Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coming Back to Life & Attitude Adjustment

Annette doing something new! Photo taken at Lake Norman Tri 8/25.
It’s been months since posting to this blog…I am still happily (most of the time) living, working and playing on this planet, yet life and training have taken some turns that are taking time to figure out. Fortunately I still have George, Mama Grey and we have our house and jobs.

What I don’t have right now is the ability to run much and am not sure why! I have been dealing with some kind of issue since February and it was easy to put off dealing with it until after World’s in April. In May, when I spent many miles with Diane, is when the “issue” took over. I am not sure what it is-involves whole lower right side. Sometimes is it is difficult to walk, sleep or sit. 2 MRI’s and PT sessions have been inconclusive and I am scheduled for a nerve conduction study on 9/5. I have taken weeks off from land running-yet no relief. So now I am running just a little bit, cycling and swimming and using the good ‘ole elliptical.  Until a few weeks ago I was admittedly feeling lost and sorry for myself…hence the lack of posting.

At the end of July, I got sick of self-pity and decided to concentrate on improving my swimming. After a year and a half of swimming, I am quite strong with the breaststroke, yet as of August 1st, still couldn’t swim 50 meters freestyle. This meant time to take a lesson and practice lots. In summary, I participated in a Total Immersion Swim Clinic in Charlotte, an open water Master’s workshop on Lake Biltmore and a supported practice swim in Lake Norman, NC.

I loved being in Lake Norman-water was warm and I parallel lake swimming to trail running and swimming pool swimming to road running. At some point when I gain some good swim skills I look forward to doing some distances in open water…just as I look forward to one day getting back on the trails! (Biltmore Lake was quite cold-and therefore much more of a challenge).

On August 19th, I participated in my 1st triathlon and on August 25th, did my 2nd
View of the t-shirt
  Ramblin’ Rose, a women’s only event was in Winston-Salem on 8/19 involved a 225 meter swim, 8 mile bike and 2 mile run. I knew I could eek out the short run and bike, yet set my sights on swimming the 9-pool lengths freestyle w/o reverting to breastroke or something else. We were placed in order of projected swim time (1-10-with 10 being really fast and 1 being beginner). I figured it would take me 7 minutes used their chart to choose 4.

On 8/19, early in the morning it was in the mid-70’s and alternated between pouring rain and drizzling the entire time. After setting up stuff in the transition area-I had an idea of what to expect thanks to the pre-race clinic they held the previous day at packet pickup, I paced around and got more and more intimidated by the swim as I watched others warming up in the pool

Because I don’t want this to be an endless post, I’ll simply say I met great folks while waiting turns to go in the pool and found the whole fast-paced experience to be exhilarating and a real celebration as women and men celebrated the women in their lives as they participated. Children yelling for Moms, moms yelling for children. Ages ranged from 9-79.

I met my goal of sticking with freestyle and with great relief loved the freedom of the bike and run. Though uncomfortable, 2 miles wasn’t long enough to further exacerbate my biomechanical “issue”. Out of just under 400 women, I wound up 240th in the swim, 4th on the bike and 2nd on the run, ranking me 4th overall and 1st masters. Full results here. You’d have thought I’d just won some sort of great race from the way I proudly stood on the podium to accept the cool medal!
Cool medal
It’s been a long time since I have really appreciated an award. In ultrarunning, I certainly don’t run for prizes and don’t really think about awards, I just love the experiences. Yet for whatever reason, I was so very pleased to have a “thing” to help remember this experience. This makes me think of what it must be like for 1st time ultrarunners and helps me understand as an RD why people want finisher awards. It is likely too late to create finisher awards for the upcoming New River Trail 50k on October 13, 2012, yet is something to consider for 2013.

Lake Norman's Transition area
Bike and shoes ready to go!
Yesterday’s triathlon was quite different from Ramblin’ Rose. The Lake Norman Triathlon had 675 registered with 563 finishers, 198 finishers being women. The swim was 750 meters around buoys, 17-mile bike and 5k run. Unlike RR, most folks doing this event were not beginners. My category was Novice Masters and was given a silver swim cap and placed in the 11th out of 12 swim waves.

To summarize this event: Made it through the swim, reverting to breaststroke after only a few minutes. Bike was fine until I crashed! In triathlon there is a no draft rule, meaning bikes must be at least 3 bike lengths apart. I was happy for this rule as the guy I was behind, -later I learned his name to be Lee- lost control of his bike and began to yardsale on the road right in front of me. 3 choices! Veer into traffic, crash into him or crash into the ditch. I chose the ditch and wound up heaped up in a blackberry patch. My right calf went into crazy spasms as it was wrenched the wrong way from the clip less pedals. I think I screamed after I hit the ground. Lee was okay, despite some road rash, I yelled at him to keep on going as I untangled myself from my heap.

After the calf had its hissy fit, I assessed the bike and picked up some pieces. Neither wheel would turn at first and the derailleur was bent. After some bending and pleading out loud with the handlebars, the wheels did spin, brakes worked and I had at least the use of a few gears. I certainly wasn’t 100% and neither was the bike, yet relieved to be able to continue.

The run was fine-felt wobbly making the transition to run…yet after ½ mile, despite my calf and other issues I had a satisfying 20:43 finish.

New swim cap and medal
My results from this event: 43rd out of 198 women and 262nd overall. Of the women my ranking was 149th in the swim, 66th bike and 3rd run! Full results here. I happily accepted a 1st place medal and some pink socks for the Novice category. I have much to learn about saving time in transitions and certainly can only improve with swimming.

I am quite sore today, from yesterday's crash and only hope the bruises are superficial!

As summer winds down, I hope to soon have some answers about the leg/hip issue and too keep working in the pool and getting back on the bike as soon as it can be fixed. New River Trail 50km is coming up in about 6 weeks and that will consume much energy as the time draws nearer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Moving with Diane on the MST!

Somewhere around mile 45 of a 65ish mile day! Let's eat!
As I have so recently posted, I have taken every opportunity “guide run” with Diane Van Deren as she makes her way from the western boundary of NC to the dunes of Kitty Hawk on the almost 1000 mile long Mountains to SeaTrail. (A true trail in the west and parts of the Greensboro area), yet most other sections are still in development and follow established Department of Transportation bike routes on mostly rural roads.

Diane started on May 10th and is on a quest to better the current 24 day trail record-perhaps by almost 48 hours? Time will tell as she at this writing (Wednesday at 8pm EST ) has around 80 miles in front of her and a storm to deal with.

Because of Diane’s brain surgery years ago, she had relief from awful seizures, yet the removal of part of brain left her directionally and sometimes detailed challenged. To assist with these challenges, she has had a companion runner(s) for most of the whole cross-state trek. I am happy to say that I have traveled with Diane for most of the last 3 weekends. See previous posts for details of the first two.

I joined Diane this past weekend on Saturday afternoon. After driving to Raleigh, awesome Amy picked me up  and drove me to somewhere north and east of Raleigh where I met up with Diane in a church parking lot. We ran /walked/trotted and scampered about 37 miles together (Diane did 50 that day) and crashed in a church parking lot (me in a tent) Diane in back of the traveling aid station (awesome box truck) and crew in car and hammock. We had full support and kindness from the local pastor. After 2.7 hours of sleep, we rose at 2:35 am to prepare for a 3 am start.

Diane is dealing with the heat and humidity of eastern NC, so an alpine start, seemed the most sensible…especially with still tender feet from her earlier blisters, several foot cooling/icing breaks would be needed as we traversed the hot pavement of the roads. I think we did around 65 miles on Sunday…What was sooo crazy-we hardly saw anyone outside-only lots of dogs barking and running around –a few after us-very scary. 

Next time I run in the eastern part of this state, I will carry pepper spray! The cats we saw were smarter: lounged over porch railing or plopped in tree branches. As far as wildlife? Lots of dead snakes on the road and some pretty crazy driving Sunday night from likely holiday partiers! In fact, this traffic and the encouragement of local law enforcement made up quite 3.7 miles short on Sunday (to stay alive) and add those miles to the generous ones mapped out on Monday! Good call!

All of us slept for almost 2.5 hours in a Hampton Inn. We got to shower and charge our electronics and drink coffee and eat oatmeal before being back out on the road from where we stepped off it less than 5 hours before. Diane and I were solo during the wee, dark hours. We stalked the roads, checking map and constantly being checked on every 4 miles by the awesome mobile aid station. In the earliest hours we wandered and weaved on the road-falling asleep to be sure. We moved forward, wobbling. 

I thought, “How lame am I after only a couple days of mileage and lack of sleep? And Diane has been living a similar lifestyle for how long?” Yet concentrating on perceived lameness does nothing to invoke success, so the funky singing started (both of us at fault) and we made our way through the welcomed first light of day to Chuck and Sarah and breakfast  and COFFEE at around 14 miles in.
A dark reflective start leading to a great day for Diane! (Me on the right am wearing my new cool MH skort...wish you could see it!)    
Well…talked about hitting a funk and waiting an hour to see what happens! Wow! This morning was the reminder of precious patience! I don’t know if it was the syrup from Diane’s pancakes or the 3 packets of sugar in my coffee or just awesome connection to attitude, yet we went nuts in a great way after breakfast!

 We mostly power hiked with some real running thrown in to be sure. We used my Garmin for pace guidance (accurate on flattish non-tree covered terrain) and she rocked! It is such a difficult balance to figure out what pace will lead to success and not breakdown. At this point pushing too hard could have awful consequences, we just had to trust her perceived effort. We got into a great groove and made some good miles. 

I had to leave Diane at mile 28 that day-I felt sad to be rightfully “left out” of her remaining miles, yet so proud and pleased to call her a “trail kindred spirit”.  Leaving Diane in great company of her crew and other fantastic peeps as pacers, I jumped into Amy’s car as she drove me back to Raleigh so I could reunite with my Echo and creep the 3.5+ hours back home to be ready for work the next day. Truth be told, I was exhausted both emotionally and physically and had to stop for 2 naps on my way home.

My own running goals have been on hold due to the privilege of these past weekends and to  some weird bio mechanical issues I’ve been dealing with. I have seen a local PT 2x in the last month, yet as wonderful a human the PT is, she is not a good fit for me.  I have an appointment with awesome Greg at Mountain Physical Therapy in "far away" Asheville on 6/13. I know he’ll give me good direction. I am grateful my issues didn’t get in the way of being a companion (except for having to switch packs) to Diane and her mission.

I will say there has been some fun bantering as a North Face Runner drinks out of Montrail water bottles and a Montrail runner sleeps in a North Face Tent. I love it! Despite the lack of photo documentation-this mission is about supporting the greater good and what Diane is doing is more than certainly that! Go! Diane, Go! Thank you to The North Face and Great Provisions for Supporting Diane’s expedition and also to Montrail/ Mountain Hardwear for encouraging my participation on her grand adventure!

To learn more about Diane’s race to the finish and her adventures check out these sites:
Don't wait too long to follow her: She'll be done in the next day or a little more! Go Diane! North Carolina is Cheering for you!