Sunday, March 23, 2014

Haulin' in the Holler 25K

Oh where to start??

I guess I could start with the fact that I finished! Yay! haha

I went Friday night to pick up my packet for the Haulin' in the Holler 25K since I had never been to this particular park before. It's an hour and a half away from me, so I stayed with a friend in Charleston which is about 30 minutes away from the Putnam County Park. My friend went with me, which was nice, since it was kind of out there!
Source - Putnam County Park, Eleanor, WV
Unfortunately, we had used my friend's phone on Friday, so when I pressed go on my Saturday morning, I thought it was just taking me a different way...nope. My phone took me to the wrong park! And my cell doesn't really work in Charleston, so the gps wouldn't pick up to find the right park! Ugh. I had left plenty early, but I needed to be at the park (the right park) by 7:00 am for the pre-race briefing. I was freaking out a little. Fortunately, I knew which exit to go to from the night before and I had the race page up before so it would still pop up. I just went from their directions and what I remembered from the night before. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one who was running late and they went back over which colors to follow along the paths and which to avoid, which was really good since some people would go the wrong way because they hadn't listened!

After using the port-a-johns, I was still worried that my stomach would give me issues. I only had one mini bagel for breakfast because I was so worried. I made sure to drink water and had a little hot tea, but well before the race started so that I was hydrated.

We lined up on the old fair grounds and started at 7:30 am. Thankfully it was a beautiful day. It didn't rain once and stayed in the sixties with a slight breeze. It was perfect! The route included about a mile of running on gravel before we hit the real trail. It was single track trail pretty much the whole time. There was a couple of spots that included 4-wheeler trails, but these areas were so gouged that it was hard to run on those. I'm not going to lie, some parts were scary. The trail would get really narrow and if I misplaced a foot, down the mountain I would go! And I had a right to be afraid of falling because I did fall, twice! Oh it wasn't bad, I just tripped over a couple of roots. To be expected of course. There was usually someone in front of me or behind me, but only a couple of times did I actually talk to someone. Trail running is not for those who need crowd support and lots of people around. I liked it though. The people behind me made me run when I didn't feel like it and if they passed me that made me want to catch up to them (which I never did, haha). The scenery was beautiful, even if it was still all brown from winter. I imagine it's really gorgeous in the summer. There were huge rock formations, little streams that had makeshift wooden bridges over them, beautiful trees, and of course beautiful mountain views. I should have taken my phone but I didn't want the extra weight.
This is a good running portion of the trail from last year's race. - Source
It was kind of hard to not keep thinking about how long I had to be out there. But I tried my best to just focus on to getting to the first aid station at mile 5 and then the next one at mile 10. The volunteers were really great. They were out in the middle of nowhere the whole day. I think the only way they got refills and such were from 4-wheelers (ATV's). I took a big risk at the aid stations and tried something new. They had Hammer Heed, which is supposed to be like Gatorade, I was not a fan. I took one drink and poured the rest out.
So I took some Mountain Dew for the sugar and caffeine. I didn't eat anything at the first one (was still worried that I'd have stomach problems), but I did take some grapes at the second one. They tasted fantastic and the Mountain Dew was good too. I did feel funny right after I drank it, but I think my body just had to take it in. I also took two Cliff Shot Blocks thirty minutes in since I didn't eat much for breakfast, and then I took a Vanilla Gu each hour. I think my nutrition was pretty good. I could feel my legs get extra tired when it was at the hour mark for my next Gu. They didn't upset my stomach and I feel like my energy kept up relatively well. Unfortunately, I think my handheld water bottle was leaking a little. I ran out of water before each aid station and when I had about two miles left. It needed to be just a bit bigger. I'm still glad I went with the hand-held versus the belt. It didn't get on my nerves the whole time.
This is the water bottle I used. - Source
In the end, I did a lot of walking. I think that is a big part of trail running though. Perhaps with more practice I'll get better though. I'm glad I went with my regular shoes since I didn't get blisters, but I think I definitely could have used the extra support. My ankle kept twisting and at some points I slid. One downhill was so steep I almost just sat down and slid, but someone was behind me, so I had to go sideways instead, haha. There were just a lot more steep parts that killed my legs just walking up them! The trail included various terrain really, from really rocky, to muddy, to nice leafy and dirt packed, to steep steep hills. And of course parts included all the above.

The hardest part was the last 3-4 miles. The trails snaked up and down the mountains, so at about mile 3 and half I could hear people at the finish line and I could see the white building that where we started, but I knew from my watch I still had a way to go. Being able to hear it though and see the road at various points and then going away from it, was so hard mentally. I was so tired at that point! When I knew I was close and I made, what I figured was the last turn, I picked up the pace and ran the last mile into the finish line. I didn't have anyone there, so the few people who were working and cheered for me was greatly appreciated. I also made sure to stay put until the two people that I had been near the whole race had crossed the finish line. One mind game I played with myself was to not let them pass me. They didn't know it, but they helped get me through.

So did I reach my goals? I didn't get the first one of four hours. I finished in 4 hours and 22 minutes! That's a long time to be running/hiking! I was slow, I know, but F* that, I finished something incredibly hard! And today, I can barely walk! haha. My thighs are burning and my left knee hurts, probably from either one of the falls or just from the terrain. My arms also hurt, I guess from holding the water and just keeping my arms at a 90 degree angles for that long.

I don't have the official times yet, but I know I wasn't last. But I do know that I finished, I gave it my all, and I didn't poop my pants! It's a win in my book!
My finishers 'plaque'. Handmade by the local boyscout troop. Very neat!

P.S. There was also a 50K, that did the same loop I did twice. I can't imagine! Good for those people!

Friday, March 21, 2014

25K Tomorrow!

Haulin' in the Holler!

Tomorrow is the day! My first 25K and first trail run!! Oh Dear Lord, Help me! haha

After getting bad blisters from my Nike Trail shoes and not having enough time to figure out what will help, I've decided to just wear my Brooks Pure Flows and hope I don't lose too much traction.

Thankfully the weather looks like it's going to cooperate. High 62, which is fantastic! There is a 30 percent chance of rain, but hopefully it will hold off! The shoes won't be a big deal, I'm thinking, unless it gets really muddy. As of right now, the trails should be dry. I'm keeping my fingers crossed they stay that way!

Day Mar 22
Few Showers
Few Showers
Chance of rain:
W at 9 mph
Cloudy with a few showers. High 62F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Also, to cut down on some weight, cause mine is back up a couple of pounds (I don't know why, I've been tracking, but it's whatever), I'm going to just use my handheld water bottle instead of the pack that goes around my waist. It just gets too heavy and gets on my nerves! The jacket I'll be wearing has plenty of pockets for my GU and Clif Shot Blocks. I'll also carry my headphones in case I want to listen to the new playlist I put together.

So any goals for this race?

1. Finish under 4 hours would be nice.
2. Finish under 5 hours.
3. To Finish.

Not lofty I know, but really what can you expect from a first time race. Any finish is a PR!

I'm still really nervous though. And for some odd reason, I'm really sore. I went over my scheduled mileage on Tuesday, but I don't think that was it. I rested yesterday and today. I'm hoping with some ibuprofen, I should be good to go tomorrow.

Well I should get back to work ;) I'll update tomorrow if I can lift my arms and I don't get lost in the wilderness of West Virginia!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quite the Trail Run

Yes I had quite the trail run on Saturday.

I had about three hours of running ahead of me, so I started my day off with a bagel and some water at Panera. It was yummy! I went straight to the trails after that. Within the first half mile, I had to pee something fierce. Let's just say I marked my territory. Hey, don't least not yet.

So I was plodding along, just watching my footsteps when all of sudden a dog was just a couple of yards in front of me barking at me!


This is definitely what the dog looked like.
Okay maybe it looked more like this....

The owner came around the bend and the dog was obviously very friendly after it got over the surprise of seeing me. I was just glad I had already stopped to pee or I may have went right there in my pants. The owner apologized profusely, saying that there usually weren't people on the trail that early. I told him it wasn't a big deal and went on my way.

I should start this next part by saying the night before I went out to dinner with my family to a Mexican restaurant. I was starving by the time we went so I ate way too many chips with salsa and then had three tacos! Yes, three.

