Things I’m Using

Vttrailgirl (left) VTrunnermom (right). The ladies are killin’ it.



With my second Umstead 100 attempt three weeks out, I’m thinking gear, training & kit additions. 

Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl has been my go-to training manual. VTrunnermom recommended her customizable plans. While I haven’t reached Moehl’s targeted mileage, I’ve been sticking to the structure of her weekly workouts. Core work days, rest, speed & distance days. Most likely, I’m in a place where I was ready for her specific guidance. I love her writing style & I needed her gentleness. Her love of the sport seems genuine.

As in years’ past, my training weeks continue to be erratic. I strive for consistent high mileage. In reality, I have a big week (think 60+ miles). Followed by a 20-40 mile week. Consistency is a goal this year. So, if I don’t finish Umstead again, I know I only have me to blame. If I want results, I gotta put in the time. No excuses. How bad do I want it? I hear this sentiment echoed in everything I read & listen to on running long. If I want to achieve my goal of finishing a 100, I have to piggyback weeks of higher mileage. 

Hip & quad tightness, when not managed, are my bane. Massage & stretching work great, but aren’t enough. Leg muscle imbalance scared me enough to branch out. Call it what you it want, I’ve incorporated other movement into my routine. Snowshoeing, weight training, walking. CORE WORK. Lots of squats. Lots of planks. I might actually be getting abs. Haha. No. But, I feel stronger.

As-of-late, working with a trainer has been a bright spot. I have the pleasure of meeting with Bill for a few hours once a week. This is a really NEW addition, like a month old. We’ll see if I can benefit from this so soon. Hubby & I sometimes go together. My weak adductors are already thanking him. I continue to see my chiropractor every 4-6 weeks. During my taper, I wanna squeeze in an acupuncture appointment.

After a torrid affair with Hoka, I’m dating Altra. Specifically, the Olympus 2.0 & Lone Peak. I am happily ’embracing the space’. I could write an entire post about this. Maybe I will… I’ll say now, I experienced a steep learning curve switching to the zero-drop platform. Obviously, it’s been worth it, if not frustrating, while training for a 100 miler, but worth it.

Most likely, I’ll do the 1st lap at Umstead in the Lone Peak. Then, switch out the two pairs of Olympus.

Injinji. Always. This is a no-brainier. Every time I try running in regular socks, I regret it. So, I have four favorite pairs of Injinji I rotate. I love the OTC soccer sock for support & warmth. It’ll probably be too hot April 1st in North Carolina for this model, so, maybe a few no shows on race day.

Here’s the paragraph you can skip over if you don’t like TMI. ‘Finally switched to synthetic boxer briefs. Bigggggg sigh of relief. Underwear were a big pain in the tookis. I tried everything under-the-sun. No underwear, fancy running runderwear, compression shorts, you name it. Nothing worked. Everything rode up. On a whim, boom. Well, you get the picture. The little things do matter. Maybe this will help someone out there trying to figure out the same pinch puzzle 😉 
Moving on. For recovery, Moehl, uses First Endurance UltraGen. Maybe it’s a placebo, but I really feel better quicker after a hard effort than before. Cappuccino flavor tastes like a chocolate shake. What could be better than that? I love the flavor & look forward to it at the end of a long run. Soreness between B2B long runs has been minimal.

My long runs are fueled by Tailwind Nutrition. For. Four. Years. Period. It’s my perfect running electrolyte & calorie supplement. So far, I can drink it all day without GI distress. And Lärabars. Maybe a piece of Jerky or fruit leather. And that’s that. For Umstead, I’ll stick to these items. Maybe orange slices, some pizza & ramen. Otherwise, we all know the adage, Nothing new on race day.

After 4 years, my trusty Salomon SLab 5set vest had to be retired. Stretched & molded, I replaced it with the larger 12 set. I most likely won’t need the new pack, unless rain is forecasted. Then, I’ll want to have a rain poncho stashed in it. There were a few hours of rain last year. My $2 poncho saved me. 

Weight wise, I’m down to 171. That’s a total weight loss of 56lbs! Crazy shit. I’m 6 stinking pounds away from my goal. I’m down 9 lbs from last year’s Umstead. (I ate my way through my 1st year of sobriety, gaining around 65 lbs. Sheesh. It’s taken me some time to shed that weight).

