Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Waldo 105K

Forest fires caused a last minute course change for Waldo 100K.  The race is already tough enough with 10K of climb all on single track at just enough elevation to make a flatlander tug.  Just before we left our house I get an email, "Waldo is on".  A new course was approved by the forest service but would increase the mileage to over 66.  I have run Waldo 3 other times back in the early days when the course was long.  I was sort of looking forward to the shorter version.  It didn't really matter though.  I wasn't properly trained for either. 

In a last minute ditch to remind my body how run I turned my High Cascades 100 MTB/ PCT 50M week into a 100 miles of running in 6 days and 4 hours of mountain biking.  15 days, 130 miles of MTBing and 100 miles of running.  Not at all smart and a bit reckless.  Cramming!  I came away tired but not hurt or  sore.  Waldo 100K is not the kind of course you show up HOPING you can run it.  You actually have to train and spend time training your legs. 

 It's never good to start an ultra with a bad attitude.  It will most certainly get worse as the miles tick on or until it gets beat it out of you.  I think that sums up my day.  I started the race wondering how long this baby was going to take me and just how much it was going to beat me into the ground.  I finished with more appreciation of what my body will do for me. I came away with a deeper understanding that I, at times, need to be beaten down and rebuild myself mentally. There's no better way to do that then run a grueling ultra where you are stripped of all your walls and have nowhere to hide. I also learned that I refuse to be unhappy.  If I am unhappy then I am going to spend as much time as necessary to change it. If that means I need to dig and dig until I bleed then I am going to do just that. I am going to find out how, what, and why my mood is bleak.  I need to be authentically happy.  This isn't really a race report of how I endured a day or how tough I may be for gutting it out.  It's really more of a story about why I continued and the mental battles I and I'm sure many endurance athletes go through when things are going south. I am not tougher than any other runner I was just willing, on that day, to strip myself down enough physically to get a deeper glimpse of who I am.
For about 25 miles this was my theme song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROtBbOcdFxo
The temperatures in Oregon have been blistering (for us).  I was prepared for a day of baking sun but instead we woke to cloud cover and perfect temperatures.  The immediate climb out of the ski area is straight up.  General hiking ensured and lots of fine dust kicked up. After about 10 miles I knew my legs were empty.  They lacked any vigor. I wasn't surprised and shouldn't be shocked but that didn't seem to ease my frustration.  Great! I get to spend 56 miles dissecting myself worth...fabulous!  The course continued on with its first relentless climb while bits of rain began to drop.  I would have never guessed we would get rain? It was warm and the sprinkle felt good. It turned the trail into a perfect tacky mix. Once I climbed Mt. Fuji and descended back into the aid station I see the sweeps coming up the trail. Clem was covered with markings.  That was a brutally crushing sight.  I was near the back of the regular start  and the sweeps were not more than 2 miles back.  I began to take stock and check in.  I was already slightly sore at mile 15! My demeanor was lack luster.  Things were just not clicking. I felt dehydrated and probably was.  I began to put down as much water as I could coming into mile 20 where I would see Bill and Chris. I drank extra before leaving the aid station.  I left with the intent to find some peace with day.  My body was tired and my mind wasn't  able to rally another gear.  Why?  What was my biggest issue? Was it fatigue, lack of motivation to see it through, my ego or all of the above?  I tried to get positive and cut myself some slack.  Trying to give myself credit for what I have accomplished this year. The interesting part about this method is by the time I reached Charlton Lake, mile 30, I had decided I had done enough this year and traveling another 36 miles on this tired body was not necessary.  I came in and called it a day.  Bill just looked at me, speechless.  I told him I had nothing!  I was spent, my legs were wood and I was dehydrated.  Chris just stood there with a puzzled look on her face.  I noticed and I felt crushed.  I hadn't found a bit of peace so I guess I'm not done.

I put on my sunglasses, took my 2 water bottles and told Bill I would try to pull myself together, get re-hydrated and would see him again in 5.5 miles.  I left with tears running down my face.  I wasn't really crying but water was coming out of my eyes. They were silent tears. When you've done over 100 ultras you know what's in store.  There's nothing you can do to re-boot over cooked legs.  The only thing I could do was DECIDE to finish.  So I released my body and focused on my attitude. I didn't want to have to go here.  It's not an easy place to be sometimes.  So it began.  The questions of who you are, why you do this, should you do this, what are made of and most importantly who do you want to be.  Good Lord, I answered those questions 100 times and got different answers depending on the moment. Who's going to win the battle? The crazy journey of a beaten down endurance athlete.  Therapy on the go. Once you leave the aid station you can't just end your session and walk out. You have to make it to the next aid station.  All the while beating yourself up, building yourself up and pressing on.

The miles ticked away slowly and just before the aid station I see Bill walking down the trail.  I knew he would do that. I saw the worried look on his face when I left Charlton.  I also knew he was mostly worried I was going to quit, regret it and he has to live with me. When you're married for almost 20 years you don't even need words you just need expressions.  I saw his sweet mind grinding away as he walked me out of Charlton.  He sees me and  says, "Someone came all the way out here to see you so be sure you give him a hug".  I go to hug him and he laughs, "Not me, there's someone at the aid station".  I'm thinking... did he have Alex helicoptered in to ensure I don't bail? It might be a cost effective solution in his mind.  I arrive to see Don, (our new Bend neighbor) volunteering at the Road 4209. Hilarious!  I come up and he says, "Rooster, make the neighborhood proud".  I bow my head in my own mind, grab my stuff and again leave with hidden tears.  Still on a quest to live without regret.  Will I regret not completing this? Trying to talk myself into being okay with sadness and a bad day.  Every darn time I would get myself convinced that bad days happen and it's okay to quit I would relent.  This was my first insight that this is the game I must play with myself whether I want to or not. I am simply not okay with a bad day.  There must be a bright side and I must find it.

Things begin to look up.  I think it was a combination of few things.  I had gotten myself re-hydrated and the people around me gave me so much support how could I ignore it. I was almost done with my personal therapy. I just needed a few more miles.  My next stop was Twins 2, mile 42.  I knew the section from Road 4209 to Twins 2 was long and generally hard for me. Today it wasn't so bad!  Better than other times I've run the race.  Hey, there's a bright side. I marched along feeling more in control of my mind.  Maybe because I am closing in, getting it done and overall feeling like I can't turn back. Almost if there is no other choice.  Maybe I just ran out of reasons to be mad at myself.  After all,  the body I brought to this race was exactly the body I should have brought.  I made the racing schedule. Or.... maybe I had simply bled myself dry.  There was nothing left of me to beat up. Better yet I had determined that I need more than a bad day to quit.  It was time to rebuild.  You know when this time comes.  It's not only a mental but a physical shift.  Since there's such a correlation it's a double win. You can feel the resurrection with every mile. 

I arrived at Twins 2 and Tia's generous smile and warm welcome made me feel good.  I left there with tears but this time they were different.  Instead of being somber that were thankful tears filled with some strength.  I made my way down the twins trail to crew at the road.  I get to pick up my friend and pacer Chris here.  I was really looking forward to it.  At mile 35 Bill told me she was ready to run with me but declined at that time.  I wasn't ready to give up on my punishing ways then.  I still needed to work through this anger, disappointment and frankly just indulge this plain old pity party.  I needed more miles to get the monkey off my back.  By mile 44 I was done!  I had come full circle.
We left down the road and I was really happy to have someone.  Chris had some great observations.   I got to share my journey with her and she shared her observations.  It was fun and filling. Not often are we broken down enough to let all the guards, fears and judgments be seen. In these kinds of scary raw moments when others can see you at your worst are times of depth. Even better... when YOU see yourself at your worst! I am sort of sucker for these kinds of opportunities. It's where real foundation is built.  The kind that lasts. I am guarded, planned and thick skinned.  At mile 30 when it was really clear I had no body to work with I knew in order to finish I would have to dig deeper than usual mentally to finish.  That was not something I wanted to do because I know how I go about it.  It's a mental blood bath of exposing all my tucked away weakness, bringing up all my flaws and making me ponder my worthiness.  It's like a bad reality show where you're the star.  In the end it can become a priceless journey I can draw from.  But, you have to endure the process and have to have the guts to even take it on.

The climb up to Maiden Peak was hard but less hard now.  Thunder boomers and lightening greeted us at the top of the peak.  By this time my legs were jello and I was rebuilt from the inside out. It became fun.  It had become a valuable finish.  Are you ever happy you chose to finish the day after?  Not really.  It's easy to sit here today and roll my eyes at post.  But, when you're deep in, it's rough.  The daily guards come back, the general, "what's the big deal it's just a run" enter your head.  When it's in your face at that moment it's a big deal.  I want to recognize it and not brush it off today. I spent 15:29 minutes pushing myself so hard physically but even harder mentally.  I owe it to myself to make sure it meant something.  I also asked others to help me and I owe it to them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Silver Rush 50M

Both the 50M run and the 50M MTB were held this last weekend. The bike on Sat. and the run on Sun. We had big Oregon crew participating. Micheal and Drake did the Silver King which is a distinction given to those who do both the MTB and the Run. Bill did the MTB, Darin and I did the run. Todd chose the MTB as his second Leadman event. It was an action packed weekend and so much fun. The gruelling course does not dissappoint. 7,500 feet of ascent. All above 10,000 feet and we reach 12,000 three times. The footing for the most part was pretty good. Some rocky sections but I would say overall not a super technical course. That didn't prevent me from slamming my foot into a rock and stubbing my big toe so hard the nail lifted. That hurt!

Darin, Alex and I crewed the MTB ride. That was so fun to watch! Todd was so speedy I only got one picture of him and we never saw him again. The whole scene was really eye opening and inspiring. Action packed! They had 750 riders and of those just a handful of woman. The final female count was less than 30! Come on ladies we need to get in the game. This is very tough MTB course and anyone who lines up has my admiration. All our guys did amazing finishing well under the cutoff and not an open wound in sight or a bandaid needed! Bill had so much fun out there and once again he amazes me. I think this might be the 3rd time he has rode his bike and not only did he finish with lots of time to spare he had a total blast. He can't stop talking about it. Even more impressive is Drake and Micheal's Silver King accomplishment. 2 full days on that course and they posted impressive times.

As for my run, well, I am thrilled. I finished 14th out of 74 woman and 4th masters. Best of all first Leadwoman. I had 2 goals for this race. First, get my quads worked and second go for negative splits. I got a lot of strange looks because I chose the run instead of the MTB for my Leadwoman event. You get a choice with of which Silver Rush event. My strategy has been to train hard on the bike and use this 50M run as a another training race for my legs. Though I am not worried about Leadville 100M run I will never ever take a 100M run for granted. Plus, I have never run a 100M race 6 days after a 100M MTB race. I suspect I will not get the big buckle on the run this time. My legs were darn tired going in to this race. The fatigue I feel from hard long rides is much different from running. I have a strong sense of my well being with regards to ultra training. The sore muscles, tight quads, some swelling from muscle damage and overall fatigue are all too familiar. The bike skips many of these. I get tight but in different spots. I am not sore and generally not too fatigued. But, what I am learning is there is a deeper fatigue that is a hidden and unfamilar. When I put my body to the test it becomes forefront and cumbersome. After finishing the LMTB training camp where I rode 125 miles I felt remarkably fine. I ran the two days then Todd and I did a 40 mile ride on Wednesday. I was completely beat on that ride. The hidden fatigue was no longer in the shadows! I rested as much as I could before Sunday. Trying to get as much repair as possible before Silver Rush 50M.

After the action packed day crewing I was ready to get out there. Almost craving the crazy ultra vide I knew would be present in this kind of tough course. I was ready to see what this body could do. With my all too conservative start filled with lots of good conversation at mile 8 I decided it was time to focus. Give this race some effort and make my body respond. Immediately I was bummed at how much the altitude seem to bother me. It was frustrating to have so much trouble breathing. I had to let it go because I was starting to get pissed. That certainly does not help the respiration! I can't tell if I was breathing so hard because I working hard or if it was the altitude. It really doesn't matter because I had to work with what I had. For the first 25 miles Micheal, Drake, Darin and I were all leap frogging and running fairly close together. That was fun. The views on the back side of Bald Mountain are incredible and pictures will not do it justice. At the turn I tried to kick it up a notch. Trying to reach goal number 2, negative splits. Goal number 1 was well in the bank. My quads were already thrashed. Honestly I can't remember them hurting this bad this early in an event. It's been a long time. I welcomed it. This is money. I will reap the benefits of this in the 100M run. I am certain of it! It gave me opportunity to deal with pain. To understand it and deal with it for a good long time. I knew on the way home I had about 9 miles of down hill. Not all of it but most the final 9 are down. With my quads already quivering I was curious to see how I could hold onto this run.

