Pineland 50k 2014

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This year’s Memorial Weekend race marks the one year anniversary of my entry into the ultra world!
Remember how nervous I was for this last year? Well, don’t worry if you don’t, cause I do. I was a wreck. I barely slept the night before. I barely slept for the entire week prior. This year, I slept like the professional sleeper I really am. What a difference a year makes.

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Race conditions in 2013 were cold, wet and soupy. Served with a Hungry (Wo)Man side of mud. Weather reports for this year’s fun called for perfect and dry. And dry and glorious it was.
Race morning, me and hubby, the beautiful Joy and divine Sherry were off at 8am with little fuss. We were comfortable and not shivering or soggy. Hubby and Joy took off for a quicker race.

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Sherry (not crop) dusting this farm. I’m so outta here. Wait for me…

Honestly, my race was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Having great weather makes for easy racing. Sherry and I talked (I know, doesn’t sound like I’m racing if I’m talking) for 5 straight hours. We ate, we drank, we laughed. The hours flew by. The rolling, non technical terrain requires little attention to footing. So, I focused on keeping my head busy.

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One loop down. 16 miles to go.

What to say? This race was pretty straight forward. And, happily uneventful.
I figured out at the TARC Spring Classic using Tailwind, I don’t have to eat much. I ate a small amount of banana and watermelon at aid stations. Less food means less tummy trouble. Since my stomach wasn’t upset, I felt strong. And my Psoas wasn’t bothering me. Life was good.
Half way through the second loop, I felt good enough to try a little kick. I took off on my own, hoping I didn’t take off too early. I spent the last 8 or so miles around 10-11 minute miles. For me, that’s flying. I kept worrying I was going to poop out. Never happened. Go figure. My God, I even passed a dozen other racers. So, that’s what that feels like. I apologized to all of them.

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Wish my photos were this good.

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I guess I had plenty of Toyota Jump in me at the finish line. Having a crowd at the finish line helps with enthusiasm. Hubby was there to usher me across.
7:32:15.
That’s a freakin’ PR! By 16 minutes. AND I took 1:22:00 off last year’s race.
Hubby and Joy finished in 5:53:00. Nice work, fast people. A girl can dream…

I think I love ultrarunning as much as talking other runners. It was great to see Heather, Fish, Annette, Lise and company. And meeting new friends, like Bill from California was running another 50k the following weekend. And I think the one after that, too. Hey, Heather, please hurry up and heal so we can run together.
Of course, Sherry, you are my angel. Thank you for being my ultrarunning rock. You are a first rate lady and a great running partner. I wish very new ultrarunner could have an experienced Sherry to guide them.
Many thanks to the race director, Erik, and staff. The aid station volunteers are so pumped, their enthusiasm is motivating. They got me in and out quickly. Thank you to all for putting on a first rate festival.

Some things that worked:
Tailwind. Tailwind. Tailwind. Buy some, it’s the bomb, er, the best. I used a scoop per 20 oz bottle o’ water. I had 4 bottles waters mixed with the Mandarin Orange flavor and one of the caffeinated Raspberry the last hour.
A pineapple Spirulina smoothie before and after the race. The world needs more pineapple.
My Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab 5 Set Hydration vest. It’s so comfy, I forget I’m wearing it. It’s worth every penny. It does need a shorter name, I agree.
My Sacro Iliac belt. It looks silly. I need more crap/gear hanging off me like a hole in the head. But, my back doesn’t ache so badly when I use the darn thing. Thank you, Dr. K for taking such great care of me.

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Since Aggie couldn’t race with us, she took care of our comfy bed.

PS 38 days ’til the VT 100k…

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

TARC Spring Classic 2014

I’m sitting in the car, shivering and staring out at the still falling rain. I’m spent. J finished hours ago and has the car warm. I’m so grateful to be sitting. And dry. I’m tired. And smiling.
I finished.
I crossed the finish line.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to quit after four of five laps.

