Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Monster 5K

Another chance to get out and exercise in this beautiful fall weather. Today was the inaugural Monster Gym 5K in Grass Valley. Pat was still at work so I decided to cart the kids around the very hilly paved loop run in the double jogger. I weighed both kids and the stroller before I started and it was a little daunting when the total came up to 95 pounds! This is the same loop my "mom's group" used to walk after having our first babies and we were trying to get back into shape and enjoy some social time with other adults. It's a 0.7 mi loop where half is uphill and half is downhill. The front wheel on my stroller rubs on the brake so I disconnected it and just before the race was questioning my decision. 95 lbs is hard enough pushing uphill, it's also tough to hold it back on the downhill.

At the start

"Here, eat this, this might take awhile"

A nice turn-out of about 30 people started the run at the top of the hill where we ran around a cul-de-sac before starting the first of 3 loops. I didn't have much of a warm-up because Caitlyn wouldn't get into the stroller until race time. She wanted to run with her mom. I knew this race wasn't going to be about time, just enjoying the adventure with my kids. Felt good on the downhill but then it wasn't long before people started passing me on the uphill. Brutal! I was the only double jogger runner and I think people thought I was nuts. I certainly did. Got lots of cheers each time we went through the finish area with teenagers handing out water to runners. The finish didn't come soon enough and I was shocked when I looked at my watch: 22:50, a PR! Wait, that can't be right. Michelle, the RD, confirmed it. She shorted us a lap so we only ran 2.4 mi instead of 3.1. (Everyone got shorted, a little miscalculation). That's ok, I was thrilled to stop when I did. I still averaged 9:53/mi which I'm happy with considering everything.

Getting the BBQ's going after the race

After the race, runners were treated to a wonderful BBQ with tons of food and goodies and awards. I must have been the only female 30-39 because I won first place! They also had a competition for best halloween costume and that honor (and $10 gift cert to Blockbuster) went to Caitlyn and Sara, the kitty cat and cow. What a thrill for them. All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday morning in beautiful Nevada County.

Sara and Caitlyn enjoying the bounce house

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Train

An ominous sight

This one's for you, Dad
Today was the beginning of Halloween for our family. It started with finalizing the girls' costumes and then heading out for a local halloween train ride through the woods of Nevada City. I've never done the train before, didn't even really know it existed. About 3 1/2 years ago, a group of women who had just had babies got together and formed a "Mom's Group", a support group for new mommies and their babies. We've been together ever since. It's so nice to have a tight-knit group of Moms, Dads, and Kids who know they can rely on each other, support each other, and have grand adventures together. Today was one of those.

Just part of the Leakers and Squeakers: me, Laurie, Erin, and Kim

Erin with Ani

Kim with Jack Sparrow and Fred
The train was pretty full (being a Friday and gorgeous weather) but not packed. We got our tickets and loaded up on the open air cars. Some kids were in costume, others not. Caitlyn was thrilled to be a kitty cat and Sara was content to be a cow. (Personally, I don't think Sara cared what she was).

Kitty and Cow

Did I mention I hate spiders?
The train chugged along through the woods for about a half hour, passing lots of ghosts and goblins scattered along the rail line. About the time we could use a break, the train stopped and we all got off to hunt pumpkins. All the kids were able to run around and pick out their own pumpkin. Caitlyn settled on hers, a little odd-shaped but it had character while Sara fell in love with a penguin. After about 15 minutes, we all loaded up for the return trip. It was just long enough to forget about things and just enjoy the kids and a train.

Caitlyn with her pumpkin

Ahhhh. (The penguin was fake)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marathon Dog

Yesterday I had scheduled a long run of 26 miles. A marathon. I wasn't very inspired to run a marathon. I have a rule about not wearing any event clothing if I wasn't part of the event. No race t-shirts if I didn't race it, etc. However, in June at the end of the WS100 I found a pair of running shorts with Western States 100 written on the leg. I've never done WS100. The closest I've gotten to it is to be a spectator the last 2 years. But I decided to buy the shorts. I wanted to have them as motivation. I know I will have days when I don't want to train and all I have to do is put on those shorts and instant motivation. So that's what I did yesterday.

Hitting the trail

Pat's working quite a bit of over-time because so many of the other firefighters are down south and daycare was scheduled for the girls so I was on my own. Well, me and Yuba. Yuba did so well on our last long run that I decided he could handle a marathon. I planned a run on the Pioneer Trail which is right out my door. I would run 13.1 miles up the trail and 13.1 miles back. So after I dropped the girls off I drove up the trail to a couple different spots to drop off some hand-held bottles and water for Yuba.

