Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to Know When Recovery is Done

Today, I decided I would go on a little bike ride, but it wasn't enough to just ride for a half hour or even an hour.  No, I decided I was going to ride six miles to a hot power vinyasa yoga class.  And then ride back.  I survived my little adventure - 25 minutes there, 60 minutes of strenuous yoga and 35 minutes back into a headwind - and I can say I learned four things when it was all said and done.
  1. My recovery efforts should be at an end now.  If I feel the need to do a mini operetta of exercise in three parts, then I should just start my next training plan now.
  2. While yoga seems like a benign non-exercise on the surface it really is an ass-kicker, and one should take that into consideration when they plan on biking home afterwards. (Did I mention the headwind?) 
  3. Biking in 80-degree weather, sweating out every drop of available liquid in a heated yoga class, and then biking back in hot weather makes for a gross little lack-of-hydration situation.
  4. Plan snacks.  I have never felt so hungry as I did biking home.  Even the burgers at the burger joint I passed smelled passingly good, and I am a long-time vegetarian.  
I am not a biker by trade, so while this was a fun little adventure for me, I don't know as I'll do it all the time.  Although in my little fantasy world where there are no childcare concerns, I see myself doing this once a week or so throughout the summer.  We'll see.  

I got a lot of looks while biking the streets of town, but I think it had less to do with the idle curiosity of drivers trying not to run me over, and more to do with the fact that I was hauling my yoga mat precariously.  

Perhaps they were concerned that it might fly out at any moment, unravel and perfectly cover their windshields.  I have to say, though, that baby wasn't going anywhere; it just looked dorky.  Somehow I feel if I had a basket on the front and a little dog, that might have completed the picture.

Getting to yoga, I found out I should have renewed my class card two classes ago.  So, I guess unless I really want to get the stink eye the next time I go, I had better rectify that situation.  Although, they are so nice about everything, it's hard for me to picture them actually kicking anyone out.  I guess I would rather not test that, though.  Namaste and all that.

So, yoga was good, except for all the dripping and sweating and uncoordinated attempts at the poses.  It's been too long since I have gone regularly, and I was never that good to begin with.  The only thing I am marginally talented at are the balance poses.  For some reason, I feel I could be a tree all day. 

One thing I was happy about with yoga was that my arm didn't hurt as much as I thought it might.  I have had this handy little reminder popping up for the past few months telling me that my tetanus booster was overdue.  I vaguely remember getting one 10 years ago.  I was sort of questioning the whole necessity of actually getting this booster when I scratched myself on a piece of rusty metal Sunday.  That can happen when you leave the fall cleanup of your garden for the spring time.  So I got the vaccine yesterday.  My arm is still there this morning, albeit a little sore.

So, tomorrow I attempt the group run again. Yay! Not sure how that will feel after the biking and yoga, but with any luck really, really good.  Essentially, though, I am rolling right over into my next training plan - one that I wrote myself.  I have a trail marathon the first weekend of September and I am excited to get the ball rolling on training.  Because it will be a hard marathon, I actually adapted a 50K training plan for the marathon.  More on that later.  In the meantime...

Happy Running!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is Running Ever Enough?

Yesterday was the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon and Half Marathon and, by all accounts, it was a successful and fun event despite the heat.  Per usual, I did not run it.  Even after living and running in Northeast Wisconsin for ten+ years, I still haven't run this race.  Don't ask me why.  It's just one of those events that - big here locally as it is - it just never really occurs to me to run.  Usually it conflicts with something else I have on the schedule: another race, out of town time with family, or some combination of the two.  

This year was no different, except instead of an event or vacation that offered conflict this year the race conflicted with my planned recovery from the Ice Age 50K the week before.  Now, I thought this was really clever of me, because after all recovery is important and the 50K was a big goal race for me.  However, as it turns out, recovery is apparently a poor excuse to miss a race.  You see, out of the four gals I traveled down to the Ice Age with, I am the only one who apparently felt the need to recover from the race.  Two of the Peeps ran the full marathon yesterday, and two ran the Half.  All finished in their goal times.

While I am extremely happy for them (truly I am, don't get me wrong), I can't help but feel a wee bit inadequate.  Could I have run the event if I had set my mind to do it?  I don't know.  I do know that for the first four days after the Ice Age, I felt tired and sore.  I needed that time to recover.  Beyond that?  Who knows for certain.  What I do know is that I had ZERO DESIRE to run an event this weekend.  And, that is the part that makes me feel inadequate.  Am I not as hardcore as the others?  Do I not love running as much as they do?  Am I a less confident runner than they are?  These are all questions going through my head.

