Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What are barrier glasses?

I have gotten a few emails asking about barrier glasses so I thought I would explain what they are and why I need to wear them. In 02 when I ran my 3rd 100M race at CCC100M at about mile 70 my vision started to get super foggy. It was dark so I thought it was something under my contacts. I pulled out the contact, cleaned it and found nothing. I popped it back in my eye and there was no difference. As the race continued and the sun came up it got worse and worse. By the end of the event I couldn't make out anything which made finishing the race long and annoying. All I saw was a white blur. I was super scared but within about 6 hours after the race and some rest I was fine. I went to my eye doctor immediately on Monday and he checked everything out, listened to my story and decided it was a reaction to Flonaise (allergy medication) or dehydration. The next 100M I ran was WS100M the following year. I wore my glasses to run the race instead of contacts. By mile 55 I was having problems again. I knew what was coming and tried to drink lots, put eye drops in my eyes to no avail. By the last 10 miles I was completely blind. I couldn't make out my hand in front of my face. When the sun came up Stacey looked at my eyes and freaked! They were totally white and looked like a dog who has cataracts. I was actually a little scared myself. Stacey summoned Bill who was at Robie Point. He came down and had a fit. I had to put my hand on their back to guide me to the finish, very sad and very pathetic. The best thing that happened was having such a disaster at WS100M because the medical professionals have seen it all and they just happened to have an eye doctor there. They took one look at my eyes, had another doctor come over and they said I had Corneal Abrasions all over my eye. They also eased my mind by telling me the Cornea is the fastest healing tissue in the body and that is why my doctor did not know the real problem. After about 7 hours of sleeping my eyes normal. What to do??? Rachel Landon who is an ultra runner and an opthamologist who lives here in Portland recommended I see a Cornea Specialist at the Casey Eye Institute. I was all over that because my days of running more than about 6 hours was not looking good.

I saw Dr. Rich and he listened to my story and looked at my Corneas. He said my Corneas was super healthy which was relieving. What he found interesting and odd is I don't close my eyes all the way when I blink or sleep. My eyeball is too big for my eye lid. He thought this was part of the problem and any wind, dust or any other irritant was not being cleared. My eyes produced enough fluid but without a full blink a line was left to dry out. The remedy was to have a small surgical procedure to pin my eye at the corner but he wasn't sure that would stop the abrasions. He also said small abrasions are normal, we get them all the time without knowing but the extent in which I was getting them was not normal. He described it as having a windshield that is completely scratched up and that is exactly what it's like. He suggested goggles but sent me down to the eye glasses guy at the Casey Institute who makes a barrier frame. I went down and here they are! They are ugly but they work! I have never had a problem since. The barrier is cut for my eye and face so they fit perfectly and create a lovely environment for my giant eyeball. The following year at WS100M they asked me to show them my barriers because apparently MANY runners are getting very mild versions and think it's dehydration or something else. It goes away sooooooo fast when you rest. For me any race that has a large amount of dust and dry air spells disaster so I need to wear them for anything over 50K. So, why didn't I wear them at WR50M because I was not thinking clearly which left not seeing clearing! :)

Monday, July 28, 2008


WR50M is as always a wonderful event with a kick butt course. This year we had perfect weather and temperatures in the low 70's. The skies were clear in the morning which meant we got an awesome view of Mt. Rainier on our way to Corral Pass. I have run this race 3 times before and my best time was in 06 when I ran a 10:20. I have never put WR50M on my list of "A" efforts mostly due to other events like WS100M and this year Tetons 100M. Some day it would be fun to train hard, taper and run WR with the intention to push the limits of my fitness.

With my bummed out knee I was going to be happy with a solid training day in the mountains and no further damage. I had my new orthodics now lacking the pesky metatarsal pad but my feet were still healing from the blisters. In the morning I taped my right foot because the blister was open and any direct friction was irritating. I didn't bother to tape my left foot. When we signed in Stacey and I were handed these yellow tags to pin to our backsides. They were age group identifiers for the USATF championships. When we asked what these were for the guys said, "Anyone who is USATF certified must wear it so others know who they are competing against". Apparently it's broken up in the 5 year age groups so mine read, "F-40-44". I wasn't going to wear mine but since it was a rule I figured I should comply. It was a little weird to have my age plastered on my behind! Stacey and I immediately began making a joke about it, calling it a dear tail and laughing our heads off. When we arrived at the starting line we didn't see many dear tails and began inquiring. We found out that only the over 40 crowd that were USATF certified had to wear them. That was even more funny because all the 40+ year old woman were up front so it was just us in the back with our yellow tags. Oh well, more laughs!

