Thursday, October 28, 2010

Holy EarBuds Batman

First of all, I have a terrible time with earbuds (head phones that fit in your ears) apparently along with my abnormally small head I have small ears and thus the stupid things fall out.  So a normal run goes something like this...running along...running...feel bud coming out...swing arm up to nudge bud back in, this somehow dislodges the other side, nudge it in....running...feel bud coming out...repeat for 20-100 miles.  It drives me nuts and forget about just wearing one bud.  If I put just one bud in and the other down my shirt the bugger constantly falls out. ERRRRRR!
I was listening to The Marathon Show and Joe (the host) was interviewing the owner of Snuggbuds.  The owner was talking about the sound quality and other stuff and then all of the sudden...dah dah dah...he said something like: you know women have smaller ear canals so the buds come with different size buds that are rubbery so that they will fit in anyone's ear.  Oh the guy had me at small ear canal but, then he went on to talk about the fact they cover the cord in material so that it doesn't get tangled up.  WHAT!!! I am not messing with you folks the cord is completely covered in a black material and doesn't tangle.  Nuts.  I tell you.  Nuts.  So there I am looking at the guys website and all of the sudden ... Joe (the host) says will you give the ladies on chat a pair and the guy says YES.  WOOOT WOOOOT!!!!!!

Yesterday I come home to find my new pair of Snuggbuds.  Oh they are lovely.

This morning I head out on my run with my new buds in.  At first I am listening to a podcast (The Parent Experiment, I am all out of Marathon Shows and Endurance Planet Podcast, wahhhhh).  The podcast sounds fine, nothing to write home about and then it happens...BUM BUM BUM...BUM BUM BUM...Beyonce's "Single Lady" comes on and, dang I can almost feel the beat in my soul it is so clear.  Then it gets better.  All of you who follow my blog know where I am going with this.  Yes, folks the Black Eyed Peas hit my ear canal and shoot straight through my brain and down to my heart.  And so I did what anyone would do if they had the Black Eyed Peas piping straight to their soul.  I first began singing...I GOT A FEELING...THAT TONIGHT'S GONNA BE A GOOD NIGHT...and then well ..Tonight's the NIGHT LETS LIVE IT know that part.  I am in the middle of a median when that hits.  No problem.  I stop and yes, I start dancing, I just have myself one big ole party on that median.  I jump around like a fool and sing out loud and wear the biggest grin.  I am sure I got some funny looks but couldn't say for sure because I was focused on my one person dance party.  And who cares probably made those peoples day.  Maybe they will go home and head out on a run.  I am telling you the sound clarity from these buds blew my mind.  They nearly popped my heart.  I wanted to run so fast that I almost made myself puke on my beloved mountain bike trails.  I just ran like I was flying, with music piping in so loud and clear that I felt like it was inside me.  Dang that was an awesome run. 

So a huge THANK YOU!!! to Snuggbuds.  The earbuds are the best I have ever had, ok I didn't even know that sound quality could be that good.  Yowsa.  And finally for a visual aid for you followers out there.  I tried to reenact my dancing once I got home.  This just in: If you order Snuggbuds and enter the promotion code: THEMARATHONSHOW you will save 15%.

Monday, October 25, 2010


My running friend Heather began her latest blog post with this quote:

 "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit". - George Sheehan

The quote really got me thinking...isn't that just about the most spot on thing you have ever read about running and running ultras in particular?  I mean who cares about the other people out there, they aren't your competition, your mind and body are?  You have to conquer the voice in your head that tells you turn around with the 50 milers or force yourself to eat or drink when all you want to do is hurl.  You are in competition with yourself and that is both the sad and beautiful truth of it.  Someone, ok a million people have asked why run an ultra.  These are the same people that make a quip like..."I only run when being chased." I always say to them because, at the end of that race you know deep down what you are made of.  There is no faking your way through 100 miles.  Either you trained for it and are willing to suffer or you aren't.  That leads me to another thing I have been pondering lately: Training.
People ask how you train for 100 miles and really the wackiness of it is, I have only made it to 100 miles in a week for my training.  Yes in training it takes me a whole week to get in the miles I try to run in one day.  I know it doesn't seem right.  The answer to how you train is different for each runner but, for moms it is super complicated.  Especially for moms who have husbands who are out of town a huge portion of each month.  I find that many days I am just running in every free moment I can find.  I drop Chloe off at school and need to do errands and get in a run so, there I am running down the road with packages in my arms, heading to the Post Office, or carrying books to the library, or hitting the Red Box 5 miles from her school to return a movie.  You have to get creative when it comes to high mileage weeks.  I know I am not the only girl up at 2 or 3am starting a run before the house wakes up.  For many moms the weekends aren't time for long runs they are the short run days because, those are the days we have no breaks from parenting and therefore no personal time to get in a jumbo run.  You just have to take advantage of every second and be willing to go to some places a little stinky.  So what does my training look like now?  Now that I am no longer training for a 100miler.  Well...
I promised myself I wouldn't sign up for anything over 50 miles until next spring.  And I am sticking to that.  But ...dun dun dun... Marny and Cathy (see crew from Rocky post) decided they wanted to do the Rocky Raccoon this year (the 50 miler) and well I have been itching to run a 50 all out.  Of course I immediately signed up.  I get to do a girls weekend with the Running Moms and run a 50, who would say no to that? I am not totally nuts, this was a no brainer.  I have been a little slow to really hit my mileage again following Heartland but now I have a strong Training Plan that begins next Monday.  I want to train  hard so that I can really see what I can do on a 50.  My first and only 50 mile race was a 9:02 and  I would really like to beat that time.  I have been coming through the 50 mile mark on my 100's at around 10hrs so I think it is doable but, it is going to require a little ass kicking to get there.  And so...let the kicking begin. 
Happy Running Everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Heather's Blog

A Running Mom friend of mine wrote the nicest blog about me.  Check out Heather's Blog if you are interested.  She writes really well so somehow she was able to articulate what I am about way better than I ever could.  Thank you Heather.

Friday, October 15, 2010


As most of you know my goal with this blog was to relay my running tales and let other runners know what worked or didn't work for me.  I wanted more than anything to inspire others to get out there and run.  I am a firm believer in: You can do absolutely ANYTHING you put your mind to.  Along the way I have received messages that I inspired someone to get out there and run a certain distance or try something but, some of my favorite messages are the ones that say that I have inspired someone to TRY.  Or made someone believe that they could do anything, WOOOT WOOOT!!

That in mind this has been a huge week for me.  I ran a great race and had a ton of support and tons of messages about how I inspired someone or touched them and dang that made me proud and happy.  Then this morning I wake up and find a message on FB from another PTA mom who said she wrote a blog post about me.  Her post pretty much hits home as to what I would love for people to get out of my blog.  Dang Holly made my day.  AND THEN...I get home from my run and on FB there is a post from Joe Taricani host of The Marathon Show and he has put me in his new promo video.  The icing on the cake is what he has to say about me is that he bets a few years ago I didn't think I would be running ultras and yet here I am today finishing a 100 miler in 21hrs.  He is right.  Every runner, every person, can do absolutely anything they put their mind to.  The possibilities are really only limited by our minds and what we believe we can do.  I am so dang psyched.  What a great week.  If you get a chance check out the Marathon Show podcasts, they are great, they have everyone on from Bart Yasso to Ordinary Joe Schmo's like you or me.  Thanks to everyone for all of the FB, Blogger and CM love.  You all have really put me over the moon.  Help....someone lasso me in, :).  I am a lucky girl to have so much support, I know it and I appreciate it more than silly words could express.

