23 December 2013

Bogota, Bogota, Bogota.....

"You're going to get robbed." 

This is what many people told Wayne and I when we announced our intentions for our Christmas trip to be in Colombia. Oh, Bogota was SO dangerous. We were going to get mugged, kidnapped, or worse. And yes, it does happen at times, and we were paranoid at times, uber cautious. And happily, everything turned out okay.

We landed in a rainstorm. Our cabbie (who ripped us off, which seems to happen way too often with Colombia cabbies) told me that it normally doesn't rain this much. It basically rains every single day, for a short while. But today, it was pouring for way too long.

We got into our hotel, Casa Platypus. We had a cute room on the 2nd floor (about 140-150 pesos). I had a wicked migraine from not sleeping the night before (We stayed up all night to pack and clean our apt.), so we basically went out in the pouring rain to the closest restaurant, which was actually pretty good. The walls were covered with paintings of trolls and kitsch (ice skates, old irons, other random things). The food was pretty good. I basically collapsed into bed as soon as we got back.

In the morning, I went for a run. Duh. I ran down a pedestrian-only street a bunch of times, and got to see some pretty neat anti-war graffiti on the flower boxes. Wayne and I spent the morning in a lot of museums. El Museo del Oro was as boring as I thought it would be, but Wayne liked it. We discovered a bunch of fantastic museums, many of them free. We stumbled into a random vegetarian restaurant for lunch. We went back to Casa Platypus to regroup and the skies opened up. We cuddled in bed and read books until it relaxed, and then walked around the Candelaria, looking for a restaurant that had something vegetarian. We ended up at a random cafe with a space cadet American server. We walked around some more, then found a cute bar for the world's sweetest mojito and a beer for Wayne.

The next day, we took a field trip to Catedral de Sal. It was cool, but our tour was entirely in Spanish, I missed a lot of words, and Wayne knows zero Spanish. Wayne was excited to take Bogota's Bus Rapid Transit. The journey was long and we got back to Casa Platypus exhausted...but we should go to the church at the top of town! We quickly dumped some stuff and then headed out. We took the funicular up and the cable car down, and got to see the stages of the cross illuminated by fabulous Christmas lights - a little weird. The Christmas lights were amazing. We got pissed when we realized the ticket seller only sold us one-way tickets and pocked the difference. Tourist tax, sigh.

Our last morning in Bogota had me freaking out after my run that I lost my camera; it turns out, it was in Wayne's bag. Quickly, got ready, stowed out luggage, and headed out on a Bike Tour of Bogota. It was fantastic. My bike should have been put to rest a long time ago, and being nervous on a bike with crappy brakes, Wayne switched with me so I rode the less-sucky-but-still-not-great bike that he got. But the tour was fantastic. We learned a lot about Pablo Escobar's Colombia, the new Colombia, Galen, Gaitan, graffiti art, the red light district, went to a market and sampled wonderful fruit, visited a cemetery. It was really interesting. The only snafu was a woman on our tour thought it was acceptable to take photos of the prostitutes in the Red Light District, who were really angry and wanted to fight her. A little crazy. Why would you take a photo of someone who clearly did not want a photo to be taken of them?

Fascinating, art-filled, vibrant, energetic, polluted, literary, and fun. I did love Bogota, yes, I did.

12 December 2013

Frozen Bonsai Half-Marathon Left Me Frozen

Loops in Central Park? But why not when it's the Frozen Bonsai Half-Marathon, put on by the super duper awesome NYC Runs. And what else did I have to do, a day after running a 50k?

Photo by Ken Allen himself.
 My legs felt tired as I ran over the Pulaski to the 7 train, and as I ran to Central Park from the 6 train. Hmmmm.

When I got to the park, one of my NBR teammates said, "Oh, a half marathon? This is a walk in the park for you." I responded, "Literally, it will be." Literally because I could barely run, my legs were so tired. After the 50k the day before, my legs would be lucky if they could slog out 13.1 miles in a walk!

I started the race, joking around with whoever was around me. Mat Gerowitz was right by, and we began catching up, chatting, talking, laughing. After a few miles, he told me to go ahead.

I ran, and because it was so cold, never once looked at my Garmin. I decided I was running 10 minute miles, and hoped by some miracle I might break 2 hours. Not sure if that would happen.

I ended up meeting a nice guy, Leroy, and chatting with him the last few miles. Then a familiar bike came along - Wayne! "Hey, did the race start late?" Um, no, thanks for reminding me how slow I was. (Turns out, he thought the race started at 8:30 a.m., not 9:00 a.m.! Ha!)

I finished, miraculously, in 1:47. I say miraculously because that's a decent half time, especially since I have raced almost every weekend since September, and I ran a 50k the day before. Wooooo!

Freezing, I headed over to NYC Runs food area to eat some blueberries and bagels with cream cheese and strawberries and hot chocolate, and then went to meet my mom. What a cold day, some hills, but you know what? Awesome medal made it all worth it!

10 December 2013

Staten Island Trail Festival: Race Report: Cold, Muddy, and a Mud Bath to Boot!

I was going to fly out to San Francisco for the North Face 50 miler, but when I learned there was a race the same weekend in NYC, and I was traveling nearly every weekend prior, staying in town was a no brainer. Sign me up for the Staten Island Trail Festival! 50k please!

