Sunday, July 29, 2007


I only had 10 on tap for today so I opted to stay around my neck of the woods and forgo running with the group. I wanted to be out there by 6:30 this morning but I guess I can't expect much rigidity from myself when the only person waiting on me is, well, me. I woke up at 5 and realized I was out of oatmeal so I scavenged around and decided on a piece of banana, it'll do. George had to work this morning so he was in the bathroom getting ready-I inhaled my pre-run fuel and stupidly laid back down in bed while waiting for him to finish up in the shower. I fell asleep and woke up at 7:15. So much for being out there by 6:30. I then went through the debate I seem to have whenever I'm running a longer run by myself. Back and forth I told myself I should just I shouldn't go...yes you should go, you'll be mad if you don', I've been feeling run down (total lame, not very true excuse), I should lay back down...oh for the love of christ, just go, GO, you fucking baby.

At this point I slammed around the house getting ready like I was being forced by someone other than myself to do this stupid run. God damn bodyglide's outside in the car (at this point, please read these sentences with the clawing, annoying tone of a whiny four year old...cuz that's exactly how I was acting, um... in my house... all by myself). I scraped my feet along out to the car and grabbed my bodyglide and realized that it was dangerously close to being gone-figures. Welp, cross my fingers and hope to god that there's enough to cover all the numerous places that rub; yeah, no dice-I only had enough for my thighs so I knew I'd end up with a bloody sportsbra by the end of the run. It's not my nipples that bleed like most people experience, it's underneath my tits...just as uncomfortable, and just as icky. But whatever, I don't care...I'll be lucky if I even successfully GET to the park. Oh, and I don't have a spare GU anywhere...again, it just figures.

I got there and ran. If it's possible, I'd have to say that the humidity today was actually offended my every sense. But despite it's attempts to make me turn around and find nicer company within air conditioned walls, I did all 10 miles and smiled at each and every one of the other people who were brave enough to be active in this sweat inducing atmosphere. I finished in 1:26:54 which breaks down to an average of 8:41 splits. Not bad considering what this morning could have ended up as if I had given in to the comfort of my bed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Ass Is My Nemesis

Nothing but childbirth and broken limbs should hurt as bad as my ass and legs hurt right now. Okay, maybe 3rd degree burns can be added to that list but this is what I'm trying to get at: the entire lower half of my body has rebelled. It's out to get me. It is, in fact, my nemesis. Simple tasks such as walking and sitting are proving to be a torture that I can only barely tolerate.

Red took me to "The Lab" with her Monday night (yes, I realize it's fucking Wednesday and I'm still complaining but seriously...if you went through it, you'd understand) and I got to witness first hand the type of sessions she goes through with her trainer. I'm still a little chubby in places but I'd like to consider myself pretty strong, pretty tough. It's not that I doubted what Red had told me about Sean, it's just that I thought I'd be able to handle it better. I lift weights three times a week and run a gazillion miles for fucks sake...why on god's green earth should I think I wouldn't be able to handle this? Oh, that's right...cuz I didn't figure in the sadistic whims of dear ol' Satan Sean.

Ok, while I'm just kidding about how horrible the experience was, I'm not when it comes to the soreness. But it's one of those things that hurts so bad it feels kinda good (and yeah, guys, lets not go for the obvious sexual tie in that only a moron would miss, ok? I'm talking strictly in the working out sense, ya pervs). I give huge props to Red cuz although she did her cute little whiny voice to him, she did every single thing that task master put before her. Impressed isn't a strong enough term for what I feel. Besides the joy of self inflicted torture, I got to meet one of Red's friends who is like the poster child for kick ass. She was tossing those weights around like they were mere toys. So I'm thinking that Sean was a large part of what got her to that point...which means I can hopefully attain that level of ass kickin' someday.

I still managed to stick with the rest of my workouts so far this week but I must admit...everything was done with a slight wince, an unintended limp or a slow as molasses speed. It'll all be worth it when I qualify for Boston though, right? Jesus if I don't then someone owes me something...I don't know who but god damn it, someone'll pay...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BT50k Race Report

Prelude to a Race

Ok, before I go into the race report, I have to set the surrounding scene for you (just bear with me, I'll try to make it quick).

My veins have always been pretty close to the surface of my skin so you can usually see the road map that is my circulatory system fairly easily. One vein in particular sticks out more than the rest-it's on the inside of my right calf. Over time I've noticed a slight lump/bulge in it but since it's never given me a problem, I've never addressed it. A week before the race I was sitting outside with my mom and she mentioned that it was larger than she'd seen it before-I, in turn, assured her that it was nothing except mildly ugly.

