>The waiting is the hardest part….

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Not too much to report. The taper has begun, which is generally the most nerveracking difficult time of the training process. The build/peak weeks are cut and dry. You either do the workout, and get through it, or you don’t. You meet your times, or you don’t. The taper is much more abstract, with runs based on feelings and disposition. But last week was good. For as much running as I did, I felt strong and there wasn’t too much lingering tiredness or soreness.

5/17: 6×2 mile, 1 mile wu and 1 mile cd; 2 hours
5/18: easy hour, 7 miles
5/19: 20 miles with 10 miles at MP; 3 hours
5/20: easy hour, 7 miles
5/21: 1:15 of hills in the AM, 2:45 of hills in the PM, 26 miles.
5/22: HUMP 50K, 5 hours 15 minutes
5/23: Off

Totals: 106 miles, 16 hours, 15 minutes

Definitely the toughest week I have put in. The HUMP run was a good exercise in patience – I definitely practiced staying calm and dealing with issues during the run. I ran alone for most of the 32 miles, had to play close attention to course markings, and had to deal with no water stations on the second loop.

Aside from that, all I can say is I feel ready. I’ve put in the miles. Not a day in the past few weeks has gone by without thinking about the race in some way. I get pumped thinking about this moment from last year:

and it feels like time to do it again. 8 more days…….

>Rinse and Repeat

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*I’ve had this post sitting for awhile now, waiting to add things, but then I got lazy so I’m just combining a lot into a big post*

5/3 – Recovery 8.5 miles, 1 hour 5 minutes

5/4 – 4×2 mile, 2 mile wu, 2 mile cd, 1 hour 45 minutes

5/5 – 21ish? on trails, 3 hours

5/6 -8.5 recovery, 1 hour 20 minutes
5/7 – 3×20, 2×10 hills, 10 minute cool down, 20 miles; 2 hours 50 minutes
5/8 – 29 miles; 6 hours
5/9 – 1 mile; 8 minutes, 22 seconds

Total: 101 miles, 16 hours, 8 minutes, 22 seconds

So this week went much better than last. I struggled a bit with the 4×2’s again, but I think that is normal as my speed has been falling off with all of my long runs. I was a bit worried coming off of the hill workout this week that I may not hold up for the long run. Usually I would just accept that it would be slower than usual, but since Bobby was going to head down to the OD course with me I wanted to make sure I wasn’t holding him back…too much. We headed out the door at 5:30 saturday morning, dropped aid at 2 spots (Elizabeth’s Furnance and Veach West) and drove over to the Little Fort area to park. This was going to allow us to run ~29ish miles of the course, from 64 – 93. We both knew that seeing the last third of the race course would be a huge help for our own race. The day took about 6 hours, stopping/goofing off/napping included.
This included about an hour of a climb up to Sherman’s Gap, and then a half hour climb up to Veach Gap. Melissa will be with me for these parts of the race, so that should make them more bearable on race day πŸ™‚ I still didn’t see any bears, but we did see this snake:
BUT the realy highlight of the week was the 2nd Annual Arjun Birthday Baltimore Beer Mile Championships. I was back and ready to defend my title of first woman from last year, and a little scared about the fact that I actually had another competitor in my division this year (usually girls do teams of 2). Alas, my beer-drinking abilities are similar to that of a 200 pound male, and I kept my title for a second year in a time that surprised even me, 8:22. I think I need to market this skill a little better, I feel like that’s where my future is. Anyway, I made a sweet video of the event and it’s on youtube HERE.
Moving on after that, I had a nice little rest week on tap.  I still had 2 long runs of 17ish miles and 20 miles, but other than that I did easy days of an hour to an hour and a half, with TWO days off! Yes, that’s right, I was that tired. Along with being tired, I have noticed I am hungry all the time. So hopefully that means something is working.

>Things Fall Apart

>This post has nothing to do with Chinua Achebe’s book, but as I was running yesterday those words kept popping into my head as the theme for the week. I felt overly confident after last week’s workouts, and going into this week I figured I was superhuman and would handle the workouts again just as well. This is my weekly wrapup:

4/26 – 4×15 minutes, 10 miles; 1 hour 25 minutes
4/27 – 7 miles easy; 1 hour
4/28 – 15 miles (6 at Marathon Pace); 2 hours
4/29 – 7.5 miles easy; 1 hour 5 minutes
4/30 – 4×20 hills; 20 miles; 2 hours 50 minutes
5/1 – 32 miles on the AT, 6 hours 15 minutes (with breaks)
5/2 – Off

Totals: 91.5 miles; 14 hours 35 minutes

So maybe this is what Ben refers to as metamorphisizing. I know that in order to get stronger, you first need to be broken down. I have one more “build” week, where I will probably hit 95-100 miles, then I get a rest week!! (my massage is already scheduled :)) I would like to say that at least one of these workouts last week was a “strong” one for me, but that wasnt the case. I think the 2 hours would have been okay but I was having stomach problems. The hills were just hard. I made it through 4 of them, but then was supposed to do 20 minutes at marathon pace. I got through like 45 seconds, then just slowed to a jog for 10 minutes and called it quits.

Saturday’s forecast was 90 degrees. Not great news for a long run, but was kind of a blessing in that I can practice in the heat before race day. I had intended to go out to the OD course, but with a weather report like that and a lack of knowledge and comfortability knowing where I could pick up water…..mama didn’t raise no fool. You’re asking for trouble heading into unknown trails in the heat. So, I went out to the AT to do a out and back. Usually, this run takes me about 5 hours. Knowing where the water was, I could just relax and get the miles in. Or so I thought. The trip out went well. There were a good amount of people out hiking on the trail which always makes me happy. I think my favorite groups are the boy scout troops. The boys are mostly afraid to look at me and seem quite nervous about my spandex and sports bra which leaves little the imagination. Meanwhile the dads are pumped to see me and give me encouragement in the form of comments like “You go girl!” (he probably has a daughter) to (as he stares at my legs) “You look….in shape.” (he probably doesn’t have a daughter….). So that makes the time go by. I also got to have a staring contest with this little guy:

So I made it all the way out in 2:35. Perfect! Right on schedule. I knew my Nathan pack was about 1/2 full, so I thought I was on track with that too. I guess this is about the time of day when it really started to heat up, because climbing up the switchbacks I was downing the water. Then I kept drinking while I was running. And kept drinking. Until finally, I had no water left. My watch indicated that I still had about 25 minutes at least of running to the water stop. Crap! And on a day when I thought I planned it well! I managed to remain calm though, and kept telling myself to just take it easy, I will get there. Eventually I did and basically showered under the water pump when I got to Gathland State Park. It seemed like as soon as I was wet, I was dry again though, so I got some food in me and kept going. I was hurting at this point, but nothing too major, just felt very dry….my black shorts were now caked in white salt too. I got up to my favorite lookout spot here:

 and knew I was close to the end. About 1 minute from the car there’s another water pump so I stopped again, and when I stopped this time the heat really hit me. I was dizzy and dry heaving a bit, but I sat for a few minutes before pushing to the car. I knew it was just a matter of getting to the Subway about 5 miles away and getting some food and a coke in me. Unfortunately, my body didn’t want to wait that long and I had to pull off to take care of some sickness on the way. I suppose I was more dehydrated than I thought. Sigh. I will certainly have to work harder at that for OD. But I did make it to Subway and got a footlong chicken bacon ranch and a large coke which hit the spot. All in all, not too bad a run, but a definite reminder than when it’s hot, DRINK!

>A Comparison

>As race day comes closer and closer, I find myself doing more and more exactly what every ultrarunner does-but-should-never-do before a race….read as many reports about said race as possible. Just as with Western States, I find two bad race reports for every good, three reports of hot, humid weather for every year of cool temps and overcast skies, etc….. I’ll leave the details out, but here’s a brief comparison of the two races:

Western States: limit of 370 runners (lottery) + allotted qualification spots
Old Dominion: ?? If there’s 50 starters we’ll say its a good year.

Western States: Cutoff: 30 hours
Old Dominion: Cutoff: 28 hours

Western States: Aid stations: 24
Old Dominion: Aid stations: 24

Western States: climb: 18,000 feet. descent: 22,000 feet
Old Dominion: climb: 14,000 feet. descent: 14,000 feet

Western States: Originated in 1974 (oldest 100 mile run)
Old Dominion: Originated in 1979 (2nd oldest 100 mile run)

Western States: Pacer? Yes, for ~45 miles (a little less if you’re moving faster)
Old Dominion: Pacer? A safety runner is allowed for 12 miles

Western States: Point to point course, starting in Squaw Valley and ending in Auburn, CA
Old Dominon: Start/finish at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, VA

Western States: Finished in 28:09
Old Dominion: TBD πŸ™‚

>Week 1

>I generally don’t write all that much about my training, and I think that’s generally because I usually just run, bike, or swim…a lot. But, in an effort to do well at OD, I am doing more specific workouts the next 6 or so weeks to get ready. So I probably won’t detail them too much, but I’ll outline what I do:
4/19 – Easy 7.5 miles, 1 hour
4/20 – 15 miles; 6×7:30 in the middle; 2 hours
4/21 – 10 miles; 4x15min + w/u and c/d; 1:20
4/22 – Easy 7.5 miles, 1 hour
4/23 – 15 miles; 3×20 min hill workout; 2 hours
4/25 – 31 miles; 5 miles easy, trail marathon (race); 42 min+4:31 race = 5:13

Totals: 86 miles; 12 hours 33 minutes

Not bad. My legs took the increase in mileage really well. My strongest workout was the hills….I went out to Loch Raven Resovoir and clocked the hill from the bottom of Loch Raven Dr to the tippy top of Providence Rd to be 2.5 miles. I parked at the top and jogged down 20 minutes….turned around and ran back up in just *under* 20 minutes. Same thing twice more. The second run up was ~30 seconds slower than my run down, and my third was ~1 minute slower. So obviously good effort, and I held up well. That was Friday evening, and less than 12 hours later I was in Newark, DE for the Trail Dawgs Triple Crown Trail Marathon.  I needed to do at least 30 miles for the day, so I got there early to put in 5 beforehand. As I was lining up for the race, I saw that Nate, my marathon coach from USNA was running too! He was coming off of Boston this week, so neither of us were quite sure what the day would hold. I started out conservative, which was helped by the fact that the half-marathon starts 10 minutes ahead, so soon enough you are caught behind the slower half runners (sidebar rant for a second….if you are a back of the pack runner in a trail race, do NOT wear headphones. I don’t mind politely asking for a good place to pass and hanging out behind for a minute, but when I ask 2-3 times for some room but you can’t hear me bcause you’re jamming to Nickleback, it makes me want to push you in the river.)

Anyway, I came through the first loop in about 2:10 or so. Melissa, Brennan, Ryan & Meghan McGrath were all out there cheering for me (awesome surprise to see you guys, thanks again! And big shoutout to MEL who WON the 10K which she ran pretty spur of the moment on their way to Philly to watch others at Penn Relays….) Look how happy I was to see them!

Anyway, I grabbed some snacks and went out on loop two. The trails here were great – very runnable and well kept. I had a good time going the whole time (also thanks to the man at the aid station with the cold washcloths…that was awesome!!)

When I got to the final river crossing though I knew the day was beginning to take its toll as about 2 steps into the water I lost my balance and kerplunked in the water. The men I was running with did a good job of not laughing. But as I was getting up, I looked back and saw another girl. Shoot! I had managed to go all day holding 4th place and was able to keep racing out of my mind for the sake of having a good strong run. But 2.5 miles from the finish? Hell no! So I turned the wheels on and started pushing. About 3/4 of a mile from the finish, I saw a figure decked out in gold ahead of me….walking. Was that an N* on his back? Ha! I caught Nate! I yelled up to him “You better not let me catch you!!” to which he turned around and said some choice words. I caught him and we pushed each other up the last few hills and into the field where we finish. As we were sprinting in to try to beat each other, he turned to me and laughed and said “hey, just like old times at practice eh?” So that was pretty cool. It’s nice to race up North because it’s definitely a different crowd and kind of nice when I don’t know anyone else. But, it’s also nice to have a familiar face or two.

Anyway, I hopped in the car after grabbing a burger and headed home. My legs felt good, but my left foot has been killing me today. I am blaming the Brooks Cascadia trail shoes I tried out….which also turned to cement blocks on my feet after getting them wet. So yeah, sorry Brooks, not a fan.

Now it’s time to rest up for Week Dos…..

>Great Eastern Endurance Run (GEER) 100K Relay – Sept. 25, 2010

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NEW! This year for the 8th Annual Great Eastern Endurance Run we are adding a 100K relay event. There are 9 legs and you can form teams of 2, 3, 4 and 5. The shortest leg is ~2 and the longest is ~13. Every team member must run AT LEAST ONE leg of the relay. On race day, you are free to switch around the legs as long as at the end everyone has run once. Each team will be responsible for one team vehicle to get to/from 9 transition points, as well as a race number belt which will be the team’s “baton.”
More details are here.
Any questions, contact me, I’m the RD for this event πŸ™‚

>2010 Bull Run Run 50 Mile

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What you’ve got boy is hard to find
Think about it all about it all the time
I’m all strung up my heart is fried
I just cant get you off my mind
-ke$ha, “your love is my drug”
*This song has nothing to do with the remainder of the post, I only want people to understand what was stuck in my head for 8 hours and 48 minutes.
**Parts of the remainder of this post (like much of the blog) may be enhanced for reading pleasure. This story, while based on facts, may not be completly true.
Bull Run this year came upon me before I knew it. Usually the week before the race I am planning race logistics out, packing on wednesday, leaving nothing to do on Friday except eat and sleep. This year was a little different. On Friday I was at Oriole’s (home) opening day at Camden Yards till about 630 , and came home to eat AND pack AND get to bed at a reasonable hour for a 3am wakeup. Luckily, this race requires little planning – you can only have a drop bag in one spot, so there’s only a couple things to prepare.
3 am came quickly, and I headed out of Baltimore towards Clifton, VA. Only about 80 minutes from Baltimore, these trails are often overlooked, but it’s a great area. I got to the start and picked up my packet, realized it was going to be much warmer than I thought and put on shorts and a t-shirt for the run. Since I still rely mostly on GU when I run, I would wear a Nathan racepack and then have everything I needed with there and at the Hemlock aid station (mile16). Going into the race I knew a couple things – one, I wanted to try to go out hard. This has never worked out well for me in a race; however, it is inevitable that I do this at least a couple times a year. I figured this would be a good race to get it out of my system before OD100. Second, I knew that as much as I could carry in my nathan pack, it was going to be difficult to carry all my GUs and I would have to find something else that worked at an aid station in order to have the nutrition to finish.
The race starts with a .75 mile loop around the parking lot to spread runners out before getting onto single track. I was with the top 2 women for this loop, and we headed onto single track. I kept them in view, but stayed in the pack right behind them through the first aid station. After that, you do a 2 mile out-and back on a fast trail down along a river. I was still very close to them coming back through that aid station, but I was beginning to notice the fatigue in my legs. I would not be able to keep that pace up much longer. So, I did the smart thing and dropped back on my pace. Unfortunately this left me in an awkward position in the crowd – not quite with the leaders but also no one right behind me. I was either getting passed quickly, or no one was around. Shoot. I came up to the 16 mile aid station and saw some friendly faces. I told Bobby that this was not going to be a pretty race for me (although I did remind him that I am always pretty…this was just going to be a struggle….haha). I spent a couple minutes changing my bottles and GU, and then headed out. At this point I was probably the 7th woman or so.
After this I headed out on the trail for the longer of the 2 out and backs of the day. I felt relaxed, but not comfortable. Instead of enjoying the run I knew I was working pretty hard, which made it more exhausting since I was focusing so much. It was obvious that when my mind wandered I paid the price. I took 2 good falls in the span of a mile and a half or so. After the second fall I rolled over and was sitting there looking at the damage to my knees and elbow when a gentleman runner came upon me. Bearing no race bib, he said “i’m just a runner, are you okay?” I said yeah, I was fine, just took a fall, keep going! But he said “are you sure? do you need anything?” At that moment I thought about it, and did what any girl would do….I pouted my lips and batted my eyes and said, well if you wanted to run to the next aid station with me that might be nice. Of course, that would be my wildest fantasy! he said. So I jumped up and we ran and chatted for the next 2-3 miles into the aid station. When we got there I went into the chute towards the tables to get fuel and he peeled away (turns out he was out there cheering on a friend). I felt much better mentally after having company so I moved on, knowing that the worst was (almost) behind me.
Not long after that I came upon what most would say is the most challenging part of the day – the Do Loop. Not even much of a trail, its a 3 mile loop consisting of a lot of steep uphills and steeper downhills….not fun after 32 miles. I dropped my pack for the 3 miles though and having a lighter load helped me move along. When I got back to the end of the loop there was also PIZZA there. I grabbed a slice of pepperoni and was super pumped about the treat that as I ran out of there with the slice in hand I told everyone who I was passing (as they headed into the aid station) that there was PIZZA!!! They didn’t seem to care so much.
Even though I had been over half-way done with the race for quite awhile, I was finally headed in the actual direction of home, and that’s a huge boost. But, apparently I wasn’t moving as fast as I thought because I got passed somewhere around 40 miles in. At this point I knew I was close to being in the top 10. So I kept pressing on and BOOM passed a girl who I hadn’t seen since early in the race. I felt great and was running the climbs too! And then the wheels started to come off. I left the 45 mile aid station feeling great and within about 250 meters I felt like I was moving backwards. I could hardly pick up my legs. I couldnt think of anything else other than oh. my. god. how will I ever get to the end?
I struggled mentally for a few minutes before getting a hold of myself. Then I went through my checklist: Was I drinking enough? yes. Salt? yes. GU? hmmmm…..Looking back, I realized I had skipped at least 2 GUs since the pizza. Whoops. I quickly popped 2 into my mouth, washed it down, and kept moving. Unfortunately, it was a little too late – the girl I had passed a mile or two earlier came rushing past me like I was standing still. Gah. After a little while longer, the GU’s set in and I was moving again. Lucky for me the energy hit right before a technical section and I was able to pass the girl again on the rocky part! I knew I was within 2 miles to go at this point so I kept my head down and ran. I got to the last climb and when I looked down from the top I saw not one, but two women behind me at the bottom. That lit the fire! I brought it in the last 400 yards, finishing in 8:48, 9th woman, 55th overall.

This time was actually a few minutes slower than last year, but that doesnt worry me. Like I said before, last year I think I peaked too early. Now is when I need to put in the work and get the job done. I have recovered well and will continue to take it easy this week and weekend. I’ll be heading down to Charlottesville to help with the marathon, and I am opting to skip Bumpass in the name of getting rest and not stressing out over a race that won’t help me towards my ultimate goal. I made a few mistakes at BRR but hopefully I got those out of my system. I had fun and I am confident going into these last two training cycles!

>Bull Run (Quick) Prequel

>Tomorrow I am running Bull Run 50 mile. Last year I enjoyed this race and had a decent showing (5th woman, 8:43). It got hot last year, and I also had a pacer for the last 10 miles, so this year could be quite different. Due to life (homebuying, moving, work, lack of motivation) I haven’t hit training too hard after Syllamo. Mostly, I think last year I over-trained in March/April and didn’t pay enough attention to the 6-8 weeks before Western States. So, this year I am taking it easy in the earlier parts of my season, and after this race I have 6-7 weeks before tapering for OD to really get to work. Given the base I feel I have right now, that is plenty of time.

Talking to Francesca last night, my plan is this: go out to race. The first half of this race is fairly laid back, very runnable. The second half is another story. So, the plan is to play it by ear. Hopefully I feel good and will be pushing for a top 3 finish. If that’s the case, go hard or go home is the motto and I’ll do my thing. If it’s not my day and just getting through the 50 miles will be a victory, I’ll back off, stay relaxed, and save myself because that means…….a double! If I’m not out there to race, I need to make the best of it and put in a solid training weekend. So the goal will be to keep myself together enough to be able to get up on sunday and run. I can again see how I feel and do at least 12 but up to 20 on Sunday. I may have to get out to cherry pit to do that, or I may get to patapsco and stay on the trails. BUT hopefully I’ll be baller and will only have to pay my dues on Saturday!

>QOTD

>“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.” ~Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon, Last Lecture

GOOD LUCK to everyone running BMER this weekend. See you at mile 17 (and 22…and 32)!!

>Ode To Ben

>So there I was. It was last night after midnight at a local bar, watching this 30-something year old man wearing a bonnet-like hat I think someone found on the ground drop it like it’s hot.  Who is this man we have all come to love so much? Who is this man who sometimes we will find on a couch the next morning? Who is this man who, as much as he tells us no, can’t turn away the 40’s we offer?

This man, ladies and gentleman, is Benjamin Ingram. Unfortunately, as I watched his baller dance moves last night, it was with a hint of sorrow at the fact that this night was in his honor, as he will be leaving the greatest city in America – Baltimore – in a few short weeks.

Google searches on Ben don’t turn up the man that you are looking for. Our Ben is not a sportscaster in Mississippi. Neither of these two photos show our Ben:

(although I did have to do some investigative work on the first since that seemed like it was taken in the correct era)
(although that song is pretty sexy so if we could arrange maybe some sort of trade….?)

So who is Baltimore Ben? Let me tell you.

Baltimore Ben is the man you see who, at the end of the winter, metaphorphisizes himself into one of the fastest runners in the state. He is the man who you may find doing oval workouts on a square track. When you see a young runner with an obscure disease getting beat at his own 5K…you know he was beat by our Ben. Ben lives his life with the introspection of a wise old owl, and yet acts with the reckless abandonment of a college kid. Our Ben knows how to have a good time….and has left that good time in front of Zero’s house.
Okay, okay, enough with the jokes. Although everything I have said in the above paragraphs is true, Ben is greater than the sum of those parts. He has been a great friend and training partner to myself and the group here in Baltimore, and we will miss him. We’ll probably miss Kendra more, but are happy that at least she will now be able to sleep peacefully, without worries of Ben getting drunk and sneaking out of the house in the middle of a blizzard to run to the bar.
Okay, now really, enough with the jokes. Ben, you know all the times I have poked fun at you here have been in jest, and I wish you and Kendra the best in the mountains of the Shenandoah (que the Deliverence theme….). I am sure we will see you often, and I expect your time on the trail portion at JFK next year to be faster than at least half of the women’s times.