Friday, December 21, 2012

Misconceptions

Umm, wow. I haven't blogged since November! Oops. I promise I'm running. A lot!

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about running. Even runners have ideas that aren't always true about stuff they haven't experienced. This week someone said something about ultra running on a running forum I'm on. I was offended by it and my feelings were hurt. To quote, she said: "I know I want to be faster, but I want it to be EASY. Apparently these are not compatible goals, lol. Maybe I should be an ultra runner instead of a marathoner." Ummm, wow. So running an ultra marathon is easy? Of course I understood what she meant. Yes, the pace is generally much more relaxed in an ultra vs something shorter. What she doesn't get is that running slower over a longer period of time is not easier than running faster for a shorter period. It's just different. She was talking about heart rate and that if you are running slower, your heart rate is typically lower. Well, maybe. But when you are going slower because there are 50 billion rocks and a ton of hills I don't really know if that is true. Trust me, when I walk up a really steep hill with big rocks my heart rate is pretty high. There are people that run 100 mile races. I think a vast majority of them walk a lot. Do you think there is anything easy about that race? Definitely not. And had I run 100 miles or even attempted it you can bet I would have been far more upset by that comment. What an undertaking! To insinuate that because it is slower it is easier diminishes the accomplishment.

The fact is, there is nothing remotely easy about running long distances. I suppose you get to a point where it isn't quite as hard, but it isn't easy. When you get comfortable you strive for more. You try to run faster or you do a tougher race. I don't think any runner should ever look at what someone else is doing it and judge it in any way. The trail I run on a lot is really tough. It's technical and hilly and just plain hard. Does that mean I think someone that runs a paved running trail has it easier than me? No, I do not. I think they are doing what they want to and are probably a heck of a lot smarter than me.

I guess I think people shouldn't judge what they don't know. To me, running a marathon on the road is not the least bit appealing. It's not because I think running 31 miles on dirt is easier. It's because that's what I prefer. Heck, I would prefer to run 20 miles on the trail vs 2 on the treadmill. Anyway, I have a lot of random thoughts rolling around in my brain about this. Mostly, I just think people should be more careful about what they say. You can't always know what will offend someone and what won't and you can't always even worry about it. However, if you are on a forum full of runners and insinuate that any type of running is easier than another it's a pretty good bet someone is going to be offended.

I'm running a bunch this weekend and then will likely take a week off. We are going to Wyoming during the holidays and as much as I would like to run there I will likely wimp out in the cold and wind and not run at all. We'll see though.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mel

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Trails, New Friends and Thanksgiving!

In case you somehow missed it, last week was Thanksgiving! Who else ate way too much? I'm going to assume all of you did so that I don't feel quite so bad about myself. I am happy to say I ran 7 miles Thanksgiving morning to help offset some of the calories. Interestingly, while running through town I could actually smell turkey a couple of times. Seriously. There are a couple of houses that had such enticing aromas coming from them that it was hard not to stop and ask for a bite to eat. Since I knew the people they probably wouldn't have been shocked, but I kept running. Mostly because if I did soemthing like that my husband would have a heart attack.

On Saturday I went to Pittsburg to run with someone that I met recently. She's a member of the running forum I'm on and lives not too far away. Her parents live in Pittsburg and since she was coming to visit for Thanksgiving I talked her into doing a long run with me. I've wanted to check out the trails at Wilderness Park for a long time and this seemed like the perfect time to do it. I think Libby was a little skeptical of the whole thing but she met me there anyway. First of all, brrr! It was cold starting out. I really like the trails there though. They are pretty easy compared to my local trails and I like that you can make loops and stop at your car if you need to. As it warmed up we stopped to shed layers, grab extra drinks, gels, etc. We also ventured out of the park a few times and ran on the roads. It wasn't a quick 14 miles but we got it done. I've never done a long run with someone else so I really enjoyed it. The miles go by much quicker when you have someone to chat with. We both neglected to get pics of the trail due to some weirdness at the end of the run so I unfortunately don't have anything to show for my running field trip.

It was so nice to run with someone else and discuss things like nutrition, walking durning ultras, hydration, etc. We talked about PT, massage, injuries, etc. No one that I know really cares how often I hydrate or eat a gel during a run. They definitely don't care what kind of gel I prefer and won't give me tips on what they like and works for them. They don't care that my strategy is to always walk the hills during really long trail runs. When you run with someone else though they do care, because they want to talk about the same things. It's very cool. Or there's a chance that she only listened because she's really nice and wanted to get a long run in and felt like I was holding her hostage. Libby is running FlatRock next year so I got to talk about that. Since it's one of my favorite subjects it was right up my ally.

We had quite an interesting experience. There is a lot more to the story of our run together, but I think that's a story that is best left for another day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Piles of miles...

I haven't updated my blog lately but I can assure you it's not because I've slacked off on my running. In fact, it is just the opposite. The weather has been pretty much perfect and I've been running a lot. I actually ran two of my highest ever mileage weeks this month. Then I was struck by illness and didn't run as much last week. I still ran 20 miles, so at least I didn't completely quit running. It actually amuses me that I am considering 20 miles a bad week when there were times over the summer that 20 would have been great.

Why am I running a lot you ask? Well, I want to be training for something. Confusing? Yeah, I'm confused about it too. Conflicted might be a better word. See, there is a race I really want to do but it's likely out of my reach this year. My plan is to follow a training plan as well as I can and see what happens. I will wait until the last minute to register. If the race fills up before I'm able to register then I guess that's a sign that I shouldn't do it.

The rational part of my brain keeps telling me I'm crazy. It's been saying that since week 1 of Couch to 5K though. I stopped listening to it a looooong time ago! The crazy part of my brain keeps telling me I can and should do it. In fact, my inner crazy person is wearing a cheerleading uniform and waiving pom poms around. She's also skinny and cute and has perfect hair. Why can't I look more like her?

My husband and kids are fully against me doing this race. Well, that's not completely true as I haven't told them about it. (Don't worry, my husband doesn't read my blog. He won't read this! He's completely horrified that I even have a blog.) So while they may not be against me doing this race in particular, they are fully against me doing any distance further than a 50K. That race was very much a stretch for them. They can't comprehend why I would want to do it and they worry about me. Their feelings are legitimate and I try my best to pay attention to them. I can't have them worrying about me all the time and I can definitely understand why they would. It's not fair to them to have to worry. If they continue to be against me running a distance over 50K I won't do it.

The reason I'm not really saying what I'm sort of but not really training for is because whether or not I do it is still so up in the air. I dislike feeling like a failure and if I tell everyone and then don't do it I would feel like I failed. So right now I'm following a training plan that very well might lead to nothing except exhaustion and aches and pains.

Happy Running!

~Mel

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soaring Wings Half Marathon Report

I just have to say this: Best race ever!! Seriously, It was so much fun. It was incredibly well organized, the crowd support is amazing, it's a fun course, my pace group was awesome, etc. Seriously, if you have ever considered this race or consider it in the future, go for it!

The race is in Conway, Arkansas, which is about 5.5 or so hours away. My mother in law lives there so we made the trip. I got off work early on Friday and after a stop at WalMart for last minute stuff and a quick trip downtown Indy for some Neewollah food, we were on our way. I met a couple of friends in Conway for dinner and had a great time. If you know my husband, please ask him about his waitress from TGI Fridays. He and the boys sat at a table alone and his waitress seems to have taken a shine to them. Funny story!

Saturday I got up bright and early and got ready and got the boys up to get ready. My super awesome mother in law Marilyn made biscuits and gravy for breakfast! I've never had such a good pre-race breakfast. I think I need to more races in Conway. I knew parking was going to be difficult so we left pretty early. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. After driving around for a long time I finally got out and walked and Rick went to park the car. Marilyn, Ryan and my nephew Logan got out and walked with me. I felt bad for them because it was cold. I choose to do this, they didn't. Still, it was nice. Rick parked our car and Marilyn's husband John parked too. They both (along with Adam) met us right before it was time for me to go line up.

I got to the starting line and wow, lots of people. There wasn't enough room for everyone in the corrals so I just kind of squeezed in. As the race started people were still trying to get off the grass onto the road. When it was finally time for my group to go I realized my Garmin had entered sleep mode. Crap! I got it started about 10 seconds past the start line. Oops. Messing around with my garmin put me pretty far behind the pace group I wanted to run with so I had some catching up to do. I did get caught up and stayed with the group until the last mile when I went ahead.

I've never run with a pace group so I wasn't sure if I wanted to. I'm so glad I did though! First, my group was awesome. We had a lot of fun. Big shout out to Jesse, the leader. He did a great job! There were several times I felt like I could have gone faster, but thought it was best to just stay with them because I knew I'd get tired later. I was right!

