Colleen’s 2016 Year in Review

I know I’m a little late to the game here since it’s already 2017, but hey, better late than never, right?

2016 was a whirlwind of a year for me both athletically and professionally. I ended my career as a nanny and decided to branch out into a new field I had no experience in, really. That change was not only scary, but stressful. Somehow through the stress of changing jobs, I connected even more with running. I had a more free time as a nanny, yet I ran a lot less. The stress of switching jobs and being in a more traditional role of 8-5 helped me find peace in running – it’s my stress relief. If I start my day out with a run, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. If I end my day with a run, I feel the stress of the day slowly disappear throughout my run.

img_9175
Goose Dog also helps lower stress levels

The first part of my year was filled with Bear Mountain training. My training actually went pretty well, despite still recovering a bit from my knee pain after the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2015. Looking back on it, my biggest mistake of that training block was not taking enough time to increase my mileage. In December 2015, my weeks went from 5 -> 7 -> 12 -> 11 -> 18 -> 18 -> 27. Comparatively, before my Gorge Waterfalls training started, my weekly mileage went: 11.7 -> 11.5 -> 15 -> 29 (whoops – ran the BAA Half for fun!) -> 21 -> 13 -> 20 -> 16 -> 23 -> 29 -> 28 -> 31 -> 28 -> 29 . So before Bear Mountain training, I took 7 weeks of not-so-gradually increasing my mileage before my training block started. Before Gorge Waterfalls training, I DOUBLED the amount of weeks I ramped up, with a much more gradual increase.

 

img_0972
One of my favorite memories of 2016 – that euphoria when you finish a tough 50k and basically all of NPBos is there cheering you on.

Despite my poor pre-training, Bear Mountain actually went really well! Despite a bit of nausea and just being plain tired, I made it through a much harder course than my first 50k and felt strong. I was feeling GREAT and decided to sign up for the Pineland Farms 50k. I ended up with a bum knee and wasn’t able to start the race, and felt totally defeated. I thought my training had gone really well, and race day was pretty much unbeatable as far as my long distance races had been up to that point, but I still just wasn’t giving it my all. I wasn’t stretching enough, I wasn’t strengthening enough, and I was biting off more than I could chew. After I lost my toenail (RIP little guy) and had issues with it all summer, I decided to start fresh and be smart.

Our Colorado trip was really when I started to realize how important it was that I not go too hard for this upcoming season. I wanted to sign up for a million marathons and 50k’s and #raceeverything, but I held myself back. It’s actually quite bizarre – I didn’t even run a marathon in 2016! Sure, I ran a 50k, and a self-directed ultra “just for fun” up in Maine over the summer, but didn’t complete an actual marathon. At first I was so upset I missed out, but after a few days of reflection, I’m glad I didn’t. Who knows, maybe a road marathon would have pushed me past my breaking point.

13443266_10153840344064087_4780485670147090932_o
One of my favorite pictures of me from 2016. Photo courtesy of Samantha Goresh

After my summer and ramping up my mileage smarter, I started racing more. Actually racing, not just running to finish. This year I PR’d my 5k by 2 minutes and 59 seconds, and my half marathon by 4 minutes and 57 seconds (and finally broke 2 hours). Turns out training smart but also adding speed work improves your running… I mean there’s no way I could have known that before, obviously.

I also made one of the scariest decisions of my running career in 2016 by signing up for my first 100k. I’m nervous as hell that something is going to go wrong between now and then – every time I run I’m paranoid I’m going to end up in a full body cast. But so far so good – though I was attacked by a recycling bin on a run last week. No joke. A big gust of wind blew RIGHT as I was running by it and the top flew off and almost smacked me right in the head. Luckily I blocked it with my water bottle/wrist like a ninja. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

14939425_10210855667172912_1505570755774516626_o
Another favorite of 2016!

My goal in 2017 is simple – run my 100k. Well, and continue to train smart. While I love the idea of “no days off” and committing to exercising every day, my motto is going to be to listen to my body. If I’m sick, I will rest. If I’m feeling too tired for a 5:30am run, I’ll sleep in and run in the evening. As much as I love running with The Breakfast Club and going to November Project, I have to stick with my training plan and listen to my body as I continue to add the miles on each week.

My resolution for 2017 is a 4 part plan:
1. Learn how to use my camera
2. Actually use my camera
3. Take more pictures of Gustav
4. Post more pictures in the blog

 

Oh, and also to run.

 

 

886624_10208818527685698_4327440125102706432_o

Probably Jinxing Myself

I know I’ve been off the blogosphere recently, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why. Honestly, the past 2 months or so of running have been going… really, really well. Like so well that I’ve been nervous to write about it in fear that I’ll jinx it. But enough is enough – it’s been too long since I’ve blogged.

