Team Nuun
February 5, 2017

nuun

Have I told you how much I love Nuun?

First, let’s clear the air…It is pronounced “noon.” Like the time of day, not like the woman wearing a black and white habit.

Now, let me set the basis for my “expertise” on Nuun. I have been the using the product for almost as long as it has been around. I was introduced to Nuun by a good friend within about a year of the company’s genesis, which was not long after I had started running again after 12+ year hiatus. From the first drop of my first tab into water, I was hooked.

I love the light flavors of Nuun. Nuun makes my water refreshing without being the syrupy, sugary overload of most sports drinks. It takes my water to the next level with electrolytes, as well as vitamins, caffeine, or carbohydrates depending on what flavor and style you get.

With Nuun, I have had the opportunity to run a bucket list race, Hood To Coast. I have connected with an impressive variety of athletes of all abilities and all kinds of sports. I have had the opportunity to meet the staff and CEO (that’s Chief Electrolyte Officer!) at the company, and I can vouch that they are amazing people, who truly believe in the product and have a passion for doing good in sport, hydration, the environment, and the world. I don’t know another hydration or other athletic product company that truly cares about and connects with their fans and athletes like Nuun does.

Not only have I been using Nuun for over a decade, but I have also been a member of Team Nuun and a Nuun Ambassador since 2013. And this year, I was selected again to be a member of Team Nuun, but I also became a part of the Nuun Legacy Program. Basically this means, I am one of their “senior ambassadors” and have shown my “nuun love” for many years. Once again, Nuun goes above and beyond to reach out and recognize their fan base. I am beyond proud to sport the Nuun logo, talk to people about the product, share my tabs with anyone in need, and jump in and help out at local races sponsored by Nuun.

So, yeah, you could say that I love me some Nuun.

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Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Recap
November 27, 2013

I did it.  Officially became a Half Ironman in July.  And I legitimately had fun doing it.  I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either!

Pre-race:
I drove up on Thursday before the race, and I’m glad I did.  It gave me time to get settled into the hotel and ready for the long weekend.  I arbitrarily picked a hotel in a nearby town and I’m so glad.  It really wasn’t far from the expo or the race site (because nothing is close to that!).  It also was centrally located to a strip with plenty of dining options and stores if I needed anything.  And the best part, my room had a large mini-fridge and small microwave.  This was a useful luxury!

On Friday, I slept in and drove up to Muncie for the expo and race meeting.  Downtown Muncie, how adorable.  I got to meet up with a Twitter friend who was also doing the race and drove all the way down from Maine with his young son.  Nice little father son bonding trip!  We went to the first athlete meeting together.  Then I finished checking out the expo and got some lunch before heading out to the middle of nowhere race site to check out the course.  Definitely glad I did that.  There is no easy way to get to the race site and it’s pretty confusing.  I did the race in reverse order, starting with a quick run, a short bike to check gears, and then a little swim to check the water and the sighting to the finish.  The shallow part of the water has quite a few rocks, so I was really hoping we didn’t have a beach run start. After that, I drove the remainder of the run and bike.  The run looked great, and those “rollers” weren’t going to be a problem.  I confirmed the bike is in fact flat, but a lot of the course was really rough, so I kept that in mind.  Then I drove back to the hotel to have dinner and an Epsom salt bath and get my gear ready for the morning.

Race morning:  I knew that there is really only one road in to the race, so traffic gets backed up early.  Therefore I planned on getting to the race site as soon as possible to when parking opened at 4:30am.  I set the alarm for 3:15am, got dressed, loaded the car, and packed some coffee and breakfast for when I got there.  I lucked out and got parking on the 3rd row.  I hit the porta potties before transition opened at 5am.  Then, I started unloading my stuff to take to set up transition.  We were lucky that pre-race bike check-in was optional.  I have separation anxiety from my bike.  Also, many thanks to the nice volunteer who checked and topped off my air pressure in my tires!  After getting set up, I went back to my car to relax and eat my breakfast and get my sunscreen started.  We got word that the water temp was 75 so it would be a wetsuit legal race, which meant some extra Body Glide.  While the pros were starting I got a little practice swim in to get used to the water.  Then I was ready to go get in line for the start line chute.

Swim:
Fortunately, we got to start a few feet into the water and get away from the rocks embedded in the sand.  I was surprised how small my wave was.  Usually my age group is pretty big, but this helped me relax about being in an aggressive swim wave/washing machine.  I lined up on second or third row out on the edge closest to the buoys.  When the bull horn went off, we started swimming.  I felt pretty good.  I did have one woman, who just wouldn’t leave me alone.  I couldn’t tell if she was just being especially aggressive towards me or was doing a terrible job of swimming straight and cutting me off and yanking on my feet on purpose.  I think I finally lost her when we caught up to the guys ahead of us about the second buoy and I trapped her between the buoy and the slower men.  I had a hard time sighting on the swim because the line out to the first turn is at a diagonal to the left, and we started running into the slower men in the wave ahead of us.  But for the most part it was manageable.  About halfway between the first and second turn, I was swimming behind a line of about 3 people across.  Then a guy wearing an orange cap (I think from the wave behind us) decided to swim diagonally across them.  And I caught his heel directly into my left eye, shoving my goggle deep into my eye socket.  I had to stop and adjust, and assess whether I thought I might actually have injured my eye.  It seemed to be ok (I could see), but hurt pretty badly.  But I was the furthest away from the shore that I could be so I had to keep going.  I was just hoping it wouldn’t be all bloody when I got out of the water and they would make me quit my race then.  I was also glad it wasn’t my nose.  A broken nose is a definitely DNF, something I didn’t want.  After the second turn, it started getting much more congested in the water as all the swim waves start catching up with the slower people in front of them.  I was worried about the sighting since the sun is rising over the shore, but it actually created a shadow on the buoys and wasn’t that bad to sight.  Plus there were enough people around me all going the same general (straight) direction back to shore. Once out of the water, I started running up the hill to transition.  We were told there weren’t going to be any wetsuit strippers, but I saw a group of teenage boys who were more than happy to yank that suit off me, pull me back up and get me back on my way to transition.  It’s amazing how efficient strippers are!

