Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Way Too Cool 50K 2011

Ran this last solo last year.  Was such a pretty run, signed up again for 2011. Was lucky enough to get picked again.  Running partner Rick was also selected, so we set about getting the time off from work and trying to get in a few miles before the March race day.
Getting the weekend off was almost as hard as trying to get in training miles.   Working the graveyard shift with minimal staffing leaves one with limited possibilites when it comes to covering days off.  After some complicated trading, I did manage to get the weekend off.
Now, the training...
We entered tthe SJT 50K as the training run for WTC.  30 miles the weekend before another 30 miler...And we tried to run SJT with very little mileage under the belt because of all the rain and trail closures.  We managed to crawl through the first loop-19 miles, before calling it quits.  Could we finish WTC?   Doubts started to fill my mind.

The week of the race, we anxiously googled the weather for Cool, CA daily. hourly...
Rain predicted for the drive up, and even on race day.  Highs in the 50's, lows in the 40's.  brrrrrr....
Started packing by throwing in whatever cold weather running gear I could find (Chimera-ish).  Tights, fleece, gore-tex, drymax etc.

Friday morning, as I drove to Rick's house, I listened to the radio, tuned to a news station to get traffic updates.  Tsunami warnings?  Earthquake in Japan??  Whats going on??  I call home and warn Matt about some tsunami warnings.  We'd gone to bed early, and missed the evening news on Thursday night.  As I  listen to the radio, I miss the turn off to Ricks street, and drive around a bit lost for about 15 minutes.  Finally arrive and ask him what he knows about the earthquake.  He's in the dark too, and wonders if he should wake up Karen.  We decided to start out and monitor the news, get more info before getting too worried about this.   There were tsunami alerts for parts of the OC coast.  Waves were expected to be small, and of no real consequence to us.  My thoughts turned to my coworkers-we work for a hospital on the coast of Newport Beach, I think we are one of the official tsunami shelters-I give the lab a call to see whats up.  Happily Benny reported that nothing much is going on.  Business as usual.

Saturday morning, is beautiful!  Perfect weather for a run!!  Mostly blue skies with starting temps in the upper 40's.  Most runners start with jackets and long sleeves, but peel them off during the first mile.
The new course had us running an 8 mile loop back to the start.  We hit  our first water crossing there.  Remembering last year, I didn't want to waste time keeping my feet dry, so plowed through the middle of the creek while others tiptoed across stones.  Drymax socks are the BEST!!
This race has some of the prettiest trails.  We ran on singletrack that passed along waterfalls, creekbeds and the American River.  Rick didn't think he took many pictures, but after he downloaded them, found he'd taken almost 100.  Every bend in the trail led to another picture perfect treasure.

one of many waterfalls along the course

31 miles of muddy fun!
After getting through the half marathon point at round 2.5 hours, thinking we may get finish under 7 hours, we hit the first set of hills.  The first hill was a killer, even more so because we'd just finished a nice long gradual downhill, running almost all of it. It was like hitting a wall.  Literally.  It went straight up.  My muscles didn't know what to do.  Calves started to cramp.  Hamstrings took notice too.  I took an endurolyte.  Then another endurolyte.   This helped a bit.  We saw an aid station worker after what seemed like an eternity.  she shouted out encouragement and said the AS was just a little farther up.  I asked her if this was the last hill.  After a pause she said yes, there would be other hills, but by far this was the worst.  So, somewhat energized I used whatever reserves I could find and finished this "mountain" .   At the GoatHill AS we refueled and continued on. To another hill.  and another hill.  and yet another hill. So much for finishing under 7 hours.  We are now just looking at making the 8.5 hour finishers cutoff!!  Luckily the last mile was pretty flat, and we crossed the finish line smiling and running. Our time 7 hrs and 48 min.

A successful end to what was a pretty eventful week.

Rick has Old Goats 50 miler this week.  He ran so easily at WTC, I think he will have a great race.

Oh, Congrats to Lauren on completing the SJT 50K!!  You're one tough lady!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Still Alive and on the Run-A TRR recap

Just took a look at my last post.  August of 2010!!  How to update without typing a book?!
The TransRockies recap could keep me sitting here for hours, reminiscing, getting out a paragraph or two...

But, since it is where I left off, I will try to get in a short but sweet story of an amazing run.

