Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Run 2014: Huff 50K

We did it, we did it, we did it!!!! I can hardly believe that after months and months of training and running and generally working our asses off we finally ran the Huff 50K!! And it went well! Really super well! We finished in 6:55:55.19 which is just under my dream goal of 7 hours. The goal that I never really thought was even possible. But we did it. I still can't really believe it even though it's been three days. Don't mistake me, it was hard. The hardest thing that I've ever done. But it was sooooo worth all the work and pain to be able to say that I am an Ultramarathoner

Before the race!

On the whole, the race went really well. Much better than expected. We had great weather on race day. It was about 28F at the start of the race and 32F by the end and both dry and still for the whole day. A thin layer of clouds kept it from getting too hot or bright. The race started a little late and it was 8:28 when I pushed start on my phone. I started the race feeling really good so we decided to just go with the flow and see what I could do. And the first loop of 15.6 miles went fast. I felt great and had no problem maintaining a faster pace than I have in a long time. My pace fluctuated between 10-11 minute miles with my fastest mile coming in at a 9:52! We finished the first loop in about 2 hours 57 minutes with an average pace of about 10:57. It was a really fun loop! We ran with one man from about miles 5-8 who regaled us with stories of his running experiences and general chit chat. And then from miles 13-15 we ran with a 17 year old high school kid named Joel. He was pretty shy and quiet and kept pace with us well. We got separated at the end of the first loop when he ducked into the tent to grab some food. My main challenge this loop was that the mouth piece of my pack froze and I wasn't able to drink from it. I drank some from Justin's pack and got cups of water and gatorade at each of the four aid stations.

The second loop started out pretty well and gradually slowed down which was about what I expected. Justin managed to get my mouth piece open at the start which was wonderful. Having more reliable access to water was really helpful. In general, the second loop was much more difficult than the first loop. Because really, the first loop felt easy and comfortable. It was only 15.6 miles. But the second loop was miles 15.6 thru 31.2. And that's a much harder set of miles. My legs were quite tired by the end, of course, but my biggest problem was that my back hurt quite badly. I'm not really sure what the cause was. I hadn't had that problem during any of the training runs so I was rather surprised to have it be such a problem. Around mile 22 I asked Justin if he could think of anything to talk about because I knew that having a conversation would help me focus on something other than my back. I'd been trying to come up with a topic for a couple of miles of that point and just wasn't able to come up with anything. Justin started talking about animals and we spent the next several miles jumping from one type of wild animals. That held me until mile 27 when my back started to get to me. My back felt completely fine when I was walking so it was hard to push through and run as much as my legs felt like they could have. Walking made my legs tighten up though and then it was harder to run. The last five miles went much like that. Walk some and then run for as long as I could stand and then drop back down to a walk. It was painful and frustrating and I just about started to cry several times. But Justin stuck with me the whole time despite me urging him to go ahead. He could have finished much faster if he had left me and picked up the pace a little. But he wouldn't go and we finished the race just like we ran it; side by side.

Tired but happy ultramarathoners!

And then after the race there was a heated tent, dry clothes, lots of warm soup and hot chocolate, and a new friend named Matt (he finished 17th!) who shared conversation, advice, and a bottle of marshmallow vodka with us. All in all, it was a pretty darn good day!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Run 2014: Pre Huff 50K Thoughts

Okay, guys. This is it. The Huff is tomorrow. I'm not exactly sure how it's possible for it to already be the middle of December but it is. And it's crazy. It seriously feels like spring wasn't that long ago. And like we were just deciding to run the Huff and settling on training plans. But it's actually been 9 months and here we are. The Huff is tomorrow.

And I am definitely nervous. Which is stupid. We've been training for this for months and just two weeks ago we ran 28 miles. A 50K is only 31 miles. It's totally, totally, doable. But mentally is feels so extremely different than a simple training run. If I crap out of a training run it's no big deal. No one is expecting anything of me and no one is disappointed. But this is serious. We've invested money, energy, and an obscene amount of time into this craziness. And if I crap out of this race then it's all just been a waste. So yeah. It feels like a big deal.

But. I really do feel confidant that I can do this race. I know that I've run 28 miles. And I didn't die. I didn't even feel close to dieing. And even when I was finishing that I was thinking 'If I had to run 3 more miles right now I could'. And that was before our taper. I've now had two weeks of light running and my legs feel good. We ran an easy 5 miles last night and it really was easy. I think I can do it. I really only have one goal for tomorrow and that is to finish the Huff 50K and get that darned belt buckle. My very, very ambitious second goal is to finish in 7 hours. I'm not sure if that's doable or not. I'm kind of leaning toward not possible. But if I did that would be fantastic. So yeah.

To discuss practical things, we're planning on carrying our packs, electrolytes, and a limited amount of food. There will be food at the aid stations but having run many times on our own we have certain things that we know that we like. So we'll be carrying ham and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We'll also both have a collections of sport chews, beans, and gels. I haven't exactly decided what I will carry. Probably more than I need just because I can.

