Category Archives: Becoming Badass

There Was No Plan for Not Finishing

I meticulously planned my nutrition, my clothes, my strategy and pace, detailed timeline for the day of the race, etc but never made a plan for how to meet up if I did not finish the race.

Not finishing wasn’t a consideration.  Realizing this months before actually took a lot of stress away and made priorities clear.  You can work now or you can have a tougher time during the race – easy choice.  Deciding you are doing the race no matter what is an important strategy.  When I left GE and was totally stressed about starting a business (which ultimately didn’t work) and paying for my condo I loved, the night I decided losing the condo wasn’t an option and I worked around that plan, everything was easier.  Related to this record, a guy posted in StrongerU about inspirational quotes and someone put this:

“Anytime my brain says “I don’t really want to…..” I immediately shut it down and say “fuck you, you’re doing it just for thinking that.”  Move forward with no fear!

As I wrote up my lessons learned in the former Ultra AAR, I am torn to say if you should have a plan for not finishing or not.

I was pretty lucky that somehow Kenny figured out where the timeout point was and that I hadn’t passed it yet else I would have been wandering around trying to find him after the Killington ultra.  I also then forgot to stay and root the others on because it never occured to me I would be done before them 🙂

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Laura vs. The Dark, AAR Hollis Trail Run 10/5/19

My hips hurt.  This is what I felt like after 20 miles at Killington but am only at mile 10.  I can barely see the trail.  Should I flag someone down at the next road?  Maybe I’ll pass someone on the trail who has a car at a trailhead.  Why didn’t I bring that headlamp?  Why did my phone die so quickly?  I have 1% battery left – better shut down the screen. Why is this run so hard?  Am I not recovered yet or is it the electrolytes I forgot to bring?  Have an hour left.  Better pay attention to the trail or I will fall. Man am I hungry.  What will I do if I get stuck out here in the dark and cold? Listen for traffic.  I have no way to call for help. I can’t believe my phone is still working…take a left here…

And about an hour later, I finally saw the yurt and trailhead where my car was.  What a relief!

 

 

This was my first long run since the Killington Ultra (race + 3 weeks).  Today I did 17.1 miles over 4:21 hours.  This was a busy day with a late running start:

  • Had a bee in my pants.  Picked dahlias and brought one inside my pajamas
  • I accidentally jammed my toothbrush up my nose (and it hurt)

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  • Kenny left at 3:15am to go on a diving vacation in Roatan, Honduras without me on our anniversary (darn work!)
  • I got my new Suburu Crosstrek
  • Had to do 4.5 hours on flatter trails to simulate more the Stone Cat 50k I’m training for on Nov 2. I wanted to run the Beaver Brook trails and see if I could connect them with the conservation land trails to get up to Silver Lake area.  Alltrails app rocks!

Lessons Learned:

  • Always bring a headlamp.  Always also take it from the car and put in hydration pack.  and backup batteries and light stick.
  • Always bring an extra phone charger.  Phone went from 95% to 0% over 4 hours even in airplane mode just using screen with Alltrails.
  • don’t forget electrolytes.  I could barely move later.  I forgot salt stix tabs so figured this was a good day to experiment with 50% less than planned…. NOT!
  • Listen to my coach.  I went way faster than he asked me to and was mostly in Z3 vs. Z2 despite good intentions.

As always, love the variety of environments you run through on the trails.  Not many people out today despite heading into peak foliage season.  Started out at Beaver Brook crossing Proctor Hill Rd to get to the Beaver Brook Pond:

 

 

I took a lesser trail to get north, which was at times a little hard to find.  Came back on a larger parallel one starting from the more west trailhead (two are very close together on Rocky Pond Rd – one has more space to park) that I would recommend.

Then ran past Rocky Pond Rd to get to the Big Hill and Silver Lake area – this started out with a debris strewn path before turning into a soft pine trail – also had some very narrow single track trail:

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Then you came out into the big farmfields and the Noreaster trails – all the pumpkins had been harvested earlier in the week and the fields mowed which had a ton of tall weeds (similar to Killington) lying on ground to run through:

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And the beautiful 2.5 mile Silver lake trail (2 miles without the run to the primary sign from the parking lot):

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I was pretty crippled at the end and could literally barely walk later on.  Good thing I had my handy vibrator and my neighbor Marguery/Richard to feed me dinner and give me a warm blanket!

 

 

Shared Experiences…Books 2019

It’s getting late in the season – picture is from the TARC Fall Classic 10k I completed yesterday beating my coach, Gary  Lombardo (who was running with me, went ahead, got stung, ran with me…), for what may be the only time!

I’ve become engrossed in reading about other peoples’ journeys and day to day stories about training, about why they do it, about problems and problems solved and have enjoyed the comaraderie from these writers!

Recommended:

This one is better with a face to face summary given first:

pose

Recommended:

 

Not recommended – can’t finish:

broken

2019 Killington Plan Details

Note:  This has been updated with lessons learned…..

2019 Killington Ultra Plan & Transition – Laura Kozel

Leave bucket night before/drop warm soup in morning along with foot gel and chafing stick.

OVERALL RACE STRATEGY:  26:30-27:00 AVG entire race, 1st lap 26”/mi, 2nd 28”/mi

  • Start time: 6:45, cutoff 2:30 in transition ~15 miles must be faster than 30”/mile, 6pm pipe lair, 7pm beater, 9pm course shut down (28”/mile)
  • Finish 26:00/mi=13 hours (7:45pm), 26:30/mi = 13.25h, 27:00/mi = 13.5 h, 28:00/mi = 14 h (8:45)
  • Ok to get assists on some obstacles (tall walls)
  • Burpee out of jungle gyms and ropes in middle of swing
  • Conserve on first lap – step up burpees

RACE Day

  • Eat 4:45  (oatmeal, milk, blueberries, 2 egg whites, 1c coffee)
  • Turnoff phone Bluetooth
  • Get to course ~ 6:00
  • Eat fuel for fire 6:15
  • Warmup 6:30

TO DO DURING TRANSITION

  • Changeout water bottles and bladder
  • Refill food and electrolytes
  • Eat chicken soup! Bring PB&J to eat

BRING BUT NOT FOR TRANSITION BIN

  • Critical spares bag – bring before race:
    • Contacts and solution
    • Fuel for fire for before race
    • Chargers for garmin watch, phone, headlamp, big battery recharge
    • Chafing cream
    • Foot lube
    • First aid in baggie –blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes, Scissors
    • Recoverite post race
    • Sunblock
    • Spare jacket
  • For hydration pack
    • First aid in baggie – liquid bandaid, blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes, Tylenol, TP
    • Water/tailwind
    • Spare jacket in baggie
    • Plastic cup
    • 4 gels (2 w/caffeine) + 2 cliff blocks (expect 8 hrs/leg worst case + 2 extra).  If decrease water during race, make sure compensate tailwind with food
    • 8×2+ spares Salt Stix condensed tabs
    • Three spare tailwinds in bags

TRANSITION BIN

  • Spare clothes: pants, shirt, long sleeve shirt, spare socks/shoes (altra lone peaks)
  • Critical spares bag:
    • Spare contacts & mirror
    • Hand sanitizer wipes
    • First aid – liquid bandaid, blister bandaid and moleskin, regular bandaid, antiseptic wipes
    • Toilet paper
    • Washrag in bag
  • Lap 1 bag (empty – dump whatever in it after)
  • Lap 2 bag
    • 4 gels, (2 w/caffeine) + 2 cliff block
    • 16+spares Salt Stix condensed tabs
    • Headlamp, Glow sticks
  • Spare food: Electrolytes, crackers, gels, RXbar,  PB&J (WHITE BREAD, honey, thin almond butter, banana) chicken soup & thermos, waffles
  • Garbage bag

Pacing – Not all Courses are Equal! & Stats

There are a lot of factors that influence your pace with the major ones being:

  • Road vs. Trail
  • Rocky/technical trail or easy trail
  • Hills or no hills
  • Obstacles
  • You’re better with training!!

I developed a simple way of comparing longer runs I’ve done to understand my pace in different situations.  One major factor is the elevation gain so I have calculated an elevation gain factor for each run which is:

elevation factor = total gain in feet/distance in miles

2019 History (arranged from flattest to most elevation gain/mile, T = technical rocky trail, O = included obstacles, pace is moving pace)

Pacing stat tracker pdf Page 001

What you CAN do after shoulder surgery – An athletes’ guide to recovery

It was difficult to find any online material around what you COULD do after rotator cuff surgery so I created a guide to help athletes realize there are options, especially around training legs (important for all you trail runners out there!).  I do crossfit, so the exercises noted relate to crossfit lingo –

Exercises after Shoulder Surgery – crossfit spin

Here is a video I made just before six weeks when I could take off the sling with some advice:

 

Remember, do NOT watch youtube videos about people saying how horrible the pain is.  I did and it made me afraid to take off my sling 2 days after surgery.  Turns out, with good breathing to help stretch out the arm the first time, it felt good, not bad.  Remember when doing anything you are afraid of, to breathe – my husband did it with me and helped lower my arm down a very small amount each breath out and it was absolutely fine.

He also became good at doing my hair!

Also note and discussed in another blog post, do NOT do a trail run after taking off the sling and being “freed.”  I did the same week and did a total face/side plan on a gravel trail (luckily on my good side) that could have been catastrophic had I fallen on my hurt side…play it safe on the road to recovery.

It’s Stressful Being a Spectator, AAR Killington Spartan Ultra 9/14/19

Around 6:30pm I emerged from the muddy woods after 25.6 miles, 12,141′ of hill climbs and 11:48 hours at a 27:41/mi avg pace, alone with my headlamp, happy as I did absolutely the best I could but tired and sad (crying) I didn’t finish, to find my sweet husband along with a few others clapping for me at the timeout obstacle.  I missed the time cut by over 30 min. He told me how proud he was with such sincerity. He told me he had been there for ~4 hours and spent the whole day scared something happened to me while listening to the radios of the race officials as people were carried down the mountains with dislocated shoulders, twisted ankles, etc and seeing the tired faces of people coming in.

Later, he said he was so happy and relieved when he first saw me smiling come down the mountain into the base area right for a few obstacles like sand bag carry before transition around 1:45.

He had been watching all kinds of people at the sandbag obstacle right there curse, and sit down unable to move, and struggle carrying the bag up/down the hill, and said he was so impressed at what good shape I was in.  He said it was exciting and almost made him want to do it too:)

In retrospect, his being proud of me (and my coach) means way more more to me than how far I went or what I actually accomplished.  I have done it – learned to love the journey more than the result.  And unfortunately for Kenny, his sign still applies:

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My own distinct memories of this run:

  • A man with a beautiful voice singing to me in the cold and rain as we hiked up a hill past transition on a lonely 2nd lap
  • A Wolverine, Duncan, who agreed to give up our college rivalries for a little comaraderie on the trail
  • My coaches note the night before that made me cry telling me that no matter what happens he is proud of all my hard work
  • I never hit a limit or was discouraged.  I got tired a few miles into the second loop but never thought about stopping
  • I learned early in loop 1 that you can’t afford to think about “doing it again” in loop 2 – ultra math doesn’t help so forget about it.
  • Going uphills are way easier when you walk uphills sideways 10 steps facing left, then turn and 10 right, slow and steady and sharing load between legs.  Nothing on my legs or knees got noticeably tired going uphill or downhill.  Now, the cumulative effect hit apparently me later but doing the many death marches wasn’t bad at all.  My feet – may lose the left foot big toenail.  The are on my right foot near bunion also still hurts a few days later – maybe larger toebox with Altras will help there.
  • I thought the Death March and the sandbag carries were not difficult
  • The Ultra loop had a steep uphill through a beautiful field with super tall wildflowers
  • Bring on the bad weather – I thrive in the worst conditions and the coldness and rain at the top was appreciated more than being a negative
  • My downhills had gotten way better with my rockster Inov8 X-Talon 260 Ultras allowing me to run while many slid down on their behind
  • Me and my fellow ultra runners found out about where/when the timeout was after it was impossible to adjust to make it.  I think we had 2 miles to go and only 30 min left.  We kept going anyway but knew we would get the hook.

What I will do differently next time:

  • Absolutely no regrets this race – thrilled with how I did – but will be a little smarter next time.  I want to be able to say I am an ultra runner but it will not be today.
  • Will not leave my light jacket in transition – should always have that in questionable weather.  I froze on second loop after swim and this may have slowed me down a lot.  Debriefed with coach today and had forgotten to tell him that.  I wasn’t sure why I was going so much slower than first loop when I felt great at transition – have no reference for “bonking” and was thinking I didn’t drink or eat enough.
  • I was starving on 2nd loop.  I should have eaten more food/grabbed my PB&J and eaten it on the run.  Just had chicken soup and didn’t really feel rejuvenated.  Definitely need extra gels for 2nd loop to account for unknown extra mileage or extra fuel needs 2nd half

