Monthly Archives: January 2013

Back in the Fifties Again

I dropped Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. I was not getting anywhere on it. Logging my food was just too time consuming.

 I do think WW is a great program. But not for an endurance athlete running one plus hour daily. It is more for a sedentary person, who is just trying to hopefully get more active out there.

 Have I changed any of the way I have ate since quitting WW? No. I haven’t. I have eliminated my melba toast crackers, one of the few processed/premade foods I snacked on daily.

 Now I have been eating homemade beef or venison jerky for the saltiness that I crave.

 I stepped on the scale this morning and was ecstatic to see 159.5.  FINALLY back to the 50’s again. I gained about five extra pounds during my ugly August, and have finally gotten them back off. Which still leaves 10 pounds-actually 9.5 pounds-to still lose. I am never going to be one of those skinny runner chicks, and I am good with that.

Run for Regis pic, NOT today!

Today was my long run of the week, a 15 miler.  I had been looking forward to hitting trails, but with all the rain we’ve had the last two days, I knew that would be pure mud.  So I cobbled a route around the neighborhood here, but it only came up to about 12 miles.
This was a very difficult run.  The wind was sustained.  It blew and blew.  I was wearing tights, then my wind pants over them.  A wool shirt, and my eVent Jacket over that.  A breathing mask and a merino wool Buff on my head.  Gloves and my $30 dollar windbreaker mittens over them.
I felt like I weighed 200 lbs for the first 4 miles of this run.  (Which was kind of interesting, as I weighed less this morning than I have in months..)  I felt slow, but I really wasn’t when I glanced at the Garmin.
The wind was kicking my butt. Depending on what direction I was going, sometimes it was full force against me, or sidewise.  I did kind of “warm up” around mile 6 or 7 and felt like I was having a decent run.  But I started to stiffen up, both my back and hamstrings. I think that was due to the wind, and I was bracing against it.

So, only 12 miles.  I couldn’t face doing an out-and-back in this weather.  It was an okay run, I’m glad I garbed up and got out there.  Several hours later, my back is very stiff, and I am sure that is due to the run.
I’ve already forgotten about those balmy runs (in 65 and 58 degrees) of Tuesday and Wednesday..

I survived January!

I survived the tough month of January!

I think the month of December was harder. There were more runs in the dark in December.  By the time January rolled around, we had gone through the shortest day of the year and have started building up daylight.

December miles: 225
January miles: 209.  Slightly less, but due so with a recovery week after the training weekend on the Massanutten Trail.  Still, more miles than I have ever run before. Consistency, consistency, consistency!

I had many carrots in January, to look forward to.  That made it a little bit easier to get the runs in knowing you had a “reward” at the end of the week.

First was “Run for Regis” where I got to run trails and see lots of friends.

Then was MLK Training weekend, where I got to travel to Virginia, see old and new friends, AND get miles in on the Massanutten Trail! (Okay, I had been looking forward to this since..December..)

February Carrots:

Arkansas Trip:  Well, I’m not so sure about the carrot, but we are travelling to a friend’s wedding in Arkansas. I’m already fretting about how to get at least one run in on my three day weekend. I hope we do not encounter any tornadoes whilst there.  It probably is good for my running schedule that this is the week before:

Reverse Ring! The Last Weekend of February:  Well, I have been looking to THIS since missing The Ring on Labor Day Weekend.  I will strive not to do that again.

Only one rule: stay on orange

Some of the Reverse Ring 2012 Starters

Snow Squall on Signal Knob

Kimba almost to Woodstock Tower.  A little wind burnt already

To me, it’s always good to have these “carrots” or “treats” or “events” to look forward to.  Heck, this week, I have been looking forward to a 15 mile trail run on my day off.  Since we’ve been in a deluge for the last 3 days, and the trails would be a “cold mess”  I am going to do my 15 miles on my back roads.  That’s okay now, given the weather conditions.

But it’s good to give yourself little things to look forward to: like an unexpected run in January in 65 F ; an early hour out of work for another daylight run; a trail run; a run scheduled with friends, albeit the distance.

This is how I get through my winter of running. And hey, Massanutten is now 106 days out. But spring will be here before that!

Twenty Eight Day Blog Challenge

Okay, it’s another blog Challenge!  This one is greatly needed, I think.

Katy Widrick has organized this. “It’s time to commit to building a better blog and creating community — so come join the 28-Day Blog Challenge! It’s the shortest month of the year but you can have a big impact by taking small steps each day in February. We start on February 1 and whether you’re just beginning your journey or are a well-established blogger looking to become even bigger, everyone is welcome. I’ll make recommendations of 28 things you can do.” 

You may see some changes, additions, improvements to my blog. Or I may manage to break it completely-if that happens I would hope someone will let me know!

Back to Training!

I’ve been writing this blog for a long time. Sometime I’m going to go back and see how many posts were titled “Back to Training!”  I bet there are quite a few..

I have actually still been training. Never stopped, in fact.  This just happened to be a low volume, recovery week from the big push in the Massanutten Mountains last weekend.

