Monday, December 6, 2010

Run Like the Wind 24hr

Part 2 of my very busy day December 4, 2010:
Or as I like to refer to it: Walk Like the Breeze! Because that is what I felt like, the breeze! The Sealy 5k Jingle Bell Fun Run and Competitive Walk was such a huge success… I was on cloud 52! I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have a bad race. I don’t know what time it was when I left for Austin Saturday, but it must have been about 12:45 when I got to the race site. Race location and all information about the race are at this link:

What an awesome place! My first impression was turning off of a very busy Business 71 onto Old Bee Caves Road and finding wilderness within 1/4 mile of the highway! Saw my friend Mary Ntefidou just as I arrived at the race site. She is an amazing runner and an awesome friend! Soon after that I saw Deborah Sexton and not long after that, Debbie Evans, two more of my awesome ultra running friends. Deborah, Debbie and I are all getting ready for Across the Years in December.

It took me a few minutes to get my gear ready and pick up my race packet and timing chip. Funny thing is that my goal for this race was to get in at least 100k. Guess what my race number was… 101. Anyone who knows me understands why I simply could not, would not stop at 100k. It had to be 101 or more. I fully intended to get on the course and walk until 10:30 Sunday morning. I gave the race director the leftover bananas and oranges from the Sealy 5k so they would not go to waste.

Next - hurry up and get on the course for a few laps. The loop was not really a loop, but a 1 kilometer meander through a beautiful wooded trail that was covered in mulch with a few well placed trip hazards (small tree stumps hidden in the mulch). After I walked the first 5k, I got my stuff from the car to set up my drop bag area with the other race participants. My plan for this race was to stop for a few minutes every time I completed 5k and look at the next one as a new 5k! I would certainly reach my distance goal if I only completed 5k an hour, and I was completing them just a teeny bit faster than that, including the stopped periods. I knew that I would probably slow down during the night, so whatever I could put in the bag before dark would be a huge bonus. Oops, just realized I forgot my headlamp. And I forgot to eat any solid food since really early that morning. Thanks to Deborah Sexton and Debbie Evans, who brought extra gear and had a headlamp I could borrow. Many thanks to RD Sam Voltaggio, chef extraordinaire… the race chow was amazing. When I realized how hungry I was, I asked for some protein and was given the most delicious burger I had ever tasted (only the meat, no bun or anything else). I don’t know where Sammy gets his beef or how he seasons it… but WOW!

The funny thing about me and race food is that I usually do not eat anything heavy during races. I usually totally rely on Perpetuem, Hammer Gel, Endurolytes, a spoonful of plain peanut butter every now and then, some bananas and orange slices, and some pineapple juice for variety, oh and don’t forget the black coffee during the night. But, that beef patty was just what I needed at the time. I never got any stomach discomfort or restroom issues through the whole race. When the sun started to go down, I put on a long sleeve shirt because the temperature dropped a little. I was not ready for the thermals until some time after midnight when I believe the cold front came through. Thankfully it was a dry front, so the wind just picked up a little and we were mostly protected from the wind by the woods.

Back to the race plan; I mostly stuck to the plan of walking 5 loops and taking a little rest break, from 2 to 5 minutes. I love that the loop was 1k, so I never had to carry anything. I could wait a few hundred meters if I got thirsty on the trail. I usually took a small drink of water or Heed at 3k, and then drank plenty every time I refueled. There were a few times when I just refueled, hydrated and kept moving, but that was not part of the plan, so I was very careful to take the breaks. After all, this was supposed to be a training walk… getting me ready for Across the Years. I didn’t start at the same time as everyone else, so no chance I was going to move up from last place.

I need to repeat once more what a wonderful place this was to have an event like this! Thinking about the things I heard and saw (?) in the woods after dark. I was listening to my usual heavy metal with only one earbud in and started to hear strange sounds so turned off the music for a while. I was just the wind making the tree limbs creak and groan. The strange things I was seeing turned out to be rather large spiders trying to make their way through the mulch bed on the path. Their eyes glowed in the light from the headlamp like tiny little green strobe lights. There must have been thousands of them. The reason I know they were spiders is I stopped to see where the little green flashing lights were coming from… and it was a huge honking spider! (Not really that huge, about the size of a nickel including his legs) So, I had fun avoiding crushing spiders and watching out for those hidden tree stumps. Let me tell you, when you walk the same 1 kilometer loop enough times, you begin to remember exactly where you will encounter the trip hazards. LOL… I know I said a few choice words but I never fell down! Amazing, isn’t it!

I know the volunteers and the RD thought I was totally crazy, but I REALLY had FUN at this race. I arrived in such a great mood and it is sometimes hard for me to contain myself. Several times I jumped for joy as I crossed the timing mat.

I don’t remember exactly what time it was, but I had to change into thermal tights and shirt. This dog training facility has a really nice house for their office space and allowed us to use the indoor restroom to change clothes. Yes, I am a trail racer, but I have a problem with getting naked in public, so I took about a 45 minute break to go indoors and strip naked. I cleaned up a little and put on dry clothes from the drawers out after 50k. Again, I felt like I was starting a new race.

