Monday, May 24, 2010

The Aftermath

What do you do after running 59.8 miles in 12 hours? What seemed like a lot to me now is nothing in comparison to what I've run. I was on this utter high after my race for a few days, then real life set back in: my lack of security clearance (therefore lack of co-op, meaning I sit around all day doing mostly nothing) and my lack of  income due to that lack of job. Ah well, I guess it could be worse. I am lucky enough to be staying at home with my family where I do not have to pay rent or anything else really.

I have been slowly getting back into running. To be honest, I feel fine (minus a slightly tight right hamstring), but my old HS coach, who was a really big ultramarathoner in the 90s, said I need to back off and ease into it. He says I shouldn't have my miles back up for another 4 weeks. This has me worried since my 24 hour race is in 8 weeks, but I'm being good and slowly easing into my miles. I only got in 16 miles last week (mostly because I was busy and lazy this weekend and didn't get to run). It is nice to not have this pressure to hit a certain mileage in the week, but it is starting to freak me out that I will not be ready for my 24 hour race.

I had a pretty funny dream last night about my 24 hour race. It was a loop like it will be in real life, but it was really small and it was through a zoo! I had to dodge bears of all different types, monkeys, and some made up animals that my dreams invented. I somehow was in 2nd place, but was being lapped. For some reason, during my dream, the loop was small, but still 8.4 miles like in real life. I was wondering how she could have lapped me so quickly, but alas, I could not change it. I woke up at some point in the dream where I was trying to fend off some creature that does not exist in real life. Weird weird dreams, I tell you.

Well, I'm going to get in 6 miles today. I'm hoping to get my miles up this week to at least the mid-20s. I will be in Philly this weekend visiting friends and doing a scavenger hunt with my fraternity, so the weekend will not be the best time to run, but we shall wee.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mind the Ducks 12 hour Race Report

Warning: This is a long race report. The race was long, so I figure it is only fitting.

I woke up at 5:30 am on Saturday morning and hurriedly got myself ready. When I finally stopped for two seconds, I realized what the heck I was getting myself into. I almost did not want to get up and go, but I knew I prepared well and was ready. The weather was amazingly perfect as it was partly cloudy and in the low 60s.

My mother (aka Sherpa) and I drove the 10 minutes to the lake and we got ourselves settled. I checked in, got my race bib and bag, put on my chip, then got myself prepared for the madness I was about to put myself through. I got to meet a few other runners, which was nice since I was pretty nervous.

Right at 7 am, the race started. We all shuffled through starting line and were off. The first hour, I just did not feel 100%. I was having some lower GI issues that were worrying me, but after I took some Pepto and finished the first hour, everything seemed to just fall into place. I was in 7th place (I later found out that there were 11 women competing) after the first hour. I didn’t like that place, but knew that place should not matter during the race, seeing as this was my first ultra. The next couple of hours kind of went on uneventfully.
As the hours swept by (pretty quickly actually, which felt weird), I found myself creeping up the rankings. A bunch of us ladies were tied for laps for a bit, but I eventually got up to 4th place, then 3rd place. I knew to keep myself in check and not to push myself when I should be worried about distance, not place. Around hour 6, though, I realized it was possible to catch the 2nd place woman.

I felt amazing up until about hour 7.5. At hour 7, when I realized I would definitely hit my 50 mile goal, I thought to myself, “Okay, I think I can do all 12 hours. I feel great!” Just a short 30 minutes later, I realized that would require 4.5 more hours of running, which seemed INSANE at that point. Nothing really hurt that much (okay, my right knee’s usual runner’s knee pain would flare up from time to time, but nothing that would stop be from running), but 4.5 more hours seemed like a ton. I just convinced myself that I needed to get to the 10 hour mark (50 miles) and figure out the game plan after that.

I loved the small course and the race was run unbelievably well, especially due to the amazing race director Shelly and the superb volunteers. The runners there were so inspirational and supportive of everyone else. Whenever one of the top guys would run by, they’d say how strong I looked as they zoomed by me. It was really great. I ran with a few runners during my time and everyone was always so supportive and nice.

Around mile 45 or so, I ended up re-connecting with the only other 22 year old in the race. He was of course many laps ahead of me, but we ended up doing the last 2 or 3 hours together. It was nice having a companion during the run, especially to discuss running. Most of my friends are not runners, especially not ones training for ultras, so it was great to talk to someone else who knows what the training and experience is like. He also had not run for as long as we planned to hit in the race, so I was not the only crazy one running way more than I have ever done.

Around hour 10 is when I snuck into 2nd place. I really think that my tortoise and the hare theory worked for this race for me, but there were some amazingly talented runners out there. I feel like I just hit a pace that was slow enough that I could keep going at that pace for a long time, but not so slow I was trudging along or walking  (though I did incorporate walking breaks every 10 minutes).  I eventually hit the 50 mile mark (my high goal for the race) and I felt amazing. I knew I still had 2 hours left, but I just decided to break it into 2 1-hour sets.

Eventually, it was the last hour and I could not believe it! I was going to make it to around 60 miles and going to run the whole 12 hours. The last hour was kind of a blur, as it seemed to whip by. The last lap, my running companion, Jesse, said we should really push the last lap. Having seen him run fast the beginning, I just told him to have no gripes about leaving me in the dust. Once we hit that last lap, he was gone! I pushed pretty darn fast for all the running I had done. It felt amazing to finally finish! I had run 59.8 miles (the course was .49 miles, hence it not being a full 60 miles). I came in 10th overall and was the 2nd placed female. Since there were awards for overall winners for males and females, I won 1st place Open Female Award. I was slower than I planned on being, but in the end, I think it helped me be able to run all 12 hours. Overall, I could not be happier of how my first ultra went. I am sure hoping my 24 hour race in July goes similarly, but that would be a lot to hope for.

Final Details: 59.8 miles in 11:58:31 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Less than 36 hours and counting

My goodness, I cannot believe a stomach can be so nervous for days upon end. I feel like the baby to the left. I know that I have been very diligent with my training and haven't missed anything key. I've built up my mileage from about 30 miles per week (mpw) to 50 mpw in a steady fashion, to avoid injury. My sore ankle is all gone, my hip is not hurting as much, and with my antibiotics, my sinus infection is at bay. I really am prepared for my 12 hour race, but the thought of it is making my stomach turn. With any other races, the distance was not the item in question, it was the time it would take to cover said distance. For this race, the time is set, it is just on me and my body to figure out how many miles it will cover. I really feel like 50 miles is totally possible on the nearly flat .49 mile course. I think my mind is having issues comprehending the idea of running for so long. I am really happy my mother will be there to root me on and that I was able to fill my iPod up with awesome new tunes from my brother. It's chock filled with dance beats and lots of synthesizers. I am really happy that when times are going to be tough during the run, I can blast some "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie or "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus (okay, that last song is a total guilty pleasure and I cannot believe my brother had that on his iTunes...he actually specifically told me to put it on my iPod).

I fly tomorrow at 4 pm with my madre to Rochester, NY. We'll land, drop our stuff off at the hotel, take a test drive to the race location, eat dinner, then try my hardest to get any sleep at all. The weather is set to be perfect to run in: partly cloudy with a high around 60. Everything is set for this weekend to go really well, but I am doing my best to be happy with whatever I am able to run. Next post shall happen post-race. Hopefully it will come with awesome pictures and happy news. :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Taper Time!

Whew, it's taper time! I safely landed in Maryland on Saturday. I will miss John a lot, but I am happy to be back in Maryland and with my family. I was able to map out two runs around John's neighborhood last Thursday and Friday, so I really only missed one day of running. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, Mom and I got in 20 miles (me via feet, her via bike). I'm very lucky to have my mom come with me on my long runs; I don't think I would be able to do the without her keeping me company and holding my snacks and drinks. I felt extremely sluggish and leaden during the whole run. My whole body just felt like I had an invisible full body weighted suit on and I couldn't break through it. I did not run (well, you know the deal, run with walk breaks) my miles slowly, but they just felt so arduous.

