Ultra REDEMPTION ACHIEVED… CedarIsland40!

Redemption has never felt so good! It was personal! I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself!

42.54 miles complete!

10:01:21!

I did it!

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Redemption Smiles & Bunny Ears!

CedarIsland40 was my ultra redemption race. This was my opportunity to learn from my previous defeat,  push my mental and physical comfort zone, and succeed. To succeed, I had to put in the work.  I was the only thing that was going to get me across the finish line and I had to be ready! I owned it!

I committed week one of 11 to nail all my training workouts and stick with my program. While, I did not make every single workout I am very happy with my efforts.  I can honestly say in my 5 years of running, I have never taken training so seriously.  It felt good, and gave me the confidence I needed race day  I knew I had put in the work and that I would cross the finish line.

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Race Shirt and Pre-race carb load…just one:)

Katherine  (KMac- my awesome friend who accompanied me to the race) and I volunteered at packet pickup that was  hosted in a private room at Sammy’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar.  It was great to mingle, meet, and eat with some of the fellow participants. I was in awe of the ultra runners I would be sharing the course with.  Participants ranged from ultra virgins to ultra legends. Everyone was super nice and very supportive.

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KMac and I at the start! Little fuzzy but it was not even 5:00am yet

Big Thanks to Kmac who sealed my race strategy down for me. I knew I was going to do a run walk segment but had not given much thought to what that would be. Thankfully, KMac suggested 10 min run/2 min walk.  I loved it and immediately programmed the interval into my Garmin.  This was my saving grace! AWESOME!

Jason, Garrett, and I ready!

Jason, Garrett, and I ready!

3:50 am wake up call came super early! We picked up two fellow runners Jason and Garrett, whom we met at packet pickup, and headed to the starting line. Jason and Garrett were very trusting individuals to rely on complete strangers to get them to the start of the race! We were happy to help!  The minute the doors of the car closed they were no longer strangers but our newest friends.  Jason  was running his first ultra to celebrate his 40th birthday.  Wow! The Irony of that was surreal since my first ultra attempt was for my buddy’s 40th birthday…and we all know how that turned out 🙂  Garrett, signed up two weeks before the race and decided to join his buddy!  No training outside of a single 3 hours run.  He does not even like to run!  Now that is a good friend!  Crazy but good!

5:00 am the race was started with a “ready, set, GO!” by my adorable niece Chloe. Headlights bobbing in the darkness we were headed from Morehead City, NC to the Cedar Island Ferry (42 miles)

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The sunrise was beautiful…but hard to capture

The temps were mild, warmer than I had desired but we were off to a good start and feeling great.  Around mile 2, Ashley and I fell into step with one another. I inquired about her race strategy and shared my plan.  She liked my plan and that was the start of our 40 mile journey together.  Ashley, a seasoned ultra runner, is also a good friend of my sister Amy, whom was the race director.

Aid Station 1 Ashley and KMac

Aid Station 1 Ashley and KMac. Ashley sporting her LUNA Sandals!

I had planned on running alone and was totally fine with that. As extroverted as I am, it is shocking to people that know me well that I am perfectly content running alone.  Partnering up with Ashley was a race day bonus!

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

The course while very remote ran through beautiful coastal tidelands and marsh. The views were absolutely beautiful.  There was definitely more traffic than I anticipated and was unnerving at times but nothing we could not handle.  We got a friendly honk from an 18 wheeler and a wagging finger from a grumpy old lady.  One passerby was so curious as to what we were doing she slowed down to inquire.  When we told her we were running 42 miles she flipped out!  She screamed  “You go girls!” and drove off.

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Prius escort!

We had been warned of a one lane, wooden plank bridge along the route.  As we approached the bridge we contemplated what our strategy for crossing would be.  We certainly did not want to get taken out by a car on the bridge.  Before we could finalize our strategy, my brother-in-law Lee, whom was monitoring the course appeared and escorted us across the bridge.  We felt like running royalty. Perfect timing!

Bridge Selfie!

Bridge Selfie!

We ran over several bridges and the views were always breath taking! It was also a great excuse to stop and take a “selfie”.  This was the first of many!

"Color Run" drive by!

“Color Run” drive by!

On course support was often and entertaining! We never felt abandoned as Amy and her volunteers did a great job of monitoring the course and keeping an eye on the participants. I almost  fell over in laughter when Amy and my niece drove by spraying silly string and shouting Color Run!  It was everywhere. It was a great pick me up!

"Color run" silly string

“Color run” silly string

The coastal towns along NC 12 are very quaint.  It was a nice change of scenery.

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Too cute not to take a picture of.

Not everything was cute.  While the natural beauty of the tidelands was pleasant, there comes a time when enough is enough!

Dire Straits....

Dire Straits….

My picture, while hazy, is a perfect representation of the steamy slog through a portion of the course called “Dire Straits”.  Its long,winding, barren, asphalt that seems to go on forever.  We survived!

Popsicle Delivery mile 24!

Popsicle Delivery mile 27!

As temperatures rose ( into the upper 70’s) and we grew tired we would often wonder what we were seeing up ahead on the road. We saw plenty of mirages while we were anticipating the next aid stations.  Fortunately, Heather’s Edy’s Lime Popsicle delivery was not a mirage! We deemed it Heaven on a stick!  It was the best Popsicle I have ever had in my life!

Heaven on a stick!

Heaven on a stick! Note my FroggToggs Chilly Sport around my neck!

The Popsicle delivery was such a wonderful surprise and a much needed pick me up!  Diligent with our 10/2 run/walk segments, we decided we would walk and enjoy our Popsicle! Ahhhhhhh!  I have to mention my last minute decision to pack my daughters FroggTogg Chilly Sport towel was a true life saver!  I had never used this towel or anything similar before but my gut told me to pack it and give it a try.  AMAZING! Why have I never used this towel before?  This is now part of my MUST HAVE gear list and will never leave home without it for warm runs.  It really stayed wet and cool.   I rolled up ice in it at one of the last aid stations for the super cooling effect.

Whoo hooo the end is near...kind of

Whoo hooo the end is near…kind of

Neither Ashley or I ever checked the mileage on our watches. We gauged our distance based on the aid stations having a general idea where they were.  I figured we had a long distance to cover and we would get there when we get there.  It was rather exciting, when the road side signs got close to single digits.

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It was hot but we ran on.  Both of us were feeling great and enjoying the run.  We had great conversations but also spend a lot of time running in silence.  We stuck to our 10min/2min run/walk segments and consistently fueled and took our Salt Sticks every hour.  The sun was out in full force so we also applied sun screen every few hours.  It was great having company and an accountability partner.  After running hours, upon hours in the heat your brain function slows and you need a little help from your friend to stay safe. We laughed that Ashley was a running traffic cone in her BRIGHT yellow and orange shirt.  A perfect selection for the day.    I kept my Amphipod Xinglet around my waist ( I wore it correctly before the sun came up).  Its so light I did not even know it was there.

I had a complete brain slip and forgot to put my nuun in my Nathan vest.  Luckily I did drop some tablets in my first 2 liters of water so I did have some early on.  Just none for water refills  The Salt Sticks did the trick! Thank God!

About an hour behind us were Jason & Garrett! We got updates from the course monitors that they were having a blast!  Wondering what those two goof balls were doing pushed me to get to the finish line as I knew they would have some great stories! They had no worries about time they just wanted to have fun, enjoy each others company, take in the sights, and finish before the cut off.

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Jason & Garrett….having a blast every mile! They texted pictures to Amy, Race Director, along the route.

Take note of Jason’s super cool camouflage shades! As the sun came up, Jason realized he forgot his sun glasses.  He thought he would  quickly remedy the situation by popping in one of the very few convenient stores along the route and buy a pair. Easy enough, all convenient stores at the coast have sunglasses right?  Well, not this particular store. Oops onto Plan B!  While most would simply do without,  Jason was on a quest for survival.  No glasses officially for sale the next best thing was to buy them off one of the customers. Yep, Jason purchased his glasses right off the face of a lady in the store for $20! Resourceful!

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Garrett’s first marathon distance!

Sometime after mile 26.2,at one of the aid stations, Garrett realized he had officially run his first marathon! Pretty darn impressive for a guy who signed up for his first ultra two weeks prior and his training consisted of one three hour run! YOUTH! Way to go Baby G!

Because running 42+ miles is not enough, in an effort to break the monotony Garrett decided to throw in some push ups…or perhaps they were burpees! Either way just crazy!

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Great form! Little aid station fun

Finally, we made it to the last manned aid station and knew we had 9 miles to go.  Hitting the single digits felt great! It was HOT , we were tired, but still enjoying the run.  We made good time and caught up with some fellow runners and had a surprise visit from KMac, whom dressed in running clothes, was there to run in the final 5 miles with us! Such an awesome surprise and a wonderful pick me up for both Ashley and I.

My favorite on course picture!

My favorite on course picture! All smiling with 5+ miles to go! ( Lee, top right was driving the course in air conditioning so of course he was smiling.  The rest of us were running)

The final miles were long.  Likely the longest and slowest 5 miles of my life.  We were elated to make it to the last aid station! 3 miles to go!

The "lonely tree"  final aid station and Jason!

The “lonely tree” final aid station and Jason!

