Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time Flys!

I can't believe it's already December. I also can't believe I only have 6 short weeks of training left before I run Surf City Marathon. I am excited and nervous because it's been a really long time since I ran a road marathon where it's pedal to metal from the get go. Training has been going really well. I am feeling really strong and logging some good volume with all the quality workouts Scott has lined out. 3 quality runs in one week has been my limit but this last training cycle we pushed it to 4. I get one rest or recovery run in between. The goal is to push the recovery and lactate tolerance levels. So far my body has responded well. The M-Pace runs are in the 12-15 miles at this point. The T-Pace runs are pushing 45-60 minutes. The track workouts are building meaning the distances are growing while the speed stays constant. The long runs are still 3-4 hours of casual but consistent trail running. Even though there's no quality built into the long trail run I am still counting it as quality because it has it's own fatigue factor.

As of last week I am doing the track workout on Sunday after the long trail run. This serves 2 purposes. First it makes my body work when fatigued forcing the VO2 to it's limit. Second, there is only one day of recovery before the long M-Pace run. Last week was my first attempt at this new approach and all went well. I was a few seconds off on the longer intervals (800-1000's) but the real test was today's run. With the temperatures in the PNW well below 25 degrees Cheri and I hit the trails for a 15 mile M-Pace workout. I was anxious to test the new theory and my recovery from Sunday. However when my car read 16 degrees and I felt like my heater could not keep up I wondered if the sub 7:40 pace for that distance would be doable. The warm up felt darn stiff as my body adjusted to the immense amount of clothing. My legs were super cold even with full length tights. I tried to put on 2 pair but they were just to tight! As we did our warm up my face felt frozen. I was wearing an ear band an a hat plus most of my chin was covered but still my lips became immobile. I knew Cheri was in the same boat so the mumbling conversation wasn't weird. Reluctance seemed to be the mood of day as we dropped our gear and headed off for the M-Pace portion. Both of us seemed to give each other a cautionary, "we'll see" goodbye. Feeling like my body was in slow motion was irritating but the paces just kept coming most faster than needed. At one point my contact in my right eye seemed frozen to my eyeball. I reached up and put my hand warmer on my eye to add some warmth then remembered to blink feverishly from that point on. After 8 miles of sub 7:40's I felt the fatigue begin to settle in. My hamstrings were beginning to tighten but I knew I could do the rest and make my times. In the end it was one of those workouts you can put in the tool box. If we can do that many miles at M-Pace in those temps we can handle more than we think we can. Although, If Cheri wasn't as hard core as she is I am not sure I would have bucked it up.

Tuesday's have become a hairy workout day. Seems instead of planning for the long weekend back to backs I gear up for Tuesday's. It's really a nice change for now. After the long M-Pace workout I head straight to a leg workout then follow that up with hammered. I don't know how much longer I can sustain that kind of load in one day. I figure I can get up to about 17 miles before I need to drop one of the weight sessions. It's been super fun to share this tough days with the girls. I look forward to the run and seeing everyone who shows. It's really motivating and keeps me accountable.

The T-Pace runs are no certainly no picnic but I think the length feels short compared to Tuesday's. Perspective can so easily be modified. I love that. My weekly mileage is up in the 60's to 70's and that's high for me. Especially this time of year.

As the year comes to end planning for next year is on my mind. I didn't get into Western States so I will be going back to Bighorn. I also put in for the Wasatch lottery and am hopeful. Wasatch is my favorite course (Hardrock is in it's own catagory) and I want to go back and try for a faster time. I hope I get in. If I don't I am not sure what I will do on the back end of the summer. I am also trying to drop in some shorter stuff this year. I would like to do a couple of 50 mile races and 2-3 50K distances. I am definitely going to try to make the new Mt. Timpanogos Marathon held on May 22nd. I will use that as a training run and most likely do hill repeats on the back side the day before. I am excited about the opportunity to do that event. As for 50's thinking about Leona Divide or Mt. Diablo. Not sure yet.

As for blogging. It's been sparse. Mostly because I still struggle with Blogger and the Mac. I am going to go back to my PC for blogging. I can't seem to get pictures to upload using my Mac. I have to confess I am not sold on the Mac. Alex is begging to have the Mac and he might find it wrapped up nicely under the tree. The real problem is I have ADD when it comes to this tech stuff. I just want Bill to fix it for me. :) At least I am honest. he, he.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you have theme song?

I think the concept of a "theme song" came from the Allie McBeal show but I could be wrong. Well I have a theme song titled Don't Reach. I haven't come up with the full tune yet but have embedded the concept in my head after seeing pictures of myself power hiking and descending. Thanks to Tony C. who facebooked a picture of me climbing at CCC100M it was really clear I have an serious over extension issue. I don't know if comes from being short, trying to keep up with my faster friends or simply a technique issue but the over stretching on the push off portion of my power hike is not good. I wondered why my TFL and my Glute Medius get so fatigued during a long power hike. Well now I have the answer. I used to have this bad habit while running speed work as well. I wrote a blog entry about it last year. I worked hard on bringing in my legs and landing right under my hips. Instead of letting my leg travel so far behind then swinging it back into the front position drive more from the front of my body. This has been a big improvement.

Fortunately I now have a new project. The power hike don't stretch boogie. I also over extend when I run down hill but it's not as bad. During my break I got to walk at an incline on the treadmill. After talking about this to Dr. T (Drake Tollenaar) he suggested I count my steps and they should be in the 70+ range while walking at a serious incline. I was shocked at how many steps short I was. I think I was around 60. That's a lot of reaching and swinging. Not good form and certainly fatiguing to the hip region. I used my 5 week break as an opportunity to work on it and make my ultra running better which ultimately will keep my hips healthier.