I headed out with some friends from my running club, all of whom were running the 25k. Beth and I planned on getting a ride home with someone running the 50k, unless he had to leave suddenly. Hmmm...we figured someone else from NYC would hopefully have room; if not, we could call Wayne and beg him or take a car service home. Oh, let's not worry about this during the race (okay, just a bit.), but just run.

The course consists of a 4 mile loop, then you do another big loop, and then repeat the second loop. Despite being Staten Island, there were some hills, lots and lots of mud, some pretty scenery. The aid stations were SUPER basic with bare bone minimum, but the volunteers were very friendly.

I started out feeling good, running with Matthew, who's a pretty tough runner, even when he's not even trying. We had fun chatting, catching up, laughing, telling stories. At one point, we began passing people who were behind us - seems like a bunch of people did a 3 mile loop instead of a 4 mile so...a little confusing but oh well.

After about 10 miles, we hit a hill and I decided to walk it and eat a gel. Matt kept running. He was in my sight for a long time and then he was not. I was bonking pretty bad; only gels don't sustain me and I wish I had packed mini bags of pretzels.

I got to the drop bag area and shoved a bunch of cookies in my mouth. I took off, walking it off, eating more animal crackers (I love bringing bags of animal crackers w me to races - they are carbs, a bit of sweetness, but plain enough to settle an upset stomach.). And then I began running. With strangers.

On a lollypop section, I saw Beth, Zandy, and Will were about a half mile behind me. "I want to run w you guys," I yelled. "Catch up w me."

I walked the hills, stretched, and ran. Eventually they caught up. We chatted, laughed, told stories. 

And then I fell in a pile of mud. Completely. Gloves, pants, shirt, skirt. UGH.

I finished, clearly muddified. But who cares? I was done. I put on warm clothes, and ate some brownies. Apparently, I was 1st in my age group. I didn't realize that until my friend told me later. Wooohooo! Let's eat. I was so cold and tired and hungry that I got home, hopped in a hot tub w Epsom salts and a sandwich. I ate and read and chilled in the tub. YAY.

Tofurkey Trot in Branford CT

Turkey trots are funny. All these non-runners come out to run this 5k so "I can eat whatever I want today." Realistically, they're only burning about 300 calories, so they probably can't have too much.

Wayne and I ran the Turkey Trot in Branford. The course is flat with a few hills. We ran the race, finishing a few seconds within each other. Then I went out for a 5k cooldown, during which Wayne caught up with old friends and ate chowder.

And then we went to the feast that is known as Thanksgiving. That's all, folks. Run a little, smile, cheer everyone on, and then go eat. 

Channukah Chalf: The Coldest, Windiest, Most Miserable Race I Have Ever Run, and It Only a Half-Marathon

Because I'm stupid, I signed up for the Channukah Half. "Oh look, there's an Oy Vey 10k and a Gelt 5k. This is the festival of lights race series! And put on by the beloved NYC Runs." I'm not Jewish, but I have a bacon-cheeseburger Jew as a brother-in-law (and don't tell him there's no such thing as a bacon-cheeseburger Jew), so I figured I'd do my part.

"Don't eat gelt. It sucks," he told me.

Okay, Brian. I'll just run the half instead.

As the days approached, I noticed how horrifying the weather reports were. Well, weather.com isn't always right,  right? 

Unfortunately, it was worse than you could have even imagined.

Cold. In the 20s, but feels colder. Windy. Wind gusts up to 50 mph. As the race was run along the water, spray from the water would come up and cover the entire race course, which would mean you'd be soaked. And then a gust of wind would come. It sucked. It was a double out and back, which meant it sucked worse in one direction (coming back). There were times I was running as fast as I could, and a glance at my Garmin would show me 10:30 pace. And then my Garmin showed some 6:50s. Ouch.

Tears down my face. I couldn't feel my hands. My feet. OMG I can't even move. This sucks so bad.

Then I finished. A volunteer frozenly handed me a heat sheet and Wayne put my down coat on over that. "C'mon, let's get you out of here."

I grabbed a salt bagel w frozen cream cheese and hot chocolate (Gotta love NYC Runs!) and stumbled to the car. The heat felt so good. I cried when I had to get out. Why? Why be someplace cold and miserable? This race sucked, I'm glad I did it, and I hope I'll never do a race that cold again.

02 December 2013

Brooklyn Marathon: Why the Hell Not?

 It's really not a good idea to run a marathon the week after running a 24 hour race (and the week before that, doing a marathon, and the week before that doing another 24 hour race, and the week before that, a half-marathon). But I'm not always so keen on good ideas.

Wayne has been pretty injured w sciatic problems for a year. But he insisted on running The Brooklyn Marathon, and I thought, "Well, a week after a 24 hour race, the playing field will be pretty level." So we ran together.

We started out, and I felt pretty good. Wayne was not feeling as good, so we ran slower than I would've liked - but faster than we said we were going to run. Oh well.

It began raining. My posture instantly changed and I curled up in the fetal position - well, as much as I could while continuing running. When we got to the NBR water stop, I ran behind it to where my bag was and pulled out a long sleeved t-shirt I had stashed in my bag. Ahhh.....

Then - duh, I ran a 24 hour the week before, WTF was I doing running a marathon? My back hurt and I just felt like crap.

Mile 23. Wayne and I shared an airport-sized bottle of whiskey at the top of the hill. I could barely run for a little bit, laughing and feeling the whiskey immediately.

