Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Be True": Black Mountain Marathon 2/25/2012

Top 3 women: fastest from R to L!
“To Thy Own Self Be True” was my intent and mantra for the duration of the 2012 Black Mountain Marathon in Black Mountain, NC on 2/25/2012.

I’d run this event in the past and it’s big sister version The Mt Mitchell Challenge (same day, same course plus more to equal 40ish miles to the top of the highest point east of the Mississippi) several times, this day I was testing out my ability to run strong, yet not RACE. Racing, this year, thus far is defined for me is either for the last 5 miles of an event, or  as a Team USA member for the whole of World Championship 100km (WC100km) to be run in Seregano, Italy on 4/22.

Though I have recently been blessed with a couple strong running buddies (as mentioned in previous posts), most of my runs in preparation for a long road run are done alone and on pavement). Ten days ago I looked at my schedule and did not want to run another 3:30 alone on a cold windy morning in Ashe County, NC going back and forth on a flat -ish smooth road. I stepped out on a limb and took Jay Curwin, race director for the Black Mountain Marathon and Mt Mitchell Challenge at his word,
"past champions are always welcome.”


I told Jay, I wasn’t up to racing the 26.2 miles, yet was really up for a strong training run on trail before concentrating solely on pavement in prep of April’s run. I would not sandbag-I intended to run the flats strong, “plod” the ups and cautiously “let ‘er rip” on the downs. Yet I did not intend to lay all on the line on 2/25....

In my mind I predicted running with or near the leaders during the flattish 3+ mile run to Montreat and falling back and getting passed as pavement got steep and transitioned to uphill dirt for many miles as we gained the toll road.  I also guessed, that unless bad stuff happened, I would not be passed by male or female during the descent and flat return.

Mostly, the predictions came true! I met Keelin Schneider and Karen Ostergaard, both strong petite women and 34 years old and we shared most of the first 3+ miles easily together. Once hitting the steeps, I held back and youth bounded forward…I would later see them both on the top of the course as they turned back and I finished my “out” portion of the out ‘n back.

I greatly enjoyed running on dirt, rocks, mud and ice up, up, and up…getting warm-then when moving into the shadows with wind gusts, feeling chilled. Up, slowly, “to thy own self be true”, not racing…steady. Chilly, cold, is that sweat?

Chilly, windy, frozen water bottles can’t use my hands to open gel packets or even retrieve Clif blocks from previously opened packs…a little tang and a couple graham crackers. Not my race plan. (Yet not unexpected because I have Raynaud's Syndrome and have to wear hand warmers and double gloves (which I did-yet isn’t always enough!)

Then the Blue Ridge Parkway turnaround…  and I rejoiced and bounding the down hills-navigating rocks and ice and people as they were ascending for the Marathon or the 40-mile Challenge. So fun it was to cheer everyone on and receive encouragement in return…(Though truth be told, there were moments I was 100% focused on icy, rocky terrain and had no idea of what was happening around me!)

Then with 8ish miles left to go I smashed myself into a rock. Dugh! (OUCH!)I was not paying attention, rather considering the new Greenway Route that would present itself in several miles. 

Annette, Dork!: you know better than to daydream on technical –especially fast fun technical stuff like the descent of the Toll Road!
Knee damage, photo taken post race. (No bruises, only a flesh wound!)
Limp and whine out load I did as I slowed for a few moments assessing my blood, yet lack of leg damage. Okay? What was up? Maybe because I was having a hard time fueling to plan I got dorky? So I slowed just a bit to pay attention! Two men passed me. I passed one back…

I stressed for a moment , even though I knew I wasn’t racing…

Okay, I thought, as the weather warmed and the course descended, “I’ll drink up and eat M&M’s at Sourwood Gap, remove my jacket and hopefully with help of volunteers –since my hands were unable still to move, tie it around my waist and continue forward…Only 5ish miles left!

Then suddenly it was warm and I was in a Montrail uniform tank top, sleeves, hat stuffed in the top, mittens shoved into my unusable (due to freeze) waist belt, bounding forward with an intent to go sub 4:00. No one to race except the clock and I was thrilled to have finished  26.2  with 3:55:59 in 3rd place female (1st “old girl” ) and 18th overall out of 168! Full results for the MMC and BMM here.http://www.blackmountainmarathon.com/

After my rattling fall, my mantra simplified to “BE TRUE”, as I was getting tired and tired of ideals and would abbreviate what worked! I did behave truly: The dorsal fin nipped at me, yet did not emerge! Yay Annette! The focus now is on 4/22/2012 in Italy.

