Monthly Archives: September 2010

Back to Training

It’s time to return to the plan. I took a few days off after The Ring. The blisters have healed up, and I think I’ve got sufficient rest. I’m back to my twenty pounds weight loss plus two more. I’m very tickled about that. Sorry that you, dear reader, will hear more of my yammering about weight loss and such, but it really makes me feel positive. And positive action begets more positive action..

Which leads me to brag mention a small victory this morning..being a chilly morning, I grabbed my Brooks Buckeye Trail “Run for Regis” jacket and donned it.I’m swimming in it! It’s just a large. I feel I can almost wrap it around me twice!

I spent time this week ruminating over an article that I first read in the Spring Edition of Road Runners Club of America Magazine.The article was about setting goals-nothing new, but I cut the article out and pinned it to the bulletin board. Then, earlier this week, I took it down, really read it, and thought this is a nice reflective time to go through all the steps outlined, and make a plan. So the main headers below are courtesy of the RRCA article, with my plan written below.

1. Define what you want to accomplish this year

I guess if you use a rolling year, that would suit my plan. I want to complete the 2011 Massanutten 100 Trail Race.

2. Know where you are Right now

Err, I y’am what I am. I have a pretty good handle on what I am capable of at this minute.

3. Be Honest About What you Need to Develop

My Gaps: Speed

What can I do about that?

A. Lose Weight

B. Walking Speed

C. Hill Work

4. Set Sub Goals-break down your outcome/season long goals into specific, concentrated areas, like physical, nutrition, and mental skills.

Sub Goal: Weight Loss

1. Journaling and following WW Plan-consistently log and journal

2. Eat more veggies-get the 5-7 servings in

3. Eat less processed food

Sub Goal: Walking Speed

1. Walk the FAA Road-I plan on using one of my training days a week to improve on walking. My outside walking speed is just simply not fast enough. Although I have improved walking on the treadmill, the treadmill does too much of the work. I have a graveled road on our property-a private road, perfect to use to improve the walking stride.

2.Treadmill Walking-I know I just mentioned that the treadmill does too much of the work, but I will also use the treadmill, and the ability to increase the incline up to 10% on walking. I learned after last winter that although it can be the “Dread mill” it has allowed me to get in workouts when the outside conditions were too unsafe to be in.

3. Incorporate strides into runs-Lloyd had me doing these, and I will get back to this by gum!!! (This is one of these areas that I will put on the check-list for accountability.)

Sub Goal: Hill Work

Devote one day per training week to this

Change up the hill-drive to hill if necessary due to time constraints-I mention this because I meant to do hill work this summer. But the hill I wanted to do repeats on is mile 3 of my 6.4 mile loop. I felt it was ‘too far’ into my run, and I was spending too much time anyways…yada yada yada…so I think I will cut the whining out. If I have to drive over to the hill, so be it. Run a short warm-up and then hit the hill.

Also, change the hill! People, I live in the foothills of Appalachia. All I run on are hills (hence the “I don’t need hill repeats….”) I got lots of hills to chose from.

Log mileage and times for tracking and improvement-I think this is important. Establish a baseline of time from bottom to top, and top to bottom. Keep a log of this, so I can see improvement.

5. Commit yourself Totally-declare Goals. Committing yourself means writing down your goals where you will see them at the forefront of your mind. Creating a daily or weekly check off list that will help you stay motivated, as it allows you to see what areas you are doing well in and not so well in.

I think that’s what I am doing with this blog post! I also have been creating a little Excel spreadsheet, so I can mark certain areas: running mileage for the week, walking mileage, stretching, core workouts, weight change, strides. I may try to post it or do a screen shot to show.

6.Continually Monitor Your Progress

I think having my spreadsheet will help with this.

So, can you tell I like to plan things out? I feel really good about this. It helped to sit down and think about all the aspects of “a plan” and then to create the smaller steps to make this happen.

But Kim, what if you don’t get into Massanutten? The MMT 100 has gone to the lottery system. I did not get in last year, and was on the waiting list. I believe, if I had stayed on the waiting list, I would have been in the race. Sure, I might not get picked, and then be at the bottom of the wait list. And if that happens, it happens. But I am going to train for it (which is already going on, with my rolling calendar year) as if I was already selected. It’s only about 200 days out and counting..

Post Run Reflections

Second day after the Ring, and I feel pretty good. I didn’t get out on my bike yesterday, due to company being over. The legs are just a little stiff. The blisters are healing.

I need to work on the blister issues. I have calluses on the outside of each heel, with a blister underneath. I need to work on getting rid of those calluses. I think I need to do some shoe research, and see if I can find one with a better fit. I may try the Scarpas that I wore for a review for Trail Runner Magazine a year ago.

I’m real pleased with this comparision:

I’ve noted with glee the number going down on the scale, but it’s gratifying to see the gut shrinking. I’ve lost about 20 lbs. I need to lost another 15 lbs. I’m getting faster, just by being lighter.

I need to work on my walking. I will turn one of my running days into a ‘power walking’ day. I have done this on the treadmill, but I need to do this outside. The tread does the work for you. I have the perfect road for this too, the private road on our property. The FAA has an road easement through our place to a FAA directional beacon adjoining us. The road has been redressed in the last year with large #1 gravel-rocky and not that pleasant to walk on-PERFECT for training!

I also need to work on going up hills more efficiently, so I will target one running day a week to do some hill repeats on.

AND I need to get back to the Hard Core Workouts! I need to get the core stronger!

Yes, I had plenty of time to think about training needs on my run Saturday.

Being on the Massanutten rocks really sparked my desire to improve and go back there again.

Fellowship of the Ring

The Ring

For the uninitiated, The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, roughly between Front Royal and Luray. The “trail” is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around in some cases for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.

The Virginia Happy Trails Club immediately pounced on this trail on completion. Two members, Chris Scott and Anstr Davidson, were the first to complete the Ring. This got the ball rolling, and every fall, more runners are iniated into the Ring.

This is a FatAss Event. Except Virginia Happy Trails does this up. Aid stations, drop bag support. These AS stayed opened all day and night, even supporting us slow poke runners to the very end.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself. (Sigh. This shall be long.)

Friday, Cam Baker, Jim Harris and myself drove down. We went over to Bird’s Knob, to see what that trail was like, since it is not on the Massanutten Trail (but part of the MMT 100 Race course.)

On the first 1/2 mile of the climb, in the same old shoes and socks I’ve worn before, hot spots are developing on my heels. I stop to adjust the sock, then stop again to tie the shoes tighter. Nope. I can already feel the blisters on each heel. I quit fussing about it, and enjoy our 8 miles we spend up on the ridge.

I’m planning on taping the bottoms of my feet anyways, so now I will also tape my heels for the run on Saturday.

After a very nice meal with members of the VHTRC Friday night, I awake to “your waffle is ready” made by one of the RD’s, Quatro. Freshly made waffles and sausages and coffee race day morning? Sweet!!

Pre-race picture. I’m still nervous and apprehensive about the trails out there. I believe Mike Bur said ‘okay, go’ and we were off! to the sounds of an accordion player. So light-hearted and happy. Most of the field passed me quickly, and I was left alone, as usual. Right across the road was Elizabeth Furnace. The first miles passed by quickly and uneventful. I was worried about water. We’d been told no water at Veach Gap, but at Milford Gap, about 13 miles in. There was aid, at Milford, and I ate, and filled both my 2 Liter hydration pack and one hand held. It was a warm day, and I had drained all earlier.

Carolyn Gernard had caught up to me at this AS, and we began to stay together at this point. I believe I was a bit faster than Carolyn, as I felt my pace was just a tad too slow behind her-I didn’t feel like I was working hard enough. But this didn’t bother me, as I had no prior knowledge on this course. At this point, like many ultras, the goal is to just make it to the next AS.

And chatting with Carolyn got the song out of my head. We are running on the ridge line, which means we are literally on top of the mountain. On this trail, you can see off to the east….and off to the left. I had this terrible Carpenters song stuck in my head for miles:
” I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world”

Yeah, you get that in your head for miles!!!!

Carolyn is a total knowledge geek about the Massanutten Trail, and I’m so lucky to be running with her! She knows every cross trail, she knows what is upcoming, I felt like I had my own private tour guide for this run!

This is a section of trail, as we approached Waterfall Mountain. Kind of uneventful, with a gradual climb. It looks like this section has burned recently, lots of young sassafras trees here.
We also caught with Jason, that also ran at Laurel Highlands. He was struggling, but it seemed to rejuvenate him a bit to have some folks to chat with as we approached Waterfall Mountain.