I am just ending my first 4 week cycle of this training session. It's still base building phase. I am stoked at how well my body has adapted to running this year. With the large amount of quality work Scott slated I can firmly say I am faster. My VDOT has already moved up 2 points in 4 weeks. I am almost back to my peak phase VDOT. I sure hope this upside continues because I would love to break 3:23 at Surf City. According to my numbers I am already there but we all know how that goes. Running at near red line for 26 miles is just not the same as it feels for 10.

It's been a beautiful fall here in the PNW. We have been lucky to have many dry days which makes for some lovely trail runs. Tuesday's have been M-Pace work which is one of my favorite workouts. It's been especially fun this year because we have set up a standard meeting time and therefore it's been a group effort. After the M-Pace workout we head to SLEDGE for a hammered class. There are a gaggle of girls pushing around the heavy loads and it's really motivating and fun. I find myself looking forward to Tuesday's. Cheri and I are both doing Surf City so it's fun to share the hard training.

In my week I have 1 M-pace run, 1 T-pace run, 1 3A run with 100 and 200 meters sprints, 1 long run and 2 recovery runs. Every other week I have a track workout but in two weeks I move to having one every week. Guess when they are slated?? On Sunday after my long run. Sounds crazy huh but that's the plan. The long runs are causal social trail runs. No quality is included. That will change in December some time. The long trail run will be replaced with a paced long run. The last time I did those I got in great shape only to crash hard. This time I am going to avoid the crash or at least that's my intention. It's a fine line but I am getting so much better at distinguishing the two, crash vs. improvement.

All in all I can't say enough about the mental and physical break. For me has been such a great tool for motivation and strength in the physical sense. Having a purpose during the break definitely serves my "gotta have mission" personality. Since I have switched to a MAC I am so challenged it's ridiculous. Good thing I have a 13 year old who can pick up on new stuff fast. I have the worst time loading pictures into my blog. It seems to scramble the words and splits things up in strange fashion. If any of you has the trick can you let me know? I have refrained from throwing this lovely stainless thing many times I may be close to a breaking point. I might have to surrender and go back. So sad but there are just some things my brain can't brace.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder!

The saying is true. 5 weeks of zero running made me crave it like crazy. I really lost my "movo" (motivation) just before Cascade Crest 100M. I was in serious need of some R & R. After my pacing duty at Wasatch I hung up my running shoes and took that well needed break. Last year I did the same thing but wasn't ready to give up my need for physical change and reward. This year I was on the fence. The same figure competition I did last year was available but I wasn't sure I was in to it. With the prod of some friends and a bit of curiosity I decided to sign up. I chose not to document the process here because I did in detail last year and most everything was the same. I knew the drill and last year saw some amazing changes. I was able to keep off most of the fat loss from last year so I was starting off in a better position but was my heart in it? That would be the question and it was a 3 week battle of wills before I found the answer.

I got the menu plan, I got the workout plan, I had been here before but this time I had less blub to shed. Of course I decided I needed to raise the bar and this year I wanted to arrive before the water drop at single digit body fat numbers. As the process unfolded and it became clear I needed to make a change from last year to get a change this year. Micheal (who's name is spelled as I have it) always says, "Nothing changes if nothing changes". Simple words but absolutely true. With 12 days to go before bikini time I was faced with a decision. Either step up to a new level or remain the same. I wasn't happy, I wasn't motivated and I was definitely not going see single digits before competition day if I didn't do something different. It took me about 2 days to decide if I was going to stay status quo or make a change. After a few hours of pity party stuff, pouting and simply being disappointed that my body would not shed more faster I decided to give it all I had for the remaining 12 days. There were only two things I could different, change my diet, change my exercise. At this point I was doing 1.5 hours of low level cardio (were talking heart rate below 130) with lots of lifting and I was eating exactly what was outlined. The fix? 3+ hours of looooow level cardio (heart rate below 116) and the last 4 days before the show I ate only boiled cod for protein and oats, brown rice or rice cakes for carbs. The cardio stuff was hard because it was boring, really easy and it was broken up throughout the day. I felt like I never showered. I embraced it for 12 straight days. The diet was hard the last 4 days. Generally I have no issues with the menu. I am not hungry and generally only have a few moments of scavenger behavior I need to control.
But.....boiled cod for 42 straight meals could make anyone puke. I actually had moments of gagging and a couple of times teared up wondering why I was doing this. In the end it was all worth it. 9.89% was a sweet number to see. By the time I dropped my water I saw 104 on scale so I was tiny! I had great muscle definition and got 2nd out of 12 in the 5'3" and under group, 4th in master and 2nd in the short bikini division (I entered last minute the day of the show). Seemed I found my motivation in the last 12 days finding some sick pleasure in the process. It was rewarding because it was hard and I had to make a choice to make a change.
(I am pretty excited to see mud on my leg)
The day after the show we drove home and I planned my first run on the trails! I was at the trailhead early and enjoyed a lovely 7 mile run which seemed effortless. I got back to my car in record time and felt hungry for training to resume. I ran the next day and the next day. By Thursday I was so sore I could barely bend my legs. Apparently I haven't forgotten how to over due things. My quads were hammered but I loved it! I signed up for the Catalyst Challenge 10K that Saturday. So, I have run 3 runs, gotten myself incredibly sore and now I am going to get a VDOT at a 10K so I start my training.

The race went so well I shocked myself. I felt strong and in control though my lungs had a max uptake it was enough to do 45:30 or 7:20 pace. I got second and was thrilled to have had such a good race given the lack of running. I think the lighter weight comes into play here. Bill ran the 5K and he had a great time winning an age group trophy. The next week I had my first call with Scott and got a schedule for the next 4 weeks. I signed up for Surf City Marathon in Feb. and I want to go after a PR. Training has started and it's quality stuff right out of the shoot. I have already done 1 M-Pace run, 1 Tempo run, a strides workout and one long run. Ahhhhh, it feels really good and I am pumped. However, Alex (aka-germbot) shared his cold with me. I sure hope it passes quickly because I am motivated!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wasatch 100M - Pace and Crew report!

