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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monadnock DR overnight training

Well it is Tuesday morning and I am back at school...the long weekend just a memory....
The highlight of the Memorial Day weekend for most is beach or boating picnics or excessive drinking...but for me it was all pretty low key...the highlight was spending Saturday night into Sunday with two most excellent men who for both hiking all night in the woods and seeing the sun rise on the trail was a first...

Saturday I drove into the city to pick up Jon McEvoy a crossfit athlete and owner ,with his beautiful wife, of Craic Crossfit in Dedham.  The June Death Race is John's first and this overnight was his first as well.  We were driving to Hollis NH to Tom's house meeting up with him and then heading out for food and then to Monadnock to start the overnight around 9 p.m.

I was really impressed with John right off the bat.  A level headed guy just 26, already achieved his childhood dream to own his own gym.  God I laughed to myself as at 26 I was back form the Peace Corps living in  my brothers walk in closet owning nothing and just trying to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I knew that he would be a good fit with Tom and I for training so I was getting excited to get out there.  When we arrived at Tom's both John and Tom had HUGE packs they stepped on the scale and each of them had about an extra 60 t0 70 lbs on their backs...I ended up with about 30lbs on my back. 

We headed out for dinner at Pasta Loft...I was the only one who ordered a drink ; ) as I pretty much can't go without a glass of wine with my meal. We ordered the salad that Tom and I used to get whenever we ate at the loft.  We left and made our way out to the back side of Monadnock and we were ready to head out on the trail by 9 p.m.  Tom suggested we head up Monadnock first.  We would summit and return to the trail head for the Monadnock Sunapee trail system. http://www.msgtc.org/ The goal was for Tom and John to experience an overnight, being on their feet all night, check pack comfort and nutrition for an overnight.  We wanted to get in as many miles as we could without running but just keeping a steady fast pace. 

We started up the trail with me in the lead. I had done overnights many times and had experience on Monadnock and the MS trail system.  I also had less weight on my back having only 30 to their 65 lbs....I also am lighter and more like a mountain goat to Tom and John's bull..hehe...the hike was tough at times as we were basically climbing up a running river. The rocks and roots were slick and at times you must climb up and over huge boulders and getting a grip is difficult...both Tom and John, but mostly Tom had some wicked falls..I had 2 one I rolled and it was actually not bad as I am used to falling with trail running so I know to just let my body go with it and trust gravity when I fall..I have one bruise on my leg and some nasty scratches from prickers and that is it.  The temperature at the base of the mountain was perfect.  We all stopped to take off clothing layers as it was around 60 to 65 degrees all night...a slice of heaven.  As we ascended higher and higher visibility started to really decrease...I am talking like 5 feet in front of you was black...the air got colder...and the wind really picked up. 

On the top of Monadnock there is no tree cover and it was really sketchy in terms of footing as you need to climb up huge boulders...there was not a single star in the sky...at one point we turned off our headlamps and stood near the summit in the pitch black...I have experienced this before so I forget how awesome it really is...but both Tom and John were the right people to do this training with because they totally understood why this is such an awesome thing to do...I have years of over night hikes under my belt..my friend Dan who died two October's ago in Afghanistan understood the power of this and we would take off for the whites last minute and start a hike at like 2 or 3 am so we could be on the summit for sun rise...I took a moment Saturday night and thought of Dan as I truly believe he watches over me...It was pretty fricken cool to say the least.  We headed back down and it went faster although we tended to fall more in the descent.  When we returned to the car we felt pretty good although we decided to lose some of the weight for the main portion of the hike. I had some trouble at first finding the trail.  I took it on myself to lead and Tom and John did not seem to mind.  I enjoyed watching out for the white blazes and did pretty well until around 2:30 am when I got us lost.  The goal was to stay awake all night and keep moving so getting lost was not really a big issue.  Tom and John were cool and at one point we looked over the map as we stood at an intersection of streets trying to figure out where we went wrong...and we were not really worked up about it...the Death Race is all about being flexible and keeping your cool so it was good practice : )  Tom must have fallen like 20 times on the mountain and he never let it get to him.  We will experience frustration levels times 100 in relation to that night.  One thing I realized was boy they eat alot!! I had an egg sandwich that took me like 3 hours to eat and 4 chocolate covered espresso beans...Tom ate so much I don't know where the heck it all went!  At one point along the hike there was a bear off to the left of the trail which I heard snort and alerted the guys to so we could slowly retreat a bit to allow the bear to hear us talk and move along. Later on we had to do the same thing with a big fat skunk walking on the trail..Tom finally threw a rock to get him to move off the trail.  This was the 4th time I have encountered a bear when hiking at night.

We ended up doing some where between 17 and 18 miles total and ended the hike at 6am.  The final part of the hike along a dirt road I could tell that John and Tom were having their second wind...experiencing the burst of energy that comes with the sun rising and the birds singing. It was cool to experience this with them. It was a great night.  I wish for more nights like this...I realize I would rather hike all night then hit a bar or go to a fancy restaurant....my egg sandwich on the trail was delicious : )



I feel like I am at a good point in my training mentally and physically.  Next weekend I head to the farm to tackle the hay bale Friday night and train all day Saturday.  It is strange to say but I would not want to be any place else next weekend..it makes me giddy and light and happy : )

Friday, May 27, 2011

Death Race Training: Bucket brigade, Monadnock, and focus

So the other night my buddy Trooper Dave came over with his sewing machine....yep Trooper as in "State" and sewing machine as in "machine that sews" and he got down and dirty with his bobber and fashioned me the coolest system to attach my bucket to : ) I relaxed on the couch sipping wine while Dave (who has the most menacing stare I have ever seen) sewed away with a big smile on his face....



I tended to get slightly annoyed when I was asked to get my fat butt off the couch to try said harness system on and I made sure that Dave saw how large and menacing my guns were...just needed to let the man know who he is dealing with...all 107 lbs of badass that is me...I snort as I write this... I was like "ohhh a picture hold on let me fix my hair....does my butt look big...hold on I need some lip gloss" ..heheheh

Well the system is amazing and Trooper Dave is a whiz with a bobber (I couldn't stop laughing when he kept talking about his fricken bobber..hahaha) so I will use this Saturday night for the over night training.

So Saturday into Sunday Tom, John M a DR guy from Boston and I will be doing an overnight.  Plan is to meet up with Tom at 6....grab dinner and a couple of beers(Tom Beer me wine..John have not met him so no idea if he drinks) then head to Drumlin trail head at Monadnock with full pack (I am wearing weighted vest as I imagine Tom will as well) summit Monadnock then return to car and hike the Monadnock Sunapee trail out and back for about 30 miles. I plan to then summit the mountain at least 2 more times with a bucket or a tire Sunday.  Basically just time on feet, lack of sleep, fricken buckets, Tom's incessant gabbing..basically just pushing a few of our own buttons....actually Tom does not "gab" in fact the word "gab" and TKLee will never share the same sentence....actually Tom is friendlier than I when training...I seem to come across as quiet and or intense...really it is just that I don't have anything  interesting to say.....

This morning I was txting with TKLee and at one point he wrote "you need to focus".  It kind of stopped me in my tracks. I NEED TO FOCUS.  I really do...I am all over the place right now...it is kind of who I am in a way...but I am also someone who likes to retreat into the solitude of myself and lately I have not given myself the luxury of any solitude...I can't wait for June 4th...I am heading to Pittsfield...Andy graciously said he would get me a hay bale...I am taking all f'in night if I have to to get that thing to the top...and down if Andy says he wants it back...and then hopefully training with Ray on Saturday...

Friday night will be so awesome..quiet, dark, all by myself.... just let my mind go blank...empty it of all the shit that is floating around in there...DR training is so good for my mental health...it is what I do for me...every other worry... my health, relationships, family.... fall by the wayside and it is just me pushing my body past comfort points that it would normally put in place .  Those things your mind tells you to protect your body from pain...your mind wants to f with you.... it whispers..."you can't do this Michelle because (insert word.. it is too hard, painful, scary)". 

