Chesty Puller Half Marathon Challenge Trail Run Race Report

It’s hard not to pass up a trail race that’s practically right in your back yard.  At least that was what I was thinking 3 weeks ago when I discovered there was a trail race right here on Fort Benning…..even if I was scheduled to work that day.

Two weeks ago I printed the map of the trail from the race website and Greg and I headed out for what we though would be a somewhat challenging 13.1 mile trail run.  The course was beyond anything that I ever would have imagined someone might consider run-able and we kept getting lost.  I believe the markers we were following were actually from the year before so they were kind of hit or miss.  Needless to say it was slow going.  I lost count of the numbers of streams we crossed and I was intimidated by the hills.  Not the ones that went up though….it was the going down.  It was slippery, sloped and full of stickers and roots but as if that weren’t enough there it was.  A rope on a trail in the middle of my run.  Not something I’ve ever encountered before but quite necessary considering the slope was too steep to walk, made a 90 degree turn halfway down, and on the other side of said rope was nothingness.  Of course our reaction to this discovery was “WTF?!”

As if that weren’t enough there were also swamps.  Plural swamps.  Two!  One we went completely around because the water was so murky and we had no idea how deep.  The other we decided to go through because at least you could almost tell how deep it was and what you were stepping on….until you got to the middle.  That is the point where fright kicked in and I lost all sense of composure and screamed and ran the rest of the way across.  It was because of snakes.  I am so very afraid of the snakes and the possibility and so yeah, I lost it.

Five hours, just over 14 miles (we completely lost the trail at mile 9) and one small disagreement later and we finally made it back to my jeep.

The next morning I woke up immediately tried to create a plausible back out plan.  I mean it took us 5 hours!  If the race starts at 7 AM and I have to be at work at noon than how is this even possible?  I had to spend the next two weeks convincing myself to tough it out, run faster and hopefully be able to finish in 3 1/2 hours or less so I can at least shower before going to work.

The night before the race I checked the race website and realized that I had the start time wrong.  It actually started at 8 AM.  Uh oh.  Not looking good for me.  Then there was also the fact that my Garmin display went out the week before and I didn’t even have a watch.  Greg said he would let me wear his and he would just use his stop watch.  So that was the plan.  Three and a half hours or less with his Garmin.

The next morning I found myself at the start line two minutes away from the start realizing I had nothing on my wrist.  That was the moment that I realized that I had laid everything out that I would need the next day except for the watch.  Greg accepts some blame for this as well since he actually loaded our vehicle and plus it was his watch.  In a split second we decided that I would be way too stressed out about time with having to go to work and all so he gave me his stop watch and then we were off.

I felt ok from the beginning as I watched him take off.  I settled into a comfortable pace which turned out to be a 10 minute first mile.  The second one was just slightly slower if the mile markers were correct.  After that I have no idea of pace at all.

I spent the next 9 miles trading places with 5 young marines that I eventually passed for good right before the two mile mark.  Shortly thereafter I passed another older guy that said his hips were killing him.  I told him he was doing great and that he was still faster than the group of young marines behind him.  He laughed.

At mile 10 the trail widened to a dirt road that is probably used for Humveea and such.  I happened to look down and see “HI LARA” drawn in the sand and was tickled.  Only my husband would stop in the middle of a race to write a message to me in the sand.  🙂  It was also at this point that I knew I would finish in about 3 hours which was a huge relief.

I crossed the finish line in 2:55.  I received my challenge coin and went straight for the car. Twenty five minutes later and I was showered and on my way to work while Greg was heading to bed for a 3 hour nap.

Later that day I received a text from him that said “I’d rather ruck a marathon, this was the single hardest physical event of my life.”

Probably doesn’t help that he had to do a 6 mile ruck march 24 hours before the race.  Probably helped me immensely that I am taking copious amounts of Prednisone right now. I guess UC flares can be good for something because I walked away from the experience thinking it wasn’t bad at all. 😉

 

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2013 Bridge Run Race Report

Part of the 2013 goals is to participate in at least one organized running event per month.  Keeping in mind all the other crazy running goals the Cochran’s have in mind for this year, we chose the Sidney Lanier Bridge Run (5K) in Brunswick, GA as our February run.  Why?  Because who isn’t drawn in by the claim that this is Georgia’s toughest 5K.

sidney_lanier_at_sunset_1_website_version_small

 

Since Clayton is the only one in the family that doesn’t run with Garmin I kept reminding him everything I had read about the race…..only 3/4 of a mile of the race is flat, 6% grade uphill and downhill on either side, and somewhere I had convinced myself that the race was two down and backs of the length of the bridge and subsequently I convinced everyone else of this as well.