I began to kick and Wayne didn't have it. He pulled me back so I'd slow down and run next to him. Then we crossed the finish line and kissed.

25 November 2013

Grandma Betty's Broccoli Casserole

Grandma Betty makes it old-school. This delicious (though it may sound scary, mayo, eeek!) dish will win over crowds at your Thanksgiving potluck party at work or on the Thanksgiving table itself. I'm pretty full.
  • 2 packages of chopped broccoli, cooked & drained
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of mayo
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 T minced onion (optional; I find onions to be gross)
  • Breadcrumbs
Mix beaten eggs with mayo, 3/4 of cheese, onion and broccoli. Put in a greased baking dish; sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs on top.

Bake covered 30 min 350. Remove cover last 10 min.

10 November 2013

Croatan 24 Hour 2013 Race Report: Grits, Grit, and a Whole Lot of Fun Despite Layers of Misery

Loving the trails
 My blister still hurts. I'm still hungry. I felt like hell, but it was fun.

YAY, another 24 hour!

Croatan 24 Hour is a great 24 hour put on by Brandon Wilson and his family. There is absolutely phenomenal support (The aid stations is amongst the best of any ultra I've ever run at - veggie & chicken broth, potato soup, turkey, potatoes, grits, grilled cheese, burgers, veggie burgers, sandwiches, various kinds of cake, tons of snacks, and all the usual traditional ultra fuel.).

The course has some slight uphills on some of the bridges, and there was one "hill." It's not bad but when it turned dark, I would walk it some of the time. But a lot of the times, I ran the beast. The course is very runnable - I think it is as equally hard as Hinson Lake. It is really pretty, as you are running through swamps and you get to see water and lots of trees, though it can get spooky at night. (Think hallucinations of witches, ghost hands touching you, shrunken heads.)

I was trying for 120 miles, but missed it by just over 10 miles. Booo. Not my day, but I still had a good time hanging out with lots of great friends.

I checked in to get a neat hoodie instead of tech tee (Sweet! I know what my new work-at-home top will be.), and Brandon showed me to the yellow bib area where I could stash my stuff in a tent, which made things a little simpler. (Yellow bib were runners who were being tracked closely, as they had hopes of making the national team/elite runners.) Also, got to have the awesome Jonathan Savage give me blister advice, and his son help me with little things like replacing batteries in my headlamp and opening containers of coconut water. (He is a mechanical engineering and physics college student; I may as well take advantage of that.) It was really great.
Enjoying the view

I started off, feeling like my tummy was a little off. I ran with various people, making new friends, chatting with old friends. It was a blast. I ate vanilla gus and drank water. Because it was a no-cup (for water and gatorade) race, everyone left their handhelds by the aid station and a lot of people just drank a little from their bottles whenever they felt like it.

4:12 marathon. Not bad. I ate carefully, but still felt bleh. 5:17 50k. Keep going. 

OMG my blister. The one from The Hard Way returned. I changed my socks and shoes and walked my cramped self back towards the course, where one of the runners asked me how I was. Dan was dropping. I mentioned my blister. 

"Want me to pop it?"

"I don't know if you can. There's a callous on top."

What did I have to lose but time? I took off my sock and shoe and showed it. Soon, he was jamming a needle into my toe and squeezing it flat while I squeezed Paula's friend's hand so hard I thought I was going to break it. He put some lube on my tootsie and I hobbled off.

And then I ran. Again. Wooohooo!

The day grew warm, but not too warm. Comfortably warm. It was sunny and I squinted a little below my visor. There were birthday spanks every time I passed Frank Lilley, chatting with Susan and Fred Dumar whenever I passed them, cheers for Paula. It was fun.

Dusk. I changed my outfit completely; I was sweat-soaked. I put on a long sleeved tee, which I ran in most of the race. I was moving enough and it never got that cold, though around 6am, I added an extra shirt.

On one of my first headlamp routes, I thought my tummy started feeling worse. I had some ginger ale. 

And then...

Yes, it's only a 1.36 mile course BUT OH MY GOD IT WAS SO LONG WHERE IS THE PORT-A-POTTY? I thought abt running in the bushes, but I didn't want to use my gloves (They were my warm ones.) or my socks. And there were not enough bushes in the entire Croatan National Forest for what I needed for.

I ran as fast as I could, hoping, suffering.

And then - relief in the Port-a-Potty. I let myself stay in there for one Bob Marley song and then I was out. Ugh. I took Immodium and went to the aid station for more ginger ale. One of the volunteers gave me a natural gu, and then I got a bowl of grits with some broth (for extra nutrition). I walked a lap with Paula, eating my grits, feeling better but not great. Oh, how I hate my tummy troubles.

I began running again, slower. I hallucinated. Witches. Curled-up dogs. Wolves. Witches. All sorts of things I now can't remember, which is probably a good thing.

I ran alone, with music. I ran with Paula. I ran with various people. I tried to keep food down, which was hard as I had zero appetite. My body hurt all over. I appreciated that the port-a-potties had handles to lower yourself down to pee. Ouch.

I tried to not hallucinate. I failed at that. I smiled. I waved. I cheered everyone on. I had fun.

I ran with a woman I had met at Hinson, Melissa, who was getting revenge for not running 100 at Hinson. We ended up running until the end, and as I suspected the race for 3rd place was close, I convinced her to run with me until the finish. Which she did. And got third place.

