Monday, November 11, 2013

The Tale of My Spring and Summer

This year has been a whirlwind - to say the least. Life has "just happened," and I didn't get much of a chance to document it.

Let's see. My spring was wrecked with a reoccurrence of mono (re: extremely dizzy in mile 8 of zane grey 50. re: I've never dropped from a race at mile 8 before).

(Photo by Megan Powers Galope)

So, I spent the summer in self doubt, questioning my ability as a runner. Note: this really isn't the way to go into a hard 100k (Waldo) and turn around two weeks later into an even harder 100 miler. But I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, ended all pity parties, and began my 100-mile, 100-degree summer training. 

Just when the heat was getting to me, I got the opportunity to spend a week up in Flagstaff for the Adidas XC Camp. The week was truly awesome. On any given day, as a mom and partner, my days are spent fitting running in (between meals, pick-up, quality time), and that week was all about running. I struggled up at altitude but found my groove towards the end of the week. 

(we even had a spectator trip to the Grand Canyon at the XC Camp)

Then, once again, a bump in the road. Tendinitis. Ugh. I took two weeks off running. Two weeks at a time when I should have been ramping up for Waldo in a big way. Two weeks that I couldn't afford. Two weeks. 

So it was time for plan B. I was still going to try to give Waldo my everything, but I had to be honest with myself - I wasn't ready. So, my new goal was to give everything I had at Waldo, and use it as a good training run for Wasatch. 

Waldo weekend was awesome. We traveled with the Danek's. We stayed in a pretty cabin next to the lake about 10 minutes from the start. 

The race was beautiful. It was one of the most scenic and awesome races I've ever done - and let's not kid ourselves, I'm not traveling over to Europe every other day, but still. I hung on to third all day - fairly far from first and second. Towards the end I started having nutritional issues (i.e. not being able to pee), but I took care of myself and got back on track to run hard at the end. 

Was I happy with the race. Yes. Considering I ran all of 40 miles in three weeks before the race, I was immensely happy. Could I have done better? Absolutely. I want to go back to Waldo and have a better race. Besides - who wouldn't want to hang by the lake for their pre-race meal. 

Now back onto the beast of Wasatch. It's a bitch. The last 25 miles are hard as hell, and in the 2.5 weeks between Waldo and Wasatch, I was working on recovering. Wasatch is all guts, and I was all in. 

Sabrina and I made the drive up Wednesday night, and rolled into SLC on Thursday morning. I got some much needed sleep Thursday, and we rolled into the start. 

The race was hot - highs of like 85-90. I knew I could work with this. The beginning 30-40 miles I spent conserving my energy. When I entered the "canyons," I started to work hard. I passed a bunch of people and managed to get myself into 2nd female. Then it hit - I overworked myself. Heat+Altitude=Suckfest. I put myself in a hole and a deficit. 

So, I think I was down about 7 pounds at Lamb's. Great. I walked out of Lamb's and took it easy for a while - really hoping to get up on calories and nutrition. Although in hindsight, I should have really tried to push it - the last 25 are slow and hard. When I hit Brighton, I fueled up and headed up. I was still in 2nd. Then, on the climb up, some woman blasted up the climb in front of me, talking, laughing, in great spirits. This was not me. I was trying - trying to turn myself around, but it was tough. In the last 25 miles, I had some moments. I couldn't see, I couldn't catch my footing, I couldn't catch the woman in front of me. Dang. I'm glad I had James with me. 

As we turned unto the last 6 miles, I was amazed. I was doing this, and I was doing this about 3 hours faster than last year. The road turned smooth, and after and slight uphill we cruised downhill. However, I was being chased, so I cruised faster. We clicked off miles at what seemed like sub 7 pace (Although it was probably more like sub 10). I finished. 3rd woman and felt wrecked. Run Wasatch and watch that race tear you inside out. 

The end of September came, and I got to marry this handsome guy:

A week later, I had a minor surgery (silly ovarian cysts), and I was out of running for two weeks. Sometimes I'd wake up with a dog on my face. But I did get to watch Breaking Bad from start to finish. Win. 

