Saturday, June 30, 2012

We did it!

Hardest thing I've ever done! Very tired now....more to follow after about a million hours of sleep!

33 miles: 9:59.....took EVERYTHING I had to make that clock NOT read 10 ;-D

Thanks for the guys are awesome!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We are ready!

Today marks 4 days until Finger Lakes Fifties & our last trail run prior to the race. We did an easy 10 miles...I fell once....but that is now 'normal' for us ;)

We have been training on the trail since March, have each done a marathon & high mileage Ragnar relay legs. We have done our longest trail run of 21 miles and survived an encounter with a bear. And oh, the very many snakes. We have fallen, twisted ankles, and suffered cuts, abrasions & some funky heat rashes. We have experienced the trail in intense heat & thunderstorms. We have gotten lost more times than I can count. We have actually had to use a compass and orienteer out of the woods! We have run a 20k 'test race' successfully. We have laughed ourselves silly.

My trail buddy is incredible! Not only does she have 3 small children & is race director for our local...and getting bigger every year marathon...but she has 15 marathons under her belt and has managed to carve out 1-2 full days a week to share the trail with me! 'Trip' it has been a privilege! And I hope we keep hitting the trail every week! I will try not to get us lost...too much ;)

We are ready for whatever the day brings us. We are ready to challenge ourselves and tackle 50 kilometers of trails & have fun doing it.

The weather is forecasted at 90 degrees Saturday....we have no control over that. But we WILL finish!

Think of us Saturday...we'll take all the good vibes we can get...

Bring. It. On.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tanglewood Trail 20K

Thing 1 & I at the start
Trail Buddy & I at The End
I was going to title this DFL, but then I remembered that I've already done one with that title...and besides, so what we were Dead you-know-what was tough, incredibly challenging and we ran the pace we wanted to as we approached it as a training race for the 50K. So yeah, we DFL'd but we were still AWESOME!!!!! That's right! We are AWESOME!  Plus my awesome kid came and indulged his mother & her crazy friend by running too! He did great, did the 10K in 45 minutes, finishing 6th overall and then had to wait another 2 hours for us to finish...which is a pretty patient thing to do when you are 15. 

When last, no chance of stepping on a rattlesnake!
Coughing up a lung on the 1st assent - 75% grade!
The race takes place at Tanglewood Nature Center, which is a fabulous nature conservancy with museum, educational facility and hiking trails.  Unfortunately, the Timber Rattlesnake is one of the protected residents of this place...well, really of NY state.  Thing 2 and I have hiked here before so I wasn't too freaked out by the signs.  I didn't think this trail run could be quite so hilly compared to the last one we did.  I was wrong.  It's not so bad if you are only doing the 1 loop option, however, when you choose the 2 loop, 20K option, you end up combining the bugger of a hill that is the 'end' of the course.  A long, slow half mile or so that never seems to end, with the really steep, cough up a lung portion of the 'beginning'. I'm not exagerating when I say there was one part of the beginning that I had to had to concentrate & push on my legs with my hands to make the next step! Together, they make you rethink your decision to run this race.  There was a moment when I realized as we were starting the second loop "Oh crap, that hill is coming again". Luckily, our frame of mind was that this was a training run for us.  Practice at following trail markers and trying to run together at projected 50K race pace, with our fully loaded backpacks....which never, ever contain just the hydration bladders! 

Elevation Sign at the highest point...beside the cell tower!
Elevation Sign at the lowest point
It was a very well organized race.  Signage from the road welcoming runners and then a well organized registration table.  I had pre-registered but Trail Buddy & Thing 1 still had to register.  It left plenty of time to use the indoor plumbing without any wait.  There were around 125 people in the race.  Most did the 10K (1 loop), but 40 of us persevered through a 2nd loop. We actually ran really well considering all the walking we had to do for the 1st loop. We came through in 1:16, which was sub 15 (which I know is really slow, but is not so bad when you think it is our 50K pace & it is a tougher course). We were actually not the last runners to finish the 1st loop.  There were a couple of 10K runners that were behind us.  Although the hills were tough, one of the places we had the hardest time with was a cliff edge that descended but was full of loose rocks plus banked sideways too.  In theory you could try to fly down this portion.  We chose life instead ;-D

