Psycho Wyco 50k - My First Ultra!

I had the most wonderful black bean soup of my entire life this weekend. Two bowls of it, actually. Part of it may have been the 31 miles I ran before eating it. I had never run a marathon before this race, let alone an ultra. I've been running with the Trail Nerds for about a year now, but this was the first real trail race I ever did as well. My training wasn't as great as I had planned, but I did manage two twenty mile runs at Wyco before the race and I hoped that was enough. The first lap was awesome - lots of people, solid ground, and a few familiar faces. The weather was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I ran with Danny for a little while, and the fact he was doing 10 miles after a 100 mile race last week still amazes me.
The "highlight" of the first lap was that I landed on my butt a multitude of times. It was cold enough that I didn't get muddy. Yet. But on a steep downhill, just after Speed Demon Ridge, I fell backwards on a bunch of rocks and landed on my forearms and my skull. That one gave me a headache for a good 15 miles. Just wait until you see the bruises.

I was nearing the end of the first loop when I looked at the clock and realized I did the first loop in 2:02. Crap. My plan was 2:15/2:15/2:30 and I thought 2:02 was a little too fast. As it turned out, the trails got so sloppy that I couldn't have gone much faster than I already was and I had so much fun on the first lap I don't regret going out that fast at all. Or maybe the bump on my head made me THINK I was having fun. Either way, I was smiling when I made it to the start/finish/aid station.

After lap 1 I ditched my coat and gloves, grabbed some more GU and started number 2. There were significantly less people this time. I was still feeling great and realized this was turning out to be a great run. I knew it was going to get harder, so I enjoyed as much of it as I could.

I had heard about the legendary aid stations at Psycho Wyco races, but I could not have imagined what they're really like. Besides the smorgasbord of food in front of you, the volunteers turned each aid station into a full-service station for the runners. "What do you need? What can I get you?"

I was a little out of it so I never really knew what to say, other than "oranges". I ate 17 orange quarters during the race and 2 afterwards. I don't even like oranges! At Shelter 10, Kyle (I think it was Kyle) took my bottle, dumped out the Gatorade/Succeed/water mix and refilled me with one flavor of Gatorade while I shoved orange quarters in my mouth. What a genius idea - one flavor of sport drink! I hadn't thought to empty my bottle before refilling.

At the end of loop 2, I realized I could no longer do simple math in my head and that meant I was tired. I finished lap 2 in about 4:30, so I knew if I could do a 2:30 last lap, I could break 7 hours. 8 hours was my original goal, so I was excited as I started lap 3.

The excitement quickly wore off and I was SO happy to see the aid station by the Triangle. My hips were starting to bother me and I was looking for a distraction. It was like an oasis in the desert. Colleen (another 100 miler) and the others offered such great encouragement. On the last lap I fell (again), this time getting super muddy. (Colleen said it was sexy.) Oh well, it was better than hitting my head.
I pushed on through Fester's Wander and blew through the Amos aid station, turning down the quesadillas. I had about 25 minutes to try to get 7 hours and I knew I probably wouldn't make it but I sure as hell wanted to try. It was so muddy at this point, it was faster to walk several sections. It was easily the sloppiest I have ever seen the course.

When I finally finished, my time was 7:04. I didn't break 7, but it was my first ultra so who really cares? I got a hug from Bad Ben while Vicki took off my bib number, and some kind soul directed me to the hot soup. It really was the best soup I've ever had.

I finished a 50k. Holy Crap.

John came in shortly after I did, due to a bum ankle he's been nursing for a few weeks now. We spent the rest of the day on the couch and ordered Oklahoma Joe's as our reward. I feel pretty good today. The most sore part of me is my right arm. That fall on the rocks really left it's mark.

This honestly was the most fun, most challenging, and most rewarding race I've ever done. I'm already looking forward to my next ultra - the Free State 40 mile trail run.
I have to thank all of the volunteers, sponsors, and Trail Nerds it took to put this on. Especially Bad Ben, the RD, and all of the people at the aid stations. Thank you, thank you.


T-minus 48 hours

Less than 48 hours until the 2009 Psycho Wyco. I've been bouncing between excited, nervous, and completely freaking out, but I'm going to blame that on all of the pent-up energy that comes with tapering. I'm going to settle on nervously excited and leave it at that. John did a real number on his ankle a few weeks ago, so I'm not counting on his company but I think the other runners on the course will make up for it.

We can have a drop bag at the main aid station, so roughly every 10 miles. I don't usually run with lots of stuff, but I plan on having some extra food, salt, ibuprofen, and body glide, just in case. And some pre-peeled Clementines, if I don't find anything appetizing at the aid stations.

The latest weather is saying a high of 40, partly sunny and only 10% chance of rain, so the weather looks like it will be darn near perfect. Unfortunately, we've had rain this week and more possible tomorrow, so the course will most likely be sloppy. That may not be the worst thing, especially if it forces me to slow down on the first loop. I'm tempted to run out there tonight to check things out. But so far, everyone has backed out of the Thursday run and I don't want to run solo.

I plan on sleeping a lot tonight and tomorrow and get some serious stretching in. My hips feel off again but I don't want to visit the chiropractor this close to the race. The good thing is they don't bother me when I'm standing, only when sitting. I may try to get into a yoga class tonight. That would probably be the best thing for me.

It's time for me to relax. My next post will be an ultra marathon race report. It sounds weird to even say that.


Running Down a Dream

All of this running has apparently made its way into my subconscious. The last two nights, I've been dreaming about trail running. It might be one of my favorite all-time dreams. I'm flying through Fester's Wander out at Wyco Park, the sun is shining, it's warm out, and since it's only a dream, I don't even get tired. But then I trip, and my legs twitch so hard it wakes me up.

