Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weekly Training Summary, why Tristan and I might need Children and a few pictures from Last Year's B and A Trail Marathon

Many races have a "Margaritaville Aid Station"...of course I always partake!

With my friend Dorothy who ran the B&A trail marathon last year. We met several years ago at the 24 hour race around the lake in MA and have sporadically run into each other subsequently. She is getting close to finishing a marathon in all 50 states (if she has not done so already)
With my friend Laurie at the B&A Trail Marathon last year after we both finished, Wahoo!

A disburbing scene in our really messy kitchen (although less disturbing then if the cup was "in play". This is Powder Puff (aka Powder, Powdie, Puff, Puffie, Puffle...she has alot of aliases!) our youngest cat. For some reason she hopped in our sink and was casing the joint.

Here it becomes obvious what her goal is...used water. I guess this cat at least has no hygiene standards for tasty beverages (she should become an ultramarathoner!). In fact we kind of have to always be cautious about having open drinks in our house because all of our cats will help themselves, particularly if the drink smells good to a cat. I guess it doesn't bother me too much. But Tristan gets horrified if the cats help themselves to his food or beverage. I figure the second I leave beverage or food unattended, the critters probably swarm it anyway! And it is like an ultra---you have no idea what happens to stuff at aid stations and it is probably better that way!

This week, my running has been a bit disappointing. Two excuses: late days at the office and two runs that were reduced in length from what I was prepared to do.
Saturday: 2 repitions of hill climbing at Sugarloaf Mountain (~6 miles total) followed by 9 miles of hiking (~5 hours)
Sunday: 3 miles in Downtown DC after walking around Adventure EXPO for 3 hours
Monday: nothing (except alot of sitting!)
Tuesday: 4 mile run at lunch and 3 mile run after workday
Wednesday: nothing (well except sitting in my office from 5 a.m.-8 p.m.)
Thursday: 4 mile run at lunch and 5 mile run in the evening
Friday: 4 miles in the evening.
Total weekly mileage: 24 miles
Time on Feet: 18 hours
Time on Butt: 60+ hours!

During one of my runs yesterday, I jogged by a grocery store. This store is about 400 meters from our house (or perhaps 800 meters if you believe in the Garmen). I thought Tristan and I were the only person who walked there, shopped then carried stuff home. Well, yesterday, I saw a cute little family with a mom, a daughter about 6 years old and a son about 4 years old walking across the street clearly after they had shopped. They had a Red Ryder Wagon (My sister and I had one of these as kids!) filled with bags of groceries. And the best part was that the 4 year old little boy was pulling the wagon. It was awesome! At least someone else is making use of free labor: children, like my parents did.

When I walk to do grocery shopping, I have to carry my stuff by hand. And in our household, I am the primary shopper. When I foolishly buy 12 packs of soda (as an addict of Diet Mountain Dew I do this alot), by the time I am halfway home, I can feel the burn! Clearly I am pathetic and need to work on my upper body. Or else I can just feel the burn everytime I feed my addiction!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras and Upcoming Events

For those of you who celebrate Mardi Gras: Have a GREAT Celebration! Now, go earn some beads!!

As you can see from this picture from the 2008 Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans I earned many would not believe what I had to do to earn them:-)

I just had to ask...

Today I was able to get in 2 runs, one during my lunch "hour" and one after my workday, which was very nice (I felt a bit sorry about the stench I created for my flexplace colleagues: Zaboo, Sagwa, Powder and Gilligan, but not bad enough to shower!) . It was a pretty day here in DC although very cold and a bit windy. As I was running I thought about my upcoming calendar. My running life is booked until about September (although I now have events in Dec: Las Vegas and Death Valley and Jan: Disney Goofy--I anxiously await the availability to sign up again for Rocky Raccoon and have "money burning a hole in my pocket" to do this:-).

At the end of September, Tristan and I are debating going to New England for a week so I can run both the Vermont 50 miler and the New Hampshire Marathon the next week. We would first go to Vermont for the 50, then go to New Hampshire for some hiking/leaf peeping and in early October run the New Hampshire Marathon (a really cool marathon I have run the last two years and enjoyed immensely). We haven't firmed up these plans but it is likely we will do this.

For Columbus Day weekend I am excited to be doing the New River Trail 50 km in Western VA. I have already signed up and now we just have to figure out the logistics and which (if any) of the pets may join us. After the race, Tristan and I will head to his relatives house in the mountains of Western North Carolina for the long weekend.

But of course I am getting ahead of myself. In the next few weeks I have several local marathons (we really are lucky in the DC area to have many marathons/ultra's in January, February and March) and events.

This weekend I have the B&A Trail Marathon in Annapolis, the following weekend I stay at my friend Donna and Chris's house in Piney Point for the Lower Potomac Marathon (2 years ago I was running this race and unexpectedly heard a voice: "Go Tammy", the next day at work one of my co-workers mentioned a different co-worker saw me near her beach house and I was the talk of the office...small world, eh?). I then have a weekend off, followed by the National Marathon. I am a bit nervous about the 5:30 time limit for the National Marathon but will pretend my Dad is there and has requested a 5 hour marathon time!

Right before Umstead 100, my final training run will be the Runterra 8km race in Montgomery County. This is a new GREEN race that is only about 2-3 miles from my house. I am planning to run to the start, run the race and either run home, catch a local bus home or mooch a ride from a runner-friend (I don't specifically know anyone who is running this race however, in the last 20 events I have run I have known at least 5 or 10 people....even in Texas!). I am excited about this race because in addition to the green philosophy of the race, they are going to PLANT A TREE FOR EVERY RUNNER! Is this not cool ? (although it would totally be even cooler if they provided a "finisher's sapling", wouldn't it?) I wonder what kind of tree will be planted on my behalf--I hope it is a fruit tree, although a big oak tree would be neat because I think my friends, the squirrels and other woodland critters, like acorns from oak tree's.

