Wednesday, August 18, 2010

6 Days of Running Bliss

At least I hope it is!  Sometime last year I put in a deposit on the TransRockies Run.  A six day fully supported run through the rockies in Colorado.  Old Goats, Steve and Doug had run it in its inaugural year and last year, gave it a big thumbs up and promoted it at a Trailheadz meeting. 
There are different team divisions-men's, women's, mixed(men and women),80+mixed,80+mens and 80+womens.  The race is run in teams of 2, and both members must stay within 2 min. of each other.
So, I called up my favorite running partner and asked him if he was up for the adventure.  He got the okay from his social director-took a few weeks-and so here we are now.  Trained and ready to go. 
If you believe that last statement, then you don't know Rick and I very well!!!
We will be taking it very slow in Colorado, our goal is to just make it to the finish line on August 27 where our families will be waiting. 
In about in hour we will start out on the 15 hr drive to Buena Vista.  Last weather check predicted rain.  Arriving Thursday, we will have 3 days to acclimate to the altitude and sort out and weed out our gear.  Day 2 of the run has a 10 mile hike(run?) up Hope Pass-around 13000 altitude.  Weather could be anything-they've had a lot of rain.  Last check of predicted weather in Vail and Beaver Creek(the finish), was cool and wet.  The runners are allowed one generous duffle bag-mine will be full of shoes...

here's the link
TransRockies Run

I am taking my netbook and if I can get a signal in one of the local towns, I will update.

The tenative running schedule is(they keep the actual route a secret until checkin)
day 1 20 miles
day2  10 miles of altitude!
day3 24 miles
day4 14 miles of altitude!
day 5 24 miles
day 6 21 miles.

gotta go.  need to pack more socks. and maybe another windbreaker. or another pair of tights.... 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Miwok 100K

Sometime last year the lottery for the Miwok 100K opened up.  Rick emailed me asking if I wanted to try to get in.  Sure!  Leap first, ask questions later.  A few months later, we are both in and I'm finally asking him about the course.  His description..."there's nothing flat, all hills.  big hills. but it's pretty!" 
So, Saturday May 1st, we ran the Miwok.  And gosh it was pretty.  The race started in the dark at Rodeo lagoon.  Mother nature cooperated and gave us great weather, so at the start, while it was chilly, it was nothing like last years race, which I heard rivaled the Chimera.
Running thru the sand then up and around the first hill to get a glimpse of the bay as the sunrises. picture time!
This first part of the run is a short out and back, and we get to see the big name front runners still looking fresh, easily loping along a stretch of pavement.  Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, Jenn Shelton, Krissy Moehl and Kami Semick were among the few I recognized. 
The first major aid station we stop at is Tennessee Valley at mile 12.  We're still feeling good, grab a quick bite and get going.  Up, up and up(this hill out of the AS i'm naming it "Ricks Hill") out of the valley, then down to Muir Beach.
Rick took all of the great pictures, sorry if I've gotten them out of order....I think he'll understand though, after running with me for a few years he knows how directionally challenged I am.
Beautiful picture perfect spots everywhere.  It's hard to concentrate on running! 
The next stop is the Pan Toll aid station at mile 21-ish. The first place we can get to our drop bags.  This becomes a major stop, we leave warm clothes and empty Heed packets behind and pick up fresh supplies.  Rick mentions his stomach is starting to act up again.  The run out of pan toll is grassy singletrack, flowers and miles of green blades all swaying in the breeze.  There is no shade and the temps begin to rise.  Still, it's an easy run and not too hilly.  We are making good time and try to catch up with runners we know are ahead somewhere.  Next is Bolinas aid station.   As we near Bolinas, Rick's stomach is really starting to hurt, I could tell there was something wrong because I was keeping up with him.  Usually he runs ahead and stops when he can't see me.  But I was always in sight and catching him on the downhills.  He had to stop a few times to let his stomach settle.  We arrive at Bolinas and see Scott Jurek working, handing out gels and encouragement to the runners who are returning from the Randall turnaround. We see signs with the cutoff times posted.  Randall's is 2:30, I don't really remember what time we left Bolinas but it was going to be a push to get to Randall before the cutoff.  The trail is dark, tree covered and rooty.  It's slow going and we stop often.  We get to the turnaround with 30 min. to spare, hand off my water bottles and hit the porta potty.  It's another long stop, but we get out before the cutoff and it's up hill back to Bolinas.  Poor Rick looks miserable, but refuses to give in and being the veteran ultra runner he is, we continue on.  I don't know what the cutoff is for the return to Bolinas but I see another lady ahead suddenly crank up the speed.  She'd been slow and steady for most of the hike back, but she was starting to run again.  I was worried we were getting close to another cut off so I tried to push our pace a bit.  We get to Bolinas (mile 42-ish) again just in time to see them starting to pack up, but they don't stop us so we must have gotten in just in time.  Next is pan toll 7.5 miles away and we must get there before 6:30pm.  Another big push.  Up a hot hill out of bolinas-Rick struggles with his stomach.  We get to the grassy single track again and make up time even with the stops for heaving...
Mentally I'm struggling here-I'm not sure if we should go on after we get to pan toll.  I ask him about it, he wants to continue.  But we stop every mile or so as the dry heaves and vomiting continue.  He hasn't been able to keep any liquid or solid down since after mile 25. and we are approaching mile 50, with more to go after that.  In my mind, I called it quits around mile 47.  I slowed down, let him pass me.  Took in the views and thought about what to do.  We arrive back at Pan toll with 40 min. to spare-seems like a lot of time.  We rummage thru the drop bags-business as usual, look for head lamps and warm clothes for the last 12 miles.  I use the bathrooms again and when I get back I see Rick crouched over some bushes, pale and shivering.  We look each other in the eyes, I ask him(more like told him) is it time to drop?  It is.  We make it official and find a nice man with a Prius,  I think he said his name was Kent, and get a long ride back to the finish.
Warm heaters and hot soup are waiting for us.  Rick manages to get the soup down...I'm a little wary as he eats cuz I'm sitting next to him...but it stays down and he's looking better. We see runners we know and chat for a while.  We watch as the sun sets and see a few more runners with lamps make their way down the long downhill to the finish. 
Rick feels bad, thinks we should have continued.  But, deep down I know it was the right decision, the safe one.  Miwok will be there next year and lottery willing, so will we.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Leona Divide 50 Mile Run 2010

Leona Divide 2010.  A new course and a new RD.  Keira from the Trailheadz accepted the position of RD last year.  So this years run, while it kept the flavor of the original LD50, she added miles of the PCT. 
Keeping in what is becoming a tradition of our Leona start...or rather missing the start...we headed out about 4 minutes behind the last runner.  But, if given the choice of being 4 min. late or missing a chance at the bathrooms...well...go figure!
It was an absolutely beautiful morning to run!  Clear and cool.  Rick and I slowly made our way up the first hill.  Catching and passing the first runner after about a mile. About 3 or 4 miles later we saw the a small cluster or Trailheadz-Beiyi, Doug (Doug's daughter Michelle broke the women's course record!) andYen.

