April 2013

Real Life Rehab
April 23, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0

Sometimes I think endurance athletes need a coach or at least a handbook after they cross the finish line of their ultra marathon or endurance triathlon. There’s a big difference between training for an ultra marathon or endurance triathlon and no longer training for one.

Here are a few things I’d include in Real Life Rehab Post-Ultra guide:

1.     Yes, despite having just run 50 miles or raced 140.6 miles, you will probably be heavier post-race than before you got the crazy idea in your head to sign up for a freakishly long race in the first place. Yes, it’s not fair; move on. Try to curb your diet and remember what balance looked like way back when.

2.     You no longer have to spend twenty hours or more each week in training. No, really. Think back to what you used to do with a free Saturday morning. If it was that long ago, ask a yogi or CrossFitter. They have nice Saturday mornings.

3.     Put the credit card down and back away from the sign up page. Or not. I mean, if you’re doing ultra marathons or endurance triathlons, you’ve obviously already lost your mind.

Adjusting to life without a training plan is bittersweet. I’ve hardly run this past week. I did CrossFit and hot power yoga this morning and am thinking about running later but may decide not to. And it’s okay because I’m not training for anything. Less pressure.

On the other hand I miss my training plans that told me what to do when. It gave me routine, daily successes and at least one big challenge to look forward to every week. With back to back marathons, ultras and a 140.6 over the past year, this is my first actual break in training.

After a week off from exercise from not feeling too well I made it out to Orlando’s Corporate 5k. I’ve done this race several times in the past and wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s basically a huge office party with a 5k to kick it off along the streets of my favorite city. With my friends and coworkers. Win.

It was my first race since the tragedy in Boston and I think all runners were especially sympathetic and aware. Lots of moments of silence and silent prayers went out to Boston.

It’s a crowded race and it’s not chip timed, so I didn’t worry too much about time. Still, I finished in 26:20. I’ll take that right after a 50 and a week off.

Other than a run here and there I’m getting back into CrossFit. My legs and endurance are in tip top shape but it’s frustrating to have lost so much strength. I miss the barbell and all the personal records I was working on before I dedicated all my time to just running (and running and running).

The Week After 50
April 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm 0
Photo 4 I have to say, the week after the 50 is making me want to sign up for another! I feel great! Of course the day after the race was a rest day. The next day I eased back into it with yoga, and by Tuesday I was ready for CrossFit and running. I’d never push my body to get back to things if it wasn’t ready, but I do think jumping back in soon after tough races has helped me recover more quickly after each race. Photo 2 One week after the race I ran 15 miles with friends. It’s funny- despite completing 15 miles with a partner the week before, I was still nervous about completing the distance and not slowing anyone down. I guess pre-run anxiety is pre-run anxiety no matter the distance! My body felt strong all 15 miles but my mind wandered. Saturday I was so excited to finally make it to the box for a Saturday group WOD. WIth long runs Fridays and Saturdays preparing for the ultra, I missed out on the most fun day at the box. Every Saturday we do an extra-long team WOD and so many of the members come out for it. Photo 3 The WOD was a killer, the perfect “welcome back” to weekend WODs. The soreness is only starting to wear off! I think it’s safe to say my body’s back to normal. I’m so thankful to have escaped any aches or pains… I love running too much to have to sit out for too long. Photo 1 I was thinking about the race and running in general today and realized that endurance events help me prove the impossible possible. Never before would I have believed I could run 50 miles (or race an ultra triathlon), but (eventually) I did. And so the impossible was possible and not such a big deal anymore. I think this lesson has helped me take risks in my own life. I’m familiar with being out of my comfort zone and testing the limits.
How to Run 50 Miles
April 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”

-Paulo Coelho

Train back-to-back. Back to back long runs are key in any ultra distance. On a marathon you may do one long run a week increasing your distance close to the race day distance, but for the 50 my longest run was 36 miles (the second longest run was 24 miles). A Friday long run may have resembled a regular marathon training plan at 20 miles, but the difference is I’d run another 18 the next day. This gave me the endurance to tackle a distance longer than I’d gone before. Speed walk. Sure, when I think of speed walking I think of pastel jogging suits and Walkmans. But adding speed walking into my training has been beneficial in Ironman and ultra distance running. Sometimes you can’t run and have to add in some walking. If you’ve practiced speed walking (especially on an incline), you can cover more distance in less time while still taking a break. Load good music. On my last race I made the mistake of relying on Pandora to keep me entertained. Not to any surprise, the internet radio cut in and out and left me in silence for most of the race. For me, silence = a wandering mind = not good. This time I created a full playlist of my favorite relaxing and happy music and stayed away from anything too intense. Regular “running” music gets to be too much so I kept it low key with Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind, Glee and Mumford and Sons. Get a mantra. If you didn’t get this from my race recap, my mantra is what carried me through. Hands down. In the past I focused on “you only have one chance to do this.” For the 50, “stay in the moment” really helped. When my mind would wander to my Garmin or to how much my feet hurt, my mantra brought it back in and helped me push through. Find your perfect shoe. I finally found my perfect running shoe (Brooks Pure Cadence 1), but I’d more than worn down my current pair with an Ironman, three marathons and an ultra. They started to give me joint pain so I upgraded to a new pair (the first model is gone so I went with the Brooks Pure Cadence 2). I only had time to wear the shoes for one day before the race. I recommend more break in time, but the fresh shoes were amazing for all the impact that comes with 50 miles. Don’t get crazy. Don’t stray too far from your regular schedule on taper week. Sure, drink more water, stretch a little extra and hit the snooze button an extra time or two, but much more than that isn’t worth the stress. The course. Sure, better conditions and training had a role to play in this being the first 50 I didn’t DNF. But now that I’ve attempted an eight-lap road 50 and a three/four-loop trail ultra, the trail reigns supreme. There’s no better distraction than mother nature. I shiver just thinking about the horrific lapped road course after spending such a wonderful day in the trails. When going for 50, go trails.

