Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Change of Plan

Finish Line!
I am not a super human. I clearly spent all my mental toughness and physical speed the week before at Ragnar DC. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

Not every race is going to be a PR and filled with awesome self accomplishment. I was so looking forward to running in the Traverse City Lighthouse Half Marathon with my run buddy, Evie and my husband—helping them break 2 hours or come close to it. However, I had my doubts of being able to hold a 9-minute pace going into this. I had been tired all week to say the least. Recovery is tough after Ragnar with early plane flight thrown in.

Arriving in the dark at 6 a.m. to ensure we didn't miss our bus to the start line, we threw on our warmer clothes to discard right before the race. I have a special bag of frumpy fat clothes and maternity wear just for this occasion.  Items are picked-up and donated, so this makes sense and we don't have to lug them around.
Waiting at the Lighthouse in our toss-it coverups.

But this Lighthouse run sucketh for the first 5 miles with poor breathing, tightening in my chest
My funny run buddy on the bus behind us:
Scrunchy Face!
and my left leg extremely aching for the first 3 miles until I drowned it out of my head. Then it just kept crying anyways. The course was hilly with a few miles of two-track and I just couldn't muster up the speed. My run buddy later pointed out that the date on my shoes was her birthday in June. DANG-it! I just ran in over-the-hill shoes. What a stupid mistake.

After mile 6, I said forget it! This just wasn't fun at all. I turned off my tunes, started talking more and changed the plan. Evie wasn't lov'n this run either and was coming off of being sick the previous week. We stopped pushing and started enjoying the views and journey more.

At mile 11, my husband realized that these two ladies were holding him back with their chatter and he took off to finish 5 minutes ahead of us. He later said he felt like he had nothing left in that last half mile to the finish line. Hmmm, too much speed at once.

Evie and I finished at 2:14. It is what it is and my leg was grateful to be done.

My husband is already sign-up for his next half at Bay Shore to break 2 hours. Totally doable since he trains faster than I do.

Post Race Assessment:
What I have gone through since is a series of painful leg episodes extending to a burning under my knee. I have completely stop cross training and took some time off of running hoping it would heal. After xrays, a doctor said is was a sprain. That was two months ago.

I had shoe orthotics made and have been foam rolling, stretching and strength training with one leg squats but need to add to that. Lots of pushups being done to build upper body. But without a lot of cardio, I think I may have a hard climb this year.

I am just starting in with low miles right now and still get that strained ache and pain. The treadmill seems to be a little better. I miss my run buddy. We have had (2) 5-8 mile runs in the last two months. Come back 41 sounds too negative. I need to position this as a positive in some form. Maybe 41 and and gonna run.

I may still go in for an MRI and PT.  I have even thought that it could be a nerve issue. Maybe a Chiropractor is needed? I just don't feel like me without my constant fitness drive. An 8 minute mile looks more like a dream right now.

All of my drive has been poured into work in the last couple months … hey, didn't I once say that was kryptonite?! Yes, weight gain has happened. Time to Focus. Drive. And get this leg hell taken care of.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ragnar Relay: BadAss Mother Runners

What a ride this life can be when first you practice to run free.

Being on Team Sarah was both a privilege and a highlight to my running hobby and completed my Rock40 running party. 

Taking the trip to Washington DC was a leap out of my comfort zone. I have not traveled alone in about 17 years and trips with the family are but once a year for this country mouse. I hate traffic! I am use to two lanes on a road, and I may see 5 cars on a 10 mile run. It's just the way I like it, but for a grand adventure this mouse needed to leave the house.

After all the careful planning through Facebook with the Ragnar group and one amazing AMR assistant, Kristen, I felt comfortable in this journey. My itinerary was planned from my 6 a.m. departure from a nearby airport on Thursday, to my 6 a.m. departure from D.C. on Sunday morning. I was hoping to get just a few hours sleep on Saturday night because we had no idea when we would finish. 

I packed light with two carry-ons stuffed with Ragnar safety essentials like a night vest and headlamp, as well as the wealth of sponsor gifts we each received: the BAMRR (BadAss Mother Ragnar Runner) shirt, BAMR shirt (Team Sarah's name), 110% Socks, Ultimate Direction water bottle, Saucony shirt, capri and shoes. We also had received Nuttzo (which is long gone and I have purchased 7 more since) NUUN, Calms Forte and Skinfare.

In the bottom of my bag I flattened 24 pink pom-poms to cheer on our teammates and other teams. Some day I am going to run with pom poms. It wouldn't be this run, but just you wait. I am laying it on the table. I can't believe my bag fit under the seat, let alone that it even zipped, but it did! See, I really don't travel enough.

Upon arrival in D.C. at 9:00 a.m. I was eating my first 5-Guys burger and fresh cut fries as recommended by the Dulless airport information guy. I made that burger look so good that more people flocked the joint creating a line, and one lady said after she saw me there, that it looked too good to pass up. Was I moaning out loud? Sorry about that.

I proceeded to the lower level where we were meeting for our van pick-up with Dimity to drive to Cumberland, Maryland. We had to back-track to the start of the race which was ending in D.C. I had worn my Sole Sister shirt to be recognized and a really sweet mama named Janelle approached me in her AMR shirt and giant suite case and bag (um-maybe I under packed a little). We chatted for an hour or so and although she has lived about everywhere in the USA, she currently lives in Texas. I have to say, I don't know why she doesn't get told all the time that she looks like Kelly Clarkston.

We then caught up with a few more teammates as we waited. The excitement rose again when Dimity arrived. Woop woop! Here we go. 

The instant comradery surprised me. I thought it would be there as it was already online and in facebook. But the real thing FEELS amazing. I have never met so many people at once that I could instantly connect with. We just clicked and it felt like distance was the only thing that had separated this sisterhood. I had told my husband back in May that I really had a few things already in common with these ladies and that they really were not strangers at all. I was glad I was right. The adventures of Renee and Lorraine cracked me up on the van ride and thru dinner. These two friends know how to have a great time. My cheeks hurt from the cackling.

So many of these ladies came with the sweetest gifts created from their talents. Nicole from Team Dimity is an amazing quilter and gave us each a Ragnar personalized zip bag. Rebecca brought customized cookies for each of us. She is an Architect and these cookies are just something she does for fun. We have spent months talking about eating her cookies. Aimee brought a CD recently released with her singing talents. Terri brought BAMRR stickers she created to stand the test of time—meaning once they stick they are not coming off. Bethany shared a copy of a book, I Just Want to Pee Alone, that she is published in for her humorous, raw but articulate, honest views of motherhood. Check out her blog at http://bethanymeyer.com. I know she makes me feel much more sane.

Food Glorious Food
In a cookie monster voice..."Me like to eat things!" Put 24 mother runners together and we have one big slumber party. After we each ate a family sized dinner … I mean dinner served in family style with large portions passed around, we went for some frozen custard. I will be thinking about that chocolate malt with lust for years to come. Many food stops were made during the race even though our vans we stocked. Must have coffee and Chipotle!

The Race Details
Meeting back in Dimity's room we went through a quick debriefing on how Ragnar is ran and what to expect in the next 45 hours. I hadn't known that the team of 12 really becomes a team of 6 since the vans split, and I would only see the other half of the team at the 3 major exchanges—after all 6 of van one ran their leg. Luckily, I had a great, open-minded, supportive, funny and fabulous group of runners to be in a van with for 30+ hours. We beat the same jokes non-stop. 

Completely open minded and looking forward to running one badass hill that really did seem to go on forever. My roomie and van mate, Nicole, and I had discussed running Ragnar as an ultra race some time. Which sounds really great BEFORE the hill. During it how ever, I felt like that was the dumbest idea ever, HA!

I didn’t know how I would keep the expected pace on this one. I felt like I was running stupid, but how else would I make it up the climb in a decent time if I didn't run it. I went a little off course adding .40 miles to my total, but zipped back to take two kills on this endless climb. Both of those people broke into a walk after a long climb together with the guy outlasting the other woman. I just kept talking myself up in my head. "Gonna walk? Hell no! I'm an ultra runner. And...with my luck my team will drive by if I dare walk right now."  It was the battle I was looking for that went on through steep gravel hills that turned to thick dust as vans went by, and where I found my mojo and the right moments to strut a fast climbing walk.  

Then I found the downhill moments to make up time. The declines went fast and had many sharper uneven rocks. All I could think of was that someone is going to get hurt here today. 

As I approached the team doing a little dance, I started yelling, “where is she?” Sarah was busy and not in sight. I later heard she may have been serenading another van. Oh well, she seemed to have popped out of no where just when I hit the exchange. She wasn't quite ready but hit the ground running. I was 7 minutes under the predicted time. My reward was the extra metal belt buckle for taking the hardest leg of the race. And more importantly, that man I had battled on the uphill pavement came up to say good job and high five me, and tell me he had been trying to catch me the entire time since I passed him.

Okay, Ultra Ragnar is sounding pretty good again. Who’s with me?

Just a little disclaimer before you think the rest of this course is flat. Everyone will have some hills and get a beatdown. The total mileage for each person on a 12 person team is 13.4 to 21.9 miles. Train, and you will be just fine.

The rest of the race went flawlessly for the most part and was just one grand adventure of laughing and women keeping it light. Sarah was showered with fans … even to the point of being recognized in the community shower … naked. I took my spot further away and at least could turn away to silently laugh in my corner. It takes a certain kind of guts I just don't have or want to have to approach someone in the shower… naked. I wouldn't walk up to anyone in the shower and have a conversion with them. Hats and clothes off to this woman.

My final leg I had the best 3.4 miles of my life. I pushed thru the heat, humidity and had 2 complete stops at lights with narrowly escaping being hit by a car not stopping. I will remember that Corvette front end for a long time. 

Never running a 5k before, I just didn't want to let go of any speed when I didn't have a light. Plus, I came to pour it on. I past 4 people who looked like they were ready to croak. I was elated after seeing that I did it in 27 minutes and had one mile in there of 8:03. Now that deserves a pompom. 

3 Things I learned and should have known better:
1) Always pack a shirt and pair of shorts for each leg and another shirt for in-between legs
2) Pack a towel (you never know when you may get  to shower)
3) I should not be the one driving at night—do not allow hanging clothing over a mirror that you need to see out of while driving. Holy shit batman. Sorry ladies.
Bonus: Have a strong navigator like Terri. Or, getting lost could be fun too.

On a final note, if you ever have an opportunity to run a Ragnar relay with 6-24 strangers or enter a contest to run with Another Mother Runner … DO IT! Don't walk—RUN to register. These races are designed for any running level, granted you are actually a runner. Keep an open mind and stress free, and you will have the makings for a great experience. Don't be surprised when you feel like your universe has changed and that there was nothing else before Ragnar, except when you call home to check of your husband and kids. Live in the moment. There is already a BAMR Ragnar reunion planned for some of these ladies. I will be running a marathon at that time. So that takes me out of that mix.

Below are some of my favorite highlights in photos. Sorry, no shower photos here.

Check out this video for a glimpse of the 2013 Ragnar DC Relay Mother Runner Showdown 
set to an original song by Aimee Hoyt.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Ultra Ultimate 50 Miler Trail Run: North Country Trail Run 2013

My world in motion as taken by my 5 year old right after 50 miles. No it isn't glamorous, but it's real.
My heart went boom, Boom, BOOM…

It's probably going to take me several attempts to write about this 50 Mile Ultra experience. Forgive me of my sappiness, but I don't think I will ever think of a race event the same way or measure one up to the standards of where my heart and mind met on the course of 50 miles.

If you had told 4 years ago when I started running, that I would run a marathon, I would have thought you were out of your mind. Each step changed me day by day. If you would have also told me that one day I would run a 50mile Trail Ultra, I would have thought you needed a good psychiatrist immediately.

I started training 9 months ago and had been waiting for the day to hit that trail race and touch down on my dream. While many people just thought it was nuts and had negative opinions and stated questions of, "Who would want to do that?!" or "How are YOU going to do that in under 14 hours?", I grew more and more in love with the coming adventure with each hard workout, long run, and with each review of ultra runner blogs, videos and interviews. The build up was huge, and it delivered everything and more than I imagined. I am fortunate to have a kindred spirit in my run buddy that shares my passion. Definitely divine intervention there.

