Me and the foam roller…

My relationship with the foam roller is probably like many others-painful, mocking and unpleasant.

Sure we have a good times. When I can roll and crack my back, or use it as a pillow when I lay on the ground to read…

Ok, but honestly, why is it so hard to get off the couch at night and roll? In the back of mind the nagging feeling that my day is not complete until I roll out my aching muscles. I know later on, whether it is the next day or the next month, my body will thank me for keeping up on rolling out any soreness or kinks. Yet, the thing looks at me every night, taunting me.

For my job, I am a sitter. I sit in my office, I go to meetings and sit, and sit 30 minutes in the car each way to get to the office. I willfully admit that when I am not running I am a happy couch potato. Yet, sitting all day for hours, and not having many breaks in between, my tight muscles are just getting tighter. Yes I have a tennis ball and yes, I try to stand up and stretch every once in a while, but there the pain and soreness returns.

Make this an early New Year’s Resolution if you must. I am declaring a new goal: foam rolling every night even when I don’t want to leave the comfortable couch. Stretch, not just in yoga, but at in the morning and night. Use one of the ten thousand rolling sticks I have stashed in multiple places.

I always say swimming is a weird sport because it is ALL technique. Sure muscles and power will get you fast time in the 50 0r 100, but you have to have good technique to swim fast. Now if can just adjust that mindset to running. Each small technique change is each each minute stretching and rolling out the muscles needed to perform. Without healthy tendons, muscles, and joints, you will be on the ground in pain, or worse, back in a boot.

So, for all who read this and for myself grab that roller and get to work, because, trust me, there is nothing worse than spending a summer on the couch in a cast.

 

 

 

 

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Running through Thanksgiving

Does anyone’s Thanksgiving plans really go as expected?

For me, not so much. However, my week, with all its food, running, sleeping and family, was pretty successful in the end.

I had plans for my holiday week, including having Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday off! I was so excited. I was going to cook/bake (something this is quite rare in my household), catch up on sleep, run A LOT, and work on core and stretching. Of course, there was eating and hanging with my sister on the to-do list as well.

Ken (the boyfriend) and I decided we were going to do a week of ten minute planks. Well, it was a good theory. We did well Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But Thursday was a hectic work day, then hike with the family, to quickly heading out for holiday dinner number 1, to holiday dinner number 2 and collapsing on the couch. Friday was back to schedule with a run and ten-minutes of sore abs, then Saturday was another miss due to once again, busy work day for me, straight to a shower and heading out to the Christmas parade. And, Sunday was well, Sunday. Busy all day then crashing on the couch with a huge salad kept me off the plank floor.

So to recap the week in running: Neg-should have run more during the week because I took both Monday and Thursday off which I don’t like to do. Pos-I am proud of myself for getting out of bed Sunday when I absolutely did not want to and getting in a really good run.

Monday: Off day from running, and headed into work early so I could cut my hours short on other days of the week. At night around 8 p.m. met Ken at OMNI Health and Wellness, and did ten minutes of planks.

Tuesday: Ran 8 miles with Ken. Went throughout town at 7:38 pace. Felt really good. Later on, did ten minutes of planks inside the apartment.

Wednesday: Had to let Jules into OMNI so she could swim at 7 a.m. Ken and I lifted light weights, stretched, and did ten minutes of planks. Ran 7 miles with mom and by myself on the bike trail. Started off with mom, ran ahead an extra mile, then met her back at the car. Overall, 8:03 pace.

Thursday: Again, work in the morning. It was a rough day, dealing with a fire and a chilly, wet Turkey Trot, and by the time I got home I was not really digging a run. I did however take the two dogs for a walk at the beach with my family, which turned out to be the better choice.

Friday: Guilty for missing the run, I wanted to get a longer one in. So, by midmorning I was stretched and ready to go out in the again, chilly and wet weather. I ran in my Patagonia wind breaker and new LuluLemon tights and had that, “okay I look like a runner, lets do this,” mentality! I ran along the town’s bike path to the gym I go to, met Ken who had coconut water for me (my favorite running drink) and we did about 4 more miles together, for 10 overall. I began at an 8:20 per mile pace and ended up down to 7:20 pace. I wanted to get faster each mile, but I felt like it was not as easy to get down to the 7:20/30 as usual. Then we did our planks and continued on the day.

Saturday: Easy run during work, just 6 miles through town.

Sunday: Sunday… The day I wanted to rest, sleep in and have cereal in bed. Instead, I dragged my butt out a not too much later than planned and headed out. Ended up rocking a 14 mile run at an 8-8:04 pace with a .5 cool down at the end. Felt great and was really surprised i could hold that pace at the end of the week and not being the best mindset.

Last week was just another example of how things are always changing and sometimes, you have to do other things than run. Like Thursday, hiking with my sister and parents rather than getting in four miles-did it really matter in the end?

Next week, is another busy weekend and I am just going to play it by ear on how it is going to go. I am watching my sister swim at one of the biggest meets of her season. Should I worry about my 6 mile run? Or should I worry about being there for her? ding, ding ding.

LONG OVERDO Race Recap

It is sad that you are so busy, or so lazy, that you write your blog post as a regular document weeks ago but just cannot put it on your supposedly running blog…

But here it is now: the long-time coming race recap of the Dirty Burg 50k in Belmont, MI. I had a blast at the race, and would really recommend this one to runners looking for a fast, and challenging race! And the race director, Phil Stappert, is awesome.

A few weeks I was feeling it. The itch. The itch to race, run fast, eat loads of gels and MM’s at the aid stations. So I signed up for the Dirty Burg 50k in Belmont, Michigan on the last day I could get a t-shirt of course.

The race was at the Cannonsburg Ski resort in Michigan a little north of Grand Rapids. It was a pretty low-key race and I believe my mom and I were the only non-Michigan runners there!

The race was put on by those in charge of the Yankee Springs races, which I heard really good things about.

On Friday afternoon, my mom and made our way to Michigan, me icing my hip/groin area and her with a sore heel. Yeah, we were ready for 31 miles :/

On the way, we stopped at a restaurant in Grand Rapids that had a craft root beer list! I was in heaven with my espresso infused root beer and huge delicious salad. As we sat at the bar, watching iRunFar live Tweet about Hardrock. We picked up candy for the night at our dive motel and fell asleep around 10 pm.

Waking up at 4 (3 a.m. my time) we quickly threw on some clothes and headed out to the race.

The sun took awhile to come up-long enough for us to worry that we were not equipped with headlamps. But thankfully, it finally did come up as we were shuttled in group to start the race. While we were listening to last minute directions, Phil the RD was running around setting up the aid stations.

At 6 a.m. we were off, and it was one of those starts that we had to “race” to the start of the woods before it went into single track. I settled in behind the lead guys and one woman and that’s pretty much where I stayed for the next two hours.

The first lap went by quickly and I felt good. I have been struggling with a pulled hip/groin muscle that was making me VERY nervous to start this race, but for the first two laps the pain was not too bad.

So the course:

It was a rolling single-track trail about 5.5 miles. Then the big one: running, well walking, up the main ski slope and running back down to make a 10k course.

There was an aid station halfway through at mile 3.5.

And, you did this 5 times!

Laps 1 and 2 went by easily, and at the end of lap 2 I passed the woman who was in first.

The third lap was good. I started running with a guy and as we talked we sped up the pace-maybe a little too much, because by the fourth lap I was feeling it!

Lap four took a bit to get into, especially the trek up the “mountain.” My legs were finally feeling the miles of the race and lack of miles in mile training. But I kept thinking, “One more!”

One more was a lot harder than I thought. I got down to the bottom of the hill, chugged coconut water at the drop bag station, grabbed a Humagel and ran off for lap 5.

OMG it hurt. The first 3.5 miles was torture as my legs were dying, my feet tripping, and my mind shutting down. I am embarrassed writing this because I died so hard.

The aid station took forever to get to and my next landmarks that I remembered seem to be getting further away as well. I didn’t wear a garmin and just kept track by my watch split times. I had it down to each lap between 58 minutes to 1 hour and five minutes.

But back to lap 5. By the end of the trail session I was done, but the ski slope was still there taunting me. I ran up as long as I could then put my hands on my knees and power-climbed up. To tell you the truth, it didn’t last long.

So I improvised. I turned my sore butt around and walked backwards up the hill, watching the bottom to make sure no one was coming.

I finally made it and crashed down the hill. Heel hurting, big toe nail feeling like it was going to yank off, and I flew into the finish line.

I finished the race as first female, 6th overall, in a time of 5:12.

Overall I had a blast. It was hot, hard, and my kind of race. The finish line was quiet and filled with guys lounging around drinking a beer.

The award was a free entry to the cold Yankee Springs so I guess I know what my schedule will be like next year.

I ran the entire race in Altra Lone Peaks. Because it was a loop course and the dropbag place was near the finish line, I didn’t wear or carry anything that I couldn’t fit into my sports bra.

The race was great, the people were great, and my legs are sore as I write this!

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13 in 7

Back home and back to training!

This week was my first week back at my home in Chesterton, and it is like I never left. Other than the 10-4 work shift I had Monday through Thursday to train at the local running store, (Extra Mile Fitness in Valparaiso, IN), this week was just like the old summers. When all I would do was get up, morning swim practice, lounge all day at the pool for work or at the beach for life, then second swim practice…it was tougher than it sounds!

Only now, I am 22 years old working part-time and waiting to hear about future “actual” jobs. Though an internship and job would be nice, I think a summer like my past week would be a pretty nice lifestyle for awhile!

So here was my week: I worked out 13 times in 7 days. And, as I write this my legs are doing that post-run shaking/soreness and my eyes are drooping. (And, I am shamefully admitting to going to bed before 10 p.m. probably 2-3 times this week). But, hey, when you get up at 5 a.m to swim, I need my beauty sleep.

MONDAY: Early morning chest and triceps lifting and afternoon easy 6 mile run in the trails

TUESDAY: 5 a.m. Masters swim practice-about 3300 yds and afternoon leg day-squats, lunges, hips/glutes

WEDNESDAY: Early morning back and biceps and afternoon 8 mile run in the dunes and firetrails. Then hour and 15 minute yin yoga session targeting glutes and hips

THURSDAY: 5 a.m. Masters-about 3000 yds and afternoon leg day-deadlifts, glutes

FRIDAY: Early morning shoulder lift with my dad-(who is still sore 🙂 and afternoon 6 miel run dunes

SATURDAY: Felt sluggish so cut 8 mile run to 6 miles in the dunes

SUNDAY: Long Run! 12.3 miles in Dunes to Cowles Bog-felt okay, nothing too sore or fatigued. I was really hungry the whole run though. I ate half a banana with a little bit of PB before hand, and had to ration and spread out my one chocolate PB GU at miles 6-9.

With an established work schedule that has me at night now three times a week for about 4-5 hours, my workouts will alter slightly. However, this is the goal. I want to keep up with lifting as heavy as I can and maintaining and building a strong base for running.

Goal races:

24 hour run this June-just for fun

100k or 100 mile in September – Woodstock in Michigan. Distance depends on amount and quality of training miles this summer

November marathon to re-qualify for Boston

January-Rocky Raccoon! First race of the year-go all out! photo 3-4photo 2-1

Welcome back Jess

I am running again. And, I swear, with one hand typing these words and one arm on the invisible Bible that I borrowed from my roommate, stupid injuries and this “overdoing it” mindset will never happen again.

Don’t laugh. I really am going to change….

My dad told me yesterday something that I guess never occurred to me before, or at least in that way before. He said, “You just jump into things. You jump too quickly without thinking things through.”

In some ways that is a good thing. It means I take risks, I am adventurous, I am ready to try new things. Right? Or does it mean I dive head first into something so that I really don’t have to think about it? Was diving headfirst into graduate school something I did because I really wanted to continue my education, or a way to solve my problem of not having a plan after graduation and feeling like a failure back at my parents’ house? In that case, the answer will be both.

But what about other situations, like my first 100 miler last April? The moment I signed up for that race I was all in. I ran everyday. I ate healthy, trained hard in the gym, and did nothing but eat, sleep, run (If you don’t believe me ask my roommates-they thought I was a freak). I jumped, well cannon-balled would describe it better, into the ultrarunning world within a year of becoming a real runner. And how did it turn out? I ended up seriously injured and not able to run for about a year. But, I jumped into a third place finish, an amazing under-24 time for my first 100, and landed with the memories of one of the best days of my life. Was it worth it? HELL YEAH.

Overdoing it. Jumping in with my eyes closed. Having my “If anything is going to happen it’s going to happen out there mindset.” (Captain Ron). These are qualities that I have and am thankful for, but they still require the power to control them. I am still learning how to run and lift together safely, and I am still learning how to eat healthy without depriving myself of my Ben and Jerrys. I am still learning that though I say I am a pretty laid-back person, I need to apply and actually do that in life, not just talk it. 🙂

I can spend hours reading and sleeping on the beach. I can spend hours running and lifting in the gym. Balance baby, balance.

So thanks Dad. I do jump into things, and I do jump quickly back out of them, once I figure out maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

I am jumping back into running. I’ve got my new shoes on, my log book dusted off, and y Garmin charged. Welcome back, Jess, the trails have missed you!

