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!


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!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Speedwork + marathon = ?

So in September I jumped into the Sojo marathon wanting to see what a years worth of much higher mileage yet no speed work would do for me in a road marathon. Would the strength translate into speed?  I found yes, but during the race I wasn't sure how it would turn out so when I was running the last 6 very fast I knew I could have done more. So I decided to recruit friend Mark to write me a 6 week real marathon training schedule. 3 runs a week, all structured, all faster than I was used to. Tempo runs, intervals, track work, Yasso's. Hard threshold work!
So this is the 'what can I do in a marathon if I train speed' race. Tri States Marathon starting at Utah Hill which is 26 miles NE of Mesquite. One turn the whole course, downhill the first half but then some decent rollers the next half. Oh, and around 20 degrees. 
I don't think this is as fast of a course as others, and I don't love the idea of downhill aided courses but truth be told, that's what most races around home are. I am happy with how training went. My goal pace I trained at was 3:12, so that's the goal. My current PR is 3:26 so I would definitely like to be under 3:20. Sojo felt comfortable for the most part. I'm guessing this won't be. I'm hoping for a time and performance I am so happy with I won't feel the need to better for a while. I can't wait to get back to the trails!  Here goes nothing!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

UROC 100k

Picture heavy post, all beautiful.  A little late, probably a little dissorganized and missing details, but should be pretty good.

What a fantastic day!  2 weeks ago I had the pleasure of running the UROC 100k, Ultra Race of Champions, a race deemed an ultra running world championship (although of course not everyone in the world was there, but the elite field was stacked heavier than probably any other event like it).  It was 65 miles weaving in and out from Breckenridge, Colorado to Vail and up over and down 4 big 12,000ft+ mountain passes. 13, 245 ft of elevation gain, 12,379 of elevation loss.  Much of the race over 10,000ft  My husband has been traveling a lot for Altra lately (he is a co-founder and now over marketing for Altra footwear) and I originally had no intention of going with him to UROC, although he suggested it.  I'm not huge on road trips, we had just gotten back recently from a Colorado trip, and and finding babysitters for our 4 kids, 3 of them in school can be tough.  But the stars aligned and I decided (like the week of,
story of my life) to go out with him and race.  We took my great friend and pacer Zac and his super fun wife Caitlyn out with us.  My husband wasn't flying in from his last trip until the afternoon of the expo, so it was good to have Zac there to help me drive and work it.  We arrived to snow dusting on the mountain and rain all day.  I wasn't too worried, as race day forecast looked good but it took a lot to stay warm at the outdoor expo, I think I had 5 layers on at one point and was still chilly.  That definitely influenced me to dress warmer for the start of the race.

I stayed with my typical race nutrition you can see detailed in my Katchina report but basically a gel every 40 min (ViFuel are my favorite, I'd take a caffeinated GU every 2-3 Vi's simply for the extra caffeine), a Metasalt every hour, 2 Sportlegs every even hour, 1 Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator every odd hour.  Didn't eat much solids, a couple potato pieces at a couple aid stations, PB&Nutella half sandwich, quesodilla slice, and coke of course at all aid stations except one that didn't have it.  I would have taken what sounded good, nothing much did and I did fine with gels.
I started wearing my Altra Lone Peak 1.5's, wool socks, Icebreaker undies, tights, short sleeve tech shirt, heavy gloves, beanie, and white pack jacket.  Kept all of that on except the heavy gloves that came off early at mile 6, the beanie I traded for a headband, and the pack jacket which came on and off when needed.  I wore arm warmers and a light vest in the afternoon and evening when done with the pack jacket.  Used my Nathan Vaporshape hydration pack for most of the race and 2-10oz Nathan handhelds instead, for a break in the middle.

I'm going to type in between all these photos to help jog my memory, hope it's not too cluttered to read.  We drove into Breckenridge early that morning and the race started without too much fanfare at 7:00am.  The first 4 miles were all uphill, most of it very steep going up a ski slope.  Ouch.  Not my favorite way to warm up.  No I definitely wasn't running, but even just hiking up it hurt.  The next few miles were flat and downhill, but they were icy.  My goals going in were to get sub 15 hours and to try for top 15, they earn Skyrunning points, an ultra that goes up and down mountains can be referred to as a Sky race, there were 11 elite women listed, so I figured why not shoot for a spot after them and get points for fun.  Friends Mark and Zac as well as my husband Jer talked me into going out harder the first 10 miles and seeing if I could stay around 10th place.  If it felt too fast I'd back off, if not I'd keep it up.  6 miles into the race I had no idea where the leaders were but I didn't feel good so was sure they were gone.  Didn't expect to see my crew (my husband Jeremy, Zac, and Caitlyn) for another couple hours, but there they were!  A nice surprise, and even nicer to hear I was in 9th!  I really needed that, to know I was where I wanted to be.  Now if I would just remember that every single race I take at least 6 miles to warm up.  Things would get better, and they did.
While we were in snow for the first 6 miles, crossed many beautiful wood bridges like the one above, we soon ran into less snowy trails with beautiful yellow leaves.  I didn't do the best job capturing it below, but it was nice.  You could finally feel some sun (it was close to freezing when we started), and this little stream ran along side us for a few miles.  The guy in the picture below, Dave I think his name was, stopped on the trail in front of me.  I asked if he was ok and if there was anything I could do.  He asked if I could unbuckle his pack because he couldn't use his hands. I of course obliged, and insisted on helping him more but he said he was ok.  A few minutes later he came up behind me with socks on his hands over his gloves, still unable to feel anything below his elbow.  I remembered I had a hot hands warmer and we stopped and I opened it and stuffed it into the palm of one hand under his layers.  We ran along side each other for quite a while and it was nice to chat.  He went on ahead of me eventually when I stopped to tie a shoe I think, but I passed him again a few hours later.
The girl in the above picture passed me about a mile after the crew told me I was in 9th, booting me to 10th.  Was a little bummed, but it was still a long day.  The section to the mile 13 aid station in Frisco was kind of a long one, didn't see many people.  Had a good downhill section then some paved trail (boo) then finally into the town.  Was good to see the crew and they were great and right ready for me, although the only thing I did was hand them my neck gaiter after realizing that aid station - in a city mind you - didn't have Coke.  Arg!  I meant to go to the bathroom there, but rushed out too quickly, I need to remember to slow down sometimes and get done what I recall in my head before getting there.  It was a goal of mine to move faster through all these aid stations than Katchina.  I wanted to race this, not just run it.
Left Frisco and got back on trail and started heading up, up, up.  From Frisco to the big pass (climb 2) was a little more than 5 miles which doesn't sound like a lot, but it was all up.  Some up worse than other.  A very wooded section before the below picture was especially challenging, just so steep.  I hiked/ran behind the guys in the picture below for several miles, and they were slowing down, and I was getting itchy to go ahead and use my powerhiking and not let any more ladies get close.  Right after I took this I passed about 4 of them.  In the photo below do you see the pass/dip to the left?  That's where we were headed.  It doesn't look that bad in the photo, but I remember looking at it and being in awe, it looked big.  Here we got into a lot deeper snow too, 6-18 inches.
The photo below shows the top of that pass.  Boy was it windy up there, I couldn't believe a couple was up there holding a cowbell.  I think they said they were headed down.  It would be very cold up there just hanging around not moving much.  The lake in back is the big lake in Breckenridge.  Now we would go around the Breckenridge side of the mountain we started on, but much higher.
Below is the lake farther away (and farther below) as I'm heading toward the big pass of the day.  It was windy and snow blown in places and not super runnable.
We were literally just traversing the side of this steep sloped mountain.  Did feel kind of cool, being way higher than the tree line.  I passed a couple more people while on this section, including a woman I hadn't seen before but who looked good, and my female friend from before!  Was very excited to see her, get closer, and then pass.  I always make it a point to say hi and good job and ask how they're doing when I pass.  I'm grateful for my well working body, not that they may be going slower.  I appreciate the friendliness of ultra running.  I thought triathlon had it, but not nearly as much as trail/ultrarunning.
 Breckenridge is below me in the picture above.  The photo below is the last mile of climb.  It may not look that far, but it switchbacks a few times.  The guy right in front of me was from Mexico, a native Tarahumara runner.  The poor guy had to sit down at the top of the pass, I suspect from altitude issues.  We were at 12,341 ft.
 I could not believe the view at the top (photo below)!!  It was so amazing and started the super high excited feeling I would carry for the next couple hours.  It was just so epic and unreal and cool.  A true tundra.  Very very windy, I was thankful to have my friend Mark's pack jacket with it's tight hood.  I wasn't cold at all, just sheltering from the wind.  In the photo below you see the trail heading off toward the black spot.  The next series of 4 pictures shows me following that trail starting to descend.  I thought it was pretty neat to see us go from the rocky tundra, to a few more plants, to the seeing the tree line, and then finally getting back into the trees. You can see the road heading down the middle of the picture in the photos too, that is the freeway heading toward Vail.
They probably don't, but I hope these pics show how big I was smiling.  I was having THE BEST TIME going down that mountain!  Highlight section of my day was from the top down through this section.  I would have loved to stay on it, but adored what I was seeing, how I was feeling, how I was running.  I ran so well.  I've been working on my downhill, really needing to improve it, and improved it for sure on this 5 miles down into the Copper Mountain aid station.  I could go on and on about what a fantastic high that was.  I was running well, happy, fed, warm, and in 8th place!
 Minus a few (20 minutes) of being a little frustrated feeling like the aid station should have been there a while ago (I was behind my time goals at this point, maybe they didn't take into account all the snow up top) and being out of water, I was so stinking excited running into that Copper Mountain aid station.  Zac and I are below.  I hadn't seen an aid station in several hours, and hadn't seen my crew in even longer.  I was running well, was excited about my position, and happy to see people.  I was so giddy, and while I don't relish in people having a bad day at all, when Zac told me 7th place was puking at the aid station, I got a little excited :)  That sounds bad I know, but I was excited I could move into 7th, not that she was sick.  I moved very quickly in and out of there taking the chance to move up another place, and I was off dragging Jer and Zac with my a minute up the next ski slope hollering out instructions for when I'd see them next.
From this aid station it was time to run 12 miles on a paved bike path.  12 paved miles.  Pavement is not normal for most ultras and frankly it's not normal for me much anymore.  The first half was fine, but it was getting windy and a little cold rolling into the next aid station where I'd pick up Zac as a pacer.  Top 5 women earned prize money but they cannot have a pacer and it was crazy to be having to consider if I'd put myself in danger of being ineligible of 5th place or DQ'd because I was planning on getting a pacer.  I had been running pretty hard and wanted Zac with me, and was fine not getting money, so we as a crew agreed the worst they would do is just not give me the money.  Deal, fine.
So I picked up Zac, traded my hydration pack for 2 small handhelds just for a change, lost the music I had been enjoying the last 5 hours in trade for great Zac stories, and off we went.  Decided not to change out of my tights like I thought I would.  We had some warm sections, but it cooled off nicely quickly.  Leaving that Vail Pass aid station at mile 33, Zac made me eat.  I did what I could but then tossed the rest.  This 5-6 mile section of the pavement was along the freeway, downhill, and my feet were getting tired.  Not painful like at Katchina, but tired.  I was ready to get off the pavement.  We came to an intersection where we were unsure of which way to go, luckily a cyclist pointed us the right way and not too long after, earlier than I was expecting actually, we got back onto trail!  Two Elks Trail.  A lady at that aid station took my picture, told me I looked great and asked my name and it's spelling so she could put it on iRunFar, a big ultrarunning website!  That was pretty cool! 

I was thankful for Zac's conversation about everything to keep me motivated through the road and now back on the trail.  We passed a pretty waterfall and started powerhiking again in thick woods.  I was thankful for the powerhiking break, easier on the feet and legs, and I love it.  The 3rd big climb of 4 wasn't bad, we handled it well.  We pushed well and I was pleased how fast I was moving and we passed a bunch of people.  Took a while to get to the next aid station and Zac unfortunately sipped off a rock there and tweaked his knee.  I tried to go to the bathroom at that aid station but with no success.  From here my low started. 
I was getting grumpy and unmotivated.  I didn't have the pep in my step anymore.  I wasn't at all considering DNFing or anything, I just felt like it was taking forever to make any progress.  I also stopped to squat every 10 minutes or so.  SO annoying to stop and even more annoying to not have any result.  TMI I know, but it is not comfortable jostling and running while feeling like the poop is right there.  Hate that feeling.  Hate not being able to get it out so I can get on with my race too.  It's not an anxiety thing, I can squat anywhere ;) I don't know what the deal was.  On about the 5th stop I finally had success (aren't you grateful for these details?) and hollered it up to Zac....and the next girl behind me.  Darn!  And not because it was embarrassing, but because someone passed me.  7th felt great, I wasn't thrilled with 8th.  I know that's only one place back, but I had run in 7th for so long.  Zac tried his hardest to keep me happy and moving on, which wasn't an easy task. I was a grump.  It was starting to get dark and I wanted to get to the darn Minturn aid station.  From there it would be 10 miles to go, I would see Jer, it was the last big milestone.  I really wanted to get there.  When we finally got off the trail and had 1 mile on the road to the aid station I started moving.
We moved so fast in and out of Minturn and I was smiling, so happy to be on the last 10 miles (above).  Realized that 7th place was only a few minutes up, and that 5th and 6th place were a lot farther ahead, enough not to worry about.  That was good actually.  But I did want to try for 7th.  We are good powerhikers and that is what we had coming with this last 4th climb, so I gave Jer a kiss and ordered Zac out of the aid station.  It was funny as we were on the road we ran past a guy who overheard us talking about pills, and whether I wanted to feel sustained or pumped up (caffeine pill), he said he wanted one too :)
So off we went up the hill at a good trudge for a couple miles.  Then I started getting tired.  I wanted to be able to see and know where we were headed, which is hard in the dark.  I got a little choked up at one point which is bad news for my breathing.  Was a scary minute or two trying to get calmed down so I could breath.  Zac motivated me to keep going and promised if I finished top 10 I'd get a big ol Zac hug (and they are great!), reason enough to keep moving.  We finally got to the last aid station to find out 7th was more than 16 minutes up, she had made a lot of ground so I wasn't going to worry about her anymore.  That again was good, we just needed to focus on running strong to finish. 
It was cold but not too cold.  At the prerace meeting they pointed out that the finish was below a switchbacky road.  I saw the road then, figured we'd see and hear the finish line for a while and know it was close.  I wish that were the case.  I was very impatient and what we thought would only be 20 more minutes, turned into more than 40, it just kept going!  So many switchbacks, didn't seem like we were getting any lower, even though we were.  I know I was bugging Zac complaining so much, I was just anxious to be done.  I was happy to have my top 15, heck, top 10 finish, but I was also focusing on my time goal of under 15 hours.  Because the course turned out long, 65 miles instead of 62, which I didn't know at the time, I was cutting it close.  It was 14:50 and I still couldn't hear or see the finish.  Finally, not more than 2 minutes before the finish we saw it (coudn't hear it because no music or announcing....).  I got a little lost finding the actual finish chute (not the best last 10 miles of glow marking) but got through it - just under my goal!!  14:57! 
 And after I finished in the time I wanted I could get super excited about my finish place - 8th woman in a starting field of 11 national and world elite runners!!  Holy cow!!  I never really saw that coming, top 15 really was my goal, to get top 10 was just a dream.  I had an overall fantastic day!  It opened my eyes to maybe what I could do someday.  I had my couple somewhat brief low points, and thankfully I had Zac to help me get through it, but it's also good too, because some of it I can change in the future and improve a future race.  I was so happy to have Jer crew me, it was great to see him and have him take such good care of me.  He never complained during the race which was so great as it's not the easiest thing to just hang around all day waiting to see your runner for a minute or two.  Caitlyn was a great help too while not feeling well herself.  It does take a village and I've got a great one :)
After the race the cold set in and so did the backlash or working so hard all day.  I felt absolutely yucky at the condo.  Just wanted to curl up in bed but everything was uncomfortable.  Found myself in the bathroom both sitting on the toilet and holding a bucket, never did need the bucket though.  That isn't all that much fun, I was up till 2am when I decided to take a warm bath that may have helped me get a few hours of sleep later.  The next morning though I felt ok, just stiff, and my recovery was great.  I was sore for a few days, but didn't feel any long term fatigue and didn't get injured.  Easier recovery than Katchina.  Pleased about that.  Probably my last long race for the year, and so happy with it.

In my most mature voice - what a challenging but freaking fantastic and epic day!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

My alter ego

You know I had a cool realization this morning. After a perfect greeting of hugs from my kids after getting home from my race in Colorado, it was off to bed. I woke up and it was back to normal. My normal is staggering out of bed, getting kids up for school, finishing homework we should have last week, making breakfast which is often cereal but today was pancakes, finding someone pants and someone else their backpack, then saying prayers and kissing them goodbye and settling in with the two girls still left at home. Visited with my awesome neighbor Amy, got the baby chicks back from her, got them new food and water and freed them in the backyard from their cold weather box prison. Changed a very stinky diaper and had a puzzle plopped on my lap to do with the baby. 
Then it hit me. I went up, over, and down 4 amazing 12,000+ foot passes in Colorado barely more than a day earlier. I went from dry dirt, beautiful leaves and streams, to snow dusted trail, then snow covered trees, then a full on gusty wind snow covered alpine tundra on top, and then back down, over and over again. I ran fast with a smile on my face from aid station to aid station where my husband was ready to hurry and pit stop me if you will, with new gels and food and clothing I'd need. I'd tell the aid station my bib number so they could update the results friends at home may be watching with my progress.  I had a picture taken while running in 7th and was asked how to spell my name at an aid station so she could put it on iRunFar, a running website.  I felt like a rock star. I ran along side (well behind but not by too far) some the best runners in the world and pushed my body to it's limit. My pacer Zac and I spoke of everything while we were running the last 30 miles together, including my kids, but that time was all about seeing how well we could get me through that race. It's like I'm living a whole different life sometimes.

And then I woke up this morning and got back to what I realized today is my real life. My family. 
Sometimes I mesh racing/training and family as one, but it really isn't. I am a wife and mom first and Iove it!  I just get to have a pretty freaking cool alternate life on the side sometimes. Now if you'll excuse me I'm sure there's some mess to clean and a little voice hollering for me :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My first Xterra!

I've wanted to do Xterra (off road triathlon) for a few years now but life has come up and mostly, I was not ready for the mountain bike.  I wasn't exactly perfectly ready this year, but I took the mountain bike out a few times close to home and rode most of the course a couple times.  I have probably been on a mountain bike a dozen times, max.  I'm using a line from friend Heath Thurston who put it well.  I wanted to 'not wreck, and not cause one'.  I was worried about holding people back (the thought of needing to pass people on the bike really didn't cross my mind) or falling over or something on this mostly single track trail course.  Oh and let me tell you about my mountain bike.  All aluminum, entry level components, bike bell for leading at IMSG, cage pedals, and even a trusty kickstand.  yes, a kickstand.  I bought it used a few years ago for $100 from a teenage girl who wanted to go to dance camp instead.  So while not at all idea, it basically got the job done and that's what I trained on. It's heavy, doesn't have rear shocks which makes you feel like you're bouncing around a little, the chain was starting to rattle which worried me it was coming loose, and the normal pedals were rubbing rocks and the side of the trail sometimes.  Anyway, a friend from Park City graciously offered me his very nice full suspension carbon bike to use for the race if I wanted.  I don't like trying new things on race day, but this sounded pretty nice.  I put my speedplay pedals on it since it wasn't worthy of cages, tried it out Friday night and after much deliberation decided to go for it.  I stressed in T1 before the race that I had made the wrong decision and felt like I was cheating on my bike, but it was a sweet ride!  Oh yes, and one more sentance before this paragraph runs on way too long.  My husband is traveling this week (and most weeks this fall) so I had to take kids to a friends house close to the race.  They got home from school and just wanted to relax and play with friends for a minute but eventually I wrangled them into the car....late.  My phone said the drive would take 1:20 to get up there, I had 1:15 until registration closed.  AHHHHH!  I stressed completely the whole entire drive especially when hitting rush hour traffic several times.  I called people up in Ogden to see if they could go in to register me but everyone was busy so kids and I just crossed fingers and prayed.  I pulled into the park parking lot 5 minutes after closing and RAN to the tent and by the skin of my teeth registered, the very last person.  Whew!  The kids were so cute with their nervous faces, asking me when I came back if I made it - I threw my hands up in the air and they cheered  :)

ANYWAY, lets move on, sorry.  I'll try to keep the rest brief although I do want to remember a lot of details for this virgin race.  Parked at the trail a mile or two before the swim to test out the nice mountain bike one more time about 6:30am and just decided to go for it.  Dropped that bike off in T1 at Pineview Reservoir about 7am.  Drove up to T2 and the finish at Snowbasin ski resort and gathered my swim stuff for the bus and dropped off my shoes in T2 and climbed on a bus the annoying naggy announced lady kept bugging people to get on (we still had 20 more minutes to catch a bus mind you).  Got back down to the lake, got marked with Xterra's big fat black number stamps which interestingly they put on the front of your arm, not side like I'm used to.  My nice number lady also put my 30 on backwards so I was E0.  Some guy later said it was backwards because I was protesting turning 30.  I like that logic but I'm ok with it  :)  Pro's cannon went off while I was getting ready and I eventually wandered down to the water to talk with Heath's wife who was saying the swim was very long today.  Didn't bother me any, I seem to do well on the swim lately despite not training for it this summer.  So there are 3 races at this race, the National Championship for the Pro's and age groupers, the same 'olympic' distance anyone can enter without qualifying, and the 'sprint' or sport as was the name yesterday which was shorter than the longer course.  A 1000 yard-ish swim, 12 mile mtn bike, 3.6 mile run.  I chose the sport because I didn't want to get in over my head and was worried about too many mountain bikes behind me that would have to pass and I didn't want to stress about being in their way. Well my wave was standing in the water for a good 15 minutes ready to go when they finally hollered over to us it would be another 15 min or so till we started.  What??  I had to get back down and get my kids and any delay worried me.  Kind of annoying, I just wish they'd have used their chatty swim exit announcer to tell us what was going on.

Swim - 20:34 Start was choppier than usual, I guess I don't usually start with men though.  A lot that went out too fast held it longer than usual but I eventually got some space although I did swim alongside the same guy the whole time.  Water was a bit choppy/wavy which I like.  Sighting was good.  Thank goodness I brought my Sable goggles this time.  Worth the $.   Great feeling swim, finished strong, first female out.