Transition 1 :
Tossed my wetsuit into my pile of stuff, grabbed my helmet and glasses, sprayed some sunscreen, grabbed my bike of the rack and ran to the “Bike Out” sign.  I had practiced a couple times with my shoes already clipped to my bike and I’m glad I did.  Our transition was in grass and it was much easier running barefoot and not getting grass or dirt stuck in my cleats.  Though I almost forgot and started to mount before the line, but caught myself.

Bike:
The bike course is over a lot of really rough roads.  It took a while to get comfortable where I could start putting my feet into my bike shoes and then longer before I could reach down and lock down the straps on my shoes.  The bike course goes out several local roads and through one neighborhood with moderately bumpy to smooth roads.  Once you turn on to the main highway, it’s really straight, flat, and smooth.  It was at this point that I got to see the lead male and female pro racers flying back the other direction on the course.  After a few miles, we turn off on to really incredibly rough farm roads.  There are several “no pass zones” but people aren’t observing them.  Apologies to the really fast people who were stuck behind me.  Then it’s miles and miles of relentless bumps and vibrations.  I kept having to shove my aero bottle straw back down into the bottle, the bumps were knocking it up out of the bottle.  I dodged numerous marked and even unmarked pot holes, ejected water bottles, and even an ejected rear water bottle cage (that poor person).  I passed several people who were fixing flats.  I took it easy on the bike.  It’s not my strength and why burn myself out just to blow up on the run where I can really make up time.  Plus, the whole goal for the race was to finish, not explode.  After the turnaround point, I was beyond done mentally with the bumpy roads. I started singing songs in my head to try to get through it.  It was difficult to fuel and hydrate with all the bumps and having to focus so hard on keeping a handle on the bike and dodging road obstacles.  I think the other side of the road for the second half was actually a little bit better and not as rough.  But I was definitely happy to get back to the smooth main highway and head my way back to transition.  I even smoothly handled a water bottle handoff!  I grabbed the bottle, dumped it into my aero bottle, tossed it before the drop point, and got in 2 tabs of Nuun to help with hydration and flavor!  So glad I had those Nuun tablets in my bento!

I definitely feel like I dialed in my nutrition plan just right for this race.  For me, my stomach doesn’t always tolerate a lot during the run and especially if I’m going hard or long in a race.  So, the key is to get everything in on the bike.  My plan was as follows (if nothing else it gave me something to do for 3 hours of pedaling):
Every 15min – sip of Nuun from my water bottle
Every 20 min – go up gear and pedal out of saddle for a few seconds
Every 20 min – fuel (On the :20 and :40 I took in a fig newton, on the hour I took a Hüma gel)

Transition 2:
I managed to get my shoes opened and my feet out before dismount. I hopped off my bike and ran barefoot in the grass back to my transition spot. Threw off the helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a hat and my race belt that I pre-loaded with gels and my bib.

Run:
This was by far my favorite part of the race.  Not just because it’s my strength, but I honestly had a good time!  I was, as usual, very happy to be out of the saddle and back on my own feet.  The course was great.  It says it is a challenging roller course, but really it wasn’t hilly or what this Tennessean would call a roller.  It wasn’t pancake flat (like the bike course), so it actually gave you a break from the constant pounding, and wasn’t enough of a roller to feel like you were climbing or breaking down a hill.  Just enough of a change to give your different muscles a break.  I started out at a great pace, maybe a little fast, but I was feeling good.  After a couple miles we turned on to the out and back portion.  At this point I saw a guy running back around his mile 11 with so many sponges stuffed in his tri top, he was easily taking a cue from that time I figure skated as Dolly Parton to “9-to-5” as a kid.  It provided some entertainment for the start of the run.  Eventually the miles ticked off.  I saw some athletes from back home heading back and hoped I could catch some of them after the turnaround.  My Coach had warned me to take it easy on the bike, but that most people go too hard on that flat course and leave nothing for the run.  During the run I grinned from ear to ear (that’s never happened in a 13 mile run ever!) and just had fun.  I bounced from water stop to water stop, grabbing a cub of ice and pouring it into my sports bra (seriously, “boob ice” is the best thing ever) and taking a sip of the cola they offered, with the occasional ice water dumped on my head just for fun.  At the turn around point, I couldn’t believe I was already there and had to actually ask the volunteer if it was “for real.”  She said yes, and I did a little hop and a dance right there, then kept running.  After the turnaround, I caught up to many of the athletes from home who were running, said hi, and passed them.  I think I passed pretty much everyone I was running with.  I’m not sure I really got passed much myself.  It felt great.  I’m sure I looked a little strange munching on my “boob ice” in between water stops.  I was feeling so good I almost forgot to take some gels, but managed to get down a couple of them.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar and caffeine from the cola or just pure adrenaline, but I was all kinds of excited.  As I got to the 11 and 12 mile markers it was hitting me that I was getting close to the finish.  Not only was I going to finish my first Half Ironman, but it was also almost done.  After 6 hours of racing (and countless hours of training), I was done. When I saw the 13 mile turnoff, I quickly threw out all the ice from my top, straightened my bib and hauled it in to the finish.  I literally skipped and bounded to the finish line!  My heart was exploding. I was so happy and a little sad it was already over, I was having so much fun!

