Running…Post 100 Miler, Yeti100!

You always remember your first. Almost four months post Yeti100! The memories are fresh and I am still beaming with pride daily at my accomplishment.  It was certainly my largest running accomplishment to date.

Yeti100 video recap thru the eyes of my sweet 16 year old daughter, and our  boxer dogs!

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Madelyn was so proud of her Mom! I was so glad she was part of my journey!

How do you top that? Do I need to top that? These are questions I continue to ask myself and don’t have the answer to.  I am constantly asked “Whats next?” almost as another epic accomplishment it is expected of me.  I don’t have an answer.  I do know,  I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself and unless my heart is in it…it won’t happen. I wanted the Yeti 100 buckle so bad. I poured my heart, soul, and six months of training into making it happen.  I am confident that strong yearning was the foundation for my strong mental state that made my 23hr 52 min journey so pleasant. Yes I said pleasant! I was a happy runner all the way!

Yeti 100 ink! My first Tattoo.....from the lady who said I would never get one! Never say NEVER!

Yeti 100 ink! My first Tattoo…..from the lady who said I would never get one! Never say NEVER! This Tattoo pays! As the 25th Yeti Trail Runner to get a Yeti Tattoo, I have lifetime free entry into Yeti Trail Running events! Jason Green, Founder, is such a cool guy!

2017…I will bask in the continued glory of my accomplishment.  When I feel the tug and yearning for another event, I will know it’s time.  No hurry! Run and enjoy! That is what it is all about…JOY! Sheer JOY! That is why I do it!

BoxerRunner100 going for Triple digits!

Its happening! 111 days from now I will be running The Yeti 100 Endurance Run on the Virgina Creeper Trail.  

At the finish line of  my 75.7 miles at Croatan24, my running buddy Jeremy approached me and asked if I had another 25 miles/6 hours in me.  I don’t believe my response is “pg” rated.  However it was a valid question since the conversations of me potentially running my 1st hundred miler started a few weeks earlier while volunteering at the Mother Earth Brewing Iron Clad Half Marathon.  Jennifer and my sister Amy are 100% responsible for getting this conversation started.

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Jeremy and me post 100 mile discussion.  He ran 13.1 and I earned my beer volunteering.  Just realized he has on his Yeti hat…we did not know at the time we would both be running Yeti100! (just another sign…..)

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The 100 mile instigators….Jennifer and my sister Amy! ( pic prior to my Ultra Redemption Run)

The “100 mile” seed was planted but no firm plans of when it might happen.  Little did I know the plans were being made for me.  Monday morning, as I lay in bed, post Croatan24, I called Amy ( after all she is 100% responsible for my running addiction) we were causally chatting about Croatan24 and she said “well I guess you are running a 100 miler. ”  I said “What are you talking about?”  She said, “Read your email”.  I immediately, went to my email and saw a confirmation as a participant in the Graveyard100!  OMG! I thought I would vomit! I had been “signed up” a form of “race bullying” at its best by  friend and Race Director Brandon Wilson.  What a tremendous vote of confidence.  Brandon is tough! A first class heckler and taunter but deep down inside he is a very sincere supporter and has been a part of all my ultra quest.  Thanks Brandon!

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Highfive from RD, Brandon Wilson after my 75.7 miles at Croatan24.  Great 24hour event, now Tideland24! (I am living proof you can run up to  50 miles a week and gain weight! OMG…at my heaviest and had no idea! )

Fast forward a few weeks, and due to personal issues Brandon was not going to be Rd’ing Graveyard100.  I was crushed.  I did not want to attempt this 100 miler if he was not RD.  My excitement waned and I was silently on a quest for another 100.  That week I had been talking to my husband about riding the Virgina Creeper Trail again in the summer. We had two prior visits and we loved it.  I really wanted to go back.

BOOM…the running Gods dropped the Yeti100 Endurance Run on the Virgina Creeper into my Facebook feed.  I don’t lie…it literally happened just like that.  Wow, this was meant to be! Dan (my hubby) and I discussed the idea of me running my first 100 miler.  We don’t often discuss my running, while he is very supportive, I am a very independent person who does not often seek input of others.  This was a big deal and I wanted his input and support.  He agreed it was meant to be and I should do it.

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My running widower Dan! He is awesome! Thanks Dan! Post my fist ULTRA FAIL! Pine Moutain 40!

Registration opened day after Thanksgiving and I registered myself and Jeremy.  Poor Jeremy lost his debit card so I fronted him the cash and got him registered.  After all I was not going at this alone.  I needed him there!

Training is in full swing! I am feeling great and absolutely appreciate the support  and encouragement from my family and friends.  The confidence my family and friends have in me give me that extra push.  I want this, and I am determined to make this happen!

“Proceed as if Success is inevitable” ~ unknown

Pics from  Grayson Highlands Half /50l April 2016 & #yeti100 Endurance Run Training 22 miler June 4th.

 

All friendships have limits, and my “tried and true” running friends threw up their hands in surrender as I ventured down my ultra running path.  While absolutely supportive, they asked that I call in reinforcements.  Hence, my friendship with Anj and Fred, previously limited to twitter and Instagram blossomed! Huge thanks to Anj and Fred for joining me on the training run last weekend.  It was so much fun!

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Running friends “Tried and True”..Kate, Kmac, me, Becky at Grayson Highlands half/50k! Runbumtours.com

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It was an honor to meet Jason Green, founder of Yeti Trail Runners and RD for Yeti100 at Grayson Highlands.  He was so encouraging of my quest. What an authentic guy!

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Yeti100 Endurance Run..33 mile training run with my #internetfriends #newfriends Anj and Fred!

 

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Yeti friends!

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along the creeper

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I found Jesus on the Creeper! This will be comforting as I pass three times!

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Friends helping friends….the second half of run got hot!

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Officially my #foundchange nemesis  Our past two trail runs she found $

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This selfie does not do this rolling hills farm justice. It was beautiful!

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Done 33 miles….trestle #1` of 141 on the Virgina Creeper!  Beautiful run. I cannot wait until September!

 

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Elevation…Yeti!00….Thankfully only one trip back up!  Planning on running than in July.

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Until then…Cheers to friends old and new and many more miles!

