Saturday, December 20, 2014

What a way to end 2014!

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

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

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Run Rabbit Run 100 - Accomplished but not satisfied

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

Long version:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Photo shoot and Echo Tri

I got to participate in an Altra photo shoot in Park City wearing the new Superior 2.0 set to release later this year.  The people that make it all happen are great, lots of fun. My husband couldn't be there unfortunately due to a scout camp (he usually directs these) so a few babysitters later and I got to spend a couple days up there running 15 yard increments. Over and over. With lots of heavy make up for the camera. But with lots of fun. I'd never stayed in hotel all by myself and was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening, but by the time we finished shooting and dinner it was a quick 10 min in the hot tub and to bed to be back up at 5am for another day of hair, make up and photos. I can't share the images we shot yet but friend Arianne took this one of us getting a shot

I have been kind of missing triathlon a little and had the chance to do a sprint tri, Echo, up close to Park City so made it happen. I'm a sucker for my kids so drove back down to get them, brought them back up to Park City with me to enjoy a hotel night. We swam, wandered the hotel, enjoyed the lounge, walked for slurpees and enjoyed cable (we don't have TV at home). My friend Jen and her 15 and 5 year old daughters came up and joined us and boy was it a party room :)
We all eventually got some sleep and Jen and I left for the race. She was so great in helping set the Altra tent and shoes up and worked it while I raced. It was so lovely to have so many friendly familiar faces say hi.  Even though it's only been since last summer it's crazy how it felt like I was coming out of a long retirement that way, loved visiting with friends!

Funny moment - left the house in a hurry so just threw in what tri clothes I could find.  Put my tri shorts on at the race, the only pair I brought, only to find out the butt was completely sheer.  Like even Jen told me so.  I didn't want to have to buy a new pair right then because I am incredibly indecisive, cheap, and didn't love the one pair there.  Happened to have my tight Altra shorts in the car and hated to put them on a bike seat but threw them on over the sheer tri shorts (because who doesn't love a pad?) and was good to go.

Kept transition setup quick, simple, and easy - just like it should be.  You do not need a duffle bag or bucket next to your, or someone else's bike.  Swim cap, goggles, wetsuit.  Bike, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, nutrition/hydration on bike.  Running shoes, race belt, hat/visor, any nutrition needed.  That's it.  I've learned with ultras too that the more stuff you have around the longer it takes you with a tired brain to determine what you need.  I believe my fast transitions are due to experience and setting out only what I need.

Swim - 6th, 13:56.  Seemed like everyone went out fast!  I stayed with the leaders in my wave but there were more around me than I was used to.  It took until the first turn to loose many.  That first 1/3 was hard, anaerobic.  The rest of the swim still felt challenging but better, more fluid, familiar.  I felt so calm and mentally experienced.  I believe I came out of the water second woman of my wave.

T1 - 2nd, 1:21.  I ran right up the long ramp with a heart rate high, removed the whole wetsuit by my post swim shoes (this is a dirt, rocky transition area) since I knew it would be a long run to my bike.  Good decision.  Normally clip my shoes onto the bike but with such a rocky and possibly thorny transition area I decided to put them on there.  Got everything else on quickly and ran out, bike held up until the road.

Bike - 8th, 37:19.  It was nice!  I felt comfortable in aero, enjoyed watching the lead men come back toward me and just enjoyed the sunny nice day and non technical bike course.  Was passed by a lot of men in the first 5 minutes which didn't bother me, just made me think I had a good swim, better than I thought with the lack of training (I did like, uh, 4 pool workouts before hand).  But it was disappointing to not hear anything.  Maybe it's the now ultra runner in me, but seems nice to offer a "hello", "good job", "good morning" when you pass someone.  While I did enjoy the bike, and didn't feel particularly weak, times showed I didn't have a lot of power behind me, which I pretty much expected given the lack of time on the bike.

T2 - 6th, 1:00.  The guy next to me with too much stuff had his too much stuff all over my running gear which made racking my bike and transitioning hard, but whatever.  Simple quick transition.   Always know which way ins and outs are.

Run - 1st, 20:24.  I was excited to get here and see how many men I could catch.  I kind of thought I was lead woman since I didn't see any ahead of me at turn around, but there was another heat in back of me so I wanted to push as hard as I could.  Boy does running a 20 minute 5k hurt after so much ultra length, and consequently, slower running.  I ran almost as fast as I wanted, but it never felt easy, as it has before when I'm well trained for this.  I caught a lot of men, wishing them well in passing, but not quite the guy I was hoping for.  Was neat to see so many Altras out there!  I wore the Altra 3 Sum 1.5

I didn't go check awards after because I wanted to hang out with Jen at the tent, and I really wasn't too concerned.  I was there to have fun.  We'd find out at awards.  I was kind of surprised that they did age group awards for sprint and olympic before doing overall awards.  I've never seen that before.  There was almost no one there by the time they did overall.  They finally did ours and for the winner called up "Leslie" so I started walking up "Rockwood" or some other last name that wasn't mine.  LOL, that could have been embarrassing :)  Guess she got me by 1:40 in a wave behind me I think.  And that's ok!  I had a 2 minute faster run, 20 second slower swim, great transitions, but a considerably slower bike that cost me.  2nd place, 1:14.02.  9th overall with men and women T1 and Run.  It was fun just to be out there racing, going through the motions, and seeing so many friendly faces!  Not to mention seeing the sweet disabled (I hope that is the right word, I certainly mean no disrespect if not) kids and young adults being pulled by caring strangers so they could do a race they otherwise could not.  I would love to do that too sometime.

This may or may not be my only tri for the season.  Trying to be good about training for my next big race next month.  We shall see!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer time life post Bryce 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bolt to Speedgoat

That's what I'm calling this week of mine.
(I am backdating this post.  It's really Sept 9 and I'm a slacker but I like to keep some order to this blog)

There is an organized fun run called Butler Bolt up Big Cottonwood Canyon from Butler Fork to Dog Lake and down to Mill D.  Only like 5 miles, but it's timed so you want to go fast (if that's what you're after).  I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks as something fun to do.  So a group of maybe 30 of us gathered and with a "ready go" headed off.  And by headed off I mean sprinted.  Ouch.  I was seeing stars and feeling dizzy by 30 seconds in.  Took it out way too hard but didn't want to get caught in a long line on the singletrack.  Resorted to powerhiking this steep first climb quickly but kept the pace quick.  Alternated running and powerhiking, quick bush stop, and powered up and hard as I could since I know in the past, downs haven't been my strongest point.
Figured when we got to the top my legs would be fried and making them support me going downhill fast would be tough, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I wanted to break through that past idea of not being a good downhiller so I just leg go and gave it everything I had.  It felt reckless but somewhat under control.  I kind of figured Aaron or the other guy behind me would catch me, but I was going to keep going all out regardless.  It was a fun hard push.  Such adrenaline.  Rounded the corner to the finish and had held on!  1st woman and 3rd with the men I believe!  Don't remember my time, 54:something?
Was fun hanging out there and watching others come down, including this sweet 10 year old girl named Lauren.  Her dad whom I didn't know came up to me after and asked if he could take a picture of Lauren of I and spoke of me like I was some kind of celebrity.  It was so nice and humbly and surprising.  I won't sandbag and say I'm just an average runner, but I don't see myself like they did.  It was a really neat moment for me after earlier in the week throwing somewhat of a tantrum for not making the cut in the photo shoot we did the week earlier.  That stuff doesn't matter, real people do.

So after Butler Bolt I was talking to local cool guy and friend Mike Place.  I asked about Speedgoat 50k and if he thought it would be good prep or a good idea what Hardrock might be like, since I've been pondering doing Hardrock after being inspired by friend Mick's amazing performance there.  Mike said it wouldn't really, but that it's a great race worth doing despite how hard it is.  I felt fine from Bryce and it was plenty early before Run Rabbit.  I was originally on the wait list and had a spot but turned it down when a friend of mine who was due to have a baby on the day of Speedgoat asked me to be her doula (childbirth support person/coach).  Well she had her baby a week early and since then my thoughts had been on doing Speedgoat.  It came down to it being a hard enough race that I wouldn't want to do it too close to any other big race and I don't know what next year will hold, so while I have the chance, I'm going to take it.  I signed up 3 days before the race.

So everything was exciting now and I didn't have time to be nervous, but that also means I didn't have time to really prepare for that course.  I'd seen friends posts about being up on the mountain running on some of the course.  I had never been on any of it.  But I was in good shape, healthy, and like to powerhike so what the heck.  The womens field was STACKED.  Easily the most talented and deepest field I've raced.  I was ranked 14th going in I think and my goal was top 10.  I wouldn't be horribly upset if that didn't happen, but I like to have a goal.
So race morning came and man it was exciting!  So much electricity and smiling and people saying hi.  My husband was rushing me a little like he did before Bryce but I was fine, just having a good time and excited.  Looking back now, some warm up would have been good.
Karl sent us off and straight up a road.  I don't want to keep restating it, but this course has a ton of big ups and downs, everywhere.  It's 8 miles to the top of Hidden Peak where the first aid station is, but it would probably take you 2 or 3 tops to get there directly.  We would go up and in the right direction and you'd think "ok, we'll head there now" and then plunge back down or in the wrong direction.  Like 5 times, in the first 8 miles.  I think the first 8 may be the hardest chunk honestly.
Up, down, all around goes the Speedgoat 50k. The top 2 pictures from Renee show a consecutive section of the course, up to Hidden Peak then straight back down the other side. The bottom pic is much of the middle of the course. Go down, around most of that little mountain and back up. Then down. Then way up.
Was nice to run with friend Ashley for a bit and whine about how everyone went out so darn fast.  I have come to love a conservative first half...a lot.  Well this is only a 50k and I wanted top 10, no room for super conservative I guess, but I was hoping to not have to push as hard as I did those first 8 miles.  After that we were all spread out enough and things quieted down for me.  Ashley had left the first aid station 5 minutes before me which bummed me out I couldn't keep up with her, but I had hoped I'd catch back up later.

