Newton Running. #luglove #newtonrunning #orangecrushers #feelnewton #hellobetter <3
The shoe that changed everything just got better. Can't wait to crush my first run in the new Motion V from
Newton Running. #luglove #newtonrunning #orangecrushers #feelnewton #hellobetter <3
Had an opportunity in April to jump the pond and race in Italy so I went for it. (Are you even surprised?) It was two races back to back, a 50k Saturday and a marathon on Sunday. How can you not jump at the chance!? Anyway, this was a whirlwind trip because I landed Friday, and was back in the office by Tuesday.
The first race, 50km da Romagna, was unreal. I’m not a total fan of the 50km distance because it feels too short and fast but this worked for a great weekend of training leading up to the May races. It starts in the town of Castel Bolognese near Faenza and travels out of the town in one giant loop. The highlight of the race is a good size climb in the middle. And it’s not like the hills in Austin, this is a really nice long climb that takes some work. Outside of the climb, the course is spectacular especially given the time of year. The wisteria was in full bloom. I’m talking about clouds and clouds and clouds of wisteria billowing over balconies and on the sides of buildings. It’s almost intoxicating running past some of the sections because the fragrance is so intense and sweet. Of course given the region, vineyards are not in short supply here either.
Oh yeah…results...so I ended up running a 3:57 which was good enough to grab 8th female overall. Not too shabby considering the jet lag and travel less than 24-hours prior to the race and the fact that I only managed 4 hours of sleep before I was staring at the ceiling trying to figure out where I was. Such a weird feeling… I ran the race in my go-to coupling: Newton Gravity’s and Dry Max Maximum Protection Socks. No need to change what works perfectly every time. <3
Oh and the day before the race I was treated to a mild earthquake while standing in the lobby waiting to go pick up my race packet. For a moment I thought the building had major construction. But no… just a little earth shaking that’s all. GULP!
Post race we piled up in the square inhaling gelato (HIGHLIGHT of traveling to Italy - endless amounts of gelato). Ok disclaimer… maybe I was the only one inhaling gelato. Everyone was enjoying theirs calmly. Hahaha
The Rimini Marathon starts in well, Rimini. Imagine that. I can’t figure out why it’s such an exciting race other than everything about it. The course follows along the Adriatic Sea / Oceanfront of the town and then takes you inland for a while before finally bringing you back to what looks like the main arch of a castle that once stood centuries ago. Except, the arch is the only thing left. People line the streets screaming and shouting like we’re all superstars….every single one of us. I pretended I was Wonder Woman. And then I tripped and fell.
I’m joking about the Wonder Woman and falling part….
I wasn’t sure what to expect running the marathon following a hard effort 50k. Because dinner doesn’t start until my bed time in Italy, I was faced with yet another late night. I think it was almost 2am before I fell asleep. But let me assure you, I’m not complaining because the food was divine! I was treated to local a variety of piadinas (native to the Romagna region), of course delicious pizza, and other delectable items. Heaven, and perfect for refueling.
The race has a late morning start which meant heading to a local coffee shop and enjoying beautiful breakfast pastries and more espresso. (OMG YES!) Getting to the race felt like walking into a bee hive, but I suppose that’s every race. This bee hive was fabulous though because everyone is speaking in Italian and so by default the bee hive magically turns into a poetic buzzing sound. I can’t explain the high I get from hearing people speaking in Italian but their language is overflowing with double consonants, z’s, i’s, and other letters that would totally help me win a Scrabble game. It’s beautiful and, in small increments I’m getting better at speaking the language which means certain words leave my mouth feeling like it just got a massage. But I digress…
I ran the marathon with two other fellow ultra peeps that had also ran the 50km so at least I was in good tired-leg company. Although these two are wicked fast. The pace was a pretty good clip out of the gate and I almost thought we were hitting a 3-hour pace but they started talking about this and that which eased the pace down a bit.
Toward the end of the race, my legs started feeling the effects of the weekend. We passed a few women but weren’t sure where I stood in the lineup. I stopped looking at my watch and instead focused my attention to the heels of the guys trying to stay pace. Every few minutes one of them would yell, “Brenda Dai!” which means, Brenda come on! Easier said then done, they made it look easy! Once we arrived back into town adrenaline took over and miraculously, I forgot about my exhaustion. We came through with a cool 3:13, only two minutes off my PR from the previous month. SWEET and FOR REAL!?!? The finish line was just under the big old arch. A-MAZ-ING. My time was good enough for 7th female overall.
I love a good high mileage training weekend, but this definitely took the cake.
I drove up last Friday to Irving, my old stomping grounds from my 20's to use the Irving Marathon as a training run for another high mileage weekend. The race starts in Las Colinas, which is a beautiful and perfectly planned city. It's been about 16 years since I lived there and boy has it changed - - for the better! Las Colinas is all grown up with gorgeous high rise buildings and a quiet monorail systems that gracefully circles the city's top spots. It's one of those moments when you realize you miss something that you didn't know you missed. The landscaping through Las Colinas is always perfect with crisp edged lawns and brilliant flowers that scream loud like a big crayon box of colors. Heading into Las Colinas though, I had to drive through downtown Dallas. During the day it's nice, but stereotypical of most big cities in Texas. At night though, which is when I drove through, the skyline was like glitter falling from the sky. All of the buildings were lit up showing off their best. I'd forgotten how magical the Dallas skyline can be.
The late arrival got me to the hotel almost at 10pm which didn't have me very concerned since I was merely running the race the next day as a training run. Coach Amanda had me on a tight leash with exact instructions for every mile through the 20 mark. Ugh!! I secretly wanted to just go hard from start to finish but I also know from experience that Coach is always right. Always. So I had enough time to barely gulp down a pizza before heading off to bed. I figured with the marathon starting at 9am, I had plenty of time to sleep in a little and still get my scheduled warm-up in. Ummm...wrong. Something inside caused me to double check the start time and thankfully I did because the marathon started at 7:30am, not 9am! NOOOOO... Oh well, visions of enjoying a Skinny Vanilla Latte prior to the race quickly faded away. I was stuck drinking some kind of strange looking coffee from the hotel room, at least I hope that was coffee but there's no telling.
I got to the starting line with enough time to warm-up and off we went. The first mile was a pretty good clip only because of the downhill. I found myself with a few other women upfront and could tell they were there to run it fast. Too bad that by mile 2, I had to scale it way back because that was Coach's orders. It seemed strange to be in the lead pack and than intentionally slow it down. At about the same time, this girl flew past me and the rest of the gals. She was on suicide pace while in the meantime, I'm plugging along in my prescribed heart rate zone. I can do this, I can do this...stay the course!! I kept telling myself so as not to go crazy. An iPod helps too. I switched to one of the newly uploaded songs and took my mind off competing. The goal wasn't to win, it was to land my training and set me up for another long run on Sunday.
Miles clicked by with the same girl upfront. Ohhhh I wanted so badly to try and catch her but I'm proud of myself for trusting Coach enough to hold back. My only saving grace was that she gave me open heart rate zones for the final 10k. That would be my only section to run hard. Before that, I was caged up like a bull waiting for the gate to swing open.
In the meantime, I took some time to reflect on training, some of the obstacles I've had the last few months and looked ahead to what my goals are for the race season. I also enjoyed the course which took us through the beautiful Campion multi-use path. This path was under construction when I lived there and it was nice to see how it came together throughout Las Colinas and Valley Ranch. One of the highlights was literally running past my old house which has terrific memories.
Coming through mile 18ish we had a long steady hill with head wind. I could see the lead girl ahead and lucky for me, I'd been running easy prior to this point. I gained on her and by mile 19 was sitting on her heels still waiting for the final 10k mark to let it fly. Of course, the question was how much did she have left in the tank?
