Friday, May 7, 2021

Oy! Getting Older (Thank Goodness!!)

 So, I am 12 weeks away from the Badger 100 and training is going well so far.  A few tight spots, but nothing too surprising.  One thing I was beginning to notice, even before training started was just how fatigued I was.  Fatigued as in, can't peel my face off of the pillow, feeling like I will fall asleep driving home from work, fatigued.

I keep pretty busy, but that was an unusual level of fatigue.  I still get out and get my runs done, but they are slower than usual and I don't feel like I am fully recovering.  Then, it hit me.  I am getting older - lol.  I turned 50 last November, and while I haven't had any real signs of menopause, outside of one freak hot flash, there is a real good chance that my tiredness may be hormone related.

I contacted by doc and she referred me to a compounding pharmacy to do a saliva test to check hormone levels, which I did last Saturday.  It takes about 10 days to get the results in, and if your hormones are out of whack, they will mix something specifically for your needs.  I'm not going to lie - I hope they find some type of hormone imbalance so I can get going on treatment.  I am still getting everything done, but it is way harder than it needs to be.

Also - big news on the coaching front that I will address in my next post. I am excited about my new partnership, and confident that it is the right decision to help me reach all of my goals this year! 

Current mileage - 35 - 40 miles per week (this week is a down week with 35), with one day of spadework and two workout days.

Happy Running!  


Tuesday, April 20, 2021


 Boy was I right about jumping into a training plan being like starting a cold engine.  But, the good news is that with a little persistence, things are beginning to fall into place. I had a tempo run this morning and wasn't terribly disappointed with my paces.  I have a love / hate relationship with speed work.  I enjoy doing it because it changes things up and makes the run go by faster - my 6.5 miles this morning was over before I knew it.  It is also the best way to track your improvements, or see where you might be overtraining.  The reason that I dislike speed work is because it is speed work.  It is hard and not fun when you are in the middle of an interval, but it always makes me feel good about the run after. There are opposite opinions on whether there is value in speed work for 100 milers, for your average runner at least. This will be the first time that I consciously add it to my training plan, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I am optimistic about it though. 

Why #dammitjeremy?  Well, basically, that is me blaming my friend, Jeremy Howard, for giving me the nudge to follow my own misguided urge to sign up for the Arkansas Traveller 100 miler that happens just 9 weeks after the Badger 100.  This will be the closest I have ever run two 100 milers, so it will be an interesting test for me and for my coach (Stringbean).  

Badger 100 is a mostly flat, rail to trail course while AT100 has about 19,000 feet of gain over the 100 miles.  My goal for Badger is to be in shape to run as much and as quickly as possible.  My goal for AT100 will be determined after I see how well I recover after Badger.  I think stacking these two races is a realistic goal, but I may have a skewed idea of what is realistic?

The good news is that I will not fail due to lack of support.  I have the famous Fawn Hernandez pacing me for Badger (she has always been famous, just now more people know it), and Roger Rholdon - the winner of the 135 mile Voodoo Ultra pacing me for AT100.  Both high quality people and tough runners who will motivate me to keep my complaints to myself and keep moving forward.  

Really looking forward to these adventures! 

Current mileage:  about 40 miles a week and climbing

Current phase of training:  Tempo and hill workouts. This training block will be about building your high end endurance fitness and ultimately fatigued resistance. Build mileage into the 50's. Incorporate higher weight strength training to build muscular strength

Happy Running! 


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Warming up a cold engine

 A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.  A 50 year old body that was mostly stagnate for a couple of months prior to starting a new training plan will resist any effort towards motion.  I can't say this surprises me, but man I wish it wasn't so.  

I knew that the first few weeks of training would be like starting an old car engine on a cold morning.  I was right, but as much as my muscles are protesting, I have to say that it feels really good knowing that if I stay faithful to the training before me, all of the protesting parts will fall into line and become stronger.

One week and 6 workouts in.  Thanks to the strength workouts for reminding me of muscles that I had forgotten about, and to the running to remind me that even with heavy, sore legs, I can call on past experience to push through.

20 miles and change down this week.  Ready for warmer temps - yep, I am a hot weather runner.  I like the heat - remind me of this when mid June rolls around, please.  

In the meantime, I am excited to start using my new COROS watch next week - great price and impressive battery life that should get me through my 100, as well as testing out a new liquid nutrition - Skratch. I have been using EFuel and EGels for a while with great results, but the EFuel gets too sweet after a while and I tend to stop drinking when I still need hydration.  I'll post updates on the gear as well. 

Have a great week and happy running! 


Monday, March 1, 2021

Older and wiser?

 It is hard for me to feel excited about doing something that I have already done, and done fairly well.  Like running 100 miles.  I am satisfied with what I have achieved in ultra running, so after 12 years of being very involved in the sport, it is hard for me to find a challenge that is enticing enough to cause me to commit to 5 - 6 months of rigorous training.   Until now.  See... I have run 100 miles a few times (even 130 miles once), but I have never done it as a 50 year old.  

Some insight into my decision ... I stink at guessing people's age.  When I meet someone and somehow their age is mentioned, I have one of two thoughts - "Wow!  They are holding up great!", or the more common - "Wow - I hope I don't seem as old as they do".  It's not just looks that age people - it's attitude, habits, fitness, health... so many things play into how old a person appears, that the external part of it is really minor in consideration.

I regularly hear people my age complain about aches and pains, and how things are getting harder to do (ALREADY!).   It kinda freaks me out.  I don't understand why some people (legit genetic health issues aside) are so willing to allow themselves to deteriorate.  It's like their odometer gets to 6 digits and they just figure it is time to sit back and watch the wheels fall off.  Crazy stuff.

So, I hired a fantastic ultra distance athlete (almost half my age)  to coach me for the Badger 100 on July 31st in Wisconsin.  Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy has done some cool stuff, but more importantly, he has a great personality, and clearly he doesn't shy away from a challenge.  

Tomorrow starts my official training program, and for those of you interested, I am hoping to chronicle it here with a short post every week or so to track my training, and highlight the new challenges that I might face now that I have a few extra miles and years on me.  

This is more of a training diary for me, but I am happy to share it with you guys.  Maybe someone will read it and think, "Well, if she can do it..." 

Until next time

Happy Running! 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Changing Motivations....

I have been chewing on things lately.  Life things.  And, considering what a big part of my life that trail/ultra running is, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the role it has in my life and how that has evolved as I have gotten older.  See, when I ran my very first ultra, I was 39 years old and heading towards divorce.  I know for a fact that one of the things that attracted me to ultra running was the long hours alone in the woods that allowed me the time to work through my changing place in life. 

Now, 9 years later, I am still a fan of ultras - 100 miles being my personal favorite distance, but things have changed.  I think when I started, I was running away from something.  I used all of those early miles alone to suffer, contemplate, celebrate.... and grow into the person I was meant to be.  It took a while. Crossing the finish line at my first 50 miler didn't lead to enlightenment, but every time I pushed in distance and time, a little piece of the puzzle was added.  Now, at 48 years old, most of the pieces are in place, and I have trail and ultra running to thank for a large part of that.

So, I am going for my 6th belt buckle at Screaming Monkey 100 miler in April.  The main difference?  I fully expect this experience to be FUN!! I am honestly looking forward to reaching the point where my brain is trying to convince my body that it is time to call it a day and go for pizza.  I have noticed a mental change lately on long runs when I get to that point.  In the past, there would be mental negotiation:  "Just run to that tree", "3 minutes then I can walk".  Now, something interesting is happening.  As soon as my brain starts its usual tricks and tries to get me to shut it down, that thought is squashed.  I am not doing it purposefully, it just happens.  So, when my brain says that I need to walk, something else swipes that thought away before it can take hold. 

The only thing that I can credit it to is experience, and the understanding that sometimes, your thoughts lie to you.  I am starting to understand why ultras, especially 100 milers are predominately the domain of those in their 40's and up.  I guess it takes getting kicked in the teeth a few times to build up  the skills you need to persevere late in an ultra. 

I may not PR my 100 miler (although I will try), but I am excited for the challenges it will bring, and I am curious as to how I will overcome them, or what I will learn from them. 

Maybe perspective is really what I have learned.  This aging thing is pretty cool, y'all.  Grateful that I get to experience it.

Find your 100 miler...whether it is a night spent camping all alone in the woods, or taking that acting class... do something that scares you, then do it again until it is no longer scary.  That is where you grow.   Worked for me.

That being said, I did just PR my 50k distance by almost an hour and a half, so who knows?  :-) 

Happy Running, Y'all!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Taper week from the RD's perspective

As race day approaches and many runners are beginning to pack their race supplies, unpack, check that they have everything, then repack them only to repeat the process over the next day, things are also heating up on the planning side.  Our week is spent shopping for aid station supplies, collecting the generators and fuel, charging batteries, stuffing race packets...  Both the runners and the race officials have an endurance event ahead of them, and the finish line is equally as sweet from both sides.  

The volunteers who have taken time off of work to drive hours to spend the weekend out in the cold (and possibly wet) weather are dealing with pre race jitters just as if they were lining up to run the event.  Each of our Red Dirt volunteers is personally invested in aiding the runners in any way possible to ensure their success. You crossing the finish line is confirmation that they did their job.  They helped to keep you moving so you could achieve something amazing, and by doing so, you are paying them back many times over.  

When you go through the aid stations at Red Dirt Ultra this weekend, take a minute to look at the incredible people who are giving up their time and comfort because they love nothing more than to watch you succeed.  No matter how long it takes for you to finish, just finishing is a win in their eyes.

Our sport is special, like the people on both sides of the aid station table.  Remember how lucky you are to be out on a beautiful trail doing what you love this weekend.  See you guys Saturday.

Happy Running! 


Friday, December 8, 2017

It surprised me too

When I entered into this training season, my "A" race was the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama. Not long after signing up for Pinhoti, another opportunity presented itself, the Great Mississippi Levee Run.  This run predates any organized races that popped up later on the same route.  The GMLR is a fatass run, meaning that it is not an organized race.  There is no support along the route except for what you provide, no roads are closed, no cheering crowds, just a loose group run from point "A" to point "B".  In this case, point "A" was the levee next to the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge, and point "B" was Audubon Park in New Orleans, or the southern end of the levee.

Because of the nature of this run, being 127 miles along the levee, non stop, and unsupported, it was an invitation only event, giving the organizers the ability to limit the run to people who had a good chance of finishing.  There are no guarantees with this distance, regardless of how well you are trained, but it never hurts to stack the odds in your favor.

So, with 20 or so people originally interested, 10 folks ended up starting the run (4 men & 6 women).  Here's the group photo with a bonus runner who joined us for the first 40 miles.   

It was a beautiful day to start what was dubbed "Bad Decision 2017".
We started at 1:00 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving and headed south.  Well, in a southerly direction.  Here is the path the levee takes between BR and NO, hence the longer distance than driving between the cities.

And to me, it felt like it was going straight the whole time.  Perspective.
Early on, a group of us decided to try to stay together, especially to get us through the night time hours, for safety reasons.  Also, that way our crews could stay together which would make it safer for them and give them some much welcomed company.  While we were getting to know each other on the levee, our crews had plenty of quality time to get to know each other as well.

So, we ran.  We ran through the first afternoon and through the night mostly together.  Once the sun rose on Saturday, our little group broke up a bit, although we weren't ever far apart.  We ran past a casino, refineries, beautiful antebellum homes, a former leper colony, and some less desirable areas.  We had the company of stray dogs, and occasionally someone riding dirt bikes or walking on top of the levee for exercise.  We also had to dodge the structures being built for the annual bonfires along the levee (click the picture for the story - it is a great tradition), and we got lots of strange looks from the men working on them.
Having to go off to the side of the levee was cool for the first few of these, but after 70-80 miles (?) that I had run, the constant stopping was tough.
A new experience for me in this run was running into a second night.  For 100 milers, I am used to running though one night and finishing the next morning.  If you haven't done it, it seems impossible to stay awake that long, but your body and brain adapt and it is really not as big of a deal as you would think.  But, the second night was interesting.  Right about nightfall, I was treated to a surprise visit from Wally & Nikki.  Their huge smiles and positive energy were so welcome!  I only regret that I didn't get the full benefit of the costumes:

When you are doing something slightly ridiculous, you can count on fellow ultrarunners to support you wholeheartedly.  Rhea getting a hug on top of the levee by a very enthusiastic T-Rex.  
I also got a visit from Candy (Lynette's wife and my friend) and Kelly (long time running buddy).  Kelly dropped Candy off with us so she would be able to drive us home afterwards, saving two very sleep deprived people from having to make any decisions.  It was amazing to see these beautiful faces, even if just for a minute.  After this, Kelly went back home and Candy joined the crew.

