Author Archives: ooartist1234

Mogollon Monster 100, my 32:20, 2017

"In a limitless world, why set your sights on the attainable? The prize within an arm's reach? Why not think a little bigger? Our expectations are the foundation for our accomplishments. The target you aim for is more than likely going to be the target you hit. You are worth more. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for, but like anything, if you don't recognize and do something about it, the impact will be minimal."

-Eddie Pinero, "Setting Targets" Your World Within

Temps were outstanding: 85 for a high and 48 for a low. Delaina and I got up at 4:15a, and we were out the door at 4:45a. The Mogollon Monster 100 started at 6:00a after a brief race meeting. 

Food: I brought less of my own food this year, anticipating the “non sweet” race food. I mostly ate race food, quesadillas, ramen, peanut M&M’s, grilled cheese, a few oreos, peanut butter pretzels and Gatorade. I had some of my own food too, one chocolate/coconut GU, one cinnamon/white chocolate bar, one lemon cookie bar, 5 Skratch electrolyte mixes.

What I wore: Through mile 43, I wore compression shorts, sport’s bra and tank. Miles 43-78, I added a long sleeve, gloves, buff and compression socks. Miles 78-100, I got rid of the long sleeve, buff and gloves and put on a tank top. I wore my Hoka Challenger ATR 3’s. I had on my Ultimate Direction pack for all of my running, except miles 43-78. I had on a hat and my Suunto Ambit 3*.

*my Suunto lasted the entire 32 hours and 20 minutes with 32% battery life left.

New Things: Contrary  to popular belief that you should “not try anything new on race day”, I did and I do. . . . I ditched my pack for miles 43-78 and ran with two handhelds instead. I picked up my pack again for miles 78-100. I have never ran a race with two handhelds. It worked out fine, and it gave me a break.

Miles 0-6 were a gradual ascent with rocks and switch backs. I started near the back and ran behind 2 runners from Colorado. The were running/hiking conservatively. I stuck with them for a while and moved in from of them about mile 3.

Miles 6-10.3 were a gradual decline to mile 10.3, where I would first see Delaina (my crew) at the Geronimo I aid station. More switch backs down, some steep. I stopped at the aid station, briefly, for refills of food/drink. This part of the trail was mostly exposed. The weather was great. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing.

Miles 10-20.3 started with a two mile climb. This was the most exposed portion of the trail. It felt warm here. Parts here reminded me of Zion. I arrived at Washington Point I aid station. Delaina refilled my drinks and restocked my food. She also gave me ice for my hat and for the arm sleeve that I wore around my neck.

Miles 20-26 began with a STEEP (understatement) climb up a rocky ascent (this will be repeated again at mile 43). I’m estimating a 20%+ incline up.  Once up top, it was more climbing, on a forest service road to Houston Brothers I aid station. I would have liked more ice for my hat and sleeve at this aid station but they did not have enough to spare.

Miles 26-43 were some of my faster miles. SWEET single track on the plateau and a break from the rocks. The forest was dense at the top. It was beautiful. In this section, I ran for a while with the course designers and former race director’s, Jeremy and Noah (brothers) and Jonathon. These miles took us through two aid stations and back down the steep, rocky hill we climbed to Washington Park II aid station. 

I started to have a bit of a mental struggle around mile 40. My stomach was a nauseous and I was thinking about how nice it would be to go to sleep in a bed and not run all night. I cried. I think that the elevation on top of the plateau and the faster running may have contributed to the nausea. I told myself that I would be able to sit down for the first time in the race at mile 43. I would let myself rest and eat. The nausea would go away. 

At this point, I was approximately 1 1/2 hours ahead of my projected time. My pacer was not there, yet, I had to wait. (I found my pacer, Maria, on the Aravaipa FB page. She agreed to pace me ALL NIGHT for 35 miles!!!! I was pretty lucky to find her). 

<<blister intervention: it was here at mile 43 that I decided to pop my one and only blister on my big left toe. One of the EMT’s walked over and offered to help. I decided to let him, because I was still waiting on my pacer. I popped it with a safety pin from my race bib, and I had started draining it. They decided to scrub it with a disinfectant soap. (yes scrub). That hurt. Then, they used a large syringe to poke into my blistered toe in order to further drain it. They used that d@%m needle twice. It hurt like heck!! They topped it off with an alcohol wipe, mummy wrapped it and sent me on my way. OUCH.>>

My pacer, Maria, arrived. I changed into a long sleeve, put on a buff, gloves and headlamp. We were off. BACK up the rocky, steep, 20%+ climb to the top of the plateau. We’d stay here all night, until sunrise, running at around 7,100′-7,800′. 

Miles 43-78, these miles covered all of my night running and four aid stations. Delaina went home to sleep. Our house was about 20 minutes away from the Washington Park aid station. Delaina would be back at 5:30a. 

Maria and I left the aid station around 7:30p and returned around 6:30a. Our night segment was pretty uneventful. It did get colder on the rim at night. We made sure to eat hot soup and hot food at each aid station. I was tired but moving well. I was slowing down on the climbs but cruising the downhill and flat miles. We heard elk and coyotes but only saw a mouse and a bunny. The sun started to rise at 5:30a. It was beautiful and windy on the plateau. I was looking forward to a change of clothes, food and the last 22 miles. 

Miles 78-88 at this point I was so happy to have made it through the night! I came into the aid station and grabbed a change of clothes from Delaina. She fed me some more quesadillas, and I ate some peanut M&M’s. This section was “rolling” and exposed. It ended with a downhill into Geronomo aid station II. It was warm, but the breeze was cool and felt great. I tried to run/hike this section but it turned out to be only a power hike. My toe was in a lot of pain and I continued to hit it on an occasion rock, AGH!! I passed a few runners on this section. I still had my music. There were moments of tears, mostly out of frustration. If my toe was not so irritated I could have done some running. My body felt good. 

Miles 88-95 HOME STRETCH! This section had more ascent than decent and more rocks!!!  I came into Geronimo and briefly stopped.  I did not want to sit down or stay too long because my legs felt good and there was not anything I knew to do for my toe at this point. So, Delaina was quick to get me going. Little did I know, the surprise I was in for, right before the aid station at mile 93/95!!! GLAD I was unaware of the difficulty! This section was mostly shaded. We were running with the 35K racers for most of this. (let me tell you, this is one heck of a 35K!!)

The surprise? A ridiculous, not even laughable, because it was so steep, switch back climb to the aid station. Guys!!! At times this was so steep that I had to use my hands. I did have to pause several times here to catch my breath. It was tough. Once at the top, I thought I had 5 miles until the finish. The ladies at the aid station told me that I had 5 to the Pine Trail Head and then, 2 miles to the finish. I almost did not believe them. I just wanted to be done!! Tears again and again. 

Miles 95-101.5ish mostly downhill and mostly rocky and forever. 😦 At this point in the race my watch was off by about 12 miles. It dropped the satellite many times over the course of 101 miles. So, I was relying on my time estimation to know when I was close to the trailhead. Every turn. . . every straightaway. . . every climb. . . “was I there yet? Can I be there already?” The tears flowed a bit here, because it was over. I made it. I finished. 

Then, I saw Delaina. I could NOT have been more happy to see her!! HA! I was there. I was done. She was so happy to see me. She was happy to see me for all of my 32:20 hours. I was MORE happy to see her this time. We walked the last 1.5ish miles to the finish. Closer to my ‘5 GUYS’ burger and fries. Closer to my shower. Done and Done (as Teresa would say to me.) It was a good feeling. Other than my toe, I felt good! What a race! 

I would definitely recommend this race. It was tough, beautiful and exciting. Logistically, It is an easy race to crew and pace. The volunteers were top notch. The race directors had things planned and executed well. Cannot say enough good things about it. I would not change a thing. 

 

 

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107 miles in 6 days, done & done

Without knowing it, this week became a celebration, a culmination of the word DONE and the apex of the last 3 months of living.

