Monday, March 28, 2011

3 Days of Syllamo: Day 3 + The Plan

I was still hurting when I got up on Sunday for the third day of the race, but gosh darnit I wasn't going to be held back by a paltry 20k.  Not even if parts of my body that were very important to running, such as both achilles tendons and my right IT band, hurt a bunch.  My ultra ego said, "20k? Pshhh. That's nothing. I could sneeze and be done with that."  I had already whimped out on the 50 miler.  Surely I could convince my worthless body to do a mere 20k.  I would be done before lunch.

I wasn't sure how long the race actually was.  Technically 20k is 12.4 miles, but this was a trail run, so all bets are really off if you're concerned with a precise distance.  I think I'd been told that it was closer to 14.  This didn't bother me yet.

My first thought was that once I got going I would start feeling better.  I was surprised by how much it hurt to run, but I told myself to just go as fast as I could so I could get this thing over with as soon as possible.  I soon abandoned the "this will start feeling better" idea and adopted the "grit your teeth and bear it" idea.  I could see Deb Johnson up ahead, so I focused on trying to catch up with her so I would have company. 

I probably started crying 20 minutes into the run because I was in a lot of pain and kicking myself for even starting the race.  But I still focused on Deb.  Grit your teeth and bear it, Laurie.  Just keep going like this and you'll be done before you know it.  I finally caught up to Deb and was happy to have some company.  I stayed with her for all of about 3 or 4 minutes before she started pulling away.  Or I started slowing down.  Probably the latter. 

The tears were flowing steadily when Sarah caught up to me as I walked across a road.  She patted me on the back and said something encouraging I'm sure, but I probably didn't say anything, because I was frustrated.  I tried to rally myself again.  "Try to stay behind Sarah, Laurie."  I needed feet to follow.  I followed, followed, followed.  I think I even stopped crying.  I stayed with Sarah for maybe a mile until we got to the unmanned aid station.  I'll admit I didn't read up on the info for the race or pay attention to the pre-race briefing so I didn't know there would only be an unmanned aid station.  I had no idea how many miles we were into the race.  The time was about 1:15.  I thought it was pretty unlikely that I had even gone 6 miles at the pace I was keeping.

Just after the unmanned station, I felt a sudden sharp pain in one of my achilles.  Left maybe.  That was surprising.  I felt relatively sharp pain with every step I took, but this was REALLY sharp.  I was surprised, so I walked a few steps, then started running again.  I ran a few more yards.  Another stab.  The tears were welling.  I walked a bit, then started running AGAIN.  Another stab.  Crap!  What did I do?  I was afraid I might have or would tear my achilles if I kept running.  I stepped off the trail, spiked my water bottle on the ground and started sobbing.  Runners passed, asking if I was ok.  I told them I would be alright.

I was in a bad spot.  I was potentially 6 miles into a loop race.  I couldn't just turn back now.  The only sane thing I could do would be to stick it out.  I resigned to walk the rest of the race, which made me cry more, because I didn't want to walk for who knows how many miles?  I wasn't sure how far I'd gone.  I wasn't sure how long the race was.  I just wanted to be back at the car.  I wanted to eat lunch at a normal time.  I wanted to get back home at a normal time.  I did NOT want to be out on this darn trail all day.  It's not often you'll hear or read me say that I'm tired of being on a gosh darn trail.

I was still not sure about that unmanned aid station.  I thought for SURE there'd be a manned aid station somewhere.  Some way that I could get out of this hell I was in.  Surely there would be some volunteer or race official I would come across who would save me from this never-ending death march through the woods.  Sob sob sob.  I was now positive that I was absolutely THE last "runner". 

I walked and sobbed for what seemed like forever.  I was trapped in this endless loop of thought, trying to figure out how far I'd gone, how far I had left, when I would be done.  It was absolutely useless.  I had the ultra loonies, even though I wasn't running an ultra.  I refused to eat anything, even though nobody was making me, in protest of my awful situation.  There, I'll show you!  As if my parents were trying to force feed me and I refused.  I didn't want any effing gels.  I wanted an effing sandwich and some effing fries!  After a long time of running and sobbing I decided I had to try to run a little bit or I'd never get anywhere. 

