Mornin’ Running

20131205-075317.jpg
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!

20131205-075330.jpg

20131205-075337.jpg

20131205-075352.jpg

20131205-075401.jpg

20131205-075408.jpg

20131205-075448.jpg

20131205-075507.jpg
Running continues to be a real joy for me. How’s your running going?

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Advertisements

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.

20131007-065101.jpg
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

<a
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.

20131006-202357.jpg
Mile 1-13

20131006-201922.jpg

<a
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.

20131006-202516.jpg
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

20131006-193943.jpg
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.

20131006-202635.jpg
Talk about suspense. And some great tears of joy.
Done.

20131007-073444.jpg
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.

20131007-064420.jpg

What’s next? Any ideas? I’d do an ultra over the winter…
I love this life!

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.

20130820-201631.jpg
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.

20130820-203226.jpg

20130820-205805.jpg
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.

20130820-205324.jpg

20130820-205335.jpg
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.

20130820-210253.jpg

20130820-210810.jpg
This is me making use of an abundance of flagging tape.

20130820-210916.jpg

20130820-210948.jpg
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!

A Blogoversary!

20130714-164740.jpg
Amazing! One year ago today, I posted my first vttrailgirl blog post!
I’m currently celebrating by icing my sliced leggies and reading a gift copy of Trail Runner.

20130714-191801.jpg
Sorry, I’m guessing you don’t care what my legs look like. But, Saw Grass is no joke. Here’s the proof! I actually celebrated by doing an easy 8 miler. I hadn’t planned on another run this weekend after Friday’s 14’er. I was pretty jazzed, though, for a celebratory run. It was so worth the near-ninety degrees and full humidity.
It was an awesome sweat fest. I loved it.
Some portions of the trails are completely overgrown. Hence, the grass fight. I lost. I covered my calves, but not the thighs. They look tough now. Oww.
I hardly get in two great runs back-to-back. Mostly ’cause I’m cooked for the week, except for smallish morning runs before work. When I have the right attitude, however, it doesn’t matter if my body is tired, running feels like pure bliss. Sometimes, running is truly 90% heart and 10% fitness.

20130714-193133.jpg

20130714-193152.jpg
What a year it’s been. I spent a little time flipping through my posts for some perspective. I’m incredibly grateful to be running injury-free, have a supportive family and at having lost about 40 pounds. Not to mention the friends I’ve made, the new things I’ve tried via running (say, tackle a 50K) and adventures ive gone on. And I keep shaking my head at the audacity I had, at running a mere three miles, declaring to my husband “I’m gonna run a 100 miler someday”. I haven’t lost that dream a year later. It’s what caused me to document my adventures here, that crazy statement.
I definitely feel blessed and humbled. I’m looking forward to another year of trail running and blogging.
Here are some of my favorite shots from the past year.

20130714-194928.jpg

20130714-195008.jpg

20130714-195050.jpg

20130714-195152.jpg

20130714-195217.jpg

20130714-195333.jpg

20130714-195410.jpg

20130714-195523.jpg

20130714-195545.jpg

20130714-195626.jpg

20130714-195714.jpg
Any blogs I should check out?
Thanks for running & celebrating with this grateful girl,
Astrid

New (To Me) Trails

Whoops. Runners restart.

20130712-183915.jpg
Finally. I got out of my running box. New trails. Today is Long Run Friday. No racing this weekend, so a long-ish run is just the ticket. AND it’s been a month since I’ve had a Friday off for playtime!

20130712-184130.jpg
The West River Trail runs roughly along route 30 in Southern Vermont from South Londonderry to Brattleboro. It follows the West River on an abandoned railroad bed.

20130712-184346.jpg
I love my bread and butter trails. They are my staple running. But, I needed a destination run to get pumped up on this week. Notice what’s missing? Yeah, no rain! A first in months!

20130712-184604.jpg
I also needed to get a break from bush whacking.

20130712-184731.jpg
We ran out about seven miles, from South Derry, through Winhall campground, past Angel Falls. Hubby and I went to Ball Mountain Dam this past March. About a mile before that point, we turned around for a return seven.
I’ll blame the dog for keeping the mileage around 14. I’m still trying to keep the dog alive. Heat + many hours running= peeing-on-the-floor-and-bed. Poor girl. There’s the pill for that. So says the vet. For now, less than four hours is Aggie’s max trail time.

20130712-185010.jpg
The trail is mostly gravel and pine needles. And flat. I’m grateful the scenery is so extraordinary, cause the trail itself is fairly uneventful. I love hills. And there are some short stretches through more rugged terrain. The half mile lead up to Angel Falls is an up and down with real shade.

20130712-191017.jpg
We swam as much as we ran. I actually walked as much as I ran. I am not in as good shape for distance as I was in early May. My hip flexors are as tight as ever. I’m not sure how to alleviate this Any thoughts for strengthening them?
Nothing a little Aleve doesn’t fix, for now.
I’m incredibly grateful to run long today. I’ve been a little blue the last week. So much heat, even more humidity. And not enough work on the recovery portion of my life. I’ve started making the necessary adjustments. Now, to continue the forward momentum so I stay out of the bad neighborhood that is my head. Having some distance running in the mix helps soothe this busy brain.
I love the post run lazy afternoon. I realized on my run my Hokas are blown out. So, I spent a little while online while rolling around on the couch. I thought I’d order another pair or Stinson Evos until I read about the Mafate 3.

20130712-191832.jpg
They’re supposed to be wider in the toe box and more stable. Sold. My Stinson are incredibly stable, but way too narrow for my big footsies. Here goes. I’ll let you know how they are. SO EXCITED! I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. They should arrive in time for my volunteering gig at the Vermont 100 next weekend.
My blogoversary is on the fourteenth. One whole year of vttrailgirl’ing. Any ideas for a way to celebrate?
Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

The Rain Can Stay, The Humidity Has Got To Go

20130701-191805.jpg

20130701-191823.jpg
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.

20130701-192131.jpg
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.

20130701-192909.jpg
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!

20130701-195426.jpg

20130701-195547.jpg
I missed you guys. What’s new in your running world?
Astrid

A Day Without Rain

20130614-151121.jpg
Here in Southern Vermont, it has been a soggy spring. Since June 1st, we’ve received a record 13″ of rain. Trails and gardens are exploding. The rain isn’t a running deterrent, but a day of full sun is a little bit of heaven trail side.

20130614-151704.jpg
Aggie and I went out for our first ten miler today since The 50K and post foot injury. It was gorgeous and lush everywhere and completely overgrown.

20130614-151919.jpg
I’m so grateful to be running again. I was incredibly sore, right off the bat. I’m not sure if I’ve increased my mileage too quickly post recovery. I’ve run 28 miles the past week, up from two walking miles the week before.
My hip flexors are as tight as when I started running. I should be honest here and say I walked quite a bit the first four miles. The uphill grind felt as challenging as its ever been. My foot has been completely pain free, though. I’ll chalk the pain in my hip up to starting over.

20130614-153246.jpg
I have a six mile race in NH tomorrow. It was my first trail race exactly one year ago! Amazingly, I’ll probably be slower this year. Oh well, it’ll be fun to hang out with friends and run some trails I haven’t spent much time on. I’ll let you know how it goes,

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid