Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer time life post Bryce 100

I've had a nice lax time since Bryce. I wanted to take time unstructured to recover fully despite the fact that I felt great from the day after the race. Like way better than I thought I would. I attribute it to a conservative consistent pace the whole time. Faster harder efforts are harder on the body I think. I had many very sweet people, comments, and gifts given after the race. I so appreciate that!  Yes I do this crazy stuff all the time but Bryce was something special for me and I appreciated the extra acknowledgment and kindness. 

I got to go for my first post Bryce run with American record holder and Altra athlete Zach Bitter who was driving out to Western States and spent a night here. As in awe as I was of his level and accomplishments it was also neat to feel how down to earth and normal he - and most elites- are. It was only 3.5 trail miles but I felt great!

I've spent lots of time with my little crew enjoying their summer break. This was a fun bike trip with just the girls (we left brother at home with Dad) to our favorite shaved ice place. This stuff is amazing!

Went on my first longer run post Bryce again feeling great. This is a favorite 13-14 mile loop of mine at the top of Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyon. These guys are a blast 
Living here does not stink, that's for sure. Love that trails like this are a 20 min drive 

Decided last minute to do a local 5 mile road race 2 weeks post Bryce. Was fun to be able to run to the race all of 1/2 mile away as a warm up. Technically I ran there and back twice since the high school kids that we're helping with the race were surprisingly all in Altras!  They love them!  So I ran home after registering and before the race to grab a few of my husbands shoes for the most passionate high school runner to try during the race. Was so fun to watch his face light up when I handed the bag of unreleased shoes over to him for an hour :)
The hard fast pace definitely felt different than ultra lace but was fun to run with a long open stride. Wanted to run it under 35 and I finished in 33:18 with a win!  Came away with enough money to pay for the race entry so that was nice. 


Ran the loop a few more times and saw a moose on one of them finally. 

My patriotic friend Zac and before a fun 4th of July eve run up Mt Timpanogus. A large group of us started at 9pm and finished the 14 mile, 4500ft run about 1:30am and hung out in the parking lot eating pot luck food. A great time. I had some weird knee pain at one point coming down but it went away. Hauled a redbull up there with me to test out. Don't know that it made me feel jumpy or way more alert and I certainly didn't get any wings, but it may have helped some. Did bother my stomach a little but that may have been just drinking all the chemically liquid. 

Took my oldest daughter mountain biking. Should have done the route we did in reverse order so some of the uphills kicked her butt and it was really hot, but it was awesome to watch her do things and go over stuff and follow lines I didn't think she would, even things I didn't do. 

My husband Jeremy and I had the chance to spend 30 miles and a night together backpacking in the Uinta mountains. Loved it!  People often ask if we run together and the answer is no. We've got 4 kids so one of us has to be here with them, and we just aren't the same pace. He gets stressed he's holding me back and I get impatient sometimes. But ironically we worked super well together at his Zion Traverse 50 miler earlier this year with me as his pacer and we backpack really well together. He has more wisdom than I do there, except in first aid, I usually treat those injuries :) but we just keep a good pace together that works well for both of us. 
We would stop so he could fly fish every few hours and so I could devour everything in my pack. I love to eat. And sit on bridges and watch him and listen to nothing. 

We also enjoyed a week in Yellowstone and Grand Teton as a family the week before Bryce. Such a wonderful trip!  It's been a good summer so far. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My first 100 - Bryce 100


Thanks Renee for the beautiful photo of the course
 Well, grab a bucket of popcorn, here it is - my Bryce 100 report, and it's a long one.  But it was a long day and I want to remember details.  But I also have a story to tell, it was really interesting the different stories that played out for me during the race.
The logistics side of the race -gear, nutrition, what I used is in a separate post below.

My husband Jeremy and 8 year old son and our friend Canice drove down Friday afternoon, ate dinner at a nice hour then were fortunate to share Canice's hotel room that evening after the camping area we were going to use was full.  Worked out great.  I got my drop bags ready later than I wanted but rushed them over.  It was dark at that point and funny to think that all that was left to do was go to bed.  I slept from 10:30-3am and was up to eat.  3am really didn't seem like a wise hour to get up at, but I like my 3 hours to digest and didn't want to jinx anything.  After I ate (in the large bathroom as to not wake the guys up) I sorted through the several outfits I brought till I found the right one - a Skirt Sports Marathon Chic skirt that feels like nothing and is a super cute print, a Smartwool bra, and a new Gore tank.  Also had Injinji trail socks and Altra gaiters on.  It was funny thinking 'what should I leave out to wear tonight...oh wait, I'll be running tonight...and tomorrow morning'.  I wrote out a little bit of info on  my pacing sheet I carried, mostly just what time I'd be to aid stations, significant climbs or descents and what I needed to grab from a particular bag.  After I was all ready there was time for a 20 minute nap before we took off, that was nice.  The start was no big deal, just a gathering of people and a ready go before I ever heard anything to suggest it.  Jer was anxious to get there and worried we'd be late.  I wasn't.  I was calm and just ready to start the day.
Love this guy
So glad to have these two on my team!  They would go on to have a great day seeing Bryce and fishing and eating out and of course driving around dirt roads for hours to be able to get to the trail and take care of mom, on Father's Day weekend.
If you recall my goals from my last post, they were to complete the 100 miles, survive the night, place top 3, and go under the course record of 25:15 if possible on this, a harder course this year.  They were not set in stone except the completing the 100 miles, but were things I'd like to see happen.
The whole point of the day was to run easy so I wouldn't feel destroyed by the end miles.  Be conservative, don't care about placing until at least 70 miles, stay on top of nutrition and just enjoy what is around me.  I really wanted to not push until at least 72 miles.  It was simply my job to keep my breathing quiet and maintain a nice easy trot.  It was going to be a long day, time to be smart.

Here is a good short 2 minute video of the course from friend Cory and this a little longer one but good because it names the aid stations like I will in this post.  So if you want more detail, or to understand more what I'm talking about, check them out.  The second is by good friend Craig Lloyd, both videos are from last year.
0-10 Canice and I ran together the first 10 miles chatting away.  Lots of switchbacks and winding trail.  I may have felt a little bit of the elevation in the first 10 miles as my breathing was a little heavier than I thought it should be for the easy pace.  We met a few other runners, one from Hong Kong, and one gal, Gia, who I knew was ranked first going in, she was from Oklahoma and had run a 100 before, but in Kansas and with 1500ft elevation.  This 18,000ft of elevation all above 8000ft was going to be a challenge for her I worried.  She was nice to talk to though.  Got into Thunder right on the 24 hour schedule my friend had written me and left quickly, and unfortunately without Canice after he had to make a stop
10-18 From Thunder to Proctor I ran with Cherri.  She is such a hard worker and full of smiles and positive energy.  It was good to pick her brain and I especially benefited from her saying that I would be fine without a pacer, that I could do it without one.  You see, very unfortunately, my pacer Mark texted me Friday morning before we left saying he couldn't come because he was sick.  Talk about a panic, heart sinking moment.  I appreciated her confidence in solo running, although I esteemed her as a much better 100 miler than myself.  Rolled into Proctor just a little early and took off again quickly, alone.  I wanted to keep my momentum moving as much as possible and was still keeping an easy effort.  Somewhere in here we heard a gal come up behind us and politely ask to pass.  What I saw was possibly the most fit woman and legs I had ever seen.  This woman was 49 years old and passing us like it was nothing.  Woah!  I let her go and didn't worry about it, it was a long day.  But when asked by other men, I reported she was probably a good hour ahead.
18-27 Proctor to Blubber is a LONG section!  I had counted 3 big uphills on the elevation profile in the bathroom that morning to use as landmarks to keep my mind engaged, but I'm pretty sure there were 4 big uphills, always followed by downhills. I remember mentioning that to Gia, that we couldn't possibly just go up, we had to go right back down most of the way before heading back up again.  I lost her shortly after that point when I was moving well power hiking up a steep climb.  I moved too quickly through Proctor and didn't fill my bladder because I figured I had enough.  Big mistake.  Long section.  I was ever so grateful to fill up at the 50k turnoff water table about 15 minutes after I ran out of water.  I encountered a guy a while later at the top of our second to last climb before the aid station that seemed tired and out of water.  He asked how far the aid station was and I pointed to the pink cliffs well above us and said that should be it.  He said something about it being only .5 mile then.  He was not very happy with me when he finally got up there as I was leaving.  It was more like 1.5 miles and had lots of climbing.  Sorry buddy, I pointed to the right place, never mentioned how far it was.  I rolled into Blubber a good 25 minutes behind schedule.
The first of my drop bags.  Looking kind of serious.  Moving in an our of aid stations quickly was good for me
But it's good to have friends to help you.  They were so good
Mile 27 and life is good!
27-35 I was so happy to be to Blubber aid station.  First of all a ton of my friends were there working and it was so nice to be known and visited with and spoiled with help.  They were so great!  Second, I was now on the part of the course I paced last year.  I like knowing a course and now things would look familiar to me.  I was really pleased with the next 45 miles and how much more quickly they passed than last year.  The other nice thing about Blubber is there's only one more long stretch between aid stations before the short gaps and it isn't the hardest section.  Funny moment - right after leaving Blubber I was on a quiet trail all alone.  Heard some good rustling in the woods and called out "Hey Bear!", something I do often to make my presence known to anything around me.  The wild is not inherently dangerous, there aren't animals there whose sole purpose is to kill us.  They just want their space and to not be surprised.  So I let them know I'm around. Anyway, turns out it was just another runner (Ryan L) checking out the view, I felt a little silly.
35-40 Kanab at mile 35 is a quaint little aid station with some really neat views after it.  Was still behind schedule going into Kanab after the long extra getting to Blubber, but I wasn't stressed at all by it.  I had cycled between 1st and 4th place from the beginning of the race till now but believe I moved into 2nd around mile 20 where I would stay for about that much more.  Was not at all stressed or concerned with my place at any time yet.  I met a really nice guy who excelled at the "take it easy, don't push" attitude I was after too.  So we ran together for a good 10 miles maybe.  Great conversation.  I love to hear people's stories, whether it's running related or not.  This section of the course was interesting for me because at one point before we got to the next aid station, it was nothing like I remember.  I had myself a little worried and a lot confused that we weren't on the right path, although we kept spotting markers.  Just funny that a section I remember so distinctly looked nothing like I recall.
40-45 We came into mile 40 Straight Canyon aid station only a few minutes late and moving well and happy.  I looked around for Jeremy and our boy and thought I saw them but turns out they weren't there.  Decided here that although it was warm out and I was drinking a fair amount, and I was still comfortable in the UltraSpire Spry I was using, I'd take it off and switch to my favorite waist belt the Ultraspire Quantum.  I also carried a 8oz soft flask so I could carry a total of 18oz which I was a little concerned wouldn't be enough, but with the aid stations now only 5 miles apart it was fine.  Nice to feel my shoulders free for a little bit.  Not completely essential though.  Anyway, we left the aid station and went the 1/2 mile down the dirt road to get onto our next trail and he happened to run into his crew driving up.  I let him stop and told him he'd catch up on the climb ahead (he was a really good power hiker, better than me).  His stop must have been longer than I thought because he didn't end up catching up.  I had just dropped onto the trail from the road and I saw our van flying up the road.  I tried to wave to them to get their attention but no success.  Oh well, wasn't emotional at all about it, got everything I needed done in the aid station (that's the beauty of drop bags, everything is there waiting, not with the crew.  Crew is just there to make it go a little faster by getting that stuff out and can provide emotional support).  I knew I'd see them in another 5 miles at the turn around.  The next few miles were through a pretty meadow and then up a long switchbacky dirt road and then a final short steep climb to the top of the plateau and into some amazing views next to the Pink Cliff aid station.  I was looking forward to the long road because it was a good chance to turn on my power hiking mode for a while and apparently I made some good progress because to my surprise, at the top of the shortest steepest climb was my lead woman.  Hmmm, interesting development.

45-50 Even though it wasn't time to push, I was hoping I could hustle out of the Pink Cliffs aid station before she did.  Nope, she followed.  And that was totally ok because we had some good conversation for a few miles.  I didn't want to run forever with her because the tension I felt (all from me, she was very very nice) was too much competition, I didn't want to deal with that, it would make me forget to race smart.   She is from California and has been doing this for a long time. She's very talented.  She mentioned not really being bothered by the altitude but being concerned that she'd gone out too fast and that she'd need to stop and walk and get her heart rate down.  I wished her well and told her I'd see her soon I was sure.  From there it's a long downhill to a rocky rolly single track in front of some pretty neat cliffs and then into the halfway turnaround point.  I kept it under control but went maybe a titch faster than I should have, not much though.  I was excited to see my boys, what can I say :)  During the last couple miles before halfway I was wondering when I'd start seeing the lead men come back, and right after that thought, good friend Zac came around a corner and greeted me startled and with a hug telling me his legs were cramping.  I was very proud of him for being first and it was nice to see him, but I let go quickly and said "she's right behind me, I've got to go!"  :)
50.5 miles.  10:33.  Halfway, the turnaround point.  It was fun running into there in 1st, mostly because I knew Jeremy would be excited by it.  I think most of the crowd thought I was finishing the 50 mile so it was funny to hear them go a little quiet when I left the finish area for the aid station there.  I got into this aid station 2 minutes early.  Excellent!  I had been wearing the unreleased Altra Lone Peak 2.0 the first 50 miles but unfortunately it was just a tad too short and I knew how much downhill there was just in the next hour and that my feet would likely swell, so knew I would change out into the new Altra Paradigm, a very light, max cushion road shoe with great traction.  I had it 1/2 size up too. It was perfect!  We almost forgot to change my shoes and I'm so glad we remembered last minute.  Had a funny way of remembering what needed to get done at that aid station since for me sometimes it's easy to rush out too quickly.  I went from head to toe - visor off, sunglasses on, new sunscreen (I'd already put it on twice that day), ice in bra, waters filled, new gels in my belt, iPod on, new shoes.  I was hoping to get out of the aid station before the now 2nd place lady behind me got in and I almost accomplished that.  So we were probably 3-4 minutes apart at that point.  Left happy and ready to go and not at all discouraged knowing I still had 50 miles to go.
Photos courtesy of Alex Santiago
Grabbed my stuff and ran!
50.5-55 Back to Pink Cliffs. I really like this and the next stretch of trail.  It's just easy to separate into smaller chunks and passes quickly and now I could see and say hi to lots of people heading toward me.  I saw so many friends and smiles, and hard working faces.  I recall seeing Cherri and Canice and Jim for sure here.  Powerhiked up the long dirt road to the aid station quickly but not crazy.  I really enjoy power hiking if you haven't noticed and feel like I can make up time there without expending too much energy so I do my best to do so.
55-60 I was feeling great and passed by the amazing view from Pink Cliffs and one of my favorite songs from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was on (I have a few soft, classical songs on there, most are typical iPod workout songs) and I totally cried.  It was just spiritual and such a lovely moment and experience.  I enjoyed the long switchbacky downhill dirt road after Pink Cliffs and ran it faster, but under control for sure.  Let gravity carry me.  The Paradigms felt so good!  Saw my new friend Jester Ed and was greeted so warm and excitedly by so many strangers with cheers of being first woman.  It was so sweet and I smiled for miles.  Enjoyed the meadow again and ran quickly and strongly back into Straight Canyon.
60-65 Expected to see my boys there again but they weren't there.  No worries, sweet friend Carol who I believe I called Crystal was right there grabbing and stuffing and doing anything I needed.  The boys showed up a minute later and apologized for not being there, but it was no big deal.  I was just happy to see them at all.  It was fun to put our boy to work filling my flask with soda to keep my stomach happy.  I decided to leave my tank and put on a mid weight long sleeve 1/4 zip wool top I love because it was in my drop bag and at this point it was 7:05pm or so (20 minutes early, making good time) and I figured it would cool off soon and I did not want to be cold.  I was wrong. I should have kept the tank and waited hours for another layer.  I spent the next almost 20 miles with it pulled up over my hydration pack so as to expose my stomach and try to stay cool.  My stomach was starting to be grumpy and I needed to be cool, not warm or muggy.  I left that mile 60 aid station moving great and feeling great and within a mile had passed several men and moved into 3rd place overall where I'd stay for another15 miles.  Pretty cool.  This section of trail didn't take too long but I started my feelings of loneliness as there were no more people to talk to, the sun was going down, and it was getting to be time I'd have to make noise to alert animals again, and without someone to talk to, it gets into your head and feels like work to holler out.
65-73  From pacing miles 50-73 last year I recall we had to turn our headlamps on shortly after Kanab at 65.  I remember it being totally dark at these switchbacks going up hill between Kanab and Blubber.  I wanted to make it to those switchbacks before turning my headlamp on.  The miles were still passing well, I had music on now mostly to keep my mind busy and off the active animal period of sunset, but also to give me things to holler out besides "hey bear".  So I'd sing along loudly a word, a line, a verse, whatever.  I'm sure I sounded crazy if you were to stumble upon me but it was what I needed.  I was starting to feel lonely.  My brain was starting to get bored.  Not good.  But then I got to those switchbacks I wanted and it was light enough still for no headlamp.  Gave me a big smile to make that goal.  I knew the next few landmarks before Blubber, they came, it was dark now, and I couldn't wait to see my friends.

73-82 The first thing I asked for upon seeing them was a hug.  Matt W gave me a great one.  The next thing I looked and prayed for was our friend Bob.  You see Zac told me if he was feeling good he would leave Bob for me as a pacer.  I had hoped and prayed he would be there - but he wasn't.  I cursed Zac for split second (taking his own pacer?  Geez.  Kidding), then figured he was hurting and then started begging someone there to come with me.  I was scared of such a long night alone with my bored mind.  I wasn't sleepy yet, but that bored mind worried me.  I knew they were busy and 2 minutes notice isn't a ton to give someone to run 28 miles, but I really hoped someone would come.  They took good care of me filling my bladder, assembling my other headlamp, stuffing gels, they made my stop so easy.  Once I realized no one would come with me I hurried out of there.  It was such a poignant moment to me, heading down alone into the dark valley below, just beginning my night.  It was only 10:00pm.  I knew I'd be running till 6am.  It was a very lonely, scary, dark, yet determined feeling.  I knew I wanted to complete 100 miles, quitting wasn't an option at all, so I just had to keep on trucking.  I picked up a good lightweight yet poky bear stick (poles would have been nice on this section) and I tried to stay positive.  I played the "hey bear" game but with the alphabet.  "Hey aardvark, hey bison, hey chinchilla...".  I talked to myself, did math out loud about how many climbs, what time I'd get to where, anything to keep my mind engaged.  I had a few spooky moments with thinking I heard something, but it was usually just me rustling the jacket around my waist.  I made it through the first valley and down into the next, it was maybe an hour or two after I'd left the aid station and things weren't good.  I was nervous, uncomfortable, my headlamp was blinking low battery.  I wondered how long it would take for me to see any other headlamps or have someone catch up, I mean I wasn't moving quite as fast anymore.  Around midnight I had stopped to switch headlamps and heard someone behind me.  I was so relieved.  I asked if I could please stick with him.  He said yes and off we went.  I was very grateful for someone to talk to, to not have to worry about altering animals because they'd hear two of us, grateful to have someone's feet to follow instead of having to look ahead to spot reflective flagging myself.  He wasn't particularly talkative or sensitive (telling me everyone was suffering with what I was when I'd complain which i understand, but that doesn't make me feel any better or solve anything) and his pace was hard to keep up with at points, he was racing, not pacing me, but I was grateful to have someone.  We probably spent 8 miles together.
82-90 The dark is hard because you can't see what's around you.  The trail doesn't feel familiar like it does in the light.  I thought I knew where we were several times and was wrong.  It was taking so long to get into Proctor and I was frustrated.  FINALLY it was there.  I was due to be there at 1:15am and it was only 12:30.  Well that's awesome that I was ahead of schedule still!  BUT it meant there was that much more darkness and night to go.  It was ONLY 12:30am, not even 1am.  So mentally challenging for me.  Jeremy was there however, that was a very nice surprise.  I went right into his arms crying a little saying that this was not fun at all, that I didn't want to keep going through the night, that this was so hard.  Not my body, it was fine, stomach, still intact, I wasn't even super sleepy yet, but I was so overwhelmed by the night.  By the fact that it was dark and quiet and long and that I probably would get sleepy.  I so didn't want to keep going but of course I did.  I wasn't going to DNF and that, my pride, was what made it so difficult.  I knew I wouldn't quit today even if I wanted to.  Jer was sensitive, but firm.  It's all he could do.  He got a new brighter headlamp ready for me, handed me a cup of potatoes and ham and I left a little mad.  The only way to end this was again, to keep on trucking and get to the finish.
The guy and I didn't run much together anymore.  Another man had caught up to us, putting me now in 5th overall with the men, and I could tell he wanted to move faster and I wasn't as afraid or nervous anymore so I told him to go on.  I was starting to get sleepy and my stomach was starting to argue with me, not wanting gel anymore, or anything really so with 18 miles to go I resolved to walk the rest of the race.  I was going to finish the 100 miles, that was the first goal, and if it meant slowing down and walking the rest of the race I'd do it. In my mind as long as I kept moving I would stay awake and walking didn't bother my stomach.  Sometimes I was able to walk fast, sometimes with anger at this whole thing.  I was tired, stomach bothered, bored and not having a good time.  And again the dark hours in front of me felt so long. I didn't get the point of what I was doing.  I probably walked faster than I think I did during this section.  The terrain here involves winding trail that fingers in and out, up and down little canyons if you will.  There's no seeing much in front of you and that is SO hard when you're desperately looking for an aid station.  I didn't need anything from the aid station, no water, no fuel, that was all on me, I just needed the landmark, needed to know I was that much closer.  This was the last aid station before the finish.  I needed to see this aid station.  It was so hard to see the two guys headlamps in front of me still moving, to not see them stop, to not see an aid station.  It's not like I was behind what time I was supposed to get there, but it was just taking forever.  I just kept moving.
The ever present, long, dark
90 Finally I made it to Thunder.  The last aid station.  I was in at 20:50, 25 minutes ahead of 24 hour schedule for this aid station.  My stomach now was not allowing any gels in.  I knew this wasn't good.  I knew this last section would take me more than 3 hours.  I had to put something in it, especially water.  I could not get dehydrated.  I figured my stomach had had too many gels that day so I asked the aid station for a plain rolled tortilla and one with peanut butter.  Was trying to keep food basic, easy to process and yet with calories but without sugar.  Turns out I took a few bites and almost threw them up.  Nothing was going in except for the 100 calories of EFS I mixed into my 8oz flask.  I figured 100 calories with electrolytes was better than nothing over 3 hours so I'd sip on that cautiously.
I was very tired walking into that aid station and knew as it was still not even 3am (still not even meaning it was not close to sunrise, when I thought I might find hope again and wake up).  I knew a 20 minute nap could potentially really help me.  But what I didn't know was how far back the other women were.  Turns out they were about an hour back, but I had no way to know that and only assumed they were right on my tail.  I was leading the race at mile 90, was under course record time and really wanted that course record, mainly because it had been so much work already that day, I didn't want to have to start it all over to try for a different course record.  If it was still in my reach I had to keep trying for it.  My pride ruled me.  I regretted not sleeping at that aid station the second I walked away from it.
90-93 So very tired.  I would sit down once in a while on a rock or log out of sleepy exhaustion, my legs were still fine.  I'd put my head down or against a tree for a few seconds wanting to sleep but knowing that it wasn't smart there.  There were animals around.  I'd stand up and I was dizzy.  Running was completely out of the question and now I was stumbling around.  Couldn't walk straight, felt disconnected from control.  The 7 miles to go felt like an utter eternity the way I was moving.  We were on a section of trail that is very narrow and should I walk off either side of it I could slide down a long ways.  Not like I'd walk off a cliff, but dangerous none the less.  This wasn't good.
93-94 Sat down on the ground again and put my head on my knees.  This was so hard.  This was dangerous.  I couldn't lay down and sleep there because there was no where flat and safe to lie down should I move around at all.  I heard someone coming toward me and looked up when he was close.  I asked if I could hold onto his arm.  I didn't feel safe stumbling like I was and I needed help.  He and his friend asked if they should go get help and I said no.  A) as much as I wanted to quit, I wasn't going to quit at mile 93, B)I would be mortified at SAR coming for me, and C)I just needed help off this scary section so I could find a place to lay down.  I was so grateful for their care and compassion.  They slowed way down for me and really cared for me.  He gave me a caffeine pill, all of 25mg.  That put me up to probably 300mg in 3 hours between a pill, gels, soda and a 5hour energy.  I even waited to start any caffeine until 55 miles at friend Amy B's advice.  Caffeine just doesn't touch me.
94-96 This felt like a safer part of the trail and I told them I felt a little better after the pill, which was a lie, but it was a safer part of the trail and I wanted to let them go finish their race strong.  They said they'd let my husband know and I agreed that was a good idea.  So I carried on alone again still doing badly.

It was here that I got mad at myself for leading the race to mile ninety freaking five, and now I was going to get passed by many women and come in 20th or so.  I couldn't believe they hadn't passed me yet and knew it was just a matter of time at my effort and their experience.  It wasn't that I had to win, that I had to beat anyone.  Not at all, it was just that I had done so well all day and was so close to a win and course record.  I was so sad I was letting this happen even though I didn't really have much control over it.  I also truly mourned the fact that I would never do another mountain 100.  I couldn't.  The way I handle sleep deprivation was traumatic and dangerous.  I would never get to do Wasatch, I would stick to 100ks and under.  100k is a great distance, 100 milers aren't everything.  That would have to be my plan.  I truly mourned this being my only 100 experience.  

I begged my watch to pass faster, pleaded with the sun to try to come out.  I could finally see slight illumination behind the clouds now, not a sunrise, but something.  I looked down at my watch to see where the 30 minute repeating nutrition timer I have going off was at.  There was about 8 minutes left before it would go off again.  I figured I had no choice now but to sleep as I had no idea how much longer I'd be out (I don't use GPS so don't know exact mileage).  I was going to lay down on the dirt a few feet off the trail with my head close to my hand and sleep.  I hoped nothing would bother me, hoped I wouldn't get too cold, hoped I'd wake up to my watch and not 4 hours later, and hoped the extra light in 8 minutes would make a difference and help reset my body clock.  I laid down, felt my heart rate much too high for my effort level, worried some at that and the swelling in my left hand and was out like a light asleep.  And just like that, woke up promptly to my watch 7 minutes later.
I figured I'd been passed now but had no idea.  Looked at the winding trail ahead of me and behind me and didn't see anyone, but there were sections I couldn't see.  I was still dizzy but figured if I couldn't see anyone ahead of me I had to try my best.  I would run the downhills and walk as fast as I could on the ups and when I got to the end of the trail where there's 2 miles of dirt road to the finish Jeremy would be there in the car waiting.  I would ask him how long ago she'd passed, climb in the car and lay down for 30 minutes, then walk the 2 miles into the finish and still complete the ultimate goal of running 100 miles.
Crested one of the many hills in front of me and saw the road.  It ignited me a little.  I hurried my best to it a little surprised he wasn't there.  Ran down the road for a minute fairly fast but not too fast.  Did almost the best I could.  A car was racing up the road toward me and it was Jer and the race director.  He got out and I asked how long ago she'd passed.

He said she hadn't.  I was still in the lead.

How was that even possible?!  I took off crying and wheezing.  The wheezing was from an hour ago when my lungs tightened up, the crying was not out of joy.  It was out of fear.  I was absolutely sure she would pop out on the road and chase me down and this course record that was now so important to me because it took 24 hard hours to earn, would slip out from under me.  I looked back a dozen times.  Jeremy was running the 1.5 miles in with me trying to keep up with me.  I imagine we were running 7 minute mile pace.  My legs didn't hurt.  My head was dizzy, lungs tight and mind still so tired, but I was giving it all I possibly could.  He reminded me to look forward, not back, that he would watch.  I probably asked him to look for her another dozen times.  When we were within 1/4 mile of the finish, finally, I believed I would do it, I'd win.  I had envisioned during my first 65 miles that whatever place I finished I'd cross the finish line with my hands in the air, the biggest smile on my face, maybe tears, and I would kiss the ground.  At this moment all I could manage was to look like death with probably the ugliest face ever, to look miserable and touch the table and be done.  I regret not showing more happiness, but that last mile was probably the hardest thing I've ever done athletically.  It is what it is.  Jeremy so proud of me sat me down on a log nearby.  So good to sit and be done.  I wish I'd been more excited but instead, in an empty parking lot at 6:15am I just shared with Jeremy and race director Matt Gunn how hard my night was.  That there was nothing fun about the last 30 miles, nothing.  That was the most fresh thing in my mind.
It's really over.  That was really hard
About 30 minutes post race
But holy cow!  I ran a smart race, I was conservative, I was happy, the first 65 miles passed easily and were fun and beautiful.  I got through the night without a pacer.  I did it.  I held on to win and to hold a course record, something I have never done.  But more than a win and course record that I am so excited and happy for, I finished 100 miles, and even in the time range I wanted, 24:16.  Even though I've dwelt on the hard and the negative of that weekend so far and will need time to process it, holy cow.  I did everything I wanted to do and on my first 100.  That's pretty cool!  I did it.




Zac, Zac's pacer Bob and I with the African pottery drum we each got for winning.
Very proud of Zac for hanging on to dominantly win the mens race.  An Altra sweep!

Bryce details

I wore Injinji trail socks the whole race,
a fantastic Skirt Sports Marathon Chick skirt that was so soft I didn't ever feel it.  Zero chaffing or rubbing from it all day and night.   Love the no center seam on the liner.
Wore a Smartwool seamless bra and
Gore Magnitude singlet.  First time wearing it which isn't always smart, but it was soft and comfortable.
Shoe wise I will never trade a foot shaped toe box.  I wore the Altra Lone Peak 2.0 that releases this summer.  Just a great shoe.  Regular cushion, good fit, great traction.  Slightly more cushion (like 2mm more) and nice aggressive lugs.  Had it not been just a little too short for me I would have run the whole race in it.  Very nice!  Went great with the Altra gaiters I used too.  My feet were definitely cleaner for the 50 miles I had the Lone Peaks on.  The second half of a the race I wore the new Altra Paradigm, a light weight, max cushion road shoe with good traction.  I had it half a size up because I wanted room for swelling and it was divine, perfect to have that extra room.  While not a trail specific shoe, I never slipped, rolled or anything, I was very happy with it.  The extra cushion really did feel heavenly as I headed down that 3 mile long downhill after Pink Cliffs and over the rest of the course.  My feet never hurt during the race!  That is BIG for me.  They have always ached badly after both my 100ks.

I wore an Ultraspire Spry pack for most of the race.  Holds 30oz of water and surprisingly more in the small elastic back bladder pouch than I expected.  Plenty of room up front.  A simple lighter vest that got me through several hour gaps just fine.  It is one size and was a little wide on my shoulders so I took a small zip tie, and secured it around the top center back fabric I bunched together.  Problem solved.
Used my Ultraspire Quantum belt for 20 miles, also no complaints.  Holds enough water for me to go 90 minutes and that front zip pocket really can hold a lot.  The whole thing doesn't bounce though, that's what I love.
At Proctor at mile 82 when I knew I'd be slowing down and taking longer I changed into my Nathan Vaporshape vest.  I've always found this vest comfortable and it's my go to longer run vest.

Nutrition wise I used Vfuel gels every 30 minutes until mile 50 with the exception of a sample size Larabar or something similar a few times instead just to break it up.  Love Vfuel and the fact that it was on the course!  I had most of it in drop bags ready to resupply my pack with but would grab one at every aid station too.  Never worried about what flavor I grabbed, they're all good and they all go down well.  After mile 50 I sprinkled in a few higher caffeinated Gu's, peach fruit cup, few handfuls of boiled potatoes, watermelon, and my fair share of soda for my stomach.  While my stomach got mad at the end, I think it hung in there a long time (75 miles) without complaint.
I dosed both of the bladders I'd be carrying before we started then carried a pocket flask of Elete with me and used that to add electrolytes to my water (I do 1 capful/20oz of water on average).  I still consumed a few Gu salts here and there, but it was nice knowing that most of what I needed was in my water, especially those last 3 hours when I couldn't take anything in but water.  I really like Elete.  Easy to take in, works for me, and is a mental edge knowing I'm always feeding my body what it wants.  I have always used it in the 3 days leading up to a race, in everything I drink, but I liked using it during too and will continue to do so.

What I did well:
Ran smart. Didn't get caught up in competition at all even when those around me brought up what place I was in or told me to go catch someone.  Didn't get into that until really mile 90 at its peak.
Ran easy.  I kept the idea of an easy trot in my head all day.  It worked, my legs were never fried.
Survived without aching feet!  Was really worried about this, I attribute a lot to the Paradigm I wore
Always kept moving.  I recall being worried about being sucked into aid stations, especially at night before I started this race.  Wasn't a problem, I did what I needed to do but was in and out fast.  And then even when I resorted to walking at the end, other than my few stops to sit down at my lowest point, I was always walking, moving forward, often walking fast.
Stayed on top of nutrition and hydration.  Cannot slack here.  Watch went off every 30 minutes and I obeyed.  I drank at least every 30 but typically more, on demand.
Thought of landmarks, the next thing to come, that's good for me.
Waited till halfway to turn my music on.  Could have waited longer
Brought a couple brush ups disposable tooth brushes.  After so many gels my mouth started feeling gross.  It was surprisingly refreshing to use those.
Carried my split sheet.  Works for me where GPS doesn't (I hate looking down and being reminded I've only been .4 miles) and I liked having a very simple sentence about each section on there (3 big climbs up, big descent before AS, etc).  Also was good to list any specific instructions for an aid station.  It was on a 3x5 piece of paper in a zip lock bag I could just roll and tuck away.
Didn't carry my phone or camera.  For me, it's too much distraction.  If I was there simply to enjoy the course being able to take pictures is nice.

What I could improve:
Don't change packs.  Didn't really need to since I was comfortable.  Not the biggest deal though.
Stay cool at night.  Carry arms warmers maybe near sunset, but don't pull out the big guns long sleeve and jacket until at least midnight.  Was warmer than I thought I would be and it was uncomfortable being too warm in my clothes.
For me it seems I must have a pacer and be willing to sleep at an aid station if I want a less miserable night experience.  I am very proud to have done it alone and survived, but I imagine it could definitely be more enjoyable with someone to help me and 20 minutes of sleep at an aid station where I can stay warm, safe, and be woken up.
On a similar note, I bet hanging out at aid stations for even a minute or two longer than I did, taking them more casually is enjoyable.  Maybe not as fast, but enjoying the race as an experience vs just a race is something for me to evaluate.  The pressure of performing from myself gets to me though.  I'm sure there is a balance.  I always thanked the volunteers, but there were times it looked like would have been nice to sit down and hang out and eat.
I will need to figure that last 25 stomach thing out.  Wouldn't mind taking in more real food during the race as sit went down fine at the Zion Traverse I did last month.  Maybe solid food first 50 would allow gels in second 50?
Could have used trekking poles after Blubber.  Not that it was super technical but they could have helped on the ups, could have kept me moving smoother maybe, and worst case scenario are protection :)
Smile at the finish no matter what!  For goodness sakes at least it's over and you can sit down :)  Drives me nuts when I don't do this because the whole reason I'm out there is the experience as a whole is fun.  Smile!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thoughts before my first 100 miler!

Maybe it's having been an endurance athlete for a while, maybe it's having 4 kids and being back for 4 days from an awesome week of camping in Yellowstone and Tetons, but I'm pretty down to earth and mellow about this.  I would like a little more excitement from me about it, more of that pre race energy in the air, but like I said, there is a lot going on at home, so maybe once I get down there tomorrow it will be there.  I am looking forward to it and am excited though.
The Bryce 100 on Saturday will be the farthest race I have ever run, and the 3rd longest race mileage wise I've ever done (but the others were on a bike and swimming too).  I feel pretty ready, training went well.  There's always room for more, but I feel good about things.  My biggest concern is staying awake during the wee hours of 1-4:30am but I acquired an excellent night man and now pacer Mark Kreuzer to accompany me during those hours.  The first 73 or so are all me and I like that, but I know the help during those dark hours will be really great.
My nutrition plan is good and I plan to stick to gels -Vfuel mainly- as much as I can tolerate it (which has been up to 65 miles so far, the longest I've run) and then eat whatever looks good at aid stations.  I imagine Ramen will be frequent, and maybe grilled cheese or burritos if they are warm and fresh.  And watermelon, I like watermelon.
Time wise I would like to finish around 24 hours, give or take 2 hours.  Of course I'll be happy just to finish, but I feel good about it and I like time goals.  The current course record is 25:15 or something like that and I'd like to go under that.  I'd also like to be top 3.  And mostly I'd like to feel as well as I can during it, stay awake, and just see what a new distance will throw at me, what it will be like.
You can track me here if you like, I'm bib 75.  I'd like to come into halfway about 10-10.5 hours.





     
                     Here we go!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Triathlon excitement

I was asked to share this video about Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno teaming up with Chocolate Milk to train to compete in the Kona Ironman.  I watched him train at the Olympic Oval for several years while running on the track around it.  I respect and value the qualifying for this world championship special event, and the small random lottery they offer and hope to qualify someday.  Hopefully anyone that gets in feels the privilege that it is.
While I don't consider chocolate milk as true sports nutrition, I do agree with Apolo that it tastes good, is easily accessible, and has a reasonable carb/protein ratio.  While I wouldn't use it during activity (stomach could be really upset with milk), if I had access to nothing else, chocolate milk for after a workout would be a good option.  It is really important to put good calories back into your body after a strenuous workout within 20 minutes of being done.
This series looks interesting and got my triathlon juices flowing a bit.  I assume he will do fine because as an athlete he knows how to work and is fit, but it will be interesting to see just how he does with each of the three disciples and the multi hour endurance vs short track fast twitch speed.  He has some amazing coaches and training partners lined up, that's for sure.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Don't stop surprising yourself - Timp Trail Marathon

I'll go into the race report from Timp Trail, but want to address something more important that's been on my mind since the race yesterday.  Despite how well I did, I had a really good time and feeling coming away from the race because I surprised myself.  I had a good goal in mind and wouldn't have been crushed had it not happened, but when it did and in a big way, I was just so surprised and excited!  I didn't care what place I was, I was on a high from being surprised by what I did - for me.
Whether someone enjoys athletics or any other hobby or activity -crafts, organizing, cooking, reading, an instrument, anything - it's good for the soul to reach achievements sometimes, whatever that achievement is.  I thought of reading first when trying to figure out how to make my feelings relatable to someone who doesn't enjoy what I do.  Maybe you have a goal of how many books you want to read a year, or how long you want it to take.  It will be a good feeling just to read, to enjoy that book, but it's even more exciting when maybe you read more than you expected.  Maybe as a cook you try a new recipe and it turns out so great, better than you were hoping - that's exciting!  I hope that makes sense.  I just think it's important we never stop setting goals and surprising ourselves.  
The other thing before the race report I wanted to mention was how important I think it is that we support each other in whatever it is we do, and not feel less because of the good things they do.  So often we compare ourselves to others and figure that we're only good if we're as good or better than someone else at something.  That we're not good at something if someone else is better.  It isn't true and is a great way to be depressed and always reaching for happiness rather than enjoying life along the way.
I heard a quote that I loved-
Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.


 I've heard the "I hate you" line for being thin after my kids.  I know they're kidding, but it's hurtful still.  I don't think myself any better than someone bigger or smaller than me.  I don't hate those than have more than my 1/2 an A cup now after carrying and nursing 4 babies.  I used to post more to a FB running group of moms, but felt like the level of my achievements garnered too many comments that made me feel like I was above their level as a person and therefore not relatable.  Like I didn't need support and encouragement too.  Or maybe someone thinks what I do is easy because I go faster and that they "could never do that".  It really hurts me and is the completely opposite of what I would want when someone is saddened or discouraged by what I do.  I do it for me, I've been doing it a long time, work hard, and am grateful for it, but it doesn't make me better!  I happily cheer anyone on in what ever makes them happy no matter their achievement level, and I don't feel bad if it's better than me.  Well ok, maybe when I see someone's always impeccably clean home, because mine definitely isn't :) It's something I struggle to do well, or at all sometimes, but I wouldn't tell them that their success in keeping such a lovely home isn't great and that it makes me feel bad or belittles my home.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses and don't need to match each other, we need to be happy for and cheer each other on!  I'm not perfect at it, but I believe strongly in the principle.  Everyone deserves to be happy!
Maybe premature in the post to show a picture with 1 mile to go, but I was just talking about being happy,
and happy I was here!  Thank you Lori Murray Burlison for the photo!
 Ok, onto Timp Trail.  I have done the half marathon several times and the marathon once, last year.  I remember it being HARD!  Lots of climbing, descending, technical, mud, rain, but beautiful.  Why not sign up to do it again?  :)  I had the opportunity to race, get some more good quality miles before Bryce 100 in 3 weeks, and truth be told, I do actually like the race, the trails it's on, it's views, and the people that put it on and attend.  Woke up a little late and stressed over eating closer to a race than I usually do especially since my stomach hasn't been quite happy this week.  I ran out the door to discover it had been and was raining and kind of laughed.  I have never done this race without rain.  Classic.  Made my decision to stick with the Altra Lone Peak 2.0, a good choice.   Got to the race just in time to grab my bib, a bathroom stop and load my Ultraspire Quantum belt up with Vfuel gel and filled my 8oz soft flask to hold in my hand (easy to hold and collapses tiny and can be stuffed in my pack or bra till the next aid station).  Walked up to the group with about 1 minute to start but was ready.  I wanted to run a good race, more than training pace, but not all out as I didn't want any injuries or nagging issues leading into Bryce.  My goal was to PR, go faster than the 5:18 I did the year before.
I listened to my breathing and tried to keep it quiet.  I did push it a bit more than that in places but overall did well.  Around 1/4 of the race is on hilly foothill trails and I wanted to run more of them.  Not because it would be fun, because truthfully I'm not in quite as good of hill running shape as I'd like as I am quick to get into a good power hike, but looking back at a race like Sonoma, I would need to be able to run more of the smaller hills to finish faster.  So I pushed these hills when my legs were a little grumpy about it mostly because it wasn't a 50 mile or longer race, I could keep enough energy for a 5 hours race not power hiking as much.  The race started out misty and I was hopeful for good weather; a long stretch of dirt road we run turns in to a giant mud slog when it's saturated.  It did rain on us for a couple hours but never too hard and the winds were light.  Great running weather!  Anyway, we got to mile 12 or so and it was time to get off the foothills and head straight up this beastly little climb called the Green Monster I believe.  Truly a straight up the mountain 'trail' I'm pretty sure was carved in only for this race....or a widow maker dirt bike hill climb ;)  Got into good power hike mode and it actually wasn't as bad as I remember last year.  Mental note - I hit the top about 2:30 because I recall taking a gel and thinking this was halfway through the course.  Figured I was on track to run about 5 hours, good to go.  We headed toward Grove Creek which I knew was another long climb that I planned to power hike.  I did run a little which was nice, felt good.  Toward the very top before the Indian Springs aid station the running was much less and was harder.  That's a lot of climbing!  Love the meadow up there heading toward Battle Creek and was able to open up the legs and turn on the speed for a bit while it rained steadily.  The downhill in Battle Creek was probably my weakest point on the course.  It was longer than I thought and was wet, steep, rocky and rutty and when one isn't a crazy downhiller lightly bounding off everything around you, you'll slip in the mud a little.  Had a few heart rate jumping slips and a few 'ankle stretches'  but thankfully didn't go down.  Crossed the river and headed uphill again toward Dry Creek.  This was a the very slippery wet section I remember from last year, clinging onto anything I could to get up.  It wasn't as bad this year, but defiantly wet, slick, and work to ascend.  I can't imagine how much worse it was for those behind me.  Once we finally got to the top it had stopped raining and the trails were tacky and generally downhill and it was fun to run!  I did run into a very strong stomach cramp of some kind that halted me still for a minute but I was able to continue on soon.  I could hear the cheering of the next and last aid station at Dry Canyon far before I could see it, just like last year, they are great!

Up till this point I really had no idea how I was doing time wise, all I was watching was for the :30 and :00's to take calories and electrolytes in.  While I usually write out a plan of when to expect being at aid stations, I didn't for this race, I didn't want to take it too seriously and was too lazy to figure out paces for all the up and down on this course.  I knew this last aid station was about mile 21, so I calculated 5 more miles at 12 minute mile pace since there was still uphill to go before the last 3-4 that are all downhill or flat.  I was at 3:40 so figured excitedly I could run a 4:45.  That would be a 30 minute PR!  I had hoped to maybe go sub 5, but not that low!  I pushed the uphills and downhills strong but felt good.  I wasn't putting out 100%, probably 90%.  I was however staying right on top of nutrition, hydration, and electrolytes, I think that's so important.  I was really working now to run the downhills fast, mostly to build skill there.  I navigated around people pretty well trying to be polite and encouraging.  The flat 3/4 of a mile or so we run before the last descent went better and faster than last year, and thankfully that road had not turned into a slop fest.  Kept the legs open and moving and the feet up so I didn't trip and it was finally that last turn to get off trail and onto the 1/2 mile of dirt road to the finish.  Don't believe I looked at my watch again until that dirt road and I couldn't believe it.  SO much faster than I expected.  I flew down the road to the finish and jumped across it feeling great in a 4:22!!  What the what??  I get that the conditions were better this year although not perfect, and I did struggle last year, but I had a reasonable race. That time was just beyond anything I considered.  I almost had to go over the course in my head and make sure I did it all.  I did, don't worry. :) Despite running alone for much of the race, I know these trails and the flagging was great, and I definitely did every last fun bit of this course :)
Not only was this almost an hour faster than last year, but under course record time!  I don't think I've ever run under a course record time!  The sweet and incredibly talented and strong Britta Trepp who finished 8 minutes in front of me bested her own previous course record, but I was honored to have gone under the old one with her.

I was very happy with how my body felt immediately after finishing.  Not pukey, not crazy sore or tight, lungs weren't tight.  Grateful that the upset stomach I've had all week didn't come back to bite me during the race either.  Man I'm excited and happy for how I raced and I can't wait to see how Bryce pans out.  This marathon-50k distance is fun.  You run faster through the trails and woods which can make you feel like a little kid frolicking around, and there's not enough time for the longer races low points and big bonks and exhaustion.  So while this doesn't necessarily equal a great 100 mile performance, it was a good confidence booster.  I'm looking forward to a couple more weeks of training in which I hope to get a few overnight runs in.  I want to get a few massages, keep up on the vitamins and good nutrition, foam rolling, lots of committed core work (I've been slacking big time and this abdominal separation of mine is kicking my butt physically and mentally) and even a family camping trip to Yellowstone to encourage a good taper.  Bring on Bryce!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ironman thoughts and reflections

I completed a full Ironman 4 years ago today.  Hard to believe it's been that long.  I'd consider it my entrance into real longer endurance.  I had only raced 5 hours up till that point, so to ponder 12 was a lot more. 
It was an incredible training journey.  My friend Charity wrote me a training program and I was diligent with it, probably the most diligent I've been to any program.  I'm really proud of it.  I was so fit and prepared. I think back on it now and marvel at how dedicated I was and hope I could do that much again swimming and biking again when I do another Ironman sometime.  I ran into a calf injury 3 weeks before race day and was really worried about it, but I put a lot of work into healing it and amazingly I was able to run the whole challenging run course and really in a time I would have expected pre injury.  I completed the original Ironman St George, a course that was hard and I loved it for that.  It was such a big experience for me, my whole family was there. I felt so accomplished and like it was a really big deal.  I wish I'd been able to do it one more time before it went down to a 70.3. 
I haven't been able to do another Ironman since IMSG 2010 mainly due to their cost. Yes I wanted to venture into ultra running, but after Ironman St George in 2010, throughout that year and in 2011 before I got and stayed pregnant I was really motivated to do another.  WTC races cost almost $700 and there are cheaper races out there about half that cost through Rev3 and HITS, but even $100 was a stretch as we were starting Altra around 2010.  And let me tell you, starting a company is a great way to not make money.  The next several years were probably the hardest in our whole married life.  They were so hard. We're still recovering. There was in no way an extra $300 plus travel for me to go have fun for 12 hours.  And that's ok. I did race a fair amount in those years, but it was mainly races I volunteered with and got an entry to or races we sponsored and we worked the expos of (Ironman doesn't work that way).  I am very grateful for all the opportunities I've had to race and realize what a privilege it's been. 
So now that we're at least in a position to save up for it, doing another Ironman in the next 2 years is on my mind.  Every time I see friends do it and report back, and especially every time I go back down to St George and watch, I'm sucked in.  I'm not worried about the running, can fake the swim if need be since I came from a swimming background and it's such a short part of the race anyway, but I would need to focus a lot on the bike to do as well as I'd like. So we'll see what life's like the next few years and if another 140.6 will be possible. For now I'm thankful for my healthy body, the running I'm enjoying and the occasional swim and trainer ride I get in. But triathlon is calling me back ever so quietly 

My 2010 IMSG post and a reflection 1 year later

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Some post Sonoma thoughts and what's next

  • Recovery has been tough.  It took me till Thursday to walk without any limp.  Friday I could go down stairs with no gait change for my sore left calf.  But Saturday's 5 or 6 mile road run, my first run since the race, did not feel good.  Left calf hurt basically the whole time, quads felt strained the last few miles, just not a great run.  Into the next week Monday didn't feel much better.  Hiking up was ok, but the run down was not.  Tuesday somehow though I didn't feel my calf at all really, but right hamstring was tight most of the way, too tight.  Had a massage Wednesday that helped and Thursday I ran 5 mile on the treadmill between classes at the pool and nothing hurt, but that hamstring still felt a little tight.  It's coming along, but definitely slower than other races.  I attribute it to the constant rolling nature of the course, me consciously pushing through a calf that hurt during the race, the fast pace I held for most of the 50 miles, definitely a faster pace than in my 100k's last year since this course was more runnable than they were, yet still hilly so even more I asked from my body.  Add some heat exhaustion (the gal that finished 10th mentioned in her post how bad I looked at mile 45, very pale and suffering) and probable dehydration and I just simply asked a lot of my body.  I said I wanted to leave it all out there and be willing to have to recover for a while and have and am apparently accomplishing both.  This week I will get back to more regular training
  • I am very happy with my 8th place finish.  Granted there were a fair amount of ladies that didn't show up for the race that were ranked ahead of me going in, I really wanted to see how I'd do against Rory Bosio for one, but I moved up places still and finished in front of ladies ranked ahead of me.  No one passed me after mile 13, and the ladies that did before that I passed.  I am overall happy with how I handled the race.
  • I've been asked how to have a good, fast 50 mile race since Sonoma.  I don't think there's any magic answer.  Train well, rest well, eat well, sleep well, think well.  Race smart.  Be conservative the first half and don't get caught up in other people's races.  Be happy out there and believe in yourself.  Stay on top of nutrition and hydration and electrolytes. Set a watch timer if needed.  Keep it simple - supplies, stops, race planning.  Believe you can do what you want.   

So what's next?  Well today is my 3rd child Kaitlyn's 6th birthday to start!  She's such a cute blonde, blue eyed beauty and is the child running beside me in my blog header pic.  I live for my children and husband and these 2 weeks 'off' have been good to focus more on them and my home.

I am getting itchy for a triathlon, it's true.  I feel like my running that I want to do this year, and I do want to focus on it, are kind of blocking out any time to race a tri.  I don't even have to be well trained for it, I just want to fit a couple in if possible.

I mentioned a couple weeks/months ago I believe, a big change coming for me soon.  It is not a baby, it is nursing school.  I have been on a waiting list for 3 or so years and figured I'd see what life was like when it got here.  Well, it got here and is really in my hands for the taking.  If I don't say yes to it I'll have to apply to another program which means re-taking prereq classes to up my GPA and working more in the field for work experience to be chosen to attend a program.  There are no more waiting lists in my state.  Nursing in my blood, my mom has been a RN and Nurse Practitioner for 30 years and my sister an RN for almost 10 so I find it interesting, but I have never had a passion to be a nurse, never aspired to it as others have.  I LOVE being at home with my kids and do not lack any sense of fulfillment being at home with them.  Some women may and that's ok, but I am perfectly happy here.  I have however always felt an inspiration to be prepared to support my family should the need ever arise.  And so after much prayer and talk with my husband and others, I am going for it.  4 semesters, summer off and an associates RN degree.  I start the end of August.  My mom thinks I won't be able to train and compete like I do now which is somewhat true, but I'll still need and use it for stress relief.

And finally, the next big races on my agenda.  Timp Trail Marathon on May 24th, a race I did last year that beat me down a bit.  Muddy rainy conditions like the last few years I've done the half (you'd think I'd learn by now), but I know I could have done better regardless.  I will race it but not 100%....because....I'm doing my first 100 mile race, the Bryce 100 June 14th.  I'm ready to get this body 100% healthy again, get some more training in, and get down to this race!  I waited till this year to do my first 100 to be sure I was healthy and prepared.  7 weeks!  Counting down the days now!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50!

Long post here, lots of details, pics, and thoughts.  The actual race report starts halfway down. 
My kids had spring break the week of Sonoma but weren't coming out with my husband and I, so my mom guilt had me pack a whole bunch of fun into the two days before we left including a trip to the zoo.
Love these monkeys
Dropped the youngest three off with Grandma and headed to the airport with our oldest child who saved the money to buy a plane ticket to fly alone to Michigan to see my twin sister and husband and their 5 month old baby.  She saved for a year and I'm really proud of her!  I have been excited for her for weeks and not nervous at all, but man did I cry when she boarded the plane! We stuck around her gate until I couldn't see the plane any longer then headed to our own gate.  Uneventful flight to San Francisco until the end when a woman sitting behind us asked if I was Leslie.  It was Meghan Hicks from I Run Far, a big ultrarunning website.  I was flattered she knew who I was.  I enjoyed our conversation as we walked through the airport and was a little giddy for a while.  It got the race excitement going a bit :)
Surprised, I replied yes and she explained she turned her phone on at landing and Facebook suggested we be friends.  That along with my husband and I both wearing Altra's, she put it together - small world eh?  She also remembered my cute purple butterfly compression socks from Katchina. Love those socks
Jeremy and I spent the rest of the day walking around San Francisco and stayed in a great hotel with a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge I woke up several times to look at, despite the wonderful bed.  The next day we both happened to wake up early so headed out on a run to explore more of the city.  Enjoyed the trolley and cable cars some and ran some, keeping my taper happy.  We saw all the classic sights, it was great!  Jeremy travels a lot for work with Altra so he's a good travel companion to have.
Later that day we picked up the rental car and I realized I was going to be out of Elete soon, the electrolyte additive I use religiously Wed, Thur, Fri before a race, in everything I drink.  I don't carbo-load, but I do basically water load, being sure I'm always drinking, and this Elete helps the water absorb well and prime my body to race.  It was a big deal to me, we really needed to find some.  I was expecting a package before we left, but turns out it showed up after we left for the airport.  After making a million phone calls and throwing a bit of a tantrum to my poor husband, I found some - at a women's fertility acupuncturist office of all places, Wu's Healing Center.  The woman there was so kind and had a great spirit about her.  I have a passion for fertility and women's health too and consider it a pleasure to have made this connection. 
Let the pre-race Zen resume
Anyway, moving on up the coast, we stopped and said hi at San Francisco Running Company, a great store.  Then headed up to the Muir Woods and camped overnight below Mt Tam.  I loved it, I love camping, and it's easy when there aren't babies with you to keep quiet and warm :)  Jeremy headed out on a 15 mile run through the forest and down to Stinson Beach while I packed up and made the drive down.  What a drive it was!  I was so jealous of his run.  I LOVE forests and green and ferns and fog.

Thursday evening drive to the top of Mt Tam.  Fog over the ocean and beautiful green grass and flower covered hills.  Even saw 3 turkeys on this hill, a tom all feathered up to impress the hens. They're the dark spot on the center hill.  A trail ran across the hillside too, took serious self restraint to not jump out of the car.
The beautiful 4 mile road down to Stinson Beach Friday morning.  I love fog and ferns
 So lovely.  Drove up the Hwy 1 another hour or two enjoying the sights and smells (seals, sea air, BBQ oysters) until finally getting into Healdsburg.  Checked into the host hotel (beautiful rooms and wine country design, so beautiful that from the pictures on their website I was totally shocked the hotel was right off the freeway on a busy street, not in a vineyard) and we drove up to Lake Sonoma to check the trails out.  I brought 3 pair of shoes with me to decide between (new One^2, Lone Peak 2.0, Torin 1.5) and I really needed to see the trails for myself to decide.  Really any of the 3 would have been fine, but I went with the Torin 1.5 for it's lighter weight and added cushion that would hopefully cushion the quads a little.  The road sole would do fine since the trails weren't rocky or technical except in a few sections.  Back for dinner and off to bed before I even did any gear packing.

Woke up at the abnormal hour of 3:30am to eat.  It's crazy to get up that early, but I
wanted to get my gut moving before the race, not during.  It was nice though, to sit in the quiet on the floor sorting through my nutrition and gear and packing my drop bags.  I felt peaceful.  I brought only enough nutrition for what I knew I'd need so I could pack light, I like that plan.  Usually I bring 7 of everything, nutrition, gear and clothing :)  I was going to be using 3 drop bags on this out and back course and don't use GPS but did calculate what time I would be to each drop bag aid station based on my goal time of 8:15, and then packed exactly what gels and any pills I would need to pick up at that aid station for the next segment in a ziplock bag inside the drop bag that also had a few extra pair of socks.  But I really liked having the labeled zip lock bags that I didn't have to think what to take out of it, Jeremy and I knew that whatever was in those bags I would take, no questions.  Planned for my typical mainly Vfuel gel diet with a few caffeinated Gu's sprinkled in too.  And of course Coke at aid stations, love coke in racing.  Also decided to go with the UltrAspire Quantum belt with two 5oz water flasks (great deal on it at TAUR) and would hold a collapsible 8oz soft flask, also with water.  I showered, got dressed, and off we went.
The Actual Race Report
Only arrived 15 minutes before the start but it was enough.  Ditched the ironically-at-a-trail-race long potty line and ran off to the bushes, pinned the number on, tied the shoes again and we were off!  The first several miles are on a rolling paved road.  Was fun to see cars pass us and cheer including Jeremy.  The mood was light, the fog was heavy and lovely and this day was starting!  I hung back away from the lead ladies, probably in about 15th place.  No big deal, we had ALL day.  Got onto the trail and got to work.  My body felt a little like we were working a little harder than we should have and I was conscious not to push too much, but it took at least an hour or so to really get into a groove where my breathing was finally quiet, a big indicator I use to tell me if I'm being conservative.  It was all very rolling and I power hiked a lot, even if the hills weren't long, and that took patience, but I believed it would pay off.  I also didn't feel great on the first few hours of downhill for some reason and tried to hold those back a little too while others around me were audibly slamming down them.  Patience.  Had to exercise patience.  And while there were lots of hills, there were a few flat-ish sections that were easy to run too.  Made a quick potty stop behind a tree, the only one of the day thankfully.  Crossed our first water crossing I was looking forward to, a beautiful almost knee deep pool of water below a moss and fern covered black rock waterfall.  And with the foggy misty morning under a canopy of green?  So picturesque.  I just smiled and laughed as a I jumped right in with a lady next to me gingerly stepped in.  The shoes were soggy for a few minutes but I didn't notice them after that.  One more small crossing after that.  Crossed the big river I'd seen pictures of and just smiled.  It was fun!  My husband was on the other side waiting to bring me into that 11.6 Warm Springs aid station.  He got a picture then sprinted up the hill to be ready to help me.  We got me in and out of there quick.  Came into that first drop bag aid at mile 11.6 at 1:47, the fastest split I'd written (I wrote splits for a 4:00, 4:10, and 4:15 25.2 turnaround, 4:10 was an even split 8:15).  I was on 4:00 pace.  This was at least comforting knowing if it felt like I was working hard at least I was ahead of schedule.  Didn't want to go too hard though, it was time to quiet the breathing.
From there we stayed in shady forest, I got a little confused which way to go at a fork and stopped for 30 seconds or so before thankfully choosing the right way.  Crossed another wider river and started more climbing.  I never thought the climbing that bad really.  There were 1 or 2 climbs the first half that were leg burners when hiking, but not horrible.  The forest opened up more into exposed grassy trails.  Came up to an aid station I wasn't planning on stopping at and stopped for whatever reason, Coke probably.  They had jelly beans so I looked real quick for a buttered popcorn flavor, no go, so I grabbed just one and left, and they laughed at me and my 1 jelly bean.  Saw Bryon from IRF at the top of  a hill and teased him about doing interviews up there, he hollered back asking how I liked zero drop shoes.  He got me.
I had been running in 13th place most of the race and staying right at those faster 4:00 split goals.  About mile 23 or so I started coming up on another lady, Caroline. The first time all day. She wasn't keen to let me go but was friendly.  This really was the first time I'd talked to another racer all day.  Not that they weren't friendly (I'd spend the next hour saying hi and good job while facing runners heading toward the turnaround), I was just mostly in my own head and on my own. She would pull ahead on the downs pounding them harder than I was willing to but I'd catch her while power hiking back up another.  Meghan from IRF told us we were in 11th and 12th.  I did eventually pull clear ahead about half a mile from the aid station and that's when I started running faster.  I was proud of my body for feeling this way 25 miles into a faster and hilly race and I told it that.  I told my legs and stomach and feet and head each how well we were all doing.  May sound cooky but I believe strongly in positive thinking.  My body and mind and heart were working together well and they deserved praise.  I ran into the aid station happy and feeling good and left quickly.  Was going to go from my Quantum belt to the Spry pack, but was perfectly content with what I had so I stayed with it.  Came into No Name Flat, mile 25.2 at 4:01 and left at 4:03.  Perfect.  I was happy that if I did fade I had some wiggle room to work with to get to 8:15.
Caroline and I after No Name AS I believe
Leaving the aid station I saw Caroline back in front of me.  I think I said "Crap!" out loud.  I complemented her on fast aid station and wished her a good race.  She said something about not letting me go just yet, but I pulled ahead for the last time.  Got to go down the big long dirt road we'd been up recently and I was feeling great.  That downhill was awesome and my legs really let me run it fast.  Approached the next aid station and yelled out "1 jelly bean please" and again they laughed :) I didn't stop this time but told them I'd love a buttered popcorn.  Rounded a corner and switchback onto the trail running past and under the aid station to a volunteer that had scrambled down the side of the hill with - you guessed it - 1 buttered popcorn jelly bean!  I gave her a hug and thanked her very much.  That was neat service.  Thank you Madrone Point Aid Station volunteers!
 This was about mile 30.  Pretty sure I PR'd my 50k time.  I put my music on at this point and ran fast and feeling great but not feeling like I was pushing too hard for the next 8 miles.  During those next 8 I would spot a lady or two ahead of me and get excited.  I wanted to be conservative the first half, but I did have my doubts about anyone in this very talented field tiring out for me to catch.  It was definitely a confidence booster when I did catch them.  I ran into that Warm Springs aid station again at mile 38 in 8th place.  I was a bit more tired but still felt good.  Ran across that river happy and motivated, still on track to run 8:15. I only had 12 miles left! In fact, I was still under pace.  I wondered if I could get under 8:15 and maybe even catch a girl or two.  6 is my favourite number, maybe I could get there.
Feeling good and strong
I ran across the river again and things started getting hard.  The sun was out, the fog and mist gone, and my effortless pace from 22-38 wasn't there.  It was time to work.  I knew I was slowing down so I focused on keeping up on nutrition.  I told myself I would take a gel 10 minutes before finishing if I had to, none of this "I'm almost there I'll be fine" business.  It seemed all the landmarks I was looking for that I had placed in my head from the morning were taking much longer to get to me.  The two small crossings, wider trail, bridge, where were they?  I wasn't stopping, but I was walking a lot more.  Ironically the downhill was fine, my legs felt heavy enough that nothing hurt and at least I could let gravity help me there.  But my head was starting to feel like it was full of pressure, I was just waiting to see spots, there were times a hiker would pass me and I thought maybe I should ask them to walk beside me for a minute.  It was kind of scary.  I knew it was going to take longer to get to the last aid station at 45 but I hoped I'd be reasonably within my splits, simply for water reasons.  I am confident in the 18oz at a time I chose to carry, but this one 7 mile stretch I could have used a little more.  We were 2.3 miles from that last aid station and I was about to go through the last water crossing.  Moving behind schedule I had just finished off the last of my water so decided to fill that flask in the stream.  Don't like doing that but I would surely drink it before passing out.  I knew my other flask was empty so don't know why I even thought to check it, but right before drinking the stream water I did check it - and it was full.  A true heaven sent blessing.  I thanked the Lord and drank it and poured the stream water on my head and chest.
Not sure where this is, it wasn't in the current suffer zone of 40-50,
but my face reflects the harder work there - the running legs, not so much ;)
 We did eventually get to the turnoff for the 1/4 mile down to the 45 mile aid station and it was such a sense of relief.  I should have gotten there 7:20-7:25 based on my mile 38 split (and every one before that) but arrived 10 minutes late at 7:35.  Doesn't sound that bad in retrospect, but in that heat and where I really haven't run in any heat this year, it was quite the delay.  I saw the gal in yellow that had been ahead of me and in sight and at one point as close as 30 seconds away.  She looked good and now had several minutes on me.  The volunteers asked what they could get me and I replied "a finish line".  Filled all my water, downed a cup of coke, cooled off with their water and left.  The sooner I got moving again the sooner I could be done and deal with this heat exhaustion I knew was an issue for me and could get worse.  I saw 9th and 10th place 1/2 mile behind me as I got back on the trail.  They were moving well and I was sure it was a matter of time before they caught me. 
I maybe felt a little better knowing the volunteers said I had 4.7 left.  I was going to walk the whole darn thing if I had to, I just had to keep moving.  I used more motivating self talk than I probably ever have.  My legs didn't particularly hurt, they were tired and heavy and my energy levels were ok, but the heat was brutal for me.  When I walked I walked as quickly as I could but walked fairly slow up hills and I really tried to run if it was flat and made myself run if it was downhill.  As much as I wanted to keep my position in the top 10, I mostly just wanted to be done.  Those last 5 are brutal.  You know you have to finish up high, on top of all the other hills, so when you head down a hill after going up one, it's tough.  That happened several times.  We'd head up for almost a mile only to plunge back down and you knew you'd simply have to go right back up.  A few hikers were out and one said I had 3 mile to go. I thought surely he doesn't know what he's talking about.  I did the math for my 4.7 left and figured I'd be in by 8:25, and yet I was still going with no end in sight.  Later on someone else said just under 2 miles and I don't even think I was relieved, more like "crap, that first hiker was right".  I ran as much as I could and knew it had to end sometime and reached my neck around every corner hoping that was it and boy does this course lead you on.  You truly can't see the finish until 49.5 and then you still don't go directly there :)  I was finally running down the chute and was so happy I'd hung on to 8th, even thought I'd gotten under 8:30 as the
clock said 8:28 (turned out the clock had frozen there I guess, what luck), and I was even more happy to be done, not have to run any more, and to be able to cool down.  My finish picture from IRF reflects that, blah.  I really should have put on my happy face and smiled, and next time I will.
8:34, 8th place woman, 50th place overall out of 300 finishers.   I did what I wanted, came in ranked 24th, ran 13th most of the day, and finished top 10! I really am ok with my time too.  It was only 19 minutes slower than I planned, and I know I could have run that had I run more hills and dealt with the heat better. I think I could have moved up a spot or two as well but am going to own my results and be very happy with how I did, it's just nice knowing I can do better in the future.  And I'm pleased that my first and second half splits are pretty much the same difference in time as the top ladies.  That said, don't let me fool you and sound like it was no big deal.  I think Lake Sonoma 50 was probably one of the two or three hardest races I've ever done.  Oh, and I AM SMASHED today.  More than either of my 100k's.  I wanted to leave it all out there and have to recover and boy did I and am I.  I seriously got pity looks in the airport as I looked crippled and after we picked my daughter up from her flight she asked what was wrong with me, why did I have to hold onto her to walk :)  I had to have 2 different neighbours run after my 2 year old who was taking off for the park as I knew there was no way I could catch her.  I had a massage from Heber at Body Worx and I hope things will start improving soon, but I am really hammered.  And I am so glad!
What a pleasure to race on such a beautiful course. 
I just loved the fog and mist of the first hours of the race. I believe this is the men's leader
I Run Far wrote a summary article about the race that I saw after someone else pointed it out.  I am more than flattered to have a paragraph written about me including "She’s the biggest breakout story in the women’s race, for certain."  Wow.  I am so happy with this race and my body and family and friends and support system.  It's good to be alive!

Here is a video another athlete made that shows pretty much the whole course including 1 of 2 dogs I stopped to pet at 8:45 and myself around 10:15. Good hilly times http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=TiMh8xM3810 

What I can improve:
Be willing to switch to a vest or do whatever necessary to carry more water as it heats up.  You never know if you'll slow down.
Run more hills within reason.  I wanted to be conservative but I probably could have run a few more than I did
Don't stop at the aid stations I wasn't planning on.  If I have enough fluid and calories on me, no stopping. 
Stick around after the race and socialize a little longer if not feeling like death.
Smile at the end - I do this because it's fun.  Even when it hurts it's a privilege

What I did well:
Hydration system worked well, had just enough water except 1 section.  Soft flask was easier to carry than a hand-held and was nice to collapse and store in the front pocket when empty.
Ziplock food packing was perfect, no wondering what I should grab
Gel every 30 min.  Could have maybe even moved it up to every 25 minutes in the last two hours.  Maybe.
Didn't mess with the ipod.  Let the music shuffle and had Yurbud cord behind me rather than in front and had it in place before the race started even though I didn't turn it on till hour 5.
Ran my own race.  Power hiked a lot more than others, didn't slam the downs, but it aided me in the end.