Thursday, November 14, 2013

Batawa 25K, Last Race of the Season

I was excited to return to this race after running it last year, and with Derrick being in Peru for a few weeks it was a good target to have while he was gone. It had rained a lot the night before, so I knew the trails would likely be a bit slick in places, but even with that I hoped to run it faster than last year as I know I'm fitter than I was then. To handle the mud I decided to wear my Anakondas, and they proved to be amazing in the mud. People were sliding around like crazy in the slick sections but I didn't have any problem at all thanks to the ridiculous traction I had.

A taper can be dangerous though, which I found as I started off and my legs felt ready to fly. Proving that execution trumps fitness, by the end of the first 7.5 km loop I had already started paying the price. By dialing down the effort I recovered a bit and then went into 'ultra mode' and reeled off the remaining distance to the finish. It was a bit disappointing, but there was a lot more to be happy about as it is a really fun race on awesome trails, and I was proud of myself for hanging in there as best I could. I still finished 2nd, though well off Leslie Reade's winning time. In ultras I get ticked at myself for going out too hard, but in a race of this length I'm more forgiving of myself as the pace isn't something I'm currently very familiar with so it is tricky.

Next up is a bit of a pause in training before switching it up for snowshoe racing. I'm feeling a bit burnt out, so a few weeks of just running when I feel compelled to will do a world of good.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Keene Valley

Last weekend we were in Keene Valley, NY for some running, steep hiking and scrambling in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. The leaves were at their peak, but the weather wasn't ideal and we didn't get views from up high. It was still a very fun and satisfying trip.

On the first day we started at the St. Huberts Trailhead and took the West River Trail to Wedge Brook Trail and went across some of Lower Range: Upper Wolf Jaw Mt, Armstrong Mt, Gothics Mt, Pyramid Peak, then back Weld Trail to Lake Road. It was an awesome loop with beautiful views lower down. We had a huge and delicious meal of soup, nachos, black bean burger and good local beer at the Ausable Inn afterwards.

The second day we started at Round Pond TH and went to Dix Mt and back. It was a fairly runnable trail until the last mile approach to Dix where full-on scramble requiring hands from the slide up. It started to rain so the trail was very sketchy. It was cold, socked in, and very isolated so I felt relieved to get back down to the flatter trail after a long, careful descent.

 Start of first day

 Upper Wolfjaw

 Armstrong
 Gothics
 Towards Pyramid Peak

 Lower Ausable River
 Chapel Pond near our campsite
 Start of second day

 Snack break
 We are here, check
 Large slide near the base of Dix
 The steep ascent begins
 Another socked in summit on Dix.
 Snack in the rain
 Not wanting to leave

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recipe File: Roasted Tempeh and Veggies

If you've been curious to try tempeh but aren't sure how, I've found that cutting it very thin and roasting it is super easy and a great way to enhance the natural nuttiness and chewy texture. This is a recipe I make all the time because it is easy, tasty, healthy, and adaptable to endless variations.

1 package tempeh, cut into four sections and thinly sliced (3 mm, 1/8 inch thick)
1/2 cup almonds, whole or chopped
1 sweet potato, diced
15 brussels sprouts, cut in half
Any other chopped veggies: red peppers, zucchini, broccoli
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or olive oil, or a mix of both)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Spices, e.g. cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, rosemary, coriander, ground pepper.
4 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa

1. Spread tempeh, almonds and vegetables in a thin layer on greased baking sheets. Roast at 400°F for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned, turning once.

2. Meanwhile stir together oil(s), lemon juice and spices in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, mix together roasted items with cooked rice or quinoa, and then dump the liquid on top and stir to coat. Optionally add hot sauce to taste.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 Haliburton 50 Mile Race Report

My brain was creating tension by saying, 'How long is this going to go on? Why? Why? How long?' Once I accepted what was, at that moment it released the tension. I started to feel almost instantly better. ~ Tom Shadyac
What a great feeling to be proven wrong. I've only ever caught rare, fleeting glimpses into the enjoyment of the ultrarunning mindset. For the number of longish races I've done, decent amounts of consistent training over many years, studying of the sport, figuring out my nutrition, working diligently on my structure, and just plain putting in the various pieces of the puzzle, the whole 'being an ultra runner' thing was feeling more elusive than ever. After a summer where things were really coming together with not having hip or foot pain, and finding fuel that works for me, I still had a horribly painful race at Wakely Dam, and my last long run was equally a sufferfest both physically and emotionally. I was starting to believe I just wasn't cut out for running the more ultra of the ultra races, that for some reason it was just never progressing for me and never would. I was dreading my race at Haliburton this year because I had very little faith that things would be any different. I'm relieved I was wrong, because things turned out very differently indeed, and I couldn't be happier about it.