I remember standing at the starting line with Greg to my right and Clayton to the right of him.  The guy to the left of me had turned to the guy behind him and said “I don’t even know what kind of time to run on this course….like how much should I add to my PR”.  Next thing I know I’m engaged in conversation with this guy about how last year’s winner ran it in 17 flat thus he should add somewhere around 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, blah blah blah which is really strange for me because I don’t usually talk candidly with people I don’t know.  I mean anyone at the original Loopfest can confirm this as I spent the majority of the time handing with the kiddos.  (By the way, that guy ended up wining his age group.)

Next thing I know the gun goes off and I spend the next 29 minutes and 30 seconds thinking about how much cooler 5K’s were when I could run them in a 7 minute pace…..somewhere about 30 lbs ago.  😦  The only thing different about running this race other than running slow was that Greg decided to run with me.

The idea of running with someone in a race is very foreign to me.  My XC coach was anti-run together even in practice (he would stagger start us) so even training side by side with someone feels weird.  I realize now that it’s difficult enough to maneuver through a race of 1000 or so runners let alone maneuvering as a pair.

Top of the bridge was the best.  A temporary reprieve from hell although Greg was a little surprised by how heavy I breathe when something is that taxing.  I think he might have even been alarmed…at least this is what I gathered from the frequency with which he kept turning to look at me.  As for me I was all about the straight ahead.  Focus and get it over with.

Somewhere along the way of the first rise of the bridge I realized that it was only possible for it to be a one time down and back of the bridge and hoped Clayton had figured it out as well.  Speaking of Clayton, as we were about halfway down the backside of the bridge we caught a glimpse of Clayton already going back up.  Greg had counted him at 33rd place overall and of course we screamed at him.

The second climb on the way back was equally as sucky as the first climb.  Really discouraging was the fact that I would see people stop and walk and then catch back up to me and even pass by.  I know that in longer races it’s okay to walk the hill and even recommended however my heart couldn’t bring myself to do it.  This was only a 5K.  No way.  Not walking.  Not now.

The last downhill surprised Greg.  I gave it all I had at times even hitting below a 6 minute pace.  I mean what the heck, it WAS downhill after all!

Out of 908 runners (the walkers were separate) Greg and I finished 327 and 328th respectively with an overall time of 29:30.  Clayton whom we spotted in 33rd place on the out and back, finished 15th overall in a time of 20:11, 3rd place in the 15-19 year old age group.  Yeah, yeah!  That’s MY kid!

sidney_lanier_bridge

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Harmony Church Track

Speedwork today for the first time in almost 3 years.  WHAT??!!  Yeah, for real.

Greg had the day off after his 24 hour duty thingy and so we did it together.  Went to the track at Harmony Church (which has nothing to do with a church at all).  The track is on a hill immediately north of a rather large section of barracks that houses privates in basic….which also means there are groups of privates in formation surrounded by lots of Drill Sargents.   I was intimidated enough to look at him half a dozen times  and say “they’re not going to come up here are they” and “are they going to make us leave” and “are girls supposed to even be up here”?  Nobody came up the hill to the track though and nobody made us leave.

Now mind you, it’s not your typical track.  No goal posts on either end.  No fancy grass in the middle.  Just a few gigantic hanging ropes, pull-up bars and gigantic tires.  He made me attempt to climb the ropes and lift the tire.  Let’s just say it’s not really my thing.

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photo (3)

As for the running, I did 3 x 800 m and Greg did 4 x 800 m with 400 m recovery jogs(Greg walked though…just sayin’) and a mile warm-up and cool-down.

G – 3:31  3:35 3:30 3:11

L – 4:04 4:07 4:09

Cool down was immediately followed by bugle playing of “To the Colors” showing honor to the nation and the lowering of the flag.  Neato!

 

 

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Hi!

