Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hills, Speedwork & 2-a-days

Like most parents my life revolves around my children's running included. During the school year I still only run on my days off work, but the majority of those runs occur while they are at school. For my rare weekends off I tend to save shorter runs.

I spent all of my spring on the trails. After the ultra, school was over so it has proven impossible for trail buddy to get out during the week so I have been back on the road. It's not a bad place to be. After all, I do have a fall marathon to train for...but the transition has been more difficult than I imagined. Back on the road I am less carefree, less fun. It's not that I dont enjoy the road...I still love to get out there and run, but my mind has transitioned from time on my feet training with no numerical goals to hill repeats, Speedwork, hitting my splits, etc etc. I certainly get satisfaction from meeting those training goals and working hard, but I have come to mostly look forward to my 2-a-day workouts.

They happened by accident. Sheer luck. My sons' XC coach assigns his runners summer workout programs, but also hosts 2 group runs a week. These happily have involved the local running clubs' summer XC trail series on Wednesday nights & another night at another local trail. In order to motivate myself to do the hills and Speedwork, I schedule them as my morning workout on group run days, then reward myself with a safe trail run in the evening. I figure, I have to drive a herd of teenagers to these locations anyway, I might as well run too. I have become 'that mum that always runs too'...the kids even occasionally acknowledge me as they blow past me on the trail.

Tonight, my kids & their friends ditched the XC series because it was too hilly and decided to meet at the park for a group run. At first I was bummed, but then I realized that any run is a good run & I could run the dike and still get 5k in. Then, I still had time to blog, read my book & enjoy this beautiful evening....

Happy running!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So I Married A Half-Ironman!

Signing the "Wall of Mussel" mural
This spring/summer has been a whirlwind of training activity in our household. You all know about my adventures with The Toronto Marathon, Ragnar Cape Cod & the Big-Daddy of them all: becoming an ultra-runner with a 50K trail race.  What you don't know is that SD has been triathlon training like crazy for his 1st Half-Ironman....yes, 70.3 miles of triathlon grit in mid-July heat.  With a crazy real-life job, he's been fitting in training at 4am, lunchtime & late in the evenings. His commitment was incredible...though he would argue that doing this might result in him having to be committed ;-D. I have to admit, up until this weekend I had sworn off triathlon...mainly because I suck at the bike ride...because the last one I did I really didn't find it very fun at all. 

However, watching all those athletes compete at the Musselman 70.3 might have me a little tri-envious! For all the triathletes out there, if you are looking for a well-organized, fun sprint or half-iron triathlon that is located in a pretty town that is very family friendly, this is it!  There is even a kids tri & a micro-tri on tricycles, which I'm told is pretty hilarious.  The Sprint distance is on Saturday & the Half-Iron is on Sunday.  They even have a Double-Mussel category for those masochistic enough to want to compete in both! Oh, and you can also do Aquabike in the Half-Iron distances. 

Coolest medal: Re-purposed bike gears!
I just like this picture :)
We drove up (about an hour or so from where we live) on Saturday after I got in 10 miles in the morning.  We went directly to packet pickup, which was at Hobart & William Smith College.  This is a very convenient location for athletes as the college offers up their dorms for rent during the summer.  We did not stay there as it was already sold out by the time I got around to thinking about accommodation, but it is a pretty neat set up.  The dorm set up is in the Olympic Athlete Village style and there are even 3 bedroom condo's you can rent for the weekend if you are traveling with your family or couple athlete families.  Anyway, packet pickup was quick and organized.  They made each athlete weigh themselves and write their weight on the back of their race bib so that medics could better assess for dehydration if that became an issue.  The RN in me was thrilled at this detail, especially since temperatures could potentially reach into the 90's on Sunday.  After packet pickup we headed over to the local bike shop as SD wanted to look for a couple things.  With the race forecast as being a hot and humid one, SD bought a hydration belt just to be safe.  Then it was on to the mandatory pre-race meeting for all Half-Iron Athletes.  It lasted about a half hour and reviewed the course, mentioning any changes and why from the previous year, and reviewed the safety measures that have been instituted.  They also reviewed the time cut-offs for each leg & what would happen if you did not meet the time cut-off for each leg.  Just thinking about that makes me a little sick....I can't imagine what that must feel like to be told you can't continue...absolutely heartbreaking.  Luckily on race day, only a couple riders didn't meet the cut-off.  Btw, kudo's go out to the local bike shop: Geneva Bicycle Center, who HAND SWEPT all 56 miles of the bike course! They also provided bike support and were out there helping with flats.  They also checked every single bike in transition for flats while the athletes were doing their swim! Wow!

We then drove the course & attempted to rack SD's bike. Unfortunately we couldn't take advantage of the night before secure racking because we left the race packet back at the hotel & you had to have your bike number attached to rack your bike....D'Oh!  

Carbo-load pasta dinner....the boys liked this...of course they did, they are teenagers and it involved food.

Race morning we were up at 5 and out the door pretty quickly.  Things moved pretty quickly pre-race.  By the time SD got transition set up and we headed over to the water to check it out, they were announcing that the water temp was 78.4F....wetsuit illegal.  Well, according to the rules, you can wear a wetsuit between 78-84F (I think), but you are then not eligible for awards.  It was a big decision, wet suit or no wetsuit.  SD decided at the last minute, no wetsuit.

He was in the 3rd wave and had a great swim....36:31 for the 1.2 miles
T1: 3 minutes
Too bad I can't zoom this...he has a good pain face
Rockin' the bike!
Then it was on to the bike course.  Clouds were coming in and I hoped the rain would hold off for at least a while.  It didn't.  By the time I drove Thing 1& Thing 2 to McD's for breakfast it was coming down buckets. I hoped SD was ahead of it for the biggest downhill portion at least.  Luckily he was.  I fed the starving hoards and then we headed out on the bike course to see if we could see SD around mile 40.  We did and he was surprised to see us! We cheered like the maniacs we are!
Bike: 2:55:10.....way faster than he anticipated! Great ride, Babe!
T2: 2:25
Then it was off on the run.  He looked good coming out of transition, but the sun had just come out and the humidity was hanging like a wet blanket over everyone...I was a little worried, but thankful that he at least had a hydration belt to carry him through aid stations.  There were 11 aid stations on the course, that were well stocked with water, Heed, Endurolytes, food and sponges.
Half-Iron Dad!!!!
Run: 1:48:12
Total Time: 5:25:18!!!!!!! 31/110 Age Group & 153/1000

So, Yeah, he has earned the right to be known at Half-Iron Dad (HID) on this blog from now on! ;-D

Congratulations, HID! You Rock!!!!!!

.......& maybe I will think about getting back into Tri for next season...Hmmmmmm.....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finger Lakes Fifties Race Report

 Sorry for the delay...we took off on vacation race night and went completely offline for a whole week...thoroughly needed & enjoyed!  And a warning...this is a long one!
Don't let the cows out!

Mr Bigglesworth & me chillin' on the front step at 0415 ;)
Race day started early with a 3:45AM alarm. I had everything laid out and ready to go, so it was get dressed, grab a coffee & bagel, load my hydration pack and head out the door. Trail buddy picked me up at 0430, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts in Watkins Glen along the way and arrived in Finger Lakes Forest around 0530. It took about a half hour to unload our stuff at the entrance, park the car, & then hoof it all the half mile or so into the starting area/half way loop point. This was a pain in the butt but there really is not another way to do IS a run in the forest! There was simply not enough room for 200+ cars to drive in there. C'est la is part of the whole trail running package. We set our blanket of 'stuff that we might need at the half way point & after the race' in the shade and hit the port o' potties just in time to get back to the road for the pre-race announcements (basically, shut the gates & don't let the cows out or we'll never be able to race here again)...not your usual pre-race instructions! The weather forecast was for +90 degrees, we were thrilled & relieved when we were told that ice would be available at aid stations starting around mid morning...phew!

