Category Archives: Becoming Badass

AAR Skyline Trail 15.79 miles, Tears Were Shed

Maybe I was overly optimistic.  Dave Fatula was planning on finishing this trail in <4.5 hours starting at 5:45 am.  I thought I could do it and then still make the final OCR clinic at 11am.

Got up at 3:45 and we met at the trailhead at 5:45 down in Quincy, MA.  I knew right away I was going to slow him down and we parted ways around mile 2.  One day I am going to be able to keep up!  This is me and Dave around the halfway point when he was about 2 miles ahead of me after the turnaround:

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This is a roundtrip trail ~7.5 miles each way – link on alltrails below:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/massachusetts/blue-hills-skyline-trail

I had two falls around miles 10 – tears were definitely shed and I thought the gentlemen from the “Dept of corrections van” might have been laughing at me when they saw me go down near the Ranger station.  Athleta leggings trashed:

Good things:

  • Planned and executed nutrition plan, had 5 hours worth of water and more of food.  I had brought extra knowing it could go longer and this paid off.  Even with a refill of one of my side inov-8 16 oz drink pouches, I ran out just before I finished but had extra food!  Lesson learned from Tough Mudder 🙂
  • Finished 15.79 miles – one loop of a Spartan ultra, on a technically very difficult trail with 4000′ of elevation.  The hills were the easy part, navigating the rocks was the difficulty.  This one loop finish is a great mental “cookie” as it is half the race and I know I can do that even if real race has more elevation.  I am not sure I would say I “ran” it but I did ran parts.
  • I felt pretty good after and that night.  Recall that months ago, I would have been totally crippled after 6 miles with back spasms.  Not that the back is fixed (I feel it during interval training for sure) but it didn’t hurt after the run or the next day and that is a GOOD THING!!  I was too tired to do much but way less than I have been after shorter runs.  It was a general fatigue and I did my best to eat to recover!
  • Avg moving pace was 21:16 min/mile over the 20 min/mile target pace on avg.

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  • It was a cool trail with some beautiful scenery and varied terrain

Things to learn from:

  • I wore my Altra Superiors.  Tread was OK and I didn’t slip very much.  Issue was need for a slightly stiffer shoe for technical runs and that it is so comfortable, my foot moves around, which around mile 9 started to hurt on any downhills with my toes hitting the end of the shoe.
  • I need practice on technical trails, one woman just flew by me.  She stopped to talk though and said she has been doing this trail for 2 years – had speedcross shoes – and emphasized need for practice.
  • I learned issues will pass – my toes were hurting pretty badly then I hit a flatter trail and recovered.  Have to admit though that I was cursing all rocks after my two falls and toes hurt!

Heading out now for a 2 hr 40 min bike ride – will see how this affects it!

Thanks to my coach Gary for calling me and helping me fight fatigue, check-in as I missed the OCR clinic, as I drove the hour home from that race!

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Hydration and Shoes

SHOES:  I had not realized how many different shoes there are for various non-road surfaces!  Here is my journey – which continues:

After sliding down the grassy slopes multiple times during bonefrog in my Inov8 F235Lites (fave crossfit and road running shoes), I decided I needed some shoes with tread for future races – not an easy task to find.  Evidently, trail running is a niche activity so the typical stores (all sporting goods, REI, EMS, specialized running stores etc) don’t carry many of them. Locally, I did find a few good trail shoes at Runners Alley in Manchester, NH.  In general, I recommend ordering online via zappos and just returning the ones you don’t want.  The issue is that you may end up keeping all the pairs like me 🙂

1st Test: Altra Superior (shown at top):  wide toebox, zero drop, good for hard packed trails, not so different from my inov8 f-lite 235s, except they weren’t beat to hell – I had forgotten what any cushion felt like.  I took these out of the box and ran a 9 mile interval workout without issue.  Used for run up Mt. Monadnock and it drains well but sucked on rocks/tread is not that great.  I had forgotten what any cushion felt like!

However, I used these shoes for 15 mile technical trail run on Blue Hills Skyline trail and they about killed me – toes got jammed into the end due to lack of midsection support and hurt like crazy and no stability support in the midsection for all the rock scrambling so…..

Bought

2nd Pair: Salomon Sense Ride 2 – Used on Wachusett 16 miler and did well on rocks and also on the scree at Nashoba hill runs; however, despite good socks and lubing my feet, I got a bad blister on the inside of my bunion on the right foot halfway thru the Spartan Super 8 mile race so…..

3rdPair:  Inov8 X-talon 260 Ultra (0 drop) – the 260s have a wider toe box than apparently other inov8s (although note the F935 Lites were very wide and awesome):  Ran 23 miles at Ragnar VT with no new blisters or sore spots and also 14 miles with 6000′ elevation at Old Speck Mountain without issue.  Overall working well but have to check drainage.  Needed to retie laces during run even with a double knot.  Note I’m not a huge fan of the speedcross method of lace tying also although they seem to stick better.