Micheal was the lucky lottery winner this year. He was able to land a slot in both Hardrock and Wasatch. He thought for sure he would only get into one and therefore the choice would be made for him. Fortunately for him his tickets came jumping out of the hat for both races. It was the first time he had put in for either so the rest of us unlucky folks were giving him the eagle eye along with a thumbs up. Now what to do? The obvious answer is of course both. It only took him about 2 days to come the right conclusion but with Coyote Two Moons already on the books that meant some serious mountain running for Micheal. Wasatch is my favorite course. I have run the full race twice, had my only DNF there and paced and crewed. Bill and I love the area so much we bought a vacation property there and try to spend as much time as we can in those mountains. So when Micheal got in we made sure we were ready to help him out on his pursuit of the very challenging but amazing course.

A couple of days before the race Micheal called to inform us it was going to be hot one. Wasatch is tricky that way. It can be very hot or very cold and sometimes both. Being prepared for everything is the best approach. Wasatch offers it all, big mountains, altitude, weather, technical trails and one of the toughest last 25 miles I have seen. There simply is no freebie at Wasatch. Micheal was overly prepared and I wouldn't expect anything less. Lisa and I left Thursday and met Bill in Salt Lake City airport. Micheal retrieved us and off to the hotel for a good nights sleep and the Friday start.

Waking up on Friday morning and only needing a light long sleeve shirt to stand around the start area meant it was already warm. Micheal's pace chart was my Grand Slam Wasatch time which I knew he could easily
beat. We got to the first crew point early enough to watch the leaders blaze through. That's always really fun since it's the only time I ever see them. Micheal cruised in 20 minutes ahead of my sub 28 hour time looking strong and at ease. He did tell Lisa his stomach seemed full.

On we went for the long wait before we could see him again at Big Mountain (mile 39). We drove to the house and dumped our luggage, had lunch and made our way up to the checkpoint. It was definitely warm because all I needed was a tank top and generally it would be chilly up there. The runners were coming in one after another. Most looked strong but hot. We prepped for Micheal's early arrival complete with all the items he requested and few more just in case. Micheal arrived now 40 minutes ahead of schedule but as he ran down into the aid station I could tell he was dehydrated. How? Because his muscles looked depleted. Sure enough he was down 6 pounds I think. He wasn't feeling good but he was sure moving well. He reported stomach issues and felt he needed a moment to regroup. He sat and drank his fuel while we dumped water all over his head and shirt. The full stomach he felt at Francis Peak never passed and he reported some vomiting. No worries, ultra runners vomit all the time, right? We doubled up on his salt and he left with water, his gels but no solids. His job was to take it easy in the Wasatch oven (Big mountain to Lamb's is very hot).

With the fabulous Wasatch website we were able to track his progress to Alexander Ridge and could see he was slowing. That was good and bad. Good because he needed to get his stomach
back in the game but bad because that meant the remedies we tried at Big Mountain weren't working. We set up at Lamb's and had all our toolbox out and waiting for our hot runner. I was going to pace Micheal from Upper Big Water to Brighton (62-75) but I was geared up and ready to go at Lamb's (mile 53). If he wasn't better then I would offer to go with him. He arrived moving well and strong but his stomach was no better. In fact, I think it was worse. He took a few minutes to cool down and get himself prepped for the next section. The good news is he was done with the heat. After Lamb's we would be heading back up to 8,500 feet and it would get dark before we reached Upper Big Water (mile 62). We left Lamb's with one goal. Our only job was to arrive at Brighton (mile 75) with his stomach. From 53 to 75 we would do everything we could to get things moving in the right direction....down not up. :) There were moments when things seemed to be turning in the right direction but nothing was sticking. We tried it all and I am not kidding. There wasn't one thing I can think of that we did not attempt. He needed salt but couldn't keep down the gel caps. He needed fluid but couldn't keep that down either. Broth seemed to be a good bet but his stomach was having none of that. All through my pacing duty he would ingest something and we would be seeing it again within minutes. At this point Micheal had not had any fuel stay down since mile 39. Things were not going to get any easier going forward.
On the descent into Brighton we talked about what to do. The only thing left was to take a load off. We felt that maybe a nap would serve him well. Besides becoming the amazing puke man he became the amazing minimalist. The guy was moving very well on NOTHING! I was getting worried. I had visions of severe dehydration and the awful dangerous effects that has on the body. His will was incredibly strong and determined. It was quite a sight. Micheal agreed to lying down, calming his system and stomach then proceeding. We have always referred to the Brighton checkpoint as the Wasatch vortex. Once you go in and sit you never come out. Of course that's an exaggeration but I make my crew set up outside. Micheal felt the same but when we arrived there was obviously going to be a change. Micheal immediately laid down and dozed off. He would wake up occasionally and make sure his barf bag was handy. Bill was geared up and ready for the last 25. Even though I would NEVER encourage someone to drop I was nervous for Micheal and state he was in. Despite having zero calories he was surprisingly astute. He didn't show signs of bonking and was not acting like a zombie. He wasn't acting like a depleted ultra runner. After a 45 minute nap he stood up, looked at us all and with what appeared to be watery eyes announced, "I can walk so I guess I can walk and puke, let's get this thing done". Off they went with water and table salt dumped in a baggy. His instructions were to drink water, dip his finger in the salt and eat it, repeat and if things turned...try to eat.