All things considered, we were doing pretty well.  We both felt pretty good and the miles started falling away.  The aid stations were awesome, the workers were helpful and the tables well stocked.  I tried not to graze too much, my stomach was still a bit raw from the day before...don't know why, but it was.  Took two pepto bismols before the start and they helped.  So I stayed away from solid foods untl it settled.  Gels and Heed were enough until lunch time.
The mile 23 aid station, the "70's Station" was run by what looked to be college age runners.  All very young and fit, and dressed in 70's clothing.  Just before we arrived we caught up with veteran runner Fred who was looking strong.  He was a good sport and took a picture with the AS volunteers.
It was high energy and Earth, Wind and Fire at this stop!  They pampered us, but sent us on our way. The next stop was over 6 miles away, but we were feeling really strong and looking forward to getting to the turnaround at 29 miles.
The next 4 miles, while on beautiful singletrack, were tough!!!  I struggled thru this and wondered when it was going to end!!!  We started seeing runners coming back thru this section, the front runners, this encouraged us because we hoped this meant we were close to the turnaround.  I heard Rick ask a few how much farther until the Aid station and the answers were always "at least 3 miles"...The trail seemed fairly flat, rolly mostly. Why was it so hard?  I could hardly keep up a run for more than a few minutes without feeling drained.  I pushed the fluids and gels, thinking i must be getting low on fuel, but it didn't help much.  Finally we break out of the tree covered singletrack and on to open fireroad.  Crew directed us to keep right, and it was still 2.5 miles.  But it wall all DOWNHILL!! Allright!!!! I felt the wings open up and flew the first mile or so.  It was a fairly steep grade, so after a mile I slowed it down to keep the knees and quads in shape, and also because I knew we'd be hiking up this grade in a few minutes.  We saw many familiar faces at the turnaround, Corrinne who was battling a strained hamstring was just behind us looking so determined!  Beiyi and Sue were not too far behind her.
Climbing back up the fireroad was slow and hot.  I took it a little too easy and  let people pass me.  This is where Fred found what he was looking for and passed us.  We would never see him again until the finish  line!  I was dreading that 4 mile section of the PCT.  After reaching the top of the fireroad and starting on to singletrack, I noticed it seemed all downhill...we kept going, all wonder I felt so crappy, it was all uphill the first time thru and we were trying to run the whole thing!  Well, the second time thru was fun and fast.  Shady soft brown dirt with a mild downhill. We flew, trying to make up lost time.  We get back to the 70's station happy and refreshed.  This marks the 35.5 mile point.  We are at 8.5 hours.  15 miles left.  We decide to shoot for under 12 hours and head out. 
While our legs are feeling pretty good, Ricks stomach has other plans for us.  He is sensitive to sunscreen and he thinks a bit of it entered his water bottle at the last aid station.  He battled nausea for the last 15 miles.  We would trade off leading.  I would march on and try to keep the pace while he took needed breaks.  The day was warming up and that wasn't helping him either.  After the 42 mile aidstation was the last hill. It was a doozie too, no shade and over 4 miles of climb. We passed more people, and a few passed us.  Alot of "walking dead" on this stretch.   We discussed strategy here, should we just take our time and finish, or set a goal?  Rick wanted to finish better than last year, which was 12:39 i believe.  So we leave the comfort of the last aid station and begin the final miles. I keep a close eye on my garmin and our pace.  We are running 13 min's going to be close...we reach another hill, more walking...21 min miles.   finally I recognize the homestretch.  I look behind me to see how Rick is holding up.  He's still looking strong, running straight and tall.  It's all downhill now, we hit the half mile with plenty of time left and cruise across the finish line.  12:13.
Rick finds the first bench and calls it home.  He  looks pale, but still strong...and manages not to throw up at the finish line!!   Steve and Annie of the trailheadz give us hugs and congratulations.  I see Janet and we chat, she runs off to get Rick some water.   I try to eat a bit, share a little with the TH, but his stomach isn't quite ready for fajitas and spanish rice.  After an hour he's able to shuffle over to the dining hall, get a little food down.  He's looking much better, but a nap seems to be the next on the list.  So we make our way to the SUV, and much like last year...take a nap.

Next up...Miwok 100K May 1st.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Speed work"