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The TARC Spring Classic wasn’t a tough race. It’s a fairly straight forward course, with little elevation change. I think the entire course has 1200′ of elevation change. The 50k option is five 10k loops. There’s the single aid station at the start finish area. The trails aren’t technical. They’re mostly double track with some wider sections. There was lots of mud, mostly from a day of runners and rain. Otherwise, a smooth runnable trail. It was so cushy. I felt spoiled.

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Last fall I read Steve Latour’s A Clydesdale’s Tale and Twelve Ultras in Twelve Months and have been excited about a TARC race since. TARC is Trail Animals Running Club out of the Boston, Mass area. Pineland is at the end of May…making the end of April date for the Spring Classic perfect. The Classic is a fat ass style race, meaning no swag, no finishers medal, no pampering. You bring a dish to share. Perfect. 22 dollars perfect.

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J and I travelled to Weston, MA the day before and meet up with some TARCers. Co RD Josh Katzman (nicest RD you’ll ever meet) was there to wrangle us volunteers. This guy just had surgery, has a knee the size of a grapefruit and he’s out marking the course. I get a cold and I’m a puddle in bed for days. Wow. Tough as nails.
I loved seeing the course prior to the race.

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The first two loops I felt amazing. I was running steadily. I chatted with a few folks. But I mostly ran alone. I was at mile 12 by 2:24.
The third loop started to be a little repetitive. Getting passed over and over and over again is frustrating. There are multiple races simultaneously. There’s a 10k, a half and full marathons. I knew I was cranky when the 100th person said ‘good job’ as they passed me and I wanted to tell them to get bent. So glad runners aren’t telepathic.
I changed my muddy Hoka Kailua to my Stinson for lap four, along with a dry jacket. The dry gear helped improve my mood. I ran most of the lap, but planned my DNF towards the end of it. I was getting close to six hours on course. My brain said good enough.
I’m learning to run through hip pain, especially after mile 25 when my legs crap out. I don’t think I’ve had enough time under my belt (a mere year) running long. It’s around that time that my hips flexors tighten up. I can walk. So that’s what I’ve done late in the day two of the three I’ve run.
When my psoas whined the tiniest bit, I felt relieved to have a legitimate excuse for dropping. The pain disappeared. Now what? A little help here God…and God gave me Jenn.
Jenn and I crossed paths at the end of the fourth. She’d fallen earlier in the race and had acute knee pain. We decided to start on the last lap and walk it together. Walk, I can do. So, we walked. We talked, and it kept my mind off my stinkin achin hips. And the constant rain and 40° degrees, now settling into my finger tips. We hopped over mud bogs. We counted down the miles.
And we finished.
7:49:00.
Hubby was 6:13:ish.
Most of everyone was gone at this point. I was NOT DFL. Pretty close. But not last. It would have been okay to finish last. Both race directors, Bob Crowley and Josh (on friggin crutches) were there til the last person crossed the finish line. Who does that? I guess that’s what makes a TARC race so fantastic. Thank you, both for being there. It meant a lot. Truly. Thank you to the volunteers who shivered in the rain and kept us fed.

What worked:
I’m almost exclusively using Tailwind Nutrition as my running fuel. If you have not had the pleasure of using it, please order some. These are the nicest people making an amazing product. It’s dextrose mixed with electrolytes for use in liquids. Just like their slogan says, it’s all you need all day. I drank a bottle’s worth each lap. I had found I’d been over eating on long runs, causing nausea and GI distress. With Tailwind, I’m getting 100 calories per serving, leaving me only 100 more calories to get from other sources. The only solid food I had was a couple of bananas and a few slices of watermelon.
I love my fancy schmancy Salomon hydration pack. I ran the entire winter in it, soft bottles up front, and loving it. I have to figure out how to put the Tailwind powder in it quickly without dumping it everywhere.

Wet iPods don’t play or take pictures very well. Sorry for the lack of course pics. I know now I can run without music.

Taking a hostage works. Thank you, Jenn, for sticking it out with me.

It’s been 10 days since the race. Me and Aggie have been exploring new trails and logging some serious miles. I had my 1st 50 mile week! Now, my body says rest cause my psoas is talking to me again. I haven’t run for two days, and will more than likely take two more days to RICE. Aggie tried to chew on a porcupine sandwich Sunday. She’s been relegated to leashed walks til the prickly lunch meats go deeper into the woods.
She says ‘harrumph’.

