Monthly Archives: July 2013

7/26/2013 Goldisocks

Thursday. Raining so I’m cheating a little and waiting until this afternoon to do my 10 miler with no backpack whoo hoo. (This will be my second run without a backpack so I’m a little excited). Not to worry though, it’s back on for tomorrow’s 24 miler.

So how is training going? I think I can best sum it up with the age old saying “eh.” I’m doing the best I can with what I got but I pretty much know it is not enough. Every day is consumed in some way by race prep — if I’m not out on the road or trail, I’m on the internet buying and trying crap. My revamped game plan is to train and prepare as hard as I can, make it out there, get through day one which is 30 miles (which would be completing an ultra) and then see how far I get before they say “sorry you have not made the cutoff.” As I write that I guess that has always been my plan — just see how far I can get. I was thinking yesterday that if I can just make it to my birthday (the long stage) and then of course couldn’t possibly quit ON my birthday, and once I make it through that the hard part would be over and why stop? At this point the only thing that would make me stop would be not making the cutoff (real possibility), or an injury (yuck).

Last couple of weeks have been heat wave. Everybody suffering. Last weeks’ 23 miler was only 17 because I was pretty sure I was running around one of the circles in Dante’s hell. I did a very hilly (small mountains) route and when I got to the top of one of the small mountains behind my house, my feet took a right without my mind agreeing and cut off the last six miles. It was 5 hours already and I had planned that I would be able to do the 23 in 6 hours but at certain point I said fuggedabout it. It is so hard to justify bailing on a training run because of heat when you are training for a race in the desert. But I just kept saying, I’ll take heat, it’s just this humidity is killing me.

Coupled with the previous week’s heat, I think I just got heat sick. I had no energy and even trying to do a simple 5k without my backpack felt like I was dead. Later that day I was just sick in bed. But after a couple of days of rest and a break in the heat I felt pretty good yesterday. I was supposed to do 12 miles but only got in 9 due to time. I do have to work on top of everything else. I have 10 to do today, 24 tomorrow and another 10 on Sunday (because I took Wednesday off when I shouldn’t have).

So right now I am a GEAR HEAD (different meaning from what we used to call the kids in high school always fixing their Cameros or Mustangs.) From top to bottom I have been trying and testing every little item. I’ve made a lot of progress but still far to go.

Backpack: This was the easiest. I had success with the Raidlight 30l in 2009 so I just bought the same one. There is actually a newer model but I took the $15 discount and got the same model. $135. I also saved more money because I kept the front pack and bottle holders from 2009 and they still fit on the bag so that was good. So far no problem with the backpack. No chaffing. Comfortable. Need to get some new water bottles with straws.

Clothes: Still trying a few different shirts. The icebreaker shirt I wore in the Sahara somehow feels itchy to me now. Might have been the humidity but I will keep looking. I have it as a backup. I love my skirt sports shirt but it is not odor resistant and believe me I NEED odor resistant in the desert. I have decided I’m wearing my skirt sports trishorts. They have two side leg pockets and they have nothing around the waist that cause chaffing. I’ve tried several different shorts and these are the one’s I keep coming back to – comfy and useful. I’m also wearing a skirt over the shorts. Serves multiple purposes, first for vanity — I feel more comfortable and if I want to change in front of people it can also like a towel or wrap. There is an extra pocket in my skirt sport skirt and I’m all about as many pockets as I can have. I like it. So if you haven’t gathered, I REALLY like

Shoes: The perfect shoes I had for MDS made by New Balance they no longer make. I love my Hokas and they feel great until I get to hour 4 and heat. As wide as they feel when my feet are normal they are not wide enough to not allow friction on the seams. I have tried several different shoes since November and I cannot believe that the most unlikely pair (New balance 910 v1) seem to be the consistent winner. I am going to try to get the men’s version to get them just a little wider but they feel the most stable (for my ankles), seem to support my orthotics and so far my feet don’t seem to swell as much in them (which I can’t understand why). I have a feeling I have a few more shoes to try to get the perfect shoe but I’m narrowing in. The other thing about these shoes is they have spots for me to attach my gaiters. Things I have learned the hard way — every shoe manufacturer has a different sizing system. For Hokas size difference between men’s and womens is 1 size. Men’s 10 = Women’s 11. For Asics and New Balance Men’s 10 = Wome’s 11.5. For New Balance a women’s normal width is a D but D in men’s means wide width. Seriously? After long chat with my new pal at onlineshoes he said no two shoe manufacturers use the same measuring system. Well why the heck not?

