Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sonoma training and goals

Well, my big race for the spring is in 5 days.  The Lake Sonoma 50 mile.  A cool old school feeling race.  The race director says go.  No arch, no balloons, no big sound system.  300 people, no pacers.  A very rolling relentless up and down, out and back course around the edges of Lake Sonoma (90 min north of San Francisco) with 3 larger climbs in the middle.  10,500 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descent.  Smooth buffed out trails and 12 creek crossings that could be anything from dry to knee deep.  I'm excited about those, I always thought that would be an epic fun thing
to do in a race.  Temps should be in the 50-70's so warmer than I'm used to but should be ok, especially with the chance to get wet often.  My husband Jeremy and I are flying out together for a fun little trip with this race so he'll be my crew.  I want to be in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible and right now am planning on using a pack so don't plan on stopping at every aid station.  It's a beautiful course with lots of good aid stations I'm sure, so why move through it so quickly?  Check out this starting list
Starting list featuring estimated finish times.
This is a absolutely elite stacked field  I'm 24th right now and I fit into the same screen as the 1st place ranked woman.  That's pretty cool!  I want to be top 20 for sure but the real goal is top 10 (there might even be a secret goal beyond that).  I've been training for an 8:15.  I'm going to run hard and smart and leave it all out there.  Plenty of time to recover before my next big race. 

I've been working hard this year, of course you always wonder if you could have done more, but I do believe it's better to be under trained than over.  After UROC 100k in September I ran a PR marathon, trained real road speedwork for 6 weeks before another PR marathon, built a good speed base.  Took a few weeks off and ran 24 miles to work with Jen around New Years.  This winter I've done some snowshoeing with friends, solo quiet winter running, even a day of skate skiing that kicked my butt.  I've run in reasonable conditions and crappy ones.  I ran the Moab 55k in February and the Buffalo 50k in March.  My husband's been really supportive as have my friends, all good people.  A new friend and Altra elite athlete Duncan has helped me with coaching the last several months.  Everyone has let me bump my own selfish many questions off of them while mentally preparing for this race.  I've been strength training a little, rolling and stretching often, nourishing my body well.  I feel good about things. 
A difficult condition windy rainy run this winter, but one I pushed through and felt so strong on
 I recently read a blog from a fast lady named Larisa who was doing a training run in a 20 mile race that ended up in a break through moment PR race.  Here is an excerpt she wrote that stuck with me:

"Mile 18.  Why am I not fading? Emotions scream inside me. Never before have I felt so strong so late in a race. A voice from deep within encourages me to go harder. To reach towards that boundary that separates the safe from the uncontrollable.
I accept the challenge and I push. Hard.
The final 2 miles zip by in a blur. I see the finish chute. I expect 2:10, but the red neon clock reads 2:04. That can’t be right.
I stop my watch. Check the data, this can’t be real....
That can’t be right. But it is...
It’s those unexpected, breakout moments in life that keep us motivated and pushing hard towards goals that sometimes seem impossibly out of reach."

I want to have a day like that.  I will have a day like that.  A day like I've had in my last several races, where I surprise myself.  I have a strong mental mind and I am prepared for any complications, but I don't entertain the thoughts of them before a race.  I have high goals, and I'm not going to lower those goals, I'll just meet them.  If you want to watch there is live coverage of the race here.  See you next week!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FLEXR water bottle and belt review

Come on, admit it.  How often have you added something to your water bottle- juice, electrolyte drink, carb drink, protein, etc- finished it, and then found it in the car or your bag or garage days or weeks later?  I know I have.  This might be a solution

I was sent a box of goodies from FLEXR Sports to review.  It included several water bottles, liner refills, and a neoprene running pouch/belt.  They have been very kind and generous with their customer service. 
The basis of their company is creating a more flexible water bottle with biodegradable disposable liners.  From FLEXR:
  • No more water sloshing, crinkling, or annoying noise, thanks to the biodegradable bottle liner which shrinks as the liquid is used, making it feel
    more like a solid.
  • No more harmful bacteria or annoying aftertaste, no more bottles to clean, thanks to the disposable fully biodegradable liner.
  • Ergonomic shape and feel allowing comfort for miles upon miles.
  • Very flexible and squeezable, fitting your hand comfortably enabling you to get your water or favorite mix on the go.
  • Air space between liner and bottle act as an insulator to keep fluids cooler longer.
  • Patented one way jet stream valve, for accurate and precise flow.
  • Extremely aerodynamic when turned sideways (great for on the bike). 16oz capacity.
  • Designed by athletes for athletes and all materials made in the USA. US patent pending.