I decided not wear my barrier glasses. I figured I would run without them but I put them in my suntop drop bag at mile 37 just in case I started having issues. The field was really fast this year and before I knew it I was in a good train of runners making our way to corral pass at mile 16.9. I felt so strong. It was nice to have so much power but I didn't push the effort knowing there was a big race ahead. As we made our way to the top the leaders were coming down, flying and looking so incredibly fearless. I found that super motivating, like having a front row seat at some big event. The power and speed those folks have it just amazing. As I crested the hill heading towards the aid station I could feel my old blisters, mating and creating babies. I wasn't prepared for any type of blister problems so I decided the best thing I could do is find some Vaseline and smother my feet with it. I felt this (amazing photo by Glen Tachiyama) would stop some of the friction but whatever damage I had already done I would have to live with. At the aid station I peeled back my sock to find a cluster of small blisters. I caked on Vaseline and headed off for the first major descent of the day. My feet were pissed! The blisters hurt but the Vaseline did help some. I could also tell my eyes were becoming foggy and I should have worn my barrier glasses. I decided to pull out my sunglasses to stop the wind from hitting my eyes and making it worse. I knew I would be needing my barriers which were in my drop bag at mile 37. Now that I have created a decent amount of drama with blisters and foggy vision it was time to torture my knee. I began the downhill and it took a bit for me to find my groove and confidence as my mind battled with the thought of coming down on my knee. The worst thing I could do is brake for 7+ miles so I found my rhythm and only had a few ooh and ahhs. I stop and pull out my cho-pat strap and wrap it tight. That helped. I am in a state of pure laughter at my self imposed drama. I made my way to buck creek (mile 27.2) and retrieve my drop bag. I grab one hand held, stuff gels in my pocket and leave. I had thoughts of calling it a day thinking why suffer anymore. My feet were pretty blistered, my eyes were foggy and my knee was okay but not great. The reasons I kept going is because I was soooooo strong physically and was really enjoying the feeling of strength. I am also not a quitter and I didn't want to give in to my self imposed drama. I should have taped my feet better, I should have wore my barrier glasses and I should have treated my knee better. All the "should haves" somehow made me feel like I needed to see it through. Call it self suffering, masochistic or whatever you want but for me it was a duty. I almost needed to suffer the consequences of some poor decisions. I certainly won't be repeating them again soon. Maybe I figured I would get it all out of the way before Teton's.

As I made my way to fawn ridge and started the second monster climb I was steady and settled. The climbing was less daunting on my feet and my knee and I could run more than 70% of it. That alone was worth all the pain. Without much effort I could trot up the hill if I wanted. My fueling was awesome and spot on. I even tried the new GU product called Roctane. I felt nothing new but it didn't bother me either. I had forgotten all about the yellow tag hanging from my butt until I passed a guy with one. When I reached Fawn Ridge I stopped to apply another coating of Vaseline only to find my sock full of blood and other yuk. I smother the slimy stuff over the open wounds and it wasn't pleasant. I think the worst part was putting my dirty nasty sock back on the exploded flesh wound. It hurt like crazy too.....good thing is it made my foggy vision and bum knee seem like nothing! Off I go for the last bit of this climb to Suntop. Good thing we are still climbing because I was having a hard time making out the details of the trail and my blisters had time to create an environment of their own. I was anxious to reach Suntop (mile 37) to pop out my contacts, stash my sunglasses and get my barriers on. I was hoping my eyes would have a chance to come around before I had to do the last 6 miles of technical trail. I crested the hill and pop into the aid station where they hand me my drop bag. I got myself prepped for the last 12 miles.

This screaming fast dirt road heading into Skookum flats is awesome if you have legs. Legs I had but eyes I did not. Thank God it's mostly smooth. My feet were an absolute mess and the down hill was brutal on them. I shortened up my stride and got my turnover going nicely. I only sunk in a pothole once or twice (photo by Glen Tachiyama)because I couldn't make out the details on the road but all in all it was good descent in just over 8 minute miles. When I arrived at the last aid station I had a little better vision in left eye but my right was still super foggy. I was in "get it done" mode. I didn't even care that I was track for a PR because I could only muster up enough umph to deal with the pain in feet. The bummer is I felt really strong but none of that matters if you can't see and your feet are hamburger. As I made my way through the rooted trail I found a few new words as I grimmest in pain when my foot would slide over a root. The roots were everywhere. I tried to give myself a talk, "Just take the pain, don't fight it". I think I must have said that 50 times! It really didn't help me move faster but it was something to do I guess.

I finally found the finish line in 9:59:42 which is over a 20 min. PR on this course. The run was bitter sweet. The effort was easy but the day was a series of bad choices and all of those choices were made before we even started. I became a lazy ultra runner and took the trail and my body for granted. My eyes were a mess and that could have totally been prevented. My feet should have been taped because they still healing up. My knee didn't seem to be to bad and it's no worse off but that could have been prevented by stretching. As sick as it might sound I enjoyed the learning and reminders the day brought. It's going to take along time before I forget it because it's going to be at least a week for these blisters to stop oozing. :) This is a recovery week and that's good because I can't even tape up my feet to run yet. I hope I can get them moving around by Wednesday?????

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I am going!

I went for test drive today. I ran 9 miles on trail with some hills and though it wasn't perfect I was able to do it. My knee has rose to the surface and is no longer under water, yeah! I saw Dr. Tollenaar (kick butt ultrarunner and tri-athlete who just happens to be a chiropractor about 2 miles from my house) today and he confirmed what others have suggested. The mountain biking has been putting a lot of addition stress on my quads especially with no clips. He said I am only using my quads and not other muscles like my hamstrings and glutes to power the bike. With clips I would be able to call on those muscles and not just my quads. This had left my medial and lateral quads all balled up near the attachment to my knee which forced my patella to ride high. He was able to release those quads and get the patella tracking as it should but man oh man that wasn't fun. Although I am repaired or adapted, ha, ha, I am still not perfect.

Soooo, WR50M won't be pretty but it will be pretty. :) I won't have a great performance and will hopefully finish before 10:30-10:45 but I will get to see lovely Mt. Rainier and all the flowers. I might need to take some walk breaks on the screaming 20 miles of downhills to preserve myself, we'll see. Dr. T believes I won't cause any major problems but might develop a bad habit or two but I can cure those quickly. I am looking forward to a fun weekend! Just maybe by the time I am finished with the race my knee will have fully adapted....... :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Injury or decide!

