Archive | May, 2016

ct50 pre-race report

29 May

I can’t believe we are now less than a week away from CT50!  In one week, I will be hobbling around Treman campsite getting ready to pack up and head home.


The first time I was ever on trails in Ithaca, we were aid stationing for this race.  I think it was in 2012…I had just started to run on trails, and by trails I mean Seneca Park was my favorite place to run.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Seneca Park–but it’s flat, untechnical, and wide.  I think at the time I was probably training for a road marathon or something and I needed to run 10 miles or so.  I went with Eric, Ron and Mort to do the first 5 of the course.  I think after the first half mile, I was already cursing and throwing a fit, and by 2, Ron and Mort were gone.  I may have made it another mile or so…hiking…and then hiked back.  “Who the fuck runs that kind of shit?” I think I said something like that.


And that attitude continued for years.  It was a well-known fact around here that I despised running hills.  In fact, I refused to do it.  If there was a flat option, I’d take it instead.  If the hill was the only option, I’d walk it.  And bitch. The whole way up.  I don’t know why.  Looking back, it’s kind of embarrassing.  I’m not soft.  WTF was wrong with me?


I don’t know when the switch flipped.  I’d say probably sometime during training for Virgil last summer.  I realized that hills don’t kill me.  They make me stronger.  They make me feel like a badass.  And they give me a great ass and quads.  Win. Win. Win.


We’ve aid stationed every year of the race since that first time.  I’ve never really gone on the course…that first time scared me off I guess…Last year, I went out to run part of it again.  And I couldn’t believe how breathtakingly beautiful everything was.  I kept stopping to take pictures, to take it all in, to enjoy.  Enjoy.  Hiking up the stairs next to Buttermilk Falls, I was enjoying myself.  Huh?


Now…I’m not going to lie and say I like hills.  There are people who I think genuinely love to climb and run up steep shit.  I am not one of them. Climbing is not fun to me.  It IS, however, a challenge.  And man do I love challenges.  I love looking back on them and saying “wow I was really strong and here’s how I can be stronger next time.”  I love thinking about the strategy of the challenge–what can I do to emphasize my strengths as a runner and minimize my weaknesses?  I love the focus that it takes, the getting from point a to point b in the quickest, most efficient way possible.


I am excited for next weekend.  I wish it were now (except for this godforsaken heat and humidity that needs to go away).  I’m ready for the work, the pain, the beauty in the suffering that all of us will share out there on the trails.  I’m ready to push my body, to see what my training allows me to do this time around.


There are things that I can reflect on and know that I did well this cycle (compared to my only other 50 mile training cycle):  I ran more miles, with more elevation gain, at a faster overall pace.  I trained specifically for this race by working stairs in–at White Lady’s Castle and at Letchworth–at the end of runs, in the middle of long runs, and when I didn’t want to do any more stairs.  I did more mid-week mid-distance running.  I felt stronger during most of it.

There are things that I wish I’d done better:  My diet wasn’t the best (I craved chicken wing dip and Oreo McFlurries this cycle), but it wasn’t the worst either.  I find it tough when running huge miles to a. get enough calories of the “right stuff” and b. feel like actually preparing the “right stuff” and c. actually want to eat the “right stuff” when you know that you can technically eat junk because you just burned 2000 calories on your run…I was ok, but there’s definitely a ton of room for improvement.


There are things that I am nervous about:  The weather has been ungodly hot and humid.  It’s supposed to break between now and next week.  I can’t control it either way, so I’m doing my best not to worry.  There will be a lot of other Rochester people out there.  This is a good thing in some ways–seeing familiar faces can be a big boost energy-wise.  But I can be a head case.  Why am I behind this person? Why I am in front of this person?  That person loves hills/is super experienced at ultras/is a better runner than me…I need to speed up/slow down/quit running all together.  I think I will be ok on race day–I have gotten much stronger mentally, and I know that a lot can change in a 50 mile race, even just in the course of a mile or two…


The things I need to do the rest of the week: Hydrate well.  Keep my nutrition on point.  Visualize feeling strong and in control out there all day Saturday.  Get an actual plan together for the race.  Focus on me and what I am doing on Saturday and not worry about others.  Follow my plan.  Stay in control.  Embrace the suck when it happens.  Love what I’m doing.  Love my body for allowing me to do it.  Love my husband for being there to crew for me, to support me through all the training, to be my coach and voice of reason during training and during the actual race.


As with many of my “great” plans for races, it started with a “who the f would do that?” changed to  “I wonder how it would feel to do that or how fast I could do that…” and it’s going to end with an epic adventure next weekend!!!


The Coolest Thing I’ve EVER Seen on a Trail!!

14 May

This morning was my final SUPER long run before I take on Cayuga Trails 50 Miler.  I had a tough week of training–30 miles between Tuesday and Thursday, all of them either speedy (for me) or hill repeats.  The goal was to go into today tired and sore.  Mission accomplished.  Today’s run was supposed to be hard–I planned to do 10 miles with Eric/Ron, then do a mile of stair repeats (White Lady’s Castle/Deck of Cards…a mile is roughly 6-7 repeats, which is about 300-400 stairs.  I always lose count haha.)  Then another 10ish miles.  Then the final miles (whatever was left to make a marathon) were going to be Snake Hill repeats.  Intimidating, but doable.  Potentially.  Except that last weekend I felt like crap most of my long run, and while I got it done, it didn’t inspire much confidence.  So I didn’t know what to really expect…


The first miles with the guys were uneventful.  We chatted, saw a giant woodpecker, and Eric and I climbed White Lady’s Castle a bunch of times (10–5 up and then 5 down, although to be fair either direction you’re going up and down some stairs).  I headed back out for more miles and was just cruising along, not really paying too much attention to time, plotting my next moves.  All of a sudden, I was cresting a hill and I heard this really weird noise. It was like a baby crying, but just one short burst, then nothing, then another short burst.  Then I thought it sounded kind of like a muffled air horn or something.  I was trying to think of where a family could be hiking, realizing there is no trail where the noise was coming from, when I hit the top of the hill and came across…..


A BRAND NEW BABY DEER!!  I mean, the thing could barely even walk.  It still had the gangly legs and was struggling to climb over downed trees (and just walk in general), bleating at its momma the whole way.  I can’t imagine it was more than a day or two old…if that.  Mom was staring me down and waiting for baby, but obviously nervous and trying to get them away from me.  I stopped dead in my tracks, watched for a bit and then realized I should try to video it!

Watch it!!!

It was seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  I was so close to them…maybe 15 feet away at one point!  The fawn was the cutest thing EVER–maybe we should get one of those instead of a goat???  But seriously.  Awesome!  I stood there and watched for a LONG time…I couldn’t stop it was just so cool!


The rest of the run was also uneventful.  I saw some more animals (a red squirrel, a turtle trying to sun itself, and alot of dogs, most friendly but one that was NOT at all), some people (but not many because it was kind of overcast and rainy), I ran some, I hiked some.  It drizzled on me for the last hour or so, which is when I did Snake Hill repeats.  They felt like shit after about 6 of them, and I contemplated quitting and just running trail again, but then I decided to finish what I started and banged out 4 or 5 more (lost count again).  I’m glad I did what I said I would.  We drove down to the lake and I stood in the lake for 5 minutes or so to ice my legs, which felt really amazing.  So that’s that.  The hay is in the barn.  Tonight we will go for a little hike–tomorrow I will try a short run/hike.  Next week I start my taper.  So glad I was in the right place in the right time to see that little baby and mom!



how training for a 50 miler got me through Mother’s Day

10 May

Running.  Life.  Running as a metaphor for life….


I’ve been running so many miles for the past year…I’ve never run like this before.  Even when I was training for road marathons, I was lucky to hit 25 mile weeks…which to a non-runner may sound like a lot, but to a runner, particularly a marathoner, 25 mile weeks are not much (which may have something to do with my mediocre performances haha).  Let’s just say that I wasn’t very committed to my running, but I have discovered that training…real training…ya know, with big miles and bigger hills and shit…actually makes you feel very accomplished and is even kind of enjoyable.  So I’ve pretty much doubled my mileage within the past year.  And while 25 mile weeks aren’t much, 40-50+ mile weeks are a lot, especially when you’re not a super fast runner…like me. 🙂


At first, the extra miles were hard.  Everything hurt, walking after a big week was tough…but then you adjust to “the new normal.”  It’s not that things stop hurting, really.  You just get used to the soreness and fatigue.  And that’s the whole point of training I suppose (well maybe not the WHOLE point…but the major point of ultra training).  To teach your body to suck it up buttercup.  You can do more than your stupid brain thinks.  I don’t think you get that much stronger physically (although there’s certainly an element of that) as it is that you get stronger mentally.  You learn that you can go farther and faster…


I was thinking about this today as I went to get a sports massage (Eric forced me–the idea of massage kind of weirds me out, but I know it’s good for me, and Josh is fantastic).  Josh asked what I wanted him to work on and I said that nothing really hurts, but then through further talk I realized that things hurt.  Kind of.  But it’s tolerable.  In fact, most days I hardly notice it any more.  But if I really stop to check in, or if I touch a muscle in just the right way, I can feel that now-familiar ache of running big mileage weeks chock full of big climbing.  Hurts so good.


So how do all those miles help get me through the worst day of the year?  Mother’s Day may well be my least favorite day of the year.  For 6 years I’ve put on a happy face and dealt with feeling like a complete asshole for wanting nothing more than to stay home in bed and have a pity party for myself.  Man nothing makes you feel shittier than feeling shitty about feeling shitty–what a cycle.  Mind fuck central.


So I apprehensively woke up Sunday to go to Buffalo to “celebrate.”  But somehow this year was easier.  It’s not that it didn’t hurt.  It did.  But I only cried twice all day–once when my sister tagged me in a nice FB note and once when we watched “The Best of Me” before bed.  I cried a lot during the movie–but if you’ve seen it (or read any Nicholas Sparks’ novel), then you know that’s kind of the whole point.   The parts of the movie that made me cry most were the ones where parental relationships were portrayed.  Shocking.  Should’ve just stuck to the X Files (man that show is disturbing!!)


This lack of tears is strange because in years past, I would’ve had to step into the bathroom numerous times to compose myself during the course of Mother’s Day.  Sweet messages from friends who know how hard this day is for me (because every year I get messages…and thank you so much to those of you who send said messages!) normally make me cry–this year I just read and responded and was happy knowing that people “got it”–that they saw me for what I am (the sad person on what is supposed to be a happy day) and loved me anyway.  I would have likely cried in the car on the way home–a sweet release of all the pent-up feelings that I’d had to hide away all day long.


Somehow this year, though, just like the ache of muscles that you can mostly ignore, Mother’s Day came and went.  The ache was there, but it wasn’t as acute as it has always been.  Maybe this is because we are not currently pursuing any treatments (which means less stress from the when-will-it-happen-if-ever and also less hormones raging).  Maybe this is because we didn’t see my little siblings, so it was just grown-ups all day (although even my littlest siblings are getting to be quite the grown-ups themselves…).  Or maybe this is because I am finally “acclimating” to our situation.  I’m not sure how I feel about that last one…I don’t like thinking that this is what it will always be like, this numbness and acceptance of a situation you hate, although after 6 years of it being this way, it’s also hard to imagine anything different.


What I do know is that running has taught me so much about myself–particularly about how to get through tough mental moments. And yesterday even though things were hurting and my brain was asking for some down time, we kept pushing forward…relentless forward progress.  And I made it through with only some slightly ache-y feelings.  If you want to get tougher mentally, I’m telling you training for an ultramarathon will get you there.




one month

5 May



We are one month from Cayuga Trails 50 Mile Race.  How is that possible???  Where did the time go???


I have been hammering out miles very consistently.  I have had very few aches and pains.  Mostly I’ve just been really tired and really hungry, which is normal and to be expected.  So I have 2 more weeks to knock out (well 1.5 now!) and then a couple weeks of tapering, and then it’s go-time.  In the next month, I have a few things that I want to focus on.


  1.  Foam rolling and core work.  I was doing really well with the core/strength training business, then I kind of let it slip for the past couple of weeks.  I need to get back on it–this past weekend during the marathon fun run, my hip flexors started to really get sore, and all I kept thinking was how it was my own fault for not staying on my strength training and not regularly foam rolling.  So for the next month, foam rolling and core work needs to happen on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays–nothing major, but 15-30 minutes a night should help a ton.

2.  Cutting way back on liquid calories.  This is hard–nothing tastes as good as an ice cold beer after a really tough workout or long run.  But I don’t need to carry around any extra weight on race day, so for now we’re going to limit the beers to just when we are at Windjammers/out.  This should also help a bit with my recovery during the next 2 weeks of big mileage.  And of course I suppose there’s that whole hydration thing…


There is always something a little sad about finishing up a training plan…a “what’s next” kind of feeling.  I’ve already started thinking about that, and I have a few things on my mind:

  1.  A summer of running adventures and fat ass races, including (but not limited to): a Chair Hill 50k (that’d be a lotta vert), Mendon -50k, Many on the Genny (because sadly I won’t be able to race it!)…
  2. A possible 100k attempt.  I have been eyeing up 2 different races for a couple of months now…Boulderfield 100k (which is put on by the people who also do Dirty German) and Conquer the Castle 100k.  I found CtC scrolling through a list of 100ks looking for cool names (which is one of the best ways to pick races hahaha).  They both look like cool events, and I’m torn between which (if any or if both) I would want to do…
  3. Alternately, I could train and race a 50k hard…with the base I have built up and the training I know I could do over the summer, I’d think I could lay down some awesome times on a not-too-hilly 50k course.
  4. OR…I could just go whole hog and try a 100 miler.  I think it’s probably smarter to do a 100k or a few more 50+ races to get my feet under me or whatever.  But there’s a small portion of me that says go big or go home.

So those are the options moving forward.  Thoughts on which would be best???  I’m not making decisions until after CT50…let’s see how I handle another 50 miler..and also have the crazy runner’s high going on to help me pull the trigger on some cool shit for the fall!