Tag Archives: trail running

This weekend . . .

There are weekends that simply kick your ass and leave you exhausted. This was one of them.

It all started on Friday. I was working (my part time job), but my boss is excellent and is also one of my best friends, so it is hardly like it’s work. We didn’t get together until 8:30pm, and I didn’t get home until midnight. We had a great time of laughter and work. I had tons of energy for some reason, which led to me having a hard time falling and staying asleep!

The two of us reconvened on Saturday morning for a 3.5 mile trail run on the mountain behind my house. I’m still getting out on flat, easy stuff and am loving it. We had an unusually cool morning with a beautiful breeze. It was truly perfect running weather. We found a baby turtle, no bigger than a quarter, in the middle of the trail and barely managed to miss stepping on it. We got him off the trail so he didn’t get squished. After the run we hit up on of my favorite spots in Harrisburg, Mellow Minded Cafe, for coffee. Coffee turned into quinoa pancakes (Ve & GF), tempeh bacon and fresh fruit.

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Yum, right??

After that, I had to hustle home to get showered and dressed for our baby shower. This was the second one that was thrown in our honor, and this one was hosted by my family. It was held at my dad’s fiancee’s house, which is wonderful and was perfect for such an occasion. My cousins and aunt put together a really beautiful day that was perfectly complemented by the gorgeous weather. It was a really special time with family and friends. We received lots of wonderful gifts, but the most special thing I received won’t be used to clothe or feed the baby. No one at the shower saw it because my cousin had my husband give it to me after we left.

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Here’s a closer look at the photo.

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I’d never seen this photo before. That’s me and my mom. Isn’t it wonderful? My cousin found it in her mother’s wedding album and they decided I could have it. I was speechless and shed some tears. I love it so much.

One of the fun things we did was take guesses from our guests regarding the baby’s name, delivery date, length and weight. We already have the name picked out, but haven’t told anyone. It’s fun to check out the guesses. My brother would be the one who predicted I’ll have a 13 lb baby. I sure hope not, but my maternal grandmother was allegedly that weight at birth, so I guess it’s possible!

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After we got home we all went for a walk with Little Dude on his bike. By the time we got home from that, I was beat. I felt like my midsection had been beaten and bruised. I took a spot on the couch and didn’t really leave it the rest of the night.

All of a sudden it was Sunday morning. I was still tired, but rolled out of bed to meet my dear friend Anne for a trail run on the other side of “my” mountain. I knew it would turn out to be more of a hike, but I really wanted to see a particular section of the trail again and knew it would probably be the last time I’d be up for it. We did hike quite a bit of the route, but it was fine. We had beautiful weather again and had a great time. The uphill gave me a hard time, but the steeper downhill was equally difficult. Gravity was pulling on my belly with every step so I ended up walking that part. All in all, though, it was great.

We went to church and then back home for another walk and to prep some food for a campfire event as part of our faith community (my part time job). We got to the campfire around 5pm and our son was GONE. He found the kids and was running around, playing with sticks, tubing in the creek, practicing cartwheels . . . it makes me tired just to think about it. Meanwhile, we socialized and ate a yummy dinner. We stayed well into the evening and enjoyed some fireworks. (If you’re not from PA, you might not think that’s a big deal. But if you live here, you know that you can’t get much more than sparklers here, so having a friend who brings fireworks to a party is pretty exciting.)

We got to bed super late again, and all of a sudden it was time to get up and head out again. Why do we keep doing this?  Today we were off to a trail run on the Appalachian Trail in Boiling Springs. Our running group’s founder and “coach” celebrates his birthday, and America’s, with a trail run every year on the 4th. We hung out afterwards for some snacks and socializing and then headed home. We just wrapped up a cookout with our neighbors and now I’m writing this. Whew!!

The weekend

I have no idea if I’ve ever done a weekend wrap-up, and I certainly don’t intend to make them a habit, but I wanted to share a few highlights with you.

The weekend got off to a great start when there was a knock on the door late on Friday. After I got the dog to relax, I went to the door and saw a package waiting for me. It was my long-awaited, much-anticipated Vitamix!

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I have it sitting on the counter but haven’t been able to use it yet. I’m super excited, though. I think I’ll be making a smoothie tomorrow!