Really, really late…

If you know me, you would know that I hate to be late. I get that feeling in my stomach, like someone just punched me and the wind was knocked out of my chest. I get the same feeling when I realize I forgot to print or do my homework-which thankfully does not happen too often. But this feeling, this guilt hanging over me has stretched on long enough.
This post was supposed to be written back in January as everyone in the world posted their New Year’s resolutions and things to change or make better in their lives. I am not a New Year’s resolution type. But, I did want to write about last year-the ups and downs, the pain and pleasure, and of course the stupid crutches. But, come New Years day I was still barely running. I was barely lifting, and I was getting my butt kicked by the Masters swim team in the mornings. January came and went and the “I need to write on my blog!” followed me wherever I went.
I made up excuses. I told myself this blog would just be for race recaps, or that I should wait till I have a good run. Well, I did have a few good runs. Inching up the mileage, and decreasing my rest and walking. I ran fast, short runs and long, 12-mile runs. Trails, roads, hills, etc. And yet, the blog went untouched.
It occurred to me, on a run as I spent the entire hour talking to myself, that I didn’t know quite what to say on my running blog in which I was supposed to write about running, races, and eating endless amounts of GU. But, I wasn’t running like I used to, and I didn’t feel like the runner I used to be.
It is now February 13, and I still don’t. I run 5 days a week, and have increased my mileage to 30-40 miles a week. Good? I guess, considering four months ago my leg was enveloped in a pink cast and two months ago I was running and walking for ten minutes. Then why do I feel like a “runner.” Someone who dons their brand new Nikes and runs for 30 mins on the treadmill. (Sorry if that is you.)
When out on the trails I am still cautiously putting bad foot in front of the good one, praying to God nothing comes up to trip me, or make me snap another tendon. I pay attention to every step, making sure it strongly comes down in the right, text-book non-injury causing way. With every thought on my foot I miss the birds chirping and the beautiful trees swaying in the sun. I am thinking, “was that my scar twinging or something else?” “Was that my calf pulling? I need to stretch and roll out when I get home.”
When mentioning this to other runners, they say “Of course, it is natural to be afraid to reinjure something.” But, how long is this going to go on?

Last weekend, I ran with my mom here in Bloomington. She is battling with a stubborn heel injury and I was battling my stubborn, “not in the mood to run” mindset. The fact that I could not get into this run, even with the sunny, 50-degree weather, I could not grasp the run. And it bothered me. At this time last year, I had one goal. I worked my ass off for that one goal. Everything I did was for that one race. I ran everyday, ate good healthy food alongside my pizza-eating roommates, and cross-trained while still working three jobs and attending my 18-credit school semester. And, it all paid off. Well, except for whole tendon ripping off the bone thing.
So, what now? Is it just a lack of a goal to strive for? Or something else? Am I just scared to return to my real running, with the possibility of returning to a hospital bed?

I am still battling these questions, and battling my body to remain strong. I read about runners getting injured and returning strongly to the field when they are ready. I guess, I will join in with the crowd, and put my name on the recovered injured runner list.
But, I assure you that my name will be off soon. I just need to get my mind off it too.

A new Jessica, a new start, a new blog

OK, I apologize for the cheesy title, but sometimes you need to be a fruity to spice things up. I want to start this post with another apology for my lack of writing, but I think I have a good excuse. Being a running blog about my training, racing, and feelings, I figured not running means that I do not write. Why wasn’t I running you ask? I had an injury. And not just any injury: I tore my Anterior Tibialis tendon in my left foot and underwent surgery on July 1st. After weeks of physical therapy of what the doctors believed was “bad” tendonitis, I finally told my doctor to order the MRI, which ta da! the tendon was completely torn off the bone and muscle, and was nowhere to be seen in the pictures.

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Sentenced to 6 weeks on crutches I had to move home back to Chesterton with the folks. I spent most of the first few weeks on the couch, chair, or towel at the beach. I finally made it to the pool, exercising my dwindling muscles, and I managed to borrow some free weights, however the energy to lift by myself in a room that smelled like the lovely animals dwindled as well.

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Flash forward, as my summer did not do, to August. I replaced the pink cast with one nice, large grey walking boot two days before I moved all my crap back to Bloomington for my senior year.

And here we are now. I am sitting in my new house, one week into my last year in college. The boot is still hugging my sad calf leg as I watch tv this lovely Sunday night. I hobbled throughout campus this week, painless but uncomfortable. I mumble out “surgery” “torn tendon” and “Yes, I ran 100 miles. No, the surgery was not exactly caused by the 100 miles…”

But as the cheesy title stated, this blog post is more about the lessons learned, if any at all.

Home with my mom and my thoughts for weeks, opened up some interesting points. The big one: does everything happen for a reason? and if they do, what am I supposed to learn from this?