Socks: Socks get their own category because I’ve had some major blistering problems which I hope are behind me. Turns out my perfect socks by smartwool are also no longer being made. Seriously what’s up with these sports manufacturers? I’ve tried so many different brands of socks and pretty much all of them work for 3-4 hours. It’s what happens in the heat and humidity after 4 hours. My feet swell. I think I have determined that no matter what socks I get unless my shoes are wide enough then I will get blisters. I have one pair of smartwool that I think are still in the running but I can’t find another pair (Smartwool STOP changing socks). I’ve tried too many different socks to list them all but the major players have been: Balega, (though comfy don’t hold up for ultra distance). Injingi (both regular and wool Mini MD –I like them at first but after 3 hours my toes feel cramped). Wrightsocks (coolmesh II okay but not durable enough). Icebreaker (too thick). Smartwool Phd (they are too thin).Swiftwick Aspire 2 inch cuff (for now these are just right — they have a little compression built in which helps). I do have a pair of Feetures Elite Merino Plus Light Cushion coming in and I have high hopes for them. I have spent a good pile of dough on socks.

Sleeping Bag. Heartbreakingly expensive. I had the marmot for MDS. I liked it. But I need a sleeping bag rated to at least 35 degrees for this race and it was only rated for 40 degrees and I have to show them a tag that it is rated to 35 at least. (Oh and Higgins ate the zipper off the Marmot so it is unusable as a bag anymore). After reading several blogs and race reports most people went with the Western Mountaineering Highlight which is rated to 35 and weighs 1 pound and several people were cold the last few nights. As the race progresses and gets to higher altitudes it gets really cold. I do remember the one night I was stuck out in the Sahara not in a tent and it was just the marmot sleeping bag against the elements I was really, really cold. I had to take my space blanket and even that did not protect me from the wind and cold. I’m also a lot bigger than the gals who were claiming the Highlight is so comfy. After reading a lot of reviews (and errantly ordering a Quilt instead of sleeping bag), I decided to go with the Western Mountaineering megalite which is just a smidge roomier (and I mean smidge) but is rated to 30 degrees which something tells me I am really going to want if I’m tired and cold I will be miserable so this should keep me warm (plus it is suggested we bring a light down jacket). $389 (gasp) at Backcountry. But there is never any sales on these and it is hand made in San Fran. So it’s done, bullet bitten.

Sleeping Pad: This time I am doing an inflatable pad. I’ll tell you why, I think pads do next to nothing so I’d rather go with the lightest one I can find which is the Klymit Inertia X Frame recon edition. Weighs less that 1 pound with a pump included. Bottom line is it in not comfy sleeping on the ground and I’d rather not be lugging a lumpy foam sleeping pad that I cut down anyway. This one is actually supposed to keep me warmer by creaing heat traps. Now watch, with all this warmth I’m creating I’ll be suffocatingly hot at night.

That’s all for now. More on food and nutrition in another entry. I’ve been trying lots of stuff there too. I think I have breakfast and dinner ready just need some work on my daytime nutrition.

So much to doooooo….


Funny aside. I was running on a trail in West Hartford that has a section which runs along a few backyards and is separated by a fence. This guy is in his backyard with a whole operation set up for making kettle corn. I guess he sells it and homemade donuts at Cabelas in East Hartford. He sees me running by and yells to me. I stop and he throws a bag of kettle corn at me and says “a snack for your run.” I thought it was so nice I snapped a picture. Of course his company is called “Faddy’s” which I think says its all.

