Sunday, January 27, 2013

A marathon and a half

No really.

We headed down to St George kind of on a whim (well we decided the week before) to go work the St George Half marathon expo. Seemed like it'd been forever since we traveled as a family and the kids even had that Friday and Monday off school so off we went!

I wanted to get as many miles as I could while the air was clean and a bit warmer. It didn't turn out to be warmer while I was running, only in the afternoon, but the air was delightfully clean! You see here in Utah, the valleys specifically get strong inversions which is just a strong low cloud cover that stays because our mountains hold it nicely like a big bowl. Pollution then has no where to go, the warm air can't get below it and we get stuck with very cold dirty air for weeks on end until another good storm comes. Sorry, I'm sidetracked. Moral of that story, St George doesn't have inversions like we do up north.

Friday I left dad and the kids to sleep in, get hotel breakfast that the kids love so much and go set up for the expo. That meant I had to leave on foot from the hotel. So at 6am I ran about 6 miles of paved trail and road to the Bearclaw trailhead. It was quiet and peaceful running under a dark sky with stars visible, just me and my headlamp. I got a little lost but finally arrived at the trail. Bearclaw is a fun little area for bikes and kids, but in the twilight light I missed the main trail and ended up running through roller after roller, think giant bmx track. Finally got out of it though and ran the Stucki Springs trail the rest of the way till my turn around and then basically came back the way I went out (minus some of the getting lost buisness).
It was really great but oh boy did it get cold, SO cold! I was dressed for winter like at home and was glad. I was only missing my neck gaiter and better gloves. Once the sun was finally up for good about 9am I was ok but during it's rising man it was cold. I did learn a few things though while my hands were too cold to function:
1. Don't untie your shoes to tighten the laces. You won't be able to retie them.
2. It's hard to squeeze cold gel without functional hands. Hold the package in your mouth with your teeth then squeeze from the bottom up with the outsides of your hands pressed together.
3. As much as I love my forested mountains I sure do love the scenery down there! Red rocks and dirt, ahhhhh.

I made a couple stops and got lost a little on the way out and realized I wouldn't get the mileage I wanted if I didn't hustle on the way back. No more picture breaks and luckily no more frozen hose leading me to stop and drink directly from the Ultrspire Surge bladder. It felt good to pick it up and I'm pleased with the effort. I really didn't feel it get wall like hard until about 23 miles in and that makes me happy, in my previous marathon races I've hit it at 16-18. Just turned on a couple songs and concentrated on keeping my cadence high and kept moving. 26.5 good quality miles. 
Don't you hate how cameras never quite capture the image your eye sees? 
Ok, maybe it's just because I only every use my phone as a camera, but this view was awesome!

Enjoyed the rest of the day with the kids and food and the pool. I wasn't planning to run the half the next day but my husband said he could get me in and a generous friend Cheri came with her two girls around my kids age and hung out at the hotel while we ran. We ran to the race as it was only 1/2 mile away or so and got there close to the start so I started back with the 2:15 or so pace group. I have never realized how beneficial it is to start where you want to finish. Anyway the first 6 or so miles were not so much fun. It felt hard, felt like speedwork and I couldn't have been running faster than 8:30. I could blame it on my legs but I still wasn't happy they, my legs, just weren't showing up for the party. Then around mile 7 things picked up. I felt better and started to push. One good thing I guess about starting in the back (and taking a bathroom stop) is that you have pace groups you can try to catch. So around mile 7 or 8 I finally passed the 1:55 group and had my eyes on 1:50. Well I couldn't see them but they were my next goal after I caught up with some friends who I lost on my earlier potty stop. I swear I ran forever looking for 1:50 and finally by about mile 12 I found them. Felt great to pass them after running so hard hoping I would! I would have loved to catch 1:45 as a friend of mine was pacing it but never did, probably finished about a minute behind them. Ended up running a 1:46 which includes my stop (I personally don't believe in claiming a time the clock doesn't say I ran unless it's in my own head). Totally negative splitted the second half for sure! I bet I was running 7:30 on average those last 6 miles. Very pleased considering how the first half went.
Waited for and found my husband who struggled a bit but did well considering his lack of road and pace work since the summer and we hobbled back to the hotel and enjoyed the rest of our trip including a little playtime at Bearclaw later that day with the kids and Cherie's girl Sky. What's 1 more right?

40 miles, I ran 40 miles in a 24 hour span. A marathon and then a half. And yes I was a bit stiff and sore but nothing horrible. I really love watching my mind and body stretch their limits. Doing things with 'relative' ease that were previously such a big deal. Really cool stuff

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

113 laps for 2013

On a 442 meter track  :)

In the past I've done the New Year's swim at Master's which would have been 113 x 50's this year, but I've turned my attention more to ultra running for 2013 and consequently haven't swam in a couple months (bad I know, I don't intend to ignore the pool all together, I still believe in cross training, I've just let life get in the way more than usual).  Anyway, a friend of mine Jared from Extra Mile Racing organizes some local races (including at Bear Lake) and this one, the New Year's Revolution Run was at the Olympic Oval where the speed skating took place for the 2002 Olympics.  They  have a 442 meter track around the ice that I've trained on before.  Temperature controlled 60 degrees, filtered air, music overhead - sounds good especially when it's 4 degrees and an inversion outside like we've had lately here in Salt Lake City.  You have from 8am-1pm to go as far (or as short) as you like.  Some people came soley to run a half marathon and then stop.  They even had a great spin area where you could bring your bike and trainer and spend up to 5 hours with great spin instructors. They looked like they were having a good time and got a great workout too.  A definite race you should consider for next year.