Later that night we actually sent Little Dude to a friend’s house and went out for dinner. We rarely do this, but are trying to find a way to make it a monthly thing, especially before the baby comes. Some friends recently went to the soft opening of a new local restaurant, Vrai, and upon googling it, I found that they had vegan options. Not only did they have items that were easily modified to be vegan, but they had 3 vegan-gluten-ree options. Three! At one restaurant! Around here, that just doesn’t happen. They also had several vegan desserts . . . in fact, most were vegan and only one ice cream had dairy. I felt like it had to be in some sort of bizarro world.

Vrai was great. The atmosphere was great, and it was packed. I recognized a few people, and realized that a lot of locals were there. We were some of the few imports from across the river. The food was amazing . . . so amazing that I just ate it and really didn’t think about taking photos. I did snap one of my entree though. We split an order of brussels sprouts with crushed hazelnuts. It sounded weird but it was delicious. It came with some sort of lemon cream but we got that on the side so S could have it while I skipped it. My entree was a quinoa cake with an avocado cream, tomato jelly and a tangy cole slaw. It was super delicious, but I took a really bad picture. Sorry – I really wanted to eat it.

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S got a shrimp fettucine with a poached egg that he said was fantastic. The great meal was capped off with a ridiculously yummy vegan-gluten-free blondie with a side of sorbet. (It was supposed to be house made chocolate salted caramel but, sigh, they ran out.) The service overall was fine, but a little slow. And they overbooked their reservations, so people were waiting. But they’ve only been open for a little less than 4 weeks so I’m sure that will improve. If you live in the Lemoyne, PA area, get yourself a reservation now.

I got to squeeze in a great 7 mile run on the Appalachian Trail on Saturday morning. Unfortunately it still required gloves and a headband, but it was a nice morning so that was okay. I got in another 4 miles on Sunday on “my mountain” and it was a little better; I was in shorts, long sleeves, no gloves and no headband. Spring is coming.

We (Tree 4 Hope) held our first annual Zumbathon at our local Gold’s Gym on Saturday afternoon. I do not Zumba, but I helped at the event. It was great; we raised over $800 and everyone had a lot of fun. All of the money raised will go towards building Hope Academy. If you’ve missed out on what Hope Academy is, click here and learn how you can help.

I discovered a wonderful song a few weeks ago and ended up pairing with a guitarist at church to sing it at both Sunday services this week. I am not sharing the file of our rendition, but I just have to share the original. It’s just so good. We weren’t nearly this good, but we did our best.

So that was the weekend in a nutshell. I did a ton of other stuff, but most of it’s boring. And the busy weekend left this baby incubator exhausted, but it’s all good.

 

 

100 miles and $1833

I ran the Oil Creek 100 mile race in 2012 after a very successful first attempt at the 100K version of the race. About 10 miles into the 100 miler I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle pretty badly. It held up okay until the 100K (62 mile) mark of the race. At that point, my stomach became a problem and I began to walk a good bit. The slower I went (including a 20 minute stint at an aid station), the more my ankle began to swell. By the time my stomach settled, my ankle was very, very swollen. I didn’t realize it, though, and kept telling my pacer that there was something in my shoe. There was: a lot of extra fluid!

I decided to get revenge on that course, because I knew that I could have done better. My second 100K there was in 2013 and I took an hour off of my time. I felt pretty sure that I could take 90 minutes off the 100 miler distance. But 100 miles . . . that’s a long way. So many things can go wrong. So many things can cost a minute here and a minute there. Those minutes can quickly add up to much more then one expects.

I went into the race on Saturday morning knowing that I was fairly well-trained. I had been getting in some good runs and was pretty darned devoted to my gym schedule. I knew I could have been in much better shape, but I also knew that there was nothing that could be done at that point, so I needed to just do my best. The weather sounded perfect, so there was one worry off the list!

The route consists of three 31-mile loops, plus a 7.7 “coming home loop”. The 31 miles involves 2+ miles on an asphalt bike path. I swear, that’s the worst part of the whole race. It’s pretty flat and BORING. You run it in to the middle school (race headquarters and aid station 4), do your thing and then run back out. If you are a 100 mile runner, you have to do that thing 4 times, once on each loop. Ugh.

Since I’ve done this race 3 times before, and paced Anne through the final loop of her 100 mile race last year, I know the route pretty well. That has it’s pros and cons. I knew when to run and when to walk, but I also knew about all the crappy parts of the run. There are several small sections that I really do hate, and knowing that I have to run them 3 or 4 times just messes with me.