I can barely wait for Umstead. I am a bit anxious and nervous but also more excited then anything else. I know what to expect, I have lots of friends I know who are running it, my family including Cindy and Tristan will be there to support, cheer me on and pace me and the weather can not be any worse than last year, can it??? Of course to lead into my race properly I will be volunteering during Friday afternoon, which I am looking forward to. This will be my second year volunteering and I now know many of the volunteers who I am happy to say compose my wonderful "Umstead Family".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A weekend without a marathon/ultra but lots of activity!

At the Botanic Gardens after my jog in downtown DC. It smelled really good with all the variety of spring flowers including azalea's, orchids, hyacinths and other pretty and nice smelling flowers.
With one of my favorite sculptures, the thinking rabbit, in one of the sculpture gardens near the National Mall in downtown DC

Gilligan on the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (you can see him in the distance, lying down refusing to get off the summit, luckily after a few minutes he decided to join me after a bit)

Gilligan hiking the white trail on Sugarloaf Mountian.

Enjoying a creme filled donut last week before the George Washington Birthday Marathon (the breakfast of champions!)

This past weekend I was pretty busy doing all sorts of inside and outside stuff. On Saturday I took Gilligan to Sugarloaf Mountain. On my way to Sugarloaf, I went to one of my favorite Donut places, Lancaster Market for cream filled donuts (the pre-race food of champions as you can see from last weeks marathon!).
Upon getting to Sugarloaf, I initially abandoned Gilligan in the car (hiding the donuts and putting them in my Gortex jacket in hopes it would be strong enough to protect my donuts) then ran 2 repititions of Sugarloaf Mountain. After 2 reps, I came back to the car, hiked Gilligan up and over the mountain (including an out and back when I realized I had advised a pair of nice elderly gentleman that a trail was about 1 mile from a certain I continued running with Gilligan, I realized it was closer to 2 and I missed telling them about one extra turn-I told them about 1 turn but a second critical turn I forgot). After running backwards to tell these gentleman that my guess-timate about distance was off (and that I omitted a critical juncture) I told them of a shorter but steeper route to the summit (then I took this route with Gilligan).

After Gilligan and I reached the summit, I continued on and as I got close to the car, I ran into a friend (and former colleague, Feng Z. from when I worked at FDA-CDER...the Drug approval center, i.e., same place my husband currently works). After learning she was just starting her hike, I decided it would be more fun to hike with company then drop Gilligan back at the car and do hill training alone. So I hiked an additional 5 mile loop with her. I think by the end Gilligan was really regretting coming along for this outing because I think at the end of our ~4 mile loop he had enough hiking, a 9 mile hike was WAY more then he bargained for. But I had a really nice time. It was a beautiful day for a hike and Feng is very good company. Hopefully I will be able to hike with her in the future (now that I am really confident with my marathoning ability, I can easily hike pretty far on Saturday then run a marathon on Sunday).

Sunday I made plans to meet up with my sister to go the Adventure Travel EXPO in downtown DC. When I walked Gilligan in the morning about 7 a.m., it was cloudy but moderately warm (38 degree's is what About 2 hours later as I was getting ready to leave, it had gotten markedly colder and started snowing pretty heavily. Luckily my trip to DC involved a short car-ride to the Metro, then a climate controlled ~1 hour ride to DC. Cindy and I met up a little before the EXPO started, grabbed a coffee and ate some yummy donuts (from Sat) that I was sharing. In fact my sister ended up eating only 1/2 her donut because at some point she mumbled something about it being too sweet (she's clearly nuts!) so I got 1.5 donuts. Life is good!

We then went into the EXPO and walked around for about 2.5 hours. I think Cindy is looking for idea's about trips she is planning to go on with friends (Fiji this coming May) and in the far distant future (after she retires from the Air Force in a few years). I think she also was looking for information about Belize (I forget why). The EXPO I think was geared towards people looking for guided travel idea's both in America and Abroad. There were a few booths about local (PA, MD, VA) and less local area's including state and national parks (Utah, Alaska). I picked up a few brochures and lots of freebies (lip balms with SPF, band aids, bottle openers, carribiners were among items I cannot have too many!).

After we finished wandering the EXPO, Cindy took my goodie bag home with her so I could run around DC. I ran up and down the Mall from the Museum of Natural History to the Lincoln Memorial and then back to the Botanic Garden right next to the US Capitol. I believe this is a 4 mile run. It was really windy and I did run a bit aimlessly so this took jog me about 1.25 hours. Ultimately I ended my jog at the Botanic Garden which I spent about 1 hour inside enjoying the various plants, flowers and folliage as well as the various exhibit rooms (desert-which is hot and dry, jungle-which is hot and humid and other exhibits including some pretty spring flowers such as hyacinths-which smell really good, daffodils, orchids, azalea's and other pretty smelling and looking flowers and bushes. The Botanic Garden was a nice way to end a day trip to DC and a nice way to end my weekend.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekly Running/Training summary

Total weekly mileage running: ~45 miles
Total hours on feet running/walking/hiking: ~15 hours

A few friends of mine have questioned how I train for my hundred miler. Many are shocked about how few miles (compared to others) I run. Although I do tend to spend a bit of time on my feet hiking or walking, particularly on the weekend. I wish I was still an instructor at a university or college but alas I have to get most of my "time on feet" walking or hiking either during my lunch hour, after work or on weekends.

