26 April 2014

Traprock 17k Race Report

While I really wanted to run the Traprock 50k, Ray told me it probably wasn't a good idea a week before Waramug. So I ran the 17k instead.

Steve and Kevin are great guys who I met running years ago at the West Hartford Reservoir. I love supporting their race, which is awesome - tough but fun course, great volunteers, nice aid stations, and pint glasses at the finish. The shirts were also great form-fitting tech long sleeved shirts with a nice design (which somehow is rare in ultrarunning). Yay, Steve and Goat!

I felt like an utter wimp as I arrived at the later 17k start; "I should be running the 50k," I muttered to myself. But I had Waramug a week later.

I was taking the run as a training run for Bear Mountain 50 Miler (in two short weeks, yay). I'm not a very good technical runner, so this would be good practice.

The course has a lot of rocks and roots and hills. There is a horrible section called "Stairway to Heaven" that is made up of a bunch of sometimes loose rock steps up way high. We all walked that in the back.

I ran happily. You start on a horrible uphill, and my asthma was on edge for the first few miles. I was cautious on the rocks, because I'm a terrible technical runner and a total wimp. Oh well.

I ran with an interesting guy who was training for a 100 mile paddleboard competition on the Hudson. I ended up picking up the pace at the aid station around mile 7 and lost him, sadly, because he was fun company. We were fascinating by what the other did (SUP and ultrarunner) so we chatted and asked questions and it was a nice time.

Around the mile 7 aid station, I finally felt like I was in my groove. It took a while. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh............I picked it up - and then, somehow, was finished.

I had a fun time, met some nice people, and when it was over, got to go to Wayne's sweet friend's house and meet their new baby (and take a shower).

Great course, great race, nice weather, so much fun!

17 April 2014

"It's not your fault, but let's punish you anyway."

I biked to work today; I'm lucky in that I have a pleasant ride, in bike lanes and parks and along or above the water. I got to work in a good mood.

The nice security guard at my job gestured toward the service elevator, and I crammed myself inside with some smiles at the workers going to various floors. They were nice and I'm sure admiring what a lovely bike I had.

When we got to the 10th floor, one of the construction workers in the elevator got out, and one of his passing colleagues said, "Nice helmet" in a sarcastic, obnoxious way. It is a nice helmet, and it's much better than having your skull cracked open and brains on the pavement.

"How obnoxious," I said to the elevator operator.

"Yep. That's why the construction workers take these elevators, and why we don't have the regular people in this building take the service elevators."

I got out on my floor, and as I wheeled my bike into the file room in my office, I thought, "Why do they have to do that? Why can't they just have the construction workers act in a respectful way instead of saying that they don't like having the office workers in the service elevators?"

Then I thought how our society does this - punishes the victim. "What were you wearing?" we ask the rapist. After I complained of sexual harassment, I was asked, "What did you say to him?"

Can we get to a point where the victim does not have to be punished - and the complete jerks are the ones who have to change their behaviors? 

13 April 2014

Hot, Hot, Hot

I started practicing yoga really young - in elementary school, I watched a yoga show on PBS. I hid in my room and did it along in secret, not sure why I was doing it in secret except it seemed weird. Then I got a book which I brought to school and showed everyone "Lion." I had a lot of fun with my practice when I was younger, but I wasn't really serious until I went to Naropa. To fulfill my contemplative requirement, I had to take a yoga class, and it was the best yoga class I ever took, the one that taught me what I love in a yoga class and what I need in a yoga class. For me, yoga is about the mind and the body, and is a spiritual practice. I love the cleansed feeling my body and mind have post-yoga. 

It's been a while since I practiced yoga. Before I started running ultras all the time, I practiced yoga 3-4 times a week. As I upped my mileage and my time in the gym, my yoga time decreased...and then my beloved yoga studio, Kusala, closed. I was really sad. I occasionally go to my gym, or another studio, or practice on my own, but not as much.

Last year, I hurt my wrist. Tendinitis meant any kind of pressure caused pain, so I stopped yoga. I tried, but it was just too hard, and painful. I was sad.

Wayne's back is completely messed up, and with a diagnosis in arthritis, I finally was able to convince him to go to yoga. Someone suggested hot yoga would be good, and since I've heard some negative things about bikram, we went to the hot yoga studio in Williamsburg, Yoga for the People.

The room was 105 F, but didn't feel that awful actually. You just dripped sweat the entire time, which was really lovely. The room had a sweaty stench that you quickly got used to.

