Category Archives: Becoming Badass

Crew Lesson Learned “Not to be here for the next race” Hamsterwheel 11/6/21

I didn’t know I had it in me. I’m a quarter mile into the last 4 mile loop (mile 48) and my headlamp starts blinking. I stop dead in my tracks as the path ahead is pitch black – it’s about 11pm with 4 dark miles ahead. Will it last? How long will my flashlight work in 30F cold….back at the aid station I had mistakenly thought it is a great backup because I was too lazy to carry the backup headlamp I KNEW I should take because I didn’t have my pack….then I remembered in my notes that historically it lasted less than 30 min on a cold day. Should I call Kenny and have him walk over and give me the backup headlamp? That would delay me and I just want to be done! I’m so stupid!!! I’m so stupid – I know better! I can’t believe I am going to be stuck in the dark AGAIN… I just start running fast hoping it would last.

I had no idea I had it in me. My Garmin died mile 48 so I have no record of this amazing pace I know I did. It didn’t hurt or anything but I was fast! This proves being tired is mental because I sure found it in me to haul some ass. I caught up with two women and asked if I could hang out with them and their light. They had an extra hand torch and loaned it to me so I was off for the rest of the loop.

52 miles, 15:03 hours done! Felt great first 30 miles and slowed a little last 20 but no hip pain, just sore feet. A HUGE SUCCESS!!

PLANNING DOC

CLOTHING/GEAR/TEMPS

  • Temps 28F at starting warming 5F per hour to 50F then back down at night. Wore short sleeved shirt with ultra lightweight smartwool shirt, gloves, hat and pack for first 2 laps then just shortsleeve xoskin with basic tights (not thermal). Later, I put on Arcteryz overpant (which wasn’t good as I had a hard time accessing pockets), and a basic fleece over my xoskin short sleeve and over the lightweight smartwool long sleeve. It was perfect temp control. I think although the temps were the same at night as when the race started, I needed the extra fleece layer because I was more tired.
  • Used Altra Lonepeak 5.0 size 10 with lacing to give bunion extra room and Darn Tough socks.
  • We brought one director chair and one high table as our aid station

Stat Summary and Comparison to Stonecat 50k I did in Nov of 2019:

WELLNESS/PAIN POINTS:

  • I was sick during Stonecat and had a ton of hip pain – last 15 miles were a true sufferfest.  Hip pain was #1 major performance issue I worked on solving since that race and I am still managing it but have made clear progress.  Also had a little cramping issues in every race in 2019 which I didn’t have this year.  I also had dizziness issues after about 5 hrs I didn’t have this year.
  • In Hamsterwheel, I felt hip a little but basically no hip pain at all even with 20 more miles.  Main issue at Hamsterwheel was bottom foot pain.  I also had general poorer performance (speed) in 2021 in general due to a long year of work stress but faster at this distance.  Zero cramping issues in 2021 (due to being stronger/more rugged in general?).

STRATEGY:

  • I tried to run straight in Stonecat.  Walked a good bit of last 5 miles in Stonecat
  • Used run/walk intervals (30s run/30s walk) in Hamsterwheel and ran all the way through 50 miles at Hamsterwheel (I think this is a big accomplishment).  This is why I thought my overall first 30 miles would be a ton better at Hamsterwheel….
  • Same basic food and hydration strategy, I just ate more after 5 hours and after 12 hrs this year (chicken noodle soup, apples/mini cliff bar, PB&J).  Worked great at Hamsterwheel, only one 4 mile lap with minor stomach issue.
Around mile 24 starting to layer up for the dark! Felt great!

OVERALL TIME and feeling at end of race: Hamsterwheel was 18 min faster in first 30 miles – this is less improvement than I thought it would be (a little disappointed here).  I wonder what it could be if my overall stress levels were normal!! Opportunity!

  • Biggest difference is I felt pretty good at mile 30 vs. being destroyed at Stonecat with hip pain.  I wouldn’t call any miles at Hamsterwheel suffering.  Feeling basically good at the end of a 50k race was a goal. 
  • I did not have a ton in me to really push at the end of Hamsterwheel like I did at Kilkenney where I felt I could have gone a lot faster the whole race but was being careful to avoid hip issues and to just feel OK whole rade.  Based on my faster speed unrecorded due to dead Garmin when I thought my headlamp was dying at Hamsterwheel, maybe there is some mental toughness to help me speed up at later stages of a race because I could and did go a lot faster for a mile.