Since the start of the year I have tended to run a marathon week1/marathon week2/off (relatively speaking) week3. On marathon week "1" I tend to run 3 or 4 weekdays and Saturday, distances varying from 4-10 miles. On marathon week "2" I tend to run 2-3 week days as well as the Saturday before the marathon (so far all my marathons have been Sun). I almost always take Monday's off but still walk several miles.

This week a summary of my workout include:
Saturday: 9 miles include 3 climbs/runs up a 1.5 mile road along Sugarloaf Mountain (my guess is about a 14-15 minute mile pace) as well as a 4 mile hike up the mountain
Sunday: 26.2 mile marathon (~12 minute mile pace) followed by about 2-3 miles of walking backward on the course
Monday: 2.5 miles walk to a local shopping center near a lake (Washingtonian Rio)
Tuesday: about 1 mile total walking Gilligan our lazy dog (barely mentionable) and a 2 mile walk during my lunch hour.
Wednesday: really yucky weather day, so again just a walk with Gilligan (~1 mile total)
Thursday: 4.5 mile run at lunch (~12 minute mile pace) and 4 mile run (about 10 minute miles because it was really cold and windy) with local running club
Friday: 1 mile walk with dog. (my knee was a bit bothersome, I had a long day at work, and I just didn't really feel like changing into running cloths...I know lame!)

This week I was pretty unmotivated and the weather did not cooperate (rain a few days and significant wind other days). Since I had just come off a 50 miler and marathon, (and my husband returned from a trip visiting his family sick--which I did not want to risk catching by getting worn down), I decided to take it a bit easier this week. Hopefully next week my mileage will increase again. In fact, I know next Sunday (9 days from now) I have a marathon and tommorrow I am planning to do some significant hill work at Sugarloaf again. My goal is to do 5-10 repeats depending on how my knee feels.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not my best week ever

This week I had a case of the "I don't feel like running", a sick husband and some pretty bad news (that I am still quite confused about!).

Luckily I know this is just a phase and I am already over my "I don't feel like running" and to illustrate this had a nice 4 mile run at lunch and just partook in the Fleet Feet Gaithersburg Fun Run this evening.

My husband continues to hack up a lung and spew various gooey liquids out a variety of orefices (glad he is old enough/mature enough/coherent enough to deal with these all by himself...well except for the errant tissues, yuck! But Gilligan our dog is pretty adept and happy to eat tissues, paper towels, etc. with or without added nasty treats;-)

Finally, my bad/confusing news has to do with my mom. She had a stroke over 2 years ago and seems not to have recovered fully, but is recovered enough to live on her own. Well, yesterday I got a call at work that she was in a car accident (drove off the road into a culvert) and may have wrecked her car. The other part of the story was that she was in the hospital for 1 (or 2) nights. I told you there was confusion in this last bit of bad news. My moms relatives who live in Texas (my mothers brother and sister in law) were not aware of this accident nor was my sister. I am unclear why no one was aware of this except perhaps it is the HIPAA rules (privacy laws that have gone amok) were being over-enforced. Since my mom's stroke, she has a necklace that is supposed to clearly indicate my sister or I get called immediately in a medical situation. Guess this didn't work according to plan!

Well, other then alot of confusion about what happened and how she will manage while her truck is either repaired or replaced, my impression from my Aunt who is in Texas is that my mom is okay. I am worried because she was recently put on EVISTA for osteoporosis, but it is contraindicated for people who have had strokes (another words people who have had strokes should NOT use it!). During the call I had with my mom yesterday and a phone message she left on Monday, her voice was slurred and she talked REALLY slowly. So now I am worried that perhaps she had another stroke. Of course this whole incident is transpiring 1,500 miles away; with at this point, only second hand reports being provided.

I guess one of the reasons this year I have tried to hang out with my family (my sister at Disney, my dad at Phoenix and my mom at Texas 2 weeks ago) is that I know none of us are invinsible. And it is better to hang out now while we are healthy rather then regretting it in the future. In fact my icky week continues with an appointment for a radiography of my thyroid, which has given me problems for about 15 years (when it stopped working abruptly, stupid thyroid). Apparently during my routine annual exam my Dr. is a bit concerned because it may be swollen. Hopefully my neck was swollen because it was inflamed from hooting, hollaring and cheering during Rocky Raccoon (oh yeah, and my all nighter) not because aforementioned thyroid, that is not really a team player anyway, (because it quit) is having other troubles.

Oh well, on a positive note, when I saw my dermatologist (the same day as my annual exam), he did not exactly yell at me (even though I was still a bit pink from Rocky Raccoon 50) and he found no concerning lumps, bumps or lesions (which if you look at my face, you can see a scar above my eye of a 2003 battle: skin cancer vs. Tammy in which I totally won! Okay, won is a bit excessive, but with my dermatologist it is no longer there; so I did kind of win, right?).

Be safe out there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Critter Pictures (some old, some new)

Gilligan running (shocking, eh?) at Sugarloaf Mountain in December. I have been going to Sugarloaf to do hill training since early December with some regularity. Hopefully this will help me as I train up for both Umstead 100 and Vermont 100 mile run. Tristan likes Sugarloaf because he gets some mountain hiking in without having to spend 2 hours driving to the trailhead.