Jason and Garrett,  recognized the tree at the last aid station as the “lone” tree on the CedarIsland40 web page and took the opportunity to snap a photo.  I had no recollection of the tree. I love that they captured this photo. Not sure how Jason was able to get up. If I laid down at that point in the day I would be staying until someone picked me up.

Ashley and I REALLY enjoyed Katherine’s company on our final miles to the finish line. The fact she surprised us made it even better. 8+ hours in, a fresh perspective was greatly welcomed.  She encouraged us, filled us in on the runners who had finished, those who had not and generally everything that was going on.  We took a brief pit stop to take our picture with a HUGE Crusty Crustacean whom had seen some hard times.  At that point in the day I felt like I could totally relate to this poor fella.

Kmac and I with Mr. Crustacean..missing some appendages clearly needed some love and attention

Kmac and I with Mr. Crustacean..missing some appendages clearly needed some love and attention.

Ashely and I giving Mr. Crustacean kisses!

Ashely and I giving Mr. Crustacean kisses!  I had some serious Guy Fieri hair going on!

We were so close! Ashley alerted us that if we pushed through and ran the next 1.5 miles without walk segments we could potentially come in under 10 hours.  Secretly, 10 hours was my goal/desire second to  JUST FINISHING.  We agreed to push through and run it in.

Amy( Race Director & my sister) with Ashley and I at the finish!

Amy( Race Director & my sister) with Ashley and I at the finish!

I was so excited to almost be finished.  My accomplishment of ULTRA REDEMPTION was so close I could literally taste it.  Where the hell is the finish line? I was running slower than ever and thought the finish would never been in sight.  Kmac informed me we would take a right just ahead.  The right hand turn finally came, I saw the FINISH LINE! My emotions immediately swelled, on the verge of hyperventilation, I declared I could not breath.  Ashley assured me I could breath.  It was at that point, I decided we were going to sprint it in! Ashley, whom all day, was trying to decide who was crazier me or my sister(Amy) yelled “YOU are crazier than your sister” and she sprinted with me across the finish line!

10:01:21! Redemption Achieved! Amy immediately hugged me after I crossed.  I had no words only BIG, UGLY, SOBS, and TEARS! It was an ugly cry like no other but I did not care… I was finally a legit ULTRA MARATHONER! Amy asked if I needed anything and I simply replied ” Just hold me”.  🙂

My  handmade finisher pottery and Mother Earth Brewery Beer!

My handmade finisher pottery and Mother Earth Brewery Beer!

The finish line was awesome with lots of food ( unfortunately I was not up for eating), cold beverages and live music.  It was a beautiful day! I iced my horrific feet then decided to take a rest in the grass and wait for Jason and Garrett to finish.

Horrific blisters! Both pinky toes had weigh bearing blisters that popped miles 30-35.  When the popped my balance was thrown off.  It hurt like HELL but I ran through it.  Ashley thought I had a cramp as i had to grab onto her.

Horrific blisters! Both pinky toes had weigh bearing blisters that popped miles 30-35. When they popped( not simultaneously) my balance was thrown off each time.   It hurt like HELL but I ran through it. Ashley thought I had a cramp as I immediately had to grab her to keep from falling over.

Amy and I with Kirk Cameron! Amy stated she was hoping to talk smack to be as I run this ultra in an attempt to getting back to me for putting peanut butter on her fav Kirk Cameron poster when we were kids.  Unfortunately for her, i trained too well.  No smack talking opportunities.  Thanks to google I found the poster imagine printed it out and surpised her by putting it on her bedroom door.  Many laughs! At one point during the race...she drove by holding the poster ( we could not see her face) and she said Kirk says keep it up! I almost fell over in laughter!

Amy and I with Kirk Cameron! Amy stated she was hoping to talk smack to me as I ran this ultra in an attempt to get back to me for putting peanut butter on her fav Kirk Cameron poster when we were kids. Unfortunately for her, I trained too well. No smack talking opportunities. Thanks to Google, I found the poster imagine printed it out and surprised her by putting it on her bedroom door the night prior to the race. Many laughs! At one point during the race…she drove by holding the poster ( we could not see her face) and she said Kirk says keep it up! I almost fell over in laughter!

They did it! Congrats Garrett and Jason!

They did it…with 24 minutes to spare! Congrats Garrett and Jason!

Post race pic!  Bummed we could not not hang out to share some more laughs but totally enjoyed our short time with these two! Such a great part of the experience!

Post race pic with a photo bomb by Jason’s little cutie! Bummed we could not not hang out to share some more laughs but totally enjoyed our short time with these two! Such a great part of the experience!

Never give up on what you want! Don’t let your failures derail you! Learn from your missed achievements and simply do better the next time! The satisfaction is priceless! 

MANY THANKS!

