Monthly Archives: October 2013

Race Recap: Ragnar Relay TN 2013, Van 2


There were country folk and city folk. There were ‘ladies and gentlemen’. There were “hot nuts” and peanuts. There were ninja punches and fruit punch Powerade. There was cowbell and silent, dark, scary running. There was “soft kitty, warm kitty” and feral cat. It’s Ragnar people! There are six sides to this Ragnar story, kinda like there are two sides to every childbirth story. This is mine.

This was my 3rd Ragnar Relay. I have been runner #7 each time. Runner #7 starts at the base of Mont Eagle and runs approximately 5.3 miles uphill. This was the first year that I did not have the nerves that I have had in the past. I just had a lot more fun, leading up to my start time of 3:30 pm. The laughter took the edge off, so did the grilled chicken sandwich and Mr. Pibb. 🙂 My goal this year, as in year’s past, was to run without walking. I am thrilled to say I finally did it!! I have conquered the ‘mountain’. I am ‘passing the torch’ to someone new next year.

My second “leg” began at 1:30 am. This 6.5 started in Tulluhoma. It was not too bad for the first 3 miles. I was running down the main strip in town. The city lights lit up my course. I did not need my headlamp, yet. Then, at about mile 3.5, the city lights began to dim. Another 1/2 mile down the road and I needed my headlamp. My van drove by, and I waved. Personally, I was kind of scared by the dark and by the animal sounds. I would have liked to have seen them one more time before 6.5. I was running on adrenaline, the “fear” kind. The night was also cold. It felt good to run hard and push to the end. I ran that leg at an 8:45 pace. I channelled my running coach, Sonja Friend-Uhl. What would Sonja do? “She would relax.” “She would run hard.” “She would be patient.” I felt strong, like she is strong. Felt great to finish and get into the warm van.

My 3rd “leg” started at Healthways in Cool Springs. I started abruptly at 11:20. I took over for Todd, who had to start because I was “running” late. 🙂 Our van caught Todd and pulled over. I jumped out,  and I was off for 6.0 miles. Ah. . . my last leg. It was a cool morning, with several long inclines. I finished with a 9:05 pace.

My favorite thing about this race is that you carry your own personal cheering section (ask Byron about this) with your for 200 miles. It is your crew. It is your team. When you are not the runner, it is your turn to take over as cheerleader and crew. Teamwork at its best. I could not have asked for a better team.

The other thing I noticed about myself was the joy I felt which translated to a huge smile on my face in the pictures. It was a love of running, a love of accomplishment, a love of my van members. Lots of laughter. Already planning for next year!

What I wore: Lululemon, of course, track attack shorts, runder unders, shiftly tank, arm sleeves, jacket. I wore 2XU compression socks. I ran in my Brook’s Ghost 6. ALL great investments.

What I ate/drank: 2 grilled chicken sandwiches, one chicken salad sandwich, chips , two small Dr. Peppers, chocolate milk, after each leg. It was the first thing to go in my stomach. I ate one gel 20 minutes before each run. I drank A LOT of water, no sport’s drink. It was cold. The water and gel was all I needed. I also had salty pretzels and salty trail mix. I had one banana. I had at least 8 homemade chocolate chip cookies.


Race Recap: Ruffner Mountain Crusher Ridge 2013

In brief. . .

Nutrition: I drank water for the first two hours. After two hours, I drank one bottle of Perpetuem and one bottle of water. I took two endurolyte capsules with my gel/bar each hour. I made sure to drink plenty of water with the endurolytes and gel/bar. For this race, the majority of my nutrition came from gels. I loved the Hammer raspberry gel. It was so good.

clothes/shoes/pack: I wore shorts, tank and sport’s bra by Lululemon. I was comfortable and cool, no chaffing. I bought some new compression socks for this race, CEP, in black. They were great. I wore my trusty Montrail Bajada’s. These are neutral shoes with good traction on the bottom. I have worn these for two years now. You can always find these at a good price. I wore a headsweats’ visor. I wore an Ultimate Direction AK vest.

Course/Race Director (RD): TOUGH course. I have trained for and run three trail races in the past two years, (2) 50Ks: Stump Jump and Gnaw Bone, (1) marathon, described as the hardest marathon in TN, Savage Gulf. Ruffner Mountain Crusher Ridge was the toughest to date. It was a hilly race, for sure. I think the hardest part for me was the technical nature of it and the descents. I really did not mind that it was a 13 mile course that each runner would run once for 13 miles, twice for 26.2 or three times for 39 miles. I liked studying/learning the course on the first lap and knowing the course on the second lap.

The RD, Vanessa Stroud organized a great race. She was very accommodating. She was at the scene all day. She was at the finish as each runner came through. She even spent time, before the race, answering a million questions from me. 🙂 Vanessa, herself,  is an accomplished trail runner. Click on her name a watch a bit of her Western States recap. If you are not familiar with Western States, it is a 100 mile endurance race starting in Squaw Valley, CA and finishing in Auburn, CA. She designed a tough, challenging course at Crusher Ridge.

Recap of the day: I was excited. I wanted to run 39 miles. I was hoping to finish BEFORE dark, in at least 10 hours. The first lap was a wake up call. I was emotional. I got lost, briefly, three times. My lower back was hurting. I was running the entire first lap without my shuffle. It was very technical: loose rocks, roots, large rocks, steep ascents and even a spot to scale down a dirt wall with a rope. (This was my favorite part!!) About mile 11, I started to really, really doubt myself. My back was still hurting. This surprised me. I just do not let myself think negative thoughts in a race, especially at the beginning!!! At mile 12, one of the aid station workers was cheering me on to mile 13 of the first lap. I nearly collapsed on her with a hug and streams of tears falling down my face. As she encouraged me with a hug, I kept saying to her how hard this race was and I was only at mile 12. (Oh Boy).

I texted Kay and Amy, “this is the hardest thing I have ever done.” I texted Byron, “I am stopping after the first lap.” Let me tell you that if you receive a text from me on a day that I am running, there is probably something wrong. 🙂 I ran into the first lap and told Vanessa that I was not doing 39. I would do one more lap. I still had tears running down my face. The people there were a bit worried about me. I reassured them, through my drippy eyes, that my body was GREAT, but my mind was off. I stopped at the aid station, called Byron and told him to be there in 3 1/2 hours because I was doing one more lap.

The tears continued on and off for the next mile. I started to talk to myself. “You are strong. You are trained for this. You can do it. You are strong. You are trained for this. You can do it. You are strong. You are trained for this. YOU CAN DO THIS.” So, shuffle on, food/water in, consume three ibuprofen for my back, settle into my zone. . . It was still hard. The tears stopped. I relaxed. My back felt great in 30 minutes. . . The next 13 miles were WAY better than the first. I did come to the conclusion that because of the technical nature of the course that no matter how I felt at the end, I was not doing another lap. I have not run on a trail for more than 3 miles with a headlamp, and it was not worth it to try it now.

I crossed the line in 6h 54 min. I went a total of 27 1/2 miles (I got lost 3 times on the first lap and once on the second lap). I was content to finish. I felt good. I fueled well the entire race. Vanessa and Byron were waiting at the end for me. Vanessa told Byron that she was willing to run a few miles with me, if I wanted to continue. I chose to be finished. It turned out to be a great adventure. NO two trail races are alike. They are all tough at some point. Some are just tougher than others.

The Trail Race Taper

Here is what I sat down and wrote several weeks ago.

After many years of running and 5 or so marathons later, I love to taper. It used to be madness. Now, it is resting in the completion. The hardest work is done.

Three weeks later, I have more to say. I have a different understanding. I looked up synonyms to “taper”. Here are my favorites, lesson, recede, close, diminish, fade. After training for a trail race, it is so much about “resting in the completion”. The difference between training for a marathon and training for a 50K, for me, is the time that I put into my training. For a road marathon, the longest time that I will spend on my feet at one single time is three hours. I will do this type of time on three alternating weekends. The longest that I spend on my feet at one single time training for a trail race is five hours, coupled with the following day of three hours. There is also a difference is speed, terrain and scenery.

Sometimes by the end of my road running taper, I am anxious, rest-less. I like that word,  restless. Some synonyms include, edgy, fidgety, agitated. In contrast, I have noticed that by the end of training, heading into my taper for a trail race, I am rest-ing or quiet, recessing, relaxing, at ease, comfortable.

. . . I am resting in completion. The hardest work is done. . .

Now, I am spending some time each day reflecting on these thoughts from the book, Magical Running by Bobby McGee.

  1. I am patient
  2. By holding my form and relaxing I ensure an excellent finish.
  3. I am a champion experiencing the challenges of the journey to the top.
  4. I relish challenges for they are the ultimate opportunities for growth.
  5. I can commit to an excellent level of running, no matter how I feel.
  6. In running, it is required that you deeply know and believe that you have the ability.
  7. If I do not put myself into positions where I am under pressure and require of myself to choose to deal with what arises, I will never have the opportunity to know my own greatness.
  8. Once I know that I have the choice of either exhaustion or challenge, the answer becomes clear, meet the challenge.
  9. When you have passion, even the most difficult task will be enjoyable.
  10. I have practiced the skills to the point that I can forget that I have them. Now, I can abandon myself to the performance. (Flow in Sports, Jackson)

Finally, I have used a line from the David Crowder song, “Oh How He Loves” to remind myself that I will have affliction in any race, at any given time, in life. . . even. BUT as the lyrics read, “When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these affictions eclipsed by glory, when I realized just how beautiful you are and GREAT are your affections for me.” His glory, his greatness, his beauty will be the contrast to each ‘afflicting moment’.