Thursday, December 30, 2010

Creative Visualization

When I was a Freshman in college I took this class titled creative visualization. Not because I was looking for find myself or I had some need to be more creative. I simply thought it would a an easy A. I had better things to do than take tough classes and learn. My roommate and I waltzed in to the evening class and found it to be way more than we bargained for. I think we may have been the only ones under the age of 25 which at the time seemed ancient. We were just 18 and felt we knew everything and here we were with these old people sitting in a circle! We glanced at each other and I know we were each thinking if we went for it we could reach the door and get the hell out of there. The door closed and we were stuck. The mild mannered instructor with the soft voice welcomed us all, asked us to introduce ourselves then give a brief description of what we were hoping to get out of the class. Panic bubbled through my veins as I listened to those older well spoken students talk about the deep profound ideas they had of tapping into themselves at a deeper level. My mind was spinning as I waited my turn. I certainly couldn't tell them the real reason I was here. My turn came and stuff rattled out of my mouth I barely recognized. I actually impressed myself. I couldn't tell you what I said but it was deep enough to cause the instructor to bond to me like glue. After the class finished Gogo (yes my roommates name was Gogo and she was awesome) and I laughed our heads off and made serious fun of ourselves and everyone else. Exhibiting behavior you would expect from sure of themselves college Freshman. We stuck with the class. There was no homework and no tests so how bad could this sharing stuff be? If we just kicked backed, smiled, listened and occasionally said something we could score an easy grade.

The definition of Creative Visualization is: the practice of seeking to affect the outer world via changing one's thoughts. Creative Visualization is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance, or: a meditative technique in which the meditator imagines that the conditions or things he or she desires are already manifest, helping to bring those conditions into being.

Throughout the term we were required to participate in several meditative sessions which if you know me that is a stretch. I barely sit still long enough to write this blog. I didn't know anybody really mediated except in the 60's. In my world as a teen I didn't share my inner thoughts. I suppose that would be extremely normal but here I was forced to share. That was the main requirement. In a circle of strangers we were each required to talk about our life goals, life pitfalls and create a vision to achieve or develop an outcome we sought. This was a long term and it wasn't just some fly by process which I hoped it would be. The whole class was invested in your meditation from beginning to end. We all held hands (yuk) while a student shared what they wanted to achieve. We listened as they took us through each step of gaining on their dream from beginning to end. It might take several classes for one student to get through their whole creative visualization. There were buckets of tears and I was so moved many times I had to fight back lots of emotions. At 18 I was certainly NOT going to be crying in front of anyone. The class became addicting. Both of us anxious to hear what students had to say and more importantly we were drawn to the excitement of another emotional trigger. Sounds sort of crazy but watching folks work through their fears and drive towards their passions would drum up lots of huge emotions. I became deeply invested in almost every students dream as if I wanted to do anything I could to help them succeed. It was a moving experience no matter how much I fought it. I was fortunate to have such an opportunity as such a young age. Most of all I believe it has been a tool that continues to shape almost everything I do. If I can't visualize myself doing something I most likely will not do it. Over the years I have become a master at dissociation. I don't mean that in a bad way however I can get myself in trouble at times. Dissociating with the present and bringing awareness to what it might be like to do something or become something other than what you currently are is pretty fun. I do this all the time in races. When I am suffering I pretend I am someone else. Generally I like to pick runners I admire or see as strong powerful influences. Before I know it I have been running on their legs for an hour forgetting about mine. Since I am so new to mountain biking the visualization has been intense. I am taking this dream very seriously. By the time Leadville events roll around in early July it will be like I have already done it in my mind many times. I can sometimes even feel it as I get myself all worked up dreaming about it.

While at the Lululemon Ambassador Summit I was thrust into another one of these kinds of classes. 3 days of visualizing, dreaming, sharing and making plans. Again I was overwhelmed, better prepared for what might surface but still out of my comfort zone. Coming off a big emotional and physical failure of sorts made the timing of the summit confusing. I wasn't yet ready to tap into my well of dreams. So much change and torment was still settling out. I still needed time to sit with my thoughts before I could commit myself to pressing forward and goal setting. However I knew it was just a matter of time. At the summit we were given a shirt that has a place for your personal goal. I saved mine because I knew I was wanting to do something big for 2011. I pulled it out the other day and filled in my goal. It was a powerful feeling to write "Leadwoman 2011" on that line. With that I wrote my own manifesto. A personal collage of phrases or thoughts I live by. It's an evolving document. Living this dream in my head is step one in achieving it and I am nervous as hell but couldn't be more excited at the same time. It's the perfect storm!

With the close of 2010 it's the perfect time to think about what's next. Lululemon is a ferocious goal setting company. Yes, they make awesome clothes but they do much more than that for everyone who touches the inner soul of the company. The heart and soul of Lululemon is about making things happen in style of course. J Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby steps!

It's been just over 1 month since I started training with Matt and learning to ride. I am having some growing pains. Lot's of physical changes are starting to occur. I am getting fatigue and soreness in unfamiliar territory. Along with all the physical changes I am getting a good dose of humility. I am really excited to see changes in my body. Who isn't? As ultra runners I feel like we have some of the strongest legs around when it comes to muscle endurance. All the large muscles are generally well developed and most of all many of our auxiliary muscles are ready to roll at a moments notice. Given the opportunity to show their strength at the slightest ankle roll or toe clip they tend to be there ready for action. Not many sports offer that. I am learning not all my leg muscles are ready to work or at least work very hard for very long. Both my center quads are surprisingly lazy. I guess my lateral quads pick up a lot of slack. With the help of some seriously over defined abductors my two most frontal quads have basically been on vacation. My medial quad gets a bit of work on the downhills while running but it's not super developed either. With the addition of cycling my 2 most frontal quads are pissed! It's like they are having a fight with my lateral quad who seems to be the dominate reliable force in the relationship. The one who always ends up carrying the load. I am certain this relationship is dysfunctional and the co-dependency needs to end. My frontal quads need to man up and do their part. Fortunately I have a brain and I plan to use it. It's as if I'm the counselor who is gently trying to sort this relationship out. In the process of unraveling and retraining this cast of characters I need to tread lightly because at any moment both my frontal quads will just shut down, turn they're back on me forcing my lateral to do all the work. When this happens my poor lateral quad which is used to be the dominate, steady partner gets really tired and tight. This is all really interesting to me. I can feel it all happening while I ride. Everything is as smooth as silk for about 1.5 hours but beyond that my frontal quads ask for a smoke break and leave my lateral to do all the work. That's when I have to counsel them back in game and be vigilant. I always wondered why I have no definition in quads. The answer is now clear. I only have 2! My lateral and medial quads have depth but my vastus intermedius and rectus femoris are lazy and underdeveloped. This is really good news because better running and better riding will occur once they realize their vacation is OVER! With that said I am finding myself having to practice some serious patience. For those of you who are parents you remember all the times you needed to bite your tongue or remove yourself from the situation before you lost your cool. This is similar. I can't bully this process. I need to be mature and practice patience as the muscles mature and adapt to being used. I am beginning to get some useful data on my riding ability. I want to see serious improvement. I want to ride more efficient, faster and with more power. Instead of just going for it I am practicing patience and humility. I am trying to listen to my body and work on my pedal stroke and forget about power and speed. I feel I can't skip this step. I don't want to create bad habits that will ultimately cost me in all areas. It's hard to be so new. It makes me so pissed when I can't generate more power. That's when I have to step back and remember my long term goal. Why? Because the only way I can generate a lot of power right now is by just mashing like a mad woman with my strong glutes and lateral quads. Bad idea for me!

