29 July 2013

Six Hour Pajama Romp Race Report: Tired Legs from VT100, a Beer Break, and FUN!

Why not run a 6 hour race a week after running 100 miles?

Well, for starters, it is a very dumb idea. But I like dumb ideas, sometimes.

I decided I'd see what I felt like at the Six Hour Pajama Romp. Maybe I'd just run a few miles here and there, and then chill out, hang out on the sidelines. When Tony said he was going to come and crew Aaron Heath (who later won, yay), I was in. I packed up a cooler with some beer (Petrus Pale Ale) for Tony and hopped a ride w Ray to the ride.

We arrived later than we'd have liked, due to some transit issues of friends we were picking up at the train station, so I barely had enough time to pee, kind of organize my stuff and go. I started out faster than I expected; I was running w Shannon and we were running 7:30s, 7:40s. We were chatting, catching up, so it didn't feel awful. After an hour and a half, though, my legs felt tired. I decided to take my time and slow down. I ran some more, a little slower, enjoying the day, chatting with the other runners.

After a few hours, I was tired. Running a 6 hour a week after running a very hilly hundred is so dumb. I stopped, sat on the cooler next to Tony, had a little beer, and caught up with Tony. After 10 or 15 minutes or maybe more, I got up and ran again. Oh, drinking Petrus was much better....argh my legs.

I ran most of the rest, taking it easy on the hills instead of hammering. My stomach gave me grief, but luckily there were bathrooms (though the hunt for toilet paper was a concern multiple times) which I did use.

I finished, just under 34 miles. Not bad considering I ran 100 miles the week before...

With tired legs, I took a baby wipe bath - and then pulled on a dress and headed out to a bar for my friend's goodbye party.

28 July 2013

My Disability Is None of Your Business

To be technical, I would not consider myself a person with a disability, though I do have asthma. But lately, I have had a temporary disability, that being tendinitis. I have De Quervain's Tendintis, which is a painful, slow-recovery tendintis that runs alongside the thumb down the inside of the wrist. Basically anytime I use my thumb or wrist, it hurts.

It's from over-use; typing too much at work. It hurts when I type, open a door, lift something, wash a dish, when someone squeezes my hand, when I clap, when I brush my hair - it hurts. Anti-inflammatories and a big black ugly brace help me.

I've been getting sick of strangers approaching me. Friends, I don't mind. They know me. But strangers? That's just...rude. I swallowed it and politely told everyone for the first month and a half...but then I started to snap.

A security guard in the airport came up to me as I was reading a book, waiting for my parents to arrive. "What happened to your hand?"

"I don't think that's really your business. Do you ask people in wheelchairs why they are in wheelchairs? Do you say, 'What's wrong with your legs?'"

He awkwardly backed away, muttering something. I was seething.

Why do people need to know? My friends might be curious and concerned, but strangers - that's not their business. They're not a part of my life.

My mother told me I should say something rather xxx rated, which would have been a little shocking even for me to say. But as my mother and I recently were purchasing things at Lord & Taylor, the cashier felt the need to inquire, "What happened?" Not - "Are you okay?" "Do you have pain holding that - should I rearrange this?" - but "I'm nosy and want to know what's going on." Probably she sees it as she's trying to make polite conversation.

"Oh," I said breezily, watching her layer tissue paper around the delicate lacy pastel green bra. "I punched someone in the face."

She seemed a little shocked. "Uh..."

I meant to say, "I'm kidding," but somehow didn't.

"Oh, he was a jerk, he deserved it."

My mom and I walked out of the store, giggling. Oh, but if they just kept to themselves...I really don't want to explain multiple times what is wrong with me, what I am doing about it, what the prognosis is. If there isn't a reason for asking, don't.

22 July 2013

Vermont 100 Miler: Still My Favourite Race, and LOTS of Grilled Cheese (And Even More Hills)

This is my favourite 100 miler. Oh Vermont 100, how I love you!

Friendly volunteers, great race organization, kick-ass fun aid stations with great selection of food, oh-so-beautiful, tons of access points for your crew.

This is my favourite race.

But it's not easy.

The course is a combination of dirt roads, some gravel roads, jeep roads, trails, and a little paved roads. This year, lots of rain led to the new addition of LOTS OF MUD. UGH. Oh well. Keeps things interesting, right?

This year, I was really excited because I had two amazingly eager and awesome crew members/pacers. Kristen (K.P.) has run a bunch of 50ks and Shane has never run an ultra, but they both were eager to see me dry heave and cry. They were an amazing team and I barely had to do anything at an aid station if they were there. 

You have to show up the day before for medical check (They weigh you and take your blood pressure.) and go to the pre-race meeting. I was a bundle of nerves. Post-meeting, Kristen and I headed to a random restaurant where we ate dinner and joked around. I sorted through all of my stuff and then had trouble falling asleep at 8pm. I finally fell asleep close to 10pm...and woke up at 2am.

When I woke up and began to get ready, I realized I had no running socks...except for the ones in my drop bags, which, you know, I had dropped off the night before. I had cotton ones with little hearts I had slept in the night before...so I started with those. Oh crap. Bad idea on a course with lots of mud....ugh.....

You start at 4am on a grassy field out onto some windy dirt roads that make this New Yorker panic with how tiny and windy they are (for driving, that is; for running, so fun!). It was a good fun excited crowd, everyone chatting, catching up, still having fun. I had forgotten my headamp, so I borrowed my pacer's (Kristen's) and it either needed a new battery or was just pretty weak because it wasn't too helpful.

The course is beautiful - but hilly. The worst part is mile 31-62. That is SO hard. It was way harder than the 50miler I just ran. Just lots of punishing ups and downs. 

I ran out pretty hard - looking at my Garmin, I see my first mile was 7:42. Wow. Lots of 8ish minute miles in the beginning. I was having FUN. It was beautiful, there were nice runners, and oh, how I loved it.

Mile 22.5 I got to see K.P. My feet were already soaked and muddy and I ran with her to the car and then I sat in the driver's seat and changed my socks. Ahhhhh....much better but I already had a blister. Not being a big blister person, I attribute a lot of it to the socks. And oh yeah, all the mud there was no way I could avoid running through.

I ran on. It was pretty, fun, I chatted with lots of people. My nutrition felt pretty good. Mile 26.2, I shouted, "We just ran a marathon! YAY!" And of course, kept going. Because this is an ultramarathon and we're too stupid to stop at 26.2.

I surprised myself to see my 50k split as 5:34. Pretty good, actually. I was hauling ass up the mountains. Push, push, push. I ate gels, my chewy shot blocs, and drank water. It wasn't that hot - it was SO incredibly humid.

Stage Road Aid Station was mile 31.4 and Shane was there for the first time and amazingly was in the role. Him and K.P. ran around, fetching me ice for my coconut water, feeding me gels, cleaning and lubing up my feet as I changed socks and shoes. They both seemed cheerful and I was sad to not see them until Camp Ten Bear.

And then, crap, wait, SHANE, KP - take ME WITH YOU! THE NEXT 30 MILES SUCK, PLEASE, PLEASE, Oh....they left....oh crap...I have to run this.

You run down the road (stuffing pretzels in your face if you're me) and then you go up this steep muddy (There goes those clean shoes....) trail, and it gets steeper, and steeper, and oh crap, this sucks, it's hot, it's humid.....

But then - oh my god - the meadows....most runners call it "The Sound of Music Meadows." It really looks like. I began singing it and this guy joined it. It was this beautiful harmony and we began running together, singing various songs from The Sound of Music. Unfortunately, I began getting a weird stitch in my stomach from running too fast downhill so I slowed down and let the songs live on in my head.

I love the covered bridge. I was so happy and then I was even happier to see my friend Tammy, who had just run Badwater. I shoveled some chewies in my mouth and ran on. To an uphill for 2 miles. That sucks. That is horrible. 

The entire time I felt like I was going to vomit. Horrible. I swallowed tears and pushed up but it sucked, sucked, sucked. I couldn't eat.

The aid stations felt further apart than ever before - but there are 29 aid stations so I know I was just wimping out. But seriously - did they make this course 200 miles instead of 100? It felt double as long....

Finally, shortly after 43, I started feeling less horrendous. I wasn't ready to eat anything, but my tummy didn't feel like I was going to vomit everywhere.
Help, get me out of here, this hurts...

Camp Ten Bear. Oh, glorious. I weighed in - SAME WEIGHT. Let's celebrate with a grilled cheese sandwich, coconut water on ice. I changed my socks and headed out on a nice jaunt. Wait, hills, what, I thought we were done. WHAT?

I ran with Keith Straw. I ran with Ironpete. I ran with strangers, new friends and old. I sang aloud. I sang in my head. I struggled with the hills.

Mile 50. Sub 10 hours. Not bad, not bad.

They slightly changed the aid stations this year - Seven Sees was a new one for crew. It began raining, and then pouring as Pete and I ran into the aid station. I moaned, "I don't wanna run. I hate the rain." I changed my running skirt; my liner was causing some horrendous chafing.

I put on a rain jacket; I ran out with Otto, who was having tummy troubles, and Pete. The rain stopped. I ran into Margaritaville, which sadly had no cookies but which of course was playing Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville." Shane brought me my sewing bag by accident which I had left in the back seat of the car and I teased them, "Look at this fabric; could I use this in a 100 miler?" I needed KP's industrial strength hospital grade lube and Shane screamed, "Lube, get the lube!" and KP ran to the car. I changed my soaked socks and drank more coconut water and ran on.

I ran with Keith Straw a little as we pulled into the next aid station. I kept having to pee but actually had trouble peeing - it took FOREVER. (See the Ultra List for my question and the answers, ha!) And then...wait....yes....CAMP TEN BEAR AGAIN!

I got weighed in and oh crap....I lost three pounds. Not a big deal but I needed to make sure I ate and drank lots. "My, you're looking skinny, Cherie," KP told me as I began to fully change my humid sweat-and-rain-soaked outfit for a brand new outfit. I stuck my tongue out, ate more of the more gourmet delicious grilled cheese, pulled on my headlamp, and set out with Shane.

I didn't know Shane that well, but of course, in true ultra style, we began blabbing away like we were BFFs soon. He seemed really intrigued with everything, and we talked about running, school, friends, growing up. The time flew, although the miles did not. I had such painful blisters and my feet were so swollen. Despite having changed my shoes to a half size bigger, my feet were nearly bursting out. I begged some volunteers for Ibuprofin and it helped a bit.

Spirit of 76. Shane and I got to see the lighting of the paper bags on the steps. It was SO pretty. I began screaming at how it was my favourite ever aid station and I ate some grilled cheese.

We left and 89 felt really far. Bill's Barn. We ran through windy trails and while Shane was completely normal, I saw monkeys in the trees. I didn't tell him how many hallucinations because to be frank, I didn't want to freak him out and I was kind of freaked out. Run forward. Run. Run. On his first introduction to an ultra - "Oh yeah, man, she was on crazy drugs. No one could act like that." Ha, I wish. At an aid station, I begged for morphine but no one heard me.

Bill's. I weighed in and I weighed 3 pounds more than my original weight - which was 6 pounds more than less than 19 miles earlier....ummmmm...that's kind of a lot. I told KP when I left and she burst out laughing.

I changed my socks at Bill's, said goodbye to Shane and I got up. Everything looked fuzzy and black. "Kristen, I need to walk," I said, unable to see the world clearly. I felt like I was on some sort of weird drugs. "Sure, Cherie." We walked. "Oh, this is the field I hallucinated in last year. That was a nice hallucination." "Sure, Cherie." And I saw a ghost and I saw...

The hills...OMG. Down hurt like up. Why was I going SO slow? WHY? WHY? I had been on pace for sub-20 and wtf is wrong with me? Why was I dragging slow? I might not even make sub-24. Push ahead...push ahead...OMG my blisters...my feet....dry heaving....ugh...so tired...energy shot...chew a shot bloc....what am I doing out here? Why does this hurt so much? Oh, this is pretty...wow, this is scary....I have to pee, ugh, it takes so long to pee...look at these roots...try to not face-plant...I wonder if I'll get home in time for Margaret and Joe's party...wonder where my other friends are, like Carlos and Hiroshi and oh my god, I don't even know anyone else's name anymore...that girl with a, her name starts with a letter...uh....why does this...ugh, it hurts...it was so fun earlier...at least it's not hot or cold. Kristen kept talking, complaining, gossiping, talking, I don't care. She told me the story of a messed up relationship, I told her one. 

Polly's. OH MY GOD. Shane was there and it was so nice to see him. 4.1 miles to go. OMG. YES!

I hobbled away, K.P and I running to the finish. It took forever. It was actually more like 41 miles there. I saw the gallons of water with glow sticks lit up close to the finish. And the signs that said "1 mile to go" and "1/2 mile to go" - that as per tradition, KP kicked for me.

The finish line. The finish line. THE FINISH LINE! I crossed it, SO happy. Far from my goal time, but sub 24. Best of all, I had fun. I saw pretty spots of Vermont. I sang with strangers. I made new friends. I had a blast. And you know what? ONLY ONE MORE VERMONT 100 UNTIL I GET MY 500 MILE BUCKLE. (And six more until I get my 1,000 mile buckle...)

Shane and KP had so much fun they are already planning next year...and decided they are going to take on another pacer/crew. Those interested in applying must follow through with a rigorous application process. 

