Race Report: The San Francisco Marathon

IMG_20170723_095843I pick a verse for every goal race to focus on throughout the training cycle and race. For the San Francisco Marathon, I came across Proverbs 16:9, and it really got me thinking about where my heart was in this process. Running can easily become such a self-focused sport, and we lose sight of the mighty plans that God has for us.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Training Derailed

I formally started marathon training 7 weeks before race day, and about three weeks in, I started to have shin splints that hurt pretty badly, and more importantly, scared me enough to change up my training entirely. My coach utilizes intensity in practically every run, so I was out of a coach and out of a training plan once I made the decision to focus on health over performance. I’ve never had a stress fracture, and I want to take precautions to never reach that point! So I spent the last month with a lot of time cross training and running on a flat treadmill. I also added a few 20 mile runs that I wouldn’t have run with my previous training schedule.  Although it was disheartening to have my training derailed a bit, it was a really good reminder to evaluate my heart and keep my focus on God. Injuries are really good at giving us perspective!

Arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco was not a goal race for me to PR, but rather a race to go enjoy, perform well, and then enjoy our friends and drink lots of good wine out in wine country.  Jon and I spent the night at my parents’ house on Friday night so we could be with Cadence one more night before flying out. We did a quick 1.5 mile shakeout run before jetting to the airport for our first trip without Cadence. Since I’m still breastfeeding Cadence, I brought a manual pump to use at night and in the morning.

Jon and I arrived in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon and walked with our friends to the expo. On our way, I just about had a heart attack when I walked all of hills. I had been avoiding hills for the last month because hillwork made my shins hurt worse, and my goal was to make it intact to the race. This race was going to hurt! I picked up my elite bib at the expo, which was a really neat experience since this is the first race as an elite runner!  Dinner included lots of good food, great friends, and an early bedtime.

Race Morning

Our hotel was right across the street from the start, so race morning was pretty easy. My alarm was set for 4 am, but I didn’t sleep great and woke wide awake at 3:40 am.  I ate some of my mom’s homemade bread and half of a protein bar.  Jon and I got dressed and headed downstairs to meet our friends at 5 am. This is probably the first race where I haven’t used the porta potty before a start. It was so convenient to have the hotel so close!! I hopped into the elite corral at the front of the line and did a few warm up strides. I wasn’t nearly as warmed up as I should have been, but the corrals closed at 5:15 am, and I was afraid I’d miss the window if I went off and ran much.

One of the announcers was Dean Karnazes, which was really neat. I admit that I felt totally out of place standing up in the front, but it was still a really fun experience to stand with the elites. Finally, the whistle blew, and we all started running. I started out at about a 6:50 pace, and it felt like an effort. I knew I could hold the pace at that time, but I didn’t think this was a good sign for what was to come as far as pace was concerned. I didn’t have a goal though, so I didn’t worry. I was running beside the 3:00 pacer, and there were a few other guys clumped with him. I like to run with others, so I decided to stick with them as long as I could.

First Hill to the Golden Gate Bridge

We reached the first hill around 2.5 miles. I really wanted to see how the other guys handled the hill to get an idea of what I should be doing. We all slowed down to about an 8 minute pace and then flew down the hill. This was fine by me, and I was clicking right along. Things were feeling really comfortable and I was having a lot of fun. It was 57 degrees at the start, which is way cooler than anything I have run in a long time. There was a really dense fog and a headwind, so we were pretty much just running in a bubble.

