Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Injury Update

So I saw an ortho (knee dude) on Monday. While laying on the table, they twirled my knee around, I suppose to check for involvement of muscles, and of course, all that negative (I don't have much pain when laying on my back). The conclusion was chondromalacia--deterioration of cartilage behind the kneecap (and sometimes the back side of the knee cap is rough--I had my left one smoothed out years ago), and that it's referring pain all around the knee. A prescription for 3 PT visits given, and I have scheduled those. Goal is to strengthen my quads. I've sensed my hamstrings have taken over and can tell from how they look, but honestly, when they do those silly "contract this muscle" tests, it's under pressure, so who knows? Do I really have weak quads? Maybe. Compared to what? Hopefully, in PT they will measure the relative strength of the 2 muscles, because that's where it's at.

I've stopped running and biking, and as of today, I'm also giving water running and elliptical a rest. So nothing but swimming. For the past 2 days, really since I stopped running last week, I don't feel the tightness/pain (whatever it is--I'm not entirely sure) in the gastroc, but continue to feel lateral just above the knee, where the biceps femoris tendon is, pain. Sometimes. It still feels to me that I have an issue with the hamstring, so I'm acting like I do, I guess. In either case, rest from aggravating things is in order. Yesterday I actually got on the elliptical (a different, harder one!) and had zero pain, and zero pain after. I was going up and down stairs with aplomb. But then late afternoon I went outside and picked up pine cones (a service I provide to my neighbor that benefits me, too) and did a bit of leaf and pine needle sweeping, and when I got back inside, OUCH! There was some knee bending involved, but again, that could be the patella or it could just be the hamstring. I'm writing this down so I don't forgot to report all this to the PT.

Obviously, this is very frustrating, and I feel like an idiot for not catching/abating this sooner, and of course, those feelings of being a loser and setting such high expectations for myself come into play. That's a normal reaction, right? I do try and push those thoughts aside, but they do manage to creep into my consciousness a few times a day.

At this point, I would be happy if I knew I could go for a WALK without doing further damage and not being in any pain. I know other people have far worse problems than I do, but this is my passion, and so it makes me sad. I spend a lot of time stretching, doing body work, warming up prior to exercise, getting massages, eating right--all those things I'm supposed to do. Oh and I forgot that the ortho gave me the "you're getting old" talk which really made me feel great (NOT). Only the way he said it was, "You need to realize that at your age you are pushing your body's limits." Same difference!

So right now I'm in that limbo where I really don't know quite what the fuck all is going on with my body. I always say I wish I just had a broken bone--there's a pretty standard protocol and recovery period for those--whereas this? I have no fucking clue, and I'm not even convinced I have a proper diagnosis. I still do have an appointment with the podiatrist, and hope that results in new orthotics. Which who knows when I will get to use them?

Here I thought I had fixed one problem and now this. On the bright side, I'm closer to and higher up the wall with my hands/feet in pursuing a handstand. And I don't need my goddamn knees or hamstrings to do that, either. One day at a time, huh?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Woohoo! I'm Injured!

Shit happens. It happens when you don't want it to. But it's a cost of doing business, and I have to find a way through it, and I will, with my coach's help.

So what's the deal? I'm not fully diagnosed yet, but it presents as hamstring and/or gastroc tendinitis in my right leg (the one with the Morton's Neuroma). I believe it arose due to the following factors:

  • Decreasing my bike volume significantly in September while simultaneously
  • Increasing my run/walk volume significantly in September
  • Doing a 50k that I thought I could legitimately train for near home. I was wrong. No way I could do enough hill work in 6 weeks to be ready for what I faced, nor do I have access nearby to the level of rocky trail I ran on. Still, I'm glad I did it, and I had a blast. It was a real mental exercise!
  • Doing a 5k 8 days after the 50k.
  • Doing a hilly 25k 2 weeks after a hilly 50k. That was just plain stupid.
Did I see this coming? Well yes and no. I had an intermittent niggle in my right calf/knee in September, but it was so intermittent I didn't think much about it. I felt tightness in my calf when I would sit in the yoga child pose that got progressively worse, but I could still sit that way and ease into it pretty easily.

Things got slightly less intermittent before the 50k, and I did have some concern that I might just DNF, but I wasn't really in pain so much as I felt really tight. So I just kept up stretching and I never felt the tightness or anything limiting me during the 50k. 

Then the plan was for me to not run for like 10-12 days, but then that Corn Maze 5k got rescheduled for 8 days after the 50k, and it was just for fun and I surely wasn't going to race it, so I went. My right calf was tight, but it still didn't feel painful, so I stretched right before the race, and I really didn't feel anything while I ran, albeit slowly. Still, I was super tight after it.

Then I started formal training with coach, and since I wasn't reporting in on any particular trouble, 2 days after the 5k I had a hill workout. That kinda sealed the deal. Now I recognized actual pain, but still not enough for me to consider modifying anything. I began a research, search and destroy mission to see if I could figure out what was going on and maybe fix it. I gave it my best shot, and I have a theory (which I will get to shortly), but I found myself needing medical help to figure it out.

