Monday, September 8, 2014

Hotter'n Hell Hundred Recap

I ended up going to HHH, and while it was very hard, I really enjoyed it. The ride definitely lived up to its name.
I drank so much water on the week leading up to HHH. I took off of work on Friday, Aug 22, and left for Wichita Falls around noon. I packed my car and hit the road, stylin with my dinosaur sunglasses:

I stayed in a church that offers lodging to HHH participants every year. I was a little worried (but when am I not a little worried?!), but things worked out well. We stayed in the church's rec center. The women stayed upstairs. I went over and picked up my packet, ate the spaghetti dinner, and then went back to the church to relax. I got up at 4:15am, because I needed to meet my friends at the flagpole near the start at 6am. I live in fear of being late lol. I could have started from the church that I stayed at, but I was worried about getting lost on the way back (it was a 2mi ride). So I parked my car at another church parking lot, roughly 3 blocks from the start. I drove over there, unpacked my stuff, and rode over to the flag pole.

Kennon, me, Adam, and Sandy at the flagpole (Kelli is the photographer):

Lined up:

Adam, me, Sandy, and Kelli:

We started up behind the Scorchers (the fastest group) because those riders are experienced. I should have started way way back with the Hopefuls (9+ hr expected finish time), but that's where the start is dangerous. People lose water bottles, don't know how to ride in a group, and it's packed. So, while I was very nervous about starting up with the fast kids, Adam, Sandy, and Kelli assured me that it was for the best (and they were right!). I only saw about 6 water bottles, and I never saw any wrecks. I did see a guy go by with his buddies in identical kits, but his shorts had a big rose on the back. It took me a minute to realize that his shorts were actually ripped and that was road rash on his exposed butt cheek. I'm not sure that I would have continued on, but kudos to him.

Sandy and Kelli left us fairly early on, so I drafted behind Adam for the first 30 miles. We did catch them briefly about 10 miles in, because a train had stopped roughly 500 people at the railroad crossing. I imagine that they were pissed, and we basically had a second start. It was very packed and a little bit scary.

I took a selfie every time I stopped at a rest stop. I am in a sign language interpreter program, so I signed the number of every stop so I'd know where the pic was taken. I didn't stop until the 30mi stop, which was my plan. I needed to make Hell's Gate before the cutoff. HG is at 60 miles, and closes at 12:30. I wanted to ensure that I made the gate, otherwise I would have been diverted to a 75mi route.

30 mile rest stop, having a great time. I averaged roughly 18mph for the first 30 miles, which is ridiculously high for me. At every rest stop, I was very careful to not lay my bike in the grass because of stickers, and I checked my tires before leaving. I was super worried about getting a flat, because I'd had one on the last 2 group rides that I did.

50mi rest stop. Adam started feeling sick somewhere around 40 miles in, so we agreed that I'd continue on alone, and he planned to take the diverted route voluntarily. I caught Kelli and Sandy at the 50, which shows how bad Kelli was feeling. I shouldn't have seen her again after the start (she's really fast). I was still feeling great at 50 miles:

I made Hell's Gate at 11:30, with an hour to spare! I was so excited. My friend Heather and I met up somewhere around 58 miles. We took a right turn right into the headwind, and OMG. It was like hitting a wall.

After HG, I hit every rest stop. The temp reached 104F, and we had a 20mph headwind from about 80 miles on. You could feel it after that right turn before HG. That wind was not pleasant.

65mi rest stop. People had laid their bikes down in the grass. A gust of wind came through and it was strong enough that all of the bikes fell completely over. Not a good sign. That's Heather in the blue behind me, pouring water on her head. It was hot.

I started to feel the heat by this point. I was very careful about drinking water and gatorade, and eating on schedule. I ate every hour from the gel flask, and I had 2 bananas and a clif bar at every rest stop. I carried a 50oz camelbak, a 24oz bottle for gatorade, and a 21oz bottle with water for pouring over my head and back. I remember one brief feeling of nausea (shortly after the 50mi stop), and occasional chills. Both are signs of dehydration. Thankfully, the nausea went away. I drank water and gatorade every time I felt a chill.