The first three miles were uneventful and just easy running. Mile 4 was tough! There was a huge hill and if I had been running alone I most definitely would have walked. I was determined to stay with the group though and I did it! This race was such a boost to my confidence in regards to hills. I often walk hills but this race just had so many that if I had walked up every incline I'd have walked half of the race. Ok, maybe not, but there were very few flat sections. It was constant up and down. And guess what? I never walked!

After the top of the hill was a huge downhill. Yay! At the bottom of the hill you go up again just a little bit and then have some flat section to the next aid station and are back to the start. My family was there cheering and gave me a high five. I was having so much fun at that point. Again, the next few miles were uneventful. Up and down, up and down, and up and down some more. Lots of joking from the group. It was highly entertaining to just listen to everything people around me were saying. At mile 6 they had energy gel along with the water and gatorade. I'm not sure what brand it was but I plan to find out as it was really good. It just tasted like fruit without a lot of stuff added. I took two. One I consumed right away and I put the other one in my pocket for later. When I got to the end of the 8th mile I was pretty tired. This is when I was very grateful to be a part of the pace group. The next two miles were pretty rough. I was determined to keep going at the pace I wanted to go though and I did it! When I got to the end of mile 10 and knew I only had a 5K to go I started doing better. Then I really kind of perked up and started enjoying myself again.

I can't remember when it was, but we were running up a hill and someone had set a bowl of starburst out. Win!! But have you ever tried to open a starburst while running up a hill? I can't believe I didn't fall down. Also, they were really cold so it was hard to eat them. With around 2 miles to go (I think, math gets fuzzy) there was a gummy bear station. Woohoo! I got a little cup of gummy bears. Around the end of mile 11 (again, I think) there was someone handing out GU. At that point I didn't think consuming one would do me a lot of good but I took one anyway. I put it in my pocket and will use it in the future on a long run. After that was another really long hill. The same one from mile 4 actually, just coming up the other saide. That also meant the last mile would be mostly downhill. Rock on.

I was close to the top of the hill and realized everyone but the three leaders of the group was pulling away. My goal was always to pull away at the end of I had energy. It turns out I did! The last mile or so was great. I felt wonderful and happy.

My official time was 2:29:24. This is almost a 10 minute PR! The only other half marathon I've done is the Oklahoma Aquarium run. My time there was  2:38something. Almost 2:39 I think.

I have some questions about the chip timing. According to the 10K split time, I was faster than the pace leader at that point. The thing is, I wasn't. An aid station was right before and I had gotten the two gels. I slowed waaaay down while putting one in my pocket and had to really hurry to catch up. I hadn't caught up by the time we crossed the mat. I'd say I was a good 15 seconds behind. So that seems weird. Also, there was someone shouting times and she said 77 minutes and something when I crossed. I remember at the time thinking it was very odd as that was way slower than typical for me. According to the results I crossed 10K at 1:10something, which makes much more sense! Anyway, this weirdness is my only complaint about the race and it's not a big deal. Just in case you are dying of curiosity, the pace leader finished about a minute behinde me, just a little over 2:30. I'm so glad I pulled ahead. Finishing 30 seconds past my goal of 2:30 would have been really depressing.

I actually think maybe I could have finished a little faster, but I'm really happy with what I did. I ran a really smart race and I'm glad. I was never completely exhausted and never felt like I couldn't finish. I was just happy and relaxed. During the race I passed a lot of people and was happy that I hadn't started too fast and slowed down which is what I typically do. I also know I can go faster and have something to look forward to!

This week I start training for....something. I haven't decided for sure. I know what plan I'm going to follow and what I would like to do, I'm just not sure if it's going to happen. There are a lot of things that will affect my decision. Stay tuned!

~Mel

Friday, October 26, 2012

Balance

Do you know what I think the hardest thing about being a runner is? Balancing time training and/or racing with family. A good example is a race I'm doing this weekend. It is in Arkansas where my mother in law lives. Sounds like a win/win, right? I get to run a race I want to do and we take a family road trip and visit other family at the same time. Awesome! But you wouldn't believe the emotions that have gone into this for me.

First, I couldn't register until we got football schedules because if the boys had a game it was a no go. I got many texts from my mother in law asking if I had registered. Then I found out the race was almost full. Football schedules were late in coming this year so I finally just registered and decided if they had a game I could defer my registration to next year. Well, we got football schedules and there was no regular game that day, but it is/was the championship. The peewee football Super Bowl!! Hmmm, well, we likely won't make it to the Super Bowl, right? We can still go, right? It was obvious early on that Ryan's team wasn't going to make it. Adam's on the other hand was really good. Adam pretty much never plays so I decided if Adam's team makes it just Ryan and I will go to Arkansas. Yes, I would miss Adam's game, but I really wouldn't miss him playing. Yes, I am a bad mother sometimes. And if you think that's bad it's about to get worse. I spent a good portion of Adam's games hoping they wouldn't win! Seriously, wth is wrong with me? I realize that's bad. And good grief, a race isn't that important. And honestly, it wasn't all about the race. I want to have a fun weekend away too.

During the football season Rick and I had more than one "discussion" about whether or not Adam could just miss the game and we could all go. I was all for that, Rick was not. I seriously spent weeks being conflicted about this whole thing. After FlatRock all I could think was that I wish I hadn't even signed up for it. I was forced to run when I didn't want to so I could stay in shape. I was tired and hurting and cranky. Thinking about this race has consumed more time than it needs to and honestly it has affected my ability to be the mom I want to be. Seriously, did you see the part about hoping my sons team didn't win games? I'm ashamed, but whatever. I know people are judging me right now, but hey, I'm guessing all of you have bad parenting moments too.

So now that you are all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out if they made it to the Super Bowl and what we decided about Adam....

They did make it! Go Black Dogs!!! Seriously, I'm happy. After much debate and discussion among ourselves and with Adam we decided Adam would miss the game and we would all go to Arkansas. But wait. I called his coach to tell him this and he said "We aren't playing Saturday. We moved it to the next Saturday!" What?! All of that stress and drama and it was unnecessary? Now Adam gets to go with us and play in the championship! Life is good.

This experience has taught me that I need to prioritze better. I need to take the needs of my family into consideration before I commit to something. I have missed their games before to run and likely will again. I'm ok with this and so are they. I just need to decide when to do that and when not to. And even if a race I want to do is on a day we have no other plans, I know I need to consider the impact on them. Really, I think they can only take so much. Sometimes we need to just relax and be a family. Also, the worry about me when I run. I know there is no reason to worry, but my kids don't know that. I think I can only push them so far and I'm pretty sure we are at the limit right now. It's time for me to back off a little.

Sometimes in running is isn't a matter of "Can I?" but a matter of "Should I?" I need to be better at differentiating between the two.

Does anyone else have this problem?

~Mel

Monday, October 22, 2012

How NOT to train for an ultra

As you all know, since I keep bragging, I recently ran a 50K. The thing is, I shoudn't have. I didn't put in the necessary training for it. I probably didn't put in half of what was necessary. I still finished, but it was much harder than it had to be and less enjoyable than it could have been. There are countless articles, blogs, books, etc that will give you tips on training for an ultra. Heck, I might break out my own list of tips someday. Until then, I thought I would share a list of things you shouldn't do.

1. Don't skip half of your runs. I don't care what the excuses are, and I had plenty. You have to put in the miles.

2. When your alarm goes off, don't just go back to sleep. Ok, once is fine. Day after day after day is probably not fine.

3. Don't use every excuse that you can dream up to not do a long run. This will bite you in the butt. And really, there are good excuses. Most of the ones I used were not!

4. Don't refuse to run in any weather above 75 degrees. This is especially important if you are training through the summer when it is excessively hot. You are  severely limited on running days if you do this. So if you wake up, check the weather and see something over 75, don't go back to sleep! It's really not that bad. Ok, it is. The heat sucks. But there is a chance it will be hot on race day. You should probably prepare for that. For the record, I didn't actually plan to not run when it was over 75. It's not like I thought "if it's that hot I'm not running!" or anything. That just seems to be about the temperature that forced me back into bed time after time.

5. Don't jump from a 10 mile long run to a 15 mile long run a month later. There is a good chance that in that month of barely running you've lost some fitness and endurance. A really good chance. Furthermore, don't jump straight to 20 miles after that. It will hurt. A lot! And then when you do a 31 mile race after a long run of only 20 miles that's gonna hurt. Way more than you could have ever imagined!

6. If your race is in September, you should probably run more that 56 miles in July and 56 miles in August. BTW, how did I run the exact same amount of miles two months in a row? Wait, I know! Same excuses for not running!

I'm sure I did other really bad things while not training. I'm pretty sure I've shamed myself enough for one day though. Take my advice! Running an ultra is probably a lot more fun if you are trained for it. I hope I can do better next time. And speaking of next time, I have already signed up for FlatRock for next year. Yep, I'm crazy. However, I have something even crazier in mind. Maybe. I haven't deciced. Stay tuned!

~Mel

Monday, October 1, 2012

FlatRock 50K Report

I have so much to say about this race that it's hard to start. I haven't really sorted through all of what happened in my own mind, so it's hard to imagine laying it all out for people reading.

I should start with the pre-race dinner. I made Ryan go with me again this year so I didn't have to go alone. He had to leave football practice a little early to go. I asked if he told his coach why he was leaving and he said "Mom. I was not going to tell my coach I was leaving early so I could go have dinner with my mom!" Ok! I've been put in my place! We got there and got our spaghetti and found a picnic table with a few people. Much to Ryan's horror, I asked the people sitting there if we could sit with them. I really enjoyed visiting with the ladies sitting there. There was a young man also, but he was really quiet. We visited for awhile about the race and then it was time to head home. I went to pick up my packet and talked with Ken "TZ" Childress. He gave me some advice and assured me I was going to be fine. I've emailed Ken in a panic a few times and he's always kind enough to reply.

After the dinner I went home and finished getting everything ready for the next day. I had already dropped off a bag with Jennifer, aka crewperson extraordinaire, but still needed to get a few things ready. I got everything ready and went to bed. I thought I'd have trouble sleeping but I really didn't. In fact, in the morning I pushed snooze and went back to sleep several times. Rick got up and drove me out to the race because I didn't want to drive out there and then have to drive myself home. I got to the shelter house right in time for the pre-race briefing. I think this is where people stand around freaking out or just thinking "yeah  right, it isn't that bad" while Eric gives all of the warnings. Let me assure you, it really is that bad!

After the briefing I found the two ladies I met the night before and walked to the start with them. I hate being alone at things like this. I need a running partner! Roll call was done and it was time to go! There is a nice little section of road before you head off into the trees. Once you are in the trees the trail goes up and up and up. Then it goes up just a little more! I stayed right with the two ladies for a while. Eventually I decided I really just needed to run my own race and not try to keep up with others. Since they finished an hour ahead of me that was probably a good decision. Trying to keep up would have just worn me out too soon.

About a mile into the race there is a crevice you have to go down through. It was a little muddy, so my feet were slick. When I stepped down my foot slipped and kind of twisted. I slammed my right side into the rock wall. Ouch! I think I loudly let loose with some expletives. My elbow was bleeding and my right hip hurt pretty bad. I knew it would be majorly bruised. I was right!

The first few miles of the course are the toughest. I somehow managed to run this section considerably faster than I thought I could. I wasn't overdoing it, but I wasn't just relaxing either. The thing I did wrong at the beginning was not drink enough. I typically fill my hydration pack halfway with water the night before and freeze it. In the morning I finish filling it and as it thaws I have nice cold water. I forgot to do that and was out of ice, so cold is not what my water was. Since it was warm I didn't drink enough. This really haunted me later.

When I got to Oak Ridge at mile 9.6 Jennifer was holding up a sign and cheering for me! She helped me replenish everything and gave me some gatorade.
Coming into Oak Ridge
When I hit Oak Ridge I felt great. Within about 1/2 of a mile I didn't feel so great. I think this is when I started feeling the effects of dehydration. I decided to slow down and try to conserve some energy as I wasn't even halfway and I was getting tired. I made it to the turaround in 4 hours 11 minutes. The cutoff was 4 hours 30 minutes, so I was well within the time limit. I was amzed! I also had a blister forming on my toe. I got a bandaid and sat down to take off my shoe and put it on. My legs started cramping so the aid station workers had me take some endurolytes. I had been taking some, but I think I way underestimated how much I needed. I also ate some salty potatoe chips and had another gatorade. Jennifer's husband Nate and son Chase were at the turnaround and they helped her switch the bladder in my hydration pack to a full one and get me some other stuff I needed. It was so nice of them to come! Tony Clark, who ran Badwater this year, was running the turnaround station. I was thinking "here I am being all wimpy after running 15 miles and this guy ran Badwater!" It was so awesome of him to be there helping out though.
Coming into the turnaround:

I left the aid station feeling pretty good. Within about a mile I started feeling pretty bad. Ok, horrible. I was dizzy and nauseous and just all around sick. I kept thinking I might pass out. I kept going though. The closer I got to Oak Ridge the second time the more I wanted to just quit. I was very seriously thinking of pulling out of the race at this point. As I was coming down the hill into the aid station I heard a man yelling "Go Aunt Mel!!" Huh? I look up and see my niece Jocelyn and my Mom. I started crying. I didn't know they were coming and it made me so happy. It turns out the guy yelling was Tony, who can add aid station hopping to his list of skills. Seeing my mom and Jocelyn was just what I needed to convince me to keep going. Also at this station was Dana Childress, Ken's wife. He had told her about me and introduced us the night before. She asked how I was doing and I told her not very well. We discussed how I was and what I needed to do to finish the race. She had me take more endurolytes and told me how many to take at the next station also. Jennifer was at this station again so she once again helped me switch out bladders and gave me more gels. I'm so glad I planned everything out and told her what I would need and when. By this time (mile 20.8) I really wasn't thinking a lot. It was all about just putting one foot in front of the other over and over again.

I left Oak Ridge with a pep in my step after seeing some of my favorite people. Not far from the aid station I kicked a rock with one foot right into the other ankle. Ouch! Ok, ouch isn't what I yelled. I won't say what I did yell because I like to keep my blog kid friendly. I still did pretty well from miles 20.8 to the next aid station at 23.2 miles. After that it went downhill very fast. My watch was way off so I didn't know how far I had really gone. It seemed like from 23.2 to 27 was about 10 miles. I don't think I ran any between these stations and it's some of the most runable trail on the course. Then I got upset because I was so tired I couldn't run and was starting to convince myself I would never make the cutoff. Then my watch completely died and I had no clue how far I'd gone. I was really down for a while.

When I heard music coming from the last aid station I was beyond thrilled. I stopped to get a drink and some food and asked how much further I had to go. I was told it was only 3.8 miles. I think I asked if I could make the cutoff and they kind of looked at me funny and said yes. My math skills were fuzzy at best at that point. I left the aid station completely exhausted but determined. I stopped thinking about how far I had to go and just focused on finishing. Relentless forward progress. No matter what, I couldn't stop moving. With probably a mile and a half to go I looked at my phone. Ummm, what?! I could finish in less than 9.5 hours. The goal was always 10 hours, which is the cutoff. I thought it would take me every bit of that. I started moving considerably faster at this point. With maybe a mile to go I realized I had a rock in my shoe right under the ball of my foot. I tried to wiggle my foot to move it but every time I moved my foot it cramped. I thought if I took my shoe off I might not get it back on. I also knew if I sat down to take it off I was not getting back up. I decided to suck it up and run it in with the rock in my shoe.

That blacktop road is a beautiful sight! I think I could have run the entire blacktop but I didn't. I actually felt pretty good, but I think I was scared that by the time I got to the dirt road and the finish line I would be tired and I did not want to finish walking. I would run a little then walk a little. Then I just ran. When I turned onto the little section of dirt road I started running faster. When I was on the grass running up to the finish I really started running. And I did it! 31 miles in 9 hours and 13 minutes! I beat my goal by more than 45 minutes.
Finish!!!!!
Belt buckle

At the finish line was Jennifer, Mom, Jocelyn, my Dad (rick) and Judy, Alex, Amanda and Spencer. Missing were Rick, Ryan and Adam. They thought they would be there but didn't anticipate me finishing so quickly. I completely broke down crying at the finish. I said "I'm just so tired!" Quite an understatement.

I think last year I said that the 25K was the hardest thing I had ever done. Well, this eclipses that for the hardest. It was so challenging, but so worth it.

I really truly appreciate all of the organizers and volunteers at this race. They are an amazing group of people. I wouldn't have finished without the help of the volunteers. Also, thanks to all of my family and friends who have put up with a lot while I trained for this race. People got out of bed early on Saturday mornings to take me somewhere or drop me off (or pick me up when I had a bathroom emergency or it got too foggy). They listened to my endless obsessing about the race and they never once told me to shut up. I would like to promise all of them that I'm done with all of this craziness, but I'm already thinking about next year. Will I be back to do FlatRock again next year? Absolutely! I hear the Hall of Pain calling my name. Only 9 finishes to go!

In case anyone is wondering, no, I did not finish last! Two people finished after me. I think there were some that didn't finish the race because I definitely passed more than two people after the turnaround and no one passed me while I was coming back unless I was so delirious I didn't notice. This is possible. Anyway, I kept saying I didn't care if I was last, but I was really hoping I wouldn't be. You know what though? Finishing this race is a huge accomplishement no matter how long it takes you to do it.