2013-07-25 09.38.44

Went down a “closed” trail just to see what was down there. Beautiful field of green plants. Until the park cops came and kicked me out. “Closed sign? I didnt’ see that Officer?” ‘Yeah it was on the gate you had to climb over to get in….’ “Oh that sign…My bad…”

2013-07-25 11.31.08

2013-07-25 11.30.58

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7/11/2011 Futz factor

Thursday.  Two blog entries in two days, woo hoo.  I just wanted to update my findings from today’s powerwalk.  Yesterday I did 10 miles in 3 hours.  Today I did 10 miles in 2:40 minutes.  That’s a big difference.  My coach said take 5-10 minutes off of yesterday’s time.  It was hot 82 and humid this morning and I didn’t know how I was going to do that.  Still 8 pounds in my pack (and with the water bottles added it’s over 10).  I thought about all the things I did yesterday that wasted any time.

The shorts that were rubbing against my backpack and made me stop twice to shift my backpack (what could that be 15 seconds?) — today I wore my skirt sports tri shorts (I think they are going to be the winning shorts that go to Grand Canyon).  And I used my friend Michele’s GREAT tip for when you are out of body glide — just use deodorant.   Works great!  (Obviously not the spray on kind, use the solid).

Futzing with water bottles, yesterday I forgot to put a NUUN tablet in one of my bottles so I paused for a second to look for one to add to my bottle (maybe 30 seconds?)  Today I made sure both bottles filled with ice, topped off and powdered up.

Music.  Yes I’ve been power walking and running to music.  Recently I’ve been needing it.  I haven’t had Higgins with me so I like the company.  With Higgins I never listen to music but it is too hot for him to be out there with me.  There is nothing worse than running out of music once you start and yesterday I ran through a playlist and had to load up a second. Today I made sure I had extra music and ready to go.  (That might have taken 45 seconds yesterday).

Text message.  Okay I’ll admit it, yesterday I stopped and answered an email and an text message but they were really short and fast.  But I probably did take 1:30 seconds yesterday to pause, answer those and keep going.  Today I put my phone on airplane mode.

Shoes.  No stopping to adjust laces.  I tied them before I left home and then one more time before I started.  No wasting time stopping to adjust shoes.  That might have taken a full two minutes.

So what does that add up to?  Maybe 6 minutes of my time yesterday was spent futzing.  That’s  a lot.  I also remember slowing down quit a bit to eat some shot blocks at the half way mark.  I know I’m supposed to be practicing my food, but really, I don’t a gel for 10 miles or 3 hours.  Really I don’t.  As long as I eat a good meal and have some NUUN (or this great stuff I found at the health food store called EBOOST) I’m good.  I will take calories earlier if I am going to be out there longer.

The rest of it I’m attributing to form adjustments.  I really swung my arms.  You know they say swing your arms and your feet will follow.  I watched that closely.  When my arms fell to my sides my pace dropped.  As long as I had my arms up and pumping I was doing 15 minute mile and a few times, gasp, even faster.  I also put a little more flex in my knees.  I think I can walk rigidly sometimes — almost like a penguin walk two straight legs.  I tried to lower my center of gravity a little by putting a little flex in my knees and I also focused on rolling off my toes.  It was very different than yesterday.  That said, it was also more energy consuming.  It would have been easier to run at that point.  An easy jog at 13/14 minute miles is easier that a 13/14 minute power walk IMHO.  But the assignment was to practice my powerwalk and I did it and I’m really pleased with the result.

So that made 29 miles in 7:40 minutes over 3 days.  I can live with that.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing some recon on this race I’m doing.  It’s not looking too promising.  I went through all the stages and looked at the times of the people I knew who did the race last year.  Based on their times it doesn’t look too likely that I will make the cutoff.  Just as an example, the first stage last year was 30 miles.  The fastest guy (this is a world-class runner, did it in 4:59).  The two gals who I know do 3 hours and something marathons did it in 8 and 9 hours.  The guy I did MDS with (although I was faster than him at MDS) did it in 11 hours and then DNF’d.   Hmmm.

The second stage last year was 26.9 miles.  The fastest guy did it in 5:52.  The two gals I know did it in 9:52 and 9:51 and the slowest person did it in 13:37.  Okay what kind of marathon takes someone 13:37 to do?  I’m more than a little nervous.

