Back on My Feet 24-Hour Race Video

It’s the final countdown (to race weekend!)

img_6550-editUnless you are a stranger to my blog, you probably have heard that my goal-race for 2014 is a few days away. If you are tired of hearing about it, I apologize. It will be over soon. I decided to take a second go at a 24-hour race this year for a few different reasons: to prove to myself that though I failed at this goal two years ago, I am capable of achieving 100 miles within 24 hours. To push myself really hard. To learn from my mistakes two years ago and to train wiser. But perhaps the most important reason: To motivate and inspire my athletes, readers, and folks out there somewhere questioning what they are capable of. After all, I am not an elite athlete, and I am not someone with a long resume of Ultra Marathon experiences. I am an Average Jane, and if I can possibly accomplish this, perhaps it will make you question your own strength and capabilities. That, or it will just confirm your initial thoughts that I am crazy.

The final days leading up to this race are a mixed bag of anxiety and the calm before the storm. I am still coaching and pacing this week, though I have cut back on mileage and intensity, and am doing my best to protect my body while still doing my job as a coach. Thankfully, my athletes have been extremely understanding and supportive.

I have two goals for race weekend: Stay out of the medical tent and finish 100 miles within 24 hours. Neither goal is going to be easy for me. Thankfully, I have a team of supportive friends  and family who will be there at times to pace me, and a boyfriend who is going to be the brains of the operation. I am trusting my support, and applying what I have learned from this race in 2012, and from my scientific approach to training this time around. While weather looks like it will be a challenge, I have accepted that all I can do is adjust to conditions and do my best. After all, I’m the nut who signed up for a 24-hour race in July, in city that’s notorious for it’s hot and humid summers.

When my nerves kick in, I remind myself that as soon as the gun goes off and my legs start moving I will be fine. I know my nerves will settle, and all I can do is put one foot in front of the other. I also know that running and challenging myself makes me happy. I already have a list of “happy thoughts” and people to think of who inspire me or are meaningful to me to help through those tough patches.

As far as training goes, here’s what my mileage has looked like these last few weeks:

May 19-25 – 70 miles

May 26 – June 1 – 80 miles

June 2-8 – 60 miles

June 9-15 – 90 miles

June 16-22 – 100 miles

June 23-29 – 60 miles

June 30 – July 6 – 75 miles

July 7-13 – 60 miles

July 14-20 – 20 miles + RACE

All of the miles have been run at an easy, conversational pace. I haven’t set foot on a track or even done a tempo run in months. Yes, I am sure I am slow as a snail right now, but my methods have seemed to pay off. Very few aches and pains, and no injuries waiting in the wings. Now all I can do is rest, relax and wait for Saturday morning.


Ultra Taper Time!

Back on My Feet 2012. After 13.5 hours, 67 miles and out of the medical tent, with Chris.

Back on My Feet 2012. After 13.5 hours, 67 miles and out of the medical tent, with Chris.

It’s a funny thing to be on the edge of your goal-race. I have been open in the past about how hard tapering can be, and how personally I don’t handle the anxiety well. I suppose this makes me a sympathetic and understanding coach – which is a good thing. As an athlete though, I do not love it. I am under two weeks away from my 100-mile goal in the Back on my Feet 24-hour race. Unlike a 10K or marathon, where my nerves are more about pacing, embracing the pain of working hard, fueling smart, using as little energy as possible, and visualizing the course and how I’ll feel, there’s more to a 24-hour race. Yes, I am also focusing on nutrition, pacing, etc., but the truth is, I have yet to ever run close to 100 miles within 24 hours. Attempting to do so when temperatures may reach 90-100 degrees – that makes me very nervous. Terrified, even.

I guess what’s different about this race is that failing to achieve my goal would be the result of something going terribly wrong. Usually when I fail to achieve a time goal in a Half Marathon or Marathon, it’s not because I end up in a medical tent with IVs in my arm. Usually those failures are due to my head simply not being in the game, going out too fast, less than idea temperatures for racing, a bad morning – while these things suck and can certainly be defeating, I have always walked away from those races knowing it wasn’t my day. That I could take another crack at it. That I was stronger than that. In the back of my mind I question if I am physically and mentally capable of ever covering 100 miles within 24 hours.

I give myself the same pre-race advice I give my athletes: I have a plan for race day, and I plan to stick with it unless I need to be even more conservative. I am trusting my training. I have run my highest-mileage weeks ever within the last 6 weeks, and I should trust how well I handled that. I am not injured, which for many of us is a huge asset pre-race. I’d be the first to admit that I’ve run a dozen or so races on legs or feet that weren’t near 100%. I have secondary goals, though I REALLY want that 100+ mile goal. But, since I cannot control the weather, it could be a day where everyone struggles for a triple-digit race, and so I may need to adjust my goals. My race is between myself, the clock, and doing better than I did at this race in 2012. I am not going to allow myself to compare myself or compete with anyone on the course until I make it to 100 miles. If I get to 100 miles and still feel okay enough to press on, I may plan to chase after the ladies in front of me, but first I need to get to 100 miles for myself. I am also reminding myself that as large and epic as this race goal may be to me, it is not the end of the world. No matter what happens on July 19-20th, I will have future races if I want them. I am focusing on how grateful I am to have an awesome support system of family and friends on my team. I am thankful to be able to draw on their strength, energy and motivation when I want to give up.

If you have a goal race on the horizon, remember that nerves can be a good thing. It means you care. Just don’t let your nerves break you down. When the gun goes off and you put one foot in front of the other, your mind and body will relax. It always happens. It’s often just a matter of getting through the taper and to the starting line.