I crossed the 100 mile mark of the run in the afternoon/early evening hours of the second day.  When Lynette and Candy told me this (more on those amazing women later), it was really a cool feeling.  Once you have done a few 100 milers, it is hard to top that distance unless you sign up for Badwater (no desire) or a 200 miler (jury is still out on that).  So, once it soaked in that I was now in new territory, I got a great boost of energy and was able to really RUN - for about 5 miles.  Then little things that were hurting before became amplified.  I don't think they hurt any more, but I think the fatigue of seeing a second sunset on a run was making me less capable of dealing with the discomfort.  

This is when I called in reinforcements.  See, while it sounds like I was participating in this great feat of endurance, there was also a second storyline taking place that was equally impressive and challenging.  Quick background:  when my friend, Lynette, and I were having coffee one day, I mentioned this run and how I would have to arrange a crew and without hesitation, Lynette said "I'll crew you".  Knowing she would have to take valuable time away from her family, she did not hesitate to offer her help and immediately, I knew that Lynette would be the perfect crew person.  Lynette is a fantastic mom to two incredible young adults, and I knew that is what I would need out there.

There were a whole lot of views like this.
So, when I was running,  Lynette was leapfrogging me to meet with me every 5 - 10 miles to refill water bottles, provide nutrition, tape blistered feet, etc.  The only reason I was able to do this thing is because Lynette selflessly came out and spent the whole weekend tending to my needs.  She got about as much sleep as I did, and little did she know that she would be called into action at mile 105ish.

Luckily, Lynette plans for everything (seriously, you should have seen the things she packed :-) ), because she also planned for just in case I would need company to finish the run.  Well, let's be honest, once we crossed over mile 105 or so, things started to flare up and we were relegated to a power hike, which turned into a power stroll, then into a "oh just get me to that damn park" walk.  

So, Lynette, who came into this thinking she might walk/run a few miles with me, ended up walking almost a marathon that night.  By this time, Jason and I were keeping the same pace ("ouch,ouch,ouch"), so we were the three amigos hobbling along the levee.  

Lynette, Jason and I. Notice who looks fresh and full of energy?  Yeah, not me or Jason.
With Lynette's mad power walking skills, we got to the end of the levee and onto the roads of New Orleans to make our way to Audubon Park to find a sign to take our picture in front of as proof of finish. 

Excuse the language but I left my filter somewhere near mile 86:

The best part of this race?  We found a sign, took our picture, one showing the time on our phone as proof and then we got into Candy's car and she brought two sleepy people safely home.  In the end, 6 of the 10 who started, finished.  5 women and 1 man. (Girlpower!)

Too tired to be excited about what I had done.  Notice the flip flops?  I wore those for the last mile and a half.  My feet were not going to tolerate one more minute inside shoes.

It has been almost two weeks now, and it has taken almost this long to absorb this experience.  I am left with so many take aways. First, friendship.  True, whatever you need, willing to sacrifice my comfort, friendship.  This is what Lynette and Candy did for me.  Lynette was always positive and determined, and never once allowed me to feel sorry for myself.  Candy was a godsend, coming to rescue two delirious girls and getting us home safely.  Also, new friendship - from the long night time hours on the first night spent with Mandy and Jason ("a random porta potty on top of the levee WITH a handwashing station?  Clearly this is a trap!"), and the time spent visiting with Letha, Jerry, Jenny, Casey, Jim along the way.

Without a doubt, this was my favorite ultra experience ever (including the hallucinations).  Being a Louisiana native, running along that incredible river and watching the constant commerce taking place was amazing.  There were so many times that I was overwhelmed with a love for my state and a gratefulness for what I was allowed to participate in.  Just wow.  We ran (mostly) from near our old state capital all the way to New Orleans on the levee.  I don't think any ultra experience can ever top it.

The reason this was possible.  From the incredible man who has done this multiple times, and organized this great event, to my crew who went above and beyond anything I could have asked for.  (L to R: Jerry Sullivan, Candy Domengeaux,  Me, Lynette Domengeaux) 

Yes, it is on a belt, and yes I am wearing it.  :-) 

My 48th year on this planet is starting out pretty darn good.

Happy Running, Y'all!