T1 - Definately longer than usual.  Weird to put on bike gloves and a hydration vest (since I don't have much time to take a hand off the handlebars with a mtn bike.  Also never use socks but did today incase any rocks got in my shoe, can't have any blisters going into the UROC 100K this weekend.

Bike - 1:35.31 Flat first mile or so on the shoulder of the road to get to the trail.  Dropped my gel - darn it!  I like calories and don't like littering, at all!  The initial trail worried me.  It's a steeper long climb, has big rocks, and I'd had trouble with it before.  Thankfully it is wide to give people room to move around when there's more of us, but I was still worried.  And while shifting early on my chain got jammed.  Awesome.  I didn't fall over when the bike locked up though, that was nice.  Climbed off and spent a few minutes pulling on it to get it back on but it worked thankfully.  Was just behind this guy that got locked up on his bike, fell over to the side and then rolled head over hills twice down the hill to the river - ahh!  I stopped and unclipped worried about him but he got back up embarrassed it happened, and worse yet in front of a woman and didn't say much.  I had to run my bike up a bit to be able to get on it again.  Climbed off and ran one more section that I hadn't gotten up before.  Embarrassing since others could do it, but oh well.  From there I was surprised to see I was making good time and needing to pass people while going uphill which went ok, you just have to wait for a little bit of space and then zoom by quickly with an "on your right/left".  We came to a long downhill section that I had done pretty well on before, but the pressure of people behind me coming up fast got to me and I held back a little.  Got passed a lot actually but most were very gracious about it and I tried to be good too about moving over as much as I could when I could.  Was excited to finally get done with it and make the left onto the rest of the trail that would be mainly uphill.  I managed to pass all the women that passed me and I'm pretty sure most of the men.  Happy about that.  I was a wuss and walked my bike down some steps to a bridge after zooming ahead so no one would see me :)  Took my remaining gel where I planned and drained my water and finished up the last section of the bike.  It really went better than I had planned other than the downhill section.  Loved that I had good control and power going up and flat.  These ultrarunning legs are strong.  Managed 3rd woman on the bike.
T2 - Not much to speak of except it stinks to have to tie shoes.  I wore the Altra Superior 1.5 that isn't out yet and I just didn't have time to go buy new elastic laces.  Tieing them isn't a big deal, just takes time, although my left hip flexor cramped bad while I was bent over to tie them.  Glad that didn't stay.

Run - 31:52 The first half of this run was very uphill, as in enough I redlined where I ran, and resorted to powerhiking some - on a 5k.  I passed a few ladies by mile 1, not sure which race they were all in.  We turned at where the 5k and 10k split and I saw one more lady up in front of me, so she must have been in my race.  It was hard to have to powerhike a little knowing that doesn't make up much time, but eventually right before we connected again to the 10k to go downhill on singletrack, I made the pass.  From there I ran fast, no holding back on that twisty switchbacky downhill.  I never looked back, I don't like to, but I figured if I run my fastest downhill, it would take a lot to catch me.  Fatigue didn't show up until the last 1/4 mile when I could feel my legs give more on the technical downhill but I still ran strong.  Felt great to open up the stride long.  The run was really hot, did I mention that?  That first half up up up in the exposed heat was rough.  The finish line is very downhill and that's a little hard, but I made it in HAPPY!  Fastest women's run by 4 minutes, only a few men faster.
Sorry buddy, it's just business  :)
I had SO much fun (while redlining) on the run!
2:27.57 for a sprint.  Yeah.  Welcome to Xterra  :)  I was shocked and excited to have WON!  Yes it was the shorter race, not the championship, but I did not at all come in looking to do so, I just wanted to survive the bike and experience Xterra.  And experience I did!  It was hard, I was breathing hard the whole time, required so much more, almost constant, mental focus, the technical skills need it are great and I've definitely got room to improve, but I am so happy with how my body did!
I can't say with certainty right now that this is the direction of tris I'll go in, but I will definitely do more and would love to see if I could qualify to race in the championship race next year.  All the races require travel out of state except one in Moab which is tough, but we'll see what we can do.  Loved the experience and all it's challenges!   

Didn't love the hours it took to get my T1 bag and wait around for awards though when I needed to get my kids.  They didn't
do overall awards which was a bummer but I got an un-engraved generic age group medal (that wasn't specific to the event) and a small bag of Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner.... I'm always grateful for anything and it wasn't about the prizes, I raced an awesome race, but when I'm hours late getting my kids because they start and delay awards and won't mail them, I kind of expect them to be something worth waiting for.  Done complaining now that I look like a spoiled brat.  I promise I'm not, was just surprised certain parts of a championship event weren't managed better.  I mean between getting there early, starting late, and waiting through the award delays, I spent 9 hours on site for a 2.5 hour event.  Done complaining, I don't want this post to end negative, I had a great time and the race itself was very well organized and fun!
1st Xterra was hard, fun, and done!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Xterra! Highlight video

A highlight video of the pros yesterday, gives you an idea of the fun I had!