The cold snap hit here when I returned home. So my three recovery runs during the week were on the treadmill.  I could not see garbing up and venturing out into 10 degree F weather when  I was only going to do four or five miles.

I did get out yesterday for 4’some miles, and today returned to my normal “10K” (6.4 mile) around the block and felt fine.  I was pretty tired, on and off, last week, so was fine with low mileage.

Now I am back, with a two week schedule of runs planned! (Last week was pretty low key, ‘run as I felt’..) and hey! Monday is an off day from running wooT!! 

Of course, TPTB (the powers that be) have seen that my 15 mile long run on Thursday will correspond with the dramatic dip in temperature from Mon-Tues-Wed here in Ohio…

De Cluttering

“Heck, all ya need is a pair of shoes to go running!”

Who ever said this was apparently not an ultra runner, and not an ultra runner who lives in my house hold.

It started out very innocently. I wanted to re-organize the plant room and install another rack for seed-starting.
Then I decided I would take the table out of the plant room, and put that in my office for my desk.

Then the husband wanted to know if I wanted to move the white rack out of my office (where all my running gear is stored) and put that one in the plant room, and then he could install two smaller racks in my office.

So we are currently 40% through this project.  The table and first rack have been moved.  I am up to two garbage bags of “stuff” that I am getting rid of.  Now while he installs the two racks, I’m going to go through yet more stuff.

This is a good way to get all my running gear re-organized organized for the year.  Pics to follow when project complete!

 I have my Philly Flower Show posters framed.  I also swapped out my old door on sawhorses for Grandma’s old 1950 table.

 Got all the running gear re-organized and threw some stuff out.

 I don’t know why the plant room pic came out so dark.  This is where I will start the seeds soon.  I use regular shop lights, and adjust the lights up and down via the chains.  The cardboard box is our homemade dehydrator than Dennis makes jerky in:

AND I did get my run in!  I got out at 230 pm, kind of late for me on a weekend, but I wanted to get the run in.  Felt very good, ran my loop in 1.15 without any extra effort.   I am getting quicker!

Virginia Training Day Two

Training Day Two was to be the “Gap to Gap” training day, but the park service closed Crisman Hollow Road early, so the start/finish was now “Rt 211 Parking Lot to Rt 211 Parking Lot”.  We did the same amount of miles, but now not in the proper race sequence.

Speaking of miles, I had decided on Saturday to cut back on the Sunday miles.  It had more to do with the drive home on Sunday after running, I didn’t want to be unsafe on the roads.  I also had to work on Monday and didn’t want to get home at midnight.  So I cut off the bottom loop, or the Bird Knob loop section.

Intersection at Waterfall Mtn
For the first part of the run I ended up in the Team Gaylord Posse. I had not met Bob Gaylord before.. he is quite the character.
Bob paid me a started out like this “..don’t take this the wrong way..”  uh, oh, what’s coming? 
“You are one tenacious bitch!!”
I laughed. I thought that was pretty funny.

This section, which is around mile 88 in the race, was my low point in both 2011 and 2012. So I wanted to get on the section again, and get more familiar with it.  Was it as bad as I remembered?  Was it as long as I remembered? Could I do something different, calorie/hydration wise, to get through this section?

You leave the Rt 211 parking lot, try not to get killed crossing the road, and start up the white connector trail.  This is a wide, almost jeep road, exposed to the sun-of course not a problem in January.
I was tired, a bit sore and stiff overall, and my throat hurt due to all the cold air breathed in Saturday.  I couldn’t find my mask for Sunday, it was somewhere in my vehicle.  So starting off this section tired and stiff was perfect! Just how I feel in the race at mile 88 (except I would not have drank about 5 beers 8 hours prior..)

We get to the intersection at Waterfall Mountain and head up the orange blazed trail.  I’m in the lead of the current group I am in, and feel I am moving a bit too fast, but whatever.  There is not as many switchbacks over the creek as I remember.  It is a good climb, and I am getting pretty sweaty, even for January.  So the memory of the climb is correct.  We climb up the creek bed, which is pretty dry today.  Before I know it, we’ve hit the top and started that nice long downhill which leads to Crisman Hollow Road. I check my Garmin when we hit the road section-it’s only about 5 miles from Rt 211 to Crisman Hollow Road, it’s always seemed longer than that.

It’s about two miles down the road (actually the turn sheet says 1.4 miles) to the Gap Creek AS.  There is no aid here today, because of the road closed.

Now we start up the infamous Jawbone Gap Trail.  This is the only section of the MMT course that you travel over more than once.  You first hit this aid station at mile 69.  You climb the 1.2 miles to the ridge.

If this is mile 69 and your first time through  here, you turn left on the orange blazed trail and travel Kerns Mountain toward the Visitor Center Aid Station Eventually.  If it is now mile 97 into the race, you still climb up Jawbone but now get to go straight and down to Moreland Gap Road on your way to the finish!

Jeff and Tom at top of Jawbone

Since I didn’t wear my windbreaker jacket at all on Saturday, I didn’t even bring it with me on Sunday. Which was really stupid, because there was a good wind blowing, and we had Kerns Mountain to travel over.

