Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bagging the Marathon

So, about 2 days after my last blog entry, I decided to email the race director of the Nipmuck Trail Marathon to have him take me off the list for the race. I was pleasantly surprised when he emailed me back saying he was refunding my entry fee. Say, what?! Wow. That would never happen in a big road marathon. Gotta love trail racing. I actually wasn't as bummed about it as I thought I'd be. It's just not in the cards for me this year. I have a different plan for next year, so I'll just stick with shorter distances for now and just do what I can.
With the $50 refund from Nipmuck, I was able to put that to the Mountain Epic 12-mile race coming up on Oct. 9th, which I'm psyched about. I think it's going to be really tough, but I love tough. I may ask why I keep doing this to myself during the race, but afterwards, all the pain is forgotten and all that's left is the love for the run I just did.
September has been a good month for me with races. We moved out of my in-laws' vacation house in Center Conway, and, miraculously, the horrible illness that had been plaguing me for over a month was gone within 2 days. Makes me wonder about the house and possible mold, but anyway. The timing was perfect because I had 3 races within 9 days, and I wanted to feel good. So, finally feeling better, I started off with the Millen Mile at Kennett High School that I reluctantly agreed to. My last 1-mile race took place at the Athens Twilight Criterium $1000 Mile Challenge in 1996 where I proceeded to embarrass myself in front of thousands of people by coming in last. So when Tim Livingston asked me to do the Millen Mile, the feeling of horror swept over me while remembering my last 1-mile race. But, alas, I agreed to do it, knowing that I'm at least faster than I was then, and that the crowd might be only 100 people as opposed to 1000s.
True-to-form, I didn't train for the Millen Mile. My last speed work was in August of 2010 for no other reason than that I hate it. Ha ha. I hadn't even actually run just a mile by itself since the dreaded 1996 race, so I had no idea what I was capable of with this. I arrived very nervous, more nervous than I've been for most regular races. My armpits were sweating and I had the nervous shivers. After a warm-up with some of the other runners, the race finally got underway. I went out fast, as I always do, and surprised myself on being able to maintain a lead for the women right off the bat. I moved quickly for the first lap, but as I got into the second lap, I felt myself slow a little bit, but the woman behind me must have, too, since she stayed pretty much the same distance behind me the whole way. I saved a little for the 4th lap, fearing the second woman would blow past me right at the finish line, and finished 1st woman in a decent time of 5:46. Not outstanding. And it didn't even put me near the caliber of the first male, Kevin Tilton, and it probably would have still put me last at the Athens Twilight Criterium, but hey, I'm in Conway, so all is good. I was presented with an awesome glass bowl as a prize, and I love it as my new fruit bowl.
Finishing the Millen Mile
Two days later, feeling healthy, in fact great, this time around, I headed over to the Bradbury Bruiser 12-mile race back in Pownal, Maine. This course was different than the Mountain Breaker since it followed the mountain bike trails. Fortunately, I have experience with this type of course (Little River Trail Runs, Philosopher's Way), so I was excited and felt like I knew what I was getting into. I went out fast and stayed fast for pretty much the first 10 miles. The trail wasn't too hilly or technical, compared to what I'm used to, so I was able to keep a good speed. It reminded me of a cross between the Little River Trail Run and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail race, both of which I've run in North Carolina. I'd heard the talk of the last two-miles of this course and was a bit nervous about it, but I knew it was something like Little River, so I tried not to save too much, knowing I wasn't going to be able to keep the speed up.  