Friday, October 25, 2013

So many skills needed

I am a jeweler by trade, but to do that I need to be able to do so many things other than just make jewelry.  Most recently I have been working on creating a website, so I need to be a photographer, graphic designer, copy editor, marketer...  I had to decide whether I wanted to have e-commerce on my site, or just redirect people to my Etsy shop.  Since I couldn't use the font I had already been using on my business cards, I needed to redesign my business cards.

Another huge aspect of being a jeweler is figuring out how and where to sell my pieces.  I do have some work for sale at Shop One2 ar RIT, which seems to be a good location for me.  Consignment sales means I have to be a good book keeper to know what pieces they have and what things need to be replaced.  I have my Etsy shop, which provides a slow trickle of business.  Etsy uses my photography and copy writing skills.  Also I participate in many craft shows, which is by far where I sell the most of my work.  Skills needed for craft shows include: brute strength for carrying the tables, book cases, displays, and products; packing knowledge to be able to fit all of that stuff into my tiny car; display design and creation; people skills for talking with the customers; a large bladder, it is sometimes hard to find someone to watch your booth while you find a restroom; packaging design/ selection so the pieces look wonderful when someone brings them home; arithmetic, totaling up orders and charging tax...  you get the picture.  I have been learning how to manage all of this.  There is always room for improvement, I am far from perfect, but I am giving it a solid effort.

All of this to say, check out my new website.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Or Doesn't, Making it 75 miles in the TARC 100

As I sit here almost 2 days after I pulled the plug 75 miles into my attempt to complete a 100 mile race, my head is awash with what ifs?  Some of them were in my control, some of them were not.  What if I had started out slower?  What if I had done a larger portion of my training on trails?  What if I had taken ibuprofen at mile 70?  What if we hadn't gotten those inches of rain the night before?  I think this is my first DNF(did not finish) since high school.  Two days later I am physically feeling fairly decent, I can walk up and down stairs without wincing (not very quickly yet, and I do turn kind of diagonally to the steps).  After I stopped the race, I could barely walk across the tennis court to the massage table even with the help of my mother, was in pain just trying to lay flat, and burst into tears trying to shift my position in bed.  So at that point I felt I had made the right decision.

In January I decided that I wanted to do a 100 mile race.  Maybe I should have looked for a 100k to try first since the longest I had raced was 50 miles (3 times so far).  I was looking for something local that wasn't in the heat of summer, and I wanted it to be a race where I would get a belt buckle.  I ended up deciding that the TARC 100 in Weston MA just a little out side of Boston looked good.  It was the first time that they were running this race, but I had heard good things about the organization that was putting it together.  One thing that was intriguing and appealed to me about it was that it started at 7pm.  To me that meant I would hopefully finish at a time that it would be reasonable for me to go to sleep, and it meant facing the trails in the dark when I was fresh.  I really didn't think I would be moving slowly enough that I would see darkness again before I finished.

I haven't followed a pre-made training plan since I had a stress fracture in my pelvis a little over 3 years ago, both because I need to listen to my body to try to remain injury free and because training plans aren't really structured to accommodate my 3 days a week of running plus 3 days of cross training.  I started increasing my mileage and my volume of cross training.  I tried to see if I could add a 4th day of running back in if I kept it very easy.  I think I kept that 4th day of running in most of the way through March, but after I finished a 35 mile run about 3 weeks before Boston, I knew I needed to shut it down for a while.  I kept cross training, but no running again until the Friday before Boston.  I put in 6 or so miles on the trails in Weston that Friday night to get an idea of what I might be in for during the 100.  The trails seemed very runnable, lots of good footing, some soggy areas, but not bad.  I felt alright afterward, so I ran Boston on Monday (which is a whole other story) with a few friends.  I took much of that week off, then tried to get back to training.  I got in a 35 miler, a 40 miler as part of an 80 mile week with 5 or 6 other hours of activity.  I had done what I could to prepare, it was time to taper.

The race was Friday night, so my boyfriend Chris and I traveled out on Thursday.  I took things pretty easy Friday and got the the race site by 5 pm.  I got my bib, set up my drop bag and chair (in what ended up being an out of the way location) and tried to take care of my last minute prep.  Glide was applied, immodium was taken, gators were attached to shoes...  We had a pre-race briefing at 6:30, the race director warned us that there was water and mud on the course as a result of the heavy rains that had come through overnight.   I was nervous, but as ready as I could be to go.

The race started at 7pm, not a typical race start time, but I liked the idea of a 7pm start.  It meant that I was able to get a full night of sleep before hand, not get up at the crack of chickens after having tossed and turned all night.  It also meant that I would be facing darkness while I was fresh.  And it would help me to not start out too quickly.  What I hadn’t given much thought to was that if I ran slower than I had anticipated, I would have to run at night again when I was near delirious. 

The 50 milers and 100 milers all started together, so there were quite a lot of people lined up to go.  We counted down to the start together, and we were off.  There was a short amount of open ground before we ground to a halt crossing a little gully before heading out onto the trail. 

The pace was pretty slow, but I didn’t worry about that, I knew I had a long way to go, so I didn’t want to start off fast.  The trail started off with a slight uphill, at the beginning of the 4.5 mile section of the 25 mile loop.  Occasionally I would pass someone or be passed by someone, but I tried to keep it low key.  We hit some muddy patches and wondered if the water crossing was the one the race director had said was up to his knee when he previewed the course earlier in the day.  I wondered how hard these technical parts would feel when it got dark. 

After the first 4.5 miles we run back through the start area and past the first aid station.  I grabbed a chunk of PB & J and remind myself that I am supposed to walk after the aid stations.  So I walk for a little bit as we head to the other part of the loop.  There is a cute little trail leading to the road that I had walked earlier, it is nice, just a slight incline with good footing.  Then we cross the road and skirt the camping/ parking area.  Once through there, we start hitting some of the serious mud.  It seems like the mud and water are spaced out just enough that your feet just start to show signs of drying, then there is more mud to go through.  I try to be careful but quick crossing the mud and water.  We still have light for a little bit longer.  The second aid station (Ripley Lane) is around mile 6.5, I grab a little more food and head out walking for a little bit. 

Around 8:30 I decided to put on my headlamps, one on my head and the other around my waist clipped to the top of my shorts (the 2 light sources help to give me better depth perception).  When I had looked at the course map before I started, it looked like a pile of spaghetti, the trails wind around and double back…  many sections with 2 way traffic.  As I was running the course, I discovered that it was very well marked, I never took a wrong turn, even in the dark.  The next aid station was around mile 10 (the first time hitting the Gun Club aid station), I double checked that that was the right distance since I thought I might have made a wrong turn.  I decided to make a quick port-o-potty stop since I knew I had 5 miles until the next chance.  I grabbed a little more food from the aid station and was off again.  We had a 5 mile loop then back into this same aid station from the other side. 

