Thursday, January 28, 2010

Urban Exploration

Last evening I ran 7 miles from my Springvale office. I normally don't like running in Springvale/Sanford. I just can't seem to find my way off the busy roads and the drivers there are not very pedestrian friendly, no offense to anyone who lives in that area. Normally I run toward Sanford in an attempt to stay where they have sidewalks. But last night I put my life on the line and ran off in the opposite direction. Sure enough, the sidewalk abruptly ended forcing me into the traffic. I had reflective gear on, but that just seemed to draw the cars to me like a magnet. I could imagine the drivers thinking things like, "what the hell is that shining on the side of the road? I think I'll veer over there for a closer look." I took my first opportunity to leave the busy road and surprisingly found running bliss!

Running South and West of town opened up a whole new world of runner friendly hilly roads! I climbed past tranquil little houses and nice fields to the top of a ridge in the bright light from the 3/4 full moon. I would have kept exploring, but I had one evening patient visit to make and didn't want to risk being late for that appointment. So instead, I turned and ran back the same way. It was lovely.

I spent some time this morning mapping out some more loops in that area. I've figured out 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 mile loops that look like they will be very nice. The convenience of running from my office, instead of running from my car on the side of the road, is that there is a bathroom, a place to change, a water cooler... the list goes on and on! What a luxury!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10 Miles in Whimpy Shoes

Yesterday, I knew the trails would be in bad shape for running with temperatures so warm and the little bit of snow left out there being so wet. So I was heading out for a road run, like it or not. At the last minute as I was just going out the door, I decided to try to find a pair of road shoes in my closet. I normally train all the time in heavy sturdy Solomens (I have several varieties.) I found a pair of Nike Assails from several years ago. True, they were marketed as trail shoes, but there really isn't much to them that would make them a trail shoe. I need more than that on the type of trails I run. These Nikes are as close to a road shoe as I possess. They are old, but haven't been used much.

I put them on and headed down the road. They were light and flexible and bouncy. Wow, I felt like I used to feel when I would change into my racing flats for a track workout or a road race. My feet were hardly touching the ground! My legs were spring loaded! I was moving! I wasn't really going that fast, but that's how it felt.

After about 3 sort-of-fast road miles on Spec Pond Road, I ran by the Town Farm Snowmobile Trail and screeched to a halt. I hadn't planned to run on trails. They were sure to be wet and messy and slippery. And wasn't I feeling all fast and happy running in my light shoes on this good clear road? But heck, why not give the trail a try for a few yards just to see how it is? You know, for future reference.

Down the trail I went. The packed snowmobile tracks were slippery, but soft enough that with each step my foot sunk into the snow enough to give me some grip. It was hard work and I wasn't moving very fast anymore. But my heart rate was through the roof and my quads and hamstrings were burning. Once in a while I would post hole through the packed snow, usually into melt water beneath the snow. This didn't happen often enough to seem annoying. I had been feeling good on the road, but now I was smiling and ecstatic! I love the trails!

My poor Nike Assails didn't know what was happening to them. They were soaked through in seconds. On one occasion, my left shoe was yanked completely off my foot when I pulled it back out of a post hole. My right achilles was feeling a lot of rubbing and burning as the shoe protested to this sort of running. I ended up with a huge blister by the end of the run.

I only went about 3 miles on the trail. Then I got back onto pavement and picked up the pace again. The Nikes were much happier. I tried to push the pace all the way home for a good solid ten mile effort. I followed with a strength workout and then later in the evening I did my Plyometric workout. The Nikes are on the boot dryer trying to recover.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Goodbye Snow

A few days ago I posted that between now and my snowshoe marathon, I was going to try to get all my running mileage in on snowshoes. Yesterday's rain has put an end to that idea! I've been luckier than some in that I have had local trails with good snow cover for over a month. It seems that almost everyone I know has broken snowshoes right now. Why? Because they've been out training and racing on trails without enough snow on them! Snowfall has been spotty in New England this winter. Even a few miles can make a difference in the amount of snow out in the woods. But I think it's fair to say after all the rain we saw yesterday, we will all be leaving the snowshoes behind for a while.

