Sunday was the first annual Littleton Bike and Fitness “Sufferfest” at Cannon Mountain. It was a cloudless day and hot. I arrived at the start at the Franconia Inn where around 100 mountain bikers and runners prepared to tackle the daunting trail and mountain course.
Bridget and I met up with some of the other Pete and Gerry’s Organic Chicks before the start. Of course we had to show our chick power in our cute Skirt Sports skirts. What is more bada$$ than a strong woman racing to the top of a 3,150 ft mountain?
The race started with mountain bikers first followed by eager runners. Not sure how to pace this and still unsure of my post-marathon legs I decided to race and have a blast. The first part was on beautiful trails through the woods. The air was pretty motionless and hot. I was definitely glad I chose to bring my camelbak.
The trails wound around until we came out of the woods at the base of Mitersill adjacent to Cannon Mountain. At that point the climbing commenced and running turned into a steady power hike. I was definitely happy to be on foot and not on bike. The mountain bikers had to hike too either pushing bikes or carrying them. They definitely endured the true “sufferfest!”
It was very hot on the way up so I was happy to be able to cool off along the way with fresh mountain water from the cold mountain streams. The volunteers handing out water were definitely busy and very appreciated!
I was thrilled to finish in a time of 1:33.28 and was psyched to find my friend Bridget the overall women’s winner in a blazing time of 1:13! The cheering at the top was extra awesome with super chick Tricia giving the racers energy into the finish line. Toni chick pushed hard to the top making a stellar comeback from a donkey related shoulder injury this winter (true story!).
Overall the race was a blast! The tram ride down was definitely welcome though (we rode in ketchup). I will definitely be back for more next year!
Tomorrow it is me against the mountain (for the first annual Sufferfest). I am looking forward to racing up Cannon Mountain tomorrow. This will be a race just for me. No expectations. Get out there have some fun and run my own race. It is often easy to forget that part of running and racing . . . but that is my first and only goal tomorrow. Finishing the race at the summit will be an added bonus with the views as the reward at the end! (and I might even get to win some of our Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs at the race like I did during Winter Wild).
I am proud of myself for all of my hard work and for not giving up at the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday. I know after running this race that I have extreme mental toughness and also the physical strength and aerobic capacity to run a marathon. My finish time at the marathon was 3:45.28. For me this was a 10 minute PR which is a tremendous accomplishment. I was 26th in my age group (35-39) out of 160 women, 153rd female out of 1,085, and 626th out of 2,418 runners.
I did not achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston (at least not yet that is). For me it was not meant to be at this race. For me this race was a learning experience which we must all go through in order to achieve success. I am proud of myself because even though I did not reach my ultimate goal I know that I left everything out on the pavement on Sunday.
My training this fall, winter, and spring was incredible. I trained my a$$ off! I was focused, I was driven, I stayed positive and overall I learned a lot about myself. Training for this race gave me confidence and inner-strength to be able to reach for my dreams. We all need goals and to reach for the stars.
On race day I wanted to go for it and did not feel stressed about the actual race but found myself lacking focus that morning and consumed by outside thoughts. I need to remember to run my own race
. Rather than sticking to a solid race plan of going out with a nice even pace of 8:10-8:20 and then working towards negative splits during the second half of the race I went out way too. I allowed the energy of the other runners, the crowds and the easy feeling of my gait to sweep me down the race course at a pace that would not be easy to maintain during the crucial last 6.2 miles. I made the rookie mistake of “fly and die.” I knew I went out too fast but for some reason could not slow myself down. I did not allow my friend Bridget who was pacing me to do her job of reminding me not to go too fast at the beginning.
My body was challenged on race day also due to nutrition and hydration issues. I took in plenty of GU along the course, along with bananas, watermelon, oranges, and water ices however I did not eat the “real food” that I needed and I did not eat early enough. My metabolism races so fast that I could have used an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich at around mile 5 and then every 4 or 5 miles after that. Around mile 19-20 the race course weaves through neighborhoods that have excellent crowd support but also are in direct sunlight and by that time the temperatures had climbed somewhere into the 80’s with no breeze. I had been alternating between water and gatorade at each aid station however the loss of electrolytes was too great and by mile 21 I felt myself bonking. My legs were wobbly and I began to zig zag. Thankfully Bridget was by my side to keep me focused. At the next aid station I was made to drink about 6-7 cups of gatorade (next race I will drink gatorade/NUUN at each station). My legs were cramping and then we had to walk for a while. Seeing the pace group leaders come by I knew my goal was passing but I still wanted to finish. At this point I had to focus on the finish line and on Bridget. I needed to focus on her energy and the energy of the other runners on the course. I had to find my “om,” to keep my emotions calm and just listen. I listened. I listened to my breathing, to my foot strikes. I listened to Bridget’s voice. I listened and I believed what she was saying and somehow found the last ounces of strength in my muscles and made my legs go. Crossing the finish line was not pretty and the end of the race experience required an extended stay at the lovely Medical tent in order to get my fluids back in balance.
Not the way I wanted to finish and not the final outcome that I had hoped for but I am PROUD. I have been able to stay positive and have done a lot of reflecting and revisiting the experience and know that in the end this race has made me a much stronger person and mentally tough runner. There will be other races and I am going to go after my dreams.
What dreams are you chasing?
Next race on my schedule: “Sufferfest“run by The Littleton Bike Shop in Littleton NH and sponsored by Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs our family farm. The race starts in Franconia, NH and ends at the top of Cannon Mountain. The course is 6 miles with 3150 feet of climbing. Who wants to join in the fun????
So I have to admit I am a total running skirt addict! No more running shorts for me. Give me a running skirt, in any color and I am a happy chick. This week I was surprised to receive a package from my friend Michele (read more about Michele and her awesome athletic endeavors on her blog 2genim.com). She is an inspirational athlete who has completed several Ironmans as well as many marathons, half marathons and other races including running Boston this year in the sweltering heat followed by another Marathon three weeks later in California where she ran another Boston Qualifying Time (Go Michele!).
I was super excited to open the package having a great guess as to what might be inside. Feeling like a kid at Christmas I tore open the package and discovered an awesome Skirt Sports Marathon Chick in Pink Crush with Pow Print Spankies underneath.
Michele had given me my first running skirt several years ago and continues to fuel my addiction to the comfort and the fast feel. As I said in an earlier post (You’ve been chicked!), it is always super sweet to fly by a guy on the race course while wearing a skirt!
This new skirt looks super fast and I love the bright pink. It also has a nice large zipper pocket on the back, the perfect place for storing my GU. I am still contemplating my marathon day race apparel and this new skirt is definitely in the running (Ha!Ha!).
Thanks you so much for thinking of me Michele and for being one of my strong inspirations! I hope to be as fast as you on the course!
So with less than a week to go until marathon Sunday I am desperately trying to get healthy. I have avoided getting sick throughout all of the miles and many different child and husband illnesses . . .colds, pneumonia, ear infections, tummy bugs (which including being thrown up on) and now here I am one week away from the Vermont City Marathonwith some sort of stomach funk that started yesterday morning.
I haven’t actually felt too sick other than the horrible ominous rumbling in my stomach but now I am at the end of day 2 and wishing this would GO AWAY! I am working hard to fuel my body with enough nutrients to build my glycogen stores during this final week of tapering and to stay well hydrated with my trusty Nalgene full ofNUUN by my side.
I have been enjoying a delicious diet of bland foods in hopes that my tummy will turn from topsy turvy to right-side up by tomorrow morning. My diet over the past two days has included plain noodles, oatmeal with Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts sprinkled on top in an attempt to get some extra protein, bananas, toast, and Stonyfield yogurt (come on pro-biotics do your magic!), and scrambled Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs(again for some protein of course!).
I am going to bed now in hopes to feel like a new energized me in the morning. Think positive thoughts and please share your tips if you have any!!!!
Did you know that this week is National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19)?