Coming into the final aid station I actually felt pretty good but was riding a fine line. A line where my body and mind walked the tight rope. My brain would process the terrain but my body was just one synapse behind. My legs were absolutely fried. They even looked the part, mushy and flat. The muscle damage had already set in and water was filling the gaps. With about 5 miles to go I stumble and my left leg just popped out of my hip socket. I walked and shook it hoping it would go back in the right spot. I got some mild relief but this certainly didn't feel good. Oh well, just another day in an ultra....right. The remainder of the run seemed to go on forever. The heat seemed over the top too. I gimped in under 10 hours. Overall thrilled but this might be some of the worst final 5 miles I have run in a very long time. Another good experience and reminder. This stuff is not easy but I guess that's why I keep coming back.

The biggest lesson I got this weekend was how much recovery I need between the 100M MTB ride and the 100M run. I have 6 days between those events. 6 days to repair my body for what I know will not be a walk in the park :)

This way or that?

Mt Hood 50M Finish!
Since my San Diego 100M run followed by Test of Endurance50M MTB I've been busy participating.  Instead of racing I'm participating.  I knew stacking my summer with so many events  would not allow me to focus and train with any consistency.  Instead just like the GrandSlam of Ultra Running and Leadwoman the focus would be on recovery.  I am thrilled with how my body and mind are holding up.  I'm having a total blast pushing my limits in both running and MTBing.  Everything seems to be going much better than I could have imagined.  The next big challenge would be the High Cascades 100M MTB race followed by Mt. Hood 50M run.

Picketts Charge
The weekend after TOE 50M I rode Pickett's Charge MTB race. A 25 mile single track event in Central Oregon.  This was my first exposure to some of the trails in High Cascades100M.  I was really beat going into the race.  Since I also signed up for Monday night Short Track Racing and Tuesday night Trail Series runs I was simply spent.  Too much!  However, I rallied and was glad I did.  It was a great event and the trail system was incredible! I was challenged not only physically but mentally too.  The twisty lava filled single track was different and took some focus.  As a novice MTBer I was nervous most of the race.  Although, I got better and better as the day progressed being faster on my second loop! Now I had a minor glimpse of what was coming in 4 very short weeks!
Short Track Racing
I had no training plan but rather a "do what I can in between races" approach.  I didn't rest much after Picketts since Short track was Monday night and the Trail Series Race followed on Tuesday.  Both these venues push my anaerobic threshold to its limit.  I am nearly at max for 30 minutes on both these days.  It's great training for a slugger.  For the MTB I get massive skill building plus it's a serious "race" environment which is good for me.  On Tuesday I get to "race" on the trails for a short, fast and intense 45-60 minutes.  Again, something I never do so the benefits are numerous.  Not to mention both are so much fun I can't stay away!
Just one of the views!

High Cascades 100 start
With High Cascades my focus I tried to ride the course as much as I could.  Bill and I rode parts of the course 2 other times.  All together I got see about 60 miles of the course.  The final route was not posted and was not yet final.  The snow levels around Mt. Bachelor were still in question  almost up to race day.    The 60 miles we did ride was enough for me to wonder how the hell I was going to get this done under the cutoff.  I thought Leadville was challenging but I was in for a new kind of challenge. Leadville has so many riders it makes riding your own race almost impossible unless you're in the front. Oh, and you can't breathe there.  The course is not that challenging.  High Cascades 100M has 12,000 feet of climbing and more than 80 miles of single track.  It's not a straight single track either!  I was looking forward to the experience and the adrenaline filled day.  It felt like the difference between Javelina 100M and Wasatch 100M.  High Cascades is a course of survival which is right up my alley.  Could I make the 14 hour cutoff, emerge with all my body parts and not too much Lava rash? 
I was working hard at mile 80

I finished in 12:42 and had the time of my life! I gained skills and more respect for myself and MTBer.  I am a better rider than I give myself credit for finishing 3rd in my division.  I rode stuff I wouldn't have considered attempting 3 short months ago.  I've gained a tremendous amount of power on the bike.  The raw strength it takes to muscle up and over things.  I have been working on that type of "force" and it has paid.  Unlike Leadville 100 MTB the people were gracious and encouraging.  I didn't feel  that at Leadville until I got past mile 70 and I was with folks more my speed.  High Cascades 100M MTB race is a gem and as soon as riders become aware of this race it will fill fast.  The views and terrain are breathtaking. I need a do again! 

Portland Trail Series Races
I had a great race with no complaints and no mechanicals but my hamstrings were fried.  My goal for the next 5 days was to nurse them back to health so I could run the MT Hood 50M run.  After Monday night short track I rested, went to Bikram and did one small run just to remind myself how to run.  For Mt Hood 50M my expectations were so low. I really wanted it to be a good training run for Waldo.  Since SD100M run I've only done one 24 mile Gorge run which was my highest mile run week at 65.  All the rest were in the 20's or mid 30's.  Not nearly enough.  I was wondering how much character building I would be doing out there? How slow and how much pain I would have to endure.  To my surprise I had a great day.  I was so strong physically. I didn't have much speed and striding out was not easy with no hamstrings.  They were just short and not really part of the action.  They weren't painful though, very curious.  My quads felt great which I still can't believe.  I took it really easy chatting with the Smith's (Pam and Mac) for the first 10 miles. It was great to hear about Pam's WS100M run and how well she recovered.  I got passed and was seriously near the back of the pack for the first 20 miles.  Then I began to catch folks.  I finished in 10:14 which is better than I expected.  The biggest icing on the cake?? I am not too sore! I have some interesting tight spots.  I think it might be confused muscle tissue.  Tissue that's not sure why it's not going in circles and why it's hitting the ground all the time?  Anyway, on to the next adventure Waldo 100K.  This is the final week of Short Track Racing and Portland Trail Series Racing so I guess I will have to do my own speed work.  I also bought a boat!  Yes, I am going to paddle.  I have no idea how to paddle and am not a huge water fan but I like nice shoulders so what the heck?  Plus, Bend has tons of places to paddle.  I can wheel my boat across the street from our house, drop it in and paddle upstream for miles, turn and come back.  It's not deep so I won't drown either.

So far this summer has been incredibly fun and fulfilling! It's not over yet and I can't I still have some new interesting races on the books.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Test Of Endurance 50M

For someone who loves to over think things I sure seem to be NOT thinking lately. I recovered well from SD100M.  That's seems to be standard for me as of late.  My ankle is officially healed and I might stop taping it! Clearly I am not pushing myself to my limits in many of my races. I don't know why I can't line up to things with more confidence but I guess that will be something I can work on.