As promised, I will be writing a post very soon on how NOT to train for an ultra. I definetely didn't do it right. I have learned some lessons though and next year I will be back!

Happy Running!!!!!

~Mel

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pre-Race Panic

Saturday I'm running an Ultra Marathon. That is further than a marathon. I'm scared. Terrified. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Words can't really describe how scared I am. 31 miles on the toughest trail in the area. It would be hard enough to run that distance on a smooth surface. Add in about 50 billion rocks, lots of hills and some tree roots and you have FlatRock. Then consider that I haven't trained as well as I should have and you have a recipe for disaster. For some reason I can't wait! I must be crazy.

During my last long training run I noticed the battery on my garmin watch died quicker than I thought it should. Then over the next week I noticed it getting worse. Now I can only run about 10 miles before the battery dies. Uh oh. Not cool. It turns out I have to ship it back to Garmin for them to repair it. I thought I was going to have to do the race without a watch but a really wonderful person offered to loan me hers! I am so thankful. One less thing to worry about!

I'm also very happy to report that I have a crew-person for the race! My friend Jennifer has agreed to do it for me. She can meet me at Oak Ridge, the highway (turnaround) and then again at Oak Ridge. I think her main job is going to be forcing me to actually LEAVE the aid station and not try to curl up in a ball and cry. Secondary to that, she can give me any gels I need for the next portion of the race and also bring me powerade at each of the stops. I also like to have an extra pair of socks in case mine get all gritty, so she can bring those and I don't have to carry them. Wow, when I type all of that out it makes me look helpless. I kind of am, so I'm glad I have people like Jennifer to help!

My biggest fear is not getting to the turnaround in time. I know if I can get there within the time limit I can finish. I have to be at the turnaround in 4 hours 30 minutes. It will be horrible if I'm a few minutes over and don't get to finish the race. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that does not happen!

I'm hoping to spend the next few days relaxing and getting everything ready for the race. I need some new music, so hit me with your suggestions!

Hopefully next time I blog I will be an ultramarathoner!! How cool will that be?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dog Attack

You know how I'm scared of dogs and always worry about being attacked and bitten? Well, I was not worried for no reason! For a long time I've been having issues with a particular dog.  I first talked about the dog in this post. Take note of the fact that in the story I mentioned that the owner said the dog hadn't ever bit anyone. I have told the owners multiple times that I'm scared of it. I told them how scared I was and they assured me the dog was all bark and no bite. They told me the dogs name and told me if I would just yell at it to go home it would. Well, each encounter was getting a little worse. The dog basically corners me (there's no corner, but I can't move) barking until it finally gives up. This keeps lasting longer. Around two weeks ago one of the owners was outside when it happened. She sort of introduced the dog to me and it was actually pretty friendly to me. I was hoping that was the end of it.

Yesterday morning I was running and when I got to the house the dog ran out. I did my usual thing where I yelled for it to go home. Very quickly it ran around behind me and bit me. Keep in mind, this dog is probably 75 pounds. Very big, very aggressive. It kept barking and backing me up and would not back down. Blood was running down my leg. The owner was home so I was screaming for help. Really, not yelling. Screaming in terror. It bit once, so what was going to happen next? Eventually a truck was coming down the road so the dog ran off. I flagged down the truck and he gave me a ride home. I knew the guy btw. It's a small town. I know everyone.

When I got home I got the blood cleaned up and told Rick. I went to the house accross the street from me because the owner's friends live there. I asked for her number and when I told them what happened the guy immediately knew which dog it was. He said he knew it would bite someone some day.

I called the lady and she assured me the dog was caught up on it's shots, but she couldn't prove it as she does them herself. That's super common for our area, so I wasn't surprised. A little bit later she came to my house to apologize again and check on me and whatever. She's actually a very very nice person. Still, her freaking dog attacked me. I was going to just let it go, but everyone encouraged me to go to the dr and also report it to the sherriff. I did both of those things, though I really didn't want to report it. They are going to talk to her and make her quarantine the dog for however many days, but there isn't really anything else they can do. They can tell her how serious it is and how she needs to keep it penned up, but if she doesn't they can't fine her or anything. We have no leash laws.
Today my leg is bruiesed and sore, but I'm fine.  I hate that this happened, but hopefully the owner of the dog will start taking this seriously and keep her dog penned up from now on.

Here is a pic right after it happened:
A few hours later:


I have ordered myself some pepper spray and plan to never run without it again! Well, except for tomorrow and Saturday. It hasn't arrived yet.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Running Long

Anyone who has trained for a distance over a 10K knows about the long run. I think you either love it or hate it, but either way you think about it all the time. This summer has been woefully short in the long run department, especially considering I'm supposed to be training for a 50K. To say I'm unprepared would be an understatement.

On July 14 I ran 12 miles. Two weeks after that my long run was 9 miles. On August 18 I ran 11. Yep, that's pretty much the extent of my long runs since the middle of July. Shocking, I know. Anyway, I decided I need to catch up in a hurry. Last week I ran 15 miles. Wow. Tough. You really shouldn't make a big jump like that. This weekend I ran 20 miles. I knew if I could survive the 20 miles on the trail I could probably do 31. I also knew if I was going to do it, now is the time. Obviously I can't run 20 miles the weekend before the race. It was kind of a do or die run. If I didn't do it I wouldn't even consider the 50K at FlatRock. I did it though! All of the fun details to follow.

First, I was still sore and tired from the 15 mile run last weekend. I also ran a 5K race Saturday. Our town fair was Saturday and I got sunburned. Sounds like the perfect recipe for my longest run ever, right? Right. I woke up at 6:00 and realized I hadn't set my alarm. I quickly got out of bed and started getting ready. I had forgotten to charge my watch and my phone. Grrrr. I'm still determined! I got to the trail head and there was a big dog. I think my fear of dogs is well documented here so I will leave that alone. For some reason I felt good about this dog though so I got out of the car. It's obvious that he rides in a car a lot because he tried to get in mine while I was getting ready. I started off on my run and the grass that I had to run to to get to the trail was really wet. Commence tiptoeing (sp?) through the grass. I'm too precious for wet feet you know. Then I hit the trail and went up and up and up and up. Knee hurt super bad, but I kept going. I haven't talked about it a lot on here, but I'm having major knee issues, which is a big reason for my lack of long runs.

Miles 1-3: Wow. Hard. The first/last part of this trail is nothing short of sucktastic. Forgot to mention, the dog hit the trail with me. He was awesome. At mile three I realized his collar was engraved so I checked it out. His name is Harley. More on him later. At some point I realized I had forgotton to bring my powerade and drop it off at Oak Ridge. I knew that meant I would have to call Rick to bring it to me but I waited as long as possible to let him sleep.

Miles 4-9.5 are so much easier! I sort of finally got into a groove. I had a bad moment at mile 5 when I realized I still had to run the entire distance that I had done the week before and I was already tired. I started setting little goals in my head. It really helped. When you think about running a distance like that on that kind of  a trail it's intimidating. It's easier to break it up in your mind.

At 9.5 Rick met me with powerade and ibuprofen. He was supposed to bring chapstick too, but forgot it. My lips are majorly sunburned and were cracking. Not so much fun. I drank some powerade and started eating my pb&j while talking to Rick. I decided I better get moving though because the longer I stood there chatting the less I wanted to keep going.

9.5-15: Not bad. This is a relatively easy section. There is about a mile in the middle of it that gets pretty rough, but it's doable. By about 12 miles my shoes and socks were full of dirt and little rocks. When I called Rick to tell him I was almost to the highway (he was meeting me with another sandwich and powerade) I asked him to bring me fresh socks. What a difference!! I will remember that for the future. When I was almost to the highway I looked up and saw two handsome little boys running toward me. I got all choked up because they were such a welcome sight. They helped me change my socks, get the dirt out of my shoes and refill my hydration pack. I gave them my sandwich order as they were headed to subway and I took off.

16-20.5: I started really battling nausea at this point so I didn't finish my sandwich. I walked a lot of this part, but ran quite a bit too. My knee was screaming at me, but so was pretty much everything else. At about 17.5 miles my watch died. Darn it. It was right about here that I passed a bunch of people on horses. I was walking. The first person asked how I was doing. I said tired. She kind of smirked. I know she was thinking I was only about 2.5 miles in, so why was I tired. Little did she know I had run the whole trail and was on my way back.

At Oak Ridge I had lost Harley. There were some campers and he evidentally wanted to visit them. When I got back he jumped up out of the grass like he had been waiting for me. He was really far from home so I called his owner (number was on the collar) and told them where they could come get him. He was so awesome. I've decided I really need a trail running partner with four legs. He provided me company but didn't actually talk to me. He also didn't seem to care when I whined. Perfect!

