Dalmacija Ultra Trail 53km: DNF

Dalmacija Ultra Trail: 53km Sea Dut

Omis, Croatia

I think everyone is a little broken.

Long distance running is a confrontation with yourself.

It can pull you out of the dark recesses of your mind.

You against you.

You can learn who you are when you are in a relentless forward pain.

Find your strength.

Find strength in the mountains, on the trails, in the dirt.

I earned my first DNF. I have been trying to figure out exactly why since it happened. I made it 45km before I had to have my family pick me up. I started to experience nausea around 15km. I quickly realized it was going to be much harder race than I had planned with this added challenge. I tried to change the course, knowing that it would most likely be a fruitless effort, by taking extra electrolytes, slowing my pace, taking in a little extra fluids. It didn’t relent, but only worsened as I continued to complete 45km, 8 km shy of finishing.

Each time I drank water or consumed food, it wouldn’t stay down, meaning I had no fuel in my body. It was awful. I have heard of this happening to runners, but I have mostly avoided this in my running life. It did happen once before but the race was only 25km and I was able to push through. This, well, this was a different beast. I pushed much farther than I should have, I know that. But, I am rather okay with myself that I was able to make it the distance I did instead of when I originally thought I would have to drop out at 20 something kilometer. I kept going, found strength, lost strength, and could not regain it again. When accepting that I wouldn’t finish, I broke down and cried, thinking I was failing in the face of adversity when in reality, there are some things that one can’t fight based on mental fortitude alone. I know many well-intentioned people expected me to feel like a failure, and I did at first, but looking back on it, I ran 45km on nearly no calories or water in the hot, hot sun. How the ef did I do that? I have no idea.

This is how I looked, which is to say pale and sick:

Like I mentioned earlier, I been spending the last few days trying to figure out exactly what went wrong, because I NEVER want to go through that again.

So, here are my thoughts:

  1. I failed to fuel properly. I have been working so much and not getting home until late, I did not have time to prepare the logistics of this properly. I didn’t walk through the steps, like I usually do, before a race. I ate in the morning, got on the bus for an hour and a half, and did not eat again until I had run my usual first 8 or so kilometers. Normally, I bring a banana and eat 20 minutes before the start. I didn’t have time to buy bananas and because I wasn’t in the right head space I didn’t have a back up plan, or maybe enough of a plan at all. At any rate, that ended up being a while between eating and may have thrown of my fueling from the get go. However, I am pretty resilient to things like this, so for my body that seems a little unlikely to have been the culprit. 
  2. I had a stomach bug. I had been horrendously sick the week prior and did not rest properly by any means. I did have moments of feeling sick prior to the race, but thought it was related to stress. After the race, the same level of nausea continued the next day and slowly improved until it was gone four days later. I don’t know if this runners’ stomach issue lasts that long, so it leads me to believe that either a virus or a bacterial issue is most likely the cause, meaning I don’t need to worry too much about it happening again. It would mean it was something I could not have controlled.

It was a beautiful course that went along the Dalmatian Coast—rocky with lots of elevation gain. At 45km I had completed 2,250 meters of elevation. I feel like I have the lay of the land now. So, while I am disappointed to not have gotten a medal that symbolizes finishing, I will try again next year, with my health in tact.

Happy running, stay rad, and be strong in whichever way you define strength.

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Training for a 53k

What have I done to train for my upcoming 53k race?

-I ran 70-80km a week.

-I did a 34.5km trail race with quite a bit of elevation gain recently.

-I tapered.

-I will carb load today. There are ample Bosnian bakeries around to accomplish this.

That’s about it. I am relying on years and years of running long distances to get me through.

Thoughts pre-race?

I truly never know how I will do until I am in a race. I have these vague ideas of how it might turn out, but really I don’t know what my pace or finish time will be. I am yet to take a DNF (knock on wood). Luckily for my family, the race is providing a live tracker so they know when to be at the finish line.

So, this is how I will kick off my fall break–spending time in one one of the prettiest places in the world. I will run the Dinaric Alps along the Dalmatian Coast, for hours, finding strength in mountains.

Then, I will spend the rest of my break lounging around on the pebbled beaches with my family.

And doing some recovery runs, of course.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Skakavac Trail Run

Life is louder than its pulse. -Anthony Marra

Skakavac 34.5km Trail Run

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Race Report

2017 vs. 2018

What went wrong last year:

My previous experience running Skakavac Trail  is in contrast to this year. Last year, there was a blizzard on the morning of race day in what was an unfamiliar country and terrain, along with my first experience with winter in seven years. I had just arrived from Thailand. To the mountains. In the snow. In Europe. No beaches or 100 degree weather, which is a different kind of combat. It was rough. The markings were either blown away or covered in snow, and again, I did not know these mountains well enough to navigate. My phone had 3% left when I called my husband to tell him I was lost. Search and rescue was getting ready to look for me when I found the next aid station myself. When the trail lost elevation, the snow had melted, leaving behind runoff that resulted in a muddy, slippery, steep mountain to get down.

It did make me feel a little better to hear that local Bosnians also got terribly lost–that it wasn’t just a confused foreigner in a strange land, but in fact the extreme, unexpected conditions.

I finished in 7.5 hours.

I don’t have any pictures of the actual snow storm portion, nor did I bother to take pictures while sliding down the muddy hillside, for obvious reasons. There were a few clear moments where I could stop to catch my breath and capture some of the beauty.

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How it went better this year:

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In the months since we first arrived, we have hiked many of the popular trails around Sarajevo. Geographically, I was able to figure out where I was nearly the entire race. They provided a GPX file this year, which made me feel better prepared. I carried a backup charger in case my phone battery died due to the cold. Luckily, the weather was not nearly as severe. They moved the race up two weeks to mitigate surprise snow storms. However, there had been snow in the mountains just a few days prior to the race, so really, the mountains are simply unpredictable here. The organizers made huge improvements with the markings by using wooden signs that were hammered into the ground, making the trail much easier to follow.

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Logistically, it was a bit more difficult this year. My husband left on an overnight trip with the secondary students, so I organized our babysitter to take care of the kids. Then, a friend drove me up the mountain to the start. While I ran the race, my husband returned from his trip, so he was able to meet me at the finish. I texted him selfies (see below) as the run progressed.

All’s well that ends well.

Progression of selfies

Trail life

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People have asked me how I felt after I finished or what was the best part. My son bombarding me with a hug and “MOOOOooom!!!” You did it!!!” was without a doubt, the best part. This is me seeing his face and incoming hug.

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I legit have an awesome family. Lady H used my broken body as a jungle gym while we waited around for the award ceremony, ate food, and drank much earned beers.

I was shattered and rebuilt in the 5 hours, 17 minutes it took me to finish.

Which is the reason why I run.

The only races that disappoint me are ones where I didn’t cross the finish line a little better than when I started.

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2nd place female finish!

Pretty nice prizes! A bottle of wine, a second place medal, a nice travel bag, and 100 km ($60 usd) to U.S. Polo Assn.

It is an unforgiving, brutal, and beautiful course. See you in 2019 Skakavac Trail.

Happy trails and stay rad, my friends!

Sarajevo Half Marathon

Sarajevo Sberbank Half Marathon

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Race Recap

I have been MIA on TaraRunsTheWorld for the last month. I have told people that inquired I am tired, or bored, or various other excuses because explaining the real reasons seem a bit too long-winded. Here is the space to explain the real reasons. The real reason for a blogging cut back? Time is a limited resource and I found it consuming far too much of it to take photos, write about it, and share it around. I also found it made me focus too much on myself, which in balance is important, but I didn’t like the way it was making me feel when I have many other people, hobbies, and outlets to put my limited energy. Last but not least, it made me like running less. I haven’t felt like that. Ever. I found documenting all my thoughts about running sucked some of the joy out of it for me. I can’t have that.

With all that in mind, I figured I could do it more sparingly and still find the good—so many people wrote me to say they had started running after reading some of my posts. That makes me super stoked. The reflection process has also been a positive side-effect to my running.

Sooo, I’m baaack.

You know, a little bit.

 

My son practicing his picture-taking skills before the race.

I have done a few races since I last blogged, the Sarajevo Half Marathon being one that I had had on the docket for quite some time. I did this one last year, meaning I knew to expect a few hills and higher temps due to a later start than one would consider normal for a half marathon.

It was exciting to see so many people from our little expat community with laced-up running kicks. There were quite a few parents and a couple of other teachers running the half marathon. There were also lots of students running the 4 km with their parents– my son, daughter, and husband included. For me, it is a fairly rare occurrence to be among like-minded runner types. It was nice to not have to explain what I was doing getting ready to run 21 km. They knew.

I have put some work into getting some personal records in the recent past, so for this race, I just ran for enjoyment. I did put effort into it, but I had no plans of anything beyond running and having fun at the event. Which I did.

Europe has some seriously good runners. Many were at this race. I watched them in awe fly by me in their sponsored racing kits. Speaking of awesome runners, this was the day in history that Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon’s world record at the Berlin Marathon at 2:01:39. Sort of made my half marathon time of 1:47 minutes feel pretty wimpy, but I know, I know, we only compete against ourselves. Even Kipchoge? 

Feeling strong at the finish.

There were thousands downtown Sarajevo–both to cheer on the runners and those that were participating in either the 4 km, the relay half marathon, or the half marathon. They closed down the streets, most of the town came out to watch and support the runners, and it was a really well-organized race going through the most beautiful parts of Sarajevo.

 

Lady H in her chariot while Little G and Mr. G rock the 4 km.

After, we laid around the park and drank our complimentary electrolyte beverages for a while until the kids got restless.

No race is complete without a beer…I mean, medal.

Then we moved on to the after party barbecue downtown at Kutcha . If you haven’t already, check it out. It has an artsy vibe, fantastic burgers, craft beer, green space to kick back, and good music. Lady H celebrated with her signature dance moves.

Dance it out, little one.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Run For Your Life 10k

Boise, Idaho

10k

Race Report

The same week as my race, my mother and mother-in-law had surprised me with a spa day so I could get a deep tissue massage to work out some of the knots that have been hanging around for too long. My massage lady nailed those knots, but it left me seriously wondering if I would be able to run again, much less race on Saturday. It seemed like she had brought back my plantar fasciitis full force and added a knee issue to boot that was nonexistent prior to the massage. I did some self-medicating, I went to the doctor, foam-rolled, iced, rested, and elevated. I had all but written off showing up to the race. I almost didn’t even get the race packet, but the runner in me wouldn’t cave. By Saturday, all of that pain was gone and I was in better shape than when I went in, so all’s well that ends well.

To add insult to injury, I spent the night before the race at a concert, carb-loading via red wine where I had one drink too many. I did not reap the benefits.

It was a good show though.

I did manage to make it to the race, where I had the usual and awesome support of my family. See below my pom-pomed son.

So, once I got myself there, I drank the coffee and ate the bananas they had set out for us. This was rough on the stomach, but ultimately I had consume calories and caffeine or I wouldn’t be racing.

After I got my bib, I looked around and realized it was going to be a pretty tiny race. Most people had signed up for the half marathon or the 5k. I had decided to do the 10k to try to get a specific time, which I knew between the injury prone week leading up to it and the wine carbs, I was going to fall short of my goal. I figured getting myself there and doing the race at this point was sufficient.

 

They did a countdown, and we were off. I pretty much stayed at a 5:10 (per kilometer) pace. I felt much better once I started running, but I certainly was not running at peak performance. There were two or three times I had to check to make sure I was on the right course, but it was pretty well marked. The greenbelt system in Boise just has a lot of path and the course did have quite places to turn around, so at times that made it a little confusing. I carried the map with me and worked it out. That didn’t help my time though.

I came across the finish line about 5-10 minutes behind what I had planned months ago, but that is okay. 10k is not my racing distance. I may look for another one to test out how or if I can improve, but I am still focused on the half and full marathons. I did manage to come in first woman overall, and second runner overall, but again, it was a small race.

I was impressed with the race organization. I knew it was going to be a bit of a mom and pop show, but they had a great swag bag, cool tech shirt, coffee and scones for pre-race goods. The race used timing chips, they had plenty of volunteers, music to start us off. The awards were also pretty sweet-better than most races, really.

Happy running!

Idaho Falls Marathon

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Sub-4 Hour Marathon

Race Recap

Let me try to make a short story long.

Being just far enough away from our home to not warrant turning around into our already long road trip to northern Idaho, I realized I had accidentally went all purist and forgot my headphones and armband at home. I ended up doing this marathon sans music. I always leave the music at home for trail runs, but road running is a different kind of beast so I was a little nervous–pushing myself and going all out just short of four hours without music. It worked out– I enjoyed being in my head without any annoyances, fumbling around with technology. I have two young kids and a husband. Quiet time is golden.

Road tripping to the in-laws and then on to my hometown in northern Idaho was a trip in more than one sense. We traveled around northern Idaho for the week prior to my marathon, seeing loads of people, stirring up old memories and making new ones. The kids took horse riding lessons from their grandma, we hiked around some beautiful places, and I got to see my 96-year-old grandmother. I even got to see some old university buddies. It was pretty awesome. Traveling before the race did lead to some challenges–not the greatest eating, falling a little behind on rest, and generally being slightly less prepared than I knew I could have been for the marathon. Let’s just call it a few days of carb-loading and a solid rest day on Friday–it took 8.5 hours to drive from my hometown to Idaho Falls.

Road tripping while listening to Johnny Cash.

Taper run in my hometown of Kendrick, Idaho

After an extensive amount of time spent in the car, it was good to arrive in Idaho Falls, pick up my packet and swag bag, and figure out a few important locations of the race.

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We got to see friends from our Kazakhstan days, too. They have a house in Idaho Falls, so we stayed with them, spending the evening catching up.

For the morning of the race, I set my alarm for 4 am.

I drank some coffee, grabbed a banana, and my husband took to me to the buses. This course required us to be bused out to Bone, Idaho for our start at 5:30 am. I sat next to this cool lady–this was her 48th state that she had run a marathon in. She was 60 years old. I want to be like her.

It ended up being a 15 minutes late start, but no one complained. We ran alongside windmills, a sunrise, fields of wheat, cows, and in some pretty comfortable temperatures. There were also lots of rolling hills. More than I expected. I had set my goal thinking those hills were smaller. For whatever reason, the last few years hills and I have struggled to find a symbiotic relationship. It is more of a parasitic relationship. That elevation gain in the beginning messed with me both physically and mentally. I had moments of doubting myself and my ability.

Thankfully for my goal time, the hills only lasted for around 11 or 12 miles. Then it was a steep downhill for about 5 miles (8 kilometers). This is where I made up some of my lost time. I regained my third place on the descent, which was a little touch-and-go, but ultimately I was able to hold that position.

After the downhill portion, it leveled out and remained flat for the rest of the race. As the course wound through residential areas, I started to feel like I was running a marathon, in the sense of feeling its difficulty. When there was roughly a quarter of the race left, I was up and down with my energy levels. I made sure to take at least two cups of water and a Gatorade at each station, about two miles apart. I had also brought along five energy gels and two electrolyte tablets, making me semi-nauseated for a majority of the race, but a necessary evil. Even with these precautions, I was feeling the push. 

I managed to miss one of the arrow stickers, ending up going down a wrong street for a quarter mile. A man more conscious of his surroundings than I at that moment, waved me back onto course. After this, the half marathon runners merged with the full, resulting in plenty of people to follow on the weaving course.

The whole time I was running, I was mentally calculating possible finishing times, readjusting for the times I felt depleted and for the times I was feeling strong. Somewhere in the last 3 miles I knew that if I ran just a little bit tired, I wouldn’t make a sub-4. If I dropped down to a comfortable pace, I wouldn’t make my goal. Testing my mental strength and ability is, in part, why I do this. I went with all I had.

I was really grateful to have my family and friends there at the finish. Mr. G ran with me at the end so he could get pictures of me finishing. Super sweet.

I was beyond stoked to get a 3:54:28 as my finishing time. I did have a better time in mind, but those hills. I need to find a completely flat marathon someday. Still. I was really happy. It was 9 minutes faster than my last PR.

I ended up being third female overall, second in my age category.

Idaho Falls Marathon was a well-organized race, with lots of support and volunteers. They had a fun theme–Christmas in July. This was a little bit of a selling point for me, if I am being honest.

After the race I waited around for the awards ceremony and had a recovery beer. A hazelnut brown ale. I failed to get a picture of this, but trust me. It was good.

Then we played tourist and went to check out the actual waterfalls of Idaho Falls.

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Road tripping back home with my new race medal in tow.

Happy running and stay rad!

Fit for Life Half Marathon

Race Report: Fit for Life Half Marathon

Boise, Idaho

The day before the race, I fatted out big time. I usually go for a hike or something on my rest days, but considering I had just done a half marathon on Wednesday and had another on Saturday, I figured my body could use a lazy day.

My son and husband went to the garage on a secret mission–to make me a sign for the race the following day. I was reading my book when my son came in, all smiles and told me had a surprise that he couldn’t wait to show me–I had to come see it right then.

Check out my super sweet poster. He worked really hard on it. I am keeping this forever.

On the morning of race day, I woke up before the alarm so I had plenty of time to drink my coffee and read. It was nice to not feel rushed; relax a bit before the race. Lady H and B both woke up on their own, which means they were in pretty good spirits.

I had managed to go grocery shopping the day before, buying the much needed pre-race banana this time ’round. I try not to make the same mistake twice…too many times in a row, anyway. I suited up, compression socks and all. Grabbed a couple gels. My headphones. I was good to go.

The race started at 7:30 a.m. at the Hawks Memorial Stadium in Garden City, Idaho. The day was expected to be pretty hot, so I was bracing myself for that. It was a good atmosphere, as it always is at this baseball themed Fit for Life race. This is the third time I have done it. Each time has been a great, well-organized event. People are friendly and encouraging for the most part. You get the occasional hot-shot that thinks it makes them faster to be a rude hoser. Otherwise, it was great.

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When the race started, I was got a little worried because the first few kilometers felt rough. I was going at a 4:30 per kilometer pace. It felt harder than it should have. This happens to me sometimes and I am yet to really figure out why. There seems to not be much rhyme or reason to it. Within a few kilometers though, I found my stride and felt fine. I ran hard. I was the third/fourth woman for a lot of it, leapfrogging with one other woman.

At the 10.5 km turn around point, I spotted these guys cheering me on.

That was some good motivation. I am always so proud to see my crew. I sort of look at the other runners, like “Yeah, they are mine.”

Mr. G even ran a few seconds with me to give me a boost. It was pretty sweet.

After the turn around point, I finally succeeded in over-taking the woman I was leapfrogging with, but two other women passed me, putting me in 5th, where I remained the rest of the race. I am truly only racing against myself, so that didn’t phase me. I just kept an eye on my pace. I thought maybe I could PR on this one, but during the last 7 kilometers, I knew I wasn’t going to. My muscles still hadn’t recovered from the half marathon I had done two days ago. I did end up getting nearly the exact same time as Wednesday’s race…improved by 6 seconds, putting the Fit for Life race as my second best time.

Just as the elongated shadows started to shorten, I found these guys waiting for me before the final shoot onto home plate.

My heart.

Race Challenges:

-It was warm today, but it ended up not being quite as toasty as I expected. If I had been out there for even 10 more minutes, I think it would have wore on me. I made it just in time to take shelter by the beer tent.

-In the last kilometer, I developed a side ache, which I just ran through.

-I could have used a bit more water. I survived.

-My calf cramped slightly. Meh. I’m okay.

-I got tired. 

After the finish, I stood around chatting with a couple of the women that finished before me–super nice people. One woman had also been at the Firecracker Frolic two days ago. The other woman that finished a few seconds in front of me seemed semi-famous among the Boise runners. Everyone knew her. Pretty cool to see so many tough women finishing strong. Everyone was really positive and supportive–the running community tends to be. Runners be cool.

I finished in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 44 seconds.

I had two of those beers. They were hella good. Hop Valley brewhaha.
Watching runners come in on the baseball field with my beer and medal.
I received the second medal for 2nd place female in my category (5th place overall woman).

One cool and unusual thing I saw today was a lot of younger people out there racing. A 10-year-old even did the half! The second overall male was a teenager, as was the 3rd, 4th, and possibly even 5th place. It makes my heart happy to see kids getting involved in running. Maybe it is the teacher/parent in me, but I clapped extra loud for those kids. It also has me scheming to get B into a 10 k race soon.

Where did you race this weekend?! Tell me about it in the comments.

Happy running and stay rad!