AAR Last Month – Lessons Learned June 17, 2019, 89 days until Killington Ultra

Lessons Learned last month – documenting lessons learned is a great idea from reading Meb Keflezighi’s book “26 Marathons” along with David Goggins:

  1. Get race experience when you can:  I almost didn’t do Bonefrog because my shoulder was hurt from the Spartan Sprint the week before.  I didn’t realize that it was also a great “mini death march” with total of 3200′ elevation racing experience, 2 more times practice swimming in cold water, practice seeing other obstacles, and a good 2.5 hr race where I cramped in my feet at end from not eating enough salt stix/fueling properly.  It also gives you confidence – I know now what 3200′ at once feels like and know that I can do it with energy left over.
  2. Breaking up mileage makes them easier:  ie. Clovis done May 5 13 miles done in 2 mile segments broken up by 30 burpee jumping pull ups.  Had tons left at the end of this – way easier than running 13 straight miles
  3. Sometimes walking is faster than running:  ie. Nashoba hills.  I was so depressed that running up was so hard.  2nd time I did it, Gary taught me some hill technique and I mixed up running/fast “hiking” and beat my running time.  Walking is not a bad thing and sometimes faster.
  4. Get used to thinking about quitting and what you will think about to not do it.  This occurs to me every single Tuesday when I’m on Nashoba and the other guys leave before I do…..I could just go now and not do the last few runs up.  I always finish because I can’t live with the shame only I know about quitting.  Once you decide you have to do it, you quit worrying about it so much.
  5. Value of body butter:  Picture at top of this blog is my upper arm from a rub I got from a short sleeved in a 2.5+ hr run.  Things that never hurt before can become an issue with time on the road.  Use body butter anywhere anything rubs!
  6. Focus on form when tired:  One of my most hated workouts is interval training.  For two reasons – I am so much slower than high school (ie. 4:00 800M vs. 2:35 or a 7:55 mile vs. 5:47), and it hurts way more.  In the middle of doing some 200s, I started thinking about form and lifting up with knees/feet up vs. back and it made it easier – maybe because I just took my mind off of the pain.
  7. Don’t be afraid to win if you feel good:  think of the district meet when I could have crushed the competition in the mile but was afraid I felt so good and fell back (also not wanting the season to continue/lacked confidence I could keep it up).  Go for it with smarts, especially at the end and fight for every spot.
  8. Prepare in advance for food/water:  Carry what you can with you vs. having to stop somewhere to get it.  Just in case you find a good water fill area, bring extra tailwind, etc so you don’t have to circle by homebase.
  9. How you feel doesn’t always equal how you perform:  Keep trying even when you feel bad.
  10. Clip ins:  As you get going, don’t clip in too early and get stuck trying to unclip with no forward momentum.  Peddle without clipping in until you are going strong.  Recent bike ride last weekend…I thought I had the clip ins down great from unclipping in trainer and then fell down in a driveway. (see pics below)
  11. Get real trail shoes vs. road running shoes (and they are hard to find):  My standard Inov8s just don’t cut it going down grass or rough rock.  Ordered Altra Superiors and waiting for Salomon Speedcross 5 to get some real shoes with tread.
  12. Never hang straight down from any bars without you scaps – this is how I hurt my “good” right shoulder/not using good form.



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:




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,



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

Hump Day is Hill day – Wachusett Dam 4/3/19

Last time I ran here, I made it up ~75% of the way and totally gassed out.  My buddy was showing off hopping every two steps up and came down to walk up with me.  I was out this time to make it to the top and made it 7x!

Total elevation gain ~755′.  Note that the death march in the spartan ultra is around 1.25 miles with 1700′ elevation (~26% incline) so is 2.5x what I just did just less incline and longer.

The entire course I think is around 6500k elevation gain so 10x what I just did (that seems more daunting!).

A little progress with a lot more to go.  A few more pics from yesterday:


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 🙂


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!

Great Advice and Love the Comaraderie of the Ultra Crowd

Loved this book written by someone who emphasizes the kindness of others in the ultrarunning crowd.  I understand it.  The pain/hard work humbles you and through your own vulnerability, you have more empathy/kindness towards others.

A few good lessons learned from the book I will use:

  • Always smile…fake it til you make it!
  • Relentless progress forward without dawdling at aid stations.  you will want to quit many times but don’t.
  • Bodies will go as long as you need it to.  If you think you’re doing 10 miles, you’ll be tired at 10 or 50 or 100.
  • Visualize how you’ll handle issues like a sick stomach, hurt legs, sore knees, blisters…
  • Embrace suffering, practice keeping going when you feel terrible
  • Remind yourself of your hard training – don’t waste the early morning
  • Keep moving while hallucinating
  • It’s always dark before the dawn – be patient and things will turn around
  • With crew/pacers, use them to help you and tell them what to do/what you want them to do
  • Never do math/calculations on pace.  Focus on current mile only.
  • DO not listen to justifications on why quit.
  • Expect the end of the race to be hard.  The last 30 miles are as hard as the first 70.

A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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