This week it is important to stop and take some time to evaluate your own health and well-being. Being a busy mom of two children under the age of four, plus working part-time for our family business, and training for a marathon I have to remind myself to slow down and take care of myself. I have always had the mother hen personality (My mom said I was always mothering others even as a kindergartener). When thinking about others and making sure everyone else is ok it is pretty easy to forget about yourself.
As you may already know, I suffered from postpartum depression after the births of both of my kids. My pregnancy with my daughter wasn’t exactly straightforward, I had to have abdominal surgery when I was 12 weeks pregnant, feared losing my baby and then had other complications towards the end. After going through all of the difficulties with pregnancy having postpartum depression was still very unexpected after the birth of my daughter. It actually went undiagnosed longer than it should have because I wasn’t ready to talk about it or admit that I was having such a hard time. It is difficult to feel like you are constantly under a grey cloud and feeling “stuck” as I did, paralyzed by the sadness and anxiety during a time that is supposed to be filled with happiness. Having a child is amazing and you will feel love like you never had before but it is also extremely difficult to ever be truly prepared for what having a child means. When my daughter was born I constantly felt overwhelmed by a challenging baby who did not feed well and so was awake all of the time and wanting to eat constantly. I felt like I was disappearing. I felt alone. I felt helpless. I felt frustrated. I felt exhausted. I lost my laughter. Motivating and getting out to do simple things felt incredibly difficult. I completely lost myself.
When I was pregnant with my son I feared that I again be faced with the weight of sadness that is postpartum depression. And again, a somewhat complicated pregnancy ended with a beautiful baby and me in full on postpartum depression. This time we knew how to address this much sooner but still the climb to get out of the dark hole was a collision with my inner-self. I needed to find a way to regain my positive outlook and get back to the “normal” me now as a Mom.
When you suffer from postpartum depression you have elevated levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which is a hormone often associated with depression. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are also thought to be a cause of depression. According to the website Livestrong, Serotonin is,
“made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of protein and which humans eating a normal diet consume in significant amounts. High levels of tryptophan in the blood signal the brain to make serotonin, which has many beneficial consequences on mood and affect, including promoting happiness, relaxation and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.” (Sep 2, 2010 | By Kirstin Hendrickson)
When I finally came face to face with the idea of getting help for the way I was feeling, knowing about how these hormonal imbalances can create the perfect storm of postpartum depression helped me to realize that it was not my “fault.” I needed to lean on my family and friends for support. I needed to open myself up and talk about why I was so sad and withdrawn. I had to let my support network in to my challenge to be my guidance and the light to the way out of darkness. I had to create a plan for wellness for myself. This included getting back to exercise. This was perhaps one of the most important things for me because it is through exercise that I have always found balance, release, focus, motivation, and feelings of positive self-worth. It is through exercise that I have always felt in place, as a part of a team and a community. Getting back to running gave me the goals that I needed. It has given me checkpoints along the way to better health, energy, and a positive outlook.
My husband helped me get back into my running shoes and out onto the road. He called on my friends to be my support and to get me back out there doing what I love where I could reap the positive benefits of the endorphin “rush”, the energy from Vitamin D from the sun, and the laughter that I so desperately needed to elevate my serotonin levels and to bring me back to a place where I could laugh at myself and to find the hope and bright spots. It is amazing how many women I have talked to who have told me that they too went through this when they had their babies. Postpartum Depression is nothing to be ashamed about and is something that should be talked about. As women we need to support each other no matter what our different challenges may be.
Now here I am almost 4 years after the birth of my daughter and then my son and about one week away from my Marathon goal. I now feel strong. I work to find time for me. I try hard to be positive and to not become overwhelmed. I have taken on new challenges with the attitude of “No Regrets.” I am working hard to take care of ME so that I can take care of my family and friends. I have learned a lot about myself on this journey and work hard each day to use these lessons to grow and change.
During National Women’s Health Week please take time to check-in with yourself. Share your stories with the people in your life that support you. challenge yourself to a new goal and don’t look back.