So today I'll be out on the roads. I also plan to put in a Plyometric workout and an upper body/abs strength workout. Triple workout today, because I did absolutely nothing yesterday but sit around sipping tea, reading, and crocheting while the rain fell outside. I'd better get going, the day only has so many hours in it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My next door neighbor's house burnt down today. Kevin and I were just leaving the Osippee River Trail and saw a fire truck from Cornish go by. I joked, "maybe it's my house and I'll be off the hook," I have house I can't afford. We laughed and then went to the market to buy few bottles of wine. We then headed home. We went over the Kezar Falls bridge and I gasped "Oh my god. It IS my house." and Kevin said, "No. "It's Chris's." We had to drive around the block the long way to see it was true. Sure enough my next door neighbor's house had burnt pretty much to the ground. When he finally showed up at the scene, I was too shy to approach Chris. Kevin walked down the street and did tht dirty work for me. "Here but by the grace of God" is what I thought. I am very thankful that my house is not that empty hollowed out blackened mess next door. I feel very bad for him. He's been a very nice neighbor.

Sandwich Range Wilderness Snowshoe

Kevin and I did a very nice 6 mile snowshoe jaunt yesterday. We started with a steady gradual climb up the Cabin Trail from Rte 113A (in Tamworth I think) into the Sandwich Range Wilderness. We set out in bright warm sunshine and shed layers of clothes throughout the first mile. There was one other set of fresh snowshoe tracks, but otherwise the trail was soft and unpacked. Neither of us see a lot of sense wearing snowshoes on trails that are so well packed that you could easily manage without the snowshoes. Winter hiking has become so popular in the Whites that most trails are well packed within 24 hours after a snowstorm. That's why we headed over to this part of the Sandwich Range. There aren't any breath taking views or awe inspiring climbs where we were yesterday, just dense thick beautiful woods and nice white snow. It doesn't attract a lot of foot traffic and it is one of my favorite areas to runin. Yesterday it was perfect.

At the top of the Cabin Trail climb, we turned off to the right onto Whitten Brook Trail, again following very little used trail. A little way down this trail, the snowshoe tracks we were following suddenly ended. Who ever had been out there had turned around and haded back the same way. This meant beautiful, untouched deep snow for us! Kevin let me lead. You wouldn't think this would be the sought after position, breaking trail through fresh deep snow, but both of us love this kind of thing. Part of the fun is trying to stay on the trail. The other part is feeling your hamstrings and quads burn with every step. On Whitten Brook, the blazes have all worn off the trees but I managed to stay on course with very little prompting required from Kevin. This entire section of our outing was slightly downhill and we could really move fast through there! It was shaded and a little cooler, but we were moving and working hard enough that we didn't have to add any layers back.

There were several brook crossings before we got to the intersection with Big Rock Cave Trail. I didn't get wet until the last water crossing, just after we turned off onto Big Rock Cave. I stepped down on what looked like snow covered rock only to find out it was ice, which broke off and put my feet into the water. This didn't bother me much, because as soon as we crossed this water we had a big steep climb that kept me nice and warm. Finally we crossed over the top of Mount Mexico and back into the sunshine,where we stopped for lunch. Then it was a quick gradual descent back to Rte 113A. What a great snowshoe outing!

Today we both are feeling it a little in our legs, but we're headed out to Kezar Mountain with our snowshoes in a few minutes.Rain is expected tonight,so we have to take advantage of the snow while it lasts!

Friday, January 22, 2010

8 Snowshoe Miles

I just got back from running 8 miles in snowshoes at "snowshoe marathon pace." If you're wondering how fast that is, it's not. As far as I'm concerned it's a slow jog with walk breaks. I am beginning to realize that if I am going to finish the Peak Snowshoe Marathon, it is going to have to be at a relentless slow shuffle. Today I averaged 12 minute miles and the terrain wasn't all that hilly. My heart rate was in the 150-160 range most of the time even at this slow pace. The snow is pretty soft today and that makes forward progress hard work. I imagine that for the marathon at the beginning of March the snow might be even softer.

Today I ran out on the Stinky Mud Trail which, believe it or not, had some open holes with black stinky mud showing through the snow. These were small and easy to step over. This mud is black oozing stuff that brings to mind the tar pits of the dinosaur days. It's one of the wonders of the world where this stuff comes from and why it's there year round.

My quads are tired, but they feel STRONG. Plyometrics, skiing, snowshoeing, and leg workouts are working. My jeans are all tight in the quads now and hard to get on. I know a lot of women would be upset by this. I consider it a good thing, it's not as if I expect to be out in a bikini any time soon. This strength will give me a good base to build on in the Spring. Once I start putting the running miles in the legs will slim down pretty quickly. Until then, I have plenty of stretchy Yoga pants and running pants I can wear!

I am going to try to do most of my running on snowshoes from now until the marathon. It's tough and time consuming, but it sure is a good workout!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ellis River/Hall Trail Loop

A regular winter fitness test for myself is to ski the Ellis River to High water Trail to Hall Trail loop at Jackson Ski touring. Normally I do it every few weeks and like to see improvement over the winter in how fast I can do it and how well I can climb. Today was my first time doing it this winter.

This loop is about 25 kilometers. I have done it both ways, but prefer counter-clockwise. That way I do the easy Ellis River Trail first as a warm up and then get to the hard stuff. Also, skiing the Hall Trail in this direction makes me do my steep climbing on the wide straight trail and my steep descent on the winding narrower trails. Because it takes so much control to make the curves on this downhill, I have to use a lot of strength and can't just take a break and relax like I do when skiing the other direction.

The Hall Trail has 1110 feet of climb along its length. I love the climbing. As soon as Hall leaves the Rocky Branch parking lot to start the return trip, it starts climbing. I start the climb by skiing hard in the tracks, eventually have to step out of the tracks into the softer snow for better grip, next have to resort to a running herringbone, and before I get to the first plateau, I end up slowing to a fast walking herringbone. All the while I am huffing and puffing and seeing stars. What's not to love?

From there to the top of Popple Mountain, there is plenty more climbing, but the stretches of climb are interrupted every so often with a short flat or even slightly downhill stretch allowing me to catch my breath. Once the top of Popple is reached there is often some ungroomed snow to make your way through. Today it had been groomed at one point and only had about 4 inches of fresh powder on top. Easy going!

Then comes the fun! Skiing down the mountain is a blast! Sometimes it's icy and scary. Today it was just scary. With about 8 KM or so to go, there is a long sweet slight downhill that is perfect for staying in the tracks in a tuck, and just riding gently down the trail. This goes on for quite a while, but gets ever so gradually steeper and steeper making me ski ever so gradually faster and faster. At some point, I have to jump out of the tracks before I get going to fast and loose control. You can't really slow yourself down in the tracks. Today, I pushed the envelope a little too far. by the time I tried to get out of the tracks I was really flying. I got my first ski out of the track OK, but something went wrong when I tried to lift my second ski out. I went into a crazy tumble. The thought that went through my mind as I tumbled was, "I think this is what they mean when they say falling ass over tea kettle." I came to a stop with no harm done, other than a lost earring and a tiny little laceration on my ear from having it yanked out. Oh, and a slightly sore right knee.

Unfortunately, the only person I saw on Hall came skiing up in the opposite direction immediately after that fall, while I was still covered with snow and trying to pull myself back together. "Took a tumble?" he asked. Without thinking I said, "no one saw it, so it never happened." He liked that.

I checked my watch when I got back to the parking lot and saw that I had classic skied the loop in 2 hours and 42 minutes. Not a bad start for the year. I've set the bar high if I am going to improve a little each time out this year! The big goal is to get up that entire first climb on Hall without slowing to a walk!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Skiing (Mis)adventure

Mary and I agreed to meet up for a ski at Jackson today. I was surprised to find it was snowing steadily for my entire drive over to North Conway, bad driving but great skiing conditions! When we arrived at the ski touring center, I went in to renew my annual membership. This took a very long time because there were people ahead of me who wanted a blow by blow description of each and every kilometer of skiing.

Eventually I had my pass and ran back out expecting to find Mary itching to get out on the trail. But instead she was headed in, she had left her ski poles in the lodge last time she skied and they supposedly had them down in the rental center. She went down and told the guy that he had her poles. He pointed to a stack of about 100 odds and ends ski poles and said they were in that pile. Mary sifted through for quite a while and eventually found a matching pair, but they weren't hers. Finally she gave up and said, "I've got extras in the car." We went back out and she dug out her extras. They barely came up to her waste, they had no straps, and the baskets were broken. There was a spiderman sticker on one of them. "These might belong to one of my kids, " she admitted after looking them over, "but they'll work."

Next she asked to borrow my glide wax. The sponge that dispenses the wax was frozen to the cover and it took quite a while of under the arm time for it to thaw enough to use. At last we were all geared up and ready to go! Then I looked down and realized I still had my daughters fuzzy warm knee high boots on. After searching through Mary's car, I had to admit that I had forgotten my ski boots. We tromped back into the lodge and downstairs to the rental desk. The guy just looked at us, he was still skeptical about our sanity from Mary's ski pole shenanigans. "I forgot my boots, can I rent some?" I asked. He just shook his head and said in a monotone, "forgot your boots." Well, after forfeiting nine dollars and my daughter's boots (for collateral) we were off!