FLEXR's shaped bottles,
lots of colors & additional size options
 Now as for my own experience, I did find the 16oz water bottle to be a little more flexible to squeeze and comfortable to hold.  It comes in several different fun colors and works with a very basic but functional sleeve that with a hand strap and small pouch big enough for a key and gel or two.  Each bottle comes with one 25 count roll of bags.  Additional rolls are $2.95 for the 160z size.  They also make an 8oz and 28oz bottle.
As for my own experience while testing, I don't know that I heard less sloshing but I am very slosh/bounce sensitive.  I am intrigued by the idea that having the fluid in the shrinking liner acts as an insulator since your hand cannot as directly warm it up.  The bottles are already BPA free which is great, I can see that you would avoid bacteria from a not completely clean water bottle.  I'm not sure however what toxins they refer to the liners reducing.
While using the bottle with a liner you don't have to close the twist turn valve all the way and won't lose much fluid if you don't, which is good because I personally am not a fan of the turning, open-closed valve.  As a runner it's possible but required more than one hand when I was sweaty.  On the bike it would seem impossible to turn the valve.  They do offer a few bottle top straw options that would help on the bike.
I am pretty green and into less waste and recycling so the idea of throwing something away every use is troubling to me, but I appreciate that it is biodegradable at least.  That said, I still have a hard time with the waste side of it.  The good news is that they bottles come with a plug so you can use the bottle without the liner.
I mainly carry water in my bottles so don't feel the need for the clean effect of the liners, but for someone who does a lot of drink mixing away from home (protein or recover drink at the gym for instance) the liners would be nice.  The wide mouth of the bottle make for easier mixing and filling too.  It can be a pain to get the very bottom of a water bottle or any grooves clean, especially if you don't have quick access to clean it.  I would use the liners in that circumstance.

FLEXR also sent their FLEXR Sport Neo Running Pouch.  This belt does not carry water, although they do sell one that holds a bottle in back.  It clips together and has a zippered pouch that could hold and iPhone, several gels and a key.  Not huge, but suitable and didn't bounce which I really appreciate!  The neoprene is nice so that if you get wet from rain, an aid station, splashing through a stream, what's inside won't get wet.  The belt also has attachments for a race number.  I found this belt handy to use when I was running shorter and just wanted to carry my phone but not carry my larger packs.
Bib number sits under the pouch
So in summary, FLEXR makes some interesting products that could be really helpful for some.  I don't see myself using it during activity or everyday, but when I'm running on the trails or in a race and am done and going to mix my recovery shake but won't be home soon to clean my bottle, the liners will be nice.  Their prices are good and customer service great as well.  I also appreciate that 5% of their sales go to charity.  Thanks FLEXR!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buffalo 'training' Run

That's what I kept telling myself. Lake Somoma 50 is in 3 weeks and is a big deal to me. I want to be in tip top shape, tapered and ready to give 100%. I debated doing this because I love to race and push hard but that would do me no good for Sonoma. But I needed a last long run so I promised I would work to keep the reigns on. This gave me more anxiety than racing, bring able to hold back in a race atmosphere. Probably wasn't the smartest to sign up, but I did. Race atmospheres are always fun and I figured even if I didn't race the miles, they'd be better quality than if on my own. Aid stations are always nice too.

Anyway, my husband Jeremy and I drove onto Antelope Island about 7pm, enjoyed our take out Thai food (mas mun for me), and watched friends running the 100. I crashed in the tent from 9:30pm-11pm before getting up to spend the night volunteering in the start/finish aid tent. Night challenges me and with my first 100 in June I figured it would be good practice in sleep deprivation then running after. I enjoyed helping them fill bottles, get them whatever they wanted to eat, finding chairs and other supplies they needed and just listening sometimes when they looked down. I enjoyed watching and learning from the 100 milers at night.  And it was a good learning experience but honestly left me a little more intimidated of the night. Coming into a warm, lit up tent with goodies and warm food and chairs and a sore body and often upset stomachs only to leave minutes later to go back out into the dark cold for hours and hours. Man. 
Talking strategy with Zac 
Admiring Craig getting ready to head back out at mile 69 I believe. Loved watching all of our friends help when someone would come in. From L to R: Josh, Matt, Zac, me, my husband Jeremy,, Craig in the chair and Mark behind the camera. 

I didn't get too sleepy overnight but after I bid good luck to friends doing the 50 mile race that took off at 6am I climbed into the tent and fell asleep for an hour. Wasn't sure if I'd wake up more tired or destroy the deprivation thing I was going for, but it sure felt good. I went to sleep when it was still dark and woke up when if was light and felt good!  I think the dark/light thing reset my body clock even though it was only an hour of sleep. Got dressed and ready for my own race and we took off at 8am. 

I got a little caught up in the race my first couple miles but let many people pass me. Once at the top of the hill around mile 2.4 or so I settled into a trot where I felt totally comfortable and couldn't hear my breathing at all. I wasn't pushing. I do long runs harder than this pace. But after talking with many friends the plan was to go super conservative the first 15 mile loop and then negative split (run faster) the second resulting in a 5:30-6:00 finish (I wanted 5:00 originally). I knew what the aid station splits were for a 5 hour finish so knew to be slower than that and could estimate what 6 hour splits would be so wanted to hit those splits first loop. All the aid stations are about 5 miles apart. After that initial 2 mile climb up it's a gradual down, sharper down where I got a hug from Mark who was running the 50m, then switchbacked up to the first aid. Hit the first one, 5.3 in 57min. Happy with that. Not happy with the poop stop I had to make that wasn't very productive. Grumpily knew I'd be stopping again. Loooong downhill after AS1 where I kept my eye on a close buffalo and ran in a hurry to the big rocks ahead for another stop. I invisioned crapping in my shorts if he charged, maybe that would have been the last stop at least.  One more a few miles later. Long down followed by lots of switchbacks back up then flattish back to aid. Hit that one also in 57min at 1:53. Figured out the math in my head and figured I'd be to the halfway turnaround at 2:50. That would work. Was shooting for 3:00 but 2:50 would be a lot slower than the 2:30 I originally wanted. 
Some neat views courtesy of my friend Jason Brockman who ran his first ultra Saturday!  You can find more in my Oct 2012 and March 2013 posts. Antelope Islamd is a neat place!

Heading north was always tough because of a headwind and much of the 11-15.5 mile stretch was heading north. So I was surprised when I hit the turnaround in 2:42. Whoops. I didn't feel like I was working too hard, but the problem with that split was I'd have to work even harder to negative split and my brain is pretty stubborn when there's an idea in my head. I figured I'd just run 3 or so minutes faster each aid station (AS) from 15.5-25 and then run the last 5 stronger. I calculated my place in the women and was around 6th with 1st being 13 minutes ahead of me at halfway. Ouch. But I wasn't there to win so I didn't dwell too much on it which I was pleased I was actually able to do, not dwell on it. I had only passed 1 woman in the first loop but as the second started I started passing more. I never pass people with a 'kill' attitude you see in Ragnar and other relay events where they mark off everyone they pass with tally marks on their van as 'kills'. Hate that. But I enjoy keeping my mind busy and motivated with spotting someone ahead and starting to count after they pass a simple landmark I can remember. I stop counting when I pass it and do that every now and then while the number goes down until I pass. Just works for me. Also put the iPod on around halfway which was nice except it kept shuffling to slower songs, it must have known the plan too, or my friends rigged it. Anyway passed a few strong looking ladies over the next loop. Back into AS4 at a 55min split which I wasn't thrilled with because we turned around about 2 min away from the Start, which meant I should have been under 55min to here. Decided I'd power hike stronger and run the downhills faster like I've been working on to drop time, but keep the flats conservative still. No buffalo this time and no stops so I thought I'd make it back to AS 5 early also. I made it 1 min faster than the first time. Hmmm. I really thought I was moving faster than the first loop and wasn't working at true race pace, but was working harder than before. Took off from that aid taking 400mg Ibuprofin. Wasn't going to since this was a training run and I wanted to feel any pain or discomfort to detect any injuries or annoyances to get them worked out before Sonoma. But I took it anyway, inflammation isn't really ever a good thing and I would be careful not to push TOO hard since pain was masked. Knew I needed to open it up and run fast in order to negative split since at this point I would only even split if I could make it in time. Finishing a long run strong is good training for race day too. Ran the last 5 or so at 7:30-7:45 I'd bet (didn't wear GPS, don't like it anymore, just wear a regular -and cute- orange watch for the stopwatch). Didn't push 100% still but was much closer to it than any point in the day. Estimated I'd need to be to the shirt I dropped by 5:16 to run 8 more min and get in under 5:24. Got there in 5:14 or 15. Finally got to the gate where there's 1/2 mile or so to go and was at 5:18, I'd make it. Eased up just a little to do as little muscle damage as possible and enjoyed running strong in to the cheers of a few friends at 5:20. 4 min negative split!  2nd place woman. Sure I made up time on that 13 min halfway difference but haven't seen results. Never thought I'd be happy to run slower than I was capeable :) but I was proud of keeping things under control. That 5:20 worried me a little because it was faster than planned and right now is all about staying healthy and strong for Sonoma but I feel good today and am happy that a fairly conservative (but not easy, don't let me fool you, I did work) run ended up in that time. I'm getting so excited for Lake Sonoma 50 where I will leave it all out there and push 110%!!

It's already been a long report so I'll try to keep the rest concise. Congrats to everyone out there!  Many good races were had and many others just worked their tails off and persevered. 
THANK YOU to the many friends who talked me through my strategy -repeatedly since I need to hear things at least 8 times, ask my husband, drives him nuts. Many of you were getting ready for your own races or in some cases racing the 100 and still asked about my race in the morning. Mark, Zac, Jeremy, Duncan and Jen being my most yaked at victims. Thanks for being patient with me!

Things I learned -
1. Lay off the nuts close to a race. I snacked a little overnight since my metabolism wasn't asleep. Ramen, a few handfuls of crackers and a handful or two of peanut m&m's. That's it. Then right at 3 hours before start I ate my usual PB&J with thinner bread but with crunchy peanut butter I didn't realize I'd packed. I usually use smooth. I wonder if all the nuts between dinner, overnight and breakfast got to me, disrupting my GI and forcing me to stop and squat several times. I also think sitting in a classroom for 10 of the last 15 days stunted my metabolism and digestion. I have a new found respect and sorrow for those of you with full time desk jobs, even that much sedentary lifestyle took it's toll on me!
2. Speaking of squatting, I was reminded of the importance of selecting a spot off trail that keeps me modest from both directions of runners, not just behind me. Sorry guy running toward me....
Had a guy just ahead of me peeing on the go for about 30 seconds. Seriously?  We are not elites at an elite race. Stand off the trail please. 
3. Although watching the 100 milers at night intimidated me, settling into my trot Saturday showed me both mentally and physically that I can run for a long time in a longer race, like 100 miles in June. 
4. Half the race and I wore the Altra Olympus, our new trail/road max cushion shoe because I wanted to keep my legs as stress free as possible and knew the extra cushion would help. It did. I also thought maybe it would keep me slower which I don't know if I can agree with (for ultra length events anyway) since I never felt slow in it, especially once I figured out how to roll forward onto the rocker on push off. Holy cow it was like a rocket!  Anyone wanting a pair they run true to size for men and 1/2 size small for women (against other Altra's, women size up 1/2 a size). Used the UltraSpire Quantum pack which I love.  Also got to try VFuel's new Fudge Brownie and Cool Citrus flavors - yum!  3 cool citrus  with 1 vanilla tasted like lemon meringue.  Love V's easy down, steady energy.
5.  I think I liked negative splitting. I had never done it before except a few times growing up swimming. It was hard but not too hard letting everyone take off ahead of me. It was nice to not feel my lungs burn and legs take 6 miles before they felt good because I started out fast.  It was nice getting to halfway and not dreading going back out. If anything I was excited to push a little harder and race my watch AS to AS rather than watch the splits get slower and slower. When I'd pass people it felt strong and confident and not like they'd try to race me for the position. I don't know how it will work in fast races, but for longer or more casual races I think I'll implement it again. Thanks Mark!
6. People are good. I saw so many big and small crews taking care of their runners. And when there weren't crews we 3 volunteers or other strangers took charge of an incoming runner. 
Saw more people smiling as we'd pass than I have in a long time (3 different races along the 15 mile trail I was on that all started at different times which meant people were coming and going all the time). I try to always smile and say good morning or good job or at least give a thumbs up or smile when I'm tired but man there was a lot of it going around. Love it!  We're all out there for fun, 99% of us don't do this as a profession, it should be fun and friendly, and it was. A great day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

My favorite nutrition/supplement website

Shameless plug. I'm not sponsored by them or anything. Good prices, great brands, cheap and fast shipping. They usually give automatic discounts in your cart based on how much you spend. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Red Hot 55k - woah

The temperatures were great!  Not hot, but warm enough I had to take my shirt off by mile 5 or so. Thought I'd come away with a nasty sunburn but barely any at all. We were lucky to have very little wind and overcast skies most of the day.
Mark and I after the race. Was fun having him drive down and stay with us!
Zac chasing my 10 year old Mckayla and I the next day at Delicate Arch. She gave us both a run for our money :)

Mark, Zac and I walked the 3/4 mile to the start and pretty much just as we got there but before I was ready they started the race. Oops. I assumed since I was wearing a timing chip that it wouldn't matter since your time started whenever you went over the mat so I started about a minute late and ran to catch up with everyone (turns out there was no start mat so I own that 1 min). This was probably a good thing because it got me moving quickly. I said hi to lots of friends in the first mile or two as I found my place. Felt like the pace was fast but comfortable for the first 4 miles and my friend Jen who I really wanted to be able to keep up with caught back up to me so I tried to hold on as she'd move ahead a little. The first 8 or so miles was mostly dirt road with a little bit of slick rock sprinkled in. 
Photo: Matt Gallegos

We got to our first big hill at mile 5 or so and I almost stopped to walk it but decided to keep riding the energy I had and to make a move and ran up it. Passed Kendall and Kelly and then immediately worried a little if I was going out too fast. Those guys are fast!  I felt like I was under control but a little fast and felt a few fatigue twinges by mile 7 so decided to reign it in just a little. Hit the first aid station around 45 min, 15 min fast (aimed for 10min mile average giving me a 5:42, or 10th place based on the last 2 years results).  Aid stations had great food and support by the way. I was focused on fast aid stations but the Reece's Peanutbutter cups were so calling my name. Wish they'd had them at the finish. 
We started going up and down technical slick rock mixed with dirt roads now, it was definitely time to pay attention. I really worked to push down those downhills, even the technical ones with fast lifted swift feet and I know it made a difference in my day. Around the first aid station I saw this lady in red and black with a nice pack on ahead of me, I watched her form. Looked like she was putting out energy of a 6 min mile yet was running an 8 min mile. She never walked any uphills even when they were certainly warranted. I thought there was no way she'd keep that pace up, but she did look talented so I could only focus on my race and let her go hoping to see her by the end. Helped me focus on running light and easy and efficiently (looking anyway).  I passed her around mile 10 once but she took off and I let her go. 
Photo: Matt Gallegos friend Steve I believe

Hit the 13 mile aid station about 2:00, 10 min early. After that I rolled my right ankle around the point where we look over the start line way below us. I did the whole quick hop up high in the air thing I do and kept going, but it gave me some pain a few minutes later. Had me worried, that's for sure, mostly for Sonoma coming up in 2 months. It calmed down but shortly after I rolled it again. This one didn't seem to hurt after (I have a theory that maybe I always roll that one because it's the foot I broke in 2010 after the tendons and ligaments around there refused to stretch any further). I was on my own around this time, several girls had passed me and it was a little lonely. Caught up to a few and with a quick stop at 17 mile aid station I was with them. Hit 17 just under goal time of 2:50. 
From there I met up with Courtney, a girl Who also ran the fruita 50 last year. I love her because she doesn't wear fancy clothes or gear but runs well. We chatted a bit while I messed around with my iPod getting it out and untangle and going. Probably slowed me down a few minutes, darn technology. Later I saw Zac up ahead. Had another "oh crap did I go out too fast" moment as he's a speedy, but something seemed off when I passed him. He was having a hard day with some heart rate issues. I wasn't keen to leave a good friend in a position like that, but I know he's a smart guy and there were lots of people around him. We were into the thick of the slick rock now. Steep up, down, some long some short, lots of keepin the eyes peeled for flagging as sometimes you had to go off a trail to stay on course and sometimes on slick rock there is no trail. It was well marked but kind of like where's waldo sometimes. I was grateful to run with a small group of 3-4 for almost 10 miles. We took turns sighting and leading. Thanks Brian and Courtney!    

Borrowing this photo from http://runjunkie.blogspot.com/.  It's a good representation of much of the slickrock.
Some was steeper and rougher :)
 Let's see, mile 21 aid was right on time at 3:30 and was at the top of a long steep climb, was nice to get to. Was the only place I grabbed anything besides water and coke from an aid station. Grabbed a small square of pb&j to help the 2 ibuprofen I was taking for my hips that were sore for whatever reason. From there there was plenty more slick rock to jump up on, down from, run sideways on, you make it.
Photo: Matt Gallegos
We got to the last aid staton at mile 28 on time at 4:40 and I was quick in and out and left. Had 3 or so big steep almost hands on rocks climbs to get up, ran down through a cool little canyon where I saw the only water pool of the day and then hit a dirt road where I turned it on!  I knew it was under an hour left and I ran. I felt in my recent road racing element and knew I was going about as fast as any women around me were going to go, so felt fairly safe but still ran hard because it felt good. Felt great to open the stride up and still have legs. I imagine I was running 7 min miles on the flats. Brian caught up again and I gratefully followed him through a little more route finding areas and he encouraged me to pass a girl up ahead. We got past her and after looking for hours finally spotted the red/black lady. I said I wanted to catch her and he said to go for it but that he may not be able to come. I kept my eyes on her and ran hard, not 100% but a strong fast pace. I wanted to approach her quietly in case she wanted to put up a chase, wasn't sure I had that much energy left. When I finally caught her she apologized for almost blowing snot on me and I told her no problem and took off up a hill faster than was comfortable but I had to. I ran the last mile of downhill switch backs worried she or Jen would catch up but I was pretty confident I had it. I can't believe I caught and passed her. And nothing against her, she was a work horse out there and turns out she's a pretty big deal (her name is Anita Ortiz) and I ran a race well enough to catch her at the end. I was thrilled to pieces! I wondered how far the finish was but as I saw older spectators and smelled food I knew it must be close and there is was, right around the corner. I ran hard with a smile on my face at what a great day I had had and to see my 2 year old Birthday girl waving and my other kids clapping up on the rocks above. So happy with the day! 

5:27, 11th place in a very stacked field!  Ahead of people I admire very much and just a few people behind women like Darcy Africa and Jen Shelton. Wow. Almost 20 minutes faster than I had planned and when I asked legend Karl Meltzer (who also took 10th in the men's race) if it was a fast day (meaning easier conditions) or just a fast field, he said a fast field, made my day. I overcame a few mental lows, one section of fatigued legs, a few minor ankle rolls and pushed a harder pace for most of the race but didn't blow up. This was not an A race, it was a somewhat last minute training race but I wanted to go out strong still, not sure I expected to feel this strong.  I just wanted to see where my ultra fitness level was. Nailed my nutrition and hydration (thank you UltraSpire Quantum belt (held 2 flask I filled with water every aid station), ViFuel (every 40 min), a few caffeinated GU's (every 3rd gel), metasalts, Gu salts, sport legs, hammer tissue rejuvenator) and loved my Altra Lone peak 2.0's which release in the summer (no slips at all, great to have confidence on the rock) and Injinji trail socks. 
I know many friends had a rough day out there, sorry guys!  I believe I had the kind of race I did in some part because of my marathon training and race at the end off last year. To learn to run at threshold was key for me, to learn I could push harder longer than I thought. I ran faster than my goal yesterday and saved myself some muscle and joint fatigue by not holding back on the downhills but picking the feet up quick, always reminding myself to not hold back, and by stepping quickly with less impact. I was very happy with how my downhill has improved and went and it gave me a lot of confidence to know that if I could keep up on the downs that my pulling ahead on the ups would not be for naught. I'm so thankful for the support of my family and friends, looks to be a great year!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Handy winter pony tail trick

I had the chance to go skate (nordic) skiing today for the first time in several years. Truth be told I've probably only been half a dozen times total, and it's a crazy good workout especially for the arms ironically, but I really like the skating movement. Went with a friend Canice and his little girl Fiona. Got to try out the ski kit on a Chariot, a kit we haven't purchased thus far. It was harder for sure but would be a even better workout and fun to enjoy the nature with a little one. 
ANYWAY, sorry. So we were going along and my hair was down because I forgot an elastic, but I needed my ears covered with my buff (which are awesome to cover or head or pull down to cover your neck and are super easy to make if you can't buy one, it's just a 1 seam tube of fabric, knits don't fray) but I was getting hot and my hair was blowing all over. So I figured out how to tie it back and cover my ears. Perfect!
Just twist the buff in a loop in the back when it's on and pull the hair through, voila!
Ok so it's probably been done before but it was new to me so I thought I'd share. Get out and enjoy something different using this season off from high mileage and intensity. I plan to start my structured training for an event in April at the end of this month. Until then it's play. Base and cross training are good for the mind and body!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Believe, work, achieve - What I learned from my last birth