Those last two miles definitely did not disappoint, and the talk was all true. It was like Little River x10. The trail was so windy, that I never knew where I was and it took me awhile to figure out if the people I was seeing were in front of me or behind me. At times, I ran right off the trail only to realize I was running into the woods with no trail underfoot. The biggest event for me was that I had my first trail running fall since 1998. Yes, that's right, I hadn't fallen trail running since my huge wipeout on the Appalachian Trail in NC in October of 1998. I've had more near-misses than I can count, and I don't hold back. I consider myself a pretty skilled technical trail runner, especially downhill, but this one finally did me in. All I know is that I tripped over something that sent me lurching forward in what felt like slow-motion sliding across the ground right into a tree with my left shoulder (yeah, my neck still hurts). The funny part is that as I was falling I knew I wasn't going to be hurt. Right after I fell, I was waiting for the, "Are you ok?" from a fellow runner, but apparently no one saw me fall. I  wasn't hurt so I jumped right back on my feet and kept going. I pulled into the finish line in 1:42:18 as first female. And I was even laughing at the brutality of the last 2 miles. It was just pure fun, really.
Trail Love from the Bradbury Bruiser
A week later, instead of my original plan to do the Pisgah Mountain 50K, I slept in, had coffee and meandered 10 minutes down the road to Echo Lake State Park for a second go at the Kismet Cliff Run. Last year, I just happened to be in town for this race. I'd come up for a short visit from Fort Bragg, NC where the hills aren't really hills. So the Kismet Cliff Run beat me to a pulp. It was really tough for me. I had no way of training for it where I lived, but I was still happy enough with my run. This year, I had the advantage of a lot of mountain running under my belt and two training runs on the course over the past 3 weeks. Although I felt like the course was still brutal during my training runs, I was actually able to run most of it, as opposed to last year when I walked almost all of the uphills. I still was unsure how I'd do this year. After the start, I went out somewhat fast, but I felt like I took the first mile a little slower than last year. My main goal was getting ahead of the two women who had gone out ahead of me. I passed them within the first half mile, but one woman held on strong behind me all the way up the first climb. Surprisingly, I ran almost the entire way up the first climb up Cathedral Ledge, even passing a guy I remembered from last year who beat me by 2 minutes. I noticed the 2nd woman still pretty close behind me so I pushed hard on the first climb and was hoping my downhill technical skills would push me even farther ahead. It worked, although she was still within view after I started my climb up White Horse Ledge. But with very little walking, I managed to pull far into the lead and knew I had it made. I get passed by a lot of men on technical downhills, but rarely by women. I just had to push through and run up to White Horse. I think there were a few spots I walked some steps, but I just kept running. Finally on the other side, I flew down the hills. This race is a short 5 miles so once you're up and over White Horse, the rest is a walk in the park. Three guys passed me on the downhill, but I managed to stay right behind the third guy all the way through the finish. When I was saw the clock as I crossed the finish line, I was floored. 51:39. Over 5 minutes faster than last year!!! And a new women's course record. Wow. I was so happy. Now it has me thinking how much better I will do at next year's Continental Divide Trail Race in North Carolina. I ran it in 1:01:?? last year with no good hill training. The course would be like a walk in the park to me now. I wouldn't be surprised if I beat my 2010 time by 6 minutes or so, but that's over a year away, so I'll have to stop thinking about that until next summer.
Start of Kismet Cliff Run. I'm #11 in the white top.
So, I guess you could say September has been a good month for me for racing and falling. I took my first fall in almost 13 years and then proceeded to take my second fall yesterday morning running down Middle Mountain. I have to say that one took me by surprise and actually hurt. I had to take few seconds to shake it off and catch my breath, and yes, now my neck hurts worse. Ha ha. That was a bad call on my part, by running right through the edge of a blowdown without the ability to see my footing. Yeah, real smart. I tripped over a root about half a foot high. But anyway, next up is the Mountain Epic in October, followed by the easy French Fry 5K and then, GASP, a road race, the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon. Hmm, should I get some road training in? Maybe not. Didn't need it for Boston, but maybe one or two. :)
Middle Mountain in the Green Hills Preserve. I had to climb up the tree a bit to get this shot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WORKING, running