 ”A winner is someone who sets their goals, commits themselves to those goals and then pursues their goals with all the ability that is given to them. That requires someone who beleives in themselves, who will make self sacrifices, work hard, and maintain the determination to perform at the best of their ability.”        

-C. Leeman Bennett 

In case anyone is dying to know, here’s the gear I wore and would wear again: lululemon outfit: Run:Inspire Crops, 50 Rep Bra, swift running tank, Groovy Thong, hat. Socks:  Feetures! Elite. Headphones: Yurbuds Inspire. Shoes: Brooks Pure Cadence 2. Compression sleeves: CEP (this brand offered more support than my beloved Zensah). What would you add to this list?
Race Recap: Croom 50 Mile Fools Run
April 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0
3:30am my alarm went off although I had been up and down all night, nervous. My running partner John met me at my house at 3:55am and we were off. We made it to the Croom 50 course with enough time to pick up our packets and use the restroom before getting to the start line just as the race director yelled, “go!” I was quiet before the race. I was scared to jinx anything or to realize out loud what we were about to attempt. Photo 2 The race included a 5 mile loop followed by three laps of the main 15 mile loop to total 50 miles on trails. We began at 6:00am in the dark, keeping high knees with the exposed roots and soft sand, struggling to see in front of us with the dim headlamps of the group. I didn’t bring a light so I followed closely behind John trying to mimic his steps. I held my breath most of the first lap before sunrise, scared of falling and deep in concentration. The race really started when we began the main 15 mile lap. By this time the 50k and 16 mile runners has started so a large group of us settled into a nice pace, running single file and holding on to conversations throughout the pack. I love the characters who keep up the momentum by being silly, like getting everyone to sing all the wheels on the bus… and loudly yelling “LOG!” at the most obvious trees across the path. I love running in groups and appreciate zoning out watching the shoes of the person in front of me and taking a break from looking from course markers for a while. Photo 3 We ran most of the first lap with different parts of that group before making it to the finish area where we’d begin our second lap, or the real meat of the race in my mind. I figured the first section we just pushed through, knowing it was too early to even think of the finish. The second lap would bring us to 35 miles and, if finished strong, would allow us to take it easier on the last lap knowing the finish line was close. The hardest part of the race came at mile 16 for me. This is when it feels hard during a marathon and the same held true for the 50. My legs were hurting and it was really hard to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed. Stay in the moment. Luckily, right before my race my (uncle? uncle-in-law? Richard’s uncle.) Matt gave me one bit of advice: stay in the moment. He told me to not think about the race as a whole but to focus on running and how I felt at each moment. Ladies and gentlemen, I feel like I discovered the key to races of all distances and speeds. By focusing on each moment, I avoided ever feeling like I was running 50 miles. Rather, it was a bunch of small moments that added up to a beautiful day in the trails that added up to a fifty mile ultra. I was so focused that it was almost a really intense meditation. Photo 1 I make no apologies and no excuses, but my goodness did we spend a lot of time at the aid stations. There were three along the course and one at the finish area so 12 in total. We loved talking to the runners and station volunteers… and eating. We spent 5-10 minutes at each station which is huge considering how many stations there were! Photo 2 I have an unbelievably sensitive racing belly. It has flat out ruined races for me so I put things in my mouth during a race with great caution (TWSS). For example, I don’t take in a single calorie during a regular marathon. It’s just easier than being in pain while running. On my last race I ate some M&M’s and discovered that they gave me energy… and didn’t hurt my stomach at all! At each aid station I ate M&M’s, drank water and took two salt pills. We didn’t carry any water of food which was okay except mile 41-43 where the next aid station seemed like it was never going to come. We significantly slowed down the last 9 miles and eventually walked most of the last three. We needed water and food and the last part of the lap was so much uphill. I think if we didn’t slow down and get so discouraged waiting for the aid station around mile 43 we could have kept going at a faster pace. Before the third lap I literally said, “John, we’d have to try so hard to get 11 hours or more.” And… we went over 11 hours. Photo 4 We crossed the finish line around 11 hours 23 minutes and were just so happy that we did it! I remember stumbling over to the water cooler and trying to find a cup to get myself some water. Instead I got frustrated and couldn’t stand anymore so I laid down in the leaves and dirt in front of the water cooler. I guess I was a bit delirious ;-) Photo 5
My big medal for finishing 50 hilly trail miles? A mug.
I have to give a huge shout out to the Croom 50 and Tampa Races race director and crew. This is the most welcoming, best organized race that really takes care of their runners. Every volunteer is so accommodating and friendly and I’ve never seen them out of anything. Thank you! Thank you to everyone who didn’t give up on me and this crazy goal. Your readership, tweets, comments and messages helped carry me along the trail. The thought that I would never again have to run 50 miles after this race really helped propel me to the finish line. Even the moment after we crossed, I vividly exclaimed the words, “never again!” Although yesterday I blurted out that I could imagine doing another, especially for a better time. And today I actually said I want to do another. Maybe it was how hard I focused on staying in the moment or maybe my mind is blocking the horror that can be 50 miles, but I only remember the good parts- the people I met, the beautiful trail and the feeling of finally crossing that finish line. It was a great day that I wouldn’t mind repeating.
I did it!
April 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0

after 50 with my running partner John

I remember the day I signed up for my first 10k and half marathon, still on a high from crawling through my first 5k the month before. I posted the half marathon confirmation slip on my bedroom door and circled the date and distance. “Why would anyone ever want to run that far?” I thought. I remembered that it was 13 miles from my dad’s house to Publix… and I couldn’t believe I would run that far. The next few years were filled with realizing goals and checking them off my list. I climbed to full marathons, 50k ultras and Ironman distance triathlons. I wondered how far I could go so I kept going. It gave me something to do, but it also made me a better person. Besides all that time to think, running has taught me about discipline, commitment and pushing through even when it isn’t fun at the moment. And yesterday I ran 50 miles. Fifty hilly, dirty, long miles. The journey to that finish line was by far more a personal achievement and mental challenge than a physical goal. It took training for and starting three 50 mile races, but only yesterday did I find that chunk of strength and determination deep inside that I needed. Yesterday was about friendship, meditation, relating with others and committing to the finish line despite the thousand reasons to stop running. Full recap tomorrow.

“Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.” –Mahatma Ghandi

The night before I run 50 miles. For real this time.
April 5, 2013 at 10:09 pm 0
Photo 5 I know, I know. I’ve published posts like this before. And I’ve come back with bad news. Twice, actually. I’ve dropped out of two 50 mile ultra marathons but tomorrow I will cross the nasty thing off my list once and for all. Photo 4 I’m bringing a lot to this race: excitement, fear and a little bit of baggage. I’ve faced this giant before. And it’s a big one. Photo 3 This time is different. I’ve run more and better. I’ve taken better care of myself. I’ll be running on a gorgeous course I’ve been on several times. I’m running with a friend. This year I know I’ve failed two times in the past. Photo 2 Tomorrow I am going to run 50 miles and be that much better for it. Photo 1
The Processes of an Ultra
April 3, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0
IMG 0549 Upon signing up six months or more out from the race: Sheer excitement. “Yeah, I’ve got this! Running this ultra is going to be great! I feel so strong; I’m ready!” One month later: Delayed realization. “Guess I should finally make that training plan. Wait…. you want me to run WHAT?” First few weeks of training plan: Undue glee. “This is awesome. I’m training for an ultra and feel great!” Last week weeks of training plan: Anticipation. Doubt. Reality. (most likely sick or dealing with another personal crisis because that’s just how it works) “Why the heck did I sign up for this in thee first place? Who runs like this?!” Taper week: Frenzy. Hysteria. Bursts of emotional breakdowns. “Did I train enough? Too much? I know I should eat healthy but I feel like eating everything! I’m scared! Poop!” Race morning: ………. I’m running a freaking ultra… no words. Post-race: Unnatural levels of elation. “That was the best thing ever! I love running ultras! I’m going to sign up for another tonight!!”   Can you relate to any of these emotions?
Five Days and Counting
April 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm 0
Sorry I’ve been MIA. It’s been a little bit of sick, a good amount of work and a whole lot of pretending I’m still a kid. Photo 3Photo 1Photo 5Photo 4 I just realized two of those photos were taken at the grocery store on two separate days. What can I say, I hang with kids who know a good time. Today marks five days until the Croom 50 mile ultra I’m running with my friend John. We ran 11.5 miles tonight to kick off the rest of a taper. I’m feeling a lot going into this race: doubt over if I can do it, excitement to finally cross it off my list and a whole lot of baggage from the two 50′s I DNFed. Five days!