Not only am having some great physical changes I am getting a mental shift. I am going from knowing exactly what I need to do to be successful in an endurance run to being a true beginner. I will admit it's super frustrating and annoying. I am constantly reminding myself to be easy and open to the process. Now I know why people bail when things get hard. It would be much easier to abort the mission. However, I can't. I even gave it some thought but it's not in me. I want this. The vision is sometimes crystal clear. When I get frustrated the vision becomes cloudy. That's when I have step back and remember where I am coming from. Just because I can run 100M in the mountains does not mean I can MTB it. This is going to be long but prosperous process filled with many days of frustration but many days of success. I need to be able to handle both.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just fit enough….

I am just fit enough to be dangerous. No need to worry I am only dangerous to myself. I am certain all of us who participate in any kind of endurance sport have the stamina and strength to pretty much try anything. It's not always the best choice to jump in with both feet. It might be prudent to practice some humility and caution. However, that's so much easier said than done.

In 2007 when I did the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning while acclimating for the Leadville 100M I took the opportunity to watch the Mountain Bike race. It's held the prior weekend. I was immediately all in. I so badly wanted to do that event. It appeared to be incredibly action packed and challenging. When the slam was over my desire still brewed and I bought a mountain bike. Cyclepath here Portland is an awesome store and since my friend Kris is well connected in the community she found me a bike which Cyclepath just happened to have built in my size. I fell in love the girly but bad ass bike and threw my money down. Now invested I was going to learn how to ride. I did some short track racing and a couple of trail outings then winter set in. My bike sat. It collected dust the next year when I didn't get picked for the Leadville Bike Race lottery and then again the following year. In 2010 while in Leadville pacing Micheal I learned you could sign up for the whole Leadwoman which is a series of 5 events in 6 weeks time. One of those

events is the 100M bike race and you are given a slot if you go for broke and do the Leadwoman. I was stoked. I texted Bill and let him know we were going to be sleeping in an altitude tent. I had found my calling for 2011. I signed up the day registration opened.

The Leadwoman consists of:

7/2 - Leadville Marathon

7/16 - Leadville 50M run or 50M mountain bike

8/13 - Leadville 100M mountain bike

8/14 - Leadville 10K run

8/20 - Leadville 100 run

I am so excited but incredibly focused on the 100M mountain bike. They give you 12 hours to ride the course and it's tough. The descents make my stomach gurgle. I don't yet know how to ride a mountain bike but I am learning. This leads me to the title of this entry. I am just fit enough to be dangerous to myself! I hired Matt Hart to help me through this. He is a multi sport coach and incredibly knowledgeable about endurance mountain biking and ultra running. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work with him. My brain is exploding with new information. I am learning so much. At times it's completely overwhelming. To ensure I got my butt on the bike I signed up for a 24 hour mountain bike race in February. It's called the Old Peublo 24 Hr Ride and it's held in AZ. This race was recommended by Kris as a good ride that's not too technical.

It's a 17 mile loop course which is perfect for learning. I plan to see how long it takes me to race 100M so I know how far off I am for Leadville. Given that Leadville will far more difficult this will give me great information about how weak I am on the bike. I am in a serious base building phase on the bike. There is no technical riding as of yet. Currently the focus is time in the saddle and pedal stroke efficiency. This pedal stroke stuff is not as easy as it sounds. If you're a cyclist you know this. If you're not you have to be thinking, "How hard is it"? Well, sitting on a bike for 3 hours (which is my longest ride thus far) is interesting. Focusing on full circles using your hip flexors and quads to pull up and your hamstrings to drive the back portion of the stroke is crazy weird. I am learning terms like "masher" which is what cyclist call runners on a bike. I am total masher. My strong quads and endurance can mash for hours! Well, that won't fly in long haul. It's super inefficient. I am learning all about bike fit. This piece is completely overwhelming. There are so many factors. There's the shoes and the clips and how they positioned. There's the seat height and the forward or back. There's the reach. Sheesh, whoever came up with term it's just like riding a bike needs to be schooled. If I was going to a spinning class or riding for an hour none of this would be a big deal. But, clipping my leg in and sitting my butt on a bike for 3 hours

is a whole other story. I am fit enough to ride hard for long time and my body can handle the task. However, with all the pieces not quite right trouble will brew. After a 2:40 minute ride my right IT Band gave me a serious talking to. In over 25 years of running I have never had and IT issue. I wasn't even sure what it was until I got it checked. I did my ride on an indoor bike at my gym. I thought the bike fit was fine but what do I really know. They only thing I knew was I had workout to do. That's what our kind of fitness brings…reckless abandonment. Sitting on an indoor bike practicing the art of disassociation is cake! Ultra running gives us the gift of disassociation or at least we learn it as we go. Since I am getting schooled quite regularly now my new IT issue is just another test.

I have been injured badly 3 times. The injuries were bad enough to keep me from running for up to 6 weeks. I tore my soleous and was on crunches for a week and didn't run a step for 5 weeks. I ruptured my plantarus muscle and could barely walk for 2 weeks before rehab. I screwed up my left knee pretty bad and didn't run much at all for 5 weeks. I have had other minor stuff but not bad enough to set me back. With all my running experience I seem to know the difference between adaption and injury. It's a fine line right? Sort of like a bell shaped curve and once you topple over it's a fight back to the other side. I would say I am teetering right now. Funny thing is I can run with no issue. This is good. I am getting a professional bike fit on Friday which is going to take 3 hours! This is just another piece of the learning. Who would have thought it would take so long and so much was involved?

Did you know how hard it is to mountain bike in the winter? I am laughing as I type this because it is now obvious to me. It's cold on a bike. The mud and slippery stuff is hard to navigate. As I am out there freezing my butt off (btw: a frozen butt is not a bad thing…lessens the pain) I know this is just helping my non-existent bike skills. I am also learning that most cyclist train indoors. Ok, well how do I put a mountain bike on a trainer? You don't have another bike? Nope! This is when I get the look. Sort of a puzzled you're kidding kind look. Then I get, "How long are you going to be on the trainer"? I tell them it could be 4-8 hours. Then you know the look I get. They are horrified and almost feel sorry for me. I however feel excited! Drake let me borrow one of his computrainers. This is Porsche or trainers and I can't wait. The data and rides you get to do are amazing. But, in order for me to use the trainer I need a training wheel on the back. Needless to say, I have been busy getting this bike thing figured out and I love it. I know there is an inner mountain biker in me. I can see her and occasionally feel her. This is going to be big adventure!

Monday, November 22, 2010


My recovery from Javelina 100M was amazing. I wasn't sore, no swelling and my muscles rebounded fast. Why? Because I chose to do a bodybuilding show. I have experienced 2 of the 3 contests held at a physique competition. I have competed in figure twice and bikini twice. I have never done bodybuilding. I have always loved the required poses for bodybuilding but was never really ready to dive in. First, I don't have much muscle and second you need to be very lean. For woman I would say you need to be in the 6-8% max. Since I chose such a late 100M race the only show I would be able to do is the NW Championships in Olympia or my desire to try it would have to wait. I said, "What the hell". I can change my fueling, learn the poses and create a 60 second routine in 17 days. Crazy, not at all recommended but I really wanted to try it so I did. When I got home I got my menu on Monday mid-day. That gave me 17 days to cut as much fat off my body as I could. I started eating the plan that day. 7 meals, every 2-3 hours containing protein, carbs and good fats. One of the misconceptions I heard a lot was, "You must be starving". Actually, it's quite the opposite. Post 100M I am generally not that hungry and what I want to eat is not all that healthy. With this plan I had to eat lots of lean protein, clean carbs and healthy fats whether or not I was hungry. I was pretty much force feeding myself for at least 3 days. This is why my recovery from Javelina was so great. Mark has always told me it would be best for me to eat every 2 hours post race to refuel my muscles and crank up the repair process. Well, it's easier said than done. When you look at yams and chicken after running 100 miles it isn't very appetizing. I wasn't really convinced it would make much difference but now I am certain it does. Along with the eating I had to do 1.5-2.0 hours of low level cardio a day. Broken up into 3 sessions. When I say low level I mean really low, barely breaking a sweat and certainly not breathing hard. I needed to do it this way because I needed to burn only fat! No muscle could be sacrificed. I have very little muscle mass at the end of a running season. Especially in my upper body.

