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!