Jordan Lake 12-Hour Challenge Recap

imageA short and sweet race cap for the 1st Annual Jordan Lake 12- Hour Challenge.  A challenge it was! This single track trail around the banks of Jordan Lake is sure to humble the most seasoned trail runner.  It was deceivingly beautiful and torturous at the same time. Doable for sure, likely a little easier for those who are seasoned at running hills. Flatlanders beware! Straycat runner wrote a hilarious and accurate  description of the 2.93 mile loop. It is too good not to share.

“This 2.9 mile loop will feel more like 7, you poor fool.  The trail surface is practically interlaced with a labyrinth of roots, and some one (probably Brandon) trucked in several metric tons of rocks.  There ARE indeed two road crossings, but you probably won’t see a car so you cannot depend of getting clipped by a vehicle to bring a welcome end to your run.  There ARE no water crossings, but there are several mud holes that you can carefully pick your way around until you can’t at which time you don’t worry so much about avoiding it. There ARE many glimpses of Jordan Lake… if you DARE to look up from the patch of imminent danger that greets each stride (or if you stop to take a leak). Most trail runners would consider the course moderately hilly, but I am a road runner so I would consider the trail “burro with a pack” hilly or “mountain goat” hilly.  Or “if it was any more hilly I would need a grappling hook” hilly.”

Read the rest of Straycat’s race recap! Its a great read!

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Jordan Lake 12-Hour Challenge helped me prove to myself that I am capable to achieving success in a  trail ultra.  While I am well beyond my Pine Mountain, GA trail ultra fail, it still haunts me.  I have since successfully conquered the distance (and then some) but this was my first attempt at ultra trail distance (on technical trail). Final redemption achieved with a 50k finish!

DONE!

DONE! me, Amy ( my flat lander sister who declared  she HATES F’in HILLS), Becky and Kmac. Ultra Virgins no More!

In addition to my personal redemption, I was overjoyed and beaming with pride with my #BRFs ( Best Running Friends…Kmac and Becky) successful completion of their FIRST ULTRA! Both Kmac and Becky have been tremendous supporters of my jump into the ultra distance.  They have logged many miles with me during my insane training regimen and offered support and encouragement along the way.  I am thrilled with their 50k accomplishment!  Welcome to the “ultra side” of running gals!  Looking forward to our next adventure at Croatan24

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Big thanks to Erin, Doug, and Brandon for a successful inaugural event! The stocked aid station, on course COLD water, and happy volunteers all contributed to this fabulous event.  The ice cold water was such a bonus in my book!

This on course ice chest with cold water was AWESOME! If I could have jumped in it I would have in the heat of the day!

This on course ice chest with cold water was AWESOME! If I could have jumped in it I would have in the heat of the day!

Although in the midst of running this event,  I declared ” One and done on this one.” A few days following, I decided it was totally worth running again.  After 365 days of recovery, I should be good to go! If you are up for a challenge this is a great small event that I promise you will enjoy. Maybe not during…but certainly will appreciate it when you are done! If it were easy everyone would do it! #Runlocal!

Pictorial Recap…

You cannot beat the ultra environment!  We met Jim Kitchen the previous weekend when we volunteered at Cedar Island 40 ( sister Amy is race director).  We razzed him about joining us for the 12 hour challange.  We were thrilled when he showed up to support our efforts and cheer us on!  In the words of Brandon Wilson " In an ultra event you are a name not a number."  So true! The small events lends itself to a very personal environment!

You cannot beat the ultra environment! We met Jim Kitchen the previous weekend when he was running CedarIsland40 and  we volunteering.       (Sister Amy is race director). We razzed him about joining us for the 12 hour challenge.   We were thrilled when he showed up to support our efforts and cheer us on! In the words of Brandon Wilson ” In an ultra event you are a name not a number.” So true! The small events lends itself to a very personal environment!

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After a week of rain, there was plenty of mud! Adds to the fun!

After a week of rain, there was plenty of mud! Adds to the fun!

cold Mountain Dew never tasted so good.

cold Mountain Dew never tasted so good.

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This was not even one of Brandon Wilson’s famous torturous twist

 

Sister Selfie attempt...it was that humid and muggy in the am

Sister Selfie attempt…it was that humid and muggy in the am

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Never under normal circumstances would I eat m&m's mixed with potato chips!  They were yummy!

Never under normal circumstances would I eat m&m’s mixed with potato chips! They were yummy!

 

Kmac and her PBR sweat band.  I literally almost fell over in laughter when she  past me on the trail!  I spend a lot of time with this girl and have never seen this jewel!

Kmac and her PBR sweat band. I literally almost fell over in laughter when she past me on the trail! I spend a lot of time with this girl and have never seen this jewel!

 

Running in Circles Croatan24

Admittedly, I told my sister more than once she was CRAZY for running around in circles. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to run around in circles, sleep deprived, for 24 hours? Despite her numerous attempts to to convince me it was “So Fun”, I remained a non believer with ZERO interest.

Amy( my sister) with Ashley and I at the CedarIsland40 finish!

Amy( my sister) with Ashley and I at the CedarIsland40 finish!

Funny how things change!  Hours fresh off my ultra redemption run in April. Ashley, Amy and I sat around the breakfast table and discussed our next goal.  I remember vividly Ashley saying “lets do 100k at Croatan24.”  After running 10 hours with Ashley the day before I had become rather trust worthy of her. No offense to my sister(Amy), but Ashley’s validation and enthusiasm about running around in circles solidified for me it was something I must give a try at least once.  Just like that, with my feet and toes trashed from 42.54 miles, I was now setting my sights on 62 miles! Gotta love a stretch goal!

 

With 7 months to prepare, and one successful ultra under my belt I was ready to tackle the 100k.  One thing was for sure, I had to do something different with my feet or I would never achieve my goal.

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

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

Bryon Powell author of  Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running ultramarathons referenced John Vonhof’s book Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes. WOW!  Tons of information regarding foot care. Something  I had never given any thought.  Foot care and blister prevention took top priority on my training list.  I religiously, scrubbed callouses, conditioned my feet, taped pre-run with Kinseo Tex Tape, and  lubricated  with RunGoo. Additionally,  I  ditched my Asics Gel Kayanos and moved to Hoka Stinson Lites.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these shoes and am a HOKA convert for life. I have never felt this strongly about a shoe before in my life.  #HokaLove!  5-6 months into my foot-care routine, I was able to run “naked” with no taping just lubrication and my injinji socks.  Major milestone! If you struggle with blisters or other foot aliments I highly recommend John’s book.

