Muscle Up Buttercup

I knew before I even left the house, that this run was extremely likely to go downhill. And not in the “whee, this is a fun hill to cruise down” kind of way. 

I mean like spectacularly awful crash and burn. 

Yet, with only 6 weeks until the Adirondack Marathon, it had to happen. 

The schedule called for 18 miles. And I planned out a route that had some really good training hills and a loop through a local park with a menagerie of animals (not quite a zoo) we’ve always called Goat World. 

Nothing. And I meant NOTHING went according to plan. Lol

It was 70 and 95% humidity when I headed out. By mile 2.5 I was already starting to drink my water. I had my buddy h2o, which only holds 10 ounces.  But that’s okay, because I knew there were a couple fountains along the route where I could refill. Or so I thought.  

At mile 6, I noticed a whole bunch of orange cones and one of these signs…

Hmmm this could be a problem. I’m fairly sure that race starts at Goat World. I may need to change my route. 

Of course, since I’ve taken to carrying my iPod instead of phone, I had to wait a 1/2 mile until I got to a wi-fi hotspot to confirm. And sure enough…I was on the course. A 1/2 hour before it started. 

I was also out of water by now. And the first  water fountain I knew of? Was turned off. Damn. 

Enticed by the idea of going by and seeing all the 5k runners, trying to figure out where I could get / buy water, and knowing that if I turned around where I was thinking to, I could end up SO in the way of the race, I headed towards Goat World. 

And…like a gift from the running gods, encountered a water stop. Those awesome race volunteers took pity on me and left me fill my water bottle, and wished me luck. 

A 1/4 mile later, I encountered the most aggressive dog I’ve ever met on a run. A large German shepherd, barking like he wanted to eat me and coming across the street at me. So, I stopped. And faced him. And he backed down and went home. I said out loud to him “what the hell was that?” And continued on and up. 

I was in the hilly section now, and the sun was shining. And I was starting to get nauseous. I had to stop for a minute to calm myself down. And then headed past where the runners were gathering for the race. 

Man I love being surrounded by runners. The energy is just contagious. I smiled at a few, wished a couple luck, and then encountered the mother of all downhills. 

The kind of downhill that makes you seriously question if you can make it down without falling headfirst. But, this was important for Adirondack. Because I know there’s a couple of those in the first half of the race. 

I reached the bottom at mile 10. Stood in the shade to open a gel, and seriously questioned myself.  I kinda wanted to call for a ride home. I was trying to figure out if I could call it at 12 and save the 18 for next weekend. 

I was miserable. Really miserable. But I was not going down without a fight. Time to muscle up, buttercup.  Because we don’t train just to make the race easier. We also train to learn how to embrace the suck. 

I did, however, decide that this was now going to be for time versus distance. And that I could likely pull off 16 miles in the time 18 should have taken. 3 hours. 

I stopped to buy a bottle of water. Where I of course forgot to stop my watch. This led to a horribly skewed time for that mile, so I don’t really know what my average was. Lol but that’s okay. It was slow. 

Because again, I was starting to feel ill. And stopping constantly to drink water. And I was SO gritty that it hurt to wipe my face and neck. 

And then I got my second gift from the running gods at mile 11. Sprinklers!! A low long line of sprinklers. And I probably stood there for 3 full minutes with a smile on my face. 

Slightly rejuvenated I continued on, and opted to run/walk the rest. Hopefully more running than walking, but I didn’t even care. 

I stopped for a second if I needed to. I walked when I had to. And I just kept moving. 

And found this cool fungus!

And at mile 14, when I finally found a recycling bin to toss the empty water bottle I’d been carrying for a mile (cuz I just can’t litter), I noticed the address I was standing at. 

Same as the area code for the Adirondack marathon. #runningsigns 

And I thought back to 2015, the last time I ran Adirondack. And I remembered how hard those last few miles were. And that I never gave up.  

So I continued on. Suffering but moving. Hoping that by powering through now, it will teach me to better handle it if it happens again next month.  

By mile 15.6 I was making deals with myself. I was near my house and walking/sprinting the tiniest intervals.  Unbeknownst to me, the hubs had seen me, and told me later he’s never seen me look like i was fighting so hard for every step.  I usually look like I’m having fun. Lol

But I finished. And saw him out in the yard with Gus. I waved, and slowly hobbled up. 

How’s it going babe, he asked. Not good, I replied. Then I laughed. Because 16 miles had never hurt that bad. And it suddenly became hilarious. 

I grabbed the lightpost next to me, hugged it for dear life, and then handed him my iPod. I needed a picture. One where I can look back and remember that even when it’s bad, it’s all good. 

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Hello August…

The worst part of fall marathon training is that most of it occurs in the summer.