Lisa and I sat in the parking lot waiting just to be sure they didn't come back. We both knew they weren't. Micheal had that severe determined look on his face and Bill was his perfect partner, calm but steady. We left and went back for some sleep. I had Bill's I-Phone so I could keep good tabs on them via the website. Lisa and woke up looked at his progress we were pumped. He was moving very fast and we were sure he had come back from his puking fest. We drove to the end and parked at the trail head where it spills onto the final bit of pavement. Before we knew it they emerged. Micheal, Bill and John hopped on the pavement for their final mile into the finish. Micheal crossed the line and never looked so relieved. I was prepared for a trip to the medics for an IV. I had all sorts of plans in my head so we would be ready to take care of our sick dehydrated runner. We kept him walking around so he wouldn't shut down. His stomach never came back and besides table salt and water Micheal had nothing for 60 miles! It was pretty unbelievable and if I wasn't there to witness it for myself I would assume it was ultra runner lore. Bill got a serious workout and was pretty beat up from Micheal's "Let this end", determination.

Sometimes the best way to learn is to watch. I have never experienced anything like what Micheal went through in any of my 22 100M races. I am pretty sure Micheal has never experienced either. Of course
we have been sick, had sour stomach, puked, bonked but always emerged at some point. There was no emerging from this. His will and determination to see it through was neat to witness. Though I am not sure I could have done it myself I am overly happy and amazed he did. I am definitely putting this effort in my tool box. The best part about ultra running is once you think you have got it all figured out you get reminded how hard this sport is. What does it take to push through what seems to be impossible? What does it take to turn the awful into triumph for yourself? I am not sure where Micheal went to pull this out but I would have loved to jump inside his head on our way into Brighten. But.....I would have wanted right back out because that projectile vomiting over and over again was craziness. It's so great to be part of someone else's race. The energy, the lessons and most of all the victorious outcome was so cool. Thanks Micheal and Lisa!


P.S. you will have to excuse any weird spacing or alignment. I have made the switch from a PC to a Mac and let's just say I am not sure you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cascade Crest 100M!

The nice cool temperatures in Washington made for some fast times at CCC. It's been since 2003 since I ran the full course but after two pacing duties and few training runs a few years ago I felt like it was yesterday. The memories and familiarity came flying back in my brain as the day unfolded. Since CCC 100M takes place close to home it's like going to be with family. That alone makes for a special event but to make it even better I got the pleasure of sharing the experience with some of my close friends. Cheri's husband Gary would be making his first attempt at the 100M distance. In addition, my friend Sarah's sister was coming all the way from Montana for her first 100M race. Besty brought her mom and dad and Sarah rode up with us. Lot's of good stuff was about to happen.

The weeks leading up to CCC were not leaving me feeling mentally or physically ready to put forth an "A" race. Early in the year when I filled out my application I put some high expectations on myself for this race. I felt I should be able to run under 24 hours and knew that would be a push for me. As the race got closer and I took note of how my body felt my 24 hour goal seemed less inviting. Getting the flu for my last training weekend certainly didn't help build any confidence. Even though I wasn't "feeling it" I decided to keep my expectations high.

On race day I felt confident and ready to finish up my season but other than that I felt very little. Not a good place for my head to be. I generally line up with lots of large emotions. They take many forms and I am sure if you have been a follower you've noticed. No matter what the emotion is it generally serves as fuel for my race. My lack of any such feeling was new. Racing is not my strong suit. I love the challenge of the event and the clock but am not so much ready to put myself to the test of trying to win. However I am not naive and I knew I had a shot at winning CCC 100M if I had a good day. The week leading up to race I tried really hard to visualize what it would take to push myself hard, test my fitness and race well. However much I kept trying to get hungry for a good race I couldn't muster it up. I think some of my rooster feathers have been plucked. :)

The fist 35 miles of CCC 100M consist of some of the best single track around and therefore lots of running. Since most of my training has been geared around Hardrock my running legs were not at their best. The last good training run I did on the Wildwood came in handy reminding my body how it feels. To my surprise I was cruising along at a much to comfortable pace and bettering my predicted splits. I arrived at Tacoma Pass which is the first crew checkpoint early. That was awesome but even the early arrival time did very little to boost my game. During the next 10 miles I just felt tired. I was already feeling soreness in my legs and kept dreaming about my bed. My head space was just crazy. I actually thought about quiting. I tried all sorts of tricks to get myself in a better state of mind but none were working so I decided to just allow myself to wallow. I worked on a bunch of reasons why I should quit and how I could convince my crew to allow me to DNF. As pathetic as this sounds it actually helped me get over myself. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me, I was ahead of my 24:22 pace chart, I was still running and eating well. There was no way I was going to convince them to allow me to quit. All I could imagine was having the conversation with Bill and Micheal then hearing Bill's high pitched laugh. The one he does when he here's something ridiculous. I just started smiling as my mind went through this exercise and it made me laugh. Despite my ho hum racing attitude I was having a good time. I ran with Allison and Jen for quite some time and that was cool. We talked and ran together for a good 25 miles.

After Tacoma Pass at mile 23 runners get to see their crew at almost every aid station to Hyak at mile 53. That makes for some light weight running and I took advantage of it. Even though I was not on my "A" game my crew was! I barely broke stride in those aid stations. That definitely helped my time. I think my aid station time for the entire race was less than 15 minutes and I am not kidding. I was cruising right along making it to Ollalie (mile 47) about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. The next section to Hyak was always so much fun with the rope descent then the 2 miles in the tunnel. This year the tunnel was closed for repairs so we were re-routed. The new route was just fine and presented new challenges. I think it was about 10 minutes slower due to the extra climbing but it was fun. I was still moving well arriving into Hyak where I would pick up Bill. He paced me for the next 15 miles up and over Kachelass Ridge. On our way up the paved road I decided to take Advil. My legs were already so sore and I knew I would not be able to push the downhills if I didn't dull the pain. I generally stay clear of pain killers because of the possible stomach issues. Generally I can deal with pain I feel but this was to much to early. I felt this would be a good time to do it since I just ate some solids, we were going to be climbing for 5 miles and by the time I needed to push the pain would be less. This was a good call because it worked. It killed enough pain that I never thought about it again. Bill was great on the climb trying to get me run when I could. We did a fine job but I think I could have worked a little harder. When we reached the aid station we did a quick re-fuel and left for the long downhill. I love this part. It's super fast, it's dark and all gravel road for 7 miles in Kachess Lake (mile 68). I put my music on, turned my headlamp to serious beam and pushed hard on the downhill allowing gravity to take hold. Bill did not want to be dropped and I wanted to be sure he got a good workout. We had fun and arrived with more time in the bank.