So, since my last blog update, I've reentered the work force. Yikes! After over 5 years as a stay-at-home mom, it was a little scary, but it's been all good. I'm enjoying finally making money, and it's been working out great for Bryan and I to get time with John. It's definitely cut down on "family" time as a whole, since Bryan and I have to work opposite schedules, but I'm happy with it.
The only downside has been fitting in my runs. I'm getting it done, but it's been a struggle. Sometimes, I'm just not able to run due to our work/school schedules, but I'm trying. I'm a little nervous about the Nipmuck Trail Marathon that I have coming up in a month. I am definitely not ready. I haven't run over 15 miles yet. This past weekend was supposed to be an 18-miler, but Bryan's new job and Hurricane Irene disrupted that. So, this coming weekend, I'm going to have to manage a 20-miler somehow. I'm actually even considering bagging this marathon. The entry fee wasn't so much that I'd lose a lot of money, so I'm seriously considering it. I know I could go out there and finish the race, though, so I'm torn. It just wouldn't be a very good performance. We'll see.
I've had to cut my races down a bit, but I'm still getting them in as I can. In June and July, I ran two mountain races, the Cranmore Hill Climb and the Loon Mountain Run. The Cranmore Hill Climb was also the USATF Mountain Running Championships, so all the fast people were there. My training had been a little lackluster, due to sitting in my Wilderness EMT class 8-12 hours a day for a month, but I eeked out just enough mountain training to be in shape for the race.
Cranmore Hill Climb 2011
I was pretty happy with a 16th place finish and a decent time. I feel I can definitely do better next year and plan to actually train for mountain racing. My goal for next year is to do the whole New England Mountain Running Series.
A week after Cranmore, the Loon Mountain Race was held in Lincoln, NH. I made a last minute decision the night before to do this one, and I'm so glad I did. It was really tough, but I loved it. The weather was perfect and the course was torture, two of my favorite things about races. LOL. The race started at the bottom of Loon Mtn and made its way 5.7 miles up to one of the summits. I was really happy with my run here managed a 5th place female finish. While most people chose to take the lift back down, I chose to run back down, and it was amazing. I finally got to see the view!!
Loon Mtn Race 2011
Running back down Loon after the race
After Loon, I took a break from regular races and just stuck to our local weekly trail 5K at Whitaker Woods in North Conway. It was a 9-week race series, of which I ran 5. Unfortunately, I had to run 6 in order to count for a series win, but it didn't matter. I got to run two of the series runs with John for the kids one-mile, and I would much rather have done that than do the race for myself. In the 5 that I did run, I finished first female in all of them, so I'm happy with that. I think my fastest time was 20:40. I really enjoyed the series and plan to do it again next year.
That racing series left me happy not to do any other races for most of July, but by the beginning of August I was getting antsy so I signed up for the Bradbury Mountain Breaker 9-mile trail race in Pownal, Maine. I came to this race after working 11 days straight, on 5 hours of sleep and very sick. My lungs were so congested that I could barely breathe. So needless to say, this race was a struggle. At one point after the second loop, I considered dropping out. I was wheezing from the lung congestion. But I decided to just back off a little on my speed instead for a couple of miles. There was a decent flatter section that I planned to pick the speed back up around the 8th mile so I just went with it. Fortunately, the fast first loop kept me ahead of all the other women, so my slower pace didn't have any repercussions  except for a not so great finish time. I managed to still pull off 1st female by over 3 minutes. I was happy with that and glad I decided to finish the race. I already signed up for the next race in the series, the Bradbury Bruiser, and I'm hoping to come out healthier. The crazy thing is, is that 3 weeks since the Mountain Breaker, I'm STILL congested, lungs and sinuses, and coughing up a storm. This cold has been one of the worst I've had in a long time. So I hope I'll be all clear in 2 weeks.
Bradbury Mountain Breaker 2011
So anyway, I have quite a few races planned for September and October. If I decide to skip Nipmuck, I'll find a shorter, more local race to do instead. Heck, I might even sign up for the New Hampshire Marathon. It's only 1.5 hours away from here, and I'd be in somewhat decent shape for it. We'll see. Hopefully, I'll update my blog more often again.

