Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Simple Joy of Running

With Ultimate in full swing I haven't had much chance to do a lot of running outside of practice. I try to get out at least once a week, but my schedule has been spotty. I've missed so many podcasts of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me it's killing me! I managed to sneak a run in between the storm clouds and it was great.

I forgot how great it is to run when you are not trying to make a cut, catch a frisbee, or chase someone on defense. You really get to notice what is around you and the clouds swirling to the North and South were amazing. I did my normal route around the lakes, one which takes me right by the Lakeside Amusement Park. They just finished redoing the paths around the lake and there's a great gravel/dirt path on the side you can run on which is heaven for your knees and makes you feel like you're not running right next to I-70. As Peter Sagal made another terrible listener limerick challenge pun I looked to the East and saw arcs of lightning and I looked to the West to see (and hear) people screaming on the wild chipmunk. It felt good to be in the city and a part of the city without anyone or anything making me run. No races I've signed up for so this run was just a run to get my muscles moving, the blood flowing, and some piece of mind.

This run reminded me that I'm part of a bigger community, not just of runners, but of everyone that is out and about in the city doing what makes them happy. Running can be a pretty solitary endeavor so it's great to be reminded that there are other humans out in the bigger world.

I've found it's easy to forget the joy of running or working out because so much of it is tied to specific goals. While going on a run is part of a bigger plan of working out and being fit to play ultimate, I didn't let that dictate why I was out there. It was just me using my feet to be part of the cityscape.

I love any reason that gets me outdoors; whether skiing, frisbee, hiking, running, or biking and each has something different to offer. Molly Brown is headed to our last regular season tournament of the season over Labor Day - The Pro Flight Finale* - and there I'll get the chance to play around in the rectangle. Sure there will be a purpose and a reason I'm there, but this run reminded me that the best part is using my two feet to be part of something bigger.

*If you want to follow the action at the Pro Flight Finale go here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Local man gets lost in woods, runs 100 miles

Besides running races I also love to help out at races. Whether it is the aid station at the North Fork 50 or cheering on runners like Jeremiah in races. At the end of June I was fortunate enough to crew for Jeremiah in his first 100 mile race in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We had a great group of pacers and all around crewers for the race so first off THANK YOU to Tower, Donnie, Cassidy, and Hannah for not only keeping Jeremiah going but also helping me be the best support I could be.

If you've never crewed before it's a neat experience that takes some prep work that you have to be willing to throw out as soon as something changes with your runner. Here's my guide to being a good pacer,crew member with some  "what to do better next time" advice.

1.  Let your runner dictate what he/she needs before, during, and after the race

Anyone training for a race whether it is a half marathon or a 100 miler has a lot of their own preparation to do. There's the training part, but there's also the figuring out fueling and clothing, researching the course and the weather. Jeremiah had a unique problem in the previous two years of the race had pretty much every possible weather you can think of. It's best to trust that your runner has planned out what he/she needs and it's your job to remind them that it's there (extra shoes, long sleeve shirt, various snacks).

2. Except when you have to make the runner do what he/she needs to do

In retrospect I should have pushed the sit down/rest/recover piece more. Since this was Jeremiah's first 100miler we were all learning what to do and he was learning what to do and not do. The last 17 or so miles of the race were pretty tough according to the bearded wonder. He struggled with fatigue (he said he was "sleep running" for awhile) and really nasty blisters. As I noticed some of the other runners come through aide stations and there were two women who made an impact. First of all, they spent almost the entire race slowly catching up to Jeremiah (one was running the other was a pacer). They eventually passed him at the second to last crewed aide station. Her crew made her sit down at every aide station, brought her food, and provided changes in clothing.

Jeremiah's a little stubborn and when he's feeling good he likes to keep going and pushing. He's been pretty remarkable in running through most of anything so it was pretty easy to believe him that he didn't need to stop and he could just keep pushing through. It's hard to think that didn't catch up to him at the end. I also feel like I should have pushed for a shoe change much earlier. He finally changed at mile 94, probably a good 30 miles past when we could have addressed and stopped some of the major blisters that definitely impacted his ability to run.

3. Try and sleep

Try, but you're probably not going to sleep much. I had a chart of expected times at each aide station so the most I could get was 30min here/1hr there. It's was rough, but not as rough as Jeremiah had it. I say try and sleep because unless you have Beth making up a comfy bed in the back of her Prius you might just fall asleep in your chair at the aide station (which I did despite there being a bed in the Prius).

4. Bring Friends

Having friends around at each aide station made it so much better! Kudos to Hannah for keeping me company for most of the evening. We even managed to catch a blue grass concert in Nemo with the four-wheel festival and acquired a new favorite party song called Parking Lot Party. I didn't think I needed it, but it was really nice to just have people there with you as you try to prepare for your runner and then have your runner blow through the aide station so quickly you didn't even finish throwing away the old gu packets. A big kudos to Beth who drove me around all night and made me eat food. Otherwise I would have missed pacing the last 5 miles.

5. Have fun

I know, pretty generic, but you're going to be out in the woods for 27+ hours so you might as well have fun. You especially need to find fun if you're the last pacer because your runner is probably just going to want to stick his/her head down and finish. Don't get me wrong, Jeremiah was great the last 5 miles, I couldn't believe he was still running after I saw what his toes looked like. But he was having a hard time finding the fun in the last stretch so I figured as long as I kept moving he'd keep moving too and to keep moving I had to find joy in things. I got to see an amazing view of Sterling, we got to pass through some cow herds, I got to wisely convince Jeremiah not to eat a jolly rancher he found on the trail...etc.

All in all it was a great race and I was so proud to watch Jeremiah run through the last stretch to finish and get his belt buckle. It strengthened my reserve to sign up for a 100 miler in the next couple of years and I can't wait to crew/pace again.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sageburner 50k

Well writing the recap of my 50k took longer than the race and probably all the training leading up to it. I have had a draft on the back burner for awhile, but as soon as the race finished I was informed that I would get to play on Molly Brown (ultimate frisbee team) for the 2013 season and just hit the ground running - except this time in cleats. More on that in a future post but for now I do want to recap what my first ultra marathon was like and whether or not I'll do it again.

I did it. I finished. Put a big check next to 50k on the running resume. Also move it to the top of the list of the hardest things I've ever done. I did a lot of thinking over the 7 hours and 15min I was out roaming the Gunnison wilderness and one thing is for certain a lot changed from the start of the race to the finish. As runners we often see changes in ourselves over a longer period of time and in a way that is so subtle it can often be missed. You're running and, if almost by accident, you realize that you've just run 15 miles without really thinking about it. The long road of training helps mold our mind and bodies into a runner able to complete a race. It's important not to discount the changes we experience as we run a race and let me tell you - you can cram a lot of changing into 7hours and 15 minutes.

Here's a list of things that changed for me during the race:

My stomach

I used to think one of the perks of running longer races is the joy of a healthy appetite following a race. Usually I'm starving and want to eat everything that I see. Not always immediately following the race, but typically within a few hours. However after this race I didn't want food. I forced myself to eat some stuff, but I really wasn't hungry and remained that way for several days. I literally could not eat a meal. I have a couple theories on why this race affected my stomach so much and the biggest one was probably the sun. Almost all of the race course was out in the sun - no shade in sight. Just being outside for that long made it hard to eat during the race and it is not too hard to imagine that effect lasted beyond the finish line.  I also consumed way more Gus then I ever have in that amount of time so perhaps I was fueled by Gu for days after.

My legs

I've hit the wall plenty of times in a marathon and even in some half marathons. You don't have much of a choice if you are going to continue or not because the choice for most runners is simple: you finish it even if you are shuffling the last mile. During this race I experienced a wall, I climbed over the wall and then I hit a 6in steel reinforced wall. I learned early on in trail running that if you don't know what the trial ahead has in store (and even if you think you do) just assume it goes longer and goes uphill. I pushed every thought out of my head regarding how much time I think I had left, how many hills I had left, and who was behind me gaining ground. Ok I did think a little bit about how close the person behind me was but just as a motivator. I realized that my legs can do a lot more than I ever thought possible. Especially after it feels like they cannot do any more. I went through every stage of leg fatigue twice and came out still running at the end.

My approach to a challenge

I started the race a bit faster than I anticipated I would. I've always been worried about starting out to fast and having it negatively affect me later on. What I found out was the pain comes no matter how fast you start out and it's about how you overcome that challenge mid-race that makes a difference and you can overcome a lot more than you think (see above comment regarding legs). Sure there's a balance and I still believe you can start something in a way that makes your finish harder to reach, but it was eye opening to me to know I can start faster - blow up a little bit - and keep going all the way to the finish.

Not everything changed during the race some things did stay the same and I'm grateful for that.

Here's a list of things that didn't change

I love Dr. Pepper and I don't know why I don't drink it after every race.

My old patagonia running shorts are and will always be the best running shorts I'll ever own. I can cram Gus, M&Ms, pretzels, oreos, probably another pair of shoes in the pockets.

My love of running - seriously. Despite the pains I cannot wait to do another race. I love ultimate so it's not a bad switch to go into that, but I am already planning my race schedule for next season and hopefully I'll be able to find a race I can do in October after nationals. I doubt I'll do this race again. Logistically it was fine, but the course itself was not my favorite and I felt underwhelmed at the aid stations.

As I noted above I'm now transitioning back in to Ultimate Frisbee season. Another activity you can do for 7+ hours at a time. You can follow us on twitter @mollybrowntown and find us on Facebook. You can also read about our team on our website Molly Brown Ultimate.

Until then here's a picture of me at the Sage Burner 50k with a big goofy smile on my face as I ran the final stretch into the finish. Look at all that crap in my pocket! Why didn't I eat it?