Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moebius Green Monster 50K Race Report

This race has been on my bucket list for a few years since I started focusing on longer distance running. It's generally in August, which has usually conflicted with my triathlon schedule. Since I am not racing any tris this season and I have leftover endurance from the Canal Corridor 100 I figured why not have a go at it this year. Still, this one hurt more than I thought it would - maybe still fatigued from all the long races this year. Either way it was a good course and I would like to do it again.

Sunny Lake - photo credit - Rob Irr
The course is a 10K loop that you complete five times. The loop consists of mostly trail and grass with some cinder and a bit of asphalt mixed in throughout Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, Ohio. I was feeling pretty good for the warm up loop and for the second loop until it started relentlessly pouring rain. Yuck! This caused me to slow down for a while because I was sliding around too much in the mud and grass and I didn't want to fall. Coming through the aid station to start my third loop I was feeling a little soggy and defeated. I headed to the ladies room and used the hand dryer to try and take some of the moisture out of my clothes.

The third loop went okay but I turned too soon off the cinder road into the trails and ended up repeating a mile+ loop, which set me back a good 10-15 minutes. I wasn't happy about it but it's easy to take a wrong turn in a trail race so I just moved on kind of annoyed with myself. It warmed up and I started to dry off but my legs felt tired. I thought to myself maybe just finish this loop and call it a day - that would give me a solid 18. But I couldn't just quit just because I felt blah! I signed up for a 50K - not an 18 miler. I reluctantly started the 4th loop and it was a real doozy and I walked quite a bit of this one so I lost some time for sure. I was just not feeling this loop at all and was pretty much in the pain cave until I saw the aid station.

Post race with my finisher wooden medal
Something about being on the fifth and last loop gave me a second wind and I was able to pick up the pace a little and then a little more. I was no longer soaking wet and I knew I would be done in about an hour if I pushed it. I had no idea what place I was in and honestly it didn't really matter. I was out there for a butt-kicking workout and I got it done. My finish time of 6:25 was a lot slower than I expected but slow is always better than quitting! Plus I did run an extra mile so maybe I would have finished in 6:10-6:15 without the extra loop. I did find out a bit later in the week when the results came that I was third female. My husband also ran this 3 weeks after his BR100 finish and finished in about 5:20 (7th male) on those tired BR legs!

 Race director Stephen Godale does a nice job with the race. It's low-key and the looped course with the aid station every 10K is convenient as well as having the second aid station about half way through the loop. Thanks to Stephen and all the volunteers who made the race a good experience!

Now it's back to marathon training for the Northern Ohio Marathon, which takes place on Oct 1 followed with some more trail 50Ks to end the season.

Close up of the wooden finisher medal!

Monday, August 28, 2017

11 Things Running 100 Miles Might Teach You

100 Miles gives you a lot of time to think. And to feel. And it's not just during the race. It's also the journey of getting to the start line. And then of course the finish line. Even then you may still think and feel things weeks later. At least that's how my experience was. It's hard to put into words what this accomplishment means. I finished something I worked hard for. It wasn't as fast or as glamorous as I had romanticized...but who freaking cares?! I did it! Here are some things I learned along the way that I hope may help you if you take on the 100:

1. Running 100 miles is physically hard - I know big surprise right? It is actually even more difficult than I imagined it to be. I don't mind physical suffering but this is a new level of discomfort. The longer you go the more things that may hurt along the way.

2. It's as much mentally difficult as physically difficult- Yep, the legs are fried long before 100 miles so the mind has to stay strong and tell the tired body to keep going.

3. Aid station volunteers are really angels in disguise - Without these volunteers these races would not be possible for most of us. They feed you, give you words of encouragement, fill your water bottles and sometimes even fix you so that you can continue on your journey. Running 100 miles will give you a deeper respect for the sacrifice these people are making so that you can succeed at achieving  your goal.

4. You can do it but you have to believe - Of course you hope you can do it when you sign up...but you don't really know for certain you can do it until you cross the finish line. Until that moment there is the belief that you can do it and the determination that you will do it.

5. Ultrarunners are good, caring people - You will meet some of the nicest, most supportive people on the planet during your race. Everyone cheers for each other and says good job or looking good, woohoo or whatever they can say to help you because they care and they know how you are feeling.

6. You will make friends - If you talk to people during the race you will have an instant friendship because seriously where else can you make friends as freaking crazy as you are that are obviously as addicted to running as you are?!

7. No, it's not boring - Seriously people there is too much to think about, people to talk with, food to eat, things to see, aid stations to visit and then of course aches and pains to keep your mind occupied. I don't recall boredom really ever being an issue.

8. Walking is okay and expected even - I mean it's 100 miles! You will need to take some breaks to drink, eat, change up the muscles working and conserve some energy. Walking in an ultra, especially 100 miles, is normal and encouraged. In fact many of the training plans out there and experienced ultra runners will tell you to practice your power walking skills too because it helps during the race.

9. Training is important but will only take you so far - a lot of things can go wrong during a race that lasts as long as 100 miles. You can't always train for every circumstance but you should try to get in a decent amount of running as per any beginner to intermediate 100 mile plan, figure out what fuels work best for you, gear, etc in advance of race day. Still it will be your utter determination that will carry you across that finish line because if everything falls apart you will still keep moving forward because you said you would.

10. It takes a village - Maybe some people can train alone for 100 miles or without anyone's support but I would day they are probably few and far between. For most of us it takes running friends, family support, understanding from your work, etc to see this thing to fruition. You need that support network to be successful.

