Tuesday, March 24, 2009

August 22-23 2009....

... I will be hauling my ass over Hope Pass twice! Yep, I decided to do Leadville this year. Not entirely sure I was sober or sane when I made this choice, but why not! Unfortunately after living in Kansas for 9 years I am now a flatlander and will have to figure out a work around to training on BIG, LONG hills. I will be going to Leadville in June to stay with my friends Mac & Angela, so a week of training on the course will be good and I guess this also means my parents will be seeing me a whole bunch this summer too! If I can go run up and down Pikes Peak a bunch of times that should help too, oh yeah, and lots of gym work. PHEW. This is going to be MUCH more intense training then Rocky Raccoon!
And the best part is that I get to do all my recovery in Australia. Erik & I are headed to OZ to visit his family and take a much needed vacation together. So for 4 1/2 weeks we'll be backpacking around visiting friends and family down under. Happy Dance!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It officially turned spring on Friday at 6:44 am and while I wasn't QUITE on on the trails yet, I was only off by 30 minutes. My friend Christy and I decided there was no better way to spend the vernal equinox then doing a 30 miler on our favorite trails at Clinton Lake. It was a bit chilly when we started out so we were both sporting our Moeben sleeves and I was trying out a new shirt by Atayne made from recycled plastic bottles and coconut shells. It's really crazy that you can take 2 things like hard plastic bottles and coconut shells and make a really soft, amazing, wicking shirt from it! Technology is so cool! And the shirt is darn cool too, I'm totally ordering a few more and running in them all summer, it felt like I wasn't even wearing a shirt.
I was also giving my Drymax Maximum Protection socks a true test.

We started out easy and I felt awesome, there is nothing better then a good run after a spate of bad ones! My legs felt amazing and even the hills felt easy (if only EVERY run was like this!) We spent the day talking and laughing and gossiping. The nice thing about Christy is that she notices things like I do on the trails.... when I stopped to look at some pretty feathers or a bunch of honeycombs on the ground, she doesn't think I'm insane for getting excited! At mile 12 we stopped and did some crossfit workouts on the mtn. bike trials course, after we completed a bunch of workouts we realized what idiots we were being.. we still had 18 miles to run. Duh!, Should have done the workouts at the end! This was the longest run Christy had done since September when she ran the Flatrock 50K, she had spent all winter trying to diagnose a knee problem and taking time off for that and this was my longest since Rocky Raccoon so we just took it easy. I was using homemade gel, from a recipe I got off the ultra list and it was great! It tasted great and I never had a sugar crash... cheaper, tastier and better nutritionally then the commercial gels.

The police had blocked off the roads in the park and were practicing defensive driving so the soundtrack to our run was squealing tires, we even stopped and chatted with one of the cops for awhile ... they were pretty excited to be driving upwards of 100 MPH, so we used EXTREME caution while crossing the roads in the park all day. The temps fluctuated all day from "perfect short sleeve" weather to "glad I had the arm warmers on" weather and the mud was only bad in the last mile. All in all it was a glorious day on the trails, a perfect way to greet spring! My feet ended the 30 miles with nary a hot spot or blister so I am going to confidently give Drymax socks 2 thumbs up! I am going to buy a few more pairs of the maximum protection socks since Bob from Drymax recommends those for anything above the marathon distance and I will wear the other styles for shorter runs. This training run was all about trying new stuff before I used it in a race and I'm excited to get things dialed in!

Saturday was a group run out at Clinton Lake and I had originally thought I would do 20, but due to some commitments at home and work I had to cut it back to 10, but it was nice to run with some of the usual suspects. I started out fast and had a bit of a chat with Jim Megerson, who is always a great conversationalist but after about 2 miles my tired legs started to whine at me and I dropped back to a group with Nick and Laurie who were planning on doing 30. I like the 30 mile pace quite a bit better!! It was with much regret in my heart that I left the group and headed back to the car at Lands End.. I really wanted to do more miles but, life happens sometimes. I hooked up with Pat in the last 2 miles and enjoyed running in with him, he splits his training between running and the bike and I always enjoy hearing cycling stories, since in another life I did race bikes. I motored back to KC and finished my day doing boring stuff like working and cleaning the house, and laughing at my friends basketball obsessions.