PACE:

  • Way more consistent in Hamsterwheel slowing only about a minute a mile each 10 mile set (see sheet) up until 30 miles.  Stonecat slowed  2 min/mile then 4 mi/mile each 10 miles.  This is a big improvement as I want to be consistent. What is a “normal slowdown?”
  • Hamsterwheel only: Big slowdown in 30-40 miles with almost 4min/mile avg delta – some of that was prolonged aid station eating and clothing changes.  Delta from 40-50 was only about a minute slower.

ISSUES

  •  Need help with how to manage feet.  Had I gone on, I definitely would have had issues with blisters as I had several hot spots at mile 48 so need to learn what I should have done around mile 45 to stop them (ie. apply tape?  apply the blister padded bandaids?).  Wore Altra Lone Peak 5.0s. Should I have changed into shoes with more padding – I just got the Altra Olympus which are much more cushioned?  Note I continue to keep sizing up in shoe size wearing a 10 this year vs. a 9.5 last year as my toes have been taking a pounding on mountain runs.  I also changed how I tie shoelaces to give more room for my right foot bunion, which still hurt in this race….bunion ideas?
  • For some reason at Hamsterwheel, I had to go to the bathroom every 4 miles and once on trail which is way more frequent then normal.... maybe because the porta potties were there?  I did hydrate exactly per plan per hour in this race – maybe drank too much in colder weather?
  • Garmin crapped out after 14 hrs. I should have turned off HR tracking – see separate blog on this. I kept alerts. Phone though lasted the whole thing which shocked me – I didn’t use it and kept next to my body in tight pocket.
  • Used new “Gymboss Charge” interval timer which I had tried out two days before to make sure I could feel it if in my pocket. It was so cold during race though that I couldn’t feel it so ended up holding it the whole race.
  • Headlamp battery lasted about 5-6 hrs. I should have carried several spares.
  • 2/3 of my crew quit – make sure you get dependable crew!
  • Replacement water was too cold – froze my hands. Kenny ended up holding the water bottles up to heat lamps to help warm them up – need a heat source.
  • Food was great: Ate cliff bloks and cliff bar minis whole race with added chicken soup and noodles after mile 30 along with apple pieces and PB&J. Managed to get rid of big hunger I normally get.
  • Nighttime running is lonely – can’t see who the other people are. Need a pacer at night!

THE CREW

I had recruited 3 but only Kenny remained on race day and had flown in the night before with a huge headache. I woke him up at 6am to get going! His main takeaway the next day was “To be gone the next race” – ha! He was awesome although we did have some early communication issues, he spent 15 hours on his feet and dealt with a LITTLE grumpiness when I came in to the find my chair covered in stuff or extra things on the food table. I had to explain that I was like a formula 1 car coming into a pit stop and his job was to be Johnny on the Spot and get me back out there!

Some super awesome things he did for me and the race director:

  • Left just after the start to get his Quadcopter to take overall pics of the race (although this made him miss me coming in after 8, 12 miles…our first communication discussion as I was looking forward to seeing his handsome face!)
  • Left around 2pm to go get me a pair of Aftershokz bluetooth headsets so I could listen to music later – with all the people on the course, it was rude to play it out loud as I usually do. I benchmarked several folks and this was their recommendation. So happy to have them later when it was dark and I couldn’t see anyone and miles 32-36 were the longest in history….he drove to Manchester and charged them up for me!
  • He ran 2nd to last lap with me to give me something to look forward to and to keep me company in the home stretch! His fast walking was faster than my running at that point. He dealt with me telling him to quit walking so fast that he was putting pressure on me, etc 🙂 He was told to just talk about anything like our trip to Italy but somehow, this Irishman who takes hours to leave a party, couldn’t think of much to talk about with me (haha!). He brought up training for some reason and I gave it to him saying I was focused on finishing, not talking about training and more work! Poor, sweet husband that I love so much!
  • During my last lap when I had all the headlamp drama, he packed up all our gear and warmed up the car so I could just walk in and go home. When I finished, I was standing there saying “I can’t stand up any longer – have to sit down!!!!”
  • I owe him big and I do appreciate this man of mine who put up with all my grumpiness and took such good care of me

How to Save Garmin Battery Life

Hamsterwheel race Garmin lasted 14 hours in temps ranging from 28F to 50F throughout the day/night – crapped out on last lap of 4 miles! I should have turned off HR monitor. Garmin is 2 yrs old.

