Thursday, August 27, 2015

Eastern States 100 -- Crewing/Pacing

He was ready!

So hard to know where to begin these posts sometimes, especially when there's so much to say and so many emotions involved.

Eastern States was not my race, it was Emir's but it might as well have been mine too.  I went through all the ups/downs mentally and physically during his training this summer.  There really weren't many downs actually.  He was in fact rocking it.  I mean how he handled 18 hours on the Velebit course convinced me he was more than ready.  And I just could not wait to see him accomplish this goal, maybe even a little jealous that he would accomplish his first 100 before me ;-) 

At first we thought we could handle everything with just me as Emir's crew and pacer however we quickly figured out that given the logistics of Eastern States, this would not work.  If I was going to pace, I would have to leave my car at an aid station and somehow get a ride back to it later or get a ride to the aid station from the start/finish area.  Thank goodness our good friend Mo volunteered to help us out and he brought another friend of his, Sandy, along. 

We all took half days on Friday.  Emir and I made it to the race start/finish sometime in the 5 o'clock hour.  He picked up his bag however bibs would not be given out until Saturday morning.  There wasn't much going on and we weren't hungry yet to feel like attending the pasta party so we decided to drive back to Williamstown where Mo had so generously gotten a B & B room for the night.  I have seen Eastern States referred to being in the black hole of PA and now I know why.  A few minutes after turning off of the highway to head towards Little Pine State Park, we lost all cell reception.  So once we got back near the highway we started getting messages from our teammates wondering where we were.  Turns out they were about the same distance from the B & B as we were, so we all ended up arriving around the same time. 

Tiff and I representing Altra and Trail & Ultra

#teamdedic or #teamred with Sandy and Mo

I know you aren't reading this to hear about how we spent the night before so we ate, had a couple beers and went to sleep.  We left the B & B around 3:30 am as the start was at 5 and Emir needed to get weighed, get his bib and hand in his drop bags.  While he did that, myself, Mo and Sandy got our PACER bibs and I spent some time talking with our friend Tiff from Altra.  She also had some Lone Peak 2.5's on hand for runners to test.  Emir and I jumped at the opportunity to try some out.  We both have the Lone Peak 2.0's and they have been, o-k but we heard some great things about the 2.5's.  Some picture taking ensued and some more talking to other friends that were there and before we knew it, it was start time. 
drop bag area

alot of stuff is needed for a hundo!

The start of ultras always makes me laugh because everyone is so pumped, energized and rushes over to the start line.  Then they say go, blow a horn or whatever and it's like the slowest start to a race you will ever see.  Cracks me up every time especially because I do it too.  After the runners left.  We had a lot of time to kill.  There were only a handful of aid stations that crews were allowed access to just because of the nature and location of the course, it would be impossible to allow a bunch of cars and people safely.  The first aid station that crews were allowed wasn't until AS 3 which doesn't sound bad but it's at 17.5 miles into the race and given the nature of this course, we knew it would be a solid 4 hours if not longer before Emir would get there.  We drove back to the B & B to eat, collect our stuff and put our running clothes on since we knew there would likely not be facilities for changing later.
runners are ready
We arrived at AS 3 around 9.  I was feeling nervous because that was 4 hours into the race and I was hoping we didn't miss him.  I quickly went over to the people keeping track of who checked in and found out that we didn't miss him.  After a while I realized it was silly to be so worried as only a handful of runners had come through at that point.  AS 3 was a huge area so we set up his stuff a little past the official aid table and waited.  After a while I needed to walk around and I found my teammate Kristen and her husand Simon and some other Misery Loves Company (MLC) people.  Most of them already have met Emir as he has gone to some of the group runs but I have not met alot of them.  It was fun hanging out and getting to know them.  Eventually around 10:30 I saw Emir climbing the big hill to the aid station.  I didn't realize how happy I would be to see him until I saw him coming.  I was jumping around, yelling and waving to him.  He looked good.  He said he felt good that he did have a fall and briefly hurt his ankle but was fine now.  We helped him refill his bottles, took his headlamp and gave him some supplies to tide him over until the next time we would see him.  I was pleased with how it all went.  He was happy and I felt that we did a good job helping him.  Now we had another 18 miles or so before we would see him again at AS 6.
coming in to AS 3
We didn't have a room anymore and we didn't have anything at the start/finish line so we had no reason to go back there.  There were handouts that we printed from the website that were specifically for crew and included directions to the aid stations.  We followed the directions to find AS 6.  Somehow we missed the turn and eventually came across AS 9 which is how we figured out that we miss AS 6.  It wasn't a big deal as we had hours to kill.  We back tracked and found AS 6 (we found out later that it was not my poor navigation skills, the distances given in the directions were actually incorrect and a bunch of crews drove around way longer than us).  At this point we were hungry and we knew where the AS was and we had seen a tavern only a few minutes away so we decided this was a good time for lunch.   The last couple days I felt like I was eating to run a 100 miler (you know sympathy eating) and I was feeling kind of bad about it.  But we got to the tavern and I was SO hungry and knew I had to run 11 miles with Emir later that afternoon so I went for it and got a cheese steak, fries and a beer.  Delicious.

We went back to AS 6.  We parked and took naps in the car.  I had set my alarm so we wouldn't miss Emir but I woke up because my arm was numb from the position I was in.  Emir was averaging about 20 minute/miles the first 17.5 so we had figured he would be in around 4 or so.  I was getting antsy when it was past 4:30 and we hadn't seen him but at the same time, we didn't see runners that were a little ahead of him at the other station either.  Eventually he came in.  He looked great but I could tell he was frustrated.  I ran down the road to meet him to talk to him while we made our way to the aid table.  He told me that there was extra mileage to aid stations 4 &5 and not just a little bit extra about 2-3 miles extra.  He said there were people running out of fuel and water because it was further than what they had said (each aid station had a profile of the next section with the distance to the next aid station which would have been awesome if they were accurate).  And he was upset because he should have been hours ahead of the cutoff based on his pace and the mileage listed however he was a little less than 2 hours ahead due to the extra mileage.  I told him not to worry about it that he would probably make it up in other parts of the race.  He seemed to be ok and I think he was excited because the next AS we would meet him at was only 4.5 miles away and that's when I would start pacing him.  I was excited too.  I couldn't wait to get out on the course with him plus I was bored of sitting and waiting all day.

AS 6: discussing how things went since I last saw him
 We shipped him off quickly since we would see him soon and drove down the road to AS7.  We saw a few of the faster runners going through and they had burgers.  We were happy because we felt Emir was in need of something more substantial at this point.  I spent most of the time waiting for him getting myself ready.  Before I knew it, here he came.  Again he seemed worried.  He was talking about the cutoffs.  He had actually done that section a little faster so he was  under 20 min/mile plus he was around 2 hours ahead of the last cutoff so I didn't understand what he was worried about, he should have gained time.  But when I looked at the papers, he was right, he actually was about 1:45 under cutoff.  I didn't understand then or even now where these cutoffs came from if you actually go faster in a section shouldn't you gain time, not lose it?  But again doing my job, I told him not to worry about it, that he and I were going to kick ass and that he was fine.  He felt good and was maintaining a smart pace.  When I had looked at last year's results, it showed people made all the cutoffs and finished under the 36 hours with over 21min/mile pace which I told him so I said see you are fine, just maintain around the 20min/mile and you are good.
coming into AS 7

figuring out what he needed     

#teamdedic ready for action
We took him over to the aid station and asked for a burger, there were none.  Ok what else do you have?  beef jerky and chips.  that's it?!  Ugh I was so frustrated because I knew Emir needed more and all he ate was jerky.  Yes we had Tailwind, gels and a few different types of bars but he needed something other than that.  The sign also said it was 7.4 miles to the next aid station which is long on this tough course.  But he said he was fine so off we went. 

off we go!

#bibchat Donut Hole!
At first he was talkative and it felt so good to be out there with him.  Then he got quiet.  I knew something was off.  He didn't know what exactly was wrong but didn't feel right.  I made him take a gel and I think he ate some of a bar.  A short time later he was back to being talkative and joking.  I was relieved.  There were some crazy climbs on this section.  The first one was pretty long and then the next one so steep I was climbing with my hands and legs.  There were also a couple extremely steep downhills.  I was tempted to sit on my butt and slide down if it weren't for the rocks.  It was really dark on the trail as it is heavily shaded so probably less than two hours in, we got out our headlamps.  There was a section as it was getting darker that was definitely along a cliff edge, one wrong step and over you would go so we wanted to be sure we could see what we were doing.  At this point I was happy.   Despite the crazy terrain, I had him just around 19min/mile for this section and he was feeling good.  I was excited because I figured we are gaining some time. 

Headlamp time
Things got bad in a hurry.  We were around 7.5 miles and there was no sign of the aid station whatsoever.  Emir was quiet again.  He needed to eat more than the gels and bars he had.  He started getting really down really fast.  "where is the aid station?!  I need stuff!  If there's extra miles on every section I'm not going to make the cutoffs!"  I tried my best to calm him down but honestly it got to a point where I was feeling like "what am I supposed to do?!"  I couldn't just keep telling him the aid station is coming because it obviously wasn't and I had no idea where it was.  Not to mention, it was just making him more mad to say that.  I had no idea how much longer I had to keep dragging him along.  Around 8.5 miles I thought we hit the aid station but it was just some other runners with their lights.  I asked how they were and everyone looked so confused.  They were asking where AS 8 was that it was supposed to be a while ago.  One runner was especially dazed and stumbling just mumbling that he couldn't find the aid station.  I tried to encourage them and say to just keep going we should hit it soon.   I was starting to get worried.  Seeing how those guys and Emir were deteriorating was upsetting and if we didn't get to the aid station soon, it could be a real problem.  Eventually right around 9 miles, we got to the station.  I said to the man checking runners in "I didn't think we would ever find this aid station!"  He replied "yes everyone keeps saying that!  Apparently it's further than what they said."

I've seen stuff at ultras before but AS 8 was kind of a mess.  Runners were everywhere.  It was like a graveyard.  People were in dazes, wrapped in blankets.  It just wasn't a good scene.  And I knew exactly why, the extra mileage had killed people.  It's fine if it was 9 miles between aid stations but runners need to know that so they plan for it.  Also many of them were very worried about the cutoffs due to the extra mileage which now was also a huge concern of mine.  Emir's overall pace was still just under 20min/mile but yet we were only 45 minutes ahead of AS 8 cutoff.  I just couldn't wrap my head around this whole thing and I didn't have time to either.  I got him to eat some soup and some other stuff.  AS 8 was amazing with the spread of stuff so I made sure we took advantage.  I even tried drinking coke for the first time in a race.  I had always been scared to try it.  I really do not like soda and in general I feel like it leaves me thirsty and with a bad taste in my mouth which are things I don't want to experience while trying to run an ultra.  Since I only had a few miles left pacing Emir on this leg and we weren't moving especially fast, I figured it was a good time to try.  To my surprise, I REALLY enjoyed it and I felt really good after I drank it.  I'll be utilizing that at future ultras for sure.

AS 9 was listed as 3.5 miles away and would also be when we would meet up with Mo and Sandy.  Sandy would then relieve me of my pacing duties and run the next 9 miles with Emir.  I told Emir this is good, it's a short section.  His response was "who knows how long it is?!  none of the distances between stations are right!"  He was down and I mean DOWN.  I worked him through some emotional times that short segment.   I, myself, was getting so pissed off.  I just didn't understand why the distances were so much longer than what they said, it was messing with the runners big time.   If we had hit AS 8 at 7.4 miles even 8 miles Emir wouldn't have been in his current state.  But there was nothing I could do but encourage him and keep him moving.  He was afraid to run too much in the dark which I can't say I blame him.  The terrain was rocky with wet sections and sections where you literally were running on the edge of some kind of cliff.  I totally face planted while were hiking not running.  Despite all this, somehow we still managed to maintain his overall pace right around the 20min/mile.  I would have been happy because that SHOULD have put us well under the cutoff but surprise surprise we rolled into AS 9 at only 45 minutes ahead of cutoff due to the extra miles, again.  My leg that was supposed to be around 11 miles was 13.  2 miles in a race with this kind of terrain is a big deal as for the average runner it's anywhere from 30-60 minutes longer than what they thought.

checking in at AS 9

I could tell when we got there that our crew was worried because they were expecting us sooner and we had gotten too close for comfort to the cutoff.  I explained what happened and we went to work getting Emir what he needed.  AS 9 was big and TONS of great stuff so we made sure he ate well.  Sandy checked in with me to ask what Emir needed while she was pacing.  I told her to make sure he kept eating and drinking because I was sure that's what caused him to get so down during my part.  Mo and I sent them off as quickly as we could, knowing that there were some really tough sections ahead with more cutoffs.  After they left, we were conversing with a few people that had ran the year before.  The one guy was pacing this year.  He was saying how his runner was frustrated as well because he thought he was doing more than a good enough pace to make the cutoffs but then was barely making it.  He said how he had to explain to him that yes that was his actual pace but not his pace according to the Eastern States numbers.  He also told me that the course was actually about 107-108 miles not the 100.8 that is listed everywhere.  I was really starting to panic because these extra miles really could make the difference in Emir's race.  But there was nothing I could do other than cross my fingers. 

Mo and I set off to find AS 11 as that would be the next time we could crew.  Our plan was just to get there and then sleep in the car since we knew we had a few hours.  Once we got there, we went over to the aid station to use the pottys.  As we were leaving to go back to the car, we saw a guy come running from the trail.  He was coming the wrong way, never a good sign.  He was yelling that someone had "pitched over into the creek and was in shock"  We walked over to see if there was anything we could do as we could hear someone else yelling in the woods.  We were informed that a runner had somehow made a wrong turn and ended up falling off a ledge into the creek.  He broke his hip and elbow and suffered hypothermia from the creek as it took a little bit to find him.  There wasn't anything we could do so feeling shaken up we went back to the car and settled in for a nap. 

I set the alarm for about 1:45 as I was hoping Emir and Sandy would come into the aid station about 2:30ish, the cutoff is 3.  While we were waiting, Mo asked if the aid station volunteers knew what time they got to the AS 10 and he said 1:00am.  We definitely panicked big time!  1:00 was the cutoff and now we were very worried if they would make this 3:00am cutoff.  Thankfully they emerged from the darkness suddenly right around 2:30!  I was SO EXCITED!  Other people sitting around were laughing at me but I was just soooo happy because I really thought they might not make it in time.  There really wasn't much food around at this aid station, a lot of little snacks.  I was disappointed because earlier when we first got there, they had pizza but that disappeared real fast.  While Mo and I were waiting, we watched other runners come in and ask what they had and the answer was just these snacks, of course they had fluids but nothing with caffeine and no major food items.   I refilled Emir's bottles and shoved more fig bars and clif bars in his pack.  I told him just keep moving that he could do this.  He was looking and feeling great.  He was just worried about the cutoffs, as the next one was at 5am at AS 12 followed by 7am at AS 13.  These cutoffs were super stressful and didn't really make much sense.  There was a lot of them that were just always 2 hours apart regardless of how long the section was or what type of terrain it was.  We sent him and Mo off, crossing our fingers.

