Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A student of the sport

It's my spring break from nursing school this week.  But I've still got class this weekend, a long one.  I am very excited for the Wasatch 100 later this year and want to be better prepared for it, so I'm going to be a student of the sport and learn more about those last 30 miles, the only way I know how - run the first 70 first.  Buffalo Run Adventures​ 100 on Antelope Island, Friday at noon!

I've run 2 great 100 mile races.  The courses were amazing, challenging, and my results good, especially at Bryce where I won and set a course record, that was so exciting!  But coming off Run Rabbit Run I still don't feel like I've got a good grip on how to race the 100, best handle the night, although RRR did go better after more experience, and not sure I know how to get myself through the last 30 miles best.  And I think the only way for me to do that, is to experience the last 30 miles, after 70 miles.  Running a 30 mile training run is nothing like running likes the last 30 miles of a 100 in my opinion and experience.  

I want to do really well at Wasatch, and also feel really good during it (as good as a 100 can feel), more in control of me in it.  Funny, I just had the thought that this is just like my births.  My 4th birth I was most prepared and in control and most pleased how it went.  Maybe Wasatch being my 4th 100 will turn out the same way ;)

Antelope Island about an hour north of Salt Lake City is a neat place.  Seems like the moon on the west side and is a great flat runnable trail I like a lot on the east side.  It is definitely an easier course than I've ever done, in virtually any ultra probably.  So that will be nice to feel an easier 100.  The race doesn't start till noon so of course I still get to run through the whole night which honestly I'd love to get out of, but I likely won't at Wasatch so through the night it is.  My family is going to come up and camp at the start/finish, so that will be fun to see them.  All my kids still haven't seen me run a 100.

When I ran with my great friend Carol at Black Canyon one piece of wisdom I remember gaining from her was don't be a slave to your goals.  I really like that.  Have those goals, make them big if you want, work toward them, but don't let them rule you.  Don't let them take the enjoyment out of the experience.  
So I'm going to have pacers the last 50 miles through almost all of the night.  I thought since I've already done my first 2 100's solo, maybe I should keep the "streak" going and be a female Karl Meltzer.  But with Carol's wise advice, I'm not going to worry about that.  I know a pacer makes things easier, and I feel good about using pacers this time and at Wasatch.

So off for another crazy adventure!  I feel like this is plenty early in training to recover from, probably do a little shorter road racing in the next few months, then buckle down come June and saddle up for the big dance for me this year, at home in my own mountains.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Off season goodness

Life since Black Canyon has been busy. Crazy busy. But not with running. I took 2 solid weeks off running. Zero miles. Didn't mind, barely noticed with all that was going on with school. 2 weeks out a friend advertised a run and I hadn't been with her for a while and we had a free weekend. What I didn't consider was how 20 miles would feel after zero miles of running post furnace 100k. My legs did not feel good. I worried how this would effect recovery and getting going again but thankfully a short run a few days later and then every run since have felt great!  I think that 20 was just rough because everything wasn't as supple. 

Anyway, as much as I love to run and train and race, I've been fine this last month not doing much. It's nice to focus my attention on my family and school more. I had a free Saturday morning last week and we'd recently had some snow. I have been wanting to get up to the high country and be in the snow for months. Training for my 100k's didn't allow for that do this was a treat. No pace, no time, no structure worries. 
And it was SO Wonderful!!  I walked, hiked, and ran when I felt like it. Saw some beautiful sights, some so great I just stopped and smiled. Even laying in the snow once when a great song came on amidst one of those sunshine warming your face awesome views. I usually save music for the second half of races and not training, so put in some mellow but upbeat stuff just for fun, not to motivate me to push the pace. 

Took a million pics, played like an out of control child on the miles downhill. Oh it was great!  

I've taken more time to hike with my kids and feel like a kid the couple times a week I've gotten out. I feel refreshed. Yay for off seasons!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Canyon 100k

Life has been non stop crazy since Black Canyon 10 days ago.  Just packed full of family, school, and zero running.  Somedays I have zero idea how I manage to fit 2 or even 3 of those things in (note shower and clean my house was not a part of that list, those are bonus activities).  I want to keep this short, we'll see how that goes.

Felt like a big girl flying to a race and renting a car myself for the first time.  I had a 12 hour clinical Thursday, and didn't fly out till Friday afternoon.  In retrospect arriving around 4:00pm the day before the race was too late.  I got through packet pickup having a nice conversation with RD Jamil Coury, then interview with Ultrasportslive TV.  I felt like a nerd being interviewed but it didn't go as bad as I thought, I just never looked at the camera.  Robert who interviewed me is a great guy.  I feel good about how it turned out too!

There was a bit of driving between everything and after a nice dinner with photographer extrodinaire and friend Paul Nelson who was also racing I got checked into my hotel...and realized I had forgotten a watch.  Decided I'd run out to walmart for a $10 one (I don't run with GPS anyway, but I like to know time for nutrition).  Two were less than 10 minutes from me so I chose one.  Well apparently Walmarts down there that have clothes, food, tools and anything else a super walmart would here, don't have jewelry.  Seriously, THE ONLY thing they didn't have.  How weird is that??  So I ran over to the other one, spent too long deciding on $10 watches and got back into the car.  To find my phone had died.  And I wasn't entirely sure how to get myself back to the hotel.  A few wrong turns later I made it though, but later than I wanted.  I do not like settling down to pack drop bags at 10pm, and unfortunately was up past midnight packing them.  Grrr!  One of these days I really am going to pack them before I leave.  3-4 hours of sleep later I was up to eat and leave.  SO tired though, the hour drive up to Jake and Jen Puzey's truck for a ride the rest of the way was tough.  Was a nice drive up chatting with them and Paul again though.  Then I decided to take my time getting ready including filling 40oz of water into my pack from a drinking fountain....and long story short, lost my race bib (which should have been put on hours earlier) and ran at top speed to the start line where they had it (thanks for coming to get me Jeff!).  I pinned it on half hazardly as they counted down from 10.  Ugh.  I was smiling and excited and felt good though.  7am and off we went!
Yes, a pre race bathroom selfie...with a tampon machine in back of me
I ran along side teammate Angela for the first few miles chatting a little till she was ready to get into race mode.  We also ran with super star cool ladies Kaci Lickteig, Katie Desplinter, and Gina Lucrezi.  It was really fun to run amongst them, great conversations, and it was easy and fun chatter.  The pace too was totally doable!  I had to tell myself a few times to hold back because an easier start is smart, and these girls were smart and if they were going to run a very doable pace I had no reason not to run it with them (vs going ahead).  I did lead our little pack much of the first 16 miles, and I felt so capable and good!  I remember us running along windy single track wondering where our first giant cactus would be and how fun it was to all see it together.  When we rolled through the first 2 aid stations I started to see how valuable a crew is since they could blast through them and I was left to my own devices to rummage through my simple drop bag and fill up on water.  I'd run and catch up, but it was tough.  *Thanks to Caitlin Marion for helping me a couple times along the way!*

The temps started out cool, I even had arm warmers on, but by 9am, it was really warming up.  After
the second aid station I think it was, I left last having to go through a drop bag and saw some spectacular female peeing abilities.  I won't mention who, but they had skill :)  They also influenced me to finally stop and squat myself.  I ran to almost catch up and could really feel them picking up the pace.  I wasn't super comfortable with it, but wanted to hang.  It was now around 10am though, the sun easily in the 80's overhead, no shade, and my day of nausea began.  I watched them slowly run away out of sight, saw women start to appear behind me, and yeah, I got discouraged.  I knew it was early in the race though and it was fine to have a down spell and it was important I run my own race.  All the advice I'd heard about this course was to not run too fast the first half.  Now however, it wasn't my legs or lungs slowing me down, it was my stomach.  Anything I took in made me so nauseous.  I stopped a few times and hunched over, trying to relieve it.  I had a headache now too and sometimes had stars in my vision and feared how my body was handling the heat.  I was smart about hydration and electrolytes, took my pepto and tums, but nothing was helping. I seriously rolled into the 3rd aid station truly ready to pull out.  Those ladies were gone, I felt awful, but mostly, I was fearing how I was going to deal with this heat only a few hours into it.  Finishing a race with heat stroke did not sound exciting or smart.  Local and friend Carol Manwaring rolled into the aid station after I did and I told her I wanted to quit.  She didn't look happy either, but she also didn't coddle my idea of quitting.  As much as I wanted to, I couldn't yet and reluctantly dragged my feet out of there and back onto the trail. Why I wasn't sure.

We would share the next several hours together and it was so nice to have each other!  I shared some pain relief cream for her aching foot and she shared a Zoran (didn't work, it's actually a drug I'm learning about right now, and apparently it works best preventive, not once nausea has set in.  I was certainly grateful to try it though!).  We had lots of birth discussion.  We are both very natural minded birthers.  We were so hot and almost delirious a few times it was funny.  We were expecting to finally come to some water to cross for the first time on the course, around 28 miles and 85 degrees into the race.  I though I saw it down below us and thought I saw green bushes too.  I told her I bet that was it.  No she firmly responded, but a minute later when we realized it was it oh how our shuffle picked up.  It was literally like in the movies, running for water.  We tromped right in and laid down.  It felt SO great!  We totally weren't in a hurry, probably spent 10 minutes there?  It was funny to watch the two guys also there and the two of us all get leg cramps of one kind of another when we tried to get up.  We all laughed about it.  
Carol and I were quite the team trudging on, working together, sharing water, running out of water, feeling yucky, but rocking our shorts and sports bras with a collective 10 children between us.  Carol has a better body than I do, and she's going to be a grandma soon.  She has a mind and willpower of steel too, she inspires me to be better.  I hope I can be like her the rest of my running life!  I wish we had a picture of our time together.

I can't remember everything in great detail despite my novel length report so far, but we did a whole lot of walking, mostly on my account, it was just so hard to move at all feeling so sick.  The heat was killing my stomach.  She pulled ahead a few times, we'd meet up, I pulled ahead once simply trying to move as fast as I could as my body would let me.  We got to the bottom of a whole bunch of switch backs around mile 30 maybe?  And I was happy to run every step of them.  I just got into a great groove and ran on up to the top.  I was excited, maybe I was turning a corner now and could get through this darn thing after all!  I had been way ahead of schedule up to this point (i.e.:I went out too fast probably) and was hoping I could still hold on.  I rolled into the big Black Canyon City aid station where my pacer would meet me, and wasn't feeling as hot anymore.  Wrong choice of words, I was very hot, just not feeling good again.  I saw a lot of people quitting there, including friend Zac who was having some issues.  It was hard to not join him.  I basically begged for permission to stop, this wasn't fun, I was embarrassing myself out there, and I was grumpy.  He would have supported me in either decision, but mainly, my pacer was there and I felt really bad asking her to drive 90 minutes, and then quit there having never taken her out on her first pacing duty.  So again, I drug my feet walking out of the aid station.  

I was so unsure how I was going to continue on through the next 26 miles.  Less than half a mile from the aid station I stopped, sat down on a rock, and felt the sickest I had yet I think.  What was I doing? Leaving that aid station for a 8 mile stretch felt so completely scary and dumb.  I was truly sure we should turn around now.   She'd understand.  And then it came to me.  "Oh crap!" I said.  Cari probably worried, asked me what was wrong.  It dawned on me right then, that if I DNF'd, if I didn't finish the race, I would not be eligible for the Western States last chance lottery.  Knowing that a lot of people were dropping made me think my chances were pretty reasonable, and in the end probably were 1 in 17.  I'm someone who dwells on things, doesn't let them go.  I just couldn't wrap my brain around how I was going to deal with the 'what if's' if I didn't finish and enter the lottery.  That would be my very last chance to try for a spot, the other races were full and my life too busy anyway.  I stood up feeling so defeated knowing my mind was forcing me to continue, but on we went.  
All of a mile from the aid station we met up at and yeah, I felt about as dead as I look.
Cari probably wondered if she'd ever get me out of there.
It's amazing that as shallow as the stream was it felt so good.  Not so cold it stung either.
We did SO MUCH walking and a bit more rock sitting in the next hours and I felt really bad for Cari. Here she was thinking she was going to help pull me to a top finish, and we were walking.  A lot.  I've been in the position of pacer where my runner was not feeling well or moving fast and it can be difficult for the pacer too.  Once the sun finally went behind the mountains around 6:00 though, it was pleasant out!  She works in environmental something or other so I played "what's that cactus" for a few hours and we trotted along.  My stomach finally felt better, 8-9 hours later and I could run slowly, sometimes run normally.  I knew there was no way at this point I could earn a spot, and i've kind of wanted to experience an ultra from a non-competitive standpoint, so we stopped at a few aid stations and I actually looked around for food, beyond soda.  I never really ate anything besides a few potatoes, but it was nice to sit down and take my time.  At this point the only thing to do was to keep moving. Up to this aid station I was still considering quitting, but knowing we only had 3 shorter sections left now was helpful.
Trudging on
We rolled into the second to last aid station just in time to grab my head lamp.  I thanked Cari for coming with me for so many more hours than she planned on.  She'd done her 14 miles and this is where she was planning to stop but I offered her the option of coming with me all the way if she wanted.  We had 10 or so miles to go.  I would have been fine but she obliged.  And it was great having her!  We shared my headlamp for a few hours and I can't believe she didn't trip.  We shared some great conversation.  It's kind of nice having someone who is patient and flexible who you've never met to pace you, lots to talk about!  We played leap frog with a lady who was very consistent.  I don't at all mean to sound prideful here, but I was surprised I was having to really work to get and stay ahead of her for good.  It was a good humbling.  The middle pack is tough!  And smart.  

Waiting on the last aid station was a little frustrating.  We expected it a mile or two earlier than it was and despite telling myself that it will come when it comes, I still questioned if they moved it or if we missed it.  It was great getting past it, but I think I took in too much soda because the nausea came back a bit which was frustrating.  Finally finally finally though, we saw the lights of the finish line and it was time to be done.  I was so grateful to be done running, but very disappointed with my day, and frankly, I was embarrassed.  I was planning on top 5, was interviewed as an elite, ran in 3rd place for most of the first 16 miles, and then dropped off the face of the elite race and rolled in in 11th place and 14:20something, 4 hours behind the winner, and at least 2 behind the ladies I'd run the morning with.
Here's me being a bad sport with the thumbs down.  It was hard facing the great people at USL TV after a race like that after having talked like I was there to compete (which I was, and they were nothing but gracious BTW)
I was very grateful to Cari for her help in getting me to the finish line at all though.  What a woman to go 10 miles and probably 6 hours farther than she was expecting!

So, that's kind of how it all went down.  I felt great and strong and happy the first 3 hours, then was sick from the heat despite all my efforts to cool and hydrate and fuel and medicate and electrolyte up for the next 9 hours, then pretty ok for the next 2.5.  But I finished frustrated and embarrassed.  This was easily my worst ultra finish to date.  I know, I know, everyone has off days, but I can still be disappointed.  The other women handled the heat just fine, including most who do not come from warm climates (1 and 2 did).  2 of the elites did drop, but for injury reasons.  Looking at the results, had my day continued on without nausea and like it had that morning, I really do think I would have been in the top 5, and considering the  WS spot rolled down the 3rd, that's pretty frustrating.  It was within my reach.

I came away from the race with a nightmare sunburn on my chest and belly that would hurt me a lot for the next week.  Sorry body.  I can look back on the day with a few fond memories of the first 16 miles with great ladies, river crossings, my time with Carol, and good chats and cooler temps in the evening with Cari.  My legs felt great all day, better than Bandera despite being almost 3 hours slower.  I'm really not sure I could have done anything differently to improve my day.  Maybe go out slower, but I needed the time with and confidence from those lead ladies.  
Despite me truly being unsure if I would, I did learn a few lessons.
  • I hate heat and don't adore the desert scene.  It's its own beauty, but just doesn't do it for me like pine trees and mountains.  I will probably avoid truly hot weather winter races in the future.  It is just so hard to acclimate the body to it December-February.  I think when I said I was a weather tolerant go with the flow running, I forgot I was standing in an air conditioned building.
  • I'm grateful for the kind words about me being tough to finish, but honestly, it is an interesting line and dilemma to me to determine if it was really wise or smart.  For my mental well being I'm glad I finished, I didn't get into the lottery, but I'm glad to know I did everything I could with what I was given.  But I don't have anything to prove about finishing a distance, I've done it.  I was having a miserable time out there from hour 3 and it didn't give in for almost 9 hours, that's a heckuva long low  Risking my health with the heat and the way my body was handling it, I don't know.  Strong, stubborn, or stupid?  Still debating that lesson.
  • I have improved my downhill and technical skills.  I never once felt myself pulling back on a downhill or rocky section out of fear or losing control.  I also did not find the course technically challenging.  Now maybe that's because I moved slower most of the race, but reading others reports about how technical and rocky this was, one even 'fearing for her life' (in jest I'm sure), I never felt that.  It was totally doable.  That is definitely an improvement for me.  I worked on it a lot before this race and even that little amount of time helped.  I plan to keep it up.
  • I felt good with those lead ladies, and while it is embarrassing to me to look like I was being  a poser or groupie hanging out with them then dropping off so badly, I know I could have run with them.  And that makes me happy.  

Black Canyon 100k was well organized, well stocked aid stations, marked just great and I would recommend any of their races.  Thank you to Jamil and Aravaipa Running, my great pacer Cari, Altra Running (my feet were happy in the Paradigm all day long), Vfuel gel (I don't blame the gel, I blame the heat, I still plan to use Vfuel for every race in the future), and Elete Electrolytes (was crucial to keep my electrolytes happy and with the drops and pills I did).  I enjoyed a Handful bra all day with zero issues, walmart shorts (they were cute, comfortable and matched my bra), Injinji socks, and my Nathan pack for 50 miles (a dependable no bounce vest and yeah it was heavy, but I needed a ton of water out there), then Ultraspire Quantum which I love but just didn't hold enough water until the last 12 miles.  Also carried a soft flask most of the way which almost always carried water from the 3 rivers or aid stations to get wet with.  Amazing how quickly that water heated up though.
Thank you for all the support and kind words before and after.  Thanks to Carol's husband Jeff for helping me and being so wonderful to Carol whom I'm afraid may have suffered more than even I did.  I'm doing ok now, heart hurts a little, legs felt better than I would have hoped had I run like I wanted.  I'm just so busy with school that hopefully I'll nail down a schedule for the rest of the year soon so I can have some structure and get moving again.  Thanks for reading!

Congrats to everyone out there who endured and many who did well.  
Biggest congrats to teammate Angela Shartel who is tough as nails 
and finished a solid 2nd place in the day!!

And I can't forget to add this last photo. When I don't have good races it's hard on my family too. My husband couldn't track me all day and was left wondering how I was doing with the heat, especially once my goal time had come and gone, by hours. I typically do not feel well at all for about 24 hours after a 100k or longer race. I flew home after 3 hours of sleep (won't be making that flight choice again) and crashed in my bed so I could be home with my 3yr old birthday girl. She brought a bag of frozen beans for my burnt belly, a cold water bottle for my chest, a flower of course and her sweet little self to sit beside me and "take care of mama". I am a very lucky woman to have what I have and do what I do. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bandera post race

I'm not really sure where to go from here.  I have ideas, but not much direction.  I'm not depressed about the race, but dissapointed yes.  I'm handling it better than I thought, but I'm a little lost as to the future.  Do I want to keep competing in national level, more competitve races and try to make a name for myself, or race whatever sounds fun?  The second choice sounds like the obvious one, but I feel a level of obligation to my sponsors to represent on a bigger field and I do love to compete.  Really, I think competing at big races but not having the pressure of a top 1 or 2 finish would still be fun.

Update 1-30-14
My mind was all kinds of scrambled and stressed in the weeks after Bandera. School had started and like I said above, I just had no direction racing wise. That makes it sound like running is my whole life, but it's not. I wouldn't be surprised if I deal with some form of ADD, so to not have any idea what was next on my schedule running wise whether it be a race or rest, to know how to plan my time, was eating at me. 
I spewed my confusion on several friends and a whole lot on my husband. Last Saturday I ran with a Ari and while she certainly didn't make my decision, she was a great sounding board and offered good feedback. My legs felt better then than they had earlier in the week. After Bamdera I had doubts that my training was actually as good as I thought it was. But you know what?  It was great.  I had some really great long (25-31) mile runs. And I got a really long run in at Bandera ;) I won't lie and call it a training run, but in the end I don't feel like I was able to push 100%, just an off day. But I came away healthy. I wasn't ready to let that fitness go. Enter Black Canyon 100k. 

I figured since I scored Montrail Ultra Cup points at Bandera, I might as well try to race another of the 5 or so races to be eligible to be ranked with them. I really debated going out to Gorge Waterfalls 100k late March, the only other race I could do schedule wise, but that meant almost 2 more months of training, and school is kicking my butt (and I found out the kids have something important that weekend too). BC was only 3 weeks away at this point and I figured   Staying in shape, finishing recovering my legs and just keeping them fresh, then taking 4-6 weeks off as a short off season sounded most doable and 'smart'. 

I've not put the pressure of Bandera on this race and it feels good. I am definitely going to give it my all, but not have expectations of top 2. I just want to have a race that feels strong to me that I'm more satisfied with, score some MUC points, hopefully come in somewhere around 6th (my favorite number and a bonus point with the cup) and then give my body a short off season. And survive nursing school. Speaking of which, I'm on the train almost to the children's hospital for a 12 hour clinical. 

Stick with your goal whatever it may be. Do something toward it every day if you can, even something small. I don't run every day, and when I don't, that something toward my goal may be 10-20 min of body weight strength training or core work. 10-20 min. We've all got 10-20 minutes. A lot of why I decided to do this race was some really great and influential quotes.
The first actually made me a little mad. Altra posted this the day before Bamdera and I was and am flattered!  But it also gave me a little of a sinking feeling reading it before Bandera, like premonition/superstition I wouldn't get my goal there. 
Well, this is a different path and I'm willing to go down it and give it a shot. The other quote that got me was on a friend Dana's photo. It said something to the effect of
Giving up on your goal after one setback is like slashing the other three tires on your car when one gets a flat
They say you usually only regret the things you don't do right?  I don't want to regret not giving it another go right now so BC it is in warm sunny Arizona in 2 weeks! ☀️

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bandera 100k

As you can read from my prerace post, I had high goals going into Bandera. My next 4 months is about to get very busy with the busiest semester of nursing school and I wanted to make a go at a Western States spot. You have to try right?
I have been so mentally strong and excited and motivated for so long toward this race, but by race week I was in a different place. I was busy getting the house and kids ready to leave yes, but I think my mind was just tired of holding me up. I was still looking forward to it, but I wasn't super excited and it was hard not to be overwhelmed by my goal. I ran Wednesday with my good friend who ran on the same dirt road with me on my last run before my PR marathon. I thought it was nice superstition satisfaction. 
As I've prayed for mental strength to continue until race day when I felt like it was waining, I came away with the true, less overwhelming goals of run my best race and come away happy. Well this friend asked if I really wouldn't come away happy if I was 3rd (1st and 2nd earn the Western State spot). I honestly couldn't answer her that I would come away happy with 3rd. That stunned me a little. Praying that night before bed I had some peace come. Bandera is not to destroy me, it is to build and excite me. Every opportunity is a growing opportunity. Too much pressure is a bad thing, it messes with my brain too much. I am going to Bandera to have MY best race and if for some reason my best race does not put me in a position to take home a slot, the effort of Bandera will be excellent in the strength bank toward any future race, including Western. I signed as an Altra athlete and have travel help now, I can afford to go to another race to chase western if needed but the plan is to do it at Bandera.
That's what I needed, seems simple and silly to some that I couldn't just tell myself that all along, but it helped me a lot then and the rest of the week. 

On the flight to San Antonio I sat next to a woman looking over the course map and elevation profile for the race. My new friend Shannon was connecting from Portland to go out to the race and had done it several times. Was nice to talk to someone with course experience and to make a new friend of course. Kind of ironic she happened to be on the same plane and right next to me. 
Jeremy and I walked along the Riverwalk that evening and enjoyed a dinner out with friends we haven't seen in a long time. Was really nice having that day, Thursday, to not worry about the race, just enjoy the trip. 
Along the River Walk in San Antonio feeling ready to run
Friday we made the hour drive over to Badera and while I watched the terrain become more rolling, even at the state park the hills we would run tomorrow were hidden. I wasn't cocky, but wasn't that worried. There was no mud that evening either.  After we got upgraded to a wonderful condo instead of the 1 room cabin I booked (heater broken and in this weather we needed a heater) so my personal chef made me an awesome dinner while I sat on the floor scattering and organizing all the gear I brought for drop bags. Was such a nice relaxing night. 

Lots of stuff it appears for 2 drop bags (dry bags rock as drop bags), I probably only pulled out 10% of this.
Bags would have been even smaller had it not been for the threatening weather
After dreaming several times I'd slept in I finally woke up to the real alarm and enjoyed a peaceful morning in the living room finishing drop bags and gear while my better half slept in darkness and quiet. He went out to warm the car up and warned me sternly to be very  slow and careful going down the stairs as they were covered in ice. Awesome. I really wasn't too worried though. Jer pumped me up with all my favorite pre race songs as we followed many tail lights down the dark road ahead. I was excited!  Dropped my bags off, found the weather not as cold as I thought, and ran over to the starting line about 10 seconds before they said go. 
Traci, Me, Kelsie, Melanie at like mile 1 probably
The pace was fast but I was in the mix of top 5 women...for a few miles anyway :) I did great up the first climb but was learning just how "fun" ice covered rocks are, and some sections of Bandera that's all there is to run on, ice covered rocks. As we started down the first big downhill from Sky Island I lost that lead pack. They were far more daring on the icy rocky downhill. So, my new friend Traci (Traci Falbo, an amazing runner) and I along with some ladies named Ashley and Kelsie would be around each other for the next several hours. Was nice to chat. Traci and I talked about how fast the women's pace was so far and how we were wanted to run our own races right now and I was able to settle into my own by about mile 16. Up until 16 it felt like I was really working hard, harder than I wanted to (and yet I told myself I'd probably need to work harder than usual to have better than usual results, maybe harder wasn't the answer, maybe smarter was). Up to 16 I was on 10:15-10:30 pace. By the end of the little 5 mile loop back to Crossroads aid station at 21, I was closer to 10:45. Darn. 

Welcome to the mudfest
Now we were experiencing the crazy heavy mud. Mud unlike I'd run in. Mud so heavy each foot really did feel at least 5 pounds heavier and the mud didn't just cake under foot but around it too, I told one guy we looked like we had mud snowshoes on. And there's no kicking it off, or scraping it off. It would just pile right back on. It required so much more and zapped so much more muscle and energy and strength. I knew everyone else was dealing with it, but for my own body, I had a few moments of concern. Twinges of pain or strain in my ankle or quad or calf made me a little nervous. We probably had a 10 mile and 5 mile stretch of mud like that. Each of the 2 loops.  I knew it would slow me down, but I was more concerned about how much energy it would take out of me so early in the race. When we would go down these steep ledgy downhills I had that fear confirmed with shaky, tired legs. 

The shoes and legs post race.  There are yellow shoes under there.
And then there was the razor sharp sotol plants lining the trail on both sides in places where there was no where to go but through. It hurt really badly several times and was annoying most of the other times. Was grateful for capris so I at least only ripped up my shins. There were places the sotol was way closer together and thicker than in this photo below. 

Photo from
I rolled into 50k at 5:25 (although I think my husband has me down at 5:15).  Made quick time in the aid station only changing out of my noisy rain coat (which did serve me well during 1 rain storm) and into a softer quiet jacket.  I also had changed from my Ultraspire Astral vest hours ago at Crossroads into my Ultraspire Quantum belt.  LOVE that belt!  I didn't start with it because I didn't want to stop at every aid station to fill my 2 5-oz flasks for time and because I didn't want to get gloves wet, but it turned out totally worth it.  Love not having weight on my shoulders but still don't like a handheld. 
Anyway, left halfway positive.  I kind of resigned myself to not coming in top 2 anymore, but I wanted to hold on and 'race my best race' in case someone ahead faded.  I wanted to have more to push with, but it never really came.  It was nice to see a lady in front of me and I got within a minute a few times, but she held strong and pulled away each time.  Time passed pretty well, I was looking forward to seeing my husband again at Crossroads again.  I was walking a little more than before maybe, but I powered up every hill even if it was a power hike, trying to make up any time I could.  On the downhills that thankfully weren't as slick anymore, I kept mantras in my head like "pick your feet up, pick a line, pick your feet up, pick a line" or "feet up, knees up, feet up, knees up".  I kept to my schedule for Ibuprofin and PreRace and did well with my calories and hydration.  Enjoyed a small cup of yummy mashed potatoes and then a few hours later had mashed potatoes inside a quesadilla in one hand, and a cup of jelly beans in the other :)  There was only 1 aid station to go now till the finish, 2 sections, and I was motivated by a new time goal, to go sub 12, preferably in the 11:40something.  I knew my splits from earlier and was still feeling reasonable GI and leg wise and the mud was slightly better, so I gave it my best.  I left Crossroads with my headlamp which I was hoping to not have to need, but it's a good thing I had it.
My game face
By the time I got to that last aid station, and I'd made good time to it, I was happy about that, it was time for a headlamp.  The last section of the course included 2 big climbs and 2 big descents.  They were long both ways.  When I left that aid station it was about the time I had wanted to finish and I could hear the finish line a bit.  That was a bummer.  It was really misty out now, maybe light rain, but more just misty.  However, it made it impossible to see with the headlamp on your head. I had to hold it in my hand with arm down.  I'd have to raise it up to see the reflective markers tied to trees.  Definitely slowed things down to not be able to see where I was going very well.  After finally getting to the start of last long climb (which would have a long descent afterwards), I knew I'd be close once I got the switchbacks.  So, I started singing a song about the switchback.  It was totally weird but kept my mind busy and motivated.  Shining the light on cactus nearby that looked  like giant rabbit ears was fun too.  My pace had really slowed running in the dark and I really wanted to accomplish at least one goal that day.  Finally found that switchback, thanked it for being there and ran as fast as I could to the end of the trail that lets out on a dirt road that's probably a mile or less from the finish.  I ran into a man probably in his 70's in the 50k probably, who wondered if he was going the right way.  I assured him he was and continued on, in awe of him out here and wanting to be out here.  What was his motivation I wondered?  I admired him and hope I'll still love it at his age.  
The finish came and I snuck in at 11:49.  Barely got it, but got one goal that day.  6th place, 5th USATF.  As for my 'run my best race' and 'come away happy', I didn't have the competitive edge I wanted that day and probably didn't push myself to 100% so I didn't meet that goal completely, but I kept on and finished strong-ish and healthy.  I never got passed in the second half, that's good.  As for the 'come away happy', I laughed at myself at thinking "well, I'm happy to be done" :)  
See, I do smile, this was even the second half of the race, mile 35 or so
I'm disappointed but not depressed.  No, I didn't have a miserable day, but I was bummed at how much I had underestimated the course and competition.  I was trained well, but not specific enough for this course.  I ran too much flat, too little technical (not that I have ice covered rocks to train in, snow would have been easier).  Knowing the course would help I think, being able to train on some of those rocky downhills.  Home court advantage would rule on those.  I lost most ground there I think.

I posted a picture of a humble pie on my Instagram mostly as a joke.  The night before I posted a picture in my Wasatch Mountain Wrangler shirt in front of a big Texas clock saying "we'll see how 'technical' and 'hilly' this course really is, or I'll eat humble pie".  I posted a picture after the race of humble pie on Instagram mostly as a joke, it made me laugh at least.  But a lot of people didn't understand.  I got the "well you still ran way faster than I ever could" or "6th place isn't bad" or "don't be so hard on yourself, you did amazing!".  All well meaning thoughts and I appreciate every thought or like!!  I do!  But I wish people understood that faster than someone, doesn't mean easy, it doesn't mean I have to be happy with it because it was faster.  I had my own personal goals, big goals for this race (read the post before this if you haven't).  So while 6th place is great at a competitive race like this, it is!  It wasn't what I wanted.  Mostly, I didn't feel the way I wanted that day.  I felt flat.  
I'll learn from this, train more specifically for the next one, whatever the next one is, and be grateful for my strong, able, healthy body, and the wonderful opportunities I have to run and race.

Strong scratched sore legs heading home
along with buttered popcorn jelly belly's from my mom
Wow that turned out to be a really long post with lots of honest verbal vomit (it just keeps coming in my mind and out my mouth sometimes as my running friends will tell you, this is my journal though, public as it may be).  Here is a simple list of the equipment I used
Altra Lone Peak 2.5 - yep, got to run in a shoe not out yet and I loved it!  Good ol Lone Peak bottom (great tread, sandwiched stone guard) and an upper that feels like an improved return to the original Lone Peak.  Beautiful roomy round toe box and tough mesh.  I dare say a little lighter than the current Lone Peak.  Happy feet the entire day!
Altra Gaiters - I'll let the picture speak for itself.  They do their job well. 