Two Local Races and a Relay

Get a Running Start women's 5-mile race

In late April and early May, I managed to run a race every weekend. Two were local here in New Hampshire, the Spring into Spring 5K and the 14th Annual Get a Running Start 5 Mile Race for Women. The other was the Cape Relay, and what a blast that was.
I managed to finish first female in the 5K with a time equal to my PR 19:28. I felt great and just ran hard. 5Ks are easy, so it's almost like doing a 3 mile sprint. The 5 mile race was a women's only race held here at Cranmore. I'd never run a women's only race, so it was cool to be first in the race the whole time. I shot right out of the start and held the lead the whole, finishing in 32:32, way better than I expected. I was going so hard, I thought for sure I was going to puke in the middle of mile 4. I was so close. The best part about winning this race was that I won $100!!! My first real monetary award. Sweet!! And I'll take it.
In June, after finishing my WEMT course at SOLO, I ran in the There's a Black Fly in my Eye 10-mile trail race at Great Glen Trails. It was so fun, and I finished 2nd female overall. I felt great in this one, especially after sitting on my ass for nearly a month. It was good to get back out there for a longer distance trail race.
There's a Black Fly in my Eye


Monday, May 9, 2011

TARC Spring Classic 50K-DNF

Yes, my first Did-Not-Finish (DNF). BUT I came out planning not to finish, so it was all good. My left foot had been aching pretty badly after the Boston Marathon, and, um, this 50k was 5 days later. Big mistake just signing up for the thing. I'll remember that next year and just sign up for the half marathon.
I was really worried about my foot, and almost didn't come out at all, but I really wanted to see how it felt. I wasn't even certain I was going to make it two loops (half marathon); I thought I might even only make it one loop. But somewhere deep inside, I thought maybe, just maybe I'll make the 50K distance.
The race began under cloudy skies with rain in the forecast, but we were fortunate to have only light misting for most of the way. It was kind of strange for me to be at a trail race and not know anybody. I had gotten used to the trail runners down in North Carolina where I always had someone to hang out with, but as per the usual when we move, I have to start all over again. I did talk to one woman in the porta potty line who was pretty cool and ran with another woman most of the way who was also cool, so that made things better.
I started off the race sticking to a 50K pace. It was a little bit of a slow start since I started off in the back (which I never do). I thought that would be a good idea since we were starting with the half marathoners and marathoners, but it wasn't. The pace was still a little slow. I think I finally got out of the crowds around mile 3.5. This was a beautiful trail in Jericho Woods in Weston, Ma. It felt so good to be back out on the trails after running Boston. As much as I loved Boston, I longed for another trail race. It had been over 2 months since my last trail race, so it was well overdue. The trail was a bit hard to follow, but I managed to catch all the turn-offs, unlike others. One woman, and I'm pretty sure a big group in front of her, all went the wrong way in front of me. I yelled and yelled, but she didn't hear me and kept going. I felt bad, but what can you do?
Since I thought I just might still run the 50K, I took it easy and ran comfortably. It felt good, and my foot felt good, so I had hope. I finished up the first loop (6.55 miles) still feeling great. I stuck to my easy pace, and then about 1/4 of the way through this second loop, I really started to feel the foot. I kept going easy for another mile, and then that was it. I knew I was going to stop at the half marathon (end of this loop), so I picked up the pace. I started running hard. It felt good to finally be going at a faster pace. I started catching up with people and passing them, and then caught up with the woman and others who had gone the wrong way. HUH? They should have been behind me since they went the wrong way, right? Wrong. Turns out a lot of people missed that turn and it brought them back to the starting point about 3 miles too soon, so they were all back ahead of me again. Oh well, I decided to pass them and shortly thereafter finished up my second loop (half marathon) in 1:58:00. That's a little slow for me for a trail half, but it didn't matter. Not only was my foot aching at this point, but I could really feel the fatigue in my legs from running Boston. So I felt good about the decision to stop. I had really wanted to do another 50K, but this just wasn't the day to do that. I have no regrets about stopping. I felt great. And within about 5 minutes of finishing, the downpour came. I was happy to be dry and in my car on the way back instead of running in the cold rain. I don't mind the rain really, but if I don't have to run in it, that's cool with me. :)
So hopefully, I'll make it back to this one next year, but I will sign up for the half marathon instead, so that I actually get counted in the results, instead of a DNF. I actually thought I was going to be switched to the half marathon results, so I was bummed when I wasn't and was given a DNF, but what can you do. Next year.
Oh, and the funny part. Later that day, I noticed my foot was actually hurting less than before the race. Weird. That continued throughout the week, and by the following Sunday, the pain was gone. I don't think it's 100% healed, but it feels pretty good.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Boston Marathon- I loved it!!


I never really cared. I thought I would hate it, but much to my surprise, I loved every minute of it. From start to finish I felt like a million bucks. I had originally planned to start off slowly, and I thought I did... until I looked at my watch and realized I was about 20 seconds faster on the first mile than I had planned. I realized that I felt great at the pace and decided to just stick with it.
I was using a pace band that I downloaded and thought it would be a struggle to keep up with it. It turned out that I was only using it to check if I was on pace at every mile marker. Most miles, I was within 1-2 seconds of the band.
I couldn't believe how great I was feeling and loving the crowds and all the people around me. I hit the halfway point and got a little worried that I would start to wane from there, like I did at the Outer Banks Marathon, but I just felt so good! Just before mile 14 in Wellesley, Marion, my mother-in-law, spotted me coming and yelled to me. I was so excited. I ran over to Bryan and John and gave John a quick peck on the forehead then jumped back in the race. It was so cool to see them there.
Right around mile 16, the hills started. Seriously? What hills? I bounded up them, passing red bib after red bib (red bibs were worn by the people who started in the first wave; I was wearing a white bib because I was in the second wave). I ran all those hills 10-20 seconds under pace. I didn't even feel them. All of that mountain and trail running I did really helped.
The race continued and Boston got closer. I couldn't believe how great I still felt at mile 22. This is the point I hit the wall in the Tobacco Road Marathon last year. But on this day, there was no wall!! We ran into the city. The crowds were screaming. The Citgo sign got closer. We turned onto Hereford and then finally the left turn onto Boylston!!! There it was, the finish line!!
I ran faster and then crossed the line with the biggest smile on my face and hands in the air. 3:17:44!! A major PR!!


The elation after finishing a marathon was something I had yet to feel. I've always felt beat and just wanted to sit down after finishing the last 3, but after this one, I just kept walking and didn't sit down for almost 2 hours.
I followed the finishers as we got our medals and food and headed to the gear bag pickup. As I was taking off my shoes, I got a surprise when Cindy from runningskirts.com came over to me to give me a hug and a congratulations. She had just finished about 30 seconds behind me. I was so excited; it was like meeting a celebrity.
After gathering my gear, I went in search of my friend, Bruce, from Fayetteville, NC, who had also run. He was in wave 1, so he had finished about 21 minutes ahead of me. Bruce had a plane to catch, so we made a quick stop at Au Bon Pain, then jumped back on the T for the ride back to the car at Braintree. We headed back to Marshfield, and that was it, the end of my fabulous day running the Boston Marathon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And the countdown begins...

I can't believe Boston is only 5 days away. We made the drive up to New Hampshire finally. It was a long, but uneventful drive. It's so dead up here. Spring/Mud season is the slowest season up here, so North Conway is empty. It's kind of nice. I always like the slow months up here. Snow is still everywhere in the high elevations and all over the ground in the valley, as well. John's been enjoying sledding on the snow mound left in the driveway. It's hard to believe we left full-on spring last week to hit the end of winter up here, but I like it.

This weekend is going to be busy. I spent an hour or so this morning getting logistics in place for the entire weekend, and I still don't know if it will work out as planned. We're making the drive down to Massachusetts tomorrow, and I'm going to hit the Expo/packet pick-up shortly after it opens. I can't stand being indoors in a huge mass of people so I've heard Friday is the day to do that. I don't care too much about the expo since I can't really afford anything, but I do want to check out the Running Skirts skirt bar booth just to see the new collection in person. I doubt I'll buy a new skirt, it looks like I'll be sticking with my cheetah print skirt I got off their sale page. (See photo below. Disregard the shirt, though.)
After the expo, I'll see if I have time to hit Mike's Pastry to grab a dozen cannoli before jumping back on the Greenbush Commuter Rail.
Saturday morning, I'll be up bright and early to head back into the city to do Pat's Run Boston Shadow Run. Pat's Run takes place at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ to honor the life of Pat Tillman and to support the Pat Tillman Foundation. This year, ASU alumni have organized "shadow" runs all across the country to run non-competitive 4.2 mile runs to coincide with the official run in Arizona. The Boston run will begin in Cambridge and run an out-and-back along the Charles River.
I've wanted to do Pat's Run ever since I snagged one of the San Jose Pat's Run shirts at a thrift store in Monterey, Ca. I didn't realize at first what the race was for; it just looked like a good long-sleeve technical shirt I could use for running. I was totally unaware that "Pat's Run" was for Pat Tillman when I wore it for the Big Sur 2009 10.6 miler.
 I later noticed the back said the Pat Tillman Foundation on it and got it. I feel like I'm honoring Pat Tillman every time I wear it, even if it's just to keep people aware of him. I'll be getting the official 2011 race shirt to wear on Saturday, and as I run, I'll be thinking of him. If you don't know much about Pat Tillman, I recommend either Jon Krakauer's book, Where Men Win Glory. Be warned it will bring you to tears and anger, but it's a story that needed to be told.
After Pat's Run on Saturday, I'll probably hit the after-party and then hopefully, John and Bryan can meet me to go to the Children's Museum or hit the playground at Boston Common. It should be a good day.
Sunday will be low-key. I'll hang out in Marshfield mostly, maybe go for a walk with the dogs along the beach. I'll need to hit Whole Foods to grab a few more food items, but that's about it. I'll attempt to go to bed early, but who really sleeps the night before a marathon? Especially Boston.
Monday, I'll head up to Braintree to catch the Colonial Road Runners bus to Hopkinton, and there the final countdown will begin....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wayah Bald Run and St Patrick's Day 5k

