Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Elusive 100 miles in 24 hours is Finally Mine and I have a Virginia State Record to Prove It!

It's been (gulp) a week since I ran the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra, but the miles still seem fresh.  This was the first year I achieved breaking the 100 mile barrier and ironically this year was the easiest.  Was I stronger than last year?  Probably yes.  Was I more patient than last year?  Decidedly so.  Was I more relaxed about it this year?  ABSOLUTELY.  I have photographic proof of my calmness.  In previous years I would not have stopped long enough for a photo for fear of being late to the starting line.  We were definitely bundled up because it was 21 degrees outside.  The good news is that we knew this would be the coldest it would get throughout the next 24 hours.
Me, Chris Bean, Trish Lebsack & Josie Whitmore

coerced convinced some tennis/running friends into participating in the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra.  Trish Lebsack & Chris Bean came to cheer me on last year with another friend, Chris Walker. Even though I had a rough day (didn't feel well, even colder than this year complete with snow showers) they loved the party atmosphere of a 24 hour race.  You see, everyone has different goals and aspirations but the common denominator is everyone has FUN!  The volunteers are awesome and since the loop is only .95 miles long you get to see everyone quite often.  By far, this is my favorite course.  I liken it to cupcake racing.  You get food and drink every .95 miles.  What's not to love?

Trish, Josie, Chris and myself show up to the starting line and it's like a reunion of sorts.  Usually at the start of a race candid shots of me closely resemble someone about to throw up, not this time.  I found this one and I look like I'm happy and confident. I don't know if I'm stretching or strutting.

 I got the most sleep I've ever gotten before one of these type of races and felt FULLY ready to tackle my 100.  My friend, Charlie Engle, and I shared a picnic table under the shelter.  Every year I've procured the same table.  I think his superior talent rubbed off on me which enabled me to break a 100.  Anyway, I had oodles of stuff (as usual) because  you never know what you are going to need for a 24 hour race.  I knew Charlie was going to be there all night, but I knew I had my friend Jen Pack running with me for a little in the evening (she ran 10 miles with me!) and Pam (who I met at this race several years earlier and I adore) running with me at 2am.  My friend, Dena, shared the table with us, but didn't show up for the race until the start.  In fact, I didn't see her until a couple of laps into the race.  We are sole sister racing buddies and good friends.  We have worked together at 24 hour races before and have pushed each other to new distances that we never thought possible.  She and I mostly ran together the first 50 miles.  She had logged many more miles than me the last couple of months, so her body was done after 50.  If she had not done a 24 hour race,  a marathon, etc. I think she would have been right there by my side.  We took a little photo somewhere in the 35-50 mile range.

Unlike last year, I decided that I was not going to attack the sugar table until deep into the race.  I think this may have had a big impact on my blood sugar levels.  I felt great throughout and I did not have a single gummy bear, oreo, etc.  I did have my magical elixir, coke, but I didn't have any until after the 50 mile mark.  I took a couple of ounces every 5-8 miles.  I did drink some Nuun, Heed, Gatorade and water throughout.  Another reason I had so much fun was that we had so many friends from Greensboro running in the event.  Everyone arrived with different plans, but it was so exciting seeing everyone throughout the day and into the night.

Food.  I probably didn't eat enough of it, but I did have Kashi bars, banana chips, Honey Stinger waffles and peanut butter crackers.  Crooked Road provided McDonald's hamburgers, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, soup, and pizza.  I stayed away from dairy this year, but had plenty of sandwich squares and chicken broth to fill up on.  The volunteers made it easy.....I would ask for broth and by the next time you arrived at the table, it would be there.  It was magical!  I also had some great help from Chip and Kerri Person.  They are Wilder's parents and it was so nice seeing them every mile while Wilder completed 50 miles!  I was so proud of his progress in this sport.  Longevity does not come overnight and he is well on his way to really make an impact in this sport.

Around 2am I (for some unknown reason) felt like I could not have solid food anymore.  I wasn't feeling bad, but I just knew I didn't want to eat anything.  I then switched to broth, Muscle Milk, Gu's and Honey Stinger Chews until I finished.  I never had GI issues (unlike the year before) which was lucky. I also never felt delirious and I definitely didn't do any death marching.  I was running, jogging and power walking throughout.  I don't think I slowly walked at all as a matter of fact.