I can barely walk today. Too much too soon. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I should do the 50K or drop down to 25. If I do the 50K I think I need to write a book or something on how NOT to train for an ultra. I have not gone about it in a smart way at all. Next weekend I will do the trail from the start to the highway, which is halfway. I need to know if I can do it in 4.5 hours, which is the time limit for the turnaround. If I can I think I can do it. I would then have 5.5 hours to finish, which means I could have a pace of a little over 20 minutes per mile. I could walk that. After next Saturday it's time for some rest and relaxation, plus a little running so my legs will be ready for the race, whichever one I do.

Stay tuned!

~Mel

P.S. My knee feels better than it has in months. What's up with that? I have zero pain. It's like it just dissolved at the end of the run. I'm sure it will be back, but for now I'm happy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Running? Huh?

Someone told me last night they haven't noticed any Facebook or blog posts about running lately. Wait. What? I'm supposed to be running? Holy crap! Ok, ok, I've been running. Sort of. I'm not running as much as I should be if I really want to do a 50K in a month. In fact, I'm doing about half of what I should be.

I'm sure I can come up with a ton of good excuses, but the fact is, I freaking hate the heat. I've had enough of it. I am soooooo done with heat and humidity. My clothes stick to me and my thighs rub together and sweat is running down my legs and pooling in my shoes. All I can think about is how much I'm sweating. I'm a miserable soggy mess by the time I hit 4 miles.

Enough of the whining. I'm trying to do better! Last week was great during the week and I was all excited for my weekend of running. Then it started raining. And raining and raining and raining! Rain is good since we are in a severe drought, but come on! Couldn't it rain on a Wednesday or something? I know there are dedicated people out there that would run anyway. I'm not one of those people. I'm a fair weather runner. This makes it sort of hard to achieve my goals, so I am trying to improve.

Saturday morning I think I'm having Rick drop me off in Independence and I'm going to run home around the lake to avoid the highway. Rick has a softball tournament and won't be home to come pick me up if I get tired and want to quit. No excuses!!* If I text or call any of you and ask you to come pick me up, don't do it! Unless I've been attacked by a snake or dog or baby chicken or something. Only in a real emergency can I have the option of quitting. However, if you would like to bring me a donut or pancakes or pie or anything, I will gladly take a break to eat. Or drink. I'm not picky! Oh, and if you want to run part of that with me I would be happy to have the company!

*I reserve the right to move my run to Sunday if the weather is horrible. We are supposed to get tons of rain Friday and it isn't supposed to cool off overnight Friday either. Plus, the humidity will be about 5000%.

If any of you have my cell phone number, feel free to text me Saturday morning so I will keep running! I need encouragement! If you don't have my cell phone number and want it so that you can send me encouraging texts, I will gladly provide it if you inbox me on Facebook. If you aren't on my Facebook I'm probably not friendly enough with you to give you my cell number. Or maybe I am. I need lots of kind words :)

Happy Running!!

~Mel

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Long time no blog!

I've been slacking. Not only on my blog, but on my running. Life got crazy with baseball season and all of the exercising and I just got completely worn out. I was exhausted. I decided to take a week off. I'm so so so glad I did! I needed it. When I tried to come back my knee hurt so I took another couple of days. I ran one day and then the next time I was supposed to run it was freaking hot. 82 degrees at 5 am. No thanks. I did run on Saturday though, albeit less than I planned. Long story, but I got a little over 9 miles in and that made me happy. Besides one 3 miler it was my only run in 2 weeks, so 9 miles isn't atrocious. 5.5 of them were on the trail and I loved every minute of that. Well, there were a few minutes in the middle that I had tummy troubles that I didn't love it. I will leave the details out. You're welcome :) The plan was to run again Sunday, but I was really sore. Wimp, party of 1! Your table is ready!

This week I am back in the saddle though. Monday night I ran the bleachers at the football stadium in Indy. It was almost 100 degrees and I had just finished swimming so I didn't do it for very long. I did it though! Tuesday morning I hit the trail again for around 4 miles. My watch was being unfriendly so I don't know exactly. It was fun though.

My fun sort of came to a screeching halt this morning though. It was a biking day and it ended up being quite the experience.  I was riding my bike and was about 3.5 miles south of town. I turned to head home and there were two coyotes in the road. I've never seen coyotes when I was running or biking, but there are tons around here. I wasn't in the least bit concerned. They will normally run away if they see people but these didn't. A truck came up behind me and they finally ran. One ran off into the woods as is typical but the other didn't. It kept running. It ran alongside the truck for a long time. I stopped being able to see it so I assumed it ran off into the woods. A bit later, maybe 30 seconds, I hear a thump and realize the coyote had been hit by the truck. This happens all the time in this area. However, the truck didn't even put on it's brakes! I'm thinking "OMG. Someone just killed an animal and didn't even slow down!" I don't want someone to have a car accident or something to avoid hitting an animal, but I expect them to take reasonable measures to miss it.

After driving about half a mile the truck turned around and came back. The lady stopped and I realized I knew her. She said "that wasn't your dog was it? It was a coyote?" I assured her it was a coyote. I was assuming still that she hit it on accident and wanted to make sure she hadn't killed my dog. Oh no! She told me she hit it on purpose! :o:cry: She said that it was acting strange (it kind of was) and that she was afraid it would attack me so she killed it! She said it kept going back towards me and she was scared it would hurt me. I was speechless. She was all shaky and upset but really felt like she had no other choice than to kill it to save me. I told her thanks for looking out for me, because that's really what she was doing. She may have been misguided, but she truly was trying to help.

I've been thinking about it all day and have decided to be thankful that someone was looking out for me. I've always thought that if I were stranded somewhere and needed help I would be able to find some. I guess this kind of confirmed for me that people around here care about each other. I really really wish it hadn't happened, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. At first I felt like it was my fault that an animal was killed but it wasn't.

I hope the rest of the week is without crazy experiences!

Mel

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Embracing the Suck

Sometimes running sucks. Sometimes it's the most miserable thing I can imagine doing. Sometimes when I'm running I think this will be my last run ever because I'm horrible at it and it's not fun very often. Why would I keep doing it? There are times that running is painful and sometimes it makes me sick. Sometimes it has me on the side of the road puking (remember the peach rings?) and wondering if I will make it home without calling for a ride.

I'm learning from those runs though. I'm learning that I can keep going even when I want nothing more than to stop. Really horrible runs teach me so much more than the good ones do. Every once in a while I have a run where all of the stars align and I run along grinning like an idiot and thinking I could go on forever. More often I have runs that go just fine, nothing out of the ordinary. Then there are the bad ones. It is during those bad ones that you learn something. I was discussing this with someone the other day and I decided everyone needs some suck when it comes to running. It's going to happen eventually and often happens during a race. Quite often something happens during a race that causes a setback. If you never have to overcome an obstacle in training how do you overcome one racing?

I mentioned puking on the side of the road. After doing that I had a lot of people tell me that would be a deal breaker for them. They would quit running and couldn't imagine how I went on. Really, in the grand scheme of how umcomfortable running can be that's not a big deal. I felt better after I was done. I wasn't going to quit running because of it. There was a time I would have. Not so much now. Last Saturday during my long run I started having stomach cramps. I needed to go to the bathroom. Problem? I was 5 miles from town on the highway in the middle of nowhere. I was headed to my mom's house so I called her. She came and picked me up. There have been times where that happened and I gave up. I would quit running. I'm really trying to run no matter what though and stop making excuses. After I did what I had to do (I know, tmi) I got back out there and ran more. I didn't end up going quite as far as I planned, but the important thing is that I didn't stop at 6 miles (it took her long enough to get there that I ran another mile). I went another 3.6 miles for a total of 9.6. My original goal was 11, so not far off.

In September I have every intention of finishing my 50K. I know there will be times that I don't want to or don't think I can keep going. I've been on that trail. I imagine it will happen several times. If I don't learn to push through the misery while training how can I do it during a race? Therefore, I've decided to embrace the suck. I'm still not going to like it when a run is horrible, but I vow that unless it is dangerous in some way to go on I'm going to keep going. I will persevere through miserable conditions so that on race day when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and die I will keep moving forward. I am going to become a stronger runner and stop quitting when the going gets tough. Most of the time anyway. I suspect I will still abandon runs early on occasion. I will still complain loudly when things aren't going my way. I still might not finish the 50K. I'm not going to give up without a fight though.

And for all of you that are right now wondering why I keep running if it is miserable, well, it isn't always. Most of the time it's very enjoyable.

Cross training update: I'm still doing it. I'm kicking some cross training booty as a matter of fact.

Happy Running!

~Mel

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Was I Thinking??!!

I did something crazy today. Really crazy. I signed up for the Flatrock 50K. That is 50 kilometeres. 31 miles. A really really really long run. I'm not sure what got into my head. Eric, the RD, must somehow put crack into his emails. It transmits through the computer or something. I got an email from him saying if I signed up by July 15 some of the money would go to a charity and if I finish I get a belt buckle. Who cares if I have a belt buckle? I MIGHT DIE! Hey Eric, if I drop dead at the finish line will you give the buckle to my husband? Thanks.

I am not prepared for a race like this. No way, no how. Can I be by the end of September? Maybe. It is quite likely that I will come in last place. I'm ok with that. I just want to finish. I think people say that a lot and they don't really mean it. I've said it before without meaning it. I mean it this time though. It will be a huge victory to just finish this race.

For those unfamiliar with this race, here is the website. Be sure to look at the pictures! It's stupid hard. I'm not sure why they call it Flatrock as none of the rocks are flat. You may remember that I did the 25K there last year and was very happy to have done it. If you don't remember, here is my post about it. While it is extremely challenging, it is also rewarding.

I have 3 months and 2 days to go from running a maximum of 12 miles to 31. Easy peasy, right? I can do this! Maybe. Or not. I guess we'll see!

Over the next three months be sure to ask how my training is going. If I'm not running enough maybe it will shame me into it.

Happy Running!!

~Mel

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Running For Breakfast!

Friday I decided to run to my Dad's house for my long run of the week. He lives 9.5 miles away (not to be confused with the Dad who lives in Wyoming. I will never run to his house). Not far really, but the danger is that I have to run on a highway. It isn't really a busy highway, especially early on a Saturday morning. However, once I cross into Elk County it gets scary. There is no shoulder on the road. Luckily, you can see a long way in every direction, so you know a car is coming in plenty of time to get off the road. I have done this twice now and have discovered that people are less friendly when they pass runners on the highway than they are on country roads. Perhaps because they thing I shouldn't be running there? Well, they are probably right. I did it anyway. I'm such a rebel.

Anyway, the breakfast part. On Friday night I saw my Dad at a baseball game and asked what the chances were of him fixing me breakfast when I got to his house. He told me he didn't really have anything but could fry me some potatoes out of his garden. Yummy! I can't remember the last time I had fried potatoes. Probably because they are terrible for you, but I don't really care after I run. I'll eat anything. When I got there I could smell breakfast as I ran up to the house. I can't think of a better way to end a run. He ended up making potatoes, scrambled eggs and toast. Also, as it turns out, even at 32 I'm not too old to have my dad fix me a glass of chocolate milk. Who knew? Mostly because I've been teasing my dad about cell phones and all the things they can be used for, I took a picture of my breakfast.

I took a few other pics along the way that I thought would be fun to share. This pump in the road is how we always gave directions to our house when I was growing up. The only thing is is good for is being a landmark. I think you can get water out of it but it's not drinkable.

One room schoolhouse. It was still used for voting not very long ago. I don't remember when they stopped using it. My sister got married here.

Nothing excting about this, but I ran past several corn fields. This is a terrible picture but the corn is taller than me. In a few weeks it will be stinky and I won't want to run past it anymore.


I actually had a really great run. The sun was at my back for most of it. The last mile and a half were almost completely in the shade. There is a really really really big hill at the end that sucks, but I get to run back down it and my dad lives almost to the bottom, so I end my run on a nice downhill.

I'm not really sure how this happened, but when Rick came to pick me up he got breakfast too. Why is it that I had to run there for breakfast and he got to drive? Doesn't really seem fair.

I think next week I will run to my Mom's house, which is another mile and a half past my Dad's on the same road. I wonder if she will fix me breakfast?

Happy Running!

~Mel

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cross Training

I really like running and nothing else. There. I said it. I pretty much hate exercise. I enjoy walking with friends but don't have the opportunity as much as I would like to. No one in Elk City really walks so if I walk with someone in Independence I have to try to match it up with another trip to town or something. It's hard. But, other than that I dislike exercising. I've tried so many things and stick with them for a few weeks before I'm bored or just remember that I hate anything but running or whatever. Excuses. Mostly I'm one of the laziest people you will ever meet. Don't believe me? I'm sitting in my recliner right now. I paid my oldest son 50 cents to go get my slippers so I wouldn't have to get up. In my defense I'm currently icing so it's hard to get up, but again, excuses. I'm lazy.

I'm getting better though! At the cross training thing, not the laziness. I think I will probably always be lazy. At least as long as I have people like Ryan around who enable me. However, I've been inspired by Jason, aka WyWaterboy from the running forum I'm on. He's a cross training machine. And his running is improving dramatically! I've decided he's onto something. While healing from knee surgery he had to do other stuff to keep his fitness level up so he did. I think I probably would have just given up. He had just started running when he became injured. I'm constantly impressed by his dedication to running and cross training. Basically, I want to be him when I grow up. Except he has a lot of kids. I DO NOT want a lot of kids, tyvm.

In March I started doing a Boot Camp workout that I've done before. It's a good workout. actually, a series of workouts. You can pick which part of the body you want to work. Really, it's great. Except I hate it. The problem is likely that at best I do it two days per week so I never really get any better at it. I'm actually proud that I stuck with doing it for so long. The last couple of weeks have been bad though. I've been skipping workouts and have started making excuses again. A bunch of people I know are doing 30 Day Shred so I decided to do that. I got the dvd today and did day 1!! It was tough, but I finished! My goal is to do this 5 days per week. No way would it happen 7 days. Lets be realistic.

I also got a bike!! Over the winter I tried biking but mostly hated it. I think it was because I was doing it when I couldn't run. Since I couldn't run biking just made me more cranky. However, I decided to get one. Mostly because Rick has been wanting one and I thought maybe it was something we could do together. Soo, I got a super cute purple bike. The best thing about it being purple is that maybe Ryan won't try to ride it. I've ridden several times since I got it and it's really fun! Plus, you can ride during the hottest part of the day and it's way cooler than running. Also, Ryan bikes with me every time and we have a good time together.

Right now my goal is to run 4 days per week, do 30DS 5 times and bike at least two times.

So far this week:
Run: 1 time for a total of  3.4 miles
Bike: 2 times for a total of 10 miles (hey, I'm just starting and my partner is 11. Give me time)
30DS: 1 time. I will only do 3 days this week since I started Wednesday.

I will try to update once a week or so on my cross training so that I feel a little more obligated to actually do it. Saturday afternoon I will be back with my total miles for the week running and biking and the number of times I did 30DS.

And for the record, I have no desire to do triathlons. Not gonna happen. The biking is happening to help my running.

Happy Running!! (and biking and shredding)

~Mel

P.S. I have to give a shout out to my friend Jennifer. She walks all the time. I get totally bored if I walk by myself so I don't. Unlike me, she doesn't make excuses. She walks no matter how hot it is or how busy she is. I'm so impressed! Plus, she's really nice. Way nicer than me. I'm not really sure why she hangs out with me, but I'm lucky she does.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

10 miles and a 5K race

On Saturday my plan was to run 10 miles. I knew I could do that as I had run 11 the week before. On Thursday I was on a website looking at races and realized there was a 5K race in Bartlesville also. I wanted to do it as I haven't done a race since November. Ryan loves 5K races and has been running with me a bit so it seemed like a good idea. The problem is that I didn't want to sacrifice my long run to do a 5K. Hence, the decision to do both. I knew if I was too tired or sore I could walk most or even all of it. I was mostly doing it for fun and to give Ryan the opportunity to race. I signed us up!

Saturday morning came and it was chilly! I decided I didn't need to leave at 5:30 because as cool as it was the sun shining on me wouldn't really matter. Ha! I was wrong. I didn't leave until almost 6:30. It was cool at first and I wore my arm warmers. I took them off at mile 3 and still wasn't too hot. It was really humid though and the sun was sooo bright. By mile 4 I was really soaked in sweat. I had the bright idea of fueling the run with peach rings. I love peach rings, they are full of sugar, where's the bad? I've heard of people who use gummy bears, so I thought I was good to go. I was wrong. They made my stomach hurt really bad. I was also sweating a ton without replacing any electrolytes, only drinking water. Needless to say by 5 miles I wasn't in great shape. So at 7:30 am I called my husband and begged him to bring me a powerade and a GU. I can't believe I did that. I now feel really selfish and mean. Being the really amazing guy he is, he did it. I won't say he did it with a smile or anything, but he did it. It took him a bit to get dressed and get out to where I was. When he arrived I was puking on the side of the road. That's right. Puking. Remember how I said the peach rings were a bad idea? Yeah. It was fun. When he got there I was at the top of a really big really curvy hill (Sweeny hill for locals). He couldn't stop safely so he drove to the bottom and stopped in a little drive. I drank some powerade and ate a gel and he left.