This first 6 days were easy. I had no distractions, was super satisfied and not bored. By the first Sunday I had a rough patch. I questioned why I was doing this. The ridiculous notion that I could run a 100M and 17 days later compete in bodybuilding competition was an easy out. I had a pouting moment, complained to Bill but continued eating like I was supposed to. Bill was awesome. I tried to get him to take me out to dinner and in his sweet way said, "No". He was no fun so the day went on and by 8 p.m. I was in bed. I woke up the following day with new resolve. There's something very satisfying about self control. I always tell Alex self confidence and self esteem are two different things. Self confidence is taught. It's something your parents and people who are integrated in your life almost give you. The people close to you shape your self confidence is many ways. That's why is incredibly important to choose your partners and friends wisely. Listen to them, monitor how you feel when they talk with you about you. All those things play a role in having self confidence because it's how you feel about yourself. Self esteem on the other hand is earned. No one can build your self esteem. At least that's how I see it. You earn it through your accomplishments. How you choose to fulfill your life will either enhance or rob you of your self esteem. All the obstacles you overcome to achieve or have an experience give you resolve. How many times you have trudged forward feeling scared, not worthy or embarrassed because you don't know what you're doing? Each and every time you push yourself you build self esteem. This was one of those moments. Everyone thought I was nuts, stupid or just crazy. All those words played to my weak days but chose to ignore and do what I wanted.

Besides gaining a bit of esteem I gained awareness. Dropping weight is hard. It's takes discipline and self control. I probably heard the phrase "I would like to lose some weight but I can't be that rigid". Well, then don't spend any ounce of mental energy talking about what you would like to do. Not that I am trying to put anyone down but let's face it. It takes energy to get results. It takes some suffering either physical or mental to achieve a goal. Many of us can over train ourselves into becoming sick so clearly we can push ourselves. It seems like there is this brewing notion that if we are ever hungry we have an eating disorder. The only eating disorder I seem to see is over eating. I found it interesting and enlightening to hear and experience peoples reaction about rigid eating. I wonder why? Ask yourself what your initial reaction or emotion is when someone tells you they are eating a certain way to cut fat. Especially if they are not fat in YOUR eyes. I suspect most of us react based on how we feel about our own ideas about our OWN weight. Many times there is a very negative reaction, a lot comparing and justifying right off the bat. I wonder why that is? It's as if planning your food intake whether it be eat more, eat less or simply eat differently as seen as taboo. It's really no different than then planning your day, keeping your house or car very neat, or planning and being diligent about working out. It's all the same. During this 17 days I got the opportunity to experience the feeling of wanting to eat stuff I can't. I have never really needed to lose much weight in my 43 years. With the exception of dropping post baby weight I have never been over weight. The only body changes I have really ever had to make are because I want and like a leaner body. I eat clean because I like to feel good. I like good energy, good skin and I like the taste of clean healthy food. I also, do not like feeling like I have a food hangover. I like to cook and use lots of fresh spices and experiment with clean recipes. All that and my love for physical challenges has helped me stay steady. I do like to eat so I eat a lot and often. For 17 days I got a really restricted menu. Not a lot of tastes and certainly no deviations. There were times when a piece of chocolate or a good coffee drink called me. I had to practice self control but now with food. It was interesting and enlightening. It's hard but if you really want something it's easy. A curious study.

The outcome was a bit leaner Ronda. 17 days only got me about 2.5 lbs of fat loss but I was able to maintain my muscle mass. Since endurance athletes are like glycogen camels it takes a bit for our bodies to burn up the already plump glycogen stores. Along with all that much needed, hard earned glycogen storage comes water. So with all that depletion I dropped at least 5-6 pounds. I will count the 2.5 lbs of fat as real loss. It was crazy to watch my body change daily. When it was competition day I was nervous and anxious knowing I only gave this 17 days. I am also very small and wasn't super lean. I had to disassociate myself with those thoughts because the worst thing I could do was let them see me sweat so to speak. J I needed to project confidence that I belonged there. I think I did a good job and definitely didn't look how I felt inside. The best part was my 60 second routine. I chose the music from the Leadville 100M mountain bike movie, "The Race Across The Sky". The song is, Electric Worry, by Clutch. Very fun. I had a blast with the routine. It was the perfect motivator of my next adventure which is the 2011 Leadwoman.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Javelina 100M!

I am still riding high from my best ever performance. It's almost hard to articulate. Beating my own expectations doesn't happen often but Javelina 100M was so much more than I could have imagined. Dreaming big and visualizing yourself doing extraordinary things is the cornerstone of completing a 100M race for sure. Racing a 100M is often the next step for many beyond just finishing. The word "racing" also has many meanings. It could mean winning, it could mean going for a PR or just simply putting your head down and focusing. That's what endurance activities have to offer. An array of meaning for each individual and most of the time that personal meaning is respected among peers. For me the term "racing" has taken on all forms. I have had the opportunity or should I say taken the opportunity to test the meaning of the word in several forms. My conclusion, racing 100M is a test of patience and perseverance. I am not equipped to line up to 100M and go for broke. Some may say I am selling myself short or not believing I can do more, be better or faster.

What I do know for sure is, "Mental confidence is what the mind thinks the body can do. Physical confidence is what the body itself knows it can do". Matt Fitzgerald

I know I can run 100M and how fast is simply of matter of my training. For Javelina I knew I needed to run, not hike at all. All the climbing and descending I generally do to prepare was over and now I needed to learn how to get my legs moving again. I needed gain back the physical confidence so my body knows it can RUN. I asked Howard Nippert for help. He coached me for 3 months exactly. Not much time. I got my first schedule and just about died. I had been used to training blocks that gave me the mental edge I felt I needed to be successful. However, I am a dutiful student. A rule

follower. At times I felt a bit slighted as if he didn't have the confidence in me to give me workouts worthy of my experience. I pushed those useless emotions aside. It is incredibly freeing to let go and do what your told. I felt like I gave him the data, he gave me a schedule, I paid for it, I would do it exactly and if it failed I knew who to blame. ha, ha.

What I gathered was he felt I knew how to run 100M and what I needed was to get my legs moving again.

My Race: This would be a very quick trip. Leave Portland on Friday and fly home on Sunday night. Since Bill and I put Alex's schedule first that meant Bill would not be able to come. Of all the 100M races I have done this would be the second one he has missed. Though we were bummed it was the right choice. I was in good hands. Micheal and Susan would be crew and pacers for both Carrie and I. We were well taken care of. Bill was in constant text mode with them both and I would get updates.....gotta love technology. The washing machine loop course at Javelina is unique. I don't know of any other races that take this approach. This could either drive you nuts or become a strength. I choose to not be drove nuts by a course I line up to run so I knew I could use this to help me along. I could draw energy from friends and co-runners all day long. I can tell you now this was a blast and super motivating. Seeing my co-runners work their way through the day was awesome.