Friday Darin, Trisha and I headed to the Wilson River Trail for a REAL mountain bike ride. All I can say is switchbacks are great for running but not so great for mountain biking. Wow, that was hard and we picked the easiest part of the trail. I can run the 12 miles faster than we rode it. All you could hear was a lot of WHOAAAA's in the woods. Despite it's difficulty it was super fun. The good thing is none of us take ourselves very seriously which means lots of laughing. The other good news is none of us took a real fall. There were a few slide outs and some quick dismounting but nothing serious. I learned a bunch more about riding just by experiencing. On the steep climbs I kept popping wheelie's because I needed to shift my weight forward on my bike. Anticipating the terrain changes was tough and knowing when to shift down to climb even the small hills was necessary. Oh, the other big "ah ha" was single track riding is sooooo much harder than I would have ever imagined. We will be back for more! :)

After Friday's ride I had to lace up for hill repeats. 2X45 min. was on the schedule. I wondered if the ride would impact the run but was fine with whatever came. I used our usual spot on the PCT near Herman Creek and my destination would be the first clearing. I was also giving my new orthodics a spin. I had to get new ones because my old ones were trashed. I had a new metatarsal pad added for more support and it felt a bit weird so I packed some insoles with me just in case I needed to change. I felt good on the warm up and headed off for #1. I loved the feel of my new orthodics and was excited to have support again. I have been running without them since Bighorn and SOB was hard on my hips and legs. The hill repeat was going strong and I was surprised to feel so fresh. With a lot of miles on my legs and the added biking I thought I would be tired but I wasn't. This was a great feeling and I went with it making it to my destination almost 2 minutes faster than before! That was awesome. I started to head down and within about 5 minutes my feet felt like they were getting hot spots on the edge of my metatarsal pad. Hmmmm, they just got worse and worse very fast. I knew I had blisters and still had about 15 minutes of descending before I could swap out for the insoles. For that 15 minutes I was playing hot potato with my feet.....ouch, ouch, ouch. Funny how I can run 100M and get zero blisters but be stupid enough to wear my new orthodics on the serious training run...not very bright I would say. The only smart thing I did was bring some insoles. I got down, tore off my shoes and there they were....quarter sized blisters on both feet. Oh well, I figured this would be good punishment....put in the insoles and run another one. On the second one I could feel the blisters but not bad on the way up. However, on the way down they were growing and one popped. My time for number 2 was even faster and I think it was because I was running from my blisters. :) I was really happy with day and run. This was my first hill repeat session since Bighorn and this weekend was my first back to back.

Sunday was 6 hours of running and I wanted to do the Bonneville Dam Trail Head to 3 Corner Rock run via the PCT trail. This would be a 30 mile run. I did this run a couple of times 2 years ago while training for SD100M. It's a consistent uphill for 15 miles then a consistent downhill for 15 miles back. The run gets about 5,500 feet of climbing and offers awesome views in the open areas. A few of us were out there on Sunday. Susan started early at another trail head. Beast started later at another trail head and Micheal and I started together. The trail was in great shape and there was absolutely no snow on the backside of Table Mountain. The wildflowers were abundant along with the bugs. :) We made good time to 3 Corner and we ran into Beast who just arrived. We climbed the old lookout rock and looked at all the mountains....they were beautiful still covered in snow. We ate, filled our water tanks at the spring and headed home. We were going to push it back. By this time my blisters were growing and they hurt but I figured this was good practice. It's been along time since I've had the opportunity to deal with feet issues. I was equipped with a foot kit and new I would be doing some management soon. My body felt really strong and I was happy to feel back the groove of training. We were making good time when I hit a rock and twisted my ankle but good. I had to do the hop, hop, ew, ouch thing for a moment and then I decided it was time for blister management. My gate was becoming funky as I tried to stop the pain. We pulled off and I pulled my sock away. YUK! A weeping mess on my left foot but not as bad on my right. I pull out the alcohol swab, wipe it down, scream and grunt, then drained it. Then it was Tincture...which stung as well then a blister pad, more Tincture then Elasticon Tape the entire length of my foot from toes to heal. It felt much better but still hurt. We were back in action. Cruising along the lovely trail enjoying the speed of the slight downhill grade I clip my toe and down I go. No big deal, I pop up brush off all the dirt and Micheal says, "I can't remember the last time I saw you fall". I replied, "Maybe I trying to get it out of my system here and not on my bike". I wasn't hurt and not even shaken it happen so fast. But.....blister, ankle twist then the fall....come on!!!! We proceed in a swift fashion and with only about 1 mile to go my left knee unleashes a sharp pain and then another and now it's kind of constant. I pull over for the general quad stretch to give my knee a little more room to move but it doesn't seem to help. I kind of run/limp in and ponder the odd pain. We drive home and it hurts. I get home and I can hardly put full weight on it. I hobble around then ice it to death. I give it the once over, stretch my tight quads and watch it grow. Hmmmmm, my knee cap is under water, what on earth. I ice again and go to bed. I am woken up in the middle of the night because when I go to turn over my knee is not coming with my leg. It feels dislocated (if a knee can be dislocated). Finally at 4:30 a.m. I just get up. I ice it some more, poke and prod it but I can't find any particular area of pain. The whole thing hurts and feels weird. For a moment I am beginning to freak out, it is a knee and we all need those. But, I couldn't remember anything in particular that I did to the knee. I decided it's pissed because of the blister, ankle twist and the fall which were all on it's side. Scott has taught me to look at aches and pains differently over the years. He is cautious but not dramatic about them. He uses the word "adapting" to deal with aches and pains. Of course an injury is serious but I wasn't convinced I was injured so I decided it was adapting to the biking AND the running. I hobbled around yesterday, stretched and iced but any wrong move and it was not a pretty picture. Knowing I had WR50 mile this Saturday made me a little nervous. Since WR50 is just a training race for me I could back out if I my knee was still under water.
That night I was planning on riding the bike race again but that was even looking a little iffy. I called Kris and let her know I would be at her house and I would ride over to the race, test out my knee and if it wouldn't respond appropriately I would just watch and cheer her and Trisha on. I got to her house and she takes a look at my knee and gives a sort of, "what are you thinking" look, hands me some ointment and I smudge it all over my knee. She listened to my story and my theory about adapting and then gave me another look. This look was more like..."What are you thinking, your theory is bunk".....but she goes with it. We ride over to the race and it's a funky feeling. My knee is not really thrilled but I can do it. We get out on the course and I am subconsciously cautious. I don't want to put my left foot down, it won't take the weight, any lateral movement is NOT fun. I am still unsure if I will ride the race but figure I don't have to race and it might speed up the adaptation. We see Trisha and she takes one look at my knee and watches my limp (that I am trying hard to disguise) and all she says is, "oh no....". I think, "Yes it's fat and not working as it should but it's adapting to new stresses". I decided to do the race. The course is longer than others and some of the drop off's are really really steep. Not so many bumps but we have some narrow turns and a ton drops with sharp turns at the bottom. At the start we are off for a long loop to spread out. The first hill is a gravel trap. The idea is to gain a ton of speed and make it over the top before you bike sinks in to gravel so deep you can't pedal out. I see the traffic jam at the top and choose to ride up as far as I can, get off my bike and carry it over the hill and down the other side. This is so much faster than trying to re-mount and ride down. The backside of the hill is total pea gravel so your chances of staying on your bike are slim anyway. This strategy got me at least 5 spots up! On this race I could feel my weekend of long running whereas other rides not so much. I didn't have the pump in my legs. My knee seemed to be coming along for the ride and I barely noticed it. Maybe my mind shifted to other things, racing..... This course was fun and I did really well on it. I am not sure what place I finished but it was up there this time. My heart rate averaged only 170 this time....I sort of felt ripped off! When we were done my knee looked huge to me. I had zero definition from my quad to my knee, lots of water. It hurt but actually felt better. Kris gave me more of her ointment and slathered it all over. I was fully prepared to bag WR50 this weekend. This morning I woke up with zero swelling! I can put full weight on it too. My quads are tight and stiff but that's to be expected. knee seems to be fine....could it be true.....did it adapt.....did the bike race help? I have no idea but I am going with it!!!! I will try to run today and see how it goes. Yesterday I was ready to bag it for the week and the thought of running was out of the question. Maybe I convinced myself it was adapting and it did....can that happen??? Oh well, whatever happened I am taking it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the zone....

(Alex tearing up the track)
Monday night was race #3 for me at Short Track. Alex and I (Bill is out of town) headed to the track early. Trisha let us know there was a free skills class for beginners and juniors so I was all over that! We arrived super early which was a nice change from the rush, rush, race method we have been doing. This left us with over an hour to check out the new course, get some tips from an expert Mountain Biker and register.

Alex was immediately out on the course leaving me in the dust. Since we were some of the first on the course we weren't sure which direction we should be riding. It wasn't long before we realized we were going to WRONG way as riders starting coming at us in waves. We got ourselves turned around and had a blast getting to know the hills, bumps, pits, ruts, all the twists and turns and.......the log jump! It's fun to watch Alex's youthful carefree approach. He seems to have NO fear. As a mom I cringe when I see him catch air and speed over the bumps.

The class was somewhat helpful but just riding the course was a bigger plus. I felt really comfortable on my bike. I even learned how to shift better! As we made our way up to register I had to move back to beginners because I needed to get Alex to Boyscouts and beginners race 1/2 hour earlier than sport riders. Come to find out this is a point series (I didn't realize that because I didn't even pay attention to the details) and since I am placing it would be best to pick a category and stay there. The nice man at the table let me know other woman riders could consider my jumping around categories as point grabbing. Yeah right!!!! That's just funny in the real scheme of things so I will stick with beginners, 20 minutes is enough anaerobic work for this girl. :)

As we lined up I lacked the nervousness I had the previous races and I consider that progress! I wore my HR monitor again and couldn't wait to see what kind of workout I would generate. The race started in a different spot which was easier because there wasn't a big sand hill or gravel pit where everyone crashed as the jammed together trying to be first. The pre-riding also gave me knowledge of where I could push and pass. Passing can be challenging because you need to anticipate what the front rider is going to do. It was a fast start with an immediate flat section to generate speed. Then it was right in the tree area with all the bumps and the log crossing. To jump over the log the expert told us to generate speed on the approach, lift the front of your tire then pedal as soon as your front tire if over. As the race approached the log it was a jam up with folks falling or getting off their bike to go over it. I held back because I wanted to try and ride over it. I gained my speed and with a quick pop of the front tire I was over....yeah! Since I didn't have to get off my bike I moved up in the crowd....about 4 girls. Into the swerving maze I used my newly learned shoulder lean to get around the corners.....this still needs a lot of work! Then it was up and over a big hill with a sideways descent ending right into a gravel trap. I had a lot of speed and when I came out of the gravel I almost took a spill as my bike skidded and wobbled. I put one foot down then had to regain my balance and pedal like a freak to make the next steep hill. As I came around for the first lap the announcer said my name which meant I was in the top 10 and that was motivating. I used the flats and the hills to make a gain on some on my competitors because that is definitely my only strength here.......leg power and cardio. Before I knew it I was racing! I actually felt like I was working to stay with or pass other riders vs. getting out there way and apologizing.....not even one SORRY came out of my mouth. After lap 3 I was following a sponsored rider who had lots of fans on the sidelines. They were cheering her on and letting her know I was right on her tail. I waited for the next hill and shifted into another gear just clearing her at the top catching a little air which scared the HE__ out of me. I pedaled like an out of control freak trying to adjust my gears to keep her from re-passing when in a flash she fell.....ouch! I finished 6th woman with an average HR of 177! 23 minutes at that My max reached 183. My track workouts will get me to a max of 176 or right around there so this is crazy hard but it's sooooo fun I don't even notice.