On Thursday, I ventured up to Fontana Dam to pick up Bryan. Fontana is where the Appalachian Trail enters the Smokies going northbound. He'd decided not to go on because of the national park "no dogs" rule (except in Shenandoah and parts of North Cascades), which is funny considering we took Coy through the Smokies in 2003, and she's even been through Yosemite. We did get caught with her in Crater Lake National Park and slammed with a $200 ticket, but we still wouldn't let Miss Perfect Ranger drive us out of the park; we walked the road 11 miles out of the park. Take that, Ranger Girl.
So, anyway, we picked up Bryan and drove Rt. 28 (probably the curviest, slowest road I've ever driven on) to Franklin to pick supplies for trail magic. After that, we drove up to Wayah Picnic Area to camp. When we arrived, we found 3 older gentlemen camping there for the last night of their section hike. We had a great time by the camp fire under the moon with them. They were old classmates from the Citadel who had decided to section hike the AT over the next few years. That was definitely a treat, and it's what I love about the trail. Camaraderie, despite age, background, whatever.
The next morning, we bid them farewell, and I prepared for my 8.8 mile round trip run on the AT up to Wayah Bald and back. The trail started out somewhat steep, but after it crossed a forest service road, it leveled out pretty much all the way to the top. I stopped at the FS road for a drink out of a piped spring.

Once I reached the top, I spent about ten minutes hanging out. The view was superb and the weather wonderful. I ran into a couple of people but only spoke to them for a few seconds. I tried to get my dang camera to work for self-portraits, but it seems to be having problems focusing. Oh well. It was time to get back down to the picnic area anyway. The way back was super fast. A little rocky and rooty in some places, but I was down in no time. We had one hiker there when I arrived, and over the next 5 hours, we had a good flow until we were nearly out of food and drinks and packed it up. I love how small of a world it is. One guy who came through had worked with my aunt on St. Simons Island, Ga. for 10 years and was now out on the trail. Another group of guys used to live in Fayetteville, NC, where we just came from. Another guy lives in the town just north of where we're moving in New Hampshire. Such a great community; I really enjoyed chatting with them all and providing some much overdue trail magic. In the last 13 years since we became thru-hikers, we've never been givers, so it was time. Even cheap hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and soda can make a thru-hiker's day (fortunately, we didn't have any vegetarians or Bryan would have gotten a huge, "I told ya so!" since I told him we should get some veggie burgers, too).
We came back to my parents' house in Hayesville for the night and got up early for my 5K race. This was the Young Harris St. Patrick's Day 5K held in Young Harris, Ga. When we arrived to check-in, the woman there told us John was the only kid signed up for the Kids Fun Run (say, what?!). John immediately burst into tears. That was it; he was already in a bad mood, so he went back into the van and didn't come out until it was close to awards time after the race. That meant Bryan had to stay up there with him, and I had to venture down to the starting area by myself. It was pretty weird being in a place I didn't know anybody. I'm used to my peeps in the Fayetteville Running Club or all the trail runners I met over time in the Raleigh area. So I just spent the time checking out the other runners. I had on one of my best "you-can't-tell-I'm-kind-of-fast" outfits, so no one was really checking me out. The Young Harris College men's and women's cross-country teams were there warming up. I chuckled to myself remembering those days and how ridiculous I always thought it was to do a mile warm-up for a 5K. I still refuse to do it. I saw one girl that looked like she was running an entire 5K before the race, and she was moving along at a good clip. I figured she'd be the one who might give me some competition.
A little after 9am, we lined up at the start. Warm-up girl got in front of me with some of her other running buddies, and about 6 guys from the cross-country team got in front of them. I decided to go out fast, and I did. By the time we reached a half mile, I was already first female and about 7th overall. The course wasn't actually flat like I thought it would be; it was pretty hilly. Nothing crazy steep, but the first half was mostly uphill. I passed two of the guys from the cross-country team right at the first mile. Just before the turn around was a short steep downhill which meant a short steep uphill right after it. I have been doing some really good treadmill training that I think helped because I hit those hills strong and fast and passed another of the cross-country guys. After a good stretch of downhill and flat, the course hit a small section of the cross-country course before finishing on the soccer field. I thought for sure I'd blown a chance at a PR (my previous was 20:17), so I was shocked when I realized I'd just run that 5K in 19:28, finishing 1st female and 4th overall. Talk about a major PR. I don't even run many 5Ks or train for them, but I guess the training I have been doing really paid off in the speed department. Warm-up girl came in about 2 minutes after me, followed by some of the cross-country girls 3 or 4 minutes behind me. I should have gone to Young Harris! I wasn't as fast then as I am now, but I still could have made the team.
I hung out for awhile to watch the finishers. My favorite was a girl who was so nervous beforehand and running a 5K for the first time. She came in last with a big smile on her face. It was good to see, and people would be surprised to know that I've been there. I could barely run 2 miles after I had John, so I had to work my way back into it. I was that slow, larger girl huffing and puffing up the hill, but I just kept training and came back faster than I've ever been.
John eventually got out of the van to play on the playground and grab a cookie from the snacks. I got my award and we went on our way back to Fontana Dam where I dropped Bryan back off for his hike south back to Springer Mountain. He's going to run into those people we gave trail magic to, as well as some old hiking friends, Miss Janet and Hopeful. I'm so happy that Bryan has been able to do this. It's what he needed after over 7 years in the Army. I'm already noticing a calmness coming back to him that I haven't seen in a long time.
So, I still have one more 20-mile run to do sometime this week. Normally, it would have been today, but it's going to have to wait until we pick Bryan up in a few days so that he can hang out with John while I run. I'm tempted to run the Dupont Trail 12K Race over near Brevard this coming weekend, but I don't think it's going to work out. It's just a little too far away. But that's okay. Boston is coming up, and, surprisingly, I'm starting to get excited about it. I downloaded Greg Maclin's Boston Marathon Pacing Spreadsheet (which, by the way, is a pain the ass if you have a Mac, but I finally got it working). I think it's going to be the best thing for me, and I'm so excited to use it.
I signed up for the Pat's Run Boston Shadow Run for April 16th. It's going to be a 4.2 mile fun run along the Charles River to support the Pat Tillman Foundation. The real run takes place in Tempe, Az, but there are shadow runs that take place all over the country on the same day. I'm looking forward to that, as well. It will be a good way to start off that Saturday in Boston, since I'll hit the Expo/packet-pickup after that. And if we have time, we'll take John to the Children's Museum. It should be a really good day. I'm definitely starting to look forward to it all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Boston Marathon Trail Training