I wasn't used to the style - the instructor was yelling, clapping, counting. It seemed more like a boot camp class at the gym than yoga. I felt like when I was breathing at my own pace, I was going to make her mad (I'm asthmatic and can never breathe as long as everyone else). Weird feeling to have in yoga.

Post-class, Wayne and I headed out to our bikes where the cool air (It was not really that cool, but felt AMAZING post-class) relaxed us. My ankle felt a little weird, and I remember reading that sometimes people stretch themselves too far in the heat and can hurt themselves. I drank a bunch of water, Wayne made us refreshing cocktails (St Germaine, gin, and grapefruit soda, anyone???), and we relaxed together - and for me, that was the best practice. Relaxing, doing things at your own pace, and feeling the peace.

07 April 2014

Umstead 100: Misery, Party, Blisters, Hallucinations of Jesus, and Sub 24 (though far from my goal)

 Umstead 100 is always a fun 100 miler. There are good friends, reunions, friendly volunteers, runnable course, Ray K, proximity to my sister, lots of runners, and so much fun. Of course you have to do it. Of course.
Tony is Da Man (photo by John Price)

I had a lot of trouble in the race. In fact, when I finished, I sat on the steps to the lodge bawling. "Why can't I just run a good race? Why is every race I run terrible?"

But it was fun. I spent time with good friends. We had great weather. I got to see my sister and super cute nephew. So it was a good race for those reasons.

Umstead is a great race because the course is great - fairly runnable, with some challenging hills. The weather is usually mild, in April for North Carolina, with usually pleasant race-day temps, though it can get cooler at night. The footing is good. There are port-a-potties twice on the 12.5 mile loop, and real bathrooms. There are two big aid stations with TONS of food, and a few smaller ones with limited amounts of food and Gatorade and water. It is a real fun party ultra, with great crowds and smiling folks. I love it. Also, it's ten minutes from my sister's house, which is even better! I had John Price crew me, and he's an amazing crew too, so everything was perfect.

Lap One
I began running with Tony, which was fun. We went out too fast - 1:55 for the first 12.5 miles. I didn't remember it being so hilly. We flew in and out of the aid stations, not stopping at any except the main HQ. We caught up on each others' lives and laughed and talked.

Lap Two
My tummy began hurting and I ran into the Port-a-Potty. Oh no, would this be a repeat of my first Umstead? Ugh. I ate chewable Immodiums at the aid station and washed it down with SNOWCONES. I love Umstead.

Lap Three
Tony and I began feeling somewhat crappy - my stomach, his legs felt dead. (He ran a 50 miler on sand two weeks prior.) We suffered and were quiet in our heads, chatting occasionally.

Hal Koerner was in the lead, and passed us. He was running up a hill - blasting it, actually - and Tony and I were walking. Tony yelled, "Good job," and I said, "Running? You're amazing. You're supposed to be walking it and complaining, like us!" He laughed.

(John Dennis also passed us, saying nothing more than screaming, "ON YOUR RIGHT" because he NEEDED that tangent. We moved over quickly for him.)

Lap Four
I was feeling better, and trying to swallow my gus. I ate poptarts when I could, and Tony was suffering a lot. I tried to cheer him up.

We were running on the flats in the hilly section after the second main aid station. It was Hal Koerner. I recognized him from behind. He was walking the flats. We stopped and walked up the hill with him. He told us he had a crazy week, and we chatted for a few  minutes. A really nice guy. We laughed when he said, "Didn't we meet here last lap?"

Running so fast I'm a blur (photo by John Price)
A bit before the aid station, I began running and Tony was still walking. We separated then, and Tony made it one more lap before leg cramping left him with a credit for 50 miles.

Laps Five and Six
Toast of gingerale (photo by Mary Shannon)

My pacer Carter Swampy met me. Carter is the nicest guy; we barely knew each other and now I adore him. We met at Croatan, and he offered to pace me. He paced for me two awesome laps, and we had a blast. He pushed me, let me set the pace, let me be ridiculous, told me entertaining stories, acted as my therapist, laughed, looked at my blisters, watched as I ate poptarts, and had fun - all while running or cursing at the hills.

My sister met us in the middle of lap five. It meant a lot to me; she had a baby three weeks ago and was recovering from surgery a week ago and couldn't walk far. We hung out for a few minutes, chatting, and she even brought my adorable nephew.

