Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ouachita Trail 50K

Ouachita Trial 50K

Photo credit - Sandy Ahne
What happens when you don't work hard enough over the winter and spring to run 50 miles?  You don't run 50 miles.  That is what happens.  After Arkansas Traveller 100 last fall I wanted to run the 50 miler instead of 50 K.  Well, I said I wanted it, obviously I didn't, otherwise I would have put in the effort 5, 4 and 3 months earlier.  Fear is what kept it from happening.  It takes so much energy to be that focused.  Going back into that zone to get ready for the 50 miler was just more than I was willing to do at that time.  All is good, its a learning, growing process.

As said in the Styx & Stones race report, a badly paced foot, slip and hard fall left my foot sprained, not ankle, foot!  Its still tender and running still has to be very carefully done.

Normally if its raining the race is detoured around Pinnacle Mountain.  The forecast said that no rain Saturday morning, but the morning brought drizzle and then rain.  The course was already marked so we carefully made our way over Pinnacle Mountain.  I made it up the mountain okay.  It was the normal whole body workout it always is.  We go up the east side, very rugged.  On coming down the west side a misplaced foot brought instant pain.  The first thought that hit my brain was that I was going to have to drop at the aid station.  Deciding to wait till arriving at that aid station was a good decision as it kind of shook off.

Photo credit - Ronnie Daniel

Before coming to the mountain my pace was at 15 minute miles.  My whole overall pace was slowed down to 20 minute miles after getting up and over the mountain.  That kind of makes the first cut off for the 50 miler impossible, as I knew it would.

Most of the outbound journey was made with Wes Leach.  It was the first time we have had a chance to visit, it was great!  One of the great pleasures of trail running is being able to share the trails with amazing people!

Wesley Leach - photo credit Sandy Ahne

Running with Wes was a very good move.  He is steady, steady up hill and steady down hill.  This helped me because normally I use up way too much energy being unsteady, blasting down hills and huffing up hills.  I had energy for the last half of the race because of Wes's steady pace!  Thank you!

Much energy was spent studying foot placement.  One more wrong slip and it would be over for my left foot.  Its exhausting focusing that much during a race.  One does what they must to finish the race.

Eddy Light, my training partner, tells me, reminds me often that I in fact can not talk for 31 miles.  I joked with him that I could.  He saw what happened when I tried during the Sylamore Trail 50K.  He now reminds me to stop talking so much!  So I followed his warning.  I did talk with Wes, but really kept it to a minimum for me.  It sure helped.

After the turn around, I decided to try to go faster on the downhills.  So with a good bye and a good wish to Wes for a happy race I sped up just a bit.  Very careful foot placement was still in order and was attained.  Much prayer was going on for steady feet.  Oh man it felt good to run downhill, even carefully!  Spread your wings and fly!

About half way back I started thinking that maybe, just maybe a PR was within reach.  It required some of the hardest work on the trail ever, every step every breath was worth it.

A Ouachita Trail 50K PR was earned!  by 24 minutes. Also a trail 50K PR was earned by 3 minutes!  Yes that was worth the work.

What went right-
Most things!  That doesn't happen too often

What would I change-
I would do the work in January, Feb, March to be able to run the 50 miles.
I would be more disciplined in eating so I wouldn't be packing around that extra weight.

What did I learn-
Reminded of really, you can only get back from the trail what you put into it.  Nothing more.  To get the rewards the hard hard work must be done.
I need a new hydration pack.  This one has chafed and ate my back for the last time.  No amount of fiddling with straps will fix this.

Hoka One One Mafata Trail Shoes
Dry Max Team RWB socks - still have to figure out the blister thing
Gregory hydration pack - great pack, doesn't fit me right
Victorias Secret Lightweight Sports Bra - mild chafing

Final thoughts-
I have to do the training.  That aside, everything achieved in ultra running is achieved with a little help (or a lot) from my friends!  For this I'm grateful.

Me - Eddy Light

Me - Chrissy Ferguson 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Looking Forward by Looking Back

The Next 50 Years

Today I'm 50 years old, 50..... years... 5.... decades.... 1/2...... century....

There are many ways this could be handled.  Hiding under the covers or counting wrinkles, aches, pains and gray hairs isn't going to be any of them.  Life is too grand, too expanding, too important to focus on all that stuff.  The next ___________ (between now and dead) are going to be great!

Why you say?  how do I know this?  How can it be?

I am the author of my story.  I will write it into being.

The last few years have been a time of intense pain, truth facing and healing.  The mental work that it took to put me in a place to push myself through 100 miles pushed me through some personal baggage that has been hanging around a decade or three too long.

At 42 years old, in March, a beginning running class at the health club forever changed my life.  At the time running one minute was out of the question.  By May I was challenged by those running coaches to train for a 1/2 marathon in November.  Travelling that far on foot was a dumb idea and I told them so.   A few weeks later after an eight mile training run with these ladies, a 1/2 marathon seemed possible.   1/2 November 2008, 25K Feb 2009, trail run June 2009, oh man I was hooked!

Now look I'm 50 years old.  I made the goal of running 100 miles by 50 years old.  I did it.

It has been a great blessing to be surrounded by people in their 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's running, doing, moving, being amazing.  With the freedom from baggage and with last summers mental work, with these grand examples in my life, its without fear to face the big 50 and what comes beyond.

Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him
My husband and children
Team RWB
Trail running family
The dearest of friends
Disciple of training for 100
University of Podcast

These are the tools used to make the next 20+ years simply amazing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Styx N' Stones - Devil's Den State Park 30k - March 19, 2016

The trail feeds the soul.  When one feels fairly empty head to a rugged trail that will take everything out of you.  Devil's Den State Park trails will do that, while draining you of every ounce of energy you have left, it will refill your soul. 

I like to drive up the night before.  Getting up at 3AM doesn't make for a restful night.  Leaving home at 7ish made for a 10PM arrival.  Snuggling down in blankets in the car makes for a peaceful night.

It was COLD in the morning!  The bustle of getting ready to run made for warming up a bit.  Its always like a family reunion to be at a trail race and this was no exception.  Hugs, laughter and statement of cold break the silence as the park comes to life for the day.

At 8AM we are set loose.  There is no use starting out at a run, no use trying to get in front of anyone.  I just hung back and waited till we hit the trail.  I wanted to hike the hills as fast as possible.  It was working!  After a week of eating squeaky clean and getting back on my daily inhaler, cool weather and low humidity, moving was just amazingly fun!   For the first two hours I was running at just under a 17 minute mile pace.  On trails, for me, this is super amazing.  It felt great! fun! and wow!
At about 7-8ish miles I turned my foot on a rock and took a hard fall.  Sitting there for awhile then shaking it off I was able to get up and gingerly start moving.  It shook off and I was able to start running again.  As the miles went by my foot started hurting more, my pace started slowing down.  This is/was a total bummer!  Dang!  I did make the choice to continue on for the full 30K when arriving at the split off, 15K one way 30K the other.  

That may not have been the wisest choice ever made, but gratefully it didn't cause permanent damage.  I was able to finish in 4:54.12.  with an overall pace of 18:06
Hour 1 - pace 16:54
Hour 2 - pace 16:58
Hour 3- pace 18:28
Hour 4 - pace 19:42
Hour 5 - pace 19:01

Those times tell the story!
This trail is rugged, rugged, rugged!  and then rugged some more!  I LOVE IT!

Will I go back next year?  YES!

X-Rays show no breaks or sprains.  So 50% decrease in mileage, no speed work for a week, then slowly build mileage again.  I think this was my last long run before the Ouachita Trail 50 April 16, 2016.  Its time to really focus on strength/core training and be happy to run.

Thank you to the Den Herder Family for once again, pulling of a great part!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

First 50K - White Rock Classic 50K - Chris Beason

Several months ago my friends, Julie and Becky, and I decided that on February 6, 2016, the 22nd White Rock Classic would be our first 50K.  We were going to become ultra together. 

We started at 7:30a.m.  I had just recently ran the 25K at Bandera, Texas, in just under 5 hours so I planned on it taking me about 10 hours.  I knew there was no way I could keep up with their pace so I told them to go on ahead.   

I was not going to start out fast.  I had to reserve as much energy as I could if I was going to make it to the halfway point.   For the majority of the run I was all alone with plenty of time to think.  There were lots of crazy thoughts going through my head.  My husband, Jeff had been to Team RWB trail camp and gave me some tips on things he learned about nutrition.  So I knew if my thinking got a little odd, it was nothing that eating a Cliff bar or popping a couple of salt tabs couldn’t fix. 

After about 5 miles, I told myself I was just going to enjoy the run, the beautiful scenery and go as far as I could.  However, if I managed to get to the halfway point, I was all in.  I trotted along averaging about 3.5 to 4 miles an hour until I got to around 11 miles or so.

Trail runners are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.  Here I was, the only one with trekking poles, going along what probably seemed to them to be as slow as molasses, and they all shouted out encouragement as they passed.  One lady even told me I was the smartest person out there because I had trekking poles.  At that point I didn’t feel very smart, but another lady said, “Use those poles.  Dig in and go!  You can do this!”  Not one person had said, “What the heck were you thinking?  Go home!”  Even one of the guys that I’m sure was going to be one of the first to finish said, “Nice work.  You keep it up.  You got this!”

There was quite a lot of time for self-reflection and coming to terms with who I am.  I am a slow runner.  At one point I even thought about starting a support group for slow runners and could tell you at least 50 advantages a slow runner has over a fast runner.  I thought about all the people who will never try to run a marathon because they know they will never run one in less than 5 hours.  They will never experience the indescribable feeling you get knowing you just ran 26.2 miles.  I used to apologize for being slow.  Then I figured out there is no apology necessary.  It’s my race at my pace. 

It seemed like every curve at the top of a hill revealed yet another hill to go up.  Around 12 miles Jeff came on the walkie and said he was just leaving the aid station around mile 10.   I got to thinking if I kept up a decent pace it was possible we would meet at the top at the halfway point at the same time.  I knew if he passed me, I couldn’t ask him to wait for me, but there was a chance it would all work out.  From that point we kept in touch over the walkie and he finally caught up to me just as we reached the aid station at the halfway point.  We took a couple of pictures and then said goodbye as he flew down the hill, back the way we came.  Before he left he reminded me I had just four hours to finish.

When I got to 22.5 miles, my watch died.  I turned on Runkeeper and figured I had about 3 hours to go and 9 miles.  I was averaging about 3.5 miles an hour.  I kept trying to do the math in my head.  The last I heard from Jeff he said I had an hour and a half left.  At that point I figured I still had 7 miles, but I knew somehow I could outrun the course patrol to get that last 30 minutes if I needed to.   I knew I had to run a lot.  I started picking out a tree, a rock or a random pole as far ahead as I could see.   I told myself make it to that point, get a drink and re-evaluate.  At about what I thought was 7 miles left, I had lost radio contact with Jeff.  The last time I talked to him, I knew he had made the aid station, but he faded out and I didn’t know if he was trying to tell me the aid station would still be there or if they would be gone by the time I got to it.  I did hear him say you have an hour and a half left before they close the course.

I’ve learned a lot from Lisa Gunnoe about mental training.  As a matter of fact, if I would have had phone service, I would have called her so I could hear her tell me to suck it up.  No negative thinking on the trail.  I had this.  I was going to finish.   So all I could do was pretend that she and I had that conversation, because I knew exactly what she would say.  I dug my poles in the ground and started running.

