Tag Archives: racing

Cruel Jewel 50 2017: using a bad race at the start of the season for future racing gains.

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Leaving mile 31, feeling great!

 

Back in Feb I ran Black Canyon 100k and had a disappointing day.  I can’t blame anyone but myself coupled with a touch of bad luck, however, what I did do was listen and take what that race was telling me and fix the problems.

The first problem I started to address was some wacky gait pattern.  My best guess is that when I fell and gave myself a concussion last August and then ran Run Rabbit Run 105 mile race just 19 days later with complete bed rest between the fall and the race I picked up, and reinforced a weird tight limp I had from the fall.  Things that REALLY hurt during Black Canyon had just started to hurt during Run Rabbit Run.  Clearly training through the pain and hoping that I could correct my gait myself wasn’t working, so after the race I started visiting Brian Beatty at Balanced Movement Therapy on a regular basis to address this problem.

Second problem: nutrition.  I have been ultra running since 2013 and the right fuel plan has been ever elusive.  When I first started ultra running I was a vegan, which was actually great for recovery, but I just don’t build muscle, so I was really tiny and not very powerful.  In 2015 I added meat back into my diet, being aware of where the meat was from, and if it was raised responsibly and with out hormones.  I gained some strength, but still had energy highs and lows(crashes) during races.   My friend, Sam, recommended the book ROAR this past March, which really helped me gain a lot of insight to fueling and recovery for women.  Its a book specifically for female endurance athletes.  It addresses the different hormone changes throughout a woman’s cycle and how different times of the month need different fueling strategies.  A lightbulb went on for me!  Training got better, I changed my hydration strategy, I ate more protein after exercises, added in good carbs during high hormone times, and I gained muscle, and got leaner.  I weigh much more than I did back in 2013 as a vegan, but look fitter and trim, no more weird skinny fat around my middle.

I also stopped trying to drink my calories; separate food from hydration.  I found that Skratch works best for my hydration needs.  THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!  I wasn’t bonking due to low calories, I am pretty sure I’m an awesome fat burner while at ultra pace…I was DEHYDRATED all along!! So how did this all help?  Well, even with unseasonably hot weather, and a nice stretch of pavement mid day, I stayed hydrated THE WHOLE RACE! (read no energy dips!) I didn’t eat any more than usual, I think I ate one beef jerky stick, 3 or 4 picky bars, bone broth I made, and also a home made smoothie at mile 30 a few chips, a salted potato, and some gummy bears.  Not a lot of calories, but I felt really great.

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All of us at the start

 

So if you’re here for a race report, the course is the same as it was in 2015, with the finish being slightly altered due to some down trees. You can read my race report from 2015 here.  I was a few minutes behind my 2015 pace into the first crewed aid station at mile 25, but I stayed positive, being mindful that there was so much more race ahead, and it would eventually cool down.  The mid day heat was HOT and I felt feverish around noon.  Fortunately this is where my crew had an ice bandana for me that helped immensely.

The first half of the race is the “runnable” half, while the second half is where the technical steep climbs come in.  I switched out my Orange Mud Hydraquiver, for the Endurance pack because the time between aid stations would get much longer and I didn’t want to get dehydrated so late in the day.

As I ran the “dragon spine” or the Duncan Ridge Trail, I remember exactly where things went bad for me previously, but this time I felt strong and ran all the sections I had opted to hike the last time.

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Getting a little encouragement butt slap from my honey.

The last 8ish miles are straight up Coosa Bald for a mile with no switch backs, and then back down over rocks and roots for roughly 5 miles to a water stop, and then more gently up for 2 miles and back down for a downhill finish into Vogel State Park.  This is where I picked up time.  I was feeling awesome! I ran/hiked up to the top of Coosa, paused at the top and braced myself for the long downhill.  By this point my quads were TOAST.  Coming out of Black Canyon I had aggravated my Achilles tendon so during training I was more conservative so I didn’t do any downhill training.  I put my head down and told myself from there on I was going to suck it up- ignore my quads and run–and run I did…down the hill, pausing once or twice to make sure I was going the right way.  I didn’t stop at the water stop, just cruised right by smelling the barn…in 2015 I think I mostly hiked from the water stop to the finish, I was not going to do that again.  Just as I ran over the bridge here the wind picked up, and I saw a tree fall over to the left of me….like I needed any more motivation to keep running.  The cold rain felt amazing, and the thunder and lightening made my hair stand up.

I didn’t once look at the time on my watch after cresting Coosa, 11+ hours had passed. I knew I wanted to better my last Cruel Jewel time of 13:33, I actually stopped and told myself here that I could do it if I just went for it, and I did!  I was shocked to see the blinking red lights of the finish line clock through the driving rain still under 13 hours!  I was ecstatic!

12:57!  36 minutes faster than my last CJ50, and 33 minutes better than the women’s CR of 13:30!  First place female and 3rd overall!  The rain continued into the night, and stopping only as the sun rose. We stayed up to watch every last Trailhead finish. Congratulations to you all!

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12:57 New Course Record!

