Saturday, June 29, 2019

Black Mountain Monster Race Recap: My First Official Ultra

Well dang it!! I had my entire recap written up but somehow I lost it!! So here is my second attempt to recap this amazing event! I hope I give it as much accolades as I did the first time I jotted all this down. 

Oh man there’s so much I want to say about the Black Mountain Monster 12 Hour Ultra! You can read all about my training and lead up to the event here.

On the Friday before the race my friends, my husband and I all headed up to Black Mountain for packet pick up and some yummy dinner! We met at Vertical Runner for the packet pick up and then we headed to My Father's Pizza after!

Kim and Nikki were planning to pace me and John was running the 24 Hour. 

After dinner we headed over to the race start and set out a regular tent and a pop up tent that John and Kim brought to serve as our home base. We then headed down the mountain and got some sleep. We planned to drive back up in the morning. Black Mountain is only about a 45 minute drive for us. 

The course was a 3.125 mile loop that is a combination of single track trail, wide trail, grassy trails, some gravel, and a short stint of paved path. Upon the completion of each loop we would pass by our tent.

We got up to the race with planety of time to spare, grabbed our gear and headed to the tent.

I had worked the night before to pack up all my gear! I will share another post in the future about this. It worked out incredibly well!! When we got to the race start we set up our table and chairs and hung out for a bit before heading to the starting coral.

My friend Kim S. was also there running the 6 Hr. event so she and I started off together and hung out for the next several loops!

I actually lost track of loops... The loops, miles and hours all seemed to blend together pretty quickly!

I specifically remember being about 10 miles in and feeling as though we had just started. I seriosuly felt like we were still on the first mile.

My husband reminded me that I would be running longer than I typically work in a day and it was so hard for me to full grasp that but honestly the time flew by!

I loved the fact that every 3ish Miles I was near my gear!! Having never done an endurance event like this before I had no idea how to plan and I had no idea what I was doing but I was super organized with my gear and very quickly developed my system on the course! Every two passes around the loop I would stop at our tent. I decided to fuel with what I knew so I packed everything I might need! This was a good plan because my stomach as per usual did cramp up one or twice during the event. 

Before the race I had one waffle and a cup of coffee at home. I had a little bit of a tortilla with Nutella before starting the race and took a GU with me to take as I began my second loop. I carried my water bottle with 1/2 Nuun Sport and 1/2 Nuun Sport with Caffeine. This proved to be a good combo. 

Every other loop of the course I would swing out to our tent, swap out my water bottle, fuel with either the Nutella tortilla or a Honey Stinger Organic Waffle, grab my bottle with GU for the next lap and head back out.

Kim came and stayed from the start until 4 PM when she could begin running with me (after the 6 Hr event had ended). She was so helpful at the tent, she would have my bottle ready for me to go back out and was willing to help me with anything I needed. Next year she has to run this with me the whole time so we are taking applications for next years crew lol! We will have to have auditions though, you will have to be as good as Kim! LOL!!

There was one main aid station at the tent city and a table set up with water containers on the trail as a re-fill station. 

My Nuun mix bottles lasted me 1 1/2 loops and I filled up with water and the water station on the trail 1/2 way through my second loop which would easily carry my to the every other pit stop I would make. 

There were porta potties just before coming into tent city which was also super convenient. 

Each loop we made we crossed over the timing mat. I loved being able to see my time and loops on the screen they had displayed each and every loop I made. 

This video makes me cry everytime I watch it! The girls voice, the song, the fact that there I was doing the thing I wasn't sure I'd really ever be able to do and Kim's voice full of joy and emotion for me...

The weather forecast was 100% of rain for 100% of the time. Luckily the rain held off until around lunch time. 

The course was muddy from the start and the air was cool with a ever so slight mist in the beginning. I found it to be perfect!!

I also pretty quickly developed my strategy for on the course. My goal was to FINALLY get my 50K after two previous failed attempts. I listened to so many ultra running podcasts and read so many endurance run race recaps and blogs leading up to the event. The overwhelming pattern I saw was to start slow and then slow down. That really is kind of a hard concept to grasp but I knew I wanted to be able to sustain for the long run. Kim S. and I decided to start toward the back of the pack. For one reason, I didn't want to get pushed or trampled and for the second reason I did not want to deal with getting left in the dust as soon as I started. 

If you read my ultra preparation post you will understand where I was at mentally and emotionally going into the event. 

The first lap I established my pattern. I would run at a conversational pace and I would walk the hills. I did that every single lap and surprisingly all the way to the end my laps I stayed pretty consistent. You can clearly see my lunch and dinner breaks in the lap details.

Unfortunately my Garmin died about ten or so hours in and so I lost several miles but my official report also indicates my official average pace so I was pretty spot on.

I LOVED the course!! As I mentioned before there was a mix of single track trail, wide trail, grassy trails, some gravel, and a short stint of paved path. the bulk of the course was through the trees with a few shorter tints on the grassier parts that were more open. 

I took my headphones thinking I would need them to keep me powered up but I never even got them out. I had the company of other runners all along the way.

I was pleasantly surprised to also see a few volunteers along the course giving high fives to the runners and remind me that I was "killing it".

My daughter and her friend came by and saw me around lunch time which was great!

I then grabbed a quesadilla at the main aid station which was delicious and headed on back out!

The rain began right around that time. I stretched out my arms to welcome it and it was as if this song, this lyric, was stuck on repeat in my head: 

"Let the rain fall down and wake my dreams"

It is as if the rain rejuvenated me and gave me energy to power me through the rest of the race. 

The rain poured down the rest of the day and night. The mud puddles turned into small ponds and the dirt paths turned into mud slides.

It was amazing!!! I loved it!! I felt so alive and had so much fun!!! I felt like a little girl splashing around in all the mud puddles!!

In the first lap most everyone gingerly skirted to the sides of the puddles that had already formed from the night before but by the second pass we were all just charging through them!!

At 4:00 pm my friends Kim, Nikki and Sandra joined me, I was around mile 24. They ran with me until the second to the last lap.  

It poured and poured and poured.

I still had not decided if I would stop at the 50K or keep going. Kim felt certain I could get 40 miles. That felt like pressure to me a little bit but I decided I would keep moving for the full 12 Hours to see how many miles I could get. I am so thankful for that gentle nudge to keep going and again I was reminded of the question "I wonder what would happen if I didn't give up". Stopping at the 50K, although a huge accomplishment, would be selling myself short so to say. 

Nikki's husband Josh came and brought Pizza and cupcakes for dinner. That was a nice surprise!! 

I never sat down the entire 12 hours and I tried hard not to stop for long either. I had read in a blog post somewhere to just keep moving and that tip served me well. 

My Husband came around 8pm to cheer me into the finish!!

It started to feel as if we were swimming. The rain barely let up the rest of the evening.

I of course did not take many pictures because of the rain but it was intense! Even still I loved it!! 

It's true what they say:

As we approached the second to the last lap I saw that I was 6th Female. I had already lost more time than I wanted to when we stopped for pizza and my runner girls needed to stop for more lights and chargers but I really wanted to stay in 6th and shoot for a couple extra miles before the cut off so I kicked it into high gear and took back off for another lap. I ran the entire last lap! I knew I would only make it one or two more miles before the 12 Hr cut off and I was right! I got to the one mile mark in 11 hours 34 minutes and 58 seconds. I never saw another timer after that! I feel certain I made it to the second mile within the 12 hours because I made it back to the finish line and the clock reflected 12:23:02! 

My official time and miles:

Deanne Avery
Time on Course 11:34:58
Overall Place 17.
Gender Place 6.
Distance 44.750 miles

I ran a total of 47ish miles overall in the 12:23:02 time to get back to the start. 

I maintained by 6th Place Female out of 33 and 17th place overall out of 71 runners!! I could not believe it!! 

I feel like I totally could have gotten 50 miles. I only needed 6 more miles and there were 4 laps that I took pretty slow, most likely stopping a little longer than I needed to. I can't wait to see what I can do next year!!

I honestly would not change a thing about this race! I wish I had camped the night before and the night after. Maybe next year. 

After we left the 24 Hr race continued for a while but around 3am they had to make the call to cancel due to rapidly rising water. 

The race organizers were awesome!! Directions were clear. The course was well marked and well maintained. I give this race a BIG 5 GOLDEN stars!! 

I can't wait until next year, I hope it rains again too, maybe not quite as much but enough to bring back all the fond memories of this race!!

I think 12 Hour Ultras are now my favorite. I also think looped courses are now my favorite!! The Black Mountain Monster will forever hold a special place in my heart!! 


Check back soon for my upcoming post on how to pack for the 12 Hour Ultra!!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

I wondered what would happen if I didn’t give up: My Ultra Story

Yes so I have been MIA on training updates lately on the blog. If you are following me on Instagram though you know I am running more than I ever have before. I am actually on a run streak since January 1st and right now I have no desire to stop it! I am getting so much stronger and training so much better than ever before!

Last year I was signed up to run the Black Mountain Monster 6 Hour Endurance Run. Due to extreme weather conditions the race was postponed to another weekend and I was unable to make it work so I deferred to this year. I also switched to the 12 Hour Run.

For a while I was not sure what I was thinking. Actually to be honest I really wasn’t thinking.  I could not quite comprehend what running for 12 hours would be like. The longest I had run before was around 6 hours.

Since running my first Marathon in April 2018 I have had a hunger for more. A fire within me burns for long distance running.

Following my first marathon I attempted my first 50K but the weather conditions stood in the way of me meeting my goal. I then went back to that same race this year to handle my unfinished business but my own health conditions stood in the way of me meeting my goal. In between these two I did complete a 40K trail run and completed my second marathon but I really wanted the ultra!

As I tend to do sometimes, I began to really over think things. Was I really cut out for ultra-running? Trails are so much different that roads. They are harder for me. But oh man I love being on the trail!

I was also kind of nervous because while I deferred my Black Mountain Monster entry from last year to this year my friends Kim and John did not. The schedule change did not affect them and they were able to still run it last year. I thought I would be training for it this year and running it this year on my own.

I was so wrong! My running friends are the absolute best friends and they decided that they would train with me and pace me at the end of the race. John also registered for the 24 Hour!! I was so relieved. Training for that solo would have been daunting.

I found myself feeling pretty super superstitious about this 50K attempt.

Leading up to most of my big running events I share my weekly recap of my training on the blog and while I felt it was very beneficial as I trained to log my training, it really helped me recognize areas for improvement, cycles in my training and helped keep me accountable, I elected not to do that for this ultra. 

I thought what if I share all the details again and again fail. 

Leading up to most races I post what I am training for on all my social channels and am typically very vocal about what it is I am working towards. I was not as vocal this time about what I was up to.

I thought what if I share all the details again and again fail. 

I typically lay out a flat me before a race and share to my socials as I get pumped up for the event, I did this on both my previous 50K attempts. 

I thought what if I share all the details again and again fail. 

Worst of all, both times before I bought something that said “Ultra” that I planned to display after the ultra, first time a magnet for my car, then the second attempt a T-shirt…. Ooops. 

This time, for this attempt, I did NONE of that!  I did not want to jinx it like I felt I had both times before.  

I decided for this event to lay low, to keep my training details limited to an instagram and twitter post about the Run Streak and not really mention my next race. 

If you are interested in my training plan that I followed I am happy to share it. My plan served me well. I did modify as needed but tried to be sure to hit the long runs. It was especially beneficial to run every day. I varied intensity and workouts and the consistency paid off!

This is my quick recap in pictures:

My goal for this race was to FINALLY get my 50K after those two previous failed attempts. 

The week leading up to the race I had this calm about me. I was free of all the self inflicted pressure I normally feel before a race. The weather was forecasted to be horrible and even that didn’t bother me. I decided to let this race be a celebration of all the hard work I had put in so far this year. I decided that even if I only got to mile seven it would be a super cool seven mile run on a new course!

