Monday, May 23, 2016

Female distance runner, thin AND healthy - it's a thing

I have no idea how this post will go over. It's simply my thoughts and I am looking to win over no one. I have seen so many articles lately written by both men and women about the great perpetuity of eating disorders, particularly in distance running. I will acknowledge right now that they do exist. And I pray for those struggling with the real problem it is. But what I'm not happy with is the feeling I get that some of these article's authors seem to pit any thin, fast, long distance female runner as unhealthy or one with an eating disorder. I know that's a generalization, but it's how it feels to me. And here's my problem with it. I am a thin, fast, long distance female runner, have been for 16 years - and I am neither unhealthy nor do I have or have I ever suffered from an eating disorder. And I don't want this to belittle anyone at all that has or is struggling with one, but why do we have to be so politically correct?  My big beef here is not that others might assume I have an eating disorder, it's that because of all this writing about it and the stigma, that my daughters will think I do. 

My daughters know their mama is strong, that their mama runs a lot, and that she can share some of her clothes with their 12 year old sister. But it's not because I am unhealthy. This is my frame, it's my build. The same one my non-athletic twin sister shares, ironically minus some of the bulk I have. Sure some of it could be the miles I run and the good food I generally eat, but I have never altered the miles I run or the food I eat to be thinner. I have honestly never considered losing weight to get faster. I don't want my girls to think that watching and worrying about their weight is the way to get better in their sport, and with all the talk of the epidemic eating disorders are amongst athletes, sometimes I fear that's what they'll interpret. 

I may very well be the anomaly here with my thinking, but I kind of don't think so. I don't know why I wrote this, but it's been on my mind lately. Strong, thin, healthy, fast, female, distance runner are all words that can get along. Let's try it. 

*And while we're at it, why don't I hear more blame or accountability toward coaches?  Seems like much of these disorders stem from a coach's pressure or influence. I'm postitive there are many amazing coaches, I've experienced some!  But I find it funny that in the women I know personally who have struggled, it came from the outside pressure of a coach. Let's instill hard work and clean eating and positive body image in our coaches and then athletes as enough to achieve their goals. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Early season happenings - skiing, injury, track race, Buffalo 50k, bosho

Forgive my everything-in-one post.  I just need to get it all down and checked off the life to-do list

So the plan after Wasatch 100 was to take an off season.  A real one.  Like I haven't had in several years.  You can only push the body so long and I didn't want to push those limits.  I want decades in this sport enjoying my body and what's around me.  
Well, then  TNF 50 came up as an Altra USATF team event and I jumped.  I still had the fitness, would just need to tune it up for a month or so and then would take that off season.  And for the first month I so enjoyed it!  I loved not having to go out in the frigid cold or wind or chunky icy trails or roads.  This break was good, I wasn't itching for it to be over.  We skid several times as a family which was SO fun!  So neat to see my kids be so into and active.  Truth moment?  My kids are really whiny about getting outside and being active, and sometimes are lazier than kids should be, and that's hard for my active husband and I.  It feels like we're not teaching them something or not teaching effectively.  So to have our whole family out on the mountain, even if it is green runs for the baby and I (and they're my comfort zone), was so good!

These two kids, our 10 and 8 year old are animals on the slopes!  They get a kick out of having to wait for their mom :)

And then this happened.  First week of January at Outdoor Retailer Demo Day at Snowbird my husband encouraged me to go on this beginner backcountry guided ski tour as I do really like skinning up, but need more practice going back down.  Which made itself very clear 2 turns into my first big powder experience.  With a crust hidden underneath.  Yep, sprained my ankle bad.  Bad enough I thought I broke it and the guide offered to call a helicopter since there was no way I could ski on this thing.  Um, no thank you.  So I spent the next hour awkwardly and painfully hiking down in my ski boots with a snowshoe group that was heading down.  Ugh.  
 Long story short, it took way longer to heal than I expected.  This getting older thing?  A reality!  Ligaments are always slower to heal though and I just didn't have the patience for it.  But I was a good patient and used crutches for a week, didn't run for at least 4 weeks I think, and even swimming was out, too much ankle movement.  So at least I got a nice long off season for the rest of the body eh?  Like I predicted would probably happen though, the generally advised 8 weeks would come by, and I'd be ok.  And that's about how it went.  But those 8 weeks had me pretty worried.

During my time off, my husband decided out of the blue he wanted to do the Antelope Canyon 50, except only the best parts scenery wise.  And he certainly wasn't in shape for a 33 mile day, but we had hoped he could just go slow and take care of himself and enjoy a long day on the amazing course.  I so wanted him to have a good experience, because his last big thing, the Zion Traverse a few years ago, left him not wanting to do anything like that again.  Kids and I saw him around 13 and he complained a little but was fine.  Missed him at 20 or so which I hated, but I hear he was in good spirits.  And then we saw him come into around mile 28.  NOT HAPPY.  He was hot, tired, worn out from miles of sand and simply miles beyond what his body was prepared for.  He was discouraged and emotional.  All things I have been many times and while friends teased us that he would have to give me a real hard time to make up for how whiny and grumpy I can be during crew stops, I was happy to be there and take care of him!  I knew not to take anything personally, I knew to offer him what I knew could help, but not to offer too much when his brain was fried, and to not get upset if he said no to everything.  I was worried how he would handle these next 5 miles, knew he wanted to be done, but the best canyon to come was thankfully in front of him and I was able to get him out of there.  And it was the best feeling ever to see him 5 miles later, smiling and running to his finish for the day.  He did a big thing for him, and he was happy, and I'm so happy it went that way!

Back home, able to run up to 9 miles fine on paved surfaces, certainly no trail, I decided to get the competitive juices flowing again with an indoor 440m half marathon at the Utah Olympic Oval.  I have done a 50k here before, so wasn't too worried about the boredom side of it, I enjoyed that 50k.  Got there literally 2 minutes before the start, story of my life, and squirmed my way up to the front hoping to run with friend Ari (center in the photo below) but didn't quite make it.  And she is a beast who took off and I never would have stayed with anyway.  Good news, ankle was good for half the race.  Bad news, it didn't feel great for the other half and neither did I.  Just felt so heavy and forced and mentally  not there.  There was slow office music playing overhead the whole time and I forgot my own music.  Anyway, it was good to get the miles, but didn't leave me with the excitement races usually do.  Ran a high 1:3something.  2nd place.  Was slower than I expected, but it seemed like everyone was without the aid of any downhill.