It’s the first time I’ve even opened my wordpress blog since I can’t remember when.  Probably the first time since I’ve been in Georgia.  I also checked out the loop tonight and once again it’s a different format.  I see public messages are back and that’s kind of funny.  Wish I knew who left me comments in 09/10 because apparently the user that left them was blocked from runner’s world.

I was bored so I guess that’s why I ventured back here.  Greg was assigned to guard duty for 24 hours as of 8 am this morning.  Something about guarding ammunition with a rifle and I said “ok, I’ll see you tomorrow morning”.  Lol it’d be too easy for him to have an affair.

I’ve reverted back to using smartcoach to train for a 10K in March.  I used active’s C25K app on my phone to get back in a regular rhythm because GA running had been so sporadic  (nearly non-existent).

2013 Running Goals:

  1. run at least one organized race per month
  2. run 2 marathons (one trail and one road)
  3. run 50K (trail)
  4. run half-marathon (trail) 24 hours after said 50K
  5. run 40 miler
  6. make Greg run all these races with me
  7. run far not fast

2014 Running Goals:

  1. run fast
  2. run faster than Greg again

2013 Completed Races

  1. Polar Bear 5K (road) Marietta, GA 01/26 28:56 9:20 pace 303/998

2013 Planned Races

  1. Sidney Lanier Bridge 5K (road) Brunswick, GA 02/16
  2. Fallen Heroes of Georgia 10K (road) Buford, GA 03/16
  3. Chesty Puller Challenge 13.1 mile (trail) Ft. Benning 04/06
  4. Allatoona Creek Trail Run 8 mile (trail – duh it’s in the race name) Acworth, GA 04/13
  5. TBD Something in May
  6. Indiana Celina Challenge 26.2 (trail) Lake Celina, IN 06/08
  7. TBD Something in July
  8. TBD Something in August
  9. TBD Something in September
  10. West Virginia Trilogy 50K (trail) 10/11
  11. West Virginia Trilogy 50 Mile (trail) 10/12 (Greg only)
  12. West Virginia Trilogy 13.1 (trail) 10/13
  13. Soldier Marathon (road) Ft Benning 11/9
  14. Pine Mountain 40 miler (trail) Pine Mt, GA 12/8

Wow.  I had forgotten how sometimes just a simple act like writing could become self-motivating.  Cool.  Must be why I started doing this in the first place.

 

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Indiana/Celina Challenge Race Report

To summarize: I drove to Louisville and back, lost $14 dollars gambling at Churchill Downs, ran my first trail race, pooped in the woods, fell, completed my second half-marathon, , and was beat by 2- 14 year olds who completed their first half and trail marathon.  It was a good weekend and fun was had by all.

The long version:

Clayton and I picked up his friend Brett on Friday morning en route to our day and a half adventure.  Our first destination was Churchill Downs in Louisville.  While there are probably a lot more wholesome activities than gambling, let’s be real here…..gambling on horses surrounded by a grandstand full of characters some of which are well on their way to drunk, is a load of fun.  We downloaded the FastBet Mobile application, loaded our $40 bucks and placed our bets.  Five races later we had cashed out with some wins and mostly losses, totaling $14 bucks.

We checked into our hotel and headed to Olive Garden for dinner.  This was followed by the boys swimming in the hotel pool while I skyped with Greg and then took a little nap.

The next morning came early with a wake-up time of 4:30 AM.  We had an hour drive west of Lousiville to Bristoe, IN.  The race is held on two lakes loop which is part of The Hoosier National Forest.  There is an 8 mile, half-marathon and full marathon trail run.  The half is one loop around both lakes and then obviously the full is two loops.  Each loop consists of a total of 3150 ft total elevation gain, crossing of 3 streams (although I think I counted more), and a whole lot of everything you might expect of a trail run except for snakes.  Thank God I did not see any snakes.

Upon arriving in the park we were given our car tag for entry, followed by a stop where we were checked off of the entry list and given our t-shirts.  Then we were sent to a small parking lot where people parked haphazardly wherever they could find a spot.  I immediately noticed one bathroom with a long line of both gals and guys.  Not really what you want to see when you really have to go.  Especially when you have a five minute shuttle ride to the actual starting line, you’re not really sure what the bathroom situation is once you get up there and you only have about 20 minutes to go until race time.

The unisex non-flushing toilet without running water:

So yes, for those of you that read my loopville post (and the above summary) I DID poop in the woods.  Better to do it there than wait in that line or have to right at the start of the race when we’re all bunched in on a tiny narrow trail.  Felt good too.  Just sayin’.  (Oh and I  also made Clayton and Brett scurry through the woods along my intended path to a big tree in hopes of scaring away any snakes that might be hanging out.  You know, kind of like those guys that used to drink the king’s wine to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.)

The three of us caught the shuttle and proceeded to the get your name written on your hand with a permanent marker station.  This is much better than an annoying race bib and pretty much the style of the whole race….simple and adequate.  After that we were off to the start line where we headed to the back.  I wanted to make sure the boys started off slow especially considering the fact that neither had run farther than 6 miles.  A short set of instructions were given by Chris Hollinden the race director and then he hollered out a “ready, set, go”.

We immediately began the process of merging into a single file line to enter the trail head which resulted in a lot of walking for about a mile…..a mile and a half if you ask Clayton.  By that time we were spread out enough to where you were mostly running by yourself.  It was within this first mile that I realized how inexperienced I was at running on trails.  I mean it was downright frightening at times.  I know I’m not in great racing shape but even if I were I still can’t imagine running much faster than I actually did.  The scenery was beautiful I think but I really didn’t get a chance to see much of it.  I was too focused on the trail and trying to stay upright.  I started to keep track of how many times I almost fell but I ended up losing count.

I did actually fall once.  It was right after the first aid station which was at the 4 mile mark. I was running along when I noticed this big guy in front of me drop, tuck and do a side roll.  It was so freakin’ fast and graceful that after he went down, rolled and got back upright I actually thought to myself “wow, did he mean to do that”.  It wasn’t but a moment later…..at about the time I passed the very spot where he fell that I suddenly shot forward subsequently landing on both knees, my left palm and my right shoulder, AT THE SAME TIME. I landed facing the trail backwards, watching the two chatty girls behind me run towards me.  Not graceful at all.  Having now fallen on both concrete and a trail  in almost the same manner, I can assure you that falling on a trail is much less painful.

Time was of no concern to me on this run.  While I was aware of it, I didn’t care about it.  I just wanted to finish without stitches.  I walked much of the hills.  Funny too that my heart rate actually was more elevated when I was walking than when I was running.  That was how crazy hilly the hills were.  There were moments that they seemed to go on forever the worst of which was followed by the fourth and final aid station.  Never been so happy to see Gatorade, Coke and M&M’s in all of my life.

I finished in a time of 2:46:44.  Just shy of an hour slower than my only other attempt at the half and 16:44 seconds slower than Greg’s prediction time for me.  Clayton and Brett finished in 2:30:55.

This race is awesome.  It’s a no nonsense run that that is put on by and benefits the local high school XC team.  There is no goodie bag, no medals, and no sponsors.  The aid stations were plentiful and I’m still in awe wondering how the heck they got the Gatorade and water coolers so deep in the woods.  The meal afterwards was amazing as well.  Your typical post race cheeseburger is usually cooked by some old, bald guy.  I’ll take the one from the strapping young lad any day of the week.  🙂

Finally, I just want to share with you the description on the race website:

Before you read any further into this website, realize that
this race is not for people running with babies in strollers
or for people dressed up like Elvis…this race is for
serious runners who want to race some of the most
difficult terrain in the Midwest. If you would rather run in
the suburbs and set a personal best running through the
parking lot of the local mall, please leave by clicking here.

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May She Run

I suck at the Loop anymore.  I only find myself coming here when I need something and I feel guilty about that.  Used to be a time where I felt like I gave as much as I took.  There also used to be a time where I read damn near every blog on there and now I just feel distant.  It’s not just the loop though…..I feel distant from everything.

Even running.

It’s crazy.  I mean I know I have a trail marathon coming up in 18 days and yet I cannot bring myself to lace up my shoes and get out there.  I have absolutely no desire to run.

Zip.  Zero.  None.

Last time I put in any miles was April 28th.  I ran a 5K with my son and a few co-workers. My son ran an incredible 19:16 at the age of 14 for 20th place while I could barely muster a 27 something.  Granted I was 7 weeks pregnant at the time but still, I’ve never been that slow.  I didn’t run the week following that.  I can’t remember why because too much has happened since then, but I didn’t run.  The miscarriage happened the following weekend.  It’s been 2 weeks and 2 days since and while a good week of recovery was necessary, there is absolutely no reason why I haven’t been able to get out there other since then except for my own lame excuses.  To summarize, we can blame it on Miller, Merlot and laziness.

You know it’s hard to get by when your husband has been out of the country for 10 months.  Sure, you can put on a good happy face most of the time  but when you’re constantly looking for the silver lining, it wears on  you.  While I walk around with a slightly broken heart shadowed by a cloud of lonely, everyone else seems to take the world for granted.  If you have the people you love the most right next to you every day then what the heck do you have to complain about?

I suppose I have a sort of woe is me kind of attitude….and that is definitely part of the problem.  I know so many others out there have it so much worse but that doesn’t really make my stuff feel any better.  I just need to suck it up and go run no matter how far or how fast and God willing, things will fall back into place.  In the meantime I hope I hear back from the race director for the June 9th trail marathon saying something to the effect of “Yes!  Yes you can downgrade from the full to the half!”

Alarm is set for tomorrow morning 6 AM.  We’ll see how far I get.

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Just Like That

If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,                                                                   Threatening the life it belongs to

– Lyrics from Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2 AM)

I remember waking up on the moment of April 6th and thinking to myself that it might have actually worked this time.  I reached into my dresser drawer to pull out a pregnancy test left over from before Greg left for South Korea, reminding myself not to get too excited so I didn’t have to feel the disappointment that I had felt every time before.  The results, that digital YES, raised my eyebrows into my hairline as I let out a squeal. Unconcerned with the time change, I called Greg to wake him and get him on Skype.

As I held the stick to the camera and he was able to process the image I saw demeanor change from the strength of a Soldier to the glee of a 5 year old on Christmas morning.  As much as we tried to be cautious our excitement got the best of us and within a week we had announced it to the world.

At that moment fetal age was 3 weeks but due to the way the medical world calculates due dates, I was considered 5 weeks pregnant.  Because of this our announcement was completely overshadowed by drama as family members stated that it was impossible for me to be that far along, which in our world opens the door to implications that the child was not his.  What followed was a world of hurt as two families that were already struggling to unify were completely torn apart.  As with every adversity that Greg and I have experienced as a couple, we grasped onto each other even tighter than before and moved forward with joy and giant sized expectations.  It was in a way bittersweet.

As the weeks passed, Greg filled his time reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting for Fathers” and I googled everything in regards to development, nutrition and exercise while pregnant.  We celebrated all of the milestones, embryo to fetus, heart  to heartbeat,spinal cord, facial features, and then tiny limbs. I began closing the button of my jeans with a hair band as my waistline grew too big to close properly.  I ordered a slew of maternity clothes from an outlet for a great bargain with all sales final and no returns.  A package which is not expected to arrive until next Monday.

Greg was in the field last week and we didn’t get to speak much but when we did it was centered around two things: 1) Clayton’s extraordinary record breaking track week and 2) the pregnancy.  Life felt anything but normal.  In fact it felt just grand.  Perfect.

Then came Saturday.  The majority of the day passed without incident until a seemingly normal trip to the bathroom revealed blood.  The doctor office was called, doctors were paged, and we were told unless my condition worsened that I was to wait it out at home and be seen in the office on Monday.  Statistically 20-30% of women experience bleeding during pregnancy and of those, 50% will go on to have successful pregnancies while the other half will end in miscarriage.  We prayed we were on the good sign of the coin. We tried to stay hopeful as we prepared ourselves for the worst.

By the next evening I was stricken with grief as I held our tiny baby in the cup of my hand.  With skin so translucent there was no question about it….everything that should have developed up to this point, seemed to have done so.  So why then, I questioned as I stared at the tiniest of tiny little limbs?  Why did something that seemed so perfect have to die?

I was 8 weeks pregnant.  Fetal age was 6 weeks.  It was one month to the day since I had the positive pregnancy test.  In a matter of 24 hours it was all over.  Just like that.

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