We skied 20 kilometers over some of the best conditions I have seen in a long time. The base is awesome and the new snow from yesterday and today was groomed beautifully. The trail and the river were breathtaking with the fresh snow. We chatted away, but worked hard. We ski classical, but I tried a few kilometers of skate skiing (on my classical skis) just to make sure I remembered how.

After a wonderful time out in the woods, we returned to the parking lot, only to discover that Mary's car battery was dead. I went into the lodge to return the rented boots and to ask for a boost. I found no takers on the boost. The rental guy and the lady at the ticket desk both claimed they couldn't leave the lodge. Outside I chased down three skiers who were just getting into their car to head home. They were probably about 60ish and I could tell by the way that they were walking on the snowy asphalt and the way they were fussing to each other to be careful, that they were the "cautious type" of people that drive me nuts. The owner of the car informed me that giving another car a jump from his battery is a sure way for him to blow his car up. If he was lucky enough not to blow the thing up, it would definitely fry his entire electric circuitry. "So no, little lady, I most certainly will not be giving you and your friend a jump from my battery." They all scurried into the car, slammed the doors, and drove away as quick as they could.

Not to worry, Mary was on the phone with her ex-husband. At first he said no, he wouldn't help (there is a reason he is an EX husband) but then Mary told him I was there with her. He has been shamelessly flirting with me for the past 20 years or so. He agreed to come and was there in a few minutes. The tension between Mary and the ex was so thick, I wouldn't have been surprised if his car blew up or his electric circuitry got fried just from the bad vibes in the air. Anyway, we got Mary's car started and hopped in. But before I could close my door the ex asked me, "when's dinner?" Mary muttered to me "oh yeah, I promised him you'd take him to dinner if he came to help." and then said out loud to him, "I meant me AND Laurel were going to take you to dinner." To which he replied, "never mind then." So we headed home. All in all, another great misadventure with my friend Mary.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Boring Post about Past Two Days

My new treadmill came a couple of days ago. It's a Sole. I can't remember the model number, but it's a nice one! I put in a good trail run that morning and planned to assemble the treadmill in the evening after work. But my son surprised me by having it all assembled by the time I got home. So I started playing around with it, trying to figure out how to use the different programs, how to use the incline and speed, how to use of the heart monitor, how to change the display, etc. I didn't even change my clothes, I had on my yoga pants and the shoes I work out in. I didn't really feel like I was running so I was surprised when I looked at the "workout summary" and found I had done over three miles and averaged just over 8 minute pace. A new toy is always a lot of fun!

Yesterday was one of those work days where a run just wasn't going to happen. I had to start early and I didn't get home from my last visit until late. I had my running clothes with me in the car and even started to get changed for a quick run on two separate occasions during the day, only to be interrupted by that damned pager of mine. Oh well, I can't complain. I only have a tough work week every three weeks and the two weeks between are a walk in the park.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Got my Head Right for Today's Run

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I ran for about 3 hours on snowmobile trails and could barely lift my feet off the ground. Today I ran for two hours on snowmobile trails and felt fantastic! I started out on pavement and entered the woods in Cornish across from the Pike's fields. This cut me across to South Hiram Road and into the Durgintown Woods Trails. The surface was hard packed and great for running. I crossed back over the South Hiram Rd and into the Osippee River Woods, crossing through the fairgrounds. Snowmobile trails in this area are narrow and winding, not the wide super highways we have up in Northern Maine and over the border in New Hampshire. These narrow winding trails don't see a lot of traffic. I didn't meet any snowmobilers today. When I do see snowmobilers on these trails, they are moving slowly. A rider couldn't go 100 miles per hour on these trails like they do on the wider straighter trails. If one were to try, he wouldn't stay on the trail for long! So the trails around here are very pedestrian friendly.