  • Coach Chennelle, Raleigh Cross Fit, for overseeing my training plan and weekly motivation.  She helped me safely integrate Crossfit into my training plan and kept me accountable for my weekly training more than she will ever know!
  • Bryon Powell, irunfar.com, for writing Relentless Forward Progress A guide to running ultramarathons.  I read every page of this book and loved my training plan! I was also super excited to blog chat with him as he somehow found, read, and commented one of my earlier blog post 🙂
  • Ashley, for covering the miles with me! You were a lifesaver I did not even know I needed!
  • KMac, for insisting on traveling with me to support and volunteer!
  • Amy for giving me the ultimatum to either volunteer or sign up for her race! Sisterly motivation at its best! You did an awesome job at your first Race Director gig! So proud of you.
  • RaceENC, Brandon, Heather, & Amy for  hosting a spectacular race.  The organization, amenities, communications, and course were top notch!  Job well done.  I cannot say enough good things about CedarIsland40 and your successful execution of it!
  • Last but not least my Husband(Dan), family & friends for never doubting my ability and encouraging me!

I have fallen in love with the ultra…just as Amy said I would.  Dimity McDowell sums up my new found love and quest so nicely “Going big isn’t really about the distance. It’s about taking on something that isn’t necessarily a gimme”  Well Said Dimity! Next quest(it makes my stomach hurt to type it)…100k (62miles) at Croatan24, November 8th, 2014!

 

Feet Prep  Supplies - RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!

Feet Prep Supplies for next Ultra – RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pushing my comfort zone…

My daily inspiration.....given to me by Amy!

My daily inspiration…..given to me by my sister Amy.

I just completed week 5 of my ultra training and am I am feeling very accomplished. I am more determined than ever to nail this race.

My snow/ice trek to get in my CrossFit home WOD with Kathryn.

My snow/ice trek to get in my CrossFit home WOD  work out in with buddy  Kathryn.

I have nailed every workout on my training plan and am committed! I have never nailed every work out on any previous training effort. Why is this different? I am not really sure other than the fact I don’t like to fail. My first ultra attempt was a FAIL! I am stubborn, hardheaded, and I don’t like to fail.  While nobody has ever question my ability, for me… the successful completion of this ultra is 100% personal. I have a score to settle with myself.

This weekend I exceeded my personal distance record by running 31 miles. Prior to Saturday, my longest run was 28 miles ( my 1st ultra attempt). In prep for Saturday’s training run I was mentally, physically, and logistically prepared.  I knew I could conquer the distance.

My recruiting map.  I love planning routes..my running buddies think I am crazy

My recruiting map. I love planning routes..my running buddies think I am crazy

I rallied my non injured running peeps and they eagerly signed up to join me along my route! It was amazing it made the miles go by so quickly. I honestly could not have gotten through this without the company.  I only ran 3.5 miles alone( 15.5-19)! . Thanks BRF’s!

Our first stop mile 6 to pick up Kate!

Our first stop mile 6 to pick up Kate! Super shout out to Lizzy and Syd ( on ends) College Sophomores training for their first marathon, started with me at 6.45am for their 18 mile run! Impressive…I never did that in college.

I felt good the entire run. Don’t get my wrong… around mile 20 I was certainly tired and my hamstrings were screaming at me but I listened to my body and threw in some longer walking sessions. I know I will have to walk much more on race day.

Kayla joined me at mile 19-31! She chatted me up the entire way! Thanks Kayla

Kayla joined me at mile 19-31! She chatted me up the entire way! Thanks Kayla

My fueling, every 45 minutes, was right on! Thanks Byron Powell, author of Relentless Forward Progress for the awesome tips.  Byron’s book has equipped me with so much knowledge and confidence.  Back to fueling…while at times my fueling alarm seemed too often, I made my self eat, take my salt stick tabs, and flush it down with my strawberry lemonade Nuun. I also tested out my homemade protein balls which were super yummy. They will be a new race day staple.  My consistent fueling and hydration effort paid off.

As Kayla and I ran the final .25 up the HILL to my house,  Kayla was determined to conquer the  the hill as it defeated her several weeks prior. I joined her pursuit and powered to the  finish.   I was pretty darn excited to be almost done.

Finish Line Posse!

Finish Line Posse!

As we crested the hill, I spotted a car in front of my house. Out popped out Kate ( who ran 7 miles with me) and Kathryn ( who trashed her knee on the trail run the week prior) they were there to greet me and congratulate me on my 31 mile accomplishment!

I was blown away! The support and encouragement from my friends through out the day moved me to tears. Tears of joy and tears of celebration!  They presented me with a homemade personalized medal! #SUPERBLING  I will cherish it forever! It is happily displayed on my medal rack. It is my #1 all time favorite!

 

imageSo here is to a great week of training and most of all great friends! Friends make seemingly impossible task doable!

Getting real with my #ULTRAredemption

My quest for my #ULTRAredemption got REAL last week when I officially registered for the CedarIsland40. Which might I add is actually 42 miles!

It is official!

It is official!

I was excited and felt like I would vomit at the same time.  I immediately sent out an email to my running peeps letting them know of my quest.  I need their support and to hold me accountable for what I have sought out to do.  My first Ultra attempt was a FAIL!   A novice mistake I learned from.  Don’t get me wrong…I was very proud of the fact I accomplished 28 miles on a very technical trail with limited lung function before being pulled.  It just did not end the way I intended.

Despite not being able to finish I was all smiles cheering on runners at the finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48- Pine Mountain 40, Pine Mountain, GA

Despite not being able to finish I was all smiles cheering on runners at the finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48- Pine Mountain 40, Pine Mountain, GA

So I am calling a “DO OVER”  My sister (Amy),one of my biggest supporters, is the race director for the Cedar Island 40. Its pretty exciting!  From day one she said you are either volunteering or running.  Running it is!  Ironically, the race starts in the same city where I ran my first half marathon in 2009.  I will take this as a good sign. Amy says I got this…I appreciate her vote of confidence.

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

Cedar Island 40 route along coast of NC

Almost two months out I am already way more prepared than last time.  You have to love fellow bloggers who offer so much insight and information.  Many thanks to ActiveHarmony for an awesome book referral Relentless Forward Progress A Guide to running Ultramarathons.  I love it!  Its been an awesome resource for general information and training plans.  Thanks to a fellow tweep @JieWie I picked up a Nathan Endurance Vest, 2-liter. It arrived tonight and is super light and comfortable.  I cannot wait to test it out this weekend.

Coach Chennelle....Do you want to tell this Badass...you skipped out on your training! I don't!

Coach Chennelle….Do you want to tell this Badass…you skipped out on your training! I don’t!

Since my last ultra attempt I have added Crossfit into my weekly training.  I started last April and LOVE IT! My strength training in the past was hit or miss.  Actually more of a miss.  Crossfit has been an awesome addition to my weekly routine.  I have found a great Box and coaches at Raleigh Crossfit.   Coach Chennelle, Coach & Owner, of Raleigh Crossfit, was kind enough to review  and provide input to my training plan.  She has adapted my weekly Crossfit training and had me add in additional mobility and core work.  In addition, she has asked me to give her an weekly update of my training.  I am thrilled to do that and have the additional accountability for accomplishing my weekly training.  Chennelle was kind enough to provide input into my training so I don’t want to let her down.  I got to put in the work to get this thing DONE!

20140204-200620.jpgSo I am ready! Now it is time to commit to the training and make it happen! Advice welcome!

Down and Dirty… Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC Recap

I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I registered for the Charlotte, NC Tough Mudder as part of deal with my buddy Kathryn.

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

She agreed to run the Twin Cities Marathon with me if I would do Tough Mudder.  DEAL! I registered and then read and watched the obstacle videos! Artic enemia, electric eel, electric shock therapy… what had I gotten myself into? I did not fret to long as I was excited about a new challenge and a running buddy for my fall marathon.

Team #BAMR Bad Ass MUDA Runners was officially formed and the recruiting for additional team members began. We recruited 12 team members but lost 3 prior to the event.  We were 9 members strong on race day!

Team #BAMR

Team #BAMR

crossfitHaving never participated in a mud run I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how to train.  The running was a no brainer for me it was the sheer lack of muscular strength that was of concern.   Luckily Kathryn had that figured out for us and talked me into a trying out Raleigh Crossfit. I had heard of Crossfit, seen numerous tweets about it but honestly had no idea what it was.  I went into my trial class not knowing what to expect (or what to wear) and left KNOWING I would schedule my foundations training ( to learn the 9 fundamental Crossfit movements) and add Crossfit to my weekly training routine.  I was hooked from day 1. I maintained my marathon training and incorporated in 3 Crossfit training days.  I love CF so much I have actually dropped a running day ( 3 post CF marathons completed and no regrets). The addition of CF to my training regimen has been  very beneficial to me.              ( perhaps a future post)

Obstacle recap, of the ones I can remember, from the Charlotte, NC event. Weather was overcast, chilly upper 40’s.

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  • To get to the starting line you must scale a small wall.  Don’t let the size fool you! I had a friend fall, crack a rib, and tear her intercostal muscle on this very wall. In complete BEAST mode she completed the course with the help of her team.  You go Sarah S! The day of our race, the medics were tending to a fellow mudder whom had injured themselves attempting the wall.  Be careful!
  • Running- the running between the  obstacles was similar to single track trail running.  Uneven surfaces, roots, rocks, holes, you name it.  Luckily, I had spent many miles on the trails during training. Tip: Leave the asphalt when you can and train on single track trail
  • Kiss of Mud– surprisingly I was able to  to do on my hands and knees based on height of the wire

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

  • Glory Blades– no issues with a foot boost, from team mate,  to pull myself to the top and and slide down the other side.
  • Arctic Enema– mentally and physically HORRIBLE! The freezing water completely stunned me, I could not catch my breath.  I pulled myself together, went under the wooden plank only to be welcomed by huge ice cubes on the other side. When I made it out I had an full body ice cream headache.  Torture! Thankfully they had Mylar sheets to help warm you up.  All I could think about was those poor people on the Titanic. Tip: close your mouth,  jump out far, to get to as close to the plank wall as possible.  
  • Cliffhanger– must have been a none event.  I don’t even remember it.
  • Warrior Carry– no problem, got practice with this in crossfit. I proudly carried Kayla whom is 2 inches taller than me! Tip: have team wait to distribute carry based on size and weight.
  • Balls to the Wall– no problem, due to notches in the wall for foot placement.  I was actually surprised they were there.  Would be much harder without.
  • Hold you Wood– no problem, the name of this obstacle brought many laughs and crude comments from our co-ed team with only 2 male members.  
  • Mud Mile– FAVORITE!  I found slugging through, and sliding into  the cold mud fun.  There were plenty of fellow mudders available to pull you up the dirt mound as needed.  
  • Berlin Walls– this one takes team work to hoist team mates up high enough to pull themselves over the wall. The drop from the top to the other side can be intimidating thankfully the landing is softened by a think layer of mulch.  Tip: don’t rush your drop from top of the wall.  Attempt to execute a safe landing.
  • Boa Constrictor– no issues other than being in a confined space. The pipe was so small I could not crawl on my forearms.  I had to side crawl.
  • Just the Tip– I did not make it past the first section and dropped into the cold green water.  Possibly easier without gloves.  Our 1 team mate who made it the entire way was glove free! Way to go LIZARD!

    Lizard!

    Lizard!

  • Electric Eel- UGG! Dive in FAST, low,crawl, shimmy, whatever it takes as low and fast as you can to get out.  It sucked! It was worse for some than others.  It was not as bad as I thought. I feel like having on two shirts help insulate me from the shocks. Tip: wear two shirts, keep you mouth closed and head down. 
  • King of the Mountain– Fun! team work is needed to boost each other up some of the bales.  Tip: use the twine to help pull yourself up.
  • Cage Crawl- I am very comfortable in the water so I had no issues with this obstacle.  Due to my layers of clothing I felt like I was floating.  For those not comfortable being on their back in water this could be tough.
  • Walk the Plank– Close your mouth, exhale from you nose ( or hold it) and JUMP! I forgot to exhale and got muddy water up my nose YUK! No fear of moderate heights no issues.  
  • Unknown Cargo Net Obstacle- Jump across water to a cargo net. If you miss you go in the water.  I caught the cargo net but lost my grip and fell into the water.  My left shoulder has hurt ever since:(   Way to go Sundrop and J-Wow for mastering this one!
  • Funky Monkey– HARD! After teammate slipped off first rung and fell onto her back on the metal platform (Thankfully she was fine) I decided it was not worth the risk.  I jumped into the cold water and swam across. The bars are slick and placed 1.5 feet apart. Way to go J-Wow who effortlessly tackled this obstacle!
  • Everest– I made it on 1st attempt! Thankful for the strong volunteers at the top who caught me and pulled me up.  Tip: seek out the group of volunteers that look strong enough to hoist you up. 
  • Electroshock TherapySUPER HORRIBLE! I swear they “juiced” up the shock on this one.  They hurt!  To make it worse the ground was thick, slick mud.  I kept falling and had trouble getting up (envision the person in the horror movie running away and they keep falling…that was me) . To increase the fun they placed  a huge hay bale, that had to be scaled right in the middle of the shock torture.  Scaling a hay bale while getting shocked non stop was ridiculous.  I finally make it over the bale only to face plant into thick mud. At this point, I was laughing out of fear I would never make it out.  Finally, I made it.  We were all so disoriented, we did not realize Mama Bean was stuck not able to get over the bale.  Fortunately, she decided to go around.  Sorry Mama Bean:( Tip: attempt to go as fast as you can.  Find mental strength in knowing this is the last obstacle
DONE!

DONE!

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

My random tips:

  • My only injury...random

    My only injury…random

    CLOTHES-Wear old clothes and shoes they will be NASTY! I wore long sleeve compression shirt under my team shirt.  It kept me warm and was a great barrier against the mud and shocks.  Capri pants and high socks! Its not the best look going but it provided a great protective barrier from scrapes and scratches.  We had BadAss Socks 🙂

  • GLOVES- I wore them and was glad I had them.  Half the team had them half did not.  Really no advantage just preference.
  • HAIR-If you hair it long wear it up or braided.  If you hair is short like mine…brace yourself for a seriously bad,muddy, hair day.
  • SHOES-We did not duck tape shoes.  Just tie tight and double knot.  Nobody lost their shoes.  The trails were littered with duck tape that fell of peoples shoes.
  • DROP BAG- Bring flip flops to wear after you toss your shoes, towel to dry off with after the COLD rinse down, change of clothes. Qtips to get a jump on your ear cleaning. $ if you want more beer or food. Phone so you can take post race photos ( we did not take on course..too risky)

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer!  Great cause!

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer! Great cause!

Overall thoughts– For me Tough Mudder is a “One and Done”.  It was fun, a good experience, new challenge,  but I did not finish with a strong desire to do another one.  It was a great team effort and I am most grateful for the friendships I enhanced and developed with my awesome team mates. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life. Tough Mudder is truly is a TEAM event.  Recruit as many “like minded” people as you can and stick together!  No team? No problem, there are plenty of volunteers and mudders at the obstacles helping each other out. The support is amazing!

Was it the toughest most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done? For me no. Ultra/marathon running and some Crossfit WODs(work out of the day) are far more physically and mentally challenging…FOR ME. The experience is so personal based on an individuals physical condition, experiences, and fears. For someone with fear or heights or water I think Tough Mudder would be mental torture.

Tough Mudder is a a quality event that will not disappoint! Give it a try! Getty Muddy! You really don’t know what you are capable of until you give it a try.

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event...

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event…

 

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only their to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM!

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only there to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM! We were so glad to have him! Especially SunDrop whom was the lone male team mate!

Finish & Enjoy…Big Sur Marathon Plan

8th State, 13th Marathon, and my #1 all time favorite!

Big Sur International Marathon, April 28, 2013!

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Wow, is all I can say.  Everything about the Big Sur Marathon weekend exceeded my expectations.  Big Sur, is sitting pretty in my number #1 best overall marathon in every category.  I have often pondered keeping a running ranking of my marathon adventures and this just might inspire me to do that.

For anyone who asked about my experience I explained that Big Sur is the only marathon I have ever run that I enjoyed almost every single mile. If it weren’t for the uphill on mile 25, I would say I enjoyed EVERY mile. The pain of mile 25 was brief, just generally not appreciated so late in the race.

2, 765 miles!

2, 765 miles!

So what made the Big Sur miles so much more enjoyable than the previous 316.4? (12 x 26.2 + extra two miles on my ultra attempt) .  I am not exactly sure, but I will attribute it to  having just one single goal – Finish & Enjoy!

MY BIG SUR MARATHON PLAN! 

( taken directly from pre-race communication)

This is a difficult course and you should plan on adding extra minutes to your usual marathon time. Walk if necessary, Enjoy the spectacular music and scenery along the course and don’t worry about your time!

 I took the pre-race communications to heart and put them to action. The last thing I wanted to do was travel 2,765 miles and beat myself up over a missed PR. A mere 13 days after the attacks on Boston, just being able to run, in honor of those who cannot was a gift in itself.  

Despite Big Sur being my all time favorite marathon, I have struggled to feel inspired to put it into words.  (Hence,the delay of the race recap).  So I thought I would let my pictures tell the story

View from terrace

View from terrace

Lodging– Hotel Pacific, located right next to the expo, and block away from marathon transportation was fabulous.  Our room was huge and full of amenities.  It included a sitting area with gas fireplace, small dinning area with fridge, bathroom perfect for sharing with two showers etc  We loved it and felt like we were in a honeymoon suite.

http://www.hotelpacific.com/

courtyard view from room

Pre Marathon Relaxation

Pre Marathon Relaxation, while listening to Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” Michael Martinez

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Race Expo- Monterey Conference Center. Was easy to navigate, staffed with super friendly volunteers, and hosted lots of great vendors.  We typically breeze through the expos(you’ve seen one you have seen them all) but this one we took our time to enjoy! My highlight was officially meeting Runners World, Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso! I was giddy with excitement and was able to contain myself! The previous November, Bart gave me a “fist bump” during the Richmond, VA Marathon when I spotted him on the sidelines.  I am a huge fan!  His book My Life On The Run, is a great running read.

Bart Man!

Me and Bart Man!

Expo continued…the support for Boston was everywhere!

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

We met Michael Martinez, Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” who famously sits at mile 13.1 and plays his  Grand Piano. We purchased his CD.

Laura and i with David

Laura and I with Michael

No pictures of the expo massages but they were awesome and well worth $1 a minute!

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Saturdays Highway 1 adventures – We drove through Monterrey Cannery Row. Although fabulous, and the best aquarium I have ever seen, we skipped visiting the  Monterrey Bay Aquarium in an effort to stay off our feet. Instead, we drove the 17-mile drive,  lunched in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and then headed down Highway 1 to Big Sur.

The Lone Cypress, one of the sights on the 17 mile drive

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Lunch at Hogs Breath Inn!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation...your hat is on its way!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation…your hat is on its way!

Laura at Big Sur Bakery...too full to partake

Laura at Big Sur Bakery…too full to partake

ahhh...the view.  Gotta love Big Sur

ahhh…the view. Gotta love Big Sur

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

amazing coastal  views....

amazing coastal views….

starting line coffee

starting line coffee

Marathon Day- Early start as we loaded the buses to Big Sur at 4:15am.  Luckily, we only had to walk a block from our hotel. Its an early start, but its a major effort on the event organizers to transport runners 26.2 miles down two laned Highway 1.  In addition to the marathon Big Sur offers a Relay, 21, 10.6, 9, and 5k mile option.

1st race I have even participated in that offered water, coffee and food at the start!  Super bonus points for that!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Starting line

Starting line

Two Thumbs up from Bart Yasso prior to the start!

Pre-start Bart Sighting

Pre-start Bart Sighting

6:45am and we were off and running!  As part of my Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan, I brought my phone to take pictures along the way.  The official description describes Big Sur Marathon  as a Point to point, moderately difficult, with live entertainment on the course. Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

BigsurElevation

I often stopped to catch a glace of where I had come from.  The view looking back is just as good as the views ahead.  It is 360 degrees of sheer beauty.

Mile 5 9 guess, looking back

Mile 5 (best guess), looking back

Just when I thought we might escape the famous headwinds, the course opened up and so did the wind. It was wicked but manageable.  Even the cows ran for cover….I was not as fortunate

Cows retreating from the winds

Cows retreating from the winds

If the winds were not enough , we soon caught the first glimpses of Hurricane Point (550 foot climb over 2 miles) starting at mile 10. I am proud to say I slayed Hurricane Point by running the entire way.  I was determined not to stop!

1st views of Hurricane Point

1st views of Hurricane Point

Way before you could see the Bixby Bridge, which famously signifies the halfway point on the marathon course, you could hear the the tones  from the Grand Piano.  It was absolutely surreal and uplifting. One of my favorite memories.  As  I approached the Bixby Bridge,  I found myself overcome with emotion and fought back unexpected tears. My best guess is they were tears of shear joy as i was having an awesome run! I attempted a short video that really does it no justice at all

The mile markers, each 7 foot tall, where the BEST, I have ever seen. They ranged from completely stupid, funny, to inspiring.  They had a unique way of telling a story and really personalizing the marathon to the region, local runners,  and area. Take a look for yourself- Big Sur Mile Marker Project.

13.1 Mile Marker

13.1 Mile Marker

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez...this makes me laugh

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez…this makes me laugh

Windy shot taken by a fellow runner.  My skirt looks like I was about to take flight.

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The end was in view, first glimpses of CarmelIMG-20130428-00192

Fresh strawberries at mile 24! Yummy!

Mile 24 treat!

Mile 24 treat!

The description for mile marker 25 says it all, about my only UNenjoyable mile of the entire course.  This “Doomsayer” needs to lighten up! You may be feeling a bit down at this point, but with the finish just over a mile away, the end to your race is just over the next hill. 

Doom uphill Mile!

Doom uphill Mile!

Finally, 26.2! The race Directors and organizers, donned in their BSIM Blue blazers, shook the hands of participants as they cross the finish!  Total class act! This years finish line included  the Boston Marathon Executive Director who personally shook the hands of EVERY Boston 2 Big Sur participant. It was amazing to watch as . Emotions were still very raw and many were moved to tears.

My bonus was a congratulations hug from Bart Yasso! Promise I am a fan and not a stalker!

With Laura, being a Boston 2 Big Sur participant, we enjoyed the awesome finishers tent that overlooked the finish line. I only joined her after I partook in the free 10 minute massage.

We did it!

We did it!

Laura’s Medals

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

It was amazing! Pleased with my 4:54:47 finish, which included 2 pit stops, and numerous video and  photo ops. It was not my fastest, nor my slowest but was my STRONGEST physical and mental FINISH.  My Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan carried me through.  My only expectation was to enjoy and take it all in.  I accomplished that an much more!

I do have to credit Raleigh CrossFit, which I included in the last month of my training plan. I feel a new addiction brewing! #RaleighStrong!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

035One and done in California! Big Sur International  Marathon was an excellent choice! This race should be on every Marathon bucket list!

Mark you calendars registration for 2014 opens July 15th.  It typically sells out in a matter of days so don’t delay. Register, train, and Finish & Enjoy!

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