Loops 1 and 2: My plan from the start was to take it easy and start moderately. The 15.4 mile loops are not super hard or technical but that just makes managing them more important. A death march on the final 2 loops would be miserable for me and I knew if I didn't head caution while feeling fresh the payment would be a long hard grind later. I forced walk breaks for both loops. I played silly games like timing the amount of time it took me to walk a hill. The most I got was 1 minute. That is seriously funny. A one minute climb! However, I am not silly enough to think this 1 minute climb wouldn't turn into 3-5 minute climb later. Needless to say, I got a good feel for the terrain and already decided which direction I liked better. It was a perfect cool morning and the day was shaping up nicely. The weather was not going to be real hot. Though for me I had moments of being overheated. I did a fair amount of heat training in the hot box which helped. My first lap was just a bit ahead of schedule. My pace chart was built for 22:36. My fastest 100M was Vermont 100M on 21:37. Though everyone gave me some crap about the sandbagger 22:36 I really felt that was appropriate for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't been on a course like this where there are "NO" obvious climbs and descents. The natural break for the muscle groups did not exist. Second, this was a dry hot heat. I am pretty good at managing the heat and the key word is "managing". Managing means paying attentions to my pace and fueling. I felt I would need that here. My second loop was barely on pace. I had a few moments of being hot. The sun would be covered by a thin cloud and when it would come back out my whole head would sweat like crazy. Kind of like a hot flash you get when your old....or my age....or pregnant. I had 2 hot flashes when I was pregnant and I can tell you it was intense. At one point I thought, "Man, AZ has the weirdest rain". I was running along and drips

were hitting me like a mild sprinkler. I looked up and saw thin clouds but far away. Then I realized the sprinkler was my head! I took more walk breaks on this second loop which cost me.

Loops 3 and 4: I have now run a 50K and not in any speedy fashion. I was okay with this. Each time I came in to head quarters (main area where Susan and Micheal were set up) I took my time. I made sure I sat and cooled off using cold wet towels, ate or drank whatever was on my plan and just took a moment. This is how I planned to manage myself early on. I wanted to remain calm, cool and collected channeling my performance at Vermont 100M. This is "racing" for me. Being a freak early has never paid dividends in a 100M race for me. I feel like after years of toying with idea of "racing" a 100M this is how I should do it. As I said earlier, I am not equipped to do it the other way. I have tried it and the outcome does not prove to be faster or better. Instead I think it makes me slower and ultimately pissed!

When I left for my 3rd loop I felt good, hot but good. My body was running pretty well. The best part was my fueling. It was absolutely perfect thus far. My third loop was just under schedule by 15+ minutes which was certainly a boost but still I was cautious. Now at mile 46.4 I felt in control but my legs were starting to talk to me. I got into HQ and cooled them off and got out. I was walking a bit more now and knew the rigor of all the running was making my hips and legs more sore than normal. I got to the 50 mile mark and glanced at my watch. It read 9:32. Not great for 50 miles but not bad either. When I arrived at the first aid station I took a moment to stretch. "Are you running 100M race or doing yoga"? That's the question I got from another runner. I replied, "I am sore already so I thought the stretch might help". He laughed and we headed out together. We talked and I confessed that my legs are getting very sore. He said, "Have you taken any Advil". I reply, "No, I generally don't do that but I might have to tonight". I was hesitant to even consider taking any Advil or anything and generally I don't do that anymore since 2004 when I started working with Scott who suggested I not do that for good reason and even better use the pain as fuel. :) We continued our conversation and he told me he was in the medical field and if I was hydrated and going slow I should take 2 Advil now and 2 Tylenol two hours later! WTF!!!

BIG CONFESSION! I took 2 Advil right then. I really questioned the move but since they were already in my gut I needed to drink. I felt really good and was plenty hydrated but now I was super vigilant. Three of us ran a bit further then all of the sudden I was feeling very good. I put on my music and began running. My love hate relationship with my Garmin 310XT had suddenly turned into a love affair. The accuracy was awesome in the vast desert. My paces were showing sub 9:30, then sub 8:30. The guys tried to hang on and as we turned the corner one said, "Obviously the Advil has kicked in". It did and I found a high. I like to call them moments of glory and when one comes in the second half of a long race I take it for all it's got. I ran and ran with what seemed like boundless energy. My legs felt amazing, my energy better than the first 3 loops. I found myself back at HQ faster than all but my first loop!

Laps 5 and 6: I came bounding in with the most amount of energy and excitement. I had covered 61.9 miles and was absolutely thrilled. Micheal picked up his pacing duty. I put my music on and flew! I continued to have this crazy amount of power. My fueling was spot on! I confessed to Micheal that I had become a drug addict and have popped 2 Advil earlier and I needed 2 Tylenol out my bag. He looked at me like I was drunk. I might not have been drunk but I was high. He questioned me and I barked back. "The guy said take 2 Tylenol"! He gave me the look but knew better than to withhold the Tylenol. I downed the pills and headed off. I felt zero guilt because I was too busy having the run of my life. We cooked on lap 5 clocking the exact time I ran on lap 4. Could this get any better? We arrive at HQ and I decided to drink some broth with crackers in it. I felt the additional salt would be good. I drank and ate it all. We leave and it takes me about 5-10 minutes to get it all digested before I could really kick it in. Micheal had gotten used to my singing and since I only do that when I am on fire the silence concerned him. I assured him the concert would resume as soon as this all digested. Sure enough I was back in action. When was this moment of glory going to end? I was nervous. I began to wonder if and when it ended if I would be crippled and destroyed. It never came. My Garmin was still giving me some serious paces for 75+ miles on my drugged up legs. It was hard to tell who I was passing or who was passing me. I really didn't care but when I came in to HQ on the final long lap I saw a group of girls fighting for their lives. I knew they were in front of me because when they were focused and working hard.

Victory Lap: Carrie called this final short 9 mile loop the victory lap. For me, on this day at this race I felt like I won. I won the question I wanted answered. Are you only a good mountain runner? Today I am proving to myself I am a good

runner, not hiker, not hogger (hiker/jogger...Susan's phrase for the combo) but a runner. I was beginning to feel the race on my body. I know it's mile 92.8. I should feel it and I loved it. We made our way to the aid station to take the turn onto the best piece of trail. A new trail. One that cuts right down the middle for 2.8 glorious downhill. I flew on this. Out of pure happiness. My left leg tried to buckle a couple of times but not enough to bring me down fully. I think I skidded once onto my hands but got right back up. I had just past the 3rd place gal and wanted to keep it but more importantly I wanted to reach the final turn. Not because I was almost done but because the final turn was at 100.3 miles and I wanted to know how fast I could run 100 miles and how close I was to even splits. I reached it at 19:53! My first 50 were 9:32 so that means I ran the second 50 in 10:21. Not bad. I crossed the finish line in 20:07 with pure joy and amazement.

Not one touch of nausea, not one low point and a PR. The aftermath was a swollen left dorsey flex point between my foot and ankle. That healed up within a couple of days. The funniest part? When I got home and unloaded all my stuff I looked at the Advil and Tylenol containers. When I held them in my hand they rolled over and I see the expiration date. The Advil expired in 10/05 and the Tylenol!!!!!!!!! expired on 04/03. Can that be possible? So, the question is? Do those things really expire or are they one hell of a placebo? Either way I don't care. I certainly am NOT saying anyone should take anything during a race ever! What a race, what a trip and I am still soooo happy to end the season like this.

What's next: 2.5 weeks to see how lean I can get. Maybe if I can shed a good layer I will throw on a posing suit and give bodybuilding a whirl. Mountain biking! I signed up for that 24 hour race in AZ in February and I need to learn to ride my bike with clips and use the gears!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making raisins

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to meet and run with one of Kris's long time friends. She is an ultra runner who once lived in Portland but moved to California. While we were all running she was telling us about this great but concerning adventure she had swimming with sharks. This adventure was deliberate. When we quizzed her about why she chose such an experience she educated us on her neurosis. She gave use the the definition of FOMO. A neurosis which means, "Fear Of Missing Out". I don't really suffer from a severe case of FOMO but when it comes to running I might need to seek treatment. My mild case of FOMO is what got me into the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run. My friend Susan and her friend Kristin were heading to CA to participate in the race. Susan was doing the double marathon as her final preparation for Kansas 100M. I didn't want to miss out on a great opportunity to run a flat easy 50M! Plus, the 80 degree temperature would be the perfect test run for heat.