How to save battery life:

  1. Lower backlight timer: sett/sys/backlight/during activity/8 sec
  2. turnoff bluetooth/notifications: sett/phone/status=OFF **this is the one you put on/off before and after race
  3. Turnoff HR monitor: sett/sens + acc/wrist HR=OFF
  4. Turnoff activity tracking: sett/activity track=OFF

Note: How to set alerts: sett/act+apps/run/run settings/alerts

I always have time = 15 min, distance =1 mile for RUN

bike = 15 min, 5 miles

My training is what it is! Day before Hamsterwheel 11/5/21

I trained my ass off all summer for Kilkenny in Sept and then a week after the race my wheels fell off with my work stress and trip to NH to help out mom.

This is an experiment: Does 2 weeks of not so great training (good bikes on weekend, aborted long runs and one good last long run with my trail marathon last weekend) result in a good race or does the 2 lost weeks negate all the months before??

I am remembering all the training and miles I have done.

I have a new interval timer and am going to try out the minute running, 30 s power walking strategy (tested last night). I got the book by Jeff Galloway and had been doing 1 mile, 1 minute or 2 miles, 2 minutes and found out this isn’t right. Apparently any walk over 30 second doesn’t really help much. It was stressful watching my watch so this auto vibrator should be awesome. Maybe it will make these 50 miles EASY!

2/3 of my crew bailed. I am left with my man, Kenny! Easiest crewing ever with this loop. I just want my own food and water/tailwind. I practiced writing up crew instructions:

Above is a tracking sheet so they can watch my speed, etc. I plan to come in about once per hour so it’s pretty easy on this course!

Last month hasn’t been pretty. Drinking wine, eating Halloween candy, super stressed from work and little sleep. But I’ve tried to recover this last week and feel good I’ll make it, just not sure how much of a sufferfest it will be!

Out of Gas 10/17 and 10/24/21

Two darn weekends in a row I have run out of gas during my Sunday long run. Yesterday I made it 2.5 hrs out of 7. Every step was a struggle. I had done 5 hrs biking day before and felt fine.

This stinking job is crushing me. We had a fire discharge at our largest site a week and a half ago. Another full time job I am covering. Didn’t do any workouts T-F last week while working 12 hour days.

I feel like a failure because I am failing at getting this situation under control. I am so tired, I don’t think I am a good manager for those working for me.

I am doing my best until the 50 miler 11/6 and we’ll see if a little rest does me good!

Despite being tired, it was a beautiful two weeks of fall.

63 Mile Bike Record! 10/16/21

Five hour cycle in a roundabout way to Groton MA and back, 2575′ elevation. Forgot to turn on my garmin after a stop or two so mileage is not exactly right.

Except for a sore bottom and the beginnings of a blister burn on my hands, this felt great! Not easy either with the rolling hills….Did the almost identical route 10/23/21 and Garmin said 2900′ elevation.

This was truly almost like one of the first real fall days with pine leaves and leaves falling – being whipped into my face while riding and covering the ground. I did a small portion of the rail trail which has now become perilous with all the leaves.

Came home to cheers from Kennys family who was visiting for Erin’s wedding! Felt great!

Trail Thoughts

Someone asked me last week what I think about when you’re out on a long run. It actually stumped me.

Well some pretty deep thinking occurred on my 25 mile race I just finished (Kilkenney Ridge 25M) – the following is a compilation of some thinking done during this race and during training for it:

A few hours talking about what we want to do when we finish….warm/soft slippers…

Or how we’ll feel when we finish….awesome!

I had made a huge new music playlist I did not use at all

Sometimes I listen to ultrarunner podcasts or audiobooks (if not on a road)

What we want at the next aid station (potato chips, quesadillas…)

Other races run or future races

Personal history of husbands

These mosquitoes/flies are killing me! Did I just eat one?

OMG! Those are spider eyes reflecting off my headlamp – they are everywhere

Vacations

Chafing issues

Let me help this frog get out of the road

Beautiful or horrible landscaping or scenery

Where to pee

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 switch to left, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 counting uphills right to left feet (never look up ahead, just one foot in front of the other)

Mad at someone at work….then remembering to love everyone and feeling better

If I’m this tired now, how am I going to feel in another 15 miles (quickly squashed that train of thinking!)

