Race Recap: Landsford Canal 50k

31.1 miles on a steamy 90-something degree (I heard 104 with heat index?) day, does it get any better? I think not! Runner Friend Carrie and I have often commented that it’s the run on the super cold, rainy, or hot day that makes you feel extra badass at the end. Same with going hilly or attempting fast. Basically the run that brings you to your knees mentally always manages to leave you with the best sense of accomplishment. The run where conditions looked so cruddy that you didn’t even really want to start, much less keep trudging along, that ends up being the proudest finish. The Landsford Canal 50k was one of those runs.

I got up on Saturday morning at 4:30, ate some breakfast, body glided and sunscreened and loaded up my pile of gear.

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The cooler had 3 bags of ice in it, bottles of Accelerade, cans of coke and a victory chocolate milk. The black and white bag had golden Oreos, tortilla chips, Shot Bloks, Gu, sunscreen, bug spray, bandaids and other assorted comfort items. The polka dot bag carried extra clothes, fuel belt, visor, sunglasses, iPod, headbands/ponytail holders and post race flip flops. The blue jug holds 2 gallons of ice water. That whole tower of crap for one person and one morning of running. I’m no good at packing light anytime going anywhere. Sure I don’t end up using half of it but I also never ask anyone else to carry my stuff. So there.

Met up with Runner Friend Amy on the road at 5:30am and formed a caravan to Landsford Canal State Park. We slid into parking spots by about 6:10, got checked in and set up our little tailgate aid stations. Then spent some time chatting up Runner Friends new and old until it was time to start the race at 7am.

Race director Claude Sinclair gave some quick instructions regarding the course, a quick out and back to even out the mileage overall followed by 7 loops of a 4.15 mile route. Then I think said “Go” but I didn’t hear him. I just followed the crowd. The course is nice. It starts out with road for about 2/3’s of the loop and finishes with a trail section. There was shade on the road for the first few laps and the trail is shaded all day. There’s steep hill right as you leave the start area and another couple milder hills after that.

I fell in alongside Runner Friend Karen right from the start. She’s faster than me but must have been hurting for company because she stuck around for the long haul. Thanks again, Karen! I’m pretty certain I would have claimed my first DNF if I’d been alone. The heat was hard enough for me mentally. I could not have taken loneliness or boredom along with it.

Claude had an aid station at the start/finish but the girls and I had packed all our own stuff so we made pit stops at our cars each lap. I took a 20 ounce handheld bottle of Accelerade out with me every other lap. I’d fill my fuel belt water bottles on the other laps. I also took a salt pill or two each lap and shove some ice into my shirt. Unexpectedly, some really awesome guys had driven all the way up from Charleston and set up an aid station at mile 2 entirely on their own dime and good will. After lap 2 or 3 we started making stops for refills of ice and water there as well. In the later hours this aid station was in just the right spot to provide sweet relief after about a 1.5 miles of totally sun exposed road. It was like a desert mirage come true. These two guys would greet us like we were celebrities, taking our bottles out of our belts and filling them up for us while offering us an array of snack options. I really can’t get over how genuinely nice it was for those guys to come out and do that. I am inspired to pay it forward as soon as I can.

The first couple laps felt good and we were managing a nice pace. It was warm but not nearly as uncomfortable as I had expected. Really I always think that once you are completely drenched in sweat it just doesn’t get any worse. You hit that rank saturation level and it is what it is after that. I had been thinking I might be able to complete the 50k in 6 hours but, even when we hit the halfway point right at 3 hours, I pretty much knew in the first few laps that it wasn’t going to happen today.

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Photo Credit – Claude Sinclair

I started slowing in the 3rd or 4th lap. Spent a little more time stopped at the car. Walked not just each hill, as is my 2nd favorite ultra habit, but also more and more of a stretch at the top of each hill. You know, general lollygagging about. I felt pretty good but I had a really hard time getting calories in. I’ve done Gu or Shot Bloks in half marathons and marathons but snack food type food at the two ultras so far. This time around I could not get any solid food down. I managed water and Accelerade drinks just fine.  But any time I tried to take a bite of a chip or a cookie or pretzel (usually my 1st favorite ultra habit!) my stomach would send out a, “Oh I don’t. Think. So.” vibe. Overall I managed to force down a package of shot bloks, one gu and a half of a banana. I had some stomach discomfort but nothing, umm, disastrous ever came of it. Lucky Karen got to listen to me obsess about the potential though! I started to worry about how I might feel if I didn’t get any decent calories in. So it could have been the lack of fuel or it could have been my preoccupation over the lack of fuel but either way my energy flagged a bit and I slowed.

Karen and I chugged along through laps 5 and 6. It was getting hotter so we bitched about that some. And gossiped and wondered aloud about trying to play cards or travel Connect Four while running. We got lapped. A few times. We caught up with first time ultra-ers Runner Friends Rebecca and Tim. They were having some pain but pushing through and looking good. My mom stopped by with the kids for a visit.  Karen’s family stopped in to say hello. As we came in from lap 6, I was super surprised to see my usual cohort, Runner Friend Carrie! She had dragged her kids down to the park so she could run a lap with us! I love my runner friends. Carrie hopped in and we did our last lap proud. It was good she showed up. I think Karen and I had run out of things to say so we made Carrie tell us stories.

I was so relieved to hit the finish line. It was a tough day. I’m so glad I did it though. The tough days really are the best days. At the finish line.

Finish time: 6:46:57

Pace: 13:05

And I got a rad shirt and another plaque for my bathroom wall of fame!

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Aren’t we lucky

It was 68 degrees outside when I headed out for a track workout this morning. I was positively giddy over this delightful gift of cool weather.

I was not so giddy about my attire. I’m still healing up some mean chafing so I don’t want to wear my standard shorts. I tried wearing capris for my run on Tuesday and was not happy. Way too hot. I needed something fitted to avoid chafe but still short enough so as to not overheat. Yesterday I dug around in my workout stash and unearthed a solution. I think I must have bought them for spin class about 5 years ago. I don’t believe I ever wore them. I think I’d remember something like this.

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Sorry, South Charlotte. I have no other choice. I have a training plan. I must run and the chafe must be appeased. Luckily, I run at 5am so I hope I didn’t visually scar too many folks. The front view is not that bad relative to the back view. The back view is..yikes. I’m figuring the back view could ellicit one of two responses:

a) I run faster so as to not give people too much time to really take in the sight.

b) Other people throw up their hands and quit and, voila!, I’ve finally got the ticket to winning an age group award!

All right, so my outfit nailed down and diet coke chugged, I headed to the track at the gym. I got there at 5:15 and it was a smidge too dark to read my garmin. Garmin reading is pretty important on track workouts for me. So I decided to do some warm up miles on the road.

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Got back to the track and got down to business. Four 800’s and they felt fantastic! My hip actually did not hurt at all during the 800’s. How weird is that? Slow, easy warm up = pain. Speed drills = no pain. Clearly, I am an Olympian and I’ve just been hiding in this fluffy, suburban mom get up.

My 800 times were 3:57, 3:55, 3:57 and 3:55. I’ve run a faster single 800 before but this was the most consistent set of times I’ve had. My last run was the fastest of the bunch. Usually I’ll have one or two fast while the other two are quite a bit slower. I think that’s progress?

Oh and I didn’t feel the need to vomit at all. I didn’t even really feel like I had to fight the urge to stop. Usually I really have to pep talk myself through at least the last two drills. In fact, instead of spending the time pleading with myself to keep going, I found myelf smiling at the other runners on the track and thinking,”Aren’t we lucky?” over and over again as I ran the speed drills.

Aren’t we lucky to have this perfect weather?

Aren’t we lucky to have this little chunk of quiet before our busy days?

Aren’t we lucky to have found an activity that drives us?

Aren’t we lucky to have strong, healthy, capable bodies?

I didn’t say any of this out loud because several other runners didn’t look like they wanted to hear my Pollyanna bullshit right then. I know better than that. But I still think we’d all have ultimately agreed on the fact they we were so lucky this morning.

I did a quick cool down lap and some stretching, during which I discovered this

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The track has had some rain and it appears I was lugging some wet sand through this workout. I bet I’d be maybe 30 seconds faster with clean shoes!

Driving home I reflected a bit on the past two years. Two years ago I, very reluctantly, took up running. And I had so many personal rules about it. No more than a half marathon, no running with people, no running without music, no trails and definitely no track! I’d meet other runners and they’d go on and on about trying all those things and I’d nod and smile while I blew them off. I held tight to those rules until this past 6 months (except the distance one, I gave that up a long time ago) and this morning I realized that I’ve tried and adored all those things. Trails and track were the things I avoided most ardently  and they are now my absolute favorite. Who’d have thunk?