So the day before Thanksgiving I got myself into an Immediate Care facility to get checked out. I said I was in level 9 out of 10 pain (really hurt going down stairs and sometimes just walking), but honestly I don't know. I have a very high pain tolerance for these sorts of things--I continued running for 3 years with pain from the Morton's Neuroma!

The doctor ordered an X-ray of my knee and an ultrasound. The X-ray showed I have very minor (negligible) arthritis. Yay!. The ultrasound was to check for a Baker's Cyst behind the knee--that was also negative. So the doctor gave me a prescription for 600mg Ibuprofen (not sure it helps but I'm taking it anyway), and we talked further. I asked her if she knows about Morton's Neuroma, and she said yes, so I laid my theory on her: For the 3 years I spent running on it, I had adjusted my leg's mechanics, notably the knee joint (and probably some in the hip, too), and since April of this year when I found a way to stop the pain and get my foot operating properly, my knee is rebelling and hence my issue. However, I believe that reducing biking played a factor in that biking puts my feet (and knees) into a rather locked, good ergonomic position, and that "protected" me from the ravages of running.

In fact, back in April, I had some trouble with my knee and resorted to a lot of water running for a few weeks, and I corrected it.

So the doctor buys my theory, and so now I get to see an ortho AND a podiatrist. I think my orthotics need to be rebuilt. I may actually have overstretched tendons, too, but I won't know that until Monday.

So in my customary fashion, I've been testing what I can do that DOESN'T HURT to substitute for running. Water running--CHECK. Elliptical (which I abhor but will do)--CHECK. So until I get a diagnosis on this, that's what I'll be doing. I don't want to try actual running for at least a week, but I can do more biking in the meantime, too.

So while I wanted to bawl my eyes out yesterday, I'm good with where things stand. And I'm actually happy that I scored a decent physician who understood that my foot may be the cause of all this.

So, Disney will be whatever it is--walking, running, standing around. Whatever I can do there is what I will do and be OK with it. If I don't have any actual muscle tears or severe tendinitis (which I don't think I do--nothing is swollen and I can use the muscles just fine they just feel super tight), I would guess I can get back to actual running in 3 weeks. But we shall see. 

I'm keeping a daily log of activities, stretching, and so on, so on Monday I can tell the doctor how things are progressing. I also traced this guy's rear right leg so I can show the specific points where I experience pain while doing certain things.  He lives on the door in my weight room.

I am nothing if not prepared when I walk into a physician's office!

So wish me luck that this is just stuff being readjusted, needing some time off from running (that I should have taken earlier LOL) and new orthotics.

Meanwhile, I'm thoroughly enjoying the swim workouts I'm doing, and even seeing flashes of getting faster. And I'm remembering what hard bike workouts are, and I'm progressing on my quest for handstand and pullups. So I really can't complain.

I'm just fortunate in that I live so close to my Y and can do the deep water running and whatever else I want to do there. Plus I'm really REALLY determined. But honestly, I can't wait to run pain-free again!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Little Race Report and General Updates

For all 5 people who read this blog...

On Saturday, 11/12, I "did" (I'm not calling it raced since I didn't feel fully recovered from the 50k) a rather hilly 25k about 15 miles from home (note to self: I should go run there more often). It was on crushed limestone trails in Palos Park. I'd done the fall version of this race (Paleozoic Fall) 2 years ago, but the course that year wasn't as hilly as this year's model.

In *my* version of training plan, I predicted 3:15, allowing to having done a 50k just 2 weeks before, in other words, it would be a nice, easy, long run. Coach put down 2:45, and said that if it took me less time than that, to run later to make it up. He also said to go out nice and easy and run hard on the second half.

I looked at this and thought, well, that would be really nice if I could do all that. I made an elevation map of the race a week prior and here it is:
So just under half the gain of the 50k in half the distance. Fuck!

I've been nursing an issue with my right leg for a little over 4 weeks that has made walking down stairs (or running down steep hills) a little painful. I've been testing out different hypotheses as to what it is, but didn't have it figured out by the race, either that or my fixes hadn't yet kicked in.

So I went into the race figuring that the downhills might be touchy. Anyway, prior to the race, it appeared I was the oldest female registered for the race, and I didn't count on any other old ladies showing up. Also, the morning of the race, we finally had our first frost! But it wasn't that terribly cold, which makes for good running weather.

I wore my CW-X tights, trail shoes with gaiters, a light thermal top, a wind vest, light gloves and a lightweight hat. I get cold pretty easily, and since I knew we'd be in the woods, and there was wind, that I probably wouldn't get too hot. I laugh at people who show up in shorts for these things. Kudos to them, but you will see me in tights even with temps in the 50's!

I carried 3 hours worth of Infinit, figuring that would last me for 3.5 hours if something went horribly wrong. Although my right leg was giving me fits at home before the race, once I got there and started running, it felt fine to run on. So this is why I suspect it's more a nerve thing, but I digress.

I started out easy, and experienced hills pretty quickly, some that were so steep (10% grade plus--see here for what different grades look like) that it was hard just to walk up! About 40 minutes in, there was a large puddle, or should I say a pond, on the trail. Trying to go off trail through whatever was growing was not possible, so we had to run through it. Wet feet! Yay! At least it wasn't cold enough for this to cause problems, but of course I hoped I didn't develop any blisters because of it.

About an hour in, my legs felt absolutely dead. I did a 1:30 run on Wednesday and a 3 hour ride on Thursday, and by the end of Friday, I'd racked up 13.75 hours of training (M-F), and I'd run a 50k 2 weeks before, so this didn't particularly surprise me. Still, it gave me pause as to whether I had enough fuel onboard and the night before. I carbed up at dinner on Friday, and on race morning, I had my typical egg, English Muffin, and a can of Coke. I suppose I could have tried to choke down more calories, but I didn't really feel I was out of fuel. So I just soldiered onward.

I did have to stop to pee (and poop!) about 1:10 in, but it was quick (and dirty ha ha). Since I didn't want to lose time (I don't think this cost me more the 30 seconds), I just pulled up my pants, knowing I'd probably chafe, but too bad. This probably contributed to the feeling of dead legs I'd had earlier, because after this, I felt a bit better in the legs department.

I got to the halfway point exactly 1:30, and thought, OK, so I can do this in 3 hours. There were at least 5 people milling around the one aid station. Because there was a 50k going on at the same time, there was candy, pretzels, cookies and assorted other stuff, but the people who were there were 25k runners, and it made me laugh that they were all chowing down! I just refilled my water bottle, chugged 2 cups of Pepsi (not Coke, but still YUM!) and got out of there. I think that because of my quick stop, that put me ahead of 3 or 4 people.

Now, coach told me to go hard on the second half, but I seriously didn't think that was possible. Still, I got it in my head that I could walk less and just keep it going and that might allow me to negative split. Since the course was an out and back, I was going to face the same hills and such on the way back.

After maybe 2.5 miles on the way back, I could see 3 more runners ahead of me, and I was closing in on them, and that got me motivated to try and pass them. All it took was really powering up the steep hills and then resuming running immediately at the crest. I seriously enjoyed passing people on the uphills, especially since I needed to take it easy on the downhills because of my knee issue.

And the knee issue was there, but it wasn't bad, and besides, the trail was leaf covered, so you couldn't tell what you were running on, so I ran gingerly on the downhills anyway. On the plus side, my quads never hurt during the race!

So I did pass those 3 people and was re-passed by only one person. Because of the wet feet, the little gel toe separator that I have to wear to prevent my right foot from hurting from the Morton's neuroma came off the toe and was moving around in my sock. But it stayed under my small toes, and I knew what it was, so I just acknowledged it and kept going. I hoped the ball of that foot wouldn't start to hurt, and it never did.

As I got close to the end (based on my watch), I failed to recognize where I was. Funny how that works in a trail race! Same thing happened to me in the 50k--I knew I was close, but nothing looked familiar! But I kept seeing the trail marking, so knew I was probably going the right way, until I saw the orange plate that said, "Aid station 1km."  I'd only seen this for the 7.5 station, and in my dazed head I thought maybe I'd made a wrong turn. But a girl came up on me and said we were 1km from finishing and then I was happy! I didn't look at my watch the entire second half, just tried to go a bit faster than on the way out, and when I finished, I'd gone 6 minutes faster for the second half!

So 2:54, and I checked on my 2014 result for an easier course and it was 2:57, and I thought I was in BETTER running shape 2 years ago! So yay, thanks Coach! Turns out I was the oldest female finisher, so I won my AG and got a nice beer glass, and I was 21/34 women overall, so not too shabby!

The medal and shirt are so cute! Before the race, they had a few packages of tiny dinosaurs and you could take one, so I took the orange one that looks to be the Dilophosaurus. They had beer for us at the finish, and I drank one after I had some of the hot soup. In the photo above, you can see I've rolled up my gaiters to let my shoes dry a bit and so I could take the chip strap off.

Well now back to my knee...when I got home from the race it hurt like a mofo. I iced, then later in the day stretched and then pain walking down stairs! So I've concluded that what's going on is a seriously tight/messed up soleus, with maybe a little participation from the popliteus. So, I keep on my stretching and trigger point work and hopefully lick this thing in short order. I know my knee was a bit wonky since it's been trying to readjust after correcting my foot mechanics. So today, I'm just left with sore quads--but not like after the 50k.

