Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leadville 100 Mtn Bike and 10K Run

Caitlyn and Pat took me to the start of the 100 mile mtn bike race early Sat morning.  It was a balmy 35 degrees.  I lined up in the "purple" corral which turned out to be a decent place to start.  I passed quite a few people on the 4 mile paved descent and I was able to climb St. Kevin's and Sugarloaf without stopping.

The weather was perfect with clear blue skies which was a welcome relief from all the rain this past week.  I rode a steady effort up Sugarloaf and then proceeded to pass a ton of riders going down Powerline.  Of course the slower people take the good line so that left a less desirable line for me to take but Buzz did great and I never suffered a flat or a mechanical all day.  He was an absolute champ.

I continued a steady effort and by 3:35 I was cruising into Twin Lakes where my entire family greeted me.  Seeing everyone was the best part of the day.  I took off my vest and arm warmers, got new bottles, downed a small bottle of Gatorade, got a little more food and I was off to start the long slog up Columbine.

Best crew in the world!
This is the part I was dreading.  I am a fast descender.  I can drop like a rock.  Unfortunately, I climb like one too!  I had also started to get leg cramps back at mile 30 and I was really worried they would get so bad that I wouldn't be able to finish.  Due to the cramps I had to dial back my effort and "soft pedal" a bit on all the climbs.  I had done this climb during training so I knew what to expect and I just put my head down and proceeded to grind it out for the next couple of hours.  After an eternity, I finally reached the Columbine aid station in 6:10.  This is 10 minutes slower than when I did the race back in 2002 and I finished in 11:50 that year.  I knew my sub-12 hour finish was in jeopardy.

The thought crossed my mind that if I didn't finish in under 12 hours I wouldn't be an official finisher and therefore wouldn't have to show up next Saturday for the 100 mile run.  I also would be able to go home early and attend the first day of school with my girls.  Those weren't unappealing thoughts.  But I quickly pushed them away and got back to business.  If I didn't finish under 12 hours it wasn't going to be from lack of trying.  I owed it to my family, my coach, my friends, and myself to give it my all.  Anything else would be dishonorable.

I started my comeback with one of the fastest descents of Columbine by a female at this year's race according to Strava.  By the time I saw my family again at Twin Lakes I was in a much better frame of mind.  Once again they had me in and out of there in no time. 

Back in 2002 it was the next 40 miles that really destroyed me.  I lost a lot of time.  This year I knew was going to be different.  I have a lot more endurance training under my belt, I now have a habit of starting slow and finishing strong in races.  The paved climb out of Twin Lakes now seemed short instead of lasting forever, I climbed the singletrack section well and cruised into Pipeline where I got my bottles refilled and downed a cup of coke.

There was a strong head wind between Pipeline and Fish Hatchery (surprise, surprise) but I was able to settle in with a couple of pacelines to help cut the wind and made great time to the bottom of Powerline.  That's where I saw my family one last time before the finish and it's always a huge morale boost before the last big climb of the day.  Apparently my girls were finding their own entertainment.

Yep, that's the start of the first part of the climb up Powerline
More severe cramping had me walking my bike up the steepest section (which I'd be walking anyway).  The cramps continued to come and go and I was happy to ride most of the upper section.  After a fast descent to Hagerman and on to Mayqueen I started the long paved climb to Carter Summit.  That's where the cramping returned in earnest and I found myself stopped and almost in tears.  I couldn't believe my finish was in jeopardy because of leg cramps.  I downed some more S-caps and started to soft pedal up the hill.  Finally the cramps subsided and I was able to get into a solid rhythm to the top.
Getting back on the dirt after Carter Summit was great.  I was like a horse smelling the barn.  When my legs weren't cramping they were actually still pretty strong.  I found myself climbing some of the short steep climbs that had others walking.  The descent down Kevins was fast and I just willed my bike to hold it together.  A few raindrops started to fall as I made my way to the bottom of the Boulevard.  I was able to keep a good effort up it, thankful I was on a bike and not on foot like I will be next week.  As I crested the last hill and saw my time would be under 11:40, I let out a sigh of relief, zipped up my jersey, and really enjoyed the scene of coming up 6th St.

My girls ran out to me as I approached the finish line and ran across with me.  My parents were there which meant the world to me.  Merilee hung a medal around my neck and told me I could stop now.  I was tired but not destroyed.  In the coming hours I was happy about how I was feeling.  I knew I'd be able to run the 10K the next day.

Leadville 10K

The 10K takes place the day after the 100 mile mtn bike and is the 4th event in the Leadwoman series.  I woke up feeling really good, not sore at all which surprised me.  After getting our awards for the 100 miler, we gathered at 6th and Harrison for the noon start.  I felt relaxed and knew I would take it out easy, no time limit on this one.

Fellow Leadwoman Kiki and I started out together and made our way 3 miles down the Boulevard.  After a couple miles I was tired of running and wanted to stop.  I really wasn't looking forward to coming back up this road.