I think I started getting tired around 4am, so asked for some solid food again. I ate half of a bbq chicken breast and it was delicious. Oh, I also forgot to mention that I ate some chicken noodle soup during the night. These things are all running together in my mind now so forgive the sporadic nature of this report. Thinking about time and pacing, 15 hours into my race (17:45 on the official clock) I had 16 5k’s complete, so I had one extra in the bag. Still feeling great I had been walking the kilometers anywhere from 9 to 10 minutes each, and then taking the break after 5k. I don’t know what time it was, but I had a burst of energy during the early morning house and walked 3 loops in a row in 8min30sec! I have NEVER felt this good at a race before! It was daylight when I reached 100k, and the race was to conclude at 10:30, and I was still feeling fine. So, I kept walking though I know I was slower. We had live results that we could check all night, so at one point I saw myself move up from last place to 7 out of 8 total participants. 6 were women and two were men (one guy dropped early due to injury). Then, I moved up to 6 out of 8. When I saw myself in 5th place, I started knocking out some really fast loops, not paying attention to the clock, just planning now to stop for a minute or two at 6k instead of 5k. I was taking extra Hammer Gel for energy it seemed to work for a little while, and then I regained my senses and just kept motoring forward and not trying to kill myself or cause an injury this late in the game. When I reached the end about 110k, I heard someone say “Wow, these women are kicking ASS!” Hearing those words really made me feel great. Sorry to say that the last man standing left at about 4 am or so because he had terrible stomach issues. I walked part of a loop with him a little while before he left and he is a very nice guy, competitive and really not happy that he had to leave when he did. He told me as he was leaving that he was practically walking into trees out there, so it was not safe for him to continue. I ended up with much, much more than I ever thought I would do at this race. I was imagining struggling to complete 100k and finished 113!

Here is the link to the final results where I ended up in 5th place overall, 4th place female: I NEVER dreamed I would do this well in this race, and I really want to thank Sam Voltaggio, Jeff Farrell, Jeff Linwood, Cheri Woldt (the winner), Mary Ntefidou (my dear friend who told me about this race), Deborah Sexton, Debbie Evans, Pat Shannon, Angela Ivory, the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund, and the owners of The Canine Center for Training and Behavior in Austin for allowing us 24 hour crazies to invade their space! I don’t know the names of the rest of the volunteers, but there were some high school students working on service hours and a couple of others whose names I don’t know. Everyone was awesome, and right now, I feel like I am writing an acceptance speech for an academy award or something.

The last huge thing I had to do was change clothes; load up the car and drive back home. I had planned to chill with Deborah and Debbie for a little while before going home, but changed my mind. Once I got going, I found Starbucks, then Sonic. A quad shot iced nonfat latte followed by a cheeseburger with jalapenos, some tater tots and a real Coke. I drove almost to LaGrange, and then had to pull over and sleep in the car for about an hour before I could make it the rest of the way home. I did not get to sleep until about 9pm, and I feel relatively good today. My legs are just a little sore, but here is the kicker… NO BLISTERS!!! The key to no blisters is changing into dry SmartWool socks about every 30 kilometers.

That is all.

Sealy 5k Jingle Bell Fun Run and Competitive Walk

Part 1 of my very busy day December 4, 2010.
I spent most of the day Friday marking the course. We had a meeting Friday night to make sure all the volunteers knew what they were supposed to do when directing the runners, so I felt confident that we would have no problems on the course. The past two years, folks had gotten lost because we did not have enough volunteers. The Sealy High School Choir Booster Club and the Choir students REALLY came through this year.

Up at 5:10 am… out to buy the bananas and off to the Hill Community Center to get the party started! The count shows we had about 60 people show up to sign up on race day for an estimated total of 115 participants. Wow, that’s about 30 more than last year! We may have started a few minutes late, but I tried to remember all the instructions (forgot to make one major statement… if you signed up to walk, make sure you walk every step because you will be disqualified if you run, and I had to disqualify one lady who ran across the finish line). Other than that one thing, everyone was perfect. I rode in the pace car to show the lead runners the course and also make sure my volunteers were in place. The winner, a 17 year young man, won the race in 18 minutes and change. It was a lot of fun watching the race from the front instead of from the back!

We got a lot of praises from race participants and I think the race will grow from this point forward. The 5th annual was a turning point for us. The Booster Club felt that if we could not get this right once and for all, we were going to give it up. I don’t know if we made a lot of money on it, and we could use a little more community support such as a large corporation to actually sponsor the run… $1,500.00 is a nice round number and would truthfully cover ALL the expenses, and then all the runners’ registration fees would stay with the club.

I will get the photos from Mrs. Kenner and post them up on my facebook page where anyone can see them, and copy past to get their finish line photo. When the event wrapped up and we had the party cleaned up, it was time for me to head out to Austin to start the 24 hour race I signed up for. The race director was kind enough to let me start late, just so I could get some experience walking all night… I will post the details about that one in the next blog post.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Running for the Bay Marathon, Apalachicola Florida

I drove over to a friend's house a few hours from the race site on Thursday. She and I headed out to Apalachicola Friday as we had hotel reservations for Friday and Saturday night. We were right on the beach and were looking forward to being beach bums after we finished the marathon.
The expo was small, not really an expo at all, with only one vendor and packet pickup. That's ok by me... no chances to spend tons of extra money like at the huge races. One thing that had been worrying me from the start is that the course map was not to scale, and did not show where the aid stations would be set up. That is when I decided to carry my hand held water bottle during the race. Good decision.
There was no organized pasta dinner, so we ate at one of the local joints, I don't remember the name. I chose to eat a chicken sandwich and a side of cheese grits, which by the way were very good. We headed back to the hotel after dinner to get our stuff ready and thankfully got to sleep pretty early. St. George Island is the halfway point of the marathon, so we had to drive over the race course back to the start in Apalachicola which was no problem at all. There was plenty of parking. Things were rather disorganized at the start. I heard an announcement that marathoners should start first followed by half marathoners, 10k runners with the 5k runners last. I don't really know what the actual start time was (supposed to start at 7am) the people in front of me started running, so I took off too. I am guessing around 7:02.
The first part of the race was ok, kind of crowded in the break down lane of the bridge, and strangely enough we were headed out with the traffic instead of against it.
Now for the REALLY strange stuff. All of the races started together, the 5k and 10k folks had to turn around on the bridge which was not closed to traffic, even at the start of the race. There was only a woman on a bicycle trying to stop cars and trucks... the runners and walkers had to risk life and limb, cross that bridge and head back toward the race finish again on the wrong side of the road. Wonder what the Race Director was thinking? So do hundreds of other people!
Water stations early in the race had no cups, several people reported aid station volunteers pouring water from 5gallon jugs into racers hands so they could hydrate. Since I regularly do ultras... I was prepared. Handheld water bottle, Endurolytes, and my own nutrition. There were people out there on those concrete bridges with temps in the 80's, of course there was no shade and the wind was really gusty from the southeast. These people who depend on having basic support from race organization and did not bring their own gels, etc, were just up a creek without any paddles. This goes back to the course map not showing the locations of the aid stations, or no info on what sort of sports drink would be provided. Well, there was no sports drink until some nice folks that were monitoring their friends and relatives took care of it. There was also NO medical aid station anywhere on the course.
I usually don't need medical aid at a race, but even a basic need like a bandaid for a blister was nowhere to be found. That is until a nice local heard me asking the race volunteers and course marshals if there was any medical aid because all I needed was a bandaid for a blister that had developed 8 miles ago. This nice man apparently went home and found some bandaids and looked for me on the course. If not for that kind individual, I would have had a REALLY bad day.
So, all adversities aside, Mellody catches up to me and gives me renewed energy and we take off at a blistering 14:00 pace. LOL as we crest the last part of the course, a steep cambered bridge, we see the finish line being dismantled down below. OK, I am training for a 100 mile race, I am not supposed to be fast, that is the main reason I chose this race for my Florida marathon. They bragged unceasingly about how ANYONE could do this marathon because it has an 8 hour time limit. They took up the timing mats at 6 hours, and when we saw them dismantling the finish line, it was about 6:15 into the race. If it were not for Kathy and her policewoman voice telling them that there were still several marathoners out there who had paid the entry and they also deserved to finish the race through the official finish line like everyone else, that would have been gone too. After she gave them what for... they at least put the clock and finish line arch back up. Let me tell you... we hung around there until the last finisher was in sight so they had to keep things going. Though someone was overheard saying she just wanted to go out in her truck and pick up the last finisher to get this thing over with. How's that for feeling like you are welcome in a race.
Most of the medals were broken, but the race director has already sent out emails promising replacements, so I will let that one go. Inaugural events always have problems, and no one is perfect, but I understand that the Race Director left before the event even wrapped up, or at least he was no where to be found. This guy is just lucky no one was killed on that bridge, or that no one died from heat exhaustion.
blah blah blah. After the race, we went and had some fun in the surf, lazed around on the beach and had a nice dinner! I am over this one, and know that the next race will be lots of fun, because they can't ruin this for me, I am having too much fun in my middle age!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seabrook Lucky Trails Challenge 3/20-21/2010

I left work Friday afternoon for the drive to my friend Susan’s home in Kemah, as she graciously offered me a room for the weekend so I would not have hotel expense for the weekend. She and her husband were awesome, and their home is about 5 minutes from the race start in Seabrook.

Half Marathon
We were warned that since this was a trail run, not to expect pr’s. I was hoping for a good race anyway as I have mainly been rehabilitating my knee since Rocky Raccoon. The weather was perfect and they even had fresh hot coffee at the start! I had to pick up my race materials early Saturday morning because I missed packet pickup Friday afternoon, so went with Susan at 5am because she was volunteering Saturday and running on Sunday. The packet included a pair of Balega socks, a cap, and a nice women’s specific tech shirt. The race bibs were awesome in that they are seeded. After you complete the race, you take the bib home, soak it in water and plant it. Flowers! Isn’t that a cool idea! After I got my stuff, I went to nap in Susan’s car until it was time for the race to start.

The race started on time and it was a preview of the marathon course. 2 loops for the half on Saturday, and 4 loops for the full on Sunday. We started on the road, then within about a half mile, we were on nice flat well maintained trails with crushed gravel surface. Gaiters came in handy! There was 2 way traffic on most of the trail, and also backtracked in a couple of places so we were never lonely out there. At one end, the view of the sun rising over the bay was fantastic. I was real surprised to see my first half split, and I was feeling pretty good with no knee pain, so I kept pushing. I started to crap out at about 9.5 miles because I simply had not done enough training so the second half of the half was a little slower than the first half, but I am happy to report a sub 3 hour half marathon at this point! Awesome aid stations, one of which was manned by girl scouts with cookies!