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A little less than three weeks til Pineland….and nine til the VT 100…

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Spring? Is That You?

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And just like that, winter is done.
Psych! Maybe 3-5 tonight? Ugh. I hope not. Ah, it is still April in Vermont. Any weather is quite possible until July.
Well, the flowers cry Spring. So, I’m going with it.

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Weather, smeather. Let’s talk running. And racing.
I added another ultra to the schedule. And my first race of the season is a mere ten days away!! Ready or not, the TARC Spring Classic 50k is fast approaching. I’ll toe (TLC I can hear you chuckling) the line the 26th of this month for their annual race.Wooooohoooooo!
I’d like to clarify that this may be a race. And I may be pushing myself. But, I fully expect to be DEAD FUCKING LAST for this one (earmuffs). I am slow. I don’t feel 100% ready for this race. I just got back to my long runs 6 weeks ago. Did I mention I’m slow?
But, darn it, I want to do it. I want to meet runners. I want to talk running. I want to eat salted potatoes. And most importantly, I want to run.
So, here goes.
Training has been pretty sweet. Just as my chiropractor predicted, I have been pain free for two weeks. So running has been pretty joyful. My head can wander while I’m on the trails without the constant whine of back and groin pain.
Friday was a 17 miler. At elevation, there is still tons of snow. But, at 650 feet we’re just a happy soggy mess. We hit a high of 78° F Monday. I think the temp Friday was a perfect 54°. It doesn’t get any better than that for running. I crack myself up avoiding puddling in the beginning, only to go stomping through them by the half way mark. Some of the trails were more swamp and river than dirt. >

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I’ll be grateful when the last of the frozen layers are gone. I punched through the trail multiple times, flailing around, looking like I was having a seizure. One leg would be submerged in a foot of water, the other sliding into a split. Meanwhile, my arms were looking for a dog tail to grab hold of. I’m sure Aggie was rolling her eyes at me.
I surprisingly wasn’t sore on Saturday. This is my 1st long run without soreness the next day. My hip flexors are usually pretty tight afterwards. I’m hoping as my overall fitness increases, this won’t be a problem. Any thoughts about how I can spot strengthen my hips flexors?
Hubby and I spent a leisurely last day at Okemo doing pipe runs on hero snow. Note to self: you will look like a big nerd your 1st time using a T bar. And have the bruises to prove it. *how did I avoid using a T bar for 20 years of riding??
Me and Aggie have been running 10 to 15 hours per week. I’m hoping to increase to twice that by mid June in preparation for the VT100K. We’ll see if me and the girl can achieve that goal.
Speaking of my sweet girl, Aggie won’t be coming to Massachusetts with us next week. BUT, I have a week off of work afterward, so maybe she and I can do some recce’ing then. It’s going to be epic! So much exploring to be done.
>

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Please say a prayer for me that I can swallow my pride on race day and be okay with DFL.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid-o
>

Tentatively Trotting

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Here I am, eight weeks after the worst of the pain has subsided. My chiro cleared me three weeks ago to try some running. I was so afraid to re injure my psoas, it took me five days to believe her and try a run. And it was the most glorious two miles. EVER.
It was slow, it was awkward. I loved it. AND it didn’t hurt. I think my last pain free run was in September. I love you, Doctor. You work miracles.
We’ve had a few more snow storms, in the meantime. I passed on snowboarding when storm Vulcan gave us gobs of snow. (My Tahoe friends are bristling). Our local trails are so deep with layers of ice and snow. It’s hard to believe Spring is a mere week away.
We have a few more nights scheduled of sub zero temps. Is this really March?
Oh well.
Aggie is so excited to be running again. Her dad stepped in a bit when I was layed up. But not as much as I would. She’s my running partner. I try never to leave laced up without her.

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We completed an incredible 10 miler yesterday. It was tough going. I could feel my lack of base. But, I was running. And I could barely take it for granted. I’m happily sore in my Glutes today.
The snowy trails are awesome for building lateral strength. Anytime I’m off trail, it feels like cheating, it’s so effortless. This winter, we invested in Micro Spikes. They’re on the heavy side, but, again, great for training. My feet feel light as air without them.
So, with this new confidence, I’m learning to love dirt roads. Really. This time of year, they feel like a gift. I’d been dreading that 75% of the VT100 is run on dirt roads. Now, not so much.
Speaking of the 100(k), I’m on track to follow the 16 week plan for training, courtesy of Google. It’s the New Zealand Ladies Ultrarunning Club training plan. I’ll put a link to it in the next post.

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I have a couple of 50k’s in the next 6 weeks. One is a late edition. More soon.
Think Spring!
Oh, one last thing, I think chiropractors are amazing. If you can, try one. Mine has done amazing work on me. I had no idea I could feel this good. She helped heal my psoas pain, aligned my hips and relieved my chronic neck pain. She has been really affordable and so worth every penny. I feel like she’s given me a new body to run with.
Thanks for running(!!!!!!) with me,
Astrid

VT50 Race Report

I did it! I ran my second ultra! Unbelievable! The Pokey Trail Runner runs again. And it was incredible.
Where to begin?
I spent the entire weekend on Ascutney where the race takes place. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. 72 and full sun! After hearing about some muddy conditions the past few years, I felt really blessed to be dry and tan.

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Saturday was packet pick up and a vendor extravaganza. I checked out some Salomon shoes and ate samples. It was an awesome day of socializing with my most favorite people…trail runners. Talking about trail running. So many people to learn from and swap stories with.
The pre race dinner was the standard fair of pasta and desserts. No GF pasta for Jon, so the poor guy had to have steak. Too bad.
Race morning, our alarm got us up for a 3am wake up. Ugh. We live close, but Jon’s race began at 6:35 and a pre race meeting at 5:30. So, we needed the requisite hour to gather last minute items. href=”https://vttrailgirl.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/20131006-201958.jpg”>20131006-201958.jpg

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We arrive about 5am, amidst hordes of mountain bikers and a few runners. The race is 2/3 mountain bikes, doing the full 50. The bikes begin a staggered takeoff before the 50 mile runners set out. By the time Jon's start took off, I was having the mother of all panic attacks. The race officials had yelled go! about 15 times by 6:30, and I was a nervous reck. I said goodbye to hubby who had teamed up with Tom from NY at the start line. Tom is an old friend of Jon's. It was such great fortune for him to have some racing company at his first full 50. I finally found my good friend Joy at the start line, hugged her quickly and waved my goodbyes to all. Now, an hour and a half of waiting. More ugh.
It's funny, I hadn't been this nervous for Pineland at the start. I fully contemplated getting back in the car and driving home. End of story. No drama here, my brain was simply in flight mode. This was my first meeting with my Obie Wan brain, trying some Jedi mind tricks on my softer self. 'You needn't race today. This isn't the race you're looking for'. My awesome crew of Tara and Mallory turned me back to the start line. No disappearing act for this kid.

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Mile 1-13

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The race begins at the resort, and heads down to the main entrance to a short stretch of paved road. We quickly hook a right onto the first of many gravel roads. It continued to be foggy and chilly.
I think at mile 2-3, the first climb begins. It's still gravel road at this point, but we climb about 1200' in two miles. More ugh. I expected the climb, so it felt doable. Non technical hills, psychologically, aren't terrible. We'll save that kind of pain for later.
I can't remember, but I think we entered trails after 4 or 5 miles. I was never bored. But, ready for an uphill power hike. The first 13 miles are fast. I felt great and was 32 minutes ahead of my projected time. Wow. Okay.
I was glad when folks wanted to chat, no music. No headphones allowed. Such a bummer. I did get some company here and there playing my iPod softly (sort of) stashed in my hydration vest. One woman ran with me for a bit so she could listen along. That happened to be my fastest mile of the race, while she encouraged me to keep up so she could hear more! I think I ran a10:30 minute mile then. Coon Club, Ralph's, and Margaritaville were all awesome and well stocked aid stations. M-ville is also on the VT100 course and it is a well oiled machine. I learned from racing Pineland, I can waste tons of time at aid stations. I kept to my resolution of 30 seconds or less at each of these stations. I needed those precious moments to walk when I got tired later on.
At some point, maybe 7ish or 8 miles, the 50 milers joined with the 50k for about a mile. We would rejoin before Fallon's.
12.9 to 22
Running with bikes was not that bad. It broke up the monotony of my thoughts. Which sometimes border on annoying. The thoughts, not. The bikes. I chatted with other runners and drifted in and out of the company of others.

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Tara met me at Fallon’s, also the start finish line for the VT100. I refilled the pack, eat a bunch of ginger. and tried to pee. I’d been eating way too much sodium, so I felt like a water balloon. And not a drop was leaving my body. Ugh.
I remember little of the actual trails, but I still felt good. My hips were starting to get tight, but nothing major. I got to share the trails with the likes of Aliza Lapierre, Amy Rucieski and some top male runners. Too cool.
I walked when I wanted to, and ran when I could.
22.9 to 31
Jon’s awesome pacer, Jeremy, was armed and ready at Linda’s, mile 22.9 for me. I checked in at about 5:20:00. I eat leisurely for a few minutes and shot the poop. I felt like I was in the home stretch. I really let my guard down here.
Jon was expected to come through in about an hour or so. This would be his 41 (!!!!) mile mark. Crazy. I guess the word was he was running well. Less ugh. I was really grateful to get word he was running well. It helped me relax and focus on my own run.
Thank God, cause here’s where the course gets tricky. There are constant trail switch backs and no fulfilling downhills. My Obie Wan brain was in full effect. ‘This isn’t your race. You can stop now. You earned a big dinner. (Since when did Old Ben care about a big dinner?). You needn’t go this way’. I got tired and wasn’t eating enough. I was queasy and thirsty. I forgot to refill my pack at Linda’s. The next aid station, at 28, felt light years away. I lost all my extra minutes in this section. I was getting crabby. The trail was super narrow, I stopped and jumped off trail frequently for mountain bikers and fast 50 milers.
By the time I arrived at Johnson’s, I was ready to quit or hurl or both.
I drank a bunch of ginger ale, burped, and set off. I know it seems a bit over the top to want to quit so close to the end. But, I felt awful and I didn’t really care. I definitely lost my game face a few miles back.
I walked for a few minutes. Okay. I finally resolved to simply finish. I forgot about trying to finish in under eight hours. Just finish this. Even if I walked the last miles, I would still finish this.The last three miles are all trail. It’s about 1000′ climb on STAB trails. I gave the finger to the ‘3 miles to go’ sign, when I thought I had 2.5 to go.
Then I saw a sign that read

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Okay. Moments later, I saw the first sign of the resort. I kicked it into high gear. I dug deep, asked for help and ran for my life (picture Kermit the Frog introducing a musical guest on The Muppets). I had nine minutes left to break eight hours. Go get it. Run, run, run. I could see the finish line for a full mile. The switch backs had me yelling out loud ‘really? Really?’. Relentless. COME ON! Til…. The beautiful finisher’s shoot…And the pain is forgotten.
Woooohoooooooooooooo!
7:59:13.

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Talk about suspense. And some great tears of joy.
Done.

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The 50 milers:
Hubby finished in 11:12:00. The love of my life is an amazing ultra runner.
My hat’s off to Tom R.’s 10:46:00 finish, especially considering he was only planning on running 10 or 20 miles due to a bum knee.
And to Joy, who finished under 11 hours. She is an ultra master. And gorgeous.
And to Fish Stick’s first 50. Uh hum, I’d love a race report, sir. And bad ass Heather for a FAST relay leg (20 miles) and simultaneous pacing gig. You go, girl!
And a huge thank you to my crew, Tara and Mallory, who took tender loving care of me. I hadn’t originally planned on having a crew. I would’ve really missed out on great company and smiling faces to meet me and lift my spirits. Thank you, loveys. Even if I think I think I don’t need it, if someone offers to crew for me, I will immediately accept.

Final thoughts:
The VT50 is an incredible event. It is well marked and varied. I thought I would hate all the miles of gravel roads. It was actually a welcome mix to the single and double track. And the foliage is peak, making this a pretty good choice for a destination race. I’ll be there again next year. Thank you to all the great volunteers (Lorinda and Susan, especially!!) and enthusiastic officials.
There are massive pots of coffee at the start area. Enough said.
The combination of mountain bikes and runners is fairly seamless. Communication between racers is key, and never a problem.
I only derailed ONE biker. Your OTHER right, Astrid.
I carried a printout of the aid stations and my anticipated splits. This came in handy so I could look forward to the themed aid stations.
Gu or gels are great, but not for me. My stomach can’t handle the concentrated sugar on long runs. Boiled potatoes and bananas are perfect. So is ginger candy for settling my stomach. Too much carbonation is BAD. Very bad. More water is better.
I will learn to eat more. I’m semi-allergic to nuts (don’t ask) so Clif Bars and the like are out.
My Hoka Mafates were great. I was staring to be disappointed by their lunky-ness. But they preformed so well, I’m reconsidering. No sore quads. I blistered, but that was my fault, because I didn’t tape my big toes.
I continue to love my Nathan Hydration vest.
Endurolytes are the best.
Injinjis continue to be the best socks. Ever.
I have to work on my Obie Wan brain. I have a terrible game face. If I want to race longer distances, I better get my head together. My head, not my fitness, will probably be what causes me to DNF. Cause you know I’m thinking about a fifty miler next year…
I missed Aggie terribly. Running without her sucks.

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What’s next? Any ideas? I’d do an ultra over the winter…
I love this life!

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Checking In

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On an impulsive move, I’m visiting the blogosphere unplanned.
I’m not even sure what my game plan here is, but here I am. I’ve been loading up on B complex twice daily. I had an evening run. Its Monday. I ran a 7:44 minute mile. Oh, and there’s 19 days til the VT50.
It’s probably the latter. But all good choices for writing about. Hmmmm. Still going for the latter.

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I’ll be a 50K runner at The VT50. Hubby will be braving the full fifty miler. I will be following my favorite color signs. I don’t know what hubby will be following. But he will be fast. Like 9 hours fast for his race. So proud of my speedy senor. Can you tell, this is my excitement talking (writing)? I have ultra fever…
Of course, I’m in it for the fun. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t secretly want to run fast (for me). I’d love to break eight hours. Eight-and-a-half will probably be more like it. I’m trying to be okay with that. I know, I know, I only started running a year and a half ago. I’m impatient. I want to be a rock star. Now. I hear the course is tough. No previewing, though, since a lot of it is on private land.
So, maybe finishing under the cutoff is enough. I’ve had most of the summer to think about this race. And Pineland seems ages ago. If I didn’t have any other commitments and pills of money, I’d probably have run an ultra a month by now.
I’ve done a few long runs the last few weeks. I ran a slow and sweaty 24 and a 20 and a failed 24 that resulted in around 15. Some days I do everything as planned and my body says no thank you. This Friday is my last long run before Vermont. Then, the dreaded taper……….
I’m hyper because I had my first mini cold over the weekend. It never fully matured. Thank God. I slept a full 13 hours Saturday night as insurance. Saturday was the second to last WNHTRS race. It was crazy fun course with a brutal 5000′ of elevation change and a downhill finish. Crossing that finish line was my rock star moment. Post race I napped, then napped again. I woke up Sunday feeling fine. Go figure. Now I have loads of energy. Truly unheard of for a Monday.
After some debate, I bought a GPS watch last week. The Garmin 110. I love it. It’s simple, straight forward, easy to use and I can see my elevation profile online when I login to GarminConnect. So, on tonight’s run, the last mile I ran a 7:44. Maybe the Garmin is broken? Crazy.

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This is me and Aggie after a looong run. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Well, all is well in this grateful girl’s world.
Anyone out there running in the VT50? Any pointers?

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid