Sticky rice and handstands

So, I’ve re-entered the wild and wonderful world of CrossFit competition training.  Which is always a wise thing to do when you’re training for about one million running races.  Since The Unfortunate Incident of the Runner in the Night (please read this book if you have not), me and running have been kind of “on a break”.  (It’s not you…it’s me.)  I’ve had a few things nagging me knee and hip-wise and my work schedule has changed approximately a metric shit-ton in the last three weeks or so, which has totally ruined my ability to sleep or function with any kind of reliability.  Tomorrow I have to go in to work for a training on “Operational Stress Control” (hilarious!) – on my day off at 1000 when I would otherwise be running, jumping, climbing trees or whatever.  Coming in for Navy training on my day off makes my levels of “operational stress” jump off the charts.  Luckily for my stress levels, I go back to night shift semi-permanently (at least a month?) which means I can hopefully get back to running somewhat steadily.

In general I find CrossFit to be about 97% less stressful to me than running.  Most people would probably find this kind of weird considering the wonky and cultish culture of foaming-at-the-mouth competitiveness CrossFit seems to have the reputation for these days (I’ll let you in on a secret: just because you read something on the internet does not mean it’s true).  It’s probably because I feel like I’m generally better at CrossFit than running (looking at me this is no surprise – I’m a little hefty to be a runner but can pick stuff up like a champ!) so I’m less stressed due to a generally increased confidence level.  I still love running, but sometimes I get a bit neurotic about paces and this and that.  It’s bizarre how I can go to CrossFit and fail a lift and shrug it off as “just not my day” but if I run below a certain pace I get all ornery and beat myself up about it.  I don’t really like to get all neurotic about running, so hence the break.

I didn’t stop running for two weeks, but I definitely just ran slightly leisurely…and without the watch.  There is no such thing as a break from running where I still wear the Garmin.  Not ever ever.  I’m sure all this leisurely running isn’t doing wonders for my future marathon, but it’s not like I’m BQ’ing or anything anyways – with birthday cake and Nutella at the aid stations we should all probably just forget about any dreams of elite speeds occurring at this race.  I still want to do my best, so don’t be mistaken about that.  It was more important to me to get my brain and body right for the future.  I did this a few different ways:

  1. Picked up heavy shit.
  2. Put it down.
  3. Foam rolled like it was my freaking job.
  4. Worked on hip and ankle mobility like it was my freaking job.
  5. Went shit-nuts seeing my favorite band live:
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Highlights include: Greg grabbed and held my hand tree times. I’m kind of a big deal now. He gave me the mic to let me sing (scream) into the mic twice. I crowd-surfed twice and lost my shoes. Ben almost gave me a concussion.

 

Among other things, most of which involved chocolate.  And today, Thai sticky rice with mango.  If you have not had this amazing Thai dessert, please put your pants on immediately and head to your local Thai place to consume this heavenly dessert ahora mismo.  It’s just plain good for your soul.

 

Anyways, so CrossFit has eaten my life for the past few weeks, as I mentioned.  The past three weeks have almost literally been:  wake up, eat (maybe), work, work overtime (that’s not a real thing in the military), go home, change, CrossFit, eat, sleep, repeat.  Working day shift has been totally consuming my time, mostly because when I get put in to sub for other people on day shift they sub me for about three people.  Which means I end up doing the majority of things that need to be done – including juggling three clueless trainees –  while my team lead walks around looking important.  Which is okay.  But it’s time-consuming.   I often stay way later than I should.  Unlike CrossFit (which takes less than an hour on a good day), running 10-14 miles has been difficult to fit into the afternoon schedule.

 

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Beyond the Whiteboard – like Training Peaks, but for CrossFitters.

So that’s the story.  Lots of CrossFit and less running makes a 185 pound front squat PR (booyah!) but not really a 60k night race PR, but my operational stress brain is a little better off for it.  (I needed a win, guys…give me a break.)  I have a race in a few weeks (30k) but I’m not too worried.  I’m going to run hard and try to have fun.  My marathon is in thirty days, but I’m at peace with that.  There have been times I could have been running and instead I was passed out on the carpet in a pile of Kill Cliff cans (the intervention is nigh), but I have made my peace with that too.  The more I fret, the less enjoyable running becomes.  However, I’m still back to the schedule next week – just with less stressing.  Hopefully the pace goals will come with time.  Hopefully Cactus Rose comes and I’m not still retching with fear at the thought of fifty miles at Bandera.

We’ll see, I guess.  In the meantime, sticky rice and sweet tea.

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Brazos Bend 50k

Long face hair don't care?

Long face hair don’t care?

So having all my wisdom teeth ripped from my skull is providing me with a great opportunity to sit around and catch up on my blogging.  Life’s been a bit hectic lately due to finishing a month-long training that has left me drastically behind at work.  There’s also been a few Team RWB things I’ve had to get done – not huge things, but sometimes even a few hours worth of work can seem like a neverending task when you’re already juggling a million other things.  But I’ve been mostly productive (with some much needed down time) despite all the craziness…except when it comes to blogging.  I have a few drafts hanging out that I start with gusto and then get distracted by something else that prevents me from picking it up again (mostly because I find if I stop in the middle of a blog, I lost steam and don’t want to pick it up again, haha).  SO, since I’m just sitting around on post-surgical quarters (and also I can’t seem to watch Game of Thrones online anymore – this is a big factor) I figure it’s time to catch up.  I need to resolve to try and do this a certain number of times a week…

 

 

So, I posted that a few days ago (I never really have been into actual New Year’s Resolutions, so never made one) but figured setting some goals would be good.  So I’m going to set a goal to try and blog at least once a week.  Hopefully a bit more if I can find the time/fun stuff to blog about.  More on that later.

 

Anyways, the last weekend of April was my second 50k at Brazo’s Bend.  If you read my race report for my first 50k at Nueces, you’re probably aware that I had not that great of a time.  (Well, I had a great time overall, especially first loop…but not so great results as the heat made me quite ill.)  So going to Brazos was redemption time.  I knew going in that provided nothing terrible happened during the race, I would completely destroy my 50k PR due to the problems I experienced at the last one.  So I resolved to try and just show up, have fun, and try and run strong while keeping walking to a minimum.

 

For those not familiar with the race, it’s flat.  Flat, flat, flat.  My Garmin registered about 120 feet of elevation gain for the entire 50k course.  There’s a terrible kind of sneakiness to this kind of course.  When you’re used to the periodic power hiking and hill climbing, using the same muscles for 31 miles because a new kind of pain.  I did not plan to go into Brazos and smoke it, knowing that the lack of climbs would be a challenge for me eventually.  Running the 20 miler at Piney Woods in February taught me that – I was more sore from that race for a few days after than I was for Nueces.  I resolved beforehand to not get caught up in the “flat and fast” moniker of the course and just keep a nice easy pace that would get me to the finish line safe and sound.  (Hah!)

 

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We arrived to Brazo’s Bend the day before the race to camp and got to take a nice two mile walk to the packet pick-up.  This allowed us to walk some of the course, and see some of the local wildlife.  Alligators, snakes, cool birds, flocks of tourists – we were lucky enough to witness a lot of fun and interesting things on our walk!  I might have also almost stepped on aforementioned snake, then spent the next five minutes staring at it in awe with my mouth agape and it’s startling largeness.  (I’m not particularly afraid of snakes, but I don’t see them very often, so I’m a bit wary…)

 

Russell was kind enough to take this first thing in the morning, when I was looking like rough dog crap.

Russell was kind enough to take this first thing in the morning, when I was looking like rough dog crap.

 

On race morning, I completely, totally, 100% had no desire to wake up.  At all.  I was at least smart enough the night before to load my bottles up with Tailwind and pack the race vest with extra bags and all the necessities.  I woke up at the very last minute, ate a muffin, and started taking inventory to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something small.  At this point, I still hadn’t decided what shoes I was going to wear.  I had almost brought every single trail shoe I owned (in retrospect, I might have actually brought every single trail shoe I owned) and just couldn’t decide which one would do the job.  It was hot and muggy outside, and the thought of putting on my socks and shoes was almost unbearable at that point.  So, I decided to throw caution into the wind and just wear my Luna Sandals for at least the first loop, and see how it went.  I’d ran in them many times before (but never for my long run) and loved the way my feet felt in them, so I figured they’d be perfect for the humid race.  Why not, I guess?

 

VERY INTENSELY TIGHTENING THE STRAPS ON MY SANDALS!!!1

VERY INTENSELY TIGHTENING THE STRAPS ON MY SANDALS!!!1

 

I had a bit of an issue with the heel strap on my right foot slipping down every now and again, but it wasn’t too bad.  This lasted a good 60% of the race, then magically resolved itself through no action of my own.  It was never really a huge annoyance, and going through the first loop of the race I just kind of stayed cognizant of it and tried to adjust a small amount at the aid stations.  I took the first loop at a nice clip, nothing crazy, testing the sandal and flat course waters and just trying to do everything “right” as far as nutrition and pacing goes.  I ran with my friend Scott, who was running his first 50k, and we were doing well with having compatible paces.  I was determined to not have issues of any kind this time (aren’t we all?) and just wanted to feel good finishing, so sticking with Scott for the first loop made the race fun and more or less comfortable.

 

Dramatically coming around the turnaround!

Dramatically coming around the turnaround!

 

Also we had fun times like this.

Also we had fun times like this.

 

Somewhere near the end of the first loop, I just kind of hit autopilot and starting wandering off into my own thoughts. Scott had started chatting with a gentleman we had passed (well, I had passed) and I just kind of meandered off, thinking that I wanted to run a little bit faster but not meaning to do so until after I passed the start/finish for my second loop.  Next thing I knew Scott was nowhere to be found, probably still chatting away (this is a thing, I accept it) to every person who came along.  I hesitated, not sure if I should wait for him or not, but decided he couldn’t be too far behind and I was kick it up a bit to the start/finish and wait for him there.

 

In retrospect, I waited waaay too long here.  I waited for him to come in for at least ten minutes, then waited for him to get his drop bag and do his business – then my friend Kerri (from Nueces!) came through right as we were soon to go, and I (we?) decided to wait for her.  This is completely my failure – Scott told me to go ahead and go (I believe Kerri probably did too) but I knew that if times were going to get tough, it was going to be this loop.  Honestly, I kind of wanted someone to hang with for a while, and knew Kerri would be running a similar pace.  We parted ways with Scott in the first mile or so (hence my dilemma at having waited) and trucked on together for the rest of the race.

 

Though I felt really great leaving for my second loop, at around mile 21 or 22 my body got pretty sick and tired of all the repetitive muscle usage of the flat terrain and started throwing a hissy fit.  Luckily I had Kerri around, who chit chatted with me and distracted me somewhat.  I eventually had to stop every now and again and stretch my self-destructing hamstrings, but made sure Kerri continued on without me.  this was a good thing in a way because it gave me a bit of a goal to catch up with her after stretching.  Though it felt like I was kind of exploding at every possible location below the waist, I didn’t necessarily feel bad, not like I did at Nueces.  I chalked it up to the pains associated with running farther than you do around the neighborhood, and told myself to walk if I absolutely felt I needed to, but to keep it to a minimum.  I did a lot of stern self-talking past the 25-26 mile mark as life started to become exponentially more painful.

 

The fun part about this race is how it is set up.  The lollipop structure of the course meant that there is a lot of crossing paths with other runners, which means that we saw quite a few friends.  (Shout out to Jason, who shouted “Put some shoes on, Brittany!!’ at me as he was headed into the start/finish for the 50 miler as we were leaving it…it gave me a good laugh.)  This is certainly good for lifting spirits, though most of it occurs before the last long stretch of the race which is honestly the hardest part mentally.  There’s a long stretch between the second and last aid station that despite being only about five miles, feels like FOREVER due to it being a straight, seemingly never-ending flat completely riddled with horse-hoof holes that made stabilization a bit harder.  The course here is so straight for so long that you can see straight for an excruciatingly long time, which is a huge mental mind game when you think you should have already arrived at the aid station already.  I walked a bit more here than I would have liked, Kerri almost stepped on a damn snake, and I might have mentioned my hamstrings were exploding approximately a billion times.

 

After hitting the last aid station, there were some weird mind games going on with Kerri’s watch reporting we had quite a bit less mileage left than we really did.  My watch was a little more accurate (off by maybe .4) so though I knew logically my watch was probably correct based on how accurate it was for the first loop, I still kept clinging to the hope that Kerri’s watch was right and we had about 1.5 miles instead of about 4.  The last mile or so was complete and total shit for me.  We hit the paved portion of the course and my feet were angrily demanding to know why the hell I was doing such a terrible thing t0 them at this point.  Hadn’t they suffered enough?  I began to think that I had suffered enough and maybe if I just walked for one second – luckily for me, Kerri barked at me about half a mile from the finish line, “Don’t walk, we’re almost there!”  (If you were not already aware, Kerri is awesome.)

 

Kerri looking fresh and all smiles, and me looking all...like me or whatever...

Kerri looking fresh and all smiles, and me looking all…like me or whatever…

 

It was nice to cross the finish line and sit in a chair very unwisely and drink chocolate protein and oh god I thought I was going to die and nah that wasn’t too bad I guess.  I got Epic Bars and Coke at the start/finish aid station because the race director is my freaking hero (I love Epic Bars, omg) and went to the finish to wait for Scott to roll in.  I found out at this moment that sitting down was quite unwise, but I almost didn’t care because I at least didn’t have to run anymore.  (I want to point out here that at one point my husband asked me after the race “Why are you so sore?”  For real.)

 

It was awesome to cheer Scott in for his first 50k!  Despite all the pain, I had a great time.  In retrospect I should have spent a little less time hanging around the aid stations, as that added an extra minute per mile to my overall time.  Sucks, but still smashed my 50k PR and had a good time with good friends.  Rob (fellow Ragnar warrior and friend) the race director did a killer job on his first race and I can’t wait to hit up the Brazos Bend 100 (…for the relay…) in December!  Cheers!

 

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