Monthly Archives: December 2015

Lookout 50: reflections

“You are WAY stronger than you realize. You are FAR MORE loved than you know. It is gonna hurt MORE than you expect. But, the outcome is SO satisfying.”

Still sitting in disbelief. 10:43. (sigh) Really? 12:50 pace. This is the stuff MY dreams are made of. The day really just was optimal for good, even great, running. I just decided to take it. I decided I was going to run with a smile on my face and have fun. You can run with all you have and do it with a smile on your face, encouraging people a long the way.

Do not be afraid to train hard, pushing yourself to the verge of. . . . What do I mean by this? I think it means different things to different people. To me, it means taking my base workout and doing just a bit more than required. That could mean running faster than prescribed,  adding a few hills after. Running my daily miles first, then, hiking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Running in the early morning, then, running in the later morning. I try to think of the race. The challenges that I will have in my way. How I can train to tackle such challenges?

You have got to dream, sometimes BIG. As a coach, I feel like I need to ask my track group, my training partners and my clients to write on the chalkboard of their mind 100 times, “I am way stronger than I realize. . . I am far more loved than I know.  . . It is going to hurt more than I expect. . . but, the outcome will be so satisfying.” You just are stronger than you know. If you never challenge that thought, you will never truly savor or be mystified by the outcome.

Final reflection targeted at those who have a hard time loving their bodies, loving themselves. The body that ran Lookout 50 in 10:43, is the same body that woke up a week earlier unhappy because “something” did not fit right. The body that ran Lookout 50 in 10:43, is the same body that I told looked “fat” a month earlier. The body that ran Lookout 50 in 10:43, is the same body that I thought needed to “lose a couple pounds”. . . AND the body that ran Lookout 50 in 10:43 IS AMAZING, IS STRONG, IS BEAUTIFUL, IS TOUGH, LOOKS GREAT IN JEANS, HAS A BEAUTIFUL SMILE, WEIGHS 150 POUNDS, IS 5’10”, IS 44 YEARS OLD!!!!!! I want to challenge your perception of yourself! When you start to doubt your weight, your appearance, your worth, your beauty, then, email me. I will walk with you down the road of your DREAMS! Do NOT sell yourself short. do NOT limit your mind with FALSE perception. I want you to SOAR. . .

I’m gonna run and not grow weary
I’m gonna walk and not grow faint
Rise up on wings like eagles
To soar

I know with everything you’re with me
I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles
To soar

This desert holds a song I will sing, on and on
You’re a river when the ground I walk is dry

You will set the crooked straight
Clear my path, make a way
You will lead me from the valley to the heights

-SOAR, by Meredith Andrews


Race Recap: Lookout 50

Competition drives you; it is an opportunity to shine, to show the fruits of your labor, to thrive.  -Vern Gambetta

Hard to know where to start! I will break this down like I ran it.

The start: There were 250 runners in this race (171 finishers). We started out running across the road and through the campus at Covenant College in Georgia. Wide open running on sidewalks until you get to the trail head. Sometimes in races that start on the road and feed to the trail, you will experience a “log jam” of people once you hit single track trail. There was never really a jam. The pace was faster than the usual but comfortable. I did not want to spend my day looking at my pace, slowing myself down, if I was running faster than usual. I decided to take mile 0 to 22.5 by feel. I also decided to have fun and smile as much as possible. I started out running with Steve and Rick.

Miles 0-8 ran by feel. This was a great, runnable section with amazing views of Chattanooga. We ran down from the bluff trail to Craven’s House where the first aid station was. I decided the week before that I would not stop at any aid station. The consistent word from a couple friend’s who’ve raced Lookout 50 was to keep moving. It was great to hit mile 8. Felt great, eating well.

Miles 8-15 another very quick, runnable section. I ran by feel and did not pay attention to my watch. I picked up HEED at the aid station and kept moving. This is where I separated from Steve and Rick. I was not trying to stay ahead. I just felt great, it was race day.  I had a long climb ahead and I was ready to do some power hiking. LOVE to hike. I have always been a fast hiker. I took my hiking to a new level this training cycle with a word from Teresa about hiking on the treadmill at 15% incline for 30 minutes. If this is not part of your training and you want an easy way to improve your time. This workout is key.

Miles 15-22.5 This was the section with the climb up to Covenant, where we started. This was the first time that I would see my crew (Byron and Emma). I was looking forward to seeing them, getting two quick hugs and a kiss from Byron. Well, during my hike up to Covenant, I looked at my watch and realized that I was an hour ahead of my projected schedule. When I got to Covenant, Emma and Byron were not there. I did see Teresa, Kevin, Sherrie and Yong. I got hugs from Teresa and Sherrie and Yong filled my water bottles. This gave Kevin and Teresa a better idea of when they might see me at mile 34. Sad I missed my crew. I pressed on with a smile, knowing that I would see them again at mile 34!

Miles 22.5-29 I ran this section in training about 3 weeks ago. When I ran it, the leaves were ankle deep and we got a bit lost. Race day was great! The leaves were barely shoe deep and the trail was marked well. I will revisit this section at the end of the race. I was kind of thinking about that, but was driven for the most part to stay ahead of schedule and get to mile 34 with a great attitude and excitement to see my people!! This section had a creek crossing. The water was about calf deep, and it felt great.

Miles 29-34 I thought this section was beautiful. The fun part of this spot was the rope that you had to use to climb up and down one section of the course. LOVED it. This climb would eventually put you up on the bluff and provide some easy running up top. It probably would have seemed easier, if my legs did not have 30 miles on them. I did a lot of power hiking on this section, but I kept an eye on my watch to try and keep up a good pace.

Not so much going by feel at this point because it was getting harder. I felt like I was going more by watch pace. I felt more like I was racing. . . pushing through the time on my feet, pushing my mind to a champion place, knowing that I was getting closer and closer to my pacer. He could take some of the mental work off of me. I knew I could trust what Kevin told me to do, even if my body did not want to do it. I was ready to see, “how bad I wanted it.”

I also liked this section because you were able to watch the leaders running to the finish. I saw several friends running at record pace back to the finish! Awesome to give encouragement and to receive it.

Miles 34-38 Thrilled to get a pacer. 🙂 I ran into 34 and felt good. I was so excited to see Emma, Byron, Teresa and Kevin.  I decided to eat (maybe too much). In the grand scheme, a 1/2 bagel, some pretzels and a clementine can be too much, when you are at mile 34 and running record pace (for me). This is where the demise of my stomach began. . . da, da, daaa. Kevin and I were off.  This is the section that most runners of Lookout will tell you is their least favorite. I will tell you that I did not mind it. For me, it was a welcome break and hopefully time for my stomach to chill. I think faster runners do not like it because it is hard to get a rhythm. I enjoyed the go, slowdown, go, slowdown of it. I felt a bit nauseous and gassy but it was manageable. My legs felt great. I wanted some tums.

There was a creek crossing in this section; I think. I cannot remember. It was cold and felt good, but it took a while for my feet to feel warm again.

Miles 38-44 Saw my crew again at 38! Again, it was great to see them. I was desperate for tums. . . ANYTHING to help my stomach settle. I did not want any food. I did want to keep drinking water and electrolyte. I had to sip these very slowly,  as my stomach was still bothering me. Boy! It was getting hard to get my stomach off of my head. Kevin did SUCH a great job talking me through this section with anticipation for the last push!!! I know I asked his several time about our pace. I think that my lack of food was now starting to affect my mind. I could not for the life of me comprehend what he was saying. All I wanted to do was to follow his feet.

Miles 44-50 MAN!! This section was so, so tough. My stomach progressively got worse and worse. If I could have thrown up, I would have. I did burp a lot. That felt great! Again, I loved how Kevin told me about the course as we ran, “we will climb slightly here and then, we’ll have a nice downhill. . . ” Kevin has run this race and he remembered a lot of details about it. I also liked that he would say, “okay, let run nice and easy.  . . let’s get a rhythm.” I like this a lot because if I could start getting into an easy rhythm then, I could think less about my stomach, and it did make running feel easy.

There were tears in this section, at least twice. Kevin sympathized but then got me back on task. Again, I think I asked him about our pace and he told me information but I still had no idea what he said. I totally needed to just follow directions right now. I could not think clearly and my stomach was bad. We had to put our headlamps on about 3/4 mile from the finish.

This to me was the worst section, worse than 34-38!! There is a squirrelly part down by a small river with mud and roots, etc. I told Kevin that I was for sure walking. He let me walk. After that, I think he was talking me up every hill, around every corner. He was keeping watch over any headlamps that might be close. I remember telling Kevin that I did not care, if I got passed. He said, “you will tomorrow! Let’s go.”

STOMACH! STOMACH! STOMACH! It was frustrating because, I was still moving okay. I still had no clue how close we were to the finish. I kept my headlamp on Kevin’s feet. Kevin pointed up ahead to the finish and told me that I could not walk through it. I agreed 100% in my heart, but I had to convince my stomach to hold on. I asked him if he promised that that was the finish?! He said, “yes.”

The finish: Until I crossed the line and looked at the time 10:42. I had NO IDEA, when I would finish. Oh my gosh. I could not believe it!  AND, I felt horrible. I walked into the warming tent and laid down. I wanted to vomit. Instantly, I was freezing. the next 15 minutes (could have been longer. I do not know) were a blur. They sat me in a chair by the fire. I remember setting my feet on the wood, in the fire. Emma took off my wet shoes and socks.  I was so cold.

Two men and a woman carried me into the warming tent. Emma made me take all of my clothes off and put on dry clothes. I was wrapped in two wool blankets and a space blanket. My feet were up, near the fire. It was so cold. I couldn’t stop shivering. I got ginger candy and that helped my stomach a bit. I got a cup of HOT broth. That was great. Byron put my Uggs on. I was finally warming up. I ate half a burger and now felt like I was coming back to life.

11th female out of 29.
2nd in my age group.
81st finisher out of 171 finishers (250 runners started the race).

Amazing day. Tired. Satisfied. Contented. Sore. Peaceful.


The Significant 7

If everything is important then nothing is important. It is necessary to be on target with those components of training that the athlete or teams need to do to improve. It is tempting to try to do everything to insure that all bases are covered. Unfortunately that approach will ultimately dilute the training effect, which limits long-term improvement.

-Vern Gambetta

Hill work:

Life happens on the hills. They’re opportunities to prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you ever imagined. If you never attempt the ascent, you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side.

There are several ways that I hill train. Some days, I do short hill repeats, and some days I do long hill repeats. I repeat 6-10 times and my workout is over.

I add hill repeats to my long run. My personal view is that I should be able to add a few hill repeats at the beginning, middle or end of a long run. I think this type of training is body work and mind work. It is almost impossible to run a trail race without a few significant hills as part of the course. This random sprinkling of hills on a long run keeps my mind fresh for upcoming races.

Speed work:  I use tempo runs, track workouts and negative split long runs. I mainly do my tempo work on the road, up to 9 miles. I run at the track almost every Tuesday, up to 7 miles.  I choose two of my long runs each month to run a negative split (negative split = running the second half of the workout faster than the first half) workout.

Uphill Hiking: Thanks to the advice of my friend Teresa, I am now ‘hill hiking’ on the treadmill at least once a week for about 30 minutes. I set the treadmill on 15% and hike at a 3.9-4.1 pace. Sometimes, I just go to the gym to hike and stretch. Sometimes, I add the hiking after a short run. As my fellow ultra runners know, there is plenty of running AND plenty of power hiking during an ultra. I like being the one who can power hike the hills and pass persons who cannot sustain a fast hiking pace. 🙂

 Strength Training: resistance training in the weight room and/or a body weight resistance are both great compliments to trail/ultra running.  SO important. It keeps my muscles strong. It keeps my tendons and ligaments strong. It keeps my body mass ratio in check. It is also great for the bones (bone mass/strength is vital to all ladies over 40) and balance.

*For the past 2 1/2 months, I have been working on core strength, with body weight exercises.

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement of the human body. . . these muscles can act as an isometric or dynamic stabilizer for movement and force transfer center rather than a prime mover.

-Jeff Kuhland, “Do You Know What Your Core Is and What It Really Does?”

Miles: To run an ultra you need to log the miles. I run 5 days a week, currently.

Monday: I like to start the week with some miles in the bank! I usually do 12-14 miles.

Tuesday: Track. I run between 3.5-7.5 miles, depending on the workout.

Wednesday: easy. Mileage depends on the week.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: getting my legs tired for Saturday. I usually run between 8-10 miles.

Saturday: L O N G day. I run between 15-30 miles.

Sunday: Rest

Destination Running: get out of your running area code! It is nice to visit other trails, while training. AND, it is great to run on the trail/road you are racing, if possible.

Training partner(s): This quote best encapsulates everything my training partners mean to me. Paramount to fun, success and hard work!

There are friendships that have been forged by dedication and by pain, by defeat and by accomplishment, by mud and by sweat, by laughter and by tears. Friends who have seen each other when we look out worst and when we look our best, when we feel like we could collapse and when we’ve won our biggest victory. Friends who encourage us when we want to stop, stick with us when we’re about to fall, and run beside us not just in the races but everyday. There are the types of friendships that don’t fade with time and don’t dwindle with distance. These are running partners.

-Ellen Gass