Pam and I ran a few laps but I soon sent her to administer to the runners that really needed her.  I was feeling great.  Unfortunately we were passing some people that were doing a death march slow, staggered walk so I told her I felt great and they needed her more than me.  I continued my jogging/race walking as I counted down the laps I needed to achieve my goal.  I even took a selfie in the brand new heated bathroom with only 4 1/2 laps to go!
The eyes were definitely tired looking and the heavy salt intake was taking its toll.  But.....the bathroom was warm and I wanted 1 more minute of warmth....taking a picture seemed normal (maybe I was a bit delirious?).  Maybe it was foreshadowing because this picture proved to be the signal for my friends, Mel and Christine, to get there fast because I was going to finish ahead of schedule!  I had no idea they were coming.

Every time I was within 50 feet or so of the volunteer table I would say, "HHHHIIIIIIIII    Taaaaaarrrrrraaaaaaaa" (yes, I dragged out her name that long because it was great to see her each lap!)  Well....when she yelled that I just finished 105 laps my smile was huge, but when Mel and Christine appeared I went euphoric.  I remember jumping up and down (knocking my headlamp off) yelling, "You came!" over and over and over.  I then remember giggling like a kid at Christmas and we took off.  I forewarned the girls at the table that they might hear some yelling when I reached the 100 mile sign, but that I was okay.  The 3 of us took off hand in hand and we screamed at the top of our lungs at the sign....well, the girls at the table screamed back.  We couldn't stop laughing.  We ran the rest of the lap and I stopped.  Yes, I stopped.  My goal was 100 miles.  I completed 100.7.  Could I have gone on for the next hour and a half?  I don't know.  All I knew is that I felt so great I didn't want to jinx myself.  I then cheered Emily on to break the Virginia State Record for her age group and overall.  Little did I know that I broke a Virginia State Record that day for my 45-49 year old age group and ended up 2nd overall female. I sat by the fire and waited for my husband to pick me up.  When Dan arrived I think he thought he was going to walk a few laps with me, but I was already done.  We He packed up all my things and I decided I couldn't wait for the awards ceremony.  The tiredness set in.  Ricky Scott, the race director, handed me my precious jewel.  I couldn't have been more proud to receive this
My day got just a little bit brighter because I was inducted into the Team Buttercup group.  Bill Keane, pictured here with Amy Surrette and myself sent me a "Suck It Up Buttercup" shirt and the 100 mile sign he confiscated from the course.  I talked to that sign for 106 laps....I truly YELLED to that sign 106 times.  I cannot wait to hang it in my home office.
Sorry this was so long, but I am trying to blog a little more often.  I keep reminding myself it doesn't have to be big or epic.  It just has to 'be'.   Happy Running !!

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I felt lazy not running in a Thanksgiving Day/Weekend race, but I did manage to run 10 miles on Saturday with Jeriann and her husband, Byron.  We ran happy....can you guess who's wearing the dirty shoes?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The 2014 Road to Crooked Road, a year in quick review

Well....I finally did it.  I completed 100.7 miles within 24 hours. Actually, due to my poor math skills, I  completed it in 22 hours 27 minutes. I thought I was in the 23rd hour so I was actually running quite a bit those last couple of hours thinking I was going to be racing the clock.  Seeing as I have not had time to blog in the last YEAR, I thought I should give  a quick recap of the year and the race and then go into more specifics of the race in a separate post.

2014.  What a year it has been thus far.  To be honest, it has flown by not just because I am getting old  seasoned, but also because I returned to the full-time work force in February.  I am back in the wellness industry at Starmount Forest Country Club which is 3.5 miles from my house.  I have the privilege of imparting my passion for wellness to a great group of members.  Besides loving my job, I have the most incredible view from my desk.  Most who know me know I don't sit well, but if you have to sit to get paperwork done, a great view of the golf course helps!

