Sunday, March 22, 2015

First 100 Mile Race Report NJ Ultra Festival

NJ Ultra Festival - 26.2, 50K, 50M, 100K, 100 M - March 21st, 2015.

Finished 100 Miles - 27hr :55 min. 25 people set out to do the hundred miles.  Only 9 finished. 
Only 3 woman.  2 finished (including myself).
Pacers: Nate DaSilva, Chris Paulson
Crew: Jen Paulson, Margot Sherwin, Richard Sherwin

 This is a long, drawn out post that will probably only interest those who geek out on running blogs, but if there are two things to take away from my first hundred experience they are this:

Our amazing crew right after the finish - I owe this race to them.

1. It is really all in your head.  "The first 50 is run with your body, the second 50 is run with your heart/mind." So true.
2. If it was not for my crew and pacers, I would not have finished this race before the cutoff. They pushed me and are why I have the buckle.

If you have been following this blog, you know that the "taper crazies" hit me hard in the form of total paranoid of catching the flu (which was actually founded in reality because Nate and the kids both had it and lot of our extended family did as well).  What was not founded was what an annoying mess I was for a good week and a half.  Suffice to say, I did not catch the flu, but did catch a stomach bug a few days before the race (nothing that would keep me from running).  So on Friday, Nate, the kids and I picked up an RV and headed for New Jersey (and into a snow storm) where we would meet Chris and Jen and my parents to complete the crew.

Can't believe it's done.
We pulled up the New Jersey State Fairgrounds - it was bleak, snowing like mad and we were pretty much the only people there except for a few tents that had set up on the concrete under a fair building to escape the snow.  We had a brief race meeting that reviewed pages of crew/ pace notes that I had painstakingly put together as well as went over some advise we had received from seasoned ultramarathoners and then went to dinner at a burger joint down the road.  I gave a lot of crew advice, but really in the back of my mind I was having some real doubts.  I could try and control and dictate crew notes, pack exceptionally well, be totally prepared, but none of that changed the fact that I still had to run 100 miles in the snow in just a few hours.

I picked up my bib number and had a brief chat with the NJ Trail Series amazing race director, Rick McNulty, who gave me some last minute advise, pointing to his head he said, "It's all in here."   All 8 of us (Nate, Me, Chris, Jen and our four kids piled) into the RV we had rented to get to bed by 10 PM.  Nate and I slept above the cab and I had what is one of the worst nights I can remember in recent history.  I remember reading a first hundred miler blog poster who spoke about the mental demons he fought the night BEFORE the race and that is exactly what happened to me.

I laid in bed from 10 - 2 am while everyone else slept with my mind reeling: "There is no way you will be able to do this", "You have wasted everyone's time", "You cannot endure the misery", "You will let everyone down" - all these thoughts went over and over in my head.  I was able to get about 2 hrs of sleep but at 5:45 I just decided to get up and get ready because I couldn't stand listening to myself anymore.  I was trying to hold back tears as I got ready and everyone slept.  I looked outside, the ground was covered in snow, which meant, of course the trail was covered in snow.  100 miles of could hear the groans of the other runners trudging around outside.

I went out to the hanger where the start/finish was with a cup of coffee to watch the 100K racers head out, my mom walked in and I almost burst into tears, "I just had the worst night, I'm terrified, I don't know if I can do this."  Meanwhile, Nate, unbeknownst to me was having his own doubts - the weather was awful, it was such a bleak, dark day, the course would be torturous and the cutoff was only 29 hours.  Then the 100M racers were called, we heard a brief speech from Rick McNulty and off we went. 

Right away I hooked up with three other runners who were also attempting their first 100 so we stuck together and chatted for awhile and talked about race strategy - which for all of us was the same: go out as slow as possible and pray to finish before the cutoff.

Icy, sketchy plank bridges.
What little strategy I had was just to get to mile 50 still feeling decent and then reassess where I was at, restart the clock mentally and focus.  Miles 0-30 were OK - I was trying to just stay in the moment and heed the advice other hundred milers had given me: "You can't run 100 miles, but you can always run one more mile".  Case in point: don't think about the entire task - just keep making forward progress.  I was cruising along at a comfortable pace, making sure to eat and drink pretty much anytime I thought about food or water.  Eventually my stomach evened out and I ran off whatever bug I had.  The weather was tough, though and a lot of people were hurting because of it.  I actually love running in the snow, but after awhile your body is spending so much time trying to right itself to keep from slipping that it becomes draining.  The weather that day was supposed to be 48 and sunny... it was actually in the low 30s with a mix of flurries and drizzle.

At night time, I was seeing three planks
for every one.
What was operating flawlessly, was my crew.  OMG, my crew.  It was like NASCAR - they met me as I came off the trail and by the time I passed our RV everything was ready for me.  They made sure I was eating, drinking and taking S-CAPs and getting back on the trail quickly.  They had posters made and were so, so, so supportive.  Whenever I would pass them I would not even try to make eye contact for fear of losing focus on the task at hand but their support was unwavering. 

Still waiting for this toenail to finish falling off.
When I came in at mile 40, my spirits were good and I decided to do a quick sock/ shoe change as my feet were soaking.  Big mistake.  One look at my feet and I freaked. I started popping blisters, taping my feet and trying to get them comfortable.  What I didn't realize then was that they were not going to be comfortable, so I was just wasting time.  I heard an interview with Coach Ken who was talking about just ignoring the blisters because once you start messing with them it's easy to get in the habit... so true.  I ended up blowing 15 minutes at that aid station and my goal was 1-2 minutes.  Luckily, Nate (who I came to find out behind the scenes was tracking my every move, every calorie, every sat tab and minute wasted at an aid station) did not let that happen again.

The shoe change that took 15 minutes too long.
When I got to the 50 mile mark, I felt physically fine, but my head started messing with me.  The sun was setting and I remembered the first time I ran the 50 on this course and I finished a couple hours before sunset.  I started attempting ultra-math.  Always a big mistake.  Some runners start to really lose their ability to do simple mathematics: I am one of those.  I forgot to mention - I did not have a watch, no one on my crew would tell me what time it was and I did not turn on my phone for fear of seeing a bunch of texts from well-wishes and losing focus.  So basically, I had no idea what time it was, just that the sun was setting and for the first time, I started trying to do cut off calculations.  I had 29 hours to finish, I had to make 90 miles by 9 a.m., but what time was it?? Was I running behind?  

As I came into the aid station I told the crew that I needed to change my clothes for the night, I was wet and cold.  Nate felt my shirt and said, "You are totally dry - it's still warm - we can talk about changing at the next loop."  As I was going to the bathroom both Jen and my mom were urging me to hurry and "Go, go, go".  I began to get resentful and pity myself... they didn't know how hard this was!  The other weird thing that happened to me was I started to revert to this weird state of being a manipulative child.  As I was leaving the hanger I turned on some tears and said to Nate, "I don't want to go in the dark alone".  His reply, "You'll be fine. Go."  So I shrugged and I went.  It was like I was hoping for him to save me - but he wouldn't so I headed out for my first lap in the dark.

