Archive | March, 2018

MFAMTL–a race recap?

25 Mar

Pretty sure I haven’t written a race recap in over a year. Because I haven’t raced in that long.  Or even really ran all that much.  There are various reasons for that–I had a stress fracture last spring/summer, Eric’s been recovering from surgeries and running without him is just not as fun, this summer was too hot and humid…these are all excuses, of course.  I think a part of it is likely just that I was burned out.  The last time I was putting in big miles, I was training for my year of ultras.  And honestly I think it was just too much. While the break was probably good for me mentally, this fall I decided it was time to get back to a training plan, albeit some shorter races, so that I could focus on getting faster and stronger and not make running a part time job again (training for an ultra is, as Liz says, a total time suck).

 

This past fall, I was hoping to run well at MFAMTL 8 Hour, but I ended up super sick.  I pushed myself to 22 miles and spent the rest of that day and the next on the couch, hacking up pieces of my lungs and burning up with a fever. I actually don’t remember much from that day–at one point, I took some DayQuil with a beer (smart? nope.) and staggered my way around the course. It was a mess, and I was really bummed things didn’t go well for me…

 

So I was determined to run well at the spring version yesterday.  I intentionally didn’t look back at my training leading up, because I knew that the reality is that I haven’t done too many double-digit mileage runs in the past year. While training has been going well this winter/spring, my long runs have been stalling out around 12 miles–I get to that point and then decide that I’m too tired or too hungry or too sore to continue.  The good news is that I’ve been running a lot more mid-distance runs (8ish miles) during the week, and there’s been some speedwork happening (in addition to the usual Tuesday night hill work). I’ve been consistently putting in 30ish mile weeks, which is a solid base for sure.  But it’s nothing earth shattering, and those “short” long runs were a lingering doubt in my mind going into the race yesterday.

 

As the race started, I hooked in with Alison and we chatted a bit.  I thought maybe it was too fast…the 11-12 minute miles just kept ticking off.  The trails were in decent shape–one side was mostly in shade, so the trails were snow/ice covered. The other side was in brilliant, warm sunshine, and the trail was glorious dirt! We were running all the “hills” (there’s nothing major, but every mile had just under 100 ft, which is not negligible by any means).  The miles clicked by, and somewhere around 4, I realized that my splits were pretty even…and pretty fast for me if I was planning to run for 6 hours…but I made a decision.

 

I would just keep running this pace for as long as I could. My goal was to hold on thru mile 15.  I figured that would give me a decent idea of what kind of shape I was in for the Cayuga Trails Marathon, one of the only races I signed up for this year (the others being, of course, the MFAMTL series).  I decided to use this race to gauge my training thus far and decide how it should look moving forward.  I wasn’t so sure I could make it to 15 like this, but it was a solid goal, and if I managed it, that would leave me with 3 more hours at the end to run/hike my way thru 11 more miles to a marathon, which was my ultimate goal for the day.

 

The miles kept clicking by–a few times I had to stop to grab a fruit roll up or mix and refill my bottle with some Tailwind. Eric was out taking pictures for a lot of the day, and seeing him made me smile and push on. (All photos in this blog are from him!) I chatted with a bunch of people and eventually found myself running alone, which was perfectly fine.  Scott passed by me at one point and asked how I was doing.  I said something about hurting or suffering and he asked if I wanted company. I said nope I prefer to suffer alone, and he kept going.  I did, too.

I hit 10 miles in under 2 hours.

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I hit 15 in under 3.  I was right on target.  My splits were way even. I couldn’t believe it.

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At that point, we switched directions on the course, and I decided my goal was now to run each mile loop as close to under 2 as possible–at this point, I knew that anything could happen.  My longest long runs had been 12 miles.  15 was great. And I likely couldn’t expect too much more from my body…boy was I wrong.

 

I had thought this direction would be easier, but it started with a big(ish) climb, followed by a lot of flat, fast, then another climb, then some rollers, before a final road uphill. The climbs started to get really annoying–I power hiked them as much as I could.  The rest, though, was awesome–I felt like I was flying.  Every time I passed someone and we said our hellos, I felt stronger and stronger.  I started seeing the people I passed as some kind of video game energy boosters–pass, pick up the pace.  I just cruised along…and made it to mile 20 in under 4 hours! Still on pace for a 30 mile day! At this point, everything was really starting to hurt, especially my hips.  But people were dropping and I realized that maybe I could place if I just outlasted some people.  I had no idea where I was in the rat race–by this point I was running huge chunks on my own.  Just keep moving, just keep moving.

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Another hour in, another 5 miles.  Suddenly, as I came thru the loop, Eric mentioned that I was one loop behind the women’s leader.  Hustle up, he said. This is my hustle right now, I shot back. But I picked up my pace, and as I came around the corner, I saw Kimberly climbing the hill.  I caught up to her, then I passed her and took off thru the flat sections.  When I got to the next climb, I power hiked and kept watching for her–but when I got to the top, she was nowhere to be seen. I kept moving, but at some point in those next few miles, I realized I was going to run out of time to catch her again.  I was mildly disappointed by this, a little annoyed that I didn’t have enough juice left to push harder, but mostly ok with my performance.  I kept thinking about my lack of long runs and the fact that it was amazing to have come this far this fast…

 

I almost called it…I almost hiked the final 45 minutes…but when I found out Katie was right behind me, I knew I had to keep moving.  She is one of the strongest women I know, and I knew if I stopped running, she’d easily pass me.  I just had to hold on for another couple of loops, and I’d be fine. I’d come this far, I could suck it up for another 30 minutes.

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I came thru my final loop with 10 more minutes until cut off.  Eric wanted me to go back out, but I knew I wouldn’t run a 10 minute mile at this point…I called it and laid down on the ground to wait for everyone else to come thru.  I had run 29 loops? (I think?? maybe it was 28??)–almost 30 miles (the loops were a little over a mile).  Good for second place female and I think top 5 overall.  I had a great day.  I still can’t believe it.

 

So what went right?

  1. More faster running. Eric and I have talked a lot about this–I’ve noticed that many of our best trail runners in the area run fast miles on road sometimes. I hate road running, but I want to be faster. So I hit the roads sometimes and push the pace.  The roads at Durand are good and hilly, so the fast running is “in the woods,” on roads that are closed to cars (I am terrified of getting hit), and at my favorite park.  I guess I can do it…
  2. Wegmans chocolate chip muffin for breakfast.  You know the ones? The giant things with 540 calories per? Yeah.  I didn’t have milk for my usual cereal, so I grabbed the jumbo muffins as I cruised thru Wegmans yesterday morning to grab some fuel for my race, and I think it was a really good choice. Gonna start using those before races I guess.
  3. A great mindset. Every now and then, things just click.  At Virgil, I had a great day.  Things hurt, but I never focused on them. I was tired, but I just kept moving. I was talking to others, but also very in my own head (in a good way for a change).  I ran largely alone, I didn’t really think about too much, I was just in the zone.  I don’t know how to purposefully get to this mental state.  But I love it when I do, and I hope it happens all the time.

 

Thanks so much to the Valones for putting on another awesome event. We spend a lot of time putting on races, so it’s always good to be able to race low key events with good food, good friends and good fun.  If you’ve never run a MFAMTL before, get on the wait list now! You won’t regret it!

What’s next?

MFAMTL 5 Miler–March 24

Cayuga Trails Marathon–July 21

MFAMTL 8 hour–Nov 17

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Walkout

14 Mar

A few years ago, I was teaching middle school in a charter school. I have a lot of thoughts on charters and whether or not they are good for education. But one huge positive of working there was that I had a lot of autonomy within my classroom. And so we did a TON of “culture” lessons.  And not just food or holiday lessons. But really meaningful stuff.

 

You see, when I think about my view of education and my job, while the reading and writing and math are obviously hugely important, the real, overarching goal is for students to leave me ready to be better citizens.  To be good human beings who are kind to everyone. To be those good humans even when no one is watching. To be open-minded and respectful to others who are “different.” To be able to identify good sources of information.  To recognize when someone has a bias/motivation for telling you something which might make it untrue. To be lifelong learners committed to self-reflection and improvement.

 

So one year in the charter, I decided to do a unit on El Movimiento–the Chicano movement. In the 1960’s, Mexican-Americans fought for their rights and against discrimination. We looked at the historical events of that time, talked about how it was like the Civil Rights Movement, discussed our government, how laws are changed, and methods of non-violent protest. The kids got super into it–having heated discussions about non-violent versus violent movements and whether things had changed or not since the 60’s. I sometimes facilitated conversations, but often they just took charge. They were 7th and 8th graders, but they had plenty to say (including many jokes about how they were gonna walkout of my class ha).  We culminated the study by watching the movie Walkout.

 

I had all but forgotten this, and then today, as I watched some video footage of the walkouts happening around the country, someone said “walkout” just the same way as in the movie, and it all flooded back to me. The main character had organized a walkout in her school to protest poor student treatment (I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but one scene that really stood out to me was when students spoke Spanish to each other in the halls or at lunch, they got hit–there was a sign that said “if it’s not worth saying in English, it’s not worth saying.”).  Anyway at the designated time, she stood up, mid-class, and quietly said, “Walkout.” Everyone looked uncertain until she said it again. And again.  And again, louder, and eventually joined by other students. It was a really powerful scene in the movie. The walkouts today were, for me anyway, similarly powerful and moving.

 

Reading the comments on the videos from the news today, I was so saddened by the hatred and condescension of adults. I don’t know how we’ve forgotten that students and young people have been behind so many of our biggest social movements.  And why shouldn’t YOUNG ADULTS (not kids…they’re not little kids anymore) have a say in the country, since they’ll be the ones living in it for the longest? Why are we trying to silence them, as though that will stop the progress and change that they are so determined to make. Why not engage with them, debate them, listen to them and support them? Shouldn’t we be pushing kids to think of ways to make the world a better place, to fight for what they believe in and to work tirelessly to accomplish their goals? What message are we sending by trying to silence them or treat them like babies with nothing important to say?

 

I, for one, am insanely proud of all of the young people who planned, organized and carried out walkouts today.  This country needs more people to step up and lead the way to make sure we grow into the best possible version of ourselves, individually and collectively. We need an engaged, informed electorate to make sure our democracy is as strong as it possibly can be.  Sometimes, teaching is really tiring.  But watching those kids today, I felt so hopeful and energized.  At a time when things often seem bleak and challenging, seeing the signs, the students, the orange…it gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, we are going to be alright.