November finally arrived and I was ready to tackle the 100k. I was physically and mentally ready.  I was excited and organized!  I was going to be prepared for whatever the 2.33 miles loops had in store for me.

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Ready for 24 hours of running or 100k..whatever comes first!

Ready for 24 hours of running or 100k..whatever comes first!

At 8:00am, with beautiful weather we were off and running in circles! Due to trail maintenance at the typical Crotan24 location, this years race was moved to an alternate location within the national forest.  The trail 2.33 miles in length, was generally hard packed sand, minimal roots, pinestraw, and several large sandpits.  The sandpits added a aggravating challenging.  Croatan veterans were vocally frustrated by the sandy nature of the trail. The fine sand and silt wreaked havoc on participants feet.  Having nothing to compare to, I found the trail slightly challenging but nothing I could not handle.  I was prepared!  The sand and silt was not going to slow me down!

Sharing the trail with Ultramarathon legand and world record holder Valmir Nunes  far right)  He lapped us the entire time:) Honored to share the course with such greatness!

Sharing the trail with Ultramarathon legend and world record holder Valmir Nunes ( far right) He lapped us the entire time:) He had one speed…FAST!  Honored to share the course with such greatness!

We agreed to a 6:2 run walk segment from the very start.  This proved to be a great ratio. The first 13 miles went by really fast.  It was a great day and I was feeling good.  At 14 miles, I took my first “pit stop”  for foot maintenance.  Good call, as despite my Dirty Girl Gaiters the fine silt and sand had found its way through the fine mesh in the toe box of my Hokas.  So thankful, I purchased gaiters the week prior. A new running staple for me.

Mile 14 Foot care preventative maintenance! clean feet, fresh socks, and shoe change

Mile 14 Foot care preventative maintenance! clean feet, fresh socks, and shoe change

Ashley, while watching my foot routine some how found a gnarly cacti! Thankfully, the race crew spent much of the day before clearing cacti off the trail Thanks Jimmy B!.  Eeeeek!

Ashleys Cacti= OUCH!

Ashley’s Cacti= OUCH!

Ashley’s foot care consisted of…nothing!  She and her Luna Sandals continue to amazes me!  I thought for sure the sand would cause her issues. Throughout the day, I would inquire if her feet were ok.  They were always GREAT! I finally stopped asking! Amazing!

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Ashley’s smart wool toe socks and Luna Sandals

We ran and ate throughout the day.  Heather, the race directors wife, provides a spectacular spread of food throughout the race. The variety of snacks, drinks, and hot food was over the top. Any race that provides a menu is a race for me! Its amazing how food I would not typically eat taste so good when you are running.  I was happily fueled by hamburgers, orange peanut butter crackers, salted potato,  BBQ chips, Fat M&Ms aka. peanut M&M, pizza, grilled cheese, coke, and Mt. Dew.  On a normal day, I would not consider eating most of that.  But on that day it was Yummy! Great job Heather and RacENC!

Road side str

Road side stretch where the runners set up camp!  Also, home to the lap count tent and FOOD tent!

I took my second foot care “pit stop” around mile 30.  I was sticking to my plan to change socks and shoes every 15 miles and apply fresh tape.  Mile 30 and my feet were holding up nicely.  I developed a large blister on the pad of my right foot.  Since it was not weight bearing, I let it be and applied extra tape.  My toenails, cut as short as possible, were tender and I knew I was developing blisters beneath the toenail on my big toes.  I fully expected this.

Foot care round two

Foot care round two

I was thrilled my daughter joined me for the weekend and visited me during the day!

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I ran and Madelyn took in all the sites!

I ran and Madelyn took in all the sites from my chair with a warm blanket!

Still having fun and enjoying myself, day turned to night and we were still running our 6:2 segments. Amy and Jennifer had dropped back, so Ashley and I continued to log the miles together.  The evening brought cooler temperatures but nothing a light jacket could not handle.  I did change into dry clothes and was thankful for that choice.

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The night running was peaceful.  By this time many participants had hit the 50k and 40 mile mark and thrown in the towel.  I am not sure if this was their plan all along but I do think the sandy trail conditions caused many to cut their run short.  We were still clipping away the miles and running in distance PR territory(All miles after 42.54 for me and after 50 for Ashley). There was never any doubt we would not achieve our 100k goal.  It was just a matter of when.  Ashely had a crazy idea we would finish by 10pm giving us time to check out a local pub she had heard about.  I told her she was crazy!  After a little re-calculating (which took some time as our brains were not functioning at full capacity), she realized the suds would have to wait.  Plan B was quickly formed and made sure Amy’s husband stocked the fridge at the house.

I had never run so long at night.  Fortunately, for Amy I gave her my extra batteries for her headlamp.  Unfortunately for me, my headlamp batteries started to drain and my light was getting dimmer by the minute.  It never died completely, the flashlight I packed worked awesome and was really bright.  Next 24 hour race, I will have a bag of batteries and possibly a brighter headlamp.

My Garmin Forerunner 310xt, with a 12 hour battery, impressed the heck out of me by lasting for 15 hours.  When it died, Ashley became our 6:2 alarm for the next two hours.  It was rather funny or at least we thought it was.  She mimicked the beep, beep, beep, beepbeepbeepbeepbeep perfectly.

The final laps seemed longer than usual.  15 hours in, we finally broke our 6:2 segment and walked more. We were so close to being done.  The first glimpse of the light from the lap counting tent was a welcome sight and the signal of another lap complete!

Finally, after 17:47:02 hours and 27 laps we were DONE! Goal ACHIEVED! 62.44 MILE! 

(Congrats to Amy(55+) and Jennifer(50) on their respective PR’s.  Also, for hanging out and waiting for us to finish!)

100K!

100K!

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Fantastic experience and top notch race! Brandon and Heather, RacENC, host an excellent event.   I have no complaints!  Looking forward to 2015! I have my sites on 75 miles! There is no other race where  I would rather make this attempt than Croatan24!

Bring on 75 miles in 2015!

Post 100k feet in great shape! I large blister on pad of foot.  Biggest complaint was blisters beneath toenails.

Post 100k feet in great shape! I large blister on pad of foot. Biggest complaint was blisters beneath toenails.

Despite 17 hours of grime, Ashleys feet were blister free!

Despite 17 hours of grime, Ashley’s feet were blister free! She was clearly very happy about that

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Finally the 5 year running HEX, with my sister Amy was  lifted. After many failed attempts to race together we finally ran Croatan24! We both hit new distance pr’s! Amy- 55+ miles me- 62.44. Amy is the sole reason for my running mania. She challenged me to my first run over 5 years ago. Little did she know the monster she would create! Thanks Amy for believing in me and always pushing me to do more! LOVE U ‪#‎runningsisters‬ ‪#‎sisters‬ ‪#‎BAMR‬‪#‎ultrarunning‬ ‪#‎batshitcrazy‬.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Reversal of the “Disney Curse” & Running REDEMPTION in 2013!

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613 miles from Orlando, I shared in the joy and excitement of my sister Laury’s REDEMPTION RUN at the Disney Half Marathon!  She finally got it done! Whoo Hooo!

Her quest started with the 2011 Disney Half Marathon, which she missed due to being extremely anemic. It was to be a family event, between all of us, we would cover participation the 5k, half and full marathons.  Unfortunately, I, registered for the marathon,  feel ill to a HORRIBLE upper respiratory infection and could not even make the trip.  The 2011 Disney running weekend did not happen for either of us!  Laury recovered enough to make the trip as a spectator and cheered on the rest of the family (Sister Amy’s 1st Marathon)

Dinner Animal Kingdom Rain Forest Cafe after 2012 Disney Half Marathon/Goofy Challenge

Back with  vengeance, we registered for 2012 determined to make it happen. I registered for the Goofy Challenge ( half and full marathons) and Laury for her first marathon!  We were going to make it happen in 2012! Even if it meant wearing rubber gloves and surgical mask to fend  off germs.  Fortunately, it never came to that.  But Unfortunately, Laury fell victim to the dreaded IT BAND aggravation.  UGGGGG! Once again, Laury traveled to Orlando as a spectator…two years in a row! The good news in all of this is she was able to speak with a wonderful Run Disney representative who after hearing her story and clearly feeling sorry for her deferred her 2012 marathon entry to 2013!  This was so awesome considering the deferral period was long gone. She was not giving up!

My Fav picture!

My Fav picture 2012 Disney Marathon/Goofy Challenge!

Bummed not able to pace my sister in her first marathon, I was thrilled to take on the challenge of pacing my brother-in-law Jon in his 1st 26.2.  We had a great run and Laury…once again  a spectator happily greeted us at the finish line!

2013 was to be Laury’s year!  She was not going to miss this race again!  She was feeling great, injury free and then…the fever, raspy voice, labored breathing, tightness in the chest started 6 days before her THIRD attempt at a Disney race.  Monday, she called me and delivered the news she was not well.  Of all things chest congestion a runners nightmare…you need your lung capacity.  Having just run/attempted (whatever you want to call it) the PineMountain40 (My PineMountain BEATDOWN)  with compromised lung capacity I URGED her to go to the Dr and NOT make the same mistake I had.  She heeded my advise (major win for me since those whom work in the medical profession love to self diagnose and think they are fine) and went to the Dr. The Doc diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and prescribed meds  that in turn got her TO and ACROSS the finish line.  FINALLY! SHE DID IT! A Disney Half Marathoner Finisher. Third time is a charm:)

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete!

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete! 2013

She was elated and so was I… many miles away! I only wish I could have been there for her, as she has been for me,  to hug her sweaty neck! Way to go Laury!  You did it!

For me, one of the greatest joys of running is sharing in others milestones and  victories!  I  glean energy and motivation from others conquest and successes.  Today was no different, my excitement was such you would have thought I had completed the race myself.

Laury’s REDEMPTION run was DONE!  The irony in it all, is that just this morning (while Laury was making her way to the 5:30am start) “I” received notification at 4:46am that I had been “un-wait listed” and moved to a participant in my own personal REDEMPTION run ..The North Carolina Fat ASS 50K. (Thanks Nathan @SocialShark for telling me about #FatASS50k)    Wow! Irony, coincidence, Divine intervention…I am not exactly sure. I will take this as a sign that my quest for a personally satisfying ultra distance was meant to be!

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Cheers to you Laury, for a long overdue, job well done and well wishes to those seeking REDEMPTION in 2013!

Sargeant Laury!

Sargeant Laury!

My Pine Mountain 40.. Beatdown!

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On December 2, 2012, I attempted the most physically and mentally challenging endurance run of my life… The Pine Mountain 40 put on by the Georgia Ultarunning & Trailrunning Society.

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Jason, a 3 time Pine Mountain finisher, by far has the best description of the race I have ever read.  So good I had to share……..

“Even for well-rested runners with fresh legs, the Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run is a beatdown.  To use a familiar ultrarunning comparison, running this particular race is like being pecked to death by baby ducks.  The Pine Mountain course takes place on mild-elevation rolling hill terrain that does not feature any major notable obstacles, and runners do not face any steep mountain climbs, treacherous river crossings, or drastic temperatures.   Instead, the 40 miles of this course are home to countless minor aggravations that gradually accumulate to the point where motivation and fortitude are reduced to a frazzled exhaustion.  It is the little things that kill, and any small rock that catches the toe of a trail shoe, any tree root that is hidden underneath a pile of leaves, or any unstable slick stepping stone on a short creek crossing might be the final straw that causes a smiling runner to throw his or her hands up in exasperation and explode into profanity.”

Best Pace Scenario: Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run 12/2/12 (Race Report).

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Custom T party favor!

Jason’s detailed blog post were the extent of my research leading up to this race. I knew it was going to be a huge challenge but I must have mentally blocked that from my prefrontal  cortex ( portion of brain responsible for logic and reasoning)- issue #1.  The Pine Mountain 40 was a great way to end a very busy fall running season (3 fulls & 1 half marathon), and to celebrate Laura’s ( #BRF’s -best running friend & 50 States partner ) 40th birthday!  40 for 40!  It was so cute and catchy I could not turn her down.