Yes, I got the memo. Boston is a road marathon, but I just can't bring myself to running on the road, so I'm sticking to the trails.
I had a fantastic run yesterday at the Jackrabbit Trails here in Hayesville, NC. They are mostly used by mountain bikers, but foot traffic is welcome. The trails aren't too difficult. No big climbs like last week's mountain run. Just a simple trail run. The trails are numerous and cover over 13 miles. I chose to do all but 2 of them for two loops, going in one direction for the first and the opposite direction for the second, and came out to about 20.75 miles. Link to my Garmin
The day was gorgeous. A little on the hot side for me at first, but after the first 5 or 6 miles, a cool breeze came in off the lake making it perfect. There were a few mountain bikers for the first 15 miles, but after that, they just kept coming and coming. I was happy to be close to finishing since it was starting to get old jumping off the trail for all the bikes. I really didn't mind, though; the mountain bikers are the ones who made these trails, so I was perfectly fine with giving them all the right-of-way. I've been experimenting with better fueling lately. I'm not a big fan of gels, sports beans, etc., but I've been using them some. I do like the Jelly Belly Sport Beans somewhat. I was chosen as a tester for Liquid Gold Organic Energy last year. It's pretty good, but I didn't feel it really gave me the energy I needed, and the molasses is kind of strong. I have been using the Perfect Foods Bar for my pre-race meal with great success, so I'll probably continue that, but yesterday, I decided to experiment with the Big Sur Bar, and it is by far the best energy bar I've ever had. These bars are packed with about 600 calories a piece. I ate half of one around mile 11 and the pick-me-up it gave me was amazing. So I'm planning to use this for Boston. My only issue is figuring out how to pack it since it's like a small brick. I'm thinking of slicing it and putting it in a ziplock and in my skirt pocket. We'll see.
Next week is another 20 miler somewhere around western NC. Bryan is on the Appalachian Trail right now for a section hike. He started at Springer Mtn. on March 3rd, and I dropped him off at Winding Stair Gap today. He should be at Fontana Dam by Friday or Saturday, where he thinks he might want to stop. If he does continue on, he's planning to skip the Smokies so he doesn't have to worry about having Chill on the trail. We got away with sneaking Coy through without an issue in 2003, but we've gotten two tickets before for having Coy on a trail AND off-leash in Crater Lake National Park, and it's pretty pricey. I don't think he's up for another $200 dog ticket.
If Bryan does stop at Fontana, then we're all moving back into the van and doing a little traveling along the AT for dayhikes and trail running until about April 11th. We have to go back to Fort Bragg to get our stuff out of storage for the drive to New Hampshire. Then, it's Boston Marathon weekend. So we'll be busy. If Bryan stays on the trail, then I'll just go up to Massachusetts for the marathon with John and then come back down here to pick Bryan up at the end of April. It's kind of up in the air right now. I do have to be in Mass by May 5th since I'm doing the Cape Relay starting on the 6th.
I'm starting to get anxious about getting this new chapter of our lives started. It's a little scary knowing that the Army paycheck, healthcare, etc. are about to cease, but I know we'll be fine. I think we'll be pretty settled by the end of July near Plymouth, NH somewhere.
I've managed to keep with the flow of normalcy by setting up my race schedule for most of 2011. I just added the Cranmore Hill Climb to my list yesterday. I used to carry my son up and down Cranmore Mountain when he was a little over a year old. It was not easy just to walk it. Running it will be a whole different story, but I'm not looking to win or even do that well. It's the USA Mountain Running Championships this year, so there will be plenty of elite runners there who will be racing for the win. This will just be a "fun" run for me.
I'm looking forward to all the New Hampshire races I have coming up. The trails are typically more technical than here in North Carolina, so it will be a whole different ball game, and I'm hoping to get in better mountain running shape over the summer. Next winter, the plan is to try snowshoe racing, too.
So, I have a lot of things planned. How that goes over with whatever job I find, I don't know, but I'll do my best to fit it all in.
So, anyway, this has a been a pretty boring blog entry. I think I had a more interesting idea of what to write while I was running yesterday, but I tend to leave my best thoughts out on the trail.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Museum of Aviation 1998 Half Marathon Results!

