Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Two Days to Go to the Tough Mudder

OMG... Team Mind over Mudder is getting very, very excited about this event. Kera found the article in the NY Times today! You gotta read the article. I still have goose bumps after reading it. The organizers entered the event in a Business Plan contest at Harvard -- how cool is that! Since I work in economic development, I might know a little about business plans and realize they are key to marketing your company. Obviously, their ideas in the business plan on how to run the event is on-the-money given they sold out in about a month or so. I can't copy the pics from the NY times, so go in the article and run the slide show to see some of the obstacles set up at Bear Creek. The rope bridge looks very, very fun, as does the climb up the ski slope. I'm ready! This is soooo cool.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Four Days to the Tough Mudder - Weather for the Event

Sunday forecast for Bear Creek, Allentown Pennsylvania:

40% chance of Scattered thunderstorms, overnight low of 63 and a high on Sunday of 86.

Damn! I have to rethink my wardrobe. The long tights I was planning to wear will be too hot even if they are soaked most of the time. A switch will have to be made to tri shorts. I really wanted to wear something long to help protect the legs and knees from any road rash from crawling around on the ground and the mud getting caked on everything and rubbed in, but that ain't gonna happen now. The only long lightweight tights I own have bike pads in them and that ain't gonna work in water, then running in them. It's gotta be a tri-pad. The tri-shorts will have to work.

As for the thunderstorms? Bring them on! We're gonna be wet and muddy anyway, why not a little fresh water coming from the sky!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just Five More Days to the Tough Mudder

The training is over and the pre-race (er, "event") jitters and head swimming has begun. If only it was as easy as just showing up and running. The Tough Mudder organizers did a stupendous job of keeping participants informed. From their very thorough website to their e-mails to participants with participant packets, they cover it all. This is a mud run, which means we'll be covered in grime from head to toe and their ain't showers. Granted, the fire company will hose off the worst of the crud, but we'll still have to completely strip after the event and clean out the dirt-filled crevices as best we can until we can get to our showers. Thank god for vans which are the bestest of changing rooms. And then there's the race itself -- what to wear, what energy to drag along, where will I put my energy, etc. Here's a run-down of what I planned out for the event:

Wearing ready-to-toss long running tights. They may be heavy for Sunday's temps in the 70's, but if I'm gonna be wet and muddy, I might be glad for the thickness. I think I'm wearing tri shorts underneath them and a tri top with a bright green old thin top over the tri top. My blubbering belly can't be exposed, thus, the green top over everything. It's snug enough to swim in and long enough to cover the belly pouch.

Also taking a swim cap -- not exactly sure we'll need. I'm still thinking about what to put on my head so my grey locks aren't in my face all the time. I wish I had a snug-fitting buff. I have a red-flowered buff, but it'll come right off when I hit the water. I might have to just pull it up on top of my head in a ponytail. Not sure on that one yet.

Energy - I can't do anything longer than 90 minutes without a fix of something carbohydrate loaded. I'm sticking two gel packs in my shorts. They say there's two water stops on the course which will work out fine.

What time to leave -- we have to be at our staging area by 11:15. I always like to be at an event at least an hour before start time to get parked, registered, and double check everything before the start gun. So that means get there at 10:00ish, leaving home at 8:30ish, picking up Kera at 9:00ish at our meeting spot. We may have to leave a little earlier in the event the parking is full at Bear Creek and we end up going to the overflow spot which is 6 miles away and at least an extra 1/2 hour travel time. It would be much easier to be able to park at Bear Creek and let everything in the van to change, etc. Dragging it in a shuttle would be a pain in the ass, but we may have no choice given 4,998 other people are thinking the same thing.

The crowds. Rick said last night he wasn't sure how he's going to get pictures of us. I told him take the map of the course, and just go from obstacle to obstacle and watch for us. There's enough running in between each obstacle that he should have time to get from point A to point B and take some pics. I think he'll be more entertained then us!

The lines. with 5,000 people, there's bound to be some jam ups at some of the obstacles. In reality, this is a run, stop, run, stop, wait, run, jump, wait, run, stop, wait.

Last night's ez 4 mile run felt really good, except when I tripped on road-berm garbage and scraped the hell out of my right hand. My knee is boogered up too on the surface. Damn road crap. tonight is the YMCA for some spinning and weights, tomorrow is kayaking, and Thursday is another 4 miler with one or two hills. Friday is off and Saturday will be a very quick, two mile run as an "opener" for Sunday. No biking this week.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

One Week to the Tough Mudder - Pre-Race Training Wrap-up

Yesterday was the last long run/endurance session prior to the Tough Mudder. It was 8.50 miles at an 11:33 mile pace up and over an 800 foot elevation, just like last week. I opted not to run the rocky singletrack this time for fear of injury prior to the race. The snowmobile trail was perfect. The original planned route was 6.6 miles and I wasn't feeling like that was enough so the altered route ended up being 8 1/2 miles. The 800 feet ascend is always the worse, but today the muscles aren't hurting near as much as last week's ascend. I guess the old bod is already adjusting. I immediately hopped on my mountain bike afterwards and started climbing that same 800 foot elevation. It was SO much harder on the bike! I'm blaming the pain on the lack of saddle time in the past two weeks -- I think I totalled about 1 hour on the bike! (ouch). The final endurance tally for the day was 3 hours. Another perfect session in prep for the mudder at an average HR of 142 for the session. Today I'm paddling to take stress off the legs, and tomorrow I'm practicing being a couch potato. Monday is an ez run for 4-5 miles, as is Thursday although Thursday I might throw in a sprint or two and a hill or two. On a pace note, I've been checking finish times of longer trail runs of other gals my age and I'm pleased to see I'll be competitive. (And here I thought I was as slow as molasses. Ha!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tough Mudder - Full to Capacity. Even the Spectators!

My boss talked about wanting to come watch my team at the Tough Mudder. She didn't seem to mind paying $15 bucks to watch; but she'll be sad to hear even the spectators tickets are sold out. Bear Creek can only hold so many people, and apparently its full to capacity and they are even turning spectators away at this point. Ricky Brown got his registration in to watch a couple weeks ago so he's clear to come along. But holy hell! Won't folks be disappointed that come to the gate to get in and they won't be allowed in. Could be a very interesting day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Only 10 Days to the Tough Mudder - Already Looking Beyond

The latest updates from the fine folks at Tough Mudder have Team Mind over Mudder starting in the 11:45 am wave with 496 other participants. My eyes couldn't believe there were really 5,000 people on that list. That in itself will be an experience and a half -- definitely worth blogging about! I think I'm more worried about that than the course itself (no kidding!). How do I find our other team mates? Where will we park? Will Rick find me a mob of 5,000? How will Rick find me at the end of the race? How will he know when we are done? Oh what a day it will be.

On a running note, on Tuesday night, I yet again had another personal best: 43 minutes for 4.50 miles averaging a 9:38 mile pace. The pace keeps coming down little by little and this running addiction keeps getting stronger and stronger. Don't get me wrong, I still love a long mountain bike ride and a good white water river run, but I'm equally enjoying the runs these days. And all the thanks goes to Kera and entering the Tough Mudder! My entry form went in yesterday for the Strip Mine Nine for June 13 in Mount Carmel. It's a 15K and fairly close to home. And if all goes well, I'm going to do the Xterra Bear Creek run again on July 18. I ran the 10K last year and really enjoyed it. It's some beautiful singletrack at Bear Creek and the course is 90% singletrack. This year I think I'm going to try the 21K. Yup, that's a half marathon folks - I can't believe I'm going to try it either. What can I say, I'm hooked!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

13 Days to the Tough Mudder - Could Running be Taking Over?

After last week's awesome feel-good runs and this past weekend's results and press of the Hyner View Challenge, I'm sorta thinking I wanna do more running and less biking. Tonight will tell the story after my run. If it's another crank-er-up run and feels good, I'm definitely making the switch. More running would mean no endurance bike riding stuff like training for the Rattling 50 or the Ironcross for hours on end, but more combining of the two (actually three - I paddle at least once a week, sometimes twice). Maybe a nice trail run coupled with a 2-3 hour bike ride? Its the perfect combination for multi-sport races like the Cap City Challenge, or the M-Tech that Donna talks about doing this year. And I'm definitely doing the Chili Challenge this fall and the Roaring Creek Adventure Challenge. I found this cool 9-mile trail run only 45 minutes from home near Mount Carmel called the Strip Mine Nine that I'm fairly certain I'm going to do. That's it... the decision has been made. Run more, bike less long endurance races (sorry... no Ironcross or Rattling 50), combine the two, and add that weekly paddling training and I'm good to go! Bring on the summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rick Fesler Wins The Hyner Challenge! Chrissy Bohensky takes 15th in Women!

