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

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

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

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