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!