Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds." ~ Wayne Dyer

I made that up, the title :) A mix of 'visualization' and 'reality'. It's time to turn how you visualize the future into a reality. Putting your thoughts and words into action. Make your "someday" today. Why not? Nothing is for certain, and we definitely aren't guaranteed the future, but that doesn't mean we can't plan for it.

A new year is upon us and I find it endlessly amusing to look back on the last 360-some odd days and reflect on where I've been, where I am and, as a result of these places, where I'm going. I don't know about you, but my 2008 has been the year of the 180...and a few firsts. Things that began as one thing, ended up something entirely different, the complete opposite. I went from relative life balance, to tipping over, to finally feeling that I'd struck a new balance. From renting, to owning. From sheltered to adventurous. From a clean slate, to getting my first tattoo. Watched my first sister get married. I skipped the fish and the gerbils and adopted a cat (I figured it was time since I was able to keep a plant alive for two years, and counting). Discovered my most favorite dude in the world, Mike. Learned how to trash run. Fell in love with Atayne. My biggest flip, though, was when I went from a 5k road runner to a PR glutton to a trail ultra runner. Holy crap, talk about a 180! I truly believed that I wasn't cut out for running long distances, especially after I earned a nice pair of chronic shin splints during winter half marathon training back in February. The 5k was just dandy at that point. Then I lept way outside my comfort zone and joined a running group, only to start racking up the PR's (times and distances), and hit the trail a month later for the first time in my life. I'll never look back :)

At some of the most random times in your life you'll gain a whole new perspective on something, and it will be in such a way that you wonder how you ever saw it differently. Sometimes you have to be shown, other times all it takes is opening your eyes or allowing a moment to settle and swish around in your mind so you can catch all the different 'notes' and form a more 'full bodied' take on it. I feel like a glass of wine for some reason...!

I started this post as I was getting ready to leave work (c'mon, it was a slow afternoon!), thinking I'd crank one out in a couple minutes, to sort of vet out what I was thinking. Then I got pulled in for an impromptu yearly review. Would have been nice to know about it beforehand, but, like I say, whatev. My point being, I've now gained a whole new perspective on my status in life as it is. And, it makes me laugh a little. I was pleasantly surprised with my review and have no real qualms with it other than with something I won't delve into here, and it's a big something in the grand scheme of things. But, that's neither here nor there. I have a new perspective! For one, how I visualized where I stand is the complete opposite of what it really is; how I imagined things would go...well, that wasn't really up to par either. I had a pretty good idea of the level of certain internal discontent, but now it's concrete. Now, I know that action is all that's left. When push comes to shove...

So, I will be going into this new year with a fresh perspective on things and a better idea of what it is I need to do. I have goals, concrete it-will-totally-happen goals, and a plan of action, albeit slightly shaky but there's still more to work on. I don't really do "resolutions" but I set goals and benchmarks for myself. There are quite a few for 2009, and I've listed 5 in the sidebar, but my favorite is my 50-miler. I can't WAIT to hit the trail and kick some butt in McNaughton. I don't care if I am DFL (dead f*&$ing last), as long as I make that glorious cutoff I will be one happy camper. Then, you better watch out because once the pain wears off, I'll be talking 'hundreds! I already have my eye on Heartland 100, but that's just a dream right now...a visualization, if you will :)

Well it's been one heck of a year...how about some pic's to illustrate it a bit!

Mike and I at the Columbus Marathon Expo, for Atayne - October

With my niece, Ava, sisters Tilly and Roo, and my rockin' mom eating cake - August

Holms and I in Acadia National Park, right after getting our 'tats' :) - October

Chicago Beer Runners Pub Run '08!! - August

Lola, showing her stick toy who's boss - May

Post Chicago Fleet Feet Women's 10k race - July

I guess I don't have a ton of pic's from the earlier part of the year...probably because the second half of the year was a lot more fun :)

Paige, out.

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." ~ Anatole France

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Just Plain Ugly

I know that every runner has less-than-perfect runs and I can hardly complain. I so rarely have a run where I curse the act the entire time I'm out. I couldn't even tell you the last time I had a crappy run. I know why it happened, too. It's because I'm following a schedule now. The dreaded base building phase of training. I also couldn't even tell you the last time I did a base building phase...

My legs hate schedule. They much prefer to just act on a whim and head out when they feel like it (which, conveniently, is typically 3-4 times per week). Now that I am forcing them to hit the road or treadmill on a regulated schedule they are revolting against me. I'm learning that I can indeed get injured in the process. Fifteen years I went without so much as a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which I now realize was just due to my youth and bodies ability to bounce back. Well, that, and I also never used to push myself the way I do now. My legs scream, "Fifty miles?! You want us to run how far?! You are such a jerk!" It's all new territory with all new aches and pains and stresses, but dang if it isn't the most fun I've had in my adult life!

I went for my scheduled 3-mile run on Christmas Eve, out in the suburbs, in my mom's neighborhood. It's snowed for the last week or so, and has been freezing (literally, below 0 on most days) so there's a nice layer of ice beneath the 2 feet of snow. On this evening though, it had 'warmed' quite a bit so I was excited to get my run in outside for a change. I headed for the path along the Fox River, but after about 100 yards or so someone clearly got bored with shoveling and just stopped altogether. It was like single-track...in heavy, wet snow...which sucked. So I turned around and decided I'd take to the streets instead. I wove my way through the neighborhood, running through slush and thick snow in some areas to avoid cars, but it was otherwise really nice (and felt good on my knees). The wind, though, was wicked. It cut straight through my three layers and went right for the bone. It was a wicked chill and it hurt to breath at times because it was so piercing. My eyes watered the entire time! I got a little turned around since it was getting dark so quick and I didn't have my glasses on, so I ended up doing 3.5 miles instead. All in all, a good run I'd say.

Today, I would have preferred to have been smacked with a bag of bricks a few times than suffered through the run I had. I felt just fine going into it. Getting ready, I didn't really feel like going out for a run, but my schedule dictated that I get another 3-miler in. So, I suited up. The. Worst. Run. Ever. From the moment I took my first stride down Montrose, heading towards the path, to the moment I hit the 3-mile mark I begrudged the process. I never get like that. I always love my run, no matter what. But today was different. My shin muscles felt incredibly fatigued, not sore or painful, but really, really tired and worn out feeling.

I tried shaking it out, stretching, breathing differently, changing my stride a bit. Nothing worked. I was reduced to walking by the first mile. I glanced down at my GPS every 10 seconds to see how much longer I had. It was going soooooooooo sllllllloooooooowwwwwww. It felt like I was running in quicksand, literally. Kind of like one of those dreams where you're trying to run and you're moving your legs so fast but getting nowhere. It was so frustrating, but I kept reminding myself that it was just going to be a 'character-building run' to make myself feel better. That worked a little. At 1.5 I turned around to head home and I started bargaining. I'd run to a sign then walk for 5 seconds, run to a big tree then walk for a few strides, run hard for 10 seconds then walk for 10. It was brutal. I'm sure I was a sight for sore eyes! I wanted to crawl underneath the pavement and not come out, ever again. I was just shocked I was having such a horrible time trying to crank out 3 FREAKIN' MILES!

If only we could record the thoughts that roll through our minds during times like this, they would make for great fodder later on. My mind was working triple over-time, volleying between intense frustration towards the situation, gratefulness for even being able to walk, absolute disdain for the day, thrilled that I was so close to home, hating my legs, loving that I even attempted it all on such a fantastically disgusting day. Home sweet home.

I didn't beat myself up about it once I got home, though. I foam rolled and iced while catching up on some shows in my DVR, then took a nice nap :)

I suppose I'm glad I had a bad run, I think I needed it. Just a little reminder that it could certainly be a lot worse. Hopefully, things go a little better tomorrow!

Paige, out.

“Tough times are there so you can have a good time later on-- and really appreciate it!” ~Unknown

Saturday, December 13, 2008

50 Miles or Bust

It's been a busy racing year for me...wow! I signed in to check my calendar and noticed I've completed every race on it, and it's now time to retire 2008 to a sidebar as a reminder of all I've done this year, and time to post my 2009 calendar as I've already got a few races lined up :)

Last weekend I ventured out west, to San Francisco, to crew Mike through his first 50-miler, The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships. I haven't been out to California since 2002, so I was excited to get back, and to see my very favorite running partner in crime :)

The four hour flight got me there an hour early and I now had another four hours to kill while I waited for Mike's flight to land. My butt fell asleep sitting on the floor in the baggage claim area, but I was certainly entertained with all the people watching, managed to finish a copy of Runner's World I'd held off reading for a couple months, and made a serious dent in my latest book of choice, The Universe In A Single Atom by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Sidenote: I picked up this book after reading Mike Bouscaren's Ultrarunning: My Story (he suggested the book). It's very interesting and thought-provoking, but not recommended to anyone who doesn't enjoy the argument of science v. religion.