I officially started training for my first 100k yesterday on December 19th (started with a rest day – nailed it btw), but the past two months have just been me building up my base. My training really kicked off when we went to Colorado in August post-toenail removal (also update: toenail grew back and is still sideways, so I’ll have to take care of that again someday… but not yet). I’ve been slowly building up from 10 miles a week to 30 – with some weeks biting off more than I should chew. It was so hard to run only 10 or 15 miles in a week when I so badly wanted to do multiple runs a week including a 10 mile long run. I started to try to focus on the fact that I needed to stay injury free, and the best way to do that was to take it slow.

15002504_10210969327254343_5005017896628885499_o
Crushed my half marathon PR at the Cambridge Half Marathon!

After tackling the WOahMAN at November Project, I started to ramp up smart again. Other than one week where I just ran two times (16 miles total) I started to do more, but shorter, runs to keep steadily increasing my mileage. I’ve also struggled with this because I’ve been wanting to make my long runs longer each week, but if I add 2 or 3 miles onto a long run, I can’t add any more miles during the week since I wanted to stick to only adding on 2-5 miles per week. The whole past 2 months have just been a balancing act of trying to reign in my enthusiasm and run smart, while also being painfully aware that my base had to be solid af leading up to 100k training.

Now that the start of my training plan is finally here, I am pleasantly surprised at how prepared I am feeling. I’ve never felt stronger physically or mentally going into a training plan. Physically, I’ve been running smart but fast – if I compare my long run paces at the start of my Bear Mountain training compared to my lead up to Gorge Waterfalls training, I’ve consistently cut off 20-30 seconds per mile. Working at a taproom and constantly lifting/moving kegs has also definitely had an impact on my overall form – I never really focus on my upper body, but I’ve been getting naturally stronger just from work, and my posture has been significantly better than it was last time I was running regularly.

15170829_10211102599906076_5481799273486622882_n
Matt has been leading weekend TBC long runs!

Mentally, I’ve tried to do most of my runs without listening to podcasts or music to get used to running solo without distractions. I can listen to music during my 100k, but I’ve got a feeling that I’ll end up getting sick of my playlist after about 3 hours, so I’d rather keep it as reinforcements for if (let’s be real, when) I hit the wall. I’ve also tried to throw in a few solo long runs, since I’m not allowed a pacer at the race.

The only thing I need to focus on is trail running a lot more during my plan. I’m hoping to hit the trails at least once a week so I can get more elevation in, as well as strengthen up the stabilizers that I’ll need for a trail race. It’s a whole different game on the trails, and I’d hate to crash during my race from not getting enough trails in. The hope is that soon I can transition to having at least half of my long runs on trails, as well as some shorter trail runs added in. It’ll be difficult during the winter once the snow really hits, but I just need to focus on the big picture.

One of the biggest things that’s been helping me feel strong and run strong, other than actually training smart and planning out my weeks, has been the support from my friends and family. I’ve always just considered myself a slower runner, unable to keep up with a lot of my friends, so I never really applied myself. I’ve always run at a pace where I’m comfortable enough to chat the entire time. My lovely friend Kate pointed out to me when we were running that I was keeping up an 8:40/mile pace and still having conversations – that I’ve had it in me all along but just didn’t have the confidence to actually try.

15390895_10211243106898663_3183429854133116447_n
Ryan, Matt, and I heading out for a freezing cold 12 miler

I recently also met a new running buddy named Ryan who is the perfect match for my pace. Having him around has made me a much more social runner, and someone who’s excited to wake up at 5am on a Thursday knowing I’ll have someone my pace who will keep me company on runs. Matt will always accommodate me if I ask him to, but it’s nice to not feel like I’m holding him back but still being able to run with someone. Plus, Ryan is new to distance running, so I’m excited to watch him go from a half marathoner to marathoner and hopefully to an ultra marathoner, if I get my way!

I’ve spent the better part of my running career constantly doubting myself and not reaching my full potential. Going into this training block I’m finally feeling strong, healthy, and pretty confident. I’m excited to see how training continues to go, and see how my races I’ve got lined up end up going. So far, I’ve got the Hyannis Marathon (really a training run for my 100k in April), Gorge Waterfalls 100k, and the Ghost Train 75 miler. Luckily, my Ghost Train registration can be changed to any distance in 15 mile increments, ranging from 15 miles to 100 miles. I also plan on signing up for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler if my training goes well! If it doesn’t go well, or I’m feeling “lazy” I’ll probably sign up for the marathon instead.

I’m going to try to post weekly updates to keep myself honest and have a place to reflect on my training as it’s happening, so stay tuned!

#WOahMAN

14681934_1711319722523184_4199917465925022201_o
Could not believe the amount of people that showed up for this craziness!