Well I have had enough crap piled on my plate the last 4 years and I made it through pretty much intact...this past year in a nutshell sucked.. it can't get any worse...trust me ; ) so I have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this point on...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

sicky sicky sick sick sicky

Oh over training..... when will I learn my lesson....blobs of green phlegm in the sink... coughing fits that make me look like a tomato...sipping theraflu like it is good scotch...and yet I still go to the gym...I still put on that damn vest on and hit the hills..I run around sledgehammering tires and dragging chains and jumping on boxes and in between circuits spit up chunks of my lung....good times...I go out for sushi or wings after and drink and then go home and get a few hours of sleep...wtf...I am not in my 20's anymore...jeez I am not even in my 30's...

Monday and Tuesday I have taken off from training I have dragged my sick tush into school and the kids have been wonderful as I croak out directions like a frog. I stop at Whole Foods after school and grab some yummy veges and grilled chicken head home slip into pj's pour a glass wine and read through my stack of books.  I finally called the doctor went in after school and she put me on antibiotics and gave me codeine infused cough syrup...last night after the most delicious rare steak, tahini veges, and kale I took two teaspoons of the stuff...it stated only to take one...I woke up with this morning with my alarm buzzer screaming and like 5 minutes to spare...teeth brushed, messy pony tail, jeans, black T, pink Chuck Taylors and I am off to grab the largest espresso laden coffee I can find. How do I feel today?  I am not sure... still think the codeine is in my tiny body making me a bit foggy.

Today I will go back to the gym...Chris and his big tires are waiting for me...two days...that is all I can give myself silly as it sounds...June 24th is creeping up on me...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Camp without the bug juice

This past weekend I headed up to Pittsfield for DR camp. It was being held at the same time the McNaughton ultras were going on which was wicked cool as I have considered myself an ultra runner until just recently when I decided to release myself from the need to define myself as anything : )

I headed up Friday night to avoid a three hour drive in the dark. I got a cheap room in Killington for like 50 bucks. I stopped by the farm to see how the runners were doing and saw Andy. He suggested I head out for a loop or two of the course. I needed to stretch my legs after the drive so I went to the room and changed headed back and Andy gave me some pink tape (perfect match to my pink shorts) and headed out. Oh how I loved this 10 mile loop : ) I was feeling really strong and did the loop in 1:40 without really putting any stress on myself. The treadmill work at 15% incline I did all winter have really paid off in terms of my ability to run so many more inclines than any prior racing season. I felt really strong out there. All the runners on the course were friendly and in great spirits. I made sure to say hi and give encouragement to everyone I saw. I know how those long overnight runs can be really difficult and how far a little smile or positive feedback can go a long way : ) I tied quite a few more pink ribbons focusing on places that may seem confusing during the night portion. Confidence markers can be helpful when you are zoning out from exhaustion. Saw a cute guy with lots of tats..introduced myself and he said he would love to have a pacer for some of the overnight..I never went back out instead going out to a bar for Bruins and wings...I regret not hanging around as I think he would have been far more interesting than the Bruins ; )



After gorging myself on 2 orders of wings and two glasses of wine I headed back to my room and literally passed out. 4:30 alarm goes off and I make some cheap hotel room coffee and watched the PX90 informercial (I love it) I ate an orange and then got myself dressed and headed out to the farm. Of course I was late and Tom was already there in his fancy new tights with everything but the kitchen sink in front of him. His gf was helping him organize his pack and wiping his runny nose for him (haha not really).



