Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Strangely enough I have always loved speed work. I think it's because it tends to be the only time I really push myself super hard. Before Scott's coaching I did absolutely zero speed work. Mostly because I had no idea the value it would play in both my running and my mind. Although I find it extremely hard both physically and mentally it gives me the sense I am accomplishing something. Probably because when I am done I feel like I have worked really hard and the glow of a good sweat is rewarding. Well I am back in the full swing of speed work and lots of it. Last week I got to finish by doing hill sprints on the wildwood. The workout was 2-2.5 hours long and I was to find a hill that was no more than 1 mile long and do repeats..4-5 miles worth. Seemed simple given the long 55 minute hill repeats in the gorge but I knew it would kick my butt.

On Saturday I headed out from the zoo on the wildwood with Pittock Mansion hill being my repeat destination. There were so many runners on the trail and it felt so good to be back on the wildwood. Although Hardrock is now a whole 2+ weeks gone I must have taken some of the experience and injected it into my blood. While running on the wildwood I had a strong urge to take myself cross country in Forest Park. The smooth trails were lovely but I seriously had ideas of just going straight up or straight down through the brush. Of course that would be a huge "no, no" so I kept it clean. As I day dreamed along I found myself running very fast. Sub 9 minute miles on the wildwood is pretty darn fast for a warm up but I couldn't help myself. With all the other runners seemingly turning every bump into a race I played along. I felt if they were going to chase me and pass me it was gonna cost em! Well, it cost me much more I am sure but it felt good.

Arriving at my hill repeat destination a complete sweaty breathless mess I felt re-born. The speed was coming back and I was ready to see how much my lungs would be ripped open on this threshold stuff. The hill to Pittock Mansion is simply no longer a hill with Hardrock stuff still swimming around in my head. Not only did it seem flat it seemed groomed. I marveled at the perception change and basked in it. Not to often is my stubborn mind changed and probably changed for good. The first 3 repeats were pretty darn fast and comfortable but the last 2....well not so much. Seems I found my breaking point or it could have been the racing warm up. It didn't matter because I still enjoyed my day back on the trail, pushing and feeling worked.

This week is more speed. A tempo run today in 90 degree heat made me one sweaty mess. I also acted as a fly strip. While finishing up my tempo run I looked down and wondered how I got so much dirt all over my body. My stomach, legs and arms were covered with tiny black dots. After closer review I realized the black dots were bugs! It was so yucky! I am not a sweater. I barely need salt tabs in a race and just don't produce much water. Well, this heat is forcing me to sweat like crazy and I love it. I will forever be jealous of the ones who's sweat rate is high. The feeling of cleansing via sweat is kinda cool. Yes, I know the other side of the story is dehydration and I felt like that after my run.

I am back in the weight room with great intentions. I am pretty much sore from head to toe so basically right on schedule to get myself in trouble if I don't get a grip. All joking aside I do plan to get a plan soon but right now I can't seem to stop myself from joining in on everyones workouts. For the rest of week I have a couple of recovery runs, an M-Pace run then 4.5 hours. For my long run I am hoping to get up to my favorite spot, Yokem Ridge. Hopefully I can get that worked out and I hope it's not 100 degrees!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wake Up!

It's time to wake up all 4 of my fast twitch muscles. I figure that's about how many I have. After Hardrock I seemed to recover physically super fast. I had no soreness and actually very little stiffness and almost no swelling to speak of. I think the varied terrain helps. The only thing that seemed to get worked at Hardrock were my lungs. Right after the race I coughed up stuff I won't even describe. That went on for about 6 hours then I was left with a dry cough that lasted for about 3 days. On the Wednesday following the race I went to the gym to do some walking on the treadmill and a bit of lifting. While my walk was slow and meditative my lungs were less than pleased to perform rhythmic breathing at any level. It sort of felt like I would guess someone with asthma might. My 300 foot lungs obviously did not like the high altitude much. The other thing I did after Hardrock was sleep. I am a big sleeper anyway but I took it to a new level. By Friday I decided it was time to wake up and get back in action.