The weekend after the Way Too Cool 50K, I felt the need for speed.
I used to run 5 and 10K's all the time.  Once or twice a month! My times were never great, but they were fun and fast..
So, a very spur of the moment decision had me in Newport Beach running the Spirit Run 5K.  I originally had the 10K in mind but I overslept and ran the 5K. 
It's been about a year since I last ran a 5K.  This one even had chip timers, so it would be an "official" time. 
Standing at the starting line, I was feeling very nervous.  And very slow.  Especially after my less than stellar times in the back to back 50K's.  But, I'd decided to just do the best I could and treat it as speed work. 3 miles at race pace.
At the gun the race began...and it was a race!!! 1st mile at 8:06, even after dodging the walkers for the first 2 blocks.  2nd mile 8:03..negative splits!!  The 3rd mile was when the "race" began.  There was a man about 5 yards ahead of me, i'd kept him in sight since mile 2. He was easily loping along.  From behind, a man who looked to be in his 70's, passed me.  Slowly he caught the jogging man.  Jogging man, sensing he was about to be passed picked up his pace.  So I picked up my pace to keep the two of them in view.  Now, I could hear the steady breathing of someone behind me, on my right.  As I picked up my pace, the breather fell back a bit, but caught up.  A slight downhill ahead, again, I tried to pick up the pace and gain more of a lead.  A short distance later the breather was again on my tail.  The jogger ahead was no longer jogging...he was running trying to keep his lead, the 70 year old was not letting up!  On my tail was the breather, and 50 yds ahead was the finish line.  Should I go all out and smoke the breather or "maintain" and look casual as I cross the finish.  Being one to never want to look like she's trying too hard, I just kept my pace, and the breather passed me the last 20 yds.  I think the jogger kept his lead but he looked like he was spent. 
At the finish line the breather-I saw it was a woman, caught her breath and came over and shook my hand.  It was a good race, and a PR for me.  My final mile was under 8 min, because my overall pace was 7:50.  So negative splits! Woo Hoo!!!
Saturday is the Seal Beach 10K!  Last year was so much fun, Benny and I battled it out!  This year I have to work, so I'm going to be running after working all night, I'll try to keep it under 55 min.  Still it will be speedwork!
Oh, almost forgot!  After looking online at the Spirit race results, I discovered I placed 2nd in my age group! I think the woman that passed me took 1st!!


I've been good.  Added a few more miles since my last post.  I wanted to mention my run on Wednesday, which was less than memorable in miles, but a good reminder about running in the heat. I'd worked all night Tuesday, it was busy and didn't really have a chance to eat or drink much during my 10 hour shift.  After getting home and logging about 4 hours of sleep I got up and got ready for an afternoon run, it was going to be an easy short run thru the hills, recovery from Monday's run.  Ate a quick snack and ran out the door to el moro.  I started out feeling pretty good, but after the first hill my legs were quickly becoming fatigued.  It was warm out, so I started drinking.  Didn't help much.  By 3 miles I was walking back to the car, shaking my head trying to figure out what went wrong...Not enough sleep?  Don't think so, I do alot of training after work.  Heat?  Maybe, not enough heat training yet.  Low on calories?  Maybe, had only a p-nut butter sandwich in 12 hours.  Low on water?  Very likely.  I'd had 3 cups of coffee in 24hrs.  Thats it.  So I started out very dehydrated and as soon as i hit that first hill and started sweating my muscles were overheating.  Even after drinking a bottle of heed, I was still probably 3L low, and it didn't make much of a difference. 
I got home and downed another half liter of water, took an endurolyte, drank another half liter and ate dinner.
During my shift that night, I went easy on the coffee(not an easy thing to do) and kept up with the water and electrolytes.  The amazing thing, that morning, at the end of my 10 hours I felt great!  Much more energetic and clear minded than I usually do after drinking coffee all night long.  I had another run on my calender for Thursday afternoon.  So another 4 hours of sleep and I was up and on the trails again.  This time I finished off almost a liter of smartwater before getting on the trails.  Took an endurolyte and headed out to try to get in 9-10 miles before dark.  What a difference!! While I'm still a wimp on the hills I could get thru most of them without stopping, and then continue on quickly at the top.  At the end of the 9 miles I was tired and could feel the effects of the heat but could have continued on for more miles if I'd had the time.
So, moral to this little story...while drinking and eating during running is important, taking care of yourself while off the trails factors in big time too. I'd been too consumed with making sure I'd pack all my pills and powders for my run, I'd neglect to eat and drink properly before leaving the house.
And the warm up is very important too...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


After Way Too Cool I felt I needed to rethink my training, or rather my lack of training.  The 50K's were turning into my long runs, which in theory is ok.  But I wasn't putting in enough miles in between. Short 5-6 milers to look at tadpoles.  3 miles to just stretch out the legs.  Then bam! 31 miles on the weekend. 
I started feeling really crappy.  Always tired, run times were getting slow and little aches and pains were cropping up.  With Leona Divide coming up, it was time to have a good "think" about what I need to do to get ready...yes, I know, I should already be ready....
So, last week I added miles. Some decent distances of at least 10 miles with hills.  I threw in a hilly 5 mile sprint just for good measure.  On Saturday I ran with the Trailheadz, got in about 24-25 easy miles in El Moro.By "easy" I mean I hiked most of the uphills.  On Monday Rick and I put in at least 15(my legs say 18-20) miles that included Big Bend. Rick runs the uphills, and I do my best to just keep him in sight.  Probably a rest day today and then 10 on Wednesday.  My legs are happy and I feel pretty strong.  The consistency in training seems to be paying off.  I guess next week will be taper week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Way Too Cool 50K

Friday's drive up north to the Way Too Cool 50K was pretty uneventful...until Stockton...
The dark clouds that seemed very far away were suddenly overhead and pouring rain.  Traffic stopped and any hope to reach Auburn by 5pm was gone.  And I was a little worried about what the race would be like Saturday.
But Saturday dawned with clear blue skies and awesome cool temps, perfect for running a 50K.
Driving down the road to Cool, the sun just starting to come up behind the fog was just beautiful.  I wish I'd stopped to take a few pictures, but since I'd missed the packet pickup on Friday, and I was sure others did also, I wanted to get to check in early pick up my stuff and have time to fine tune the "outfit".  I'd packed an entire duffle bag of clothes...goretex shell, windpants, fleece etc not knowing what to expect for race day.
Turns out, tights, short sleeve top and sleeves would be all I would need to run in.
Here's a pic of the check in table with Catra Corbett.  Soon after this was taken she took off to the Hwy 49 aid station, where I had a chance to say "HI".
The start of the race was amazing!  Over 400 trail runners-and we are a colorful bunch-all shapes and sizes anxiously waiting for the "Go".  There were 128 first time Cool runners, including myself, and I had a chance to talk to a few of them before we got going.  We chatted about gear, "ball bearing"(when they name a hill you know it's got to be a good one), and our race resumes.  Before long we were off running down a stretch of fireroad looking forward to the actual trails and the beauty of what this race is all about.
 Soon after we left the fireroad and started on the trail, I saw this little tree...was the rest of the race going to be this quirky?
The first few miles were rolling hills, open and green.  The ground was wet and pretty muddy in spots but not too bad considering the deluge the night before.
A few more miles then the American River came into sight.
We climbed a bit then dropped down into the canyon and crossed what would be the first of "too many to count" creek crossing.  I wore my Montrail Mountain Masochists because of the rain...boy, was that a smart choice. The first creek crossing was no problem.  The water wasn't too deep or fast, plenty of stepping stones and just a few quick steps and I was over.  But the trail was getting pretty sloppy.  The mud holes stretched across the entire width of the singletrack, so there was no getting thru cleanly. 
I was making pretty good time, by the half marathon point I was at 2:35, and thinking I may break 7 hours.  Mile 16, still under 7 hours but I was losing time...
I was not doing well with the creek/stream crossings.  They were getting deeper and wider.  And the choices on how to get across were either just plow thru the middle or try to tip toe across over some very precarious rocks.  After losing alot of time trying to navigate around, I took the easiest way across-right thru the middle.  Plus it helped wash off the mud.  
Pretty much the remainder of the run was run thru mud, run thru water, run thru more mud and run thru more water. By mile 20 my legs were feeling the weight of my heavy shoes.  The montrails were built for this abuse, they drained the water pretty quickly after every crossing and didn't hold the mud in the treads, but still they weighed tons compared to when they are dry.  After one creek crossing where the water was up to my thighs, I resigned myself to a less than stellar finish time.  Enjoyed the scenery and took a few more pictures.
                                                           One of the few dry spots!!

Miles of beautiful tree lined trail                                                    

Soon after this picture was taken, as we approached the last few miles, there was another mudhole.  Now, by this time I wasn't walking around the mud anymore, I was just slogging thru the middle...taking the shortest route since I was already covered in dirt and soaking wet.  Well, that last mudhole almost did me in.  With that first step, my right leg sunk down to my knee.  I was stuck!!!!  And still sinking!!!!  There were two runners trying to pick their way around the mud when they saw me being eaten by the goo, they each had to grab an arm and hoist me out!!! My gloved hands were muddy, my water bottles were shoes now were weighing about 50 lbs each..  It was time to have a good laugh and get-er done. Oh, one last little bit about that man-eating mudbog.  I'd passed two gentlemen about a mile earlier.  Now by the time I'd been pulled out of the slime, they were getting pretty close, I could hear them laughing and talking. They were just out of sight.  Soon I hear a bunch of whooping and loud laughing...seems they took the same path I did, right thru the middle!
I walked the last bit and saved enough to run across the finish line.  
There were some amazing runners on this course, a 75 year old who beat me by 20 minutes...I saw him on the trails, I think he was wearing a pair of shoes that were at least 30 years old!  A pair of young ladies who were so upbeat and happy to be there.  A man and a women, they looked like tri's, she was struggling a bit and he was helping her along.  She found what worked for her and they took off somewhere after mile 20 and I didn't see them again until the finish.  The two gentlemen who's family met them at the end and ran with them across the finish line.  
There was a time where I was letting the "long run demons" get into my head.  Even considered dropping at the 26 mile AS.  But there was a volunteer there, who must have seen my darkness-after filling up my bottles handed them to me, looked me in the eyes and said just 5 miles left.  He escorted me to the trail head and waved me on.  And on I went.

Way too cool shoes!! This is AFTER I hosed them off at the finish!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ultra Season Begins!!

Woo Hoo!! So the fun begins!!
As with last year the SJT 50K was my first ultra of the year.  It also was my first ultra trail run ever.  To kick off the ultra season, I went back to Baz and ran his 50K in the Santa Ana mountains.  It was more fun this year than last because the pressure was off.  The fear of the unknown mileage was gone.  The fear of the DNF or DFL was gone.  In fact, because this race fell into the catagory of "training run" I was planning to take it slow, keep my self healthy enough to make it thru the Way too Cool 50K the next weekend.   We were in the running for the DFL, but we couldn't help ourselves and ran hard the last 2.5 miles to the campground and passed a few racers. 
Next up, Way too Cool in Auburn.  I'm getting pretty excited, the course sounds like it's challenging and very beautiful, I'm definitely bringing a camera along.
Read the course description last week, we will run past an area where a woman trail runner was killed by a mountain lion years ago....

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Year of Trail Running

2009 was an amazing year for me.  I'd met goals that 5 years ago I'd never thought possible. 
A year ago I ran my first trail race, that was Baz's WTRS 12K.  From there, the rest of the series and onward to my first "ultra".  I'd posted a picture of me at 26.5 miles, officially over the marathon distance, and into the ultra realm. 
Now, a year later, where am I in my running?  Well, kinda starting over!  I ran the 12K again, but skipped the middle runs.  But I am back to run the 21K.  I reread my post from last year, how I was worried about the challenge of climbing West Horsethief....This year the challenge is the miles.  My running mileage has been less than optimal for the start of the ultra season.  Too much work!  Trying to squeeze in 52 miles in my birthday week took so much organization and felt way too hard!  While on the subject of the birthday week, a big thanks to Rick, you were there with the support-I don't think I could have finished that last mile with out you!  
The SJT 50K is the first week in March, gotta get in some long runs!  Next is Leona Divide in April.  Gotta win the lottery....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We Have "Weather"!!

Living in southern California means pretty good weather all year round.  Maybe some cooler weather, a little rain and snow. 
But, it seems the Chimera brought a weather pattern that is wetter than the previous year.
So...this south Orange County gal has had to learn to love to run in the rain!  and mud!!!
Running in the wet hasn't been so bad.  Once ya get going it's very nice to be cool.  But the trails...
All the nice trails are closed! 
I understand we need to let nature heal herself. 
I just can't wait to get back and listen to all the froggies!