Sandy and I now had ALOT of time to kill.  We would not be able to see Emir and Mo again until AS 14 which was a solid 17-18 miles.  Since we were in the middle of the black hole of PA with literally nothing around or any kind of phone access so I made the decision to drive back to the highway to Sheetz so we could get some food, drinks, use a nice bathroom and have some phone access.  It ended up being about a 45 minute drive.  I'm not sure how long we were there but I also made sure to get Emir trio of mini burgers because I wasn't sure what kind of food he would be getting while Mo was running with him.  Then we headed to AS 14 which was probably another 45 minutes or longer.  We parked and I immediately went to the check in area.  There was a board with all the people that either dropped or were cut off, it was getting LONG.  I asked the guy if he knew when Emir checked in at AS 12 but he said all his info was running at least an hour behind so he didn't know.  Then he mentioned something about AS 13 being at 7:30.  WHAT?!  I asked him again and showed him our million papers that say 7 and he's like nope it's 7:30.  So then I asked well what about this one then, it says 9.  And he responded with "I'm not sure what time this one is yet.  We have to radio in to find out."  I wasn't upset with this poor volunteer because these things were not his doing but I was freaking out.  I mean it's good that the times were later however I just prayed that Emir and Mo had this information as well because it could totally change how they approach those legs of the race. 

I was so keyed up but so exhausted as well plus I was supposed to run the last 22 miles with Emir so if he made it in time, I had quite a journey ahead of me.  I pulled out my sleeping bag and pillow and found an empty grassy area and went to sleep.  I was so restless and could only sleep about an hour.  When I emerged from my cocoon people were laughing because they really didn't think there was a person inside the bag. 

trying to get some rest
By this point Kristen and crew were there so I hung out chatting with them.  I was having a good time but still worried about Emir.  Eventually around 8 the man said that Emir had made it to AS 13 but he didn't make it in time.  DAMMIT!  I was so upset and I knew he would be too.  Luckily someone at that aid station was able to drive Mo and Emir back to Sandy and I at AS 14.  As soon as they arrived I started crying.  Yes I admit I did.  Emir still looked awesome but obviously frustrated.  He told us how they knew at about 6:50 that they definitely could not make it by 7 so they just slowed way down to take it easy since there was no point to push it anymore.  And then he went on to explain how once they got to the AS, he was told he just missed the 7:30 cutoff and he couldn't believe it because he had just asked at the previous AS to confirm that it was a 7 cutoff which they confirmed it was.  Emir and Mo both agreed they likely could have made the 7:30 cutoff if they knew and then the next section wasn't too bad so they probably would have made it to us by whatever time they changed the cutoff to.  I mean who knows maybe he wouldn't have made the whole race in 36 hours, but there was still a good chance he could have.  He still had plenty of time left.  I totally understand the purpose of cutoffs however I don't think they should be cutting off people that still have a chance.  My thought is especially when there is still 10-12 hours left in a race, either not have a cutoff until later aid stations or have it be a much later time that is really only for those that clearly have no chance at all to finish the race in 36 hours.  I think a race should give runners the most chance they can to make up some time and to finish. 
Best crew!!  Couldn't have done it without you guys!!

Emir and I have been reliving Eastern States for two weeks now.  We know not everyone will agree with our opinions or assessments.  We also feel that if the race directors decide not to make changes to the info given to runners and crews that people deserve to know what they are getting into and also  just for their safety.  It's well known that there are many 100 milers that are more than 100 miles but that's just it, it's well known.  I have seen many races that are whatever100 but it clearly states it is 102 miles or 105 miles.  Eastern States clearly states everywhere 100.8 miles however it's actually somewhere between 106-108 miles.  I honestly don't care that it's longer, I just want to know so I can prepare and pace accordingly.  Emir had studied all the numbers and information.  He made the conscious decision to try to keep his pace slow enough so he wouldn't bonk out especially given this was his first 100 but so that he would make all the cutoffs and finish well under 36 hours.  The fact that he was successful in doing this however didn't make the cutoffs because the information they gave was incorrect, makes me mad.  I also wouldn't bring up these points if I thought it only affected Emir or if it was just a case that he just wasn't prepared for this race and just wasn't fast enough for this race.  I witnessed many other cases of runners who felt they had a good shot of making it, get cut off.  I also talked with some crew and runenrs who felt the same way and saw discussions online after the fact.  So I do know this was an issue that affected many people.  And let's face it, a 30% finish rate is not good.