THESE SHOES WERE ROCKSTARS AT THE 2019 KILLINGTON ULTRA.  Could go up and down the grass, debris fields AND MUD without falling when many were sliding down on their backsides.  Tops of toes sore with one big toenail turning black.  Right foot top of bunion area painful but no blisters and the pain wasn’t enough to have affected the race.

4th Pair: Altra Lone Peak 4 – these felt similar structurally to the Sense Ride at the running store although a wider toe box.  After the beatdown on Skyline Trail, I got the Sense Rides that felt slightly more solid.  I bought these with the X-Talons and just decided to not return them (a burgeoning shoe fetish).  Shoe laces are short and harder to undo/do than the others.  Used on a 6 mile flat trail run and loved them – need to check them out on a technical hill.

HYDRATION

Now that I am over 2 hour runs, am trying to do a better job with carrying water.  I had a 3 hr run last weekend so got the Nathan hard plastic waist bottles (each ~10 oz) ~$50 seen below and ran in a loop to refill every hour.  Mixed water with 1 scoop Tailwind and split between the two drinking every 15 min.  Was weird at first as you have to hold your elbows slightly out so they don’t hit bottles but was fine this week – no issues at all with waist carrying.

For this week, I wanted to plan a 4-5 hr mountain hike so needed a bladder.  I went to Runners Alley in Manchester, NH (good store) and got this basic $70 Nathan 1.5 bladder (as the small hand carry bottle alone was $40 I just upped the size). Several issues:

  • Evidently I forgot to get rid of all the air so it was horribly sloshy
  • The hose you drink from when hanging down, leaked whenever pressure was put on bladder.  I ended up tucking it upwards to help with this after my leg got wet.

Hike ended up being way shorter than planned (2 hr vs. 4-5) so I mostly just used the waist waters and a little of the bladder.

 

Then I purchased my Inov8 Two in one pack which, in addition to having a 2L hydration pack, has two 18 ml side water bottles and an extra, clip on storage area I can carry my shoes with to XFit during a bike ride or extra clothes on a hike.  This pack gets me 5 hours worth of water!  Have been using it for weeks now without issue.  I only wish the side pockets were more contained – feels like stuff can fall out.  I just use them for trash and keep food in my pants.

After researching for the Ultra race, I spent a whopping $85 to get 3 spare bottles (one bladder and 2 side bottles) so I can put them filled with tailwind in my transition bin for halfway changeout.

This

 

This note from my coach means a lot to me.

I’m far from perfect and miss a workout almost every week – not due to laziness but typically am exhausted or make a work priority call (and still have ~10 others) – but if you don’t #showup, you have no chance of getting better.

My dream is that these real athletes will call me up one to to train thinking of me as an equal.  #stillhavetoearnit

Pic is me and my coach, Gary Lombardo, who has taught me so much this year!  I will be forever grateful

Victory – First OCR Races AAR 5-19-19

The ice cold water was refreshing – you can’t think about it, just plunge in and go under the barrier or keep swimming – someone said 44F was the temp yesterday at the Bonefrog event.  After Activity Report from Spartan Spring (4 miles) and Bonefrog Challenge (6 miles):

Went well

  • Did all obstacles but monkey bars, spear and rings at Spartan Race
  • Felt good at the end of both and no lower back crippling – this is huge/need to keep up one legged exercises and fixing my posture
  • Sandbags super easy at both events
  • Was afraid of walls but went over all the spartan ones (even the terrifying one you had to go over before the beginning of the race!!) – Bonefrog ones were taller and I didn’t try with my hurt shoulder
  • Did well on 3200′ hills at Bonefrog using new hill technique – like this race a ton better as there was more true racing in the woods, smaller crowd, parking near event
  • Bonefrog results:  64/311 everyone, 3/10 age group (50+), 11/94 females.  And I was only a few minutes off the the other age group women.  Being that I am not in that great of shape yet, where do you find the tough competitors?

Could be better next time

  • Brought plastic bag for gross clothes for Bonefrog!
  • Washed mud out of shoes at event vs. leaving shoes on porch for a week
  • Need shoes with better shoe grip – slipped going downhill at Bonefrog
  • Need shoes with better lacing – had to retie during race
  • Had foot cramps at end of Bonefrog – need to fuel properly during race
  • Lead front shin on left leg got sore using it as a lead leg uphill – need to practice going sideways up in both directions
  • Need help with high walls
  • Hurt right shoulder pretty bad hanging on one arm – may avoid those forever.  Saw both my PT guys and it isn’t torn but will take a little time to heal up.  This was a bummer – I want to wake up sore and not hurt for one day between my shoulder and lower back!!!  Working it….
  • Bonefrog was 3200′ elevation and Killington is 14000′.  Need to work hill endurance!  Compared to the other folks, I passed a ton of folks going up but got creamed coming down.  Need to work hill technique going down 🙂
  • Lonely to do by myself – better with friends!  I think I’ll like the Ragnar races and want to do more team events