Sunday is my day off and I spent it at Shawnee Mission Park hiking with my husband, friends and dogs. We dodged plenty of mountain bikers and even a few runners but no one I recognized. It was great to relax the legs and spend time with another group of friends... it was the first time they had been on the trails at SMP and everyone really enjoyed them. We did the 4.5 mile loop and by the end the doggies were whupped, a splash in the lake was in order for them after the hike. A big salad on the porch with a glass of wine and good conversation with the husband and our house guest Rhonda rounded out the evening. I couldn't have asked for a better spring kick off.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frustrating Weekend

I really hate when a weekend of running goes all to hell. I usually have Fridays off so I try and plan that day for my really long run. This Friday I had planned on a 30 miler, the weather was supposed to be in the upper 40s and sunny, but when I hit the Clinton Lake trails the mud was ridiculous. I briefly thought about turning around and hitting the River Trails instead, but the thought of doing 30 on those had me bored to tears already. I also figured that after the first few miles things would get better and I was kinda right, after the first 5 miles things were a bit better.. like just muddy, shoe caking mud as opposed to rivers of flowing mud & bogs. I just kept slogging along, walking the worst of it, and running the higher sections that were dry. After a few hours of this I decided that there was NO WAY I was going to bang out 30 today, so I cut it to 20 and called it a day. I did see some coyotes run across the trail at one point and I was seriously bummed I didn't have my camera phone handy.
The best part of the day was wearing my new Moeben sleeves in giraffe print, it was the perfect temperature for them, when the sun was un- shadowed and I was moving quickly I just pulled them down a bit and when I was slogging through mud puddles I yanked 'em back up. I foresee wearing these A LOT! Shannon was nice enough to send me a big box of sleeves to try out after I talked to her at Rocky Raccoon, and she also included 1 of her new running skirts which I am really excited to try.. if only the weather would co-operate! I am going to be VERY bright on the trails this year, I have bright tiedye, giraffe, cheetah, bright pink, white, and graffiti prints..... if I ever get lost just tell the rescue helicopter to look for the bright spots of colour.
Saturday morning I woke up at 5 to meet up with the usual group run at Clinton Lake again, I figured on getting in 20 again even with the horrid mud. But when I woke up my husband to tell him I was leaving and I would be in to work at 4, he was sick, sick, sick, so I bagged the run and told him I would work all day so he could just sleep and get better. So I spent 12 hours on my feet, not exactly the kind of feet time I had planned but it was totally worth it to let Erik sleep and heal.
Normally Sunday is my day off from running, it is also the only day of the week Erik and I have off together so instead of running, he and I and the dog and some friends usually go for a hike and then we spend the day together. This morning the hike was canceled since Erik was still sick and in bed, so I took got up early to get in a run instead. I was avoiding Clinton so instead I went to the River Trails planning on 20. My guts and legs had something else planned. I haven't had such an awful run in months and months. My guts were all screwed up and I had to keep wandering off into the bushes and my legs were NOT interested in moving... literally at times I would find myself just slowing to a walk for no reason. I would zone off for a moment and bam! I was walking again. It just sucked. I got to see a bunch of deer and a HUGE hawk of some sort, I swear when he took flight his wingspan was as big as me! I cut the run short at 8 miles and headed home in misery. At least my during the week training went well this week!! Oh well, I'll just shoot for 30 next Friday, and hope we will get NO rain (or snow) between now and then. On a happy note, I did wear my Drymax socks and have NO blisters to report, but I'm still waiting to really test them with a long run. They were very comfortable and I didn't find myself thinking about my feet as I sometimes do during a run so that's a hopeful sign.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Foot Grossness

My feet have always been kinda gross. I was cursed? blessed? with my dad's big toe, a very manly looking fat toe, great for running but not so attractive on a girl wearing sandals or peep toe shoes. My feet are also kinda smelly (my husband argues for the word "very" instead of "kinda" but whatever) and I have a tendency towards big calluses. When I started running, my feet upped the gross factor.. I have struggled with blister problems on long runs from the get go, so taping and lubing my feet became part of the morning ritual. In spite of the taping, lubing, and sock experimentation I regularly lost toenails and learned to not flinch when lancing blisters. I also stopped wearing sandals and started painting all my toenails black and learned how to use nailpolish to "paint" toenails where there were none.

