Sunday, November 20, 2022

USATF NE Cross Country Series 2022

TLDR: I completed the series and while i thought it wouldn't bother me, showing up to be DFL at all the races(and I was for 3 of them) was tougher than I thought and got the best of me on the last race, I did finish though. Everyone I encountered at the races, from the runners to the volunteers to the organizers were encouraging and supportive. I felt welcome and was treated as I belonged on that start line.  In the end I don't think I'd do this again solo but if the team needed a 5th female to be a team, I'll be there. 

Jumping for joy that the series was over.

This year I stepped way outside my comfort zone and ran the Cross Country series.  I was debating what to run for my fall races. Since making the decision to coach Track and Field in the spring, which meant I spent a lot of time with a whistle watching other run and not a lot of time running myself. After the season was over I honestly didn't do much running the rest of the summer before I started in on coaching little kids running cross country. All the endurance I had built up last year was gone. In the end it came down to training, I wasn't ready to run the New England Half marathon and didn't see myself getting to that level in 2 months, but I knew I could run cross country. I just wish I had found the internal push to train on the level I should have to improve at each race, rather than feel like I was treading water. 2022 running season would be summed up in my excuses were stronger than my desire to succeed. 

Cross country is intimidating, Anyone looking at the finish times of the last 10 runners can see, my 11-12+ min pace didn't belong in that field. I was assured many times that I did and the finish line would be there when I finished.  I will say, that those organizing the races were right, The finish line was up, there were people cheering me on and only one race I had course confusion because a volunteer was talking with someone and didn't hear me ask if I was supposed to turn. Any of my negative comments in regards to my performance are from me, no one at any of the races said anything. Runners would run by on their warm up today and tell me "Good job" as I puttered along. I was surprised at the number of runners that would run the course to warm up, while a race was actively taking place. 

There is something in the headspace to showing up to a race and knowing without a doubt you will be last.  Not maybe, not it'll be close, but absolutely last and last minutes after the previous runner. I'll admit it got me and I wanted to skip Attleboro, especially when I knew it was only me, no one else from the team. I was last in 3 of the 5 races. The other two I was second to last. In hindsight it doesn't bother me, I'm proud of my accomplishments, but it was hard to start. 

Race 1 - Great Brook Farm XC race in Carlisle MA

They had a youth race so my son was able to run as well. He ran 7 min miles on those trails. Several of my teammates were there cheer and to run.  I really got to see the atmosphere of cross country with the team tents. A volunteer was kind enough to wait for me at each turn and run to the next so I wouldn't get lost. This was the last time anyone said to me, don't worry I'm slow too. Cross country slow and general 5k runner slow are on two entirely different scales. Overall a nice race. I might run this again, just so my son can run the youth race. This was also when I was reminded, cross country races are no frills, no water stops and no snack tables. 

Race 2 - Brown Bear Invitational in Attleboro MA

This was the race I wanted to skip. I knew I would be the only Gate City Strider. It was too far for my co-competition coordinator to show up. I knew I'd be last and it was a 6k, which isn't that much longer but it does mean my time will be slower. The family joined me and my son helped me warm up, excited that I was going to run a course he ran last year. The start was huge, so many college teams, seriously the intimidation factor was high. It didn't help that I got confused at the number of loops and ended up thinking I was close to done before I was close to done. Plus because of loops, I was being passed. Several, quite a bit more than previous race by the fast runners, many said good job and flew by, I tried to be aware of where I was and stay in that lane so I didn't get in their way.  Being slow also meant I got to see the finish. The weather was rough, the grass was wet, and I was not in the right sneakers. This course condition needed spikes or trail shoes and I was in well worn brooks ghost road sneakers. I did get to wear my arm sleeves for the first time in a race environment, which I needed and my outfit was on point and perfect. 

The best part of this race was heading down to Providence to meet my best friend at Pizza Js for food and pinball.

Race 3 - Wayland Cross Country

This race also had a youth race. My son ran with one of his teammates.  It was a slow and difficult race and he had just run his elementary school race the day before. He still did well, but not as well as he wanted to. As for me, that hill was brutal, but it was also my friend. This was the first race I wasn't DFL. I noticed at the start a woman who wasn't dressed in team gear and I suspected that she was my competition, if there was really any competition when you run in the back. I was determined to keep her heels in my sights. I did succeed is being able to see her over all the grassy fields, which I have decided is my least favorite running surface. Then we headed in the woods and hit that hill. That was where my years of mountain running shined. I was already at max plus heart rate, I could not run that hill, so I switched to power walking and marched right past her.  I power walked until I had my heart rate in order and I cheered her on. She responded that she had never run a trail race before. Huge, huge kudos for tackling not just a trail race but a cross country one as her first. I have no doubt in a road race I would have struggled to keep her in my sights. 

Race 4 - New England Cross Country Championships - Franklin Park, MA

It was 74 degrees in Boston that day as I got started. It was muggy and it was November. The heat did me in. I could not get my heart rate under control. I could have really used a water stop, but cross country doesn't have them. The course itself was pretty, interesting, well marked, and aside from the volunteer that didn't hear me ask if I turn, easy to navigate. The hill that goes around the no-longer in use bear cage was a decent hill but not like a set of stairs. I had several team mates there as well, plus my family. After the race we headed into Boston to explore Chinatown and the Commons. While the weather was rough for racing it was perfect for exploring Boston. Oddly I was not last, which was super confusing, but I saw many people cheering on the last runner. This race also completed the number of races I needed for the series swag. 

Results of the 6k. My time is highlighted to show difference in finish times.

Race 5 - Rachel's Run - Tyngsboro, MA

I just finished this race hours ago so it's very fresh. I had been warned it was a rough course, and that friend was absolutely right. Being a double loop it was night to know what to expect on the second loop, but that also meant I knew what I was going to have to do. I did not like that hill. Had I just been hiking, it would have been fine, running a mountain race, expected, but on this course, wow, it was hard both times I power walked over it. I was last, I was very last, but everyone was encouraging even the warm up runners as they flew by. I will say this race more than any other just did a number on my headspace. I walked 5 hours in the dark solo over night last year at Ghost train and my headspace was calm and loving. 38 mins of this course was hard. I went through all the emotions about do I belong, should I finish, will I get passed by the finishers before I finish the first loop(I wasn't, barely). Lots of feelings of being an embarrassment to my team(of which I was the only runner in the women's race) and maybe I need to accept I'm just not good at this running thing and I should just hang up my singlet. It was bad and it was all internal, because everyone and I mean everyone was amazing and supportive. From the volunteers to the organizers, the random runners and the Liberty Track Team, who were always friendly at the races and helped make me feel like I belonged. My teammates running other races cheered me on via Strava or in person when they saw me.  I want to stress this was all internal and not accurate to what was going on around me. Sports can be like that, and honestly this headspace isn't like me. I was a goalie, I was a decent goalie, because I could shake off a goals, goals will happen, but you can't be so focused on the one that got past that you miss the next two.

Photo by volunteer at Rachel's Run

In the end, while I enjoyed the challenge that the series gave me, it was more than just running, the mental game was far harder than any I have experienced before. Mile 19-22 of marathons are easier. I don't know if I'll run the series again. I'd do it with a team without hesitation, but to show up solo, I'm not sure I can do that again. In December I start training for the Cheap Marathon, switching back to distance and completing the marathon right before I start directing the Track and Field program, which wraps up in July. As for the fall, my son's cross country races take priority, and I will again volunteer to help out the U8 boys in the fall. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

2021 Race Plans

Is it safe to create this list? I just copy and pasted last years list, and then deleted nearly everything. 

Jan 1 V - Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k  -  Virtual
Jan 17 - Snowflake Shuffle - with Jack
Jan 31 V - Blizzard Blast Obstacle Course - With NFC 
Mar 27 - Shamrock Half Marathon
Mar 28 - Shamrock Shuffle - with Jack
Apr 17 Stonyfield Earth day 5k - with Jack
May 17 - Gate City Running Festival (May run full)
May 29 - Step Up for Meals on Wheels 5k

Planned (if there is an R next to race name, I've already registered)

Jun 12 R - Ascutney Mtn Race (USATF Mountain Series)
Jun 19 C/R- Mt Washington Road Race
Jun/Jul R - Mine Falls Trail Series - with Boys, partly virtual
Jul 17 R - Bill Luti 5 Miler NHGP
Aug 7 R - Santown 5 miler  NH GP
Sept 25 Rail Trail 10k Lebanon, NH NHGP
Nov 7 R Manchester Half Marathon NHGP

Oct 16-17 W - Ghost Train 30 hour Ultra

R = Registered
V = Virtual
W = Waitlist
C = 2020 Race in 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Goggins Challenge - Attempt 1

My tracker
This weekend I attempted the Goggins Challenge, run/walk 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. 

I ended my attempt last night at 12:50am. While I didn't succeed, I have trouble saying 29.82 miles in 30 hours is a failure. It certainly helps my progress in the Great Circumpolar Race across the World.

As with any major challenge, I like to do a shake down of what worked and didn't work. I absolutely plan to try this again but not for several months. I have Mt Washington to train for. 

Major Lesson: In my 40's I can not just go 48 hours on minimal sleep with physical activity and zero prep as I did LARPing in my 20's. 

The big mistake was no prep, aside from picking a weekend, that was it. I don't think I sat down and mapped out the every 4 hours until the Thursday before. I didn't reach out for company as effectively as I did for the 50k on a whim I did in January. The weather had been so nice the last 2 weeks I was half counting on it to being nice and instead it was crap. Aside from my last complete 4 mile walk, every single walk outside involved some level of rain. 

I am incredibly grateful to a friend who joined me for two of the segments and without his arrival on Saturday at 4pm, I would have quit 2 segments earlier. I am grateful for my friends that messaged me to check in throughout the weekend. I am grateful for the CRAW team that not only encouraged me but was available to chat with at any hour, thanks to a member being in Australia. I'm grateful for a husband who tried to help me get back on track once I derailed and willing to help me plan my next attempt. 

My feelings on the weather. I was cold

Here is what went wrong, or items I need to correct to be successful.

I forgot my giant water bottle at home on my way to work on Friday. I ended the day with a dehydration headache. I was not successful at reversing this in the hour I had from getting home from work and starting the challenge. 

Treadmill Chips
While I told my husband what I was doing, I had not detailed the level of help I'd need from him or communicated what I needed when I needed it effectively. This is on me, I'm not the type to expect my partner to read my mind. On my way home from work I thought I had asked him to start heating dinner up for me. I had not been clear, and when I got home the boys suddenly needed food and various other distractions, that lead to my food not being ready until 7:45pm for an 8pm start. While there are foods I can wolf down and then go for a long brisk walk, Spicy coconut cream chicken curry with no curry, is not one of them. It is super tasty though, so I look forward to finishing the leftovers today. This was the start of a sour tummy, that never really stopped. 

The food pretty much did me in, aside from a bit during the 5k, I couldn't run, I walked this entire thing. I know I have a delicate balance of food to be able to run and I totally failed it. The problem with walking is it takes more time and reduce available rest time. 

I should have moved the treadmill to the living room on Friday.  Walking on it at 4am while watching my husband sleep was annoying. Had I been in the living room, I could have watched the TV.  We tried this Saturday night but by then I was just done. On the theme of I should have's, I should have cleared the recliner of all my winter running gear so that I could lie down and rest on it. Every time I napped/slept in my own bed for 1-2 hours I woke up insanely nauseous, which is not how things should start. A view from my late night

By 3pm on Saturday I had realized I was no longer safe to get behind the wheel of a car. Had the challenge been 48 miles in 48 hours, I'm absolutely certain I could do that, add in the sleep loss and that's a whole host of problems. 

TLDR: I shall make sure I'm properly hydrated the week before I start. I shall plan out my meals and make sure I do many of the early segments running. I shall make sure my husband is completely involved in the planning. I have a week off in July, when walking outside at night will be pleasant rather than miserable. I won't have to worry about going to work the day after. I'll likely start at 8am, making a 4am segment my final segment.


Moxie trying to comfort me by walking on me.

Garmin Summary

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sourdough Baking - Coffee Cake edition.

I'm completely handling the current situation in the world with distractions.  I'm not going to talk about the marathon I am registered to run, that didn't happen yesterday, but I will run in September.

Lets talk sourdough.  I created a starter because well I needed the square on my stay at home bingo card. I love bread, it's one of my favorite foods, but I can't eat it anymore. I'm allergic to yeast and have gluten sensitivity. Just because I can't eat it, doesn't mean other members of my household can't enjoy it.

The Township of Joe(my son's starter), I don't
have a good picture of the RYD.
Now I have an active starter, well two of them, my oldest son wanted one too. My starter is named The Republic of Yeast Dunstable. I've been researching recipes and while I've made a few loaves of bread, they are still very dense. I've also tried to figure out what to do with the discard sourdough(the stuff you throw away when you feed the starter). Many of the recipes require cooking with milk and butter, as my allergy to dairy requires an epi-pen, and stirring a pot of hot milk, is a bit too "get to ride in an ambulance" risky for me, I've been struggling. I'm not quite ready to try almond milk instead, that might be in a few weeks.

Then I discovered this recipe for Sourdough Coffee Cake. It looked awesome. I read it and then promptly ignored it. The results were fantastic, at least according to my husband. Warning, you want to use the result to make french bread, but only do so if you can nap in a recliner after.

Here are the changes I made to the recipe.

I completely ignored the whole feed the starter first and such instructions.  I had fed the starter the night before, I think and left it in the fridge, so I scooped out a good cup or so with a 1 cup measuring cup. I then re-fed the starter and let it sit for over an hour before returning it to the fridge.

Into the bowl with the starter I added a 1 cup scoop of flour(I guess, there was little precision in this measuring), grabbed a 1/4 cup measuring cup and added 1 scoop of organic cane sugar and then 2 scoops of dark brown sugar(mostly packed), totaled around 3/4 cup, maybe more. The change in sugar was a decision based on what type of sugar we have lots of in the house and what I like in my morning coffee. Added in an egg(another food I can't eat), actually measured the baking soda and salt, completely guessed on the cinnamon, then used the 1 cp measuring cup to approximate the oil. I'm well aware of how many baking rules I have violated. At one point in my life the only measuring cup I could find was a 1/3 cup. I could have bought more, but this was at a time when online shopping wasn't a thing and I never remembered I only had the 1/3 cup at home when I was out shopping. I baked many items from scratch with that single measuring cup, no one ever complained. Then again they were eating baked goods made by a sugar addict.

Before rise, after rise it filled the pan.
I stirred everything together by hand, as I sold my stand mixer several years ago. It took up way too much space on my counter and I had other things I wanted to spend the money on(like bills). I don't regret that decision, but it means all my bread adventures are by hand. I think I just stirred it with a spoon, but I may have gotten my hands involved. I poured it into the loaf pan, and then made the crumble with oil, because I can't touch butter(see comment about epi-pen) and now is not the time to waste gloves.

The loaf then sat on the stove to rise, while I made myself GF vegan chocolate cake from a box, and yes I use their measurements as suggestions and do my own thing.

I baked the chocolate cake first and thne the coffee cake after 1.5 hours of rise time. My youngest thought it was ok, but not sweet enough, the husband thought it was perfect and my oldest ate half the chocolate cake, or would have if I let him.

Next discard recipe will likely be pizza crust.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Cancellations and Crazy Plans

With races canceled or postponed, I've been failing to run or train.  But I need to run, it's my outlet, my sanity.

I decided to be a little crazy and registered for the BURCs Virtual Marathon. I was trained up for around 15 or so miles before I stopped, so I guess you could I've tapered.

With the way the city has semi-closed down, I've been trying to sort out the logistics. I don't want to go for a long run around town and need a bathroom, since no places will be open and I doubt the city is putting out portojohns at the parks.

Then I thought, would it be ridiculous, fun and possibly entertaining to others if I run the entire marathon in the ~0.2 mile loop in my parking lot. Around 131 loops.  I could tweet and fb Live updates. I expect to walk the last 6-10 miles. Plus this gives me easy access to a safe bathroom and my food.  I have 36 hours to finish the race, so I could even take a nap.

Maybe this is the thing I need to re-energize. Mt Washington is still a go and I need to start training for that.

Boston training starts again May 21st.

I have until April 20th.  I'm looking at the weather and hoping for a nicer day.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Week 9 of Training Already!!!

Boston training continues and I've been fairly consistent. Taji 100 helps with that, as I really need all the miles I can get.
Training Chart.  Green = miles completed; Blue =  more miles than planned; Red = Did not do; Yellow = Less miles than planned; Pink = Cross Training

This week I crossed the 50 mile mark before the 14th, which puts me in a great place to finish early.

Screen capture of my Taji 100 total miles of 57.97. 
Plus I've earned a few achievements.

Screen capture of my Taji 100 achievement badges. 
Today I'll walk a mile or two, but otherwise rest. Tomorrow I'll run 10 miles between treadmill and indoor track.

Taji 100 - 2020 - Week 1

Taji 100 has begun.  The mission to walk, run, elliptical 100 miles in the month of February.

I have a few personal goals this year as well.
1) To walk at least 1 mile every day of the challenge
2) To complete the challenge by Feb 24th.

Week 1

Saturday: Ran 10 mile long run for my marathon training. Had planned on 12 but left the house late and had to make bathroom stop at the 3 mile mark. Hit a wall around 6 miles and was getting super annoyed at all the crosswalks with lights. On a happy note, that completes Amherst St/101A in Nashua for my Run All the Roads in Nashua. I need to do some more focus in fueling while running. My basal metabolism has increased and I spent most of this run hungry expect for the mile and a half trying to find a bathroom and the 15 mins after I ate a gu. The Clif bloks didn't do anything to take the edge off the hunger.

Sunday: Ran Freeze Your Buns 5k, which my watch says is just short of a 5k, so I missed out on the badge. Good race, didn't push myself but my legs were tired and my son hasn't been running, so his legs were not up for pushing it. He alternated between he doesn't want to be last and he doesn't mind being last when I pointed out that if he kept walking he'd be last.

Monday: This is a rest day according to my training plan. That didn't stop me from getting miles. I walked 0.75 miles with my husband during our afternoon shift. After work I went to Fleet Feet to participate in Winter Warriors and walked another 3.1 with one of my favorite running friends.

Tuesday: An actual training day. Plan was for 3 on the schedule. Snuck out for an hour at work for a 3.5 mile loop of hills.

Wednesday: Mid week long run day for marathon training.  Plan was for 6 and I ran 6.11 miles. I forgot to stop my garmin when I got to the chiropractor for my weekly adjustment, which messed up the avg mile pace.  First mile was 12:36 and last mile was 10:24, so I'm thinking I may be taking it too easy on myself when I run.

Thursday: Snow, and slush and muck on the roads convinced me a lunchtime run on the track at the Y was a much better plan than waiting for it to freeze into a sheet of ice to run on during Winter Warriors. Bumped into another Strider, running on the treadmill. She reminded me that this weather is one of the challenges of training for Boston and a few indoor runs are not a bad idea to be comfortable running in the heat because who knows what the weather will be the day of the marathon.

This blog post is incomplete, but I'm posting it anyway. Next post will have some updates in pictures. I'm pretty sure Friday was two half mile walks due to mismanagement of free time and desire to hibernate.