At the bottom of Waterfall Mountain. Not currently used in the MMT 100, but has been in the past. Carolyn told us that it is 2400 steps. She counts to get her up the mountain. It’s short but steep. I start counting also. OMG. I’m at only 200? I resolutely keep counting. Carolyn announces 1000 and I start over again. Then I just give up and follow steadily up the hill. Jason stops for a rest and I pass him. We keep going. I stop for a moment, to see where Jason is. No movement below. I keep going.
Carolyn is good with the carrot and stick reward. She warns of what is coming, but then re-assures what is ahead. Which is another aid station, not far after we reach the top. Carolyn is way ahead of her normal pace, which everyone at the AS is very happy about. We both eat up; I change out of my nasty salt-encrusted singlet for a YUT-C shirt and we up and on on Kerns Mountain.
After Waterfall Mountain, Kerns doesn’t seem that ‘bad’ to me. We’re boulder hopping, and climbing, but we’re trying to get as much trail in now that we can before dark.

I believe we hit the Moreland Gap AS, and then started up Short Mountain in the dark.
On Friday, Slim and I are driving along I-81, and he remarks “wow Short Mountain sure looks intimidating from here” and I look at this MOUNTAIN that I am going to run UP and then down! Now I am actually doing it!!!!
Carolyn starts to fade a bit on me on Short Mountain. She mentions she might have to stop and take a nap to regroup, and just wants to let me know. I tell her that is fine, I will just grab my windbreaker from my drop bag (her crew member, Chris, has been shuttling my bag along with Carolyn’s for many miles) so that Chris can stay with Carolyn.
But before long, Carolyn’s stomach rebels on her. It’s the start of quite a few puke festivals. I feel bad for Carolyn. I don’t know what to do. Really, there’s not that much I could do. We slow down, way down, and continue our way. Now Carolyn’s nap has turned into “just get off this mountain” and we continue down.
Carolyn is concerned about me and my run, and says to go on ahead. I tell her of course I’m not going off and leave her sick on the mountain! I have no preconceived times for this, as I have never done it before. And I would never leave a sick person out there on the mountain! I’m grateful I’ve had her as my own personal tour guide for the MMT Trail!
But it is long and slow off Short Mountain. We get to our aid at Edinburgh Gap. I have the famous soup here, and ask about the next section of trail. Now I am on my own for the run! Bedford tells me it is 8 miles and change and rather boring.
Well, boring is good, I think, after Kerns and Short Mountain. I head off into the night. The first two miles or so go well. Then the sleep deprivation kicks in, and I’m struggling. Struggling badly, in the wee hours of the morning. Typical ultra stuff, except I haven’t experienced it for quite some time. I know my stomach can’t handle more caffeine pills, in fact, I’m delicately putting food in now. I wish I had brought music to amuse me.
I lean up against a tree and close my eyes for a few seconds. That doesn’t help. In fact, it seems to make me more dizzy. Using my second light to look for blazes, as I pick my way through rocks, and my anxiety over staying on the trail, seems to be the only thing to keep me going.
I get to Waterfall to very enthusiastic Caroline Williams and company, AND Carolyn and Chris. I’m pretty numb at this time. Carolyn nervously tells me my drop bag is Lost. Okay. She asks if there is anything important in it, like car keys. I ponder that, and say no. I’m really so punch drunk at this time, it doesn’t matter to me. All I want to know is, how far to Powell’s Fort, cuz I know Signal Knob is after that. And MAYBE sometime, dawn will occur!!

I’ve been thinking about sun rise since 3 am. I know I will get a second wind when the sun breaks. At this point, I am singing songs out loud to myself. And talking. Anything to keep me going. There are these disgusting wormy caterpillars that only seem to come out at night, and I shriek when I touch one on a tree.

Morning finally breaks. I can finally stop looking for the orange blazes with the light. I can know see them. I can finally get this headlamp off my head.
Slim has warned me about the run to Powell’s Fort. He says it will be cold, don’t stay long, and you will have a big climb, up a road, to Signal Knob. He had also pointed out Signal Knob from the car-a big old mountain, with cell towers on it.
I run a huge descent, which I am cringing. I know I have a climb. Any down hill means it is going up, eventually!
I eventually do turn out on a road. There IS an aid station, still here, hours after any runners have come through. There is a nice soft spoken woman with an accent here. She fills my water bottle as I eat small chocolate chip muffins. I find out later this is Eva, a rock-star 100 mile winner, out here tending to my ‘last of the pack’ issues!
As warned, this road gently winds up forever and forever. It is cold down here, but I’m “power-walking” as best I can. When does the climb begin? I know I have a climb! I know it’s here somewhere!!! But the road winds and wind.
Until I can see the climb. Okay, I’m good with that. FINALLY.
Except it climbs and climbs. Since I’m from Ohio, we don’t have that many hills. On a race, called the GroundHog 50K, it has nice hills. One is called “YellowBus“. This climb is like YellowBus, with many false summits. It’s like YellowBus X TWELVE!!!!!!! I stop looking up and start counting steps. I get discouraged and then just count to 10. Over and over.

I finally get to Signal Knob. The last spot. 5′ish miles to go. I stop and pull out my phone and call my husband to let him know I am still alive. I remember to take a picture, although it doesn’t do justice to what you can see up here.
I don’t linger. I am almost done. I am going to finish the Ring!!
Actually, not finishing has not been an issue. I felt very relaxed with this, since there are no real time cut offs. The AS workers were very supportive (hey, when you are last, everyone knows your name!!) and they still had real food and drink left out. That’s very good when you are in the extreme back. Us slowpoke runners need good food and drink, not just any old crappy leftovers that no one else would have-that’s why they’re called leftovers!

But first, I have five miles to go. Down Signal Knob. I’ve had emails that only mention Signal Knob and sucking. No one goes into details. It’s ominous.

It doesn’t look so bad, does it? All these rocks? (Not that there were not rocks the other 65 miles!!!!) These are all pointy side up.
Really. My feet have been tender since around mile 50. I had been thinking of changing shoes (but then my drop bag was lost.) But this is Massanutten, and everyone’s feet is torn to shreds. So this isn’t anything new.
I start picking my way through it. It’s hard. My feet hurt. Then I decide, screw it, just run on top of it. It’s not going to make my feet hurt any less.
So I do, until I come to the ‘granite seas’ as I put it. These are big rocks (the pic below really isn’t justice, but I was fried and not using the camera any more at this point). It’s hopping and picking your way across, and not trying to fall.

I get to some sign that says Signal Knob Parking Lot, 3 miles. Longest 3 miles of my life. I felt like Sisyphys and his rock-I am doomed to stay on this trail for the blasted rest of my life! The switchbacks off the mountain were horrible. I would have rather just rappelled down to the parking lot.

I still have the energy to run into the parking lot, surprising the few folks there-Jim, Caroline Williams, Jason, and Eva. Apparently, as last place finisher, I’m well ahead of when I was expected!

Finisher! I finished in 27 hours, 36 minutes (somewhere around there). This is the club record for the fastest last place finish. (I guess usually last place finishers have been around 30 or 31 hours.)

After I recovered, emotionally, of that Signal Knob finish (and I think you have to experience it, to learn the term SUCK) and a nice shower and piece of pizza, I think I can answer Quatro’s question “Did you have fun?” with an emphatic, yeah, it was fun. I had a great time!

But there is more. Now that I am in the Fellowship of the Ring, there is another category, The Master of the Ring. It’s the Ring, in Reverse (cleverly called the Reverse Ring) in February.
I think I’ve been smitten with the call of the Rocks.

Apologies for the big old long post. This was the bare bones post. I hope to get something out tomorrow, with more thoughts and reflections and such!

Woohoo Ready to Go!!!

I thought I would post a much more positive blog before I leave town. The post before this is true. I had written it, then sat on it for about 23 hours, read it, and decided it was still valid emotions for me.

BUT I do have to say I’m horribly excited. I LOVE adventures! I love to visit new places and see new trail! I’m as prepared as I am going to be. I got my drop bag packed; my clothes ready, and am charging the camera battery so I can document the whole journey. Or, at least, the first few hours.

Hurricane Earl has been adding an additional level of excitement, but I don’t think it’s going to affect western Virginia at all, maybe contribute to the cooler temps-it should be in the high 70’s during the day, and high 50’s at night. Weeee! Great running weather.

Okay, I’m off to work all day, get home around 930 pm and try to get to sleep asap. My day will start early-3 am wake up call!