Seamus O’Possum 30k Trail Footrace Recap

Seamus O’Possum 30k Trail Footrace Recap

Sole Sisters!
Photo credit to Ran Cidgoat (Doug).

From start to finish, this was another top-notch race. Race packet pick-up was Friday night or Saturday before the race. I had volunteered to help at the packet pick-up Friday night and then when the location was changed to Staas Brewing Company, well, that just made it perfect! We sat around enjoying a Stass brew and chatting with everyone that came into pick-up their stuff. The trail/ultra running community is simply the kindest, most humble and friendly group of people you may ever meet. I enjoyed making more friends before the race.

This is the most under-trained I have ever been for a race, so I knew going into Saturday there would be more walking than I typically would do during a 30k. I had corresponded with Mark (one of the awesome race directors) a few times prior to the race mentioning that I wasn’t sure I was up for the race this year based on everything else going on in my life. He convinced me to try it and I’m glad I listened. Also, Katie wouldn’t hear of me not going, she said “I’ll be by your side. We have all day and I have nowhere else to be.”

No expectations for this race combined with the tasty beer from Staas and I had my best pre-race night sleep I think I’ve ever had. Hmmm… I may be onto something here.

Race morning came and the temperature was warmer than I had originally thought so I changed my mind about clothing (again) and headed up to Delaware State Park, home of the Possum Races. Parking was easy as usual and we were able to sit in our warm cars until we heard Mark yelling for everyone to start making their way to the starting “area”. We received our race instructions, were told to come back with stories to share at Stass for the post-race party, then Mark said “ok, go!”Across the grass and up the hill to the Levee wall, we were able to see a gorgeous sunrise while we started our journey.

Photo taken by Chad Heald, used with permission of Possum Races
Taken from the starting area.

Both levee photos taken by Chad Heald, used with permission of Possum Races.

We ran, we chatted, we slogged through the mud. We LAUGHED! I don’t think I have laughed so much or so hard in a long time. We had so much fun during this race.
The mud was ridiculous at some points. Several times we almost lost shoes due to the strong mud sucking going on. We laughed some more. It must have been between miles 7.5 and 11.5 (an out and back section) that we passed a guy and he said “I heard you guys coming. You’re having so much fun. THAT’s the way to do it”. We couldn’t agree more!
Me, Katie and Angie coming into the first Aid Station
Photo taken by Chad Heald used with permission of Possum Races
Running/walking/slogging more, we chatted about life, kids, running, goals, summer vacation. We talked about the grown-up stuff in life that no one likes to discuss but is part of life….health problems, sick family members, issues in child rearing.
Our selfie at the turn-around/book point.
Somewhere around the 10-11 mile point, I stepped wrong in the deep mud and felt something pop in the upper thigh/glute area. Ouch. Well, I wasn’t stopping now. I found out what the finisher award was and I knew I wanted one. Plus, I knew even if I had to walk the whole thing, I would cross that finish line. We ran some, we walked when my leg didn’t want to cooperate. We tried to get through the mud.
You know you have a good friend, when heading up the last couple hills on a bum leg, you feel a hand on your back. I told Angie “I’m fine”. Her response, “I know, I just want to be sure you don’t hurt anything else”. See? Good friend!
Due to the mud and my “sore arse”, it took us a lot longer than we had even anticipated, but we beat the race cut-off. We finally headed down the hill from the levee to the finish line. And what do we hear but our dear friend, Andrea, cheering for us. Instead of heading to Staas, she waited in the cold wind for us to finish.
I think at this point I actually said “FINALLY!”
Photo property of Possum Races.

At this point, we were covered in mud most of the way up our calves, shoes were caked in mud. Time to change and head to Staas!

We walked into Staas and smelled food! Post race food consisted of soups, chili, homemade breads and muffins. Thank you to the wonderful volunteers that fed us hungry runners! Thank you Staas for the fantastic Possum Ale. Being able to eat, drink, talk, laugh, trade stories with fellow runners and friends was the perfect way to end the day. The trail running community, the ultra running community and most of all, Team Possum has reminded me of how much I enjoy running and especially trail running.

Staas Brewing even made a Seamus O’Possum Irish Red Ale in honor of the event!
Go out, have a great time and tell stories about it afterward. Oh, and run a bunch of miles in there, too.
Enjoying my Possum Ale in my new Team Possum sweatshirt.
Thanks, Angie, for taking the picture!

Team Possum, you all are awesome! Thank you for allowing me to be a member of this amazing community, for all the new friends and time spent with “old” friends. I’m looking forward to many, many more miles with you all.

***Special thanks to Mark, Chad and all the volunteers that made this race such a fantastic experience.

***Special thanks to Katie and Angie for sticking by me. For your company, your friendship and your listening ear, always.
***Extra Special thanks to my husband, Jeff, for holding down the fort at home while I’m on long training runs and race day. I appreciate you every day!
Enjoy life my friends, one mile at a time!

A PR with a little help from my kids

A PR with a little help from my kids

The St. Patrick’s Day 4 Miler was not a race that was on my 2013 calendar until 2 weeks ago. Jeff was planning to run it before life got in the way. The really nice people at M3SSports let us change the registration to my name, Thank you M3S! I had no idea what I would be able to do in terms of pace or overall time. With Jeff traveling this past week, I think I ran maybe twice? I skipped my speed work last week. You get the drift….I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I usually am for a PR attempt.

Friday afternoon…kid #1 has a high fever. Again. He was sick 2 weeks ago. Complained of a sore throat. Seeing that it was the end of the business day, I got the pediatrician’s office on the phone and they said, call at 8:00 am, we’ll get you in on Saturday. Ok. Saturday morning, he wakes up with a 103* fever and doesn’t want to get out of bed. I feel helpless as I’m dragging him to the doctor’s office. Technically, carrying him, but he’s 6 years old 48″ and 54lbs….luckily, I work out! Diagnosis….Scarlet Fever. WHAT?! I panicked (all internally so he doesn’t freak out, score one for mom!). I had NO clue that Scarlet Fever still existed. The doc tells me it’s Strep Throat with a rash. Ok. Very treatable. Whew.

To make a short story really long, at this point, I’m obviously thinking NO GO on the race. It was a 6:00 pm start as there were a band and party after the race. We asked a few friends if they wanted to run, but nobody was available on such short notice.

Antibiotics and Benadryl seemed to be doing wonders and he was acting normal towards the afternoon. Jeff says “Go, race. We’ve got this”. I hemmed and hawed for another hour or so. Then finally decided, well, it’s “only” a 4-mile race, I won’t be gone long.

I decided to run this race for my little man. He’s been through a lot and still managed to keep a smile (mostly) on his face. I was going to try my hardest for a PR.

I met up with Best Running Friend (BRF) Jamie and her family before the start of the race, then we searched for our running group. (Jamie’s husband was running this so she and the kids were out to cheer for us!). Luckily, we also found Erin and Sarah from our Saturday morning group and I found out Erin was hoping to run about my pace or a little faster. Yay! I would have someone close by.

35* and windy at the start of the race. Yuck! Erin and I lined up just behind the 8:00mm pacer as I wanted to beat 33:49 (avg 8:27mm). I had even set the Virtual Pacer on my Garmin and discovered that I LOVE that feature! We took off and the first mile, I know I went out too fast. I knew I couldn’t maintain that pace for the whole race. I kept telling Erin to go ahead if she could. We played some leapfrog but remained close the whole time.

I was determined to do my best. I ran hard. Anytime my brain wanted me to give up, I thought of my little guy and I held on.

We hit mile marker 3 and I was wishing it was a 5k instead of a 4mile race! I also knew that I could hang on for one more mile. There was one point right around the 3-mile mark that I was even with or a little behind my virtual pacer. Seeing that angry blinking screen on my watch made me step it up a notch. Finally….the finish line! I gave it everything I had at the end and finished strong.

It’s funny, but after 3.5 years of running, after 3.5 years of racing, my brain STILL gets in my way during road races.

Race 5 done for #13in2013 and a PR to start off my road racing season. Not bad for a race I wasn’t going to run…..

Official Results

Time: 33:15 (8:19mm pace)

Overall Place: 162/1100

Age Group Place: 29/(I stopped counting at 250…)

Edit: Best part? I was able to get home for bedtime since it was a shorter race and close to home! Kid #1 is doing better and luckily is no longer contagious thanks to the antibiotics. We’re really looking forward to spring!

Rocks and Roots Trail Racing Series 20k Recap

Rocks and Roots Trail Racing Series 20k Recap

What an awesome day! I have a lot that I want to say about this race, so hopefully, I can get it all written and NOT be too wordy. I promise I’ll try my best!

