Category Archives: Becoming Badass

The Walking Dead and Getting Shoulder Surgery While I Still Have Insurance 6-30-20

NEC Energy Solutions Corporate HQ in Japan announced 2 weeks ago that they are “winding down” our smallish startup.  I am not sure if I will have a job for a week or 2 years at this point.  Strangest year ever continues.

So June 26 I got my right shoulder rotator cuff and bicep reattached.  My goal of doing a 50 miler remains for this year.  I will do Kilkenney Ridge one way as  a practice run.

#Seenlocal #Seensolo at Beaver Brook 6-14-20….Growing Forward

“In his book On Trails: An Exploration, Robert Moor writes, ‘In the end, we are all existential pathfinders: We select among the paths life affords, and then, when those paths no longer work for us, we edit them and innovate as necessary. The tricky part is that while we are editing our trails, our trails are also editing us.’ The choices we make, make us. We get to edit our paths, innovate them. We get to choose the story we tell about our lives—and the paths we choose, the story we tell, changes us too.”

Here I am again, at another crossroads in life.  My company announced its’ “wind down” last week and I am not sure if I will have this job for a week or a year still.  I am back in a “comfortable” place I have been frequently the last 11 years after I left the “safety” of GE and excited about what is to come.  It is the first time in a while I’ve had a “normal” transition out of a job, vs. ending a consulting engagement where you really aren’t part of the company and its nice to be with friends going through the same transition.  NEC has been the best team I ever worked with.

When I started trail running last year, I saw the movie “A Star is Born”, which broke my heart thinking about my friend Gunter, and listened over and over to the song “shallow” which talks about diving into the deep end and never meeting the ground.  I felt like that all last year – being afraid…committing to something I didn’t fully appreciate or know how to do.  I had set a goal, the Killington Ultra, having never done anything like it and just determined to trust my coach and try.  Finish or leave my body on the mountain – and this doesn’t mean failure, it meant doing my very best and not giving up ever.  Through all of last year, I found new friends, a love of trail running and the fun of problem solving myself.

I found the introductory paragraph and the following in a running blog:

https://www.crowathletics.com/the-caw/2020/6/12/defying-gravity-by-kelly-grogan?fbclid=IwAR3jRZzlFQF4O8wcWBfCIvSdCiri2Y_J0NNo9RFsJXsCqTAzBjy-9xViRAg

The author talks about finding someone with the “…spirit of approfondement—if I may borrow that marvelous French word that translates roughly as ‘playing easily in the deep.'”

You follow your heart, be happy about what you have, who you have in your life, and grow forward.  Learn to be good being in uncomfortable situation – it is something I hire for now.

Today was a beautiful, cool sunny day and I did my Sunday run on some new trails at Beaver Brook.  It was spectacularly beautiful.  As I think about updating my resume, I realize I need to rethink this as I am not the same person I was four years ago – better I think, I hope and definitely changed. And not afraid at all to go deep.

Tied Bike Hill Record 6-6-20 and New Gear

Just when I was certain I am weaker than last year inexplicably, I tied my cycling hill record by Silver Lake 1:40 on Saturday, near the beginning of an 85″ bike ride.  YES!  I also got a new yellow watch band AND best of all, a new way to attach my phone to the bike for long runs when I need extra battery life with navigation.

Introducing the new quadlock system with extra components to sandwich in my big battery.  My phone, even in airplane mode, with GPS lasts less than 90 min.  This may not be the most aerodynamic solution but it is great for me and I am very excited to have battery life while riding.

I also realized that mapmyride has no vocal navigation so think I need to download map to google map to get turns called out.  Strange that no cycling app has figured this out yet.

 

Running on a Bottle 5-17-20

The world seems to be falling apart.  Corona virus still rampaging.  Crazies protesting wearing a mask.  Still working from home.  The idiot President and lack of sensible plans across the US.  Even though I sit here in my peaceful Hollis home, I almost can’t stand watching any news.  So this Sunday I had a glass of peach wine from the winery by my sisters’ house after a long day gardening.  Then another.  Then a few hours later two more until the bottle was gone. I was then thinking I should do my long run Monday instead but….  postponing is for the weak right?!  I set out around 7:30pm for my 80″ run around the hood at 180 cadence.  Miles 2-3 were a little tough…hard to keep steady but I did it.

