Monthly Archives: June 2014

Thoughts before Bighorn 50

Tomorrow I am hopping on a plane that will fly me out to Denver Colorado, from there we will drive up to Sheridan WY and my first race at altitude.  There are a wide variety of races to choose from, every distance from the 100 mile, 50 mile, 50k, and finally the 30k.  11 of my friends opted for the 100 mile option, and a few others for the 50k and 30k.  I will be the only one in the 50 mile.

So how do I feel? Am I ready?  As I lay awake last night, I thought about all the training I have completed leading up to this weekend…and of course I thought about all the things I could have/should have done.  I closed my eyes and tried to relax and imagine myself running in the Bighorn Mountains, quickly getting through aid stations, starting slow and relaxed, and hitting the downhills hard.  Does this imagining myself in the race help?  I don’t know, but it sure helped me relax and fall asleep.

I try to remind myself about all the weekend long runs out in the NC mountains I have done.  Grandfather mountain twice, T.W.O.T once and the 3 weekends I ran 30 miles on the trails nearby my house.  In addition to that I spent several weeks building speed and practicing good form; 800-repeats, hill repeats, and stadium running.   Looking over my training plan I realize I have really prepared as well as I can, minus being able to actually prepare for altitude.

The 50 mile race starts out where the 100 milers turn around, at an elevation of 8,800 feet, then it rolls up and down and up and down to the finish at 3,970.  The race description and videos I have found online promise beautiful views, pretty wild flowers, and maybe even some interesting wild life.  In Karl Meltzer’s race report he was actually chased and kicked by an angry Moose, guess that’s what happens when you lead the field and end up startling all the wild life first!  (He went on to finish and win the race, so never fear..he’s fine.)  I am hoping to see some wild life–but only from a distance of course! (Check out the scenery in this video)

So now its taper time, what have I been doing?  Well, work has been busy, so there’s always that to take my mind off of the taper tantrum.  I have also been practicing yoga with a friend, Hollie, in her Jiva class, and of course keeping up with some easy cross training…mostly bridges, planks, and calf raises.

If you are interested in following my drama this Saturday, June 21st my race # is 578.  Follow this link and look for my splits in the 50 mile race.  For those of you that know my friends here are their numbers: 100 milers

186- Replay, 189 Gilly, 200 Gumbi, 261 Bypass, 300 Bobcat, 327 Remus, 331 Snuffy, 338 Ringo, 343 Grub, 351 Lynx, 370 Icarus

50k: Juice 855

30k: Spinz 1006, wingnut 1434

In the meantime, this is what is happening all over my house…clothes, food, gels and hydration packs in groups all over the house.  Yeah, my very clean and orderly husband looooves it when I taper 😉

Gear list

Shoes: Lone Peak 1.5 (Though they are coming out with a new version I hope to test out soon!

Shorts: Lululemon Dart and Dash short (5 pockets, and 0 chafing! can’t beat that!)

Hydration: Orange Mud Hydraquiver


T.W.OT; or The Wild Oak Trail

View from Big Bald

The Wild Oak Trail.  Wickipedia says “To complete the entire loop, various guides suggest devoting a day to each of the trail’s three sections.” Three days? Who has time for that? I had a day, at most, and realistically more like 20 hours to drive up, run it, and drive back to be home for family activities the next day. No problem!  Especially because there are two times a year that this loop is part of a fat ass 100(+) miler….three days, that’s just silly.  People loop it 4 times in 48 hours!

I left my house a bit before 4am and met my trail running partner in crime, Replay, at his place.  After 4 hours of driving some back country roads we arrived at the trailhead.  The parking lot was nearly full, it was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too humid, we were ready.

Sections of this loop cross over the Grindstone 100 course, so much of the first 10 miles I recognized from the Grindstone preview (I was unable to run Grindstone 100 due to a government shutdown last fall, read here.)  The start of the course was pretty muddy and buggy, but as we ascended quickly the annoying gnats left us.  The first 10 miles felt easy, and fun, and I kept remembering what it was like the last time I ran that section.  (I also remembered the ever annoying black flies that pop up soon after the gnats leave!)

