Another Double Weekend In the Books! 57.8 miles.

This weekend was my last long weekend of racing before the 100 miler.  I still have the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa on with my friends Marcy and Haley on November 24 and I'm really looking forward to that, but it's a little scary to know that I have no more high mileage weekends before now and December 7.  Taper time. 

I'm definitely ready for a break, but that weekend is daunting and still more than I can wrap my brain around, so I'm kind of trying not to think about it.  What's done is done. I've put a lot of miles in my proverbial bank and will have to just let that day unfold however it does. In the meantime, here's what I was up to this weekend:

Rockledge Rumble 50k- November 9, 2013

This was my first time to race Rockledge Rumble, but I have heard many good things about this race.   It is put on by the North Texas Trail Runners and they offer a 50k, 30k and a 15k run. The race starts at Rockledge Park in Grapevine, TX.

The race did not disappoint. It was a beautiful day. It was a little cool in the morning, but warmed up with a slight cloud cover. My goal for this race was to take it slow and steady, practice my pacing and eating for the upcoming 100miler and not maim myself by tripping or twisting an ankle. 

The initial group that took off started quickly and although I started somewhere in the middle, I moved out of the way as much as I could and let them pass.  I did not want to get caught up in an early push. 

I had to keep reminding myself that I still had 26 more miles to go the next day, so it would do me no good to push my legs, just because I could.  I ran with several groups of very nice people along the way. 

Heading up a hill w/Tyler
I ran into my fair share of roots that were deceptively hiding under the newly fallen leaves and as usual, I took the downhills like a turtle as I just don't trust my legs to be able to catch up if I was to catch my foot on something.

After some back and forth, I ended up running the majority of the last part of the race with a young man named Tyler. I can say 'young' because I'm 10 years his senior. It was his first 50k and I think it's awesome that he found distance/trail running so early. He had run the 15k at Rockledge the year before and was determined to come back and finish the 50k. We talked a lot about running, inspiration, future goals, life and lots of other things.   

He had a great support team out there and I snagged these pictures from one of his friends (so Brant, thank you, if you're reading this!)  We finished strong and I let Tyler go ahead of me and I held back some so that I wouldn't be in his race pictures!  It was his first and I wanted him to have that moment to shine! :)  After we finished, we enjoyed some time off our feet and some great quesadillas that they were serving.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race. The course had a little bit of everything a trail should be mixed into it. Some technicality, some hills and some pretty views. The aid stations were fabulous and very helpful and friendly. Total mileage is 31.6 for this race, so we get a little over a half mile bonus beyond the 50k. My legs hurt a little more than I would have liked, but I had a pair of compression socks waiting for me at home that would take care of that.  The race report supported the Wounded Warrior Foundation and they gave out Patagonia long sleeve jackets and the finisher's medal looked like a dog-tag. 

Fort Worth Marathon- November 10, 2013
I am so buying this picture!

The alarm clock went off again at 5am. It was easier than I expected to get up. My legs were sore, but not unbearable. Running legs are different than walking legs, so I was hoping I'd be able to get the running ones moving. I missed packed pick up on Saturday, so I was thankful they had race day pick up.  I arrived early and had parking within 300 feet of the start/finish line!  Score! 

I picked up my packet and then headed back to my car to stay warm.  I stayed there almost until the gun went off.  Ha! Literally walked up, waiting less than a minute and we started. So much for warming up my legs.  The first 8 miles felt good.  I quickly realized that my plan of walking the hills and running the flats was going to have to go out the window.  There were NO hills!  Normally, I'd be super happy with this, but I was looking forward to a little bit of a break and so I kept running. 

Between miles 10 and 13, I felt like I was going to pass out.  I was super hungry and felt depleted of energy. I walked a lot between these three miles. Mostly because I didn't feel connected to my legs enough to trust them to run on them. Thankfully at mile 13, I picked up my friend Marcy, who stayed with me until the finish.  Her amazing mom and husband were out there to cheer us both on.  Steve was a saint and bought me a Coke, a Rice Krispie treat and later on down the road a muffin that Marcy and I both nibbled on.  The Coke, though, was the saving grace.  It perked me up and I picked up my pace steadily for the rest of the race.  After a few sips, I literally felt like I came back to life.

I ended up finishing almost 30 minutes faster than my anticipated goal time.  My husband was at the
Marcy & me post-race
finish with our daughter and she ran me in. That is one of the best feelings as a mom.  She accepted my medal and then all six of us went to breakfast at the Ol' Southern Pancake House in Fort Worth.  It was fabulous. I ate enough food for a couple people and the owner's mom, who happened to be sitting in a booth near us, actually sent us over a "German Pancake" for us to try. It was amazing!  It looked like a crepe, that they pour lemon juice on... seriously.  Yum!  I'm still thinking about it! 

The race t-shirt was a plain, white unisex tech tee with a black imprint (sigh) but the medal made up for it. It was actually a bronze belt buckle on a very nice ribbon. My daughter approved. ;)

As always, I can't thank my sponsor, Aquaphor enough. It is such a great product!  57.8 miles of running and I didn't chafe or get one blister.  Love, love, love it!

Defying Labels

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  Not because I haven't thought about it, but because this blog was started mostly as a 'triathlon' blog.  In July 2009, just about a year after having my daughter, the sport of triathlon changed my life.  Having run a handful of marathons here and there since 2000, mostly just to prove to myself that I still could run one, triathlons presented me an exciting new challenge.

I didn't know how to swim beyond pool lounging and the last bike I had ridden likely had a banana seat and streamers coming off the handlebars.  It consumed me and challenged me like I hadn't been since competing years ago in gymnastics.  It was fun and after moving to a new state where I knew close to no one, I met so many awesome people who were also excited about the triathlon lifestyle.

Last year was no exception.  I completed 17 races, including 3 Half Ironman's and REV 3 Cedar

Point 140.6 in Ohio.  I was excited about REV3 (it was on my birthday!) and I ended up with about a 25 minute PR, but felt the whole race that it was "business as usual."  When I finished Ironman Austin 70.3 at the end of October, I felt flat and my passion was missing.

I struggled with this.  A lot. What happened?  How could a sport that brought me so much, not be fun anymore?

So, I did what any lost athlete soul would do. I signed up for a 50-mile ultramarathon.

And, then in an instant... my passion was back, just not for triathlons.  I was hungry for a new challenge.

Sadistically enough, I guess I'm looking for how far my body will go. Where is that absolute limit?

My original intent for signing up for the 50-miler was to figure out if I could hack it at a Double Ironman.  It turned into a much more fun adventure than I could ever imagine.  I discovered trail running. This, from someone who gets lost easily and generally isn't a huge fan of nature-y things like snakes and bugs and dirt and such.

I ran the Prairie Spirit 50 Mile trail run in March with my friend Haley. What was supposed to be a nice, gentle introduction to trail running on a flat course, became this:

A full-out blizzard with sleet pelting our eyes. It was miserable, but awesome all the same.

After surviving that, I realized I was tougher than I thought.  So, once Haley mentioned that she was considering a 100-mile run in December in Louisiana, I blindly signed up - even before she did. I guess I tend to jump and look to see what's below after the fact when it comes to races.

I'll admit, I honestly knew nothing about trail running at the beginning of this year. But, I learned to swim by watching YouTube videos and I've finished two Ironman's, so I'm good at embracing my ignorance.  I've never had a coach. I never will.  But, I do ask advice. I listen and I read everything I can get my hands on.  Books. Articles. Blogs.

Which is kind of why I decided to start blogging again. Blogs and race reports are so unbelievably useful. I have learned so much from them and I feel guilty reading race reports of others and not contributing my own.

So, here we go... again.  I'll try to catch up on some of my past races.  I just finished my first 100k run two weeks ago.  It's funny though, although I've completed several ultras now, I don't feel like an 'ultrarunner' like I ever did when I felt like I was when I finished an 'Ironman.'

Perhaps because the finish lines don't have hundreds of screaming people cheering you on letting you know you're almost there. You cross the finish line at an ultra to a smiling face or two that say, 'Good Job."  There's no fanfare and no finale of a ceremony.  You just finish and start planning your next one.  Which, I'll admit has been a big change and also a welcomed one. I really enjoy the laid back atmosphere at the trail runs and I assure you they have the most amazing aid station volunteers you will ever meet.

Speaking of which, I've met a lot of very nice people out on the trails and have met some great new friends, but it's funny how I feel like some go out of their way to make you feel like you don't belong to their 'exclusive, tight-knit group.' Maybe that was true for Ironman-finishers too, but I guess I never noticed it- which brings me back to the the title of my post - 'Defying Labels.'

Despite my blog being named, IronTexasMommy, I don't label myself a triathlete or an ultrarunner. I'm just a mom, who is enjoying the heck out of doing things that I never thought possible - and I'm not afraid to fail along the way.

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