Lessons learned:  Drinking OK prior to running.

Recovery, Menopause Amidst Corona

This is day 86 since I was last in work.  We went on vacation in the Philippines and then I was quarantined when I returned and then right as I was about to go back, the entire company was sent home.  Every Friday night we ask each other what we want to do and answer “Stay In!”  I am having issues wearing bras now (so uncomfortable) and accidentally putting my clothes on inside out:

We roll out of bed already in our work clothes and go to it!  All the deliverers (fedex, usps, ups, etc) are crazy busy with home deliveries so things take longer, also as the companies may not be up and running you order from online.

I follow Andrew Cuomo, Governor of NY, as he has united a block of states on the east coast (unfortunately not NH as our republican senator chooses to go alone) to have an orderly, and scientific reopening plan.  He does daily updates with facts and real data vs. the joke of a President, who uses his daily updates for propaganda, lies and to promote himself and the “good job” the Federal Government has done (not).  Tests are not available, there is no formal guidance to the states, the states haven’t been funded, moneys have gone to big businesses, unemployment process is overwhelmed with over 20% of the population applying, and no support with coordination of supply chain for critical PPE or tests.

I used to go to the grocery, Market Basket, early on the weekend and would be practically alone in there.  Now I get up at 6:30 and get there around 6:50 to already find this line, socially distanced at 6′ between each, waiting to get in after the 6-7am early opening for elderly (of which I am almost one!).  I find:

  • Only a certain number allowed in store so someone counts people going in and coming out – only one entrance allowed for this to be possible.
  • Meat limited to 2 of each type/customer as meat plants are shutting down all over the country due to COVID – close proximity of the workers has spread it fast.  Trump ordered them all open this week without requiring employers to follow safer working practices as dictated by the CDC – do your job and possibly die or don’t do it and get fired.
  • Market Basket has their deli/fish counters open.  Hannaford does not.
  • Plenty of empty space on shelves as everyone appears to be buying toilet paper, sanitary wipes, any fast food meals like Ramen noodles, yeast not to be found anywhere (I ordered a 2lb bag online), pasta, soups.  Plenty of healthy food though like vegetables and grains!
  • Everyone at MB wearing masks but Hannafords was a free for all with noone monitoring number of people in the store and many without masks.  Hannafords did have food that MB did not like popcorn, peanuts, more meat.
  • Reusable bags not allowed.  I bring a wipe to clean the cart handle before and after I use it.

After my shoulder surgery was delayed, I decided to go all in and work out like crazy, which then almost broke me.  I was so rickety I could barely walk in the evenings.  Not sure why – in March, when I was in NC I had a glass of wine, which I swear threw me into hot flash hell.  One an hour, which makes my sleep crap.  That, combined with perhaps unacknowledged stress of the 24/7 bad news, has taken its toll.  We geared back the workouts (also because all races seem to be cancelled this year) into maintenance and I am trying to improve sleep (Tylenol PMs working well last two days) and do some meditation during the day.

Love the drama of running the trails – did a 65″ workout in the Hollis trails last weekend starting from the North Cemetary and running to trails across from Silver Lake for a short loop and going back:

I have my buff to cover my face when passing others….

Since working out less with weights and just trying to feel good every day, I have had a few good runs where I don’t feel tired all the time.  Hard to untangle if it is age, overtraining, general stress or this menopause!

 

 

Freedom in the Woods, 1st Trail Run April 19, 2020

I’ve been running around my neighborhood several times a week.  In and around each cul de sac multiple times a night….around and around.  With my 2.25 hour long run today, I broke free of the neighborhood and ran down to my home course 3 mile loop.  The soft pine needles under my feet felt great!  I remembered why I love the trails so much…. Note that the day before we had snow pummeling down that melted in a few short hours.  The run started out so cold I could have used gloves but ended up peeling off the fleece after a few miles and being comfortable in just a long sleeve rashguard.

Despite the fact noone is supposed to be out, I saw plenty of cars still.  To get there, I had to run 2 miles each way down a typically very busy road with, in some places, a very small berm.