Now I am ramping my miles up - slowly, but surely. I am in the throws of November - which for a grad student and teacher mean the throws of hell, but I'm running consistently. I'm looking forward to the Rocky Raccoon 100 - where I'll try to qualify for Western and PR my 100 miler (which is currently 23:47 and was at the AC 100). 

And that, my friends, is the story of my long Spring and Summer. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Old Pueblo 50M

Two weeks later.

After Moab, I basically wanted to crawl in a hole. Starting the year is tough, and at some point I'm going to have to accept the fact that I've been doing alot of stuff. However, I'm still maintaining that busy is my constant, happy state of life.

I went to work on the Friday before Old Pueblo very anxious. I wanted to race. In fact, I love to race. It's when a switch flips in my head from slogging along to "game time" that I get all giddy and excited, especially for a 50 miler.

Last year, I committed to doing this classic Arizona race because, well, I live in Arizona. I also have strong opinions about building the strength of fast female ultra runners in Arizona (and fast ultra runners in Arizona - Hell, I pretty much don't understand why Colorado and Cali have such a stronghold on ultra running - Arizona's a magical place for trail runner - politics, not so much). So, one of my big long-term goals is to up the antie on these races for ladies. I want to put up fast times so that I'll invite healthy competition among women. Let's face it, I'm a big softie for lady ultrarunning. So that's the nuts-and-bolts of why Old Pubelo.

Now, on to the fact that I got schooled! Polly Campbell, who I saw for all of a mile of the race rocked it. I chased her ghost and ran my race, but in the end, I didn't have the gusto she did. Not to worry, though, I like second place - it gives me something to work towards!

Old Pueblo is mainly run on Jeep Roads in Southern Arizona. If you pay attention, you'll see the famed Windmill (if you blink, as most do, you'll miss it). There are some awesome views of wide open spaces.  That said, Old Pueblo isn't Zane Grey; it's not my brand of gnarly. There, I'll say it - I fulfilled my desire to race Old Pueblo.

(Photo by Lisa Kravetz) Check out these views!
My goals for the race were to run a smart, even race (and hey, there's always the whole winning thing). I started my first week of Zane Grey training on Monday, and Coach Ian advised me to not "race" OP. Psshhh...Ain't nobody got time for that! I kid, but I did listen and resolved to just run smart for a while - and hopefully turn on the heat at the end.

Running into the sunrise was awesome! I chatted up the first 7 miles with another runner, but after that, I ended up on my own. Running the first 15 miles was rather uneventful. Once I hit the downhill section, I thought "perfect" time to fly. I was running in second, but, I've learned that second isn't a "hopeless" position. I mean it can feel like this in a ultra - it's hard to tell where people are, but I resolved to just keep working hard. As I started moving downhill, I hit the ground - hard and started gagging (I hit my stomach). Luckily I didn't vomit, but my tummy wasn't happy with the tumble. I continued downhill and hit a fork in the road. No ribbons. Hmmm. I veered left, and I'm glad I did - I guessed right. I hit the aid station and headed out to the windy road - slightly unhill - headed for the big uphill.
(Photo by Lisa Kravetz)

Once I reached the big uphill - this famed, awful uphill - I decided that mental things alone are real. Wait, what? Well, everyone said these miles sucked, but I decided they were fun and I would have the time of my life. So I did. I flipped in some music and enjoyed my suffering - passing some guys in the mix. I thought I was gaining on Polly - and in the end, it was good to stay in this positive mindset because it reality, she was killing it.

(Photo by Lisa Kravetz)
I ran consistently strong uphill and through the AZ trail section, but the heat and the day were weighing on me. I forced down some calories and continued on, alone. As I approached the next aid station (appx mile 38), I fell HARD in front of 4 big guys. Imagine - poor "little girl" falls in front of macho guys. They insisted I sit at the aid station. I asked them kindly to fill my water bottles so I could be on my way. We had a little healthy banter back and forth, and I tricked them to fill my water bottles and ran off. Oops - I'm sure they weren't happy, but I thanked them. After all I had promises to keep and miles before I sleep.

The next 8 miles were blah. Alone, hot, blah. Yuck. I started to get the second place jitters. I knew I was fading, but man, I knew I needed to keep it together - someone could be right behind me. So, I ate, and ran, albeit slowly. I found a friend for a couple of miles and his chat kept me moving and upright. Once we hit the last aid station, I grabbed some coke and sped off. After all I was running scared! I moved as quickly as I could for the last couple of miles - trying to maintain my second place and gain any time that I could.

