Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Journey to ultra running

Many people ask, “Why?” or exclaim, “You’re crazy!” when they hear of the distances Scott and I have run.  We might be a little bit crazy, but it’s a craziness that is filled with fitness, adventure, and fun.  So, if that’s crazy, I’m embracing my inner crazy!

But getting to the ultra-distance doesn’t happen overnight. 

Like everyone, Scott and I both started with very short runs that were interrupted by more stopping than actual running at times.  We gasped and cramped our way through those early days just like everyone.  But then something magical happened and it stopped hurting so much.  The cramps in the side or the legs appeared less frequently.  The runner’s high we all hear about was happening.  To us!

After lots of slow races, paces started to improve and so did our confidence.  We each started to feel stronger and with that, started to flirt with longer distances.  10K’s and half marathons became the new google search.  I’ll never forget my first half marathon (Covered Bridges – Queeche, VT).  I trained so hard for that; so hard in fact that I aggravated my Achilles just a few weeks prior to race day.  I was horrified!  Doctor visit, shoe inserts, backing off on running…..I got to the start line.  No world record, but that distance had me hankering for more.  That year, I ran my first marathon (Disney) with Scott by my side!

After many marathons and a couple of years of supporting Scott at StoneCat, I knew I would run this ultra trail race someday.  I remember thinking, “I could do this” as I cheered on runners throughout their 26.2 or 50 mile journey.  Last November, I did it.  I ran the 50 miler with Scott by my side but am hungry once again to challenge myself in a way that only ultras challenge.

A couple weeks ago, we ran Ghost Train trail race (15 mile option).  There was an ultra option as well, but given the craziness that comes with a new job, I opted not to overflow my plate this Fall.  I did have a plan though; run the 15 miler, check out the course (for how easy to follow, etc), and most importantly, scope out how I think I might like running the 7.5 mile out-and-back a zillion times to complete another ultra distance.  Maybe even longer than 50 miles…..

And this is how the journey goes.  Take a little nibble of a 5K…..chug it down with a heap of half marathon…..take second helpings in the form of a marathon….then for dessert, indulge in the ultra distance!  And within the ultra distance, the sky is the limit!   

So I may appear crazy with my marathons and my 50 miler under my belt, but I felt honored and in awe to share the Ghost Train trails with runners who were accomplishing 100 miles within a 30 hour timeframe…Crazy?  Committed?  Should be committed?  Or just doing what they love and celebrating it with each additional mile?  I’ll take the latter.  

We’ll just have to see how many of those miles I’ll choose to celebrate next year at Ghost Train…J
The smiles on us humans AND pumpkins don't lie.....FUN!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

StoneCat 50 - Support/Pacer Report

A few weeks ago, I paced Carrie through her final miles at Smuttynose Marathon.  She blew up her old PR by about 15 minutes J  Saturday, I jumped in at mile 37.5 to pace Scott at StoneCat 50 trail race.  He blew up his old PR by about 35 minutes J  Hmmmm, have I missed my calling as a “professional pacer PR achiever”?
Scott & Bella                                 Scott, Larry, and Andy
Saturday started out crisp and displaying a sky filled with gorgeous stars.  Since StoneCat starts at 6:15 a.m., the stars were joined by a sea of headlamps.  I had Bella with me as I kissed Scott and wished him a good race.  At lap 4, the plan was to join Scott for his “victory lap”.  The buzz of the runners, the sound of the bagpipes, and the distinct whine of impatient Bella told us the start of StoneCat 2013 was near!  Right on time, the runners were off, disappearing into the dark Willowdale forest.  That’s when Bella and I sprang into action!

For the next couple of hours, Bella and I leapfrogged between the aide stations.  The race staff sure got to know us and Bella loved the extra attention.  They provided hot soups, a variety of water, Gatorade, and coke, and of all things, sizzling bacon!  Bella and I cheered runners on all morning like it was our job.
Looking strong Scott!
After we saw Scott at the second aide station, I took Bella to her favorite doggie daycare.  She’d get some great play time with a bunch of her puppy friends and I’d gain some freedom to enable me to pace Scott later on.  Before I knew it, my leapfrogging and general course support was complete and my work as pacer began in earnest.  By the time Scott completed lap 3 and was ready to pick me up, the temperature had risen to well over 60 degrees.  November in New England – go figure.  Fortunately, I had packed running attire for every season.  Armed with Gatorade and Gels, I lead Scott back into the woods.  

Having run StoneCat 50 last year, I was keenly aware of the degree to which the latter miles can mess with the runners.  Hoping I wasn’t sounding like a bossy wife, I doled out advice and commands as I thought he needed.  Scott knows what to do and what not to do, but there is a certain delirium that sets in somewhere after mile 37.5….

Our lap came together nicely, neither of us fell (during that lap), and we made a great team.  I’m so glad I had my own StoneCat experience to draw from.  I think it made all the difference in the world, because…

Scott PR’d by 35 minutes!!!!!

2013:  50 miles @ 9:21 (34th place)
2010:  50 miles @ 9:54 (51st place)

A number of times on the course and afterwards, Scott thanked me.  But honestly, I was so happy to help in any way I could.  For me, what a bonus to get to support, cheer, and pace – all in the same race.

Scott had a great training cycle, was thorough in his fueling strategy, and planned for everything possible (including packing plenty of salt tablets, which were critical on this warm day).  I’m so proud of his drive, his discipline, and his strength.  And once again, as a pacer to a runner achieving a new PR, I feel like I got another small moment amongst something big for my best friend in the world.  So Scott, you did all the work…I was just there to remind you J