I was on a downhill and in the distance I saw a guy sitting in a chair on the side of the road.  As he saw me approaching, he stood up and walked to the edge of the road.  I felt a lump start to form in my throat. It seemed like it took forever for me to get close enough to him to hear the words I knew he was going to say.  I forced myself to hold back the tears as I choked out the words, "Are you going to make me quit?"  His reply was, "do you want me too?"  What?  Did I hear him right?  I knew he had to wonder if he should let me make that call when I repeated myself the second time.  He told me I had about 2 or 3 miles.  I thought he meant 2 or 3 miles to the finish line.  I left thinking I don't know how that's possible, but if that's all there is left I can do this.  About 2 miles later I found the last aid station.
Kevin King was waiting at the aid station for me to arrive and give me a rundown of my options.  Option 1: Call it quits.  You ran a good race.  You made it 27 miles; Option 2:  You have about 4.8 miles left.  You can keep running and see how far you can get before I have to pick you up in about 30 minutes; and   Option 3:  Go rouge.  Finish this thing.   I heard the words, but I couldn’t believe they came out of my mouth, “I’m going rouge.”   Kevin poured me a cup full of Pedialyte (husband’s orders) and filled my bottle with orange juice.  I left with the instructions to run all the downhills, power walk the up hills and do not say anything to the ham radio operators up ahead about finishing.  Just tell them that he’ll be behind me to pick me up in a few.

Somehow I found the strength to run and power walk my way right past the ham radio operators.  I smiled at them and kept right on going without a word being said.  Then I heard the sound of gravel crunching under the slow moving tires of a truck.  The ham radio operators were now following me.  No big deal.  I’ve got my story straight.   I stopped and waited for them to pull up beside me.  “Do you have enough water? You doing okay?”  the one asked.  I told them I had plenty and asked if they had any idea how much further I had to go.   They said we were a little way away from Petey’s rock, so they figured I had about 2 and a half miles left.   They followed me along for a little while and before they went on ahead, the other radio operator said, “You finish this.”  The whole time they were following me I was rehearsing the line in my head “Kevin is coming to pick me up.  I’m just seeing how far I can get.”  Well, I guess I had rehearsed it too much because by the time Kevin pulled up, I believed it.    

I looked at the course ahead and saw it was yet another steep uphill and then looked at the empty seat in Kevin’s truck.  He told me he was pulling me off the course.   I was the worst runner gone rogue ever.  I crawled up in the truck relieved that I was forced to give up.  He tried to make me feel better by telling me I wasn’t a quitter because he was having to pull me off the course.  Little did he know I had been in the process of coming to terms with not finishing for several miles.  I had even thought of everything to console myself down to even the smallest details.  I wouldn’t be able to get a 50K sticker now, but I could get one that said >26.2.   I took a deep breath and settled in for the ride to the finish line.  I start preparing myself to tell everyone I was okay and it was okay that I didn’t finish.  There would always be next time, but of course I had already decided screw this I am never doing this again!

About half a mile down the road Kevin stopped the truck and looked at me.   He said, “You’ve got 2 options.”  What?  More options?!  He handed me his phone so I could read the text message he got from PoDog.  “She has a walkie.  Her husband is on the way with a flashlight.  Let her finish.”  I just looked at him in disbelief.  Seriously?  So of course I had to ask, “Can I get out here?” No.  He had to take me back to where he picked me up.  As we spun around and flew back to the place where he picked me up, he told me that I had what it took to finish.  He had come in dead last in many a race.  There is no shame in coming in last.  One thing I told myself over and over is I might not be fast, but I am a finisher.  Now was the time to prove it.   

So I sucked it up and got out of the truck and took off yet again.  There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to finish.  These people were going to make sure they pushed, pulled and prodded me over the finish line if they had to!  Fortunately, I had gotten a fifteenth wind and somehow found that grit inside me that everyone knew was there.   Jeff hollered at me on the walkie and said he was on his way.  A little way up I saw him in our car making the curve in front of me.   From there he started following behind me in the car.  I asked him how much further.  “Just a couple more miles,” he said “this is the last uphill climb.”  We rounded the bend at the top of the hill and there sat our friends whooping and hollering, “only 2.2 miles to go!”  Finally, I knew exactly how far I had to go. 

I kept running and Jeff jumped out of the car and had our friend, Becky, drive our car behind us so he could run with me.  Relief.  Not only was I going to make it, I was going to make it running.  I could not get off that mountain fast enough.  Jeff kept telling me to look for the orange finish line spray painted on the ground.  Once I rounded the last curve all I saw was Lisa standing there waiting so I ran straight into her arms and bawled my eyes out.  I did it.  I became ultra.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon and Blaylock Creek 17 Mile Fun Run - Jan 9, 2016

Of Brain Farts, Goof Offs and Truth Telling

Not my photo

January 1, 2016 was my first day caffeine free in about four years.  I have been self medicating for a concussion received in a horse riding accident with caffeine.  It has become ineffective in this use and it has been hard on my body.  So the hope is that with out using energy shots to self medicate I can use then in races and they will help and I will be healthier the rest of the time.
The week has been interesting to say the least.  I left the stove on when I went to bed.  Showed up at a party a day early, one other big deal thing but I don't remember what it is. 
Well, Saturday was another Brain Fart!  Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon starts at 8:00AM, I showed up at 8:20AM thinking it started at 9:00AM.  Yup, brain fart for sure! 

The night before was spent in a wee dinky hotel in Mount Ida.  Thunder was the white noise provided for the whole evening.  The drive to the race was slower than expected as it was still raining and the roads are winding.  At about 3/4 mile from the race start I knew my mistake when I saw a sheriff's vehicle at the first turn off of the main road onto the side road.  About a half mile from Big Fork Community Center I saw two runners.  Upon seeing those runners I knew what had happened.  

I signed in, pinned on my bib number, and knowing I would not make the marathon cut off, grabbed my adventure camera to have fun out there on the way back from the fun run turn around. 

I met some guys out there doing some epic stuff!  They started Thursday on a known loop out there.  
They knew the weather was going to be cold, they knew it was going to rain, they knew about the mountains and the climbs, they went anyway.  That is badass! They backpacked the Eagle Rock Loop possibly backpacking 26.7 miles.

I had set this as my next key race after the Arkansas Traveller 100.  I had it so smartly worked out.  If one has a huge goal you have to think beyond the goal, plan beyond the goal, have a plan for after the goal is met or the date is passed so as to have something to focus on after that goal.  Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon was that goal, making the cut off to run the full marathon (being at Blaylock Creek by 10:30 AM).  Starting the race 30 minutes late made this goal not workable from the starting line.  So the next goal would be to worked on was getting to Blaylock Creek in under three hours which would improve my two other attempts.  

After not even making that goal the next thing to do was have fun on the way back, so that I did.  I greeted other runners, took pictures and just generally enjoyed the trip back at a leisurely pace. 

Blaylock Creek turn around aid station

This is how shoes become real! 

Now to the goof offs and truth telling.......

After the Traveller I still hit a funk, even with a goal.  The summer was spent out in the woods, running, thinking, praying, focused training, then that was gone.
I have never really gotten back on track.  I'm still 10 pounds heavier than Traveller taper weight.  I haven't done consistent core work, yoga, push-ups any consistent cross training since the Traveller.   This is not how one meets a goal.

The mountain never lets you lie to yourself.  If you get cocky, it will humble you.  If you lie to yourself, it will make you face the truth.  Facing the truth is exactly what happened.  I have a choice.  I can stay in this middle land of not quite in shape, not quite getting to running weight, not quite meeting goals or I can get back on track and get things done.  Its time to write down workouts, dates, training plans, menus and get back on track.

The mountain will tell if once again I'm lying to myself or if I'm finally getting squared away.

My watch time: 7:13:14.  My official time:  7:43:14

Take Aways:

Meditation works!
I was able to note discomforts and then let them go.  Not once, out loud or in my head did I complain about discomforts, just note and let go.  Thank you meditation!

Until I get this brain thing figuted out, don't hesitate to have friends or family check and double check my schedule.  Its the smart thing to do to get help when it is needed.

I need to carry a lens cleaning cloth in a small ziplock bag.

Nutrition and hydration were great.

Catch snowflakes on your tongue whenever life gives you the chance!  Its fun to play! OUT THERE!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Old And The New

I found some old running blog posts on a different blog.

My first trail race and 25K Sylamore Trail Feb 2009

My second half marathon and my PR - Andrew Jackson 1/2 April 2009

My introduction to AURA, the running family that would so profoundly change my life!
Catsmacker June 2009

First Full Moon experience, 25K July 2009

On signing up for my first 50K

Running of first 50K, Bartlett Park Ultras 50K Aug 2009

First encounter with Mount Nebo Aug 2009

Now on to 2016

I did not properly prepare for Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon that is upcoming this weekend, January 9, 2016  I'm up 12 lbs from my pre-Traveller taper weight.
This is day five without caffeine.  I'm going off the energy shots, like 5 Hour Energy, to be able to use them as a tool on race days, especially the 2016 edition of the Arkansas Traveller 100.
I use energy shots to boot, re-boot my brain or prevent it from "sundowning" in the evenings.  I have been doing this since the concussion May 2012.  This has been the only  way to get through computer work and anything where I have to do math, write numbers, dates, letters or remember anything!

I'm using:
DoTERRA Frankincense Essential Oil
Luminosity brain training
Note taking like a mad woman

It has been a very challenging week.  That is an understatement for sure!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Jacob Wells 3 Bridges Marathon

2015 Jacob Wells 3 Bridges Marathon

Perfect PR conditions = no PR

A few rookie mistakes were made along with some new things to figure out.

Mistake #1:  Going out too fast.  I used the 5:30 pace band from San Antonio again.  I should have printed one out for 5:20.  I tried to go a bit speedier than the pace needed for 5:30 without having the mile splits right there.  I went out too fast.  I run the first 1/2 five minutes faster than San Antonio.  I was 10 minutes slower overall.  I did hit the 20 mile mark at the same time, but was working way too hard to keep it up.  

Annette Blanton cheering me up at mile 20ish - I'm a bit spaced out, I look like I felt

Mistake #2:  Not saving music for the second half of the race.  During the Traveller I just had the music playing in the background so to speak, during the whole race.  I was going to do that again here.  It wasn't a good idea.  I should have saved it for a second half reward.

New to Work Out:
With the harder effort I need to rethink fueling.  The solid food, real foods, I use for ultras may be too much to digest working that hard.  I may need something along the line of a sports gel.  I can't stand them.  They are too sweet, even the unflavored ones.  Just ick.  I will be on the search for a more savory easily digestible fuel.

My 3 Bridges Marathon history:
2013 - 6:32.50
2014 - 6:53.40 = most miserable ever
2015 - 5:30.07 = best year yet!

Bill Torrey posted these fun facts to Facebook:
Here are some interesting facts about the Jacob Wells 3 Bridge Marathon.
We had 398 start the race and 383 finish. There were 108 people from out of state. There were 32 States represented with Missouri leading the way with 14, next was Texas with 13 and Illinois had 11. There were people from Maine to Hawaii and one from Canada.There were 218 women finishers and 165 men. We even had a person from South Carolina that tried getting in after it shut down still come, ran and left a check to support the event. Runners do some interesting things.

Here is my status update after the race:
As I've said before I didn't know Jacob Wells. I knew who he was and we had exchanged encouragement and pleasantries. 
The legacy he has left is amazing. He really is one of a kind in the best ways.
This race today, it was a magnificent family reunion of all of AR running, road, trail, Grand Prix, volunteers, everything. 
The love and good will was palpable. 
Congratulations to those who achieved their first marathon finish line, those who PR'ed, qualified for Marathon Maniacs, those who successfully readjusted plans when things didn't go as planned.
Thank you to the race organization for really nailing it once again!
Thank you to the volunteers, you all are the reason running in AR is so special.
Thank you all for the hugs, the encouragement, the conversations, the inspiration, the example you all are.
Thank you Kristen Garrettt for your life saving hugs and your famous butt rub to get me on down the trail! You are the very best!
What a day of all that is wonderful and right because of the AR running community!

Jacob Wells started the 3 Bridges Marathon in 2013.  November 2014 he died after collapsing at the Mid-South Marathon in Wynne AR.  He influenced so many people in AR running.  His marathon is a labor of love, first from him to the AR running community, now from the AR running community to his memory and example.

This is from a memorial page:
He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. I am sad to report that as much as we desired it, we will not get our miracle. 
Jacob's favorite Bible verse: ... Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1