Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
The first lap needed a headlamp for navigation and served as a warm-up. I was in 5th or 6th place behind a handful of guys, at least two of which were 50 milers. My second lap was significantly faster and I worried that I would pay for it later, but I managed to stay pretty consistent for the rest of the day. I moved up steadily throughout the day and finally caught the second place guy on lap four. The last lap was fun because all the 10kers started about 5 minutes before I completed my 4th lap, so there was a lot of new energy on the course for my final loop. Plus, the 10k back of the packers were really displaying their Halloween spirit and I traded a few laughs with several other decked out ladies when I passed by. Now why weren't there any guys or more ultra runners in costume??
The first place guy in the 50k was a 2:20 marathoner from Eugene (a town that seems to be over-flowing with 2:20 marathoners!) who was running his first 50k and didn't have any problems going 5 miles beyond his usual distance. He was definitely out of my league and kept me from enjoying an overall victory by pummeling me with a 3:21 finish. But I surprised myself with my pace and even ran my second fastest marathon ever (3:13) en route to a 3:51 finish time. My time was 8 minutes ahead of third and it broke the women's course record by 31 minutes. Mostly though, I am just psyched to feel like I am running well and enjoying it again!
For you gear and equipment types out there, here is a list of the high tech stuff that I wore to achieve my 50k PR:
- The Original Inc, 100% polyester dress in fluorescent orange. Surprisingly comfortable, though I'd recommend this for cold weather only as polyester doesn't "breathe" very well. However, when I run in tech fabric I usually smell like a homeless person by the end of the race (TMI??), but the polyester was stink free! I was pretty shocked by the washing directions: "dry clean only." Seriously, who dry cleans polyester?? Fortunately, it has withstood multiple machine washings with no ill-effects.
- A new pair of sock sleeves (aka Benmoes), K-mart, $2.00, some assembly required. I needed to combat the cold but not detract from the over look. I think the words "war is pointless" and the peace symbols on the converted socks added a special touch, tough it may be a bit of a faux pas to mix the iconic 60's styles of the go go girl and the hippie. But I figured I had a little bit more leeway since I was born in the 70's.
- Joe Boxer hot pink gloves (K-mart, $1.00). Classic ladies magic stretch gloves in a bright new shade!
-Hot pink hair band (K-mart, 3/$2.00), to match the hot pink gloves!
-Injinji knee high compression socks (Free Western States schwag)
- Spray painted (white) Brooks Adrenaline Shoes. As mentioned, this didn't exactly achieve the effect that I was hoping for, but even more disappointing was that nobody seemed to appreciate that I had sprayed my shoes. C'mon people, where is the love??
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
After AC, though, I knew racing was out of the question. I just don’t seem to have my “race legs” under me right now and I knew I didn’t want to just try to survive another race. I considered running with my husband Mackenzie (aka Mac, but I am using his full name in honor of the race!), but in the end I decided a complete break from running was in my best interest.
So last week I e-mailed the race director telling him that I wouldn’t be running, but that I’d still like my goodie bag.
OK, normally I wouldn’t care about picking up a cotton T-shirt, but this year MRTR was giving out Free Bottles of Wine! Now, I am not even that much of a wine drinker. But this was a Free Bottle of Wine, so I wanted it very badly. Plus, I felt like it would be super sneaky to get a Free Bottle of Wine from a race where I had Free Entry; I’d be achieving a Free Double Whammy! (Did I mention I am cheap??).
My parents graciously agreed to babysit the offspring, so Mac and I set off Friday night for McKenzie Bridge, two care-free cool cats, looking stylin' as we cruised down the highway in our mini-van.
We stopped at check-in, where I reminded them that I wouldn't be running, but still they just handed me my Free Bottle of Wine without any hesitation. They didn't even card me!
The exalted Free Bottle of Wine
After dinner, we headed to our cabin at Cedarwood Inn. We had a king sized bed and no kids, so you know what that means. That's right, we went straight to sleep without even reading any bedtime stories! Good thing, too, cause Mr. Nervous got up super early to pin his number on four different ways, fidget with his Garmin, and tape his nipples. It took me back to 2008, when the night before McKenzie River, I tried on four different sports bras and made swinging arm running movements in front of the mirror trying to decide which one to wear in the race, even though I had logged hundreds of miles in each of them.