This is the 75mi rest stop. It was the first time that I sat down (every rest stop had chairs and cots). I was afraid to sit down earlier than this, because the temptation to just stay there was strong. This was my favorite stop-they had a little girl with a pesticide sprayer-type contraption, filled with ice water. She was spraying people down, and it felt amazing. This was also the only stop that had a theme (neon 80s I think). I had been told that every stop had a theme, but I guess they slacked on that this year. You can see that I am growing less happy. My face is getting redder and redder, too.

By the time I got to the 85mi rest stop, I was ready to go home. I couldn't remember why I thought that this was a good idea. It was hot, I was tired, and the wind was wearing me down. I saw a guy pass out cold at this stop. He hit the ground face-down, unconscious. This was the "muddy stop." As you can see, there wasn't much grass. Add in a lot of water and gatorade, and you have a mud pit. They put down plyboards for people to walk on. I saw several people stopped down the road after this rest stop, trying to get the mud out of their cleats. I discovered the cool rags soaked in ice water at this stop, and they were a god-send.

From 85 miles on, the rest stops were at 5 mile intervals. This is the 90mi rest stop, and I was so over it by this point. There was a carport, and people were setting their bikes down there. I laid my bike down, and sat on the ground until I had the energy to walk the 50 feet to the portapotties. I started putting the cold rags under the leg bands of my shorts to help cool me off.  I was passed by many many full SAG vehicles. I was beginning to wonder if they were going to run out of people to pick up.

Somewhere between the 90 and 95mi rest stops, I passed a guy. I was so tired that I yelled "On your right. I mean on your left. I mean, I'm on this side of you." (I was actually on his left) He laughed at me as I slowly passed him. Pretty much everyone was stupid tired by this point, so I'm sure he understood.

At the 95mi rest stop, I didn't even have the energy to make a number. I was just done by this point. Thankfully, there were only 5 miles left.

The last 5 miles were actually some of the easiest, with one exception. Someone decided that the route would go up a highway overpass. One of the ones in cities that goes over other roads. I don't know whose idea that was, but I yelled "this is just cruel" at the cop standing there as I started up the incline, and she agreed (and laughed. GAH). However, once I got over that, we came into a residential area, and the buildings helped block the god-awful wind. I finally felt like I was riding a road bike again, rather than pedaling through molasses.

I finally (FINALLY) got to the finish line around 4:40pm. My official time was 9:33. Nine and a half hours. According to my watch, I spent 6:45 of that on the bike (I had to pause my bia at every stop because it doesn't have autopause yet). After Hell's Gate, my goal was survival and finishing, not any kind of time goal. Unfortunately, my watch did not say 100 miles when I crossed the finish line (it said 99.25), so I did laps in the parking lot until it did. The course was actually 101 miles, so I was a bit irritated. I'll touch on that in an upcoming bia review post. But anyway. Adam and Sandy were waiting for me at the finish. All 3 of them (Kelli included) had taken the shorter route at Hell's Gate. Adam and Kelli were sick, and this was Sandy's 5th HHH and she didn't care which route she took. Kelli left immediately after finishing to go get married in New Mexico. Sandy took my picture at the finish line. This was completely not my idea, but apparently holding up your bike is a thing at HHH.

I distinctly remember telling them to hurry up before I dropped my bike on my head. I was oddly euphoric and sarcastic (probably from adrenaline). This is how I really felt, though:

I was so worried about the people waiting for me at the church that I immediately left and went to my car, loaded my bike, and drove back to the church. I was prepared to just leave so the poor woman wouldn't have to wait any longer, but she insisted that I take a shower and eat (wise woman). I did snap some pics at my car before leaving for the church:

You might notice that the medal is backwards. That shows how out of it I was-I carefully checked to make sure I could see the front of the medal, except I looked at the medal instead of at the iphone screen. LOL.

I did have some side-effects from riding my bike for forever in 104F Texas heat. I did not get a sunburn (thankfully I remembered to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or so), but I did have heat rash on my upper quads (right below the short line) and on my torso.

It went away within 2 days, thankfully. I haven't had too many lasting effects, though. I was tired for about 2 weeks, and my right knee has been pretty upset with me. It's finally getting better. I still haven't remembered to take the sticker off of my helmet.

