Food for Thought. . .


It feels great to be on track again with my nutrition.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I’ve been eating and enjoying since my last post.  If you want any recipes please let me know and I’d be happy to share!  I’m a Pinterest fanatic so that’s where I find most of my recipes!

Some Breakfast Ideas

  • eggs with turkey bacon
  • Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond Flax Crunch cereal
  • Sprouted grain toast with nut butter, honey, and unsweetened coconut flakes
  • oatmeal
  • goji berry oatmeal bake

This is the sprouted grain bread I buy at Aldi.  No flour, 3 g protein per slice, and 1 g sugar per slice.  When I go to Giant there is one by Angelic Bakehouse called Strong & Smart that I usually buy.   It is in the organic section and in the freezer!  Aldi’s is fresh but I like them both the same.

image

One way that I like to prepare oatmeal. . .

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats cooked in 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • sweeten with honey, agave,  or small amount of sugar
  • add dried blueberries and chia seeds
  • sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes on top
  • image

 

Lunch Idea

I usually will eat leftovers from dinner the night before if there are any (with two teenage boys in the house, there are rarely any!), or I’ll make a salad with red pepper, chickpeas or black beans, goat cheese or feta, cucumber…whatever I happen to have on hand.

However, Jen shared her chickpea salad recipe with me and I make it all the time now!  It is REALLY good, easy to make, and good for you!

image
Another way to use the sprouted grain bread!

 

Sorry for the sideways pic below… here’s another lunch with…shockingly…..some leftover coconut lime chicken from the night before.  I just sauteed some yellow squash to go with it and had a quick and easy lunch.  Surprisingly this coconut lime chicken tasted much better the second time around.

image

Dinner

Sweet potato black bean burgers for the win yesterday and they are one of my new all time favorite meals.  I need to make them on a regular basis.  Unfortunately everyone in my family likes them (even the boy who hates sweet potatoes), so I will not have any leftovers for lunch today.    Truly, I am happy they all liked them!

image

The coconut lime chicken recipe was also a new one this week.   If I’m not trying a new recipe, we pretty much tend to grill a lean protein and then have veggies as a side.   Depending on the meal, I may also make some roasted potatoes, or some brown rice or lentil/pea/barley mix in the rice cooker.

Dessert

Our bananas got too ripe so one of the things I made with them are these 3 ingredient brownies for tonight’s dessert.  They smell so good and I can’t wait to try them.  No flour, sugar, or oils!

image

 

Drinks

I’m also drinking a lot of fruit infused water again.  I just put some fruit in a mason jar and fill with water and keep refilling it all day.  I’ve had watermelon raspberry, raspberry lemon, and cucumber lemon so far this week!

image

What is your Go-To lunch or breakfast meal?

Do you drink fruit infused water?

 

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This. . .


Living the Beach Life

I can’t think of a better place to rest and recover than the beach!  The boys and I spent the past week in Myrtle Beach, SC visiting family and living the beach life.   We slept in, ate a lot of good food, played in the ocean, dozed in the sand while the sun warmed our skin, roamed the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium, and played mini golf (a 3 way tie, can you believe that?).   I literally did not exercise one time, unless you count the crunches I did while waiting for the boys to get a shower one day, or the short hike I did at the state park!

Here are a few pics from our trip!

 

image
A day in Charleston.  Beautiful city if you ever get the chance to go!
image
You can usually see dolphins at Waterfront Park but we didn’t see any that day.
image
A view from the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach.

 

image
Brotherly love?  Hunter burying Eli while I was in the bathroom.  haha
image
A hiking trail in Myrtle Beach State Park.  Had to get some nature therapy from the forest while we were gone. 
image
Almost looks like home. 
image
But these skinks kept darting across the trail in front of me every quarter mile or so!

When we got back home to PA, my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary.  MORE food and it was so delicious.

image
Ahi tuna with artichokes, sundried tomatoes and steamed spinach.  Then we went for ice cream for dessert of course!

Back on Track

Now that eating without abandon is out of my system, I am so ready to get back on track this week.  The fridge is stocked with spring mix, a ton of fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks.   I am in between official training sessions, so here is my rough plan for the next few weeks. . .

Workout Goals

  • I plan to get more workout sessions in at the gym.  I want to get back to lifting more and sticking with a good core routine.   The good news is that it’s summer and I’m a teacher, so I have more time to accomplish this goal!  I lost some definition in my muscles between tapering, racing, recovering, and living the beach life.  hahaha
  • For my runs, I’ll continue running trails but taking it easy for a little bit longer.  Less miles than when I’m training, but trying not to lose any gains I’ve made in training for Cayuga!  I kind of miss having a training plan to tell me what to do, but I’ll be winging it for the next couple of weeks I guess.
  • I need to get some double runs and night runs in next month so I’m ready for Ragnar West Virginia in August.  Hoping to meet up with my relay team for the night runs!

One thing my husband wanted for Father’s Day was to give the boys a hard workout at the gym.  Great opportunity for me to get started on my goals!

image
Wrestlers never smile for pictures.  Can you tell this was taken AFTER their workout?
image
I got a good workout of my own done while they did their thing.  Core and upper body.  Feelin the burn and I’m sore today and loving it.

Nutrition

  • More protein. (Especially after a hard workout).
  • Less carbs. (No white flour carbs and less sugar.)
  • Whole foods. (No junk!)
  • Drink more water.  (I’m loving my raspberry watermelon water today.)