Such a pretty trail! Courtesy - Mikey Markiewicz
Such a pretty trail!
Courtesy – Mikey Markiewicz

Loop 1 was surprisingly difficult. I thought it would be pretty easy, and that loop 3 would be the hardest, but I was wrong. The problem with loop 1 was that I kept doing the math. “When I get through aid station 1 I’ll have 93 miles left. When I get through aid station 3 I’ll have 78 left. When I get through aid station 4, I’ll have completed 50k! But I’ll have the equivalent of the Laurel 70 left.” I couldn’t turn those calculations off. It was driving me nuts. Thankfully I fell into step behind a couple of guys after mile 14 who kept me laughing. Billy and Mike were trading trivia and talking politics and let me join in the fun for a while. Billy was running the 100 miler too, but Mike was bailing after 50K due to a commitment back home (an 8 hour drive).

Running with Billy (r) and Mike (l). Billy dared Mike to click his heels. He totally did.
Running with Billy (r) and Mike (l). Billy dared Mike to click his heels. He totally did.

I was pretty surprised to finish my first loop under 7 hours. I was shooting for 7.5 hours, and was worried that I was going out too fast. If I went too fast, I wouldn’t have enough left in the later hours. My plan had been to take in my calories through Tailwind mixed in my bladder during my first loop, with little to not supplementation at the aid stations. I’m not sure how I made such a miscalculation, but as I started loop 2, I realized that I had run 31 miles on only 600 calories. I was eating the only Clif bar I brought for that loop. I would have another 600 calories of Tailwind on that loop. At mile 62 that would get me to roughly 1500 calories. It was not enough. I was basing my calculations on training runs of much shorter distances where such a deficit wouldn’t cause much of an issue. This was another story. I pulled out my phone and texted Anne to buy me 3 more Clif bars. My plan was to eat 2 per 50K loop, which, when combined with the Tailwind would get me to about 3000 calories. I made a rule that I also needed to grab at least 100 calories per aid station per loop. With 4 of those, that would add another 800. It sounded like a plan.

Loop 2 went much better than loop 1, and I can’t figure out why. It may have been the extra 500 calories, but I’m not so sure. Something just felt different. I really fell into a rhythm. I was alone for all but about 5 minutes of the loop, and I really didn’t care too much. I was totally fine being alone. I prayed a lot. I cursed a lot. I prayed about the cursing. I talked to my mom (who passed away from breast cancer). I talked to myself a lot – sort of like a pacer would. I told myself, out loud, when to run. When things felt rough, I talked to myself about Erica, Vanessa and the girls of Aguacate (more on that later). While I was okay with the idea of not running with the other runners, I really wanted to get to aid station 4 to pick up Anne. I wanted to get out of the woods before dark. I almost made it. I had to turn on my light with about 15 minutes left until I came out of the trees. I got to the 100K (62 mile) mark just before 8pm. I realized that I had beat my 100K PR by about 2 or 3 minutes. That was a shock. And again I was worried I was moving too fast.

Anne and i hit the trail again pretty quickly. We’ve run so many hours together over the years that I think we’ve covered every subject. We rode up to the race and stayed together, so we had already chatted quite a bit. We didn’t have much to talk about, but just having her there made things better. She helped me remember what to get at the aid stations, and kept me from making a couple of stupid mistakes. She listened to me whine. She patiently listened to me say, repeatedly, “It’s mile xx and I’m still able to run!” I was so happy with that part. I managed to keep “running” through the entire race. (By that point, though, I am not sure we can call what I was doing “running”, but I was moving faster than a hike, so I’ll take it.)

I came back to the middle school once again and got ready for my “coming home loop”. I was back on the trail before 6am. I set a goal of finishing by 8am. When I started the race I simply wanted to finish in less than 29.5 hours, which was my 2012 time. I was really hoping for 28 hours. I realized I could hit or break 27 hours, and I became focused on it.

Those final 7.7 miles were rough. We did the first 3 and the last 2 miles three times already. The middle miles were new and I couldn’t remember anything about them. I had blissfully forgotten about the “hill of truth”. It was awful. But it was short. Thank God.

I got to the finish line and I was still running. I knew I missed breaking 27 hours, but I thought it was by a good while. I was shocked and bummed to see that I was finishing only 2 minutes over! I knew exactly where those 2 minutes went. While I was bummed to finish that close to my newly set goal, I knew it didn’t matter. Those minutes didn’t cost me a win. They didn’t even cost me a single place in the finishing order. All that mattered was that I was done. I did it. I didn’t let myself down, and I didn’t let anyone else down.

Mere feet from the finish line.
Mere feet from the finish line.

You see, I made this particular race very public. Everyone knew I was doing it. I didn’t really want to broadcast it to the world because I was afraid of failing, but I was using the race to raise money to build a school in Guatemala for impoverished village girls. I started a GoFundMe campaign and begged everyone I knew to donate. By the end of race weekend I had raised $1833. My original goal was only $500, so this was huge. But going into the race, I knew all of these folks donated because they thought I could do it. I couldn’t let them down. I couldn’t let the girls like Erica and Vanessa down. During those dark times when I thought about quitting, I thought about all of this. It got me through the race. It really motivated me to push hard and do well.

I realized something during this race: I’m not half bad at this ultra stuff. I’ll never win anything, and I’ll likely never even win my age group, but I’m consistently finishing, and finishing strong. I can’t decide what’s next, but I know I’ll keep up with this hobby. I won’t be cranking out 100s every year, but I’ll keep doing the longer stuff for a while, for sure.

Lucky #13 – Laurel Highlands 70

*Wordpress is giving me issues with inserting photos, so you don’t get to see any photos of me looking gorgeous on the trails. I assure you: that was the case.

I mentioned earlier this year that I was training for the Laurel Highlands Ultra 70 Mile race. The plan was to train for it, anyway. After the wreck of the year I had last year, both personally and running-wise, I vowed to do my very best to stay healthy and train well for the Laurel 70 and Oil Creek 100 Mile races. Here’s the recap of 2015 thus far:

January – I pulled my right hamstring during the opening sequence of yoga class. My long runs for the month topped out at 10 miles.

February – The fricking winter weather made it so difficult to run on the trails that I ran on the roads . . . and fell and banged up my hip and sprained my wrist. My longest run for the month topped out at 16 miles.

March – March was okay until the last weekend when I twisted my knee during a 23 miler on a cold and freaking snowy day. After that I had a lot of knee pain and it took until early May to find out that I had tendinitis. My longest run of the year was that 23 miler . . . and it had been a jump from that 16 miler the previous month.

So during the month of April I would rest and then try to run, and then rest and try to run. It was frustrating. I did Broad Street with only a little discomfort, but then the following week was incredibly painful. On Mother’s Day weekend I could only muster up a 5 miler. By the next weekend I decided just to go for it. I went out for 13 and it was okay. Then on the 23rd I did 20. On the 30th I did 30. (And I did those 30 without my orthotics. While it felt AWESOME, it ended up giving me very pissed off Achilles tendons in both feet. I’ve had tendinitis in the left one, so I was worried.) And then I barely ran again until Laurel. It was nowhere near the training plan I wanted, nor what anyone would recommend. I should have pulled out of the race. But I didn’t.

I was signed up not only for the 70 mile race but as the first leg of the 5 person (also 70 mile) relay. My leg was 19 miles. Going into the race, the only expectation I set for myself was to finish those 19 miles. As long as I did that, my team could function as planned.

I mentally prepared myself to have my first official DNF (did not finish). It’s not that I wanted to quit the race, but I was so sure that I would be in so much pain from either my knee or Achilles. While I mentally prepared myself to be okay with quitting the race, I packed my bags as if I’d finish the 70 miles. I gave my crew all of the instructions they would need in case I made it to the end. I lined up Anne to pace me for the last 13 miles. I felt that it was all in vain.

While I assumed I wouldn’t finish, I paced myself as if I would. I took the early miles slowly and tried not to over-do it. I couldn’t help but power up the climbs and pass a whole bunch of people; it’s what I do. But it was dumb. My climbing muscles just aren’t as strong at this point as they should be. While I did well at the beginning of the race, I had no climbing game through the rest of the race. Oh – and did I mention that it was humid? I was SOAKED by mile 2. It was unbelievable. But thankfully there were storms all through the night on Friday and the temperature was much lower than it had been on Friday. Temperatures at the start of the race were in the 60s and topped out in the upper 70s. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we would have had that humidity with temps in the 80s like was originally forecasted. Those fierce storms left the trail wet, but nowhere near as muddy as expected.