That's a lot of gear! Drop box ready and everything else I carried.
I ended up not needing my box
I prepped my gear a week ahead, I didn't really feel that nervous. I just wanted this day to come. The major tapering was awkward. The night before the race I could not sleep. For the first time ever, I had insomnia. I slept 1 hour. I wish I was kidding. I decided that this lack of sleep thing should be ignored. Being a mother, wife and business owner, I have ran many great runs on 3-4 hours sleep. What's a couple less?

Come hell or high-water, I am an Ultra Runner. And my tunes were ready to go—one ear in and one ear listening to the trail and other runners.

As we set off on our first loop of a two loop course, we kept tight with mid-back of the pack runners. Nothing would be sillier than going out too fast before that second half of the loop with the steep hills. I followed everything that I had been told and read about ultra running. Walk the hills—every hill. Walk it with purpose. I was walking up smaller hills while others were running at the same speed. Yeah! That worked!

I took advantage of the down hill runs.We just wanted to finish under the 14 hour mark before the course was swept. Yes, were were worried about that since the book Relentlessly Forward Progress predicted a 50 mile trail time of 13+ hours. That isn't much wiggle room for aid station and any issue on this course with hills, roots, rocks and a narrow path. The down hill was crucial in gaining time. I found myself exhilerated on the down hill and digging into the uphill with ease. All those hill repeats and core training were empowering me this day. I went into these hills waiting for the pain and expecting it to rise up and rip me. My run buddy asked me about any pain about mile 20. I had nothing but typical aches. Injury pain in the past had made any aches feel like nothing. It just may have felt that way since we were on trail and not pavement—a bonus I accepted.

Aid stations were stocked with sandwiches (PB&J and grilled cheese), GU, fresh fruit, noodle soup and drinks. I even had coke for the first time in maybe years. Delicious. Literally running from one buffet to the next keeps the mind and palette happy. My buddy's parents and sister were at more that half of the aid stations to cheer and assist us. Really, an amazing crew. I didn't know about the rewards of a cold shammy on my neck until then—see still learning things.

I was talking with several lady runners and had to let them go to wait for my run buddy. They were going for 10:30 time and I thought that was out of reach for me anyways. I let the same people go by a couple times while I waited for my run buddy. I even tried to take a few photos and should have taken more. We were making pretty good time regardless and I just wanted to enjoy the forest and the run.

The view at mile 24.
It felt like we were heading into different fairylands worlds with the trees, bushes, color and lighting completely changing as we went. One area even looked like a hazy fog. The beautiful moments assisted in letting the time and miles tick by. I also used my run to pray gratitude for the moment, journey and faith. At mile 24 there was a steep sandy climb for a breathtaking view. Photo time—we asked one of the Marathon runners to snap some photos of us. That's right, she was not in a hurry and I had been talking to her on some of the trail. Thank you kind runner.

First loop done at about 5:40. Shazam! We are in this and just needed to bring it home on the second loop.

My buddy had a pacer step in at mile 26 and I found myself still pulling ahead. My quads started to ache a lot more about mile 27. I knew what may be coming so I kept them moving and pulled away further and then I didn't see them anymore. The pain hurt less as long as I kept swiftly moving and biting into it one step at a time—well, it felt more swift in my world at that moment. I didn't just stand at any more aid stations to prevent my legs from freezing up. I ate and kept moving my legs. I probably looked like I was doing a pee pee dance.

"Faith over fear, faith over fear." echoed in my thoughts. I had to have faith that I could keep this pace and ignore the quad banging pain. I thought of an Another Mother Runner podcast that they read part of the book by Katherine Switzer, where she said this statement before crushing the marathon course when women were deamed as being too WEAK to run marathons. She said, "I am going to run the HELL out of this race," and she did. My game changed and I decided to see what I could do in this race on this day—what faith could do. Just keep eating and drinking to avoid a real wall and run the hell out of 20 plus miles.

I was surprised that some people didn't even carry a water bottle. I can not imagine doing that. One young man was struggling getting station to station to hydrate. I filled my Camelbak three times and drank the cups of liquid joy at each aid station.

I didn't see many people on the trail on this second loop, but when I did I either respectfully paced behind them a bit or swiftly passed if they just were not moving the same speed. Most often we would look at each other and say "good job."People wer dragging limbs a little more and looking like they were doing the ultra-shuffle. I told two struggling woman on the half course that they were doing awesome, because I ran that course last year and it's a beast.

I started passing people I had seen earlier in the day and even the same two ladies I had been talking to with the 10:30 goal. That was a surprise. I guess keeping it cool that first loop paid-off, and I honestly don't know what came over me to just keep moving. Interestingly, my breathing changed. I am a mouth breather and I have asthma, but switched to breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. OMG! It was the Scott Jurek 's Breath of Fire. I have never been able to do this but is was working efficiently and naturally.

In the last three miles I stopped at the aid station for some fruit and more coke, and gave the volunteer a "hallelujah!" when he told me there were three more miles. I finally caught up to two 30 something year old guys that I hadn't seen since mile 10. They were surprised to see me and the stunned looks on their faces … priceless. To keep my mojo going I took off again in front of them while they were still eating. Beat the boys was on my mind. I just couldn't help myself. Yep, that girl was here today.

On the steep hill before the last aid station (one mile to go), I took my one and only flying dirt nap. My time had come! It was like sliding down hill into home plate. I scooped black dirt into my bra and shirt and the dirt was stuck to my entire sweaty body like a mud mask. It hurt, but I had no time to assess the damage or even notice the big gouge in my finger from my wedding ring. My right hand throbbed, but it wasn't like a broken finger was going to stop me now. I jumped backed up because I could not let the boys pass me. I kept hearing their voices in the woods. Or maybe I was hearing things. HA!

Last mile: On the last hill incline to the viewing area I heard the two boys coming behind me as I reach the top of the hill. No time for photos now. It was on, and all I had to do was execute the last long hill down and get to the finish line. No falling, go hard, and do it one more time so there was no way they could catch me.  I ran as fast as I could down and around the corner and then down again to the flat area with all the speed I had. I passed one more guy casually coming in. I had joy the entire way and the crowd screaming (what was left at this point) just made me go faster. My husband and the crew jumped up as I was running by. Later my husband said he didn't think it was me coming because I was running too fast and I don't run that fast. Humph. Kind of funny, because race day is the only day I put it all out there and quite honestly... I don't know why I could run that fast at the end of 50 miles either. A group of college kids were at the finish line to hoot, holler, and high-five the runners in. I leaped threw the finish like there were flames. Touch down on an Ultra dream! Not the X jump I had wanted but I never really practiced that either.

