Monday, April 7, 2014

Seamus O'Possum 30k Trail Footrace Recap

Sole Sisters!
Photo credit to Ran Cidgoat (Doug). 
From start to finish, this was another top-notch race. Race packet pick-up was Friday night or Saturday before the race. I had volunteered to help at the packet pick-up Friday night and then when the location was changed to Staas Brewing Company, well, that just made it perfect! We sat around enjoying a Stass brew and chatting with everyone that came in to pick-up their stuff. The trail/ultra running community is simply the kindest, most humble and friendly group of people you may ever meet. I enjoyed making more friends before the race.

This is the most under-trained I have ever been for a race, so I knew going into Saturday there would be more walking than I typically would do during a 30k. I had corresponded with Mark (one of the awesome race directors) a few times prior to the race mentioning that I wasn't sure I was up for the race this year based on everything else going on in my life. He convinced me to try it and I'm glad I listened. Also, Katie wouldn't hear of me not going, she said "I'll be by your side. We have all day and I have nowhere else to be."

No expectations for this race combined with the tasty beer from Staas and I had my best pre-race night sleep I think I've ever had. Hmmm... I may be onto something here.

Race morning came and the temperature was warmer than I had originally thought so I changed my mind about clothing (again) and headed up to Delaware State Park, home of the Possum Races. Parking was easy as usual and we were able to sit in our warm cars until we heard Mark yelling for everyone to start making their way to the starting "area". We received our race instructions, were told to
Photo taken by Chad Heald, used with permission of Possum Races
Taken from the starting area.
come back with stories to share at Stass for the post-race party, then Mark said "ok, go!"Across the grass and up the hill to the Levee wall, we were able to see a gorgeous sunrise while we started our journey.
Both levee photos taken by Chad Heald, used with permission of Possum Races.

We ran, we chatted, we slogged through the mud. We LAUGHED! I don't think I have laughed so much or so hard in a long time. We had so much fun during this race. 
Me, Katie and Angie coming into the first Aid Station
Photo taken by Chad Heald used with permission of Possum Races
The mud was ridiculous at some points. Several times we almost lost shoes due to the strong mud sucking going on. We laughed some more. It must have been between miles 7.5 and 11.5 (an out and back section) that we passed a guy and he said "I heard you guys coming. You're having so much fun. THAT's the way to do it". We couldn't agree more! 

Running/walking/slogging more, we chatted about life, kids, running, goals, summer vacation. We talked about the grown-up stuff in life that no one likes to discuss but is part of problems, sick family members, issues in child rearing. 
Our selfie at the turn-around/book point.

Somewhere around the 10-11 mile point, I stepped wrong in the deep mud and felt something pop in the upper thigh/glute area. Ouch. Well, I wasn't stopping now. I found out what the finisher award was and I knew I wanted one. Plus, I knew even if I had to walk the whole thing, I would cross that finish line. We ran some, we walked when my leg didn't want to cooperate. We tried to get through the mud. 

You know you have a good friend, when heading up the last couple hills on a bum leg, you feel a hand on your back. I told Angie "I'm fine". Her response, "I know, I just want to be sure you don't hurt anything else". See? Good friend! 

Due to the mud and my "sore arse", it took us a lot longer than we had even anticipated, but we beat the race cut-off. We finally headed down the hill from the levee to the finish line. And what do we hear but our dear friend, Andrea, cheering for us. Instead of heading to Staas, she waited in the cold wind for us to finish. 

I think at this point I actually said "FINALLY!"
Photo property of Possum Races.
At this point, we were covered in mud most of the way up our calves, shoes were caked in mud. Time to change and head to Staas!

Staas Brewing even made a Seamus O'Possum Irish Red Ale in honor of the event!
We walked into Staas and smelled food! Post race food consisted of soups, chili, homemade breads and muffins. Thank you to the wonderful volunteers that fed us hungry runners! Thank you Staas for the fantastic Possum Ale. Being able to eat, drink, talk, laugh, trade stories with fellow runners and friends was the perfect way to end the day. The trail running community, the ultra running community and most of all, Team Possum has reminded me of how much I enjoy running and especially trail running.

Go out, have a great time and tell stories about it afterward. Oh, and run a bunch of miles in there, too.
Enjoying my Possum Ale in my new Team Possum sweatshirt.
Thanks, Angie, for taking the picture!

Team Possum, you all are awesome! Thank you for allowing me to be a member of this amazing community, for all the new friends and time spent with "old" friends. I'm looking forward to many, many more miles with you all.

***Special thanks to Mark, Chad and all the volunteers that made this race such a fantastic experience.

***Special thanks to Katie and Angie for sticking by me. For your company, your friendship and your listening ear, always.

***Extra Special thanks to my husband, Jeff, for holding down the fort at home while I'm on long training runs and race day. I appreciate you every day!

Enjoy life my friends, one mile at a time!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A class you need to try!

As so many little girls do, I dreamed of being a ballerina. Maybe not all the time as I was in tumbling classes and had Mary Lou Retton as my idol, but I still loved the Pointe shoes on the girls coming into ballet after my tumbling class.

Most of you know, I've been obsessed with running for the past four years. I would choose running above and beyond any other type of exercise. Sure, I would add in core work, I would (sometimes) add in strength training. February of 2013 , I added Yoga to my life and I still love it.

After we joined our local YMCA, I was looking at the free exercise class schedule and noticed a Cardio Barre class. I had been reading about Barre classes and was intrigued. But, being afraid of trying new things (I know, I know, I need to get over this), I was hesitant to try it. Then, I noticed my neighbor is the instructor. Ok, I thought, no excuses now.

This Cardio Barre class is a combination of ballet moves, dance, yoga and pilates. It incorporates all of these along with weight training and muscle stretching for an all over workout.

First class, I show up with my yoga mat (benefits of knowing the instructor!) and no clue what we're in for. Since the Y doesn't have a barre yet, the room is filled with chairs and she tells us to get out some light weights (stressing light as it will be heavy on repetitions). The class starts with a choreographed warm-up. "Uh oh" was my first thought. I haven't done choreographed dance in..well, lets just say it's been a few years. Feeling like my ungraceful self, I do my best. One song for the warm-up; ok, I can handle this....

As a distance runner, my legs are in good shape. They are strong. Or so I thought.... My runners legs are strong in some muscles. What I found in Barre class were all the muscles that I conveniently forgot that I had. I was a little freaked out in the first class when my legs started shaking. Until I realized that EVERYONE'S legs were shaking. And frankly, several months later, they STILL shake. But, I notice that my heels are higher off the floor, my grande plies are lower, my legs are stronger than ever.

We have ballet/leg strength moves, weights,  and usually finish with core intensive moves. We moan. We groan. We backtalk our instructor. BUT, we show up week after week. We do just "FOUR MORE". <--THAT, I love when she tells us "four more" because it means we're almost done with that particular set.

In case you're interested, here is an example of some of what we do...try it!
Borrowed from 5 Tree Fitness

Cardio Barre is a fast paced, constantly changing, difficult and fun class. I'm really loving the classroom atmosphere where I have made some new friends that I look forward to seeing every week. Where running can often be a solitary sport, this is definitely not. I love the new strength that I am finding in my legs. And while I will never be a professional (or anywhere close to one) dancer, I am enjoying learning something that I always wanted to do.

Have you ever tried a Barre class? Do you like group fitness classes? What's your favorite way to exercise?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Running and Life

A running journey is personal. I can take many things that I learn in my running journey and apply it to life and vice versa.

One thing that running has taught me is that everyone is on their own journey. They may share what that journey is with you, or they may not. One runner may be out there chasing their best times, their longest distances, one runner may be out simply to shed the pounds, another runner may be outrunning demons. A runner may be faster than you. A runner may be slower than you. One runner might want to run solo all the time while another only runs in a group. One runner may run every race they can find and another never enters a race.

Just as life evolves and we change perspectives and focus, a running journey often evolves. Look at mine....

Four years ago, my journey was all about losing weight. Then it was training to run my longest distances and fastest times. I ran races all the time. Now, it's more about life. At this current stage in my running journey, running adds to my life, but running is not my life.  Some days only the promise of a group run will get me out the door while other days it is the solitude I crave. It works for me. It may not work for you...for you, you may be chasing the fastest times, you may be chasing your longest distances. And that is OK! It's YOUR journey just like this is mine.

Enjoy life my friends, One Mile at a Time.

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