Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Graston fun and continued frustration....

I’ve been going to see a chiropractor/sports med/graston guy for 3 weeks now. The latest fun is he has me stand on my toes on a step while he scrapes down my arch, the tendons on the sides of my ankles, and parts of my calf with a stainless steel tool. This is fairly painful, and leaves my lower leg a bit green/purplish in color. I’m actually seeing 2 different guys at the same clinic bc I can’t always get into one or the other. One is nice, the other is not so nice, and I’m reaching a frustration point with both of them as to when I will be cleared to run again. And by run, I don’t mean jogging 100 m on a track. I mentioned to the nice one last night, that I’m at a breaking point, and without some more insight into what they see as my progression back to running, I’m going to jump ship and just go it alone. I could run pain free on roads/tracks before I got put in the damn boot, so this slow progression back into something that causes no pain doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. His response was that the partial tears could lead to complete tears which would be a career ending injury and that I can’t rush it, blah blah blah. It might as well be a career ending injury at the pace they want me to get back to running. At this rate I’ll be back to a 100 miler when I’m 70. Wasn’t the 6 weeks in the boot supposed to give the tendons time to heal?

I did jog 2 miles slowly on the treadmill last week, which I later got reprimanded for doing, by the grumpy one. He gives very unclear instructions and won’t repeat anything. So when he said I could go onto a track and run the straights for 2 miles, I took it as meaning he didn’t want me to run the curves bc of the increased strain on my tendon while turning. And at some point he mentioned the word ‘treadmill’ so I took it to mean I could try out a short run on the treadmill. I don’t know where to find a track, and no google search has given me any clue as to where I might find one that is not a pain in the ass to get to. So, I opted for the option that was easy, and ran an easy 20 minutes on the treadmill. It wasn’t fun (bc running slowly on a treadmill in a crowded gym never is), and didn’t cause any pain, but got a grumpy reaction from the doctor and I saw him write in his notes, “patient did not follow doctor’s instructions.” It’s to the point, where I’m about to give up on them, and just jump back into it. I’m not training to get back to a 5k, and their conservative approach with no insight into their ‘plan’ for me is not helping. 

I’ve got a new year’s eve appointment with the grumpy one…I’ll give them another week to convince me that this is going somewhere, and then Miwok training starts in earnest.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Boot-free, but no running in sight....

Well, since the last time I posted I've packed up a Penske, driven 5 days cross country with Dad, found an apartment, started a new job, unloaded the truck, unpacked (sort of) and have been in Portland for about a month now.  The orthopedist I saw in VA right before departing put me in an immobilization boot, which I finally transitioned out of last week.  I've seen 3 different graston guys out here, along with an acupuncturist.  I've settled on 2 of the graston guys (both at the same practice) and am now getting treatments twice a week.  I can bike, swim, elliptical, etc, but no running allowed.  So far, lots of late night swims at the gym and early morning spin classes. I got back out on my road bike for the first time last weekend, so look forward to ramping that up a bit.  I'm going to see a naturopath after Christmas to discuss some type of injection that might help.  I walked home last night for the first time and it didn't feel bad, although it's hard to say bc I saw the doc this a.m. and now am bruised and swollen (from him, not the walk).

I mentioned to the doc that I had made it through the Miwok lottery, so have a 100K to shoot for on May 1.  He told his colleague (who had already advised against this), who came in and scolded me and reminded me that this was probably not a good idea.  We'll see...I plan to run on May 1, and hope to be back running in the next couple of weeks. 

The guys I'm seeing said that immobilization was not a good thing, and that a much more active therapy would have been appropriate.  Not what I wanted to hear 5 weeks into wearing the boot.  Anyhow, they are doing graston, massage, laser, some electro therapy and I have exercises to do twice a day.  I've got tears in both the posterial tibial tendon and apparently the one on the outside (peroneal), too, per the MRI results.  So, I need to really work on balance/stabilization/strength in this area before they'll let me run, so as to prevent it from happening again.

I ran to catch the bus today, just to spite them (well, mainly bc I was already late for work), but for the most part am following doctors orders and hoping to get back out there soon....  Looking forward to a long ride tomorrow in the hills around Portland.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

6 weeks in a boot.

Good news is the tear in my posterior tibial tendon should heal on its own, if it is given the chance.  So, the doctor gave me a big boot, and told me to wear it whenever I'm walking/standing for 6 weeks.  So, it could be worse, but it's going to make moving heavy furniture into the moving truck a bit awkward.  I guess if I've been on it for several months since the initial injury, I can probably take the boot off to load the truck, and accept a few more days of boot use if need be.  I can still swim, run in the pool, and bike, so all is not lost.  In the meantime, I've got 3 days to finish packing up my house, so no time to sit around and mope that I can't go and do one last Rock Creek Park loop.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

7 mm tear.

I finally got an MRI this week, which is what I've wanted since about April, when the tendon that runs up the inner side of my left ankle started screaming every time I stepped on a rock.  I finally got into a foot/ankle orthopedist (which in itself was no easy feat), and he referred me for an MRI after I pleaded.  The results were sent to both my orthopedist--who I won't see until next Friday--and my ART guy (who is a chiropractor).  My ART guy called me on Friday to tell me that the results indicate I've got a 7 mm tear right below where the tendon makes a turn around that little knobby inner ankle bone.  It doesn't sound like much, a 7 mm tear, but I'm dreading what my orthopedist has to tell me on Friday.  It's in a spot where the tendon isn't that thick, so 7 mm is maybe 30-40% of the tendon.  And my ART guy, guessed that they might recommend surgery if I want it to ever actually heal enough to run without pain and without further damage.  Argh.  But here's to hoping he doesn't know what he's talking about, and that the orthopedist just recommends a supportive orthotic and encourages me to start running 80 mile weeks again.  Dare to dream.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Injuries, bike crashes, and cross-country moves.

I've been a negligent blogger bc I've been a negligent runner of late. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm not a runner, and never will be again. It's only been about a month of true slacking, or maybe getting closer to 2, but it feels like a lifetime.

So, posterior tibial tendonitis has been bugging me since April, and really bugging me since June. I've tried foot doctors, PTs and am now doing some ART. It isn't necessarily getting any worse. It doesn't seem to be getting any better, either, and with the amount of running I've been doing, I would expect it to be. Still, when I run and suddenly step on a rock, or other action that causes my heel to land below my toe, it hurts like heck.

I've also had a pain in my lower abdominal region for the past several months. Well, really dating back to almost a year ago. I've been convinced I've had a hernia, but my primary care guy hasn't bought that guess yet. The ART guy I've been seeing thinks it's osteitis pubis, and might be right. Anyhow, this problem does seem to fade with decreased running, but comes back quickly when I run. Anyhow, I've got some core strengthening exercises to do in the meantime, and we'll see if I can get through both of these issues so that I can RUN again. And by run, I mean a multi-hour blissful run through leaf-strewn colorful trails. Ah, dare to dream.

In other news, I tested positive for Lyme disease. I found a couple of miniscule ticks on me in August, and my doctor told me to get tested after about 6 weeks. So, when I went in to complain about my hernia and try to get an MRI for my ankle, I went ahead and got tested. I'm hoping that it was from one of the 2009 summer ticks, and not something I picked up years ago, but there is no way to know. I'm taking antibiotics, and need to check back in with my doctor. Every arthritic pain I have has me in a panic as to whether it's related to this or not.

In other news, I'm moving to Portland, Oregon. It came about pretty quickly. I visited, decided I wanted to move there, applied for a job, got the job, and am now working out the logistics of a cross country move. I've gone from being super excited to panic struck. Lots of details to work out with figuring out what to take, and what to leave. Unfortunately, Fred and Ginger (my kitties) are in the 'what to leave' category, as they'll stay in my house with their other mom. What to do with my house is another issue, but I'm hoping to hold onto it for as long as is feasible.

Bike crashes....well, nothing new there, except crash #5 of the summer/fall on Saturday. I just keep tipping over. This time in front of a barber shop, with a bunch of old friendly guys from the neighborhood. I'll give the pedals 3 more crashes before I give up on them.

That's it for now. Likely no more races for me in 2009. I just look forward to being healthy again, and getting the mileage back up. The soft pine-needly trails in Oregon should be good for all that ails me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Where's Waldo 100K

I had a fabulous mini-vacation to Oregon and am having a hard time settling back into life in DC. I REALLy liked Oregon, and since the trip have been fighting the urge to immediately uproot and move out there. Practicalities, like the fact that my job, house, friends, kittens, and life are in DC are things that would need to be dealt with first.

The Where's Waldo course is lovely....smooth pine-needly trails up and down a few mountains amidst lovely NW forest, passing alongside a number of lakes, with great mountain vistas. While the race was lovely, it wasn't the best I've had. It wasn't the worst either. I enjoyed the first 20 miles, for the most part, but then felt a bit dizzy and out of sorts until about mile 53. I enjoyed the last 9 miles downhill, minus the fact that the bottoms of my left foot had blistered horribly and running downhill was excrutiatingly painful. The posterior tibial tendonitis issue I've been dealing with bothered me at first, but went away after about 30 miles, like most nagging pains do. It's back with a vengence, but that's a separate issue.

I bit it twice, both times with gusto. The first time was a downhill full frontal face plant somewhere after mile 20 and before mile 40....my memories of it are obviously not so exact. I remember the fall well, just not which part that section of trail was on. I banged up my knee nicely, and a couple of folks got to enjoy the show. I fell again, after leaving the 'hot' aid station on the road. I guess that would have been after the Rd. 4290 aid station. I managed to fall on the same knee although I did a kind of tuck and roll to the side and managed to take out a couple of baby pine trees in the process. Two weeks after, my kneecap is still feeling a bit bruised and kneeling hurts. Luckily I don't need to spend a lot of time walking around on my hands and knees, so not an issue.

I finished and enjoyed hanging out with my friends at the finish, but quickly got cold and chattery. The medical person spotted me, and I eagerly followed her into the medical building and spent the next hour under blankets that she kept heating for me in the dryer. Another kind lady worked on my blistered feet. I eventually warmed enough to head back out into the cold, but was still a bit gray looking.

A lesson learned in terms of training was that treadmill training is not sufficient. I spent 4 of the 6 weeks prior to Waldo in Afghanistan. While training on a treadmill is better than nothing, it is not ideal. And I couldn't bring myself to run for more than 3 hours on that thing. I really struggled my first few runs back, and my stride felt completely awkward. Just another reason not to spend a lot of time in Afghanistan....

Waldo was the USATF 100K championships, so there were cash prizes for 1-5. I finished 6th in 12:04, about 4 minutes out of 5th. Boo. The field was a tough one, as my time would normally land you up a few spots. Alas, there is always next year. I hope to either run Waldo again, or Cascade Crest. Oregon is calling me back.
The last three long races I've done (MMT, Laurel Highlands, and Waldo), I've been a bit gray and pasty upon finishing, and have had a hard time staying warm. I haven't had that problem so much in the past, but am wondering if it might be tied to being anemic. Before my July trip to Afghanistan I had to get a physical and my blood tests came back showing that I've dipped under the levels where my hemaglobin/hematocrit should be. I've been border-line anemic before--I had some fainting spells back in college, and remember that one finding was border-line anemia (I've never been so good at staying conscious, and fainting is something I do well). Regarding the anemia, it's something I guess I should do a bit more research on, and modify my diet or take iron supplements to adjust. I've done some reading, but there seems to some debate on the best approach. I need to dig a bit deeper as it is an issue I probably shouldn't just ignore. I've started taking my iron pills more religiously

Running Waldo was just a part of the trip; I also took advantage of being in Oregon to connect with some friends from Peace Corps Paraguay that I hadn't seen in ages and to explore Oregon. I had the chance to hang out with Liz in Corvallis and Callie in Bend, who both made the trip to camp and hang out at Waldo all weekend. We had several good terere and mate sessions, and introduced some of the ultra-running community to the joy of yerba mate enjoyed Paraguayan style. in a truly beautiful spot.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another new treadmill record falls, so does treadmill

Again, desperate times call for desperate measures, so Friday afternoon I headed down into the cave with a liter of water, a cookie and The Hangover. A colleague, Bill, helped me set up the movie projector so I popped in the Hangover, turned the volume up loud enough so that the guards and neighbors could surely hear it from above, and jumped on the treadmill.

The Hangover is 90 minutes, and was funny enough so that when it started over automatically, I just let it play a second time. The first time through I missed some great lines, as I couldn’t make out the words due to the echo in the cave. By the second time, I was able to hear the dialogue through the echo, and any entertainment is better than staring at a blank wall. Occasional fits of laughter would start a fit of coughing, so were ill-advised. I’ve been coughing continuously for 10 days now. I caught a cold on the way over, and the air in Kabul doesn't seem to want to let it heal.

After 100 minutes, I dialed Bill on his cell phone and asked him to deliver me a coke, and some more water, which he was very kind to do. I didn’t feel like heading upstairs, fearing that once I stepped off, I might not step back on. By the time the movie ended a second time, I managed 3 hours and 3 minutes, which was good for just over 20 miles. I wasn’t moving that quickly, 9 minute pace, but it counts for this week’s long run. I've heard of 24 hour efforts on treadmills....why? I'm satisfied to let my 3 hour and 3 minute record stand.

Apparently the treadmill didn’t enjoy my 20 mile run nearly as much as I did. The treadmill, which has been acting funny for the past week, is dying a slow death. There is now a groove running down the middle of the band, which when stepped on, causes the whole thing to jerk. It feels kind of like running across a snow-covered icy road....you never know when you're going to start sliding, which is what the jerking motion feels like--sliding across ice. So, I'm getting in my share of what feels like winter running. I managed 60 miles last week with one off day. Averaging 10 miles a day on a treadmill is not bad considering it's really not that much fun.

So, to replace the soon-to-be broken treadmill we went out shopping today to see what's available. Just in case one didn't already feel inferior as a female in Afghanistan, the treadmills that can be purchased here drive the point home again. Check this out, it's a photo of the control panel on the treadmill.....anyone care to interpret?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New treadmill record

Yesterday, I set a new personal treadmill record for the most boring run in the history of treadmill running. 17 miles in an underground room staring at a blank wall. I tried to set up a DVD on my laptop, but technology failed me, and I was left to stare at the wall and think. I wanted to get in a long run and 17 miles is the lower limit of what I allow myself to call a long run. But it's enough lest I begin bashing my head against that blank wall at which I was staring.

For the most part, I avoid running on treadmills. Why run inside when you can run outside? Unfortunately, I'm spending 5 weeks in Afghanistan for work, so I cannot run outside. There are few places I've traveled to where I feel like I can't run outside, but Kabul is definitely one of them. Things are a little tense over here at the moment, and a foreign woman running down the streets scantily clad, would probably not help matters.

I'm still having ankle issues, as I've been dealing with some posterior tibial tendonitis. I was told to take 2 weeks off running following Laurel Highlands, and I did, but it doesn't seem to be getting any better. One good thing about the treadmill is that running on flat surfaces doesn't seem to bother it, but at the same time it's not necessarily healed, as it still feels stiff if I turn my foot inward. I'm hoping that it will clear up in the next few weeks, as trails are what really seem to irk it, and there's definitely no chance I'll be running on trails until mid-August.

I'm signed up to run Where's Waldo in August, but it's not going to be pretty. The combination of a couple of weeks off, and now a fairly crappy training environment, along with having gotten fairly sick in the last couple of days and in danger of hacking up a lung, are not leaving me confident that I'll be that fit come mid-August. I have considered bailing, but the trip is also tied to seeing some friends from Peace Corps that I haven't seen in ages, and I've never been to Oregon, so don't want to cancel. At least the scenery will be nice, and I will be running freely in the mountains.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laurel Highlands--Maybe not the wisest choice

First off, Laurel Highlands is an excellent event and I highly recommend it. This was the 30th year for the 70 mile race (a 50k option was added 3 years ago and there is a 70 mile relay option for teams of 2-5 people). The trail is, more or less, 70 miles of point to point single track run along ridgelines in a lovely ‘mountainous’ (east coast definition) heavily forested section of PA. The trail, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, is well-marked with yellow blazes, and concrete obelisks that mark every mile. You would have to struggle to get lost here, as the yellow blazes are so frequent, they're almost obnoxious.

Not feeling completely recovered from MMT, I wasn't sure what to expect going in, and really just wanted to experience the LHHT from point to point. While I loved the trail, I didn't necessarily have a good time out there, and am hoping that I didn't do something really stupid, such as injure myself to the point where I have to take extensive time off. A quick recap of the highs and lows, starting off with the lows and ending on a positive note:

The Bad:

1. I puked. Now, I realize that others do this every time they run an ultra. I, however, can count on one hand the number of times I have puked in my life. I just don’t puke. E.g. Give me a bottle of whiskey and no matter how much I consume, I will not puke—probably not a good thing, but my sphincter is stubborn. I can remember my sister being a bit more of a puker as a kid, and every time it happened, I would run to the farthest spot from her, plug my ears, and sing ‘Jingle Bells’ as loudly as possible (my fear response—I also do this in horror movies). Not only do I not puke, but I fear it. I puked around mile 55 when I tried to swallow a gel, and then again in the parking lot of the hotel with a crowd watching. No fun. I also puked after MMT in the shower. Am I becoming a puker? No fun at all!

2. The ankle/foot issue that has been nagging since mid-April bothered me from the beginning of the run and seemed to worsen. It was bad enough that after about 20 miles every time I stepped on a rock or ground that caused my left foot to be flexed, I noticed it, and really angled rocks occasionally caused me to yelp in pain. It started early, and I considered dropping but couldn’t decide if I was going to make it worse by continuing. I still haven’t come to a conclusion on that one, though I’ve got an appointment to see my foot doctor in the morning. After some on-line research, I’ve self-diagnosed it as tibialis posterior tendonitis and hope that it’s a minor case, although my foot doesn’t like to go in any direction except forward at the moment. I’m hoping the magic “Make-a-doctors-appointment-and-the pain-will-go-away” strategy will work. It seems every time I finally give in and go see a doctor whatever has been ailing me disappears just in time for the appointment. Here’s hoping that works tomorrow, or that he tells me to suck it up and run on it.

3. I just felt off. My heart rate seemed really elevated and my breathing seemed off. MMT was one month prior—residual effects? I'm a WUS?

4. I wasn’t really having fun, and wondering far too often, ‘Why?’

5. A couple of good crashes. To be expected.

6. Despite the fact that it looked like trolls and gnomes should have been frolicking about in the woods, not a single one made him or herself visible to me. Boo.

The Good:

1. The trail. These pictures aren't mine (they are Tim Segina's), but picture 70 miles of single track, climbing up forested slopes, winding through fields of ferns, around rock formations, across dozens of log bridges, through patches of mountain laurel, up rocky staircases, with the bonus of a blazing downhill to the finish. The scenery was really hard to beat.

2. Legs felt good. Besides my ankle/foot issue, my legs felt pretty frisky.

3. Ferns. Did I mention that there were miles upon miles of lovely, lovely ferns? IF there was ever a place for gnomes or trolls to pop out a wish you a happy afternoon, LH is the place. Reminded me of the troll walks that one of my bio professors in college used to lead. Of course, we never saw trolls on any of those, either—I'm still a believer, though.

4. A win. Really, winning is almost always fun, even if it was less fun on Saturday. My time of 14:02 was good enough for first woman. Only one woman has broken 14 hours in the 30 years of Laurel Highlands (CR is 20 years old at 13:46). I really felt like I was standing still at times. Heck, I was standing still at times. I do hope to run this one again, and feel like there's a lot of room for improvement.

5. Fun road trip. There were some memorable moments. What happens in Comfort Inn room 219 stays in room 219. Don’t worry Keith and Mitchell—heck, you don’t read this blog anyway—your spooning incident is safe with me.

6. The race organization was top-notch. Thanks to the race directors who put on a great event. I still haven't figured out what causes some races to fill and other not to fill. It doesn't sound like the current RDs want this one to get much bigger, but regardless of size why some races fill in a week, and others never fill is something that puzzles me. This is the type of event that I would list as a favorite and one that should fill in minutes. I'm glad that it doesn't, being that I sent in my entry fee the week of the event. It is nice to still have awesome events around that one can jump into on race morning.

Give this one a try—you won't regret it!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Laurel Highlands it is.

For some reason the thought of 40 miles at Highlands Sky next weekend seemed like too much too soon, so I opted for 70 miles at Laurel Highlands this weekend. Seems like a logical choice, no? Both are supposed to be beautiful races. I've been told that Laurel Highlands has some nice ferny patches. I'm a sucker for ferns and forest gnomes.

On another note, I survived my first bike ride. I got the bike home, and then was petrified to head out for a ride for fear of tipping over. After an hour of psyching myself up, I ventured out. The clipless pedals were a cinch. Can't wait to get out again.... maybe for a little recovery ride on Sunday.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What to do next?

I'm finally starting to feel recovered from MMT. I had a rough week following--my hip flexors wouldn't flex, and my lower back felt like someone had kicked me repeatedly (not that I know what that feels like...). Bruised kidneys I presume, and a reminder that 100s are really not good for you. So, after a 0 mile week following MMT, I ran to work most days last week and got in 16 miles on Saturday for a 45 mile week. I feel like I'm ready to ramp back up to 70 or so. That said, I felt sluggish on Saturday, but the combination of taking yesterday off to swim, several whiskey sours, and a great 6 mile run commute this morning, I'm wanting to jump into a 100 miler in the coming weeks. How quickly we forget....

I only have one thing on the calendar this summer, and that's Where's Waldo on Aug 22.

So that leaves me wondering what to do next. Laurel Highlands 70 is in a little less than 2 weeks. It's not far off in PA, and supposed to be a beautiful trail, with lots of nice ferns--I'm a sucker for ferns. Or there is Highlands Sky 40 in WV the weekend following. I haven't run Highlands Sky, but have seen parts of the course and it is gorgeous. Jumping into Bighorn 100 has crossed my mind, too. I'm sure my run home will restore sanity.

One goal for the summer is more cross training. I hope to both bike and swim at least once or twice a week. My new road bike arrived over the weekend, so once my pedals arrive, the fun of Amy with clipless pedals begins. I hope that there is no correlation between falling while running on trails and falling on a road bike. While in El Salvador, I experimented a couple of times with clipless pedals, and only fell in the first 5 seconds the first time I was on the bike. I hadn't been warned about tipping over (seems obvious enough that one shouldn't have to be warned), and it hadn't occurred to me until it happened. After the initial fall, I was able to successfully navigate a road with many speed bumps and herds of cattle without further incident. Plus, I was wearing size 13 mens shoes on a bike fit for that man, so I'm guessing that it can only get easier. Excited for my first ride this weekend.

Now to decide what to run.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MMT 2009: Extreme Weather Edition and Death March 2

I'm having some troubles putting MMT 2009 into words. Overall, it was a good day. As I've said before, I love my VHTRC running buddies, and MMT feels like a family outing in the mountains. Every aid station is filled with friends hanging out--the lucky ones are drinking bourbon--ready to wait on you hand and foot. Heck, one of my dear friends crewing for me was so kind as to remove my disgusting wet socks and shoes, dry my blister-ridden feet, and re-shoe me. That's love.

I was pretty nervous heading into MMT. I didn't necessarily feel in any better shape than last year, but people seemed to expect more of me. Last year I mentioned to someone that I wanted to run 26 hours, and they encouraged me to be realistic. This year I mentioned 24 hours, and people said I had a shot at Sue’s record (under 23). So, in the end, and shared only with me, I decided to run under Sue’s splits until I couldn’t.

It's funny how little comments can turn into little inner voices that stick with you and keep surfacing during a 100 miles. And in my case, it's often not the positive comments that stick with me, but rather the comments that probably weren’t meant as digs, but that turn into flashing billboards by the end of the run. A couple of those come to mind. First, the thoughtful wish of last year’s pacer that I “enjoy the last 20 miles more than last year.” When I didn’t understand the comment, he clarified to say that he hoped I’d be able to run more of it and not let it be another death march. I started thinking about that potential death march a little too early on Saturday. The second being Horton telling me to “be smart” a dozen times on Friday and Saturday. I find it kind of irritating when people tell me before a race to, "Run smart." To me, that's really not a confidence builder. It's kind of like saying, "I expect you to potentially fuck up, thus I need to remind you to run smarter than you would normally." I feel I usually run pretty smart races. And sometimes, smart is boring. I probably could have approached MMT differently, but a conservative race would have likely brought me across the finish line at about the same time. I didn’t end up running quite what I wanted to, but I wasn’t too far off my goal, and heck, I put it all out there. I figured I had nothing to lose—go hard or go home. And while I didn't quite succeed, I didn't quite fail, either.

I started off quickly. I knew I would. Heck, I even meant to, as I figured I had nothing to lose. Go hard or go home…. I was running with Mike Mason for a while, and knew that I probably shouldn’t be, but enjoyed his company, nonetheless. It was REALLY hot, and humid, and I was drenched by about 5:03 a.m. True, I love heat in general, and have at times waited for that 2 p.m. 100+ time of the day in the middle of summer to go for a run. But what’s fun for 10 miles in July, is not necessarily fun for 100 miles in early May, and my winter heat training in El Salvador seems to have worn off a bit. At Habron (mile 24) I suffered a bit on the climb out of the aid station and started to reflect on running smart and a potential death march. However, by the end of the climb and the run into Roosevelt, I felt pretty good again. I really like the run into Roosevelt—rolling, runnable and shady. And, I broke out my shuffle loaded with 6 hours of Split Lip and Scroat Belly, and my mood improved drastically. The climb out of Roosevelt before descending into Gap 1 is not a favorite of mine. And it was insanely hot, as a fire had cleared most of the tree cover. I didn’t feel like I was moving fast, but caught up and passed Adam Cassedy on the way down, and thought, “Oh, fuck.” There are few times when I should be up running with Adam.

At Gap 1, my crew mentioned that Keith had just gone through, and I thought, “Oh, fuck.” My apologies, as my vocabulary was a bit limited on Saturday…. There are very few times when I should be in Keith’s vicinity, especially on MMT trails. The climb up and trip along Kearns (worst section at MMT, in my opinion) were uneventful—just really, really hot, and I felt like I was crawling over the rock piles. I saw a nice big black snake, but didn’t see any runners until I started to descend and saw Keith in front of me. Again, “Fuck.” Keith was really suffering from the heat. We stopped for water together at the road, and I ran on ahead into the Picnic Area for a brief stop and up the climb to Bird Knob.