Rocky Raccoon took my feet to a whole new level. I know there were/are many people whose feet were MUCH worse, but holy crap my feet were hurting. I wore Injinji socks for the first 60 miles and after that I switched to Balega socks, but nothing seemed to help. I had to stop and tape up blisters a few times. My post race recovery would have been pretty quick if it hadn't been for the blisters and swollen feet.. I couldn't even get real shoes on my feet for about 5 days. Now, a month later my feet are still peeling and shedding ridiculous amounts of skin.. the other day I peeled off a flap of skin and a toenail came with it! It's beyond nasty.. and I will refrain from posting pictures. Lucky for me, a very nice man named Bob read my Rocky Raccoon race report, felt bad for my tales of foot woes and emailed me. Bob works for DryMax socks, thought he could help me and so very generously offered to send me some socks to try. He asked that I refrain from taping and lubing my feet while wearing Drymax socks.... and all I could think is "Woah! That means I could sleep in an extra 10 minutes!" YES! (Although at this point if someone told me goat's blood would keep blisters at bay, I'd be out back with a knife and a whetstone)

So on Saturday my mailwomen delivered a big box of socks to me... actually, I had to go to her truck to get the box since Otis (my dog) was outside and she was terrified of him. Unfortunately this delivery took place AFTER my long run, but it gave me a chance to inspect the heck out of the socks. I was NOT expecting the amount of stuff I got! I got trail running socks (which are NOT white.. yay!), hot weather running socks, cold weather socks (hoping not to use these for awhile), lite mesh, maximum protection running, and plain old ordinary running socks. I have very small feet and usually socks end up being too big for my feet, which is why I try and buy kids sizes when I can (no smart ass remarks Travis!) but these size smalls are actually size small!! I was so excited! No bunching up or the heel coming halfway up my calf! I checked out the book that I got with the package and it sounds like they thought of everything, moisture control from the dual layers, no seams on the inside, odor control (yes!) and the arch band which helps hold the sock in place.

So I'm going to use these Drymax socks exclusively for awhile to see if they really are as great as I have heard, I have the Rockin K trail marathon in a few weeks that should give them a good test.. some chest high stream crossings should get the feet nice and wet which is usually a recipe for blisters and then the FreeState 100K in April which is sure to include some mud and multiple small stream crossings. And of course lots and lots of long training runs in mud and, hopefully if the weather would co-operate, sweaty feet. I'm going to pack away my bag of blister care and tape and lube in hopes that these socks will save my feet! I will be back to report on 'em!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Beyond the Epic Run" movie review

I saw this movie weeks ago and promised I'd review it, but then life promptly got in the way. It's very annoying when things don't go exactly as I want them to... things like winning the lottery or suddenly becoming a "front of the packer" in my races! But I digress...

Beyond the Epic Run is opening in 12 cities this spring and if you enjoy documentary types of movies all about people pushing to the limit then this is very much worth your time and money. The movie tracks a husband and wife running through 37 countries, 25,000 miles over 5 years, just Serge running and Nicole riding a motorcycle next to him carrying all their gear. Most of the footage is what Serge and Nicole took themselves along the way interspersed with scenery footage taken later. In so many ways this was an incredible, inspiring movie but in other ways it didn't get deep enough into the nitty gritty for me. They went though some terrible hardships, both of them contracted malaria and Nicole almost died, they were robbed, they had to re route at times to avoid civil wars, they lost their charity sponsorship, Serge got hit by a car, and on and on. But for me, as a sick & depraved ultrarunner, I was looking for the blistered feet and the complete breakdown of body and soul, which was touched on but not deep enough for me. It's an epic adventure movie rather then a running movie, and since I showed up expecting a running movie it threw me for a bit.
My only other complaint had to do with the "experts" that peppered the movie. The director pulled in different doctors, runners, etc to give short "oh wow isn't that amazing" speeches, but really the movie doesn't need it. The level of running that Serge did doesn't need a "celebrity" runner to point it out.. it speaks on its own. The guy went through 64 pairs of running shoes, 100 pairs of socks and ran essentially 970 marathons, (that's a marathon every other day for 5 years!!) That's a level of dedication and crazy I can only dream about.
The scenery was breathtaking and it made me want to rush right out and buy a bunch of plane tickets to places I never thought I'd want to visit. The sold all their possessions to take this journey, but wow would it be worth it!
The pure, raw emotion in this movie was absolutely inspiring. Seriously, see this movie if it comes to your town but go in knowing that it is an amazing adventure movie and not a movie about running... which means it's safe to take non running friends and family too!