Fast forward to the Wednesday before the race.

I was sitting at my desk at work and got up for a cup of coffee. This horrible burning, pulling stinging feeling radiated up my leg and at the epicenter of the pain was that god damn bulging vein (if you look closely at the picture you can see it). I sat down quickly and hoped it was just a temporary thing. Curiosity took over and I stood after resting for just a few seconds and sure enough, not only did my leg hurt but it was painful to walk on it. I tried not to overreact but this was all too familiar (Cleveland Marathon, fractured bone, two weeks get the picture).

I called my sports doctor and tried like hell to get an appointment that day but he must have been busy cuz he didn't even get a chance to call me back until after 5. I described what happened and he thought it might be a superficial clot so he instructed me put warm compresses on it and then to come and see him the next afternoon.

We are now into Thursday late afternoon and yes, the race is on Saturday.

So after examining me, he wasn't sure if it was a clot or possibly a tear in the fascia or maybe even Compartment Syndrome which I had only read about once or twice. To be sure he wanted to do an ultrasound but of course, it was now close to 6:00pm and the lab wasn't open. I was instructed to call the lab in the morning and try to get fit in somewhere. My doctor's parting words to me were "if you have any shortness of breath or increased heart rate...get to the emergency room." Yeah, that's just what I wanted to hear two days before my first attempt at an ultramarathon. And my parting words to my doctor were "if I were you, I'd wear a cup to work tomorrow cuz if you have to tell me AGAIN that I can't run the race I've been training for, I'm gonna kick you in the nads and I'm gonna kick you hard." Thank god he understands the subtle form of communication I have.

Friday's a new day though.

I go for the ultrasound and the clot issue is ruled out. We still don't know exactly what's wrong but since the pain was subsiding he gave me the green light to run but informed me to pay attention to my legs and if I felt any cramping then I should, yeah, it's a 31 mile, 7 or 8 hour race, over technical terrain...I assured him that I was pretty sure that at some point, somewhere along the line I most definitely would feel cramping-how I was to tell the difference between "normal" cramping and "bad" cramping I'll never know... but at that point all I heard from him was blah, blah, blah, you can run, blah, blah, blah.


Buckeye Trail 50k Race Report

Thankfully the heavy humid weather broke just in time for the race. In fact, it was chilly to start. The alarm had gone off at 4:00 am and I dragged myself into the kitchen to make my ritual oatmeal with brown sugar before the race. Surprisingly George got up with me instead of sleeping a little later. I wake up that early cuz I'm paranoid about eating before running-it has to be at least 2-3 hours before I start otherwise the fear of a stomach uprising would ruin my whole time. So anyway, George was up and at 'em and made me some really good coffee and started going over the plan of where and when he'd meet me. I can't tell you how much it means to have him involved. I don't think this race would be as fun and as meaningful if I didn't have him to share it with. At the risk of sounding stupid and sappy I'll just say this...I love him. A lot.

After bodygliding the hell out of pretty much every inch of my body, I got dressed and filled the cooler and my waist pack with what I needed. We hopped in the car and surprise, George made me a CD to listen to on our 40 minute drive. For some reason this song (Slow Show by The National) and Clara Bow by 50 Foot Wave really stood out to me so I just kept replaying them over and over and over. Little did I know that both those songs would replay in my head a few hundred more times when I was by myself for the last 16 miles of the race. So again, I thank my husband for having such good taste in music (and if you don't agree then go fuck's what helped me get through).

As soon as we pulled up I saw Trail Goddess Kim directing traffic. I leaned over George and introduced myself excitedly~in just a few seconds of talking to her I could easily understand what all the hype was if only I could set up a time to actually run with her! Then right after we saw Kim, we saw Sara and her husband Kevin which made me happy cuz she has been a really nice addition to our "back of the pack" group. Once we got ourselves situated, Red, Kurt & Jim pulled up and joined the mass of runners who were eagerly congregating in the now full lot. We talked to a bunch of people from bloggerland (E-Speed, Brett and Bill Bailey to name a few). And then Red & I got caught talking about the hot young Josh who is running us all into the ground with his fantastic accomplishments...thanks alot Rob for blowing our cover as the cool, collected older ladies of the trails!

So it's nearing the start time and Vince from Vertical Runner so eloquently states that everybody needed to get their ass to the starting line. We all gladly oblige and before you know it, the race has officially begun. I gave George a quick kiss and hug goodbye and started down the drive that would be welcoming me back in 7 or 8 hours. Red took off a ways ahead of Debi, Sara and myself. We let her go for a little bit but then reminded her that we had a long way to go. She gets really keyed up with race day energy and for any other race I would embrace that but since this was our first ultra, I wanted all of us to run it like we had trained it.