I don't have the answers to those questions.  I know I don't have anything to prove to anyone as far as running goes, least of all my friends who - bless their hearts - accept me for who I am.  After all, running is a very personal thing - unless you are in the top .00000001 percent that actually wins races - so I am a bit surprised by my reaction to the fact that I didn't run this.  Maybe, despite declarations to the contrary, there is a teeny, tiny part of me that is competitive after all.  I don't like the feeling of being the one who "sat out."  Food for serious thought, because if indeed there is a part of me that is even slightly competitive, if I am not just in it for the fun and the adventure, that could have a major impact on how I go about training for future events.  I'll have to mull that over for a while.

In the meantime, while I may not be that attached to the Green Bay races, I am a repeat attender of their expo.  I LOVE the Green Bay Marathon expo, and I do try to go to it every year.  I mean, what's not to like about it?  The expo is set up in the atrium of Lambeau Field.  The pasta dinner, if you are willing to shell out $17 for your family to go (runners get entry free) or you happen to get free tickets (ahem), is set up in the concourse of the stadium.  If you are a Packer fan, then you would be thrilled to know you can go out into the stands of the stadium to check out hallowed ground.  If you are not, then know the food is pretty decent and you can certainly eat your fill.

This year the expo seemed to have even more to do than last year, and strangely, the kids really enjoy attending.  Aside from going around collecting all the freebies, they enjoyed making signs and buttons for Hubby and taking a commemorative photo of them "running."

I usually cruise by the product tents, of which there are plenty, and this year I did score one item I was in the market for.

The 50K magnet looks nice next to the 26.2.
So, how has recovery gone?  Pretty well, actually.  It took a good four days for my legs to stop barking at me, and now finally I am left with my baseline aches and pains that I always seem to have.  I will probably carry those with me until I can really give my body some rest.

I spent last week doing nothing more than my walks, short bike rides, lawn mowing and yard work.  And, I am good with that.  I have actually had fun. Yesterday, seeing as I didn't run a marathon or half marathon, I decided to continue my now two-year tradition of running the trails of High Cliff State Park on Green Bay Marathon day, and for me it was just what I needed.  I took it nice and easy and managed to stop and smell the roses - well, trillium, or something.

Before heading out on my first post-50K run, looking at the trail I had to take a
picture - and a deep breath.  I didn't know what this would feel like.
Luckily, though, the woods were beautiful and peaceful.  The soft trail underfoot as good for my soul as my feet.
The flowers were definitely in bloom!

Can't ignore LG's favorite flower - dandelions.  Even they were happy on the trail.
Enjoyed taking in some of my favorite sights, like this one...
...and this one.
High Cliff has a nice little burial mound trail that I like to take visitors to.  I was surprised to find though that they have some restoration work going on.  I almost didn't recognize the trail turn...

...looks so different without the trees.
All in all, a nice trail run.  (Me, digging my new sunglasses - Mother's Day gift from Hubby.)
Afterwards, the kids and I hung out near the beach so the kids could burn off some energy doing some catch-and-release of lake flies.  I don't know why they felt the need to chase after the little buggers like cats on the prowl.  I was catching plenty of them just sitting on my butt doing nothing.  They're thick right now.

Happy Running!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Giveaway Winner and Friday Roundup

Wow, time does slip away sometimes, doesn't it?  I have been so busy doing nothing this week that I completely forgot about (well, almost anyway) the Roxy's Creations Giveaway!  First of all, thank you to those of you who entered to win, and thanks to to Roxy's Creations for giving away the necklace.  And, congratulations goes to ***Brooke Williamson*** on winning.  You are luck number 11 in my drawing.  Send an e-mail to with your address, and I will send the necklace right out to you!

As I said, this has been a busy week of doing nothing ... running-wise, that is.  The week has actually been kind of busy with other things.  Between all the classes my kids are enrolled in, as well as soccer now; helping plan for our running club's marathon training runs, which start next week; and figuring out the odds and ends to some races and vacations coming up, there hasn't been a lot of time to sit on my laurels.

Running-wise, my sole focus has been on recovering smartly from Saturday's 50K, and I guess that is going well.  I don't feel like my knees are going to fall off anymore and I don't feel like my legs are going to collapse under me if I so much as walk across the room now, so I take that all as a plus.  All this week, I have been alternating a bit of walking with a bit of bike riding, and I can honestly say the break from running has been nice.  This weekend, I hope to get back out there with a short, four-mile run at some point, but really I am in no hurry.

Looking ahead, I realize that I have another goal race coming up in about 15 weeks now, but I am not too worked up about it.  Yet.  I still have to come up with a training plan, and I will.  But for now, I am just enjoying the rest that comes after completing a big goal.  Generally speaking, for whatever reason, I feel kind of relaxed about my fall goal.  I feel optimistic and hopeful that it will go well.  Since the fall goal is "just" a marathon (mwahahahaha, never thought I would type that!), I don't feel intimidated by the running anymore, but realistically there are a lot of other elements I want to incorporate into training this time around (and I mean it this time!): speed, hills, strength, core, and more flexibility.  I need to give some serious consideration on how to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, especially with school soon coming to a close for the year.  Summers are always such huge training seasons, but they are really when I have the least amount of training freedom.  This year I am determined to make it all come together.