Skip forward a month and I had been enjoying my time on the paved trails close to home, really!  Pavement doesn't have to suck.  I get to run with my daughter in the Chariot and there are better views of the mountains down here too ;)  Really I was just doing what was good for my ankle, and also working on leg speed and turnover, really training for Western States now.  Buffalo races on Antelope Island is a race I've been to every year since I started ultrarunning.  Their fall 50k was actually my first ultra fall of 2012.  I wanted to volunteer out there and also run so was planning on the 25k.  I really hadn't run on trail more than 3-4 hours total since my injury and it was touchy.  But I figured I'd be ok for 25k.  I've been ranked in and following the Ultrarunning Magazine ultrarunner rankings for a few months after I popped into the top 10 after TNF.  They take your top 50k, 50m, 100k, and 100m time over a year period and basically try to produce a ranking of overall ultra performance.  The only distance I had not done for the ranking was 50k.  Nursing school was and is crazy, and I just wasn't sure I'd have a Saturday free in the next month to travel to a race before the ranking ended.  So after much self deliberation and trying to get other people to make the decision for me, I decided I'd go out with the 50k and if I needed to stop after the first 25k loop for the ankle, I would.  Or I hoped I would.  For a competitive mind like myself, this wasn't the smartest plan :)
These great photos courtesy of Lori Burlison.  Thanks for your cheery face Lori!
I did not bring my brace with me because  I don't like how locked in I am, I almost feel more unstable.  But I also didn't want to hurt the ankle again on this run, more trail than I'd done in months, so I decided to have the medical sports guys there tape my ankle.  And I pretty much hated it from the get go :(  Something bothered me and I didn't know whether it was the ankle or the tape job, but I figured I'd give it a while before ripping it off.  I tried to be somewhat conservative that first loop, but like the track race, just felt kind of off.  I decided with about a half mile to go before the 25k point and turnaround for loop 2, I needed to know what this feeling was.  So I sat down in the dirt beside the trail for a couple minutes and ripped all the tape off (which can I say left my leg burning for like an hour!  ouch!).  The burning hurt but the ankle felt better!  I resistantly but almost instinctually headed back out for lap 2.

 And lap 2 rocked!  I mean it took me about a mile in, but then things just kind of clicked and I felt normal and fast and strong.  The goal for this race was to even split if I ended up doing the 50k, and I wanted to try for that.  So I pushed, but not crazy like, I just never gave up any time.  I had a great experience at the Ogden Marathon last year where I really pushed the last 15 miles, and it told me I could, I could push for a while.  I've used the mental strength I gained there in several races since, and used it that day at Buffalo.  I wasn't afraid of the pace I was running, I could be strong and hold it, none of this waiting for the last mile or two to start pushing.
The Wasatch Mountain Wranglers were out there and it was fun to see them and have their help to move quickly through their aid station.  I continued to push hard hoping to run under 5 hours, and never gave that up until I saw 5:00 hit, about 100 yards from the finish line - darn!  But it was exciting to try for it.  But I ran a 5:01, 3rd place, I'd made up a lot of time on those ahead of me, even splitted!, a 19 minute course PR, but more than that - my ankle was good!

Gosh that was a huge turning point for me.  It meant that Western States training was game on more than it already was.  And it's helped push me onto the next phase of training both physically and mentally.  Little podcast I was flattered to be asked to do by Trail Manners, here

So this last weekend I had the opportunity to do a run which shall not be named.  Ok, that's the story we like to tell, but it's an organized fun run more than race, Bosho.  You can report your time, but there's no timing, no shirts, no entry fees.  I've wanted to do this one for a while and was excited for the chance. 
The day before it rained and snowed up there good. We were all worried about mud but the trails were in such good shape and so green and beautiful!

A lot started at 6am, some started at 7am, and I started at 6:20am.  I was bummed to have missed the first group, but those first few miles of trail all alone in the twilight sky with sunflowers popping all over the green hillside were really nice.  And then I spent the next several hours passing earlier starts and getting to chat for a moment with everyone along the way.  I don't remember most names, but they were all so happy and friendly, what a way to spend a morning!

Soon enough the 7am speedsters came just blazing by, like crazy fast.  Made me question my training pace that I thought was sufficient, and it was for a training effort, they were just super fast and fun to watch.  It was good to get up and down bigger climbs than I've been doing, and remind myself what a big climb is.  Need to do more of those up and down and strengthen the quads and downhill steep technical footing.  I wanted to push the last 4-5 miles as prescribed and that was fun.  Tried to once again chase down that sub 5, but ended up at 5:10 and that's ok.  A great training run in control like it was supposed to be, super happy to not have any real mental or physical lows, didn't take any caffeine or vitamin I, and didn't feel the need to put music in till 4 hours in despite running alone for most of the race.  Great morning!  Happy to be alive, healthy, improving, and be supported by my generous but human husband who picks up a lot of the slack.  Couldn't do all this without him.

Onward and upward!  He and I get to head out to Mendocino, California this weekend for a 50k I'm really excited to see!  I graduate May 4th and hopefully take the NCLEX that month.  Then want to run a 50miler May 14, thinking Quadrock (ouch) but not sure yet.  End of May is Western States training camp, and then comes the big dance June 25!  Oh, and lots of training and family spread in there too of course  :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stroller running with kids

I have 4 kids ages 4-12, and I have been running longer than I've been a mom.  I remember my first run after my first baby 6 weeks postpartum.  I had so much excitement and energy to get out, which lasted a block or two to the stop sign when reality hit and I walked home.  Sharp kick in the pants by reality, but I hadn't maintained my fitness level as well the year before her birth and had a pretty rough birth with her.  Thankfully, my running relationship as a mom has gotten much better, and I wanted to share some of my tips and experience with you all!

First off, I have to recommend the best investment we ever made in staying active with our kids, our Chariot Cougar 2.  We've had ours for 10 years and it is still going strong!  I have not replaced one part, but we bought it at REI with our member 20% off so we could always get any replacement parts if needed.  I encourage you to use your local retailer if possible, but if not REI is a great place to buy it from.  Now they've gone up in price quite a bit from 10 years ago, but I'm telling you, if you want to run, bike, and/or cross country ski with your kids, particularly in any weather, save the money and buy one.  Maybe you can find one used.  I could write a whole review on our Chariot, but I'll try to summarize my favorite points.
  • All weather protection.  This thing is weather proof whether hot, cold, wet or wind.  I've got a
    half length sun cover, full length mesh cover which covers the entire opening (which can I say
    is 100% awesome for keeping kids from throwing toys out!), full length vinyl waterproof cover that is also gold in the wind.  There are also two vent pockets inside to give air if I have all the covers on.  All those covers stay attached to the trailer so you don't have to worry about carrying anything extra or forgetting anything.  I have literally taken the trailer out in any and all weather with happy warm dry kids inside.  They don't even wear heavy coats in freezing temperatures because the covers keep them so tucked in.  Love the tinted windows on the side too.
  • Formed seats.  Seems like a simple thing, but not having a sling style bench inside makes it so kids and their things don't collapse onto each other in the middle.  Very comfortable padded seats and 5 point buckles with covers over the buckles so kids don't get pinched or let themselves out.  You can move a buckle system into the middle too if you only have 1 kid in there who doesn't want to stay on one side.
  • Shocks.  No matter the bumps I take the trailer on, books/toys/food does not fall off the seat and I don't worry my kid is a bobblehead doll on a rough road either.  They are adjustable but we have always left them as they came.
  • Infant sling.  From birth to 1 year, Chariot makes a sling that hooks up to the buckles and
    trailer so baby can lay vs having to sit, because we all know a 3 month old is not going to sit up, and who wants to wait 6+ months to get out and get going.  They do not recommend biking with a child using the infant sling, but rather wait till they are a good sitter, but I have definitely run with very young babies (and biked smooth quiet road with babies technically too young).  Great way to sooth them to sleep but not have to fit the carseat in which then wouldn't leave room for a big brother or sister.
  • Versatility.  The Chariot has so much storage!  A few good pockets in the trailer but 3 great size ones in back for me.  I love memories of walking/running/biking to the grocery store or library with the kids and filling those pockets with books or gallons of milk.  And as I've mentioned, they sell kits for different activities: jogging, stroller, bike, ski, hike.  We have owned the first 3 and after many years of the big jogger wheel in the front, I discovered the stroller kit thanks to my friend Charity.  You'd think those two little wheels wouldn't be good to run with, but they totally are!  No more adjusting the tracking on the jogger wheel, the stroller wheels turn on a dime and do just fine on any surface I've run on (note, I do not take the trailer trail running beyond smooth canal road, too much work).  Also way easier to navigate indoors since the stroller wheels sit right under the front of the Chariot.  Buy the stroller kit!
  • Down sides - there aren't many and wouldn't keep me from buying one again, but a couple things to keep things honest - no recline.  Stinks not to be able to lay them down like a traditional stroller, but there is soft mesh in back of their heads to allow for helmet room when biking that they could lean into a little, or they sleep on each other, or now that it's just Ella in the stroller I'll bring a cozy blanket and she'll lay sideways to sleep if we're running. It's heavy and bulky to collapse and fit into the car, but we certainly have.  I'm lucky to have a paved river path a mile from our house that we do most of our running on.
My husband and our then 3 kids stuffed in the Chariot biking around watching me at a triathlon 5-6 years ago
If you don't have or can't afford a Chariot, don't fret.  There are a few tricks you can use to make your own stroller/jogger better.  When I went on the first run as a mom, I just threw a receiving blanket over the front of our old school borrowed jogger.  And as soon as I went outside it blew off and my poor 6 week old baby took a big gasp of the winter air.  Oops.  That led to a whole lot of trying to figure out how to keep it covered.  My best recommendation is to buy a vinyl rain cover that will fit your stroller and use it for cold temps or wind, even if it isn't raining.  Makes a big difference and is an affordable $15-$20 option.  There are lots of varieties and while the vinyl is best for wind and cold, they do make netting ones to help keep toys in and dirt out at least.