Once Mike arrived, we got a rental car and headed into the city to pick up his race packet at The North Face store and then get some food!

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Mmmmm, tastiest smoked salmon sandwich ever...La Boulange in the Washington Square Park 'hood

Once we found the hotel, in Mill Valley, Mike finished up some work and I laced up my road runners and headed out for a little run to get the legs ready for the next day. It was gorgeous! I had no idea where I was, so I strapped on my Garmin 305 so I could at least keep track. I ran down Redwood Highway (interior) and turned on a hilly side street that lead towards the mountains. This street dropped me directly onto one of my favorite surfaces...single-track, woohoo! I followed the make-shift dirt path as it wound through some marshy areas and then into a small peninsula area in the middle of a sort of inter-coastal waterway. Mt. Tamalpais loomed in the distance. There was a dog park in the center and a crushed gravel path that went around it. I took this until I reached about 2 miles and saw more single-track coming up that led onto the peninsula (also a national scenic wildlife reserve) and took this until it hit a dead end at the water's edge, then turned around and headed back to the hotel. The sun was setting and you could see it reflecting in the still water, and as it disappeared behind the mountains the colors changed quickly before it got dark. The run turned into just under 4 miles. Excellent. It felt good, especially considering I hadn't run in seven days while I rested my shins.

Dinner at this awesome Italian restaurant just north of where we were staying, and then we relaxed in the room and watched The Distance of Truth to get all psyched for the next day. Great documentary about the 2005/06 running of Badwater 135. We woke at 2:45 a.m. (!) and started making motions to head out. I'm glad we had organized everything the night before, and I went over directions for crew, pacing, etc. We had to meet at Rodeo Beach where we'd take a shuttle bus to the start/finish area. Once the runners started, the shuttles would take crew members back to the Beach to get our cars.

Start/Finish area

The 50-milers waiting for the 5 a.m. start

Pre-race shot, standing around the heat lamps...it was FREEZING!

Thankfully, a really nice North Face staffer gave me aid station directions...I had no idea where I was going and definitely would have gotten lost without them. Once the runners were off, the next stop for crew was Tennessee Valley/mile 8ish. I got there early enough to squeeze in a half hour nap, and then got Mike's water bottles ready. I ran to an outhouse quickly as I assumed I had another half hour until Mikes projected arrival at the station, but as I was coming out I saw him running up...a half hour early! Quick swap of water bottles and handing me his headlamp, he was off again, an now it was time for me to make the long drive up to Pan Toll/mile 18 and 31. Emphasis on LONG. And winding, and steep, and scary at times. But, I made it :)
Pan Toll/mile 18...Runners would come through here again after Stinson Beach. I saw Nikki Kimball (at the table) and couldn't resist taking a pic. I was surrounded by ultrarunning greats!

Mike was looking good at the first go round of Pan Toll and though Stinson Beach AS was in 2.5ish miles, we decided I'd meet him there, too, as the biggest, nastiest climb was going to be after that and he'd need some refills for it. Stinson was really pretty and I had to drive along the ridge line of Mt. Tamalpais, which afforded some great shots from high up...
Stinson Beach is down below

The site of all this craziness and excitement

After Stinson, it was back to Pan Toll for me to meet Mike at the 50k mark and begin pacing him from there if need be. The elevation in this race was unbelievable, I think it was 10,000 feet of gain and loss. That's a lot, especially for this flat-lander! The wait at Pan Toll the second time around was awhile since the climbing to get back up there (for the runners) was the worst of the whole race. I changed into my running clothes, got the water bottles ready, purchased a parking pass since I'd be leaving the car here for a number of hours, met a really cool gal from the area who was crewing for her husband (also his first 50-miler). We talked about trail running (my favorite) v. road running (her favorite) and I'm pretty sure I was able to convince her to give a trail marathon a shot! This helped pass the time and I should have gotten her name as every time we came into a station once I started pacing she was there cheering loudly for us, which was pretty cool since neither of us knew anyone there. Lots of big names were in this race/crewing for others: Krupicka, Jen Shelton, Kimball, Meltzer, Skaggs. I was putting stuff in the trunk of the car when I looked up and coming right towards me was Karl Meltzer (I didn't realize he was running it). I actually had to move out of the way for him to pass. Cool, don't see that everyday.
I walked back up to the Matt Davis Trail and waited for Mike so I could snap a pic of him coming in...

Woohoo, 50k, done and done!

Mike wanted me to jump in and I was more than happy to...nothing like a nice 19 mile run in the woods/mountains of northern Cali on a lovely Saturday morning :) Swapped the water bottles, got Mike some Advil and food, and then we headed out of Pan Toll. Everyone coming back into Pan Toll looked like they wanted to quit right there and a lot of people actually looked really pissed. The climbs were apparently that bad. I wasn't going to see the worst of it, but it was going to be difficult enough, for sure.

I felt great, obviously, because I had the fresh legs and was in a fabulous mood. It had warmed up some by now and a lot of the course was exposed once up top. The sun felt really great on our backs after we'd come out of the chillier tree line. The trail was a lot more technical than I anticipated, but I was ready for it and managed to negotiate it pretty well. Aside from two nasty ankle rolls (one on each side), I managed to stay upright the entire time...quite a feat for me! The climbs we unrelenting at times, but not that bad to me since I was fresh. At the back half of a long race though, the climbs were torturous for the racers. I was having so much fun pacing and really enjoyed the views. Mike was doing really well (he may not say the same, but he was) and we alternated speed-walking the climbs and running everything else we could. Aid stations were great and the volunteers were awesome, but I could swear nobody could get the mileage right. I know my Garmin isn't the most accurate in woods, but it comes close enough. Next year, they should have signs posted at the stations with mileage covered and mileage remaining. It was unnerving to glace at my GPS and see we had 5 miles to go, but the AS volunteers told us 6.8. Yikes, that's a bit of a difference!

I'm not sure which station we were at, but a really nice older guy joined us and we chatted with him while we made the 700' climb up to another ridge (this climb felt like an eternity, and was steep enough and late enough in the race that running it was out of the question). Once we made it up and began running on a nice crushed gravel trail around the mountain, I suddenly felt a very sharp pain in my left shin. It felt like someone took a knife and cut it horizontally across the lower portion of my left shin. Oh my god, it hurt like hell! I couldn't even run on it. I was reduced to walking the flatest portion of the whole dang 19 miles I was covering. I told Mike not to hold back, it's his race not mine. I'd be fine, I just needed to find a gait I could manage. I played around with lots of different running/walking angles and paces, and found that leaning to the right took a lot of pressure off it and was fine on and off. Eventually, I realized that when my leg went back after footstrike I felt the worst of the pain. I then fixed my positioning so that my legs stayed in front of or directly below me. Not an ideal running gait, but at least it allowed me to run pain free now. I lost a couple miles working on this, but I was still moving and Mike was holding up well.

One more (unexpected) aid station, where we were told 2.8 more miles, uggggh, seriously! It was all going to be downhill from that point though. Music to our ears. The sun was starting to go down, so we knew we were nearing the 5:00 p.m./12 hour cutoff Mike needed to make to qualify for the Vermont 100. The trail was leading us back down to the roads below and we worked out a really good run/walk routine. We were trucking along and I was really impressed with Mike's persistance and how well he cranked out those last couple of miles. I kept glancing at our time and the clock knowing we needed to break 10 minute miles for the last two miles. Speed walk to a flag, then run to the next. Then there was a slight incline on a road that we knew held the finish line. It was curvy and we could hear the sounds of the finish line; Mike asked me to run ahead and tell him what was around the curve. A tease, it was more road!! Finally, the finish was in sight and I yelled back to Mike. He sped up while I pulled back so he could finish ahead. He was going to make his cutoff!! Crossed the line in 11:54, six minutes to spare. Hello, Vermont :)

It was cold now! Since we couldn't carry anything, and didn't have a dropbag we only had the clothes we had on and our water bottles, and our car was 30 miles away, at Pan Toll. Now it was time to figure out how the hell we were getting back up there! We looked like a roll of aluminum foil threw up on us...we each had on two space blankets to keep warm and were huddled at a table while Mike ate some chili and I stressed about the car. Oy, we should have planned better for that. I began asking around to see if anyone was heading towards Pan Toll, and I thankfully met Ernesto who was happy to give us a ride. We just needed to wait for his friend, Chuck Wilson, to finish. We huddled around a heat lamp with some other runners and talked it up with Joel and his wife, from Seattle. Great people. Another reminder of how wonderful the ultrarunning community is.