A couple of days before I started my job, I paced the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon.  I LOVE pacing races.  I get out of my own head and focus on helping my group achieve their goal.  I paced the 1:45 group and I take my job seriously!  I always forewarn my pace group that I will indeed talk the whole time.  I also tell them I will sing, joke and get the crowd involved.  I am enjoying some high success rates because they are relaxed and laughing. There is no better compliment than to have someone come to me after it's over telling/hugging me that I helped them achieve a personal best.  If I could, I would pace every weekend.  Here is one of the only photos I have from that day, my friend Melanie and I picking up our pacing shirts.

March brought me participating in the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon.  I was with awesome friends, but I was food poisoned the day before the race and didn't have anything in my system for over 24 hours.  I ran the race because I signed up for the race.  I pulled back every time I felt dizzy, and just enjoyed the run.  This is a theme this year......I've been running    h   a   p   p  y  .  I know I don't look very happy in this photo, but I had had zero food for over 28 hours and ran this race and somehow kept everything together.  I was indeed happy!

April brought  another pacing job.  This time it was the Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon.  I was entrusted with the 4 hour pace group....and as you can see by the picture I took my job seriously had an incredible time getting my group in on time.  In fact, with the exception of only a few I had most of my group ahead of me.  This day was hot, hot, hot.  I was carrying 6 extra Gu's in my pocket and begged my group to stay hydrated.  This was probably the hardest pacing job I ever encountered because of the humidity and the sun.  Two people lost their lives in the half marathon this day, and my prayers still remain with these 2 families.  Rock & Roll events are incredible because they are well organized and  hearing the bands throughout the course make it even more fun!  

Due to a last minute phone call from a dear running friend, Rebecca Byerly, of Women of the Mountain, I was invited to pace her in Lake Tahoe during her Tahoe 200 race (may I just say it is REALLY 202 miles) in September.  It was a whirlwind trip I will never forget.  I flew and drove to Tahoe getting there somewhere around 2am with a Greensboro high school student named Wilder Person.  Wilder and I became fast friends even with the decades between us because we were there to get Rebecca across the finish line at all cost.  Wilder is not a seasoned runner and did over 40 miles with Rebecca.  Amazing!  I ended up pacing somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 miles and collectively we helped get Rebecca to the finish line as the 4th overall female.  It was easy being her friend and mentor, it was hard getting tough with her a few times as she battled fatigue.  I was so happy to help her, this picture is one of my favorites......

I ran a few other races, but by far my biggest race this year was the Denver Rock N Roll Marathon.  My hubby and I flew out to Colorado on a Friday, explored downtown Denver that afternoon and spent the next day hiking up near Boulder.  I knew I was going to have fun at Denver and not try to race it, so hiking for many hours in the mountains seemed normal to me.  I fell in love with Colorado and hope to return one day soon.  I encountered some altitude issues during the race on Sunday, but I ran happy.  I ended up 17th woman overall but the most interesting note is that I was the first female NOT from Colorado on the results list.  In my crazy world, I consider that a win!  I look too fresh for just running a marathon, but my time was pretty (relatively) slow for me.

Now we come to Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra.  This race is a true test of your will and determination.  It gets dark by 5:15pm and doesn't get light again till almost 7am.  That is a LONG time to be running with a headlamp.  Crooked Road is set in a park near Rocky Mount, VA and is a certified .95 mile loop.  Notice I said .95, not 9.5!  May I just say I LOVE this loop.  It gave me 106 times to say hello to the great volunteers and more opportunity to run into people.  I love people!  Especially during a 24 hour race.  Here is a photo of my Greensboro Sole Sister, Dena, who was with me when I started running Crooked Road 4 years ago.  If you haven't read any of my previous posts from Crooked, I invite you to because this year's experience was NOTHING like the previous years.  I will explain that in more detail in an upcoming post.

I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you for reading. I hope to write a full race report by the weekend!  I leave you with a few things I am thankful for:

1.  I am thankful I have the most wonderful husband, family and friends who support, lift, and encourage me.  More importantly, they accept me the way I am.
2.  I am thankful I have remained a healthy runner thanks to cross training and actually listening to my body.
3.  I am thankful I love running everything from the 800m to 100 miles.
4.  I am thankful that I surround myself with women who empower me and not try to tear me down.
5.  I am thankful I was born with endless energy which probably drives many people crazy :)
6.  I am thankful I have met so many incredible people through a sport I love.

Happy Thanksgiving!