And now back to the rest of my training shit...look what I did for WEEK ONE WITH THE COACH:

He doesn't give me strength workouts (that's on my dime), but still, that was some serious shit! Honestly, when I saw it at the beginning of the week, I was like, "OK...sure..." but then I did it! Also, I must add that this week I also started my extra strength work towards my handstand and pullup goal, and that made things entertaining with all the swimming--my serratus have been yelling at me! I really didn't feel recovered from the 50k all week, but I suspect that by tomorrow, I'll be all good. The 5k swim I did yesterday was a bit in slow motion, but it felt good, and it helped to shake out my legs.

So it's onward and upward to see what I can accomplish this week. I am already liking this coaching thing and think I will be motivated and coached and pushed to new levels of fitness! One day at a time!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Started with my new Coach!

As of 11/7, I am operating under orders from my new coach, Nick Logan. We met in person maybe 10 years ago at an Ironman after finding out about one another via the Slowtwitch forum (which I rarely view anymore). He was a serious weight lifter turned endurance athlete, and I was, well, a Crackhead. It was fun to meet!

Fast forward to 2014, and Nick was doing his first Ultraman, and he reached out to ME for any advice I might have. I'd trained for Ultraman while working full time (hint: REALLY FUCKING HARD!), and so I had one perspective on it, and I'd done it self-coached.

Move to 2014, where I once again thought I'd be able to do Ultraman Hawaii. That never panned out because work stress and other things conspired to knock that goal down. At the time, though, I did a concerted search for a coach and had considered Nick.

Having retired (permanently? who knows?) this year and feeling like I can give big goals another go, I decided Nick was the person I wanted to coach me. Why?

  • He knows how I typically like to train. I.e., A LOT.
  • He knows I've had some fairly good race results and that I consider myself fairly competitive.
  • He's done Ultraman and so in case I decide I want to go that route again, I consider him qualified to coach me.
  • He's morphed into quite a successful triathlete, and frankly, I wouldn't even consider being coached by someone who wasn't.
  • He's very down to earth--at least compared to me. 
We started the conversation after I announced I wanted to do BIG THINGS next year, and I decided that the formal time to start would be after I'd finished the 50k that I did on 10/29. The reason I picked that date was because I needed to see if I could even DO that race (I know, I know--self-confidence crisis!) and see where that left my fitness.

So we began talking in earnest last week while I was taking a huge rest week from the 50k. Whereas in my own training plan, I would continue a relative rest period this week, as it turns out, I'm not resting this week! But that's fine by me! Nick is testing me to see what I can do this week, and we're fine-tuning some aspects of how I need to operate in order for him to coach me as best as he can--things like equipment (gadgets, swim tools), workout terminology, and some other things like when can I ride Death Machine?

Meanwhile, on my own, I've started my quest to be able to do a handstand and 10 pullups. While it would be really cool if I accomplished this by the end of the year, in reality, I have no idea how long it will take. However, I have committed to almost daily work towards the goals. Right now this involves doing wall (or couch or shelves or whatever I'm around) planks, additional dumbbell rows (I already do those as part of my strength training so now I just get to do them every day!), Smith machine bodyweight rows (I'm doing these at my Y, but I'm going to see if I can rig up something at home or maybe it's time to get a squat rack) and dead hangs. I already know that I have great core strength because the wall planks are more arm/upper back things than core things for me.

Another thing I'm working on is correcting a problem I'm having with my right calf/behind the knee area possibly popliteus muscle. I really don't think I'm injured, because sometimes the pain/discomfort is completely gone. I think it may be related to correcting my right foot mechanics and also driving more. In that vein, I'm adding additional stretches and body work to my daily routine, I've ditched the office chair again for the stability ball, and I've reinstalled a cushion in my car seat because bucket seats mess up my soleus and back (as they do to most people--contact me if you want to know more about this), and I've been driving a lot this year and forgot how that messes me up. I have 100% confidence I'll lick this all soon enough. It hasn't stopped me from running or biking.

I am really happy to be working with a coach again! Seriously, without me working, I'm inclined to train myself into the ground, so I need help to not do that, but I also am pursuing serious competitive goals and I needed help with that. And even though I am quite self-motivated, I am already finding that just having someone else to be accountable to is raising my motivation level, and possibly my work output! I so want to do well! I'm fortunate in that I only live .8 miles from my pool, can strength train (which I'm still doing on my own--Nick isn't writing workouts for that!) and do treadmill running at home, so I have zero excuses for not being able to do workouts. I can plod through snow if I have to to get to the pool!

This is all so exciting for me and gives me a renewed sense of purpose. Now if I can just figure out how to make time to study for that damn personal trainer certification...seriously, though, my life is so much better doing the amount of training I like to do while not working. When I did it working, I had ZERO play in my schedule. Now I can visit with friends and family regularly, attend beer club meetings, take time to chat with others before/after workouts instead of rushing off to get back to work, cook nice stuff for myself all the time, spend more time supporting my friends' athletic efforts, and I think, just be a better person. Because when all is said and done, that's why I do all this stuff--it makes me a better person. Now, sure, I want to be better than certain other persons in my age group, but other than that, I just want to be a stand-up human being, good friend and someone people like to be around.

EIGHT WEEKS TO DOPEY CHALLENGE! SHIT! This weekend I'm doing a 25k race that has almost half the climbing of the 50k I did just 2 weeks ago! I have no idea how I will do, but at least I know I won't be running on rocks! I've got 2 black toenails and 2 more that are sketchy that will probably join in after the 25k. Oh well! It's past flip flop season!

In summary, it's always a good thing to change things up--your S/B/R training, your stretching, your strength training. I dare you to make big changes of your own!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Las Vegas Backcountry 50k Trail Race 10/29/2016 Race Report and Trip Summary!

Holy fucking crap where do I start? A full set of photos from my trip are on Facebook.

I planned this race and trip for my 60th birthday extravaganza that I would share with my best friend, Susan, back in July. I don't remember if I planned this before or after I figured I'd go for a BQ and KQ next year, but it doesn't matter. At any rate, I knew I'd need to train like a mofo for 50k, and it actually frightened me a bit since I hadn't run a marathon since late 2013 during Ironman Cozumel.

I know there are a number of people who probably scoff at my crises of self-confidence when it comes to endurance sports, but honestly I do have them because I have a great deal of respect for "big" things, and a 50k is a big thing, especially when it's a trail race. I also have much respect for FAST things like sprint triathlons and 5k/10k races. Those things can put the hurt to you, and unless you intend to just waltz through them as a participant, they require devoted preparation and mental focus.

If you've never done a long, true trail race, let's just say that their objective is to fuck you up, especially if you don't train on the race's terrain. In my case, what I have available to train on near me is basically crushed limestone and the one big hill at Greene Valley. What I actually ran on in Rainbow Gardens (part of the Lake Mead Recreation Area) was rocks of every color, shape and size, plus sand plus rutted trails in the mountains! It was fantastic!

I'd tested out my gear and nutrition in training for the race. I did a number of weekends where I did back to back long-ish runs, although my actual longest run prior to the race was only 14 miles! I also did a lot of fast walking/hiking to get lots of time on my feet in training. My highest volume of combined running and walking was the week of 10/3, where I put in 11.4 total hours/59.62 miles. I figured that was enough for a 50k, and actually I could have run 50 miles depending on the terrain.

One of the things that's important about training for these big endurance festivals is putting the hurt to yourself in training, because you know it's going to hurt while you are out there racing, and if you can't handle pain, then you have zero business doing these things. Because the pain will come--both during and after the race itself. And you need to be OK with it. I definitely put the hurt to myself in training, and had sore legs for much of the lead up to the race itself.  I've done this sort of thing before, and I'm very attuned to my body, so I can tell the difference between actual muscle damage versus expected soreness and/or referred nerve pain. I never actually hurt myself in training, but I sure had referred nerve pain and soreness! But that's what swimming, stretching and massage are for!

Two weeks ago, I basically felt like crap, and every time I ran, I felt like crap. Like I had zero power or speed in me, and shit hurt. Shit hurt so much I was actually frightened I might not be able to finish the race. But that turned out to be normal shit, and I'd just forgotten that that's how tapers go much of the time (thanks Debby for reminding me of this!). But the Saturday before I left, I had a great 1-hour run on the treadmill, and that was a good confidence builder! But what the fuck--I was going to be running a lot farther than that!

I did a full week of formal heat acclimation, following the protocol I found in Meredith Kessler's book, "Life of a Triathlete." Buy the damn book and read it if you are at all serious about competing! The heat acclimation worked like a charm during the race--while it got probably into the lower 80's, I never felt hot, even at altitude (the race started at 2100 feet and we climbed another at least 1000 feet twice). I knew I was sweating, but I never felt icky (it's a "dry" heat, right?), and I never felt overly thirsty, although occasionally I would just shoot water over my lips and not drink it. I drank my custom Infinit mix for my race nutrition and nothing else. That worked perfectly!

For breakfast on race morning, I ate 2 hardboiled eggs, had a Powerbar Triple Threat and 300 calories of Ultrafuel. Plus maybe 3 mugs of coffee, and then I drank a bottle of water on the way to the race. I took a cab from Mandalay Bay because I knew I wouldn't be able to drive myself back, and my friend Susan was to pick me up.

I'd told Susan to be at the race 7 hours in, as I thought I should probably be able to finish in that amount of time. Where the fuck did I get that number? Fuck if I know! It just seemed reasonable, even though I had no fucking clue what the actual terrain was, since there is no course map published on the race website!

I got lucky with the cab driver, because he knew all about ultrarunners and didn't think I was too crazy until I told him about Ultraman. Then he put me in the loony bin category! I'd printed Google Maps directions to the race start and had him look at them knowing I had it precisely right and there was only one way to get there.

We got to the little kiosk--really just a tiny wooden stand--and the race people were setting up, so there were lights in the pitch black. It was beautiful to be able to see the stars not that far from Las Vegas! Of course, in the dark, I could not see where the hell we would be running! I met a man from England, Stuart, and we chatted, and I told him I hoped to go 7 hours (he was doing the marathon), and he said that would be a pretty good time for this race. I still had no fucking idea!

As I collected my bib, chip and shirt, as usual, I got the dry heaves, and one of the volunteers asked if I was OK, and I said this is normal for me prior to a race! I used the porta-potty a few times, the sun came up, and it was GO time. I could see the mountains off in the distance, but still had no clue what the route was. The marathon and 50k people started at 7:00, and the 5k, 10k and 1/2 marathon started at 7:30. Someone blew a horn and we were off!

Most people took off like jack rabbits. I had no fucking idea what I was going to be running on, and right away it was rocks. And you had to pick your way through them--these trails are also used by off road vehicles--and there were ruts from the heavy rain the week before, so it was all very uneven footing! And we started climbing pretty much right away, and I had sunglasses with me, but I never even wore them because I had to see what was right in front of me the entire time!

We did 2 out and back sections--the first was about 17 miles, and then the other part was about 14. I had (2) 3.5-hour bottles of Infinit concentrate--one with me, and one in my drop bag. I thought the drop bags were at the 16.5 mile mark, but I got there in 3.5 hours and the guy said it was 17 miles, so I was ahead of schedule! I only out and out walked the first section when I had to drink Infinit, which I slugged every 30 minutes. I could grab my water bottle whenever I needed to and sometimes carried it.

Oh--here's all my crap laid out the night before the race:
I had made 1/2 hour marks using a Sharpie on the 2 bottles that held the Infinit. You can see my trail shoes (with the neon laces) and the gaiters (with the skulls!) that I wore. I'd worn my entire outfit/kit in training, so nothing felt weird on race day.

Anyway, I'm running the first out and back and just laughing to myself inside because I'm thinking I had never run on anything like this ever before! But I just ran a comfortable pace with a short stride and picked my way through the rocks and didn't worry about where other people were. But after maybe 8 miles I started passing people. Not that I was going very fast, I was just steady and not slowing down. I passed my buddy Stuart, and I think he was a bit surprised. The marathon and 50k people were on the same course through maybe 21 miles. There was a guy I kept leap-frogging with that I eventually passed for good right before the marathon turnaround.

Anyway, the scenery was gorgeous, and it looked different in each direction, because you had to pay so much attention to your footing and you could only look around so much. But it was stunning! The entire time I was out there I felt so grateful to have the fitness and financial means to be in such a beautiful place running! I held back on shedding any tears, though, until I was maybe a mile from the finish.

So I finish the first like 17 miles and I'm excited and thinking I can finish this fucker! Maybe I don't suck so bad! And while the first out and back had a decent climb in it, it was NOTHING compared to the second part! As soon as I grabbed my second 3.5-hour bottle of Infinit, we started going UP! And it was this big fucking mountain and I thought, holy shit how high are we going? But I kept picking my way uphill and didn't walk too much on the way out on this section, and I totally spaced where the marathon turnaround was but wondered why I didn't keep seeing some people...oh well, I never expect my brain to function 100% during these things!

So we climbed for maybe 4 miles and then we went downhill to the turnaround and then it was back the fuck uphill again. Holy fuck, by this time my legs hurt like mofos. Actually, they'd begun to hurt about 3 hours in, but I expected it. I alternated between quads hurt, lack of hip flexors (always a fun feeling!), and even my adductors were pinging me because of all the stabilization I needed to do with the uneven footing! I did end up walking uphill maybe 30 minutes on the way back, but felt that I wouldn't be running much faster, so I just kept going. I even passed a few people while I was walking!

All I could remember about this section of trail to gauge where the fuck I was was by the humps around me. I knew there was a major hump at the start of this section, and I was like WHERE THE FUCK IS THAT HUMP? And I was starting to become mentally weary and worry about whether I would go over 7 hours because I didn't want Susan to have to wait for me! But then the big mountain receded from view and I knew I was almost home, and this song came on my MP3 player (it was set to shuffle):

and then I started bawling my eyes out because I was looking around me and it was so beautiful and I was going to finish this thing and now I just kept running and when I finally saw the cones with arrows for the finish line I was so happy! I thought I would go under 7 hours, and we had to climb this stupid little hump that you almost had to clamber up, and then it flattened out for about .2 miles to the finish, and I knew people could see me and that I had to run it all, and now NOTHING HURT ANYMORE and I just kept going and I broke 7 hours!
I could see Susan standing there and truly I was relieved she hadn't needed to wait for me any longer! Stuart was there with her. Before the race, I found out that Stuart had taken a cab as well, so I told him he could get a ride with me back to his hotel, and he'd already met Susan before I arrived! I asked how they knew who they were, and Stuart had overheard Susan asking about where I was on the course (they had no idea as there were no interim timing mats), and he approached her and all was well!