The drive back up to Pan Toll was a flashback for me and I'm soooo glad I had thought to put the driving directions in the pouch of my water bottle. Otherwise, we'd have been SOL. We had the heat blasting, and Ernesto told us all about the different races he's done and about living in NoCal. What a stellar guy, he's done a lot and is one of the nicest people I've met lately. Very kind and obviously gracious for going so much out of his way to get two perfect strangers back to their car. Thank you, Ernesto!!!!
Happy to be DONE!
We were exhausted! Back at the hotel, we ordered pizza, iced our limbs and Mike passed out hard while I inhaled the cinnastix. The sugar tasted so good! We slept in a bit on Sunday, grabbed breakfast up the road, at the Dipsea Cafe (absolutely delicious!), then packed up and headed into the city to find a good place for coffee and hanging out. We found Lombard St. and I drove down it. Waaaaaaay too steep for my tastes and I was freaking out! At the bottom, though, the view was fantastic :) We ended up at Coffee Adventures on Columbus where we lounged on the couch and read the paper, then we wandered up towards Fisherman's Wharf. I had to hop on a trolley though and be touristy...

San Francisco is a great city, and I love the easy access to fabulous running trails :) I had a flight to catch though, so we headed to the airport where Mike dropped me off and he then headed to L.A. for work.

I had a fabulous weekend, tiring and short, but worth it. It's just what I needed and now I'm really pumped for my 50-miler in April, at McNaughton. We learned a lot from this race and we'll go into the next one much more prepared, and comfortable :) This was a great way to wrap up the year and our racing calendars. Now it's time to rest, but not for long...my 50-miler training starts on Monday, and Mike's got another in March (Bel Monte Endurance Run 50) to get ready for!

Paige, out.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Wow. It's just plain ridiculous outside. Cold, wet, windy. Perfect weather for a run to remind myself "it could be worse."

My plan was to get up early and go for a run in the early dawn hours because it looks so cool along the lakefront, but that didn't pan out so well. I instead decided to "sleep in" today and ease into my run. After half a pot of coffee, some lounging on the couch with a chick flick on the tv, and playing with Lola for a bit, I finally decided it was time for a run. It was about 10:30 when I turned on my laptop to check the temp outside: 39 degrees. Perfect. Getting dressed and deciding to nix my prior goal of 3 miles, I decided to go for 5 today. Why not. I was all set to go and checked the temp one more time at 11:00: 37 degrees...it's dropped and now there's snow in the forecast. Okay, put on a hat instead of my ear warmers.

Heading downstairs to my lobby, I set my Garmin in a window to link up (which took forever today for some reason) and stretched. It looked awful outside and the ground was already wet. Oh well, still want to shake the limbs out! For a split second I entertained the idea of going back upstairs to my warm condo and getting a head start on my laziness for the day, but the thought exited as quickly as I entered, almost as if it was never even there. The crappier the weather, the more enticing a run is...just to see how I fare.

It was drizzly when I stepped out, but nothing to call home about. As soon as I hopped onto the lakefront path, the drizzle was joined by a brisk wind coming off the lake. Okay, not my fave, but I can deal. I decided to go with my regular iPod today so I could listen to my latest additions to my music library and I had it tucked nicely in the chest pocket of my jacket. Ah, bliss :) The further south I got on the path, the less drizzle there was. However, it was replaced with an all out blizzard blowing in from the east (off the water) and pummeling the left side of my face. As I neared Diversey, crossed the bridge and turned around at my 2.5 mile mark, the snow was now hitting the right side of my face, which I still had feeling in. This was painful. At least, heading out, the left side of my face was numb from the wet chill so the snow didn't hurt, but now I could really feel it! It was like millions of pins hitting my face. I put my hand up to block it for a bit.

The snow was really pretty, even if it did feel like facial accupuncture most of the time. I didn't negotiate most of the puddles, so my feet were now pretty wet (good thing my feet were numb too, so I couldn't feel the chill!). I was completely soaked by the time I reached Belmont on my way back, but I felt great. A much, much older man heading out on the opposite side of the path smiled really big at me and waved with both hands, I responded in kind. I love that. I laughed to myself and felt a surge of energy afterwards. So I capitalized on the surge and kicked it up a notch to squeeze in some 7:30's for the rest of the way. I felt really good, and my lungs were pretty happy, so why not put the legs to work a little more. The power of a smile from someone else is astonishing at times. At this time, it made me feel not so alone in my insanity for heading out in this weather.

Once I passed Addison, the snow felt more like rain and looked like sleet. At least the wind was slowed some. I made it home with a half tank and I'm sure I could have gone and done the route a second time, but I'd had enough of the wind and snow for one day. I couldn't even feel my face, and as I waited for the elevator I was trying to peel off my gloves...I couldn't feel my hands and I had to really concentrate to get them to move! But hey, it could be worse.

Overall, a great run. A much needed recharge after the holiday weekend. I did get in a nice 4-miler on Thanksgiving morning while my casserole was cooking at my mom's house, but it was about 50 degrees and the sun was out with barely any breeze to speak of. Much too nice of weather, and no mud :)

Coming up, the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco...it'll be Mike's first 50-miler(!) and I'll be crewing and pacing him. It's going to be a great weekend, and so far the weather looks promising.

Paige, out.

"All it takes is all you got."--Marc Davis

Monday, November 24, 2008

M-y R-unning I-njury

Busy, busy, busy. I have some catching up to do...I'll split it in two for more bite-sized portions :)

After my BFT jaunt, I felt that old familiar pain in my right shin. For awhile, the pain was something that was always there (well, at least since March of this year), and when it began to dissipate late summer it almost felt strange to be pain free. I know, totally and completely ridiculous. However, when it made an encore appearance a few weeks back, that sinking feeling returned with it. What if I've really done it this time? I saw my PT, Laura, upon return from the BFT and when I told her what I had done she slammed her hand down on the table and shouted at me. Not even kidding! She was miffed. I guess I hadn't really thought much about the mileage I'd been putting in lately, but two 30-milers, three weeks apart, on my "training" was probably not the best decision I could have made. You live, you learn.

So, we decided I needed to get an MRI now that the pain in my shin was narrowed down to a very specific spot (usually a sure sign of a stress fracture...and that means a boot and 6-8 weeks of no running whatsoever, aka hell). I first had to see my doc to get a prescrip for the MRI. He wasn't exactly thrilled with my achievements of late, but he also assured me he was almost positive I didn't have a fracture because I was still walking without any pain, and when I did feel the pain in my shin it was only when I was sitting still. I like to rest easy at night, and I like to get down to the bottom of things without a lot of fuss, so I said I'd prefer to go ahead with the MRI and find out now.

I love coming up with different meanings for acronyms...like BFT, MRI, DNF, etc. So coming up with ideas for MRI kept me relatively distracted. In case you didn't know, MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. I've never had one of these before, and didn't know what to expect. Basically, you go into a tube, on your back, for 45 minutes and listen to music while the machine vibrates and clicks around you. Thankfully, since it was my lower leg in question, my head didn't go into the tube, but I was in up to my ribs. I'm terribly claustrophobic and I had my hands clamped together so tightly that my rings were digging into my fingers and I had marks from my fingernails! I didn't realize this as I managed to doze off fairly easily. I was very much aware of how loud the machine was though and it felt as if the entire building were shaking. Oy, I hope I never have to get another one of these. I probably would have needed to be sedated if I had to go all the way in...the tunnel was verrrrrry narrow and I'm pretty sure I would have stopped breathing in it. Elevators still give me the heebie jeebies sometimes :)

An insider's look at my lower legs, from the backside...looks kinda funny!

Two days later, I'm in my doc's office and we're going over the results. No stress fractures! Not even a hint of one. So now I'm confused. What the hell is wrong with my shin then?! There is some fluid build-up in the exact spots I feel pain, on both sides, and it's very clear that my calves are tight. So other than a suggestion to get a few more deep tissue massage treatments, upping my caloric intake, continuing work on my mechanics and following a more conservative training plan, there's not much to do. I'm planning on pacing Mike the last 23 miles of his 50-miler in a couple weeks out in San Francisco, and then the following Saturday there's a Fat Ass 30-miler at McNaughton Park in Pekin. Doc said, "pick one, please just pick one." The temptation to do both is insane. Where does this come from? In a previous life, I would have intelligently weighed the pros and cons, and decided the best course of action. Now, I just sort of throw caution to the wind and do what I feel. You only live once!

In any event, I'll pick one. Most likely, I'll be sitting out the FA30. I will do everything I can to make sure Mike crosses the finish line under the 12-hour cutoff of his first 50-miler! I will carry him on my back if I have to! He'd do the same for me.

I took almost a full two weeks off from running, begrudgingly. I did the stair climber and bike at the gym, and continued with my usual strength-training. Not running absolutely sucks. Well, not running not by choice sucks. I have no problem not running when I've made the choice myself to skip a run, or take a rest week. But when the universe steps in and stops you it sucks. I get in a funk when that happens, and this year has been epic in that department. Obviously, it's high time I start taking a more serious approach to my training. Ultrarunning is no joke, it's no skip-in-the-park 10k where I can halfass my training and crank out a very decent time on race day. I've entered a world where the distance is serious and the resultant injury that can occur due to a lackadaisical training approach is equally as serious. So, to the drawing board!

I worked on a training plan today, based off of something I found on the Santa Clarita Runners' website. It's pretty cool. You enter in your event date and the distance, and it cranks out an Excel spreadsheet training plan you can download. I didn't totally agree with the one that I got, so I tweeked it and changed it from a 5-day running week to a 4-day week, and I changed the weekly mileage range to 20-48mpw. The original plan called for a max of over 60mpw on some weeks...to me, that's excessive. I think 30-50mpw is perfectly doable, at least in training for a 50-miler. Hopefully I can stick to the schedule! I'll change days around as needed, but I plan to cover the alotted weekly mileage one way or another. Of course, easier said than done :)

I'm sitting here with my shin wrapped tightly in an ice pack. It feels good.

Up next: another installment of Team Atayne...this time we invaded the Chicago chapter of Girls on the Run!

Paige, out.

"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

Friday, November 14, 2008


"The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured." ~Dean Gooderham Acheson

Welcome to God's Country! GC is also known as north central Pennsylvania for those who haven't ventured to this 'remote' part of the country. Remote in the sense that it doesn't have towering monoliths of glass and steel clogging the skyline, but rather towering mountains (or, hills?) stuffed with greenery and trees, even at this time of year. The ground is covered in a layer of golden leaves freshly fallen and the air smells funny. Of course, 'funny' means 'not polluted' to the city girl in me :) PA is the location, the goal: to hike the 42-mile Black Forest Trail (BFT...I have some choice ideas for what "BFT" stands for now!) in the Tiadaghton State Forest; the reason: because it's really freakin' hard and the group we were joining wanted to defeat the trail once and for all. An attempt was made earlier in the summer by Mike and some of the other guys, but extreme heat, serious elevation, and some other factors played into an incomplete. Honestly, I hadn't the foggiest idea what I was getting into, even more so than normal :) Mike made sure it sounded as awful as possible to prepare me, and thank goodness he did!

I flew into D.C. Thursday evening, where Mike picked me up with Jackson in tow. Jack almost jumped out of the car window in excitement when he realized there was going to be another human to pet and pamper him on the car ride home. So, Jack's got his front paws on the center console, leaning against Mike and we head back to Camp Atayne to squeeze in some sleep before our road trip up to PA...well, not before getting a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream on the way (hey, it was carbo-loading!).

Getting up early, we set to getting everything ready and put into the car. This included making LOTS of coffee. A stop at the REI to get some camp chairs and a few other small items for the trip, and we're off! An aside: I say that a lot in these blogs, "and we're off!" My mom asked me, "do you guys ever not have plans for grand adventures?" Sometimes...but I guess not really :) We kind of suck at sitting still. So, we're off! I have the (tiny) directions in my lap, and Mike's behind the wheel. Seriously, these were the smallest directions I have ever seen...I had to have the paper inches from my face to see them, hehehe.

Driving up to PA was gorgeous, it definitely beats out the grim scenery through Indiana or Ohio. Lots of small towns, and "Americana" as Mike put it. We even drove past the Little League Hall of Fame in Williamsport, PA. A lot of the drive, once in PA, was along the Susquehanna River...that was my favorite part, very picturesque. Around 4:00ish we make it to the campground with just enough time to set up the tent in daylight.

As soon as we arrive, Tonya and RamblinRev greet us. What a character, that Rev! PARidgerunner, Cowanesque, Spikehiker, Blackjackhiker and Trail Goat are also joining us. Six of us were going to attempt the 42-mile BFT: Tonya, Mike, PAR, Cowan, Trail Goat, and myself. We all sat around the campfire and talked shop, ate some chili, roasted marshmallows, and then PAR commenced with the briefing. Wow, talk about some serious organization. The maps and trail description were in color, and they made sense! After the brief, I felt much better about the whole thing. Cowan was going to be our sweeper on the trail...the sweeper follows behind the last hiker/runner until the end...I was very grateful for this, knowing that I wouldn't be alone at any point if the others shot ahead.

At some point, I walked back to the car to get everything organized for the morning so that I wouldn't have to deal with it at 5a.m. in the rain. It was a bit of a walk from the site to the car and I'd be lying if I said I was totally excited to make that walk alone, twice. It was pitch black out, but I had my headlamp. My creative imagination came out of hiding and put all sorts of ideas in my head...a serial killer was lurking in the bushes, a bear was waiting to pounce, rabid wolves, zombies, the kids from the movie "Children of the Corn", snakes, Mike Meyers from the "Halloween" series was stalking me, etc. I made it to the car, though, unscathed, and got to prepping my drop bag with a change of clothes and getting my clothes together for the start of the madness. Mike's car has an alarm that actually works, and silly me locked it with the key fob from the inside of the car, so every time I moved the car alarm went off. I didn't know I was supposed to lock the car from the door locks. Woops! I think the alarm went off every 10 seconds for the 10 or so minutes I was in the car. The guys loooooved that one. The way I look at it, I scared off any predators lurking outside waiting to have me for dinner :) When I got back, Mike went to the car and got all his stuff ready, and packed a massive amount of food in our dropbags...even made peanut butter wraps, my favorite.

Around 9:30, we all decide to hit the hay. Rev is using one of those tent hammocks, and the rest of us are in tents. It was cold, but I somehow managed to sleep really well. Around 3:30a.m. the rain began. At 4:00 Mike got up to go get the coffee ready and warm the car. I slept a few more minutes, then worked up the guts to walk to the outhouse a couple hundred yards away, in the dark...alone. I'm pretty sure a bear was following me, or at least Freddy Cougar. After I changed in the tent, I walked towards the car, passing Tonya who says we're going to wait out the rain a bit, and leave at 6:00 instead. Sweet mother of love, thank you! So, Mike and I sat in his car and ate some breakfast, made some more coffee (the first batch boiled over, oops!), and listened to Bob Dylan to kill some time. Trail Goat was asleep in his car and would be joining us later on, he got in really late that night. The rain kept going, and going, and going... At one point I suggested Mike start his car and let the engine run for a few minutes since we had the lights and radio on for awhile. But noooooo, we'd be fine :) Mike played around with his gear and did his best 'creepy dude in the woods' look...

Now that's pretty creepy!

I think it was 6:15a.m. when we all squeezed into Tonya's SUV and drove to the trail head. Yes, it was still raining. Tonya, Mike, Cowan, PAR and I hopped out, adjusted poncho's and headlamps, took some pic's (hey, PAR, where are those pics?) and then took to the trail. It was dark, cold and wet and would stay this way for another 30 minutes or so. The first climb was a beast, but well worth the view we had. By now we were able to ditch the headlamps/flashlights, and the poncho's, but it was still drizzly and the ground was very well saturated.

Top of the first of three big climbs...

I already look completely exhausted, and this was barely four miles in, oy!

Super troopers...

PAR...he was kicking all our butts with those hikin' legs of his (or as Mike put it, he's like the murderer in the movies, no matter how fast you're running, he is walking and he always catches you)...

The first aid station (AS) was around 4.5 miles and Rev met us there with water and our drop bags. It was so wet out that there was really no point in changing shoes and socks as they'd be soaked within minutes. Fill'er up and we're off. PAR was a few minutes ahead of us, and Steve was hanging with Tonya behind us a ways. We had a nice straightaway after leaving Rev, so we were able to kick it up and run this portion until the trail spit us back into the woods. We had another big climb between AS 1 and AS 2, but that wasn't the worst of it. Between AS 2 and AS 3 was Naval Run and I would soon meet the Naval and curse it. The last portion before AS 2 was along a stream (or 'crick' as the others liked to call it, hilarious!). Mike hopped across the stream very well, then slipped on something along a log...first one to fall buys the first round of beers!! Woohoo, I couldn't believe he beat me to it :) Blackjackhiker and Spikehiker met us at AS 2, at the base of Naval Run, and refilled our water bottles, convinced me to leave my pack and poncho as it stopped raining and the climb was already hard enough without added weight. As we were about to leave, we spotted Cowan coming down the trail...alone. Tonya called it quits at AS1 due to being sick and for safety reasons.

Naval Run is the devil, the devil I tell you and my stomach gets all churny even thinking about it! We had 1,000 feet of elevation to climb in .70 miles (yes, less than a mile!). You can't really imagine that kind of climb until you do it, especially when you're from flat-as-a-pancake Chicago. My lungs and quads were on FIRE. I was tripping and stumbling, but keeping my balance miraculously (I guess PT has paid off!). Just when you think you've made it, think again! more climbing. Talk about unrelenting. Whoever blazed this trail was sick and twisted. Those were the slowest miles the entire day, due to the climb and unrunable terrain. Mike and I stopped and made our own AS 2.5, relishing some GU and Clif bars as if they were steak and potatoes. By now, Steve caught up to us. Once we got to the top of Naval Run, Mike took off and made a run for it. No worries, we had discussed this at length prior to this and I knew he'd take off to make up some time. I had Cowan to keep me company now.

