Durability

Bruise is fake.  Took a wilderness first aid class two weeks ago with NOLS through REI.  As my distances in the mountains/trails get longer, I feel much better feeling a little competent around how to help myself or someone else with an injury.

I also debriefed with my PT biomechanics master, Mike Roberts, this week about last years races and my current hip pain.  Had a few interesting thoughts:

  • Durability takes time to build up.  I slowed down the second half of both long races.  This year I hope to be more consistent with a year of experience/mileage under me.
  • Even though I still have hip pain, which started on the flatter long runs after Killington, he thinks its not because of some mobility issue to fix but normal recovery and a little beefing up of my glue mead will help as well.
  • Training/performance for a high elevation race like Killington (12,200′) vs. the Stone Cat 50k (2,500′) is different.  Going up and down hills alternates which muscles are being used.  Continuous flatter runs are beating the crap out of the same ones the whole race.  That didn’t occur to me when I thought StoneCat would just be super easy vs Killington and it crushed me.
  • He thinks a little run downtime during my upcoming shoulder surgery is great timing and will help me fully recover from last year.

My questions remain:

  • How long do you need to recover between races?  How many can you do a year vs. years of experience… I’d like to lay out a plan between now and 100 mile UTMB qualifiers.
  • What does recovered mean?
  • When do you need to just run vs. cross train with bicycle to build up that endurance?  At some point cycling may not stress you enough to get used to it.

2020 Goals: Kilkenney Ridge 50 Miler

I am working first two months to build what strength I can before going into shoulder surgery.  Then it will be a year of rebuilding and lower strength/running trying not to fall and reinjure myself on the trails.  I am still recovering with hip pain from race last November – have to beat this or will be limited this year.  My goals are to get more competent at 30 milers and try this 50 mile, 15,000′ course which will require some rigorous hill training as well/just like last year.

Current primary races:

  • Vermont Ragnar ultra 30 mile
  • Kilkenney Ridge 50 miles, 15000′
  • Stone Cat redo 30 mile, 2500′

I plan to volunteer at the VT 100, which will be my target race in 2021, and is a qualifier for UTMB.

It bothers me a lot being so slow and I think the way to improve that is interval training – I lived in fear of my first interval runs this year.  I have slowed down a lot since the last ones ins August but hopefully will improve quickly.  I am afraid of what I’ve lost and need some experience to understand these training cycles…will feel better when I competently run some long distance and feel strong/better than last year to know that I do have a better base that will payoff this year.

I am excited about trying for a 50 miler and love those long training runs in the woods.  Got my husband a pair of trail shoes so he can throw down a few with me 🙂

Race Schedule 2020

Winter Snowshoe 5k Dion Nor’easters 1/11

Winter Snowshoe 10k Dion Nor’easters early Feb

Half Marathon – early Mar

Shoulder surgery 3/5/19 – out six weeks

Ragnar Zion  5/8 15 mi

30 mile race – end May

Vermont 100 volunteer – Mid July

VT Ragnar Ultra 30 mi – 7/24

Kilkenney Ridge Race 50 mi – 9/19

Shoulder Setback…Back to the Drawing Board for 2020 Goals

Got confirmation that I need shoulder surgery on my other (right) side.  It was the Spartan Spring race last May – I knew it was hurt but hoping it would recover and just kept aching.  MRI confirmed a few weeks ago with similar damage as my left – not a huge tear but one that won’t heal by itself.

Super deflated initially as I was so looking forward to working strength and distance and now figuring out how to adapt my plans for next year.  Spartan races are out but I found an alternative 50 mile, 15000′ elevation race in Sept that will be my new goal.

Surgery planned early March as we had already planned a scuba trip to the Philippines in February.  That puts any upper body work out until September.

Fun in the Dark and Venturing Into the Woods 12/8/19

I love running at night – doing the Vermont Ragnar trails was one of the most fun runs I have ever done.  I am back to running with a relaxed 30″ run plus warmup tonite in the cold, on slightly snowy roads and my trail shoes (which I didn’t know about last winter).

Because I am afraid of getting lost up in the mountains, I decided to learn how to use my compass.  Saturday (yesterday) I did two beginner Orienteering courses at Beaver Brook run by upnoor.org, who were kind enough to teach me many things including:

  • How to use my compass and a map
  • How to use snowshoes and what different types there are – they loaned me a pair
  • What snow gaiters are and let me wear a pair
  • How you can buy different bottoms for your trekking poles or X-country skiis and let me try theirs out

Super fun 2.5 hours making some beginner mistakes but learned a lot!  Had to pay closer attention to the map (never really did that before) to notice when I should be passing streams or paths or boulders and the importance of orienting compass and map to north when you start vs. being turned totally around by accident…

Beautiful, beautiful day in the woods with about 20″ of snow.  I had to venture off the trails, forded a small river and even set new trails following the directions vs. taking the easy way!  It was also pretty cold in the 20s so got to try out my new Arc’tyrx jacket which was too hot with a midweight fleece and ski pants – went back to my running wear for these temps with the added snowshoes and gaiters.

 

I am so very happy I know how to do this now – it is like taking a test out in the wild!  Can’t wait to try an intermediate one next time.  Two organizations to look into:

  • upnoor.org
  • New England Orienteering Club

Barkley marathon here I come……in a few years 🙂

 

Emotionally Reinvigorated…But Hurt Myself During Xfit Warmup 11/16/19

Ultramarathon + 2 wks.  Ego still bruised but am absolutely reinvigorated!!!  Have new goals and knowing my weaknesses (growing my base, strength and obstacle skills, mobility) know what to do to crush the Killington Ultra and accomplish a 50 miler next year.  I was having a tough time between the two big races but am over that now and can’t wait to get going on strength.

Except I tried to start 3 days after the race and hurt myself during the crossfit warmup doing a burpee….  I had a small ache behind my knee which I exacerbated and took myself out for about 5 days not being able to even walk.  Here I am 10 days later and it still hurts – I ran some on it today but it still hurts a little!

Lesson:  No intense workout the week after a long race

Goals:  My issue is finding a goal that scares me now.  Fear was a strong motivator this year knowing I either work hard or die in the race….  I am way less afraid now.  I am working my race schedule for next year which will I think have 2 30 mile races including a redo of Killington Ultra culminating with a 50 mile run.  Following year I plan to do a 100 miler and work on qualifying for the UTMB (106 miles, 32900′ elevation… roughly 3x killington).

This video of the UTMB start is just awesome:

So I am starting doing pullups again at work in our new pullup station, mobility, and need to fix my lower back by doing more one legged work.  Back didn’t hurt at all after either race but it did hurt after doing some Olympic lifting so I know it isn’t 100%.

A few pics from my run/walk 90 min in beautiful Marblehead today:

 

 

Trying to get back to clean/reduced eating, honest reporting and en route to badass!

Laura

I am an Ultra Runner! AAR Stone Cat 50k 11/2/19

The desolate view in main picture is what the finish line looks like when you are fourth from last.  This is the view from the back of the pack.  I still have an ego and I have to say this hurt.  There was no joy, not even relief having it over.  It was just done.  A few cheers and support when I finished but it’s nothing like a marathon with crowds cheering you much of the way.  This is a long slog alone with yourself.  No man sang to me like in the Spartan Ultra.  Old Joe, who I ran with the first two loops and who did ~4 dirt dives with pretty good rolls, had gone out in front of me.  I was passed by a few folks the last 5 miles but I couldn’t keep up with them to maintain company.  Just me and me.  All that said, it thoughts never once crossed my mind like “why was I here?” etc… it was just about finishing.

There was no way I wasn’t going to finish.  I had to redeem myself after “Daring Greatly” at the Spartan Ultra earning 25.6 miles but not finishing.  My coach was also running the NYC marathon and said my finishing would be a boost for him – another great reason – and there is no way I will ever quit at anything I do.  At 25.6 miles in Stone Cat, I knew every step was a PR and after 26.2 miles, I was happy as I was then an official ultra runner.  But mostly I was crying maybe from just being tired with a hurt ego being almost last.  I was hurting for about 15 miles of this race with really sore hips and having trouble breathing/coughing from the cold.  This one was finished with the heart, not the legs.  The logic around most people don’t dare to do this didn’t really work to boost me at the end or after (yet).

So I’ll write out the accomplishments this year although I’m not emotionally feeling them at this moment:

  • Longest I’ve ever run by 17 miles, that half marathon happened 35 years ago when I was in high school
  • I’ve learned an incredible amount about training techniques, biking, running nutrition, hydration vests, trail running, shoes, etc learning more each week.  Each run truly is an adventure and learning opportunity – another data point to file away.
  • I will always remember I couldn’t make it up the stairs at Wachuset Dam early spring and was blown away thinking I had to do 6000′ at spartan Ultra (good thing I didn’t know the true elevation was 15,000′).  Then doing 12,200′ without difficulty.  And now after listening to these ultra dudes, thinking about races that have 70,000’…. the bar is raised.
  • I’ve learned a ton especially on Nashoba about how some things are just hard no matter how often you do them.  That you can recover pretty quickly from a hard part of the race and be ready to do it again in a few minutes.  About total muscular failure (as I almost fell over that day about 20 yards from the end) and importance of pacing.  Of running vs. walking vs. whatever it is you want to call it when you just make steady, DETERMINED, forward progress
  • Gained some pretty awesome friends and have a community of people I can empathize with, learn from and share who understand what it’s like to do these types of endeavors
  • Learned importance of consistency and training periods building up, then a rest week – it works.