Ended up still going around and around my neighborhood 🙂  My neighbor called me a chicken about going up a hill around the corner so I had to do it….finished in front of the forsythia!

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I am still struggling with hip pain so did two romwods prior to the run and then had a little soak in the hottub after.  Note that with the corona virus and Kennys’ dad passing away, I cancelled my shoulder surgery and spent the next few weeks working out very hard to see what I could do even with the shoulder.  I rehurt my shoulder and last week was so worn out I could hardly do anything.  Took it easy this week and next with no strength work and extra mobility.  Despite me feeling like an old woman with my aches and pains, it is perfect training grounds out here in NH!  Then, although I was tired and walking a bit slow, spent 4 hours mulching….which is another blog.  Let’s celebrate progress – last year at this time, I would have been absolutely crippled with lower back pain.  At least my lower back pain is gone after running due to all the single legged exercises I’ve been doing.  It does come back after doing strength training….What’s the fun if it was easy?!

Train on!

 

 

That’s What Love Is … and Weathering Corona Virus

Craziest March I’ve ever known.  I haven’t been at work for six weeks now with at least another two more and suspect this “stay at home” order due to Corona virus will be extended thru April. Kenny has been in SC with his family the last month (since the day after we returned from the Philippines).

Kenny’s dad passed away March 20, 2020.  Love is caring for someone the last days of their life.  I watched this every day I was down there as they took care of him and calmed him when he “woke up” in distress. Big Ken passed away quietly surrounded by his mom and kids, Kenny and Barbara.

On the Corona virus front, the situation is escalating in NYC and across the US. I think it will only get worse the next few weeks, especially with the absolute failure of the federal govt to coordinate state activities – it is a free for all right now.  I was worried about Kenny driving home up the east coast tomorrow but he does have an essential worker letter.  Despite that grim situation, spring is coming and hellebores and snowdrops are outside.  The snow finally melted this week – we got a heavy 10″ last Monday that took down a bunch of limbs:

Honestly, working and being at home is fine with me and not so different from what I would normally do.  Yesterday I did some spring leaf raking and drug all the huge branches out of the yard.

Because of the closing of gyms, my home equipment is expanding with the addition of a bosu ball, several kettlebells, and more dumbbells.  While I was in SC, I have to say I loved the garage wods (did them all with the cat Pepper) and ran some hills with sandbag.  My nephew Jaime did a 2 hr run/bike with me

Equipment updates:  Love the new bosu ball, which has exposed how weak my right side is and the KB workouts and quotes from  Pavel:

“enjoy the pain”

“exercise good judgement or stay on the machines you sissy”

“kettlebells are used to weed out the weakness of the Russian gene pool”

Finally I have my 20# weighted vest and did a 40 min run which kicked my ass!

On the running/workout community side, I finally met someone from the nashua/hollis running groups and did a long run with Rita:

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After the Philippines, Amanda Jacob and I have continued our morning workout tradition on saturday mornings.  I got a whiteboard to use outside and we’ve been social distancing in the driveway this week:

I need to find someone to do tempo runs and intervals with!  I spent March working more on strength, realizing I had been punting on that with my shoulder, and just tried.  Worked well until I reinjured my shoulder this week and can’t lift it (felt fine during workout but maybe the 75 overhead presses, 60 pushups, and 60 DB chest presses from floor were too much.  This may be an incentive to move up the surgery – I had been thinking that maybe I didn’t need it…

 

Laura’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (Week)

Note I am having a very bad week (relatively speaking) – I know I am very lucky and am appreciative of my health, my family, my friends…but:
  • I am back at work vs. being on an awesome vacation in the Philippines watching the sunrise on a sandy beach
  • Kennys dad went into hospice so he is helping his parent out for a few weeks.  Not good.  Pushed out shoulder surgery.  This changes my whole years’ plan.  I’m alone in the country without any cats….
  • I am banned from work for being in Asia so being treated like an outcast.  This actually works better for me giving me back 2 hrs in a day…. I know this.
  • Serious jet lag and issues sleeping – burnt my salmon dinner to a crisp while falling asleep at 6pm, waking up around 11 and being up until 4am.  Thank goodness I can roll out of bed at 7:30-8 and work in my pajamas
  • Feeling like I have the very start of a cold – or possibly corona virus!!!!! Not sure if my unusual crippled status after the long run Saturday was jet lag, due to scuba diving decompression, the beginnings of being sick or what.  I’ve felt weird this week after workouts – unusually tired.
  • Thought Monday as a normal day off and it wasn’t so I missed my workout
  • Having “serious” equipment issues with
    • my HR monitor refusing to work
    • bike setup – just spent 30 min at 10 pm trying to get it projecting zwift to TV for various reasons (partly because I’m old and with my exercise contacts in, I can’t see the cable outlet names to change the TV settings to read in the signal from the apple TV device vs. what Kenny flips it to to watch movies while he’s on the adjacent rower…..again, old age).
    • My butt also hurts because I haven’t been on the bike that much.
    • I also had to work super hard to keep a basic 90 rpm – that used to be easy and now, just like running, I am struggling to do the basics of what I did last year.
  • I have this polyp thing (woman issue) requiring a simple day surgery that I can do now with shoulder pushout do but they won’t schedule it for 2 months, which means I continue to have a period like every day for 2 more months – that sucks (TMI I know)
  • Trying to be strict on nutrition – afraid to get on scale after vacation (I was very sensible by thet way and did exercise almost every day).  Must drop at least 5 lbs.  Ate an entire batch of cookie dough this week – total fail but hit macros yesterday 🙂
  • I’m reading this book “endure” which basically says that everything is my fault – that I could be a world class runner as its all mental…..
And my coach wants me to run a record mile time despite me being a minute slower despite hard effort in the recent weeks.  Is it mental?  My body is stuck in slow mode and hes trying to break me out of it.
At least I have my new Toto toilet (higher to help my quads when they hurt sitting down), and Toto washlet that sprays, heats, lights up and keeps itself clean.

Best Mornings Ever and Avoiding Decompression Sickness in the Philippines

Oh, I’ll miss this! 5:30am Coffee.  Watch the sunrise. Then we would head out for a morning run before the first dive.  I found some good friends there – Amanda and Jake – to share the sunrises and to sweat with up stairs, on the rooftops, up mountains and on the beach.

We did 3-5 dives a day for 10 days down to 98′ in Puerto Galera and Dumaguete. There appears to be a lack of science behind exercising before diving.  After diving, some data shows that if you do intense exercise, you increase risk of microbubbles in your bloodstream which put you at risk for decompression sickness (DCS).  DAN recommends not exercising 24 hours before and after diving to reduce the residual nitrogen in tissues and blood.  Normal air is 21% O2, 78% Nitrogen.  Every 33′ in depth, the pressure due to nitrogen increases by 11.6 psi causing more of it to dissolve into tissues.  Affects of this can be mitigated by:

  • Following dive tables (time at depth, surface time)
  • Diving with nitrox (31% oxygen to reduce total amount of nitrogen being inhaled)
  • Not ascending too fast and doing safety stop
  • Not flying until 18 hrs after diving
  • No hard exercise after diving
  • Hydrate!
  • Avoid alcohol

Think of what happens when you open a soda can, which releases pressure.  This effect is similar as to what causes DCS when you don’t moderate the release of pressure.

We chose to ignore the before and did around 45″ of pre-dive crossfit/running daily and didn’t suffer any affects.  Add that to the scientific data!

Signs of decompression sickness (DCS):

  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, confusion
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Inability to urinate
  • Ear ringing

I also think its BS when people say diving burns 400-700 cal/hr.  People may be tired from the sun, exposure to cool water, but it is not due to exertion.

We were just three crazies running with the hounds on the white sands.

In Puerto Galera, we did a stair circuit including rooftop pushups, burpees, air squats and jumping lunges.  What a beautiful view from the roof!