"You're mouth is hanging open like a codfish!" That's what Rick said to me when I opened the results of the Hyner View Challenge and saw Rick Fesler at the very top of the list! And then I look for Chrissy and see her at 15th of all 328 women! OMG... those two are incredible! For those that don't know who the heck Rick Fesler is, he's a 28 year old triathlete from Carlisle who just so happens to be one of my former team mates boyfriend. We haven't seen Chrissy much lately 'cause she's always with Rick -- running, biking, swimming and going to races. And it must be paying off judging by their finish at the Challenge. And your next question is, what the heck is the Hyner View Challenge? It's a 16.8 mile trail run in Nothern PA with BIG mountains to climb that Donna and I are thinking about doing next year (thanks to Born to Run for giving us fever!) Rick's time was 2:22 and Chrissy did it in 3:35. I'm SOOO impressed by both -- congratulations you two!

Endurance Training -- Diggin' It!

No one ever said endurance training had to be swim/bike/run/kayak. Did you know you can burn 360 calories an hour digging with a spade? And about the same turning compost? If that's true, my tally for the calories expended in the garden this weekend is about 2,160. Today I spent 5 hours straight digging and tossing masses of weeds in my rose garden that have been growing and taking root since last October when I stopped gardening to ride a little bike. 7 months is WAY too long to let the weeds take over and I paid for it today. After digging and tossing weeds I decided I needed more digging and tossing and headed to the manure pile for a little frolic in the horse crap. I dug and tossed about 20 wheelbarrow loads to keep the weeds at bay in the rose garden. After working for 5 hours, I thought I would go for a bike ride. NOT! I bonked almost instantly and was off the bike in 1/2 hr. My tally for the week is WAY off base (except for the runs -- they were awesome):

Run - 3.5 hours
Core/weights - 1.5 hours (was lazy this week)
Bike - 1 hour
Kayak - 2 hours
Digging - 6 hours

I heard cutting firewood and tossing it around is a good endurance workout too. Anything else out of the ordinary that folks would like to comment on? Chasing kids for a couple hours? Washing cars for a fund raiser? No, beer drinking doesn't count.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

15 Days to the Tough Mudder - Holy Running Shoes!

If we ain't ready by now, we ain't gonna be ready. With just two weeks to go, the training should be about done and in a week the "taper" (if you do one) will begin. I'm really excited to see how much fun Team Mind of Mudder really has. That's what this one is all about - fun and finish! Since they aren't timing us, it's all about the challenge to finish. It's about 6 weeks since I started focusing on running and training for the Mudder and today, I realized something magical is happening to my old bones and muscles. I had yet another incredible run like I had on Wednesday evening and I'm feeling strong and powerful (huh?!). Its very, very odd. Normally, I poke along and really feel pain when I push it. I almost always feel heavy and sluggish -- never light, nimble or jack be quick. It used to always seem like an effort to run, bike or go fast at anything. On Wednesday, I mentioned how by luck (I'm guessing), I had a great run and did my personal best for 36 minutes. Today was another record breaker. Not only did I go 7 trail miles (2 mile, 800 ft elevation climb up the side of a mountain on snowmobile trail carrying a 10 pound rock the last 5 minutes, 2.5 miles of very rocky trail, and 2.5 descend back down the same mountain I came up on a different snowmobile trail), but I did it in a 10:56 mile pace! I astounded myself. For the fun of it, when I came off the rocky trail and knew it was all downhill from there, I thought "let's see if we can hit the 12:00 minute mile average pace and get back in less than 23 minutes." When I stopped the clock, I came down the 2.4 mile trail in 15 minutes which left me at a 10:56 mile average pace. Holy shit -- I believe the old bod is finally saying, "ok, I'm happy now -- I'll reward you." Of course my analytical side can't help but try to figure out what the heck is going on. Could it be the soy protein I'm sucking down? Could it be I wasn't on a bike all week except for 1/2 hour on Tuesday? Could it be it was an early morning run (and that's when I'm freshest)? Whatever it is -- keep it coming! I love it. It made even think about running more and biking less. Hmmm.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

