Planning for rocky Raccoon…

Here is a pic from last year’s Rocky Raccoon. I had a great time and a great race. This year is looking good. We have a fantastic weather forecast: 60s and lows in the high 40s. So much better than last year’s 27 degrees. At first I was disappointed I had not signed up to run there. But, this is Doise’s race and I gave her my word I would help her make a fast loop 4 (miles 60-80), so she can have a 100 finish. I believe we can do it, and then she is onto the home stretch of only 20 more miles! I went to the store and loaded up on gels so I am ready!

I went ahead and signed up for the Waco 50K. It is up there with Bandera for difficulty. I want to do some hard things and toughen up a bit before I decide on my next big move. The internet is very dangerous. It is so easy to read about epic sounding runs, see other folks’ pictures reports, and think “Ohhh, I want to do that”. It is a whole different story when the training really starts, and I think of a 4+ hour run on the greenbelt alone. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is wonderful, but sometimes it is a “sufferfest” as Meredith would say. I would rather toughen up at a race where I can feed off the energy of other people. Anyhow, I am looking forward to running it in about 5 weeks.

Started my new job today. Only did HR stuff, no work. I am happy to start, but oh so bummed I am the new kid with no seniority and no vacation. Just a few months ago I had more vacation time than I could possibly take. In the end, I am trying very hard to be positive that I came out ahead with a new job. a lot of us say our jobs are not important, but I just cannot do that. I spend too much time there for it not to matter to me. I like my work to challenge and fulfill me and I want to look back at it with fond memories, and not too much bitterness. Yes, sometimes it robs me from the things I want to do. But too much of life is spent there for it not to be something that overall is a positive experience.

A life of leisure…

I ended up with the week off in between jobs, and it has been great. the weather has been horrible…so some of my plans were put on hold, but overall, it has been a great time. I made as many plans as I could with friends, and Monday did lunch and shopping with Kitty. She introduced me to The Steeping Room
It was super yummy. I had the best cupcake there. I picked up a couple more things to wear at the new job at rock bottom prices. Wednesday I did lunch with Kelley and Doise. Doise and I made some plans for rocky raccoon. I told her we would beat those cut offs!! Last night I had sushi with Kelley and went to see Spirit of the Marathon
It was fun, despite spilling 20oz of hot chocolate under our feet. Deena Kastor is super cool…she’s my new hero. I love the fact she runs with her dog, and I read she loves to cook and drink wine. My kind of runner!

this am, I got up, hit town lake, and then the Bettysport sale. Everything in the store is on sale. It was insane with a huge crowd at 1000am, and people stripping down in the aisles to try on running clothes. Why are folks so crazy over running clothes? I did get some good deals though, and I had so much fun. I never get to hit the sale when it starts, since I am always at work.

Kept up running all week, despite the super crappy weather. This morning’s run was great. I slept until 700, then hit town lake at 800. It wasn’t crowded at all, and I was treated to seeing a group of egrets in one of the little inlets. I did a couple ‘hood runs with Pancake. I love running with Pancake, but my ‘hood is a bit depressing. It seems to be the most popular place in Austin for illegal garbage dumping…so there is always so much trash littering the streets. there are always old tires, old mattresses, and shopping carts. Kinda can spoil a a crisp, cold morning run, when you look over and see an old stained mattress in the ditch.

this weekend is Mike’s birthday and we have a wedding to go to, so we will be busy. No big runs for awhile. Next weekend I’ll be pacing for 20 miles, but it should be a fair bit of walking. It is nice to have the running “down time”. I plan on a couple 50Ks in march and will ramp up again, then I’ve got Boston, and then the running season is kinda over. I have ambitions to do something this summer, but I am not quite sure how vacation time will pan out.

So, I am sitting around the house in sweats, on my last day of my leisure week. It scares me I never got bored. Hmmm….I could get used to this!

It’s COLD…


Photo: grackles bathing at Town Lake.