Cowan's a great trail mate and was made sure I knew not to feel like I had to push the pace because he was there, that we'd get there when we get there. I had to stop many times to catch my breath and adjust my hat and neck gaiter, but we also got to run a lot of the last portion of this stretch. We talked about Lasik surgery, foot care, strength training, our jobs, Cowan's 100-milers, nutrition while running, and how much this stretch sucked (well, that was more me complaining aloud). I took an almost spill while running along a stream, but caught myself with my water bottles and was up in a flash...butt didn't touch the ground, so it wasn't a complete 'fall' :)

I could see the trail opening up ahead and Cowan announced we were getting really close, so we kept running. Once on the access road, we got a tad turned around and followed a red blaze accidentally, but figured it out pretty quickly. Cowan stopped for a moment, but I kept going and knowing we were almost there! I was cold, and my feet were still soaked, but I felt great and I ran all the way into AS 3 to find Mike, Rev and PAR. Food! Warmth! Food! Mike was surprised to see me run in, he said he thought that last climb would be it for me (and I'm surprised it wasn't!). Everyone was really cold and I hadn't anticipated this kind of chill so I didn't have another long-sleeve shirt to change into. Luckily, Rev had a super-warm fleece that he let me throw on for the next stretch. There was talk of ending it at this point, 19 miles, but once everyone had dry clothing on, energy was renewed! From AS 3-AS 4 it was going to be the most runable, so Mike and I took off behind PAR. This was the best part! We had 10.39 miles until AS 4. The terrain was slightly rolling, but good for running. The fallen leaves covered a lot of rocks and roots on the trail, but we managed very well. Mike stuck with me for this part, and eventually Cowan caught us so we had some lively conversation. It took a bit, but we finally caught up to PAR as well and the four of us stuck together for awhile before Mike and I finally kicked it up again and took off. The downhills became my friend on this trip. My new shoes were doing really well, and I was very happy I decided to stick with my knee-high wool ski socks for this adventure. They created an extra layer under my running tights to keep me warm, and to guard my legs against the brush and sharp shrubbery. And, I was still blister free.

Finally, we get to the section where there were going to be, "20 crick crossings, no joke." hehehe They were right! It was back and forth, back and forth crossing the same stream over and over again for a long while. During a respite from the water (which we were easily able to rockhop across without getting wet...except for one slip where my left foot got wetter), we were gliding along a ridge at a good clip when my foot caught on something covered by the leaves. I landed like a ton of bricks on my right side. My knee slammed into the ground. I was so shocked I started laughing so hard I had tears. It hurt really, really bad, but it was also pretty funny. So there you go, I fell in an ultra, again :)

I decided that while I was really enjoying myself, I knew that going beyond AS 4 was going to put us in darkness and a really long night, so AS 4 was going to be my stopping point. I'll have gotten in just about 30 miles by then, and I was going to be very happy with that. So, I enjoyed this last stretch immensely. It was really pretty, and the sound of the stream was relaxing. We passed a group of people camping along the ridge, with a fire blazing. Mike passed first and said hello, they all responded but didn't realize until I passed and said hello that we were running. I could hear them say, "holy s@$%! Those people are running!" Love it. AS 4 came at the best time. I was spent, but felt great all things considered. Mike decided this was going to be it for him, too. We could have gone on, but we just didn't feel like it, as he put it. So true! 29.5 miles was just peachy for us on this day.

Finish line gloriousness...looks like a turban on my head, hehehe
Rev announced that Trail Goat had come through 5 minutes before us...speedster! We couldn't believe we were that close to him. TG had started an hour and a half after the rest of us, and then continued to pass us towards the end of Naval Run, he was trucking it (not to mention, he had a 20lb. pack on, too!). TG went on to AS 5 and called it a day there (at 35 miles). Mike and I waited for Cowan and PAR to get in and we all hung around for a bit. Cowan and PAR decided they wanted to try and finish it so we wished them well, then got into the warm car!! Spike and Blackjack drove us back to the campground where we were going to change and then head over to the Manor Hotel to eat and wait for the others to show up. We got in the car, only to find that the battery was completely dead... :) hmmmm While considering changing then just walking the mile or so up to the Manor, a truck pulled into the otherwise deserted lot and Mike asked for a jump. Thank goodness!!! What lifesavers.

Happily nestled inside the Manor, we proceeded to order the following, and ate it all: huge bowl of clam chowder, endless coffee, salad, steak, mashed potatoes, mozzarella sticks, and wine. Divine. Trail Goat showed up soon after us and ordered a sampling of the entire appetizer menu, with beer and coffee. We were all a sight for sore eyes! TG made it to AS 5 as planned, then came straight to the Manor. Eventually the others started trickling in. Mike ordered that round of beer as promised. After a few hours eating, Mike and I headed back to camp and then decided to just pack up and start driving back to D.C. So, we stopped at the Manor to say goodbye, and just then Cowan and PAR arrived. They finished!!! And I think it was an hour ahead of when they planned to be done. Nicely done, guys! We said our goodbyes, and then hit the road. It was late, we were in a food coma, and totally spent. A stop in a teeny town for some Dunkin' Donuts held us over for a little bit, but as soon as we spotted the Holiday Inn Express along the highway, we were sold! That is the best hotel-bed sleep I have ever had, hands down. Slept like a baby. After some continental breakfast we finally set out around 9a.m. on Sunday.

Wow, what a trip! It was a lot of fun, incredibly challenging, tiring, cold, wet beyond description, and totally exhilarating. It took us 9h:40m to complete what Mike and I did. It was tough. As soon as I get over Naval Run ticking me off, I'll be ready to try it again, and finish the whole thing. I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for an all out butt-kicking and really good time.

I made it out with zero blisters (miraculous!), and barely any aches (doubly miraculous). However, my shin has come back to haunt me. I'll be getting that checked out next week. Meantime, I'm still basking in the glory of a fantastic day in the woods with some truly remarkable people.

Paige, out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Waiving My Sanity

"The body is given out on loan - don't waste it and expect to use it tomorrow."- Shapiro


I may die.

Agree to waiver by checking here. By agreeing to this waiver you submit to the terms and conditions as set forth by this event and certify that you have provided true and accurate information as requested through this registration process.

That's the waiver I had to agree to when signing up for the 2009 McNaughton Park Trail Runs 50 Miler. It's official, I've signed up for my first 50 miler!! Come April 11, 2009, I will make a go of it. I can't wait!

My right shin and knee have a twitching phantom pain in anticipation of it. Oy vey!

I now have four months to get my rear in gear. I can do it, now that I have an end-goal...and it's paid for. That seals the deal, when it's paid for. I will crawl that course if I have to, but dangit, I'm going to finish it!
ION: I got my new trail runners in the mail this week...the neon green Brooks Cascadias 3. They rock my socks off! It feels like I'm wearing a cushy sock, they are so light and comfortable. I ran six last night with Beer Runners to sort of break them in. I could run faster and jump higher in them! No, but seriously, they are fantastic. They felt great even on the pavement, so I can't wait to take them for a run on some single-track this weekend.

They are nestled safely in my suitcase, anxiously awaiting the Black Forest Trail in PA. Happy feet!!

Paige, out.

"No matter what hurts at the beginning, by the end of the race something else will hurt worse."- Bob O'Connor

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Signed Sealed (almost) Delivered

Entry form...Check. Signed check....Check. Stamp...dangit! Have to get a stamp. But otherwise, my entry form for the 2009 Holiday Lake 50k++ is all set to go snail mail!

Holiday Lake is technically a 50k race, but since it's a Horton classic, it'll have a few extra miles added onto it (hence, the "++"). Dr. David Horton's a bit of a legacy in the ultra running world. Mike got to experience him some when he volunteered at Mountain Masochist last weekend, in Virginia. How cool. The '09 HL50 falls on Valentine's Day, so Mike's running it too (he even said he'd run with me, what a gent!). In my mind, there is no better way to spend Valentine's Day than getting beat up by a trail with lots of mud, a few F-bombs, stubbed toes, and then a shiney new finisher's award at the end. Romantic, indeed :) Hopefully there will be chocolate chip cookies at the finish line.

In other news:

Stairs are the devil incarnate. I've decided I need to incorporate more 'climbing' into my training, and what better way than with stairs (well, hills would be better, but in Chicago that's not gonna happen). My condo building has 29 floors, so I strapped on my HR monitor and Garmin so I could keep track of the ol' ticker while I climbed the stairs up and down four times (30 minutes). In order to keep my HR in the range of 60-85% of my max HR, I had to walk the majority up...I have a lot of training to do before I can run up stairs the whole time! Oy vey. I was tired after that one. I'm going to do that once per week. Hopefully that's enough :)

Sunday I decided to take my long run into the suburbs and hit a trail. I woke up at 6:30a.m. and drove out to Darien to run the Waterfall Glen trail. It's a 9.45 mile loop, but I keep going back around until it's a full 10 miles. The trail is lovely. It's crushed gravel the whole way, which is great, until it gets into your shoes and starts bouncing around in your socks. The scenary is beautiful, and on this day I only saw a few other runners. Most everyone else on the trail was biking. So, I spent the majority of the time alone, with my iPod. It was a beautiful day out, sunny in the low 60's. It's mostly shaded, but there are a couple sections that run through a wide-open prairie-like area. The leaves have all changed and a lot of the trail was covered in a layer of pine straw and fallen leaves (which lent to that awesome fall smell I love).

The trail rolls a bit in sections, but it's otherwise flat. I didn't push it all that hard, I just wanted to enjoy the run. I averaged 9:00's, finishing up in about 1h:30m. A nice little jaunt in the 'burbs. My body felt great, and I didn't have any issues with my ham's or shin's, which is great! However, I did get a couple blisters on my right foot, just above where I'm healing from a nasty blister from my 50k a couple weeks back. That's so annoying. Why am I getting these blisters all of the sudden now? So small, but so irritating.

Monday night, I finally made it back to Beer Runners (it's been a couple weeks since I've run with the group) and made a go at the 3-mile loop we usually do, rather than the five. It turned into a really fast tempo run, much faster than I normally would go, and it felt amazing. I finished up in 21 minutes...fastest 3-mile time ever by the way :) Moving at a good clip from the start, it was hard, and I did pull back a couple times, but overall I felt really good and knew that I could push it. I was out of breath when I got back to the bar! Rene and Ryan were up there with me the whole time, and then in the last three blocks they shot ahead and I was putting in everything I had already so I let them fly by. Those guys are fast! It's nice to get new members who can really push the pace though, it keeps the competitive juices flowing and gets my rear in gear.
So tonight I'm hoping to crank out six miles when I get home. It'll be dark though, which I hate doing. Or, I'll hold off and do that tomorrow night with Beer Runners...that's what I should do. I have a lot of stuff to work on tonight, so we'll see. Either way, I'll get the miles in in the next two days!

This Thursday after work I'm flying out to D.C., and from there Mike and I are road-tripping up to Slate Run, Pennsylvania to make a go at the 42-mile Black Forest Trail! Mike's goal is to finish it in 24 hours...running as much of it as possible. Hopefully I can keep up with him :) We'll have a pretty big group of other backpackers with us, so I'm sure I won't be on my own that much, if at all. I'm looking forward to it. I'll have an update on that next week, with pictures of course!

Paige, out.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ” Margaret Mead

Team Atayne - Frank Lloyd Wright Races Trash Runners '08
Claire, Adrian, Mike H., Jason, Katherine, Mike M., Me, Christina

It's not like we're reinventing the wheel here folks. But, it is nearly as exciting :)

Team Atayne took on another trash running adventure and headed to the little suburb of Oak Park, which shares the western border of Chicago. The draw? The 32nd Annual Frank Lloyd Wright Races, of course! I've been an FLW participant since I was about yay high, and I have never forgotten how I whined and complained when my mom came home and announced she had signed me and the rest of my siblings up for the 1-mile fun run (I was about 8 years old). Fun run? Sick joke. Of course that was back in the day when we ran the mile run in gym class once per year, and I usually showed up to gym class in Keds and dress (I had a phase...I would only where dresses throughout most of elementary school). So, running wasn't quite my forte.

Anyhow, ever since, I've always participated in the FLW Races (1 mile, 5k, 10k), last year's Races being my first go at the 10k distance...my how far I've come in one year! So, when I saw the Races posted I talked to Jeremy and Mike at Atayne to see what they thought about making it a Team Atayne event.

After lots of phone calls and e-mails, and a little bit of paperwork, Atayne was officially a sponsor of the FLW Races, woohoo!

The Races have never been a 'green' race before, so this required a good bit of "consulting" on our part to help them move towards that this year. However, some things we couldn't change (i.e. getting recyclable paper cups for the aid stations, as opposed to the wax lined, non-recyclable cups they had already ordered), so it wasn't going to be 100% green, but it was a start.

I worked with the Races' awesome sponsorship coordinator, Joanna, to make sure we would have everything set for race day: recycling containers along the course and the start/finish area, making sure aid station crews kept trash and recycling separated throughout the day, having follower trucks at the back of the race to take on full bags of trash and recycling as needed, getting a tent/table for Atayne setup, coordinating garbage pick-up post race and making sure we had somewhere to put all the recycling when we were done...oh, and rallying enough volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly! Getting the volunteers was the hardest part, and the most stressful. In the end though, some really great members of Chicago Beer Runners stepped up and did a killer job. I am so grateful for their help, we couldn't have done it without them.

Trash Runners preparing to head out...

And they're off!

Mike flew in for the weekend (thank goodness!) and the original plan was to have him stay at the Atayne tent and sell shirts, but since my hamstring was still acting up we decided to have me stay at the tent and Mike would lead Team Atayne along the route. Then I found out I was also going to be presenting the overall winners (M & F) for the 5k and 10k, fun! So, once the runners headed out, Katherine and I hung back and sold some shirts, talked Atayne, and jumped around while holding hot cups of coffee in an effort to keep from freezing our rears off. It was a little chilly that morning :) We sold a handful of shirts, but the best part was the exposure Atayne got. The response we got from runners was incredible. While we didn't sell as much as we were hoping to, I think that the incredibly positive reactions and sincere interest, shown by everyone who stopped by the table, in who and what Atayne is was invaluable. Definitely made the day worthwhile. Oak Park is a very green community so I was certainly expecting the reaction we got.

A couple of the runners made it back fairly quickly, and were sitting at the tent when I returned from the 5k awards ceremony. They had gotten separated from the others somehow, so they ended sticking to the 5k route (rather than the planned 10k route). This turned out well because now the entire course was going to be cleaned!! We waited for awhile for the rest of the crew to show up...apparently they left so long after the 10k began that even the follower trucks were out of sight for them, and this meant two things: no clear idea of where the route was, and nowhere to put their full garbage and recycling bags! Thankfully, there were arrows on the ground indicating the route, and they made it just fine.

They're alive!! The rest of the Trash Runners finally show up...

In all, I think we ended up with 9 bags of recycling (cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes) and a ton of trash! I'm not sure how many bags of trash there were, but I saw the two garbage trucks pass by during breakdown and they were bursting at the seams with trash.

My rockstar volunteers with some of the recycling. What a handsome bunch :)

I wish I could have run with them, but it's better that I didn't push it. Trash running is so much fun! They all agreed that six miles is a long way when you're trash running. Mike said he couldn't believe we did it for 14.5 in Maine!

Afterwards, we all split up to go home, and Mike, Mike M., Christina and I got in my car to grab some breakfast before heading back into the city. On the way in, I decided to drive the 'scenic' route, as Mike had never seen the westside of Chicago...

The event went very well (better than I was expecting). There are a few things that could be tweaked and worked on for next year to make it even better, and a little smoother. But in all, it was a success, and the Race organizers were thrilled to have us there. We were the talk of the town!

Many many thanks to all the volunteers for giving up their Sunday morning for us, and for doing such a great job.

Paige, out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maximum Expo-sure

Ugggggghhhhh. Oh the boredom. Now I know what it feels like to be a non-runner...like there's a big black void in life. I can't imagine having that all the time.

Of course, I only kid, a little. But seriously, not running just sucks. I've got my foam roller on its side and I'm sitting on it as I type this. I have to feel connected somehow. My trusty foam roller does the trick. There is nothing I'd rather be doing right now than a nice little 10-miler. The weather is perfect for it: mid 40's, overcast, slight breeze. But I'm stuck inside because I'm still in "recovery" mode from last weekend's 50k whim in the woods.

Randy of Running Fit in Ann Arbor, MI put it best when he wrote that he doesn't like racing so much anymore because of the recovery time it requires in the aftermath. He loses out on good running because he's recovering from a race. Too bad I love racing so much.

I have an achy-in-a-way-that-makes-me-nervous left hamstring (behind and slightly above my knee), and a weird ache/pain on or around my right achilles. Not sure what it is, but I'm thinking I probably twisted or sprained my ankle a little during the 50k last weekend. Wouldn't shock me as I rolled both ankles a couple times, and the trail was banked to the right most of the time, hence the pain in my right ankle. I've never sprained or twisted anything that I'm aware of, so I'm not actually sure. I guess I'll find out at PT on Tuesday. Until then, I sit and twiddle my thumbs.

Of course I could write about Columbus. That was a fun trip :)

The Columbus Marathon was last weekend, and Mike and I roadtripped there to meet Jeremy at the expo and sell some Atayne shirts. My first experience on the other side of the vendor table at a race expo. Pretty cool.

Now, I consider myself pretty directionally abled, but for some reason this ability was turned off on our drive to Columbus. Mike and I decided to go for a quick 10-miler when I got home and wait out the weekend traffic. Great run, new route, loved it! So by the time we got on the road, it was after 9:00 already. Oy. We didn't take seriously signs along 90 saying that the exit towards 65 South was closed and to take a detour, and when we got into the friendly confines of Gary, Indiana, we were faced with the consequences of our actions.

Scariest/strangest gas station ever. The dude behind the counter was wearing cartoon flannel pj's and leopard print fuzzy slippers...the sugar at the coffee counter was clumpy, everything on the shelves were covered in a layer of dust, I spilled burning hot coffee on my hands, and then I immediately started deciding my plan of action once my wallet was stolen from me at gun point. Internally I was freaking out a little, but hopefully it didn't look that way. Mike got directions from the leopard fuzzy slippers guy (who was really quite nice), and I stood behind him as 3 large men entered the store and greeted the attendant.

Thankfully, the directions leopard fuzzy slippers gave us were spot on and we were on the highway in no time. Not before getting a scenic tour of Gary, Indiana first. Yikes. Nice little roadtrip, and we switched drivers around West Lafayette, and then our lives (and sense of direction) were in my hands. Mike was in and out of sleep the rest of the 6 or 7 hour drive, so it was easy for me to want to follow suit. I was almost to the point of holding my eyes open with my hands. I was tired, but thankfully my bladder is about the size of a dime, so we had to stop a lot and that allowed me to wake up a little each time. Around 5 a.m. we finally arrived in Grove City, Ohio and pulled into the motel Jeremy was already fast asleep in. I slept like a baby.

The guys got up early, while I slept in, and went to the expo to set up. I met them there around noon, and then Mike went back to the hotel to do some work and take a nap.

It was actually a lot of fun, considering it was almost 9 hours on our feet. I had a really good time talking to and meeting new people. We met an great guy, Darris, from the Clif Bar Pacer Team. He was awesome! Jeremy and Mike had a really good talk with him on a couple occasions, and while he didn't buy a shirt the first time, he came back later and bought two. Then one of his fellow pacers, Kathleen, who kept walking by our table throughout the day, eyeing it like candy, finally brokedown and bought a shirt. She put it on over her Clif Bar shirt and walked around in it the rest of the day, awesome! Clif Bar hearts Atayne.

People were honestly interested in the product and loved hearing all about it. It started out slow, but eventually picked up as people were rushing in to get their packets before close. Tons of vendors had "expo deals" and we were directly across the aisle from a running store advertising "50% off everything". But somehow we managed to sell a good deal of shirts, at full price. It was great. Shows you that people believe in Atayne and will pay the premium for a high quality product. The guys would have liked to sell more than we did, but we didn't do so bad especially when you consider the competition we had in the same room, and the pathetic state of the U.S. economy. I was really happy to be a part of it. We inspected every shirt before we handed it over to its new owner, and made sure they knew that if anyone had a problem with the size or color that we would exchange it, no problem.

It's inspiring to see a company like this in action, and to know that they really are looking out for the interests of its customers. It's not just about money, it's more about delivering a phenomenal product, and making sure the customer is 100% satisfied with it. Jeremy refused to push anything on anyone because why should someone buy something they don't need? It would go completely against the whole idea of reduce reuse recycle. Talk about staying true to yourself! So, we just talked about the product and answered questions as they came up. From there, the shirts pretty much sold themselves.

And so the day went. It was great. I even bought some Gu for our race the next day, and some fun bumper stickers before the expo closed down. Mike hopped across the aisle and picked up a pair of gloves for the race. Then it was time to close up shop. That's the least fun part about these things, but it actually went really smoothly and we were out of there in no time.
Who says event breakdown can't be fun?

Mike coasting his way out of the exhibit hall on the Atayne dolly...
Afterwards, the guys played with Jack...Camp Atayne on the road is just as entertaining as Camp Atayne at home...

Then we decided we were hungry, and chose the hottest spot in town for dinner...Waffle House!!!! As Mike said, "Only the best for my girlfriend and Atayne!"
To top off the weekend, we decided we should celebrate with a few cold ones. On the way back to the motel after dinner, Mike and I ran into a gas station to grab a trio of beer best left for the college students, but how could we resist?

Mmmmm, Busch Light, Natural Light and PBR. And don't forget, Mike and I had a 50k to run the next morning, now that's hardcore!

So much fun, you gotta love Camp Atayne!

Read on for all about the Stone Steps 50k...my first go at an ultramarathon!

Paige, out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where There's a Whim There's a Way

"Too much knowledge can hold you back. Ignorance on the other hand, now that was something that could get you to the finish line." ~ Mark Will-Weber

I used to be one of those runners that planned out every training run, to a T. I followed my plan exactly, and if I had an off day and couldn't crank out the miles I had planned I'd get really down on myself about it. It could get to the point that I'd lose sleep over missing a run one day, or not being able to finish an easier 5-miler. How frustrating, and completely ridiculous! A strict plan works for some (well, many) runners, but not for me. It drove me nuts and I'd actually had to take time off from running because I'd burn myself out so much.

My how time, maturity (just a little bit), a few good learning experiences, and a couple good people can change a person! I've thrown out the book and taken a more pragmatic approach to my "training". I know what works for me, I know what doesn't work, and what I should do (which tends to straddle what works and that which doesn't work for me, go figure). I know I need to get a long run in on the weekend, and I need at least a couple other somewhat substantial runs during the week. I also know that my body likes to shut down or injure if I push more than 4 days of running per week. So, that means getting a couple 5-10 milers in during the week, and then a really awesomely long run on Saturday or Sunday. (Oh, this is what my "plan" involves for 50k training.)

All was going according to the "plan" for the last few weeks, when I started feeling like there was a deep void. I started hating my plan! I wanted to just do something and stop planning for it. Yes, I know, this is probably a really not-smart way to approach ultra running, but we all work in different ways.

So, when I got home on Wednesday evening last week, and Mike, in town for the week, pipes in "Hey, there's a 50k in Cincinnati on Sunday and it's on the way back from Columbus, wanna run it?" I think I almost immediately said yes. I don't really recall thinking about it much at first. Then on Thursday at work I scanned the website for the Stone Steps 50k, kept it minimized in the toolbar for the vast majority of the day, and then returned to it again at the end of the day. I couldn't stop thinking about it! I wanted in. I e-mailed the RD to make sure we could register on race day, and from there it was a done deal in my mind.

Considering my longest run to date was the 14.5 miles we did in Maine cleaning up the course after the marathoners a couple weeks ago, and the only trails I've run were at Waterfall Glen and in Palatine, IL three months ago, I knew I wasn't technically prepared for it. But, keeping true to my ways, I didn't care and I just wanted to go for it. I wasn't prepared for my first half marathon, but I still ran it and did awesome. I wasn't prepared for my first 10k a year ago (almost to the day), but I did it anyway. I certainly wasn't all that prepared for the 14.5 in Maine, but I still did it. So, my thinking was, I can do it! Even if I couldn't run the entire 31 miles, I could still walk it and finish under the cutoff. Done!

So, rising at 4:30a.m. Sunday, Mike and I hoped into the car and, on our way back from working with Atayne at the Columbus Marathon Expo (more to come on this), we made a little detour and stopped off in Cincinnati's Mt. Airy Forest for a little Sunday morning jog through the forest on an 8++ mile figure eight loop course. And here's how it all panned out...

Mike and I at 8:00a.m., at the start/finish line (which also doubled as the single aid station)

It was COLD! I'm glad I managed to be so prepared and packed the running tights, gloves and hat! I think it was about 41 degrees, but felt more like 10. However, it turned out to be perfect running weather. We ran up to the gazebo, registered on the spot, got our race bags, and then headed back to the car to apply the Body Glide, prepare our "drop bag" and warm our limbs before the madness began.

And we're off! That's the field of runners...67 runners, turned into only 57 finishers...10 DNF's

The course had a 5++ mile loop that ran through the aid station, followed by a 3++ mile loop that returned to the same aid station. Rinse and repeat. The first 5 or so miles were great, I felt great, and I felt really optimistic. It was a little weird passing runners in the beginning because a) it was a single track trail with little room to pass without forcing the other runner into the brush; and, b) I felt like a 'typical' ultrarunning newbie, passing early, only to get passed up by those same folks who were more conservative in the beginning. Oh well, you run, you learn. We soon make it to the Stone Steps around 2.5 miles and I began to run up them, quickly realizing that I wasn't going to be maintaining my pace for long. So, I took to walking fast up the steps with Mike. Here are the Stone Steps...I'm only about 1/4 of the way up...