I signed up for the TOE 50M MTB race about 2 months ago.  I just assumed I was doing it until I looked at the date.  I paused but only briefly before I signed the paperwork committing myself to this beast just 6 days after SD100M. This race has 8,500 feet of climbing.  It's no picnic for the best of MTBers.  As a total beginner with the only real thing going for me is my staying power it tested me but good.

The weather was better than perfect, 80-85 degrees on Saturday.  We don't see that much around here.  I wasn't at all worried about the heat. I have proven I can sustain in those temperatures thanks again to Bikram  and a nod to SD100M.  Though I had little to no post 100M swelling and my energy returned quick I knew the deep quad fatigue would show up. The question was how soon and would I need to dismount?  Either way I was excited to spend the day in the mountains with Kristin who was doing her second ever MTB race.  

The field was good sized but not huge which was nice.  The course begins to climb right off the bat so the riders can get nice and spread out.  At MTB races you don't just line up.  They try and call the faster riders up front and seed the crowd.  It wasn't a formal seeding like Leadville but everyone knows where they should be and respects it. They need to keep the riders from crashing into each other in a desperate attempt to pass.  I got in the back where I belong and made my way up the first climb.  I felt pretty good but immediately started sweating buckets. Unlike running the cooling effect of climbing on a bike is not worth discussing.  You just drip sweat.  After 8 miles of climbing we his the first single track.  I glance back and see about 4 men behind me.  I let them go first knowing I need to get my bike under me and they will be on my wheel before I know it if I go first. Of course I felt like a bumbling fool on the first single track descent.  Here at TOE 50M the descents are pretty steep, sometimes hairy, a bit muddy and rocks and roots are like ice.  I wobbled, steadied and tried my best to relax.  Ya, right, relax....that sort of oxymoron for a control freak.  One thing the MTB is teaching me is trust.  I need to trust the bike and more importantly trust myself to use the bike.

At TOE we do 2 loops.  We don't go all the way back to the start but get 2 chances at the same stuff.  I was looking forward to that.  Knowing I would be better the second time around.  I would have more confidence and could take more risks.  The climbing is relentless.  It seems we never go down hill.  Though we obviously do.  A long 3-4 mile climb is descended on single track in less than 1.5 miles.  So it's fast and over before your heart rate fully recovers from the climb.  In addition, you don't just sit back and relax.  You are out the saddle using your legs to steady the tail and using all your body to maneuver the bike.  I felt pretty good for about 20 miles.  That's about the time the deep leg fatigue let me know I wasn't recovered.  I didn't expect to have even 20 miles of bliss so emotionally I was in tact.  The field was thinning.  I found my groove along with about 5 men and 1 woman.  Woman are not in abundance in the MTB races.  Ultras have far more woman.  Though the numbers are different there is a huge similarity in camaraderie.  MTBer's take care of each other.  It is not uncommon to see a sidelined MTB and rider with 1 or 2 people helping them get it fixed and back in action. If someone falls riders stop and make sure their okay.  They help each other and provide a lot of encouragement.

By the time I came to the 25 mile aid station I was pleased to have the possibility of a PR.  My skills have improved so much I can't even measure! I was slower on some the climbs but made it up in finesse. I at least TRIED to ride everything and was fairly successful compared to last year. I was off my bike about 3 times.  At the aid station the volunteers are swarming around helping riders.  They asked me if I needed any repairs and the only thing that was an issue were my cleats.  They were caked in mud and I was having a tough time clipping in and out.  They fixed that right up but then the mechanic sees my front tire is loose. Whoa...that would not have been good.  He fixes it and sets me on my way.

Half the race is behind me and I get to try out all those trails for the second time. I was excited about that.  I was not excited about the climbing.  I was pretty spent and on the steep cracking sections I struggled but vowed to stay on the pedals and not dismount! The thing about the bike is you can not let up!  There's no coasting or bringing it down a notch.  You have to have enough power to turn the crank so the bike with move!  Seems simple enough but at times it was really hard.  My heart rate would just scream.  It's all power and runners are not known for their power generation.   Me and my 5 companions traded positions time and time again. They would dust me on the descents and I would roll up behind them on the climbs.  That gave me a bit of a boost.  They complained or should I say we all moaned about the relentless butt busting climbs. However, I just ran 100M (which I kept to myself) so I felt pretty pleased to be able to pass them.  This jockeying went on the whole final 25 miles.  One of the riders was a crazy freak on the descents but he would dismount and walk up at times.  He was sick of seeing me.  On yet another passing he says, "Man you  are relentless".  He has no idea but pegged me well.  I told him I would see him on the final trail descent.

By the time my Garmin registered 45 miles I was on the hunt for the finish.  I had nothing!  My body was fried and if we had to climb another hill for more than 2 minutes I think I would have died.  The final stretch home was 3 good miles of gravel road mostly downhill.  We set in as a group and tried to draft.  Of course I was being left behind.  I got out of my saddle and cracked hard catching up and finishing just before my buddies.  It was a good day on the bike.  I got a 9 min PR but I would say that is all due to finesse.

Kristin destroyed her second ever MTB race.  It was thrilling to hear about her day.  She lead the woman's race for about 30 miles.  Amazing!  We drove home and recounted the day. Swapping dramatic MTB stories. Kristin has a good sized goose egg on her hip from a crash but she takes risks and is a great rider.  I have a pedal bruise on my leg and took 2 falls but nothing to talk about.  I wasn't going fast enough to launch myself.  All in all I'm glad I didn't think to hard and miss out.  I have recovered really quick from this and rode my best ever short track race on Monday.

The Trail Series Running Race tonight! Starting to pick up some running again.  After Prickett's Charge MTB race this weekend I have 3 weeks of solid training to get ready for High Cascades 100M MTB then follow that up with PCT 50M run.  I am interested to see how that back to back goes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

San Diego 100M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 4, 2012

I get what I deserve!

SD100M is in 6 days! Somehow that came fast. I don't feel ready what's so ever. In fact, this feels like the least ready I've been to line up to 100 race is a long time. I got in some amazing runs leading into Mac Forest 50K but the aftermath hasn't been great. This is the first week I am not blowing or coughing fluids since that nasty virus turned sinus infection thing.  That was awful.  My ankle had 2 tears, one bad one and one minor one on the top of my foot. I can now see all the bones and veins in my feet so the swelling is gone. It's not super weak but I will need to tape if SD for sure. I have been taping it for every workout including ones on the bike. I can't seem to teach myself to clip out FIRST on my left foot.  I am lucky to get out of those clips in time anyway!

My running volume has been low the last 3-4 weeks.  Much lower than I would have liked. SD100M will happen but grabbing the sub 24 hour buckle and continuing my long streak of big buckle collecting might come to an end. If I can't get it...well, I deserve it. I stacked my year so tight with running and MTB races I can't expect to lay down great consistent training. I am not at all disappointed though. I have spent a bulk of my running years sticking to strict well thought out plans and loved it. This year I have sort of let go of that because I am having so much damn fun! I love chasing the clock and seeing how well I can do so I will come back to that. For now, I am enjoying mixing things up and trying some new events.

Even though I have sort of been laid up I haven't been idle.  I've been doing what I can with regards to runs and  killing myself on the MTB.  Trying to do good threshold work on the bike building more power since I lack there. With the exception of one decent Gorge run I have been forced onto roads or Lief since the ankle injury.  I knew I couldn't risk another good twist and would gain very little pushing more limits.  I have done some good solid efforts at the track. Trying to do my best as I coughed up crap and felt the massive tug in my system. Any of my other longer runs in this last bit were done on Lief, progression style.  Trying to make the most of it.  One of the runs was so horrible it really zapped my confidence. I just had to let things slide.  I am going to try to and draw on the great Gorge training I did before Mac Forest.  That will need to be my foundation for SD100M

On the MTB front I have done some awesome rides.  Lots of relentless hill climbing chasing my rabbit friend Kristin.  She is a great training partner! That girl can ride a MTB.  She took 2nd overall in Cat 2 at Sister's Stampede in her first MTB race, first in her age group. Bill, Alex, Ryan and I ventured to Sisters for the Stampede too.  Yes, Bill is back on the bike and this was his first ride.  He decided to take the short course not knowing how his shoulder would hold up.  It's still very sore and lacks a lot of strength and mobility.  We all tore it up and had a blast!  I got a 32 min. PR over last year and I was thrilled.  Moving up in the pack.  They have a 45+ div for men but not for woman.  If they had I would have done very well!

We leave on Friday for SD100M.  Micheal and Todd are crewing and pacing so I will have to muster up a good strong attitude!  The following weekend I am going to ride TOE 50M.  Not sure what I am thinking but what the heck. It will be a super fun time but I am not promising I won't finish last.  Short Track racing starts tonight and the Portland Trail Series races tomorrow night!  Lots of great fun stuff on the horizon but for now I need to run 100M. eek.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MacDonald Forest 50K

Last weekend was my 9th running of the Mac.  One of my favorite 50K events!  The only time I have missed the race is when I was running Miwok 100K.  This year I felt really good about my training and wanted to push the pace and see how fit I am as I head into the taper for SD100M.  Unfortunately Bill brought home some horrible crud.  Though I gave it my best attempt, even trying some Jedi mind tricks to ward off the bug it got me good.  I had antibiotics for the horrible sinus infection that took over my face but instead of admitting to myself I was sick I chose to ignore it. Secretly hoping I could out run it or better yet run it out of me. My immune system had none of it. On a NyQuil induced sleep the night before and a 4:45 wake up I felt really horrible on the drive to Corvallis.  However, the more time I spent upright the better things seemed. I was really looking forward to running and just forgetting about my head.

The weather has been great!  PNW sun...there's just nothing better I promise. Saturday was gorgeous!  After catching up with friends and getting settled I soon forgot that I felt like crap. The race started with it's general quick pace and I did my best to settle in. Soon a slight compromise in my breathing appeared but I kept a descent pace. At the top of the first climb I pulled over to re-tie my shoes. They felt loose and sloppy. I chose to wear some old Cascadia's which I planned to toss after Mac. They had really nothing left in them. There's only one reason I can come up with for making this decision.  I had a brand new pair sitting in a box and was saving them for SD100M.  Not sure that's a sound reason but that's what I'm going with. Soon after tightening the shoes I pulled over to loosen them again.  Carrie kept catching up and said, "what's the deal with your shoes".  I told her I have turned into Goldie Locks! My shoes are too tight, too loose, too stiff and just not right.  Laughing it off I moved on with loosened shoes.

As we began winding through MacDonald Forest in and out of trail  my head was just clogged. That's the best word I can use to describe it. My ears were plugged, my nose was plugged and all I had was my gaping mouth to move air. With that soon came the chills followed by body aches. I am officially sick!  My body is pissed at me and I am pissed at it! I decided to take some Tylenol hoping to gain some control. My equilibrium was just "off". Every time we wove back into the woods I had a hard time maneuvering and BAMM, I sprain my ankle.  It brought me to one knee and the guy behind my said, "I heard that, are you okay".  I said yes, and sat there adjusting my very loose shoes and checking out my foot. I got up, walked it off but knew it was more than a minor sprain.  I made my way out of that trail section and back onto the gravel road.  I did more assessing.  How much does this hurt, should I quit, can I run and so on?  I felt like I could run but wasn't sure how it would be in any kind of unstable ground.  The good news is this took my mind off being sick.  This happened somewhere between mile 11-13.  I spent the next 9 miles deciding if I should quit.  By now my head felt better and all the body aches were gone.  Now I was just stuck with current pending issue, my foot.  When I got to Dimple Hill at mile 17 I just coninued on to the next station. That's how it goes....run to the next aid station until you run out of aid stations.  My ankle seemed to hold up okay but my downhill running was rather pathetic. When I left mile 22 aid station and began the climb out my ankle did not like the dorsey flexing required to climb.

Coming into my final chance to call it a day the thought didn't even cross my mind. Nice work..... keep thinking you're going to quit, run to the next aid station until it's the last and then why would you quit?  So I finish my 9th Mac.  Not anywhere near what I wanted to do and now I have a torn Anterior Tali fibular Ligament. This is the one closest to the top of the ankle which is why I kept feeling like my foot hurt. This will heal and rather quickly I hope. I am pretty thankful it's not worse. I am a freak though. Carrying a cooler of ice in my car, compressing it and today began to work on stabilizing. I tested it out on the bike and the doc say's I am good to go on the MTB. Though I was hoping to have one final bad ass weekend in the Gorge before the taper for SD100M that might not happen. I have a MTB race on Memorial Day weekend and that's it.  If I can heal super quick I might get a weekday session out there but not going to take any risks. I CAN'T sprain it again or I'm done. As for the sinus infection, well, by Monday I was so sick it was horrible. I feel a ton better today.

I wish I could say I made a good decision but I should have stayed home. On the other hand I love the Mac and didn't want to miss out on any fun. Plus, it was my 9th! I also wish I could say I I turned a negative to a positive. Not so much! The only thing I can say is I finished and didn't quit. There is something in that that seems to satisfy my stubborn nature.The only thing around me showing any bright side that day was my outfit! See how the justification works? So moving on to a short MTB race then SD100M. :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mixing it back up!