Wow….what a cold run this am!!! Friday I broke down and registered for the Austin marathon. I realized saturday that if I wanted a long run partner, the only weekend Stephanie would both be in town, and it wouldn’t be too close to the race, would be this weekend. So late saturday afternoon, I planned a 20 miler for this am. It was still a little soon after Bandera, but I figured what the heck. I watched the temp plummet over night, and by my 430 wake up call, it was 26 degrees out. This is unheard of, top of Mt Everest in the winter, holy f—in’ shit, cold for Austin. It just never gets this cold here. I wore a long sleeve, a fleece, tights, a fleece hat, fleece gloves, with a second pair over them, and smart wool socks. I also wore my camel back, so my hand would not have to hold a water bottle, and could stay balled up, under my sleeve. We started out, and I thought “This isn’t so bad”, but we had 2 hours until it got light, and it would not be getting warmer until then. My hands were aching despite the 2 layers of gloves. I just got cold….uncomfortably cold. I think even stephanie was cold. We did 10 miles with Steve, and hit the trail for 10 more, and stephanie and I both realized out gatorade was frozen. I was sipping a slushy, slurpee like drink in my camel back. The trail did look neat though. Steam coming off the water, frost everywhere, and little icicles. The sun came out the last 5 miles or so, and then it really didn’t seem bad at all, but I was very chilled until I took a shower. As I write this I am watching the Packers/ Giants game and it is -3 degrees. I simply cannot process how cold it must be. My fingertips are still tingling from 26. I really am a wimp.

I am starting a week off work. I need it. I am thrilled to start my new job next week, but cannot help but to feel some resentment and anger I was managed out of my old job. Looking for the silver lining…I needed to make a change, and the new job is a step up. It is still a tough pill to swallow that new management did not see the value of RNs, and made things uncomfortable enough for us, that 2 of the 3 RNs quit. Kinda feels like defeat…but I know this happens to a lot of folks at some point in their careers. Anyhow, still not an easy thing to accept. I am happy to have the time off, and I am already feeling more refreshed.

Looks like I am pacing at Rocky Raccoon. gotta work out the little details with Doise, but she asked me to run loop 4 with her. Doise is mentally tough, and should finish. It should be a fun weekend. It will also benefit me, in that I get to revisit the 100 miler without doing one, and really get a little more of a feel for even considering one again.

So, it should be a great week. Rain is forcast everyday, but I don’t care. I have cleaning plans, movies to see, going to hit the Blanton museum and hopefully finish up reading the Golden Compass. Somtimes we just need to do nothing…..

Junkie…


The return to normalcy continues. I am pretty much healed up from Bandera. My feet are ugly, no doubt, but the pains are gone. I struggled with a 12 miler this weekend, but I feel more and more refreshed. The high of the finishline is fading. I bought a belt that would fit my buckle (finishers awards you can use are cool!) Yes, the big goal of the last few months is over. It is hard to do “nothing”. I had to resist major temptation not to sign up for Rocky raccoon 50. My new job was some incentive….I don’t want my new co-workers to realize how weird I am so early on. I have a hard time finishing goals and not having another. Part of it, is just loving the process. Long weekend runs, endless planning (good for my OCD 🙂 ) and the big event. The big difference between running a marathon and running an ultra is that time alone with your own head.

Most marathons are loud, crowded affairs. In an ultra, I can go miles without seeing a soul. There are not many times in our modern, hectic lives you get to be truly alone and having nothing but your own thoughts. If I am home alone, my thoughts go to “I need to clean that closet”, ” I can flip through trash tv”, ” I can surf the internet”. In a long, alone run, all I get is rambling thoughts. It can be good or bad…especially if the thoughts ramble to “This run is not fun anymore!” But, it is refreshing. The work stress fades, future plans get made, and I write stories in my head. And every now and then, it all clicks, and the running is effortless, and I am in the moment. No thoughts of last week at work or tomorrow at home, just now. Plus, getting off the beaten path…it suits me. I don’t like to do things like everyone else…

anyhow….in my desire to go, go, go, I think I am going to sign up for the marathon next month. It is waaaayyyyy too expensive, but it’s hard to turn down when it is right here, and takes no travel plans. Then Prickly Pear in March. then Boston!

yes, things are going well. New job soon, a little time off in between jobs, and running healthy and injury free.

Back to normal…


Hard to believe a few days ago, I was trudging up hills in pitch black, with big blisters, and a finish line in sight. After a couple sore, surreal days, life is back to normal. Monday was very busy at work, so I didn’t have time to mope, and feel sore. By tuesday afternoon, I pretty much felt “normal”.

I ran with Steph on Wednesday, and didn’t feel too bad. On this morning’s run, I was sooooo tired. I guess even though I feel ok, I am still recovering. Hoping more feeling normal happens this weekend.

I was so thrilled to finish Bandera, but I always feel I little sad when it is over. For months, a big event like this is always in the back of my mind, and then suddenly, it’ s over. I have Boston on the horizon, but no big ultra plans. finding the next big thing should be fun…and NO, it wil not be the Rocky Raccoon 100!

Bandera 100K weekend

We forgot the camera, so here is an internet picture with the sotol leaves I spent much of Saturday with.

I had trained for this race for months, and I had it on my schedule for so long, that it was a big deal to me. I hadn’t necessarily done a ton of really long runs, but everything I’ve done since July was done with finishing this race in the back of my mind. I did a lot of 20 mile greenbelt runs, and peaked my training with double decker and then a 7 hour day on the greenbelt. I felt as ready as my busy life would permit. I really rested the whole week, so I felt tapered. There wasn’t much more I could do to prepare. I was nervous and in major OCD stress mode all week. Work had been extremely stressful, and I left for Bandera around 200 on Friday feeling completely frazzled. 100K of running was the last thing on my mind. Luckily, I had packed my drop bags ahead of time, so I kinda got to operate on autopilot. I had spent a lot of time making mini bags of trail mix (thank you Teresa!), planning my nighttime clothes, packing extra batteries for my light, making a mini blister kit, ordering last minute gaiters (yes, all my road friends can make fun of me, but they have a print with little skulls wearing pink bows, so who can resist that?), in other words, I put a lot of time into prep.

I was very thankful Mike was coming with me. It made logistics much easier, and helped calm my nerves. We had a beautiful drive and stopped at a little brew pub in Boerne. I was upset I couldn’t enjoy a cold beer, but that could come after 62 miles! I was also happy for Mike to meet some of my running friends at the dinner and packet pickup. My only big disappointment for the trip was our cabin.   it was pretty expensive, and pretty minimal , and not too comfortable. I spent a very restless night.

Moogy roomed with us, and in the morning, I could tell we were both very nervous. I probably made 6 bathrooms stops, but I guess that kept me occupied until race start! The weather looked good for me: 70 was the high with a low of 50. I could deal with that better than cold and wet. I started out way in the back to ease into things. I wore a running skirt, a short sleeve, a thin long sleeve, and my hardrock shoes. I planned to drop the long sleeve at Chapas aid station (10 miles in), but within a mile I was sweating. It was going to warmer than 70 degrees today. Because I started in the back, I had plenty of folks to chat with the first 10 miles or so. It was great fun, and pretty uneventful. Fog had settled in, and we would miss all the nice views, but I guess I would see them on loop 2. By the time I got to crossroads in (mile 15), it was pretty hot, and I was thinking of how good starting loop 2 would feel. I was starting to freak out because my feet were killing me. I was only a quarter into this thing and my feet felt bruised. I had packed my road shoes to wear the last few miles, but I decided to go ahead and put them on now. I was worried about the lack of tread and getting bruised toes, but I my feet were definitely an issue. I sat down at crossroads out, changed shoes, reapplied sunscreen, and headed out to last chance aid station and spend the next 5 miles trying to convince myself the shoe change would work. I also felt a hint of an headache coming on. Meredith caught me as she finished the 50K and it was fun to have company for the first time in awhile. I tried to really focus on keeping positive and not letting any issues seem too great until I was at least halfway into this thing.

I hit the lodge and meredith helped me get out quick. My goal was to hit it in 6:30-7:00 and I hit right at 6:55, so I wasn’t doing too bad. that gave me 2 hours to lose on loop 2 and still make 16 hours. I officially had a migraine-y headache at this point that had settled in the left side of my face and jaw. I went out in good spirits and looked forward to seeing Mike for the first time that day at the next aid station. The headache grew intense over the next 5 miles, and I admit I had a mental low. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the mileage, but it was hard to believe I had 25+ more miles of running to look forward to. The panoramic views that the fog obscured in the morning were visible and I focused on them to try and keep positive. The headache was causing some nausea to gnaw at me, and by the time I hit the next aid station and saw Mike I was putting on a good front to hide a touch of misery. I was very happy to see him and my friend Bill and they probably don’t know how much their kind words pumped me up. the next section went quick, even though the headache was horrible now. At least it made me forget my feet.

