Product Review: Noxgear Tracer360

….and My Story Runs On….

WARNING: You can enter to win a Noxgear Tracer360 at the bottom of the blog!

I’ve never done a product review on my blog yet so perfect time to start!  I definitely have my share of products that I love and some not so much…

I’ve always wanted to buy one of the Noxgear Tracer 360s.  I’ve seen them promoted mainly online but had never met someone who had one.  When I first started looking into them it was an expense issues as they normally run $69.95.  Now I know that it’s well worth that price to potentially save your life (or your dog’s! They have them for dogs too!).

During the Black Friday sale, I happened to see them 40% off so I decided to go for it and hope for the best.  And it was one of the best purchases I made (as a matter of fact, I am now an Ambassador but more on that below).

On a trail run …you can’t see me but you can see my Tracer360!

Here are a few reasons why I like it:

  • It could save my life!  Recently I’ve heard of too many runners/cyclists getting hit by cars when it’s dark.  I want to be seen!
  • I am very visible to traffic during early morning hours or at night time. There are 8 color options to choose from and it’s easy to access the button on the back to change the colors while you have it on if you want to. (assuming you don’t have any shoulder issues). It’s 360 illumination which means I can be seen in all directions.  The belt is right below the chest and is also reflective.
  • As a running coach, I wear this so my runners can see me. I wear it for track workouts (they know where I am on the track) and also on trail.  If my runners are ahead of behind me, assuming there are no hills in between, they know exactly where I am.
  • It is very lightweight and comfortable (7 oz) . I seriously don’t even feel it on me.  I’ve worn this over my Nathan VaporAiress Hydration pack with no problems at all.
  • It has a 40 hour battery life (takes 3 AAA batteries).
  • It always has bright illumination. Unlike other LED products that fade during use, it maintains maximum brightness.
  • It doesn’t rain much in Arizona but apparently it’s rain proof and all season proof!
  • As already mentioned they have a version for your dog!
  • Great for cyclists too!
  • Might be great for a rave too! LOL

I seriously can’t think of any down side to owning one of these.  Price could be a deterrent but they have sales going on all the time!  I’m also an Ambassador so you can use code RUNNINGU and get 35% off if they are not having a sale that is better than this discount (you can’t add this discount if they have a sale).  The only other thing I can think of is that at the beginning, I was worried about how to store it but I just keep laid flat on a shelf.

However until Wed 12/19/17, you can enter a raffle to win one! All you need to do is visit The Running University page on facebook and one random winner will be selected!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race Report

McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K Race Report: Success Redefined

….and My Story Runs On….

This is the 3rd year in a row that I do this 50K. It’s one of my favorites and perfect timing in my 100K Training Schedule to have a nice long training run.  This has been my 2nd, 5th and 9th 50K!   Still unbelievable to me that I swore I would never run more than a 5K when I started running!

McDowell Mountain Regional Park has some of my favorite trails and Aravaipa Running always puts on a great event.  This was meant to be a training run but since I was doing the same race for the 3rd year in a row, I did have it in the back of my mind that PRing (personal record) would be an added bonus. I went into the race with that idea but was also detached from it since technically this was supposed to be a training run.  I normally don’t have a race pace but I definitely get into a different mindset if I’m wanting to PR or “race” an event.  I also had to consider that I had run 20 miles the Sunday before so I didn’t taper for this race and I did a tough marathon downhill marathon 3 weeks before.  I was so close to PRing and made a “fatal” mistake which cost me the PR…but all good and that story is down below….

Miles 0-12.5

Rachel’s 2nd 50K and Joan’s first one! Waiting for the start….

The energy before a race is always exciting, especially when you realize how many friends you have out there!  Several of them were doing their first 50K.  It was great to start out the race after getting so many hugs from friends!  I love the Escondido trail as it’s rolly polly . I knew I could easily get started too fast here so I tried to keep a nice pace, walking the uphills and running flats and downhills.  The last third of the race is the hardest and I’ve struggled on this part the last few years.  My goal was to not let that happen again.  I immediately started focusing on my ChiRunning form. At about Mile 5, I decided to listen to some ChiSchool lessons so I could continue focusing on my form. I put this on shuffle and even though I listen to some of the same lessons, there are always some great aha moments.  This time it was with the lesson “The World’s Largest Treadmill” and some cueing from Danny (the founder of ChiRunning) about feeling your leg get swept back by the trail every time it hit the ground.  I’ve heard this lesson many times and it’s one of my favorites but something different clicked with me this time.  I skipped the first aid station strategically so I didn’t “waste” anytime as I had plenty of water and fuel. The 2nd aid station was at mile 12.5 and I knew there would be a 10 mile gap until the 3rd one and it would be during “the hill”.  Refueled and filled up water and was off again.  I knew I had to keep under a 14:58 min mile to PR and I was doing great!  At this point I was averaging a 13:23 min mile and I knew I would be hiking that hill.  My goal during the first third of the race was to run as much as I could without using up too much energy because I had that last third of the race always in the back of my head.

Miles 12.5-22.5

I had forgotten about the part of the course before “the hill”.  Pretty runnable and great scenery.  I was still feeling pretty good here. Ran into my friends Jennifer and Rachel and took this quick selfie.