On our drive up to the start, there were several insane people hitchhiking on the highway, but they were holding up race numbers, so we could identify their psychosis as masochism and not serial killer-ism, so we picked up our first hitch-hiker!! Woo-hoo - a lot of firsts going on this weekend!
We hung out with a lot of the Corvallis crew until the start. After the runners were off, I helped a friend shuttle cars to the finish. We got done just in time to make it to AS#1. We got to see the fast guys on their way back from the 1.5 mile out and back and everyone from about 10th place down going both directions, so we did lots of cheering. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave, my mini-van had become a medi-van as two runners had taken nasty tumbles in the lava rock sections and were out for the day. One of the casualties was my friend April who was keeping Mac company on the course when she rolled her ankle and ended up with a bad sprain (Mac was obviously charming the ladies right off of their feet). I hated to see her day end like that, especially since she was one of only three people (and the only woman) on track to finish all seven of the Oregon Trail Series Races, but I did really enjoy her company for the rest of the day as I crewed Mac, helped a few Salem friends, and cheered for runners.
We were befuddled by construction and running late from the injuries, so we didn't make it to AS#2, but got to AS#3 early enough to see all but the first six guys. Mac looked good, but was pissed about the five yellow-jacket stings he had taken in the last section.
On to AS#4. Mac still looked good, but he had lost his appetite. He kept staring at the AS food, but couldn't find anything to eat.
We skipped AS#5 and went straight to the finish to see many of the people we knew finish it up. Mac finished his first ultra in 5:49!! I can't exactly say his face was glowing with pride as he crossed the line; it was more like a pale green tinge with vacant eyes. But he did it and I am super-proud of him! You can read his account here.
Mac's efforts to become a ultrarunner kind of made my quest for a Free Bottle of Wine seem just a tad bit shallow and trivial. So when I got home, I gave my* Free Bottle of Wine to my parents as a Thank You for watching the kids.
(* - By "my" I really mean Mac's because we are married and what's his is mine. It may be shallow and trivial, but it is still a Free Bottle of Wine and I am not giving it up that easily! Besides, Mac has pride and self-satisfaction from MRTR, all I have is the Free Bottle of Wine!)
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
White River has been on my radar all year, but I didn't sign up until the last minute. I have been feeling so blah and tired since Western States, that it just didn't seem like a good idea to run another major race so soon. But somehow over the course of two weeks, my mind transformed this bad idea into a good idea and so I signed up. I knew I wouldn't be at my best, but I knew the course would be beautiful, I thought it might bolster my waning motivation, and I knew it would probably be the only major run between Western States and Angeles Crest. But in the days leading up to the race, I was still kind of dreading my decision - 50 miles is a LONG way to run when you are already tired! In fact, I was really looking forward to the trip more than the actual race, as I was carpooling up with Amy Sproston and Yassine Diboun, two awesome runners I was excited to get to know better.
Before the day started I told a few people that I would like to be around 8:30 on this course, but 9 hours was probably more realistic in my current state. Reality slapped me in the face as I finished in 9:00:47!
I had a few estimated splits in my head for 8:30 pace, but from the get go, I wasn't hitting them. Nothing ever went terribly wrong on the day, in fact, a lot went really well: my food and fluid intake was really good, I stayed pretty consistent, I only took six S!-caps (heat training kicking in!) and I moved up as the day went on. In fact, I started in 55th/7thF and moved up to 35th/5thF by the finish.
There was only one minor disaster and it didn't cost me too much time: With about three miles to go, I caught a toe on the very technical Skookum trail and I came down flat on my chest, knocking the wind out of me completely. Isn't a reflex to put your hands in front of you when you fall?? Was I really so tired that I couldn't even move my arms into a position to protect myself? Well, hey, at least I didn't break a nail. I came up moaning with every breath and had to walk for a bit (at least enough to add 48 seconds to my time, I am sure ;) ). As an added bonus, a mountain biker saw the whole thing and made a point of telling me how bad the fall looked. What a helpful guy!
Even with the fall, there still wasn't one thing or one section that went particularly wrong. I was just running about 3 minutes per section slower than I had hoped and those minutes add up after 50 miles!
Though my time wasn't as good as I would have liked, I still am really glad I went. It was easily the most beautiful course I have been on. I had a great time catching up with old friends and making new ones, and after two years of ultra-running I finally crossed paths with my college classmate, Greg Crowther. But what helped me the most was talking to people about recovering from a 100 miler. It was nice to hear that it was normal to still be tired and flat five weeks after putting yourself through the ringer! Even Meghan and Anton admitted that they had a hard time recovering after their first 100 and that the recovery has gotten faster with experience. Sometimes you know those things deep down, but still need the reassurance anyway.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
To most runners, DNS is the abbreviation for 'Did Not Start.' But as I settled into to the climb up to Escarpment and all the anxiety, jitters, and hype melted away, I realized I would be fine and that things would go my way; all I had to do was Do Nothing Stupid. And so that became my mantra for the day. Unfortunately, I can't say I was completely successful on that attempt, but overall I feel pretty good about my first go at Western States.
I tried to run as much as I could, but sadly that was very little. Poor Anne didn't even get a workout pacing me. Mostly I was just powerhiking. When I got to Hwy 49, I was in bad shape. Mac said my breathing was out of control. It wasn't asthma, it was just exhaustion. The cooler still had two unopened bottles of frappuccino (we started with four) so I got the impression that the hand held bottles Mac had been giving me before were very watered down with a lot of ice and that I hadn't really had more than two regular bottles. So I downed another bottle because these were the only things I could get down. Well, it turns out Mac was so worried about me that he went to a store in Cool and bought more. What an All-Star! However, I normally lead a decaffeinated life and am very sensitive to caffeine. I often use caffeine in races as a little pick me up, but between the 5 frappuccinos and the 40 or so ounces of soda, I had about three and a half times the amount of caffeine I have ever had on a single day in my entire life! I truly believe that is what caused my stomach to rebel. This was such a stupid mistake because the nausea made it hard to run and it kept me from eating properly and even messed with my electrolyte plan.
Right as we were leaving Hwy 49 Angela Shartel comes in. I cuss under my breath at first, but then I notice she looks really dazed and I can't really begrudge her for moving better than me, especially when I am moving so poorly. So right as we leave I tell her, "Hey, you and I are number 9 and 10. Keep it together for just a little bit longer and we'll get those last top spots."
Time to heed my own advice! I could give up one spot, but how many other women were closing in?? So I ran almost everything to No Hands, pushing as much as I could through the meadow and down the hill which probably means we weren't running faster than 13 minute miles, but it felt insanely hard. We got to No Hands and didn't see Angela. We blew through the Aid Station and started the very gentle uphill to Robie, but nothing uphill felt gentle to me and I had nothing more to give. I had to throw in walk breaks and as we went the breaks got longer and more frequent. About a mile in, Angela and her pacer come jogging by. My pacer starts to run. I jog for two steps, but I know it is futile. "Let her go," I say, "I can't do that pace." A half mile more and we get to the steep uphill. This is the only stuff I like at this point because Western States taught me I am not such a bad power hiker. And so over the last 3/4 mile climb we are gaining on Angela.
Mac met us at Robie Point and he is ready to run and chase down Angela. We are still gaining on the power hike section, but as it flattens she is able to run much more and faster than I am. I just can NOT run anything uphill at this point. I know I am in tenth, with no insurance policy anymore. I just have to get to the finish line. When the road flattens, I tell myself there are no excuses, you have to run everything the last half mile, and even though it is a dreadfully slow shuffle, I do. As I run I am constantly checking my back. At one point two lights come behind us and I freak out a bit. "You're both guys, right?" I ask them. One of them jokes in a fake high voice, "No, we are just masculine women." They say the next woman is close, but probably three or four minutes back. "You've got this," they tell me and I knew they were right. I knew I could run it in to the finish. Of course, that didn't stop me from looking over my shoulder another ten times!
I completed 100 grueling miles in 21:36, for the fastest 10th place time ever (by 31 minutes!). Say what you will about a faster course or moderate temps, but I am choosing to believe this shows the strength of the women's field this year. I am honored and inspired that I got to spend the day running with such amazing ladies and I am super excited that I get to do it again next year!