Once I got to the area behind the schools, I left the snowmobile trails and ran on single track. Some of this was well packed and some was pretty slow and loose. It makes me feel good to see that the trails Kevin and I built last summer for mountain biking are being well used by hikers and snowshoers. It makes me feel even better to see that they are not being used by snowmobilers and ATVers. It's funny to see that people out on the trail tend to want to take the shortest most direct route, so where they are unsure of where the trail goes they just cut straight across and rejoin the trail at the closest point available, taking hundreds of yards off the route by the time they are done hiking. The River Run Trails are winding and meandering on purpose. It's how we can fit a long trail into a short area. Also it makes the trail interesting and fun, especially for biking.

I saw the footprints of another runner on the more well used trails behind the schools. This is a first for me! The tracks appear to belong to a female, the feet were quite small and narrow. She was wearing Yak Trax (unnecessary as the surface is not icy or slippery) and had on road running shoes (New Balance I think.) I know of one other serious runner in the area, my former training partner who teaches phys ed at the elementary school. But she is a through and through serious road racer. She only runs fast and she only runs on roads. (Can you see why I don't train with her anymore? I only run slow and I almost always run on trails now!) I can't imagine my former training partner would be out enjoying a run on the snowy trails, but people change. Whoever it is, I hope I meet up with her some time. I haven't had a local training partner since I gave up road racing.

It was nice to feel the joy of running today. Believe me there was no joy in yesterday's slog. I only did one thing different today. Because yesterday's run sucked so bad, as I headed out of the driveway today I said out loud, "get your head right" which is a direct quote from one of Tony Horton's P90X videos. As soon as I said it and remembered where I got it from I realized that I am becoming a complete dork. Oh well, I "got my head right" before I started and the run went great!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cross Train Weekend

I had hoped to run part of the GAC Fat Ass on Saturday, but still had work left over from Friday and spent the morning working from home. I did get out for a short snowshoe jaunt with kevin along the banks of the Swift River Saturday Afternoon. Sunday was just too cold for me to run. Ten degrees is my cut off. I find if I run when it is colder than that I have a lot of wheezing during the run and end up with a bothersome cough for days afterwards. I did a couple of good indoor workouts instead. I still don't have my treadmill, it's coming tomorrow. I spun on the bike for about an hour keeping my heart rate in the mid 140's, I did my chest and back strength workout, and I did an hour of plyometrics (with an average heart rate of 152!) Plenty of exercise for one day.

Today I went out and ran on snowmobile and mountain bike trails for about 3 hours. I definitely was not feeling my best today. I was just plain beat. But at least I got out there. Tonight will be an early night for me so I can get some quality training in tomorrow.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I've outlined a general race and event plan for the year in the right column of this page. I haven't looked up the dates yet and there might be some scheduling conflicts, but it's a start.

I've fallen into the habit of running later in the day instead of trying to squeeze it in before work. There is a lot of prep work to do before I actually start my work day and when I was running in the morning, I always started out my work day feeling behind already. So my posts are a day behind.

Yesterday afternoon, right around sunset, I parked my car in Limerick and ran out on some awesome snowmobile trails. The snow was a little soft and the going was slow and difficult, but I think of that as good training. It's a little like running on sand on the beach, it's strength work while also getting the heart rate up higher than on a clear trail or road.

The trail was covered with deer tracks, but I didn't see any. I did see some walkers and a back country skier. I was surprised the trail was getting so much pedestrian use. I'm happy with how my training is going now. I feel very strong, just not fast. That's OK because for my first event of the year, the snowshoe marathon, I need strength and endurance more than I need speed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Evening Run in Parsonsfield

I set out for a road run before work yesterday, but remembered early in the run that I had to drive in to our Saco office and update my softwear before I could see my first patient of 2010. I put on the brakes and turned and sprinted home. I figured I had done about two miles and I was disappointed.

My oportunity for a break in my work day finally came at about 4:00PM. I parked my car on the seldom used Pratt Road in Parsonsfield. I am familiar with the road and with the snowmobile trails that leave the road. It was exciting to run there again. These trails were part of my regular running route when I lived in Parsonsfield up until about 5 years ago.

Shortly after leaving the car, a beat up pick up truck pulled up beside me on the snowy icy road. The driver, an old guy in a flannel shirt and a battered ball cap, said in a heavy Maine accent, "Get in. I'll give ya a ride."

me "what?"
him "yer broke down ain't ya?"
me "no, I'm just running."
him "yer what?!"
me "just running."
him "why?"
me "for fun."
him (cap in hand scratching his head) "go figure."

He drove off with a wave. When I told Kevin about it later in the evening he said the guy was just messing with me. Thinking back, I'm sure Kevin was right. He had me going and he was enjoying it.

I ended up running about 5 miles as it was getting dark. It was a beautiful run and I'm glad I fit it in. When I got home I did my strength workout up in my new gym (AKA Shawna's old bedroom). That space is working out really well for me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Blast from the Past

My sister recently found this race report that I wrote after running my first 100 miler at Vermont in 2004. The race was still being run on the old course. My pacer, Bill has since passed away and reading my own account of the race brought back fond memories of him. I've posted a slightly abbreviated version below, leaving out some of the more tedious stuff, one hundred miles is a long way to run and the race reports can seem even longer! I had been running ultras for several years leading up to this race, but was still overwhelmed at the thought of running 100 miles. I hope this report inspires a few of you to try something difficult.


About 250 people lined up at 4:00 AM on Saturday morning to run 100 miles over dirt roads and trails in and around woodstock, Vermont. Statistically, 60-65 percent of us would accomplish our goal. I had been training specifically for this event for over 7 months so I knew I was well trained and as ready as I could be. I wasn't really nervous, I felt like I was on a mission! The miles went by pretty fast for the first 50 or so. I met a lot of runners out on the trail and talked a little with each one. Somewhere in the first 5 miles or so I caught up with Joe Hayes, a fellow Mainer and a very experienced 100 miler. I ran with him until the afternoon and enjoyed his company greatly.

The scenary was fantastic! There was a lot of farmland, forest, and mountains. The day was beautiful, but warm and humid and I had to make sure I was drinking and eating enough. I was amazed at how much I was sweating and a little concerned that with all my drinking, maybe I still wasn't keeping up with my fluid loss.

The aid stations were pretty frequent and well stocked. Some were unmanned, just tables set up beside the road or trail. Others were manned with enthusiastic and supportive volunteers who would fill my water bottle for me and tell me and all the other runners how great we were doing. I tried to stop at each aid station only long enough to grab what I needed and then move on. It is tempting to sit down and rest. Some runners do, but I thought it would be hard to get up and get moving again.

I was getting concerned about sore feet early in the race. I was wearing expensive synthetic running socks because I had grown tired of listening to everyone giving me grief about still wearing cotton socks in this modern age of blister-proof socks. What a mistake. I felt friction points on the bottoms of both feet and on the top of the toes on my left foot. The first "handler" station was around 19 miles and I couldn't wait to get there. I arrived in 3 hours 18 minutes. A local woman named Betsy who I had met the year before was there waiting for me with a bag of supplies I had given her the night before. I had my tried and true bargain brand cotton socks in that bag and changed them as soon as I got there. What a difference!

Betsy, a retired school teacher, was a real trooper and held up all day, appearing at each handler station being supportive and enthusiastic even into the wee hours of Sunday morning! I found out later that she even took the time between handler stations to call Tom, the friend who had introduced us the year before, to give updates on my progress and he in turn passed the updates on to my family! When the running started to feel monotonous, despite the good company on the trails and the great scenary, seeing Betsy at the handler stations was something to look forward to.

I lost Joe somewhere after 10 Bear, but enjoyed running alone for a while. The stretch between the frist and second visits to 10 Bear seemed especially hilly. I specifically remember turning up a trail with a road sign that read Agony Hill, this was about a mile of difficult trail that lead straight up. I also remember a long stretch over dirt roads that seemed to go on for about 3 miles to the top of Prospect Hill. I got back to 10 Bear at 4:55PM. I was still feeling good. I got on the scale and was still up a pound. I thought I'd be on my way, but the medical director grabbed my arm and said in a worried voice, "you're covered with hives." I looked down and realized that it was true. My chest, upper arms and upper legs were all red whelts and they told me my back was even worse. Because she wouldn't let go of my arm, I started thinking that maybe whelts were grounds for pulling someone from the race. I had to think fast and blurted out, "I have a skin condition." This set everyone at ease and Bill and I headed back out on the course. (I've never had whelts like that before and they did go away by the end of the race. I don't know what they were from.)

I was moving along OK, no pain or anything, but my energy level was falling by the 75 mile point. I didn't feel like talking and it seemed to take a lot of energy just listening to Bill talk. This was a sudden change for me and I should have recognized the first signs that my blood sugar was falling. It is very difficult to eat and drink as many calories as one uses in a run of this length and I was going into debt. I fell silent, I couldn't hold my head up, and I started walking for longer and longer stretches. I don't remember much of this part of the race, but I do know I got to a point where I felt dizzy and was loosing my vision and broke out in a cold sweat. I thought I was having a stroke or something and told Bill I needed to sit down. He found a rock beside the trail and I sat. This was the low point of my run. I didn't think I could finish and I didn't even know how I was going to get out of the woods. I don't know if it was Bill or me who thought of it, but I ate something (I don't remember what) and slowly started feeling better. I was able to get up and walk for a while. I fueled up well at the next aid station and was able to mix walking and running to mile 85. For the remainder of the race I had good spells and bad spells, but never felt fully recovered from my episode on the rock.

Anyway, from mile 85 it was mostly walking. The more I walked the tighter my quadreceps got. I knew I would finish and break 24 hours but I was so tired and sore that I remember thinking that I wished there was something slower than a walk. You know how if you get tired of running you can always walk? Well I was so tired walking that I wanted to drop back to something slower than a walk, but that would mean stopping and I wasn't going to do that. Bill was a saint to put up with mile after mile of slow shuffling. It must have been a long night for him!

Finally it was down one last steep slope and there was the finish line. I said to Bill, "I'm going to run these last few steps to the finish line," and he said, "why bother." It was true, we had walked most of the last 15 miles and here I was going to muster up a few steps of running to get over the finish line. This struck me as funny and I ran across the line laughing. Betsy was waiting at the finish line, looking fresh as a daisy at 2:30AM. I was happy, but too tired to be emotional.

I had just accomplished something I had been working at for almost a year but it didn't really strike me until the next day during brunch. At around 11:30 Betsy and I, all the other runners, handlers, pacers, friends, families, and volunteers were sitting under a huge tent with open sides finishing up a great meal. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the finish line was 200 yards away, visible from the tent. The finish line had closed at 10:00AM, 30 hours after the race started. If you couldn't finish under 30 hours you weren't considered a finisher. Now, 31 1/2 hours after the race had started, someone in the tent yelled out, "Here comes a runner!" We all looked out at the finish line to see a woman struggling down that last slippery slope. She was stumbling along, making slow progress. Everyone in the tent started cheering for her. She got to the short level stretch before the finish line and like I had done 10 hours earlier, she broke into a hobbling run, crossing the line to the sound of cheers from the tent. Suddenly I realized what a tremendous accomplishment running one hundred miles was.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Skiing at Jackson

Today I cross country skied about 20K with two wonderful fit forty-something women, Mary and Gail. We skied the familiar trails of Jackson Ski Touring. The trail conditions were very good, considering that the actual amount of snow on the ground isn't more than 6 inches in spots. It was well groomed and the skiing was great.Mid week at Jackson is very nice. There were only a few other skiers on the trails.

In past years I have shown up early and put in some miles of hard skiing before meeting Mary or I've gone out for a run before our ski. That way I could ski at Mary's slower pace and not feel restless and impatient. Because of poor time management this morning, I didn't do either of those things today. It's a good thing, because Mary has put in a lot of time on the skis late last year and early this year and she has improved immensely! She has been skiing with Gail, who I just met today. Gail is a very skilled skier and a very fit woman. The three of us middle aged women flew over the trails today! Skiing alone is wonderful, skiing with friends of any ability is wonderful, but skiing with people of similar ability and fitness is more than wonderful! Our small group just flowed along, taking turns leading without any discussion or any waiting for each other.

This was my first time out on the skis this year. It was nice to see that my fitness from running, snow shoeing, and working out carried me through the outing very well. I might be a little sore in the upper arms and chest tomorrow, that's where it usually gets me the first time out each year. But I have been working out regularly with P90X, so maybe I won't feel it so much this year. I had a really good fun time and can't wait to get back out there again!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Slippery Six

My routine is all out of whack. There is a lot of stuff going on in my life! It's a stressful time for me, but it is all leading to good things in the long run. I've been having trouble getting my workouts in and finding time to get outdoors in the woods. I think I realize now that no matter how hectic things get, I've got to get out for a run or snowshoe or ski every day and I have to do my strength training as often as I can. All the energy I have turns into nervous energy if I don't use it productively.

So this morning, with a big long list of things I need to do staring me right in the face, I went out for a nice 6 mile run on snow covered roads without even giving the list a second glance. It felt great! I ran out and back on the River Road in Cornish. I ran on the shoulder in about 2 to 3 inches of wet snow. I tried running in the tire ruts but that was worse because they were very slick. It was slow going, but good fun running.