But, that will be this weekend sometime. Or next week.  For today at least I don't want to think about training plans.  Today I need to spend some time catching up on all the other parts of my life that have fallen by the wayside lately.  Happy Running!


Saturday: Ice Age Trail 50K event
Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest + mowed lawn
Tuesday: Rest + 20-minute bike ride
Wednesday: 60-minute walk (about four miles)
Thursday: Rest + 20-minute bike ride
Friday: Rest

Total Mileage: 35 miles

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ice Age 50K Race Recap

This past weekend I did something I never really thought I would do: I ran (and finished!) what is considered an ultramarathon and four days later I am still recovering.

The Ice Age 50K took place Saturday, May 11.  I started my race at 8:15 a.m. and finished it seven and a half hours later.  I wasn't the fastest out there, but I wasn't the slowest either (although I almost was).  How do I feel today, four days later?  Well, I don't have any post-goal blues (mostly because I have another goal coming up in September), but I am not super exuberant either.  "Content" is a pretty good description of how I feel.  In some ways that are hard to describe, I feel that I did what I needed to do.  For some reason that I still don't really understand, I felt compelled to try running this event, and I did!  It was hard, and very challenging, but wonderful at the same time.  Rather than intimidating me, like my first marathon did, I feel like I want to run it again!

The Race:

So, the Ice Age Trail races are put on by the Badgerland Striders Running Club, and it is considered a pretty tough event in ultra circles - at least here locally.  The 50-miler is part of the Montrail Ultra Cup series and the top two male and female finishers of the event receive automatic entries into this year's Western States 100, so it attracts some serious competition.  Of course, none of that impacted my race whatsoever, but it is an interesting tidbit to share.  Besides the 50-miler and the 50K, which I ran, the event also hosts a half marathon.  The event is a lot of fun.  The trail is beautiful, and the volunteers are great!  


I traveled down to the La Grange area on Friday with some friends - Peeps A., C., and A2.  I knew about a half dozen other people doing this event, as well, so getting into town on Friday we had decided to get together for dinner the night before.  Not much to report there except for the fact that the establishment we chose had some strange rules of conduct listed on their menu (no talking on cell phones, people sharing checks must sit shoulder to shoulder, etc.) The food was decent but the atmosphere lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, shall we say.

Settling into the lovely Hampton Inn, Peep C. and I set three alarms so we would wake up in plenty of time to get ready.  As it turns out though we were awake before any of them.  After getting up and showering, breakfast in the hotel was oatmeal with the chia seeds and unsweetened coconut I had brought from home, along with a sprinkling of brown sugar and some fruit.  OJ and coffee completed the pre-race meal.

Arriving at the start line about 45 minutes early, we had plenty of time to get to the packet pickup and get ready to go.  Weather-wise, it seemed  that we wouldn't have been able to ask for anything better.  It was chilly at the start with a high of only mid-50s forecast, so I went with my running skirt, short-sleeve shirt, arm warmers, calf sleeves, and my feather light rain shell.  Rain was predicted and indeed standing near the start line the skies did open up briefly and we were treated to a heavy sprinkle.  Quickly thereafter though the sun came out and I decided to shed the jacket and stuff it in my start/finish drop bag, which we would see again at miles 13 and 22.

Hamming it up with the gals...Before the race.
Standing at the start waiting for the 50K to begin, I can't say I really had too much going through my head.  I really didn't look at this race as one long distance, but rather had already broken it down into more digestible chunks.  It helped that the race can be looked at in three sections fairly logically - the 13-mile roundtrip out-and-back to Horserider's Camp, and then two 9-mile loops on the Nordic Trail.  I just determined that I would mentally approach one section at a time.  Breaking it down even further, back on Wednesday before the event, Peep C. and I had devised a plan that would allow us to tackle the run even more - walk breaks every 20 minutes.  Those were designed more with the idea to ensure we were eating adequately.  So, really I never had to think more than 20 minutes at a time.

Starting out at this race, I knew that C was planning on doing an 11-minute run pace, plus the 2-minute walk breaks every 20 minutes to eat.  Plus, she wanted to walk the hills.  This all jived very well with what I wanted to do, so I was determined to stay with her as long as possible.  Because C's watch died the morning before the event, I think she wanted to run with me for a while too, so that I could pace.  However, since I hate referring to my watch for pacing, within the first half mile I found myself handing my watch over to C.  That worked out well, because with one exception for the rest of the race, she kept our pace more or less honest, while I wore my trusty Galloway interval timer to call out the 20/2 intervals.

The weather for the most part was really just perfect.  If it had been a bit warmer or cooler, I don't think I would have been as happy with the day.  For the most part it was cloudy, but the sun made frequent appearances.  The rain held off except for a couple of drips here and there (and that could have been from the trees.)  The wind, while quite gusty, wasn't that noticeable in the woods.

Getting started, the first section of the Ice Age 50K is by far the hardest in a running sense.  It is an out-and-back 6.5 miles each way to the Horserider's Camp trailhead.  These 13 miles are the most technical part of the 50K and is the only part where we were following the Ice Age Trail itself. It includes very few flat sections, but what it does offer are miles of hilly rock and root strewn single-track as well as a climb to the top of Indian Signal Hill (or Bald Bluff), the highest point on the course.  (C was very excited about this section because of its significance as a Native American spiritual site.  Apparently, it attracted people from as far away as Illinois and other Wisconsin areas.  We ran on the same trails that they traversed hundreds of years ago.)

While this was an amazingly scenic part of the trail, the need to watch your footing was very high.  I am quite pleased that I didn't trip once during the entire race.  In fact, I never even caught my toe on anything.  I can't say the same for A2, who took a significant fall as we were heading into Horseriders. Seeing as the Horseriders aid station had a wash station set up (marked as such), I think that falls on that section of trail are not that uncommon.  While the fall looked pretty scary and she definitely came away with a cut on her forehead and a bruised shoulder, a minute or two at the wash station and some borrowed Tylenol seemed to set her to rights.

Aid Station at Horserider's Camp turnaround
Who knew! There are actually horses at the Horseriders' Camp.
After grabbing a banana and refilling water bottles at the Horserider's aid station, we made the turnaround and headed back on the technical trail we had just come in on.  The same rocks and roots, the same climbs (albeit from the other direction), and the same peaceful beauty.  Following C and A2, I felt I could zone out a bit and just enjoy the running.  (That was preferable to when I was in front and I got poked fun at for the way I looked like a football player going through tire drills.  I really didn't want to trip.)

Like clockwork, every 20 minutes C and I would walk and eat.  For me, two Cliff Blocks. For C, dates or dates stuffed with pumpkin seeds.  When we happened by aid stations, I helped myself to orange slices (they were delicious!) and occasionally bananas.  The aid stations also had chips, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, m&ms, cookies, etc., but really all I wanted was oranges.

Coming off of that first technical out and back, I felt really lighthearted.  The hardest part of the trail was behind me and I was looking forward to the fact that I only had two loops to go on the Nordic Trail.  I think at one point the thought slipped through my mind that that really equated to 18 miles, but I slapped it back down rather firmly and tried not to think about that part.

When we got back to the start/finish, it was time to assess the old drop bag and see what, if anything, I had brought that might be useful.  I grabbed the rest of my Cliff Blocks and my Gu Brew powder and got rid of the sunglasses I had carried on my head because I decided I didn't need them. Then I grabbed the first of the few things I was really glad I had packed - my cookies, the homemade walnut/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies I had baked a couple days before.  I had stashed a Tupperware of them in my drop bag and when I got to the start/finish area, they just sounded really good, so I ate one.  I also stuffed one in a plastic bag along with some dates into my jog bra for the first loop.

So, off we went on our first stint on the Nordic Loop - technically easier than the out-and-back footing-wise, as it was mostly pine-needle covered terrain and grass.  The Ice Age 50 website describes this part of the trail as such:
The Nordic trail is very wide and scenic. This 9.0 mile loop is very representative of the glacial topography and natural diversity that you can expect in the Kettle Moraine. As a cross country ski trail, it provides every type of terrain imaginable for skiing.
The trail or tread on the Nordic is very runnable. There will be sections in the pines and meadows that you will want to develop some speed. Easy on the feet, joints and with towering trees all around, you are preparing yourself for a great race. Many areas that were rocky have been wood chipped over to help skiers save their equipment.
What they fail to mention is that the hills on this section are brutal.  They are steep and they are frequent.  Frankly, I don't see how skiers ski on it, but that's probably just me.

About a third of the way around that first loop is when I started to feel my spirits flagging a bit.  I was tired, and I was only half way done!  The grade on the uphills was killing my ankles and the downhill pounding was causing my knees to start complaining.  I know that doubts are all a part of running ultras and that you really have to fight through them, and I was prepared for that.  I didn't realize though that they would start in so early.  Having C there to give me a little pep talk helped and it wasn't long before I started bouncing back a bit mentally.  Time to switch off the brain again and just not think about how much further I needed to go.  Really, at this point, I just wanted to finish that first loop and get to the drop bag again.  (Clearly, I needed more cookies!)  I figured once I started out on the second loop, the mental hurdles would be done.  I have no commitment issues during a race and if I know I am on the path towards home, then I know I will be good.

For the most part, I was very lucky to have someone to run with during this race (thanks, C!), but somewhere towards the end of that first loop I did find myself running alone for a stretch.  A2 and I had dawdled a little too long at one of the aid stations (darn those orange slices! they sure tasted good), and C decided that she had to keep moving.  As she walked off, she shouted over her shoulder, You'll catch up!  Sure, we responded.  But then we didn't.  Walking out of that aid station we found ourselves walking up a hill.  By the time we crested that and got around a couple of curves and another hill, C was gone.  (She had decided she wasn't waiting any longer.)  I can't say exactly how long we lost her for but at one point we passed a gentleman on the course who, apropos of nothing, asked us, Do you know C?  When we confirmed we did, he said, Well, she says for you to get your asses moving.  Ah, the love.  All's fair in love and racing, though, so it wasn't long after that that A2 left my butt in the dust as I stopped to walk and eat my Cliff Blocks.

I have to say the little bit I was alone, I didn't mind too much.  I reflected on the fact that I wouldn't have enjoyed doing the 20 or so miles up to that point by myself, or - rather - it would have been harder mentally, but at this point in the race if I had to press on solo then so be it.  I could only shake my head at the fact that I didn't have my watch anymore, but then I did have the interval timer and that was good enough.  After being on my own for a half hour or so, though, in the distance I caught sight of A2 and C.  And, then it wasn't long before I caught up with C.  As we ran into the start/finish area together, me looking longingly at the finish chute we were bypassing, we gave each other a high five on Part 2 completed.

This time at the old drop bag not only did I grab another cookie (those were really good!), but I also ditched my arm warmers and gloves finally.  The final two items I was thrilled that I had thought to pack were Biofreeze and pre-wrap tape.  My left knee was bothering me enough on the downhills that I thought I needed to do something.  For some reason, before leaving for the race weekend I had found an unopened package of pre-wrap and thrown it in my drop bag.  Getting to the drop bag, I grabbed it and wrapped my knee the way my PT had shown me well over a year ago.  I wasn't sure if it would work, but I had to try something.  That, and I slathered my IT band areas with Biofreeze (as well as my left achilles area).  All dressed up, I was good to go again.

Heading out on the second loop with C and A2, I was mentally and physically kind of tired of running (I had already done some of the toughest 22 miles I had ever done), but really quitting was never an option.  I wanted to finish this event.  So, I fell into line behind my friends and, eyes glued to the feet in front of me, I just focused on getting into a groove again.

I thought mentally it would be hard doing that same section of the Nordic loop trail again, but really it was refreshing because I knew that everything I saw - every patch of trail I was running on - was the last time I would be doing it.  And, really, it is super beautiful.  On such a nice weather day, it's hard to overlook that.

It wasn't long before A2 took off and we never saw her again until the end.  C and I, though, stuck it out together with our 11-minute-ish pace and walk breaks every 20 minutes (although by this point we were both tired of our respective food items).  The hills seemed to get harder and the need to walk started on them earlier.  The pre-wrap tape was like a miracle worker, though, and I am so glad I did that.  My knee thanked me with every hill we did.  It wasn't just the uphills that were getting to us, though, going down became harder as well, and towards the end we were both doing this sort of sidestep walk down the hills.

During those last five miles of the run, I kept wondering at the fact that I was running further than I ever had before, and as I approached the finish I did get a bit emotional.  But not too bad.  I think I was too tired for that.  Crossing the finish line to a crowd of people cheering for you was just simply an amazing experience.

Seconds after crossing the finish line.
At the finish...first time I have ever experienced the post-race chill, but I was freezing!
As for the running experience specifically I think it went well.  The 11-minute-ish pace suited me well enough, although I wonder if I couldn't have gone a bit faster.  I don't know, though.  I question if I hadn't held back at certain points, would I still have been running as consistently at the end?  Also, the walk break every 20 minutes was nice too.  I liked eating the Cliff Blocks (or fruit) so consistently.  I might - in doing this again - not do the 2 minute walk break though.  Especially during the first half, I am sure 1 minute would have sufficed.

Food-wise, like I said, I am happy with how I did.  I might try to integrate more of those cookies, because I think they worked pretty well.  Although, that one I carried in my jog bra?  Yeah, I had that there for 18 miles and never thought to eat it.  So maybe two cookies in the drop bag was enough.  My tummy only got unhappy with me once - in that section I was on my own around mile 20.  I ate a Ginger Chew candy though and it seemed to do the trick as I never had a real problem after that.

Hydration-wise, I carried my 20-ounce handheld the entire way.  I used Gu Brew, because that is what I am used to and I find it doesn't cause tummy issues.  I must have been hydrating well, because I had to use the facilities on both stops at the start/finish.

