Monday, November 28, 2011

A traveling fool...

Well, it's that time of year - holidays, tons of student papers...and more importantly, it's been beautiful in AZ and there have been too many races for me to keep up with!! This post might be a tad rushed...

Part 1: What happens in Boulder City...
Fairly soon after the Javelina night run, I took off with the Aravaipa boys and my friend Sabrina to the Bootlegger 50K, put on by Ian Torrence and Josh Brimhall.

The trip was fun, but the race was brutal. This was my longest run since AC100, and I didn't really have my game face on. I slept in a van by the crevase and awoke in the morning feeling groggy but ready for the challenge.

That terribleness is me, climbing up one of the climbs at bootlegger. This post could also aptly be title "A string of bad pictures."

The long and the short of bootlegger goes something like this - went out "fast," was briefly passed on the second loop, contemplated how much I cared about being passed, decided I did care, resolved to run the climb hard, paid for this later when I realized I hadn't eaten anything, was very thankful to see the "Brian Tinder" aid station, ate 3 gels at once, ran hard, put hands on knees and yelled "fuck," and finished $500 and a growler of beer richer. Whew!

Bootlegger is a great race, and Ian and Josh (vets of the sport) did a bang up job with everything. No complaints on my part, except maybe I should have trained harder :). I would certainly like to return next year. I think the female Course Record is "soft." LOL!

Now we move to part two of the series, which I would like to call Pacing.

The weekend after bootlegger, the Javelina Jundred took place in the quiet hills by the fountain (i.e. Fountain Hills). I was slotted to pace ultra-studette Liza Howard, who quietly told me in an e-mail that we should go for course record. Sweet, I knew I needed to pony up and run hard.

Dang when I saw her first lap time that morning, I think the soccer mom next to me saw me quietly mouth "fuck." Oops. Yeah, I had soccer mom duties in the morning and ultra-pacing duties at night, so I was a bit concerned about how everything would play out.

I picked up Liza at mile 62, and she was in the kind of shape I expected her to be: tired, but moving right along. We didn't chat much because, well, she was focused, but I enjoyed her company. Funny, I run mostly alone, so it was a good "training run" for me, and well, I was able to help-a-sistah-out.

Liza was all business here!!

Nothing super crazy to report. Liza was even keel and just trying to get her job done, and I was there to grab a couple of cokes at the aid station. It was nice to accompany her on her journey. I was hoping to hang out with her longer after the race, but stuff happens and I'm just glad that she's doing okay.

Moving right along: Part 3: The long weekend

The following weekend, I hopped freighter to East Mesa (kidding, I just drove in my special blue, liberal, vegan mobile) to run the Pass Mountain 50. Nick and Jamil gave me bib #1, and I think they were being kind or overzealous or just crazy because somewhere in the middle of the run, I was going to reach 90 miles for the week. I hadn't tapered or rested or anything, so I was running on tired tired legs, and I felt it on the second climb.

Beautiful scenery, but another bad, bad pic - but check out those quad muscles!

I struggled on the second loop, which was totally planned :). But I managed to eek in a sub 5-hr 50k and a sick trophy.
Nick Coury and I...see I take bad pics.

Anyone notice the blood down my leg? Yeah it's my first fall in like a year...rookie mistake.

The next day, I accompanied Rachel James on her long run. She's preparing for the Tuscon marathon. Well, we ran on roads, and man, that made me very very tired, but I managed to round out to 105 miles for the week. Not too shabby for a working mom!

Bad news, good news
Over my travels, I did get some crappy news about a potential sponsor. I got my hopes up, which I shouldn't have. But it would be really really nice to not have to explain to John why I bought another pair of shoes!! LOL! I'm cute enough, right? I'm working on getting super fast...someone's got to show me love, right? I promise, I won't disappoint.

Well, I did get some good news...IM GOING TO MARIN!!! North Face Endurance Champs San Fran!! I did have to do some begging to get John to be okay with it. Afterall, it's not like anyone else is paying for me. I'm super excited to tow the line with the big wigs!!

So, whew, those are my travels for now, hopefully I have some good stories about marin!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Javelina 12 hours...or maybe just 2ish hours....

A couple weekends ago, I attended the Javelina 12 hour run put on by my friends at Aravaipa running. What a fantastic event. I ran it in the past. Actually, I ran my first 50 miler in 2008 when the event was just taking off.

My plans were to run between 1 & 2 laps. I knew Rachel James (Dave's wife) was gonna be there, and she wanted to run 2 laps. So, theoretically, we could run together. Would be fun, right? I was also super antzy. I hadn't raced since Angeles Crest, and while I wasn't considering this a race, I still had all those pre-race jitters. So I had all day to think about this - between house cleaning and soccer.

We arrived at McDowell Mountain Park without too much stress (sorry again for making everyone stop so I could go to the bathroom). Friend Seth and I would be running, while Sabrina and John partied it up.

(Race Director Nick Coury gives some last instructions before take-off, courtesy of Aravaipa Running)

It was light outside for about the first hour. I took off, and in the parking lot, there was Rachel. "Come on Rachel," I exclaimed, but she was filling bottles and getting ready. Hopefully she would catch me, and then we could share each other's company in the full-moon darkness.

(Man I was having fun! Photo courtesy of Aravaipa running)

I ran about the first 5-6 miles alone...then, I had a shadow. The guy behind me turned on his light and completely messed up my line of sight. I'm pretty calm, but I was having trouble seeing. I finally said something, and he rectified the situation.

A couple minutes later Jay Danek caught up with me and we chatted. Fun to catch up with him. However, I was starting think about all the times I had been out to this trail. So many races, runs, and memories. We finally reached the aid station, but my thoughts were overwhelming me.

(At the aid station, Photo Courtesy of Aravaipa Running)

I was having fun, but something was holding me back. Remember that thing people say about ultras being mostly mental? It's true. You can't fake a "good mindset," or you can...but it's got to come about and actually be a good mindset. I hung out at the aid station maybe 5 or 10 minutes (I don't know, I wasn't wearing a watch), until I forced myself to continue on.

My thoughts were filled with memories of old and new friends and moments we've shared on the Pemberton trail during various training runs and races. The Pemberton trail isn't my favorite, but I've got history here. It's the site of my first ultra, 100-miler, and 50k (I do things backwards). I've lost friends and gained friends after running here. Tears, laughter, vomit, pain, sadness, happiness...yep, I've gone through all these things here.

I wasn't in a dark mental place; I just had a lot on my mind. Sometimes that makes me want to continue running to work it out, but other times I just want to be done. That night, alone in the dark, I just wanted to finish up and sit with friends. Afterall, this is what this event is about - community, togetherness, etc. Everytime I've ever raced or ran here, the underlying reason had to do with friendships.

As I rounded the last couple of turns to the finish, I cleared my head, very confident that I was done with one lap but also very happy! At the finish, Sabrina and John were waiting, along with the numberous members of the araviapa family.

Fun, race. Fun times, and hey, I apparently "won" too. LOL!

1st place overall 25K , 2:19:16

Monday, October 10, 2011

Matazals 18 miler

YES! YES! YES! I love running, and well, trying to resume consistency between a busy life and AC 100 recovery has been tough. However, after a week of consistent training, I'm happy to report...stella's go her groove back.

The Matazals race is a fun grassroots race put on by Honey and Debbie (local ultra ladies). The race starts uphill on Jeep roads for about 9 miles (like 3k feet of gain). Then hits the famous AZ trail for 5 miles of gnarly overgrown awesomeness! The last couple of miles ends on Jeep roads. Views are amazing. Running is amazing.

Now's also my realization that I need to shed some pounds. Beer, pizza, and fried food do not boast well for the non-runners body (and, arguably, even the runners body). So it's time to lean up and train up...the mountains are calling and I MUST go!!

Future races this year include, tentatively, the Cave Creek Thriller, Pass Mountain (one of my favs), and maybe maybe the NF 50 in San Fran (which does not boast well for my "diet").

Monday: 9.5 miles of canals
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 10ish miles of mountains with Jamil and James
Thursday: 6 miles of canals
Friday: 12 miles of canals
Saturday: 5 miles of "dog" running
Sunday: 18 miles of sweet sweet trail running.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

AC 100

When I first started dreaming of ultra running as an onlooker (from my humble beginnings as a triathlete), I admired a friend doing Western States. It seemed cool, impossible, challenging, but not for me. I was interested in something else. Re: AC100. I sent a friend an email about it, and he kindly informed me that it was harder that WS100 - and then reminded me that I had yet to finish anything over 18 miles (Javelina Jundred 08 was my first ultra on the books). I'm never really good and leaving these types of comments alone. One sure fire way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't.