In 2012, Laura and I traveled together to completed the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, The Blue Ridge Relay, Wineglass Marathon, and Richmond, VA Marathon.  We had checked off three states in 2012 so the opportunity to cross off a 4th (GA) was very enticing.  With Laura’s famous quote, that seems to fuel all of our running registrations, “We will be trained” we committed to our first ultra marathon….without a lot of thought (prefrontal cortex issue #2)

Laura & Jenn

Laura & Jenn

Ten days prior to the big event I came down with a horrible upper respiratory infection.  I  battled through it and in hind sight should have gone to the doctor.  The lingering cough, that left and returned few days prior to the race, later caused me some major issues on race day.  Being the hard headed (red head trait), determined individual that I am  I was not going to let some pesky sickness stop my quest for 40 miles (prefrontal cortex issues #3).

We road tripped down to Pine Mountain, GA, a 8hr trek from 703724_10200152136989070_1045115297_oRaleigh.  Laura rented us an awesome cabin just a few miles from the start.  We arrived in Pine Mountain, a very quaint and friendly place, just in time for the annual Christmas parade. We thought it was a great welcome!  We stocked up on supplies at the local grocery and then headed to our cabin to relax by the fire and await our 7 am Sunday start.

029One of the best decisions made (outside of inviting Dan and PJ:)), was inviting David!  David an accomplished ultra runner  cyclist, and world traveler signed up to be the official “ultra virgins” pacer!

At 7:00am, in 50 degree temps, we hit the trail for our 40 mile adventure.  We started towards the back of the pack hoping the other 150 or so runners would clear a path through the ankle deep leaves. The first section of the trail was a great stretch of running with minimal obstacles. I did not feel particularly well and was winded early. I hoped this was nerves and would pass.  Initially, I  welcomed the frequent walk breaks up the inclines but soon found I was much more comfortable running.

We made it to the 1st aid station (Fox Den Cove- 5.9 miles).  I was thrilled to see and briefly speak to  fellow “tweep” Kristin , whom was one of the unfortunate runners to be stung by the un-expectant swarm of yellow jackets. Fortunately, we missed that early torture.  We topped off our water and kept rolling.

The following  9 miles were sheer mental torture.  I am typically a sickly optimistic person but the negative thoughts of DNF(did not finish) were running ramp-id in my head. I have NEVER battled this nor ever considered dropping from a race. My breathing was labored and the uphill hikes were proving to be my biggest challenge.  They took everything I had.  I would have paid big money for a pulley system to drag my ass up the hill sides.  David, so kind, slowed his pace to stick with me and offer his ever helpful coaching and mental support.

025My struggles, both mentally and physically continued, as  I lagged behind and  eventually caught up with concerned trail mates David and Laura at the 3rd aid station (Dowell Knob-14.3 miles). My words were few and Laura knew me well enough to know I was struggling.  As Laura expressed her concerned  that I was going to end up with Pneumonia, one of the jovial GUTS volunteers chimed in  “Hell, it is way cooler to say you got pneumonia  running an ultra than just laying on the couch”  Oddly enough, I had to agree with this wise volunteer.  It was at this moment, I knew I was among fellow “bad asses” and I was going to give it all I had.  When ” all I had” was gone that would be the end of my race.   I am a huge proponent of “run your own race” so I encouraged Laura and David to go on without me.

With my much improved mental attitude, I pushed on.  I convinced myself to “live in the moment” and try to enjoy the sights and serenity the trail had to offer (despite the ever present pesky rocks, roots and inclines).  The day was nearly perfect despite the climbing temps.  The 70 degree temps were unwelcome but better than rain.  As I made it toward the 4th aid station (Rocky Point – 17.8 miles) I noticed my fingers were beginning to swell like sausages.  This was un nerving as this has never happened.  I had been hydrating with nuun, taking electrolyte tablets, and fueling with my cliff bars, and pretzels but obviously with the heat it was not enough. At the aid station, another wonderful GUTS volunteer told me to load up with some salt and suggested the bake potato pieces dipped in salt.  Yum, those were the best cold bake potato pieces I had ever eaten in my entire life. I swished them down with some Coke like “cola”…ahhh best Cola I have ever had and I was off.

I was feeling better, not optimal, but enough to keep going.  I reached the first time cut off at aid station #5 (TV Tower- 22.82 miles) with time to spare (not much but it was time) . At this point, I knew I was close to 26.2 miles, a familiar mileage accomplished many times.  I was determined at minimum to reach 26.2 and claim my Georgia marathon! My spirits lifted and I found energy from my new “line of sight  marathon goal”. and the fellow runners.  Just when I thought I was alone, and possibly the last person on the trail someone would appear.  After long stretches of solitude, just seeing another person was a welcome sight.  David, from Woodstock, GA, was so kind stopping with me when I found myself dizzy and just offering a smile, when times got tough.  We did not exchange a lot of conversation but were a support system.

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it.  Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it. Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Amy M., Atlanta, seemed to appear out of nowhere. This was Amy’s 3rd Pine Mountain 40 and she was running on a double sprained ankle.  Can you say “BAD ASS!”.  I cannot even imagine.  Amy and I shared the portion of the trail with the seemingly endless creek crossings. I am happy to report we both stayed dry!  Amy’s determination to run through an injury inspired me to keep pushing.  Thanks Amy!

At aid station #6 ( Rocky Point- 24.2  miles)  David and I were told we made up some time.  That was great news.!  We had 60 minutes to cover 3.52 to reach aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles).  This was  doable and I was confident I could cover the additional 12 miles after the next aid station to finish.  At this point I was  not concerned with the 10.5 hour cut off. I just wanted to run across the finsh line…no matter the time..

As I approached aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles) I noticed  a male runner who had been ahead of me sit down…I thought odd perhaps he is quitting  As I approached the food table, the kind GUTS volunteer informed David and I we had missed the time cut off by 12 minutes.  Uggggg how did this happen? I was shocked.  I had just found my rhythm and clearly lost track of time.  I had long given up on my Garmin that could not keep up with the terrain and lost at least 30 minutes of time.  Ironically, the same volunteer who made the funny comment about me coming down with pneumonia Is the guy who told me I could not go on.  I was stunned, I knew I could make the last 12 miles and now I couldn’t. My race was over BUT I had more to give.

