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!

Weekly Running Log Rundown

Sunday: I absolutely love running out here at Vrelo Bosna. It is beautiful no matter the season. Today it was foggy and damp, making it look like the fall in August. There are always lots of runners making their way on the paths. It is a bit of a drive so we make a morning out of it. The kids run and bike while I get my run in, then we have coffee, pizza, and pasta post run for a family brunch.

Monday: I am back to making Monday my day off. I know most people say if you miss Monday, your running week is shot, but it works for me. With it being the first day of the school work week, I always like to sleep in a little after getting that luxury over the weekend.

Tuesday: Two runs today. My normal morning run and the first practice for the cross country team. They did awesome! 4.5km. We even did hills and they rocked it.

Wednesday: Early at it this morning. I am still getting used to this. It always wakes me up to get my morning run done though.

Thursday: I am sort of failing on the photo front, but it was a beautiful, foggy morning. Fall is starting. Effort wise–I think I need to start doing some speed work to get ready for a few races coming up.

Friday: I was getting a little bored of my usual running spots, so I went around some new streets today. Hopefully this weekend I can get work on my pace. I have five races coming up soon!

Saturday: Croatia consistently impressed me. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have seen. Old ruins, mountains that bump up against the Mediterranean Sea, and trails for days. That last 1.5 km up to our place offered plenty of challenge for my hill work I have been needing.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Departures and Arrivals: Another Year Abroad

Most people consider January 1st the New Year, but teachers think in academic years. The first day of school is our first day of the year. The two month summer is a sort of reprieve from time itself. As we head into another year, we get ready for it in expat fashion. Two fifty pound bags per family member, car seats, baby backpack carriers, and lists of all kinds all over the place. Lists of American items not to forget, lists of teaching beginning-of-year ideas, lists of logistics.

In preparation and throughout the year, I think about what the family needs for the following year, ordering enough on Amazon to warrant buying some of their stock shares. As a result, as soon as I get “home” I start packing. First order of business, books. It is hard to get good English books abroad, so I order them as I learn of books that I need. I end up with a surplus no doubt, but the book lover in me anticipates coming home to a giant stack of beautiful books. Next and with slightly less excitement, I pack over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, seasonal clothes, makeups, lotions, health foods, three pairs of running shoes, birthday and Christmas gifts. All of this adds up pretty quickly in weight. I have been nearly packed for our departure since we arrived. 

This will be our 11th year teaching overseas, 12th year teaching. No matter the year, I still sit on a mixture of nervous and excited. It is a similar feeling I have before a race. It is because I care so much about the outcome.

Living overseas has taught me to be more flexible and open-minded. One must roll with the punches, choose your stresses, and be open to learning from another culture. I have intentionally and unintentionally adopted parts of every country I have lived in and even some from places I have visited. There is this sort of internal filter that keeps the things I respect about my culture and replace other parts with philosophy’s from another. I changed a lot after Thailand. There was plenty to learn in the land of smiles–mi pen lai, ka (no problem, a favorite and deeply ingrained saying in Thailand). I see this happening rather seamlessly with my children, too. Personally, it has made me a better teacher, parent, person. I don’t have plans of stopping working in foreign lands any time soon. I am looking forward to another year stretching myself outside of my comfort zone.

Before children, my husband and I lived in New Zealand and Kazakhstan. We moved to Thailand and there started our family. Last year, when we moved to Bosnian and Herzegovina, it was the first time we had moved as a family. New job, new country, new caregiver for my daughter, new teachers for my son, new house. As you would imagine, it was stressful. I am looking forward to having some familiarity going back to Sarajevo this year. However, we do this for newness and there is still plenty that will feel novel and exciting to the human experience. I have my list of places to explore in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those lists. They are everywhere. 

So, we are on our final goodbyes. We used to do them as one big hurrah, but now we like to make it more personal, saying goodbye one by one. We have said goodbye to some good friends that have a son the same age as ours. We have said good by to my in-laws. We have said goodbye to my aunt, uncle, cousins. We have seen fellow international teachers that do the same thing we do, most likely seeing them abroad this coming year, so it is a quasi-goodbye. We are getting ready to go camping this weekend with my dad, his wife, and my sister and her family. That will be goodbye until next year. I can feel it, the wheels will be picking up soon for another year abroad. 

airbus-aircraft-airplane-587063 (1)

Happy travels 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!

Weekly Running Log Rundown

I was feeling pretty dead this week. So, I listened to my body and went slower.

Sunday: My legs were hella tired today. Two half marathons in one week, both sub 1:45 half’s, had my legs asking for a recovery run–slow n’ easy.

Monday: Shortie run. Had to get out of town and needed to hit the road early. Running can be time consuming. Good fun nonetheless.

Tuesday: Went for a beautiful trail run. I stopped and talked to quite a few day hikers and backpackers. After talking with them decided to take the family to Alpine Lake later that day. Ended up doing over 24 kilometers (I started my Garmin late on the hike). Wonderful day but certainly earned some beers by the end.

Wednesday: After 24 kilometers yesterday, I decided to take a day off this week.

Thursday: Feeling a bit sluggish but got out there and feel better for it.

Finally got around to listening to Ear Hustle. A very well done podcast that will be making the routine circulation in my audio experiences.

Friday: Felt pretty wiped out this week. Not running at peak performance but also feel okay with that. Sometimes your body just needs to take it easier.

Saturday: I decided to go to the trails today. The Oregon Trail. It was hot and dusty. Still feel like taking it slow, so am listening to my body.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

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!