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!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

B2B2B long runs and 71 miles this week

Cold, dark and snowing this morning.  My favorite time to run - no music necessary.  I have not run so much on the road in years so I don't even own road shoes (other than NB Minimus - which tend to give me injuries with to much LSD) and have been road running in my Solomon Speedcross trail shoes.  The traction is sticking on the road and causing me a bit of top of foot irritation so I was grateful to be running on snow and ice today.  Note to self: get road shoes again.

Today was the 2nd in a series of 3 back-to-back-to-back long runs. Ran 30 miles yesterday, 16 today and god-willing another 10 tomorrow.  Ran a total of 71 miles this week.  Lucky for me I felt great this am - legs were not that tired and not at all sore.  Other than general sleepiness - no complaints. Lucky for me, I have a kick-ass mom who will hang the last 5-10 miles with me to stave off boredom.

While this blog is meant to keep friends, family and anyone who is interested in the training progress leading up to my first attempt at running 100 miles - I'm hoping it will keep me accountable with my training.

Ultrarunners are known for being totally obsessive about ultrarunning - gobbling up every bit of knowledge they can find (thanks, Interwebs).  Normally people do not typically want to watch hours long videos of some random person running with a jiggling handheld camera giving a play-by-play of their blisters, nausea and other maladies.  To an ultraunner, though, that makes sense.  So, for anyone who is not sure what exactly and ultramarathon is, here are some answers to common questions I get about running in a 100 mile race:

  • Is this a relay? Nope, I hope to complete the 100 miles myself.
  • How do you not eat for that long?  I will eat!  In ultras we eat a lot... on the run.
  • How do you eat and run at the same time?  You train your stomach to exercise and take in fuel - I prefer to eat real solid food during my runs, I find that my body craves it.
  • Will you sleep?  No.  In longer ultras (yes there are longer ones, people will nap for a few minutes here and there, but not typically for 100)
  • How do you know you can do this?  I don't.  But I can train to be as prepared as possible and hope for the best!
Have more questions?  Ask me!