I had a few high points to this day, that had little to do with my run. I got cheer Rory Bosio from CA in as she ran a serious sub 6 hour for a clean win on the Mount Mitchell Challenge (MMC). She and I first met in 2010 when we were both in top 10 at Western States 100. She is a stellar runner and seems like a great woman-wish I'd been fortunate enough to spend more time with her!
Speedy Roryo and I after her amazing finish!
Scott and I reside in the same town...yet he is soon to move to Asheville for a cooler job!
 I was equally happy to celebrate the men's MMC 2012 champion Scott Williams. He and I reside in the same town and in gatherings, much to the dismay of our common company, frequently get lost in "running talk". Congrats Scott for your win and for recently signing with La Sportiva!

Diane and I taking a break eating and hydrating post run!
I also really enjoyed spending time with Diane Wilson who was less than 5 minutes behind me for a 4th place finish.  Diane is 49 years old and seems to be a tough, avid athlete who rides horses, runs and swims. I wish I lived near Asheville as it'd be great to train with her if she were willing!

Over 48 hours later, I am still a bit sore, having done a little running, biking, elliptical, swimming and pool running… Sometimes I think the timing of the driving taxes me as much as the running! I hope to be back on running moderately on land and in the pool tomorrow.

This coming weekend I am headed to NY to visit my awesome mom Mary Lou Bednosky and to run Camsett Park 50km on Sunday in Lloyd Harbor, NY! I know with my recent training I am not at my prime to run a PR…yet I will say I am wanting a 3:45 or less. Not out of the question-I am border-lined trained for that pace….yet will depend on race day conditions and my own mental space on race day!
Clothing and gear: Montrail Rogue Racers, DryMax lightweight crew trail socks, Zensah calf sleeves, Patagonia Capri tights, Mountain Hardwear Malina Tank, Mountain Hardwear Effusion Power Jacket,
MH Momentum Running Glove, homemade overmitts, chemical handwarmers, MH running sleeves and running beanie, Amber Silencer Native Sunglasses (to head off crying eyes due to wind!), Nathan water bottle pack, I carried Clif fuel (blocks and gels-yet my hands were non-functional and I couldn't access the zipper pocket!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Massacre Marathon training run 2/12/2012...(a wonderful modified weekend!)

No...he's not trying to beat runners, just celebrating success. See website for full disclosure!
As I posted last week, I expected this past weekend to be highlighted by 2 days of running in Greensboro, NC. (Only 90ish miles away...yet way less steep and at least 13 degrees warmer on average)...not to mention the diversity of food and culture appropriate for a Valentine's celebration!

Yet plans change...I participated too enthusiastically in a yoga session that too quickly followed a nice tempo workout 12 hours before and "tweaked" my hamstring on Thursday. Gads! Not again! Yet alas, I knew I was not injured, yet had to be cautious with my activities during the next few days so Friday was an elliptical and swim day and,  instead of the fun, muddy Groundhog Gallop on Saturday, I spent an hour pool running and 15 minutes doing a core workout. Not quite a 1/2 marathon...yet the goal for the weekend, as far as training, was to healthily run the low-key marathon on Sunday as a smart training run.

Folks ask what the difference is between a training marathon and a racing marathon? I'll give this example:

This past weekend (training) Friday night I slept 6.5 hours. Saturday George and I went out to a 4 course Italian meal to celebrate Valentine's Day (yes, I was conservative with my food choices, yet not boring)! We split a bottle of Chianti. We had a great time at "Happy Together", a performance at Triad Stage in Greensboro. It was cabaret style, so we drank a bit more wine and wound up back at the hotel discussing the sad death of Whitney Houston until 11:30pm. Slept 7 hours and ate hotel continental breakfast and drank several cups of sub-perfection coffee. Didn't warm up at marathon, just started out slow!

Running seriously (marathon or ultra): Limit myself to 2 glasses of wine prior to 9pm. Eat meal prior to 8pm. Usually very boring meal with no unknowns (usually healthy (ish). Make sure I have opportunity for 8.5 hours sleep. Eat boring "superstitious" breakfast I bring with me (no secret: whole wheat bread, almond butter, homemade apple butter sandwich and part of a banana  Drink as 2 cups or less of the best coffee I can find or brew in my room! Make sure I have time for at least 30 minutes of varied warm up!

On Sunday, I arrived at race venue (George would fly to FL later that day and had our other vehicle) with just enough time to park the Echo, grab my race number, pit stop,  lay out my tiny aid station and pull on my capri tights (I was on the fence with shorts or capris...yet the strong wind made the call: capris).

The gun could not boom soon enough as 3 of the 4 solo race participants danced for warmth around each other as the 130 runners from 130 relay teams began their bout! The air
horn went off and folks flew! Dale, Dennis, Jack and I (the "soloists") ran conservatively and I got to meet all of them within the first couple laps. I understand there were many other solo runners registered that did not start (perhaps to to the 24 degree start with wind chill in the single digits and gusts far higher influenced those that did not feel that this event would contribute to their "overall plan" or mere pleasure (for me, the former).

For solo runners this was 16 laps on pavement-the first lap being 2.2ish miles and each consecutive lap 1.6 to equal a certified 26.2 marathon. I think this is the 5th time I have run the event. Eight or nine years ago, I would have sworn the life of my dear kitty that I would NEVER run tiny loops on pavement when instead I could be running glorious, muddy, icy, hilly, remote brilliant trails instead.

(Those of you who really know me, know I prefer mud-slogging, mountain running, trail adventures to road stuff, unless it is to prepare for something as awesomely cool as running as a TEAM USA member in the 2012 100km World Championships in Italy on April 22 this year! A few weeks ago the 2012 Team was announced and I am thrilled to say I accepted the offer....So that mean more road and perhaps loopy running than I would otherwise choose though mid May 2012.)

As a solo runner out for a training run...I loved the low-key vibe of the solo runners AND spectating on the joy of the faster teams and diversity of fitness and abundance of exuberance in some of the slower teams. I ran and watched and celebrated all that I encountered. When at lap 10 my mood and energy faltered, I spent a couple minutes at my chair and plastic box that served as my aid station to unwrap a gel, fasten an ipod shuffle to my waist and drink some water. Frozen hands made this (and most other tasks) take a very long time!

George, having finished his errands around Greensboro Farmers Market,  appeared to me about this time as his was crossing our route while walking on a hiking trail. I slowed a bit and he jogged with me for a couple minutes-yet he was dressed for easy hiking and was on the verge of overheating after a few minutes. I was soo thrilled he was there!

George and I have been struggling with the whether or not we should pay for him to go to Italy as a Team  supporter, or just save or bucks as we needed to do this past September and he did not travel with us to Netherlands.  (Most of my expenses are thankfully reimbursed with USATF and International Association of Ultra Running). I'll know the reality of my calf and hamstring in the next 10 days... and I think if all is good with my body, then we'll figure out how George can attend too. He is such a great motivator and supporter of me in these crazy things, even when we exchange no words I know he is supportive of my endeavors and   he is willing to do what it takes race day to support USA athletes (please save time for him to enjoy local cuisine and beverages along the way!)
Awesome George and I post-warmth and pre-nourishment.

We lunched at PieWorks...a regional chain that George and I ate ate 2 years ago after I won a 25.00 off the year before. As native New Yorkers we did not expect or order pizza, yet ate well off their non-pizza menu and enjoyed a couple drafts before he headed to the airport and I to my car to jaunt the 2.5 hours up to 18 degrees and 30mph winds!

This weekend -and leading into it, has given me perspective. If I want to run well, I will need to back of a bit from the p90x training...the isn't to say don't do it-yet save my 100% for running and participate in certain parts of p90x (yoga and kickboxing) with a less aggressive approach. In the big picture, I think what we are doing in that program will enhance my agility, strength and flexibility-yet I want it to complement running and certainly not replace it!

I wound up running 3:19:45 in the marathon and placing 42 of 134 individuals and teams.
What I wore: (top to bottom: Mountain Hardwear beanie, Native sunglasses, Buff (for 1st half), Mtn Hardwear Malina tank, Mtn Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Anorak (This is perhaps one of the coolest pieces of clothing I proudly own...see this post for more photos and information.),  Team USA capris, Sugoi compression socks (love DryMax yet need the seemlessness of socks with my current calf/hamstring condition).

For shoes, I went road shoe shopping as every road shoe I have has seen better days and Montrail isn't quite what I need for 100% road pounding.  My Saturday shopping trip had me walking out of  Fleet Feet Sports in Winston-Salem with a men's 9 Brooks Connect. I know nothing about the shoe except it was light  and without any breaking in, felt fine during the 26.2 mile run and 2 mile warm down...I will still seek out a road shoe for higher mileage and look forward to sampling the next heavier Brooks road shoe: Pure Cadence, yet will surely give Montrail's new Rouge Fly a try (though it is designed more with terrain in mind, than road), I am chomping at the bit to give them a "go!"

