Sunday, December 30, 2012

Run Like the Wind - 12 Hour Race Report

Training for a 100 mile trail race means lots of long, self-supported training runs, which can be challenging to execute without significant planning … or, my preference, finding races that match your training distance and enjoy a long, catered training day.

My training plan called for a 40 mile run on December 1 or December 8, so I had the choice of running either the old Sunmart 50 miler in Huntsville or the 12 hour Run Like the Wind (RLTW).

Running Huntsville would have been great prep for Rocky (same course), but Mark (co-conspirator for Rocky 100) was only available December 8. I could have run Huntsville solo, but if you are going to run 100 miles with someone else, you better train long with them as well. Also, secretly, I really wanted to try RLTW … the .6 mile loop really appealed to my anal retentive nature and I liked that it was a format that I had never tried before.

The .6 mile loop had a lot of character, twists and turns and tree coverage so it was actually quite enjoyable. It only took 89 laps to have it fully memorized!

I have to say I was a bit unsure how to mentally tackle the 12 hours, other than to break it into smaller segments, which was still a bit overwhelming the first couple of hours. There were four races happening simultaneously – the 3, 6, 12 and 24 hour races, so for the first 3 hours the course was pretty full. There was a significant drop off at the 3 hour mark and then again to a lesser extent at the 6 hour mark. Mentally, at 6 hours, I had to stop myself from saying, “you are ONLY halfway there”. There were probably 20 of us between the 12 and 24 hour race so for the last 6 hours the course was pretty quiet. The nice thing about the short loop though, is that you still see people often.

Ultimately, we broke the race into 4 mile blocks (that’s when we stopped for food), trying to mimic the distance between aid stations at Rocky Raccoon. Ironically starting slow made my legs feel heavy, like they were missing much needed pep in my step, but I knew it was going to be a long day and that most of the people flying by me in the early laps were running much shorter races. It was a pretty warm day too and I just wasn’t feeling awesome, I was ok, but tired. I ended up taking a 5 Hour Energy around the 3 hour mark that definitely helped my mood and thankfully it didn’t make me sick (I had tried 5 Hour before, but not running).

It’s funny, the first 3 hours felt long, but when the clock actually hit 3 hours, it was a bit of “wow, already 3 hours!” The next 3 were similar. It got dark between 6 and 9 hours and the race totally changed. With the drop in temperature, Mark and I both started to feel a lot better. If there were any “bad” hours they were early in the race and then again somewhere in the 8 to 10 hour range. The last 3 hours felt like they passed the fastest with the last hour passing in a blur.

Our families who dropped in and out throughout the race were there for the last hour and a half, and that helped too. We typically walked the .6 mile after eating and my boys joined us on one of those laps and loved it. Flashlights in the dark on a foresty trail – how fun!

We passed the time by coming up with funny names for the various turns on the course and coming up with nicknames for some of the other runners – mainly the 12 and 24 hour crew.

The turns were named (in order):

-Trashcan Turn
-Trash Can 2, Electric Boogaloo (aka The Sequel)
-Orange you glad there are chairs there (aka the retreat)
-Smoke'em if you got'em
-Agility Alley
-It’s all downhill from here
-Delirious decisions
-Wrong Turn
-Toilet Turn

These names evolved over the 12 hours and two of the names came in the last hour, so it really was an all day activity.

Some of the fun nicknames for the other racers – Happy Feet (Austin who was always in a good mood), Bacon and Eggs (dude had cool skull tattoos on his triceps that were made out of bacon and eggs), Vibrams (Dat who did the race in Vibrams) and we were named by Austin the “Dynamic Duo”.

Speaking of Dynamic Duo … one big realization I walked away with was that the only thing harder than running 50 miles (and later 100), is running those miles with another person (or more specifcially the same other person). The company is great and to be clear, I wouldn’t trade it, but the flip side to that is that it is unlikely you will both feel good at the same time, bad at the same time or have to stop at the same time for things like bathroom stops. This works for us but it takes serious commitment to stick together.  Just ask Mark how he felt when I was sick in the woods earlier this summer at Reveille Ranch and he watched the majority of the field run by.

Back to RLTW, the race director, Sam, is an AMAZING cook, and he does a heck of job catering this event. We ate well every 4 miles (and obviously could have done so every .6 miles). Gourmet grilled cheese, ham and cheese, burgers, veggie burgers and the staples like PBJ and boiled potatoes … and so much more.  I seem to recall various pastas and lasagna.  Oh and delicious potato soup!

Bottom line, I highly recommend trying out this race format and I give this particular race an A+ for support! We got t-shirts (not technical, which is my preference) and medals (all finishers received the same medal) but the real gem is in the core support crew that was ready, willing and able to make sure we had everything we needed.

Oh, as for results, we ended up with just under 53.4 miles (my longest run ever!) in 12 hours, which was good enough for 2nd and 3rd place overall for the 12 hour race (in an admittedly small field)!

Another step closer to the Rocky Raccoon 100!

Top 12 of 2012

The end of the year for me, like many others, brings reflection.  In years past I have totaled my mileage for the year or graded myself on goals set versus progress. 

I came into 2012 without any major goals, a fact which I struggled with quite a bit, so that means no report card ... and I didn't keep track of my mileage as well as I have in the past (I seem to be getting a bit more relaxed), so my reflection of 2012 is a look back on reminders, lessons learned and pearls of wisdom I gained over the last 12 months. 

Oh, and for those of you who are new here, I did finally stumble across a few goals for 2012, including a big one which will spill into 2013.  This summer I raced several short triathlons (even placing in my AG!) in an effort to go fast and have fun while searching for a bigger goal ... which is running 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon on Feb 2/3, 2013.

Without further ado, in no particular order ...

1 - Completing a race and racing a race are very different feats. 
This one might be obvious to the rest of you.  I "knew" this already, but I really experienced it this year.  In my 100 mile preparation I have used a lot of races as training runs.  Going into a race that is really a training run means finishing the race with something left in the tank, sometimes a lot left in the tank.  This makes a huge difference in how I feel the days after the event.

I did do some racing this year, mostly short triathlons and the Chicago Half Marathon.  I PR'd the Chicago Half at 1:44:14 without a lot of speed work to prep.  I had a good mileage base because I had already started my Rocky 100 training, but the weekend of the race I played tourist walking around Chicago and the weekend before I did a 60K.  Race morning I decided to jump in with the 1:45 pace group and hold on as long as I could ... and I held on!  My legs, however, were trashed for days after the race.  Compare that to the 12 hour race I did in November where I logged 53 miles and felt absolutely fine the next day.

