Friday, December 11, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wasatch afterthoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wasatch 100 report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wasatch eve

It's here!  I still have drop bags to pack and plenty more posts to write I won't, but I'm excited and a healthy bit nervous.
Wasatch is 100 #4 for me. I have had three very different experiences so far with Bryce, RRR and Buffalo, but have gained from each. The photos from L-R, top to bottom teach me. 
Tomorrow and Saturday I hope to have fun. I hope to push past pain and endure, to go into the night unafraid, and to run strong but easy. I hope to smile a lot and enjoy my surroundings. I hope to surprise myself and break past barriers I may set. I hope to remember those I love, and to run smart. Looking forward to seeing many friends (good luck!) and some family out there and to be spoiled by my crew Jeremy (I'm racing on our anniversary weekend yet again) and pacers Seth and Roch (which spoiling may consist of tough love too). Let's do this thing!  

Thank you Altra Running, Vfuel, and Elete Electrolytes for your support!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Home again, final Wasatch training

We got home from our trip July 25 and moved into our new house that week. Then I ran Katcina that Saturday. It was a very crazy week. Katcina went great and really motivated continued and serious work to be done.  My goal now for the next 5-6 weeks before taper was to get up in the mountains and on the course as much as possible. I also spent as much time as I could running during the day. That's hard to do with my youngest at home and a working husband, but I got a bit of heat training done.  Also ran on the road about once a week. Speed work is good there, as is radiating heat.  

Wild flowers motivated me to get out as soon as we got home. Literally. I feared I missed them while we were gone so the first morning home I was up high with friends to see what was left. And it wasn't too bad!

Yeah, this is home. Katcina course near Lightning Ridge

Went up toward Chinscraper at 4:30am one morning, and got lost
Another 4:30am start for a neat Flattop peak. Great group outing 
Yet another early morning from Big Mountain to Lambs with new friend and amazing lady Toby
A quick jaunt up to Catherine's Pass before trail work. While these two were curious about me, mom and dad around the next corner were not. I've never been charged by a buck. That was exciting. 
Great new trail coming between Dog Lake and upper Desolation Trail. No need to go down to Blunder when it's done. 
Quick easy morning with sweet friend Dana 
Had an amazing morning up near Big Water and Dog Lake. 2-40 min tempo hill climbs wasn't easy but was so satisfying to finish strong. Had an emotional moment, as is typical in the mountains for me, just so grateful to be healthy and outside. On Instagram I posted this and basically said Get Outside!  Anyone could see what I pictured below. It's a 20-30 min walk from the paved parking lot. And it's amazing. 
Saw my first taste of fall too! 

Now onto part of the course I hadn't seen yet. Back to Big Mountain again, KenIe and a new friend and I set off backwards from Big Mountain and got lost a few minutes later. We explored a new area and then realized our error and watched the course from afar for an hour. Oh well, we got the time and miles in (I had to finish 4 when I got home so the babe and I ran to the park and back). 

Left the end of a family camp out over dressed on purpose (on top anyway) during the heat of the day to run up to Desolation Lake
Felt really good. Really happy with my uphill trot right now. I love me a good powerhike section but know there are places I hike I could probably run. Feels good to be doing that
See you soon Red Lovers Ridge!

Some of the road running I do passes these fine friends. Llama llama!
Now not all my running has been kittens and roses. This morning while beautiful, did not feel good. I got it done but it was awkward feeling and difficult. I tried to put it past me as just one of those days. 

My last year of nursing school started back up. Boy can sitting take its toll!  I do my best bringing lots of healthy food and water and my roller to keep those affects at bay. 

On to the last long hard run before Wasatch!  A repeat of GrandAire from early June. My choice. I wanted to compare my fitness. I thwarted that a little by doing it during the day rather than early morning. 
Peak #1. This face is the result of the west side of Grandeur. I hate that side! 
But the view up there looking south is my favorite!
I was grateful to be at Peak #2 after a long hot climb up, but was low on water and couldn't wait to get the 4 miles back down to the river. It's so hard to ration your water when it's hot!  
After I filled up in the river I had to wait 30 minutes for the water purification tablet I used to dissolve. THAT was a challenge!
And, this is what peak 3 looked like. Ok, so I was staging this and thankfully not feeling dead. Worked, but not dead. 
Now to get down the side I hate so much. I saw a deer trail off to the north ridge on the way up and decided I'd try that on the way down. Totally worth it, way more runnable!
My time didn't end up being faster, 5 min slower actually, but I'm ok with it. I did it in far warmer conditions and came away from it feeling better, especially after. No messed up knee this time!  My body was pretty fit this time even though the time didn't reflect it. Great to be done with the big stuff!

The next night after my husband and I spent some time in the Draper LDS temple, he dropped me off at a trailhead nearby, and drove home. True love :) 
It was a quiet peaceful night and the end of the run felt a little harder than I expected so I felt good knowing it really was taper time now. 

Looking back at my photo history I guess I haven't documented any of the taper, but it's been good. I'm very excited for Wasatch now in 3 days!!  
We do currently have a wildfire only miles from the finish line that's put a lot of smoke in the air. Fingers crossed it clears!