Monday, May 28, 2012

what goes down apparently comes back up

aka: the pineland farms 25k trail race
(no i didnt throw up... well almost, twice... )

but what im talking about is HILLS. yes, we've all heard the saying "what goes up must go down" and im sure i've repeated it many times over the course of my many running adventures to remind me. all those damn uphill climbs in various road races we all felt would never end but eventually had us cruising down down down weeeeeeeee! sweet relief.

yesterdays race was nothing like anything i have ever done before. im a road runner. i havent trained on trails. i ran on a patch of grass/field for the triathlon a few weeks ago and swore it was the worst .25 miles of the entire race. good thing i knew little to nothing about pineland before the cowbell rang signaling us to enjoy the next 25k of those grassy fields. barf.

but lets back track a bit, shall we? how did we end up here to begin with? oh yeah, right. my idea. and i convinced sara (kicking and screaming, obviously) to join me in the madness. this is what true friends are for (doing stupid stuff together, cuz then it makes more sense and makes you look less like the crazy one). we both super heart races ON PAVED ROADS. but why not try this seemingly fun looking race once, see what the hype about these trails is all about....

you know you convinced someone real quick when
their numbers are this close to yours...
(read: it didnt take much convincing. especially when theres beer at the end. shocking)

strategically pinning race bib

after a warm up mile with sean, we said our final goodbyes (you know, incase something real bad happened out in those woods) and headed to the start line. as we were posing for photos stretching and awaiting the start, andy finally showed up to wish us good luck!

andy photo bomb!
(hard to see since my mom didnt zoom)

they reviewed the rules (which we didnt listen to), we cheered for a couple coming through the chute for their next loop... it was bethany & ryan! (who i sadly couldnt find at the end since they were running the 50 miler somewhere in the woods, but they looked so patriotic!! and happy anniversary!!), and then they rang the cowbell to send us on our way. no turning back now!

like i was saying, what goes down apparently comes back up... cuz we went down, down, down (weeeeeeeeee so fasssssssssst) for what seemed like miles (in all reality it was maybe a mile). and then we went up. and oh hi, up again.around a corner... you guessed it. UP. the woods/rocks/trees/trails/SHADE were great... open fields/grass not so much. i pretty much decided from the first field run that i would have rather dealt with a zombie apocolypse than run through any more fields. (i also would have run faster than 10 min miles if zombies were chasing me). luckily there were about 18 more times we ran through these damn fields. needless to say i was really loving my decision to do this race within about 7 minutes of starting.

slugging past the pony club?!?

"i am NEVER EVER doing this again. EVER!!"
(please note i didnt give andy the finger since im nice)

shortly after seeing andy there and exclaiming my true hatred towards all things trail running, i came upon the first aid station. water (filled my handheld and threw two cups down my back), gatorade (it was yellow... i only drink purple, so i skipped that)... then i saw it. paper plates/bowls covering a shaded table, full of SNACKS! pretzels, gummy bears, some sort of pills (energy? salt? electrolites? advil? i had no idea), boiled chunks of potatoes!!! it was like heaven. of course all i grabbed were three pretzels and a sweedish fish.

this was also where i saw patti, the amazing supportive wife of jim (also running the 25k), who snapped this lovely gem:
looook at this farmland i am dommmmminating!!!!
(aka- am i done yet? this sucks.)

its so hard to recap this race because i had so many ups and downs (literally). having never done a trail race before, nor having run the 25k race distance before, it was all new to me (hooray for automatic PR!). the shady trails in the woods were challenging but actually really neat (apparently this course is NON-TECHNICAL meaning.... yeah, i have no idea. no rivers to swim through? im not a good swimmer so thats probably a good thing). like i said, the grassy/sort of farm plowed fields we ran on were tough. i felt like my body was running on a slant and i couldnt find a good groove. i ended up falling UP a hill (who falls UPhill??) and scraping up my leg but i carried on. the downhills in the woods were so steep and i shuffled down those trying to make sure i didnt roll down (i wouldnt have put it past me to do something like that though... luckily i stayed on my feet).

i ran along side a few people here and there but for the most part i was alone. at the 2nd aid station i met up with a woman wearing a running skirt like mine and we started chatting, and i stayed with her until the turn onto the back 10k. her name was missyana from cambridge and she was a tremendous support for me. thank you!!! (she told me i was her pacer... as we walked up a hill. yeah right! dont follow me if you want to have an awesome pacer haha).

the first 15k was so challenging, both physically and mentally. it was the 9 month anniversary of aaron passing away, and we found out saturday that our friend amber passed away that morning (she had cystic fibrosis as well). they were both weighing heavily on my mind as i trudged along the tough terrain. i didnt emotionally break down until the final 5k but i was so far out of my element in this race i just couldnt get to feeling like i could control anything. *sigh*

coming in through 15k

i had been told the back 10k was by far much easier than the first 15. as i ran through all the tents and support crews, i saw my mom ahead of me and ran up a little hill to surprise her. she thought i was done and started cheering... but alas i had 6 more miles to go. blah. she cheered me on through the woods and off i went. i lost my skirt sister missyana at the next aid station and was by myself for the remainder of the run. i actually really loved the final 10k... less fields, more woods, less hills, more awesome. i saw two sub 10 minute miles which made me more comfortable. my legs felt strong, i had my breathing under control, and i slowly shuffled up the hills instead of walking. and i passed a few people who werent doing the 50 miler. win.

as i passed the 20k sign, i turned my music back on (i had shut it off a while back to just enjoy my surroundings) and the first song that came on was "fighter" by gym class heroes. que emotional breakdown. i was fighting to finish something i had never done before. aaron and amber had fought their whole lives to survive and ultimately heaven gained those fighters.

"give em hell, turn their heads
gonna live life til we're dead.
give me scars, give me pain
then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me
there goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
here comes a fighter
that's what they'll say to me, say to me
say to me, this one's a fighter

if you fall pick yourself up off the floor (get up)
and when your bones can't take no more
just remember what you're here for"

so yeah... i somehow pulled myself back together as we headed onto the final field towards the end. i heard someone coming up behind me and i moved off the grooved path so he could run through. as he ran along side me saying i didnt need to get out of his way, he asked if i was danielle... (this seems to be happening to me a lot lately.... maybe i should dye my hair or something?)- it ended up being Ty Thurlow, a really awesome runner and friends with my friend elizabeth. he was running the 50k after having done reach the beach last weekend as a 6 person ultra team! holy moly. he admitted this was probably not a good idea, and then smoked by me. thanks ty!

i gave the final (stupid) hill an extra push, shut off my music, and ran towards the finish with a smile on my face (i think).

finish is right around that next corner

so happy to almost be done

after crossing the finish line a volunteer handed me an ice cold water bottle and I GOT THE DAMN COWBELL. side note: its a cowbell keychain. about the size of a half dollar. ha.

my old boss from when i worked at a sportshoe store in high school was the first person i saw when i finished (hi bob!) and then eric and victoria came over with their congrats. my super awesome cheer team of sara and andy decided to be lazy and sit in the shade and totally miss my finish. thanks guys!

from sara's blog:

"WORST FRIENDS EVER AWARD: Goes to Andy and Me... We completely missed Danielle's finish because we are assholes. No other excuse. Sorry Danielle, I am glad you are still speaking to us, it won't happen again (until the next 80 degree day that we run and the shady spot is far from the finish, that is... I kid, I kid!!) Good thing Eric was there to get pics like a boss....
And on a side note: Danielle looked pretty fab for somebody who was hating life so much, seriously! I can only hope that I look so stylish and run so fast next time I'm cussing out life the way she was. :-) Jeesh..."

(nice compliment there at the end... i guess ill forgive you. both. maybe. i might need cookies.)

(and now andy and i are fighting cuz of his sweet race recap that you can enjoy HERE)

pretty accurate pic of how i felt immediately after finishing

and then we ate lunch... or something like that
poor lonely m&m

add a beer and compression socks...

... and i decided life really isnt so bad
(and were already thinking about this)

smart life choices 101

overall a really awesome experience. the race was extremely well organized and the volunteers before, during, and after the race were excellent!! this was so different from any road race ive ever been to (and thats a lot), and i have a whole new appreciation for trail runners thats for sure! i was afraid to take off my socks but i surprisingly had no new blisters or missing toenails. by the time i went to bed last night i was sore, which is a good sign i worked hard. despite my cursing, claiming to never do this EVER again, i think id love to train more on the trails and potentially do this again next year (i know!!)

4th place in my track club
(team finished 6th overall)

course map

garmin map
(cool to see the comparison... looks similar. shocking)

this probably sums things up for you pretty well

oh hey 11:41, havent seen you EVER.
consistency: fail.

i really think this would have been better...

so true.

see the cowbell there above my bib? if you squint your eyes?

official time:
25k (15.5ish miles)
9:59 pace
22/62 age group

*22 is my favorite number!!

and after walking around, getting more beers, minimal stretching, lots of complaining, finding shade and making fun of andy relentlessly, we watched maddy finish and completely OWN the 50 miler, placing 3rd woman overall in 8 hours and 32 minutes. holy awesome.

still smiling, and standing.

and last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to my mom for all her support all day xoxo!!

congrats to all who ran this weekend and thank you to all our supporters!!!

*photos courtesy of:
 my awesome mom, patti, eric, and andy.
 thank you all!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

dns? dnf? GTDC!

in my post reach the beach depression i did something stupid: i ran. you might think "stupid? danielle runs all the time, why is that stupid? omg running is the best thing on the planet ever!" (what, you dont think that too?)

well its true- i dont always make smart life decisions...

a week before reach the beach i went out and ran a marathon. bye myself, on a training run, 24 minutes faster than i have ever run a marathon before. for fun. that was stupid.

the week of rtb was my highest training mileage week EVER (54 miles). i was 10 miles short when i got home and went out and ran those miles on sunday. not recovery miles either, we went sub 9's. that was stupid.

i only took one ice bath and barely stretched after all the super speedy miles i logged during rtb (and being cramped up in a van for the weekend...).

you guessed it: stupid.

so i guess i shouldnt be surprised when at mile 2 during a slow 14 miler on tuesday (slow = 8:50s. oops) my hamstring decided to lash out its true hatred towards my recent activities. if ive done anything smart in the last few months it would be what i did here: i continued on until i got to 3 miles (who stops at 2?!) and then walked home. cursing myself the whole way.

after consulting twitter all my running best internet friends, it was decided i needed to rest. REST?! I DONT DO REST! but i knew i was gonna be in trouble and i couldnt manage to hurt myself EIGHT WEEKS out from epic #bigpimpin marathon. hrumph. fine. ill rest. but i dont have to like it. (and trust me, i was not a happy camper for the past 4 days. good thing im not drinking or it would have been bad... read: i ate a lot of junk food).

but i did do a lot of this:

*includes a lot of swearing*

and katy brought me this:

*wow, this hurt BAD*
(side note: in the directions it pretty much says "if it hurts doing this you know you need it". right.)

and i was really jealous when sarah and brendan got to go running a really long way at night (faves) so i left them a really cool care package on my front porch while i sulked around the house and complained about how i wanted to be running went to bed.


so tomorrow im supposed to do my first ever 25k- at the pineland farms trail festival. oh yeah and its a trail race (which ive never run a trail race before either...). smart life choices, remember? on wednesday i had decided i wasnt above getting a DNS (did not start) or at least try running and if i have to DNF (did not finish), so be it. there are a few loops on this course which would allow me to start out the race and see how i felt and be able to back out and not be stuck in the middle of the woods somewhere.

BUT... the finishers medal is... wait for it... a COWBELL!! (!!!!!!!!!!!) i want to runnnnnn. so after 4 days of rest, ice, compression, and (sort of) elevation, i did a trial run today to see what the verdict for tomorrow would be (figuring i would do some recovery miles, ya know... 10 min pace or something:
oops. but this means im healed right?

my hamstring/broken butt muscles didnt hurt AT ALL. my feet, however, were SO mad at me. and my ankles got pretty sore (my chiropractor works on my ankles the most, as those are both so fucked from the damage i did through years of soccer & basketball and is the main source of all my knee and back pain). so i came home and immediately filled the bottle returnables bucket with ice and water and got in.


and to pass the time i brought out a book and worked on my tan. multi tasking at its finest.

so the DNS is out of the question. the DNF? im really hoping to avoid that... and since its my first time at this race distance and my first time on trails im not above walking/taking it easy.

lets hope tomorrow i can add a sweet finishers award to this pic:


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

reach the beach

this past weekend was my 4th year of doing reach the beach (ive done new hampshire race twice and this was my 2nd massachusetts). each year ive had a different team:
  • 2009 team wicked
  • 2010 run faster finish sooner
  • 2011 dirty little freaks
  • 2012 misfits
but in all four years i had one constant: kelly! (sadly she has run one extra one without me. rude. hehe jk xo) regardless of the fact that the race is seemingly the same each year-- run a lot, sleep very little (if at all), eat a lot of cheez its, laugh a ton-- every year has been completely different (and awesome) experience. and thats what its all about, right?

i picked up kelly in portsmouth on thursday night and we headed to worcester to stay at julias house so we didnt have to drive up early friday am (this was the best idea ever). i couldnt stop laughing the whole drive down and i knew from that drive it was already going to be a ridiculous weekend (spoiler alert: it was. duh). i was up way past my old lady bed time watching some ridiculous cooking show and we all headed to bed about midnight, although first kelly and i had a giggle fest slumber party before falling asleep. yes, im like 12.

i woke up just before 8am to julia bringing me coffee in bed and listening to dutch singing "one pound fish" in the living room. (youtube this for your own good. its hilarious... very very good and very very cheap...). anyway, this was by far the best way to wake up on rtb morning! our team didnt start until 11:20 so we had time to kill before meeting up at the mountain, so of course we watched despicable me! kelly and i headed for wachusett mountain while julia waited at home for ally to arrive. we met up with our team, got all checked in with our flashing lights, head lamps, and reflective vests, and sent our newbie team members into orientation while we watched other teams take off (i almost got kicked out of orientation last year so i figured i should probably not go this year... dont pee on people lawns, have fun, reach the beach... right! got it.)

i was also able to meet up with team Need for Speed and see my bff running buddy sarah and have a huge OMGIMISSYOUSOMUCH hug squeel session with Christy !! i also got to meet Meg who came all the way from chicago to drive their asses around. hardcore. i watched their team start (40 minutes BEFORE our team, mind you...) and then we all hung out until our team started. kelly, jessie and i then braved the chairlift to the top of the mountain and got a great view. jessie was not so excited about her ride...

during my other 3 rtb's ive always been in van 1 so this was a totally new experience for me... and after having a few days to process it, ive decided im still not sure which i like best. i think i need to be in van 2 one more time in order to decide (but ive always thought van 1 was the way to go, but i really did like something about van 2... just not sure what that something is just yet...). we had a litle under 5 hours to kill before we started running so we went back to julias where she made us an awesome GF breakfast! i pretty much ate a zillion pounds of sausage links and scrambled eggs, and downed about 4 cups of coffee. we also spent time decorating our van and making it nice and pretty.

*side note: there was a friendly competition between me and team need for speed... specifically between me and andy and me and eric. despite our team starting 40 minutes after theirs, i decided to place a bet that our team would ultimately pass them somewhere along the way and finish before them, or at least with a faster time. none of us knew exactly how our teams would do, but on paper we looked fairly similar in speed... this was a pretty risky bet but they're fun/competetive guys. so game on.

andy & me with our coordinating outfits

at 4pm van 1 passed off the slap bracelet (yes, be jealous... the relay "batons" are slap bracelets!!) to our team and we were off. van 1 had crushed their legs and we were 20 minutes ahead of where we had predicted us to be. speedy! jessie was up first, then dutch, who handed off for my first run at 5:40pm. i always have a problem starting off too fast cuz im just so OMG EXCITED for reach the beach. see split 1 below for said OMG EXCITED pace. but apparently i felt good (minus the mount everest that apparently was strategically placed on my route during the 4th mile) cuz those sub 8s kept coming.... (didnt i just run a marathon last weekend? my legs shouldnt feel this good....)

i took off from the transition spot and took an immediate right turn off the road into the parking lot instead of following the road. i have NO idea why- reading directional arrow sign fail. actually there was just a sign that said "caution runners in the road" and no arrow at all. so yeah. whatever. i went the wrong way. i turned around and carried on. shortly after starting, i heard some guy running behind me and talking to himself. i turned around and realized he had a video camera and was taping his run for his blog. so he and i started chatting and i told him to sing to me for entertainment. "i take requests, what do you want?" "bon jovi?" and all of a sudden he started busting out to livin on a prayer. excellent.

then he passed me. whatever, im on his blog somewhere on the internet. ha.

shortly up ahead i passed a girl on a downhill, and chatted with her for a few seconds before taking off (and almost getting hit by a car. come on people, there are runners everywhere! slooooow down!) her team had something to do with frito lay and chips, so of course i was obsessed. (and when i saw them again i told them "i really love chips". and that i named my cat "chips". they needed to know, obvs).

so i kept on truckin, one foot in front of the other... when suddenly i turned a corner with about a mile left and saw johns neon yellow tank top (*john is from team need for speed... remember the bet i had where i said our team would pass them??)....


so as i got a little closer, i called up to him "hey whats the theme song for top gun?" he turned around and was pretty much like oooooh noooooo. hehe :) john had some issues with his garmin and had gone out too fast but i was happy to hear that my team stopped to help him out with some water. then i took off and left john behind, sorry man. (i needed to gain a few more minutes on the team if we were to keep ahead! competetive much? yes.)

operation pass team need for speed: success. (ill give them credit where its due though, they passed us back, but we ultimately passed them once and for all and never looked back). i win. and i get a free dinner at binga's stadium tonight (but i got this super sweet pic of andy, so he should be happy about that)

anyway... for those of you who havent done a relay like this, theres a lot of waiting around time for your runners. this makes it perfect for fun pics here and there... 

jessie, me, dutch... who apparently needs two sets of sunglasses

while we were waiting for julia at the transition area, the girl i passed on my last leg came up to me and said "i just want to say that you are a super awesome runner and i want to be just like you and you were so fast and im not ashamed you kicked my ass!". ok, that probably wasnt a direct quote, but she was really sweet and did say i was super fast. and then offered me free chips from her van.
"please come eat some chips any time you see us" (that IS a direct quote)- dont mind if i do.

as the sun was going down on our last runners leg, i snapped this pic (which does the beauty of the scene no justice whatsoever)

kelly finished up her run at 8:30 and we handed the slap bracelet off to van 1 for them to head out for their 2nd set of runs. i also was able to again meet up with team need for speed, who bragged about passing us again. yeah yeah... we already know how it ends.... but i love you all (thanks for allowing me to be a semi honorary team need for speed member)

eric & me following the rules... sarah & meg being rebels

van 2 misfits... and yes, ally is freakishly tall

so then we went to dutch's house nearby to relax, eat, and shower before our next set of runs. julia and dutch made a nice chicken and quinoa salad for dinner- however, i decided to instead eat 4 handfuls of doritos and drank a yuengling. quality fuel.


i tried to fall asleep while watching the celtics suck... and i maybe slept for all of 15 minutes when i heard jessies phone go off. it was tom telling us we had about 25 minutes left to be at the transition (it was a 20 minute drive). horray. jessie and i were up like a fire had been lit under our ass and i ran upstairs and woke up dutch, he woke up the rest of the girls and we took off. fastest moving team ever! (and nooooooooooo one wanted to get up or run).

we got to the transition with a few minutes to spare and our van started running again at 12:23am.
dutch handed off to me at 2:37am and again... OMG EXCITED I LOVE REACH THE BEACH SOOOOO MUCH pace. whos legs was i running with??!? i had figured leg 1 was a bit of a "i wanted to impress my team" run and that leg 2 would be the "now ill show them all how i really suck sometimes" run. uh yeah... i was wrong.

hi can we just talk for a second about how i did the last 0.54 miles
at a SUB 7 PACE... after running 6 sub 8 miles (minus that one
gross 8:13 mile.... holy moly.

it helps that i LOVE night running. hello, i wake up at 4am (or earlier) pretty much every day to run. i leave my husband in bed and practically have an affair with night running. the sounds of nature are soothing on these pre dawn runs. (well, most often its the sound of sarah and i talking, but when im alone i love the nature haha). just you and the road. i ended up singing "we are young" by Fun on repeat in my head. for the entire 6.5 miles (its better than the usual "ma ma ma myyy sharona". dont ask).

on this run i passed 7 people. blog kid from leg 1 passed me again. and then, right before the finish...
i saw sparkle skirt up ahead of me and took her out too. we were chasing this team all day so i was excited!! (what didnt excite me at this race?! probably a much shorter list than the things that did).

our van finished up at 4:59am and drove to the next vehicle transition area to try and get some sleep. my whole van was asleep before i even parked the car, and i was starving so i went and bought a breakfast sandwich from the volunteer tent (sooooo delicious). as i was waiting i turned around and practically bumped right into my friend eric! (different eric than team need for speed. we also had an eric in our team. confusing.) eric had a little waking up to do, i had a little sleeping to do. (and the back of their sweatshirts were amazing.)

during reach the beach you pretty much find a place wherever you can to try and sleep. last year was the sidewalk, this year it was in the parking lot (the grass was wet). concrete is not surprisingly rather uncomfortable, but i think i might have actually gotten an hour of sleep. i was afraid i was going to get run over so i kept waking up. finally i just gave up and got up, immediately feeling like i was going to throw up. (luckily i didnt).


we had about 2 hours until our van 1 runners arrived so i walked around, visited the disgusting port-a-potties a few (5) times, met jordan and his race menu teammates, and hung out with team need for speed while they did yoga. our van took off for our last set of runs at 9:44am. again we had some down time so i had a fun photo shoot :)

it had gotten REALLY hot. were talking like 90 hundred thousand degrees hot. i knew running in a cotton shirt was not going to be a good idea, so.... off it went. whatever. dutch handed off to me at 11:43am and i had to run through the worst smelling farm EVER. i couldnt even breathe it was so bad. barf. and on top of it, the sun was just beating down making this run miserable. i took off waaaaay too OMG EXCITED fast, but that quickly ended during mile 3 and continued on a slow decline til the end.

anxiously waiting for my last run

attempting to cool off

i dumped water over my head and down my back each time my team stoppedfor me. at one point i swallowed way too much of my gu at once and it all almost came right back up (i thought of you, sarah! at least it wasnt vanilla flavored...)

with about 2 miles left a guy came up behind me and stayed just steps behind me and wouldnt pass! so i finally turned around and said unless he staying back there cuz he enjoyed the view he could (and should) just pass me. he said that i was running a good pace for him so he came up and we ran together for a bit. i knew i was continuing to slow down, and there was a girl up ahead of us so i told him to go ahead and that she was our target. we both passed her. win.

so yeah... leg 3 not great, but still sub 9 min pace. ill take it! and the finish into my transition was uphill. thanks for that, rtb!

(despite major slow down, i looked down at my watch
coming down one of the hills on this leg: 5:58. oops.)

personal stats:

19.79 miles
2 hours 39 minutes 34 seconds
8:04 pace

i spent the rest of the time cheering on my team, all the other awesome runners, and handed out a lot of cookies! the teams that ran this year were sooooo supportive (other years have not been like this for some reason)... i dont know if it was the heat or what, but we all felt like one big family from beginning to the very end. and it was awesome.

after following kelly along for her final leg, we drove off to meet our team at the beach for the finish. just after 4pm kelly came around the corner and our team ran across the finish line.


and then i ate my weight in burritos.

the misfits

awesome photo courtesy of Tom Kochem, team captain

this is truly a race like none other, and i strongly suggest to anyone who even remotely likes running to try it at least once. are there moments when you doubt your decision in signing up? yes. do you ever doubt your decision once its all over? hell no. and in my post rtb depression i went out and ran 10 miles with sarah on sunday. and now my hamstring is screaming at me. marathon big pimpin training is now on hold until sundays 25k trail race.

my 71st lifetime road race... complete.
(and the shirt looks blue but its really purple. i super heart purple. thanks rtb!)

official team stats:

74/175 teams
22/52 division
200.53 miles
28 hours 43 minutes 21 seconds
8:35 pace

so... whos up for rtb new hampshire?