Not a huge believer in the “everything has a purpose” mentality, I forced myself to look at this setback as that, a setback. I went back in time and looked at everything that led up to that snap I heard in mile 82 of the 100. One realization was the horrible, horrible winter of course, which led to being super tight, always cold, and always on pavements. The pronation of my lovely foot was another factor. Running nearly everyday, even when I shouldn’t have was a factor. And perhaps amping up to a hundred so quickly was a factor too? But who knows what exactly caused the injury and, better yet, what can I do now to make sure this NEVER happens again?

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And, here it is. My change. The change of Jessica: ultrarunner, reader, writer, beach/dog/PB lover etc….

Now, after so much time and thinking…I have to come to add a few things to that list.

1. Vegan: Riding home from my sister’s school, my mom and I flew down the highway on the 90 degree summer evening. Talking about this and that, I looked to my right. Meeting my eyes was a semi full of live, pigs on their way to their deaths. They were piled on top of each other,  their snorts and screams drowned by the road. Right then I knew I was done. I was a vegetarian for about 3 years before returning to meat this past year because I felt like I needed more protein in my diet. In the span of about 10 months, I ate meat almost everyday and twice most days. Now, I am back on track to the diet/lifestyle that I truly believe in. I will be vegetarian for sure, and am beginning to transition back into being vegan-something that I dabbled with last summer but never committed fully to it. So as of this moment: Jessica: vegan.

2. Yogi: I love yoga. I love the bending, the silence, the soothing music, and even the impossible-looking poses. A couple of years ago while spending home in Chesterton, my mom and I were avid yoga-goers. While at school I kept it up, appearing at the weekly/biweekly early morning classes. Then, having the wonderful job of delivering the papers, plus 18 credit hours, yoga quickly was let off the weekly planner. After my realization that maybe my legs and ankles are unbearably tight, I am committing myself back to my yoga journey. With the cast I was able to do some, it was kind of sad, but hey, at least I got some stretching in! With the boot I am able to do more, and each day getting better at balancing on the rocky thing. My goal is to get back into a new studio close to my birthday, the 27th. Jessica: yogi

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3. Writer/Blogger: Though already a writer, this change is adding more to my plate. This year I am working as the school’s features editor, writing and producing the magazine, 812, for my journalism class, and continuing my position as the WeRunFar monthly columnist. Always on my mind though is this blog, sitting here, doing nothing. I feel guilty when I think about it, mostly because I feel like it mocks me. The writer who doesn’t write. The blogger who doesn’t blog? So, in attempt to redeem my writer status I am reinstating the blog, but more than just a running blog. I am going to make this more of a personal blog-writing about my journey through veganism, my journey through yoga, through senior year, and through life in general. Jessica: writer

So, sit back and get ready. I am ready to start over and begin a new phase of my life. I will do this until another adventure begins-hopefully one that entails a great yr, great graduation, and a job as, yep you guessed it, writing 🙂

The Indiana Trail 100-My First 100!

Well, the week is finally over and I can actually sit still for a couple of minutes.

I completed my first 100 miler this weekend. I still can not believe it. After months of training in the freezing cold weather, listening to hundreds of podcasts while running on the stupid treadmill at the gym, and sacrificing typical “college things” to get in my long run, I accomplished my goal. And it was all worth it! Here is my lap by lap recap of the Indiana Trail 100 at the Chain of Lakes State Park near Albion, IN.

I started the morning off with a peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich (i think I had/made about 5 for the entire weekend) and a small of cup of coffee at the hotel. We arrived at the starting in good time, and was able to set up some stuff with the Northwest IN runners at the Wolfhound Racing table. Not one for standing among a crowd in the back, I and my running partner from Chesterton Paul Stofko, lined up right up front. Donned in my new headlamp, AK Ultimate Direction vest, and new Salomon trail shoes, I was ready to go!

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Of course, within the first two miles I tripped and fell, but Paul helped me up pretty quickly. Also, within the first couple of miles I settled into a pace with the winner of the race, Jennifer Skelly. Though I not one to usually talk much during a run, I really enjoyed our conversation and it took my mind off of running for a while, making the lap seem pretty short. My mom, who’s biggest worry was that I would go out too hard and die) told me to shoot for a 3 hour pace for the lap. Since I was feeling good, and was running along side of Paul and Jennifer, we kept a decent pace, coming in at about 2:47. Having to stop in the bathroom before I left for the second loop, Paul and Jennifer gained a few minutes on me. I of course panicked, grabbed my bottle, yelled at my mom a bit (sorry) and rushed off to try to catch them-not the best plan for the second of six loops. But I was able to merge back into their group within a few miles and settled into their pace.