We reached the turn-around in 29 minutes and Kiki decided to wait for a friend so I continued on by myself.  I was surprised when I found myself running much of the uphill and feeling better with each passing mile.  I kept my effort level low and I actually enjoyed the climb.

Just over an hour after starting I approached the finish line.  Once again, my girls were there to run across it with me.  Another event done.  One big one left, the 100 mile run on Saturday.  I'll spend this week doing a couple of short runs but mostly resting.  I'm actually feeling pretty relaxed about the run.  I know I'm going into it undertrained due to a recent injury but there's nothing I can do about that now.  The gun will go off and I'll run the best I can until I get 100 miles under my feet and cross that last finish line.

The girls asked if they could volunteer to help put out the mugs for the finishers

Approaching the finish line

Girls heading to the finish with me

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Silver Rush 50 Mtb

They say the Silver Rush 50 is just like the Leadville 100 with all the easy parts taken out.  I'd have to agree.  Another difference is the start.  I arrived shortly before 8:00 for the 9am start and casually walked my bike up near the front and laid it down.  I visited with friends and my coach then the family and I walked up Dutch Henri Hill to scope out a good line and warm up the legs a bit.

I was excited and a bit nervous before the start.  I had only pre-riden half the course so there was a big unknown about the backside of Ball Mtn.  Other sections I had either ridden in training or run on during the marathon.  I wasn't going for a fast time, I just wanted to finish before the cut-off and keep my bike in one piece.

The start is pretty amazing to watch as a spectator.  As a competitor, I only saw the few feet of earth right in front of me as I had my head down pushing my bike up to the top of the first hill.  I only had to wait a short time in the bottleneck area before I was riding.

I kept a strong, steady effort without my heart-rate going too high and none too soon I was at the top of Iowa Gulch enjoying a fast descent to Printer Boy.  I passed a ton of riders here and I wasn't even pedaling much.  1:54 to PB made me happy and the bottle hand-off with Lucho was text-book perfect.

Waiting for mom
 Getting to Stumptown was more of an effort than I wanted.  There was a lot of climbing and pushing the bike and unfortunately, my stomach was off from my electrolyte drink.  Heed just wasn't doing it for me.  I came into Stumptown dragging and it was nice to get support from Lucho.  I drank a lot of water trying to dilute the Heed in my stomach which helped.

I backed off my effort a bit on the return and settled into a steady "push the bike" effort up to Ball Mtn.  It seemed to take forever.  The descent down the other side was fun but I was definitely lacking in energy.  Then the cramping started.  I was dreading this moment.  I kept taking S-caps and the kept the cramping at bay.  On one descent I found myself behind past race director Ken Chlouber who was riding a quad.  He kept looking back as I kept gaining.  He finally pulled over and I went flying past him.  The climb back up to PB wasn't bad and I stopped a few minutes to re-group with my family and Lucho.  I was feeling better and wanted to finish strong.

Coming back into Printer Boy
 The climb up the road back to Iowa Gulch wasn't the nightmare I thought it was going to be.  The cramps stayed away and I found myself passing quite a few people.  Only 1 person passed me back on the entire last 13 miles of the course.  I rode the last 10 miles of downhill fairly aggressively and willed the bike to stay in one piece.  The last couple of short uphills almost destroyed me as that was when the inside of both quads decided to seize up dramatically.  I couldn't stop because I was afraid I'd fall over so I just kept pedaling and it was agony.  I'd get to a downhill and stand on the pedals and the cramps would go away.  I was really looking forward to the finish line.

The course took us along the top of Dutch Henri Hill and a final downhill to the finish.  There was Pat, my girls, Lucho, and my Leadman friends to greet me.  Lots of hugs and smiles as we congratulated ourselves for making it one step closer to Leadman.  Ken Chlouber was there and we laughed when I told him it was me who passed him riding his quad.

Ken and I share a laugh

Kiki and I happy to be one step closer to Leadwoman

With Andy and Lucho and my girls

My daughter Sara, future Leadwoman
 Dinner at the Golden Burro then back to camp.  Time to head home for a few weeks for some final touches on training before once again heading back to Leadville for the final 3 events: 100 mile bike, 10K run, 100 mile run.  Maybe after the 100 bike I'll start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  But right now I feel like I'm still right in the thick of things.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Next up: Silver Rush 50 Mtb

The week after the Leadville trail marathon turned out to be one of my biggest weeks of training.  And funnest.  For the first time in 7 months I had the freedom to think only of myself.  No husband, no kids, no job.  Don't get me wrong, I love and missed my family very much but I knew I had this time to myself and I was going to enjoy it. 

The only other run I did besides the Firecracker 5K was a double crossing of Hope Pass.  The rest of the time was on the bike.  Lots of time spent on the Silver Rush and Leadville courses with my Leadman buddies.  The Leadville family is small but the Leadman/woman family within that is even smaller and therefore, even tighter.  We really clicked and made it a point to spend some wonderful time together and watch out for each other. 