The hardest part of wanting to PR is that you need to stay focused as any extra minute can add up.  I felt leaving them so quickly but I was on a mission.  It’s also hard for me to do this as a coach as I always like to give words of encouragement and hang with people but sometimes I have to run my race and I was determined since I was on track.   I had stopped listening to ChiSchool from the aid station and at mile 18 decided to listen to a few motivational TED talks I had downloaded. Sometimes I like to listen to stuff on long runs but I only listened to a few as I was truly enjoying being out there and present on the trail. The weather up to mile 15 was perfect. There was cloud coverage and we even had a few sprinkles. After my last Black Canyon experience (my character builder run) I was no longer worried about running in the rain but it didn’t happen. At about mile 15, the clouds were gone and the sun came out…I immediately stripped off my sleeves and the weather got hot really fast.  I think many of us were impacted by that change during this race.  I hiked the entire hill and ran the downhill more than last year…I remember it was rocky so I was careful but was still tracking to PR.  Even though I completely filled my hydration pack, I went through my water and couldn’t wait to get to the aid station. I was out of the water for the last 1.5 miles and it kept getting warmer.

Bottom of the hill…it’s not steep but a long hill…you can see runners on the other side of the trail

Beautiful chollas and Rockknob in the background

I think this is Rocknob..its the name of the trail but beautiful rock formations!

Another angle of Rocknob

Miles 22.5 to 31

I knew I had to stay focused on the aid station.  A friend of mine, Suzanne was there and she hooked me up right away. Helped fill my pack, put some ice in my buff and hat, I grabbed some munchies and I was off again.  At this point, due to the hiking, I was averaging a 13:58 mile so I knew the PR was closing in on me.  I did something I don’t advise people to do but decided to take two ibuprofen.  I figured even though my legs weren’t too bad, they were a bit achy and I knew this would help me run more.  Unfortunately my TomTom died at mile 24 so now I had no idea how I was doing.  There is an uphill after the aid station but then a nice steady downhill, although a bit rocky.  My goal at this point was to keep running as much I could. I was doing a lot of body sensing since I didn’t have a watch to tell me how I was doing (this is truly a better way as the GPS watch can be a distraction and play into the ego more than listening to your body)  I listened to music for a bit but my MP3 player died.  I just keep running as much as I could until I reached the last aid station.  My first question was how much longer do I have to go. They said 3.4 miles,  I looked at my phone and it was 3pm.  I had to be done by 3:44 to PR and this was cutting it pretty close but doable.  I usually don’t do much sugar until the last aid station (thanks to my nutritionist)  I drank some Coke, had a piece of potato with salt, and handful of peanut M + M’s.  I left and took my phone out to text a few friends that were waiting at the finish line for me.  Here is where I made my mistake.  I wasn’t paying attention as I was texting and walking…Before you know it, a guy yelled out “What distance are you doing?” I said the 50K and he said, “You’re on the wrong trail”.  So grateful for this guy as I would’ve kept on that wrong trail for who knows how long!  I was 4-5 min in so I turned around right away but I knew this set me back and I would’ve been cutting it even closer.  Even though I ran as much as I could towards the end, I knew it wasn’t happening.  I could start hearing the finish line (they have a DJ!) and knew I was almost there.

One of the several hills on the last 3.4 miles on the technical trail..

It’s a great feeling when people could say they recognized my running form from far away.  As I finished through the last section on the technical trail, I was getting excited to be done.  Always great to finish and see friends cheering you on at the finish line…even though it was my 9th 50K, finish lines never get old!

Biggest Learning Moment

So how do you define a successful race?  Everyone has their own definition. I think it depends on the race too.  Although I didn’t make my PR on this race, it was a great success for me. First of all, it was the first time doing this race that I felt strong on the last third even though I ran into some challenges.  I crossed the finish line feeling really good!  And considering I didn’t taper last weekend and have been building mileage, I was very happy with how I felt at the end!  I attribute this to my race strategy and more importantly my ChiRunning technique. As I was by myself for this whole race so it was easier for me to focus on my form and adjusting it as needed to the environment coming at me.  I may have conserved to much energy since I finished strong but I’ll take that over being miserable and injured any day!  As mentioned, I follow my fueling plan that I learned from my nutritionist and that makes a big difference too!

The After Party

Much like the beginning of the race, at the end of the race there were so many friends around. There is always a beer garden for people to hang out and it’s right by the finish line so you get to watch people coming in. I for wanted to wait for Joan as I had been training her for the last 3 months for her first 50K.  She finished strong as well and we shared a celebratory beer (ha, she drank the koolaid and is already talking about her next 50K! She done 20 marathons but moving on to the ultra/trail world 😉 )
This year, Aravaipa added night races and I love the fact that several women from my recent Ladies Training Program, had decided to either do the day or night race!  I missed the morning ladies but had a chance to see those at night time as they got ready.  Is it bad when your running coaching is encouraging you to do a Fireball shot before you go?  Even worse that they listened to you?!  Ultimately this is about enjoying the experience!  I/we (my peeps) are never going to win the race because that’s not our goal…the goal is making friends and having fun, while staying in shape and doing some crazy things along the way! This is how we roll…….

Gorgeous sunset!

Joan finishes her first 50K! So proud of her!

Oh no….here comes the Fireball 😉 LOL

And encouraging others? Bad coach, bad coach!

It didn’t take them long to succumb to the peer pressure…although this was pre race!

One of my proudest coach moments?!

Part of the Ladies Training Program reunited! Thanks for volunteering Kisha! I better have good finish line pics 😉

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race Report

Race Report: Inaugural Revel Mt. Lemmon Marathon

….and My Story Runs On….

I have learned that I have to write these within a few days of the event or I lose the event mojo 😉  Like my normal race reports, I’ll break this down into a few sections so you can skip through the parts you need to know about depending on why you are reading this. Continue Reading →


WTF is FOMO & Getting Over It

You know that feeling when you’re scrolling on facebook and it seems like very single runner you know is at an event and you’re not.  Happened this weekend for me with Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain.  It wasn’t that long ago that I learned of the phrase FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and it’s a new common ‘illness’ for many people. Not sure this was a thing before social media though. Seems like the biggest reason people have it is because they are scrolling on facebook/social media and watching other people “have all the fun”.  Let’s face it, no one is going to post when they are not having fun!

So I figured out how to get over FOMO…but first a few personal experiences that helped me get over it…. 😉

The first time I recall it happening to me (I didn’t know there was a phrase for it) was when several of my running peeps that I had been coaching, decided to schedule their first marathon. I was ready to do my first too but had a particular one in mind for me since it was going to be on my 41st birthday. I love doing races on my birthday! Unfortunately they had picked the Rock N Roll which was a month before mine. What should I do? I really wanted to be with them when they ran their first marathon as that was such a big deal…..but selfishly, I didn’t want them to complete their first marathon before me! I contemplated changing mine but…..

Another time I was struck with FOMO, was last year when several of my running friends got into the Chicago Marathon.  Most of them had put their name in for the lottery and pretty much all of them got in.  Seems like everyone and their mother had got into the race. This is my original group of running friends that mainly met through me and I was feeling really left out…but wait, I didn’t even put my name in for the lottery so why was I so bummed out?  I was going to miss out on the fun with them……

This last time was this weekend with Ragnar Trail.  I have a love/hate relationship with this race honestly.  The first time we did it we had 2 teams that had never done one before. We had a blast!  Did it the 2nd year and wasn’t quite as fun and then the 3rd year I went up and ran a few legs to help a few teams and then came back home.  This year, I couldn’t commit because I was in the middle of my Toastmaster competition and if I won, I would be in Flagstaff competing the Friday of Ragnar. Well, last Saturday, I lost that competition so there was still an opportunity to go.  Heard from a few teams that needed runners (I wouldn’t even have to pay to be on one team!) but as much as the FOMO was setting in, something was telling me not to do it……

I know you are all looking for a good sexy answer that will help you get over FOMO (whether it’s from running or not) but as I tried to analyze how I got over it with all three of these scenarios, I realized it was really pretty simple…well, seemingly simple but not really easy to implement. I just made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there.  This is a skill I’ve learned directly from my daily meditation practice. People ask me what I’ve learned from meditation and sometimes I can’t really quantify it.  I realized as I was still going through this yesterday, how I was learning to get over it.  By becoming self aware (that I was feeling FOMO), focusing on the present moment (being happy in this moment), detaching from the outcome , I was able to get my ego out of the decision making process and go by what my body (or spirit if you will) really wanted to do (our bodies always know best but our ego is the one that gets us in trouble). So here is how I got over the examples above. Mind you, I didn’t realize I was using this for the first two examples but it all made sense yesterday when I was trying to analyze this situation.

So my friends wanted to do another marathon and not the one that I picked?  Once I focused on them and not me (ego), I was so excited for them to complete their first marathon before their coach!  And I was able to be there for every single one of them and watch them cross that finish line!  If I were running the same one, I would’ve missed out on that opportunity. Plus I had to remember what my goal was and I really wanted to run my first on my birthday (the picture in my header of them cheering is my first marathon and one of my favorite pics ever).  I made a conscious choice and was happy with my final decision.

For Chicago, I had my ego take a step back and the first realization was that I don’t even like running road anymore!  Why would I want to train for a road marathon even if many of my friends were doing this race…that’s a lot of energy AND money to put into something that I really don’t enjoy doing anymore.  Even if I had the money, training for a full marathon is a big deal and I’ve learned through ChiRunning that you have to have a goal/vision as to why you want to do a big event like a marathon, ultra, etc because that’s what will keep you going when the going gets tough and you want to quit. Once I took my ego out of the way, I made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there and loved seeing their posts on facebook during race day!

For Ragnar this year it was a bit tougher which really prompted this blog post.  I’ve always wanted to do an Ultra Ragnar and had a few opportunities but was still committed to my Toastmaster contest so I couldn’t agree to help out either team that reached out to me.  Once I found out that I lost, I thought I could go up like I did a few years ago and just cover some legs for teams, etc.  But then I started remembering the atmosphere at Ragnar and that I would have sooo many friends up there and it’s so easy to get caught up in partying, etc. (yes, there is a good Fireball story there but just know it wasn’t pretty).  Mind you, I am not an alcoholic or anything but I am self aware enough (see a trend with being self aware?)  to know that I may not be able to contain myself and could get caught up in some not so good things.  Plus I really needed to get a long run in this weekend and I had no guarantee I would get that if I showed up at Ragnar.  Last but not least, as much as I am an extrovert and love being around so many friends, a quiet weekend mainly to myself sounded really good!

So next time you are feeling left out of something or are feeling “jealous” because all your friends are doing something that you can’t (or on the fence about it and the major thing pushing you is “because everyone else is doing it”), try these steps:

  1.  Be self aware and admit that you have FOMO 😉 sounds basic but self awareness is the key.   I am very aware of FOMO when it’s happening to me.
  2. Get centered and present.  To get your ego out of the way, you have to be in the present moment and be mindful.  If you are not used to this, a good way to do it is to sit quietly and start focusing on your breath. Being present means not thinking about the past or the future but being in the current moment that is happening. Breathing helps with this…start counting your breaths or saying IN and OUT as you are breathing.
  3. Ask yourself why you are feeling it.  More than likely you will find that ego is the one causing you to be jealous of what others are doing.  Do you really want to do it because everyone else is? What will happen by you not doing it?  Go so far as to write the pros and cons down if you need to. Usually by this point, your gut feeling (true self) will kick in and let you know what is right for you.
  4. Make a conscious choice.  At this point you are either deciding to jump off the bridge with everyone else or not.  Do you want to do this for you or are you doing it because everyone else is doing it?  If you go for it, at least you can say that you know exactly why you are making that choice because it wasn’t an overreaction but a conscious decision.  If you decide not to, you also made a conscious decision and can be happy with it.  (Doesn’t mean you still may not feel the FOMO but you will be comfortable knowing that it wasn’t an overreaction and a solid decision on your part.)

In my first two examples above, I didn’t realize I was following this process.  I had just started my meditation practice before my first marathon.  As I struggled over the last week with my Ragnar FOMO (on Friday night I was still contemplating going up to camp to hang out with friends for a few hours), I realized I had a process and put into effect which led to this blog.

Was it easy?  Of course not…but by not doing Ragnar this weekend: I got a 16 mile run in (may not have been able to get this in at Ragnar), I was able to sleep 9 hours and 5 minutes (I would’ve never got this at Ragnar!), get some time in with my family and had a very relaxing weekend (saved myself quite a bit of money and time!)

Would I have had a blast if I went to Ragnar?   No doubt about it!  But the only reason I wanted to be there was because everyone else was doing it….and that is no reason to do anything.  Love this picture I found from The Oatmeal as I was looking for images for this post!

Use These 3 Tips To Have Your Best First Race Ever

It’s easy to get freaked out when you are running your first race ever (or first race distance ever).  All these questions rolling around in your head:

  • Am I prepared enough?
  • Will I be the last person to cross the finish line?
  • Do I have everything I need?
  • and the list can go on and on IF you let it…..

So my quick advice for you, whether it’s your first race ever, or your first distance ever is to follow these three tips (works for me every time!)

  1. Don’t stress out! Getting a bit nervous about the unknown is normal, trust me! But don’t let that bit of nervousness get you so worked up that it consumes you so you don’t sleep the night before and you use up so much unnecessary mental energy you won’t have any for the race.  There is no need to get yourself worked up!
  2. Don’t go out too fast!  One of the most common mistakes for a first time race is to get excited that you start out way faster than you should.  Your adrenaline is pumping and so is everyone else’s and it’s easy to get caught up and rush out too soon. Let everyone go because you will see most of them later.  One of my other tricks is to start nose breathing as it immediately slows me down or just start in a nice warm up pace. Once you are half way through the distance, you can check in and if you are feeling good, then you can speed it up.  Trust me, it feels worse to go out too fast and then get half way through and feel like shi*t…your mind will start playing tricks on you and the negative self talk will start.  I’ve learned this the hard way!
  3. Be present!  You only get your first time once! Enjoy every single moment and stay as present as possible.  You are going to PR it (have a personal record) so make it a point to have fun and enjoy it! Thank the volunteers and the people cheering on the side line, meet people on the course, and take pictures to capture your first time experience.

More than likely if you are reading this, you are not an elite athlete, an Olympian or someone who is going to win the race. So just go out and have FUN!  You want to have a great experience so you can do it again!

This video pretty much says the same thing 😉

 

Race Report

Monument Valley 50K: Race Report

….and My Story Runs On….

Wow! Where to even begin?  I know I have to keep this succinct but very hard to do, especially for those of you that want to get a detailed report about the race and what to expect if you plan on doing it. Continue Reading →


Race Report

Black Canyon Race Report: 2017 Mud Run

….and My Story Runs On….

Where to even begin? One of the recent facebook posts about this event was something like “people will be talking about the 2017 Black Canyon Ultras for years to come.”  And the memories will probably not be pleasant for most of us.

First of all, I want to give a huge congratulations to everyone who participated. Whether you finished, dropped from the 100K to the 60K, or DNF’d (Did Not Finish).  The weather conditions were ridiculous and just being out there was an amazing feat!  Also a huge thank you to all the volunteers and Aravaipa staff who were out there taking care of all the runners!

This was supposed to be my first 100K race. I blogged last week about some of the changes that happened to the race course due to the upcoming weather conditions.  I was pretty bummed that everything was not going as planned with the weather but I finally got over it….

4:30 am: Alarm was set to go off but I woke up about an hour earlier and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I checked weather.com one more time hoping that a miracle might happen and the rain would not be in the forecast.  No such luck. (I had weather.com up on my computer all week and had been checking it at least 5x a day!)

6:20am: I arrived, picked up my packet, chit chatted with some friends and waited impatiently to just “get this party started!” (I say this almost every morning when I start my day).

bcaltra

Before race start. Had to go visit the Altra booth. Love my Altra shoes!

bcstart

Quick selfie before race start…it was raining at the start..see below for note on yellow colored glasses 😉

7:00am: We are off! I always stay towards the end as I’m never in a hurry, especially with that many miles to go.  We did one loop around the high school track, ran through part of the town of Mayer and on the road to get us to the trail.  And here is where the “fun” began…

bcshoesinmud

Jeep road portions of the trail were a muddy mess!

bcmud

This is what were dealing with on the jeep road portions of the race…Photo credit: Jennifer Berry

It might’ve been at mile 2 or 3 or so that we encountered this and my first thought was doing this again on the way back at mile 60 in the middle of the night with my pacer. Yikes!

Then we hit the Black Canyon trail (I really do love this trail). It was better on the single track and things were starting to look just a little brighter!  On a side note, I highly recommend wearing yellow colored lenses in this type of weather (I have them in the start photo above).  Knowing there would be wind, and it would be too dark for sunglasses, I brought them and was so happy I did.  All of the sudden I was seeing the world through yellow colored glasses and it was so much brighter! Every once in awhile I would remove them from my face and then the world was all dreary again (literally and figuratively). Highly recommend them for running when it’s not sunny out.

I had created a race day strategy with my crew/pacers.  My plan was to skip the first aid station (although had to stop to give a quick hug to my friend Dan Pena who was volunteering).  The rain had stopped and the trail was getting better.  The downhill portions were a blast to run down and there was no mud on this part of the trail. Hallelujah! I was having a blast and happy that things seem to be going better than I expected with the weather…..until….

I’m almost at the 3rd aid station and was tracking exactly as I planned. I see my friend Senovia, who was also doing the 100K and she was heading back towards the start. I asked her if she was injured and she told me that the at the next aid station, they were recommending that the 100K people turn around (which is where the 60K turn around was) due to upcoming bad weather. Whhhhaaaat??  Although you could see black clouds all around the area, the weather seemed to have backed off.  I had about a half a mile to get there and now was trying to figure out what do with this information. So many thoughts started rushing through my head…”I am not a quitter”, “I trained months for this race”, “this was supposed to be my first 100K”, etc, etc…

I arrive to the aid station and check in.  Sure enough, they said that the race directors were recommending that 100K people turn around as the storm would be getting worse after 4pm.  They also said they would allow us to drop down so we could get credit for the 60K.  Dang it! I was feeling really good at this point (mile 20) and was not ready to make this split second decision!  I called my very supportive boyfriend first...poor guy, why I am calling him and adding this pressure on him? He doesn’t know what to say other than “I’ll support you in whatever you decide.”  I know several of my friends decided to keep going and I kept thinking, if they can do it, so can I….something in my gut was not feeling right though…I called my pacer/friend/trail wife Elaine because she is my rock when it comes to this stuff. She’s a great athlete, mentor, friend and I knew she would give me objective advice.  Sure enough, she knew all the right questions to ask me.  Within a few minutes, I knew what I had to do. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in that short of time.  Elaine gave me my sanity check and I know I needed to respond logically to this situation rather than react emotionally.  As much as I really wanted to do the race I had trained for, I needed to trust the race directors advice.  I also had to take into consideration that there was a chance that my pacers could not get to me for the last 20ish miles due to the weather conditions.  I could be on that trail, in cold, wet, dark, muddy conditions all alone. One of the things she said to me was:  “you can have a good 60K race or a bad 100K”.  All of the sudden, everything was in perspective and I knew that I had to make the decision for my safety more than anything.  Do I think I could’ve finished the 100K? At that point I believed I could but after being in the horrible weather after 4pm, I believe I would’ve DNFd this race had I continued on.  So I did a quick facebook live video on my business page, told them I was choosing to drop to the 60K and back to Mayer High School I went.

One other important thing I took into consideration is that even though this was MY race (not coaching anyone else for it but me), as a running coach, I am setting an example for others.  My client and friend, Sharon, said it best in a text I received while still at the aid station “I know it must’ve been hard for you, but your decision gives other permission to make good decisions.” This really stuck with me and helped me feel better about the decision.

I ran into a few of my friends doing the 60K on the way back and shared the news. It was so weird because the weather seemed to be cooperating…as a matter of fact there were a few moments where a few sun rays came out. But you could clearly see the black clouds surrounding us. I was second guessing and feeling disappointed in myself. Did I make the right decision? I knew I had to let those thoughts go as I couldn’t go back now. So I got refocused and reminded myself that a 60K is still an amazing distance!  and this was still my 2nd longest distance ever…and it was my first 60K (I still have to keep reminding myself of these things as my ego can’t help but get in the way).

I knew I would be power hiking quite a bit as now we are going up all those hills. I met a new friend, Pancho, from AK at about mile 28 or so.  We ended up staying together the rest of the way to keep ourselves motivated. We also ran into Lara who was from Canada and leap frogged with her a bit.  As if the uphills weren’t bad enough, the weather took the turn they were expecting it to.  It started raining harder (almost felt like hail at one point), the wind started blowing and it started getting colder. I am glad I switched my shirt out and the second to the last aid station as it helped keep me warm, although I was freezing a few miles after that.  We know what was coming…we had to get back through all that mud on the jeep road portion of the race.  Pancho helped me find the best paths to take on the mud so it wouldn’t be so bad.  At one point I realized that running where the water had pooled, was the easiest place as the mud had been compacted down. Unfortunately I couldn’t feel my feet already because they were so cold.  It was either struggle through the mud slower or get through this faster by running in the cold water puddles.

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More mud…(photo credit Jennifer Berry)

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And more mud…photo credit Melissa Ruse from Sweet M Images http://www.sweetmimages.com/

The last 5 miles were just ridiculously brutal between the rain, cold and mud. I was so ready for it be over at this point.  I don’t like road running but I remember telling Pancho I couldn’t wait to get to the road.  I kept thinking about how awful it would’ve been to be doing this segment after 20 more miles and way later at night with worse weather and reassured myself that dropping to the 60K was the right decision.  We finally got to the road and knew we only had a few more miles to go…felt like forever!  We turned at the high school and all of the sudden I could hear my name being yelled out. I could barely see and realized, there was my crew: Elaine, Lori and my honey!  So happy to see them and know that we were finally done with this! Best cheering section ever!

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Elaine & Greg hanging while waiting for us!

We crossed the finish line, high fived each other and I needed to get warmed up.  I was so cold that my teeth were chattering. So grateful that Mayer High school opened up their gym to us so we were able to get into the locker rooms. My clothes were soaked and stuck on me already but I barely recall getting into the hot shower with Lori and Elaine helping take my cold, wet clothes off while I heated up my body…warm broth and hot chocolate helped too! My first  thing when I cross most finish lines is having a beer..but I was too cold for one!

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This was a blur of a moment!

We waited for our other friends to come to repeat the hot shower process for everyone.  Everyone was hanging in the warm cafeteria.  Mayer Fire Department and the race EMTs were working like crazy…so many people with hypothermia.

Post race reflections

  • Outside of the crazy weather, I was ready for this race and have no doubts I would’ve finished it.  I have no regrets about making the decision to drop to the 60K as I don’t know I would’ve been able to finish it under the circumstances. And yes, I’m human so of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t do the 100K…after all the training and anticipation up to that day, it’s a bummer that I couldn’t get my first buckle.  However it was the right decision for me and I’m glad that I did.
  • Not going to lie, I am disappointed.  Three days have past and it feels very weird…like it’s all behind me and it’s over. I remember the amazing high I had after my first 50K and 50 miler for days!  Even though this was my first 60K, I don’t have the same feelings.  I had such high expectations for this race and the day didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  Was this race an amazing character builder?  Hell, yes!  Do I run to build character? Sure, one of the reasons I love ultra running is because it allows me to push a little bit further out of my comfort zone. This race made me a stronger runner and person for sure….but the reason I love ultra and trail running is because I love being out in nature for hours, taking pictures and soaking in the beautiful weather (this is why I live in AZ for crying out loud! 😉 ).  This race did not provide most of this for me this time. I could hardly take pictures because my phone was wrapped up so it wouldn’t get wet. I will admit the desert was still beautiful but once the weather turned, I was ready to be done.
  • Always thankful for Brooke, my nutritionist from Fuel To The Finish, because I never have issues and always feel great all day!
  • So grateful for ChiRunning and all that it has taught me. From a technique perspective, I stayed focused on what my body was doing and how I could move my body to meet what nature and elements were presenting to me moment by moment. Not surprised that very different body parts were sore the next day.  Hip flexors and ankles from peeling my shoes out of the mud and wiggling around trying not to fall in the slippery mud.  My neck was sorer than normal because I normally keep my head neutral on my body so my eyes are looking at the horizon and the trail. Due to the amount of mud, I had to keep my gaze down to my shoes which added pressure on my neck and upper back muscles.  My core is always sore which is great because I know I’m using it!

Sooooo no buckle for me this time.  People have asked me: what now?  I am trained for a 100K so why not find one and do it?  Well, I have the Monument Valley 50K on 3/25 and on the following weekend, Crown King 50K (I am one of the coaches for this race via Aravaipa’s Women’s Ultra Training Program and can’t wait to see them cross the finish line!  For several of them, it will be their first one!).  I have not made any decisions at this point but my gut feeling is that I’ll want to take revenge on this course next year. It’s around my birthday and I love this trail.

I’ll leave you with this quote…never knew this about the lotus flower!

“Whenever you should doubt your self-worth, remember the lotus flower. Even though it plunges to life from beneath the mud, it does not allow the dirt that surrounds it to affect its growth or beauty.” Suzy Kassem

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Pancho, Lara and I after finally warming up after our finish.

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Only took one photo of the views…just love this course..better with sunshine though! 😉

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Thanks to AZ Traileggers Aid station where I stopped for awhile on my way out and back! Great motivational signs!

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More good signs!

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Cloudy with a Chance of Mudballs

….and My Story Runs On….

Well, I was planning on writing a blog about my week of tapering before my 100K in 2 days…..but since there has been a major change in the weather forecast, and I hate running in the rain, I decided to share the learning lessons I’ve already had in the last few days about this situation. Continue Reading →


50 Miles of Gratitude: (12) Training & XTERRA Events

….and My Story Runs On….

Yesterday, I did the XTERRA White Tank 20K “race”. I put race in parenthesis as you know I normally use races as training runs for my bigger races (first 100K in 6 weeks!). I already blogged about Aravaipa races awhile back.

This race is no joke from an elevation profile. Their website describes it as:

“For those who prefer a course with pain and punishment, the long course is 20k of grueling single track with over 1500 feet of climbing. Starting from the group campground, runners wind their way up Ironwood to the Waddell trail. Once you reach the first aid station be prepared to go up, the next three miles are all climbing….”  You can see my Tom Tom results here.

Cheryl Miller from Miller Endurance Coaching is one of their sponsors and she hosted a preview run a few weeks ago that I was able to attend. I actually did this race back in 2012 when I was training for my first marathon but I can’t find my results anywhere. At any rate, I knew what I was getting myself into…

Which is why I wanted to do it!  Hills are part of most trail races and I love to train on them to keep improving my ChiRunning technique.  White Tanks are also a great change of scenery for me so I was excited to do this one.

First I want to thank XTERRA because a portion of their race proceeds go to my favorite local charity Girls On The Run Maricopa County (GOTR-I’m currently on their board of directors serving as Secretary). If I’m not racing their events, I’m volunteering because I really appreciate their support!

Now on to my learning lessons from this race!

The more running story develops year after year, I have found that I prefer to preview runs if I have a chance. This gives me a chance to get familiar with the course and know what to expect vs the element of surprise that I used to like more before. Even though I did part of the course backwards on the preview run, I knew what I was getting into!

Even though this was a “training” run, I wanted to race it…my version of racing it 😉 My race strategy was:

  • Bring my hydration pack so I wouldn’t need to stop at any of the aid stations.
  • Power hike the uphills and run as much of the runnable part as possible
  • Focus/improve upon on my ChiRunning hill technique (runnable/non runnable hills, uphill and downhill. I just taught a ChiHills class yesterday so it was all fresh)
  • Continue to get more out of my comfort zone on rockier trails and improve my technique there
  • Get myself mentally psyched up and excited for this race no matter what (this has become a regular strategy for me. Why got all worked up and nervous?  I start thinking about the friends I will see, that I’m getting to spend a “few” hours in nature, getting some ME time, burning some calories, etc.  Literally think of as many positive things as I can to get pumped up for the race to get positive energy flowing)
  • Last but not least, as much as I don’t like always setting time goals for races, since I did the preview run in 3:17 and I wasn’t as racing, I was shooting for a 3 hour finish.

It was a beautiful day! I got there in plenty of time to pick up my packet and run into many friends including GOTR volunteers/board members.

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Holly is our Vice President and was racing as well!

I started running right away knowing that the grueling part would be around Mile 2. I had to stop momentarily at the first aid station to get this selfie with Bob and Cindy Hansen who are huge supporters of GOTR and I love seeing their smiling faces!

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Bob & Cindy Hansen, GOTR volunteer superstars! Love the rays of sun shining on us!

Then it was all uphill so I started power hiking and using my arms, core and obliques more (which are all sorer than my legs are today!) I knew I was at the back of the pack already but OK with that. Every time there was a wee bit of level terrain or not too many rocks, I ran a bit…however if I know I can power hike it faster and use less energy, that is my strategy. (one of the many things I love about trail running as it’s more “acceptable” to walk due to the hills.) I had several more friends at aid stations that called my name out as I ran by which is always motivating!

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We are pretty high up there! Pictures don’t do it justice for sure!

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If you look closely, you can see the trail on the other mountain going down hill…

It was finally time to come downhill!  Was cruising in several locations but the trail was rocky so this slowed me down more than I wanted.  I was really trying to focus on relaxing as much as possible as I know any tension mentally or physically slows me down (which is why I get pumped up before a race too…to keep from having mental stress!). I almost tripped a few times but never fell.

I hate looking at my watch to reach a time goal (again more mental tension) but at this point I could tell that I was close to my time goal. I had conserved my energy so I knew the last 2 miles should be pretty easy. I didn’t realize mile 11 was a wee bit of an uphill and I started walking a bit.  I knew I was cutting it close on the time goal so I decided to put my playlist on speaker just to change up my energy and get some motivation.  Funniest thing was that I turned it off in less than 2 minutes!  The music was too distracting. I was in a really good zone (had been for the entire race between my ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focusing, being present and truly enjoying the beauty of the trail.) On a side note, I find it interesting that as my running story continues to develop, I used to only be a social runner. I couldn’t run unless I had company and someone to talk to.  Now, my solo runs hold a special place. I can’t describe it but there is something to be said about being alone with yourself for hours in nature, running on a trail.  Time flies by somehow…Mile 11 was my hardest mile of the entire race and I started thinking I wanted it to be over with.  With 1.5 miles to go, I got it together and started really focusing more on my form and breathing. Before I knew it, I could see the finish line and was getting excited. I was at 2:52 and knew I would make it on time if I kept my pace…..and I did! My official time was a 2:57:37! (and my fastest mile was my last one!)

I felt amazing and was so dang proud of myself when I finished!….

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Thanks to my friend Diane for taking this awesome photo of me finishing! It truly describes how I felt!

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The GOTR Executive Team..2 of us running and 2 volunteering!

…..Until I started comparing myself to other runner friends….that is another blog post…for now, you can watch my 5 minute facebook live video from yesterday here.

All in all, this was one of my best races from strategy to how amazing I felt at the end.

Do you use races as training runs? Share your comments below!

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My badass friend Diane who is an Ironman and did her first 8K trail race!

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Selfie with Terry who is an amazing athlete who will be 60 this year and placed first in her age group and 13th woman overall!

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You know it’s going to be a great day with this sunrise!

Click here50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Across The Years: Race Report & 6th 50K

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….and My Story Runs On….

Where do I even begin? First I have to try and explain how this type of event works. Across The Years is described on the Aravaipa website as:

“the original fixed-time multiday running event celebrating the New Year. Runners have 24, 48, 72 hours or 6 days to cover as much distance as possible.  Each runner is free to walk, stop, eat, and sleep whenever they wish, but the clock is always running!”

What does this mean?  It’s basically you against the clock. You can sign up for minimum of 24 hours to a maximum of 6 days and log as many miles as you want or your body/mind will allow you.

I’ll be honest, I have very mixed feelings about this event. In 2014, my boyfriend and I volunteered during the midnight shift at New Year’s Eve and we had a blast!  We decided to do it again this year and The Running University sponsored two volunteer shifts on New Year’s Eve so I received a free entry for filling those spots.

I was excited to have the opportunity to try this type of event out.  The course is a 1.04 mile loop at Camelback Ranch and you basically go around the loop as many times as you want or your body/mind will allow you. I’ve done an event before that was looped but it was a 4 mile course so this was a first experience for me.  Every 4 hours they change the direction so you go around the opposite way.

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I can’t wait to get my official bib number. It’s yours for the lifetime of the event. Apparently once you get to 1,000 miles you get a jacket! not sure I’ll ever shoot for this goal!

