Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oil Creek-my mistakes to fuel the fire, my season is over.

     Well, I didn't strike oil this year, but it was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had.  First, I cannot even begin to say enough good things about this race. It was so well organized, and there was never a doubt about being lost on the course, or missing any turns. The pink reflective flags illuminated the entire way and kept us moving through the wee hours of the night.
    I could not imagine a better experience.  I met great people along the way, had my parents and partner crewing me, and my brother pacing-it was truly a fantastic experience.  The course was an amazing 50k loop.  No matter how many times I read and re-read the course description it was certainly more technical than I was expecting.  It had a bit of everything to offer-single track, mud, gravel, good climbs, and rocks and roots.  Tom Jennings is an amazing race director with an amazing race, the volunteers are just as amazing.
      I could go into a full write up on the time I spent on the trails, but that's for me to keep and use to fuel me for next year.  I'm already counting down the days until registration.  I know I need to get more dense calories in, take care of blisters when they first pop up, and keep re-applying body glide.  Rookie mistakes, all of which I am ready to keep in mind for next year.  I honestly cannot wait.  I keep planning and re-planning my race schedule for next year.  I love the planning, the building of a plan to culminate in Oil Creek again...adding longer races and planning on keeping them in the schedule just continues to open more and more race opportunities to explore.  I love running, I love trial running, and I love that deep down burning pain that makes you figure out how your brain keeps your body moving.  I can't wait to get back into it!
       This year was a good running year; I took on two new race distances, had  a new personal best in the 50k distance and still came out ready for another year of running.  In the past year I have dropped almost an hour from my 50k time.  I want to keep dropping those minutes this season; same goes for my 50 mile time; and that 100...that will be mine.
       I am taking time off from a running schedule to give myself a break and focus on strength training.  My only miles until January will be through my part time job as a dog runner.  It'll be about 15 miles a week, and that sounds pretty good to me.
    I admit I'm looking forward to the changing season, I love cold weather running gear, and plan on posting plenty of reviews.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oil Creek. Less than a week until my first 100 attempt.

     To say that I'm nervous would be an understatement.  I have been having dreams about running a 100 miler almost every night.  In one dream I was at an aid station trying to change my socks, but every pair just kept ripping in half and I couldn't find any more to put on.
     I feel quite guilty with the time and thinking that the lead up to this race has consumed.  I know that there are pieces of my life and day that have suffered.  My goal is to return to those aspects and rebuild them better than before, refocus my attention on the things I've been putting off changing.
     But...until then, the race.   I ran my first ultra, a 50k in 2008.  During my training and lead up to it, I decided my five year goal would be to run 100.  I was fascinated with the people that ran them, the community that surrounded them, and everything in between.  In my mind I made a deal to do it...three or five years I'd think.  The next year, I stopped running.  I'm not quite sure why I stopped, but I did very shortly after that first 50k.
      I decided to let other parts of my life take precedent and would occasionally still run, but without a goal in  mind...the kind of running that is really just wandering around the neighborhood at a slightly faster pace.  I wandered to see the area, get some exercise and just get out of the house for a bit.  Somewhere in all that wandering I decided to run another 50k.  I ran and trained and amazingly crossed the finish line in the exact same time I had finished my first.  Then I ran another...and another.
      In the last race of the season, I managed to drop 43 minutes from my fastest 50k.  It was a good way to end the season.  Shortly after I met my running partner.  I made the decision to up my run distance and try out a 50..I had registered for one in the past, but do to work obligations was unable to be at the start.  We had talked about the 100 and Oil Creek and distances in between.  He was training for a 100 and I jumped into the training with him.
      I volunteered that day for his race, the same day registration for Oil Creek took place.  I watched a lot of people drop out, the cold took down many...but something about making grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for the runnners' in the middle of the night caught up with me again.
     I went home and registered for the 100.  I trained hard all summer, running two 50 milers (my first 50) and another 50k (dropping another 11 minutes off my time).  The 50k happened to be the very same race where I ran my first 50k.  It was on the drive home that I realized, low and behold, my five year goal to run a 100 was indeed coming true.
   Now, four days out....all I have to do is get there.  My bib number has been assigned, my gear has been packed, and plans have been laid out.  In two days we hop in the car and head across the state.  I four days, I will toe the line and find out what I'm made of.
   For me, it's not just about covering the distance within the cut off.  It's about accomplishing something I set out to do a long time ago.  It's proving that I can succeed when I put my mind and effort into something.  Whether I cross that finish line on Sunday morning or not...I got myself to the start, and am fulfilling a goal I set out.  That is what I will take through the race, and into those things that I have let fall to the side.
  No matter what happens, I feel like I will leave the trails a different person.  Fingers crossed for good weather, a good stomach, strong legs, and a good mindset. I can't wait to find out what's on the other side.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 Review

Oh it has been a little longer than I was hoping between posts...but I suppose every now and again life seems to get in the way of perfect planning.
   Anyhoo..it has been quite a busy few weeks!!  I have been trying out some new shoes and wanted to share.  As I have not hidden in the past, I love my Rogue Flys, but I find wearing them too often on the road just wears down the lug too much, so I went in search of something new.  Enter the Pearl Izumi EM Road N2...yes I know it says trail review...I'll get to that.
   I had a pair of PI's a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't like them, but watching some of the big names in ultrarunning lacing up to new emotion series caught my attention.
From Derrick Lytle Media. TO rocking the N1
Pearl Izumi Facebook photo credit. Mike Wolfe on JMT FKT
 Timmy Olsen runs in PI, Mike Wolfe finished his FKT in PI, and Nick Clark is always out and about in the PI's.  What the hell...so I read a few reviews and decided on the N2-a 4 mm drop, well cushioned shoe.  I just wasn't ready to go for the zero drop; and with an intro from the Pearl website like this, how could I resist:
                              "Your one-shoe quiver, the Project E:Motion Road N2
                                       is the perfect balance of light and fast with  just enough                          
                                     cushioning and durability to provide the maximum confidence 
                                     you need to go the distance."

Any shoe that claims to be the one shoe quiver deserves a few miles so I placed my order. I went with a size 8 in the Cherry Tomato/Blue...I just love the flashy color combos PI offers, it makes heading out the door that much more fun.  Anyway...flash forward to lacing up these beauties and heading out the door.  They felt so good out of the box I ran 15 miles and promptly went home and order the trail N2.  Ok so hear goes the review I promised.

Pearl Izumi started the EMotion series this spring.  They make a road, trail and tri shoe.  Each shoe category offer a 0mm neutral (N1) a 4mm neutral  (N2) a light stability (M2/M3) and moderate stability (H3).  The idea behind the series is the dynamic offset of the shoe to provide a smooth ride. For the best explanation i highly recommend going here because in all honesty, I couldn't really do that justice.

fresh fresh fresh.
   The shoe is certainly lighter than it looks.  At 9.2oz in a women's 8 it rivals many shoes in that light to mid-weight category.  The seamless upper material is stretchy but comfortable. The overlays are not restricting, but still keep your foot comfortably over the base of the shoe. In the past I have had blister problems on the tips of my toes...I ran a 50k in these this past weekend and didn't get a single toe blister...boom!  The heel and mid foot and slightly more narrow, really locking your foot in place so even on the steepest of downhills, there was no sliding.  The toe box is roomy, but not overly wide so you don't slip and slide all over..this shoe just has the right balance for the long run.
 

The traction on this shoe is solid.  It climbs well in rooty, rocky and gravely trails.  I have yet to hit a muddy uphill, by my guess is that it would still fair quite well.  The transition into single track, leaf covered trail, and wet mucky grass was solid, no slipping issues. During the race this weekend there was a hill with a 15.5% incline, and as the saying goes, "what goes up must come down."  I slid just a bit on the really steep rocky down hill, but to be honest I don't think any shoe would have taken the hill without slipping, but it was something I noted to myself during the race.



Bubble laces, that lock.
The other glorious piece in this shoe is the lace.  There are plenty of companies that add a bubble lace in order to prevent them from coming untied..but these nail it.  The lace is a bit thicker and softer so they really lace together tightly and stay that way.  The tongue, which is also the same soft material as the rest of the upper, keeps the knot from the lace off your foot so there were no pressure points or hot spots.  It also has two lace locks sewn into it so it keeps the laces from shifting, also preventing hot spots.


Cushy mid foot

While the shoe offers a 4mm offset, the mid sole clearly isn't the thin layer that many other companies use.  The shoe has a soft cushion feel under foot, but doesn't loose the ground feel so you can still get a solid foot plant and be sure you're not going to lose it.  There is a fused rock plate under the mid foot, so even the rocky sections don't make your feet turn to hamburger like other shoes I've tried.  The PI site says that the mid foot is a combination foam for shock  absorbing and energy return.  While it does indeed reduce shock and therefore fatigue over time, the energy return isn't quite as noticeable throughout.  It was more obvious on hard pack or concrete, which makes sense since you do need an opposite force to create return ( maybe??)

In my opinion Pearl Izumi nailed this shoe.  As of right now I'm planning on running the hundred in them.  The only other combo I"m considering is to start in the Montrail Rogue Fly and switch out to these for a smoother ride over night.  I can see why the big guns are sticking with this shoe.  Well done.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Montrail Rogue Fly Review

I feel that I have given these shoes more than a run for the money and after a year of running and racing in them, have a pretty fair opinion on how they perform.


A Fresh Pair.


Out of the box, the Rogue Fly weighs in at 6.4 oz.  Although many websites categorize this shoe as "minimalist"  by the true definition it is not.  The stack height, or heel to to differential is 10mm, although it is built on a slightly lower platform than some of their other models.  The reason it is often called minimal is due to the material in the upper of the shoe.  There are no fancy overlays, it is essentially two mesh sides and the tongue.  Even the lace is a lighter stripped down material from their other shoes.

The shoe excels at drying fast after stream or creek crossings , and certainly keeps your feet a bit cooler on hot days.  At first I was a bit worried about the mesh stretching and causing my foot to shift around over the midfoot platform on uneven surfaces, but after going through more than four pairs, I have yet to see that as being an issue.  The midfoot and heel hug your foot very comfortably and a roomy toe box leaves plenty of breathing room.  I have had some blister issues with the tips of my toes rubbing on the front of the shoe, however, even during a 50 mile race, it never felt painful since the meshy upper is so soft.  

In all honesty though, the only shoe I have run and raced in where I didn't experience much in the way of blisters was the old Montrail Hardrock...and since that doesn't seem to ever be making a comeback, I honestly wouldn't call this a huge complaint.  More than anything, when I slip this shoe on, I feel like it was made for my foot.

The "multi directional" lug pattern is the same that Montrail uses in the Rogue Racer, a heavier revision of the Rogue Fly.   It handles loose rock, packed trail, and even mud quite well.  In really muddy conditions, as with most other shoes, it does get a slippery, so something like the Bajada, with a deeper lug would do a bit better.  I went so far as to wear this as my road shoe, as I have had some difficulty finding other shoes I like as much.  I ran a road marathon, and did all of my training miles in this shoe.  It held up wonderfully, and since then I have seen a few others racing in this shoe.


The midfoot is soft enough for the road, but handles trail surfaces well.  It has enough cushion to stand up to 50 miles of running with no issue.  I have a few pairs with more than 400 miles on them, and they do lose their spring like any other.  I am interested in trying out some of the fluid foam line that Montrail has out, as they tout a longer lasting midsole with the new material.  

One complaint that I see frequently with this shoe, is that it has the 10mm heel to toe differential.  Although it does very well with that, I think more people would take a serious look at this shoe if it went with an 8mm drop.  Enough to keep a solid base under foot for long runs and races, but a lower setting to appeal to a more minimalist crowd; an 18mm heel platform to 10mm midfoot could be a great combo.  Still leaes cushion for a longer ride, while adding just a bit under the midfoot to prevent any bruising from sharp rocks (there is no rock plate in this shoe.)


The Rogue Flyis a fast moving shoe, and has become my go to shoe for anything from 5k, 50k to 50 miler.  I have my first 100 mile race coming up this fall, and plan to ear this shoe for the first 40-60 miles and switch into a heavier shoe for the remainder.  I am a tried and true fan of this shoe, and will continue to train and race in it. 

When I first ordered the shoe, I went with my typical 7.5, and went through more than a few pairs in that size.  For the 50, I did order an 8, and was very glad I did.  On a course with a good bit of descending I would recommend doing so.

I am definitely a big fan of what Montrail is putting out, and would love to try out a few other shoes from their line.  If you are looking for a light weight, fast shoe look no further.  They've done a great job with the Rogue Fly, and it's worth taking them for a spin.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Taming the Wildcat- the best and worst race rolled into one.

  I don't even know if it's fair to say I tamed the Wildcat--yes, I was the first and only female finisher this race has had thus far--but his was the most mentally challenging race I have ever been to; to be honest, it tamed me-humbled is a better word actually.  The course is brutal and unrelenting. By lap three, your feet just feel like ground meat from all the rocks and they never seem to end. I went out to get one last long run in before Oil Creek, that's what I did; it wasn't speed that got me the win, it was perseverance.
     The course was a 10 mile loop, each with around 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  The loop was a mix of atv trails, single track, and rocks...tons of rocks.  This is the type of course where you can't afford to take your eyes off the ground because you'll trip, there are that many rocks.
     The first three miles are quite runnable, especially once the knee-high grass was trampled. There was a beautiful Hawk Watch around mile 3.5 and due to the clear weather, you could see for miles. The first aid station was at mile 4 and, unfortunately, we were directed the wrong way on that first loop and ran an extra 2 miles.  Once we realized what happened, we got back in the right direction and into the second half of the course--the technical single track. The climbs began from here along with the rocks.  There were sections where you couldn't run, you had to hike due to the amount of rocks.  The head-sized rocks were peppered through most of the single track, so bounding would be a more suitable way to describe the method of getting around them. The river crossings were rock jumping sections and as the laps accumulated, the jumping became more nerve-wracking.  There were sections that stretched 15 yards of rock jumping and the climb to the aid station at mile 7 was a 20 foot uphill rock face.  From 7 on you knew you were in for more level terrain, but it was covered in smaller rocks...the type that you just can't get away from and those that just make your feet feel like ground meat.
     There were about 17 people attempting distances between 50 miles and 100k; three for the 100k, the rest for the 50.  Rick went through the course description and made sure we knew we were following blue ribbons this year.
Photo by Otto Lam. RD Rick describing the course.

   We set off promptly at 6am, the sun just rising over the tree line.  I felt pretty good, and just settled in to a comfortable pace that would get me to the end of the day.  Since there were so few of us, we started to spread out and I realized I was lead women in the very small field. So this is what it feels like? Wouldn't it be cool to win a race? Oh crap I must be going too fast!  All the fun things going through my head, but we kept right on moving.  After the first aid station about seven of us were directed the wrong way, resulting in an extra two miles. I think the extra miles weighed heavily on some people and they just couldn't bounce back mentally from there. We got back on track and continued moving through the trails; constant rocky ups and downs.  There were boulders to scramble over and downed trees to climb over--jumping from branch to branch to branch and then having to swing from and drop back to the dirt.  The river crossing was just a series of boulder hopping, regaining your balance after each leap along the way.  There was a slight reprieve from the up and down from mile 6.5 to the aid station at 7;  rocky double track led up to the dam by splitrock reservoir and then from there it was a 20 foot uphill rock climb to the aid station.
The climb to as #7. Photo from Otto Lam
    After the aid station, the course ran across the dam, up a jeep road, and dipped back into the woods.  It was rocky, windy double track with a few board bridge crossings.  We popped back out of the woods at the first aid station and headed down the same road which we had incorrectly been down before.  I knew the rocky path and took off again, this time moving faster once I hit the road.  I followed the bright orange arrows until I saw more blue flags leading back in the woods.  From here, you could just see the school bus parking lot through the trees that meant the end of the loop was near.  Power through the last bit and a bottle refill and a snack was in store!
     With each lap my feet felt more and more battered.  My legs felt fantastic, which became frustrating since they wanted to move and my feet wouldn't let them, and my mind was going south.   I had blisters forming on the balls of my feet, and I just pictured the course and hated the idea of another lap. The water bottle in my race vest was digging into my ribs and I couldn't stop shifting the vest to relieve it--this is the first time I have had an issue with the vest.  My solution is going to be to use a Hydrapak 8oz. flask. I ran for a bit with a guy running the 100k.  Our minds were in the same low place.  The doubt crept in and neither of us thought we would ever be able to run our upcoming 100 if this is how we were feeling.  We had secretly been writing our letters to the 100 mile race directors pulling ourselves out of the events.  We parted ways with both of us anticipating a drop for the day. This course is just tough.
    While slowly running, I made a call to Heather and told her how I was feeling.  I was still leading, although probably not by much anymore, felt amazing physically, and was ready to quit.  When I hit the road section I started walking.  I thought maybe if I walked slow enough I could get my bib pulled by not making the 5pm cut off (you must start your last lap before 5pm).  Would I regret my first DNF? Would I ever get a chance to possibly win a race again?  I was nervous at the thought of being alone for another lap.
     I started running again and came in the start/finish area with about 20 minutes to decide.  I was greeted by a few folks still hanging out.  I grabbed some food and told a friend I was struggling mentally.  She asked if a beer would help and at that moment I couldn't think of anything better.  I said I may need to take her up on it, but needed a second to think.  My feet wanted to fall off and run away.  It was the most frustrated I have ever felt; my body felt good, and I knew I had it in me, but I felt frustrated with the pace I was keeping because of my feet and my mind was letting this drag me down more.
  Friend:  "Why don't you ask Rick what place you're in and decide from there?" Me:  "I'm leading...somehow I'm leading."  She picked up my water bottle, refilled it, and pushed it back into my hand. "You are under the cut off, you're winning, and Matt (my running partner) might never let you live it down, get going."  There was one more runner heading out for his last lap and we took off together.  While it was the mental game I was struggling with, he was having a hard time physically.  His legs didn't want to move and he was moving at a slow hike.  I decided since it would be getting dark soon, and we very well may be the last ones out on the course, that I wouldn't leave him.  We spent the next couple of hours chatting about family, races, work, and another else to keep our minds off whatever it was that was bothering us.
   There is nothing like the camaraderie and conversation found in an ultra.  It is the reason most of us run and race, no question.  As we made our way toward the last aid station, now two jugs of water awaiting our arrival, I said I was planning to run the last two miles.  Since we were getting close on time, I wanted to pass along my watch and make sure he too made it.  He said he was fine without it--"go get the win."  I took off moving as fast as my blistery, rock-filled, hamburger feet would go and finished with 5 minutes to spare.  It was certainly not speed that helped me cross that damn line, it was sheer determination.  I finished as first female, as well as only female to have completed the 50 mile distance in this two-year-old race. I got a half can of ginger ale at the finish, hopped in the car as we all packed up, and headed home.  I couldn't wait to eat something and see Heather!  I got home and made fried eggs, bacon, and toast with jelly--amazing!!
   I maintained my goal going into this race: just get the distance in.  The important part was getting the mileage in for Oil Creek.  I suppose the win was an added bonus.  I don't really feel like I deserve it, but I certainly like the idea of a 100% on ultra signup.
  The next morning I woke up excited for Oil Creek and I felt more confident about the 100 than I had been. The mental struggle from the day before, although frustrating, made me feel like I had overcome the tough part.  I had spent more time on feet than ever before and as frustrating as it had been during that course, it was a positive boost thinking ahead to a much longer race.
   Recovery was great.  I wasn't sore the next day and given how slow I was moving all day, I'm not shocked. I ended up with some slight bruising from the race vest, but nothing terrible. The rock in my shoe ended up turning into a half-dollar-sized blister on the ball of my left foot. Once that was drained, along with a small one on the tip of my toe, my feet felt like new. I experienced the worst chafing I could imagine.  I can only say it felt like I had a cactus in my butt cheeks.  Even that heals, and you start to forget some of the bad parts; I'm excited and hopeful looking toward Oil Creek.  I learn something new with each run, and with every finish line crossed there is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. Whether a good race, a bad race or just something in between no one can take away the hard work and the outcome.
     

Whether hiking, running, or racing-go get some miles.

Race day wears:

Montrail Bajada
Swiftwick Performance One
Inov8 Gaiters
Ultimate Dircetion Ak Vest
Pearl Izumi Ultra Shorts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Running vs. Racing

Running vs. Racing -- This has been something I have been struggling with for quite some time and until you figure it out, the balance is difficult to find.  I think you can't find one without the other in the end, however.

Running an ultra is totally possible for most people.  What, you say?  It's about staying well within your comfort zone, never pushing the boundary or your pain threshold.  With good training, this is a very doable feat for a good many people that are willing to put in the effort. Walk a little, run a little and you will find the finish line.

Racing an ultra--this is a different matter entirely. Although I imagine there are bouts of comfortable miles, pushing the red line and learning where the pain threshold exists and how to play on that boundary to keep you moving without blowing up is where the race really comes from.  It's a delicate balance to figure out and not something done in just one to two races.

I need to learn how to race.  I want to be more competitive and there is no other way to do it than learn to push that red line.  While this season has been about increasing my distances and learning what race lengths I really enjoy, I want to push that line next year.  I want to understand what it means to push and to race instead of just running.  The sense of accomplishment for me is no less one way or another, but I find myself walking away knowing I could have given more and that I find very frustrating.

