Running with the Hayneses

Win, Win, Win, FAIL

 

Fueling with Perpetuem and Heed

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I’ve discovered through trial and error that my body absolutely refuses to digest protein during high-intensity long runs. Perpetuem, a carb-protein drink, has always been my fuel of choice for endurance events, but recently I’ve found that the protein in it can cause my digestive system to completely shut down. Since you need to consume some protein (it should make up 5-15% of your caloric intake) during long runs to prevent your body from cannibalizing lean muscle protein, I have been working on finding a happy medium that my stomach can handle. This past weekend, I finally got a chance to try fueling with a mix of Perpetuem and Heed, a carb-electrolyte drink, on a fast-paced long run. I mixed the Perpetuem at half-strength and added the Heed to make up the difference. The lower concentration of protein, which accounted for about 5% of my calories, seemed to work just fine, and I had no digestive issues. WIN!

100 Calorie/Hour Liquid Diet

Hammer Nutrition, my source for all things fuel and recovery-related, recommends fueling exclusively with liquids during endurance events up to 12 hours long. The reasoning behind this is that liquids are easier to consume and easier to digest than solid foods, thus saving you time and energy. Also, Hammer suggests that the average-sized athlete should take in no more than 120-150 calories per hour (or less for lighter weight athletes) because this is all that your body is capable of processing. (You can check out their advice for yourself HERE.) I’ve never tried this approach, but it makes sense, so I decided to give it a shot. I figured that my 30-mile run would take me about 5 hours, so I mixed my Perpetuem and Heed accordingly. I brought along a flask of gel and a bar just in case, but never ended up needing them. I never felt hungry or like my energy was fading. WIN!

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A cold, but beautiful day for a run!

Running with a Neuroma

Two weeks ago I randomly damaged a nerve in my foot while walking around my house! I was simply walking from room to room tidying things up, and all of a sudden, I felt this explosion of pain as I pushed off my right foot. I know, THE MOST ridiculous injury ever! At this point I’ve just accepted the fact that if there’s a foot injury out there, I’m going to get it at some point for one inexplicable reason or another. Anyways, for a couple days, the neuroma was super tender, and I had to be really careful how I walked. My athletic-trainer-sister, Hannah, advised me to cut a hole in my insole under the tender spot to take the pressure off of it, and that worked wonders. With my modified insole I was able to run normally without any pain. I did a 17-miler last weekend with no problem, but I wasn’t sure how it would hold up to a LONG run, and since I have an ultra race coming up in a few weeks, it was time to find out. You probably think this is the part of the run where everything fell to pieces, but no, the neuroma was just fine (WIN!), though I only got to test it as far as 24 miles because I had an…

Achilles Tendon Tear

Yep. About 12 miles into our run, my Achilles started feeling really tight all of a sudden. I’ve had a long history of Achilles problems, so I knew this was not something to mess around with. I decided to abort the mission to run 30 miles and turn back immediately. I stopped to stretch often, but my Achilles kept getting worse and worse. I ended up walking the entire last mile because my Achilles was so trashed that I could no longer push off hard enough to maintain a running stride. So in the end I destroyed my Achilles over a run that was neither long enough or fast enough to be a worthwhile training run for my race. That is what I call a complete and utter FAIL.

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The good news is that I have successfully rehabbed both my Achilles tendons in the past, and I know I can do it again. The bad news is that it takes time, and I now have 2.5 weeks until my 50K on Dec. 5th. I don’t know if that’s enough time to recover and rebuild enough to run that far without risking a relapse. I guess we’ll find out!

 

The Best and The Worst of New Haven, CT

 

This Saturday’s long run is brought to you by IKEA of New Haven, CT. What started out as a simple desire on my part to buy a new desk and bookshelf for our home office, unexpectedly morphed into a marathon day of driving, shopping and running. Let me explain:

I found the perfect office furniture on the IKEA website. However, our closest IKEA is almost 3 hours away, so basically I’d have to go to the moon and back to get that office furniture. I figured it was not likely I would survive such a trip on my own, so I asked Jaime if she wanted to join me. She jumped at the chance, but warned me that she would have a LARGE shopping list. Since I only had a couple of things to get, and I didn’t want to spend my whole day wandering around IKEA and making impulse buys, I decided to use the extra time to get in a run. Jaime assured me that she would have no problem shopping for as long as I wanted to run, so I planned a 15-mile route around the Port of New Haven.