Mosi won for the men. Connie won for the women (after being on a cot under a sleeping bag for 2 hours, and having people beg her to get an IV). I was second woman, which was nice. I won a military hat from WWII. My grandpas, were they alive, would like it.

the hat  & the buckle

NYC Marathon 2013 Race Report

Almost in tears, awed by the fact that I ran 115.6miles (2nd USATF woman) the week prior and THEN ran NYC Marathon in 3:45

I kind of hate marathons. There's always the pressure to run really fast, and I always feel like if I don't PR, I suck. And then NYC marathon is crazy expensive and a big hassle.

But it's the best marathon ever. I've run Boston 3x and it doesn't even hold a candle to NYC.

I knew, a week after running 115.6 miles in 24 Hours at The Hard Way, I would be unlikely to PR. But hey, a girl can dream?

Regardless, I decided the best way to run this marathon would be to have fun! I wore my tutu, and got into the spirit of the marathon. I slapped high five, danced, sang along to the  music en route, waved, and smiled at EVERYONE. It was a blast. 

I went out at 7:30s, 7:40s, and slowed duh around mile 18. My body said, "Duh. You're an idiot. You ran 115.6 miles last week. You are a madwoman. And your legs are tired. We're slowing down."
Let's run with COLOUR!
But that was fun. More time to enjoy each moment.

The last mile, it hit me. THIS WAS HUGE. I was 2nd woman USATF the week before in the 24 hour National Championships and a week later, I was running the NYC Marathon. Tears gathered in my eyes and I sobbed aloud the last mile.

And then I was done. It was a beautifully fun day.

On the Verazanno Bridge!

Hmmm, maybe this marathon a week after a 24 hour wasn't such a hot idea?

28 October 2013

24 Hours the Hard Way: Race Report for 2013 Super Fun Race!

Initially, when planning my race schedule, this race, 24 Hours the Hard Way, was not part of my plans. It was the week before NYC Marathon, where I wanted to race strong, and it was pavement, and it was in Oklahoma.

Ray K. convinced me to do it, and I'm so glad I did. But really, I'm not sure what pushed me into going, now that you ask me. I think it's just Ray's persuasive and charming personality.

Going out to Oklahoma was a little insane. My life has been insane - Hinson 24 Hour in NC, followed by Ted Corbitt 24 Hour the weekend following, then visiting my bestie in Buffalo (wine! tea! fun!), then Toronto for work and the Toronto Waterfront Half. I came home on Wednesday from my work trip, unpacked and immediately repacked my suitcase. Then I took a nap, worked a day, then flew to Oklahoma. Ray K. and his son Jon picked me up from the airport, where I had shared a flight with the legendary John Geesler (who frightened one of my pacers at the VT100 two years ago when he was literally sleepwalking on the course...of course I was uber impressed).

The race was full of impressive runners - American 24 Hour Women's Record Holder Sabrina Little (who dropped out due to having a wretched cold/bronchitis/asthma), Connie Gardener, John Cash, plus a lot of of the older-but-super-fast-in-their-time runners. I met "Doc" aka Andrew who gave me advice on the damage that my frostbitten feet are STILL experiencing. 

Race morning, Ray impressed many by arriving more than 4 minutes before race start. We put our chips on; they used the ankle strap but I have never loved those. I imitated Ray and strung it through my shoelace (which just meant I had to move it when I changed shoes, which I did three times).

The course is a loop just under a mile - something like .96 mile. It's pavement. The course winds a bit, so you have to take the tangents so you don't run way over, but it's not horrible. It's pretty. Since Oklahoma is warmer than NYC, there were more plants alive, and it was pretty. The sun set later, which was nice, though it also rose later, which wasn't as fun. There were some slight hills, which we all regarded as mountains later in the race. "Cherie, toss me your crampons," Ray would yell if we'd pass each other on a "hill." Really, they'd classify more as "rolling hills."

The organization was pretty good. Chisholm is super-duper friendly, and his wife was amazing too. There was a big problem with timing (The display wasn't working, some laps got missed, and everyone was confused about their mileage, which was irritating.), but hopefully things get solved soon. I still am unsure of my exact mileage - I believe around 115.4 miles, which is a PR. Sweet.I missed my goal of 120 miles but I also had some issues, and it was not the perfect day for me - so to get a PR on a less-than-perfect-day is great.

The aid stations were great. There's one water and Gatorade stop in the middle of the woods, which I only stopped at a few times, but was nice to know that it was there. (So if I wanted a gel mid-loop, I could get some hydration with it. Yay.) The main station included a separate section for beverages, which was great if you were blasting through and just wanted to grab some liquid - water, Gatorade  sodas, red bulls of various kinds. They were lacking ginger ale early on, but after maybe 8 hours, they had some, which was nice that they listened to requests (I requested it; not sure if others did too?). The food - broth (chicken & vegetarian, yay, vegetarian!), standard ultra snacks of chips (but different kinds, how neat!), lots of hammergels, skittles, starburst, muffins (mmmm), frosted cake, grilled cheese, burgers, pulled pork, peanut butter, graham crackers, cookies, pretzels, and so many things. Basically, even a picky-in-ultras-eater like me was quite happy. I LOVED THIS AID STATION! I supplemented this with Delta cookies I hoarded from recent flights. 