18 Days to the Tough Mudder - Part 2

This morning I commented I was heading out for some running hill work if I could hold the stomach flu off for an hour or so. Success. The flu was tolerant of a run; but not just any run. It was a run like I haven't done in quite some time. The hills turned into some sprints and I ended up doing a good tempo run for a full 36 minutes at a 9:48 mile pace, average heart rate of 157 bpm. I know, I know... that is slow, but its fast for me for the duration of 36 minutes. The elevation gain was 252 ft for 3.75 miles, so there were a couple smallish hills, but no real hill workout with this one. It was one of those runs that doesn't happen very often -- you start out a nice pace and start feeling good and end up going faster, and faster, and faster. You attack the hills; you run like a gazelle on the down hills -- stretching your legs as far as your stride will take them. The adrenaline if rushing and you're thinking, "Damn! why I can't I run like this all the time! Especially in a race." That, my friends, I'll never know. I've been trying to figure that secret out now for almost 8 years and could never dial-in the perfect combination of nutrition, training, and rest to get in good workouts all the time. Every workout is different, and today was awesome. I just ate to replenish the carbs, and I can feel the flu coming back. Argh!

18 Days to the Tough Mudder - How to Run in Mud

So far, I've talked about hills, strength, trail running, endurance, and obstacle courses during my updates on training for the Tough Mudder. But I haven't touched on one of the key components of the event -- mud! I've said it before and I'll say it again, you're going to need more than running experience to do this event. Have you ever run in mud? Do you have any idea what that might be like? I'm not talking a wet puddle along the edge of a road, I'm talking quick-sand type, ankle to mid-calf or deeper muck that just sucks you in like you're going to bottom. No, you will not be able to run in it. You'll be lucky if you can wade through it one step at a time, using both hands to pull each leg out as you go along. Now I can't say for sure what type of mud to expect at the Tough Mudder, but based on what I've seen at Bear Creek, I can guarantee the edges of those ponds have some gooey stuff that will make you sink at least to your ankles. You'll slip and slide and lose your balance. Guaranteed, you'll be covered in mud from crawling over, under and through mud-slicked obstacles. If you've never experienced mud-running, think of soft sand at a beach. You get tired, don't you just by walking in it. That's what the Tough Mudder will be like and where the endurance training will come in handy. I'm sure there will be numerous sections of strength zapping gooey slippery areas to maneuver through. In other words, you won't be running the full 7 miles. It'll be more like run, stop, slip, slide, run, fall, eat mud, run, walk, crawl, stand, jump, crawl, run, wait, climb, spit mud, laugh, cry, and in the end - smile like hell. My training for the past couple days included a long mountain bike ride (3.5 hrs), a nice ez 5-mile run on Monday evening (about a 10:30 mile pace with some smallish hills), a little core/strength yesterday, and some more core/hill running today if I can fight off my stomach flu for an hour to get the hill runs in. Tomorrow is a kayaking day (strength), and Friday is rest. I'm hoping to do a nice long (7 + miles) trail run combined with a mountain bike ride on Saturday if the rain holds off. With just about 2 weeks remaining until the Tough Mudder, I feel ready. Can't wait!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Michaux Mashin'