It's that time of year here in the PNW.  The time when trillium's are blooming, rhododendrons are think with flowers and temperatures are rising.  Yes, we still have rain but it's more like "mizall (mist and drizzle). Portlander's are running around with shorts and tank tops on showing way more white pasty skin than you might see in any other part of the country :).  It's really not warm enough but we have to take advantage of any and all globe sightings.  The mood is high.

My mood is high as well. Though who can complain about being extra motivated it can spell trouble for me. I am all to familiar with over training.  Seems I am lucky enough to dodge a lot of bullets but I can't stand the feeling of over training.  The tired, poor workouts, sluggish look like crap kinda thing. I have pushed through too many times and have promised myself I will behave with more maturity.  Last year I never felt over trained. Even with races every other weekend I felt rested and strong. Clearly the addition of MTBing served my body well.  Keeping me from running too much and beating my body to death. 

The Umstead 100M backed up with Peterson Ridge 2 weeks later looked good on paper.  I made it through Peterson in better than expected time and felt relatively fine when done.  I was pleased. I can clearly handle volume. The following week was not so fun.  I was really tired and my body was achy.  I had bits of tightness and soreness in weird places. That was my signal I needed to back off. I took it fairly easy during the week just to pound out some Gorge hill repeats on Saturday. Then Sunday hit the Hood River area for some big girl mountain biking.  I got my butt handed to me there too. Still riding the line of recovery......or ????? It's been awhile since I have climbed any loose terrain on my MTB.  The climbs were long and not so easy.  My butt and quads were screaming!  I was chasing a rabbit too.  Kristen is a killer athlete both running and MTBing so it's a great training partner for me.  We are doing many of the same MTB races this year so our goals for the bike are well matched.  However, she has a big engine! She can climb like crazy then knock of a sub min pace for a long run.  That means she rides back down to get me :).  Though I was beat I came back from the dead better, hmmm.

Since I have stacked my Spring and Summer with a race every other weekend I am finding it hard to get in a good training rhythm. My biggest goal is to have my quads ready for SD100M on June 9th. With the exception of 2 quality runs during the week that focus on speed every other run I am doing includes hills. I am not so concerned about the climbing but am petrified of the long descending.  I haven't been doing much of that in the last year.  I can run/power hike up anything but the downhills will be brutal for me.  That means lots of time in the Gorge!  Who can complain about that?  With a low snow year and any big snows coming so late in the season the melt is fast. Many of my normal haunts are snow free and I haven't seen that in at least 6 years.  Generally I can't get above 2,500 feet before MacDonald Forest 50K without hitting snow.  This year there is none in those areas.  Very nice!  

After my first really big effort in the Gorge I was mildly pleased with how my body bounced back.  My quads were sore for sure but not crippling. I think this is a good sign.  I did this run the following weekend after Peterson Ridge.  The run's up was just ok, not great but not horrible either.  It wasn't until my track workout this last Wednesday where I seemed to have turned a corner. Nervous going into this workout and confident coming out!  I hit my paces but most importantly it seemed to bring me back around.  This was the first super strong effort since Umstead 100M.  I rebound the next day and by Friday tore up my hill repeats feeling strong and fast going up and down.  My quads felt nothing the next day for another killer Hood River MTB ride where we climbed 4000 feet in 13 miles.  I even felt like I had power.  Then on Sunday back in the Gorge at the crack of dawn we busted out a long run with 7K of climb and descend in just about a 12 min. pace.  Sweet!  

I think the moral of this post is that mixing in the MTBing gives me the opportunity to recover better.  Though while I am riding I feel like I am going to breath out a lung I seem to rebound much quicker.  My muscles and cardio system eat it up.  Plus, it is sooooo much fun and still scares the crap out of me! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Peterson Ridge Rumble 40M!

As I mentioned in my Umstead report my recovery was going very well. I was honestly barely phased by the race physically. However, just because I felt no pain the deep fatigue must be there. The week following Umstead was packed with personal things.  I had to take an extensive eye exam for glaucoma because my left eye has an irregular optic nerve. This test lasted 2 hours! Being the genious I am (not) I had it scheduled for the afternoon on Tuesday following Umstead. I had to identify blinking lights for 4 minutes per eye just to get the ball rolling. That day was probably not the best day to do such a test.  I was tired and seeing stars as it was.  Thankfully after 2+ hours of poking, screening, taking pictures of my eye I am cleared. Because I feeling so spry physically I couldn't resist a run in the Gorge on a beautiful sunny day.  By the end my legs were letting me know I was stupid. After that I tried to keep the running to dull roar so I could be somewhat able to run Peterson. I figured my true recovery would be unveiled as the race unfolded. Running a 40 mile race 2 weeks after a 100M PR looked fine on paper!
Central Oregon was gorgeous! The sun was awesome and the views of the cascade range reminded of my youth. I felt very comfortable. I had no plans for Peterson except to have the strength to take the turn at mile 23 and finish the 40 instead of calling it a day and taking the 20M option. I hoped I was on some sort of high point when I had to make that choice.  In hindsight, like anything we do, it's mental. 

Right of the bat I had a governor attached to my body. I had no gear beyond where the governor had been set.  That was between a 8:30 and 10:30 depending on terrain. Even on the downhill stretches the dexterity in my legs was compromised. I had no issues with the pace but found it interesting. I pondered what that meant.  How was my training playing a role? Is it even prudent to ask that question since I was just off a 100M?  Anyway, as the day progressed I seemed to hold steady.  Not in any REAL pain but rather just mild aches. Just your normal running stuff however it might have set in a bit earlier than normal.  

None of that really matter because I was having a glorious day. Peterson is my kickoff run for the Spring/Summer ultra running season. I love the feel of that race. Sean does something special there. He really cares about all the runners no matter what level of runner they are. I am pretty sure that's why I love it so much. He's a humble guy and treats all of us like we're special. Because of that every aid station and course volunteer do the same. At the last minute there was course change which left my airhead brain very confused. I couldn't figure out where I was or what mile I was at. I also took 3 bone head wrong turns. The trail system is pretty extensive and I was looking down way to much. 2 of the detours happened before 20 miles. When I arrived at the last aid station before I had to take that turn and forever seal my fate I was feeling pretty good. The race is now shared with 20 milers and that's always fun. The turn came up before I knew it and I dove in without blinking.  I took this as a good sign. I made my way back up the ridge and after the 26 mile aid station I took another detour.  Though I wasn't pleased with putting in any extra miles I wasn't all that upset either, weird. I think that's a result of very low expectations.  Since I had set my expectations at a 7:15 time goal missing turns and logging more miles wasn't a big deal.  Mental, running is mental :). This part of the course was new from last year. The re-route was worth it!  We got to run back up on the ridge where the mountain views were incredible! The trail wound around a manzanita forest. I cruised around there getting sunburned and loving it!  Bopping along to the Monsters and Men album (This is my favorite song. if you listen that might explain my demeanor). Alex has promised we will do this duet for Mothers Day :). Bill crewed me the whole day. Seeing his enthusiastic face often was another high moment. 
Though I was cruising around at my same old speed and having a really nice day I was really wanting to see the final aid station. Since I was so confused about the mileage I was hoping to come in and find we had 6 miles to go not 10.  I don't think I was up for much more.  When I finally found the station that was my first question. And as with all races once it was confirmed I only had 6 measly miles to go I perked up.  I finished in 6:37, last year 6:36 and the year before 6:35.  I don't even know what to say!  Clearly I have one speed.  I was thrilled! After discussing my run with a friend.  I asked, "Where do you think I should go from here"?  Reply, "Don't get injured".  Good advice!  I have stacked my year with ultras and MTB races.  It's tight but I am really having a blast!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Umstead 100M

Umstead 100M was a huge success! I am thrilled to have gone sub 20, 19:37 to be exact. I went thinking I had a shot at breaking 20 but all the cards would have to align and all systems would have to work in a state of perfection.  I would say that most everything went very well.  I'll start by confessing that I am a geographical dork. Born and raised in Oregon and certainly not a world traveler the East Coast is like going to China for me.  Once we arrived in North Carolina we used Micheal's phone to see where in the US we actually were.  Were we close to the ocean, how far east were we, what were we near and what's the weather like here?  Since it was so warm and sunny we were curious. Some residents heard us discussing our whereabouts and quickly jumped in to give us a much needed lesson. You would think I would have this all figured out before I left.  No, I didn't.  I appears I have gotten lazy when it comes to planning these 100's.  Micheal was not at all impressed when he realized I had no crew bags, no instructions, no pace chart and I didn't even know what time the race started or where.  Susan had all the race details so I jumped on here organization.  My race however, could use a bit of attention.  I whipped up a pace chart on the hotel pad.  I figured my race would unfold lap by lap and it would be easy to adapt on the fly.  This didn't pan out making my crew stops a bit more lengthy and bit chaotic.  Nothing like my normally well thought out, a bit annoying but effective race plans.

Umstead is geared for first timers. The race officials really want to do all they can to ensure everyone finishes. At the pre-race meeting they talked at length on how to get through this and offered key advice to runners.  At the end they asked everyone who was running their first 100M to stand.  Whoa!  I was blown away by the number of first time 100 milers. It brought chills to my skin and I got goose bumps. With a lump in my throat I said, wow.  This was super inspiring!  You could feel the excitement. There were 107 runners going for their first 100M finish.  I think the total field was around 240.  I am sure this happens in other 100's like Leadville and such but the attention brought to it here was special.

I sleep like the dead and pre-race sleep was no different.  I woke up ready to roll.  The sound of rain wasn't really what I wanted to hear but I knew it wasn't going to be cold.  63 degrees and rain for the start.  More like a drizzle than a down pour (that came later). The moisture in the air was thick and just got thicker as the day progressed.  I thought this race would go out fast and I vowed to go very slow and not get caught up in anything that would drain me early.  I purposely did not carry a light for the dark start knowing the lack of good vision would keep me dialed back. It did. However, this race did not go out fast!  Everyone seemed to be in a comfortable groove, including myself.  The wet weather was not so bad. It was plenty warm enough but my clothes seemed be heavy on my skin. I think this should have been the first sign that NC has some humidity.  Since the only race I've ran in any real humidity was Vermont 100 I have no experience in this.  When I ran Vermont I got lucky and it was a relatively low humidity day! Laps 1 and 2 were good.  Both around 10 min pace.  I walked the 2 short but steep hills on the back side from the get go.  It felt nice to change up the motion.

Loop courses are hard but fun. They're hard because you have to keep yourself motivated.  They're fun because you share the race with more people.  You're never alone and it gives the opportunity to meet people. I was overwhelmed by the amount of encouragement shared on the course.  I don't think I have been in a race where the other runners were this enthusiastic and friendly. I got to meet some of Sophie's friends, Jenny and Rick.  I got to share a few miles with them.  I got see Allison and Owen kick some PNW butt!  I got to see Mike Morton set a course record.  And...since he's my ultra running idle I was awe struck by how friendly and encouraging he was to all of us! Even though he was setting a blazing pace he had demonstrated the true ultra spirit of camaraderie.  I want to become one of the Virginia Ultra running group members because those folks take care of their friends like no others!  Very special.

By lap 3 the rain had stopped and the temperature was rising.  It was crazy fast too.  It popped 20 degrees in a blink of an eye.  The humidity was so noticeable now. Lots of folks didn't seem to be bothered by it. I however felt like a slimy slug, literally. My skin was wet and sticky.  My clothes would not dry!  I couldn't take it anymore and lifted my tank top up so my belly and back could get some relief. That felt so good however my skin remained very wet. Now running in shorts and bra is no big deal. Girls do it all the time.  NOT ME! This just goes to show my level of desperation. My plan was to lift up my tank and get some relief while on the back side of the course. Then when I got back in public I would pull it back down. That plan went out the window when I just couldn't bring myself to blanket the wet, warm, slimy body.  Then on top of it I got tired of carrying my empty handhelds so I stuffed them in my shorts.  Ahh, freedom.  I came in from my 3rd loop in this new fashion statement and Micheal looked at me and said, "What the?????".  I told him this was my new look and I didn't really care.  Ok, we'll go with that I guess.  I was using mass amounts of Vaseline in areas I won't mention.  I was covered in it!  Under my arms, under my bra, down my legs and a couple of other places. Nice......

By the time I had finished up lap 4 (50M) in exactly 9 hours I knew sub 20 was a possibility.  Besides the chaffing in areas I won't mention I felt good.  Still hotter than hell but managing it okay. I was feeling a bit sluggish and tired.  Micheal picked me up for lap 5.  We spent the better part of this lap getting me back in the running game.  I was walking more and feeling tight and off.  I popped a Succeed tab and drank some broth at the midpoint aid station.  We were thinking I might be low on salt since I looked like a salt lick!  I was covered from my neck to my ankles in crystals.  I generally don't take much salt.  I am not a big sweater and even for a race like WS100M I might only take 1 Enduralyte every 1.5 hours.  I have been popping them about every hour here but Micheal suggested we pull out the big guns and use Succeed. After about 20 minutes all systems began to fire again.  Lap 5 was one of my slowest!  I was 12 minutes faster on number 6.

