30 November 2012

Cajun Coyote 100 Miler 2012 Tomorrow...and I am a bundle of nerves!

So I ran 104.87 miles at Croatan 24 three weeks ago. I was feeling pretty good. Paced Wayne to almost a PR at Brooklyn Marathon, paced Mary in NYRR 60k, ran a decent 5k while talking the whole time. I ran slow on Saturday, feeling sluggish but managing 2.5 hours. After, Wayne and I had coffee with our running club, and ran back. I was baking cake and straightening up the house when suddenly - what the hell? My left hamstring (which has never hurt before, it was my right one that hurt) was suddenly aching. Ouch.

Sunday and Monday I started my runs slow and the pain eased by the end, but I still cut the mileage and took it easy. Tuesday it felt better after a mile so I started a tempo run at half-marathon pace with my running club - after a mile and a half something just HURT - and I turned around and ran slowly home, worried like crazy. I went to the physical therapist who pronounced it nothing bad. I still worried.

I haven't run since then. I've done some walking around New Orleans and my B&B in New Orleans had a hot tub, so I spent some time in it, reading, relaxing. It doesn't hurt at all...but I don't know what will happen tomorrow. For the first time (besides my first 100), I am actively worried I won't finish. I want to finish. I came all the way down here, it's the least I can do. I don't want to really hurt myself.

I made a promise. If I'm abnormally limping, I will stop.

Let's hope I am not. Let's hope I don't get eaten by armadillos in tomorrow's Cajun Coyote 100 Miler.

Missing the playa...

A beautiful video to make me wish I was dancing out in deep playa with my dusty love...

And how much do you love the idea of "Cargo Cult" as the theme? Yes!

22 November 2012

Happy Tofurkey Day! 5k Race Report and Reflections...

A week and a half ago I ran a 24 hour race (104.87 miles) - and in another week and a half, I'm running a 100 mile race. So today, I ran the Branford Rotary 5k today with Wayne - a lot of fun!

Ray had me doing a three plus miles before the race, plus strides, running the race, and a few more miles.

I ran out the first mile, 6:40 or so, feeling mostly good. I was cheering on the runners by me, feeling pretty happy. I slowed down a little in the next mile, 7:01. And the third mile I ran into Wayne, who was hurting, likely feeling the effects of running a marathon the other day, and I cheered him up and we finished together.

And then I went out to run the race course again - a bit slower this time, cheering on all of the runners, chatting with the time-keepers, having a blast...

And then I got in the car where Wayne was waiting and mentioned my desire for a hot cocoa. He agreed. We pulled out with the windows open, when I heard, "And second in age 30-39 age group..." And it was my name! I leapt out of the car, collected my trophy, and then, Wayne and I stopped for mint hot cocoa.

Good day...

But this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for having Wayne in my life, who is awesome, wonderful, and sweet. I'm thankful my running is going really well lately - even better than ever. I'm thankful I'm comfortable in life, have a great home with a wonderful partner and a great cat. (Oh, Luna, so much to be thankful for...) I'm thankful I have wonderful friends, a great family (esp an awesome sister and a super duper cute niece that is so fun).

Happy Thanksgiving!

18 November 2012

From the Other Side: Being a Pacer & Crew

I've had so many wonderful people help me in races - strangers, friends, family, loved ones. And this weekend was time to pay back!

Mary was running the NYRR 60k (fka Knickerbocker 60k). It's 9 loops + of the 4 mile loop of Central Park. Mary has paced me before (in 2011 at Bear Mountain 50 Miler) and it was a lot of fun to pace for one of my super energetic and cheerful ultrarunning friends. She was having a crummy day due to some stuff going on; I pointed out that personal probs seem better after running, but the personal probs don't make running better! Like when my Papa died, I dealt with it by running a lot - my running was crap but it helped me feel less like crap.

Erin was crewing her, and Sherry and Chantel and Kristen were also helping with pacing. I ran the last three loops, pushing Mary how I could, and then, at the end of the day, encouraged her to indulge in ice cream. Mmmmmm. It was really nice to help out a good friend.