I have a confession to make, I've kind of been obsessed with Angeles Crest 100 for some time. I've read countless race reports touting the race as "low key" and "back to ultrarunning's roots." The fires in 2009 kept me out of the race, and my own inability to sign up early kept me out in 2010. I feel as though I have a connection with the race that I simply cannot explain. Driving through the Angeles Crest National Forest in 2009, and stopping in Pasadena on the way home from a long road trip left me longing for a return trip. I never got the chance to preview the course, train on the course, or even step foot on those trails until 5am on July 23rd, 2011. I was anxious.

I signed up for the race in January. Friends scolded me for not entering the WS100 lottery, claiming it would better my chances for future years. I have no clue if this is true, and I didn't care. I was ready for one California race, and my summer would be devoted to Angeles Crest 100 and my 6-year old son, Alexander.

Training went well, and without going into too much information (a girl needs her secrets, kidding), I vowed to work HARD. Hill repeats in 100-degrees, late afternoon runs in AZ summer, R2R2R, and countless trips to Flagstaff. Just as I though I was going to reach my breaking point, taper madness set in, and I went crazy, craving a long trips in the mountains. Patience...soon, I would get this opportunity.

The Race
So many AZ folks were there to race. Good friend Jamil said he would stay with me for the first 50, which was pretty cool (although, we ended up playing a game of back and forth the whole day - both too caught up in our own races to really commit to staying together).

(Jamil and I before the race)

I had the pleasure of ultra-running-stud, Dave James, as a pacer, and my own stud boyfriend, John as chief crew member.

(Dave, John, and I pre-race)

I knew I was in good hands! I had the race day jitters, knowing the day would end up being interesting. Sure, I wanted to win. I knew I had a shot, but man, 100 miles is a LONG way to worry about such crazy notions. I told myself from the beginning that I did NOT want to get myself into a race situation right away. When we took off, I was ready - ready for the day that presented itself to me, knowing that flexibility is a trait that is necessary in ultrarunning.

The run through town was awesome. I love little mountain towns. Getting up to the acorn trail was taxing, but at that point, I didn't care. I was in awe of my surroundings. I enjoyed so much of this first part that I don't remember talking to anyone in-depth or listening to music, I was just in the moment. Right before the climb up Baden-Powell, Keira Henninger approached me and exchanged kind words and a play-by-play of what was going on up front. The ladies race was brutal, and well, I didn't really want to enter it yet. I listened to what Keira said but didn't allow it to take me over. Then I watched her disappear up Baden-Powell. The climb was fun, as far as climbs go. Just nearing the top, I got a spook from Jamil. Running down Baden-Powell was one of the highlights of the day. I stayed mostly with Jamil, and we reveled in the beauty of the wilderness. As if that wasn't enough, we encountered a large group of Asian hikers that were so positive and supportive that it became infectious. Hearing "You Win" and "Good job" from 30 courteous and positive hikers left a smile on my face that just would not fade.

Dave and John were awesome with aid stations. I was in and out, quickly, which was one of my goals. Dave, who should have been sleeping, was like the bouncing tigger all day (mom reference - if you don't have kids google it). He kept reminding me that the race wouldn't begin until I picked him up at 52.

The middle of the race is kind of a blur. There were more encounters with Jamil. I got to run some miles on the road and through the canyons with Keira, which was cool. This was the second race we've done together, and it was nice to relax together. I also remember clicking off some miles with the infamous Jimmy Dean Freeman. I felt good most of the day.

Mt. Hillyer was probably a bit of a low point. It was hot, and I was in need of some encouragement, but it felt like days until I would reach John and Dave. Keira and Jamil left me in the dust, and I choose to hike slow, trying not to get too dejected. I did relatively good, but somewhere maybe 2-3 miles from the 52 mile checkpoint, my IT Band started to kill. I decided right there that my body would not dictate this race. I was ready to trash myself. I could take the rest of the year off to rest and get fat, but dammit, this was my race.

At 52, I sat down, needing my socks changed and I saw Lizzie! That was a big boost. We spent some good miles up in the mountain training, and she's a great person to see 52 miles into a race. I also got to pick up Dave, which was nice. Little did I know, I'd better have my game face on, because Dave was about to push me - time to see what I was made up.

Dave quickly got me up to speed on eating, hydrating, and getting some electrolytes. He established a schedule and helped me follow it. I watched him float down the poodledog bush ladden trails, cautioning him about the plant's danger. Funny, he said he was just about to pick some and give it to me! My IT Band was still hurting. I finally fessed up to Dave what was up. He said, IT Band issue weren't real. He said I need to eat, drink, and replenish my salt. He said this would eventually go away. And, for the most part it did. Ahh...the power of positive thinking.

It was time to race. Dave and I caught up to Maggie Beach, who I learned was in second place. It was nice to finally meet her. She was super positive an encouraging. After taking off from the aid station, we would have some rad downhill running for some time where I was able to regroup. At one point, I had to go to the bathroom, and those trail don't really have bushes to hide behind. I'm not modest, so I risked it. Soon after I was in position, I heard discerning footsteps. It was none than Jamil and Mike Carson...OMG. "Don't look," I yelled, as I laughed. John later told me a funny comment Mike said to someone that said I was pretty. Is it wrong that I find his comment completely appropriate? :)

Back to the races. When the trail started to go back up, I though, good...time for an uphill hike, but Dave was ready to put me in high gear. I, somehow, 60 miles in was no completely ready to succumb. I learned the value of a pacer that day. Mentally, Dave pushed me at times that I would have otherwise turned inward, doubted myself, and untaimatley this could have cost me my race. Once I finally stopped doubting his method, it was so easy - put your head down and follow. We ran uphill, downhill, flat, fast, slow...sometimes he tricked me, saying I needed to "stretch" out my legs and work different muscles. But it worked. I never went to that dark place of doubt once during the race, and I think Dave had something to do with this. Getting to Chantry was a blast!

At Chantry, I changed shirts and bras. John and Melia (Jamil's sister) tried their best to keep me covered. I even shouted, "Don't look, I'm about to take my top off." Of course, I looked over and some guy was staring at me, but I guess that's the nature of 100 miles. I wanted to get out of there quick. If I stayed too long I would start to get sad, thinking about how much I would miss John. So, Dave and I quickly sped out of the aid station and up Wilson.

I felt really strong up Wilson, and I even passed someone (we would go back and forth all night). Getting to the aid station felt like forever, but I was just going aid station to aid station at this point. Once going dowhill, Dave remarked on how fast I was going through the dark, single track, and honestly, I was just worried that Keira would catch me. You see, we passed her going into Chantry, and well, all of my friends thought it best not to tell me this info. Funny, but appropriate. So, I would glide down the smooth trails and trip on the more technical stuff Dave kept reminding me to "stay within myself" but this was becoming harder and harder. I just wanted to be done! The anticipation of the finish line was killing me.

Again, nothing really memorable besides some sightings of Nick and Jamil and a few too many bathroom breaks. All of this would change in the last four miles. I told Dave that we had 1:20 to reach the finish line for the sub-24hr finish, and that I wanted it. He assured me we would. I also had the thought of Keira and Maggie in the back of my head. Two miles into a pretty technical and crazy trail that went up, and down, and around streams, and I began to think this was out of my reach. I resolved that I had to do everything in my power to keep my lead and go sub 24hrs. Then, Nick and Jamil flew past me! WTF :). I kid, because, I had a healthy desire to finish before Jamil - but he was moving fast. The last two miles were crazy. I need to go back in the light and see for myself, but I was begging Dave for a road! LOL! When we hit the street, I felt like I was going sub-6 minute miles, but I asked Dave and he said we were only about 9 of 10. I was worried that we still had a while to go, luckily I saw the finish line, and well, about 100 yards from the line a guy passed me. Really?!?! Oh, whatever!

Yes, I did it! It felt sofuckinggood to finish a 100, and run a solid race. In some ways, I was prepared to have any kind of day, but I had the best day, and my finisher photo showed it.

I felt great, and then I left the finish all went downhill from here. I'm gonna spare the details, but I do have some people to thank for helping John and I get on the road that day.

The New Balance rep was awesome for giving me some electrolytes. I was underprepared. Jimmy Dean's crew helped me with some nourishment. His wife, Katie, made a special trip to the store for me...LIFE SAVER! The Courys went to Chipotle and got me white rice for a very upset tummy. So, after a long recovery, and trying to sleep/socialize in a hott park all day, John and I headed home, feeling worn out and renewed.

John and Dave were amazing as crew/pacers. What a great day in the mountains with friends.
Finish time: 23:47, 1st female, 7th overall, and this awesome piece of hardware:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Leona Divide 50 - Sweet, Sweet So Cal Trails

So after the recent disappointment at Zane Gray, I regrouped. Said my peace with a bad day and threw in in a basket - or at least I tried. Actually, I think that this year's Zane Gray will follow me until I can properly correct it (re: Zane Gray 2012). After being coaxed by Dave James and James Bonnett, I registered, and I also looked at the prize money as a good incentive for running a fast time. That's an odd thing to say because I don't run for the money, and in fact, most of the time I spent too much money to run (what can I say, I love short running shorts and turquoise shirts!). So, I entered into new territory - fearing that this would be some no-turning-back-point, but I still had a tad bit of level-headedness to me. The "prize" at the end of any ultra is an intimate between the mind and the body - a deep sense of accomplishment, so a bonus would be the allure of money. Would I always start running for money? Silliness. Regardless, I wanted to run - if nothing else to find the pure joy that I was lacking from Zane Gray.

Leona Divide is an excellent race put on by the amazing (and beautiful) Keira Henninger! She was very kind to let me in the race. The course is chalked with stunning, green, so-cal trails. Beautiful views and smooth trails - not the abject, sullen rockiness of Zane (which is also appealing to me). The hills at Leona can be relentless, but they are also forgiveable. Just the mid-semester escape I needed.

John and I drove up the day before, stopping not-so-briefly at Native Foods, my favorite vegan restaurant in Cali (thus far). We arrived at our ghetto hotel-motel-holiday-inn at 9pm the night before the race. That 4am wake up call was going to be rough!

4am, green smootie, and we are off to the races. A close behind was Dave James, James Bonnett, and Mike Carson. Those boys were ready to race. The Lake Hughes Community center was the perfect place to have race headquarters. It's nice to have a warm refuge on a cold morning. After a couple of funny words by Jimmy Dean Freeman (I distinctly remember something said about a and some nervous laughter with teammate James Bonnet, we were off!

The race was fun! Uphills, downhills, winnding trails and general craziness. I settled in as third woman with the talented Michelle Barton and Aliza LaPierre looming in the distance. At one point, I told myself, this would make me very happy. I could be third and feel real happy about myself. I was enjoying myself. At the 50K turnaround, Michelle turned around, indicating that she was doing the 50K, and Aliza and I carried on. At some point I was right behind Aliza, and well, I learned some stuff to use in future races. Consistency is key in ultras, and everything I do keeps re-affirming this - training, race, nutrition. She was consitent...running uphills at a light jog, light strides, and I thank her for showing me this.

At the half way point, we turned around. I was still close to Aliza, but I was fading fast. The uphill out of the aid station was beating me down, and I was worried. I was now in second, and I was seeing the fading of dollar signs - which, again, was an interesting thing to put in the mix, so I held on. Shortly after I gained most of my stride back, but I was still worried. I was running fast, on pace to break 8hrs and PR my 50 mile by 1hr 22mns. With the hope of seeing John once before rounding into the last 8 miles, I was invigorated. We exchanged words and bottles briefly, and I had a job to do...get home!

I ran strong with the anticipation of that long downhill to propel me to the finish. About .5 miles to the end, I noticed my window of sub 8hrs was fading fast, and I kicked it into high gear. The finish came up so quickly, and bam! 7:59. Sub 8, second lady. I was completly satisified with myself. Just what the dr. ordered!

(Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Cordner)

After a big hug from an extatic RD, Keira, John gather our stuff, we had a quick bite to eat, discussed James Bonnett's return to running, and then we set off with the intent to meet Dave, James, and Mike back in Palms Springs at Native foods. What an excellent end to an excellent day.

When I reflect on that day, I can be critical - I can always improve, but there's no sense. In a way, Leona Divide 50 was a perfect race for me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Zane Gray 50 - Just Hold On.

Joyous, jovial, pukey, relentless, magnificent, ouch, jagged, uneven, hard, shitty, dumb, amazing, wild, tough, rugged, ravenous, demeaning, wet, hot, pretty, inconsequential...all of these, I believe, accurately describe my Zane Gray 2011 experience.

Last year, I would have only used the positive adjectives. Going from the DNF in 2009 to the 3rd place female in 2010 felt awesome. The 2010 race, for me, went well. I remember feeling bad in the first 25 and feeling better in the last 25. Fast forward to 2011, and well, I remember really feeling shitty most of the day, except for a couple of stretches in the first 17 miles and about mile 17 to 28. 33 to 50 was a total sufferfest, but that's a story soon to come.

Days before
we headed up to Washington Park to escape the city. Myself, Alexander, friends Sabrina and Seth, their 5 children, their springy dog Bea, and John & Jessie dog (who showed up later that evening). After setting up, we spent a relaxing evening by the fire, followed by an equally relaxing day of adventures in hiking, trekking, and stream jumping. All the fun came to a small halt when John, Alexander, and I travelled into town for packet pick-up.

I felt
nervous, unprepared, uninterested, excited, apprehensive. I guess it's all par for the course, but for real, I could have used another week to prepare. I was bogged down with work/camping prep all week, and I didn't really give my mind the space to think through Zane. So, as I threw my stuff together the night before, I mainly felt unprepared.

was early. I tossed and turned, dreamed some crazy dreams. When the alarm went off, I gathered the entire family - John, Jessie, and Alexander - to the race start. Sorry guys. We left at 4:10 from Washington Park, but really, we should have left much earlier. As I was running up to the start at 4:52, I could hear "Paulette Zillmer & Dakota Jones" on the loud speaker. Shit! Luckily for me, I made it in time. Not so lucky was my stomach, as in a frantic rush to leave camp, I forgot to put things to eat near me. So, I had 2 pieces of gluten free bread and 1 mango-coconut water for breakfast. Mostly under 300 calories, which, I don't know if this was good or not.

Not my usual fare
would best describe how I ate while camping. Veggie dogs, veggie burgers, less fruit and veggies than normal and a general increase in processed foods. I'm a food purist, so I think in the end, my tummy was a tad upset with me.

5am guns, just a faint "go"
That's how RD, Joe Galope started the race, and I tucked in front of a pack (not the lead pack). The first 8 were alright. The climbs were already difficult, but I was saying to myself that last year sucked until mile 25, you'll be fine. Just hold on. "Just hold on" would be my somewhat mantra all day - meaning different things at various times. My light wasn't working, and I could hear anxious people behind me (which really annoyed me - if you want to go, just go ahead). In fact, I think I heard someone say "she doesn't even have a light." Thank you captain obvious, but please go ahead. I didn't say this, but I was thinking this. So grumpy so early...hmmmm. I'd better fix this. I stopped off to the side of the trail to tie my shoe, and what felt like 50 people passed me. See, they were more anxious than I was...I had patience, and my thought was "just hold on" I'll be seeing them soon.

8-17 mostly felt like shit.
My body was not performing in the way my mind was asking it to. I was climbing slow. On the upside, though, I would loose people on the slow climbs, but I was charging downhill (mental note, Mt. Ord repeats!!!!). So, there's another thing I was trying to say to myself - play to your strengths. Somewhere near the aid station, I saw, what I thought was the third girl, and I started feeling better. I think this was Sarah Dasher. She looked serious and determined, so I put my big girl pants on and told myself to suck it up. I could tell she was gaining on me on the climbs, but I would create a space on the downhills.

Washington Park - a little boost from the fan club.
Fully in race mode now, my strategy was to hold on to what I had and play to my strengths (heat & downhills). As I pulled into Washington Park, my entire crew greeted. Sabrina filled my pack, smiles from the children behind, a "what's up" from Nick and Jamil, hugs from John, and the most encouraging memory from my son Alexander.

"Mommy, I want to run with you," he said. "I will help you win."
I replied, "Buddy this is a long hard race." At this point, he took my hand and started running with me.
"Mommy, I want to help you win." Shit, I thought. This is downright cute, and I might disappoint this little guy. As we got to the falls, tear rolled down both our eyes. He because he couldn't continue, and I because, well, damn this was so inspiring from such a little guy. I needed to run a good race for him.

Head secured, back in the game.
17-25, I was just trying to hold on. I think at this point I was in 3rd. I had two women behind me - close behind me. I could hear them on the climbs talking. I held on...barely.

At 25ish (where ever that evil, misleading aid station was), I saw Jeremy and we chatted it up for a tad. I was feeling good for the first time ALL day!! He said he ran with Diana Finkel for a while, and well, I was on a mission to do the same. I ran strong all the way until about mile 30. I was eating, hydrating, and replacing electrolytes ALL day. Everytime I had a problem, I tried to fix it. I stayed on top of the nutrition game, but who knows what happened. At mile 30 I became violently hungry and started feeling nauseous at the same time. I forced down 3 gels, 2 salt tabs, and 1 ginger chew in about 10 minutes of walking. I told myself to hold on - this will pass. Well, 3 miles later I felt the same...unable to really run the way I wanted to...I ran downhills, walked uphills and flats. I came into 33 dreading the rest.

Mental Breakdown at the Fish Hatchery
No part of me wanted to continue. I was done. I heard that Dakota Jones dropped, and I thought, "I should too." Everything was in my favor to drop - I get the rest of the day to spend with family and friends, they don't have to worry about following me around, and I can stop suffering. Good idea, Paulette. But I remembered Leadville, Javelina, and Coldwater. I don't want to be that person. I regret every single one of those drops. Being too much in the moment of suffering and pain makes you really make rash decisions.

I went through the motions like I was continuing the race. Filling packs, grabbing calories, etc. Just hold on. As I was leaving I said good bye to family and friends, and I started sobbing. John grabbed and hugged me, and I said "it's just been a hard day." The "It'll be okay," was affirming, and a took off trying to choke back the tears.

Nothing was pretty about this. Almost puking, crying, sitting on rock contemplating the distance back to 33, thinking about dark things and demons from my past, really wondering if I am "cut out for this," dragging my legs uphill, etc. I slowly made my way. At some point, Chip caught up with me. I was dead, done, toast, etc, but hearing the misery in his voice helped me. His "come on Paulette" really helped. I followed as much as I could. I was 100 yards+ behind him for a while. Just holding on - it was ugly, but somewhere in the last miles of 33-44, I decided that I would finish.

I started thinking about the kids. What would I be showing my son if I just quit? For him, this was so easy, so matter-of-fact. Like a big, "duh mommy, you'll win." Then there was the Redden kids. They were excited to come to the race to - what if I bowed out, took the easy road home - how would this look? Sounds goofy to say, but I really did it for the kids.

Thank you Sabrina.
At 44, I filled my pack, grabbed some saltines, and picked up Sabrina, and we were on our way "home." I started feeling great! I mean not great enough to run at breakneck speed, but I had some pep in my step at times. You see, somewhere between mile 33-44, I kicked a log so hard that the top of it came off. Instant trauma to my big toe made it really hard to run downhill. So, we took it nice and easy. Run/walk/chat/repeat. Having her company was an amazing mental boost. I was happy to just finish, so really, I had no desire to pick up the pace. People passed, and I could care less. I was just holding on. About 100 yards from the finish, I saw someone who said the finish was 100 yards...I couldn't believe it. I was going to finish. Thank you Sabrina - without her, the last 6 miles would have been really tough. It was like a walk in the park!!

Couldn't wait to get back to my sleeping bag.
John and Alexander greeted me, and I was all smiles in the end. It was over, I did it, I held on. This year's finish was much more rewarding than last year's. Last year's felt easy by comparison. This year felt like I was running a 100! After a quick change, we headed back to the campsite where I would spend another stinky, showerless night! LOL!

I don't know what went wrong. Was it the race week nutrition? Was it camping with lots of little ones? Was my racing fuel sucky? Was it my training? I have no clue. I have things that I would do better next time - eating better race week, less camping stress (fun to do without the race, but I think it was stressful for the race), and training better on hills? I think there my list, but then again, Zane could have been a fluke. I've been training hard and keeping a difficult everyday schedule between family, friends, and hobbies, so perhaps my body is just adjusting. Many other, more talented runners had similarly crappy experiences at Zane, so perhaps the comos were out of whack! Next year, I hope to battle the demons better, realign the cosmos, and return to fight the good fight!

Thanks again to everyone (little, big, and four legged) in my camp - you kept me going more than you might know!!

I'll add some picture when I get home!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Making Lemonade...

After a pretty good training week, I've come to a hault, and I feel pretty crappy about it. Last night some plans feel through for this weekend, and I ended up on an eating binge. Shhhh.... It's 5:30pm, I haven't run today (yet), and there's a little man sprinting through the house screaming and building forts. I've been at this for hours on end without a "break." Yep, that's parenting! Only his dad, my John, works all weekend, long hours. Usually, I am lucky, and some grandparent saves me for sometime, but not this weekend. So if I am going to run, I have to make lemonade.

This seems like a similiar prediciment that a much more talented runner was in last weekend. She ran 20 miles on the treadmill. I think I'm going to try to harness this type of resourcefulness. I want to run today and run even longer tomorrow. So let's shoot for maybe 10 today and 20 tomorrow. Afterall, right, this is one of the reasons why I'm still participating in the sport - grit, drive, determination, whatevs. Someone who works and parents as much as myself might balk at the idea of sucking it up a little more, going that extra mile, to hold on to something that's mine - running. With me, the fear that this will somehow end is real. As the Tball games start, the playdates multiply, and the sicknesses pile upon each other, I, frazzled and frayed, think "something's go to give." In the end, it *might* be the running. I, vow, though, to fight the good fight, stay afloat, because afterall, it's really something too close to my heart and myself to give up.

And please don't get my wrong - I love my son and my family. I just hate the idea of a weekend with no real options to go run outside. I know many people do this, but this is not me.

It's me and this guy all weekend:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Race Report and A Recovery Day

In case anyone still reads this silly blog, I've posted a race report here.

Today, I watched my son read me a book that I read to him as a baby. Amazing stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Finding those climbing legs, nutrition, and thoughts in this "off" season.

I guess, I'm considering this the off season. Although it doesn't look much like it. I've been running 50-80 miles per week. I'm racing some local 50Ks, but I am refusing to let myself get seriously into a training cycle. Okay, the whole training cycle is kind of a joke for me, but for what it's worth, a training cycle usually looks something like - mountainous runs (consistently), good nutrition, and weights to further core strength and climbing legs.

What I'm doing now looks something like this:
  • Mountainous run, whenever I "feel" like it. I live close to the canals and greenbelt system, so it's "easy" to just run here. Let's face it, though, the canals aren't gonna get me up 3K feet in the wee stages of Angeles Crest. This week, I climbed like 8K total. I also live like 15 minutes from two mountain preserves - when's it time to get serious, I need to start getting my butt out there. 20K + per week should be a part of my AC100 training.
  • Nutrition on my runs is not working. I know this. I ran 18 mountainous miles the other day on 2 bananas and an orange, and I did NOT feel good afterwards. I had stomach cramps that nearly sent me to the hospital. To top it off, if I eat like shit during these long runs (and for me this means malnourishing myself), then I eat like shit for the rest of the day. When I get motivated (which needs to be soon), I need to start training with nutrition that WORKS. I'm not ever good at craziness on the nutrition front, but I need more consistency. The run, starve, and binge cycle does not work for me. All fruit does not work for me. Last year, for Leadville, I got really good at nutrition, and I think a mix of fruit and "processed" foods (chex mix) works - salt + sweet.
  • Core Strength and weights. I've always done a pretty "dynamic" weight routine. Two reasons: 1) Dynamic=energy boosting and fun 2) Leg Speed. So, I'm not quite Insanity or P90X, but I incorporate stuff like that. That said, I've gone very non consistent with this. I used to do 3 days a week at 30 minutes a day. Now, I'm lucky to do it once a week. I know this works, helps me hike up hills, helps with stability, prevents injury, but wouldn't you know it, I'm not doing it. Well, all this ends (with the weights at least) THIS week. I can go to the gym, or I can do some stuff at home. I'd still love to own at TRX, P90X, Insanity, or even a 20lb kettle bell, but I have to work with what I got. It's easy. Some nights, after Alexander goes to bed at 7:30/8pm, I veg on the couch for hours. Well, I could get my sorry but up at weight train for 30 minutes. 30 minutes!! Duh! Makes sense.
Common sense all these things are, but still, I don't do them. Why is this? Well, I think this time of year, sometimes all I can do is just run. School picks up, John's busy at work, Alexander is a lovely handful of a 5-year-old, etc. But, I've always done better with more. I like busy. My best accomplishments are the ones that make me feel like superwoman. Clean house, teach, cook dinner, do homework with Alexander, run, spend quality time with John, take dogs out, lift weights, and shower. On days where my list of accomplishments look like this, I feel great. It means I'm a success. I'm not just a runner that sits on their but all day "waiting" to run. I've done it all, gotten everything out of that day, and for that I feel amazing. So, here's to getting that feeling back.

Speaking of feeling amazing, I did the Pemberton 50K a couple of weeks ago (?). It was a night run, and my list of things to do beforehand was a mile long. All day, I cleaned house, ran errands with Alexander, had amazingly severe GI issues, dropped Alexander off at my mom's, and finally finally, I could race. It felt good to do everything while I was fresh, then go running, then go home and sleep (not just nap at 1pm, waking up and feeling useless). The race was alright for me, but some of my GI issues made my energy level really low on lap two. (See nutrition issues above. LOL!). But I clocked a good enough time for third woman - about a minute behind second and seven minutes behind first. If only I was well-nourished! Lessons learned!!
(Pemberton 50K photo, courtesy of Ian Torrence)