 

image
Example of a typical breakfast I’ll have. . . sprouted grain toast with cashew butter, honey, and coconut and fresh fruit.

 

My First Trail Run since Cayuga

Saturday morning, Eli, my youngest, woke up in a rotten, uncharacteristically grumpy mood.  Maybe it was all the traveling we’ve done the past week, or maybe it was teenage hormones, but he was tough to get along with!  Since he’s my runner (of the two), I made him get dressed in running clothes after breakfast and we drove down to Pine Grove.  It seemed like a little trail therapy was in order.

My plan was to take him on the 5 mile Sunset Rocks / Appalachian Trail loop.  He slept on the drive there and as soon as we got out of the car, we got drizzled on and he complained.  I told him it would be fine and we started off.  His calves were sore from a workout the previous day and he was having a rough time since he didn’t want to be there.   At one point I turned around and started to head back since he was struggling and he wouldn’t let me.  He said he was going to get it done no matter what.

Two miles in we ran past some thru-hikers at a shelter on the AT and we stopped at the halfway point on the AT so I could tell him about it.   When we started running again, all of a sudden he found his legs and his attitude changed and he was flying through the woods ahead of me!    I let him go at his own pace and my heart filled with joy as I ran behind him.

image
He was running pretty fast so this was not an easy picture to take!  

It was a sticky hot and humid day, and Eli stopped about a mile and a half later for a water break.  I caught up to him and noticed tears in his eyes.  When I asked him what was wrong he explained that he was realizing as he ran that he hasn’t been pushing himself enough the past two years.  He wants to work harder in wrestling and in life.  It’s true that many things often come easy for him and he has not been pushing himself to reach his full potential.  Not to say he hasn’t had successes, because he has, but they have not always been the result of blood, sweat, and tears if you know what I mean.  For whatever reason, running on the trail that day, he had an epiphany.  He was starting to enjoy and appreciate the trails and our run together in that moment.

When we got closer to Sunset Rocks, I told him we’d have to climb over some of the boulders and we wouldn’t be able to run the trail at that point.  Just like life, sometimes you can run full steam, other times you plod along, and still other times there are huge barriers in your way, but you climb over them and don’t let them stop you.   Without missing a beat, Eli says, “No Mom.  You bust right through them and show them who’s boss.”  Good point, son!  Good point.

image
Eli on Sunset Rocks Trail.
image
Me on Sunset Rocks Trail.
image
We sat for a good 10-15 minutes soaking up the view and talking about life.  It truly does not get any better than this.  

I can’t wait for Eli to join me on more trail adventures this summer.  He says he’ll run with me at least once a week.

Miles to go for you, son.  Miles to go. . .

 

 

Recovery & Next BIG Goal!


A lot of people have been asking me how I’m feeling, so I figured I’d talk about how I am doing what transpired so far AFTER the 50 mile race.

How to Get Your Teenage Son to Tie Your Shoes

My boys were awesome about helping me out on Saturday night and Sunday.   They were so proud of me that when I asked for help, both of them tied my shoes for me.  They actually fought over which one of them was going to do it, so they each ended up doing a shoe.  (hahaha…we’ll see if THAT happens again!)

Getting Around

Aside from the typical post race shuffle,  waking up the next morning had me feeling slightly like I had been hit by a truck.  My back was sore (kind of expected this due to wearing the hydration vest for 12 hours), but so was my chest.  I was also coughing much of the day.  This all ended by Monday night and was really not as bad as it sounds.  (Plus Jen and I both had this issue so I figured it was normal!)

We stayed in Ithaca Saturday night so that we could spend Sunday checking out Cornell University.   Cornell is Eli’s dream school.  He wants to wrestle there and study astrophysics!  The campus was really cool.  The buildings were very unique and there was a trail with a waterfall right by the campus!

image

 

Then we went to the Shoppes at the Ithaca Mall so that Eli could buy some Cornell gear.  Eli was my little sidekick the entire time.  He wrapped his arm around my waist and helped me hobble around the mall entire time!

By Monday night I was walking and getting around much better.  Yesterday, HUGE improvement, and today I feel practically back to normal.  I have been sleeping a lot though!

I did some cycling at the gym today and attempted to lift a little bit but I felt too tired to proceed.  I’m going to stick to walking, stretching, and rolling.  I’ll try again with the cycling in a few days and hopefully I can get back to lifting soon because I miss it!  I have to remember that my whole body is basically trying to repair itself!

image

Eating Everything

I was HUNGRY and eating a ton of food that I usually don’t but I didn’t care!

I had a pulled pork sandwich, corn on the cob, and cookie at the finish line. Then a short time later I had 2 slices of pepperoni pizza and a whole carton of Halo Top Ice Cream. Sunday I had to get out of bed before everyone else and hobble to the lobby of the hotel to eat at 6:30 am because I was starving.  Other runners were there too, and they were easy to spot because we were all shuffling around the same way.  I had an egg and sausage sandwich and two cinnamon buns.  For lunch we stopped at Wendy’s and I ate two bacon cheeseburgers, a medium Frosty, and fries.  When we got home Sunday night Hunter made me 3 scrambled eggs and Eli made me toast.  Then I had cereal.  Hunter told me I was eating like a teenage boy.  My husband did the laundry, unpacked, and put all of our things away when we got home so that I could crash on the couch.

This week I’ve still been eating a lot more than usual but craving a TON of fruit, vegetables, and protein.  I guess my appetite will get back to normal eventually!

How I’ve Been Staying Busy

As a teacher it’s been nice because school is officially out, so I’ve been able to catch up on my sleep and rest.  I’m not good at doing that for too long though!  The boys and I had some errands to run and went out for our annual kick-off to summer breakfast at a local diner on Tuesday.

I’ve also been watching YouTube videos of ultramarathons and getting some more inspiration for the next BIG goal. . .

Devil Dog Ultras

Jen and I are going to do our first 100 miler this December!  It scares the crap out of me and that’s exactly why I need to do it.  I couldn’t imagine even thinking about it, let alone running it, without Jen.  She has always wanted to do a 100 and I have slowly come to the realization that I do too.  I really, really want this.  Now that I’ve tackled an insane 50 miler, this goal seems even more attainable.  It IS completely new territory, that’s for sure, but I really cannot wait to get started on our next journey!

If anyone out there has any tips, advice, words of wisdom, or stories to share regarding 100 mile races, I’m all ears!

 

 

 

Cayuga Trails 50, Part II: Race Day


Getting Ready

I woke up easily on Saturday morning around 4:30 to the sound of my husband showering, rather than my alarm, from the best pre-race sleep I’ve probably ever had.  (This is not saying much because I truly suck at sleeping.  Big time.  But for me it was great. Plus, I made the conscious effort to stock up on some zzzz’s the week leading up to the race just in case I became a total insomniac on Friday night.  Luckily that didn’t happen!)  I was feeling pretty well-rested,  fairly “bright-eyed” and partially “bushy-tailed”, with a touch of nervous energy I didn’t know what to do with.  (I attribute these feelings largely to the effects of taper;  therefore, I guess I did it right!)  I knew that the nerves would immediately subside once it was time to run!

We left the hotel around 5 am to make the short 10 minute drive to Robert H. Treman State Park.  The boys and I had made blueberry bagels with cream cheese in the lobby’s toaster to eat on the ride to the starting area.  Jen had texted me before we even left our hotel room to let me know she and her family were already there.

IMG_3748
Finding Jen!  I swear I was awake.

The temps were in the upper 40’s…perfect for running but cold for standing around and waiting to run!

image
My husband Jeff, about to learn what it’s like to crew an ultrarunner 🙂
image
Eli and Hunter, also about to learn what it’s like to crew their Momma for most of an entire day to the finish line.

Only one race morning thing that didn’t go so well. All you runners out there know what I’m talking about.  The ONE thing you need to do before a long run.  One of my friends calls it making a “deposit”.  If you still aren’t catching my drift, I did not have to poop.  I guess it was a little too early for me.  “Why is this a big deal? ” you ask.  Let’s just say it’s REALLY hard to run when it hits you that you DO have to go.  Plus, we had specific rules given to us in a pre-race email about this very thing.  See meme below…

 

IMG_3747
Laughter was the best medicine for our nerves, waiting for the race to start!  (Meme credit goes to Jen for this one.  I love it!)

There were nice real restrooms to use near the start area, but since I wasn’t able to make my deposit, I figured I’d just have to start running and hope for the best!

image
Lined up, waiting to start, minutes before 6:00 am.

Jen and I ran easily together, chatting away and walking any steeper hills to help our legs warm up.  I had my Garmin on, but only to see the time, not for the GPS.  We both wanted to run aide station to aid station and focus on one section at a time.  A mile or so into the race we were running on stone stairways, nothing too terribly steep like we had imagined, and there was a bagpiper serenading us on one of the platforms overlooking the waterfall.  It was pretty cool.  I felt like I was at the Celtic Fest!

image
We saw our families cheering for us at the first aid station, Old Mill, and since neither of us needed to stop for anything, we kept on running.

We ran through the new one mile loop that had been added to the course the night before.  There were pretty wild flowers in some tall grassy fields, and regular woodsy trails but we hadn’t encountered anything too technical, hilly, rooty, or terribly difficult. We continued on through the well-marked trails to Underpass aid station.  You could always hear the cars on the road when you got close to this one.  We both stopped here and had some fuel.  I think I handed my husband my Nuun bottle so he could refill it for me, and we chatted with our families.  We both asked Kevin, Jen’s brother who has run this race before, when we were going to get to the hills.  The elevation chart had made us think that the first 7 miles would have been harder than what we had just done.  He politely told us it was time to get moving which was good because we probably didn’t need to spend a lot of time there at that point.

Heading out of Underpass, you run through some tall grass and then over train tracks and through the largest creek crossing (which you end up doing 3 more times during the race).  The creek was deep enough at one end for me to be up to my shorts, but it felt good!

image
There I am crossing the creek at a later point in the race.

Soon Jen and I came to a long super steep hill that you have to power hike to get up.  I’m pretty sure we both stopped talking at this point and concentrated on getting ourselves to the top.  Although, Jen did say, “Here it is!”.  The hill we were waiting for…. it never seemed to end!  It reminded me exactly of the Flat Rock Trail crazy mountain repeats that I made myself do during training.  I must have hiked it faster than I realized because when I got to the top, I started to run, but looked over my shoulder for Jen to make sure she was behind me.  She was a few people back so I figured I’d run easy and see her again.  At this point I realized the race had really spread out already.  There was no one in front of me and no one directly behind me.  I crossed a small stream, followed the trail that meandered uphill through the woods and then stopped to look for Jen.  I looked down and saw a few people about to cross the small creek that I just had and figured Jen must be in that group somewhere, so I kept a controlled pace to the third aid station, Buttermilk, thinking I may see her there.  That whole time I was thinking of Jen!  I was also thinking about how I could probably make a deposit now.  I was really hoping for a bathroom!