I did look up the person who came in last on stage 3.  Stage 3 is the longest stage — last year 52.7 miles.  The person who came in last took 29.08 to do it (obviously she must have stopped and slept some.)  I looked up her name and it turns out she is a professional athlete named Payge McMahon.  Holy Moly, a professional athlete came in last and took 29 hours to do stage 3?  I’m probably definitely screwed.  But I looked at her website and the article she wrote for National Geographic about the race.  She gave some really great tips.  One of them was that she didn’t do enough long runs.  Her total training miles for a week was about 25.  Okay, I’m over two months out and I just did 29 miles for the week and it is only Thursday.  Plus I have to do 23 on Saturday and 10 more on Sunday.  I do trust my coach that she will make sure I get enough time on my feet.  My worry is that I won’t be fast enough on my feet.  And that I won’t be able to do some of the rock climbing involved (I have that little fear of climbing that might get in the way…)

All that said, I’m a little more determined and a lot more revved.  This is not going to be easy.  I got another blister on my toe today so I’m going to look into some of this Tuf-foot stuff and see if that will work.

I get a rest day tomorrow (well, yoga and a swim but still not on my feet).  Woo hoo.  No backpack.  No backpack — those words are like music to my ears.


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7/11/2013 This is Getting Real

Thursday.  I have a few minutes to release some fears into my blog as it is pouring rain and I will hold off workout until it stops because that’s a gift I’m going to give myself with no apologies.

The last two weeks of training were hard for me.  Moving up to 8 lbs in my pack seemed really hard.  4 pounds didn’t bother me but something happened when I went up to 8 lbs.  I don’t remember it being that hard last time, but frankly I remember very little about last time I trained for an ultra — that was another person ago.  The heat and humidity made it even worse.  Then my coach added double workouts in there to add insult to injury.  Somehow I managed to get them done even if I basically had my friend Jen dragging me through the park walking on the last of my four 10ks in two days.  I really doubted if I could do it.  On the weekend I could barely run even a little, it was so hot and disgusting.  I slogged for hours while calculating how much money I might get back if I withdraw from this event.

Monday’s day of rest was so welcome.  I truly savored it (even though I still had to do yoga, just not having to put that backpack on is a vacation).  Then this Tuesday it was back on with the freaking pack and I had to run for 2 hours (when I say run just assume it is always a run/walk of some variation she assigns via a mystical code I have yet to crack).  So Tuesday it was run 3 minutes walk 2 for 2 hours.  I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden I felt great.  Really running nicely for my 3 minutes and kept it up easily for 2 hours.  The difference?  Though it was really humid it was only 73 degrees.  What a difference that made!

Yesterday I had to powerwalk 10 miles.  I think she did that on purpose because I was feeling so good about my run/walk she took the run away from me.  (Notice I think everything my coach does is a conspiracy to make me miserable?)   Forcing me to walk when I wanted to run.  It took me 3 hours to walk 10 miles.  That’s not good.  I used to be able to walk a 14 minute mile pretty steadily but with the pack I’m not getting that.  It’s 16 and 17’s.  The 3 hours was an 18 minute mile but that did include some quick stops like to futz with my pack, swap water bottles, open a gel, change my music, answer a quick email…. all the stuff Lisa says not to do.  Don’t stop for anything.  Figure out a way to do it while you are moving.  So last night she emails me and says to do another 10 miles today and take 5-10 minutes off my time.  That will be almost 30 miles in 3 days.  But wait it gets worse.

Last night I also got my next training schedule for the next three weeks while she is away running 594 miles in the desert (yeah, that’s right)  and I have to say I let out a little gasp when I read my new schedule.  I started circling the room in a panic.  How am I going to do this? What do I do?  Do I withdraw?  Then it occurred to me, she probably sent me someone else’s training schedule by mistake.  Yes that must be it.  Then I read it for the fifth time and realized, no she means this for me because she tells me what to do while I’m cheering during the NYC Tri (just wear my pack and get in 10 miles somehow but don’t worry about a workout) and what to do during our Color run in 2 weeks (run 3 miles before and after the 5k).  The rest of the schedule was scary. She really expects me to do all of this.

When I look at any one item it doesn’t seem unreasonable — it is all of them strung together.  I saw “run 23 miles with 12 pounds in your pack” and I freaked out.  What? Where did that come from?  I can’t do that!  Then I started to think about it.  Well, geesh you did 7 hours total two weekend in a row with your pack.  And I just did 17 miles in one day when I was out in the Tetons.  The difference was she was giving me time not distance and I have to do it in one day not two.   So it will take me 6 hours instead of 4.5.  Hmm, I guess I can stay out there an extra hour and a half.  It’s not like I’m dead or dying after 4.5.  Okay, okay well maybe I can do that day but what about the rest?

The real difference is these distance numbers freak me out more than time numbers and I think she knows that.  If you say to me put your backpack on for 8 hours and run/walk — I’ll just do it and won’t think twice about it.  Time means nothing to me, I’ll just keep going. But if you tell me I have to do 30 miles, I freak out because I have this idea in my head that there are these magical numbers.  Anything past 9 miles is a long run.  Two 18 milers to prep for a marathon but you wouldn’t do those every week.  26 miles is a marathon, don’t go past that number.  You would never do 26 miles in a training run!  Then I just started thinking about it (all night) why do we have these limitations on ourselves?  I did 9 miles on Tuesday, 10 miles on Wednesday and I feel fine today.  And that was after last week when I did two half marathons in two days and 7 hours on the weekend.  Plus all the other stuff workout stuff I have to do in there like spinning and the pretend pushups (no I still can’t do a good pushup but my situps are good).  Yet after all that I’m not dead. I ‘m not even in any particular discomfort.  I don’t have any knee pain, muscle pain.  I did have a bad ankle for a couple of weeks but I put orthitics in my shoes and my ankle feels fine now.  I had little blister the other day, I fixed that and it hasn’t come back.  That’s about the sum of my ailments.  My weight is not moving but I’m not drinking or eating anything outrageous.  I’m eating whole unprocessed (mostly) foods.  When it wants to come off it will come off.

I finally fell asleep last night thinking that if I just look at one day at a time and not the whole schedule, I  just might be able to do this. There is no one thing that is so unbelievably hard but strung together it looks hard.  But wouldn’t that be a hoot?  If I took each and every thing on that training plan a day at a time and just got it done?  And what if, just what if, I do everything for August too and in September I actually finish this ridiculous race that I really should have no business showing up for?  Wouldn’t that just be a hoot?


“When it seems like the sky is about to collapse, relax, that’s just the roof caving in.”

― Jarod Kintz

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7/1/2013 July Already?

Monday. July already? How did that happen?  I am so very, very grateful to have a day off from training. I’m zonked. I don’t really think it was the workouts (I’ve done longer) I think it was the heat and humidity. It also might have been the intensity. I did 3 hours with 8 lb backpack on Saturday and 4 hours with 8 lb on Sunday.  I’m a little bummed because I didn’t have a scale in CT to accurately weigh my backpack.  I was convinced the thing weighed 20 pounds and what a superstar I was going to be when I weighed it correctly.  Well guess what?  It weighs exactly 8 pounds.  I’m screwed ’cause 8 pounds feels really heavy, I can’t imagine it getting to 20.

Because it had rained so much, the woods were just full of mosquitoes. I slathered myself in bug spray before going out — it didn’t repel them, they seemed to like it. I did get something called Fly Off for Higgins (it’s meant for horses). Day 1 I put it on his fur as directed but day 2 I just soaked his harness and collar in the stuff and then just dabbed some on his ears and tail. He seemed fine. I may have to start using that stuff for myself. It was so disgusting out there was hardly anyone on the trails. I will say that due to the insect dilemma, both days we made record time in getting to top of the mountain. If we stopped for one second a swarm of killer squitos attacked us. I was pushing us hard both days to get away from the bugs. Higgins seems fine as long as I let him do his own pace and if there is water let him run in it.

So one week of no alcohol, no sugar, only wheat has been two slices of Ezekiel bread in the a.m. (sprouted grains). Breakfast, lunch and dinner only — no snacking. Whole foods. And official result? I’m exactly the same, thank you very much. I’m not too worried about it because I feel really sore today which I think means my muscles are bloated though my hands and feet don’t look swollen. I also took salt tablets both days which to be honest I don’t like them. Instinctively I think they are wrong for me. I think I’m too heavy, too old and I don’t think the added salt is good for me in that form. I think I’m going to be better off with some salted snacks on my runs like salted almonds or salted pretzels (I’ll find something healthier). I have nothing scientific to back that up, it’s just a gut feel. I don’t think I should take them.  Maybe when I get to 5, 6 or 7 hours but for 3?  Nah.

I’ve been reading my second book by John Douillard called “Body, Mind and Sport.” He’s the guy who wrote the “3-Season Diet” based on ayruvedic principles.  There is nothing crazy.  I see now that a lot of the CLEAN program is based on some of the same ideas.  I like what he says. Instead of using the 2,000 year old tradition of using the dosha names Kappha, Pitta and Vatta he Westernizes it and labels people Winter, Spring and Summer types. It’s really the same thing but I guess he figures Westerners won’t be so quick to dismiss it if he uses known terms. He gives a long personal quiz in the book for you to determine you body type. But he takes it one step further and he puts questions in there about your mental, behavior and emotional as well as physical and fitness type to come up with what he calls your Mind-Body Type. Based on your Mind-Body type you are suited for different kinds of sports and exercise (and eating regime). So after I answered all the questions I turned out to be even in Winter, Summer and Spring and that is an actual Mind-Body Type. (My body type is Spring, but my Mind-Body type is Winter-Summer-Spring.)

Now comes the funny part. The Winter-Summer-Spring mind-body type is supposed to be an athlete that can excel at any sport (he’s obviously never seen me on a basketball court or on a balance beam). He writes “These types, although rare, have world-class personalities. Their natural gifts are copious, and, with proper training and exposure to the right sports, they can be the best in the world.” I started laughing right about there but then he adds “People of this type rarely get out of balance. But when they do, it can be difficult to get back in.” I stopped laughing. Yeah, well, maybe. Harumph.

The truly funny part is when he lists the sports best suited for each type. Under each sport he goes into more detail. There are a whole list of sports I would excel at that include the hand/eye stuff. I know I am okay at those tennis, golf, baseball, (never tried archery but I would imagine I would like that.) Of course I had to look up running because I was waiting for him to say no way should I be running. In fact he says my mond-body type should excel at ultra running! That line kept me chuckling all weekend long. My physical body type is a Spring (kind of the lumbering bear). Under Hiking/Walking he says it is good for most types except Spring UNLESS they are going up the Rockies toting a 40-pound pack. That left me in stitches. So basically I’m in the right sport but I’m just out of balance…. and need a heavier backpack.

So that’s where I am. Struggling with the weight though I really felt I did well this week. I entered all my food into myfitnesspal and it thinks I should have lost weight. I really think I am just retaining water or muscles are swollen (because I really feel stiff and sore). Mentally I feel very even which is a sign that my sugar is in balance. When I have too much wine or sugary food I feel mentally foggy. Other than being bodily tired, mentally I feel pretty good.

This week I have to do two days (tomorrow and Wednesday) with a 10k in the a.m. and a 10k in the p.m. I have to do them with my backpack +8lbs and we are in the middle of a humidity wave, so I’ll be power walking those hills (although surprisingly we had several hours this weekend when Higgins and I were making decent time.   I don’t really care how fast I go, as long as I can keep a vigorous walk going and no stopping, I’m good with that because I think that’s pretty much how most of my race will go. This is a picture of the course profile. I look at this and all I see are the up hills.  I know there are downhills too but some of those look straight up, I guess those are the rock climbing parts….


The course starts at an elevation of 5,203ft (1,586m) and finishes at 9,030ft (2,752m) with a net gain of 3,826ft (1,166m).
The total ascent over the six stage course is 19,151ft (5,837m) with a total descent of 15,662ft (4,774m).

I’m getting sooo close to putting together all the pieces of my goal of running Farmington to Tarriffville on the Metacomet trail. I have one tiny section to figure out. I am going to feel really proud of myself when I get this accomplished. I started in the fall getting lost pretty much every weekend. Now Higgins and I rule those woods. We know where to look for hidden entrances and not very clear trail connectors.


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