Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grindstone seedings...classic

Even though Clark Zealand is the RD of Grindstone, I can't help but wonder what little birdy (a.k.a. David Horton) helped him with the Gstone seedings. When Horton seeds runners in his races, he sends them subliminal messages in the number. He will seed you higher than you should be to motivate and/or humiliate at the finish line ("Sophie, I seeded you higher than this!" was Horton's greeting as I crossed the finish line at Promise Land one year). He will also seed you lower than you should be when you have some tough races to send the message, "You don't deserve to be in the top-5...get it together!" He will also seed based on tradition...Derrick Carr was married in 1983 so he always gets number 83 in Horton races, despite the fact that Derrick is a top-10 runner...a practice that I find sweet.

So I had to laugh this morning when Clark sent the Gstone runners their numbers and their seedings. As predicted, Keith Knipling is seeded number 1 for the men and Krissy Moehl is number 1 for the women (wearing bib #50). Yours truly is seeded number 2 for the ladies, despite the fact that Donna Utakis (seeded last among women) has won MMT (beating me by many hours) and the Cascade Crest 100. Sabrina Moran is seeded 5th, despite the fact that she kicked my butt at Masochist last year, as did #3 Jenny Anderson and #6 Kerry Owens (Jenny at Highland Sky 40 and Kerry at MMT in 2005). What message is Clark/Horton sending this time? I'm not certain, but I do know that I am honored to wear #51...and now I will forget all about it.

My prediction for the women? Krissy, Donna, and Sabrina will duke it out for the top-3 and then the rest of us will follow with my friends Jenny, Kerry, and Rebekah leading the pack that I also hope to be in...looking forward to running with you, chicas!!! This race will be one of attrition, and as I learned at MMT, you can be a decent 50-miler runner and truly suck at 100s. Everyone who is coming to Gstone is fit...the outcome will depend on experience, pacing, fueling, and mental toughness, especially during the last 35 miles.

I need to remember that at mile 65!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #15, September 22-28

This past weekend Rusty and I went to Evanston, Illinois on the North Shore of Chicago to attend the memorial service for his uncle, Richard "Dick" Speidel. Uncle Dick was a well-known law professor who taught at UVA, Boston University and Northwestern University Law Schools. Sadly, he succumbed to cancer on September 6. The Speidels gathered in Evanston to pay our respects to this wonderful, sweet man, and the service was held at the Northwestern University Chapel (that's the view from NU of downtown Chicago, above).

My bro-in-law Andy and I managed to short, flat 5 mile run along the shores of Lake Michigan on Saturday afternoon near the NU campus. It is a gorgeous campus and I was able to check out the NU women's lacrosse field, which is right on Lake Michigan---they have won the national championship for the last 4 years...pretty amazing! It was fun to catch up with Andy and hear about his ultra training...he is attempting his first ultra, the Stone Steps 50K in Cincinnati, on October 18. Like many first timers, he is experiencing some ITB issues as he ramps up the training---keep icing and stretching that ITB, Andy!

Thomas Bussiere asked me about my fuel plan for Gstone on last week's post, which was great timing because I was beginning to gather all my nutrition stuff this week. Tomorrow night my coach Mark Lorenzoni and my ortho doc Bob Wilder are hosting a panel discussion on the art and science of tapering at Ragged Mountain Running Shop, so I am going to buy my fuels when I go hear the talk. I am fairly certain that I have the tapering thing down, but it will be good to hear other opinions and catch up with all the local runners who are tapering for their fall marathons.

For Gstone, I am sticking to the fuel plan that has worked so well for me over the past 3 years: start out with a 20 oz. bottle of Sustained Energy sport drink and about 30 oz. of water in my Nathan pack. Temperatures on Friday night are supposed to be in the 30s on the ridges, so I won't need to haul around a ton of water. I do like to carry a hand held Garmin light in addition to my Petzl Myo XP headlamp, so both hands will be tied up, but I have trained and raced with handhelds my entire ultra career, so it won't be a problem.

As for other fuel, I will carry a 5-serving flask of Raspberry Hammergel and have additional flasks in my crew box. I will also carry Sportbeans, a few chocolate and mocha Clif shots, as well as Clif Bloks for variety. At each AS, I will alternate between SE and Nuun in the bottle and keep plain water in my pack. Other essentials I will carry will be a small blister kit, my Nuun tabs, a few Vivarin caffeine pills, and my trusty Ipod shuffle. I plan to plug into the shuffle at the first sign of sleepiness---this worked wonders at Cheat Mountain 50-- and use the caffeine pills only as a last resort.

My crew box is a clear plastic box that will hold additional flasks of Hammergel, Nuun, and SE mix, as well as Desitin and Vaseline for chaffing, blister stuff, and candied ginger for stomach issues. I also re-stocked it yesterday with extra AA batteries (I will carry some as well), an extra hand held bottle, as well as gloves, socks, beanie, and jacket. I am VERY psyched about the weather forecast: sunny and clear with highs in the low 70s and 40s at night. This is perfect weather for me---no excuses about the heat!!

As for this week's taper, I managed about 30 miles of easy running mixed in with my last killer track workout:

Monday, September 22:

Tuesday, September 23: Lift

Wednesday, September 24:
Track workout. 1.5 miles easy WU, than 6x 800 on the track, then off the track for a 800 meter hill surge in between each track 800. My track 800s were 3:15, 3:12, 3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:09; my hill 800s were 3:10, 3:10, 3:10, 3:11, 3:05, 3:06. I was PSYCHED with how these felt. Afterwards, I switched to my trail shoes and ran an easy mile over the the power lines on the Rivanna Trail. Here I ran 4 repeats up the power lines: 1:05, 1:04, 1:03, and :56, my fastest repeat ever! (I was telling myself that I had better break a minute on this freaking hill since I had been training on it all summer!). Total miles after running back to my car, about 11.

Thursday, September 25: OFF

Friday, September 26: Easy 5 miles on hilly roads and trails, lift afterwards.

Saturday, September 27: Easy 5 miler along Lake Michigan on trails with Andy. FLAT and fun to people watch. Keith Knipling told me he would run these trails and roads when he was a grad student at NU, and that by February it would get very old (and cold, with the winds whipping off the lake...BRRR). This day we had a cloudless sky and temps in the 70s. Gorgeous.

Sunday, September 28: 8 miles on rolling dirt with 3 miles at tempo pace (about 7:25). It was hot and humid back in C'Ville...looking forward to cooler weather!

5 more days until Gstone! My plan this week is to rest today (Monday), run easy Tuesday and Wednesday, get lots of sleep all week, eat well, and pack a little bit each day so I am not stressing out Thursday night. I appreciate all the comments about this blog and hope that it has been somewhat interesting/helpful for readers who are training for their own adventures!! I have enjoyed sharing my training ups and downs with everyone and it has kept me accountable. I will be sure to post a report as soon as I can...Gstone will be having a live webcast beginning at 6:00 pm on Friday. My basic plan is to run really slow and easy for the first 50 miles, and then pick up the pace as much as I am able for the second half without killing myself. I am confident in my training, and I know my crew and pacer will keep me in line :-)

I am looking forward to this awesome adventure and seeing everyone on Friday afternoon. Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone...I really appreciate them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #14, September 15-21

Secluded Farm Trails

Oh, how I love the taper!!!
I sleep more, eat more, and begin to plan for race logistics. This week I allowed myself plenty of rest after the tough workouts from last week, and it was a good thing. The weather is starting to cool off now, leaves are falling, and running seems effortless, almost too easy---is that my training or just the cooler fall temps? I hope it's the former, though I certainly don't mind the latter. The 14-day forecast looks like race day will be sunny, lows in the 50s (40s on the ridges) and highs near 80 (low 70s on the ridges). Perfect!

This week was very easy, total mileage in the high-30s, which is fine. I feel very prepared and would like to come into the race very hungry to run, and feeling recovered from the past 14 weeks:

Monday, September 15: Off, sleep late

Tuesday, September 16: Lift upper body and core

Wednesday, September 17: WU 10 minutes, then 2x 2 miles on rolling dirt at tempo pace (7:20) with 2 minutes recovery between, then 30 minutes easy. Total miles, about 8.

Thursday, September 18: Swim 500, run in pool to shake out legs

Friday, September 19: Easy 1.5 hour trail run near my house with my dog, HR below 120. Miles, about 7.

Saturday, September 20: Medium paced trail run with Ryan Henry and Jeff Wilbur on the Rivanna Trail and Ragged Mountain Reservoir trails, 2.5 hours (about 15 miles). Ryan is training for Gstone and he told me his biggest fear is that I will beat him. Have no fear, Ryan! You are in great shape. Have confidence in the training you did all spring and in your 10+ years of running ultras :-) If you start out slow with me, you will have a great race, I promise.

Sunday, September 21: Glorious cool morning! I ran the Carter's Mountain/Secluded Farm trails (above and below) with Bill. I felt great and ran up to the top in my fastest time ever, 12:01. This climb is a steep grade on dirt road which I typically run in 12:30-13:00. The downhill is a real quad trasher and my legs felt great, especially after the harder hill climbs. I absolutely love these trails! After climbing the mountain, we ran the 2-mile boardwalk section all the way to Monticello, then back down to the Secluded Farm Trails for more singletrack fun. Total miles, about 8ish.

Later in the day, we (the family) went back up to Carter's Mountain to buy apples, apple cider, doughnuts, and to soak in the gorgeous afternoon views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is one of our favorite family traditions...we have been coming up to Carter's for apples and hay rides ever since the kids were babies. Afterwards, Rusty drove the kids home while I walked down the mountain with Jack via the Secluded Farm trails, about 3 miles. Jack met another Aussie Shepherd on the trail and had a blast playing in the woods (that's him below at 3 months...he's a year old now and much bigger!)

A side note...I thought I'd celebrate the beginning of the Gstone taper phase with a new blog design and layout. I love the blue and green colors and the ability to post pics on the sidebar, too. I lost some of my links in the process of changing over to the new layout, so please send me your links so I can include them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Grindstone Training, Week #13, September 8-14

Reality check!!

Now that school has started, it was tough to find the energy and time to get in my miles this week. I am up at 5:15 am making lunches for the kids and out the door by 6:00am to get to the trail or gym so I can be ready to roll at work by 8:00am...a tight schedule. Luckily, I am not coaching this season so when I get home at 4:00, I can take a 15-minute nap before getting back in the car to pick up the kids at their sports practices. The nap has been a constant throughout this training cycle, and I truly believe it helps my recovery and overall wellness. I feel sorry for my students who look like they could use a nap every afternoon with their really busy schedules!

Here's the week, the last of the sharpening phase. Next week I will taper the miles about 25% to 45 miles, but still include a hilly tempo run, a hill repeat day and a long-ish run.

Monday, September 8: 6 miles on dirt with 10x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy.

Tuesday, September 9: Swim 500 and lift upper body and core.

Wednesday, September 10: 11 miles on rolling roads and technical trail with Bill. This was a hill fartlek workout. We warmed up for 15 minutes, then ran 45 minutes pushing every hill and recovering on the backsides. I finished with 3 powerlines repeats (1:07, 1:05, 1:04) and then another 45 minutes of easy running.

Thursday, September 11: Easy recovery run, 4+ miles. Lifted afterwards focusing on core strength.

Friday, September 12: Easy hilly run on Ohill, 6+ miles, HR below 130.

Saturday, September 13: 14 miles on roads with 10K race in the middle. I ran 2 miles from my house to the start of the Pepsi 10K, a race I had not run since 2000. The race director, Carol Finch, is a longtime Charlottesville Track Club volunteer and she is battling lung cancer. I came to support Carol, along with 400 other runners (the largest field ever) as well as the race beneficiary, the Special Olympics.