The other major issue was the distances between aid stations.   We have done a number of ultras at this point and I know it's not an exact science.  However, I have not experienced where the aid stations were anywhere from 1.5 miles to 2 miles further than what was stated by the race.  In a race like Eastern States, this is a BIG deal.  Depending on the time of day you are hitting a particular section, it could totally mess you up big time.  I witnessed it first hand.  There was a number of people who were struggling because they ran out of hydration and fuel due to the extra miles.  Emir also reported how bad it was earlier in the day when it was hot and runners were becoming dehydrated due to the extra miles.  In this type of course an average runner is going to take an extra 40 minutes to an hour to complete two extra miles especially if it's one of the tougher sections or it's the hottest part of the day.  And like I said earlier, I have no problem if it is indeed 9 miles to the aid station but runners just NEED to know that. 

In general, we did have a great experience at Eastern States.  The atmosphere was exciting and fun.  I loved being part of a big event.  All the volunteers were super helpful and very friendly.  I loved getting to crew and pace.  I loved hanging out with tons of other runners, their crews and our crew.  Getting to know Mo and Sandy was awesome!  The course is tough and challenging but beautiful and fun.  I enjoyed the miles I was able to get in with Emir.  And I learned that crewing is NOT easy.  I woke up Monday morning with a splitting headache and so tired.  I'm pretty sure I didn't hydrate myself enough during the race and was feeling the effects of dehydration and extreme fatigue.  Even though coach Caleb had told me to rest, etc., now I really know for next time to take better care of myself while crewing. 

This whole experience made me SUPER excited for my race the TARC 100.  I think just seeing what a 100 was like in person gave me a whole new perspective and I just feel really good about it now.  As it turns out, Emir's DNF might not have been the most horrible thing either.  Both myself and coach Caleb have urged him to run TARC with me since it's not until October.  He needed a little convincing (not much) but he's registered.  This time we are doing the 100 miler the right way, TOGETHER!  I think it's just destiny that #teamdedic accomplishes all new distances together.  With the exception of our first marathons, we have run all our ultra distances for the first time together (50K, 50 miles and 100K) and been successful so maybe it was our fault for doing the hundo different.  Why fix something if it's not broken?!  In any case, I am so happy and can't wait.  But before that, Labor day weekend I am tackling the Labor Pains 12 hour in Reading.  It will be great prep for the hundo and tons of fun.  My teammate Kristen is running and Emir & kids will be there supporting me.   Speaking of which, time to get back to running! ;-)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Altra Coventry Woods Challenge

In the London Airport on the way home.  Kids were good but 15 hours of travelling is not easy

A little less than a week before I was scheduled to come home from Bosnia/Croatia with the kids, Emir asked me if I wanted to run a trail race, the Coventry Woods ChallengeAltra was the main sponsor and since Emir and I are ambassadors and local to this event, they asked if we would be the representatives for the race and they would give us entry to whichever event we wanted.  Of course, I said I wanted to do it.  Who am I to turn down a race?!  A free race, no less! 

#teamdedic back together stateside! (and sportin the buff)
The race took place Sunday August 2nd, which was only a few days after the long trip home.  I didn't think this would matter at all.  I've stayed in Bosnia/Croatia for 5-6 weeks in the past and I just come home and return to normal life.  At least I thought I did.  I forgot the important detail that the last time I went was 2 years ago.  Even that last trip over, I was not running the amount I run now.  And when I look back, that summer I was only doing 3-5 miles maybe 3-4x/week and definitely didn't run for a few days after my return.  This year, we got home around 9:30pm Wednesday evening, I went to work Thursday and then went for a run Thursday after work.  I felt o-k but definitely kind of weird, not my normal self and I had to stop and use the potty for a #2 a couple miles in.  Things were definitely off but it was my first run back and less than 24 hours after landing.  Saturday, Emir and I decided to go to the big trail together with Una for our shakeout since Niko wasn't home.  I felt really good the first 5 miles and we were moving at a good pace then I had to continue on myself to reach 75 minutes while Emir was done after 5 miles.  We are on different training schedules since he has Eastern States 100 miler in 2 weeks.  A minute or two after I left him, my stomach became seriously unahppy.  At this point, I was in the middle of the woods so I had to just carry on but I felt awful.  Around mile 6 I found Emir again and then I went off to try to finish.  At mile 7, I decided to be done even though I still had 8 minutes left.  My stomach hurt too bad and I felt REALLY weak.  As soon as we got home pardon my description but I threw up out my ass and I felt so weak and nauseous I had to lay down for a couple hours.  I still didn't feel right after laying down but it was better.   I was hoping with a good night's sleep, I would feel like running in the morning.
double Bob back in action after a couple months off
Even though the race didn't start until 8 and was about 45-50 minutes from us, we got up early since we had the Altra booth to set up.  I was feeling better but just still not myself.  I was a little worried but I thought, "nah I'll be fine."  We got to the trail around 6:15 and found the RD Don so we could find out where to set up.  Don was SUPER nice and SUPER enthusiastic!  He was also the one who was more than willing last minute to give us entry into whichever race we wanted.  There was a 10K, 3 hour and 6 hour.  Obviously we opted for the 6 hour. 

We got the tent set up and just waited around for a bit.  Once runners started showing up to pick up their bibs, a number of them came over to talk to us about Altras.  We had a supply of the Olympus, one of their trail shoes, for people to try on and they could run in if they wanted to.  Surprisingly, for such a small event, we had about 6 people who wanted to wear them for their race.  And every single one came back afterwards saying how much they loved the shoe.  There were also plenty of other people that were not comfortable running in a new shoe for their race but tried them on and asked lots of questions about Altras.  It was fun!  I almost forgot we were running a race. 

I think our booth was pretty awesome
I think that tent would look great in our backyard ;-)
We started the race a little after 8.  Don was allowing a little extra time for people to finish at the potty which was nice.  He instructed us that our first lap had a little addition to make it 6.2 for the 10K people but that we would not do that every lap, so I knew once he said that, it would not be a 10K for each lap as I thought but not really a big deal.  The first lap I enjoyed.  I talked to a couple friends.  The woods were beautiful.  I had never run there before but it was very nice.  The terrain was more challenging than I expected.  Definitely lots of ups and downs and plenty of rocks and tree roots.  I tripped a million times as did everyone else.  I also fell once and witnessed mult falls by other people.  I also saw the cuts and dirt on a lot of other runners to indicate they had fallen.  But  in general everything was ok.  I was with Emir then lost him to a potty break but then he found me again.  I was right with him but then the gopro fell out of my flipbelt.  I stopped to get it and then next thing I knew he was gone.  I figured I would see him at the end of the lap, as I couldn't be too far behind but then I fell.  I didn't think this stuff threw me too far off but there was no sign of him when I finished the first lap.  I went over to the altra tent, grabbed a couple things and ditched the gopro and headed back out. 
I was looking forward to a race after the Sljeme mishap...
As I started the second lap, I started feeling just a general sluggishness and not great in my stomach.  Great.  I kept going but I was slow.  I was walking pretty much all the uphills and I wasn't even running fast on the downhills.  There's not much I can say except it was a struggle.  When I finished the second lap, I went into the port a potty.  I was able to purge, it wasn't as bad as the day before but I still wasn't feeling very good.  I decided I needed to go out on another lap anyway.  I mean what loser stops after 2 laps?! 

Let's just say Lap 3, SUCKED!  A few minutes in, my stomach started cramping.  I had to go even slower than lap 2.  I was even walking some flats now in addition to downhills.  UGH.  it was so frustrating because my legs were feeling good, I wanted to go faster but my stomach hurt so bad.  Nothing I did made it better.  I was battling myself in my head but made the decision that I should just be done after lap 3.  It was so hard for me.  I never like stopping before I'm done my mileage or before time is up but I just couldn't do it.  After I finished lap 3 and sat down.  I felt awful, like such a loser for stopping already.  I had only run for 3:30, I could have gotten a bunch more than the 17 miles I got in.  Even now I'm still upset I didn't do more even though I know I really couldn't, my body just wouldn't let me.
not the day I hoped for, but still had fun overall.  (more buff action!)
Despite my despair, I actually did enjoy the remainder of the race.  There were a bunch of 3 hour racers hanging around so they came to talk to me about Altras for a while and then as other 6 hour people finished up their day, they started trickling in.  I really did enjoy talking to all the different runners.  We talked shoes and races.  If I had kept running, I wouldn't have had this experience, so maybe not a such a bad day after all.  I still got a long run in and I got to interact with a bunch of great people, nothing to be sad about.

Emir had a great day!  He finished 5 laps and got 2nd in his age group.  He was definitely feeling good and it was good confidence with only 2 weeks until his first 100 miler. 

The race itself was extremely well organized!  Everything was in order, the trail was VERY well marked and all the race volunteers were super friendly and happy to be there.  The trail itself is beautiful and great for running loops.  It was really a very nice event, we would definitely do it again.

Now it's time to gear up for Emir's Eastern States 100 miler!  Even though this is his race, it's still a huge event for me.  This is the first time either one of us is running further than 100K.  And this is the first time I will be crewing/pacing for him.  I've come to watch him at the HAT 50K a couple times but that's completely different than what this will be.  Lucky for us, our friend MO will be helping me crew, thank goodness!!  Eastern States is an extremely difficult race which almost always carries over into being difficult logistically to access aid stations etc.  There are only some aid stations that crew may access in addition to only a few where you can pick up a pacer.  Having a second person on the crew is really going to help with all these logistics and getting to the various places we need to be.  It's going to be a long day and half of waiting etc plus I'm planning on pacing him the last 22 miles.  I may end up more tired than him!  haha   As nervous as I am for all of this, I can't wait.  He's been working so hard and I know he will be great.  Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Looking Buff!

Disclaimer: I received BuffUSA gear as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

My half buff waited for me forever!
Finally being back home means that I can finally get back to testing more products for Bibrave, one of my favorite past times.  While I was away, a half buff arrived for me to test.  Since I was away so long, I've only had a handful of chances to test it out but so far I'm really liking it.  In the past, I didn't really see the need for a buff especially in the summer.  I sometimes would use one in the winter to cover my face.  However, lately I've been finding them pretty helpful during these hot, humid runs of summer.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Runner's World Half and Festival 2015--Big News

Yes, I have news. Pretty big news in fact. And, no, I never write blog posts like this. However, I felt like this was something I needed to write about. An announcement post if you will.

 If you don't know, Emir and I have run the Hat Trick (5k, 10K & half marathon) at the Runner's World Festival in Bethlehem, PA every year since it started in 2012. And we love this event. It's a whole weekend devoted to running. We get to not only run 3 races in one weekend, but attend talks, movies and other activities all about running with tons of other runners who are just as geeky about this stuff as us. And the best part is that it's hosted by Bart Yasso and all the other enthusiastic people at Runner's World. Not to mention, it's also sponsored by Altra (who we happen to be ambassadors for) who also provides tons of great running content. Last year we even had the kids come Friday for the kids' race. It's just the best and we look forward to it every year.

Kids had a blast at the festival!

The steelstacks add a nice background for the whole weekend
This year things got even better. Emir and I have said the last couple years that we wish there was some trail component to the weekend especially because after attending we realized there was a great trail nearby. Well someone heard our wishes and not long ago it was announced that there will be a 3.8 mile trail race on Friday afternoon. Why 3.8? Well if you add the 3.1 and 6.2 from Saturday's races with the 13.1 of Sundays race and the 3.8 you get 26.2 for the weekend. Sounds perfect to me! It was a no brainer for us to sign up for all 4 races even though I will be running my first 100 miler the weekend before. This event just means so much to us at this point. We have done every race at every Runner's World Festival so far, so how could I not continue that??