I signed up 3 weeks before the race and didn't read any of the course description. What I did do was take Susan's pace chart and pin it to my shorts. She gave me a quick run down of what she thought the race was and I just sat back and went along for the ride. Now often times ignorance is bliss but I might have taken that one step to far on Saturday. When we arrived in Sacramento it was hot and the weather was predicted to get hotter over the weekend. Seems they have had a cool summer but some super hot days have crept in here and there. Looks like we hit the heat jackpot! The last time I ran in anything over 85 degrees was 3 years ago when I ran WS100M. In fact, I can't remember the last time I felt 85 degrees let alone run 52.4 miles in it. Immediately upon settling in we decide to shake the legs out. We head for the American River bike path which was just down the road from Kristin's brothers place. Susan and I are chatting and sweating having a great time. When we turned around we headed back on the wrong trail. We end up in some gated community where some lady walking her standard poodle crossed the road to avoid contact. All we wanted to do was ask her where the hell we were. We decide it would be best to retrace our steps and head back to the trail head. We again take a wrong turn and end up on some 2 track trail that came to an abrupt end. Now 1.5 hours into our 35 minute jog we decide to call Kristin and have here come get us. We had 2 obstacles. First, no phone and second we needed to hike up a steep hillside into someones back yard. To make things more interesting we were on the hill side with giant wild turkeys and deer. Have I ever mentioned I don't like large bird types? In addition to the wildlife we were wading through thigh high star thistle, scratch, scratch. Finally at the top we ask some nice woman in her car to use her phone. She was incredibly sweet and helpful. Kristin and her sister in law came an retrieved us. We were at least 2 miles out of our way. What a way to start the trip!

After stewing all night about how I would handle the 98 degree revised forecast it was time to go. I had my normal elaborate plan on how to go light, drop my pack, when to carry handhelds and so on. All that pretty much went out the window after I started draining my 40 oz tanker in around 3 miles. The course was no where near the gravel road I thought it was on. We started out on single track and never left it. At about mile 10 I realized my elaborate plan was out the window and I was in for a day of survival. Even though I haven't been in this kind of exposed heat in years I have the memory of an elephant. Which at times is most annoying but this time it came in handy. I knew the only way I would survive this heat was to cool myself from the outside. Draining my 40oz tanker was simply not going to cut it. There was no way my body could process enough liquid to cool itself. First because the heat was too extreme and second because I have not even come close to training it to digest liquid that fast. The course was not easy. In fact, I found it to be moderately difficult. The footing was okay and the trail was wide enough but it twisted, turned and had rolling terrain. Folsom Lake is almost always in sight as you make your way up to Auburn Dam Overlook. However to reach Auburn Dam Overlook you need to climb the cardiac trail. On this day....that was a perfect description. It was steep and rocky and at this time of day it was cooking hot. My respiration was weakening fast. I knew this was a result of my body heating up. My goal at this point was to find any all water and dunk myself. I needed to cool my core temperature. My stomach was perfect and my body felt strong but none of that really matters if you can't breath. I knew I was getting dehydrated but I was putting in as much liquid as I could get my hands on. I was popping succeed like tick-taks! All of this was good but not enough for my Salmon trained Oregonian like state. Once we climbed Cardiac we were treated by the most beautiful canal I have seen. We ran along this lovely 3 foot deep flowing body of water for 2 miles. I took one look at that baby and didn't even consider it might be drinking water. I was fully submerged before you could say, "Last one in's a ????". It was immediate relief. Arriving at Auburn Dam Overlook (mile 22) I was in good spirits, cooled off and thinking I got this. Oh, I forgot to mention, on my way there I got to see my first blood puking. Not mine but another runner's. This was disturbing because it was really red and there was a lot of it. I hope they dropped. Once you leave mile 22 you descend

on an old road down into the canyon just to climb out the back side of Robie Point. That was really neat. Once at Robie Point I reminisced about WS100M and wondered if once I descend down to No Hand Bridge (the turn around and end of the single marathon) if my hike out will be slower than when I ran WS100M? It seriously could have been. No matter what it was awesome to be running there again. At No Hands they had the finish shoot for the marathon and believe it or not it wasn't even tempting. Though I felt slow, was so darn hot and I knew it was going to be long haul I was up for the challenge. This race had now turned into an opportunity to test my heat skills. :) So far, my fueling was good, my attitude was tolerable and my body was cooperating. I made the turn and pretended I was racing for the win at WS100M. It was good time to dream the big dream and loose myself. That worked for about 2 miles then the chills started and my respiration began to get super shallow. Time to get cooled down again. Heading back to the Overlook (mile 30) I knew I needed to sit and sponge off. I arrived and did just that. Got my supplies and headed for the lovely canal. I was literally salivating at the thought of the cool dip in the lovely running water. I knew I had 2 miles of running along the top so felt it was appropriate to submerge 2 times. Once at the start and once just before we leave and begin the descent down cardiac. The only thing sticking out of the water was the 4 inch oval of my face. I stayed in for 2 solid minutes each time. It was awesome. After my swims I headed down the cardiac trail arriving at the next aid station. Again I sat and sponged off. The next section was absolute hell! It was 8 miles long. I had 45 oz of liquid and drank a good bunch before I left. I knew I would run out. I felt pretty good but once again I began to heat up. This section was torture. We ran along Folsom Lake watching water skiers, boaters and swimmers all enjoying the cool water on this wicked hot day. However, the trail we were on is just far enough above the lake to make it dangerous to attempt a swim. Most of the time there was a good 20 foot drop off down to the lake after a 5 minute bushwhack. This is where I got pissed! So far my plan of cooling myself from the outside worked well. Now there was water, water everywhere and no way for me to access it. I was getting heat exhausted. Chills and delirium were setting in. I was walking downhill and just plain having a heat tantrum! Out of water and desperately sucking on my dry hose as if I kept wishing water would appear. I was about 5 miles in when I came to and power station. Wahooooo, this baby regulates some water flow which meant there was water. I staggered down to that water source and spent a long 5 minutes fully soaking up every bit of it's coolness. It was so awesome I may never forget it! Once out I was reborn. My body would begin to process and it was the only time I would soak. My respiration would return to normal and my system would begin to relax. I knew I had about 20 minutes of good running before my body would heat back up again. Lord knows when I could get back in so I ran hard searching for the aid station. I had been out of water long enough. Then the angels arrived. Volunteers were walking back with jugs of water knowing runners were dry. They gave me 20 oz to get another mile. I was so grateful. I drank it all before I arrived. All I had left was 11 miles to finish. I filled my tanker and headed out still taking advantage of any bit of water access. We had 5.8 miles to the next aid and I hiked down to Folsom Lake twice. My garmin said I detoured .4 miles each time. That sounds about right and it was worth every additional step. However on my last swim I lost my favorite sunglasses....uhgggg. I finally found the finish line in 11:28. The course is 52.4 miles and 6,920 feet of ascent. It's a great course. I loved the fact we were running to No Hands Bridge and back. The race staff and volunteers were great. They really took care of us out there. They were awesome and very encouraging.

I am pretty pleased with how my body and system held up. This was fairly extreme heat for me and I am thrilled I held up as well as I did. My legs were fine the next day. I really didn't get the opportunity to trash my physical self. I drank a ton of fluids the following 2 days but was still a raisin. I drank and drank. Today I am still not at my post race weight so either I had miraculous weight loss out there or I am still making up for water loss. It was a great training torture for Javelina! The moral of this story is if you suffer from FOMO you should seek help as you might find yourself in hot water!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is there a pill for speed?