The trail came out into a grassy field.  The sun was starting to feel hot so I made sure to run it steadily so I would be back on the shaded trails sooner.  I ran through thick goopy mud once I was back in the woods.  Just when you thought it was over, there was a huge shoe-sucking mud section that you had to plow right through.  Mud devoured my shoes and made my feet feel heavy and slippery for a few paces as I pressed on.  At one point we were on a paved road running through the Buttermilk Falls State Park.   I truly dislike road surfaces because I find it really boring, so again my strategy was to keep a steady pace get this part over with.

As I got closer to my next stop, I heard Jen’s family ringing cowbells. I came into the Buttermilk aid station, 12 miles done so far.  I was still feeling good.  I saw my boys playing football on the grass in front of the waterfall and my husband came over to refill my Nuun and tell me I was doing really well.  A volunteer came right up to me to ask me if I needed anything.  “A bathroom!”  I said.  He pointed to a building to my left said, “Real potties right over there!”  I was so happy !  I handed my Nuun bottle to Jeff to refill and made my deposit.

image
Oh yea, I guess I also had a peanut butter and jelly square!

I probably ate some watermelon and chips here too.  So many aid stations stops and too much food to remember what I ate and when!  I told Jen’s Dad and brother that she wasn’t too far behind me.   Jen’s family asked how I was doing and said not to worry about Jen and to just run within myself.  We knew we probably wouldn’t be running the entire race together, but I was missing her company and wanting to know what she was thinking about the course so far!

Next was the steep climb on the stairs up Buttermilk Falls. I didn’t find these stairs to be too bad.  Nicely spaced and not too terribly steep.  I stopped to take my only scenic pictures of the day.

 

The loop back was slightly different but connects right to the trail you have already done to get there.  By now the marathoners were on their way and the lead runners were passing by, just about the time I made it back to the hot grassy meadow and muddy sections.  Coming back into Underpass I asked about Jen again, ate some glorious bacon, watermelon, oranges, pickles, and chips.  My boys handed me more Honey Stinger Waffles to take with, as I had already eaten one or two (can’t remember!).

I was still feeling pretty good and was enjoying the trails.  A couple that I had been running near for the majority of the race came up to me.  The man booked it down the trail and the woman and I started talking.  They were from Canada and were going to be doing another ultra, a 54 miler, in two weeks.   We got to the point where marathoners were climbing the huge, steep hill I had done out of Underpass.  Luckily they were with me and knew we were supposed to turn right because I thought we had to go back down the steep side of that hill!

Once at Underpass, I heard the cowbells again.  I saw my family and Jen’s standing by the railroad tracks as I went to cross the creek.  My feet slid down something slippery as I tried to enter the water, but I somehow balanced myself and didn’t tumble head first into the water!  My boys filled my Nuun bottle for me (they are becoming pros), I stuffed my face with more watermelon, chips, and pickles, got some encouragement from everyone, and was off again.  I told my family I’d see them at Old Mill.

image

I don’t remember much about that stop really, I was just focused on getting to the halfway point at North Shelter.  Eli said, “Good job Momma, you just have 3 miles to the turnaround now!”  This may have also been the point where Jen’s Dad asked me how I was doing.  I said something about it starting to get real and he gave me a quick pep talk about staying within myself, focusing on something straight ahead, staying relaxed.

Making it Halfway!

I was excited to be running past the waterfalls again, but kind of disappointed when I got to the North Shelter turnaround.  I think because I wanted oranges and they didn’t have any there, so I didn’t stay long.  I also think I felt that way because it wasn’t anything special to stop.  This was the only station my family didn’t come to for me and it was fine because it was only another 3 miles back to Old Mill.  I later found out that they stayed to see Jen and knew it wouldn’t be long until I got back.  I’m glad they chose to do that!

Not too far out of North Shelter, I passed Jen coming down the long grassy service road. It was great to see her!  We said hi quick and grabbed hands and then kept running.  She looked great and I figured she was only a mile or two behind me at that point.

On the way back into Old Mill, I knew I was making decent time, but I started to feel my legs getting tired. This made total sense because I was about 5.5 hours in and was now starting to run beyond my longest training run. I continued on and settled in behind two guys.  The next thing I remember is being on a single track trail and thinking that I must be coming up on Old Mill soon.  The guys in front of me disappeared and I pressed on down the trail and suddenly realized it did not look familiar.  All of sudden I was alone and had branched off onto a double track trail with fencing on one side.  I just assumed the guys had booked it down the hill, but the farther I went, the more I began to realize that it would have been impossible for me not to see them up ahead.  Then it hit me that I hadn’t seen a single pink flag since I had started this descent.  I stopped and heard voices down the ridge to my right and figured that had to be Old Mill.  “Did I really just fuck this up again?”  I said out loud to no one.  Everything had been going smoothly and then here I stood a good quarter mile off course and a bitch of a hill to climb back up to go searching for the last pink flag.  I took a deep breath and thought, “Okay, well it’s happened before, I’m not too far off, I’m going to run this bitch to make up the wasted time.”  So I ran most of the entire climb back up, and came to the where I had made my mistake.  Marathon runners were coming up the hill from the other direction and turning to make their way to the start/finish area.  I almost headed that way too until I asked one of the runners and realized that was the direction I had come from.  It’s really easy to mess up when you have runners coming and going in two different directions and you have been running for over 6 hours!

Thankfully I made my way into Old Mill again, with probably only an extra half mile or so more than needed.  Maybe our previous meme should have been more like the one below, because later I couldn’t believe my ears when I found out that Jen had gone off course at the same exact place.

IMG_3742
Mwahahahahaha  Who DOES that?  We do!  And we rock it like a boss.

My family said I was still doing a great job and that they were so proud of me.  I remember Eli running me into the food table and telling him I had gotten lost but that it wasn’t for too long;  however, in my mind I had been worried that they thought I was taking too long to come in!  I felt better after seeing them, and then set out for Underpass again.  More watermelon, more bacon, more pickles!  I basically stuffed my face with watermelon first every time I saw it!  I took a boiled potato and some chips with me in a Ziploc, but it took me forever to finish the potato because I found it be cold, mushy, and bland.  Jeff asked how I was feeling, and I said I was starting to hurt a little, but that’s what I came here for so I was just going to embrace it.  I thought many times about changing my socks due to all the mud and creek crossings, but they would literally just get wet again I decided that since my feet didn’t seem to be bothered by it, I wouldn’t invest the time.

image

Back through the creek crossing, shoving chips in my face, and then up the crazy steep power hiking hill.  I chatted with a guy from London who lives in Ithaca.  He was super nice and it made the climb up the hill pass pretty quickly talking with him.  He gets to run these trails anytime he wants, basically right outside his front door!

Coming back into Buttermilk, I had to pee, so I used the same bathroom as before but noticed my pee was darker than it should be.  My boys also commented on how salty I was when came back out.  I was literally covered in it.   I wasn’t too concerned because I felt fine, and tend to get pretty salty, but my older son also said I was also pale.  A volunteer filled my hydration vest to the brim with water (which made it super heavy on my back), and I got another refill of Nuun from Jeff (as I had been doing at all aid stations).  I took a salt pill, ate a ton of chips,  took some chips with me, and headed out.  My boys and hubby had me promise them that I would drink way more than I had been.  I thought I had been drinking enough, downing Nuun between every aid station and sipping on my water, but it hadn’t been enough after all.  My boys told me not to worry as I only had 12 miles left to the finish and they said “12 miles isn’t even a long run for you, Mom”.

I made the climb back up the stairs by Buttermilk Falls and took it easier this time.  I sucked on my bite valve to rehydrate and also to alleviate the weight on my back!  I continued on the 5 miles or so back to Underpass.  About halfway to that next aid station, I realized my stomach was feeling slightly off and my hands were a little swollen.  For a few seconds they even tingled and I felt like I couldn’t move my fingers too well.  Hoping it was the salt tab kicking in, I continued to drink and was pretty much in a zone of make it to the next aid station.  The downhillls started to KILL but the uphills were fine.  I kept picturing having to run that downhill that the Canadian man had flew down past me on the first loop of the course.  I was running near a guy in a green shirt and he asked me if I was okay when I had to walk the downhills.  We had been near each other a good portion of the second loop.  I told him my knees were not having the downhill and we stayed about the same pace for awhile.  He only trained on flat roads until two weeks before the race. I told him in that case he was doing awesome!

All of a sudden I saw Jen again.  I remember hugging her and she told me later that I had a faraway look in my eyes and that I said I didn’t want to go down that big hill again.  I don’t remember saying that, but I remember thinking about it!  She told me we had to do it and I continued on, soon realizing that I had to pee REALLY bad.  I figured I was still miles out from the Underpass aid station, but everywhere I looked there were tall plants surrounding the trail and a lot of poison ivy.  Finally the ground cleared out a little bit and I let a runner pass me so I could find a tree.  No sooner did I have one picked out as I was running, than a photographer came out of nowhere!  I smiled my best smile at that point and then ran another quarter mile or so and found a perfect, huge tree so I could pee.  I couldn’t have made it another step without stopping to do that!  As I got back on the trail, the photographer was walking back in my direction.  It was pretty funny actually.  I continued running and made it through the grassy area back through the creek crossing and train tracks and my boys were waiting right there for me.  They told me they were going to run me into the aid station.  Eli was behind me and Hunter behind him and we ran all the way through the tall grass and emerged into the aid station.

image
I remember Eli saying, “Look how fast you’re running Mom and you already did about 40 miles!”

I shoved more watermelon in my face (surprise!) and pierogies as well.  They tasted so good.  I think the bacon was gone at that point. Got a refill of Nuun.  The boys said I looked better than the last aid station.  Jeff said the tingling in my hands was probably the salt kicking in and I did feel a little better.  The aid station was out of oranges but I had packed Clementines in our bag and had one of those.  Then I was off!  7 total miles to go to finish this thing.

Between Underpass and the last stop at Old Mill (4 miles),  I tried to stay relaxed and focused.  My watch had read 4:19 pm when I left Buttermilk and I knew that if I kept a decent pace I could finish before 6:00 pm,  so that became my goal. Things would hurt and then not hurt.  My knees would scream at me, and then I’d feel nothing.  I kept thinking how in the world is it possible that I am still running after all this time? Hiking up steep little hills seemed to loosen up my legs and allow to me run with less pain each time.  I realized I could never do a flat ultra.  My legs and my mind need the varied terrain!

