Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Rock 40

I went to this run knowing that I was out to have a fun day, burn some post Thanksgiving calories, and not race. It was just one week post JFK and I was still feeling pretty worn out. Red Rock is a substitute for The Santa Barbara Nine Trail Run. Luis (race director extraordinaire) had warned us this was one tough run. Lots of climbing and lots of rocks. Sounded good to me! About 3 miles in I felt a sharp pain on the top of my foot. I thought it might just be a tight tendon and it would work itself out. Well, it didn't and about an hour later I figured it was a stress fracture. I decided I would drop at the turnaround (20 miles). At least I got to see the whole course since it was an out and back! I got a ride back to the start from Stu Sherman (thank you, thank you) and met up with Kristjan back at the hotel. My foot was hurting pretty bad but we managed to have a great weekend in Santa Barbara soaking up the sun. When I got home Tuesday I went and had an x-ray. The doc said it was probably an old as in 3-4 month old stress fracture that had decided to really break deep at the race. Looking back I have been having foot pain for quite a while but always attributed it to something else and never got it checked out. Now I am in a cast for 6-8 weeks. No fun but lesson learned. I guess I will be well rested for Spring!

JFK 50

I flew out to Maryland a few weeks ago to run the biggest ultra in the U.S. I had decided to run JFK while in California last April running American River 50. Annette said she was going to run it so I thought it would be fun to meet up with her for another adventure in seven months. I also knew that my friend Devon would be there and Meghan (who I met at Where's Waldo) too! It would be another great Girl's weekend! I arrived Thursday around midnight and was told my luggage did not make it. I had a minor freak out because my shoes, orthotics, EVERYTHING was in that bag. I stayed that night near the Baltimore airport with the hope my bag would arrive in the morning. It did and Saturday I was off to Hagerstown. Devon told me where a good little natural foods store was so I stocked up on goodies, picked up my race bag, visited with Annette and met Devon and Meghan for dinner. The next morning I was up dark and early to get to the race start. This race was very similar to American River except the climbing and trail section are in the beginning of the run instead of the end. The trail section was different than trails I am used to in Washington. It had big rocks covered with leaves. I managed to twist my ankle a few times and fall twice. I was trying to keep track of who was in front of me but during that trail section I think I was passed by four women. I figured I was in about 9th place. Not what I wanted but ok considering the field and the fact that there were over a thousand people running this race. Once I was on the path along the river I felt like I could pick up speed and really get going. I think I was able to run that 26 miles in around 3:20. In the last 10 miles of the race I passed five women and came in fourth place behind Devon (course record, oh yea!), Meghan, and Annette. The four of us (and awesome Coach Howard) went out to dinner that night and celebrated a great day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

R2R2R Girls Weekend

I spent last weekend with three amazing women celebrating Krissy's birthday with a South Rim to North Rim back to South Rim run through the Grand Canyon. The total distance was about 45 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Standing at the rim of the Canyon is beautiful but to be able to experience it with this run was spectacular. It truly made me feel connected to the landscape. We enjoyed stopping to take many pictures, had a run in with a BIG ram, ate snickers and drank lemonade at Phantom Ranch, took a couple dips in the river, and visited with other hikers out for the day. We started our day at sunrise and finished at sunset. The views were outstanding but my favorite part of the weekend was spending time with great friends. Ellen Parker, Devon Crosby-Helms, Krissy Moehl, and I created memories that I will cherish forever.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where's Waldo 100k and Pacing at Cascade Crest 100

Picture on top is the start of Cascade Crest 100 and bottom picture is Amy Sproston and me at the finish of Where's Waldo. The past two weekends I spent in the mountains surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. First up was Where's Waldo 100k. This is my new favorite race. I'm sure it is going to be one of those races that fills immediately if everyone who runs it is as impressed as I am. The scenery was incredible and the organization of the race was stellar. Montrail is including it in the Ultra Cup and USA Track and Field uses it as a 100k championship so it attracts some top notch runners. I also paced at CCC100 the following weekend. I had a great time crewing through the day, visiting friends, and pacing through the night. This was my first attempt at pacing and it really makes me appreciate the work Devon and Annie put in when they paced me at CCC last year and TRT in July. It is great to watch your runner succeed and to help them through the tough spots. Something was in the air both at Waldo and CCC. Course records were broken and times were FAST! I had a blast being a part of it all!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tahoe Rim Trail 100

I heard so many wonderful things about this race. The beauty, the runnable yet challenging course and the great support. The fact that it was a USA Track and Field Championship was a bonus. I was excited but extremely nervous to run at altitude. Yes, I am on the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team so you would think I would have no worries, but the mountains I run on in Washington State don't seem to go much higher then around 5500 feet. To run an entire 100 mile race between 7000 and 9700 feet would be pushing my limits. Things have been busy for me this year with nursing school, kids activities, running and life. The week I went to Tahoe I was in clinicals Wednesday and Thursday, left the hospital Thursday night to go to the school and take an exam I would be missing Monday, came home and packed, got up at 4am Friday to meet Annie at the airport, flew to Tahoe, did the race check in, and then got up at 3am to run Saturday morning. I finished around 8am on Sunday so yessireee...I am tired!

Annie Theissen and I met at Chuckanut 3 years ago. I immediately liked her outgoing go-get-em personality. Over the years we would visit at races and then this year I was talking to her after Chuckanut 50k and asked her if she wanted to pace me at Tahoe. She agreed! We talked on the plane the whole way to Tahoe reminding each other we would have to save some things to talk about during our run through the night.

When we got to Reno the temperature was 105. It was supposed to be that way all weekend. I think I had myself so freaked out about the altitude that the heat was not that big of a bother to me. We had a great time picking up race numbers and going to the pre-race meeting. We then had lunch with teammate Jim Skaggs and his crew of friends and then we ate dinner with fellow runner and pacer Rich and Linda. My tank was full for the weekend ahead.

5am Saturday morning I was off. It was already warm out and I felt comfortable in a sleeveless shirt. I was covered in sunscreen and wore my trusted First Endurance visor to keep that sun off my face. The sun had not come up yet but I decided to follow the crowd and not bother taking the headlamp. I knew it would be light soon enough. The group of 100 mile runners started with about 112 people and we started spreading out as we headed up past Marlett Lake ( 3 miles in). I was thinking this could be a fast course and I needed to be careful reminding myself I had a long way to go and the importance of taking it easy. The terrain was loose sand and scattered rocks (perfect for a good ol' Monica fall, which only happened once thank you very much). At mile 11 we hit the Tunnel Creek aid station and refueled for the "taste of Hell" portion of the race. This was a steep downhill that seemed to get hotter with every step. Then we had to climb back up to Tunnel Creek and get weighed for the first time. I was a bit nervous about my weight because of the heat and climb but when I got on the scale I had actually gained a couple pounds. I figured I was doing well on hydration. We then headed out to Mt. Rose which was a beautiful single track then backtracked to Tunnel Creek. We were now 35 miles in and I was starting to feel bloated. I was good about eating and drinking but I had not been able to pee. Sure enough, I gained another couple pounds. I was not held at the aid station but I was told to start taking in more salt and less water. I tried this as I made the climb to Hobart (mile 40), Snow Valley, and down to the start/finish (mile 50). By this aid station I was ready to have Annie with me. I had been taking it nice and slow (11.5 hours for the first 50) and was ready for some company. My stomach was giving me a hard time and for the first time ever I felt like throwing up. I just wanted to get rid of all that water, nuun, macca, electrolyte drink. I was starting to feel like I did at CCC last summer and I did not want to eat anything. Annie had set my watch to beep every half hour to remind me to eat and it was really starting to make me mad. The second loop was the same as the first only much slower and a bit more painful! Everything looks different in the dark and Annie and I even took a wrong turn during that second loop. We only went off track about a mile but that can be pretty frustrating when it is taking almost an hour just to go 3 miles! The great thing about this kind of course is you get to see the runners ahead and behind you on the out and backs. It was a lot of fun cheering for people along the way. Since this was a USA Track and Field Championship there were all sorts of rules regarding our safety runners. They had to stay back 10 meters at all times except in the aid stations. They had to enter and leave the aid stations with their runners. Annie had fractured her metatarsal a few miles into her run with me but I was unaware of this because she did not want to leave me without a pacer. That tough cookie ran the whole 50 miles on that foot and did not even tell me until the finish. I hope she heals quickly. What a selfless woman.

We came through the finish in 27 hours flat. I ended up 4th girl, 20th overall. Almost 50% of the field dropped. The heat, climbing, and elevation really got to everyone. The beauty and wonderful volunteers will keep everyone coming back for more. I am lovin my new buckle and may even go buy a pair of Wranglers!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Miwok 100k

Pictures taken at Miwok 100k 5/2/09 Results here:

The weeks leading up to Miwok I was not sure I would be running. I had nagging injuries since American River and I just kept procrastinating on making a decision about whether or not I would attempt it. I decided I would still go and volunteer if I was not feeling better by Friday. I arrived Friday afternoon and met up with Devon. She lives in Sausalito part-time so she was familiar with the area and took me to a great place for lunch and then we searched the city for a place to re-pierce my nose (my instructor for hospital rotations made me take it out and it grew back by the next day)! We then went to dinner with a group of Pacific North Westerners who were down for the race. The whole day I did not even notice my hip or knee. DECISION MADE!! I would run the 100k in the morning!

Devon picked me up at 4:45 and took me to the start (what a great friend). It was so fun to see people I have not seen in years and to meet people who I have visited with on Facebook but never met. I hooked up with Elinor and her Dad who came to crew for me again after just meeting last month at American River. They were AWESOME!!! They stood in the rain ALL DAY and always had just what I needed at the aid stations. I felt incredibly spoiled.

I have heard from many people that Miwok is one of the most beautiful races out there. Unfortunately, Saturday was not the day to see the views. I left the sunshine in Seattle and experienced the rain, wind, and fog of San Francisco. I was so cold that by mile 24 I looked at my hands and they were a lovely shade of blue. All I could think of was how good that warm shower was going to feel. I did enjoy this race despite the weather. It was fun seeing the front runners at the turn-around, the course was challenging yet runnable, the volunteers were spectacular, I had no stomach problems, and my body held up all 62 miles. Would I do this race again to see those views? Absofreakinglutely!

Monday, April 6, 2009

American River 50 Mile

Photos are top 5 women at AR50 finish. Results here.

I ran American River two years ago with the hope of placing in the top 3 and gaining an automatic entry to Western States. I had a good race but placed sixth so I entered the lottery again the next year. Didn't make lottery in 2008 so I figured I was now a two time loser which meant as long as I continued this crazy ultra-running I would be an automatic entrant for 2009. Then the fires of 2008 canceled WS and people on the two time loser list were shuffled through yet another lottery. Several months ago I was told I would be guaranteed entry for 2011. This is when I decided I would try for top three again at American River. I didn't tell many people that this was my goal because I knew it was far fetched but I also knew it was worth a try. I recognized at least 7 women on the entrant list who in my mind were definitely capable of top three. I figured I needed to run at least a 7:30 to even come close.

Annette Bednosky and I decided to share travel expenses and just have a fun weekend together. She flew from North Carolina and we met in Sacramento Friday afternoon. We picked up our race numbers (I was so excited to see I was #23), ran some errands, went to the hotel, went for a short jog, and then went to dinner. I had a half veggie sandwich and a cup of black bean soup (BIG MISTAKE).

Saturday we were up at 4AM and ready to hit the trail for 50 miles of fun! Annette's husband's uncle and cousin and cousin's friend came to the start and collected our gear. They had volunteered to crew for us which was just the biggest treat ever! Annette, Kami and I started the race together and ran probably the first 10-11 miles just chatting away. It was great to visit with them and even though I felt the pace was a bit fast the miles just flew by. About 12 miles in is when the black bean soup caught up with me. I said goodbye to Annette and Kami and made my first (of five) pit stops of the day. I was able to get going again at a decent pace and crossed the marathon distance in 3:20. Other than my stomach feeling upset I felt strong and within the right pace. I don't remember exactly when but I was passed by Jen Pfeifer and then around mile 30 Jenny Capel was running right with me. We visited for a while and then she took off up the hill. I was disappointed with myself for losing that 3rd place spot. The pounding of the pavement had started to annoy me, my stomach was misbehaving, and I was feeling frustrated. Once I started running on the dirt trail my mindset improved. I was reminded why I enjoy trail running so much and I convinced myself to get out of my funk. The last half of the race is on single track, gently rolling, fun trails. The aid stations were plentiful with crew extraordinaire always there cheering. I tried to keep GU and electrolytes in but was still making more stops than I wanted to for my stomach. I knew if I could just keep my present pace I would be able to finish in the time I wanted. I just enjoyed the trail along the river, pushing my pace as best as I could and then climbed the last 1000 feet to the finish. Even though top three was not in the cards for me I was thrilled with my time of 7:26 (5th girl). Two years older and 16 minutes faster than last time! As Annette said at dinner that night...."You really are meant to run TRT this year." I think she's right.

Thank you Julie for putting on a great race. Thank you to Annette's family for being out there all day with us. Thank you Annette for being you! It was a beautiful weekend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chuckanut 50k

Photos by Glenn Tachiyama

I stayed close to home this past weekend and raced in Bellingham, WA at The Chuckanut 50k. It had been raining all week and predictions were for rain on Saturday but we got LUCKY!!! It was a beautiful day with perfect racing temperatures. This year's race had over three hundred entrants, all ready to spend a day on a beautiful course with a little bit of every type of terrain. The first and last six miles are on the Interurban Trail which is basically a fast and flat dirt road. At about mile eight we head up a few miles to Fragrance Lake on a single track trail and then down to a logging road which heads back up for about another 3 miles. Once done with the logging road the fun begins. This is when we get to test our nimble feet on the Chuckanut Ridge. I have run Chuckanut five times and this was the first year I have been able to observe the gorgeous views from the Ridge. Usually it is cloudy up there and difficult to see. After several technical miles on the ridge we hit another wide trail and headed up, up, up. This is where the mud was. I was wearing my brand new La Sportiva Fireblades which were such a pretty shade of yellow! No more. Now they look loved and used. Speaking of the Fireblades they were comfortable right out of the box. The race was the first time I wore them. Not one blister. They felt light yet supportive on the logging road, single track trails, and the mud. When done with the muddy climb we reached "Chinscraper" which is a short (maybe a mile 1/2) steep climb. Then it was time to head down and back to where it all began. Thank you to Krissy, her Ma, her friend Porsche, and all the volunteers who made this race a ton of fun, safe, green, and well supplied with good eats.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A wet Napa Valley Marathon

When I was running CCC100 last summer I had this crazy thought. I decided I wanted to try and run a sub-three hour marathon. My fastest marathon to date was 3:00 flat and I figured taking a minute or two off that was doable. I also thought if I could be on the trails for over 24 hours then I could push myself for 2:58! I did the speed work, the long runs, went to crossfit. I ran Orcas 50k 3 weeks ago to give myself a final long run. I felt ready. I flew to Sacramento Friday afternoon after school, drove to Napa, picked up some food and went to the hotel to study. Saturday I spent the morning exploring the valley and I picked up my race packet. I was feeling more nervous for this race then I had in a long time. I think it was do to my expectations. I ate a great dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called Ubuntu (if ever in Napa check it out, it's wonderful). After dinner I returned to the hotel for some more studying and an early bedtime. Sunday was an early get up to catch the shuttle to Calistoga. It was pouring down rain and the wind was blowing. Thank goodness we could stay on the buses for the hour before the race instead of standing in the rain. Even with the weather the way it was Napa truly is a beautiful marathon. 24 miles of the race are on the Silverado Trail (road not dirt) which has gentle rolling hills and vineyards as far as the eyes can see. I ran the first half right on pace for a 2:58. I consistently ran between 6:40s and 6:50s. I felt good with my second place standing but I knew it was early. By about mile 15 I started feeling my legs get heavy. My times were slowing to the upper 6:50s and I was passed by a speedy girl who did not even look tired! I was able to hold 3rd place (3:03) but I was not able to hold my goal pace. It could have been I was not as prepared as I thought I was or maybe the rain and wind got to me. Maybe it just was not my day. Whatever the reason, in running just as in life, there is always a new day. I now look forward to finishing school and getting back on the trails!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Orcas 50k

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Orcas is the perfect example of why I enjoy ultra running and the crowd it attracts. This race, put on by James and Alison was not only held in a beautiful location with views from Vancouver B.C. to Seattle (yes, to see these views we needed to climb a bit), but the communication from the race directors before the race, the "greenness" of this event, the great support at the race, and the post race party made it one of my favorite 50ks out there. As for the crowd, and this applies not only to Orcas but to almost all ultra runs I have done, the people are what make it all worthwhile. There is nothing better then reconnecting with friends and meeting new friends at events. It is nice to be with people who share a love for the outdoors and an understanding of what spending a day in the woods can do for our psyche.

This is the second year I have run Orcas. Last year there was too much snow so the route had to be adjusted. This year, other than a little snow and ice at higher elevations, the trails were in phenomenal shape. The hardest part for me was the downhill. One of these days I will learn to be speedy and just let go when heading down. In true "fat ass run" style, there were only two aid stations for the 50k. I carried my Nathan hand held and wore my Nathan "Krissy" vest so I was able to carry all the gel and drinks needed for the 5+ hours I was running. I used First Endurance liquid shot which tasted great! I liked not having to open a new packet each time I wanted gel. My time was slower than last year but I think we climbed a bit more. I ended up 4th girl and 16th overall. Next up...Napa Valley Marathon!