I ran this mostly with my friend Heather and we decided that we were “just” going to follow our training plan for the weekend and our plan was to do a 50K (31.1 miles). I also had dinner plans that night so I was on a bit of time crunch. We started at 9am (the 24 hour clock is from 9am-9am).  The first several loops felt great…actually most of it wasn’t bad at all..as a matter of fact at one point I was thinking, maybe I can do 48 hours next year and do my first 100 miles…break it up in four 25 miles segments over 48 hours…that sounds doable, right? Well…..by the time I was done, I was done with those loops.  Heather and I spent most of the time chatting together and with other people on the course. At one point she needed to make a stop so I kept going knowing we find each other on that loop at some point. I started listening to one of my new favorite Running Deep playlists that I purchased awhile ago and had not had chance to get into (guided meditation for runners).  It was perfect timing to be zoned out and zoned in at the same time.  I was also hoping to PR my 50K time. Doesn’t really mean a whole lot as this type of event is much different than running a 50K on a trail with an actual elevation profile. But still, I was running a lot more than I would’ve on a trail so that had to count for something.  I did set another PR and I found my results from my Tom Tom amusing. Mostly the elevation profile and the map of my run. 😉

It might be easiest to break this up to pros and cons (of course just my opinion!). Would love to hear comments from anyone who has done these events!

Pros:

  • The course is a 1.04 mile loop so there is no way to get lost. It’s probably one of the safest ways to get rack up mileage.
  • You set your own goals and it’s just you against the clock. This will also be a Con.  For me, I liked that my plan was to stick to my training plan and I purposely scheduled dinner plans later because I knew that I could be convinced to keep going since I technically had many more hours to go. But if someone was “afraid” to do a marathon because there are normally cut offs, you can sign up for 24 hours here and finish a marathon no problem in 24 hours…you could crawl it!
  • I’ve never eaten so much at a race! LOL  There is a main aid station with lots of goodies. We purposely skipped it many times.  I’ve taught my body to go for longer periods of time with little fueling but it’s so hard not to stop by and visit at the aid station…and maybe grab a few M & M’s or piece of pizza or peanut butter pretzels (my main trail staple). I’ve heard people say they actually gain weight on this event.
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Should’ve got a better picture but this is the main aid station…lots of goodies here!

  • No need to carry anything.  There is also another water station half way through which means you really don’t have to worry about carrying anything with you on this race as you have it all right there.
  • Seeing lots of friends!  It was fun to see so many people I knew. Unfortunately because I was on a mission to get done by a certain time, I couldn’t stop and slow down much to talk with them as most of them were going longer so moving slower that I wanted to at that point. But there are a lot of local runners along with people who come internationally for this event so a great place to listen to people’s running stories and goals.
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Heather and I at the start line getting ready for the 9am start 😉

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Had to get a selfie with the pretty “lake” behind us. There were some scenic spots on this loop!

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Hanging with Ed The Jester. I found out today that he placed 1st with 451 miles completed in 6 days! Just google “ed the jester” and you’ll find out some amazing things about this guy!

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Sharill! Her and her husband used to own Solemates which was a racing company that only did these type of timed events but shorter starting with 6 miles up to 24 hours.

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Ron! I see this guy volunteering everywhere! And you can’t help but love that shirt!

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Ila! Still waiting to hear on her finish as of right now. She is an inspiration and I blogged about her too: https://myownrunningstory.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/running-marathons-at-70/

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We reached our goal of a 50K! 31.8 miles on my watch 😉

  • Relaxed atmosphere.  People are all just doing the same thing going around this loop…some running, some walking, some talking, some listening to music or whatever.  There didn’t seem to be much “race” pressure that you can normally feel in a race.  You get to do whatever you want when you want.
  • Strategy.  You basically create your own race strategy. I met people who were planning X amount miles in X amount of hours, some people were just going with the flow and people like me were using it as a training run.  Your time, your strategy.
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My strategy was to complete a 50K but my mantra is the same thing I have on the back of my The Running University shirts 😉

Cons 

  • The course is a 1.04 mile loop and all you do all day and night is go around in the same circle for hours even though they change the direction every 4 hours.  One of the things I love most about ultra running is being out on a trail and seeing places I’ve never seen before. I don’t know how people do 6 days of this but all power to them!
  • You set your own goals and it’s just you against the clock.  As a running coach, this type of race can really push people to a level that I believe is not healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people pushing outside their comfort zone mentally and physically!  However, to be smart about doing that, training your mind and body really helps too. I know several ultra runners that were out there and used to do this kind of mileage…however this race brings some people out that have not been spending the time training and it’s an injury or many waiting to happen. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your goal and I can’t tell you the number of times I heard people complaining about body parts hurting (there is a difference in knowing when you can push through “hurt” or “injury”) and when you are mentally exhausted, you are not always making the wisest decisions. It was painful for me to watch some of these people limping along (there is a medical tent on site and they do an amazing job…but I know people who wouldn’t go in there in fear of hearing they needed to stop). As much as it’s an inspiration to watch an 82 year old with a walking stick or a 10 year old achieve a 100 mile goal,  it’s still begs the questions, when is too much too much?

So, 4 days later, do I still want to do 100 miles in 48 hours next year?

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Will I do the event again next year?  Hell yes!  My plan would be sign up for the same 24 hours with friends, hopefully convince some people to do their first marathon, and have a walking/running party and just have fun with it!

Have you ever done a timed event? What’s your experience? Would love to hear your opinion!

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)