The idea of a DNF is frustrating for me, but I think it's something that potentially goes hand in hand with learning how to push. You can't find your limit if you don't blow up at some point.  It is also very important to understand that the physical is only one part of the race.  Just like accepting a DNF in trying out boundaries, there is a HUGE mental aspect to training, running, and racing.

The hardest part of breaking the running vs. racing line is the mental aspect.  To keep telling your body to move and push hard when you're in pain in nowhere near easy.  You have to be mentally tough to keep pushing.  Many people say that running an ultra is 90% mental and the rest is in your head.  It makes sense for those racing and pushing.  You will hit a point when your body just wants to stop and you have to figure out how to keep it moving. Mental training is just as important as physical, it's just more difficult to figure out. This is a great quote from Pam Smith, the ultimate underdog going into this year's Western States--

                "I don’t know what to say about this one, because I am still uncertain how to achieve
                 that state where you absolutely believe in yourself, but for some reason I believed that
                 I could win going into this one. Whether you call it confidence, self-delusion, or arrogance,
                 I think the mental state is important... This principle applies no matter what your goal is, whether 
                      that means a particular finishing time or just finishing at all. You have to believe your goals are achievable."
                                                                                -From"How the West(ern) Was Won, iRunfar.com

I am excited to gain a better understanding of the mental push.  I think that my run at Oil Creek 100 this year will be a great window into what my mind and body have and how they can work together.  Yes, I did call it a run and not a race.  I am testing the limits in a 100 mile event, but this is not a place to find my red line. This is the place to lay it out and find out what my body and mind have. I will come out with a deep understanding of what my body has and what my mind has. I don't think this is something necessarily learned  in the 50k or 50 mile distance.

I am going in with a strategic and well-planned-out binder.  I have goal times for aid stations and food/need lists for crew at each station.  My plan is to bank some time early on and plan for a rough night.  I don't have a pacer lined up yet--mine ended up having work booked and will be unable to make it now.   I am hoping for a sub 28 hour finish.  OC is a rough course.  I have been checking finishing times, race stats, and comparing my previous times to get an idea of where I fit in.

I would be kidding you if I said this wasn't consuming a great deal of my daily thinking.  I visualize the hurt, the pain, and the pushing myself to move.  I picture the finish line, the feeling of relief mixed in with the heaviness of my legs at night.  I just have to make sure to get it to all to come together.  In learning how to push through the voices telling me to stop and my legs just wanting to give up--understanding my body and mind better--I believe that I will be able to go into next season prepared to race. I will have an understanding and awareness of my physical and mental strengths and weaknesses.

It is through running the miles, running the races, and challenging what we think is possible that we will ultimately learn how to race.  Bring it on.

Go get some miles--and throw a few extra on.  It may surprise you to know you can do it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Short, sweet and working on focused.

A race always helps ease the mind.  I've said it before, throwing in a short race to your schedule is great for racing mental health.  It lets you know how your muscles recover and how well your head is in it.

I ran the Quadzilla 15k again this year and enjoyed it as much as last year.  The weather was completely different and we had race morning temps already in the high 80's with 80% humidity.  Despite that, I was able to get my mind a little more into it and dropped three minutes from my time last year.  Although I enjoyed the drop in time and a finish in the top 20 women, I realized that I need to improve my mental running game.  I let myself walk more hills than I should and I can rationalize it by thinking ahead to my week in training, to how many miles are left in the race, to not wanting to suffer too much....it all does me no good. If I am going to continue to pursue racing more competitively, I am going to need to learn how to race and how to let myself hurt.

I am still struggling with the mileage.  I am averaging about 35 miles a week and although in general the running feels decent, I know I need to focus on getting my in.  I need to sleep better and longer or those things are going to add up and kill the rest of my season. I know I have a good solid base under my legs, but getting the mileage, the sleep, the eating all under control lends itself to a much stronger mental edge before toeing any start line.  I will start this next month recharged and focused on the mental side of things...getting my head back over my legs.  I will work on my race binder for Oil Creek to keep my head in the long term plan.

I read that it's your legs that get you through the first half of a 100 miler and your head in the second. My head needs to get in the game as much as my legs.  I am running into a new month with a stronger focus and plan of action.  My legs and my head are racing together, so they damn well better get training together.