Smartwool socks and long sleeve 1/4 zip - I apologize not having the model name, but they are a great thicker but not bulky wool and kept my feet warm in the wet conditions all day.  Never changed socks, never noticed my feet.  As for the shirt, it is so soft and thin, but warm too.  Love having a zipper to regulate temperature.  Considered changing it halfway through as it was damp from sweat, but didn't, and never got cold or bothered.  Expensive for a shirt, but worth the investment, especially for winter.
Icebreaker wool bra - don't picture an itchy bra.  That would be stupid.  This feels like any other sports bra but breaths better.  I don't have a whole lot to put in the bra after nursing 4 kids, but a comfortable core is important for everyone.  Did I mention I came away with zero rub spots or blisters?  Zero, anywhere.
Misc - Wore fancy ol Old Navy capri tights, comfortable, stayed in place, protected me from the sotol (on my quads anyway).  Wore a running rain jacket the first half and a light Pearl jacket the second half.  Wore a buff around my neck the whole time and a visor the last couple hours to  keep rain out of my eyes.  Some basic Polartec gloves came along for the ride too.
Ultraspire Quantum belt - I've said it before I'll say it again, I LOVE THIS BELT!  No bouncing, holds plenty in front and enough water to get me aid station to aid station in a race like this with reasonable close aid stations (I usually carried a 3rd flask in my hand I'd drink first then tuck in my bra).  I started with the new Ultraspire Astral pack, a pack I recently wore on a 31 and another 25 mile training run, both with good results, but for whatever reason, it bothered my this time and by 20 miles I had it off and I liked the shoulders free feeling (I do love the Spry pack though) so the Quantum came on for the next 42 miles.  The Astral bounced more than I liked which I don't know if it was due to only having the bladder 1/2 full, or the pack being over my rain coat, but as much as I like having my chest unstrapped, I think it helps keep it bounce free.  I'll have to keep playing with it more to love it more.
Vfuel gel - used 1 every 30 minutes the whole darn day and had zero stomach complaints and good energy.  Love how thin it is, and loved having 5-gel flasks in drop bags to carry around rather than deal with wrappers.
Elete Electrolytes - used the liquid additive in my pack initially and then was concerned about not having it in my flasks I switched to, so when I pulled one out my husband had filled and tasted the tapwater goodness it made me smile, I love that taste, really!  When I had plain water I'd use the electrolyte pills, even shared one with a downed fellow runner.  Hope it helped him as much as they help me!
First Endurance Pre Race - Bought these pills to experiment with and mostly to use at night in 100 milers, but turns out they provide great energy boosts for several hours in the day too!  I took 2 doses 4 hours apart and then half a dose 90 minutes before finishing and was pleased with the results.  I don't feel high or jittery or crazy energy, but I feel a boost and feel steady and I like that.  I save them for racing or really desperate training runs.  I also took Optygen HP for a bit over a month which I like too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bandera 100k pre-race

I had been toying with the idea of racing Bandera 100k in Texas much of the last 8 months.  I committed in the fall and started training.  My husband wasn't so sure.  We weren't sure how we were going to afford to get out there.  It really truly wasn't in the budget.  But I had faith, and believed something would work out, and I'd train as if I was going out.  And something did work out.
Why is Bandera so important?  There are plenty of ultras out there, plenty of races right here in Utah.  But Bandera is part of the Montrail Ultra cup which can qualify me for Western States 100, the Super Bowl of ultrarunning, a race I really want to run.  And want to run this year in case we decide to have another baby after I finish nursing school.  Speaking of that, I chose Bandera because it is the weekend before I start my hardest semester of nursing school.  Not because I enjoy abstaining from all Christmas sugary neighbor gifts.

My training has gone so well!  I kept it on the low side mileage wise because I was building up from recovering from RRR 100.  I would rather be undertrained than over, but I don't feel like I'm particularly undertrained.  Just because I'm not running 100 mile weeks (not even close) doesn't mean I'm not in great shape.  Every workout has been quality, no junk miles.  Every run has had a purpose and structure.  I have recovered SO well and nailed my last several long runs, nailed them.  My massage guy Heber laughs when I come in to see him because I don't have much for him to do.  At my last appointment last week he said my muscles felt like gold, no issues at all.  I am so excited!

The weather at Bandera is not what I was expecting.  Right now it looks like 34-37 degrees and possible precipitation.  And it's humid there (just outside of San Antonio) which will make it feel even colder.  I was a little disappointed not to get to race and vacation in warmth, but you know what?  This is a good thing.  This weather favors me.  Most competitors are from warm states where this kind of weather is foreign and might cause panic.  I don't wish any ill on my competitors, I would hope no one does.  I am just trying to focus really hard on racing my best race and coming away happy.  And racing in conditions I'm comfortable with is an advantage to that plan.  I'm also coming from higher altitude, mountain terrain to handle their hills, been taking my vitamins, haven't had sugar in a month (outside of fruit of course) and heck, I even got PMS sore boobs earlier this week when I was expecting them during race weekend.  Deal.

I've had some great email and in person conversations with Altra teammates and other wonderful friends and of course have a very supportive husband who wants this for me too.  Of course he has his moments in this selfish endeavor of mine, but he's a champ.  The biggest thanks to all of them/you!  I've kept extremely positive thinking up, keeping any negative out, for months now with my eye on the prize.  2 men and 2 women will walk away with a spot to Western States.  It can roll down to 5th if those in the top 4 don't want a spot or already have one, but I am going in planning for top 2.  It is a little scary and a lot of pressure to not simply just want to have a good race, like at Lake Sonoma or UROC, other national races, but to need a certain place, but I want this.  I've put in the effort and am ready to put it all out there on Saturday.  My heart is really into this!  I want to have the race of my life, a race to surprise me, or even just go according to plan, just like my PR marathon race last December, the same race run after a short but quality training period and one that was run in unseasonably cold temperatures for the area.  Call me superstitious if you will (I do sometimes), but I'm taking that and running with it.

You can follow the race via UltraSportsLive I believe. I am bib 132

*Forgive all the bolds, I plan to look at this over the next week for continued motivation and strength.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Wanted to do a quick year in review post.  I have no idea how many miles I've run, elevation feet I've gained/lost, I run pretty low key, rarely wearing a watch.  But I did have a great year with a lot of fun and really great accomplishments.

Feb - ran Moab 55k in 11th place.  Big confidence booster to place ahead of a well known name too.
March - Antelope Island 50k.  2nd place, 5:15 or something like that.  Ran super conservative first half, enjoyed a faster second half, great training, great friends.
April - Lake Sonoma 50!  8th place!  My first big deal race and I met my goal of top 10.  Another huge confidence boost to have a cool paragraph written about me on iRunFar, something about being the "breakout race" for the women.  Also was recognized by iRunFar writer Megan on the plane ride over.  Hadn't been recognized like that before.
May - went under the course record with friend and winner Britta Trep at the Timp Trail Marathon.  Ran a WAY faster time than I expected.  My first time under a course record I think.  Also ran my husband's first 50 miles with him across Zion.  Was great to support him and be with him the whole way.
June - Won and set the course record at my first 100, the Bryce 100!!  Had a really rough night sleep wise but held on sans pacer.
July - open water sprint triathlon for fun, 2nd place.  Slogged through Speedgoat 50k with a reasonable finish considering I got in a few days before the race.  12th place, could have been top 10 if I hadn't pooped out the last 6.  Speedgoat is a beast.
September -  survived another solo 100 miler (well I did have rockstar pacers for 8 miles, but did the other 99 on my own) with a 4th place finish at Run Rabbit Run 100.  Proud of the money I was able to earn and finishing, but left me hungry still.  Enjoyed a great Altra Elite Athlete Summit.
October - jumped into a road marathon and ran a 3:19, 3rd place.  I'll take it.  Got to participate in an Altra photo/video shoot.
November - raced a little local reverse order pool tri, Telos Turkey Tri.  Ran the fastest run split, under 20:00.  Survived in 1st longer on the bike than I expected, and hung on for 2nd in the swim, finishing closer to 1st than I thought.
December - recognized as a top 50 ultra running woman in the world!
I've been training strong and happy and recovering so well!  I can't wait to kick off 2015 with Bandera 100k next week and have another breakthrough race!

Can't forget all the great group runs I went on too, I'm thankful for many good friends!
In real life my husband and I took our kids to Disneyland on their first plane ride in January, and took an awesome trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton this summer.  We also enjoyed a whole week of almost completely uninterrupted family time as just our little family of 6 during this holiday season.
I had the privilege of acting as doula for and helping 3 women have beautiful babies, and I started nursing school in August.  Whew!
Also thankful for great sponsors and brands I get to work with including Altra Footwear, Elete Electrolytes, Vfuel, Ultraspire, and Bodyworx massage.  I believe in each of them and use them everyday.
Hope your 2014 was great and 2015 will be even better!  
Get out and be happy!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What a way to end 2014!

I will do a year in review post in the next week or so, but just wanted to share this super awesome exciting piece of news.  So I saw on my teammate and friend Jason Schlarb's Facebook page a link from someone showing he was in the top 100 men for Skyrunning Federation world rankings.  Cool!  Didn't particularly surprise me, he's an awesome runner.  So I wandered on there to read the other names for fun, including the women's list, wondering if I'd recognize any names since this was a world list.  Reading along, and what did I see?

HOLY COW!  I saw MY name!  #46.  I was so totally surprised.  Honestly I didn't even know this ranking excited and certainly didn't know they were following my results.  Also didn't know I had run 3 of their ranking races (well I knew Speedgoat was, but not the others).  I had to pick my jaw up off the floor but did not wipe the huge smile and awe off my face for quite a while.  I am so honored to be on this list and it sure sends a surge of excitement and motivation to me.  I won't sandbag and say I'm just average, I believe I'm a talented runner, a strong and smart runner, and I love to run and compete.  I just did not picture myself on this list, but you know what?  This wasn't a popularity contest, I earned it.  This married, mom of 4 nursing student.  Wow!

You can see the entire women's world top 50 list here, and the main article about both men and women here.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Run Rabbit Run 100 - Accomplished but not satisfied

*Brief summary a few paragraphs down*
RRR has a tortoise and hare division.  Anyone can enter either, but only hares compete for prize money, start 4 hours later, and cannot have a pacer.  Despite the promise I made myself at Bryce that I would not do another 100 without a pacer, I signed up as a hare.  I've felt a lot better about Bryce in the last couple months and wanted to compete with the fast girls to see where I'd match up. 
I came into RRR ranked 8th hare woman.  Prize money went to top 7 (turned out only top 5 by race start since they hadn't had enough women sign up as hares) and I wasn't that concerned with prize money, but it seemed like a good goal to aim for, to be in the money.  I also wanted to break 24 hours.
My Elevation Tat (LOVE them) and a few of the kids matching tats the day we left
The fancy rental got my excitement going!
I've had good training going into RRR.  Several 26 mile plus training runs, 2 night runs mostly alone, with minimal caffeine, that both went way better than Bryce.  I got child care arranged for our 4 kids who we left at home since they had school and we had work out there, I got all my nursing school tests rearranged and took 3 in one week, but finally we were on our way!  My husband and I drove out with friend and fellow Altra employee and social guru Caitlyn.
My awesome Altra cofounder husband speaking at pre race mtg.  Altra was the title sponsor
Prerace meeting and atmosphere was fun and a good feeling.  I spent too much of the night planning and packing drop bags (meant to do it before we left) but still managed to be in bed by 10:30.  I have to say I really enjoyed the noon start.  Got up when I felt like it and really slept since I wasn't paranoid I'd miss my alarm.  Had a casual breakfast and finished getting ready and headed out the door at ease and not sleepy into the sunshine, not cold twilight.  The air at the start too was exciting, I awkwardly slid into women start pictures and introduced myself to a few and after what felt like a forever wait, we were off.
Felt like a slight photo bomb on my part
Brief Summary: Didn't feel great the first 3 hours, worried me. Had to spend the first hour going straight uphill. Came into mile 21 30-40 min ahead of 24 hour pace. Ultra running rockstar Jason Schlarb paced me for 4 miles. Had a good next 25 mile loop and ran with a nice guy for some. We both saw a bear staring at us 20 feet ahead that turned out to be a tree stump. Had a 2 minute 12th wedding anniversary celebration at mile 41 (you'll have to read the long version to see where that went). Had another great all star pacer for 4 miles back up into the mountains, Duncan Callahan. Moved well through the night, stayed warm with some interesting attire choices. Staying awake and nutrition went much better than Bryce. Threw a temper tantrum in front of my husband and Jason Schlarb at mile 70. Climbed in our car at mile 74 for 15 minutes. Suffered hard, cried, prayed, hurt, heard things, and moved slow for the next 30 miles (6-7 hours). Was very thankful to be done. Spent the next 24 hours curled up feeling physically horrible in bed except for the quick jaunt to awards that was awesome. 

Long version:

The first 4.5 miles are pretty much all uphill, much of it steep, a 1/4 mile of it straight up the ski slope Speedgoat style.  Can't say I like warming up that way.  And speaking of warm, it was hot out! It was fun to get to talk to Nikki Kimball for a few minutes on our way up.  She's very nice.  Had a freight train of about a dozen lead male runners come charging at me after they went off course and were on their way back.  That was humorous but at least early in the race.  I was a little behind 24 hour split time by the time we got to the top and from there my legs just didn't feel great.  I got cold up there too after sweating so much the hour previous. The first 2.5 hours did not feel as easy as I would have liked them and it was easy to get worried, but I tried to be patient.  Ran with a nice guy for some.  Watched a Mtn biker spend 20 seconds checking out the woman in front of me. I was still behind time by aid station 2, Long Lake, and the legs were still a little grumpy with some knee pain here and there, and it was warmer than I expected, but eventually things came together and I finally got into a groove.
Heading down Fish Creek.  Thank you Paul for the great photo!
Looks fun eh?  A little more realistic photo of what this section was like.  Tricky.
The run down to Fish Creek was long and quite technical for some which slowed me but surprisingly I came into Fish Creek almost 45 minutes ahead of schedule.  Yes!  Was great to see people I knew again, my husband and the Altra video crew that was up there covering the race.  I moved quickly through the aid station since fellow hare Sally McRae and another girl I had also passed in the last 10 miles were right behind me.  They'd made good time on the descent.  As I started running out, teammate Jason Schlarb (who just finished 4th at UTMB, woah) on his bike, asked if he could ride next to me to the next aid station.  I'd forgotten where we were and that this was the 4 mile road pacer section to stay safe from cars, but I said yes.  It was SO neat to have him with me.  This amazing world class ultra runner asked if he could ride next to and pace me.  He was so attentive and caring about me and my pace and race and was wonderful to have along side me.  The Altra video guys passed us with one sitting on top of the moving van filming.  Crazy guys.  Was fun to hear their cheers though. 
Coming into Fish Creek Aid Station

So back to the race.  I left that aid station first but Sally came quickly behind and passed me strong, I figured using her marathon background now that we were on the road.  I didn't try to keep up with her, but turns out Jason and I rode 20 feet behind her the whole time anyway.  We all got stuck at a stoplight and I don't know that she was too thrilled to see me pull up along side her.  We ran together into the Olympian aid station and thanks to Jeremy, I left first feeling great.  Still 30-40 minutes ahead of schedule.

This next section was about 20 miles and it felt like it, but wasn't too bad.  Lots of climbing, gentle descending then more climbing.  I ran into a guy I'd run with the rest of that loop with and it was nice to talk to someone.  At one point in a very remote section of this course not near any exit route, just as it was getting time to turn our headlamps on, we both slowed cautiously at the same time.  We both asked each other if that was a bear staring us down 20 feet ahead.  It looked just like a bear.  We both saw it separately before bringing it up.  We moved forward slowly and it turns out it was a tree stump that looked nothing like a bear up close.  So strange to have both seen it though.  That is probably the closest thing to a hallucination I've had.   We carried on through the loop a little impatient at times thinking the top had to have been here by now.  Ran into an older man in the tortoise division with no headlamp and no warm layer and it was dark now.  We wanted to help him but neither of us had anything extra and he said to go on.  We knew there were people behind us so trusted he'd be ok.  We picked our headlamps up at the previous aid station when it was plenty light.  It's always best to have something before you'll need it.  We continued on in good spirits and I was excited to get back to Olympian because I had a special surprise waiting.

My husband is great at having everything close by the check in point ready for me so I can take right off.  And indeed he was there and ready, so when I ushered him inside the building behind us he wasn't too keen. That day, September 12th was our 12th anniversary, so with the help of a friend I packed an extra drop bag she set up for me for a little moment for us.  He only let me have a sip, but it was nice to surprise him and spend a minute about us, not just me.  And I was in a good mood and not worried about the extra 5 minutes we were taking.
Awe!  I know, so cute.  It was fun to plan and execute and was definitely a high point of the race

From there another teammate Duncan Callahan (2 time winner of Leadville 100) would pace me back up the 4 mile road section.  He was just as great as Jason and I loved my time with them.  He pushed a grilled cheese on me that went down fine.  It was starting to get chilly and my calves had felt a tad strained before the race and here and there during so I decided to throw some compression socks on. My injinjis still felt good so put the compression on over them. I had shoes 1/3 size bigger than usual and had heard people wearing 2 pair before, so figured I'd be fine. 

Headed off into the dark of night and back up rocky Fish Creek. It was so much more enjoyable going up. The moon was out and bright. I moved quickly and felt great and was running into lots of tortoises now. I was glad to see most were dressed so warmly with pants and jackets. Did fine with just my arm warmers and gloves but was ready for my jacket by the next aid station, Long Lake. 
When I got there there was frost crusted on my drop bag. People huddled around the fire. I didn't get anywhere near them. A wonderful aid station volunteer hand fed me ramen while I put my jacket on and dug into my pack for caffeine. Wasn't feeling sleepy but figured it might be good to start it early so I could take a second dose around sleepy hours. It was about midnight at this point. 
Got out of that aid station quickly and headed up the dark dirt road to the high point elevation wise on the course. 10,000+ I believe. I quickly realized it was colder than I thought. I had one buff on like a wide headband/ear warmer, and the other around my neck which would keep my face warm if I put the back of it over the brim of my backward hat so that it would stay over my nose/mouth/chin. My legs were cold though. I had tights waiting ahead, but they were a good 90 min+ away. So I improvised. Out from my pack came the short sleeve merino wool Icebreaker shirt I had for just in case and up over my hips it went. With just a few popped seams....Perfect skirt though!  Knee length, stretchy body con style that really made a difference. 
I wish we could have seen what was up there, it looked like it would have been beautiful. I met a man that started ultras a few years ago at the young age of 60. So cool.  He was running right along side me when I encouraged him to come too! This sport has such age longevity, gives me comfort that decades from now I can still be doing this. 

