Racing With No Expectations….

….Except Maybe a Win!!

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I went into this weekends race with no idea of where my fitness level was. I have not worn my Garmin for over 6 months and have been running solely by feel. The only way I was able to gauge where I was at was by how I felt on climbs, and by one run with my brother where he stated, “this is a pretty good pace.”

I guess you can say that ditching the Garmin was a strategic move. For one, I feel like by monitoring my pace while running I was in a way holding myself back. I had an “idea” in my head of what my pace “should be” and I feel like I was limiting myself by staying in that zone. What would happen if I just ran by feel? Ran until I couldn’t run any faster without over-exerting myself?  Based my effort on my heart rate. I just felt that this was a better training move for me.

So, while I felt like my fitness level was pretty good going into the Summer Solstice 5.5 mile race, I had no idea what to expect. Was I capable of an 8:00 pace or a 7:00 pace? I honestly didn’t know, but I did have a hunch. I had a feeling that I could trust the fact that EVERY training run was done at maximum effort, and with a clear vision of what I was training for.

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That brings me to the importance of this race.

THE HISTORY:

2012:

41:06/7:29 pace

3rd Female/24th Overall

My first year running this race. I ran the entire race flip flopping 2nd and 3rd place with who I would later learn to be Lisa. Lisa ended up placing 2nd, while a few seconds later I finished for 3rd place. I learned I had done a 7:29 pace, which blew me away. On the trails, that pace seemed extremely fast to me. I was happy!

2013:

41:22/7:32 pace

2nd Female/16th Overall

This is the race that has probably fueled a fire inside me more than any other.  I held on to first place until about the 5 mile mark, when I was passed by the girl who was on my tail the whole race. I remember the exact spot she passed me, and from that day forward every time I run the red trail at Gay City I attack that same hill harder than ever. It is true that for every failure, it brings you a step closer to success. There is a finish line picture of this girl breaking the tape with me about 10 ft behind her, trying like hell to catch her. That picture has been burnt in my head as my motivation for the last 2 years

2014:

38:44/7:03 pace

2nd Female/7th Overall

I wasn’t even sure if I was doing this one.  I was running my first 50 Mile Race just two weeks prior, and I was uncertain how my legs would feel.  However, this was the first year we had partnered up with Hartford Marathon Foundation, where we lead a 6 Week Trail Running Series prepping runners for this race.  So, I wanted to run to represented mission FITNESS and our partnership.  I was surprised with my pace, but unfortunately I knew winning this race was going to be difficult as I got past early by a High School girl wearing an All-State Cross Country shirt. I was happy with my 2nd place finish!

2015:

38:29/7:00 pace

1st Female/9th Overall

As I stated earlier, I had a lot of uncertainty going into this race.  However, I also had some things I was certain about.  I had a realization once back in Connecticut and in the woods that Trail Running is my passion. It is when and where I find complete happiness.  It’s my exercise.  My meditation.  My therapy.  But, more than anything, I am starting to realize that it is something I have a lot of potential at.  Racing and placing 6th among very good competition at the Cayuga 50 Mile National Championships last year made me realize I may be able to compete at a higher level.  Being back in CT made me realize that I want to represent mission FITNESS and make my clients and the Owner (my brother) proud.

To commit to being EXCELLENT at something is scary.  I think I always knew I could be an Elite Trail Runner, but I was never ready to ADMIT it and OWN it.  Once I did that, it meant things would get uncomfortable.  I was no longer in my “safe” AVERAGE zone.  I was stepping into territory that few have the desire (or maybe courage) to enter.  However, after endless hours of listening to motivational videos it became so clear to me that I DO NOT WANT TO KEEP ASKING, “WHAT IF?”

I don’t want to look back and think about what might have been. If I could have been one of those runners I follow on Instagram who get to run for their job.  I don’t want to wonder who I could have motivated at mission FITNESS if I chose to become that runner I dreamt to be.

So, my runs started to have purpose.  As I ran the trails, did hill repeats, etc. I would visualize crossing that finish line at the Summer Solstice Trail Race.  The picture was so clear.  My brother would be there with a big smile, and a high five.  He would hug me after, proud of me for representing mission FITNESS for everything it is.  My runners from the Trail Running Series would congratulate me, knowing they were lead by someone who knows what they’re doing.  What I didn’t know is that my amazing husband and Mom and Dad would also be there. As well as an amazing, inspiring friend (Melissa) who gets this trail running thing more than any other friend…and REALLY gets my history with this race.  It was really a dream finish.

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The vision was so clear for me, that instead of wearing our Trail Running shirts from the clinic (which had an image of trees on the front) I would wear my mission FITNESS tank.  A strategic move so the finish line picture of me breaking the ribbon would advertise the BEST fitness facility in Connecticut:

MISSION FITNESS. 

   DREAM IT.  BELIEVE IT. ACHIEVE IT.

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Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC was on my “places to see” list for awhile.  It originally sparked my interest back in 2013 when I saw it ranked #1 on America’s Happiest Seaside Town List in Coastal Living Magazine.  So, as we made our way up the Coast, we booked a stay at Hunting Island State Park located on one of the many Sea Islands in the Low Country.  This State Park is the most popular one in South Carolina, offering over 3 miles of natural beach, over 5000 acres of undeveloped land, and just 15 minutes East of Historic Beaufort.

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When we arrived at the campground it didn’t take long to fall in love. Once crossing a bridge and entering Hunting Island, it seemed as though you were on a secluded island.  Then, we quickly realized that the campground was practically on the beach.  I’m sure this was something I knew, and had seen in pictures during my research, but we were traveling and exploring so much that at times I don’t even remember what state we were in!

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Unfortunately, it was raining the day we arrived (common theme lately).  However, around 330pm the rain stopped, allowing us to get out of our camper for a walk on the beach…..

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IMG_20150224_221617exploring the Lighthouse….

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and the trails, which I quickly fell in LOVE with!!

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And then it rained some more…and more…and more.

So sad!  So much to explore and such a beautiful campground and the COLD and RAIN kept us in the camper. (Which we are still loving!)

I couldn’t stop thinking about the trails…and even tough Beaufort School Systems were closed because of freezing rain, I went out to run 8 miles worth of amazing trails.

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When it finally stopped raining, we ventured to Historic Beaufort area.  While it was still cold (probably in the low 40’s) we bundled up and got out there. And I’m so happy we did.  As I have said in the past, the one good thing about the weather being as bad as it has been, it has allowed us to explore all of these areas that would normally be busy, in a way that makes us feel we are the only people on earth.

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We sat on these swings as we could hear the gun shots in the distance, coming from close by Marine Corps Training Facility on Parris Island.  This had a specific meaning to me, since it was where my Dad was stationed for bootcamp while in the Marines.

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Then we made our way to the side streets, were just like Savannah the old Southern homes, with the Live Oaks with draping Spanish Moss stole the show.  Each corner we turned brought with it a more beautiful home, as well as an unobstructed marsh view.

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This campground is definitely one that we will revisit, and hopefully we will be able to explore the area more with nicer weather!

Athlete Specific Park Workout

What an amazing day I had on Sunday. Started off teaching a bootcamp. 21 people strong. Such great energy.Then I did the Vision Board class with Kindred Spirits at mission FITNESS. This deserves it’s own post and it will get it.

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Later on that day I met one of my clients at my favorite trail running location: Hurd State Park. She is a college basketball player who is home for fall break. She went a trail run with me this past summer and also did a trail race. She knew what she was getting into. This girl is bad ass. The harder the workout, the better. I’m blessed to have several young athletes with this attitude.

So, we did my favorite 5 mile loop. One that offers flat, fast trails with better scenery with each season. Some hills that make you question if you’re having a heart attack or just pushing past uncomfortable. But each with an amazing view to reward your hard work.

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The other great thing about this loop is there are a bunch of areas with picnic tables where you can do some strength work. With this girl I also added some plyometric work.

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Burpees, Plyo Jumps, Push Ups, Tricep Dips, overhang Taps and much more using just the park elements!

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Another beautiful day using the world as my gym. 80+ degrees and nearly October. I’ll take it.

get outside. get fit.

My First Ultra Marathon: Bimblers Bluff 50Kish

I haven’t decided yet if this is going to be one LONG post, or if I will break it down into a few.  It is amazing how the race day has so many elements.  The pre-race, race, and post-race almost feel like 3 different events.

Pre-Race:  

You all know about the FEAR I had as I went into this race.  I saw myself tip-toeing nervously on my hurt ankle for 32 miles, trying not to get hurt.  That would make for a REALLY long day. So, I called my best friend who happens to be a sports psychologist.  I had her talk me through some visualizations, and fill me with some positive thoughts for the race.  Then I contacted my rock star friend, Katie for some nutrition advice.  I followed her advice and had my last meal around 5pm (small plate of pasta) and then a bagel with coconut oil and half a banana at 5am. (3 hrs before the race)  These were 2 big changes for me.  Usually I eat a later, bigger dinner the night before the race, doing MOST of my carb loading at that time.  However, after lots of reading and researching I learned to start my carb loading 3-4 days before.  I also hate waking up early, so for most of my past races I wake up about 90 minutes before the race and eat breakfast then. I am hoping all these changes lead to this great change in my pre-race events:  I did not have to “use the bathroom” once at the race and during the race!  Since most people reading this are probably runners or friends, I am not embarrassed to admit this.  And if you are a runner with issues like this, you know how huge this is!!   So far so good as I toe the start line.

The Race:

I went into the race with a goal of finishing under 6 hours.  Based on my training, I knew I was capable of this.  I knew I could definitely place top 10, possibly top 5, and on a REAL GOOD DAY top 3.  However, this was my first ultra, and only my 4th trail race. Before this my longest being the Bimblers Bash 10k.  This was a whole new ball game.  I stalked this race, over-researching details as I do with everything in life.  I watched the video from 2011…2 hours of taking in details:  Aid stations, terrain, what runners did, wore, etc.  I then looked at the confirmed entrants.  I compared them to the past years results, seeing which racers who finished as top females were competing.  It looked as though only a few were.  AND, I see that the girl who beat me by 3 seconds in the Summer Solstice Trail Race for 1st Place  was running.  The competitor in me saw opportunities all around.

Before the race I saw a girl who looked strong, heard her name was Amy, and heard talk of course records.  I assumed it was Amy Lane, and thought, “I swore she didn’t sign up.”  (I found out later it was another Amy, a Team Inov-8 runner who represented the USA in the World Championships of Trail Running this year).  I also saw the girl who beat me at Gay City, and went over to say hello.  She said she was looking to do under 6 hrs, so I thought I would maybe pace with her.  (After a lot of back and forth in my own head I made the decision to only use the clock on my Garmin, not the pace or mileage.)

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After the pre-race briefing we lined up at the start for the National Anthem.  I knew we would do a lap around the field and enter the woods right after.  From watching the video and reading blogs I knew if you entered towards the back it would bottleneck, forcing you to walk up the first climb.  So my plan was to enter in the Top 20ish.  I did this, staying right behind a girl who looked like a strong runner.  She looked familiar and I had a feeling she was a top female.  I ended up running right behind her for the first 9 miles or so. I settled into her pace, which seemed to be strong, but not too fast.  I was instructed numerous times by my “training partner” to go slower than you want at the start.  However, without my Garmin I did start to worry, “is this too fast?”  After about a 8 miles the guy she was chatting with turned around and said, “you’re quiet back there.”  I told them I was just trying to stay with them because I didn’t want to get lost (my biggest fear) and it was my first ultra.  I soon found out the girl I was pacing with was someone I “knew of” (another Amy) from Bimblers Bash and who finished a few spots ahead of me.  Right before we entered the 2nd aid station was the first time we “got lost”.  It wasn’t bad, just 3 of us, standing still saying, “which way?”  We would eventually find the trail and continue.

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At aid station 2 I saw my hubs and parents, refilled my nutrition, and then headed for the Bluff Climb.  I knew what to expect, as Erik and I had done this part of the trail when checking out the course.  As we climbed, I realized one area I need to work on…my hiking/climbing.  Amy pulled ahead as I huffed up the mountain.  Once at the top, I caught back up and we continued to chat.  This was by far my favorite part.  We found out we had mutual friends, talked about triathlons, IRONMAN, etc.  It was effortless and the miles and time flew.  WELL, it was soon after we realized we were off track.  We were descending a rocky, gravel road when a kid in front of us yelled up, “do you see any markers?”.  I then said, “I was just thinking I haven’t seen any in a while.”  Big decision: do we keep going down this hill, looking for markers, making the climb up longer if we are off track?  I decided no, and told them I am heading back up.  My adrenaline was pumping.  I was so upset.  The race was going perfect.  We were running as 3/4th female and I was feeling good.  How far off track are we?!?!  I went WAY too hard trying to make up time, found the turn, yelled to them, and continued to go as hard as I could to make up time.  However, now I was paranoid and I would descend a hill, not see any markers, run back up, wait for someone who would say it was right and then keep running.  So much wasted time and energy.  Urgh.

Finally, I got to the 3rd aid station.  I figured I lost a lot of time and places, which is why I was very surprised to leave the woods and  hear, “3rd female”.  At this aid station (mile 16) I refilled my pack with water, and proclaimed “we got lost”.  I was informed everyone was saying that, and I was still only 2 minutes behind my brother (who got lost at the same spot).  It was right after this station I hit my first wall.  I am not sure if it was from the adrenaline filled hard pace I had just come off of, or the fact that I was now solo.  I started to walk climbs that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.  There was no one in sight.  No one behind me or in front of me.  Part of me wondered, should I let Amy catch me to make this less miserable?  I decided to keep truckin’, and finally spotted someone, and passed him as he stretched.  I asked if he was ok, he said “yeah, I just keep worrying I am off track”  Ok, I wasn’t the only one.  This was my first ultra, and I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was just me.  I then hit an area of single track mountain biking trail.  It seemed to wind, twist, and turn forever.  Even worse, it was marked all pink ribbons and I had no idea if it was even the course.  All the other ribbons were red and white.  I didn’t see any of those.  Was this talked about pre-race and I missed it?!!?  I literally wanted to cry at this point.  Was I even running the right trails?  Finally I popped out and soon found white and red ribbon.  I ran up the trail, but found people running in all directions.  “Are you looking for the Aid Station?” “What mile are you at?” “Is it an out and back?”  I saw my brother and after running up the trail a little more, decided to turn back with a few others.  I felt like I had been out there more than 6 miles and I started to worry I skipped over 4th aid station.  I started to see signs stating, “soup is near” and knew I was close to an aid station, but which one?  As I popped out of the woods to see my hubby and fan club I knew it as the right station. Phew!

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My goal for the next 8 miles (which I was warned by many blogs and the race instructions would “feel much longer”) was to pay attention as close as possible to NOT GET LOST.  The issue was, at this point my eyes started to get real blurry (I started to worry about this, but later found out it is “normal” from looking at the leaves for so long) and couldn’t see the markers until I was right on them.  With the sun shining through, the white ribbon was hard to spot.  I had MANY moments of, “oh no, is this right?” but would luckily decide to keep going and soon see a ribbon.  It began to bring me so much relief, and I chose to use these sightings as “energy”.  Part of the sports psychology 🙂

All reports were right, it seemed much longer.  I ran out of water and I was hurting.  I was trying to do math in my head.  A volunteer told me 10K left, 6K to next aid station.  Was I going to hit my 6 hour goal?  A little later I saw a hiker who told me just over a mile to the aid station.  Oh my, will this ever end?  Just then, a blister must have popped because I had a burning pain on my toe that hurt like hell.  Finally I saw my girlfriend on the trail and she started to run with me.  She said, “oh no, where’s your brother?”  What?!?!  I never passed him, which meant he was lost again.  Shit!

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I was approaching the aid station I had dreamt and visualized about.  Only 2.5 miles to the end.  In my dreams, however, 2.5 miles felt so much shorter!  My Dad gave me a high-five as I entered the last aid station and my fan club, Mom and Hubby cheered me on.  Erik then says, “listen babe, it’s your song!”  Out of some hidden speaker I hear, “Let Her GO’ by Passenger.  A song I am currently OBSESSED with. The sun was shining, the fall colors bursting, and (looking back) it was perfect.

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All I could think for the next 2.5 miles is DO NOT GET LOST.  This section actually seemed to go by pretty quick.  Well, looking back that’s what I remember!  Music to my ears was when a volunteer told me 100 yards left.  I just thought, “just a football field.”  I ran down the last hill, making sure I didn’t fall, and felt strong as I crossed the FINISH.  My time read 5 hrs 44 minutes!  To my surprise I was told I was 2nd female and 12th overall!  As I hugged my parents and hubby I was immediately handed a chocolate milk by one of the top finishing men.  What I read is true, ultras is a different breed.  How nice of this guy.  He made sure I was ok and told my the blurry vision was normal.

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5 minutes later my brother crossed.  He was 13th overall.  His Garmin read 35 miles!  Oy Vey!  What a day we had.  I learned so much, and could not believe how stressful it was.  I was so mentally and physically exhausted.  I guess this is ultra-running!

While I am very pleased with my results, I know I was not the 2nd best female.  The girl who was in 2nd the whole day must have gotten VERY lost during that 8 mile stretch.  A hiker had told me around mile 23 she was about 4 minutes ahead of me.  I also know I was in 18th most the race.  Many would argue this is all part of Ultras, but I will take from this race what I needed from it.  I have a lot of work to do to place in the big races, but I also know I am not too far from being a top racer.  Now I need to decide where I go from here.

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I have what it takes, but it will take everything I got!

Nerves vs Fear

imageI debated writing a blog before my race on Sunday. I think a big part of me does not want to talk about what I am not proud of. I want to keep my thoughts to myself because my thoughts have completely contradicted everything I preach. However, I tend to do that. The quotes I post on social media are usually the ones I need to hear myself. It’s more ME putting my intentions out there, not just me telling others what I believe in.  So, when I tell others what THEY need to do, it is also me reminding myself of that same advice.

I also think that maybe I need to remind my supporters, clients, friends know I am not perfect. Far from it. I am not some “freak of nature” or “super human”.  I work really hard when I want something, and I can usually push past uncomfortable to get it.  However, going into my big race this weekend…my first ultra marathon….a race I have trained harder for than any race…I feel different then I ever have.

The best way I can describe it is that FEAR has replaced nerves. I feel pre race nerves are healthy. They are normal and can even be used as a way to push you. I experience these before most races as well as a feeling of excitement. for this raceI keep being asked, “are you excited” and I’m not sure how to answer this. As I may have posted on here (or you may know through me personally) I turned my ankle very badly while doing 7 sisters on a training run. It was one of those, “oh no” moments when I immediately thought, which way is the closest to civilization and help.  After the initial shock wore off and I caught my breath I walked it off and realized I was ok. I continued to run and it was bearable enough to get back to the car.

The next day I went out to Guilford to tour part of the race course with the hubs, and while running I turned the ankle again. E was running behind me and yelled when he saw it turn. He kinds freaked. It must have looked pretty ugly. Again, I walked it off, laced up the sneaks a little tighter, and finished the run.

Well, this was the theme for the last 2 months. The ankle would turn every other run, and just a couple weeks ago again pretty bad when running with my brother. Now, I literally strain it doing the stupidest things. Stepping on my dogs bone, stretching my quad, etc.

So, I have become a mental case lately. I have been running mostly on the road or the rail trail in fear of the trails and turning my ankle. What was once my refuge, my happy place, my solitude, now seems to be my biggest enemy. Now, I KNOW WHAT I WOULD TELL MY CLIENT. You are creating the injury in your mind before it happens, thus leading it to happen. So, I’ve got 48 hours to get my mind right. To get my act together. To clear my mind of can’t. To suck it up and run like I have no fear.

I have trained too hard, spent too many hours away from loved ones, too many early wake ups and early bedtimes for this. I need to practice what I preach and start a new vision: finishing the race STRONG, HEALTHY, AND SMILING as I cross the finish line well under my goal time!

Why Not Me?

Iwhy not me have never thought of myself as a runner.  I ran to get ready for soccer season.  I ran as fast as I could up and down the basketball court.  I did “fun-runs” with my softball team, jumping into random people’s pools as we ran.  Going back even further….I ran as I child. Sometimes for safety as my brother chased me.  Sometimes as fast as I could around the block (1/3 mile) as my brother clocked me and other neighborhood kids seeing who could do it the fastest.   I ran the mile testing in elementary school, always one of the top females.  Not just because I was an athlete, but because even in 6th grade I was a competitor.   It was all I knew.  I HAD to be the best.

I guess I have been running as long as I can remember.  However, once I ended my collegiate basketball career I became a little lost.  Now what?  My whole life I stayed in shape for the competition.  To not puke during preseason. For the last 5 minutes of the basketball game.  Now what was I staying in shape for?  I would still run to stay in shape, but I never enjoyed it.  There was no end goal.  I wasn’t fond of running, and it became pretty miserable for me.  Then I signed up for my first 5K. My brother gave me a goal of under 24 minutes.  I did it.  Okay.  This was better.  Now I am running as competition and with goals. Training for a reason.  Then came the half marathon, then the marathon.  The big kahuna of races.  This was supposed to be IT…However, I still didn’t LOVE it.  As I raced I would place in my age group, and sometimes overall, but I still dreaded every training run.  I never felt like a runner, more a washed up athlete who still had a little speed left in her.

Then I learned about trail races.  I had always LOVED the woods, and have even done some trail running while prepping for an Adventure Race and even the marathon.  This was a whole new ball game for me.  I LIKED this.  Running in the woods made me feel like an athlete.  Twisting, turning, jumping through obstacles.  I felt free.  I felt a sense of, “this is where I belong”.  I started to LOOK FORWARD to runs.  I did what I never DREAMED of doing on the road…I ditched my headphones.  I wanted to hear the sounds of nature, or better yet, the sound of SILENCE.  I was alone in the woods, away from the cars, cell phones, people, and the craziness of life.  My mind went to a meditative state and my thoughts became so clear.

I signed up for a couple of trail races (you can read about them: Summer Solstice 2013, Bimblers Bluff 10K, Summer Soltice summer solstice 2013 22012 ) and started to read blog after blog about them.  Not only did I love trail running, but I begin to fall in love with the community of trail racing.  They seemed to have a more laid back mentality and also a very “green” approach.  I am learning that many enjoy a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and also share many other beliefs as me.  I think I have found my post-collegiate-athlete-calling.  So, I took the next step.  I signed up for my first Ultra-Marathon.  32.5 miles in the wioods.

So, I sit here a day after completing my longest (hours) training run (or run in general) ever.  My brother will be doing the race with me, and we ran 24 miles yesterday through Case Mountain and Gay City.  Over 4 hours.  I know I risk sounding very corny and cliché when I write these posts, but whatever..It is what it is.  Yesterday was a journey for me.  A journey of emotions, physical pains, mental roller coasters, doubts, joys, etc.  I’ll Explain..

There will never be a better training partner for me than my brother.  He is a ridiculously good runner, but more than that, a mentally strong runner.  His text he sent me the night before the run sums it up, “you are way more prepared than me, but what I lack in physical I try to make up mentally”  I have learned so much from him in this category, and I still have so much more to learn.  As we ran that 24 miles I had so many thoughts.

  1. “Okay, I told him we need to start slow, why are we doing a 9 min mile?”
  2. “Just tell him to go ahead, don’t risk your training run just to stay with him.  Run your run.  Dial back and let him go.”
  3. “He is pushing you outside of your comfort zone.  Stay with him.  Maybe you are capable of this.”
  4. “Why haven’t you been training with him more.  He is what will make you ELITE”

I survived the run with him.  When we crossed over to Gay City to do our last 6 miles I started to feel good.  I picked up the pace, and the Garmin was reading a sub 9 minute mile.  He told ME to dial back because we will never make it up the last hill if we maintain this pace.  This was when the back and forth of highs and lows began.  I would bonk, he would get energy.  I would just try to stay with him.  Roles would reverse.  Back and forth.  Then we hit that last hill.  The one we had both been thinking about the last 6 miles.  I hit that hill and just thought, “keep moving”.  At this point I was leading (a little strategic move by me.  I mentally couldn’t deal with him racing ahead without quitting, but also knew I would keep moving if he was behind me)  Well, we made it to the top without stopping.  And I would like to think it was a decent pace.  Once we hit the top Matt said two words, “great climb”.  Those words meant the world to me, because his words have always meant the most to me.

DSCN2516_0001Later that night he sent me a text that summed it all up, “…The only way I made it up that last hill was literally by not looking up, but just staying fixated on your feet and thinking ‘If they keep moving, I’ll keep moving’ Good partners push each other at different times. One doesn’t dominate the other.”

I had no idea how much I was pushing him up that hill, but he has no idea how much he pushed me most that run and through life.  I was the athlete I was in High School and College because of him and my father, and I am hoping to be the runner I think I can be because of him.  After yesterday’s run, 24 tough miles at a sub 10 min mile, I can’t help but think, “why not me?”.  Why can’t I be elite?  If I can dial in my nutrition and stomach issues I think I can be.  I KNOW this.  Just admitting that is a big step for me.  After this 50K I will have a better idea of where I am at, but maybe it’s time for me to start thinking the way I did my whole life, starting as a child running around that block.

“You have to do what others won’t, to achieve what others don’t.”

As many of you know, I have been training for my first ultra marathon these past couple of months. I signed up for the Bimblers Bluff 50Kish (the “ish” is what is killing me. An extra 1.5 miles. Seems so short. Tell that to my legs when I hit 18.5 miles on Sunday. Ouch) which is October 20th. It takes place through the woods of Southern Connecticut, consisting of mostly single track and forest roads.

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My training has been going well. Much different from my Hartford Marathon training. There’s the obvious: I am training mostly in the woods as opposed to mostly on the road.  However, there are other changes I have made that I am very happy with. I was lucky enough to find a great training partner who has taught me a lot about how to train. Probably because he has ultra running experience, and his wife is a ROCKSTAR runner. the real deal.  (www.msfitrunner.com) So, when a chick that rocks out sub 3 hour marathons & sub 18 min 5Ks tells you to do AB and C to get stronger & faster, you do it. Even if C is running on the ROAD doing 1/4 mile repeats. Yuck.

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But, me & the rockstars hubs do them. Why?  As he says, “coach said so”. Well, turns out, as it has happened through most my sports career, coach may be right. While doing my last 2 training runs (18 & 20 miles at Case Mountain) I felt strong. I felt good (except that last 1.5 miles Sunday). So, I have found a new, strange, love for speed work and hill repeats. I am realizing that training plans and coaches have you do these (awful) workouts because they work.

So, instead of just going out and running different distances at whatever speed feels right for the day, then adding 2 miles to each long run, I am now mixing in some hill repeats, track workouts, core and bootcamp classes at mission FITNESS (www.missionfitnessllc.com), 30-50 mile bike rides, and lots of foam rolling!  I am hoping this will all make sense and come together on October 20th  for a strong race!