I finished my first 50 Ultra in 11:17. 5th in my age and only separated by 11 minutes from the second place runner. That's close for a 50 miler in my opinion and I couldn't be more pleased.

A little later in the food line one of those male runners I had past in the last three miles told me that they had seen me throughout the day, and when I past it kind of ticked him off. Then he justified it by saying it was his first Ultra. Well, me too buddy and it took me 22 miles to catch you. I earned it! I was actually a little caught off guard by his statement. I would have liked to have said something like, "You got chiced by a 40 year old mama," but I will save that for a shirt.

Right after Evie Ultra finishes.
I finished almost a full hour ahead of my buddy who also slaughtered the time cut-off by an hour and a half. I was there to see her come through the finish line and own her dream. What an honor and it was an emotional moment for both of us.

It was surreal that I never hit a mental low point. This was the day I was waiting for and trained for with anticipation—with a celebration run and completely focused. It was just my day to drive. YES!

Finished with Heart just like the medal states.
And every day we train with heart as well. Blessed am I.

My Ultra loves.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mental Gear

As I start to get ready for the North Country Ultra 50, I am packing gear and thinking about all the things I may need and cross-checking with various lists for reference.

I also am loading my mind with what I think I may need as mental fuel and the exact thoughts I may need to pull up WHEN I struggle. It's going to be a bear, so I can not go into this with an empty mind.

Middle: My Grandmother Ruth laughing
with relatives. Her loving spirit was passed on
thru my mother. 
Mental Gear 1
I don't fall into the mindset of running a race for someone else.That always sounds silly to me since I can't make the connecting to how my run will help them unless it is for a charity or raising awareness for an actual cause by wearing a shirt or something. Plus, running is a personal experience for me pulling inner strength. It's like saying "run this for Charlie." Just sounds funny to me. Although, moments of strength can be pulled out from powerful thoughts, and the power of others. That I do know about. I make some sort of connection and I can push harder. One thought that has lingered around is in the most unlikely of places. I think of my grandmother that I never met. She died of cancer when my mother was 14. How incredably painful it must have been for my mother at 14. She has not talked much about this until recently, and I have to say it brings me to tears. Not only because I am a mother and can't imagine how hard that would have been to leave my children, but because of how hard my children would grieve a life time. Strange enough, is that my mother was just saying the other day that "we get over things and move on" and then she had a break down when she found her own lump in her breast. She thought of her mother and grieved again. Luckily, my mother's lump was not cancer.

I don't think we do get over all things and events and I don't think we are suppose to. Part of us never does move on when our world is pulled from beneath us. Years can pass and then there we are stumbling on a root and we remember like it was last week or last month. And so I know that one thought will be included on the trail: If my mother can loose her mother at 14 and deal with all that pain, then I can certainly run 50 miles on a trail. If my grandmother can hold on for two years and loose everything that mattered, I can certainly run 50 miles on a trail.

Mental Gear 2
Another heavily relied on aid will be my music. With one ear tuned-in to my ipod and one with nature, I will be pumping my head with 9 hours of power music and listening to what anyone has to say on the trail, especially Evie Ultra. I will just have to reshuffle when the tunes run out. That's all I have time for. Over the last few months I have played many songs over and over that pick me up and kick me in the can, and I feel like a warrior at moments. I just hope I have many of those moments this Saturday. Oh, my not so good friend, Fear just stopped by.

I have replayed a few beats many times in hill repeats Including Grace Potter & the Nocturnals: The Lion, The Beast, The Beat and Orianthi: You Don't Wanna Know. Check them out, because these women rock.

A few others chic power tunes from my 9 hour mix include:
Katy Perry: Roar
Natalie Kills: Brake You Hard
Ellie Goulding: Burn
Krewella: Alive
Krewella: Come & Get It
Kellie Pickler: Tough

Off to pack up my Focused Drive of taking on a 50mile Ultra. I have been looking forward to this day for 9 months...time to birth this mother. 

Monday, August 12, 2013


You ever have one of those days that you really need a workout because somebody was so mean or nasty to you? Or maybe something is in the news that is so disturbing, you just can't shake it? I have had many fastest runs fueled by hurt, anger and my own mental trap. Today I really need a hard run, but unlucky for me I already ran and am in a taper or I would run again!

Although the run doesn't solve the issue, it sure wears me out to where I can stop thinking about it,  release some tension, or maybe make the issue seem like not such an issue anymore. Hitting a new PR doesn't hurt either.

Recovery is literally just over that hill, but not today.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

31+ (miles baby!)

For the record, our (Evie Ultra and my) longest run is done and in the books or partially in the Garmin. All that is left is a couple more longish runs, a short taper, keeping up with cross training and packing my drop bag.

Preparing for our long run I drove the course and dropped 2 frozen 2-liter bottles filled with NUUN for refilling our packs at mile 14 and 24. Besides packing all the usual GUs, pickle juice and salt tablets, I prepared 2 grilled cheese sandwiches before we set out. These sandwiches were...awesome! I can't believe it took me so long to try this. I cut them into quarters to make them easier to eat. For the first time I wasn't completely hungry out there and having food fantasies.

I also wore all my clothes that I will be wearing in the ultra. I don't need any wardrobe malfunction surprises.

After mile 26 Evie announced that I was officially an ultra runner. I told her not until I was at 31. I felt like Rainman, "31 mile, 31 miles, the number has to be 31. 31 miles…" When I did cross over 31 miles, I felt a giggly sensation. I actually couldn't quit laughing. I have no idea what was funny. I am hoping 50 is just as hilarious.

The magic is that I absolutely do not feel burned out on running. I went on with my day with my family like I hadn't ran anything more than 14 that day. And even went to dinner with my husband. Evie went to work waiting tables that night just like she has done after every training run. I just have to say that I am not sure I could pull that off. WOW Evie Ultra, you are so ready for this!