There was also a 3 mile loop up the mountain (320′ elevation) behind us with amazing views up top, a run through town, and a run along the beach at the end:

The diving itself was amazing;

When we were in Dumaguete, we spent one day running partially up a mountain next to farms with chicken and oxen, passing families on motorinos…

Then decided beach runs were more fun and more scenic!  Had one day doing short runs incorporated into 4 rounds of a crossfit workout involving pushups, air squats, planks, burpees and others with just a long run or a run made up of sprints:

Never got tired of that sunrise…

I did lose 1.5 days in bed due to what I think was sickness/nausea due to the water 🙂  It has been a struggle this year emotionally – perhaps because of the upcoming shoulder surgery, or long nights, or ?  This was a great trip also because we just exercised for fun.  I did a long run day we flew out, missed it next weekend just because there wasn’t time, and did a 1:50 run day after we returned so got them all in per training plans.

Who wants to be average?!

It hurts way less than that Nashoba hill… Mental prep for lactate threshold runs

Last week I was working in London and had a 30″ tempo run.  My coaches notes said “you will need to be VERY focused and maintain concentration throughout the run.  Get amped up before going!”  These 5k type speed runs are my most dreaded workout.  I was listening to a podcast where a 100-200 miler was being interviewed and she said she’d rather run 100 miles than do a 5k.  They’re hard!!  I’m out of my element these days.  Mentally I’m pissed because when I was 17, I could run 8″/mile pace for as long as I wanted and I struggle to get that for just one mile today.

I have to get past comparing myself to when I was 17.  I know this 🙂

I had a few revelations around/in this run:

  • It should be fun.  Holler, smile, say hello to folks.  Have a more positive attitude knowing you will be better for doing it and don’t take it too seriously.  I am an amateur after all – back of the pack right now so I can only get better!
  • In the middle of the run I compared myself to what I felt like running up that 2 min Nashoba hill and realized I was way, way better off.  This was not even painful.  That put things in perspective.  That hill is my new comparative for what being close to utter failure feels like (that day stays in my head I almost literally fell over about 30′ from the top from poor pacing).  It wasn’t that bad really.
  • I’ve been wheezing and my breath is more limiting than my legs so I may get an inhaler to help out in this cold weather.

I ended up doing a 9:13/mile pace, way faster than the 9:37/mile I did 12/25/19.  It also takes time to get your pacing back and acclimate to speed work after the long runs.  I was pretty discouraged at my start of year benchmarks but after a few weeks, I think I am better than last year.  I also researched a little on how these extra 10 lbs affect me, which I calculate as being worth 2 s/mile/pound or a good 20-30 seconds.  Working that.

I ran around and around St. James Park, which has just spectacular huge trees, beautiful against the moonlight.

There is always fun/drama during the run.  I got slightly slowed in second mile as I started to pace with the ducks quacking!  My eyes cried a few times for no reason, and I think concentrating on not tripping and falling took my mind off the run.  Good effort with 30 s/mile improvement since December 25 for same distance!

Hello Old Friend, 2/2/20

It’s been a while since we’ve spent time together!  Nashua rail trail has been a steady place to do longer flat runs but I left it in June of last year to hit the trails and mountains.  Doing 80″ “long” Sunday runs adding 10 min a week – around the same time as last year but in Z3 vs. Z2 and @ 180 cadence (last year I didn’t start using metronome until spring).  Keeping up the cadence adds pressure for sure!

Lesson learned last year:  You will always be tired at the end of a workout.  You will always think, if I’m this tired at this distance/time, how will I ever make it for as long as I need to go….. but you will.  Doing intervals, doing hills will never be “easy” but your recovery after will be shorter.  Last year, I would have been absolutely crippled for the rest of day with my lower back issues – mostly resolved!

Progress.

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

This has all gone to hell with the corona virus!!

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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Daring Greatly vs. DNF. And Goggins Got me Again With His MOAB 240 Results…

Daring Greatly.  Much better classification than DNF.  Trying something you are afraid of.  Showing Up.

So Goggins had to “recertify as a fucking savage” and signed up for MOAB 240.  Besides going off trail for ~14 miles and then moving back up to the top 10, he had to go to the hospital around course mile 200 because of a heart issue where he was told to rest and not go back up to altitude.  He went out the next day and finished the race (although unofficially).  He does things that make me crazy.

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 🙂

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:

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Recommended:

 

Not recommended – can’t finish:

broken