Postscript: After Shane brought me a grilled cheese sandwich, we all collapsed in the car...and our car got stuck in the muddy field. Shane tried to push out the car, dig out the car, use bales of hay. KP got stuck in knee high mud. I hallucinated in the back seat and dreamed of taking a shower. In the end, a tractor pulled us out. It was a surreal end to a bizarre day.

11 July 2013

Last Annual Vol State

Who else is obsessively following the Last Annual Vol State? This is a run of approximately 314 miles across the state of Tennessee, with a few other states thrown in for fun.

Check out live updates on the map or Laz's spreadsheet...

10 July 2013

Finger Lakes 50 Miler Race Report

The mud made it interesting. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't know how to have fun.

I signed up for Finger Lakes Fifties because it's my friend Mary's 50 mile birthday party. Normally, I'd taper a bit more (maybe just do a 50k) two weeks before a 100 miler, but I really greatly prefer 50 milers to 50ks. So I ran the 50 miler.

The course is a 16.5 mile loop you do three times if you're running the 50miler, plus a "baby loop" of a half mile that of course felt like MUCH longer when you were doing it. The course was mostly runnable, with some hills that I ran a little bit too hard, but whatevs. Not exceptionally gorgeous, but pretty.

The course was not marked very well. Most trail runners know that you can easily zone out, and although I was paying very close attention, I panicked completely in one section b/c there was a long section with absolutely no ribbons or arrows, and I was convinced I was lost and was on the verge of hysterics when I finally saw an arrow. I also got lost and ran an extra mile or more, and I did it with a guy who finished third at Barkley last year. The only person to have ever finished Barkley third. And my friend Tara was behind me and made the same mistake. And one of my teammates got lost in the 25k and did it three times. ARGH. 

The aid stations were quite basic - nothing special, and ran out of things by my third loop. (I heard reports of volunteers not wanting to open new soda bottles for runners wanting Coke in later loops bc the race was "almost" over. Sad.) I'm of course spoiled by races like Vermont 50 and Vermont 100 and of course Burning Man 50k where people go out of their way to make exceptional aid stations. 

I got lost early on and I was so pissed. I was racing hard, hoping to have a decent race. I didn't know the course but my main goal was to race a solid race, ideally under 10 hours. It kind of killed to run 10:02.

I ran the first loop in 3 hours, not bad considering I spent a mile or more getting lost. The second loop I slowed down a tad, but ended up running 3:13ish. I came through the second woman - well, the first 50k woman won, and now I was the second woman through. If I stopped, I could've been automatically second woman (age group award) but I wanted to run the 50 miler. So I kept going.I was first for 50 miler. And it kicked me in the ass when I was passed at 44miles. ARGH. But second place isn't too bad...it's actually quite nice.

The last loop went to hell. The mud had dried up a bit, but the bugs were WORSE. I was covered with mud, and my eyes were apparently a destination vacation for the bugs of the Finger Lakes. It was awful. Wayne was pacing me and we kept stopping for him to squirt water in my eyes or trying to get a bug out. UGH. I didn't even look at my legs but when I stopped at the end, I noticed a big bug dance party on my muddy legs. Basically, I was absolutely sexy and should have scored a giant modeling contract post-race.

My caloric intake was a little low; I only had a few gels (Strawberry Banana Gu and Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel), some of the Clif Shot blocks (Tropical Punch) and ginger ale, when they had it. My tummy felt a little weird and perhaps I bonked due to calories?

The funnest part of the race was camping before and after. Well, honestly, if I ever did a race like this, I would be sure to have a real shower after (kind of gross to not....baby wipes and water only do so much). But it was nice to drink some yummy black cherry cider w some good friends, relax, hang out by our campsites. 

I'm not sure I'd be back....

Next up, Vermont 100 miler!

05 July 2013

Moving Ahead?

Last week's rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 have given me so much hope. Sure, we get homophobic jerks speaking their hateful minds sometimes, but those two decisions were massive.

I had heard the Macklemore and Ryan song abt same sex marriage equality, but I didn't really think about the power - and the reach they were having. This is a hit song of equality. And for the hiphop community - which is so often full of hatred towards the LGBT community. It's hard to listen to so many of the talented lyricists when the words are rooted in hate.

As a teen, my best friend was gay. He still is. His parents resisted periodically, telling him he had to "find the right girl" and often insisting that I was his girlfriend. They didn't want to believe the truth. Now, they've accepted it.

But so many times, I told Mike I didn't want to get married if he couldn't. I'm happy to say, he now can in New York State. Not everywhere, and that's something we'll need to work on one step at a time. I saw the stupid immigration BS my friends had to go when his partner transferred him to the states - my friend's partner's company stepped up and helped out - nice when companies are the ones speaking out on the BS and helping the create change.

But we're not there yet. We're so far from equality. But this is a beautiful glimmer of hope. So while last week's tears were truly tears of joy, there are still of lot of tears of pain that will be happening moving forward, and I hope they are much more minimal than they have been in the past.

04 July 2013

Pacing Ray K in the Great NY 100 Mile Running Exposition

Ray K came back for round two of the Great NY 100 Mile Running Exposition - and it was even better the second time around.

Ray K. is one of my best friends, my coach, and used to be one of the top ultrarunners in the world. Now, he's begun truly focusing on his training, and it's amazing how much he's progressed since he began 100% focusing - and when he doesn't stop to take a nap!

I got up at 7am, ran and trained over to Central Park to do the Pride 5 Mile Run, called Ray to hear his updates and update him on my race (7:11 pace for 5 miles, not too bad), came home, showered, ate breakfast, and then Wayne and I drove down to mile 71, where we were to report to at 2:30. We got there at 1:30 and it was Far Rockaway Beach - yay, RIGHT on the street in front of the beach. Wayne and I hung out on the beach until our co-volunteer of the aid station called and told us we didn't need to report until the first runner came in to at least the aid station before - so Wayne went surfing, I waited anxiously for the phone call, checking the FB page to see the status of runners coming in, while spraying on sunblock and reading a Wade Davis book

Our aid station was pretty much the most awesome aid station ever. We were in front of this weird MoMA dome w some sort of cafe during the day and club at night. All these random sometimes drunk people kept talking to us and asking us what was going on. The RDs only supplied water and gatorade, but Wayne, Yuri and I brought pickles, bread, chips, pretzels, watermelon, crackers, and other random snacks. And the ocean was across the street! Great people watching, and you could see the runners from far away.

It was fun, greeting runners. I'd run into the street, doing high kicks, shouting things like, "I AM YOUR AID STATION!" and chase them along to the aid station. People went inside the dome for a mid-100 mile dance. Others did cartwheels coming into the aid station. Some people were out of it. Others, so with it I was amazed. It was pretty impressive.

Ray came up an hour later than he was supposed to, but that's okay. We ended up having a lot of fun instantly, so who cares?

We headed on the road, sharing stories, asking each other for advice, talking about our days, the fun and struggles and getting lost (Ray got lost, not me, for once).

Mile 75 aid station was hidden in the bushes, but we welcomed it, said hi to Todd Jennings and ran on. We began catching up w runners who left way before Ray, so he was happy.

The Marine Parkway Bridge. I HATE this bridge; it freaks me out. When I run over it by myself, I have to SPRINT AS FAST AS I CAN or I'm frightened like crazy. Ray couldn't sprint to save my sanity so instead he gripped my hand as I hyperventilated across the bridge.

The run along the Belt was very dark and sandy. Ah, Plum Beach where Wayne likes to go kite surfing. We ran a little with Michael and sometimes Shannon (who was experiencing extreme chafing problems...) and pacer Claudia.

And...into Sheepshead Bay. On the other side of the bridge was Mary Harvey, armed with cheddar penguins. We ran over to the beach where two guys rapping Eminem sent us into hysterics. We ran down the boardwalk, trying not to trip, looking at the amusement parks, the drunk people, the beach.

Let's not get lost....and through Brooklyn. Parks. So many parks. We sang a little, sometimes the same song, sometimes making up songs, sometimes we were all quiet and the songs just took place in my head.

4th avenue. I got in a shouting fight w a drunk jerk who ended up calling me "White bitch" (Seconds earlier I was sexy....I talk back and the tune changes....) and I was worried Ray would have to protect me after 80-something miles....

Last year, Ray had stopped here for a sit-down Chinese meal during the 100 miler. Mary kept pointing out every single Chinese place (all closed and shuttered at this early hour of the morning) to ask him if it was the one.

And on...and on....

Ray was feeling good. Strangely good for running as far as he had. We ran hard into the mile 95 aid station, and he drank some Coke and "let's go." We did. I had been pushing him earlier but now I didn't need to. He was pushing himself.

On the bridge, Ray complained abt the uphill...and THEN WE WERE FLYING DOWN! It was amazing. We picked up speed, and pushed, and pushed. I was so proud of him.

We ran faster. I looked at the directional sheet and then would catch up.

On Broadway...we counted down the streets...closer, closer, closer...and then...the finish line!

It was a beautiful experience to support a wonderful amazing friend - the stores we shared that night, the fun we had, the great running, the trouble we almost got into...and then we took a nap, like Ray K specializes in...