Sunday Wayne once again ran the Brooklyn Marathon. Steve, the organizer of NYC Runs, puts on a great race. The medals had a cool design - and they blinked, runners got tech tees,, and post-race, bagels, cream cheese, apples, grapes, cheesecake. Nice! The course was 2 small loops and 6 big loops of Prospect Park. I started by volunteering with NBR and handing out water. It was fun to cheer for people and hand out water. I like giving back, esp since I know I depend SO MUCH on volunteers so much of the time - including in the middle of the night. At least runners have adrenalin and hallucinations to keep us going - volunteers staying up all night have love.

Wayne was having a rough race - he hasn't trained very hard lately, and had a long taper (due to NYC Marathon cancellation) and spent the day prior to the marathon moving stuff on stairs from the basement to the third floor of his old roommate's storage unit. Tiresome. So I ran with him and he was hurting. It was great to push someone I love. He asked me to sing him songs and we held hands and I kept telling him how awesome he was and he told me how he was going to eat a pint of ice cream when he was done. (And for the record, while he ate a lot of other things, he only ate a half a pint of ice cream. Though if we had a full pint, he might have eaten it...) I cheered incessantly and like Mary said the day before, he was running a "victory lap" (instead of his last lap). He pulled into the finish, strong and then proceeded to eat enormous amounts of food. That's my boy.

We hung out at the aid station and then I saw Caroline pulling in. She ran the Burning Man 50k, and so I caught up with her a little while I was volunteering earlier in the day when I ran up a few hills chatting with her. I ran next to her as she pulled into the finish, encouraging her, pushing her. She had a wonderful finishing pace.  I got everyone we passed to cheer for her and I was so glad when she told me she got a PR - and she said it was b/c I helped her. YAY!

I went back to the aid station to help volunteer, but soon saw Kaet and Erin. Erin was smiling and Kaet looked near tears. She was having a hard painful first marathon - but she was pushing forward. She grabbed my hand as we climbed a hill. Her grandmother had died just three days ago, and was running in honour of her grandmother. It was really beautiful how she pushed forward through the pain to a successful awesome finish. And then I met Erin's family.

It was weird to NOT be racing - esp since I feel quite recovered from last weekend's race and kinda wished I was racing both races. But you can't race all the time...and it's always really awesome to be there to push the ones you love forward.


12 November 2012

Croatan 24 Hour Race Report!

You can't always get what you want...especially in ultrarunning.

What I wanted: to run 120 miles or more (preferably more, a lot more!) in 24 hours. My real goal: qualify for the USA Women's 24 Hour Team. How amazing.
Post-race with my super neat award

I found about Croatan 24 Hour Race - a great-sounding 24 hour race that Ray K. was doing - and close enough to my little sister and her adorable baby that I love to visit. After emailing with the super nice RD Brandon several times and determining the course was indeed certified and should I run 120 miles +, it would qualify me for World Championships. Because it will be held in the Netherlands next year, and Wayne's never been, and because he loves me, he flew down to pace and crew me to try to help me qualify for the championships.

Unfortunately – I had a bad race. I still managed to squeak out a respectable 104.87 miles, and was the first woman – and second overall (5 miles from the winner!). Pretty decent considering I battled dizziness, nausea, deliriousness, and horrific hallucinations. If the federal government knew about the hallucinations in ultrarunning, they’d make the sport illegal.

The race was held on a 1.36975 mile loop that had lots of quick turns, but was mostly flat with some nice bridges and one small hill that could barely be called a hill, but come nighttime, I used it as my walk break. The course was pretty – lovely swamps, nice grass, great sunset, lots of birds, bird feeders, nice sunset and sunrise. A lovely place to run for 24 hours!

The RDs were WONDERFUL. Brandon told me at the start if I needed anything during the race, they'd try to help me however they could b/c they knew I was trying for that 120 miles. It was so well-organized and everyone was so friendly and it was so fun, I definitely would love to go back.

The start/finish/aid station was always full of lots of cheery people and a great assortment of food – including vegetarian food, which can often be a rarity. In fact, I had packed my own bouillon to make broth for myself, as vegetarian broth usually isn’t available. It was really nice to have vegetarian choices. They had all the usual ultra snacks, plus fruit punch which everyone’s hero Mike Morton loves, hot pizza, grits, waffles, burgers, grilled cheeses, and more. Really a wonderful spread and Heather, who was the aid station captain (and Brandon’s wife, I believe) was so absolutely friendly and wonderful I loved seeing her smiling face, even if I didn’t grab anything to eat. Plus they had orange Gatorade, which I actually like so I stopped by a bit so enjoy. Also, a bathroom was RIGHT off the course so you didn’t have to squat in the bush and hope a birdwatcher wasn’t coming by (which has happened at other ultras).

Being the birthday of the Marines, and Veteran’s Day being Monday, the race had a marine ceremony before. Especially interesting was how they sliced cake with their swords, cake they later served at the aid station. I was really nervous beforehand as I watched the ceremony. The first loop started with everyone running together with one colonel running with a flag – but the RD knew of my intentions to qualify for World Championships and told me if I wanted to run ahead on my own I could. He announced that I was doing that and everyone was SUPER nice to me, really encouraging me and offering their help in completing my goal. Not sure if it was a Southerner thing or an ultrarunner thing or just a nice person thing – I was really impressed.

I started out feeling okay. I pounded out a decent pace – as I tried to not get lost (using those informational signs about oak trees and inchworms and something with eternal in the title of the board) – but the course was well-marked with white signs with arrows and lots of glow sticks at night. (Woooohoo it’s like I’m at a rave!) My Garmin tells me I ran 8 and 9 minute miles for much of the beginning. My marathon was 4:20, not bad considering that was my marathon split in a 6 hour a few weeks ago. And tummy troubles led to a bit of a slow down but I still managed a 5:20 50k. Not bad.

My boyfriend was crewing me – his first time crewing me, but he had a lot of love. At times, I just stopped in his arms as he held me, “I know it’s hard, baby, keep going, I love you.” And that was something to push me forward into the land of loops of pain.

50 miles was sub 10 hours – so I wasn’t terribly off but I was landing in a whole giant sufferfest. I knew I couldn’t continue as fast as I had started. I felt so terribly dizzy – my hands were tingling at times – and just like I could not control. I think my caloric intake was low  - maybe I didn’t have enough endurolytes? Also I battled with nausea and a general feeling similar to a piece of crap.

As night fell, I knew Wayne was sleeping in my sister’s tent and some of the saner people were leaving the course for hot showers and nice warm comfy beds. I was running. I was tired and I began hallucinating and it got worse and worse. I asked Heather about animals and she said there were just bobcats and they only went after small children. Apparently she was joking but I spent the next few laps peering around with my headlamp to illuminate the night, terrified I would have to battle it out with a bobcat (who would probably have won, given my state).

Certain logs and trees began different items I hallucinated – they were giant flashlights or bombs or vibrators or tent bags. I can’t remember what else, but everything, every little log and drop in the bushes became something else. It was rather terrifying.

I was running alone when I ran into Ray K. He was peering over the water. I had been hallucinating horribly and it was nice to see a good friend.

“Cherie, the stars…they fell in the water.”

“Oh no,” I replied, not sure if he was hallucinating this or completely out of it. I barely knew my own name.

“Do you think we should go in and get them?”

“No, Ray. We might fall in and drown. We need a lifeguard to do that.”

“Okay, Cherie.”

I ran on as he peered over in the water. I later found out he was lucid but it would have made a very funny story if neither of us were.

I passed someone late in the night, who told me, “I’m so glad you are here. Last time I had to go up this hill, someone tapped me on my shoulder and I saw a ghost.” Hallucinations are scary. (Note, no one was there. He imagined he was tapped on his shoulder.)