The week leading up to the race I was uncharacteristically frazzled by pre-race nerves. I was freaking out about the forecast of high humidity levels and my own bad hormonal levels that were plotting themselves annoyingly right smack onto my race day. My already low level of confidence was plummeting. It was a relief to just get there and get the race underway. I started out with a 100% commitment to keeping my heart rate low, and I managed that by walking up almost every single hill for the first two hours of the race. It was hard to do, I kept having to fight the urge to pick it up, but I was strict with myself and kept the effort appropriate and my body relaxed. The best part early on was on the Normac Trail where I enjoyed chatting with Iris Cooper and picking up some good advice from her.

Between aid stations 2 and 5 are the toughest sections of trail, and I continued hiking the ups. Once I got past the turn for the 50k runners, instead of starting to feel better due to this careful preservation of energy at the start, I actually started to feel worse. What the heck? Talk about frustrating. This was a big low point. My legs were stiff and heavy and I was finding my breathing to be difficult. I told myself I just had to let my body 'work through the hormones' (whatever that even means) and it would get better. I thought a lot about Derrick's perseverance to finish the Yukon Arctic 100 earlier this year, and about my Mom's courage facing cancer treatment and her awesome ability to re-frame the horrible as 'unpleasant but not unbearable'. Inspiring stuff and it helped me to put things in perspective as not being too bad. Still, it was so early in the race, and the thought of feeling miserable for the majority of another long race wasn't appealing. I've simply never bounced back after my low points like every ultra runner says happens all the time; it just never seems to work that way for me.

I knew Derrick would be at the turnaround, and that kept me going and I started running up the mellower hills which felt good. When I got to the turn, my legs were feeling like concrete but otherwise I was doing okay and my breathing had improved. It was good to see Derrick as well as Rochelle who had come out to meet John. I set back out knowing at least each step was bringing me closer to the finish. I tried to focus only on the present moment, and getting to the next aid station. When my thoughts did drift I found them drifting into constructive realms, mostly thinking of the people in my life and how important they are to me. I was wearing my iPod and that was helping me stay present. Somewhere along the way, I realized I was actually turning it around. My legs were feeling better and I was starting to enjoy it all, just the whole feeling of being out there in the woods, immersed in this ridiculous, amazing idea of running all day on the trails, and just simply being along for the ride on my own two feet. The sections started to click away and the farther I got the better it was starting to be.

I was still concerned about Derrick, but for the time being I just focused on continuing, and I started feeling really great. There had been a woman right ahead of me before all of this, but she was long gone now. I think that was a blessing because now I had no one around me and I could just enjoy the rest of the race in my own head-space without the stress and distraction of trying to stay in contact in a competitive way.

On the last loop around MacDonald Lake I thought back to my first 50 miler here two years ago, and how I had been reduced to a very, very painful shuffle by this point. I had learned a lot since then, and it was a huge sense of satisfaction to feel so much different this time around. I knew I'd be a little off of my time from two years ago, but was happy to be in the same ballpark and feeling so much better. Once I got back to the last checkpoint, it was great to see Derrick, and then it was just a short jaunt to the finish where I was greeted by some of the amazing volunteers that work at this race every year, and Derrick had driven ahead and was there for a big hug. It was awesome to see Jenn and Toby and their cute dogs and celebrate Jenn's very strong race in the 50k. We all cheered as Kelly finished her first 50 Miler looking fantastic.

It was the 20th year for this race, and it gets better all the time. Thank you to Helen Malmberg for the special race you put on for us each year. There's no other race we seem to keep going back to, but this one is very close to our hearts.

 Last steps to the sweet finish.

 Happy!

 Not quite sure what I was going for here! Thanks for capturing the silliness, Toby!

For fuel I used Vitargo throughout, plus a handheld of water mixed with Coke on the longer sections. I had one date, two Lara bars, and quite a few S!Caps.

My gear rocked:
Shoes the women's La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0
Drymax Lite Trail Running Sock
La Sportiva Pace Short
La Sportive Skyline Race Tank
UltrAspire Nerve single bottle holder and Race handheld
Arm sleeves for most of the race; I kept pulling them up or down depending on the wind.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to the Forest

I'm returning to the Haliburton Forest 50 Miler next weekend, and am a bit apprehensive. Deep breaths. Try to keep it simple. Here's the basic, back-of-the-envelope plan.

First, my taper needs to be

$|\Psi \rangle \in H_A \otimes H_B.$
and
$\rho_T = |\Psi\rangle \; \langle\Psi|$.

To start the race, my effort should be something like
$\rho_A \ \stackrel{\mathrm{def}}{=}\ \sum_j \langle j|_B \left( |\Psi\rangle \langle\Psi| \right) |j\rangle_B = \hbox{Tr}_B \; \rho_T$.

