Thursday, February 18, 2016

Uwharrie Mountain Run 20 Miler - A Journey of Mind, Body and Spirit 

This was the third time I tried to run Uwharrie - year one = missed the lottery, year two = Achilles acting up, year 3 = I'm in!!!

After JFK 50 Miler in November, I took a small break from running and my focus was to recover and build some time on my feet, however, after Christmas I needed to switch gears even more.  I decided I needed something different.  I was starting to lose my love of running and needed to pull back and regain that lust. It wasn't that my mileage was too high or workouts were too hard but I was not taking my easy days easy enough and perhaps was putting myself on the seesaw of overtraining.  It seems to be everywhere lately, many experienced/elites/pro runners stressing how important recovery is. So in an effort to keep my paces controlled I started wearing a heart rate monitor during my easy runs, measuring my heart rate variable, resting heart rate and tracking my motivation to run day to day.

The month prior to Uwharrie I ran some good weekly miles and limited all harder workouts to 2x/week with sufficient time between efforts, 2-3 days, to make sure I was rested, no soreness and had the fire in my belly to do it. I also slept-in a bit more rather then a 5am run.  My training for Uwharrie was more of an experiment and quest to get me back on track.  I really should write another blog just on what I have been doing and balancing life! ;)

I even started painting again and taking more continuing education courses in preparation to practice again. Why/what led to me to this...mainly listening to my intuition but also getting guidance from David Roche and other runners, reading, podcasts such as Running on Om, UltraRunnerPodcast, TrailRunnerNation to start to gain some insight and chew on some different theories and thoughts.
A few little projects keeping the right brain strong!

Uwharrie was a race to enjoy new trails, folks and see what happens. It was stunningly beautiful and cold at the start, my biggest worry was + or - layers. I was glad to see wonderful trail friends, Steph Jeffries, Scott Lynch, Ronnie Weed, Jay Spadie, Jeff Wald, Jeff. Hall...and more...sorry I forgot hard to remember and folks were covered up to stay warm.
Start line - Photo credit Bull City Running Co.

Cow bell went off  (yes cow that, hockey mom) and we immediately headed into steep, rocky singletrack.  Three of us headed out and got some separation but again, this is not a 5k...anything can happen, but hey, my focus has been on going with intuition and at that moment I needed to get my arse up that hill! After we hit the top of the mountain in that first mile, I took a quick glimpse around and noticed..."Wow, look at this sunrise and mountain range! Stunning!!" Okay, focus on footing, lots of covered rocks/roots.  I continued rolling along the undulating ups and of the guys, in our group of three, clicked on by and was whoosh...gone!  Turns out Eric, won it sailing through those trails!! So nice to meet him and share a conversation at the end!
Wow...this is one reason I love trails.  Photo credit Bull City Running Co.
So that left me and Tile exchanging second place. I could tail him on the uphills, but he whizzed on the downhills leaving me in the dust.  We started passing 40 miler runners...loved exchanging encouraging words and seeing other trail spirits!  We crossed creeks, jumped and torn through some mud pits! The white trail blazes were mostly marked but a couple spots especially at mile 8 were hard to find, (you warned me Steph and Scott), and some gracious 40 milers came along and pointed us in the right direction.

I moved into second place around mile 13.  My legs felt good, hips getting a little achy but I had remembered listening to Matt Fitzgerald on URP saying "ask yourself how you feel about how you feel?" and I was good with how I felt about how I felt :)  ... you need listen to the episode. I was enjoying this race...I was smiling and giggling on the downhills like a kid, David Roche style!  And when the hips would tickle (Pamela Ross ;) ) on the uphills, I imagined them being massaged on the downhills!

We hit a big climb at mile 16  which was faster to power hike for few seconds than run. After this point I started meeting the front runners in the 40 miler.  They all looked really good and inspired my feet to be a little lighter.  Great to see fello runner Jason Tischer running the 40 and smiling and barely breaking a sweat...he came in second!!!

