Sunday, August 24, 2014

Howl at the Moon Race Recap

This year was my 5th year to run Howl at the Moon.  The race has such a familiar feel to it and I'm getting to know more people every year that running it feels like I've been doing it much longer.  It is by far my favorite race to run.  Even though it will go faster than I realize it seems like a loooooong time away before I can run it again next year

To briefly recap here is how I've ran each year.
2010: 34 miles.
2011:  36 miles.
2012:  46 miles.
2013: 45 miles
2014: *drum roll please*.........47.5 miles!!

I missed by big goal of 50 miles. I'm SO CLOSE I can almost taste it and it bugs me!!  However, I ran such a good race this year, one which I was not properly trained for, that I can not be disappointed.  I did as I said & ran with my whole heart and left everything out on the course.  I can do nothing but be happy & proud of myself.

I left on Friday & headed over to Danville, IL where the race is held at Kennunuk State Park.  For the first time I took my 13 year old son with me.  He's been asking to go for the last two years.  He actually wants to register and run this race.  But he's not that disciplined at training and being so young I'm hesitant to let him take on too much.  So it's been a no-go on him running it, but this year I at least let him come to see how things worked.  Plus it made for some nice mother-son bonding time.  Anyway, once we arrived & set up camp we relaxed for awhile.  Pretty soon it was time to run the Baby Howl.  That's an informal chance to run the course, which is a 3.29 mile loop.  If you are a newbie then it gives you a chance to check out the course, otherwise it's just something we do for fun.  Most people walk it, a few run.  John & I ran.  Even though he wasn't racing I explained the course and how things would work through the race.  They had a nice wolf necklace as finisher awards.

This is the only night a year that I actually camp out & sleep in a tent.  I had no problem settling down and getting a good night's sleep.  Once it was light out the next morning I was up & ready to go.  John had said that he was going to sleep in, maybe until 11 or so before getting up & checking out my race progress.  I laughed & said there was no way he'd be able to sleep with 400 people milling around.  Yet, when I went to go line up there he was, still sound asleep in the tent!!

Ready to start with my Muscatine Running Friends!

The weather was cool and overcast as we started the race at 7:30 a.m.  A change from previous years when the race started at 7.  I'm not sure the reason behind the change, not sure it made that much of a difference.  I started out as usual and soon the laps were ticking by and miles piling up.  I was keeping a good pace and making very little stops when I looped around.  I did have problems with chaffing right away.  My first 3 laps I stopped at my tent, not because I needed a break running wise, but to deal with my chaffing issues.  Once I got that under control I felt good to go.  As I headed out for lap 3 I started to tell myself to slow down.  To reign it and save some energy for later.  As my mind pondered this thought I thought....No.  I want this and if I'm going to leave it all out here then I had to do so with every single lap.  That doesn't mean that I should be reckless with my speed.  To take up my 5k pace and charge forward.  But I had no need to slow down & take it easy.  I kept going and pushing at a good, but not all out pace.  By the 4 hour mark I was right on track with finishing my marathon lap.  All I had to duplicate this in the next half of the race & I'd go over my 50 mile goal.

The day continued on.  I felt pretty good the entire time.  I focused in on my running and didn't stop for much else.  I grabbed GU on the go along with a wide variety of snacks.  I've been blessed with the ability to eat just about anything I want for fuel.  GU, pb&j, bananas, Twizzlers, pretzels, gummy bears, watermelon, water, Gatorade, pop....I grabbed and consumed it all on the go to fuel myself and keep going.  In the past they had fresh bacon out the first few laps and pizza later in the afternoon.  As a food lover I dully noted that they had neither!!  John had joined me for lap 9 to keep me company.  Other than a few passing comments from other racers/people I didn't socialize much with anyone.  Partly because I was so focused on my run, plus the opportunity never presented itself.  I'm a pretty sociable person and typically welcome conversing with others, but then again I was in the zone and constantly on the go.  Lots of other runners and walkers were yelling me words of encouragement as I passed by.

Lap wise I was focused on getting in 15 laps, plus a few out and backs to reach my 50 miles.  When I headed out on lap 11 John joined me again and I had 2.5 hours left.  I was on track and my goal within a very reasonable reach. each lap ticked by my pace slipped just a teeny bit.  I began to feel the effects of my lack of training & the reality of running for several hours thus far.  The weather continued to hold in our favor, but I felt my body hit that point where my temperature was elevated and pushing myself was not helping that at all.  I began my ritual of packing ice on my body (baggies of ice shoved down my shirt and chunks of ice under my hat), taking in cold fluids, (I have sensitive teeth and do not like cold fluids.  Normally I'm ok with room/air temperature drinks, but when I overheat I welcome the cold.) and pouring cups of ice cold water over my head.  This all makes a huge difference in my ability to keep going.  Even then, I was beginning to struggle.  I felt faint and queasy.  I had the hardest time eating a banana and actually threw up part of it.  And yet I still pushed as hard as I could because I WANTED THIS!

John joined me on lap 13.  He said to keep me on pace.  I'm guessing at that point I looked like crap and John knew I needed the push.  When I passed my lap counter he yelled out what lap I was on.  I couldn't hear what he said (I forgot to pause my music) and moved in toward the table, unplugged my ear & said "what?"  He said my lap number again, but for some reason my brain couldn't fully hear.  I thought he said lap 14.  But that didn't seem right.  I thought I was on lap 13.  Since the number was in my favor, I didn't want to waste time arguing so I kept on going.  I recounted and discussed with John what lap I should be on vs. what I thought my counter just said.  I allowed myself to dream that maybe I was off and was on lap 14, although I knew I could be wrong.  Anyway, despite John's best efforts I did fall off my pace and slow down.  Although, knowing my past race history I typically slow down to a complete shuffle and that did not happen this time.  John did keep me going at a better than usual pace and even pushed me to pick it up when I started to walk a few times.  When I got back there was 1 hour left and I knew I would only complete 1 more lap.

I checked with my counter and this was lap 14, so I must've misheard him the last time.  Or he was wrong and realized it.  But according to my calculations this WAS lap 14 so I wasn't going to argue with what I thought I heard him say.  I would say that despite me feeling like complete crap at this point I still kept up an ok pace.  Yes, I slowed down, but I was digging deep and still giving everything I had to keep on going.  When I finished my lap there was 13 minutes left.  I headed straight to the out and back course and was able to complete 3 of those.  Each out and back lap is 1/2 mile so I added another 1.5 miles to my 14 laps & 46.06 miles.

I had previously told John that if I was really close to my 50 miles that I was going to go out and finish those miles.  Nothing has kept me from running 50 miles, it's just that in this race the clock stops and so do I.   Running for a little bit longer was going to be worth it to me if I could just get to that 50 mile mark.  When I finished John was waiting for me and he helped walked me over to my counter.  I had to turn in my out and back sticks (it'w how they keep track of how many you did) and verify my lap score.  Then I turned to John and we devised a plan for how I could finish my last few miles.  In theory I really wanted that 50 so I was going to go do it.  Mentally my brain said....yeah right, but I kept telling it to shut up I was going to do it!!  Reality took over and when I let go of John, I took one step and nearly passed out.  I could not keep myself upright or in any moving forward fashion without John there to hold me up.

After I finished.  You might think I look great, but I had to have John leave me there, hurry and take the picture and then come back to get me.  I couldn't do much of anything without John's help.  I was still fighting a lot of nausea and wanting to pass out.

 Love that boy of mine!!

Even though I was anxious to get cleaned up this was all I could do for awhile.

My boy was so good at taking care of me and doing all I asked him.

Eventually I did get to feeling better and got cleaned up.  John & I headed over to the award ceremony.  I knew what my mileage was, but wasn't sure how I did compared to the rest of the runners.  Howl recognizes the top 5 male/female finishers and then goes several deep into each age category.  However the overall winners are taken out of the age groups, which are divided up into divisions of open (39 & under), master (40-49), grand master (50-59) and superior (60+).  When they started with the overall finishers I heard them announce the 1st female.....50 (point something) miles.  What?!?!?  I was within 2-3 miles of the top finisher!  A little bummed.  Although I've never made it an A goal to be the overall finisher it's crossed my mind.  To be *this close*....ugh.  I was still very proud and happily accepted my 3rd place (female) finisher medal & hat they gave to the overall winners.  

With Daphne, one of my Muscatine Running Friends.  She placed 5th overall.  I'm holding my belt buckle, my hat and wearing my 'I Got My Ultra' medal (those who ran over 26 miles get that) and my overall finisher medal.

All of us when we were done.

It's fair to say I'm really happy and proud of my running the 2014 Howl at the Moon.  I want to keep doing this race.  And my history indicates (for the most part) that I continue to improve in this race (even with little/inadequate training).  It's just a mile here and a mile there, but I'm so close to reaching my 50 mile goal that I'm confident it WILL happen!  I guess we'll find out next year......

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hearts at Home Third Thursday Blog Hop

Today I'm teaming up with Hearts at Home and blogging on the topic of Love Your Failures.  As a side note I haven't forgotten about my Howl at the Moon race report.  Or the many other posts I've started recently.  I keep working on things, but can't seem to get it all written out or keep my eyes open long enough to get it finished.

Interestingly my failure to blog often brings a lot of criticism from none other than ME!  I feel like I have a desire to blog, even to have a very successful blog & yet it just doesn't happen.  Maybe it's God's way of telling me that despite what I want it's not what He has in mind for my life.  That's a tough one to admit when we as humans think we know what's best.  And sometimes we are right, but other times not so much.

Another big area in my life that I carry a lot of perceived failure is my running.  Crazy, right?!?!?  And don't get me going on my extreme lack of runner's body.  Massive fail!  Anyway, I know deep down inside what my running looks like for ME right now is pretty ideal and outright awesome.  I think the issue stems way deeper and more of the fact that I had a lot of running talent & potential when I was younger.  I realized it way too late and by then it was wasted.  My opportunity to really shine was past me.  My husband gave me great perspective once & said if I had gone down the road of a successful running career I might not have met him or had 6 kids that we have together.  So sometimes what are failure are in life actually lead us to bigger, better things that God has in store for us.

Many would argue that my running has never been a failure.  Or if the runner that I am now is hardly a failure.  Am I a world class runner with the fastest times in the world?  No.  Will I ever run in the Olympics like I dreamed about when I was younger?.....ok, who am I kidding, I STILL dream about it....No.  Will I ever grace the cover of Runner's World?  Probably not (although I'm still holding out for that phone call!!).  But none of that translates into my running being a failure.  I may only influence, inspire, encourage, coach, train, etc. a small portion of the people in this world through my running (or my blog), but as long as I reach someone then my running has been a great success!  And knowing what I have accomplished, even if it's not on an elite level, makes me pretty proud of myself.

Blogging and my running are only a small portion of who I am.  I could go on and on and on and on about my list of failures about myself.  Luckily none of who I am in human flesh has anything to do with who I am in Jesus Christ.  It is a constant fight against the flesh, one that will never be won in this world, but I rest in and am encouraged by moments of truth that I am not a failure at all.  So when God tells me or reminds me that who and what I am is perfect & wonderful to Him, I need to listen and apply those truths to my life.

What are some of your "failures"?  How do you deal with them?

Head over to Jill Savage's blog and read her thoughts on the topic, plus find the link up to other blogs participating in the blog hop.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Preparation and Recovery

I have a race recap coming soon for Howl at the Moon.  I thought it might be a little more manageable to post about part of it to begin with instead of all of it at one time.  And the before and after are much easier to sum up so I'll start there.

My preparation for Howl was pretty much non existent.  I don't say that with pride, I'm actually embarrassed to admit that.  Of course, I didn't plan for it to happen that way.  In my mind I had all these great runs planned.  Many long 20+ mile runs to be had over the summer, even a 30+ mile run.  My foot failed to cooperate and my bout with plantar fasciatias kept me from that in June.  But there was still July and many more runs to be had.  While I did manage to get a couple of 13+ mile runs done it didn't go beyond that.  My longest run this entire summer was 17 miles long.  Now, I didn't say "only 17 miles" for I'll give it credit where credit is due.  When I look back even further in to my training I've only done ONE 20+ mile run and that was my marathon back in April.  I KNOW.....and I call myself a distance runner!!!!

I will stand by the notion that my body is conditioned to run.  I'm no stranger to this 8 hours of running concept.  I'm in excellent physical shape and my body can handle these type of conditions.  So that explains how I still managed to complete this race.  Now, how I managed to pull off what I did, how far I ran....well, that's kind of a mystery.  Meaning it's not something that I can even explain with words.  Because in theory I should have run much less.  But I'll save that for when I go deep in to race detail.