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The second lap was basically the same. Just kept running with Paul and Jen, talking, and enjoying the trails. We ended this lap in 2:51.

The third lap, I grabbed my ipod and just put one bud in, so that I could keep talking with Paul and Jenn. By the last couple of miles though, our group finally separated as Jenn pulled ahead of Paul and I was few minutes behind him. I was okay with it, knowing I would get to see Tracy my first pacer on the next lap. Coming in, I still felt good and was ready to get the fourth lap started. I came in at 3:03.

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I had so much fun with Tracy. I was still in a good mood, eating well, and not feeling any worse than the last two laps. Tracy and I had decent pace, but I could feel myself slow down, and we walked a little more than I have been when starting and finishing the hills. That was one surprising aspect of the race I had: I never felt like I had to walk, or wanted to keep walking after a hill. As soon as it was over I was running. Tracy and I breezed through the fourth lap in 3:28, just making my personal goal of trying to get in by 3:30. At the end of this loop I was feeling a couple of hot spots on my foot, I think just because my foot was sliding around when the trail was banked (yeah ill get to that little joy later), so at my crew station, I ended up switching shoes. I also was given Blister Shield from Dave Sullivan at Wolfhound Racing, which helped so much.

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For the start of the fifth loop I grabbed my long sleeve shirt again and headlamp, since the temp was dropping. This was probably my “low” point of the race. For the first couple of miles until I hit the aid station at 4.5, I was not feeling that energetic, yet my pacer, Dawn was great. I think she talked non-stop the entire 16.6 miles, keeping me well entertained! But my mood quickly shifted after seeing my mom and Tracy and the aid station, who were taking pictures and shoving food in my hands. As we got closer to the next aid, at around mile 8.5, I had, had half an espresso gel, was smiling, and gushing to Dawn about my love of peanut butter. We were flying through these miles, and I was feeling great. And then it snapped. We were within two miles of the last aid station, and something in my ankle rolled, popped, something and was almost in tears. So, going back, the majority of the trail was slightly banked downwards to the right, straining the inside of my left ankle pretty bad, but I did not think anything of it before. By the 5th lap, my ankle had enough. I hobbled, leaning on the under 5 foot body of my pacer, towards the aid station, and asked for tape. We managed to tape the ankle so that I could run, I finally got some Pepsi down my throat, and we took off for the last few miles to the finish line. I’ll admit, I was sad. I was afraid that one I couldn’t run and two, that I would have to force my mom to walk with me the 16 miles of the last lap-something I absolutely did not want to do. So, half hobbling, half running on the left side of foot, I managed to get to my crew, coming in at 3:57 for that lap. What really upset was that we were doing so well before that. Without the ankle problem, Dawn and I would have been in probably 10-15 minutes faster. 😦

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So the final lap. I hobbled to my crew collapsed on the bench and demanded tape or just cut the foot off. Not knowing exactly how to do it to best stabilize my foot, Tom Taylor, another NW Indiana guy, and here with Dave, suggested putting on compression socks, which I had in my bag. With those on, a little more taping, and back to my Salomon shoes, my mom and began the final loop, after spending nearly 11 minutes there! I was not completely devastated, knowing I had more fight in me. With that, mom and I took off running all the leveled parts of the trail, including the hills. Yes, my mom would be in front me and we just ran as much as we could up a hill, until I had to stop and walk a bit, then back to running. For being the 6th lap of a 100 mile race, I probably ran more on that last lap than earlier in the race! But I said, if I can run, run. The parts that were again angled down, and any turn towards the left, hurt and forced me to walk. For some, my mom was the crutch (again another skinny woman trying support me, I really need some big burly pacers to just carry me) and we ran/hobbled together as much as we could. Despite the pitiful “running” I stayed almost upbeat for the entire lap. We talked, laughed, she cursed at the trail, and I ate my last peanut butter sandwich. It was a good time, even though i had been up for 18 hours running. We sped through aide stations, just trying to get done as soon as possible. I was still good with food, taking in another half of espresso gel and grilled cheese around mile 8.5. By the last aide station, I was ready to be done. And my stalker finally caught me. For the entire race I had been in second place, first Indiana finisher-which gets its own award. Right after the aid station I could hear voices, and I knew that one was a woman. Though I secretly wanted to throw my headlamp at her, I am impressed. She flew by me and was looking great. She did deserve her place.  had stopped talking and my mom was just pushing me through. As we crossed the last road and parking lot (which was again slanted! AGH), we could see the lights at the end. I took off, mind blank, just getting one foot in front of the other. Mom left and I ran into the shoot and over the finish line. Though I didn’t burst into tears, the emotion I felt was amazing. I was handed my belt buckle, hugged and congratulated and posed for pictures. I think about it now, and am smiling. It was such an amazing feeling. My mom was crying and my pacers came running up to say good job. Paul even stayed around waiting for me to finish, which was awesome of him. He finished about 10 minutes ahead completing the 100 miler just 3 weeks after he won the Potawatomi Trail 150 race!

Sitting nicely in my chair, my dad gave me dreamed-about chocolate protein shake, as we talked about the last lap. I was so overwhelmed that some things that happened  are still fuzzy. Dave Sullivan offered me a sponsorship with his team, Wolfhound Racing. I will now race for and with the team, and transitioning into running in Inov8 shoes. I could not believe what he was saying, and I am so grateful and so excited to start my running career!

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Overall, I want to thank Mike P the race director and all of the volunteers and helpers at the race. It was a great first 100, and I enjoyed every minute of it! (Mostly) Also, I want to thank my amazing parents who stayed up all day and night to crew and help me. I could not have done it without them! And another round of thanks to my support group and pacers, Dave, Tom, Tracy, and Dawn, and of course to my running partner and inspiration Paul Stofko! He has been an incredible friend/mentor and I could not have done so well without him. I also want to say congrats and thanks to Jen Skelly the winner of the race. She was incredible and I look forward to running with her again!

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Recap: The Ice-Covered Buzzard Day 50/100k

Its been awhile since I even logged onto my WordPress. I have thought about it though. I would run, talking and thinking to myself about my next post, sort the pictures I want for it in my head, even come up with a catchy headline.

But then I would come home from the run. Take 15 minutes peeling off the five layers of wet clothing, fail to fully warm up after a shower, coffee, and burying myself under my electric blanket, and then slide open my laptop screen, only to choose to write my next paper instead of look at my WP site. Why you ask? I knew that each thought and post would be the same; sick of the cold, sick of the snow, sick of my winter clothes, the boots disintegrating from caked-on salt, having to wear two-three pairs of socks to work…and school. Do I need to say more?

Yes, I am officially done with the snow. I was officially done with it a month ago, and especially done with in Hinckley Ohio as I set off at 6 A.M to run my first (and longest distance) 100k through inches thick sheets of ice covered trails.

Before I run my 100 miler in April, I wanted to get a few more miles under my belt, since my farthest race has been a 50-mile race. So, I searched and found the Buzzard Day 50 and 100k ultra in Ohio for last weekend, the start of Spring Break. Thinking, “It has to be warm, and snow-less by then” I signed up.

And of course, two days before the race it snowed, no, it blizzard. Still, I sucked it up, put my new hat on, and set off with my dad for the five-hour car trip to Hinckley.

Me with too much energy in the morning

Me with too much energy in the morning

The morning of, I was good. I was up, ate my banana, goofed around taking pics for those still sleeping warmly in their beds, and rove to the race. I wore my AK Ultimate Direction Vest (first time in a race wearing it, so that made me excited!), and looked around cautiously at the un-yak-trakked shoes of the other ten or so 100k’ers. Thinking, if they were not wearing them, the trails should not be too bad right? Well, what I did not know/see was the conveniently hidden ice spikes under their toes, and instead I walked out with them to the race start in my bare Montrails, wondering what the hell I was getting into. It was a low-key race. Hugh, the RD talked, said “Ok, go ahead,” and we were off.

I count...10? Yeah, we're all nuts :)

I count…10? Yeah, we’re all nuts 🙂

For me the start is always the worst part of the entire race. Especially in the two, or so cross country races I have competed in, when everyone rushes forward, sprinting to the little opening up ahead, I feel like I am in a movie where the world is ending and it is every man for himself. Well, this race was not like that. We all darted off into the blackness, headlamps bouncing every which way, until: we hit the ice. And we didn’t go anywhere.

The trails were solid sheets of ice. Up the trails went, and down our shoes slid back. Even the guys with spikes couldn’t get moving. (My yak-traks would not have made any difference for the majority of the conditions). But we kept on, eventually merging onto the sides of the trail, running through the bushes and around trees. As some parts provided relief from the ice, we were instead met with gooey, sludgey mud, stream crossings, and a few paved areas. I came through that first loop like I ran a Tough Mudder race rather than a simple 15 mile loop.