2 - Making time for recovery is important.
I never used to pay much attention to recovery, in fact I lamented about not having time for recovery back in 2009 when training for IMFL.  I don't know if my age is catching up to me or it is simply what I am asking my body to do, but I am finding that I need recovery.  Rest days, foam rolling, the stick, and most importantly, my NormaTec Recovery Boots.  I can say with confidence that the boots have made a HUGE difference in my training and recovery.  Check out my product review on the boots for more info.

3 - Learn to be flexible with your nutrition.
Consider this ... you spend your season dialing in your nutrition.  You have it down to a science and you are ready to execute your well researched plan on race day.  You start the race and all is going well ... but at some point become turned off by your nutrition of choice.  Now what?  Practice variety and you will be ready.  I know that I will be racing for 24 to 30 hours at Rocky so I am planning for the unexpected.  My staples will include a variety of PowerBar products (link for product review), PBJ, boiled potatoes and potato soup. 

4 - It's all in your head.
Fear.  Doubt.  Pain.  Your mind will play tricks on you if you let it, so don't let it.  In the words of Christopher Robin to Pooh, "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

I put this into practice at the Reveille Ranch 60K when I was sick to my stomach with a twisted ankle and a blister the size of a half dollar.  Check out the linked race report on my experiences of overcoming pain and adversity during a race.

5 - There's more than one way to skin the cat (no offense to the cats).
Another obvious one.  For every person training for a triathlon, marathon, ultra, there are another 10,000 people training for the same aforementioned event and they are doing it differently than you are.  Find what works for you and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.  I have to repeat this mantra when I find myself comparing my weekly mileage and race schedule to others training for Rocky.

6 - It's all perspective
Whether I am running 4 miles or 50 miles, the last 2 miles are my "victory lap".  If I set out to run 4 miles, running more than that would feel like a chore, but if I set out to run 20 it isn't a chore.  It's perspective because it's all in your head (see #4).

7 - Everyone needs a little help sometimes
Everyone starts as a rookie.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  I feel really lucky to be a part of some pretty incredible organizations like Rev3 Triathlon, Bicycle World and Fitness and more recently Tejas Trails.  I learn so much from my teammates and other athletes that I race and train with.  Social media makes it so easy to get connected to others that have the same interests and goals that you do.  Finally, to quote Dr. Seuss, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

8 - Support those that support you
See #7 and #12

9 - Don't just go through the motions
I know that I am guilty of this one.  Do speed work on speed work days and hills on hill days.  Time on your feet, in the pool or saddle all matter, but pushing yourself is what makes your better, faster and stronger.

10 - Size matters
If your dreams don't scare you, they may not be big enough ... also see #4.

11 - Don't be afraid to try something new
My kids are so bad about this, I have no idea where they get it? 

Kids: Mom, that looks soooo gross. 
Me: Have you tried it? 
Kids: No.
Me: Try it! (followed by bribes or threats)
Kids: Hmmm, that is good.  I want more, please.

Once upon a time there was a girl who did all of her running on the road because she didn't think she liked running on trails (or even a dirt path).  That girl is running 100 miles on trails in just over a month.

12 - Pay it forward
I love this one.  A good reminder for all of us.  Pick up a piece of trash on the trails, give away that encouragement you got when you really needed it to someone else who needs it.  Give away a gel if someone is without, share your extra batteries, tissue ... you catch my drift!

That's it ... those are mine.  I would love to hear a few of yours!

Monday, December 17, 2012

PowerBar Energy Blast - Product Review

Since starting my 100 miler training, the most frequent questions I get are:

1 - Why?
2 - How long will it take?
3 - How and what do you eat?

I don't have a noble answer for #1, really it is just because I want to do it.  #2, Rocky allows you up to 30 hours to finish.  Other 100 mile races have different cut offs.

Now, for #3 ...

I am a big believer that being open to variety when training and racing these distances is important.  You never know what your body will crave or worse, not desire, at any point.

For me, the backbone of my nutrition plan are a handful of my favorite PowerBar products coupled with some solid food I will enjoy along the course.  I plan to eat at regular intervals, but I never know when I will need extra fuel, so PowerBar products are in my pack and at the ready. The PowerBar Performance and Harvest Bars, Energy Gels and my favorite the PowerBar Energy Blasts in Cola flavor with 2x Caffeine are my staples.

What I love about the PowerBar Energy Blasts gels is that I can take my calories in gradually, enjoying one energy blast every 10 minutes or so.  This works great for me as small rewards for making progress and as a way to take in fewer calories if I just need something to hold me over to the next aid station.  Six Energy Blasts gel filled chews are the energy equivalent of one PowerBar Energy Gel.

Also, unlike my experience with Cliff Shot Blocks, they don't get hard, even in cold weather, so they are easy to chew and they don't hurt my jaw.  They remind me of my favorite cola gummies I used to eat when I was growing up!

What's important to me and why I use PowerBar products is they are specially formulated for athletes to provide our bodies with what we need while we are pushing ourselves.  I know that I can trust PowerBar to provide the balance of nutrition I need to perform at my optimal level.

The science behind PowerBar's Energy Blasts filled chews ...

They're formulated with PowerBar® C2MAX dual source energy blend, a 2:1 glucose to fructose blend found to deliver 20–50% more energy to muscles than glucose alone and improve endurance performance by 8%.

Key features:

- Taste great!
- Provides more energy to muscles with C2MAX
- Resealable pouch
- No preservatives or artificial flavors

PowerBar Energy Blasts gel filled chews are available with or without caffeine. My favorite, the Cola flavor contains 2X caffeine which is 50 mg per 6 pieces, 75 mg per pouch.   So, any guesses on how many individual chews I will eat over 100 miles? :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

NormaTec Recovery Boots – Product Review

This product review is long overdue. If we are friends on FB or your follow me on twitter (@irondreams) you have heard me talk about spending lots of quality time in my NormaTec Recovery Boots. The boots have become an integral part of my training and recovery program in my preparation for the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler.

As a “weekend warrior” I have been guilty of neglecting my recovery - I even blogged about not having time for recovery in September 2009. What I have learned since then is that recovery is not just important for optimal racing performance but it is also incredibly important for injury prevention. I firmly believe that I have been able to ramp up my mileage and execute important workouts with minimal recovery time after long runs thanks to my NormaTec Recovery Boots.