Notes for next year (because I am signed up for lodging for next year-I'm crazy enough to do this again):
-take more money to the expo.
-taking frozen water bottles is not worth the effort; also, the church has ice.
-look for a cot
-make sure the sunscreen bottle is full (I used the last of it at the 90mi stop)

Now that school has started, I am unable to do any mid-week group rides. I am limited to the Saturday morning rides (ie the pre-donut and donut rides). I bought a bike trainer so that I can continue to ride through the winter. My goal on the bike front is to be able to stay with Smitty's group at Overholser when school is out in May. His group averages 18-20mph, and I've never managed to keep up with them (he has kindly stayed back with me on the 3 times I've tried his group).

Now it's time to switch back to running mode. I have the Spirit of Survival Half Marathon on Oct 6, and I'm going to run the full 2015 Memorial Marathon. Training for the marathon starts right before Christmas. I haven't been running as much as I should be, so the SoS half is probably going to be quite interesting. My goal for that race might be survival rather than a PR.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

I keep trying to start a blog post for updates, and then a week later, I'll realize that I forgot to do it. For example, I started this post on 6/3/2014, a week ago. That cycle keeps continuing. I've decided to just skip all of the mini updates that I wanted to do, and just post something (which is better than nothing, right?).

My running has pretty much gone to crap recently. I think it's a combination of burn-out and tightness. I've recently had some plantar fasciitis-type pain in my left foot. As long as I pay attention to how my foot lands on the ground, it doesn't bother me a whole lot. But if I get lazy, then it becomes a problem. As of this morning, I haven't run for a week, and it's still bothering me a little. I think it has something to do with my cycling shoes, so I'm looking into orthotics for those shoes to see if it helps. I also need to stretch my calves more, I think, because they have been ridiculously tight as well.

I'm also experiencing a bit of frustration (because of the above issues), and some burnout as well. I've been training for the Andy Payne marathon (Sept) and 24 the Hard Way ultra (Oct). Someone recently brought up the Hotter'n Hell Hundred bike ride, which is in late August. I quickly realized that there was no way that I could train for both the ultra and the HH100, and it wasn't hard for me to lean towards the cycling event. So I've decided to put off the ultra for a few years, and used my fall school schedule as an excuse. But I'm also not feeling the marathon. They haven't even announced the date yet, and that sort of disorganization really irritates me. So it wasn't a very hard decision to sit out, although I did struggle a bit about ditching 2 marathon plans in a row. Right now, I'd say I'm about 90% sure that I am going to take a brief step back! and then focus on PRing the SOS half in October. I haven't really decided on a training plan. I thought about using another Hal Higdon plan, but I don't really like the idea of dropping back down to 5 mile long runs. But maybe that's what I need? Alternatively, I could run 3 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then cycle through 8, 10, and 12 mile long runs. Idk. I'm probably not going to run again until Thursday, or maybe even until next Sunday, so I have some time to think about it. Also, race fees are a big part of the issue. I just can't afford to do as many races as I want to. So HH100, the Gravedigger, and the SoS Half are probably the only races I'll do for the rest of the year.

Now, on to the bike. I've had my bike for a little over 3 months so far. I didn't really get to ride it much for the first 4 weeks because we got snow or ice every weekend it seemed, so I've basically been riding since mid-March. I'm moving right along in mileage-my longest ride so far has been 55 miles. I've moved on to clipless pedals, and I've fallen 3x. Two Saturdays ago, I had my first wreck. My friend Heather and I went to the OBS 70 mile training ride. I went into it wanting to do 70, but ok with doing the 55 mile alternative route if need be. However, things did not go as planned. Heather and I were comfortably riding between the medium pace group and the slow group. It started raining, and we missed a turn. We eventually got back on course, but then we both went down because of wet railroad tracks. I ended up with some road rash on my hip, but nothing overly serious. My bike (Luna) is ok. Heather bloodied her knee and had some bad bruising. By the time we got to the convenience store where we were supposed to meet up, the group had left us (not maliciously-they thought we had gone on ahead). Heather didn't want to continue, so she called her husband. I rode 13 miles alone, trying to catch up with someone. I took the 55 mile route. Heather and her husband eventually caught up with me in their car, and took my bike and me ahead about a mile or 2 until we found someone for me to ride with. I finished with 54 miles. Lessons learned: don't miss any turns, and be sure to get someone's phone number so you can communicate (I ended up fb messaging 2 people to let them know what had happened). Also, wet railroad tracks are devious.

Like I said above, I'm thinking about doing the HH100. This weekend, I am doing the 44 mile route of miles4smiles, and then next weekend is the Tour de Cure (62 miles). I have some friends who are doing it, but I'm not entirely sure I should. The overholser group ride last week was disgustingly hot (99F at 6pm), and it sucked. But the HH100 starts in the morning, so maybe I could handle it. We'll see.

Finally, some of my fav pics from the Warrior Dash:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

St. Patrick's day freeze-fest, training plans, and 30 day challenges

I finally ran my first race of the year-a St. Patrick's Day 5K on March 16. The weather conditions were less than ideal: the air temp was 37F, but felt like 21F thanks to the 30mph winds. Thankfully, I warmed up after about a mile, but I had a headwind while going uphill and then a tailwind while going downhill. I wasn't sure if I was going to launch off into flight or not! These are my results:

Chip time: 29:09 (pace=9:23)
Overall: 349/1224 (top 29%)
Females: 129/775 (top 17%)
F30-34: 36/161 (top 22%)

Not too shabby for my first race of the year.

I talked to some people about the HITs marathon, and they all told me to steer clear, for various reasons. So I've decided to hope that they hold Andy Payne (~Sept 14), and then I am going to do 24 the Hard Way (12hr road option) on Oct 25. I'm pretty excited about this plan! I don't know how it's going to work out with having school 4 nights a week in the fall, but I'll figure it out. I'm also doing the OKC Tour de Cure on June 21. I combined training plans for all 3 races to make a massive 31-week training plan that started last week. The first 3 weeks are "get back in the game" weeks, so I'm not pushing too much and just trying to get my body closer to some sort of shape. The laundry list of injuries/sore spots is still a little long. I've had some issues with pain in my butt, and I think it might be piriformis syndrome. It flares up if I even look at a hill, so for now I'm staying away from hills and speedwork, and making best friends with my foam roller and stretching a lot. I went to Denton, TX, last weekend for the DFW Fiber Fest, and I did a hilly 6 mile run on Saturday morning. It took 2 days for my butt to stop hurting lol. Anyway, this is what I think my race schedule is going to look like for this year. I haven't 100% decided to do the Friday night 5K series yet, but it's in the list for now.

April 19: Remember the Ten 10K
May 17: Warrior Dash
June 21: OKC Tour de Cure
June 27: HOT 5K
July 13: Du Draper Duathlon
July 18: HOTTER 5K
Aug 30: Choctaw Nation 5K?
Sept 6: Gravedigger
Sept 14: Andy Payne Marathon
Oct 5: SoS Half
Oct 19: Fall Classic Duathlon
Oct 25: 24 the Hard Way

In order to prep for the Warrior Dash, I'm doing 3 30-day challenges.
1: Plank Challenge (note: it starts with 20sec; I am doing 1min until it advances past that)
2: Push-up Challenge
3: Squat Challenge

So far, I'm 3 for 3.  Yesterday, I did 1/2 of the plank time and 1/2 of the push-ups in the evening in addition to the full amount in the morning. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep up doing both.

Next up, my Bia came! I'm going to wait until I've done a long run before I post about it. I used it for a very brief .1 mile run in my apt complex parking lot on Monday, and then a 12ish mile bike ride last night. Very excited!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There's good news and bad news

I'll start with the bad news first (because the good news is fantastic!). After 6 weeks of training for the 2014 OKC Memorial Marathon, I decided that I need to sit out this time. It was a hard decision to make, but I feel pretty good about it now. I've had recurring hip issues since mid-January, and none of my runs have been at the pace that they needed to be (10:16 or better). I am at an early enough point in my running career that I will not be happy with anything less than a PR in longer races. Maybe in a few years, after I've had more experience, I won't expect a PR every time (ex: I don't expect PRs in 5Ks now!). I don't want to spend $120 on a race fee just to be disappointed with my results. I think that sitting out is wise. I came to this conclusion after my last long run. I was supposed to do 15 miles, but only managed 10.55. I was slow, my hips and feet hurt, and I got winded way too easily. I've taken roughly a week off from running. Starting either later this week or perhaps next Monday, I will begin a maintenance plan so that I don't lose my running base. I really think that the 5 week break that I took after the RT66 marathon is part of the cause of my hip troubles. My hip flexors tightened up, to the point where it was hard to even walk. After a week off, things are much better. I'm giving it a few more days so I can be sure that things are in proper working order. I've been stretching and foam rolling a lot. So that's that.

Because I'm not doing the Memorial, my options for a fall marathon have opened up a little bit. There are 2 local possibilities: The Andy Payne Marathon around the 2nd week of September, or the HITS marathon on Oct 12. I had planned to do HITS because there wasn't enough time between the Memorial and starting to train for Andy Payne, and HITS starts and ends less than 5 mins away from my apt. I would just stick with the schedule as-is, except that I found 24 The Hard Way, on Oct 25. It's a 24 hour ultramarathon, with 12 and 6 hour options. Now, obviously, I can't do HITS if I want to do 24 the hard way. 2 weeks between them isn't enough time. Also, I know that I can't do 24 hours, but I'd like to think that 12 is possible. But maybe I should shoot for 6 on the first time? I really like the idea of doing Andy Payne in September, the SoS half in early October, and then 24 the hard way at the end of October. Andy Payne got some poor reviews last year, mostly because of a lack of water stops. Since I always do longer runs/races with a fuel belt, it likely wouldn't be a huge issue for me. But those issues are something to think about. They also haven't yet posted any details about this year's race, and I don't want to plan for a race that won't happen.

Now for the super great news: I bought a road bike!

I named her Luna (after HP's Luna Lovegood). She's a 44cm 2013 Specialized Dolce Elite Compact. I got a great deal on her because she's last year's model. I was looking at Trek Lexas and the lowest level Specialized Dolce, but this bike fell into the price range because of the discount. I am so excited! I've only gotten to ride her twice. I only have one pair of cycling shorts; I've ordered more clothes. I still need to get the hang of shifting, because I'm not really sure that I'm doing it right. I mean, I know how to shift, but I'm not sure that I'm in the correct gear. I need to make some cycling friends. I found a beginner ride put on by the Oklahoma Bicycling Society called the Donut ride. I think I want a couple more weekends on my own before I try to join them, but I definitely want to ride with them a few times. I am signed up for a Tour de Cure in OKC on June 21. (Please support me if you can!) My uncle is really into TdC in Tampa, and he's coming all the way out here to ride this one with me. Other than that, I think I'd like to try duathlons. I don't have time to add swimming in until after I graduate in 2016, so triathlons are out for now. I found a du in May called March in Okarche-it's a 5K run/30K bike/5K run. I think that I could do it, but after looking at a video of the race from 2012, I'm not so sure. Cyclists are a little intense lol. If that doesn't work out, there's also a du in July that I could try. I am so excited about Luna! :D

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 was a good year, running-wise

I meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot. Oh well. I'll keep this short and sweet.

In 2013, I:
  • Ran 1001.35 miles (compared to 423.06 in 2012)
  • Raced 11 times (vs 5 in 2012)
  • Set new PRs in every distance that I ran (5K, Half, Full, obstacle run)
  • Set a 53 min PR in my second marathon
  • bought 3 new pairs of running shoes
  • conquered shin splints
  • took a 5 week break after the 2nd marathon (hence the reason why I only ran 9 miles in December)
  • Ran 2 obstacle mud runs. I hated the first one (as did my bootcamp teammates), and loved the second one.
I have several things planned already for 2014. I'm going to run the Memorial Marathon again, but instead of repeating the RT66 marathon in Nov, I think I will run the HITS marathon on Oct 12 instead. It starts less than 3 mins away from my apartment, and the route actually passes it twice. I won't have to travel, and DH won't have to go far to cheer me on. My first race ever was a 10K in April 2012, and I haven't run another 10K since then. I want to lower the PR in that distance, so I'm planning to run the Remember the Ten 10K in Stillwater in April. I'm doing a Warrior Dash in May with my bootcamp friends, and I'm fairly sure that we'll do the Gravedigger again in September. I'm sure there will be a ton of 5Ks in the summer too.

Next thing to look forward to: my 2 year runniversary is Jan 20. Happy New Year!