Sunday, December 29, 2013

Life's Choices and Moving Forward One Step at a Time

If there is one thing I've learned from running ultras, it is to never give up.  Just keep moving forward, especially when things aren't going well along the course and remember that in the end, all the struggle is over when you cross the finish line. And, it is at this time that you are filled with happiness and self achievement.  In Ultras, you have to battle weather, your nutrition, the distance and the difficulties of the course. If you focus on the things you can control like nutrition, your mental state and learn to adjust to the things you cannot change such as weather, it will seem more of a positive challenge and less of a negative struggle. This is also true with life.

We all have things we have to take care of, work, paying bills and dealing with relationships but if you focus on what is important to you and make it priority then everything else seems to work itself out. Life doesn't happen exactly the way we planned, things change along the way, but if you are brave and try to make positive changes and learn to accept things that cannot be changed, happiness will be achieved. Sometimes we take chances that have the possibility to end poorly but it is the hope and belief for a victorious outcome that keep us trying, taking these risks. If you never take a chance, you will never know that it IS possible. I will take chances in all aspects of my life!

I want to live my life to the fullest. I believe we all have a need and a right to be happy and it is up to us to ensure we achieve this. For me, it is having people in my life that I can trust and rely on, that are there for me and love me completely. Happiness is running and adventuring, trying new things and not being afraid of new challenges. I wouldn't be who I am today without running and the people in my life who have been there for me in different capacities along the way. So, with that said...I would like to focus this next year on my running, with it being at the forefront of my priorities. I love being out on the trails and I love competition. I love pushing my body and mind to new limits.

This year will end with me being a very different person. My personal life has changed but I'm grateful for the memories and the experiences. I hope that when 2013 closes, 2014 will open into a new and promising adventure that will bring with it new challenges and achievements. But most of all, I will love and be happy.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year filled with HAPPINESS :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shoes, they make a difference!

So recently I decided that I wanted to look at trying a new shoe because for the past couple years I've been running in the different Salomon trail and hybrid shoes but have been disappointed with the hybrid models such as the Crossmax. To me, they just felt too hard. The XR Mission were a little better but my favorite of
the Salomon shoes are the SpeedCross. They are an amazing shoe and I love them however, they are not the best shoe to run on pavement and since a lot of my training runs are variations of mostly trail and a little bit of road, I don't always like to wear them. Although, I definitely try and limit the time I spend on the road, sometimes it is unavoidable for short periods.

First, let me just say that I have a neutral foot-strike and with a shoe designed to promote the naturalist strike, I'm a mid foot striker. I like shoes that allow me to run this way, meaning the heel-to-toe ratio is normally just in that "minimal" threshold. I don't like a 0mm drop but somewhere around 7-9mm is good for me. So, when looking for a shoe, I consulted my husband. He usually does a lot of research and unlike me, can remember the facts and recite them back. He suggested I try a shoe that he had recently bought, the Pearl Izumi Project EMOTION.

So about two months ago, without too much thought, I bought them online. They have different models for the different types of foot support needed. I knew that I needed one of the the N models but I didn't like any of the colors so I chose a pair bases on a color scheme I liked. I didn't think it would make any difference if I chose the M model which is meant to provide mid-foot stability or the N model for Neutral support. Big mistake! It was almost immediately that I started to get "Runner's knee" symptoms which is something I don't normally have. I would occasionally get a a sharp pain in my right knee when running downhill and it sucked. It lasted for about a month and a half, I was icing, taking vitamin I (Ibuprofen) and generally taking it easy on my runs but if I lengthened my stride or ran downhill, I would feel the sharp pain under my kneecap. I didn't think it was the shoe right away. I really liked the way they felt, they made me feel like I had a bounce in my step and so I didn't want to believe it was the shoe which was giving me problems.

Then my last race started approaching and I just knew that I was going to have some knee pain during my race. I was willing to accept it. Since I had put over 250 miles, ran a muddy 85km race and ran lots of trails runs where my foot submerged into puddles in the M2's, I thought it would be best to get a new
pair for the race. So, I placed another order but this time for the N2s. I hoped they would get here in time before the race and luckily they did. They arrived on the Wednesday before my race. I knew I didn't have time to break them in but I felt I would be fine wearing them during the race, so I did. And not one time did I get that runner's knee pain running downhill that I had experienced the weeks and month prior. It was crazy. I thought maybe it was a fluke and the excitement of the race dulled my senses but I've ran in these shoes every run since the 100km race and not one time have I had that pain.

I'm not 100% certain the shoe caused the knee pain but I think that they did. I really like the N2's, they feel great and I feel like I run faster with them. I think they are a fabulous summer shoe except for the fact that they are not waterproof. I wish Pearl Izumi used some sort of water resistance technology because then I would have no complaints. I will say, that even though my feet get wet easily while wearing them, they also dry rather quickly. And, when they do get wet, they don't feel like they weigh a ton, they actually don't feel any heavier, they just feel wet. I will definitely wear them for my next race which is the SwissAlpine 78km in Davos, Switzerland but I'm not sure if I will put them to the test during the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) 119km. For TDS, I may just revert back to my old trusty pair of SpeedCross 3 with Climashield technology.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Zugspitz Ultra Trail 2013 Race Report

The Zugspitz UltraTrail 100km race was amazing
and I enjoyed every minute of it.

It was a little over 102km with 19,347ft of elevation gain even though they claimed it was 100km with 17,782ft. At 07:15 we started running, I told myself that I was going to run my own race and that I wouldn't let others determine my pace. When a couple ladies passed me as I was getting water in my pack at the first aid station, I told myself to just let them go, it is a long race and I had time to catch them. We immediately started climbing and I felt strong, I was pushing steady but it wasn't until I got to the top and on the way down the mountain that I flew, zooming by the guys and just letting my legs carry me. There were a couple times I almost fell because I slid on the rocks but I just let the momentum carry me through and never fell all the way. Actually, the only real time I fell was just a few times when we were coming down the largest climb when I slid on snow and on the mud, but I just bounced right back up.  Everyone was falling and bouncing back up, it was kinda fun and I had a good laugh. There was a portion of the race where they installed rope so it would be easier to get down about a 400 meter patch of snow/ice however for many of us, it was just easier to let ourselves slide down on our butts!

At the halfway point where my drop-bag was, my friends met me and told me that the 2nd place girl left the checkpoint about 25mins ago and the third place girl (Gabi) was still there. I told them that I wasn't going to stay long because I wanted to keep moving and of course they understood. I felt bad because they had been there for a couple hours waiting on me but they encouraged me to hurry and try and catch the woman ahead of me. I hurried up and changed my shirt because the one I was wearing was open back and my pack rubbed my back raw. Then I quickly drank a protein drink that I had in my drop-bag and took off. In the meantime, third place frau Gabi had taken off and had about a 5min lead on me. I left that checkpoint and I was hurting a little from all the climbing but I kept running, nice and steady.

Somewhere after Checkpoint 7, I started to run with two guys, one who did Tri's, and another named Peter. They asked me what place I was in...I told them 4th. The three of us were very strong downhill, passing some people along the way. Then as we were about to make another steep climb, the Tri guy turns around and says to me, "there she is!" and pointed to Gabi. I had already seen her so I quietly said "I know" and then he told me to go get her. As I approached Gabi, I asked how she was doing. She said she wasn't feeling strong and asked me how I was, I told her I felt good and I kept on moving. As I reached Peter (because at this point he was a little bit ahead of me) I tapped him on the shoulder and told him, I had just passed 3rd place girl and I told him, let's get going. I told him to push the pace and I would stay right behind him...and boy did he! We must have passed about 20 people (both from the ultrtrail and from the supertrail...they merged at some point before Ferchensee(V7)) and all while climbing up! Climbing up the mountain, my heart was pounding, my breathing was labored but I just knew once we reached the top it would be all over and I could relax on the downhill. At least that is what I kept telling myself. However, that was not the case. Peter (who ran the race last year) informed me that once we get to the top we have to run the "loop" in between the Bemadeinkopf and the Osterfelderkopf mountain peaks.  This would be our final climb. And man, was it a big climb. But, we kept moving and before I knew it, the sun was setting and I was flying. The hours had just gone by and I felt like nothing could stop me. As I was running by people, they were cheering me along, giving me lots of encouragement and stepping out of the way so I could run past them. As I ran down the final descent, it was dark so I was relying very much on my headlamp...the ground was wet from the water running off of the mountain but I ran (and slipped) down as fast as I could. I really felt strong and I was so happy to be finishing 3rd. I knew I had it and nothing could stop me. 

I loved this race and really enjoyed every moment. I met a lot of new people and we shared in a wonderful experience together! I hope to see many of you on the trails again.

It was great to come to the finish and see my friends there cheering me on. Thank you to all those who supported me along the way, both physically and virtually. A special thanks to my husband who can't be here to run with me this year, I wish you could!