Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wahoos and Ultrarunning

The University of Virginia Alumni magazine published a nice piece on ultrarunning in its Spring 2010 issue. The author, Lee Graves, interviewed me and Alyssa Godesky, who graduated in 2008. Lee somehow stumbled upon my blog and thought a piece focusing on our wonderful, crazy sport and the "older/younger runner" angle would be of interest---thank you, Lee!

It was humbling to read Alyssa's comments on hoping to be competitive when she is my age, because at times I find myself wishing I was back in my 20s with years of racing and PRs ahead of me, instead of being in my late 40s doing my best to stay competitive in the Masters category! But I am so glad I can be a role model for younger women who seek to be endurance athletes and still be able to have a career and a family. Of course, there is no way I could have been able to enjoy the past eight years of ultraunning without the help and ongoing support of my hubby, family, and training partners. I believe a strong support system is crucial for longevity in this sport. We need to have friends and fellow runners who share in our thirst for challenges and adventures and who say "Go for it!" every time we come up with a new goal. I've written it here before and will again: I owe so much to my people---you know who you are!

One shout out in particular goes to Mark Lundblad and the fine folks at inov-8. They had no problem sponsoring an old gal like me this year and I am eternally grateful. I have been incredibly impressed with the professional quality of their products as well as how they treat their sponsored runners and customers. My current fave inov-8 shoe is the Flyrock 284. It was somewhat of a big jump from wearing only Montrails since 2001 to the "less is more" approach on the inov-8 shoe, but I absolutely love the Flyrocks and I feel ten times faster and lighter when I am running in them. I can't wait to race hard at the Terrapin 50K in March and see if that is the case!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter adventures--indoors and out!

This past weekend we got yet another round of snow...this time, about 14 inches to add to the 3 that were still on the ground from last weekend's storm. School was canceled on Friday, before any snow had fallen, and we will be closed tomorrow as another storm is predicted. With all this white stuff, what's an ultrarunner to do? Run!

On Saturday, we needed a few items from the store (and since the power was out, I needed a huge mocha from Greenberry's). So I packed up my pack with cash, my cell phone, and snacks and some water and headed to town---about 5 miles away.

Trees were down everywhere and the snow was coming down hard, but the running was pleasant:

When I took the Rivanna Trail, the snow was up to my knees.

Alas, the power was out at Greenberry's too. Sniff.

The CVS was open, so I got our supplies and a few newspapers, and headed back home. More trees were down and conditions were pretty bad. I actually was able to run on the Rte 250 bypass, all alone with my thoughts. Not one car passed me.

When I got home, the power was still out, and would be for the next 24 hours. But we made the best of it by napping, sledding, reading, going to the movies, heating water for soup on the camping stove, and playing Battleship and Sorry! next to the fire. The next morning (Sunday) it was so cold in the house that I knew a long run in the bright sun would make me a lot warmer and happier. My wonderful hubby took the kids to town for breakfast and hot showers, and I took Jack on a 17 miler on dirt roads. It was gorgeous. The snow packed roads were perfect to run on (with Yaktrax) but the last two miles were a beast. I had taken a route home through the Tree Farm and off the road, and there was no turning back. Post holing through the snow took me almost an hour. Fortunately, the sun was high in the sky, I was warm, fed, and had plenty of water. Rusty called me on my cell to report that the power was back on, and that I could have a hot shower if I ever got home... I vowed that my next Tree Farm adventure would be with skis!

The Tree Farm is a gem... a private farm near my house with miles and miles of horse trails. The owners are very welcoming to those of us who use it quietly and discreetly for our runs and walks. There are open fields and dense woods, and plenty of wildlife to keep Jack busy. So today, under clear skies and warm sun, we set off around 4:00pm for a cross-country ski adventure, since the snow was too deep for any running or walking:


The farm woods

Looking west towards the Shenandoah National Park

Jack got really tired post holing up to his chest, but he was in heaven out there...

When the sun started to set, we headed for home, reluctantly...

More snow on tap for tomorrow, and perhaps more adventures to share...Happy Trails!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Base Building

The Ragged Mountain Reservoir trail this morning...a few hikers had beat me to it!

We got more snow on Saturday. After this morning's run around the reservoir, I am guessing we got around 7 inches, and it is still light and fluffy---not crusty and a pain to run in. I ran about ten miles, nice and easy, and had a wonderful time.

Ahhh, nice and easy runs are the best part of the base building phase of my training. I can plug into the iPod and just run without any concern for pace or speed. Trail runs in snow make it more fun and build some strength, too, especially in the hip flexors and hamstrings. I run with Jack and watch him explore the world with his nose and ears, and I run with friends and talk and laugh and we could care less about our pace--the longer we are out there, the better. I love base building!

But it's now February and my program is calling for the strengthening phase: track workouts, hill repeats, and tempo runs mixed in with 60-70 mpw. I had been doing a few of these once or twice a week during the base phase to keep the legs awake, but now I don't have the option to just run at an easy pace each day. It was nice to take a break after Hellgate but I am itching to get back into my training cycle for Terrapin and that's always a good sign. The snowfall will no doubt force me to get creative with the speedwork, but fortunately I have some company during this training cycle.

Bill is training for his first Boston, a R2R2R of the Grand Canyon in May, and Western States in June---wooo-hooo! We are going to have fun getting him ready for those adventures!

Hallie is gearing up for her first ultra race at Terrapin 50K (having run 27 miles at Martha Moats back in August). Hallie is "game" for anything---she ran 13 miles in 30 degree rain in the Massanuttens a few weeks ago and said "it was fun!" This girl (a mom of three) has got what it takes!

Eliza is running her first trail race, the Terrapin Half-Marathon. She is also a mom of three and is so strong and unfazed by trails, I seriously believe she will win that race outright. Watch out boys, you read it here first!

I have always been lucky to have my VHTRC peeps to meet for a long run on the weekends, but I am super psyched to have this fast posse to train with in the dark weekday mornings. Here we go!