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!