Anyway, it was a fun race for us.  We ran steady for the 1st loop, then chatted & took pictures while running together at the end.  I promised Thing 1 that I wouldn't stop to sightsee during the race...I made it through 1 loop! I thought that was pretty good!  We were not too far behind the others.  One we glimpsed periodically through the trees & according to Thing 1 we were only a few minutes behind the last half dozen runners or so. Everyone at the race was really supportive and positive...they cheered when we chose the 2nd loop instead of finishing and I was surprised when there were still a ton of people hanging out waiting for us to finish.  They all gathered and cheered us across the finish line! The Finger Lakes Running Club is a great bunch of people. In fact, the Finger Lakes trails & running club was featured in the Trail issue of Runners World. Check it out if you haven't!

11 days to Finger Lakes Fifties!!!! We are ready!

The cables that crossed the had to climb through them!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That's NO Yogi Bear!

Not THE bear...too busy running! But close!
Monday, 19 miles into a trail run, trail buddy & I come around a corner on a single track trail & about 200 yards in front of us, coming toward us like he's on a Sunday stroll is a full size black bear! That's right a freakin' BEAR! My trail partner was running about 25 feet behind me and didn't see it until I dead stopped and told her. I may have screamed "It's a f*!#!! bear"...maybe ;) It was the most scared I have ever been. I wasn't sure what to do. At first the bear didn't see us because it kept ambling along, but then it stopped and looked RIGHT at me. OMG! My heart almost stopped! I backed right up and then we ran away. As fast as we could off that particular trail. We were lucky it was not a mama with cubs because, after some research today, that was clearly not the recommended method for dealing with a bear.
In my books, that's a big snake!

It was a day out of Wild Kingdom! Firstly, I spent the majority of the day complaining about all the snakes on the trail....quite frankly, 1 is too many for me but prior to the bear encounter, I crossed paths with at least a dozen! And some of them were big! Then, on our 4th and last pass on this one particular trail we found a freshly dead squirrel with some pretty big bite chunks out of him. Freaked us out! (I may have screamed like a little girl once or twice that day).

Our plan was to get in around 23 trail miles, but after the bear we beat feet out Of the woods and called it good at 21.We even left our empty water bottles in the woods! It is not like us to litter, but we were NOT going back for them that day!
1 mile before the 'encounter' celebrating a new trail PR distance of 18 miles

Then we sat on trail buddy's deck and had extra large marguirita's. We earned them and I'm still a little freaked out by the whole incident.

A happier part of the trail
As a public service, here is some advice on what to do if you encounter a bear....I think I am lucky to be alive because we did not do the right thing. What to do if you encounter a bear while running

In retrospect, I think we were out there too late in the day and the bear was just waking up.  We will not run that late anymore.   Why haven't I read about this in Runner's World?????

Tomorrow we face our fears and head back out there...besides, we have to pick up our water bottles!

We had 2...we earned them!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tortoise & Hare Trail Race

He is LOVING his Mum's socks!
Saturday, Thing 1 & I ran the Tortoise & Hare trail race in Ithaca, NY. He was good enough to come with me since my trail buddy turned her ankle on our previous trail run and was resting this weekend and I really wanted to go to practice following trail markers in a race as it is only a month to Finger Lakes Fifties.  He wasn't thrilled about getting up so early on a Saturday, but good kid that he is, did anyway.  In case you don't know Ithaca, it is known for its' deep & steep gorges, which are the focal area of several local state parks. It is absolutely beautiful here & Thing 2 & I go hiking here every summer. But never have I considered running the gorges until I hopped on the crazy train which is trail running! This race is up Buttermilk Falls and is the hardest race we have both ever done. It was just over 10K....6.5 miles actually.  We got up early to get there on time as it is about 45 minutes from home.

SD & Thing 1 LOVED my outfit...especially the socks & gaiter combo ;-D

It is a whole different atmosphere at a trail race...especially a trail race that cost me a grand total of $7.50 to register us both!  Very down to earth and low key.  But at the same time, well organized.  The trail was well marked and fairly easy to follow, and there were 2 water/gatorade stations on the course (1 of which you hit twice so had access to fluid 3 times). Good deal!

The bottom of Buttermilk Falls
We started out with a flat one mile loop around Larch Meadow.  The main pack bottlenecked a bit at the entrance of the single track so I had to stop and wait a few seconds for my turn to enter the trail.  This section was pretty muddy and you were pretty much stuck in the order you entered.  I was not too bothered as I knew the hard part was to come.  I did think of Thing 1 though and hoped that he was far ahead enough to get on the track early because he would NOT like to be stuck behind someone going slower than he wanted to.  Luckily, I found out afterwards, he was well entrenched in the top 10.  After this loop we crossed the parking lot and started the long hard slog up the left side of the falls.  It was steep. Holy moly, it was steep! Every time I thought it was going to end, it didn' just kept going and going and going....for almost a mile! Pretty much everyone around me hiked up the hill, hence my 15+ minute second mile.  Actually, I was pretty pleased with that since it was so hard.  Once we finally reached the top of the big climb there was a water station.  I was grateful!  We crossed the bridge to the other side of the falls and entered rolling single track.  It was really, really rooty and rocky with lots of climbs and dips.  I started to pass a few people here.  At about mile 3 we started to see the leaders coming back on the course.  I was thrilled to see that Thing 1 was in 6th place at this point.  He had 2 women on his heels so I was curious to see if he'd get chicked in the end.  He laughed & thanked me for talking him into this 'little' trail race...and then he flew by!

One of the hiking trails
I really enjoyed the single track and I felt strong on it.  We wound through the Bear trail and then looped around Treman Lake at the top.  It was great fun!  After the loop around the lake we were back on the Bear trail and heading back toward the big hill to the end of the race.  Flying down that hill was the most scared I have ever been in a race.  I was going so felt fast to me at least...and all I could hear was the sound of someone else bearing down on me.  I couldn't look back because I knew I'd fall if I took my eyes off the ground and I couldn't really slow down much because it sounded like this runner was right on top of me and I thought if I stopped he/she might just plow right into me.  It was an absolutely terrifying descent.  And the competitor in me didn't really want to let this person by me.  I'm happy to report that I not only survived that harrowing descent but whomever was behind me did not pass me!  I flew into the finish with a time of 1:18:33!!!!  Not only was I NOT LAST....but I ran a respectable time on a very hard course!  86/128 runners! Woo Hoo!

And get this...Thing 1 not only did NOT get chicked, but he finished 4th OVERALL with a time of 50:59!!! (He is a little horrified at the 'slow' pace but also told me it was the hardest, steepest and most technical race he has ever run).  Anyway, I am very proud of him!!!!

Post-race Moe's burrito devoured in record time!

Doesn't look too bad now, but conditions rapidly deteriorated
Coming in on the bike
Entering the finish shute
In other news, I spent sunday having the time of my life as a spectator & cheering section for SD in his first Olympic distance triathlon of the season! It was horrific conditions & he still PR'd at the Keuka Lake Tri. We had to get up at 4:45am to get there in time....ugh.  SD was in the second wave and the swim was brutal.  It was crazy windy and the water was so choppy that there were people crying as they came out of the water. Still, he was out of the water in 29 minutes, which was incredible!  It was raining through the bike and the hills were pretty big so the road was crazy slick.  He ended up having to take some of it slow just to be safe. While he was out on the bike I got to see a bunch of my Ragnar girls start the Duathlon, which was pretty cool!  Once off the bike, he started the 10K run.  He absolutely SMOKED it with a 42 minute 10K! I think he is going to be ready for the Half-Iron in June!!!!! 2:42:34 total time!

Plus, I got to see Jamie from Couch to Ironwoman racing!  Congrats to you too!!!!

A great, though exhausting, weekend! Can't wait to do it all again ;)