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!