Many sections of the course were very runnable, with good footing.  Other parts had water up to my knees, one was deep enough that the bottom edge of my shorts got wet, with shoe sucking mud.  Areas of 2 way traffic were a bit of a challenge since many were still single track, so you had to step off the trail while passing and the light from the headlamp of the person heading the opposite way was blinding.  Even with these challenges, I was having a good time and making decent time averaging about 5 miles an hour.  After hitting Gun club for the 2nd time around mile 15, you wind around for 5 miles or so to get back to the Ripley Lane aid station with the last mile or so along railroad tracks with people running the opposite way.  In that section I started to notice some pain in my right foot at the base of my pinky toe as I run beside the trail while people pass. 

Off and on throughout the night I have spotted the 2 other Rochester runners in the race and said hi to them.   Fortunately for me, they both have tops on that are distinctive enough that I can pick them out in the light of my head lamp.  I settled in with people occasionally, but didn’t have consistent company.  Once you reach Ripley Lane at mile 20, you head out for a 2 mile loop including a section of the railroad tracks, then come back through Riley Lane.  Then back out along the railroad tracks, and into the woods to head back to the start, which also meant going through the worst mud pit before skirting the parking lot and crossing the street. 

When I finished lap one, I changed my socks to try to get some of the debris out of my shoes, but I put the same shoes back on.  I also put my contacts in, it had been so humid on the previous loop that my glasses had fogged up numerous times and I just didn’t have a dry spot to wipe them on.  I went through the lap point and headed out, right around 5 hours down, so that would make it midnight.  I thought that this loop might be quicker through this section since I wouldn’t be waiting for the congestion of people, but I was wrong.  My splits were all over the place, one mile would be 10 something, then I might knock out a 17 something.  This first part had been light last time around, guess the darkness was slowing me down.  But I wasn’t worried, still averaging over 4 miles an hour, feeling decent, but that bone at the base of my toe was squawking.  I got through the 4.5 mile part of the loop and sat down to loosen the laces of my shoe near that toe.  That seemed to help, so I was off. 

Up the little trail and across the road again so I could face the mud pit.  Going through the mud was wearing on me, both mentally and physically, I was starting to feel it in the tendons on the front of my ankles.  In my head I broke the course up into the chunks between aid stations, trying to only think about that distance.  Heading into Ripley Lane I could feel my first blister forming, around 30 miles into the race, I knew I needed to tend to it to try to keep it from getting too bad and knocking me out.  At the aid station I had one of the medical staff help me out, he put some blue goo on it and wrapped it in tape that he said stands up to showering.  It felt a little better as I headed back out onto the trail. 

It was a little after 2 am, I had been greeting people with evening so far, should I switch over to morning...   As I went through some of the wet parts, my shoe seemed to tighten up again and the bone at the base of my toe hurt a bit.  It was way past my bed time, but I still felt like I was doing fine.  Ok, just keep moving.  More sections of 2 way traffic, I couldn't always remember/ tell if the people were ahead or behind, I always tried to greet them.  Halfway to the next aid station, that wasn't too bad.  35 miles, Gun club aid station, more than 1/3 done with the race, keep it up.  My light has been getting dimmer, so I replace the batteries in the headlamp.  I got my first good morning here, so I switch to that greeting.  A little ginger ale, a chunk of PB & J, walk a little, then off again.  5 miles to the next aid station, does this section have that deep water crossing?  When people were nearby but a little ahead, you always had good warning when some mud was coming, you could hear the groan and the sucking sound as they plodded through.  I seemed to be catching more people than were catching me, good, just need to stay strong.  Keep going, getting close to the next aid station.  40 miles down, my knees hurt a little bit, so do my hip flexors, and the tendon on the front of my ankle, and that bone at the base of my toe.  Hmm, what to eat.  There were 3 girls at the other side of the aid station at the 35 mile mark, one said she would love to trade places with me, I said I still had a long way to go.  They were also doing the 100, they told me I looked great, I wasn't so sure about that.  Onward.  

Two way traffic again, I think the people are quite a way behind me.  I hear my text message alert, I'll check at the aid station, that was where I was supposed to let Chris know I was getting close to the end of the loop.  Keep it up.  Shouldn't I be getting to the railroad tracks again soon?  Hey how is she passing me, wasn't she way behind me?  I guess that 2 way traffic wasn't that far behind.  At least I know she is only doing the 50, I should be moving more conservatively than she is.  Nice job girl.  Keep going.  There are the railroad tracks finally, it is starting to get light.  Man do these railroad tracks make my toe bone hurt, what is that twinge at the top of my shin?  Onward.  Some of the people running toward me have already turned off their head lamps, nice job guys.  Here comes the aid station, yay.  45 miles down.  Instead of taking off my pack, I ask one of the volunteers to unzip my back pocket in my pack and hand me my phone. I grab some food and some ginger ale and head off down the road.  Ok, message says he is awake and will be at the start area soon.  He wants to know whether he is joining me at 50 or 55, I respond, either, it will be a long transition, then tuck my phone back away.  Onward through 2 way traffic.  

I catch up with a lady who wasn't sure if she was heading the right way, I remind her that we are on the little 2 mile loop then back to the aid station.  I turn my headlamp and waist lamp off and tuck the headlamp into my pocket.  Through the road then wooded sections again, now back on the railroad.  Greet the people who are about  2 miles behind, some of them are in rough shape.  Keep going.  My foot really hurts, hope it isn't anything serious.  Back into the woods, not too much longer until I am back at Ripley Lane aid station.  A little more ginger ale, a few chips, and I am back on my way again, 3 more miles until I am halfway there.  Keep going.  Stupid railroad tracks, you really make my foot hurt.  I sit down and loosen my shoe again, it helps a little, but not much.  I see some people heading the opposite direction, some still have their head lamps on, Morning, nice job.  Then the right hand turn back into the woods and back toward the start line.  It is only a couple of miles, how does it feel so long?  Keep going.  I make it to the long muddy 2 way traffic section, yay I don't have too much farther to go, boo I have to go through that tough section again.  Ok, bordering the parking area, cross the street, down that nice little trail, here is the parking lot and the end of the lap.  

Ron is finished, he was only doing 50.  I am trying to get prepped to head out for 2 more loops.
I pull off to where I have left my drop bag (bin) and I take off my shoes and socks.  I walk over to the medical person to have her work on a few blisters that have started on my right foot, one is little barely starting, the other is pretty big, both just get wrapped in moleskin.  I mention my concern about the bone at the base of my toe, she pokes and prods it a bit and thinks it might be alright.  I put on my second pair of shoes and change out my Garmin for a borrowed one that still has full charge.  I get my pack refilled for the second time and stand there shivering, I have been stopped for too long.  One of the volunteers gets me some hot water.  My pack is returned to me, so I head off again with Chris.  