Congrats to all the teams and individuals on Sunday! And especially to the freezing cold volunteers and race director. Full results here.http://www.onthemarksports.com/results/2012/2012_02_12_oa_summary.htm

Check out this link to Greensboro's News Record Running Shorts: Eddie Wooten's Blog for a little Annette Bednosky feature on this race! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Annette on BRO TV: This is My Wilderness

A little interview post 23 mile cold run (it warmed up by the time this was filmed!)

OK, so I am sort of self-promoting here. Back on a COLD December Sunday morning I did some filming with a fine film maker and journalist from Blue Ridge Outdoors. Today I received a link to the preview of March's story: http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/photos-and-video/bro-tv/bro-tv-runner-annette-bednosky/

The story features several Southern Appalachian ultrarunners who love to run in the backcountry/wilderness. The whole thing will be out in March. Kindred spirits in running: Dan Lehmann, David Horton and Francesa Conte will be featured. I can't wait to see and hear their perspectives!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 15 of P 90 X

Tough P90X girl, Dreya

OK. For many years I have known that core work, stretching and other kinds of cross-training, done regularly and with quality, would help with running.

Me attempting a P90X pose post run this morning

In another P90X pose...kinda, yet lovin' the 50 degrees post run weather on Feb 5th!

Yet, except for the times I am hurt and have assigned PT (physical therapy) exercises assigned, I am rotten and inconsistent with follow through. That is why back in November, when Stacey,  a staff member  (and strong tough girl) at Little's Health and Fitness was putting the word out about doing a round of P90X starting on January 9, 2012, my attention was caught.

P90X stands for Power 90 days Extreme. It is a DVD program which is based on 6 days of work and a day off. (We are modifying the program to do it M-F from 6am-7am each day).  It works all the muscles of the body (or, least many of them) and includes plyometrics, stretching, yoga, core work and some cardio. Much of this is all new to me, yet all stuff I have seen and have known would help strengthen me as a runner. Adding these 5 hours a week to a training plan for WC 100km on 4/22 is a challenge, yet I am committed, even if I must modify some of the harder P90 days due to the days prescribed running efforts.

Fifteen days in, I am sore in a different spot almost every day! I have taken to making myself Spiruteen shakes post workout in the AM and adding glutamine and some other amino acids on the hard effort days (like Plyometrics).  One of my major goals with this program is to be able to do the Dreya Rolls and Plank to Chaturanga Run as put forth in Core Synergistics. I am pitiful at this point!

Our class is pretty cool...made up of 10-14 folks who come regularly and have different strengths and experiences. The cool thing about this program is we can  all work together at our own level and by mere presence support each other...yet no one slows each other down 'cause we are uncoordinated or not strong or feeling wimpy one day!

Running is going okay right now, still being careful of the sore calf and I usually don't hurt when I run, am quite sore for 12 hours afterwards and than am okay. I had am MRI done 3 weeks ago, yet the doc order the ankle instead of the calf and therefore not an indicator of what is going on. So-at this point, I am still being cautious and appreciating long swims, elliptical and running 4x a week. Today was an 18miler-4 miles solo and than 14 with my running buddies Jackie and Jonathan.
Bro and Sis J & J rock! Jo ran a sub 1:30 1/2 Marathon last month and Ja a sub 3:22 for her 1st full marathon! My running buddies rock!

I appreciate my little 6am group (I usually get to the gym @ 4:45 on a non-running day to get in an elliptical workout before class), yet on running days, when possible I run outside after work. On these days I show up at 5:50 with pillow lines on my face and my classmates declare my car auto drove me there! I think there may be some truth to that!

I have not taken (yet) any before photos or measurements to see how I progress through these 3 months, yet I am tempted to do so-to see how 5 hours of cross training a week can help me be stronger and enhance my running....(Now I need to find a way to un-appreciate red wine, snickers bars and tootsie pops!)

If anyone cares to comment, I would love to hear your experience w/ this P90X program-or what cross training exercises have given you best "bang for the buck"!

Next weekend I plan to run the Ground Hog Gallop 1/2 Trail Marathon and St Valentines Day Massacre Marathon on Sunday. Both as training efforts = no watch! George is coming too, and although he won't be racing, we plan a fun and cultural early Valentines Celebration in Greensboro, NC for Saturday Night: Staying at Drury Inn  and  and going to a Cabaret Performance Saturday night!