So, of course, on my second loop, out in the middle of nowhere, came the stomach pains. And then the sounds. And then the feeling of oh my goodness, I'm gonna poop my pants. I again, had to find a tree. I'm so sorry tree, I know you will never be the same. All I have to say is thank God I had a baby wipe thing in my pack. (You can now judge me). Does this mean I'm a real runner now?

But that's not all. On my third loop, my legs must have started getting heavy because I fell flat on my face! I had tripped over the tiniest root you've ever seen. But at least it was soft dirt and not wet mud or hard concrete! I spent the rest of the third loop continuing to get tripped up on root after root.

Despite all that though, I feel a little better about my run two weekends from now. It will take me forever, but with walking up steep climbs, I'm hoping I make it.

I spent the rest of the day enjoying the spring-like 55 degree day with my family. We enjoyed a nice farmer's market, a trip to a local state park, and then to a fabulous restaurant that makes everything from scratch! If you're ever in southern West Virginia, I recommend the Secret Sandwich Society. I ate soo much including the best burger I've had at a restaurant, but we won't talk about that!

My sisters and family at the park.
Hopefully it will be as nice as it was this past weekend for my race!! 


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Time I Signed Up for a 4+ Hour Race

On Saturday I did my first real trail run. Not the flat, neatly limestone packed trails that I'm used to, but the out in the middle of the woods, gotta jump over logs and rocks trail. Oh my Lordy, I never dreamed it would be so hard! I could not mentally get over it. I was slow, I walked way too often and just had a pretty hard time about it.

There is a beautiful river down there. I promise.

The start of a rather bigger hill. You can't see it, but I promise, its there.

Yes it was peaceful and great to be out in the woods, but it took me two hours to do 7.5 miles!! That's walking pace! If I do that three weeks from now it will take over FOUR HOURS to finish the 25K! That's people's marathon times! To say that I'm freaking out is an understatement. Facing the mental battle of the run taking that long and using different methods of running, I just felt drained when I was done. I even had to stop at my car and eat half a granola bar in between the two loops, I felt that bad.

Do I have the stamina for the race? What do I bring to eat on that long of a run? What if the weather is complete crap and I'm stuck running in snow, ice, or both? I'm so not trained properly for this! I'm really regretting the couple of short runs that I've skipped. I know it wouldn't make a real difference, but I just feel so slow and not in the best of shape after Saturday's run.

I have 12 miles scheduled for this coming weekend (I was supposed to do 11 miles Saturday, but after it took that long to 7.5 miles, I called it a day). I'm hoping that I can do it outside to get more practice on the trails.

The trail is only about a mile and a half from my house and it made a 3.5 mile loop. It'll be really nice to train on this summer. Just wish I had found it sooner. Not that it would have mattered much because it's been looking like this most days:
My view today. Under those few inches of snow is lots of ice, so I decided to stay home.

I'm not sure I'll ever pick a big event in the Spring again. It's nice to have something to look forward to and to train for, but it's not fun having to do it all inside!

I also broke down and bought some trail shoes this past Friday. I tested them out on Saturday, I had planned on doing 5 miles in the new shoes on the trails and then switching shoes to run 6 miles on the road. Obviously that didn't happen. I shouldn't have gone that long in them so new, they started rubbing spots on my big toes. I had put band aids on the back of my heels, since that is where I usually get blisters, but didn't think about my big toes. I thankfully didn't get actual blisters, it had just rubbed them some and now I feel fine.

These are the shoes I bought. Nike Flex Trail. Good thing I like them pretty well, since they are now absolutely covered in mud. I'm really glad I bought them though. I could really feel them digging/clasping the ground so that I didn't slide. They are very different to run in versus my Brooks Pure Flows since they are more clunky. They are not made for road running that is for sure. I'm a little worried that my legs won't be used to the extra weight, not that they are really heavy, but I like my Brooks since they are so lite. Should have gotten them sooner! But as long as the hot spots go away with more wear, then they will be great.

I guess I will just have to put my big girls pants on this weekend and train on the trails no matter the conditions. It'll be good to prepared no matter the situation right?? Oh goodness, what have I gotten myself into??