2013 XTERRA USA Championship from XTERRA TV on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm published! Pregnancy fitness

I wrote an article about pregnancy fitness for a mothering website, What to Expect 

I will post a more in depth version of it in the future.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Katchina Mosa 100k gear

They aren't stuff per say, but I really liked this picture my friend Jen took I just came upon 
Man I need to catch up.  This summer has been full of fun cool things.  But I want to finish the Katchina posts.  Here's all the stuff involved

I had 3 drop bags, used fabric string backpacks, and packed various 'stuff' in each, but put all the nutrition I knew had to come out for sure to replenish my pack, in a quart size zip lock bag.  I liked that, not fishing through clothing and other maybe gear to get to the stuff I had to have.   Also decided to pack any liquids like sunscreen in zip locks.  So here's the run down

New shorts from Ross, $12.  Pink, polka dots, roomy liner felt like I had nothing on.  Deal
White Altra shirt.  Don't normally wear sleeves to race and had an extra tank packed, but never decided to go with it, kind of liked having my shoulders covered from the sun and any pack chafing for a race that long though
New Moving Comfort Urban X-Over sports bra I got now that the girls are they're at their most deflated smallest, so cute, no chafing, had only worn it for 3 miles previously.  Awesome.
North Face hat.  Don't normally wear hats, haven't worn visors consistanly really because I don't like feeling the bad on my ear so went with a hat since it can't slide down.  I did buckle it against my chest under my pack a lot when I wanted sunglasses only which looked funny but worked better than pulling my pack on and off
Had sunglasses on the whole time, but don't remember what brand, nothing fancy.  I have been trying to wear sunglasses all the time though, I have bad squint/frown lines at too young an age
Wore these cool new SLStri pretty purple compression socks.  Usually wear CEP.  Really liked these new ones I'm testing.  No chafing, foot issues, leg issues and they're just really cute.  My calves never did get very tired.
Altra Lone Peak 1.5 trail shoes from the beginning to mile 54 I believe when I changed into my Torins hoping the extra cushion would help my throbbing feet.  It helped a little but I think it was just all the uneven big cobblestone style rock that worked my feet over.

Wore my Nathan Vaporshape pack the whole race.  Packed and considered my Ultraspire, but liked the side pockets of the Nathan to hold my 2 bags of pills.  No issues with the pack.  Like it a lot

ViFuel Gel.  Consumed about 16, 1 every 40 minutes with a Gu every couple hours in between.  They work great and I love them a lot.  Peach cobbler is the best flavor followed by vanilla in my opinion.  They are thin so go down well and have about 10mg of caffeine which is a great amount for steady energy and digestion.
Gu Rocktane or other caffeinated Gu.  I don't love Gu brand, it's thick and can be tricky with my stomach, but I can tolerate them in moderation.  I had 1 Gu every 2:00-2:40 for the caffeine.
EFS Liquid Shot, vanilla - felt like I might want a change and the added electrolytes so picked this up at Little Valley around mile 38 and had it until 54.
Coke - love coke.  In races, I hardly drink it out of races.  Filled my soft flask with it starting at Windy Pass which was almost half way at around 28 miles.  I'd drink a cup at aid stations and sip on my flask.  I like the stomach settling and caffeine.
Honestly didn't do a ton of solid food.  I had bars in my pack and has 2 Kashi chocolate coconut bars I guess, a couple Honey Stinger Waffles, ate a couple small cooked potatoes, some watermelon and a half a PB&J, but don't recall eating much food food.  I did and do well on gel.  I tried some Honey Stinger chews and they may have made me nauseous, it could have not been them though and just that time in the race.  I've never had issues with them before.

Metasalt electrolytes.  Probably consumed 18 pills?  Would take 1 on the hour every hour, sometimes more if needed and once or twice I opened one into my mouth for faster absorption.  Tastes horrible that way!
Sport Legs.  To combat lactic acid accumulation. True my lack of anaerobic pace doesn't yield lactic acid, but I still think they work.  Funny website.  Took about 18 also.  2 one hour before then 2 every 2 hours on the even hours.
Tissue Rejuvenator.  In an effort to keep inflammation down I've been taking these pills in big doses morning and night when my knees start complaining, but heard you can take them slowly during long runs/races.  I took 1 every other hour on the odd hours when I wasn't taking Sport Legs.
Ibuprofen.  Took 1 (200mg) around half way I think, and 2 (400mg) about 5 hours later, with about 3 hours to go in the race.
Packed Tums for cramping, Pepto pills for stomach issues and blister stuff and first aid but thankfully needed none

Used a spray sunscreen that was nice so I didn't have to get my hands sticky, used a sunscreen stick for my face and spf chapstick when times got tough :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Katchina Mosa 100k - The details

Katchina Mosa 100k.  Long post ahead.  It was a long day.  Lots of details.  Picture post below.  Nutrition and gear post to follow in a few days. 

Edited to add: I feel like I should give those not familiar with ultrarunning a littke idea of how it works. No I am not running 5k pace for 62 miles. I settled into a nice steady 10ish minute mile that I could trot along at for most of the race. Sometimes it was faster if I was feeling good or on a a downhill, sometimes it's a powerhike when things get steep. Trick is just to keep moving and enjoy the time and sights. 

3am start was new to me.  Got to bed late and only got about 2 hours of sleep.  I got there about 2:30am, dropped my 3 drop bags off with supplies I'd need later  in the race.  The race was supposed to start at 4:00 sharp so I walked up the hill at 3:55 and off they went about 100 yards in front of me.  Oh well.  Plenty of time to catch up :)
Running the first 2 miles north on the left fork of Hobblecreek Canyon on the road up to the dirt road we'd spend the next 14 miles on was calm and dark and quiet under a stary sky but I talked with a few people I knew including Altra coworker Brian Beckstead who kept drilling into me that I must take the first half easy, easier than I think as to not blow up.  I kept that in my mind and it was actually comforting to know it was ok to take it easy those first hours.  Before getting onto the road we ran by a field where I saw lots of glowing eyes.  Turned out to be a big herd of elk, pretty cool.
So up we went for several miles, met a new friend Dan I would be running most of the day with turned out.  We eventually crested the canyon and could see the valley below us.  I thought I knew where we were but my bearings were off.  No big deal, I was only going off of time and aid station time goals I got from the great Davy Crockett from his 2006 Katchina.  SO helpful to know about what to look for for my 16:something goal.
Got to aid station 1, 1:50, 9 minutes behind Davy but no big deal, a very early part of the day.  Still dark by the time we got there and it was neat to see a tiny white light off in the distance to run toward.  I left alone as Dan had made a stop earlier but he soon caught up.  As we headed off toward Rock Canyon it finally started getting light and the trail a little easier to run since previous to that it had been super rocky dirt road, always jumping around to find a new somewhat smoother line.  This was the longest rockiest dirt road I had ever far.  Was so beautiful when the sun came up running through a forest of pines.  Into aid station 2 I was 20 minutes back at 2:55.  Into aid station 3, 3:32, I was 27 minutes off Davy's running time, but 13 minutes ahead of his goal time.  Finally time to start heading up Rock Canyon toward Lightning Ridge.  After 15 miles of rocky dirt road it was so nice to be off the real rocky stuff and onto real trail (singletrack dirt, yes I'm a purist).  I kept Brian's words in my head but know I'm a good climber and wanted to keep closer to Davy's times so I probably moved a little faster than I needed to.  Felt good to pass people though, even if many passed me back on the downhill later on.  This trail is beautiful, heading up into a meadow and looking up at the beautiful mountains and sun rising above them.  Was so enjoying the quiet and peace that is a high mountain trail when it was rudely interrupted by 2 dirt bikes.  I couldn't believe they were really coming up this trail.  This was the most beautiful part of the whole course.  Couldn't they have ridden down on the dirt road we spent so long on?  It is so high and narrow and beautiful and quiet up by Lightning Ridge and yes legally they could be there, but the noise was such an interruption to nature, not to mention all the abuse they did to the trail, loosening up all the soil, ripping up plants in some places.  I gave them some grumpy looks when I had to pull over twice to let them by.  We had some choice words for each other a few miles later as they sat in the middle of the trail just past a turn I had to make, something about how I needed to share the trail and my shoes did as much abuse to the trail as their gasoline powered dirt bikes.......right.  SO happy to be rid of them but I had to consciously tell myself to not think about them or my anger toward them, I even prayed for a clear mind from them.  It wasn't going to help me at all and I don't need to be prideful or ornery either.  So that is the last I will mention of them.

I got the top of the ridge at 4:45, 25 minutes behind Davy, but about 10 minutes faster than he did.  Had he been next to me his probably would have toasted that 10 minutes heading down into the Big Springs aid station.  It was steep and loose in places, I have been working on my downhill but this was still pretty challenging for me and I had a couple people I had passed on the up, pass me here.  Bummer.  I tried to let gravity take me and not put the brakes on at all, I can feel it in my knees when I do.  Finally getting in to Aid 4, 5:35 at Big Springs I was 10 minutes behind Davy's goal time.  Ugh.  This was my first drop bag and I moved through it as quick as I could, but it still felt like it took a while to get out of that aid station.  I stuffed like 8 gels in, left my headlamp, put my arm warmers in my pack, refilled the pack with water, sunscreened up a lot since it was warming up a lot and I didn't want to fry my stomach and back again if my shirt came off like I did in my 50.  Finally got out of there and it really did warm up.  I had a bit of a rough section from here until Windy Pass.  Just felt like it took forever, climbed forever, my legs acted tired.  I swore I kept hearing women behind me too and I didn't  want to get passed.  I think they were actually a couple of hikers in front of me.  I didn't see 1 other runner in the 2 hours it took me to get between aid stations.  I got the music out for this section.  I was 15 minutes off Davy's goal time at Aid 5, 7:40 and 40 minutes behind his actual running time.  Double ugh.  My goal wasn't super firm in that this was my first 100k so I wouldn't be super angry if I didn't get it, but I also didn't want this to take all day.  That aid station was great, the Addict 2 Athlete crew were great!  I grabbed my first flask of coke and a half a PB&J sandwich.  I saw Dan there but he left before I did.  The ridge line running for the next mile or two after this aid station was neat and a nice break to get to run again.

The next section did seem long at times but not as bad as the last until the very end when I'd caught up with Dan again and thought we were were almost there when we really weren't.  I copied the race director's very detailed course description onto my phone so I had an idea of what was coming or where I was.  Turns out 1 sentence doesn't always mean you're not an hour away from the next sentence  :)  I was very much looking forward to getting to Little Valley because I was running low on water in my pack and other supplies, getting hungry for food, thought of it as my over the halfway point since it was 38 of the 62 I'd run that day, but mostly it was because my family would be there.  After finally getting to that switchback we'd been looking for for a while and realizing it was indeed the right one that was close to the aid station, passed by a trickling spring I tried to drink out of.  I could finally see the tops of some cars off in the distance and I was finally there.  30 minutes behind goal time into Aid 6, 9:57 at Little Valley.  Jer and the kids were up the road ready and waiting for me.  Was SO happy to see them!  I handed my pack off to Jer to repack with my 2nd drop bag and I ran with only my flask of water on the 1.3 mile out and back we had to do there.  When I got back I sat down (*gasp!*) and enjoyed my family for a second before heading out.  They gave me a coke, wet washcloth to wipe down with, we put new sunscreen on, a wet shirt, new insoles in my shoes as my feet were getting tired.  30 minutes later, whoops, I left.  After I got stung by a bee.  Ouch.  I was leaving at least 45 minutes behind goal pace and I had Jer let my friend and pacer Zac know so he could leave later.

