Thursday, November 24, 2011

JFK 50 Mile 2011

When I woke up at 4:50AM with the acute care song (theme song of the class that’s been haunting my semester) stuck in my head, I should have known things might not go my way today.  But I felt confident that I was trained, rested and ready.  I ate my standard race/long run breakfast (bagel, jam, PB and banana), downed a small cup of coffee and headed to the starting line.  I pulled on my JMU tri top kit with black Saucony shorts and light black Underarmor shorts along with my Salomon trails and was on my short way to that start, about one mile from my home.

Youngest cutest members of the Team Jackie:-) (post race)

We arrived to the school on plenty of time, but for some reason everyone was late getting to the starting line.  I actually didn’t even think what time it was because we were just walking out towards the front of the bulk of the crowd, but when we were about 400 meters away, I heard someone on the loudspeaker say the race start was in 90 seconds.  I looked at my watch. Yikes!  I quickly skipped up as close as I could get to the starting line, but was stuck behind a big crowd.  When the starting horn went off, I was still pulling off my sweats (and nearly kicked my dad in the face in the process!).  But after I was finally on the road, I calmed down and settled into it.  The first long gradual hill to the single track went as expected, and I was working a bit to get to the trail head, trying to ensure that I wouldn’t get caught up in the congestion there like I did a couple of years ago.  It was going to be a good day of weather outside, but right now the coldness of the morning left my hands freezing, even inside my gloves and I kept scrunching them up trying to fend off the bitter sting of the cold.  Because of my late start, I didn’t get to see any of the elites at the start but I could see single figures in the distance up the hill, already largely spaced from the pack in less than a mile.   In the first mile, Mike and Ted came up from behind me and ran with me for a few hundred meters.  I had a pretty good idea that, as much as I’d like to, I was not going to be seeing these guys again till the finish line.  It wasn’t long before they went off and the second pair of Navy guys, LT and Matt came to pass me up the hill. 

The first section of trail went smoothly and soon I was climbing up the steep, steep paved road section to get on the second section of Appalachian trail.  I played it safe and took power walks up all the really steep segments here.  The top actually came pretty quickly and before I knew it someone was calling out “5 ½ miles!”   The trail was just as rocky as when I’d last left it, except now there was a fresh layer of leaves overtop, making things extra tricky at parts.  I was passed by one woman here that I would see later on the canal.  Otherwise, it was just me and the men.  And soon, I found that it was just me.  It was kind of strange to be alone on the trail when I knew there were 1500 other people out right now on the same trail.  Almost eerie.  But I found a comfortable rhythm and stuck with it, making a decent pace.  I decided that I was feeling OK.  Not great, but OK.  My stomach also seemed to be cooperating this morning, which I was grateful for.  I broke into my Cliff block shots, which I carried in the pocket of my Northface handheld about an hour in and just kind of chewed on them gradually for the next half hour.

Coming off the switchbacks and hitting the canal at mile 15-16 my legs felt…meh.  They didn’t feel bad, but definitely not fresh, which I guess is understandable.  I took a bathroom break soon after hitting the canal and then started working on settling into my forever-on-a-flat-road pace.  Glancing at my watch and split times, I saw I was over 30 minutes behind a finishing time of 7:15, so I knew I had some making up to do.  I was alright with this, obviously, as all the hard hills and technical terrain are in the first few miles of the race.  Now it was just about picking a pace that I could sustain for the next several hours.  I know that the biggest mistake people make in the JFK race is so go out too hard at the start of the canal.  The canal is 27.2 miles, just one mile over a marathon, but your quads have just taken a pretty good pounding on the trail and switchbacks, not to mention the 9 miles of rolling hills you have left to go after you finish.  In other words, you should NOT go out at marathon pace.  I planned to go out at a pace that was a little faster than last year, with the intention to pick things up around the 32 mile mark if I was feeling it. 

The pace felt pretty comfortable, probably around 8:30s, but from the way I was feeling I guessed that this was going to get harder to hold later on down the road.  I met a couple of guys on the canal and ran with them off and on, most of them traveling from pretty far to come to this race.  Some of them picked up the pace after a few miles, and I chose not to follow.  I’d be seeing them again later down the canal. 

I was informed that I was the 12th woman coming off of the Appalachian Trail, so I thought that there were either more competitive elite women out there than we thought or else some people went out way too hard.  I saw one girl just ahead of me when I got on the canal, but she was keeping a pretty good pace for a while, so it took me a few miles to catch and pass her.  I picked off one other woman a while later who was running by herself.  I was looking forward to getting to the Antietam aid station, around mile 27, which always has the biggest crowds and I knew “Team Jackie” would be there to swap out my handheld and get more gels.  When I ran through here I think I was 10th place woman, with 9th just in front of me.  She stopped at the aid station, and I passed her when I ran through.  

Around the 30 mile mark there was an aid station where I grabbed a cup of water on my breeze through.  As I was leaving I heard someone yell “Damnit Jackie!”  I had to laugh when I saw Matt and LT behind me stopped at the aid station.  It just wouldn’t be a JFK if I didn’t chick at least a couple of Navy guys J
Around the 4 hour mark my quads started feeling annoyingly sore.  And I knew it was way too early for them to start feeling this way.  Then, almost suddenly, it felt like someone flipped the off switch to my legs, and they felt gone.  Just like that.  I looked at my watch.  4:22.  I had at least 3 more hours of running to go.  Not good.  I was a little puzzled because I thought my legs felt worse now than they had during my 5 hour training run, Halloweeny, or even the UROC 50K around 5 hours.  This should not be happening right now, and I’m not sure why it was.  It was a bit disheartening, but I thought I was just kind of sinking into a race low and I’d come back out of it soon enough.  So I didn’t slow down much, and kept the pace at a bit of a push to try and get through it. 

I thought I was eating smart.  I was drinking Gatorade from my handheld and took gels every hour to 45 minutes and also has some Jelly babies and another pack of Cliff blocks.  I wasn’t hungry, but knew it was important to keep the calories coming.  However I did not consume anything of substance, and by the five hour mark I was beginning to feel pretty nauseated, which I attributed all the sweetness of the gels and Gatorade.  I knew I should have probably eaten a granola bar, fruit or something to appease my stomach earlier on, but now I was too nauseous to even think about chewing and swallowing food, so I continued to choke down gels.  It was a vicious cycle. 

But I kept at it, nauseated and leg screaming, at times almost having to force myself not to drop pace.  I was determined though, and I always come into ultras ready to take what the day will throw and feeding off of strong will and stubbornness at times when I need to push through the hard parts.  And the miles came and passed, some being harder than others.  Like Matt would say after the race, it felt like someone was taking a rubber mallet and smacking my quads with it on every stride.  It was pretty uncomfortable, so I just tried to think about anything but running.  From a couple quick glances at my watch and split times though, I was reeling in on my finishing time, from more than 15 minutes off of 7:30 finish, then to 12 minutes, before long 7 minutes…  Normally I don’t like looking at my splits and doing mental math during races, but this is the first race where I have actually found that doing this actually helped boost me a little.  I felt like crap but I was still making progress. 
How can you not be lifted when you see a cute little girl holding this sign? Love my little cousin Margaret:-) 

Right now all I could think about was getting to Taylors landing at mile 38, the next aid station where I would see my crew again.  My legs felt so crappy that I had re-evaluated my decision of changing up my shoes and decided to do it at this point, hoping that it would give me at least a small feeling of rejuvenation I would need to get through the next 12 miles.  My crew was great and made the shoe change and chip swap pretty smoothly and quickly.  But when I set off again, I found it didn’t really do much.  It wasn’t my feet that were the problem; it was my legs.  And trying to alleviate something more distal in the chain just wasn’t going to work. 

Still I pushed on, trying not to drop pace, and at this point really considering that I’d be really lucky to scrape 7:30.  I calculated that I was about 3 minutes off this time right now and I still had some time make-up to do.  This was the point in the race when the canal really seems endless.  The best thing to do is probably to not look too far ahead of you, because you can see off so far in the distance…and you can’t see the end.   Soon after Taylors landing a boy with a bandana ran up beside me.  “Hi.  Did you run this race last year?  Because you passed me around this point last year when I died on the canal!”  I don’t know if it was more funny that he actually remembered my from last year or that he was admitting this to me right now at the same exact point.  He ran up ahead a few hundred feet to meet up with his friends where he slowed down again.  I passed them all about a minute later, giving a couple words of encouragement like I usually do.  But one of the bandana guys friends decided to try to hang with me and asked if he could run with me for a while.  Sure.  He was a bit SOB but was holding it together pretty well, at least seemingly.  He told me that this was the fastest he had fun in hours and thanked me for giving him the boost.  We small talked for a little while, and although I had no idea who this guy was, it was kind of nice to have some companionship for once during the race.  The last thing I remember him saying was “you’re probably going to leave me in the dust here soon…”  And after the next aid station, I didn’t see him again and I was back to running solo. 

The last aid station at the end of the canal came sooner than expected and seconds later I found myself on the road battling up the last big hill before the finish.  This year, this hill felt steeper and harder than both years past, and it was actually the first year that I had to walk up a part of it.  After up-chucking a small amount of gel or some other grossness up my throat and into my mouth,  I decided to let myself walk for less than a minute up the damn thing and also so I could give myself the mini pep talk that I needed to finish up this thing.  At the aid station, I had stopped briefly to refill my water and grabbed a cup of Coke and sipped it a little up the hill.  I hoped it might help with my stomach a bit.  Less than 9 miles to go. 

The last miles were a push.  Especially since I knew I was cutting it so close to last year’s time.  But I was in pain right now and didn’t even want to look at my watch anymore.  I’m going to run this thing in as hard and as best that I can and looking at my watch time is not going to make a difference in my effort, so there’s no point.  The mile countdown starting from number 8 began.  I concentrated on a few guys that I saw ahead of me and managed to catch and pass about three or four of them.  I wasn’t thinking about the finish line yet though.  Just thinking about getting to around the 46 mile mark and intersection where I would see my dad who would be waiting for me.  I didn’t really need anything.  Nothing at this point was going to make me feel any better.  It would just really lift my spirits to break up this long final stretch of road and see someone along the way. 

There were a couple of aid stations along the way, which I pretty much just blew through, just taking a cup of water or something small to drink.  I finally came to the corner where I knew I’d see my dad.  I had actually thought it was coming sooner than it actually did, so I had spent the last mile thinking that he wasn’t able to get through the traffic to get there, so it was an extra treat to actually see him now.  Less than a 5K to go. 

After turning this corner, I spotted a guy ahead in the distance, and just ahead of him a little further, a woman.  She was pretty far up at this point, and I knew it was probably out of my reach at this point to be able to catch her.  At this point, it felt like a tractor trailer had run over my legs.  Then backed up and hit them again, just to be sure the job was done.  I had nothing.  I didn’t even hesitate at the 1.5 mile-to-go aid station.  Soon I was rounding corners where the cops directed traffic, excited to see my family and crew at the finish line.  I knew I’d see my grandfather, aunts and little cousins coming out to support me, all representing the purple and gold “Team Jackie” shirts.  We looked like a real teamJ  Somehow I managed to pass that last guy in the last few hundred meters when I saw the finish line and heard the announcers.  I saw the clock said 7:29, my last year time as I approached from a distance so I kicked it in with everything I had left to try to cut it as close as possible.  Clock time was 7:30:16 when I crossed and I came in 9th place woman overall.  My stopwatch had 7:29:50 from the time I crossed the starting matt this morning. 

The medal felt like 20 pounds around my neck after that rough day.

Of course, my favorite boys:-)  Mike did really awesome, with a 6:42 this year and Ted a 7:08.  Matt and LT weren't far behind me, finishing in 7:40 and an amazing first 50 mile time for Matt!

More team Jackie!


For a while, I was kind of disappointed with my finish.  All I could think about was how great of a race I had last year and trying to figure out what went wrong this year.  But as I stood up at the awards ceremony, Mike Spinnler announcing the women ahead of me and their accomplishments, I realized that I must be good for something to be able to stand up there with the top ten.  These were some of the best ultrarunning women in the country, including some women on the U.S. national 100K team!  The first woman finished in 6:32, coming close to Devon Crosby-Helms CR and I was happy to see Cassie Scallion a relatively “new girl” from Wisconsin take in her first big win in the ultrarunning world.  Meghan Arborgast finished just two minutes behind her, and blew out the female masters record by some 85 minutes!  So, rather counter to portrayal by the pre-media coverage, the women’s field did turn out to be pretty “stacked” afterall. 

Additionally, I consider myself very lucky to have the support that I did for this race.  At every allowable aid station, I’d find my dad about a mile out, where he’d ask me what I needed and then phone into my mom and my aunt, who had everything ready to go for me when I came through.  They would even run beside me for a small distance so I wouldn’t have to stop or slow down.  And my dad hates to run.  They definitely saved me at least a few minutes and I am grateful for the sacrifices they made to all day for me.  Not to mention the signs made by my aunt that lifted my spirits and the matching purple and gold T shirts that no one could miss!

In talking with some respected running friends and coaches after the race, they congratulated me on what they considered to be a solid race, despite how I felt.  And when I saw Mike Spinnler at the Hagerstown Turkey Trot a few days later on Thanksgiving (ran a 19:50 5K on brick legs, took 5th place and literally missed winning my age group turkey by ONE second to a 25 yo ahead of me. Gahhhhh.  Still, Ill take it.), he quoted…It takes a good runner to run a great race on a good day.  It takes a great runner to run a good race on a bad day. 
It’s hard when you feel like you have poured your heart and soul into one race for so long.  An entire year worth of blood, sweat and tears poured into one day, a few hours, a single shot to give it everything you’ve got.  You do everything within your power to make this your day, the best day with the greatest feeling you have felt all year.  When something goes wrong, it feels like your world is crumbling around you in that single moment.  To be able to hold it together and push yourself through the end, that’s what takes a great runner. 
In retrospect, I think I learned some important lessons out on that JFK course on that day.  And to be honest, I don’t know that I would trade it for a feel-great glorious Jackie Day.  I think that what I have gained from that race is worth more to me than a glorious finish on a good day, that might have gotten me something like 5th place amongst the women in that field.  And what I gained will surely help to push me through the next adventure I get myself into.

So what’s next…..weeeeellllll…

I can now officially say that it is on January 7th in Texas at the Bandera 100K, the 2012 USA Track and Field 100km Trail National Championships!  I had actually been eyeing this race with Mike before going into JFK, but wanted to wait and see how I recovered before I made the official commitment.  At first, I wallowed in self-doubt for a little after JFK, questioning my endurance and my fitness ability to even be able to complete a race like this.  This will easily be the hardest race I have ever attempted.  Even though 62 miles is just 12 more than 50, the terrain is all single track and apparently pretty rocky and technical and I could easily be on my feet for an additional 4+ hours compared to JFK.  I am both thrilled and scared to death, but we will see what happens out there in that grand old state of TEXAS! 

Check out the slide show my aunt put together!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Training for JFK 2011

4 Weeks till Race day…

The week of 4 weeks out, I logged a 100 mile week, with a few good speed workouts midweek and a key 5 plus hour, 35 mile trail run on Saturday.  I knew I needed this run just as much mentally as I did physically.  Realistically, I knew I was fully capable of running a distance more than 30 miles, but this is the first time since my 6Hour race in July that I have run this far, and something inside me needed to know that I still could.  The first hour of the run I actually felt pretty crappy, and I thought that this could possibly turn into feeling like the longest run of my life.  But I kept about a sub 9mmi pace on the trail and sometime before two hours in, I got into my groove and got into my long trail run zone.  I just let my body do the work and my mind wander.  And it did a lot of wandering during those next few hours of beautiful cool crisp fall single track in WCC.  When I was on the last stretch in the final 30 minutes of so and off the single track and on the flat smooth road, I started picking up speed.  It was kind of a paradoxical legs were now to the point of soreness, which came with every foot strike on the pavement, yet I felt good.  I finished up with a pretty decent pace, and on the JHall trail in the last 2 miles, I pushed the pace, estimating I had to be running faster than marathon pace (I have seriously got to get a Garmin!)  When I turned into the parking lot of my apartment complex, I chucked my handheld under a tree and kept running.  I ran past my building, back out into the street and did a little lollipop mile loop around my development, still pushing the pace harder.  I finished that run feeling tired, but like I could keep going, yet really satisfied, which is exactly what I wanted out of the run.  It was a major confidence booster, not only to get in the miles but to know that I could run the distance and still feel like I could go further.   

WCC path.

I did the whole run by myself.  It seems like it might get lonely to be running by yourself for 5 hours, even without any music.  But I actually found this solo training run to give me the peace of mind I needed.  The concern of holding back someone else's pace or taking someone out too far or too long were not there.  Just me alone in the woods, in my zone.  Nice every once in a while.

The day after this long run Mike had come down and we were planning to run the Cafe Gelato 10 miler Sunday morning.  I really had no idea how my body was going to react to an attempt at a fast 10 mile race but I thought I'd give it a stab.  Surprisingly, I felt pretty decent during the race, and I pushed the pace a bit, but didn't give things a full-out blasting effort because I didn't want a true "race pace" to take everything out of me for the next few days in the week.  I finished the relatively flat trail race in 1:12, averaging 7:12 mmis, which I was very happy with.  I won 3rd place my age group 20-24, with a few UDXC athletes showing up to blow it away (winning time 56 minutes!).  Mike and I ran a 5 mile "cool down" afterwards before redeeming our free waffle cone gelatos:-) 

After a Monday of cross training, Tuesday I got in some decent speed work with a few mile repeats on a 5:45am run, followed later in the day by 6 Xs 800s on the treadmill followed by some lifting in the afternoon on my break from my typical 10 hours of class on Tuesdays.  I logged 20 miles for the day. 

Wednesday I planned to do a "medium-long distance" run at a steady pace, and after a long 4 hour data collection early in the morning with a stroke patient, I went on a 2 + hour run through WCC, estimating I was keeping about sub 8mmis, feeling that I was running just a bit easier than marathon pace.  After working with patients like this,  I often find myself somewhat more motivated on my runs...whether it's the consideration that I am so privileged to be able to go out the door and do the things that I do or simply the thought of Thank god that's not me.  My life may not be the most ideal right now, feeling like I am constantly under pressure and stress, but I cannot imagine having a life dictated by a neurological impairment like stroke coupled with all the comorbidities that go with it.  I consider myself in the unique position of being exposed to such a wide variety of people from both extremes of the physical activity spectrum, which can really put things in perspective.   About 16ish miles later I finished back at my lab feeling fairly tired before going in for a couple more hours of class (soft tissue massage lab, just what I needed--score!)  I came home early for the day, around 5:30, half starving, and knowing I needed to read and study for my practical exam tomorrow and my exam early next week and not really planning to run again that day, but I was itching.  So there I was, finding myself in that all-too-familiar predicament of being torn between hunger and desire to run.  My solution?  I grabbed a few handfuls of Chex cereal, gulped down some lemonade Gatorade and headed out the door again for a hopefully quick run on the J-Hall trail.  I absolutely hate running on an empty stomach, and I had found myself doing this on my run earlier that afternoon.  However, there is that fine line between just enough and too much, and too much can also make for a rather unpleasant run (as I am all too familiar!).  My snack today must have been just enough because I walked back out the door feeling rejuvinated and ready for a tempo run.  I usually do my tempos on my 5:45 am Thursday morning runs, but it has now reached that time of year when it is pitch dark until around 7am, and I find it hard to run my fastest when I am worried about tripping over something and eating it on the way down.  So I am finding myself having to try and work in the tempo pace somewhere else in my week and it hasn't quite found a good place just yet.  But today, I cranked out two quick bouts of about 2.3 miles each at sub 7 minute pace and felt good doing it, keeping my times within 4 seconds of each other.  Even though it was fast, I usually find myself unsatisfied with runs less than 5-6 miles, almost like I have barely whet my appetite.  I wanted to keep running, but I knew I needed to get back to studying of these exams...argghhhhh what to I went upstairs to my apartment, grabbed my notes and headed to the treadmill at my apartment complex.  I put myself at 7:30mmi pace and went at it for another hour.  I felt pretty decent, and mostly just reminded of how boring any kind of distance running on the treadmill can really be.  When I couldn't stand being stuck in the stuffy incandescent lit little gym anymore, I called it a day and went home to shower and continue my studying until bed.  On the walk back, I realized I had run about 28.5 miles for the day, with some quality paced stuff.  And I could have probably kept going, although my legs were feeling it a bit by the end of the night.  

3 Weeks till race day…

Three weeks out I continued with my high mileage week, logging 112 miles by Sunday.  I felt really good about this week, as it wasn’t just about the miles but about the quality of my workouts.

 It didn’t seem like things would be this way from the start. I took a cross training day on Monday to try to get a little rest from my hard week before going into my Tuesday morning workout.  I took a moderately paced 7 miles this Tuesday at 6am before class, planning to hit my intervals hard at my 3pm break from class.  But when 3pm came around, I felt like absolute crap.  The first 800 felt way harder than it should have, and things only went downhill from there, with stomach issues that onset soon after.  After the first 3-4 sets, I decided that enough was enough and stepped down from my state of misery. 
This workout was a bit discouraging, as this was supposed to be my last really hard set of speedwork before tapering down next week.  Wednesday afternoon I had to do a little bit of mental coaxing to get myself out to WCC for a run.  I wasn’t even planning on doing anything fast, but it’s amazing sometimes after you start the run how quickly you can actually start feeling good and have a complete change of mind.  By the time I had run the half mile of so down to enter the park, I had decided that today was a tempo day.  And when I hit my line, I was off.  About 2.5 miles later I realized that I had just run the fastest tempo I have ever run on this training course…and by 40 seconds! The day was beautiful and cool and I felt good.  I had some time so I decided to prolong my run.  I did another 3 miles of speed, an out and back, each split being faster than the last.  I took short easy run breaks between the fast segments.  On the last 2.5 mile segment I went in feeling a bit tired, but I still pushed the pace.  I ran this almost as fast as my first, still clocking the fastest time I ever have.  I went back into lab feeling more than content, my spirits once again lifted. 

That weekend was the Halloweeny 50K, which was certainly an adventure, and turned out to be a pretty great run, after bearing through the rain, snow and extreme weather conditions. ( I was the first and ONLY woman to complete the run, yippeeeyyyy!!)  The next day Mike and I went back out to the C&O canal and got in 15 miles at a pretty comfortable pace through the aftermath of the storm on a bright and sunny day.  I could feel the miles on this day, but was surprised that I didn’t seem to need to push myself through the run at this pace; it just came kind of naturally.

2 Weeks till race day…

The Saturday of 2 weeks out I decided to take my last run of any type of distance.  I met up with Doug and Paul, two fast guys from UD Tri club, and we did a 16 mile run, with some decent hills thrown in at the middle, and we averaged 7:30 pace overall.  The hills were a bit of a push, but I felt really good running at this pace.  In the last few miles I could tell the guys were getting a bit tired, as they are not used to running this kind of distance, but I was almost feeling better than I had during the first few miles.  The last couple miles on some good flattish stretches we ran 7mmi flats coming back into Newark.  I ran back to Doug’s place with him and he gave me his Garmin to use for the next couple weeks of training.  For the last two mile run back home to my apartment I kicked it in with a couple of 6:50 mmis.  I don’t know how accurate these things are, but if it’s right then awesome!  I didn’t want to stop when I got back, but I kind of forced myself to call it quits for the day. 

The next day I took an easy 10 mile run, practicing a pace I hoped to be sustaining on the canal during the race and felt pretty decent.  Accurate or not, the Garmin lets me know that I am running pretty consistent pace, and if it actually is right, I am running a good bit faster than I think I am!
In the week that followed, I pretty much did everything that I normally do during a training week, except less of it.  I cut my mileage and during my normal two-a-days I did crosstraining instead of a second run if I felt like I needed to.

1 week till race day:

On Saturday I went with Mike to volunteer at the Rosaryville 50K, with a 4:45am wake-up.  It started out a freezing cold morning that turned into a beautiful day.  The course consisted of three 9.5 mile loops through bumpy single track trail with a short pavement segment out and back from the start/finish line.  Mike and I ran one loop out from the starting line and back to give about 10 miles at a pretty relaxed pace.  My legs felt decent and it felt good to be out on the trails in the woods again.  The run did let me know that I needed to rest up this week though, because I hope to feel a hundred times better on JFK race day.  I just felt a little tired and run down mentally, which I attribute to my lack of sleep during a very stressful past few days (or few weeks for that matter).  The next day I attended the Society for Neuroscience conference (braiinnnnnnnssssssJ ) and didn’t run, asleep by 8pm that night and not waking until 12 hours later.  One of the best nights of sleep I have had in a while. 

My runs this week so far have felt easy.  Seemingly too easy.  But I guess that’s how things should be right now.  I have not gone into a week feeling so fresh in a while.  I did a little less than 4 miles at 6:40 pace with my roommate, broken up on Monday, with an easy warm-up/cool down.  I felt great, and hardly phased at all when I finished.  I wanted to run again later than day but refrained.  Early Tuesday morning I hit the track with the UDXC team and did some 400s, with long 400 recovery, just at a pace that felt smooth and natural to me.  Coach Fischer helped to keep me religious with my taper.  I finished up with a few striders.  The running felt easy.

As for the rest of the week, I plan to do the same thing I did last year.  Easy 5 miles on Wednesday, probably not running at all Thursday and Friday, just maybe swimming some laps or spinning out on my trainer. 
I am certainly finding myself in a different situation and state of mind than I was during the few days before the race last year at this time.  I was injured, so was not even sure that I ‘d be able to complete the race.  I missed out on my “peak mileage week” last year at the time of injury, so I believed that this set me back a bit in my training.  I also  didn’t have the confidence-booster runs that I have had in the past few weeks, and really was unable to do much speed work in the month leading up to the race.  I think that this did force me to rest up and stay true to my tapper, but I do still think I was set back in my training which could have had an effect on my performance, despite the fact that I had the best race of my life on race day.  For this reason, I feel that I am physically more fit and ready this year for the race.  However, last year everything fell into place last year, with not only fitness, but with weather, nutrition, stomach conditions, and mentality on race day.  It is certainly a rarity for everything to fall into place on race day, so for everything to happen in this way for this year is probably more than I can hope for.  Last year I also had this feeling of “comfortable uncertainty,” with little to no expectations for what that race day will bring.  This year there are expectations, both of myself and from others (like the ones who gave me a seeded spot this year!).  I cannot say that I really have a plan, other than to let my body guide me to run in my own rhythm and feel. 

So the single digit countdown continues, antsy with my taper and keeping me more nervous and excited than ever!

My list of post-race indulgences…

·         Jefe night!!!  Rocking out to all my requested favs…Tom Petty, O.A.R., old school Blink-182, Sublime, Zack Brown, Wagon Wheel and so much more…aannnnnd drinking apple pie, key lime and tequila shots from Jefe till I puke. (Kidding…well, kinda…J )   
·         SAS pumpkin cupcake
·         Pumpkin spice latte with soy
·         Sushi (okay,so there was probably a little of this pre-race…)
·         Frozen yogurt.
·         ROCK CLIMBING!! And feeling every ache pain and wound that come with it in the days to followJ
·         Christmas cookies!!!

Probably many more to come and open to suggestions…any ideas?