Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guest Blogger: Dean Geiring's 24 Hour at Three Day at the Fair, 5/14/15

This Spring, I had the honor of getting to know Dean while helping him train for his first big 24 hour effort.  Through our daily messaging, I was able to see first hand just how dedicated Dean is to his running goals.  I witnessed Dean tackle amazing running challenges like 80 miles in a week with a marathon at the end of those 7 days.  He is strong, smart, and consistent.  He was ready for a 24 hour event!

I have to also thank Stephen Bandfield for being a great friend to Dean.  Steve's presence at the race and his phones calls with me in the middle of night helped me to stay a part of Deans event.  Stephanie Ruzicka also must be thanked for her help in providing assistance when Dean was hitting a low point (which always happens in 24 hour racing). Thank you both so very much for being there!

24 hour racing is truly a team sport.  Sure, it is possible to go out there alone and get it done well.  But I think when a runner knows they have people behind them…. to help them remember why they should push through their strong desire to stop... to gather up the heap of a person they will become by the next day... to think for them when they are have used all their available energy to fight to move their physical form mindlessly forward… it makes it possible for a runner to leave it all on the course.

Good Training an Good Friends are key ingredients to Great 24 hour performances.  Please take a look Dean's report where he shares his first 24 Hour Race experience with us!


Dean's 24 Hour Race Recap

My 3 Days at the Fair 24 hour race started off on a nice Thursday, May 14th morning at 9am. The first few miles were about settling in. I had a long way to go and there was no rush. It was important to not feel like I was pushing and I wasn’t. The first 10 miles were mostly run non-stop with taking drinks and food periodically. By the time I was into the teens, the conditions started to change (at least from my point of view). The temperature wasn’t very hot, but there was no cloud cover and the sun was making the pavement warm. I was going well beyond 20 miles and my friend Loretta came up to run a few laps with me. It was here I noticed salt on my dark top. I made efforts to drink more and kept going. It was feeling hotter, but I used mental milestones as a way to push through. Hitting the marathon distance was a nice psychological boost.

Beyond the marathon things started to get a little more difficult. I’m not sure exactly when, but remember stopping to use the bathroom due to my stomach bothering me. I had a few quick bathroom breaks earlier, but this was longer. I was able to get back out there and my next goal was 50K. Now the heat was starting to get to me more. I hit 50K and my energy began to wane. I think it was in mile 33 I sat down in the shade for a break. After eating and drinking for a little while, I got back up. My friends Lisa, Sue, and Sean came up to see me. We walked and jogged some. It was here I said to myself, it will get better once the sun goes down. If I can make it to sundown, I’ll be ok. My friend Leah stopped by to set up her tent for her race and saw I wasn’t feeling my best, but I kept repeating my thoughts about making it to sundown.

I was up and down from mile 33 to 45. When darkness fell, I felt better and kept counting miles down to my first goal of 100K (62 miles). I was running more with breaks at some points during most laps.

Then I entered the darkest place I’ve ever been to during a long distance event.

Right before finishing mile 44, my energy began to wane again. This time it felt worse than earlier. I was exhausted and had slowed to an almost crawling walk. I was wondering could I be fighting something off. After crossing 44 miles, I walked to my SUV and sat on the back bumper. Maybe I just needed to rest a little. There was a lot of time left in the event…nearly 12 hours still. My friend Stephanie had seen me not feeling well and encouraged me to follow her to where she and her boyfriend Corey were camped. She did not want me to be alone and said she was worried about me. I decided to take her up on her offer. As we walked, I began to feel worse. My head felt like it was on fire and I was shaking. The worst part was at one point feeling like I didn’t know where I was. I found myself standing and staring as my friend calling out to me. It was like I couldn’t hear her.

We got to their campsite where I was wrapped in blankets and a sleeping bag with given water. I was told I looked pale and asked Stephanie to let Steve and Rick know what was going on. Steve came by a little while later and we talked. He believed I was overheated from the sun earlier, dehydrated and depleted. Being a veteran ultra-marathon runner, he has seen some dark times and had help getting through them. Now he was offering to help me and knew I could get past what I was going through. He recommended taking an hour nap to help with the exhaustion. I wanted to continue and agreed to nap to see how I’d feel.

My nap didn’t feel like great sleep. I was shaking from chills and had a hard time being comfortable, but closing my eyes brought some relief. An hour later, Steve came back and asked how I was doing. I was still feeling out of it and a little tight from being immobile. This was normal and he recommended taking in more fluids and eating more. I needed refueling from what he was saying and agreed to give it a try. Before that, he said I needed to change. I needed to layer up including putting long pants on. It was much cooler with the sun down and I needed to get warm. Layering with fueling would help with battling the chills.

Steve walked me to my SUV where I layered up and given a Gatorade. I was not only wearing my clothes. He had an extra sweatshirt and a jacket which he had me wear. We then discussed food and grilled cheese sounded good. We walked back to where I left off of during the lap and told me to walk with drinking the Gatorade. My sandwich would be ready when I came through the aid area.

Now back on my feet I concentrated on getting moving again. I was bummed about losing time, but knew I couldn’t do anything about it. My legs loosened up as I walked and I thought they felt good after resting. Maybe there was something to taking breaks. I slowly drank the Gatorade and marched on. I crossed 45 miles and Steve gave me my grilled cheese sandwich. He asked how I felt and I believe I said “I’m managing” or something to that effect. He said I looked better and to eat.

Mile 46 was another walking lap with taking in my sandwich. This was the first grilled cheese I had in a while and it was tasty. It seemed to lift me physically and psychologically. After finishing the sandwich, I continued walking and noticed my pace was beginning to quicken.

I began mile 47 with a renewed sense of purpose. Steve and others said I looked better, asked how I felt and my response was “pretty good.” In addition, I started to shed layers due to feeling warm which Steve enthusiastically told me was a good sign. I continued to pick up the walking pace and felt very confident 50 miles was a given. Then 12 to 100K. I met and chatted with a nice women named Melissa who encouraged me to go for 50. Not long after that, I began to run again.

My new running beginning wasn’t fast, but it felt good. As I ran, the earlier rough feeling receded further into memory. I was feeling reborn and even wondered if I had dreamt the whole thing. With feeling so good again, I put it behind me and pushed on. I’d run some sections, walk some, say hello to people and the cycle would repeat. As I came through each mile, I’d shed another layer and grab food. For some reason, I was so happy to see peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Steve said something along the lines of “he’s happy, he’s goofy, and he’s fine.” Race director Rick commented how much better I looked. I gave thumbs up and moved on.

Mile 50 came up and I had a brief stop to talk on the phone with my coach, Shannon who was talking with Steve on the phone. He passed me the phone and said someone wants to say hello. It was nice to hear Shannon’s voice who asked how I was doing and gave a yay at hitting 50 miles. We talked for a little while and she encouraged me to get to 100K as soon as possible. Then eat more food and take a half hour nap if I needed. I agreed and took off again.

Miles 51-57 were great miles where I repeated the steps of running, walking, and grabbing food often. After 57, my legs started to feel a little tired so I altered my running/walking as I saw fit. I may have been a little too enthusiastic about reaching 100K as soon as possible. At one point, I had to remind myself to slow down. I was in good spirits so I concentrated on forward progress. Miles 58-60 were slower and I made 2 bathroom stops. All the food I ate and running a little quicker earlier was messing with my stomach. I was feeling better by mile 60.

The last couple miles to 100K were slow. I was feeling ok walking, but didn’t feel much energy to run. I hit 100K and was happy I made it. This was a goal I trained so long for and was successful! Steve had me take a half hour nap after. It was hard to get comfortable in my SUV. I think I tossed and turned most of the half hour. When the 30 minutes were up, Steve came by and asked how I was doing. Honestly at this point fatigue was setting in. There were still around 3 and a half hours left for my event. Steve said start walking and joined me.

It was starting to get light out as I began walking again. I was going slow and decided I needed a pick up when I got to the aid station. Coffee and some food sounded nice (especially the coffee). I was fighting sleepy tiredness and wanted caffeine. After mile 63, I grabbed a cup of coffee with some food items (can’t remember which) and started walking again. I drank the coffee and ate as I continued on. It was around 6am now and I felt content with walking. However, my energy started to return with the food intake and caffeine boost. I started to think about what I could do in the remaining time.

I was finished eating by the time I crossed 64 miles and had picked up the pace again. Feeling more awake, I started to run and was able to duplicate the run/walk cycle from earlier. It seemed to be going very well until my stomach started bothering me and I needed a bathroom break. I had to walk to keep the feeling from worsening. After mile 65, I stopped. Then the same thing happened after 66 & 67. I was like “damn that coffee was potent.” I was losing time with the recurrent breaks.

My stomach was better in mile 68 and I didn’t have to stop again until after I finished the race. It was now daylight and I had less than 2 hours to go. I knew I had 70 miles in the bag and started to run/walk again. As the time continued to tick away, I was amazed I could still run at times. My training over the winter and early spring was really showing its benefits.

Mile 70 came up and Steve said you can make 72. I checked my watch and saw I had plenty of time for it. Even with the time, I gave myself an extra cushion by running more than my usual intervals. In the event my stomach acted up and needed to visit the men’s room, I wanted to make sure I had enough time to make 72. Ten miles beyond 100K sounded so nice at that point. I got further quicker in 71 and my legs started to rebel again, but I was successful in my aim. When I crossed 71 miles, I had about 28 minutes left to do one more mile. With my legs reaching the point of where I felt at 100K, I did my best to maintain a brisk walk. As I set out for one last mile, I asked Steve to be near the finish in about 15 minutes.

I was able to brisk walk about a halfway through 72 and I slowed down. However, I was not stressing. The event was nearly over and I was going to finish with a nice number for my first 24 hour race. I looked at my watch to make sure I was making descent time. As I rounded the 2nd to last turn, I felt a little sad it was coming to an end. All of the training, support from friends and my desire to see it through got me to that point. The final turn came up and I saw Steve getting ready to take a finisher photo. Seeing that, I made one last effort to run and got into a little sprint. I crossed 72 miles with about 11 minutes to spare. My friend Matt was saying “come on Dean. One more mile at 10 minute pace and you got 73.” Rick was like “you have time.” I appreciated the encouragement, but knew that was it.

I was elated with joy having made it to the morning and fell between my goals of 100K and 80 miles.

The ultimate goal would have been 100 miles (101 for the belt buckle award). For my first 24 hour race, 72 miles was a very satisfying accomplishment. I was also encouraged to know I would have gone further if not for the rough patches earlier. I look upon those rough and dark times as learning experiences. They happen during events of these durations. It’s being able to deal with and get through them which make the difference. I had great help with Steve crewing me and Shannon checking up on me. Both encouraged me which really helped when I felt like I could go no further. Adding those to my strong desire to go to Friday, May 15th 9am saw me through. I told Steve after the race, “you were right. I was going all night.” He had told me that during a rough patch and didn’t fully believe it then. I’m glad I listened to his advice and allowed him to push me. I’m also very happy I enlisted Shannon as my coach who trained me for the event. She may not have been there physically at the event, but she was checking in with Steve all night. My conversation with her after 50 miles was uplifting and I was so happy to speak with her after I was done. I know I’m in good hands with them in my corner.

In the days that have followed, I’ve gone through a few thought processes mostly being influenced by various forms of fatigue. Now with the jetlag like feelings behind me, if some asks would I do another 24 hour or 100 mile race with a longer cut off time (30-36 hours), the answer is “YES”.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Common Mistakes New Runners Make, Part 3 - Volume

As a contributing writer for RunJersey.comI will regularly be sharing a writing about something running-related. My first write up is a 4 part series that discusses the four most common mistakes I see new runners make. 

Here is link to the Third Part of that series. http://runjersey.com/from-the-coaches-eye-common-mistakes-the-new-runner-makes/

I will post links each new part as it is published on RunJersey.com

Thank you for taking a look and sharing your thoughts!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day 5k, Summit, NJ 5/10/15

Last night I was up close to midnight reviewing Assessments for my newest runners.  I love the way it feels to think about a fresh start and all the potential that comes with making a focused effort towards a personal goal.

I had given myself a long time (a few months now) of unfocused running without any real goals to target.  But I feel more than ready to get back to work and find my runner-self again.

Today's 5k would be my baseline test, to see where I stand and how much work I need to do.

I weighed in this morning.  Oh boy.  Despite my recent effort to eat well I am still hovering at the heaviest I have been in a long time.  On a good day, recently, I will weigh in at 121.  At my fastest I was 114. This morning I was 124.  That is a LOT of extra weight to carry for a short person.  I suspect the sodium that accompanied my sushi dinner last night may have caused me to retain some water. (I can hope, right?).  Either way, I don't mine starting my baseline testing on the heavy side because I feel like I am stacking the deck in my favor.  As I get lighter, results will come easier and motivation will grow. 