I love the mountains and especially love the mountain 100M races. The one thing I don't like about them is the training can rob me of what little leg speed I have. On my last long run as I was making my way down Lief Ericson at a decent clip wondering if maybe one of the reasons I love the tough terrain of a mountain race is because it plays to my strength. I am good climber and always have been. Even as a kid dragging my ski's up the hill in marked off territory wasn't too much trouble. I am sure my low center of gravity helps. :) While I was thinking about how much I love the hill climbing I wondered if I loved it more because it was easier. Of course that didn't set well but I think it might be true. We humans are smart and gravitate to what comes easy. Running fast absolutely does not come easy to me. In order for me to gain one ounce of leg speed I have to work very hard consistently. When I get some I have to nurture it, continue to practice it and most of all I have to constantly force myself to go faster. I think I might be a bit on the lazy side when it comes to the speed side of running. I can easily justify walking. I can easily talk myself into moderation when it comes to the breathing hard piece. Hell, I hate gasping for air. I feel like my legs are screaming at me, "Slow down you fool this is not comfortable". However much I enjoy a good steady hill climb I love the idea of becoming faster.

Javelina is a flat course. I am going to have run there. I am going to have to run most of the race so all my training consists of running. Imagine that? An ultra runner who is going to be running. Of course I am running while training for the mountain 100M but the slow steady threshold hill climb is my favorite workout. In fact, when I had a threshold test done on hill and flat I had a higher threshold on the hill! That was a total reflection of my training. Though I am proud to have these large glutes I really really want to run fast! I am running fast right now and it is hard but I love conquering the weakness. I love the fact that I can't do it. It pisses me off! Currently I am consumed with speed. I am in constant contact with my fast twitch muscles...all 6 of them. I certainly don't want to give the impression that I am fast because it's all relative. What I am doing to chasing everyone I can find around forest park. I've got routes, paces, loops and numbers assigned to all of them. I am going to be faster. I am going to become one with the awful loud hard breathing that comes from running fast. All 6 of my fast twitch muscles are going to need to "man up" and carry the load. There will be no talking on any of my fast runs. I refuse to allow myself to be social during this time. I will be smiling and I will be happy watching my legs spin like crazy but I won't be discussing it. I will be listening if I can hear anything over the loud obnoxious breathing. Don't be alarmed just pretend it's exercise induced asthma. I need to get fast quickly. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Routine, goals, changes.

Alex is off to his first day of High School. I would post a picture but he refused to allow us to take one. He was excited and nervous but mostly it was Bill and I who needed a hug. He's going to a small school and is involved in football so he knows lots of kids. This will make the transition easier. Bill took the morning off and we both drove him there expecting it to be a jittery event but he hopped out of the car and was off. For me this means routine is back in order. Summer was hard this year. Alex is just old enough to be more independent but I was having a really hard time letting him. With all his summer activities it made my routine fly out the window. I just rolled with it but now am craving the schedule.

I am only 6 short weeks out from Javelina 100M and the training has been going very well. My new coach is quite different than Scott. Change is good. However, letting go is a bit hard but it's exactly what I needed and am embracing it fully. Running is simple but how you put it all together to maximize time and energy is hard. For me the challenge is and most likely always will be not over doing. Once I put my money down I do what I am told. So far I have 2 hard runs a week and the rest are comfortable. During the summer I added spinning to my schedule and am doing that about 3 days a week as additional recovery. I try to keep it short. No more than 45 minutes per class. I am liking the additional strength in my medial quads. Cyclist's have rock-in legs so I put a pair on my vision board to inspire me. :) As part of my training for Javelina I signed up for a double marathon in CA. Susan and her friend are going down and I get to crash their party or add mischief to it. Susan is using it as final prep for her 100M in Kansas. The terrain is perfect for Javelina and the timing seemed right. I am excited to do something new. Which bring me to my next plan.

I have felt a bit stale lately. I really feel the need to see and experience some new stuff. For 2011 I have come up with a list of races I want to do. Many of them will be new. It's time for me to pick some races I have never done before. In 07 when I did the Grand Slam and finished the Leadville 100M I was immediately drawn to the Leadwoman. Bill remembers me talking non-stop about it for a month. I came home and in the Fall bought a mountain bike. Well it got dusty after I really hurt my knee riding. My refusal to learn how to use clips cost me plenty and my recovery was not fun. The following year I put in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race and didn't get in. I moved on. Well I've moved back. After being there this year for Micheal's race I got the itch again. And.....I found out (almost 90% sure) you can get into the MTB race if you sign up for the Leadman or Leadwoman event. I can't stop thinking about it so therefore I need to do it. If this entry policy is the case I am going to do it! Bill is all in. Alex.....only if don't make him climb another 14er, I am sure I will. This means I need to learn to ride my really nice full carbon mountain bike! I don't have a clue how to ride but I have friends in all the right places. Kris and her soon to be hubby are experts so I am lined up with a couple of events. Also, Susan's hubby Rich can give more info about how to ride a bike than I will ever need to know. Finishing the MTB in under 12 hours is a requirement. I think that's pretty stiff and will most certainly be my biggest hurdle. I am excited! The Leadwoman event starts with the Leadville Marathon on July 9th then 2 weeks later you can choose the 50 mile run or 50 mile MTB. 2 Weeks later you need to complete the 100M MTB race then the following day the 10K run. The finale is a week later when you run the Leadville 100M run. I better get those tires pumped up!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Like home made apple pie or monster trucks!

You know the feeling you get when at a moment everything feels super right? Like when you drive through the country and all the houses are perfectly manicured, swings sit on the porch and an old couple is holding hands as they watch the cars stroll by. Or maybe when you go into an old diner and you see the lady that seems to have worked there for 100 years is still wearing a full apron? I remember running Vermont 100M and my whole day was like a step back in time. It a super peaceful feeling. From the start of the race to then end. As we made our way through a countryside where at any moment George Washington complete with a wig could pop out of the woods and say hello, it was peaceful. For me small towns where people still wear cowboy hats, men still hunt and woman can things they grew in the garden is comfortable. I loved going to my grandmothers house as an adult. Since I spent most of my youth there taking in all I just described going back was settling. As a youth I couldn't wait to escape it, find my way, be different and vowed to not be so narrow. Not narrow in a bad sort of way because it certainly wasn't that. Though my roots are from a really small town and none of my family made it past high school they were pushing the limits constantly. Some of those limits should not have been pushed and re-direction would have been a good idea none the less they were solid in who they were. In this small town where seriously everyone knew everyone and everyone knew more about you than you wished there was no way to hide a damn thing. I pushed all my limits in this tiny town and has plenty of accomplices but we didn't get away with anything. Though I couldn't wait to get he hell out of dodge I can keenly sense when I feel at home.

At the Lululemon Ambassador Summit we spent 3 full days discovery how to push ourselves to dream the next dream. Where to go when it seems impossible. How to be authentic! How false humility doesn't serve anyone. How to project a positive Ego. I was exhausted taking in every detail. We went through an intense goal setting session. An area I thought I had down pat. I set goals. I am achiever so this will be cake. So I thought. I did find I am a great visionary. I could describe my 10 year vision with amazing detail down to the feel of the couch. What I didn't do well was my 1-3 vision. The immense blur that took over my brain was interesting. Give me a month to a year and I can do it but that in between area was a total loss for me. Bill and I talk about our future all the time. Me make plans and we get detailed. We can see ourselves in the future, where we want to live, how we want to live and basically what we'll eat. But, we are so busy dealing with day to day life we rarely think about 1-3 years from now. That made me think about my grandmother's house. Why? Because I want Alex to have that same feeling when he is an adult. I want him to WANT to come visit. To bring his wife and kids over to our house. I want him to feel a sense of belonging and authenticity from me and Bill. So far, I think we have done a good job of that but now it's time to really step it up. As Alex grows and change I want him to think of Bill and I as real. I mean the kind of people that don't just say stuff that sounds good. Since my 10 year vision includes Alex and his future family I better make sure the next 3 years I do the work to make it happen. One thing my crazy family did for right or wrong was show everyone who they were. Therefore I am not fake. Never have been good at being something or someone other than me. My friends say I have no poker face and they're right. For years I found this to be a weakness. If only I could slap that sticky smile on my face things would be so much easier. Though my lips are bent my eyes say it all. I have my up bringing to thank for this and I am learning this is so more of a gift than a curse. Being authentic and true is powerful. I am not in any way saying if I hate the color of your hair I need to say it. Or, if you ask me do I like the color of your hair I need to say it sucks. It just means I don't need to say, "I love it" and smile. Being authentic does not mean all the noise in my head that normally plays at every turn (you know what I mean) needs to come spewing out my mouth. What it does mean is I don't need to apologize for what I choose to do or how I choose to live. In my small town hardly anyone did that. They couldn't. I find in our world today where media is king and Sunday breakfast at the diner doesn't exist much the opportunity to be authentic is lost. The opportunity to touch people's life for real can be missed. The depth of our relationships can be a bit shallow. Lot's of time people are apologizing for their success so others feel better and are seemingly more acceptable to be around.