Being stopped that long had left me a bit stiff, so we walk across the field, the parking lot, and up the first hill.  Then I pick it back up to a slow jog.  I don't feel the pain in my toe bone, maybe it was just the shoes, score, lets have at it.  This is the farthest I have ever gone, a little over 50 miles.  It is a little after 6 in the morning, I can't remember the last time I stayed up all night, I still don't feel too bad for not having slept.  I tell Chris that this first part of the loop is the dryer part of the course as we make our way around a nasty mud pit.  I let out an occasional whimper as the mud sucks on my foot pulling on my ankle tendon and my hip flexor.  Daylight isn't helping this lap to start out any more quickly, oh well, still plenty of time left.  Another guy settled in with us for a while.  We make it through the first 4.5 miles and back to the aid station.  A little more food and ginger ale then off to show Chris what the real mud looked like.

There were quite a few people coming the other way through the 2 way water crossing this time around.  One girl who was doing the 50 and almost done was cursing the mud, we tried to encourage her that she was almost finished.  For some reason I tried to skirt the mud, well the reason was to have less mud sucking my feet and making my tendons hurt.  Onward.  More jogging, I still have that in me.  We make it to the next aid station, orange wedges sound good, a little more ginger ale.  Onward.  I can get this done. Just need to make sure I don't fall in the water.  My balance has been getting consistently worse as I get more tired.

Around mile 58 the bottom dropped out.  I realized that my pace was slowing enough that it would get dark again before I finish.  My legs are hurting more and more, my pace isn't even 4 miles an hour, it used to be so easy to walk faster than 4 miles an hour.  We got to an aid station, they were making french toast, I felt like they should be serving lunch, but I guess it was only 8 am or so.

Around mile 61 I kick it in again, even though I feel very defeated.  It takes so much effort, and it hurts.  Keep going. Some of the time I am running and crying, I really want to make it to the finish, but I can't imagine facing the darkness again. I manage to just barely knock out 4 miles in the hour leading to the next aid station.  I didn't think I could possibly muster up the will to do more hours like that.  Errr, another stupid water crossing.  I do not feel good or hopeful coming into the aid station at 65 miles, the volunteers tell me I look good.  A little more ginger ale, a few chips, huh, didn't think I would still be able to get down solids this far into the race, that is a good sign at least.

It is getting a bit hotter as the sun rises higher into the sky.  Man do my tendons hurt, oh a downhill, I don't like that either.  I have let Chris know that I do not intend to continue after this lap.  We still do some jogging and some walking.  He tries to make sure I am not just going through a rough patch, that I won't regret dropping out tomorrow.  There are many more tears, I don't want to quit, but I can't do this, it hurts a lot, I don't want to make Brad have to go through the mud if I'm not going to make it to the end, I don't want him to have to be out there 10 hours with me in the dark, I can't face the darkness and the mud.  Are you sure you can't do this?  I am sure.  I will try to see if I can regroup at the next aid station.  But we have the stupid rail road tracks again, man is it sunny, oh my ankles hurt.  Keep going.  I have Chris try to reach my mom because I would like her at the finish line when I stop, I'm not sure when she was planning to be there since she wanted to see me finish.  She isn't home.


The people at the aid station were great, told me I looked good, I had plenty of time.  They let me sit down to try to regroup, brought me watermelon, orange wedges, ginger ale, salt pills (coughed one of them up, so Chris washed it off and I try again), they wiped the mud off my legs, put ice on my neck... One lady offers my ibuprofen, but I say no, I don't think it is a good idea. They suggest we empty some of the water out of my hydration pack so it won't be so heavy, so Chris does. Time to get going. Ok, I'll head out for the 2 mile loop.  Sitting made my body stiffen up again.  So we head out of the aid station walking.  Down the road and back into the mud.  No message from my mom.

I try to walk quickly, I think I manage a 17 something mile, but it sure hurts.  Gah, back out onto the railroad tracks.  I can't do this, keep moving.  We circle back around to the aid station, I still don't feel any better.  The tears seem to be flowing pretty freely.  Just 3 more miles until the end of the loop, I can get there.  Ginger ale, something else, onward.  I don't want to be out here any more, it hurts, it is hot, it is going to take me over an hour to get back to the start.  I try to jog again to get back a little sooner, Chris doesn't see the point if I am just giving up when I get there.  So we walk down the railroad tracks.  I try to encourage the people heading in the opposite direction, some of them look a lot better than I feel.  Finally the right hand turn  back into the woods.  Oh my goodness how long is this wooded section?  I just want to be done.  More mud, but it isn't the mud.  One last time for the mid course road crossing, greet the volunteers.  Keep moving.  That last mile was a 26 something.  Oh my goodness how much longer until I reach that nasty mud pit?  Keep going.  Ok, I think we are getting close.  Down a hill and into the mud.  There is deep stuff coming up.  Encourage the people heading the opposite direction, it is their 4th loop, they are going to finish this sucker.  Oh, there is the awful bog.  I think I see the parking lot, no wait, I didn't see anything.  It can't be too much farther.  There it is, more tears.  A half mile or so, 10 more minutes, you can do it.  There is a tent for a running group with a bunch of them there.  They cheer for me.  I tell them I am dropping.  The leader says he brought 17 runners and all but 5 have dropped, many of the runners tell me I made it farther than they did.  Ok, cross the road, down the nice trail, I can get out of the way for the people heading back out.  Parking lot, yay I am almost there, keep moving.  I don't think I bother to muster up a run.  We see Brad, who would have paced me for the last section.  Oh, I see my mom, good she is there.  I am crying, I make it across the line, hug my mom and tell her I am dropping out.  I figure out who to give my chip and my bracelet to and I am officially done.

I head over to my stuff and sit down.  Off come the shoes and the hydration pack.  My feet don't look too terrible for having run 75 miles. Huh, I have never seen swelling over that tendon in the front of my ankle before, it almost looks like I have an extra ankle bone in front on my ankle bone.  I knock back a chocolate milk and a gator aid recovery.  Chris and Brad go to get the car.  I try to lay down in the sun, stopping moving has left me chilled again.  Mom sits with me.  There is no position that doesn't hurt to lay in.  Mom helps me to hobble over to the port o potties.  A little while later we decide that it might be good for me to hobble over to the massage guy, walking hurts so much now. There is no way I could have done another lap.   He works on my left lower leg for a while, but I get to a point where my right hip flexor is causing me so much pain just from it being extended straight that he has to move up to there.  Mom says that he worked on me for around an hour.  Mom helps me to hobble back across to my chair, I can't believe how much moving hurts right now.  Chris and Brad get our stuff packed up.  I cheer for people finishing or heading out for another lap, I have so much respect for them, I did not have to gumption to be able to keep going.  As I load myself into the car, I have to use my hands to lift my right leg, that hip flexor has just shut down.  We drive back to my cousin's house.  I manage to take an ice bath and a shower amidst my cries of pain.  We get me up one more flight of stairs only lifting my left leg and dragging my right leg, crying in pain the whole time.  Dropping out after 75 was the right choice.  We get me into the sofa bed, my cousin finds a wedge I can lean against.  The slightest shift of position brings new tears of pain.  We talk about where there is an urgent care place around or if I might have to go to the ER.  I have never been in so much pain in my life.  I can't imagine what a car ride would be like if I feel like this.  How would we get me down 2 flights of stairs if I need to go to the ER?   My cousin brings me some ibuprofen, Chris heads out with Brad to get some take out for us for dinner. Fortunately the ibuprofen helps a lot, I can shift positions without crying.  I eat some dinner and stay up long enough that I can take another round of ibuprofen before I fall asleep.