I was excited to race again with Andrew this morning. There is something very inspiring about training with someone very new to the sport.  Not everyone approaches racing with his enthusiasm.  It is really great energy to be around!  He reminds me of how I felt when I first started racing on my own down in Miami. There is a lot to learn and I am happy to get to share.  I know he has raced a few times since our last run at the 15k.  He has been doing well.   

I didn't know any thing about this course, but I saw Mark W. at the staring line. He mentioned that it was hilly around the half way point.  I discussed with Andrew whether we should use this race as an exercise in pacing, to try to start very slow, master controlling the race and speed up as we go… then Mark turned and said, "Don't forget this is a points race."  Well, I do need points.   So Andrew and I decided, forget controlled pacing… this was a race so we are going to race it.  We can find another event to throw away. 

I had no idea what I would do.  The 15k I ran last was at a 7:39 pace.  I was hoping to stay under 7 minute pace, but I was not really sure that would happen.  It was very humid and the hottest day race of the year for me.

I also decided to break in a new pair of fluorescent yellow racing flats. I cannot believe how bright they were.  I ordered them online.  These are the type of shoes you wear when you plan to win.  I was clearly wearing someone else's shoes.  But I wanted to wear them to longer races. Since my feet have not been in a pair of T7's in a long time,  I knew I needed to do a short race first to reacquaint myself with them.

Regardless of what happened today, the beauty of a check in race is that it doesn't matter what happens. It is just a baseline assessment to use as a starting point. Whatever happens, I will still end up with some data I can use.  The more stressful races are those that follow the check in. 

The Gun Goes Off!
It is downhill to the start and we turn right.  I find a clean line and take it.  This feels amazing. I have not run this fast in a long time.  I feel like I haven't missed a beat.  I can't believe I can move this fast.  It may have been only .1-.2 tenths of  mile when I look down and my watch says something that starts with a 5:xx.  LOL!!!!   "Rookie" I think to myself. "Slow down."  I can see the leaders and count ladies.  Two are ahead of me.  This mile does not feel as bad as I imagined it would.  I try to reign in my enthusiasm.  M1 6:27

I can feel my quads burning and I know that it only took me six and half minutes to make some very bad decision about pacing.  LOL!  I am going to fade hard and there is nothing I can do to stop it.  Then we start to go up.  Great!  Lots of turns and uphill sections.  As the hill gets steeper, I get slower.  Many people pass me but this is not a surprise. By the time we hit the top of then hill I am 6th female.  M2 7:20.

I still have high hopes of having something to give on the way back down.  I end up not having as much speed on the decline as I thought I would. I wonder if I any women are going to catch me. I pass a spectator who tell me what position I am in amongst the ladies.  I listen to hear whether he provides any similar information to the people behind me within earshot. I try to assess if people are closing in without turning my head. I do not hear him tell anyone they are 7th female.  I assume this means only men are in striking range as we work our way home.  Despite the last few tenths of this mile being inclined, I hold my position through Mile 3.  M3 7:03

The final .1 is uphill back to the finish line, and I can hear a challenger behind me.  I do dig for a kick and there is a little something there. 42 seconds for the last .1 (6:40 pace).

Shortly after I finished, Andrew came sprinting in to a new PR for him.

This was a good day!

Time: 21:26 (6:58 pace)
OA Place - 20th OA
Gender Place - 6th
AG Place - 2nd 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Clinton Country Run 15k, Clinton, NJ 4/25/15

Less than a week after Boston and I was on my way to another race. I am starting to feel like myself again. Today wasn't my best race, but it was a great day.  

First, Enrique met me early to run a few warm up miles. We wanted to run together to celebrate him being the first runner I have ever coached that became a streaker.

I have been streak running everyday since Dec 2011. I don't expect this from my runners. But one week after Boston last year, Enrique had realized had completed an entire week of running. He did not miss a day even after running the marathon. He wanted to give streaking a shot. Now over 365 days later, we finally had the chance to run together to celebrate his accomplishment  You know you are a runner when you celebrate milestones by going for a run. Enrique also brought me a gift.  A race shirt from the Tokyo Marathon.  In the past two years, Enrique has run Boston, NYC, Chicago, and Tokyo.  All he needs now is London and Berlin to complete the series of World Major Marathons.  Right now we are in Berlin Training mode.  He has inspire me to make this a goal for myself.  This is a fantastic achievement. I am very proud of him! 

About 2 years ago I started a running group for Veterans.  Andrew was the one guy who was involved from Day 1 until the last race.  Despite severe shin pain at the start he pushed on (often against my advice to heal!)  During a 6 month window from May - November 2013, we raced 5ks, halves, road, trails, up mountains, and laps around Central Park in NYC.  And then after a year at the VA, I left my part-time position to take on more hours at the hospital where I currently work. The Veterans group that met at the VA, disbanded and people moved on.  

I always felt that my work with that small group was some of the best work I have ever done as a coach. While training with the guys, Andrew wanted a team name. There were three of us who were regulars. Others came and went. By November he came up with a team name - Triskelion Running Team.  He found a three-pronged triskele symbol, a Celtic swirl that symbolized forward progress, growth, constant movement amongst other things.  We never used this symbol as our team dissolved and we lost touch. 

About two months ago, I decided to develop a log for my coaching business.  Taking my inspiration from Andrew, I sketched out out a version of a Triskele and contacted a graphic designer ultra-friend, Elaine Acosta, and asked her to turn it into a logo for me.   A few weeks ago, I got it up on my new website.  I chose this symbol, even though most people would not associated it with running, because it represented my work as a coach with guys who really needed it and excelled because of our time together. 

Right after Boston, I got a surprising email...from Andrew. A very nice message about how he was sorry to lose touch but he is ready to start training again. It has been 2 years now since we first started training together.  He remembered that I race for a team and asked if I would be going to this 15k Championship.  Of course I was! :)

When not coaching, I am a therapist on an inpatient short stay acute psychiatric unit. We monitor and stabilize severely psychiatrically ill patients who are a danger to themselves or others and then connect them with treating sources when they are safe to continue care outside of a locked unit.  I try to make an impact, but my patients are discharged to outpatient follow up before I can determine whether anything we have done in therapy has become a catalyst for positive change.  I rarely get to see the long term impact of my efforts in that setting, although I know many people do get well in time. 

This is why I coach. This is why I NEED to coach.  My runners often thank me for helping them, but I am more grateful than most will ever understand to my athletes for giving me the chance to help them grow. I get to see the beginning, middle, and end of our labor together. I get to see how with my help, people's lives truly change for the better. I get to see people grow strong and confident as athletes and as people.

Very few of my therapy patients ever contact to tell me that I have made a difference. But very often my runners do. I get updates about how they are still running or still using the lessons they learned during our training stay healthy.  

I get updates like Andrew's, where my runners come back to me, ready to start over after a break, or a set back, or a getting side-tracked. When my former athletes think about being healthy and happy, they often remember feeling their best when they were running. They find me and ask me to get them started again. 

Even though this is Run-Coaching and not Therapy, I know for certain that the best work I have ever done as a Therapist has happened inadvertently while I was functioning as a caring, compassionate, understanding, motivating run coach helping people to change their self-image, the physical being, and their world-view.  People excel when they set clear goals and then use a plan to achieve clear concrete measurable results. Running lets us practice goal setting, planning for change, and measuring progress.

Coaching for me is so much bigger than race results. It's is about health, wellness, and overall happiness for the people I get to work with and for me.  Of course not everyone experiences training and running the same way.  But for many, learning how to become a lifelong runner is life changing for the better.  

We don't need to win races to have great results. At this 15k, I ran about 39 seconds (7:39 pace) slower per mile than last year.  This is to be expected.  The weather was beautiful, but my legs were tired and not fully recovered from Boston. With lower training volume, my recovery takes longer now.

My Garmin dumped my splits for some reason. Losing a record of what was essentially a fast start and a hard painful fade is probably for the best.  I don’t need to perserverate on the struggles of the past. I know what happened.  I would prefer to look ahead to tomorrow and focus on the work I need to do to get my speed back, my endurance back and my soul fed again.   

Andrew and I have already begun to make grand plans for the Fall.  Big Races. Big Goals. I know if he sticks around this will be life changing.   Ultrarunning is life changing for pretty anyone who brave enough to face and accept their limitations with eyes wide open and judgement free.  Ultrarunning gives us that.  Ultrarunning is not about winning to grow. It is about giving it all no matter what happens… and more often than not we learn that we have so much more fight inside us than we ever imaged.   

1:11:52 (7:39 pace)