Micheal was ready to roll out of Kachess Lake and I was smelling the barn. Off to the trail from hell as they call it in the race manual. I love this section and it comes at the perfect time. After spending 15 miles on relentless road and being at mile 68 it feels good to have a change of pace. Just when your legs are beat to death and your hips are tight the trail from hell changes all that. The climbing, ducking and rolling over logs helps get things opened back up. Stretching over limbs and using tree branches to pull yourself up relieves tired muscles. So I think this is a good place to get yourself prepared for the last 22 miles. I think of this section like yoga class!

Micheal and I did well and I only landed knees and hands in a mud puddle once. When we arrived at Mineral Creek we just continued on because crews were up the road 2 miles. I opted to wait and eat when I saw Bill and Alex. That was a bad choice. Micheal and I hiked and hiked and no cars. My watch was showing far to much time for only 2 miles. When we finally got to Bill I was not feeling so great. I was a bit bonky and my stomach felt like someone was stabbing a knife in it. Bill tried to pump me up by telling me I was second and gaining on first but I could have cared less! I wanted to keep my stomach in check and not be sick. Generally I don't have bad stomach issues but I have and I know how it goes for me...not good. We left quickly and continued our slow journey up the ridge line road. From Mineral Creek (mile 73) it's a good 7 miles up a gravel road. I was not doing my usual splits on this road. I was just going with the slow flow, one foot in front of the other, no pushing and barely any running. At No Name Ridge (mile 81) I opted to sit! What?...Yes, sit and try to eat. I decided I should try some solids. I ate lots of solids in the first 50 miles but barely anything since. A very stupid plan on my part. I don't know why I did that and both Micheal and Bill were wondering the same. At No Name it was great to see friends Kris and Laura. They were so nice. I drank some broth and ate a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. I sat for 6 minutes! I felt no pressure and I made a good choice here. The food totally helped my stomach. I took a half of sandwich for the road. I think my stomach was so empty it was crampy. Once I got the food in it I was feeling much better. (Both of these awesome photo's were taken by Glen Tachiyama on Thorpe Mountain)

After No Name it's off for the cardiac needles and Thorpe Mountain. Lot's of climbing in the next 10 miles and much of it is steep. Micheal and I got a groove going and I did an okay job on the needles. It was definitely not my best performance on them and I think my splits for 03 were faster in these sections. I lacked the spring in my legs but I was still moving. It had been light for most of journey to Thorpe Mountain. The sunrise was incredible. As we climbed Thorpe Mountain you could see all the clouds in the valley and all the mountains above them. Glen was on top taking pictures and I can't wait to see them. I bet they are amazing. Feeling pretty tired at this point, sort of sleepy and kind of out of it I opted for some serious caffeine. I had held off from my usual loading because my stomach was so edgy but it was time to push home. With less than 15 miles to go and most of it downhill I needed to wake up and finish this run.

After Thorpe Mountain there are 2 more cardiac needles to climb then a good downhill into French Cabin (mile 88). The two climbs were challenging for me and left me hungry for the downhill home. When we arrived at French Cabin we found Bill changing his tire. He got a flat on the drive up the 4X4 road. We dumped our gear from the long slow night and left with a mission to move. I chugged my 10 oz of fuel which did not sit well in my gut. On the climb over the saddle leaving French Cabin I tried to make myself throw up! It became very clear I would not make a very productive bulimic because it wouldn't work so I aborted that mission. The climb was short and sweet and before we knew it we were on top making our way through the high valley. I got in a good running rhythm and within about 15 minutes my stomach wasn't bloated anymore. Micheal and I rocked this section, running really strong. If I kept myself running I had some good speed. When we would stop to cross a creek or do a climb it would take about minute to get the speed back so I tried to not stop. I had darn good downhill legs left for the final descent on technical trail into Silver Creek (mile 95.5). We blew right on through the aid station because we needed nothing for the final 4.5 miles on flat road...much of it paved. The morning was heating up. I looked at my watch for the first time in many miles and was shocked to see I could break 24:30. Given the very slow miles from 73-85 I thought sub 25 was out the window. When I discover it wasn't I was stoked. As we made our way down the road to finish we see Bill driving up. I was happy to see he was able to get the tire changed and all was good. Bill and Alex followed us all the way in cheering and taking 3000 pictures. My right calf started to seize up on occasion and sent some good shooting pains up the back of leg. Clearly I was ready to be done! Alex jumped out and ran the final stretch with Micheal and I. That was really awesome. My final finish time was 24:15, 2nd girl and 23rd overall. I was really happy with that but even more happy to finish my 3rd 100M race of the year. I thinks that's one to many for this girl.

There are so many great things about running 100 miles. Even on days when your not at your best the experience can be so rewarding. As I made my way through CCC in my ho hum state I got to think about all I can learn from it. The feelings I was having, the negative conversations with myself and ultimate success despite it all. That alone is pretty cool. I am so fortunate to have such a great support system in my family and close friends. In addition, the ultra community as a whole who always make you feel so special and strong. The last couple of days I have a lot of time to think about my race...especially since I have turned into a post race insomniac. Trying to pull my thoughts together about how I really felt about my performance and how I handled the day. I am really pleased with my race. I was proud I saw it through and kept going forward when almost every inch of my mind and body wanted to do otherwise. I think it's another level of learning for me. An acceptance of what was on that day and making the most of it. I am certainly glad I kept my original goal and pressed on with it through one really long ultra moment! It was totally worth it!

When I get the opportunity to go back to the finish line I love to watch the other runners finish out their race. I think I have said it before but those folks who are running into that second day are really tough. By noon on Sunday it was getting pretty warm and by the time some folks finished it was right down hot. We got back to the finish line around 1:30 and drove to the last aid station watching some of the runners make their way on the road. I was getting all chocked up watching them struggle down the hot pavement. Being on your feet that long is so hard and takes much more out of you than finishing in 24 hours. I am sure there are lots who would disagree but I've done both and from where I am sitting it's all guts as each hour goes on. Both Gary and Betsy finished their first 100M races in stellar fashion. I was so glad to be a part, even if it was small, in seeing them accomplish their goal. Lots of friends had great days out there. Rod, once again a bridesmaid, Joe who killed Hardrock, Marty who came back from the dead just to blow by me on the road, Jen who celebrated her 30th birthday the right way, Allison who underestimated herself and killed her first 100M race, Andy who has done a ton of 100M run this year, Roch who made it look easy and everyone else.
It's been a great summer of racing for me and I am ready for a 5-6 week break. Bill and I are pacing Micheal at Wasatch so that will be the only running I do until October 12th. I am looking forward to watching him kill Wasatch and making sure I pay him back for all the support he has given me on my race, tee hee! Bill is excited to see the last 25 miles of Wasatch so that will be fun for him. School is just around the corner for my boy so we will be busy getting him geared up for his last year of middle school. My dogs need brushed, my closet needs cleaned and I need to have coffee and dinner with friends. Though I am going to loooove my break from running I already have ideas for next year.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bouncing Back

When I get sick I like to "bring it"! None of this stuffy nose, coughing or headache stuff. I get the full blown flu. Last weekend was supposed to be the end of a Peak week and the final runs before my taper for CCC100M. Instead the most movement I made was from my bed to the couch and back again. Friday after noon I went shopping with Susan at Lululemon and felt fine (BTW: we bought matching mid calf tights with gather ties on the bottom...tough looking with touch of girl with gather and ribbon). At about 5 pm I was so chilled I was putting on a hooded sweatshirt checking the thermostat. Then the body aches came and it was downhill from there. Fortunately Bill and Alex were well on their way around Mt. Hood so they were free from the ugly germ infested house.

On Sunday I drug myself into the shower which took what seemed like forever so I could drive to the trail head to pick up my men. I hadn't heard from them since Friday and they were expecting me to come running up to them that day. I knew Bill was going to be so worried. They arrived at Ramona Falls at noon. I could sense the worried look on Bill's face as he scanned the parking lot and we he saw me he almost teared up. I felt so bad for making him stressed on his final 3 hours of what was an epic journey but once he found me safe and sound and just sick all was good.

They had a fabulous 3 day trip on Hood. I am so proud of Alex. Hearing him talk about the adventure and all the stuff they had to do was really cool. Bill is incredibly patient and loving so their experience on such a tough journey for a 13 year old was nothing but good. They laughed about climbing to high on Elliot Glacier to make the crossing, Bill ripping his pants so bad he had to use tape to keep them up, their tent slanting so bad that Alex kept rolling onto Bill in the night and the list goes on and on. The pictures of their trip are here.http://picasaweb.google.com/rondasund/BilAndAlexMountHood?feat=email#

So I get a couple extra days of tapering. I suspect it will serve me well as I was on the edge and was probably over doing it anyway. I am looking forward to CCC100M and finishing out the year. I am already dreaming about next years adventures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thanks to back to backs....

Thanks to back to back runs I was saved from diving into an endless pouty session this weekend. The Dual Dual race killed me. I was so thrashed and beat up. When I had my call with Scott today he made me feel justified when he explained that the Dual Dual workout format is one of the toughest workouts the Kenyan marathoners do. He thinks they may even get more rest in-between intervals. So there you have it...I felt much better about the torn up state my body was in...it was earned.

When the weekend arrived I wasn't feeling my usual Black Saturday spirit. It would be my first repeats since Hardrock. We had an awesome 6 party group out on the trail which made it lively. Black Saturday debris was scattered all over the start point. It was sort of neat to see the freeing nature of ultra runners. Leaving their stuff out in to open along side the forest with no a worry. I don't need to go into much explanation about my day because it basically sucked wind. It was hard, slow and sluggish on both the climbs and descents. I just didn't have it. Everyone else rocked passing me right and left. I tried to rub on some of their seemingly boundless energy but not a drop would penetrate. I even found this feather on the trail, put in my headband and tried to pretend to had wings. Clearly it didn't work and I started to resent the bird who dropped it. My hill repeats were the slowest of the season....poop! Despite how slow and pathetic my workout was it was great to have everyone around busting their tail and looking very strong. To deal with my run I decided I would simply lower my expectations and roll with the day and just live with what I felt my body could do. Immediately experiencing relief and a slight weight lifted off my shoulder was great. But....was it? Since I had plenty of time on my hands as I slogged up the 2500+ climb I asked myself the question: "Does lowering your expectations help or hurt you"? Sure I had immediate relief, felt better, had a sense of peace or acceptance in that moment. But since the workout I have been asking myself that question everyday. Not because I need to lower my expectations now but rather SHOULD I lower them to feel better in the moment. For me, NO! I think I would rather keep my expectations high, push to them and if I fail so be it. I can live with that. What I can't seem to grasp is the OKAYness, the sense of just live and let live, everything happens for a reason approach. I am not saying it's a bad thing just not a way I can thrive. Though comforting at the time it's just not me. I am not wired that way and it bugged me that I did it. If you read this and if you think, "Your to hard on yourself"...."Don't beat yourself up" or something like that. Just know I am good with my expectations of myself. I like the pressure and expectations. They feed me. Sure it makes me and others crazy at times but I think we could say that about everything. Since I lowered my expectations and my workout showed it I was more determined to see a better day Sunday.

Micheal and I decided to do a long hard trail run with not a ton of climbing. I had up to 6 hours on my schedule so we hit the Wildwood for the full 30+ miles. It was an awesome run, comfortable, powerful, and relatively easy. I was happy with the effort and felt it somewhat made up for Saturday's performance. Although, I am not going to fool myself. Saturday's poor effort certainly played into the killer run I had on Sunday. I am sort of okay with that but there is still some flogging sessions left from Saturday.

Now in the final Peak week before Cascade Crest. I haven't spent much time thinking about the race yet but I will. I feel like I know the course pretty well since I ran the race in 03 and have paced a couple of times. I need to dig out the cobwebs and pull a race plan together soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dual Dual

Ouch! The Dual Dual race is 40 laps around a track alternating with a partner. Bill and I teamed up for some serious speed work last night. Tempted by Darin and Trisha who were participating was all we needed to sign on the dotted line. This event has been running for 38 years and I have done a couple of other times over 10 years ago. Clearly I had forgotten how wrong it is!

Following a killer leg workout on Tuesday which left my hamstrings shorter than normal if that's possible meant I was going to suffer more than I would know last night. Saving myself for the big event I did no working out beforehand. My run schedule called for a recovery run on Wed. In my mind, which obviously needs some adjusting, I felt like 5 miles on the the track in 400 meter intervals would be the perfect recovery run...yeah smart. I honestly thought I would get enough recovery while Bill ran his lap. I thought anything over 1:30 would be sufficient enough time to recharge before the next lap. The first 5 laps were good and I was thinking this won't be so bad but as each lap continued my legs felt sluggish. My heart rate was sky high in the 180's...hello I don't even do that on my nicely controlled track workouts! Oh well, this is going to be a good lung burner and I wanted to make the most of it. My laps were consistently 1:38-1:42. Bill was not exactly going slow and my heart rate would have just enough time to drop. After Bill and I did 5 miles together I was pretty much toast. My hamstring on my left leg was protesting like crazy. Despite the limp left leg I was able to maintain about the same speed. By the last 3 laps I must have built up enough buffers and began converting the lactic acid to fuel because they were pretty good.

That night I was woke up by pain in the back of my leg. In my fog like state my mind my thoughts went crazy with all sorts of horrible ideas. Did I tear something? Is this going to last? Nice recovery run, smart pants! I think the devious deviation from my rigid running schedule was hard for me to accept. What have I done, have I fallen off the wagon? Funny!

This was certainly no recovery run and in fact may be one of the hardest workouts I have done. I spent 39 minutes in the 178-185 range! I can't remember the last time I ever did that. I paid the price big time though. I had to abandoned my recovery run because my left leg wouldn't move. Thankfully Dr. T got me right in and tore into my medial hamstring and glute releasing some serious knots giving some range of motion. I am sitting on ice right now with the devil Ronda on my shoulder dressed in her spiky red outfit complete with a tail rolling around laughing her head off. She is extremely proud she got me so sore that I can't run! I am secretly smiling myself because it was really really fun. Bill said he feels like someone threw him off a cliff. So.....I think all of you should get your friends (or maybe you enemies), head to the track and put on your own Dual Dual. It's a special kind of workout. Bill and I finished the 10 miles in 1:09:53 on my watch. Bill was amazing since he runs about 3 miles every other day on the treadmill right now. he didn't give me enough rest :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Crazy busy but all good stuff!

So many cool things have been happening around here. A good friend of ours Jim Rudig got hitched on Saturday, Alex turned into a teenager, I got to go to my favorite spot and did my first professional photo shoot. It's been a busy 5 days but all of it super cool.

First, our friend Jim and his bride Alisa had a lovely wedding at the beach. It's been so long since Bill and I were at a wedding and Alex has never been. After the ceremony Alex told us he would probably cry out of happiness at his wedding. That just about made both Bill and I cry because it was so sweet. I told him I would be sure to cry like a baby at his wedding. Since we were already at the beach we celebrated Alex's 13th birthday in the sand. We had a nice family affair and he is having friends over this weekend for the real celebration. He's pretty excited to be an official teen. I am not sure what that means but I am appropriately watchful wondering what these teen years are going to be like.

All the celebrations followed an awesome run up to Yokem Ridge on Friday with Trisha and Cheri. The temperatures have been so hot it was nice to be in the mountains. It was still crazy warm up there and we were drenched when we finished. We started at the Ramona Falls trail head and did an out and back. Ramona Falls itself is a great sight. Since the snow up there has just melted the wildflowers were everywhere and super fragrant. The biting flies were out in full force as well. I think both Trisha and Cheri got their first taste or should I say bite of the nasty bug. When we stopped to filter water they swarmed over and before we knew it we were covered, jumping and swatting while we tried to get water. The trail was in great shape with only a few blow downs which surprised me given the winter we had. The views were as usual amazing. As you make your way up the Yokem trail in the forest and wildflowers it just opens up and Mt. Hood it right in front of you. The sound of the glacier melt roars and suddenly you have forgotten the 3000 foot climb. The only problem is once you're there you don't want to leave! That was my first long run since Hardrock. I felt pretty good but still don't have the spring back in my quads for the downhills. Nothing that a couple of gorge hill repeats won't fix and fortunately for me I get to do them this weekend. I have 2 weeks of good training left. This week is a Build 2 then a Peak. After those are done it's taper time....wow time zooms by!

Yesterday I did my photo shoot for Lululemon. I will be their running ambassador and I am thrilled. It's just like all other sponsorships but it's clothing not shoes. Since I live in their stuff it's an honor to be asked. The photos that come out of the shoot will be used to create a life sized canvas that hangs in the Pearl District store and the others will show up in advertising, water bottles, bags and who knows where. I had to sign my life away saying they could do whatever they wanted with them. I have never done a photo shoot before and it was not easy. We spent 3 hours in Forest Park doing all sorts of stuff in a few different clothing items. I asked for lots of photo shop but they prefer the natural look..oh well it was my one shot at a tall skinny version of myself. I got a sample of a couple of shots and they weren't bad so I can't complain. It took a while for me to get the groove of running, looking up and smiling all at the same time. I am super pumped to be representing their run line since I think it's awesome, functional and mostly really really cute!

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!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gaining some perspective.

The weather in Silverton has gotten much better. After changing my plans to run my last long day on Saturday to running Sunday instead I was treated to a great day in the mountains. Only bits of rain and a few dark clouds on the high passes yesterday. Since my last entry I have done my final hill repeats on Engineer Pass. I chose this spot because of the mild grade which I felt I could run even at 11-13K elevation. I would also be able to re-fuel and change clothes when needed. It ended up being a bitter sweet day. Given my state of mind I spent the 5 hours deep in my own head plus I got in a great workout at the same time. Many times ultra runners solve or discover their best stuff while on a run. I came to the understanding that for me…not all epic experiences are going to be joyful and carefree every time. Learning to accept, adjust and simply go with the flow are not qualities easy for me to embrace. I am a control freak! I like to know exactly what I am getting myself into, decide, make plans and move through the situation or experience with grace. This is not one of those experiences. Instead, I’m having to adjust, maneuver my plans, my attitude and mostly realize I don’t have control….this course does.

I always bring my favorite pre-race running book with me so I can brush up on the mental part of racing. These long ultras are generally a race against the clock for me but Hardrock is going to be a race with the mountains. Since this book is about racing and competition I need to change some of the words to fit my situation but it still works. Since my mental oneness seems to be missing I am using these words to come around. The paragraph is called. “Letting Go” and it says this: “Racing is a process, the outcome of which simply measures how successful you have been moment by moment throughout the event as well as your training and preparation. Success in the now is a factor of the joy you experience in the execution of the plan, the quality demonstrated in your technique and skill level. When you acknowledge that winning is beyond your control, you can begin to fully experience the emotional rush of competition: well-trained athletes seeking greatness together. Seeing the race as a journey, you feel the freedom to run in the flow, a state of relaxed intensity.” All I have to do is replace a few words about winning to finishing and it works. There is a whole chapter on this stuff. Generally I read the parts about dealing with pain and visualizing your day but I had to go back a few chapters this time. The book is called “Running Within”.

Yesterday I made some huge progress with the course. We ran from Chapman Gulch to the finish. We had to go up and over Grant Swamp Pass. We started at 6am and arrived at the snow fields at about 7ish. We got really lucky and the course was marked. Apparently they moved the marking schedule around because the rivers were really high and they wanted to avoid crossing some of the big ones. When we got to the first snow field Steve put one foot on it and found it to be a sheet of ice! He couldn’t use his foot the break the snow down. We walked down the hill to the river and crossed it instead. We then had to hike up back up to the markings and continue on. We were wondering what the next snow field would bring? The sun was not over the mountain yet. I could see our destination and just tucked it back in my mind and would deal with it when it came. This pass was a series of scree and snow that we had to weave through as we made our way to the top. When we came to the next snow field again we found ice. I suggested we use a rock to dig steps so that’s what we did. Steve did the work with a rock and his heel and we made our way across using this method time and time again. I suspect this will be the case during the race depending on time of day a runner arrives at Grant Swamp or the snow could be gone by then. Now for more growth! We were now at the base of the last steep pitch to the summit and it was all snow. The sun was hitting the mountain and warming things up but it was going to be a nail biter for me. We stood at the base of the pitch for about 10 minutes waiting for more sun and hopefully softer snow. I looked around and found the perfect rocks to use as my ice ax to help me up the snow field. I was pretty much shaking all over but was determined to get up and over it. We began the climb and found the snow was softer but did have to use our feet to pound secure steps. I used my rocks to give me security and it worked. When we reached the summit I needed a moment to pull myself together. Sitting on the 3 foot wide ridge looking back at where we came from was both rewarding and nerve racking. It was cold so our break was short and we began the descent. We found some more ice on the back side. These snow fields were extremely short and only one was icy forcing me to sit on butt, smack my heel in the snow and work my way off. I wasn’t a fan of this either but once we got around the corner it was bliss. Making our way down the ice lake trail was awesome and the views were so wonderful it’s hard to describe. The rest of the day was great. The next pass which is Putnam-Cataract Ridge was super sweet. It’s a lovely high meadow as far as the eye can see surrounded by mountains. We ran into a couple of other runners one who has been training on this course for 6 weeks. He asked where we came from and said that Grant Swamp is the worst of the passes. At least on Virginias they will provide a rope and cut in steps. I felt a ton of relief and reward knowing this information. Knowing I was able to get over it gave me more confidence I can do the others. We also ran into the folks marking the last section which was neat to see. It makes it more and more real which in turn will force me to start putting my plans down on paper making my way through the course in my head. Hopefully more calm and excited than anxious and fearful.

Now it’s taper time! I feel really good physically and the altitude has seriously been on such a back burner it hasn’t been bad. I think come race day the lack of air will be just fine and just be part of the experience. So far I think I have gotten a really good taste of what’s to come on race day. I got the amazing weather day on Handies. That was an eye opener and will surely help me plan appropriately. I got the icy snow pitch on Grant Swamp and figured a way to get up and over it so Darin and will be able to get it done. Bill, Alex, Darin and Micheal arrive on Thursday and I am so looking forward to that.

All in all I think I have grown! Funny but seriously I didn’t think I was such a baby, homesick and needy. :) I do know that I have been running on adrenaline for a few days now and suspect I will have loads of it come race day. Now I just need to put that drug to good use, not fight it and hopefully be able to have that epic experience Hardrock in known for.