My first comment was “Dang, this is my first ultra, I would have at least liked to have made it to 30 miles” they laughed at me and said ” Congratulations!  You are an ultra runner!”  I know anything over 26.2 is considered ultra distance but there was something psychological about hitting the 30 mile mark.  I considered hiking up to the trail head to get in my final two miles but I risked my ride back to the finish and it was a little crazy.  Finally, I embraced it…I didn’t have to run anymore…so I treated myself to some M&M’s!  Ahhhh they were good!

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

There was comfort in numbers, as I sat with my fellow “pulled” runners waiting for the remaining runners.  I was happy to see Amy approach.  I had not seen her for some time and was wondering if her ankle had gotten the best of her.  Next was Paige, from Atlanta, and then Rhonda a fellow Raleigh-“ite” and the Co- Race director for the Umstead 100.  Rhonda and I had passed each other several times throughout the day. She was struggling with an injury and bad cramping but kept pushing!  It wasn’t until we were “pulled” that we made the Raleigh connection.  Rhonda, with all her ultra wisdom, educated me that that I did not have a DNF, I did not quit, I was pulled due to time cut offs!  This was comforting as I was trying to process what had just happened.   Her next question to me was ” Why did you chose this race for your first ultra?”  Prefrontal Cortex issue #1….enough said!

I am at peace with my Pine Mountain 40 attempt! I did

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race....soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race….soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

not give into the negative mental tourture!  I did not quit!  I gave it what I had in my that day!

Pine Mountain 40 is the hardest most mentally and physically taxing thing I have done outside of two natural child births.  They say that God erases the pain memory of child birth so women will have more than one child. God clearly must do the same for ultras!  On the way home, I was planning my “ultra redemption” race with my sister, fellow ultra runner Amy!  –(wait listed- Mangum Track Club Fat Ass 50k) I’ll be back!

Thanks GUTs for an awesome ultra experience!

See ya on the trail!

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

 Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Laura & David Packet Pick  Up

Laura & David Packet Pick Up
Cabin!

Cabin!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room!  Too Funny!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room! Too Funny!

My running widower Dan!  He is awesome!  Thanks Dan!

My running widower Dan! He is awesome! Thanks Dan!

Grocery closed on Sunday.  Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

Grocery closed on Sunday. Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

So tired...I could not even put my compression socks on right!

So tired…I could not even put my compression socks on right!

“Space Goats” Strike Again….Adventures along the Blue Ridge Relay 2012

Last weekend I participated in my first running relay!  What an adventure living in a van for 37 hours with 5 fellow runners.  The Blue Ridge Relay relay starts in Grayson Highlands State Park,VA (near the base of Mount Rogers- VA hightest peak) and ends 212 miles later in  Asheville, NC! (the mileage varies year to year due to course adjustments)

I joined the 12 persons Designated Drinkers Team, an established relay team who have run the BRR year after year.  Last year, The Legend of the Space Goat was formed. The history of the Space Goat is cloudy at best…the only thing we know for sure is the name morphed out of the description of two of the hardest running legs that are famously deemed “Mountain Goat Hard“.    In 2012 we kept the legend alive with our “alter ego” The Space Goats.  Like Superman, the Space Goats appear out of nowhere perform good deeds, BAAAA, and usually leave without a trace.  Most never knew they encountered The Space Goats….while others only  knew by the “Space Goat Tag” on their van.

Meet the Space Goats of Van 2

Here is my pictorial recap of an awesome running adventure

Sara (van 1) kicked off the relay for us  at 10am Friday at Grayson Highlands State Park  in VA.  Sara also earned accolades for assisting  fellow space goats with various aliments. Melinda’s GI stress and Dave’s two dog bite attack. Thanks Sara for keeping Melinda and Dave in the mix. (update…the wonderful BRR Directors were able to locate the dogs and confirm they were current on their rabies shots.  No Rabies shots for Dave!)

Sara kick’in off the 1st leg for Designated Drinkers!

As Van 1 ran the first 6 legs of our relay we (Van 2) headed to exchange area 6 Bald Mountain Baptist Church, West Jefferson , NC.  On the way TheSpace Goats were called to action when fellow runners of  TEAM 621 Ninga were in need.  The Ninga’s van was stuck in the culvert along a winding mountain dirt road.  While our goat strength was not enough to free the van, luckily they were assisted by a very kind local resident ( ”  people of the woods encounter 1″) who attempted to pull them out.  Unfortunately, they had to go to plan C and call a tow truck. The Space Goats, transported Team 621 Ninga’s next two runners to the  next exchange.  Apparently, this was most helpful since Team 621 Ninga came in 9th out of 141 teams!  Way to go Ninga’s.

SAVED! 2 runners from TEAM 621 Ninga- Columbia, SC being transported Space Goat style. I am sure they will never forget….

11:00am with one save under our belt and time to kill we  took the opportunity to find some food. Our Male van mates ensured we never missed an eating opportunity, THANKS.  We enjoyed some really yummy pizza in Jefferson, NC at Pizza Plus the home of .30 cent Pizza! Not only was the pizza good but we were thoroughly entertained by “People of the woods encounter 2”  Tommy and Chelsea.  They were the nicest, simplest people who were very excited to share the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with a bunch of  running city slickers!  Tommy talked our ears off.  We found a fast friend in Tommy and a “moonshine” hook-up.  While we passed on the moonshine, we were sure glad to have Tommy on our side.

John Loaf”in with Tommy & Chelsea

Pizza Plus, in true Space Goat fashion, offered a much needed electrical outlet, for our very own lactating BAD ASS MOTHER RUNNER  Melissa “MAAA MAAA Goat”.  Deamed Bad Ass for just signing up to live in a van, run while lactating, a sheer 7 months after giving birth to her second child.  Simply Amazing!  Did I mention she forgot her battery pack for her breast-pump and remained completely calm (hence the need for the electrical outlet). Luckily, a fellow space goat from the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2, continuing the Space Goat saves theme,  just happened to have an extra ac/dc adapter so now she could pump while we rolled down the road.  No pumping and dumping here!  She was able to store the ‘liquid gold” in our cooler.  Had Lance Armstrong been with us I am sure he might have partook (cheap shot…but I hear he ate breast milk ice cream as part of his performance enhancing rituals)  Melissa was my 1st recruit to the Another Mother Run club!

Maaa Maaaa Goat happily models her breast pump!

When we finally arrived at exchange area 6, with hours to kill, we tagged a few vans,

got tagged, “doubled it down”,  and played a mind expanding time killer game we learned from Laura “Most Talkative Goat” called F*#k, Save, Kill. (did I mention we were in a parking lot of a Baptist Church)

In deep thought…Laura introduces us to our “mind expanding” game

Laura claims its a well know bar game, but none of us had heard of it.  It was very entertaining and we certainly entertained the teams around us.

Finally it was time for Van 2 to Run!  Mark Cox, our amazing Team Captain, ran it in

Mark Cox..passing the band to Van 2

and passed along the  BRR arm band to Van 2 runner # 7 Melissa “Maaaa Maaaa Goat”.

The early afternoon brought temperatures in the 80’s along with the famous humidity of NC.  While temps in the 80’s were not ideal we were fortunate it was not as hot as it had been the week prior with temps in the 90’s.  The Space Goats were prepared with lots of cold water, gatoraide, Nuun tablets, Rusty’s stash, and ice cold disposable towels. In true Space Goat fashion we shared our water and  towels with fellow runners struggling along the course.  All were appreciative and we are confident we got one struggling girl, in tears, safely to the next exchange.

“MAAA MAA Goat” rocked her run!

I am pretty sure I looked like MAAA MAAAA goat 7 months after I gave birth (My Space Goat Dream)

Melissa despite the heat had a great run and passed off the BRR band to  runner #8 Laura “Most Talkative Goat”.  Laura in an Olympic frame of mind smoked her run and blamed her faster than planned pace on “getting caught up in the Gold or Silver moment”

Laura our Talking and Caring Space Goat!

Humble “Quiet Killer Goat” kicked major ass on the road!

Next up was runner #9! Melinda “Quiet Killer Goat”  survived 37 hours with her VERY obnoxious and loud van mates, fought off stomach issues, and quietly slayed all of her runs.  One of which was Mountain Goat Hard! She was our secret weapon…quiet yet deadly.  She even claimed a kill (no animals were harmed) on her last leg and adorned a feather as her prize!  Melinda, Bad Ass Mother Runner, and  my second recruit to the Another Mother Runner Club!

“Quiet Killer Goats” prize from her run

Testosterone time, as runner #10 John “Life Saving Goat” finally hit the street.  We are so proud of our fellow Space Goat John who assisted a fellow runner who collapsed from heat related issues a mile from the next exchange.  John  quickly came to his aid, flagged down passerby for help ( who happened to have ice in their car), iced his wrist, neck and elevated his feet.  John stayed with the unresponsive runner until medical assistance arrived.  John you are amazing!  We are so proud of you!  “Space Goats Save Lives”

Eagle Scout and “Life Saving Space Goat”

Patiently waiting at exchange 11, we got word from a fellow runner that John was delayed due to assisting a runner. Next up was  Runner #11 (me) Jenn “2nd Most Talkative Goat”.

6.2 miles, Hard, but Beautiful!

I was setting off for the first official leg on the beautiful, historic Blue Ridge Parkway.  Fortunately for me, temperatures dropped rapidly and cooled off nicely….I was set up for an awesome run!

Holy Hills& Mountains, I did it! with Laura and Melinda upon my finish

Runner #11, Rusty “Beer Goat” , whose favorite carbs come from a can, was fired up and  donned in his run kilt ready for action!  Not only do Space Goats save lives but we ” never sacrifice fashion”

“Beer Goat” always planning his liquid carb loading “I don’t run for another 7-8 hours”

Rusty finished strong  and transitioned us into and extended break where we gassed up the van and grabbed some FOOD.  Next on the agenda was SLEEP!  I am unsure if anyone slept but we did get 2 hours of REST at Newland, NC Post Office exchange.  1:00 am arrived faster than we desired but the Space Goats were ready for our night runs!

Jenn and Melissa!

John and Laura with her famous $6 headlamp. We are unsure if we could really call it a headlamp.

2:00am ish illuminated Space Goats Rusty and Melinda

Our night runs were peaceful and quiet. Continuing the supportive nature of being a Space Goat we voluntarily accompanied our night runners so nobody had to run alone.  “MAA MAA goat” ran 3 accompanying night legs displaying true Space Goat Spirt and badassness (ok it is not a word but you get it).   Our goat calls “BAAAAAAAAA” were most helpful at night to identify our runners approaching exchange zones.  Near dawn John “Life Saving Goat” had a not so pleasant “people of the woods encounter 3”.  This poor resident was not very happy with the noise the relay participants that had kept her up during the night.  John, a gracious southern gentleman, apologized on behalf of the participants of the   Blue Ridge Relay.  Courteous Space Goats!

7:00am ish- Night legs done we headed to the final team exhange zone at a Baptist

FOOD

Church in  Barnardsville, NC.  These church members rolled out the red carpet and welcomed runners with a hot pancake breakfast, real bathrooms, tent for sleeping, or better yet  a padded church pew for sleeping.  These people were simply amazing and hospitable!  THANK YOU!  We fueled up, and got some rest.  Some got sleep, I got 2 hrs of REST. Most Space Goats chose the padded church pew, one lone goat, skipped the food and went straight to the tent for sleep. She  had the tent all to herself.  Clearly, the quietest she had been in 24 hrs.

Laura “Most Talkative Goat” in her private sleeping quarters

Space Goats, Rested, fueled, ready to run it home to Asheville!

Saturday morning brought drizzle, sporadic down pours, and cooler temps.  Awesome running weather.  Van 1, had endured much excitement during the night assisting the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2? with locked keys in their van, and Dave’s dog attack.  Two dogs attacked and bite Dave.  Fueled with Space Goat awesomeness…..he outran them.  Way to go Dave!  Feeling giddy, our van mates pranked incoming runner and Team Captain, Mark Cox, by lifting the hood of the van faking a breakdown.  If only I had captured, Marks expression as he ran by. 🙂

Van 2 was off, as Melissa ran the hardest leg of all a Mountain Goat hard 6.5 mile climb!  Delirious The Space Goats cheered and entertained all runners on the mountain goat leg.  We were thrilled to have fellow Ultra Team runner Hazel to cheer!  Things got a little crazy as we entertained!  We are sure that we made a difference for all the runners out there.  We certainly had fun doing it. Scenes from Mountain Goat leg….

Beautiful running man!

hmmmm…strip tease?

Sleep deprivation causes odd behavior or was this a modeling post for Athleta Sportswear

The finish of Mountain Goat

Melissa “MAA MAA Goat” slayed her run and passed 4 runners!  Amazing! Way to go to MAA MAAA!  Next we sent Laura “Most Talkative Goat” off on her dream run…9 miles down hill where she maintained a 7:30 pace!  Melinda “Quite Killer Goat” ran strong on the 2nd Mountain Goat leg and finished strong with a super huge smile of accomplishment and a prize!

Thrilled to be DONE!

John was off and endured torrential rain and cold temps.  Luckily it was his shortest run of the relay and he was able to burn it out!

Holy Hill……

I was off for my last leg once again on the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 4.2 miles but the first 2 were all uphill! I endured, with the finsh line on my mind and burned it out and passed the BRR band to Rusty for the 6.6 mile Glory leg!

We quickly made out way to the finish line to greet Rusty!  Rusty brought us in strong in the pouring rain and cold!  Designated Drinkers a.k.a Space Goats  finished  Saturday 5:56pm with the official time of 31hours and 56 minutes! Average pace per mile 9:05, 95th of 141 teams!

Running in the Glory Leg with Rusty! Where are our fellow Designated Drinkers Team mates…..Mellow Mushroom bar?

While we did not capture an official title, we are ALL WINNERS for SURVIVING!

Space Goats (minus Melinda) at the finish. Poor Melinda was seeking sanity was searching for her family!

Our Men and family welcomed us at the Finish!

My 1st Relay experience was over the top! As my 9 year old would say “Epic”.  I had a blast!  My team was awesome and most importantly my van mates made the experience memorable and highly entertaining!  I gained 4 new nutty running  friends! ( I knew Laura and Rusty prior to our adventure)

While the hours were long, the miles hard, the comradery shared among fellow runners was priceless!  Thanks to all for an amazing relay!

The Asheville night life was not spared from the Legend of the Space Goat. Great job MAA MAA!

Now  as Tommy would say……time for some much deserved “loaf’in” BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

My runs were dedicated to a dear friend Graham Edward Beacham, whom was called home after a tragic car accident Wednesday prior to the relay. An avid outdoors man, I know Graham would  appreciate the beautiful scenery and quiet of the mountains just as I did.  I cannot think of a better way to reflect and pay respects.  I know I made him proud!  Love and miss you dear friend!

Second Wind Toast for Graham and a job well done!

Rest In Peace Dear Friend……

Shout out to AMY!…My ULTRA Running Inspiration

I am so proud of my sister Amy who completed the Hot Asphalt Lenoir County Ultra Run, organized by RacENC Saturday night.  Note I said last NIGHT not DAY……

This ultra, with 14  local runners,  organized by the local run club was an effort to enjoy a long distance run in their own back yard. Probably better described as in their  “back forty” given the fact their route was a rural, flat, route through eastern North Carolina farm land.

Amy and Ashley…..Smiling and mile 15

They did it simply for their love or running. My hat is off to all of them!  I honestly could not get excited about running 42 flat, asphalt miles, in August with NC heat and humidity.  If that is not challenging enough, they started at 5pm Saturday and ran into the early Sunday  hours.  Not only was it hot but it was dark!  Impressive!  Way to go K-town runners!

Amy, is my inspiration! I have her to thank for inspiring me to push beyond  my  two mile treadmill runs. She almost killed me on our first summer run in 2008.  A very HOT, flat, asphalt run with no water or distance plans (classic newbie mistakes).  Neither of us know how far we ran that day we just know we did it!  She pushed me through to the finish! That was the start!

We planed to train for  our first half marathon February 2009! Living 1.5 hours apart, we shared our training via phone and facebook! 1/2 Marathon day  arrived and unfortunately Amy was sidelined with an injury.  Not letting injury get her down, Amy rallied the family to  support me on race day! Amy was on every corner with one of her crazy signs. She organized the family and had them strategically placed along the course.  It was wonderful and a memory I will cherish forever!

Family Supporting my 1st 13.1!

That November, Amy and my kids ran me across the finish of my my first Marathon(OBX) 2009.

Earlier that day Amy concurred the OBX half marathon! Once again she rallied the family to travel to support our efforts. (Those who know her will agree….when Amy speaks…People Listen)

Amy continued to support and encourage me as I finished another two marathons.  Finally,  we planned to run the WDW Marathon, her first, January 2011.  Keeping with tradition, it was to be a family affair, however this time we would be joined by additional family members (sister Laury, Mom,  and brother-in-laws Lee and Jon).  They were tired of the sidelines and wanted part of the action.

Ready for Disney Marathon Weekend

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the marathon due to a HORRIBLE  upper respiratory infection.  I was so bummed not to cross the finish line with Amy in her first marathon.  I was forced to track her via internet from home.  I could hardly contain my excitement for her!  I was so proud of her and her accomplishment!

Fresh off her marathon high, we planned to run the Tobacco Road Marathon in March. FAIL! She got super sick and was unable to run!  Was this some type of omen?  To date, we have yet to run a race together.

Amy & daughter Chole WDW Marathon Finisher!

Amy’s Ultra finish is a great reminder that you can accomplish anything you put your passion  and energy into! I am excited to join Amy in her “Ultra Greatness” as I tackle my first 40 miler in December (Pine Mountain 40)  Perhaps, our race calendars will collide and she will join me              ( hint..hint) 🙂

Although our race calendars have taken us on different paths and distances, one thing remains the same… I can always count on Amy to raise the bar and push me beyond my limits!  I am forever grateful for your support.  Without your push, I would have never discovered my love and passion for running. Thank You AMY!

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

“Its that bond for female runners that makes me want to be a better runner- to push me a little harder” ~ unknown

Lets re-enact this photo with Pine Mountain, GA in the background!