Earlier this morning, I got in another 14 mile run. I felt much better during this run than the previous day's run and I cannot believe that even with only running 4 days this week, I got in 48 miles. My race is coming up on Saturday, so I will be tapering the rest of my runs for this week. I will most likely get in some miles (between 4-7) with the  local Road Runners club on Tuesday and do something similar on Wednesday. I think I am going to take Thursday and Friday completely off to rest up my legs, especially since I am flying on Friday up to Rochester. I am getting so many butterflies in my stomach, it's not even funny. I hope I can just relax enough to sleep the night before the race. Just five days and counting...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who knew beavers were so dangerous?!

This comes a bit late because the boyfriend and I have had an interesting past couple of days. Monday, I got in a 17.3 mile run around the same lake as Sunday, the Craighead Forest Lake. Again, my ego got the best of me and instead of practicing my walk/run strategy, I ran the whole thing. I did take water breaks after each loop, but they didn't last really long (if they had, I never would have gotten myself to keep running). I ran it even faster than   Sunday's run, so I felt really great to run (actually run with no walk breaks) 32.2 miles in about 28 hours. 

The only problem I am facing now is how and when I will be able to run next. On Monday, my boyfriend and I were driving back from his phone bank in Prairie, AR when this pretty large beaver jumped out in front of his car. He did the safe thing and didn't swerve (if he had, we would have been in a flooded rice farm) and we hit the beaver straight on. Poor little sucker had no chance, but who would have known a rodent, large as it is, could so much damage to a car?! It screwed up his bumper and messed up other things under the car (I'm not expert, but I was told it involved the radiator and cooler). We had to slowly drive a mile or so to the closest town and thank goodness his roommates came to our rescue (as well as a really friendly volunteer firefighter). The car had to be towed yesterday and is now waiting to get repaired.

The boyfriend is understandably upset that his car is in the shop and he is having to hitch rides with his co-workers. His lack of car also leaves me without a way to run. Here in Jonesboro, AR, there really are no sidewalks and no safe roads to run on. I have been driving to Arkansas State University's track and the lake, but now I don't know what to do. I can't take off this whole week until I get back to Maryland, especially since my race is about a week and half away. I haven't exactly figure out a solution, but hopefully I will soon because I do not have much time to figure this all out.

Ah well, hopefully it shall work out. Before I leave, just wanted to remind everyone that if you see this on the road, be very careful. It can lead to a damaged car and the inability to run. As we found out from Wikipedia, beavers are vulnerable on land, something we learned firsthand this week.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

14.8 miles + Marshmallow Malt = Crazy Delicious

Just got back from getting a delicious Marshmallow Malt. It's not a traditional post-run drink, but it surely is delicious.

I ran 14.8 miles today. My ego got the best of me and I ran the entire thing. I probably should be practicing my run/walk strategy, but I just couldn't bring myself to walk on what is now a shorter long run for me. There's this really pretty lake near Jonesboro, AR (where my boyfriend is currently working on a senatorial campaign and where I currently am visiting him) called Craighead Forest Lake (picture to the right). It's got two loops: a 2.4 mile loop directly along the lake and a 2.9 mile one that goes around the lake along the paved roads throughout the park. I did 5 smaller loops with a larger loop thrown in after the first 3 smaller loops. It was really pretty out and I was so happy the predicted rain never came. I saw a bunch of other runners, as well as innumerable geese, 2 turtles, and 1 snake (I almost stepped on it and and shrieked when I saw it). Overall, it was a nice run. I have another 3-4 hour run tomorrow, which begins my weekends of back to backs. I've never used a training program that has back to back long runs, so I'm excited, but also nervous. I didn't run a full 3 hours today, but felt nervous about doing one more loop and felt conservative, as to save my energy for tomorrow.

I've been having running dreams that are crazy! I had one a few days ago where I was doing my 12 hour race, but in Philadelphia (it's actually in NY) and I was running the race barefoot. Last night, I had a dream that the 12 hour race as in Philadelphia again, but this time, it was actually on the course where I'll be doing my 24 hour race in July. My mom was going to walk it and she left our foot sensors to track our running on the opposite side of the course. I was so furious because we had to do a loop of the course that wasn't counted for since we had no sensor to track us. I guess I am starting to get really nervous for my race since I keep dreaming about it. I woke up with such a nervous stomach and I'm 13 days away from the race; it makes me wonder how much sleep I'll get the night before.

Ah well, I'll be off now. I will probably post an update or another post about my long run tomorrow. Until then...