This was my 5th running of Howl at the Moon.  I'm no stranger to what happens to my body after I run this race.  It's also a no brainer that I'm going to hurt from head to toe in one way or another.  My muscles are going to be sore & tight for about 5 days.  At least one, if not a couple of toe nails will fall off.  And this was all true for this year.  I did seem to struggle a bit more with nausea and complete exhaustion after this race.  I will explain that more with my race report.

Now, because I am stubborn a streaker I have continued my running every day since my race.  Ummm, duh, of course I ran the day after my race.  Yes, it hurt.  I'd even say it was worse than child birth, but I slugged through 1 mile and got it done.  My pace is very slowly returning.  For two days after, my mile took me 17 minutes to run.  On a good day I can speedwalk faster than that.  So I feel like a turtle crawling down the road.  But hey, I'm moving and I actually believe it's good for my muscles to be going through that range of motion to get things back to working order.  On Tuesday I ran on the treadmill to force some speed on my legs.  By then my legs already were feeling better, but could still only handle 1 mile.

By Tuesday night I could no longer stand all the loose skin and detaching toe nails and I removed it all myself.  2 complete toe nails completely gone, all the way down past the cuticle.  And several big chunks of skin have been removed.  My two pinky toes have been especially tender and swollen.  I've been pretty much living in flip flops the entire time since the race to help air things out and aid with the tenderness. I wouldn't so much as say things are painful, just tender and very managable.  Things are feeling better each day.

Normally by now I'm back to a full running routine.  This year, not so much.  But I'm listening to my body and doing what it allows.  Maybe I'm babying it a little too much, but I'm extra careful to not rush back.  I have no mileage goal to worry about.  I don't even have any racing for another month and that race is a relay where my longest run will be 7.6 miles.  After Howl that will feel like a rest day!!  In the mean time I'm in no rush to taking on too much.  Just 1 mile & 1 day at a time.

There are 2 more days for you to vote for me in the #RWCoverContest.  VOTE HERE!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Little Ms. Popular

Ok, so my post title is dripping with sarcasm, because according to the #RWCoverContest I'm not really all that popular.  But that's ok.  Really it is.  And from the second I entered the cover contest I knew this is exactly what would happen.  I mean there are hundreds, if not, thousands of people who entered this contest.  Not to mention I entered a few weeks after the contest started.  In my opinion, if they are going to have a voting portion of it, let every entrant have the same fair amount of time to get votes.  I was on vacation when my Runner's World magazine came, then I didn't pick it up & get entered for another week or so.  By then, some people had hundreds of votes & I was way behind the game.  Anyway, Runner's World.....just my input on the subject.

Luckily, voting and getting votes is only a portion of the contest.  It is not the sole deciding factor of who gets to be chosen to be on the cover of Runner's World.  Not everyone realizes that.  I had a few people nicely try to tell me "youuuuuu're not anywhere near the top of the leaderboard."  Yes, dear friend, I knew that. But I didn't want some voter number to determine if I would continue on with enthusiasm or just give up in despair.  I refuse to let the final numbers define who I am.

Truth is, there are A LOT of excellent candidates.  Some of them I recognize as bloggers I follow.  One is a personal friend of mine.  I had actually hoped that there would be no personal competition with someone I knew.  When I saw her entered I took a deep long breath and clicked on her name.  I was curious to see what her answers were....ok, total lie.....I wanted to see how many votes she had, even though (I think) she entered after me.  Yeah, she clearly is quite known and popular.  I'm not going to lie, it IS tough and hard not to take it as a personal blow when I see the numbers.  Not that I don't want her to win or get a lot of votes.  She is a pretty amazing person and runner.

I knew there was a voting issue right from the start.  I had A LOT of people tell me they voted for me.  Probably a good 50 people.  But at the end of that first day I only had 15 votes.  So either a lot of people lied to me (it's possible, but I doubt it) or there was a voting issue.  As days went on and I talked to others I heard a lot of the same things.....that they had tried to vote for me, but got an error or the page shut down.  Or I think that some people think they voted for me, but are actually doing it wrong and their vote doesn't count.  Either way, I realize that 50 people and their extra votes does not boost my count to take me even into the thousands, but it would at least be nice to get a true accurate idea of how many people voted their love & support in honor of me.

Not long ago, maybe a few months, there was another contest for a running trip to win and a blogger I followed posted about it being a popularity contest.  In that contest it was the voting totals that determined the winner.  I commented on her post and encouraged her to not focus on the number, but rather the impact she does make on people either through her blog or in real life.  I know I have to keep my focus on the same thing.  My own family & friends have already reminded me of that.

