It’s shameful to think that I’ve not updated this blog for almost two months. Between work and training, life has been a bit of a blur as of late. Time really does fly when commitments pull you every which way, and I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m now less than a week out from my first big race of 2014. Oddly, the typical taper tantrum antsiness (is that even a word?) and pre-race nerves have not hit me yet. Ask me how I’m feeling in a day or two and I’m sure my response will be completely different, but for now I shall channel this calm taper buzz into a brief recap of the past 8 weeks…
To start, Lookout Mountain 50 Mile. Two words: dream race. Even after arriving in Chattanooga well after midnight thanks to poor planning on my part (note to self: some states have multiple time zones), I felt solid as could be throughout the event. The rain and the mud simply added to the adventure, as did the many wonderful folks whom I ran with throughout the day. I often find myself alone in ultras due to my odd pace (strong on the climbs, painfully slow at anything remotely technical), and it was refreshing to share the majority of my miles with other runners. If only I could remember all of your names, as you truly made my race!
Rock/Creek put out a wonderful video that vividly depicts the beauty and atmosphere of the event – far better than I ever could with words. The team kindly chose to feature me as one of their interviewees, and captured some neat footage of my finish that was exciting to view on film.
All in all, I could not have asked for a better event to close out the 2013 ultrarunning season. I ended up crossing the finish line in 8:14:14 – first woman, fifth overall, and an unexpected women’s course record!
Lookout is a gem of a race and I do hope to return this year. Thank you to Rock/Creek and the many volunteers for putting on a remarkable event, and to my good pal Anthony, SFH, VFuel, and PocketFuel for all of your support.
Some fun facts…
- Pre-race – 1 serving of Generation UCAN + 1 NUUN and 1 pouch of VESPA
- Gels consumed – 12 VFuel (peach cobbler)
- Water consumed – 40oz (mixed with NUUN)
- VESPA consumed – 1 pouch in-race
- Protein consumed post-race – SFH Recovery (chocolate)
- Calories burned – 4,707
- Average HR – 149
- Max HR – 166
- UltrAspire Surge race vest
- Polar FT4 heart rate monitor
- Pearl Izumi Ultra jacket
- Pearl Izumi thermal gloves
- Voler Artico Thermo arm warmers
- Flag nor Fail “Create Your Worth” tank
- CW-X 3/4 Pro tights
- Hoka Bondi B2s
- Drymax socks
- Dirty girl gaiters (skulls)
- Headsweats race hat
- Ryders Nitrous sunglasses
Since Lookout Mountain, I’ve been focusing 100% of my efforts towards training for Rocky Raccoon 100. We’re experiencing an especially brutal winter here in New Hampshire which has certainly made things interesting. Not one to stay indoors, I’ve bundled up and braved some pretty wild conditions to get my workouts in – from subzero temperatures, to long runs in the thick of a snowstorm. There’s something wildly invigorating about the wintertime, though. I’ve genuinely come to enjoy anything and everything the weather gods send my way.
The only time I take to the indoors is for my speedwork sessions, which are becoming increasingly more natural for me. At first, I struggled with the feeling of pushing my heart rate so high. Running hard and fast – even if only for a few miles – made me feel out of control. It was as if I was teetering on the brink of an edge that could very well break me at the faintest hint of my own uncertainty. Each week I’d review my training schedule and eye that lone quality workout with dread, wondering if this was the one that would push me over that limit. Yet as each workout came and went, my mindset steadily started to change.
It started with a breakout speed session two weeks ago at a local indoor track. I had 5 x 1 mile repeats with 1/4 mile recoveries on the schedule. However, since the track happened to be 5 laps to a mile, I chose to improvise and shorten the recoveries slightly to 1/5 mile. Warming up, I could feel that sense of dread bubbling up inside me. I was to target a 5:50 – 6:00 pace for each, and had no idea if I could accomplish it. Yet as I started on the first repeat, something felt different. I felt strong, smooth, steady… and for the first time ever, in control. I completed the first repeat in 5:46, and managed to keep the remaining four all under 6:00 pace (5:52, 5:51, 5:49, 5:50).
Something clicked on in my mind that day that has resonated with me since. I can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but as I look towards Rocky I find myself filled to the brim with excitement to take on those Texas trails. My only goal going into the race is to redeem my 2012 DNF on the course. I know that to do so, I’ll need to run as consistently and – most importantly – as happily as possible throughout the event. To accomplish this, I plan on pacing 100% by heart rate as always. Whether that results in a 100 mile PR or a 30 hour finish, I’ll be content as long as I come home with that buckle and a big smile on my face. Here’s to a fun run out on snow-free trails!