Alex got 7th in the juniors and was a sweaty dirty mess. He wasn't loving life right after he finished but about an hour later he was excited and wanted to do it again. However, he did not like the biking shorts and complained about the extreme wedgie! He wanted none of that although he didn't like to feeling of riding without them so we will see if wears them again. :) Trisha and Darin came out again and loved it. It's been fun to all tackle a new sport as a team.

I felt like I had a breakthrough this race. I was so much more comfortable on my bike and being in the middle of the pack of wolves. I actually felt like I fit right in! How is this impacting my running???? Well, I know that a track workout the next morning is a NO GO! I learned that last week so I pushed that workout to Wed. and did my 90 minutes strides workout instead. This was much better and I felt strong for both. I think this is going to be a wonderful compliment to my leg strength since it really hammers the rectus femoris and the medial quad. Both those muscles are only moderately developed on me. My laterals are super developed from running. Friday a few of us are heading out to the Wilson River Trail for a real mountain bike ride. It will be fun and interesting. We are hoping to ride 15-20 miles on single track. I am anxious to see how that impacts Saturday's hill repeats. Sunday a bunch of us are taking on the Bonneville Dam to 3 Corner Rock out and back (30 miles) via the PCT. This run generally takes me about 6 hours. This is a Build 2 week and my weekly mileage is climbing high. Next week is a Peak week ending with White River 50M, my favorite 50M race and it was my first.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Finish Time: 5:32
Place: 36 out of 116, 6th girl, 3rd masters
Ascent: I got 3,920
Blisters: None but some old calouses are coming off :)

SOB was fun and relaxing. I haven't run this event since 02 and it was good to be back. I had forgotten how pretty it is. The wildflowers were awesome and even though there was some smoke on the horizon the views were still nice. For me this was a good long training run. I used this event to get myself back in the full swing of training for Tetons. I put absolutely no expectations on myself and planned on taking the day as it came. Trisha and I left on Friday afternoon and made good time to Ashland. We were in bed by 8:30 and since Trisha was planning on doing the early start that meant we needed to be up at 4:15. This would be Trisha's 2nd 50K and she was nervous but looking forward to having a good day on the trail.

I did none of my usual prep for this race and didn't even know where the aid stations were. I went with one water bottle and my Nathan pack full of gels. It was going to be a warm one! Trisha was off at 6 a.m. and that left me with a whole hour to drink water, stretch and catch up with familiar faces. I was having so much fun I wasn't sure I even wanted to start the race. We lined up and I found a good home near the back of the pack. I ran comfortably from the start. Since this race starts around 5,600 feet and goes up to almost 8,000 I could feel the tug on my lungs. With smoke in near vicinity, dust on the trails from the trains of runners and the altitude my lungs were going to get a workout. Once we hit the single track it was trains of runners as far as eye could see. If someone wanted to pass it was going to take a lot of effort. Fortunately I felt absolutely no need to pass anyone and ran steady in Z3A. After about 8 miles we popped onto a gravel road that traveled uphill at a decent incline. I walked the majority of this talking with Cian. I didn't feel like running it or pushing myself so I didn't. Once back on the single track the trains of runners were well spread out which was nice and eliminated the dust. I found a nice quiet pocket and had the trail to myself. At times I wondered if there was anyone else around. At mile 15 I felt pretty awesome so I picked up the pace on the uphill gravel road to the next aid station. Along the way I met Lon Freeman and we chatted about training and recovery. We had passed this aid station earlier that day. It was manned by two ladies who were so sweet. They were enjoying the views from their area which were very nice. They told me I win for the best outfit. :) I loved that...what more can a girl ask for? After leaving them the course begins a climb on single track up and over a big hill. I ran all of this and was in the "Zen Zone" feeling very good and pondering life. I was thinking about how lucky we all were to be there with our friends and families enjoying the outdoors. How relaxed is that???? I was thinking about my wonderful fun family. I was celebrating how lucky I am to have such great friends to share experiences with. I was grateful that all our families come together, laugh, hang out and everyone lives with such excitement...we are pretty fortunate. All of that made me pick up the pace with a giant smile on my face. As I crested the top I came apon Trisha who looked great and wasn't even dirty! We had a quick chat and I headed down the perfect trail to the aid station. With only 9 miles to go I couldn't believe how the day just flew by. I glanced at my watch and wondered if I would break 6 hours which was my time in 02. I thought I would but wasn't sure and really didn't care much. At the aid station I filled my bottle 1/2 full for the 4 mile journey to final aid station. It was hot by now and I felt it chugging most of my water in the first 2 miles. I was feeling pretty thirsty and wasn't sure how much further we needed to go before I could get more. I was dry for about 1.5 miles and that was enough to make me feel dehydrated. When we finally reached the last aid station I was soooooo thirsty chugging anything I could get my hands on. I filled my bottle with ice and water and drank every last drop in 3 miles. I can't remember the last time I ever did that. I think I got pretty lucky and avoided a dehydration pit. The last miles went fast and before I knew it I was heading into the finish line at 5:32. The day was fun and got me primed for the next cycle of training. I am glad I didn't put any pressure on myself because I felt Bighorn out there. My legs were fine but not in any shape to be pushed. I felt the deep fatigue in my muscles but they will now know it's time to get things going! Trisha had a good run and I am sure Darin will post a report on his blog. She is not stopping now.....she is addicted. One more running partner!!!!!!

Today Kris drug me on a good recovery run. I felt surprisingly good and once we got going I was fluid and all systems were working as they should. Next up: Tomorrow night Alex and I are racing short track together! He is super excited to get on that track again, I am looking forward to it in a sick sort of way. This is a Build 2 week which means hill repeats and long stuff on Sunday. I am venturing out to the Washington side of the gorge for a 6 hour run from Bonneville Dam to 3 Corner Rock via the PCT. I love this run.

An another note: Thanks for all the great emails and comments about the picture in Ultrarunning Mag. I was shocked when I opened mine and saw that super cool picture. The funny thing is I didn't know it existed and I was honestly just trying to clear the ditch. I was flattered that Scott and Ken (Mac RD's) submitted it and Ultrarunning actually put it in there. It was fun surprise.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Short Track Race #2

I got my butt kicked! Monday night a group of us headed to the Short Track Races for another lesson in mountain biking. I decided to move up to the woman's sport division because they get to ride for 30 minutes instead of 20. Figuring I needed more of a workout this seemed like a great idea.

Kris and I arrived late. Between traffic and flat tires on her bike we were scrambling to get there, sign up and have enough time to preview the course. By the time all of that happened there was NO time to ride the course before the beginners and juniors started. I had no idea they changed the course every week. A total surprise! Kris did get about 5 minutes to ride and reported back. She said, "Oh my, this course is hard". There were other words about hills and hairpin turns, gravel traps and technical moguls. I was glazed over and very nervous. With my type A personality I need information so I can control my environment but that did not happen. I was able to just go with it so I consider that letting my hair down. We watched Trisha and Darin over in the technical mogul area and that just plain freaked me out. Riders were having to get off their bike a lot and anticipate the corners, hills and the required gears for climbing them. I felt so far out of my element but tried to take it in stride. I tried to express my fear to Kris but she just sort of looked at me and said, "You'll will be fine".

It was our turn to line up and since I jumped up to the more experienced division my lack of proper racing pedals were really noticeable. I might have been only 1 of 3 girls without an outfit.....the biking outfit. I just can't bring myself to wear those jerseys, they completely lack in the fashion department. :) While signing up in the frenzy I didn't realize they have the sport class separated by open and master woman. I signed up for the open division. Since I am a mature mama I should have taken advantage of that but it was to late. On the "GO" these riders were off for the first steep climb and before we got 10 feet out the start gate a girl clipped the back of Kris's tire and went down hard! I asked if she was okay but she got right back up and surged by me. This course was simply OUT OF CONTROL! Once we crested the first hill in which I easily rode up...bad shoes and all....I came to screeching halt. NO WAY am I going down the steep gravel descent so I stalled....bad idea. I got yelled at for not moving even though there was a ton of room to go around me. I finally went and it wasn't pretty. I rode, not on the seat but the frame of my bike screaming whoaaaaaa the whole way. My bike was skidding and swerving but I made the hairpin turn at the bottom and right into a rut I rode. This course has ruts about 8 inches wide and 5 inches deep so the idea (I think) is to stay in the rut because if you don't you need to be able to jump your bike out of it or you will fall over. After several hills, rollers and rutted areas it's was off to the mogul course. I am calling it the mogul course and am not sure what the bike term is. My years of downhill racing made me think of this because that's exactly what it reminded me of. It was up and over narrow deep rollers then up and around trees with serious sharp turns. Again this week I did well here. I am definitely more comfortable on this type of terrain vs. the giant hills where you can catch air and plummet down.

During this race I was caught by the sport men who start after us. They are fast and serious. That was a new fright. I wanted to get out of their way but I also felt the need to stay up right especially in the rutted areas. I must have said, "Sorry" 50's so ridiculous. The term, "Fake it until you make it" comes to mind when I think about my mountain biking. No one says sorry out there. I am not going to say sorry one time next week.

The race lasted 30 minutes but I only got to ride for 26:11 because the lead woman finished before I got another lap completed. I heard the bell and was about 1 minute behind getting to ride another loop. I got in 4 loops and the lead girls got in 5 I think. How do I know I got to race for exactly 26:11 minutes????? Because I wore my HR monitor just to see what kind of workout I got. To my complete surprise my average HR for the ride was 175!!!!!!! OMG!! That is 4 beats above my threshold line so that is a serious workout. Funny thing is I didn't feel like I was breathing that hard or working that hard. Amazing how fear will adjust your outlook. I was working very hard and didn't give a second thought because my mind was busy focusing on other things. So.......I got one hell of an anaerobic workout gotta love that. Darin rocked placing nicely among the men. Trisha has no fear, is a natural on her bike and I actually think she likes the intensity. Kris was all business, did an amazing job getting one more lap than I and finished with more blood. :0 I think we will all be back for more.

Tuesday was a scheduled track workout. I headed off for my warm up which lasted about 30 minutes then it was 4X1000 meters. I head off for the first one and it was so sad. I had nothing! My legs would not move fast and it was hard. I cool down and head for another. NOTHING! I had to abort the mission. First time this year! So, the question is.....did the bike race have anything to do with it? I haven't decided if my MENTAL knowledge of how hard I worked on Monday night had more to do with my lack luster performance than my actual body. I am sure there was some residual effects from the race but I wonder how much of it was mental. I guess I will have to do more studies......

I love riding my bike and can't wait to get better on it. It's going to take a lot of practice but I am patient and excited for the challenge. I am however a big chicken.....maybe that's why they call my Rooster???

Monday, July 7, 2008

Not much rest....

It is summer vacation for Alex which means it's sort of a summer vacation for me too. I don't HAVE to get up at my usual 5:15 in the morning and can plan my day without regard for school activities. Besides my lazy sleeping in I have managed to fill the day with so many activities I feel like I am on the run more than normal. I have been taking full advantage of sleeping in which is usually hard for me but I been able to milk it for all it's worth sometimes not getting up until 7:30! It has been nice but all of that laziness is over it's time to rise and shine.

Last week it was back to training. This was the first week of a so called schedule and it was light. But instead of taking it easy and getting rested for the next big block of training I booked a lot of weight training, 2 big hikes, my runs and some practice on my mountain bike. All of that left my body completely worked by Friday before any weekend running. On Monday I did a good run lasting no more than an hour but hit the gym with Alex in the afternoon. He has decided to join me at the gym which is awesome! He is just at the age where he can roam around unassisted. I keep a close eye on him and it's super cute to watch his tall skinny body working out. He acts so grown up, like he owns the place and is completely confident just doing his thing. He doesn't want me working out with him and seems to crave a bit more Independence. That's tough for a mom but I am trying. :) On Tuesday I took Alex and two of his friends on a hike up Dog Mountain. When we were getting it all organized both Susan and Karen (mom's of the other boys) decided to join in. We met the Beast and Tom at the trail head all of us began our 2,900 foot climb to the top. I was fully expecting the boys to do a bit of complaining and I thought they would want some breaks. This climb is pretty steep gaining all the elevation in 3.2 miles but they all did awesome. There was very little complaining and no need for rest as they hoofed it up. I did threaten to lead their boy scout hikes if I heard much whining. Alex surely did not want that so he was quiet. We reached the top and had lunch before we took the longer trail down to the car. It was really fun to see them tackle the climb and enjoy the outdoors.

On Wednesday I did it up good destroying my mid-section so much that I need to brace myself to sneeze, laugh or cough. After my tempo run where my paces stunk I headed straight to the gym for a hour long weight session on my upper body. Marlin (trainer) tried to break me and he almost did. I needed to take a moment during our non-stop, no rest session so I wouldn't throw up. Each circuit consisted of 6 different moves all without any rest. It started with hanging pull-ups where I held myself suspended then brought my knees to my chest in a fetal position. He then would yank on me trying to pull me down and I had to hold myself up there until failure then right back up for 5. After that we went right into other heavy weighted exercises then repeated it all without rest. This left me so exhausted that Alex had to unlock the car door, I knew I was in trouble. I had to go home and pull myself together for a leg workout that afternoon. Totally fried I mustered up enough umph to do the leg workout and actually did a pretty good job. That night I was toast! At about 3 a.m. I was woken up by the pain in my mid-section and upper back. Total rigamortis! Thank God I had Thursday off.

Friday Tom wanted to hike up Mt. Defiance which is the highest peak in the Gorge. It climbs nearly 5,000 feet in 6 miles. We arrived in the morning and I was in a lot of pain....good pain but still pain. My mid-section was actually swollen and hurt so bad I couldn't strap my backpack around it. The hike went well but I was definitely fatigued and hiking with an ultra runner is more like a death march. Tom of course had us doing our standard push-ups on any flat section and critiqued them like any good friend would. I stood to the side quiet hoping he would focus solely on Kris because I wasn't sure my mid-section would even suspend me in plank. We continued on and was soon caught by the Beast, Anna and Stan. I was a fun time catching up and laughing our heads off. At the top we encountered snow and lost the trail for a bit but we knew the summit was just ahead. I tried to make a snow angel but the snow was more like ice so my angel was weak.

Saturday Stacey and I did a girls run in the gorge. Our schedules both called for 2.5 hours of running with some threshold work on a couple of the climbs. Despite my mid-section hurting and cramping this was the first run since Bighorn where I felt back in action! I was pumped to be able to prance around the Gorge in what seemed like an effortless fashion. Things are coming back. The weather was another story. It had rained all night long leaving the bushes soaked and falling over the trail plus it misted the entire run. CRAZY! I was July 5th. I was soaked and my clothes were dripping from all the mist and dew.....yuk.

Sunday I ran for 1.5 hours of recovery then met Trisha for a mountain bike ride. We rode for about 1.5 hours. Trisha gave me a few pointers on how to maneuver on the bike. We climbed a bit over 1,400 feet on our bikes and descended a lot. She was a crazy person on the downhills but she says otherwise. I lagged behind and on the single track steep sections with lots of obstacles I was not confident. I was great fun and got my adrenaline flowing from pure fear! I wore my HR monitor just to see how high it would climb but was surprised to only hit high Z2 on the climbs. My legs felt like they were screaming and my heart seemed to be pumping like crazy but not fast. Both of us were able to climb the whole way on our bikes but it was hard. I was super fun and I see many more outings in the future. Steve came over to paint some at our house and we saw my bike he got all excited because apparently he mountain bikes. He told me about a ton of trails he used to ride on and wants to go as soon as he gets back from Hardrock. I had no idea he mountain biked and I am thrilled to find so many game partners. Between Kris, Trisha, Steve and who ever else we can con into joining along there will be a mountain bike race in our future! Tonight will be more short track racing and I think I might jump to the sport class because they get to ride for 30 minutes.....more of a workout.

So to summarize....summer vacation has been BUSY and fun so far. Alex is complaining about all the workouts but he's smiling when he gives me grief so I will assume he likes it. Next hike for the boys will be Hamilton Mountain. This week is a Build 1 week and the SOB 50K race in Ashland. Trisha and I are heading down to do the race. This will be her 2nd 50K and much easier than Chuckanut. I am looking forward to a nice long run with no need to race. :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Racing!

Last year at Leadville I got to watch the Leadville 100M Mountain Bike race and was intrigued. I wondered if I might like racing a mountain bike, if it would be good cross training or would be a good addition to ultra running. After Bighorn I told Kris I wanted to try it and ease my curious mind. What did I learn? When you have two people who waste NO time in making things happen....things happen fast. Meet my new racing bike!

Kris races for a shop called Cyclepath here in Portland and when we got home she called them up and they had the built the perfect bike for me. It weighs no more than 23 pounds and fits my body and my personality like a glove complete with the etched flowers in the disc brakes and the handles. Also the faint pink bolts and stripes added the feminine touch to this gravel crushing machine. Okay, do you think I love my bike? The next question is....can I ride the bike? It's been since the late 80's when I last road a mountain bike but I jumped in with both feet. It's all really funny because I know NOTHING about bikes and even when it came time to add pedals they brought out all these clip in types and I looked at them like they were nuts! I need normal're going to put normal pedals on this bike???? You bet....but I promise I will put REAL pedals in as soon as I figure out how to ride it. :) So.......that was Saturday and my first race was Monday night. Kris tells me I need to come do the short track mountain bike races they hold on Monday night. She said there are all kinds of categories from kids to pro and I could easily do the beginner ride and in her words, "Just check it out". We gather up the whole family and head out. Alex was going to do the juniors while Bill and I did the beginner. Me on my new killer bike and Bill on his 20 year old Costco bike. We arrive and all I see is a sea of jerseys. You know the folks all decked out in their sponsored outfits knowing exactly what they are doing. Meanwhile we have no idea what we are doing but when I saw the track we were going to ride I almost turned around and ran (not rode) back to the car. But.....Kris spotted us right away (don't know why we looked like we fit right in....NOT) and yells, "Bill, Ronda, Alex over here"! We get all signed up and then Kris takes us for a warm up ride to view the course. "Holy Sh__", were my words as we crested the giant hill and the only way out was down and it looked steep. I hung at the top and gathered my nerves all the while Kris and Alex come flying over like it nothing. Kris is yelling, "Come on Ronda, get down here". I finally got the nerve and made the plunge and it was scary. The course twisted and turned up and over things. It was full of sand pits, gravel traps and mud hills...not to mention the whole tree weaving thing. Needless to say I was freaking out. Now it's time to line up and the goal is to do as many laps as you can in 20 minutes for beginners. I come riding up late fully expecting to see ma, pa, grandma and grandpa lining up in this cue but all I see is a sea of jerseys and chicks sizing everyone up. What happened to casual fun???? Feeling like an idiot in my trail shoes a tank top and bike shorts I found rolled up in my costume drawer that I am sure date back to 1987. I belly up with my real cool bike which I am sure gave a conflicting message. All the time trying to be casual as I inch closer to the starting line I hear Kris yell, "Get up there Ronda, your cardio will out do them all". GREAT......... We are off and before I know it I am caught up in the mad dash to the first hill. I easily hold my place but am peddling like a freak so I shift...ooops wrong way, okay I got it and I am cruising along with a pack of mad woman. We come around the bend and skid like crazy and head to the sand hill. I hear someone yelling, "pick up speed", so I peddle like crazy to make it up but as I get closer to the top 4 woman are down forcing me off my bike. Then right next to me a gal picks up her bike maneuvers around the crash sight running over the hill then re-mounts. I take note for future pile ups. We are blazing and my heart rate is screaming as we head into the tree weaving section. I do well here, it pays to be short and small. I hold my own but suddenly realize, I am racing! Girls are fighting for position and fight back pumping my legs like crazy since I really don't know how to USE my bike. We come around for the first lap and I hear the announcer say, "We have quite a woman's race". Lap 1 goes by fast but lap 2 is even faster now that I know what I am doing, sorta. I have found a pack of wolves....I mean girls and we battle it out but a couple seem to break away. That carrying your bike and running technique came in handy on this lap. I am focused on what I see ahead which is Alex making his way through the course and I give him words of encouragement as I pass but he seems to not need it as he tries to take me out. On to lap 4 and not much time left I push and in the tree section I am head to head with a jersey and she tries to take me on the turn but falls and I just barely miss her tire saving myself. I asked her if she was okay as I passed and she sorta looked at me like I was nuts as if to say, "ya I'm fine, that's what we do here". Coming into the home stretch drenched in sweat but excited to have survived my first Mountain Bike Race I feel really jazzed! Despite my running shoes, old school pedals and total lack of experience I think I placed pretty well among the girls....results are not up yet. Alex believes he was leading the juniors at one point and Bill got in 3 laps on his Costco bike but felt like he got hit by a truck this morning. We stayed and watched Kris tear up the Sport class and she was at least in the top 4 plus she had some blood and bruises.....a real mountain biker. It was a blast and one hell of a workout; total threshold for 20 solid minutes!

So, my future in Mountain Biking remains to be seen and I will keep you posted as I progress. Bill thinks I will do just fine until I take one bad spill. He may be right but we will see. It is definitely not a sport for the faint at heart or the wimpy. Those bikers are scrapers and take the trail like they own it. "Flow like water", sounds like a good quote for mountain biking.

Besides last weeks bike race I ran 3 times just to get my legs moving again and worked out in the gym 3 times killing my upper body. This week it's back to training for Tetons! Tomorrow will be my first quality run since Bighorn. I am heading out for a tempo effort and see how it goes.