Let me just start by saying I don’t think I’ve ever been so sore in my life. In the past year I’ve done 50 burpees, and they were all last Friday. In the past year I’ve probably completed 2 full tours, and they were both in the past month. WOahMAN was probably not the best idea, but I went for it anyways.

For those of you who don’t know what WOahMAN was, it was a crazy workout hosted by November Project. We started at the top of Summit Ave (our normal Friday workout destination) at 4:30AM (not our normal workout time..), ran 2.2 miles to Harvard Stadium and completed a full tour, ran 2.2 miles back to the top of Summit, did 25 burpees, ran a full hill (roughly 1.3 miles), did 25 more burpees, and ended with another full hill. All in all my GPS watch said it was about 8.5 miles of running and roughly 1800 feet of elevation gain.

It was hard. Getting out of bed would have been the worst part if it weren’t for the burpees. Or the hills. Or the full tour. But in all seriousness, getting up and walking to the hill was the most difficult part for me. Luckily, I had my accountabilibuddy, Matt, to make me get out of bed. I literally got dressed, brushed my teeth, filled my hydration pack, then laid back down on the bed and whined to him that I didn’t want to go. To be fair, I have a difficult time waking for November Project when it starts at 6:30am, let alone 4:30.  Once I was up and at the hill, the hard part was over – I just had to work out for 2 hours, which seems not so bad when your partner just ran for 27 hours.

We started around 4:38am after each getting a race bib and taking a group photo, of course. At the start, it was too early, foggy, humid, and misty, but we were all sprinting like adrenaline junkies looking for their fix. By the time we got to the stadium, I was extremely hot and already tired from running so fast. I decided slow and steady was the way to go for the stadiums. Normally, I attempt to run a few sections, but knowing I’d have to run 2 full hills when I was done, I decided to march up all the sections and run down when I could. By section 19, my form had deteriorated and my hands were already finding their ways to my knees. I took a moment to breathe and pull myself together, and pushed myself to keep my form and focus on staying strong. That went well until the last 5 sections, and then all bets were off. I just wanted to finish this tour and get running.

14712917_1711314319190391_882053570329675446_o
The ladies who motivated me to push up the hill! Photo courtesy of Daniel Rothenberg

On my way out of the stadium, I ran into two ladies I had met before but never really chatted with. We ran back to the hill together and it was glorious – we all needed to vent about how little we were looking forward to the hills, and we also were glad to have an excuse to run slower on the way back than we were on the way out. Once I got to the hill, I powered through my desire to walk up to the top and just ran before taking off my hydration pack and jumping right into burpees. I debated the hydration pack in the morning, but decided I’d go with it since I like having both hands free while I run.

10 burpees in I was thinking “50 burpees isn’t so bad!” About 2 burpees later I thought “50 BURPEES IS WHAT HELL IS I AM SURE OF IT!” I contemplated just laying down on the ground for a little bit to rest, but I was well aware of the fact that I have no upper body strength and no amount of rest would make the remainder of my burpees easier. I sloppily finished my burpees and happily ran down Summit, ignoring the fact that I’d have to go right back up.

14712922_1285886574769041_7448527581061387137_o
Running my first hill – note it was still dark outside and I’d already been working out for an hour and a half. Photo courtesy of Rosa Evora

The rest of the hills went by fairly uneventfully, as I was hoping they would. The second set of burpees nearly killed me, but I had Matt cheerleading for me (AKA watching my pathetic burpees and not laughing because I’m sure his were even more pathetic than mine) so I felt motivated to just finish. On my last hill, I ran with a woman I hadn’t met before and asked her if she was on her last hill. She goes “Oh I finished the race and have just been doing the hill workout.” I picked my jaw up off the ground and realized if she could do a hill workout after finishing this race, I could run the rest of my hill as fast as possible. Turns out, she was the first female finisher of the race!

I finished strong with minimal leg-shakeage. By the time we got home my arms were already sore – I knew it was going to be a rough weekend at work lifting kegs. As much as it’s embarrassing to admit… my pecs and calves are still tight, 5 days later! Overall, it was dumb and ridiculous, but I’d do it again this Friday if they said it was happening. Maybe that makes me dumb, but hey… #noFOMO.

B.A.A. Half Marathon 2016

I hadn’t planned on running the B.A.A Half Marathon this year, but a few days before a spot opened up so I decided to go for it and test my half marathon legs.  I’ve been training for the Cambridge Half Marathon coming up in November so I thought if I can run a tougher course a month before the race, I’d definitely be set for the CHM.

Matt ran his 100 miler the Friday and Saturday before the race in the pouring rain, so when I woke up and realized it was going to be chilly and rainy, I couldn’t let it get me down.  If Matt can run 27 hours in the rain, I could handle 2 without whining about it.  I woke up late, ate dry cereal for breakfast (we were out of milk of course), hopped on my bike, and biked the 4ish miles to start.  I felt warmed up and ready to go by the time I got there.  I ran into a few other NPers and get excited about racing.

When I started, I didn’t have a time goal in mind.  My half marathon PR was on a completely flat course when I wasn’t training for ultras or marathons, so I didn’t think it was smart to try to PR on this tougher course in less than ideal weather.  Last year I ran the B.A.A. Half in 2:02:29, and I wasn’t even sure I could beat that this year. My goal of the race was just to have negative splits, so I started at a nice, easy pace and used this race as my long run for the week.

By the halfway point, I was feeling pretty good (albeit wet and already chafing from my sports bra) and was ready to push it to the next level.  I had forgotten about all the hills in the second half of the course, but I actually ended up feeling really strong on them.  I haven’t been going out of my way to run hills during my training runs, but I think I’ve just been pushing myself to try harder and not avoid hilly routes when I run, so I’ve definitely become a stronger hill runner in the past few months, which helped during this course.

I did some mental math and realized if I pushed pretty hard for the second half of the race, I could definitely beat my course record from last year.  I kicked it in gear and pushed myself as hard as I felt comfortable with considering there are some ultras in my future that I don’t want to injure myself before.  I ended up finishing with a time of 1:58:32 – a solid 4 minutes faster than my time last year.  Last year I had been struggling with IT Band issues as well, so the fact that I ran faster and felt strong the entire time this year gives me hope for my training season this year.

After the race, I realized the temperature had dropped significantly during the race – something I was grateful for during the race, but very unhappy about as I climbed on my bike.  I started biking home with my teeth literally chattering when a familiar voice yelled out to me to come pull into the next parking lot.  My savior, Kelvin, offered me a ride home which I gratefully accepted through chattering teeth.  I got home and immediately hopped in the shower to warm up.

Overall, the race was amazing.  The course is great and challenging, I felt strong, and even the weather could have been worse!  My biggest complaint, as it was last year, is the damn drop bag situation.  It’s chaos.  This year was even more chaotic because it was raining and much colder at the finish than it was at the start.  This meant everyone was trying to avoid the rain by changing into dry clothes inside the drop bag tent.  This made it impossible for people to get to their own bags.

The only other semi-annoying thing to deal with is that there aren’t any bike racks near the start.  While I understand most people aren’t biking to and from a half marathon, it would be great if they could get a temporary bike rack for the race for any runners or spectators – this was an issue for me in 2013 when Matt ran it and I spectated, last year when I ran, and again this year.
Strava:
B.A.A. Half Marathon 2016

Gear:
Garmin Forerunner 620
Ciele GoCap
Stance Socks
Saucony Ride 9 Shoes

Colorado 2016

img_4812
This has nothing to do with running but he’s really cute, so….

The past few weeks have just been me getting back into it after some toenail issues.  After my last blog post in August, I realized my toenail was bothering me again.  Instead of waiting until it got really bad, I went right back to the podiatrist and asked her to just permanently remove that portion of my toenail.  In order to do that, she had to chemically burn part of my toe, so recovery took a bit longer than last time.  I had planned on getting it done after our Colorado vacation, but I really didn’t want to spend our vacation in pain, so I risked it and got the procedure done about 2 weeks before we left.

By the time my toe was feeling almost normal, we were on our way to Colorado to enjoy a week long runcation!  It was absolutely perfect timing – luck was definitely on my side.  I spent vacation alternating between running (in sneakers) and hiking (in sandals) to keep my toe from getting sore.  It was totally worth it – I ended up running 21 miles in Colorado despite taking time off for a few weeks before!

img_5155

It was really great to have Matt’s best friend Matt (I know, very confusing) on the trip with us.  Matt had to get a lot of miles in for Grindstone, so it was really nice to have someone there to hike and run with while he was off running 10+ miles every day!  We spent a lot of time hiking and trying to catch our breath – it was a little embarrassing. I had forgotten what it’s like to run in Colorado!

img_5153

While there, I took my first real trail fall.  We had run/hiked up Green Mountain and just reached the peak, and had about 7 miles to go until we got back to the car, when I tripped over a VERY obvious rock and started sliding off the trail down the mountain.  It’s scary to think about it now, but at the time I got up and just burst out laughing at how typical it was of me to fall at the TOP of a mountain.  Luckily nothing was too deep, so I picked myself up and ran the 7 miles back down.  I was feeling pretty good – until I had to scrub rocks out of the dried blood on my hands in the shower… yuck!  We had lots of beers to numb the pain, so don’t feel too bad for me 😉 Luckily I’m finally all healed up and have a few scars with a fun story!

Now that we’re back to reality, I’ve been trying to steadily increase my mileage for the past few weeks without going crazy.  I’m basically the queen of too-much-too-soon, so I’ve scaled back to 10-15 miles a week for a few weeks, and am just now starting to add on a few more miles.

img_4946
My hiking/plant identifying trail partner!

My goal for the year is 1,000 miles.  While it may not be a lot to Matt, to me it’s huge.  Hitting 1,000 miles while overcoming a few injuries, going through physical therapy, getting a puppy, and starting a new job would be a dream come true.

It’s been hard for me to prioritize running since starting with Bantam Cider Company, since I’ve just been putting everything I have into learning as much as I can as quickly as I can.  That means leaving for work by 8:15am and not getting home until 7pm or later, which doesn’t leave me much motivation to run.  It’s easy for me to forget how much my stress levels build up if I don’t run – and after a few days off I remember why I run.  I could have a bad day at work, a frustrating day of puppy-parenting, or just the usual crushing realization that I’ll be in debt from college until my grandchildren are long gone, but it all goes away while I run.

As of now, I need to run 16.4 miles every week through the end of the year to reach my goal, so this is me asking you all for your help!  Help me stay motivated!  Offer to run with me on my days off!  Make me #verbal for NP or TBC!  If I can reach my goal of 1,000 miles this year, WHO KNOWS what next year will bring!

img_5164
The only good picture I took from Rocky Mountain National Park – after this, it got REALLY COLD and very rainy!

Colleen’s Update

Hey guys, I do still exist! And I still run! Life has been a bit crazy – I started a new job and spent some good time with my favorite physical therapist for a few different injuries. Thankfully, I’m feeling more settled and less injured now, and ready to start training again. We’re also starting to run with Goose now too, so expect some cute puppy pictures!

Yesterday, I crushed my first full tour in over a year!

First of all, let me recap Matt’s 100 Miler: everyone there was insane. Like in a good way, but still. I can’t believe how amazing everyone there was, especially Matt. It was a wonderful experience to be his crew chief! He inspired me to find my first 50 miler – if he can run 100 miles in 21 hours, I can run 50 miles. As long as my shins and knees hold up through the fall, I’ll be building my base up and starting training in mid-fall!

With the change in schedule and learning a new job, I’ve been running a lot less, and it’s been bumming me out. I’m finally starting to feel more comfortable in my job, and antsy to get back on the training train! I want to run commute (because Boston traffic DEAR GOD WHY WHYYYYYY) but am torn about not wanting to be sweaty for the rest of the day. If you’ve got any advice on run commuting at a place without a shower, or know of any gyms near Union Square that will let me pay for just showers, bring it on!

For now, I’ll be training and building my mileage back up so I can start training for the next big thing! In the fall I’ll be running the Cambridge Half Marathon with team Bantam Cider (you should join too!) and a few 5k’s as well. I’m still trying to decide whether or not I should do the TARC Fall Classic 50k, but I’ll make the call in a few weeks after I get training started.

Gustav’s first run – just under a mile!

I promise to be better at blogging now that I’m more settled into my new job!

Maine Huts & Trails

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but to be fair it’s been a while since I’ve run! My shin set me back in my goal to run 1,000 miles this year, but I’m finally back on track after spending some time focusing on strengthening. After a few weeks of not running, I decided the smartest course of action would be to run a casual ultra marathon through Maine just for fun – I guess I really am as insane as all my other ultra marathoning friends.

IMG_2412

We had a group of NPer and TBCers all meet up at the northern most hut (Grand Falls) of Maine Huts & Trails on Friday. At Grand Falls, there was a small parking area about a 1.5 mile hike from the huts where we parked and loaded up our gear to trek in to the hut. The hut was absolutely beautiful, and we ended up having the place to ourselves for the night due to it being the off season. The system has some beautiful cross country skiing in the winter (or so I’ve been told – I’ll have to find out for myself this upcoming winter!) and then has their summer season start in July. Since it was the off-season, we had full run of the kitchen but had to carry any food we needed in, prepare it ourselves, and hike everything back out when we were finished.

We spent the night sipping wine, relaxing around a fire, playing Pandemic, and eating a pretty decent amount of spaghetti. I like to think we were camping, but really it was glamping. The huts were gorgeous and had everything we could need – bathrooms, showers, a wood stove, couches, and a full kitchen! We all hit the hay pretty early to rest up for our journey the next day, but I ended up having horrible stomach issues all night. I probably only got 2 or 3 hours of sleep and spent the rest of the night wondering whether or not I had made the right decision to run after being injured.

IMG_5847
Photo credit: Sam Goresh

We had a lovely 5:45AM wakeup call and all proceeded to stuff our faces with some delicious Bagelsaurus bagels. I was really struggling to get food into myself since my stomach was still not feeling great, but I ate as much as I could and tried to pack a little extra for the run, assuming I’d be starving by mid-morning. We hiked our things back to the cars and our lovely sherpas, Kelvin and Rebecca, drove our big packs to the parking area near the last hut. We all got situated with our running packs & snacks, and set off at a nice relaxed pace towards the second hut, Flagstaff.

