Saturday, November 29, 2014

Training 11.17.14

Monday 11/17 - Rest
Sick. Still. 

Tuesday 11/18 - Rest

Wednesday 11/19 - Rest
Still. Sick.

Thursday 11/20 -  Rest
Can't believe I'm still sick.

Friday 11/21 - Run || 3 miles || 32:09, 10:43p
First run since my birthday last week. I cannot believe how sick I was. Today was the first day getting off the couch didn't take more energy than I had - still some congestion left over but I ran! I kept it slow, but I ran! Maybe I won't die at tomorrow's trail race...

Saturday 11/22 - Run || 9.3 miles || 2:16:13, 14:30p || cold and drizzly
Dirty Turkey Trail 15K

Sunday 11/23 - Rest
Rest day

Total: 12.3 miles run. 

Dirty Turkey Trail 15K - Recap

This is the latest I've ever done a recap, but the truth is my feelings here are a little mixed because I got hurt during the race and it's coloured my feelings. Not the races fault but I've had a hard time going back to look at it.

Anyway, this was the 11th of the 12 Muddy Monk trail races this year. It was 15K out in Mokena IL, so my husband and the kids stayed home and I drove out the two hours out there. Packet pickup was crazy easy as always, although I had a scary moment where I thought I locked my keys in the car. It turned out I had left them at the waiver table, where they were kept safe for me until I returned for them a few minutes later. Whew!

I wasn't sure how I'd do; I'd been down with the flu for two weeks, and while I was better - for a little while there even standing long enough to cook dinner or walk down the hall to the bathroom was tiring - I wasn't okay yet. If this wasn't part of a series (which would result in a series completion jacket if you finished all 12, although I didn't know that until shortly before the race) I would have skipped, despite being registered.

The race went off right around 10; it was predicted to be cold and drizzly but the temps felt okay and it wasn't raining...yet. The course was mostly single trail with a little bit of multi track at the start of the loop; we'd run the loop twice. The first and only water station came in at .7 miles; after that the course narrowed to mostly single track. At .91 miles, I wiped out - badly. The mud and leaves were so slick that my right leg just went out in front of me and there wasn't anything I could do to catch myself. I went down hard, taking the brunt of the impact on my right hip and right arm. My right side was coated in mud and I could feel that I'd whapped the side of my calf on some roots; I stood up, reassuring the people around me that they didn't need to stop for me. I tested myself out to see if I could continue and while I knew I'd have some gnarly bruises, I felt okay enough to continue.

In retrospect, that was a bad call. Between the wipe out my gait was off and with the illness I was not up to par. I continued on, but I was off. 1.86 miles in we found the creek crossing described in the course description - but unlike the creek crossings in previous races, this was one was at least ankle deep and 8-10 feet across with slick, steep muddy banks to climb on either side. And because the course was an out and back, we actually got to cross that creek 4 times. Hah!

Trying to use the stepping stones to cross. I would eventually say forget it. Wet feet...meh! Photo credit Muddy Monk.

Going back the other way the guy behind me wiped out as he tried to climb out. I offered to help despite him being a good imitation of a mud monster, but he was okay, and on we trekked.

Mud Monster! Poor guy. I later found out that he'd never run this far but his son talked him into it. This was not a kind intro to the 15K distance! Photo credit Muddy Monk.

I was feeling lousy when we hit the end of the first loop, but surprisingly, I didn't have to talk myself into going out for the second one - off I went. Company was sparse but present for the first half; after the third creek crossing people were few and far between even with as slow as I was going. My miles ranged from 12 to 16 depending, because there were patches you just couldn't run.

This was also the hilliest long run I've ever done. It felt like we were always going either up or down and while they weren't steep, I struggled. I don't know if it was the illness or the fall or just a lack of hill training, but I struggled. It's a good thing it was absolutely gorgeous out there!

In the end though, I did finish.

Photo credit Muddy Monk.

I then drove the 2 hours home. When I got out of the car, my knee gave out.

I was right, the bruises on my calf were awful, but surface only. For two days after the race my knee refused to do any weight-bearing activity. The wednesday after the race I tried to run again, but made it half a mile before my knee started complaining. Today is 1 week post Dirty Turkey; I ran a 5K turkey trot I'll recap in a bit, and my knee hurts again. The knee visually looks okay, it's not swollen or red or tender to the touch, so I have no idea what is going on. I am going to skip running for another week and see how it is; if it's still having issues, I'm off to the doctor. Sigh. I may end up walking the last race in the Muddy Monk series.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Training 11.10.14

Monday 11/10 - Run || 2.07 miles || 21:00, 10:08p || 58*
Birthday run! I usually rest on Mondays but my mom gave me a new pair of Hokas for my birthday...and after all the rest days last week, I was raring to go.

Tuesday 11/11 - Rest

Wednesday 11/12 - Rest
Still sick, hello chest cold.

Thursday 11/13 -  Rest
STILL sick. Beginning to be convinced I will feel like death forever.

Friday 11/14 - Rest
I am feeling a tiny bit better. I want to go run, but after a lot of mulling it over decided that I was going to take one more rest day. This is the longest I've gone without running since being pregnant, and it SUCKS.