By that time I only had 2.8 miles to go. Thankfully they were pretty flat. The route I did was different than I have done before. I mapped it on mapmyrun.com and saw that it was mostly a gradual uphill to get to Sweeny Hill where I would go down rapidly. Since it was so gradual I thought I would be fine. I was wrong. It was pretty tough. So, let me repeat. 7 miles mostly uphill, lack of real fuel, sun really shining, upset stomache and high humidity. The makings of a great run, right? Well, the first 4 miles were really fun! After that, all I can really say is I finished.

If that were the end of my day things would have been great. Unfortunately, I still had a 5K to run. Did I mention the heat yet? Well, it was 85 at the start. Also, sun shining brightly. Right up to the time we started I considered just baking out. Ok, I considered it for the first mile too. This race had major hills! Surprisingly, I ran a lotx of them. Ok, I was moving so slow I don't know if you could really call it running. Shuffling maybe.

The most exciting news is that Ryan got 1st place in his age group! There were only 2 in his age group, but he blew the other person away. In fact, he placed 19 our of 49 males of all ages. Quite impressive for an 11 year old. Here is a pic of him with his medal.


Amusingly, I came in 5 out of 9 in my age group. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers were slower than my normal 5K ttime. I know it was the heat, but if I hadn't run 10 miles that morning I would have had a real shot at an age group award! I came in at about the halfway point for women and overall. Not bad. According to the clock I ran it in 38:59. I know, I know. Slow. Even for me! My Garmin said I was at 5K about a tenth of a mile before the finish line. According to it I finished in 37:34. I think I'm going with the watch!

Some more pics:
Ryan at the start
Me at the start

Ryan finishing
Me finishing
Me with my watermelon at the end
Ryan with his watermelon
After the race we went to Dinks BBQ in Bartlesville. Yummy yummy! I ate so much. It was amazing.

This week will be a light week! I ran 24.75 miles last week, which is really too much at this point. I am definitely not running until Wednesday, maybe a little longer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Playing In The Dirt

I've decided if I have any prayer of running FlatRock this year I really need to hit the trail a little more. I also hate running in the morning. If I run on the trail it's shaded and I can wait until after work. Right now I can do that anyway. It will get too hot for that soon.

I wasn't going to run at all Monday but for some reason all I could think about was the trail. I decided to just go with it and drove out to the lake. I took a portion of the Table Mound hiking trail that is 4 miles out and back. Well, you have to run a little bit of the road at the tunaround. When I got to the turnaround I started to run on the road a little. Up to the left is an area where bathrooms used to be. I decided to run up around that area. When I got up there I saw a trail that I didn't know about. It said it was a mile long and I didn't have time to run the whole thing but wanted to check it out. Here is what I found:



You just want to run across, right? Alas, I didn't have time. I decided I was definitely coming back the next day. I finished my run and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was just a really fun run.

On Tuesday I went out again planning to do 5 miles. I must have done something wrong on the new trail though because it was less than half a mile long. It is a loop (I think) and I must have missed something. Actually, on the website for the lake it says the trail is 2/3 of a mile and on 2 different signs it says 1 mile. Since it wasn't even 2/3 I'm not sure what happened. Also, on the website it says it has 2 bridges and I only saw one.  

Tuesday's run wasn't as fun. I was tired from Monday and had also done a boot camp workout that morning. I probably should have skipped the trail run, but I really wanted to check out the new trail. It was actually a lot harder than I expected it to be! It was more technical and the part I ran had a lot of uphills.

Some more pics
I went down right here because I could see a mark on the tree. I don't think I should have. I think it's where I went  wrong. I think maybe when the trail circles back it comes close to itself. I saw the marking and thought I should go that way. I have a terrible sense of direction! I shouldn't run by myself.
 Right here you go through the rocks
Here is the sign that alleges the trail is 1 mile. It isn't the only one!

I finished the run, but only because I had to in order to get back to my car. No way for anyone to come pick me up. It wasn't as fun as Monday though. I ended up with a little over 4.5 miles, which isn't too bad. It was also hotter Tuesday and I didn't anticipate my water needs very well and ran out of water. Note to self: When it is 85 and humid I am going to drink a lot!!

Saturday we have no plans and I can run as long as I want so I'm going to do part of the FlatRock course. I'm going to start at the trailhead by the lake and go to Oak Ridge. I think it's around 9 miles. First though I'm meeting someone in Independence to run 2 miles. It will get me nice and warmed up! I'm sure it's going to be a very tough run, but heck, I have all day and a pretty view on most of the trail. I can stop and rest as much as I want. I know, I shouldn't stop and rest. I'm trying to stop caring about what I should do and instead do what I want to do. So far I'm enjoying it. I think sometimes runners get too caught up in the "right" way to do something. I'm trying to be more relaxed.

In the meantime, Ryan said he would run 3 miles with me in the morning! We'll see what happens when I wake him up at 6:30. I suspect he will change his mind.

Oh yeah, the title of my post. I get so dirty on the trail! It's funny because I really hate dirt but for some reason it doesn't bother me when I'm running. It's just so much more fun to be on the trail than the road that I'm willing to get a little dirty.

Happy Running!

~Mel

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Running and Motherhood

This was supposed to be a Mother's Day post, but I was seriously lacking motivation to do anything on Sunday.

I know a lot of people that say they want to run but they just can't because of their kids. Either the kids are too busy or they feel guilty, or they can't find a babysitter or whatever. I think a lot of these women are just making excuses, but a lot of them probably truly can't find a way to make it happen. I think the overwhelming reason more women don't take up something like running is guilt. They think it's not ok to take time for themselves when they could be spending all of their free time with their kids. I personally think I'm a better mother because I'm a runner. I'm happier, less stressed and in better shape. On Sunday Ryan asked me to play catch with him. That turned into me wearing catchers gear while he pitched to me. For the record, it was scary. He throws hard. Also, I looked stupid. But you know what? Ryan was happy, so it was worth it. Three years ago I wouldn't have even played catch with him, let alone actually catching while he pitches. First, I wouldn't have wanted to. I was out of shape and stuff like that wasn't in the least bit fun. Second, I probably wouldn't have been able to. Getting up and down out of a catchers stance isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. Because I'm in good shape I can do these things.

There have been times since I started running that I have missed an activity the boys were participating in because I was running. I may have registered for a race and then they had a game rescheduled for that day. I don't feel guilty about doing that. I would and should feel bad if I missed every football game to go to a race, but one or two isn't going to hurt anyone. My kids don't need me to be with them all the time and I certainly don't need to be with them all the time. We are all much happier if we spend time apart occasionally.

I thought I would share how I'm able to make running work while also being a Mom. Hopefully someone gets some good tips.

1. Run really early or really late. Go before the kids get up or after they go to bed. Dark? Get a headlamp. Yes, I've done it. Did I look stupid with the headlamp on? Absolutely. Do I run while everyone else is still snuggled in their beds? Yes I do. Do I enjoy doing that? No, I don't. I hate running early. HATE IT! But wanting to run is more overwhelming than my desire to turn off the alarm, so I do it. And you feel amazing after a morning run! Plus, I hate to undo all of that hard work by eating junk all day so I tend to eat better if I run in the morning.

2. Take them with you. Babies and toddlers can go in a jogging stroller. Older kids can run with you or ride a bike. My kids are too old for the stroller, but they have both ran with me and they both ride their bikes with me sometimes. Well, more like chase me on their bikes. I like to take Ryan with me when I need to run faster. He runs faster than me so I have to go faster to keep up. If he rides his bike he has brought along a stopwatch and tells me to speed up if I need to. Funny kid. Adam will ride circles around me asking "can't you go any faster? I'm really ready to go home."

3. Get a babysitter. If you have someone that will watch them for 30 minutes while you run, great. If not, try to find someone. If you can afford it, pay someone. There is no shame in paying a babysitter to exercise. People do it at the gym all the time. Why not for running? Even better, find another mom that wants to start exercising and trade. You work out for an hour while she watches the kids and then you switch.

4. Take advantage of their activities. Your daughter has softball practice? Drop her off, run, come back and pick her up. Dance class? Piano lessons? I'm sure in some cases you need to stay for those things but not always. I get in a lot of walks or runs while my kids are busy doing their own thing.

I've been very blessed that I can almost always make a run work. I have older kids and that helps tremendously. I also have a great family that will watch my kids if I need them too. My husband is very supportive and so are his parents. I also have a really great work schedule that allows me to run in the morning after the kids go to school and before I start working. Also, I get off before the kids get home so I can squeeze in a run then when I need to.