We pulled in to Buena Vista at 10 pm, after a long but beautiful drive from California.  After waking up, we planned our day, take an easy hike up Hope Pass to acclimate to the altitude and then recuperate.
Finding the trailhead to Hope Pass was harder than we expected.  It took a trip to the outfitters , where they spent a good deal of time with us, to locate the trail.  Two new running packs later, up we went to 12,500 feet.
It was absolutely beautiful.  I can't even put into words how amazing the views climbing up to the pass were.  Previewing this hike turned out to be a great idea.  Not only did we get in some altitude training, we could take our time, enjoy the scenery and take photos.
We finished up and headed back into town just in time for dinner.
The next day was check in.  Got lots of swag and a pretty good dinner too.

Day 1.  Easiest run of the 6 days.  Lowest altitude and least amount of climbing...still over 20 miles of running.
Another great dinner, more impressive swag  and the ceremony for the winners of the first stage.  They also gave a short preview of stage 2.  They suggested bringing lots of cold weather gear, could be rain, snow or all of the above at Hope Pass.

Day 2.  Hope Pass again.  We all load into buses and take the long snaky road to the trailhead.  They check our gear to make sure we have windbreakers, gloves etc. in case we hit "weather" on our hike today.  Less than 15 miles, but all up and down.  It's a scramble after the gun, everyone running up the trail.  Less than 2 miles in, the masses thin and almost everyone is gasping for air.  Rick and I know whats ahead and keep up a slow and steady pace.  Head down and panting, I struggle and let Rick get ahead, he makes it look effortless, even running in sections.  No time for pictures, glad we took some a few days earlier!  At the pass, chug some heed and start down the backside, to lower altitudes and air.  It feels like a long run to the lake and the finish.  Quads and hammies are starting to complain.
All in all, we had a great day.  The weather was best!

Day 3. Another long run, over 20 miles, with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain.   We start out in historic Leadville.  After breakfast in the town gym, we head out through the town find the trail and start climbing.  This will be the way we will start all our mornings for the remainder of the race.  A big ass climb up to god knows where then a  long quad busting downhill to the finish.  All peppered with such beautiful views it almost takes away the pain..almost.
We are starting to recognize other back of the packers.  Some are better climbers, others bomb the downhills. We pass each other many times through out the hours-words of encouragement shouted out as we slog out the miles.  We survive day 3, was a hard one for me.  I just want to rest up for day 4, another short mileage day, but steep.

Day 4.  It felt like we were going straight up for miles.  This day feels even harder that day 2.  Michelle Barton explained it felt harder because it ends up steeper at the summit.  Steeper, and no air. But it was a stunner at the top!  Clear blue skies, above the treeline, we could see for miles.  Then there was the videographer at the top...capturing us in all our glory....we skipped dinner at the camp that night, preferring to try out a local Thai restaurant, but heard we made the nightly video recap...apparently we were a big hit, became celebrities for a day!!

Day 5.  It sinks in, we are gonna finish this.  We look at the map for stage 5, more up and more down.  13 miles of up and 13 miles of down with a finish in Vail. This was a strange run.  Alot of wandering around through the ski area.  One section is short but very steep, I have to slide down on my butt, in view of the everyone at the next aidstation!  Much running on access road through out the ski resort.  Finally a long switchbacky downhill into the town of Vail.  Steve promises us steaks at dinner tonight, even with the altitude playing games with my stomach, I feel as if I could eat a steak or two.
Dinner doesn't disappoint! It was a great spread!  The mood is light, unless we get injured or sick, we will finish.

Day 6.  We start up(what else is new...) and out on a pretty singletrack through a grove of aspens.  I think this is my favorite so far. It levels out for a few miles and rehash the last few days as we run easy.  It's a stage of rolling hills and more ski lifts.  At some point we exit the trail and run through the town of Beaver Creek.  It raised a few eyebrows as we colorful and somewhat dirty runners run through this upscale ski resort, with Transrockies workers holding up traffic for us so we could cross streets.
We think we are near the end of the stage, as we climb out of the city up thru some trails behind some really nice homes.  I call Matt(who is meeting us at the finish with Karen) to let him know we are probably on the home stretch.  They are there having lunch waiting.    Well, that last little stretch look us almost an hour longer that we expected!!  But we finally cross the finish.  We did it!!!! Pictures and hugs!
An over the top banquet that night.  We wanted to look good leaving, so Matt brought me heels and a dress to wear at the dinner.  Rick wore a suit!  People didn't recognize us!  So much fun!

Thinking back, I'd have to say, I am very proud of myself for finishing this.  I think it was the hardest event I'd ever finished.