My plan for today was not to race all-out, but to use it as a hard tempo run and to maintain 7:00-7:10 pace (the last time I raced a road 10K was here in 2000, when I ran 43:10, a little under 7:00 pace). Since the weather was very humid, I knew I would have to start out slowly. Here are my mile splits:

Mile 1: 7:23 Feeling great, almost too easy (this mile is all downhill)
Mile 2: 6:55 Feeling happy here as I have passed a bunch on this all-hill mile back to the start!
Mile 3: 6:55 Picking off some folks and holding steady---this is a slight downhill.
Mile 4: 7:00 Holding steady but starting to feel the humidity. Moving into top-5 women.
Mile 5: 7:00 Running alongside some UVA women's lacrosse players (their entire team ran the race). This was cool. I played lax at UVA about 25 years ago. :-)
Mile 6.2: Not sure of the split, only that I worked hard to pass a woman about 5 yards before the finish, something I would only do at a road 10K!!!

Final time: 43:25, 15 seconds slower than 2000. This is 7:01 per mile pace...not too bad considering the humid weather! I ended up winning the 45-49 women's age group, too, which was fun because it is a new age group for me! Afterwards, I ran 6 miles easy back home and went to my son's XC meet. He did great considering by the time his race began at 1:30, temps were in the high 80s with loads of humidity. Not a good day to be out racing.

Sunday: OK, this was the REAL reality check. Kerry, Bill Gentry, Ed Duval, Marc Griffin, Vince Bowman, and I ran 20 miles on the Grindstone 100 course. We were also accompanied by Renee Dietrich, who is an NYU journalism grad student working on a movie-length documentary on ultrarunning, and specifically the Grindstone 100. Renee hung out at the top of Elliott's Knob (mile 9ish of the course) with David Snipes, filming the gorgeous view and surroundings, while the rest of us ran to the Chimney Hollow trailhead before turning around. It was extremely hot and humid (highs in the 90s) but we had a nice breeze on ridge.

The reality check came on the way back---roughly miles 85-95 of the Gstone course-- when we had to climb back towards Elliott's Knob after climbing the brutal ups on Crawford Mountain. Kerry and I discussed race pace strategy given all the climbing --the smart runner will run the first 50 at training run pace, nice and slow-- caught up on each other's lives, and had a great time enjoying the trail at an easy pace, since Kerry had run the Ring last weekend and was still recovering. But it was clear to us that this section will be extremely tough in the dark and after 80 miles of running. It is the most technical and rocky section section of the race, and ends with a quad busting descent down Elliott's. Very, very humbling.

Total miles for the week ended up being 60+ miles...I am really looking forward to the taper and to some rest! It has been a fun summer of training and I am excited to see how it will all come together during the race, and am glad to have been able to get out on the course. We agreed that this is going to be a very cool adventure...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Getting faster, getting psyched: Grindstone Training, Week #12, September 1-7

Four weeks and counting until race day!

I came away from last weekend's training run on the Gstone course feeling really good and absolutely LOVING the trail. I met a nice fellow named Keith Straw at that run...he finished WS100 in 2007 (a "cool" year, as he described it) in under 24 hours, and he told me he was concerned that Grindstone would be harder than WS. I told him that Gstone would most definitely be harder in terms of climb...and also because we might have hot and humid weather, as opposed to the typically hot and dry conditions of the Sierra Nevada. Keith, by the way, is featured in the October Runner's World as the guy who wears a pink tutu, pink Sauconys and carries a magic wand in all his races (he finished Boston this year in 3:12). Perhaps he will share some of his magic with me should I encounter him at Gstone...

Someone asked me what my time goals were for Gstone...and to be honest, all I want to do is finish (I know, that's what we all say). However, it would be *nice* to run faster at Gstone than in my previous two 100-milers: at MMT in 2005, I ran 31:45 and at WS in 2006 I ran 29:15. Both efforts came with significant issues...at MMT I did not fuel properly and bonked terribly; at WS, I fueled properly but ignored my feet until it was too late, and running was impossible after mile 62. My goal for Grindstone is to pace myself properly (slow), eat and drink at regular intervals, tend to foot issues promptly, deal with sleepiness promptly, and the rest, I feel, will take care of itself. My training has gone really well and all I can ask for is the strength and courage to deal with the low moments as they come (and, as we know, they will come).

I am putting together an awesome crew and I know my pacer is going to keep me in line...it's going to be a blast out there!! This next week will be the last of the sharpening phase, and then it's on to the TAPER...woooo-hooo!

This week:

Monday, September 1: Easy run on single track, 2.5 hours (about 12 miles, I think).

Tuesday, September 2: Swim 1,000 easy and lift

Wednesday, September 3: Track. 2 miles WU, then 800/hill, 1200/hill, 1200/hill, 1200/hill, 800/hill. This is the third time I've done the track/hill workout this summer, and this was my best yet: Splits were 3:15/6:30, 4:55/8:15, 4:49/8:12, 4:49/8:11, 3:10/6:25. I then ran 2 easy miles to the power lines and did 1:02, 1:03 and 1:02...fastest yet. Then 2 miles back to the car for 10 miles total. Schweeeet!!!

Thursday, September 4: Lift upper body, core

Friday, September 5: Carter's Mountain. I repeated the route I used a few weeks ago, climbing up to the top, down to Monticello, back up, then down to the trails around Secluded Farm. 10 miles total, HR staying in the 120-135 range, nice and easy.

Saturday, September 6:
My son had his first cross-country meet...pouring rain from Hurricane Hanna, knee deep standing water on the course...he LOVED it. He clocked a 23-something for 5K, very solid for a kid who couldn't run more than a mile about a month ago. Rusty and I are very excited to be XC parents!

Later in the day, I took Jack (my Aussie)on an easy trail run near our house and for a swim in the river, 5 miles total.

Sunday, September 7: 16 miles on rolling dirt and pavement with 6 miles at 7:20 pace (tempo pace). This was a toughie---I got a late start and it was humid. Yechh. But I was pleased with the tempo and looking forward to running a road 10K next weekend as part of a 14 miler. Total miles for the week, about 53.

Ring update: Keith Knipling (above, between RingLeaders Mike Bur and Quatro Hubbard) cruised to a course record 14:45 for 71 miles, two weeks after finishing third at Cascade Crest 100. I predict Keith will win Grindstone if he can hold off Krissy M.!

Ring 2008 results are here. Congratulations to the new members of the Fellowship!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Ring is running this weekend, hurricane rain or shine

(photo collage of the 2004 Ring by Anstr Davidson)Group photo L-R kneeling: Carolyn Gernand, Sue Johnston, Scott Brockmeier: L-R standing: Quatro Hubbard, Bill Wandel, Mike Bur,James Moore, Barb Isom, Bob Phillips, Vicki Kendall, Anita Finkle, Sophie Speidel,Graham Zollman, Dru Sexton,Margie Hughes, Scott Crabb and Sue Thompson.

In 2004 I ran The Ring, a 71-mile circuit of the Massanutten Trail. It was my first ultra longer than 50 miles, and my first night run of any great length. 2004 was the third year of the organized run ("organized" is a loose term---the Ring is a classic Fat Ass with no entry fee, no T-shirts, no wimps and no whining...well, actually there's LOTS of whining). The Ring exemplifies all that I love about the VHTRC ultras--it's a community of friends coming together to create a challenging trail experience with no other motive except to support the runners to the finish, and party like heck in the process.

Some fine folks in the VHTRC conceived the Ring, and Mike Bur and Quatro Hubbard are now responsible for keeping it healthy and prosperous. This year, the Ring closed out entry at 25, and the list of The Fellowship of the Ring is a Who's Who of the ultra world and of the VHTRC ultra community in particular.

My son has a cross-country meet this weekend, so I cannot go up to the Massanuttens to cheer on the runners, but I certainly will be thinking of them, and of the intense experience they will have. The Ring is an ultra that helped define me as an ultrarunner. My first lessons on nutrition, sleep deprivation, proper pacing, and rock running were gleaned at the Ring. I also learned a lot about friendship and commitment, and what it took to overcome my demons. A mantra I like to repeat while racing comes from my 2004 Ring experience: "It's always darkest before the dawn." Yes, indeed.

Happy trails to the members of the Fellowship and to those attempting the Ring this weekend!