didn't "enjoy" most of my runs in January, I was satsified with 98% of them.  It was all about getting the runs in, choosing right clothes for the conditions, and frankly, getting my ass outside, in the cold, and doing it.

What other goals did I achieve, or "reach" for in January?

11. Paint the hallway and hang my running T-shirt quilt on the wall

With the house rewiring going to happen, I actually painted a wall in the basement.  Now my running T-shirt quilt can go on the wall downstairs, as planned.  I can't paint the remaining wall, as it is the outside wall-and it hasn't been above 20 degrees for most of the month of January.

12. Organize my photos-whoops, this probably could be lumped under #1- doing much better at this! Took a bunch of pics, they are in my January 2014 folder. Also sorted some older photos.

14. Declutter my house, room by room, area by area-I have only just begun this task!  We got rid of at least 48 wineglasses, and our shotglass collection.  I have a big bag of clothes ready to discard. Oh yeah, and I threw out a whole bunch of electrical cords to stuff! They've been hanging in my office for a few years, and never used.  A few were chargers to digital cameras that have long since died.  Out they go!!