Pics from Spartan Sprint (4 miles) below from May 11, 2019:

 

Spartan bruises:

 

Bonefrog pics (6 mile Challenge race) May 18, 2019:

 

 

gratitude

I am looking out my office window at a blooming magnolia with my cat getting ready to do a few ROMWODs and then go out for a long run.  I am grateful for:

  • Being healthy and able to work and play
  • Having learned so much this last year
    • Finding a coach who has helped me learn value of Heart rate training
    • Leadership of my team at work – paying attention to people, recognizing more when they are out in the field, helping more
    • How to climb a rope
    • How to run uphill – conquered Nashoba after a crushing week of not making it and then learning some skills.  Revisiting again how mentally tough (or not) I am – at least the second time I went and was determined to try to make it.
    • Running skills
    • Recovering my shoulder
    • Being OK with postponing some strength while I fix some core issues and finding someone to help me with lower back pain/posture/root cause
    • Being able to change habits and acknowledge weaknesses to strategize around them
    • How to ride a bicycle
    • Wading my way thru apps and gadgets to find out the best way to track training
  • My husband, who listens to me saying the same things over and over and always telling me I can do anything I set my mind to, supporting me when I’m in time out, and who takes care of me
  • Looking forward to applying what I’ve learned athletically to my music – adding variability (and per W. Marsalis, mimicking color and people and feelings)
  • My job and manager – there is trust there that I appreciate and I hope integrity
  • New Orleans – went to French Quarter Fest although was a little lonely by myself in a huge crowd.  Found some dancers, listened to music, ate some wonderful breakfasts at Envie, did yoga at the Cabildo, found an awesome gym and continued all my training and PT while on the road

Am trying to not take everything so seriously yet be disciplined and humble.  To be OK with what I can do and to be OK if I mess up once in a while whether it be diet, missing a workout, making a mistake at home or work…

Keep the faith,

Laura

p.s.

Ben Bergeron had a great podcast on getting along with others and a section of empathy with sympathy … Chasing Excellence episode #63.

Twisted in Two Planes, AAR 3/31/19 end wk 15, 167 days Left

Dear Coach,
I did everything this week!
A few HUGE changes/learnings:
  1. I realized that I have gotten a ton better running the hills in my neighborhood this week with the new workouts – when I ran them last Nov, they were soul sucking but really not so bad now!!!
  2. You can’t “think” your way to a faster running cadence.  I used the metronome and successfully ran at 165-170 during the 10 miles today when last week during long run I tried to but still only ran 153 spm.  Need to slow down pace though and get back to Z2 under 118 BPM/was at 123 BPM today.
  3. Started trying to use my new Garmin F935 watch and found it matches my heart strap well on long runs but having issues with displays, etc – have to learn how to use it
  4. Finally found a PT, Mike Roberts, that I think is going to fix what is evidently a twist I have in two different planes.  See in the photo below how I am leaning and twisted to the left.    Switched to all unilaterial exercises Wed 3/27 onwards until it is fixed. Note that I am taking Aleve a few times a day now and often can’t put my socks on in the morning.  Feeling a little better already since eliminating dual foot weight exercises – he says I’ll end up stronger than before after we fix it.  I am not worried about getting strong and will continue to work strength enthusiastically with unilateral exercises until then – perhaps the best way to do them anyway 🙂

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Changes I am making
  • With the longer runs and workouts last few weeks, I changed food to moderate for T, R, F, Sa, Su and this is making me gain weight since I got back from Bonaire, where I had been at 135 (am now at 143).  I am going back to the previous macros (my RP base/Light day at 151c, 56f, 134p = 1644 total calories) and adding in only 100g for Gu on runs/bike Sat and Sun- else all LIGHT days.
  • A little cleanup – I am not wasting all this exercise by screwing up my nutrition.  I want a six pack!!
    • Switching from butter to nut butter with toast in morning
    • Realized whole wheat flour is different than wheat flour so only using whole wheat
    • Being purist on best sources of prot/carb/fat
    • Back to measuring half and half 🙂
  • Can’t follow std RP templates while working out in am and pm so am doing the following:
    • Eating fuel/fire in morning before workout
    • Having higher carb meals after morning and evening workouts, spreading out the rest during the day
    • Switching from butter to nut butter with toast in morning
  • Having some gear issues with new Garmin (still working on setting it up and comparing its HR wrist sensor to my chest strap and other running app) and lights.  This will pass – working on that today
  • Hair control:  Started using better headbands (way wider in front and wider in back) to keep hair away from me
 Train on!
Laura