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!)

How I shaved 13 minutes off my marathon time…

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

….and My Story Runs On…. I’m on cloud 9 right now!  I can’t believe my time for the Sedona marathon.  I’m not a bragger and this is a bit uncomfortable for me but feeling pretty proud of myself considering the … Continue reading

Execution plan for marathon #5

….and My Story Runs On….

Saturday 2/1, I will run my 5th marathon.  Remember, I swore that I would never run a half marathon but apparently I’m addicted to running now.

I did the Pf Changs Rock N Roll marathon a few weeks ago with my friends and blogged about it here.

Saturday’s Sedona Marathon is for me, so to speak.  Ironically it’s just another training run before my first 50K race on 2/22.  I already had it in my head that it might take me 6 hours to complete it due to the hills. I remember when I did the half last year, it was longer than my “regular” time.

But today, I looked up my half marathon time from last year (2:30) and my PR on my last full marathon was 5:12 (The Lost Dutchman last year which is also hilly but doesn’t have the elevation of Sedona).

So now I’m trying to come up with a game plan for Sunday and here it goes:

  • I’ve already been carbing up and drinking lots of water to get hydrated.
  • I’m taking the 2 days before the race off of running to rest my legs and body for Sunday.
  • I’ve been doing a little extra stretching, foam rolling and leg drains.
  • I’ll listen to my new hypnosis session from Dr. John at Peak Performance Online a few times.
  • My new goal now (after reviewing my stats from last year) is have a PR at this race, which means at least 5:11.  I hesitate to put this in writing however between all the trail running and conditioning I’ve been doing in the last year, I feel it’s a realistic goal.  I also found out that half the course is dirt which I’m very excited about it!
  • Last but not least, even though I have that goal, I’m detached from the outcome. This is a skill I learned through my 7 Laws of Spiritual Success meditations.  The Law of Detachment basically means that I’m not attached to this goal. I want to achieve it but by allowing myself to accept uncertainty in this situation, I won’t “worry” about it and have that negative energy weighing me down.

So, I’m heading up to Sedona with my friends and boyfriend today.

Tomorrow I’ll focus on my ChiRunning technique (use my app if I need some help so I don’t have to think about my Form Focuses), and have music available if necessary but I know the gorgeous views will keep me occupied.

Before I started this blog, I googled quotes on “execution”.  Love this one from Dr. Wayne Dyer; it’s perfect for Saturday and really any other situation in life as he says:

Great quote to apply to anything in life!

Great quote to apply to anything in life!

 

What do you do when you are getting ready for a race?  How do you prepare mentally?

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

My Slowest Marathon ever….

….yet one of my most momentous.

As a runner (or coach) have you ever been in the situation where you had to make a choice on how to run a race:

Do I run this race for me?  
OR
Do I run this race with my friends?

Let me preface this blog by saying I really would love to get your comments below if you’ve been in this situation. I believe it’s a hard choice to make and I’d like to know how you’ve made your decisions in the past so we can learn from each other.

I originally signed up for the Pf Changs Rock N Roll Marathon to run it with a friend who was planning on doing her first marathon.  My plan was to run the Sedona Marathon on 2/1/14 so it would be another training run (along with my 50K on 2/22 now).  My friend realized she was not ready for it and decided to do the half instead (which I told her was a great call on her part, so long as she was making that choice consciously and would not be mad at herself for changing her plan).

In the mean time, I had 5 of my friends/students running their first marathon at this event.  So here I was faced with “dilemma” of what to do?  Do I run this race for me or do I run it with friends?   As I deliberated, here were the questions that ran through my head:

Q.  Why are you running this marathon?  Honestly, for me it was another training run.  It’s marathon #4 and since I’am working on 2 other distance events, my reason was to get a long run in at a race.  I try to plan it this way if it works with the training schedule. Even if I’m paying for this training run/race, I get a new t-shirt, a medal and race experience.

Q.  Do you care how fast you complete this marathon?  Speed is rarely a concern for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pushing myself and beating my own personal records (PR) but sometimes it’s just not about speed but the experience. The Women’s Half marathon for example is usually my PR race for a half so that decision is always made to run it for myself.

Q. Do I care that the official records will show my marathon results and everyone else will know my speed?  Hell no….Again, there are times where this is just not relevant, especially as a coach.  And personally I’ve worked a lot on not caring what other people think 😉 (It’s very liberating…of course I value other people’s opinion but learning to detach from their opinion is another story…)

So as I pondered over this, one of my friends asked me if I would run the marathon with them.  I knew this was going to be my slowest group but also the group that “needed” me the most.  Based on the responses above that of course I would love to run with them as they complete their first marathon (a coach’s dream would be to cross the finish line with all their students but that can’t always be possible either).