VIRB0729
One of my favorite views of the day.

Flagstaff was about 11.5 miles from Grand Falls, and we knew we had a long day ahead of us, so we took our time warming up and taking pictures to capture everything. We stuck together until the first stop at the Flagstaff hut, and then a few of us went ahead so we didn’t get too stiff from stopping. I was worried if I waited too long and ended up having to walk from my shin I’d end up holding the group back, so we got going fairly quickly. I was starving by this point so I packed in as many calories as I could before we got back to the trails. The next hut, Poplar, was about 10 miles away, and I was starting to feel it in my legs already. Luckily my shin was feeling excellent, but my IT band started to get a little tender by mile 18 or 19. I wasn’t too worried about it, but was just more concerned I was going to hold Matt back during his training run. We were already going much slower than he’s used to, and he was using this as a training run for the Vermont 100. Luckily, he’s the most amazing and supportive boyfriend I could ever dream of, so as soon as my knee started to really hurt, he made sure I power hiked instead of ran!

VIRB0769

Once we got to Poplar, we connected with our sherpa Kelvin and got a plan for the last few miles of trails. We all planned on meeting up at the Airport trailhead, where we’d drive a few minutes up the road (to take off an extra 1.5 miles of trails), grab our packs, and hike another 3 miles up to our final hut – Stratton Brook. The last miles were really just power hiking and ingesting a large amount of anti-inflammatories (for me at least), but we actually kept pretty consistent time because a lot of the trails were overgrown and swampy in the previous 20 miles. We had a lot of slow miles at the start – it was clear that the trails not only aren’t used often in the spring/summer, but are definitely made for cross country skiing. During the winter it wouldn’t matter if the trail had wooden planks under tall grass – it would all just get covered in snow!

IMG_2489
Gang’s all here! Sam, Clint, me, Matt, Dan, and Tania all taking a breather to soak our sore feet in the cool lake.

We joked about how this was called “The Lazyman’s Ultra Marathon” since it was more than a marathon but less than a 50k but hey, still counts! It certainly didn’t feel like a lazy ultra marathon considering we were on our feet running and hiking for over 7 hours!

Overall, the trip was a huge success and so much fun. We managed to stop at Duckfat on our way up for panini’s and milkshakes, and stopped in Kittery for some Ramen on our way home. We ran, we hiked, we laughed, we napped, and we talked about our bowel movements far too often, as runners tend to do. I can’t wait to do more fun trips like this in the future, and am so grateful to Dan for thinking of it and organizing most of the trip!

I’m so glad my shin was feeling up for the task. I’ve been working on getting my stabilizers stronger so I can continue my training and enjoy fun excursions like this one in Maine. I will definitely be back to these huts – once to check out cross country skiing, and another trip during the summer for some trails! If I can keep up my training, strengthening, and injury prevention, come fall it’ll be time to start training for my next big milestone – 50 miles!

VIRB0792
The hike up to the last hut was the hardest part of the day, but the view was worth it.

May Update for Colleen

After Bear Mountain, I took a few days off of running, but hopped right back onto that train and went for an easy 2 miler on the treadmill the Tuesday after the race. I rested Wednesday because my legs were still feeling tired even after only 2 easy miles, and I was back out there with The Breakfast Club on Thursday running a fairly hilly 5 mile route. I wanted to push for 6 but was still feeling that general tiredness you feel post-race.

On Friday I decided to try a run with my old sneakers (they weren’t worn out mileage-wise, but they were the shoes I was in when I started having shin issues at the start of my training) since the pair I had been running in had hit 300 miles and are just worn out. I’ve been trying to put off getting new shoes, and I’m 100% regretting that decision now. My right shin got a little sore after our 10k together on Friday, but nothing unheard of. Saturday, I was out in NYC and went for a nice, slow 10 miler with my amazing friend Laura Beachy (co-founder Beachy Media, 100-miler ultra marathoner, and the crazy woman who convinced me to do triathlons in college). The run went pretty great, but my shin was starting to get a little more sore. I was back in my worn out shoes because I truly couldn’t stand to run another mile in my old New Balances.

Sunday I took a rest day (mostly from a raging hangover thanks to a bachelorette party!) and planned on a rest day for Monday as well. I ran Tuesday and Wednesday with shin pain still persisting, but it got much worse on my Thursday morning run. I’m unsure of what exactly is causing all this pain, but I’m going in to see my physical therapist this week to figure it out. I’ve been resting since my painful run Thursday (more like going crazy and wishing I was out running) and doing ice massages on my shin. I also got myself some new running shoes and cannot WAIT to break them in!

In the meantime, I’m planning on cross training and continuing work on my core/upper body since I’ve been feeling like I’m severely lacking in that department. I’m also making an effort to eat more whole foods and limit my processed foods. It’s so easy to take my health for granted, especially when you’re running 8 hours a week and trying to replenish the calories your body is burning. It’s been so easy for us to order a pizza after a long run or to eat a sleeve of Oreos, but if I’m putting this much effort into exercising and training, shouldn’t I be fueling my body with good, healthy, clean food?

We will see what my physical therapist says – hopefully I can still run the Pinelands Farms 50k (or possibly bump it down to the 25k if my therapist decides that’s the safest option). Hopefully it’s nothing serious and I can get back to running soon. If not, well, we’re called “one and a half runners” for a reason! I will continue to train in any way my body can handle and get back into running whenever I can. I’m not going to let this injury drag me down and make me unhappy.

Bear Mountain 50k Race Report (April 30, 2016)

Well, Matt may have done basically the same course with an extra 20 miles thrown on, but we had very different race day experiences! While I was on the struggle bus my fair share of the race, it was overall an amazing day and I felt strong & fast almost the entire time. While Matt is good at remembering where he was and how he was feeling at what mile, I have a more generalized recap since I could hardly focus on anything but keeping my body feeling good.

To start the day, we had a 2:45AM wake up, since Matt started 2 hours earlier than me. I was grumpy about losing sleep, but I’m grateful I got to see Matt off before his long day of racing. After his 5:00am start time, I had nothing to do but stand around eating donuts around a fire pit to kill time. I felt anxious to just start, but I met a bunch of amazing runners while waiting for the start! When it was about 6:40 I finally stripped down to my race day gear and checked my bag. I was ready to go, and felt more excited than nervous for the first time in a while.

Pretending I was having fun

We started at 7:00am, and by that point it felt like noon. I remember being a few miles in and thinking “wow I should have had lunch” and then realizing it was literally 7:30 in the morning. I had a long day ahead of me. A runner I met before the race had warned me that the first half of the race was much harder than the second half, and that he was begging for mercy by mile 5 last year. By the time I hit mile 5, I was feeling great and had no idea what this guy was talking about. It was hilly and technical, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Then mile 5 was literally just one big hill. My legs were already tired, the toe I had fixed last week had been bothering me for a few miles, and panic set in. Had I not prepared well enough? Should I have trained harder? Of course, it was too little too late, and I tried to push the negative thoughts from my head and focus on one mile at a time.

At mile 7, I was sure I was slowing down. I had a chart with me showing what my timing should be at each aid station, and even at mile 8 I was on course for a 6:30 50k. My goal had been between 7-8 hours – I wasn’t going for speed, as I knew it was going to be a really challenging course. So I adjusted my pace to actually slow down and reminded myself to take it easy – I still had a lot of miles left and didn’t want to burn out early. Around mile 11, some nausea hit me. I had waves of feeling awful and waves of feeling fine for probably 6 miles. I was hurting and had to dig deep to push through. Luckily I brought my headphones, so I threw them on and tried to focus on some upbeat music to get me through it.

At each aid station I knew I needed to get real food in me, but I was really struggling. I’d walk away with a pb&j sandwich in hand ready to hike and eat, and would take 10 minutes to just choke it down. I was struggling between wondering if I needed more water, or if I was over-hydrating. Finally, I had my last wave of nausea and was feeling good again. I was so relieved to feel good, I was pretty much dancing through the woods (as well as you can when there are giant rocks and fallen trees everywhere).

The terrain was brutal. There were parts where I was lifting myself up in between giant boulders with my arms, and parts where I was basically crawling down a steep hill covered in rocks. I was not prepared for the amount of rocks. Seriously guys, it was rocky. When it wasn’t super rocky, it was gorgeous. We had some unreal views, though it was hard to find them while trying not to trip. I did take one fall and slammed my knee into a fallen tree – luckily I basically just tuck-and-rolled out of it and had a solid mile of flat, easy trail after that to recover and shake it off. Most of the miles after the nausea passed have already slipped my memory. I just remember putting one foot in front of the other, drinking a little water every mile, and chatting with as many runners on the way as I could.

Probably the moment I realized I had run 15 miles and was only halfway done.

At mile 21, I was feeling good but HOT. I hadn’t realized what 65 would feel like, and the clouds had started to disappear. I ran with a man from Costa Rica complaining he was cold (while wearing gloves and a long sleeve shirt) and wished that feeling upon myself with all my might. At the Anthony Wayne aid station (mile 21.2) I stopped to throw water on myself and put some ice in my hydration pack. It was glorious and helped put a spring back into my step. The next few miles were slower and hilly, but once I hit that marathon distance and kept going, I felt unstoppable. Nothing makes you feel more badass than finishing a marathon… And then continuing to run.

I knew the dreaded Timp Pass was somewhere after 26, so I put on some T Swift and just cheered on everyone around me so I could try to keep some positive energy going. I hadn’t looked at the elevation of the last big climb (on purpose – no use dreading an unavoidable climb) but I knew it was going to be brutal. Once I saw it I stopped, rolled my eyes, and just told myself I was the idiot who paid for this torture. My legs were hurting from all the hills, my feet were hurting from the rocks, and my knee was a little sore from my fall. I knew I had to put it behind me and think happy thoughts, so I put on Shake it Off (twice in a row) and literally danced and lip synced my way up the hill. I’m 100% sure I looked like an idiot, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t exactly what I needed. I absolutely dominated the hill and was ready to FINISH. I didn’t want to let any negative thoughts slow me down or make my doubt myself.

One of my favorite moments was probably around mile 28 – right before the last aid station. I had my tunes going and T Swift starts singing “are we out of the woods yet?” and I literally said out loud “NO TAYLOR I AM NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET, THANKS FOR THE REMINDER.” Sorry if you were around me during this race – I promise I’m not crazy. Well, no crazier than anyone else who runs 31 miles at a time.

I pushed myself as hard as I could those last few miles. I had been leapfrogging with a few guys during the race (I was mostly surrounded by guys during the race – come on ladies, let’s outnumber the men someday soon okay?) and at mile 29 I finally ran with one of the guys for a bit and we bitched about how we just wanted to be done. He ended up finishing just before me, but I didn’t care. I got to that finish area and was greeted by the November Project Boston leaders and nearly lost my mind. For some reason, I thought the marathon relay was Sunday, so I was not prepared to see so many familiar, smiling faces cheering me on. I had the biggest smile on my face and finished feeling like a million bucks. There were dozens of NPers cheering for me, giving me high fives, and hugging me after I finished. I can’t thank them enough for being there for me – it was hard not having Matt at the start or finish for my biggest race, and seeing those beautiful human beings made my whole day.

At the finish: biggest smile I’ve ever had while running

I felt great post-race for about 15 minutes and then the nausea hit me. I knew it would (or at least I had a suspicion since I felt nauseous after Vermont as well, which I also had bouts of nausea during) but seeing Matt finish his 50 miler perked me right back up. I shoved as much food as humanly possible into my tired body and soaked my legs in an ice bath.

I finished my race in 6:50:26, which was a hell of a lot better than I could have ever imagined when I was contemplating throwing up at mile 12. I had my fair share of ups and downs, but the ups far outweighed the downs. Overall, I definitely recommend runners who enjoy technical running to do this course. It was truly a challenge of endurance, and I can’t wait to head back next year and do the relay – or, depending on this next year of running, to PR the 50k!

 

Strava:
https://www.strava.com/activities/562680023
Gear:
Garmin Forerunner 620
Ciele GoCap
Balega Socks
Nike Kiger Shoes
Nathan  Hydration Vest – HPL #020

Bear Mountain 50k Training – Week 15

This week didn’t go according to plan, but I’m thankful it was a taper week so I don’t feel too guilty! I’ve been having pain in my right middle toe for a few weeks – the same toe that lost its nail after the Marine Corps Marathon. It finally finished growing back about 2 weeks ago, and ever since, my toe has been bothering me. I was going to put off going to the doctor until after Bear Mountain, since I was pretty sure it was an ingrown toenail and would require some sort of procedure to fix, but I went to the doctor last Wednesday anyways. I figured they’d refer me to a podiatrist and I’d have to wait a few weeks for an appointment anyways.

My doctor took one look at my toe and did exactly what I thought she would – sent me to a podiatrist. I went to the front desk to make the appointment and was given two options for an appointment – 2 days from then, or in late June. I was not about to be suffering on every run from now until June, so I sucked it up and went to my appointment on Friday. 

The podiatrist confirmed it was an ingrown nail and suggested a procedure where she would numb my toe, then cut off a sliver of my toenail on the side that was ingrown. I explained that I had a race the following day as well as the big one next week, and though she said I could wait, she thought I would have no problem running next weekend if she did the procedure that day. So, I got the procedure done Friday morning! I ended up not running the TARC Half Marathon, which I was bummed about but decided later it was the right call. While my toe was only a little sore, there was rain in the forecast, and the last thing I wanted was to get my toe infected from running in the mud for 2 hours!

Goose was very concerned – even though he’s in a cone from being neutered!

I did my 6 milers on Wednesday and Thursday, but ended up resting Friday and Saturday so I missed a lot of miles. Matt and I did a nice 4 miler on Sunday, and my toe already felt better than it did before the procedure. I’m very glad I got it taken care of so Bear Mountain will be pain free – at least in the toe department.

This next week is my very last week of training! Just a few short mileage days and I’ll be ready to go. I can’t wait – I feel strong and ready to take on Bear Mountain.