Make sure your ride is equipped with supplies.  Diapers and wipes if you're using them (confession, I haven't cleaned out the deep back pockets of the Chariot in apparently, a very long time, because I found a few new diapers in there, and my 'baby' has been potty trained for over a year... Make sure there are several extra snacks in there, and if it has to be treats you wouldn't normally give, pack them.  Sometimes kids don't want to go running with me, but a few incentives they only get there can help.  We'll do oatmeal in the trailer on cold mornings too which isn't too messy but gets us out the door faster.  No spill water bottles are great so if, I mean when they get turned upside down, they won't leak.  Now I hate to admit this one, but you may need to pack a device - phone or tablet.  I try really hard to not give them one, and almost never start with it out, but if they're grumpy or the run is long, you have to keep the captives happy.
These water color books are one of my favorites lately for my Ella.  No, not watercolors, I'm not that crazy, but a simple water paintbrush book that shows color when wet, then dries and they can do it over again.  The little brush pens are nice, but I don't want it squeezed out or to have to stop every 2 minutes to refill it, so we put a small 4oz water bottle/flask with the cap off in a pocket inside, 1/3 full of water, and use a regular paint brush she can dip in the water.  At only 1/3 full it won't splash out and ours stays upright pretty well, but this is a good time for duct tape to the side of the stroller if needed.
Captain Ella!  One of her fun, but not super safe ;) trailer activities when we're walking
Parks and playgrounds.  Now like I mentioned earlier, you've got captives that may get restless, and if they end up hating going running with you, you probably won't get out or will feel guilty doing so. So you have to reward them.  Now before I sound all mom of the year, most of the time after a run, all I want to do is go home, eat everything, and be lazy, not stop at the park and then wrestle a kid away when it's time.  But if I have the time, I try to hit one at the end of our run. I have really nice memories of nursing a baby (my favorite nursing sports bra post here) or changing a diaper at the park, while an older child gets out to go play.
If you can't or don't want to stop at the park - don't run by one!  I've definitely rerouted a run I knew would go by a playground or tried to show them something out the other side of the trailer if it wasn't a good time to stop.
And if your run is a casual one, not structured, do half your run to the store/library/park/museum/pool, let the wild ones out to play, then run home. Great relay training if you're into Ragnar and such!  I do prefer to do our playing at the end though so I can stretch while they play.  Bring a recovery drink or snack with you if it was a hard or long workout to eat before you get home.

I have cycled between biking and running with the kids a lot, and not.  I haven't biked much since I got into ultrarunning in 2012, but sure did a lot before then in my triathlon days.  Sometimes running has just worked better to do it before they get up, and I don't do all my running with them now, runs alone are nice me time and sometimes a better or more focused workout.  
But I treasure the time outside with them.  I get emotional thinking of the songs we've sung, ABC's we've learned, animals pointed out and I-spy we've played over the years.  My older kids too big for the trailer will bike next to me sometimes, and that's a great way to keep them involved and give them quiet, distraction free quality time.  Such good time and memories!  It's made me feel good about including them in the time I take to workout, less mom guilt, and hope I influence them to be active too.  I feel a funny sense of save the earth warm fuzzies when we run or bike to places we can, rather than drive.  Two birds with one stone, well probably more birds than two actually.  Errands done, no driving, workout, time and vitamin D together.
It's not always easy to be active with kids.  Sometimes the workout takes longer with them than it would without, I get tired, don't want to pack everything and the chickens into the trailer sometimes, worry she'll be grumpy or want to stop at the park or get out when I don't have time, but that doesn't usually happen.  Pushing a kid or two (or more) is kind of like wearing a weight vest in my opinion, extra resistance, but more importantly, it keeps things in perspective for me.  Mom first, athlete second.
I hope any of this rambling has helped you!  I have really enjoyed the last couple years running with my youngest child while our older three are off at school.  Great quality time for us, and I'm getting my road and speedwork done, without having to get up as early.  Mostly though, I just love our time together and the feeling I get of multitasking together.  Get outside!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Western States motivation

I'm going to make a little collection of Western States motivation videos and will update the date of the post when I do so it will stay near the top.  There are so many great one's out there, but I have a thing I learned preparing for baby #4's birth about only introducing positive thoughts about the goal into my mind.  So while there will be much work and possibly adversity out there, I'm going to focus on and post the reviews that make me feel most positive.  Enjoy!

Timmy's win is impressive and inspirational for sure, but this is just a great all around feel good video.  Can't wait to run down that track, hopefully with family around me

Loved this one!  Short but sweet.  Great footage, great music

Friday, January 8, 2016


Wow, I have wanted to used that hashtag for a long time.  Western States 100, the oldest 100 mile race in the country, and probably the most prestigious.  Kind of like the superbowl of US ultrarunning (although plenty of international folks come over too).  Brings out some of the best competition, but really, just has such a rich history and electric vibe to it, that anyone would be grateful to run it.  And I most certainly am.

I found out about this race years ago, early in my ultra running experience, and was taken by it after watching Unbreakable.  I wanted that experience.  It's a hard one to come by though simply because of supply and demand.  A whole lot of people want to run it, thousands, and there are only about 300 spots.  I put in for the lottery for years, no luck.  Most people have to put in a lot longer though.

I spent 2014 and 2015 chasing it the hard way, the Montrail Ultra Cup.  5 or so 50m-100k races where the top 2 men and top 2 women are given slots (which can roll down to 5th if needed).  I ran Lake Sonoma 50 in California in 2014 not really expecting to get in, but I was sure going to give it my best effort.  I placed 8th and I believe the slot went down to 3rd or 4th.  I raced Bandera 100k in
January of 2015 after a long year prior, and a cold windy winter preparing for a warm weather race by doing what heat training I could in SLC.  Turned out colder there than at home race day, and I just felt flat all day. As a mountain girl I also underestimated the Texas hills. I really thought that would be my day though.  I placed 6th.  That was a hard blow to have put so much mental and physical energy, and money, into something I really believed I could do, and not have it happen.  I was bothered enough I had to try again with the great fitness I knew I had built.
So the next month I went from cold and icy rocks and insanely sticky and heavy mud, to way more heat than my winter body was ready for at the Black Canyon 100k.  Again I went in determined.  I went alone, this was no family trip, not even a couple's trip.  I was there to earn a spot.  I ran in 3-5th place for the first 16 miles, with a wonderful pack of women, and it was surreal to be there and feel totally capable.  Then the really heat of the day started, and it took a toll on me like I've never felt
before.  I don't know that it was anything I did wrong, although I've learned from it how to deal with the heat better which served me well at Wasatch, but I was beaten down to walking much of the next 9 hours nauseous and dizzy and never wanting to DNF more in my life for such a long period of time.  I thank the Lord for friend and fellow mom and runner Carol who I spent much of the day with, trying to get each other to continue.  Pacer and new friend Cari had to listen to my whining and endless talking to keep me moving since now the only reason I was finishing was hope of the Last Chance Lottery.  If you finished any MUC race in 2014 you were entered into a drawing for 1 Western States spot.  I had to finish so that I could say I tried everything to get that spot.  I did finish, but didn't get that spot or the one at Bandera.  That last Black Canyon spot rolled down to 4th or 5th I believe and looking at the time run, I was really upset at myself again.  I really do feel like I could have run that time if the heat hadn't consumed me.  But I didn't.  Note - the women ahead of me in all these races are amazing and certainly belonged there, I would never take anything from them.

I learned a little something from those MUC experiences of trying to get in.  It burned me out a little.  A) these races take place in the winter or spring and in warmer weather states and I live in a snow state.  Despite my best efforts, I just don't know that I can acclimate well enough to place that high, and
B) the time and money it took to train for and travel to those races is more than I should take from my family right now.  I don't mean to sound like those faster than I have it easy or don't train their butts off, in fact, they probably and most certainly train harder and more than I do.  But many don't have 4 young kids and are going to school right now.  I just simply don't have the time and resources ($) to train to the level it really takes to earn one of those spots.  Nor should I personally put my family below my athletic goals to this extent.  I committed to not enter the Ultra Cup races this year, but I would of course throw my name in the lottery since I had plenty of the qualifying races
Fast forward a few months and Altra became the Western States 100 official shoe sponsor.  Wow!  I can't tell you how cool that moment was.  My husband Jeremy and Golden and Brian were 3 20-something year old guys that had a dream to solve a problem and started a shoe company that incredibly spread across the whole world, in the 6 short years since conception.  With that came a couple race entries.  I wasn't sure initially how I felt about that and how I'd feel if I was offered one. I didn't want to feel like it was less of an entry and effort than any other method of entry.  I didn't just want it 'given' to me (we're a weird breed eh?).  I wanted to feel like I earned it.  And somehow, even the lottery felt more like earning it to me.  But I put my name in that hat hoping to be selected.  And then the slots were offered to two other wonderful Endurance Team athletes of ours and I was pretty bummed.  A lot actually especially after not getting into the WS or Hardrock lottery.  I've been pretty unsure and lost as to what this year would hold despite so many other great races out there. 
About a month later after a funny turn of events, I got a phone call wondering if I still wanted to run Western States.  It surprised me and caught me off guard since I certainly wasn't planning  on that race was planning on not training up to and racing a 100 until the fall, but um, YES, of course I want to race Western States!!
And I'm not going be anything but excited now..  I know there are so many people, so many of my friends who want to do this race and have worked hard to keep their qualifiers and enter the lottery or go to theses qualifying races.  I have done those things too though, so I'm going to take this opportunity given to me as an Altra Endurance Team athlete to experience one of the most amazing races out there!

                                                            #seeyouinsquaw     Wow

Friday, December 11, 2015


Had the chance to go out and race TNF 50 mile in San Francisco.  Yeah I probably should have ended my season after Wasatch since it's been over a year since I've had an off season, but still healthy, unsure of what next year will hold for me, and wanting a bit of mental/emotional redemption after Wasatch, I decided to put in a couple more months of training in after a month off (which was super difficult for this race with school this semester and my family of course) and head out.  Thankfully we got to bring the kids too and stay in a fabulous Altra team house with our great Altra teammates out there to race as well.
My goals were somewhat casual. I wanted to have a good time.  Different than run a good time.  First and foremost I wanted to enjoy myself and what was around me and come away from this race and season happy. My motto was "Fun and focus, focus and fun". Now of course I wanted to run well and thought top 10 would be amazing in a crazy deep field like this was set out to be.  Top 20 for sure.  Figured it would take about an 8:30 to come in 10th based on previous years.  Great coach and friend Nick Clark gave me several pieces of advice including staying out of the top 10 in the first 20 miles and not asking for my position till 30 miles.  Basically to come into Stinson at 27 feeling good and not destroyed, and then to push hard and pick up any carnage.  He told me they would come and I held fast to that and all of his advice.  I got several other great motivating thoughts to add to the pot from great friends and I'm really grateful!

So I am in my 3rd of 4 nursing school semesters.  Had a hospital clinical the Thursday before the race that I could not (and would not want to) miss.  So my husband and kids made the 12 hour trek out west in the van and I got to fly out late that night after clinical.  You know, it was only flying to Oakland from SLC, not some exotic international race, but I looked down at one point on the dark flight at my scrub pants and Altra shoes, wearing my Wasatch shirt on top, and was so grateful and happy and honored to be able to fly to a race.
Friday we spent the day scouting for photo spots with our Altra photographer Tyson and my little fam enjoyed a great afternoon at Stinson beach and in the wonderful Muirwoods.  I also spent time stressing over and trying to figure out how I was going to deal with a significant sore/post blister on top of my foot.  I have never blistered in Altra's in our 5 years of having shoes, never.  But trying a prototype sample 2 weeks before the race, I somehow got one.  And it wasn't healing.  I spent the 10 days before the race out of shoes and either barefoot on an elliptical or in flip flops giving it every chance to heal possible.  Well come night before the race and it's still not healed, all the shoes I brought out rub it painfully to some extent, and I was scared.  I got lots of good advice from my Wasatch Mountain Wrangler family and teammate Josh Arthur though, and made a plan I would stick with (non adhesive dressing cut to size covered with leukotape) and would hope and pray.  I packed extra supplies for my foot in my pack and drop bags.