So we start the race together and one of my friends starts having some serious pain in her hip.  The others wanted to keep moving so I decided to stay with her and help her get through it.  My heart ached for her.  The pain was persistent.   She was such a trooper. We walked as fast as her hip would allow her…at one point we turned around and realized we were the last 2 people in the race…sag wagon right behind us….As much as I knew I could mentally get her to the end, I know her hip was not going to make it and I didn’t want her to push her body to the point of not being able to run ever again.  We talked and pondered and she finally made the decision to get in the sag wagon.  After months of training and excitement to complete her first marathon, I can’t even imagine how hard of a decision that was for her. I have a huge amount of respect for her determination and perseverance and I would’ve made the same call if I were in her shoes.

At this point I thought I would start running and find the rest of the group. I selfishly admit that I loved every minute of the run.  My other friend called me and asked me where I was and we realized that I was about a quarter of a mile away from them so I sped up to catch up.

Let me preface that this friend was pretty much coerced into running the marathon. She was planning on the half but just started training with our group and before you know it, she’s sucked into doing a full marathon. When I reached the two of them, one wanted to run and the other was not feeling too hot and just wanted to walk.  At that point, I knew who needed me the most (we were half way done so still 13 more miles to go).

I did the same things that I did for my other friend: remind them of their ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focuses, stay positive, gather energy from nature and all the spectators cheering, and talk about things to keep their mind off the time.

We pretty much walked that last 13 miles and my official time was 6:17:10.  My best time was a 5:12:01.

Do I care that I was over an hour longer than my first one?  HELL NO!  

Was experiencing two amazing women give it all they had in their heart and their body worth it?  HELL YES!

So how have you dealt with this dilemma? If the answers to my question above were different, I would’ve had no problem running the race for me either.  My friends felt “bad” because they knew I could run faster.  I told them it was an absolute conscious choice and that if I wanted to PR the race and run, I would’ve made that decision.

Looking back to yesterday, I wouldn’t change a thing….

Here we go...

Here we go…

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

26.2 miles done!

26.2 miles done!

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Another medal for the collection...

Another medal for the collection…

Adventures of my 50KM training

….and My Story Runs On….

I never thought My Running Story would take me this route….remember, I said I would never do a half marathon and now I’m tackling my first 50Km on trail.  Scared yet really excited at the same time.  I decided to do this 50KM now because I already have marathon #4 on 1/19 (Pf Changs Rock and Roll) and marathon #5 on 2/1 (Sedona Marathon)…..seems like the right time to add a few more miles while I’m training for these….ironically now these marathons have become training runs for my 50KM.

This last weekend I did an 11 mile training run on the Sedona Marathon course (hills and elevation training) and then did the XTerra 20K race at White Tanks on Sunday (ChiRunning hills and trails training).   The scenery was gorgeous on both (pics below).

Here are a few of my AHA moments:

  • I’m learning to enjoy the recovery process as part of my journey.  Usually I don’t like to take the time to foam roll, do leg drains (more on these in another post), hot baths, etc.  It used to feel like a chore.  Recently I’ve discovered how important this process is, especially when doing these distances and back to back long runs.  I can feel a noticeable difference when I do these and since I prefer not to be sore, I realized this is just part of the training process now.
  • The reason for back to back long runs is to get used to running on tired legs.  I’ve been feeling this the last few weekends for sure.  I described it to my boyfriend: “It’s like my legs are heavy and just dangling from my hips.”  But since I was doing hills all weekend, I felt my core as well;  I’ve never felt my core this fatigued.  In ChiRunning, core muscles do most of the work so legs don’t have to.  I do feel it on long runs but it felt like I had done an ab workout and feeling the effects the next day.
  • Upper body, mainly neck area was sorer than normal too. I try hard to focus on using my eyes to look ahead rather than looking down at the trail (which puts pressure on your cervical spine when constantly looking down).  This is clearly why the training is important so I can be aware of what my body wants to do but also work on improving my form in these areas.
  • Last but not least, I realize that nutrition is going to be a bigger piece of the pie.  I follow my intuition when fueling and I’m kind of anal about electrolytes (I don’t like Gatorade or any products that have high sugar content, or chemicals like red dye #40 , etc).  I love the Honey Stinger products and recently started using salt pills as well.  Now I’m on a mission to learn how to fuel the week and days before my longer runs.  I’m looking forward to learning some more hear. One of my friends recommended these 2 books which I’m planning on purchasing: The Feed Zone Cookbook and Feed Zone Portables.

Any advice or feedback to share based on your experience?  Comment below and let me know…

Here are a few photos from the weekend along with my training plan 😉 (click on them to increase size)

White rows are plan, blue is my actual mileage and the green are miles on trails.  Having to make some adjustments as I approach PF Changs marathon weekend.

White rows are plan, blue is my actual mileage and the green are miles on trails. Having to make some adjustments as I approach PF Changs marathon weekend.

Training run in Sedona...GORGEOUS views...and elevation and hills ;)

Training run in Sedona…GORGEOUS views…and elevation and hills 😉

6 miles of grueling uphill...not sure if you can see the little people on the switchbacks...

6 miles of grueling uphill…not sure if you can see the little people on the switchbacks…

At least when there is an uphill, there is a downhill too!

At least when there is an uphill, there is a downhill too! (White Tanks XTerra 20K)

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