(Photo by Lisa Kravetz)

Hitting the finish line felt good. I held on to what I had and put together an okay day. It wasn't my best performance, but I had some small victories mentally. So all in all, I was happy with my day.

(Photo by Lisa Kravetz)
Big shout out to some peeps - Lori, Carson, and Carol for putting up with an extra person in their caravan. Carol for lugging some of of crap around. Sabrina, Seth, and those darn awesome kids for being there at the start and finish line (and for getting my but home). Lisa Kravetz was also amazing!! She was out there being awesome and taking pictures! Also, big huge props to Adidas - the support has helped my show up to ultras with some awesome gear and a bit of a swagger!!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Moab Red Hot 55k, oh and it was (a) hot (mess).

So, basically part two of my story goes something like this: I came, I ran, I sucked. (anyone know how to say this in Ancient Greek?).

I knew the race was a giant crap shoot from the beginning. Between having mom duties for the weekend and being ill, I didn't exactly set myself up for success. Although, my motto in ultrarunning is to deal with the hand you've been given. And that's what I did.

We travelled up with Shea Tinder and Norah (a very very cute two year old). Shea was super nice, kind, amazing to watch Alexander while I ran and did all the obligatory running things. So much gratitude here.

Race morning I woke up pretty out of it. I hadn't been sleeping all week, and I just felt wrecked (and, ah-hem, feverish). Whatever though, I'm an stubborn as they come, and I opted to race. Screw it, what else was I gonna do, right?

I lined up an the start line and met some of my Adidas teammates that I hadn't had the chance to chat with before. Then all of a sudden, it was go time. From step one I felt sluggish. I tried to tuck in behind the infamous Mr. Ian Torrence, but soon everyone faded away. I sucked air uphill and my lungs were on fire. Yuck, yuck yuck.

I rolled downhill fast, trying to play catch-up, but unfortunately, that would be my day - just hanging on to what I could. When I got to the second aid station, I wanted to drop. But, that's not how Paulette 2.0 rolls. I've learned that even the bad days teach us something (was today gonna teach me that I was a dumbass for running?).

At some point, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and just ran fast. I was clocking 7 minute miles on those flatter section. In my head, I though - maybe, I'd catch someone. I passed people, making up for the time I spend sulking between miles 9-15. But my groove just didn't last.

Here's the dumb part. After rolling fast, I started feeling feverish, hot, cold chills. Basically my body went all schizo. The last 10 miles of the race was just plain awful. At one point I so hot I went shirtless, and the next second I was freezing. Just plain dumb.

So finally I rounded the corner and sailed downhill to the finish line, thinking - thank god I'm done!

Big kudos to all my teammates, Emily, Trent, James, Josh, Ian, and Brian. Those peeps brought their A-game and went big. AdiUltra represented, and it was cool to be there. I wish I could have brought more than my D- game, but soon.

The race was awesome. The views were epic, and the after party was bumping! Chris Martinez puts on a good show. A win for the ultra community!

Next up Old Pueblo 50!! Game On!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

This should be blog worthy..Racing Sick?!?

So goes my week.

Monday -
Visit desnist for tooth pain. He suggested I follow up with an Endodntist and said the words "root canal."
Visit Dr.  for a yearly physical. Blood drawn, but the nurse had a rough time finding the vein. End result, fun bruises on my arm.
fun run with BFF Sabrina in the Phoenix Mountian Preserve. It started off rainy, but oddly enough, it ended up very sunny. This weather is very kooky in phonenix right now. Clearly the highlight of my day.

Tuesday -
Visit Endontists. Emergency root canal.
Put shoes on and plan to run.
Lack of food and ammount pain derailed the run.
Call Mr. John and ask him to "pretty please" come home from work early.
Entertain said child while Mr. come home from work.
Eat mushy noodles.
Read Plato (not sure if I was coherent enough to read).

Wednesday -
Plan to run.
Decide I feel like crap.
Sit in bed and watch "spy"movies.
Go to class.
Run fever.
Come home.
Run fever.
Sleep very little. Try to read.

Thursday -
Wake up with fever
Teach class.
Visit Endonditist for follow up. All is okay, despite the fever.
Attend office hours.
Attend class.
Feveroushily pack, plan for the trip.

Friday -
Wake up feverish again.
Shop, laundry, and clean.
Pick up Alexander.
Drive to Flag.
Pick up Shea & Norah.
Drive to Utah.
Arrive at Hotel at 11pm.

So, I made the choice to run the 55k. Should be super interesting. I'm stupid, I realize this, but maybe I'll surprise myself.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Proverbial Question

When people meet me and get to know me better, they learn of the different mes. I wear alot of hats; I run in a couple of circles.

I'm in grad school right now. It's amazing how people (instructors, other grad students, administrators) see grad students as being very, and in turn, how singular grad students present themselves as singular- notice I didn't say they they are; rather, there's a fiction many grad students create, possibly to make themselves appear professional, possibly out of fear. I once tried to keep up this fiction, but it's difficult; in fact, it's damned impossible and frankly not important. The mes start surfacing. Someone in class learns I'm a mother. Then, funny, a week later three other mothers come up to me and say, I have a son too! Odd. Why would I be hiding that I'm a mother?

(My favorite people in the world! Why would I hide these guys!!)

In another week, someone learns I have a full-time (and a part time) teaching gig (most of the grad students are funded with TA ships that give them a stipend for teaching 1-2 classes a semester). Then's they start with the "wow," how do you do it?

But, as many of you know, we haven't even gotten to the crazy part. I'm an ultra runner. I train approximately 12 hours a week and run races upwards to 100 miles. First when people learn of it, I get the script of questions that people run through when wrapping their head around the idea of ultra running. Then, people start to put it all together think I'm crazy because on top of full and part time work, full time Phd student, and raising a child (with my BF who happens to work 70+ hours a week, meaning I'm the parent on call most of the time) "in my spare time" I run lots and lots of miles over terrible terrain and often in shitty conditions (re: summer heat in Phoenix). 

Then there's the proverbial question "how do you do it all?" It's the hardest question to give a full and complete answer to. I don't have a professional nanny nor is my son's father (my boyfriend) around a ton. I have friends that can help and do (and they are AMAZING), but I try to be careful when I ask them because I hate to feel like I've overburdened friends. Family members are around, but increasingly "unavailable" on the weekends (my parents have wage-labor jobs and work on the weekends) when most people put in their long runs. Seriously too, asking someone to watch my kid while I run sounds selfish, and there's that whole mommy guilt thing that goes into even getting up the nerve to ask someone.

As far as my work, I have a great schedule. I make nothing in my job, and in turn, I get a good schedule and am blessed with the ability to take/pick-up my son from school most days. My work, however, happens beyond the classroom. I'm a college instructor, so I may only be "on campus" for 20 hours a week teaching, but as we all know, teaching doesn't stop in the classroom. Then there's that who full-time grad student thing. 

Okay, I'm already tired of reading this, and frankly it sounds like I'm whining. That's not my intention here. This is the best response I have, though when people ask me that question because my other response, when truly thinking from a logical-logistical side, is "I don't know."

(grey hairs just thinking about this)
This week I zeroed out three days, and I'm in full on training mode. After beating myself up with WTFs? and OMGs? and doubting myself, I had to sit back and say shit happens. Shit happens in life, shit happens in school, shit happens in work, and hey, guess what if you don't think shit happens in 100 miles, then you are lying!!

Some of the best, most resilient ultrarunners are people who are able to roll with the punches. I've yet to have a perfect race or a perfect training week, nor do I think I ever will. Obstacles come up in all races, and it shouldn't be a reason to stop or quit or even stop trying.

I guess this is where sifting through my busy life helps. Living in the moment and deciding what to to about the task at hand is a good skill to cultivate. I'm faced with decisions and obstacles everyday, and this, for me, is all a part of the ultra training. 

So instead of getting all stressed out and reciting all my life commitments when someone ask me "how do you do it all?" maybe I should just say because "I have to, and because I want to."

(and come on, regardless of what's going on, the end of a run is deeply satisfying)

 (And at the end of every rainbow (running adventure), there's always coffee!! screw pots of golf)