One day, in response to someone's reminder of my low vote total, I posted my daily reminder to vote & stated that I was nowhere near the top of the leaderboard, but wanted everyone to continue to vote.  I received some very nice comments about how I'm at the top of THEIR leaderboard and that's all that matters to them.  Or that I'm always their #1 runner.  Etc, etc.  It touched my heart to receive that feedback.  Yesterday I had someone post and tell me that I was a great role model for my community and no matter if I get on the cover or not I'm still an outstanding runner.   Awwwwwwe, I seriously wasn't fishing for such comments, but it's a real boost to hear such feedback from others.

Voting ends at the end of this week.  It is only a portion of the final decision of who to pick to win this contest.  Good luck to the judges!!  Wow, do they have an amazing job in front of them.  So many deserve to be chosen and being that one or not doesn't diminish any of their amazingness.  I want to continue to hold my head high and encourage any and everyone to vote.  My vote total WILL NOT determine if I'm worthy or amazing or a role model or a runner.  It just a number.  Do I wish I had thousands and on top of the leaderboard?  Heck ya!  But if I don't, I'll continue on to be the best amazing runner and person that I'm always striving to be.

You can continue to vote for me HERE.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Car packed & ready to go

I'm heading out the door for my 5th Howl at the Moon, 8 hour ultra.  I had planned to get on and write you all a nice post to sum things up and set some goals.  But it's already later than I'd like for it to be and I have everything in the car.  And all I need to do is get in and leave.

Instead of trying to write this perfect little blog post I'm just going to get going.  I have a 3 hour drive to prayer about, ponder and process all that I need to to be ready for tomorrow.  Sometimes my dreams and goals are so big that's it's hard to properly convey it into words anyway.

Plain and simple, I'm shooting to run 50 miles.  I've run 46 before and I KNOW I can do 50.  If I don't reach that goal, well....I'll cross that bridge if I need to.  But I stand firm that I'm a darn good runner either way, no matter what.  (Remind me that I said that though as I can often be my worse enemy).

Follow me on Instagram, I'll post pictures when I can.  Cell service is spotty to non existant in the park so you may not hear from me until late afternoon/evening.  The 8 hours I'll be running are from 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m..  I most certainly welcome prayers through out the day.

Until I get a chance to report, I'm off on another adventure & quest to run my heart out and with every ounce of who I am.  As long as I do that, I can not fail!!

P.S.  Don't forget to cast a vote for me HERE!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

June & July Rewind

When June ended I was gone on vacation.  It was such a great vacation that I had no desire to get on and blog about my month so I just let it go.  Since I'm a little more on the ball with July, I'll just wrap them up together.

JUNE - I started the month with a bang and ran the Galesburg Half Marathon.  The week following I had many great runs as I vacationed on the east coast, but my foot began to bother me.  I had hoped to bookend my month with another half marathon, an informal one, as I ran around Clear Lake, IA.  Weather spoiled those plans, but overall I still had a good month.  Despite my foot problems & pain I held on to my running streak, which, in case you haven't figured it out, there will be apocalyptic end of the world times before I break that streak.
Total miles run - 118
Run Streak - 764 days

JULY - I only had to delay my run around Clear Lake by 1 day and for the 2nd year in a row accomplished this little personal goal that I hope continues to be a tradition.  It's actually 14 miles around the lake and this year's run went very similar to last year's run.  So not a lot to update on that, except my son & husband came out for a portion of my run and kept me company.  I continued to deal with foot pain.  It's pretty consistent, but manageable.  I'd certainly be open to the idea of a "rest" (meaning I'd still run, but only 1 mile a day at a very easy pace for an extended amount of time), but I have my ultra next week and the month before is not a good time to take it easy.  I felt like I had a lot more consistent runs and pulled off my highest mileage month so far for 2014.
Total miles run - 138.55
Run Streak - 795 days 

Despite my foot issues I think I've had an ok summer of training.  So much goes in to ultra training, but I consider June & July to be my most focused ones since my race is the beginning of August (1 week peeps....yikes!)  While I realize I'm lacking in actual distance/miles put in, I feel like I'm making up with quality.  Overall, this year has not been what I've wanted with my running.  But I realize it could be so much worse and I count my blessing that I can still run.
Total miles run for 2014 - 815.60