I don’t like the heat. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know because i’ve been doing my share of mid-day runs along the river…outside…in the heat and sun. But it usually involves stopping at ALL the water fountains during the second half.

And sure, I did do three races in July…but none of them were quite as good as earlier in the year when the weather cooler.

My poor garmin is getting dusty because I refuse to have digital proof of how awful my paces have been. I mean i’ve actually been eying this training shirt. LOL

But i’m 54 days out from the Adirondack Marathon, which means its time to really get serious. To decide if I have a PR goal, or merely a course-PR goal.

You see, that sucker is HILLY.

And while the first half is crazier hills than the second, the last time I ran this my goal was to beast the hills. And I did, and then the wheels came off by mile 17 and the ‘rolling hills’ in the later miles felt harder than the spikes.

So I plan to spend August ramping up both the strength training (adding a 3rd day a week), the hill training (wherever I can) and, as usual, distance (August’s schedule includes a 16, an 18 and a 20 miler). Dusting off the garmin so I actually know how fast (slow?) I’m going. And hoping that August is mild (yeah, I know….likely not happening).

I’m also going to up my hydration game (my running buddy h2o is about to get in some more miles) and maybe go back on the music (my single-ear sports bud isn’t getting its exercise either). Might be a good month to run to Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffet. oooh – virgin pina coladas in the h20 pouch? LOL

So, if you need me this month…i’ll be out running hills, feeling tropical and thinking fall.

Full Moon Running…a quartet of crazy

I’ve always believed that the full moon brings weirdos out of the woodwork. But this week truly reached a new level.

I should have caught on Sunday that it was a full moon when I encountered the snowman on my long run. LOL

But it wasn’t until after finishing my ‘runch’ yesterday that it sunk in.

Because during the first mile I encountered three rather unusual individuals…

First there was the rather heavy woman, sitting on the curb of the island of a large intersection. Who was only wearing a shirt. Fortunately her stomach was large enough to cover her ladybits, but it was still way more than I needed to see. (side note – she was gone on my way back, so either she left, or was encouraged along).

Then came the human squirrel. He had to be part squirrel, because most human beings don’t suddenly dart in front of another person for no good reason. And yet, this gentleman coming up the other side of the sidewalk just randomly came over right in front of me. Not texting, not avoiding an obstacle, just apparently decided to see if I was paying attention. Okay…

And, a block later, number three. The woman in the motorized wheelchair who, at the exact second I swung down to the right around her, turned without looking and headed for the road. I swung wider and apparently ticked her off, as I heard her yell “Next time you do that i’m gonna run you over”. I wanted to yell back “you’d have to catch me first” but instead settled for “watch where you’re going”. Because someone that has no chance of catching you is fairly safe to yell back at. LOL

Fortunately soon after I made it to the river and the next two miles were uneventful. Even coming back up that final mile hill was no more than the usual people who don’t pay attention and cell-phone starers who are gonna end up with serious chiropractic issues.

I figured the crazy was over. Until I got back to the locker room to change. And encountered the fourth member of my Quartet of Crazy.

Because you know those fancy dyson hand-dryers where you slide your hands down in and pull them back out? Well, I watched a woman use it to dry her dirty sports bra. Genius, but disgusting. I mean lady – people use that to dry off clean hands, and now your sweat stank is all over it. Not. Hygenic.

Oh well, at least the full moon is only once a month. I’ll just have to be more aware next month and not run downtown Boston that day. Unless I need another good blog topic!

Stars & Stripes – the recap

Some people celebrate Independence Day with sparklers and hot dogs…and some of us prefer to dress up in sparkles and run races.  

I decided to run two this year and make my own 19.3 Challenge – the Stars & Stripes. Sure there was no bonus medal like at Disney, but it was still a totally awesome experience. 

It consisted of the Independence Half in Bristol, RI and the Finish at the 50 10k in Foxboro, MA. 

I’d never run Bristol before, but I totally would again. Despite it being insanely humid it was an absolute blast. 

The course is rolling hills and mostly water views and Bristol really goes all out for the 4th (events and a parade) so the town is draped in flags and bunting. Plus a lot of the route is within Colt State Park, one of my favorites places by the water and where I spent 12 hours last summer at the Anchor Down ultra. πŸ˜€

A lot of runners were all dressed up in red, white and blue and some really fun outfits. I was saving my really good one for the 10k, but still got into the spirit. 

Some highlights of my race:

  • Meeting a Facebook friend in person finally (hi Sarah!) and another member of my team runDisney fb group
  • Making it all the way up the longest hill to mile 8. It wasn’t steep but it took forever 
  • Finding the “Road Rage” sign
  • Taking a selfie with Potato Head Uncle Sam
  • Knowing that water on the back of your neck does more good than in your mouth. Lol 
  • Having the courage to walk at mile 10. (It was too humid. I couldn’t make myself slow down. So I knew I had to start the walk breaks)
  • Finding out later that despite taking those walk-breaks I was still sub 10:30 pace for those miles. 
  • Finding my fierce at the end – to rally and  run solid the last 1/3 of a mile. With one heck of a finishing kick!