This was a 3x10mile loop with an extra mile or so in the beginning and an aid station in the middle of the 10 mile loop.  Pretty much an ideal split as the mental game goes like this:

  • Loop 1:  just do it as you’re not that tired maintaining target pace
  • Loop 2:  Should be hardest mentally – make the cutoff
  • Loop 3:  Surge to make cutoff at aid station.  Then you are basically done – just run last 5 miles in (although the last 5 miles in this case seemed like a marathon of its own)

Good news is it should be easy to beat this time:

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AAR Key lessons learned/strategies to implement to crush this time next time:

  • Don’t have a cold or at least bring meds with you for the trail.  I’ve been slugging cold medicine for two straight weeks and struggled greatly with not being able to breath and coughing during the last 2 loops.  I left my cold tab in the car and just did without for the afternoon which was a mistake.  My average HR was 147 (from garmin) which is absolutely crazy.  Need to turn off the “performance indicator” so I don’t get that warning that I’m below normal in the first few miles of a 30 mile race 🙂
  • Hip mobility.  Hip mobility.  Hip mobility.  If this was fixed, I could have absolutely done way better.  Starting at around mile 7 I was struggling with hip pain.  This amount of pain had never happened before – not during the Spartan Ultra or any of the long runs.  Maybe the reduced training time last 6 weeks really hurt me as I typically do more mobility and I had literally done almost zero the last two weeks before this race.  Goggins says mobility will change your life and allow you to run faster.  I am a believer.
  • I struggled with calf cramps second loop and the guy at aid station said to eat these baby potatoes coated in salt and this did help.  I also took extra electrolytes and drank a ton not knowing what was causing it.  No issues third loop.
  • Clothing: Race started out at 32F with no wind and per my history, I wore my light fleece.  This ended up being too hot to wear along with a pack.  I left fleece after first loop and need to have a lighter jacket WHEN THERE IS NO WIND.  These little factors have a lot to do with right clothing.  By end of race it was above 47F and just a lightweight rashguard long sleeved shirt was fine although hands were cold.  Ran with Altra Lone Peaks – awesome.

I can say now I know what the pain cave is – first time in it.  I probably dealt with it for a good 15 miles with my hips hurting.  Really struggled the last 5 miles of both loops 2 and 3 (see mile 20 and then miles 25-32).  I tried listening to music for a while – my standard 2019 “workout” playlist but turned it off.  Thought of snuggling with my husband and just putting one foot in front of the other.  Tried to veer off of the negative thoughts about being slow and last.  My lesson was I know I can feel bad like at mile 19 but know I can keep going for another 10 without it really getting worse – it just goes on.  Perhaps calf cramps get substituted with weird foot pains or hips but I know now you can go on.

Vs. Spartan Ultra:  This was a totally different race.  The plan was that this should be an easy 30 miles vs. the spartan ultra with ~10,000 LESS elevation gain, no obstacles, and should have been a nice finish.  But it was about 4x harder with the hip pain and cold.

  • After the Spartan ultra I felt basically pretty good the next day although getting to sleep was tough and everything hurt.  After this race I could barely get into the car, was crippled not being able to even walk, the weight of the covers flexed my foot enough to really hurt while lying in bed and here I am the next day barely able to walk. The only muscle soreness I have today is in lower outer quads which are pretty tender and a little at top of calves.
  • I felt so very strong going into the Spartan ultra with a good taper and this race pre-training was not good as I had spent 2 weeks resting after the Spartan race, did two weeks of partial training and then was out 2 weeks before doing nothing with the cold.  I did all the long runs but missed a bunch of little ones. I also traveled from Boston to CA to London for 10 days.  Definitely a strange period between the two races.
  • I was overall tired in the Spartan Ultra but it was a general body fatigue, not a debilitating hip soreness.
  • In the Spartan Ultra, at 17 miles, I had been on my feet for 7 hours with tons of elevation gain and in this race I was pretty much almost done with 30 miles in the same time. I definitely felt better in the spartan transition area than I did at the end of this race.

A few pics pre-race….used my spartan bucket (yellow lid below) and the race directors wife played bagpipes which was pretty cool!

 

Here’s to my first Ultra race, the Stone Cat 50k.  May my subsequent ones be easier!!

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A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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