Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

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This is a happiness/unhappiness profile.

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I want this.

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So I will do this.

I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Let’s run,
Astrid

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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

I Don’t Know, Sweeping?

20130820-195540.jpg This is a long overdue post!
It’s been two weeks since my inaugural sweeping gig at the Moosalamoo Ultra. I wasn’t sure if I should throw a last minute 36 miler into the mix, so I emailed the fabulous RD John Eyes. John suggested volunteering, with the bonus of running 22 miles. Done and done.
In its second year, the Moosalamoo is run through Green Mountain National Forest in Goshen, VT. There are 13 and 36 mile options. The start/finish is at Blueberry Hill Inn. The view and grounds offer enough of a view to warrant a visit. Beautiful.
Hubby and I made a weekend of the race. We camped at Blueberry Hill Friday with about ten other groups. If anyone reading has not yet taken part in this aspect of racing, I highly recommend you do. We met some great folks from around New England and Canada. Most were Ultra ‘experienced’. (Big ups to the Long Trailers on Meetup!). I love spending time with folks who want nothing more than to trade running stories. Guaranteed heaven for a running nerd like me. We talked into the evening, past this kid’s bedtime. So worth it.

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With six hours of sleep, and coffee made (I brought about five different kinds of camping coffee, just in case), I was ready for a little sweeping. Since I wasn’t racing, I took it easy and enjoyed my surroundings.

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Sweeping, I learned, is staying at the back of the pack, making sure no one is left out on the course injured or lost. Hubby and I also pulled course markings for about 15ish miles.
Staying at the back was not a problem for me. I felt pretty slow, comparatively. The first loop was up Moosalamoo Mountain. Running was not an option for this girl. I guess I ‘power hiked’. Hahahahahaha. It took me 2:12 to ‘run’ seven miles. My morale was pretty low for a bit on the uphill. I ended up getting 20 minutes behind the last runners. Because someone got lost at last year’s race, John beefed up markings. Hubby and I had every pocket and inch covered with the flagging we tore down. Needless to say, the course was incredibly well marked and our arms were getting sore from pulling on the run. Oh yeah, rockin the full body workout.

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This picture is of a massive field of Stinging Nettle. It’s everywhere on the run. I rather think John is proud of its presence.
After the mountain section, I made better time and caught up with the pack. I was able to settle in and enjoy myself. I hung out at three different aid stations and stuffed my face with Ruffles. Guiltlessly. Yet another perk of running long. Reckless chip eating. So good. Especially now that my stomach can handle semi greasy food while running.

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This is me making use of an abundance of flagging tape.

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We enjoyed an awesome barbecue post race. The weather was perfect. 72 and low humidity at the finish line. John and his family prepared ALL the post race eats, including homemade baked beans and multiple salads. I’m pretty sure both races were capped at a combined 150, making for second and third helpings. See where my priorities lay.
I continue to learn how Astrid runs. Specifically, how to move through difficult patches. Beyond prayer, I found a ‘mantra’ that works for me on long runs. ‘I choose this’ works really well. Especially when I hurt and want to quit. Reminding myself that I have a choice keeps me moving forward. I used it a bit on the mountain section to stay positive.
A HUGE thank you to RD John for the hospitality and for hosting a flawless event. Here’s a link to the race website. Moosalamoo Ultra
This year’s races were both sold out, so get your’s early for 2014 on ultrasignup. Its a weekend worth having, Vermont style.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid
P.S. Five weeks til the VT50! Woohoo!

Getting Inspired

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Last week’s running, post VT100 volunteering, were some of the best runs I’ve had. I felt strong, relaxed and capable. I’m not sure what changed, but I feel more determined than ever. Watching so many strong athletes do what needing doing, convinced me to stop navel gazing. It’s time to clear your head, pokey trail runner. Just go. No excuses. Run this gift.
Friday was the return of ‘Long Run Friday’. I ran a solid 24 miles. No bonking, no boo-hooing, no complaining. Best of all, no injury. Nothing hurt, beyond the usual next day soreness. Thank you, God, for clearing the path. New shoes helped, too. Thank you, Hoka, for making awesome shoes. (My Stinson had 550 miles, it was time for their retirement and replacement with the Mafate 3).
This weekend, hubby and I are volunteering at the Moosalamoo ultra in Goshen, VT. We’re sweeping the course, with the hopes of getting in 20-22 miles. Pretty psyched for new trails. Yay, more miles and more runner peeps. My favorite kinda weekend. I promise a better photo session than my Vermont 100 post.

And now, for something completely different….
I’ve been struggling with my writing here. Instead of slogging through self reflection, I’m going to share something else. Here’s a sampling of my favorite thoughts on running. Some you may have already seen. Others, well, I hope you enjoy them, too.

Run if you can, walk if you must, crawl if you have to, but never stop. ~Dean Karnazes

There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be. ~George Sheehan

Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the
world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

Describing his Naked Wrist philosophy, Ben Horne wrote:
But speed is not the only point. Racing is about pushing yourself — and to do so psychologically, having a watch may even be a distraction. Going fast is nice. But a time is not the goal, rather the best experience is what we strive for.
I kept that thought in my head every time I looked at where my watch was supposed to be and reminded myself that time wasn’t the goal. The enjoyment of the experience, and all that goes with that…the pain of the climbs, the triumph of the summit and the freedom of the descent is what is most important.

We need these wild places…. Even if we do nothing more than drive to the edge and look in…. For they are the Geography of Hope. ~Wallace Stegner

Learn to remain comfortable and confident when the mountains are throwing challenge after challenge your way, and while everyone else is slowing down out of fear and inexperience you’ll just keep plugging along comfortable, confident, and passing runners you have no business keeping up with. ~ irunfar.com

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~ John Bingham

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~Isaiah 40:30-31

Sometimes it’s better to experience than to understand. ~ Running and Rambling blog.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~Helen Keller

A special series of events has been planned for me today. I shall not miss it. ~ Each Day A New Beginning

Own your convictions and have the courage to sign your name to them. ~ Running Is Mental blog

I also realized that it made no difference how I looked when I started, just that I started. …..
I guess, because it helps to see that you can start from just about anywhere. That it’s not too late. That it is worth it! ~Moore on Running blog

Well, most days, the answer to that question is oblique at best and downright pathetic at worst, but if I have succeeded in getting in a run that day, the mundane, superficial, sometimes-hard-to-define stuff is a little easier to justify and that is why the long solo run is a place of such solace. When I am running, alone, on the trail, with only the sound of my breathing and my foot plants in my head I have no choice but to unitask. Nobody can call me, interrupt me, or usurp my moment. Is this selfish? Perhaps. Is this my way of detaching myself from the Real World? Certainly. Is this some sort of an “escape” for someone who can’t handle the demands of 21st Century society? I’ll let others be the judge of that.
What I do know is that my run allows me to find some sense of balance. It allows me to address the good and the bad on my terms and in my time. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and breathe and it allows me to do one thing and one thing only. In an age when doing one thing at a time is generally frowned upon, I like to think it gives me joy. And, at the end of that run, that’s all I need. ~Bryon Powell irunfar.com

my feet flew like eagles
my heart knew no boundaries
my spirit dreamed that the trail would never end ~ UltrarunnerGirl blog

If you want to take the island, burn the boats….Whatever your boat is, burn it. Instead of protecting yourself so that failing won’t hurt, use that fear of failing as one more reason not to fail.
And if you fail — and make no mistake, you might — I promise it’ll be good for you. While everyone was sitting on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars, you were out there trying. Making progress towards something. Doing instead of watching.
If it doesn’t work out, is that really something to be ashamed of? ~No Meat Athlete blog

Today’s run was indicative and emblematic of what I love about running. No matter who you are, no matter how fast or slow you are, no matter how much you care and no matter who is looking, running, the sheer act of getting out there, makes us better. Running makes us better at who we are and running makes us better at who we want to be. In fact, for those of us who truly embrace it, running is who we are. And that, for me, is enough to get me out there again tomorrow. ~Andy Wilkins-Jones on irunfar.com

I’m not stranger to suffering in life, but this is the first time I have been in completely control of how much I suffer. I can pull the plug at any time, or I can challenge myself physically and push my body to new levels. That is so rare, and I should be grateful for it. I choose my poison. I can drink it gladly. ~Vanessa Runs

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You guys continue to inspire me, too. Please keep telling me all about it.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Vermont 100 Weekend In Pictures

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It was an incredible weekend of volunteering, new friends, time with the hubby and very little sleep. I met runners from around the world. Watching and talking to so many talented athletes has recharged my running. My dream has come more sharply into focus.
Wow.
A big shout out to my husband for working his butt off burning the midnight oil. After working a 7 hour shift directing traffic at Stage Road Aid Station, he worked the finish line til 5am. Yikes!
Another big shout out to the new grill master, Paul from Plattsburgh. Just keep showering, the grill smell will eventually fade.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

The Rain Can Stay, The Humidity Has Got To Go

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This is what a sunny day looks like. We do occasionally have them here in Vermont. We had the wettest June on record, with 15″ inches of rain.

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Most mornings, we have a brief interlude of sun before the usual afternoon deluge. I’ve been working a ton, so the rain isn’t unbearable. I run most mornings, catching a little Vitamin D before work.
The trails are swamp like. Beautiful, but steamy and thick with mud and bugs. Aggie could care less about the messy trails. She simply wants to play. I could do well to take a lesson from her.
I’ve been struggling with hip/groin pain. It’s not a deal-breaker, but a serious nuisance. I’ve been run/ walking more than I want. So, I foam roll. Okay, I SHOULD foam roll. I do ice. That’s the easy part. But, wait, rest? Naaaah. I’m much nicer when I run.

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Since my last post, I’ve done a twelve miler, two races and two respectable weeks of mileage. I’m so pleased with with all of it. The highlight was a five mile trail race Saturday I ran in 1:01:37. I took a full 14 minutes off my time from last year! It was a slippery mud fest. I’d
say half of the 150 racers took a spill in the slop. But, oh-what-fun! AND I was fast! Well, not fast, but fast for me! My friend’s kiddo calls me Fastrid. I accept. Better than the embarrassing Gastrid. Yes? Ha!

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I missed you guys. What’s new in your running world?
Astrid

Living My Dreams

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8:51:16. I’m not winning any medals for speed. But I went further and longer than I’ve ever been before.
I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. The world continues to turn. I survived. I made it. I didn’t DNF. Mission accomplished. I brought home a finishers smile, a sense of wonder and two lbs. of Maine mud. Oh, man. Too cool.
This weekend was the amazing Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival. This girl ran her first ultra Sunday. I am living out my dreams. Unreal. I am truly still in shock. This is the shittest post I’ve written to date. Please bare with me while I find my voice.
I don’t know where to start. I couldn’t sleep for two nights prior to the race. I had the attention span of my using former self. I got to Maine Friday to start my mini running vacation. Friday I wore grooves in the wood floor pacing. Hubby and I went to the Saturday festivities to pick up our bibs and see the Canicross and barefoot races. It was pissing down rain. It was cold and miserable for spectators. I lasted about 20 minutes before I let my nerves get the best of me. I was standing in six inches of water at the finish line, wondering if it would be this wet tomorrow. Yup.
We stayed with our gracious hosts Matt, Crystal and Sadie about an hour from Pineland. On race morning, with about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, we dragged our hides to New Gloucester. It poured rain. I fretted, nervously slugged a 24 ounce coffee and talked incessantly. Poor husband. Probably wondering what this strange hell he agreed to be a part of is.
We parked, glided, layered. The rain stopped and my eyes searched out a friendly face to nurse my nerves with. Way too early to be torturing my honey with my yammering. Way too early for most of the folks around me, as well. I must have looked like I was on crack, nobody wanted to chat. Go figure. So I prayed for some serenity and some help to make it to the finish line happy. Funny how I have to be a shit show before I remember to ask for help. Oh, well.
At line up, I spied fellow bloggers Heather at Learning To Run and Tony at Tony Runs To A 100. We had four seconds to meet and the gun was off. So psyched to meet them. Their presence at my start time felt like a BIG bonus to an already exciting day. They’ve been bearing witness to my dream. I didn’t realize how important something like that would be as incentive to follow through.
Within minutes, I was running with a few folks at my pokey pace. Just run your own race, Astrid. Without delay, it was a mud extravaganza. My Hokas felt like like ankle weights. Okay, I’m running. Here goes. I made it this far. No turning back. I’d briefly thought about how I could get out of running by some freakish accident. Like, say, getting a rock through our car windshield on the way to the race. Jon joked upon seeing a cop that we should flag him down and beg him to arrest us. Sorry, we got thrown in jail. Oops, no race. It’d make a pretty good excuse.
During the first mile, my angel of help appeared. Beautiful, experienced ultra runner Sherry and I got talking. And I never let her out of my sight. I was running comfortably at her side. I feel as though I latched on, letting her dictate the pace. Happily. I felt like I was just born on that course. And I appreciated her knowing what worked. I love being alone, but not today. Her knowledge and energy was like a carrot in front of this newbie. I keep thanking her for her company.
I’m not sure what happened. Time continued out on the course, despite me. I didn’t hurt for the first seven hours. I talked, walked the hills and totted around large amounts of mud and grass on my legs. I nervously waited to hit the wall. I never did. Miracle of miracles. Thank you, God.
I laughed constantly at the slipping and sliding I did. I could hear the Looney Tunes music in my head as I tried not to wipe out skating uphill in three inches of mud. It was a blast. My abs are utterly sore from laughing and all the lateral movement in the mud. It was agreed this was an ultra combined with a Tough Mudder. It seemed almost criminal to be having this much fun. Yips, hoots and hollers were heard everywhere from happy runners.
Some things that worked: Lots of bananas, water and Gatorade, salted potatoes, gummy bears, chocolate chip cookies, Belvita cookies (might be a cracker, not sure). A Tums and an S-Cap every hour. It was loving pointed out by Sherry I could eat a lot at aid stations. I took it as a compliment. I’ve been practicing eating during long runs. It used to cramp me up. Now, viola! I’m an eating machine. It served me well. Go figure.
Ifinished the first 15 mile loop in under four hours. Not bad. It took a bit longer to complete the second. Almost five hours. Oh, well. I almost missed the finish line. I started to go left, recovered right. I crossed the soupy threshold. And started bawling. I reached through tears for my cowbell and water bottle. It was kind of funny. The young woman passing out goodies probably thought I was hurt. It was the most incredible feeling crossing that finish line. Nothing but joy.
What a beautiful course. It is all farm land and some incredibly well maintained trails. I think there were three roots on the entire course. The course is well marked, the aide stations are really well stocked, and the rolling hills are merciful. Anyone thinking of trying an ultra should consider this an excellent option. I’m blessed it was in my (nearly) backyard.
As I write this, I’m icing my right foot, which is still lacking definition two days later. Tomorrow I head to the doctor to have it looked at. I can’t put any weight on. I don’t think it’s broken. I’m not worried. I’ll let you know what they say. Aggie is grateful for an extra day with her folks. And I’ll be catching up on some Netflix.
I didn’t take a single photo. So strange. I usually love snapping pics. Really, I was terrified to stop and lose my forward momentum. So, no pretty images to accompany this post. Just some muddy shoes and my finisher’s cowbell. Oh, hubs ran it in 7:15:00. Jerk.
What’s next? Not sure. You can bet I’m looking already. I’m ready for more. Lets run. Any suggestions?

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More than ever, thanks for running with this grateful girl,
Astrid