Typical race morning, so lets get to the actual race eh?  Used the bathrooms, ran around in the dark trying to find my husband who had my pack and headlamp, put on my pack, and lined up with like 1 minute to go.  How I roll.  Then I realized I didn't have my headlamp.  Freaking out because I couldn't find him and couldn't do that 2 hours without a headlamp, I asked friend and teammate Meghan Arbogast's crew for her's.  Oops.  So glad to have it though!  Off we went and Meghan and I enjoyed some miles together.  I wanted to stay with her, this queen of ultrarunning who obviously knew more about all of this than I, but at some point she got ahead of me.  I kept my cool and hoped I'd see her again, which I did near the top of a big hill and we ran together again through Tennessee Valley aid and up some of the next climb.  An honor to run her.  
When we got to the top of a big climb between Tennessee and Muir, I saw the best most colorful sunrise over the ocean and looked down to see and hear big waves crashing into the rocks.  So great!  Meghan was having GI issues and I hoped they'd be ok for her, but in all that talk, I think it got to my head and guess who had to stop now?  Guess which section now had no where to pull off and hide behind?  This one.  Almost at the end of my rope and out of options besides indecently flashing everyone, we came to a switchback where I could continue forward past line of sight to do my business, and even happened to squat perfectly over a small log I could rest my weight on.  I smiled, did what I needed to do, and happily continued on.  Saw Megan shortly behind me and wondered if we'd be together again.  We went up a big hill/mountain covered with more switchbacks than I had ever seen in one go.  And it was great, totally runable, loved it!
Leaving Cardiac we got our first taste of the woods and it was so nice!  Wide soft pine needle covered trail with big green trees and moss.  Eventually getting to the long out and back section it was fun to see the tail end of the leading men and all of the leading women ahead of me.  Trail was very tight in places so there was a lot of running up on the hillside for a couple steps hoping not to roll anything or knock anyone down.  Felt good to get on the road at the top eventually and run that strong.  Beautiful views up there both east and west toward Stinson beach far below with great fog clouds rolling over.  Enjoyed a good pace and conversation with a local gal and some beautiful green rain foresty stuff on the way down to the beach.
A little idea of the foresty sections by friend Katie Despliter
 Was excited to get to Stinson and could feel the energy approaching it.  Was looking forward to seeing my family but wasn't going to be upset if they weren't there.  I was ahead of schedule as I'd been all day (yay!) and it's a lot of work and driving for him and our 4 kids.  They weren't there, but my motivation to get to push now was.  The second I left mile 27 the fire was lit.  I never took it easy, had a positive mind that I could push for that long, felt good and was going to continue taking care of myself.  Hadn't taken any caffeine or pills besides electrolytes and was happy about that.  Music wasn't even on yet.  I felt like I still had lifelines to turn to and was half way done with the race now.

Heading up the big climb with lots of stairs toward Cardiac again I saw friend Caroline coming down toward me and that wasn't good.  Poor lady had fallen hard and busted 2 teeth!  Wished her well and continued on, seeing what I thought was my husband green coat at the top of a climb.  Soon after I turned a switchback and saw my 9 year old boy with cowbells in hand.  Was so good to see him!  He put them around my neck as instructed by his sisters so they would hear me coming.  He ran up a minute or two with me which was really neat and said huffing and puffing "How do you do this Mom??" :)  Ran into the rest of the clan and enjoyed a quick moment with hugs and kisses and ran off down a hill now with my 7 year old for another minute or two.  Such a nice lift to see them!
Still working hard, feeling good, keeping up on nutrition and hydration, enjoying music now, and I come up on top of the ridge before Cardiac and had the most emotional moment.  It reminded me exactly of the ridge above the Grunt at Wasatch where I puked and pulled out of my great darkness and ran hard for 12 miles.  Now though, I wasn't in a pit, I was feeling good, and I was going to push that long and longer till I was done.  The view of the ocean all around me was so great and it was just a really neat moment.  I was going to work to correct my mistakes from Wasatch and take this race as the opportunity to do that, even just for me and my psyche. 
Through Cardiac quickly with the help of teammate Sondre who unfortunately dropped there and onto what was for sure the funnest part of my day.  It was green and soft and amazingly gorgeous in the Muirwood forest and there was a lot of downhill.  I literally flew down it better than usual for me, feeling like a kid.  Felt like this went on for hours and I loved every second of it!  A guy I passed wanted to stay with me and that was fine, good motivation to keep the feet moving quickly and nice to feel like I was helping someone else.  Gosh that section was fun.
This photo I found on by Paolo Vescia            seemed appropriate for how I felt on that section - running free fast and happy like a child

Nearing Muir beach aid station I was feeling a tiny bit of fatigue, probably from diving through the downhill forest like I did, but enjoyed petting a few dogs along the way (yep, totally do it, we're there to have fun and 10 seconds to stop and pet a dog is not going to hurt anything) and pushing up the very long hills from here.  I was having to work to to do it of course, but was so happy to be running up things I wouldn't normally.  I wasn't too chatty now, but wasn't grumpy, just focused.  Kept that focus through Tennessee where I saw my husband and boy one more time and hurried out.  Wasn't doing any math on when I'd come in, but was relying on Nick's words that I would pass people by the end.  I knew I was going to have to work to do that.  More than that though, I wanted to say to myself that I had pushed and worked the whole time, that I didn't physically or mentally give up and 'just finish' as I have done in other races this year, a lot actually.  I wasn't going to be top 10 today and frankly I wasn't sure top 20 would even happen as I just was not seeing any women in front of me.  But I wanted to finish strong for me.
 Breathing hard, running hard, keeping positive thoughts in my head and remembering the errors of races this year and running to correct those, to redeem my mind from this year, I pushed.  I still tried to keep a smile on my face when I could, as I had all day.  Ive heard a smile can make a really big difference psychologically and physiologically and I was going to experiment on that.  Couldn't hurt right?!  Finally finally done with the last climb, man there were a lot, it was time to blast down the last 4 miles at as fast as I could go.  I'm pretty sure I ran a 22 minute last 5k, and it felt great.  I finished running fast, not just finishing pace, and with a smile.  And happy.  And I am SO happy about that!
8:38, 21st place. 12th American, a lot of international! Lower than I thought, but I believe I was 34th at mile 8.7.  Only passed 1 woman during the race that I know of (maybe passed some in aid stations not realizing it), so there must have been a lot of drops.  Yeah I wanted to place higher than that, but the time I ran this year, would have been 14th last year on what my friend said was a slightly easier course.  And I don't think of this as my best race time wise, but it was a good strong healing one.  I'm cool with the place and time!  What I'm thrilled about was how strong my body and mind showed me they/we are!  I pushed strong and consistently from 27 on, sometimes feeling pain, but able to push through it, often without pain and just full of gratitude, positivity and motivation. Next time the challenge and test will be to start that push earlier.  I will have to learn to tune the fine balance of conservative start - strong finish, with less conservative start - strong finish or strong start to finish which I think is possible, it would just hurt a lot more.  This race filled me with the confidence to do that, turn the engines on for a longer period of the race than I may have thought I could. It filled me with happiness for my body and opportunities and the gorgeous world around me.  And it put any demons from the long year+ to rest.  I didn't get emotional or grumpy or ornery, I didn't give up mentally or physically and just settle for whatever pace, I am not worried about my time or place.  I'm left satisfied for now without the need to enter another race for redemption.  I'm happy and that's such a great way to end a very long 18 month season!
And guess what??  My foot didn't bother me AT ALL.  That is truly a miracle to me and one I am so thankful to God for.  That could have ruined my day.  But I had a great day.  Let the off season and not having to run in the cold wind and ice if I don't feel like it and ski not worrying about injury begin!

