Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Plans and more Plans

It is that time again. Taper time. Which means for me to listen to my body. AR50 is April 9. I am actually looking forward to this taper as I am drained mentally and physically. There are a lot of changes taking place at work and it exhausting me mentally which means I have a even harder time sleeping so my body is not getting the rest it needs to help in recovery.

Right now I run the overnight Logistics process, well next month the week of Easter my team and I will be transitioning to an Early morning Logistics process. What does that mean you might be asking??? It means instead of reporting to work at 9pm I will now be reporting to work at 3:30am and working until about 1:30 pm. I also will be moving to a every other weekend schedule with one solid day off during the week instead of what I have now which is I work 4 nights and off 3. So big changes, but the biggest is dealing with losing 18 team members because they will not be able to transition with us. That is a big number.

So this week and next I need to on board about 30 new team members. I have to increase the size of the team because we have half the time to get the push completed. Push needs to be done by store opening at 8am. A lot of changes taken place and well, I don't adapt to change very well. But this time I have a plan. I Hope. I think the hardest part about all of this is I am taking a week off after AR50 and the week we transition to a early morning process I will be there for only 2 days as I have another vacation planned.

It is stressful, but I would like to think I am handling it pretty well. That is one reason I am looking forward to this taper so that I can recharge mentally and physically.

As with any taper the self doubts slowly make there way into my head, but this time I also have a plan for that. I know, all about plans this time around. I am staying focused and positive, I have already written my goals down for race day and have a back up plan for if things go south. I keep telling myself that the training miles are there the time is there and I am ready. I am ready for this race. The one thing that is different this year then last is my family wont be there, but I will have the support of my running family!

I have been seeing Lily from massage by Lily so that she can work on keeping getting my body ready for race day. It never amazes me how she finds every single area that is tender, areas I didn't even know about. After seeing her I feel so much better. I can actually sleep because my back isn't tight, my hamstrings feel so much better, and my ribs feel well.....they are getting better. In the morning I can actually move instead of being so stiff I can hardly walk.

The focus: Stay Positive!!!! Race Goals, and plans for "if" something happens. Positive thoughts and listening to my body.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

21.5 Wind Vortex

Yesterday, Saturday was the last long run before American River 50 mile race on April 9. We the Fleet Feet ultra training group were given many options to choose from, it all just depended on how our individual bodies were feeling.

For me, I knew that I wanted a strong mental run. A run that will boost my confidence going into AR50. What I didn't want was a run that would destroy me physically and worse yet mentally. I opted to do the 22 mile option instead of the 30. The weather forecast for yesterday was not looking good and since it had rained so much this week the trails were going to be extremely muddy and technical.

My plan for this run was to do a faster then usual 22 miler. To work on getting my little legs moving instead of just plugging along. But I also didn't want to go out to fast so it was difficult to find that happy medium, but eventually I did.

I was running with Power Girl as Miss P. was gone from the start. She is in marathon mode as she is gearing back up for Boston. So there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with her, she was a speed demon out there.

The course today kept us all on the bike path to help simulate AR50 as the first 26 miles are on the bike path. Not my favorite, but I knew it needed to be done. So all I could do was embrace it with a smile and just keep moving. The first few miles or so Power Girl and I were clocking a 9:30 pace or so give or take depending upon any hills and such. I was feeling really good, I was in good spirits and I was very talkative which for me is very unusual. The weather was a bit chilly with a bit of a breeze but luckily so far the rain was holding off. By about mile 5ish I took in my first GU. By mile 8 I took in some Tylenol and a salt tab and Power Girl had surged ahead and I was no longer able to keep up.

The wind by now was blowing pretty hard off of the lake and I was exposed with no where to hide. All I could do was put my head down and keep on running. I started to get the dead leg feeling and that threw me for a bit and I started having a mini mental battle in my head. But just as I was cursing myself I started climbing a hill and then my legs started to feel better. Maybe the salt had kicked in or maybe the Tylenol had kicked in what ever it was I was happy again. It was also about this point that I ran into a friend and that immediately put a smile on my face.

Beals hill was approaching and I could just see the front group that consisted of Power Girl, Hawaii Mark and Hollywood. I was maybe 20 yards behind, I was so close. They were now my carrots and that is all I focused on, just keep running, just keep running head down and power up this hill. Then I saw Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk. They turned with the front group, ohh how I so wanted to be running with them at this point. Then I had a idea. I grabbed my whistle and blew it as loud as I could. Could they have possible have heard it?????? Nope, the wind was to strong, no one looked back. Crap! Maybe if I try blowing my whistle in the tunnel it will echo. So I tried, they had to have heard that. Nope they didn't. All hope was just about lost. I was crushed. Why this was going through my head I have no idea, I guess I just wanted to be running with someone.

Then just when I thought all was lost Wonder Woman turned around. Yeah!!!! When she saw me, she said I thought you weren't too far behind, how are you doing? I am doing good. Just a little lie. I was struggling mentally for some reason. Maybe I had put to high of an expectation on today's run maybe I just wasn't into it. But for some reason it was hard for me to be out there alone. I ran with Wonder Woman and we chit chatted. The miles just clicked away. We ran into Chuck and Trish and they warned us that the levee was really windy. Really? How windy could it be?????

Not long after we made it to our aid station, Terry had set up a nice little ultra spread. We continued on, only 2 more miles to go before the turn around. Only this would be the toughest 2 miles. Chuck and Trish were right the wind was a nightmare up on the levee. I was having to run sideways and my effort to get myself forward was exhausting. The wind was blowing so hard that I could barely keep a straight line, it was pushing me. Wonder Woman looked over at me and said, "How about you move over before the next huge gust blows you off the levee." I had drifted to the edge and was tittering on it. Like I said the wind was a huge challenge.

Finally after fighting the wind blowing around so much we decided to run on the lower road. It seemed to help shield us a bit more but it was still windy down there. Soon enough we came to Cavitt road and had just a bit to go. We saw Power Girl and I decided that I could turn around. I had had enough. Plus I thought we could all 3 help each other to get through the wind storm, wind tunnel, wind vortex.

We choice to stay on the lower road but the wind was strong. Then we were on the upper levee and the wind was blowing so hard it made it hard to breath. This sucks, the wind was burning my face, I couldn't breath and it was blowing so hard in every direction that it made it impossible to tuck in. Good thing we were almost off the levee and back at the aid station. From there it was maybe 4 miles to the finish. At the aid station I had a bit of coke and some payday. Ohh how good that tasted. Then we were off. Only it was Power Girl and myself. Thanks for running with me Wonder Woman. You don't know how much I appreciated it.

With 4 miles to go Coach Nikon joined us girls and since the wind was still pretty strong I tucked in behind Coach Nikon and Power Girl tucked in behind me. Coach Nikon was not only the wind breaker but he was also pulling us. Thanks Coach. We made it to the pedestrian bridge and the home stretch was near. The parking garage and safety from the wind. Yeah!!! 21.5 miles in a wind vortex was complete. Thank goodness.

This run was very mental for me. I finished it though. I had a friend tell me once that sometimes it is the challenging runs that make us stronger. This was a challenging run for me mentally and I am stronger because I kept pushing myself and I kept myself moving forward.

American River 50 mile race is 2 weeks away. I have 2 target goals for this race. The first, to qualify again for States. The second to run it in around 9hours and 30minutes. I would knocking off an hour from last year run. I know that my training is there, the miles and time have been put in. It is going to be about running a very smart race and one that is within my capabilities.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Special Day

Yesterday I had my post race massage by Lily. Overall my body was feeling pretty good, legs were alive for my 7 mile run on Wednesday. But knowing Lily she would find the areas that would need some attention. She seems to always find the areas even if I am not aware of them. A knot here or there, a tight calf, a tender back and a super tender chest where it took my breath away.

But before the massage I had a few things planned for the day. First off it was beer thirty after work. I enjoyed a few beers after a long short week at work. By the end of April my overnight process will be transitioning to a early morning process. I have already been speaking about it with my team and so far I have 10 confirmed team members that will not be able to make the transition. That means I need to hire at least 15 brand new team members. I also will be heading out to another store next week to see how an early morning store functions and one that also has P-Fresh. Lots to do and not alot of time to do it.

By the time I got home it was 9ish in the morning and I was picking up Lil Man for a special Meme day. He asked last week if I could pick him up and I couldn't say no. I knew that since I had been up for so long already I was worried about going to sleep and not hearing my alarm and thus missing the pick up time of 12:30. So I stayed up, I think by the time I made it to bed that evening I had been up for 31 hours.

At 12:30 I headed over to pick up Lil Man. They were just getting lunch and Lil Man waved at me and asked if he could stay for lunch. They were having fish sticks, must be his new favorite. After lunch we headed to Target, he loves to play with the toys and he even got a new golf set. He has been talking about golfing now for a few weeks. Then we brought a special treat to Captain Kirk. Lil Man picked out some m&m's with pretzels. Too bad we had just missed Captain Kirk, but the store enjoyed them. I think they saved a few for Captain Kirk.

After that we went home and set up the new golf set. He enjoyed it. We had a good time together. I always love those special days when it is just me and Lil Man. He was so attached to me that he asked his mom if Friday could be special meme day too. Probably a good thing it wasn't as I have a head cold that has knocked me flat on my back. This cold came from nowhere and is probably my bodies way of telling me to rest as I haven't been getting enough sleep recently.

It was a great Thursday, but a long one. Lil Man had fun and I had fun. All in all it was a great day followed by a great massage by Lily. I hope I get some rest tonight as tomorrow we have a planned 18 miler. AR50 is just around the corner.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Way Too Cool 50K Race Report

It is race morning and I am feeling calm really calm, as in it is just another day for me. When in fact it was the first race of 2011 on my schedule. I wasn't feeling anxious or nervous. I was ready for it and I was ready for anything this day had to offer me. I was in a good place mentally. I was focused. I was ready to execute my race plan and finish within my race goal. I was also ready for if things went south what my plan was for that. I just wanted to be ready. Maybe that is why I was relaxed and not anxious. I was ready.

Like I did in 2010 for my races I spent the night over at Coach Nikon and Lily's house. It is tradition and one that I don't plan on breaking in the near future. We arrived at Cool around 6 am. It was cold but not freezing like last year. We mingled for a bit and then I decided I needed to sit in the car. What I really needed was a little quiet time, time for me to focus again. I did just that, I went over the course in my head I saw myself hydrating and fueling I saw myself running.

I spotted Miss P. and we both decided we should do a warm up jog. I have never done this before, but this time if felt like I needed it. Maybe to wake my legs up or just to keep me calm. I also wanted to represent the shirt I was wearing. The Fleet Feet Ultra Trail Racing Team. It was a big deal to me when I received my shirt and I wanted to do my best.

Once we finished our warm up jog I gathered my things did some last minute race preparation (body glide) and headed back towards the Fleet Feet tent for a group photo and then off to the starting line. Miss P., Power Girl and I lined up. I took in a GU about 10 minutes before the start and then it was time to go.

I was excited I was full of adrenaline because the first mile we completed at 9 minute pace. That is a bit too fast. The first mile and half was on pavement and I was just running trying not to get stepped or step on someone else and I was also trying to remain calm. Soon enough the field thinned out a little bit and we hit the single track towards Knickerbocker Creek. It was still fairly congested but there was plenty of room to maneuver without using up precious energy. After the creek crossing we were on a fire road for a bit before reconnecting with the single track and the congo line.

The congo line was long and I knew I would be wasting energy trying to maneuver through it so I just settled in and passed when others stepped off to walk. By mile 4 the day was warming up. I took in  my first salt as it was going to be warmer then what I was us too and I wanted to make sure I stayed ahead of my salt intake.

During the first 8 miles I walked a bit, my legs were feeling ok but it just felt like something was off. Maybe it was too much adrenaline at the start and this was the after effects of the adrenaline wearing off. I knew that I I shouldn't worry and to keep running. This section of trail was fast at times and then extremely muddy where it was too dangerous to pass. As I neared the fire station Miss P. was right ahead of me and Power Girl was gone. She took off around mile 2 and I never saw her again.

On approach to the aid station I heard "Hey there is Trail Pigeon" I looked and waved. I had a fan!!!! It made me smile. At the aid station I grabbed a square of peanut butter and jelly and kept walking and eating. I didn't need anything else and I didn't want to waste too much time outthere. I knew the next three miles were basically all down hill toward the 49 crossing. Miss P. caught up to me and we were running together until I took the lead and never slowed down. I was off. I was clocking 9:20's on the descent. I just opened up hoping I didn't blow up my quads for when I would really need them later in the race. I let go and was off. It was a fast descent to 49. My quads were feeling really good, I was feeling better physically.

As I approached the crossing Wonder Woman was there, she yelled my name and I waved. I ran across the street and she asked if I needed anything. I said "I am doing good, Miss P. is right behind me." and I was gone. I was cruising and I didn't want to slow down. I knew that Miss P. would catch me on Quarry Road as this is her strength. The nice rolling fire road. Quarry Road reminds me of Cavitt and I really do not like Cavitt.

I approached the aid station at mile 11 and here I grabbed a GU just in case and a square of PB&J. I was off just as quickly as I came in. I was wasting no time at the aid stations. Eat and walk, eat and walk and then start running. I choked down the PB&J. It was too dry for me but I knew I needed the solid foods in my system so to get it down without it coming back up I washed it down with water. Uhmmm a water soaked PB&J. Yumm!!!

I saw a Port-o-let and decided I should try and use it as I knew there was nothing else besides the woods. I actually went potty. Wow! That is amazing, I must have hydrated well and been drinking properly. Yeah Me! After the quick and I mean quick potty stop I was off again. I was feeling pretty strong on Quarry road but this road just never ends. It keeps going and going and going. I powered hiked the large hills and kept expecting Miss P. to come up behind me. She did, I looked back saw a blue shirt and asked "Is that you Miss P." "Yup" it was her. She caught me. But it didn't defeat mentally as I knew it would happen. It was actually a good thing she caught me because she kept me moving on the road. She even pointed out that we were at the half way mark!

We finally came to single track and I knew that I didn't want to be in the lead on this section of trails. I wanted to tuck in behind someone. But I couldn't keep up with Miss P. She was gone. Some runners came upon me and tucked in behind me and we ran eventually catching back up to Miss P. I really enjoyed running with Miss P. It made me feel not so alone just knowing that she was either in front of me within distance or just behind me at any time ready to pass me.

Miss P. and I had flown through the aid station at main bar. We were both not wasting any time. I did fill my pack up as it was getting low. We were now on our way to ALT 1. We had a few major climbs which seemed to have kicked my butt. I was struggling on these climbs. They just seemed to go on forever. I ran when I could, then I thought I need to eat something, I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and not long after eating it a girl in pink came running by me and I tucked in behind her and joined the train. I actually enjoyed this train. The girl in pink was holding a nice steady pace and I was right in the middle which forced me mentally to get out of what ever I was in mentally and run. And run I did. I looked down at my watch and were holding 9:30 10:00 minute pace. Pretty good, considering not to long ago I was hiking.

I held onto the girl in pink and our train became a train of 3 as others slowly dropped. When she passed  a runner I passed a runner not wanting to lose her. I just kept my eyes down and followed her feet. I just focused on her feet and kept thinking I can't lose her. The three of us talked a bit I told the girl in pink she was doing a great job and we just ran the sweet tacky single track together. She pulled me to ALT aid station where I downed a coke filled my pack with a little water as they were rationing it because they were almost out.

 I saw the girl in pink leave and I took off like a bat out of hell. I didn't want to lose her. I caught her again and thanked her and tucked right in step with her. We were on our way to Goat hill. A few other runners also tucked in behind me and the five of us were cruising. I was focused on her feet when all of a sudden at mile 23 my right foot caught something and I was doing a super man with my face and chest almost crashing into the ground. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet. How I don't know. The girl in pink slowed down to check on me I yelled "I am OK." The runners behind probably couldn't believe what almost happened. I was just keeping things interesting for everyone. I knew this section was runnable. Very runnable. The girl in pink did a fantastic job keeping a nice steady pace. We ran most of the hills and were making some great timing. I did fall behind for a bit but I was fueling and I quickly caught back up. We passed a few runners on this section and the miles kept ticking by.

Once we verve off the single track and onto the fire road on our way to Goat hill. I used this as an opportunity to take in some Tylenol, a salt and more fuel. I wanted to be ready to tackle goat hill. And tackle goat hill I did. I powered up it without having to rest. I just kept hiking as quickly as I could. I passed a few runners and just put my head down and kept hiking. As I reached the top I had also reached the marathon point. 26 miles and I was still feeling pretty good even after almost falling flat on my face at mile 23.

At the aid station I downed a coke and was off. I wasn't quit sure why people were changing their shoes because it was only 5 miles to the finish. I took off, I was tearing up the down hill section, I still had my quads. The only problem I had was in the footing. It was really muddy and I could have gone down at any second. One runner heard me approaching and quickly stepped off the trail so I could pass. I am so thankful she did because I don't think I could have stopped in time. Down down I go. Running the adrenaline was pumping my legs were moving as fast as they could go. Climb climb climb keep moving what ever I do keep moving. I saw the grandpa tree and knew 4 more miles to go. I am so close and I can make my goal of 6 hrs. I just know I can!

Down and up, I had forgotten that there is still a bit of climbing involved in this last section. But I kept moving. I tucked in behind some other runners and then they let me pass we were approaching the 49 crossing. I passed them and quickly caught up to another runner. He started cramping and let me pass. Before I left him I offered him some salt with some hesitation on his part. I explained we had at least 2 miles to go with one last major climb. The salt will help. I gave him some and I was off to the crossing. I had my eyes on the prize. The 49 aid station. I thanked the race officials at the crossing and flew into the aid station. I wasn't going to make the same mistake I did at TRT and blow through it. I stopped just long enough to down a coke and then I was off again.

I was only a little under 1.5 to the finish with one final obstacle. The last major climb. I ran what I could and hiked when I needed too. Then ran and repeated this process until I saw the meadow. Once in the meadow I knew it was a short distance. I just had to keep moving when all of a sudden my entire right leg up to my knee was in a mud hole and my right arm up to my elbow was in mud. What the F!#$???!!!!! I just ran into a shoe sucking mud hole. Luckily I still had my shoe on.

I pulled myself out and kept moving. I washed the mud off of my arm. I was thinking I can't cross the finish line looking like this. I know probably not what I should have been thinking but I was. I didn't bother with the mud on my legs I just kept running knowing the prize was near. This finish. I crested the hill and I could see the finish across the way. Two more right turns and I would be there. I hit the home stretch, putting it into another gear. One I didn't know was there. I hit the last turn saw the time and hit another gear. I was going to make it. I crossed in 5:59:03.

I did it I finished, but not only did I finish I finished under my predicted goal time. Wow what a day. I believe that I executed my race plan. I fueled well, when I realized that things were off I fueled some more instead of just carrying on. I was able to recognize and course correct. I hydrated out there I had to fill my pack 2 times and I also took in the right amount of salt. All in all I am very pleased with my results and now I really can't wait to see what the rest of the year has to offer.

Thank you to my awesome Training Team/Coaches Anthony, Kirk, Jenny/Lily my massage therapist for always fixing me and my fellow trail runners and family. I run because you believe in me which makes me believe in myself. Thank you for being so supportive.

Food Intake: 6 Gus the entire day (flask full with some water)
                     3 PB&J squares
                     1 Honey Stinger Waffle
                    5 dixie cups of coke
                       -2 main bar
                       -1 ALT
                       -1 Goat Hill
                       -1 49 crossing
                    3 salts
                    2 Tylenol at the start and 2 more on approach to goat hill (mile 25ish)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Staying Positive

Surprisingly with tomorrow being race day I am not stressing out, I don't have butterflies I am not obsessively going over what I need to bring (yet) I am just relaxing and enjoying this beautiful sunny day. I am calm which is a surprise....does this mean something is off? Should I be concerned?

Nope I am not off, my body feels good not great but good. Over the past 2 weeks I have been seeing Lily from Massage by Lily and she has been working on my trouble areas. Notice the plural for areas. It is not just one area but a few. My rib injury appears to have returned. Not good, but the good news is when I noticed it a month go I decreased by training miles and focused on quality over quantity and I allowed my body to rest. Huge change for me! Maybe I am learning.

Anyways, she has been working on me and getting me physically ready for tomorrows Way Too Cool 50k. It has been a painful process and a few tears were had by me on the table with the occasional reflex to hit and the begging to please stop. But it has helped and I am grateful for all the she has done for me.

I am excited as this is the first race for me this year. I am excited to see how my body will do as I know the training miles are there. I am excited for my fellow group members and the Fleet Feet Ultra Racing Team. I wish everyone a good strong race.

I have also been working on the mental aspect of running an ultra. I have been focusing on positive thoughts, mental imagery, seeing myself climb those hill overcoming and proper fueling and hydrating during the race. I keep replaying my past training runs and how my body had felt and what I can do differently, I have been reading my past race reports and learning from them. Ok so maybe I am obsessing a little bit, but that is better then thinking negative thoughts. Staying positive will go a long ways on the trail tomorrow.

This week has been a bit stressful at work. I had to make the announcement to my overnight team that we will be going to a day side process in a little under 8 weeks. Which means the process starts at 4am and I will have to be there at 3:30 am. I am having mixed feelings on this change, but that is with any change. I like routine and this will completely through me for a loop. But I am trying to remain positive and keep a smile on my face as I share the information with my team. How does this effect me you might be thinking? Will, like I said I will be reporting to work at 3:30 am. I will also be working 5 days now instead of 4 nights and I will be going on a weekend rotation. With every other weekend off. Change, Change, Change! That is what this year is looking like. So maybe that is why I have been putting in the extra energy into Saturday's race and I am ok with that. I guess I should keep telling myself if I can run 50 miles then I survive this change. I just wonder how that will effect my work, life, balance. I guess only time will tell.

Here is to the first race of the season, keeping positive thoughts and to remember just keep running forward! Have a great day everyone and good luck to all the participants of the Way Too Cool 50k and on Sunday the Shamrockin half marathon! Enjoy the trails!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Taper Week

This past week has been a taper week for me. Which means low mileage and a chance for not just my body to heal but also my mind. Running I have come to realize is a major part mental. It is the mental fatigue that can change a run. Mental fatigue that can slow me down when in reality I am not tired. So this week I have been resting both my body and mind in hopes of recharging for next weeks Way Too Cool 50k.

It is also a time for me to reflect on my past training and where I have come and where I plan to go and want to be. The miles are there, there is nothing more I can do. Not one more speed workout or one more long run will or can make me stronger. My training has been complete and now is the time to recover and focus on rest and race day preparation.

I have come a long ways in the past 13 weeks since starting this training program. I have grown both inside and out. I have made new ultra trail friends and I have found out so much more about myself, especially the mental toughness. I have had a emotional ride these past weeks with some fantastic training runs followed by some not so fantastic training runs. All I can do is except these for what they are and learn from them. I know that not every run is going to be fantastic but I can learn from each of my runs.

For instance I have learned that a positive thought can go a long ways on a long run just as a negative thought can bring disaster. I learned that I am a stronger runner for listening to my body instead of just putting the miles on because the training program says too. I have become a stronger and faster runner during this training program and that is because of our awesome coaches Captain Kirk and Coach Nikon and  Wonder Woman and the fantastic training program written by Julie Fingar.

It has been a tough 13 weeks trying to get all my running in all the while trying to find time to sleep. My training has had to change but I managed the best I could. I have had a recent injury flare back up which I am hoping wont affect me too much during the race. All in all I am looking forward to this first race for 2011 and what I can accomplish this year.

Awesome Training Group
Thanks for an awesome ride!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

26 muddy miles

I have never been so happy to see a fellow friend out on the trails today. I was just shy of I think 1.5 miles to the end and just ahead was Wonder Woman. I wasn't exactly too sure if what I was seeing was real or if my mind was playing an evil trick on me. But sure enough I recognized her voice "Hey, you" I was so excited I bent over on my knees and said " I am so happy to see someone, I have been by myself for the past 6 miles.And before that it was Miss P. and me the entire first 13 miles." It had been a lonely day.

I was definitely excited to see her. I was having a mental battle in my head and seeing Wonder Woman brought another gear to me. I was powering up the hills again. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. My steps didn't feel so heavy, I was so excited I wanted to toot my whistle. I had completely forgotten the racing thoughts running through my head, my thoughts were everywhere today.

Let me back up a bit and start from the cold beginning.

It was a very cool morning, it was 29 degrees out at the start but the sun was shinning and I knew it was going to warm up. Miss P. and I car pooled to Cavitt this morning and we arrived with plenty of time. The run today was 26 miles on the AR50 course. Coach Nikon had told us the trail was going to be muddy, with pools of water, mini streams and rivers. Basically my feet were going to be wet and stay wet no matter how hard I tried to keep them dry. I really wasn't in for 26 miles with wet feet.

Pre-Run Briefing

Miss P. and I hit the fire road and I tried to find a comfortably pace. My body felt a bit tight, probably due to the cold but I was also having some chest wall pain and short of breath. Maybe my chest wall pain was because it was so cold? Sure, why not! It seems that my chest wall pain has flared back up again but I am hoping it stays in check. Anyways it seems we quickly distanced ourselves from the group and arrived onto the single track in no time. My legs were a bit achy but I was hoping they would loosen up as my body warmed up.

The single track was a bit gnarly. It had shoe sucking mud, sink holes that when I stepped I dropped well below my ankle, water everywhere, puddles, rivers, streams, and more mud. This run was definitely going to take it's toll on my legs especially if I kept maneuvering around the shoe sucking mud. I just kept focused on the task at hand, which for me was proper fueling and drinking water. I couldn't worry to much over the other obstacles that were out of my control. By mile 5 I had started fueling and by mile 6 I took in a s-cap to see if that would help my legs and then by mile 8 I took some Tylenol.

We ran into Power Girl!

The trail I was battling with was winning. I knew we were approaching horseshoe bar. There I would treat it as an aid station and take in some solid food and I also needed to tie my shoes. But before reaching horse shoe bar we had to cross the major river that was cold with plenty of shoe sucking mud. I hiked through it trying to step where Miss P. had stepped, but she was way ahead that I had to just get through it.

Stream of shoe sucking mud

Soon we arrived at horseshoe bar and here I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, tied my shoes and was off. This time Miss.P had me take the lead. Today we were taking turns in the lead, I enjoy doing that because when I follow I can zone out for a bit and it helps to recharge me. I also like the lead because it offers me a challenge. A challenge to set a comfortable and keep a comfortable pace. We were maybe a few miles before the turn around when I felt my right hamstring, I immediately grabbed it and stepped off the trail. It felt really twitchy. I let Miss P. take the lead and I slowed down considerable trying to give my hamstring a break. After a mile it was feeling better but I wasn't going to push it because I still had a long ways to go.

We arrived at the turn around intake and Captain Kirk and Terry were waiting. They had started early to finish marking where Coach Nikon had left off. At the turn around I ate some Watermelon Chomps. I shared them with Miss P. and Lily. I also took in my second s-cap of the day. My body was hurting, my legs, my right hamstring, my chest. It seemed that my body was a wreck and nothing was loosening up. We were there for a few minutes and then I headed back with Miss P. right behind me. I wanted to get back.

On the return I was in the lead and when we had to run through the river huge puddle I plowed through it just wanting to get done. It was just Miss P. and me on the trail with the occasional trail runner but for the most part we were alone. And then it was just me. I thought Miss P. was going to catch back up to me but she didn't. I could hear her in the distance so I knew she wasn't that far behind. I reached horseshoe and filled my pack with some water as I was pretty empty. I also ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and chit chatted with the other Melissa while we situated our things. Miss P. joined us and soon enough we were on our way.

No way to stay dry

We had maybe 7 muddy, slippery, puddle ridden miles to go and at this point I was just done. I was mentally fatigued and I needed a way to pull myself out of it. I started singing, not very loud and it was only one line I could remember but it kept me going. Then I realized I was all alone and this time I couldn't even hear Miss P. I kept hoping I would see some other group members, but not today there was only 1 other team member in front of me. All I could do was just keep pushing ahead when in reality all I wanted to do was stop.

I kept going pushing on hiking the hills and trying to keep a nice steady pace. I was almost through buzzard cove and twin rocks and I knew once I was through that it was pretty easy running from there. I ran/hiked though Granite Bay and arrived at the fire road. Only 2 or so miles to go. I can do this. Only I was mentally fried for some reason this day. Mentally I wasn't in this run, maybe due to some of the issues I was having with my body but I was at an all time low with no end in sight.

Look what I saw on the fire road! Just for you Trailmomma

Then I couldn't believe what my eyes saw it was Wonder Woman. I have never been so happy to see a fellow friend out on the trails today. I was just shy of I think 1.5 miles to the end. I wasn't exactly too sure if what I was seeing was real or if my mind was playing an evil trick on me. But sure enough I recognized her voice "Hey, you" I was so excited I bent over on my knees and said " I am so happy to see someone, I have been by myself for the past 6 miles.And before that it was Miss P. and me the entire first 13 miles." It has been a lonely day. I was definitely excited to see her. I was having a mental battle in my head and seeing Wonder Woman brought another gear to me. I was powering up the final hills again. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. My steps didn't feel so heavy, I was so excited I wanted to toot my whistle. I had completely forgotten the racing thoughts running through my head. She ran in with me and I think I didn't stop talking which for me is unusual.

We arrived at Cavitt and I was thrilled to see the cars and just the thought of being done was exhilarating. It was a long 26 miles on the trail that day, but I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can persevere and keep going. I learned that my body wasn't tired I was more mentally fatigued and that is ultimately the bigger battle for me. Running really is mental and I just need to keep those positive thoughts flowing and keep on running because I never know what I will find just around the next corner or up that hill.

Here is to enjoying my taper week, to fighting the mental fatigue and to the unexpected. Looking forward to resting my tired mind and body and for a speedy recovery.