I guess I do this a lot after races and hard workouts. John says after a 1/2 marathon, or my 20 mile runs, that when I sleep my feet twitch. And it's not random twitching, it's more of a left-right-left-right twitch. I think it's hilarious that I run in my sleep but I guess it keeps John up. Oops. He's said that after a hard swim, my arms do the same thing, left-right-left-right. Can I count dream work outs towards my training totals for the week? That would be sweet. Maybe I could write a book about Dream Training. I can already see it will be the next big thing - working out while you sleep.

It is now less than a week until Psycho Wyco and I'm fairly excited. I learned this last weekend eating more makes a big difference. I used 1 GU, which tastes nasty but has a good outcome. I ate 2 Clementines I had peeled previously. They are my new favorite fuel - they taste good, provide a decent amount of sugar, and don't require anything to wash them down since they're mostly water anyway. Score one for nature.

Fig Newtons, on the other hand, scored low. They turned my already-dehydrated mouth into a chalkboard and I had to wash eat bite down with Gatorade. John and I both tried some "chewable energy beans" we had leftover from some race goody bag. They were vanilla latte flavored and awful. While the caffeine was nice, they left a terrible taste in my mouth. Seriously, who thinks coffee is a refreshing flavor at 10 miles?

This is all trial and error, but I think I'm learning. I'm going to peel and take 2-4 Clementines with me on Saturday. I think it will also be nice to have a "treat" to look forward to at one of the aid stations. I also doubled my salt caps this weekend, but that was mostly due to the warmer weather. I'll take extra for Saturday, but I haven't noticed any salt-related issues so far.

For recovery food this weekend (and for my birthday) I made devils food chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cream filling and chocolate ganache frosting. I made too many, so I took a bunch over to all the neighbors. I bet you wish you were my neighbor. :)


By the Numbers

John is traveling tonight, so I am home alone. I had a beer with the guys at work, went for a short 4 mile run and I am currently cooking myself dinner. I've noticed that since going to bed 1/2 hour earlier at night I have so much more energy and I'm more focused at work. I guess I really do need a full 8 hours. Although I'm a little embarrassed to say I go to bed around 9:45.

It is now less than 2 weeks until my first ultra marathon and I'm feeling better about it. The Fear has been replaced with Excitement, which is a much better emotion to have. I was talking with an old high school friend not too long ago and it got me thinking about where I am and how far I've come.

When I started training for my first triathlon, I couldn't run 2 miles without stopping. I had never swam competitively. The longest I had ever biked was about 10 miles. I wore size 10 pants and weighed 146 lb. I was embarrassed in a swim suit.

As of today, my longest run is 20 miles, my longest bike is 110 miles, I have completed 5 triathlons, 4 1/2 marathons, and too many "fun runs" to count. Most of the pants and skirts in my closet are now a size 6. I had to 2 expensive suits to Goodwill because the cost to have them taken in was almost as much as buying one new. Ironically enough, I now weigh about 142, but I think it's safe to say my weight has been redistributed. If I had body fat numbers, that would probably be a better comparison. And as for swim suits, I wear what works and what is comfortable. I own more spandex now than I care to admit.

The biggest difference for me is that I am finally comfortable in my own skin. I ran in just a sports bra the other week and I NEVER would have done that a few years ago. I don't care if I get funny looks in my running tights. My body isn't perfect, but I am grateful for what I have and what I can do with it. I think that has been the most rewarding experience in all of this training. I don't care about my size or weight, because there are other numbers that are more important.

Like 50k.


What 20 Miles has Taught Me

Yesterday I did my first 20 mile run. If you remember, my longest run had been 14 miles and that was last week. Ha! We had gorgeous weather, so I decided to take advantage of it. The run went pretty well, and I think I learned a few things that will come in handy in my upcoming ultra. Here's a quick list of what I learned yesterday.

1. For weather above 50 degrees, 1 water bottle is not enough for 10 miles. I was fine on the first loop, refilled at mile 8 and my car, and then started #2. The temps warmed up and I was a little overdressed, so around mile 15, I stopped by a little creek and filled my bottle. Not the most sanitary thing, but it got me to mile 18, where there was a water faucet. No signs of water-bourne illness yet. :)

2. I need about 1 GU every 5 miles for something that long. I had two with me and by the end, I wish I had 4. I didn't completely bonk, but I noticed much improvement after taking a GU and that would have been nice around mile 16.

3. For salt, 2 salt caps and 1 bottle of Gatorade probably was good. No cramping issues, but I'll probably carry a few extra during the race just in case. I'm not nearly as salty of a sweater as John is.

4. Long runs are more fun with someone else. Especially the last 2 miles, it would have been nice to have someone to talk to so I wasn't focused on how my legs felt like I was beaten with a stick.

I stretched out well afterwards and did a little walking and I can't believe how good I feel today. Between miles 18 and 20, I felt like I had been beaten from the waist down. The blisters on my feet and my ankles complained with each downhill step and my quads and hamstrings were screaming on the uphills. Part of it was probably a lack of calories, but I was expecting to be much more sore. I also believe that when your pain is the only thing you have to focus on, it becomes much worse. At least in the race there will be other people and things to keep me distracted.

This is good. This makes me think the 50k will be surviveable. I did 2 loops in 4:30, so my time goal of less than 8 hours seems very realistic. I think if I was more consistently training in December, I could shoot for less than 7 hours.

I'm hoping to do some light spinning this afternoon before the Super Bowl to loosen my legs up and relax my knees. I'm just hapy that I'm not hobbling today!