As I made my way down a short flight of stairs into Old Mill for the last time, at mile 47 or 48-ish,  I saw my whole family standing at the bottom of the stairs and cheering for me.  I fought back the tears because I knew the next time I would see them would be at he finish line.  Eli ran to the food table with me but all I really wanted to do was pee one last time.  (Yes, I took my hydrating seriously after the Buttermilk episode).  I ran in and ran out, didn’t bother to fill any drinks because I knew I had enough to last the final 3 miles and set off for the finish.

The Final 3 Miles

I ate a final Honey Stinger waffle as I made my way through the homestretch. I told myself I was going to run as hard as I could at this point.  Although this meant a final climb up Lucifer’s stairs.  The steps here are steep, narrow, endless, and unforgiving, but I did not let myself stop to take a break.  I hiked up keeping as steady of a pace as I could and then continued running when I reached the top.  I ran past families taking family photos with the waterfalls in the background.  I ran past dogs on leashes, children playing on the trail, and even past a few fellow racers when I could.  I dug deep and when I hit the grassy decent where I had first seen Jen, I could hear the sweet sound of the finish line area.

 

Some people were at the bottom as I turned to the field and past the playground.  It would soon all be over.  People yelled, “Great job!” and “Way to go!”  The finish line was straight ahead.  I took my pack off and threw it in the grass to the left and a woman yelled, “Yeehooo, I LOVE it!”

IMG_3732

I ran as fast as I could and the next thing I knew I had crossed the finish line 5 minutes under impromptu goal, 11:55 on the clock.  Official time: 11:54:44.  My last 7 miles were 2 minutes faster than my first 7!

image

I got some pulled pork and corn on the cob and we settled into a shady grass area. Jeff took my shoes off for me and we watched and cheered some others to the finish. I found out that Jen was having a tough race and had just made the cutoff at mile 43.  Her family was hoping she would finish before the 9:00 cutoff.  I wanted to wait for her but my family insisted I needed a shower first, as I was shivering, so we went back to the hotel.

image
My boys were, and still are, so proud of me.  I have to admit I don’t get tired of hearing it!

We grabbed some pizza and then headed back to the finish line to see Jen come in.  The whole time I was trying to send her the strength to keep going.  I knew she wouldn’t give up no matter how things were playing out.  She is a fighter and was determined to finish this thing.  As soon as we got out of the car we spotted Jen’s family at the finish line.  Literally seconds later, there was Jen running to her finish, a half hour ahead of the cutoff.  I was SO incredibly proud of her!  Looking back on it now, I don’t think my race felt like it was truly over until I watched Jen cross that finish line.

image
We are 50 Mile Finishers!  So proud of us!

We hung around to watch the rest of the runners cross that line.  I was completely inspired by every last one of them who had not given up and pushed on to cross the finish in time.  It was an amazing thing to see the sweeper running behind the last finisher, carrying the pink flags, and with seconds to spare, the last runner crossed the finish line.

It turns out that about 80 of the people who started did not finish.  Tons of people were dropping out or not making cutoffs.  But we were not one of them.

How I Feel About My Training

  • Mountain repeats were worth every step.  The climbs seemed shorter and uphill was always doable.  Downhills hurt, but they hurt in the mountain repeats training runs too, so I expected it.
  • Long runs on tired legs the day after a long run are priceless.
  • Eating on the run, down pat.
  • Hydration, apparently I need to be a little more regimented in that regard.  I need to incorporate Nuun Performance over the Active more steadily for long runs.  Thanks, Jen!
  • Climbing Stairs?  I totally rocked them both up and down.  Mountain repeats probably helped with this too.
  • Mental game?  Pretty solid I think despite my loss of salt episode.  Even after I got lost, I didn’t think about it again during the race after telling my family.  When I encountered a problem, I let it happen and worked around it.
  • Paying attention to the little pink flags?  I could use a little work in the navigational department.
  • Stomach?  Watermelon, bacon, pickles, and chips make great fuel.  Along with Honey Stinger Waffles.  I really ate SO many chips though.
  • How would my body feel after running past 6 hours?  It’s going to hurt.  It’s going to suck at times.  Then it’s going to feel better.  Then bad again.  But you push through because that’s what you signed up for.

What Surprised Me the Most About Myself

I never really felt tired, not mentally anyway.  Physically my legs were tired, but that was it.  I really expected to feel this way because I did on some of my long runs, but I never once felt exhausted during the race.  I was just in pain but I could always push through.  I wish I knew why I wasn’t so I could make it happen again for another race!  I just know I was in a “get it done” zone most of the time!

My guess is that I just had the highest flood of endorphins running through my system that I have ever had in my life.

Thanks so much for reading if you made it this far.  I started this blog as a way to document my running for myself but I love sharing these experiences with you all.

Recovery and My Next Goal…coming up on the next blog post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cayuga Trails 50, Part I: Pre-Race


It’s not often that the proper words to express my feelings, experiences, and emotions do not flow freely from my mind, through my fingertips, and out onto my laptop screen.  In fact, writing is usually my outlet for these kind of situations, and yet today, 3 days after the Cayuga Trails 50 (my first 50 mile race) I still cannot find the right words to convey that day to you.   I purposely waited a few days post race to write this report so that I could see if those words would magically come to me. . . and yet here I am, legs and feet mostly healed, but brain still in a fog, a mix of emotions swirling around in my head, my story larger and more powerful than any words in our language that I can find.