Oh, and for the uphills
$\rho_A = (1/2) \bigg( |0\rangle_A \langle 0|_A + |1\rangle_A \langle 1|_A \bigg)$

And then the downhills (duh)
$\rho_A = |\psi\rangle_A \langle\psi|_A .$

Naturally, for the second half we'll be looking at
$|\Phi^\pm\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}} (|0\rangle_A \otimes |0\rangle_B \pm |1\rangle_A \otimes |1\rangle_B)$

Or, alternatively
$H_n(x)=(-1)^n e^{x^2}\frac{d^n}{dx^n}\left(e^{-x^2}\right)$.

(But if I see a bear, I need to run like

$\langle\hat{T}\rangle = \bigg\langle\psi \bigg\vert \sum_{i=1}^N \frac{-\hbar^2}{2 m_\text{e}} \nabla^2_i \bigg\vert \psi \bigg\rangle = -\frac{\hbar^2}{2 m_\text{e}} \sum_{i=1}^N \bigg\langle\psi \bigg\vert \nabla^2_i \bigg\vert \psi \bigg\rangle$)

Happily, my fueling and hydration intake is fool-proof:
$|\mathrm{GHZ}\rangle = \frac{|0\rangle^{\otimes M} + |1\rangle^{\otimes M}}{\sqrt{2}},$

And finally, though it's out of my control I can't help but hope for ideal weather conditions throughout the day:
$|\psi_\text{NOON} \rangle = \frac{|N \rangle_a |0\rangle_b + |{0}\rangle_a |{N}\rangle_b}{\sqrt{2}}, \,$

So really, what could go wrong?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Slide Lake Loop Video

A little trail rambling from June 22 that has been sitting on my hard drive.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wakely Dam Ultra Race Report

The Wakely Dam Ultra is a beautiful beast. It runs along the Northville Placid Trail in the southern Adirondacks from Wakely Dam to the Piseco Airport 33 miles later. It is hilly, but not crazily so, it is more the severely gnarly nature of the trail that makes it tough, along with the fact it is entirely self supported.

I felt a little too great the first two hours and went out way too hard, digging myself into a hole from which I never fully recovered. I'm disappointed in myself for ignoring what my heart rate monitor (which I wore specifically to avoid this!!) was clearly telling me, and wasting the opportunity to run well on such a great trail in perfect weather conditions. Past the half way point it got incredibly difficult as I tried to recover by walking a lot and taking care of myself. I was not in a good place mentally at all. The last several hours dragged on and on and on, and the trailhead just never seemed to appear. I was downright miserable and negative, which feels bad in my head today.

Structurally this race was a big breakthrough though, with absolutely no hip pain. This is shocking to me, no Advil required. I can hardly believe it after years of it getting worse and then trying to get rid of it but it never getting all the way healed. My f
eet were really good with no blisters, and my quads got a bit tight by the end but not too bad. So...just a total execution error, which also feels bad (and stupid) in my head today.

Still, it was great training on an extremely difficult course which I seriously underestimated. I think it was harder this direction than the original South-North Damn Wakely Dam version of the race (because it is now rockier the last third), plus longer by 2.5 km of road at the end. I lost count of blowdowns to negotiate but there must have been over 50 bad ones not counting the hurdleable ones. I fell hard going over a slick one, and the fallen tree almost seemed to catch me as I lay nuzzled among its branches like a hammock. Rocks, roots, mud, overgrowth, hills...a very tough journey, but it's so special to have a race on this kind of trail. It makes Hali seem almost buffed.

My gear was good, the UltrAspire Alpha pack with 2L felt like nothing, and I enjoyed having the handheld too. I wore my La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0s, DryMax socks and La Sportiva singlet and shorts. My fuel was Vitargo, dates, and Lara bars. After 3-4 hours I realized I wasn't drinking enough so I had to unfortunately risk taking untreated water. This seems dumb I know, but we had an equipment failure and had to improvise a bit which affected us both in different ways. I did what I could to pick clean spots and am hoping I got away with it.

There were only eight women in the field so unbelievably I managed 2nd and got a super cool plaque on a varnished slice of tree trunk. The first woman, Christine Tokarz, was over an hour ahead of me yet she was there at the finish still and very gracious. It felt good to congratulate her excellent run.

As I approached the finish I was getting very concerned that I didn't see Derrick, but then right as I crossed he was there thankfully. It's not really possible to drop out of this race, but through my own misery I was thinking how painful the trail must have been on his troublesome achilles and ankle.

Congrats to Jan Wellford on the overall win; excellent write up here

Thanks to RD's Kim and Doug and their crew of family and friends for putting on such an awesome event!

 Chilling out at our campsite the night before the race

 Approaching the trailhead after a long journey

 Remains of map post-race.