After a quick discussion we were sent out on the first task which was to walk to the river fill a contractors bucket with water and then head up to the top of the mountain pour it out then find ten pieces of wood and cut it for the fire and then fill bucket with rocks and carry it 5 miles back down. I started out with Tom and a few other guys but I was going at a far slower pace from the bucket smacking me in my leg...told Tom to take off would see him later and then found myself alone. It was hard going with the bucket for me. I just could not keep it from smacking into my leg...as I type this I have yellow bruises all over both sides of my legs from moving the bucket back and forth between hands. Carrying buckets with half my body weight will be the toughest thing to adapt to come June. I realize it will just be mind of matter...zoning out and letting the pain just be accepted part of the whole process...the pain won't be there forever..once the race is over I don't have to pick up another fucking bucket if I don't want to ; ) haha when I am about 3 miles into the hike a girl comes running by and yells "I am one of you" I had no idea what she was talking about..she then went on to say a long string of information that I missed most of (she was a cute young thing but a bit of a fast talker; ) and then she ran off. Later I met up with her at the top..I guess she was there for camp but arrived late so she did not fill her bucket with water and may have been worried I would have thought she was cheating. Truth be known I would not have noticed or cared what she was doing as I don’t put any energy into what other people do with their training but just focus on what I need to get done. So once at the top I meet up with Tom and the two other guys getting ready to head down. A quick bit of silly banter with Tom and they are off. Tom said he would wait but I told him not to worry and just keep on moving. He offered up his axe and I said no which I regretted as mine sucks (note to self...need new axe). When the scrounging through prickers for wood and chopping up of said wood was done I filled bucket with rocks and headed down. After one mile of banging into already bruised legs I said f this and started to carry the bucket in my arms like I was carrying the groceries..I have strong biceps so it was a good choice and I was able to pick up the pace a good deal.



Once I got to the bottom I saw Jack and Andy and they shared that we would be putting a puzzle together next...so I hate puzzles..but turns out I hate cold water even more...and surprise surprise..Jack thought up this task of us standing in the pond with the puzzle on a piece of cardboard....I need to give the man kudos for this one ; ) I would have to put this together with Will who Andy grabbed and sent into the water with me. Will....such a cutie if I was like 20 something years younger ; ) I believe I was old enough to be his mother..he was a great sport and we were able to finish the puzzle of an Amazon wood frog I think in about 30 minutes. Needless to say I was shaking like a god damn leaf (and so was Will) I had crazy chapped lips and my woohoo was numb..good times...I got out and forced a hug on my new bff Will and headed to my car to change. Next task was to do 100 burpees, 100 sit ups, 100 lunges, 100 pushups and 100 jumping jacks. This is especially fun to do when your feet and legs are still numb from the cold. Once that was done I was sent back to the river to drop off my rocks. When I got back with my bucket I was sent back again to get enough rocks to build two columns high enough to lay my axe across and crawl under. Luckily I am 5'4" and 107 lbs..I needed like 6 rocks total...haha...Tom's gf told me to build mine over a divit in the earth which made it even easier to go under. Then back to the river to drop of the rocks and back to the start. We were then told we had to run the 10 mile loop and it was timed..I was psyched : ) yippee we could run without our packs...I grabbed my hand helds and took off...but not before I heard the time comment was a farce...haha they do mess with your mind. I loved that run..felt awesome was able to finish up doing 10 minute miles. I passed the other campers and then got back to the start. I was told there were a few more mental challenges we could do but I decided to take off as I am mentally challenged enough and I had a three hour ride home. Got home around 6:30 showered and headed to halfway cafe where I proceeded to down 3 bowls of popcorn and 10 chicken wings...and to think I was a vegetarian for 20 years up until like 9 months ago..haha...mommies day was sunday and I had to be a good daughter so off to sleep I went

I love camp...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Death Race Training

So Tom and I have decided to do the Death Race together.  We have been through a great deal since we first met.  We have had some amazing times together, but we have also worked our way through some really tough times.   We were not always so nice to one another.  Anger and accusations...hurt feelings.... but at the same time I learned a great deal about myself since I met Tom.  I realize so many things about myself and I am far happier.    I have regrets, but then again doesn't everyone?  The bottom line is we will have a blast at this race and will motivate one another to finish. 

Kevin and Julie will be our support.  I don't know how to begin to explain the comfort I have in those two backing us.  Julie has been with me throughout the last few months through a virtual universe and through phone calls with Kev.   Kev well what can I say.  He is steadfast in his friendship even when I run away and hide..he patiently waits for me to come out of my little hole in the ground and always forgives me my silliness.   What did I do to deserve such friendships?  I am blessed.  I have had many friends say they hope to stop by even my Mom said she wants to come and see : )

So now that we have agreed to commit to this race as a team we have decided to not leave one another's side.  One will finish with the other beside them...we will not let each other quit.  Tom understands why this is important to me and I understand why this is important to him.  There can't be failure...there can't be any regret.  It is not all seriousness with Tom and I..in fact our training is mostly baiting and teasing one another and calling each other nasty names ; ) For example Tom couldn't stop talking about his fricken weighted vest.  Seriously it was boarding on obsessive compulsive rain man like blathering.  I teased him mercilessly about it.  Tom kept sending me links from weightedvest.com or some such silly sight...and many jokes were txted back and forth about the fact that a weighted vest is not really that important a thing to have for training.

