Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not your typical marathon

Saturday is the Leadville Marathon. The first race of the Leadwoman series. It's not at all your typical marathon which suits me just fine. Much more like an ultra. Mostly on dirt with lots of climbing and descending. We got an email from the RD last night that read more like a disclaimer. There's snow on the course. No big deal for the mountains but the way the email read was interesting. It sounded something like this:

There's snow on the course, volunteers have cut steps on the climbs, don't slip and be cautious, we've dug trenches on the side hills but be sure to not slide down a snow bank, the course is very safe thanks to our volunteers but can be dangerous so be careful with your footing, be prepared for any kind of day weather wise, please be careful to not fall and die on the ice.......

That's not exactly what it said but Bill was laughing hysterically when he read the email. Poor man, I sign him up for stuff that seem like a no brainer. His longest run was pacing me at Miwok in May. He knows how to suffer well though. I on the other hand couldn't be more excited about the email. This is right up my slow ally!

Park City has been amazing. The weather perfect and the endless amount of single track makes controlling myself hard. I've explored a bunch of new trails this time which has made me love it here even more. I can mountain bike right out the door. There's a huge amount of multi-use trails which I am not used to. Most of the trails I train on are not open to MTB's and the ones that are have a considerable amount of snow on them. I have already told Bill and Alex we need to spend more time here next summer! Off the Leadville on Friday.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

TOE 50M MTB & some training:

TOE 50M MTB: This was quite a race. 8,000 feet of climbing. It was a great way for me to evaluate my MTBing progress. The climbs were long and all on gravel roads with the exception of a few grunt trail sections. Once you completed a 30+ minute climb you would descend on single track. Short, steep and fast. Sometimes the trails were just too gnarly for my skill set which would cause a dismount. Mostly unplanned in the form of a fall. I fell more on this race than I have fallen in my whole short MTBing career. I had only 2 half endo's and believe it or not they were both in the same place! Since the course is 2 loops I got the opportunity to perfect things. Just by accident Micheal and I were together pretty much all day. This made for some good laughs! A nice light hearted approach to craziness made the falls much less painful. I do have a nice large bruise on my right bicep. My handlebar met my arm on the way down, ouch. My splits for the loops were exactly even! Now that is endurance J. I absolutely loved the race and would do it again in heartbeat.

After TOE50M I took one day to get all myself pulled together before I did the 13 hour drive to Utah. My family is in Paris working. Yes, Alex has his first job. It was short 5 day stint at the Paris Air Show. Quite the learning experience for him and dad. Since his job is not affiliated at all with Bill's company Alex got a good lesson in working for someone else. He's growing up! I am spending 2 weeks here in Park City. I've been busy getting to know trail systems I am not familiar with. So far it's been a great time. Bill and Alex will be joining me in a few days and we will make our way to Leadville. It's going to be a great summer but I will miss my animals! I already miss my needy cat. However, our house sitter is spoiling them like crazy. What I am not missing is my "To Do" list. I know I make my life way more complicated than it needs to be. I can't pull my type A distraction tactics here in Park City.

TRAINING: I feel like my training is coming to a close. The volume is still high but mentally I am focusing more on the races which start on July 2nd with the Leadville Marathon. Bill will be running it too. Should be a fun time.

Last Friday I hired a guide to take me on a killer mountain bike ride here in Park City. This is what my workout called for: "2 hours, Mostly below threshold except for a 30 minute black out push. Focus on cadence and holding that hard effort". I have not ever had a workout that said "black out push" but I like it. I envisioned working so hard that my eyes would be rolling in the back of my head. When I showed up for the trip I was ready to get schooled. My guide just happened to be a crew member for the second place woman at Leadville MTB, incredible. He told me right away he would be returning with her this year as her mechanic. Not only did he make adjustments to my bike but he gave advise straight from her mouth. When we arrived at the trailhead he had me go first so he could get an idea of how I rode. It started out uphill and right away my heart rate was screaming. It was narrow, rocky and dry. Wonderful single track but elements I have very little experience on. Where's the wet mud? After about 7 minutes of climbing he had me pull over and this is what he said, "Watching you climb up this hill is making me tired"! Good thing I have no ego around this. My reply, "Well I am already tired". He said, "You have a really strong upper body why aren't you using it"? I said, "Oh, this is just for ascetics it doesn't get used much". He said, "That's about to change"! My thoughts were….bring it on…it's about time this came in handy". He showed me how to stand and ride uphill. My heart rate dropped at least 20 beats and it was so much more efficient and easy. After about an hour warm up and lots of skill lessons it was time to "black out". We stood at the bottom of the valley and he said we're climbing up there. He pointed and I said, "By that house way up there on the third ridge". His reply, "No, beyond that". Sweet! I got my head in the game and off we went. He got in front and tried to keep pace with my new climbing skills. Around tight switchbacks with lots of loose gravel my rear tire would spin. I would reposition and get a better grip all the while

staying out of the gully. He pulled over and got behind me. I continued to ride and my breath was coarse. I needed more air and at moments I felt like I was going to puke. He said, "Your doing awesome Ronda do you need a break"? Nope, I'm riding. That's all I could muster. I crested the top and was elated but almost blew chips. My heart was beating so hard I could see my chest thump through my jersey. A high five from Chris and an atta girl was reassuring. At that moment I felt pretty darn invisible and certainly very alive! It took me 47 minutes to make the climb and someday I will return for a rematch.

