Friday, December 17, 2010

Just because I need a happy post

One of my running friends told me I needed to update my blog. The first post is a heavy, depressing post, and I haven't talked much about running on twitter either. I haven't even been doing a good job at updating Daily Mile. Thanks, for pointing out that I suck. Here are my 5 things Friday.

1. INJURY UPDATE
First, an update on my IT band issue. This is not going away! Especially not as easily as it did last time. Often, it wont feel tight, my foam rolling barely hurts, but then after running a few miles, my knee is feeling a good bit of pain. It's very odd. I want to crack and see a physical therapist, but that just seems lame. I should be foam rolling more. And suddenly, it's Friday and I haven't gone to the gym all week! Oops?

2. I GOT INTO THE MMT LOTTERY!
I don't know why I'm planning on running MMT. Every time I've been out there, I've had an awful run. But, I guess that's why I want to do it. At the same time, after running the Ring, we were driving home on 81 and I used my map to figure out which mountain we were looking at, and it was incredible to see how far I ran and how beautiful the ridge is. When I started running with Happy Trails, I couldn't figure out why so many races were in those mountains and why everyone loved them so much.... but I think I'm catching on!

3. TRAIL FUN
Just because I'm injured doesn't mean I've abandoned the trails! My boyfriend and I did a fun hiking trip in VA a few weeks ago and did a hike to Bird Knob and Great North Mountain. It was cold, windy, quiet, and wonderful. We saw prints from a large cat (bobcat?) and I got to see even more of the Massanutten area.

Last weekend, Jon and I finally met up for a run. We're both fighting off injuries and are sort of new to ultrarunning. We walk/ran/skipped our way along the perimeter of Rock Creek Park (15ish miles) in the cold rain. We couldn't stop talking, jumped into puddles, and had a really good time. It felt great to get back out on the trail and get some running in.

I really love my house. On Wednesday night, I skipped my workout, and Brian comes home and nearly drove me crazy until I finally agreed to run with him. We ran to my boyfriend's apartment and then he ran back to our place. It's about 4 trail miles. We had deep discussions about the meaning of life... as per usual.

4. NEW TRAINING CALENDAR
I really wanted a new calendar that I could use for planning workouts and races. I made it with Keep and Share and finally started planning out the Spring... which is already full!

January 15-16: MLK Training weekend (I doubt I'll be ready for this) - 32.6 miles and 26.7
January 22: Eagle Run
February 5: Uwharrie run- 40 miles
February 19: MMT Training Academy #2 - 50k
March 12 - Elisabeth Furnace - 50k
March 26 - Terrapin Mountain - 50k
April 9 - Bull Run run - 50 miles
April 23 - Promise Land - 50k
April 23 - Chocolate Bunny - 32.3/40 miles
May 14 - MMT - 100 miles

That gives me an ultra almost every other weekend. Which is perfect for MMT training. And yes, I'm thinking of running two 50ks on April 23rd. I'm aware that I can't run yet, but that's a minor detail.

6. NEW SHOES
Even though I'm not running, I've gotten three new pairs of running shoes.


First, I got a pair of Gore-Tex Inov-8s for running in the snow. I haven't run in them yet because I think I need a bigger size, but they feel pretty good! A little heavier than what I'm used to, but I find the Inov-8 footbeds to fit really well.


Another pair of Inov-8s I got are the Roclite 305s, in the hope that they may keey my feet from catching fire during MMT. I was shopping for my old shoes, only to find that Inov-8 cut all but 3 women's styles, while there were 21 men's styles. I sent them a tweet, and they responded that most of their shoes are unisex. These are made for men, but they fit me really well. I've been running in them a handful of times, and I think they are a good balance. There is still a low heel, but a good bit of cushioning. I've found that, like my other Inov-8s, they don't have the traction for wet rocks. I almost fell several times in Rock Creek. 


I updated my WT100s with the WT101s. They are the same light shoe, but I was disappointed that they didn't lessen that achilles support. It's led to some bad blisters int he past, and I remember reading that they were planning on doing that. The support structure makes it look a little flashy, and I find myself missing my WT100s when I wear them.

That said, I do love New Balance shoes, and I leave you with a pretty sweet video. It will make you want to disappear into the mountains asap. I also have a mild crush on Tony Krupicka.


Have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reflections on life, death, injuries, and other lightweight matters

(Disclaimer: My title was stolen from the VHTRC list-serve)

For the past few weeks, the VHTRC listserve has been filled with e-mails about Mike Broderick, a Happy Trail member who recently died of lung cancer, only 4 weeks after he was suddenly diagnosed, and who just completed Western States four months ago.  Stories like that hit everyone, even newcomers like me who didn't know him, because ultrarunners like to think we're strong, invincible, and able to overcome whatever life throws at us... even death. All my housemates went to the funeral, friends changed their facebook pictures to photos with Mike, and paid tribute through a blog post. It was sad to see my friends mourn a loss of another running partner, friend, and coach.


Within a week of his funeral, I got a text message from my cousin that an old friend of mine, Anne Jackson, a cross country runner at Nyack college in NY, collapsed while out for an evening run and died before her family made it to the hospital. She was a senior in college (with a 3.97 GPA--holy cow!), 21 years old, and had not a bad bone in her body. She was young, healthy, and there was no known pre-existing condition. It was so sudden and shocking, and her friends, now scattered across the country, are mourning the sudden loss of a runner and friend. I can't imagine how her family, close friends, and teammates are handling this tragedy. My thoughts and prayers have been with them every waking moment since hearing of her death.


Yesterday, after hearing the news, I stumbled onto another blog with a tribute to Mike, and I was almost angry. His life shouldn't be mourned; he had really lived, he had fair warning, he completed races around the world and had touched so many lives that police were needed to direct traffic to his funeral. Anne was too young, it was too sudden, and it all of it too shocking and unfair.


I became friends with Anne through our church when I was around 14 years old. She was two years younger than me, but we had the same group of friends. We lived near each other and so we would often carpool to events or meet up on weekdays. I have so many wonderful memories that include her, and I don't remember one in which she was not smiling... looking through her facebook pictures, I swear that she is glowing in every one.


Moving away from home to go to college is tough. She stayed close friends with everyone in Buffalo, and was the Maid of Honor at our friend's wedding earlier this year. Unlike me. I barely talk to my friends anymore. I think a comment on a facebook photo about the beautiful wedding pictures is sufficient... I didn't even send a card. I envy her ability to stay close with our friends, and I've been hearing from them throughout the last 24 hours. Things like "I feel like I should tell you I love you..because I do! and I never said it enough to anne..and I certainly don't say it enough to you." What kind of person does it make me that I haven't spoken to people that I considered my best friends five year ago, in years? Is it time and miles that bring people apart, or is it people?



And what of the friends and relationships I have now? Already, since it isn't as convenient as when we were in college, I make little room for my closest girlfriends and sorority sisters. I'm fighting an injury, and I wonder what will ever happen if I am out for months on end. If I get seriously injured, will I keep my friendships and ties with the running community I've jumped into, or will I lose them as friends too? I am thankful that while miles have hurt friendships in the past, they build friendships today.


Runners are supposed to be patient people. When we get injured we should build miles up slowly. We shouldn't race too much too quick. We all schedule only 1-2 big races a year. I keep getting told I don't need to do every big race in my first few years of running. Recent events have put into perspective that maybe we shouldn't be patient. You never know when you'll get injured, get in a car accident, or have one of your vital organs fail you. I might not be able to run Western States in 2012 or 13... and it's awful bold to think I will be.


Last night, I wanted to go out for a run for Anne. In a way, to let out all the frustrations of the week and the sadness that I feel guilty for feeling. I walked for about 5 minutes and then tried running again. I was able to run for about two minutes before my IT band felt tight. I stopped and walked home, knowing that the only way it will heal is by resting it. After just completing my 100 mile race (101.87, actually) less than two months ago, I've had to deal with a tight IT Band that kept me from doing well at MCM and kept me out of my running shoes for weeks. Even though I have never felt more strong and able, I cannot overcome this injury.
 
And that's what I've learned recently, as a runner and a person, that even when we feel our stongest, we're still weak and fragile.

Monday, November 1, 2010

MCM - Halloween edition


On Sunday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the 3rd time.  I wore my friend Ann's bib, and removed the chip.  Yes, this is generally frowned upon but it's not my fault marathons tend to have giant sticks up their ass and charge a ridiculous bib transfer fee.

On Saturday night I was inspired to dress up like a zombie.  This is why I wanted to do MCM to begin with! I went to CVS to buy black eye make-up and red lipstick when I ran into Brian, who was on his way to get a bib from a guy in Arlington.  I was excited I'd have a housemate headed to the race with me. I made my costume: I ripped up a 5k t-shirt and shorts, lined the rips with lipstick, and wrote "First rule of Zombieland: CARDIO" on the back. 

We decided to leave a little late because I'm always sitting around the start line forever. But, I didn't anticipate a 15 minute metro wait. We were totally screwed. We got to the Pentagon City metro at 8:05 when the race had already started. It wouldn't have been so bad if we knew where the start was. We were in a car with two guys and we all ran out of the metro station. When we got to a broken escalator (typical) the two guys ran up it when Brian and I slowed to a walk at the exact same time. We burst into laughter... it was the most typical road runner v. trail runner scenario imaginable.

There were no directions to the start. We were running around, hitting dead ends, and wearing ourselves out. Finally, we figured out the route to the start, and we were probably 2 miles into the run. As we neared the start, a spectator yelled "You're almost there! You can do it!" #clever

Brian and I jumped into the start just moments before the police cars that trailed behind the last runners.  There was a sea of slow runners and walkers to work through for the first several, several miles. Brian disappeared ahead of me (and finished in 3:09! Incredible!) and I let go of any hope of getting anywhere near my PR or a BQ time. It was like a fartlek: run slow behind a group then speed up the moment a window opens. My only forseeable problem at the time was a blister that already bothered me at mile 3: the most epic blister ever! It literally takes up 1/3rd of my foot.

The race flew by. I couldn't believe when we hit a new mile marker. I got a little bored, started a few conversations, listened to some good music, and started a list of why I like trail running better.  This is what I came up with:

Trail Ultramarathons
Road Marathons
Better aid stations with food and awesome volunteers who feed you and fill up water bottles.
More water stations so you don’t have to carry water—but almost no food.
Made a wrong decision and wore old shoes?  Change them at your drop bag.
Made the wrong decision and wore old shoes?  You’re fucked.
Lots of trees.
Lots of spectators with funny signs.
Run alone or with a group of friends.  Single-tracks usually get crowded at the beginning but thin out over the first few miles.
Run through massive crowds with people cutting you off and getting knocked over.
Built in walk breaks up mountains.  But, this means more time on your feet.
You have to run it all—and fast.  But, at least you can run it fast.
You have to carry all your garbage.
Volunteers pick up all the garbage.
Friends, housemates, or boyfriend chauffeur me to start.
Metro.  Fuck.  Metro.
You can’t get lost in a loud iPod.  People might need to pass, and you need to listen for rattlesnakes and bears.
You can just ignore everyone and blare your iPod to get you through the race… even though they discourage it.
You can find your friends easily; there is hardly anyone else there.
Trying to find one person in a sea of 35,000 people is impossible.
The trail is gentler on your body.  Unless you’re running on rocks.
The constant pounding on roads hurts more.
Always exciting with falls, wild animals, mountains, stream crossings, etc.
You run a road the whole time.  Sort of boring.
You are sleep deprived and bleed real blood.
To look like a zombie you need black eye make-up and red lipstick.
Pictures from event are free
Pictures from event cost at least $40.
Gear is more expensive.
All you need are the running basics.
Usually in the middle of nowhere.  Requires rental car.
Located in accessible cities.  (Metro.  Fuck.  Metro)
You run through streams.
You run on bridges over rivers.
At mile 19 you realize you have 83 miles left.
At mile 19 you realize you have 7 miles left.
Better value per mile.
Usually very expensive.
Serene and quiet—unless running with Snipes.
People bring cowbells and scream at you as if muscles feed off noise.
After the finish, you can sit right down and start drinking beer and eating food.
After the finish, you are stuck in an unmoving crowd for an hour.  Still standing.
At sunset you are still running.
At sunset you are on the couch watching a movie.