We pulled into the Summit aid station a little earlier than I was expecting which was great. The scene inside though was a battlefield. All men, most young and fit, huddled in chairs and blankets around the heater with warm food in hand. They looked like zombies. I think many were hares ahead of me. I wanted to push them to get out of there. I grabbed a chair super fast and got my tights on. Glanced at food but nothing looked good so I was off. 

Ahead of me lay a 8 mile downhill dirt road in solid dark and cold. I was excited to see tortoises and lead hares coming back up the road, but it was hard to make out who anyone was so it was kind of quiet out there. I recall seeing teammate Josh heading up and asked him how he was doing. He said he was in second and I didn't think I heard him right so I said "2?!".  That was so neat for him, I was happy he was having such a good day (he would go on the finish 2nd, amazing). I let my legs open up a little bit on this downhill road but tried to keep things under control. I finally got into the Dry Lake aid station hoping to see my husband, who wasn't there. It was a bit of a let down. Crews have so much driving to do and get hungry and tired too, I need to be more autonomous mentally sometimes and be prepared mentally for him to not be there. I pack drop bags so that he doesn't have to be there with stuff, it's just his presence I like having. Anyway, I was only 15 minutes up on 24 hour pace now. Seemed strange considering I ran it down at a quicker pace than what I thought 24 hour pace was, but that's what it was. So I decided on this next 3.5 mile downhill to the mile 70 "turn around" Spring Ponds aid station that I would push some. I told myself I wouldn't race or push till mile 70, but I wanted to put some time back on that sub 24 pace and get to the turnaround that mentally would be a big box checked feeling like we were heading back to the finish now. I estimated at the effort I was running, those 3.5 miles would take 35 minutes.
This.  Right here, is what brings hope.  This simple lit open canopy with a few people and some food.
I don't run with GPS but I really felt like I was running 8-9 minute miles, no slower.  It felt a little reckless, but I was confident, it was basically the last 30 miles now after all, time to race.  35 minutes came, and I was still in total darkness, no sign of the lit up aid station I was waiting for.  I was ok though.  40 minutes came, no sign, getting pretty pissed now.  Seeing some lead women head up though, that was nice to know I wasn't too far off them (since I assumed the aid station/turn around was right around the corner...).  45 minutes has passed.  SERIOUSLY?!  There's no way I'm running 11 minute miles, where the heck is the aid station?!  I saw teammate and friend Zac at this point and asked where the aid station was.  His response "oh it's super close, you're almost there, like 1/2 mile away".  1/2 MILE AWAY?!  Oh I was fuming now.  50 minutes later and an emotional angry mess I finally ran into it, after wandering around a fence unsure of how to get into it.  My husband, and teammate Jason were cheering and hollering and telling me how well I was doing and I was just angry and being sharp and mean with them.  I was so angry it took so much longer and that I was now not ahead, not on, but BEHIND goal time.  Grrr!  I wasn't really angry at them, but in my mind it was like they'd moved the aid station or lied to me about where it would be or something.  Totally irrational.  I was so anxious to see my husband and have a hug and I let my anger get in the way of it. They told me to calm down and that I was doing fine, but I was just so mad and took off as fast as I could.  Looking back I'm so embarrassed of my behavior and how I handled my emotions.  So what I thought was 3.5 miles turned out to be 4.5 miles - by MY mistake.  I read my elevation tat wrong.  50 minutes still sounds way slower than I thought it would be, but more reasonable when you consider it was a mile longer than what I thought.

So I trudged grumpily back up the way I came, over what must have been 18 little bridges.  Took forever.  Near the top I was getting sleepy, pretty darn sleepy.  I told myself at Bryce 100 that if it got bad I would allow myself 20 min of sleep in a safe warm place.  I figured I was way behind 24 hour pace at this point and by my estimates at least 90 minutes ahead of the next woman, leaving my 4th place position intact for now, so I went for it.  I didn't want to experience Bryce sleepiness again, especially when I wouldn't be done at dawn, more like noon because of the noon start.  Met my husband at the aid station and told him I was sleeping.  He didn't question me.  Climbed in the SUV after not seeing anywhere in the AS tent and bundled up best I could.  I told him to wake me up in 20 minutes no questions asked.  And then it took me 15 minutes to fall asleep.  I thought for sure I'd be out like a light like at Bryce but no luck.  I asked/begged for more sleep when he woke me, but he was strong like I wanted him to be and got me out of the car.  I didn't feel any better rested really.  I  SO did not want to get out of the car and carry on.  I mean I didn't want to quit and DNF, especially with no good reason and still in prize money contention, but I just had little motivation and the looming pressure of 6-8 hours alone, ahead of me.  I wouldn't see my husband until the end of the race.

It was still cold and I didn't want any hint of cold, so I put on about every layer we had.  I looked ridiculous and shed many of them within minutes.  Actually had a really hard time with temperature regulation the rest of the early morning (it was around 6am now I think).  When we were running down the long dirt road hours ago, I enjoyed it, but feared going back up it, feared how long it would take.  And it did.  Man that road took forever.  My husband drove by 1 more time and it was a strange feeling to let him drive away from me, to know my out was leaving.  I power hiked much of this dirt road when I should have run.  I was just so zapped physically and emotionally, I was cold, I was tired.  This wasn't fun.  It actually really sucked.  FINALLY got up to the summit AS and really truly considered pulling out.  $2000 of prize money that my little family could really use was looming heavy on me.  I wasn't injured, just wasted.  I would have no good DNF reason or story.  Believe me, I went through that one in my head for an hour leading up to the aid station.  I found no good way I'd explain it to my kids or my friends.  But I was not having a good time.  At all.  And running really should be.  I didn't expect to be feeling great, but this was really bad.  Worse than I felt like I was trained to be feeling like.  My eyes were so heavy and body was weak and shaky.  I wasn't taking in as many calories as usual, but didn't feel like I really needed them with all the walking and the cold.  Leaving that aid station felt like my last chance and it too felt lonely and worrisome leaving like with my husband earlier.  Way behind 24 hour goal pace now.
This was shortly after the last pic, but my face shows my general self the rest of the race.  Tired and worn
At this point there were only 2 aid stations left, but they were each about 10 miles apart.  I was walking 85% of the time now.  To run was to literally talk myself into it and force my body to trot for 50 yards or so.  To think I was covering no more than 4 miles an hour was so intimidating.  Intimidating because contact with people and coke was at least 2.5 hours away, and intimidating because at that pace, the race was going to take at least 5 more hours to finish, AT LEAST.  Funny how I can leave for 5 hour training run and not think much of it, time passes pretty fast.  But this 5+ hours sounded crushing.  20 miles sounded SO far to walk/occasionally run.  I started hearing things now, whether it was an animal, or a person catching me, neither of which I saw of course.  I was struggling so hard, harder than I ever have physically and mentally.  Bryce's struggle was the hardest I ever have, but only sleep wise, I still felt ok energy and leg wise.  I prayed in my head almost constantly, pleading for support, for my mind to change from the horrible discouragement I felt.  I turned on the few Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs I have on my ipod (my regular music hadn't been doing anything for me for hours, and I needed the spiritual uplifting).  I even stopped and knelt to pray once.  I couldn't do this.  And this wasn't staying in 4th or racing, I didn't feel like I could complete 100 miles today.  But I wanted to get through it.  I needed His help and I needed it badly.  Some point soon after, the thought "This is hard, and I'm doing it, I can do hard things" or something close to that entered my mind.  And I repeated it over and over and over for hours to will myself forward.

I got to the long lake AS at mile 90-92, can't remember.  While I was happy to see them, there really wasn't much I wanted from them, I just needed to keep going and get this over with.  Leading up to this aid station I was getting concerned that I was going to get passed anytime.  At my pace, there's no way I couldn't not get passed.  I asked them if they had a DNF list from previous aid stations, hoping for the security of not having to hurry the last 10+ miles, being able to walk without worry sounded nice.  But they didn't have it.  I had no way to know how close others were.  So I left to get on with it.  At this point, my feet hurt really badly.  It wasn't a blister issue (I would finish the race with zero blisters, just like Bryce and every other race I've done since being in Altra's), but the balls of my feet were just on fire, they were so tender.  Didn't happen in Bryce, but it was happening here.  I ran into a guy also having a rough morning and we decided to carry on together.  Most of the time it was me trying to keep up with him either because he was moving faster, or I was stopping.  I stopped to squat a few times, but usually it was my feet.  They hurt so very badly that I would stop and just press on the large bunion on each foot trying to relieve pain.  I'd walk on the outside of my feet to avoid the pain, or just clench my fists and want to cry.  Sometimes I did.  I complained to him an awful lot and he was pretty patient.  It was also in this section before the last aid station that I thought I heard Sally's voice behind me several times, giggly and happy, catching up to me.  I didn't know how she hadn't yet, but I couldn't be within 10 miles of the finish and get caught now.  I'd been struggling since 70, how could I give up that $2000 now with less than 10 miles to go.  I would hurry as fast as I can, especially around corners or in open spaces to at least not be seen by her.  It was nothing against her, but honestly I did want to finish in front of her. I feel like we're similar competitors and I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish in front of her, a very talented runner.  I told him I heard her and he wasn't sure he did, but I did.  We hurried as fast as we could (and by hurry I mean 12 minute miles).  He made a comment on how badly I must want it with the desperate shuffle I had.  We were anticipating an aid station any time, but it was hiding.  It had been 30 minutes since I thought we would be there and it was no where in sight.  Ugh.  We came around a few bends we thought were the last and finally saw what we thought was the saddle we'd go over to drop back down into the ski resort but it was far too far away.  And we were at like mile 96-98 according to him.  That couldn't be it.  It was of course.  We got up there and I pulled the whole "did you guys move the AS, how many miles left" line, only to be given a big smile and "6 more miles".  6 more miles?!  Wait what?  This is a 102 mile race and we were at like 100 right now.  6 more miles means a whole nother' hour, at least!  Oh my.  I left before my new friend just desperate to be done, to get off my feet, and to not get passed by Sally.  It was all downhill service road from here, sometimes steep, all of it super painful on my feet.  I had to power hike down some of it, yes down because of my feet.  I'd stop every once in a while and cry out in pain and rub my shoe over the ball of my foot/bunion.  I kept my eyes up the switchbacks behind me and still didn't see another woman, but couldn't be sure.  I looked back a lot.  I saw Duncan about half way down and gave him an honest look for the moment.  Sheer pain and torture.  He told me to put on a smile, the whole team was down there waiting for me.  I wanted to smack him for his good natured comment, I couldn't imagine smiling right now.  3 more miles was still half an hour left to run and boy did it look it as I'd look below me and not see the lodges getting any closer.  There were a few spots I was concerned about flagging because at some point we'd get off the road and onto single track and can you imagine getting lost right on top of the finish??  I found the right spot and figured we had to be so close, but just like everything else I thought was close, it wasn't (relatively speaking).  We had to wind down the trail for a while until finally seeing it.  We would cross a bridge at some point but I wasn't sure where it was, I had to ask our video guy.  I saw the finish.  I was embarrassed at my time and how far behind the other women I was and how long the video crew had probably been there, but I was finally going to be done.  I put my hand over my mouth some out of relief but mostly to cover my crying face of frustration.  I was done though.  107 miles.  25:08.  4th place
Yep, that face pretty  much sums up how I felt at the moment.  I look like a dork
Felt a little bit better sitting in the stream.  Reflecting on the day, surrounded by caring friends.
I enjoyed my husband and cried to him how hard that was and that the last 35 miles were so bad.  I enjoyed him and our friends showing me so much support, but I was disappointed with my day (and night and day).  Especially when I found out Sally had dropped early in the night.  Yep.  She hadn't been following me since mile 60.  Wow.  I was so disappointed to not have gotten to race her.  I was so thankful I would bring home $2000, but sad I didn't get to race her, or several other women who dropped out.  I almost felt like I won it by default and that wasn't what I wanted (no disrespect at all to those women several hours behind me).  I was able to eat some pizza and drink my recovery drink thankfully and we wandered back to the condo.

Now I started feeling awful though, as I expected to (any ultra over 50 miles I've done my body revolts badly the next 24 hours).  I felt my heart race, felt all the heat in my body over 24 hours radiating around me, my breathing was tight and short and made me nervous.  I even called my nurse practitioner mom I was worried enough.  I know she would have liked me to go to the ER for an IV and to be watched.  She always worries about rhabdo (where your kidneys basically get overworked and shut down).  My stomach was super angry and every muscle I had clenched.  I stayed in bed all afternoon with a bucket next to me and cold washcloths on my forehead and chest, not even able to walk far enough to the living room of our condo without needing to sit and hold my bucket.  I didn't go to dinner with my teammates :(  I did want to go to awards though, when the heck else was I going to be able to accept a check for money like that?!  So we very slowly loaded me in the car and then I very slowly walked to awards.  Carrying a bag in my pocket to throw up in if needed.  I had lots of sweet people come talk to me which was wonderful, many congratulations given.  Thank you friends and strangers!  Although I felt awkward there standing on a podium by myself since the top 3 women who all knew and hugged each other were awarded separately, it was wild holding a $2000 check.
L to R: Altra teammates Nick Clark (5th) and Josh Arthur (2nd)
That made the day worth it, but as my title states, I am not satisfied with the race.  Some things went better.  Nutrition was good, no real sour stomach.  Sleep went better than Bryce and I learned the nap may not be worth it in the future, more time up at night practicing like I did between Bryce and RRR is what will help more.  I rocked miles 30-70 and felt great going up the mountain from 10pm-4am.  My time didn't end up being that much slower than 24 hours all things considered (but by the same thought, I imagine I could have finished in the 23's or possibly high 22's with a better day).
But I felt I was trained to handle those last 30 miles, far better than I did.  I do not want to slog 30+ miles like I did.  Again, I don't except them to feel like the first or even middle 30, but I believe they can be run and can feel better than what I experienced.  That is the biggest reason I'm not satisfied with RRR 2014, I didn't perform a large amount of miles, the way I prepared to.  I don't know why my 2nd day went like it did, but it did.  I think improvement will come with time, simply with physical experience. Aside from not putting compression socks over my wool socks (possible cause for my bunion pain, I would and will wear the Paradigm again), I don't really have much to pull from this race that will help me with the next.  I have heard many times and get that I finished while others did not, I know, and I am proud that I finished it, happy to have finished 4th even if it was several hours off 3rd place, but I wish Sally hadn't had to drop, I wish teammate Becky hadn't had to drop, I wish I'd felt better and competed the last 30 miles, not just completed.  
*Note: please do not think that 'just' completing is not good enough. It is!  I enjoy racing this way, competitively with time and place goals because it's how I like to race. It does not make it the right or only way to run or race. My hat is off to all who come and play!*  
I would be happier with a 4th place that was within 59 min or less of 3rd place.  To feel like I really belong with those ladies, not chasing their tails.
Always grateful for the chance to race, for a body that went 100+ miles even if it wasn't like I wanted it to, for family and friends who support and make this possible and for time in the wilderness.  This was rough, but I look forward to doing it again (just not with a noon start, a finish at or before dawn is my preference I think) and learning more about the distance and figuring it out.

Race directing score: A-  They did a great job and it's worth your time and money, just lacked a touch of markings here and there, particularly would have liked some "5 miles to go, 1 mile to go, 1/2 mile to go" signs at the end even a 1/2 mile to aid station if I'm being spoiled.  And maybe an extra aid station on the middle miles loop.  Scenery was great, but not amazing (I have high expectations for amazing since I like in the Wasatch)
Shoes: Altra Paradigm.  Same pair, all 178 miles.  Ok, ok, 107.  Loved them, no complaints.  Order 1/2 size up from other Altra's especially for ultras.
Nutrition: Vfuel.  Elete electrolytes.  Had a good day nutritionally, thanks guys!
Gear: Ultraspire quantum belt ($16 at TAUR shop right now, can't beat it, buy it, seriously, right now), Softflask 8oz flask I held (very useful), Nathan Vaporshape vest miles 50-80, Ultraspire Spry miles 80-107 (another excellent product, small-medium capacity vest, I run with it more than any of my vests, also on sale right now at TAUR).

Post race we had a 3 day Altra Athlete Summit discussing all things Altra and having a great time as teammates.  There were photo shoots, hot springs, lots of great food, even a helicopter ride over the course which was pretty neat!  Thanks to my husband for organizing it, it went great!
LtoR: Duncan C, Jimmy S, Larisa D, Angela S, me, Zac M, Josh A, Jason S, Nick C, Josh P, Jen P