I did an ok job of hobbling the flat sections for a while, until I got to a particularly rocky area.  Eventually I got past that and was able to hobble again.  I reached a section of switchbacks and realized that somehow I was NOT dead last.  How could this be?  I didn't know how, but I did know that there was no way I was letting anyone pass my second-to-dead-last butt.  I quickened my hobble and even hobbled up some slight inclines.  I basically dragged myself along by my left leg because my right IT band was so ridiculously tight that my right leg was useless for propelling me forward.  No more tears.  It was time to "race".  It was time to finish.

I was unbelievably hopeful when I saw ribbons marking a turn in the course.  I was heading downhill now.  I thought this could only mean that I was finally heading down into the campgrounds and on to the finish line.  I didn't get my hopes up though.  I ran down, down, down.  Things felt like they were loosening up but that was probably just that rush of adrenaline I get when I'm close to the finish line.  I finally came across the photographer on the trail and she told me there was about a mile to the finish line.  Wooo!!!  It seems like I always have some kick that propels me to finish strong, even when my body is broken. 

I finally reached the road and ran through the campgrounds.  People cheered me on.  It did not make me feel good.  I was angry with the whole day, but I think I waved and tried to say thank you to a few people.  The race director, some volunteers and friends cheered for me as I crossed the finish line, but I was basically a jerk and ignored everyone.  I was mad at myself for running, mad at my body, mad that I was never able to drop.  I didn't talk to anyone for a while.  I changed my clothes.  Didn't feel like showering.  I just wanted to get lunch and get on the road. 

I managed to break out of my grump-fest after several minutes of stewing and remember that my friends were with me and they all loved me whether I completed a 3 day race or not.  Whether I finished first or last.

So now, just over 2 weeks down the road from the race, and less than 1 week from Rockin K, what is going on?  Well, things are going better.  My left achilles feels almost 100%, my right achilles is maybe 80%, and my right IT band is still a bit of a pain.  The IT band doesn't hurt when I'm walking but it tightens up after about a mile of running.  I'm doing a lot better but still in no condition to run a 50 miler or to even drop to a marathon this coming weekend.  I'll volunteer while Nick runs the race and it'll be a blast.  I've started doing short runs, 3-4 miles.  I'm also doing a lot of stretching and foam rolling.  I'm confident that if I'm smart, I will be in shape to do Jemez Mountain 50k in May.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pi Anyone?

I must apologize to all of my loyal readers (my mom) for taking a brief hiatus from the "3 Days of Syllamo" series.  I thought sharing my experience of directing my first race was more important than going on about how I spent 3.5 hours crying in the woods.  There you go.  I just wrote my 3 Days report.

I can't tell you the names of these 2 right now, but I'm going to figure it out, because I have their jackets!

Saturday was the culmination of several months of planning for the Pi Day River Rotation Half Marathon.  Alright, I really spent several months thinking, "This is cake. All I have to do is order some shirts and get some awards."  The last few weeks was really when I did the most work.  If I looked back through my old blog posts, I could tell you exactly when I came up with the idea for the race.  It was definitely in November or December. 

The Lawrence Trail Hawks didn't have a race on the Lawrence River Trails yet and I thought it was about time.  In trail running, timing is important for several reasons.  1) You can't schedule it too close to your own races.  2) You can't schedule it too close to other trail races people want to go to.  3) You have to take into account seasonal trail conditions.  Taking all of these factors into account, I decided on March.  And everyone knows the most special holiday in March is Pi Day (3/14).  St. Patrick's Day?!  As my friend's 2 year old would say, "No way!"  On Pi Day, you get to eat pie, which is far superior to green beer.

Once I decided on a math-themed race, I had to come up with a clever name, like...

In case you don't remember, pi r-squared is the formula of a circle.  Don't feel bad if you didn't remember.  I'm an engineer and somehow I forgot too.  At first I was thinking there was a 2 or 1/2 in there somewhere.  Shhhh, don't tell.  Good thing I have lots of engineering and math books at work.

Justin Henning designed this fabulous logo.  It took a week or two to settle on the final design.  The beginning of the decisions that seem tougher to make than you would think.  How big should the font be?  Should we put the RRCA logo on it?  Should it say Lawrence Trail Hawks?  Should it have the date?

Early on in the race-planning process, Jacob Kaplan-Moss offered to make the post-race food.  Pies, of course.  This was one big task that was off my plate.  I also knew I wanted the awards to be pie servers engraved with the race name.

Unfortunately I didn't get any closeup shots of the engraving before I gave them all out.  Silly me!

So, I just deleted about 6 paragraphs of this, because I was getting way too long-winded.  Here are just a few dilemmas I faced.
  • How do you order shirts/sizes when you only have 12 people registered?
    • You make a bad guess. If you were really smart you would have historical data to guide your decision, like a) what is a typical size distribution, b) during what time frames do certain percentages of runners register?
  • What do you do when you told all your volunteers to run the race because you only had 12 people registered and all of a sudden you have 60 runners and 5 volunteers?
    • You make your boyfriend volunteer.  He's big enough (tall) to be 2 volunteers anyway.
  • What do you do when you're 4 days away from the race and you forgot about porta potties?
    • You freak out. Then when you're done freaking out, you reserve porta potties and call the city to make sure it's ok.
  • What do you do when you realize you have more racers than shirts?
    • You make a decision. I decided not to order more shirts but to allow runners to pay a discounted rate once I ran out.
  • What do you do when you're trying to stuff packets and you have a puppy walking all over them, eating kleenex and peeing in the kitchen?
    • You scream, cry, clean up the pee, put the dogs outside, and pour wine into a pint glass because it's St. Patrick's Day.
  • What do you do when KU is playing in the NCAA tournament during your packet pickup?
    • You hang out with the Garry Gribble's employees and watch the game.
  • What do you do when it's race day and you're brain isn't working?
    • You forget you put a bag containing cutting boards and paper towels behind your car and back over it.  Then you dust it off and call it good.
And they're off!
Well in the end, everything turned out pretty well.  I was just positive that I would piss somebody off no matter what I did.  I figured something would go wrong.  It turns out nothing really did.  At least I didn't get any complaints directly.  There were some things I think I could have done a little better.  I forgot to mention some things in my pre-race briefing, like that Justin had designed the logo, that Shelley Flones had provided the granola for raffle prizes, etc.  But as Justin, pointed out, you're lucky if people listen to anything you say in a pre-race briefing, but I'll try to do better next year.  There was also some confusion when Rick Mayo and Keaton Davis came through on their second loop.  I was confused about which direction they were coming from, so I stopped them for a few seconds to figure out what was going on.  It turned out they were running the course correctly.  It was just my overly-coffeed brain that was confused.  I don't think they harbor any hard feeling about the setback.  I gave out free hugs to make up for it.  They also received awards!

Everybody finished great.  We had plenty of pie and granola prizes.  We ended up having just the right number of volunteers.  The race wrapped up and everything was put away before the rain came through.  I couldn't have asked for a better day!  Here are the stats.

72 registered
66 runners/finishers
Top 3 males: Rick Mayo, Matthew O'Reilly, Keaton Davis
Top 3 females: Kelly Carlton, Kelly Cool, Step Cundith

And my thanks go out to...
  • Gary Henry - for advice, bringing the tents, table, water jugs, sign and probably a lot more
  • Coleen Voeks - for advice, course marking, course directing, course de-marking
  • Nick Lang - helping with last minute (5am) race day stuff, time keeping, course de-mark
  • Jim Beiter - lending a table, course directing, course de-marking
  • Kristie Campbell - course directing, registration
  • Caroline Wroczynski - lending a table, running aid station
  • Sarah Schmidt - registration, course directing, helping with aid station
  • Shelley Flones - donating granola for prizes, serving pie
  • Amanda Ernlund - de-marking while searching for her keys
  • Justin Henning - designing the most awesome logo in the world
  • Karen Collier - for being a wonderful treasurer
  • Garry Gribble's for letting us have packet pickup in the store
  • Everybody involved in the wonderful book and signing of "Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number", which I later realized is also signed by the author!
  • All of the runners for coming out!  You made my day.
  • If I forgot you, I am extremely sorry and owe you 10 pushups.  I can do 10 pushups now, Gary.  I think I still owe you 3.  I can even do 10 pushups several times.

We gathered at the finish line for a post-race group shot.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    3 Days of Syllamo: Day 2

    After packing my supplies for the second day of the race, the 50 miler, I retired to bed EARLY.  Probably before 8.  I knew we were going to have to wake up insanely early to get ready and out the door for the 6am start.  I thought I would sleep great after a long warm day of running, but that was not the case.  I tossed and turned all night trying to find a comfortable position.  My IT band was hurting bad at my right knee.  It was so tight I couldn't straighten my leg.  I had to sit up in bed and push my knee down with my hands to get it straightened out. 

    Somehow I was not yet worried about the next day's race.  I finally gave up on sleep and got out of bed at 3:30 even though my alarm was set for 4.  I made breakfast: coffee and a mini-bagel with peanut butter and Nutella.  Mmmm.  All the while I hobbled around.  After breakfast, I got dressed and put on my shoes.  Once I put on my shoes I realized not only did I have this insanely tight IT band but my achilles tendons hurt like heck everytime I took a step.

    Once I had all my stuff ready to go and sat down, I started thinking.  And the more I thought, the more I started dreading the race.  My initial thoughts were just, I hurt and I don't want to be on the course for 14 hours (the cutoff for the 50 miler).  I went back and forth several times and Nick and the others tried to encourage me.  "Just go out and see how it feels," or "You can do this!"  I even rode out to the race start dressed and with all my gear.  But when I searched my brain for situations in which I've had severe IT band pain, I could think of no way running this 50 miler would end well for me.  I've never known an IT band to LOOSEN up after running a while, especially not after 50 miles on a hilly course.  I did, however, remember running a 50k on a sore IT band and it took me months to recover from it. 

    So I put some pants on over my shorts, threw on a jacket and decided to play crew for the day.
    In retrospect, I should have taken off my running shoes and put on my crocs but because my IT band hurt so bad, I didn't realize my shoes were causing me unneccesary pain in my achilles.

    Well after the race got off to a start, I spent a good half hour looking at the course map, trying to figure out where to turn to get to the first aid station.  I turned into a lot of dead ends.  Of course I couldn't ask for directions.  That would be too easy.  Eventually I figured I would just have to take the long way around to the aid station, about a 15-20mi drive.  The map had these very nicely labeled roads, like CR-52.  I don't think any state or national park actually labels their roads this way.  CR-52 only exists on maps.  When you actually get out there, the only sign you see is "Mountain Bike Trail This Way".  This is pretty much how I found my way around.  Let's see...I have to make a left turn.  Oh HERE'S  a left turn AND a sign for a trail.  I'll try it.

    Once I found the first aid station, I decided to take a walk on the trail.  Try to loosen up.  It helped a little bit.  It was a gorgeous morning and being out there really lifted my spirits and made me feel better about the day.

    It was still cool and the sun was rising.  Once I got to a rocky area I sat down for a little while and just took everything in.  It's amazing what you hear when you just sit and listen.  Birds and stuff.  By the time I got back to the aid station it had warmed up a bunch and I had taken off my jacket and gloves.

    I chatted with volunteers at the aid station, waiting for people to come in.  There were 3 dogs keeping us company.  They kept us pretty entertained.  One woman, I actually remembered from the White Rock 50k last year.  I probably wouldn't have except when she called her dog, River.  Yep, I remembered her by her dog.

    Eventually people started coming through the aid station.  The first guy was way ahead of everyone else, so it took a while.  When I saw Coleen, Deb and Sarah come through and I hadn't seen Nick yet, I was more than a little worried.  The girls went on through to complete a 4 mile loop and return to the aid station.  After a few minutes of worrying, I finally saw Nick and a few other guys coming running up the road from the wrong direction.  They got off course and the RD sent them to backtrack a little to where they misstepped. 

    At this point, I was just starving.  The girls were out on the 4-mi loop, Nick had to backtrack about 3 miles, so I decided to head into town to grab a bite to eat.  It ended up taking a little longer than I thought it would, but the breakfast sammy I picked up was delicious!  "Town" basically consists of this place called Anglers, which is a gas station, restaurant and fishing supply store.

    Well I missed Nick after his backtrack but I would still see him after his 4-mi loop at the 18 mile point, so I wasn't too worried about him.  Everybody came through at 18 miles looking good.  It was starting to warm up quite a bit, but people still seemed like they were chugging along just fine.

    I got turned around a bit heading into the next aid station at 24 miles but I found it in the end.  It was getting really warm by this point and the people coming through the aid station seemed pretty hot and tired.  I tried to help people out even though I wasn't a volunteer by giving them sunblock, salt caps and filling water bottles.  Sorry Sarah, I owe you some sunblock.  Everybody loved it though!  It was at this aid station, in the heat of the day, that the 3:30am wakeup started taking its toll on me.  

    After I got all my friends through, upset tummies and all, I headed to the next aid station.  The 31/45-mi station.  I sat outside Nick's truck for a while, reading for a few minutes, until I decided I just wanted to sit in the truck and doze off.  So I did.  I heard Nick, Coleen and Deb come through, gabbing away, and I thought, "They'll be fiiiiiine.  I can just keep zzzzzz-ing."  Nick said knocked on the window and I think I stuck my hand up to wave but continued to snooze.

    I got up, not long after, to find Sarah coming through.  She still wasn't feeling very well and asked if I would stay at the aid station because she thought she would miss cutoff.  I told her she'd be fine and that I'd see her at the next aid station, at 41.  The trail between 31 and 45 was a loop, but there was an intermediate station at 41.

    When I got to 41, I decided I'd get out my hydration pack and run out on the trail to meet Sarah and give her some encouragement.  This didn't last long.  I hobbled along for a few minutes, then walked for a while, then realized even if I did meet up with Sarah I wouldn't be able to keep up with her.  So I went back and waited at the aid station. 

    When Nick came through he said he was hurting but he still seemed in good spirits.  When Deb came through, she was in good shape.  Coleen came through behind Deb complaing of nausea and threatening to drop.  I told here there was no way she was dropping.  She said that she felt sick whenever she ran.  I told her she had 4 hours to travel 9 miles and she could walk for all I cared but she was going to finish.  I knew she'd appreciate some tough love!  When Sarah came through she was still worrying about cutoff, but she was a half hour under, so I told her to just keep going at a steady pace.

    I thought about pacing Sarah to the end, once she reached 45, but I was suddenly faced with a whole mess of logistical nightmares.  1) I needed to put gas in the truck, 2) I needed to get the truck back to the finish line for Nick and the others because their clothes were in it, 3) I needed a ride back to the aid station.  Well somehow I managed to get these things accomplished and got back to the aid station, with a ride from Brad Bishop, just in time to catch Sarah about to leave for the last section of the course.

    I was so happy I could be there to encourage her over the last few miles.  And I was also more than happy to be walking as my achilles tendons were pretty cranky.  After a mile or so it got dark and I'm glad I was there, because we had to traverse some steep declines covered in slippery rock steps.  It was hard enough for me to traverse alertly with my gimpy legs.  I would be worried for anyone doing that at the end of a long day of running in the heat...on gimpy legs.

    Before we knew it, we started seeing lights in the distance.  It was the campgrounds.  As we got closer, my phone chimed at me.  I checked it to discover KU had one the Big 12 Championship game!!!  Woot woot!  We couldn't get any cell service in town or at our cabin, but on the trail, sure.  We (maybe just me) yelled "Rock Chalk Jayhawk!"  This was a seriously exciting finish.  A great accomplishment for Sarah AND a win for the hawks.  It was meant to be.

    Well  I have to say despite the emotional rollercoaster I was on because I didn't compete, being there for my friends made it all worth while!  To be continued again...

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    3 Days of Syllamo: Day 1

    I woke up on Saturday thrilled to get going.  The race didn't start until 9am so when I woke up at 6 I had plenty of time to leisurely eat breakfast and get my pack together.  I was sharing a cabin with some of my best running buddies: Nick (my VERY good running buddy), Coleen, Sarah, Debbie, Julie, Deb and Stu.  The excitement was just overwhelming.  As you can see we had this awesome cabin, the sun was shining, my best friends were with me, and we had 3 days of awesome trail running ahead of us!  It felt like I was at summer camp.  I've never been to summer camp, but I thought it would be exciting like this.  But who knows.  Maybe summer camp actually sucks.
    You couldn't beat the scenery and weather at the start of the race.  A bit chilly in the morning, but clear and sunny!  Just look at these views!  The race was on much of the same course as the Sylamore 50k that I ran a few weeks ago.  The start/finish was the first and last aid station at Sylamore, so I knew we would be going up a big hill to begin with.