A volunteer told me I was 3rd woman overall so I got a stainless steel cup award. Here's my medal and shirt and stuff:

The medal is a piece of rock! How cool is that?

I am still overwhelmed that I was able to do this thing in a respectable time and now know that I can go the distance again! This race was so fucking hard that it will make Disney seem like a cake walk! I am so grateful that I can do this stuff and that I have such great friends that support me in my insanity. Honestly, there is nothing better than having your best friend waiting for you at the finish line! I told Susan how much that motivated me, but I know she knows that a lot of it was my usual (over-?) preparation and mental toughness. I am just happy that maybe I got all that back and can keep going at this shit for a few years. This was an amazing experience and I get why some people only do these hard trail races--they really are a different animal. I don't know when I'll go back and do this race again--I definitely want to--but now I am thinking I want to climb Mount Whitney, which isn't too far from Susan's house. Maybe 2018. It would be nice to add another different endurance event!

Hope you enjoyed reading, and GET OUT THERE AND RUN IN BEAUTIFUL PLACES!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Hay is in the Barn...Almost Too Much Hay!

Recall that I officially began my training for the upcoming 50k on 9/5. So I've trained for 6 weeks for it, and during that time I only biked around 3 hours per week. Below is what I anticipated doing for those 6 weeks side by side with what I actually did:

Now, in pencil on my paper calendar view, I'd added in anticipated walking time just to add to my totals, so that is one reason there's a big disparity in actual vs. planned. In reality, the actual running time isn't that huge--my maximum was 6.33 hours. That's not huge running. However, that represents a 35% increase in run volume over 6 weeks. That's quite a bit. That's why my legs are still a bit of a mess. But my legs will recover--what's really messed up is my mid- and lower-back. I didn't figure that out until a few days ago, but I'm glad I did so I can take care of it.

In those 6 weeks, I attended 3 Ironman races--Wisconsin, Chattanooga and Louisville! And those weekends definitely contributed to slightly overdoing things, but I expected that. But I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world! I so enjoy helping others reach their goals and providing some bright spots in a tough day.

Now it's my turn. I ran a 1/2 marathon the first week and did OK, and then I ran one yesterday and was a bit slower. I didn't expect big things, and my legs told me I am not really tapered down yet. That will happen this week in a big way! And it's my birthday week! Which kinda sucks, since it's nice to have cake and champagne and stuff on one's birthday, but I really won't be training enough to do that. I'm actually already watching what I eat (and drink) so I don't put on any weight during these next 2 weeks, and I'm slated for a big birthday bash in Vegas after the race. So it's not like I'll be suffering this week!

I got a bit nostalgic on Facebook yesterday and posted some pictures from 2010 Ultraman Canada. I was just thinking about it and how even when I did it I couldn't believe I was actually doing it. Now I'm seriously considering Ultraman Hawaii in 2018, and if all goes well and I feel I have the stamina to train properly for it (just to finish--that is all I need to do!), then I will do it. If I qualify for IMHI at IMWI next year, then I'll do both IMHI and UMHI in 2018. They are about a month and a half apart. IMHI would be a great tuneup for UMHI. I would probably just stay in Kona between the 2 races because why bother flying back and all that shit? Wouldn't that just be tits and a half? I think so!

But first I need to conquer this 50k. I'm sure I can get it done, but I don't want it to be a walking festival. I'm shooting for 7 hours which is a 13:33 pace. I think I can do that, but we shall see!

Meanwhile, the order of business for me right now is to rest as much as possible--this means sleep (and I'm sleeping a bit more already), laying around being lazy, and if I'm not feeling it in a workout, to just cut it short. But also watch my diet. The lighter I am for this next race, the better I'll do. And I could stand to lose 2-3 pounds. I am not TRYING to lose weight during taper, but it might just happen. We'll see.

I was kind of a maniac this weekend considering I should have been tapering already. I ran the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and then I walked for about 45 minutes right afterwards. You might think walking is no big deal, but try that sometime and keep doing it after all your long runs and get back to me. Then today I was supposed to do a fun 5K run in a corn maze, but after driving 60 miles, I get there and it was cancelled due to all the rain we had last night and this morning. Oh well! So on the way home, I'm thinking I could just rest and do nothing, but the temperature was quite mild today, so after a brief stop at home, I went to Waterfall Glen and ran about 3.5 miles and walked about 3.5. I felt fine doing it (albeit not too fast running--maybe 10mpm), and didn't immediately feel tired when I finished. But then about an hour later, I was like FUCK I'M TIRED! And I could feel my quads telling me maybe I should have rested but oh well. So I stretched and rolled and poked and massaged everything thoroughly and I am now being a lazy bum.

I was admonished to mention a long-lost friend, Susan Airheart, who I met at IMLP 2009 and saw at IMLOU just last week! She's a great lady and is one of the few people I actually consider taking advice from! On that subject--I've chosen a formal mentor for myself--William Pruett--because he knows his shit about all things triathlon from Ironman on up, and he's been a good friend for over 10 years. Between the 2 of them and my coach, Nick, I think I am going to do well these next few months.

But first a 50k! In Vegas!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Excessive Ironman Spectating

When this is most of your laundry from TWO DAYS of training and spectating, I think it means you're doing it right!

I love spectating at an Ironman race and supporting friends and strangers! However, I always end up training/exercising more than I have scheduled for myself and end up in a calorie hole the day after.

On Sunday, the day of Ironman Louisville, I took in:

  • a Balance Bar (about 225 calories) and a hard-boiled egg (about 72 calories) for breakfast. 
  • I drank 24 oz. of Infinit (about 240 calories) while running and walking before and during the swim (until about 8:30)
  • I drank 2.beers mid-day (1 prior to driving around the bike course and one with lunch) for about 280 calories
  • I had 2 fish tacos, a good number of chips and salsa, a little bit of refried beans and about 1/3 cup of rice for lunch. I'm guessing 600 calories?
  • I did not eat dinner, but at the end of the day had some really good pretzels with sinful cheese dip. Let's say 300 calories.
Well that's a problem--that only adds up to about 1700 calories taken in for the day. I need at least 1800 just to survive without exercising.

The KNOWN exercise (there was more walking, but how much who knows?) that I did:
  • 1 hour of running
  • 1.5 hours of walking (probably more). This was the deliberate stuff that I actually measured. I'd planned on 30 minutes, but then Shelley and I walked back to our hotel from the race site.
  • 19.5 miles of biking. Let's call that an hour
Let's say I burn 500 calories/hour for the running and biking and 320 for the walking. So I burned about 1500 calories that I know of. Huh. BAD CALORIES INTAKE!!! So at the end of the day, I was at least 1500 calories down. I probably depleted most of my glycogen reserves.

On Monday morning, I ate another Balance Bar and an egg, then I had a McGriddle when we stopped on the way from Louisville to Indianapolis. As I was driving from Indianapolis back home, I drank a 24-oz. bike bottle of Gatorade. I got home and felt sated and not hungry. Then I went for a swim. 2800 yards. I drank maybe 4 oz. of Gatorade. As soon as I got out of the pool, I was like hmm...I think I'm bonking. And I was. I drank some more Gatorade, showered, managed to stretch for 5 minutes in the sauna then I rushed home to eat. That was the point I realized I was physically tired, too! So while I thought I might get in a short run, I decided it was best to just bag it for the day and give my legs some rest. It's been 13 days since I didn't run, walk or bike on a given day!

Last week, I put in 39 miles of running, 20 miles of walking, 78 miles of biking, 10,300 yards of swimming and about 1:45 of strength training. Well no wonder the fuck I was bonking yesterday after spectating for a day!  I should really know better by now to try and eat even more when I am doing that. I did OK for breakfast and the big lunch, but dinner FAIL. It's just hard to stop for dinner when you are busy looking for people you know and cheering on the strangers! That's ok--it's well worth the sacrifice! Note to self: next time I do this, at lunch I will get a sandwich to carry and eat later. 

Today, I'm back on my game. I am actually tapering this week for my 50k, although I am racing a 1/2 marathon on Saturday and doing a 5k as a fun run on Sunday. I want to do well at the 1/2 marathon, even though I'm swimming 5k the day before. Such is my life! Also, unfortunately, I will be attending a funeral for a friend's son who just passed away. It is things like that that make me so grateful for the life I have.

Speaking of grateful, last Friday I decided it was time for me to knuckle down once I was back from Louisville. So today I wrote 10 things for me to do on the big mirror in my bedroom. They are probably a little hard to read:
what with the light and mirror and all. What they say are:
  1. No more candy. I am giving the rest away. I really don't need it at all. See #2.
  2. >Fruit which means eat more fruit. I have not been eating enough.
  3. Quit being fat. Yes, I can stand to lean out a bit more. If I do #1 and #2, that will take care of this.
  4. Read! I have so many books that are unread or started. I don't really WATCH much TV, but I have it on, so I will focus more on just turning the damn thing off and reading the books! The 2 I am going to finish up are "Life of a Triathlete" by Meredith Kessler and "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman.
  5. Go Hard! 
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Be Grateful
  8. Love
  9. Don't Give a Fuck
  10. Win!
That about covers me through at least January; probably more like March! At that point, I suspect I'll be in some pretty intensive training and I should be able to cross out #1 and #3. #4 might go by the wayside, too, but the rest should remain pretty much constant.

I am happy I'm not traveling out of town for 3 weeks. Even though I'm racing this weekend, and my birthday is the following weekend, not spending hours driving and being away from home will give me some much needed rest. And I can focus more on my own training and racing. I still have planning to do before this weekend's racing, and of course, for the 50k. But that's fun stuff! Today (aside from what I've already accomplished) I get to run and bike, and I'm breaking in new running shoes. That will be fun! Of course, obsessing about races burns calories, so I'll stay on top of that, too!

Have a great day and week!