The finish line food was freshly grilled hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs with all the trimmings and choice of beverages. The volunteers were amazing, cheerful at all times! Even the officers directing traffic at several road crossings were great. The awesome thing was seeing the same folks both days!

Full Marathon
I had been planning all along to take the early start for this race, but a terrible storm blew through Saturday afternoon after the completion of the half. I set my alarm for 4am fully intending to start at 5:30 am. When the alarm went off… I listened to the wind gusting and decided to go back to sleep and start the race at 7:15 am with everyone else, because they promised to have the finish line open until 3pm. That’s when I had the nightmare about missing the race. I dreamed I was back home in Sealy and it was 7:30 am and all I could think of was not getting my 3 medals for 2 races. When the alarm went off the second time and I realized where I was, man was I relieved! I got my gear together and drove over to the race start, picked up my chip, drank some coffee and readied myself for the start. Thankfully, it was 41 degrees instead of the 35 that had been predicted. The winds, however, were just as bad as the weather person warned.

Susan had an extra throw away tyvek jacket and I used it! I would have never been able to do the race without it because truthfully, I am a weenie when it comes to being too cold. I would much rather race in warmer weather. I can’t wait to see the full marathon photos because I am sure I looked like a huge balloon with that white jacket constantly full of air from the gusting winds. LOL In one or two places, I felt like I was really struggling against the wind and going nowhere fast.

All day, I was really disgusted with myself for not getting up early enough to do the 5:30 am start. I apologized to the volunteers numerous times about being so slow. Anyway, about ½ way into the 3rd loop, I caught up with a lady who had a pretty good walking pace… and she and I started talking and walking together. She is fairly new to marathon running and was having a real hard time, in fact, she had been thinking about dropping out during the first loop. Well, we were pretty suited to each other and dragged each other through that last 9 or so miles. We started asking the guys with the radios if we were last. Then we started kidding each other about wanting to finish last. It was really funny until we were relieved to find out that we were not last… there were 2 people behind us.

We had about 3 miles to go when we passed one guy… then we passed 3 people, one of whom was doing her first full marathon… then we passed someone else… so we were not far from last, but still not last.

They gave us our marathon medal and then said, wait… you still have another medal! It was fantastic! I got my chicken sandwich at the finish, mixed up my recovery drink (2 scoops of Hammer Whey with about 6oz of 100 % juice) then walked back to the finish line to see the last person finish. What a great way to spend the weekend.

I would highly recommend this race to anyone who needs to add Texas to their list of states! The volunteers were some of the most cheerful, helpful people I have ever seen at a race.


Monday, March 1, 2010


Sunday, Feb 28
4.1 miles; 1:05:55.53; HR: Avg 150 / Max: 173
decided to take it easy starting back into these track workouts, and good thing I didn't plan to push it too hard. my right knee is still talking to me. So, I stretched really well after 2 miles total and then again at the end, and everything seems ok. It is going to take a lot of patience for me to regain the strength I have lost in the last month of recovery.
Racewalk most of mile 1 followed by:
Bleachers (run up, walk down) 14
2 x 100 meter run sprints
100 meter each: side step R; side step L; crossover R; crossover L; quick steps, run backwards.
I walked all the curves between the drills and enough to cool down completely.

hmmm I think I remember someone telling me it wasn't a great idea to drink several cups of strong coffee right before a track workout... I MUST keep that in mind...

Monday, March 1
started out slow as planned. stretched at 2 miles. got into a pretty good rythm at 4 miles, then fartleked around for the next 5 miles... I was at the little league park where part of the path is paved and part is crushed iron ore. I racewalked pretty fast on the paved sections and either fitness walked or slow racewalked on the gravel sections. At mile 9, there came a Texas downpour so I walked the mile home, left my electronic gadgets and walked the 1 mile pre-measured path to the track and back to finish my the distance.

My kid called me when it started pouring and asked me if I wanted a ride. I said, no... what if this was a race? He just told me I am crazy (a well established fact).

12.11 miles; 2:51:45.5; 14:11 average pace
Heart Rate: Average: 137 / Max: 178

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, Feb 22

YES!!! I was wondering if I would be able to walk the whole 10 miles I had planned for today. I stuck with the plan and set out to walk the whole 10 miles very slowly, keeping my HR below 70% of max for the whole walk. I was not concerned with speed except for mile #8. A lovely younger woman ran toward me on the path and as I greeted her, she appeared to give me a condescending glance as if to say: "Why are you greeting me, a runner, when you are a mere walker?".

Some day I will learn to just look the other way and stick with my plan, but today was not the day. Earlier today I had almost gotten into a car accident with some dolt who insisted on turning left from the lane that clearly had an arrow pointing straight ahead, so I was not going to let this runner girl think I was a simple fitness walker, no, not me. So, I kicked it into slow racewalking gear and did that mile in 13:27. Then I thought better and slowed back down to the stroll I was doing earlier.

Anyway, I wonder if "runner girl" has ever run a marathon, or 50k, or 50 miles, or 72.22 miles. If she has, well, more power to her. But to hazard a guess, I'll bet she runs a measly 3 or 4 miles a day to stay in shape, cause if she was an ULTRA runner, she probably would have greeted me just like any other person she saw on the path. So, I am thinking of getting one of those pink shirts that say "26.2 is for sissies" or one of those other shirts I saw that says "Harden the Fuck Up". My point is, I greet everyone I meet on the paths equally... whether they are a 3 mile a day walker, runner, or run 100's or Badwater. We all have our reasons to do what we do, and thank goodness we have our @$$e$ off the couch!

Anyhow... 10.14 miles; 14:49 average pace; 68% average HR.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

stuff and some junk

so, since the Rocky Raccoon trail race, I have gained a few pounds. Maybe I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, maybe I was just plain old tired. I ate a lot of junk food and did little else. You all know how it goes... I was exercising the hand to mouth.

Now, it's time to get back into the routine of REAL LIFE and race training. Eating real food... walking, stretching, yoga, cycling, strength training. I'm ready.

I have gone for a couple of short walks since Rocky...
Wednesday, Feb 17 - 3 miles (mile 1 in my new Vibram KSO's)
Friday, Feb 19 - 3.92 miles in trail shoes on the gravel path at the little league park
Sunday, Feb 21 - 5.9 miles (1st 2 miles in Vibrams) most of the walk at the high school track. 2 miles in... I stopped and stretched very well before changing shoes and continuing the walk. I also stretched again when I got home.

Notes on Hammer Nutrition: I have been trying to come up with a more tasty way to have my whey... yes, pun intended. Today, I mixed in a shaker: 1 scoop Hammer Vanilla Whey powder, 1 4oz container of non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, 1/2 serving of Hammer Raspberry gel, and about 3oz of apple cranberry juice. Shake well with one ice cube... Drinkable. Just an awful lot of calories. I guess I am going to have to cut something out during the day... maybe it will be the Oreo cookies. LOL

Monday, February 15, 2010

comment moderation

sorry about the comment moderation... but spammers were posting comments to some of my blog posts, and if there is going to be any advertising done via my blog, I am going to do it myself! ;-)

After the Rocky Raccoon 100/50 Mile Trail Race

I loaded my gear in the car and drove back to the Comfort Suites to wash the trail smell off. Hilde and her friend Dorrie were posting pictures of Hilde’s blood blistered big toe on Facebook when I got there. We talked for a few minutes and they left me so I could have the room to myself as long as I needed it. It really felt great to get in the shower and let the cold water run on my legs for a while. I chose not to take an ice bath, because I had stopped walking hours before. I think the ice bath works better for me if I do it within an hour of stopping.

After the shower, I called Hilde and she and I went to the after race breakfast buffet and award presentation. We also had to remember to pick up Hilde’s drop bag. Joni (not from CA, from MD) had also asked us to pick hers up since she would not be going to the breakfast. The catered buffet meal did not disappoint! The fare included: scrambled eggs, seasoned hash browns, crisp bacon, sausage links, biscuits, pancakes, warm syrup, gravy, fresh fruit, sweet rolls, orange juice, apple juice and coffee. I ate a little of everything! There were lots of firsts and an extreme example in the award presentation… the oldest 100 mile finisher was 78! Oh, btw, I had forgotten my cell phone at the Dam Road aid station. One of the volunteers saw me and let me know that the aid station captain, Lynnor, would bring it to the breakfast. I am sure that when the phone rang and Lynnor answered it: “Maryann’s phone”, that Mellody was really shocked. Anyhow, when he gave me back my cell, he commented that I smelled a lot better after my shower. LOL

We finished eating and headed back to the hotel so I could sleep for a couple of hours. I was very restless and really only slept for about an hour before getting up and trying to organize the post race mess I had created. We made a pot of Q50 dark roast coffee and chatted about the race and the trail conditions. We were discussing going out for dinner, then chose to just stay in. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my usual choice for a quick easy meal) followed by an orange for dessert. We were really planning to eat heartily at the hotel breakfast buffet before heading to the airport in the morning. I was having a really hard time focusing on the task of packing my things for the morning drive. I wandered back and forth for a while, first working on packing one bag, and then the other… It seemed that I was just going in circles. Finally I sat down again and thought about what I was trying to accomplish. Hilde was laughing at me and when I finally sat on the floor to stuff the smelly clothes from the race in my bag, she commented that’s what she had been waiting for… to watch me roll them up into a neat little stinky package. I said to heck with that and unceremoniously crammed them into the small overnight bag so they would not stink up the rest of my gear.

We set the alarm for 6:30 and woke up hungry! Hilde had prepared me for the nice breakfast buffet at the hotel. They served fresh made Texas waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, pastries, juice, coffee and an assortment of other goodies including fresh fruit and yogurt. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, so I ate everything but the yogurt! We packed up the car and headed out. The big joke between Hilde and I… she kept asking me if I wanted to walk down the stairs or take the elevator. HA HA!!! While we were on our way to the airport, Hilde’s husband called her to say her flight had been cancelled. Wow, I really hated to leave her at the airport, but she assured me she would be fine. She called me later to say that she had been able to catch a flight home later that afternoon, so was not stranded at the airport for longer than a few hours.