DONE with my 100 mile week. This was physically exhilarating. Days of fast, days of slow, days and days and days of climbing. I love this kind of stuff. I live for the big weeks, the hard weeks. It really makes me feel alive.

DONE getting my kids in school. . . lots of firsts this year. I have a high schooler, now. There were some fears going into day 1, but to my surprise, each of my children had a better than expected start. It was a relief to pick up each one and hear a similar story of how excited they were about their friends and teachers and school.

DONE with my parent’s move. This is a tough one, still is. My parents moved to Michigan at the end of July.

DONE trying to orchestrate the matters of a 14 year old’s heart. This was a huge surprise to me, this friendship, this relationship. It caught me off guard in too many ways to name. Boy,  did I have a lot to learn about beauty, about being 14, about caring about other people, about boys, about girls. Still learning here.

Monday Trail: 18 miles, 3177′

Tuesday Track: 9 miles/Stairs: .30 (10 minutes)/Trail: 8.7, 1300′

Wednesday Trail: 21.3 miles, 3300′

Thursday Road: 7.16 miles/Trail: 7 miles/Treadmill: 1 mile @ 15%, .60 @ 5%, 2078′

Friday Road: 8 miles/Trail: 19.5 miles, 3175′

Saturday Trail: 6.25, 965′

107 miles and 13995′ uphill 

Great people and great athletes realize early in their lives their destiny, and accept it. Even if they do not consciously realize the how, the where, the what.

-Percy Wells Cerutty

Storms, rainbows, self care

I woke up Sunday morning crying. I was hurting. I was not exactly sure what I needed but I did not want to go anywhere and I did not want to be around anyone. I asked my husband if he and the kids could go to church without me. I needed to have space to cry, uninterrupted. Cry without worrying my kids. Cry without my husband worrying about me. I laid down and cried. . . sad tears, angry tears, tears of loss, tears of uncertainty. . .

<<Sob>>  that’s what it was. . . sobbing.

Fortunately, in the raging storm of sadness, the rainbow of God’s overpowering love would intermittently light up the sky. Dazzling multicolored ribbons of light waves exploding from heaven to earth never come on cloudless days. They are impossible without the same wind and moisture that causes darkness and gloom. The same raindrops falling from the sky become prisms for the rays of light to reveal their true colors. Rainbows are always around us–they are just invisible without sadness in the sky. The same nerve endings that allow you to feel the pain of searing loss also allow you to feel God’s presence and his glory to a degree that previously could not have been reached. When you don’t numb the hurt but rather grit your teeth and face it, God meets you there and allows the deep trough of your sorrow to become a reservoir full of his presence.

Levi Lusko, “Swipe Right: The Life-And-Death Power of Sex And Romance”

God will stop at nothing to heal my broken soul. That means it might hurt. I kept a notebook by my bed, open to the page where I wrote, I know that you are here. I know that you are with me.

To stop yourself from grieving because it’s against the rules or because you think it shouldn’t hurt so much leaves you emotionally stunted and numb.

-Liz Seda, “We Have A Right To Grieve Losses Big and Small”, tinybuddha.com

Own the grief to the fullest. Do not let the messages or discomfort of people around you keep you from this. They may want you to pull it together and get yourself under control so they will feel comfortable.

-Robert Burney. “Heal Your Inner Child.com”

I am learning about self compassion, self care, meeting the needs of myself when I am in an emotional, sad place. In a place where I am stuck emotionally. Being kind to myself. There are many different ways to show self care. Here are mine.

protect my boundaries. . . defend them in the trenches if I need to

have a safe place to land (spouse)

have a friend who is your safe place to express, share emotions

Ask for what you need, no matter how silly or unimportant it might sound to others.

Time alone to cry. It is difficult to be sad around my kids.

seek advice of a professional

involve others in the care of you (me) & ask

Finally. . . 

Grief is a strange and new thing to me. I am better. I am getting better. Thank you to the women in my life who have listened, who have cried. . . without judgement, sharing my journey to an unknown destination (still on course). You, ladies, have been completely willing to end up where I need to go. You have given me your heart. You have not controlled me. You have offered unconditional support.

 

 

Training for a Monster 100

This September, I am running the Mogollon Monster 100 in Pine, AZ. I am in week 9 of 18. July at a glance. I like to use the training block of weeks 7-11 for some really long runs on Saturday. I do not like running back to back long runs. My 45 year of body responds better to a long Saturday run-rest day-long Monday run. The work I do during the week tends to be speed and hills.

I think that my two biggest challenges with the Mogollon Monster 100 will be the altitude and the technical terrain. This 100 miles the racer from elevations of 5,300 feet at the start to upwards of 8,000 feet at the top of the Mogollon Rim. There will be approximately 22,000 feet of climbing. This is almost identical to Pine to Palm. But, I think the trail will be more technical.

What will help me most is the humidity, running hard hill repeats, and running hard tempo runs on the trail. I love running in the heat/humidity. I love running hills. I love running hard. I am looking forward to the weeks to come. 🙂

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Friday Sat Sunday Total
June 26-July 2 14.09

2900’

8 + weights 11.2

500’

10.25

1600’

14.28

689’

13

1800’

10.6 81.42

7500’

3-9 10.2

1388’

9.2 1700’ +

5.2 walk, 250’

2 + weights

1584’

11 + 2175’ 7

1056’

30

4800’

rest 75

12,869’

10-16 12.2

2570’

8.5, stairs, gym 12.63

1775’

2 @15%

2 run

gym

1584’

6

1093’

30.3

4366’

Rest 74.2

11,388’

17-23 15 6 10 4 10 26 rest 71
24-30 15 7 13 8 10 27-30 rest 80-83

 

Race Recap: Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”” — J.R.R. Tolkien

 

I had no intention of running this race. I signed up the Wednesday before I ran. I was  coming off of a race in CA, Leona Divide 50, where I dropped at mile 40. I left Leona with a tender right hip that was diagnosed a few weeks later as “hip tendonitis”.

3 training weeks prior to signing up:

  • May 22-27: 46 miles
  • May 29-June 3: 67 miles
  • June 5-10: 56 miles

Tried a few new things: The adage goes, “don’t try anything different on race day.” Sometimes, I say, “why not?” I packed my running vest, but I chose to run with only one handheld. I drank SPRING electrolyte drink the entire time. I did not cramp. My hands did not swell, and my stomach felt great the entire time. I did not use water. I used only SPRING. I ate gels, peanut butter pretzels and a few cups of trail mix, each day. This was a big change up for the weekend.

Weekend Mantras: My thoughts for this weekend? “Run now, hurt later”, “let me be weak, so that God can fill me with his strength”, “Each day is new and it is only 20 miles more”, “Use each day to prepare you for the next”.

Songs on repeat:

  • “Out Of The Woods”, Taylor Swift
  • “Thank You”, Alanis Morrisette
  • “Patience”, Guns & Roses
  • “Good Life”, OneRepublic
  • “It Is Well”, Bethel Music
  • “Castle On A Hill”, Ed Sheeran

It was a very good running weekend for me! Some of my best, aggressive, joy-filled running.

Friday, Stage 1: Raccoon Mountain. Per my watch, 1800′ ascent and 2:55. By far the fastest day. Our weather was decent, 70s, cloud cover and humid. (I love running in the humidity, in case you were wondering 🙂 ) The time cutoff for this day is 4 hours. I am confident that all the runners who I run with could finish this day in 4 hours. The trail is nice and the ascent is almost half of what you will experience on the next two days.

My goal for this day was to run by feel. I was not going to look at my watch and tell myself to slow down. I ran hard. I breathed hard. Gave it almost all that I had. I saved some for the next day.

Saturday, Stage 2: Lookout Mountain. Per my watch, 2800′ ascent and 4:03. This was the hardest day for me. The weather was good, again! The temps were in the mid 70s. The time cutoff for this day was five hours. The cutoff was extended by fifteen minutes on race day.

I think this day felt more humid than Friday, or it could have been that I was running for one hour and eight minutes more?! My body felt great at the start of this day!! I was running with a handheld and gels for this day. I decided to run in a sport’s bra and shorts today. We started and finished at the Lula Lake trailhead. This course seemed quite different to me than the Lookout 50 course, and I LOVED it. There were a few crazy climbs!! My strength is definitely on the climbs. I push the hiking hard. I do not use the climbs to catch my breath or eat. I use them to push past those who are using them to catch their breath/eat. (Get on the treadmill and practice this type of hiking!! Ask me for specifics.)

Oh my word! I think it might have been the last 1-2 miles of this day that we descended to the falls and then, hiked a crazy steep section back up from the falls!! LOVED it. This is the day that I cried a bit. 🙂 I breathed hard the entire time. I ran hard. I hiked hard. My fav song for this day was WEAK by AJR.

This was a tough day for a lot of runners. The food at the end was good. I did not leave right away. I spent some time talking with fellow runners and helping out a runner or two with nausea and heat exhaustion.

I believe this would be the most challenging day of the 3 for any runner because of the time cutoff, steep climbs and the final miles, down to the waterfall and back up.

Sunday, Stage 3: Signal Mountain. Per my watch, 3200 ascent, 4:17. This was my favorite day. Most technical day. Most climbing. LOTS of rocks. In places, this course reminded me of Savage Gulf or the gorge section at Fiery Gizzard. The cutoff for this day was five hours and thirty minutes.

Signal Mountain provided the BEST views, LOTS of briars, poison ivy. . . cuts and scrapes. I enjoyed weaving in and out of the overgrown trail. It felt like I was running away. . . It felt like I was being chased. . .

My heart rate and breathing rate were well under control on this day. I think the mix of climbs and rocks kept my heart rate down, so that I could run well on the runnable spots.   Again, the climbing was in my favor. The scrambling over rocks was also something I enjoyed and there was plenty of it!

One of my fav parts of this day was the “break” in trail from about mile 11.4 at Signal Point, past the assisted living facility, Alexian Village of Tennessee. It was a small break, after a steep stair climb on a paved road. 🙂

I think this day is challenging but in a different way from Lookout. It is a slower day because of the technical trail. It takes a mindset of “just keep moving”. It would be easy to slow down and get discouraged on the rocks.

The run to the finish line from the last aid station is totally doable, mostly double track, non-technical. Great finish to the last day of running.

A few things: I would recommend this race, if it fits into your training schedule. Running with a handheld is doable in this race. Each day is different. Focus on each day. I chose not to hold back on any day. I looked at this race as 20 miles each day, NOT a total of 60. Plan on hanging out a bit after. The people are fun. It is fun to share stories and meet new people.

 

Female WINNER of the Hillbilly Half, Her Story

And our first place female runner, from Franklin, Tennessee, 15 years old, with a time of 1:37….Kathryne Hirt!! The announcer said. I couldn’t help thinking, how on earth did I get here?