It was so hard to catch my breath after that first ascent of the steps. Lesson learned. We were going to be running those 200+ stairs three more times, so we had time to come up with a strategy before we came around to them again. Around mile 4 on this loop we came to a tupperware bin filled with gummy bears (the hill we had just climbed is called Gummy Bear Hill). I had never been so happy to see processed gummy sugar! That's all I needed to motivate me through the next 8 or so miles :)

The next loop sucked. I quickly decided that I hated the 3++ mile loop way more than the longer one. It had us running across and down a road, through some fields (one of which felt longer and crappier each time we crossed it), and the trail was much more technical (rooty and rocky), but still very runable. If I'm recalling correctly, it was mostly downhill on this portion and that's what really got to me. I'm a terrible downhill runner. I couldn't get my footing most of the time, so much of this portion was more speedwalking for me. Mike flew down the downhill sections like a pro. He glided over the techinical stuff like it was nothing, and I was so hesitant with every step. I was so worried I was going to just bite it. I lacked any confidence on these parts and couldn't just let go and let my legs do the running. So, I gingerly descended the hills, while Mike waited at the bottom for me each time. Best running partner ever.

I began to look forward to the uphills and the stairs, imagine that!

Water break!

The course was gorgeous, but it was hard to really take it all in because, even with my limited trail experience, I know that the moment your eyes leave the ground in front of you it could easily spell the end of your race. During our planned one minute walk breaks after each mile I made sure to look around a bit. The place is gorgeous! Deafeningly quiet, serene, a canopy of green overhead with rays of sunshine breaking through here and there providing some much appreciated warmth throughout the day. It was cold enough that we both ran with our gloves on the entire time and I kept the Buff around my neck all day. I probably would have been uncomfortably cold had it not been for my tights. They really held up well. I was comfortable the whole run.

At mile 12 we passed one of the stranger sights littering the trail here and there throughout the day. Just random hikers. It was a couple with three dogs of varying sizes, all were barking, and on the arm of the woman was a ginormous white bird, squawking! What the hell is going on?! It was hilarious! The dogs were going nuts because we probably appeared to come from out of thin air, and then the bird started squawking out of control because the dogs were so loud. It was all the poor couple could do to keep the dogs off of us, and keep the bird on the woman's arm! Oh the woods, what a magical place.

I was feeling great, all things considered. Then around mile 15 I felt hot spots on the balls of both my feet. I was planning on ignoring them until mile 17 when I stepped on a sharp rock that rocked my right foot to the side and burst the blister that had formed on that side! It sent a shooting pain up my leg to my knee and I sucked in air so hard I coughed. Ok, no worries, at least now that it's popped it'll go numb! However, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Mike was doing a really awesome job of distracting me with great conversation and positive reinforcement, and at mile 18 I needed it. For a brief moment, my legs just stopped working and my left foot caught on a root that it didn't clear and down I went! I landed flat on my frontside, somehow missing smacking my face on the trail. I was up just as quickly as I went down, but not before dropping the F-bomb very loudly and repeatedly. Mike had sprinted ahead (it was a downhill section) and immediately knew I had bit it. "Did you fall, Troelstrup?!" I started laughing so hard I could barely move, knowing that it must have looked hilarious, and wishing that Mike had gotten it on video. "I'm so jealous, you've had your first ultra trail fall. I want one!" Not a bruise, not a scrap, nada. I was lucky, it could have been ugly!

At mile 20 my body began to protest. At the aid station, nothing looked appetizing, so I stuck to Mountain Dew, grapes, and a bite or two of a granola bar each time. It was strange feeling like that, borderline nauseous. After the 2nd full loop I began to even feel nauseous while running. I've never had that before and it was a little scary, but I did my best to just push it to the side. Taking walk breaks became so necessary, but getting back into a full on run became harder every time I took a walk break. I was literally reduced to bargaining with my body. I've read a lot about how an ultra is more of a mental/emotional feat than it is a physical one. I was finally experiencing this for myself. My legs felt heavy and everything was sufficiently achy, but never so bad that I felt that I couldn't go on.

There was only one other woman in my division and she was gaining on us at the end of the 3rd loop, and when Mike said as much, I said "I don't give a shit if she passes me." He laughed at me, but we were on the field-crossing section of my least favorite loop, the part that seems to go on forever, and stopping to rest was the only thing on my mind. Mike didn't want me to rest, he wanted me to push on. So we pushed on.

I'll say this, the volunteers at the aid station were awesome. They were so nice and so enthusiastic. The race director, David, was there the entire time cheering each runner on as they came through the station. At the first stop, I had my mouth full of water, granola and grapes and I was trying to tell Mike that they had PB&J. I made no sense to anyone but Mike who knew exactly what I said. David found that pretty amusing and proceeded to jive me about it each time I came through the station :)

Each stop became harder to get out of. It gives too much time for the muscles to stiffen and makes it difficult to get them rolling again. On our way out of the final loop, Mike grabbed his camera to get some shots of the scenery. We were having a lot of fun, and I needed it to distract me from the pain on my feet from the blisters and the fact that my quads were totally trashed from the downhills. Just before we reached our last set of the Stone Steps, Mike found the perfect tree limb and started rolling his legs, getting them prepped for the hard effort ahead of us...

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do! A mini massage in the middle of the forest, who'd have thought!

I was so tired and felt like one giant cramp waiting to happen, and every muscle in my body ached. I never realized how much my lower back and abs come into play during a run. They were both on fire. I could feel every single muscle contraction during every single step. It was weird, but really cool at the same time. You learn a lot about your body during long runs, and this day was a crash course for me! During that last loop Mike and I were pretty quiet, concentrating on the ground under our feet. The more exhausted you are, the more you have to pay attention to avoid a spill.

I thought a lot about how I got to this point, why I was there, and how I felt about it. I knew I was technically undertrained for this sort of distance, I knew that I could finish it because I wanted to finish it. It's amazing what you can do when you actually want to do it. I felt like crap and my body ached in a way it never had before, but I loved every second of it. When I would pick up my stride after a walk break I was amazed that I was doing it. I thought to myself multiple time throughout the day, "I feel like total crap and my legs feel like cinder blocks, but I'm still running!" It was so cool! I knew I was going to hurt in the aftermath, but I also knew it was totally going to be worth it.

We were a football fields distance from the finish line (which I didn't realize) and Mike was pushing me to pick it up a little more so that I could finish under 7 hours. I didn't care at this point what my time was, I just wanted to finish. I looked at my GPS and thought to myself "no way that's happening", but he sprinted ahead to give his camera to a volunteer at the finish line (which I couldn't see as it was around a bend, hence the reason I thought we were farther off than we actually were) and when he returned we crossed the finish line together. It was perfect. I saw the clock at the finish and it read 6:57:09...we finished under 7 hours!!

Holy crap! I thought my legs were going to give out. I was running for nearly 7 hours! I've never done more than 3 1/2 hours, and only half the distance before. My legs almost immediately stiffened, then my back and shoulders followed suit. The RD high-fived us and everyone congratulated us as Mike announced that I had just finished my very first 50k. I stood over the aid station table staring at the goods, knowing I needed to eat (I had just burned off two days' worth of calories, I should be starving!) but the sight of food made my stomach turn, so I just downed water and gatorade. A volunteer handed us our split cards, and we got our picture taken, then we walked around for a few minutes and stretched out our legs. It felt like I couldn't control my legs, it felt very weird. I was scared to take my shoes and socks off and look at my feet, it felt like they were both giant blisters.

Now it was time to go home! We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us into Chicago. Mike was able to switch his flight back to D.C. to Monday morning, so we didn't have to worry about rushing back to the city to make his flight. After a stop at a convenience store to get 4 bags of ice, a slushy for me, coffee and bananas, and then tacos at Taco Bell, I sat in the passenger seat and iced my ankles and shins. Mike used his Ace Bandages to attach ice packs to his knees while he drove the first half of the ride...

Ooo la la! The lady at the counter came on the loud speaker when she saw this and exclaimed that he looked great :)

Wow, what a day! I finished my first ultra marathon, and now all I could think about (besides the pain I was in) was when I do my next one! It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad Mike was there with me. Honestly, I wouldn't have gotten into it if it weren't for him, and I don't know that I'd have finished if it weren't for him. I'd have probably cried more than a few times, but his positivity and humor kept me laughing and in good spirits, even on the downhills. Lucky me :) It really is a mental and emotional challenge. It was really cool to experience something like that and I looked forward to my next ultra. I'm looking forward to an '09 50-miler...which to choose!

I've been hobbling around since Sunday, and each time I come to a flight of stairs, I stand at the base and just stare at them knowing it's going to hurt to climb them, but damn it's good to know why it's going to hurt!

At work, no one understands what it is I did and it absolutely fascinates them. The general response is, "31 miles? You what?! Who does that, on a whim!" And I just smile.

Paige, out.

"If you start to feel good during an Ultra, don't worry - you'll get over it."- Gene Thibeault

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