Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Summer of Running and a Little Cross Training

I have been running a lot this summer and early fall.  It’s been a while since I wrote because I’ve been so busy running!!  I last wrote about getting ready for my Reach the Beach Relay race a few weeks ago.  But unexpectedly I ran in another relay race in the end of September.  A friend’s team for Ragnar Adirondacks was down a runner because of an injury and I filled in.  Oh, let me tell you, I had fun!!

First, let me talk about Reach the Beach relay in New Hampshire on September 12 - 13, 2014.  We drove out to our hotel on Thursday night.  There were some surprises that night like only getting a Tahoe for a vehicle and not a Suburban, which has a lot more room for cargo.  There also weren’t enough beds in the room for 4 people - but I rented a cot so we were fine. Hey, it’s all part of the adventure.

I was part of Van 2 (see last blog to understand how the relay works) but we had to be at the start line with the rest of the team for our safety talk.  Great (read sarcasm), we didn’t get to sleep in.  Again, it’s all part of the adventure.  We started at  Cannon Mountain ski area.  The White Mountains of New Hampshire are absolutely beautiful.  I knew this was going to be a beautiful racing weekend.  


I was runner number 8 and my first leg was 6.7 miles and started at Echo Lake.  It was relatively flat with just little rolling hills.  My partner was fast so I had to run hard.  I made sure to drink my E&E so I was pumped and ready to go. 

About 2 miles before the transition we noticed heavy traffic, which we were running along side.  Then when we had just about 1 mile left we ran past our van.  This wasn’t good.  We were going to beat our vans, and next runners to the transition.  Well, good thing the next runners were experienced.  They jumped out and ran the rest of the way with us.  Crisis diverted!  I had some personal records (PR) on this leg: My average was 8.26 min/mile for a total of 56:17 minutes and my fastest 5K (part of the 6.7 miles) of 25:50 minutes.

My second leg was tough.  It was my “night” run.  It turned out to be closer to 4am but it was dark.  It was supposed to be closer to 2:30 but Van 1 was running behind.  We weren’t quite sure when we’d need to make the transition and I wanted to get up to help my friend prepare for her leg which was right before me.  So woke up at 1am after 2 hours of sleep and then waited.  And waited.  And waited.  

I finally got to run close to 4am.  Not only was this a hilly leg, it was a “wild card” transition, which meant that there was a 2 mile stretch where we could transition rather than one designated spot.  My partner and I took about 3/4 of a mile from runners’ 7 miles.  Their leg was long and literally climbing straight up.  So starting off on a hill that steep wasn’t fun but I dug deep.  I remembered all the training that I had done and the tough workouts like P90X and INSANITY.  I knew I could do it….somehow.  The downhills were hard on my knee, which at one point locked.  It was rough and wasn’t my finest run but I did it.  I was never so happy to see a transition.  I also really had to pee and was never so happy to see a porta-potty!

I tried to do some PiYo moves in between my transitions to help keep loose.  I also drank Results and Recovery to help fuel my muscles.  Sleep was sparse and eating was difficult to time right.  But I pushed on.  That is what a relay race is about after all.  

My last leg was a great one with some small rolling hills.  I was really lucky with my legs.  Some people had moutons to climb up and/or down.  Literally.  Anyway, we ran pretty fast and made up some time.  But I admit, I was tired. We saw some more beautiful mountains and even saw a yard with turkey sitting on the fence and goats butting heads.  It was pretty cool.  I didn’t have as much kick at the end as I usually do but I felt like I finished strong. 

It was a great experience with great people.  I got along well with the other people in my van and our partner van.  I laughed more than I wanted to cry (on that night run).  Actually I can’t remember when I laughed as hard as I did that weekend.  I won’t forget Reach the Beach but I am probably not likely to do it again.  It was very hilly and the end of the relay was cold and wet.  Yes, it started to rain on us. So picture me waiting on the beach for our last runners to come in so we can cross the finish line together while the rain is coming down and the waves are  crashing.  I couldn’t wait to do my next relay but someplace else….hopefully flatter. 

Well, a week and a half later when I just caught up on sleep I get a message from a friend. Do I want to run Ragnar ADK - -they have an injured runner.  My first reaction was “NO!”  Are you kidding me?  Run from Saratoga Springs, up, and I mean up to Lake Placid?  Reach the Beach was hilly — well mountainous but at least it was making its way to a beach.  Ragnar Adirondacks was making its way UP through the Adirondack Mountains!  Then my friend said it was runner 5.  So I checked out the legs for runner 5 and the distances and elevation changes were awesome!


If I was ever going to run Ragnar ADK, this was my opportunity to run relatively flat legs!!  Bottom line is I had a blast.  My first leg was in downtown Saratoga Springs.  3.5 miles.  It was hot in full sun but short so I ran hard.  My legs were ready.  Tony Horton, Shaun T and Chalene Johnson prepared me well for this Ragnar and I ran hard coming in at 30:32 minutes for 3.63 miles.  That is fast for me. 

My second leg was around midnight.  For the two other Ragnar Relays that ran, I had a partner team so the night run wasn’t so scary. This was my first on my own.  Strangely enough when the time came, I wasn’t scared.  I just ran hard.  I “killed” three people — I passed them so I did see some people on the road with me.  I admit, I was scared at one point when I heard a loud, heavy crack of a branch.  Maybe it was a deer.  I’m telling myself it was a deer. I ran 5.68 miles in 48:06 minutes for a 8’28” pace. Once again, Beachbody didn’t let me down. 

My last leg was another story.  It was my longest distance in the relay.  7.96 miles in full sun.  I was so hot.  The last half of the leg was really hilly.  Well, hilly is the wrong word.  It was a climb.  There were no down hills.  It was also on a sandy and rocky dirt road, not pavement.  That hurt.  I hate rocks.  But I managed to do it in a decent time.  Actually I can in under the projected time (pace adjusted for a hill factor and considering runners run slower on the third leg).  I managed to run it in 1:14:22 for a pace of 9’20”.  Very respectable. 

My teammates were there with cold water.  I love them for that.  I had 20 oz of water and nuun water (with nuun electrolyte tab) but I finished that with about 1/4 of a mile left.  I rested and stretched a little bit but then we had to go provide support for the last runner in our van and her leg was even harder.  It was a mountain that she had to climb. 

When the last runner of our van was done we hung around the Ausable.  I stuck my feet in and it felt wonderful.  After we rested we drove to Lake Placid to meet up with van 2 when they were done.  We had some beer and food at the Lake Placid Brewery.  That beer tasted so good.  Ok, it might have been empty calories but I burned about 1,700 calories over the course of my 3 runs and I know I didn’t consume enough to refuel properly!  

So now what?

Now I am a little sad.  I won’t have another relay for a while.  We might to Ragnar DC next September.  There are 2 shorter relays that we are considering.  Maybe I’ll do a trail relay in June.  But my running season is coming to an end.  I will run my Half Marathon on October 12.  I am hoping to come in just under 2 hours.  That will be a PR for me.  Then I will start focusing on cross training again.  I’ll run 2 or 3 times a week but the longest run will only be 6-8 miles. I miss Tony so P90X3 will be my next program.  I will almost certainly go back to using the 21 Day Fix meal guide to take a few pounds off that I let myself gain during this running season.  Its not much but I want it off.  I loved cross training with Focus T25 and PiYo these past few months but its back to X time!  When I am done with the 90 days of that the 21 Day Fix Extreme will be out — Autumn Calabreses’ training program for her bikini competition.  X3 will get me ready to take my training to the next level!  Then before I know it, I will be running again.  And I just might consider a marathon.  You gotta dream.   


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