Monday, January 30, 2012

Mountain Mist 2012 Brief Update

New course PRs for Rick and me!

Rick: 5:28:52
Katie: 5:26:29
My number

Us after the race
More details to follow!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Time Goal

I like to do the whole A-B-C goal thing to prevent any major disappointment on race day.  I mean, the real goal is to finish the race, and there's no shame if that's the only goal you meet (take it from someone who's DNFed before).  But, in all honesty, beating your course PR (or distance PR) is like nothing else!  I don't know where my time will fall tomorrow.  I do hope to finish, and doing close to how well I did last year would be great.  But trail races are very weather and condition dependent, and the conditions for our race tomorrow are not ideal.  The mud and wet conditions will slow us down.

So, to give myself a frame of reference for my aid split times tomorrow, I will bring a copy of my aid station splits from 2011 with me.  This will help me know how I did in each segment of the race last year (when I got my course PR).  If I am going slower due to course conditions, no big deal.  But it the splits motivate me to run harder and faster, then that's great too.  I cleaned up the splits from this post to make them much more readable!  I also listed the splits from 2008 in parentheses for an interesting comparison.  That was a very hard year for me, with some splits being almost 30 minutes from my 2011 time.

2011 Time Splits (trying to "compete" against these tomorrow)

2011      2008
59:44  (1:05:45)
50:25  (1:00:54)
54:59  (1:12:31)
42:06   (52:31)
54:29   (1:09:08)
1:16:08   (1:43:01)

Below are a couple of good Mountain Mist 50K race reports that I found through google.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Advice from a Good Source

I hope you all enjoyed Rick's post yesterday.  I love him and his vision to "paint the streets."  He's talked some about writing this blog post in the past, and I'm glad he finally did it!  He's an engineer, so I can see why he likes to "analyze" his runs and to keep a record of where he's been.  After he posted his entry last night, I joked on him pretty hard that I should rename this blog to Katie and Rick's Blog About Mothering, Fathering, and Marathoning!!  Tomorrow and Friday he takes the kids early to preschool (one each day) for Dads and Donuts.  He's a great husband and a great dad too.

Rick at the Huntsville Half

I wanted to share some advice from our Huntsville, Alabama Fleet Feet owner, Dink Taylor.  He is a great runner and is also director of the Mountain Mist 50K that will be held this weekend.  I like his advice since it is time-tested by someone who runs a lot.  The first link is from our weekly email newsletter from Fleet Feet, and the second was an article from Running Journal (link was posted on facebook this week).

On the Run With Dink (advice about what to eat as a runner)

Here is an excerpt I really enjoyed reading:

"How about what we eat? Boy, we could get thousands of opinions here. Let’s face it; in today’s world it
is much harder to have the “perfect” diet more than ever. Here is deal, if you have the “perfect” diet you 
are probably spending too much time worrying about it and you need to simplify it and spend your time 
doing something more productive, like training harder! What do I mean by simplifying your diet? First of
all just make common since choices. I by no means have a perfect diet nor do I plan to but I will say that
I graduated from High School in 1984. My weight has been consistent within 5lbs since. I actually
weighed on this past Monday (my once per week weigh day) 3lbs less than when I graduated in 1984.
Based on this I feel like I might have a good idea of how to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. So 
what to eat? I do not limit my diet in any way or from anything.  Believe it. What I do try to do is make
good common sense choices." (emphasis added)

I wish more people would make "good common sense choices" like he says.  I am talking to myself here!  I have such a hard time knowing how much time to spend on food and food choices.  I could live at the grocery store and spend all day in the kitchen preparing meals, and I just don't.  Now that I have a family, I want to feed them healthy foods, but I do think that we need to remember everything in moderation.

On the Run: Shoe Advice from a Veteran Runner

Here is an excerpt I liked:

"I know which shoes work best for what workout and I do believe it has been one of the reasons I have been able to avoid injury. I rarely wear one shoe more than twice a week and I run every day. I never let myself get too dependent on any one shoe, the more you depend on one shoe or one brand, the more you are likely to run into problems. It is good to give your feet different feels each day, different types of support as you need to find a way to use all of the 200+ muscles in the foot. Repetitive use of the same muscles over and over can lead to injury. I hear folks all the time say something like, "I can only run in the Asics 2170." Sure it is a great shoe but let me tell you this. The 2170 is only around for one year, then it becomes the 2180, a different shoe. Maybe the changes are slight but if you go back 10 years in that same 2000 series, it is a totally different shoe. It was probably even designed by someone different. The guy that designed the 2100 might work for Saucony now. Running shoe designers move from one company to another, I see it all the time and they take their ideas on footwear with them. If you wonder about shoe rotations and what types you should be using, all you have to do is come in to Fleet Feet and we’ll figure out what will work best for you." (emphasis added)

This one was so interesting to me, to think that he rotates eight pairs of shoes at a time (this is in the article, not in the excerpt above)!  He thinks we should not become too dependent on one shoe.  I know I have been guilty of that in the past, but, actually, I never thought of it as a problem until reading this article!

Dink predicts this year's Mountain Mist will be slow and muddy.  I trust him on that too!  We are getting MORE rain tomorrow.  I have heard that the trails are pretty much going to be streams at some points.  And I've also heard that some vandals were moving the flags that several runners placed last Saturday.  That is utterly ridiculous and very immature!

I am hoping for one good post about Mountain Mist, but it may have to be after the race!  The week is going so fast that I've barely thought about the race.  THANK YOU to all of the well wishes on my last post.  I hope to have a good race report to share with you soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rick's Street Painting

Written by Rick Maehlmann (Katie's husband)

My intentions are for this to be a bit of a fun entry, but I’m probably admitting to being a geek more than anything with this post. I’ve had the idea for this post for some time, but now I’m finally pulling the trigger and making my thoughts reality. “Painting the streets” is an interesting concept for me. I didn’t even know I could do this with a Garmin watch until I was playing around with some software for our Garmin one day.

Before I get into how I “paint” streets, let me say a thing or two about GPS watches and how we ended up with one. Katie and I purchased a Garmin 405 a little less than two years ago. GPS watches aren’t cheap and the price alone probably would have prohibited us from purchasing one. A $50 Garmin rebate, and a $50 gift card to Fleet Feet made it a much more reasonable purchase. I’m the type of person who likes to know how far and fast I’ve gone. So, prior to purchasing a Garmin, I would often run the same routes with a known distance over and over and use a standard stopwatch in order to know my pace. But I also felt a bit confined because I like to explore. I really liked the fact that our Garmin opened up possibilities. After the purchase, I could run wherever I felt led and have a good idea about pace and distance.

Back to the idea about painting the streets. Like I mentioned, I was investigating the “Training Center” software for our Garmin and noticed an option to view the selected course in Google Earth. I noticed that, when I did, the course I had done was “painted” red on the map and I had an option to save that course. Viewing and saving several courses painted all of the paths I had run. The map slowly filled with more and more red “paint” as I saved each run. Looking at the map, I could see different connecting streets I hadn’t run and wanted to explore. So now I can run for a known distance and pace, explore, and the result is “painted” streets in Google Earth. Before runs I have started planning routes to explore a new area, street, or subdivision I haven’t run before. It helps keep the scenery new and interesting. Below are a few screen captures from Google earth.

Madison, AL

Greater Huntsville

Genome Way in Research Park

Read more of Rick's entries here, here, here, and here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Less Than One Week to Go...

With less than a week left to go before Mountain Mist, it is time to post about my strategies, time goal, and tapering.  I don't have posts ready on any of that!  I am feeling the usual mix of being unprepared.  The waves of self-doubt are washing over me.  But the fact that this is a really busy week for me is helping me to have less time to stress out!

All I can manage for now are a few bullet points.
  • The black toenail on my big right toe is REALLY black now!  I am hoping I will not feel it at all in Mountain Mist.
The toe as it looks now

  •  I LOVE my five year old son.  Here is his note to me one night at dinner.  Try reading it by sounding out the letters before seeing the caption for what it actually says. 

"You are wonderful, Mom."  Right back at you, kiddo!

  • Many of my friends have asked me, "So what exactly is an ultramarathon?"  I assumed that it was any distance over a marathon, so technically it could be a 26.3 mile race.  The 50K is the next common distance over the marathon distance, so, naturally, you hear about those a lot.  Then I started to wonder if I was right after all, so I looked up the definition of an ultramarathon, and I was right.  I liked reading about the two kinds of ultramarathons.  Read the link to find out more.

  • I both love and fear the "informational email" we get this week about the Mountain Mist 50K.  I wrote about it near the end of this post last year.  This year, the part about what's available at each aid station struck me as something pretty funny to newbies or non-ultra runners.  I think most people assume that you don't eat while you run or that you only drink fluids to replenish.  NOT true for ultra runners.  They eat anything and everything!  This is from the informational email from the race directors: "The aid stations are well stocked with pretzels, chips, candy, Gu, cookies, coke, mellow yellow, and more junk! You should have no problem running this race without a personal aid crew. There will be a variety of food at each aid station!"  I personally love the M&Ms and grab a handful at every aid station.  Good fuel!  
Wish me luck during the taper!  I hope to have a couple of entries about the race before the big day up here so check back!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Difference a Week Can Make

If you are discouraged about how your weekly long run went, take heart!  I find it fascinating that my long runs can vary so much week-by-week and also that the effort level can feel so different between runs too.  Take a look at my last two long runs below.

On Saturday, January 7, I hobbled through a painful 12-miler with my hurting big black toenail.  I didn't need 12 miles to know that it would be a hard run; I knew in the first mile that this run would be tough.  I grimaced and stopped often (while also stopping my Garmin, usually a big "no-no" for me).  It was NOT fun at all. On a level of 1-10 with 10 being the most painful, the toe was really only a 2 at the most, but it was just an ever-present annoyance that I could not get out of my head.  I struggled to get an 8:52 average pace.

I took a couple days off from running to do the elliptical machine on Thursday and Friday this week, and I guess it made me very eager to run.  On Saturday, January 14, I attempted another long run.  I ran 20 miles on a whim with an average pace of 8:01, my fastest 20-miler in a long while.  And it was done without any thought the night before about food, hydration, anything.  It may be that Mountain Mist is quickly approaching and the need to get one more quality run crept in, or it may be "all" of the trail running that I've been doing that makes road running seem easy!  I can't really figure it out, but it was nice to get a last 20-miler in at that pace before Mountain Mist. 

Thoughts on Mountain Mist With Two Weeks To Go
I'm pretty nervous about running Mountain Mist with only two trail runs as training, but it'll have to do.  I've done the Rocket City marathon and two 20-milers since then, so I have done enough distance (for me).  I don't think it's possible to try to shoot for another course PR for me with so little trail running this time around.  The big black toenail is actually a benefit now, since it cannot hurt during the run.  And not running many trails prevented me from twisting an ankle, like I did last year during training (also see here).  I guess I am playing the "pros and cons" for my training this year, trying to justify it and to feel confident about the upcoming race. 

January 14, 2012

January 7, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mountain Mist training runs

Don't prepare to be impressed, people.  I have only done 2 trail runs in preparation for my 7th Mountain Mist.  Both were the second half of the Mountain Mist course, a distance of about 15 miles each. 

The importance of the second half (Why not the first?)
I always smile a little when we decide to do the second half, since five years ago I was eleven weeks pregnant with my daughter and dropped out at the halfway spot on the course.  I never saw the second half of the course that year.  It's very fitting that I should get to run this second half many times since then!  Also in this section is the spot where Rick proposed to me eight years ago (at the top of McKay Hollow).  But it's not just for sentimental reasons that I like running the second half.  It also makes sense to use my time wisely.  I don't get many opportunities to train on the trails, and the second half is MUCH tougher than the first in terms of terrain and climbs.  It's better to get more experience on the second half while you feel good, so you will be mentally prepared for the challenge on race day when you are tired when you get to it. 
I was lucky enough to run with some great trail runners on Saturday, December 17--Rick (my husband), Eric C. (Fleet Feet team captain), DeWayne S. (previous MM winner), and James F. (fellow FF team member).  Needless to say, I was VERY out of my element with this group of men.  Little old me was still recovering from the marathon the weekend before.  No one else seemed phased by it at all (Eric had run a 3:10 and was still sailing in front of me the whole time!).  We all had a moment where we sat at the crest of Waterline (I would say the steepest climb of the race--you actually climb on all fours up a waterfall).  We just all sat down on this log and the steam was rising off of us as we recovered from the climb.  It was a pretty neat moment--and one I felt proud of myself for hanging in there long enough to experience!  I was complimented by the guys for my footwork on the big sharp rocks that lead up to Waterline and for my speed as we headed into McKay Hollow, though I quickly ran out of steam after that.  I told the group that I hadn't been on trails since the cancelled McKay Hollow the year before!  I didn't feel too rusty out there, just tired.

It was great having DeWayne along since I felt like I was getting secrets from a pro!  He also climbs Waterline on all fours instead of trying to balance on two legs (he calls it "four wheel drive!").  He also commented that the REAL race begins at Mile 18.  I plan to take that to heart on race day and to try to pace accordingly.  He told us about some really good road racer that just completely dropped out of Mountain Mist because he couldn't (or didn't want to) continue into those last few really tough miles.  I loved hanging with those guys that day and learned a lot from them. 

I ran with Rick on New Years' Eve morning, again on the second half.  He and I talked about how to pace yourself when you don't have a Garmin up there (I will only have my watch, and there aren't mile markers).  The obvious answer--and the one I will try--is to use the aid stations (about every 5-6 miles apart) as indicators.  I will write down my previous times (probably on my arm) and use that to gauge how I am doing.  More about race strategy later.

Unfortunate effects of trail running are LOTS of mud covering your lower half and BLACK TOENAILS.  I got a big black toenail from the trail run on New Year's Eve.  It hurts much worse than the little toenails when they turn black.  On Thursday of last week, I could almost not stand it anymore and was contemplating using a hot needle to pierce the nail to relieve the pressure or having Rick "drill" my nail (manually turn a drill bit into my nail).  You know it was bad if I was contemplating those two solutions!  Luckily, icing it and a good night of sleep helped me make it through the worst of it.  I am on the mend now and will be running in 9 1/2s now, not 9s!

Muddy legs!

New big black toenail


Some tough miles (Rick's times on the Garmin, but similar to mine).  Can you tell where the climbs were?