Monday, March 30, 2015

A cold start to 2015 Virginia Creeper Trail Marathon 3/29/2015

Start of run.Women's winner in blue singlet: 2048, me securing my 2nd hat, far right.
All race photos courtesy of Brendan McSheehy.

Yesterday’s start to the VA Creeper Marathon was the coldest I can remember feeling during a run in a very, very long time. I think I’ve become a bit of a softie-last time I remember feeling so uncomfortable was during Bandera 100km in January of 2010.

To make things more fun before the start of the run, I got to see long-time "ultra buddy" Bryon Backer and Kevin Townsend. These fine men have been part of my entire journey of the world of ultrarunning since 2003.

I have run Virginia Creeper Marathon 4 or 5 times prior, so I should have done better at being prepared. The course is run from a central location with several out ‘n backs all coming through a central location where runners can easily access a bag to drop clothing or collect clothing.  I choose to be a Patagonia groupie and wore the new Strider Pro Shorts, All-Weather Zip Hoodie with the hood up, a beanie and Columbia’s Omni-Heat mittens, and sunglasses. I kept my Nano Air Jacket on for the first short out ‘n back, then like a silly person, threw it off as I passed my bag at mile two.
Two miles in. Not loving it. Frank in the background.

For the first 11 miles, all I could think about was running out of the shade and into the sun and trying not to trip due to having a hard time seeing with my eyes streaming cold weather tears. From roughly miles 9.5-11.5 I considered not continuing as the shivering and teeth chattering wouldn’t stop. I think it was the fig bars, wafer cookies and Gatorade at the mile 11ish aid stop that saved me. I took every chance after that to consume calories. Heavily fueling combining with the warmth of the sun brought me back to life and the run was fun from mile 18 until the end.
Warmth = Good Attitude
With a little more than a mile to go, I spotted Jessica the third place girl in the distance, I knew she was slowing as I could see her gap with the other lady leaders changing at the last Abingdon turn around. I saw Byron too and I knew that if I caught and passed them he would give me a good-natured hard time. I had a strong last mile and caught them both, finishing 12th overall, and third woman. Kevin finished very soon afterwards.

This was not a fast year for the women, yet look at these speedy men's times: Jeff Powers 2:39:48, Eddie Posey: 2:52:07 and Sam Allen rounding out sub-three: 2:58:49. Jeff wore singlet, shorts, gloves,  hat and ice on his beard. He was a thrill to watch. I wonder what he thought about yesterday morning?
Jeff cruising. He collected bigger icicles through his run.
Thank you to Frank Kibler, race director and all the volunteers helping us out to a very chilly early morning. Thank you too to whoever made those yummy white chocolate chip cookies at the finish line. Happiness in dough.

This is a USATF certified marathon course so I know I ran 26.2 miles, yet I wonder why my fit bit shows that during that 3:34:02 that I traveled just 21.5 miles? I wonder how the device converts miles to steps or vice versa? I forgot to turn the Soleus on. Oh well, my eyes were streaming so much I am sure I couldn’t have read the watch, yet it is nice to have documentation to reflect back on…

When I arrived home early afternoon after emptying my car of dirty shoes and clothes, I did some sun worshiping on our front deck. Such a delight to finally be warm again!

In closing with this post, I want to share a favorite picture taken the night before this run: Georgio and kittio love:
Loves of my life!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Charlotte Rockin' Relay Marathon 3/22/2015

Having fun with some super cool relay ladies!
This will be a short post with a couple cool pictures. Rockin' Relay Marathon, Charlotte.
I was a glutton this weekend. A glutton in the sense, I did more intense physical activity than I was ready for, and I loved if, not every bit, then most of it.

Saturday, trainer Andrea I worked together doing a challenging workout doing suspension training. This is one of the few sessions we do that I feel like shouting “help” near the end of the last set. Saturday was a full-body workout, yet a concentration on the glutes.
This photo was taken in a little over a year ago while doing "suspension training"
That afternoon, I enjoyed the mid-60’s sunshine and ran 11 miles around town, seeking out vacant lots and briar fields looking for daffodils to “poach” , I mean pick(I don’t really poach- I have learned that old home places, now very overgrown with bush and brambles and apparently untended produce very early season daffodils). I did return to one location that afternoon and plucked several flowers and earned bruised and scratched legs. Totally worth it. I have coined a new word: "daffodiling". 
Daffodiling results on display on our dining room table.
Sunday, I left home at 5:55am to Reedy Creek Park, just several miles north of Charlotte, NC. I have run in that location many years ago, when Jeff McConnell directed “Are We Having Fun Yet 50k?” on the more technical single-track trails of the park and neighboring reserves.

Rockin’ Relay was not technical or single track. It was all dirt and gravel and had a good share of ups and downs during it’s 1.3 mile loop. Easy for the first few miles and for me, becoming more fierce on tired legs as I continued to concluded 20 loops to complete the marathon.

Mentally I was in a better place than last week. I had fun! It was fun to see the dynamics of other teams, watch folks fishing and especially be introduced to the disc golf culture that was prolific that day at the park. I also really enjoyed a group of 12 fun African American women who divided their group into 3 teams of four. All teams were dressed alike with differences being the color of their top hats and bowties to announce their team. All wore tutu’s grand smiles. My day was made as a couple team members agreed to have a photo with me after I finished.

A second highlight of the day was during laps 8-10 when 31-year old  (at least I think that’s the age he shared-forgive me Rick if I am wrong) Richard, one of the owners of Trivium Racing, graciously shared a few loops with me. He is a life-filled person, a runner and triathete who shared some personal experiences and who has tons of passion for endurance sports. He is a great listener and a joy to be a trail partner. (Also, I must say, although we solo runners were in the minority, all the Trivium team went out of their way to be sure we all had what we needed). Thank you soo much.
Richard ("Rick) taking a break from his busy day to have a photo with me after finishing.
This was a more challenging course than last week’s Northern Trails Marathon.I finished almost 5 minutes later in 4:09:31
I wore my Soleus for both and came up with this similar data for 2 different courses.  (I know GPS units are not all that accurate in certain settings, thus, I am not trying to look too deeply at all this, yet it will be interesting to compare to this coming weekend...)

Northern Trails
Rockin’ Relay
Moving time
Pace per mile
Measured mileage
Chip time

Yesterday I learned I am off the wait list  and on the “Who’s Coming?”for the Virginia Creeper Marathon this coming Sunday. This is one of my favorite local runs, just about as low-key as they get. Our weather calls for light snow Saturday night and Sunday morning, I plan to attend if I can safely drive there leaving at 5:30am Sunday morning...

I am running more, yet not what I call TRAINING, (yet). It's awesome to run stress-free, yet I must admit, I am kinda getting the hankering to work hard again. I don't want running to turn back into a responsibility, yet I do love the physical and mental (and emotional) limit seeking of personal improvement and reaching goals. 

As we all are, I am a "work in progress" and as I move back towards ultras, want more than anything to find a balance between running, work and family that is way more balanced that it was before I was injured. I am willing to move slowly as I have gladly digested, that I am more than my running. Three years ago, I couldn't separate other parts of myself and life from running. I am doing better in that way now (Yay!) yet, I think it's getting to be time to trust myself and my experiences and see how ultrarunning can once again be a PART of a healthy and good life...