I got to aid station #1 (11 miles) in great shape, though I knew I burned up a lot of energy when I decided to zip up the mountain. I saw my crew, which consisted of my husband and Little Dude, Anne and her husband, and our friend Ethan and his girlfriend. She was the only one (aside from Little Dude) who wasn’t running. What a saint she was to suffer through all of this madness for him! Little Dude was pretty groggy at this point since we got him out of bed at 4:30am, and wouldn’t give me a kiss or shake his tambourine. I didn’t take it personally, and instead got some energy from the rest of my team. I hate wasting time at aid stations, though, and was in and out in a matter of a couple of minutes with my water and a couple pieces of watermelon. I got back on the trail and headed for aid station #2 (19.3 miles). The next few miles were unremarkable, though beautiful. I can’t say that I had any issues, nor did I have any super high moments. I was just grateful that I was feeling really good.

At aid station #2 I ended my leg of the relay and tagged off to Anne. I was right on my target pace. She and John got my pack filled with water and my beloved Tailwind (my next blog post will cover this amazing stuff) while I grabbed a little more watermelon, and then she joined me on the trail. She decided to stay with me for her 13 mile section of the relay. It was so nice to have her company. She is the absolute best running partner! Staying with me helped to keep the relay team pretty close to me, making it easy for the gang to crew for me while running the relay. I was already hiking more than I would have liked, but Anne kept assuring me I was fine.

We came into aid station #3 at the Seven Springs Resort and I got super excited to see boiled potatoes and a big bowl of salt. I know that sounds disgusting, and it really is, but when I’m running long, it’s all I want. I gobbled down two baby potatoes with salt and some watermelon and then I saw it – the box of Oreos! I snatched up an Oreo so fast and crammed it in my mouth. Anne commented on how odd that was for me, but hey – those things are vegan so I was good, right? (Wrong – it made my stomach hurt for a few miles. But boy did it taste good.) Anne and I came into aid station #4 at mile 32 pretty happily. In my past two Laurel experiences I had only run sections 1 (once) and 2 (twice). My secondary goal for the day was to see all of section 3. I was very, very pleased to have finished the first 2 sections in my goal time, though I was a little worried that I might be going a little too fast.

Anne tagged off to Ethan for the relay while John got my Tailwind into my hydration pack. At this point I made the switch from watermelon to oranges. Thanks to Tailwind, I didn’t really need to eat; I just picked up whatever looked good and enjoyed a piece or two of it. It was great to approach aid stations this way, rather than scavenging for what I was craving or, worse, what my body really needed. After my oranges, Ethan and I headed out onto the trail. We stayed together for about 2 minutes and then he bounded off ahead of me.

Section 3 (miles 32 – 46) of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) is just amazing. There are sections lined with lush, vibrant green ferns, punctuated with beautiful white laurel. There was a cool rhododendron arch and several rock mazes. It was the most beautiful section of the trail! I was definitely hiking more than I had hoped at this point. As I said earlier, my uphill game was crap. I was pretty upset about that. I ran when I could and hiked the rest. I got to aid station #5 and couldn’t open my bladder. The slide was stuck on the stop of it. Thankfully my friend Don was there to be my angel and help me! Unfortunately he had to pull out of the race early, but at that point I was immensely thankful for his presence. He got my bladder filled up while I grabbed another orange segment. I was back on the trail quickly. The rest of section three was as beautiful as the first. The day was going so well. I felt great. I just felt like a shoe was going to drop.

I rolled into aid station #6 feeling great. I accomplished my goal of completing section 3 and felt good. I knew I would continue through section 4. My husband was running section 4 of the relay and John said he had only started a few minutes before I got there. He thought I could catch him. I thought about trying, so I would have some company, but I was too afraid that I would burn too much energy doing so. A big part of my strategy was energy conservation, so that wouldn’t work! As soon as I crammed a huge orange segment in my mouth a volunteer came up to me and told me I was the 10th place female. I dropped a bit of language with my child nearby, but thankfully the orange muffled it enough that only Ethan and his girlfriend Megan understood me! Telling me I was 10th was the worst thing that woman could have done at that moment! I never considered that I could do so well, and then I became obsessed with it! At that point I had to move on. I crossed the busy highway and got back on the “flat” trail, as John described it.

He lied.