Down to Larry's Hole AS (under number 5 of the 2nd picture up) to be greeted by good WMW friends and then down Mary Ellen Gulch.  I had been worried about this section from what I heard but it wasn't that bad.  Plenty of big rocks to slow you down, but not as steep or loose as I had worried (there was a steep loose stressful short section a little earlier though).  Looking back I think I could have covered it faster had I simply just hopped over the rocks lighter and faster.  Oh well.  Long hot section into half way at Pacific Mine where I could see most of the women in front of me including Ashley who probably had 7 minutes on me now.  Friend Kelly Agnew was there and took good care of me.  Filled my pack with ice and grabbed a few salted potatoes and water melon, had a freezing cold gallon of water dumped on me that was startling but lovely and hurried out of there.
THANK YOU always to race volunteers and directors!!  Looks at all the goodness - food, water to be dumped on you, shade, friendly smiles and all the attention you could need.  Thank you!
Now I wanted to turn it up a little bit, but the plan was not to attack till Larry's Hole the second time.  I powerhiked strong and made good progress passing several woman, one whom had been looking back every minute it seemed.  Ashley was closer now, 3 minutes up at Larry's Hole but I moved through that AS fast.  Caught up to her quickly, her quads were suffing.  I wished her well (and figured I'd see her again) and took off.  By took off I meant power hiked my butt off, not ran.
We came to the infamous bottom of Baldy straight up the mountain side climb.  There is no trail, because one could not exist here.  It's simply straight up the face of a mountain.  Ouch.  It was super hard even though I expected that.
Wanted to show a little of how this beastly Speedgoat course works. See that peak at the top of the top pic? That's Baldy. We ran down from that. To get to it though, you just take a straight shot up the face of the mountain, sans trail, as you see in the photo above. Killer climb. Starts way down by the dirt road. The steep part anyway....
Saw my husband at the top, went through another super friendly tunnel aid station and LOVED the
cold cool tunnel through the mountain.  It's probably only 1/4 mile at most, but man, I'd run the whole darn race in there.  Rough downhill leading up to the trail to just go straight back up.  That uphill after the tunnel to Hidden is tough.  Longer than I thought, hot and exposed and just long.  But I was looking forward to getting to the top since it meant all downhill from there.  Only 6 miles.
My husband said I was in 10th now as Ashley Arnold was sitting there at the aid station.  Great!  I'd made good progress in the back half of the race.  Friend Zac who was working as a volunteer at the race was at the top and ran down with me.  Didn't expect that, it was nice.  For a few miles till I got a little grumpy.  It was certainly not all downhill, there were 3 steep uphills.  I'm not going to complain, Karl is known for throwing in extra fun every year.  Comes with the territory.  But they were hard, and so were several of the downhills that were very steep and now my legs tired not wanting to support me anymore.  I was passed by 2 girls I had previously passed in those steep miles.  Dang it.  We finally came out the the dirt road and I kept asking how close.  This is the only point I wished I was wearing GPS (I don't anymore, I look down too much and see 0.2 has passed).  Wouldn't have helped however since the course turned out to be 2 miles long.  I kind of gave in and "just finished" the last hour of the race.  I wish I'd bucked up and pushed a little harder and I may have made my goal of top 10.  But honestly, 12th in a field like this with no real proper preparation for this race is great, and I'm cool with it.

Speedgoat is HARD!  I know, I know, everyone says that, it's no secret.  But it was true.  I won't say I'll never do it again, wouldn't be surprised if I do, but I think even a month+ later I can say that I won't be sad if I never do it again.  It's a race box I've checked.  Karl does put on an excellent organized event however so I wouldn't discourage anyone from doing it, just be mentally prepared and strong for a long hot tough day.  But one you can do.  Even after Butler Bolt :)

Telling Karl himself and Bryon from IRF just how much fun I really had :)
And my super handsome husband and support.