I am terrified of race day. I want to cry, and scream and have a dance party all at the same time. I’ve questioned my sanity. I respect the challenge and realize it should be feared. But I am also excited and almost giddy. Is there anything that makes you feel more aline than extreme joy and pain? In a race, we are lucky enough to feel perhaps more alive than ever.

Ultra Progress, Summer Tips and High Mileage

Ultra Training Update and Summer Training Tips

With special guest Chris, we discuss my training 6 weeks out from race day and our plan for a successful race weekend. Tips on hydration, heat, sweat rate, and other difficulties summer training and racing – and how your bathroom scale can be a handy training tool. Thanks for your support as I continue on this journey! July 19-20th will be here before we know it. Happy running!

Ultra Update

The weeks and months leading up to a big race are sometimes the most exciting months you can experience. It’s like waiting for potential college acceptance letters to arrive in the mail, or the anticipation of a birthday party or Christmas for a child. However, unlike those exciting events, the weeks leading up to a goal race include lots of training, hard work, and focus. There is no sitting back and waiting for the big day. Instead, you are actively pursuing your goals.

Two years ago, when I was training for the Back on My Feet 20 in 24, fear of the unknown drove me to train. Having never attempted a 24-hour race before, the unknown can light a fire of fear under one’s ass. You expect race day to hurt, to be hard, and to be something you are hopefully prepared for – thanks to your training. This time around, I know my weaknesses in this kind of race. Perhaps I should be even more scared this time around because now I know how badly I can fall apart, but I am strangely confident in what needs to be done between now and July 19th. I know I need to put in a lot of work, and instead of fearing the pain and fatigue, I welcome it. I welcome the challenge of staying focused and of playing with hydration and fueling. Instead of being driven by fear, and I am driven by redemption.

Two years ago I was training like a reckless runner. Slamming my legs on the track once per week, powering through tempo runs once per week, clocking 50-mile weekends, and peaking at 80+ mile weeks. My body was stressed too hard too frequently. Aches and pains became an issue, especially in my left ankle. I would ice it or rest it for a day, and then take it for a spin on the track. For my body, it was simply too much. This time around, I am not on the track and am not running many tempo runs. My fastest miles have been on par with my slowest at the Philly Marathon. I have realized and learned from my own experiences that if I want my mileage to comfortably hit 80-100 mile weeks, I simply cannot be running any of those miles hard. The lesson here is that if we learn from our mistakes, those mistakes are worth making.

While I still have eight weeks before the big day to make progress, there’s obviously the chance that between now and then some aches and pains could creep back in. However, as of the day this blog goes up, I feel pretty darn good. No ankle pain, no heel pain, and the IT band that sometimes acts up seems to loosen and relax a few miles into my runs. It has taken me a long time, but I am finally looking at the challenge of an Ultra like an Ultra runner – not a mid-distance or marathon runner. I am hoping that mental shift and change in training is what will make the difference.

I encourage you to try new race distances and new challenges, but to also realize that every distance and challenge presents its own unique problems, requirements, and adaptions in your physical and mental training. This can be exciting, fun and fresh. It also requires some caution, trial and error.

Winter Woes and Ultra Training

Back on February 14th, I signed up for the Back on My Feet Ultra Marathon. It was my intention to post weekly vlogs, updating on progress, covering tips for training, thoughts, failures and successes. Sadly, I have yet to take out the video camera. While I am hoping to share some video documentation along the way, I figured I should at least sit down and update you on what has been going on thus far. it is my intention to sit down with the camera soon, I promise.

Boy do I wish I were running here right now! St. Thomas, and I ran on this beach back in August.

Boy do I wish I were running here right now! St. Thomas, and I ran on this beach back in August.

The last month has been insane. Weather has been anything but kind this Winter. While I have been out there day after day with my athletes, running beside them, I have had little motivation to go out on days I am not coaching and clock additional miles. Some of my decisions were safety-related, as the amount of snow, slush and ice on the streets and sidewalks of NYC has been awful many times, and black ice is a nasty beast. I will also confess that I have felt slightly “down” and uninspired to work hard on my own goals.

Another difficulty has been my pacing load. I love my runners, and I am happy to be out there running next to them – even when it’s 5 degrees. I am so proud of my warriors who have hit the streets, day after day in this awful weather. The struggle for me has been that all of the miles tend to bundle within 4 days per week – which obviously is tiring, but also potentially dangerous. I need to make sure I avoid injury, and cramming 50-60 miles within 4 days is a lot for me right now. Therefore, I tend to take the remaining days of the week to rest, because I feel beat up. I need to be more assertive, and move around my coaching to protect myself.

Lastly, my health has been an issue. The last two weeks I have been fighting a terrible chest cold that just won’t quit. It has made it difficult to pace, as my chest often feels tight and I begin to feel light-headed and my legs feel heavy. I am currently finishing a round of antibiotics, and was prescribed an inhaler and nasal spray to help me get over this bug. Not only have I barely run the last two weeks, but I didn’t want to put myself on camera for a vlog while congested, coughing, and blowing my nose. Blah.

I am not worried about my training, because I know I have lots of time between now and July. Right now my focus is on my runners and their goals, and getting healthy. I am excited about daylight savings time, as that should now help a bit with motivation.

I suppose a lesson I have learned and can share with the class is this: the terrible Winter has been grinding at my gears too. You are not alone if you feel unmotivated, frustrated, and simply annoyed with this weather. I feel it too. I am pissed that every single track in NYC has been snow-covered for MONTHS, and that the bridle path in Central Park has also been a slick, snow-covered mess for so much of the Winter season. But I tell myself that this too shall pass, and to relax and just do the best I can until Spring arrives – whenever that will happen.