Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Cooked Bunny

Soooo, I meant to write a race report for Run Rabbit Run this past weekend, but it was my birthday and since this is the last time I'll (truthfully) be able to celebrate turning 30-something, I decided to go a little wild instead. I started my morning with a pumpkin pie latte, and I don't mean a little one, I mean the full 20 ouncer, which in Starbucks lingo is a "venti" because "large" is too vulgar of a word for snobby rich folks. I also just learned there is now a "trenta" option, which I am pretty sure is Italian for "I wish I could mainline caffeine." Anyway, while sipping my latte, I defeated evil, not just once but twice! The evil sudoku, that is. Then I killed a few zombies on the iPad. That evening a few of my running friends came over (because I don't have any other kind of friends) and we had soup, salad and cake. There was also baba ghanoush! Crazy, huh? And all of the partiers stayed past 7pm, on a weeknight and before a morning track workout noless! Move over Jenn Shelton, there's a new party girl in ultrarunning!

Right. So on to Run Rabbit Run...

With 100k Worlds finally getting cancelled once and for all, it seemed like I had a big hole in my schedule, especially after taking a lot of down time this summer. So what the heck, let's go to Colorado and run 100 miles in the mountains!

I think a lot of people expected more than I expected for myself after Western States, but mostly I was just hoping to have a solid run in the mountains and at least finish in the top 5 to be "in the money." But ten minutes into the race I was already hurting!

The race begins with 2,000 feet of steep climbing and I seemed to be working a lot harder than everyone else. As the huffing and puffing escalated, I snuck a peek at my Garmin: .76 miles. Are you kidding!?! F--- me!!

"Confidence, Atreyu. Be confident." I recently shared one of my favorite childhood movies with my kids and a (misquoted) line from the movie jumped into my head and stayed with me all day. No matter what, I was confident I could make it to the finish. Though I can't say it helped my confidence when I got to the top around 9th or 10th female and a cheering Dakota Jones saw me struggling and yelled, "Welcome to Colorado, Pam!" I do love that guy's humor, though.

Fish Creek (all photos from iRunFar)
On the downhill to Fish Creek, I felt like I found my groove and was running well enough to chase down a bright orange tank top ahead of me. I thought it might be Nikki Kimball, but it was a guy. I tried to stay ahead on the technical downhill, but literally took a face plant and banged up my chin and knee. I got up super quick, so the guy wouldn't think I was too lame and then immediately followed a drainage ditch into the bushes. So much for being cool. I let the guy pass me back and stayed behind the rest of the way down. At the AS, Bryon Powell told me I was supposed to keep the rubber side down on my La Sportivas, but I told him I was just trying to be like Lizzy Hawker, who also took a nasty fall on this section last year and almost dropped (before going on to win). I was 7th, but 2-8 were all pretty close and I felt like I was in the mix and was feeling good.

That lasted till we got past Olympian Hall and started heading up again. And that was kind of the story for the whole day. For all the climbing, there is a lot of very runnable uphill on this course, the so-called "douche grade." Normally douche grade is my best friend (does that make me a douche??), but not on this day. The altitude just took everything out of me and I could not get the air or the energy I needed to run uphill. Three times after big downhills I heard "You made up time" or "you are gaining on the girls ahead" only to lose it again on the uphills. Until the 12 miles of uphill from mile 70-82 just did me in completely. 
Sucking wind and "breathing like a porn star!"

Mmmm, Sprite. Not as good as Sunkist, but it'll do
I also had more issues with my stomach than I have ever had (with lots of super fun dry-heaving!) but it was very predictable and came on when I was red-lining it on the uphills . My stomach was the worst the two times I came through Summit Lake at 10,500 - the high point on the course (headaches, too, so classic altitude stuff). But at most of the aid stations I was able to get some food in (yay soda and Red Vines!) and so I don't think it was lack of calories too much that held me back. I just kept chugging to the finish, which never seemed to come! 105 Garmin miles after the start, I finally got there, feeling pretty worked over.
Oh my God, look how bad off I was at the finish!
I had a summer of fun without serious training and I don't regret it. Honestly, I don't think my fitness was an issue here at all. What I do regret is not putting more effort into the altitude acclimatization. Yes, I have a tent, but I only used it for ten nights total with a three day weekend off in the middle. I realize it seems stupid not to use it fully, but it is not as much fun sleeping in a claustrophobic humid plastic bubble as you might think. Plus Mac has this crazy romantic idea that married couples are supposed to sleep together, so it is not his favorite thing when I use the tent. Family and job make it near impossible to get out to the race a couple weeks early (at least more than once a year or so). But now I know: I am very affected by the altitude. I can probably get away with a little less training, but I can't slack in the acclimatization if I still hope to be in the mix.

Nonetheless 22:38 for a 105 (officially 103) mile course with nearly 20,000' of gain is not such a terrible result and I am really not that upset with it. Heck it's still more than seven hours faster than my 2012 Western States! I was frustrated that I couldn't use my uphill strength and I know I could do much better on this course, but overall I think I did a good job of managing the problems I had and running as smart as possible on that given day. I had actually predicted I would be 5th going into the race knowing that I wasn't as focused as many of the other ladies in the field and I live at least 4,000' lower than most of those same ladies. It is hard to be too disappointed when the winnings more than cover the costs for a beautiful weekend in Colorado. And fortunately for me, there will be no altitude to deal with on the track in Arizona!