The first half of section 4 was NOT flat. It’s not that it was overly hilly, but it was rolling and I hadn’t expected that. I started to lose a little momentum. I was hiking too much. Things were starting to stuck. Miles 46 – 51 just dragged on and on. It was awful. And then it started to rain. But it didn’t just rain. It POURED. It was ark-worthy. I hadn’t picked up my visor so water was getting in my eyes. I had, though, grabbed my flashlight, but it wasn’t quite dark enough to need that. During the first half of section 4 I was hiking a good bit and my knees were getting stiff. Once the rain hit, though, I was really motivated to keep moving. A guy passed me while trailing a beautiful girl with gorgeous hair. (Really, it’s unfair that she looked that good through the whole damned race. It was ridiculous.) He couldn’t keep up with her, though, and she soon bounded off, leaving both of us behind. He was running very slowly and I wanted to pass him, but whenever I started to walk up a hill, he’d push on ahead. I realized that I needed to adopt his approach. I’m sure it drove him absolutely nuts but I stayed right behind him for miles. That man pretty much saved me. Seriously. If I had kept up my hiking, my knees would have continued to stiffen up. It made the idea of running really unappealing. By keeping that very slow pace, though, I was able to get things to loosen up. I did some high-knees and some ass-kickers. The rain ended up giving me what I needed to get through that section. By the time I slogged into aid station #7 I was chafing everywhere from the wet clothes and I was fairly miserable. Everything hurt, but nothing was particularly painful. I just felt tired and wasted. I knew I was fine to continue, but the rain really sucked. If I didn’t have a pacer for section 5 I doubt I would have mustered up the guts to continue. But Anne was there waiting for me, so I didn’t have to make that decision. I grabbed my headlamp and visor and we took off. I was dead set on breaking 19 hours, so I said, “Anne. We have 4 hours to do this, okay?” Her reply? “Let’s go!” I just love her.

That last section was very muddy in parts – the kind of mud that can suck your shoes right off your feet. We managed to keep our shoes on, which can be surprisingly tricky at times!  Anne and I passed the time by chatting like we always do. I’ve talked to her probably more than I have talked to most human beings on this planet but yet we still find things to talk about. It always amazes me. We ran when I could and hiked everything else. I was intent on finishing as quickly as possible, so I hiked faster than I hiked in the early sections. At least I think I did. Maybe I was moving as slow as molasses. At any rate, I kept on moving. We got to aid station #8 which was on a very long section of dirt road. This was the most interesting aid station yet. It seemed unremarkable at first; it looked like all the others. When they offered me a grilled cheese, I politely declined. Anne told them that I was a vegan and didn’t eat gluten and the one guy said, “We have stuff for that!” It was an odd response, for sure. It turns out that the whole group of volunteers was vegetarian! They offered me a Tofurkey sandwich, but since I can’t really eat while running, I declined. It’s too bad I didn’t have a baggie on me. I would have taken it to go! I was absolutely stunned by that aid station, and it left me giggling on the way out.

The final 8 miles were long – very long. That last aid station came too early in the section, so it made those final miles drag on. With about 5 miles to go Anne told me it was all downhill to the finish. She lied. It must run in the family! We kept trudging on UP and down hills. I’ve been through this stage in an ultra several times now but it’s still hard. You feel like you will never get to the finish, but obviously you will. You simply must keep moving. When you put a dumb goal in front of yourself it’s, well, dumb and it makes things a little extra hard.

Finally, with about 1.5 miles to go, we really seemed to be descending. I told Anne that if we had to go up again I was quitting right then and there. I’m not sure how I thought I’d get home, but that didn’t matter at the time. We continued to descend and started to see the signs welcoming hikers to the Laurel Highlands. Anne said that once we saw “the big sign” we were all but home. Before we even saw it, though, I said, “Screw it. I’m RUNNING!” I picked up the pace and then found that big sign. I continued to run towards the finish line. Thankfully I was paying close attention to my feet because just before the finish line there was a big step with a log along the edge. (Could you imagine falling at that point? That would suck.) I was so glad to be done, but of course I had to find out if I beat my goal. I received my trophy and then asked the race director for the time. He looked at me and knew exactly what I wanted to know. He said, “You did it. You beat 19 hours.” I was so happy.