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At about mile 5, we ran up a hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t realize that we were even on the bridge until I looked up and saw the bridge towering overhead. It was so foggy.  The bridge is 1.2 miles with entry and exit adding to the distance. This was definitely my most fun part of the race. As we were crossing over, we saw the lead pack coming back over the bridge. And then it was our turn. All of the masses of runners were crossing the bridge as we were exiting. I saw our 3 friends and my husband. This is also where I learned that I was first female. I had so many other runners, especially female, cheering for me as I passed. If ever I felt like a celebrity, this was the moment.  I also knew that I should enjoy it while it lasted. 🙂

Running to the Golden Gate Park

We left the bridge around mile 9.5 and ran toward Golden Gate Park. Up until this point, pacesthe race was flying by and I felt really good, albeit tired of hills. Golden Gate Park seemed to last forever. And it wasn’t as flat as I had hoped. A really nice guy was running with me and tried to give me an idea of the landscape for the rest of the race. While it evened out more on paper, to the legs, it still felt really hilly.  Two girls passed me around mile 13. I had not really slowed down, but they were flying. I know that it was too early in the race to chase, and I didn’t have it in me to run their paces.

I got to see my husband and friends several times while I was in the park (they ran the half and finished in the park). This was a great boost to my morale. I was hurting a little, but it was more that I was just ready to be done with the hills. It wasn’t so fun anymore. I remember reading a race report by Tia Stone (@arkansasrunnermom on IG) who said that she felt relief at mile 20 because it was downhill. So I just kept looking for mile 20. My legs were tired, but not so tired that I really felt like I needed to slow down. My paces for the whole race were very much dictated by the hills. I had lost the 3 hour pacer guy (Carl) somewhere in the park, and the sun was so bright that I couldn’t really see anything in front of me (it was no longer a cool 57 degrees!)

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Map provided by The San Francisco Marathon http://www.thesfmarathon.com/the-races/full-marathon/

Running Past 20

The last few miles went by pretty slowly for me, but I didn’t want to slow down because I wanted to be finished. I only saw fuel at one stop at mile 8 (apparently I missed the other aid station), but I ate my Honey Stinger Gel and Honey Stinger Chews.  I also drank water at every other aid station. The second half of the race was direct sunlight and pretty toasty.

The last two miles of the race were by the bay, so it was flatter, but by then I had started to slow regardless of elevation change. I had not been running tangents very well, and my watch chimed at 26.2 as a sub 3 hour marathon, but I still had 0.34 to run. I knew that I was third female, but I did not know how much of a lead I had. I crossed the finish in 3:01:12 as the overall third place female, and my sweet husband and friends were there to cheer me on.

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Lessons Learned

The race was a challenge for me, but it was an incredible experience. The race director and all of the volunteers did a fantastic job with every detail! My least favorite part was definitely the second half, which was supposed to be the easier half. I am satisfied with my time and place, but I do wish that I had gone into the race with a time goal. I absolutely believe that if I had gone into the race with a time goal of sub 3, I could have hit the mark. By the time that I realized that I could have reached this goal, I didn’t have time to make it up. I believe that I could have shaved off time with a little more mental edge alone. So that’s a great lesson to be mentally sharp going into a race, even if you don’t feel very ambitious at the start. You never know until you try!

Post Race

After the race, we attended the awards ceremony. All of the top finishers were super congenial and energetic. What an honor to get to know them! As a prize, I got a new Fitbit, Jaybird wireless headphones, and some other smaller items. I also got a nice 3rd place plaque. My husband and friends made me feel like a queen, and I am so thankful for their sweet support. We all ate a big brunch together after showering, and then we masochistically walked all around San Francisco on tired legs. What an amazing city!

We finished up the trip with wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s some cool data from my Milestone Pod. The main thing that I notice is that my foot strike changed for the uphills and the downhills. My stride length and ground contact were also better for this marathon than on my training runs. The faster I run, the more efficiently I run. Isn’t God good!?

If you want to order a Milestone Pod, use code PodTeamMeridith30 for 30% off until the end of July!

Easy day, extended breastfeeding, and the power of “baby spit backwash” for health

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Got in 30 easy min on the bike this morning with my sidekick. 👶 Cadence has a summer cold 🤧 and since I’m still nursing, I kind of hope to catch it so we can fight this thing together. 🍼Motherhood definitely changes you! 😂 We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with my grandmother, and my heart is so full. ❤️ #shenursedalldaylong #allbydesign #beautifullyandwonderfullymade #breastfeeding #extendedbreastfeeding #21monthsold #bestlittletrainingbuddy #motherrunner #crosstraining #homegym #marathontraining #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity

I have a race tomorrow, but I’m using it as a training run.  It will be my last long run before the San Francisco marathon NEXT Sunday! The race is called Hot to Trot, and it’s an 8 hour timed event with about a one mile loop as the course. I plan to only run a couple of hours, and then maybe hike a little with Cadence. The REAL reason that I am excited about the race is that I get to meet one of my Instagram friends for the first time at the race. I love the running community!!

Cadence is sick with a cold, and I’m hopeful that breastfeeding will help speed up her recovery. Here is an amazing article talking about what happens when babies breastfeed (check out the excerpt below). I know that I am in the minority still breastfeeding at 21 months, but it doesn’t get much better than this for care of sick babies!

“According to Katie Hinde, PhD, a biologist and associate professor at the Center for Evolution and Medicine at the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University (who also runs a blog called Mammals Suck … Milk!), when a baby nurses, it creates a vacuum in which the infant’s saliva sneaks into the mother’s nipple. There, it is believed that mammary gland receptors interpret the “baby spit backwash” for bacteria and viruses and, if they detect something amiss (i.e., the baby is sick or fighting off an infection), her body will actually change the milk‘s immunological composition, tailoring it to the baby’s particular pathogens by producing customized antibodies.”

Any other “extended breastfeeders” out there?

Race Report: Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon

This is the second year in a row that my husband and I have run the Atlanta Track Club Thanksgiving Half Marathon.  Last year, my husband ran it with me because I had asked him while I was still pregnant if he would sign up with me.  (How can a husband look at his very pregnant wife and say no?!) This year Jon is the one who asked me to run because he wanted to complete the Atlanta Track Club Triple Peach series, and this was the final race in the series. I’m never one to turn down a race! (Or a running husband!)

Jon’s family had come into town from Arkansas, and his dad signed up to run the 5k while we ran the half marathon.  (Jon’s family is amazing, and we always look forward to visits with them.  His aunts and uncles are all hardcore athletes.  It’s pretty cool.)  The three of us drove down to the start area while Jon’s siblings stayed behind to watch Cadence at our house.  We gave ourselves plenty of time for parking, and I pumped in the car in the parking lot once we got settled.  The temperatures had been projected to be in the 30s-40s, but as the sun started to come up, we realized that it would be a warmer day than forecast.  I changed into shorts in the car, and I’m so thankful that I did! (Below, don’t I have a hot husband?!)

When it came close to the race start time, Jon and I went to the portapotties for one last try, and then we ran to the corrals.  We probably cut it a little closer than we should have (especially after just sitting in the car waiting), but we made it to the middle of corral A before the gun went off.  There was a lot of weaving in the beginning, and I have to admit that I get pretty annoyed when very slow runners decide to start at the front of a competitive race.  I am very supportive of anyone who wants to run, but I think we would all have a better time if we started in the appropriate wave. (Right?)

I was hoping to use this race as a gauge of my current marathon training cycle, so I wanted to target at least ~6:50 pace.  Lately I have had some ankle pain, and I was afraid that this might limit me.  Once the race started, I felt light and free, and I was able to easily knock out paces in the mid- 6s.  The course was very hilly, but that did not seem to affect me until about halfway through the race.  I did have to slow down on the hills by around mile 8, but I never felt like I was racing with all of my effort.thanksgivingsplits

I finished with an average pace of 6:41 (gun pace of 6:48), and it definitely wasn’t easy at the end, but I always felt like there was something left in the tank to push harder.  The hills in that race (and every Atlanta race) are no joke, so I’m hoping that a flatter marathon course will be all the easier for me to knock out my paces.  I know that there is a huge difference between the half marathon and the full marathon, but I still feel encouraged by my results.

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Overall, I finished 8th female out of 3,582 female runners, and 3rd in my age group.  The Atlanta Track Club hosts some competitive races, so I am always humbled to try to keep up with the big dogs! 🙂

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On another note, I’ve been having fun with a new running toy, the Milestone Pod, to help me stay aware of my gait mechanics. Below are some of the data points that the little pod offers.  My stride length is normally in the mid forties on training runs, so it is interesting that it is longer in a racing environment.  I’m hoping to improve my ground contact time, but so far, I haven’t managed to lower it.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Now on to Christmas!!

Ready or not, here comes race day: preparing for the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run

I’m just about as ready as I can be for Race Day, and I feel strong as Friday approaches.  The reduced volume of training this week has given me extra time to make race day plans and go shopping for supplies.  This is my first 100 mile race, so I am sure that I will learn a lot about what I need and don’t need on the run.  I ran 33 miles of the Creeper Trail course in June on a training run, so that really helps as far as anticipating the terrain and elevation.  I know that I will learn a lot about limits on this course, as I push further than I’ve gone before, but thankfully, I will have family and friends (both in body and spirit) there with me to help!

I always pick a verse for my goal races instead of thinking of a mantra, and that helps me refocus and remember that God is in control, and as my Creator, He designed me to run for His glory.  I chose Isaiah 40:26 for this race because it is a reminder that out of all of humanity, God knows each one of us.  He created me to run and He knows my passions.  He also created my sweet little baby, not one of them is missing, and He loves her individually.

Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.

About the course:  You can see more about the course here.  In summary, this is an out and back, out again course, so I will run the same 33ish miles three times.  The trail is an old railroad bed, so it is mostly smooth and wide.  The elevation profile is like a tipped bowl, where most of the first 33 miles will be descending from White Top Station to Abingdon, then I’ll run back up and then down again.  The risk is that it is easy to go out fast downhill for the first 33 miles and bust your quads for the last 66+ miles. There are 5 aid stations that runners will pass multiple times due to the out and back nature of the course.  It is anticipated to be in the mid to upper 60s during the day and in the low 40s at night. I am told that White Top Station can feel downright cold and layers are necessary.

My crew and pacers: My husband is my number one support in every way, and he will be critical in helping me on race day, as he knows me better than anyone.  My parents are joining to help watch Cadence and crew during the day.  Finally, I have an awesome new speedy friend, Katie, who will be coming out with her husband and baby as well.  I met Katie through Instagram (@katyhaytay) when she was traveling to Atlanta.  She’s from Memphis, so this is no small commitment from her.  We went for a run together, bonded over running, babies, and Jesus, and the rest is history.  Actually, it’s not quite history yet, but it will be after she paces me through the night with a headlamp blazing the trail!

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Virtual friends who ended up real life friends!

How I expect for the day to go: For people unfamiliar with trail running or ultra marathons, there are a few things that are very different from road racing.  Endurance running most often involves a mix of running and fast hiking.  I won’t be running the whole time, but I would like to keep moving forward as quickly as reasonable.  I’ll carry my food and water with me in my hydration vest and restock at aid stations and when I meet with my crew (parents, Jon, and Katie).  The fuel that I plan to carry includes gels, shot blocs, pouches, and bars.  Plus, I have a variety of foods to eat when I meet with my crew and at the aid stations.  I plan to run a conservative pace in the beginning in the hopes of saving some juice in my legs to finish strong. There is a 30 hour cut-off, but it would be fun to finish earlier than that.

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Practicing runs with the hydration vest. I will miss her on the trail!

The plan is to see Cadence at least twice during the race, thanks to my parents who will be helping out. I will either need to feed her or pump.  Most likely, I’ll be pumping. I’ll meet with Katie at mile 66 to have her pace me for half of the remaining leg, and then I’ll pick up Jon to finish out the race.  I am so thankful for the team helping me run this race, and I am just about as excited to share it with them as I am to run my first 100. :)))

There will be race tracking about every quarter of the way that can be found here, and I’ll hopefully we’ll have enough cell signal for Jon to post a few updates to my Instagram account, @runningwithcadence.

Prep: This being my longest distance yet, I have spent a little extra time trying to map out what I’ll need each hour and mile of the course. I have planned out my fueling strategy, and I am aware that the digestive system works really differently when it is forced to operate on the run for this long of a duration. I purchased supplies over the weekend, including tape, etc just in case I have foot problems or anything else. On Monday I saw my fabulous medical massage person, and she did a final easy massage to keep things loose.  Most of my supplies are packed up in little baggies so that I can grab what I need quickly on the run when I meet my crew.

Any concerns:  I followed a training plan developed by my coach, and I feel strong going into this race.  I have one little place on my ankle that every once in a while gives me a little pain, but when it does hurt, it seems to go away once I start moving. 100 miles will be the real test!  Also, I had surgery in May, and I am always aware of the incision spot above my belly button

My biggest concern is that I am still breastfeeding, so my nutrients and hydration will be diverted to feed a baby.  Cadence turns one year old on Thursday, and I didn’t want for this race to dictate when I weaned.  She’s been waking up a lot in the night to eat lately, so my supply is not as diminished as I would have hoped by now.  Either way, she’s my number one priority, and breastfeeding is worth whatever happens on race day as a result. I also hope that she will let me get a little more sleep on Thursday night, as this past week has not been her best sleeping record.

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Travel: We will leave on Thursday late morning to go to our AirBNB house in Abingdon, VA.  There is a mandatory race meeting on Thursday at 7 pm, and the race starts at 7 am on Friday morning.  We’ll stay through Sunday morning before hitting the road again.

Ready or not, here comes race day!

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What is the longest race you have ever run?  Any tips for race day prep?

The Sweetest Kind of Exhaustion

My relationship with sleep has changed a lot in the last year since Cadence was born.  You see, my baby doesn’t really sleep a whole lot, at least not in long stretches at a time.  I’m getting ready to run my first 100 mile race, and one mantra that I remind myself when I start to freak out about that distance is You can do hard things.  Out of all of my experiences in life, the two hardest things that come to my mind with that mantra are 1. natural childbirth (which really wasn’t that hard; more mental than anything) and 2. functioning for a whole year on very little sleep while training for races ranging from the Boston marathon at 6 months postpartum, to my upcoming 100 mile race at 1 year postpartum. img_20160120_1925463

I can do hard things because I can wake up with a baby all night long, still wake up for my training run in the morning, and then go to work all day only to return back home to the responsibilities of wife and mom.  I can do hard things.

My husband and I met with our pediatrician before Cadence was born, and he told us that babies can sense when their parents are stressed and it can affect the baby.  I tend to be an A type, need-a-plan kind of girl, so being stress-free does not exactly come naturally to me.  This piece of advice really made an impression on me though, and I decided early on that if we had a bad night with little sleep, that was OK.  And it has been. For a whole year.

img_20160814_081402From the beginning, we had the normal newborn, every two hour feedings, plus a few other wake up times for good measure.  Cadence started to get more on a three hour routine around three months old, and then I started back to work and she caught every single bug at daycare.  My lowest point (I can do hard things) was around March (6 months old) when Cadence was waking up more than 10 times a night (my rule is to stop counting at double digits).  I was nearing the end of my training for Boston, and my body was hurting in every way. Miraculously, just in time for Boston, Cadence improved to about 2-3 wakings a night, and we’ve pretty much been in that state since then.  Some nights are better and some nights are worse.

I’m not complaining.  Not one bit.  It has been hard, but I can do hard things.  It has also been one of the sweetest, most rewarding things in my life. I get to hold my tiny (growing) baby in the night when snuggles are the very sleepiest.  I’m still breastfeeding, and I know that even if she is distracted to eat very much during the day, she’ll make up for nutrition with breast milk at night.  I’m at work during the day, and my training takes up my early mornings and some evenings after work.  Night time is our time.

img_20151104_074223014Cadence won’t always need me in the night, so I am soaking up all of the baby snuggles while I can. I’m sure that the lack of sleep has limited my recovery after hard workouts, and I know that it has made my brain fuzzy many days at work, but I’m a mom first, and right now, my sweet little baby needs me. As I approach my race where I’ll be running (and pumping) through the night, thinking of Cadence will be my motivation to finish strong and fast so that I can get back to that little sleeping angel.

img_20160908_224336Any other moms still waking up with their babies at night and while trying to maintain a training schedule?

Life seasons and then there’s running

Labor Day weekend just marked the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  Another great season, although this one felt like it flew by now that my baby is WALKING!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Working out has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always loved the way that exercise made me feel, and it didn’t hurt that it also helped keep clothes fitting through the holiday season.  But then something shifted.  I ran my first marathon in 2013, and then in 2014 I decided to try to qualify for Boston.

Before I knew it, working out was exclusively about helping me run better.  I work out to run and I eat to run.  I sleep to run, and I read about running.  The podcasts that I listen to are pretty much all about running.  It’s been really rewarding to see the progress that I’ve been able to make in both speed and distance.  I’ve met incredible people through running, and I feel like things in general fall into place better when I’ve got goals, even if they are running related. I ran through pregnancy, and I think that it helped keep me healthy in a lot of ways.  I have run after pregnancy, and I think it has made me a better mom and wife.

As you can tell, I realllllly love to run.  And right now, I am at the height of a big training season, so my training is at a high right now (and I am functioning on an endorphin high!).  But just as summer turns to fall, seasons make us focus on different things.   Hopefully I’ll always have a race to look forward to, but I’m reminded that through it all, I’m not a professional athlete.  I don’t even work in a running related field.  I am a wife and a mom first.  And those two things fill me up more than I ever imagined!

This last season of figuring out how to be a new mom, waking up all through the night, breastfeeding, cooking our meals, going to work, keeping laundry clean and folded, maintaining a somewhat clean house, and remembering to feed the dog have all made for a beautiful blur of months.  And all of that doesn’t even include going for a run or training for a race.  I’ve learned a lot about what is important (my family) and what isn’t (a clean house).  I’ve also grown to appreciate just how much a human can handle–in emotions, physical limits, and time management.  I believe that all of these things do make me a better, more grateful runner, but they are also proof that running is a complement to the seasons, not the season itself.

 

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I always have a little helper. ❤

What has this last season been like for you? 

 

Race Report: Hot to Trot 8 Hour Race

This will be my third race report in three weeks!  Races can be a great way to train for other goal races, and they can also serve as the perfect opportunity to connect with other runners. I really love running races, and I have to watch out or I’ll sign up for everything that comes my way. 🙂 I am currently training for my first 100 mile race, so all of the races between my Boston marathon and the Yeti 100 in September serve as opportunities to have fun and add a little change to my training scenery.

I signed up for the Hot to Trot 8 Hour Race hosted by GUTS on impulse on the day that I had my hernia surgery in May. My training plan for the 100 primarily involves higher intensity running at a lower mileage, plus strength training. I had to take 6 weeks off of any type of strength work (and a couple of weeks off of running) after my surgery, so I was a little worried that I would lose a lot of ground in my training. Plus, 8 hours of running sounded like a lot of fun as I sat on the couch unable to move my body. Ha!

The race was held at Sweetwater State Park around a 1.1813 mile long trail that looped from the aid station, down toward the river, and then back up.  There were three main hills of note, but the loop basically descended to the river and then ascended to the aid station.  No dramatic elevation change, but definitely enough to produce effort, especially after 8 hours!

I was running late on race morning because Cadence had not slept well at all the night before the race (this is something that I am now accustomed to; I have not had a good night of sleep before a race since before I was pregnant), and I had to take extra time to feed her, pump, and get all of my stuff packed up.

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It all worked out, but I was two minutes late to the start of the race.  I sprinted to the start, only to catch up to the walkers on the single track at the beginning of the loop.  I had so much adrenaline after leaving a crying baby, speeding to the park, and sprinting to the start, that I knocked out the first few miles a little faster than I would have planned otherwise for an 8 hour haul.  But it felt so good to stretch my legs and breathe deeply after a stressful week of work and a teething baby.  Isn’t it great how running just makes everything melt away as you focus and feel your body move?

I was really thankful to meet up with one of my trail running friends, Seth, on the first mile.  We ended up running the next 34 miles together.  Seth had run the RuntheATL race the weekend before as well, but he had finished before me.  I didn’t realize it until later in the race, but it was a huge help mentally to have someone to talk to as we ran in circle after circle.  It never really bothered me that there was no change in scenery for 8 hours because there were plenty of really interesting, encouraging people along the trails, and the aid station was full of support.  Seth and I made a goal to run continuously for the first 20 miles.  After that, we allowed ourselves to hike two of the three steeper hills.  At 26 miles, we allowed ourselves to stop at the aid station.  The mile goals were really helpful, and I think getting such a solid base of miles in the beginning helped set the tone for the rest of the day as it got hotter.

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I stopped to pump around 4.5 hours into the run.  I ended up pumping at the picnic tables in the middle of the aid station area instead of walking all the way to the Group Shelter for cover.  I had a cover, and everyone was extremely gracious of me.  Trail runners are pretty used to bodily functions as part of the nature of the sport, so breastmilk hardly seemed a thing.  I am in the right sport!

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From this point on, Seth and I just maintained each loop as well as we could, stopping quickly at the aid station for water and food after just about every loop. After about 5 hours of heat and sweat, I was drinking about 8 oz of water for every loop.  During the course of the 8 hours, I ate one pack of Clif Shot Blocs, one Hammer gel, lots of PB&J squares, a few pretzels, and a moon pie.

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Photo credit: Samantha Taylor Photograghy

Once we hit 35 miles, my running buddy decided to slow down and enjoy the last few laps.  I had a goal of 40 miles in my head, so I kept running. I knew that my coach had written the next week as an easy/off week, and I wanted to earn that schedule.  I ended up finishing just over 41 miles in 36 loops.  I felt tired but not depleted, continuing to run up hills and keep a pretty consistent pace. From about halfway through the race, the volunteers had created a leaderboard out of a portable white board, and my name went from second to fourth to third, etc.  This was not a goal race for me, but it is always fun to be near the top.  My goal for the race was to keep moving and let the Hot to Trot serve as a training run for my 100.

Not only did I want to train my legs on the course, but I also wanted to test how my body felt, where I would get sore, what I would want to eat, and how I mentally handled the heat and the monotony.

  1. I did not wear my hydration pack (I already know that I do not like the way that my current hydration pack fits–breastfeeding has definitely changed things there).
  2. It was a good test of my shoes. No blisters!  Also, my stomach seemed fine in eating lots of PB&Js. I’ve learned that my stomach might feel crampy, but if I just wait it out, eventually, it will start to feel better. For nutrition, I did borrow a few salt tablets from my running buddy, and I want to have them on hand for my 100 as well.  I have read articles stating that cramping is not a result of electrolyte imbalance, but my calves started cramping around 7 hours, and after eating the salt tablets, I felt fine.  If that is placebo effect, I’ll take it.
  3. Mentally, I actually had no problem at all running in circles for 8 hours.  Ever since being pregnant, I have been so grateful to just be able to run.  I’m hoping that will also serve me during the later hours of my 100 mile race.
  4. As for soreness, my legs were only mildly sore.  I did feel sore in my hips and my shoulders.  This makes me grateful that my plan involves a lot of strength work because I am sure carrying your body weight for 24+ hours is a load on the body!

Now I’m looking at a week of easy recovery before I focus on resuming my 100 mile training.  The Hot to Trot was a hot, long, and very fun race!  I can’t wait to run even further in September!

What is the longest run you have ever had?

Have you ever completed a timed run like this?