You Belong as part of The Marathon Show

I had to post this.  Joe actually talks about me and Heartland.  I was pretty psyched.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heartland Spirit of the Prairie - Race Report

I always have a tough time starting these reports. I have so much to say. This time I think I will start with a bit of a conclusion, I know that is backwards but I think it is important. I have thought about the race a lot the past few days; I am on a runners high. I finished 2nd for women, 10th overall and I crushed my PR by over 6hrs. I ran 100 miles in under 22hrs. Yes, I DID IT!!!! I feel like I have conquered a beast. I seriously feel like yelling from the roof tops. But here is my conclusion: I couldn’t have done it without my amazing crew. I can’t thank them enough. We worked like a team the entire day and it worked. This is a long one so, buckle up folks.

We (the girls and I) all converged on Cassoday KS on Friday for the prerace meeting. Then we headed out for dinner and to the hotel to go over gear. By 9 pm I was out like a light. I slept hard and soundly. 0430 came early as you would expect. All of the girls wanted to go to the start so we were all up early, we loaded the cars and headed back to Cassoday (it is so small there isn’t a hotel there and literally you can throw a rock from the sign that says you are entering town to the sign that says you are leaving town). I got checked in and we stood around trying to stay warm before the start. At 0600 I was off. The next Aid Station wasn’t for 8.5 miles and I wouldn’t see the crew again for 17miles.
Before the race.  I think Tracey has a better picture.  Will post her pics next week.

I ran this first 17 easy. I didn’t push it. I tried to keep in mind that patience would make or break this race for me. I was determined to run a smarter race this time around. I talked to a few other runners; one guy had attempted four 100milers and had yet to complete one. As we came to the first Aid Station I stopped filled my bottle with my electrolyte drink and headed on out. I was so proud of myself for stopping it was ridiculous. The next section was quite difficult, it was super hilly and the terrain was loose rock in a rutty road. I found myself continuously searching for the best place to run. I began walking the uphill’s at this point (this was something I did for the rest of the race; I used the uphill’s to rest and take a walk break). As I neared the 17 mile Aid Station where I would meet the crew I knew I wanted to change shoes , my metatarsal (which had been a bit off since Lone Ranger) was just a little aggravated by the rocks so I wanted to get my New Balance shoes on so I could change socks to ones with more padding. I ran up to the girls, they were all there cheering me on. Tracey took my pack. I talked to Marny about my shoes and the fact I thought I should put on my compression sleeves (I have to say one thing that really made me feel confident all day was being able to talk to Marny about every decision, I listened to everything she told me and we discussed gear changes, she really made a huge difference in my race), I think it was Cindy who stuck a half a banana in my pack, lol (that slimed me later but I ate it), Teresa frantically repacked chews and real food into my pack. Marny and I agreed I would change my socks, my shoes and add compression sleeves. I threw my pack back on and I was off.

The next leg was 9 miles. I just cruised along listening to my iPod. I must have gone through a million episodes of The Marathon Show. It was on this leg that I realized some of the farmers were not so happy to see runners on their roads. Some were nice and drove slowly by and others blasted by me, spraying me and other runners with gravel and dust. When I ran up to the girls I handed off my pack, Marny and I decided no changes needed to be made, I was right on with my caloric intake and my fluids. The girls were fast so I was out of their quickly.

The next leg was 11 miles. It was really pretty. I ran along. About halfway through I came to a manned Aid Station where the guy recording runners said “#90, Hi Tara” and somehow hearing my name put the biggest smile on my face. There were no issues this leg. I was still eating. I thought I might be getting a hot spot on the ball of my foot (later we checked and I was wrong) but no real issues. This time as I came to the Aid Station I saw my crew coming out to meet me. Marny, Cindy and Teresa ran in with me, it was so awesome to see them out there. It may have only been a ¼ of a mile but dang it made my spirits leap to see them and hear their cheers. By this time Cindy was handing me her special juice every time I saw her (red grapes and ginger) I think it probably really contributed if not was the sole reason for my lack of stomach issues (thank you Cindy). I was still gulping Ensure at every Aid Station and girls were filling my hand held with electrolytes. This system really seemed to work. Also I think the fact I slowed down and really talked to the crew at every aid station really helped. It was this stop where Marny said before she saw me again I better have two packets of some sort of food like substance consumed. And I was off to the prettiest section of the course.

The next 6miles were gorgeous. I just loved the rolling hills and the cows out in the fields. I ate like crazy to get my two packets of food consumed and I drank a ton. I also started chasing “wingman” at this point. Why Wingman you ask? The guy would stretch out his arms at the top of hills and he looked like he was flying. I realized somewhere before this point that I was slowly but surely passing folks, no one had passed me but I just kept picking folks off one at a time. That was a super morale booster. I was super excited to get to the next Aid Station because there I would pick up my first pacer. Again the girls met me out on the course; it was so great to see them. I honestly can’t put in words how my spirits lifted every time I saw them and I was having a great time. It was just seeing them made my day. We ran in, talked about feet, food, water, etc… I dumped rocks from my shoes, we checked my feet, I got my hand held refilled and some food and Uncle Ronnie and I were off.

Dang it was fun to get to run with my Uncle Ronnie. He is a really nice guy and super talkative. After a mile or so he asked me if I wanted to run down Wingman. I told him I had been chasing the guy for miles now and had decided to be patient; no race would be won or lost at mile 45. Eventually we did catch up with Wingman (his real name is Claude) funny enough he knew my name. Apparently he was buddies with a girl who knew Cindy, small world. As Uncle Ronnie and I ran along he asked how my eating was going and made sure I was drinking. There was just about a mile downhill to the turnaround. Lone Pine and yes there was one tree there. We each drank some Mountain Dew, we declined the hamburgers being offered and refilled my handheld with the electrolytes (it was a pretty hot day, near 90 so I had to stay on top of my electrolytes) and we were off to chug back up that dang hill. You know in an out and back course if you go 1 mile down you have to go 1 mile back up, boy that was a bugger. I asked Uncle Ronnie what time it was, he didn’t know so, he did what any awesome pacer would do, he flagged down the next car that passed us (insane that there was a car passing us out where we were) got the time. It was 1550 or close to it. I told him if I could just keep this up I should be able to break 24 hrs and for the first time that day I really began to believe this might be my day. Also on the way out to the turnaround I began to count the people that went by, I soon realized I wasn’t in the back of the race, or the middle, I was near the top, I was the 4th or 5th woman and not that many guys were ahead of me either. This sort of lit a fire under my you know what. I felt awesome. My legs felt great, my feet didn’t hurt, no stomach issues but, I couldn’t let myself get too excited after all it wasn’t until almost 90 miles in both of my last two races that I fell apart. That knowledge haunted me all day and all night. I ran wondering if/when I would again fall apart. It wasn’t like I let the negative take hold it was more like that knowledge made me be patient, made me slow down, made me be careful so that I could power on through mile 90 and through to the finish. Uncle Ronnie said “You were like a horse going back to the barn, boy you just took off.” I think that says it all, lol.

Back at the Aid Station I picked up my second pacer Teresa. She was awesome. It was still day light so we just got to have a nice 6 mile run down a country road. It was this stretch where I caught “Pinky” (the lady ahead of me who was wearing pink) then she caught me, and then I caught her and so on and so on. It was a little frustrating because I wanted to get myself into 3rd place. Pinky and I did talk a little and she said that at her last race she had to walk the last 20 miles and she just didn’t want to have to do that again, I told her I totally understood because I didn’t want a repeat of my last 20 from Rocky. Teresa was great fun to run with, she gave me a few Marny stories and we went over gear changes for the next Aid Station.

At the next Aid Station I picked up Marny. Wooot wooot, I got to run with Marny, I had been looking forward to this all day. We headed out and soon it was night. We passed Pinky and of course she passed us, we didn’t see her again. We ran and talked and I had a great time. I was still walking the uphills and running everything else. This system actually worked for the entire race. I am still in awe of Marny for doing this stretch with me; it was 11 miles long, she had a busted knee and both feet have plantar fasciitis. I am not sure “Thank You” covers how I feel about her help and support at this race. I think towards the later part of our leg we really had a nice pace going, it felt great. We worked out the clothing changes that needed to happen at the next Aid Station as well as the rest of my race plan.

As we ran into the Aid Station we found Tracey at her car along the road. I began to change all of my clothes. Marny went to get me coffee. Tracey got the broth ready. Once I had on tights, new bra, new shirt and an additional light, Teresa and I were off. Teresa was awesome on this leg. It was 9 miles long and she began what I like to refer to as “the coffee broth dance” as soon as we would start walking up a hill she would do this little jingle asking which I wanted. Not if I wanted either but basically choose one and get going. It was just the right amount of toughness needed. There were a few creepy parts on this section but we powered through. Towards the end of this leg we passed Pinky. I went nuts in my head. Holy S.H.I.T. I was now in 2nd place with around 20 miles to go and Pinky was walking. I could do this, I could, I knew I could.

At the previous Aid Station I had realized stopping to change clothes and what not was getting harder for me, it was hard for me to get going again, so I told Teresa, I was going to go right on through the Aid Station, her and Marny would fill my pack with whatever they thought I needed and have Cindy bring it to me. As we came to the Aid Station Cindy was in the PortaPotty. Marny yelled “is that you, omg you are early, CINDY!!!!!!!” I am not sure what happened next I just kept going knowing Teresa would get it all worked out. Cindy ran up to me, I told her I needed my pack, she ran back, and then back to me, then the sisters sprinted out with the pack and we were officially off. It was a dark night. There was no moon that made this rocky section a ton harder. Cindy and I worked up and down hills full of rocks, doing our best to keep our footing. Cindy being Cindy, yes my personal pep squad, had a speaker taped to herself, unfortunately somehow her iphone didn’t cooperate so there was no music. She then began reading FB messages. OMG did that buoy my spirits. I wasn’t low; I was just tired and still hadn’t made it past 90 miles. We didn’t know how far we were because we didn’t have a gps going and that was really frustrating for me, I really was focused on mileage and now couldn’t figure out where we were in the last 17 miles. But we just kept trucking on. I can’t thank Cindy enough for doing this leg of the race with me. She definitely got stuck with the worst section footing wise as well as you can imagine what I am like after running for 18hrs with no sleep. I am focused, no expression, pretty much no talking, just a walking machine but, she stuck by me and carried me through. When I would get tired she would say out of the blue “relentless forward motion Tara” and I would say it back to her and keep going. We finally came to an Aid Station. I handed them my handheld and asked for caffeine as I almost fell over, somehow I could walk and run at this point but couldn’t stand up. A truck pulled up and asked if I was “Tara Tosta” I said yes and how did he know my name and the dude said he knew things and left. Now that was weird. I asked the Aid Station Volunteer how far to the finish, she said 8.5 miles; I teared up and said I wanted to kiss her. She laughed. I cried and left the Aid Station Cindy caught up to me with some broth and bacon. I started crying and babbling that I had done it. I had these few moments where I almost completely lost it, I had made it past the 90 mile mark and my feet and legs were fine and I was going to make it to the finish. I knew it. I pulled it together and ate my bacon and drank my broth. Relentless Forward Motion, we kept moving. And then the F’ing Mirage appeared. You could see the lights leading to the finish line off and on for the last 8 miles, so it looked so close and yet so far and we still didn’t know mileage so it was really frustrating but, we did know I would bust 24hrs and most likely get 2nd. We just kept moving and every time I saw the lights I had hope that I could stop soon and then I would triangulate off the road and the lights and realize my leg of the triangle was pretty f’ing long still. Then we would go on down the road and I would think we were close and retriagulate and my hopes would be dashed again and on and on this went for the next 2 hrs. But we did it. Relentless Forward Motion. We ran when I could, we walked if I had to but we never stopped. We NEVER STOPPED!!!!!!!!!!!! And then it happened Cindy spotted a stop sign and an arrow; soon we were headed to Cassoday. And not too soon after that I saw the finish line. I was choking back tears, god I was happy. I am not sure I have ever felt that level of accomplishment. I could hear the cow bell at the finish line, I could see the crew waiting for me and I ran, yes, I ran across that line. I had done it. I had finished a 100 miler in less than 24 hrs.
Marny, Teresa and Tracey waiting at the finish

I couldn’t have done any of this without the crew. They were phenomenal. I didn’t talk about Tracey much but she was our logistics maven, she got everyone from Aid Station to Aid Station she was always there working out gear and food issues, she was incredible. She was an awesome Crew Chief. Thank You, Mama!

Patience paid a huge role in this race as did the crew. I ended up not having one blister at the end of the race and am already ready to run again. I didn’t have to stop once during the race to rest; I used the hills to rest while walking up them. Really this race went as smoothly as a 100 miler could go. I am super proud and appreciative of everyone’s efforts.
Gettting the Buckle.  No Prize for 2nd.  Guess I better work on getting 1st, lol.

Happy Running All!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pre Race Blab

Holy Cow is it really race week already?  Another 100 miler.  I am not actually sure how I feel.  I was calm, then nervous, then calm, then nervous and now a bit of nothing.  I am not nervous about finishing, although I think I should be given Lone Ranger but, somehow I believe in me and my body parts.  I am not nervous about my crew, we have had two great meetings and two of them have done this before, I have total confidence in them.  I am not worried about our plan of attack, we have really refined it in the last year and worked on the areas that fell apart in the other races.  I am not even scared of the night which I find bizarre because usually the thought of the night gives me a particular sense of dread.  But this time we have a plan, we are going to shove caffeine down my throat until my eyes bob or I take off like the Energizer Bunny.  We have plans and people who can make very smart back up plans.  We are ready for this.  I am ready for this.  I have been training hard for over a year now.  I have put in tons of 100 mile weeks in the last year.  This should be an awesome race. 

Today Marny left from Colorado. Tomorrow AM Cindy and I leave from Dallas.   Tomorrow Marny, Teresa and Tracey all meet in Leavenworth.  And we all will meet at packet pick up in the small sleepy town of Cassody KS.  So today we are busily packing and labeling and cleaning and getting things ready for our kids who we all have to leave behind for the weekend.  And tomorrow we will all be together planning, plotting and having a good time. 

If you want to follow the race, you can do so on my FB wall or if you want send me your phone number and I will pass it on to the ladies, they are blasting out text updates when they have cell coverage.

Happy Running all and Good Luck to all the Chicago Marathon runners.  Wooot wooot.  Kick some butt ladies.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet the Crew - Uncle Ronnie

I don't have a picture or the usual Pacer Questionnaire for our final crew member but, I do have a great story.  You see our final crew member is my 70yr old Uncle.  I am not messing with you.  He will also be running the second to longest leg with me, a 15 miler, right off the top so, I should still be moving pretty good by that point (lets hope, fingers crossed all you loyal readers).  So he has the fastest leg and one of the longest legs.  You have to love family.  He signed up for this gig as soon as he found out I was doing it and has been training hard for it.  He has read the Race Reports, the Race Website, he has even moved his training to gravel roads to make sure he was ready for the terrain.  He is hard core.  He also happens to be one heck of a funny guy and super talkative, I think that makes him just about the perfect pacer.  I know what you are thinking, that running is somehow in the blood lines but, in fact Uncle Ronnie is married to Aunt Dixie who is my Mom's cousin, so technically we share no DNA.  Uncle Ronnie hasn't always been a runner in fact he really got into after he retired (he is a Barber, owed his own shop and well the entire shopping center his shop was located in), now he can consistently win his age group and has worked up to running 12 miles at a 9mm pace.  I am super excited to get to run with him. 

I also wanted to say a special thanks to my Grandma Joyce and to Insurance Specialists (my parents are the owners) because they both helped fund this race.  It was awesome to be able to sign up for a race and not have to worry/think about hotel costs, food costs, gas, etc... Thank you both, I truly appreciate your support.
That is Grandma Joyce on the left.  Doug is in the middle and then Chloe and I.  This is from April in Boston.  Yes, my amazingly supportive Grandma even made the trip to Boston for my marathon.  She is one incredible lady.