I got to Chapas aid station, and kinda laughed at the fact I was over half way into this thing and had yet to touch a single special snack I had packed. I filtered all the M and Ms out of the trail mix and that was it. Int he future I will not go to so much trouble. I had even baked homemade cookies and not touched a single one. I felt a little more energized, and got my light. The sun was so intense, it was hard to believe it would get dark before I made it to the next aid station. Chapas to crossroads is the worst stretch, and I think most runners agree with me. It is very flat, so you really don’t get walk breaks, and it is just cedar groves and fields for 6 boring miles, that I spent completely alone. As the sun was setting my headache was getting better. I felt nauseated from it though. It was like running with a hangover.

I had practiced power walking on my training. In the Vermont 100 I remember stephanie telling me I thought I was power walking, but I really was a pretty slow walker. I had calculated a 15 minute mile walk pace was pretty brisk. Well, I was doing better than that. I was hitting 13-14 minute walk miles. I had running 11-13 minute miles, so I figured if I could keep that pace, walking was just as good, and it felt much more comfortable.

I got to crossroads and was THRILLED to see Mike and Meredith. Mike had a hamburger waiting for me, of which I manged 2 bites. I drank some broth, but the headache had taken it’s toll. I felt sick, and plain water made my stomach spasm like it might come back up. I also realized I was very swollen. I couldn’t get my gloves on, the garmin watch which is normally flopping on my wrist was too tight. I think I was retaining too much water and that was why I was feeling sick. I kept telling myself to stay positive and told Meredith all about my walking hypothesis and why she should let me walk the last 15 miles. she agreed the pace was good and we were off. I think I kept pace the next whole section. We had both been very busy the last couple weeks and agreed it would be fun to “save” all our catching up for the run. Even though I definitely had issues, I would say we had fun. I sincerely tried not to complain, but I know some of my miseries were now being verbalized. Mike was nice enough to stick around for my to back to crossroads out, and I was happy to say “next time I see you is at the finish!” I had some broth and an emergency bathroom trip and realized my stomach was feeling better.

The next 5 miles weren’t too bad. We slowed some, but mostly due to the very tough terrain on this section. One of my favorite parts of the run was getting to the top of Lucky’s Peak (teresa knows how hard it is!) and turning off our lights and being in true darkness. It was a totally clear, moonless night, and the beauty of the night sky was beyond words. there are moments in your life you know will always treasure, and this was one of mine. I had pushed my body and mind hard, and was being treated to an incredible sight. It made all the aches and pains go away for awhile.

We hit last chance and were off on the home stretch. My feet really were feeling bad, and I told Meredith 100 times, I would never run 100 miles out here! I was so thankful I had Meredith with me. it was so utterly dark and scary out there, I cannot imagine being alone. The last couple miles I thought this run was tough, I had some rough times, but overall, it was not the worst thing ever. I am glad I did it.

finishing up and having Mike waiting for me was wonderful. he endured a very long boring day, and I am forever grateful. I got my belt buckle and made it in 15:31. Not my ultimate goal, but I will take it!!

We quickly left for our cabin, and I assessed the true damage of my body. It was a lot worse than I thought. My feet are in terrible shape. they blistered worse than I thought. I got scabs and my chest and back from sports bra rubbing and the sotol cactus left little cuts everywhere. This morning I felt bad, but not as bad as I thought, so overall, things are good.

What an adventure. I always am thankful for my good friends who help me achieve my goals, and for the good volunteers who tough out a long day to help folks run these silly things. special thanks to stephanie for taking care of pancake. She has the right idea how I will be spending the next couple days:

New Year’s…

Spent a day at McKinney Falls, what a great start to a new year. Pancake had a blast. Then, headed home and started prepping my drop bags for Bandera. If the weather holds, it won’t be too difficult. No need for hand warmers, and every piece of winter clothing I own.