How do you describe one day so absolutely perfect, yet so unpredictable?  So ridiculously brutal, yet so beautiful?  So lonely, yet so loved?  So painful, yet so peaceful?

Now that that’s out of my system…..I’m going to try my best to share my story and I hope you enjoy the report!

The Cayuga Trails 50 Course

You basically start out at North Shelter in the Robert H. Treman State Park and run 3 miles to the Old Mill Aid Station, 4 miles to Underpass, 5 miles to Buttermilk Falls, 6 miles back to Underpass as part of the “lollipop loop”, the 4 miles to Old Mill again, and then the 3 miles back to North Shelter at the start.  Then you get to do it ALL AGAIN!  (There is a marathon that starts two hours later and they do it once.)

Race Director, Ian Golden did make a slight change to the course the day before the race, which he is famous for doing!  He added an extra one mile loop that we had to do on the outbound direction of each loop prior to reaching Old Mill.

image
Slightly confusing course map prior to race day, but it all makes sense now!

Here’s the sick elevation that lies ahead for you if you decide to do this race too:

cayugatrailselevation

So that’s what I was in for!  I also knew I was in for creek crossings and lots of stone stairs.  I had a feeling the trails themselves would be less technical than the rocky, rooty ones I trained on for this.

On a side note, this course is great for your crew to get back and forth to aid stations to support you. My family had no trouble doing that and it was their first time crewing me!

Speaking of My Crew. . .

image
Bad shot of my husband Jeff, but there are my boys Hunter and Eli on our drive to Ithaca.

Day Before Race FOOD

I tried to get nice and hydrated the day before the race. I will admit that I was feeling nervous and not terribly hungry, but when we stopped at Perkins for lunch my boys made sure that I ordered the highest calorie thing on the menu.  A huge burger with an egg, bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato on a brioche bun.  I also had raspberry tea and it all really hit the spot!

image

After that we checked into our hotel, the Super 8, unpacked our things, and then drove to the Ithaca Commons to pick up my race packet at the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company.   We walked around the Commons only for a few blocks because there was a festival going on and my son wanted some Cornell swag from the school store that was there.  I didn’t want to log too many steps before race day, so we headed back to the hotel to drop things off and then to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  Grilled salmon, baked potato, and corn, and about four of their amazing rolls made up my pre-race dinner.  Needless to say, I was feeling ready to run off all that energy and couldn’t wait for it to be morning.

Back at the hotel, I prepared 3 drop bags in case Jeff and the boys weren’t at an aid station and I needed something.  It was hard to predict what to put in them so I just threw a bunch of stuff together and hoped for the best.   I also packed a backpack for my crew full of things I knew I would want and told them to make sure to had it with them whenever I came in.  (Nuun, Clif bars, Golden Oreos, Honey Stinger waffles and chews, Swedish Fish, clementines, chips).  I really had no idea how I would be feeling and what would sound in the later stages of the race.

image

My Trail Sister, Jen

Jen got into town with her family about the time that I was packing and organizing my stuff.  We messaged about what we were going to wear and both agreed that the bibs were way to large for the shorter shorts we wanted to wear.  I’m not sure if you can tell by the picture above, but I still had to fold the bottom tag under so that it wouldn’t hit my leg when I ran!

In case you are new to the blog, Jen and I met during our first ultra, a 50K race that is local to me, called Ironmaster’s 50K.  We found ourselves wandering aimlessly down a fire-road around mile 18 of the course.  We had both been in a zone and completely missed the orange markers.  It turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to us because we finished the race together and have been so close ever since.  Sometimes in life when you think you are lost, you really aren’t.   You are exactly where you need to be, crossing paths with people you are supposed to meet…and I truly believe that.  I can’t even say for sure that I would have been in Ithaca this year doing Cayuga without Jen to share the journey with and to inspire me everyday!  I definitely know I wouldn’t be on my way to my new goal…..which I will announce at the end of Part II 🙂

img_1312
Here we are on the day we met at Ironmaster’s, a few miles from the finish!  Jason had also been lost off course at the same place.  It’s always good to know you’re not the only one!

 

I hope you enjoyed Part I

It should be easier for me to replay the events of race day now that this post is done.  I feel like I’m heading into race morning all over again, getting excited and antsy to share it with you all.  Hmmm….maybe I should carb up so I have the stamina to get through it.

My thoughts leading up to this race as I sank under the covers of the most comfortable hotel bed ever…in this exact order…

  • I hope my training was enough.
  • Did I do enough climbs in my training?
  • Maybe I should have done more actual stairs.
  • What would my body feel like after going past my longest run to date, about 34 miles?
  • Past my longest training run of 5 hours or so?
  • How would my stomach do?
  • I am going to pay really close attention to the flags so I don’t get lost again.
  • I am SO ready for this.
  • I GET to run these beautiful trails tomorrow morning that I may not ever run again.
  • I can’t wait to see Jen in the morning.
  • Shoot, I brought the wrong eye drops….
  • This is going to be a long night if I don’t shut my brain up, so I’m just going to picture myself running my favorite trail…..

Answers to these questions and more coming soon in Part II . . .

Week #21 and Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC)


CRAZY…..but this time next week I will be in New York, and hopefully, a 50 mile finisher!