 The summer before seventh grade, I made the decision to start running. I got up every morning and ran 1.5 miles. When I began, I could barely even make it to the corner of my street without stopping, and I really hated it. But I was determined. And when I’m determined, there’s so stopping me. Little did I know that in just a couple of years that I would run to relax.
Fast forward to freshman year of high school. I decided to run cross country instead of playing volleyball. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I could make! The team was more than a team, it was a family. The coaches were very nice and encouraging, but between you and me, could have done some more actual coaching. I made so much progress as a runner, falling more and more in love with running,  every day. By the end of the season, my 5K race time was about 21 minutes. Even thought the season was over, I ran every day, and not just a little bit. I was running 7 miles a day, and boy did I pay for that. I ended up with a stress fracture in my hip, which took two months to heal. Any runner knows that not running for two months is torturous, and it was hard.
I signed up for my first half marathon, THIS June, with my sister, and part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But, my hip healed in perfect timing. I had a couple weeks to get back into shape, and then my training officially started. I used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan. To be completely honest, most of the time I didn’t follow the plan. I almost always ran more than I needed to. And rest days? I hardly took them, unless the weather was too bad. I made sure to cross train, running 3.5 miles and doing a 30-40 minute ab workout on the same day. I also made sure that all of my runs included hills, which was not hard to do, living in Middle Tennessee.
My favorite part of training was the long runs. As an endurance athlete, I live for and love running long. The farther I ran, the happier and better I felt. As my runs progressed into the 9 mile and above range, I started to experiment with fueling. I tried raisins (not the best for me since they took more work for my body to digest) and GU energy gels. At first, I was hesitant to put something artificial into my body, but I soon realized that they were the best for me. And the flavors covered every base! Fruit-y, chocolate-y, coffee-y, and even maple bacon! These long runs did mean, however, that my training was coming to an end. And training coming to an end meant one very exciting thing: THE HALF MARATHON!!!!!
This brings us to June 3rd, 2017. My half marathon of choice was the Hillbilly Half. It would begin at 6:30a, which meant I had to wake up a little after 5:00a. I had learned from my training runs that I did not need much for breakfast, so I had Greek yogurt and mixed some Honey Bunches of Oats into it about an hour before running. I made sure to pack extra clothes and shoes, as well as my water bottle and energy gel. I was so excited, and a little bit nervous. So as every runner does, I made a last minute trip to the (disgusting, smelly, gross, etc) port-a-potty before the race began.
All my training was leading up to this moment. And with a ‘bang!’ it began. I weaved between people, moving around them left and right, for quite a few miles. After a while I found my pace, and maintained the same speed. Sticking true to its name, the course was constantly going up and down. It seemed like as soon as we ran down hill, there was another hill waiting for us. I ran by myself for most of the race.
About 3/4 of the way through, I ran alongside a guy going about my pace. We didn’t say anything to one another, but both of us knew we were using each other as a pacer. When we hit another hill, I took the lead. For the last 5K, I sped up. As I hit the last couple water stations and “hecklers” (volunteers dressed up as hillbillies to encourage and to entertain runners), the volunteers were cheering me on loudly, screaming “you go girl!” It made me wonder, was I the first female? And I was! As I rounded the corner to cross the finish line, I saw my mom screaming for me, and the men at the finish pulling the banner across for me to run through it. After I crossed, I got my medal and, best of all, my fresh Georgia peach from the amazing Peach Truck.
After the race, I snacked on some fruit, waiting for the awards to begin. It felt like forever.  When my category was announced, I was ecstatic to have won my very first half marathon at age 15. For the rest of the day, I was on a high, smiling whenever I thought about that morning.
Right now, I’m training for my second cross country season. My goal is to qualify for the state meet this year. Looking ahead, I want to run in college, but have no idea where yet. I love running, and cannot wait to see where it takes me!

Treading Water

MAY 2017

last month of school for 3 children

email from my parents, “we are moving to Michigan on July 24th”

my brother having open heart surgery

my 14 year old headed to High School

my 14 year old having new friends

In the summer of 1993, I completed lifeguard training.

  • swim 200-400 yards without rest
  • tread water for 2 minutes
  • grab 10 pound brick from 8-12′ of water and swim back with it
  • CPR/AED

Fast forward to May 2017, twenty-four years later. I have been treading water, this time,  for 30 days. I swim, then tread. I swim, then, tread. Then, tread/swim some more,  all the while, holding on to a 10 pound brick for the duration.

It’s been physically tiring, mentally tiring, and spiritually tiring.

At times, going under. . . at times, heaving for breath. . . at times, crying so hard that I could not breathe. . . at times, my heart, beating so fast. . .

Swimming, treading water, holding on is a lot harder than running.

So f a i n t, I just wanted to collapse. So w i r e d that nothing in my mind could settle down. So c o n s u m e d, I did not want to eat. So e m p t y, I lost a bit of me.  Truly, the only thing that I had to offer my friends and Jesus was my need, my demand, my urgency, my longing.

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget,

TRULY FORGET,

how much you have always loved to swim. . .

-Tyler Knott Gregson