I gained a lot from my youngest daughter's birth*.  This was my 4th birth, and the previous 2 had been natural. It was and is important to me for several reasons. I believe it is the healthiest for myself and my baby, it doesn't interrupt or numb vital and fascinating hormone activity going on within a laboring body, and I can labor and push more effectively since I can move my body around. I recover much better and it puts me more in control, aware, and a part of this beautiful and powerful experience that I definitely don't want to numb while I play cards or play on the computer like I did with my first birth. 
Birth is hard work, no doubt, both physically but also mentally. Other than educating myself deeply on all the mechanics of birth, I didn't particularly prepare for my 2nd and 3rd, just used a midwife, and breathed deeply and did my best to keep calm. I had great births, much better than my first medicated and everything but a c-section delivery, but I knew there could be even better. I knew I could have less fear and more control. Fear can crush you.

So I got to work training my mind. I looked into and purchased a Hypnobabies program and learned to train my mind and body calm, but more importantly, programmed myself to believe that all was well, I was capable, and that my birth would go smoothly and that I would handle it well. There is much more to it than that, but the biggest thing I gained was positive affirmations. Daily positive affirmations crush fear. I knew I could do it and that all would be well. I never exposed myself to negative birth stories or videos. Any fear or doubt I exposed myself to could have snuck into my subconscious. Now before you think me irresponsible, I was and am very educated in all things birth and I surrounded myself with qualified midwives, who are so very smart and wise with birthing mothers and babies.  More so than doctors in my opinion save truly high risk situations.  Midwives know what to watch for and see any complications before they are a problem and then care appropriately. I knew they would take care of us if needed, but it was my body that would do this important work and I trained my mind to know that this is what my body was designed for and that it would. 
And you know what?  It did!  I had the most controlled and comfortable birth I had had yet. I never lost it, never wanted out. I did it!

I was so empowered and inspired by this and have taken into other aspects of my life the last two years. Particularly with racing. I simply believe in a particular goal and that my body can do these things and that I'll handle anything I need to along the way, and I do. I work hard of course, educate myself, and surround myself with people who know what they're doing, can help me, and inspire and lift me. Just like with my births. 
Believe you are strong, believe in your goals, post them saying 'I can or am or will do x' before it happens, and keep repeating them and other positive affirmations daily. Surround yourself only with good and go out and work hard and enjoy yourself!

* http://jlmtk.blogspot.com/2012/02/ellas-birth-story.html

Sunday, December 8, 2013

TriStates marathon - new PR

 So I wrote in an earlier post about wanting to see what some real marathon training, real on the road/track speed work would do for a marathon for me.  I have gotten very strong in muscle and endurance from all the ultra miles I've run over the last year, but I knew my aerobic and lactic acid threshold was not as high as it used to be and my legs needed a refresher course on getting moving fast again.  The training was going to have to hurt and it did, but not as bad overall as I expected.  By the time the 6 weeks was up and it was taper time, my body was ready for it to be done though.  That much time spent doing speed work (3 days/week) for 6 weeks was about my limit.  But almost all of it went well and I was excited to give Tri States a go!  Tri States is a marathon that starts in Utah, runs though Arizona, and finishes in Mesquite, Nevada.  Kind of neat to get to run through 3 states in one day!
Sunset on my way into St George
Now I am a 30 year old wife and mother to 4, but I still feel (and yes I know I am) very young.  I had never been on a long drive solo before, but the way things worked out, I would be on the way down to the race.  I was worried a little about being able to stay awake and not bored, but it actually turned out to be the easiest and best 5 hour drives I'd ever made.  Not that I'd trade my children...but on a road trip?  Ok, maybe I would  ;)

Made my way to the hotel and checked in, again, feeling so grown up doing it all solo.  So grown up I took a teenage girl selfie in the mirror.  I know, I know.

So my husband you see, a co-founder at Altra Running and now over marketing, had been away working at
The Running Event in Austin, TX all week.
I charmed him into flying into Las Vegas Friday night
and taking a shuttle into Mesquite so we could spend the night, I'd do the race, and he'd drive my sore self home.
So, I picked him up at a classy roadside diner 10 minutes from the hotel and that was that, awesome!

He brought us home lots of goodies that we went though, including some surprises for race day for me!
So happy to have him join me!

On to race morning.  One of those handy surprises was a pair of prototype Altra's fresh from being shown off but never run in at The Running Event.  Show was over, time to put them to good hard use.  So yes, it's traditionally not good practice to try new things on race day, but I used brand new shoes for the first time in a marathon (technically I ran 5 minutes on the treadmill early that morning, but close enough) and spoiler alert - I LOVED THEM!  You know it's a good shoe when you put it on for the first time, run 26 miles, and never even feel it.  And I've been critical as a tester about other shoes we've made in the past, but this one really hit the spot.  The Altra One2 (One squared), watch for it this summer I believe. 