The best part about the boots is that I can put them on and then just sit back and relax while they do all the hard work on my legs. I have even been known to fall asleep with them on. This may not seem like a big deal to everyone, but I know that there are others like me who know they should use TV time to stretch, foam roll, do core work, etc., but I just like to be lazy sometimes and the boots let me be lazy while engaging in serious recovery!

Bottom line, I highly recommend them.  Look for them at your next race, they often have a recovery tent where you can try out the boots after you race … and they are at all of the Rev3 races.

Finally, I am not a scientist, so I will leave the science to NormaTec, but take my word, these boots work!

The science behind NormaTec boots …

Sequential Pulse Technology is based on normal physiology, and it synergistically combines three distinctive massage techniques to speed the body’s normal recovery process.

1) Pulsing: Instead of using static compression (squeezing) to transport fluid out of the limbs, Sequential Pulse Technology uses dynamic compression (pulsing). Our patented pulsing action more effectively mimics the muscle pump of the legs and arms, greatly enhancing the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout.

2) Gradients: Veins and lymphatic vessels have one-way valves that prevent backflow of fluid. Similarly, Sequential Pulse Technology utilizes gradient hold pressures to keep your body’s fluids from being forced down toward your feet by the pulsing action in proximal zones. Because of this enhancement, Sequential Pulse Technology can deliver maximum pressure throughout the entire limb and the effectiveness of the pulsing action is not diminished near the top of the limb.

3) Distal release: Because extended static pressure can be detrimental to the body’s normal circulatory flow, Sequential Pulse Technology releases the hold pressures once they are no longer needed to prevent backflow. By releasing the hold pressure in each zone as soon as possible, each portion of the limb gains maximal rest time without a significant pause between compression cycles.

While a healthy athlete’s body eventually will recover from an intense workout, using the Sequential Pulse Technology found only in a NormaTec Recovery System for just 20 minutes can speed recovery.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wild Hare 50K Race Report + 4 miles

Short report:
This was by far my favorite trail race yet. I LOVE this course! I loved the mixed terrain and especially the fast down hills where I felt like I was a little kid dancing in the woods. Honestly, I was a bit amazed with my own confidence in how fast I was maneuvering the down hills and the rocky terrain by the 4th loop, it was almost an out of body experience. Oh, and I love the loops. I would do a 100 out here if given the chance – Joe?? It is definitely a well supported, well run race with great volunteers, plus fun goodies (cool race medal, technical shirt, great burgers and Shiner beer). I highly recommend it!

Long report:
Wild Hare is held at Bluff Creek Ranch in Warda, Texas. It is a 7.85 mile trail that is used mostly by mountain bikers and it is a great mix of semi-technical single track, with sections that roll up and down with a good mix of flat and open trails. Note, I am flat lander, so what I call rolling up and down, others may not even notice. There are only two big climbs on the course, both in the second half of the loop.

There were 4 races going on simultaneously – a 50 miler, 50K, 25K and 10K. The 50 milers started at 6 am, 50Kers at 7 am and 25Kers and 10Kers at 8 am. I like this set up because it brings more people out for the races, but I do wish there was an easy way to distinguish which race any given runner was competing in … this will become important later in my race report.

The 50K was 4 loops on the course with aid stations at 3.5 miles and at the start/finish line. It is pretty spectator friendly because the aid station at 3.5 miles is within sight of the start finish line, so spectators can easily walk back and forth between the two spots to cheer and support their runners.

My goal for this race was to keep my lap splits as even as possible, run strong but not blow up and to not lose too much time at aid stations. I skipped my hydration pack for this race and opted to just carry a handheld and used that and pockets on my clothes to carry a couple nutrition items. I had easy access to my gear and crew (my patient and devoted hubby, Doug) at the aid stations so I didn’t need to carry much. I had peanut butter crackers for my pre-race meal and joined the 100 other 50K runners on the starting line.

Race morning was chilly, so I layered up in a beanie, gloves, running capris, running tank, bolero and running vest. I knew I would be taking layers off as the day progressed, another reason I loved the looped course. I started with the top 25% of the field and waited to find my stride. It takes me a good 5 miles for my body to take over for my mind when running trails. The first 5 miles are typically when I will have an early ankle roll because I am over thinking, so I was diligent and a happy that I was not running in the dark. I don’t like to run bunched up with a lot of other runners because I like to have full view of the trail, especially in the early miles. This becomes less important as the race progresses after I have found my stride and I am in my comfort zone. So, surprisingly, after just a couple of miles I found myself, well, by myself. Basically I was in between the top group and the rest of the field and I stayed here most of the day.

Loop 1: I found my stride and locked into my race pace (which varies depending on lots of factors, including how I feel on any given race day). The cool weather definitely helped on Saturday. I ran the entire lap, even the two steep up hills. I have run this course before, so I got re-acquainted and was happy to not have any issues. I stayed on top of my hydration and nutrition - PowerBar Energy Blasts for calories.

Loop 2: Got rid of the beanie and gloves, filled up on water, added sunglasses and a headband and inhaled a quarter PBJ at the start/finish before taking off. Felt a lot more confidence heading into loop 2. I chatted with a few more people on this lap, which I always enjoy (yes, I am THAT runner) and was happy to see Doug at the aid station. I ran the entire lap again, but was a bit slower on those steep uphills. PowerBar Energy Gel and a quarter PBJ fueled this lap.

Loop 3: I took off my remaining layers and felt awesome in the brisk air in a running tank and my leggings. At this point, I started to wonder how many women were ahead of me … hmmm. I passed a few and I knew there were a few ahead of me, but how many? I tried to ignore my competitive inner dialogue (like a devil on my shoulder) reminding myself to run my own race (the angel), to keep moving forward but I still found myself stalking a woman in a yellow t-shirt ahead of me. It was great to have a pace bunny. I ran into more traffic this lap and chatted briefly with the people I passed, some doing the 50 miler, some 25Kers. I passed the woman in the yellow shirt towards the end of the lap but it was because my natural stride and pace dictated it was time to pass. More PowerBar Energy Gels and PBJs. I had a few random cramps, but ran through them ok. I ran the entire lap, but walked the two steep uphills, which I swear were getting steeper each lap. The brief walks and change in my stride helped me stretch my hamstrings.

Loop 4: Doug was supportive as ever and wished me well on my last lap. I stopped to re-tie my shoes because they were loose and I didn’t want so much play in my shoes. While I was adjusting my shoes, the lady in yellow shirt passed me. Crap! I had to tell myself that it didn’t matter, I was racing my own race. The start of this lap hurt. My hamstrings were getting tight and I had a few random aches and pains, but I kept telling myself to keep moving forward, that my competition was running and I should be too (in this case, it was good to use my competitive spirit), and that it would feel better if I just kept going … and it did. It didn’t take long for me to pass the lady in yellow again. Once I hit the aid station, I took off knowing that I had just over 4 miles to go. There is a three quarters of a mile open section of trail as you leave the aid station to the next technical portion of the trail – the gas pass. I took my time here, and then let it ride in the gas pass, knowing my horse to stables adrenaline would get me home. Again, I power walked the steep up hills and enjoyed one last PowerBar Energy gel to power me to the end.

With three or so miles to go, I got passed by a woman that I was hoping was running the 50 miler because she seemed like she was flying (turned out she was in the 50K). Towards the end of the lap, I saw a woman in a green hat that I thought might be in the 50K but I was not sure. I had reeled her in for most of the last lap but I thought that she was too far ahead to reach, and I was trying to run my own race. Well, with less than a half mile to go, I was on her tail and she started to pick up the pace, so I kicked it into high gear, but it was not quite enough to catch her (she was in the 50K … remember me saying it would be great to know who was running each race, maybe I need to pay more attention at the start!). I came in 6th by 6 seconds and missed out on the cool rabbit trophies, but enjoyed a Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale as a consolation prize after tacking on 4 bonus miles as training for Rocky Raccoon.

It was a great race. I tried to be encouraging to every person I came across all day long, competition or not and to thank all of the volunteers who were so helpful. I had a great chat with the two ladies who came in fourth and fifth afterwards and then took off for my bonus miles. I thought they were going to hurt, but turns out, I was so relaxed now that I was no longer racing, they were actually faster than my times on my fourth lap (lesson learned – RELAX to go faster)! I finished my 35 miles feeling strong and knowing that I could have kept going, I will call that a positive training and race day! Oh, and I PR’d the race by 18 minutes!

Race Results
6/34 Women
23/98 Overall
Lap 1 – 1:19:04
Lap 2 – 1:21:51
Lap 3 – 1:25:53
Lap 4 – 1:28:31
50K Total - 5:35:19


Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Road to the Cactus Rose – 100 Mile Relay Race Report

Short report – Doing things that scare you help you grow so much more as an athlete. Experience breeds confidence. Running in the dark makes the up hills less intimidating. Bandera was actually fun!

Gory Details:
After Reveille Ranch, I thought my future trail running was going to be limited to the equivalent of soft green fields. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but the course definitely got the better of me and my initial post race reaction was to avoid similar terrain in the future.

Once my ego healed, I realized that it was my lack of experience on trails, especially more technical trails, that left me vulnerable on the course.

The very first thing I did after Reveille Ranch was to hire Joe P as my coach to prepare me for the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. It was clear that I have a lot to learn and I want to be completely prepared come February. Joe P is not only an incredible race director but he is also a seriously experienced trail runner.

The second thing I did was to start doing all of my long runs on trails when possible. I needed the confidence that only comes from experience. I know that Rocky is not a technical course by trail running standards, but having run the Little Rocky 50K and Escape from Huntsville 50K there last year, I am here to tell you, coming from only road miles, even Huntsville can feel hilly and technical. Plus, even for a non-technical trail, I imagine that the roots start to jump out at you after 60 some odd miles.

So, under Joe’s guidance I started adding specificity to my weekly runs. Intervals, hills, race pace. I also realized getting out of my comfort zone would only make me a stronger trail runner. I did long solo runs in Warda and ventured out for hilly runs in Tulsa and Little Rock, on trails when possible, on my business travels.

I had zero intention of running in Bandera. I had heard nothing but crazy things about the course and to be honest, it scared me a bit. Then I read about the history of the Cactus Rose race and that a relay option was available. My curiosity was definitely piqued. Then I started seeing requests on the Tejas Trails FB page for requests to help fill spots on relay teams. A quick call to Joe later, we both agreed, doing something that pushes me would be great experience and I was signed up to run 25 miles of the Cactus Rose.

My team agreed on how to split up the legs, and I ended up with the third leg. The good news was that I was able to show up in Bandera mid-afternoon on Saturday (less time away from home and the kids), the bad news (or so I thought) was that most of my 25 miles were going to be run in the dark.

Due to the lack of cell coverage around the race site, I had a difficult time locating my team (whom I had never met before), but I quickly realized I could check the log books at the Lodge and Equestrian to see where our Leg 2 runner was on the course.

We ran into town to grab some dinner for my husband aka, my crew, which gave me the opportunity to text my team. We finally met up at the Lodge around 5:30 and I felt much better. We also chatted with other runners and cheered on folks who were coming in finishing 50 miles or continuing on their 100 mile journeys. It gave me the opportunity to get some real time feedback on the course as well.

The Cactus Rose is run clockwise and counterclockwise every other loop. This allows runners to see each other more frequently and adds a fun dynamic to experience the course in both directions. Doing leg 3 of the relay meant that I had a clockwise loop.

In talking with Joe and looking at the course elevation map, I knew that the most challenging part of the course would be the last 10 miles of my 25 miles – and that section would certainly be in the dark. My plan was to run as much as I could during the daylight in the “easier” sections not knowing how much I would be able to run in the more technical sections, especially in the dark.

My nervousness and uncertainty was driven by my unplanned walking at Reveille Ranch with a nasty blister and a turned ankle (caused in part by my inexperience on the technical course) and having never run in Bandera, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my ability to actually run the more technical portions.

Right around 6, I made myself a PB fold over and I was about to have it for dinner, when our leg 2 runner appeared. A quick change of the timing chip and race number and I was off, still eating my fold over.

With aid stations every 5 miles, I set out knowing I would have about that much time before sun down. As I set off, I felt fantastic and I was running strong on the course. There was one steep, rocky climb up and descent in the first five mile stretch that I hiked rather than ran, but other than that, I was able to run the majority of the time. This definitely boosted my confidence.

My only mistake in these early miles was misreading the aid stations. I told Doug that the Equestrian station was 10 miles out, but it was only 5 miles out, so when I arrived there, I thought that I had missed a turn. A few helpful folks assured me that I was on the right track, so I signed into the log book and knew that Doug would figure out what happened. I couldn’t even text him to let him know.

One of the negative things about running the third leg is that a lot of the 50 milers were finished so there were fewer runners on the course. Of the runners I did pass or come across I couldn’t help but feel like a bit of a poser. Running 25 miles in Bandera is still a great accomplishment, but when someone running 100 miles tells you that you are looking great, I felt like I had to clarify that I was running the relay. Maybe it stems from my own issues, I just know that when I am doing a long run and someone blazes by me it can be demoralizing, especially if I am in the midst of a bad spell. I usually tell myself (whether it is true or not) that they aren’t going as far so that is why they are passing me like I am standing still. Nothing against fasties, this just helps me feel better :) Anyhow, I tried to encourage everyone I came across and I found that as is the case in the ultra community, everyone I came across on the trails was encouraging and inspirational!

As night fell, I found that my new Black Diamond Icon 200 Lumen headlamp made a huge difference. I had plenty of light and was pleasantly surprised with the course. A good portion of the course was trail that was very runnable and I even got comfortable with all of the rock. The darkness definitely helped to mask the elevation changes. I really think there is something psychosomatic about seeing how steep a hill is and making it seem harder – as they say, it’s all in your head, and when you can’t see it, you can’t psyche yourself out!

I got to see Doug and Indy when I made it back to Equestrian and it was just the boost I needed for my last 10 miles.

I knew these last 10 miles would be challenging and they did not dissapoint in terms of sotol, steepness and no shortage of rocks. At one point noticed a headlamp off in the distance that looked like it was on top of a mountain, and that gave me a clue about how much climbing I had ahead of me. However, besides the sometimes very steep, rocky climbs and descents, which I carefully hiked, I was able to keep running. The sotol was prolific, but my legs stayed generally protected in my running tights

Overall, my three biggest surprises were how comfortable I was running alone, in the dark and on the terrain. Shockingly, besides one near slip on a rocky downhill and one toe stub, I had no issues at all. There were no ankle rolls or blisters like at Reveille Ranch and I felt really good.

My hydration pack was great so I was able to run empty-handed and I had easy access to my PowerBar Gels.  My gels of choice are Tangerine and Berry Blast because of the caffeine, which is great for night running!  Also, there is not a better gel on the market in terms of consistency.  These gels are thin, taste great and easy to swallow and they gave me just the energy I needed for this course.

I finished my 25 miles in 5:43, which given the terrain, made me happy and Leg 4 of our relay took off just before midnight.  I would definitely like to run in Bandera again in the daylight to enjoy the beauty of the terrain.

Photos by my relay teammates Niti and Jeanne.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


We all juggle a lot to manage our lives. 

Families, jobs, training, school ... the list goes on and on ...

When I get wrapped around the axle about fitting in my training around my busy work travel schedule or our crazy weekend family obligations it is easy to forget that there are people in our tri and running community that are doing all of the above while overcoming cancer or a degenerative disease.

Through my relationship with Team Rev3 Tri, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet and support the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults through the Run Across America last Spring and again at the Half Full Tri next week. 

Most recently, I had the opportunity to virtually meet Donna and learn about Charcot–Marie–Tooth (CMT) disease.  Named after those who clinically described it (so not dental related), CMT is the most common neuromuscular disorder impacting 1 in 2500 people. In general, CMT impacts the way the nerves transmit signals to muscles, leading to muscle atrophy, reduced sensation, and muscular imbalance. CMT patients slowly lose normal use of their extremities as nerves degenerate and muscles weaken because the affected nerves no longer stimulate the muscles. Many patients also have some loss of sensory nerve functions.

Wait, what?  CMT is the most common neuromuscular disorder and I have never heard of it?I bet you hadn't heard of it either ... but you have likely heard of Muscular Sclerosis (MS) and Muscular Dystrophy. 

September was CMT awareness month and since my training this month was so inspired by Donna and her spirit of beating limitations, I wanted to share her story with you. Donna's outlook on life and dedication to raising awareness and funds for CMT is remarkable! 

As I struggle through my next interval workout or hill repeat, I will think of all of those who are fighting much more difficult fights!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tejas Trails Capt’n Karl’s 60K Night Race at Reveille Peak Ranch – Race Report

I was really excited (and nervous) to race a new distance and to do it primarily in the dark as training for the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in February. I honestly didn’t know much about the race or the location, but I have heard nothing but great things about Tejas Trails so I knew it would be well supported, and well, the terrain will be what it will be (this would come back to bite me).

I should have known the course was going to be particularly challenging when Mark (running and race partner) was nervous about the race. We were both nervous about running in the dark, but I didn’t appreciate that he was also respecting the challenges of the terrain.

Heading into the race, I used my last two 50Ks as a barometer for how long the race would take. Both 50Ks took about 6 hours, so I figured that an additional 6 miles and the majority of the race being at night would add 2 hours to that time, making an 8 hour race.

The race itself was full of lessons for me and while it took much longer and I did far more walking than I wanted or expected, it was a success because we finished and walked away (pun intended) with invaluable knowledge.

The race was 3 loops of 12.4 miles and it started at 7 PM. The short race recap is below, followed by a more lengthy lessons learned.

Obligatory Before Photo

Lap 1: Holy terrain, batman. Hills, roots, granite rock, oh my! Beautiful course. Heart rate spiked early, which is common for me as I settle into the terrain. It was really warm, even though it was after 7 PM. 3 unexpected visits into the woods (GI issues) and nauseous (both firsts for me in racing, or even training). Worried about ability to race with tummy distress. Wow, it got dark fast. Rock in shoe? No that’s a big ass blister. Handheld flash light died. 3:06:34 for Loop 1, time to adjust expectations. 10:00 PM

Lap 2: Major morale boost thanks to seeing hubby and amazing volunteers. Feeling MUCH better, attitude and tummy! Running and walking, good tempo and mix. Met Haleigh on the Dome. Ankle roll #1. Ankle roll #2 (and #3 maybe?). Nervous feet after multiple trips. Blister growing. More walking than running. Met Danny. Lots of stories and laughing. Ankle roll AGAIN. Seriously?!? Pick up your damn feet! Headlight getting dim. Battery change. 3:47:52 for Loop 2, time to seriously adjust expectations. 2:15 AM

Lap 3: Time to start worrying about cut off times. Still more walking than running (ankle). Less talking and laughing. Counting down the miles. Popped blister on fourth toe of right foot on a rock – yowza! Limping. Pain assimilation and back to (almost) normal gait. Counting down the miles. Met someone who was doing an extra lap (so lapping us). Blisters on both feet. Mark decides it is time to roll. Let’s finish this thing! Running feels so GOOD. Cheers! 4:15:31 for Loop 3, so happy to be finished. Major mental victory. 6:10 AM

Summary: 11:09:57 for 37.2 miles. Or 5 additional hours for 5 additional miles from my 32 for 32.  What a difference terrain can make! 85 people entered the 60K and 66 people (78%) finished, of that there were less than 15 women.

My Personal Lessons Learned

1. Respect the terrain – Long ago when I first started racing, I learned the hard way about respecting the distance. After running two marathons and doing an Olympic distance triathlon without following proper training plans, I learned how much a finish line can hurt. I was probably lucky to finish at all. I have been fairly smart about picking races with terrain that is similar to the terrain on which I normally train. The terrain at Reveille Peak Ranch was quite varied, but the majority of it was vastly different than anything I have run before. Rooty and rocky (and hilly) single track and large granite, hilly rock. I was physically ready for the distance, but definitely under-prepared for the terrain.

2. Be prepared for anything – this one goes without saying. Extra batteries. Baby wipes (thank God I had those!). Enough nutrition that if your race falls apart and you are on the course longer than expected and the aid stations are running low you are still ok.

3. Don’t wear new shoes – I know, I know, I know … I know better. I really thought switching to the trail version of my normal running shoe would not be that big of a deal, and maybe on a different course it would have been ok. Heck, my blister problems (back of the heels) and ankle turns may have happened in my other shoes because of the terrain. Running and walking / hiking up and around uneven rocks moves your ankles in different ways and I think this contributed to my problems. I will definitely be experimenting to determine what shoes will be best for me for the 100 miler.

4. It’s all in your head – I would not describe myself as having a high tolerance for pain, but I am stubborn as all get out. The first lap I questioned whether I could keep going with my stomach problems. Mark even asked if I wanted to quit (actually, I stopped him before he could finish his sentence and told him I was not quitting). Mentally I was not in a good place. The ankle turns and blisters did not feel good. Every step starting at about 10 miles in, I could feel the blister on my right heel. Then, at mile 17 (I am guessing here), after turning my ankle again and again, every step I could feel the tweak in my ankle and the blister. Then at mile 31, I inadvertently popped a blister on the pad of a toe of my right foot and I thought I was going to have to limp the rest of the way … BUT for as yucky as I felt on the first lap, I was a different person on the second lap. Amazingly, for as bad as my feet were hurting, my body seemed to assimilate and after a bit the pain became more manageable. I think that with even more trail running experience, I may even be able to shake off ankle turns and not let it affect my confidence as I am running more technical sections.

I have heard from a lot of experienced endurance athletes that you can go from feeling like crap to feeling like a rock star to feeling like crap to feeling like a rock star over the course of a race. I have experienced this a bit in training but not much in racing. It was good to experience that during this race as I will be able to draw on it in the future. I definitely drew on the experience from my ankle turn at the Rocky Raccoon 50K last year to remind myself that I had been there, done that and overcome it before. I am listening to Chrissie Wellington’s book right now and she discusses GI problems she has experienced during races and I definitely drew on that during this race.

I am not saying that there are not injuries that cannot be overcome, that is obviously not the case, but I think those types of injuries are less common.

5. Be flexible / adaptable – adjust expectations when necessary; don’t mentally beat yourself up if your race is not going as planned.

6. Hubby thinks I need cooler, brighter lights. I think he just likes getting cool gear :)

7. Remember to look on the bright side – 11 hours moving and on my feet is good training for the 100 miler! Obviously our pace will need to be faster, but the weather should be cooler and the terrain far more manageable!

Overall – great, well supported race. I loved the location, even though I was not prepared for the terrain. My hubby mountain biked the course the next day and loved it and came back saying he had a new respect for us after experiencing some of the terrain first hand. Side note, he saw lots of wild animals (road runners, wild boars, a dead rattle snake, a doe) – so glad I did not know about the wild boar ahead of time (we were cautioned about the rattle snakes). The spiders and scorpions and tree roots that looked like snakes were scary enough in the dark.

The volunteers were FANTASTIC! Top notch service. Example - at the end of both loops, a kind volunteer took my sweaty Nathan vest and refilled my pack with water and ice and wouldn’t let me help him at all (first lap, I kept trying to take over and he kept telling me to do other stuff; second lap I just gave it to him while the medic bandaged my blister).

It was great to meet Haleigh and Danny on the course - I really enjoyed talking and laughing with them, it made the time pass a lot faster, especially on the second loop.

After Photo with Mark and our new friend Haleigh - all smiles!

Sunday my ankle was pretty bruised (coloring) and swollen but it is already doing much better. The blisters on my heels are going to take a bit longer. Thankfully, this week is a recovery week, so low mileage!

Blister and Ankle

I only slept for three hours on Sunday morning after finishing and I was surprised that I was actually ok energy wise for the rest of the day. I got a good 8 or 9 hours Sunday night, and have been ok all day today (Monday), but I feel exhausted now. Time for bed!

As always, I am so thankful for the support of my team and sponsors, Team Rev3, PowerBar, and Normatec MVP were all a big part of my race and recovery. Mark is a great running partner … perfect blend of patient, protective and sarcastic big brother type. Last but not least – my hubby is the most supportive and amazing partner anyone could ever ask for, thank you for everything you do, especially staying up all night to support us!

My #1 Fan

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Du the Polar Bear Duathlon Race Report

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I wrote this post, lost it (which if you have a blog you know is sooo frustrating!) ... well, it miracualously re-appeared in my drafts!  So, pretend that this was actually posted in February. :)

In the spirit of trying new things and working on speed, on a whim, I signed up for the Du the Polar Bear Duathlon. The race was sponsored by my local bike shop, Bicycle World and Fitness and it was conveniently 5 minutes from my house, which made for a laid back race morning.

The race was a 2 mile run, followed by a 15 mile bike, ending with a 2 mile run. The race started at 8 am and transition closed around 7:40, so I was able to accidentally oversleep and still make it to transition with time to spare. It was a cool and crisp morning so I went back and forth on what to wear. I hate being cold on the bike so I erred on the side of staying warm, which was ultimately too much.

I have been doing a lot of running training so I was planning on pushing the run pretty hard, with a goal of keeping the average pace sub 7:00 min miles (fast and hard for me). I have NOT been on my bike, but I was still planning to push the bike as hard as I could and I was counting on my base fitness to get me through it.

The race started at 8:00 AM with the men and the women started five minutes later. I took off behind the lead pack and occassionally glanced at my Garmin to make sure my pace was sub 7:00 min. I was definitely in the red zone, but I focused on passing one person at a time and maintaining my breathing and pace. Plus, two miles is my favorite distance to push hard and I regularly run a 2 mile loop through my neighborhood, so I have a good feel for the distance and pacing.

Run 1 - 2 mile time - 13:43, average pace - 6:52, AG place 4/17

I kept my run pace up into transition and was breathing heavily as I got to my bike. I was wearing gloves and I had a hard time putting on my shoes and it took me way too long to buckle my helmet. I was about a minute long in transition and I hated to see all the people I passed on the run starting the bike ride with me. I am a big believer that races can be won or lost in transition and my pitiful time almost cost me hardware at this race!

T1 - 1:36, AG place 12/17

It took me too long to clip in on the bike - damn toe covers - but once I finally got clipped I hit it hard and also started hydrating. I felt pretty strong for the first 5 miles and I was passing people the entire first lap. The second lap I started to feel the burn in my legs and it became immediately clear to me that I was paying for all the time I spent away from the bike. The third lap I could feel myself fading and I fought to maintain some speed on the bike. My average pace for 15 miles was 19.3 mph versus 18.7 mph average pace for 112 miles at IMTX. Clearly, I need to spend some time on my bike, especially working on shorter, harder sets.

15 Mile Bike- 46:42.8 - 19.3 MPH - AG Place 5/17

I was much happier with my T2. Very efficient, just how I like it!

T2 - 0:49.2 - AG Place 3/17

I knew the last 2 miles were going to hurt and I decided to take the first mile at a 7:00 minute pace and let myself kick the last mile. I was pushing hard and passing one person at a time. With a half mile to go I really wanted to ease up, but I fought back that urge by channeling two of my Rev3 teammates - Kacie, who had just before completed a DOUBLE Ironman, and Laura, who came in 3rd in her AG at IMAZ, missing a Kona spot by less than a minute. I will never forget her Tweet the next day "Can't sleep- nightmares of watching my kona slot BLAZE by 800m from finish after I had it for 20mi & beat me by 59sec #truestory #racing" (I know she will ger her spot in 2012!).  So I ran my heart out and I just focused on passing one person at a time in that last half mile, including someone in my age group!

Run 2 - 2 mile time - 13:19.8 average pace - 6:40, AG place 2/17

AG Overall Place - 3 /17!

Overall, the race was great and I was happy with my performance, especially for a last minute decision to race with not a lot of training.  The race had great support (thanks Bicycle World and Fitness!) and good food and schwag afterwards.  My only complaint was in the timing.  Somehow the computer picked up my timing as well as the person who came in 1st in my AG, but our results were not showing up on the print out (and they didn't write us in).  Ultimately, they announced the awards correctly, but I felt terrible for the two athletes that saw their names in podium spots only to be totally surprised at the awards presentation.  I understand that these things happen though, and I will definitely do this race and Du the Bear in the Fall in the future. 

Lessons learned from this race:  always double check your timing chip, don't give up a lot of time in transition and push hard until the end - I came in third by a whopping 23 seconds!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

100 Miles of Epic Awesomeness

I haven't fully wrapped my head around it yet (otherwise I might really freak the hell out), but my BHAG (big harry audacious goal) for 2013 is the 100 mile Rocky Raccoon trail race on February 2, 2013.

Whew. I said it out loud. Well, I typed it at least, so now I am accountable. Actually, I signed up with my running partner extraordinaire, Mark, so I was definitely already accountable!

So, what does that mean for the rest of 2012? Channeling Forest Gump! Lots of trail races and marathons in my future, all in the name of training, training, training! The next trail race on the agenda is the Captain Karl's 60k Night Trail race. The race starts at 7 pm, so it will be great practice running in the dark and while I would normally be sleeping.

I am still going to be doing a few tris, full schedule to follow ...

So, what's your next epic adventure in racing, training, life, etc?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mid-Year Resolutions

I am hanging my head in shame as I type this post ... I can't believe I haven't posted since March!  I have so much to share, including race reports and epic challenges ahead.  So, my mid-year resolution is to blog at least once a week, and for the next week, especially since I am going to be on vacation with lots of time in the car, I am committing to get this blog back up to date!  If you are still around, stick with me, it is going to get interesting!

So, what has kept me away from blogging?  Like most people, life got busy ... but if I am being entirely honest ... well, Fifty Shades of Grey derailed my blogging.  Damn that compelling Christian Grey.  I started reading and just didn't stop.  I have read literally 30+ books over the past couple of months, and while it has been a great diversion, but I must.find.balance.

The good news is that Fifty Shades of Grey did not derail my actual training.

So, any book recommendations?  ;)

Swim, bike and run, run, run posts to follow soon.  She's back!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Virtual Run Across America

Starting at midnight tonight, Rev3 will start its Run Across America to raise $100,000 for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

I am not able to take three weeks off of work to complete the entire run, but I still want to be a big part of the experience. I am going to do that in three big ways ...

1 - I have a goal to raise $1000 towards the $100,000 goal
2 - I am going to join the crew for two days of running in Tennessee
3 - I will run 315 miles in 21 days (roughly what I would personally run if I was able to run with them from CA to DC)

Have you been touched by cancer? For most of us, there is usually not more than 2 degrees of separation to cancer ... and cancer in young adults is especially heart breaking. Running an average of 15 miles a day over 3 weeks will hurt, but it is nothing compared to those that are fighting for their lives. Please consider making a donation to support this cause. Every dollar raised helps YOUNG PEOPLE with cancer and every single dollar counts.

I have done a lot of training and racing over the last five years but this is the first time I am asking for help in raising money for what I think is a very worthy cause. Will you consider making a small donation, even $1? If so, please follow this link and when you finalize the donation on the second page, please select my name as the Rev3 team member.

Thank you for your consideration!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Filling in the Blanks

As I mentioned in my last post, I am without a major goal this year. I have been having a hard time deciding what races I want to do this year and I think I have discovered why. Normally, I would pick an "A" race and then just fill in the blanks. Without an anchor race to provide structure (e.g., doing a HIM on the way to your IM distance race) the blanks are truly that - blank.

So, what have I decided for 2012/2013?

First and foremost, I am beyond excited that Rev3 is bringing a new race to Florida October 27 -28! As a Texas girl, this new race is within driving distance for me and I love, love, love Florida. It will have always have a special place in my heart for triathlon because I did my first 140.6 there. So that is one blank I am very excited to have filled in. The good news / bad news is that a late season race means that I have lots of time before I have to get serious about training for what I am calling my "A" triathlon race of the year.

On the running front, I have signed up for Texas Marathon in Kingwood, TX on January 1, 2013. It is a small race, capped at 650 runners that it is known for having the largest finisher's medal. It sells out early every year, so I have already paid my fees. It is a BQ race, but given the races I am going to describe below, I am not sure I will be in qualifying shape come January 1.

Other marathons I am considering ...

The Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco October 14, 2012. Firemen in tuxes handing out Tiffany boxes. Yes please. It has a lottery entrance so we will see. Based on the hilly nature of the course, I would not plan on attempting to BQ this course. In all actuality, I have a girlfriend in California that I really want to visit and this would be a great race to just "do" and not stress about.

The same crew that puts on the Texas Marathon on New Year's day is staging two races in December on back to back days. The End of the World Marathon on December 21, 2012 (to coincide with the date the Mayans believe will be the end of the world) and the Day After the End of the World Marathon on December 22, 2012 (for those who believe that the world will see 2013). Of course, I think it would be fun to do both. This is not a BQ race and if I run these (which I likely will) then the Texas Marathon a mere 10 days later will not likely to be a BQ attempt either.

So where does that leave me?

I am searching for a summer marathon that I can properly train for to attempt a BQ time. Even if I miss BQing, I would like to see where I am compared to my last stand alone marathon in 2009 (3:57 at Houston).

I definitely plan to race local this year with my local tri team, Team Bicycle World and Fitness. I have spent the last two seasons doing more training than racing and I am looking forward to some short, fast races and getting to know more local triathletes. First up, Du the Polar Bear Duathlon next weekend. Hmm ... maybe I should air up my bike tires???

Finally, I am going to be doing my absolute best to make it to another one or two Rev3 races. I am a firm believer that if we as triathletes want to see better races, we need to support the new brands like Rev3 that are trying to give us a better race experience.

So, things are starting to fall into place. Clearly the last quarter of the year is set, so I will just slowly continue to fill in the blanks. Deep breath, I am starting to feel better. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Preface: I have had this post in draft form for three weeks and it just didn't feel "finished". Maybe I felt like I was not conveying with words how I feel or the balance struggle. Anyhow, after reading that Chrissie Wellington is taking a break from Ironman, I figured, if the reigning world champion is looking for balance, can't we all?

Ok, back to the post ...

The 1st of January has come and gone and I am doing my best not to be frustrated with myself for not having any clear cut goals this year. I don’t want to pick an arbitrary goal just to have a goal, yet, I NEED something to point towards.

I keep asking myself the very simple question “What do you want to accomplish this year? What sounds exciting to you?” and I don’t really have an answer other than I want BALANCE while still setting goals and attempting to achieve them.

I have always felt that I manage being a wife / mother / full time career woman who travels for her job / athlete / and so much more ... pretty well, but if I am totally honest with myself, there are sacrifices – big ones. I have a super supportive family so they don’t make me feel bad about the sacrifices I have made pursuing my athletic dreams, but I am the one that has to look in the mirror and be ok with those sacrifices. Looking back, I feel pretty good about the decisions that I have made to this point, but I don’t personally feel I can continue to make those same decisions right now. An entire weekend day of training every single weekend leading up to a big race is too much to give right now in my life.

I love racing long and I have thought about reducing my training (train smarter not longer) so that I can feel more balance yet still comfortably participate at the 140.6 distance (obviously with slower times) BUT the competitor in me doesn’t just want to “participate”. So, for now at least, I am leaving 140.6 off the table. I want to keep racing that distance and I know I can get faster, potentially even much faster, but that is a goal and challenge I am saving for another day. I still not-so-secretly want to get to Kona one day, after all (yep, I said it AGAIN, I am putting that out into the universe).

So, where does that leave me for 2012? I have thought hard about EPIC type goals (100 mile trail race anyone?) and the more mundane (get “faster”, have FUN!) but nothing specific is really tripping my trigger (BQ, xx:xx Oly). I am finished with my post 50K recovery running plan – so I am back up to running 35 miles per week – and that means that I do not currently have a plan. HELP!

Here is the reality for me, as an individual it is really easy to fall into the one-up trap. The “I did a sprint, now I am going to do an Olympic distance race, well how about a 70.3 … well, I guess all that is left is 140.6” one-up trap. So, once you have done 140.6, do you have to keep doing them, keep getting faster or go even longer to one-up yourself? I definitely see the appeal, but that certainly doesn't fit the balance goal I am in search of. There are EPIC type goals that allow for more balance than 140.6 but I am still searching for one that makes my heart flutter.

So, is 2012 the year of reflection and searching for the next big goal? Probably.

In the mean time, I have thought long and hard about what to do while I am searching. I want to stay fit, I want to race and I want to have fun. I don’t want to lose my base.

I have also spent a lot of time thinking about why goals like “going faster” don’t trip my trigger. I think it is because they scare me a bit, going fast hurts. It puts me out of my comfort zone … and you know what that tells me? That I should ABSOLUTELY make that my goal. I am a big believer that we should challenge ourselves by getting out of our comfort zones. The mere fact that it scares me, tells me that is why I should do it. I also hope that learning to go faster and to accept a bit of pain will help me mentally when I do go back to the 140.6 distance.

Having fun is the other goal that keeps creeping back into my mind. What does that even mean? Well, let me explain. When I was training for 140.6, I was super conservative, especially when training for the first two. For example, I wouldn’t play a pickup game of soccer or softball or sign up for Tough Mudder because I didn’t want to get hurt and risk my A race. I didn’t do a lot of shorter distance races because I needed to be training long on those days. I want to remove the shackles and do some of these fun races. I want to decide to visit a friend somewhere and do a fun race in their neck of the woods and have it be ok that it is not on my training schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I love schedules, but I also want to color outside the lines.

... now, I just need to decide what picture to start coloring!