Luckily for Keith, and most others, the heat broke as a huge thunder storm rolled in. It was a lovely storm, with huge lightning bolts scattering the horizon. Not necessarily what you want when you’re on a cleared road on a high point on top, but it was lovely. Saddest part during the Bird Knob section was the demise of my iPod--they don't hold up very well in rainstorms, apparently. No more Scroat Belly. Major downer. I ran through the aid station on Bird Knob, as I was shivering by this point, and ran along Bird Knob and down to the Visitor’s Center. Low and behold, a lovely latrine was awaiting me there, complete with squishy Charmin and baby wipes, and I had my first not-so-lovely incident of the day (although you couldn't have asked for better timing). I met up with my crew down at 211, and headed on up towards Gap 2.

I was still feeling pretty good at this point. Not great, but the wheels were still on. Joe Kulak caught up to me on the road, but then fell back on the climb. I felt another bathroom emergency coming on, and he passed me along the fire road down to the Crisman Hollow Road as I made a very public pit stop. A recent burn had left very few bathroom options….. I was starting to feel a little crappy (literally) at this point, and made it into Gap 2, not quite as smiley as I had been at other aid stations. I grabbed a wad of toilet paper, and departed for Moreland, where I would pick up my pacer, Mike Schuster, as it was still too early for him to jump in.

Moreland is where the wheels started to fall off. My quads were starting to feel like bricks, and I was having a real problem with traction and sliding around on the rocks. On the climb up Short Mountain, Adam passed by early, and then Nate bounded by with his pacer, followed by Keith. Schuster and I had just been discussing Keith’s personal life, so it was perfect when Keith stopped to show us the engagement ring he had been carrying with him the entire day. He said that he wanted proof that he had carried it the whole way, but that it was a SECRET and that only Schuster and I knew. Funny that my crew later mentioned, “I think Keith is going to propose at the finish.” Slick, Keith. :)

We passed by Nate and pacer again, who were having some light issues (a.k.a. running w/o lights on short mountain) and we geared them up to get them down to the aid station. At the aid station, my lovely crew changed my socks and shoes, as I was starting to have a problem bending over that far. My feet were fairly trashed, but they had been for about 50 miles. At this point, I was starting to worry that I would not be able to get up the last few big climbs on my quads.

The last 25 miles were pretty uneventful, and not entirely pleasant. It rained much of the night, I think. Nate and new friend flew by us climbing out of Edinburg towards Woodstock, but we oddly passed them back, expecting them to catch back up quickly. We wouldn’t see them again…..trolls? The only other person to pass by was Neal Gorman, who turns out to be a neighbor in DC, and after inviting him to WUS--our Tuesday night running group--he sped off. After Woodstock, there’s a rolling portion followed by a steep down into Powell’s Fort, and then just 2 big climbs and descents to the finish. The section from Woodstock was painful. My quads and hip flexors had stopped functioning, and I had given up on eating and drinking much after Edinburg. We finally got to Elizabeth’s Furnace and started the last excruciating climb. I was literally lifting up my legs with my hands to get them up and over the rocky staircase that leads to the top. I was in tears, and frustrated at what was turning into a miserable death march, again. Again, sometimes advice can seem like a premonition. All good things come to an end, and thus, the climb did, too. Unfortunately, it turned into a downhill, which I couldn’t run. We hobbled in, and finally approached the finish line, where I could see that I could still make it in under 25 hours if I ran, if just by a few seconds. I shuffled in at 24:59:55, good for 10th overall, and 1st female.

Many thanks to my wonderful crew, Bobby, Jennifer, Katherine and Susan. They were always ready and waiting for me, and went so far as to undress and re-shoe me. It meant a lot to have some of my non-ultra friends come out and meet the other half of my life. And special thanks to Bobby, who showed them the ropes and made sure that both they and I were comfortable. I think they all had a good time. Katherine had mentioned before the run that she wanted me to be ‘happy’ throughout. I tried to smile, and did a pretty good job of it until the wheels fell off. It actually helped to have her say that, as I tried to run into each aid station as chipper as possible. And, of course, thanks to an awesome pacer, Mike. I felt really bad for Mike, as it progressed further and further into a death march. It’s a huge sacrifice to go for a long hike in the woods at night in a rainstorm.

Overall, I’m happy with the run. Even though it wasn’t quite what I wanted, it leaves me motivated to return to get under 24 hours another year. Or maybe under 22:38….

Post-run, I’m still not feeling stellar. Bleeding kidneys that still feel bruised, have left me a little lackluster until today. And my hip flexors still refuse to flex, although I’m hoping they get motivated soon. I plan to take a good week off from running, and hope to be in the pool by this weekend. I’ll post more on the nutrition/gear/shoes used in another post, as this one is already way too long. But in the meantime, the traction of the Montrail Mountain Masochists was lackluster, at best.

And the happy couple did get their moment at the end, even if it was interrupted by a discussion over course markings. Congrats Keith and Tracy!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pre-MMT Dreaming.

Anxiety has set in full force, as have my dreams involving various athletic feats where I am clumsy and failing miserably. Last night I was attempting another surfing lesson (I had attempted this in real life this winter in El Salvador and got pummeled by my board) and was in a pool with a large group of people. I was using an insanely narrow board, and couldn't stand up, so my instructor (a beautiful, beautiful man) crafted me an impromptu one out of cardboard. I tried and tried, but couldn't stand up, as my board was really soggy, and not so stable.

Last week I dreamt I was at MMT, and somehow got onto the all weather track portion (sounds like MMT, no?) and couldn't get back on trail. I later woke up (in the dream) at a hotel (again, somewhere along the MMT course), and had accidentally taken a 4.5 hour nap. I had a heck of a time getting my teeth brushed and getting back on trail again.

Back to real life, I felt the need for a pretty strong taper, so have been taking it really easy the past couple of weeks. I'm still running to work (4-6 miles), but after an 18 miler on May 1, haven't done anything over 8 miles. I've also tried to stay off of my feet on a couple of recovery run days, venturing into the pool for a couple of mile swims. I was having some pains on the inside of my left foot/ankle, so hope that a couple of very restful weeks, will leave me rested and my foot happy. Tapers are hard. It doesn't take me long to make me feel like I'm 100% out of shape.

Now it's time for organizing gear, figuring out which shoes to wear, and of course, the most important, what color skirt to wear. I'm going with the Montrail Mountain Masochist. I wore them for an 8 mile run on some really rocky trails in the Catskills this weekend, and started to second guess my choice. It was a wet weekend, and there were several spots where I slipped on rocks. I'm not sure that it was the shoes though. Mossy rocks are slippery, and I don't know if anything is going to keep me upright at MMT. It's been a year since I've visited my hand surgeon, so hopefully the rain will be light, and the rocks sticky. I'll have some La Sportiva Fireblades and some old-school Montrail Hardrocks as back-ups for a shoe change. It's going to be muddy again, this year, so a shoe change will likely be necessary around Gap2, or so.