    Once we started, I hitched onto the tails of Coleen and Sarah.  Within a mile I realized I was going too fast, especially since I had 2 more days of racing.  I was breathing heavily and I didn't see Debbie, Deb and Julie behind me.  I hadn't run all week and that usually makes it hard on my lungs for a while.  So I stepped off the trail to wait for the rest of the girls. 
    I was really excited to run with Debbie, Deb and Julie.  Sometimes I go several weeks without seeing them since they live in KC, so being able to spend the whole day with them was definitely a treat.  I also liked their pace.  I didn't really come out to this race to "race".  I thought of it more like a nature hike, with light running sprinkled in.  This was pretty acurate, considering the length and steepness of some of the hills.

    Debbie definitely has a special place in my heart, as my trail mom.  She was the first good friend I made when I started trail running, and she's always treated me like family.  And she's cheery.  And she just always makes me happy!  So running on these beautiful trails with my Debbie and all my wonderful friends on this sunny day was like heaven, until....

    Three or four miles in I started getting some significant pain in my IT band.  I thought this was pretty odd as I rarely have trouble with my IT band anymore, and if I do it just gets a little sore toward the end of an ultra.  Not this full-on-downhill-limp-3-miles-in crap!  I had a lot of miles left to run!  I had a bit of a meltdown which hopefully nobody noticed since I was running in the back.  But somehow I pulled myself together.  Possibly with the help of some ibuprofen.  I don't remember exactly when I took it, but I know I had some earlyish in the race.

    I went back to being a happy cheery camper with some dull background pain.  Thank you drugs.  I think.  We were running around, happy as can be.  There was a steep long climb after the 2nd aid station (around 10 miles?), and the slope was exposed to the sun.  We started complaining about the heat, although in retrospect it was really mild compared to the next day. 

    A couple miles in, we saw our KC friend, Brad, who informed us that the unmanned aid station was out of water.  None of us had filled up at the previous aid station but I wasn't particularly worried with my 2 liter pack.  I also figured the RD would just go out there and refill the water.  I was wrong about the refilling.  Apparently that location is impossible to reach in any reasonable amount of time.  I didn't end up running out of water, but a lot of people did.  Some people were running with single water bottles and were not prepared to run 10 miles at midday with no refills.  Some people started filling their bottles in the waterfalls along the course.  I guess that was a better option than refilling from the stream but I was glad I didn't reach the point where I had to do that.  I don't want no giardia!
    At the turnaround point, things started going to hell for some of my friends.  Deb was out of water and had an upset stomach.  I ran for a while thinking my friends would catch up, but I couldn't see them behind me.  I stopped and waited for a while and still, nobody showed.  I thought I heard Debbie telling Julie to go on ahead but I couldn't tell what was going on.  Eventually, I decided to run on.  I found out later that Debbie had turned her ankle pretty badly.  Luckily she had friends to keep her company.

    I, on the other hand, had unwittingly been bitten by the competitive bug I had vowed to ignore.  One of the girls we were running with, Laura, had run on ahead while I waited for the other girls.  I started thinking about catching her.  Silly me.  So I started running faster than I did the first half.  Then I started thinking that I could get a negative split.  Now I was racing against people AND myself.  Drats.

    Eventually I had Laura back in my sight, but when we reached the aid station she was in and out like a ninja.  It took me a while to get in and out.  I was waiting for access to the water.  My hydration pack is also a pain to deal with in general.  I have a Camelbak bladder inside a Nathan pack because I prefer the bite valve on the Camelback, but it doesn't fit very well inside the Nathan.  Requires a lot of cramming.  Well when I finally got everything filled and recrammed, Laura was long gone.

    I slowed down a lot in this section.  At least I felt like I did, because I couldn't see Laura anywhere.  Eventually the pain from my IT band started creeping back and I took another dose of ibuprofen.  I struggled a lot in this section and did more walking than I would have liked.  My stomach was also pretty grumbly, so I was glad when I reached the last aid station.

    I made a pit stop then grabbed a few bites to eat: pringles, cookies.  Mmmmm.  The volunteer at the aid station asked if I needed anything else.  "Nope," I said, "just want to get to that finish line!"  Leaving the last aid station is almost always an energy booster.  It certainly was for me.  I had a renewed desire to reach the finish line as soon as I could.  I looked down at my watch and it said 6:20-something (time on the course not 6:20 in the evening).  I was pretty sure there were about 5 miles to the finish line, so I set an agressive and hopeful goal of getting to the finish line in an hour. 

    Seems like a pretty slow pace, but when you're talking about technical trails, 12-minute miles are pretty good.  And I knew there were some big hills I'd have to walk.  So I tried to keep a decent pace on the flat parts.  Probably 10-minute miles.  I wouldn't let myself walk unless I was going up a particularly long, steep hill.  After a while I caught up to and passed Laura.  We guessed about how much mileage we had left and decided it was probably 2 to 2.5.  I knew I'd have a big hill coming up, because I knew the end of the race was downhill for about a mile.  So I ran as much as I could.  I even ran part way up the steep hills.

    I felt like I was probably running a little recklessly for the first day, but man, when I'm near the finish line, I can't help but kick it into gear.  As I was power walking the big hills, I noticed a new pain.  My left achilles tendon was starting to ache.  I figured it was just irritation on the surface due to my low-cut socks and high-backed NB 100s.  I was stupid to wear the low-cut socks.  Not only did they slide down on my ankles, they also allowed a bunch of leaves and crap to get in my socks.  By the time I realized I had a problem I was too committed to the finish to slow down or care about anything.  I ended up finishing well, in 7:23.  I had a 17-minute negative split.  Of course, this was much slower than my 6:27 finish at Sylamore, but I ran the first half slower on purpose.  And there were some pretty gnarly hills at the end of the course that weren't part of Sylamore.

    I happily gathered my clothes and towel and headed to the stream with Coleen.  Who needs the trouble of making an ice bath when there's a cold stream nearby?!  It was really cold when we stepped in, but after hanging out for a few minutes, it became pretty comfortable.  The water was clear and I saw tiny fishes swimming around my feet.  I thought they were cute until Coleen started making jokes about Jaws.  One of the fishes was gray like a shark.  I kept imagining a tiny shark approaching me.  I moved my feet around and yelled at the fish to move along.  They didn't pay much attention to me.  But they also did not tear the flesh off my ankles, so everything turned out ok.

    I was definitely sore after the race, but I wasn't worried about the next day yet.  To be continued...

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    A Major Breakthrough!

    I felt I should let the entire universe know that yesterday I did several unassisted assisted chin-ups.  What exactly is an unassisted assisted chin-up, you say??  Well, because I have weak, feeble T-rex arms, I can't do REAL chin-ups.  My trainer, Whitney, ties a big rubber band to the bar and I stick my foot through it.  Hence, assisted.  But because of the aforementioned weak, feeble T-rex arms, I ALSO require assistance, in the form of a little push, from my trainer to get my chin up above that darn bar.  Until yesterday!  Yesterday, I did several (maybe 5 out of 30) chin-ups without any help from my trainer.  Just that beefy orange band.

    In other news, today is very exciting, because I get to go down to Arkansas for 3 Days of Syllamo with all my awesome friends!  I've never been before, but I'm told it's a blast.  I imagine it being like summer camp, except for adult runners, and it's still winter.  The forecast says it will be sunny and in the mid-60s every day though.  So you can't beat that.  If anything, it might be a little too warm for this hot-blooded runner.  Well I guess I have to get ready for summer sometime.

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Switchin' It Up

    Yesterday was my boyfriend's birthday and we had plans to go out to our local brewery for dinner and drinks.  Normally I run with the ladies for our scheduled group run on Thursdays, but it being Nick's birthday and all, I figured it would be impolite to make him wait until 8:30 to eat dinner. 

    For some reason I was of the mindset that since I couldn't do the group run, I couldn't run at ALL.  On my way home from work I realized I had plenty of time to get in a run if I cut out travel time to the trail and the chit chatting that goes along with group runs.  I love chit chatting and trail running.  It just doesn't help on days when I'm operating on a schedule.

    As a trail runner, the thought of running around the neighborhood doesn't come naturally.  But the more I though about it, the more I thought DUH, of course it would be awesome to do a short little run around the nearby KU campus with my man.  He probably wants to run in this 65 degree weather just as much as I do!  And we don't get to run together, just the two of us, very often.  So that was another plus.  I think he was equally surprised and cheery when I proposed the idea.  Sometimes seemingly intelligent people can be real dolts (both of us, not just him). 

    Sometimes we all get into ruts.  We think things have to be a certain way.  I LOVE trails.  I do not love running on the road every day.  I wouldn't be happy running around campus every day (even though it would be good hill training).  But just the act of doing something different every once in a while can be refreshing.  And convenient!  So don't forget to switch things up every once in a while.