But it was around mile 4, yes only 4, when it happened. I stepped onto the ice, feet flew out from under me, whole body was in the air, and landed hard on my backside and elbow. I tend to fall a lot while running, usually for lack of attention, but I manage to pop back up pretty easily, but I had to stay on the ground a bit after that one. Two guys helped me up, thinking I hit my head on the ice, apparently it was pretty close to doing so. But I continued running and didn’t feel the fall too much after that, until we hit the ledges. At one point in the race, around mile 9-10, we start climbing into this area of bouldering rocks, and when I say climbing I mean climbing. Like, hands on rocks, maneuvering into crevices climbing. For an easy stroll on a Saturday, I would have loved that. For a 62 mile race that was going to take a lot longer than I was hoping, I was not pleased with the forced walking/hiking. “Didn’t I sign up for an ultraRUNNING race?” After that section of the trail, I think the twisting and turning flared up the area I fell on, and by mile 14-15 to the aid station, I was in bad shape, barely shuffling over the melting snowy trails now.

At the aid station, thank god my dad came with, because he was great. With some an ice pack on my ass, and an Ibprofen he forced me to take, I trekked out for another lap, knowing I would not be able to finish this entire race.

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Through the second lap, the sun was up, the weather was getting warmer and some of the ice was melting. I made through a couple more miles, the rocks of pain, and to the last aid station before the pain began to come back. Thinking I could do the runable parts of the trails for two more laps, I knew it was not worth it getting more injured, falling again, and experiencing the rocky section again. Not to mention, spending another 7 hours out there.

I called it quits after the 25k, happy with a 31ish mile run, but disappointed in myself for not finishing. Even after talking to other runners who quit after two loops, (out of the 10 or so us, 1 guy finished the entire race), and my dad who knew the IT 100 is my goal and reminded me this was just a training race, I was still mad at myself. But during the car ride home, in which I sat on top of a melting ice bag for most of the way, I realized overall, I am happy with it. I had a good (most of the time) attitude, I got some good race photos (which is always a plus), and a decent training run/race experience.

Now, don’t read this and think, “oh my god, this race sounds terrible, I am never going to Ohio ever again.” In reality, it was just the weirdest/unexpected conditions, just like this weird, horrible winter. Maybe I should have been more prepared; mentally, physically, and equipment-wise, but who can always be prepared for weather and falling? Right? I do recommend this race, for its beautiful trails that were not covered in ice, the birds and buzzards flying around, and the terrific aid stations and volunteers. I do not think I have seen so much food at one time in life! The race directors did a great job, and maybe next year when March actually means Spring, I will return to the race of the buzzards.

slip, slidin away...

slip, slidin away…

The Huff Recap

The Huff 50k Race

After a long month of chilly weather and too much snow for my liking, the “trail gods” granted one more beautiful day before the end of the year. At 40 degrees and sunny, we started the race last Saturday in perfect conditions.

Though not officially part of the Extra Mile Fitness Company team in Valparaiso, my mom and I managed to sneak into their heated tent before the race started, to keep warm. Being one of the few people running the race for the first time, I listened to everyone’s account of the ups and downs of the upcoming race. Peeing behind the tent to avoid the way too long for the port-a-pottys, I ran to the start line and waited as the directors pushed the start time back another ten minutes.

In black shorts, compression socks, and two long sleeve shirts I was pretty chilly before the race. But as soon as we got going I was fine, and ended up only taking off my headband near the end of the race.

The race went perfectly. The course was two loops of 15.5 miles in the trails of The Chain of Lakes State Park in Albion, IN. By half way of the first loop, I guessed I was about 6th woman. I finished the first half of the loop in about 1:05, just making a mental note to myself for later. Near the end of the first loop, I was feeling good and eying down a woman in purple that I allowed myself to slowly reel in.

By the 4th mile and first aid station, I had caught purple lady (yay) and another woman, putting me into 3rd/4th place. Out on the trails, I never listen to music and I am not good at running and talking to others while on the course. I ran the last 10 miles by myself on the trails, and when I say by myself, I mean it. I was running with no one behind or in front of me for miles, allowing me to experience the beauty and silence of the wooded trails alone.

Nearing the end of the race, searching and finding each mile marker with a way too giddy grin, I finally made it to the last aid station, downing a cup of water and sprinting my way to the finish line as the 4th woman overall.

Looking back, I think if I had known where the third woman was earlier in the race I could have tracked her down, but honestly, I do not really care. I really enjoyed running the race, and seeing what I could really do when I ran by myself, and my own way.

Overall, the race was a blast, the pre and post race activities was a blast, and I hopefully the weather is as gorgeous next year as this one was!