 

I have to give thanks here to Carson Footwear and Everett’s support, Orange Mud and Josh for the hydration packs! Big thanks to my coach Meghan Arbogast too!

Also, to ET and her lucky crew pants.  I so appreciate having you there to boss me around, to Liz for her first 50–you were awesome!  Thanks for the fun birthday weekend, and for the training runs.  Thanks to Brian and your magic PT, thanks Lawst, Galoot, Nymf, Riff, Kyle, Elliott, Steep, and Tim for getting in on the weekend fun. Congratulations on your races as well(and for your crewing)!  Saving the biggest thanks to Drew and Emmitt, thanks for being my guys and supporting me. love you!

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The Lonely Road of the UltraRunner

I read lots of articles daily about running, as I am a person who has sole focus when I commit to a thing.  Articles about hill training, or long runs, or pacing, strength training, about doping, and all sorts of other things that make up our wonderful sport.  But few on what happens when you really commit yourself to a training plan and a desire to excel in a field.  What happens when your training plan no longer allows you to just show up and run with your local running group because you have an important workout the day that they all meet, and the usual 5-6 mile jaunt through the woods isn’t what’s on your plan for the day?  Want the real world truth?

Solitude.

Solitude is what happens.  If its an LSD it can be hours alone with your thoughts.  Perhaps if its a speed workout you’re brain is too occupied trying to remember how many laps you have done in the mile repeat, and then how many mile repeats you have just completed, oh… and don’t forget keeping an eye on that pace/split you are supposed to hit.  In reality those brain occupying, pain inducing workouts are becoming somewhat of a relief to my over-thinking solitary brain.

Do I miss my social running buddies, yes.  Do I feel guilty when I show up at coffee or a morning run on a rare day that I don’t have an important workout and I am greeted with “where have you been,” “you do still exist”–of course.  Do I wish I could be everywhere and have everything– don’t we all?  Instead I have traded in my early morning social runs (so I am not a night time zombie and can actually have a conversation with my husband) for mid morning runs–or even sometimes sneaking in an after work run.  I have prioritized getting adequate sleep, and recovery (and of course work and family.)   And yes, I miss you all!

Do I regret this?  Not really.  I’m not driven by overstretching myself and trying to squeeze everything in.  I don’t feel compelled to give into the societal pressure that tells me I need to do everything, please everyone.   I realize I cant.   When I’m all in- I’m all in.  I’m a person that when I choose to focus on something important to me I am able to let go of regrets.  I realize that most of my life is a consequence of choices I make, and the rest I can’t control–so what is there to regret?

I thrive on single minded-ness.  When I have a few things on my plate that I put as much of myself into that I can.  And I do.  Spreading myself thin doesn’t make me satisfied.  I don’t want to be a jack of all trades, I want to be a master of few things that are important to me.  So right now running, running fast, and uninjured is my free time desire so my single minded-ness has altered my journey onto a path of solitude — for the moment.

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Competition; Why Do Some of Us Put Ourselves Through the Emotional ups and downs of Racing?

Its that Uwharrie time of year again when my TrailHead running group spends all of Dec and Jan preparing for their 40,20, or 8 mile trail races in the woods of Troy, NC.  I love that this race is such a big focus for my running group, its so nice to have so many people to train with during the dark and cold winter months.

Uwharrie, for me, was my very first trail race..it was also my very first Ultra, and was also my very first time placing in the top three over all (not just in my age group.)  It launched me into my ultra career (if you can call it that..)  Either way, it holds very special memories for me, but I am not a person that tends to do the same race over and over, so this year I am not running it again.

Several of my friends and training partners are, however.  Some people get stir crazy and have loads of energy, some people get grumpy, others get phantom pains, and of course others get all of the above.   It reminds me of my dreaded taper tantrums, which I have come to both love and hate.  (My husband just mostly hates my taper tantrums,) but they are part of being a competitive runner.  Now when I say competitive runner, don’t misunderstand my meaning, I think everyone can be competitive if they choose…whether its competitive with yourself, with a certain time goal, with people in your age group, or competitive with the whole field hoping to win overall.

Most recently I was talking to one of my friends, Jordan, who is hoping for an overall win.  He has trained hard, recovered correctly, and eaten right.  He has the physical, psychological, and emotional potential to win Uwharrie outright and is currently in that emotional holding pattern right before the race where this imagined weight is crushing him.  The weight is that of his expectations, and of other people’s expectations…but mostly his.  He knows right now that he has all this kinetic energy that is loaded up in his legs to potentially carry him a win, but there is always the unknown that can bring you down and mess up your desired outcome.

We can only control our preparation, and our planning, its impossible to control race day mishaps.  To some people, this lack of control drives them nuts in the 48 hours leading up to a race.  We get moody, we get angst, we can’t concentrate or relax….so why put oneself through this?

My answer:  It makes me feel more alive, it makes the thrill of hitting or surpassing your goal that much sweeter!   Its the same way a terrible defeat can make a later victory that much better.   Do it for the ear to ear grin when your hard work pays off!