Saturday 11/15 -  Rest

Sunday 11/16 - Rest

Total: 2.07 miles run. This is absurd, but I was that sick. It took so much out of me that walking down the hallway or standing up to make meals for the kids was taxing. Ugh.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Illness: Run or Not?

So after being sick last week, I got a few runs in - and promptly caught my daughter's horrific cold...again.

That either means I wasn't as better as I thought, or my immune system is in a bad spot. I normally don't get sick much, but it's possible that piling an ultra on top of a marathon was more physically demanding than I thought, according to my husband. Personally, I think I was overdue to get sick and I am just glad it happened after the big races. To show you have sick I've been, I ran 5 miles last week - total - and this week so far I've gotten a whopping 2 in....but haven't been tempted to run more. Between the baby being sick too and us not sleeping and the body aches that have come with this virus, I am just beat down.

I have to admit though, I'm nervous about starting back. I had planned to ramp back up to 25 miles this week...when I finally jump back in, am I going to have lost all my fitness by being sick? Have you ever had to take more time off than you wanted from running? How long and how was it when you started back up again?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spartan Giveaway WINNER!

And the winner of the Spartan Giveaway is...

#11, which was Jon Stephenson for following my blog on facebook. Congratulations, Jon ! Please email me by 11/18 at to claim your prize.

Training 11.3.14

Monday 11/3 - Rest
Monday rest

Tuesday 11/4 - Rest

Wednesday 11/5 - Rest
Still sick, hello chest cold.

Thursday 11/6 -  Rest
STILL sick. Beginning to be convinced I will feel like death forever.

Friday 11/7 - Rest
I am feeling a tiny bit better. I want to go run, but after a lot of mulling it over decided that I was going to take one more rest day. This is the longest I've gone without running since being pregnant, and it SUCKS.

Saturday 11/8 -  Run || 2 miles || 21:13, 10:36p || treadmill
Not totally sure I actually should have been running, so I did two easy miles to see how it felt. It felt...okay, but my chest is still tight and hurts from coughing. 

Sunday 11/9 - Run || 3 miles || 31:28, 10:29p || treadmill
I still have a lingering cough but for the first time in over a week my chest doesn't feel tight. Still didn't push it - I wanted a long run, but kept it to 3 miles. I really wanted more, but decided a run where I felt good at the end was a better idea than pushing for a long run if my body wasn't up to it. There is always the next week.

Total: 5 miles run. 5! Haahahahah. I haven't been this sick in a long, long time. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Training 10.27.14

Monday 10/27 - Rest
Monday rest

Tuesday 10/28 - Run || 3 miles || 30:38, 10:12p || Treadmill speedwork
No speedwork this week, just ran easy. 

Wednesday 10/29 - Run || 2 miles || 20:59, 10:30p || Treadmill
Running 2 miles feels like such a waste, but Mr. Higdon says run 2 miles today, so 2 miles it was.

Thursday 10/30 -  Rest
Not running on Thursday felt weird, but taper week...ultra Saturday..oy.

Friday 10/31 - Run || 2.1 miles || 22:14, 10:42p || 29*
Shakeout run. Oh my god, it's cold! 

Saturday 11/1 -  Run || 31.65 miles || 6:43:31, 12:45p || 39* with mega winds.
Lakefront 50k!

Sunday 11/2 - Rest
Meant to XT, but the day ended up busy and my feet are really sore, so oh well!

Total: 38.75 miles run! I'm an ultramarathoner!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chicago Lakefront 50/50 50k

Well - it's official. I ran an ultra. I finished, I got in before the cut off, and I survived.

 TL;dr, I finished in 6:43 and change. Not the time I'd been hoping for, but I finished.

So backing up, I managed to miss online registration. I waffled so much over whether or not I was really confident enough for this that I didn't verify the registration date; I'd been told 10/31, but the date for online reg was 10/30. Oops! So I blew $10, but race day registration was easy. My husband and kids dropped me off and then went home (hour drive both ways, but hanging out in the car because the weather sucked wasn't really ideal either.) There was, of course, a cold snap, and despite having not run in anything under 50 lately, race day was 30ish with strong winds. (Like, really, really strong winds.) I busted out winter gear, tights and layers and neck gaiter and gloves, oh my.

I'm under there somewhere, I swear. The orange coat got stuffed in my drop bag, but the rest stayed.

The course was 3 laps of 10.47ish. Waiting at the start line, a random woman shouted "Who's running a 12 pace? Let's find this woman a pace partner!" Well, the woman needing a pace partner turned out to be a very nice woman named Beth, who was from Alpine Runners. Her running partner had apparently gotten injured just before the race - what a bummer! Going into the race, I had planned to be about 11:30ish, but 12 sounded just fine for me and I told her I could at least do the first lap with her. If I felt good I'd want to speed up. (Spoiler: That didn't happen!)

We started the first lap and right away the winds felt horrible. They weren't coming head on but from the side; strong enough to take my breath away and push you to the side. I wasn't too cold because I had enough layers on but even with the gaiter I was struggling with the wind. My chest felt really tight and I was hoping as I got used to running in the wind it would loosen up. Despite that we came in at an 11 average for the first lap, but I knew something was either wrong with me or the conditions were much harder than I bargained for. My chest felt super super tight, and I couldn't get a deep breath - it hadn't loosened up at all. I wasn't struggling with the pace but I was feeling short of breath - I've never felt like that on a run before. I told Beth I needed a bathroom stop - she said she'd go ahead and I could catch up but I had a feeling that wasn't going to happen. In the portopotty back at the race village I had a heart to heart with myself; not being able to get a deep breath was a bad sign with 21 miles to go. I had 3 options - DNF right there, push through the run and have a DNF looming over my head, or swallow my pride, suck it up, and walk/run so that I wasn't pushing my lungs. I was irritated, but I had not hauled my butt out of bed early on a Saturday morning and paid $65 to walk away with a DNF unless I was in danger.

So, I spent the next lap running for 2 minutes and walking for 1. It felt weird to walk/run, I hadn't done that in a long time. But walking didn't make my chest feel as tight as running did. I had some fits of feeling sorry for myself ... all that training and I had to walk a third of the way?! All that training and build up and air of mystery and I had a day of lousy weather? I was a real joy for a while here! But I kept slogging on. At the turnaround point of the second lap (25k!) I texted my husband to let him know I was halfway through to give him an idea of when he'd need to leave to come get me. He gave me a pep up that I was doing great - I told him I'd text him again at the end of this lap to give him a better idea when to leave, since I was struggling unfortunately. The waves were high, the winds were really tough, and the spray left me damp at times. Breathing was still tough. But I finished the second lap. (I may have had a few "I hate you!" moments for the runners who got to hit the finish line...hahahah.)

By midway into the third and final lap, I felt better - the winds had cut down and I felt like I could breathe again. But after walk/running for two hours I couldn't get in a good groove to run; with 22 miles behind me I was footsore and achey. I figured as long as I could make the cut off time no long mattered, so I kept up my walk/run pattern and did my best to enjoy the crashing waves and surf spray. The wind had slowed down enough to be more tolerable and the sun had come out so it wasn't as awful as it was earlier. As the miles ticked on I started getting into a really positive place, exactly the opposite of the marathon where I got progressively more negative in my own head. It helped that the sun was coming out and the waves were starting to look more picturesque than frightening.

Hey, that looks like a beach instead of a mythical monster out to swallow me whole.

I was definitely tired though. At mile 25 I remember thinking, "If this were a marathon, I'd practically be done! Why couldn't I find a marathon to do instead!" Haha. This thought proved pervasive and when I hit 26.2 I actually walked for a third of a mile. "I ran a marathon, I can be done!" After that third of a mile I was like, "No wait, that's dumb. This is still a race. Onwards!"

Not the marathon time I'd been hoping for, but better than Chicago!

I hit the last aid station, around mile 27, and then it was just a matter of getting it in. I was slowing down - my chest felt tight again and I was beginning to suspect that the reason I was having breathing issues was that I was coming down with something. I felt off in a way that had nothing to do with the race. I slowed down a lot the last 5 miles, logging my slowest miles of the day - but I logged them. And then it was over - I was an ultrarunner. 2 1/2 years ago if you told me I'd run a a half marathon I'd tell you you were crazy. Now? I ran a frigging marathon - and a 50k. I ran a 50k.

And then they fed us a bowl of red beans and rice.

So, a lot of this recap was mental, but the race was also interesting so I thought I'd throw a couple things about it here -

  • Combo 50k/50m - so while the 50k was relatively small, it being 3 loops of 10.4 for 50ks and 4 loops of 12.5 for 50ms you never really felt alone on the course because there was usually someone going one direction or the other wearing a race bib.
  • Aid stations were not what I expected - the website said every 2.5 miles, which is a little further than the Chicago marathon but not much, but in practice, there was one at the start, one 4 miles into the loop, and one at the turnaround point. So there were the correct number of aid stations but the placement for 50kers was  a little awkward, because you hit one at miles 4, 5.2, and then 6.4...and then not another until 10.4. I assume this was a bit better for the 50milers though. 
  • Race day weather was lousy, but if the race had been the day before there was talk that it would have had to be cancelled - it was so bad that a section of the trail was literally ripped up, with chunks of asphalt and rocks strewn about. Definitely made me grateful for how much less intense it was Saturday versus Friday! 
  • The price was definitely right. If I had my crap together this race would have been about $50, or 1/3 what Chicago Marathon cost. 
  • The only thing offered after the race was the rice and beans that I could see. I had brought my own protein bar and protein shake for recovery but I was a bit confused. I know it's a very different atmosphere for ultras but I have to wonder if I just missed something, because for so many miles I was hungry! The rice and beans were good, though. 

Edit two days later: Yeah, I pretty much have the worst chest cold ever. No wonder I was struggling to breathe. My daughter has the same thing. That makes me feel both better and worse about the race - it explains the unpredictable struggle, but how would I have done if I were healthy? I dunno - but either way - I finished!