One week out…

Well, here we are one week away from the big day.

The “taper” has begun, and I am easing into recovery.  Thus, the reason why I am writing this entry in the middle of the day.  It is nice to have a day off but feels odd.

I have put in many long hard hours over the last several months.

The journey almost brings me to tears reflecting on it.

I have lost faith and gained faith in my coach and in myself over and over, but I never strayed from the training plan as much as I wanted to out of fatigue.

Yesterday was a huge race for me.

I came in third for my age category at the Pittsfield, MA Berkshire Ultra Running Club’s 13.1-mile race.  If I had only known how close I was, I would have never lolly gagged taking photos and eating my Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches at the aid station.  I had no idea.  I was just running for the sheer fun of it, finally.

I came in first before last years top age category finisher’s time.

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The course was terrific.  No better than that, it was absolutely stunning.  Challenging ascents but not overly and nice descents that I took advantage of.  Many were complaining about the course being hard, but after some of the recent ones that I have been on, i.e., Jay Peak and my other mountain races, it was a piece of cake for me.  Actually, this was a paltry 2,500 in elevation gain – a piece of cake!  Actually, I was running up some ascents when others were walking.  That felt damn good.

This photo was taken atop of Berry Mountain located at an elevation of 2,201 part of the Tacomic Mountains of Western, MA and New York State.  Stunning…

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All in all, a great effort that restored my confidence for next week.  And, it proved that all of this hard work is starting to pull out my potential as an endurance athlete. It has ground me down to the point of exhaustion, but now I see why.  Perseverance and persistence are my greatest attributes and yesterday shows it is paying off.

Phew, did I sweat that one out?

I even am resurrecting my goal of going to Moab, UT to run 31 miles in the desert in the red rocks in February.

But, let’s keep it within the day.

Or at last next weekend.  I have my “drop bag” prepared with snacks, Tylenol, rain gear, Immodium, wet wipes, and all the usual “drop bag” kinds of stuff.  A “drop bag” is basically your supplies that you can pick up at points along the course as a 31-mile race is not as “supported” as say a road race would be.  So, you must be a bit self-sufficient.

I am having a “take it easy” kind of a running week so that I will be well rested for our big endeavor.  Think of me next Sunday, nearly all day…as I anticipate it will take anywhere between 7 – 9 hours depending on how fatigue sets in and how I handle it.  I have a run, walk, run strategy lined up, and I will work it as best I can.  But, fatigue is the enemy here.  And, thus, all of my back to back runs over the last several months – running on tired legs.

And, I finally hit 1,000 miles running this year.  1,022 to be exact.

Next weekend.

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Self Sabotage​ at its finest…

I was very, very close to giving up or perhaps I should say giving in to my own self-sabotage.

Let me explain.

Jay Peak took a lot of out me.

A lot.

So, I self-combusted.  Started binging. Stopped running.  Wanted to fire my coach.  You know, self-sabotage.

 

I am so glad that I have started to see my own behavioral patterns.  Because this isn’t the first time with this rodeo.

Why do you think I haven’t gotten past the marathon distance?

I was supposed to go to Moab, Utah and run a 50K this past February.  As the date got closer, I ate my heart out and fell apart both physically and mentally.  Came up with tons of excuses too.

So, I am so grateful that I was able to quickly push the pause button.  And, that my coach did his job. He talked me off of the ledge.  Some may say well he is paid to do that.  Sure, but that is what a coach does, right?

So, I got right back into training and eating right.

I worked on Saturday leading a Board retreat in Bridgeport, CT.  So, Sunday I signed up for the Surftown Half Marathon in Westerly, RI.  What a cool race it was.

I aced it with a speedy, crushing (as Coach called it) 2:19 time for a pace somewhere around 10:35 for 13.1 miles.  I was cooking and on fire.  I felt good.  I used a Galloway 5:00 minute run with 1-minute walk segment.

Here the ole girl is proud that she still has the gas in the tank.

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Today, I took the day off from “work” and ran a 5-hour endurance trail run.

Back to back runs on tired feet will hopefully prepare me for 31 miles in two weeks.

The one thing that I contemplated through this all was the power of me.

Yep, me.

I almost threw it all away.

I didn’t want to run a half-marathon and then run 5-hours today.

Heck, who in their right mind wants to do that.  The half-marathon was at half-marathon pace.  An exertion in and of itself.

In fact, during the start of my run today, I thought numerous times of just “calling it” and quitting.

But, I refused to.

I took the run in bite sized time increments.  Half an hour after half an hour got me through.

It is amazing what one is capable of.

Truly, if nothing else, I have pushed myself both physically and mentally to expand.

I may be physically and mentally tired – BUT I AM NOT GIVING UP.

How can I give up less than 2 weeks from race day???

Here I am after just completing my 5-hour trail run.

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The training continues this week, but with no “workouts” just 1 1/2 hours of runs daily.

I am either going to do the 20-mile Newport Galloway run or stay in Vermont (I will be in VT with a client on Thursday and Friday) and run 2.5 hours on the Mt. Ascutney trail system to simulate my upcoming race conditions.  After that, the following week, my runs are nothing more than easy, recovery runs as I taper into the big event.

No official half marathon race photos from Sunday yet but I will be sure to post them when they are released!

Hey, please keep this ole gal focused and leave me a word of encouragement in the comments below…pretty please!?!?

 

 

51 miles. Enough said.

I have come to realize that ultramarathon training is a bit more intense than marathon training.

For me, it has become somewhat of a love-hate relationship.

What do I love?

Running on the trails puts me in touch with nature.  I see and hear things that rarely do I in everyday life.

The training itself puts me in touch with myself.  I want to give up, give in, and just throw in the towel.  But I don’t.  I persevere, I have discipline, and I continue moving forward into doing the things I really think I can’t or don’t want to and then marvel at how far I have pushed myself.

Literally to the brink of exhaustion.

What I am told is that there is a reason.  Back to back runs adjust the body to tired legs.  You must run on spent, drawn, legs for hours.

I guess that is what I pay a coach to do to me!

This weekend, I did a nice 18 mile run in Newport.  It probably was the best run that I had in a while.  That was after already running 1 hour 15 minutes on Friday.

My friend Bill and I got it done together.  The rest of our group stopped at 14.  We kept it moving.

Yep, and I am the one in the center built like a “truck” in black with of course my stylish flower running skirt…  I definitely needed the compression socks on a run this long.  They saved me!

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Today, while I didn’t think I could do it, I did. I ran five hours on the trails at the Blue Hills with no one else’s company except my own breath, heartbeat, and inner thoughts.

Minute by minute – hour by hour, I got it down.  There were points I had to stop.  I have low blood pressure so there were points that I felt dizzy. I stopped munched on a chew, rested, and then got right back at it.

Overall, I hit 50 miles this week.  51.3 to be exact.  And, I am at 932.78 miles for the year.  Almost at the 1,000-mile mark.  Almost.

I am gearing up for another “grind-it out” week.  I have a 22-mile trail race on Sunday.  You would think that with a race, my workouts would diminish, but this race is more of a “training run.”

So, again, my coach has me hitting back to back runs with one planned on Saturday, the race on Sunday, and then another run on Monday.

Then it repeats all over again the following week.  Another 18 mile Saturday run with another 5 hour-trail run on Sunday.

I am praying to just have the mental stamina to get through the next few weeks.

I must remember that when it comes to ultrarunning – it is all mental.

Say a prayer for next Sunday…

Jay Peak is one of the toughest trail runs in the country.

Here is what is said, Finish and become a member of the elite crowd known as “Jay Peak Trail Race Finishers”…aka “one of the toughest runners in the country.”

Walk or run, if you complete this race, you will forever view other trail races as “cute”.

Here is an elevation map (yep almost 7,000 ft in 22 miles):

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Here I am resting and then giving the “I am finally done THUMBS UP!”

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Woman down…

The running week is now complete.  An almost another 40-mile running week.

Newport is always the highlight of my entire week. 20882552_1620273891350028_7814014889904050544_n

Yesterday was a scary day in Newport though. We had a woman down.

At about 9 miles in, we turned onto the Cliff Walk.  It was there that the oppressive heat and humidity just hit my small little group.  There is something about that Cliff Walk, probably no coverage from the sun.

Those in my group decided that we were going to cut the run short today.  I was trying to get in 13-miles, however, it was just too oppressive.  So, we turned down the first Cliff Walk intersecting street – Narragansett Avenue.  We were halfway up Narragansett when Danielle, dropped to the ground.  It was just Ron, Danielle, and I at this point and we did what we needed to do.

Danielle was very sick.  She couldn’t get up off of the ground.  A casualty of heat exhaustion setting in.  Heat exhaustion can cripple you.  For her, she had cramps all over her body and was vomiting.  Her fingers and one leg refused to budge.

These are her words:

“Today was a very difficult run where I re-learned a very important lesson. 1st goal was to run 16 miles after 8 miles I decided I would run 13 miles instead by mile 9.5 I started to cramp up and decided I needed to head back to the car then by mile 10.34 I was laying on the ground, shaking, dizzy and wanted to go to sleep/throw up/poop (which I did TMI) I know.

Thankfully Ron and Robin did not leave my side and I asked them to call Charlotte Armstrong to pick me up.

They were all great and helped me through a very scary situation of heat exhaustion(I was a big baby freaks me out when my body shuts down) I couldn’t feel my hands or my left leg.
The reason I share this with y’all is a friendly reminder to HYDRATE, Slow your pace down in the heat and fuel properly (all things I know) but obviously did a poor job of this morning.
Feeling much better now and thankful I was surrounded by good people to help me and that Diane Souza was kind enough to drive me home.”

Running can be very dangerous.  I myself have suffered from heat exhaustion but was lucky enough to get myself into a very cold shower.  We didn’t have that liberty with Danielle.

I have known folks who have gone into cardiac arrest while out on a run.

Heat, humidity, compounded by long-distance running is not for the faint of heart.  You have to know your body well and sometimes that is not even enough.

Long-story short – Danielle is OK.  The code in running, or at least my code is, never leave a man (woman) down until the coast is clear.  So, Ron and I stayed with Charlotte and Danielle until she was more coherent.

If you a runner, heed Danielle’s words above.  This is serious stuff.

All in all, it is a great group that I am proud to be a part of!  We take good care of each other…

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Today, I headed out for a three-hour trail run at the Blue Hills.  Danielle’s heat exhaustion on my mind. Many things go through your head when all alone on the trails.  Like what if that had happened to me.  What would my course of action be?  What if something worse befell me?

One thing is for sure, I can’t allow that to stop my training.  However, it does always play in the back of my mind.  I don’t allow fear to rule me though.

I managed to pick a good solid route for this run.  I used the Colonial Road Runners 10 Mile Fox Trot Race route.  But, gosh darn there was one trail that I just could not find the connection for the life of me.  It drove my bonkers going back and forth.  Finally, at two-hours in, I gave up and improvised.   All in all, it was a nice route.  I finally broke down and paid the $3 for an official Blue Hills trail map.

This is my map – not a lot to work with after it got wet and tore apart.

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Needless to say, I ended up getting closer to 13 miles in. On the trails that are demanding.

I have TWO-speed workouts planned for this week, one on Friday, which I never run on Friday…then an 18-mile run on Saturday and a 5-hour trail run on Sunday.

I am now reaching the pinnacle of my training.

This is going to be a tough coming week!

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The deep blue sky

Stillness and then everything ceases.

The clouds break and above appears

blue, crystalline sky.

 

I toss all that is swirling into the clouds

as they slowly escape

taking my hopes and dreams

taking my thoughts and feelings

taking you with them.

 

You struggle to stop it and I see a cloud

rise above.

I push, I push, I push

it away

into the deep blue sky above.

 

Down floats a feather from the blue,

blue sky.

All that remains of what I let go of.

What I let be taken away.

 

It floats and floats gently down

until it

settles near my feet,

softly landing  into stillness,

reminding me of divinity and union lost.

Reminding me of you.

 

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Lake Winnisquam – touching the three lovely NH towns of Belmont, Sanbornton, and Tilton.  A new, beautiful place that I am coming to love each week more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

OA Girl is very, very tired.

OA Girl is tired.

No other word to describe how I feel.

I hit 42 miles this week.  Training is getting rough.

I did a 16-mile road run yesterday with my peeps down in Newport.  Yep, and when you need to 16 miles in at 6 a.m., you do run in the pouring rain.  Thus, the small group.  Only the “die hards” who need the training mileage.  Let’s face it, on race day, it is rain or shine.  As we say, “Suck it up, Buttercup!”

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And, today, I ground out a three-hour trail run in the Blue Hills.  I chose the Skyline Trail.  Bad idea.  There were some places that I knew if I fell, I would have broken bones or if not more, get seriously hurt.  At moments, I was getting very dizzy.

Not a good idea when running alone.  But, when you picked the path, you keep on keeping on.

At least my color coordinated outfits remain a consistent staple!

I like pond selfies for some reason, and oh, look, after you just climbed that steep hill, what a beautiful view of Boston.  Moving on…

Trail running is very demanding on the body.  There is no question.  I think it shows in my face.  I don’t look so “chipper” anymore.

I really like to find ponds to sit next too.  Forced break.

This past week I was able to get in a run at a new place.  I stayed at the Motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Wilton, CT as I had client obligations.  Now, I have stayed at a ton of motherhouses during my career and never have I seen  a “Nun Pool!”  Pretty cool.  A bathing suit is coming with me next trip up.

 

I switched up my race plan.  The marathon that I had planned for September 9 is on the same date of a client Board retreat that I need to present at.  As the fates would allow, I found a trail running festival up at Jay Peak, VT on Labor Day weekend.  So, I signed up for a 22-mile trail race.  

God, help me.

And, of course, my 50K is almost a month away.

God, help me even more.

I may need to start going to church at this rate.

This weeks mileage will be about the same if not more.

I just cannot wait for the taper at this point.  In fact, I am praying for it.

One thing is certain, my body has slimmed down quickly.

As you can see by the length of this post.

The training is just beating it out of me.

Well, a hammock is calling and I must answer.

Off to sleep.

 

You, yes, you.

You, yes, you.

You stopped me in my tracks tonight, yes, you.

I walked outside, and you were ever so near

yet hidden in the dark underbrush.

 

I was in a foreign land, far from home.

You startled me with your chorus.

 

I stared off into the blackness, you caught my attention.

Who were you all?

Singing as if you were a grand symphony

all in unison and somehow not, but it all seemed right.

 

I, busy with work, preoccupied with all I had to get done.

You caused me to pause for one brief, fleeting moment

in admiration of your brilliance.

 

Yes, you.

You stopped me in my tracks.

Perhaps hundreds of you.  Maybe even thousands.

Who knows?

 

Tree frogs and insects and other magnificent creatures

I could not name.

For one minute, I ceased all my thinking

as you serenaded me in delight.

 

Whom am I?

I thought.

I am nothing compared to the mysterious livings

of a world outside my grasp.

Magnificent, living creatures

far more than I

 

You, yes, you.

I can still hear you from my window.

You who know more about existing than I.

Shush, let me listen.