My headlamp stopped working. I hated gus. All food was awful. Drinking a normal amount sloshed in my stomach. My feet were hurting. My hamstrings, my hamstrings. That blister - the one I always get. OW.

Lap Seven
Kevin and his awesome fiancee Isa met me. They were incredible. They fed me, they made me run, they listened to me whine, they took care of me. I was miserable. My blisters sucked, it was dark, I was tired, and running sucks.

Lap Eight
Before lap eight, I hopped on Denise's massage table for a mini-massage. My legs felt better and Melissa began pacing me with a run-walk mixture. Unfortunately, my blisters felt like hell, worse, and my feet were so swollen I could only hobble. Misery. I was crying and wanted to stop. I wanted to curl up and nap. I hated everything. Everything. Melissa was telling me stories about deer attacking people and I was wondering if one would do that to me.

At the second big aid station, I had them pop my blisters. It took time, but now I was able to run again. They also gave me a cute throw-away fleece, and I felt warm. Melissa and I ran to the finish.

I sat on the steps and cried. What a disappointment. I trained so hard and to fall apart? Do I just not have it? Is the end just too difficult? Should I stick with 50 milers? Do I need to run in bigger shoes? Should I amputate my little toe? Am I too slow? Should I stick to roads? Am I crazy for doing this?

I don't know. I love ultrarunning. I am hungering for a good race, for a PR, for a race where I know I ran my best. It's been a while, but I'm hoping I'll have that soon.

Even if I didn't run my best, I know I did all I could do. I ran sub 24, which is still quite good. I need to talk to my podiatrist about my recurring blister on my pinky toe, eat more sweets, and figure out my tummy. Life is good. Umstead was fun. I finished, and running is almost always a blissful, beautiful thing.

02 April 2014

Ladies First in this Half!

Hello, the logo was a version of Rosie the Riveter? Hell yes, this hardcore feminist is signing up.

NYC Runs was putting on another half-marathon on my PR course, Shore Road: the women-only Ladies First Half Marathon! This is not the best course to run in cooler temps – it can be windy, cold, and the waves tend to splash up on the course on windy days. A week before Umstead 100, run a half? Why not. I wouldn’t race it hardcore, but have fun.

Unfortunately, my hamstring began hurting. PT on Thursday, a suggestion to go back to my old sneakers, and advice to tape on both sides were taken. I decided to scale my goals back….and run slow.

I ran easy, chatting w strangers. I felt good, and did not wear a  Garmin – who knows my time? My main goal was to not hurt myself more, and to run under 2 hours. I did both.

It was pouring on the flat double out-and-back course. It felt colder than it was, because it was windy and raining. I wore many layers, but didn’t regret.

The last few miles, I slowed down, having to go to the bathroom and feeling crappy. I pushed, saw 1:58, and happily accepted my most-feminist medal ever. I ate some of the fab NYC Runs post-race fare, hopped on a bus to a train to another train to home for a very hot bath and pumpkin pancakes.

01 April 2014

K Tape Confusion

I always thought ktape was stupid BS. I thought the same thing about chiropractors, until my doctor had me go to one for my migraines and after I saw him, I didn't get a migraine for three or four months. I changed my mind the same way about the ktape. 

When I went to Burning Man with an injured wrist, I didn't want to destroy my nice wrist brace. With Wayne promising to do all the heavy lifting, I left my brace in the car and wore tape all week.

And discovered my wrist felt better.

Perhaps it was a combination of things, but I hadn't felt so good in ages. I'm a fan more of the Kinesio Tex Classic than the Pro (I find the pro tends to peel off much quicker and I often don't want the exact size they have picked), but I find it to be great. Yes, when running races, they tend to peel off, but right now it's Tuesday and I'm wearing the same tape I put on Saturday. And I think it will go kicking a few more days.

I was walking down the street with Dite, having an intense conversation, when someone woman grabbed me. She hissed and I said, "What?" wondering what she wanted.

"You have something down your leg."

I immediately thought, "Blood," but I don't have my period. I saw nothing on my beige and gold-flecked tights.

"I don't know, I think I'm fine."

"No, no you're not. You have something."

Still, I saw nothing. But this woman wouldn't let me walk. She hissed, "Something fell...maybe a 'light days pantiliner. Fell down your leg."

And then I realized she could see the kt-tape through my tights...

"Oh, that? That's just tape to support my hamstring. Nothing to worry about."