My plan was to push harder in these last few miles and I actually felt good and energized, however those last 3 miles of singletrack were really twisty, rocky and narrow in some I just gave what I had.  My garmin was reading 18 ish miles and I started hearing music..."this can't be the finish already"...but as I came to a small clearing there were two musicians playing for the freezing cold!! Awesome!

I ran about another 1/2 mile and thought I heard the announcer at the finish..."no...I can't be there yet...wait, maybe I am!!" My throat started to close with excitement and the ugly face of joy appeared for a second!  It was the finish!!  Smiling, I crossed at 2:59:56!!!  YAY!!  A great race, great day!  I knew I could do it and that made me do it!

1) V-Fuels  - 1 every 30mins
2) Diluted VEGA hydrator in water bottle
2) MEC 1980's CD player waist belt....yes it is what you think
3) La Sportiva Helios - love this shoe, low and light
4) Lululemon Run with Torque - best ponytail, ear covering torque I have found

What to improve on:
1) Speeding up on the downhills
2) Trying to take in the view
3) Keeping eyes on trail markers!

What went well:
1) Mental strength - I'm am good with how I feel, embracing the "tickles"
2) Smiling and thanking volunteers, supporters and runners
3) Listening to intuition and pulling back on easy training runs

Thanks to Bull City Running Company for putting on such a wonderful trail race!  Superb!  Thank you to all the volunteers, and Uwharrie Park for letting us tear it up on the trails for the day!
Thank you to Michael and Levi Mahan for the absolutely beautiful Whiskey Jug!  
Whiskey jug made by Michael and Levi Mahan, Seagrove Potters.

Uwharrie Mountain Run:

Bull City Running Company:

David Roche:

UltraRunnerPodcast link to Matt Fitzgerald interview :

Running on Om:

Trail Runner Nation:

Michael and Levi Mahan pottery:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

JFK 50 Miler - second ultra distance, first 50 miler, huge learning curve!

I debated, got nauseated, got excited and nervous thinking about doing a 50 mile run.  WHY? HOW? IS THIS POSSIBLE?  But too much karma came together to make me hit the button and sign up for the JFK 50 Mile Endurance run.

Training went well, I had put in my long runs, back to back runs, and runs keeping leg speed turning.  I knew I needed to stay healthy and thanks to David Roche, I did! My goals for the race, wait...GOAL...FINISH.

 The night before the race I spent the night in a Boonsboro hotel room feeling anxious and excited, writing scribbles with a sharpie on my arm of life events and aid station mile markers.  I knew this was going to be a mental test and I needed to keep my focus positive with little reminders of my family, friends and life events. 
Scribbles of on arm
Race morning I am geared up and was excited to be toeing the line and catch a glimpse of stellar runners such as Sarah Bard, Emily Harrison, Ian Torrance, Michael Wardian to name a few.  As we waited for the countdown Sarah Bard lined up beside me and I said "Are you Sarah?" she answered "Yes," I congratulated her on her win at JFK last year and her huge successes in running. 

 Away we went headed up hill on paved road. It was beautiful and I was enjoying this moment but also knew not to push and get caught up in someone else's pace.  I kept Sarah and Emily in my site, not that I would have any chance of hanging with them, but I thought I needed to try or at least see how my pace would roll out.  We headed on to the AT and it was gorgeous, very rocky and even slippy with leaf cover on the rocks. It was during this section we started meeting runners that started at 5am and it felt great to wish them well on their journey.

Appalachian Trail  photo credit Geoffrey Baker
 During those 16 miles Sarah, Emily and I exchanged positions and chatted.  Such lovely running ladies!  I was lucky to be running with them but also felt like I had no business to be running with elite women, however the pace was relaxed and effort was good. 

 After those 16 miles we hit the towpath and it was nice to just zone out and cruise on flat straight trail.  I picked my leg pace up but it was not the pace I hoped for, so I kept conservative and even, not knowing how the later miles would feel. 

 At mile 26 the achiness started to settle in my hips and legs.  I got nervous..."if I am aching now, it's only going to get worse and I don't know if I can do this."  I kept cruising, thanking volunteers and smiling, but as I got by myself on the towpath I had to dig deep.  Mile 26-34 became a mental journey.  "Why am I out here? Maybe you can't run ultras? Just stop, call it a day," but I just couldn't give up.  I had a choice to quit or to finish.  I then started to gaze at the scribbles on my arm.  I smiled, even giggled.  I remembered a quote saying "the pain doesn't get worse, it's just if you can tolerate it." I kept moving forward using small increments to keep me motivated, "get to the next big tree, aid station etc." I got passed by some runners and one guy empathized with me, he said, "I am sorry you are walking, you looked so strong, " "Thank you," I replied, "it is what it is." It was then I knew I just had to start running with this group of guys, I needed their company.  It was during these miles I thought about the history of this race and getting a medal with JFK on it.  "Screw it, this is not the pace you wanted but you NEED to finish this goal no matter how long it takes." I needed to show my boys, Morley and Alex, that even tough challenges can be accomplished.   I kept plugging away, singing Christmas carols, smiling and enjoying the beauty of the day.  Soon those rough miles were was now time to get off the towpath. "What?"  My watch said 40 miles!!!  "Oh wow, I have never run 40 miles!! Yay!!!"  Now the excitement and smell of the finish was growing closer.
Photo credit Geoffrey Baker
I hit the pavement of the last 8 miles of the race.  As my muscles adjusted to running on pavement, the achiness subsided and I knew, "I got this, you will finish. This is not the time you hoped for but you will achieve the goal!"  The miles kept coming and finally there were no more aid stations.  As I rounded that last mile I could start to hear the loud speaker calling runners in and I teared up, "I am going to finish this! I am going run 50 miles today! 50 miles! Almost 2 marathons! Wooohoooo!!!"  As I looked down the street, there it was...the finish line.  I was overwhelmed with joy and the muscles in my cheeks cramped from the huge grin on my face. I DID IT!!!!  I DID IT!!!
Finish!!! Photo credit Geoffrey Baker
I hugged the race director and another older man who resembled Santa Claus, perhaps some karma coming back to me from singing on the towpath! It was perfect...well at least until I had to bend down to grab something off the ground...good golly that was tough! OUCH! 

JFK 50 Mile Endurance run is a well oiled machine! These race directors know what they are doing and do it well!  The course is beautiful and offers a nice change of scenery from trail, towpath to road.  Thank you to all the volunteers for helping me achieve my goal, just being out there clapping helped me more than you know.  Thank you Geoffrey Baker for the great photos .  Congrats to Sarah a on great win and getting a PR!  Also a big congrats to Laurie Paretti Dymond, 49 years old, who was the 3rd woman. She PR'd her 24 hour race by 15 miles this year! Amazing!

My husband Paul, our sons, Morley and Alex, along with the rest of my family are the reasons I am able to do this! Thank you! David Roche, you kept me healthy and help me believe in myself!  SWAP - always an anchor!

 What went well:
1) Nutrition - no stomach problems and energy was good - VFuels every 20mins, Vega electrolytes and water as needed
2) No blisters or chaffing!! WWOOOOHOOO!! 
3) Smiling and thanking volunteers - this will always go well!  Can't thank those folks out there enough!
4) Sticking to my plan but adjusting my goals as needed

What to improve on:
1) Knowing you can tolerate the soreness
2) Picking up leg speed with achiness
3) Again...not every race is going to be good! Yes, this was not my time goal but I finished and that means it was a great day!

1) HOKA One One Clifton 2
2) VFuels gels
3) VEGA electrolyte mix
4) Nathan waist belt
5) CEP ankle compression socks
I got my medal!

Enjoying recovery and a bit of cross training!  Wish I was playing Ringette!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Disclaimer: I try to tackle life with all I have and in doing so, I always look for the positive even when things aren't going as planned.

Table Rock 50k- My first journey in the Ultra distance
Artist: my son :)

After finishing my first road half marathon in 2011 I said, "I don't know how people run a marathon."  Fast forward 2015, I have run a few marathons but now a 50k?!  I never thought I would. 