Besides some pre-run anxiety, I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend with old friends and new this weekend at the ranch, along the trail, and at the aid stations. The VHTRC puts on great events, and MMT is no exception. Here's hoping the rocks on Short Mountain have spontaneously combusted since the Chocolate Bunny.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Promise Land 2009, MMT long training runs are done.

Like Bull Run Run, this was my 3rd time running Promise Land.  And like Bull Run, it is one that I hope to return to again and again.  A Horton event, Promise Land measures at a bit more than a 50K (34.3 miles on my watch).  Held in the end of April, the red buds are always blooming, and the tree are just beginning to really green.  PL is arguably one of the most scenic ultras in the area, and while I had considered not going after a hard effort at BRR last weekend, I decided I'd be more comfortable with one more last long run before MMT.   I was surprisingly not sore after BRR, and PL has a couple of good quad-trashing downhills.  The course features a few good climbs and descents; the website claims about 8000 feet of elevation gain over the 34 miles (and the same in descent). 

The forecast was for upper 80s or low 90s and the weather didn't disappoint.  What started out as a warm day, just continued to get warmer.  Many runners camp in the field that is by the race start/finish, and this year we decided to camp too.  It made for a really easy morning, as the run starts at 5:30, which means an early morning regardless of where you're coming from.  I was chilly when I went to bed, but was surprised to wake up to temps that were already about 10-15 degress or so warmer than the night before..  I actually didn't mind the heat until the final climb up Apple Orchard Falls, where it started to feel a bit steamy.  

For me, I have 2 favorite sections of the course.  The first is the first big downhill/rolling section which is along a grassy fire road up near the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The sun has just risen at this point in the run, and the views of the blue ridges off to the right are spectacular.  My second favorite is the climb up Apple Orchard Falls.  It's the final big climb, and passes along a beautiful stream and then climbs up an impressive water fall and a set of wooden steps that didn't seem as long as I had remembered. The water seemed to be up this year, and the falls were even more spectacular than I remembered.  

I went into it as a final long run before MMT, and vowed to myself not to run it too hard.  I didn't feel like I really pushed it, just had a good last long run, and finished up right at 6:00, which is about 10 minutes faster than I ran it in last year.  The finish is a long downhill road section (the same section you climb at the beginning) and it felt good to cruise down the last 3 miles or so to the finish.  I ended up as first loser, as Horton likes to mention (2nd female), about 10 minute behind Bethany.  Bethany ran strong the entire day, and I lost sight of her around mile 20 and never saw her again.   Sean represented WUS well by winning in just over 5 hours, and Vicki Kendall turned in a great performance in winning her age group and running a huge PL PR of 6:49.  Vicki is going to have a great MMT.  

It feels good to be done with long runs, and I plan to spend the next 3 weeks resting up for MMT.  I feel like I've put in the miles for the most part, with 4 long runs of 50 miles, 31 miles, 50 miles and 34 miles in the past 5 weekends.  The main thing I worry about is my lack of training on MMT trails this winter.  I plan to do one more run on them this weekend, but at this point, there's not much I can do.  If nothing else, hopefully my winter of heat training in El Salvador will compensate for my lack of rocky trail training.   Bring on the heat!  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bull Run Run 2009, I love the VHTRC!!

This was my 3rd year running the Bull Run Run 50 miler--I've run it every year and it's a favorite. I won BRR in 2007 in what I considered to be a bit of a fluke (lucky day), and slogged through it painfully last year on dead legs after having run a fun down-hill 35-miles in Bolivia the weekend prior. I was hoping for somewhere in between this year...a solid training run for the MMT 100 coming up in a month.

I had no intention of 'racing' BRR; I hadn’t even decided to run it until a couple of weeks ago, and decided to run it because I hoped that two 50 milers and two 50Ks scheduled within a period of 5 weeks would be enough to get me feeling in shape for MMT. I also planned to hit 80 mile weeks for 3 weeks in a row, with BRR coming on the Saturday of the second week, sandwiched in between the Chocolate Bunny and Promiseland 50Ks. I haven’t actually quite hit that goal, ending up with 77 miles the week of Chocolate Bunny and 75 miles the week of BRR, but pretty close. I'm not a mileage whore--80 miles is about as high as I get. So, I had no plans of running hard, but somehow in the first mile, got into the lead and then just never backed off. I'm still calling it a training run, just more of a tempo-paced training run than I had planned for.
I felt strong on the first out and back (16 miles) and really enjoyed the first section of trail. I’m not sure if I have ever even noticed the bluebells in years past, or at least they hadn’t caught my attention like they did this year. They were in their full glory and were stunning!

I started to worry a bit around Hemlock (start/finish) when I realized I was going to have enough Gus to get me to about mile 30. I hadn't thought about gear until the morning of, and had some gear issues--brought along a Nathan bladder for my Camelbak--so used a handheld water bottle instead. Lately I've been sticking to an all Gu diet on short runs (did I just call 50 miles a short run?), especially on a warm day like Saturday. It's hard to cram more than 3 gels into my handheld pocket, and any more than 2 gels in my skirt weigh it down to the point of falling down. An issue. So, I had 5 gels along for what I was hoping to be a sub 9 hour run. Not so smart. But there is always aid station fare.

I felt generally crappy from about mile 20-30. I was having some abdominal pain and decided that I have a hernia, and then just focused on that for a good 10 miles along with some butt/left hamstring issues, which bug me normally. I probably should get the abdominal pain checked out, but the pain went away after about mile 30, as good pains often do, so I stopped thinking about it, and enjoyed the Do-Loop. I got a gift of Gus from Bryon upon entering the Do-Loop, so my concerns of bonking were lifted. The Do-Loop kind of sucks, in general, but didn't suck as much as I had remembered it sucking in years past. It's a lot of short steep ups and downs with heavy leaf cover that makes footing a bit tricky, but it's only 3 miles, so ends sooner than later.

Upon exiting, I asked where the next woman was and was told that Justine had entered the Do-Loop 16 minutes back and that Keith was 30 seconds ahead of me after the Do-Loop. That motivated me to pick up the pace a bit to widen the lead and to catch Keith, as I'm never anywhere close to Keith. I passed Keith at the Fountain Head AS (38) on the way back without even realizing it, so then continued to chase him on towards Wolf Run Shoals (40), where I eventually figured out that he was behind me. I felt really strong from the Do Loop (mile 35) until about mile 43. Luckily Greg Loomis caught up with me at about that time, and we pushed it in the last several miles together. I like to run alone, but it was nice to have Greg's company for those last hard miles. He made the last 5 miles go by much more quickly. Greg and I finished together in 7:34.05, good for 8th overall, 1st female and just a couple minutes shy of Anne Lundblad's course record. The warm weather affected many people, but being that I wintered in El Salvador where it was 80-90 degrees and sunny every day, I had a bit of an unfair advantage.
And in other exciting news, the WUS Pink Mafia team of Keith Knipling, Brian Schmidt, Todd Walker, Justine Morrison and I cleaned up in team competition, beating our nearest competitor by a ways. Hence the obnoxious pink offit I'm wearing above....
Bull Run is a good course for me. It's hilly, but run-able, and technical enough to not be boring, but not so technical as to require much rock hopping, although there are a few short rocky sections along the river. The aid stations are top notch, with great VHTRC volunteers/friends, and the party at the finish line is always fun--good food and catching up with friends. My apologies to aid station workers I encountered from Hemlock to FountainHead, as I was a bit grumpy. This was Anstr's first year as RD, and he and his fabulous volunteers pulled off another great BRR. I teared up at some point in the last 5 miles, maybe in pain, but also in thinking about how much I love the VHTRC--what a great group of people! I really missed the club while I was in El Salvador (although I love my ES running group, too).
Regarding BRR, I will definitely be back. In 2007, I felt my win was a bit of a fluke/lucky, and that I'd never be able to approach that effort again. While I ran a good time this year, I didn't feel great throughout, and feel like I could go faster on a good day.

Maybe a lesson learned is that I do better when I don’t think about a race at all. I tend to get nervous about races, and for that reason, don’t love racing. Being that I didn’t plan to race, I wasn't even slightly nervous. I don’t think that this particular tactic will work with MMT next month, as it is hard not to focus on the 100 mile rock-fest that is MMT, or go into it as a 'training run,' but at least in 100 miles there is plenty of time to settle nerves.
Now it's off to a truly slow effort at Promise Land 50K++ this weekend, which I plan to take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the views.
(Photos courtesy of Aaron Scwhartzbard and Quatro Hubbard)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chocolate Bunny 2009, Smokey Edition

Every Easter Eve, Tom (and now Kirstin) help put on a fun, yet kinda crazy, low-key event, known as the Chocolate Bunny 50K. You finish on Easter, regardless of whether you run it in 5 hours or 15, so all finishers receive a chocolate bunny. The run starts around sunset, and covers what are some of the rockiest parts of the MMT 100 course. It's a great way to get in a long night run, with support, and is a spring-time favorite. This was my first complete chocolate bunny. I had run the first 2/3 of it 2 years ago, but had chosen to not run the entire thing so as to not run a rocky 50K the week before Bull Run Run. I'm running BRR again this year, so I opted for the full bunny. I'm shooting for 3 80 mile weeks in a row, with a 50K (bunny), 50 miler (BRR), and 50K (Promise Land) thrown in for long runs. 80 miles is as much as I ever do in a week, so hope that it will be enough to be in decent shape for MMT next month.

Back to the bunny. The run starts at mile 58 of the MMT course and finishes at mile 89. The first climb is a good one. Not too steap, not too rocky, and most of it pretty runnable. It's not runnable for me during MMT, but at the start of a run, it's mostly runnable. The trail in general is pretty nice until a bit of a gnarly section down into Moreland Gap, which is the start of Short Mountain. Short Mountain is one of those sections on the MMT course which gets a lot of hype. For many, Short Mountain comes after sunset, which adds to the challenge. My goal at MMT is to be on Short Mountain before dark; not necessarily done with it, but at least on it.

The first time I ever 'ran' Short Mountain, I thought it sucked. I was with Michelle Harmon, and we were several hours into a 40 mile run, and both hating life. We kicked nearly every rock on Short Mountain, and I remember discussing with her that I had no desire to ever attempt MMT. Hah.

I remember running Short Mountain a couple of other times, and thinking that it got way more hype than it deserved....not much of a climb, and the rocks weren't really that bad. And last year during MMT, I remember stumbling over some rocks on Short Mountain, but don't remember thinking much of it, besides being happy to get off it and to arrive at Edinburg to sample some of Brenda's famous potato soup. Ymmmm.

I really had little recollection of the giant rock pile that is the ridge line of Short Mountain, but it sucked again on Saturday. It didn't help that I had 2 dim lights (meant to replace my batteries, but ended getting the new and used batteries mixed, and had 2 dim lights as a result), and that my feet/ankles were having some unhappy issues, but I again questioned the sanity of MMT while on Short Mountain on Saturday.

After Short Mountain, life gets better. Sean had mentioned to me earlier in the run that he really liked the section on Powell's, which I remember having hated during MMT. That section he was referring to was the same section where I had fallen last year during an MMT training run, which resulted in hand surgery. This time I enjoyed the section into Woodstock and the memories of my month at work typing with one hand seem to have faded.

Getting into Woodstock, means 5 miles to the finish, along a ridge line that is not too gnarly, but also never seems completely runnable, with a steep, fun down hill into Powell's Fort. I was expecting a bon-fire and beer, but instead was greeted in the parking lot by Sean, who had finished almost an hour earlier and a bit after Keith (who had driven back up to Woodstock), and who was by this time, shivering. After all, it was 35 degrees'ish, and after running for 30 miles and then standing around in shorts in a parking lot full of locked cars, he was understandably cold. Luckily, for both he and I, my dear new Bridgette has heated seats, so we soon had toasty bums and were snacking on a big vat of party mix, while we awaited other runners.

I must say that the run put a healthy dose of fear in me for MMT, as I had truly forgotten just how gnarly and technical some of those stretches are. Luckily, I'm not sore today, and was able to run commute, so my feet and ankles seem to be recovering fine. I do need to find me some new shoes in the next month, as I wore my old school hardrocks, which felt stiff and clunky. Wondering if any of the other participants had lingering effects from the controlled burn that had been done the day prior? On Sunday, I could barely talk, and felt as if I'd smoked a couple of packs during the run. Kudos to Tom and Kirstin and their band of merry volunteers! As always, your support is much appreciated. It was great weather for running, but a cold night to be volunteering. It was a nearly perfect night (minus Short Mountain) to be out running in the mountains, under a nearly full moon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bel Monte 50 Miler, 2009 Forest Gnome Edition

On Saturday, I ran the Bel Monte 50 Miler in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia--my first long run on trails in a few months. Perfect running conditions, 50's and damp. It rained until early Saturday morning, but stopped in time for the run and didn't pick up again until mid-afternoon. Bel Monte has 25k, 50k, and 50 mile options and the course is a nice mix of single track, fire road, and gravel road; some parts of it pretty technical, but other parts nice and pine needle-y. I signed up for Bel Monte because I'm feeling months behind on long days on trails, so figured I should jump in with 50 miles my first weekend back (there were the shorter options of Terrapin Mtn 50k and MMT training run #3 on Saturday, as well). I'm not sure that I can catch up in the 2 months before MMT, but 50 miles on Saturday seemed like a good idea.

The bad:
The first 5-10 miles. I felt like crap and my legs felt like logs. Training on roads is not training on trails, and all sorts of little muscles get forgotten. Between not being able to see the trail (a flashlight might have been handy) and not having run on trails in 6 months, I struggled in the beginning.

I had thoughts of giving up running altogether during the first 5 miles with people passing left and right. Of course, some of those were 25 and 50Kers, and those that weren't, I passed back at some point. One guy, when I told him to pass me, said he'd prefer not to, because he distinctly remembered my pony tail bobbing by him later in the race on other occasions. He did pass, but regretted it later.... ;)

The Good:
Some sweet single track up on the ridge lines. It was fun, once I got back in the groove of it, to navigate over rocks. I was pretty happy to not fall once, especially after a long break from trails, and the fact that I fall on most long trail runs.

Listening to Mongold growl(?) at me as he barreled past to stop walking. The 50 miler had a few out and back sections, which allowed you to see other runners. Mongold mentioned to someone afterwards that he hadn't walked a step--he broke last year's course record by more than an hour. Fun to watch.

Live Scroat Belly and Split Lip show in the woods. Seriously, an unfair advantage. I was in a funk and pulled out my iPod--hello Witchita--I love those boys. They never fail to pull me out of a funk.

The fog, although it obstructed the views, was nice and made the run seem a little mystical. There were places where I wouldn't have been surprised if a gnome had hopped out from behind a rock and waved at me. Maybe next time....

Just being out on trails in the mountains--it was something that I really missed and was anxious to come home to.

I felt clumsy and out of shape at times, but felt strong in spurts, especially towards the middle and end. That was encouraging, that I had more than 50 miles in me if need be, and I could recover from the dead leg lows I felt early on.

Nutrition: 5-15 gels (probably somewhere in the middle), a couple of packs of shot blocks, and a handful of savory aid-station snacks towards the end. One S-cap, and not a whole lot of fluids. I emptied my Nathan bladder once (Nuun), and filled it half-way (water) at mile 32. That was it, besides grabbing water at the last couple of aid stations. It was damp and chilly (to me) outside, and I wasn't thirsty. Energy-wise, I didn't bonk and stayed on top of things.

Shoes: No blisters--might be a first--and no lost toenails--another first. I think the numerous river crossings actually helped in that regard. I wore injinji socks and my very old Asics Trail Attack I. While they looked new (washing machine), they need to be retired, as I have no idea how many miles they have. Unfortunately the updates to the original Trail Attack I have not liked nearly so much. The original had a snugger fit to it, and a light weight road shoe feel. And it was the shoe on top, when I unearthed and opened my tub of shoes on Friday afternoon. I am still in search of a perfect trail shoe. I won a pair of Vasque boas, and also plan to order some La Sportiva's this week, so hope to find something I like soon for MMT. Otherwise, I'll go with Hardrocks again, although I'd really like to get away from them. They seem like too much shoe, although they are the only thing I've found that make my feet less un-happy after long runs on the rocks of MMT. Maybe MMT requires too much shoe.

I ran alone most of the day. No one passed me, and I didn't pass anyone until the last couple of miles. I finished in 9:26, which was an hour faster last year's course record. It's only the 2nd year for the 50-mile option at Bel Monte, so that won't last for long. 6th overall and 1st woman. The results claim that only 43 of 103 starters finished....not sure why? It's a challenging course, but not overly so.

Two days later, and I'm walking funny, and won't run until Tuesday's WUS. Bel Monte did prompt me to put my name on the Bull Run waiting list, as another 50 miler would help with my confidence pre-MMT. It was great to see some VHTRC friends out on trail, Bradley, Sean, Steve, Mitchell, among others. It feels good to be home!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back home again....

After a little over 5 months in El Salvador, I'm back in the states. While I'm glad to be home, I had a great time in El Salvador and will miss the friends I made here, and many things about El Salvador. But, I must say, I'm glad to be home to my 'regular life', running in Rock Creek and the Massanuttens with friends, and enjoying spring in DC. I had the opportunity to travel around a bit during my time in El Salvador, and I hope to go back someday soon to explore some more. Some photo highlights from the last 5 months:
The view from a run up to Boqueron, one of the volcanoes surrounding San Salvador. Beautiful views. A fun run, and uphill for 15 miles.

A truck 'parked' on the side of the stree in Apaneca, El Salvador. A sleepy little town on the 'Ruta de las Flores.' Wonder how long this truck has been 'parked' there?
And we in the US insist on car seats for kids up to how many pounds now? It was a hot afternoon; definitely not the most pleasant of rides.

I was there for 2 big elections. The left won over the presidency in the recent presidential elections. Will be interesting to see what that means for El Salvador.
The view from the barge on the ride to Isla Ometepe. Site of the 1st Fuego y Agua (F y A) 100k and 50k Ultramaratones. What an adventure!!

Another shot from F y A. The view on the climb up Volcan Maderas.
Also from F y A, from the top of Volcan Maderas. An inactive volcano, crater lake is often clouded over and rainy. We were fortunate to have great views and sunny skies.

Again, F y A, a view of Volcan Concepcion from the road.

The view from half-way up Volcan Concepcion during F y A. I dropped my camera on trail soon after this shot and luckily the next guy picked it up for me.
From a day-trip to Cayos Cochinos, Honduras with J-Leh and Tonia.

Not a bad spot to stop off for lunch, unless you don't eat fish.

A day trip to Cayos Cochinos in Honduras (a group of small islands close to La Ceiba).
While the rest of the group opted for snorkeling, J-leh and Tonia and I opted for coffee.
River rafting in the mountians near La Ceiba. This day of rafting had its consequences....
Not us, although we'd gone down this run earlier in the day.
My rafting guide trying to convince me to jump. I did, but it took me a while.
The mountains were beautiful, and the forests intact.

J-Leh and I enjoyed a nice hike in the woods, even though we never did find the giant waterfall.
And glamour shots from the suspension bridge....

J-leh and I spent a few days in Roatan, Honduras between Christmas and New Years, and went diving for the first time since living in Chuuk. It was great to get back under the water, and I hope to plan another diving trip soon.
I dove for the first time in 5 years, and J-leh dove for the first time ever!
The ruins in Copan, Honduras.

Another photo from Copan.

The view from Cerro Verdo of Izalco, a volcano I climbed with my running friends. It was a fun day with good friends.

A partial group shot from the top. Jose Alberto, me, David, Gloria, Juan Pablo and Luiz. I'll miss you guys!

One of the few touristy colonial towns in El Salvador, a view of the cathedral in Suchitoto.
We ran to the beach several times--one of my favorite runs, 20 miles and much of it downhill. This wasn't actually one of those Saturdays, but this was a trip to the beach after my last Saturday long run in the mountains around El Salvador.
The group, after one of those weekend runs to the beach.

I'm happy to be back in DC again, but I will miss many things about El Salvador, especially my early morning running buddies. I won't miss setting my alarm for 3:30 for early Friday morning runs though! Well, actually, I guess I will. Thanks to my dear friends--come and visit me in DC!!