I ran through this section with Jeff and Larry at different points, and we chatted the whole time.  In fact, we came across the wide open section known as “Q’s View” rather suddenly.

And what this signals is, you get to Q’s View, and you are almost done with Kerns Mountain!  There is a short section of runnable dirt, and then you will be on the road for the run down to the Visitor Center Aid Station.

I stopped when I got to the Visitor Center parking lot, as that was conveniently where my vehicle was, getting 15 miles on the trail. I had another very good run on the trail on Sunday.  I got to go over the section that has been my low spot and I do remember more of the details on this section now.  That really helps me out during the race, to remember how long-or short-of a climb or a particular section is.

Now, less than one month to more MMT miles, the Reverse Ring!

Training Weekend in Virginia

What a weekend! Saturday was the first of the Massanutten Training Academy Runs, sponsored more or less by VHTRC.  There is a series of 5 runs over the course of 3 months, which will cover most (or all) of the course.  These are all FREE events, with registration usually opening for newbies to the MMT Race course, then allowing veterans to sign up a few days later.

Allison and I drove down from Ohio and enjoyed the hospitality of Portobello Friday night before the Saturday Run.

Saturday was a 50K: From the Race start, follow the course up the west side of the mountain, and cross over to Elizabeth Furnace.

For the nit-picky, we actually start on the road-Crisman Hollow Road, where the race course takes you through the campground at Carolina Furnace.  And at the end, we actually end in the Signal Knob parking lot rather than crossing over the road to Elizabeth Furnace.

So anyways…it’s a nice cold start, about 30 degrees out. Some runners have abandoned their cars and have already ran up the road, but a good group of us waited for the Run Director, Brian McNeil’s last minute instructions and admonishments.

Then we are all off, and running/walking/jogging up the road.

The road section is kind of an enigma race morning.  It is all uphill, a very gradual slope. Do you run it? Walk briskly?  After all, this IS just the start of a long day.

I did both, running, walking when I wanted to.  I realized I had not used my inhaler prior to the start, but I also didn’t want to stop and remove my pack to get to it.  AND I was talking so much to people, I didn’t have my Hannibal Lechter mask over my face.

So we get to the trail section, and start on the Short Mountain Section.

There is a good little climb up Short Mountain, and then you just hit the rocks on top of the ridge line. 

It is easy to get into a conga line  here, where it is difficult to pass.   Short Mountain has many sections of boulder hopping.  There are also many PUD’s-pointless ups and downs.  You come off the ridge line, then start downhill, only to climb back up to the ridge again.

This section did go quickly, and we were at the aid station at Edinburg, at mile 12.  Right out of the Aid Station (same as race) there is a real good climb up Waonaze Peak.

There is a repeating theme of MMT Aid stations-they will be down low.  There is usually a good climb out of the AS.

You can actually see the Fire Tower at Woodstock Tower.  I believe that is the first time I saw it..

The oxbow view of the Shenandoah River

This is the hang glider spot, this is why the area is so clear.

This is a good representation of the MMT course.  The trail is across these rocks.

The section from Woodstock to Powell’s Fort (after the big climb) is very runnable, so no pictures.  Then the trail turns into a nice downhill, and you are on a camp road.  Probably a nice feeling after so many rocks, but it is still difficult to run all of it.  I played the game “run to that blaze.”  “ok, walk to that rock, then run” over and over.
Then you have the infamous turn around Meander Reservoir:

Around the reservoir, back to the camp ground, and less than one-half mile, you see the blue blaze of the Tuscarora! This is your cue to start looking for the right hand turn, where you abandon orange, and now follow blue over the mountain.

I caught two guys right here.  I was feeling really good now, and passed them quickly. 

I even pulled my phone out on the climb to check in with the husband, as there is cell coverage on the ridge, but not on the valleys.   
This is a rather steep climb up, but then there is about a 4 mile downhill to the Elizabeth Furnace Aid Station.

I was feeling really good when I got to the top of the climb.  I felt like I could go for another 10 miles at that point. I hammered the downhill, catching Shelly and Diane, who had been in front of me all day.  I think I surprised them a bit, but my “style” of ultra running is that I start out slow.  I don’t really start out slow on purpose! But I do. And then I gain strength, warm up, and generally have more energy later in a race. 
Fueling-I calculated how long I thought this 50K would take me.  Then I calculate using about 200 calories per hour. (Your stomach can absorb 200-300 calories an hour-I use 200 because the math is easier).
I carried all my calories that I would need for this run.  I took in: 
800 calories from Malto dextrin
100 calories from 1 gel
400 calories from EFS Liquid Shot
200 calories from 1 package of Cliffbloks
400 or 500 calories(?)  from aid station cookies
Total: 2000 calories

 I ran this in 8.43. So call it 9 hours. 9 hours x 200 calories=1800 calories  Very good call on the food intake. I think I had one gel left, which I probably should have taken at the top of the ridge before the 4 mile descent to Elizabeth Furnace, but I kept thinking I was “almost there.”  I will have to remember race day, even though it’s only 4 miles to the aid station,  I should continue to eat through here.

It was good to get back on the rocks again before Reverse Ring, body got a little bit of a shock with the bonus MMT miles!