Taper this week started off feeling great, but by Friday night I was over it.  I was turning into a germophobic weather stalker.  😂  Granted it was WAY too early to start checking weather predictions, but when my race date showed up in the 10 day forecast, I couldn’t help but save “Ithaca, NY” in my weather app!  Hand sanitizer and oranges have been my best defense this week when I was sure I was going to come down with something.  I have also been seriously hungry ALL the time which makes no sense with my low mileage, but I know it’s part of the tapering madness!

Anyway, here’s how this week played out.

Monday: 5 mile cycling + lifting

Tuesday:  6 trail miles on the AT

Wednesday:  REST

Thursday:  4 trail miles

Friday: 6 mile hike on Buck Ridge with students on a field trip!

Saturday:  10 miles (We are at our cabin in the Poconos so I got a run in at PEEC.  We used to hike there with the boys when we lived here 5 years ago.   It was fun doing the trails as a runner now! And they are MUCH shorter than I remember😉😂).

image
Ridgeline Trail was only 3 miles according to my watch so I made it an out and back and did some of Scenic Gorge too.  Then finished with Tumbling Waters.
image
This was on Ridgeline Trail, and so much fun going down and back up!
image
I had never done the full Tumbling Waters Trail until today and never realized there was a waterfall this nice!
image
My first salamander sighting of the season😊.
image
Cloudy, but gorgeous view!

image

Sunday: REST, and planning a date with the ab roller and weights for core and strength!

The Taper Continues. . .

The 10 mile run today helped restore my spirits from my bad taper mood of last week… at least for now.  I only have a few super short runs before the Cayuga Trail 50 so I may be on the verge of insanity before Saturday.  Good thing it’s also the last week of school, so my work will keep my somewhat busy, I guess.  As soon as my Honey Stinger and Nuun orders get here I can start getting my race day things together.

 

 

 

Week #20 and New Hydration Gear!


I think I can honestly say I’ve run through any kind of weather you can imagine, short of  a hurricane, during this training!  Blizzards, pouring rain, sunny cold days, sunny hot days, freezing rain, knee-high snow drifts, mud, puddles up to my knees…you name it, I’ve run it.  There were training runs in single digits with 40 mph winds, and 95 degree temps with high humidity.  I feel ready to run 50 in whatever nature throws my way on June 3rd.  Until then, I’m logging my taper miles, eating healthy foods, and trying to catch up on sleep and core/strength workouts.

Here’s how this week went down:

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  10 trail miles (I was going to do my 8 on this day because Wednesday was supposed to be even hotter, but I only got in 6 on my normal trails in the time I had.  I decided to run some more while my son was at Power Train since I didn’t need to do any grocery shopping, so I went to an Appalachian Trail parking lot and had a fun evening run!)

image
I ran a new to me, NOBO AT section of 2 miles out and back.  Saw 8 deer and almost as many bunnies.  Also saw a thru-hiker who had pitched a tent to rest on the edge of the trail.  

Wednesday:  3 evening road miles  (I was busy making cupcakes for a luncheon at school, so I decided not to drive to the trails for a short run.  Took the pup and he was pretty tired by the end. )  It was over 95 degrees!

 

 

Thursday:  5 trail miles, 90 degrees

image
My new crew socks that I got for Mother’s Day.  They keep trail debris from getting in between my socks and feet and have been great so far!  

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  10 trail miles (Started early Saturday morning so that I could by home by 9:30 to make breakfast for the boys.  It was a nice run and felt good to feel strong for a 10 miler.  Most of my 10 – 12 milers this training cycle have been the day after a 20 + mile run when my legs are tired!)

image
No pic of the trails, but here is my breakfast after the run.  It was so good that I’m still thinking about it!  3 scrambled eggs with some mozzarella, avocado, sauteed onions, chipotle salsa, and sriracha…all on a whole wheat pita.  Definitely making this again!

Sunday:  8 trail miles (Seems SO weird to be running without tired legs all this week.  Although….I did not get into a good groove until mile 7.  Hahahaha…..good thing this is a long race!

New Gear:  UltrAspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

I always fill my hydration bladder with plain water and keep a bottle in my vest pocket for Nuun.  The problem is, I was using a handheld 12 oz Nathan bottle and it was leaking down my leg and all over the vest pocket during my runs (for at least the first few miles). Also, Nuun tablets are for 16 oz of water and I was drinking some pretty strong Nuun since it didn’t hold that much!   I didn’t mind the flavor too much, but the leaking was getting annoying so I ordered this soft flask and it’s working well so far.

image

I’ve used it 3 times already and will definitely be using it during the Cayuga Trail 50. The soft flask is easy to fill, does not make a sloshing sound when I’m running, fits perfectly in my vest pocket, and most importantly does not leak!  I love that I don’t have to take it out to drink and that it holds exactly 16 ounces.  Also, you can trim the bottom of the straw to whatever length to fit your needs.  I trimmed off about 3/4″ and it was the perfect height to be able to secure it into the yellow loop you can see in the picture near the top of the straw.  The straw is out in the picture because I was done running and had a drink, but it stayed secure in that loop while I was running. I’ll only have to take it out of the loop when I’m refilling it at aide stations.  I also like the soft flask better than my hard bottle I was using for the fact that the more I drink the smaller it gets, which means less weight/ bulk to carry around on the trails.

You can check it out here:

Ultraspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

What new gear are you loving right now?

Any races coming up soon?