I’m hungry….did I eat the last hour? Once you get past hour 3, they fly by

Need to take electrolytes

Need to drink more

Turn off that Garmin 180 metronome/no way we’re hiking that fast on this race!

Photo op! Don’t drop my phone in the lake….

Who cares about the spur trail to a view, carry on! We want to finish

How close am I to last place?

Pets

Once a run, call Kenny out of breath, sometimes crying, sometimes exuberant, sometimes saying I gotta go because it’s too tiring to hold the phone up…

Beautiful weather

Are there bears out here? Moose? What am I going to do if I run into one?

Is there a murderer in the woods (this is by my house in the dark)

Scared due to weather…am I going to get lost up here? If it rains, I’m never going to get down these rocks…

Am I on or off the course?

How the &%$& am I going to get up that rock? Please don’t have any scary ledges on this trail….

Just one more “Nashoba” to go (1000-2000′)….watching elevation gains as you go up

We’re almost half done (at about a third of the way)…

I am a badass motherfucker…

I am the trained!

I am lucky to be out here

I’m going to kill myself running downhill with abandon….hope I don’t fall

I know I should run this section but hard to get started…

I get mile alerts….that was slow! that was fast! Speed up…Need to stay consistent the entire time

I love my husband…

Kilkenney 25 Miler: Once You Go In, The Only Way Out is to Finish 9/18/21

I raced the dark popping out of the woods just before the last light faded away to a few souls cheering me as I ran by the tiki torches to the finish flags! I felt elated and like crying at the same time.

I never really had tired legs like at Killington or Stonecat and ran in strong! I’ll take that although my overall pace was slower than anticipated. My hips held out great, I felt very strong at the end, although tired the first 2-3 miles, felt better and better as race went along. Very technical terrain – knowing how strong I was at the end, I wished I pushed running more throughout the race. Great weather except for a downpour around mile 17.

Planning Document/List of Stuff to bring:

Lessons Learned:

  • Ensure shoelaces are tied tight! My left one was undone and started a blister on my big toe…. I had just opened laces on right foot to help with the bunion and double knotted it so bottom could stay loose.
  • Get 2 stickers….am starting race collection on car and on bin
  • Have food available for overnight hunger. I woke up famished and thank goodness I had a banana and some white rolls!
  • Worked out well having a bag of associated running stuff (ie trail toes, washrag, etc) and a separate bag of camp stuff.
  • Bring water with you. Was stressed at night trying to fill up jugs at the campsite using the showerhead which got me all wet!

This was a very wild single track with a lot of trees down over it or shrubs/trees in the way (literally had 6′ trees smacking us in the face as we ran THROUGH them) but beautiful….

Near top of Mt Waumbek

I met two new friends who ran most of the course with me, Madeline and Vincent!

A few pics from the course:

In truth, I was more afraid of camping by myself than of the race. We had to practice setting up the tent in our house the week before and I was terrified. Thank goodness the gentleman in the campsite next to me popped by and helped me out – it was super humid with a million bugs and I spent 30 min racing the dark trying to patch up the tarp that went under! I struggled with lanterns because I didn’t remember I had a great headlamp…. I struggled getting water and will bring more with me vs. trying to find it in the dark…. Food planned for dinner and race was perfect! Proud of myself in the end for the successful camp and the FANTASTIC OUTDOOR SHOWER! I was all worried that it was cold water only and it was perfect…. I went to bed tired but clean and happy!

Kilkenney 25 Prep – About as Many Ups/downs as the Course! 9/13/21

Last minute jitters two weeks before the race…..

Am I ready? Why do I feel so slow still?

Two weeks before I almost cried to my coach asking for a pep talk while we were doing Nashoba hill day. He told me that if he didn’t think I was ready we’d be having a serious talk right now…..

I hadn’t done much strength training since my body broke down in May.

I was a few pounds heavy.

Last two months I did the best at the training sessions I have probably ever done 🙂

I was still having trouble just running distance without being tired.

Old speck inflamed my hip….was it going to crush me again like it did in my last 50k race?

I was afraid of setting up a tent.

Where was I going to eat after the race?

Did I have a useable mattress pad?

I didn’t have a good rainjacket.

where exactly was the race?

Mt. Moosilaukee and a COLD SOAK! 9/12/21

7.9 miles, 2730′ elevation, 3:48:37 Mount Moosilaukee and the South Peak Loop

Parked on side of road (no fees). Runnable on the way down. Top of Moosilaukee is an alpine meadow, no technical rock climbs.

Goal was 5.5 hrs and finished Moose early so drove a few minutes over to Franconia Falls and did a cold soak from waist down halfway through – AWESOME!!!! 6.71 miles, 1:38:33, 387′ elevation

Conquered “The Double Speck!” 8/27/21

It is historic. It is tradition. A critical tough training session, during the family vacation at Papoose Pond, before a big race in Sept. , race – THE DOUBLE SPECK!

2021:

2019

OK OK OK I was a little slower in 2021. I’m blaming the extra 10-15 lbs and work stress!

This is a TOUGH MOUNTAIN! The trail is ROCK, which HURT and I lost a toenail after with all the slamming against the front of my shoe. I finally looked up the tricks to tying shoelaces to minimize foot sliding (ie. tie a note in the laces after a few traverses) and am buying shoes size 10 now, another 1/2 size up. I felt Ok from an effort standpoint after the first ascent/descent but my feet hurt so that slowed me down the second time around…

Disappointing for sure I was slower than in 2019 but I’ll take it based on how horrible 2021 has been with work and the toll that situation has taken on me.

This year I had some better gear with extra water flasks so could easily pack for the second ascent and I had new nutrition with the chocolate/cashew/date balls. Also way better weather!

Every double Speck deserves a BIG BREAKFAST the next day! Blueberry pancakes the size of my head….

This year, we moved to a campsite across the road from Ruth and still suffered from the deflating queen size blowup mattress 🙂

Until next year. And we reserved a full week for 2022!!

Mt Monadnock 2.75, Laura 1.25, Two attempts 8/31/21 and 9/5/21

The goal was simple 4 hrs 15min with 3-4k in elevation.

FACT: 1 x Monadnock = 2:06 hrs (from 2019) and 1795′ elevation.

Twice I went there trying to do 2 loops (like the infamous DOUBLE SPECK) and battled the rain.

First attempt 8/31/21 I knew it was going to pour that morning (some hurricane remnant moving its way up the coast) but got there early to have a go at it. I couldn’t remember the course and how slick/slabby it was to know if you could do it wet or not.

You could not. Below is what turned me around the first time and I had not remember the huge slabs at the top I found my second time…

I was afraid. I admit it. Got to this part and called it quits with the slippery slabs. Did not want to get stuck up there- it was about halfway up. I ran down and back to this point and back down just to get some elevation (44:49 and 692′ in total) and it started to rain…

It was a sad slog in absolutely torrential downpours as I hit the good ole’ Buttonwood hill in my neighborhood, where I got another 1:15 and 659′ before accepting the ride from my husband. He was worried because of how heavy it was raining. I had been gathering trash while running to keep my mind off these miserable conditions! (Damn the plastic and fast food companies for creating this garbage and the lazy assholes that discard it wherever they choose…)

Laura .25 , Monadnock 1.75 (as I only made it halfway up of a target 2 full ups/down).

Second attempt 9/15, also on day rain was expected. I thought I could beat it but did one ascent/descent and it started. Now I saw the huge, slippery slabs and felt the rain and decided to do my final 2.25 hrs on a trail in Hollis. While I was near the top, you could the fog/rain rolling in and I raced down the mountain!!

At least I made one loop!!! Note that I DID NOT LIKE the White Cross trail coming down and would recommend going up and down the White Dot next time (other runners had already learned this and passed me coming down several times).

Laura 1, Monadnock 1 (as I only completed 1 of 2 loops)

Until next time, when I crush this mountain in a knock out!!

Mt Greylock vs My Chin 8/14/21

We had a little work gathering in July that kicked me into high gear. My friend, Dan Danecki, told me he was running the Mt Greylock Half Marathon. Mt Greylock is the highest peak in MA. I signed up immediately and then just after, did the epic week of confidence building including 3 big hikes Skyline Trail, Mt Washington, and Mt. Garfield.

Although again, I was near the end of the pack, it was a beautiful day, a road trip to get there (2.5 hrs) and a runnable downhill. Stats:

The only down”fall” was my fall in the last 3 miles on the dirt trail which I broke with my chin and forearm. I almost cried but did not!! I have to admit I like crossing a finish line covered in blood (remember my epic fall just after I had my sling off for shoulder surgery?)!

I also figured out that my Poles are my superpower. Noone else was carrying them. I took them for practice and used them for 9 miles of the race going up and down. Nothing is more fun than poling down the mountain!

I got to show it off all week long – here it is at Nashoba 2 days later:

Lesson learned is you need intermediate goals. Now that I have done this, I am focused on the Kilkenney 25 mi/9000′ run in Sept. I am seriously worried about my ability to run far. I am working hard on hills and plan to do Old Speck twice again this week as we camp at Papoose Pond in Maine.

I have been researching the NH48 so I can choose the right length/elevation trail for my long sunday sessions.

Today; however, was a bust. We have a hurricane coming in. I wanted to run Mt Monadnock twice before the rain hit. Got a little late start and the woman at the check-in said it was pretty slick without rain. I planned then to run up and down the lower section. It got darker and was doable but I got scared thinking of it wet/raining so bailed after 45″ and 700′ elevation. Went home and ran an hour in my neighborhood to get another 700′ – was pouring. Did not do the 3000′ and 4.25 hrs planned. I could barely move later so maybe better to take a little recovery…

the Downhill Zone…Mt Garfield 8/1/21

Hiked 8/1/21 with Sam Broadaway and Gary Lombardo. I was afraid of running with these two animals!! I am way slower and had done two huge hikes this last week – wasn’t sure how much I had left in me 🙂

This hike turned out to be epic! Fantastic non-technical trail that we ran down almost the entire way. 9-10 miles, 3.5 hours, ~21min/mile, 3000′ elevation.

Just like Mt Tecumseh, which I ran down in the snow earlier this year, running downhill was an absolute blast. If you start going pretty fast, trusting your feet, concentrating on the next two steps, it really is magical and super fun. We hiked up so I could reserve energy and had plenty to careen down.

No poles used/needed.

This week has been a huge confidence builder with a total of 11,700′ elevation (skyline, nashoba, mt washington/monroe and garfiefld), 3 long runs 3.5-6 hours long and I did Nashoba and 5 miles of tempo runs Friday night. I know I can do the Greylock half marathon in a few weeks now 🙂

These extra days off are doing me good and am hoping to see the less-stressed Laura start to have energy to do anything in my time off!

Beautiful day. Epic Run. Great running partners. A handsome husband to come home to. Bright Future.

Mt Washington or Bust 7/28/21

7/28/21

In an effort to take some extra days off, AND because I turned 55, I got up early and went up to the Cog rail station to climb Mt Washington. Hiked up via the Ammonoosuc trail and down via Jewell trail with a little hour spur climb up to Mt Monro, which is at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut about an hour south of the Mt Washington peak.

Got some more practice in using poles (indispensible on this hike) and eating my new favorite Jurek chocolate balls!

Hike was way easier than Skyline – the toes of my feet were still sore from the previous Sunday but this turned out not to be a factor. Absolutely beautiful day. Felt good and proud to have done this high, “scary” mountain on my own! Added some confidence in another 10 miler, 3990′ elevation and over 6 hours to complete. Moving pace of 29:32/mile with some pretty technical climbs the entire way.

Could not run it – too technical although I ran to my car after I popped out at the end in front of the Cog Rail Station with about 100 people watching me!

Great day, great confidence builder on top of Skyline just 3 days ago and a beautiful day!

REAL FOOD

Scott Jureks Energy balls:

1/2 c raw cacao nibs

1/2 c raw cashews

8 dates (PITTED)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut oil

Rolled in coarse salt. 10 balls, 131 cal, 5 g fat, 20 g carb, 2.4 g protein each. Really great! don’t like the hot pepper flakes

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Skyline Trail 7/25/21

My nemesis. My most hated trail. It hurts me. I curse it always the last few miles.

Ran this trail July 25 for the 2nd time. Hate the trail but loved my new poles and chocolate/cashew/fig/almond energy bites!

7/13/19: 15.8 miles, 4170′, 6:12 (21:16/mile avg). When I did this, I thought it would take ~4 hours and it took forever! I fell a few times, cried on the side of the trail and remember being so tired on the way home.

7/25/21: 13.5 miles, 3668′, 6:33 (25:29/mile avg) – did not do the extra 2 mile run at the tail end. I thought with my new trail shoes and experience, I’d be faster but was not. It is just a brutal slog of technical up and down climbs. Always damages my toes (am losing a toenail due to it) and ego.

The 6 hr Mt Washington/Monroe hike and Mt Garfield hikes were both so much easier than this one. Both of those were similar elevation and a little shorter.

Least favorite trail ever. But good pole practice! The other great learning was making homemade energy balls vs using cliff blocks/GU. Made Scott Jureks chocolate, cashew, fig, almond extract and coconut oil balls rolled in coconut and sale – FANTASTIC:

1/2 c raw cacao nibs

1/2 c raw cashews

8 figs (PITTED)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut oil

Rolled in coarse sale.

Blend all but coconut oil in blender. then mix in melted oil. Each one has about 100 calories – Makes 10. 131 calories, 5g fat, 20 g carb, 2.5g protein each.

Case Study in Work Stress…Broken 5/28/21

I am a case study for what work stress does to you physically. Ever since last June, when my company announced they were selling the business, over half the company was laid off or quit. This included my team, who are almost guaranteed continuation of their job in the purchasing company – I went from 15 to 4 people at one point. Losing people is stressful – like losing friends and covering the workload while doing extra work of hiring while training the new folks while keeping the fleet afloat has almost broken me.

It did break me, prior to the Grand Turk Scuba Vacation from May 29-June 12, I spent the week lying in a chair after work unable to move because all of my joints hurt so bad. I could barely finish 3 miles and was just exhausted.

The picture above is me floating in this beautiful water with my head empty – just what I needed for two weeks.

I came back and it took two weeks to fall back into a bad situation beginning of July. On the 17th, we had an NEC outing at Stonecow brewery and a trail running friend mentioned Mt. Greylock half marathon in mid August. That gave me a goal I wanted to meet.

The week of the 19th, I called my boss, the CEO etc to make sure they knew I was not doing well and just decided to take random days off for mental health. I am choosing me.

Starting July 25, I ran skyline, a terrible 13.5 mile, 6+ hr, 3600′ elevation trail to gain some confidence. On my birthday a few days later, I climbed Washington, 10 miles 6+ hr, 3900′ elevation and on the following Sunday I ran Mt Garfield 10 miles, 3.5 hr 3000′ elevation. I am hoping I am back and feeling better 🙂 I know I can do Greylock without issue now

Longest year ever. Also demonstrates the importance of intermediate goals to make sure you have something you’re afraid of to motivate you.

Shoutout to Trailrunner Nation Podcast…How to Deal with Difficult Situations

This is in reference to podcast #501 called the Comback Quotient, about a new book by Matt Fitzgerald.

“Physical fitness enables an athlete to do hard things, mental fitness enables an athlete to deal with hard things, and no athlete realizes his or her full potential without both.”

Key message is when you are faced with a setback:

Face reality.

Embrace reality.

Commit and reassess.

Implement your updated strategy.

They also had a reference to a Jocko episode called “Good” I have to watch…..

I was a Madwoman running Down Mt Tecumseh

Stats: Hike was 4.74 miles, 2224′ elevation gain and took me 2:18:55 (about 1:30 up and 45″ down) with splits: 28:32, 42:27, 36:25 (last part at top, short rest, then down), 19:36, 12:54

As usual, I was afraid. I had decided to do my first winter hike up Mt. Tecumseh, a 4000′ peak bag close to me. The hike has one trailhead in the parking lot for the Waterville Valley ski resort, which was packed, so I had to circle to find a spot. I know I have all the gear required and pulled out the once used microspikes (confirmed to be the right gear from folks online who had hiked it the day before) and all my normal trail running stuff – food, hydration, extra clothes, headlamps, safety kit, etc….

It was a beautiful day starting in mid 50s and ending in 60s. Snow was slightly slushy/sticky and packed on the trail. This hike was all trail with no rock scrambles if you take the left path to top at the loop near the top.

After a few minutes hiking, I called Kenny stating how hard anything is in the snow (and it is) and then made the slow slog to the top. Mt Tecumseh is a pretty steady 2200′ up. My mental state:

  • I often thought “Do I really love this?”
  • I learned long ago on hills that it is never easy going up and then you’re fine.
  • I remembered that I had done 6x this elevation in the 26 miles I ran at Killington Spartan Ultra… press on!
  • I was afraid to drink thinking I didn’t bring enough water
  • I was hot
  • My right shoe kept slipping off my heal
  • My former training kicked in and I employed the walking sideways technique and flipping directions every ten steps.
  • Fear really set in during one downhill on the way up that seemed treacherous and was very very slow going. I was wondering if the downhill would take 2x as long.

I picked up a hiker near the top (as I was at least an expert on the trail having a map and studying it in advance) and helped her find the top!

Then something came over me immediately on my way down. At the summit, it was a gradual downhill so I started to run it and then I couldn’t stop. I was like a mountain goat running down that hill gaining confidence in microspikes – it was AWESOME! Best run of my adult life – a short 2-2.5 miles down. What seemed steep going up seemed very reasonable going down. I gained confidence in my side to side skills as I had learned in my hill training on Wachusett last year.

So many lessons learned from early use of new gear:

  1. Importance of Shoe lacing: I got a 2nd pair of Altra Lone Peak shoes this year as I loved my first pair of 4.0 (but not the color so much!). Have hated them ever since I tried them. The right heel slipped and the middle of another shoe kind of hurt my midsole, etc. The other day I went to buy a 2nd pair of the original I bought only to realize they were both the exact same model, Altra Lone Peak 4.0, which flabbergasted me. Why did they feel so different? THIS WAS THEIR LAST CHANCE!!! I loved the colors, why couldn’t they just work like the last pair! Well, it turns out the issue was lacing. I’ve heard about tricks for runner lacing, etc and had always poo-poohed the importance of lacing thinking it was just a detail some runners obsess about. I am now a believer. A mile or so up dealing with the right heel slip, I first tightened the laces…didn’t work. Then I took a look at right vs. left and realized my right shoe didn’t have the laces thru the very top lace hole and the left did. I added just that and it made all the difference – I knew after one step.

Now I’ve been reading up on lacing since I got home and will modify the top to create this “runners loop”. Best lesson ever

2. Always dress for running: It didn’t matter so much but I didn’t have my sportsbra – my back running back did its job!

3. Bring plenty of water: I thought hike might take 4-5 hours based on online reviews and only had water for 2 hours. I did this because the last few mountain hikes I hardly used it. I was worried about it all the time though. Avoid extra stress.

4. Start cooler! When you’re hiking in 50ish weather, start with a short sleeved shirt. I’ve been hot the last few hikes having even a lightweight long sleeved shirt.

5. Practice with the pole technique and straps: I ended up using skate ski technique using both poles near my shoes going up and ended up starting to feel a slight hot spot under the strap on my left hand. Need to loosen the left strap to equal the right and consider gloves for any future long runs.

6. Microspikes: They worked well today in packed, icy/slushy conditions. They did not work so well the other week when I went running in new snow locally. In that case, even with a few inches of new snow, use the running snowshoes!

7. Always be prepared when you get back to the car. I had my list and remembered the comfy slippers to wear home, the extra set of clothes, the Recoverite and water to drink right away but forgot the washrag and was sorry for that! also forgot the banana.

Overall, fantastic, fantastic day!

Fake it Til You make It

Surviving hard times.

I am always finding that lessons learned on the road apply to my everyday life as well. In 2019, when I was in the middle of the Killington Spartan Ultra race coming off the mountain at around 16 miles, 9000′ elevation gain I was tired. I knew my husband was waiting at the bottom and was determined to show I was A-OK! This is what he ended up seeing:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard my husband speak of anything I’ve done with such pride as he does recounting this moment. He saw big tough guys pass this point, who were doing the shorter race, see the uphill sandbag carry and just walk off or sit down in defeat. I just smiled and kept going… and going another ~6 hours until I timed out at 26 miles, 12,200′ resulting in my first DNF on the 31 mile, 15.5k course. My motto I said to myself thru this race was “There are the trained and the untrained, I am trained!” (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire). I also felt better by encouraging others around me.

A podcast I was listening to this weekend, Trailrunner Nation episode 505, had one of the hosts Krissy Moehl sharing how she used to come into aid stations smiling asher mom was keeping an eye on her health and could pull her from the race. Later, she was told she had impacted others by being so positive from others at the races. In addition to the benefits of being positive, her advice for running was if you feel bad, before quitting, eat something and make your decision in a better state.

My advice to myself and to my team at work today is this: As we go through this difficult transitional period in our company sale, stay as positive as you can. If you’ve had a hard day/week, let’s pause and do something that makes us feel better before quitting. Let’s plan something to do this week that accomplishes something at work but also for ourselves.

You can do more than you think you can and if you/we end up being unsuccessful, then we were brave enough to try. If you don’t have some failures along the way then you’re not setting your sights high enough.

Question is, how do you know when you truly should stop?