Thursday, November 30, 2017

101.3 Miles and a New Virginia State Record...oh my!

 Some years races are easy, other years you wonder if/why you run at all.  This year was my 6th year at the Crooked Road 24 hour ultra.  I love this race.  This is the most well supported race I have ever experienced in 41 years of racing.  For 24 hours, the volunteers kept me hydrated, full and motivated to continue.  Well...almost.  I better start at the beginning.  Being the most de-conditioned I have ever been before an ultra I knew there would be some dicey spots in the race.

 Beforehand, I had convinced myself that 80 miles was non-negotiable and 100 miles was my stretch goal.  I was the most relaxed I have ever been before staying awake for 24 hours and moving forward running and walking.  My dear friend, Tonia, let me stay at her house at the Virginia/North Carolina border with my puppy, Miles the night before. She graciously kept him so I could race as Dan was on a golf trip with the boys.  I actually slept like a champ (very unusual the night before a big event) and I got to Rocky Mount, VA around 7:10am.  Perfect amount of time to unpack, visit and get ready for an epic 24 hours.

 We had a little fun at the beginning of the race in this picture here:

 The weather was perfect for this type of event and the warmest this race has ever been to my recollection.  The plan was to run with Dena (who bypassed moving a couple of weeks later so she could be part of the race) till she left which was somewhere near 50 miles and darkness.  I was laser focused for my 80 miles so I was not as sad as I usually am when she deserts leaves me.  I was in good spirits and had fun chatting and running with Stephanie (a first time ultra runner who placed THIRD overall for females) till about 67 miles or so.  She was going to change clothes and get some food so I opted to just keep going because again I was stubborn laser focused for my goal.

Here is a view of part of the course.  I had our Jeep right along the course for all my supplies ( I knew it was going to rain in the middle of the night) and in case I wanted to lie down and nap for a little bit during the night. 

I allow myself to turn on my IPod and phone after 50 miles during an ultra, but I did not turn it on till mile 88.  Why?  I have NO idea.  Although it did start raining in the middle of the night TWICE.  I had a poncho that fell into pieces a few minutes after putting it on and luckily Ricky (the race director) gave me a trash bag that I wore till it stopped raining.  It was as long as I am so I was constantly pulling it up off the ground to prevent myself from tripping.  

At some point in the middle of the night I lost the stomach for food.  I could not find anything I wanted so I stuck with chicken broth and it seemed to help me tremendously.  I usually counsel people that if you get behind in your food (which apparently I did) and you stop taking in food you are toast.  Well...I felt like toast, but somehow managed to KEEP GOING.  In retrospect I should have figured out SOMETHING to eat.  During the day I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like they were my job.  I actually stayed away from the really bad sugar, but did allow myself ginger ale and an occasional coke during the night.  These drinks are in 2 oz. doses, so I did not consume much sugar at all.  I did have the McDonalds hamburgers, but I refrained from the pizza this year.  But hey, there is a first time for everything.  Me turning down pizza?

When daybreak came I had less than 5 miles to go to hit my goal.  I became very emotional at around 7am for some reason.  I couldn't point at any particular thing except maybe the lack of food.  I was almost inconsolable the last 2.3 miles.  I was so emotional, in fact, that Dena called Johnny and Melanie and they ran around the course trying to find me and helped me emotionally get over myself and get an extra lap to win this race for females.  

Was I happy to break the Virginia State Record again?  YOU BET.  Was I happy to be over 50 and winning a race?  YOU BET.  Will I do it again?'s still too early to think about it for 2018.  

Here is the official list of finishers and their total mileage.  There were 10 people over 100 miles with 2 of the finishers being females.  

Here is Mark and myself accepting our overall Male and Female award complete with the cutest little Banjo I have ever seen.  I am currently coveting it on my kitchen counter.  I have never been so tired, yet so happy.  