First, some kudos. To Brett (O.D.) for designing the course, for cooking sausages, for whatever else he helped with and I'm sure it was bunches; to Donna, for helping Brett and sending me the e-mail on Thursday, "Are you doing the Mash?" which started a string of e-mails that ended up having me register at 3:00 on Thursday; to ZACH, master event promoter, great race putter-oner, and smart dude for waiting until now to run the race rather than in a foot of snow; to all the other helpers (I'm sorry, I don't know who you are except Jody -- thanks for helping), thank you all for helping out. Lastly, to all my prior-life race buddies -- Janice, Sally, Nancy, Mike, et. al. -- it was SO nice to see everyone again. Man, I had forgotten how really cool the mountain bike scene is and how awesome the folks are. Yes, its true - I can barely "race" anymore, but boy-oh-boy do I enjoy being part of the experience. Today, I was the lappee. No, that's not really a word, but being lapped by many folks certainly should be a word in the dictionary. But at this point in my life I just didn't care. In a prior life, I'd get offended at my horrific slow speed and go home and train harder to save the embarrassment. Now? I'm 50, menopausal, and I don't care. I'd say I'm in the 5% bracket (or maybe less) of women my age that do what I do and just cause I'm doing it, I'm happy! I don't care if I'm slow. I don't care if I'm lapped. And I don't care if I piss you off for me taking up space on the trails. I'm happy! It took me 3 1/2 hours to go 2 laps which totalled 18 miles. At that rate, it might take me more than 8 hours to finish the Rattling 50 Marathon (if I do it). My average HR was 135, my max was 174, and I burned 2,285 calories. It was awesome! Today was the perfect endurance training day. Zach - the Mash was Sahweet - thank you. He keeps the attendance limited to about 100 which makes it even nicer. There's something to be said for small events. (That's why we keep the BASH is small too). This was a far cry from what the Tough Mudder will be like with 5,000 people, but that's an entirely different kind of event. Ain't activity the best? Now how do I convince the other 95% of my age group that they CAN do what I do!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

24 Days to the Tough Mudder - Like Nothing I've Ever Done

Yesterday the Tough Mudder folks posted their racer instruction packet that Kera shared with me (I can't get in the site here at work -- thanks for sharing Kera!). Well. This "event" ain't like anything I've ever done before on many fronts:

1. 5,000 people! 500 going off every 15 minutes starting at 11:00 am.
2. Parking is limited to 2,200 cars with another lot available 6.5 miles away with shuttle service. HUH? I've never missed out on a parking spot anywhere.
3. Had to pay $15 bucks for Rick to watch! Actually, I'm thinking of it as paying for the photographer. We'd have to pay that amount each to Brightroom to get a shot of ourselves in the craziest obstacle (not sure yet what that will be, but I can guess they'll be at least one really nutty thing to do!).
4. Will Rick find us in 5,000 people? We'll have to wear something that stands out. I'm planning on a bright green top.
5. Speaking of a green top -- what do we wear? It will HAVE to be something old that can get torn or snagged; something TIGHT to be able to swim in; something that will cover the full leg and arms to prevent obstacle-slicing of skin and brush burns; yet something light enuf to wear in May. The plan is some really old tights that are ready to be tossed and the bright green top with 3/4 sleeves that I hardly ever wear. Oh, and the sneakers -- something that will drain and again, something old that it doesn't matter if they get totally trashed.

Man oh man, this will be quite the event. I must admit, I'm kinda missing riding bike after seeing all the folks that signed up for the Michaux Mash on Saturday. Two of my old team mates are riding, Janice Morris and Sally McClain. But then again, its a nice change to be running more. And here's the training the past couple days; Monday was off. Tuesday we skipped the YMCA since it was nice. I rode bike for 45 minutes and tried to follow it up with a run and totally bonked, only getting a mile of running in. The gardening is killing me! Even though I was "off" on Monday from run/bike/kayak, I spent 2 hours digging up weeds and hauling horse manure. (So I really wasn't "off" now was I?!) I even overslept on Wednesday morning. I can't recall the last time I overslept. So last night I tried the run again and it was better, but not my best. I warmed up for about 1/2 hour and actually got a couple sprints in, then hit the horse-field hill for three intervals. I only did three 'cause my warm-up was hilly and I still wasn't feeling totally recovered. I gotta think more about timing of gardening and running/biking. Holy hell its taking its toll. Tonight is YMCA again and I'll spend 45 minutes on the spin bike followed by 15 minutes weights. This morning was core work and 25 push-ups. Friday is rest day (and NO, I'm not gardneing on Friday either!). Weekend is looking nice weather-wise. I'm thinking I'm going to hit the Ratting Creek trails first thing early Saturday morning since I'll be rested from Friday's day off. That way I'll get a decent long run/ride in on Saturday morning for a couple hours, then go home and do what I can in the garden and if I bonk, so be it -- I'll have my workout in. Not sure yet what Sunday will bring depending how I feel after Saturday. Later kids!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