Pre-race:  Busses picked up from the hotel we stayed at, awesome.  The RD's had the busses leave late enough that we'd get up there with only minutes to spare so we didn't have to stand around in the cold.  Smart. Thanks guys!  Talked to some really cool older runners sitting next to me on the way up.  The weather that weekend was extremely strange and cold for Mesquite.  The picture below is several miles into the downhill race so as you can see, there was obviously snow up top.  Not enough on the road to complicate things any, thankfully, but it was brisk, probably 25 degrees. 
I started with my SLS3 compression socks, Icebreaker wool underwear and new Icebreaker Run Rush wool bra I bought the day before because I didn't want to get sweaty and cold in the cold, tights, Icebreaker wool tank, arm warmers, Old navy fleece long sleeve 1/4 zip top, neck gaiter, headband, 2 pair of cheap stretchy gloves and my Altra Headsweats visor.  And the most awesome Ultraspire Quantum belt I had on, I'll get to that later.  I shed all but the arm warmers and visor by mile 12 or so.  Was I overdressed?  A little, but the layers were cheap and easy to shed and leave at an aid station.  Worth the warmth at the beginning.  Probably never needed the neck gaiter.

Race: So the plan from my friend and coach for this race Mark was to run 7:20's the whole way and then push at the end to get a 3:12.  To bank energy, not time, despite this being a downhill first half and flat and uphill second half.  Well, I'm not a very good student because I started running with the lead lady and eventual winner, and we just went at a pace that felt good for the downhill.  Mile 1 - 6:30 or something like that.  Whoops.  By 4 or 5 miles in I had banked almost as many minutes.  I backed it off at this point just a hair because I could feel my quads twinge a little and settled in to a pretty consistent 6:45 pace.  I knew I was pushing, but things felt good.  I wasn't doing what Mark said, but it felt right.  I just had a feeling going into this that it was going to have to be pushed and hurt the whole time to get a time like I wanted.  I wanted to get a time I wouldn't want to better for a while. Truth be told, I probably didn't have enough trust that I would be able to negative split.

Mile 3 or 4 I think. Chatted with the taller guy on my right for several miles.
He was supposed to race in Houston that day, or maybe it was Memphis, but due to the freezing rain the race was cancelled.  Not wanting to not use the fitness he'd built up for (he wanted to go under 3, was very close last year at that flat race), he found this race and booked flights and a hotel....THE NIGHT BEFORE the race.  He was nervous all these hills would thwart that plan, and I was SO happy to see the results and see that he got his goal!

So around mile 7 the course is out of the small canyon it starts in and starts on one of several long straight stretches of road.  By mile 13 things were flat.  I hit the halfway point in 1:30, 1 minute off my half PR from several years ago (the last time I ran one) with far less effort.  THAT was a good sign despite the beginnings of worked legs I could feel coming on.  I knew I could work through that discomfort and that it was there early because I'd pushed harder. I also knew there were hills coming up and I was grateful to be 6-7min ahead of my goal. 
I hate to do it, but I ran into an empty port-o-potty there at the half marathon start because I figured I had the minute to spare (think I got in and out in under 40 seconds, yes, I timed it).  TMI, or maybe helpful hint, you decide - I grabbed someone's basically full water bottle off the ground before I headed in and while sitting down taking care of business, fished out of my pack and took the electrolyte pill and 2 ibuprofen I was due for.  No fumbling, multitasking at it's best. 
We turned toward a small town and started the rolling hills around mile 15 and came to face these beautiful temptress mountains pictured below.

Trying to peel ear warmer and neck gaiter off to throw to Jer I think.

Those mountains above were big and pretty and I would have loved to be in them exploring, but I was there focused, with work to do.  Ran into my husband about mile 15 and he didn't recognize me with my visor backward.  I didn't like the darkness of the brim on a cloudy day so I turned it around.  I made very little small talk when I'd pass by him, but was grateful to have him around.  

So I mentioned how this course had uphills the last 10 miles, right?  I was really proud of how smooth and strong I was running, not feeling any need at all to walk or slow down,
But there were definitely some good hills for a road marathon
Lots of long straights too.  My mind was still doing ok though.
Although I believe I started complaining a little about the hills at this point.  I was still charging up them steady, but they were a bit annoying.  The worst were still to come.
While the scenery was generally not super impressive, we went over this bridge and into neat sandstone walled roads like below.
My only real complaint with the course is that there was, for me, a faster paced marathoner in relation to the rest of the field, a 30 minute stretch with no water.  Almost 20 miles into the race.  I was relying on aid stations for water because they were typically around every 2 miles.  That's just fine, but I was totally dying for one by the time this 4+ mile stretch without one was over.  Yikes.  I hope those behind me did ok.  I worried for them.
So by mile 22 my mind was starting to get ancy.  Body was still doing ok, I was losing a little bit of time from my bank, but I was still on track to run 3:08-3:09 by my calculations.  I was starting to catch up with the lead woman too.  Eventually closed a 4 minute gap from her down to about 1.  Last long straightaway at about mile 24 and I can see to where we must turn off before the finish because clearly there's a big steep hill way up there and there's no way we go up that at the end of a marathon.  Right?  Right??  Ok, I see people not turning off before it.  I bet it's that street just partway up the hill.  Nope.  The turnoff for the last .2 was at the very top of a very steep hill.  Kind of cruel if you ask me :) and that's ME talking, who loves uphill.  But this was a road event, walking doesn't apply the same as it does in ultra and I really wanted that sub 3:10, but oh baby, that last 0.5 miles my body was absolutely toast.  Legs were heavy and tired, stomach was pukey, it wasn't fun to push, but I had to now for fear of now not even getting that 3:10.  I think the course may have been a tad long, don't know, don't race with GPS, not that watches are always accurate, but either way, I got through the finish line at 3:10! 
2 minutes under my goal time, 16 minutes faster than the SOJO Marathon 7 weeks earlier. 
I did it!  I had a couple of friends run similar times in St George this year and that sounded like a real fast marathon time to me, they inspired me to want to train for it and do it and I did!  This goes a lot along with the recent article I wrote about simply believing and working hard.  I hit the training times, knew I could, and knew I could manage my nutrition and that I was strong and smart and could do this.  I love that a friend Jen made me think about the fact that I never wanted out.  I never wanted it to just be over or thought "why am I doing this" as I have in other races.  I handled it.  I was prepared.  I love the time I achieved.  Do I want to go under 3 hours?  Silly question :) Of course I do, but I don't have a burning itch to right now, maybe winter of 2014 after ultra season is over like I did this one.  I really feel like I needed the focus only on this kind of training and race if I'm going to go for that goal.  So we'll see.  Right now I'm just super happy that I was able to push a strong pace the whole time and not be scared of it, not have my body break down badly until the last half mile where in the past it's been mile 16-18 (I mean my legs hurt at 13, earlier than usual, but nothing I couldn't handle).  I'm happy with the weather that turned out to probably be a blessing.  Temps in the high 30's low 40's for much of the race is better than 70's.  Turned out to be a great day!  So thankful my body has been so good to me. I try to take good care of it and I could do better but it's really hung in there with my mind and allowed me to train and race hard and have fun.
BAM!  Happy to have done what I trained for
I let Jer hold me up when I finished and then we went and sat down on the curb.  Small race, not a whole lot of post race pampering, but that's ok, that's not what I went for.  Had a very hard time getting back up, like had to be lifted up, couldn't even engage enough muscle to be pulled up things were that sore.  Stomach hung in there ok after, not great, but ok.  I've had a rough time with my stomach after the last couple races, it just wants to shut down like the rest of my body.  We collected my 2nd place overall prize of a cowbell and headed back to the hotel for an hour where I promptly landed like this.  Jumped Hobbled in between the hot tub and cold pool for some contrast bath while shivering away, then a quick shower and a LONG snowy in southern Utah drive home.  Those are never comfortable.  We had to get back to our kids, but when will I learn it's worth it to stay the night of a race before heading home. 

Well, there it is.  Had a great race and a totally awesome performance for me, almost perfect - if I'd gotten that 3:09 I'd probably call it perfect...maybe ;)  None of this would have been possible without the following:
Mark for writing out 6 weeks of speed work for me to follow.  Would not have done this without your help Mark!  Thanks to you and Zac for running some of the training with me too.
Altra shoes off course!  The One2 is a dynamite shoe!  Light, flexible, but good cushion, a little more than the original, but a lighter shoe.  Super soft barely there upper.  No foot pain, lower leg pain, blisters, nothing!
Ultraspire for the Quantum belt.  Zac wore one at Leadville and thought their smallest wouldn't fit me.  Thankfully I must have more hip than he does because that belt didn't move an inch!  Holds 2 flasks in the back (or several gels or 24 hour energy in each flask pocket) and a front zip pocket that could hold 5-6 gels, no joke.  I believe I started with 5 in it and my bag of pills and it wasn't bouncy or buldging.  No hooks, velcro, no closures, just soft air-y belt all around you step into and pull up.  I can wear it lower than traditional belts too, I like that.  I will totally be using this tri's, road races, and for well supported/dropbag ultras in the future.
Vfuel is and was my gel of choice.  Goes down easy, peach cobbler and vanilla are tasty, and I like the 10mg of caffeine, keeps digestion going.  Never any stomach upset.  Because of the higher energy output in this race, I took a gel more frequently, every 30 minutes.  2 V's, a higher caffeinated GU, V, V and a 24 hour energy about mile 16.  I strangely don't notice a big surge from caffeine despite my size and lack of daily usage, but I think it kept me steady.  Also got to try GU's prototype electrolyte pill that has ginger root in it!  Ginger is said to be good for upset stomach or nausea and I didn't have much but had a little something going on around half way, took one, and didn't have anything stomach wise after.  Not saying it was all the pill, but I am excited to test them out more.
And my family of course!  But I will say that these runs were a lot easier to fit in because I ran most from my house and they were shorter duration than ultra stuff so I did most while the crew was sleeping.  I am thankful for the means to be able to enter and travel to a race though

So there you have it.  TriStates was a good race that I would recommend.  Thanks for reading!  Hope your New Year is off to a good start!  Would love to see a comment!