So, with my family safely evacuated from the fires down south, my parents almost home from their 8 week trip driving across the country and back, Pat at work, girls at daycare, water bottles strategically placed, absolutely beautiful weather, and with my motivational WS100 shorts on, I ran out of excuses and hit the trail.
Trail meandering in and out of old water ditches

It took about 3 miles to feel warmed up and 7 miles before I really started feeling good. I ran into a group of mountain bikers, they would ride ahead then stop and regroup. Every time they stopped, I would catch up to them. Finally, one of the riders said I was the fastest runner she had ever seen! I laughed so hard I almost choked on my Shot Bloks. Little did she know. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'm not fast, they're just slow :)

Yuba, leading the way

The trail is heavily forested with few open areas. It's mostly non technical singletrack with only one rocky section. It parallels Hwy 20 and you can hear noise from passing vehicles on most of the trail, only occasionally getting far enough away for quiet. Despite that, it's a wonderful, family friendly trail (the lower part is good for kids, the upper part gets more technical with ups and downs).
Trail entering rocky section

I was hoping 13 miles would come at Skillman but it turned out to be 12. So I had to continue running (uphill) for another mile. By 13.1 I was ready to turn-around. The trail is pretty much all uphill going out so it stands to reason it's mostly downhill on the return. Starting elevation is 3500 ft, turn-around 4800 ft. Negative splits are pretty much the rule. If you leave enough in the tank. I did, but barely. By about 5 minutes.

One of the few views along the trail

Cooling off

About a mile from the finish is the Harmony Ridge market, a great place to stop and grab a cold drink if you're smart enough to bring money. I wasn't.

Harmony Ridge Market

So, about the marathon dog. Yuba is incredible. I've been building up his long runs so I knew he was ready for this. He stayed right with me and even had enough energy towards the end to chase a couple squirrels. He managed to keep cool in the occasional puddle which would invigorate him and he'd go tearing down the trail. I'm not sure about taking him on runs longer than 26 miles tho. Anyone out there have any thoughts on this? What's too far for a dog?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

3 For 3 at Run Thru Colors

Color in Nevada City

It's always nice to set a goal, work hard towards it, then attain it. Even surpass it. This year's goal at Run Through the Colors 5k in Nevada City was to win a beautiful Sierra Club Wilderness Calendar. Calendars go to the top 2 finishers in each 10 year age group. This would be my 3rd calendar in 3 years. My secondary goal was to beat my time from 2005 of 25:31. I don't count my time from last year (27:15) because I had just had a baby a few months before and hadn't done much training (amazing I was able to come in first).

Early morning set up

My husband was at work at the fire station so I took the girls to a friend's house just up the road from the race start about 7:30. Kim has 2 boys the same age as my girls so it's always a treat to get them all together. Being so early in the morning they got to stay in their pj's which always makes the visit even more special.

Near the start

I headed down to Pioneer Park for check-in, got my number and t-shirt, and started warming up. The park is in a low part of town so it was COLD, close to 32 degrees. Surprisingly, it warmed up quickly when I started jogging. We all lined up at 8:30, the whistle blew, and we were off. The normal suspects were there, Peter Lubbers, Chris Badolato, Larry Defeyter, Sara Freitas, Kristin Koch, and the Boutte family. Normally I line up mid-pack, slowly work my way up a few places, and pretty much stay in my own little world during the race and hope for the best. Because I wanted a good finish this time, I really paid attention to the runners around me. I started close to the front and sprinted off the line with the front runners. Within the first mile you have to climb Nevada Street. It's a tough climb, especially so early in the race. Last year I walked it while a dad pushing a jogging stroller ran past me. This year I reached the bottom and could still see the lead runners only halfway up the hill. I was able to run "strongly" up the hill (I don't think hills will ever be my strong suit) and keep a good pace over the top. The Boutte sisters (one is under 12, the other slightly older) and Kristin Koch were just ahead. They always seem to be just ahead of me and I've never been able to catch them. The 4 of us finished 1-4 at Habitat for Humanity 5K in June so I was in familiar company. After about a mile the 5k and 10k courses split so I was able to get a better idea of who my competition was and it remained the Boutte's and Kristin (even tho they weren't in my age group they're good to pace off of)

This is a fairly hilly course, if you're not climbing, you're usually descending. The colors are spectacular this year, I felt good through-out the race and before I knew it, I was on the big downhill on Broad St. Just a bit more climbing to the park and back to the finish. The Boutte's finished 1st and 3rd (22:36 and 22:39), Kristin got 4th (23:13) and I finished 5th in 23:43, a 5k personal best which is surprising considering the course. (Those finishes are for females, I finished 18th over-all).

Along the course, after the big hill

After the race I drove up to Kim's to pick up the girls (thank you so much Kim) and returned to the park in time to visit with new friends, partake of the delicious treats, and enjoy the award ceremony. Turns out I finished 1st in my age group so I was happy. One goal accomplished. Breaking 24 minutes on a hilly 5k was something I never expected so goal #2 accomplished. Except for my husband not being able to be there, it was a wonderful morning.

Caitlyn, with pink frosting on her nose from cupcake (see below)

Just another beautiful sight

Peter Lubbers decided to run the 5k instead of the 10k, going after Grand Prix points and finished 3rd overall in 20:45 behind Justin and Jeff Boutte (yes, those Boutte's). Chris Badolato won the 10K in 35:03 and Larry Defeyter came in 3rd in 39:28. Gordy Ainsleigh was a surprise visitor running the 10k in 48:48 finishing first in his age group, 60-69. Turns out he lived in Nevada City until he was 14 and now plans his October vacation around Run Through the Colors because he missed running this race. It was a real pleasure meeting and talking with him.

Chris Badolato (L), Larry Defeyter

Gordy Ainsleigh (L), Me, Peter Lubbers

The Calendar

The pictures I got of the sights along the course were taken before and after the race (hence, no runners in them) because I was a little too busy during the race to take pictures.

Looking up Broad St (we ran down this)

Golden Center Freeway

Old Firehouse Museum

So all in all, the morning went well. Came home and had a Peter Lubbers Special, pancake brunch with my girls. Afternoon was going great, feet up on the couch, kids playing, then......Caitlyn throws up numerous times all over the couch and floor. Bright pink.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spectating at Lake of the Sky 50K

I had originally intended on running this race if my body felt healed enough, but work schedules intervened, I got put on "kid duty" and instead of sitting around the house on a beautiful day, decided to drive up the hill and support my ultra-runner friends. I'm glad I did.

After a leisurely morning, Caitlyn, Sara, Yuba, and I arrived at the TRT trailhead about 11:30. A little girl about 6 1/2 immediately befriended my daughter Caitlyn and they proved inseparable the entire time we were there. The day was gorgeous and there was no indication that it had been raining and snowing off and on all week.

Caitlyn (rear) with her new friend Maddy

The lead runner, Chris Grauch, came in in an impressive 5:16 with Beverley Anderson-Abbs hot on his heels in 5:21, taking 18 minutes off her time from last year. Scott Dunlap came across the line in 5:51, all smiles and exclaiming what a wonderful time he had out there. I talked to him after the race and he said the leg felt great but he was concerned with friendly competition from Peter Lubbers in the series. If it remains close, expect to see them both at Helen Klein for some much needed points.

Beverley Anderson-Abbs defends her title

Beverley Anderson-Abbs and overall winner Chris Grauch

Impressive Scott Dunlap finishes 5th

There was some concern when Alan Abbs didn't appear at the finish line when expected. After a few phone calls from RD Robert Mathis to different aid stations, Alan finally came down the hill covered in dirt. Turns out he made a wrong turn out of Watson Lake and, like many others, introduced himself to the dirt along portions of the rocky trail. He finished around 6:15.

Alan Abbs gets a hug from his wife at the finish line

Caitlyn and Maddy played and waited patiently for Maddy's dad, Pete Twedell to come racing down the hill. Unfortunately, I missed his finish time but he had a strong showing for his first ultra!

Pete gets a finish line hug from daughter Maddy

After his impressive win at Lake Tahoe, Peter Lubbers made a strong finish in 7:13 after a tough day. He has a few more races this fall but then I think he deserves a break!

Peter Lubbers

Using this as a training run for HK50, Gretchen Brugman checks her time after a fun day on the trails. I recently came across her blog and it was nice getting the chance to meet her in person. Ultrarunners are the nicest people.

Gretchen, how's my time? 7:38

I stayed to watch a few more of my friends finish then it was time to head home. I had one kid just waking up from a nap, another kid ready to go down for a nap, and a dog who was wondering why we weren't hitting the trail and running 30 miles. Watching all these runners finish a long day on the trail made me hungry. I had a craving for KFC so we grabbed some on the way home. I should say we grabbed a lot. I guess I thought I was feeding an army or something. I don't know what I was thinking. My guilty conscience kicked in while eating but it sure tasted good. Every once in a while you just gotta be bad. Next time I'll wait until I am the one who ran 34 miles.

Sara's feeling no guilt

I also want to say that all finishes/times are unofficial. I did the best I could while also keeping track of 2 kids and a dog. See you at HK.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Turning Back

Well, I officially entered the 50 Mile ring, I sent in my registration yesterday for the Helen Klein 50M. I've been waiting to enter until I was able to run a couple of long runs in the last 10 days or so to see how my calf was holding up. During the Reno Tahoe Odyssey one of my relay legs consisted of running 6 miles from Virginia City (Geiger Grade). That's 6 miles of downhill, on pavement, as fast as I could. My calves were very sore after the race (I used a fast turnover to prevent my quads from getting trashed), my left calf healed, my right didn't. So instead of resting, I then ran 16 miles in the Marin headlands (as part of the Marin Crossing relay race with my husband, he biked), and then did my first 50K, the TRT. I saw my doctor just before that race to rule out a stress fracture. She diagnosed a calf tear. I was pleased there was no fracture, I could still run the TRT with "just" a tear. I actually did better than I expected in that race but didn't run again for 6 weeks. Now I'm just starting to rebuild my endurance and it's going well. My rehab coincided with Scott Dunlap's and he just ran his accidental 60 miler so it gives me hope.

I'm running HK50 to try to qualify for the Western States 100 next year. It's very difficult to get selected with the lottery so there's a good chance I won't get in and I'll start the 2 time loser program. I don't have the running base and build up I'd like to try my first 50 miler but I'm feeling good enough that I know I can finish, however it may be a suffer-fest.

Yesterday I wanted to try some speed work on tired legs from the long run. Due to my schedule as a firefighter I end up doing some of my training on a treadmill. So I did 6x400 at 6:40min/mi pace and it felt pretty good. In addition to training for the HK50, I'm also getting ready for a local 5K that I want to do well in. The top 2 finishers in each age group receive a beautiful Sierra Club calendar and I've won one the last 2 years and want another one. So besides doing long easy runs and long tempo runs, I have to do short speed work and hill repeats. Because anyone who has been to Nevada City knows the only flat terrain are the NID (water) ditches. It's a hilly course.

The body feels good this morning but I'm looking forward to a rest day with my family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beating Winter

Emigrant trail

My first attempt at a blog. Who would have thought I'd ever do this. It's more for my family to keep up on what I'm doing and a way to share this wonderful new world of ultrarunning. I've read so many neat blogs out there that I thought it might be fun to try my own.

On the trail to Stampede

Had a wonderful long run yesterday with my dog Yuba. Wanted to get another run in in the high country before this latest storm moved through. Good timing. We started about 9am at Donner camp just north of Truckee and ran 11 miles to Stampede Reservoir and back for a total of 22 miles. This has to be one of the nicest trails in the area. Miles of runnable terrain but with just enough ups and downs to work all the muscles. I was worried about taking my dog for this distance (10 miles has been the longest in the past) but I needn't worry. He is a great runner, stayed right with me, always nice to other people/dogs on the trail. And he seems to be feeling better this morning than I am. :) I will try to post some pictures to this site as well, I'm a beginner with this blog stuff so will figure it out as I go.

Stampede Reservoir (sorry about it being crooked)

The day was beautiful but a bit windy, indicative of the approaching cold front. The colors were beautiful. I had a hip pack with 2 bottles plus I carried 2 hand bottles, 1 full of water for Yuba. This time of year the only reliable source of water on the trail is Prosser Creek and Stampede Reservoir (at each end of the run). 5 miles in I left my full hand bottles (I would pick them up on the return) and shed my long sleeve shirt, the day was warming up after starting out at 36 degrees. Made it to Stampede before noon where Yuba played in the water and got his second wind. He's quite the water dog. I felt surprisingly good at the halfway point. After a few minutes to let him play we started back. At the 15 mile mark I picked up my hand bottles (I had consumed both my pack bottles) and gave Yuba some more water. I carried a small canvas foldable dog bowl to put the water in and it folded up small enough to fit in the little pouch on the hand bottle. Pretty cool. On the way out I had taken off my shoes and socks to cross Prosser creek because I didn't want to run in wet shoes and socks for the next 20 miles. On the return trip, we headed out to Hwy 89 and crossed on the bridge. It's longer but I knew it would give me the extra distance I needed to make 22 miles.

Prosser Creek

End of the trail

Arrived back at the truck about 2:00, 4 hours run time. Legs tired but felt pretty good. I had brought the makings for a new after-run snack (I usually do chocolate milk). Bread with Nutella spread, honey and banana. Delicious. Then it was home for the half dreaded/half anticipated ice bath (and some chocolate milk). And quick as that, it was time to pick up the girls from daycare. Amazing how quickly the day goes by when you spend most of it running. But what a glorious way to spend the day.

Yuba, the wonder dog

As I drove over the summit to Reno this morning where I work, it was through a beautiful snowstorm. I know another storm is moving in Friday and I can only hope for the best for you runners who will be out there Sat for Lake of the Sky 50K. I had intended to run it but last minute changes to my husband's schedule changed that. Now the HK50 is on the calendar and hopefully under 11 hours to qualify me for WS100.

Wouldn't that be a hoot?!
Heading to Truckee, the next morning