I was happy and felt great. I couldn’t believe how well I felt after 70 miles and after the training season I had. That feeling lasted about 2 minutes. My crew hadn’t expected me so early, so they quickly dispersed to get my stuff. I was left holding my hydration pack and my trophy with Little Dude sitting there in a camp chair. I knew I needed to walk around for a few minutes and get some liquids, but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t leave him alone. By the time they got back I had to sit down. Then it was all over. I started feeling weird. I didn’t feel like I would vomit or anything, but standing seemed out of the question. I asked for a bowl of salted rice, but when John returned with it, it was if he gave me a bowl of . . . meat or something equally gross. The thought of food on on the whole was revolting, but during my 19 hours of movement I consumed: 1,600 calories from Tailwind, 6 wedges of watermelon, 4 orange slices, 3 baby potatoes (the small canned kind), 5 blue corn chips, the equivalent of probably a half of a sweet potato Anne had roasted for me, one date and one Oreo cookie. According to My Fitness Pal I probably burned about 5,500 calories, so I was certainly in a real deficit. I tried to get my protein shake (mixed with chocolate almond milk) down, but it was hard. It took a while. I told Anne I had to go to the bathroom and she walked there with me. Thank God she did. All of a sudden everything went black. She helped me to sit on the parking lot until that passed. After I was done at the bathroom, she helped me back to my chair. Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom again. What a freaking ordeal that was. I just felt miserable. I was so dizzy. When I got back to my chair again Anne and John urged me to change out of my wet clothes. I really wanted to but didn’t feel up to it. MISTAKE. Within a few minutes my lips were blue and I was shivering terribly. I was wrapped in two towels and a blanket and was still freezing. Finally Anne grabbed some baby wipes and started cleaning off my legs. Once that was done, I decided to get up and get changed. The simple act of getting out of those clothes changed the whole ballgame. I instantly felt better. I managed to walk over to the tent and get some vegan chili. I ate most of that, said goodbye and thank you to everyone, and then climbed in the car.

We were only 2 hours from home but by then it was 2 am and we had been up since 4am. My husband had snagged a short nap during the afternoon and said he was okay to head out. We stopped at a Sheetz for some fuel – not for the car but for us. My husband got a Red Bull, one of those sugary cappuccinos and fried cheese curds. (If that isn’t one of the most disgusting combinations of food, I’m not sure what is. I supposed there could have been bacon involved.) I had him order me some tater tots. I ate most of them and they were delightful. I chugged lots of water and then took a quick nap. I woke up in time to realize his Red Bull was wearing off, so I stayed awake to chat with him the rest of the way home.

This blog is already way too long, so I’ll spare all of the rest of the details. I’ll say that I was stiff and sore on Sunday but really wasn’t in any pain. I was mostly just tired. Generally after long runs I’ll retain 3-4 pounds for about 3 days. That didn’t happen this time. Sometimes I’l have swelling in my legs. That didn’t happen either. It was really a good experience all around with the exception of the rain and that period of time after I finished when I was all loopy. I’m super happy with how the whole day went. I did finish as the 10th place female, which was pretty cool. There were 25 females at the start and only 16 of them finished. When you think of it that way, 10th place doesn’t sound all that impressive, but if I don’t give the race statistics, no one knows!

Oh yeah – do you want to know the weirdest part of the race? It was before the start, at the bathrooms. The line for the men’s room was ridiculously long but there wasn’t one for the ladies room. How often do you see that? Not very often! On Sunday I looked at the race statistics. There were 98 men and 25 women. That’s a pretty huge disparity, don’t you think? I can’t figure out why there are so few women in this race.

The best part of the whole weekend was Little Dude. He was a champ and hung out with our team all day with a smile on his face. He’s been talking about the “adventure” ever since. Since it was hazy and rainy the whole time, he started calling it “Misty Island”, after a Thomas the Train episode. It was all “Misty Island” this and “Misty Island” that. Today he told me that when he’s bigger he’d like to go running on Misty Island too and he wants all the grown-ups to cheer and clap for him. Later when we were on a walk in our neighborhood, he looked at the mountain I train on and said, “Mama…..when I’m bigger….. you and I can go running on the mountain together.”

Oreo cookie cows and bum knees

If you haven’t noticed, and you probably haven’t since I rarely actually write in this blog, I get injured quite frequently. I guess I’m just a fragile-princess kind of girl. Or maybe it’s just because I do a lot of stuff that can cause injury. Since I seem to be lacking a tiara, I guess the answer must be the latter.