Laps 6 and 7 were sweet!  I ran 6 pretty fast and 7 was no sloucher either.  I was feeling good.  My feet were the most sore.  Strange, not generally a place I feel sore but this hard surface was beating them up good.  My legs were fine.  Sure, I could feel the hamstrings and calves but nothing worth discussing.  Leaving for a final lap it was pretty clear I was going to break sub 20 baring anything crazy.  Then crazy came.  The storm from hell!  The sky was quickly filled with a crazy amount of lightening.  I have been in some lightening storms in the Wasatch and Leadville that I thought were amazing.  This was a different kind of lightening.  It covered the sky.  Then the downpour. I am still basically naked so I grab my tank top and put it on.  Thankfully Micheal didn't listen to me and ditch our rain jackets.  I had to pull mine out because I was getting chilled and at this state I knew I would quickly be frozen. We were both wearing glasses and within a mile couldn't see shit!  Now leave it to Micheal to have a dry bandanna stashed in his pack.  I pulled it out and we both used it.  We plugged on moving very well.  I chose to barely break step at the midpoint aid station to avoid getting chilled. The rain kept on for another 2 miles then it began to let up and I could remove my coat.  Though I felt like I was slowing I ran my final lap faster than the previous by 20 whole seconds!

Upon finishing I was immediately off to shower.  I had to get the sticky slime off my body. I wasn't excited to get in the shower and determine just how much chaffing I had. I pre-lubed before the shower to keep the screaming to a minimum.  I was also not anxious to see my feet!  I don't generally blister much but I wasn't sure what I was going to find.  My feet were sore so it was hard to tell if I had any bad boys lucking under the socks.  I peeled them off to find my big toe with a blister under the nail. Weird, I don't remember banging my toes but that's what it look like.  Other than that the feet looked good.  My hair though, whew!  I  braided my ponytail but the moisture blew it up into one giant dread lock!  No way was this coming out so I washed the dread lock and rinsed with a ton of conditioner.  Still it was stuck.  Oh well, I will deal with it later.  Off I went to the race headquarters building for some food and rest while we waited for Susan to finish.  Post race recovery has been amazing!  No swelling and besides this toe I feel good.  Biked once and ran once just to get things moving.  Overall I can't believe how well it went and am still on a post race high!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Every training plan needs some training elements, right?  I like to be very specific with my training so I can get the most bang for a limited amount of time. I can't log big miles. Back in the late 90's and through 2003 I would stack big weeks of long training runs. Though that got me where I wanted to be it really took a toll on my body.  I would find myself struggling with minor injuries and more often I was sick. There were training plans where I logged 10+ weeks at 100+ miles. That just doesn't work for me. My body won't take it and since it takes me a long time to run that many miles time become a factor. :) Below are some of the elements I have included in my training plan for Ulmstead 100M.

Periodization or Cycle Training: I like to work in 3-4 week cycles.  As I head into the Peak Phase I like to bump it down to 3 week cycles because when I am logging more than 70 miles a week I need that recovery week sooner or push myself over the edge.

Speed Sessions: This element is the most crucial for me. I need to work for every ounce of speed I have so having at least 1 solid speed workout per week is critical, maybe 2.  I started with determining a VDOT so I could use the Daniels Method of training.  This method works really well for me during Ultra training.  The speeds are not too intense to dig into other training but very effective is gaining speed.  Once I had a number I had 5 types of speed workouts. True T-Pace sessions, Cruise Intervals at T-Pace, Sustained M-Pace session, Segmented M-Pace Work, and finally VO2 Max Intervals.  For the first part of my training in Dec and Jan I alternating between True T-Pace, Cruise Intervals, and both M-Pace types of workouts.  During the Feb I did only long M-Pace work.  In March only VO2 Max intervals (long track workouts) and one shorter M-Pace type of workout. On a recovery week I would only do 1 speed session.

The Long Run: Of course every plan needs a long run.  I don't like to do long slow runs very much. I like to add quality into my long run and keep it under 5 hours most of the time. Unless there is a really cool group run. In the final 2 weeks of training I will push it to 6 hours but beyond that, unless it's for Hardrock, it's too much for me. I have several workouts I like to do for the long run. The Progression run, The 10 min, 4 min at AT cycle run, Block runs (varying intensity in blocks), 15 min. easy running with 30 sec. sprints throughout, long AT hill repeats or a Goal Pace Run.  A bunch of options for long runs. I pair these appropriately with they type of speed session so I cover all the upper zones in a weeks time.

Recovery Run: Usually 2 recovery run per week. In the Peak Phase one of these will be 90-120 minutes of total cruising and maybe power-hiking if necessary.

Back to Back Runs: Every Ultra runner generally doesn't feel complete without the back to back. I am one of them. Though I only do back to back long sessions in the Peak Phase so 6 weeks, before the taper.  I like to build my back to back runs so I get a good hard session on one day and the next is easier but back end pacing or focus. This helps me be ready to run on very tired legs and reminds me that a huge part of the 100M run is the metal hurdle we reach at 60+ miles.

Off Days: I suck at off days. I don't like them and struggle to stick with them. Though I know they are a huge corner stone for improvement I still stink at taking them.  I plan at least one day off.  On a recovery week I take 2 days off.

Cross Training: For this training plan I had to do some MTBing in Dec, Jan and Feb. I needed to get on the bike in order to ride Old Pueblo 24HR.  This was actually really nice!  I did back to back on Fri/Sat and rode on Sun with Bill. I only rode for 3 hours max per session in training for OP24HR. It was the perfect recovery session after a week of solid running. When I was done with the race in mid Feb. it coincided nicely with the Peak Phase for Ulmstead.  I bumped my back to backs to 3-6 hours of hilly effort on Fri.  Saturday would be shorter, flatter and faster but no more than 4-4.5 hours.

I have 2 weight sessions a week.  One upper and one lower and Bikram 2X per week.  Can you tell I like details? I use heart rate training for some of the longer stuff when pace won't really work.  I am anxious to see how Ulmstead pans out.  I feel like I am getting in better shape with this focus on training. I hope it works because if it doesn't I am going to have to really hold fast to my goal of no coach.  Wish me luck!