Sunday, December 16, 2012

Turkey trot and Lottery results

I love the tradition of a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  This year our plans took us to southern California to the family ranch so it was a no brainer that the Oceanside Turkey Trot would be in our future.  In 2009 I set my 5K PR (22:39) at this race.  However, things would be different this year.  My 8 year old daughter has started running 5K's and she was so excited about this one.  I knew it was a race that I had to stay with my daughter and husband and put my own racing aspirations to see if I could set a new PR on the back burner.

Early Thursday morning saw my husband, daughter, my two cousins, and nephew headed west for the 1:15 drive to the ocean.  As we arrived the fog was lifting and it turned out to be a gorgeous morning.  We picked up our numbers and settled into the front of the second corral.

We started and quickly settled into a nice pace.  I wanted Caitlyn to be comfortable and leave something for the last mile.  The crowds were pretty thick but she handled it great.  Pat and I dodged around people and tried to keep the 3 of us together.  By the second mile I knew Caitlyn was getting a little tired because she started asking about distances.  I kept the pace steady and she stayed tough.  As we dropped down onto the beach boardwalk in the final mile, Caitlyn found a new gear and took off, passing people left and right.  I had to run hard to stay with her and we dropped Pat.  I knew she couldn't hold that pace to the finish.  She slowed a bit, regrouped, and when I pointed out the finish line about 200 yards away, she took off again.  At this point I hit my max heart rate trying to keep up.  It was amazing.  She passed about 200 people in that last 3/4 mile.

We crossed the finish line and she collapsed, tearful, emotional, and exhausted.  I let her regroup before we slowly made our way through the finishing chute.  I could not have been more impressed with this incredible girl, no, runner, who left everything out on the course.  I proudly placed the finishers medal around her neck.

Jamie, Joey, PJ, Caitlyn, me, and Pat

My cousins Joey and Jamie did great despite running with some injuries.  Joey's son PJ out-ran us all, setting a new PR and taking a few minutes off his time from 2009.  It was a great morning, shared with family.  After collecting our shirts we headed back up to the ranch for some much deserved turkey.

Lotteries, lotteries.....

In order to prepare for Leadwoman, I put my name in a couple lotteries, Way Too Cool 50K and Miwok 100K.  I found out last Monday that I had been selected for WTC.  However, I started having second thoughts about Miwok.  It's an incredibly tough course and I started thinking I don't want to be in 100K shape in May since Leadville 100 isn't until August.  So last Tuesday I emailed the RD and asked that my name be pulled out of the lottery hat.  I guess I missed the deadline though because I checked the entrants list the next day and there was my name.  2 for 2, for better or worse.  I'm looking forward to Miwok and building my confidence on a long, hard course but it also scares me.  I don't want to push myself too hard this early in the season and get hurt.  I'll have to be smart about it, treat it as a long training run.   And I have confidence in my coach.

I started working with a coach a couple weeks ago and it's so nice to have structure to my workouts.  I have confidence that what Lucho is having me do now and what I'll be doing in the future will get me to Leadwoman.  I'm already noticing faster times with easier efforts with the consistency in my workouts.  Right now I'm doing a nice mix of running and biking, with the emphasis on the bike.  Just this week saw a 2:30 mtn bike ride in the cold, sleet, and mud and a couple days later a 4 hour road ride with 5800 feet of climbing.  It's more than I would have been doing on my own but my body is handling it very well. 

As I prepare for Christmas my heart goes out to those in Connecticut.  Keep loved ones close and give those kids an extra hug.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My New Best Friend

For most people, the game plan goes something like this:  decide to ride an epic 100 mile bike race.  Pick the Leadville 100.  Get in the lottery (good luck with that).  Get selected.  Buy a new bike for the new adventure.  I did it backwards.  I bought my dream bike and decided that it was made for Leadville.  Enter Leadman to guarantee that I can do the bike race as well as some incredible run races.  Train hard.

It started back in 2011 when Pat and I visited our friends who live in Crested Butte during the Fat Tire Bike week.  Specialized was there with some demo bikes.  I rode my Specialized Stumpjumper to a Leadville 100 finish back in 2001.  My husband rode the same bike to a finish the next year.  That's still my primary bike and needless to say, it's a bit behind the times. Even though it was against my better judgment (we couldn't afford to buy me a new bike and I knew I'd love anything I test rode and it would just torture me to not buy a new bike) I decided to test ride a Specialized Epic 29er, a $10,000 bike.

I can't explain what it was like riding that bike.  You couldn't scrape the smile off my face.  Instead of avoiding any rock bigger than a pebble, I was searching out the biggest, baddest things I could roll my tires over.  The 29 inch wheels were incredible.  This bike rocked.  I was born to ride this bike.  It had a 1x10 gearing set up which I had never seen before but really liked.  I wanted it.  Bad.

Sweet bike

Sweet singletrack for test riding

Happy rider

I sure didn't want to return that bike but I guess taking it home with me wasn't a wise idea (I left my 10 year old Stumpjumper with the Specialized folks as collateral, isn't that a fair trade?)  Needless to say, we left Crested Butte without a new bike and I returned home and continued to ride my faithful Stumpy.  But it was getting more and more difficult. 

Fast forward over a year and things finally fell into place and I was able to get a great deal on a new 2013 Specialized Epic Expert 29er.  My first ride elicited the exact same feelings I had experienced in Crested Butte over a year ago.  I was born to ride this bike.  And this bike was born to take on Leadville.  I decided right then and there that I was going to sign up for Leadman. First time I've had disc brakes and I put them to the full test on Wednesday when I discovered a new trail aptly named Scott's Drop.  It's geared with a 2x10 which I prefer over the 1x10.

For the next couple months my run training is officially going to take a backseat to bike training.  And I have no problem with that.  Buzz and I have many dates planned on the local trails. My new best friend.

Buzz after a muddy ride

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lithia Loop and Leadville

     Last Saturday I joined 142 other runners up in Ashland, Oregon for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon.  The girls didn't have school Friday so we decided to make it a family trip.  I'm so glad we did.  Ashland is beautiful, especially this time of year.  From reading Scott Dunlap's race report  previously, I knew we were in for a treat.

I had originally intended to only stay 1 night and head home Saturday after the race.  But the 11:00 check out had me concerned.  I wasn't looking forward to no shower after running 26.2 miles and then driving 4 1/2 hours back home.  So before we even arrived in Ashland, I was on the phone with the hotel extending our stay an extra night.  After checking in we walked the 2 blocks to downtown and made our way to Rogue Valley Runners to pick up my race packet.  I had really been looking forward to this and the icing on the cake was meeting Hal Koerner.  He really IS as nice as people say he is.

Hal Koerner and I

We arrived at the peak of color change.  Warm days and cool nights.  Race morning had me wearing only shorts and a t-shirt although I was underdressed compared to many.  I knew the race would climb for the first 10 miles so I wasn't chilled for long.  I paced myself well and before I knew it, I was on the next 10 mile section that is rolling.  For some reason I expected after all that climbing that we would be treated to some nice views.  But this is Oregon and so trees abounded.  We were mid-slope and although the views were limited, I did enjoy how lush and green everything was.

Hal Koerner sending us off

It was along this section that my legs decided to let me know that my longest run has only been 14 miles.  They started to ache and I started to tire.  I found myself running with another lady named Flora from Hawaii.  We gabbed quite a bit and it really helped the miles go by.  She continued ahead as I paused at an aid station and I was on my own.  I gutted it out to 20 miles where the next 6 miles would be downhill.  Now that may sound good on paper, in actuality, it's quite painful.  After 2 miles of torture, my muscles started to adapt (and we got onto some fun singletrack) and I started to fly.  The last 4 miles were definitely the most fun.