Wow, it was nice knowing we had less than a marathon left, but the next almost 20 miles were so long and boring and arduous.  Gone were the beautiful vistas and smooth trail.  It was back to big rock bumpy dirt road sometimes with such deep ruts you were jumping all over the place, there was no easy running.  I caught up to Dan after a several mile climb which I was grateful for because I hadn't seen anyone in those miles or any flagging and was a little concerned I wasn't going the right way.  The sky was looking grumbly and I thought we'd get rained on but it held off.  According to Davy's goal, the next section was a long one, 3 hours before another aid station.  Turns out we either made good time or this is where Davy's day got hard.  I knew in advance that he walked the last 18 or so miles at 4 miles/hour so if I could close to back on pace and my body too cooperated I could still get that goal time.  Well, Dan and I rolled into Aid 7, Bathtub, 1 minute under goal pace at 12:06!  I couldn't believe we were back on pace, yes!  We were a little slower after this aid station, I wanted to see the bathtub that turned out to be a dirty broken cow trough bath tub and Dan had to run back for his bag, but off we went.  We walked so much of the next section.  He was starting to have asthma troubles and at this point about 45 miles in, the area around my bunions hurt so badly.  It hurt worse when we walked ironically, but he was having trouble breathing and I honestly just didn't have the go energy really and was starting to get a little grumpy.  I stayed on top of my nutrition, but this was probably one of my 3 bigger lulls in the day.  It was a lot of climbing too.  We just took it as we could.  This was another section where we were waiting for the "small rise" before the aid station we knew was coming according to the description I had.  We must have gone over a million "small rises" thinking that was it. The road was rough and we were both suffering some and you'd think I would just look at my watch and know that we were not close to the aid station based on our time, but it can still get to you.  We rolled into Dry Fork Aid 8 finally at 13:50, 14 minutes ahead of schedule.  That was great yes, although I was concerned Zac may not even get to my in time now that I'm not 45 minutes late.  I changed from my Lone Peaks to Torins knowing we had 6 miles of road coming eventually and hoping the extra cushion would help my feet.  It helped a little.  For a few miles.  We left that aid station with the warning there was a mother and baby bear down the trail a bit.  We looked at each other and agreed we'd be running together  :)

Never did see any bears, but we sure hollered out loud as to alert them to our presence if they were around.  You don't want to get in between a mama and her baby.  So after we left that Dry Fork aid station I was concerned Zac could still come, but not even reach me till close to the finish and it's a 90 minute drive for him.  I wished I hadn't told Jer I was so behind schedule, I mean I was 45 minutes back, I guess I could have done the math and realized I could probably make it up, but I didn't really think I could.  I was supposed to meet Zac at Dry Fork but we left without him.  About 3 miles down the trail from the aid station I spotted the shirtless wonder (Zac hardly ever wears a shirt).  I had made a good friend in Dan who I felt interestingly bonded with since we'd been through 50+ miles together, but it was so nice to run into Zac and get a nice big hug.  He was full of enthusiasm and helped us carry on  down the trail that would eventually let out at the road at mile 56.  It felt like it took a while but I was running strong once I got to Zac and it felt great!  Yes my feet hurt but my legs felt great, no hip tightness or fatigue or lead legs.  We got into the last aid station, 9 at 14:48, 17 minutes ahead of goal pace.  I was excited to see 14 something, that meant I could go under 16!  I needed to eat and Zac tried to push me to, but I wasn't in the mood anymore, was actually nauseous which was either from the First Endurance Liquid Shot gel I switched to after Little Valley, some Honey Stinger chews I was playing around with, or just being that far into the day.  Nothing sounded good and I really didn't feel like anything, I think it felt so close I just didn't want to follow the plan anymore, I was almost done.  In hindsight I should have taken another gel.  That 6 miles on the road felt like an eternity.  You'd think that would go by so fast after being out for 15 hours, but I kept looking at my watch every couple minutes, ugh.  My feet still hurt badly at my bunions, legs were ok, but my mind was just ready to be done.  I feel bad.  I was grumpy and ornery with Zac and I regret that.  He was just trying to help and I kept complaining.  I kept thinking I needed to run off into the bushes which I did twice and of course nothing happened.  Frustrating.  We ran out of water with a couple miles to go so faithful Zac ran off the road to the river and filled his bottle.  I think that was the first time I've drank from a stream unfiltered but we figured we were close enough to the finish I wouldn't feel any effects till after :)  After moaning and complaining for an hour, we finally got the the finish.  My family was there waiting (I was concerned they might not be since I was ahead of schedule now) and ran with me with Zac on the side through the finish line.  I did it!  15:47!  5th place woman.  I sat right down on the finish line.  Not out of exhaustion, mostly out of humor but my feet were really happy to rest too.  My theory is the road was so rocky for so much of the race, that my feet were just fatigued and beat up.  I generally run pretty smooth trail with big rocks like that only mixed in sometimes.  Hopefully I can get a grip on that to prepare myself for a 100 next year.

I finished and was happy but not as excited as I had hoped.  Was it not epic enough for me?  It was the farthest I'd ever run and I did it!  It's one of the hardest courses in the country and my feet hurt so badly, but I wasn't trashed, wasted, did I need to feel like that to feel like I really did something amazing?  I don't know but I don't like finishing like that.  I really think all my complaining that last hour hurt my immediate post race high.  A few weeks later I am happy with the race.  I would have liked to walk less and complain less, and I spent a bit too long at some aid stations and taking pictures, but those are actually good things.  I can correct those next year and have an even better race.  I'll know my surroundings and I imagine it will go quicker or at least more predictable.  I'm very grateful for Davy and his excellent blogging.  His report helped me immensely.  I'm grateful for Zac for driving down and running that last 8 with me. It was hard but his hug and positivity and company was necessary and helpful.  And I am so very grateful for my husband Jeremy and my kids.  They were perfect that day.  Not whiny or complaining about how long it was all taking or anything.  They are my team and I couldn't do this without them.

100k, 17,000 feet of elevation gain, most of that in the first 30 miles.  62 miles, not a whole lot of flat, not a whole lot of smooth dirt, but I finished strong in 15:47 when all I wanted was 16:00-16:59.  No real nutrition issues to speak of which is a huge accomplishment, and not a lot of muscle fatigue.  Perfect cooler weather most of the day and beautiful scenery.  Done!