I really had a great time with Hilde! Funny how you can meet someone online and since you have mostly the same interests, get along just like old friends! Another online friend, Sherry, introduced us, online. Maybe someday I will actually meet Sherry in person, too.

Post Script:

Now that I have had a week to think this over while rehabilitating and icing this knee and foot; it seems as if I have come to another crossroads. I started this distance walking journey with a marathon. Marathon became easy, so I graduated to 50k. I love the 50k distance, so I tried 50 miles. The next milestone is usually 100k, but I passed that with this last attempt to walk 100 miles when I dropped out of the race at 72.22 miles.

My long term goal is still to become a US Centurion. I am going to borrow the definition from Ulli Kamm:
Rules for Centurion in the US are
- USATF certified course (or other official certification)
- Racewalk judge(s) present, enforcing rules
- Walking in "competition" = more than 1 walker going for the 100 miles
- Event announced as a Centurion event
- Separate Centurion division in case it's part of a running event
- 100 mile point marked/certified in case it's on a loop course
Of course it is more than just the walk… Centurion is a state of mind.

So, to that end, I think I may be done with trail racing for a while. I am organizing my thoughts during this down time and will put together a new training schedule that will make me a stronger racewalker. I plan to have my one of my kids go to the track with me after a couple of weeks of training to video me from the front, sides and back while racewalking and work on what needs working on. As usual, I am sure it will be the push off from the rear and that will take a lot of work to improve. I will need to do lots of drills in addition to walking many miles in training. Improving flexibility is also important.

I know I have the endurance and mental capacity to complete 100 miles, because I was still feeling great mentally and physically, save the knee, at the end of 72 miles. Since a Centurion walk is typically held on a flat looped course, there is no need to hurt myself on hilly, tree root infested trails. I am, however torn up about making this choice because I really love being out on the trails!

Ok, enough.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

During the Rocky Raccoon 100/50 Mile Trail Race

I ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread and a banana and drank several cups of coffee. Hilde and I met Joni in the lobby and we headed out to the park. It was a beautiful clear morning, and not as cold as the weather people had predicted. So, I only needed the one pair of tights, my two long sleeve shirts and a light jacket.We checked in at the start and as we were waiting in line, we were talking to a guy named Paul who had flown in from Florida and had no support crew like Hilde and I. He set up his gear near my chair and used it as a pit stop along with Hilde and I. The funny thing… it turns out that he would be taking Steven back to the airport after the race. Now, what are the odds that I would offer a stranger a ride from the airport, and out of 700+ race entrants, the stranger that offered him a ride back would be the guy in line with us at the pre-race check in? Joe gave a few pre-race instructions and we were off to a good start! It was dark at 6am so we were out either with our headlamps or hand held flashlights. Even in the early morning dark, and all day… I was getting comments on my polka dot tights. Running Funky rocks!!!

20 mile loop #1 completed in 5:10:13, yes, that was a lot faster than I trained for. Aren’t we supposed to be a little faster during a race? Anyway, I did not waste any time at any of the aid stations which was my plan from the beginning. I was carrying enough water, Perpetuem, Hammer gel and Clif bar to get me through the loop with minimal aid station stops. My right knee started hurting at about mile 17 or 18. I was hoping that this would not happen so early in the race, but we take what we get on race day. It only hurt when I walked down hill, so I planned to gut it out for as long as I could before the leg actually started to lock up. I only took 5 minutes in the start/finish area to ready myself for the second loop and I was off with 45 minutes in the bank for the night hours on the course.

20 mile loop #2 completed in 5:30, this was my training pace and just right, even with the pain in my knee. I must have been about 6 miles into this second loop, or at about marathon distance when I figured out a way to get down the hills without knee pain. I simply turned my right foot outward at 90 degree angle when I walked down hill. The Hammer plan was working beautifully! Every two miles I would take one ounce of pre-mixed Perpertuem, and then the next two miles I took a slug from the Hammer gel flask. I was drinking plain water, and taking an endurolyte when I noticed my fingers swelling. I also had the aid station volunteers put Heed in one of my water bottles, just in case. And speaking of Hammer, I saw Amanda McIntosh working the Nature Center aid station through at least the first two of my loops! The only thing I picked up to eat at the aid stations was an orange slice or a piece of banana. I cruised into the start finish area at 10:42:03, cleaned my feet, changed my socks and shoes, and headed back out right at 11:00:00, now with a whole hour in the bank for the night hours.