Kiki, Wyeth, Ani and Coco cheering me on.
Miles 50-60 I started to get up in head and confused.  It was dark by then - but I couldn't remember what time the sun went down and then I couldn't remember if the time change was the same every year and how far behind I was from my other 50 mile times.  Basically I couldn't think straight.  As I descended back into the trail I remembered that I actually enjoy running alone at night - this is when I do most of my running and I had been looking forward to the sun setting.  I quickly noticed however, that I wasn't seeing anyone on the trail.  I would see someone maybe every 30-60 minutes - but it seemed as though a lot of people were missing.  On a loop race you quickly get to know everyone and where they are in relation to others: "Oh, it's red windbreaker guy... next will be girl with pigtails and neon pink tights, etc"... so it's easy to notice when people are gone.  This loop I started to slow, badly - I was noticing a lot of people starting to hike and I started taking hike breaks.  I had no idea what time it was, I felt lonely and confused.  Icy plank bridges that I had been trotting along earlier in the day now had me stopping and starting at them... scared to fall off into the water.  I started to hate the sound of sliding through slush and snow... it became like nails on a chalk board.  Food was like ash in my mouth and I found myself defiantly throwing the food my crew had given me into the woods in disgust - I even started to hide it in my pack... again, acting like a child.  Physically my legs felt great - this is something I attribute to a lot of training miles, but my back hurt very badly.

Somehow I am smiling here. I was NOT
smiling on the inside.
At the 60 mile mark Rick said I had 10 more miles until 70 where I could have a companion runner.  10 more miles... I could do 10 more miles - but then I would still have 30 more.  I forced the thought from my head.  I got up from my shoe change begrudgingly with way too many different kinds of food churning in my stomach and headed back out for the trail.  I pulled my mom aside and tried to get information out of her again, the manipulative child with tears in my eyes: "Am I too late? Am I out of time? What time is it?"  She just said, "Don't worry, just keep moving forward".  Everyone was looking at me kind of strange - I had the distinct feeling that they knew something I didn't.  At that point, I knew I must have slowed down considerable and was in trouble.

Miles 60-70 I thought were okay.  I was tired, back was killing me and mentally I was having to focus as hard as I could to drive out all negative thoughts and any thoughts about the distance of the race.  For the only point in the entire race I for one brief moment on this loop thought: "I'm tired, I would like to go to bed," and that was it.  Going into the race I had heard horror stories about people having to fight going to sleep on the side of the trail - that never happened to me - sleep deprivation is one thing I am pretty good at overcoming.  Sure, I was tired, but in control of it.  I did start seeing things here - I saw a pink UFO looking thing in the sky and every once in awhile I would stop and have a conversation with a stick or something about how I knew it wasn't really moving around and following me.  I also would see metal bars over the trail and have to talk myself into running through them - that they were not really there.  I would get into a good running grove and then the little things would mess with me mentally - the sound of the snow would irritate me and I would think: "I can't do this anymore" and one negative thought would take a lot of time to recover from.  I began to obsess over the cutoff time.  It was at that moment that I decided in my head (without really knowing any details) that: a) I probably would not make the cutoff and that my family was hiding it from me and b) No matter what I would not be quitting this race - even if my finish was unofficial, I was running 100 miles over the next however-many hours, even if I would not get my buckle.

My amazing husband (the best crew
leader ever) and our beautiful kids.
When I came into the aid station at mile 70 things started to unravel.  The first thing I noticed were the weird looks on everyone's faces... my crew looked at me with pity but were rushing me along and would not answer my questions.  No one would tell me what time it was, I wanted to mess with my clothes again, they would not let me... Nate pulled all the food out of my bag and said: "You are not eating and drinking enough.  This stops now."  Jen forced me to eat some soup and was trying to figure out how many S-Caps I had taken.  I started freaking out that something wasn't right.  That is when Rick, the RD, called over from his laptop: "That loop was 3:21", I heard the sound of warning in his voice.  I panicked - the cutoff, I would never make the cutoff, what time was it?  How was I moving that slow? - was the snow slowing me that much... I was screwed.  I sank into a very dark place.  Nate was dressed and ready - we headed back towards the trail and he said, "I'm going to let you hike down the road into the trail while you eat and then you need to run hard."  He was not messing around.  Some people say that having your spouse pace you is a bad idea because they will buy into your self-pity games.  Not Nate, he was all business.  I started trying to make excuses: I can't run fast anymore, you don't know how I feel, etc. etc.  He basically just ignore my whining.  We got onto the trail and I started up the "Ultra shuffle".  Nate gave me a Red Bull and some S-Caps and got to a part on the trail where you have to slap this plate with a hand on it and turn around - we did that and then there was a guy hiking in front of us... I was siked - now Nate would like me hike like this other guy.  He leaned over to me and said, "I want you to get away from this guy" and we ran.  Now, I don't know how fast we were running, but all of a sudden I felt this surge of energy.  My body was done - it had been done hours and hours ago - what was taking over was my mind.

Any person who I had spoken with who had run a 100 would say the same thing: "The first 50 are run with your body, the second 50 are run with you mind/ heart".  I could actually feel that happening, my mind was taking over my body.  I didn't feel pain, I just felt smooth and easy and light.  Nate was behind me every step of the way: "That's it babe", "You got this", "I've never been so proud of you".  With each encouraging word I felt stronger.  We passed runners coming and going and they all looked terrible - but I felt great.  After every surge I would take a quick minute to fast hike and regroup and then surge again.  This was the third fastest loop I had run so far - only beaten by miles 1-20.  We were buying time.  Chris was set to pace me for the next loop but Nate and I were on a mission - he was going to make me give this race everything I had.  Nate texted back to our crew that he was going to pace me the next loop as well.  Now mind you, Nate had never run more than 12 miles before.  So here he was having had crewed me for almost 20+ hours straight at this point and now he was going to run 20 miles on terrible snowy, icy trails.  I came out of that loop exhausted, but with a glimmer of hope that maybe I could make that 9 am cutoff to head out on my last loop if I continued to run hard.