Per my usual behavior I decided the week of (more like days before).  Everyone started at 8am, and you have till 1pm to go as far as you can.  I started a few minutes late thanks to setting up an Altra table but what a few minutes in a 5 hour event?  I thought the whole thing was well organized.  People for the most part stayed out of lane 1 so passing wasn't difficult and while there were about 300 people there it never seemed over crowded.  There was an aid station every 442 meters which is awesome, but I had a handy alternate plan that worked great for me.  I filled up a 10oz Nathan water bottle that goes in my hydration belt and left it on the big pads that line the inside of the track, outside of the ice.  The flat back of the bottle was great to keep it there and not rolling off.  Then every 20 minutes I'd pick it up for a lap and drink 3-4 ounces with either taking a gel or electrolytes.  I only had to fill it up a couple times over the 5 hours and my 9 year old who hung out for the last couple hours took care of most of them.  I took a Vi Endurance gel every 40 minutes (really really happy with these gels, peach cobbler is amazing), a caffeinated GU gel as every 3rd gel and even had a few sips of coke the last 90 minutes. Took 2 SportLegs pills at 2 and 4 hours, and a Metasalt every hour till the last 2 hours when I started taking one closer to every 30-45 minutes.
I ran straight through at about a 9 min mile pace, no walking, except for the 3-4 stops at the bathroom also located conveniently ever 1/4 mile.  1 of those stops was to change from normal runing shorts into my CEP compression tri shorts hoping it my support my right ITband from the bit of annoyance I could feel from it.  I think it helped, didn't cure, but helped.  I really like those shorts, I have Zoot compression tri shorts too but I like the CEP's better.  I also stopped once to change shoes from my Altra Inuition 1.5's to the Altra Torin, a new, higher cushioned shoe.  The 1.5's upper is slightly snug on my and I wanted to try the Torin for this event anyway.  Both shoes worked nicely.  I appreciated the thicker cushion of the Torin, but wouldn't want to run in it everyday simply because the more cushion the less strength work my feet and ankles get.
Oh yeah, and then the stop I'm proud of - a nursing break for my sweet 11 month old Ella. I tried to be sneaky when changing shoes but she saw me and crawled over and really, who can refuse cuddle time like that with a sweet little baby?  NOT ME!  I actually dreampt of nursing like this during a race while I was pregnant with her, but it never worked out till now.  I'm proud to have stopped for her to have her aid station too  :)

So anyway, I was doing some math about 3.5 hours in and realized if I wanted to get to 113 laps (50k) I was going to have to push the rest of the race.  My kids wanted to run with my every couple laps for about an hour so that slowed things down a little, I was fatiguing a little so my husband ran with my a couple laps, but then they had to go.  My 9 year old stayed to play crewer handing my all my gels and coke and water right on the schedule I explained to her, she was great.  When the family left, I focused, put the music in, turned it on and it felt so great!!  That last hour I bet I ran 7-7:30 pace and it felt so good!  I love opening up the stride and moving fast.  It was so fun to feel like I was flying and chase a goal like that.  I didn't know I would feel that good, didn't save a lot to be able to do that, but it just worked out.  My only regret of the race is that I didn't get a picture of me running then.  Maybe vain yes, but it's a good to be reminded of times your body performed like you wanted it to.  And by the skin of my teeth I got my 113 laps at 1:00pm.  Yes!  With bathroom and the nursing break my moving time for those 31 miles was probably 4:35-40.  Good enough for 3rd place woman, and top 10 overall with the men.  Great way to start the new year! 

I was concerned about losing my mind or getting bored, but I never really did.  Ran with someone occasionally, but mostly it was just time to think, enjoy a good song on the PA system from time to time and focus on my nutrition.  Timing it like I did really helps me not feel like I have 5 hours, but lots of shorter segments.  I also worried about going in the same direction circle the whole time and my right side was more sore than the left that day and a little after but really not as bad as I thought.  My knees were fine, ITband was the most noticeable ailment.  I felt fatigued for a couple days, but not as bad as my first 50k.  I'm excited about this 2013 to come!  Looks like my first big race will be 50 miles on Antelope Island March 26th.  And while 50 miles does sound a bit daunting right now, I am so impressed with how the body and mind learn, adapt, and advance to farther and farther limits.  I never thought I could just jump into a 31 mile run a few days in advance and have it not be a super big deal.  I can do that distance and not die, not even suffer terribly!  Everyone can do this too, and not to this extreme.  Run a 10k and I bet a 5k will seem short, run a half marathon and you'll be able to run a marathon if you want.  Trust your body and mind, they are capable and will leave you in awe sometimes, especially when you challenge them!