23 April 2013

Lake Waramug 50 Miler! A PR and oh-so-much-fun!

Before the Lake Waramug Race, I stretched, worried, taped my foot, rolled out the pain, tapered excessively and ran way shorter distances than planned.

"I don't even know if I can do the 50k," I said, fretting. I had signed up for the 50miler but decided to drop to the 50k...and wasn't even sure I could complete that. I was sad.

So I prepped myself. I told my friends I might not even make it past the 50k. I packed a bag with my kindle crammed full of books, my Spanish verb exercise books (Hey, if I couldn't run an ultra at least I finally might be able to understand the subjunctive? Maybe? Okay, probably not...), and a book about the horrific war in Bosnia by Janine diGiovanni. And some letters to writer and some Spanish exercises...and warm clothes...and hello Mary Harvey packed brownies, why the hell would I run if I could sit and read and eat brownies?

Tony kept telling me I should just do the 50 miler with him, but he knew about the pain I've been feeling - esp with pavement. I didn't want to mess myself up for the slew of races I have ahead - Bear Mtn 50 miler in two weeks, followed by Greenbelt 50k, followed by Brooklyn Half, and then a week off, then North Face DC 50 miler, then pacing at San Diego 100, then pacing at Great NY Running Expedition, then Finger Lakes 50, then Vermont 100, then Moosalamoo 36 Miler, then Burning Man 50k...then summer is over. So a lot of running! And I'd rather not do something stupid and mess my summer of fun up!

I was a bundle of nerves at the start. Actually, I was more like depressed. I chatted with Erin and Mary, who were bubbly and pantless (they were wearing skirts!), and I was freezing and refused to take off my pink zebra striped leggings. This day was going to suck if I dropped. Wayne had pitied me and told me if I dropped really early, he'd make the drive up to CT to fetch me. I had visions of crying the car ride home.

But it didn't happen like that.

Tony and I started off easily, chatting, with Tony complaining we were going too fast and me feeling like this lake went on FOR-E-VER! But it was really pretty - the course was asphalt, running on the side of the road with most of the cars slowing down and driving in the other lane. There were rolling hills, you know, slight up and downs, nothing too terrible. We walked the hills in the later laps, mainly to slow down our speed, give ourselves some time to recover and do something different, and omg, it felt so freaking good just to walk up a hill here and there.

The course also had incredible aid. So you do a 2.2 mile out (and then there's an aid station) and come back 2.2 miles. Then you do a bunch of loops and maybe an out-and-back depending upon your distance. But each loop is 7.6 miles - and each loop has the awesome main aid station, plus three others. Carl Hunt, I have a crush on you. The first aid station I usually didn't stop at, except once to grab pretzels and once to beg for ginger ale (which they didn't have). The second aid station - I think I want my wedding one day to be staged here. Hello! Grilled cheese! Pumpkin pie! What else do you need? Oh yeah ginger ale and some red or blue Gatorade. Pretzel slims! I was in heaven. Tony and I stopped talking to each other in order to cram as much in our mouths as possible. I love this race. And then it was the really cold and windy and sucky and hilly part of the race and then ANOTHER aid station. Mmmm pretzels and ginger ale and GO!

I started out feeling pretty unsure...what could I do? What should I do? Tony was pretty chipper and full of cheer...we chatted about life, races, friends, whatever else. Tony only made me stop to laugh hysterically like a hyena once. I laughed other times like a hyena but I only stopped once.

My foot began hurting, not a lot, but some. I really didn't want to quit, I didn't want to quit. It was around mile 9. I decided I'd try to at least do a 50k.

"C'mon Cherie, do the 50 miler, c'mon, c'mon."

"You know I want to...I just don't want to hurt myself more."

I ate vanilla gus as we ran, gawked at the pretty houses, laughed, drank water, suffered.

And then I missed the 50k turnaround.

"I'll stay with you the rest of the way," Tony promised.

I gritted my teeth. My foot wasn't hurting as much.

The second-to-last loop, Tony was calculating pace. "Cherie, you can def PR. As long as we keep up this pace--"

"Shut up, shut up, I don't know what will happen!"