My dreams second loop!! of my jacket and PB&J

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  • I cut back my water after around mile 10 as I started to get dizzy and thought I was overhydrating….I may not have caught up on the extra carbs by eating more though.  Need to bring extra gels and figure out the right water intake based on temperature for my body or figure out why I got dizzy
  • Need to work on longer term strength/endurance with perhaps more mountain runs and get my upper body back in shape to be able to do all the obstacles to bring my pace down.  I ran at 27:41 pace and my friend finished at a 26:30 and had consistency between 1st and 2nd laps (while I slowed a lot).
  • Take better inventory of water and electrolytes before and after.  I just threw in extra electrolyte tabs and dumped my lap 1 water cleaning up.  Now that I want to figure out the dizziness thing, I am missing data!!
  • Do age group to get an extra 30-45 min for cutoffs
  • Every time you can, push a little faster as this could have allowed me to finish/wasn’t sure how to pace myself and as I was going faster than plan, I thought I would be fine.  By the time I realized I was going to time out, it was too late to catch up
  • I didn’t know how to time the second lap.  Next time, get the name of the timeout obstacle and time it from the start so you know how far to get there from transition, that way you can pace yourself to make the cut.  I didn’t know where it was/how far from transition to know if I’d make it or not until it was too late.

A little time history of the last week:

When I saw the race profile released around Wed, I got scared as it became real and showed 16000 ft!

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But proper training and planning brought me back to calm confidence before the race:

Details of my plan here: killington 2019 bucket planning

Got there early to checkin Friday and had an amazing dinner at The Foundry:

Then after getting up at 4am to eat and prep for a 6:45 start, met everyone at the race:

Once again, had to face the wall to even get to the starting line – a wall that makes my arms shaky as I lift myself over it – what if I can’t get over it to even start the race?!?!

Nothing so different on obstacles (or burpees!)  – here are a few Kenny caught:

The day started out warmer than expected at around 53F but forecast rain before noon that would clear up a few hours.  I hadn’t really planned on a jacket and brought one in a plastic bag if needed (it was – at the top which had high winds and rain) but need to get a smaller one for next time.  Rain didn’t clear up and it got colder so leaving my jacket in transition bucket became a mistake (lesson learned).

This muddy hill prior to the Death March had been just field debris the first time I went down it and became a muddy nightmare the second.  and Death March.

It was a good day and I am proud of it.  I left with a DNF.  No medal.  No recognition at all in race results.  No recognition I did 10 miles more than the Beast.  I don’t need any of that to know what I did.  I raced further than I ever had before with twice as much elevation that I’d ever done under my planned pace.  I crushed the hills and downhills and never gave up (although a few tears were shed).  It quickly went from thinking ” I don’t really need to do it again” to “hell, yes I have to do it….”

The Race:

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Post race emotions:  Felt proud even while timing out, then cried I didn’t make it, felt proud all night, woke up crying and tired and emotional.  Felt pretty good rest of day, then cried all night and en route to work.  Felt better then way better after speaking with coach….. I have gotten the post race blues and love the activity/discussion after a big race but miss the thing that brings so many people I truly love being with together.  Must plan more and keep the team theme going!!

I am just so happy with all I’ve learned this year (remember crying in the basement when you couldn’t remove and put your rear tire back on? remember spending hours figuring out accessories required like cadence meters to use zwift or what trail shoes or or what hydration packs are….?  remember repeatedly falling while learning how to run rocky paths and crying on the side of the trail while people laughed at you? remember the first time you ran Z2 and thought how could this help me….and then realizing I had only run one speed for the last 30 years and maybe there was a better approach :)…..on and on).  I am a goal oriented person.  I am also always afraid so learning also means being afraid a lot or as I like to say to myself, means having courage a lot of the time because it’s extra hard for me.  I like being ordered around a little and being around people who know way more than I do and who will put up with me even if I slow them down. Remember the late night my coach tricked me and had me do 9+ miles of intervals that took an entire Friday night 🙂 Remember the absolute gut wrenching fear of running up Nashoba (my new best friend)?

enough rambling.  Ready to move forward with no fear.  to nourish the new friendships and to build on what I have done this last year and recover what I have lost thru my adult life with my shoulder and posture issues.  I will come out stronger in the end and keep working towards my best self.  I would love to feel like I am helping others as well and really enjoyed coaching my BLF (best little friend) thru the OCR course so perhaps I can help younger women get stronger mentally for work and physically for life…. a new career path!

There are only the trained and untrained.  who are you?  I AM TRAINED!  (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire)