Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introducing: Racing with Babes

The best part about the Rev3 summit was getting to know my teammates.  It was such a great opportunity for serious team bonding without the distraction of actually racing!  My roomie for the summit was Tonia (Toe-Knee-Ahh) from Racing with Babes.  She is new to Team Rev3 this year and I am so excited that she has joined the team!  We hit it off right away and it turns out we have quite a bit in common - young moms with young families, but even more than that she is just a very cool chick!  She is training for her first 140.6 this year at Rev3 Cedar Point, be sure to go over to her blog and say hello! 

Welcome to the team, Tonia!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rev3 Team Summit

I am sitting on the plane in Denver waiting to head back to Houston after an incredible weekend with my Rev3 teammates at the Team Summit in Boulder. What an incredible weekend full of laughter, new friendships and awesome sponsors!

I think this is going to be the best Rev3 year yet! I am really looking forward to seeing everyone in Knoxville ... What Rev3 races are on your calendar this year?

More fun things to share on the Rev3 front soon, including highlighting some of my incredible new (and old) teammates!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weird Pre-Race Dreams

I know a race is quickly coming up when I start dreaming about it.  Yesterday I did my last long run before Rocky Raccoon 100 and last night I had the oddest dream about the race.  Well, it started as a dream about the race and in typical fashion as these dreams go, I was late.

 I had to park really far away from the start and I left all my gear in my car and I rushed to the start.  I was 15 minutes into the run when I realized that I didn't have any nutrition or water, so I turned around to go back to my car.  When I got to my car I was scrambling to find everything I needed for the race.  I remember thinking in my dream that I needed to ask Joe to reset my chip but also freaking out that I lost an hour to the cut off time.  At some point the trail race turned into a street race, but the course was not really marked.  The aid stations near the start/finish line were food trucks.  It was the middle of the night during the race when I realized that I had missed a two mile section of the course because it was not marked, but it was also around this time, when Joe told me that this was not Rocky, that Rocky was still two weeks away, so it was ok if I only ran 90 miles instead of 100.

I was happy to wake up and to put the stress of the dream behind me!  Have you had any weird race related dreams?

I am hopeful that two weeks from now I will be holding my RR 100 race buckle!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

50 Unsupported Miles

If you had told me a year ago that I would spend a Saturday running 50 unsupported miles through Huntsville on a humid day in January I would have called you a liar. 

Humid in January?  No way!

Running 50 miles?  50 miles ... maybe, but unsupported?!?!

Well, WE DID IT!  I feel like I just got my membership passport stamped!

Mark and I made it Hunstville around 8, dropped some water at key access points along the 20 mile loop and started our day.  Our packs were a bit heavy, knowing that it would be 4 to 5 hours before returning to the car.

We expected the first loop to be slow because despite the fact that we have run Huntsville plenty of times, we have never run it not during a race.  During a race there are lots of markers telling you where to go ... not so much on a normal Saturday.  So we carried the Rocky Raccoon course map and did route finding when necessary.  We consulted the map quite a bit, and generally, we nailed it.  The few times we missed turns, we re-traced our steps to get back on course, adding miles, knowing we needed the extra miles anyway (doing 50 miles on 20 mile loops). 

It was humid and my legs felt sluggish at the beginning.  I think running purposely slow at the beginning hurts sometimes, but it is far better than starting out too fast!  Did I mention it was humid?  The forecast called for rain and thunder storms, which thankfully didn't materialize, but we were still drenched thanks to the humidity. 

We finished the first loop with about 23 miles according to my Garmin, which seemed right with our few wrong turns and our purposeful additional mileage to access water at the camping area near Amy's Crossing.  We ended up taking a bit more water down to Amy's Crossing, re-fueled, I did a wardrobe change (my compression tights were HOT), grabbed our head lamps and we were off again.

Lap 2 was faster and slower.  The beginning was faster because we knew we were going and had to consult the map a lot less.  It was slower at times because around 35 miles I was feeling a bit depleted, which thankfully, with the help of a few extra calories, reversed.  Parts were definitely slower in the dark and we walked more of the up hills.  Yes, in my humble opinion, there are hills in Hunstville.  I know that anyone who lives or races in the mountains is laughing at me right now, but for this flat lander, there is plenty of incline in Huntsville.

We managed to stay in pretty good moods all day with only once or twice each of us getting a bit quiet.  Mark knows me well though and quickly tells me to "get out of my head" when I get in a funk.  This is also a big sign that I need more calories.  We were near the Dam aid station (or where it will be) around 35 miles into our day and I was pretty depleted.  Mark stopped to reference the map and I leaned down and got a bit light headed and decided it was time for the reserve calories.  PowerBar chews to the rescue.  Literally not 2 miles later I was laughing and in the best mood.  It is amazing what a shot of calories and caffeine can do.  Such a balance between not enough and too much!

We took our diversion at Amy's Crossing and I called my husband to check in.  He was at home taking care of our sick kiddos, but was supporting me as usual, even if it was from afar.  I mentioned the headlamp didn't seem as strong and he suggested I change the batteries.  Good call!  The batteries were no where close to dying, but the fresh batteries made a huge difference.

We finished the second loop with 44 miles - 6 miles to go.  It was dark and late and we needed to leave the park before 10 pm when the gates close, so we opted to run the last 6 on the road to just get it done.  My good mood from miles 35- 44 had evaporated and 6 miles might as well have been 600 miles in that moment.  But, I got "out of my head", started running and my legs felt good.  The next 3 miles were quiet, but we re-grouped for the last 3 miles and laughed and talked it in the rest of the way. 

Mentally, it was great to familiarize myself with the course, which will also help me better prepare my crew.  I tried out a few new things, gear and nutrition, and found some things that worked for me, and others that didn't.  Most importantly, despite the humidity and the challenges (read: extra time required) of route finding and re-fueling on a self-supported run, we managed to finish the 50 miles in 12:30.  Double that and our projected finish time should be around 25 hours!

Oh, and a heads up for those who might be headed to Hunstville, the park ranger pulled me over twice!  The first time, he waved me over and suggested that someone had complained a car of my description was driving too fast.  Mark and I were confused becasue we had not been in the car all day except the quick trip from the Lodge to Amy's Crossing to drop water and we certainly weren't driving fast enough to cause a complaint.  The second time it was as we were leaving the park and he was on his way back to close the gates, I assume.  It was super dark out so I was using the extra lights I have on my Jeep to better illuminate the road.  I turned them off as soon as I saw another car coming my way, but he pulled me over, with flashing lights this time, to let me know I had too many lights on.  Officer Friendly even said, "Hello again".  No tickets, just a nice scolding and "information sharing" both times.   

Let the the taper begin!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rights of Passage - Ultra Version

There are all sorts of rights of passage in life ...

Learning to walk, your first words, learning to ride a bike, learning to read, learning to drive, your first kiss, graduating from college, your first job, getting married, having a baby ... just to name a few.

Then there are sports rights of passage like racing at new distances, qualifying for a special race, or trying a new sport.

In training for Rocky, I have added quite a few rights of passage to my sports resume, including a few unexpected ones.  Blood, blisters, twisted ankles - check.  Finding a bush to serve as a porta potty - check.  Over night run - check.  Completing a race and then adding mileage - check.  Running further than I ever have before - check. 

However, until now, in my last peak week of training, I have been able to avoid one big right of passage, but alas, this weekend, I will be crossing this one off my list as well.  A long (as in 50 miles long), unsupported training run. 

I was able to align all of my long training runs with races until now, and while there are several races this weekend, I think that mentally, I need this.  I need it for the distance, for the unssupported nature, for the terrain (I am running the course) and most importantly, for the mental challenge. 

The last right of passage in this journey? .... Running 100 miles.

What rights of passage have you had lately?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Countdown - One Month!

Today marks one month until the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler!  One more long run on the schedule and then it is taper time! 

Words that describe my emotions right now:

Freaked out
Many other similar synonyms

Did I mention freaked out?!  In a good way, really.

Putting emotions aside, the other thing I feel is READY!  Let's do this!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year & Texas Marathon Race Report

Happy New Year!

If you have read the blog lately, you can likely guess what my #1 athletic goal is for 2013 - the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile trail race - and preparation for it started 6 months ago.  With a goal like that hanging over my head, I am not going to even think about goals for later in the year.  It is definitely one step at a time around here!

To that end, I started 2013 by running 26.2 this morning at the Texas Marathon in Kingwood.  When I signed up early last year it was on a whim and because I really wanted the race medal.  See why? 

This race competes with the Little Rock marathon for the "world's largest race medal" every year.  This year's medal weighs in at 3+ pounds!

So, when I registered I didn't know what my goal was going to be for the race and as it turns out, I was able to use it as a training run for Rocky.  I have not run a stand alone road marathon since 2009, so I was not sure what to expect in terms of time goals.  We decided to run comfortably (conversation pace) and see where the cold and wet day took us.

The race was four 6.55 mile loops.  The marathon started at 8 am and the half marathon started at 8:15.  The course was only crowded for the first half mile or so, and had we attempted to move the front of the field for the start, we could have, but we were in "this is just a training run" mode. 

The course was well supported with volunteers and the Kingwood Greenbelt is a great place for a race.  The race directors, Paula and Steve Boone put on great races with nice swag.  His pre-race emails have all the information you need to know and I love the smaller marathons - specficically, picking up my packet race morning and not dealing with crazy crowds. 

I woke up at 6:15, left my house at 6:45 and arrived at 7:30 for an 8:00 am start.  I picked up my packet,  retrieved my timing chip, dropped my bag, hit the porta potty and still sang the national anthem.  That sure beats getting up at crazy pre-dawn hours to make it to a race.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes the fanfare of a larger marathon is nice, but generally, I think it is a headache.  

Overall, it was a well run race and I definitely recommend it, if not for the medal alone!  As for results, we came in #56 and #57 with a time of 4:09 or so in a race to the finish line that Mark halted at the last second to let me pass first.  In addition to the awesome medals, we also got little squeeze mice with our race place finish that you can see in the photo below.  These are fun to put on the trophy shelf!

We averaged 9:30s and I was happy with that.  We had four or more bathroom stops between us, nutrition grabs and a slow start with the crowds.  My PR is from the Houston Marathon in 2009 and it is 3:57, so running a 4:09 without a lot of effort on New Year's eve food, drink and sleep without a real taper was a win!  It also tells me that if I raced a marathon I think I could shave some time off my PR.  That might be a good 2014 goal to hit 3:40 so that I can qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon, I am waiting to age up!  In the mean time, I am the proud ownder of this supersized medal!