Sunday, I was very tired. A nap was in order for me. A bonus that the entire family seemed tired and I snuggled with my daughter mid-afternoon.

My Garmin did die at 30 miles with the time of 6:05. I have finally broken down and ordered a new Garmin. Mine has been on the fritz since it was about 9-months old and I have a feeling THAT is why it is discontinued. It beeps non-stop and continually shifts screens at the sign of moisture (rain and sweat) until the battery dies. I have manually re-booted the watch when it freezes while charging at times. Nothing like getting up at 5am and finding out the charging Garmin is frozen and useless. It took issues with my iPod Nano to figure out that I could re-boot this Garmin. The battery never did last 8hrs as advertised. I did contact Garmin about the many issues, including that it would not sync correctly online. There were no answers. So I was not surprised when this model was discontinued a year after it was released.

The due date is coming, the work is done, and it's soon time to birth this 50mile Ultra in just 24 days.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What's Under the Hood?

I think of runners like cars. Just by looking, one can't tell what is under the hood. Yet there is still a broad judgement made by appearance—mostly by people that are non-runners. One can have a rusted-out beaten truck packing a roaring, powerful engine. Or, a sleek exterior that rumbles quietly, with no get up and go (or worse, runs out of gas at an intersection!). And this is one of the reasons I train and enjoy people watching on race day. Some of the warm-ups, well... It's like a strange spoof of So You Think You Can Dance. I do feel for those who have been injured and need to warm-up and stretch well. I am not talking about that routine. Maybe I am just not serious enough. But I had to look away at a recent 15k when witnessing the dance routines of one woman—who I was afraid was going to biff it on asphalt, followed by boys talking smack about their speed and my husband thought one of them looked like a girl. Yep, he was pretty with a nice head band alright. To each their own.

Sure, some people look fit or like thin sprinters and they are, but one can not tell the speed and endurance of the majority of runners—the normal people—at these races just by the outside presentation. I will never—oops I said never—be that skin and muscle on bone sprinter. I work with the genetics I have. But, what I can change is the conditioning of my engine from the inside. And that is golden.

I am very proud of my husband who says that I inspired him to start running a few months ago. He ran his first race—a 15k—with me two weeks ago. It was the first time he had reached that distance. I knew he was ready and had been consistently running 2-6 miles 3xs a week for a couple months and had been working out for a few years. He knew he was beyong a 5k and was looking at a 10k. But I figured he should run both at the same time...HA! It was time for him to experience the thrill of the event from the inside of the track. It was a great experience to pace him and pull him back when I felt he was going too fast with a huge hill coming at mile 5. Something happens in a race where people just get excited and go too fast in the start and run out of gas at some point. We ran that hill passing many who started walking. The rest of the run clicked on by, although my husband was wishing he was on his last lap on mile 7. A race in July is going to be HOT and that adds the possibility of over-heating. Not to mention the mental barrier, if one has never ran this far before. For the most part, we had an enjoyable run and I have a photo to prove it. On the last stretch, which is about 4 blocks on a parade route, he asked where the finishline was. When I told him it was at the end of the street, his response was "Oh God!" It was hot, he was hurting and he just wanted it over. Yet, in the last block he still found the strength to sprint and leave me 8 seconds behind. To his credit, he did ask for me to come with him, but my engine doesn't go under 8-minute miles at the end of any run. I told him to just go. I have no problem with him or other people getting the race experience they want.

I didn't feel like I was "racing" the 15k and was running happy.Yet, I had another PR by 6 whole minutes. With a few people hurly on the course—that's right, barfing—and at least one running into a fence at the end, I feel pretty good about that PR and this smooth ride.

Just what is roaring under my hood? My Ultra training has made me faster, stronger and running smarter. Yet my exterior, just doesn't show it, which I think I could change that by weight lifting and less cardio....but I am a runner after all. I have set 4 personal records this year—out of the 4 races I have ran. So I have to think, and not to sound cocky, that I know what I am doing. A rest day to me, has become a day that I workout just once. That's right.

A look at my weekly training plan:

I have had some lurking injuries that have pulled me back in spacing my tough hill repeats to the beginning of the week, so the long runs don't end with injury—part of running smarter. 30 repeats is grueling. That's on today's schedule with Insanity. Off for today's double workout!

Time for me to focus and drive.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding My Happy Pace...

I never thought I would run below 9 minute miles, and am still in awe that I did it and did it for 13.1.  For someone who started running so slow and so late in life, it just feels magical to me. I feel like I have nothing left when I finish and can't imagine finding more, but I do. What an awesome journey to become better than I was yesterday.

Another PR in my Rock40 year: 1:55.03. A 3.5 minute PR. Breaking 2 hours was such a feat in March and it didn't come easy. I remember how it felt to push so hard and demand more than I had ever put out there and to believe without seeing it. And yet, I did it again two weekends ago with less angst. (Sorry, it took me a while to post this one.) Sure I have trained a few more months now, but I have not been doing much speed work. Actually, I can count the days I feel speedy on one hand and it isn't planned. So my speed and strength is coming from my cross training, which I will go into on another post.

I had all the mental strength I needed. I have been experiencing some lower leg pain and decided to base whether I was going to run this one for enjoyment—run casual—or "race it" on how my leg was feeling the morning of. If it started hurting, I needed to pull back. 8:50 would be my finishing average goal pace, in which I had to take in account the slop out and incline coming back.  That is 13 seconds per mile faster than my last PR in March. I was a little worried in the beginning thinking that I just wasn't feeling it and already pulling out the tough love. But it worked. Faith over fear. Choose faith. And to those that say I cannot, watch me!!

I kept watch of my pace mile after mile and knew I was still in it. I looked for a good pacer person and found myself passing people that seemed strong for a while but I had to stay on track. I found one veteran runner that was running strong in the second half and focussed on his hat. Yes, my pacer at last.
Chasing him down was rough. I felt like laughing at one moment, because I felt like he just might kill me and the wheels may come off this bus. He slowed in the last 2 miles so I left him and went on. I couldn't let go.

In the last mile I thought of one of my power songs that wasn't even playing on my iPod. You must be willing to bleed and I was. You have to want it more I told myself, and I did. I passed quite a few people in those last couple of miles that had ran out of gas. I actually was willing to puke. I felt ill going around a corner. I even looked at the roadside and thought about how much time that would cost me. Luckily pushing thru it, it passed.

8:47/8:27/9:01/8:57/8:52/8:22/8:33/9:12/8:49/8:29/8:40/8:56/8:31/8:19 last .25
Mama has some powerful legs. Look at all the boys behind me!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ragnar Repeats, Oh My!

I don't know how this Rock 40 party can get any sweeter... well it just did since I have WON a spot on the Sarah Shea Ragnar Relay Team in Washington DC this October!! If you are not familiar with Sarah Shea and Dimity McDowell, you are missing out on a lot of laughs, some tears and a whole lot of motivation. They are the authors of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother, bloggers and podcast producers for Another Mother Runner and write for numerous publications including Runners World.
They have a facebook tribe of more than 30,000 and that is originally how I found them.

This year they ran a contest giving away 24 spots on their relay teams for Ragnar. Ragnar is a 196 mile relay race = two days. All I had to do was submit some form of entry to convince them to pick me for their team. After much thought and a few hours behind the screen I came up with my submission.

Winning is a thrill and I am excited for this adventure. I admit, that I dislike traveling and sitting...okay I detest it with a passion. But this is one experience I gotta have. There will not be another chance at this. Below is my submission that I based my "Finding Strong" comp on afterwards.

How strong am I? 20 Ragnar Repeats currently strong!

When I pleaded the importance of this race to my husband he changed his own mindset from, "you're nuts!" to getting it. Yep, love that man. I will be with 24 women that I already have a lot in common with, yet are strangers...and will obviously get to know them. That is my kind of event. Life is for living.

All I can add is that my little running hobby is taking me places and I intend to soak up every moment and opportunity. Find your Focused Drive and floor it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Running Authentic

I know this is one long race report. But this one deserves it.

What can I say about a marathon journey except to expect the unexpected and roll with it in the most positive manner possible. That is my goal every time. I surprise yourself with my willingness to shift course, which brings an unexpected well-worth journey. There is a challenge around every corner. I think that is why I love marathons and I really love the Bayshore marathon in Traverse City. Besides being only a 35 minute drive for me, the course is fast and beautiful and the crowd is enthusiastic and kept meeting us at different points along the course by the bus load. My run buddy, Evie, and I decided to go for 4:17 PR and I was the pace master to keep us going. This would mean a 15 minute PR for me and a 21 PR for her. The McMillian calculator said we could do it faster. So I thought this was "playing it safe" as well as a challenge. We knew that things could change mid-race and were prepared to accept what ever came.

Medals are not for eating, but we had to try it one more time.
We wore matching "Sole-Sister" shirts from Another Mother Runner and Fellow Flowers for running in our hair. I wore the orange flower and I just realized that it was assigned this by the maker: The Original. Bold Honoring the journey of friendship. Fiercely United...To cherish, to protect always.

Wow. How true it was this day.

It was awesome to have the crowd yelling "Go Sole-Sisters" throughout the course. And slapping free high-fives is always a charge for me.

At the coral line-up, we ran into a friend of Evie's who was running her first marathon and she decided to join us for the race. She was extremely talkative and we enjoyed her company for the first eight miles and then we lost her at a rest stop and she rejoined us mile 15. I loved her enthusiasm and that she was  into slapping high-fives with the crowd with me. We had to space ourselves out to each get a chance to do that. Hysterical!

Pacing was going very well. Every time we sped up too fast, I pulled us back and we were well on our way until mile 18. There is where things went a little off course. My run buddy just wasn't feeling it and I totally understood that. She was having trouble breathing freely. Evie had had bronchitas 2 weeks prior and when you are feeling off your game hitting a faster speed than you are use to, as in a race, it happens. To her credit, there are many days she out-runs me, so I get it. She has run 7 Ultras and I have ran zero. She knows the mind game it is, but I had to make her dig deeper, so I did pull out thoughts that I knew would inspire her and have her pain feel not nearly as significant. I felt like I was playing dirty, but I came prepared. Digging deep can go to an emotional core to find that strength that we all have. She said it worked after the race and felt she needed to write about it.

Our newbie racer was complaining about pain and suffering more and more, and although it did not effect my mental state (because hey, try dragging your leg in pain like I did in last year's Charlevoix race, when I could hardly bend it and I finished it after 5 hours), I just kept shuttering her down. NO ONE needs any negative thoughts during a hard race. Especially when you are suffering like my run buddy was. A marathon is pain at some point, and you have to respect it and welcome some of it or you will never get beyond it or to your goal. I know she didn't mean to do this, but "no doubt" and pain talking is allowed on my race course.

My buddy let me know twice that it is was alright to move on to finish strong since I was obviously pulling us along. I told her "no way" the first time, and the second time I looked her in the eye and said, "There is only one Evie Ultra and there is always another marathon." I sincerely meant it. I am not about to write my journey any other way. It is a team event at times. And that just isn't the marathon I wanted. Running 6-8 miles alone to shave that 7+ minutes would have seemed like agony, loneliness and completely idiotic. Again, not who I am or want to be.

When she gave me the final, "This is all I got" at mile 22, I knew it was time to back off. That is our code. I looked at my watch and thought okay, we can accept this and cruise in at a 10-10:30 pace. 30 seconds here and there is just fine and still a good finish.

In the last half mile we found a familiar face. Karen: a teacher, track coach, amazing runner, friend and yeah we needed her right now. She coached us to the track and I have to say, boy is she GOOOOD
…she inspired me and got my mind in check.

I saw my family waving on that last quarter mile. There is a wonderful feeling I have every time I see my husband at a race. I look right at him and I feel like I am home, and I feel a calmness and happiness. It helps that my kids look pretty darn happy too. This man lets me train for hours on weekends and takes care or our children while I am away without any complaints. He doesn't necessarily understand it, but he supports my need to achieve and listens to my remarks on running. THAT takes a lot of patience. He has kind words for me daily and I could make a list that doesn't have must to do with this race report, so I will refrain. I am grateful to my lord for giving me this partner through life and I don't say it nearly enough to him.

We hit that last half mile in close to a 9 minute pace and sprinted (well sprinting to us at that point) down the track side by side. In the last 30 feet I looked at Evie and said, "Take my hand," and we crossed victorious arms up and holding hands. Now THAT is the marathon I wanted!

Evie was elated that she just ran a 15 minute PR and I had just ran another 9 minutes off mine. Hey man, I just beat Oprah by 6 minutes and I didn't have a pacer!

Crossing the finish line and proof that it's hard to capture the feeling of a moment, which was much better than the photo. Thanks Evie, for giving me this moment.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dig Deep and Repeat

I have found a new love in of all things: hill repeats

What is wrong with me?? I was intimidated to start doing these. 

Why? Because they are excruciatingly hard! At least, that is what my brain told my lungs and legs. 

Enter hard rock'n music…and we have lift off!

The biggest obstacle was actually keeping track of the count. So I came up with something simple: 
Run down the hill and pick up a small rock at the bottom
Run with it up the hill  and place it in the mailbox 
I started with 6 and have added on weekly by one to two repeats (I am currently at 15, yeah me!)
Repeat 2x-3x a week

The reviews I have read from North Country's mentor program echoes that the best training strategies include MANY hill repeats—followed by then by many more.  I have to agree with that after running the half and I literally just want to survive and see my family again. Geese, need to get that thought out of my head.

Not only will this make me stronger, faster and condition my legs for the downhill beating I will take, but I am also gaining mental toughness. I feel like a fist pumping Rocky The Italian Stallion at the end. I am just missing the them music in my iPod to carry out this crazy. 

With the Bayshore marathon this weekend, I am looking forward to see just how strong my run buddy and I have become in these last 6 months. I already have a game plan for what comes next and will share those training changes after the race report. 

Until then, find your Focused Drive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seek and you find…Inspiration

I need to search for those that inspire, educate and make me want and believe I can achieve more. I don't have all the answers and this experiment of one is not nearly complete. I want the joy in moving forward and setting new goals...forever and always. But how to get there??? People living their lives motivate me.

Below are some of my recent sources of full throttle inspiration:


Another Mother Runner: I can't say enough about how much I have learned from Sarah Shea and Dimity McDowell on their many informative vehicles: facebook "Tribe" page, blog, books and available in voice in this podcast! I have laughed and chokes back tears during these podcasts and ticked by the miles effortlessly. They interview a variety of experts—and a few of the rest of us—to keep life in perspective balancing running and triathlete goals, career and family to make it all doable. Their facebook group is called the "tribe" and has more than 13,000 members that feel free to ask questions, share moments and obtain answers from anyone checking it. It's actually THE place I went to find support—and got it!—when I was considering running my first full marathon. It's where I learned about Body Glide,  running skirts and TMI Tuesdays.

Ultrarunnerpodcast.com: These tale spinning interviews make me believe that all things (and distances) are possible. They make me feel sane! HA! Not only do they interview interesting people—ultra runners—with insight and real experience, but they let them share their journey without much interruption, except to add to the quality of the story. I find myself hardly being able to wait for the next one. I found myself laughing out loud and stumbling listening to Russ Thomas talk about his BAD-past eating habit of grabbing left over food off hotel trays. WHAT!!?


http://keirahenninger.blogspot.com: Besides being a gifted trail runner killing it on the Ultra trails and beating the boys (yup, love her already don't you), Keira Henninger lives and breathes positive energy and is authentic in sharing her own struggles with self doubt, work and family. She is a nutrition coach, race director and a thought provoking writer on her blog. I particularly enjoyed her account of what to do with negative opinions that drag you down, but should not hold such value on your day or goals. Her advice: Hit the delete button.

This is her list of top 30 Life's Most Important Stuff. Read it and read it again.

http://liftingmyspirits.wordpress.com: This amazing female body builder went from looking 10 years older than she was—think garage sale heavy grandma (see her photo on the left)—to looking 10 years younger than her age....and she is 50! Believe it! Sweat, eating right, positive energy and commitment oozes from her blog and I can't get enough. This woman has so much focus that she transformed herself in three years to a competitor.

http://trailgirl.blogspot.com: Catra Corbett is living color and go-go unstoppable energy. She went from being a addict 17 years ago to a frequent 100 mile ultra runner—running more than 250 ultras. She holds the women's record for completing the John Muir Trail twice (out and back), a total of 424 miles. Nope, nobody else can say that. For her 48th b-day she ran 48 hours = 140 miles! WOW! Is all I got!

BTW…she is a fellow Hoka One One shoe lover. So we have one thing in common. Go Catra, Go Catra, Go Catra


How Bad Do You Want It? Part 2: I love what the speaker says in this video. "Success in intentional… You have to be willing to stay up three days in-a-row to be successful…You have 24hours to be successful…" I couldn't agree more.


runningmixes.com: Free music...let me say that again FREE Music! Download FREE DJ mixes for hours of running specifically geared to 180 beats per minute for that perfect cadence. There are some slower mixes available as well. I don't always have time to create something all new for my ears and feet, and this site has frequent updates and a variety of fresh beats. Load and go!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Half Marathon Sub 2 Hours! Rock On!

1:58:34 and 60 out if 260 in my age bracket of women.
Payday came at the Sarasota Third Watch Half Marathon after a trip to Disney with the family—entailing horrible processed food that I will not go into details of the gasteral effect if caused—and NOT getting much of a run in all week, referring to all that walking around at Disney my taper.

I am still in a bit of an awe that I was able to pull this off. It has been a goal for some time now. Going into this challenge I knew that this race would be my best chance to PR this year in a half since I need to pull my speed back for the Ultra training in the next few months. It would be a now or never mindset and although I have been faithful to my speed work I had never ran 6 miles in a 9 minute pace.

The Journey
I set myself up in the corral near the 2 hour pace setter and didn't allow him to get more than 50 feet away. The area was a little more crowded than I had experience before. So I had to watch my step to not get bumped or stepped on. This run was a mental struggle the entire time to convince myself that I was alright and still breathing well. There was one hill bridge that we crossed—twice. I had to keep saying "Believe." Mile 6 I felt pretty good and relaxed but by mile 8 I was glad to hear Josh Wilson's Carry Me on my ipod.

Being on a family vacation with my little ones, I was feeling pretty undeserving after constantly trying to keep them in line, behaving well and telling them "no". Maybe it's a a mom thing. Guilt seems to go hand in hand with being a parent. So Lord have mercy and let me be the best I can be at this moment. And seriously, please carry me across that line.

It really is amazing what the body can take and what the mind can feed it. I was fearful of bonking thru much of the race. And I kept thinking that I was just impressed to last this long. I fed my head a line I had heard over the past few months from my Jillian Michaels DVDs, "You have more to give." I certainly did this day even though I had visions of walking...I couldn't make my feet go any faster and walking or slowing down would mean total defeat. The GU station was at mile 10 and I really needed it at mile 5. Mental note: do not  depend on a race to bring the GU to the correct spot. That is also about the time when a sweaty man brushed up against me going around a corner and slimed me… eeeewwww!

When I hit mile 11, I knew getting to the last mile would be epic. Almost to the last glorious mile where I could indeed hold this pace for just one more mile. For the first time ever I had a surge in the last half mile to the finish line. Victory was in front of me. And that man with the sign for sub 2 hours was just a couple strides ahead and somewhere we had lost many of the people that once crowded. I wanted to harness the surge and stretch it out. Feeling this moment was the best finish ever. I saw my family cheering on the side and waving animal balloons—they were happy. I sprinted what I had left to get under the clock's 2 hour mark.


Almost immediately after I crossed that finish line my body readjusted to normal like I hadn't done a thing in the last 2 hours. Amazing.

FYI: The Sarasota Half Third Watch Marathon consists of around 2600 marathon runners and another 1000 in a relay. There are some beautiful views along the route, but watch out for face planting and ankle twisting on the bridge. I saw one woman take a full swan dive and skid across the pavement. I could hardly believe that she stood up and kept running.

Sarasota has a well organized event with free family entertainment and food & beer for the runners. It is the first time I have seen free face painting and balloon animals at a race! I can't say enough about their amazing dolphin medal.

Now, back to our regular program: I have slightly modified my training program in the last two months with moving onto Ripped in 30. I am sticking to week three in the DVD as it has a more intense quad workout—it hurts a lot! And, reminds my of the pain of  running down hill sides.

I have been following the Train Like A Mother "Own It" marathon plan which folds nicely into my 50Ultra plan.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rock 40

So next week I ROCK 40 years and created a special temporary tattoo that I just ordered for the occasion. I am looking forward to wearing this in ALL my races this year. And frankly, I am just glad that I settled on something. For crying out out, I have a really hard time creating anything for myself! I started with a Hard Rock CafĂ© style that was clean and simple, but decided it was too tamed for my mental race state and attitude. I needed more metal, and energy… like flames!!  Can't wait for 40: new age group, new decade and time to ROCK!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Not to be confused with drunk-dialing to an X, run-dialing is when you make calls while running.

I have thought about doing this before and never acted on it. But today, I had 14 miles to slam out on a treadmill, and I called my BRF to chat in the last three miles. That's right. I did it and am admitting it. Since my husband had another commitment, I had to be at home with the kids. Although I do not love running in cold, snowy weather, the long runs are much more bearable with a run buddy than on a lame treadmill staring at a wall. I hate sounding so negative, but 14 miles on a treadmill sucks! I have done it before in a straight run without breaks, but I am out of practice for this mind bender. I tried several techniques to break it up, and then the idea of making the call came to life. Silly as it was, I knew she would be making the same 14 mile run sometime this weekend. So we could chat about how her run went and maybe she would be on her treadmill at the same time. She is use to me running and panting, what the heck—I dialed. She had finished her run already, but my reward was that 3 miles past like smooth skating across a rink. A fast 3 miles and DONE. She didn't notice when I had stopped because we kept on talking.

Equally amusing, is the amount of woman that replied to this posting on the Run Like a Mother: The Book facebook page when they posted it as a status update: 90 likes and 76 responses and counting. So I am not the only one struggling with this treadmill lameness and considering other ways to get thru it. Many responded that they tweet, text, read, surf the internet, or talk on the phone. Hmmm food for thought. What else can I do while running?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Only Shake I Need

I know many people set THE resolution every year to lose weight. It has got to be the most set goal of all time and then the most broken goal of all time. The problem is...making dramatic changes that make one miserable doesn't work for long. Sooner or later the animal wants out of the cage so to speak.
I keep seeing these shake diets, and although SOME people find success by drinking them—and hopefully exercising at the same time and don't starve themselves (HA!)—what happens next, when/if the weeks are completed? What habit is formed in drinking a prefabricated drink. Why is learning to think of a sweet/dessert shake as a meal, a healthy thing? I'm gagging thinking about it. Where is control learned? I want to know, where is the happiness in this process because I love real food?

I am concerned about friends that feel stuck in their struggle to loss weight, live healthy and need to believe in themselves. It wasn't so long ago that I had trouble climbing a sled hill to go down it with my kids.This is what I believe, and I say it because I care about people for the long haul: 

Small changes made consistently = Progress

Just start building…

So what's shaken with me? (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Although I am changing my training to become an Ultra runner, I have been experiencing some great side effects from the 5 weeks of my previously posted fitness routine of 6-Weeks/Six Pack + ZUMBA + Running. The results? Drum roll…

I am down 5.5 lbs! My hips are smoother and my stomach is definitely flatter. Geese, things I always wished for but couldn't achieve with just running. No starving and major dieting at all. I did it during the holidays with all that junk food around (not that I went wild). I just didn't want to gain any weight to have to lose it again. I am really impressed!

I have stayed on Level One of the Jillian Michaels – 6 Weeks/Six Pack DVD for 5 weeks instead of 3. I feel like I can do it better and challenge myself each time. Thanksgiving to Christmas threw me for an activity loop, and I wanted to get more out of it, since I was only doing it 3 days a week. I just started  Level 2 this week and can say, "My buns hurt!" I still ran today, but yow!

I know I have heard Jillian Michaels say you can't isolate weight loss to one spot or area, but I am happy as a peach and am just going to imagine that this 5lb sugar bag came off my waist.

Here's hoping we all can find Focused Drive in the activities that will last, create happiness and well-being in 2013.