Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Hug at Hellcat

“Go get Purple….” 

This past weekend, Scott and I jetted off to Jacksonville, FL for a long weekend.  We explored the city and the beaches and found ourselves a trail race to run.  The race, Hellcat 10K/30K/50K, was held on Saturday morning and was comprised of a 10K loop around historic Lee Field in Green Cove Springs.  This is the home of the US Navy’s F6F Hellcat fighter from WWII.  The website described the course as “no roots or rocks” and “runners will go thru scenic cypress swamps with an abundance of wild life to include gators, deer, bear”.

Gators?  Gulp.

There was no elevation to speak of, which also meant the swampy areas were almost level with the trail we ran on.  I kept a watchful eye on anything resembling the aforementioned gators.

6.2 miles of flat, root-less, rock-less trails….easy, right?  Well, normally I would’ve said yes.  What’s not been so normal is that I haven’t been doing all that much running lately.  I figure the desire to jump back in, really run, and register/train for races will return.  It always does.  So for this race, I was purely there to enjoy a destination run and hang out with running peeps in a different state.

Per standard race protocol, I started out on the faster side.  With Scott running alongside, it was natural to try to match his pace.  I kept the pace for a couple miles and started to feel my lack of running around the half way mark – both lungs and legs.  I stayed at a touch slower pace for the next couple miles, praying for it to be over.  Not necessarily the run itself, but the terrible feeling of knowing I can do so much better.  So, I felt all the feelings as I continued kicking my own ass for the final two miles. 

It was at about mile 5 that Scott uttered those words, “Go get Purple”.  Breathless, tired, and sprinkled with discouragement at how I felt, I gasped, “I don’t know if I have it today”.  But of course Scott never heard that since my words were probably drowned out by my lungs screaming in protest.  So I continued running, with a new found focus on “Purple”.  Slowly, I crept up on “Purple” until I was passing her.  Finally entering the finish chute, I stopped my watch, came to a halt, and willed myself to not throw up.

Now, I’m not usually this dramatic when describing a race.  But this was how it truly went down.  Feeling out of shape, wondering if I would finish, and discouraged at even having those thoughts was a huge weight on me.  As I collected my finisher medal, I came to my senses and remembered how grateful I am to be able to run.  

I suddenly spotted “Purple” who finished shortly after I did and approached her, “Hey there, just want to thank you for being my rabbit out there.  You really helped me”.  That’s when “Purple” turned to me and said, “Oh my God, thank you so much for saying that.  Can I hug you?  Seriously, you have no idea what that means to me!”.  So along with my hard fought medal, I was also awarded a sweaty hug from a grateful stranger at Hellcat.

Seems I wasn’t the only one struggling out there. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Today’s canvas

After not running for over a week, I was grateful for Scott’s invitation to run with him along the West River Trail.  We eased into the day, starting our run at about 9am.  Initially, we drove into some rain showers but could see the sun shining ahead of us in Vermont.  We hoped to get us some of that.

And we did!  We got into a nice groove and never saw anyone on the way out.  It was a peaceful way to start the day and I was happy to be running.  The sound of the rushing West River, the brilliant sunshine, and the mild November temperatures provided a perfect canvas for our run.  

We turned around at the four mile mark and that’s when the photographic shenanigans began.  Scott has such a natural way of making the run fun.  I ended up with an additional .5 to my distance because I needed to “run back there and run towards me!” so Scott could get a particular shot.  So our return 4 miles became all about the photography and silliness.  I’ll save you from the many shots taken and just post my favorites:

Monday, November 20, 2017

You get what you give

Tonight, we installed a cheap window shade.  For $5.00, we didn't expect much, nor did we need much.  As we cut and tore and ripped (not part of the plan), we ultimately installed this temporary shade and high fived each other.  We also agreed I would be in charge of any handling of this shade (read: man knows not his own strength).

You get what you pay for.

In running, you get the run you trained for.

And in life, you get what you put into it.  Simple as that.

I describe this past year as chaotic at best.  Not bad, just all over the place.  It was a busy year professionally and personally.  My balance felt not so balanced a lot of the time.  I started to dread my training runs.  Then I started to not do my training runs.  This was not the training I had in mind to prepare for Ghost Train 100 miler. 

My eventual downgrade from the 100 mile distance to a lesser distance was the right step for me and took the pressure off of me.  Though I still needed to dig deep for my newly committed to 30 mile distance, I was fairly certain I could manage the remaining training I needed to complete in order to finish the 30 miles.  Of course, the day of the race brought all the feelings of FOMO, but I never doubted my decision once I made it.

I just hadn’t trained for 100 miles this time.  So how could I expect my body and mind to carry me that distance?

Ghost Train was one month ago and I couldn’t be happier about my experience.  I started my training with a bang and ended on a much quieter note.   I got to run 30 miles with my friend Sue, be a part of her first ultra, and then run Susanne in for her final 10 miles to her 100 mile finish.  

Whether its money spent on cheap shades, effort spent on training runs, or time and energy devoted to the right things and the right people in your life, you get what you put into it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Don't think

Ever since I began running distances, I’ve found the mental strength as important if not more than the physical strength.  The long run provides a good balance of time and endorphins to help me process, solve problems, and tap into my creativity.  The long run removes the noise and allows me to think.

Many of my longest training runs have incorporated multiple loops where I headed out with a plan to return home, grabbed stashed food and ventured back out for more loops.  What got me out on those multiple loops?  One mantra:

Don’t think.

I’d often say the words aloud, “Don’t think”.  Whether spoken aloud or in my own head, that mantra worked.

Recently, after a long day at work, I gathered up my running clothes and dashed off to change.  Of course, knowing my fellow Scores Running Club friends would be there helped motivate me to dive into the cold darkness.  But once again, I leaned on my old mantra friend:

Don’t think.

Whether it's four miles after work or a forty mile training run, the toughest part is getting out there.  Darkness by 4:30 pm, cold temperatures, snow, ice, (I imagine locusts are next??), all contribute to that lethargic feeling that is winter running. 

As usual, within the first mile or so, none of that matters and I feel good and healthy and happy.  Ironically, because I choose “Don’t think”, my run allows me….

To think.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Squeezing 101

During our breakfast run this past weekend, I chatted a bit with Frank.  Frank has a young daughter who is an absolute spit fire!  Every picture or video he posts shows a little one very enamored with life.  Frank said something along the lines of, “she sure squeezes every bit of life out of every day”.


Not a new concept, but wow.  Live like you’re dying, dance like no one’s watching, and on and on…..  But how do we do that?  How do we channel that inner young child and squeeze every bit of life out of every day?  Most of us are pulled in a variety of directions, whether its work, parenting, school, community, or even play.  We’re all allotted the same 24 hours a day, within the same 7 day period, etc.   There are times when one area becomes busier than another, and sometimes work takes over and “work life balance” takes a back seat.

While this thought was swirling in my brain this morning, I headed out to work on a very foggy morning.  As I approached my favorite part of the drive, I was struck by the eerie, yet beautiful scene the fog laid out for me.  I thought about taking a picture, but a car came up quickly behind me, forcing me to continue on.  I almost shrugged the moment off, and realized I was disappointed at the prospect of missing a really cool photographic opportunity.  At the next available driveway, I turned around to head back and grab the moment. 

Can't decide which one I like better....this one?

......or this one?

As expected, arriving approximately three minutes later to work didn’t shut my company down.  But that three minutes gave me a satisfying feeling of taking time to do something that made me happy.  While Frank’s daughter performs flips and runs circles around him, my version of “squeezing every bit of life out of today” started with a u-turn and a couple of photographs.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Who’s YOUR inspiration?

Today, I watched Shalane win the NYC Marathon after 40 years of a non-USA female winner.  Three years ago, I screamed in excitement at our TV as Meb won the Boston Marathon.  Inspiration isn’t just about who wins the race; it’s more about who tries, who gives their all, and who demonstrates in a way that inspires others.

Twenty plus years ago, my mother started running.  She ditched her decades long smoking habit and hit the 5K and 10K routes.  She inspired both Scott and me to start.  And from there, we’ve gone distances we never even dreamed of.

Before moving from MA in 2016, one of my inspirations was a local girl who got out there (what seemed like) every day and made running look easy.  I never knew her name and she never knew she had an impact on me, but there were many times I got out for a run because of her.

Just this past July, Scott ran his first 100 miler at VT100.  It wasn’t his finish time that was as impressive as was his attitude.  Yes, finishing in 24:37 was indeed impressive.  More inspirational?  I never saw him without a smile on his face.  A few weeks ago, friend Susanne ran her first 100 miler and many times referred to Scott’s “happy running” and that was how she wanted to run her race. 

This morning, I jumped aboard a “run to breakfast” group run with my running club friends.  With a point to point 11 mile route and an out and back option, there was something for everyone – with a breakfast reward at the end!  I chose the out and back option and got to run with several, catching up, cursing the mud, and talking up the breakfast we were all working towards.   This group is comprised of individuals with individual goals, but together, we inspire each other.

Regardless of distance or pace, we are all inspiring someone.  I am grateful for all of the inspirations in my life (running and non-running alike!) and challenge myself to be the best I can be – someone might just be looking at me as their inspiration. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Vermont 100 Crew Pre-Work

When I ran Ghost Train a few years ago, I knew that I would depend heavily on my crew to help get me through the distance.  Scott held down our home base, cooked for everyone, tracked me, massaged my feet, and encouraged me throughout my journey.  The rest of my tribe ran with me, massaged my Achilles in the middle of the night, sang with me, and dressed in Christmas lights.  Whatever it took!  In July, I will take on this important role of crewing for Scott, as he heads into his own 100 mile journey at Vermont 100!

Today, we took a drive to VT to scope out the area.  This scoping expedition wasn’t for Scott,  Nope, it was for me.  If any of you know me at all, you know by now that I have no sense of direction.  And since VT 100 is not like my Ghost Train 7.5 mile route that runners repeat until complete, I will need to navigate through the back roads of VT.  At night.  For up to 30 hours (race cutoff).  The farm areas we saw during our drive were gorgeous and hilly.  As in, ears-popping hilly.  Also, every street sign seemed to signify more hills (i.e. Silver Hill Road, etc).  Hopefully this road sign doesn’t represent too much of Scott’s experience:
Yes, this is a real sign in the area!
I’m super excited for Scott!  His training has gone really well so far and I’m looking forward to helping him get to the finish.  It’s starting to get real, as we turn the calendar to June.  A few more lonnnggg runs for Scott and he’ll be off and running for 100 miles!!

Is it too early to start weather stalking???