I hit the gym for lifting 3 times last week and did 2 runs. One on Saturday which was only 5 miles and my lungs were okay but I coughed a bit and wheezed some. On Sunday I met Trisha for a nice 90 minute trail run where she promised to be nice and not make me work to hard. We chatted and caught up on life the whole time. It was nice. My lungs were better and I barely noticed much wheezing. I was anxious to get back in the gym so I met the girls and got my butt kicked. I was weak and beat when we were done. They have gotten so strong and I have atrophied nicely. I left exhausted and took a nap with my dog and cat. Apparently I wasn't 100% yet.

I had my call with Scott on Monday night and we sketched out my schedule through CCC100. I have 6 weeks until the race so that gives me the opportunity for one 4 week training cycle and the standard 2 week taper/race. Let's just say I thought my schedule would be more of a "get recovered, run a bit, gain some leg speed then taper. Well... not so much. It's time to bring back the M-Pace and T-Pace runs and there seems to be no time like the present! I was actually surprised to have such a quick ramp but he is the expert and I threw it all in his hands. So...that meant 75 minute stride workout on Tuesday followed by lifting both legs and upper. Today was a 90 minute M-Pace run. It's been so long since I have done one of these I had to go back and find out what my M-Pace was. I did no T-Pace or M-Pace during the 8 week peak training phase for Hardrock. As reluctant as I was to hit the trail today and push myself I knew it was time. I have had enough rest and if I don't get things going soon I will have to request a coffin for a resting place! I set my expectations very low for the M-Pace workout but when I got going I felt great and strong. It was actually nice to be pushing, sweating and soaking up the sunny day on the trail. Making all my paces and holding back was the perfect and set the tone for this small bit of training before CCC100. I originally thought I wouldn't have enough time or energy to have a training effect but I have changed my mind.

My schedule is mostly quality for the rest of this week and next. No big back to backs or serious hill repeats. I have a couple of new workouts to try which is always fun and exciting. I will let report on those as they come.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hardrock 100M!

"My father says almost the whole world is asleep. Everyone you talk to, everyone you meet. Only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amaaazement, amaaazement, amaaaazement..." ABNEY PARK, opening line of "The Wake"

There was very little need for any caffeine at Hardrock.....I was totally awake soaking in every last minute of one of the most amazing things I have ever done. On the 16 hour drive home I was almost in a completely different world reliving the 100 miles in San Juan mountains. I am still having dreams taking me back to various parts of the gruelling but amazing course. Despite the toughness of the course I feel pretty darn good three days later.

It seemed like the time leading up to the race just drug on and on as I obsessed about the terrain, the lack of markings, snow fields, scree and the numerous water crossings. As I said before I don't consider myself a pansy but I planted a whole garden of various colors in my head. After long deliberation I think the sheer openness of the environment along with the massive sized terrain was so far from what I am used to it simply scared the hell out me. Given that state of consciousness my plan was to be super cautious, watch for markers and take in every last moment of the experience. Even though I was scared I was ready to be pushed out of my box, challenge my mental toughness and live big time for 37:11.....that was my pace chart.

The morning came fast and with no clouds. I was so prepared for all kinds of weather that Bill had 2 backpacks strictly dedicated to clothing. Now with clear skies I was going to need none of it. I also planned to carry as little as I could get away with but still be prepared. Micheal and I were not planning on running the race together but if were with each other we vowed to run our own races but help each other watch for markers and cover the ground as fast as possible. I spent enough time in Silverton to have a good feel for the course. If you are doing Hardrock I think that is one of the biggest advantages you can have. I am an idiot when it comes to directions but found myself so immersed in the course that I was confident in my sense of direction. This race has shoved me so far out my comfort zone I barely know where to begin.

First off, THANKS! All of you who have followed along and encouraged me. You are very much appreciated. I am grateful for all the confidence you all had in my ability to run this race.

37 hours is a long time to be awake! I am not sure how you prepare yourself to be alert and on task for so long but I was ready to see what was going to happen. I thought I would give you the highlights of my Hardrock experience. Of course it's all from my point of view and the day unfolded so much better than I had anticipated I am still on a rocky mountain high.

Small Success! My first success was arriving at Cunningham Gulch unscathed. The steep, slippery and rocky descent off of Little Giant had me edgy. I didn't want to start my day with a banged up knee or some scree rash. I descended the into the Gulch perfectly with no blood and 30 minutes faster than I predicted. I didn't break stride through the first aid station since Bill, Alex and Darin were ready and waiting.

Testing our navigation skills! Micheal and I were not running the race together but since our paces are naturally similar we vowed to help each other if we were close. We discussed the Maggies Gulch, Pole Creek to Sherman section a lot. We hadn't gotten the chance to view much of this section from mile 9.2 to 30. It consists of mostly grassy hills all in the high country ranging above 12,000 feet. It was marked but we knew this would be a hard section to stay focused and strong. The daydreaming could get out of control so we decided to work this section as best we could, keep our heads in the game, not get lost and move! We were close enough to do just that making fabulous time to Sherman. After leaving the pole creek aid station we were challenged on our way into Sherman. For a moment we felt transported back to Portland as we found ourselves on a lovely single track trail. It was all downhill, filled with roots and soft dirt....just like home with a waterfall to our right cascading down the canyon. We came to an intersection with 2 markers. At Hardrock all the markers are to be on the runners left. That is a key element in the navigation process. These two markers were not. Just as we were about to make the wrong turn here comes two other runners back from the wrong direction. We stopped and all pondered the situation and since they had already felt they had gone the wrong direction we all decided to have the marker be on our right side and take that trail. It was the right move! Whew.....that was close.

Didn't I just learn my lesson?? After leaving Sherman we take a 3 mile jaunt up a dirt road to Burrows Park. This is where most of the crews meet their runners just before they head up Handies Peak which is the only 14er we cross in the race. The weather was acting up. Thunder and dark clouds loomed over Handies as I began my journey up. My crewed geared me all up and sent me off feeling really good. I had been on this section of the course many times. I knew exactly where I was going and couldn't wait to plow through it and pick up Darin. Micheal was faster and left me in the dust. The runners were pretty spread out by now. I was hiking along as fast as I could with another runner. We exchanged conversation and made our way up the mountain with the rain. By the time we were about to summit the clouds cleared and we no longer needed any rain gear. It was right down calm and perfect on top of Handies. Now for the short traverse over to American Pass and the fast descent into Grouse Gulch. We were talking and cresting and before I knew it we were to high and to far right! What???? I yelled over, "We need to be down there"!....."Are you sure"? he replied. "Most definitely....we need to get down". Well it was like Vegas.....below seemed like it was just right there but the 30 foot cliffs told another story. I simply laughed. Are you kidding? This is the section they didn't need to mark....I knew it. Well one small conversation and not paying attention and BOOM! you not where you need to be. We found a dried up creek bed to climb down. This was crazy, it was steep and I was on all fours trying not to send football sized boulders down the canyon. I scraped up my hand and arrived at Grouse with blood. Nice work!

Is this a race? Getting to Grouse ahead of schedule, feeling good and with a story was nice. However when I arrived I was told by Bill I was 4th and Betsy was just ahead on the climb to Engineer. Darin was all over that, pushing me hard on the climb and making me work. We closed the gap just before the steep cross country plunge into Engineer Basin. There is an aid station at the trees just before the hairy descent into Ouray. I was on fire! After a quick re-fuel we took the descent almost recklessly. It got dark and that was a good thing because the sheer drop offs might have slowed us down.....or should have slowed us down. Besty was right on my heels as we broke out of the trees and into the town. We all (her pacer, Darin and I) worked together to find our way into the Ouray but it was an all our sprint through town. Somehow this had now become a race.

Who are you? The climb to the base of Virginia's Pass is a grind. I knew this. We drove it and talked endlessly about working the flat spots. It's long...probably 6 miles and it was now the deep night...past midnight. My stomach was kind of iffy but Darin and I ran what we could, ate what I could and stayed focused. Besty and pacer were right behind us the whole time. We both arrived at Governors Basin together (mile 62) but I was out there quick. I was no match for her on the climbs so I needed to get a head start. As we approached the wall of the Virginia's I began to prepare myself for what I knew was ahead....a steep 3 pitch snow field to the top. Just before the base I told Darin I needed to take a moment, sit, eat some chomps and let my heart rate calm. My chest was so tight now. Every time we got above 12,500 feet I felt like someone was stepping on my chest and my air was shallow. I sat and ate but Darin gave me about 3 minutes and it was time. We approached the snow field with the intention of following more experienced runners lead but when they stopped to put on traction devices I got edgy. We proceeded and I put one foot on the snow and found a sheet of ice. "Are you kidding"?! What now????? I have no idea what I was thinking or why but I just got on all 4's and scampered up the first pitch. The second pitch was short and I did it without drama. Then came the third. Finding it was the problem but I spotted a glow stick (the only glow stick on the course). I didn't know the glow stick was attached to a rope I just thought it was a guide to the 3rd wall. I just started going up, grasping and sliding on solid ice. I couldn't do it. Darin yelled to grab the rope...what rope? I couldn't see a rope. Then the other runners below swung it over to me and I pulled myself up the last 6 feet. What the %**&%^%$ was that????? Amazing and wrong at the same time. Kroger's Canteen...an aid station tucked on the tiny edge of the Virginia's Pass....another amazing sight. I sat for a moment to pull myself together before the scree descent into Telluride.

Downhill Mania! Seemed I found my downhill running groove at Hardrock. I have NEVER run downhill so well, ever, ever, before. I had all the quads I needed to make the big steep descents and with some speed as well. I used it! I pushed them hard.

Are we climbing to heaven? With only a marathon left this is where some of the veterans say it time to spend it all. When I got to Telluride Bill tells me the second place girl is only 10 minutes ahead. Generally climbing is my strong suit but not this time. It was hard for me. I had no air power to my legs and I was slow. I wasn't going to catch anyone on the climbs so her 10 minute lead was good in my mind. We left for what a I knew was a long journey to Oscar's Pass. We climbed, we twisted around, we climbed, we meandered over waterfalls, we climbed up steep pitches just to have Oscar's disappear then re-appear looking farther away. This climb went on and on and was so hard. But.....it was incredibly beautiful. This was the most beautiful canyon I have ever seen....it must be heaven. As the sun came up the whole top was lit up and I wondered if we were going to meet someone special at the top...if we ever got there. Just before the last steep pitch way in the far distance we could see people. They were girls! We were gaining but I was already at red line with my climbers so we would have to see what the descent brought.

Sub 34 hours is a possibility. Now at mile 80 I felt that 34 hours might happen. I felt good, tired but good. My downhilling was almost exciting and I knew what was ahead. I felt confident we could maintain our way to a sub 34 hour finish. On the rocky descent from Oscar's I caught Helen and her pacer. We cruised into to Chapman and Bill pushed us through.

Wishing for snow! Okay, really....have I lost it? In my previous Hardrock post I showed a picture of me climbing the snow field on Grant Swamp. It was steep and icy and I was scared to death of it but now I knew how to do it. We made our way into the basin and headed for the wrong pass.....oops. We scrambled over a boulder field and into the right basin but it cost us. Two runners who were behind us were now in front of us approaching the base of Grant Swamp. What happened to the snow? There's no snow! Okay, careful what you complain about because there is always something worse. The snow had completely melted on Grant Swamp and now it was solid, rocky, steep scree field. We stopped and watched as runners made their way up all taking different paths, on all fours, yelling....."Rock". Darin and I picked out patch and started up grabbing rocks to see if they would hold pulling ourselves to the next one. It was crazy and even crazier was Helen and her pacer had caught up and were right behind us. My poor climbing and our wrong turn didn't help us. It was un-nerving to have rocks falling and nowhere to hide. We were careful and finally literally rolled our bodies over the foot wide pass. Now for more fun! Steep slippery downhill. I knew this was my strong suit of the day so I got down on my feet in a deep squat and slid all the way down the steep switchbacks off the backside of Grant Swamp. When we got the a decent grade on the trail I stood up and let it rip!