Also, people moved a Halloween costume hammer around the course, and several balls. It's just a thing you did; pick it up and hang it from a tree branch or put it on a bench...They hung white Christmas lights in two different dark spots on the course which were pretty and fun...and combined with that and the brightly-lit sky, you did NOT need a headlamp.

I started out feeling good. As I blazed through the start/finish/main aid station, I thought, "Oops, a little too fast." I was running with a super nice woman Carol, also wearing pink (whose two sons were also running, how neat!), and said, "Ray is going to kill me." I was running sub-9s for a while.

After two hours, my tummy told me it was in charge. Good thing there were plenty of port-a-potties (always with toilet paper, yay) along the course. I stopped eating gels, visited the potties, and took an Immodium. Sad face. I hate my tummy sometime.

I slowed down, and skipped on gels for four or six hours. I switched to pretzels, veggie broth, and blueberry muffins. I was sad when they ran out of blueberry muffins (possibly because I ate them all) and I was forced to eat the lovely-but-just-not-as-delicious banana nut muffins.

And then, somewhere around 40 miles, I ran into Jameelah, and she told me her insane journey of getting to the race (which involved sleeping in a Walgreens!), of recovering from a recent injury, and then she mentioned the medics had done some work on a blister of hers. I had already changed shoes back and forth to accommodate my blister pain that day, so figured, why not stop by?

As I watched John Cash and Sabrina Little and Connie Gardener blow by me, the medical staff were super awesome and attended to my needs. First they taped up my toes together, and then did some massage to help my stomach, and gave me Rolaids and a ginger root pill. I ran a lap and felt like I was going to fall over - my balance was totally off with my toes taped together. They tried to cushion it. I ran another lap. "This is still not helping," I told Jared and the medical director. "Run another lap - we'll get the scalpel and then try to scrape it off."

I ran another lap and saw Jon mid-way and told him what they'd be doing. "Scalpel? Can I take photos?" Sure, why not. So of course he ran over to the medical tent. He wasn't running, but was taking photos.

I spent a little too much time getting my toe scraped at. Basically, there is a callous that has grown, and the blister was underneath. Or something. I'm headed to George Morgano tomorrow, my awesome podiatrist, who will hopefully help. So they had to scrape it down, then put these cushion things on my toe, then tape it up. Then I put on my cut-apart sneakers, because every ultrarunner has shoes with the toes cut out, right?

And I felt better. 

I ran on. I chatted with people, smiled, got lost in my head. I counted the laps, pushed up the hills, sipped broth. And I was feeling mostly good. It was an ultra. It was a 24 hour race, which is where you get to make friends with the fastest and the slowest of runners. I loved the people who set up some carports and hung their TV in the middle of the course, watching "the game" and updating everyone with the score. I laughed. I had fun. Even when it hurt, even when it sucked, I still had a lot of fun.

It rained. Silly Oklahoma. I wore a rain jacket, which normally would dissuade the rain, but the rain didn't listen. It wasn't heavy, but I wanted it to stop. It got a little muddy by one of the port-a-janes. It stopped before nightfall.

Night fell. I changed into a completely dry outfit in my new BFF Sherry's tent. (I was squatting with my plastic bags of supplies outside her tent and we became friends.) I felt amazing in dry clothes. I ran a lap and then ran into Chris Roman, a good friend of Tony's. We began running together....

...and we didn't stop until the end.

It was pretty awesome. I was pushing him, and he was pushing me. When I felt like crap, I thought, "I can't lose Chris now. He's pushed me so much already." And we were doing that thing, where I thought I had to run faster to keep up with him, and he thought he had to run faster to keep up with me. Basically, we spent over 12 hours running together, talking, laughing. I got a lot less sleepy and hallucinated a lot less than normal, mainly because Chris was keeping me focused and awake the whole time.

Don't worry, I did hallucinate though; I kept seeing headless runners (I'd see someone but see no head) or it would look like runners were running with their heads on backwards. Ummmmm....I have strange hallucinations.

Chris told me stories of running the Eerie Canal, the Brazil 135, races he had done, stories of mutual friends. He cursed when I convinced him to run up a hill. Sorry about that, Chris, but I figured that uphill was good for us. You know, good for you like cabbage.

I hit the 100 mile in 20:28! A PR by 30 minutes. I was SO excited. I believe I was screaming  in the aid station. Everyone seemed amused. Oh well. Good for something.

One of the race timers told me, "You're third woman overall, 2nd USATF." 

"What does that mean?"

"You're third woman. The second place woman isn't USATF. So you're second USATF."

"What do I get?"

"A shiny silver medal."

"I want a pony!"

But alas, I did not get a pony, but I do get a rather nice cheque. 

The USATF thing...you have to be a member of USA Track & Field, or you won't be counted in this race as a USATF winner, and since this is the national championships, it makes sense to be a member. I'm a member. The 2nd place woman didn't realize this, was not a member, and was rather upset at the awards ceremony. I don't blame her, as she ran a stellar race, and it wasn't acknowledged in the awards ceremony officially.

Anyway, the last 3.5 hours were rough. Chris and I both felt pretty tired. He hit a wall around hour 23 and I am afraid he may have been cursing me frequently in his head. I believe I did the same at one point. Something along the lines of, "WTF, why are we running? OMG this hurts, UGH, I hate this." But we stuck together. We were at the point where we had run together so long, we were NOT going to lose each other. We'd coordinate our bathroom breaks or I'd walk while he'd go or vice versa and then we'd catch up with each other.