Since I registered for both trail races in the series by Fleet Feet Sports, I got a trail series package which was pretty cool. There was a hoodie, that honestly is so comfy that I never want to take off. And yes, I am wearing it while I write my recap. Of course! There was also a pair of Swiftwick socks (awesome!), a new handheld water bottle (haven’t tried it yet), and Cliff Shot Blocks.

I wasn’t very nervous going into this race. Until I went to bed Saturday night. I had a few problems sleeping like I normally do the night before a race, then I was awake before my alarm. I was looking at the weather and had a few wardrobe issues (30* but felt like 17*F. YUCK) Thankful my friends were up and on Twitter as they helped me figure it out. It was great to not leave my house until 7:15 for a race! As with most trail races, it was a smaller race, and also it was held at the local State Park, so it wasn’t too far to get there. I enjoyed being able to park right beside the start/finish line and also line up at 7:55 for the 8 am start.

I met up with my friend Amanda before the race and we sat in her car to stay out of the wind. We headed to the start area and said hi to a few other friends. Our awesome friends, Jamie and Kate, had come out to cheer for us on this “balmy” (I wish!) day. Thank you, Jamie for all the great pictures today! So fun to have them.

I was feeling good, but since my hands weren’t cooperating with the cold so I was very thankful to have Jamie and Kate to help add my Nuun to my water bottle. I re-fueled while talking with the ladies. Actually stopping to re-fuel makes such a different experience. The relaxed atmosphere just made me feel so much more relaxed during the whole run
After a few announcements that we couldn’t understand but hoped I’d figure out anything important, the horn sounded and we took off. We had started in the parking lot, so it was paved, then through the grass, over the road, and onto the trail. Alum Creek mountain bike trails are single track trails and are filled with rocks, roots, stream crossings, trees, etc. There were a few times in that first mile that we came to an almost complete stop as everyone tried to get funneled down to the single track and find their pace. At this point, I was a little concerned that it would take a while, but honestly, after a few more minutes, it thinned out.

I knew I wasn’t going to break any speed records, so I just tried to find my groove and run. I passed some people, I was passed by some.

Running here without the snow and ice made the trail easier. It was a completely different place than my training run there a few weeks ago! Several times during the first loop, I had to remind myself to run “my race, my pace”. I had no clue as to the distances that others were running and had to keep in mind that I had 10k more to go when I got back to the start/finish line.

From the time I signed up for this race, I knew that I just wanted to get out on the trails, run a trail race and get some experience for my upcoming ultra. I kept as steady of a pace as I could and when I got back to the start/finish area at the end of my first 10k, I was surprised that I had averaged 12:02mm. My “closet” goal was to finish the race under 13:00mm.

The second loop had far fewer runners than the first one did. (after the race, I saw that there were 139 runners that completed the 10k, total race field was capped at 250, I think). There were stretches of trail where I would make friends and we’d chat a little bit before one of us would move on. There were stretches of trail where it was just me and nature. I was a little concerned about those as headphones were forbidden in this race. However, I should have known that nature would come through and help me through the run. Boredom never happened; how can it when if you stop paying attention for even a second you could trip on a rock or a root? The solitude of parts of the second loop was actually welcome. It allowed me to learn a lot about myself. I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. These stretches reminded me that I don’t need music to distract me and help me “forget” about what I’m doing. It reminded me that races are more about the journey and the experience than the final finish time (although that can be fun, too).

As I was running along, I looked at my watch a few times, but I was more curious than anything. I felt like I had slowed down considerably from the first loop, but realized it wasn’t that much. This time around I stopped at the 4.5mile aid station for some water and got to talk to my friend Doug. At this point, I knew I was pretty much done and I didn’t experience that feeling of relief. Sure, my muscles were starting to get angry at me from all the ups and downs, but overall, I still felt really good. For the first time that I can remember in a race that I ran on my own, I never hit a wall, I never had the feeling that I could not wait for the race to be done.

Across the road, through the grass, into the parking lot…there are my crazy awesome friends and the finish line.

I immediately went to get a slice of yummy pizza then got my finisher’s award. What an AWESOME award! I cannot wait to plant my tree, I’m just hoping that I don’t kill it in the next few days with frigid temperatures here.