I think I also have a pretty good handle on what I'm going to wear. The answer of course is a million things. But in reality it's supposed to be 26F at the start with an eventual high of 33F, no wind and no chance of precipitation. So it should be a very good day for a run if a little cold for my tastes. But it should be fine. The only thing I'm undecided on is what shoes I will wear. I'm waffling between my Merrel Ascends and my New Balance Minimus Trails. They're quite different shoes and I've been really liking my Ascends. However, I haven't worn them for anything longer than 12 miles. And I'm hesitant to test their mettle on an event like this.

All in all I feel strong. My ankles are both stable when braced and I don't have any pain while running. My only other complaint is that sometimes my shoulders are sore after wearing the pack for hours on end. But that's always minor and feel better in a couple of days. Physically, I feel like I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Which is good because I'm out of time.

In summary: I'm nervous but I think I got this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 37 & 38

Week 37:
November 18
     2.03 in 18:48, average 9:15
     Super, super cold run. High of 17 with winds of 20mph and gusts of 30mph. We had planned three miles but turned back after one. My cheeks and fingers were freezing in particular. 

November 20
     7.28 in 1:25:57, average 11:48
     Pretty unremarkable run. There was snow on the ground left over from earlier in the week and it made for interesting trail running. The combination of snow, leaves, and darkness made it much harder to tell where to step. 

November 22
     23.85 in 5:52:00, average 14.45
     Interesting run temperatures were around freezing when we started and near 50F by the time we were finished. It was a very wet run. It rained on us at least four distinct times. They were spaced perfectly so that we'd just be finally getting dry and then it would rain again. Our feet were completely soaked with muddy water by the end from the rain, puddles, and melting snow. 

Week 38:
November 28
     4.88 in 49:13, average 10:05
     Fairly boring run at my parents house. Neighborhood sidewalks with just a dusting of snow.

November 30
     28.57 in 6:45:07, average 14:11
     Good run. Fairly dry with only a few slippery patches. Started the run at 50F and was 60F by the time we finished. No hat, no gloves, and capris. It felt like freedom! We also ran our first marathons in this run as a by product of training. Just a little bit ironic.

These last two weeks of running have been really good actually! We got in our last two long training runs before the Huff and they went well. Don't misunderstand me, I don't mean to say that they were easy. They definitely weren't. I was extremely tired and limping by the end of both of them. But I still consider them a success because I know that I can do this. 28 miles was very long and very sucky and by the last few miles I just about cried every time I had to go down a hill. But even at the end I was still feeling like I could do a couple more miles if I had to. And that's a wonderful feeling.

The last two runs have been a bit rougher in terms of food. We've had the up what we've been carrying and I'm still not sure that I'm getting enough calories. The other downside is the added weight. My shoulders have been sore today because of wearing the pack. For the 28 mile run I carried for myself:

60oz of water (and ran out at mile 27)
pb&j sandwich
ham slices
a baked potato
a snack baggie of cut pineapple
7oz of applesauce
orange Clif Shot Bloks
a package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans
a blackberry GU

I did pretty well on that amount and variety of food. Over the course of the 28 miles we stopped five times for foods/electrolytes and we really should have stopped a 6th time in the middle. Over all though I was pleased with our food choices. It was nice having a variety and every stop I had a different combination of things. That worked really well for me.

Physically, I've been feeling pretty good. My legs feel strong. They get very tired and hurt (sometimes a lot) by the end of runs but that doesn't last more than a day or two. Doing intensive stretching after the runs helps a lot. Especially the hour+ that we do after the long runs. It's amazing how much looser everything is after that. My right ankle is not particularly happy at any point. It makes squatting quite painful. But it does well with the brace and I can run on it. So I'm not too worried.

This week marks three weeks until the Huff 50k and the start of our taper weeks. The plan that we're (loosely) following calls for shorter runs of 13 & 10 the two weekends before the race. I don't know that we'll cut back that much since that plan is for a road marathon and we're running a trail ultra. We have to balance resting with not losing all of our stamina. I'll keep you posted on what we decide to do!

Huff 50k: 3 weeks

Monday, December 1, 2014

december 1

The Rosses know how to do Thanksgiving right!

Happy 17th to these two crazy kids!

Katherine and I. I wish I had gotten a photo with Rebecca too!

Happy December 1st and a belated happy Thanksgiving to you! I didn't intend for there to be radio silence on the blog last week but I found myself completely absorbed in preparations for our long holiday weekend. We had a three day trip to my parents house, three birthdays, two thanksgivings, and one 28(!) mile run all packed into a five day weekend! To say that it was a whirlwind would be an understatement. It was crazy and loud and wonderful and I loved every minute of it!

But today I'm feeling a wee bit tired from all of that and I think that tonight we're planning a quite night, some yummy food, a hot bath, and maybe just a little bit of holiday decorating. Just what I need. Welcome to December!