Saturday, May 30, 2015

I just needed to get dirty

It seems only natural that might mojo might have waned a bit this past month.

After a BQ/PR race-of-my-dreams in Boston on April 20th:
And the most ridiculous fun one could have over 52.4 miles on May 2nd and 3rd:

It was probably was time to just relax and soak in all the good memories.
But I had the most bodacious run on the Tuesday following the Mitten Challenge and I seriously thought that I might conquer the world.
Sadly and rightfully so, reality sunk in just a few days later. I've been whining about heat, humidity, and awful runs pretty much since then. In case you missed the newsflash, QC loathes summer. I want all my runs to feel amazeballs. But I consider myself lucky if I get a mile or 2 a week that don't feel terrible this time of year.
I thought I'd brighten my spirits and replace my Hokas. The old purple pair were nearing 700 miles and though full of stupid amazing feats, they needed to be relegated to yard shoes.
New shoes sure do smell good. And are fun to take pictures of. But they sure as hell don't make summer go away.
I tried unsuccessfully the same tactic with a new running skirt. It pretty much only guaranteed that I could pretend to be happy while taking post-run selfies.
On a side note, I frickin' adore the patterns of the Runningskirts brand. They are super cute skirts. But I think my butt is not a runner butt. I tried the traditional skirt with the brief first in a size MUCH too small that left indentations on my cheek after having it on for 30 seconds. The next size up was a loosey goosey skirt and still-too-tight brief. So I ordered the kind with the "compression" shorts underneath. I don't want them to feel like Spanx, but they are far from anything else compression I own. Unfortunately, they creep up as I run. So I'll be wearing them for short runs and saving my beloved discontinued Brooks Mesh PR skirts for long runs.

I have been plodding through the miles, but it's been kind of just out of habit rather than fun. There is this lingering ridiculousness of jumping headfirst into the ultra world in September. So I've been trying to maintain decent mileage so I can begin to stretch out the long runs. Here's the deal about this Woodstock business. I know I can finish. I just want to do it as happily and successfully as my body lets me. So I would like to properly train. But with my mojo hovering near the drain this month, I will give it another month or two before I fully commit. There's no point in doing it if I'm not truly enjoying it. Right? Right....

Which leads us to my latest escapade.... a revisit to the Dawson Forest City of Atlanta Tract. I actually wanted to revisit the mountains of Vogel State Park, but with my confidence waning, I decided to stick to the lower elevations. I had been to Dawson Forest back in January when I was streaking. It was a tough run and I felt downtrodden by my slow pace. However, I went into this latest adventure knowing I was just out there to rack up the time and distance and had less concern about pace.
It started out okay-ish, but then I finally started to feel groovy about 2 miles into the shebang.
About 3.5 miles in, I came up to a river about 40 feet across. I paced along the shore edge for a minute.
I have this odd QC-ism that makes me abhor putting socks on that I've taken off. But the alternative was to get my socks sopping wet. So I forded the damn river with my socks and shoes in my hands.
A few steps in, I giggled to myself. The water felt delightfully cool and all of sudden, I felt in touch with this whole trail running thing. I climbed the huge hill out of the river basin and things just felt right again. I walked when it got hard and ran when I felt like it. I ate some snacks. I drank a whole bunch of water and Nuun.
I was sopping wet from the humidity and going through my hydration quickly. Since I wasn't sure I was going to make it back without getting dangerously dehydrated, I decided to dangerously drink. I scooped up some water from a stream/waterfall and crossed my fingers that it didn't have any funky after effects.

Later, after I had talked myself into just looping back and doing closer to 16 instead of 20, I saw red arrow markers instead of blue. Derp. This little detour added about 2.5 miles onto my route and I was really glad I scooped up sketchy stream water. When I finally made my way to the gravel road, I started dreaming of lemonade, sweet tea, and Sprite, in that order. But my thoughts were interrupted by a dumb black snake lying across the road. PETA might hate me, but I threw a few rocks towards it to see if it was alive. Once I determined it was 99% dead, I "sprinted" past it and kept going for another 100 meters before I slowed back down.

As I neared my car, I was happily exhausted and elated that I had found a little sprig of mojo out in the forest.
Turns out that perhaps those new shoes were just missing some dirt. Or red Georgia clay in this case.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Double Trouble Tutu Weekend (Wisconsin and Kalamazoo RRs)

If you'd asked me even a year ago about running back-to-back marathons, I would have laughed in your face. Really. Like who even does that?

But this rad little running community makes really insane things seem feasible. So somewhere in the midst of Boston training, I decided that it seemed like not a horrible idea. And honestly, the months leading up to Boston were so consumed with this one race that I just kind of brushed aside the whole double marathon weekend.

Never mind the fact that I'd be trying to do this 12 days after the fastest marathon of my life.

Adam was quite consumed with the very real thought that I might injure myself and feared living with a scary person named Carissa-who-cannot-run. I had a few doubts myself, but I never actually feared that I wouldn't finish.

I halfway unpacked from Boston, worked a few days, adopted a new dog

made a couple of tutus, worked a few more days, and found myself back in the Atlanta airport Friday morning.

Soon, I was texting my RB Steve at Chicago Midway who had graciously agreed to chauffeur me for the weekend. We took the scenic route (re: sketch neighborhoods) and headed north. After a brief meet and greet with his in-laws, a few back porch beers were consumed, and we were off to packet pick-up. Dave, Angie, and Megan were hanging out at the hotel and we took it upon ourselves to get an amazing photo op.
Steve and I grabbed lunch and by the time we got back, other Loopsters had begun to arrive. The group eventually headed out for dinner where we carbo loaded and talked about all things running. One of the coolest things was meeting Jerry and SkinnyLegs--both of whom were not running, but made it a point to hang out with Loopsters while nearby Kenosha for the night.
Eventually, it was time to break up the party and Steve and I headed back to the Sims' house to try to get some sleep.

I woke up before the alarm of course and then just laid in bed until the alarm went off. I normally have no problem eating in the morning, but I couldn't only eat half of a muffin. Weird. Coffee went down as usual and soon we were on our way to the starting line.

Time somehow became more of an issue and while traffic wasn't bad, we were cutting it a little close for comfort. As we stood in line for the port-a-potty (after finding Dave while we were walking towards the start), a woman asked the guy in front on me if she could cut in line because she really had to go. The nicely mannered man let her cut while the rest of us shot daggers with our eyeballs at her.

A few run-ins with other Loopsters before the start and then we were off! Our plan was somewhere between 4:00-4:30. Kind of a huge time gap, but with me coming off Boston and Steve coming off Kal Haven, we weren't sure what to expect. The first 14 miles hovered around a 9:00 pace. I felt pretty good and the pace seemed doable for a long time. Though it was warm outside, I thought it was very realistic to keep that pace. I may or may not have stopped mid race to do a little booty shaking to a polka band....

We caught up to Dave around mile 13 and ran with him for about a half mile before he took off with another runner. Somewhere near mile 15, Steve got a calf spasm and had to stop and walk. And thus began a long 11 miles to the finish. I'll let him tell his own story, but I know it was not the place he wanted to be. I was doing my best to be the cheerleader in our duo.
The dusty gravel road coupled with the excruciatingly boring out-and-back blacktop section of the race were defeating. Angie charged past us at one point and kept on plodding, looking strong. Steve kept telling me to go on, but how was I going to leave one half of my tutu duo? Besides, if the roles were reversed, I think I would have preferred a little company.

We passed and got passed back and forth by a lot of the same people. I had never seen anything like it in a race. Lots and lots of tired zombies. If I had been running alone, I might have felt differently, but I was so consumed by getting my RB to the finish line that I kind of forgot about any of my own aches and pains.

Eventually we saw the mile 25 marker and knew that the first finish was going to happen. We raised a single finger signifying race #1 as we headed down the finish chute.
I was sunburned, hungry, thirsty, and ready for a nap. The Loop contingent had gathered near the finish line and I was so elated to refuel and rest for a bit. Unfortunately after a post-race beer and sausage, it was time to get on with the day since we had to drive to Michigan.  But first, selfies!
We got cleaned up at the Sims' house and hit the road again. My legs were feeling much fresher than Steve's at this point so I offered to drive. Chicago traffic was a hot mess and my over-hydrating made me white knuckle the steering wheel for other reasons.

After dissecting the race and the prior day's activities, we kind of figured out that he probably was cramping badly due to dehydration. All the beer and lack of constant water on Friday was not really the smartest choice. So we bought like 485023480 different types of liquid and tried to be smarter about it on Saturday afternoon.

Time flew by in the car and soon we were in Battle Creek with another group of Loopsters at dinner. The pizza and slab of chocolate cake were the perfect combo of refueling and celebration. I was delightfully full and tired. A group of Loopsters were staying at the Cannon estate and we all chatted a bit before trying to get some pre-race sleep.

I slept really, really well and woke up feeling a little creaky, but not fearful of finishing the task at hand. We had plenty of time before the race and managed to do packet pick-up, hit the port-a-potty, and take a great Loopster photo.
When the starting gun went off, I was kind of like whoa, I'm really doing this!

Kalamazoo was way, way, way fun. Despite fizzling out towards the end, Steve was in a much better place mentally and I was soaking in all the amazing things on the course. I did literally feel poopy around miles 11-13, but that was quickly cured.

Highlights include:
-Multiple beer stops provided by the amazing Loop spectator team (PBR never tasted so good)
-A bacon station at mile 13 (whaaaaaa? free bacon???)
-Popsicles around mile 20something
-Square dancing mid-race creating circles on my Garmin map
-Gummy bears, gummy worms, jolly ranchers, and Girl Scout cookies
-Discovering I could shove a water bottle in the back of my sports bra and not have it bother me for 20 miles
-Lots and lots of super supportive Maniacs on the course
-Lots and lots of super supportive spectators on the course (it's not Boston, but hot damn, Kalamazoo is seriously amazing)
-Finally getting to do a cartwheel in the finish chute of a race (bucket list item, check!)

When we crossed that finish line, it was nowhere near the anticipated time we had thought we were going to run. But I was kind of okay with that. I had a frickin' blast both days running. 4:46 and 5:04 is slightly off that 3:26 I ran in Boston, but it was a different kind of funning. You get to know a lot about yourself and your RB over the course of 52.4 miles. I suppose only another runner would understand the joy of talking about running while running for hours on end. Yeah, it was pretty special.

The greatest part of this weekend was the people. Sure I love running and whatnot, but I would have never thought to do something like this if I wasn't inspired by Jenster to do crazy doubles. And knowing Angie and Steve were tackling their firsts inspired me to keep going too. Plus, others were tackling half doubles like Erin, Misti, and Deanna. Some were tackling their first halves like Barbara and plenty of others were running races just to get in some Loopfest time. Where else do you sign up to run a few (or more) miles just to see your internet friends?

Anyway, cheesy feelings aside, I had a fantastic time earning my mittens.
Now, what to do for my next trick?  Suggestions wanted!