By the end of the week I had put in almost 20 hours of training and over 20,000 feet of climbing.  A solid week considering part of it was recovering from the marathon.  Time to pick up the family.  Pat and the girls were riding Amtrak from Sacramento and I would pick them up in Grand Junction before we headed to Crested Butte to visit friends.  On my way to GJ I stopped in Glenwood Springs to do a couple hikes I've been wanting to do for a long time.  The first hike was up to Hanging Lake, just off I-70 in the Glenwood Canyon.  It's only a mile hike but it's all uphill.  I took it easy and was amazed at the types of people on the trail.  Everything from folks in their 60's motoring along to families with very young kids who wanted nothing to do with hiking uphill.

Sprouting Rock
 The lake is beautiful, especially Sprouting Rock.  I had a snack, took some pictures, and finally all the people started to annoy me so I quickly made my way back down the trail.  Next stop: lunch.  My coach had recommended Charcoal Burger and I'm so glad I went, it was delicious and you have to try the onion rings.

Just west of GS is Canyon Creek Estates where the trailhead to the Storm King memorial trail is.  In 1994 14 firefighters were killed when a fire blew up below them.  I've hiked this trail once before but I really felt the urge to hike it again.  I spent 2 1/2 hours hiking up and down those canyons, visiting the markers that show where each firefighter fell and I didn't see another soul.  Time well spent.

I drove to GJ where I scoped out the where-abouts of the train station for the next morning then made my way to a hotel room in Fruita.  My first real room and bed after 2 weeks of camping.  Right next door was Rib City Grill where I inhaled a plate of the best ribs I've tasted and washed it down with a slice of pecan pie.

The next morning my family became complete once again when Pat and my girls climbed down off the train and we embraced.  As fun as it was having some solo time, I love my family and it was great to be together again.  The next couple days were spent in Crested Butte playing and relaxing.  The girls loved the Adventure Park at Mt. Crested Butte as well as just skipping rocks in the nearby river.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Leadville to take on the next race in the Leadwoman series, a 50 mile mtn bike race.  That report will be next.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Leadville Firecracker 5K

Four days after running a pretty tough trail marathon, I was in the mood for something short and fast.  On July 4th, Leadville would be hosting the Firecracker 5K, a run through the downtown area.  Sounded good to me but not so much to my coach.  He cautioned me to take it easy and I promised him I would.

I lined up at 9am and when the lone firecracker was lit and went off, I quickly forgot about my promise to Lucho to take it easy.  The downhill start didn't help as I cruised quickly through the first mile feeling really good.  But then the course circled back uphill towards Safeway and the return down Harrison St.  A slight uphill at 10,200 feet felt like I was climbing a mountain.  My pace dropped off but my effort stayed pretty high.  I was sucking in as much air as I could and commanding myself to not walk, no matter how much I wanted to.

Finally we got back onto some level roads and I started picking up the pace.  I could see a group of 3-4 women ahead of me that I wanted to catch but knew I couldn't.  Another woman came up beside me and with the finish line in sight, there was no way I was going to let her pass me.  I sprinted down Harrison St. toward 6th.  The cool thing was that people were lining the street for the parade that was going to take place right after the race but it felt like they were all there just to cheer us on.

I crossed the finish line and collapsed on the grass in front of City Hall where I spent the next 10 minutes gasping for breath and trying to convince myself I wasn't going to die.  I've never run a 5K at such a high effort with such a slow time.  I guess altitude will do that.

I hung out with some Leadman friends as we waited for results.  I was pretty surprised when I found out I finished 5th female and 1st in my age group!  The award ceremony was done promptly and quickly and I received a cool Leadville mug to go with my cool Leadville Marathon Finishers mug.  And I'm not even a coffee drinker!  Hot chocolate will taste just fine in them this winter.

I emailed my coach with the results and he was pretty happy.  I was just happy that he didn't seem upset that I didn't keep my promise to run the race easy.  I guess I just don't have it in me to take it easy in a 5K race.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Leadville Trail Marathon

I went into the Leadville marathon with a fair amount of apprehension.  Up until the middle of May my training had been going along so well but then with my hip pain, training had fallen off a bit, especially the running.  Everyday my hip hurt, whether I was walking or running.  My Leadwoman attempt was in serious doubt.

The night before the race I met up with my coach and a few other Leadman competitors.  It was really nice to finally meet the people behind the blogs.

Race morning we all lined up at a very civilized 8am.  A single cloud above us dropped a few raindrops and as I slowly made my way up the first 4 mile climb, more clouds moved in making for a shady, cool run/hike.  I hit the first aid station in 1 hour (4 miles) and was happy with that.  Even better, my hip wasn't hurting!  I've had this happen before where I deal with an injury and then on race day it's fine.  Whatever, I'll take it.

First climb looking back at Leadville

The next section loops around Ball Mtn and I ran more than walked this section.  A lot of people talk about how tough this section is on the way back so I made sure to pay attention to all the ups and downs.

As I descended toward aid station B I could see a steep road heading up this huge mountain ahead.  I asked another runner if that was the road we'd be running to Mosquito Pass.  She said yes.  Part of me was happy to be able to see exactly where we were going.  The other part of me cringed being able to see exactly where we were going.

The road leading up to Mosquito Pass if you look close

Running through the mining district

Lucho and Sean and Tiana Rockwell were at the aid station and it was wonderful to see them.  They had me in and out in no time and soon I found myself power hiking the 3 mile climb.  Towards the middle it really gets steep and my power hike turned into a survival hike.  The other issue was I was starting to have serious cramps in the arches of both feet and both calves.  I had to really watch my step because every mis-step caused my calves to seize up.  I took some serious S-caps and they helped but the cramps were never far away. 

Starting back down Mosquito Pass
 After an eternity I reached Mosquito Pass.  I remembered what Lucho said and took a few minutes to look around and enjoy the view.  Pretty incredible.  Soon I was on the long, painful, rocky descent, being very careful with my footing and trying not to destroy my quads.  My second time through the aid station, Lucho massaged my calf while I grabbed more S-caps, Sean refilled my camelback, and Tiana grabbed me a couple cups of coke.  It was the best Nascar pitstop ever.

The fact that I was now only 9 miles from the finish and with the coke kicking in, I really started pushing the next few miles.  I knew this feeling from past races, I start slow and then kick it in to the finish.  The return around Ball Mtn wasn't as bad as I was expecting and soon I was on the last 4 mile descent.  The leg and foot cramps were still coming and going and when I really tried to stretch out my stride on the last paved descent they returned in full force.  Another runner stopped and enouraged me to finish with him.  He told me to shorten my stride and that helped.  Before too long I was running faster and picking off a few runners before the finish line.

I went from serious doubt before the race if I could even finish, to hoping to finish in 8 hours to actually having a pretty good day and finishing in 6:42.  I couldn't be happier.  Now on to the Silver Rush 50 mtb.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nervous energy

Tomorrow I leave for Leadville to begin my Leadwoman adventure on Saturday with the trail marathon.  I'm almost all packed and I can't wait to hit the road.  I got my mountain bike back from the shop and it's like a new bike.  New chain, new bottom bracket, new brakes, and new tires.  Unfortunately, it's pouring rain.  So what.  I knew it meant I'd have to wash the bike before loading it up but who cares.  I needed to know how those new tires would handle and what better way to do it than with a fun trail ride in the pouring rain.

I headed up the trail and then down a stretch of newly built trail to Scott's Flat Lake.  It's so well built that it was in great shape despite the rain.  I splashed through puddles, got muddy, and just thoroughly enjoyed myself.  As I was leaving the house my husband told me to have fun and burn off some nervous energy.  Boy, was he right.  It was just what I needed.

Wet, muddy, and happy
I have no idea how Saturday is going to work out.  I ran 3 miles on Thursday with some hip pain.  1 mile on Saturday before the pain stopped me.  But I've had miraculous race day runs before.  Never mind, I DO know how Saturday will turn out.  I will successfully complete the first event of Leadman.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

May, A Setback

I'm starting to sound like a broken record and I hate it.  Things go really well with my training and then something happens to cause a set-back and training gets derailed.  I should have known things were about to change when I kept thinking about how great everything was going.  I kept saying to myself, "just stay healthy".  I found a great rhythm in April and May was just a continuation of that.  Went up to Redding, CA for my daughters swim meet and was able to get out for an early morning run to explore a city I had never been to, except to drive through on my way to somewhere else. 

I discovered a beautiful river path along the Sacramento River and the Aquatic Center was really nice.  I even discovered a new running partner.

Wanna run?

Sundial Bridge

Celebrating with ribbons

Caitlyn, Sara, and Mia after swim meet

May was the month to really push the vertical.  Mid-month I got a workout from Lucho for a long run and to really push the downhill as well as the uphill.  I remember that run like it was yesterday.  I woke up super motivated and ready to run.  I set out on a route that would have me climbing in and out of the Yuba River canyon numerous times.  I felt stronger than I ever had.  I remember thinking that if I feel like this during Leadwoman, there's no chance I will fail.  But there was something else, a little nagging discomfort in my left hip.  I've had this feeling before but it has always gone away without much incident.

To make a long story short, the hip pain has not gone away, even becoming worse at times.  In an effort to solve the problem, I spent some time with VeLoyce from Monsters of Massage.  He specializes in getting extreme athletes back on their feet.  He worked on my hips, piriformis, hamstrings, back, shoulders, you name it.  Everything started feeling better except the hip.  The deep tissue (and often painful) massage was making it worse. 

As May became June I found myself resting the hip a lot more than running and even biking.  It sucks when every step (running and just walking) is painful and you see your dreams slipping away.  What makes it worse is reading the blogs of other athletes like Footfeathers, Running in Circles, Pb Runner, GZ, Wyatt, Kiki, who are training for one or even all of the Leadville events.  Every one of them seems to be really hitting their stride, training hard, healthy, doing double crossings of Hope......I feel like a kid on the playground who watches everyone else play while I sit on the bench wishing I could join in.  Every week I get my training plan from Lucho and I can only do a fraction of what he prescribes.  Luckily I'm in a bit of a taper phase before the marathon but the fact that I can't run without pain is not comforting.  I got in a 3 mile run this morning at Donner Lake, the first 1.5 miles were pain-free and I started feeling hopeful.  But then the pain returned and it's been a constant all day.

I'm leaving for Leadville next Tuesday and I can only hope the magic air of the high Rocky Mountains will have a healing effect on me.  I have every intention of completing Leadwoman but it's been hard to keep the motivation up.  I got pretty down last week and my friend who just ran the Bryce Canyon 100 miler gave me a "tough love" speech.  It brought me out of my funk and I started focusing on the positive.  It's just so annoying to deal with these injuries before a big event.

My numbers for May are decent but could have been better if I hadn't had to back off toward the end of the month.

Run: 161 miles, 22,500 feet, 31 hours
Bike: 252 miles, 30,800 feet, 24 hours
Bike trainer: over 6 hours

On the bright side, May brought my daughter's 9th birthday.  Can't believe she's been in my life for 9 years.  I'm so incredibly proud of the wonderful young lady she's becoming.

Each year Caitlyn draws a picture of what she wants her cake to look like.  I then take the picture to the bakery at Save Mart (they make the best cakes) and they try to replicate it.  They out-did themselves this year.

Lars checking out the cake

The star of the day

After reviewing my training log, I was really able to keep up some decent workouts up until about June 7.  That's when the hip really started to cause my runs to be shortened and even canceled.  That date also coincides with the last day of school.  The significance of that is now my built-in babysitter is gone for the summer (school).  When Pat is on shift at the firehouse, I'm on kid-duty.  So between my 48-72 hours a week on shift and Pat's 48 hour shift when I have the kids, that doesn't leave many days in a week to actually get out on the bike or run for some serious work.

I'm looking forward to being in Leadville so I can regroup and really focus.  I need to be on those familiar trails and soak in the excitement of what is to come.  I've put a lot of time and sacrifice into this adventure and my family has also sacrificed so I need to be successful.  At least give it everything I have.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

April: Rebuilding

After my set-back in mid-March, by the last week of the month I was feeling pretty positive that things were better and I'd have a fighting chance at AR50.  March 31st I had an enjoyable 11 mile run before celebrating Easter with my family, including my parents who had driven up from Morro Bay.  By the afternoon I wasn't feeling so hot. It wasn't long before I was vomiting, had diarrhea, body aches, fever, chills, you name it.  I knew this wasn't the same thing as what I had 2 weeks earlier, this was the full blown flu.

My mother, being a mother, wasn't convinced.  She just knew I was training too hard and was destroying my body.  She was truly scared for me.  I had to agree that I was training pretty hard and my body seemed to be breaking down in ways that I wasn't used to.  My diet could always use improvement so I decided to make some changes.

As I slowly started feeling better, I ordered up some supplements from Hammer Nutrition.  I've been on their Daily Essentials before and feel they really do a good job.  On the recommendation of my coach I also added vitamin D and an omega 3 fish oil pill. I've had no further set-backs and definitely feel better since taking the supplements and improving my diet.

However, I still had to get through AR50.  After battling the flu the week before the race, I really didn't know what to expect.  My best time is 10:03 and I really wanted to break 10 hours.  I caught the bus early at the Auburn Overlook and headed to the start in Sacramento.  First thing I noticed when I stepped off the bus was how warm it was.  This was the 4th time I've run AR50 and it was definitely the warmest start.

I started near the front and quickly settled into a comfortable pace.  I decided to just go by effort and not look at my heartrate.  Since I started toward the front I was able to visit with some of my faster friends as they caught up to and passed me.  The first 18 miles went quickly and I felt great.  I went through the Fish Hatchery aid station 20 min faster than my fastest time.  If the race ended there it would have been a great day.  As it was, I still had 32 miles to go.  And that's when my quads started to hurt.

It must have been the pounding on the pavement, my legs just weren't used to it after so much time on the trails.  I passed the marathon mark only 4 minutes slower than my PR and when I pulled into Beals Point I was tired.  Really tired.  My friend Bill at the aid station took one look at me and knew I wasn't doing well.  My whole body hurt and I was exhausted.  I didn't know how on earth I was going to run to Auburn and yet there was never any doubt that I was going to do it.  I just dreaded how painful it was going to be.  Bill talked me through my deep valley, I dried my tears, and started walking.  I walked until I could jog.  And that became my pattern.  Jog when I could, walk when I couldn't.  Stifle the pain.  Dig deep. 

It took a long time and it wasn't pretty.  My body was just so depleted from being sick earlier in the week and then I went out too fast.  When I looked at my HR average after the race I was surprised how high it was.  My body definitely wasn't recovered from the flu.  I walked/jogged the last 3 mile climb up from the river and was so grateful to see the finish line come into view.  I don't know if I was imagining it but it seemed like the crowd was cheering especially loud just for me.  It really boosted my spirits and I was able to run just that much stronger across the finish line.

I felt pretty unsteady and the exhaustion was overwhelming so the EMS personnel sat me down in a chair and talked to me until I was feeling more like myself.  Getting out of that chair was so hard and I just stiffened up more over the next hour or so.  It seemed to take forever to get my clothes changed, get cleaned up a bit, and eat some food.  I also had several emotional breakdowns where I just cried and cried.  It was really amazing how terrible I felt and emotionally drained I was.  I sent my coach an email that said "10:32 finish.  Horrible race.  I'm never running again."  And I meant it!  Of course his response was, "Awesome! Now you know how deep you can go."  The truth is, it wasn't long before I was thinking of all the things that went RIGHT during the run.  My knee didn't hurt.  My stomach was solid.  My nutrition and hydration were good.

After such a wonderful race at Way Too Cool, it was a real disappointment to struggle so much at AR50.  But after my health set-backs in March, it's easy to understand.  My body was struggling.  It was time to regroup.  I canceled Miwok and the WS100 memorial weekend training runs and just trained.  I needed some consistency without tapering for any races.  The rest of April went really well and I found myself motivated and strong.  Things were finally looking up.

April numbers:
Run: 170 mi, 21,100 ft., 34 hours
Bike: 283 mi, 33,000 ft., 21.5 hours
Bike Trainer: 4 hours

There was a definite shift in April to move more toward the run with less emphasis on the bike.  Time to get 100 mile run ready.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

March: Out like a sick lamb (Part 2)

After having such a successful race at Way Too Cool, I was looking forward to continuing with some strong training.  I did a couple bike rides but then after a strong 8 mile run I noticed my stomach seemed a little off.  I had a date with my youngest daughter to have lunch with her at her school so I headed over there.  I made it through the lunch but was feeling worse. 

By the time I made it home it was all I could do to make it to the bathroom where I had some pretty severe bouts of vomiting.  Along with that, my stomach was cramping something awful.  I had alternate bouts of sweating and chills and found myself curled up in a ball by the toilet, wrapped in a blanket.  The way this came on it seemed like I had food poisoning.  But usually with food poisoning you feel better after vomiting.  I wasn't feeling better.  In fact, it was getting worse.

Adding to my problems was my kids were due home on the bus and my husband was at a week long class at Lake Tahoe.  There was no way I could drive myself to the hospital and I had no one to watch my kids.  What to do?  I called my mom.  They immediately knew things were bad so my dad called Pat in class.  Pat called his buddies at his fire station to come up and check me out.  They also started an ambulance.  Next he called a friend who could come up and take the kids home with her.  Then he started heading home.  It was all taken care of.  As a paramedic/firefighter, it was strange being on the other side of a medical call.  But I was in so much pain I really didn't care.  It was like being in labor where time is suspended and you lose track of your where-abouts.

I was admitted into the hospital where I spent the next three days.  Lots of blood work done and tests taken to rule out all the really bad possibilities.  Bottom line is that it remains a bit of a mystery.  I think the official diagnosis ended up being severe gastroenteritis.  All I know if that Dilaudid is my new best friend.  Amazing stuff.  It's the only thing that could even touch the pain.

It took me a solid week to recover from my stay in the hospital.  Lucho kept things easy as I started rebuilding for AR50 in early April.  I'm still not sure what knocked me down but I was ready to move on.  The last week of March was solid with 53 miles run but only 16 miles on the bike.  I knew my numbers for the month would take a big hit with this unexpected set-back.  Unfortunately, it wouldn't be my last.

March numbers:
Run: 152 miles, 14,000 ft, 25:25 hours
Bike: 145 miles, 18,600 ft, 13 hours
Bike trainer: 3x for 2:45

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

March: In like a Lion (Part 1)

I'm still attempting to get my blog updated from earlier this year.  It really only matters to me for when I look back on this whole Leadman experience.

I hit the ground running in March.  I had 3 solid months of training with Lucho under my belt and Way Too Cool 50K firmly in my sights.  I felt healthy, strong, and I had Lucho's permission to "race this".  In 2009 when I was training for the Leadville 100 run I ran this race in just under 6 1/2 hours.  This year I wanted to break 6 hours.

I lined up on a beautiful morning with lots of really fast runners around me.  It's definitely the early season track meet for ultrarunners.  We headed out for the opening 8 mile loop on trails that I've never been on.  It was a really cool picture with a line of runners weaving along smooth singletrack surrounded by green grass and blooming trees.  I completed the loop in 1:18 and then headed out on more familiar trails.

I changed some things with my nutrition for this race to see how it worked.  I usually do water and S-caps, GU's and aid station food.  I also don't start eating until 1-1.5 hours into the race.  This time I used HEED in my handheld for the first 8 mile loop.  On my way down to Quarry Rd I found I felt really bloated and uncomfortable.  Too much fluid, too many calories, too early.  For the next hour on Quarry Rd I settled into a little easier effort and didn't eat or drink anything.  By the time I started the climb up to ALT I was feeling better.  I stuck to water and GU's for the rest of the race and it worked great.

I had been looking forward to the section from ALT to the finish.  This was a section I had trained on numerous times during the winter.  I knew exactly what my splits should be to Browns Bar, Hwy 49, and Cool and I set out to beat them.  I had paced myself well early on so I was ready to rock it.  I passed a lot of people and ran strong, feeling great.  When I got to Hwy 49 crossing, it was manned by a lot of my friends who cheered wildly as I came through.  I felt like a celebrity!  Lots of high 5's and I didn't even stop as I started up the final climb to the finish.  Here is a great write up and some pictures from my friend Gretchen.  There was a chance I could break 5.5 hours if I kept going strong.  I finally rounded the final corner where I saw my family, Caitlyn jumped up to run across the finish line with me in 5:24:21. 

Caitlyn waiting to run with me to the finish

Two of my biggest fans

So I had the race of my life, took an hour off my 2009 time, and felt great.  Even visited Monsters of Massage for a little rub down post race, a treat I had never indulged in before because I was usually too sore to have anyone touch my legs.  Hard to believe that in only 4 days I would find myself hospitalized.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting Lost.......And Loving It

The bike ride was supposed to be 74 miles with 8400 feet of climbing.  It ended up being 105 miles with 10,800 feet of vertical, the result of one wrong turn.

I started in Foresthill headed out Mosquito Ridge Rd toward French Meadow reservoir with the idea of looping back by Oxbow reservoir to where I started.  Mosquito Ridge Rd is really nice, a 10 mile descent starts you off followed by a real nice gradual climb that lasts 15+ miles.  I was advised to leave a bottle at the start of the loop so I could have it for the long climb back up to Foresthill, which I did.  It took me about 3 hours to reach French Meadow, a recreation lake that really has an isolated feel about it.  You can't help but notice the surroundings showing evidence of past wildfires.  Pretty stark.

It was a beautiful day, blue skies, not too hot (yet), light breeze.  At the first intersection after French Meadow, I knew I didn't want to go to Hell Hole reservoir so I hung a right toward Georgetown.  Shortly after that I was on a descent when I noticed writing on the road that said H2O with an arrow pointing toward the side of the road.  Since there weren't any convenient 7-11's nearby, I decided to investigate.  I'm glad I did.  I found a pipe coming out of the side of the hill pouring forth cold, good-tasting water from some unseen spring.  I topped myself and my bottles off and continued on.  The next intersection I came to was a bit confusing.  It was a non-descript fork in the road with no signs anywhere.  I went left here, apparently I should have gone right.

After a long time of very quiet, deserted backroads in the middle of nowhere, climbing and descending relentlessly, I came out on a beautiful, 2 lane stretch of blacktop, nice wide shoulders, and virtually no traffic.  I didn't have a clue where I was.  I could go left or right.  This time I chose right, literally.  I rode on, completely unsure if I had made the right decision, when I passed a campground called Stumpy Meadows.  I swung in and went to the RV of the campground host to ask directions.  She told me I was on Wentworth Springs Rd.  Shit.  I knew I was hell and gone from where I wanted to be. 

The nice lady said I had 2 choices, go back the way I came (I don't THINK so) or ride 30 miles to Cool then another 20 to Foresthill.  I was already 69 miles into my ride so I did the math and knew I had some work ahead of me. She gave me 2 cold bottles of water, some snacks, and I was on my way.  Thank you so much Stumpy Meadows Campground Host.

I figured I'd call Pat when I got to Georgetown and have him come and get me in Cool.  But when I got there he didn't answer his phone, I left a message and continued on to Cool.  I wanted him to rescue me but I also knew I had the fitness to make the whole ride.  It would just make for a very long day.  The math told me it would be about 100-105 miles to Cool, and 120 miles back to Foresthill.  I was tired but pleased that I was still riding strong.  I also knew my coach would think this was sooo cool.

I arrived in Cool and headed to the Holiday market to use the restroom and get some cold water and snacks to get me the last 20 miles.  I called Pat again to let him know how I was doing and he asked if he and the girls should come and get me.  I have to say that I was totally prepared to ride back to Foresthill but at this point my resolve crumbled.  I had been on the road since 7:40, it was about 90 degrees, and I still had about 2 hours of riding ahead of me, including a descent to the Confluence, back up the other side, and then 14 more miles of hot, exposed, uphill riding.  I told Pat to meet me at Old Foresthill and Foresthill Rd.  That enabled me to enjoy the descent to the river and a very strong and motivated climb up to my "finish" line.

So the ride didn't go exactly as planned but it sure turned out to be a great training ride.  Quite the confidence booster heading into the last month of training before Leadwoman starts.  And my coach reacted exactly like I thought he would, he told me to repeat that "mistake" ride about 3 more times!  The best part is I still have to complete the original French Meadow loop ride.  My husband's nice insulated water bottle is still out there that I have to retrieve.

Here is the Strava link to my ride.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The High 5

The other day I was on mile 21 of my 22 mile long run, tired and ready to be home, when I noticed a female runner coming towards me on the trail.  We both had on backpack style hydration packs and recognized each other for what we were, ultrarunners.  We raised our hands in greeting and I noticed she kept her hand up, she wanted a high 5.  Without breaking stride or saying a single word, we exchanged a high 5, big grins on our faces.  In that moment we respected and admired each other, female ultrarunners, each of us on our own, out there getting it done.

I ran that last mile strong, pushing my body and my pace, my spirit buoyed, the smile never leaving my face.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Seems weird to be writing about February in April but I do want to keep a record of my quest for Leadwoman.  I don't know why it's so hard to keep up with blogging but it is.  I keep telling myself I'll do better but I don't.  Guess I'll do what I can.

February saw a heavy focus on the bike volume.  Coincidentally, my bike racing team happens to hold an annual training camp in Buellton, CA over President's weekend.  Circumstances with my family had me in the Morro Bay area that weekend which is only about an hour north of Buellton so I was able to spend some long days on the bike with some fun teammates.

Perfect weather greeted us each day as we averaged 60-80 miles and 4500-5000 feet of climbing on quiet country roads.  I found myself working hard to stay with the main group and show that my training was paying off.  I still got dropped on the climbs but I was stronger than ever on the flats and rollers, finding myself as the only female hanging with the Big Boys.  But I paid a price for it and a major focus turned to recovery after each ride. Over the 5 day period I rode 236 miles with 16,000 feet of climbing and ran 25 miles with 2600 feet vertical.  A solid block of training.

The rest of the month saw a focus on MAF effort runs and bike rides. Just time in the saddle and on my feet.  I also tried to really push the vertical.  I also took advantage of some long local runs to explore some new trails right in my own backyard.

Some final numbers for February are:

Run: 137 miles, 17,500 ft.
Bike: 326 miles, 29,100 ft.

My work schedule as a firefighter has me spending more time on the bike trainer and treadmill than I'd like.  I work 48 hours straight then I have 4 days off.  I also have an hour and half commute which can eat into training time.  I make the most of it but sometimes that means the bike trainer and treadmill come into play at work in order to keep up consistency.  But my coach uses those days for shorter, more intense workouts and leaves the longer, more vertical workouts for my days off.  They are also good for recovery rides/runs.

In February I also spent 7:30 on the bike trainer.

Today is the day after the Boston marathon bombings.  What a horrible tragedy.  But within tragedy comes heroism.  As someone in the business of rescuing people, I find it comforting to hear all the positive words being said about the Boston EMS, firefighters, and law enforcement.  Thank God for so much selfless compassion by so many.  United we run.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

January 2013

I've started feeling guilty about not updating my blog.  I started out so gung-ho when I signed up for Leadwoman, I wanted to chronicle this amazing adventure of trying to do something so challenging.  But the days, weeks, and now months are slipping by with nothing written, other than keeping track of workouts in my training log.

When I attempted the Leadville 100 in 2009 I kept up fairly well with my blog and I enjoy looking back and reading those posts.  I need to be as diligent with this blog as I am with my training log.  Before I can move forward though, I need to catch up.  May as well start with January.

The New Year really started out well.  Christmas was celebrated with family at my house and we continued the new year's celebrations by heading to my parents house on the central coast.  Every day was spent either running or road biking.  I sought out hills, hills, and more hills.  One day the wind was blowing so strong while on the bike it almost broke me.  Almost.  Instead, it made me stronger.  (I know, what a sappy cliche).

The girls enjoying post Christmas holiday lights at Cambria Pines Lodge

On January 1, early in the morning, I found myself standing on top of Hazard Peak in Montana de Oro state park.  It was the kind of run where I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world.  I hiked strong uphill, pushed the downhills, and went "wheeeee" through the switchback down hill whoop de whoops.  I told myself to remember this exact run, this exact moment, when I cross the finish line of the Leadville 100 run on August 18.  This is why I run.

Looking at Morro Rock from Hazard peak

After my run, the first day of January was spent with the family.  What better way to celebrate 2013 than by taking the Polar Bear Plunge in Cayucos with thousands of other crazy people.  Now Caitlyn loves the water, even really cold water, but we discovered she doesn't like really cold OCEAN water!  But she's a gamer and we all made a quick dip into the Pacific.

It was a quick dip but it was enough!

January saw me doing a lot of volume without any intensity, typical for a lot of athletes this time of year.  Lots of long bike rides, long runs, and lots of elevation gain.  One place where I know I failed in my Leadville preparation in 2009 was I didn't do enough climbing.  I'm not going to make that mistake again.

On top of "The Wall" on Santa Rosa Creek Rd.

Due to the weather, I found myself visiting the Cool/Auburn area quite frequently. 4 weekends in a row actually.  A couple of solo long runs, a Way Too Cool group training run, and the Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Run. Some nice photos of the memorial run can be found here, on Gretchen's blog.

I've really enjoyed the consistency of my workouts and the daily juggle of bike rides, runs, work, kids, school, sports, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and being a wife and mother.  No moss growing under these feet, no sir.  But without all that structure (and good time management skills), I would get lazy.  In January I ran 128 miles (15,000 ft) and biked 380 miles (41,600 ft).  5:15 on the stationary bike. Stay tuned for February.