The last lap -- "Cherie, I think I'm gonna PR. Oh!"

We could both PR? Insane!

We took a walk break. Even before we started walking, Tony was moaning about how amazing it felt. "This is better than sex," I told him. "Right now, I def want this instead of sex." It felt that good. Seriously.

We pushed it. I pushed it. Tony pushed it. We were hurting but --


Tony smashed his Pineland Farms 50miler PR of 8:47 and I kicked my PR of 9:05 -- to 8:31!!!!!

We finished crossing the line together! I was third woman (1min10seconds behind the second place woman). We changed, scarfed some food, and I felt amazing. So high. I couldn't believe that I had PR'd when I thought I was incapable of doing 19 miles less...

My books remained unread that day, but they'll get read. The race - well, that was run, in the best possible way!

21 April 2013

Traprock 50k Race Report

It was SO much fun last year, I decided to do it again!

It was hilly, it was rocky, it was rooty. The RD is great - Steve Nelson - and the people are great, friendly, and fun.

I headed out, planning on running a relatively easy race. I had run a half marathon, then a 24 hour, then a 3 hour, and now this. And I had a 50miler scheduled the next weekend. 

I drove up with Scott, Glenn and Will, and had a fun ride. My boyfriend tried to make it like he was being nice in picking me up from the race. (Him: "I'll give you a ride home." Me: "But I have a ride home." Him: "I want to see you finish." (Note, he did not do this; he arrived almost an hour after picking me up.) The real reason - he wanted me to go to dinner at his parents'.)

I started out too hard, like an idiot with asthma, duh. You can't sprint straight up hills when you have asthma. I have to start races SLOW. The initial climb up sucks a lot, but whatever, you deal with it. Lots of rocks, roots, look down the entire time. Then you have a "Stairway to Heaven" section - where I couldn't remember the tune to this song as I climbed the rocky stairs so I had Eric Claptop "Tears in Heaven" in my head instead. Bizarre.

I met a really nice woman, Amy, from Long Island. We had some similar races, and quickly bonded, talking about work, life, running, the usuals. We ended up running much of the race together and finishing together. Woooohooo!

15 April 2013

The Boston Marathon Should Not Be the Site of a Terrorist Bombing

I'm literally on the verge of tears. Been like this since I found out. Goosebumps on my arms. 

My marathon PR is from Boston - 3:28.

I cannot believe someone ruined something so beautiful and wonderful. Why? Why hurt innocent spectators and runners? Why?

We cannot hurt and use hate to control the world. We need to use love.

Run love...

So glad I didn't even attempt to get into Boston this year.

08 April 2013

Run Long. Run Far. Get Lost. Have Fun.

I love runs without pressure. Without the need for anything to be accomplished other than have fun. 

Saturday's three hour was a lot of fun. I had some pain at times and had a fairly decent page, but nothing too crazy. Yes, I pushed hard at the end, but mostly, I figured I'd do whatever and life would be good. And best of all, I had a friend who believed in me and pushed me to win.

Yesterday, I headed up to Bear Mountain with Iliana, Georgia, JT, Beth, and Kristen. We had a little too much fun running, getting lost, looking at maps, hiking, eating pretzels, getting lost, laughing, getting lost...it was a good time. We planned on sticking together, having time on our feet, and having fun.

Sometimes, having fun is the most important thing.

Really, always it is.

06 April 2013

BUS Three Hour Run in Valley Stream Park: Catching Up with Good Friends, Post Wedding Fun & Oh Yeah, I Somehow Sprinted to First

I was bitterly disappointed that my cousin scheduled his wedding on the same day as the Umstead 100 Miler. (Who does that? Really? Well duh, he's not an ultrarunner!) Family's first, so I spent the night drinking vanilla martinis and pina coladas and watching Gram dance to Gangnam Style (a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life!) instead of going to bed early (and no, Ray K's idea of "Just have Wayne drive you down post-wedding didn't work...esp since the wedding ended at 1am and Umstead started at 6am - a 10 hour drive away).