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The run started out really well–I ran along Long Wharf (above), which connected to a short trail through a nature preserve (below).

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After that my plan was to run on the streets that parallel the ocean, but I got detoured because of construction and soon found myself in a neighborhood in which it was painfully obvious that I was a minority. It seemed to be a respectable neighborhood, but I felt distinctly out of my comfort zone, so I decided to turn around before I unwittingly wandered into a non-respectable neighborhood!

I ran back to Long Wharf, and from there I decided to cross the bridge over the port and run alongside the opposite shore. I had much better luck on that side and ended  up running through three beautiful city parks along the way:

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East Shore Park

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Fort Hale Park

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Forbes Bluff

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Pardee Seawall

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Lighthouse Point

I turned around at Lighthouse Point and retraced my steps. I had gone 11 miles total and figured I had about 5 to go. The miles ticked by quickly as I went back through one scenic park after another, and before I knew it, I was back to the bridge.

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I caught the sunset on my way across and was glad that I only had about a mile to go in the fading light. Unfortunately, I missed a turn shortly after the bridge and found myself wandering into questionable territory again. Then, I ran under an overpass where a homeless man was camping out, which lit a fire under my feet! :) Thankfully I wasn’t very far off-track, and I did quickly find my way safely back to where I needed to be. I ended my impromptu, 17-mile tour of the best and worst of New Haven feeling grateful and relieved.

An Experiment

 

This past weekend I conducted an experiment with the goal of finding a way to avoid the stomach issues I’ve been having lately. Up until now I’ve always used Hammer Nutrition’s Perpetuem and Gel on my long runs, and it usually works just fine at a slow pace, but when I crank up the intensity, my stomach shuts down. So I spent some time over the past week on the Hammer website researching their various fuel options and came up with a plan.

I think that the root of my problem is the protein in Perpetuem. Hammer advises that athletes exercising for longer than 3 hours should be aiming for 5-15% of their caloric intake to come from protein to prevent lean muscle tissue cannibalization. (Full-strength Perpetuem, which is what I’ve been using, has about 10% protein calories.) The tricky thing is that protein is difficult/impossible to digest when your body is working hard, so some of us need to experiment with lower-protein options.

First, I wanted to verify my theory that it is the protein that is causing my stomach to rebel, so I decided to do a long, fast run using another Hammer product, Heed, that does NOT contain protein. We ran on a local rail trail so that we could maintain a consistently uncomfortable fast pace to really test my stomach.

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I’m happy to say that the experiment was a success! We ran 18 miles at a much-faster-than-normal pace, and I never felt hungry or nauseous! Next my plan is to see if my stomach can handle Perpetuem mixed at half-strength and combined with Heed, which would give me enough protein to account for 5% of my calories. I’ll let you know how that test goes, but for now, here are some more pictures from our trail run:

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The most notable feature of this trails is it’s bridges. We had the privilege of running through two of the seven remaining covered railroad bridges in the country.

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 There are several metal truss bridges along the trail as well.

 

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The rail trail parallels the Sugar River, which makes for beautiful scenery the entire way.

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And even though the trees are bare and the skies are gray, there are still bits of foliage here and there to provide welcome pops of color.

 

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I haven’t run on this trail in a long time, and I tend to think of it as “boring” since it’s flat, wide and straight. It also has the unfortunate happenstance of being the trail where I did almost all of my long runs while I was training for my first marathon, so I have lots of awful associations of pain and suffering when I think about running on this trail. This weekend I forgot about all those associations and appreciated the trail for what it is: a unique beauty.

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How lucky are we that this is the most boring and undesirable trail we have to run on?!

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

To celebrate my birthday this year the only thing I wanted to do was to run my age. Oh, and eat cake. :) When I posted on Facebook this past weekend that I planned to run 31 miles to celebrate turning 31 years old, my mom commented that after my run I should eat 31 pieces of cake! I promptly revised my birthday goals to include this suggestion. :)

Unfortunately, I did NOT meet my cake quota (though so far I’ve had 4 pieces in 3 days, so that’s not too shabby!), but I DID run my age for the first time ever!

Peter and I drove to Bear Brook State Park on Saturday morning where we set out on the most epic birthday celebration I’ve ever experienced.

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I had planned out a huge 28-ish mile loop, mostly following the course for the Bear Brook Trail Marathon that takes place in July, and we figured that at the end we’d repeat the first part of the loop to add on whatever mileage we still needed. The trails were mostly really well-marked, but we did get off course a few times, so I was glad that we had that mileage buffer.

We enjoyed a BEAUTIFUL morning with the sun streaming through the trees, lighting up the remaining foliage.

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Most of the trails are in the woods, but we ran a loop around this very scenic beaver pond about halfway through.

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We kept a really good pace for the first couple of hours, averaging 5.5 miles per hour. The trails were very runable with no significant climbs or technical terrain, so we hoped to complete our run in less than 6 hours if all went well.

Unfortunately, all did NOT go well at all. Partway into our 3rd hour, my stomach started rebelling. BIG TIME. As in total digestive shutdown. I felt like I was starving, but also like I would throw up if I jostled my poor bulging stomach even the tiniest bit. Wait, am I re-writing my Joe English Twilight Challenge Recap? It feels like it… :/

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When I first started feeling awful–notice how far ahead of me Peter is. :/

We spent the next couple of hours crawling ever so slowly up and then down Hall Mountain. I actually stopped twice to lay down for several minutes hoping that my stomach would calm down.

No such luck. After a few pity-party tears (I was so miserable but so desperately wanted to complete this run), I finally decided we needed to bail out and make a beeline for our car.

Even with making a “beeline” we were still several miles away, but as the miles slowly ticked by I started to feel ever so slightly better. I even perked up enough to take a picture of this pretty little pond:

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 Hayes Marsh

Soon after that I started revising our revised plan as it appeared that 31 miles was within the realm of possibility after all! We decided to continue to the car, where I could get some bread and water (I didn’t dare eat or drink anything else), and then head back out for an additional 6 miles to complete our goal of 31 for the day.

For our last stretch we chose a route that went up and down Catamount Mtn. This was a pretty short climb, but it was fairly rocky and steep, particularly near the top of the mountain. There were two lookouts at the top where we rewarded with a nice view!

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We did a bit of meandering on our way back to the car to make sure we got in the appropriate mileage, and finally ended up at the parking lot by Catamount Pond about 6.5 hours after we started at Catamount Pond.

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 We were tired but grateful for the journey we had completed together.

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Happy Birthday to Me! :)

Siblings Weekend in Minneapolis

 

Sarah and Jared are expecting their first baby any day now, so I went out to Minneapolis this past weekend to visit them, hoping to be there for the birth of my nephew! Alas, it was not meant to be, but since Hannah and Lucky were there as well, we made the most of the rare chance to all be together!

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And of course whenever we get together, you know there is going to be a fair amount of running involved! :) Sarah and Jared live right up the street from a chain of lakes which are part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway system. The four lakes are all bordered by paved paths, and they are THE place to run in Minneapolis. :)

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On Friday, my first full day there, Hannah and I got up early and headed out for a “quick” run. Our plan was to run around Lake Calhoun and then Lake of the Isles, which would be about 6 miles. We figured we could do that and be back in time to eat breakfast with everyone before Lucky and Jared went to work. Welllllllll, we sort of lost our bearings (everything looked the same!), and accidentally did TWO laps around Lake of the Isles before finally figuring out how to get back home! We missed breakfast, but had a 10 miles worth of an exciting adventure to tell everyone about. :)

For our Saturday long run, Jared took Lucky, Hannah and I on a 13.1-mile tour of downtown Minneapolis while Sarah ran walked some errands. :) Our loop took us through a little of everything, from upscale urban neighborhoods to beautiful parks to the ghetto and then finally right through the downtown skyscrapers.

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Running selfie at the start of our run!

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Theodore Wirth Park

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The foliage was gorgeous!