At mile 22 I ran into my hasher friends and I hung out too long and had 4 (or 6) cups of beer. I ran into thisamazingday and stopped to chat.  I thought my 4 hour goal was totally do-able.  Then, my IT band really started to act up and I was really slowed down at the end. I pushed through it and unofficially finished in 4:00:32.

At 6:00:32, I made it through the start area and headed to Chadwicks where I drank several glasses of champagne, then stumbled/limped home (it was to make my costume better, I swear). But I woke up this morning with sore quads, and achy IT band, a swollen ankle, and low energy. It doesn't matter if I proved I can run 100 miles, 26.2 still isn't easy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Grindstone 100



Start/finish line, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
Most people don't celebrate their 23rd birthday with a 100-mile race.  I'm pretty sure that my finishing Grindstone was against all odds.  Of the 106 starters, only 72 finished, and only 6 of us were women (11 showed up).  Not only was I a 100-miler virgin who picked the hardest one on the East Coast because it was local and started on my birthday (it was destiny), but I've been running trails for uh… 7 months.  The first time I even climbed up a mountain was after I signed up for it (confession).

At the start, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
As the race approached, I was hit with exactly how long 100 miles is.  I recognized that this wouldn't be all fun and games.  Grindstone would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I would likely spend most of it miserable.  I got to the race somewhat excited but honestly, I was not up for it. This course was going to chew me up.
The best advice I received was from Quatro, who told me “Don't run 100.  Just run from aid station to aid station.  It'll be all good - next thing you know, you will find yourself back where you started.”  I always did this during ultras, but I had never thought to really only think about each section and nothing else.  Anytime I let my mind wander to what I did or had yet to do, I told myself to forget it.  All that mattered was getting to the next aid station.  So, this is how I broke up my race report.  It was a somewhat uneventful race, but beware, it’s a long report!
Splits can be found at my eco-x runner page.
Start! Picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
 Start to Falls Hollow
Brian and I signed up for Grindstone together and so we ran the first mile together (how corny and sentimental, I know).  He’s the one who made me change from the North Face 50k to the 50 miler and sign up for the race.  The first portion was rocky but quick, and I knew the race didn’t really start until we got started on summitting Elliot Knob.

Me and Brian, ready to go
 Falls Hollow to Dry Branch Gap
Getting to Elliot Knob requires about 3,000 feet of climbing, two stream crossings (the day after 3 inches of rain), and a 1.5 mile climb up a crazy steep gravel road.  I played leapfrog on the still-crowded trail, and I ran a lot of the gentle uphills, the flats, and got my feet wet.  It got dark, and I was glad I couldn’t see the never-ending road.  It wasn’t as bad during the race as my hike (since we didn’t have 95 degree weather), but a cold breeze hit me on that road.  After the summit, I had never seen the rest of the trail in this section.
It was nasty.  I’m still scarred from my Ring experience in the Massanutten and I was not happy to see all the rocks!  I even yelled out to the group I was in "I thought MMT was the rocky one!" There was a little ridge running, and then the descent was switchbacks along a rock trail with a scary drop off.  I heard and saw Snipes and his group ahead of me, but mostly ran it by myself with my iPod.  I’m surprised I did this portion in less than 4 mph because was near impossible to run a lot of this and I wasn’t happy to give up a running descent.  But, it’s ok, I had plenty of chances later!

Mile 1.5
Dry Branch Gap to Dowells Draft
The main motivation for this section was seeing my crew at the next aid station.  We went over Crawford Mountain and this was probably my favorite section of the whole race.  There were rolling hills interspersed with steeper climbs on the way up and then I flew down it.  I’ve really just got the hang of running down technical trails about 2 months ago, and I totally put it to work.  I was laughing the whole time and had a blast.  I’m pretty sure that running down a mountainside is the closest thing to flying that man can get on its own.  I passed a man and yelled “this downhill is amazing!” and it really was.  I knew that if I didn’t let myself just fly down the hills, my knees would be destroyed.  If I wanted to finish, I needed to hold off the brakes and just go.  I flew through this section and had a blast.

Heading out of Dowells Draft, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
My crew was amazing and Tyler got me out of the aid station in 7.5 minutes.  I ate butternut squash (it was perfect) and got refueled and on my merry way.
Dowells Draft to Lookout Mountain
This was another great section.  I made a friend and getting to talk and meet new people on the trail is always one of my favorite things.  He ended up deciding he couldn’t keep up and I ran ahead.  It ended with several miles downhill on a fire road that I took really easily.  The aid station came up sooner than I thought and it was the best aid station of the race (both times through).  The people were so supportive and energetic.  They screamed and clapped when they saw you coming, they had coffee, they were super helpful, and it really lifted my spirits.
I hit 30 miles in 7:08, only 45 minutes slower than my 50k PR.
Lookout Mountain to North River Gap
I had done Lookout Mountain as a hike, but I completely forgot how rocky it was.  It was really late and dark, and I started getting spooked.  A log was a wolf.  The moon was a fire.  A stick was a snake.  It was silent, I didn’t see anyone, and I was letting my imagination get the best of me.  I focused on my iPod and the trail, and belted out to Miley Cyrus.  I know, you thought I was hardcore until you read that.  But who can resist Party in the USA?
Coming into the next aid station, I was excited to see my crew and I finally decided road running was ok.  Running down the road to the aid station, the crescent moon was visible through a tree gap and the sky was covered in stars.  It was such a clear, gorgeous night!
There was a weigh-in at the TWOT lot and I had lost one pound.  Not bad for 35 miles, but I made a note to continue to hydrate.
North River Gap to Little Bald Knob
I knew this was the worst part of the race.  The 7-mile climb just got worse and worse.  I tried to run the flats and the downhills, and the climbs killed me.  I think I pushed it too hard.  I reached the “bald knob” that was covered in grassy meadows, but there was no aid station.  The mileage was off and instead of 7.74 miles, it was 8.83.  I was cold, tired, and was frustrated that the aid station wasn’t where it should be.  I saw Sean pacing the leader in and Keith, who was kicking ass as usual.  Finally, I got there and sat by the fire and had three cups of soup.  I dropped my pack, grabbed an extra handheld with some gels and salts in the pocket and ran toward Reddish knob feeling quite miserable. 
Little Bald Knob to Reddish Knob
Even though this was an easy piece of trail (other than the mud) I took it pretty slow.  My feet hurt, I was exhausted, and not feeling hot about the run.  I saw the first woman on her way back and Brian, who looked fantastic.
Before really getting to the Reddish Knob station, you have to summit it.  I caught up to Snipes and a group of us dropped our things and walked up the asphalt road. 
The view from Reddish Knob made the entire 47 miles to get there worth it.  We arrived as the sun rose and the 360-degree view of the Northern Virginia and West Virginia mountains was amazing.  I remembered seeing the intersection of the Black and White desert in Egypt and being motivated to travel and do more with my life if the world had places like that to offer.  I was sure that was one of the most beautiful, unreal views I’d ever see and the view from Reddish Knob topped it.
The mountains looked blue, and you could see about 8 ridges, the last topped with a line of red to bright pink.  The valleys were filled with fog and this really lifted my spirits.  It inspired me to want to run more trail races if this is what ultrarunning has to offer.
The aid station had brown sugar poptarts.  ‘Nuff said.