Yes 75 miles is a lot, yes I kept going 17 miles after the bottom dropped out, yes I think I could have finished if we hadn't gotten that rain the night before.  But I am still disappointed.  And I wonder what would have happened if I had taken the ibuprofen at mile 70.  And I wonder if things would have been different if I had started out slower.  And, and, and...  So now I will have to try again.   

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finger Lakes 50s

I think it was February when I signed up for this race.  When registering you select whether you think you will run the 50k (+), or the 50 miler, but you are allowed to change your mind anytime from then until when you finish 50k(+).  This race is part of the Western NY Ultra Series.  In the series you get points for your best 3 races, and your points are based on the winning time in your gender.  This race was my third for the series this year, and I was doing very well so far, 199.06 out of a possible 200 points.  The lady who beat me at the second race (and had run a 50 miler the weekend before that) had told me she was going to run the 50 miler and that there were some other fast ladies signed up for it.  That got me thinking, debating what was more important to me, was it more important to complete my 2nd 50 miler, or was it more important to possibly get more points by just  running the 50k(+).  I wasn't sure.

The weekend before the race was beautiful, the temps only got into the low 70s and the cool trend continued for a few more days.  Then the heat came back.  It got up into the 90s late in the week and that was the forecast for race day.  Stinker, running 50 miles on trails would be hard enough without extremely high temperatures.  So that was another reason to consider whether I wanted to just run the shorter distance.  But I had gotten in some good training for this race, the 42 mile run near the end of April, the 30 miles at Highland Forest, and a 35+ mile run 3 weeks before the race.  I could have put in a bit more time on trails, but I had gotten in some.    I was not decided.  I tapered like I usually do, did my depletion run the day before, then carb loaded and hydrated.  The night before I stayed at my friend Kathy's cottage with Kathy and John who were both planning to run their first 50 miler.  

My bin full of goodies I might need during the race.
On race morning, we all woke up at 3:30 to drink our Ultra Fuel.  Ultra Fuel is not very tasty, but it is a good way for me to get 700 calories of carbs in on race morning.  After the Ultra Fuel, I lay back down for a few minutes but got up not too much later, around 4.  I hadn't slept well, but I had done my best to get a good week of sleep leading into the race so I wasn't worried.  Race prep that morning included applying sunblock, layering body glide onto the parts that might chafe, putting my hair up so I wouldn't have to worry about it, filling both of my hand bottles with water and putting gels and shot blocks into the pockets, putting a small Ziploc holding salt pills, Imodium, and ibuprofen into the pocket in my shorts, making sure I had everything in my bin that I might need for the day and that it was organized...  I thought I was prepped.  We headed to out around 4:45 am.  Even with that early of a start, the road by the camp ground already had a long line of parked cars.  We all unloaded our stuff and headed up to the start to find a place to set up our gear.  We grabbed our bibs, set up our stuff and took care of any last minute prep.  Then it was time to head down to the start.  

We didn't have much chance to spread out by the first field.
6:30 am was race time, there was quite a crew milling about ready to hit the road (trail).  The count down happened and we were off.  The race started with about 1/2 mile of dirt road for us to get ourselves sorted out before turning onto some narrow single track.  I had opted to carry one 20 ounce hand bottle since there were quite a few water stops along the course. I did have my Camelbak in my bin in case I wanted it later in the day.  This race was a 16.5 mile loop that you could do 2 times for a 50k (+) finish or 3 times plus a 1/2 mile baby loop for the 50 mile finish.  I tried to start out at a comfortable pace, one that wouldn't keep me from being able to run the full 50 miles since I still hadn't decided how far I was running.  Not too far into each loop we turned off the trail for the longest stretch on dirt road of the course, 1.25 miles including a steep down hill that I was dreading in the 3rd loop.  I settled in with a couple guys for a little while, they were also trying to make sure they didn't start out too quickly.  At the bottom of the hill we got to the first of the aid stations.  I grabbed a chunk of banana and  had some Heed.  Then we headed into the section of the course which I think held the largest climb, it wasn't too steep, but continued most of the way to the second aid station.  

Jaime is in the pink
After the second aid station we passed by a pond then headed out on a small lollipop loop with gentle climbs and descents.  I think this was where I started running with Jaime, she was running her first 50 miler and had come up from NYC.  We ran most of the rest of the loop together.  There were a few different logs to step over and other things to be careful of.  We got back around to the 3rd aid station which was really just an extension of the 2nd station as we finished the lollipop.  I was feeling pretty good so far, power hiking the climbs, running the flats and downs.  I wanted to make sure I was taking in enough calories, so I tried to dig some shot blocks out of the pocket of my water bottle.  As I was doing so, I caught my toe on something and went down, doing a belly flop onto the trail.  Fortunately since I took most of the impact on my stomach and ribs, my knees and hands seemed to be fine, but I was covered with dirt and wood chips. I picked up the wrapper I had dropped when I fell and headed onward trying to brush off some of the mess.  A lady who had won the series a few years ago was running with me then, she made sure I was alright.  

Not too much farther along, we came to the one aid station that only had water, I took a cup to wash off my stomach.  Then we headed into my favorite field of the race, it has a lone tree just as you enter it and an amazing view of the valley.  I also noticed as we ran through some of the fields that the tall grasses had a wide range of colors:  yellow, green, lavender...  It was gorgeous.  On the far side of the field there was a little wooded section before the gate.

The day was warm, but not too humid and race updates had promised ice out on the course starting during the 2nd loop.  I was doing a good job eating and drinking, taking heed at each aid station, sometimes grabbing PB &J or banana.  I worked on the uphills but not too hard.  Occasionally I caught a glimpse of Nancy, the lady who had beaten me in the last race.  The course was really dry, only a little bit of mud in a few spots.  The first year I ran this race it had been really wet during June which had resulted in many areas of ankle deep mud.  So the course was much more runnable than in other years.  As Jaime and I were finishing the first loop we both decided to hit the bathroom before heading out for the next loop.  I think we came through the first lap in around 2:43.  I also decided to change out my socks and add some more body glide to my feet.  I grabbed my other bottle and headed out for lap 2.

I felt pretty good but still wasn't decided about whether I would be done after 2 laps or if I would go the whole distance.  Every once in a while I settled in with another runner for a little while, but much of the time was spent by myself.  I gratefully accepted ice in my bottle at the first aid station.  Then it was up the long climb again.  I think I passed people in this stretch each loop. I focused on a consistent pace, comfortable, running strong but loose.  I suppose I knew I wasn't going to let myself quit after 2 loops, since if that were going to be my choice, I really would have needed to be pushing harder, running faster.  I just kept going at the pace I thought would enable me to finish the full 50 miles.  I talked to others as we ran together, and quite a few of them were using the race as their last long run before the Vermont 100.  (I have started thinking about running a 100 at some point.  I think I would like to pace someone for the end of a 100 to get a little bit of a sense of the event.)  During the 2nd loop I passed some of the 25k competitors, they had started an hour and a half after us.  I think I may also have passed one or 2 people who were doing the 50k.

I never got around to picking up the pace during that loop, so I guess I had decided that I was going to do the full 50 miles.  I let one lady who I had swapped back and forth with a few times drop me as she was pushing to the finish.  As I came into the lap point I ran over the timing mat for those who were going on to the cheers of those camped out in chairs.  I tried to take care of any needs quickly, changed my socks again, applying some more lube to my feet in the process.  I grabbed a bit more food, made sure my water was full, and headed out for my last lap.  Not too far out into the lap, I looked around and it didn't look familiar to me, I didn't remember running under that low hanging tree...  Shoot, did I get off course?  I went a little farther and it still didn't look familiar.  I turned around and headed back down the trail.  Fortunately I saw a guy I had passed just a little bit before coming toward me, so I decided that I had been going the right way, turned back around and headed on my way.  I was still able to take in some food, I drank lots of Heed, did what I could to get calories and keep from overheating.  I felt a lot better than I had the year before during the third loop.  I ended up finishing in 9:06, more than 30 minutes faster than last year.  The day was a little warmer than last year, but the course was drier, less muddy, so much more runnable.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fresh as a Daisy, 30 Mile Race Report

This past Saturday I returned to Fabius, New York to run Highland Forest 1, 2, 3 for my second time.  The race is a 10 mile trail loop that you can run 1, 2, or 3 times, hence the name.  Last year we had a very rainy May with a strong storm blowing through the night before the race, so the trail was a mess.  The mud was more than ankle deep over much of the course with water flowing down the trail in a number of places.  This May has been pretty dry in Upstate NY, so I was reasonably sure the trail would be much more runnable.  The weather, on the other hand, was looking a bit ominous, only getting down to 70 overnight and topping out in the mid 80s.  Hot weather definitely slows me down and can make a run a lot less enjoyable.  Oh well, nothing I can do about the weather other than make sure I go into the race well hydrated with decent electrolytes.

The weekend before the race I was signed up to run the Cleveland Marathon, but the weather was going to be in the 80s, so I opted for running a local 10k instead. I ran only a little slower than my PR, so it was a good strong effort.  I got in 10 miles for the day including warm up and cool down.  Monday I did 30 minutes of stair climbing and a 1 hour strength class.  Tuesday I ran 10 miles at a comfortable pace including a few hills.  Wednesday I went out for 1 hour of power walking, a little over 5 miles.  Thursday was a rest day, then Friday I ran a short depletion run to help with my carb loading for the race.  All I still needed to take care of was to pack my bin of race supplies and try to get a good night sleep.

5:15 race morning I was wide awake, so I got up and started my race prep.  32 ounces of Ultra Fuel to drink, man does that taste bad, and that is a lot of liquid in my belly, but it gave me 700 calories of easily digested carb to start my day.  I set out a little before 5:45 and arrived right around 7:30.  I got my bib, set up my chair, grabbed a couple things out of my bin for my last minute prep:  body glide, sun block, bug spray, contacts, garmin, road id, race belt to hold my bib.  

There were a lot more people at the race this year.  I figure part of that was due to the nicer weather.  It is hard to size up the competition at an event like this, where everyone starts together then chooses how far they will run.  I didn't see the lady who had won last year, but that didn't mean that she definitely wasn't there, sometimes I miss things...  For me running ultras isn't all about how I place, I really do enjoy being out there testing what my body is capable of, but since I have done well in the Western NY Ultra Series in the past, placement does come into it.

One thing that I try to focus on as I start an ultra is pacing.  I started out near the middle of the pack, not worrying about who was ahead or behind for the moment.  I know that if I want to run my best I need to run my own race for at least the first 2/3s, after that maybe I can start worrying about where others are. Very shortly after the start we got into single track running.  A gully slowed the line of people to a walk, but then it opened up again some.  The terrain rolls a lot on this course with few flat areas.  When we hit a long climb, it was easy to tell who was only intending to run 1 lap.  Those of us in it for the long haul walked or power hiked the climb.

The other big thing is nutrition/ hydration.  I carried a 20 ounce hand held water bottle with a gel and some shot blocks tucked into it.  The first of 3 on course aid stations is about 1.9 miles into the loop.  There were plenty of cups of water and sports drink, but I bypass them since I am carrying what I need.  Shortly after that we hit a really rooty section of the trail where you had to pick your footing very carefully.  Even with the dry May, there were still a number of places where it is very hard to avoid the mud.  I had my gel a little before halfway through the loop.

For a couple miles in the middle of the loop, I settled in with another woman. We passed through the second aid station a little over midway through the loop.  She had just run a 50 miler the week before so was planning on taking the first couple of loops easy.  She had run seven 50 milers before and had broken 8 hours in some of them.  That was a bit intimidating, I have only run one 50 miler and wasn't much under 10 hours...  She was so smooth and effortless through challenging footing and quick on the down hills.  On the climb leading to mile 7 I pulled away from her as I was power hiking.

Once you get 7 miles into the loop, I think the trail gets a bit easier.  I ran with a guy from the Syracuse area for a little while, he had done 17 hours of hiking the previous weekend.  There was a downhill leading to a creek then another decent climb.  Not too long after that we get to the third aid station.  I remember from last year that there is less than 1 mile left in the loop from that point and it is pretty easy running. We passed and I greeted a family out for a walk with a couple dogs.  I made sure to finish the shot blocks before the end of the loop.  A little farther along one of the other runners, who was finished after one lap, was cheering us on telling us only 1/4 mile to the end.  "And then 2 more laps" is my response.  

As I finished the lap I traded out my empty bottle for the full bottle that had more shot blocks and another gel packed into it.  One cup of sports drink and I headed out for my second loop.  At the first aid station I caught up to another guy.  The people working the aid station ask us how it is going as we drink some sports drink.  The guy said not too well.  He followed me out of the aid station.  I warned him that I wouldn't be too quick through the rooty section, to which he responded that he probably should slow down anyway.  A little farther along, a friend of his caught up to us.  We had different paces on the climb, so we went our separate ways.  About 3.5 miles into the loop I had my second gel.  

At the second aid station I needed to refill my bottle, it had warmed up some so I was drinking more.  Mark, the guy I wad run much of the race with last year, was just heading out from the aid station with another guy.  I decided to try to keep up with them for a bit.  It was a bit of work, but nice to have company   for a few miles. We passed the family with the 2 dogs again, so I greeted them again. Mark's friend stumbled in one of the muddy sections but was able to wash off at one of the stream crossings.  On the hard climb leading to mile 7 I pulled away from them.  It was a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed being out for a nice long run.  I had my shot blocks before the end of the lap.  

At the end of the second lap they asked if I was finished.  When I responded that I was continuing, someone said I looked as fresh as a daisy, to which I responded "Don't come too close, I son't smell as fresh as a daisy."   I refilled my bottle and grabbed some garotaid blocks to go along with the gel I had picked up from one of the aid stations.  I asked if there were any other women already out on their 3rd loop and was told no.  So I knew there wasn't anyone I needed to catch, but I thought that other lady might still catch me.  

Off I went, trying to maintain a good pace.  Down across the first creek and up the other side.  Hey, there is the family again, I greet them for the final time.  The mother exclaimed that what I was doing was fantastic. Then there was a big climb, it was much harder work to power hike it that time.  At the first aid station I grabbed another cup of sports drink and continued on.  As I went through the rooty section I had to be a little more careful because my feet were threatening to cramp.  More climbs, more descents, I keep pushing on.  At the second aid station I paused to refill my bottle again.  As I drank a cup of sports drink, I heard someone say hi and run on through.  It was the lady who had run a 50 last week and she looked perky.  The drive and desire to follow her and fight for the lead just wasn't there.  I only wanted to not let her get more than 5 minutes ahead of me.  

I worked my way up the tough climb to mile 7 glad that I wouldn't have to do that again.  I couldn't see that lady anywhere ahead of me but kept pushing.  I picked my way carefully through some of the muddy parts trying to avoid foot cramps, then started running again.  I knew I was moving a little slower this loop, but I also knew that I could still possibly make it in 30 minutes faster than last year.  On the last big climb I caught up to another man.  "We can do it." I said.  He responded that his quads had never rebelled this much before.  Once we reached the top of the hill, I pushed on to try to reach my goal if possible. On the uneven footing my right foot rolled in and I could feel one blister really sharply, I just needed to push on even though it hurt.   Once I got past the third aid station I picked up the pace.  Out of the woods for the final time, just one little climb up the driveway.  The clock was in sight, I could make it.  Final push to a strong finish.  

It was nice to be done.  Man was I warm.  Fortunately there was a hose available to wash off the mud and cool off.  When I took my shoes off, I found one popped blister on the outside of my right big toe.  That was the only blister, so my feet were so much better off than they had been after BPAC.  My legs were tired, but not too sore, so second guessing started to set in.  Maybe I could have kept up with the other woman, maybe I could have been faster on the third lap...  But still I was very happy to have finished over 30 minutes faster than last year with much more even splits.  Here are my stats: 5th place overall of 19 30 mile finishers, lap 1   1:40:31, lap 2  1:44:59 for a cumulative 3:25:30, lap 3   1:49:03 for a finish time of 5:14:32.  32 people ran 20 miles, 82 people ran 10 miles.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

The 6 Hour Race

Yesterday I tried a new challenge, a race that was about seeing how far you could go in a given time rather than one where you see how fast you can cover a certain distance.  The race was 6 hours long circling a 3.25 mile loop.  Well, the course was more of a P shape with an overlap for a little over .6 miles in each direction as one finishes one lap then starts the next.  I really liked that layout because it allowed me to pay attention to the other female runners to know my place and whether we were getting farther away or closer to each other.  I also saw a number of the same guys lap after lap and was able to gauge how I was doing relative to a number of other runners.  

Yes, I know I only ran Boston just under 2 weeks ago, but the heat kept me from pushing too hard.  I took the time between races fairly easy, maybe 4 runs, 2 lifting classes, 2 times on the stairs, so I was feeling ready to go.  My friend Chris also decided to take this challenge.  The race was scheduled to start at 8 and packet pickup was supposed to be done by 7:30, so we started driving at 5:30.  We arrived a little before packet pickup started and they were running late, so we kept warm in the car.  The weather was amazing, frosty to start with, little wind, clear blue skies, so many people showed up for day of registration.  I set out a chair and my bin of supplies, decided that with the sunshine warming me, I was probably fine to run in just shorts and my singlet.  A couple port o potty stops and we were ready to go.  

A couple minutes after 8am 99 people set off on this adventure.  I was hoping to run 40 miles, which averages out to 9 minute miles, but I knew there would be some stops to refuel, potty, check my feet, so I thought 8:40s might be a good pace.  Chris and I set off together, I was watching as the group settled into their paces, trying to note where the lead women were.  I was pretty sure there were 2 women in front of me, also one who looked like she would be a strong runner settled in a little behind me at what I was guessing was a 9 minute pace.  Chris and I were a little faster than 8:40s but not by much, so I decided not to worry, the pace felt really slow.  The course rolls gently through some fields, beside a golf course, along a creek, past some memorials, and by numerous benches.  There was a spot where you could see the field of runners for a distance in front of you as they made the left hand turn to run along the creek.  We were running along a paved bike path that had the mileage marked out on the ground every .1 of a mile.  There were other people out enjoying the day walking their dogs, riding their bikes, doing a training run.  All in all, I thought it was a good course.  

Chris and I made it through the first lap in about 28 minutes, seemed doable.  I grabbed a chunk of banana, a glass of Heed, and off we headed for the second lap.  In that out and back section, I confirmed that there were 2 women in front of us.  It was good information to know, but at that point, it wasn't going to influence how I was running.  I knew I needed to run my own race, try to start out conservatively enough that I would have gas left in the tank at the end.  There was a little breeze to keep us cool, the sun was rising higher in the cloudless sky, very pleasant running weather. We passed an older couple who I think were also participants in the race about half way through that lap. That lap was also right around 28 minutes, good stuff, but lots farther to go.  

At the beginning of the 4th lap I took a quick potty break.  The lead female was looking strong and extending her lead by a little bit each lap.  The second female wasn't too far ahead.  During this lap, Chris's left foot was starting to hurt him.  He decided to change into more rugged shoes after that lap and see if it helped.  I went through the lap point a headed out as he changed his shoe.  I'm pretty sure the second female was refueling right by the lap point when I went by, so I moved into 2nd.  The first place male lapped me very shortly after I started my 5th lap. I kept looking over my shoulder for Chris, I didn't see him when I made the left hand turn and could see runners for 1/2 mile or so behind me.  Ok, I guess the other shoes didn't feel any better, I need to get comfortable running on my own.  Shortly into that lap I had noticed that I was starting to get some hot spots on my right foot, so I decided to attend to that next time I went by my stuff.  As I sat down in my chair to switch out my sock and add more baby powder to my foot Chris went racing by.  Yay, I would still have company.  

