Monthly Archives: April 2013

Race Goals for the Summer

Its been 15 days since Bull Run, and I’m already thinking about the next race.  My legs aren’t 100% yet, as I can tell by all the tripping I have been doing lately. My left leg always lets me know when I am recovered fully, and when I still need some time, it tends to check out sometimes and I end up catching that toe on everything.  I expect it will take a few more weeks, but already my legs feel better than they had after the 2012 Uwharrie 40.  Not sure if its due to better, harder, faster training…or that I have been running trails for 2 years, rather than the 9 months of trail running I had under my belt before attempting Uwharrie 40.  Yes, I had to have my first trail race also be my first ultra race.

A few of my TrailHead running buddies are signed up for Highland Sky on June 15th and I hear its as hilly as it is beautiful.  I have heard the Dolly Sods can be anything from terribly hot if its sunny, to windy and at times chilly in heavy rain storms.  I have even heard a section referred to as “the butt slide” decent because its so steep…sounds fun, no?!

Ultimately I have a goal of running my first 100 miler sometime this fall.  Last year I had wanted to run the Grindstone 100, however, an Achilles tendon problem kept me off my feet (and biking or swimming) only all summer. So this year, hopefully, I’ll be healthy and able to train.

I certainly have mixed emotions when it comes to 100s, I have only been running trails/ultras since Jan 2012 and while the prospect of running 100 miles excites, and thrills me, it also terrifies me!  Running 50 miles 2 weeks ago, I certainly felt like I had more in my legs, but another 50?! I don’t know, I guess the only way to find out is, well, to find out.  I do love the training though, hours in the woods, with friends, without friends, with my favorite furry running buddy, our whippet/lab mix Emmitt.  I love the weekend road trips out to western NC to find longer climbs, and gnarlier trails, exploring new places to run, and of course the friendships I have made along the way.


My best running bud

Ahh soaking after Grandfather Mtn

Ahh soaking after Grandfather Mtn


Some TrailHeads on Hanging Rock.

Some TrailHeads on Hanging Rock.

Hopefully my one of my next few posts will be a Highland Sky race report because I am just ready to get out and race again!


Pacing the TarHeel 10 miler

My recovery from Bull Run Run seemed to be going ok.  The first four days my quads were pretty sore, I babied them Sunday and Monday by only foam rolling them and gently stretching.  By Tuesday I was mentally ready to start running again (as was my dog!) So I went out for an easy trail run with friends around a less technical part of the trails, I had very unhappy quads but went home and rolled them, and by Wednesday morning they were loosening up. The rest of the week consisted of easy road miles so I could go visit with friends post race.

Photo by Elizabeth Towe, the 9:30 pace group

Photo by Elizabeth Towe, the 9:30 pace group

7 Days out, and I had volunteered to pace the 9:30 group for a 10 mile race here in town for Proaxis Physical Therapy and Balanced Movement Studio, who provide the racers with pacers.  The Tarheel 1o miler is put on by Endurance Magazine and is one of the largest races in town with a cap of 5000 runners.  There is an option of 10 miles or 4 miles, with the 10 mile having certain pacers that try to help runners reach their PR goals.  Its a fairly large event so the local running store hosts a training program to get encourage newer runners. Many of the other local wellness businesses get in on it as well, so its usually well organized and attended.  One of my favorite running apparel companies, CEP was one of the sponsors, so I took home some awesome CEP compression socks! Score!

I agreed  to run a 9:30 pace thinking that it was all my legs would be capable of doing, I was wrong, it was hard to hold back, but it was lots of fun!  The race begins and ends in the UNC’s stadium.  4 of us lined up and introduced ourselves to the group.  The course is fairly hilly and the start/finish is inside the UNC stadium.  Everyone must funnel through the tunnel, so we explained that we would try to make up the time and bank some time for the last hard uphill by running a bit faster on the first few flat miles.  The course begins fairly flat and winds around the campus, and up and down Cameron street and Franklin, the main streets around town.  It rolls into some of the historic neighborhoods near campus and from mile 6 or 7 there are no more flats.  As a matter of fact, the final miles is an uphill mile and they have a separate chip mat all the runners cross for the “Laurel Hill Challenge.”  Potentially a runner could bomb the entire race, and have the fastest time up that hill, and still win an award.  That final hill is quite infamous. The race is held at a perfect time of year, it started in the upper 40s with a nice breeze and finished around 50 degrees.  Because it winds through so many neighborhoods the crowds are awesome, and the scenery beautiful. April is when all of the dogwood trees and wisteria bloom, it was fragrant, sunny and cool.  Perfect for a run around town.

The competitive part of me cringed knowing this year would not be a PR, (very far from the last time I ran in it 2010, which was 69minutes)  However, another part of me was happy to take on the challenge of trying to hold back and hit a pace that was out of my comfort zone.  We were actually pretty close, our overall pace ended up being 9:21…not too far off.

My husband and his sister also ran the race, she flew down from NYC to join us.  He PR-ed with a 1:12 and she did great running about 8/min mile pace.

Afterwards Proaxis has a massage and recovery tent and there, there was a live band to pump up the runners during the start and finish, and lots of yummy food post race.