Lastly, there are lots of thank you's to give out: to my hubby Mac who was an awesome crew and who put up with my WS insanity for the last 6 months; to my pacers for keeping me moving; to my parents for keeping my kids over the weekend without resorting to TV or junk food - I don't even manage that!; to everyone who offered up kind words and gave me encouragement leading up to the race; to all of the amazing volunteers who completely pampered the runners; and to all the competitors for making this all happen and providing so much inspiration.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The day had its ups and downs, but here is what UltraLiveNet choose as the highlight.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Today had to be considered a mental warm-up for the race. Eleven hours in a car with a three year old who started asking, "Are we there yet?" thirty-five minutes into the drive is enough to test anyone's patience and mental fortitude!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
It's not been a secret that I'd like to finish in the Top 10 and come away with an automatic entry to next year's event, so I can have this much fun all over again! But that is not going to be an easy feat, as the field boasts an all-star cast and will most likely be the most competitive race all year.
On the women's side, I think there will be two separate races going on: a race for the victory and a race to round out the top 10.
I am grouping Nikki Kimball, Tracy Garneau, Meghan Arbogast, Joelle Vaught, and Devon Crosby-Helms up front, with Annette Bednosky as somebody else who could factor in.
After that I think there are 11 women with a solid chance for a Top 10 (I'd like to think I am part of this group) and then five more women who just might pull it off if they really throw down a good one that day. That's 22 women for 10 spots! Top 10 will not be easy to pull off and there are certainly no guarantees! But isn't the challenge part of the fun??
Oh yeah - I heard there might be some guys running at Western States, too. ;)
Also up for grabs is the Montrail Ultra Cup. Annette is way out in front but that is because she has more races than anybody else. Since only four races count and Western States has the most available points, the totals from everyone's three best races are:
Devon Crosby-Helms 159.25
Annette Bednosky 155.83
Pam Smith :) 155.17
Meghan Arbogast 154.70
Jill Perry 129.94
I am so honored to be in the middle of that group of ladies, but I will freely admit I had to run 12 miles more than anyone else to get there (points are proportional to miles run). But there is no option to add extra miles at Western States to let me compete in that talent pool! So I'll put myself finishing in 4th, just outside the money.
The fastest winning women's time this decade is 18:12. Assuming none of the ladies run faster than that, each point will be worth at least 10.92 minutes. That gives Devon a 37+ minute lead over Annette and nearly a 50 minute head start over Meghan. I don't know who'll be first to cross the line in Auburn, but I think Devon can stay within the spread to stay at the top of the scoreboard and win the cup. Jill is an amazing runner, but she is going to need someone to DNF (please not me!) if she is going to move up on the list.
This guessing and speculation is all just fun and games to keep me busy in my extra free time while I taper. ;) I enjoy it because I am over-analytical, but I don't plan to get caught up in it. When the gun goes off, I won't be paying any attention to the race around me (well, ok maybe a little bit...) and just run my race, my way.
I am a real foodie, mostly because I can't do more than about five GU's before I want to gag (even though my stomach is just fine). I don't know how the gelnivores are able to eat that stuff for 20 straight hours! I am pretty much able to eat anything as long as it still tastes good to me. Mostly this ends up being a lot of "junk" food, the same things that are NOT allowed in our pantry and that I try to keep my kids from eating!
The nice thing about the real food camp is that the stuff is cheap. My two favorites: Rice Krispie treats ($12 for 54) and fruit snacks ($10.50 for 80). I can get a year's worth at Costco for about the same amount I'd have to spend on gels for one race! Also, being a real food eater, I know I can pretty much rely on aid stations for food. I love it when an aid station has home baked goodies! The down side is that some of these things (especially fruit) are a little harder to pack and carry on the run than gels. So my stash will be a mix of gels, bloks, and Costco/aid station snacks. I don't pay much attention to the content/sugar type/macro nutrient breakdown in my food. I just concentrate on getting the calories in and figure whatever sounds the best is probably what my body needs at that point.
So my fueling plan boils down to no plan at all! If it ain't broke...
Off to Costco!