So, like I said, I am content with having finished.  I was obviously slow, but who cares?  I am not that fast anyway, and for a first time finish - on a very difficult course - I am happy with that.  In a way, did this help me with my goal of making marathons seem easier?  Who knows.  What I do know is that my next marathon is supposedly going to be harder than this 50K, so I might have to save that test for next year.   In the meantime, I am trying to recover.  My body is definitely hurting more than I think it ever has after a race, so I am trying to take it easy and recover smartly.  The friends I traveled down with are all following up this event with either the Green Bay Marathon or Half Marathon this weekend, and I am just in awe of them all.  For me?  I might try a little four-miler.  We'll see.  :)

Received this keychain for finishing!
Happy Running!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

If there is such a thing as a perfect Mother's Day weekend, I think I am experiencing it.  There's nothing like setting a ginormous race goal for the day before, so that - if you accomplish it - you feel like a million bucks going into a day designed to make you feel like a million bucks. That's where I am at.  It's not even three hours into Mother's Day, and my kids have already made me cinnamon rolls and given me some awesome self-made gifts.

They have showered me with love and attention, because they just really seem to love any excuse to celebrate something.  (And, lucky for me, that something today is me.)  Being a person who loves to celebrate things, too, I just love that since becoming a mom there is just one more excuse to eat cake.  (Hopefully that comes later.)

Right now, I am still basking in the memories of yesterday's 50K finish - my first ultra!  I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that I ran five more miles than I have ever run before - and on a course that is a lot harder than most courses I have run. And, it's a good thing that the memories from yesterday are happy ones because that almost makes up for the fact that today my body feels like a train wreck.  Everything's sore.  Sleep last night was fleeting, because of all the aches and pains - and, weirdly, waking up feeling really hungry at about 3 a.m.  Perhaps, in hindsight, it might have been better to take a couple of Advil before bed, rather than try to self-medicate with three generous-sized, celebratory glasses of wine with Hubby after the kids went to bed.  Ah well, live and learn.

Anyway, I'll have a more complete race recap coming up in the next couple of days after I have had more time to process it - and when I have more time to write.

Happy Running!

Roxy's Creations Giveaway Reminder! If you haven't signed up for the Roxy's Creations running necklace giveaway - what are you waiting for?  Don't miss the chance to enter to win a super cute running accessory.  To enter, just click here and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Friday, May 10, 2013

It Feels Like Ice Age

Tomorrow is the big day!  After much denial and now several weeks of over-the-top excitement, it is almost hard to believe that the wait for my ultra debut is almost over.  I debated whether to post anything here or not, as really I don't have too much more to say than WAHHAHAHA AGGHGHGHH!!!!  Did you get that?  So, rather than write the usual lively, witty, and eloquent prose you have no doubt gotten used to on this blog (sic), I thought I would just list a few random thoughts in no logical order:
  1. When I said in an earlier post The Ice Age Cometh, I didn't think I meant that literally, but that is how it feels.  The race seems to have been accompanied by a temperature-appropriate weather front, and it is downright chilly.  You would think since winter really just ended here about two weeks ago that this wouldn't be that big of a deal. However, you would be surprised how a couple of days over 70 degrees can really get you out of that frosty-aired frame of mind.  Walking around today in my fleece zip-up, literally shivering, I couldn't help but think how ironic this all is.
  2. Speaking of weather (well, we were, weren't we?), after spending the past nine days forecast watching and posting about it on my personal Facebook account (oh yes, I did), I am pleased to see that - complaining about cold aside (see bullet point 1) - that the high tomorrow will only be 59 degrees and the rain that kept bopping in and out of the forecast seems to be gone now.  It would be perfect running weather if it weren't for the high winds they are predicting.  Ah well, I hear trees offer decent protection from wind.  That is, unless they are getting blown down.  
  3. I am a little concerned about my left leg going into this race.  Ever since the 21-mile trail run it hasn't been too happy with me.  I think the IT band is irritated or something.  I had a massage on Wednesday, and she worked it a bit, and I have been rolling and icing.  I really don't know what to expect, but I am crossing fingers and hoping for the best.  I have two friends who recently have experienced IT band issues, so weirdly I am kind of hoping this really just boils down to sympathy pains or something.
  4. I am pleasantly surprised at how organized I am for this race.  Usually when I pack my stuff for a race, it looks like the contents of our house exploded.  Today, I sit here all packed up and the house is actually clean.  That's amazing.  Actually, it's a step above amazing; it's a flipping miracle.  Hubby should be happy that he won't have to come home to chaos today.
So, that's it.  No deep thoughts before this event, just a fervent wish to get the show on the road and have a good time with it - regardless of what happens.  I have no race goals beyond finishing before the cutoff.  Should be doable, right? Right?!?

So, as a last thought, just as a reminder, if you haven't signed up for the Roxy's Creations running necklace giveaway - what are you waiting for?  Don't miss the chance to enter to win a super cute running accessory.  To enter, just click here and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roxy's Creations Running Necklace Giveaway

So, only FOUR MORE DAYS until my big trail 50K, and I am pleasantly surprised that I seem to be functioning in a non-race capacity at all.

While I feel like my day-to-day activities and responsibilities have somehow been compromised, (as I have mentally pulled down the shutters on the world and lay curled up in a fetal position, repeating over and over to myself 50K, 50K, 50K), the fact is that I seem to be managing to go through the motions of getting things done.

So, the kids have been fed and seen to, errands have been run, the dog has not been neglected, laundry is getting done, and house and yard chores are still being tackled.  Even as my mind obsesses about the weather, how my legs are doing, what to wear, and what to put in my drop bags, my body at least seems to be functioning just fine in the real world.

I even managed to go to a running club board meeting yesterday and talk about actual agenda items, rather than shout out to everyone - Look at me! I am doing a 50K this weekend.  Let's talk about me!  And, honestly, probably the only thing that kept me from doing just that was the fact that one of the other board members is doing the same race, but the 50-mile version thereof.  So, really, if anyone wanted to obsess and shout out, it should have been him.

Anyway, with my thoughts so wrapped up in the race, I thought today I would actually take a break from blogging about it (well, anymore than I already have), and instead, I thought I would do a giveaway. Yay! Giveaway!

So, as a bit of backstory, about a month or so ago, I was introduced to a local business called Roxy's Creations through a friend of mine.  Carrie Wondrash is the jewelry creator and owner of Roxy's Creations (named for one of her great danes) and she has set up this business out of her home.  She makes fun and funky jewelry for all occasions, but what really appealed to me of course was her running-related jewelry.

She donated two pieces to be given away at one of our local running club's fun runs, and they were a big hit.

In fact, they were so well received by the runners, that when a running friend recently had a birthday, I contacted Carrie to see if she could custom make a piece for her.  Needless to say, she is happy to work with folks to do custom orders, and the prices are very reasonable.  Here is the piece she made for my friend, A2:

Now, on to the giveaway.  Carrie was nice enough to offer me a piece to give away here on my blog, and I am very excited to be able to do so.  The necklace we have would make a cute piece for running-related functions or just to wear around.  In case the picture isn't that clear, it has Eat, Sleep, Run stamped on it, along with a running girl.  Guys, not your thing to wear a necklace with a picture of a running girl?  Enter anyway! It would make a great gift for that special running gal in your life.

So, how to win?  That's pretty easy.  You simply have to follow my blog by clicking Join this Site to the right and telling me you did so in the comments below, or tell me you already follow.  Entries will be taken from the comments! That's all!

Now, if you want additional chances to win, you can do any or all of the following, leaving a comment telling me you did so for each one you do:
  1. Like Tales from an Average Runner on Facebook
  2. Follow @Average_Runner on Twitter
  3. Like Roxy's Creations on Facebook - and tell them I sent you!
  4. Go to Roxy's Creations on Etsy and tell me what you like about them
That's it!  I'll select one winner Tuesday, May 14, using  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Five More Days and a Butterfly Pond

I am finally at that point where I can say my goal race is this week, and I can't quite wrap my brain around it.  Only five days until I attempt something I have never done before, and I can't wait to see if I can pull it off gracefully or not.  I guess, I really don't question whether I can finish the 50K, but how long will it take me? How much will it hurt? How much will it appeal to me once done?  Those are the questions I am waiting to answer.

With only five days left until race day, I had two three-mile runs scheduled for this week.  Today was the first of those two, and I really questioned whether I should do it or not.  Since the 21-mile trail run a couple of weeks ago, I have noticed my left knee more than I really want to.  It's not that it out and out hurts, but it isn't as happy with me as it could be.  So, I wondered about the wisdom of today's run.  To be honest, I am so tired of the whole training thing that the idea of just not running at all this week held a certain appeal.  In the end, though, and after a bit of dawdling, I ended up heading out and I am glad I did.

I made the trek out to High Cliff State Park and ran the Butterfly Pond trail, a beautiful, handicapped-accessbile trail that I often overlook when I visit the state park.  If I am going to make the drive, I often opt for the much longer wooded trails and bridle trails - the ones that are made of actual dirt and have roots and rocks that try to reach out and grab me. The butterfly pond normally doesn't appeal with its paved pathways and benign character.  Today, however, it was just what I needed, and I was reminded again of how lovely it really is.  The trees are just starting to bud right now, but the birds have all settled in and are making themselves at home.  The birdsong that accompanied me on my run today was quite soothing, and as a bonus there were no tripping hazards.  I was sized up once or twice by one particular goose, however, but in the end he (or she?) decided to leave me alone.  Of course, it helped that the sun was shining and the weather was warm but not hot.  All in all, a perfect day for a run.

In a way, it made up for the attempted 10-miler I did on the trails on Saturday.  I say attempted because I only managed 8 miles and change, due to just feeling tired and blah.  It felt more like the end of a 50K than the start of anything - one of those days where I feel I should have quit while I was ahead and maybe stopped at about the 4-mile mark.

In fact, it was so bad that when I went out to meet some friends that evening for an impromptu birthday celebration (not mine), I really wanted to follow my friends' suit and drown my sorrows in a dirty snowball (I still don't know what that is, but the description of "tasty but toxic" that A. gave it gives me an idea.)  Instead, I contained myself and opted for tasty but non-toxic - a Bitter Woman IPA and a Scottish Ale.  Both are Wisconsin brews.  The first I chose for the name; the second because it was on tap and brewed locally.

So, a busy week ahead after a very busy weekend.  It's time to get back on a sleep schedule; eat some good and healthy food; hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; foam roll; ice; and generally just pamper myself a bit. If I do have problems with the race, I don't want it to be because I missed a step on one of these easily controllable factors.

Happy Running!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Ice Age Cometh - 8 Days and the Weather Watch is ON

Eight days - 8! - until my 50K, and the weather watch is on!  So far things are looking a bit shaky, although it's really hard to tell at this point.  The projected high/low is 61/51, but there is a 40 percent chance of showers.  I realize this has no bearing on what the weather will really be on race day, at least not at this point - naturally.  I have already seen a couple of very disparate weather forecasts just in the two days since I started watching the 10-day, but for some reason I find it kind of fun to keep tabs.  Regardless of what the weather brings, I am not one to get too stressed about it.  It will be what it will be, and - even if I don't get it regarding every other part of my life - I am smart enough to realize I cannot control the weather.

So, how am I feeling?  Excited and nervous, certainly, but mainly just ready to get the ball rolling.  I find myself wishing the race were tomorrow instead of next week, even though I know I need those extra days of rest.

This week I am at 50 percent of peak mileage, and that is feeling good.  I ran five miles, including some trail miles, with friends on Wednesday and that was fun.  We kept the pace slow and walked the couple of hills there were, so it was a nice simulation of race day.  Yesterday, after meeting a friend for coffee, I decided to cram in a couple of quick miles.  Ideally, I would have tried to run closer to three, but I found myself in no rush to get to them.  Instead, I enjoyed a couple of hours sipping a mocha and talking with my friend, something I don't get to do too often. I almost felt like a grownup!  Of course, the talk turned to running and training and races, so I wasn't too surprised when I left the coffee shop feeling like I should go run.  I ended up doing two miles a bit faster than normal, because I needed to run - literally - to the bus stop to pick up LG.  Couldn't be late for that!  I even talked LG into running back home with me, or rather ahead of me.  He had no trouble racing ahead and "beating" mama home.  In my defense, though, I had already run close to two miles, and I was weighed down with his backpack and coat.  It was fun nonetheless, as I love seeing the kids take any interest in physical activity.

So, just another week of waiting.  I have one more 8-10 miler this weekend and then a couple of short three-milers planned during the week.  The kids are busy with soccer next week, and we have a club-sponsored fun run as well as a board meeting to attend, so there won't be any time to get too bored sitting around and waiting.

One big challenge this week will really be, with all the nights out, trying to stay on track nutritionally - eating healthfully and consciously.  That part won't be easy, but I will try.  I am also determined to get some good nights' sleep.  I have already been waking up at 6 a.m. (what I need to do race morning) for two weeks.  Well, by that I mean, of course, that my alarm has been going off at 6.  I am usually out of bed by 6:30 though!  This last week, though, I plan on getting myself actually up at 6, and for that to work I need to get to bed earlier.  I am really going to do that this week.  Yes.  I will.

Relay Follow Up

Because I had to bail early from the Run Away to the Bay relay, I wasn't able to get my finisher's medal until a few days ago.  Pretty cool, huh?  It's a combo medal-bottle opener.  I love it and think it's really clever.  I have to say though I am not sure what to do with it - hang it in my closet with the other medals or throw it in my kitchen gadget drawer.  Decisions, decisions.  Aside from the medal, we also got a cool car sticker, and running shoe-shaped chocolates (which have sadly already been eaten).  The wine glass I am super thrilled with because it is actually an AWARD!!!! That's right, people! My first running award E-V-E-R.  Just one more reason to LOVE relay teams.  They truly can carry you to victory - in this case, third place female masters.  Happy Running!


Saturday: 15.11 miles on the Run Away to the Bay relay team
Sunday: Rest
Monday: 3-mile run
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 5-mile run
Thursday: 2-mile run
Friday: Rest

Total Mileage: 25 Miles