As far as the race itself, definitely worth doing once!  Lots of uphill and downhill, some pretty big and/or long, not an easy course, and not much flat stuff, but some great scenery and excellent race management and volunteers.
Altra Running Paradigm have been my go to for many ultras despite not considering myself a maximal runner.  Sure was nice to pound the downhills with all that lightweight cushion.  Vfuel gels worked great all day and I decided to go with packets this time vs a flask of gel as I have before.  Made sure I got enough and I felt like it reduced the weight I carried since there were times I didn't pick up all the gels I had packed in drop bags.  I really love that Ultraspire Spry vest.  I use it more than any other hydration system I have.  Minimal and simple and light but enough.  I filled the 30oz bladder a couple times but it's quick and easy and the couple pockets up front held just what I needed and no more.  Loved my Elete Electrolyte routine for the 3 days pre race in everything I drink as usual.  I know it helps absorption and priming my body and is a good thing mentally for me too to psyche me up for a race feeling excited and prepared.
Other stuff - Handful bra, Injinji wool socks, Gore shorts and singlet, 1 dose of First Endurance Pre-Race pills.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wasatch afterthoughts

I'm good. I had a rough first weekend frustrated with how I handled Wasatch, but really started feeling ok about it all the Tuesday after the race. I did race most of it really well and am grateful to be able to claim 2nd place at a race like Wasatch. No I didn't perform as best as I could have, no I'm not happy overall with my race, but I'm ok with it. I'm not dwelling on it. I can and will learn from it. 

Now the problem is the itch to race again, like right now. I wonder if I'd feel it as much if I had had the race I wanted. A combination of things make me want to race again soon. So soon I really considered doing the Bear 100 today. I think what contributes to my itch to race is wanting a do over and the chance to control and handle myself better, using the great fitness I built, and the fact that I have recovered physically really well so far!  

But I don't have anything scheduled and do want to take care of my body. Although I am considering TNF 50 in San Francisco in December. School however has kind of smacked me in the face since finishing Wasatch, so we shall see. 

I am enjoying not working out based on a training schedule and just doing what sounds fun when I have time and spending more time on other things, but I can fall off the wagon pretty hard and I think having a workout plan is good for the rest of my unorganized life. 

Anyway, that's about it. I've run a few times since Wasatch, spectated a few races last weekend with my family (and watched friends who also did Wasatch and raced already- jealous!) and spent more time out with my 3 year old during the day and less time napping :) I hiked a great fall hike today with a friend.
I'm ok with being ok about my race and I'm really glad I can wear this shirt :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wasatch 100 report

This is the report, not conclusion. I'm not at a place yet to say in a sentence or two how the race was. But here is the experience.

Some ground rules: I always treat this blog as my journal and don't write for others but if they want to read it and gain from it then great!  I share lots of details. I'm not sure a post has ever made me so nervous to share. I feel vulnerable. Be nice. I am not a snob or elitist, but I am very driven.
This is about my race with my goals. It's going to sound whiny and maybe prideful in places but my intention is NEVER to belittle anyone else or their experience. I have the utmost respect for those that can somehow endure many more hours than I can. This is just my experience. 

Like is typical, I plan to pack my drop bags several days early but got them packed that morning before leaving for the pre race meeting along with packing for the kids and Jeremy and I for the weekend. Once I got up to the meeting, 10 min late, darn, it was so great to meet with friends and see so many smiling faces. All the stress of getting ready melted away and things were exciting now!  

Enjoyed a great BBQ at the Williams who were also gracious enough to host our family in the basement, but I was tired pretty early. Had a hard time getting to sleep with the commotion upstairs then woke up 30 min before I had to. Felt pretty rested though. Ate, dressed, packed my packs and wrote last minute instructions to Jer. I woke up with this weird pain in my right foot that I had felt the day before too. I felt it every step and it really got to me mentally. How could something come up now??  I got pretty emotional about it to Jer and after an LDS blessing and prayer and kisses to our sleeping babies we were off to the race. 

Yeah, typical me style, we arrived with minutes till start. I kissed my lovely crew chief, grabbed a quick photo by the sign and squirmed my way to the front to try to find out where to check in. Literally 30 seconds to the start. Got a quick hug from friend Canice I happened to stand next to and we were off!

I ran faster than I normally would in an ultra in order to get a good spot in the conga line and avoid a lot of dirt in my face and eyes. Thankfully within 1/4 mile I had settled right into my pack of guys I'd spend the next hours with. James, Patrick, Scott and several more guys were such great company. We would split up a little sometimes but generally met back up.
 I remember saying to Scott while still in the first few miles how much I loved the start of a 100. Everyone happy, chatty, feeling good and looking forward to the day. I also realized I wasn't feeling that foot pain. So thankful. 

Thank you Lori Burlison for your great photos!
The climb up to the base of Chinscraper was long and covered with lots of sharp bushes. The back of my right heel was being a little irritated by the relentless uphill. Was nice to finally get some terrain change. There were times I wondered if I was working too hard, but usually only when I looked back to see the pack of 10-20 at any one time I was leading up the mountain. I heard a woman or two's voice a few times but didn't recognize her. Tried not to let it get to me at all since it was still so early in the race. I was running my race. James was great to remind me of that. 

The actual Chinscraper climb was not nearly as bad as I expected. That's always nice!  Said hi to fellow WMW Lane, awesome friend Mark in a sheep suit, and got my first "you're the 1st lady!".

Lane, Scott, the friendly Chinscraper sheep Mark
Francis peak towers ahead

Heading down to the first aid station, Francis Peak, I paid very specific attention to my pace or at least how it felt.  I'd been instructed by others to not blow my quads on this long downhill dirt road, and I did not.  I didn't brake, but I didn't let it rip like several guys around me did.  Rolling into the first aid station Francis Peak was great.  Happy faces, a drop bag, and nice to know we were almost 1/5 of the way through the race.  I looked at the splits I had written down for 22:21 and 23:30 and realized course record was not likely to happen today.  The next aid station would confirm that, and that was A-OK with me.
All smiles, life was good!
Heading to the Bountiful B with Scott

Don't remember a ton between the next few aid stations, except running with friends James, Scott, and Patrick, going through the most beautiful yellow aspen patch, and that the race had such great aid stations!  Seriously, they were all so helpful and well stocked.  I was in and out in about 2 minutes every time.  
Will you look what these selfless, unpaid aid station volunteers went through to get to many a station I'm sure. 

Sessions had a pirate theme and popsicles which was awesome.  I also traumatized (or made their day), a couple young boys who watched me stuff ice into my bra :)  I was very proactive about keeping cool and it served me well.  I had a cooling towel with me from Francis on, that I meant to take off and soak every aid station but only did at a few.  But I always carried a handheld flask or bottle of ice water that was for keeping me cool.  I put in on my head, chest, and back of my neck, and frequently, not just every aid station.  I never ran out of water to drink either, very smart.  I carried a very small flask of Elete Electrolytes I added to my water when I filled up.  Worth it and so nice to not have to swallow a million pills.  I peed very regularly also. 

There were some good climbs between Sessions and Swallow but I still didn't feel overworked.  Patrick told me at one point a woman was 5 minutes back at Swallow which I didn't really want to hear but it was fine, race was still early and I was just running my race.  James was having problems with his back and worrying about splits, but I was still pretty cool headed mentally.  Apparently I kicked a snake without realizing it too....gross.  He and I separated at Swallow, but it was so exciting to know how close to Big Mtn I was now.  This was a big hurdle for me, getting to the part of the course I knew, I would see people I loved, be taken care of at aid stations with my specific instructions I wouldn't have to repeat or think about, and we'd be 39 miles in!

Just past Inspiration Point with maybe a mile or two to the aid station I was SO excited.  As I got closer to the aid station I waved my bright orange towel around and hooped and hollered.  I was SO excited to be there, be there in 1st, and to see my family.  My parents haven't seen me race much and my dad's health isn't great, so it was special to see them there and give them little jobs to help with.  I ran in with the biggest smile on my face, Jeremy had my new pack and handheld ready to go, my mom wiped me down and reapplied sunscreen and my dad handed me a small bag of buttered popcorn jellybeans and coke - what could be better??

My parents in the background. Husband waiting to lead me to our spot. 

I left that aid station quick and the new pack felt heavy.  I hated to carry so much water (probably 60oz), but this was a notoriously hot and long section so it was better to have too much.  I switched from Vfuel gels to the new Vfuel drink mix which I thought would be a good idea when the heat really kicked in and I just wanted to drink everything in sight vs eat, even just gel. 
James left at the same time I did but I wouldn't see he and his pacer again.  I don't regret not having a pacer here too much, but it might have been nice.  It was the first time I put music in and also the first time I'd take any caffeine or pain meds and I was happy about that, almost halfway in.  Shortly after leaving Big Mtn I hit a low.  I don't remember my mental state or what I was mentally down about, but I know my stomach felt a little off because I remember sucking on a ginger chew (yuck, I don't like those things but my Gu salt pills with ginger weren't cutting it).  Thankfully that heavy pack of mine was full of iced drink mix to sip on. This low probably lasted an hour and  I really think it might have been an endorphin dump.  I was SO excited going into Big Mtn, maybe so excited that my body didn't have anything left to support me with.  Interesting.

I kept looking back during this time expecting to see a woman but never could be sure.  About a mile from Alexander aid station I felt good and ran hard again.  Tried to move quickly through but when I saw the small inflatable swimming pool (which ironically I had mentioned wanting earlier in the day), I had to sit in it.  AMAZING!   A couple women came into the aid station just as I left ( they left 2-3 min after me).  Crap. My goal now was that it would be cool to come into Lambs in the lead at least. So I worked hard, but still in control and came into Lambs (mi 52) back with my 15-20 min lead. 
So spoiled.  Cold wet rag on the head, my sister rubbing my legs, Jer and Seth taking care of my feet.  Niece Reagan patiently watching and dealing with my undoubtably stinky self.
Was great to have my twin sister there, she's never seen me race an ultra and she was great help.  I hear she also confused a fair number of people there wandering around the aid station in normal clothes :)  I got to sit down and Jer and pacer Seth took care of my feet (R bunion and a bit of arch were hurting) changing me from the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 to the Altra Paradigm 2.  I was perfectly happy in the Lone Peak really,  but with 3 road section and smoother trails in this next 25 I figured it might be a nice change. I got to enjoy a few pieces of watermelon, my sister rubbed muscle cream into my quads, and I got to visit with the sweet boy Lota I met earlier this year and whose name I wrote on my bib.  I thought of him during my Big Mtn low and how I'm sure he would buck up out of his tough times and continue on.  My hip flexors cramped up bad a couple times while sitting which made me laugh so we got out of there pretty quick.  The mind was good and I was ready to continue.
Such a pleasant surprise to see Lota and his family waiting by my crew!

The climb up to Millcreek and then down and back up to Upper Big Water (mi 61) went well and I felt steady.  It was nice to be out of the sun.  We chatted and  I remember cheering to Seth "30 something to go!" because even 39 counts as 30 something and sounds better than 39 or 40. 

I was well taken care of again by Altra friends at the aid station and enjoyed a couple bites of grilled cheese and some chicken noodle soup we loaded in a flask and I ate on the go.  We were asked to remark the next few miles of course which thankfully didn't seem as under marked as they said.  Not a lot worse than getting lost in the mountains while in a fragile mental state.  Head lamps had to go on just before Dog Lake (I wanted to make it to Deso).  We saw a mom and baby moose near the trail close to Deso which perked Seth's interest and was fun to watch.  He didn't let me for too long though.   I was getting hungry for real food now so I got some Ramen from Deso (mi 66) and ate it on our way up to the ridge. Shortly after my stomach felt unsettled and I got really sleepy. At like 9:30 at night.  What? Seriously??  I've had sleep issues, but never before midnight.  The pace slowed as I was sleepy and uncomfortable stomach wise and I tried to close my eyes at Scott's sneaking into the covered tent next to the food while he took care of our packs.  I heard him ask where I was and the darn aid station volunteers ratted me out. ;) I could have gotten at least 30 more seconds! Seth didn't let me stay of course. 
He told me a woman had made 3 minutes up on me and I think that freaked me out now also moving slower. I was downing pepto and ginger chew and trying to handle the stomach but was also quiet and getting grumpy.  Seth and his sweet positive self was calling Jer and telling him how awesome I was doing all the while I was either ignoring him or yelling at the phone that "no I am not!"  Sigh.  
I had this plan in my head now to get me to the next aid station, that while I needed to be fast through Brighton, I needed to take care of me too.  So I was going to sit in my reclining camp chair with a blanket over me so to not get cold.  I would drink my rockstar lemonade and close my eyes for 10 minutes while they took care of my pack and feet (changing back into the Lone Peak 2.5 but a 1/2 size bigger now).  Well, unfortunately I didn't tell anyone about that plan.

I don't remember all I was upset about other than feeling crappy and sleepy so early and losing some of my lead and being so late to Brighton, but at some point I started freaking out and by Brighton was in tears telling them I couldn't go back out, I didn't know how I could. I didn't want to go back out but I also wasn't 100% ready to quit. That would look pretty bad having been in the lead the whole day.

Since I failed to mention to anyone my aid station plan, it didn't exactly go like that.  New pacer Roch was rushing me and hollering out orders from the second I got there while I was trying to tell Jer I didn't know how I could go back out.  I didn't know how I would do it on a stomach not allowing food in.  No one was listening to me.