My #1 goal for this race was to finish.  I thought best case scenario, I could maybe pull off a 6:30.  I finished the race in 6:09.  It helps we had really great weather, and I trained hard.  I took the course one step at a time and didn’t push myself really hard because ultimately I just wanted to cross the finish line.  So, of course now I want to go back and try to race and see what I can really do on that course, with more determination and background of the course.

muncie finish

Dickson Endurance Tri
June 5, 2013

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I raced the Dickson Endurance Triathlon last month.  It was my first tri of the season.  It was also the longest and hardest tri I’ve ever done. It is a really long race (between an Olympic and Half Ironman distance tri), and it’s really early in the season for that distance race, which means a lot of training has been done indoors or in the cold. It’s also a very difficult course with lots of steep and long hills.  It’s a newer race and it falls in between 2 popular local/regional races, so it’s not a huge race, or most people do the shorter, less challenging course sprint race.

Ready to race.

Ready to race?

I got 3rd Overall female! Out of 4. And 4th place was actually Masters Overall winner. So yay, overall podium finish, even it was last place.  I knew it was going to be a small race with only 7 women officially signed up and I was the only one in my age group.  But only 4 of us showed up.

Warm up done.

Warm up done.

Pre-race: I stayed at my mom’s house because she lives only a couple miles away and it’s about an hour drive from my house.  So I saved some time in the morning (and more potty breaks), and I also got to spend Mother’s Day with her.  I arrived at the race site early and with plenty of time to get set up in a good spot in transition, get body marked, and warm up on the bike and run.  I even had time to pour myself into my wetsuit and get in a warmup swim before they started the race.

New dance craze called "The Wetsuit Squeeze"

New dance craze: “The Wetsuit Squeeze”

Swim (1 mile- 34:15):
Water temp had dropped to about 68 degrees from the rain.  But it actually felt perfect, was warmer than the air temp, and much warmer than the local lake I where had been practicing.  I wore my wetsuit, and I also wore an extra cap under the cap they gave us, partly to conserve heat, but also I hate latex caps that pull my hair.  After they sent off the sprint racers, they did a wave of all men, then after 3 minutes, they sent the 4 of us off.

And then there 4. Also, totally swimming beyond rope!

And then there 4. Totally swimming beyond rope!

I really wish they had just done one wave for this race, and included us with the men.  That was a really lonely swim.  I had nobody to draft off of and any men I caught up to or passed were having trouble so I couldn’t swim with them.

Swimming at my own risk.

Swimming at my own risk, just like the sign says.

It was also a 2 loop swim.  I feel like I had to work extra hard for this swim without any help from drafting and even though the wetsuit helps with floating and speed, my left arm started getting tired from pulling that neoprene.

Wish you could really see the hill climbing back to transition.

Wish you could really see the hill climbing back to transition.

Then coming out of the water was the longest steepest hill I’ve ever seen that I had to run up to transition.  In a wetsuit.  I thought I’d never get back up there.  And I thought my inner thighs were going to stick together from the neoprene.

T1. Wetsuit off, get on bike.

T1. Wetsuit off, get on bike.

Bike (38 miles-2:24:27):
So this is where I went through several stages of grief.

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I knew coming out of the swim I was in 3rd among women, but about 6 miles into the bike, the 4th woman passed me and was long gone!  It’s a 2.5 loops course around the outside of the park.  As I finished the first loop, I heard the cop directing traffic say into his radio “Last 2 on the Endurance race.”  I freaked out.  I knew I was near the back, but I couldn’t believe I was so far behind and that many people had passed me already.  It was a really lonely bike ride for a while, because it’s a small race over a long distance and I was near the back.  Then I started getting really sad; I couldn’t believe I’d be the last to cross the finish.  I still had a hilly 9.3 miles to run once I got off the bike.  Then I got really mad that I was finishing this race alone, and at about 1/2 way through the second loop I started seeing some of the bikers ahead of me.  I could tell they were starting to struggle on the uphills.  I was mad, I wanted to catch them.  I’d get close as they went up hills (I’m a strong climber because I’m light), but lose them on downhills. Finally on the last 1/2 loop, we started climbing the longest hill of the race for the third time.  I could see 3 bikes not far ahead of me and I knew I could take them.  One by one I picked them off, including the 4th place woman at mile 30 who had left me behind 24 miles ago!  Yay!  I wasn’t last place anymore.  I played leap frog with this one older guy (how all of my races have been going lately) for the last 5-10 miles.  As I was riding back into transition (including the worst hill climb of the day) I realized I was beyond last place.

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Run (15k-1:27:56):
I got back to transition and took off on the run.

I don't look too happy.

I don’t look too happy.

This was going to be the hardest part, even though the run is my strongest leg, this course was brutal even without having swam and biked right before.  As I was running, I saw people still coming in on the bike.  I was SO far away from being last place.  I was relieved.

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I held off on taking water and a gel on the run as my stomach was still sloshing around a bit after the bike.  I finally got some Nuun from my handheld at the halfway point and eventually got a salt packet and a gel.  The cups of water they had at the abundant water stop tables was freezing cold and felt great as I poured them on my head a couple times.  I ran as much as I could, but still had to walk several hills.  I was exhausted and some of those hills were just easier to walk because you could get a longer stride instead of the death shuffle running your toes into the grade of the hill.  I chicked a lot more guys on the run.  Every single person in this was race was so incredibly nice and positive!  Everyone said a “good job” or “looking good” or “way to go” to each other.  Every single time.  I love this!  No guys getting their man-panties in a wad that I chicked them.  The last brutal hill back into finish was a killer.  I ran as much as I possibly could but walked quite a bit.  Around 7.5 miles I was ready to be done. I didn’t want to carry my handheld water bottle, in fact I didn’t want anything touching me at all. Over stimulus anyone?  I was so happy to run in towards that finish, and get my chocolate milk and a Coke out of my car, my post-race treats!

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Total: 4:30:56 – 3rd Overall
Pretty sweet haul too.  Every finisher got a technical race shirt, a pretty nice medal (printed on both sides), and a pair of socks.  But I also got a nice plaque, giant tub of drink mix, and the coolest coffee mug complete with its own stirring spoon for my podium finish!

swagdickson

Back of the medal. And I definitely plan to make some hot chocolate in that mug!

Back of the medal. And I definitely plan to make some hot chocolate in that mug!

My biggest hurdle with this race was getting in the distance both physically and mentally, as well as testing and managing my nutrition without bonking or hurling.  I got through both!  I listened to my body and took in fuel/fluids when I needed and more importantly backed off when I needed to.  This was my big temperature gauge for the Half Ironman in Muncie in July. It was a shorter distance and better weather (perfect weather actually!), but it was a much more difficult course.  Now all I have to do is just add on some mileage and some hot weather coping skills and I’m ready for the flat courses in Muncie next month!

Showing my Nuun love
March 12, 2013

I have some fun news for this year’s racing season.  You may see me sporting a Nuun logo and you’ll see me drinking Nuun to hydrate (as I usually am).  I was selected as a Nuun Ambassador for 2013.

nuun-logo-lockup-M

 

No doubt if you’ve been reading this blog (or gone for a run with me in person), you’ve heard me talk about Nuun as a great way to hydrate for training, but also just for daily life.

Here are some of my favorite things about Nuun:

  • It’s a great way to get electrolytes without adding a bunch of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other unknown chemicals.
  • It’s travel/airline friendly.  No liquids and very compact packaging!
  • You can use it during the day, not just for athletes competing!
  • Lots of GREAT flavors.
  • The main part of the tube is recyclable!
  • Tablets are scored to easily break it up for smaller water bottles.
  • You can add it to any other liquids to give an added flavor and electrolyte boost, like iced tea.
  • In a pinch I’ve heard you can chew up a tablet to beat cramps/dehydration.
  • You can find it in every running/biking store and sometimes in other stores around town. Or you can easily purchase online.

So, if you haven’t had a chance to try Nuun, pick up a tube and give it a try.  I love it and have been using it for years now.

Sally’s 2012
January 1, 2013

I love reading everyone’s year-in-review.  But I never feel that I have anything particularly interesting to share myself.  However looking back at where I’ve come since January 1, 2012, my year reads like the elevation profile of the 11.2 mile run through Percy Warner Park.

January
On New Year’s day I wake up with pain in my left shoulder.  It becomes very severe over the next few days and I begin many painful and expensive tests to diagnose it.  I eventually lose most of the strength and mobility in the arm altogether.  It is not for several months (see below) before we are able to diagnose the mystery condition.  But I take my first Caribbean vacation to Jamaica with my good friend Sara.  It is fantastic and just what we needed to thaw the dreary winter grays.  I also start training to Hoop the Half Marathon again.

February
I take a trip to Chicago to visit the city and see friends.  I begin planning my race calendar for the year.  But 2/3 of the way through the month I became very ill and take a brief stay in the hospital.  This sets me back physically and race and training-wise.  I eventually end up having to miss out on 4 different races this month and the next month due to illness and recovery.  I also support a friend during a difficult trial and witness that sometimes the judicial system doesn’t always work out the way it’s supposed to.

March
I miss out on the Triple Crown races due to the previous month’s recovery and post my first DNS ever, unfortunately it’s a 3-for-1.  I come up with an Athletic Bucket List and start working towards a plan to check off the items.  I tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and hit 7 distilleries in 2 days.  I attend an Olympic soccer qualifying tournament game.

April
I apply for the Nuun Hood To Coast team, though I don’t get picked, I still make a funny video.  I post some really high mileage with our hoop walking.  And eventually complete the Hooping the Half Marathon.  Many thanks to everyone who donates to the cause.  I finally really start training again in all 3 sports.  I also have my first swim lesson and find out that my self-taught freestyle form really isn’t that bad.  I also meet my Coach for the first time in a different swim lesson.  I witness my amazing friend Kira become ordained as an Episcopal priest.

May
I do my first open water swim ever, which also happens to be my first wetsuit swim ever.  I manage to survive both.  I compete in my first triathlon of the season and learn an important lesson of mental tenacity.  I have another minor surgery unrelated to my two previous medical issues earlier in the year.  I get a new fitting on my tri bike.

June
I make another trip to Chicago for a wedding and to visit friends.  I begin training with my Coach.  I go through a little bit of heartbreak.  I revise my race schedule for the year and really buckle down and distract myself with training.  I compete in the Du Run Run duathlon again and walk away with my first podium finish!  I also finally get back to the doctor for my left arm, and get a diagnosis of Parsonage Turner Syndrome.  I compete in the Muddy Buddy with a friend and have a great time, and once again somehow manage to never really get muddy in a mud event.  It’s a special talent.  I witness more heartbreak at the loss of a friend.  I also go to see Tenacious D with Sara and we have a lot of rocking out silliness.

July
I do a LOT of running, biking, swimming during the hot month, and put down more mileage than I ever imagined.  I compete in my first Olympic distance triathlon.  And I go to the Forecastle Festival after my race and get to see my favorite band play.  I volunteer at a major triathlon in my city and really get a chance to give back for all the racing that I do.  I run in a cape for beer.

August
My Coach comes to town and I get in another swim session.  I work on riding the course for my next big race, but the course keeps changing and I learn my lesson on some hills.  I get up way too early (even for me) to watch the Olympics for marathon and triathlon.  I compete in a Women’s super sprint tri and get misdirected on the course by a volunteer.  They throw out the run times and I end up with a podium finish, but maybe not the one I planned.  I begin physical therapy for my arm and shoulder.

September
I compete in my second Olympic Triathlon, in a torrential downpour.  This is my last tri of the season, but I don’t let that stop me because I sign up for my first Half Ironman race for the next year.  I attend my first Nashville Rollergirls bout and love it.  I buckle down on my running to train for my next few running races of the season.  I run my first 5k in probably 5 or 6 years, and walk away with another podium finish, once again a second place in my age group, which makes for a hat trick of podium finishes for the year.  My best friend has another baby, once again with a dramatic entrance.

October
I run in the Boston Half Marathon.  I get to visit my old friends and meet new ones, and see my best friend in a play.  I tour the Sam Adams Brewery finally.  I try Eritrean food, and of course eat lots and lots of lobstah!  I walk the Goo Goos Jog N Hog due to a painful injury.  That injury turns out to be peroneal tendonitis, and I also find out (on my 3rd Xray and MRI of the year) that I have a cyst in my heel, but the doctor doesn’t think it is affecting me.  I attend a Vanderbilt football game and watch them actually win!  I take a Motorcyle class.  I watch the Kona Ironman championships online and am amazed by the athletes.  I do the Color Run with a couple friends.

November
I make a road trip to tour the Calfkiller brewery and fall more in love with their beer.  I try to talk them into selling me a bike jersey with no luck.  I run in the Ragnar Tennessee relay race and tick off another Athletic Bucket List item.  I volunteer at the Flying Monkey Marathon and witness some truly hardcore runners.  I run the Boulevard Bolt and get another PR.  Coach comes into town again and we have a little team dinner and recap of the year and discuss the next year.

December
I start the month off with my first 12k, the 12 South Winter Warm Up, and finish the day with the 12 South Winter Warmer, one of my favorite beer fests.  Running and beer, what a perfect day!  Then I announce I’m doing something really crazy for my birthday.  I document all of my runs here, and follow it up with beers with friends.  I do one more Yazoo Barely a 4k Beer Run and earn a Yazoo Santa hat.  I find out I qualified for the USAT national championships for Olympic distance triathlon based on that Women’s race in August, which redeems the unfortunate results of that race.  I bake a monstrous cake and swear off buttercream forever.  I take a little New Year’s vacation and got to see my alma mater play in a bowl game.

2013
And what does 2013 hold?  I’ve already started working on my race schedule for next year.  Who knows what else it holds?  I’m hoping for a happy, healthy, and injury-free year.  Looking forward to ticking off more Athletic Bucket List items and maybe clawing my way to more podium finishes?  I’d also like to start trying to race more duathlons.  What are your plans and goals?

I Thought This Was A 5k
December 28, 2012

…or how I ran my first Ragnar Relay

Ok, so I’m not that dense, I knew it wasn’t a 5k, I was very much aware it was a 196-plus-some-change mile race between Chattanooga and Nashville.  But that was our very cleverly coined team name.  As I have been slowly attempting to tick off items off of my Athletic Bucket List.  One more that has been dogging me for a while is a major relay race.  After applying for Hood To Coast, I knew I really wanted to be on a team for Ragnar this year.  So, I set my sights on stalking the Facebook page.  Fortunately after only one post, Cayla snatched me right up.  Boom, I was in!

As we got closer to race day, I was finalizing all my plans, packing and reducing and packing and reducing again, stalking the weather in several cities at bizarre hours of the day like a fiend, and overeating like it was my job.

Thursday:
Packing and prepping day.

All my stuff for the next 30 hours.

I took the day off work to get all my crap together.*

Packed neatly into 1 backpack. No Diva Kitty didn’t join us for the race.

Really glad I did this.  I was able to pack, prepare 6 peanut butter sandwiches, and just relax and make sure everything was taken care of.

Peanut...Peanut butter...

Peanut…Peanut butter…

All the rest of my team had already gone down to meet in Chattanooga, but another teammate (whom I recruited) and I went to a concert in Nashville and decided to get up early on Friday and drive down then.  It was too bad we didn’t get our team bonding in early, but when you’re about to spend 30 hours in a van together, there’s plenty of time for smelling each other’s sweaty runner funk bonding.

Friday:
5am Wake up call in time to throw on my my first running outfit with a sweatshirt and yoga pants to cover up.  Eat some breakfast and hop in the car with a mug full of coffee, pointing south to Chattanooga.

8:45am We arrived at the hotel and met up with Cayla, our more than fearless leader.  We pack our stuff into the van and head to the start line.

10:30am Our start time and our first 2 runners in our van are off.

teamstart

Team “I thought this was a 5k!”

Van 1 goofing off at the start line.

Van 1 goofing off at the start line.

12:05pm – LEG 1.  This leg is a 5.1 mile leg all downhill on Suck Creek Mountain.  I averaged a pace in the 7’s range, but I still got passed by 4 people, 3 guys and 1 gal.  That gal chicked all other guys so it was worth it.  No kills unfortunately.  I didn’t want to blow it up and go too fast on the first leg and have nothing left for the other 2 longer legs, but I also knew that the downhill leg would burn out my quads if I tried to brake myself too much.  It was a delicate balance of watching my speed and trying not to trip and causing a snowball effect down the mountain.

Starting my first leg.

Starting my first leg.

Handing off to runner # 4

Handing off to runner # 4

4pm – Van 1 is done with all the runners.  We stop at a Cracker Barrel to get some food and head to the next major exchange to rest and wait for Van 2 to come in.  By “rest” I mean everyone trying to nap in the van during the daylight.

3

A little threesome action in the back bench of the minivan.

Once Van 2 catches up with us, it’s starting to get dark and we’re all about to head out on our night runs, donning lots of lights and reflective material.

9:44pm – Leg 2.  This is my longest run, 6.8 miles, fairly flat going over Tims Ford Lake area.  This run felt great and averaged 8:49 pace.  Not bad for night time in the middle of nowhere Redneck Outback.  6 kills on this leg, I was taking them out left and right.  I got lots of compliments on my LiteBelt.

Saturday:
5:53am – Leg 3.  This was my hardest run.  I had gotten sick overnight and my quads were searing from the downhill leg the day before.  But I took some anti-nausea medicine and drank some Coke to settle my stomach.  The last thing I wanted to do was run, but I got through 6.1 miles at a very slow 10:13 pace.  At one point my team had stopped to check on me.  They asked if I was OK, I shook my head a pathetic “no” and just kept going.  I knew if I stopped I would never get going again.  I managed 2 kills on this run, it looked like everyone was hurting on this one.  I wish I had felt better on this run, because I started this run in the dark and the sun came up and it was fully light by the time I finished the run.  A total of 18 miles and 8 kills in about 19 hours.

Van 1 at the finish

Van 1 at the finish

Finish – After handing off to Van 2, we headed to my house for much needed showers and rest since I live in between the final major exchange and the finish line.  After crossing the finish line with the entire team, I went home and promptly slept for a full 12 hours (5pm-5am) straight.  I woke up when I tried to roll over and my quads started screaming at me.

Team "I thought this was a 5k!"

Team “I thought this was a 5k!”

And the MVP award goes to our Captain, Cayla who stepped up when one of our teammates got sick after her first leg and ran the extra 2 legs.  That’s right, she ran 5 legs in 24 hours totaling 22.6 miles.

MVP

MVP

I had a really fun time and I’d totally do it again.  We had great weather and this is a very well executed race.  Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, but I really enjoyed it.  I had excellent teammates, even with being the rag tag bunch that we were.  I still remain in very close contact (usually on a daily basis) with my teammates and we’re planning to do other relay runs again.

Side Note:  If you decide that you need to massage your piriformis after you run, make sure none of your teammates are standing by with a camera to document it.

IMG_0016

*What I packed for the race:
1 pr running shoes (based on weather decided to go with just 1 pr instead of 2)
3 prs running shorts
1 pr running tights
3 prs running socks
3 sports bras
2 short sleeve running shirts
1 long sleeve running shirt
safety gear (reflective vest, head lamp with rear lamp, LiteBelt)
1 light weight running jacket (with removable sleeves, i.e., doubles as vest)
Clothes for in between runs (yoga pants, sports bra, underwear, socks, slip on shoes, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, rain jacket just in case)
running hat (with reflective strips)
gloves
Ear band/hat
iPod + charger (doubles with phone charger)
Garmin + charger
RoadID
Body Glide
Handheld water bottle for running, plus large water bottle for drinking in van
Nutrition: several Gu/Cliff Shots, Cliff Bars/Picky Bars, Nuun for my water, Sport Beans, Honey Stinger chews.
baby wipes and facial wipes (whore’s bath all the way)
toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, brush, chapstick, etc.)
Meds (Excedrin, ibuprofen, anti-nausea Rx, Immodium, etc.)
Extra freezer bags and grocery bags
small roll of toilet paper
sharpie
swiss army knife
Travel blanket that folds up small and can be used as pillow

Food:
PB sandwiches
pretzels (I subsisted on these almost entirely)
small Cokes (second half of what I subsisted on besides Nuun water)
fruit snacks (didn’t touch these)
Gummi bears (well the coke version)
Large reusable bottle of water
Various protein bars

35-35-35 FINISH!
December 10, 2012

So I tried really hard, but I was unable to “outrun my birthday” as a clever friend said to me today.  But I did finish my 35 miles, with 3 hours to spare!

The big 3-5!

The big 3-5!

Yes, I am going to “STOP” running for a while.  Well, until my next race next weekend.  I’m not as sore as I expected to be.   I had a massage today for 90 minutes and I feel even better.  Not better enough to consider doing this again, but I do think I came up with a good plan for this crazy idea.  I’ve never run much more than 13 miles in one day and I certainly didn’t even train up to that mileage going into this.  I am not an ultra runner, nor do I have interest in turning into one.  Hell I don’t even want to run a full marathon.  But it is amazing what the body can do.

But most of all I have to thank all of my friends who ran with me: Tracy, Trent, Marc, Amanda, Karen.  And to the countless other friends and even strangers who cheered me on through texts, twitter, facebook, and blog comments.  It really helped get me through it.  You have no idea how much I appreciated it!

But here is the plan that I followed:

The week before the run:
I didn’t run at all.  I rode my bike, swam, and did some upper body strength training.  I wanted to save my legs.  I also ate a little more on the heavy side.  I figured I wouldn’t be eating much during those 35 hours due to my sensitive stomach (when running).  I wanted to store as many calories for energy as I could.

The run:
I knew I had just an hour shy of a day and a half, but since it’s December daylight hours are at a premium.  So I had to get in my runs very closely together.  I figured I could run up to 10 miles at a time without much trouble, especially if I split it up into at least 2 laps with a break for water and stretching in between.

The first day:
As planned, I ran a 5 mile loop, and had some water and a few minutes for rest and some stretching before beginning the second loop.  I was feeling OK and mostly managing to keep a 10 minute or more pace so I made it a 6 mile loop to work in some extra miles.  After I went home, showered and stretched.  I put on my compression tights and did some work on my foam roller.  For the second run, I managed two loops of 5 miles.  I worked in a bit of walking any time I came to a slight incline or just to rest for a minute.  That evening, I had a 60 minute massage scheduled and I slept in my compression tights, taking them off after a couple hours.

Second day:
I woke up very early after sleeping well and ran 1 mile as a warm up.   After eating breakfast and a little more stretching and foam roller, I went for another run.  Another 2 laps of 5 mile runs with stretching in between and brief walking breaks during the second lap.  I went home and rested and stretched and foam rolled some more.  Then all I had left was 3 miles, so I made a promise to myself I would run the entire 3 miles.

Third day:
I scheduled a final 90 minute massage to work out final kinks.

Nutrition/Fuel:
I made sure to consume plenty of fluids, in particular water (for basic hydration), nuun and pedialyte (for electrolytes), chicken broth (for sodium), chocolate milk (for recovery), Coke (to settle my stomach).
I ate plenty of bananas (for energy and cramps), peanut butter on bagels (for nutrition), Cliff Shots/Gus (during runs), salt (for sodium and cramps).
And of course a celebratory “Shower Beer” before meeting friends for (veggie) burger and (waffle) fries and more beer.

beer

Runs:
I worked on trying to keep the first runs slow at 10 minute mile or slower and allow it to get slower on its own or be dictated by my pacers.

1.  Sat, Dec 8, 2012 8:10 AM
Distance: 11.00 mi
Time: 1:49:56
Avg Pace: 10:00 min/mi

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:49:55 11.00 10:00
1 9:46.92 1.00 9:47
2 10:17.85 1.00 10:18
3 10:12.61 1.00 10:13
4 9:55.64 1.00 9:56
5 9:50.09 1.00 9:50
6 9:55.49 1.00 9:55
7 9:58.4 1.00 9:58
8 9:58.6 1.00 9:59
9 9:58.71 1.00 9:59
10 9:55.06 1.00 9:55
11 10:06.16 1.00 10:07

*****

2.  Sat, Dec 8, 2012 2:14 PM
Distance: 10.00 mi
Time: 1:48:44
Avg Pace: 10:52 min/mi

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:48:44.4 10.00 10:52
1 10:44.4 1.00 10:44
2 10:56.9 1.00 10:57
3 11:03.6 1.00 11:04
4 10:35.2 1.00 10:35
5 10:32.9 1.00 10:33
6 10:36.0 1.00 10:36
7 11:07.6 1.00 11:08
8 10:59.1 1.00 10:59
9 10:37.2 1.00 10:37
10 11:29.1 1.00 11:29
11 :02.5 0.00 9:35

*****

3.  Sun, Dec 9, 2012 6:49 AM
Distance: 1.00 mi
Time: 10:11
Avg Pace: 10:12 min/mi

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 10:10.7 1.00 10:12
1 10:10.7 1.00 10:12

*****

4.  Sun, Dec 9, 2012 9:06 AM
Distance: 10.01 mi
Time: 1:45:32
Avg Pace: 10:33 min/mi

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:45:32.0 10.01 10:33
1 10:41.2 1.00 10:41
2 10:36.9 1.00 10:37
3 10:13.9 1.00 10:14
4 10:08.4 1.00 10:08
5 9:58.8 1.00 9:59
6 10:36.1 1.00 10:36
7 10:23.1 1.00 10:23
8 10:38.9 1.00 10:39
9 11:39.0 1.00 11:39
10 10:32.8 1.00 10:33
11 :03.1 0.01 9:44

*****

5.  Sun, Dec 9, 2012 3:06 PM
Distance: 3.00 mi
Time: 31:33
Avg Pace: 10:32 min/mi

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 31:33.5 3.00 10:32
1 10:28.0 1.00 10:28
2 10:34.6 1.00 10:35
3 10:31.0 1.00 10:32

And as far as how I’m doing after the run, well I walked away fairly unscathed.  Yes, I have some muscle soreness.  Only had some pain in my knee while running on the last day, but that didn’t stick around.  Oddly I developed blisters on the bottoms of several of my toes.  No new blisters on my feet, but several toes (only on the bottom) were casualties.  I also have 2 weird tiny chafed spots on my back.  I’m assuming from a sports bra, but it’s just 2 small spots the size of a pencil eraser and kinda low to be my sports bra, but it doesn’t hurt and I can’t see it so I’ll pretend it’s not there.  Otherwise I escaped relatively injury free.  Not bad for an old lady!

35-35-35 3rd+ Run
December 9, 2012

Another 11 miles down in the books.  Just 3 miles left to reach 35!

Last night as I was falling asleep I had a dream about…running.  Go figure.  It was one of those dreams, I’m watching my feet as I run, then I step off the edge of the greenway and nearly roll my ankle…And jerk awake at the same time.  After that I got a decent night’s sleep.

Then I got up early and decided to do a short shake out run of 1 mile around my neighborhood.  Marc was a trooper and joined me on a humid 1 mile at a 10:12 pace.

Wow, my eyes look tired and puffy.

Wow, my eyes look tired and puffy.

And of course I had to get a close up shot of my hat.  This stuff has been getting me through the weekend.  Regular Body Glide on my body and the WarmFX Anti-Pain on my tendonitis and any other sore spots.

bodyglide

After getting some breakfast, I headed out to the greenway to join Karen for some more mileage.  She was a great pacer! And she had just paced her daughter during a good portion of a marathon the day before.

 5 miles with Karen and Marc.

5 miles with Karen and Marc.

Then Marc was a trooper and ran with me for the last 5 miles.  While I’ve been feeling surprisingly good, especially on the first 5 miles, I was starting to struggle the last 2 miles of this run.  I was sore and really thirsty.  It is unseasonably warm here and very humid because of the off-and-on rain.  But I did it.

Another 10 miles at 10:33 pace.  Maybe a touch too fast at this point.

Because of all the soreness and the heat I had to wear the most ridiculous outfit today.  Note the tri shorts under my running shorts hoping to minimize muscle vibration and my Swiftwick compression socks for the same reason.  I couldn’t wear my beloved fancy compression tights because it was so darn hot.  And speaking of the heat, I’m wearing a tank top…in DECEMBER!

Seriously, this is winter?

Seriously, this is winter?

Then I proceeded to take an Epsom salt bath and rest in my compression tights.

Consumed:
Banana and most of 1/2 of a bagel with peanut butter, with some coffee and some Pedialyte, and some extra ibuprofen.
Salt packet and Mocha Cliff Shot before running with some sips of water.
Mint Chocolate Gu at the halfway point and sips of Pedialyte.
Nuun during the last mile of my run.
Salt packet, chicken broth, Pedialyte, and big cup of chocolate milk after running.
Small coke while I was in Epsom salt bath.
Banana and a few small pretzels after the bath, plus an Immodium.

So far my stomach seems to be hanging in there.  I didn’t take any Immodium this morning because I was feeling ok, but managing your GI for 30+ hours is a delicate balancing act.  Hoping it holds out this last run and then on to the celebratory beers with friends after.

I’ve been doing pretty well about stretching (maybe not quite as much as I should), but the massage yesterday helped and I’ve been working my foam roller in quite a bit.  I try to wear my compression tights during rest when I can, or use The Stick.  I’m not nearly as sore as I expected, but definitely feeling the 32 miles I’ve done in 27 hours.

Less than a 5k left!

35-35-35 Second Run
December 8, 2012

Second run complete. 10 miles. 1:48: 44 (average 10:52 min/mile).  Thanks to Marc and Amanda for joining me for this run.

Looks like I have 3 hands holding her coke and my phone.

Looks like I have 3 hands, one holding her Coke and two holding the camera.

We started out with a 5 mile loop around one of my favorite greenways.  After a brief bathroom/water/stretching/Gu break, we took off down another part of the greenway.

As we started going through the two tunnels to another section of the greenway, I found a little surprise that Amanda had set up for me.

Holy Trackspikes Batman!

Holy Track Spikes Batman!

When I saw the first one, I had decided to walk that short but steep hill.  I laughed, because I figured one of the nearby high school track teams had been leaving messages for each other.  But then I got to the next tunnel.

tunnel

It says “Keep Going” and has a hopscotch with 35 on it.

Keep

Keep

Going

Going

35 hopscotch!

35 hopscotch!

Have I ever told you how awesome Amanda is?  She drove to a different part of the park early to write it on the greenway with chalk.  Best part, I’m running there tomorrow so I’ll see it again!

Fortunately the rain held off for these runs.  Had a little drizzle in the first run, but it was very light.  But it was really warm, especially for December.  I had a few more walk breaks this run and walked any small hills.

The park where we ran has a giant tree decorated for Christmas.  So, of course we had to get a picture in front of the tree!

tree

After the run, I went home and made a little dinner.  Then I had a 60 minute massage scheduled.  Really glad I had that set up.

Consumed:
Banana about an hour before I left for the second run.
Salt packet and Mocha Cliff Shot and some sips of Pedialyte before the run.
Salt packet and Peanut Butter Gu and some more Pedialyte at the break.
Chicken broth after finishing 10 miles.

Don't knock it til you try it.

Don’t knock it til you try it.

More chocolate milk.
Baked salmon and broccoli au gratin rice for dinner with a small Coke and some nuun.
Couple candy cane oreo type cookies for dessert and water and a small ginger ale.

35-35-35 First Run
December 8, 2012

First run down.  11 miles.  Thanks to my friends Tracy and Trent for joining me.

trio

First run we did an out-and-back of total 5 miles on Shelby Bottoms Greenway.  We tried to keep it at a 10 minute/mile pace.  It was overcast and we could hear thunder in the distance, but figured it would be fine.  After the first loop, came back to our cars.  Had a little stretch/bathroom/water/Cliff Shot break.  I got to run into 2 of my lovely Hoop Ladies who were going out for a little hoop walk.  So glad I saw them!

Just as we were starting the second loop, it started raining.  We ran through rain for about 2-3 miles, but it cleared up some.  Fortunately most of the greenway is tree lined so we didn’t get too wet.  I decided to run 3 miles before the turnaround.  So by the time we finished, we had gotten in 11 miles in 1:49:55 (exactly 10min/mi pace average).  Not a bad first run.  24 more to go!

Remember to finish saying "cheese" before you take the picture.

Remember to finish saying “cheese” before you take the picture.

At the finish, we ran into my friend Tiffany, who was waiting to cheer us on.  Trent and Tracy had to go their own separate ways, so I had breakfast with her.

Bonus, when you do a birthday run with Trent, you get visited by the beer fairy! Gotta love running friends who are also beer friends.  Thank you!!!  Can’t wait to dig into these lovelies soon!

beer

Back home I’m in my compression tights stretching and waiting to head out for another rainy run with friends.

Consumed so far:
Last night I went to the Nashville Tri Club party so I had a couple vegetarian soft tacos and a couple Miller High Life beers (don’t judge it’s the Champagne of Beers!) and some water. When I got home I scrambled an egg before bed so I had some protein in my system.

This morning I got up and had some coffee and some Pedialyte, half of a bagel with peanut butter and banana.

Before I ran I had a salt packet and a Mocha Cliff Shot and a sip of nuun and some water.  At the halfway point I had a Chocolate Mint Gu and some nuun.

After the run, I had about 3 small cups of chocolate milk.  Then I had another salt packet and downed some pedialyte.  I had a breakfast sandwich (egg/cheese casserole on a cheese scone) at Sweet 16 Bakery and cup of coffee with Tiffany.  Once I got home I had a small Coke in the shower (hey can’t start in on the shower beers yet).