Still running at mile 66, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
 Reddish Knob to Briary Branch and back to Reddish Knob
I thought for sure that when I saw my crew again, I’d take a nap.  I saw Mario on the way out and he said that he did it last year and woke up a new man and had a negative split.  I half ran the road down because my feet were throbbing.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to run any more of the race.  I was determined to nap.
I got in, left my iPod to charge, changed my socks and shoes, and felt like a new woman!! The difference between my Inov-8 and Masochists was crazy.  I was so excited that I could run again! Mark took me to the turn around, and now I was headed back to the finish.  I saw Doug and Steve Pero and walked a lot back to Reddish Knob due to exhaustion.
Reddish Knob to Little Bald Knob
I barely stopped at Reddish Knob and had a tough time with this whole middle section.  I wasn’t feeling great when I got to Little Bald, especially knowing what was ahead.  I decided to cave and take some painkillers and holy crap, they worked!

Weigh-in at TWOT, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
 Little Bald Knob to North River Gap
I don’t know if it was the painkillers or knowing that I’d be picking up my pacer, but I ran a lot of the descent into the TWOT lot.  I hung out and chatted with some cool people, listened to my iPod, and ran all but the very steep and rocky descent… which was most of the trail.  I knew if I ran those, I would have to put the brakes on and I might not be able to run downhill for the rest of the race.  Again, this section never ended and just got worse and worse.  I came into North River Gap saying that it was an evil trail.  Then I got weighed and found out I gained that pound back and I made a joke about running for 20 hours and not even losing a pound.  I was able to get down a rice and bean burrito (a little one) and my pacer and I went out for the finish.

Me and James out of North River Gap, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
North River Gap to Lookout Mountain
James and I hauled up Lookout.  We made excellent time and started chatting about everything.  I could run well and I felt amazing.  He was surprised I had so much energy, and I was too!  The huge bummer about getting to this aid station was seeing Brian there shrugging and telling us he DNFed.  His ankle was irritated and swollen.  Since Brian and I were in this together, it was tough to know he was out. 
Lookout Mountain to Dowells Draft
From North River Gap, James and I passed 10 people through these sections.  He was really pulling me along and making me run everything that wasn’t uphill.  I felt so great, and I can’t believe I felt like this after how miserable I was earlier.  I remembered ultrarunnergirl telling me to remember that it doesn’t always get worse, and that was great advice.  James and I just had great conversation and he had so much energy.   One of the best things about having a pacer was being able to look forward to meeting him and then drawing energy from him.  It made me feel so fresh!
Dowells Draft to Dry Branch Gap
Clark Zealand is a sadist.  There are two, 2,000 ft, 4 mile (ish) climbs in the last 10 miles of this course.  It was hard to focus on just this section knowing I had to do it again.  The sun started going down, and James had heard it was 5 miles hard, 4 miles easy, and so we tried to run the easy parts.  It started off as a nice run and then we took the climb pretty hard.  Once the climb was over I told him I was finished running. No more running for me.  He says “But look what you just did… its like waking up Sunday morning and saying you’ll never drink again and then by Wednesday you’re out at a bar.” 
We took it slow for a moment to get our energy back.  This is when I started losing it mentally.  I was seeing crows everywhere, and sticks looked like they were twisted into some type of voo doo doll.  The sunset made the trees look like I was seeing the course ribbons everywhere.
James said we should try to run a quarter mile.  So, we did and I started to feel really good.  We got to a descent and I just leaned forward and ran effortlessly again (seriously, I just loved Crawford Mountain both ways).  When we hit the rolling hills part, running up the slight uphill rocked.  It was all new muscles being used and we tore through that section.

Me and my awesome pacer, picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
 Dry Branch Gap to Falls Hollow
The sun was down when we left the aid station, with just one to go.  I remember ultrarunnergirl also saying that at one point, you will want nothing more than to stop, and that’s where the race begins.
This is where Grindstone began.
The 4-mile climb on the rocks was downright dangerous.  I was cold and wobbly and the rocks were not stable.  For the first time, I sat down on the course.  James was smart and made me take some salts, gels, and water while I sat.  It was a really, really awful stretch.  When we finally hit the gravel road, I tried running but it didn’t work well.  I fell once and another time just sat right down, hugged my knees, and tried to muster up the strength to go on.  If it were possible for someone to drive up the gravel road, I would have quit right there.
When we were off the road and the ridge and finally out of the breeze and cold, I sat down again and was seriously so far gone.  James dragged me over the streams and we got a little running in on the jeep path.  When we hit the last aid station I ran (or walked) straight into Tyler’s arms and started crying.
I couldn’t fathom being out there for another few hours.  I put pants on, I ate (was hand fed) crackers, I closed my eyes, I cried, and I really felt awful.  I spent 23 minutes there and almost locked myself in the car so I could sleep because they wouldn’t let me.  Tyler literally had to drag me out of the car and push me back onto the trail. 
Falls Hollow to the Finish
I’ve never been so slow in my life.  I even needed a walking stick to handle the terrain at this point.  I was so slow but just kept moving and the miles came onto my watch so slowly.  When I finally hit 100 miles, James congratulated me and we discussed this whole “101.87” thing.  Can you imagine if you’re signed up for a marathon and you check out the elevation profile and it said 28.17?  Seriously, why can they do that in a 100-miler?! It just wasn’t fair.  We hit the 1 mile to go sign when I thought we had about 8/10ths and so that was a major bummer. Then James says, “look behind you”
There were 2 headlamps.
“Let’s move!” We did some running with some walking and I still had my stick.  Then I heard a female voice. I was not giving up my 5th place finish in the last ½ mile. Hell no! (FYI, she was a pacer)  I threw my walking stick and took off.  My pacer fell, and I left him there and damn near sprinted across the lake (ok, around it, I cannot run on water - and I really did sprint. I got my pace down to 7:23 min/mi!) and then got lost for the first time about a tenth of a mile away.  I ran through the flume and then stopped, done!  I did it!  Clark Zealand then told me I had to actually cross the finish line, and I got my first belt buckle and hugged the totem pole.

Finish photo
 I don’t believe (still) that I made it.  I made it to the finish line uninjured, with no nutrition problems, perfect hydration/sodium balance, a tough finish, but a good race, and a great time.

Totem pole hug
Thank you to Tyler and James, I couldn’t have done it without either of you.  The ultrarunning community is truly amazing.  Everyone has been so eager to help me, to share their knowledge, to give me a ton of advice and encouragement.  Grindstone was a success not just because I finished, but because it introduced me to so many great people.  There are few things I am more proud of than being able to call myself a 100-mile finisher and an ultrarunner.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Grindstone... its here!

If you wanna follow updates, Tyler (my crew) will be updating my twitter page, accessible at www.twitter.com/beezales

Eat extra calories for me this weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When I get older, I will be stronger.

During Catherine's I ran with a man in his late 30s who was an elite speed skater and then became an ultrarunner. He loved that he could still be growing at his age and that few sports allow for that. It's incredible to see generations of a family running the same race (hell, that's common) and that I'm constantly picked on for being so young. I think I'm getting involved in the only athletic community where 22 is young.

The beauty of ultrarunning and trail running in general is that "PRs" don't matter. If you can run 50 miles on a towpath and get a great time, it actually won't mean as much as a 50-mile mountain race that takes 4 hours longer. There seems to be no magic formula, no training plans, and the one thing that matters most of all is experience.



For my last big long run on labor day weekend, I set out to run from Camp Roosevelt to the finish of the Ring, a 71-mile fat ass known as a tougher, rockier course than the 100 mile MMT. I tagged along with Snipes again, a man in his early 40s who has run almost 200 ultras. Snipes is known for finishing a steady race and talking the whole time. He's always trying to teach the younger gang something on the trail.  I only did 38 of the 46 miles I set up to do. By the time I dropped, my legs and feet were destroyed from the rocks, I had several blisters, I couldn't speak, and hadn't been able to swallow water for the last three miles.

This was such a great way to end training because I was reminded of how far I have come from my first training run in the mountains and VHTRC event. In May, I volunteered at Camp Roosevelt for MMT and knew no one. From there Brian and I did 11 miles on the course, in the dark, and it was awful. I remember thinking that I would have nightmares about this course until October and we only lasted 11 miles. This time around, I knew a great deal of the people there and I lasted 37 miles. But yes, I'll still have nightmares about it.

 image from Bobby Gill

The run started off at a slow climb since everyone had just eaten a good bit at the aid station. I got stung by a bee within a few miles (my first sting ever!) and it was a slow, beautiful day. At the next aid station we picked up another Grindstone runner along for the ride. I didn't want to eat since I wasn't a runner, but I was starving by the the next aid station. We were moving along steadily and I felt great. I got some food and felt that sore throat and cough that had kept me up the night before come back.  By the next aid station, I had no voice left.

Another guy, Tom, joined us and we were a group of four. I was having some serious trouble keeping up. The running part seemed fine, but I just couldn't walk and climb as fast as the guys, especially on the super rocky course. I tried hard to keep up, but I spent the next 20 miles or so chasing them. The course wasn't marked, and since I was a pacer I could not ask them to stop for me and I was scared to get lost. I failed to take gels and salt tablets because I was struggling to keep up. I even ran for about 20 minutes in the dark because I didn't have time to take out my lights. And because I had no voice, I couldn't scream to ask them to stop and wait for me, not that I wanted to.

Because of this, I came into one aid station seriously wobbly. I'd never felt so tired and beat up and low on energy in my life. Snipes could tell. He told me he was worried that I was sick, and that I shouldn't wear myself out for Grindstone, but I told him I wanted to go on. I needed to get some of that mental toughness required to finish 100 miles. This was my last chance to get it. 



I won't do nothing but complain on this post, it's not my style. At every aid station, it was a hard decision to decide to continue on the run. But at one 9 miles stretch, I had a great time. I felt so "in-tune" with the trail (for lack of better terms) and I was enjoying all the beauty, my fatigue, the pain, the rocks, the running and climbing... for a good hour or so I was so, so glad that I had decided to keep running. It was a beautiful night!

My throat got really bad at one point, and I could no longer swallow water. I was going to drop at the last aid station, but it was only 5 miles to the next and I decided to keep going. I was counting down every mile and finally could no longer drink water and nearly lost my group because my energy was so low. I struggled to make it to the next aid station, and then decided I was done for the day, with only 8 miles left.

I hate to think that I dropped early during a training run. I felt pretty awful about the run, but I really did learn a lot. I learned that when I'm racing, to be smart about pace and nutrition.  It did test my mental capacity to run ultras, and I didn't feel very strong by the end. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and sleep (or cry).  After that weekend, I took it easy. I went to the gym on Sunday and ended up being really sore after that and a 15 mile run. I'm not feeling as strong as I feel that I should before my first 100 mile race. I'm doubting any ability to do it and finish strong.

This isn't a great way to come back from over a month of no blogging. I've had this post 1/2 written for a few weeks now.  But now that my training has ended, here are some things on my mind.
  • There is no way for me to predict how I will do at Grindstone. I love running, I love trail running, I had some great, strong trail runs, and I've worked hard.  But anything can happen that weekend.  I may not have done all I could to train, but I did it smartly. I still had a life and I'm going to get to the finish line un-injured. That's a huge accomplishment in itself.
  • Labor Day weekend, I was passed by several people twice my age, running twice as long. This is the beginning of a life-long activity that I will continue to get better at. This is just one race and I know I learn more and more as I continue to pursue them.
  • I signed up for a 100 mile race knowing I couldn't do it. It's kind of exciting to not have any idea what will happen.  I've already pushed myself more than I ever imagined. I constantly will feel tired and then remember I've done an ultra every other weekend for 2-3 months. 26.2 is now a breeze.
  • Because of my race, I've had some really wonderful weekends hiking in VA with my boyfriend. I doubt I'd know this much about him if we didn't spend hours in the woods together talking.
  • Training is always more fun than the race itself anyway. I used Grindstone as a motivator to get into trail running, the ultra community, and to test my dedication. I had a strong summer of running and I've met some real kick-ass human beings. 
Now the only thing I can do is run a little, cross-train, stay healthy,  recover, plan, and then hope to God October 1st is my day.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brittany's Fat Ass

31 miles in 100 degree heat? I knew I could use this one as a "stop-whining-look-what-I-did" for at least a few years. Drinking out of a spring instead of a cooler? Post run grill, beer, and body shots?

Oh, VHTRC, where have you been all my life?!

Hanging out with Mark at the race start
Picture courtesy of Bobby Gill

The day started late--at 8:00 a.m. I had two handhelds and started off on my own, with no one to talk to, and trying to decide what I felt like doing today. There were two distances offered because of the heat and I was contemplating either racing, or taking it easy to get more time on my feet. I started to join a group of 4-5 men, and ended up sticking with Sniper for the rest of the race. Sniper and Mark both ran Grindstone twice, so we talked about the race a lot. I ended up running the rest of the race with "Professor" Sniper who did what he could to get me well-educated on trail running. He's run almost 200 ultramarathons.

On the trail
Picture courtesy of Bobby Gill

The first 8-9 miles were without aid, with some fun climbs, rocky downhills, and hot weather. We came into the first aid station just to eat, before heading up a gravel road about 1.5 miles to a natural spring to fill up water and they poured buckets over our heads to soak us up and cool off.

 Best post-race party ever (with ultrarunnergirl)
Picture courtesy of Bobby Gill
 
The volunteers were amazing and I ate more at these aid stations than I did at my last 50k. I ate PB&J sandwiches and they settled very well. I need to remember to eat gels more because I was starving at the finish. I stayed well hydrated in the heat (I had to pee three times) and had no cramping. I was disappointed the race wasn't actually 31 miles, so we did the overlook twice, taking down those ribbons for the sweeper. I ended up doing 8,224 feet of elevation gain and 8,243 of descent--way more than I expected.

I'm big at stealing hats when I'm drunk
Picture courtesy of Bobby Gill 

The after party was a blast. It was hot, but I handled the heat well. We all but bathed in the streams and I carried a rag to dip into ice water at the stations and in the creeks to cool off.  My knees felt way better than they have for any long run and with a slow, 8.5 hour finish, I felt great at the end. And yes, my average moving speed was only some 14 min miles, but I think it was smart. Sniper made the point that today would probably be more beneficial if we took it slow, since at Grindstone "this may be the fastest you can move."

and holy hell was he right.

Almost there!

On Sunday, my friend and I climbed Elliot Knob, one of Grindstone's big climbs. There was a 1.5 stretch of gravel road, and in the heat it was just way steep and really brutal in the sun. The four mile climb was tough on my legs, and I wasn't even planning on getting another 98 in that day. The loose gravel would make running down it without tripping very tough on the way back to the start.

 The gravel road

I also realized that planning to run with a pack, and then not doing so all summer was a big mistake. I might plan to run with two handhelds. My shoulders were sore after hiking in my backpack all day.

At the summit of Elliot Knob

All in all, it was a great weekend. I got 40 miles covered, ate a lot of good food, was surrounded by good company, and learned a lot. Next time I'm planning on getting out to the mountains is for the big training weekend August 14-15th! Way too far away!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing hooky

I skipped my race this weekend. I was moving, my family was in town, I had a lot to do, my legs were tired, and I didn't really have a ride.

So, I'm ok with it! Instead, I got my whole room unpacked, my old place closed up, and I got to see the boy before he left on vacation.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Race Report: The Skyline Challenge

I signed up for the Skyline Challenge 50k Tuesday last week. The "thrifty fifty" option offered a 50k supported long run in the mountains for $20 with aid stations stacked with Hammer products (my new favorite nutrition line). I had to get up at the god-awful hour of 1:15 a.m. to catch the last metro train out to Bethesda to get a ride with Brian out to Ward, VA.  It started pouring rain, and the drive was actually quite frighting. I can't believe we didn't get lost, and made it to the race start with about 40 minutes to get situated.

I'd been feeling awful and tired all week. My knees still hurt a little, my foot was starting to bug me again, and my stomach hadn't felt well all day on Friday and I really didn't want to eat any food that morning. I expected to have a really bad run.  The elevation ended up being twice what I expected (I was told 3,000 feet of elevation gain and it was close to 6) and I had no idea what the terrain would be or what the course was like. 

This was a memorable race start, when over 100 runners took the wrong trail in the first mile. We were heading up a hill when everyone started running back down it, and almost everyone just laughed it off. The first few miles included some big climbs so steep that climbing them could be considered a calf stretch (elevation profile said 18% incline). It also got so muddy from the rain that the trail was unrunnable unless you wanted to trip. Being in a group was helpful since you saw what worked and what didn't. Climbing on the side of the trail worked. Trying to run up the muddy climb caused you to slide and fall into mud covered rocks. We all climbed our way on the side of the trail. It took almost 2 hours to do the first 8 miles!

I ran most of this alone, chatting some with RussianBear (Peter) and some of Brian's friends. I did my best to focus on strong climbing, running up some of the easy climbs, and keeping my form and nutrition in line. I was passing people like crazy as I focused on my climbing and really felt those Mountain Man reps I've been doing. My hamstrings, hips, and bum were really being put to work! When we reached the top of the climb, you looked out and should have been able to see three states and seven mountains, but instead it was white. There was a 2 mile detour to an aid station that you could barely see because of the fog, and thank God because on the way back it looked brutal! This was a pretty rocky course and that was the worst of the rocks.

After hitting that detour, the trail was gorgeous. I tried to get in some quicker trail running since I felt good, and ran about 3 miles with a girl to the next aid. The switchback down the mountain was rocky and covered in wet leaves and so I took it easy and safely. After the next aid station at mile 13, there was 8 miles of road with the turn-around in the middle. I tore through it, running almost all 8, and finally getting some speed under my legs. My pace was dipping far under 8:00 and I tried to keep it slow! I did! A truck passed me and told me I was fifth woman, the fourth was ahead of me, and I could catch her. Fifth!?!? I had no idea I was doing so well! The guy lit my competitive side and I picked up the pace.

Brian came through in fourth place and it was great to see him running so strong. The first woman was all smiles and yelled "hey lady! Looking awesome! Go get those boys!" Feeling good, I gained on the group of men ahead of me (they told me to slow down!), and passed them. I was starving, but didn't want to stop for a gel. When I get to the aid station, I contemplated waiting to eat since I'd be doing some hard running back, but decided it wasn't smart. The fourth woman just left, and so I crammed pretzels, bananas, chips, and soda. The volunteers were quick to fill up my water. I totally improved my aid station times in this race. 

On the way back, I did about 7 miles with John, a Navy guy who has attempted and finished six 100s! The company was great. We caught up to the next woman and got some great running and climbing in. We did a lot of talking, he had great stories, and he complimented my trial skillz (I have them apparently). I was doing great on the technical stuff for a novice ("don't be offended by that word") and I've only been trail running for what, 2 years, right? "No, more like 2 months." He gave me lots of tips, including switching up the climbing so that your toes pointed outward and it used some different muscles.

Finally, we finished the climb, and he told me to go on and let him go. I ran ahead, concentrating on speed and using my small feet to navigate through the rocks.  I came around a boulder and there was a fork in the trail. I looked for streamers and turned to find two, big, black bears.

Holy. Shit.

I stepped behind the nearest tree and caught my breath, going over in my head about what I was supposed to do. Don't run. Make noise. But, I was pretty sure you shouldn't make noise when they were right there. So, I slowly went back around the boulder, and ran back toward John. He was totally confused until I told him about the bears, and so we ran together back through, talking loudly and clapping our hands. I hoped they were gone while he hoped he'd get to see them.

I jumped ahead again, and finally hit the last aid station. Now that I could see the mile detour, it looked awful! The last four miles were downhill, which my knees were not looking forward to. I was back alone on the trail, and now scared of bears. I started saying LA LA LA really loud in hopes to make enough noise, which turned into Ra ra ah-ah-ah-a ro-ma ro-ma-ma gaga ooh la la... want your bad romance.

Lets just say, the bears ventured away from my Lady Gaga singing. My knees weren't feeling too hot, and I switched my form which really helped. When we hit the last mile of road to the finish line, I took off! I got my pace well under 8:30 and finished in about 6:33, fourth woman, first in my age group, and 23 among 117 finishers! I'm really happy with my experience here! I learned a lot and proved to myself that I really can do this whole trail ultra thing.

Brian finished second! Totally kicked ass. He has so much potential! (He didn't sleep the night before, we did a trail marathon the weekend before, and he had the death race prior to that, and got SECOND! I'm amazed.) I stayed in Winchester, VA for the night and did a 7 mile hike on Saturday. My legs felt great! I'm really starting to feel more confident about Grindstone.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just for fun: things in my purse

I carry around a giant bag all the time. And, I have a lot of random stuff, especially as a runner, that will hopefully either make you laugh or at least shake your head and think I'm crazy. On with it! (I'm bored at work)
  1. Water bottle (my camelback handheld) with a pocket with cash, my ID, a debit card, and my Smart trip.
  2. My entire make-up bag in case I need to look pretty
  3. A book
  4. Perfume
  5. My wallet (I have over 37 cards)
  6. Sunglasses with my giant pink case
  7. Sunscreen
  8. Camera
  9. Deodorant
  10. Keys (with a bottle-opener key chain--very useful!)
  11. Antibiotic ointment (I fall a lot) and bandaids
  12. My watch (a garmin, that doesn't tell the time, but can tell me my pace and map out my movements)
  13. Nuun tablets and clif shots
  14. A hammer (there isn't much pepper spray can do that a hammer can't! I take it out at night in case I get attacked)
  15. Headlamp
  16. Three chapsticks and a lipgloss since it takes me forever to find one
  17. ibuprofen
  18. A lock
  19. A pencil
  20. An extra pair of shoes (flip flops or heels, whatever I'm not wearing at the moment)
  21. Usually some sort of food
  22. Tissues
  23. Condoms
  24. Cell phone
  25. Ipod

Trains well with others

Before say, February, I was always dead-set on running alone. I liked to head out with my water, iPod, garmin, and feel free to speed up, slow down, stop to adjust my shoe, and run whenever I wanted to. I didn't understand why people ran with groups. Why on earth would you want to do that? When I did run with a friend that was visiting, or my roommates, it was nice but I wanted to put my iPod back on and reclaim my "me-time."

I joked that I didn't train well with others.

Now, I have two running groups and I almost always do my long runs with Brian. I only run with my iPod half the time, I'm moving into a house of ultrarunners, and I plan on taking advantage of group runs and training runs in the mountains. My last race, I spent more than half of it running with someone else. Basically, I have decided to let running take over every aspect of my life (including dating) and I've become a group run convert. Here is a narrative of my slippery slope.