Roch drug me out of my chair, into Brighton to check in and out all the while I'm crying to whoever will listen that I just cannot do it. Most of it was fear of how long I know the rest of the course is. Once you descend from Catherine's pass there is no way out. I couldn't fathom 8+ more hours feeling like I did (upset stomach and sleepy and discouraged and losing the lead I'd had for 74 miles, but mostly the fear of how long the next 8 dark hours would feel).

Long story short (yeah like I know how to do short stories), after Roch and I had to wait out another mom and baby moose on the trail, I drug my feet to the top of Catherine's and stopped there, leaning over the poles I made my crew let me have, and just couldn't force myself to continue. I really truly wanted to quit and yet I couldn't make myself.  I was so close to quiting though.  It was so far to go and would be all in the dark and I could hear Heather behind us.  Roch kept telling me I had to find my happy place and that just seemed impossible with my emotions and stomach.  Such a dark dark place I was in inside. He wasn't very happy with me and I can't blame him.  Yes I wanted to go back down, but the smallest rational (or irrational) side left of me still said I should continue for some reason. I felt bad wasting Roch's time if I quit, my mom and family were sleeping at the finish line waiting for me and I did really like the shirt this year ;) 

Then Heather and pacer passed us (mi 77). 
She was very nice but there they went. I felt awful. I had just given the win away. We went a couple more minutes down the trail and I sat on a rock which upset my dear pacer again, yanking me up. I stayed there though and just tried to work out my head.  Mental implosion. I was such a mental emotional mess. Pain is one thing, but I was suffering so bad then and it seemed like no one was listening to me or respecting what I wanted (which started back at Brighton). Now I know they were just trying to help me stick to my goals, my big time goals.  Roch told me I should be finishing this for my team, for my family, but never mentioned for me and that made me mad and I expressed that I didn't feel like I was being listened to and that this was for me too. I said I didn't have anything to prove, that I'd finished 3 100's, won 2 of them, I didn't have to finish this.  Nice excuses eh?  My patient pacer was being put through the wringer now and showing me no pity.  I got up pissed off and prideful and marched down the hill toward Ant Knowles totally mad. I'm kind of a brat like that in these moments unfortunately.  Something I continue to work on. It was quiet between us all the way into Ant Knowles (which I walked all of mostly out of anger, some still stomach issues). I wasn't going to quit now but my new option was I get to experience the last 20 like most people. I get to slow the pace to a walk/jog, sit at aid stations and eat what I want and I get to take a nap if I want. Roch never agreed or denied that plan, but probably just rolled his eyes at me :)

Very cool Ant Knowles aid station. Yeah that fun dome doesn't reside there permanently. The volunteers brought it in. 

We got to Ant Knowles (mi 79) and found out Heather was 20 minutes in front of us. That seemed close enough we'd try to catch her (I reluctantly agreed, I felt so bad about letting my lead go I figured I had to try to get it back, but was nervous if I'd be able to hold chase pace for 20 miles at the end of a 100). I still couldn't eat anything though but knew I needed to. We got up the steep grunt climb to around mile 80 where it flattens out. I took 3 prerace pills and promptly threw up everything I'd probably eaten all day. I was worried about now continuing on nothing in me, but I did feel better. Then we took off. Passed the 3rd place lady who had just passed us and we ran hard. I was out of my demons and feeling pretty good. While I unfortunately moved slower than I probably could have from Brighton to Ant Knowles, now I was doing all my body would let me. I was fearful at only mile 80 I wouldn't be able to hold this pace for 20 more miles but we went with it. Booked it through Pole Line and Pot Bottom and up to Stanton road. Found out by Stanton they were only 4-5 min up. We'd made up 15 minutes in about 8 miles.  We could see them and tried to turn our lights out so they wouldn't see us but at some point they did. I didn't really still have that pushing pace by mile 92 (stiff, short gait, sore big toe) but was still going as fast as I could (which was probably 12-15 min mile shuffle). I was into this whole hunt thing until we got to the stupid cow pasture section around 92 and then got mad at the course winding-ness and the severe lack of course marking there where there really wasn't clear trail most of the time.  I was so afraid we were lost.  The last aid station told us they were only 1 min up, which was wasn't true looking at splits after. They were around 4 min up still, same as Stanton. So we had held our place but somewhere they had seen our lights and took off running scared (according to her pacer). By the time we got to the hair pulling, never ending deer creek trail along the lake I did the math and realized they were at least 7 min up. And moving fast. I didn't believe I could make up 7 minutes in 4 miles especially at the pace I was moving and they were moving. I still gave it what I could, but the stride was really short and painful after 95 miles. Roch was still trying to get me to catch them but I really just wanted to finish the race at the effort I could and not be any more upset than I already was.  Poor Roch, every woman he'd paced at Wasatch had won. I felt weak around such a famously good pacer.  I felt really bad breaking that streak. He never caused me to feel those though, it was all self inflicted.
So we ended up finishing 11 min back and 2nd place.  25:49.  About 37 minutes ahead of 3rd place.  I've been pretty upset all weekend. Heather is a really sweet lady and it was nice to chat with her a little post race.  Yeah this all burns a lot right now, but I really am happy she had a good experience, especially as a first 100.  And heck, the awesome lady is 45!  If anything that's motivational goodness for me to know I've still got many good years of competition ahead of me.

I ran strong for 70 miles, handled the heat great, had a blast leading as long as I did, loved seeing my family and friends, had a dream team of crew and pacers (whom I have apologized to for being such a jerk) and never felt like the course itself was harder than I was prepared for.  I was trained very well under friend and teammate Nick Clark's coaching.  I'm pretty ok with my time, I'm not sure sub 24 was in the books for me with how the day went, even without my melt down.  And sure 2nd place is awesome, I am not trying to belittle that, but it feels embarrassing to me personally when I led for so long. I don't want it to look like I went out too fast. I don't think I did. The way the race was playing out it felt like it was my year to win it, a slower winning time even, and I didn't. That kills me. I don't think I would feel like this if I had come from below 2nd up to 2nd. Funny how if I had taken a hard fall and was hurt physically this might not hurt as much, but because it was a mental struggle (ok, the stomach was upset too) that lost me time and the lead I feel like I allowed it to happen.  We always have control over our minds and can flip the negative switch to positive in a snap right?  Just like depression and addiction?  No.  And yet that's how it feels to me right now.  The pride of finishing has not overtaken the sting of losing the win.  *Please don't see me as a sore loser toward Heather, obviously she had a great and smart race and I would not take this from her, she earned it*

I know I'm my harshest critic. It is punishing me right now, easing a little, but will drive me to greatness eventually if I let it.  Which I must.  I realize in the end what I did was great, but it didn't fulfill me and is hard to end my season on. Big goals mean big consequences - good or bad.  This is a strange sick sport we're a part of, and even more so if you're trying to race at a high level.

I'll try to post again later this week or next with how I'm doing closure wise.  BIG CONGRATS to all my friends who showed up and started and finished the Wasatch Front 100.  Those who took so much longer to finish - wow.  The strength and determination and tenacity you show is beyond what my mind can grasp.  It's amazing.  Many people did not finish and to you, I hope your hearts and bodies heal quickly.  100 miles of Heaven and Hell indeed.