Monday, July 21, 2008


ORN: About 7 miles in an hour, on trails in Seneca. Still hot and humid.

Today I saw countless rabbits, a small turtle and three raccoons, the latter being the highlight of the run.

Last week was a recovery week from the ultra (see race report below), with two sluggish miles on Tuesday, then 11 at sub-8 pace Wednesday, 7 miles both Thursday and Friday, then 10.5 on Saturday. Yesterday we did another easy 7, just like I did today. We've got 116 days until Richmond!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rattlesnake 50k Race Report

Friday around lunchtime we piled six people's stuff, two tents and ourselves into a shiny white rented Tahoe and drove to lovely Charleston, WV. The Rattlesnake 50k was held in Kanawha State Forest, one of the prettiest places I've ever been. We got to the campsite around 5 p.m., and hustled to set up our tents since dinner (which was included with our entry fee) was at 6.

We gorged on pizza and Gatorade while realizing we were the youngest people at the race, and spent a lot of time rifling through our sweet swag bags. Each runner got a small yellow duffle bag with the race name screen printed on it, a yellow T-shirt, and a bunch of product samples from Hammer Nutrition. Hammer and Inov-8 donated other full-size products to be randomly distributed in bags, so a friend got a 26-serving jug of Hammer Gel and I got an Inov-8 waistpack.

While at the dinner we found out we could save the group $36 and camp in a group campsite behind the starting line. We tore down the tents, crammed everything back in the Tahoe, and relocated. After exploring the forest a bit, including the last part of the race course, we all went to sleep.

Alarms went off at 5 a.m. and we sat in the tents figuring out what, exactly, one has to have on-hand for a 31-mile race. The race started at 6:30, and the 90 minutes of prep time seemed barely enough. I knew there would be well-stocked aid stations roughly every 3 miles, so I filled up my two waterbottles on my Amphipod belt, tucked in four GUs, grabbed my sunglasses and headband and was ready.

The start was pretty informal, a group of a hundred or so people in a parking lot. The race director said, "3, 2, 1, go!" and we all took off. We ran for about five minutes before hitting the first uphill climb, at which point we all started walking.

That was the pattern for the next 6 hours -- run a little, walk a lot. I suppose it was split pretty evenly, but I felt like I was doing an awful lot of walking. Maybe because there were 5,000 feet of uphill climb.

I was running with an awesome friend, Diane, with whom I've been running and working for about 18 months now. This was her second 50k, and we laughed and joked and talked about all the neat plants we saw.

The race, because of both the terrain and the length, didn't have mile markers, which I think was for the best. What we knew was that the aid stations were roughly three miles apart, so that was how we gauged our progess. After the first aid station, the runners were spread out enough that Diane and I didn't see anybody else until the next station, and then we ran some with two older guys off and on through aid station five. They were behind us until the fourth station, and then at aid station five they told us we were "hammering on the downhills" which we took as a great compliment. They were changing socks and taking a break at that station, so Diane and I pulled away.

Shortly after aid station six, about four hours in, I lost Diane. I wasn't purposefully trying to go any faster, and I didn't want to leave her behind, but it was understood it was an every man for himself kind of race. She had been dealing with a renegade IT band, and we had two friends up ahead somewhere that I wanted to catch. As we crested the hill after the sixth climb, I started running again (we walked all the uphills) and Diane didn't. I gradually pulled away, still feeling pretty fresh.

I coasted through aid station seven, roughly 21 miles in, and laughed at the idea of only having 10 miles left. I really did feel surprising good. We'll credit some excellent weeks of training, GU Roctane and candy orange slices.

At aid station eight, I caught our other two friends, Rebekah and Chris. Of course, as I spotted them, I got excited and stopped paying attention, stepped in a hole and gave my bum ankle a good twist. It hurt the few next steps to the aid station, but then went away. Rebekah, Chris and I started walking the next hill, evaluating how we were feeling with a mere seven or so miles to go. I said, "Hey, it's just the distance of one of our weekday easy runs!" I may have been the only one feeling that way. Again I pulled away, walking faster up the hill and running once I hit the top.

For the last two hours of the race, I continuously caught and passed people. Nobody passed me, which was a good feeling but makes me think I probably could have ran the first half faster. But, in such a long race and having not done one before, I wasn't sure how I would feel. As we got to the part of the trail I had walked the night before, I started really running (as opposed to the slow plod I had been using), and cruised all the way to the finish -- where two other friends were waiting and cheering. I finished 37th overall and 14th female in 6:25:50.

The race director shook my hand and gave me a cool handle-less Fiestaware mug with the race name and year on it. Matt, one of the two pals at the finish, had ran 5:21:33 in his second trail race and first ultra to finish 16th overall. He did Ironman Louisville last year and was a great runner at Centre College, so we expected him to do well. Nikki, the second friend and the one person I can usually count to be yelling my name at the finish, ran about the first 10 miles of the race as she comes back from a pretty vicious IT band flare-up after running the Cincinnati Flying Pig half-marathon.

Chris and Rebekah came through in 54th and 55th, in 6:59:22, looking tired but strong. We had sandwiches and hung out as we waited for Diane, who we feared might be struggling with her IT band out in the woods somewhere. Some other guys finished who said they had seen her an aid station or two back, so we knew she was still going. She rounded the corner without a limp, which was a relief to everybody (especially boyfriend Matt), but also without her shoes. After her finish in 7:54:33, 71st overall, she told us her foot had blistered so badly she had to run the last three miles without her shoes -- including up a rocky hill! She should get some sort of superwoman award.

All in all, I loved running this race. Usually I get bored running longer races, but this time I had a blast the entire time. I have already started looking for another trail 50k to do, and I would recommend Rattlesnake to anyone looking for a well-organized, scenic race well worth the $50 entry fee.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Idle feet

Yesterday marked a two-month running streak for me, my first attempt at running every day on a regular basis. I feel pretty kick ass.

So I am taking today off, with an easy 5 mile run tomorrow when we get to West Virginia, then it's all-out for 6 hours of trail running on Saturday.

I like that I can tell I'm getting faster. My long runs are hovering around 8 min/mi and that feels easy. I'm excited about running the ultra, but I must say I think I'm even more excited about having it over with and getting into fall training. The Evansville Half and Richmond Marathon are waiting for me!