11. Run often, run long, listen to your body and slow down - It's good to have a training plan but let's face it life happens. And aches and pains happen during training. It's okay to take a day or two off especially if something feels icky. Cross train or rest - it will only help you. But when you feel fine do not skip out on the training. Those double long runs really prepare your body (and mind) for what's coming. It build your strength and confidence. Also, most of your running should be easy, conversational pace running.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crewing & Pacing Burning River 100 For the Hubby

I've always admired people who take on the Burning River 100 Endurance Run. This year my husband Steve happens to be one of them! We trained mostly together as I completed the Canal Corridor 100 a few weeks earlier. So as I was recovering he was starting to taper and get ready for his little journey of 100 miles through the forests of Northeast Ohio.

Prerace in front of the Castle!
The race starts at Squire's Castle in North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills, OH. This is a park we spent many miles running in when we lived in Lake County. The 100 mile start is at we had to be up pretty early as in 1:30am to get ready and make the close to an hour drive. We were out the door by 2:30, arriving at the start at 3:30 with plenty of time to get Steve ready for the long day and night ahead. We ran into some friends Brandon and Mel that were parked next to us. Mel has done BR numerous times and is one of the fast ultra ladies out on the course.

Steve and I headed up to the start about 10-15 minutes before the event started. I could tell he was excited and anxious to get this thing started. It was fun watching these 250 or so runners take off in the dark with their headlamps and dreams of first time or maybe PR finishes. Once he started I spent a few minutes in the car mapping out the route to the Polo Fields aid station where he expected to come in around 5:45am. I chatted with some people and waited to see Steve and have some of his requested items like chocolate milk ready for him. Next i met up with him at Shadow Lake where he was able to change into his new trail shoes.

After that I had some time to kill since I wouldn't see him again for 2 or 3 hours so I headed to Panera to grab breakfast and a bagel for Steve and I also stopped at Heinens to get some lunch for us later in the day. I arrived at Meadows aid station where I was able to get in about a 30-minute nap before setting up to cheer and crew for Steve. When he came in he was hungry and had a blister we took care of. He was still in good spirits when he took off. Again I had some time before I would see him again at Boston Mills (mile 50) so I headed over to the aid station and took a second cat nap before setting up my crew stuff. I ran into some Cleveland Tri Club friends, which was a nice pick me up and I ate lunch and cheered on some of the 50 mile finishers. Finally Steve came in and was able to eat his lunch I made him and change his shirt before heading on.

Ledges before our run together!
Our next place to meet up was 16 miles away so I had a lot of time to kill. I ended up stopping at the grocery store and going home to make dinner and take care of the dogs before meeting up with Steve later at Ledges Shelter. I had heard from friends that he was having a hard time and I was growing worried about him since he was a good amount off his goal pace. Finally as I started to head out on the course I saw him coming in! He looked pretty tired and I knew he was hurting. I agreed to pace him in the rest of the race, which was 34 miles for the 100 plus the bonus 3 miles at the end since BR 100 is actually BR 103. He ate and I put all the crewing stuff away, locked up my car and off we went to the Ledges to start our long and memorable journey together.

We did pretty well running through the Ledges and Pine Hollow but Steve was fading at Covered Bridge with about 20 miles left to go - including some tough ones! Special thanks to our friend Trevor for lending Steve his running jacket because it had gotten chilly and he was cold. By the second time through the Covered Bridge aid station he was doing better and we were power walking and light jogging and in better spirits. From Covered Bridge II to Botzum seemed to take a long time as well. We ran into our friend Rich in O'Neal Woods and he had some words of wisdom to share with us 100-mile newbies. Finally we reached Botzum! And then it took forever to reach Memorial Parkway but this was our last aid station! We still had about 4-5 miles to the finish including the Gorge in Cuyahoga Falls where you have some serious stairs to climb after 100 miles. Oye! Even I did not like the stairs so I can only imagine how Steve felt!

Hardest earned medal ever!
Leaving the Gorge I was excited for Steve to finish and I was excited to be done because I had been out there with him for many hours through the night and was growing tired and cranky! He was able to run the finish and then immediately needed to sit down for a few minutes and just soak everything in. He was a 100 mile finisher! He finished Burning River 100 like a badass! The only issue is that his right calve was swollen and of course his ankles and feet were swollen too, which of course made walking not fun.

After the race we went home to eat a quick bowl of cereal, shower and sleep for about 5 hours. Then we got up and went to the Ledges to pick up my car and headed over to the Winking Lizard Peninsula for a proper post race dinner and hoppy beers! Of course Steve had to put his hard-earned BR100 sticker on his car too! He sure earned it! And I am proud of him because I know that he struggled for more than half of the race and especially the last 20 miles. It was not the time he had in mind but he finished and that is all that counts in my book. I don't know if he will run this one again but you never know and for me I would rather run the 50 or 4-person relay next year. I don't know that I will put this one on my bucket list but only time will tell.

Congrats to all the 100 mile finishers - you are all amazing! And to all the 50 milers and relayers - way to go! BR is a tough course. My 37 miles was tough after a day of crewing - also very hard work! Thanks to Western Reserve Racing for putting on an excellent, well-organized event. Most of all thank you to the volunteers. You guys make the race! Without you noone could do this race. Your generosity and support are appreciated!

Until next year BR!

Hardest earned sticker ever!