The 25.6 mile trail is broken up into three sections: FDR 96 to SR 718 – 10.2 miles, Camp Todd to FDR 96 – 5.2 miles, and finally FDR 95 to Camp Todd – 10.2 miles.  Our loop came out to be closer to 30 miles, we missed a turnoff and ran downhill for a few miles before we realized our mistake and headed back uphill.  If you would rather skip the getting lost part, there is a very detailed mile by mile account you can read HERE.

Elevations along the trail vary, from a low of 1,600 feet where the trail begins at North River Gap, to a high point of 4,351 feet on Little Bald Knob.

We hopped out of the car around 9:30, ready and eager to go.  Replay had run the course earlier in the year (it was covered in snow at the time,) but he remembered most of the trails, so I deferred to him and was happy to let him lead.

Replay cooling off, and washing off…after a little trail love.


It was a pretty hot day, but the climbs were nice and the views were well worth it! Almost all of the loop is spent running/hiking up or downhill.  Some of the grades get as steep as 32% and the path is rocky and full of roots.  Still it was so nice to be out in the mountains, and I was happy to be there.  However, 10 miles into the run I realized the wet spot on my shirt wasn’t from my sweaty pores, but from my water pack.  The mouthpiece had sprung a leak and had drained almost half of my water.   I put a kink in my hose, and continued on, hoping that the what was left would be enough.

As the day wore on, I realized I was getting quite thirsty…and a tad grumpy.  Not wanting to be a running bummer, I kept it to myself and pushed on.  Replay signed up for his first 100, Bighorn and he had lots of questions.  I was relieved to have all the questions to take my mind off the mentally low day I was having. Eventually I told Replay I was running out of water because my pack was leaking, and he was very nice to share.

SO many lady slippers!

We continued through the lady slipper trails, and past a small waterfall, and eventually crossed a wide (but only shin deep) river at Camp Todd.  This is also, coincidentally, where I ran out of my own water.  I didn’t want to hog his water, so the last 10+ miles were not my best.

I was hitting a low, when I suddenly heard Replay call out, “BEAR!”  The bear was much more surprised than we were, and it took off down the side of the mountain.  Even though we knew the bear had run off, it didn’t stop our hearts from racing, and we picked up the pace down the hill.  Unfortunately after a few miles Replay stopped and announced, “I don’t remember this part at all, we missed a turn, we have to go back UP!”

Ok, I thought, back up, not just up, but up with no water…and possibly back up past whatever yummy the bear had been eating.  I silently chanted, “please no bear, please no bear.”  All the while feeling silly because I knew the bear wasn’t interested in us.  Thankfully we came across the dog-legged trail crossing we had missed and found our way back to the car, bringing the day to about 30 miles, and 7.5 hours.

Usually I can enjoy my running trips to the mountains for exactly what they are; good training, and really nice views.  I often end the day feeling satisfied and at peace having spent several hours away from civilization and with friends.  This time, however, I left feeling a bit disappointed.

I felt very strong last summer on these trails, attacking the down hills, pushing the uphills, this time there was something missing.   Bighorn 50 is just a few weeks away, so its too late to change anything for that.  The fall will bring Grindstone, and the Barkley Fall Classic.  Apparently in order for me to be competitive I have quite a bit more hard training ahead of me this summer!

Its good though, something fun for me to look forward to! 🙂


Non-traditional Body Maintenence for Runners

As a runner we all know pain.  Many of us have torn, dislocated, sprained, or tendonitis-ed ourselves into an injury at some time or another.  Usually before we are sidelined there are signs of impending injury.

So what do you do? How do you recognize these signs and when you do, what do you do about it?

First, don’t rush speed work.  Usually having a solid base will keep you from injuring yourself during a training cycle.  What do I mean by a base?  Aerobic running for several weeks.  I like to get in 8-12 weeks of aerobic (injury free) training when coming back from an off season.  4-6 weeks of all out speed training is usually as long as I want to push it before a race. More than that usually leads to burn out.

So you are building your base, and getting little twinges here and there…what do you do?  Aches and pains are always normal, what is important is how we deal with them, heading off major injury.  Often more running is a cure, the only way to get better at something is to practice, but in order to keep our bodies running like a well oiled machine there are several different therapies I have tried.