Then I found that Broadway Ultra Society was having a three AND a six hour run. SCORE! Okay, so we would be an hour from the start by the wedding, but Wayne would not get up at 6am to drive me to be there at 8am for the six hour start. Okay, okay. So I'll have another martini. Instead, we slept in until 8am, got ready, did some family stuff, and then drove over to the 3 hour.

I def felt those martinis - and no, I was not drunk or did not have THAT much to drink anyway. But normally I don't have that much...and I get a little more sleep.

So I decided, "I'll do the 3 hour easy. Just relax, run with my friends." Erin and Gabriel were running the 6 hour (and both did awesome, Erin got 11th woman and got a nice trophy and Gabriel also got a trophy and is a total animal for coming back after not having run for WEEKS due to his appendix being removed!). And Emmy was there so we started off and began chatting easily - catching up, talking about what friends were doing, wondering how Tony was doing in Umstead, our training, our families, our lives, the usual stuff, just having fun. And I felt tired, yes, but soon, the miles flew by and the time.

At the start, Emmy was saying, "You are going to win this," and I said, "Please, I ran 24 hours last weekend and went to a wedding last night, so no thank you." Towards the end, Emmy said, "Cherie, you're going to win." I told her, no, another woman was in the lead - and I pointed her out.

"Cherie, you can get her! GO! GO CHERIE! GO, fast, GO GO GO GO GO!" 

And I took off. I was somehow pushing hard the last four minutes, and I passed the first place woman. Emmy was somewhere behind me, which I didn't realize but ultimately, Emmy took second. I finished, and as my poor feet were tired, I sat down. Then a bunch of dogs began barking like crazy, so I moved over, sat down, and began catching up with Trishnul about running and races and training and herbs and all sorts of things.

Then we went back to the gazebo. I was pleased to learn, not only had I won first place woman in the 3 hour, but I won the Grand Prix Award for the races last year (that GLIRC and BUS put on, with NY Ultrarunning) - first for women 30-39. Pretty sweet, I got a nice plaque. And then I ate a bunch of pizza and made Wayne go shopping at Home Goods and then I went home. Ahhh....

05 April 2013

Who's the Inspiration?

I didn't have a lot of time and wasn't feeling good. I ran to the gym and began lifting weights. I went to the first "fat thigh" machine (that's what I call it; it's great for strengthening hip and IT and muscles) and then moved on to the next. A much older lady sat down on the seat I had just vacated.

"Oh my. Oh my. Did you really do all of this?"

I had the weights set to over 200 pounds. I nodded.

"That's amazing. That really is. But you need to be careful, not to do too much. I don't do too much. But I'm glad I can."

She began telling me - she had worked in the schools as an aide, never had any time until ten or fifteen years ago when, in her early seventies, she retired. Her children were all raising their own kids, and now, without a job, without children, she had time to pursue her own interests. In her eighties now, she went to the gym several times a week, to lift, use the various cardio machines, go to the aqua-aerobics classes.

"I am so impressed. That's incredible," I told her. Eighties and going to the gym.

She asked me what kind of working out I did. I admitted I liked to run a lot.

"Now, don't do too much. Those marathons..."

"Well, I don't exactly do marathons. I've done them before."

"They're too much. People get hurt."

I told her I run 50 milers, 100 milers, 24 hours. She seemed stunned.

"I don't get hurt. I pull back. The second something doesn't feel good - I stop. I'm not using that machine," I said, pointing to a hamstring strengthening machine, "because I hurt my hamstring months ago and it's still not strong enough to lift that. I don't have a problem stopping, and that's why. If you stop the first sign - you often don't get a second sign."

We went back to my racing and she asked me questions. Then she said, "You're an inspiration. You really are."

I blushed. "No, you are an inspiration. I hope when I'm your age, I'm still doing it."

She smiled and I had to leave, go to work, to the grind. But it's hard to leave the active world, where we all inspire each other.

01 April 2013

Operation Endurance 24 Hour Race Report: Great Aid, Felt Like Crap, Somehow Was First Woman, and Ray K Rocks

So a radical leftist ultrarunner heads to an army base to run a .995 mile loop course for 24 hours. What could be more fun?

It was an absolute blast.

GUTS put on an awesome race, Operation Endurance 24 hour (with 12 and 6 hour options too). The aid was amazing – some of the best I’ve had at an ultra. Aid stations featured water and powerade (which I mixed with water) and it was really nice to not have to carry a bottle. The food included pizza, grilled cheese, quesadillas, soups, mashed potatoes, Easter treats, the usual snacks, cookies, chips, pretzels, gummy bears, Moon pies, hamburgers, and so much more. It really was really a fantastic selection and I never felt like they didn’t have what I wanted or needed at any given moment.

The course is flat, almost a mile. It’s soft dirt with some small crushed gravel (not really gravel but those tiny little rocks) and was really nice to run on. Some people complained of slippage, but I thought it was a soft surface and my feet under the toes on the ball did not hurt one tiny bit. Wooooh!

It’s also completely lit up so you don’t need to wear a headlamp which is wonderful. There are port-a-potties RIGHT next to the course (which was great so you didn’t waste time going to the bathroom, unless you were having kidney issues which are another thing). There were cots to nap on under a tent, rows of tables under tents (so your stuff wouldn’t get wet) with seats, seats, glorious seats. There was plenty of spot to set up a table, a tent, arrange your stuff. The course had trees and bushes around part of it, with a little creek/water area. I saw an armadillo, several deer, tadpoles, and saw some other animal I couldn’t identify.

Interesting, fun, and a great race.

The only negative I’d say is that it is completely exposed so you will get very sunburned if you’re not careful/a Northerner. I could really feel the heat – it got into the 70s.

I started the race a little fast. Um, a lot fast. Wait, wtf am I running sub 8s? I slowed down and ended up getting in a groove with a nice guy, Hong. We ran 8:30s. STILL too fast.

My tummy felt off from the start – never a good thing. I ran with Hong for a few hours and then decided to slow things down. I kept running, but slowed the pace. And began feeling even crappier way too soon.

So I backed off. I began drinking more – a mixture of powerade and water. I felt like hell, my legs felt like crap, and I just felt exhausted.

Now, please note – from Monday – Friday before the race, I had been sick with what I realize was some sort of virus or minor flu – exhaustion, sore throat, headaches, achiness. I went home from work early Monday and Thursday, took a half sick day from Tuesday (and worked a few sporadic hours from bed) and worked at home Wednesday. Thursday I felt like utter crap. (Don't tell Ray K this - he'll say, "I've changed lots of babies' diapers and you don't feel like crap.") I was feeling a lot better by Friday but was still taking medicine and feeling pretty wiped out. Friday night before the race I slept over eight and a half hours and slept an hour and a half in the car – and I was STILL tired. So I definitely was not in top shape to run a race. I should have taken a more conservative approach, incorporating more walk breaks early on. With a flat course, it’s hard to find an excuse to walk. Later in the race, I’d stop by the aid table, grab a quick snack and walk on through, munching. Or walk and sip a drink. Or just walk right by there to give my legs something different to feel.

I felt progressively worse. Tears in my eyes worse. I definitely was not running 120+ miles today. My lead was gone and I was now feeling death march-ish.

Enter Ray K to the rescue. He was doing a fast shuffle around the track (The Ray K shuffle is a pace in between a very fast walk and a run.) and would run hard-ish at the mile mark to the quarter mile mark. I joined him and a really nice funny guy Keith for a while, and the combo of walking/running was a lot of fun. We laughed, told stories, and Keith and I developed a rapport of eye and facial expressions about Ray’s stories. Ray told us stories abt Gary Cantrell (aka Lazarus Lake), Barkley Marathons, Fred Lebow, Ted Corbitt, Jimmy Carter, duct tape on socks and ER visits, and other interesting ultrarunning tales. It was a lot of fun and I was honestly sad when Keith finished the 12 hour. I missed him.

I began running again more. I felt like utter crap and talked to Ray. I was thinking I’d just tell Scott I was done and go back to his house and sleep. Scott had come out to do the 12 hour as a Keys 100 Test Race and realized he wasn’t trained enough and ready enough for Keys – so he dropped shortly after 6 hours and was chilling with friends, waiting for me. Scott was actually the reason I was there. He kept nudging me with Facebook messages about what a great PR course it was, how I could go 120 miles there, how it was so much fun. And once my Umstead 100 plans were thwarted by my cousin’s wedding, it would be a substitute race. And when I found out Vikena was putting it on and Ray K would be there, icing on the cake.

But I wasn’t feeling good. My whole body was aching. My feet were especially swollen. I was hallucinating like crazy – whenever I looked at the track, instead of footprints I would see fossils and hieroglyphics and Mayan carvings and sea shells and sea creatures. When I’d close my eyes (even as early in the race as a few hours in), I would see black with neon-glowing lines. When I went into the port-a-potty, the walls felt like they were closing in on me. I’ve never done acid, but from the descriptions from friends, this is probably what it is like. (And honestly, it FREAKED me out and why would you want to feel that?)

Ray said, “Why don’t you use this as a test run? Test out different methods and shoes and foods and stuff. Why don’t you try to lay down for a few hours and see if you feel better? If you don’t, you can just leave.”

That sounded smart. I was feeling like hell and I didn’t see how things could change. I put in another few laps and settled down on one of the cots with a sleeping bag provided by Scott at 14 hours.

I was cold. My body hurt. My mind was too awake. I kept seeing images. I shifted, tossed and turned. I had taken off my shoes and had my feet slightly elevated. I heard the slam-slam-slam of the port-a-potty doors, heard chatter. I couldn’t sleep. I realized I can never do a multiday b/c I just can’t fall asleep during a race. I even have trouble after. When my body is in that much pain, it is hard for me to shut off.

After less than an hour (and Ray’s suggestion was 2hrs-3.5 hrs), I decided, “Screw this. I cannot sleep.” And I felt a burst of energy. Afraid Ray would dissuade me, I quickly pulled on my socks and sneakers. And then I grabbed a grilled cheese. Mmmmmmm. One of many delicious grilled cheeses I would eat. I grabbed my headphones, which I never run with except at night during 24 hours. (It gives me energy when I’m falling asleep. I do pull off an ear bud whenever I pass a runner to say hi but many of the army dudes in the race didn’t do the same thing so you’d be talking to them and they wouldn’t hear you.)

And BOOM, I was GONE. I took off. People were staring at me. “Wasn’t she just sleeping?” “She has been in terrible shape for a while and now, wow!” (Well, that’s what I assume they were thinking.)

When I passed Ray, he was a little shocked.

I put in some good mileage. Ray told me that the 2nd place woman was dropping with 75 miles. “You just gotta keep putting in miles and you’ll move up there.” And a little while later, the first place woman left the track, feeling hellish. (At the start she had said, “I hear we have similar time goals. We should run together.” And I thought that sounded great. Too bad our high and low points were not coordinated or we could have cheered each other on.)

The hours somehow passed. I divided 24 hour races up into four six-hour segments which helps me mentally handle it better. The last 8 hours – “This is less than a regular workday!” And the time flew.

I walked with Ray K. I realized walking hurt more than running, so I ran. I ran and walked. I finally came in an hour before, with Scott who went out on the course to find me.

“Yes, you’re first place woman. 86 laps. Second place is 84.”

Scott and I set out for two more laps. My feet were so swollen and spotted with heat rash and covered with blisters that I changed into socks and Birkenstocks. We chatted and it was so cheering to finish a race with a friend.

I finished and ran through the finish line with hands in the air, huge smile on my face. Vikena gave me a dog tag instead of a medal (Nice concept for a race on a military base.) and being 1st woman, I got an awesome North Face backpack  embroidered with “Operation Endurance 24 Hour.”

I was so happy. Scott drove up his car onto the track and we packed things up and we found an IHOP. It was one of the best meals I have ever had – it tasted wonderful. I was starving of course. As I will be for the next two days.

Overall – a fantastic race. Well-organized, great support, super friendly people, free butt slaps during the race, big clocks to countdown. I highly recommend it and yeah, I’ll probably be back.