I remember friends in college doing acid, how ridiculous they acted and how bizarre their stories were – this was similar. They never made me want to do acid (and I haven’t, so perhaps I should tell you them another time?) but hopefully I am not deterring you from your lifelong dream of becoming a ridiculous ultrarunner? It’s really cool! Honest!

Wayne woke up and approached the aid station as I was scarfing down a winning combination – grilled cheese sandwiches with fruit punch. I mumbled something incomprehensible and he waved and I ran off, stumbling back into the woods over the bridges.

Wayne joined me for some time, cheering me up. He tried pushing me but sometimes, he just couldn’t. At one point, it was in the late eighties or early nineties when I began crying. “I just want to go to sleep. I’m so tired. It hurts so bad. I keep hallucinating. I hate this. I’m delirious.” I wanted to collapse on the trail and refused to move until Wayne promised me I could sit down for five minutes and nap once we got back to the start/finish/aid station.

There, I saw down on the camping chairs my lovely sister had lent me and tried to sleep. And couldn’t. My body was seized up, in excruciating agony. I just wanted to cry. I was cramping up. I was cold. How did people like Ray nap during ultras? I don’t know if I could ever do a multi-day – how could I sleep?

I got up quicker than Wayne expected. “I’m cold. This sucks. I can’t sleep. I’m going.”

But I couldn’t exactly sprint off into the darkness. My legs had cramped. My groin muscles were hurting and I couldn’t stretch them right. All I knew was, everything sucked. It was worse than before. I will never sit in a race for that long again. Bad idea.

But you know what? You push past it and then it’s great. Eventually. You get a second wind, a third wind, a fourth wind. The stagnant painful parts in the middle, just try to push past them.

I’d run up and someone would chat with me. Paula, who was the second place woman, was SO friendly and would always chat with me or have a kind word whenever we saw each other. I’d chat with everyone – I ran with JJ, first place guy for a lap, and we chatted about running, Boulder, life. Ultras are a place where you might run for hours with someone, sharing your intimate life story – but of course neglecting to get their name.

The sun began to rise. I tried to push it. It hurt, yes, but in light, I tend to hallucinate less. The birds began to chirp. People crawled out of tents to do a little bit more running.

The last hour. I ran into Ray and we spent the last bit together, sharing stories of our night, talking like we always do, catching up. We finished together, and then slowed down the pace as we walked in from our “Sucker” lap. Before you go out on your last lap, they give you a “sucker” (or lollypop as I grew up calling them) with your number written on it. When you hear the quacking noise, you stop wherever you are, drop your sucker, and then they measure your distance.

1st woman, 2nd overall.

I changed and had no appetite. I was really excited to win a really neat bird sculpture. Second and third place won owl and duck houses. Everyone was hanging out, smiling, laughing. Race goodies were nice long-sleeved tech shirts and “redneck wine glasses” for everyone.
The "redneck wine glass" - aka a mason jar glued to a candlestick!

We got in the car and I slept for 15 minutes. Wayne got too tired to drive, so I got  in behind the wheel after running almost 105 miles and drove, listening to Martha Stewart on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. And then I proceeded to spend the rest of the day eating, hanging out with my sister and her super-cute baby, and eating.

I still want to get that 120+ mile 24 hour. That goal is still in my vision.

Now where should I go pursue that? I think I’ll eat some roasted banana ice cream and let my legs rest before I run that!

06 November 2012


  • For election results. DID YOU VOTE?
  • For Croatan 24 Hour Run. I'm trying to push myself beyond what is normal. Or even what I think I can do. I'm going for epic. I'm so scared. I'll have Ray K to sing me along, and my boyfriend to crew me and push me.

Random Event, Not Out of the Ordinary (But Happens So Often)

Random dude: Hey, sweetie.
Me: I'm not your sweetie.
Random dude: Why not?
Me: Because I have taste.

03 November 2012

Running on Empty

So they cancelled the marathon. All these people are so delighted because they didn't want anyone doing anything remotely happy - except, oh watching that basketball or football game (but people, those are what our society considers to be essentials). I understand a lot of the arguments, but a lot of what makes me angry is that people were circulating lies - like the cops were being taken off storm duty to do the marathon (not so - they're on overtime) or that the private generators were taken from people in Staten Island or that we were running through the worst neighborhoods (not so - if I'm correct, none of the neighborhoods that we are running through lost power or experienced extreme damage - not that other parts of the city didn't experience horrific damage). My own mother told me she wouldn't come and that kind of shut me off. I knew I wasn't an asshole for wanting to run - I did feel conflicted - but then there were the crazy parents in Park Slope demanding their children trick or trick b/c keeping them locked indoors for three days (OMG) was cruel & unusual punishment - and let's go protest the marathoners for running. WHAT? People are clearly insane.

One-third of the runners come from outside the United States...and they cancelled the marathon on Friday evening. My friend's mom came from London to watch her run (and now they are likely stranded in Greenpoint) and my friend's friend flew in from London to run. But no one is, because of bad feelings.

Don't get me wrong - I was VERY conflicted about running. But the cancelling of it - why and how it happened - and the blaming and the media circus - were wrong. It is not NYRR's fault that FEMA didn't get their act together to give out water.

My running club is planning on running to a volunteering point in Red Hook and helping out. I'll be there but I must admit, it's with a heavy heart. I had planned on PRing, running a fast marathon. I think if I had flown in from another country, I'd be like, "Screw volunteering." I'd be pissed at the city of NY. I'd be angry with the people, with how transit is messed up. And yeah, I'd be angry at my mom too.

But it's a bunch of things, it's controversial and all I know is, I'm drinking more champagne to forget at this wedding we are already late for. Four-hour lines for gas are not fun, but they are in Brooklyn.

01 November 2012

"The Perfect Storm"

I was annoyed at the usage of "The Perfect Storm." That made it sound like a good thing. But really, for a lot of people in my neighborhood, it seemed that.

We didn't  lose power, internet, water. Nothing of my boyfriend and mine was damaged - we were so lucky. Everyone had a few free days off of work - in fact, if you head out, you'll notice all the bars are packed mid-day.

My job was in full effect - we were working the entire time. Normally we can work at home, and once the electricity went down in our building downtown (thus, killing our servers), we switched to using gmail and skype to communicate and worked offline. It kind of worked, a lot better than most would think. It was incredibly difficult to concentrate - esp as the wind was whipping around outside, as we listened to NPR and heard the horrifying stories of what had happened. I could barely concentrate.

My aunt and uncle lost their beautiful house, right on the water. They figured water would come in, so they stacked stuff up on high - not realizing the power of the water that nothing was safe, even things up high. The water came in, flooding, knocking down walls, taking away the floor boards, windows. My aunt lost irreplaceable things, jewelry, so much. It was so sad. Their house is destroyed and will probably be condemned.

Lower Manhattan still doesn't have power. The Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel are both still closed, with water inside. Many of the subway lines aren't open. Cell phones are bad for everyone. Some people can't drink their water. It is horrible.

And it gets worse, trees fell on people, killing them. 100 houses in Breezy Point, burnt to the ground. So much devastation...

An acquaintance posted on Facebook that Hurricane Sandy was "boring." They didn't lose power or internet or get flooded. What, you think devastation is exciting? Obnoxious.

The NYC Marathon is still happening this weekend. To be honest, I feel conflicted. I am excited to run - but there is so much devastation and sadness, it's hard to send your mind there and be as excited about it - esp when my aunt and uncle lost their home. They came and watched me run the marathon a few years ago, and Aunt Patti is definitely my favourite aunt (and always has been).

What can you do? What can you say to someone who just lost almost everything physically they have? She barely got out - waded in out in waist-high water. I'm so glad she has her life...but in a way, it seems weird to think, "Yay, I'm running a marathon."

So I'll celebrate. I'll think of her while I run and dedicate my run to her. I've dedicated runs to people in physical pain before (my grandfather, my grandmother) but this time, I'll dedicate what I do for her.

I better run a 3:14 now, ha!