First, in an attempt to get motivated almost a year ago I joined twitter, starting blogging, and started talking to other runners. I loved the community aspect of running, but still resisted running with people. I met someone who put me on a listserve of those running the North Face race, and it was selfish, but I started opening up to the aspect of running with them so I had access to the race course because I didn't have a car.

This is how I met Brian and we became very fast friends and both signed up for Grindstone, with the promise that we'd train together. We started running together and I couldn't believe how fast 15 miles went by when we were chatting. We volunteered at MMT 100, and met a bunch of people associated with VHTRC and were told we needed to go come out to WUS runs.


Woodley Ultra Society
It was mostly ultrarunnergirl's fault that I started coming to these runs. Two groups head out from "the ultra house" (a.k.a. my new home) into Rock Creek Park for about an hour and a half every Tuesday and end up at a bar with great pizza specials. The first couple times, I ran with the first, leisurely paced group and it was a blast. We talked, walked up hills, took it easy, and had a lot of fun as I learned how to navigate RCP. We all eat at least 1/2 a pizza and sit out on the patio of the bar after with a few beers, and then I run to my friend's house just a mile away to sleep. Its a perfect set-up!

I tried keeping up with the fast group a few weeks ago, and found that I was, in fact, able to run at a decent pace on the trails when forced to stop overthinking it! I'd like to run with the guys more to get faster on trails. They just fly up hills like they aren't even there and it encourages me the rest of the week to get better so I can keep up. A few weeks ago, Mike Wardian and Matt Woods (first place at TNF race) showed up. I was already feeling sick that day and only lasted 3 miles with them, but it was pretty cool to have elite runners show up for your group run!

Hashing
What is hashing? Running, with beer stops, an after party, and constant sexual references. I've been told I needed to join for years and I can't believe it took me this long! A bunch of my college friends are there and I've decided its a must-do every week. The running isn't too difficult, but the "hares" lay trails through places like Pentagon City Mall, up a creek, and through backyards and ghetto neighborhoods. There are plenty of rules, and if you break them you're "violated" by being forced to drink a beer at the end of a run. Last week, I got four.
Photo by EWH3

With my group runs on Tuesday, hashing on Thursday, and long runs with Brian over the weekend, I'm doing half my running with other people, and I love it! I'm a group run convert, mingling social life with running and finding its much more fun!

With all these long training runs coming up, I'm getting three 50ks in 15 days, all of which were either free or less than $30. Two are in the mountains, and I know they will be great workouts and I always have fun at races.  In August, there is a big, group training weekend for Grindstone, where they split up the "out" part of the course into two days of running with camping in between. Do I have a tent? No. Have I ever been camping before? No. Have I ever been hiking before? No. I'm still trying to figure out why I think I can do this.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life & Training

I'm exhausted today and in a very bad mood.  I overslept and wanted to oversleep some more. I was late for work. My boss is pissing me off. I asked for less ice in my iced latte and instead of cheering me up it pissed me off more because they filled the whole cup up with ice and I paid $4 for it. I even bought a really cute skirt and shoes on sale, and I'm still not happy. So, I took a deep breath and realized that I've been really just building my base so far this year, and now I feel like I'm training again.  For those of you either training for your first big, long distance race, or dealing with me, I thought I'd summarize the (read: my) body's reaction to training.

MORE SLEEP
I remember reading that you should add your weekly mileage in minutes per night of more sleep. So, if you run 60 miles a week, you should sleep an extra hour every night.  This is why I can get 8 hours of sleep and still be exhausted. But trying to run 60 miles a week, sleep 9 hours, and work 40 hours, is rather difficult. Running 120 miles, sleeping 10 hours, and working 40 hours is impossible. And no, sleep cannot be substituted with coffee.

While overall, training will give you more energy, it doesn't happen on days you run 12 miles before showing up to the office so expect to feel worn out. But, I can feel it on a rest day that I have more energy.

MORE FOOD
Get ready for your appetite to spike. You will be hungry All. The. Time. Plan to have food ready:
  • Before running.
  • After running.
  • Breakfast.
  • Mid-morning snack.
  • Pre-lunch workout.
  • Lunch 1.
  • Lunch 2.
  • Dinner.
  • Dessert.
  • Midnight snack.
I find that when I don't adequately prepare, I get hungry and irritable, and leave the office 6 times a day for a crappy snack. So I claim a spot in the fridge and keep a lot of food at work.  A person my height/weight will only burn 1300-1400 calories if they weren't active... about how much I burn on a run/strength training workout with recovery. So, I make the joke that I'm eating for two.

MESSED-UP LADY SCHEDULE (men: skip this)
My PMS stage (a week or two before the start of my period) is blown out of proportion. I'm twice as irritable, I need my food cravings, I'm so, so, so exhausted all the time, my work-outs suck, and I can't schedule a race during this time. Also, my periods are much more frequent. They are really early, which is better than being really late I guess. Yesterday mine came 5 days early.

LOTS OF BODY-LOVE
A good thing! Yay! I feel so great about my bod during training. Even if I don't lose weight, I am so impressed by how it handles everything that my negative body issues disappear for a while (remember this post?). If your libido dies away, you're over-training.

With the impending 100 mile race, my new, challenging running partners, and my feeling out of shape and slow, I've stepped it up the past few weeks. I'm strength training more. I'm focused on my pace. I'm trying to fit in more hills. And, I can feel it. On Tuesday, I ran with some elite ultra runners and talked with Matt Woods (who won the North Face 50 miler) over pizza. His peak weeks are 90-120 miles, with a full-time job. I asked him how stressful that was, and his response was (paraphrased) "You have no life. I tried to fit in a few group runs and a movie night so that I kept my sanity. That was the extent of my social life."  It doesn't sound promising.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Since the only thing I like more than running is eating, I was intrigued by this list of 100 things every omnivore should try. I say I would try everything once, and at first, the only thing I crossed off was "whole insects" until I realized that I've totally accidentally eaten bugs before--that counts, right? I've eaten a lot of French, Indian, and Asian dishes, where I had no clue what I was eating (especially the Indian food), so I may have more bolds than I think.

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor--that sounds so good.
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake