Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Good day for running

The trails surrounded this lake
This morning, I joined Meaghan for a 10 mile trail run – our last long run before Stonecat.  It was a glorious Fall day, the sky was clear, and there seemed no disturbance could be possible (ahem, unless you consider the impending hurricane Sandy!).  Our run was a huge success in that neither of us fell.  We each did our share of tripping and ankle rolling, but nothing too drastic.  

After our run, we hung out and chatted by our cars.  We lingered a little longer because the kids’ cross country team piqued our interest.  They were a young group, but their coach certainly had them moving.  We found ourselves cheering on the front runners and encouraging the stragglers to finish.   A boy finished first and a girl finished right on his heels for second.  What happened next wasn’t all that dramatic, but it really touched us both.

Finisher 1 and 2 started walking towards the rest of their oncoming team mates.  Each kid, digging deep with faces flush, got a “C’mon, you can do it!” or “Way to go!” from Finisher 1 and 2.  They were so supportive of their team mates and it was such a testament to their sportsmanship and the camaraderie I tend to see with runners.  We also saw one kid arrive late for practice, receive his lecture from the coach, and head off to start his practice – alone.  By the time “late kid” was approaching his finish, I once again heard cheering - the team was cheering him in to his finish.

This might all be very ordinary to some, but I was touched by the scene I witnessed.  We all know that the competitive spirit sometimes brings out the worst in people, but not today and not with these young kids.  Kudos to their parents, their coach, and most importantly, to them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dressing for Success

What to wear for Stonecat 50?  Hmmm…. Based on the weather forecast, I’m thinking I might settle on this get-up:


Well, if you’re in New England and caught up in the Hurricane Sandy hype, you know why.  The storm is supposed to blow in dangerously close to the New England coastline prior to race day – phew!  However, if it’s the rainmaker it’s supposed to be, the 50 miles of trails I’m slated to run will be a little muddy.  OK, a lot muddy.  Stonecat is notorious for at least one good sized water crossing.  There’s no way around it; you just slog through it.  Some wear plastic bags over their shoes, but most just run through it and hope for the best. 

I’m like everyone else in that I check the weather prior to any race.  I try to avoid getting stressed out about it, but use it more to be as prepared as possible for whatever conditions I get that day.  I’d prefer a bright, cool-ish day of course.  You know, the kind where you start out in layers and slowly lose the layers as the race goes on.  50 miles is a brand spankin’ new distance for me, so I imagine there may be lots of layering, stripping, re-layering, stripping again. Rinse, repeat.

Since I can’t control Monster (oops, of course I meant Mother) Nature, I’ll choose to control how I pack and how I mentally manage a potentially 12 hour day of running.  I’ll be prepared for sun, rain, wind, snow, and even locusts.  I’ve trained too well to be distracted by a hurricane.  I am woman-runner, hear me roar!

9 days....SHRIEEEEK!!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Every day, I am thankful for my Mom.  She’s healthy and she’s happy.  She’s a writer, an artist, a sister, an auntie, a grandmother, a friend, a mom.  I’ve written before how Mom continues to amaze me with things she does that inspire me; started running in her late 30’s/early 40’s, became an RN in her late 50’s, picked up and mastered the art of mosaic tile art after our Thelma & Louise trip to San Francisco a few years ago, immersed herself into the writing community, attending writer’s conferences and submitting her work…..the list just goes on.

Most recently, she has officially signed up for this:

She’s really pretty awesome.  In fact, she freakin rocks!!

Now in her 60’s, she will add this, her first marathon, to her overflowing list of accomplishments.  I hope to be able to do it with her. 

This post is dedicated to my Mom on her birthday.  I’m so grateful Mom to have learned so much from you in my 46 years thus far.  I look forward to learning and being inspired for many birthdays to come.

I love you.
Tea with Mom in Carmel, CA '10

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Yin-Yang Marathon (a race report)

Wikipedia describes yin-yang as literally meaning "shadow and light"; it is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn in relation to each other.   And that is the best way to sum up my running of the Green Mountain Marathon this past weekend!!

Scott and I headed out Saturday for the long ride to Vermont.  We picked up our numbers, got a little warm up run in on the bike path in Burlington, grabbed some lunch, and then drove a good part of the race course.  All done on a gorgeous, sunny day.
However, here’s what race day morning looked like from the inside of our warm, dry car:
The early morning rain stopped in time for the race start – hooray!  The winds, however, were there to stay.  Heading out on the first half of the course was the strongest tail wind I’ve ever experienced.  I was flying!  I felt strong to start and knew immediately I was “on”.  I was also in tune to the tailwind.  So was my watch…..8:05…..8:10…..(OMG, must slow down)….8:07….(what?  I said slow down!)…..8:30…..(not slow enough)….and so on.  I finally resigned myself to the fact that, on and out-and-back course, I would at some point succumb to a strong headwind and be forced to slow down. 

Because of a short turn off of the main road, the head wind didn’t unleash it’s full force until mile 15.  Talk about a wall – of wind!  Actually, it reminded me of last year’s Cape Cod Marathon.  Remember that race?  The winds were so strong and cold in Falmouth that I nursed an ear ache for 3 weeks!  The challenge of Green Mountain Marathon’s course was also it’s draw; a beautiful island connected to the mainland by a causeway, showing off vast farmlands and pretty bays along the way – which meant there was no protection from the lake effect winds.  I joked to fellow runners that it was easier running that day than manning a water stop.  Those volunteers worked their butts off chasing down empty cups that turned into cardboard missiles!  They were everywhere…

I finally slowed down around mile 17.  I needed to stop fighting the wind so much and had to slow the pace to keep myself together.  Nothing really hurt; I was simply exhausted from the wind.  On the final long hill (mile 24 to 25 – perfect placement, right?), a girl came up beside me and encouraged, “We’re almost done”.  That one little comment helped me conquer that last bad-ass hill with a renewed focus.  Shortly after that, I slowly passed other runners all the way up that hill.  One carrot-top guy was walking in that “oh my God, when will this end?” way we all recognize from running marathons, so I yelled, “C’mon, you’ve GOT this!”.  I think I startled him, but he did answer, “Thanks, I needed that”.  God I love the running camaraderie in the later miles of a marathon.  Or maybe it’s desperation.  Whatever it is, it’s cool.  At mile 25 (top of that godforsaken hill), I found an extra gear and willed myself to stay in that gear until the Finish.

Again from Wikipedia, “Yin and yang are not opposing forces, but complementary forces, unseen and seen, that interact to form a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.”  I had 2 very opposing but complementary halves of the Green Mountain Marathon that formed a greater whole.  I had the first half of 8:XX minute miles that made me feel like a rock star.  And I had a second half of 9:XX and 10:XX minute miles that forced me to claw my way through the final miles.  As fiercely as the wind, rain, and cold attacked, I felt nothing but calm as I picked off the miles.  I celebrated those miles I felt like a rock star and I leveraged the tougher miles as practice for my upcoming 50 miler. 

A cold/uncomfortable/solid/great/tough/memorable/challenging/exciting/rewarding day. Marathon #12 (aka Yin-Yang Marathon) is in the books.  Smile at the finish line....mission accomplished!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marathon #12

Harsh conditions today, but any day I complete 26.2 is a good day :)

Race report to come!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's alive...It's alive!!!!

Oh how I’ve missed you… A little Garmin CPR and you're as good as new!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Burning the candle

Saturday was a gorgeous New England Fall day.  I cleansed the soul by running a 12 miler in the morning and chasing that with several hours of yard work, weeding, and preparing some newly planted trees for their first Winter.  When I finally came indoors to take care of some household tasks, I added to my Zen-like day by burning a nice scented candle and enjoyed the quiet of a Saturday afternoon.  Although soothing, that candle reminded me that I’ve been burning my own proverbial candle at both ends…..

My training for Stone Cat has gone far better than I could have hoped.  I feel ready physically, but more importantly, I feel ready mentally.  After a 31 mile training run (6 hours), my mind proved that it was ready to take on another 19 miles and possibly another 6 hours on race day.  During this training cycle, I’ve felt exhausted at times and I’ve felt the pangs of an insatiable appetite at other times.  But the training has felt surprisingly manageable and extremely satisfying.

Work is another thing altogether.  I love my job, but the volume of work has reached epic proportion.  One of our coworkers recently left the company, so the two of us remaining team mates have taken on that workload in addition to our already heavy load.  I welcome being busy and honestly, that’s when I’m happiest in my work.  However, this crazy volume and the feeling that I constantly need to be “on” has generated an exhaustion level greater than that of my ultra training.  Saturday night culminated in the work rendition of hitting the running wall, in the form of insomnia.  And Sunday found me working through much of the afternoon and into the later evening.

I think training is easier than work, and of course it inevitably ends and results in a race day.  Work is ongoing, and if you’re me, it’s a pretty big part of my life.  I do enjoy what I’m doing, but have to remind myself (constantly) that what I do is not going to save the world or someone’s life.  It does matter of course and I take great pride in what I do – whether at work, on the running course, or putzing around in my yard.  And I’m a better person when I’ve got a balance going.  So at the end of Stone Cat, I hope to have the experience only a 50 mile race can provide and a finisher’s jacket as my reward.  At the end of this week, I will have a weekend where I don’t open my laptop. 

OK, maybe to read a blog or two or three….