We finished. Chris ran more miles than me early on, for 127 miles total. WOW. I kick myself for my stupid blister problems, which I probably wasted about 45 minutes total on. (What can you do, though?) Possibly more. Ouch. And my stomach is always a challenge. Luckily, Immodium, pretzels, veggie broth, and muffins saved the day.

At the end of the day, I had something like 115.4 miles. A PR. I was very proud of myself. 2nd woman USATF, 3rd woman overall.
I was a little delirious. I ate food, then we left partway through the awards ceremony so I could throw myself into the shower, shove all my disgusting and stinky and wet running attire and supplies into my suitcase, and rush into the airport and onto my flight with wet hair and bags under my eyes.

And then it was all a dream...an amazing race...new friends made....those paths will never leave my head.

Next up....New York City Marathon! I don't think the aid stations will be anywhere near as good, but I always love a running party! 

Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Evy is the star w her garbage bag pre-marathon attire

My work told me they were flying me up to Toronto for a conference we put on, so I could do social media. Neat. When I mentioned it to our Events Manager in Toronto, she told me there was a half-marathon and marathon the day before. Hmmm....

A marathon was a bit too much the week before a 24 hour race (I would be running 24 Hours the Hard Way the week after), but a half? I could do that. I did that the week before Hinson Lake 24. So yes, I'll fly up a day early and run a half.

I like a low-key race. Big crowds are also fun, but they usually are not combined. But here, yay, they were.

I headed over to the start with friends running the marathon, including Mary, Evy, Kino, and Thunder. We left our hotel after 8am for the 845 start.

We squeezed into our corrals shortly before the start. And I took off.

I felt pretty decent, and stuck to low 7s, even pushing it into the high 6s at times. Ooops. Oh well.

Around mile 8 or 9, my feet started hurting me. I've been having a weird problem - it is likely related to the frostbite I had a few years back (and am actually going to my super awesome podiatrist tomorrow about it) and my stomach hurt. Bleh. Push it. Bleh.

Close to the finish, one of my former Toronto colleagues, also a runner, screamed for me. Pretty awesome. Then, a few blocks later, my boss and three of my colleagues, up in Toronto for the same conference, were screaming their heads off for me. Really nice finish.

1:46. Not bad. Not my best, but my 3rd best. And not bad for the chaotic preparations (aka none) and the insanity beforehand (Saturday involved four trains, a plane, a cab, a rainstorm, and a power outage). I finished and was quickly covered with yogurt (um, I ate it but somehow got it all over me). I showered quickly and headed over to the work hotel, and on the way, got to see Kino, Evy, and Mary and scream for all of them. Fun times!

07 October 2013

Ted Corbitt 24 Hour: A Great Race Honoring a Great Man

This great race, The Ted Corbitt 24 Hour, honoring the spirit of the Great Ted Corbitt, began with Ted's pre-race mantra:

*I will be relaxed and free of all restrictions, free of all coordination tensions in running.
*I will feel buoyant and strong while running.
*I will run in a perfect pacing coordination form.
*I will be at ease during the morning of a/the race and my pulse will not accelerate before or during the pre-race physical examination.
*I will run hard and enjoy the effort.
*My gastro-intestinal system will remain normal in function on the day of a race and especially during a race.
*On the day of a race all body organs will function perfectly, especially the heart and digestive systems.

Ted was considered to be one of the greatest American runners, and was an active and incredible marathoner and ultramarathoner. His friends honor his spirit and accomplishments with this 24 hour ultra.

I originally didn't want to do this race, because it was a week after Hinson Lake 24 Hour. Well, duh, of course I can do two ridiculously-long races two weeks in a row. So says Ray K. And I'm stupid so I listen and I signed up.

The race was located in Juniper Park, less than 5 miles from my home. 1.1982 miles was the loop, and you ran it as many times as you could in 24 hours. 

I started out and immediately felt the hard miles from the week before. My hamstrings were TIGHT. Ouch. I was tired. I took it easy, walking laps here and there. 

My parents showed up, with TWO apple turnovers from the famed Malverne Bakery, and a carrot muffin. I have to say, apple turnovers are AMAZING during ultras. I walked a little with my parents, though they do walk slow (and my legs had already running many miles).

My time was much slower than at Hinson - I could feel the miles of Hinson. Okay, 4:30 for a marathon isn't terrible, neither is a 9:30 50 miler. But this wouldn't be a performance like Hinson. Okay. Well, you can't have two tough long runs two weeks in a row.

I got to meet new friends - this is why I LOVE 24 hour runs. I talked with Emmy a little. I caught up with Erin, chit-chatting with her about the latest in our lives. I met Fred Davis, Jay, Louis, Nick, and others. We cheered each other up, cheered each other on, joked about the tiny hill being a mountain.
me and emmy, pretty in pink!

Wayne stopped by in the early evening, which was a nice surprise. He was in back pain and didn't want to even walk a loop with me. Boo you. I'll run instead. Ouch.

I bantered with the aid station, placing elaborate orders for meals we all knew they couldn't provide, laughing the whole way. The aid station was a step above basic: pbj, chips, pretzels, honeydew, cantaloupe, pasta at night, pancakes in the morning (heavenly!!!), bagels & cream cheese in the morning, broth, tea....

I was running up the hill toward the turn when I heard my name being cheered...by Bomina & John Slaski! I got so excited, I screamed and jumped up and down! They walked towards the timing station and hung out with Wayne for a while, watching me run laps.

The night crew came on in the timing station around 10pm - lots of awesome people, like Phil, Chip, Skye, Shane. All friends of mine so it was lovely to see a cheerful person every lap.

I grew tired. I took my 5 hour energy shot, but it didn't perk me up. Susan's husband made me a perfectly terrible tea (As he put it oh-so-hilariously, "You take a Tetley bag, combine it with bad water and questionable sugar, you get terrible tea." Hahah.) and that actually perked me up, even if it did taste terrible. I ran. I sang to myself aloud. (Sorry, other runners around me!) I even danced while I ran. I tried to avoid the occasional rat. I chatted with my friends as we passed each other.

Morning came. People were running on the track, walking their dogs, chilling in the park, way before dawn. People, what is wrong with you? Go back to bed! I slogged around.

100 miles in 21:50. Not bad. Not bad. I napped in a chair for 15 minutes, then ran some more. And walked when it hurt. And ran.
this is how i run an ultra

I ran 108.56 miles, not bad. Third woman. The blisters on my feet were horrendous, and I couldn't fit my feet in shoes after. But I learned a lot, I had a lot of fun, spent some good time with good friends, people watched in a super interesting park for 24 hours. How much more fun could one have in 24 hours? Normally, not this much - you'd be sleeping, missing out on all of those hours and hours of fun!

06 October 2013

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Report (or 17.5 Hour Race Report)

You can't always get what you want...or what you train for.

Hinson Lake 24 Hour is one of my favourite races - the people are just wonderful, helpful and energetic. I have never been to a race and met so many new friends. The race entry fee is only $24 ($1 a mile), and the support - the volunteers, the food, etc - is outstanding. You also get a tshirt and a pint glass and sticker. (Pint glasses are good, since our house we break them a lot.)

I was really excited to run here again - it's such a fun race, and I get to combine it with a visit to my baby sister and her absolutely adorable baby. We had a complete blast and her baby is now a toddler and in love with me and she's SO much fun!

I got up at 430am & headed out to drive from my sister's in Raleigh to the race. I freaked out when there was some weird closure and no one had any clue what was going on and we were stopped for over 30 minutes.

The start of the race was a reunion with friends from last year. A lot of people remembered me (my signature buns and pink running skirts) and I was delighted to see my two favourite Hinson-ites, Alyssa and Hailey (sp?), daughters of Joe Fejes and Kelley Wellls (not together - they are daughters of them separately) who are BFF at races and they are super cute and yell, "GO PINK LADY" at me when I run by. They made me a bracelet they presented to me on one of the early loops and I really treasured it. Ultrarunning is really special.

Everyone was chatting and helping each other out. Because I came from NY, instead of having a shade structure and chairs and coolers, I had a bunch of plastic and tote bags. Ghetto fabulous. A random runner (turned out to be women's winner Andrea) invited me into her shade structure and she and her husband were super nice - "Oh, use our cooler if you want." "Sit in the chairs."

After around 30-something miles, I was maintaining a comfortable lead, feeling good. And then, a blister...ouch. I had to stop. I pulled a safety pin out of my bib (ouch, not that hygenic!) and popped my blister. I put moleskin on it and tried to run. Not happening. Kelley, who was not running this year due to injury, duct taped my toe and I must admit, it was better than a band-aid. Maybe she should try this in her role as a nurse? Ha. After a lap, it was still bothering me and I knew what I needed to do: have a Ray K operation performed. Eric, Andrea's husband, cut my shoe for me so there's  nice big hole in the side of the shoe, next to my big toe. Air conditioning! But seriously - it worked and my blister didn't bother me the rest of the race.

I was running pretty solid, chatting with lots of people. I was pushing the pace, but it felt do-able. I ran a 4 hour marathon, 5 hour 50k, and sub 8:30 50 miler...which is pretty freaking good considering my PR for 50 miles is 8:31 at Lake Waramug. I ate a mixture of gus, a few random aid station snacks, and lots and lots of ginger ales.

I kept going. I felt good, but as the sky grew darker, a pain popped up in my groin. A pain that I've never had before. I began to get worried. It hurt too much to walk - and running was hardly pleasant either.

I made a tough decision - having 3 more 24 hour races this season, and 2 marathons, I decided to stop at 17.5 hours. I was sad, and actually cried quite a bit about this. This was after I tried to lie down and couldn't - I was in too much pain. I walked to the car, devastated, but at the same time, hoping I was making the right decision.

After some time off, my groin is totally better. Whew. Was I overcautious? I don't know. But I do know I'm not hurt, which is really huge. So I'm glad that I"m not, but disappointed I didn't get to do the famed banana lap.

04 October 2013

Race Report: Narrows Half Marathon, September 15, 2013

I was not sure if I wanted to do this race, mainly because my girl V was in town and I wanted to spend time with her. But somehow, I ended up getting up ridiculously early and heading down to Bay Ridge to run this awesome race just under the Verazanno Narrows, along the water. I have run this before, when pacing in the Great NY Running Exposition, so I really loved this race.

NYC Runs put on the Narrows Half Marathon, and I have to say, I do love NYC Runs (and it's not just because I am so over NYRR). They put on a low-key race, but with nice treats at the end (bagels, cream cheese, fruit, etc) and nice little trophies (which I ended up winning one of, yay!). There's just a much better vibe at all of the races. It's a shame that so many NY runners are a slave to the 9 +1 (To get automatic entry into the NYC marathon, you have to run 9 NYRR races, volunteer at 1 race, and be a member. Way to fill NYRR's coffers.) because there are so many races that are MUCH better and more interesting and fun and unique than yet another trot around Central Park.

The course is flat and fast. You run out about 2.5 miles, come back to the start. Then you head out about 4 miles, and then come and finish.

I ran most of the race with a woman named Emily (Her teammates would not stop shouting her name so I learned it quickly.) and we tried to push each other through the race, which was nice. I had no clue what we'd ultimately run and when she said she was trying to break 1:35, I thought, "Hmmmm..."

1:35:something was my PR.

I came in at 1:34:46.

With a neat-o trophy.

Wayne drove a very happy Cherie home.

16 September 2013

Burning Man Ultramarathon 2013: Fourth Annual Ultra, Four Times As Awesome As I Could Have Imagined

The Burning Man Ultramarathon started as a dream of mine and has turned into a passion. It combines my love of ultrarunning with the amazing culture of Burning Man and is truly a race like no other. Where else can you take shots of whiskey, jump on trampolines, dance next to and inside of amazing sculptures, visit huge raves and clubs, see a beautiful mountain sunrise, listen to the boom-boom-boom of state-of-the-art sound systems blasting music from a giant bus transformed into a sailboat or playground or fuzzy caterpillar with people dancing on it and hanging off it...while running an ultramarathon?

Yeah, it's the only place in the world this can happen. And that's why I love it - and the runners do.

Many ultrarunners fulfill their lifelong dream of attending Burning Man - and many "burners" fulfill their lifelong dreams of running an ultramarathon. The community is based on comradery, on the ten principles of Burning Man People make the race what it is - each runner contributes a gallon of water and a snack to share (and some of the snacks were phenomenal, considering people were only camping and most without access to electricity), and other runners contributed custom-made water bottles, decorated tiles, laser-burned necklaces, and hugs. The camp Pink Lightning served as Start, Finish and the Main Aid Station, but also was the official party. People came by, sharing water gun squirts and hugs and shots and cheers as music blared and runners circulated throughout the aid station.

First place male Shaun "I usually don't race" Maguire won by nearly 40 minutes with a time of 3:32:51. First place woman Kathy D'Onfrio won with a time of 4:23:42 - and the course went close by Kathy's art installation "A Vortex for Vultures," and everyone was able to get a good view of the beauty of the birds of paradise and vultures as they ran by. While dodging cigarettes offered and loud dub step, runners have an amazing time like at no other race. While a ticket to Burning Man is required, the spirit of Burning Man will carry you when your steps tire - to the beat of whatever music you happen to be passing at that moment.

To see a truly wonderful video that captures the flavor of the race, check out second-place male Ryan Van Duzer's video.

My race was a little crap - my stomach went south after busting out 8-8:30 minute miles for the first 10 miles - and then I spent quite an enormous amount of time in the port-a-potties. Luckily, the port-a-potties were stationed close to big sound camps, so I was able to have a soundtrack to my misery. Ah well. I would literally lose everyone I was running with, as bathroom stops were usually between 5-10 minutes. Argh. When I came into the aid station, I yelled to Wayne (aka timekeeper extraordinaire and super boyfriend) to get my medical bag in the tent - and he came out with some Immodium for me. Booo. But I still had fun? How could I not? My last lap, I dragged out my injured Wayne for the out-and-back. He watched as I dodged people, ran into Bubbles and Bass and begged for a champagne (which, upon hearing how much I ran, they quickly gave to me), blew kisses, hugged every runner I passed - and had a blast. How could I not? It's Burning Man, my favourite place on the planet.

Post race, my tummy took a while to calm down. I cheered on the runners, hung out, drank electrolyte drinks, danced, clutched my tummy, hugged everyone who finished. It was a party for all! My awesome campmates Yosvany and Effy made the party even livelier, spraying down runners w vinegar and water, serving drinks, dancing....oh how I love Burning Man.

Hope to see you next year.

15 September 2013

Burning Man Ultramarathon VIDEOS

Duzer made this awesome video....Thanks, Duzer.

Best of Burning Man (besides the Burning Man Ultramarathon)

Each year, I have more fun in a different way. The art, the dancing, the friendships (new & old), the community, the culture, the spectacle. The ultra I'll touch upon later, but oh, what a week. My favourite week of the year.

At night, reaching for apples, but never getting them
The tophat

Dusty love

I am the "L" in believe.

Truth is beauty. Indeed.

The monkeys.

Me and Wayne after the monkey hut was finally set up. :) Notice the lack of things - early entry....

New friends, old friends - me, Beth, Gina at DeMentha (of course)

Beth abt to fall

El Pulpo Mechanico, of course

i love this boy so much

The car clearly states where we are - HQ of BRC 50k!

Me giving race instructions

At Distrikt, el Pulpo Mechanico

I'm in book heaven

Rachelle, Sponge Bob, and Me

The Man. This man isn't bad, unlike the one we ordinarily talk abt. 

Me, Wayne, Beth

Flaming skeeball. YES!

Flaming art

The man in day

The sacred temple

Kathy's Vulture Vortex

Wayne and I at Dementha...and Rod in the background

Me and my Dementha boys

Fireworks and the man

We are so freaking cute

The crew on burn night

Fire and love

Last night.