I can't believe it! I finally found the results from my first half marathon. It was the Museum of Aviation Half Marathon on Feb. 28, 1998. I ran it in 1:40:55 with two pulled muscles in my leg, but I felt great. It was a month before I started my first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail which then marked an end to racing for me for years. I didn't run another half marathon until 2009. So anyway, here's the list!



Sunday, March 6, 2011

Miller Trek Trail

Miller Trek Trail Run in Georgia

I was bummed about not being able to run on the AT, but little did I know the Miller Trek Trail would give me just as good of a kick in the pants. I learned, once again, that my hill training is lax. Wait. Did I say hill training? No, I meant mountain training. What I did today was run up and down a mountain 3 times. I climbed so high that I found the source of the gushing creek down at the bottom of the trail.
.1 into my run, I nearly busted ass on a super slippery bridge. It was a good save, thank goodness, because it would have been a bad fall. After that, I walked slowly across every other bridge.
I'm glad I didn't know this trail went all the way to the top of the mountain, or I probably wouldn't have chosen it for my 18-mile Boston Marathon training run. That's right. I ran 16 miles on a trail in the mountains for my road marathon training. LOL. Goes to show how much I care about the Boston Marathon. Not too much. I'm doing it just to do it, but, honestly, it's not my thing. I don't like crowds, people cheering for me or running road marathons, so, yeah, don't ask. I don't know. I qualified. I felt it was something I had to experience, but I might be a poor sport and black out my name. I can't stand people calling out my name. Will I be slapping hands? I bet not. BUT, I do expect to PR because nothing could be as bad as how I felt at Outer Banks Marathon. If I can't run faster than I did there when I felt like death, then that means I just gave up mentally. I think I can run a 3:22, so that's my first goal.
Anyway, back to the Miller Trek Trail.
I pulled into the "Trail Parking" area, got out of the van and then realized there was no trail at the trailhead. Hmmm, so, remembering what I read on some website, I ran up the road a little bit and found the trail beginning under a huge wooden archway. The trail was a creek for the first .3, and immediately began climbing. The trail, literally, did not stop climbing until 2.5 miles later. The trail was great. No mud, a bit rocky, not many blow downs and well marked, despite the blaze color changing from orange to lime green once I entered the Natl Forest. It's a well-maintained trail, but not heavily used at all. It's kind of a hidden gem around here.
The trail wound up to the ridge and continued to follow it until reaching its high point about 50 ft below the summit. Then came the long descent. At one point, I came across a gushing spring right next to the trail. If you know me, you know I'm a spring fanatic. I love finding a spring. I love spring water right out of the source. In NH, I used to carry a 3 gallon bottle in my backpack out into the woods to a spring and pack it back out. It was about 2 miles. So, I dumped what was in my bottle, filled it with spring water and then took a picture of the spring. So exciting... to me. I filled up again on the 3rd loop.
The trail descended pretty easily, but it was rocky and narrow enough that I couldn't put on the high gears. It didn't matter anyway. I was out there to enjoy myself and that's what I was doing. Marathon training be damned.
The trail looped back to where it began, and I went up and down two more times. I felt really good. I love that kind of run, and I'm really looking forward to doing more mountain running when we move to NH next month. I've learned I need to run more steep hills.
This run was great. I loved it.