Trails and Switchbacks....There aren't any! I love the movie "The Sound of Music" but the hills on Porcupine Pass and Cataract Ridge were not singing to us. We caught Micheal in this section and all three of us tackled these last climbs together but I was ready to push it home. I left them at the top of the last pass and made my way to the last aid station. I told them I have a Hardrock baby. They looked at my stomach as I rubbed it lovingly and with serious concern they said, "You are barely showing". They thought it was real!!! I was just joking because my lower abs were swollen and a bit bloated. I assured them it was a joke and they could breath again. I guess anything is possible these days. :).

Emotions. My final 5.9 miles home were pretty emotional. It was setting in. What I had done, where I was and all the amazement I got to be part of. The race, the people, the environment and it's history. Running around on trails and roads build by minors back when it was sweat and hard work...not machines wondering how on earth they could do it. Yes there is lots on controversy about the minors and I am not even going to go there but they were amazing people. Hardrock celebrates their legacy and I did too. Wow! It was a hard 5.9 miles. The rocks and narrow trail made it challenging. I was begging to see the river crossing and darn excited. When I arrived at the river's edge I am greeted by about 8 people. Alex was in the water waiting to be sure I could get across fine. He almost teared up which made me almost start crying. Bill snapped a million pictures and so many wonderful words were said by others. It was really neat. But.....nothing was more sweet than laying my dried up chapped lips on that giant piece of granite.

Wow, what a crazy race, adventure, epic experience or whatever you want to call....Hardrock is all of it. For me, someone who isn't a mountaineer, rock climber or anything like that this experience will forever change me. I live in the burbs, take my son to school, make dinners and run in the Gorge with my friends. I don't scurry up scarey things, slide down pointy rocks and run on the edge of high cliffs but I did last Friday and Saturday. I still can't stop thinking about it. I never touched my shoes or socks after we started. I did get one blister on my right foot. Not a bad one. Your feet are wet the whole time. There is no getting around that but it didn't seem to bother me. Maybe it's because we run in wet feet all the time here at home. Other than the blister and a few scapes I am good to go. Even my white shorts came out fine. :)

There are a few key things that helped my have a great race at Hardrock. First, my hubby who worries but never say's, "I don't want you to do that". I know he was thinking it at times. :) My friends who were there. That was great. Knowing Micheal was out there somewhere running his butt off and Darin who for 20+ hours kept pushing me and never letting on he was was hurting was so cool. The last thing that helped me at Hardrock was my training. I was in shape for this. Scott tweaked my schedule to ensure I would have legs in the end and I had em'! I really wanted to be able to run downhill well and not be hampered by overly tired quads and I wasn't. I feel really good...almost to good today.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's here!!

This is going to be my motto for the race. Darin and Micheal spotted this as they perused the shops in Silverton. I have been tapering pretty well since my last post. We did the 4th of July 5K here in Silverton, climbed the backside of Handies, scouted Virginia's and did a few runs here and there. I really needed to give my body the rest it needed. I didn't realize how tired my legs were until they weren't tired anymore.

I have now seen or run every pass on the course and I know I can get over all of them without too much panic. There will be some anxiety but I am going to use that as fuel to get my butt moving. Darin is ready for the challenge and we are giving him a good ribbing about being out on the course for over 24 hours and not even getting to run 100 miles. I am not sure he is finding the humor in it all but it's definitely fuel for him which in turn will benefit me, he, he, he.
Am I still scared? Hell Yes! These are some big mountains. There is very little snow on the course which will be helpful for me mentally. Now all I have to do is stay on course.

So let's get this two day party started! You can follow the runners at. http://www.hardrock100.com/ We start tomorrow at 6 am!