Going to my 25th class reunion was like taking a step back in time. Ironically it was 2 days after I got home from the Ambassador Summit so my mind was spinning. What I found was just what I left 25 years ago. A group of kids who are now full grown adults who are just like they were. Not that they haven't changed and grown but they are authentic. The group of kids who were dear and near to my youth are still just the same but older. I loved it. I was lucky to have such a life as a youth. However, if you would have asked me that at 16 I would have told you to pound sand...this sucks. Times were hard for my family and they had issues but they taught me to be real and that nothing is wrong with us. My friends were real. The best part is I haven't changed. My family is real and my friends are too. I now find comfort in knowing I have created an environment where being an authentic person is comforting. The peacefulness I found at my grandmother's house might not be coming from where I originally thought. Maybe it's a place where you can be you. Take it leave it. That is what I to give Alex.

Monday, August 2, 2010


(photo by: Glen Tachiyama)

I needed to rekindle my love affair with the trail. The relationship needed some serious attention because I have neglected it a bit. I loaded my IPOD with every love song I ever enjoyed. The playlist crossed decades of ballads. Some good, some cheesy and some so beautiful they can make you cry. White River 50M was my first ever mountain 50 mile race so a decade later I needed to go back and revive my relationship with trail.

I didn't have a plan. The only thing I did was print off an 11 hour pace chart so I could be sure I had enough fuel. My goal was to completely immerse myself in the trail and event. I wanted to feel and experience everything. I wanted to have moments of glory and not fight the lows. I needed to re-learn how to run a tough ultra. Sounds stupid but it is undoubtedly the truth. I have focused so much on gaining fitness and very little on how to manage that fitness. My fueling needed attention, my pain sensors needed understanding and I needed to reconnect to all that goes on in a tough long ultra event. I have a fit body but when it's not managed and nurtured it means nothing. I forgot how to deal with discomfort or lows. I have been muscling through them. That clearly does not work for me. With my confidence in the toilet I vowed to let all expectations go and rekindle a romance.

Race morning came and I was casual. I wasn't nervous or anxious. This would be my 6th running of WR50 and know the course. It's beautiful, tough and offers some of the best views of any 50 I have run. It's like home. Since it takes place in WA there are many familiar faces, friends and lots of support. We lined up and it was time to have fun. I ran comfortably to the first aid station where I turned on my IPOD. It was time to get settled and work on my relationship. I was incredibly ready for whatever came my way. Good and bad moments were welcomed. I was humbled and raw. No better day to start over. The first climb is long and there's lots passing. People are working hard. Lots of racing since it is the USATF Championships. All of us who were USATF had to were flags with our age on our butts so all the competitors knew who they

needed to beat. I wasn't here to push myself like that. Not this day. I pulled over many times during the first 13 mile climb. I met new friends, talked with old ones. I ran till I was breathing hard then backed off. I completely let go and used the terrain as my meter. Not my watch. I felt incredibly strong. I knew I was physically fit. I fueled diligently and timely. I managed my salts which has been a joke lately. By mile 14 I was beginning to see the leaders coming back. We shared the trail for a couple of miles which allowed me to see my friends. Micheal was looking very strong. Amy was coming up the hill comfortably. Gary was looking fresh after Tahoe 100M. Cheri was having a fine day. High fives were being exchanged. I got to appreciate one of the greatest things about this particular sport. That is, the really fast runners who are very talented share their enthusiasm for this adventure with everyone.

Scott Jurek will pause and give a high five while racing. What other sport offers such inspiration? When I got to Corral Pass (mile 16.9) I casually filled my tanker, emptied my garbage, opened my food choice, wished Allison the best day ever and left. I walked out eating. It was early but I was having a great day thus far. The descent into Buck Creek is made up of really sweet single track complete with technical switchbacks. I vowed to let gravity to be my guide, not fall and hopefully avoid any bee stings. I had my first moment of glory on this section. A time when you are running so fast you feel like you could fly. That feeling of pure bliss. A running high you want to last and last. A time where nothing else exists and you feel endless boundless energy. This is truly what brings many of us back to this sport. The question of, "Why do you do this"? For this! Those moments that are hard to explain but anyone who has had one knows exactly what I am talking about. When the story is shared the other persons eyes light up as if they are right there with you.

They can do that because they've been there and can't wait to go back. I live for these moments. I arrived at Buck Creek (mile 27.9) and glanced at my watch. I was running much better than I thought. Though I was pleased to see the time it meant very little except to remind me I do belong here. I am fit and strong. A feeling that has been missing for too long. I retrieved my drop bag, resupplied and headed off the second long climb to Suntop.

The day was beginning to heat up. The trail was warm on the way to Fawn Ridge. I walked and ran when I felt like it which wasn't much. I listened to my music and got engulfed in the deepest meaning of every song. I began to feel some tightness in my quads. My butt was a bit tired. This was one of the moments I was waiting for. This is where the meat is. This is where ultra running gets juicy. There are so many ways to handle pain. I wanted to learn to work with it again. Not avoid it and certainly not dull it with Advil. I needed to use it for fuel. I changed things up to alter the discomfort. I started running. Forcing myself to allow my heart rate to climb. When my lungs began to burn I kept going. The feeling of heaviness began to fade and my quads began to work with less stress. I was doing it. I was nurturing my body for endurance vs. battling it. There is a time and place for the battle but this was not one of them for me. I was fueling the fatigue. Gaining control of the all my efforts and working with it.

Leaving Fawn Ridge to finish the last 6 miles of the climb to Suntop I was on top of the world. Moment of glory number 2 had arrived! I felt like I had won the lottery. I was strong and had tons of energy. I was moving very well and running hard when the terrain would allow me. I had so much joy I was almost shaking. I was on cloud 9! The views were incredible on ridge and I wanted to pinch myself but feared I might wake up because seriously this was like a dream. Corny and sappy as it may sound that is truly how I felt. The climb to Suntop (mile 37) was over before I knew it. Nothing could kill my buzz. Not even the gal who heard me singing and told me not to quit my day job. I smiled and informed her I didn't have a day job. The day was coming to the final stage. I couldn't believe it. Here I was still strong and mentally untaxed.

I flew down the 7 mile gravel road. I felt my quads but loved it. They were working hard and earned the pain. At every twist of the road I would get a glimpse of the airstrip below. The final destination. We were so high above it. That sight in of itself was character building. The final 6+ miles of this journey gave me goose bumps. At Skookum Flats (Mile 43.6) I looked at my watch and figured I could break 10 hours if I gave it focus. My PR was 9:59 so I had a shot at a PR today. I almost chocked when I learned this. Of all the days to have a PR. Unbelievable! A race where I seriously spent every step searching for bliss and understanding. A day of reckoning, humility, honor, learning and feeling. Not a day a pushing. I got some water and left feeling like my relationship was mended. My appreciation for the difficulty of this sport was understood. My mind and body melded as it should in this kind of endeavor. My love for the trails and all the solace and clarity it offers was appreciated. With 6 miles left I felt I could kick it up and get that PR. I did, running 9:51. I crossed the finish line renewed and filled up. Not low and complicated. I felt like that 33 year old who stepped foot on this course 10 years ago and was blown away by

all this sport has to offer. How can 10 short hours bring so much clarity and pure joy? That's why we keep coming back and getting filled up time and time again. Topping off the day I got 8th overall, 2nd masters (Meggan won so it opened up a slot) and $250 smackers!

I woke up on Sunday still high from the feeling of simply feeling if that can make any sense. I am still humbled and hopefully will forever have the foresight to know I can't be down for long. But, I need to know I can be down and pick myself back up, dust myself off, learn a lesson or two and once again feel strong. I am incredibly grateful for the my day at White River! I am also incredibly grateful to all of you who read this blog and always have really great words of wisdom and advice.

Photo 1 by: Glen Tachiyama

Photo 3 & 4 by: John Wallace III

Photo 2 & 5 by: Eric Barnes

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Motivation through others!

Though I am truly un-funking myself I have not put pen to paper and lived with a schedule. A schedule is a comforting tool for me. I love the discipline and thrive in a rigid environment. So why haven't I gotten myself buckled down? I think I am just not quite motivated to do so...yet. I know I am just about to jump out of this though because I am getting very antsy and watching my friends kick butt is motivating me. Though a defined schedule does not exist I have been running and working out a lot. But, mostly I have had the pleasure of watching Micheal prepare for Leadville.

Micheal and I have been friends for years now. Our family's have come together and the support system is special. Micheal is a talented runner. Far more than he will admit. He is in this sport for the social and physical outlet. Not necessarily to PR at races. He is completely content to just hang with friends and go at their pace. This works perfectly for me. He's faster, stronger, more positive and always willing dredge along at my pace. However he is running Leadville in a few weeks and I have nothing on the books until October. I have pulled out of Wasatch because it falls on Alex's first week of High School and though I am sure he won't need me I need to be here. I don't want to be in Utah while he goes off to his first week of a big time in his life. Not because I think he is going to fall apart but I know I will. :) Wasatch is way to hard of race to line up feeling sad and guilty thinking I need to be at home so it will have to be shelved for now.

Since I am a free wheeling jogger right now Micheal has no anchor holding him back. He also is running Leadville where the air is thin and the trails/roads are fast. Being in
the best cardio shape is the way to go when you live at sea level and won't be acclimating. This means Micheal is having to do some speedwork. I don't know if I ever remember him doing speedwork. He is now and it is paying dividends. I have been on his hill repeat runs and can't believe his times. They are more than 5 minutes faster than my fastest ascent. That's 2+ minutes per mile straight uphill. It's awesome. I tried to join him on the last push of his Sunday run. With a screaming pace of 6:50's after running hill repeats on Saturday and meeting him at mile 17 of his Sunday run I had to cry uncle. I simply could not keep up.

We headed out to the Wilson River trail last weekend only to have him worry about me since it took me 20+ minutes longer to get back to the car. It's been a total blast watching him get so strong and fast. It's been frustrating and motivating as I desperately try to keep up. I have a feeling I will be dropped as pacer at Leadville and nothing will make me more happy. I already have ideas on how Lisa can pick me up and shuttle me further to catch him.

White River 50M is next Saturday. Micheal, Cheri and I are all heading up to run it. This will be my 5th time at WR and I am looking forward to a comfortable day on the trail. I am in no mood to push myself to achieve any PR or even a great finish. I am certainly fit enough but frankly just don't feel like throwing myself into a heads down, push hard mode. I am smart enough to know that I can't trick myself into racing WR. It's
too long and too hard. However, when I get home I start training for Javelina 100M. I signed up for the race once I made the final decision to pull the plug on Wasatch. It's been on my list but I have never been willing to give up a mountain run to do it. Since I won't have a late season mountain run this seemed like the perfect fit. Plus, I needed to do something. Poor Bill was walking around the house at 5 am with his IPAD trying to find me something to do. This idol ho hum Ronda is not cute! He says, "The problem is if your not busy and driving the rest of us suffer". Of course he is saying it with the sweetest tone.

Bill and friends are going around Rainier is 2 weeks! That will be really cool. Bill and Alex have been super busy touring around Europe and hiking the Alps. So for 2 weeks it was just me! I had full intentions of becoming very productive around the house. I have accomplished zip! Instead I have been hanging with friends, talking, sharing, eating, running, spinning and lifting. It was great and just what I needed.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I might just be emerging from post traumatic DNF syndrome. This has taken it's toll on me. I thought about whether or not to share this or whether or not to be honest. Since I have tried to keep it real here I guess this post should be no different. It's somewhat embarrassing to admit how I have felt the past couple of weeks. Post Bighorn I was so incredibly sick that all I got to do was lay around and be in my own head. That's not a good space after something like Bighorn. Though it's just another day I felt serious anger and sadness over the whole ordeal. Possibly due to fact that I couldn't do my normal behavior which is to march forward with new resolve because I was sick played a roll. I am not sure but one thing is for sure. I was down and out.

I was literally lost for motivation. Parts of me wanted to crawl in my bed and forget physical movement. All the while some part of me was getting really frustrated with that lazy part. The battle ensued for days. The mood changed from hour to hour. I was getting so baffled at which path I was going to take. I felt like my body was slamming into one wall then another. Feeling tired is normal after being sick and disappointed. Generally the waiting game is the only way to approach the situation. Just continue to march forward and eventually the blah feeling will diminish. You will get distracted and life will go on. You will emerge and the drive and motivation will be restored. However, it wasn't working for me. I found myself not acting anything like myself. That is disturbing! I know myself really well and I know how to move forward into the storm of pain both mental and physical, take the shots and come out of it stronger and more motivated. Not this time. I was beginning to wonder if I had a serious problem. Wondering if I was taking this DNF way to far? Wondering if I was using it as an excuse? Wondering if I will ever want to train again? Wondering if I will never WANT to train again then what? The biggest problem of all was the lack of control over my emotions and how to change my mind so to speak. The talks I had with myself about the endless pity party was getting mean. I simply could not shake this emotional low.

Then a moment of clarity came. I am sitting at the gym eating my lunch when a friend comes by sits down and asks me about Bighorn. I give the short version but when I said I didn't finish my face looked over and I lost it. It was the first time in the last three weeks that anyone said it's okay to be sad and disappointed. As a fellow endurance athlete it was as if he knew exactly the feeling of failure. Until then It's been chin up Ronda. Trying to be strong and muster it up and not let it bother me. It just running ya know. It's just a race. Get over it. Showing weakness is not a strong suit for me and I have barely shed a tear over of this but at that moment I busted out with full on sobs. Sad but true. Three weeks later the feeling of disappointment took on it's own life and I had no control but to just sit there and bawl like a baby to someone I barely know. The best part about it was the incredible release of pent up sadness gushed out. All my thoughts of sadness came spilling out and maybe that was the most freeing. The other part was feeling understood and not judged for being so sad. Not being told it's just a race or there will be other days. I think not acknowledging what a DNF at Bighorn meant was a mistake. I put a lot time and energy into this race and should have allowed myself to be sad and disappointed. Instead I tried to do my normal thing. Just move on and do better. That is exactly what I need to do but I was stuck! No one really cares about such things. In the big scheme of life they are nothing but for three weeks it's been something. I finally think I might be emerging and after my emotional outburst I went running and my IPOD cued up Ryan Stars, "It's a brand new day". I smiled as the chorus sung"
Send me a sign
Turn back the clock
Give me some time
I need to break out
And make a new name
Let's open our eyes
To the brand new day
It's a brand new day