This picture of Gilligan and Billy is from Billy's stay with us in December. We took both dogs to Lake Frank, one of the local lakes near where we live. It is part of the Rock Creek Park system that goes from Lake Needwood to the Potomac River near Georgetown. One day several years ago I ran about 20 mies in this park system. Someday I would like to run the entire path which I believe is about 26 miles and can be accessed using the Metro near the start and the finish.

Powder with her number #1 boyfriend, Gilligan. Taking a moment for some romance:-)

Our girl cat: Sagwa (darker cat) and her half brother: Zaboomafoo ("Boo", lighter cat), the best feline siblings ever! Well until they get into a squable which seems to be a daily occurence. But then again, I guess siblings tend to squable now and again. They are really sweet and do snuggle alot, which is cute.

This is an old picture of Powder from last winter. She is quite an explorer and seemed to be unconcerned about the snow. It probably helps that her boyfriend Gilligan was outside as well. I suspect she would go anywhere to be with him. They make such an adorable couple.
Because of running the Georgew Washington Birthday on Sunday and Rocky Raccoon 50 miler the weekend prior I think I am a little run down. Yesterday (during the presidents day holiday, which I had off), I just lounged around the house. Today I was pretty unmotivated which bummed me out because it was a beautiful day. When I walked Gilligan in the afternoon, I thought it would be a great day for a run. But alas thinking is not doing! Although I think my legs want a break hence my doldrums.
This weekend I do not have any marathons planned however, if the weather is nice I think Tristan and I will go for a hike. Perhaps we will go to Shenandoah so I can do some hillwork on the Old Rag Fire Trail while Tristan does some hiking, then rejoin to go up White Oak Canyon. Although this plan assumes Tristan is up for a hike. Today he came home from work feeling ill and immediately went to bed after a bowl of soup. This is the second year in a row he has come back from visiting his brother (and the family including kids) and gotten sick immediately upon returning home. Well, hopefully he gets better soon!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

George Washington Birthday Marathon: 5 hours 19 minutes

With my friend Amanda (same time, same place, different year!). We have run this race 3 times in a row together and I expect we will continue this ritual for many years to come!
My friends Frank (a RD for a North Carolina Marathon), Caroline (a lady from Virginia Happy Trails who had just run Holiday Lake 50 km), Tammy B (a friend from Reston Runners who I knew from JFK 50 miler this past fall) and Homer (Tammy's friend)
With Tammy who I ran most of the race with (the only times we separated is when I scurried on ahead to use the porta potty...which I used each lap--I wish they had real running water but on a positive note, they had hand sanitizer)

After the finish walking the course backwards to cheer on my friends including: Peter W., Jean E., Frank, Carolyn and others.

With Gilligan in 2007 (this year it was bitterly cold). Gilligan ran about 400 meters of the course (his limit for a marathon distance race). Sadly this year Gilligan was not able to run me in to the finish line because his driver, Tristan, was in Birmingham visiting his family. I think Gilligan was just as happy because he is not a fan of exercise (I think his motto is: Exercise, fun to watch, but not to do!)

Today I ran the George Washington Birthday Marathon. This was my 4th time running this marathon. It is a very small marathon, but now that I have run it a few times I know many of my fellow runners as well as volunteers.
This marathon is located just about 30 miles from my house and is a short 40 minute drive. That combined with my new reduced time in getting ready (thanks to Drymax Socks which now make it so I "Glide" where I have seams, get into my running cloths, slip on a pair of socks-today which were my trail running Drymax socks, put on my sneakers and I am ready for a marathon all within about 10 minutes!). And of course the start of 10:30 a.m. for "normal" starters and 9:30 a.m. start for the early starters made for a very pleasant morning including sleeping in then having some quality snuggling time with Sagwa, our middle cat.

At race check-in at the Greenbelt Athletic Center, I saw about 20 friends from Reston Runners, Virginia Happy Trials, Marathon Maniacs, the 50 States Club and Montgomery County Road Runners. At about 9:15 we all meandered to the start line. During this walk I was able to briefly catch up with my friend Amanda P., Jean E. and a bunch of other runners. During most of the race I ended up running with my friend Tammy B. from the Reston Runners who also ran JFK 50 miler this past fall. I learned she had run Vegas, New Orleans and this she is kind of stalking me:-) She was really good company and recently completed 12 marathons in 12 months. She definitely plans to run JFK50 again in 2009 and perhaps will do some other ultra's.

Tammy B. was really good company and we started pretty much at the same pace and seemed to be running about the same pace throughout the race. We chatted about alot of subjects which made the 26 miles fly by. Hopefully she will be creating a blog, which I can link to in the next several days!

During the race (while starting the hour early) I was lucky enough to see my friends Amanda P. (who has run many Maryland marathons with me and now has a 16 month old son), Jean E. (who has run the 24 hour race with me as well as many other events), Will and Charlie (my buddies from the B&A trail marathon who I will see in just about 2 weeks), many Reston Runners including Mary K, Ellen M., Leslie, Peter W. and others and Virginia Happy Trail Runners. During the race I saw my friend Jim who had run the VT100 miler in 2008 as well as many others.

This race is a reunion of sorts for me which is really nice. And this year the temperature was about 40 degree's so not too bad. A few years ago it did not break out of the teens and the wind chill was in the single digits, BRR ;-( Another year there was a snowsquall, which for me occurred as I was going up the massive hill by mile 25 (which in retrospect was nice because I did not realize how awful the hill was!). And my first year there was a bit of ice on the course. The weather is always a wild card for this marthon but it is a really well run marathon with lots of nice people volunteering, spectating and running it.