Here are my reviews;

FOAM ROLLING(trigger point therapy)– This is part of my daily routine for injury prevention.  I actually own a hollow pvc pipe for serious muscle knots.  This is the first step to self-myofascial release.  Other great tools are golf balls and lacrosse balls.  They really get into tight muscles and help bring back range of motion.  Word of warning, do not roll over joints with these tools, they are for soft tissue only.

YOGA I have several running friends who teach yoga and are in-tune with active stretches that are beneficial to runners.  Single leg standing poses help with balance, inversions are good for lower leg circulation, and hip openers facilitate good running form. I try to do this weekly, several times is probably best, but in a time crunch once a week will do.

MASSAGE  There are many types of massage techniques, to be effective it should be a deep tissue, or bodywork massage, nice relaxing massages are great, but aren’t exactly beneficial for race training. (It is wonderful post race, however.) I have two favorite people I go to, David Beadle and Carolyn Levy.  I see them when foam rolling won’t release stuck tendons.  Usually ITB problems are relieved by bodywork.  My ITB is one stubborn tissue and I don’t weigh enough to release it on my own.

GRASTON This technique is one of my favorite techniques.  I liken it to getting my “tires” rotated.  I usually walk out with some interesting bruises, and I won’t lie, it can be painful, but building mileage, or adding in speed work will create little adhesions in your legs, and after it is always feels so amazing to get that range of motion back.  It is described as a “patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively detect and treat scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function.”

FELDENKRAIS Some people have running coaches, or do running drills to help with their running form.  I have a PT who is a Feldenkrais practitioner.  I get muscle aches and pains often, but when something doesn’t respond to foam rolling or other methods of myofacial release methods, I usually know that my pain is due to improper mechanics.  For example, this winter after running a mountain race, I expect stiffness and aches.  I had a bit of pain in my knee, I poked around and discovered I had a really tight ITB and when I rolled it out it aliveated my knee pain completely.  Everything is connected, right? (So says the song “the knee is connected to the leg bone…”)  After working out the soft tissue kinks, I still had hip pain, and was aware enough that something was turning that food outward medially.  Feldenkrais addresses our movement by making us body aware.   The mind-body connection is strong, and just telling someone to do 100 squats won’t correct a lousy gait.  Sometimes it really is all “in our heads.”

Finally, ACUPUNCTURE.  I do not use acupuncture for aches and pains, I have used it for endocrine/immune system recovery. This is my story with acupuncture. The first time I went to an acupuncturist, and also wholistic practitioner, I had been dealing with a stubborn case of giardia for 7 months.  An herbal concoction, and certain eating pattern finally did what western medicine had failed to do, cure me of GI distress.  Then onto last summer, for fun, a friend and I decided to see, at the end of a 3 month build up, how far we could run in a week.  He hit 200, I was right around 160.  I then decided to sign up for Grindstone 100 a month later.  Last fall, due to government shut downs, Grindstone was cancelled, and after all that running and preparation, I was crushed.  I know it was just a race, but all that time, effort, and stress it caused in my personal life…I was just emotionally devastated that I had worked so hard for nothing.  Fortunately I was really lucky to be able to jump into Pinhoti, a month later, but the emotional and physical stress was too much for my immune system.  (I did have a wonderful race, led the women’s field for the first 1/3, had a low in the middle, and came back to finish 5th in the end.)  It left me just wasted though, I was breaking out in hives, couldn’t sleep, was irritated, didn’t feel like running.  I gave myself time off, ate healthy, slept a lot..but still wasn’t feeling myself.  I thought perhaps I was allergic to some sort of environmental irritant so I went to my acupuncturist.

He looked me over, noted the hives my runny nose and my overall itchy body, and stated that I was still having an inflammatory response to the past few months of stress (both physical and mental).  After going to see him twice, and having some painful pricks (usually they are sort of unnoticeable) my hives cleared up, and I was back to training.  This is of course, my own personal experience, but I have to say it was pretty amazing.  It helped with my overall inflammation, and he said it could help with more localized inflammation as well.

Philip Kosdan is who I see, he is not only an acupuncturist, but also has his M.A. in Chinese Medicine/herbs.

I know there are lots of other therapies out there, what are your favorites to keep you running strong?!