Things to remember for next race; run more conservative in the first half so I can hopefully run a little faster in the second half or at least keep the same pace.

Honestly, I could not have asked for a better experience for my first trail race of any distance. The organization, support, volunteers, aid stations, and awards were excellent. Thanks for an awesome race, I can’t wait for the next one in the series!

Official Stats:

20k (12.4miles): 2:26:53

Overall: 43/69 for the 20k

Division (women): 14/27

2016 ORRRC Half Marathon and More Recap

What a day! I honestly don’t know where to start and I will try not to write a complete novel, but after such an amazing day, it will be difficult. Regardless, Half Marathon #5 is complete!
Until a few weeks ago, I was still thinking about going for a PR in this race. After all, I PRd in it last year (Last year’s race recap), so why shouldn’t I try this year? Umm…yeah. I realized with the trail hours I’m putting in training for the Playin’ Possum 50K, it would be silly to think about trying. Instead, I was going to use this as a training run and also a fun day with friends.
Talking with my friend, Kate, who was getting ready to tackle her first 26.2, my friend, Andrea who was thinking about running for a PR, and they were going to run about the same pace, I decided to run with them. Excellent choice as it turns out!
There were 7 of us carpooling to Xenia which always makes the day more fun, especially when you leave at 6 am. We debated the ability of cows to accurately predict the weather forecast, we talked about anything and everything, hoping to keep everyone’s nerves at bay before the race.
Parking and check-in were just as easy as I remembered them being last year, then we all started debating what to actually wear. Winter has been holding onto us here and never seeming to let go. Race day, of course, was 60* to start and over 70* by the time we finished. Coming from the 40s, it got hot!
Since it’s a small race, great price ($25 for early registration!) and an early season race, there were approximately 35 of us from our running group heading down. It was awesome to see so many blue and orange shirts before the race and along the course. I love cheering for other people during a race, but it’s even better when you can call out their names!
Clothes were changed, knees were taped, pictures were taken. And we were off! The Half and Full Marathon course were the same for the first 7 miles so we were able to start with Kate and Angie before they headed off to the country roads for the marathon. While we went to the Half Marathon turn around.
It was just Amanda and me at the point and we said we wanted to wait for the others. When we saw Andrea and Stuart, we decided to turn around again and stay with them. (That added about .5mi to our day). We all stuck together to get to the finish and just had a fun day. Seeing so many of our DMC crew and cheering for everyone was so much fun!
We got to the finish line, yay! Oh, wait, not done yet. So, we grabbed a cookie (best finish line food at this race!), talked to our friends for a few minutes and then Amanda and I headed back out. We both needed the miles, plus Kate and Angie seemed happy that we would be joining them for the final 4 or so miles of the race. Stopping for about 30 minutes may have been too long. My body protested that first 1.5 miles that we were running again, but luckily, it got with the program.
Reaching the out and back trail just before the 22-mile mark, we stopped at a water station to wait for a little bit of shade. (wow, was it getting warm!) Then we say them! I was so excited to see them so quickly as it meant they were pretty much on track of where they wanted to be time-wise. They filled water bottles and we were off.
At this point, I was 18miles into my “half marathon”. Coming up with funny stories gets harder the longer you run and more effort you put in, but my brain got with it and I kept up a steady stream of chatter (sorry Angie!). Miles 20-26.2 of the marathon are THE HARDEST miles to get through and I wanted to try to make them easier for my friends.
Around .5-1 mile from the finish, we had two more Run-DMC friends come join us for the end of the race. They had both finished the marathon and come back out. Amazing support from our group! If you’ve ever thought that running was not a team sport, our group completely proved you wrong this weekend. It was all about TEAM, and I am proud to be a part of such a supportive group of runners!
Running with friends, celebrating their victories of PRs, of first-time distance attempts, of a first successful (no injury) marathon was more rewarding to me than any goal I could have set for myself. Funny that my slowest official finish is my best race yet!
It was an honor to me to run with my dear friend, Kate, for the final miles of her first 26.2. I remember the thoughts, the feelings that went through my head when I ran my first marathon. It’s emotional. It’s difficult. It’s a once in a lifetime feeling. Thanks for letting me share it with you, Katie!
Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!
Official Results:
13.1 miles 2:40:59
Overall place: 816/930
Age Group: 75/86
Female: 415/502
My Results:
22.5 miles 4:26:04