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The city skyline from the ghetto :)

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Stone Arch Bridge in the Downtown Riverfront District

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Running through the city!

I never would have thought it could be so fun and so scenic to run in a big city, but Minneapolis is a beautiful place!

On Sunday, we decided to get up early again and go for a run before church. This time Jared took Hannah and I on a 7-mile route around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. We left before the sun came up and were treated to a beautiful sunrise!

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Lake Harriet

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Lake Calhoun

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Calhoun with the city in the background

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Hannah and Jared’s shirts coincided very well with the foliage! :)

I flew home Sunday night having totalled 30 miles over the course of 3 days! I firmly believe that the best way to experience a new place is through running, and it was an unexpected treat to be able to run so much and see so many beautiful sights while we were in Minneapolis! And the company was pretty great, too. :)

 

 

The Presidential Traverse

 

Hiking the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains was hands-down the most amazing experience I’ve ever had, and I am still in awe. I feel completely incapable of finding the words to express how beautiful and special those mountains are, so I’m hoping that my pictures will do the job for me. :)

For those who don’t know, the Presidential Traverse is a one-way trek across the summits of the Presidential Range. There are 9 mountains, all in excess of 4,000 ft.; in fact, all but the last 2 are above 5,000 ft. We chose to start with the Northern Presidentials in order to tackle the greatest elevations gains and most difficult terrain while we were fresh. In all the traverse is 19 miles and 18,000 feet of elevation gain. If you think the stats sound impressive, wait until you see the views! :)

Our day started at 4:30 a.m. with a 2.5 hr. drive to the Clinton Rd. trailhead where we left a car at what would be the end of our traverse. We then had to backtrack half an hour with our second car to get to our starting point at the Appalachia trailhead, where we took the Valley Way trail up Mt. Madison. By the time we got started it was around 8:00–a little later than we had been aiming for, but that still left us with about 10 hours of daylight, which we hoped would be sufficient!

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Jaime says this is her “I-think-we-might-be-crazy-but-let’s-do-it-anyway look”. :)

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We had about a mile of runable trails with beautiful foliage, and then we got down to business:

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Thankfully we knew to expect trails like this after doing the Pemi Loop this summer.

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Our first view!

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And our first snow sighting!

As we came out above the treeline on Mt. Madison, we were greeted by this sign: “The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure, even in the summer. Turn back NOW if the weather is bad.” Yes, we kept going. :)

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While planning the trip, we spent many anxious hours stalking the weather reports from the higher summits and deliberating about whether or not it would be safe to attempt this traverse so late in the season, especially since there was ice on all the 5,000-footers and wind chill could easily put the temps in the single digits. After getting some advice from more experienced hikers, we decided it was worth a shot, and it turned out all our worries were for nothing because we had exceptionally nice weather all day!

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The Madison Hut with the Mt. Madison summit in the background

It took us almost 2 hours to cover the 4 miles to the Madison Hut, gaining about 4,000 ft. in the process. It was a tough climb, and when we got to the hut, we realized that we had made a fatal mistake. We had missed the trail that took us up and over the summit and now would have to hike a mile out of our way to get there. I hated to miss the chance to stand on the top of that mountain, but we all agreed that we couldn’t afford to take the extra time if we were going to make it out of the mountains before dark, so we pressed on to Mt. Adams. I guess that means that we did not officially complete the Presidential Traverse. :/ Next time!

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From the Madison Hut on, we were above the treeline the entire way, so we were completely spoiled with views like this ALL DAY LONG. I still can’t get over how beautiful the colors were!

On our way up Adams we discovered what hiking the Northern Presidentials is all about. There are no trails on these rocky summits, only cairns and blazes painted on the rocks to point the way.

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We also discovered that you can’t just step on a rock and expect it not to move–even the big ones often shift under your weight. We had a couple of 50-minute miles here as we worked our way up and over this boulder field.

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From the top of Adams looking towards Mt. Washington with it’s frosty white top.

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Group selfie on the top of Adams :)

We thought going up Adams was tricky, but going down was downright treacherous! The rocks near the top were completely coated with rime ice, which isn’t a big deal when you’re climbing, but makes for very slippery footing when you’re descending. Thankfully the ice only extended down a few hundred feet, so we just picked our way down ever so carefully until we got to more stable footing.