Bull Run Run 2013

Smiling all the way to the finish. Photo by Bob Fabia

Smiling all the way to the finish. Photo by Bob Fabia

Bull Run Run

So this is the first race I have ever gone into with some sort of strategy and plan. (Thanks to my friend Edge) I have been really frustrated with my last few races, starting out and positioning myself in first place, only to lose the lead with a handful of miles left and nothing left in my legs was really not working for me. I knew I wanted to run a 9:30 average pace and that the first almost 20 was flat and easy, and the last 30 was hilly and winding. There were never any hills that lasted more than a minute or two up but they were steep rollers and once they started they just kept coming and lasted almost 30 miles. At the start I decided rather than go by pace I wanted to go by effort. I started off conservatively and in the first few miles made my way up to the top 4 women and ran with them. We chatted at a comfortable pace to the first aid station at mile 7.5. I was running with one woman who had driven down from Canada to come run. She just had a huge snowstorm a few days ago, and was worried the drive would be terrible but she was happy to be in the warmth. The other two women were grad students and lived near the trails and were part of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club the last woman didn’t say much. They were all super friendly, and since I had no real time goal that I was pushing for, I just enjoyed their company. Many of the runners were part of the club and they all knew the trails and the other racers. I felt like outsiders must feel running trails around here with TrailHeads. Weird. Anyway, I didn’t need food or water at the first aid station, so I left the other women and found a few new groups to chat with. I moved from group to group making sure I could chat and not get sucked into my usual M.O. of feeding off the adrenaline and just running too hard too soon. By mile 14 I was running with some of the different military groups …there were lots of “sirs” and lots of talk about training. It was at this mile that my water bottle basically fell apart. I panicked for a minute until one of the guys noticed and nicely offered one of his two bottles. It really saved my race because the temps cranked up to 70+ and we were in and out of the sun. I needed that water! I was so grateful that after the race I found him, thanked him and hugged him for his generosity.
After I left that group I continued to keep a steady pace, I stopped running and power walked the hills when they started to get too steep, ran hard down them keeping my heart rate up (my quads are talking to me today) From mile 35 and on I was completely by myself and starting to question where I was. Though most of the race was an out and back from the start/finish, apparently there was a little section that repeated itself (I did not realize this). I started to recognize it as mile 4 and 5 from the start of the race, and began to worry that I had the recent TrailHead curse of running the wrong way! I panicked (fuckfuckfuck) and turned around.

Photo taken from Bull Run Run website

Photo taken from Bull Run Run website

At this point I was getting confused. The garmin said I had 8 more miles to go, but I had just gone through the 45 mile aid station. When I saw the concrete pilings we already hopping over, I remembered Anster, the RD’s directions not to go over them again, I turned around and started running the other way looking for another runner or maybe a turn I had missed. Had I gone just a bit further around the corner, I would have seen red tape leading me a different way, but I didn’t so I ran the wrong way hoping to find someone. Fortunately I only ran a few minutes the wrong way before I met up with someone who knew the course. He told me, in fact, that the finish was only about 1.5 miles…so I turned and ran as fast as I possibly could up the hill to the finish in 8:14…finally a first place! I’m pretty sure I was beaming the rest of the day, ok I still am…

Bottom line; if you want a not so technical but still hilly 50 and scenic race, with that trail runner/family friendly feel to it, this is the race. You know its a great race when people have run it every year for decades! The volunteers all dressed up and were so on target with ice, water, salt, food, bandages and whatever else you could need. Each aid station was like a well oiled machine and every person knew their roll. Everyone seemed to know each other, and even if they didn’t they wanted to talk to you and welcome you into their group. It was an easy race to get to…with an easy drive there. It’s not the mountains, obviously, but was still scenic, and fun! And most importantly, their sign up process is fantastically laid back and stress free! (Has a running group of yours ever crashed a server trying to sign up for a race, yea that’s panic inducing!)

Picture courtesy of Bob Fabia. Me at Popes Head Creek Crossing

Picture courtesy of Bob Fabia. Me at Popes Head Creek Crossing

One note about what I wore. I bought the (above) shorts this winter and have been dying to test them out for a race ever since. They have 2 gel pockets, one back zipper pocket, and 2 other pockets, once on each thigh.  I could carry all my S Caps, several gels, dates, and energy bars I make.  I don’t tolerate gluten so I have to be careful what I eat at races so I usually carry lots of my calories on me. These shorts ROCKED! I thought I would have to wear a back pack or something, but I could cram everything into these shorts. They are tight, but not too tight, didn’t chafe or move a bit!

I have also raced every ultra in my hot pink CEP socks.  Three years ago when I started trail running, the transition from roads to trails was too much strain for my Achilles and I ended up with tendonosis. Ever since I have been vigilant about wearing my socks, not just for the compression, but because I do feel like I recover faster. No fist sized knots in my calves whenever I wear them.  I have yet to try their shorts, but am curious if that would help the quad pain I have from downhill running.

Thanks for sticking with me through my race ramblings.

Tapering for Bull Run Run

It has been a full decade since I started a blog, who knew they were so many changes to the blogworld.

Anyway, the real reason I started a blog is because I am tapering. Taper Tantruming, as I call it.  Running 100+/- miles a week, and then tapering down to very little leaves me with too much energy, and too much on my mind.  So I thought a blog would be a perfect outlet to funnel my excess stress into.

The Bull Run Run has been put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club since 1993 and has a reputation for being a rolling, but not overly technical trail race, and boasts pictures of bluebells like this, Blue Bells Taken by Anstr Davidson

After running the Uwharrie 20 mile race in the cold February weather, I decided it was time to run a race where I could feel my fingers and toes.

This will be my first 50 miler.  I ran the Uwharrie Mountain Run in 2012 and finished as the second female, and 15th overall with a time of 7:34.