Here's where the story gets a little least on my part...because surprisingly, the first half of the race was more than enjoyable. Besides having the fantastic company of my immediate running group, I had run 16 miles and I wasn't feeling a bit of discomfort. I thought I saw Jim struggling a little but he was still leading our pack for a good portion of the run. Red & I joked that we needed to reign the rhino in. That's just one of our pet names for Jim... he has a few others but we'll just keep those to ourselves.

My plan all along was to run the whole first half very comfortably and then hand any extra shit along with my camera and waist pack to George at mile 16 and take off and run my own race from there on out. Between him and the volunteers, every need I had was met during that race. I can't even tell you how much I looked forward to seeing him. I think I surprised him by being in a continual good state of mind...that's rare for me during races but again, to me that's the beauty of this first attempt-I just wanted to finish, that was my only goal. So at each stop he'd ask how I was doing and I'd happily reply that I couldn't be better, that I felt good but was still cautious and didn't want to jinx myself.

After leaving the half way point I slowly increased the gap between myself and Red & Jim. And by mile 20 it was just me & George celebrating at the aid station. I asked him to stick around and wait because I wanted to make sure Jim got a few S!caps (electrolyte replacement tablets) in him before continuing on. Little did I know that it was just about too late for Jim, he unfortunately cramped so bad at mile 20 that he was forced to make the smart decision to pull out of the race.

I said goodbye to George one more time and went on my way-mile 20 was the last stop I'd see him at before the finish. Very slowly I started passing a few people. I thought of Kim because as she puts it, I "chicked" a few guys and I can't lie...I smiled a little as I did it. I got to the Snowville Rd. aid station just in time because my water supply was running low. The one thing I regret is that I didn't practice eating during my training runs so the spread that was at the aid stop was lost on me. But I can tell you this, I've never seen a wider array of candy and chips and variety of beverage than I saw here. But being the pussy I am, I was so afraid to try anything new in fear of getting sick. I looked at one of the volunteers and asked how many miles I had to go and they said 6. Just a 10k?? No problem...I got this, I totally got this. Maybe ten minutes after that epiphany is when my legs started threatening to cramp up. Nice, the trail gods had heard me and they obviously wanted to make me their bitch.

First it was my quads...I had been taking the S!caps every hour leading up to this point but then I started popping them like they were candy. Then my calves started feeling extremely tight and all I could think of was that god damn Dr. Figler telling me about Compartment Syndrome. I would run for a little then squat down to stretch my legs without ever fully giving in to the dreaded siren call of sitting down. I kept thinking that if someone were to pass me they'd think I was taking a shit right there on the trail but I couldn't help it...if squatting was what felt good then that's what I'd do. Those songs that George had put on my CD were the only things I could wrap my brain around then. The one line in the first song goes "I'm gonna hurry home to you"...and it kept going through my mind and I found that concentrating on getting back to him is what helped me through those last miles. By this time the hills were a mixed blessing. I looked forward to them because it gave my quads a rest-I would really lean into them and let my ass do most of the work but at the same time those hills left me sucking air like I was drowning. So I started breaking the hills into small sections: "okay, just get to that small tree and you're golden". Made it. "okay, see that root up there? Just make it to that and you're golden". Made it.

And so on and so forth for the next three miles until thank the lord, a clearing in the woods. It was that first bathroom stop and I knew two very important things about this place-1) there's a drinking fountain by the pavilion which is good cuz I was completely out of water and 2) there's only about 2 miles to go until the end. That's 2 miles until I've FINISHED MY FIRST ULTRA MARATHON! The cramping subsided for the most part and I made my way around the last of the deceptive curves and finally saw the finish line off in the distance. I made it. I did it. Besides George being there of course, my sister and my parents were there cheering me on. Jim was there too and it threw me off since I didn't know he had dropped out of the race and all I could think for a split second was that the fucker had somehow passed me! E-Speed and her friend MT were so nice to stick around and see everyone finish. I crossed the finish line in 7 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds. My goal had been 8 hours so I was definitely flying high.

Once I completed the race and quickly stuffed my face with cookies and pretzels I turned my attention to my friends who would be coming around the bend any minute. Sara was the first to appear and let me say this now-she is one tough woman...I found out later that she had taken a really bad fall and split her eyebrow open along with getting a nice size goose egg above her eye but she kept running! That's balls baby.

Next came Red and she ended the race within just a few minutes of her projected goal. I can't imagine running this race without her. She's the main reason I was drawn to our running group and she continues to entertain me and support me and all in all be a fantastic friend and running companion. I know she battled problems with her IT bands for a good portion of the race so my hat goes off to her for pursuing in spite of the pain.

Debi's crossing was just as exciting. Here's a woman who doesn't always get her training runs in during the week yet always showed up for the long runs and kicked ass and took names. On top of it, I'm sorry to say, she's a little prone to falling so for her to still fearlessly tackle this very technical trail says so much about her character and her drive and determination.

So when's the next one? I need an excuse to inhale another large pizza like I did when I got home from the race...

Monday, July 16, 2007


I'm waiting, Maria...are you there??? Post it!!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Different Breed

Yesterday was the Muddy Paws 10 mile trail race at Kendall Hills. First off, let me just say that the course was beautiful, the company (Red, Debi, Jim & Kurt) was superb, and the weather was just about perfect. This is a race to help raise funds for the local Humane Society so people were out there with their four legged companions as well. It's a good cause and I'd be lying if I said that after it I didn't want to run to the shelter and adopt every unwanted pet there. But as I've promised my husband, once we actually sell our house and move to a bigger one we WILL be getting a dog (hopefully one that will run with me cuz I'd love to have some protection on my early morning runs) so hopefully at that time I'll be able to find a dog that fits my needs; my cat, however, is hoping that this idea never comes to fruition. That cat only loves George anyway...screw her! Besides, she would make a really lousy running partner...

Anyway, back to the race itself. I've been running for around 4 years and all the "races" I've ever done have been road races (minus the Towpath marathon but come on, that's still as tame and flat as a road race just better cushioned since it's all limestone) yet I've "run" on plenty of trails over the years. Until yesterday, I hadn't ever "raced" on a trail. My best 5 mile road race was 38 minutes, my best 10K race-47 minutes, and of course my best 10 mile time was 1:24 so naturally going into this I tried to predict what my finishing time should be, which in hindsight seems so naive and well, almost endearing. I figured I could add a minute or so per mile and hope for a 9 minute pace. The funny thing in this is that I've run trails...did I think that some race magic was going to make it easier? Did I think that the name "Kendall Hills" was just an ironic coincidence and what lay ahead of me was really just a nice flat winding path through the woods? Aw, how cute, my optimism feels almost comical now.

Once I realized that my strategy needed tweaked I thoroughly enjoyed this race. I decided to run comfortably the whole time and it paid off since I felt great all the way until the end. I met a really nice woman named Holly who went on to win first place in her age group. She was extremely good natured and easy to run with. She lost me at the last water stop since I got distracted by the girl with the infamous screwed ankle. And once again, it was rubbing her bloody from the inside out...that makes my innards hurt just looking at it! I got moving again and felt pretty strong but then in the last quarter mile a woman in my age group who I knew was behind me (thanks to a little inquiry I did with Holly since she had been running with her previously) passed me, putting me into third place for my age group. That's okay though, cuz she looked to be a really talented, strong runner so it wasn't a huge surprise. I think her name was Marta and she definitely kicked ass!

Waiting at the finish line were Jim, who blitzed through the course in a way that still astonishes me, and Debi who opted for the 5 mile race. George hasn't been able to make it to my last couple races so it was so nice that I still had a cheering section even in his absence. I don't know what it is but the sight of Debi always, ALWAYS makes me happy. Whether it be before a training run or at the end of a race, her smile is just contagious and so naturally I caught it and smiled all the way through the finishing chute. Holly was also standing there yelling for me which I thought was nice. I was seconds behind Marta but still felt thrilled and was happy to slap a congratulatory high five with her before stumbling off to find a banana and water. I joined the group and cheered Red on who was only a couple minutes behind me.

I got my only dose of relaxation for the afternoon by sitting in the grass and bullshitting with my friends since I had to fly home after the race and clean the house and do the yard work in preparation for today's open house. Which by the way, does anyone want to buy my house? Anyone? Please?

Monday, July 2, 2007

You'll run as fast as KENYANS

If you don't think this shit is funny then I don't want to be your friend.

Just Don't Look Up

Yesterday was the last long run before The Buckeye Trail 50k. Our previous training run was 16 miles on the trail and to be honest with you, I'd never felt better than after that so I had high hopes going into this 23 miler. But I gotta tell you, 16 is very different than 23. Very, very different.

The group that amassed was large including all the really fast runners (which I am not). But thankfully I've taken on this challenge of a race with the normal Sunday running group (Kurt, Jim, Red & Debi...Roger too but he couldn't make it to this training run) so I never even have the chance to feel intimidated since I'm always surrounded by my friends. As Red, Debi and I were waiting around for the run to start, a woman came up to us and introduced herself-her name is Sarah and she has just recently become solo in her quest for this 50k. Her running partner decided that this just wasn't the race for her and bailed out leaving poor Sarah all alone in conquering the BT50k. It turns out she likes to run our back of the pack pace as well so we welcomed her with open arms. I wish I could have spent more time talking with her but unfortunately I had a family brunch engagement that I really wanted to go to so I picked up my pace for a good portion of this run. But she was in good hands. Red & Debi could have made a one legged blind person feel at ease on that trail...that's just how nice they are and how instantly at ease you feel when in their company.

Big Jim and I ran together the whole time and I gotta tell you, for a 220 pound, 6 foot somethin' guy, he can really move! In the beginning he and I would pull up in front of the group and I kept asking him "Jim are we being stupid? Shouldn't we be conserving our energy?" so we'd stop and rejoin the group but then inevitably we'd get ahead again...which isn't a bad thing if you're not running 23 miles on some of the hilliest terrain I've ever seen. But still, those first 12 miles felt pretty damn good. We made it to Boston Store (the halfway point) in about three hours. Now this is what I need nonrunners to understand-normally, on routes that don't involve trails I can run 12 miles in about 1 hour and 40 minutes... so that's how much impact trails have on pacing.

Jim and I would have waited and rejoined the group but I really did want to make it to that brunch so thankfully (stupidly?) we really picked up our pace on the way back. We were going along pretty good until about mile 15 or 16 and then things kinda deteriorated; not horribly but enough where we were exchanging more complaints than conversation. Neither of us felt dehydrated or out of breath which is a good thing but our legs were just really starting to hurt. What once were agile quick steps had now turned into more of a shuffle mixed with periodic hops over roots and rocks. It's what I like to call "messy feet". At one point Jim's foot caught a small undetected stump in the middle of the trail and he went down. Really it was more acrobatic than anything. As he fell his water bottles flew in two different directions and he just let out a few choice words before getting up and dusting himself off.

So onward and upward we went. Oh yeah...upwards. At this time in the run whenever we reached the bottom of a hill we'd just mutter a "motherfucker" under our breath and remind each other to just not look up cuz it was too daunting to see what lay ahead. On any other run the call of a horrible uphill is always answered with the relief of a downhill but by then the downhills were just as painful as their counterparts. Going downhill on quads that wanted to burst is not a good feeling. You end up feeling out of control, both on form and pace. Cross your fingers and hope for the best cuz that's all one can muster at that point.

Oh thank the sweet baby jesus, there's a clearing in the woods. We were close to the end but any sense of distance and or time was gone by then. At this stop there's a drinking fountain which currently had two runners that had passed us a while ago. Hhmm..imagine that, for once we weren't the last ones on these trail training runs. The two guys that were there were really nice but their motivation and comfort level pretty much matched ours. Jim and I got water but then realized the grave danger in taking a break with these guys-if we stopped I couldn't even imagine trying to get started again so after exchanging a little bit of small talk we continued on our way but not before hearing the fantastic words of "there's only about 1.75 miles left". I swear, something in me burst like a dam and my willpower and drive went flooding through my spirit. So close, so so close.

I felt bolstered by this news but Jim was still having trouble with pain in his legs so we split for just a few minutes but then I panicked at being alone and trying to navigate my way back to the starting point so I turned around and ran the little way back to Jim so he could officially finish out his job as escort to me. It was probably the last .25 miles that felt the hardest. Where was the goddamn starting spot? Where was it? Oh and what are my quads doing? I internally starting praying to the quad god for pity. Please oh please oh please don't let them cramp. I could feel how close they were to abandoning me... they felt like hands on the verge of balling into fists. Ok again, where the hell is that spot?

Relief and happiness beckoned me from around the last curve. We made it. And not only did we make it back, we made it back in just under 2 .5 hours! Jim and I kicked ass! I was especially proud of him because this was the longest distance he's ever done-having only done half marathons up to this point. I layed down in the grass and felt impressed with our efforts and impressed with how fantastic the grass felt beneath my weary legs. This race is going to be hard but as I get ready for work this morning and feel the slight aching reminder of yesterday's run, I 'm still walking taller and prouder than I was before so just imagine how fantastic we'll all feel once we've conquered the full 50k.

And I made it to the brunch and I ate with reckless abandon.