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Then it was on to Jefferson!

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Jefferson was another tough climb, similar to Adams, though it seemed longer because we descended a long way into the valley before heading back up.

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Jefferson, looking very formidable and very far away!

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On the summit of Jefferson! Not a breath of wind here–it was incredible!

There was rime ice on this summit as well, but there was also more of a trail here as opposed to just a jumble of rocks, so we didn’t struggle at all with slippery footing like we did on Adams.

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From Jefferson, looking back at Adams (Madison is hidden behind Adams)

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Looking ahead towards Clay and Washington (in the clouds)

From there we headed towards Clay, which was basically just a small blip on the radar screen of our big ascent up Mt. Washington.

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Approaching the Clay summit. I loved the purple lichen along this section!

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From Clay we had a rewarding look back at all three of our previous summits.

Clay was an easy one, just a short climb up, a short climb down, and then the long climb up Washington.1975037_982646602584_7870463500750448682_n

Jaime and Peter hiking alongside the Cog Railroad tracks.

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Approaching the summit!

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LOTS of ice up here!!!

The ice here was pretty bad because there were hikers streaming in from all over, and the trampled ice was a thousand times slipperier than the untouched stuff we encountered on Adams. We had to be VERY careful going both up and down!

At the summit we stopped to eat lunch in the cafeteria (pizza!) and refill our hydration packs. The whole place was a zoo with tourists that had taken the auto road and the Cog up the mountain, but it was nice to sit down for awhile and eat some real food! By the time we were ready to leave, the clouds had cleared out a little, and we were able to see the view that we had worked so hard for!

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It was very cold and windy on top! We didn’t stick around for long!

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View of the valley with the Cog tracks and the auto road in the foreground.

From there we made our way down towards the Lake of the Clouds Hut. The section from the top of Washington to the Lake of the Clouds was the only part of the whole trip where I was cold and had to put on an extra layer. Once we got down off of Washington, the wind wasn’t as strong, and the sun warmed us up again.

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Looking back towards Washington from Lake of the Clouds

Our next peak was Monroe, the first of the Southern Presidentials. This marked a turning point in our journey–the peaks from here on out were progressively smaller, and the trails were progressively more runable.

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On our way to Monroe.

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From the Monroe summit looking DOWN (that’s a first!) at our next peak: Franklin.

The mountains here were spread much further apart. After Franklin we ran along a long ridge to Eisenhower (the first green hump in the picture above), then we had another long stretch to Pierce (the second green hump).

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View from Eisenhower

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8 down, 1 to go!

We finally started descending below the treeline again on our way to Pierce, and there were lots of pretty sections as things got green again.

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That’s Pierce on the right!

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The actual summit of Pierce is covered with trees, so this was our last glimpse out over the valley before we started our long descent. The trail down from Pierce was a little over three miles, but it seemed to take a lifetime. With no more mountain summits to look forward to, all I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as possible. Unfortunately, our progress was still painfully slow at this point because the trail was in large part very steep and rocky.

We stopped at the Mizpah hut on our way down to get some real food for supper because at that point I felt like I would rather starve to death than eat another Clif Bar. They were serving potato-cheese soup, and we wolfed it down! From there we had about 2.5 miles to go, and we ended up doing maybe the last mile or so in the dark. We had brought our headlamps just in case, so this didn’t slow us down much. We finally reached the car around 7:00, 11 hours after starting our journey. It was a long, hard, exhausting day, but it could not have been any more rewarding. I think I’ve been forever spoiled by these mountains–I’m afraid I’ll never want to run anywhere else again!

Joe English Twilight Challenge Race Recap

 

So I did something kind of crazy last weekend: for the first time ever I showed up to run an ultra without any prior planning or preparation whatsoever. Well, ok, I was sort of half-planning on doing it for a week or two ahead of time, but I didn’t make the final decision until about 3 hours before the race started, and then I just threw my running gear in the car and headed out!

I don’t usually fly by the seat of my pants like that, but my primary plan (weather-permitting) for that weekend was to head to the White Mountains to run the Presidential range, and the race was a very tentative back-up plan. Unfortunately, the weather turned out to be awful–it was raining cats and dogs–so needless to say we didn’t dare even attempt to run in the Whites, and I wasn’t especially excited about running a race in those conditions either. The only thing that sounded appealing to me at the time was spending a lazy day at home reading a book on the couch. :)

However, with a little persuasion (and some threats) from Jaime, I decided to give up every vestige of comfort and brave the elements for a 6-hour ultra.

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 The race was hosted at a horse farm, and the staging area where we started and completed each lap was in their indoor riding arena. It was the perfect set-up for a rainy race!

This race was different from all the other ultras I’ve done in that instead of running a set distance, we had a set time in which to run as many miles as we could. The course was a 2.5 mile loop on wide grass paths through the woods with lots of rolling hills. At first I thought this departure from my beloved mountainous technical trails would be tedious, monotonous and not the least bit fun. In reality, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was none of the above. :)

The race started at 6:00 p.m., so we were able to run about 1.5 laps before it got too dark to see without a headlamp. I took my camera with me for the first lap to get some pictures of the course before settling into serious race mode.

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 We started out in a downpour and had on and off periods of heavy rain for probably the first half of the race. After that, the skies cleared, and we had quite a nice night. 

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We had a nice section alongside the lake before heading into the woods.

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This is what the majority of the course looked like. We were very glad for the easy terrain once it got dark and hard to see! Some parts of the course did get a little muddy after being thoroughly trampled by all the runners, but since the trails were so wide we were able to avoid the mud for the most part.

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We had another brief section along the opposite side of the lake. Once it got dark, the race crew lit big bonfires on both sides of the lake.

I started the race with pretty ambitious goals. Since the course was so easy, I figured I could average 10-minute miles for 6 hours, so I was aiming for a total of 36 miles. Unfortunately, things got off to a pretty bad start and then proceeded to get even worse.

I felt hungry almost right off the bat (that’s the bad thing about starting a race at a time when your belly thinks it should be eating a nice, big dinner!), so I guzzled some Perpetuem and snagged a couple of gels from the aid table when I completed my first lap. I proceeded to eat them over the course of the next lap, hoping to satisfy my hunger. That seemed to do the trick, so after my second lap I grabbed another gel just for good measure. It was while I was eating this third gel that I realized I had made a mistake. I gagged on the gel and suddenly felt so sick that I couldn’t bear to finish it. After that, it was a LONG time before my stomach calmed down enough that I felt like eating again. My nutrition was off from the start, and then I overcompensated trying to make up for it. Lesson learned.

During this time I fell back and joined up with Jaime who was just a few minutes behind me. It was nice to have her company since I wasn’t feeling well and no longer had such grand schemes for my race goals. She wasn’t feeling great either, but the miles ticked by as we chatted away. Even with battling nausea and dwindling energy due to my inability to eat, I still managed to maintain my goal pace up until about the halfway point. Shortly after that my stomach started to feel normal again, and I was able to eat a bowl of delicious butternut squash soup (this race had THE BEST food ever!) I felt like maybe it wasn’t too late to pull off my mileage goals after all. Then, things took another turn for the worse.

For some reason I developed an awful, painful knot in my right calf that plagued me on all the ups and downs of the very rolling course. My pace slowed drastically from this point on, and once again I mentally shifted my focus from doing well to just plain surviving. Jaime and I stayed together and kept each other going. We did a lot of walking on the hills which we had so easily run up in the beginning, and we had one 30-minute mile where I’m not quite sure what happened. Probably a combination of lingering at the aid station, stopping for a bathroom break, and walking more and more often. We did perk up quite a bit near the end when we realized that we only had a little over an hour left and decided to try to squeeze in two more laps.

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We did those two laps and ended up completing 31.5 miles in 5:46, tying for 3rd place overall women! In spite of a certain amount of suffering, I really did enjoy our time together during the race. It was fun to do a new type of race, it was fun to do it in super crazy conditions, and it was fun to do it with a friend by my side. :) I definitely plan to do this race again next year and hopefully beat my distance!