Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No limits

Quad Rock 50 Race Report – My first 50 mile race!
First, I cannot thank you all for your kind, supportive words before the race and the congratulations post race. One of the last things I did before getting out of the car on race day was read the messages you all had sent so that they were fresh in my mind. You were with me every step of the way and in some cases were the only reason I kept moving at certain points.
Beth Frye, Sheryl Mawn and I arrived at the start and it was “no turning back now”.  Pick up number-check, label drop bags-check, bathroom AGAIN-check, get vest on-check, good luck hugs-check and line-up. Nick Clark gave the last few instructions/course changes and the countdown began.  As the sun was coming up over the Horsetooth Reservoir (5:35am), we were off. It was bit cool starting but I knew that would not last long as the skies were clear.  The first few miles went along the dirt road as Lory State Park had experienced a recent fire and the course had to be rerouted.
My goal for the day was to make every cutoff and finish the race.  I had run the entire course and knew the climbs would be difficult but as long as I kept moving forward, Rick Gray has ingrained this in me, I should be fine.  I stopped at the Horsetooth TH aid station, mile 10.6) to top off my water and grab 2 Gu’s so that I would not have to restock until the turn around. 
On the climb out of Horsetooth TH, Marianna was beside me and it was so nice to have someone to climb and chat with.  This area of the course, 3.8 miles, for me, is a lot of fast hiking sprinkled with running.  The views are beautiful and I did make sure to look around as I could but not much.  As I got close to Towers Road I came up on Henry and was so happy to see someone else I knew.  We chatted for a bit, ran a few steps and then he was kind enough to snap a picture of me as I had elected to not run with a camera.  This has gotten me into time trouble in the past and it wasn’t going to happen today!  I ran through the Towers Aid Station as a fun downhill was just a few 100 feet away.  I loved running down Mill Creek (not thinking about having to climb back up in a few hours)!
I was through Arthur’s TH (17.8 miles into the race), we will see this aid station four times during this run, and I knew I had the longest stretch ahead of me to get to the turn around.  By my calculations I should beat the cutoff for the turnaround by about an hour give or take.  The next 7.5 miles were a combination of open trail, covered trail, running and hiking the steep climbs.  I began to see the reservoir and the tents at the turnaround.  This is deceptive because you still have a ridge to get over but I was going to make cutoff number one!
It was during this section that you begin to pass 50 miles who are on their way back.  On the way out, you do not know who is running the 25 or 50 so you have to be careful and make sure you are running YOUR race and not get into trouble (thank you Beth Frye for these nuggets). I could finally see the turnaround as I was descending the switchbacks and then WOOHOO, there was Beth, looking so strong and smiling!  I ran right into her for a quick bear hug.  We exchanged the “How are you feeling” but again, I wasn’t stopping and certainly didn’t want to mess up her rhythm.  She told me I was close and looking good. Trail love is the best love! 
Next up was seeing Sheryl.  She looked so strong and I remember being jealous about how fresh she looked.  I almost didn’t see her as I was concentrating on how I was going to get in and out of the turnaround as fast as possible.  You see, this is also the finish line for the 25 mile race. As a 50 miler, you can drop at this point and receive an official time for the 25 mile race.  I wanted to avoid any temptation.  I knew when I got in I needed to do the following: get water, food, change shirt and hat and GET OUT!
I got to the turnaround at Soldier Canyon (mile 25+) and saw Mary Boyts as I was coming in.  We high fived it and the next thing I knew she was right there asking what I needed, filling my water, telling me to take my rain jacket (thank you!) and get moving again.  Mary got me out of there in less than 3 mins…THANK YOU Mary!  I had made the cutoff by 30 mins.  As I was walking out of the turnaround, Nick Clark, RD, asked how it was going and I told him the course was great and I was so pleased this was my first 50 mile race.  He told me “you picked a doozie”, shared some words of encouragement and that he would see me at the finish.  This was just enough to get me running rather than walking out of Soldier Canyon. I passed Marianna as she was coming in and looking good. 
The next cutoff was at 2:10 at Arthur’s TH (mile 32.6).  This was going to be tight and I kept telling myself to keep moving.  I made it to Arthur’s TH with 45 mins to spare.  You might be thinking this is plenty of time, but the climb back up to the Towers Aid Station was going to be brutal. I was good on water and didn’t need to stop so I thanked the volunteers and kept moving.  Are you seeing a theme here: KEEP MOVING, DON’T STOP!  As I left, the 3rd place male finisher passed me as he was coming into Arthur’s TH.  I just thought impressive and didn’t think about how much further I had to run.
The climb up to Towers was just as I had expected.  It was brutal.  As an added bonus a nice thunderstorm complete with hail rolled in on top of us.  I just kept moving thinking the trees are MUCH taller than I am.  The next cutoff was at Horsetooth TH and that is what I focused on, cutoff times.  I reached Towers and had 1.5 hrs to get to Horsetooth TH.  This might sound like plenty of time to run 3.8 miles but realize I have run 36 miles and my legs were SHOT.  Running downhill was worse than uphill as I had stubbed my big toe on my right foot and the pulsing in my big toe was not getting better.  I ignored this and just kept moving. This section is rolling with some good downhill which I could not capitalize on.  Hmm, how much time do I have?  When I finally reached the South Ridge Trail I thought this is going to be too tight.
Horsetooth TH Aid Station (40 miles down).  A very nice volunteer asked me what I needed as I must have looked lost and confused.  I said I needed my drop bag.  I wanted to leave my vest and get my handheld so that I could move faster, haha, over these last 10 miles.  He got me what I needed and told me not to worry about getting my vest in my bag, he would take care of it.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU.  I wish I knew his name but AWESOME will do.
I was heading back out at 4:03pm…YIKES, the cutoff was 4:30! As I was walking out I saw Shelia, aka: the “nike” runner with whom I had seen all day.  She would kill it up the climbs and I would pass her on the downhills.  She wasn’t looking good and I asked if she was ok.  She got up and we left together.  We would run/walk together all the way to the finish line.  I got ahead of myself there. 
The climbs during this last stretch to Arthur’s TH were just cruel.  This included having to go under or over 3 downed trees on Sawmill Trail.  Finally, the big climbing was over and we were out in the open heading to Arthur’s TH.  Now, one would think this would have been an easy section, WRONG.  It kept going and going and going.  Where was the TH?  Finally, we made it to Arthur’s TH.  There was watermelon cubes here that I thought tasted like Christmas! I topped off my handheld and away we went. 
I checked on the time and realized we had 40 minutes to run that last 2.5 miles.  Again, shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Yikes, we need to run every bit of it we could.  So, we ran the first mile digging deep and talking the whole way.  Then, we crested a hill and I could see the tents.  Time check, we had 30 mins so we knew we were going to make it and just didn’t worry at that point if we walked or ran.  I was able to make out Sheryl’s car and started getting emotional.  She had waited for me to finish. This meant so much to me as she had asked me to consider running the 25 mile race. It was already sold out so we signed up for the 50 miler; logical change in plans right?  She also had a 6:30am flight the next morning to catch!
As we turned onto the road where the cars had been lined up 13 hours earlier, I heard it…”Jeeennnnnyyyyyy!”  At that point I was crying as I knew that voice and knew I was going to finish.  It was Beth, and then I heard Sheryl.  I don’t really remember that last ¼ mile other than that is where I let myself believe that I had done it.  I had run my first 50+ miler.  As I was running into the finish Beth and Sheryl were right there cheering me to the end.  I ran through under the finish banner and straight into Beth’s arms.  I was sobbing at this point. It had been such a long journey and I was just so happy. 
I learned so much in preparing for this race and completing it.  The biggest lesson was to BELIEVE.  Believe in yourself and the process of overcoming. I had a lot of time on the trail (13:33 to be exact) where I could think and listen.  We were not allowed to run with music so instead I listened to my inner self, the words of my supportive friends, my feet hitting the ground, the water running, the birds, hikers having conversations. I will forever cherish this EPIC day and will never take anything for granted.  I have a great life and I cannot wait to live it!



50 mile race had the following entries: 50 woman with 24 finishing; 147 men with 87 finishing

Total Distance: around 52 miles with the course change

Total Elevation Gain: 11,000 ft.  We climbed 3 mountains, turned around and did again in reverse.

Gear: Nathan Vapor Vest, Nathan Quickdraw Handheld, Hoka Mafate 2.0, CEP Compression Socks, Lulumon Athletica Pace Skirt, Free to Be Sportsbra, Mountain Hardware Tank and Shirt
Food: 3 Gu’s, 1 PowerBar Energy Blasts, 1 PowerBar Performance Energy Blends, 1 LaraBar
Aid Station Food: Orange slices & Watermelon, handful of potato chips
Recovery: An Ice Cold Gluten-Free Beer!

    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Season of change

I decided my life seemed too calm so I am mixing it up...A LOT! 

1. I resigned from my current job of 11 years yesterday
2. I accepted a position that will have me traveling each week to a different college/university to help them implement an online degree audit software and
3. I am relocating to Boulder, CO to live near my sister and her family!  Is that enough change in one sentence? 

As you can imagine this has been a roller coaster of a week.  I have opened my eyes each morning and smiled, shed some tears and laughed at loud wondering/thinking how crazy life is.  I live in an amazing place, surrounded by the most amazing, caring people who have loved me for almost all of my life but I realized that something very important was missing...family.  I want, no I NEED my sister and my nieces to be in my life and me in theirs.  We currently only visit once a year for a few days which just isn't enough for me anymore.  I love them dearly and am so excited.  Now, I don't have a move date just yet but the wheels are in motion :-)

So, what does this have to do with running you ask?  Well, I feel like I am jumping into the mecca of trail running destinations...Colorado!  So, if you know of any good folks to meet up with please let me know as we all know some of the best peeps in the world are trail runners!

Happy trails!
VTG

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On the road again...

Yesterday I hit a milestone, literally!  I ran my longest run since my injury in November: 10 miles and it felt GREAT!  I hadn't planned on running on 10 miles yesterday, it just happened.  I actually started running with the idea of running 8 miles and just wasn't ready to turn around so I added an extra loop.  I am going to go back out today for another 5 miles as I don't want to push it! 

Here are some pictures from my run yesterday:
My shadow on the trail :-)


The actual carriage trail weaves around this field not through it!  It is typically field with deer at dawn and dusk.  The views in both directions are amazing!


A few miles up the trail on one of the switchbacks this is the view...simply beautiful!


After my run I was FREEZING as I had dressed for a nice warm, sunny run not a cloudy, windy run.  I stopped by my favorite coffee shop for a almond milk latte (they make them special for me!) and when I got home I had some wonderful homemade lentil soup and arugula salad (recipes to follow).  

Happy Trails!
VTG

Monday, January 16, 2012

The beginning

So I thought I would share with you my story of how I hit the trail.  I will apologize up front as I am thinking this could be a long post :-) 

I didn't start running until about 3 years ago when riding my bike began hurting my knee.  So, I started slow and in the grass along our local greenway here in Boone.  I had worked up to 3 miles which I thought was awesome!  The pain continued and I ended up going to the doctor and it turned out that I had once again, blown out my ACL.  So, back to the OR I went, for a second ACL replacement on the same knee in August 2009. 

I worked hard in rehab with my focus being a return to the slopes and to my running which I had fallen in love with.  With hard work and determination I did both.  For my return to health after surgery I register for my first sprint triathlon (Aug '10) which ended with a two mile run.  My athletic trainer wasn't thrilled with the distance but eventually came around to support my decision.  She asked that I promise to not run further than a 5K in order to preserve my knee.  Deal!

My triathlon was a success!  I was so happy when I crossed the finish line.  I had set a goal, trained for it and swam, pedaled and ran with a smile!  I still get warm fuzzies just thinking about it!



After the triathlon I didn't have another goal in mind but I continued to run.  The miles just kept getting easier and more enjoyable.  I was up to seven in no time and now it was late October 2010.  My boot camp friends were all getting ready to register for the Mistletoe 5K race in Winston Salem.  I thought, "I've never run a road race, why not join them!"  So, I said I wanted to join them and one of them suggested I do the 1/2 marathon given my current mileage.  Silly me said, ok!  So that is what I did!  Again, I ran with a smile on my face the whole time and was so happy with setting a goal and reaching it.

In the spring of 2011 I was running and getting bored with the road.  A group of us had begun a new running club in Boone, Boone Running Club and we were meeting every Saturday for group runs.  It was great but something was missing.  With the weather turning warm and longing to get away from the road I went out to hit the trails...I.WAS.HOOKED!

Everyday, I was on the trails.  I was now a trail runner.  All I wanted was the trail and distance.  I ran at the local mountain bike park where I volunteered so that I knew the riders and the trails.  I ran out on the parkway...everywhere!  I ran up on Beech Mountain on the Emerald Mountain trails... Iron Mountain trail... as long as there was no pavement I was running on it!

Events...oh my goodness!  Not only was I hooked on the trails but I was hooked on the community of runners both at organized runs and races alike.  Some of my favorite runs this past year include The Bear (running up Grandfather Mountain), Iron Mountain Trail Run, Blue Ridge Relay and the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon, Pine Mt, GA.  What a year!! 

Mud and yellow jacket stings at my first trail race!

Group heading out for a training run on the Iron Mountain trails.

Blue Ridge Relay team...208 miles!

My goal for 2011 was to run my first marathon and well, I did.  It just happened to be a trail marathon with 4000ft of elevation gain in the mountains of Ga and took me 6:33 to finish (more on that later)!  I loved every minute of it :-) 

When people ask me about running and how I got started they are always amazed as I have overcome such injuries.  They talk about how they could never do what I do and I always say sure you can because all I do is put one foot in front of the other. 

My goal for 2012 is to run my first ultra and my first 50...  I can't wait to see just how far I can go with running.  I will be running as long as I can ... as long as I am still smiling. 

Happy Trails!
VTG

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Injuried Reserve: Not where I want to be listed!

Hello my trail friends!  Sorry for being MIA but as you will quickly read, I haven't much to post about.

So, I once again find myself on the injured reserve list.  While this is not where I want to be, considering our warmer than normal December weather, it is a fact.  I pissed off upset my bursa sac in my right heel during my last trail race (November).  It was so bad during the race that I ended up walking a good bit as I could not put my heel down.  I immediately called the athletic training room at work so that I could get in and let them work their magic!  So, I have taken this time to focus on cross-training or as I like to call it: anything that helps to reinforce my love of running on the trails!

Cross-training isn't bad.  Not at all.  If you enjoy running in the pool with an aqua-jogger so that you don't sink, it's great!  There is nothing like running laps and sweating in a pool full of water, ha ha!  I have also been able to ride my bike on FLAT terrain.  Let's review, I live in the MOUNTAINS of North Carolina; flat does not exist where I live.  So this translates into riding the trainer.  I am lucky in that I can drive an hour North to the Virginia Creeper Trail and do a 35 mile stretch as time permits. 

My trainer did allow me to run 2 miles this past week to see how my heel did.  That run was pretty close to heaven after 3 weeks off even if it was on pavement!  My heel puffed up I was bummed.  Next day trainer was happy...happy?  Really?  Yes, there was no pain associated with the puffiness.  She sees that as a victory.  So...YIPPEE!  I can run again on Monday, 2 miles and then again on Thursday.  The goal is to go 2 runs with no puffiness and then add 1/2 mile. 

Long story short, I will continue with the cross-training adding my 2 mile runs in a couple of days a week.  I have a feeling Monday's  and Thursday's will become my favorite days of the week!

Happy Trails!
VTG

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In the eyes of the beholder

I happen to think that I live in one of the most beautiful places ever created.  I also think that I am incredibly lucky to enjoy being outside on the trails thus being able to enjoy said beauty through a variety of lenses.  My favorite lens being that of the trail runner. 



Why you ask?  Because, not only do I stop to take in the views, but I also look up, down at the forest floor and up the banks when I hear something scurrying away.  The natural beauty has, on many occasions stopped me in my tracks so that I could take a moment to savor my surroundings. 

Today was no exception.  While on the trail there is one section of the Tanawha where you come into an opening that is filled with giant boulders that are all covered in moss.  Now, it is fall and the leaves have all fallen off the trees and the ground is a dull brown...but then you have these beautiful rocks with this beautiful vivid green that just grabs you as you come around the bend in both directions.  Of course, there are also views like this



So my question for you is simple, what makes you stop in your tracks to take a moment? 

Happy Trails,
VTG

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baby steps into blogging

Welcome to Veggie Trail Girl and my first blog post!   Here is what you can expect from VTG.  Trail stories, race reports and food posts... I love to trail run and I love to cook!  Sure, there will be other random ramblings but running and food are my passions.  I will not promise that there will be posts everyday or even every week but I do promise to stay in touch. 

So, here goes nothing as I hit the "Publish Post" button!