Monday, August 9, 2010
I arrived just after 7am to do the race day registration thing and then get a nice warm up in by exploring the beginning and ending sections of the course. I studied the course map and there were tons of turns and arrows heading in all different directions. Looked like a real possibility of getting lost if there weren't good marshalls on the course.
I talked with a few friends and then lined up toward the front to avoid the bottleneck just after the start. I ran the first 3/4 mile fast and immediately had to dial it back a bit and recover. This course had it all: pavement, grass, gravel, dirt roads, and singletrack. A true cross country course.
My friend Kathleen was just ahead of me and I tried to keep her in sight. As we hit some dirt singletrack I immediately went into "ultrarunner" mode and slowed down. Nope, not this time and I kicked it back up. Kathleen and I are very similar runners and we have a friendly little rivalry going on and my competitive nature really wanted me to pass her but it just didn't seem like it was going to happen. I was really hurting after that first mile.
There were tons of chalk arrows on the ground and great course marshalls so I had no problem staying on course. Lots of criss-crossing and doubling back meant you got to see lots of other runners. I knew the last part of the course had a gradual downhill and I bided my time til we got close to it. As we hit the downhill stretch I kicked it up a notch and shot past Kathleen and was surprised when I was able to sustain the pace. I came up on another female and went to pass her but she sped up. I was pretty sure she couldn't sustain it so I just stayed right behind her. She finally slowed a tad and I passed. Unfortunately, the course didn't turn back on the track where I thought it was going to. We had to continue on a little further before finally making our way back to the track. I was concerned I had made my move too soon but when we hit the track I told myself it was just like running 400's and I dug deep.
I crossed the line about 23:30 but the general consensus is that the course was about 0.1 mi short so my time is a little fast. The girl I passed near the finish came up to me and said she tried to catch me and it was great having me there to push her. I smiled because I know I've said the same thing to other women. Turns out she was in my age group so it's a good thing I got around her so I ended up finishing first. I was very surprised because I sure didn't feel fast enough to win.
Kathleen agreed to pick up my medal so I could head back home right after the finish. With my mom in town we had to get the girls some new clothes for back to school. It was a beautiful morning and everything with the race seemed to run smooth. I had no trouble following the course even though it had the potential to be very confusing. I talked to someone who said a number of front-runners went off course so maybe it pays not to be a front-runner!
This race was part of the Gold Country Grand Prix race series and next up is the Race to End Hunger Aug. 21.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
After battling injury early in the year, I took my time building up my fitness again. However, that meant that my longest runs weren't all that long and I was afraid that would come back to haunt me.
The TRT is a special race to me, not just because of the beautiful venue but because it was my first ultra back in 2007. I ran it in 7:28 and the next morning I thought I had been run over by a truck. This year my secret "A" goal was to break 7 hours but I knew that would be difficult given my not-so-perfect build up and what turned out to be a very hot day.
I got to Spooner Lake early and was able to see the 100 milers start. I visited Gretchen and met her pacer Donald, whose blog I follow but had never met. After talking to him for a short time, I knew Gretchen would be in good hands. Turns out she was.
The 50K and 50M started together at 6am. I set a good pace and arrived at the singletrack early enough not to get caught up in a lot of traffic. That meant I ended up running more of it then in years past but it felt good. Soon I was granted the magical view of Marlette lake in the morning and made a quick descent to it. After a quick stop at Hobart it was on to Tunnel Creek. I really enjoy this 5 mile stretch on the way out, not so much on the return.
The late winter snows this year meant we were treated to a dazzling display of wildflowers. It was still spring in the Sierras. The large patches of snow I had encountered a couple weeks earlier on a training run were pretty much gone. The trail was in wonderful condition.
It was on the descent to Red House that I started seeing 100 milers heading up. I was happy to see Gretchen and she looked good. I didn't know she was actually going through a low point and I hope my cheers helped lift her up.
After passing Red House I hit the flume trail and was determined to run the whole thing. Soon I had a train of guys behind me who didn't seem to want to pass so I pressed on despite wanting to stop and walk for a bit. I arrived back at Tunnel Creek ready to spend a few minutes refueling. I was running a little low. I was right at the 4 hour mark and 3 hours seemed like enough to get me to the finish in 7 hours. The long uphill switchbacks after leaving TC seem to go on forever but I ran as much of it as I could. I arrived back at Hobart tired but still confident.
Usually I enjoy the climb up to Snow Valley Peak but this year the climb just seemed extra long. I kept checking my watch and realized my time goal was slowly slipping away. Instead of enjoying where I was and what I was doing, I became obsessed with time. I arrived at the aid station and my Garmin said 27 miles. Technically, that should mean I only have 4 more miles to go to run a 50K. But this race is longer and it was demoralizing to hear the volunteer say I only had 7 miles to go. And I had been running for 6 hours. No way I could run 7 mph even if it is mostly downhill.
I downed some coke and hit the trail. I struggled. I suffered. I started getting chills in the heat and started worrying that my core was getting too warm. But I didn't care. I just wanted it over. I knew I had let my time goal over-rule my enjoyment of the experience of the day and I wasn't happy about that. As I passed the 31 mile mark I grinned. 6:54. At least I had accomplished my goal of running 31 miles under 7 hours. Too bad it wasn't the finish line :) I started thinking about my family waiting near the finish and my daughter waiting anxiously to run the last bit with me.
My new goal became to finish faster than I did in 2007 and to stay strong despite being very tired. I kept having to walk the little uphills but continued to run as much as possible. I passed the last aid station and I started rounding the lake and could hear the cheers of the finish line. I was almost there. I kept imagining my family watching for me and how it would feel to finally see them. It was a gorgeous but hot day, and I had just run 34 miles through some beautiful, tough terrain and my oldest daughter was going to take me to the finish line. What could be better?
The girls waiting patiently
Looking and feeling pretty ragged
Finally I crossed the last meadow and Caitlyn was quickly by my side to take me in. As I crossed the finish line and looked at the clock I had to laugh: 7:28. The exact same time I ran in 2007. Now how's that for consistency. Now, I just hoped I wouldn't feel like I had been hit by a truck in the morning.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
By 7am I was on Tunnel Creek Rd working my way up towards the Flume Trail and then a little further to the spot used for the Tunnel Creek aid station. Climbing strong and feeling good, so far so good. Next up I tackled the Red House Loop. After a long descent I made my way up to the source of the loop's name and continued straight up to the flume which I followed until the final climb back to TC aid station. I was pleasantly surprised when the climb ended sooner than I expected. 10 miles down, 10 to go.
Overlooking Marlette and Lake Tahoe
As I worked my way along the east side of the hill on my way to Marlette Peak I finally found a couple of large snow fields that obscured the trail. However, I knew the general direction the trail followed and it wasn't difficult to get back on track. The 50K racers won't have any problem with route finding on race day but since I didn't go north from Tunnel Creek, I can't speak for what the 50/100 milers might find.
I made my way down to beautiful Marlette lake after sucking down more gels and a bar to flag my waning energy stores and I realized I was going to run out of water. I was 4 hours and 18 miles into my run and still had 8 more miles to go. I figured the outlet from Marlette would be flowing fast so decided to chance it and refill there.
Working my way to Marlette dam
It was along the Flume trail that my energy really started to fade. This was turning into a trail marathon, literally. I have to laugh at being an ultrarunner. Runners spend months training to run a marathon and yet we run marathons to train for our 50's and 100's. But the truth is, I was running 10 miles further than I've run all year and I really didn't want to get hurt. So I walked when I had to and ran when I could. And enjoyed the views on this absolutely gorgeous day.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Eventual winner in 15:07, Geoff Roes
(I love this picture)
Congratulations to all the runners in this year's Western States 100. It was a pleasure serving you :)
Now, onward and upward to the next adventure!
Monday, March 22, 2010
I guess now is as good a time as any to start my excuses about why I'm going to perform so poorly at American River 50M coming up in (gasp!) 19 days. Actually, that's a pretty poor attitude so let me rephrase that. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be going for a PR at AR50, but I will enjoy a leisurely jaunt through the beautiful countryside (and bike trails) along the American River.
January and February were going great with my running preparations for the spring and summer races I have planned. Then I got a nagging pain in my right shin that I immediately figured was a stress fracture developing. I backed off and did some cross training which made the pain move to my calf. I guess that was good news but it still caused me to have to stop running due to the pain. I'm trying to be smart and let it heal early before it gets too bad and will be better for the TRT50K in July.
I had planned on running Rucky Chucky 50K last weekend but I opted out. I swear, I've been trying to run this race for 4 years and for one reason or another, I've never done it. I don't mean to be so negative but my running injuries are really starting to get on my nerves. I was trying to do everything right but I still got hurt. Did I add too much mileage? Add in speed work too soon? Part of me wants to just say to heck with running but then I think about all the pleasure I get from a good run and I just don't want to stop.
So the bottom line is I'm buddies again with Tony Horton from P90X (my savior the last time I was hurt) and I'm trying to get on my bike but my calf hurts anytime I ride uphill or stand on the pedals. I'm also training for the Alcatraz 1.5 mile open water swim so I've been getting in our Fast Lane pool a bit. Unfortunately, swimming is my least favorite thing to do so it's easy to shove that exercise aside.
It's probably silly to still want to do AR50 but it's my qualifier for next year's WS100 (hopefully). Plus, I absolutely LOVE this race. I've done it the last 2 years and really enjoy it. I'm sorry this entry is such a downer but I'm just really frustrated right now. My motivation is low, I'm injured, and can't do what I want to do most. But like most things, this is temporary and I know things will get better. They always do. I believe life is full of peaks and valley's and I just happen to be going through a valley right now. I look forward to when things start looking brighter and I can write a more uplifting entry.