20 mile loop #3 completed in 6:06:39, a lot slower than the last loop. The pain in my knee was getting worse, and was beginning to migrate to other places… the right groin, top of right foot, lower back… but I was still determined to walk this 100 mile race. As long as I could still move, I was going to continue. A couple of people offered me ibuprophen, aleve, etc. I politely refused. Those of you who know me well also know I don’t take anything for pain before or during an event. I may take it after to help with the inflammation, but only do so if absolutely necessary. My nutrition/hydration plan was still working well, but I was getting hungry. I ate one of mom’s fig cookies (AWESOME), and asked for hot coffee and a spoonful of plain peanut butter a couple of times at aid stations. The peanut butter on a spoon was a great idea and really hit the spot. Things began to get interesting on this third loop because it got dark at about 5 miles in. So, I was out there mostly by myself in the woods in the dark for about 15 miles. I stopped at Dam Road and got a clean pair of socks out of my drop bag because I didn’t have my gloves and it seems like it was in the high 30’s at this point. There was one other walker who traded places with me several times during the first 3 loops, and we had conversation for a while. It kind of takes the mind off of what you are going through when there is someone out there to trade stories with. When I walked in to the start/finish area, Kate was waiting for me. She refilled my water bottles while I put my thermal camouflage tights on over my polka dot tights put on two warmer long sleeve shirts and a light jacket and found my gloves. As soon as I put on those camouflage tights, I became invisible on the course… the folks at the Dam Road who had been razzing me all day about seeing spots didn’t recognize me until I showed them my dotted tights under my thermals. LOL Anyhow, Kate and I discussed my knee problem and I told her under the circumstances I knew at that point I would not be able to finish this 4th loop in 7 hours. I was simply hurting too badly and did not want to do any permanent damage. I called Richard, my 5th loop pacer and told him I knew I would not make the time cutoff to start loop #5, but I was still planning at that time to limp the miles from 60 to 80, and Kate was there to back me up. We took off for the 4th loop after I threw my watch in my drop bag.

20 Mile loop #4 would prove to be very interesting. It was getting colder and the first part of the 20 mile loop goes right down to the lake shore. The frogs seemed to be laughing at us in the dark… I mean, the frogs really sounded just like humans laughing. It was the strangest thing I have ever heard. We would go a few yards down the trail and wait for it… wait for it… there, they are REALLY laughing at us.

I was still in full control of my mental state, but at that point began to wonder. Kate and I were cracking up! We heard others commenting about the laughing frogs as they passed us, so we knew it wasn’t only us. On down the trail we go, and I commented how it was really funny that I had not fallen all day even though I had tripped really hard a few times. Next thing I knew, I was face down in the dirt. Kate offered me her hand and I told her just a second, let me make sure everything is still in tact. I got up and we kept going. I was getting progressively slower and apologized to Kate a couple of times, because I don’t want to be that sissy on the trail pissing and moaning about how this hurts and that hurts. The only time I would wince in pain was when I would hit the outer side of my right heel on a root. I always get a blood blister there after walking a lot of miles. It didn’t hurt at all as long as I didn’t bump it. That was my only blister… Smart Wool rocks!!! I didn’t do anything to my feet… no Body Glide, no taping or anything else and no blisters save that one that is most certainly caused by the insole of my Adidas Trail shoes, and only on the right foot. I still did not have any stomach issues, and knew when I needed to drink some Perpetuem and when to take some gel. We met Melanie, the 50 mile winner working the Nature Center aid station. I was so impressed to see her out there volunteering after winning her race earlier that day! We headed out to our first pass through Dam Road and the mud seemed to be multiplying on the trail. I know for sure there were more bogs than the last time I passed through. I ate some leftover lasagna (just what I needed at the moment) and Kate and I headed out for the 10k loop that would take us back to Dam Road for the second time. We were still having fun, but I was getting slower and finding it more and more difficult to bend my right leg. The more stiff legged I became, the more the rest of my body started to hurt. Top of right foot, right groin, right hip, lower back, etc. and the right knee would just not bend any more. Kate asked if I wanted her to push me to get to 80 miles and I told her I was finished.

The Dam Road volunteers thought otherwise. I still looked great… was having NO stomach issues, and was not too cold. I just could not move my right leg any more. The volunteers told me I would just have to sit and wait for them to break down the aid station to get a ride back to the start/finish if I didn’t just get moving and walk to the next stop 3.4 miles ahead. When they realized I was on my 4th loop and not my 5th, and it was already 4am, they relented and I sat in a chair, waiting for a ride. There were others there who were in worse shape than I was, so as rides materialized, I waited. Another injured runner and I were finally taken out with the trash run at about 9am. It was the perfect end to the race, being hauled out from the Dam Road aid station with the garbage. So, there it is… 72.22 miles, though the official results show 60 miles. They were not recording actual splits at each aid station, and I know where I was when I threw in the proverbial towel. I turned in my timing chip and race bib to let the race officials know I was out of the race. It was a real challenge gathering up my drop bag and chair and carrying it to the car. As I was limping through the wooded area close to the finish, there were a couple of folks looking about as bad as I did and they offered me a hand stepping down off that 16” high curb! I saw lots of folks walking like Frankenstein that day!

still to be continued...

Before the Rocky Raccoon 100/50 Mile Trail Race

I guess it’s finally time for me to put my thoughts about this race into words. This will be a 3 part blog… before the race, during the race and after the race.

The weekend before the race, Raymond and I went shopping. I needed a few new pair of Smart Wool socks and had been looking everywhere for a stuffed raccoon. I finally found the stuffed raccoon at Bass Pro Shops, and the Smart Wool socks at Sun and Ski Sports. The raccoon is a really cute fluffy stuffed toy, and in order to psyche myself up for the race, I fashioned a real hangmen’s noose and proceeded to kill the raccoon.

I headed out Friday to pick up my new friend Hilde at the airport. We had been corresponding online and via Facebook for quite some time and I was really excited to meet her! I was waiting for her at baggage claim. We gathered her things and went to have coffee and a little something to eat at Starbucks. After the coffee, we went back to the cell phone lot at the airport to wait for Steven. The funniest thing was that he and one of the people who had volunteered to pace me, Kate, knew each other from online ultrarunning groups; it was a strange coincidence. Speaking of Kate, she and I met up at Huntsville 2 weeks before race date to walk the 20 mile loop together. Kate is a really strong runner, so I was wondering how suited we would be for each other… but we hit it off and she said she really wanted to spend some time out on the trails after dark.

With Steven’s gear in the rocket ship, which I washed and hand dried for the occasion, we headed north to Huntsville on I-45. There is a sign along a stretch of I-45 to let drivers beware… there are more fatal accidents on this highway than any other in the area. As a matter of fact, when driving home from the Sunmart race in Huntsville, December of 2008, I saw what looked like two fatality accidents between Huntsville and Conroe, a distance of only about 30 miles.

We made it safely to Huntsville, I dropped Steven off at his hotel and Hilde and I headed to ours. She wanted to make sure we were comfortable while in the hotel so she made reservations at the Comfort Suites, and we were not disappointed! Very nice accommodations, with a full breakfast buffet, not just continental style. We began to organize our gear and get ready to go to the race briefing and pasta dinner at the Walker County Storm Shelter. It was really a shock to see 700+ participants in the 100 and 50 mile races this year, when there were a total of 439 last year between both races. I think everyone was really worried about congestion on the trails. We listened to the pre-race briefing, had the trail markings and timing system explained to us, and then lined up for the dinner. The new caterer for the event did not disappoint! The pasta was nicely seasoned and there was a meat sauce as well as a vegetarian sauce, salad, garlic bread, and either German chocolate cake or fruit cobbler for dessert. Everything was very tasty!

I was able to meet up with Richard, who had offered to pace me from 80 to 100, provided I made it that far. The second strange coincidence was that Richard is originally from the same area near Akron Ohio as I am. I met several other folks, including Debora and Debbie from the DFW area. I also introduced myself to Joe, the race director. He and Joyce, his wife, along with all the volunteers and running groups who volunteer their time and running expertise to put this race on… they are all awesome in my book! They say they do it for us… but we keep racing because of them!

We headed back to the hotel to make sure our gear was all ready for the race in the morning; including mixing all my Perpetuem so I didn’t have to mix it during the race, and filling my flasks with Hammer gel.

I went downstairs to get some ice for my little drop bag cooler, and met another Rocky Runner, Joni from California. We talked for a few minutes, and planned to meet in the hotel lobby in the morning. We went to bed really early. We both had our reasons for getting up really early - 2:30 or 3:00 am. My Hammer nutrition plan dictates that I eat breakfast 3 hours before the start of my race.

to be continued...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Update

Hi there folks out in blog land. Sorry I have been a real slacker in the blog department.
The workouts and training for races have all gone according to plan. Looks like the last thing I wrote about was the Rocky Raccoon 50k trail race.

The next thing on the calendar after Rocky was the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon on November 15, 2009. I had a fantastic time in San Antonio, even though it was such a huge race. Total participants in the half and full marathon together exceeded 35,000. Isn't that amazing! When the half and full split off, from each other, the race got interesting. It was a lot hotter than expected, but I was not looking for a pr as I was still in training for the Big Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in February. I had the good fortune to meet a couple of my online training friends! Both extremely nice and supportive of my efforts leading up to a 100 mile walk at some point in the near future!

Anyway, total miles walked in November were 110.6, 57.2 miles of that total were races, the balance: training.

December was kind of a slack training month for me. I only walked 51.9 miles... and that it usually the way this works for me. Every other month is usually a fall back month.
Next race: The Texas Marathon on Jan 1, put on by Steve and Paula Boone of the 50 States Marathon Club. This was an awesome race! It was pretty chilly in the morning, and I drove over to Kingwood on race day. I had to leave home at about 3:30 in the morning, but that's ok. My new Hammer Nutrition fueling program dictates that I eat breakfast at least 3 hours before my race starts, so the timing was right on. I wore my Adidas Adizero RC racing flats, which are VERY light and I was wondering how my feet would feel at the end of 26.2 miles on concrete. The truth is... my feet never hurt, and I walked my first sub 6 hour marathon in almost a year! (5:59:19) yes... that's sub 6! LOL. The great thing about this race is that it is a looped course. You do the loop twice for the half or 4 times for the full. We met each other coming and going, so the race never got boring. I met another of my online walking buddies who is also a Marathon Maniac just like me! I walked with her for most of the first half of the race, and it is due to her great walking speed that I was able to get a good fast marathon done as part of the training for Rocky! The medal they give out at the end of this race is so huge that they have to give it to you in a box because if they put it around your neck, you will simply fall over. It weighs a kilogram. And the post race food??? a pizza buffet to die for and lots of chocolate chip cookies and REAL Coca Cola!

So, the rest of the month of January was all the time I had to build mileage for Rocky Raccoon on Feb 6. I ended up with 154 miles walked for the month of January with one big back to back weekend... 20 miles on Sunday and 26 miles on Monday. Then taper, which for me is a complete stop to training except for the hand to mouth exercise. LOL
I guess that kind of brings things back up to date, and I will be putting my thoughts about the 100 mile attempt together in the next couple of days.

Maryann aka malvs2walk! and yes... I still love to walk!