Over the past year and half I have been fortunate, blessed, lucky enough to be coached by David Roche, - This man and his amazing SWAP group of athletes are so empowering . I have had a great year of running, with a few niggles here and there but the allure of an "ultra" was dancing around in my head and David suggested..."Ultra?"  So I goggled "good first ultra's" BINGO! - Table Rock Ultras said to be one of the most scenic ultras, but not the easiest with almost 6000 feet of climbing! Whew! I wanted something closer to home and on trail, and this baby had it all! I wanted to test my ability mentally and physically to be on my feet for a longer period of time.

Training went well and I had put in my long runs but my biggest concern was "5+hours on my feet?" Ouch!  Blisters? Energy? Cramps? Mental Focus? Puking? I put my nose deep into researching and with David's help I had a plan. 

It had rained for a few days previous to the race, and race morning was no exception.  Views at the top to Table Rock would be fogged out but I was focused on the task at hand and ready to explore new trails and what my body could do.  I had marked on my arm the miles with larger climbs as well as aid stations.  I used this to help break up the run and keep my attitude...cheerful!
Climbing miles and aid stations.
I never sleep much before a race, so I was ready to drive up to the start in good time.  The drive was dark and rainy but I was excited.  I assumed the thoughts of 5+ hours on my feet would be more stressful, but it was the excitement of new trails, a new adventure that fueled my soul.  I arrived, got my gear ready and paced a bit.

7:00am  - GO!  We started in a field of a camp ground so footing was good but I knew I shouldn't push the pace, this is a long race and that could put me "in the rhubarb" by mile 20.  About 1/2 mile in we hit the woods then back on more field type trails. I didn't take a gel pre race but at 10mins into the race I took one, feeling I needed something.  From then on at 6mins, 26mins, and 46mins after o'clock I threw down a gel, I used VFuel gels.  Again this was another great mental distraction during the race.

First creek crossing!  I had not done many creek crossings before but I was ready "we're going for it"...scrambling through shin deep water for about 20 feet and back onto the trail.  I reached the first aid station with a smile and yelled "thank you!"  One of my goals during this race was to smile at aid stations and tell them thank you for volunteering. 

The second creek crossing, about mile 6, was pretty comical. The race director and another fellow were just getting the guide rope across but the race director was still holding one end.  This was not a skip through creek, this was large rocks, slight waterfall, pool at bottom.  I had no idea how to go about this, so I just grabbed the rope, slipped on the rocks and landed back first in the water almost pulling Brandon (race director) in with me.  Brandon, "Are you okay?" Me, still bugged out on race adrenaline, hollered "I'm good, I'm okay".  I immediately felt my pack to make sure all gels/water bottles were still in tact.  Whew! Good to go!

We then started doing some climbing, some single track and then gravel roads towards second aid.  I was meeting some 50milers on the way back from aid which was sweet! Even got high fives from Raleigh friend Jason Tischer, who placed second in the 50miler! Stunning run!  I got my water refilled and headed back down the road.  The next miles were mainly gravel to the third aid but still so peaceful and beautiful in the mountains. I sped my legs up a bit during this section knowing the big climbs were coming. The next few miles or so were very technical single track to Table Rock Summit.  It was a steep, beautiful, climb but with wet, slippy rocks that demanded respect.  I kept thinking how my husband and boys would love this and I hope we don't have to come back down this?!  The summit was beautiful even though the fog was so thick I couldn't see much but I could feel the beauty out there.  I got my bib marked, turned and headed back down the summit.  I was hoping these next few miles would be fast downhills, but there was no way you could on those rocks/boulders in some cases.  In fact while trying to grab a gel I totally ate dirt but as I looked over the cliff on one side of the trail I thought "relax, you need to get home for the boy's hockey games tonight"!!  Haha!  Onward! 

I hit the next aid, got some water and said, "which way?" hoping they wouldn't say, "back the way you came"...but yes they did!  Back I went, not back to the summit but down the rocky single track through the woods. 

At this point there is about 10 miles to go mostly downhill and single track. I was hoping to get some fast miles in but the single track was steep in sections and I knew if I pushed my quads would be done. I needed to respect what my body was doing for me.  Still enjoying the trails and being in the woods, I started meeting 50 milers on their way to the summit which was so nice.  We exchanged positive that!