Two weekends ago I aggravated my knee during the Tuscarora Trails 50K. I don’t like super steep, rocky, leaf-covered, slightly slippery descents to start with, but since I had those knee problems last fall, I’ve tried to steer clear of those routes entirely. Until that day, I had succeeded. Unfortunately, there was no way around this route. I took it slow, but still could feel my knee crying out for me to stop from the get-go. In the week that followed, I ran more than I normally do during the weekdays since the munchkin I watch was on vacation. By Sunday, I had logged 50 miles – a bit of an increase over what I had been doing. Also by Sunday, my knee was bugging me.

When I woke up on Monday I had some swelling and a lot of stiffness. I decided not to run for several days, but really running wasn’t an option due to my husband’s business trip and the weather (since Little Dude would have had to ride in the stroller). As the week wore on, I grew more and more concerned about my knee. It was more painful on Thursday than on Monday. It was frustrating, but since I know what causes it, I wasn’t as worked up as I was last fall.

I decided to try 3 miles on the roads around my house yesterday morning to see how things felt. The first 2 minutes had me scared. I felt like my knee was going to give out. That quickly passed, thank God, and things began to feel better – not great, but better. Later in the day, though, it seemed to be quite pissed off. Knowing I had a 25 mile run planned for today got me pretty worried. I’m only 8 weeks out from the Laurel 70, so every long run is crucial. I had already changed the route from a challenging, rocky one with a couple of big climbs and descents to a relatively flat, smooth one.

At the start this morning I told Anne that we might run 5 or we might run 25. It was all up in the air. After a couple of miles I decided that 25 probably wasn’t a good idea, but that we’d still shoot for 20. The longer I ran, the better I felt. It was around 50 degrees but windy – OF COURSE! – so it was still a little chilly when we started. But it was clearly spring time. And I was so damned excited! I think I have a form of running-related ADHD or something. I’d be running along, chatting with Anne, and then I’d yell “GREEN GRASS!!” or “Oh my God purple flowers!!” or “Daffodils? Are those DAFFODILS popping up?” and, my favorite, “COWS! I love cows!! MOOOOOO!!!”

What am I? 5 years old?

We hit the 10-mile turnaround, and since Anne is the doctor and my “running mom”, she made the call that, for my knee’s sake, we were definitely keeping the route at 20 miles, not 25. (She made the right call but in hindsight I wish we would have continued on.) With about 8 miles to go Anne was hitting the ladies’ room and I walked on a bit to prevent my knee from getting stiff. I decided to stop to check out the cows. I had a big, dumb grin on my face as I watched them mooove around. (I couldn’t help that.) One was literally frolicking. She’s happy it’s springtime too! Anne then pointed out a cow and told me it was an “oreo cookie” cow.

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She pointed out that one that’s just left of center . . . a brown front end and butt with a white middle. I thought surely she had made up that term for her kids when they were small. But no! I googled it and found out that it’s a Belted Galloway cow and that they are commonly known as “oreo cookie cows”. Is there anything that woman doesn’t know?

After saying goodbye to the cows, we continued on our way. The remaining miles were pain free, warm, sunny and just generally wonderful. I even ditched my long sleeves and ran the last 4 miles in a tank top. WOOHOO!!!!! We encountered a bunch of day hikers, a few section hikers, and several runners also out enjoying the beautiful weather. We reached the end of the run feeling great, and checked out some ducks by the creek. All in all, it was a great run.

As I write this, I’m feasting on a super-yummy post-run meal. I like to make lots of stuff in big batches once a week so I can just throw stuff in a bowl and squirt some sriracha on it when lunch time rolls around. It makes life easy with two hungry little ones. It also makes life easy when you’re tired and HUNGRY from a long run. Today I decided to warm everything up rather than just eating it cold on top of spinach. I melted some coconut oil in my cast iron skillet and added some cubed (previously sauteed) tofu, some roasted butternut squash, some roasted broccoli and a copious amount of turmeric. (My friend Ashleigh reminded me of it’s anti-inflammatory properties so I figured it could help my knee.) I’ve never used much turmeric, and threw a LOT in the pan. Everything turned yellow-orange. At the end I threw in a little spinach just to wilt it. I put that all on a plate and squirted some sriracha on top. It was absolutely delicious!!
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I hope it’s finally spring time where you are and that you are getting out to enjoy the sunshine!