Conversely, nobody told me to wear spandex shorts. That was all my own genuis idea. And, oh my heavens, the comfort. The 80’s are making sense all over again. Dang those were delightful. To wear. Still not making any claims on the appearance. Luckily I’m a  suburban South Carolina housewife so nobody is expecting any ground breaking fashion out of me.

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The One Where My Thighs Tried to Kill Me

All right so my last running post was about an aborted long run due to my bum ass hip last Saturday. I woke up Sunday still hurting so I skipped running again. Tuesday morning I got in 8 miles and felt decent. There was still some discomfort but it felt like something I could ignore.

Tuesday afternoon I got up out of my seat and turned on the bad hip to walk. BAM! Pain. Of the will-not-be-ignored variety. So I dragged myself in to see the VWD. He did one of those terribly painful massages that have a prettier sounding name but really its just a terribly painful massage. Then he put some sort of electrocuting device onto my hip and knee and made me sit there for 20 minutes. I was scared, I cannot tell a lie.

I skipped Thursday’s run because things felt better but not perfect and I didn’t want anymore electrocution.

Saturday I went out on a slow trail run with Jeff and felt good. We didn’t get started until later than I prefer because home life tripped us up.

There was concrete pouring to see.

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And a half-birthday to celebrate!

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Those pictures don’t make sense in this post but I like them and wanted to include them so I tangented them in. I’m a mommy. Mommies think everyone wants to see pictures of their kids. Just smile and nod.

Back on topic. Sunday Long Run.

Today I set out for 23-25 miles. I went to the local greenway path because I had a buddy willing to run the first half with me. We met up at 6am and headed out to beat some of the heat. Turns out the heat had shown up anyway.

We slogged through 8 miles before my buddy cried uncle. She’s smarter than me. At this point I discovered I had started to chafe a little. It happens sometimes so I wasn’t concerned. Just annoyed. I grabbed some more fuel and water from the little aid station I had made in my car and headed back out.

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Despite the heat and humidity, I had a great run. Pace was slower but steady and comfortable. One of those runs where you think wow I could do this all day! Around mile 16 I discovered that the chafing had developed a little bloody patch. That’s a new one and it’s Awe.Some.

This is the face I make when I discover bloody chafing.

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I am sure you were wondering what that face might look like. So now you know.

I got to the car again at the 20 mile mark. I felt good and capable of 5 more. I wanted 5 more. I texted home and asked if they were good without me for 5 more. All systems go. I even busted out my emergency Real Full Calorie Coke for a treat/boost to see me through to the end.

And then I looked down at the rivers of sweat running down my legs and thought about the chafing and thought, nahhh lets quit while we are ahead today. This is not a really good picture of the sweat. I would have taken another one but I could tell this guy in the next car could tell that I was taking pics of myself. I didn’t want to arouse any more of his suspicion.

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So I packed it up and headed home. And its a damn good thing I did. At home, upon showering, I discovered that the chafing situation was bad. Very bad. Apparently my thighs were trying to start a fire and send smoke signals to get me to stop running. How in the world I didn’t become aware of the severity of this while I was running I will never know. The shower water hit that business and I screamed and flattened myself against the shower wall screeching cuss words. My kid ran to get help. That was awkward.

So 20 strong miles in ridiculous heat with no hip pain but some life threatening chafe – check.

And now I’m sporting my recovery outfit of compression sleeves and a house dress to hide the bike shorts. Bike shorts to prevent the thighs from attempting a rematch. Photo credit to my three year old for this gem.

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Posted in Domestic Bad Assery, Hey you kids!, Running Commentary | Leave a comment

Much Anticipated

As soon as the tomatoes showed the faintest blush of color I picked them. On the kitchen window sill, safe from birds and other perils, they completed their ripening.

Boom! Red tomatoes. Not just cherry tomatoes or romas, but full size, real red tomatoes! That only took me three years.

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And now there are a lot of tomatoes staring me down. Good thing I snagged this at Costco the other day.

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I’ve got plans for eating my body weight in caprese salad. It’s salad so it’s totally healthy.