We blazed through the aid station and headed back out for mile 80.  I had only ever run 50 miles in one stretch before and now at mile 80, I really didn't feel all that bad.  I panicked a bit when we arrived at the aid station and I saw both my parents there.  They were supposed to be at their hotel sleeping until morning.  Why were they here?  What time was it?  It was still dark, but was the sun about to rise? The manipulation kicked in again briefly at the aid station as Nate tried to tell me we needed to run hard again.  “I don’t think I can… I don’t have anything left”.  Once again, we hiked down the road into the trails while I downed a banana, some canned peaches and a bit of Red Bull.  Again, we started with the “Ultra shuffle” but I was able to use my mind again to control my body and run.  Again, Nate was my own personal cheerleader – for every time that I told him “If I don’t make the cutoff I will just do an unofficial finish”, he would tell me, “You came here for the buckle – let’s do what you came here to do”.  I felt so incredibly grateful to have him by my side.  I don’t think anyone else in the world could have motivated me the way he did.

About midway through that lap, it seemed as though every blister on both feet popped at once.  It stopped me dead in my tracks and I felt my shoes fill with fluid.  I told Nate I had to stop and do something about it - I could not run like this.  He said, "I didn't want to tell you this before, but over 60% of runners have dropped out of the race, if you keep pushing, you have a chance to make it and do what you set out to do".  I started shuffling, my feet were on fire... then running, I could feel my big toe nail on my right foot ripping off.  Then my feet went numb.  Again, mind over body.

Miles 80-90 were fast as well.  Not quite as fast as 70-80, but enough to bring us to 90 miles at exactly 8 am, one hour before the cutoff for my last loop.  I panicked a little at the thought of Nate leaving me – how would I run without him behind me?  Could I go on for 10 more miles? 

Now other than my hiding food and getting sick to my stomach and all that, this aid station was the only time I left unprepared.  The elation at making the cutoff had me saying I didn’t need anything but water, I was good – no food, no HEED, just water.  Chris was ready to roll so we headed out.  Nate was gone now and I realized I could now get a nice break, Chris wasn’t going to push me as hard – we could just take it easy.  My math abilities were completely gone and I could not even figure out how far we had to go or mile splits – I was just tired.  On the hike down Chris said, much to my inner resentment, “Nate said you can hike down the road but once we are on the trails, you need to run, girl.”  Again, the manipulation, “Oh, I think I’m okay. I’m really tired.”  Once we were back down on the trail Chris started running right up behind me, I had no choice but to go.  Granted it was a pathetic ultra-shuffle for quite awhile, but at least it was something.  Chris made sure I was moving.  Around mile 95 I started getting dizzy, I reached for some HEED and realized I had none, reached in my pack and realized I had no food.  Shit.  Then the dizziness really started to set in.  As for fueling and hydration my crew had forced me to take care of myself and therefore saved me, but now I was really starting to feel not having any fuel.  I found a half-eaten granola bar on the side of the trailed and ate it.  We got to an aid station that had been manned last time Nate and I came across it, but all that was left was some food on the trail and some Mountain Dew – I downed as many calories as I could and almost instantly felt better.  Only about 4 more miles to go.  Keep pushing.  Chris was urging me  to keep moving, “Come on girl, I’m not going to be the one who let you come in late”… I started to feel that surge again, mind over body.  Getting closer.  A few more miles.  Up ahead I could see our crew cheering – they had come to meet us at the trail entrance.  We ran faster.  Then the hill back up to the fairgrounds – I started hiking it – but Chris was running – let’s do a “strong finish” he said.  I pathetically shuffled up the hill as best as I could.  Only about a mile more, up the hill and then down and around the fairgrounds to the finish. 

Kiki running me into the finish.
My daughter ran in with me.  I had dreamed of this moment  - that I would run in crying or listening to a certain song on my iPod.  There were no tears, there was no music, no marathon fanfare – just the group of supportive people who had seen me through this race there to meet me at the finish.  Rick handed me my buckle.  Right away it hit me as I looked around at my wonderful parents, Chris and Jen and my amazing husband that they were the reason I was here.  Left to my own devices, I would not have made it.  I ran this race, but they carried me through it.  I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and still have it today.  I was not going to finish in time but I did because of them.

I can’t describe the feeling.  I had wanted to run 100 for so long but really didn’t know what it meant to do it or what I would experience.  There is a point where the mind takes over and it no longer matters what the body is doing.  Of course, the best part of all of this is that due to this race and the point of this race is the building of The Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Playground in New Haven, CT.  Cindy had no idea she would have playgrounds named after her or that people would run in her name and I know for damn sure she never thought I would run 100 miles… but life is crazy. 

Someone made a joke during the race about, “bet you are done now” and I said “never again” – but I’m already wondering what’s next…

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my crew: Mom, Dad, Nate, Jen, Chris, Kiki, Wyeth, Annika and Coco.  XO

The buckle I wanted for so long.

My incredibly supportive parents who were with
me every step of the way.

Post-race foot assessment.

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Taper Crazies" or just plain Crazy?!?

I have always thought the "Taper Crazies" were some myth created by ultrarunners to give them something to talk about during a time when they could no longer have conversations like:

Them: "So, what did you do this morning?"
Us: "Ya know, nothin' much - just ran 30 miles."
Them: "Wow! You are crazy!"
Us: "No big deal - I'm training for a 50 - so 30 is, like, nothing. I don't even warm up until 26.2."

(I'm guilty, I'll admit it.)

Sure, I have a penchant for getting some mysterious feverish illness the week before a race and I have a generally high-strung personality, but as far as "Taper Crazies", nope, - just not my style. 

Until now...

It started last Sunday: I ran my last long run, a 5 hour depletion run with the last 1/2 at a pretty good intensity (mostly due to the time change that I forgot about and my needing to be somewhere).  I didn't feel the way I usually feel after my long run which is looking forward to a nice break before the race... I felt... lost, like I was forgetting something or simply like screaming, "WAIT! I NEED MORE TIME!"  I didn't feel physically broken enough - I expected to feel like I was physically a mess going into my taper, proof to myself that I had worked hard enough.  I just felt normal.

Monday: I go into work and start wigging out in a meeting about pretty much nothing.  To put it in simple terms:

Them: We are thinking about implementing X, what do you think?
Me: AHHH blabalabalx #jflajf989#3!!98 (crazy, loud and argumentative - may as well have had 6 heads).
Them: X makes sense for this reason.
Me: Oh, so you want to implement X?
Them: That's what we are saying.
Me: Oh yeah, makes sense.

My busted knees.  Classic "UltraJess" - 1 1/2 weeks before the race
and I bite it hard on the ice.
I have also developed some weird kind of phantom back pain (which I have convinced myself is my desk job killing me), busted both my knees (that actually did happen when I fell on the ice - pics below), and have had people feeling my forehead for fever constantly.  Plus I just find myself pacing around the house - feeling like I should be doing something (uh.... getting my race stuff in order) but unable to get it together.

Then yesterday my poor husband came down with a fever, not a pretend UltraJess fever, but a real fever.  I panicked and started freaking out.  Poor Nate is laying there shivering - he has the flu and we are all doomed!  I have researched every statistic for contracting the flu on the Internet that is available - all of which point to the same thing "Get a flu shot" - Damn!  This is the running Gods conspiring against me because I refused to get a flu shot.... bad karma!  Meanwhile - my sick husband is telling me to suck it up and get some mental toughness - how would I be able to finish 100 miles if I can't even deal with (not really) getting sick?

Update: Nate is still sick (and an amazing husband because despite feeling like crap he is asking me how I am doing - how did I find a man like this???).  I ran 6 miles and felt much better today, so as of now, I am not sick and am going to try and be rational and positive today.

So, yes, the "Taper Crazies" - whatever they are, are real and I think I've got them.  Maybe I can do something productive with my time instead of pacing around the house worrying.... like pack myself for the race, write my checklist... we will see!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Last "long" run done - depletion run

On Sunday I did my last long run.  I had wanted to run back2back 30 milers last weekend, but with the passing of my grandmother last Sunday, I abandoned the 2nd run at mile 2 when I got the news and went to spend the day with me family - so I only got 32 miles in that weekend. 

Technically I was not supposed to do a real long run this past weekend - but runner OCD kicked in and I decided to just do another 26+ run as my last long run to make up for the previous weekend.  Probably stupid in retrospect, this close to the race (especially after reading the great Ann Trason's taper article about not doing long runs for 21 days before a race), but oh well, at this point, what's done is done.

So on Sunday I did a depletion run.  I ate my last meal Saturday evening, had no breakfast on Sunday morning and then ran for 5 hours with no fuel and only 6 ounces of water, with the last hour being the fastest.  I felt pretty good - even with my busted (and now nastily bruised) knees which I hurt when I fell on the ice on Friday.  I was trying to create a physically uncomfortable run and while I certainly was dehydrated, I felt fine.

Also I think the taper crazies might be setting in... either that or just a serious bout of irritability.  So in honor of that: Top Ten Things NOT to Do When You Taper.  I have done almost all of those... today.  I have also become insanely paranoid about becoming sick.  I have annoyed multiple people with: "feel my head, do you think I have a fever?".  Now there is some legitimacy to this because almost all of the children in my family (and some of the adults) got a bad case of Flu B.  Being that we were stuck together in the hospital, hospice and then for my grandmother's services in such close quarters, I think my paranoia is somewhat warranted.  Let's just say I have been drinking Emergen-C like crazy and I do not take vitamins or supplements, typically.  The idea of training for a race for 9 - 12 months and thne happening to get sick for the race is a terrifying thought.

Oh and I finally put my crew notes together and sent them off to the awesome people who will be crewing/ pacing me in NJ!   This is so real, I'm getting excited and nervous.  I literally have no idea how I will handle the second half of this race - it's a crazy thought.  Now it's on to packing and gathering everything together!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2 Weeks 2 Go ... So Much To Do!

The belt buckle for NJ has been posted - ever since I first heard the painful shuffle of 100 mile finishers staggering in during the middle of the night to the sound of a handful of people ringing cowbells, I have wanted a belt buckle.  I laid in our RV in the middle of the night, unable to move after my first 50 miler as the 100 finishers came "running" in and wondered, "How the hell did they run 100 miles?".

No - that's not mine - but I'm hoping it will be!
I remember my first Ultra race like it was yesterday.  I say "race" because I had run Ultra distances previously, but my first Ultra race was in March of 2013.  It was an awesome day.  I love to run, but I'm not a "good" runner.  I have never been fast - I'm just pretty average.  But... that day I had, what I have come to hear coined a lot in the Ultra community, "a good day".  I never really knew what that meant before.  I remember my goal for that race was to never feel really good and never feel really bad and that was just what happened - I just ran the race, I had fun, I passed people - I never once even remotely thought that stopping was an option - the weather was perfect, everything was insync.

At mile 39 I had my first taste of IT band syndrome - it came out of nowhere, I twisted my knee in some mud and boom -  pain down my leg with every step for the rest of the race.... but it was never a question of whether I would finish or not (though it took about 3 weeks before I could run two miles without knee pain afterwards).  Quitting that day was simply not an option.

So with only two weeks (OMG!) to go until my first attempt at 100 miles I am putting my goals together for this race. I have been told you should always have three goals - so here are mine:

1. To finish in under 26 hours (my "lofty" goal)
2. To finish and have a "good day" (my "reasonable" goal)
3. To finish (really, the only goal)

As for first 100 finishing time (which I could really care less about - the main objective here is to finish the race) - I have been told take your 50 mile time on the same course, double it and add half which would give me an aprox. finishing time of:
11:06 + 11:06 + 5:36 = 27:48

One more long run to go this weekend.  Debating on an overnight tonight or an early morning - hope to run 5/6 hours either way.  In true Murphy's Law fashion, I bit it hard on a patch of ice last night on my fast 6 miler and both knees, but mainly the right one, are jacked.  I had to laugh though - it's been a rough couple of weeks - so when at the last 500 feet of on of my last runs throughout this training to take a nasty fall - what can you do but laugh.

The real focus for this week is logistics.  Get the crew their info (more about that in my next post), get packed, make sure I have everything organized so that the final week I can just

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tapering for New Jersey... a sad turn of events

Dolores "Mingah" Quinlivan -
 An absolute stunner.  I will miss
her so much.
***Please note: The St. Paddy's Fundraiser for the Cindy Sherwin Memorial Playground is postponed until April due to a family emergency.  I will post the new date as soon as it is secured***

I am officially tapering for the New Jersey Ultra Festival.  I have not posted in awhile.  I had been on vacation for a week and while we were away my beloved grandmother, Mingah, had a stroke.  She passed away this Sunday morning after days of being surrounded by our big Irish family.

It just hasn't felt right to post lately but I have received so much support from people on this project that I know I need to.  For the first time in my training I have begun to feel (dare I say it without jinxing myself) confident.  Confident that I have put in a lot of miles, more than most training plans suggest, have done a successful 50 mile training run and that barring an injury or insane mental struggle that I simply can't combat... I have a good chance of finishing this race.

This past week I ran a bunch of 10 miles and was scheduled to run a 30 on Saturday and a 30 on Sunday.  Saturday was fine but 2 or so miles into my Sunday run I got the news about Mingah and the run was never completed.  Rather than stress about it, I'm going to be confident in the rest of my training, primarily because I have no choice and the negativity is not going to help at this point.  I have focused so much on running this for Cindy and to build the Cindy playground and now I will be running for Mingah too - she was always so incredibly support of me.  The best news in all of this is that The Cindy Sherwin Memorial playground has far surpassed the fundraising goal:

We have so far raised $30,630, plus have an additional committed $15,000 in corporate donations and still have the fundraiser with excellent silent auction items ranging in value from $100 - $6000.  We are on pace to raise around $50,000 for the playground.

I am so overwhelmed by all the support for this project and I know Cindy would be so amazed all this is being done in her memory.  My task is now to focus (which I'm finding really hard given everything else going on) to mentally prepare, to run and to get all of the logistics for this race handled.  I will be posting more on details later - but for now, thank you to all the supporters of this project.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Some Physical Issues... Heading To Warmer Weather...

One thing I have neglected to mention on this blog is that I have had this weird chronic cough since Thanksgiving. It's been better at times and worse at other times.  I had been feeling pretty crummy before Christmas so I went to the Dr. (not something I do often) - they listened to my lungs and said I was fine.  So the cough stayed - its pretty bad at night and more annoying than anything.  Since Christmas I haven't felt sick at all - I just have annoyed people with my nasty hacking all over the place (especially my poor husband at night and my mother, who shares an office with me).

After the -15 run the cough got a bit worse, but I didn't think much of it.  After the 50 miler last weekend, and it's funny I was so excited about how well the run went that I didn't think to mention it, I sat in my car coughing for a good 10-15 minutes before I was able to drive.  Funniest part of all of this: I almost never cough while running, just the rest of the day.

So with a sleep deprived husband and  saintly mother who is about to quit her job or punch me in the face if I don't stop coughing, I elected to go back to the Dr. She sent me for x-ray and turns out my lungs are all inflamed and I have asthma and am not allowed to exercise outside in the cold for at least 10 days (I did sneak in some skiing today, I'll admit it - but I wore a mask and it wasn't that cold out).  I'm on steroids (which I can't stand) and an albuterol inhaler.  Due to my not being allowed to run in the cold for a bit I went for a nice 9 miler on the treadmill this morning ("nice" and "treadmill" should not be in the same sentence) and watched Unbreakable: The Western States 100 (the best running movie EVER) and imagined I was running in the woods with Geoff Roes and Hal Koerner....sure made the time fly by.  Light. Smooth. Easy. Fast.

Sooooo, for those wondering, apparently the cold can upset your lungs.  Lucky for me, heading to Disney with the fam tomorrow - so weather will be warmer and hopefully will log some nice mileage down there and spend some much needed chill time with the hubby and kids.

After vacation - it's getting down to business.  I will be exactly 1 month out from the 100 and I hope to log 100 miles that week before I begin my taper.

By the way, speaking of Geoff Roes, was listening to this great, albeit old, podcast on Running Stoopid with Coach Ken ... awesome Roes interview I had never heard before: 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gear, Shoes and Stuff

The biggest reason for wanting to incorporate a 50 mile training run into my plan was to test out my fueling/ gear.  I am very used to 30 mile runs and can tough one out after no breakfast with nothing but water and maybe a small snack.  Not good for a hundred miler according to pretty much everyone.  The hard and fast rule I have been told (by many people) is: "Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirst and walk before you have to".  So  I knew I needed a nice long run with a focus on going slow and steady and really paying attention to fuel.

VESTS/ HYDRATION I had two vests set up:
Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest and a Nathan Zelos Vest I recently purchased as a back-up because it had a flask in front AND a hydration pack for water, it got really good reviews (and I'll admit it, I like the colors).  The UD vest has two bottles in front and and storage in the back, but no built in hydration pack.  I have thrown one in there, but I feel like it throws off the vest and takes up all the storage space.  I had used the Nathan vest last weekend on a long run and was kind of irritated by the lack of lower chest strap.  The UD vest has an upper chest and lower chest strap which helps manage bounce and balances the weight, the Nathan vest has only an upper chest strap so your shoulders bear most of the weight of the vest and because there is only a flask on one side, it feels kid of uneven.  That being said, I decided to pack both, start with old reliable (the UD vest) and switch if it became uncomfortable.

To make a long story short, I never even used the Nathan vest.  The UD vest was perfectly balanced and comfortable and I like seeing both bottles so I can monitor hydration and they are top of mind. Plus, I don't have to fiddle around with the sip tube or worry about it freezing (which has happened to me many times).  The one good thing about the Nathan vest is that it has so many storage pouches and pockets, plus the resevoir, and bright colors for road safety, but since I'm only doing 10 mile loops on the trail, the UD vest will probably be my first pick.

Because the weather was comfortable (upper 20's) losing fluid was not really an issue - I drank about 65-70 ounces of water, 32 ounces of HEED and took 1 SCap every hour or so.  This is totally aproximate as I basically followed a "drink when you think about drinking" and "take an SCap when you can't remember when you last took one" motto.

SHOES I had two pairs of shoes:
This run took place on the road, though I took two pairs of trail shoes: Solomon Speedcross 3 - these are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.  They feel soft and cushioned with a large toe box, but you can still feel the ground under you - which, to me, is important on the trail, especially on New England rocky/ root covered trails.  This particular pair I have worn down the sole from road running, so it's more road than trail shoe now anyway.  The second pair I took were my new Hoka Stinsons.  I actually have Hoka road shoes, but for some dumb reason grabbed the wrong ones.

I recently bought the Hokas because of all the great reviews and every time I have run in them I just don't get it - they feel like I'm running on foam... which for me doesn't feel right probably because I'm pretty used to minimal shoes.  That being said after mile 40 I was feeling a little stiffness in my legs, so I decided to switch from the Solomons to the Hokas.  Okay... I get what all the buzz is about.  While I would never wear those shoes to just "go for a run" - after 40 miles, the bouncy, foamy feeling was real nice.  I guess that is why they are marketed as an "Ultra shoe"... duh.  Anyway, I will certainly be bringing these along to the race but will delay wearing them until I feel like I need to.  I got them a size too big to make room late in the race for foot swelling, so they will be my relief shoe.  The Hoka Stinson's have a really large toe box and are very roomy - so I probably should have only gotten them 1/2 size bigger, I will have to watch for rubbing/ blisters with them.  I will probably start off in my Solomons as they just fit so nicely.  No blisters from either shoe on this run.

Fueling went pretty well overall.  I don't do gels because every time I have ever taken gel I bonk due to stomach issues - they are so gross to me.  Over the course of the run I ate: 2 PBJs with salt on them, 1 Clif Bar, 4 big fig newtons, HEED and SCaps.  I probably could have taken in more calories - but that was really all I took with me.  My stomach does best with solid food on runs so I will stick with that.

I have never run with electrolyte drink before recently.  Every run I had done in the past was H20 only, primarily because of the issue I have with gels... I have with electrolyte drink.  They make me sick and nauseous.  I recently started trying HEED because it doesn't have simple sugars (which I think is my problem) and so far it has been working out great.

50 Mile Training Run Report. Done and Done!

First - I have to report we have hit $9,950 - only $5K short of our fundraising goal!  We have received some great corporate donations and are gearing up for our St. Paddy's themed fundraiser on March 8th at The Stone House in Guilford!  To donate: 
To purchase fundraiser tickets ($75/ pp): 

There are all sorts of training plans for first time 100 milers.  Some people say you can get away on running 50 miles per week with one really good long run of 30+ on the weekends.  Others say you have to peak at 100 miles in a week to get your body the feeling of what it will be like to run that kind of distance (even though it's over the course of the week).  And others swear by back-to-back-to-back long runs to get your body used to running on tired legs.

When I ran my first ultra of 50 miles in 2012 I used the the back-to-back long run method with a peak of 30 miles on Sat. and 20 on Sunday.  That plan really helped my confidence because I knew that if I could run 50 miles in 2 days, I could certainly tough out 50 miles in 1 day.  The plan worked.

So, for my first 100 miler I have elected to go with the back-to-back-to-back method with a peak of 30-20-15 but I really wanted to incorporate a 50 mile training run as well.  My goal for the run was to finish feeling not depleted, but like I still had more in me.

Last week's post was about about my epic fail attempt at that, overnight, in -15 temps.  In retrospect, I probably set myself up to fail because of the insane wind and weather that night. Needless to say I made it 20 miles before heading to my gym only to find it closed and had to finish the miles the following day.  I was not happy about it.  All week I obsessed - should I have just kept going?  Why did I stop, was it really the cold or was it my mind? Am I too weak for this?

I set yesterday for another attempt at the 50 mile training run.  Technically, I did not need to do this - plenty of people max out at 30 mile runs for 100 miles, but I really felt like I needed the confidence boost - so I decided to set out again.  

I am happy to report that yesterday's run went flawlessly!!! Temp started out at 17 and went to high 20's (perfect), light snow flurries all day and I felt great.  The 100 miler I am training for is 10 loops of 10 miles, so yesterday I did 5 loops of 10 miles.  I wanted to take it easy enough so that I had plenty left when I finished. Fast hiking the hills, running the downhills and jogging the flats and it went great.  I really warmed up at mile 30 and 35-50 I was comfortably cruising.  I finished the run absolutely not feeling spent and could have continued no problem.  Other than some back/ shoulder pain and fatigue I felt fine after and this morning.  Pretty much no fatigue in my legs and I spent today skiing.  This tells me I must be getting stronger and the back-to-back-to-back runs must be helping because after previous ultras I can barely walk the next day.

Of course, the thing that I worry most about is my mind - it's really easy at 4 AM when it's freezing cold to say "screw this, I'm going back to bed" - there has to be something dragging you out.  I think of Cindy and how she can't run here - I also think of those kids who will be getting an amazing playground... I can't let them down.

A more technical post to follow on nutrition and gear reviews...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Turning it around...

It was an interesting training weekend to say the least.  Nate was away all weekend so it was just me and the kids with a busy weekend which meant I had one night to fit in my long runs.  I had arranged for the kids to stay with my parents Friday night so I could run through the night and pick them up first thing in the morning.

What I did not realize is that Friday night temperatures were to be between -15 and -25 from high winds.  I started off around 8/ 8:30 and all was fine.  Around 10 PM I started having trouble... the wind was so bad that at times I was practically running in place and it was beyond cold.  I had 3 top layers, two bottom layers, a hat, earband and a Tyvek suit over all of it.  At points the wind was so bad I was getting (what I'm assuming) was seasick or something and was just dry heaving in the middle of the road.  At about 1:30 I said enough was enough and decided to head to my 24 hr. gym to finish out the night.  When I removed the Tyvek suit my body was covered in ice and snow.  Stopped at Dunkin Donuts grabbed a large coffee with espresso and headed to the gym (still shivering 30 minutes later).  When I got to my gym, much to my frustration, I learned that it is only open 24 hrs M-Thursday... so there went my gym run.  Not one to just bail on a run, I checked the weather and that is when I learned about what the temps actually were outside.

Needless to say, I spent about 45 minutes in a hot bath thawing out and all jacked up on espresso fell asleep around 4:30 to wake up at 6:00.  I was not happy about any of this.  I forgot to mention that despite being out there for 5 hours I only actually went 20 miles....the wind and cold was that bad... it was practically the speed of a power walk.

So I posted on the OutRun 38 (a kick butt group of runners) facebook page that I was bummed about the failed run and they were basically like: get back out there and finish the miles.  This reminded me that just because I had it set in my head to do it all that night didn't me that I couldn't adjust the plan for the circumstances (adapting like that is not my strong suit).  When I bailed on the run and the gym was close, I felt like the whole weekend was just shot.  After the advice from the "OutRunners" - I got in a much better mindset and remembered why I'm doing this training in the first place.  I spend the morning treking in the snow with the kids and then luckily enough my husband got home in time for me to get out there and finish my miles.  Best part... it was a balmy 27 degrees, a whole 40 degrees warmer than when I ran on Friday night and a great run.

What was initially a crappy training weekend ended up being pretty good training after all.  That being said... still need to do that 50 mile training run :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mind Games

It's crazy how my confidence is so easily effected by a recovery/ low mileage week/  Last weekend was a recovery week (which was convenient with the weather) - but it really shook my confidence in my training... I just feel like I'm not doing enough.  I equate my mindset while training for an ultra like being pregnant... it's never far from my mind - no matter what I do; at work, sleeping, hanging out at home... in the back of my mind I'm always thinking "I'm training. I'm training."  Talk about OCD.

Anyway - recovery weeks shake my confidence.  I start to feel like I have forgotten how to run and fear my training run.  I have scheduled an overnight run where I hope to run somewhere between 10 - 12 hours.  It's supposed to be pretty cold too... will see how it goes.  I'm getting very nervous (and excited, of course).  I read all sorts of things on various blogs and hear on podcasts all this contradicting advice about how to succeed and what it takes to finish.  It's hard to sort through it all and trust the training I am doing.  Some people run 50 mile weeks, some run 100 mile weeks, etc... what is right? What is enough?

So far we have raised $7,600 and are at 51% of goal to build Cindy's Memorial Playground at West Rock Young Author's Academy - this dream of building a playground for Cindy in this area is actually happening.  I just have to keep thinking of those kids and how they will benefit from this race and how I am lucky enough to be able to run, while Cindy cannot.

On the brighter side, we are resurrecting the UltraJess UltraBus - which includes piling into a rented RV and camping on the side of the trail.  I'm collecting a bunch of my favorite mantras to put on the side of the bus as motivators.  Interestingly enough, and I did not know this before today, the word "Mantra" is Sanskcrit for "Instrument of Thinking".  Some of my favorites (feel free to post yours in the comments!)

  • Relentless forward progress
  • Pain inevitable, suffering optional
  • Sometimes you just do things
  • All day
  • One step/ moment/ mile at a time
  • Grind it out
  • Run your own race
  • This is what you came for

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Recovery Week, Shoe Reviews and Hitting The Slopes

Breaking trail on the Mattabassett
Nice easy weekend.  1.5 hours yesterday out on the trails/ snow and an easy 10 this morning run/ ice skating.  Amazing weather this weekend and finally some snow!  Since it was a low mileage weekend we got to spend some decent time skiing on Saturday which was a nice break.  Now we are preparing for the snow-pocolypse like the rest of CT.  I'm siked - more snow = more skiing, snoe-shoeing hiking!!! Yippee!! (Trying not to think of the impending time on the Dreadmill - which I have avoided all winter thus far)

So, nothing interesting from a running standpoint to report, but thought I would do a few shoe reviews.  I have been running in Solomon Speedcross 3's - trail shoes but I've been taking them on the road as well.  These are the most comfortable running shoe I have ever worn, hands down.  Nice wide toe box, the bungee laces and are so comfortable inside and very warm for winter.  The feel stable on the trail, but I still feel like I have the feel of the ground and can react.  That being said - I decided to get two pairs of Hoka One Ones to try out, which is totally weird because the Speedcross is more shoe than I have worn in years.  I got the Cliftons and the Stintons and I got them both a whole size larger than my foot so I can wear them after feel swell.  I have a wide foot, but these things are wide and the toe box is super-wide, I probably should have gotten them smaller.  So I ran for the  first time in the Hokas this week.  I don't know how I feel about them - they just seemed so heavy (and they are actually really pretty light) - I'm just so not used to  all of that show, plus again, they are so big so not

My beloved Solomon Speedcross 3 Trail Shoes
that comfortable.  The road shoes I get - but the trail ones, I'm not sure if I will like them as I don't see how you will have any feel of the trail.  Because of all the snow on the ground, I have to just run into snow, so I have no idea how the show will react on the trail.  That being said, the jury is still out on the Hokas.  

Also, I have to give a shout out to the Ultimate Direction ultra-vest bottles.   So I bought my Ultimate Direction, Anton vest a year and a half ago and my son proceeded to eat through the squirt part of the bottle (the rubber part) - he actually chewed a giant hole in it.  I ended up taking the messed up bottle out in my vest and couldn't
Hoka One One Stinson Trail Shoes
believe it - that thing did not leak at all - even with the giant hole - once the squirter was pushed down the bottle didn't leak a drop.  Nice job Ultimate Direction!
Skiing with the family at Powder Ridge (conveniently 1.5 miles from home)

Recovery Week is Over

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to The Cindy Sherwin Memorial Playground this week.  DONATE HERE

Officially the end of a low mileage recovery week - only had to run about 36 miles this week which felt pretty weird after the weekly mileage I have been putting in lately. It was nice not to feel as exhausted as I have in the last couple of weeks and get some more sleep.  Though, I must say, the low mileage week made me a little uneasy/ cranky - which I guess is pretty common for people.  The good part about having some extra time this week was starting to get the fundraising materials out for The Cindy Sherwin Memorial Playground!!

We just started the fundraising effort officially this week and have already raised $6305.00 in private donations, $15,000 from The Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Foundation and we just got word we may be getting some pretty big corporate sponsorship (****fingers crossed****)!  The playground will be at The West Rock Young Author's Academy in New Haven, CT.  The school is a pre-K - 4th grade elementary school.  Many of the students spend their entire day at the school - from 7:30 am - 5:30 pm (much longer than the traditional school day).  Their playground equipment is broken down and cautioned taped.  We went to visit the school right before Christmas and knew right away it that was where we wanted the playground to be.  In addition, the playground will be used by families living in surrounding housing projects- so their will be a large benefit to the community. (Some pictures of West Rock Young Author's Academy are to the left).

The school has also been taking some serious steps towards promoting physical fitness, health and wellness for both the student body and the staff.  Both the health and wellness goals of the school and the clear need for adequate equipment makes West Rock Young Authors the perfect candidate for this project!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wow. This is actually happening.

So... we have officially started fundraising for The Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Playground and have already raised $2355.00 towards the playground from so many generous people.  The support is really overwhelming.  Also the reality is setting in for how much of an undertaking this run is so I am doing a bit of reflecting on how this all came to be.

Why 100 miles?  

2 1/2 years ago I became interested in ultra distances and running trails.  I'm kind of an all-or-nothing personality and I wasn't really into the marathon distance and would get bored out of my skull on the road.  When I was training for my first marathon in 2007 I had seen some videos of these guys running distances longer than a marathon.  That seemed so crazy to me, not because of the distance (which of course seemed impossible) but because so many people would talk about this "wall" that lived around 26 miles and how your body could only store so much glycogen, etc. etc. so I wondered who these ultra people were and why their bodies were different.  I then learned that ultras race were all over - and normal people were running them.

That was all it took - I had zero interest in every running a road marathon again.  I already knew I could do that, I wanted to see what happened after 26.2.  During marathon training it almost sounded like at 26.3 miles your legs would fall off and the earth would implode.  I tucked ultras in the back of my mind.

In 2011 I was doing a lot of obstacle races, crossfit-type training, Tough Mudders, GoRuck Challenge... but despite the excitement and good feel after these races, the ultra was always in the back of my mind.  I skipped the 50K and signed up for my first 50 miler in March of 2012.  The 50 miler was a blast - in fact - the best race day I ever had.  I felt incredibly strong and mentally clear and so grateful to be able to be running in it.  I loved every minute of it - other than an IT band issue at 40 (which resulted in a weird limp/run for the last 10 miles) I had no real trouble at all.  We were camping in an RV on the side of the trail and after the race went to hang out in the RV and relax.  My mom and sister who had done their first trail marathon that day fell asleep pretty quickly - but I was kind of elated and didn't feel like going to bed - but too tired to move I just lay in the RV and looked out the window.  That is when the 100 milers started coming in and they kept coming all night long.  I just watched them, totally fascinated.  They would shuffle in, all hunched over - not to fanfare like at a marathon - but just to a couple of people standing there ringing a cowbell.  Every once and awhile throughout the night I could hear/ see a hundred miler come in.  How could they go that far??? By that time the soreness had kicked in and I could barely stand.  I was totally sucked in.  I went home so excited - about my finish, but also knowing in the back of my mind I was heading back there at some point to attempt the 100 mile distance.

A couple years later and I'm on my way back to give it a whirl.  They say the first 50 is run with your body, the last 50 is run with your head.  I believe that is probably true... I want to see what I'm really made of mentally... How will I act when everything in me is telling me to quit?  Will I even be able to think straight?  What if I get injured?     There are so many unknowns.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Long runs and lots of ice!

Just finished Sunday long run.  30 miles yesterday and 20 icy, icy, icy miles this morning.  One more long run tomorrow and then an "easy" week.  Some areas of the road were much more like ice skating than running.  Once cars started coming out I took it to woods for safety reasons, but before that I was having some fun skating down the hilly roads!  I pretty much had been running strictly trails for the last 2 years but because of all the ice and having to run pretty much always in the dark I have been running roads for the last 2 months.  Today however, circumstances allowed my run to be almost all in daylight and it was GREAT running out on the trails today.  I bit it pretty hard on an ice covered rock, which resulted in my quad being very nicely stretched out - I then spent a good 30 minutes entertaining the idea of falling in the same way to stretch out the other quad and if that was even possible.

Made a nice batch of Scott Jurek "Recovery Chili" (from the Jurek's book "Eat and Run")  modified with Red Quinoa instead of Bulgar - but absolutely delicious, topped with Avocado and my go-to for cold weather post-long run recovery.

Yesterday, relaxing at the firepit - after long run... sunny and 25.. gorgeous out and props to my hubby, Nate, for (tolerating all the hours devoted to training for this race) keeping the fire going!

Friday, January 16, 2015

I am running this race for Cindy Sherwin, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm on April 23, 2007. The race will benefit the building of The Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Playground at West Rock Young Author's Academy in New Haven, CT. West Rock Young Author's is Pre-K - 4th grade magnet school in New Haven in desperate need of play equipment and school upgrades. Not only will this playground benefit the children who attend the school, but it will be a safe place to play for children and families who live in the surrounding housing projects. Please donate to this project and help support Cindy's mission of health and wellness for youth... these kids really need it! Click here to donate and support us!

The day Cindy suffered her aneurysm happened to be my birthday. I was expecting a call from my husband about going out to dinner and ended up receiving a much more devastating phone call. Cindy, who happened to be the healthiest person any of us knew, had been training for her first Iron Man. She was a personal trainer, celebrity trainer, nutrition guru - her passion was health and wellness. She would come up to stay at our parents in Guilford and take these insanely long bike rides and be running all over the place - I never understood how she could do that...let alone enjoy it. I remember sitting in the living room with her and asking if she thought I was capable of running a marathon. She said "of course" I was. It was pretty comical really, I was completely unhealthy, smoked a ton and had not run since high school... but it stuck in my head. Not long after that day we were at Jeff's wedding, having a blast. Cindy, as usual, looked stunning and was funny and endearing and just generally awesome to be around. Two days later Cindy went out for her morning training ride and suffered the aneurysm on her bike. Obviously it was a terrible, terrible time. It was in the hospital waiting room that The Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Foundation was established to memorialize Cindy.

What happened after, for me at least (I won't speak for anyone else), was really a huge change in perspective on life. For the first time, probably ever in my life, I really cared about being healthy and did not feel invincible ... that change in perspective is my connection to Cindy. That fall a bunch of family and friends ran The New York City Marathon in her honor and since then multiple events, teams, memorializing projects and donations made to organizations supporting her mission have ensued. What continues to amaze me is how someone can die and be gone, but the impact that they can have after they die is so much larger than when they were alive. I know that Cindy's death and influence has directly or indirectly changed the lives and goals of people that she has known and people she would never even meet. That being said, I am attempting my first hundred mile race in honor of Cindy. It seems to fit. 100 miles is going to hurt, probably a lot more than I can comprehend even through my training, but its just hurt and I'm grateful to be alive and to have two legs that I can run with. This race and Cindy's death are going to provide a group of children with a safe and beautiful place to be healthy and to play. This will be the 2nd Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Playground - with the first having been built in Brooklyn. I'm sure she would be so proud to have touched so many lives.

We will be hosting an Irish Night Fundraiser on 3/8/15 from 3-6 pm at The Stone House Restaurant in Guilford, CT. Food, drinks, irish music & dance and a silent auction. Tickets are $75 per person. To reserve your tickets, click here

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

By Far Coldest Run I Have Ever Been On

It's currently 8 degrees out with a wind chill of -7.  I was only half planning on running today because of all the cold hype.  A ton of schools have scheduled delays for tomorrow for the cold and CT people are freaking out over the weather (which is pretty standard... the freaking out, not the weather).

That being said I headed out tonight in a ton of clothes and one of husband's yellow Tyvek hazmat suits.  The Tyvek was a smart decision for sure.  I went out in just the clothes to test them - no good, but after putting the suit on I was not cold at all - with the exception of my face which eventually was just numb.  Note to self: bring a Tyvek suit to the race.  I have heard that its common to get hypothermia at night and that your body stops being able to regulate it's temperature at a certain point - so I'm packing some of these bad boys for sure!

One interesting thing that I noticed was that despite the fact that I was pretty much warm (save for my numb face), it was very difficult to run.  It almost felt like being at altitude... I was definitely moving slow - but got a good amount of honks from drivers - by so that was encouraging (probably more for my ridiculous appearance a la "running from the zombie apocalypse")!

Monday, January 5, 2015

3rd of B2B2B Done

Midnight. Just finished my 3rd consecutive long run at what I consider the hardest time to run after a full day of work, kids are in bed and its only 16 degrees outside.  (Watching a movie with my husband was beckoning big-time)  I know I said I like cold best yesterday, but 16 degrees is pushing it.  I had on two pairs of pants (and I mean old school sweatpants), knee-high socks, 2 long-sleeve shirts and a fleece - a big wool hat.  I had on so many shirts that I could barely fit my reflector belt around my waist.  So cold - my body was still numb.

About old school sweats: there is something totally awesome about them.  To be clear, I'm not talking about "yoga pants", I'm talking about sweatpants - circa 1970-80, with tapered ankles, matching sweatshirt and typically grey heather.  Honestly, I don't know why more people don't wear them.  I have shown up at race sans tech gear in my sweats and I get some pretty weird looks.  They are totally comfortable - way more comfortable than tight spandex, in my opinion.  I will admit it... I rock the old school sweats.  There is actually one dude who runs around where I live and he's got the old school sweats on - and even puts up the hood, Rocky-style. To the guy who runs on 157 in Middlefield, CT kickin' it in the sweatsuit... I'm with ya!

Recovery day tomorrow - and I need it, more for my mind than my legs.  Legs feel good, still top of foot pain on the right (which I have to rock because I have gotten stress fractures), but otherwise physically I feel fine.  Mentally on the other hand... I'm exhausted.  I've seen things that aren't there or gotten kind of kooky on some long runs - but today, that happened on my ten miler and it's clearly because of the mental tiredness from the last three days.  So, on that note, it's now 12:40 and time for this girl to get to bed!