Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of the year

It's been a good year for me! I've closed out December with something like 50 miles, as this month was my rest month. Honestly I was feeling pretty burnt out and tired of worrying about my fitness level due to an upcoming race. Along with that I had a few issues with PF and my ankle so I missed the last 50k of the year. It's a pretty sucky feeling, especially when you know there is no wait-list, but I had to do what was right for me. Quite a few people scoff at DNS, but quite a few people don't know the full story behind many of those. Plus I contacted the RD & Volunteer coordinator with my intention. The good thing is, I've had time to relax, time to reflect, time to plan and time to get really excited about next year. I'm optimistic and happy. I'm thankful I took the break.

The first week of December in Portland was incredibly cold. I'm not sure if the weather was ever above freezing, and many days it was under 20 and some had negative wind chills. I learned that among the obligation to train (this should be fun!), cold weather is not my thing. Lack of proper attire (capri's only) was a factor, but it doesn't get cold enough here usually to warrant tights. I fretted over a 12 mile week. A cut back week is actually good for the body, but along with everything else, I decided to cut myself a big break and focus on the positives -- and relax!

I have kept up with my long run on Saturday's though. Back in November I offered to pace a group for the winter at a slower pace than what I'd usually run, and overall it's been a really nice experience. Since it's a purely volunteer gig, everyone is really thankful and it's gratifying to help others get through a long run, as well as put in a few miles myself. We're up to 14 miles right now and last week was run at a 11:07 pace. I'm a-okay with that. It was kind of neat that it only took a couple weeks to get used to the roads again, though the first few runs were torture. I really am looking forward to hitting the trails again though.

Race schedule is being finalized, and all in all this year was full of surprises. I certainly pushed myself further than I thought I would, and next year will likely be no different. Accept all of 2013 and move forward. I've never cared for resolutions, as I have general goals and they're always evolving. I'm usually determined enough to make things happen, but if you're a resolutions person, then go for it. Make a schedule, a plan, a list, whatever you need, and start the year off right. Live your life with a purpose... even if that purpose is small, a little annoying, and likely somewhat self-absorbed (if you're a runner, ha ha!).
Happy New Years!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 Race Schedule Planning

I'm excited about planning next years races! I plan to have a focus and less spontaneous race sign ups, and I also have a partner in crime for most of my races. This is pretty darn sweet!

I have one race left for 2013, Deception Pass 50k in December, and then I'm out for at least 2 months. On Sunday I went out to run at Hagg Lake since I hadn't been there and to preview the trail. I knew it would be muddy, and with 300+ runners and more rain, February will be insane. I don't hate mud, but I have a feeling after that race I won't be keen on it. I haven't made up my mind yet though.

Bryce Canyon is something that both Deb and I are really interested in, because how gorgeous would that be?! But if we travel that far, I'd really like to run the 50 miler for the scenery and challenge. When did 31 miles not become enough?

I have hesitations on Bryce Canyon for a few reasons. Cost, training shifts (my focus is later this year) and difficulty. I plan to go back to Sun Mountain to re-visit my first 50k as a slightly more experienced runner. If Bryce Canyon was on the list, I'd likely consider the 50 miler at Sun Mtn. After some reflection, I think tackling this is too much for me right now, and I'm sticking with my plan to run Mt Hood 50 in 2014 and push Bryce and Sun Mtn 50m back to 2015.

Another June race that has piqued my interest is a 24 hour run near Eugene on June 21st. The 24 hour run is a 2.5 mile loop trail and during this time the goal is to just move and do what you can. You can stop whenever you want. The 24 hour run would be great for Mt Hood due to time on feet, though I'd still log many hilly miles and more specific trail training for Mt Hood. Though Mt Hood's 50m is pretty mild sounding with 5,600 ft of gain and nice cushy trails. It's an out and back course. Bear in mind, that 50 miles is not something I'm considering easy - but when I say "mild" it's in comparison to other races I've been looking at.

List of races
(Maybe's are in italics)
February 15th - Hagg Lake Mud Run 50k ~2k ft gain, super muddy
March - Possibly Mercer Island 1/2 again, Gorge Waterfalls, March 29th, 6kft, point to point, (lottery), or just a long training run
April 13th - Peterson Ridge Rumble, 40m, 3k ft, Sisters, OR
May 18th - Sun Mtn 50k, 5k ft, Winthrop, WA
June 8th - Beacon Rock 50k, 7500ft gain, North Bonneville, WA
June 14th - Smith Rock Ascent 50k, 4500ft gain, Terrebonne, OR
June 21st - Elijah Bristow, 24 hour run, near Eugene, OR
July 12th - Mt Hood 50m 5600ft
August 16 - Waldo 100k 18 hr limit, 10k feet
August 23rd/24th - *Volunteer* Cascade Crest Classic 100m (volunteer to secure spot in 2015)
September 6th - Mckenzie River Trail Run 50k (barring lottery acceptance)
September 27th/28th - Mountain Lakes 100m, 30 hr limit, 10k+ ft gain

I've decided I'm going to target Mountain Lakes for my 100m, since it makes the most sense for me in terms of elevation, location, and low chance of sell out. I'd love to run CCC but I don't think I'll be ready for it as much as I could be in 2015, it's a lottery entry, and it'd be harder to secure pacers due to being further from PDX and me not knowing many people yet. Pacers are something which I will take advantage of if I can find people. Deb and I agreed that volunteering at CCC this year would be our best call then we could both run next year. The only downside to that is she wouldn't be available to pace, but that's okay - she'll be here this year and I've got 18 months to figure the rest out!

I'm hoping to volunteer for at least 2-3 other races this season. I'd really love to sweep, since it means I can run the course too, but I also enjoy aid stations and finish line activities. Deb is up for this as well. It's a great way to meet people, give back to the community, and sometimes get a free race entry for the future!

Waldo 100k is a race I'd really love to run, but I'm nervous about the difficulty of the course. Deb has expressed interest in running a 100k this year, but I'm not sure if this is a race she would run without wanting to murder me. I'm not even sure if she'll sign up. If we do, it'll mean we need to get incredibly serious about our climbing and downhill running skills -- something which I'm keen on doing, and it helps to have a partner to train with. Hill/mountain repeats in the Gorge! My goal is to get her to sign up without looking at the website. Ha ha ha!

The next two months after Deception Pass (Dec 15th) will be my serious downtime. I've been working on glute and core strength. I've realized that (as everyone has said) my glutes are shit. All the split squats I'm doing hurt, but even after two weeks I felt stronger on the uphills this weekend at Hagg Lake (even if they were shorter). I anticipate going starting 2014 much stronger and working from a solid base. I need the downtime too. I adore running but I don't know how people perpetually train for races year round without a few months of decreased mileage (less than 20/week).

In the spirit of embracing the downtime, I have reached out to pace a marathon training group for a couple months. I'll be pacing the 4 hour group, but the coach has them train much slower than target pace, so mileage pace is 10:40. This is perfect as I want to keep it slower. Their long run mileage for the two months will be 10 - 16 miles, so it's where I want to be. It'll be flatter road running. It'll keep me accountable, but not overdo it. This weekend will be my first weekend with the group and we're running 10 miles. I'm only vaguely familiar with the route so it should be interesting. After the run I am going to head to either Powell Butte or Forest Park for another 10 miles, as I need to get in a final longer run for the 50k, and I want some quicker trail miles - but most weeks the group run will be it!

Cheers to your 2014 planning! Now I get to share the plans with my running buddy and hopes that she doesn't veto anything super awesome. I've learned I can talk her into a lot though...just don't tell her I said that. Deb has bought a stuffed mini-weasel that is her new trail buddy. She's already started taking pictures. MW is going to freeload and hitch a ride on all of our trail adventures. She makes me want my own trail mascot. I bought a bunny the same day as mini-weasel, but I'm not sure if he'll be my trail buddy because he's a little big. Bunny and mini-weasel!

I shamelessly stole her pictures from this weekend because I didn't bring a camera.

This is a picture of Hagg Lake, but it is a pretty darn big lake (14 miles around). I think she only took this one picture. I'm a much more reliable photographer.

MW hanging out!

These are not my shoes. I wish I had taken a picture of mine and my muddy legs, but she's a big fat copier and wears the same shoes (different color) and socks as me, so just pretend they are mine. ;)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn Leaves 50m = done!

I knew signing up for a 50 miler this year was a bold move. But 11 hours, 10 minutes and some seconds later, I finished the race. I even had 30 minutes to spare at the cut-off (at 44 miles) too! While I HURT SO MUCH today, I'm pretty darn excited to have earned my first belt buckle. It sure is pretty!

Fairly certain the course measured a little long and I'm taking credit for every darn mile I ran. Ha ha! No, seriously. I am. If I take out one of the lap outliers, the avg lap was 6.4 miles instead of 6.25. 50 miles is long way to run. (6.4 * 8 =) 51.2 miles is a long, long way to run.

Longest distance ever recorded on my watch so far! It kind of blows my mind

I don't really have any other pictures than the one Deb took of me after finishing with my buckle. The black and orange tape is KT tape that my sports chiro put on for knee tracking. I joked that if I pulled it off my entire leg/body would fall apart. On course, about mile 40-something, that thought was pretty amusing.

My entire body aches today, but it was worth it. I discovered I had a belt that I can put this buckle on and have been lounging around in it in my PJ's like a refined, classy person.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement. I'm blown away at how many people have been so supportive - because I know this really was a crazy thing for me to do. Today the Columbia Gorge Marathon is happening. That was my first marathon one year ago. I never guessed I'd be where I am today...in fact the thought of running ultra distances seemed ludicrous until early this year. It's not. It's pretty darn awesome. And a little painful. ;-)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Going into my first 50 miler

Autumn Leaves is this weekend. I've been nervous all week, fretting about how I could have been much more prepared. How I should have run more flat paved routes in preparation, and how my running discipline has dropped off and I only ran 12 miles last week, and they were all shitty. I've been feeling sorry for myself that my choice in support/crew fell through and I haven't even been in touch with the one person who I thought (hoped?) was my biggest cheerleader. I thought about how lucky so many of my friends are to have devoted husbands, friends, and family members to come run some miles with them, give them some gentle encouragement or a good kick in the pants if needed, fill up their hydration pack with the right mix of electrolytes and give them reminders to eat.

But at the root of it all, ultra running is truly a selfish endeavor. It's one that can ask a lot of people not directly involved with little reward. It can mean countless hours of a loved one not being present, with the hours one is there not 100% present either. For myself, I recover fairly quick energy-wise, but the days leading up to a race I'm tunnel visioned, and the day of and day after I experience extremes. Elation and exhaustion. And likely I'm still talking about the race non-stop. What I could have done better, what I did that worked, how beautiful the course was, how hard the course was, who was there, what I ate... It's really endless, especially if you chose to race (or maybe I should say, attend) often.

So maybe asking someone to be there who doesn't understand this (obsessive)process is quite a lot. Beyond seeing that person you care about succeed and start beaming like an idiot, or DNF and work through the stages of acceptance, if you are not inspired and motivated by their boldness to tackle something outside their comfort zone, then there really is little in it for you. It's not a thankless job to show up and be supportive and help, but it is usually a delayed thank you. It can mean hours of waiting for just minutes of rushed support. It can mean trying to summon someone out of a rut and crawling at a snails pace. But showing up out of obligation is not what anyone needs anyway, and your runner will sense it and it will not help them.

A crew and a pacer is a gift. I'm going into my first 50 miler at peace that I don't have this, and ultimately, I really don't need this. I'm set up well on course because of the loops, and I've always been smart about my drop. I supply/carry my own nutrition because I'm picky and on course drink and gels have never been what I use. My strengths have always been that I run even paced and have decent form. My friend and running buddy, Deb, is running the 50 miles too and while we don't tend to run together at races, I imagine there will be quite a few stretches that her and I run together. Her supportive husband is coming out later and I'll feed off his positive energy. I know a few other people who will be out there and we'll pass one another often, so even if I'm in my race haze, it'll still be uplifting enough to see we're all in this together.

This post is coming off a lot more somber than I meant it to be! I'm thrilled to be going into this race healthy and thankful for the camaraderie I do have. Though I'm regularly seeing my sports chiro, it's for maintenance and improvement and not because I'm fighting an injury. Though the past month hasn't been ideal for training, sometimes cutting back to stay healthy is important. I tend to forget that taking on a really long trail run/race once a month is asking a lot from my body since this is all so new. I'd like to think I'll be a little more reserved for next years race schedule. Or at least one with a little more purpose, rather than haphazardly signing up for anything that sounds like fun. Hah!

Regardless of how tomorrow goes, I'm ready. I don't want to fail and I'll fight to make the 10 hour, 44 mile cut off. I like what Maureen said in her race recap of last years race, "I didn't just come here to run a 50k", and I think that's going to be one of my mantras tomorrow. I'm back to the eerily calm stage that I tend to occupy right before every race. Sometimes I just need to freak out a little to get here. And I'm here, and ready to go!! Now I only have to buy some Trailbutter, a power cookie for breakfast, package up Tailwind into baggies, throw everything into my drop, and then sleep!

Yep, this is happening!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Picture heavy post! B2B Course Sweep (PCT pictures)

Last weekend's course sweep was quite an experience. Out of tact I won't publish the gritty details, but I did encounter two women who were not prepared at all to run one inch of the course and chose to leisurely hike. This wouldn't be an issue if races weren't designed with cut-off times for reasons. I hate being the sweeper of bad news, but we were over an hour behind cut-off with almost 2 miles to go (until aid#1 mile 7.6) when there were quite a few demands for us to rescue them. Yikes. This type of behavior holds up everyone, of which, 100% are volunteers. It's unfortunate, but thankfully most trail runners are wonderful courteous people who read cut-offs and familiarize themselves with the course a little.

Corban and I had a good time though, even though the drive was a lot longer than I realized. It was nice to get away even for a few hours before he headed off to his two week long trip to England and Germany. I'm totally jealous :)
I took a lot of photos and wanted to share some of the promised ones from the Bunker to Bonneville course sweep (8/31/13) and then two that I've uploaded from this past weekend up at Cle Elum. I'll get to uploading a few more from Cle Elum next time!

The rocky trail heading towards Table Mountain

Running on these rocks was not the highlight of my run, but it was a beautiful trail!

Such a lovely place to run!

Three Corner Rock - we climbed on up that mid-race (mile 18ish)!
Deb (my fellow sweeper and running buddy) and me in front of the big ole pile of rocks!

One view from the top. We were able to see Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt St Helens. This is Mt Hood.

Another neat spot we ran through after coming down from 3 Corner Rock and back on the PCT.

Somewhere along the start of our descent back down to Bonneville. We ran on down to the Columbia (which you can see in the background)

Corban and I taking in the view up at Cle Elum (about 4 1/2 hours north east of Portland)

I love Washington!!

This year has been the year of exploring so many new places to run up in Washington. I still have three more Washington races that I'm really excited about. Bellingham, Deception Pass, and Baker Lake. Oregon has millions of spectacular places to run too, but Washington is a trail runners dream. Plus I don't like mountain lions and Southern Oregon running scares me a little. (Though I have read there are some in WA too!) I'll get over my fears though because next year I hope to run quite a few races that are in my lovely state.

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Fall Race Schedule

Since I didn't get to run as much as I wanted this summer I've packed my fall up. But now my race schedule is established and I'm going to do my best to play nicely and not add anything else!!

Cle Elum sweep Sept 21
Baker Lake 50k Oct 5
Autumn Leaves 50m Oct 26
Bellingham Trail Marathon Nov 10
Deception Pass 50k Dec 15

Deception Pass will be Corban's first 50k, so that's exciting! I'm hoping he'll sign up for the Bellingham Trail marathon too, since he's course sweeping as well and will have a free entry, but it's all dependent on his work schedule. We're hoping to make a trip up to BC for a mini-vacation on that trip, so I'm crossing my fingers that it works out as I've never been to BC. I'd love to finally make it to west coast canada, even if I go solo.

So back to running! I guess we should talk about the 50 miler I snuck in there, huh? I wasn't sure if my body would be ready for that distance yet, but I decided to go ahead and sign up for something that I'd have the best chance of completing. It's a flat looped course and it's mostly a paved bike path. It isn't something I'm really drawn to, but I am really wanting to push a little further and complete this distance. I want to at least try. As a 50 miler I'm taking the early start at 6am and I have 10 hours to run 7 loops of the 10k course. I'm not sure about how long we have on the 8th loop, but I'm guessing if we start it in time that we'll get a finishing time. That average pace is just a touch over 13:45. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this but I'm trying to remind myself that I have absolutely nothing to compare this to because I've never even run a flat road marathon. Even at my hilly road marathon pace with expected drop off in time, I am estimated to hit this cut-off, no problem, but of course you just don't know!

I'm lucky though. I have a supportive crew of people cheering me on and I have a great race buddy who I can convince to run all these stupid distances with me. Ha ha! I was telling Anise that she can be my crew manager for the 50 miler, making sure that I'm eating what I need to eat and maybe even run/walk a few miles with me and she said, "I better start training!!". I love that girl. Last night we ran 4 miles at Kelly Point Park with a 3 min run, 1 min walk ratio. I'm trying to ease her back into running slowly and we had a good time running on the paths, the beach, and the grass. I took 4 days off after the 50k to let my ankle heal, since it was pretty tender for a couple days, but it felt fine last night!

Last week the top of my calf was aching before the 50k. My sports chiro treated it (laser and some painful massage) and taped it up and it gave me no problems during the race. I took the KT tape off yesterday since it was peeling and I could feel that spot again while running! How funny. Here's why I like my sports chiro though: they advocate movement. I've seen two people at the same practice, Dr Andreys and Brad Farra, and while I appreciate both of their different approaches I think I take more to Brad's slightly more aggressive treatment. I'll continue to see him every other week or so during the next few months, but besides a few achy spots here and there (normal stuff mostly), I'm doing really well! I have been keeping my mileage low enough with enough rest in between too. So here's to a healthy fall racing season! I prefer fall weather anyway, so it all worked out okay. Bring on the rain, color changing leaves, and the wind!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mckenzie River 50k 2013 recap

McKenzie River was such a great race! The swag was pretty amazing: a bottle of wine bottled specially for the event and a nice thick shirt. I also bought a cozy pack blanket they had from last year (perfect for picnics!).

We ran by the river most of the time but got some spectacular views of waterfalls, a few lakes, and even through a neat path on a lava rock field. That was the only paved portion and while we got the full pumice stone experience later on, it was nice to not have to conquer that at the very beginning!

This wasn't a mountain 50k and was much, much easier on me physically. Mentally I already felt much better about this distance but I wouldn't have taken the open spot last minute for this race if it were a mountain course. We had a net downhill and the course was pretty much all runnable. Most people would say it was all runnable, but unless you want to faceplant on jagged rocks, that part is not runnable. Many of the fast people coasted on by me between miles 14 - 20, though the front runners passed us as early as mile 8 (and I had an hour head start because I took the early start). Wow!

99% of the other runners were wonderful. I met a group of people that I chatted with for half the race. Unfortunately there were two sour grapes I encountered later in the race when I was running solo: a guy who told me he was passing on the left down a steep trail (when we were almost at the bottom) that caused me to stumble, he couldn't wait for 4 seconds?? but the person that takes the cake was this blonde girl who jumped onto a shaky bridge (halved logs with a railing on one side) and decided to bum rush me to the end causing me to feel sick/dizzy. She couldn't have passed me on the bridge anyway. It was inconsiderate of her and she got a few select words from me. People, if you run trails most everyone will stop and let you go by, but if you're on a sketchy section it's okay to express that you'd like to pass someone, but also express "when it's okay/safe".

It was nice to be able to run almost the whole time - though I faded around mile 26 for a couple miles and walked a little bit more. I kept most of my aid stops brief (except for the one drop bag location). I didn't take in enough calories and didn't drink as much Tailwind or water as I am used to, but I supplemented with salt tablets and felt just fine. My middle finger got stung (not a big deal) but I did roll my ankle 3 times right after we passed over the most technical spot with lava rocks and were back on soft smooth trail. Of course, right?! I rolled it 3 times in that mile and let myself walk most of the way to the mile 17 something aid station. I continued on after that at a steady pace and almost all of the trail was soft and much easier to run on, so I was only in minor pain. I was concerned I'd have to drop on the third roll, but after a few minutes of walking it felt okay enough to finish.

My garmin reported close to 1,800 feet of gain. I would have guessed maybe a little more because it was a rolling trail but I have horrible judgement. My GPS did drop out twice and there was actually a couple hundred foot spike the first time, so it may have been closer to 1,600. Either way, elevation is not the only tricky factor in a race (but ultimately, yes this was gentler). I enjoy running downhill! It's a bit harder with a sore ankle though...

I'm pretty proud of this performance (a little over 56 minutes faster than my first 50k) as about half of this course was much more technical and that certainly slows you down too! After last week's 34 miles, I had no idea how this would go down :-)

I got to meet one of my daily mile buddies, Maureen and her friend who was running her first 50k - awesome! I wish I could have run with them a little longer as they were in high spirits, but I was just a little bit faster and determined to try and hit my 7 hour goal. My pace didn't drop off much. Miles 6-11 were strong and consistent, and 21 & 22 were my fastest (in the 10:30 range). I don't really hit big walls, I just have stronger and weaker spots of races but for the most part the weaker spots are becoming much shorter. I think my shift in attitude has drastically changed how I perform. I also think feeling confident about tackling longer runs helps too. I am usually just really happy being out in the forest and enjoying myself rather than being focused on numbers. I don't look at my watch often at all, I just run on feel. As I get stronger, I run faster.

There were a lot of people on the trail that I chatted with and ran with for awhile - they all seemed to want to pace off of me, which was fine because they were chatty (and not like creepy dude). I find it funny that people see me as a good pacer, but I do run consistently. For the first 10 miles we had about 5 people, lost 2 then gained 2 more. After mile 22 or so, they slowed down a bit and I didn't see them again. I'm sure they all finished though! *edit* I checked the results and all of them did! Hooray!

The two people I was staying with and the guy who was hanging out with us were super fast. 5:30, 5:40, 5:50. That's just really impressive to me, maybe someday, eh? It worked out okay though because I did the early start and they only had to wait 12 minutes for me at the finish. Afterwards we were able to go get some post race food at a church (?) and even take a shower, which was great! It was nice to carpool down with someone too and get to know another fellow runner. She was easy going and I have to admit, geeking out over other ultra course is a lot of fun, since I'm usually talking to myself about this stuff. Ha ha!

I didn't take any pictures from this race and the 3 times I spotted a race photographer were awful timing. The first time I tried to jump but he didn't catch me, the second time was right after I rolled my ankle and I couldn't muster up a run, and the last time I had just taken a bathroom break and was trying to put my pack back on. To say that my race photos will be sucky for this one will be an understatement. Hah!

I'm super excited I got to run this race and had a fantastic time!! I'm already crossing my fingers that I get into the lottery next year. I'd recommend this race to anyone, even though it's already a popular event. The volunteers were some of the best that I've come across (on par with Rainshadow running volunteers) and the energy and excitement at this race was incredible. Taking an early start was actually a lot of fun because I finished in the middle with a lot of other people and it's nice to come into fully stocked aid stations! Though I think after 25 years the RD's have a pretty good idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.

Three days post race I am feeling like I'm recovering well. I vowed not to run until at least Wednesday this week, and my ankle is happy with that decision. Thankfully the rolling caused minimal damage. It was very tender Sunday but it's much better today. I'm still going to get a brace or at least wrap it for a little bit since this has always been my weak ankle. After the past two weekends it's important for me to take my recovery seriously to keep any debilitating injuries at bay. So far, so good! I realized I ran 75 trail miles in 8 days -- that's a lot for me! I feel like I'm coming back much stronger and am really looking forward to my races in November and December. My goal is to have a happy & healthy 2014 and continue to become a better (and a little faster) trail runner. Cheers!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Course Sweeping Rocks!

I survived course sweeping and actually had a blast! Deb and I kicked some butt and we did a lot more running than I thought we would do. Mostly we walked the steeper climbs and then took super long breaks at the aid stations chatting with volunteers and eating from the buffet. Ha ha!

We started at the Whistle Punk Trailhead, did a short out and back, then headed up onto the PCT for about 28 miles. There were two big climbs and two big descents, with the second descent being almost 6 miles. I loved it but Deb felt differently about all the downhill.

At mile 18 we climbed a huge rock formation and gazed out onto pretty views of all the surrounding mountains (St Helens, Adams, Jefferson, Hood, maybe Ranier too). We finished up a few seconds after the final runners, as we caught up to them and only stayed about 1/8 of a mile behind once we were on pavement again. It would have been nicer to finish up a little quicker, but the walking was a nice cool-down.

The sweeps coming into the finish

Total mileage: 34.06 and 6,200 feet of gain. My longest run yet!

I took over 100 pictures of the trail and the view but keep forgetting to bring my laptop with me during the day to post them. I never want to do anything on my computer at night. I had uploaded them all to Facebook but the upload failed. I do have a few pictures though to post in the meantime until I can post some others!

Pocket Fuel was a sponsor and since we were last at the aid stations, I ended up with quite a hefty bulk of them! The last aid station tried to give me a huge bag of them, but I only had so much room in my pack. We scored a nice t-shirt and a pint glass for climbing 3 corner rock. Very cool!

Last night Deb and I ran the first Portland Trail Series race. The runners of this series are a bit intimidating since they're all so fast, but it was a good way to get out and log a few miles before this weekend. My legs felt like bricks and my ankles were crying out for mercy for the first 4 miles. I should mention that the trail we were on this past weekend had a few miles of nasty slag rocks that were the trail. I'm impressed with anyone that can run on that without rolling an ankle. Anyway, towards the last 1 1/2 miles of the race last night I sped up, raced up the very end of the last hill, then coasted down 3/4 mile to the finish. We walked a lot but I still ended up with a decent 11 min average pace, which I'll take for such a short time after this weekend!! This series is not about ranking for me, it's just a way to enjoy the trails and maybe push myself just a little.

This weekend is the McKenzie River 50k! My calf is a bit tender from last night but besides that I think I'm good to go. Besides that <6 mile trail run, this weekend is it. My legs aren't as fresh as they could be and I'm taking the early start so I don't feel time cut-off pressure, but if I have a good run I'm hoping to knock off good chunk of time from my Sun Mtn time. Though the ultimate goal is to just have a lovely time on a new trail and keep things easy if I need to. Thankfully I now feel a lot more comfortable about the distance, especially since this isn't a mountain 50k. My body is asking for more sleep so I'm hoping to get in another solid 9+ hours tonight. Recovery from long distance running requires a lot of sleeping too!

I'll leave you with a fun picture that Deb took at the very end of the B2B sweep. We found a smiley face about 100m from the finish and I got down for a cheesy thumbs up grinning pose! This photo makes me happy because it reminds me how good it feels to finish such a long distance and be on cloud 9. Running is tough, but I really do love it. I also really love having company and Deb and I seem to run well together. New trail buddy!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Long Overdue Update June - August - whew!

What I've been up since Sun Mountain in bullets:

End of May/beginning of June

*I ran a trail marathon 5 days after the 50k and developed some issues with the back of my knee
*I kept running though that and landed myself a nice injury (popliteus was inflamed, and secondary calf and hamstring strain)
*What was happening: I'd run, it'd get inflamed, I'd run though it, then the next day I couldn't walk/straighten my leg
*Two very expensive PT visits for diagnosis
*Two full weeks off of running, I started biking a little but that didn't last long (sore butt - ouch!)
*Three Acupuncture visits (covered by health care)
*A massage
*Started running again near my birthday and had a painfree mile, which was amazing!
*The week of my birthday things went back downhill :(
*And then *tada!!* I found a sports chiropractor who is covered by my insurance and does Graston, ART, K-laser, and KT tape who I started seeing once a week


*The chiro visits were going well and keeping me mobile
*I decided to keep my goal on the forest park trail marathon on August 17th, with the hopes I'd be able to get mileage back up in time
*It was like starting over again at first and everything was touch and go - the inflammation was gone but I had to chill between each run to not overdo it
*Starting ramping up mileage "safely" using a loose 10% rule at first, then increased as my body could handle
*Long runs: 7.5 miles, 10 miles, 14 trail miles
*Lots of trail time - pretty much all of my runs outside of long runs with the group were on trails
*No speedwork because it screwed with my leg, but I was feeling good! only feelings of tightness remained


*Long runs: 18 miles, 14 trail miles, trail marathon! - yay, I was able to do it!
*I even beat my trail marathon from the one back in May by a little over 10 minutes and this one had 3k worth of elevation vs 2k from May.
*Feeling good that I was able to work back up to the marathon distance so quickly, and I know it's in part because I've been working with a good sports chiro

So that brings everything up to the present. Mostly. Back at the end of July I put some faith in my healing process and reached out to a local RD. She's putting on a 50k this weekend and I asked if I could course sweep. I haven't swept a course before, but I have another course sweep in September, and I have a pretty good idea of what it entails: following the last runner (preferably not within a distance that they can see you unless they're sagging behind cut-off), collect course markings, pick up trash, and if someone needs help you help them. My friend Deb signed up for the trail marathon with me, she kicked total butt, and I worked my charms to coax her into this gig. Course sweeping is slow. It's stop and go, and I think we'll have a blast! Having company is invaluable, even though we tend to do our own thing.

So there's one more bit of bad news, then some good news. The bad news is my car ABS system is shot. At 72k miles. What the heck? I've been battling this for awhile, but it's in the shop right now. I'm saving money though by going to a different shop, and they're also fixing my brakes, so the total cost is $900. I'm not excited about this, but I'm glad that my car will be reliable and fixed. I foresee future road trips!! If my car is going to keep breaking, I better at least freaking get to use it.

Right after I found out this quote I got some good news though! Back in April I signed up for the McKenzie River 50k (Sept 7th) but didn't make the lottery. Enough people dropped and I received an email that said I could run the race if I replied immediately, so I jumped on it!

So, yeah, it's two back to back 50ks. It could seem a bit irrational to do this. I'm sure it is, considering where I was back in May/June. There are a few positive's going for me though and that's: I had almost zero pain after the forest park marathon, and this weekend will be slow. It's still 31 miles though. I've gotta respect the distance. I will promise that I'm not going to sign up for anything longer until my body is stronger though!

McKenzie River is well known and supposed to be beautiful. It was the first 50k I wanted to run. Did I mention the course is also a net downhill? Nice! It doesn't look like there are too many climbs - just smaller ones, and ultimately you end up about 1,000 feet lower than where you started, so that may just be my kind of run. This weekend could also be a good boost for next week too as long as I chill out pretty much all week. I get to run by a pretty lake, over some lava fields, and near a river. It sounds blissful!

Now my friends, you are updated! I'm bringing my camera this weekend since we'll have time for pictures and I'll do my best to blog more often & write less in an entry. The race this weekend is almost all on the PCT. A day away in the mountains sounds glorious, though this part is a little daunting:

ha ha! Wish us luck :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sun Mountain 50k Recap

This recap is two months late. A majority of this was written the night after the race. Some was written a few days later. The final part of this was written today, 2 months out. I need to get back into blogging because a lot has happened since then and I'm already signed up for another 50k or two with plans for a bit more next year. ;-) I realize this recap is uncomfortably long too. Enjoy! Ha!

First 50k in the books!! I owe much gratitude to Monica, a more seasoned runner who took me under her wing, encouraged, and stayed with me for the second half of the race.

The course was incredibly beautiful and incredibly tough. Somewhere between 5-6k of elevation. I picked something challenging for a reason and knew I'd be humbled out there, but the elation of finishing was such a proud moment -- you forget the dirt, bruises, sweat, and doubts and just live, breathe and smile in that amazing moment. Your time doesn't matter. What matters is your spirit.

The Drive

The last couple hours of the drive over was simply breathtaking. Parts of the Northern Cascades reminded me of the Adirondacks, except they're much, much steeper. Maybe it was the twisty roads around the lakes. Diablo Lake was probably my favorite. I didn't get any pictures of that but I did slow down and take a few other pictures on my drive over. Apparently a mid-afternoon Saturday drive meant there was little traffic on this stretch of highway. I even took a bathroom pit stop right outside of the car and didn't encounter anyone!

After a long 6 hours in the car (with the last hour spent through the mountains) I arrived in the Methow Valley and a cute little town called Winthrop. This is the dry side of the North Cascades and the terrain is still phenomenal but in a completely different way. The mountains are smoother, drier, greener, with abundant plant life. But make no mistake, many of those trails are dry and exposed!

My first stop was to pick up my race number. My second stop was to open the lock box at the inn I stayed at and drop off my things. The third was to head to a local grocery store for some food. I accomplished all three things pretty quickly because the town of Winthrop, WA is tiny. I should have walked through the town and taken a quick picture but I didn't. The town has a cheesy Western theme to it, but it's actually so tiny that it's charming. Leavenworth, WA has a Bavarian type theme and I felt pretty differently about that town - though the bouldering and camping about 10 miles away was super!! I'll be back to Winthrop though.

The above pictures are where I stayed and the car I rented. The room was inexpensive, comfortable and clean. It also had a microwave (which I didn't end up using - I guess when you don't have one at home you just don't think about it!) and a fridge and ice, which I adored. And a coffee maker! I'm not sure why but I have really gotten into mini coffee makers at hotels when I never used to touch them.

I rented a car because I'm having some issues with mine. An expensive $1k fix type of issue. Ugh. It works but my cap is 3 hour drives and this one was six. Plus I scored an amazing $42 deal for 3 days on a mini-cooper. I loved that car!! I remember thinking I disliked them, but later realized it was the dumb PT cruisers that I wasn't fond of. This car had so many comfortable features that really made my trip. Like, I got to plug in my ipod and listen to music I don't have on CD's! I also got to charge my phone the entire time via USB and keep my GPS on without fear of draining my phone battery, so I knew just how much more time I had to drive. But the best part? You just press an "on" button when it starts to rain and the wipers are sensor activated. I have no idea how this works but as the rain picks up, so do the wipers. Finally, it was pretty nice to not have to downshift during the mountain pass. Automatic cars are so simple to drive!

I kinda wish I had taken a little better care of the outside of my car so I could sell it/trade it in for a newer one. This is a very minor wish though :)

Race Prep and Organization
That night I laid out all of my crap on the bed to sort into drop bags. I was allowed 3 drop bags and since this was my first trail race and I picked an ultra distance I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't want to go nuts and overpack, but I did want to cover my bases. Here is what my bed looked like:

Clearly all that was not going into my bags!! So I made neat plastic labeled bags of the following:
1) Tailwind Nutrition (my electrolyte/carb/fuel for my hydration pack)
2) Gummi bears and Twizzlers for quick sugar pick me up
3) Throat drops and meds (more on this soon)
4) A food item. Drop 1: Picky Bar, Drop 2: Pop tarts, Drop 3: Poptarts and a Picky Bar, I wanted options.
5) Body glide, Wet Wipes, and Sunblock

I also added socks to Drop 3, which I regret now because I never got them back. I waited around after the race (and I mean until almost the very end) and that aid station still hadn't cleared/brought things back. This means I lost a $15 pair of toe socks. Oh well! I should have known better than to put a pair of toe socks in drop #3, since I had no clue how I'd feel! I would like to mention though that I've seen other people recommend socks in drop bags, but I now know that for a 50k, I'm fine in one pair.

So here's the part where I mention I was also sick. Not just a touch of sick, but "I've lost my voice until I've taken a bunch of pharmaceuticals" sick. On Wednesday night I was convinced it was strep because there were no other symptoms, but it wasn't. By the time race morning rolled around my throat pain was mild, but other symptoms had popped up and the sick had morphed into a pretty powerful head cold. I know it won't make sense to most people, but missing this run wasn't an option, so I loaded up on antihistamines, packed some in my drop bags, and just went for it! I also went into this race with 5 full rest days. No cross-training, nada! At first it was tough but as race day got closer and I got sicker, it got easier. Plus, traveling meant no time to run anyway.

Here is my drop bags organized and my clothes laid out. See? I became more of a minimalist!

I got into bed around 9pm and started to freak out a little about snakes. I won't go into the details, but I have an irrational fear of any and all snakes, but the race director had sent out an email expressively pointing out that snakes could be on course and that rattlesnakes lived in this area. I passed some time reading about the snakes of eastern Washington, fell asleep, had snake dreams, woke up a lot, and finally around 4am I slept really well until my wake up at 7:15.

Race Day
That 7:15 wake up? It was the fire alarm going off in the building. HOLY SHIT. I had earplugs in and it was still horribly loud! It went off after about 30 seconds, I think someone burned toast, but this didn't feel like a very good start to the morning. Then... I actually had a too soon GI type incident/accident. I'll spare icky details and I hesitated to mention that, but I wanted to stress just how wrong my day was starting. My voice was also gone so I made coffee, took a few meds and called my mom once it came back. Talking to mom's make things better!

As I drove on over to the Chickadee Trailhead I had gotten back my sense of calm. The day was shaping up to be very sunny, warm and clear. Pretty much a perfect running day! Though, I knew the course would be hard, I wasn't concerned one bit about pace. This was going to be run on feel. I'd run/walk intervals if needed. My only hope was to finish. I had 8 hours and I would happily use every last minute of those 8 hours if needed.

Miles 1 - 9
I started off comfortably at the back of the pack in a 10:30 pace. It was too fast, but it was also a downhill at first. As we started to settle into some small climbs I pulled back and let people pass. I power walked the steeper climbs and met a few people who were happy that I was walking so they could chat. Most of the people I met were 25k people, so I didn't feel very bad walking as I was going twice as far! I came into the first aid station around mile 8 or 9 without much of a hitch. There was a steep climb up to there, but there was also a really quick downhill and I was in the happiest mood just taking in the pretty yellow wildflowers and the scenery. It was a joyous moment! I kept the pace conservative though and when I stopped at that aid station my average pace was 12:06. I felt like this was pretty good, though maybe a little faster than I wanted, I knew there was still well over 20 miles to go.

This aid station was the most difficult one for me. I realize they were handling a lot more people since we were less spread out at this point, but I was very much on my own and this cost me quite a bit of time. I struggled to fill my pack with the right amount of Tailwind (I had it premeasured but I also still had water left so I did a bit of eyeballing). Someone filled up my bladder with a pitcher of water as I held it open but she filled it up past the fill line, so I had to waste a lot of water (and my mix) dumping it out. My mouthpiece got muddy, my pack got muddy, and I had to bust out the wetwipes to clean off the mouthpiece and my hands. I grabbed my Picky bar, dropped the wrapper in the trash and took off feeling bummed that my average pace had dropped to 13:10 from all that wasted time.

Miles 9 - 17
The next mile or so was more uphill on a forest road. There was a lot of walk/running for me here. My pack had too much air in it so it sloshed, but I didn't have time to fix that and it was only a minor grievance. We then turned and hit this unexpected steep grade over .17 of a mile. It was very short but it was so steep that I had no idea how to even walk up it. The great thing about trail runners is that they are so encouraging and kind! This one guy said "you got this!!" and this other guy showed me how to turn my feet out pointing to one side and then to the other to alternate use of leg muscles. It really made a difference! But oh, once we got to the top?? It was a glorious, glorious at least a mile downhill. This was one of my favorite spots on course because I kept up with a lot of people and had a blast! Very narrow singletrack in the woods and the trees had absorbed the sun and heat so we were nice and cool.

Out of that section and back onto another forest road. And it was all uphill again. Shoot! More walking. Lots of walking. But there were lots of people near me walking too. This was the last part of the trail where I'd see this many people (8 - 10) nearby. We turned off this road into the woods again and there was this one tempting sign. 25k runners turn right, 50m and 50k runners turn left! You could hear the cheers of the crowd at the finish line about a mile away. I joked with someone out there that I met briefly named Patti (from Bellingham) about how that sign was evil! Ha ha! I kept up with her for another mile or so and I learned that this was her second time running this course. She told me the second half had a lot of very steep uphills but also some really nice descents and it was gorgeous. I already knew this about the course, but when you hear an experienced course ultra runner person explain the climbs as very steep it can be a bit intimidating! I then ended up ahead of her a little on part of this section.

I headed into aid station #2, which was somewhere around the 17 mile mark and this one was awesome. This amazing volunteer took my pack, filled it up, and put it back on my back. Talk about quick, efficient and all around super! I had time to eat chips. I had time to put on sunblock and body glide. My pack was rubbing the top of my left arm a little, but it didn't bug me again once I discovered some vaseline. I would have hugged this lady, but instead I just said thanks a bunch and left feeling really good again.

I learned that the aid stations are little meccas of social boosts. I tend to do very small runs or courses that don't allow spectators, so I'm not used to getting cheered on much anyway, but sometimes seeing people just really perks you up. It brings you out of that space in your head that could possibly go dark and you leave feeling well stocked and lighter on your toes.

Fueling Mistakes
Unfortunately I made two big mistakes at this aid station. I didn't add the Tailwind to my pack because I hadn't drank nearly as much water since the last aid station (as most of this section was in the woods and cooler) and it felt a bit concentrated already. It wasn't concentrated, it was just more than I'm used to, and though my stomach was okay, I listened to what I thought I wanted and not what I knew I needed, and opted for straight water. I also forgot to grab my bag of candy. Besides two "emergency ration" shotbloks, this meant I was running on mostly water and had little to no sugar left. I was drinking the water steadily because I knew I needed to get better about keeping the intake steady, but the problem was I was burning too many calories, sweating too much, and the water wasn't emptying from my stomach.

The main goal at this race was to listen to my body and respond as needed. Again, little did I realize that your body doesn't always know best when tackling such a long distance. Especially for the first time. It's easy to get disorientated and it's also very easy to get lost in your head and lose track of how long it's been since you last ate. The heat and sun really changes things too. Being outside and on your feet for extended periods of time, like 8+ hours can fry you. This was a lesson I needed to learn though on my own. The one where you force yourself to take in the proper calories, electrolytes, and not skimp on what you need. Again, I'd like to mention that my only real goal of the day was to finish. I would happily use every last minute of those 8 hours if needed.

Miles 17 - 25
I met back up with Patti as some point after this aid station and ran with her and someone else I think she knew for about a mile. I made a comment about how it seems to really help me to stick with people and she said by all means to stick with them if I wanted! I tried, but the above aid station issues were starting to really become apparent and I kind of slipped into a slump. I started to feel very dizzy and disorientated. I ate the few pieces of twizzlers I had left and a couple gummy bears and felt a little better.

At this point we started to enter a nice cool forest path and all of this was runnable. I was running about 90% of the singletrack and would stop every half mile or so to let a super fast 50 miler pass me. 50 milers with ONE waterbottle. Mind blown. As for me, I still felt pretty dizzy and I was alone on this section, but my spirit was a little higher because the shade felt so good. I just kept trudging along and enjoyed the forest.

Death March - Climb up to Sun Mtn
Around mile 19 I came to a lady in a lawn chair who asked me if this was my first time through. I knew if I said yes I'd have to run up a sunny, exposed hill to Sun Mtn Lodge, but I'm not exactly a big 'ole liar either. I headed off to the right and started in on the brutal 20%+ grade climb. It was about 600ft over 3/4 of a mile. Dry, dusty, sunny switchbacks. You can stare at a stupid elevation chart for hours and read people's blog posts, but if you've never been ON A COURSE you have no idea what to expect. It was a lot harder than I thought. Later the race director would tell me this was a snowshoeing route and if I remember correctly it was called Moose Trail. Not quite sure I'd want to snowshoe on that trail, but I suppose if a hot breakfast was waiting for me at the top that would be a pretty good incentive. There was no hot breakfast for us, but I did smell burgers.

My heart was racing and the heat was really getting to me. I was ready to call it quits as I was struggling to keep even a 25 minute pace on that section and it was so hot. The water in my pack was warm too. A few faster people caught up to me and tried to chat a little but I was pretty silent - thankfully they were suffering a bit too. (Not that I wish suffering upon my fellow runners, but when people effortlessly float by, you kind of feel your spunk start to shrivel and die inside). Let's face it, there is companionship in misery.

If I'm being honest, I wouldn't even call what I was doing at that moment hiking. That was called a sloth side-stepping sludge. If there was a railing I would have been hunched over pulling myself up. There was no railing. My hands/fingers were giving me grief on the way up and I was too tired to bother looking down to figure out why. Two people pointed out this is very common, especially in hot races. My fingers were so swollen. They were sausage fingers! I did take a picture at the end but they weren't nearly as puffy then.

Finally I got to the top! I laid in the shade under a tree at an unmanned water station at the top and it was glorious. I was absolutely ready to quit because I knew there was one more major climb coming up in 6 miles, but that is where I met Monica. She told me she'd run with me to the next aid station. I contemplated staying under that amazing tree for a minute and I had broken the one big cardinal rule in ultras: "don't sit down and definitely don't lie down (idiot)" so getting up was quite a task... but I knew I'd be stuck there alone and had to go on anyway. Having a buddy would be much better than not having a buddy especially since I wasn't in a stellar mental space. Well, apparently just having *someone* seriously perked me up pretty fast.

I decided to put together an illustration of most of the course since there are a lot of words here and not a ton of pictures. You need a picture. I'm sure this is only going to be confusing, but I had fun making it. Chickadee Trailhead was the start/finish.

Onward... after my rescue, Monica and I headed up just a little past the lodge, then headed down the other side on more exposed paths but slowly back into some shade. We both got excited because the course started to look familiar again. Familiarity on long courses with loops is a really uplifting experience. Especially if it was a previously positive part of a course and for me, it was. When we got back to the lady in the lawn chair she told us it was all downhill to the next aid station and it was 2 miles. She lied. It was downhill for maybe 1/2 a mile, then rolling, then a climb on up to that aid station. I was ahead of Monica up on that climb because I was determined to make it to cool water and my drop bag with my Tailwind because I needed electrolytes really bad. The most amazing volunteer came running towards us and grabbed my bag to fill it up with cold water. I could have kissed that guy because I didn't have to even *think*. I did add the Tailwind though and my pack was on my back almost immediately. I was hoping for some watermelon but settled for my drop bag Picky Bar and some oranges. Sweet, sweet oranges.

The aforementioned aid station guy kept telling us WE were inspirational as we thanked him and it was the nicest thing ever to hear. It also made me feel good even though I am sure I looked pretty grungy. Thank you aid station guy, you set the bar high for all other aid station people. I aspire to be the same type of volunteer all because of our brief interaction.

Miles 25 - 31
This was where I contemplated dropping again. Not as seriously, but looking up at Patterson Mtn and knowing that we had a little over 1,000 feet to go in the next 3 miles was a bit daunting. We ran from the bottom to the top of this:

I took off with Monica though and we eased into a slow run with walks up the hill and the occasional break. Our breaks involved hanging onto trees and hiding from the sun. This climb didn't feel as tough to me as the Sun Mtn climb but I'm sure it's because I had found a renewed positive attitude and I had company. Company is the best and Monica was seriously awesome. There was also a breeze and that was a godsend.

We got to the top of the climb and was about to rejoice when we saw a person off in the distance and realized he was also on course. Darn false summits! The real top just had a sign that said, "runners turn around here" and wasn't too monumental but that view?? Holy smokes it was outstanding! We breathed it in for a few minutes and then headed down. Coming off that high point and racing down was spectacular. So spectacular I took a nice rolling dive and scraped my knee. Souvenir!

The race photographer got a cool shot of me right before I scraped my knee and I think it captures the elation of running down as well as the beautiful scenery pretty well!

We hit the road around mile 29 and had about a mile of flat road then a short mile of trail to the start. I knew I was going to finish and both of us were calculating the time and whether we'd make the cut-off. Monica told me that Varner would still count us if we came in a little over the 8 hours but I secretly hoped I would make it just a touch under, even if I was last. Once we got on the trail I was in the zone and somehow lost my race buddy as I kept plodding on. Later I found out that her husband called her and she slowed down, so I didn't feel as bad!

At this point I was leap frogging with a 50 miler who was looking pretty darn tired. He had a few of his kids running with him and kept motioning me to go by, but I wasn't sure I could sustain the slightly faster pace that he was keeping so I stayed behind him.

Finally I could hear the finish and my drive just kicked in strong and I took off. There was really no reason to pick up the pace at the end because I was at the very end of the 50k'ers but once I saw the clock said 7:58:45 I sprinted as fast as my tired legs would carry me and crossed that finish, high fived James Varner, the RD, and started grinning like a big idiot. I made it under 8 hours! I turned around and waited for Monica and told James that Monica was my race angel. She totally was. Once she finished I actually started to bawl under my sunglasses because I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude. This other runner took me under her wing, stayed with me, got me to the finish, and probably sacrificed a better time on course. It was a selfless act and really what this ultra running community is about for me. I can't thank her enough and she'll always remain a friend even though she's had to move to GA for now. Here's a pic of us after finishing!

One of myself - note how dirty my legs are and even my upper left arm:

My knee doesn't look too bad here at all but it left a nice scab and 2 months later there is a healing scar. Total souvenir :)

Yes, this is what your feet look like after running a long race, and this wasn't even that long. They aren't pretty and they're dirty as sin. I took this photo and jumped in the bath!

Some other details: this was the dry side of the North Cascades and 75% of this is exposed. It was hot. I wasn't used to training in these conditions, though as it's warmer this summer in PDX I'm certainly getting more exposure now. Rainshadow Running / James Varner is known for challenging courses but also very beautiful. This was both! It was really well organized and I'm so glad I picked it for my first 50k. I sweat so much my visor was soaked through in salt. My HR got very high on some of the steeper climbs and besides the heat, I'm sure this was also in part to choking down a few benedryl. You do what ya gotta do...

My official time was 7:59:04. Over 50k that's about a 15:25 pace. Covering 5000ft+ of climbing I am happy with that for my first 50k. Though I can be friendly competitive with fellow runner friends, I am not seriously competitive and I would have been content being DFL (dead fucking last) on this course. A title which Monica, my race angel, actually achieved. I think there is a lot of honor being DFL because being out there for that long means exposure to more elements and heck yeah, lots of will power. That elite style athletic ability does not come easy for everyone (or come at all) and I love that so many trail runners are genuinely supportive and welcoming whether you're a back of a pack runner or out in front. Many of my shorter trail runs average an 11 - 13 minute pace, so throwing in extra elevation and distance, heck yes, I am proud of that time.

Could I have trained more? Of course, but the elation of finishing was beyond words. I feel like if you don't sign up for something unless you feel 100% ready, you'll never do it. So I went for it. This was about the experience, finishing and learning to ride through those highs and lows. Could I have taken less time at the aid stations? Yep! Something to work on. Pace didn't matter to me, completion did, but even that was questioned a few times. I held a decent pace on most downhills and a steady but slow on flats/easy rollings, so - so on minor climbs, but very slow on some climbs. I still have A LOT to learn but even in the past 2 months since this race I feel like I've grown even more as a runner (more in future blog posts). While my future goals may come across as a bit nutty, this was my first step in a journey to see just what I am capable of.

The high five from Varner at the end and all the cheers were inspiring. Emotional. Lovely. Thank you to everyone who sticks around for the last people at trail races - we are all thankful for you! I hung around and cheered on the last few 50 milers coming in over the next hour while I gorged myself on veggie pizza, salad, a cookie, and some pretzels. That pizza hit the spot!

As I mentioned before I went into this race with little to no expectations, a nasty sore throat and a head cold. All possible things to really alter the outcome of the day, but I made it through! Post race my legs felt good, minor stiffness the next day, knee is a bit scraped, little bit o chafing, and only one blister! Not bad for non-trail shoes and a newbie ultra girl! I left this race with the best runners high ever!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

50k prep - T-minus 3 days

Funny how I haven't been sick in ages and have had two separate issues these past few weeks! Food poisoning, which really sucked, and now some something that feel a heck of a lot like strep. I wasn't about to play with that though so I got a strep test and it was negative, which I feel so-so about. Last year was the first time I had strep and the antibiotics kicked in pretty quickly so I felt much like a new person within days. My only hope now is that a lot of hot tea, soup, and as much nutrition as I can pack in today and tomorrow will keep me going on Sunday!

It's not an option to miss the race. I'm pretty happy that my doctor was so excited for me and thought it was inspirational that I was going to do it no matter what. When I told him about the course instead of giving me the "you're totally nuts" look that I'm used to, he just said, "wow, that's really great!" Though I'm not too close with my primary care doctor, it's nice to have him on board with my level of training.

His response and wishing me luck also makes me feel better about maybe feeling a little more run down than I really am. Some personal stress has taken its toll, but I'm working through it and will be okay. There has been minor resolution recently on a few levels, which could be why I woke up feeling a touch better than I felt at 1am last night. I've been living my life on very low levels of personal stress recently (work doesn't count in this) so I'm sure I've just got my ass kicked a bit this past week. Plus my hotel and race is already paid for, so I'm committed!! This hotel for TWO nights is half the amount of my Monterey hotel for one night. Ha ha! I considered staying at the hostel there but with maybe being a touch sick it's probably a good thing I'm booked with a solo room.

The race director posted a photo today when they were marking the course yesterday. It made me pretty darn excited!

Photo by Candice Burt:

If I wake up feeling icky tomorrow I'll have to call it a day, stay home from work, rest up, finish running a couple errands then pack! I still have a bit to put together, but I'm learning that simple for drop bags is the best. I refuse to be an overpacker and lose time shifting through too much stuff, so I'm going very minimal for the drop bags.

As this is the 50k distance nutrition doesn't come into play quite as much as if it were longer, but since I'm scaling 3 big climbs/sides of mountains it will still be important to take in some decent calories. I am using Tailwind for ongoing hydration, calories and electrolytes but I still would like to take in a little bit of real food at aid stations, roughly every 2 hours.

So I decided I really wanted poptarts. I haven't had poptarts since I was a kid but I loved the funky Wildberry flavor ones and discovered a box of them at the dollar store. I ate them all this week... so I have to go back and get more for the actual run. The part I just don't know about though is what I will want on course since I haven't done much long running and eating. I will say that as I've gotten more and more familiar with distance running I usually do get hungry during and immediately after, so I think taking in some calories via real food in route will actually fair somewhat okay.

I'm trying not to over think this though. I find when I over think and over analyze races I tend to not have the best experience. I had months to obsess over Big Sur and while there were so many positives about that race, I really shouldn't have scoured the elevation profile mile by mile for hours like I did. There is a line between preparation and obsession. Obsession starts to set expectations, whether I voice them or not, those expectations exist internally and I've learned through my training cycle that I am just a much happier spontaneous runner. I listen to my body and I do what feels right. I do what feels good. Usually running agrees with me.

This week I ran 4 miles on Monday but I've vowed to take every other day off until Sunday. That means I'll be taking 5 days off in a row, which is the longest I've gone w/out a run since last May, but it's what sounded right. I don't really worry much about mileage as much as I notice other people do. It's not a struggle for my body to conquer 30 miles a week anymore. 40 feels just fine too. I don't try to make up workouts, but I tend to not plan workouts so there isn't much making up. I think I have enough Type A inside of me that I'm pretty well into a general routine. So far, since February, this approach has worked the best for me, but I know it's not for everyone!

My biggest obstacle is my attitude. There has been a huge shift in a positive mood since I started running more often, but sometimes that mood shifts and I get in a pretty big rut. I've learned from the races or training runs where this has happened and made adjustments (hence the least amount of expectations and obsession, the better). I'll still be prepared and know when the aid stations are. I'll still wear my Garmin, but those alerts will be off. I might even keep it where it currently is, where it doesn't lap every mile, or change it to lap every X miles instead to break the course down. But there I go overplanning... ha ha! Overall though I just need to remember to breathe, allow myself a zen mile of walking if I'm having a bad patch, pop in my headphones if needed, and just enjoy the experience. Plus take in the fact that if I complete the darn thing I have graduated into the official ranks of an ultra runner :-D I am waiting to sign up for something else until after this weekend but I've got to say I'm really tempted. I'll divulge that after this race though.

Wish me luck!! And especially about my icky throat!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Big Sur Pictures

Life and being sick has gotten in the way of a proper review. Most people just want to see pictures, so here they are. Click on the link and then the first picture to scroll through. I wrote a very shortened recap in the captions.

4/28/13 Big Sur Marathon

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I conquered Big Sur!!!

Over the next few days I'll be working on a nice big race recap (with photos) of Big Sur, but I wanted to let everyone know I made it! The course was really tough. When I say tough I don't just mean elevation, I mean a lot of things. But yeah, the elevation was nothing to scoff at! Hurricane Point was actually harder on me than I thought it would be, but those hills at the end were brutal. To put what I'm talking about into perspective, here is the elevation profile from my Garmin:

This was, hands down, the hardest thing mentally that I have ever run. Physically it was challenging, but so much of running is mental. I chose to run this course 100% on feel and ditched any and all plans for pacing somewhere around mile 6. I'll go into detail on this on my recap!

Thank you for all the support, emails, cards, text messages, and comments!! I was very humbled on this course, and while the ultimate goal wasn't a time goal, of course I had a few in mind. I hit my "B" goal. Let's just say, after running the course I am pretty darn elated with how well I did, despite quite a few dark moments.

My official course time was 4:47:53, which meant I squeaked by right under 11/minutes with a 10:59 course pace. Hallelujah!! Oh yeah, this was over a 30 minute PR from the Columbia Gorge Marathon... Woot!

I'm happy to report that I am feeling top notch. There really isn't much residual soreness going on, and I'm sure it's because I chose to walk around quite a bit afterward, but also because I trained the heck outta some tough stuff. I even tackled a beautiful trail run yesterday on my last day off of work because the forest was calling my name. Official recap is coming soon! I'm Brie, I have a lot to say. Get ready! Ha ha!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oh, the lists! Yes, indeed!

Holy smokes, I'm pretty darn excited! Big Sur is only a week away, can you believe it?? Yipee!!

Today was my last long run, of 10 miles (though it ended up being about 9 1/2 which was fine by me) and my legs felt great. That's the thing about tapering, you really start to see just how good it feels to reduce volume. It also probably helps that I have a big exciting trip planned too. After Deb turned around to head back to the store (she was running 8), Shannon, Elisia (gosh, I probably butchered her name even though I've asked her to spell it for me. Alysia? sigh.) and I branched off and I took them through my neighborhood. My neighborhood is great, but it's boring alone. There's a lot of huge crazy houses here and I find the columns and ceramic lions people have in their yards pretty hilarious. I had a fun time and my watch even died, so it was a nice no-pressure run for me! Just the right type to have the week before a marathon.

I've been thinking about what I'm going to pack for the trip. I have to catch an Airbus to Monterey 20 minutes after we land, so I'm not going to chance anything and check a bag. I'm crossing my fingers that Southwest will continue to be on time or early. With a 9am flight, I think the chances are pretty good. I'm a runner after all, I'll run with my backpack across that darn airport! Not checking a bag though means that I'm a bit more limited on what I can bring. It's probably overkill to bring my big backpack that I brought through Europe, but I've got a lot on my list!

This list has been formulating in my head for weeks but I'm publishing it so I can use it as a checklist:

Packing List

-Two running outfits, in case I change my mind or if I run a couple really easy miles Saturday night in Monterey (!!)
-Running jacket, which I likely will not wear, but will consider if it's raining -Regular warmer jacket, for the start line/sweats bag -Running shoes, I have a brand new pair of tried and true shoes just for the race (Brooks Ghosts)
-Dress, casual but cute, in case I decide to go to the post race party in my hotel
-Cozy lounging clothes, because what else are you going to want to wear after a race?
-Injiji socks, sports bras, underwear (dur)
-Bathing suit, oh hello hot tub and pool!
-Sunblock, because I burn!
-Garmin & HR strap
-Camera, oh yes, gonna take lots of pictures!
-Body Glide, travel size lotion, chapstick, deodorant, extra set of contacts, and pretty much anything else I remember to bring that I'm sure I forgot to list here!

I'm bringing food for a few reasons:
1) I am a pretty healthy picky eater
2) I've practice what works for me before long runs/races and need familiar stuff
3) I'm really starting to worry about money. Yikes :(

-Picky Bars, my monthly order is coming in mid-next week which is perfect timing. ~3 because they're great in a pinch too
-Vegan Thumbprint Cookies, made with oat flour, barley flour, almonds, walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon and a little jam in the middle = excellent source of protein, carbs and just delicious (yes, I totally have a sweet tooth but these aren't very sweet)
-Fruit salad, for Saturday lunch
-Sandwich, for Saturday lunch
-Brown rice, precooked from Trader Joes for dinners
-Pre-cooked chicken breast strips and roasted veggies (made at home, to have with rice for early dinner on Saturday night). I won't have a cooler but I'm not concerned about food I've made that sits for 5 hours until I put it on ice at hotel -Annie Chun's Udon Noodles, I don't live on convenience foods but I do know what works for me and what doesn't and this soup works
-Chia Seeds, rolled oats, sliced almonds, cinnamon, cardamom, blueberries & a container
-Kiwi's and Banana's! LOVE kiwi (with the skin!) and bananas are just great fuel to have.

Things to buy
-almond milk & greek yogurt to add the the chia seeds, oats, etc. for breakfast. Wake up is super early so I'll just mix up the "refrigerator oatmeal" at night, put it in the ice box and voila! my tried and true pre-run fuel!
-Tastee Bites Indian food, this would be awesome for post-race food. I'm not sure if I could get away w/bringing it on the plane so I'd have to find a store. This stuff mixed with some pre-packaged cooked rice makes a super easy meal.
-Anything I forget, which inevitably might be something!

My main goal is to really save money on this trip. Mostly this can be done on food, if you can't tell by the fact that HALF of my backpack space will likely be food. This is what I did for my 5 week Europe trip in 2010 too, so I have some experience. I guess I didn't budget as well as I wanted, because right now I have to dip a bit into my line of credit to pay for the crazy $550 hotel cost! 2 nights in a hotel in Monterey is crazy expensive. This will definitely be the most I've spent to sleep somewhere, but the convenience factor is really important to me since my legs are my only transportation!

So I've got a pretty extensive list going and I'm sure there will be a bit more I've added to it, but I'm sure it's obvious that I'm a detailed crazy person who is really flippin' excited!

PS - you can expect to see a few more silly posts like this over the next few days.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reflections, Celebrations and The Cherry Blossom Half

Sunday was such a glorious day. Unfortunately, we were all rocked by the news of Boston on Monday. My heart goes out to all the families affected, but if there is one thing, it's that runners are compassionate, united and strong. Grieve how you need to grieve and remember that everyone grieves differently. This runner's flame has not been doused. My heart today during my run will be in Boston, but life does go on, and the best thing I can do for myself is to keep running happy, celebrating trumps and sharing downfalls.

I struggled a bit to formulate a happy recap of Sunday's race yesterday and felt pretty down all day. Anything I wanted to share casting light on my accomplishments felt a bit distasteful. Last night Portland's skies were filled with turmoil, but when I emerged from Whole Foods I saw a crowd gathering to watch the most beautiful rainbow I'd ever seen. This rainbow reminded me that it's okay to smile. There is much beauty in the world, even if we're reminded of the ugliness sometimes. With that I went home, cuddled with my kitties, and started to write this post.

Struggles and reflection time
For the longest time I couldn't break the 2:10 time barrier on a half marathon. Though I made significant gains as a runner last year and had knocked 9 minutes off of my half time from July to December, I still felt hopeless. I felt like the smart kid who tested poorly in class. In October and December I had two really mentally tough races and would stare at my watch, slowing myself down if I felt like I was going to fast, and bonked around miles 10 and 11 always finding a reason to give up. Though I set a personal record in December by a 7 seconds at 2:11:04, I ran an awful race and it haunted me for a few months. Everyone said, hey you set a PR! But a race is so, so much more than that. You can set a record and have shitty race, believe me.

As with everything else I've been doing some internal reflection over this training cycle, and devoting quite a bit of time to the mental aspect of running. My self confidence needed to be addressed and the reason why I ran was also something I thought about a lot. I realized that I run for a lot of reasons. I run to stay healthy. I run to feel like I'm part of something. I run because I love being outside and active. I run because I actually finally love running! PR's are icing on the cake, but making connections and loving what I'm doing is much more important to me. So I vowed to go into my races with little expectation and just to give it what I had that day, whether it be a lot or a little, I wanted to give myself the room to breathe and not obsess over the details. I am a details person, but sometimes we details people just need to turn that part of our brain off.

I know some people need specific goals and I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any, but I've changed how I frame them. Some people tell others their goals so they feel more accountable. For some reason it works the opposite for me. If I tell people the time goal I want to hit, I feel way too much pressure and it sucks the life out of whatever I'm doing. It's not empowering. What is empowering for me is when I allow myself to make peace with how I'm feeling, don't fret if I slow myself down, listen to my body, enjoy the scenery, and end up setting some great memories. It's that connection with my body and mind that has been improving these past few months and that positive head space is what powers me through a tough run or a race.

Putting reflections to the test
Fast forward to the present and I've now had some really super races and runs this season! I loved waking up early and driving up to Mercer Island to run in a new place. Getting to view the sunrise was pretty special.

I went into that race having run 8 hilly miles the day before and with plans to enjoy the race and likely just treat it as a training run. It was a twisty island road and there were some magnificent views of Lake Washington. To my surprise I met someone around mile 2 and we chatted almost the whole race and ended up with a 9:38 pace on the course for a 2:06:14 time. I had broken the 2:10 time by minutes without even trying! (Though there were a couple of whopping hills in the later miles and I did put in effort, but I didn't obsess over time or anything). Coming into the finish and seeing a 2:06 on the time clock after so many 2:11's was pretty darn magical.

After the race on the way back to the car I had someone take my photo. I was wearing a jacket and gloves but took the jacket off for the photo and forgot the gloves. I was in a super happy place!

Intermission! This is already getting quite long but bear with me. Go get a sandwich. Yum. I do have quite a few pictures from this weekend I'll post to keep it interesting :D

Cherry Blossom Fitness Festival Half
This Sunday myself, Deb, Shannon, and Deb's husband Rob, all drove out to the Dalles, Oregon for a beautiful race. Portland was rainy and cold when we left so we were all pretty excited when we got there and it was bright, sunny and clear. The only downside was a nasty wind at times (gust up to 17mph!) but since there was no precipitation I didn't have too much trouble.

Here's a few photos of where we started our run. Views of hills over the Columbia Gorge and nice smooth paths. We ran almost exclusively on a nice twisty paved path by the water.

Seriously, it was so gorgeous!!

Before we started I got Rob to take a picture of Shannon, me, and Deb! I love these girls. We were all in our warmer clothes as it was still pretty chilly then and we had a good hour or more before the race, though like a bad-ass I shed my jacket for the picture. You can see it behind me on the ground. I don't know why I did that.

Though we're all race buddies we all ran our own race. Shannon and Deb both started out a lot faster than me, though I was keeping up on the steep downhill because I knew it'd take off some time on the way back. The first mile was a bit faster because of this, but then I slowed myself down to a comfortable pace and settled back watching Deb pull away quite a bit. My comfortable pace happened to be around a 9:25 pace, which was pretty awesome. I have to say though that marathon training really does improve your endurance and speed without really doing much besides increasing your volume. The fact that I've also been incorporating a lot of trails and hills plus weekly speedwork has really made a world of difference!

I checked my watch a couple times during the race, but didn't obsess on it at all. As I've mentioned already, I had really bad back pain for the past 10 days leading up to the race and my expectations were really low. I wanted to enjoy running in such a beautiful place and not end up with even more pain, that could potentially still be here come marathon time! When I woke up on Saturday after some good sleep my back felt pretty darn good. On Sunday it felt even better! I should also mention that I had a very deep sports massage on Saturday afternoon. Oh, I know how many people caution on massage before a race (especially the day before) but I was willing to risk it for some relief. The sports massage was AMAZING but he found some spots in my calves and glutes that were incredibly tight and I was pretty sore afterward. I was still sore on Sunday, but I think the race adrenaline picked up because I had no complaints.

Halfway there
Around the halfway mark, I started to run with Shannon for a few miles. There was a timing mat there for relay runners so it was neat to see our half splits. At 6.55 miles my time was 1:00:11 and my average pace was 9:11/min miles. I was feeling really good and really enjoying the scenery and everyone's big smiles. Shannon had even commented on how happy everyone looked. We passed Deb as she was running back (her half split was a couple minutes faster) but she was so in the zone that she didn't even see us. That girl has major focus. Damn!

We were fighting a lot of wind for the first few miles after the turnaround. I started my music up around this point so I would avoid focusing on fighting the wind. It was a nice boost. During the race I was spot on with fueling and ate a shot blok every 15 minutes, so I never hit a patch of low energy. I drank only water at the aid stations and still have a lot to learn with running and drinking because I'm pretty sure I spilled more water than I drank! Some of the cups were hard plastic too, so the bending the cup into a spout trick doesn't really work on those.

As the wind picked up on this one straight-away I ran in really close behind this one girl. I used Shannon to my left and the girl to my front to shield me from the wind and felt pretty smart doing so. We turned off this path and Shannon and I pulled ahead and caught up to two other girls about a mile down and trailed them for awhile. I've never really passed a lot of people, but I will admit it felt pretty good to have the energy for this option. After trailing the girls for a good 5 minutes I felt like it would be fun to surge ahead and pass them both and we did. I have no idea if Shannon was thinking the same thing as me, but I mentally high-fived her if she was.

The looming hill near the finish
Both of us saw Deb getting closer and closer as our pace was hitting high 8's / low 9's towards the end. The wind wasn't as bad on the twisty path at times so in those moments that's where I chose to speed up. Shannon has this intense determination at every race I've run with her and it was no different this Sunday. At mile 12 she caught up to Deb on one of the final climbs. This part was where we gained about 110 feet over 1/2 mile. It wasn't incredibly steep but at the end of a race it kind of sucked! I couldn't tell she was running up a hill because she barreled up it somewhere in the 8's. Deb had no idea she was that close to her and yelled out, "holy shit!" which I didn't get to hear, but heard about later.

Sadly, I walked about 20 seconds of that hill. This was one of my slower miles at 9:27 though, which would have been my fastest mile just a couple months ago! So no, I'm not disappointed one bit. My heart was pounding and I knew that if I didn't chill out for a few seconds that I'd have a tough time finishing strong. Once we crested the hill there was still about 1/3 a mile until the end and I am the queen of fast finishes. The other thing that got me was the photographer. At the end of the Mercer half we ran up a short steep hill and some cruel person planted a race photographer halfway up. Why race photographers decide to do these things I'll never know. I had been telling the story on the car ride over to everyone and it felt pretty darn ironic at this point to encounter someone else on a hill again. I apologize now to the photographer for my excessive grumpiness, but at the time I wasn't putting up with it. I yelled at him and said "no! don't take my picture!" He tried to reason with me, but you can't reason with someone in the last mile of a race on a hill.

Flying finish! Elation!
I turned the corner and sped up the final hill section and onto the flats for a fast finish. My last 1/3 of a mile averaged out to a 7:30 pace and I was flying! I passed three people along the way and was determined to finish less than a minute after my race buddies. I couldn't tell where they were but I was pretty sure they had already finished. I hit the finish running 6:40 and saw Deb on the ground. Turns out they had finished only a minute ago, and Shanon's first words to me were "Can you believe it?? 2 hours!!" I hadn't been paying attention to the elapsed time at all on my watch and had no idea what she was talking about. The race clock said 2:45 because there was a dualathon that had started before us. But by 45 minutes! I scanned back on my watch and saw that I came in just a handful of seconds past 2 hours and was elated and shocked at the same time! Deb also had no idea because as I congratulated her and made sure she was okay (she was!) she was in disbelief and said she had to find the official time. I think she really laid it all out at this race, something which looks really darn painful. I've never crossed a finish line that exhausted before, which makes me wonder if I'm doing it wrong. I recover within minutes and am usually just riding a super runners high after! The endorphins were in full effect this Sunday!

Results and a happy surprise
As we all went over to check our times I saw my friend Trish! I have to admit I was in such a happy head space that I don't full remember much besides giving her a hug, introducing her to Deb and Shannon. It was so cool to see someone come out and support me at a race. Aundria came out to a race last year and it was really amazing. Sometimes it's tough without family here, but my friends are really great! <3

I think I remember Deb rushing over and giving Trish a big hug because she found out she came in at 1:59:30! Deb's lofty sub 2 goal had finally been realized and she was so freaking ecstatic. I remember her hugging me at one point and telling me that she was so proud of me, to which I replied something about Shannon completely killing it at the end. I was so proud of them both! I think I forgot though that Deb and I have been running together since June of last year so she's definitely seen me grow the most out of anyone. She's been someone that I've looked up to for guidance and support and it was pretty awesome racing with her... and mostly keeping up!

Shannon and I both placed in our age group! She placed 2nd and I placed 3rd (we're in the same age group). Deb was #4 in her AG, bummer! Her husband also set a new personal best on Sunday, which was pretty darn amazing since he has been nursing an injury. It was nice to get to know Rob a little better. Deb and Rob are really awesome people and we were all chatting about how nice it was to celebrate together on the way back, rather than driving alone.

Since Shannon and I placed, we got to stand on the podium! I love small races. Alright, so there were only 6 people in our age group that raced (we counted 8 signed up) but I still deserved that spot. Ha ha!

I wasn't really sure how to pose, but I was glad I brought my camera.

I think Shannon and I scared away whoever #1 was. We had fun dancing on the podium.

All in all it was really a fabulous race. I'm so proud of everyone and had a really great time running in a new place. I've noticed that if I have an early wake up call and I'm running in a new spot or a spot I don't run often, I tend to have the best races. Hopefully this is good news for Big Sur! I cannot wait for that! I have one long run left of 10 miles this weekend and then.... race day April 28th!! The excitment will go into many more posts over the next week.

For anyone wanting some extra race details...
This was my first negative split race, though nothing drastic. My second half split time was 1:00:02 for a 9:09 pace. This worked out to an average pace of 9:10, which is just crazy!! I ran the race at a very even effort. The few 8 minute miles I ran really pulled down that average pace as I also had a few 9:30's. My heart rate was steady and slowly climbing until the end, where it topped out at 187. Average cadence was 90 steps per minute and maxed at 96spm at the end. I've really gotten the 90spm cadence thing down! All in all I feel like I ran this race very smart.

There were quite a few twists on the path at times and this always throws off GPS. Checking my file I can definitely see a few funky jumps. I've come to really see how GPS can be off on certain paths and trails. I also know about how it works the opposite way, when a course is not run on tangents, you can really add quite a bit of distance! My watch hit short at 13 miles. It was not a USATF certified course, though I mapped what we ran to the 13.1 distance. As it's not certified I think this means that it's not mapped on tangents, and a bit more on point to point turns.

My splits aren't course splits, which I would like to get into the habit of doing. Some of my miles hit before the marker and some hit after, so they're not really that accurate.
8:47 / 9:09 / 9:20 / 9:34 / 9:26 / 9:23 / 9:30 / 9:36 / 9:14 / 9:07 / 8:53 / 9:27 / 8:48

But really, it's all just details! It's the feeling I got from this race that was awesome. That mushy feeling having support and running buddies is pretty darn swell. D'aaaww 'shucks!