Here are the Greensboro friends that were there at the end to cheer, hug, cry and celebrate with after the race.  Johnny, Amy, Stephanie, and Melanie.
 I do not know what is next for me, but I look forward to the next adventure! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Tsunami before the Calm 24 hours of Relentless Forward Motion

Race week.  It brings a tsunami of emotions.  What am I thinking....I cannot run for 24 hours.  True.  There is quite a bit of walking involved WITH the running (if all goes well).  Last year was not my year.  There were horrible winds that blew (my friend) Dena and I all over the course and we decided to 'pack it in' 62 miles into the race.  We left some unfinished business out there on the course.  This year I am committed to seeking my second 100+mile completion within 24 hours.  I am FULLY committed to 80 miles and I am MOSTLY committed to 100.  I can do this.  I've done this before.

 The week of a race I let doubt and anxiety creep into my psyche but I am old and hopefully wise enough to continue to ignore the fear of the unknown.  Any given day anyone can do anything they put their mind to.  I continually tell myself, "What the mind will believe, the body can achieve". 

I have started my packing for the weekend.  I tend to over pack because I would rather have too much stuff than not enough.  With the weather being iffy in the afternoon, you do not want to mess with mother nature and wearing dry clothes is a MUST.  Each year is a different story of what I need and must have.

 I have run in snow at Crooked Road, but never rain.  There is a chance of rain this year and I am reminded of a Lululemon Product Photo Shoot where I was running in 40 degree rainy weather and laughing about it.  It shouldn't be this cold but at least I have a frame of reference on laughing in the rain.  Who knows, maybe I will start singing.
 Whatever Saturday will bring, I will bring what I have and with the utmost energy and enthusiasm.  Heck- if I can pull off a 3:34:17 at the NYC Marathon with a hurt toe (I kicked a subway grate by accident after sliding on a paper cup in the road) then I can run/walk a 100 miles.  Right?! 
This picture epitomizes that I will go from girly grace to grit in a nanosecond.  Don't count this princess out.  I have plenty left to prove in the running world.

When I finally get to the starting line of the Crooked Road 24 hour ultra I will find my calm rhythm and crank out the mileage; one mile at a time. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Running DOES Connect Us! When a Partner Moves Away

Running connects us.  You've seen the tag line, phrase, etc. all over Facebook.  What does that mean?  Yes you feel a chain-link sense of community of like minded people but what happens when a link moves away?  

I have had the luxury of great running partners that have circled in and out of my life over my 4 decades of racing.  I try and keep in touch as much as feasibly possible but I know (and hope they know) what an indelible mark they have inked in my soul.

Everyone has that one friend that is up for ANYTHING.  Dena is one of those friends that said, "Let's do a 24 hour race" and BOOM we did it for the next 7 years in a row.  Several years we went step for step for at least the first 50 miles and some years we were just there breathing the same air.  Dena is one of those women who I strive to imitate; assertive, confident and driven.  

Dena has been dabbling in the triathlon world so our weekend long run has been disrupted but I know if I truly needed her she would be there in a heartbeat. Dena is moving to Atlanta (whelp) and I am SUPER excited for her, and SUPER sad for me.  Yes we will still stay in touch (I am currently teaching her that cell phones are actually a phone and not a texting machine) but running together will be few and far between. 

When she first told me she got the job I was ecstatic and then she told me she might be moving the weekend of our infamous 24 hour Crooked Road (best 24 hour race out there. Period.  You cannot convince me otherwise. Ever) ultra I was crestfallen.  Yes I just typed that word:  crestfallen.  This was OUR race.  This was OUR time to completely catch up in life. Who am I going to talk to for 24 hours?  Okay:  I talk to EVERYONE all day and night in that race so maybe that part will not change.  

If you see me during the race or on Facebook on November 18-November 19th, send me a little love. I will need it.

One more thing you might not know about Dena and me, we have run together every Christmas morning since 2012 (or is it 2013).  We wake up early and my family does not.  We run in the crisp early morning air with virtually no one outside.  We run the number of miles in the upcoming year.  This year would be have 18 miles for 2018.  I will probably return to me running solo to the cemetery a couple of miles away from our home wishing all the headstones a very Merry Christmas.  I do this every Thanksgiving also because my Mom has been buried in Maryland since 1992 and I have not visited her since then because I live so far away.  Hopefully she knows I am thinking of her.

Footnote:  This is what happens when I write- I sit on it too long and forget to post.Thank you, Sheri, for the reminders!