Race Report: Bull Run Run

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Better late than never, but there was this whole Disney fiasco… I mean, magic. I made some truly classic monumental mistakes, or as I like to call them – opportunities for enlightenment.

First, prepping for the race – I was more focused at the time on trying to escape the American dream, which I’ve been trying to do for the last 20 odd years (I do mean ‘odd’).

The only thing that was important to me was having Ganesh on my person (see pic). Ganesh is the god (small ‘g’) of overcoming challenges, the god of wisdom (body of a child that represents curiosity, Elephant head that represents ancient wisdom. Get it? Child seeking wisdom, as they are the most capable of doing so), and the god of new beginnings. (Honestly, if you are going to be a god you have to go after the big stuff, right?)

Problem was my Ganesh idol that I strapped on my wrist kept getting caught in the netting of my hydration pack. (If this doesn’t sound like a Tracy problem, then I don’t know what does.) But I did not care because it’s Ganesh, and this is one of the toughest races I’ve ever run (did someone say 7k of elevation?), and I was not going to let him go.

In my quest for ancient wisdom (failed… miserably), I forget to pack a change of clothes, fleece, head lamp, change of shoes… actually, I overlooked bringing the whole damn drop bag. I didn’t stop there, I forgot to get water before the start of the race. WATER. Seven something miles without WATER. At the beginning of a 50-mile race with lord-only-knows feet of elevation gain.

My amazing friend Marwa saved the day and gave me WATER, which leads me to lesson #2 – Marwa has way more friends than I do and she is way nicer than I am. Not that this is news to anyone. Plus, she had WATER.

While I have a funny habit of chanting in Sanskrit when the miles are dark, this time my private kirtan kept getting interrupted by Paranoid by Black Sabbath, playing in my head relentlessly in between riffs of the Hanuman Chalisa and the Gayatri mantra, both of which keep me sane during insane times.

But this is an insane time in my life, I’m moving on from broken-ness that I’ve been dragging along for the past 12 years. I’m selling my house and it is liberating while it is also painful. Sounds kinda like trail running to me, actually.

This has very little to do with the actual race, but I know there were some moments during the day that I knew where I was and what I was doing. The rest of the time, I was laughing inside at the cosmic joke that life is while chasing bliss.

As I was approaching the finish line, I saw my Wolfpack family (thank you, Wolfpack, thank you). I took a moment to find the quiet inside and then I found them – all of their bright beautiful shining faces – and began to rewrite the American dream just as I scored my big finish.

 

 

 

 

 

February Marathon Challenge

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Gifts from the Wolfpack – thank you!

 

My girl represented in the Arlington Science Focus School February Marathon Challenge, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Not because it’s running, but because she knows that I want her to run – and, be honest, what do you do when one of your parents wants you to do something? Exactly… the opposite.

She ran more than 26.2, which makes it an ultra marathon. And she did it smiling and laughing most of the time. And she spent lots of time on trail.

But what really impresses me the most is when she realizes the importance of dedication and commitment, as well as the positive benefits of genuine suffering. She may complain when she’s doing it, but afterwards she thanks me (usually). Or tells me how much she enjoyed the amazingly miserable experience. Since we speak our own private language, I totally get what she means.

Somewhere deep inside this girl is a very wise soul who can get anything she wants out of life. One of my many highlights of the month was her decision to climb a very steep section of trail at the end of a 9-mile tough technical trail run (there was a much easier route).

And of course the other highlight is the Wolfpack bRUNch party we had to celebrate her victory. She loves the Wolfpack as much as I do, and we really appreciate the gifts and encouragement and run love.

If she never runs again, but applies what she learns to whatever she wants to do – I will be one happy mama. But in the meantime, I get to savor her big finish.

 

Fastest Known Tracy Time

JFK 50 time in trail runner mag
I’m starting a new acronym – FKTT (fastest known Tracy time). So far, I’m the only one who cares. Up to this point, I have only been paying attention to my FKTT from my client’s office door to the capital crescent trail. But then I came across my fastest 50-mile time in this month’s Trail Runner Magazine. I’m sure this is supposed to mean something to me.

But the funny thing is, it’s six minutes faster than the 11:20 time that I thought I ran in the JFK-50 last November. So that means (for those as bad at math as me) my fastest 50-mile time is now 11:14, or my FKTT for the 50-mile.

And I’m wondering if I should start paying more attention, I shouldn’t be finding this out five months after the fact. As soon as the race ended, I was already onto new goals. Exciting finish but 5-minutes later it was totally over for me.

But then again, I love to run because of the journey. The big finish is awesome, but every step of the way is just as important in my mind. Yet there is a lesson here. What can I learn?

A few weeks ago, I ordered a running watch. A real running watch, that keeps like time and distance and other stuff that I don’t yet understand. It beeps at me but then doesn’t respond when I try to answer back. I recently figured out how to switch it from Russian language to English language – that was a good day.

I still bring my Timex (with the broken strap) to coaching sessions since I know how to work it. My trainee laughs at me, but I’m hoping he is at least entertained. He is close to reaching his goal of a 12:15 mile and a half to qualify for the police academy, so apparently the watch is working.

I ran Dickey Ridge with a few VHTRC guys a few weeks ago and when I mentioned my watch they jokingly balked at me for having a ‘fancy watch’… but since I don’t really know how to use it and I’m annoyed by the beeping more than anything, I don’t think their jokes apply to me.

Interestingly enough, I’m also in this month’s Trail Runner magazine for my Devil Dog 100k finish. And yes, I was wrong about my finishing time in that race as well. I’ve got so stinking much to learn.

Put words to it.

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This is my daughter. Earlier in the week, I taught her to take on tough uphill trails by running on tip toes and widening her stance to maintain balance. She doesn’t always listen, but this time she did.

I learned about soham at Yogaville – it is that – or hamso – that, it is. So, when in doubt – I put words to it. And it works for more than that – joy, sorrow, emptiness, love. Everything. Put words to it to add more meaning to the moments.

Put words to it: This is doubt. This is joy. This is sorrow. This is emptiness. This is love. Taking a moment to savor the moment.

Watching Josie grow is just like soham. If the moment isn’t savored, the moment will be lost. I don’t want her to be a runner because I’m a runner. I don’t want her to be a soccer player because her dad loves soccer. I want her to be her, and I want her to find whatever it is that fills her with joy.

After a week of the February Marathon Challenge, and nine miles of running tough trail – Josie had the choice of taking the easy trail or running straight up the hard trail (picture). She chose the hard trail, and I knew that regardless of who she is or who she becomes – this is my daughter. She is her own person, now and forever.

Eight miles to go in her February Marathon Challenge. Go, Josie, go.

 

February Marathon Challenge

Arlington Science Focus School has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged students and their families to run 26.2 next month. Since Josie officially has started training to pace me for one loop at the AEI 24-hour race in April, this is going to be a good ramp up for her.

She has her fitbit, new shoes, and a winning attitude! We also have been hard at work on a training schedule to keep things on the up-and-up. I am trying to introduce her to the importance of diversifying her workouts and adding strength training and cross training to the mix. (She’s heart broken that cross training doesn’t include remote lifts from the couch.)

My plan is to track her progress closely and tweak the plan as appropriate. But she is in the driver’s seat as with all of our training runs together, she takes the lead and she makes the call on speed, distance and nutrition. (We may have to stop every 1/2 mile for a nutella and cracker break, but still.)

So proud of my girl!

I am registered to participate as well, my goal is to do 200 miles in February so I’m pretty sure I got the marathon challenge in the bag, although I may not report all the miles to be fair. Either way, it’s a fun idea and great timing for what she’s aiming to do in April.

 

Devil Dog 100k: Trail people

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This was one big fat adventure of a race. Taking off pre-dawn to stand in a long line waiting to march across the ‘death bridge’ – a wooden bridge covered in thick ice. And the fun did not stop there; ice sheets and patches covered the majority of the trail on the first 23-mile loop. In effect, there were no easy giveaway miles to tick off, as-is typical of most ultra races.

But here’s the thing – I was not alone. Not then, not now, not ever.

I ran into old friends, good friends, new friends. We are all family on the trail. My quiet moments were quickly replaced by new opportunities to connect and expand my world.

I met (let’s-just-call-him-Sam): a former drug addict turned ultra trail runner with so many sex partners it made my head spin just hearing about his extracurricular activities. I met Joe: who was running his first 100-miler, we shared a strong conviction for our mutual race strategy of focusing on what is going right and problem solving to ameliorate what is going wrong and letting go of the rest. I met TJ: who had not really trained, but decided to go after 100k when his girlfriend signed him up for the race a month previously and called to tell him as he lounged on the couch. I met a trail angel from New Jersey who was scrapping his 100-mile attempt after the second loop (about 42 miles in) and let me share his headlamp to get me to the next aid station.

I met Mike: a runner who has been popping up in my races and training runs over the past few months and who inspires me, especially on this day as he fell down a steep embankment and stopped his fall with his trekking pole just before he fell into the water then bounced up as though he had just landed an impressive gymnastics routine. I met Ajani: who I connected with on Facebook after crossing paths with him during another race in which I was terribly lost and way off course, and we shared a few entertaining moments crawling across an ice-covered road on our hands and knees.

I met Kevin and Marwa, my support crew who got me cleaned up and back on the trail in short order; and Daisy, my amazing pacer who kept me on track, made me giggle and pulled me the last 19.5 miles; my Wolfpack family and friends who inspired me with their 100-mile finishes and supported me and fist-bumped me throughout the day; Alex, who wasn’t the RD this time but always makes me feel as though I am coming home to the trail out at PWFP; and Bob Gaylord who was responsible for getting me home the next day, without him it would have been ugly; and my family for supporting me no matter how crazy the dream or how absurd the motivation.

But the greatest person I met on the trail was waiting for me at the end. For as I approached the finish line in the darkest of nights a tiny voice called out, ‘Mommy,’ and I knew I was home.

 

 

 

Q&A: Terri Scadron

terriTerri Scadron ran the JFK-50 for the first time this year by scraping through each time cutoff with dreams of a big finish, and along the way she had the best PBJ she has ever tasted at the Weverton Cliffs aid station. Read on…

Why do you do it? I’ve had JFK-50 on my radar screen for many years, and finally decided I wasn’t getting any younger and might as well pull the trigger and give it a go.  When I trained for my first marathon in 2008, there was a guy in my program who was training for JFK, and I thought it was amazing that he did double long runs every weekend, when I could barely walk after my single long run.  I thought it would be super cool to get to that point.  Plus, I deeply coveted the JFK-50 car magnets that a few of my friends had.   

 

What is special about this race?Definitely, the history of this race distinguishes it from the many ultras that have cropped up over the years.  I find it fascinating that President John F. Kennedy set up 50 mile races all over the country, and this is the only surviving one.  I was a one-year old when the first JFK was run, in 1963. I don’t know of any other races that have lasted so long. 

 

How important is this race to you?I’ve only run JFK once, in 2016, and finishing it felt like a huge accomplishment because I knew it would be a stretch for me, given the strict time cut-offs.  It was incredibly tough, harder than I expected.  I’m not a strong trail runner, but I did complete three practice runs on the Appalachian Trail to get ready for JFK.  And even with that, I was dead last coming off the AT.  I know that, because while slowly picking my way down the Weverton Cliffs, I told the guy behind me to feel free to pass, and he responded, “No worries, I’m the race sweep.”  I only made the cut-off for the Antietam aid station, mile 27.3, by 8 minutes, and felt completely forlorn because I had trained so hard and didn’t think I had enough in the tank for 23 more miles.  But then a friend from my running club, Montgomery County Road Runners (MCRRC), jumped in for a stretch and got my head back in the game.  So much of this race is a mental battle, and I almost lost that.  Once I started believing, deep down, that I could finish, the race picked up for me.  I eventually caught up with some stragglers on the canal path, and saw more runners on the final stretch of road to the finish.  But the entire race was a fight to make the cut-offs and keep moving forward.  

 

Tell me about your big finish.  I made the 13 hour time limit with exactly 3 ½ minutes to spare, not a big comfort zone there.  I was pushing myself as hard as I could on the last mile because I knew I would DNF if I fell off pace, even for a little bit.  When the finish line was in sight, one of the volunteers said, “You’re good!  Honey, you could walk the rest of the way and get this done.”  I was ridiculously happy when I heard that! 

 

What is your favorite section and why?  The last mile or two of the canal path was peaceful – I was running alone watching the sunset, and I felt like I was making up some time.  But my favorite section was the last nine road miles, because most of the time cut-offs were behind me and I had finally caught up to some other runners.  I was also surprised how well my legs were working at that point. 

 

What is your favorite aid station and why?  My favorite aid station was the one at Weverton Cliffs, because I had survived the Appalachian Trail without injury.  That was the best tasting PBJ sandwich I’ve ever had.   

 

Tell me about the most interesting person you’ve met while running JFK-50.  Early in the race, I had a lovely chat with an older gentleman who had started JFK 10 times, and finished eight times. He was entertaining – relaxed and telling jokes along the early Appalachian Trail portion.  I saw him later on the canal path and he was walking and said he planned to drop out.  I hope he didn’t and finished!  

 

Who is your inspiration?My running idol is Michael Wardian because he runs every type of event – insanely tough trail ultras, road marathons, local 10Ks – without a break at an elite level, and seems to have a blast doing it.  Plus, he does a great job integrating his family into his running life.  I’m also inspired on a daily basis by my many friends with MCRRC who keep me going, year after year.  If I didn’t keep training hard, I literally couldn’t keep up with them.