I took off for the finish line and never bothered to look at my watch again. There were a few times where I wondered if she was sitting on my heels but at the end of the day one of two things would happen - either I was going to win, or she was going to win. It made no sense to look back and I floored it to the finish line.
Coming through the final two miles I remember was another long steady hill before entering the final stretch. Many of the half-marathoners were also finishing up and I was happy to be able to cheer them on. My legs felt like little pistons from the engine of a high speed train.
And so exactly what I didn't think would ever happen, did. I ran a 3:11 PR and won first female overall during a training run. Hahahaha! Some days life throws you lemons, and other days it hand feeds you chocolate covered strawberries. Or in my case, I enjoyed a cupcake (no pictures of the cupcake in case I ever want to deny that I would eat such a thing)!
A terrific moment in time that comes and goes quickly. By Sunday morning I was grunting and groaning up and down hills in the rain with cars spraying road grit all over me. Lemons?
Here's some pics from the marathon. And if you're in the area next year, I highly recommend the race! The course is almost exclusively on a perfectly paved path but when it goes onto the road it's coned off from traffic. Aid Stations are amazing with all sorts of goodies. I didn't stop to use them but it seemed like they had an abundance of stuff at each one. The course is also setup nicely to allow for friends and family to come out and cheer in multiple locations with two out and back sections. Perhaps what I loved the most though was the ease of parking only a few feet from the start and having access to the Irving Convention Center for bathrooms and stretching. The morning was chilly but we all enjoyed staying warm inside the building until gun time. Oh and the medals and trophies are FABULOUS! Thanks to everyone that helped make the Irving Marathon a memorable one!
And one last note, I honestly think it was my orange crusher Newton Gravities and DryMax Socks. For real! :)
Had a little high mileage week of fun recently at the Austin Marathon. The race ended a triple digit week of miles for me. My official marathon PR was 3:32 from a year ago at same race so I thought it might be fun to finish the long week with a new PR. Coach Amanda gave me the green light to run how I felt.
SG, a fellow Newtonite and my running partner, and I set out for a solid training run. I followed his lead running whatever he wanted to run. We spend most weekend training on parts of the course anyway that it felt like a normal weekend run.
Below are some pics. No need to bore you with the nitty gritty. Cheers!!
Newton Running Elite had a fabulous 2014! Check out the press release below or click HERE.
What's in store for us in 2015????
Well it's about time the calendar flipped to May!! I'm so excited about this next adventure because I get to combine my two greatest passions: Ultra road running and Italy!!!
On May 17th at noon local time (5am Texas time) I toe the line to the Nove Colli race. This is a 125-mile road race that starts in Cesenatico, Italy. Cesenatico is a little coastal town off the Adriatic Sea. That being said, the race is anything but flat. Nove Colli literally means, Nine Hills, and that is what the course will give us. Nine climbs with nine time cutoffs. And two pasta parties to refuel while we run. Heart be still... I cannot describe what is going through my mind. I've been waiting three years to do this race! Equally exciting is that my super coach Amanda McIntosh is coming with me to crew and pace - -girls gone wild. Kidding. Completing the Carawan Caravan is Antonio Jacopo a local Italian ultrarunner who has graciously volunteered to help crew and pace. I met Antonio through my friend, Carmelo, who I met in the middle of running Spartathlon. (I love how ultrarunning not only opens the doors to new places but also puts amazing people in your path along the way.) I cannot wait to practice my Italian with Antonio along the miles. :)
Following Nove Colli, Amanda and I will head over to Firenze where I'll have six days to rest, recover and get ready for round two: the 42nd edition of del passatore 100k on May 24th. Ok-ok...I get that this is a lot of miles but if I'm flying all the way over to Europe I might as well go full monty. The hard part for this race (aside from trashed legs from Nove Colli) will be the 3pm start time (8am Texas time). Oh and there's a 10-mile, 2300ft+ climb right smack in the middle of the race. I'm not really sure what will happen to me at this race, but I'm going to go do it anyway. The course is all road, point-to-point, starting in the heart of Firenze and ending in Faenza. In a nutshell, it runs straight through Tuscany! Yum-yum-yummy!
Suffice it to say, I'll be racking up some serious mileage on my Newton shoes!! In tow I'm bringing my go-to Gravity pair but also including the new Distance III because there's potential for rain at both races. The new five lug soles are nice and grippy on the road!
So there you have it, my spring ultrarunning adventure. Rest assured in between races there will be plenty of caloric gluttony involved, but not of the liquid variety....I'll have to wait until the flight back to enjoy a little Italian wine. :)
Huge shout out to my Newton Running Elite teammates - they will all be together for Boulder Boulder weekend and I'm sorry to miss meeting all of them and hanging out. Good luck!! I'm sending SG with a surprise for all of you!!
Below is a flyover of the first race with a caveat - - Nove Colli originated from a cycling race. So the flyover is the bike course and NOT EXACTLY the run course. I've been told the difference is in the start and finish locations but in general this is very close.
Wish me luck! Ciao!!
I was recently contacted by Justin and Rachel Speer from Operation:Ultra to participate in a podcast and talk about the Keys100 race. This is my first podcast so I was a bit nervous, but they were really neat to talk to and I love that they're also ultrarunners which made for an easy conversation. Runners talking about running - is there anything better?
Bob Becker, Race Director of the Keys100 also spent some time with them to talk about his fabulous race down in the Florida Keys. If you're on the hunt for a super stellar, and very well organized road ultra - you have arrived at your destination. Keys100 delivers on everything it promises ++. 2014 has a fantastic line up of ultrarunners which is sure to bring new course records.
You can listen to the podcast here.
March 1st summed up my early spring "trilogy" of races. I rang in the new year this January, with the flu, I found myself plagued with cabin fever as well. It's amazing what the flu can do to a runner. The amount of time spent in bed feeling like death has taken over certainly paves a path for dreaming, plotting and planning because what else are you going to do with that much down time.
And so I embarked on getting back into training knowing February/March would provide three race-style weekends of testing nutrition, gear, and most importantly providing the social aspect that I'd been missing. I tend to be a bit reclusive during peak training so on shoulder seasons it's fun being surrounded by lots of runners. Scratch that. What I REALLY wanted was to be fully immersed in race weekend excitement - the expos, the crowds, getting there early for parking, the post race finish line chute and hello - finishline bling. You get the idea. All the while I also had a job to do which was meeting several goals so I devised a point system:
1. Do what Coach Amanda said. (25 pts)
2. Test and/or land breakfast and race nutrition. (25 pts)
3. Keep it light and fun. (25 pts)
4. Practice balance by indulging a little post race.
The trilogy kicked off February 16th with the Austin Marathon. I was proud of myself for getting up early enough to eat breakfast. Usually I opt for sleep instead and then pay the price as I'm shoving stuff down at the last second. It was also Valentine's day weekend so I stayed up late Friday with my Valentine which wasn't crazy or anything but I'd had a stomach bug all week and it was zapping my energy. Stomach bug + late night out = not a good mix. Saturday took half a day to get me up and out to the expo for packet pickup. Not what I had in mind but not much I could do either. Race morning just as I arrived I got sick again leaving me thankful because in theory there was nothing left to get rid of. (hey-hey! glass full!) We took off running and very quickly I found my groove. Compared to last year where the hills were kicking my butt, this year the course felt heavenly. I read as many signs as I could along the way, joked around with runners and in general felt grateful to be out there. The race went by in a flash! Unfortunately the last three miles I flew blind because my watch died. Note to self: charge watch! Coach Amanda had given me a few extra miles afterward so I had to guess based on number of city blocks but the real silver lining was that I realized that in my hazy flu fog I paid extra to have two breakfast tacos waiting for me at the finish line!! Oh happy days!! Post cool down, I hunted down my tacos and treated myself to a little greasy indulgence.
1. 23 pts (2 point deduction for not charging watch and therefore running blind
2. 25 pts had breakfast and good calories evenly through run
3. 25 pts Yes and yes! Even on hills.
4. 25 pts two greasy tacos.
TOTAL: 98 pts
Part two was the Cowtown 50k in Fort Worth Texas, February 23rd. A special day for me because I got to debut in my Newton Running Elite team uniform….but I also didn't know that was going to happen until about 72 hours prior and leading up to the
weekend where I was envisioning a repeat of Austin Marathon. Race morning was bright and early for breakfast (yay!) and off to the race site. My final instructions from Coach Amanda: "run how you feel." And final instructions from NRE boss, "just go out there and have fun and btw the course record is within reach". Ummm…..check-check and duly noted. We made our way up to the starting area with a few seconds to spare before gun time. Heading out of the gate I met the 3:25 pace group peeps where I settled in. What a fun group and non-stop chit chat. I also noticed that the guys in this group had much more colorful outfits
then the ladies. Oh, and what I also learned was that a lot of the men purposely hung out in this pace group because it's apparently defined as "one of the popular women pace groups" due in part by BQ times. So I wondered, is this like animal kingdom attraction where the most colorful birds are males and the less colorful birds are females? Is this why the men are dressed like a box of crayons today?
Hmmm...by this point I think we were just passing the half marathon distance and one of the guys pointed out to me that the 3rd place ultra girl was in front of me. So an interesting feature to this 50k is that the top 3 men and women are followed by lead cyclists. The group decided I needed to move on and pass her but it also meant leaving them. Part of me liked the automatic pacing and was enjoying the groups humor but ultimately I went on to pass the 3rd place and 2nd place gals leaving me now in 2nd. My cyclist escort was really cool and was kind enough to put up with my various Rocky movie impersonations...
"Eyeofthetiger! Eyeofthetiger!" and "You SEE! You SEE! He's Not Machine, He's a Man!" Yep, he was a very good sport along the way. Eventually we came up on the gal that was in first and I watched her from afar for a long while. My cyclist looked at her and looked at me staying silent. I finally told him that we would get there when we get there but there was no sense in rushing. Along the way, I took a quick diagnostic check:
Heart rate? What coach said.
Running Form? Good.
Happy and having fun? Check and check.
I passed her and finished up with a course record and win. Even more spectacular was that another NRE teammmate, Scott Weitecha, won part of the big cash purse prize for the marathon race!! No cash in the 50k distance but I did get the absolute coolest black felt Stetson (just in time for the Austin Rodeo in March!!).
1. 25 pts. I ran how I felt.
2. 22 pts. Breakfast and nutrition went well but at the finish line I had a dire need for salt. 4-5 mini pickle juice bottles later, I felt normal.
2. 25 pts. Had a blast
3. 23 pts. Enjoyed a mini ice cream and cookie at the finish but opted for sushi dinner versus something nice and greasy. And I had an opportunity to eat a Dunkin Donut which I passed up for fruit and chocolate milk. Grrrr..
TOTAL: 95 pts.
Finishing up the trilogy I flew east to Deerfield Beach, Florida for the Palm 100k. This is a low key event but nevertheless it's 100k so one must still respect the distance. What made this weekend particularly exciting was getting to hang out with some all around cool ultra peeps like Brad "Peacock" Lombardi (my crew) and Dave Krupski... (whoIbeatbyfourteenminutesatthekeys100lastyear). Sorry Dave, I couldn't resist muahaha.. Moving right along…
Race morning: slept in and didn't land breakfast. Grrr. . . Weather wise, we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was fabulous. At the last second I almost had a little crisis when Garmin didn't sync but Brad figured out how to fix it. Whew!
We did a little count down to gun time and were off. The course is 16-miles out and back on asphalt path and sidewalks, twice. As we made our way down, the sun and clouds looked amazing resting on the shoreline. The day begged for long miles. Dave ran the 50k which was one out and back. Plus his wave started 15 minutes behind so it would be a bit before we would get to run together but we got in a couple of good miles. He went on to place 3rd which is terrific considering that the weekend before he ran 110! I couldn't believe how fast the miles clicked by. By the second out and back I put my mixology hat on and tried
mixing different nutrition just to see what would happen. On training races although I get nervous and still treat it like a race I do find it's a great opportunity to try different stuff to see what works and what doesn't. The other part is when it doesn't work, it opens up an opportunity to figure out how to fix the problem in a race format. For this race, I played with nutrition....and it backfired. By the 40-mile mark my stomach was doing backflips. The tough part of this race is that there are no designated
porta-potties. Runners have to go off the course and ask store vendors for permission to use the bathroom. That's a tough thing to do when the course is already over a mile long. Adding bathroom stops in just makes it longer and there are no guarantees that the businesses will let you use the bathrooms. I got lucky that the sign reading, "Bathrooms not for public use" didn't apply to
me that day as the store manager was gracious enough to give me access. In and out in 3 minutes (according to Brad), I started feeling better on the final stretch. My final goal for the day was to practice good form. It gave me something to busy the mind.
With roughly 8 miles to go Brad came on the course to let me know the men's course record. We did some calculating but knowing how Amanda wanted me to run that day, I wasn't sure if I'd break the course record for the men. Fortunately we had a reprieve. When we calculated paces it was based on a 6am start, but the race started at 6:15 giving me wiggle room to come through and break both the men and women course records and first place overall. GREAT day!
25 pts I ran exactly how Amanda wanted.
20 pts. Sleeping in versus eating breakfast was a dumb idea. But thumbs up on testing and getting stomach back on track, quickly.
24 pts. Except for briefly feeling ill, felt very happy to run over four hours. Yay!
25 pts. Overindulged with Brad at the nearby restaurant and had no regrets.
Total: 94 pts
Overall Trilogy Scoring: 96 I'll take it, plus the extra work I need to get done.
Austin Marathon: Newton Gravity Shoe
Cowtown 50k: Newton Elite Shoe
Palm 100k: Newton 4-lug Distance
DryMax Maximum Protection Socks
Ice scarf at Palm 100k.
Stay tuned..the A Race is coming soon!
Well I have some very exciting news to share. It's been out for a week or two but I needed some time to build up courage to write about it. Many of you know, I’ve been a true diehard fan of Newton Running shoes since fall 2010 when Coach Amanda and my friend Frank sold me on every aspect of the shoe. Slowly over months I found myself the proud of owner of, at times, 14 pairs *BIG SMILE*. So over the holidays I had an opportunity to run with a local fellow, Stephen Gartside, who is part of the Newton Running family. Stephen and I met up for the first time on a 20-miler - - because you know -- there’s no better way to meet someone then on a 20-miler run in the middle of winter at o’dark thirty in the morning. He arrived covered in Newton from head to toe. I felt jealous. I wore Newton shoes but that was the extent of my personal Newton running attire. At a very speedy clip we took off running and the man talked my ear off the entire way! It was wonderful. I didn’t have to do anything but run while he talked and talked, all about Newton too. This led into several more long runs and more chats about Newton. The end result? I officially made it on the Newton Running Elite Team!!
I’m really so excited and humbled about this opportunity for so many reasons but the biggest reason is how much their shoes mean to me as an ultrarunner. By now I’ve spent thousands of miles running in Newtons and look forward to thousands more, preferrably on the road. :)
Being on the team does scare the hell out of me though - - my teammates are WICKED FAST. And by fast I mean, I need a calculator to figure out what they're talking about! Luckily, they accepted me as, thatgirlthatrunsreallyfar. So on that note, not much will change. I’m still on a mission to seek out 100+ mile distances of asphalt pounding.
Wait, there is one change. My running clothes will be much more colorful than the usual all-white or all-black I typically sport. Sigh...I failed the color wheel lesson in art class, this will take some adjustment. :)
Stay tuned. . . 2014 adventures are just getting started.