That's my only MTB ride since TOE 50M. The rest of my training has all been running. My leg speed has suffered a lot but Matt said that would happen. I have let go of some of those expectations and filed it away under "Fall project". Currently I am around 7,500. The tent I slept in went to 9,000. I think I got some benefit from it since I am not gasping for air too badly. However, it's not gravy. I still feel a tug on my lungs.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beacon Rock 50K

You simply can't pass up a race that is held in the Gorge. It's just one of the most awesome places to run on earth. James put on another whopper. I guess if you're going to run in the Gorge you would expect it to be brutal. The Beacon Rock didn't disappoint! 4 bit climbs. Two times to Hardy Ridge and two times up Hamilton Mountain. I got a bit over 8,000 feet of ascent.
My left glutes have been racked for quite some time. I am waiting for them to adapt. Seems they're taking their sweet time. Runner's aren't known for their back ends. Generally pretty flat and under developed especially the lower glutes. Along with the glute hamstring tie in. If you run in the mountains or on lots of hills the medius and maximus are usually strong. The lower glutes get ignored in the running process. Mine are no different! However, biking especially MTB makes the lower glutes and upper hamstring work like dogs. My dogs are barking and they have been for months. It's a slippery slope of thrash and recover but not quite 100%.

After the 6 hour ride with it's grunt like terrain my lower glutes, piriformis and upper hamstrings were racked! I been living on a softball and a foam roller. They were just coming around on Friday. When I say coming around I mean I could walk and run without flailing dramatically. I feel like an old dog who has bad hips that curl under their hind quarters.

On Sunday at the start of Beacon Rock I felt pretty good. Mostly rested. After about 1 mile I knew it was going to be bad butt day. Climbing was pretty easy but any downhill was not so much fun. The lack of length in the tight glute/ham tie in area made descending rough. After a slow 25K where I took 2 Advil I considered calling it day. I did the normal mental battle for about 1 mile into the turn. I quickly left before my mind could settle on a decision. For the next 2 miles I grimaced and still considered turning around. I really needed this long hard run though. I ran into Esther who was just so positive and lovely. I chatted with her for a few minutes and left feeling better about life in general. Her upbeat demeanor was encouraging. Further up the trail I ran into Melissa who said, "Ronda, so good to see you and you just a beautiful as ever" I almost fell apart. She said, "You always brighten up the trail and are such an inspiration". I held back tears. I was so moved. What a nice thing to hear. A very generous compliment but I took it. After that I was completely uplifted. My butt still hurt really bad but I stopped dwelling on it and began to move better. When someone calls you an inspiration it's best to try and live up to the title and not waste it. I started thinking of who inspires me. It's a pretty good list and that helped me get over myself too.

Moving past the "uhggg" when is this going to end into a more positive mental space makes almost everything better. It's the true battle in this sport. It's what keeps us coming back. It's the perfect schooling in the power of decision. Though uncomfortable and sometimes painful moving through is many times better than not. All in all this was a great training run. Hard, humbling, slow but rewarding at the same time. Darin and Micheal had stellar runs. Amy opted for the 25K and won it. Beast had a great day out there too. I really did well with my post race stuff. I made sure I hydrated, ate really good, took an ice bath and slept as much as I could. Since my cardio wasn't taxed I don't feel as bad or tired. My glutes will be on ice all day, in the car, in a chair and any time I can sit. Hopefully I can get them repaired enough for the TOE 50M this Sunday. The Test of Endurance 50M MTB race with 8,700 feet of climb. This will be my last event before the Leadville Marathon on July 2nd.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This one's gonna hurt...

Beacon Rock 50K this weekend. I am excited to spend the day running around Hamilton Mountain. I suspect this is going to be tough event! This last week was pretty much a bust for me. I was exhausted! That 6hr mountain bike race destroyed me. It's been really hard to describe the kind of fatigue the long mountain bike races bring. I am not physically hurti
ng but it seems to give me this overall deep fatigue. My heart rate during the events is pretty high but not out of the ordinary when compared to trail running. I am wondering if the constant adrenaline drip might be zapping my system. Topping off the hard effort. It's such a new sort of tiredness.

Since I was thrashed this week I missed one of my runs. I gave it the good girl scout effort but aborted after 1 mile. I was just toasted and felt I was riding a fine line anyway. Instead I took a nap! I was out cold and had to peel my face off the pillow. Today was the first day this week I haven't been dreaming about my bed. I think I am on the mend. Just in time too. I have to keep a close eye on myself right now. I get so caught up in the fun I forget I am not supergirl. I am bit edgy as well. If one more person reminds me I am in my mid forties their gonna get hurt. As if once you hit 45 your done. Not buying it yet. However, when you're cooked at this age it show
more :) It's hard to hide the drooping, I feel like crap look.

I am sleeping at 9,000 feet now. The tent won't go up any further. One more week in this tent and I can't wait to get out. Though I have created quite a homey feel it's time to move on. My cat is going to be devastated. I think my recovery has been hampered a bit from some restless nights. After a hard long effort I have dreams I am being smothered. This of course wakes me up and I scramble out for air. This disturbs both Bill and
my cat. Bill jokes that I am my own circus act, ya know, tents, animals and various other stunts.

Hopefully Beacon Rock won't push me over the edge, literally!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How big is your bubble?

13 chain drops and only 2 working gears made the Washougal 6hr MTB race a bit of challenge. Though my temper tantrum was quite dramatic a good solid time out got me back in the game. It was hot too. 85 degrees at the end of the day. The course was not what I expected. To me it felt like MTB short track racing on steroids. Lots of short steep ascents. The descents weren't long enough to get a good flow and most ended with a hairpin turn. Tons of elements. It had it all, single track, logs to jump, slippery rocks to climb and lovely rutted motor cross track. I took some good falls but nothing horrible. I have a few bruises, a handlebar jab mark on my chest and sunburned arms.

I went into the day ready to test myself. I wanted to see how hard I could go and what might be exposed. A sore butt? Racked up legs? Fatigued arms? The one element I wasn't expecting is mechanical issues. I don't really know much about how to fix my bike. Little by little I am learning which is good. I am like a kid in a candy store when people are working on their bike. Hovering over them asking a ton of annoying questions. Although I dropped a few F-Bombs and had moments that make Barbie look mature I got some great experience. By lap 3 (18+) miles I had put my chain on 13 times. On any shift up my chain would jump off. I now know how to put my chain on!

With the terrain I could have used more gears for sure but since I didn't have them my choice was to quit or deal. I wanted to quit but chose to deal. I always wondered what it would be like to ride a single speed and I got a taste of it. Good news is I was able to ride 4 more laps with the 2 gears and no chain drops. Took my bike in today and the derailer is bent. It's brand new. Cyclepath is awesome. They are going to replace it and bend the one I have back so I can use it as a spare. They walked me through all the issues and I can now see exactly what's going on. Lots of great practice. In Leadville anything can happen so now I know I can work with it, though not at all ideal, doable. Todd Janssen who calmly fixed his punctured tire minutes before the race started was

amazingly calm. I would like to channel that. With all of his adventure racing experience he's a wealth of knowledge. He said, "I can pretty much McIver anything on this bike" when referring to how he handles repairs. That's pretty cool. To have that kind of confidence. The knowledge that you can fix it enough to get you moving again is where I would like to be. With each race and each experience I am gaining just bit more confidence.

My bike handling skills got a serious upgrade on Saturday. With each lap every obstacle got more routine. Jump over a log, sure why not? Point your bike down the rocky hill and fly, okay! Skid around the corner and fall, no big deal. Bill took some serious falls on Saturday. Endoed again but rolled a couple of times along with it. He was battered. Micheal met his share of gravel as well. I think Todd was the only one of us who stayed upright! I was pretty thrashed after the ride. I rode in a high heart rate all day. Pushing myself as much as I could. I was beat for Sunday's long run. Fortunately Micheal was in no rush so in a fogged state I got it done.

I am riding the line of exhaustion right now. The last 2 days have been sort of a blur. I am paying close attention to indicators and trying to eat well and sleep as much as I can. It's busy at home. Alex is finishing up his Freshman year and his Europe trip is right on heals of his last day of school. All the Colorado plans are done and we have everything all lined up. It's coming fast and I am getting increasingly excited.

In a conversation with someone the other day we were talking about Leadwoman events. They wanted to know how I felt about it and if I was concerned. I am most certainly concerned. They looked at me in a comforting manner. Assuring me that I need not be afraid of failing. Failing is okay. I was sort of taken back. I felt like I should be sitting on shrinks couch but yet I have no fear of failing. Failing is not my issue. I have learned and thrived more from my failings as we all do. I don't like it but that's not my issue. What I don't like is bursting my own bubble. My internal feeling and drive that I can do anything I set my mind to. The notion I can put forth the effort and work necessary no matter how hard and achieve my goal. I don't like having my bubble burst. That's what I worry about. I fear becoming complacent with my dreams. Accepting I am not able to dream and accomplish. Not making the cutoff at the Leadville 100 MTB will burst my dream bubble. If I do make the cutoff at MTB race my bubble is still intact and that's what I really want. Nothing catastrophic will happen if it gets burst but I won't lie it's not going to be easy to brush off. The conversation went on and they are still sure it's the same as fear of failing but it's not. For me, it's much different.