I will write more tommorrow and post some pictures. I now have to get off google and get onto southwest so I can e-check my husband in for his flight home tommorrow!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day! Mine will be spent hill Training with Billy (see Christmas 2008 posts)

After our run, Billy came to our house. Sadly Zaboo was not amused and tried to beat up Billy a bit
But on a positive note, as it was Valentines Day, Powder welcomed her boyfriend Billy with open arms and enthusiastically! She really loves every dog including Gilligan, but Billy seems to reciprocate a bit. By the end of their brief time together she was completely violated with his slime/drool, but she was really happy about this!
On Sugarloaf Mountain with Billy after our hiking portion of our morning/afternoon together. He is pretty good company and I am sure he appreciated our jog and hike alot more than Gilligan (who was happily at Billy's house lounging about)

With Billy during our jog. We ended up doing 3 repitions of the 1.5 mile run up the mountian. I believe Tristan's GPS watch suggests it is about a 800 foot climb up the mountain (although this is the same GPS that suggested Mt Washington is about 5,400 in elevation (short by about 600 feet!).

Puffy drowning her sorrows after Billy left. She was kind of depressed after he left because as a boyfriend, he interacts with her. While she gets up in Gilligan's face rubbing up against him and snuggling, Gilligan tends to leave or grudgingly accept it. Billy accepts and reciprocates her love and affection (and they make such a cute couple!)

Tristan is away this weekend visiting his family in Alabama. I guess when we were making plans several months ago for trips I did not realize presidents day weekend included Valentines Day.

Oh well, once we realized this earlier this week, we celebrated Valentines Day on Wednesday (and now I am the proud owner of a Camcorder...and Tristan is the proud owner of a spot messenger for all his solo hikes and mountaineering expeditions).

Since I need to get more training in for Umstead, I have arranged to exchange Gilligan for Billy who will do some hill training on Sugarloaf Mountain. Of course I have to ensure I do not over-exert myself because I have the George Washington Birthday Marathon tommorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rocky Raccoon 50 mile Race Report--not as long as the race, but pretty close!

This past weekend I had a great time running Rocky Raccoon 50 miler (and subsequently volunteering for the 100 miler).

The course was more challenging then I expected, however, the enthusiastic aid stations, wonderful race organizers and awesome runners easily made up for this challenge. I definitely will be back at Rocky Raccoon next year and will likely bring my husband so we can settle a question that arose after I PR’d my previous best 50 miler by 1 hour and 10 minutes and beat his 50 miler time by nearly an hour. Nothing like a little friendly family competition!

Going into the race I had hoped to break 12 hours, wanted to break 11 hours, but would even settle for a “finish”. As I completed my first lap and second lap in approximately 3 hours 30 minutes and 3 hours 24 minutes respectively, I started becoming aware that a 10:30 was possible. But I still did not believe it (I grudgingly ran sub-12 minute miles when I was instructed to break 5 hours so my dad could see me finish and the NFC championship a few weeks ago during the Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon!).

During my third and final lap I savored my run through the woods with all my friends I knew prior to the race and those competitors who became my friends during my 10 hour 30 minute journey. I was able to see my friends at the DAM aid station (the most enthusiastic aid station I have ever had the pleasure to drop in on). I was able to enjoy the parts of the course that were relatively easy (gotta love the jeep roads) and say good riddance to the sections of gnarly roots, rocks and sand pits. I think my entire race I was pretty ambivalent about the boardwalk section.

In one section during my last lap I tried to cross a bridge veering away from the course (apparently I was the only person to attempt to do this…in my defense I had just taken a picture of the guy who was on his bicycle taunting us all day with his wheels and somehow decided I wanted to continue going straight rather then turning. In fact I considered stealing his bike at that time and just biking off into the sunset). Then in the last mile I decided to officially make it a trail run by stumbling and falling and slamming into my hip. Luckily all I did was smash my elbow and roll onto my hip so other then getting a bit dirty and bruised I was able to get up and continue on (remember: “It’s not a trail run until you get lost and fall down”!).

As I approached the finish line, I was surprised to see the time clock suggested I was sub 10:30. Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted this time. I think the enthusiasm of the aid station volunteers, my mom’s cheering at various points along the course and the energy I got from so many GREAT runners on the out and back section really contributed to my success!

My day was just perfect and I am incredibly blessed to have shared it with such a great group of people and runners. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive throughout the race. And from my perspective it was a perfect weather day. I enjoy warmth and a day in which the temperature is 75-80 degree is ideal for me. While the course was a bit more challenging then I expected, I think by doing 3 loops, I knew what to expect and became more familiar with the course each lap. I always knew there were sections that were coming up that I preferred even in the rootiest of areas.

Of course the fear of alligators (and rattlesnakes) kept me moving quickly. I surely did not want to be the person the gator or snake decided would be a tasty treat. And this fear contributed to my strong desire to finish before sunset. Since I had no idea what time sunset was (and my watch stayed on Maryland time), I wanted to make sure I finished by 6:30 p.m. (when it is getting dark in MD now). Of course not setting my watch to Central time meant I had no idea what my target time was! In fact along the course I had a lot of trouble keeping track of the actual time because my watch was stuck on MD time and my Garmin 305 was busy screwing with me with respect to my pace (which if you want to see how badly it was doing this take a glance at my blog post…I don’t think I was speeding up and slowing down to the extent my Garmin captured!).

Finally in addition to my fear of gators, pumas and rattlesnakes, I also picked up the pace at the end when the armadillos seemed to come out. They rustled in the leaves and the first few I ran by I thought were some other creature ready to eat me. Even once I realized these noises were likely to be armadillo’s it did not really help because what about the one noise that is a gator, panther, rattlesnake, or other huge man or woman-eating animals. Better to move quickly then find out you are on some creature’s dinner menu!

My race day started off really well. Getting ready is easy now that I can just slip on Drymax socks and I do not have to worry about my feet. Gliding arms, legs, stomach and seams is a breeze and can be done in less then 10 minutes. And my outfit is my usual outfit that ensure I (or someone facing me) knows who I am…no matter how incoherent I get.

Upon arriving at the park, I almost immediately realized I was parked just a few cars away from my friend (and hero!) Jamie D and her husband David. I walked over to the start line with Jamie and David and we caught up briefly. I might have horrified Jamie in two ways during our walk to the start line. I had no idea where the start line was (hey, I’m a back of the packer…pretty much all I do is follow someone ahead of me and hope for the best). I felt bad that I could not offer any advice about the race, but I think she figured out where the start wasJ Jamie also noticed my beverage of choice: Diet Mountain Dew. This stuff is AWESOME (and I might be a little addicted, but I am sticking in step 1 of the program admitting I have a problem but doing absolutely nothing about it!). In fact I believe my beverage of choice horrifies a bunch of ultra-runners and several work colleagues. In fact one of my physician colleagues has me so scared that I wrap my 3 cans of Diet Mountain Dew in a brown paper bag if I move around the office in the morning (told you I was an addict!).

An observation and commentary made during the pre-race loitering focused on my interesting choice of outfits. I had several Hawaiian lei’s on including one that flashed light (this actually was pretty useful in the Disney Marathon in which I was easy to spot by my family) as well as a regular flower lei. I also was re-using one of my black plastic bags to keep my legs warm. I love “Hefty Coutteoure” because it can serve as a windbreak, rain poncho, and warming sauna-like article. It is very portable and very light (so when I no longer needed it I easily stowed it in my handkerchief tied to my fanny pack).

Pretty soon the announcement was made indicating the 100 mile start was coming up. Since the 50 miler started 1 hour later, I walked out about 400 meters so I could cheer on the 100 mile runners. I saw lots of friends who were starting their 100 mile journey. After the start I wandered back to the starting line, took a bathroom break and next thing I knew it was time for the 50 miler to start.

My first lap was pretty uneventful running wise, but in meeting people it was great! I met so many people who were so cheerful and enthusiastic. I think many of these folks I have pictures of including: Julie, Donna, Frankie, Amy, Steve and so many others. As I moved from group to group finding my pace I chatted about a variety of subjects including running, life in general, etc. Pretty soon we are approaching the first aid station. The aid station is a hub of activity and the volunteers are ready to attend to your every need. I eat a bit, drink a bit and chat briefly. Then all to soon it is time to head back onto the course.

About 6 miles into the race we started seeing the fast 100 milers coming towards us on an out and back section. First there were several men. Then Jamie comes along bounding down the trail. I take a picture and wish her luck and right behind me someone else wishes her luck. It is one of the folks she has mentioned on her blog: Ed C. He is hysterically funny. We chat for a while about a bunch of topics. He mentions he is signed up for Vermont 100. I tell him about my experience and suggest a hotel to consider (Yankee Village if you want an “interesting” hotel or Super 8 for a more normal chain hotel…Super 8 is a bit further but if you want covered wiring the extra distance to race start might be worth it, but if you are up for a death defying experience Yankee Village could be the hotel for you!)

At some point I move forward and join a different pack of runners. Everyone is so supportive and good natured. Even though I don’t know that many folks, I find myself making new friends. Amy from Arizona is powering along like a champ even with a prosthetic, Julie and Desiree are running together supporting each other (it’s Desiree’s first ultra), Frankie and Donna are jogging steadily even though Frankie is going to pace a 100 miler over night and so many others. It is like a party except we are all moving forward. Pretty soon I am arriving at the DAM aid station where it genuinely is like a party! The aid station volunteers could not be more enthusiastic and announce your name as you come into the aid station. “It’s TAMMEEEE, welcome!” is the announcement made each arrival. They do this for all runners but I think my announcement is easiest since I have my name on my shirt (seriously if anyone ever resuscitates me, they better use my name, not “Ma’am”! Even Marine Corps Marathon, because I hate being Ma’am-ed!). And calling me a number is just impersonal and sad ;-(

After a quick bite and a bit of Gatorade I move along. Unbeknownst to me, this loop section is only 2.8 or 2.9 miles so pretty soon we are back to the DAM aid station (maybe next year I should actually read the course map/description…or maybe not:-) This section is very cute and for bits of it we are running with the 100 milers. In fact we have a section in which the 50 and 100 milers merge on the Dam which actually confuses me a bit. A runner comes in from my left and I start thinking I have just cut the course. Finally we establish I am a 50 miler and they are a 100 miler and in this section we re-merge. The Dam is really pretty and from it, you can see the start/finish line area. It is only about 400 meters away. I could easily swim it I think!

Getting back to the DAM aid station coming from the opposite direction, the volunteers are just as enthusiastic. They are a wonderful group of volunteers! Since I have a race to run, I have to continue on.

I have no idea of the course but do know I have about 7 miles until the start/finish. There is one aid station in the middle and some out and back portions. But I have no idea what the terrain is like. Luckily it continues to be sections of rooty parts, boardwalks, jeep roads, relatively easy single track, more challenging single track, jeep sections…. The course really varies and no section is too long (whether it is desireable jeep or yucky single track with roots). There is a bit of switchbacks/zigzags in which you can see runners ahead and behind and the middle of the packers from the 100 miler are facing us on some of the out and back sections. I continue meeting up and chatting with 50 mile runners and try to cheer the folks we are facing along the course.

Pretty soon I am at the next aid station. My mom is there. I give her a hug and my long sleeve pink shirt. I ask her to take it back to the main aid station. I get a picture of us then go the aid station to eat and drink. As I am leaving the aid station I realize I want my mom to bring my shirt to the main aid station so I can put it in my drop bag. Sadly I have no idea what she thinks I said because at the main aid station she brings my short sleeve post race shirt, hmm. Well, after about 10 minutes I get back to the business of running. The last section is very pretty. It is a bit rooty, but it is along a lake. Of course this is not good when I think about the gators. But alas it is very pretty and the sun is out with a picture perfect blue sky.

Up ahead there is the wide dirt path right near the start. I get to the 16.67 mile mark in 3 hours 30 minutes. I am really happy to see my mom and all the aid station volunteers. I get a picture of us, resupply my water bottle (with ice…yum!) and grab some food and gatorade. I am feeling good and happy and now at least have an idea of the course.

During my second lap I run with a variety of 50 and 100 mile runners. During an out and back, I run into Anthony who is looking strong. I start to bond with some of the runners who I keep seeing in the out and backs. My favorite runner becomes #15, who finally in our last lap I learn his name is Dane. He is really encouraging and enthusiastic and finishes his first 100 mile in about 18 hours! He is an ironman triathlete, but this is his first 100. During this lap I see my friends Frank P from Virginia Happy Trails and Bill T who are running the hundred. I see Luann T (Bill’s wife) who is race walking the 50 miler. I see my friend Angela I who I have run about 15 marathons at various locations (most recently I think the New Hampshire Marathon in Oct). At about mile 30 for me, I run across Wayne who is running the 100 mile. We run together for a bit. He suggests he is struggling but I know he can finish for sure and wish him luck in breaking 24 hours. Wayne is really encouraging and is the first person who verbalizes that I can easily break 11 hours. He really gets energized in suggesting that I can do this and all I need to do is keep it up! It really motivates me to keep moving forward keeping my pace. In the out and back sections I also am able to see my friends from the 50 miler. Some are ahead of me, some behind. But it sure is nice to see so many friends along the course!

The aid stations take really good care of us. They refill bottles, provide ice for beverages and putting on our heads, in our sports bra’s (well that’s where my ice went!) and giving us encouragement. Everyone is so kind, positive and upbeat. The DAM aid station announces your arrival and announces your departure, wishing you luck. The Nature Aid station has really nice volunteers ready to attend to your every need and the Park Aid station makes sure to take good care of the runners. The aid stations are a well oiled machine of enthusiasm and efficiency!!!

Pretty soon I am finishing my second lap. About thirty four miles down, only 16 to go! My mom is there to meet me and gives me another hug and some encouragement. I am really excited. I suggest that she go to the next aid station and meet up with me. She heads off in the car and I head off on my feet.

This lap is bittersweet. I am so excited to be well on my way to a PR. And I am glad to be doing my last lap of the sections I dislike (rooty section I’m talking about you!) But I also know that this is the last time I will be running into some of my friends, the last time I will see my friends at the aid station so I must savor every step. I feel really emotional during this lap. All too soon I am at the first aid station. I give my mom a shirt I placed there during the first lap (when I was getting warm) I ask her to bring it to the main aid station). I also incorrectly assert I should be back at this aid station in a few hours (in fact luckily my mom asks someone and they tell her we do not retrace our steps here). I head out of the aid station feeling really good and happy! I move forward and during the out and back, I see Anthony again. He is doing really well and looking really strong. I see my friend #15 and ask his name. It is Dane, he’s my buddy and now I don’t have to call him 15! I see my friend Angela, Luann and so many other friends along the way.

At the DAM aid station they realize they will see me only once more. My return to the aid station is a poignant re-union. I will not see them until 2010. But they have treated me so well with such enthusiasm and passion. If only I could adopt them all! I see my friends Ed, Julie, Frankie and so many others. I am just flying along. I get to the final aid station and realize I am likely to finish before 6:30. But wait, 6:30 Maryland time is 5:30 Texas time…that is 10:30 just like Wayne predicted. I get a case of the nerves for a few moments but then decide I must focus and do this! I get to the bridge where my friend the bicyclist is. I take his picture then try to change the course. Luckily he points out my error and I am back on track. Less then 3 miles to go, then 2 miles…then I fall!

Stupid Root! What the @#$(#%*??? Next thing I know I am falling onto my elbow (thanks elbow for taking the brunt of the fall), and rolling onto my hip (thanks hip!). I am down. This really sucks! I now am dirty. My hands are grimy and my elbows a bit scraped up and my hip hurts….but not bad enough. I am going to break 10:30. That becomes my mantra. I get up and resume my running being extra cautious. I run the single track, I run along the street, I run up the hill approaching the ranger house, and I know the finish is just up ahead. I run across the street and the finish line is in sight.

I grab my camera snap a few pictures, and cross the finish line in 10 hours 26 minutes and 11 seconds. I am so excited! I have PR’d by over 1 hour.

My mom is at the finish. I give her a hug. I get my medal and get someone to take my picture. I then get a picture with my mom under the Rocky Raccoon sign. Since I know my legs have the tendency to stiffen up, I suggest we walk a little. We walk the course backwards and cheer on my 50 miler friends as they approach the finish and encourage my 100 mile friends as they finish a lap. It is a great day for me.

We get about 800 meters from the finish and we sit down for a bit. It is nice to sit. Finally we realize it is getting dark, so we head back to the finish cheering on runners as we go.

I had an amazing day! And it was not over. It was time to start volunteering. But that is a story for another day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Pictures from Rocky Raccoon Vol 3

My friend Jamie D getting close to completing her first lap as the 50 mile runners were starting. She looked really strong and had an impressive race, finishing as the first place female

My friend Amy, from Arizona. Amy has done several Ironman distance events which is really impressive. This was her first 50 miler and she really powered through it. I was able to see her finish before I started my volunteer work at 8, which was really neat. She said she struggled a bit with the heat, but you could not tell it all along the course. She is AMAZING!

My friend Ed who I met during the race. It was his first 50 miler and he finished! I will see him at VT100, although I think he has decided to run the 100 km, rather than the 100 miler.

My "Maniac" friends, Julie and Desiree from Texas. They were really nice and really encouraging throughout the race.

The DAM aid station! This was the most fun of the aid stations. Each time a runner came in they would announce the name loudly and say welcome back. For me, they just would say "Tammy's back" because my name was on my shirt (they would not have to scramble to figure out my name). As an added bonus they played music at the aid station and for a while had Coldplay, (one of my favorite groups) on their radio.

Rocky Raccoon Various pictures Vol 2

My friend Angela I with Andy Jones Wilkins in the background (I was a bit puzzled how he & Scott knew I took pictures along the course after the finish until I looked more closely at my pictures...apparently first and second place men were stalking my friends:-) Angela and I have run about 15 marathons/ultra's together during the past several years.
My "Maniac" friend Steve G. with Scott J lapping him. I liked taking pictures in this area because as you can see the surface was pretty nice and non-technical. My understanding is that Rocky Raccoon used to have more surfaces like this in the old course. I hope they go back because the technical section nearly killed me!

My friend Luann T from Reston Runners. She has race walked a bunch of 50 milers while her husband Bill (below) choses to race the 100 miler. It is really sweet that they are both out there on the course encouraging each other.

My friend Bill T from Reston Runners who finished the 100 miler in just over 24 hours. He has run alot of ultra's including Western States among others. He is a running machine!

My friend Kim S. from Umstead 100. We have run pieces of Umstead 100 together the last two years. My first attempt in 2007, I came in last place female and in 2008 she came in last place female. She is really nice and just powers through the 100 mile always looking really good and very happy!

I am still working on my race report, but hopefully these pictures show what the course was like (for those of you who didn't/couldn't run it). Perhaps if I took less pictures I would have broken 10 hours:-)

Rocky Raccon Random Pictures Vol 1

Anthony P starting his third Lap. I was lucky enough to see Anthony several times along the course. During the entire 100 miler he looked really strong and broke 24 hours, which was his goal!
My friend Frank P from VHTRC (Virginia Happy Trails Running Club). I knew of Frank because we run a bunch of ultra's together but I never met him until RR50. As with all other ultra runners (and VHTRC members) is really nice.
My friend Joe (who drove me to the 2007 Breakers Marathon in Rhode Island). His wife Francis was here as well

My friend Francis, Joe’s wife. I ran a few miles with Francis during the beginning of the 50 miler. We should see each other in just a few months at the B&A trail marathon (which I was able to tell her that there is an early start which I certainly plan to make use of)
My friend Frankie and Donna (who I met at Rocky Raccoon) along the Dam during the first lap...they were really nice and friendly. I was able to see Frankie and Donna finish the 50 miler about an hour after I finished. Frankie then ended up going out for a 20 mile "victory lap" by pacing a 100 miler later in the evening!

During the race I made many friends (especially since there were a fair number of out and back sections along the course). Everyone was so nice and friendly and it just was a perfect day for a run in the park!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rocky Raccoon Photo Ops number 3

My Garmin's recording of my race. I wonder what others runners race paces look like. I know several of my spikes were for photo opportunities, bathroom breaks, and aid stations. I was shocked to see a few fast times that suggest I can run about 6 minute miles...was a bear or gator chasing me??? Because there is no reason to run this fast in my world.

At the finish line being awarded my medal--I was so happy because I had just shattered my previous PR for a 50 miler by over an hour! And this was completely unexpected. In my prediction I had just aimed for 12 hours, would be delighted with sub 11 hours but finishing under 10:30 was just shocking to me.
With my mom at an aid station during the race

With my mom after the race. Taking an opportunity to savor the moment and cheer for runners at what became called the "outpost" (we walked about .5 miles from the start/finish so I could stretch my legs then sat for a bit chatting and cheering on runners).

Rocky Raccoon-second batch of pictures

Amazingly enough I have one picture of my (from my camera) of me running. Most of my pictures tend to be taken of me standing still, but I found a hiker who was willing to take a simulated action shot

With my mom early in the day at an aid station. It was nice to see her several times during the race. She is very encouraging and a trooper (notice she recently had nose surgery to repair a 15 year old scar from when she slipped on ice many years ago).

With my friend Jamie after she finished the 100. Jamie really tore up the course! But sadly like me towards the end started having root issues and fell several times.

With the men's winner Andy J-W and Scott J after they finished the 100 mile. Andy is really sweet and very funny. I was volunteering when he finished but could overhear his comments and assessment of the race which cracked me up. BTW this is the second time Andy has beaten me (at VT100 he came in first overall as well and anyway this time I finished before him so perhaps I beat him:-)

With Joe P. the Rocky Raccoon race director. He is really nice and has set up a really great race. It was a pleasure to both run and volunteer.