A big thanks goes out to Fred and his amazing team for all their efforts. Fred really has a vision of making this a race about the runners, putting on a high level events for the elites but making the finish goals of the non-elites just as important, if not more so, especially for the first timers. I think the staggered start is an awesome idea because it really allows you to interact with a lot more runners on the course. So much so, that I didn't miss having a pacer one bit. This is a challenging course (did I mention the altitude?) but it has great scenery and it seemed fairly easy to crew. Speaking of crew, I have to give a big shout out to Tom, who detoured around the floods of Boulder to come out and crew for me. He did an awesome job even when I wasn't the most cooperative eater. Thanks, Tom!

If you are looking for a fall 50 or 100 miler, this one is a good one. Happy trails, little bunnies!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unbreakable Abs

Liam was playing with Mac's stretchy band when he declared, "This is my karate belt, and I call it Unbreakable!" Then after a brief pause he added, "well, I know Unbreakable is really a running movie about abs, but I call this karate belt 'Unbreakable,' too."

Running movie about abs??? Actually, probably not too far off.

Liam is venturing to the top bunk for the first time tonight. I will be only half sleeping, listening for loud thuds from his room. I hope his head is unbreakable.

As for Run Rabbit Run, I was definitely not unbreakable. The altitude did me in. And while this was not a focus race for me, I certainly was hoping to do better. Or at least feel better. I hope to get a race report up soon.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ultra-Running Anniversary!

This weekend marks my 5 year anniversary since entering the sport of ultrarunning at the 2008 McKenzie River Trail Run 50km. Ultrarunning is such a major part of my life now, sometimes it is hard to think it has only been five years. At the same time, I still consider myself a student of the sport and there is still so much I want to do that I feel like am still a newbie! To date I have 48 "official" ultra finishes, but I have been out for a >26.2 mile run almost 150 times! It's funny that I spent most of my life thinking a marathon was a LONG way to run and now I am signing up for five 100 milers in the next twelve months.

To celebrate my anniversary today I went for a 10 mile run around Salem with a good friend at a very mundane 8:35 pace. And then I ate a lot of jelly beans, and I mean A LOT. Not such a great day from a nutrition standpoint, but otherwise a pretty good day.

One thing that made it so nice was the weather. After two days of storms, we got the sun back. I told my kids to go play outside, but they weren't in to it. "Can't we just go run on the treadmill instead?" they begged. Seriously?? Whose kids are these anyway?!? I used to train on the treadmill all the time; now I dread it. But both kids ticked off a mile.

This weekend is also Mac's 3 year ultrarunning anniversary as he too was initiated at the McKenzie River Trail Run 50k, but in 2010. His weekend activities were a bit more appropriate for an ultrarunning anniversary as he was off competing at the Volcano 50 - a rugged 50k around Mt. St. Helens with 8,000' gain traversing lava fields, major landslides, and a blast zone. The winner didn't even break six hours! Mac ran a 8:43 for a solid mid-pack finish. Today he says he is ready to retire from ultrarunning!

Redefining technical trail (photo FB steal from AJ Klausen)

While I doubt this'll be his last ultra, Mac is standing firm that he'll never do a hundred miler.

"You know why I don't want to do a hundred miler? Because I don't ever need to run for more than eight hours."

"Well, nobody needs to run for more than eight hours."

"Yeah, but I am smart enough to know that."

Well, at least we have one smart one in the family!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

End Of Summer

Labor Day passed, so I guess that's the unofficial end of summer. Guess the weather gods were paying attention because we had a monsoon on Thursday. Driving into the garage was like being on some Disneyland ride...or the carwash, depending on how imaginative you are.

Our new water feature!

Well, while Mac was on a mini-vacation shooting dove in the sweltering Arizona heat, I paid homage to Labor Day by laboring away in the sweltering heat of my own kitchen.

Tomato sauce, Pear/shipova sauce, basil pesto, canned corn and homemade mayo. 50 bonus points to anyone who knows what a shipova is (see below for the answer).
To balance out all those healthy vegetables, I also made some marshmallows because last Friday was National Toasted Marshmallow Day, and it seemed like it would be a shame to let that one go by without celebration
 Before we said goodbye to summer, we had a few last adventures - a trip to the zoo, a trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and for me, a fun weekend hanging out at Cascade Crest.
Meadow Mountain (mile 42) at Cascade Crest
I spent the day crewing for Amy Rusiecki with her death metal rock star tattoo artist cat blogging ultra-running friend. It was awesome! Come nightfall, I was lacing up my C-lites for a 47 mile pacing gig. Cascade Crest is probably the most beautiful course I have been on. Unfortunately, we missed some of the striking scenery because of the darkness, but sunrise on the cardiac needles was amazing.

Instilling my nerdiness in the kids at OMSI
But now it is back to school and back to the packed schedule: music, soccer, karate, 100 mile club, and maybe even Cub Scouts. The funny thing is, I actually train better with all of that going on and I am looking forward to getting back to a very disciplined routine after a fairly laid back summer. 100k Worlds are now cancelled once and for all (actually thrice and for all, but who's counting how many times we got jerked around this year??), so this fall I'll be focusing on getting back to top shape and getting in big miles for Desert Solstice in December. I am going the full 24 hours and if things go as planned that could mean as much as 35 miles farther than I have ever gone before - yikes! That's scary territory!
Back to school. If only they got along like this all the time!
But before getting "serious" about training, I have one more "fun run" in the mountains, as hinted to last post: I am headed off to Run Rabbit Run 100 next weekend. Steamboat is beautiful this time of the year and I want to support Fred and his efforts to put together a competitive, high quality race that still feels like  home-grown event. There's still time to sign up for anyone who is interested!

**BTW- Shipova is a cross between a mountain ash and a pear with firm, ping-pong ball sized fruits. I think they are a little mealy for raw eating (my kids like them, though), but the flavor is richer and deeper than a pear so they make a great sauce.