Tuesday, June 12, 2012

San Diego 100M

My heart and soul is completely filled up! Back in the mountains where I belong. Grinding out long climbs and making my way down rocky terrain is where I feel the most excitement, challenge and just plain alive. I am super excited to have executed on Saturday. Mostly I am grateful my body is putting up with all the demands I've placed on it lately. With my ankle taped up good I started San Diego 100M cautiously and humbled.

A quite demeanor fell over me as we lined up. I was really nervous. Wondering how this was going to feel. Trying desperately to stop ruminating in doubt and stop engaging the negativity in my head. It's been since 2009 that I have taken on a 100M in the mountains with elements. Things like heat, technical trails, dust and long climbs. My training hasn't been centered and my recent activities left me with a less than perfect foundation but I am here now.  It was time to let all that go. It was time to re-quaint myself with the runner I brought.  One with a lot experience but one who as of late has been carrying a shadow of doubt.

Making our way out of Al Bahr was nice and easy. The trail is nestled among meadows weaving in and out of trees. We climbed gradually and I could feel the tug on my lungs. I knew the day was going to be hot and was banking on my consistent attendance at Bikram to save my Pacific Northwest self from a complete heat thrashing. Exposure! This course is exposed. There is no where to hide. I was sun screened up but knew that would just save me from being burned. It wouldn't do anything to save my system from a total shut down. It wasn't long before the trail turned rugged.  More rugged than anything I've been on lately. A few years ago that would have been right up my alley. It will again but for now I was bumbling fool on the loose rocky stuff. I was re-learning on the fly. My legs, ankles, hips and stabilizers were doing their best to dig in the memory bank. Struggling and at the same time finding pleasure in all of it. As people passed one after another making it look effortless I tried to let go of my intimidation and relax. That helped but I had to repeat the mantra over and over throughout the day.  Moments of frustration and disappointment came and went many times. Along with moments of triumph in tackling a section. I was finding so much pleasure in the challenge of controlling my thoughts and expectations. It was powerful. To have the opportunity to steer my negativity in a direction that would serve me instead of deplete me was great. It was a war. A war I was going to win. I already knew this race was going to be physically tough so I was not going to allow it to become a mental hell hole. Todd and Micheal and their very optimistic expectations helped. Plus, Todd was surely going to snap a photo and give some sort witty remark if I show up with some bad attitude. I couldn't have that!

As the day progressed so did the heat. I was slow, steady and very meticulous with my liquids and fuel. There's a long stretch between 14 and 44 without crew access.  I wanted to show up at 44 with all systems in tact. I didn't want to disappoint my crew! The heat was taking it's toll on many by mile 36.  Penny Pines was a bustling aid station since we visited twice. On my second trip the tents were filled with spent runners taking time out in the shade. The aid station was out of water. They had ice and were desperately trying to melt it but runners were out drinking the melt. More water was on its way so I filled my bladder with ice and waited some hoping it would arrive soon.  With an 8 mile climb in the heat of the day I knew I needed all 40oz of liquid.  There was some hope that water stashed 3 miles up was still there and not gone.  However, I wasn't banking on it. I couldn't wait any longer. I was antsy to get going so I left with ice.I was sure it would melt fast but it didn't. My pack must be insulated!  I was sucking on a dry hose. Thankfully a truck with water was coming up to replenish runners. I filled up and drank that down before I knew it. Once again I was dry with only ice that wouldn't melt! Good thing I was well hydrated and my system was functioning well. I made the long, hot and technical climb without much problem but was dry for about 20 minutes. By the time I reached 44 I was really thirsty but in good spirits looking forward to some cooler evening temperatures. I was a bit behind schedule, maybe 10 minutes. I felt pretty good about that.

I was excited to get to 51 where I would pick up a pacer. My body was feeling the run. My legs were a bit sore but not as bad as I would have thought. My biggest goal coming in was to avoid a death march from mile 75. I didn't want to have a hobblefest for 25 miles while drowning in my own doubt. I wanted to be conservative until I knew I could handle the final stretch. I honestly needed to have a good experience here.  There were various signs along the course. Things like, "it's not a race against the mountains it's a race against yourself" and others along that line.This is so true. I have built a body that can withstand a lot of pain and discomfort but if I let my mind go weak my body follows. I am not interested in digging out of that.

The ridge line was windy and chilly. It felt good! Running well along this section heading to 51 I was leap frogging with 2 girls. We must have changed positions 10 times. I was catching up to other runners. This was a good feeling since I spent most of the previous miles being passed. Lots of positive affirmations floated my way here. I was still feeling good. My fuel was still going down well, solids, gels, drink mix, electrolytes. I was having zero stomach issues. My feet were good with the exception of one small scrape spot on the top of my 4th toe. My legs were good, slightly sore but not bad. My ankle was still taped and handling the demands. My spirits were high and my confidence was building. Where else can you spend 12+ hours convincing yourself you can endure, crazy mental game.

 Micheal paced me from 51 to 80. When I picked him up we took off and did some stellar running gaining time for about 12 miles.  I passed more people for good. I was solid! We came in and Todd calmly says, "Do you want to know what place your in". I thought about it for a second.....do I want to know...how will that effect my buzz...what if it's bad, how will I deal?? I had no idea where I was in the pack of girls.  I could have been 20th or 4th I had no idea. With a hesitant voice I say, "Sure". He tells me I am 4th and 3rd was sitting until she saw me come in. I find my relaxed response interesting. I wasn't THAT bent on catching her but now that the seed was planted...well, I put my head down.  Micheal and I left and I was gaining steadily. I could see another girl. I passed her and about 5 men on the climb. Creating a decent gap but she wasn't giving in. We climbed and climbed and then came the downhill.  A long rocky technical and sometimes steep descent. I was dork on this. I couldn't set my foot in a steady place to save my life. I was passed back here. I wasn't bothered.  I deserved to be passed. It was as if I had never run downhill before. I was more frustrated that I couldn't get a groove. We kept at it, laughing some, cussing more and came in right behind her. I left before she did and we exchanged positions again several times until I felt I wanted to take it. When I felt I could keep it I created a nice gap. Now on the hunt for 2nd place.

At 80 miles I picked up Todd. He was in for a treat! Pacing Amy at WS100M is a bit different but he seemed to be okay with slow pace. I was cold now. I had gloves and jacket making out way back along the ridge line. The trail was good for the most part. Some rocky sections and mostly rolling. We knew 2nd place place left 1 minute in front of me. I knew I would catch her. I still had some left and felt if I was closing the gap this well that by 20 miles I would seal the deal. However, I was in no way going to push myself beyond my limit. I still needed to fuel well and take care of things. I had a hard time finding a groove on this section but after about 5 miles I started feeling a moment of glory coming. I got moving and came in to 87 about 1 minute behind 2nd place who exited the minute she saw me. I pulled in and sat for a couple of minutes eating. I was hungry and my stomach was growling. I needed more solids.  I ate a few things and once I got it all down Todd and I left. I had good energy and was so happy I was going to close in on another 100M race. I was also thrilled to be in a good position! We ran well and after about 1 mile caught the 2nd place gal who was still moving well. She was encouraging as we exchanged, "good job". The trail began to climb and I felt strong here. Suddenly, and I am not exaggerating, I had to go to the bathroom. Then again, then again.  I have never dealt with this in the race before. After several trips to the bushes I knew I needed Pepto at the next aid station or I was going to have issues. With only 9 miles to go I questioned whether I could get it done without trying to take care of this bathroom issue? My intestines decided they were taking over. We came in and Micheal was ready to go. He left the medical stuff in the car and the aid station had tums so Todd hands me Tums and says go. Nope that won't do! I was a bit testy. My stomach wasn't upset I needed Pepto and I announce I have diarrhea not an upset stomach...nice! Everyone in the aid station is looking at me. A nice lady who was crewing for someone else offers me Imodium and I was grateful. I downed the tiny pill and off we went but only 1 minute ahead of the cute girl who is now chasing me. BTW: I prefer chasing not being chased ;). I felt good, put my headphones on and Micheal and I kept at it. One more big long climb. I put my head down and the sun began to come up. I was still so strong. The tiny Imodium pill did the trick and I had no more stops.

At this point I knew I had a good gap and was fairly relentless. My legs were getting very sore and I tried really hard to overlook the pain and just plug on.  Finishing 2nd girl in 24:36 was awesome.  I was more thrilled on how I executed the day. Knowing my body and understanding my limits. Every section I completed was a win for me. Finding my way back to the mountains and remembering how much I love this kind of challenge. We had a good time and spirits were high all day! I was really pleased with how my body held up and haven't been giving it enough credit. My ankle is sore but not too bad.  Overall I feel good. Not too beat up but I know there's some deep fatigue. I am riding TOE 50M MTB race this Saturday.  8K of climb on a bike.  I'll let you know how much I have recovered after that.


  1. That is so awesome Ronda! Solid. I can't imagine placing so well in a race, particularly when you're not what you think is your best prepared self. Perhaps your new approach is the way to go? Less structure and more fun :-)

  2. 2nd – You are a Rock Star Rooster. Love how you controlled the emotional skepticism and turned it into a positive fuel. You never gave up on yourself, and saw the dorsal fin surface when competition was nearby. You also have an awesome crew.
    Another great race report to capture a smart and incredible race. Huge congrats.

  3. What an awesome and so telling about you race. As slow as updates were coming, I saw you steadily climbing up the list, and it was the matter of time when you get to the top of it. It is so great to know your body well and use it, to believe, to not be jittery in that first time and know how to take care of yourself. Wonderfully executed, indeed, Ronda! Just what I needed to read for the following weekend:)

  4. Damn girl! That's awesome, making your way up the ranks! 2nd place is damn good and well earned. Sounds like your trusted your fitness and had patience and that served you well. Great write up, recover well! And good luck in the MTB race...

  5. You are a 100 mile machine! So dang consistent!! And the only reason that pacing Amy at WS is different is bc I'm not that much fun to pace. I get a bit grumpy. ;|