Every mile marked

"Super" volunteers filling up Flora

Nice view of Mt. Ashland

My best moment came at the half-marathon mark when I noticed my time was 2:36.  I went into this race expecting to run about 5:15-5:30.  Doing the math I knew I could go sub-5 hours. (I also figured at this point the winner was probably crossing the finish line).

Right as we hit the last bit of pavement, my right calf started to cramp.  I had to slow a bit and run in a "toes up" position as my leg swung forward.  I downed some S-caps and that helped immediately.  As I approached the finish I saw my family playing nearby.  I yelled to them and Caitlyn came bounding over and continued a nice tradition of running across the finish line with me.  Pat took a cool video of us crossing the line but I'll be danged if I can figure out how to get it on this blog.  I know just enough about this computer stuff to be dangerous.

Thank you to Hal Koerner and the wonderful folks in Ashland for the wonderful race.  I'm so glad we decided to stay the extra day.  I was able to shower and  slip on my new 2XU compression socks which I have to believe really helped in my recovery.  For how sore I was right after the race I figured I would be having some serious issues with stairs the next day.  I was pleasantly surprised when I felt really good.  At least better than expected.

The girls enjoying Lithia Park

Ashland's sulfur water

Mt. Shasta dominated the skyline on the way home

Other news:

Sunday night I stayed up past my bedtime in order to catch the opening of registration for Leadville's Leadman/Leadwoman.  Time to put up or shut up.  I did the 100 mile bike ride way back in 2002 (could it really have been that long ago?)  In 2009 I attempted the 100 mile run but came up short (you can read about that here).  It's been 3 years and now it's time to go back.  And why not take on the whole enchilada.  For those who don't know, Leadman consists of 5 (or 6) events.  Starts with a 26.2 mile trail marathon, a 50 mile Bike Or Run (or both), 100 mile Bike, 10K run the next day, and finishes with the 100 mile run.  And all this is done between June 29 and Aug 18.  And all above 10,200 ft.

After signing up, I went to bed and slept really well, for about 3 hours.  Then my mind started racing.  When should I start training?  How should I train.? How do I work out the trips to Leadville with family?  How many trips should I make?  One minute I'm confident that with the right training I can succeed.  The next minute I wonder what the hell am I thinking?  I finally got up and went for a run.  That is my center right now.  I've decided that November is my month to play.  Let my body heal after Lithia Loop.  Get on my mountainbike.  Explore new trails.  Improve my technical skills.  Have fun.  There is going to be plenty of time for serious training.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Back in the saddle, and on the trail

After taking some time off from blogging, I've finally got a goal worth writing about.  I've revamped my blog and the astute observer may detect what my 2013 goal is.  For the less astute, I won't give it away until Nov 5, the day registration opens.

I may have dropped off the blogging world but I didn't stop running.  Just cut back on the ultras.  After working so hard in 2009 for Leadville and coming up short (and injured), I needed to take some time off.  2010 saw my family with quite a few medical issues and I think I spent more money to NOT run in lost registration fees then I actually ran.  2011 I found myself running a lot of local 5K's and actually finishing 3rd overall in our Grand Prix Race Series.  I was enjoying the shorter races, less training time, and more time spent with my family.  I'm finding as my girls have reached 8 & 6 years old, it's harder spending time away from them.  I am still their life and they want to spend time with me and vice versa.  They are just really amazing right now.

This summer included an absolutely amazing 2 week trip to France with my family.  My folks rented a house in the Loire Valley for a month and invited us to join them.  An offer we certainly couldn't refuse.  After that trip, we drove up to Montana for another family vacation.  Lots of fun adventures.

However, recently I've noticed I've been really jealous of my friends running ultras and I'm longing to do it again.  I've been picking up the volume lately and getting some nice fall racing in.  A local sprint triathlon and Tough Mudder (Northstar) in Sept, and just this last weekend a local 5K Sat and the 4 Bridges Half Marathon on Sunday.  Also been riding my bike so it's been quite the mix of activities.  And to get ready for Leadville, I got a new 29er Specialized Epic mtn bike.  Sweet!! 