We started out on our 6th lap.  I was still feeling pretty good, taking in some calories every lap.  I had brought pb & j on a flour tortilla, I used that to supplement the fare offered at the aid station.  Chris said his foot felt good during his speedy lap chasing me down, but that it was hurting again at my pace.  It was getting a little warmer, but still quite reasonable.  It looked like the guy who had been running with the lead woman wasn't with her any more.  She was still running strong.  When we finished that lap, I needed another potty stop.  Unfortunately it was occupied and another woman was waiting...  very slow start to my 7th lap.  At least it gave Chris time to put in his orthotics. One mile into lap 7 marked 20 miles into the day!  I told Chris we were halfway there.  He said no, since we were still a bit under 3 hours.  In my mind I was halfway done.  Just a little later, Chris decided he needed to walk it in.  I supported his choice to listen to his body and headed on my way.  

I made various adjustments at the lap point, one time I switched out the left sock, another I grabbed some immodium, I reapplied body glide...  I should have thought to add sunblock to my lower back when I tucked my shirt up into my sports bra, but I didn't.  Around 4 hours in, I was about halfway through my 9th lap and I could tell I was getting to the point in the race where it doesn't feel easy anymore.  I chatted with one of the other runners about how it would be nice to push the fast forward button and have only 15 more minutes to run.  There were only a couple men who had lapped me, I was still watching for the lead man to lap me again.  I had been consistently picking people off, lapping some, also passing some who had been staying just a little ahead of me for the rest of the race.  As I came in at the end of the lap I was still watching where the lead woman was.  I realized that she wasn't increasing her lead, in fact I had started making up a little distance on her.  Stink, that meant I needed to stay focused and working hard to see if I could keep cutting into her lead.  

The breeze had picked up so there were some stretches where we were fighting the wind.  Sometimes I would have someone to run with for a mile or so.  I would chat, sometimes they had something to say back.  I was really impressed by the perseverance of so many of the runners and walkers out there.  They just kept going even though the distance was wearing on all of us.  As I approached the end of my 10th lap I was only about 3/4 of a mile behind the lead woman.  Ok, gotta keep working, need to dig deep.  Got another full bottle of Heed, ate a Honey stinger waffle, needed to keep fueling, still more than 7 miles left.  At the end of the 11th lap, I was only about 1/2 mile back.  No rest for the weary, stay strong, stay focused.  Off I go, less than 5 miles until 6 hours are finished.  I can do it.  End of the 12th lap, she is about .3 ahead, still gaining on her.  Only 15 minutes of time left, I'll definitely make it past 40 miles, don't think there is enough time left to catch her.  

As I went through the lap point I asked what the deal was with the next partial lap.  They said we had to finish the whole lap and then they would prorate the distance we would have gotten in before the 6 hour make.  Ugh, I had thought I only needed to run 15 minutes more, now I find out I need to cover another 3.25 miles.  Nothing to be done but get out there and do it.  I passed the 1 mile mark, yay 40 miles!  Right about then I caught the first place man (he was still 2 laps ahead of me), he was walking.  I said come on, and he joined me running.  He asked me if I had caught the first place woman yet.  I said no and pointed her out ahead of us.  I said I could sprint to catch her, but didn't want it that bad/ that way.  Then I realized how much ground we were making up on her by just running a steady pace.  We made the left hand turn and were by her, 5:55 into the race.  On we went, at 6 hours my Garmin read 40.84 miles.  We kept going since they were going to base our distance on how quickly we finished the whole lap.  I kept glancing behind to see where she was, I really wanted to walk it in rather than keep running.  She wasn't close, but we only had 1 1/4 miles left, keep going.  So far I had only walked through the aid station, I hadn't walked out on the loop, why change that now (because I had already finished the 6 hours, that's why), keep going.  I watched the tenths tick by on the path, counting down.  I tried to keep encouraging others as we went by.  Less than 5 minutes left, you can do it.  Only .4, .3, .2, it is getting so close.  Finally crossed the finish just under 6:13.  They prorated my distance to 40.785.  The lead man ended up with a new course record by .05 miles, I can't help but feel like I helped him get there in the end.  I am so pleased with how I ran.  

I had some gnarly blisters on each toe next to my little toe on the top side toward my middle toe.  Not quite sure how I managed that. I also ended up with a little chafing, sun burn on my lower back, sore knees, and a sore lower back, but it was all worth it.  Such a good day.  

The stats:

6 hr Endurance

40.785     Danielson, Heather Rochester NY Overall Female
Distance Name City State Category

6:00:00        End Lap 12 1418
Time Last Location Bib

1st Female  5th overall

Location Overall Time, Place at location   Segment Time,   Rank Segment Pace

End Lap 1 0:27:58 26 0:27:58 27       08:36
End Lap 2    0:56:02 23 0:28:04 22       08:38
End Lap 3 1:24:19 22 0:28:17 24       08:42
End Lap 4    1:52:32           23 0:28:13 22       08:41
End Lap 5   2:20:29 21 0:27:57 19       08:36
End Lap 6    2:47:56 17 0:27:27 12       08:27
End Lap 7    3:17:44 15 0:29:48 16       09:10
End Lap 8 3:46:58 14 0:29:14               6       09:00
End Lap 9 4:15:43 12 0:28:45              5       08:51
End Lap 10 4:45:01            8 0:29:18 6       09:01
End Lap 11 5:14:18 8 0:29:17 4       09:01
End Lap 12 5:44:12           6 0:29:54 4       09:12
End Lap 13  6:12:58 5 0:28:46 1       08:51

The swag:

Thanks for reading.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Boston Experience

This past weekend I finished the Boston Marathon for the 5th time.  In the days leading up to the race the forecasted  temperature kept rising.  On Saturday the BAA (race organizers) sent out an e-mail offering the option to defer your race entry if you were not in top fitness and warning us that 'speed kills'.  On Sunday the BAA sent out another e-mail which included this:   For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.  I was not deterred.  I had run a few hot races before including a hot and humid marathon where I was sweating before the start gun.  I adjusted my goals,  hydrated well with sports drink the day before, slathered on sun block, tucked my ice towel into the back of my shirt (an expo purchase, claimed to stay 20 degrees cooler than ambient temp when kept wet), and headed to the start with 2 friends.  I opted to carry my hand held water bottle with me and had a few different things in the pocket:  electrolyte tablets, triple sodium shot blocks, and in case things got really bad I had a $10 Dunkin Donut gift card and $5 cash.  If the heat really got bad, I figured a Coolata might be just the trick.