Thank you to some long term readers, like Mind Margins, Spotted Images & VTrunnermom for sticking with me.
My staple life stuff: Prayer & working my recovery program, specifically, cleaning up my side of the street. God willing, I’m coming up on nine years of sobriety!!! Without sobriety, I wouldn’t be running, let alone breathing. Life is a gift. And I’m living in it. Aggie dog agrees.

Thanks for running with me,

Astrid

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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

Mornin’ Running

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Morning!
I’m mostly a morning runner. Here are some of my favorite shots from my beautiful Vermont mornings. And a couple from a recent trip to Spain.
Enjoy!

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Running continues to be a real joy for me. How’s your running going?

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Feet Relief

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Warning: Geeky Shoe Review Ahead. Hoka haters should exit left now.

I’ll be the first to admit, I love gear. Paddling, snowboarding, climbing, running. I love all the stuff that comes with the sport. Especially running gear (duh).
More pointedly, I’m nearly obsessed with Hoka One One shoes. Every runner I see with a pair is a new friend I want to meet. I lovely pour over pictures online. I talk to my shoes.
I fell in love when I slipped on my first pair, the Stinson Evo. It was truly flying, as promised. For my second pair, I moved to the Mafate 3, and fell mostly in love. Now, the Kailua Trail have graced my feets.
You know the Michelin Tire ad where the Michelin man falls in love each time a new tire comes down the assembly line? And then seems to fall apart as that tire proceeds on down the line. That’s me. I fall in love easily, then mourn that love’s passing, only to be starry eyed as I see my new prospect approaching. I started running, this time around, in a tired pair of New Balance. When my toes started to show through, I did some poking around (more puns) online. I felt a bit sad to discard my 1st love. Until…I saw THE shoe. I settled on Hoka sheerly on looks alone. Colorful and odd looking. I was in love/crush.
Crush led to a happy love story with Hoka. I put over 500 miles on my first pair, the Stinson Trail Evo. It was a beautiful thing. Since I’m a pokey runner, time on my feet is a better measure of shoe wear. 300 is probably a more appropriate measure. Maybe that’s the average life of Hokas. Not sure. Anyway, I knew around 250 miles on my Mafate that I should find another pair. I thought I’d move back into the Stinson. My Mafate were a little clunky on technical trails. I was experiencing some ankle pain that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t bad, but I thought I should mix it up. While getting ready to order another pair of Stinson (I’d shop locally, but the closest place to buy a pair is two hours away), I stalled. Maybe lighter is the way to go. And less expense, to boot.
I’ve only run a few times in the Kailua. Like I said earlier, I fall in love easily. They’re awesome. The Kailua is still everything that Hoka is known for, but lighter and peppier.
My favorite part of Hoka is the downhill running experience. The Kailua still offers fun on steep downhills, despite being less padded. I do feel a bit more aggressive in them, versus the Mafate. While running, I can feel the weight difference between the two. Only a paltry 3 ounces, but I guess that makes a big difference in motion. And they sit a full inch closer to the ground, though I don’t feel less cushioned. While running in the Mafate, I often wished they were lighter and smaller. I tripped a bit on technical trails, but ran happily on smoother terrain. I got my wish with the Kailua, without compromising comfort.
I know some of these points may already be obvious to those familiar with Hoka One One. For those not familiar with them, the Kailua might be just the shoe to get into the maximal movement!
So far, the Kailua feels pretty grippy on rocky trail. There’s a variety of terrain here, right out my front door, so I’ll have to keep you updated on the more mountainous stuff. After this post, I’m headed out onto my first run on snowy trails of the season…hopefully it will eat up the white stuff as well.
The shoe looks narrow, but isn’t. I have really wide feet, so I ordered a half size up, with success. If you’ve never worn a pair, they stretch quickly, so I’d take this into consideration when trying them on.
My only gripe with the Kailua is minor. It’s the traditional laces. I’ve been spoiled by Hoka’s speed laces. So I’m doing a little surgery and swapping out the Stinson laces for the slippery and annoying new laces. Hopefully, the Kailua comes out in some more obnoxious colors, too. I’m a big fan of brightly colored kicks.

Here’s the stats for the Kailua Trail:
Heel to toe drop: 5mm
Weight: 9.3 ounces
Rocker: Some
Tread: Multi-directional lugs
Price Tag: $130

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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