Let's Get Lost
Have you sat in quiet envy while a friend or coworker talked about making a life change to pursue their dream? Or maybe, it was a fellow running buddy talking about attacking, and accomplishing a new goal. It’s easy to make excuses. Maybe you’re too busy with work, school, kids or life. Maybe it’s not a good time. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
It’s never a good time. It will never be a good time. When you let fear control your life and decisions, the perfect time will never come.
What scares you the most? I’m scared of failure. The idea of falling flat on my face terrifies me. I loathe making mistakes. Each time I do I beat myself up until I walk out emotionally bloody and bruised, chastising myself for each wrong turn I’ve made. Do you do the same thing? I hope not, but from my experience, I know I’m not alone.
Overcoming your fears is easier than you think. In this next series of posts, I’m going to discuss the steps you can take to overcome your fears and take the leap towards achieving the goals you’ve dreamed of. Starting now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not once the kids are out of the house.
Right. Now. You ready? Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Figure out what you really want
This sounds silly. You know exactly what you want, right? Honestly, probably not. Sit down and write out a list of your goals. Is it running an impossibly fast personal record? Shaving off 10, 20 or even 50 pounds? Are you looking at completely reevaluating your life?
Until you clearly define your goals, you’re far from accomplishing them.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? That’s okay! It’s part of the process. Start setting aside personal time every day, be it five minutes or an hour, to think about what you really want and to journal. This doesn’t have to be a piece for the New York Times or an essay, it’s an informal practice you can use to start to process your feelings and desires.
Let your feelings come and go. Anger, frustration, sadness and elation are all just part of the process. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’ve got a host of emotions you’ve been pushing down and avoiding. Not only is this unhealthy, but it also can lead to stress and extra frustration you don’t need in your life.
This is the first step in letting go of the excess junk clouding your vision. Over time, you’ll be left with a clearer mind, which will in turn will help you decide what you really want.
When you develop this list, shoot for the stars. Don’t limit yourself. Write out your goals, despite whether or not you think they’re possible.
Take some time to practice this strategy. In my next post, I’ll focus on Step 2, which is how to overcome your doubts.
Do you have strategies for clearly defining your goals? I’d love to hear them. Share below in the comments.
Hamsterwheel 6 Hour: Race Report
Date: November 4th, 2017
Location: New Boston, NH
Distance: 4 Mile Loop
Cutoff: 6 Hours, 12 Hours, 24 Hours
Difficulty: 1.1/5 <-I added an extra 0.1 for the Hamster Hill.
I’ve been on a bit of a timed event kick lately, and this past weekend was no exception. My partner and I decided to sign up for the Hamster Wheel 6 Hour so we could each squeeze in a long run before crewing for his mother who was running the 24 Hour. I crewed the event last year while the two of them ran the 12 Hour and was excited to get out and see the course.
We ended up staying at the Jack Daniels Inn, located about 30 minutes away from the event start. They offered breakfast in the morning and had a discount for race participants. It can drop into the 30s at night in November, I wouldn’t recommend camping unless you handle cold weather well.
At 8:00AM we pulled into the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds and meandered towards packet pickup. This is a pretty small event with only 70 runners between all three times so we weren’t worried about lines. After receiving our race swag (a pillow case which I mistook for a white flag), we laid out our tarps and began preparing for the event.
When we took off, I recognized a few folks from Ghost Train two weeks earlier. My legs weren’t quite 100% so I hung back and took it easy. The majority of the folks on the course were chatty and friendly. To begin, runners head out on a gravel/dirt trail for 1.5 miles. At the turn-around, there is a water jug. Next, runners head back for 1.5 miles and then head up the infamous “Hamster Hill” which magically grows with each lap.
After a gentle descent, runners complete the four-mile loop before deciding whether to head out again. The course boasts one aid station at the start/finish. Even if you’re power walking you shouldn’t need a hydration pack for this one. The weather ranged this year between the low-30s and the mid-50s. If you’re settling in for an overnight run, bring layers. The cool weather can take its toll.
Although the terrain is relatively flat (aside from the Hamster Hill), the trail portion of the course has several divots and holes. I accidentally stepped in one of these on my last lap and luckily missed a rolled ankle. This is probably because I stopped paying attention to where I was going. After that incident I decided my long run was done for the day and called it quits after 20 miles.
