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.