Torture Report: Training Progress and Howl at the Moon

(L):  I logged a mere 29 miles this week.  It’s a long way from what I should be doing, but it’s also a far cry from where I was 2 weeks ago.  Progress.  I am still waiting for the ease of short distance running to set in.  My longest run so far is 5 miles and it still feels very tedious. I know if I keep plugging away it will get easier.  School started back yesterday so my main focus everyday is training.  It actually feels good to know that I have a chunk of time each day to get it done.


Stevie wondering why Samson is inching his way toward the front. He knows he brings up the rear!
I have also been continuing to workout in the gym.  This actually does feel good.  I love weight workouts.  Sore muscles feels like a huge step in the right directions especially since the running has been hard.  There is one small caveat though.  Remember that pesky little fall I took down the stairs back on Easter weekend?  Well, apparently my shoulder still hasn’t healed.  Running makes it ache and push ups and weights actually cause me a little pain.  In fact, my tricep work is a no go.  So, I am considering making a call to the orthopedist to have it checked out.  It’s been 5 months and according to my hubby, “it is not a torn muscle!”  I am not convinced it is anything major, just an annoyance.  The other issue is that if it is actually something that needs repaired I am not going to do anything about it until after the November ultra.  I am going to give it some more time and see if I can work out any of the kinks and then decide what to do.  Are you
with me?
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(G): Phew! It was a hot, humid and wily weekend.

Leading up to Saturday, I was on a taper. My mileage and intensity were lowered as I rested up for our late summer classic adventure Howl at the Moon 8-hour. It was my 10th time at this event and John’s 11th.
Every year after the race we say we’re going to do something else in August but then we just can’t stand to miss it.
Pre-race we are still fresh faced and dry.
Although after our most recent tangle with the Howl we may have to think twice.
It turns out my training in heat and uncomfortable conditions proved to be useful for this weekend.
I am a notorious insomniac the night before a race and this weekend was no different. However, the reason why was a whole new experience but I am getting ahead of myself.
Friday evening we rolled into Danville, Ill. set up camp and took a loop of the 3.29-mile race course also known as the Baby Howl. This is when friends, family, volunteers have a chance to take a spin on the trail with nearly everyone of age carrying along a beer. Why? This is all part of the Howl experience.
It was quite hot and humid in Danville and I was starting to wonder how I’d fare in this weather for 8 hours the next day. Little did I know that my challenges were about to start several hours earlier. Around midnight my stomach started to hurt and I wasn’t feeling good at all. I was lying in bed thinking a million thoughts not the least of which is, I can’t run like this!
After a few hours I finally started to feel better and I fell asleep. I awoke about 4 am with my usual anxiety about the race ahead and never went back to sleep.
I felt better when I got up but my stomach was fussy and it would plague me all day long. Are you sensing how adversity is going to be a major player in this tale?
Walking is all part of the ultra experience.
At 7:30 am the race began and while it was 73 degrees the humidity was 100% and it’s weather that makes you feel like you need to grow gills because you’re breathing water.
After about 2 miles my clothes were pretty well wet and sweat was dripping and rolling all around. I wouldn’t be dry for 8 more hours.
As the day went on, John and I fell into a good running rhythm and while I still felt my stomach I was moving well.
We were blessed that while it wasn’t comfortable, we had tremendous cloud cover and a breeze at certain places on the course.
Until the sun came out. It heated up from there although the humidity did drop into the upper 70s.
Taking a break to cool off and ice down.
At extended events like this, you want to get 200 calories or so in every hour. This was my biggest challenge. I knew if I didn’t eat I wouldn’t last long and if I did eat, I wasn’t sure how that would go either.
It was like eating when you feel sick and running with what feels like a brick in your stomach. Toward the end of the day we were doing far more walking than running but after 7 hours and 6 minutes had elapsed we had to make a choice.
We had to decide if we had enough in the tank to make another loop in the time left or if we wanted to lose 25 minutes by waiting for the out and backs to start at 3 p.m.
Out and backs are a shortened course that’s about 1/4 mile roundtrip so you can still keep moving and rack up distance in the time left. The out and backs start when there are 30 minutes left in the race but sometimes you hit it wrong and you have too much time till the shortened course opens and not enough time to get another 3.29-mile loop in. Decisions….
This year we went for it!
We had 54 minutes to cover 3.29 miles. At hour 1 that was no problem, at hour 7 with stomach issues, humidity, heat and fatigue … uhhh well it was a gamble.
So off we went and John pushed the pace. We’d run through the easier sections and walk the more difficult. We made it with about 6 minutes to spare and got roughly 30 miles in on the day. In case you’re wondering… we did not jump into the shortened 1/4 mile course. We instead opted to hit the beer wagon directly. Because when you feel like you are going to vomit, why not add alcohol?
Early on and we’re still smiling.
Surprisingly, that was not my next problem. When you run while wet you often get chafing. Sometimes it’s apparent and sometimes it’s not. That’s good and bad.
Good because you can’t feel the pain, bad because you don’t know to minimize the damage.
After about 20 minutes I realized that large sections of my skin were chafed and then the fire began.
Sweat soaked, raw skin has a tendency to burn and now mine was. I was chafed in all the usual places and some I couldn’t have imagined.
As I am a lady, I will leave it at that.
After changing and doing a basic triage to my wounds we began the long trek home.
Oh yeah, and remember my stomach issues? They continued. All day Sunday I could barely eat and my stomach just hurt but I felt hungry at the same time. Misery.
Thankfully, I woke up Monday with a restored digestive system and an appetite that is saying “Are we going to eat that next?”
I am easing back into training, nursing my wounds, and gearing up for our next race in 12 days.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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