You know what? Sometimes I disappoint my kids. They want me to do something with them and I run instead. I wouldn't ever miss anything big, but I know that I can push Adam in the swing after I get home from a run. It won't kill him to wait for me. I also show up to places sweaty and in running clothes sometimes. Adam doesn't care about that, but I think it embarrasses Rick and Ryan to no end. Especially when I'm wearing tights. (Waterboy, are you reading this? No tights in Safeway!!)

My point is, where there is a will there is a way. I know some people will argue that point. That's ok. I'm sure there are people who just cannot make it work. More often people use kids as an excuse. For a long time I thought I should feel guilty about running. I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't. I bet there are people who look at me and the time I spend away from my family and do think I'm selfish and a bad mother. Those people can kiss my butt.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful ladies out there, whether you run or not!

~Mel

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fun in the mud!

First, I ran 7 miles! I know, pathetic, right? What can I say. I'm working my way back slowly. I'm happy with this.

So yesterday was my 7 mile run. Well, a 2 and a 5, broken up by a little driving from one location to the next. I'm still counting it as 7 though. First I met my friend Kathy (who, btw, is awesome) at 5:30 am! to run 2 miles. We did it and it went well. Then I drove out to the lake to put in some miles on the trail. My intention was to run 7 miles there, but only got 5. More on that in a minute.

So my 2 mile run was in the cemetary in Independence. It was still dark when we ran and as it got light you could see fog around the graves and stuff. Kind of creepy, but cool too. We were about 1.5 miles into it when I heard something running up behind us really fast. As I'm turning around I see this dog coming full speed at us. I yelled "Holy Sh!t!" and Kathy turned around. She screamed. The dog sniffed a little then turned around and ran away. Freaked us out! I'm not entirely thrilled that the dogs owner was in the cemetary walking with the dog without a leash. He never did yell at the dog to come back either. Anyway, we finished the run and then she had to leave quickly to get home for stuff she planned before she decided to run. Or, to be accurate, before she gave in to my annoying texts to come run with me.

I drove out to the Elk City lake. I wanted to do part of the trail that Flat Rock is on and drove to Oak Ridge where you can run back towards the lake or towards Elk City. We've had a lot of rain and even pretty bad flooding this week, but I wan't too worried about it. I knew I might have to wade through a little water at a couple of creek crossings, but there are usually rocks you can sort of hop scotch over on. My plan was to park my car and run to the end of the trail, which is actually only about 2 miles from my house. Rick was going to pick me up and drive me back to my car. That didn't happen. A little over a mile into it I came to a spot that was so flooded I couldn't find the trail for a few minutes. To cross the water I probably would have been knee-thigh deep. Nasty flood water mind you. With lots of stuff floating. I found a way around it and decided to keep going. Stubborn a little? I haven't been able to run on the trail for months.  I wasn't going to let a little water stop me. I ran another mile and a half or so and the trail disappeard into water again. This time there is no way I could find another way. The trail runs along the river and it is so far out of it's banks I could barely see to the other side. No clue where the trail was. I called Rick to tell him the change of plans, which was me just running back to my car. He said "DO NOT TRY TO CROSS!" Ummmm, duh. No problem. There is no way on earth I'm touching that water. Plus, I assume it would have been over my head. And no clue what's under it. Just a bad, bad, bad idea. I was extremely disappointed, but I turned around and went back. About half a mile from my car I called the Keli Mart and ordered some biscuits and gravy. Don't you love technology? They always run out and I was afraid that by the time I was done, in my car and to there they would be out. I just told them who I was and that I was still running and I didn't care if it got cold, just don't give it away!

Besides the water problem the bugs were horrendous. Mosquitos and who knows what else. I felt like I was being pelted by them. Also, it was 70 degrees, which isn't bad, but 94% humidity! I've never been so wet with clothes on. I really don't think my clothes would have been more wet if I had swam in them. Also, it was muddy. My shoes were caked with mud. I had mud all over my legs. When I got back to my car (brand new, remember? Still all clean and shiny) I just took the shoes off and placed them gently upside down so that I wouldn't get mud all over my car. The problem is that I had ordered food. When I got there to pick it up I see a new sign on the door that said "No Shoes, No shirt, No service." Uh Oh. I poked my head in and said, "Umm, I just got off the trail and my shoes are horrible, can I please come in?" Obviously I know everyone that works there, small town. Mickey cracked up laughing and said of course I can come in. I got my powerade and biscuits and gravy and went home. When I walked in Rick quickly questioned when I was taking a shower. I don't think I've ever been so gross in my life.

All the water, mud, bugs, whatever aside, it was awesome. I haven't run on the trail for a really long time. It was freaking hard, but it was great. My pace was an average of 15 something per mile, which is pretty decent for me on that trail. It's extremely technical, and I'm extremely out of shape. :) I ran quite a bit of it though, only walking on the really tough parts. I think I could have done it faster without all of the mud. Sadly, I have a feeling it will be flooded for a while. They aren't letting a ton of water out of the lake because people downriver of us are already flooded too, so it would just make their situation worse. I do think some sort of sign on the trail would be helpful. I assume they know that when the lake is at a certain level it's going to be buried in flood water.

I will probably run a few miles on Monday, but then I have to take the rest of the week off for a medical thing. No, not injured! That's why I went ahead and did more miles today than I normally would have. I knew I had a week off in the near future to rest up from anything I overdo today.

I'm really pretty happy with my running these days. Mostly it's just boring. I just get out there and get it done. I had someone run another day with me this week too. She's just starting and isn't quite up to where I am, but I have a feeling if she really sets her mind to it she could be. We ran together for a while, then she walked in our local cemetary for a bit, then when I got back there we walked back to my house together. It's fun to have company sometimes, but I don't think I'd want company on every run.

Happy Running!

~Mel

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What are you running from?

You know how every once in a while someone says something or asks something and you kind of brush it off, but then it sticks around in your head and you can't quit thinking about it? That happened to me last week. I was talking with my boss, Tim. He's a really great guy by the way and I find myself talking to him about stuff I don't really talk to other people about. I don't know why I do this. He just always makes me feel better and somehow knows the right thing to say. I feel very blessed to work for such a great person. Well, two great people. Tim and Tom, who I like to refer to as The T's.

So last week we were talking about random stuff and I was of course talking about running. He said, "Let me ask you something Mel, what are you running from?" I jokingly said "I'm running from my insanity." I think he was joking with his question and I was joking with my answer, but it really made me think. First of all, does it appear to people that I'm running from something? I hope not. Am I running from something? See, sometimes I think God knows exactly what we need to hear to make us stop and question what we are doing. Tim has an amazing relationship with God so I have no doubt that He put that question in his mind.

I thought about this for a few days and then when I was running one morning the answers sort of came to me.

1. I'm running from depression and anxiety. Since I started running I feel better overall and don't have as many issues with depression. I still have issues and probably always will, but they aren't as bad. Nothing seems as bad after a run as it did before. This is something I talked about with Tim. I don't actively think about my problems while I'm running. Well, sometimes I do, but not for very long. Yet somehow when I'm done I just feel better about things. I'm more relaxed and things seem manageable.

2. I'm running from fat. Nothing deep here. I've been chubby, I don't want to be again. No.Thank.You. So I run to stay thin.

3. I run from disordered eating. I've discussed this one on here before. Yeah, in case you haven't figured it out I'm full of issues. When I'm running a lot I have to eat. I have to be able to fuel my run. I find the desire to control what I'm eating is smaller than my desire to run. This isn't always the case and sometimes the desire to control my food wins. Sometimes it wins for weeks. And if I have to take a break from running then I'm back to battling food issues. However, running has a positive impact on how I eat.

I think those might be the only big things I'm running from. What is more important though, is what I'm running toward.

1. I'm running toward a healthier life. I want to be able to interact with my kids and play with them. I want to be healthy for the rest of my life so that my life lasts longer and I can enjoy time with not only my kids, but my grandkids and great grandkids. I want to take long hikes with my husband instead of just sitting on the couch together watching tv.

2. I'm running toward a better relationshiop with God. I find myself praying while I'm running all the time. I just get in a relaxed state and start talking to God. I don't even notice it happening sometimes. It just does. I will realize I've been praying for 30 minutes and didn't even plan to.

The funny thing is that when I started running I had no goals beyond finishing C25K. It's just something I did. At some point it just became a part of my life. Then a bigger part. Now I know that it enhances my life in ways I never expected it to. And sure, I've had my struggles with running. Right now I'm so frustrated with my pace and other things that I want to give up. I can't though. Is there something out there that would do the same thing for me as running does? Probably. I don't have any desire to try to find out though.

~Mel