Overall? I finished in just over 2:07. Not my best, not my worst. And I worked hard for that.  It’s been a long time since a half-marathon felt that hard. Sometimes, the reward is in the struggle. 

And I got a cool medal. πŸ˜€

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The Finish at the 50? That one I’ve run a few times before. 

It’s always hot. And I always wonder why I insist on running it. And then I remember…it’s all about the finish. I will never get tired of the chance to run through the inflatable helmet and out onto the field at Gillette Stadium. 

The whole day is like a giant party. They have a kids race, 5k and 10k. There’s a dj and people hang out before. Plus there are fireworks after the races, so you get a lot of spectators the last mile of the race. 

I headed over a couple hours early to meet up with some more members of my runDisney group.  Such a fun buncha people.  A couple of them were running the 5k so I got to watch them start and cheer on all the 5k runners (Trust me, no one is as enthusiastic as a spectator as another runner. Lol) before getting ready for the 10k.  

And there were a lot of 5k runners! Love seeing everyone dressed up and patriotic. 

Me? I went with Wonder Woman. Which was a huge hit with the spectators. 

Hanging out with my group before the race the question came up of goal times.  And as I had hoped to do okay but not great  (it was 80 – and heat is not my friend) I laughed that the goal was to finish. And hopefully under 1:10. 

Another responded “you know how the Disney training plans say – use this one if you want to finish in the upright position?” That’s my goal. To finish in the upright position. Yes!! 😁

We lined up, and after the national anthem (yeah, watching a flag wave in the breeze on independence eve will get ya right there…) headed off. 

I started purposely easy. And spent the next 3 miles trying to hold myself back. 

I chatted with a few other runners here and there. 

I ran through a LOT of sprinklers (you foxboro residents are so awesome!). 

And I never looked at my watch. 

Just watched the mile signs pass by. And passed the people who dropped to walk. And suddenly knew that was my goal. 

That unlike Bristol where I couldn’t go slow enough to not walk, I was going to run easy enough to not need to. Wonder Woman doesn’t walk. 

Suddenly mile 4 clicked by and I was having fun. And then we turned to see the stadium in front of us. Knowing we hadn’t hit mile 5 yet it felt like a joke…so close and yet so far. 

And at mile 5, there was an ugly hill. And I think I passed 7 people on it.  And I grinned at the cheers. Because Wonder Woman never gives up. 

 As we looped through the parking lot of tailgaters I high fived SO many kids I lost count. I couldn’t stop smiling.  

Finally, we headed to the stadium. And down the ramps to the lowest level.  Just before we entered, I spotted the first of the photographers. And picked up the pace. 

(Note:The next photos to follow – credit to Capstone. I will be buying them, but snagged these watermarked versions for the blog…)


And entering the stadium, let out a cheer 

I reached the middle, turned toward the finish line and watched for myself on the big screen (this is the first year I’ve actually seen it!!!!)

I heard my name announced as I approached the line (woohoo!) and sprinted across. 

Where I finally looked at my watch. 

A 1:01:34 finish. Sweet!!!! A fairly typical 10k time for me. Especially for this race.  And way better than I expected. 

So feeling like a total rockstar I got in the line for a photo with Pat… who high fived me. 😁 it’s always good to impress a mascot. Lol 

That. Was. So. Much. Fun!!

Overall? I definitely enjoyed myself more at the 10k than the half. But I would run both again in a heartbeat. And even both the same weekend again. πŸ˜€β€πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Hope everyone had a great 4th!! 

When bad runs go good

Sunday had the makings of a spectacular disaster.

I was tired, I was cranky, I did NOT want to go run. My left knee hurt, my left calf hurt, my right foot had both heel and toe issues and I was just not feeling the run-love.

I sat on the couch all “I don’t want to run. But its Sunday, I have to run. But I REALLY don’t want to. But i’ll regret it if I don’t. GO RUN.”

Instead I took the Gus out, and then changed my outfit because you know, stalling… and finally headed out.

I almost didn’t take my Garmin. I didn’t want to know how slow and hideous my pace was gonna be. But I couldn’t remember exactly how far my loop was, and I needed 12 miles, so instead I promised myself if the pace was truly embarrassing that i’d just delete it.

Sure, I have a half-marathon in two weeks and so I should have been trying for a decent run. But it was warm and slimy-humid and with the list of grievances listed above, I knew I had to just let it go and run easy.

Well, not EASY, but slow. Because nothing was going to be easy.

And as I chugged along I tried to change my brain. I stopped to photograph a random stuffed animal.

And I stopped at a waterfall for a minute. And I kept an eye out for critters and commiserated with some other runners about how hideously humid it was.

It was around mile 8 that things started to turn and my pace got better. I want to blame Sasquatch. (This must be freaky at night!)

But really, it was the ‘incredibly fit couple’ i’d seen a minute before. There they were, dressed in black and muscles, strapping their child into a stroller. They gave a very cheerful hello as I went by. And then, I could hear them behind me. And I was all “Yeah, no. I am NOT getting passed by a stroller on a Sunday run.” LOL

So I surged a bit and it felt good. And I shimmied up the giant hill at mile 9. And I kept going.

At mile 11 I had reached my house and debated going in for water and then doing 2 more miles, or just toughing it out for 1. And was afraid if I went inside i’d stay there. So 12 it was going to be.

And as I headed up my loop and saw the row of sprinklers on, I did a happy dance of joy. With my arms raised and a smile on my face I went straight through. And got soaked. Yay!!

And it made me happy enough that I speed up, and had my fastest mile of the day. A 9:00. I ended a hair under 10/mi overall, so I decided it was save-worthy.

Because it truly wasn’t that slow – it just felt it after how great i’ve been running lately. I have to remember that its summer, and that it means i’m going to get a smidge slower.

Which is okay, because a 2:00 Disney POT and a 2:03 Disney POT will put me in the same corral. So I don’t really need to kill myself on course in Bristol in oh, less than two weeks, if I don’t want to. We’ll wait and see what the weather brings.

For now, i’ll just trudge along and hope for sprinklers!

PS. How awesome is my new shirt? I just can’t resist anything hummingbird.

Hello June!

I’ve been waiting for you. Do you mind bringing along some warmer weather? 🌞

Although really, 50’s ARE nice to run in. But I’m reading for shorts and jimmy buffet music and margaritas on the deck in the sun on Saturday afternoons. πŸ˜€

June is a serious training month for me this year.  I’m feeling all recovered from Maine Coast and ready to put in the work and have a great Stars & Stripes challenge weekend (half in Bristol, RI  Jul 1st / 10k at Gillette Stadium July 3rd).

So, I figured I’d set some goals for June. 

  • Log at least 120 miles πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈ
  • Speedwork once a week
  • Strength train twice a week πŸ‹πŸ»
  • Go to the zoo and see the new red pandas (no, it won’t help my running, but it’s a goal. Lol) 
  • Find a local short race (5k, 10k) for a time trial. πŸ…
  • Ride my bike at least twice πŸš΄πŸ»β€β™€οΈ
  • Stretch more

Sounds reasonable right?  

Do you have any goals for June? Let’s all have an awesome month. 😁

Change for a 20…

Two tens? Four fives? Some singles? How do you change a 20. 

When it’s ultra training, and it’s hot out, you don’t just run a 20-miler. Unless you don’t mind looking like a Sherpa and toting along tons of water and supplies. 

Me? I’d rather take the chance to simulate race day conditions, set up an aid station and loop it. 

My original plan was four-fives. Four different 5-mile routes to help allieviate the boredom. 

But after the second one, and experiencing way more traffic than there should be at 8am on a Sunday morning, plans changed. 

It became 2 fives and 10 singles. Yep, the second half of my run was repeats of my 1 mile – mostly shady, sidewalked and sometimes sprinklered – street. And ya know, it was perfect. 

While I’m sure some of my neighbors were like “how many times is this girl coming by” the repeats didn’t bother me. Especially as I hit mile 14 and started walking 1/4 mile of each loop. As a cooling strategy and to let me drink / fuel. 

Because, as I reminded myself, you don’t have to finish fast, you just have to finish. 

And I know, if last year’s 50k taught me anything, its that there will be walking. And I am totally okay with this.  So may as well practice it. 

Ultras, timed ultras especially, are not a race so much as an endurance event. I’m not there to beat anyone but myself. And that’s part of why I enjoy them.  I train smart, which means knowing an accepting my own limitations. And preparing accordingly. 

So, as hot and gross as I was by the time I finished, I actually still felt pretty good. Nothing hurt (love compression socks), I was well hydrated and fueled and I was still smiling. 

Of course, having a chance to go through those magic sprinklers the last two miles totally helped. πŸ™‚ Even if another runner told me it was “cheating”. My response to him was “I’m 18 miles in. I’ve earned it” which got me a thumbs up in reply. Lol

So, while I still have one more really long run in two weeks, as one more “dress rehearsal”, at this moment I’m feeling pretty race ready. And also glad my race is at night (because the sun was the hardest part of my training). 

So what I learned on Sunday’s run is:

  • change is good
  • flexibility is important
  • shade and sidewalk beats sunny roads
  • lemon tailwind is yummy
  • sprinklers rule!

Happy Monday my friends. And happy running!