By Friday, however, the gitters set in. All day I would randomly feel a surge of nervousness when I would think about being at the “race”. I tried over and over to tell myself that for me this was a long run with lots of trail friends. I wasn’t racing. Racing stresses me out!! I planned to start off toward the back, start off slow and just not let my adrenaline push me out too fast whereas I would crash and burn quick! I needed to start at a pace I could maintain all day long. Thoughts of being passed, being left in the dust also start to creep in. I am for sure going to be passed, I am not an elite athlete lol! I am a mid pack runner and faster runners will pass me. Never the less, if I let them, those feelings can quickly turn to a feeling of defeat. I know that when I'm out there at the race being passed actually does not bother me as much as the anticipation of being passed in the days leading up to the race does. I eventually found some comic relief… I decided that as I was passed, since the race was a 3.125 mile loop, I would say “See you around!” to those runners.

Hahahahahahahahaha Hahahahahaha I laughed about this so hard Friday night, I found myself Comedy Central worthy. I mean that is hysterical. I was seriously cracking up!!! Get it??? The course is a loop… You know that goes around and around….. So "See you around".... Hahahahaha!!!

Ok so maybe it was only funny to me but man it pushed all angst over the edge and I was no longer worried about anything!  

This relief cleared the way for the best question to settle in. I suddenly found myself wondering what would happen if I didn’t give up!

My goal was the 50K. I kind of thought I would run until I got to the 50K and then just be done. Last minute Kim, one of my training partners, tossed out the suggestion that I could probably get 40-41 miles. Hahahaha, more comic relief… Except that what if she was right?? I decided that I would give myself two goals. My target goal would be the 50K and my stretch goal could be 40 miles. 

I planned to show up and give my full ten hours to this event and love the celebration of my months of dedication and hard work!

I will be sharing next a full recap of the race but I will give you a spoiler:

I did not give up, I did say “see you around” a time or two, I had an AMAZING time, I met my target goal of the 50K, I met my stretch goal of 40 miles, I even exceeded that!! My official results were 44.75 miles in 11:34:58. I actually completed the full last loop after the 12 hour cut off for a total of 46.875 miles in 12:23:02!!

I finished 6th Female in the 12 Hour out of 33 women and 17th overall out of 71 people. I was blown away!!! I can not believe it! I am soooo proud and so happy!! I had an amazing experience. I can not wait to share all the rest of the details of this event!! 

To be continued...

Monday, June 17, 2019

ShokzSquad for Life!!

Disclaimer: I received a set of AfterShokz Air headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I am no stranger to AfterShokz, in fact this is my third pair and you better believe when given the chance again I will say sign me up!! Seriously these are hands down the absolute best headphones for running on the market! I'd like to have a pair in every go bag I own and a pair in the car just in case I forget! 

I wear them for nearly every run and my girls love them so much too!! 

I was super excited to get the Midnight Blue Pair and couldn't wait to open them up!!

Most recently my husband has bough a new mountain bike. He used to mountain bike all the time but has pretty busy with home remodeling as of late and he fell out of the saddle so to speak lol!

He recently ordered a new custom bike and has been hitting the trail!

I suggested he try out the AfterShokz Trekz Air and at first he was sure he wouldn't like them. After all how would they work with a face strap from a bike helmet in the way and all. 

The idea must have grown on him and after a few days he gave them a try. It's safe to say I no longer have three pair of AfterShokz lol!

He said they worked out great and he will be using them on all his rides going forward!!

They are super light weight, they use titanium to enhance the fit and sound! There are sweat and weather proof and produce great sound!!

Honestly, whether you are running, walking, biking and want to listen to your favorite playlist or just wanting to hang out at home and talk on the phone or listen to podcasts, hands down aka hands free, these are the headphones for you!! 

Don't just take my word for it!

Check out what all my friends have to say about the AfterShokz Trekz Air:

Alastair V. 

Check out AfterShokz and use code BRBUNDLE for $50 OFF their Adventure Bundle!!

You will not be disappointed!!
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