As I continued to maneuver the single track, I hit Steel Creek falls!  The rope was up and I managed better!  As I focused on getting over the falls I kept seeing a flash and thought, "oh, must be a camera on a tripod" so I turned and to my surprise a photographer was tucked in the rocks clickin' photos...of course I had to turn and smile pretty!

Photo credit Daren Wilz

Steels Creek crossing on way back. Photo credit Daren Wilz.
The next few miles were on a gravel road and it was during this point I was getting challenged mentally.  Some fatigue and muscle aches were starting to settle in, so I decided I needed to break the distance into smaller increments.  Instead of 9 miles left, it was 3 miles to the next aid.  It was during this section, that was totally runnable, I found myself learning to accept and relax that I may need to walk a bit, even if for 10 seconds.  I am not use to walking during runnable terrain but I knew I was out here to listen to my body and just take what I needed. 

I hit the final aid station thinking there were 6 miles see...I kept forgetting to start my garmin at aid stations so the mileage was off.  As they greeted me with smiles and filled my water bottle they said "yay, only 4.8 miles".  I yelled with joy, "what only 4.8??? I thought it was 6!!! Woohoo!!"  I took off waving my hands in the air like a child.  

Entering last aid station!  Photo credit Victor Mariano

Leaving last aid with 4.8 miles to go! Woohooo!!! Photo credit Victor Mariano
The next 4.8 miles were little rollers on grass trails, which weren't much, but my legs were feeling the effects of the steep downhills so I managed what I could, and again being challenged mentally started with some self-talk and counting down "only 3 miles, only 2 got this Lorraine." I was sure someone would get a kick in the end and fly by me but at this point I was fine with that. 

I finally hit the field section about, 1/2 mile from the finish and I just choked up...I tried to cry but I was so happy in disbelief that all I got was the ugly cry face.  I kept looking behind me for the runner with the kick but they weren't there?!  I pulled myself together and pushed faster for that last 1/2 mile. I thought "oh my land, I did it!!" Reaching the finish the race directors were holding the ribbon for me and cheering.  I waved my arms in the air and smiled so big as I broke the ribbon!  

Smiling towards the finish! Photo credit: Table Rock Ultras

Woohoo!!! RAWR! Photo credit: Table Rock Ultras

They congratulated me and handed me a beautiful pottery sculpture of Table Rock and entry into Leatherwood 50k 2016!  What??!!!  May have to put that one on the calendar!

Pottery sculpture by Glenwood Road Pottery! Love this!
I did it!!! I was on my feet for 5 hours 11 minutes!  I had done what I'd come to do.  I stayed mentally focused, took my gels every 20 minutes, hydrated, broke the race into goals and smiled and thanked the volunteers! 
Thank you to the race directors, organizers and especially the volunteers.  I would definitely recommend this race.  Yes it's a challenge but it's so rewarding and beautiful . Brandon and Mark have done an awesome job balancing single track/gravel trails and the volunteers and aid stations were superb! It was great to meet some others runners Anne Wheatly, who broke her course record from last year by over 20 minutes, Andy Brouwer, and running with fellow Medoc 10 miler friend John Cochran.  Congrats to all runners!

Thanks to David and SWAP for getting me there and empowering me to believe I could do it. Thanks my family and friends...I hope you realize what you do for me.

1) Nathan VaporElite 2 Hydration Pak
2) Vega Electrolyte mixed water in one bottle, water in the other
3) VFuel gels
4) HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR
5) Nike Women's DF Cool Breeze Strappy Tank, Nike Women's 2" Rival Short, CEP Progressive+ Run Compression Women's Socks 2.0
6) Umstead Marathon running hat!

Where to improve:
1) Relax!!  You may/will need to hike or walk during some ultras
2) How to maneuver creek crossings
3) Not every race will be this good

What went well:
1) gel every 20 minutes
2) Hydration
3) no blisters and minimal chafe!
4) mentally breaking the race up in sections
5) I smiled and thanked all the volunteers - they deserved that and more! 

I am savoring this one for awhile. I plan on wearing my Table Rock shirt for a long time :)