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The Long Run That Wasn’t

Set out on a 16 mile long run this morning. I started at 6am to beat the expected 106 degree heat wave today.

I took a picture. Just one and it was pre-run but its still a picture which makes a blog more appealing, yes?

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What’s not appealing about the picture? 6am and 76 degrees.

Oddly the heat ended up not being a problem at all. I was most definitely a sweat swamped mess but it didn’t bother me. No my bother kicked up just before the 2 mile mark when my left upper outer butt/top of hip (totally anatomically correct term, look it up) started hurting like a raging mo fo. Youch. I somewhat suspect this is from my track workout on Thursday. I can feel the pain more when I am turning on that leg and I wonder if the repeated turning on that leg on the track irritated it. Plus I always seem to hurt myself in some weird place when I throw down some speed. Probably this is a sign and I should heed it. Probably I should have also stopped running at the two mile mark today but we all know I didn’t, right?

Instead of stopping at the 2 mile mark, I hit pause on the old Garmin and flopped down to the ground to perform some awkward stretching in public.

Even better? I was in a country club neighborhood.

Even even better? The cyclist who stopped to make sure I was okay because he thought I fell down.

And the best part?

He stopped when I was doing this. Yeah, hey there, nice to meet you! No I’m good. Just laying here like a buffoon.

(that’s not me. I found it here. Look, honey, I Binged!)

So I got up and kept running. And it kept hurting but it wasn’t getting any worse. Around mile 6 my left knee started to get little wonky ache to it. I knew this was not a good sign. My chiro once was working a knot out of my hip when suddenly he said, “If you have this knot in your hip I bet it also hurts right here” and jabbed his elbow into the back of my knee. I had no idea that I had pain there until he found it for me. Hip and knee pains, man, they’re like peanut butter and jelly apparently. Or cupcakes and cheeseburgers. Yes that’s more likely.

I still kept running because I had to get back to the car anyway. I was still kind of considering trying to run past the car for a couple extra miles. That’s when my right butt cheek was all, “oh hellfuckno” and started hurting at mile 8. So I quit when I got to the car at mile 10. But I was cranky about it and I still am.

The knee and right butt cheek situation already feel fine again so I assume they were just achy from compensating from the hip. I get it. Nobody likes a slack ass coworker. I’ve rolled and stretched the left hip/butt area and it feels somewhat better. We’ll see. Or else we’ll see the Chiro on Monday I suppose.

Even though the speedwork is probably responsible for the death of my long run today I have to say I had a great track workout this week. I did a two mile warm up and then 4×800 and managed 3:52, 3:56, 3:56 and 4. Now I’m not fending off phone calls from Tracktown or anything but that’s pretty speedy for me. I was so pumped up when I finished the track work that I went inside and hopped on a treadmill. Before you think I’m trying to go all overachiever on you, just know that the spontaneous treadmill work had more to do with the time remaining on my free child care allotment for the day. On the treadmill I did four miles. I started each mile at a 10 minute mile pace and then dropped it faster and faster, finishing each mile at an 8:00 minute mile pace.

And that is the story of how I broke my left butt.

The End.

Heh. That was kind of a pun. Get it?

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Sunday Funday

Already I’ve lost track of what day # it is in the Great MCM Training Plan. Its going well nonetheless. Last week I did a track workout, two trail runs and a long run. I got together with a handful of great runner friends for a 20 miler at 5am Sunday. It was super muggy, hot and sweaty. I could hear the sweat dripping off of me as I ran. I was able to wring my socks out at the end. That was pretty nasty. Even with the heat it was one hell of a great run. Really fun group of people and I felt super strong all the way through to the end. Hooray!

Later than evening I headed out with an entirely different group of friends for an entirely different brand of fun. A few weeks ago, while feeling a little silly on wine on our girls’ weekend, we jumped on the change to grab some cheap tickets (thanks, SIL J) to the Tim McGraw/Kenny Chesney concert. At the time it didn’t seem to matter that most of us are not country fans. Luckily that didn’t even matter at the show.

We grabbed an early dinner at an uptown irish pub and then swaggered on over to the stadium.

See, 7 country concert goers, only one cowboy hat and not a boot to be found.

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Our seats were cheap because they were located 47 miles from the stage. No matter, we settled in and began Facebooking our faces off.

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And people watching. Oh the people watching. I love this guy. Pink shirt and camo hat. I believe that’s what a fashion blogger would call a clever bit of juxtaposition. He also had a giant hook on the bill of his hat. Boys have been doing that for at least 20 years and I still don’t know what it means. Its gotta be naughty, right? Nevermind. Don’t tell me.

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When in Rome, drink beers the size of one’s face!

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That wall behind us there? That’s the very tippy top of the stadium. As luck would have it, it turns out all the coolest folks were sitting in the cheap seats at this show. Also note the “Free” cups that came with our giant $10 cans of beer.

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Concert was good. There was some dancing and shenanigans.

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And the next morning. Oh the next morning. I paid for having multiple drinks and staying out til such an ungodly hour (1130p, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?) I even did this.

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Yeah. I left dished in the sink and went to the gym. I never leave dishes in the sink. Never. But times were rough and I needed to slowly sip a Diet Coke and get to working the funk out of my system.

Country concert ticket – $20

Train tickets – $4

Pub Dinner and drinks – $35

Crappy beer by the gallon – $20, I think. Maybe $30. There are conflicting reports regarding consumption.

A night of being positively ridiculous with girlfriends – Priceless*

*Well not really priceless. It cost $79 and a good portion of my Monday in so far as time spent bemoaning the beer. Totally worth it though.

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Trail of Terror

Last night, around 630pm, I headed out on my hottest run so far this year. Its probably been this humid already but it’s definitely not been this hot and humid. I decided to try and take more pics because I notice that good running bloggers have a lot of pics. So here is a picture of the hot.

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A run with just one new variable to challenge is never enough so I decided to test run a new running skirt. I shouldn’t actually call this skirt new though. Trying to stay on trend, I bought this skirt last summer. It just seemed too short and too bright pink so I never wore it. I also bought a black running skirt at Target last fall. Wore that exactly twice and positively hated it which put an even larger damper on my desire to try this one out. It stayed in the drawer with the tags on until yesterday. I was feeling saucy so I put it on. And then I tried to take a pic of the skirt while wearing it. ; That was harder than I thought.

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FYI: Its really hard to take a full body self portrait without a mirror. Behold this awkwardness. Also photographic evidence of the way I use excess stomach chub to weigh down my fuel belt. Rad. Go ahead, admit you’re jealous of my ingenuity.

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First couple miles were good. As good as could be expected considering I’ve not run in such hot weather since last summer. Right around mile three I started to wear down. I’m not too proud to take some lengthy walk breaks so that’s just what I did. The trail at dusk screws with my vision on a good weather day. The lowering light filtering through the trees makes it hard to decipher what I am seeing sometimes. For instance I thought I saw a snake so I, naturally, screamed and jumped to the side of the trail. Scared the crap out of a mountain biker who came back to see what happened. He arrived just as I realized the snake was actually a very small turtle. You can see my confusion though right? Totally shaped the same as a snake…

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I continued to chug along, marveling at how far I’ve come with my ability to “suck it up”. A year ago I would have either run at 5am or retreated to a treadmill to avoid the heat. I wouldn’t have run trail at all because it was dirty and scary and left fewer opportunities to cut a run short or quit early. Two years ago I was just getting started running and I could only manage to run a quarter mile or so at a time. I did almost all my runs on a treadmill until it cooled off at the end of summer. Last night, at mile 2 when I thought “Wow this is going to be rough”, instead of immediately thinking “so I’ll cut it short/skip it/walk it” I found myself thinking “it’s probably not going to stop being rough so quit whining and it will feel damn good when I finish”. And it did. It always does. So I attempted a triumphant self portrait with a glowing sunset in the background.

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I have got to get better at self portraits. What is even happening there?

I wish I had taken pics of the trail because I love this trail. It’s got so many pretty views. Yesterday this was my favorite view though. That’s my car about a quarter mile away and that means the run. was. done.

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As for the skirt? That skirt is totally fired. Hated it. Rode up and chafed and just generally misbehaved. It’s probably not you, Skirt, it’s probably my thighs. Unfortunately, I’ve discussed these issues with my thighs before and they show no signs of changing. Sorry, Skirt. I guess I’ll never be a high fashion runner girl.

Ps – I see now that the pics on this post are eeeee-freaking-normous. I could redo the whole thing but that sounds like a lot of effort. Instead I will say sorry. Sorry you had to see a near life size picture of my skirt.

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