Pineland Farms Trail Challenge - RR

I think I hate grass.

Not really, of course, but after finishing the Pineland Farms Trails Challenge this past weekend, I can honestly say that grass is incredibly hard to run on! It is vampirical in its ability to suck the life out of your legs. However, I am forced to admit that enormous open fields full of grass and dandelions are damned gorgeous. Stunning in their simplistic beauty.

The Pineland Farms Trail Challenge is a superbly run race. The course was well marked, the aid stations were many and the goodies were plentiful. The volunteers were second to none - incredibly helpful and upbeat, even while they stood in the blistering sun and heat for hours on end. The post-race festivities came complete with a BBQ, beer and some of the best tasting gelato ever to pass through my lips (hell, after 31 miles, even a dixie cup would have tasted like manna from heaven). And, to top it all off, I got a great T- shirt and a silver cowbell!

But what about my actual race, you ask? Eh.

Going into the race, I had thought to finish it in a little over 6 hours. In reality, it took me closer to 8. SLOWER than the LI Greenbelt Trail run. How this is possible, when the trails were wide and clear, and there were no horrendous climbs, I don't know. But that's how it all panned out. Granted, it's been ages since I did something even remotely close to being considered training. Additionally, I chose to hang back and run most of the race with a lovely runner from Georgia. But it was still a pitifully slow time.

It was by no means an easy course. Very deceptive - the trails are so smooth, they're road-like. But there was something about the constant hills, rolling up and down and up again, that was far more brutal than the psychotic rock scrambles I was confronted with at Bear Mountain. In the other trail races I've run (and admittedly, they're few), the time I lost climbing up was often balanced by long descents where I could let loose and fly downhill like a little kid. There were no such flights of fancy at Pinelands. On Sunday, it was more a matter of the hills I could slowly run up and the hills I chose to walk. When I was lucky, those hills had a corresponding down. But more often than not, it was just a small dip and then I was back on an uphill. Small, slight, but an uphill none the less.

In retrospect, I think I just took it too easily. I started off at a conservative pace, mindful of everyone's warnings about the hills and the fields, and then I just got slower and slower and slower. Gleefully meandering through the woods and across the fields of grass is great way to spend the day, but a poor way to race. While I know I'm capable of a better showing, I failed to bring it to the event. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost the ability to really push myself....instead falling into the trap of approaching everything as simply a new avenue of enjoyment and entertainment.

And enjoy myself, I did. But at some point I have to grab hold again and really perform - if for no other reason than to have a better selection of goodies at the post-race festivities!

Sock It To Me


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sock is a knitted or woven type of hosiery garment for enclosing the human foot. They are worn on the feet. Socks are designed to:
  • ease chafing between the foot and footwear,
  • keep the feet warm
  • provide comfort
  • be fashionable
  • keep the feet clean
Ah, the humble sock. How I do love thee.

Today, I went to the gym to run a few slow miles in my new sneakers. The plan was to run 2 -3 on the TM, and then meet up with a friend to chat on the elliptical. While still at the office, I had taken my normal (old) gym sneakers out of my bag, and replaced them with my new sneakers. I should note here that I generally stuff my socks into my sneakers for safekeeping.

As I made the switch, I looked at my WrightSock socks - stuffed into my old sneakers - and debated taking them to the gym. Nah, I decided - let's stick with the Injinji (toe socks) that I'll be wearing for my races (which are shoved in my new shoes).

Up in the locker room, I pulled my (new) sneakers out of my bag, and lo and behold - I have only ONE sock. A left sock, to be precise. Of course, I have a newly healed blister on my RIGHT foot.

Dilemma - go back to the office (around the corner) for a full set of socks, or run sans sock?

What do you think I chose??

Sock. (2008, May 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:35, May 21, 2008, from


As some of you may have realized, I have a tendency to over-extend myself. Case in point: I am currently in a race against time to use up dance classes and pilates sessions that will expire soon. As such, I have been doing nothing but moving one body part or another for the past two weeks. The end result - everything hurts, and nothing does what I want it to do. Plus, I'm spending entirely too much time out of the office, which translates to not enough money in my pocket. It may have been cheaper just to eat the classes and chalk it up to learning valuable time management skills.

Next up, the 7 Bikram yoga sessions that have already expired, but can be rolled over when I purchase another 5 class pack.

No, I don't ever learn ;)

LI Greenbelt Trail 50k - race report

Yesterday, to celebrate my 33rd birthday I chose to run a 50k trail race. 31 miles to commemorate 33 years (minus the two I don't look, of course). Seemed like such a good idea months ago when I planned it. Of course, life has a knack for getting in the way. Coming into the race I had all of 3 (yes, THREE) miles of running under my belt since April 24th.

But I had set my mind to running this race, and damned if I was going to back out simply because I was ill prepared! So, my alarm went off at 4 am and I headed out to Anthony's house to drive in with him and Wayne. Always nice to arrive in style (thanks Wayne!).

We arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare, picked up our bibs and tech T's and milled around catching up with the people we knew. As I'm still new to the sport, I had fewer people to catch up with than did Anthony and Wayne. Frank and Emmy were there running the 50k, as was Ed - a local runner from home who I'd convinced to give ultra running a shot.

After a short pre-race speech, we were off! The first two-ish miles were on pavement, and I quickly fell behind Anthony, Emmy and Frank. I ran most of the first 5 miles or so with Kim, a runner I'd met while scouting out the Bear Mountain/Harriman trails this winter. She quickly pushed ahead (she's much more talented a trail runner than I am), and I continued on with the rest of the pack surrounding me. Slowly but surely I wound up traversing much of the course alone.

Trail running is still very new to me. My first ultra was on a trail down in Delaware - a 3 mile loop that was relatively flat. The next time I laced up my trail runners was to scout out the trails at Bear Mountain (my third 50k), and that terrain can only be described as beautiful and sadistic. On Saturday, the Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k marked my 4th ultra distance run, and the third on trails.

The Greenbelt trail was quite different than Bear Mountain. My first impression was that it was a piece of cake. The first 7 miles were pretty runnable - flat and descending portions interspersed with some manageable climbs. The last mile before the turn around however, was merciless. The climbs were steep hills stepped with stairs - with my itty bitty legs, it was quite a feat climbing up them. It seemed cruel that you conquered them only to turn around and face them again in the opposite direction. It was at this point that I realized that this course was, in some ways, more difficult that Bear Mountain.

There was little, if any, of Bear Mountain that I found to be runnable. The Greenbelt trail, however, was chock full of easier sections. Therein lay the difficulty - because so much of it was runnable, I felt compelled to run. But those climbs left me so exhausted that my running was slowed to a fraction of my normal speed. Wanting to run faster and being unable to is frustrating, to say the least. In addition, the sheer idiocy of the Bear Mountain course was a great distraction from the difficult task at hand. While the climbs were tough at Greenbelt, there was little to divert my attention from the miles still ahead.

As I began to cross paths with the 25k racers, I lamented my decision to register for the longer distance. Especially when they passed me again on their way to the finish (nothing like someone starting an hour after you and still managing to beat you to the punch). Then I remembered why I had gotten out of my nice, warm bed. 31 miles for 33 years.

The second loop was far more comfortable. The nagging pain I'd felt in my left knee (steep uphills = steep downhills) had subsided, and I relaxed into an easy rhythm. I attacked the flats and descents with as much aggression as I could muster, hoping to make up for the time I knew I'd lose on those nasty climbs. I enjoyed seeing everyone on the trails (of course, they were all on their way to the finish as I was heading to the turnaround), and refueling at Scott and Lisa's aid station (so great to have such friendly faces volunteering). I picked up a stick and reveled in the beauty of my surroundings.

And made a wrong turn.

Got back on track. Frolicked in the woods. Communed with nature. Felt the wind caress my face and the ground fly beneath my feet.

And made another wrong turn.

4 miles from the finish and I had just lost close to 20 minutes going in the wrong direction and then backtracking to pick up the trail again (not to mention allowing two runners to slip in front of me in the process). As I hit the correct trail once again, I met up with the back of the pack and went into overdrive. I spent the remaining 3 miles putting as much space between us as I could (all the while paranoid that I was going in the wrong direction). As I exited the woods the volunteer directed me to make a left on the road and then a left at the light and I'd be at the finish. This would have to be the worst marked portion of the course. I had NO idea where I was going (it was about 6:30 am when we drove in, and I didn't pay any attention at the start of the race when we ran from the LIRRC clubhouse). I was convinced that I was going to have to call Anthony and tell him that I was lost trying to find the finish :) Luckily, I was in the right place, and crossed the finish line in 7:52:12. Emmy, Frank, Anthony and Wayne had finished long before, as had Ed (who will probably never forgive me for suggesting he run this).

Apparently there was beer there, but somehow I missed it :( Ah well, next time.

All in all, it turned out to be a great day. Aside from my typical sausage fingers, I managed to avoid feeling ill, and didn't bloat up like Bear Mountain. While my legs were beat up from close to 8 hours of running, they never stopped moving and did me proud. I steered clear of the negative mental self-talk that had plagued me at Bear Mountain as well, maintaining good spirits throughout the race - always having a ready smile and a pleasant greeting for the multitudes of faster runners blowing by me.

The highlight of my day was at the finish - I was mulling around, and a gentleman pulled me aside. He told me (and please forgive my awful paraphrasing here) that of everyone he'd passed along the course, I'd had the easiest running form. He went on to tell me that every time he saw me I looked balanced, upright and at ease, and that seeing me made him feel better.

31 miles for 33 years.

Happy Birthday to me.

Tick Tock

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At approximately 5:45 pm on Friday May 9th, 1975 I entered the world in all my red, chapped glory. I was two weeks late, and all of my baby pictures are complete with band-aids on my wrists and ankles.

Sunday, May 11th was my Mom's very first Mother's Day, making this a very special weekend all around.

And while my parents have always threatened to return me to the Salvation Army, (luckily for me) they never made good on it :)

For as much as I like to complain about the things in my life that aren't going as I'd planned, the scale really is tipped in my favor.

Practice Makes Perfect?

How (not) to train for the Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k:
  1. Run a 50k on April 12th, and then run a total of 12 miles the remainder of the month.
  2. Go on vacation from April 28th through May 4th.
  3. Cease all purposeful physical activity during above vacation, while increasing (ever so slightly) caloric consumption.
This should be interesting...