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
>

Stupid Psoas

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I’m not running right now. I’m five months away from the big day. I’m supposed to be training for the Vermont 100K.
This was going to be an ‘inspirational’ post about my new eating habits. About all the deep powder days we’ve had.
But I’m friggin injured. The crappy truth is my brain is telling me it’s forever.
My psoas is messed up. It’s either a torn muscle or a bursitis.
And I’m mad. It hurts all the time now. I walk with a limp. My quad won’t lift my thigh. My right butt cheek is on fire.
I love running. I love the routine. I love the fight. I love being tired from a long run. You get the picture. And I’m not running. I’m not even able to walk the trails.
I’m on a strict diet of rest, ice and anti inflammatories. There’s nothing else to do. I’m going a little nuts. I’m playing a lot of Solitaire and petting Aggie.
So I pray. I pray for healing and patience.

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Those are a lot of ‘I’ statements. Sorry.
In the grand scheme of things, I know in my heart, I’m incredibly blessed. This is only temporary. There are lots of folks out there with a hundred times worse health issues. I’m sorry if this is an inconsiderate post. I know you guys will set me straight and get me off my pity pot.

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Thanks for letting me vent,
Astrid

Like A James Brown Song

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I’m running! My foot is cooperating! Woohoo! I missed my gorgeous trails. Me and Aggie stomped, danced and frolicked. I sang like a crazy person and shook my booty to my favorite beats. It was blissful. Even the breathless hills.
It has been raining pretty much non-stop here in New England. So, everything on trail is a happy, muddy mess. Which is how I pulled the tendon in my foot at Pineland. I’ll be careful.
Amazing how injury presses the ‘reset’ button on joy and recklessness, too.
Three whole days. 14 miles. Tonight, I am spent. Aggie, too.

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And all is well again. For now.

Anybody take part in #runchat or #ultrachat on Twitter Sunday nights?

Happy week and happy running,
Astrid

P.S. Finally heard back re volunteering at the Vermont 100 next month. It’s on! Pretty psyched to be a part of it!

Not Much. You?

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As an email, this photo is probably larger than life. sorry.
This is me about 20ish miles in. Merrell provided FREE photos for the race. Thank you, Merrell. I will try to buy your stuff. Pretty awesome. AND it was as much fun as I look like I’m having. Truly.

I haven’t run once since Pineland. 10 days without running. Can I tell you how much I want to run? All last week I basked in the post-race glow of running my first ultra. Since then, I’ve continued with the usual routine of day-to-day. I’ve also gone for countless walks, lifted weights and paced around the house. But, it’s not running. In the meantime, I’m planning my next ultra. You know, the bug has truly set in.
So, in an effort to get healthy, I have to miss the first race of the Western NH Trail Running Series this Saturday. Argh. But, for those of you in the area, please go and support them. You can hang out with me in the photographer’s concession box, eating all the bagels and Nutella.
I went for x-rays last week. No breaks or fractures. The swelling is mostly gone. It’s mostly likely a tendon strain on the top of my foot. But, that’s what Dr. google says. I won’t know for sure until the end of June when I see an orthopedist. So, I’m going by feel. I’ll try running when I stop gimping. Whenever that is.
Having an injury reminds me I need to cross train. Whatever. I’ll let you know how that goes. Anybody wanna swim some boring laps with me? While you’re at it, can you run my dog? She’s going bonkers. Just like her mom.

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Thanks for (not) running with me,
Astrid

Some Inspiration for Another Long Run

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My long run last week was four hours
on-the-nose. This week’s long run may be about the same, although I’m behind schedule for training. Part of me wants to say screw it. Don’t run. The other part of me wants to run five hours to get back on track. So, I’m hoping posting some past run photos will get me pumped to go long. Then I’ll go the full five.
Running longer is not the problem. its me afterward. i love being out as long as my new running legs will carry me thus far. It’s amazing to be out on the trails. And I’m so blessed that running is not a chore for me. I truly love it. But I’m wrecked after a long run. It takes about a day to stop walking like I have arthritis. And to give up hogging the entire couch in corpse pose. Maybe I wanna get something done. Maybe. Maybe I feel a little selfish.
I’m a bit crabby cause the weather has been amazing for five days- 45 and sunny. Now it’s back to winter today, with snow showers and a low of 8 tonight. Ugh. I’m really ready for spring conditions. The trails were bullet proof this morning. Who knows, maybe the sun will break through tomorrow, making for a gorgeous run. I’ll try to stay positive.
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Here are a couple of photos from riding last week. One shot is back through the trees as I sat on my duff admiring the fluffy powder conditions. I didn’t include a shot of me eating sh_t on a kicker I had no business being on sans health insurance. Good times.
Aggie will most likely talk me into a looooong run. Woof.
I’ll let you know how it goes,
Astrid