We are off!
Through the first cow pasture
Couple of dorks on the trail blocking the path
The clock hit 0630 and we were off! A short run down the road & we soon hitting the trail. It was great! We even ran alongside a cow pasture & the cows ran along beside us! Very cool! About 3 miles or so into the race we hit a service road that went seriously downhill for most of a mile...I believe this was the beginning of my undoing. We started downhill not thinking that it was going to go on freakin' forever! We hit it too fast and I trashed my quads and think this is where I might have tweaked my knee. I KNEW it was too fast...I KNEW it...and I just kept going...sigh. At the end of this downhill was the first Aid Station...aptly named "The Morgue". The volunteers were awesome asking if we needed help refilling water bottles or hydration packs, offering food, water & Heed. Never used Heed before but it was good. We grabbed some M&M's, water etc and were back on the trail. The next part had some hilly sections, but they weren't too steep or long and we just walked when we needed to and plodded along, finally hitting the next aid station, which was named "South Beach".  We would do a loop and hit this aid station a second time.  It was indeed starting to feel like the beach out there and we were looking forward t the next aid station as we hoped the ice would be arriving soon!  BTW, whomever thought up the simple idea of the 'ice bandana' was a genius!  Works crazy well! I believe it was in this section that trail buddy took a header on the trail...a root just reached up and grabbed her out of nowhere and down she went, taking the brunt of the fall on her hip and shoulder.  No abrasions, but that hip started swelling right away and she was feeling it pretty quickly.  She shook it off and kept going though.  Thank goodness it wasn't too severe.  Another runner we know came across a woman lying facedown on the trail with a compound fracture of her wrist...yikes! When we arrived back at 'the beach' for the second time the volunteer told us it was about 3 miles to the next aid station.  It seemed a whole lot longer.  I think it might have been 3 miles to the next checkpoint where Search & Rescue volunteers checked you off their list in the continual effort to keep track of runners.  The organizers were very were required to make sure that your number was recorded at each aid station and S&R checkpoint.  It's good to know that they were going to make sure whomever went into the woods came back out too!

Thanks Steph, for taking our picture!
After the S&R checkpoint we headed out across an open field.  It was crazy hot & sunny.  The grass was about up to my chest but a path had been mowed and we were treated to a spectacular view overlooking the area surrounding Finger Lakes Forest.  We stopped and had a fellow runner take our picture...a very sweet girl who I realized after the fact was a blog reader of mine.  So, thanks Steph, for taking our picture and I'm sorry I didn't realize who you were...though we kind of met on the trail as we kept running into each other for quite a bit of the race!

We hoped they wold not have to be deployed for us!
We finally arrived at "The Library" to find ice & the best tasting Pringles ever!  And some pretty incredible volunteers who boosted our spirits and chatted with us while trail buddy checked out her hip and figured out what was going on in her shoe that was bugging her.  After about 5 minutes or so we were back on the trail.  This section started out single track, then we went by a horse camp and ran along a horse path dodging horse patties along the way...not super fun as it smelled a bit here.  After this it was a long, long gradual climb that was more out in the open in a grassy area.  A few trees but not much shade to be had.  It was along here that we were overtaken by the 25K racers who had started an hour after us.  We cheered the frontrunners on as they went by.  The next aid station was cleary the party station...we could hear the music blasting from it before we could see it!  Everyone there was screaming and cheering! So cool!  It was fabulous!  After a drink and some watermelon it was through the gate and through another cow pasture where the partyers final words to us were: Make sure you close the gate on the other side and don't let the cows out! I laugh just thinking about it!  No worries though, the cows must have been sleeping because they could not have cared less that we were running through their pasture.  We were 2.79 miles from completing our first loop! It seemed to take forever! Through some more single track, around I think 3 ponds and we finally started seeing the tents from the campground that marks homebase and the end if the first 16.5 mile loop!  What a feeling it was crossing that lap mat...knowing we were half way done and still feeling good! I immediately hit the portaloo and then grabbed some food.  We ended up stopped here for about 20-25 minutes....I'm not exactly sure how long it was.  But we finished the first loop right on track @ 4 hours 5 minutes.  I was absolutely thrilled with the time! It took a LOT longer to get going again than I anticipated.  Trail Buddy changed her socks, inspected her feet and a fabulous volunteer took my backpack, told me to grab something to eat while she refilled the hydration bladder.  I was SO glad to not have to fumble with it and just be handed back a pack all ready to go.  It was MUCH appreciated! As we were here the 50K winner came through. It was humbling as we were only half done.  Finally though, we set back out and were back on single track weaving through the forest.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as we hit that long downhill road section my legs started to feel like crap.  They were so tight and my left knee just started to ache like a you-know-what.  I actually had to ask trail buddy to stop and walk a bit down the road as i knew any more pounding was going to be the death of me.  I think during the stop at the half my legs might have thought the party was over and those muscles started tightening up big time....ugg!  20ish miles in and I'm starting to really feel it.  Once I stopped for a bit the ache went away but unfortunately it would return over and over again through the remaining miles.  I was going really slow and walking fore than I really wanted to. It was very discouraging as the rest of me was raring to keep running hard. 

At "The Morgue" ~ mile 20ish
At the bottom of the hill we arrived back at "The Morgue" and the wonderful volunteers who correctly interpreted the looks on our faces and quipped 'we ordered that downhill extra steep and long just for you'...LOL! They were great, volunteering to take our picture and just generally checking out our well-being to make sure we were OK to continue on.  Everyone was big on reminding us to take care of our electrolytes.  We had our own Hammer Endurolytes, but they had some available at the aid stations too.  I have never used them before, but I could tell the difference when we waited too long to take them.  We took them at every other aid station the first loop and every aid station the second loop.  We didn't experience any cramping and we stayed mentally clear.  Well, as mentally clear as anyone gets who thinks that running 33 miles in plus 90 degree heat through a forest is a fun way to spend a Saturday in June ;-D

Officially ultra @ 26.3 miles ;-D
We definitely were starting to wilt a bit in the heat, but the ice in the ice bandana and added to the hydration pack helped keep us cooler.  We were soon off into the forest again.  Things slowed down through here...though strangely hiking up the uphills was easier on my legs than the downhills.  It was hotter. Because of the aid station that you hit twice, we crossed paths with some runners that were ahead of us.  Some had bloody scraped knees & hands and others told us they were downsizing from their intended 50 miles to the 50km distance due to the heat.  The nice thing about this race is that if you register for either the 50 mile or the 50km, you are actually registered in both and depending how you feel race day, you can decide to stop after the 2nd loop or go on for a 3rd. The only stipulation is that you have to complete 50km before the 8 hour cutoff in order to qualify to run the last loop and complete the 50 mile option.

Me not letting cows out!
At around 8 1/2 hours my Garmin died.  It was 28.77 miles at that point.  I knew it was going to happen so had started my Nike+ app on my phone a few minutes prior to this but we no longer knew exactly what mile we were at and how much overall time had elapsed.  It was really, really weird for me and it affected me mentally.  I knew roughly where we were but I couldn't figure out how long it would be to the next aid stations.  I guess if I keep up this ultra thing I need a watch with a better battery life.  The worst section was the last.   From the last aid station it was 2.79 miles to the was the longest 2.79 miles ever.  I think it took over an hour. I got a text from my concerned husband asking me if I was done yet at around a mile to go.  I was getting a bit fuzzy through the last mile.  I was OK, but I really just wanted to be done.  My legs hurt and I was just plain tired by then.  I had been out for over 9 hours and just wanted to see that finish line pop up around every corner.  And seriously, every time we went around a pond I thought it was the last! I forgot there were 3 of them.  Anyway, finally we saw the campground, I waved trail buddy off and told her to go ahead and finish.  I was about 45 seconds behind her and when I saw the clock it said 9:59 and was creeping toward 10.  I gave it everything I had...which was not much...but managed to cross the line at 9:59:53.

I was done! I was happy, relieved and exhausted all at the same time! Trail Buddy and I managed to get over to our stuff and collapsed onto the ground.  We didn't even bother to get a picture standing...we asked the woman sitting beside us in a camp chair to take a picture of us.

We are Ultra Runners!!!!!!

I took my shoes and socks off. My favourite rainbow socks had holes and my feet were full of blisters.  I am glad they did not bother me while I was running, but I sure as heck felt them as soon as my feet were bare....holy moly, am I glad we had aquaphor to lather them in!  Trail Buddy had packed some sweat towels in ice water in our cooler and we laid back for a few minutes with our feet wrapped in the cold towels.  It felt like bliss.

I cannot wait to do this again!

33 miles, almost 10 hours, happy Ultra Chicks!