Last week we get the email from Matt Sorka about the final D.R. camp this coming weekend.  There is a list attached...note item number 7...are u joking....

-Water


-Food

-Ax

-Back pack

-Camel pack

-Change of clothing/ socks

-Weighted vest

-Trail shoes

-Head lamp

-A Smile

Of course Tom thought this v. funny....but not as funny as me running around between work outs on Saturday to find a weighted vest...haha just desserts Michelle...60 dollars poorer actually 79 as I bought some cool grips for carrying buckets for long distances without having to deal with the extreme pain of heavy wire bucket handles digging into the flesh of your palm.
 
So on to training.  I have been working with a trainer for a month or two.  Chris out of Gold's Marlboro.  He is an excellent motivator and we actually have a great time.  He pushed me to do a variety of things that will mimic some of the tasks at the Death Race.  I feel stronger.  I am not that happy with my weight loss.  I am down to 108- 107 at the end of the day and that is on a full stomach!  I eat very clean minus going out dinner most every night...
 
I am running in the morning and in the afternoon now.  2x a week either a morning interval on the treadmill or a trail run and then in the afternoon either a treadmill speed workout or trail run.   I have started a kind of run/dinner thing on Thursdays with my friend Scott who is training for his first ultra.  I like his pace and I like Carlisle where he usually trains.  I also like to grab dinner after or like last week make dinner and listen to music.  Again I am blessed with the people that come into my life.   I will also hit the gym an additional day or two for upper body and lower body.
 
So training schedule looks like this:
 
Monday:
Upper Body and recovery run
 
Tuesday:
Speed intervals (3 mi) on treadmill and trail run (5-8 mi)
 
Wednesday
Train with Chris
Treadmill with weighted vest
 
Thursday
Speed intervals
Legs & shoulders
or
Trail run 5-6 mi
 
Friday
Train with Chris
treadmill w weighted vest
 
Saturday & Sunday
Depending on whether or not I have a race I will do a gym workout one day total body low weight high reps and the other weekend day I will either run a race or train long with pack/vest/weight in hands/arms.
 
This weekend I did dbl gym on Saturday and Sunday I trained with Tom on the Wapack trail.  We headed out pretty early.  Tom had his new pack which we had bought at REI last week. It is the first pack he has ever owned...Tom Lee is no boyscout.  We hit the trails and did a great workout by the end my back and arms were sore as hell, but we both agreed after the fact we should ahve trained longer and harder but Tklee needed to spend time with his woman so we cut it short.  Monday morning I did intervals 3 mi 33 minutes at gym and then in the afternoon I had a tough recovery run with my friend Ken in Pisgah....omg it was a recovery day and I had run in the am.  It was a super fast pace along a very hilly rock and rooty single track trail in Pisgah in Northboro...it was awesome to be challenged as much as I was, but I will keep my runs with Ken for non recovery days. Tuesday a tough upper body work out and then 2 miles on treadmill with 20lb vest speed 3 elevation 15%....tonight train with Chris..2 miles on treadmill with vest after and then meeting a friend out for wings and Bruins.  Thursday hopefully train with Scott and Friday rest as this weekend is the DR camp and I plan on heading up after a doctors appointment Friday.  I am psyched....I know this will be the first taste of what the race will be like..even though I did the Winter DR Andy and Joe said that was far easier....Tom will meet me at the farm Saturday and we will motivate one another and I am sure bust each others balls : )  I joked that I plan on wearing my hot pants as there may be a cute guy or two running the course for McNaughton or at the camp....then again I will probably be too smelly, muddy and disheveled to garner a second look hot pants or not..