28 Days to the Tough Mudder - R & R Easter Weekend

After about a solid month or more of building up some miles, attacking a couple hills, and attempting to go a little faster than a snail's pace, the old bod said let's take a break for a change. Last week and this weekend didn't start out as a rest week/weekend, but after Wednesday evening's disastrous run, I figured I better rethink what's going down and regroup on what's on tap for the next four days off. Part of my "training" is hard-core organic gardening ( Donna - count it as training!) and I found I need to figure that in the equation 'cause it whoops my butt and makes me tired. And I knew I needed to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and get the vegetables planted, so I backed off a little on the run training, and added a little gardening -- 11 hours of it. For the weekend's multi-sport activities (some call it cross-training), I ended up WW paddling 3 hours, biking about 5 hours (1/2 road and 1/2 mountain), core work for about 2 hours and a really nice, easy 6.60 mile road run today at a wimpy 11:15 per mile pace - but it felt damn good going slow and easy. And tonight I feel awesome -- no more achy ankle, no tiredness, nor aches and pains. This week I'll get back in the swing and do some more hills and get back on the three-days of runs weekly schedule with a long run this weekend in the woods. I realized today I'm putting in about 12-15 miles a week which is sort of a record for me in the running category. But they must be spread out -- never two days in a row of running. It hurts too much. And rest weekends? They ROCK!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paddling the Nescopeck Creek at 250 CFS and an Attack Goose

Good Friday is the traditional trip down the Nescopeck Creek for the Harrisburg Canoe Club members and I decided to take a break from running and biking and join my hubby for this whitewater trip. Most years, the creek is too low. But this year the area received 7 inches of snow just three days earlier; thus, the creek was running at a "medium" level of 250 CFS. Yes, the experienced paddlers call it medium -- I call it down-right crap-my-pants scary. The minimum level to do this creek is 80 CFS (on the Wapwallopen guage). I ran the creek at about 120 CFS and had a good time. On Friday, the volume was twice what it was when I first did it and I was not a happy camper in most rapids. Granted, I didn't swim and got through every rapid without a wobble - I just didn't like it. It was a constant, fast moving dip and dive pace with no time to think about much. Rick was trying to lead me but he kept eddying and that drives me crazy 'cause I just want to get through a rapid and not piss around in it. There were also a LOT of people including open boats and when a canoe hits an eddy, that pretty much blocks the view of what's ahead so I felt like I couldn't see what was coming at many spots. I just didn't have fun. All I could think about was riding bike and how nice endurance paddling is on flat water! That's not a good sign. And the best part was the attack goose. We read about this goose that attacks boaters as they come through but we didn't believe it. Low and behold, we rounded the one bend and this goose was coming straight at us -- wings flopping and all his feathers standing on end. It was insane! I never saw a goose attack like that. And he wasn't letting up. He'd go after the first boat, then the second, and just keep going after boat after boat. Unbelievable. What a day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

31 Days to the Tough Mudder - Today I Hate Running

Did you ever go for a run and absolutely hate every second of it? Yes, it's all in our heads and last evening 's run had my head ticking like a bomb was ready to explode. "Why can't I go any faster? What's this stupid pain in my ankle? Why is my heart rate so high and I'm going so slow. Why do I feel like I weigh about 400 pounds? My sneaker feels too tight. These stone are getting in the sides of my sneakers and hurting my feet. The sun is in my eyes. Who's shooting at me. Damn, I pissed myself... so what else is new. And on, and on, and on. There didn't seem to be too much pleasure in the run other than I burned about 650 calories, but immediately went home and consumed about 800 calories, so what was the point. It was one of those nights you just want to say, fuck it and quit trying. But today I'm back on track... still feeling like I weigh 400 pounds, but the mind games have subsided and I got 5 hrs of gardening in and a nice 1 1/4 hr road ride on the cyclocross bike (the back roads here are really broken up -- I wouldn't dare take the Litespeed out on them). Enjoy the nice weather!