Trail shoes probably aren’t necessary for this terrain, anything too luggy would be uncomfortable. I used a Salomon crossover shoe but probably would have been fine in Asics.
One neat feature of the Hamster Wheel is that runners can go out for their last lap all the way up to their finishing time. That is, if you come in at 5:58, you can go out for another lap. This prevents folks who finish just after their time cutoff from having their last bonus lap not count.
I highly recommend this event. It’s reasonably priced, well run and has a friendly crowd. The course has the potential to be FAST as its mostly flat. I admit I didn’t sample any of the aid station fair but with only 20 miles under my belt I didn’t really need much fuel. From what I heard the aid stations were well stocked and had an ample supply.
At the start/finish it’s easy to find a piece of real estate close to the course. We set up just upwind of the port-a-lets. This is very convenient as crew doesn’t need to run back and forth to try to track down runners.
Will you be running the Hamster Wheel next year? If so, I hope to see you there! Did you run it this year? Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear them.
Date: October 21st, 2017
Location: Brookline, MA
Distance: 15 Mile Out and Back
Cutoff: 30 Hours… How long will you ride the ghost train?
Ghost train is a deceptively difficult event for those who make their home in the inclines. The continuous flat course makes it easy to start out way too fast and burn out early. This is true for every flat event though. If you’re considering giving this one a place in your 2018 roster, throw in some flat training to make sure you’ll have the best chance of achieving your goals.
I signed up for Ghost Train in January, 2017. I didn’t make it in off the waitlist until August, 2017. Don’t be deterred by a long wait in line. A lot of folks sign up VERY early to secure a spot, and then back out later due to other commitments. This year, everyone made it in from the waitlist.
Originally, I thought Ghost Train was going to be my first 100-mile finish. I did the training. I packed appropriately. I did everything right. And then, on race day, my stomach turned against me.
I’ve struggled with food allergies and intolerances for years. Unfortunately, in the days leading up to the race, I ingested something my body decided it didn’t like. I spent the entire first lap struggling to the port-a-lets… I even ran into the woods when I couldn’t make it.
After the first 15 miles I started to struggle with the realization that I might not make it through the full 100. I couldn’t keep food down. I had barely consumed 500 calories that morning, and during the run to that point I could barely stomach my usual tailwind and waffles. I thought about quitting.
Things picked up on the second lap. All runners will in high spirits. I chatted with runners as we made our way down the out and back, made funny faces at my crew, and blew smooches at my boyfriend as he glided by. I let myself dream of finishing the 100.
Until the third lap. The continuous flat terrain began to take its toll. I longed for the lone hill in the course for a reprieve. I began to reflect on my training regimen and realized that nearly every long run I had done in the past several months had been on hilly terrain. I still couldn’t keep anything down other than baked potatoes.
Aside: I am eternally grateful for those little baked potatoes and the volunteers that served them. Thank you.
I started to face the hard truth. My body was slowing down. Without proper nutrition, there was no way I was going to be able to take down a full 100. As I started to wrap up my third lap, I noticed the volunteers making their way to light the famous pumpkins on the course. I vowed to see the pumpkins lit and set out for a fourth lap.
After 60 miles, I called it quits. My hands were shaking from a lack of nutrition. I debated walking it out for the final 40 but decided it wasn’t worth it. I would barely make the cut-off at a walking pace, and that was if I could keep pushing without food in my stomach.
Ghost train has the potential to be a really fast course. If you’re making a transition from roads to trails, this is a great stepping stone. I especially like the no pressure of the timed event. Once you complete 15 miles, you are considered a finisher. Everything beyond that is a bonus.
This course also has the potential to be a great first 100-mile. Runners and walkers alike can take down the distance easily in the 30-hour cutoff. Keep in mind: it DOES get cold at night. Bring warm clothes and a change of base layer. Consider a pack or carry cold weather clothing on your lap when the sun goes down. The temperature starts dropping fast, especially when you start slowing down.
Did you ride the Ghost Train? How long did you last? Share in the comments below! I would love to hear them!
Date: September 16th, 2017
Price: $105 <- Discounted if you register early!
Location: Summerfield, NC
Distance: 1 Mile Loop
Cutoff: None, any distance you want!
Every year on a weekend close to my birthday I run an event. This year was no exception. After extensive digging, I found the link to the Doggettville 12 Hour Ultra Run and Relay. I’m happy I registered when I did – the field is limited to 30 ultrarunners. The rest of the spots are reserved for relay folks.
After over a month of dirtbagging and moving across the country, my partner and I were a little strapped for cash. We decided to get up at 3 a.m. and drive the 3.5 hours from Hendersonville to Summerfield the morning of the event.
Yes, I know, he either loves me very much or is somewhat insane. I think it’s a combination of both.
When we pulled into the grass parking area, we had 20 minutes to get our things together, check in, and get to the start. Naturally, my partner started to panic while I laughed uncontrollably. We have a healthy relationship, I promise.
We gathered our things, set up shop on an old trailer and moseyed over to the start just in time for the race briefing. Apparently, the entire race is done on a family farm. Within the first several hundred yards, the group ran past his children cheering at the end of the driveway.
I started chatting with a young woman whose name I can’t remember. It wasn’t until she bowed out for her next relay person to hop in that I realized I had already covered three miles. The time was flying by.
I was thoroughly impressed by the change in scenery and terrain. The course, though only a one-mile loop, covered small sections of pavement, gravel road, a pine-needle path and wide-open grass. From the beginning I walked on the small hill on the backside of the course.
Each time my partner passed me, he was running with a different person, chatting away. Naturally I blew kisses and tried my best to embarrass him the best I could. Needless to say, we had a blast.
Timed events have the potential to be either extremely boring or loads of fun – it all depends on the people. Doggettville, I am happy to say, was the latter. Every person on the course was friendly, chatty and supportive. Even though this is a little event and pretty far away, I’m keeping on my radar.
My partner and I ended up bowing out of the event after four hours. We had decided the night before that I was going to move to New York with him on Monday, which meant we needed to MOVE ALL OF OUR THINGS AGAIN across the country. I decided it was best not to burn out and then try to move an ultramarathon’s worth of furniture on sore legs.
If you’re looking for a small-town event with a lot of fun people, come check this one out. Well it doesn’t have the breathtaking views of Monument Valley or Park City, it’s got a host of kind people and a potentially fast course if you’re looking for a new P.R.
Have you fallen into the trap of relentlessly comparing yourself to other runners? Be it on Strava, Social Media, or race results themselves, it’s hard to resist the temptation to see how we measure up with our fellow runners.
Don’t do it.
Your goals and your body are your own. Odds are, you have different needs and are at a different place in your training than the person you’re comparing yourself to. Respect yourself and respect the goals of others by steering clear of the comparison monster and leaning in to support and encouragement.
See what I did there? Replace a negative with a positive. You got this.
Comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression. Odds are, you don’t have time for that in your busy schedule.
Take a Social Media or Strava break if it helps. Excessive social media usage has been linked to depression. Stepping away from the constant reminders of what your social and virtual networks are doing might be the breather you need to tackle that P.R. in your next event.
Remember, you set out on your running journey for personal reasons. Write them down and reflect on them daily. Take a moment to re-calibrate and let the doubts and negativity go.
Social Networks, Strava, and all other running tools are meant to be helpful forms of tracking workouts and providing inspiration, not sources of stress or anxiety. If you’re experiencing these feelings, it’s probably time to step back and take a rest week.
After all, they’re part of every good training plan.
Have you experienced the comparison monster first hand? What about Strava stress? Share in the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!
It’s the night before race day. You’re trained. You’ve tapered. You’ve eaten well. You’re packed.
But you’re still freaking out.
What’s the deal?
This all-too-common scenario has hit me more times that I can count; before goal events AND before events that I plan to use as training runs.
So, how did I move past it?
I like to meditate regularly, and the night before a huge race is no different. I clear my mind of clutter by focusing on steady nostril breathing. Each inhale and each exhale takes about 6 seconds. I let thoughts come and go. After about 15 minutes, I feel calmer and more relaxed.
2. Let it go
Remember that bad training run two weeks ago? Let it go. Or that hill workout where each quad wanted to break off and die a slow death only 1/3 of the way up? Let it go.
A work out is just that. Another work out. Pain is a part of the process. You will have good and bad days; that is part of life. Try not to beat yourself up about it, ESPECIALLY the night before an event.
3. SMILE :D :D :D
Seriously. Smile. Laugh. Joke around. Ask your pacer to tickle your ribs until tears are streaming down your face. Laughter releases tension. Smiling can actually TRICK YOUR BRAIN into thinking you are happy. Not convinced? Try it. What do you have to lose?
4. Avoid Experimentation
The night before your first 100 Mile race is NOT the time to try out that new pizza joint up the road from your apartment. Stick to what you KNOW has worked in the past. This will set you up for success and improve your confidence.
5. Enjoy it
You trained HARD. You have been counting down to this day for 20+ weeks. So enjoy it! The race is your
reward for the havoc you have put your body through.
How do you calm the pre-race nerves? Any tips, trips, or recommendations? Please share below, I would love to hear them.
Along with running, I really enjoy doing yoga. I have found that it helps me keep my mind clear, stretch out sore muscles, and build core and upper body strength in a way that I enjoy. Cue the Down Dog App.
I came across this app when I was searching for an alternative to paying 100+ dollars a month for yoga membership at a studio. While I thoroughly enjoyed taking the classes and working with the instructors, I could not justify the expenses at that point in my life and severed the membership. So naturally I began the hunt for an alternative to continue my practice.
After trying a variety of YouTube videos and becoming very frustrated, I stumbled across the Down Dog App. For the first two weeks users are able to try out the Pro version of the app to see how they liked it; from there, they would have the option of accessing the pro version through a paid membership ($50/Year) OR using the basic version for free.
There are four different types of practices that users can choose from including short, full, quick flow, and restorative. Users can then choose their skill level, ranging from beginner to advanced, with several intermediate options in between, and the amount of time they wish to practice in ten-minute increments. The Pro version has the option to listen to different types of music and includes a variety of ‘boosts’, including aerobic options, back strength, flexibility, core, etc.
I started out using the basic free version of the app, but quickly grew bored doing the same routines time and time again. I ended up upgrading the pro-version for $50/Year in order to have more options to choose from.
I highly recommend giving this app a shot if you enjoy practicing yoga or are looking for an alternative for active recovery/work-out options. On that note, I do realize that yoga for the beginner can be VERY intimidating, ESPECIALLY if you have never done it before. In these instances, it is always nice to attend a couple of classes to get the hands-on instruction to avoid injuries and to get the maximum benefit from the poses.
Here are a few options for free/affordable classes to check out:
One of the tried and true methods that I have used to recover quickly after a long, tough event or training run is dragging my butt out of bed and running the next day. I use the term run loosely here. Imagine hobbling with a bit less grace.
I started running the day after events in 2010, when I saw a man running the day after the Walt Disney Marathon. I was stunned that someone could move their body with that much ease after the painstaking trial we had put ourselves through the day before. That night, I dragged my friend with me to the gym and I struggled away on the treadmill. It was brutal and every step hurt worse than the last five miles of the marathon. I forced myself through two miles before calling it quits.
Surprisingly, the next day, some of the residual soreness was gone and I found that I could move better. After a couple of days of forced running I was back to moving normally during the day. I was pleased and quickly changed my routine to include active recovery.
After EXTREMELY hard events or training runs, I have used walking as a form of active recovery combined with light restorative yoga. In my next post, I’ll walk you through one of my favorite (free!) yoga apps that I use regularly at home.
Please keep in mind, active recovery is NOT for everyone. If you have a mechanical injury after an event, you probably should consider seeing your doctor and steering clear of running. A mechanical injury can usually be distinguished from muscle soreness by sharp, shooting pains rather than general overall fatigue and discomfort.
Other recovery best practices to implement:
Date: August 13th, 2017
Time: 4:00AM *Cue pained expression*
Location: Phoenicia, NY
Distance: 100K and 100K Relay (Starts later)
Cutoff: 15.5 Hours
Difficulty: 3/5 (For the road camber)
When I would run out of things to do at my old job I would relentlessly troll Ultrasignup looking for events to run. Usually, if the price and location were correct, I would register for events based solely on the photos without reading the course descriptions.
Think of it like Russian Roulette, only for your quads. This was one such event... I didn't even realize it was on roads until my boyfriend told me. *face palm* He also told me he would crew for me too because I needed to provide my own since there were no aid stations... *face palm again*
Fast forward to the night before the event. We were both burnt out and dead tired after driving across the country in approximately four days, visiting my Grandmother, and crewing all day at the Sweltering Summer event for his Momma. At about 7:30 PM we had finished packing the car with what I needed and prepared to drive to my boyfriend's sister's place in the Catskills where she had graciously given us permission to stay.
Naturally I slept for the entire car ride down because I am a kind and wonderful person. To my credit, I did help set up the air mattress.
My alarm went off at 2:00AM. I nearly did not get out of bed. After some prodding, I managed to force my boyfriend out of bed. We dressed and made oatmeal before heading out.
On the drive down I struggled to eat the oatmeal. Something about the texture or bland flavor didn't agree with me. With each bite I nearly vomited. I managed about five bites before I gave up and set it on the floor of the truck. The monster energy drink went down well though.
We arrived at the start with half an hour to spare. I collected my items and started snacking on some chips and pretzels I had save for aid station food. These were taken away from me promptly. My hydration pack was nearly crusted over with sweat from multiple long runs out west with no washing. It crunched when I put it on to carry my snacks. It smelled pretty rank too.
I vowed to make it a good day.
The race director rallied the forces and all 21 of us toed the spray painted line on the pavement. Unceremoniously we were off. After about a mile I was dead last, watching the headlamps of the other runners fade ahead of me. I figured either the runners ahead of me were super fast or very poor at pacing. It turned out to be a combination of both. At mile 3, my headlamp started flickering. So naturally, I started snacking.
My boyfriend was kind enough to help me through the first bit of confusing turns and twists. The race director had kindly marked the pavement, which helped greatly in the directions. I cruised along in my last place standing, panicking a bit that I might be grossly over the cutoff. By about the 30K mark I realized I was ahead of where I needed to be by at least 45 minutes. I had only passed one other runner at this point and was still a bit nervous, so I kept pushing through.
The views were pretty on this stretch, but the traffic was a bit frightening. Some of the cars would ride the white line on the side of the road. I lost every game of chicken we played. My boyfriend kept stopping for me every couple of miles or so, and soon I felt fat and swollen from drinking too much tailwind. I started running past him when he was pulled over at times to avoid the temptation of grabbing another bottle.
The hardest part of the course, other than the road camber, was the hill near the 45K mark or so. It climbed about 1,000 feet. After this, the course was light and rolling.
At 70K IT GOT HOT. Luckily, we had ice in the cooler which we tucked into a buff around my neck. This helped greatly. At this point, quite a few runners were faltering. We shared Ice with another lady who immediately perked up and took off, leaving me in the dust.
My boyfriend's mother stopped by to visit and crew as well near the 80K mark. It was nice having two people as this part of the course was difficult to get to. Sometimes, she would drop him off to give me things and then pick him up later. The police were around as well giving out tickets. I nearly got hit by a few cars.
The last portion of the course had some steep downhills that tried my already sore quads. I ended up walking down and running up since this was easier for me. At the finish, I was just grateful to be done. I finished an hour and a half before the cutoff. Woot woot! And somehow ended up smack dab in the middle of the field. Yay for not being dead last!
Though the course was pretty, affordable, and conveniently located I would not run it again. The traffic was pretty frightening. There are also no aid stations which made having a crew mandatory. The road camber was tough, many of the road shoulders were eroding, which meant you had to run the edge of the sloped road. My hips felt a bit off and I could feel it in my stride while running. This course DOES have a lot of potential to be FAST. It isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be to follow with the paint markings on the road; that being said, READ THE COURSE MANUAL. It's wordy, but it pays to know where you are going. Don't be like me and make your crew tell you where to go, haha.
If you like roads and want to fly, give it a shot! The race director, relay teams, and other participants were all very friendly and kind. It was a good experience, and I was very happy to be done.
Ah! Travels are still underway and normal posting will resume next week on Monday. :) Until then, here are a few more adventure photos. On a side note, shoot me an email if there is any content that you would like to see!
It's fine, I ran today.
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