It’s Official

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Well, I’ve committed. It’s official. I signed up for this year’s VT100K. The race is July 19th. I have six months to get my butt in gear. *gulp*
Yup. It seemed like a good idea…while my finger hovered over the register button.
Aggie thinks its a great idea, of course.
I am excited, but apprehensive. 62 miles is twice as far as I’ve run, yet. I can try, right?
Here’s to dreaming big!

Thanks for sharing my big news,
Astrid

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Powder Day!

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Two feet of fresh, fluffy snow fell on Southern Vermont last night. My excitement was so high, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
After some sweet powder turns at the hill, we took Agatha for a little romp. She had lots of deep snow to navigate. I love watching her race around in drifts higher than her shoulders. She is pure joy when she plays. I can’t help but smile as she flys by.
Fifteen minutes was enough to earn her a contented place in front of the wood stove.
Hubs and I are also vying for a hearthside spot to warm our tired muscles. I’d assumed I was in decent shape. My weekly running mileage is okay. But, deep powder is a quad burner. And the later, more chopped-up trails had my legs on fire hopping around van-sized moguls. Hooray for cross training. Finally.
Okay, NOW I’m ready for winter.

What a splendid end to a cold and crappy week.

Thanks for riding and 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