One final port o potty stop, then we filed into the back of our corral.  The sun was blazing, the volunteers were handing out water to us as we walked to the start line.  Finally about 10 minutes after the gun we crossed the start.  Our plan was to start right around 8 minute miles and see how it felt.  

myself, Ron, and Dan near the 1 mile mark

In the first few miles I reigned us in a few times, trying to make sure we weren't too far under the pace we were shooting for.  Starting out too fast in a marathon can ruin your race, especially on a hot day. We watched so many people pull away, but I was pretty sure we would be seeing many of them later. The miles were slipping by easily, but it was warm.  We hit each water stop and ran through hoses and sprinklers.  Sometimes one of us would move to the side to give the kids high 5s, it would both take some energy, but the energy the crowd gave back was great.  Somehow I didn't notice the biker bar when we ran by.  I did see Santa, the reflective window where we are encouraged to check ourselves out, the kids bouncing on trampolines (Ron ran by them giving high 5s).  I didn't see that many people in costume, but we were running by a joggler for quite a while. My main focus was looking down the road to see where the hoses and sprinklers were.   At one point, looking in front of me, there were almost no runners in the road.  They had all veered left onto the sidewalk to go through a little piece of heaven, the first misting station, a 10 foot long tunnel with many different spray heads raining down blissfully cool water.  I think there ended up being 3 of these along the course, a-mazing!  Also fabulous were the ice cubes some people had.  Whenever I got some ice, most of it went in my sports bra, both front and back.  If I still had more, it went into my water bottle.

I think we all felt pretty good through 10 miles.  Right around that point we caught up with our friend Mike who was eating his way through the course.  At that point he was consuming a popsicle, which he said was his 11th food item.  He stayed with us for a little bit, but had already adopted a run walk strategy, so let us go.  I was starting to feel like I was working to maintain the pace, which isn't good when I hadn't even reached the half way point.  Oh well, at least we were starting to hear Wellesley.  We crested the hill to masses of Wellesley girls, screaming, cheering, holding up all varieties of kiss me signs.  In my past 4 runnings of Boston I had stuck to the left side of the road through Wellesley to avoid the runners slowing for kisses.  I hadn't really thought about it before reaching this point, but I realized I had no real time goals (I was pretty sure 3:30 was being tossed out the window, maybe I could still hold on for 3:40 my qualifying time), the day was going to be tough, why not get my first Wellesley kiss.  I darted right with an exclamation of 'why not' to Ron and Dan.  I'm pretty sure I took the girl by surprise, but I got a kiss on the cheek and was on my way.  

Very shortly after Wellesley, Dan said he would need to slow down.  I knew I was feeling the effort too, I considered shifting into walk run with Dan, but Ron was continuing onward.  I didn't feel that bad, so on I went.  A little after mile 14 I decided to let Ron go and caught up with another friend, Chad, who does not run well in heat.  I walked a little with him and saw a local friend, Laura, just up ahead.  The 3 of us ran and walked together until around mile 16.  We commiserated about the conditions, hit the sprinklers, hit the water stops, and Chad said he would take the T back from mile 17.  

Laura took off ahead and Chad dropped off behind and it was just me heading into the hills.  When I first started to feel the fatigue and the heat, I told myself that I could walk the hills.  Other than while I was drinking, I didn't walk on the hills.  I guess I really wasn't as bad off as many runners out there that day.  I felt hot, but not terrible, my breathing was fine, no dizziness, no cramping, I couldn't tell if I was sweating or not since I kept pouring so much water over myself, no random chills.  I don't think I was really in heat distress, so I kept on trucking.  On the other hand, I also had let go of goals and didn't have the desire to push hard enough to possibly end up in heat distress, so it was a casually moving truck. 

30k, still trying to smile for the cameras
My cousin and her family live in the area and had told me that they would be on the hill between mile 19-20 on the right hand side, so I moved right well before that point and started scanning the crowd.  I kept worrying that I had missed them as I got farther into the mile, but then I heard her voice and saw her boys.  Her husband had a cold wet sponge for me, it was fabulous.  Ok, 3 hills done, only one to go.  This is going to happen.  

I was amazed at how many people were walking, not just on the hills, but wherever.  And I had been seeing many walking from pretty early in the race.  That meant that even with my slow run and walking through water stops, I was passing a lot of people.  One thing that kept playing in the back of my mind was the thought how high can I place.  I knew I wasn't running what I had set out to run, but I also knew I was still running while many others weren't.  At the top of Heartbreak I was pretty sure it should be fairly clear sailing to the finish.  I was debating how much I cared about my finish place.  Caution ended up winning out, I continued casually trucking.  Running down the hill hurt, but not terribly.  The crowd at Boston College was loud and fun.  There were a few people passing me, ones who had a hunger for doing well.  I just watched them go by as I kept moving comfortably.  Still, there were many more people being passed by me than I was passing.  I offered a few of them electrolyte tablets if they looked like they were cramping, but no one took me up on the offer.

The next big milestone for most people is the Citgo sign which is 1 mile from the finish.  For me the Citgo sign was just and indicator that I needed to be running on the left hand side of the road. Not many people were running on this side of the road since there was a little shade on the other side.  I gave high 5s to a bunch of rowdy college kids and they screamed.  I was looking ahead, scanning the crowd.  The thing that we had been talking about for weeks, years even, was just ahead.  I hoped I wouldn't miss my opportunity. I knew i was getting fairly close to a 3:40 finishing time, but this was more important that my time. Then the joy as I spotted him, I had found the right location.  I saw Troy, Ashley, Meg, Rick, our contingent at cannoli corner.  But they weren't looking at the road, so I said (maybe it sounded like a demand) 'Where's my cannoli?'  One was taken out of the ice chest for ma and I was off.  
Where's my cannoli?

Ok, I had my cannoli, I should eat it right?  I took a bite and almost choked, took my last swallow of water from my bottle and proceeded onward periodically raising up the cannoli to the crowd.  Down and up the underpass, lots of people were struggling.  Then the right hand turn was in sight, right on Hereford.  Last year I was flying at this point and quickly on the the Left hand turn for Boyelston.  Not so this year, I was still running, but I really noticed that it was uphill on that section.   Finally, the left hand turn, one long straight away to the finish.  The cannoli was eliciting cheers, I had only lost one glob of ricotta filling.  When I passed the 26 mile mark, I realized I could possibly still get in under 3:40 so I picked it up.  With the cannoli upraised in celebration I finished in 3:39:57 according to my watch (3:39:50 according to my chip.)  I was so glad to be done with that.  Amazingly enough that is my 2nd fastest Boston and I finished in the mid 4000s.  Quite a move up from my bib number.  

Other than running I got to hang out with my cousin and her family, a friend who had moved away, lots of my imaginary running friends, and some of my local crew.  I also spoke to a few people about establishing contacts for selling my prints, delivered some custom t-shirts, delivered many Boston RWOL shirts, and sold a few prints.  All in all, a fabulous weekend with an interesting running experience.  I think this year's Boston colors were a predictor of the weather, not to self:  do not plan on a fast Boston on years with red or orange gear.