How I spent my summer (and fall):

Bay to Breakers

Joan of Arc
Enjoying streetside cafe in France
Beaches of Normandy
French desserts, decisions, decisions
Enjoying life in Bourgueil, France

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gone but Not Forgotten

I can't sleep. My mind is spinning with anger and heartbreak over what happened to me today. I became a victim. While out for a very enjoyable run on the Foresthill Divide Loop Trail near Auburn, my truck was broken into and my purse, wallet, jacket, and running bag were stolen.

As I walked to my truck and saw the glass from the shattered passenger window, my heart sank. I looked inside and immediately saw that my purse and jacket were gone. It was a smash and grab. This scum sucking person (or people) smashed my window and took whatever they could reach in and get. I had covered my purse with my jacket thinking "out of sight, out of mind". It had worked before, why not now? I had let my guard down. Normally I'm much more cautious but not today. Not sure why.

Luckily I had my phone with me and I immediately called my husband who got on the phone with the credit card companies and started cancelling cards. But these losers had already charged $480 at Home Depot and $55 for gas. I called the police and they sent a ranger out to take a report (it was state park jurisdiction). Then I remembered my running bag. It had been sitting on the front seat. It was gone.

Like any athlete, I have different bags for different sports. When I go for a bike ride, my bike bag goes with me. When I run, my running bag is there. It has all my favorite shirts from past events, short sleeve, long sleeve, vests, jackets. Anything I could possibly need for these changing spring weather conditions.

I went to bed tonight tired from a long day. But as soon as that light went out I started thinking about what was in that bag. My favorite long sleeve shirt from my very first ultra, the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K in 2007. Luckily, I just checked the TRT store on Zombie Runner and they still have those shirts available. $15. So I will at least be able to replace that one. But the cool vest I got from my first trail run, Escape From Prison Hill Half Marathon is gone. I remember that race as one of the funnest trail races I've ever done. I didn't wear the vest a lot but it always had a special place in that bag. Just in case.

My AR50 shirt. I remember wearing it on a run on the Emigrant Trail near Truckee when I passed another lady wearing the same shirt. I still remember our smiles as we both pointed and said "hey, cool shirt!"

Last week at the Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Run I made it a point to wear my Lake of the Sky shirt in their honor. So that shirt was in my bag and now it's gone. After that run I changed into my San Francisco Marathon shirt from last July, a beautiful long sleeve shirt. I introduced myself to Beverly Anderson-Abbs and we chatted awhile and then she commented on how much she liked my shirt. I ran my best marathon to date at that marathon and now it's gone. Even the shirt from my latest marathon was in there, the California International Marathon.

My favorite light weight gloves that I've had for absolutely ever and were perfect for so many conditions. Arm warmers from Way Too Cool. The buff from TRT. My "heart" gaitors that people always seemed to comment on during races. My hat from the Cool Night Run. A really cool light that you clip onto your hat from that same event. An expensive small but powerful hand-held flashlight that helped me through some absolutely magical night runs.

Then there's the bag itself. It's from my very first marathon that I ran with my cousin, the San Diego Rock n Roll marathon. I picked it up at the Expo before the race. I figured I was becoming a serious runner so it was about time I got a bag to put my stuff in.

Credit cards can be cancelled. I see a visit to the DMV in my future for a new drivers license that I'm not looking forward to. The window will get fixed on Thursday. These are all inconveniences I can deal with. But the bag is different. So many memories in such a small space. And it all means absolutely nothing to the shit-head who stole it.

I hope this post doesn't sound shallow. I know things could have been a lot worse. But I do feel violated. As runners we tend to collect things that mean a lot to us. I have every medal that I've earned in races. I love it when my daughters sit on my bed, the medals spread out around them, asking me questions about how I got them. It makes them interested in running. Passing on desire to the next generation.

The ranger said there's been a rash of break-ins there and at the river confluence. So people watch out. Don't become lax like I did. No one should have to go through the heartbreak of losing things that mean so much to them. Even if they're just shirts.