Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Desert High 30k - Ridgecrest, CA, 12/07/2008

I found this race while doing a search on the Internet. A trail running friend of mine, Russ, had also run the course a couple of years previously and highly recommended it. Coincidentally, my aunt and uncle live in Ridgecrest, and visiting with them at the same time would be the perfect excuse to travel 13+ hours to the other end of the state for an 18+ mile run. My dad got time off to go with me, so it would also provide some much needed quality father/daughter time.

We left Thursday afternoon - hitting Santa Rosa and the Bay Area at rush hour (mental eye roll) - and made it more than halfway before I decided enough was enough and we stopped for the night. The next morning was a short 2+ hour drive to Bakersfield for an extremely brief visit with another aunt and uncle, then a 2+ hour drive over the pass to Ridgecrest. The weather, unfortunately, was absolutely beautiful Friday and Saturday, with clear skies and temps in the mid-60s. This is not weather in which I’d like to be running, especially since we were in the desert with no chance of escaping the sun. However, I was quite happy to awaken Sunday morning to overcast skies, cooler temps, and the possibility of rain. (I guess it did rain some later in the day, but I was done by then. Lucky me!)

I saw no reason for my dad to get up at 6:00 a.m. and go with me to the start; however, he and my uncle promised to be waiting for me at the end, camera in hand. With the exception of my husband being with me for my first half marathon over a year ago, this was the first time any one else from my family would be present when I finished a race. Since I had never run this course before, my best guess-timate for a finishing time was somewhere between 4 and 4 ½ hours. Finishing in 4 hours was beyond my expectations, but would thrill me to no end.

Before we started, I kept an eye out for Jennifer, aka Lifesabeach, from RunningAhead. She said she’d be wearing long white compression socks, so it was easy to spot her just outside the women’s restroom. I wasn’t exactly making a positive fashion statement myself, considering I was wearing a red short sleeve tech shirt, bright yellow Moeben sleeves, black shorts, and very pink printed gaiters. But hey, at least you could spot me easily! (At one point early in the run, I would hear comments about “trail runners attire” and how goofy it can be. Hey - I resemble that remark!) Jennifer and I spoke for a few minutes, then she went on to find her friends and I made my way to the back of the pack (about 320 runners/walkers) waiting for the start.

My uncle had gone over the topographic map with me, and we had driven out to the race site the day before. I was very happy that it looked like we would be skirting much of the taller hills as opposed to climbing them. I had done a lot of hill work in preparation for this race, and less climbing meant I should be fresher for a longer period of time. The course ended up being upward rolling, undulating hills with a consistent rise in elevation for well over three-quarters of it.

Our first climb out of the parking lot was very short, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself quickly on a flat then downhill stretch. The only thing that I could see might be a problem was the sand. While it wasn’t deep, there was a lack of real firm footing, and I hadn’t done any sand running in my training. Nevertheless, with the lack of hills such as I’m used to for trail running, I had decided early I would attack this run with a little more fervor, which would hopefully provide more reward in the end.

The 5.5 mile aid station came around sooner than expected, and this was where the 50k and 30k split. This was also one of the areas that provided some excellent views of the mountain range and valley below. I have always thought the desert to be beautiful, and the day of the run was no exception.

Soon after the first aid station, I started looking for a bathroom. Being the desert, there is, shall we say, lack of convenient cover in this regard, but I soon found a large granite boulder that had no rattlesnakes or cactus in close vicinity. The only problem was I didn’t see a small bulge in the boulder and managed to rake my bare rear end along the bulge when I stood back up. Ouch!! I still have a nice scratch on my right butt cheek.

One of the things I particularly liked about this run was that there were people to run with or near almost the entire time. I played leap frog with 3 or 4, which meant I had a chance to talk to them a bit. One woman, Marcy Bozung, is married to the RD for the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run, and he was running the 50k. She had a really nice easy, consistent pace that I envy. She made running looked so effortless, no matter if we were going up, down, or running on flats. I tried to keep up with her, but little by little she pulled out in front of me. However, I am proud to say she only finished 3 min. 15 secs ahead of me.

It was right around Mile 12 that the two front runners for the 50k passed me. I contemplated tripping them, but they were gracious enough to huff out a “Good work!” as they passed me, so I figured I’d go and ahead and let them be on their way. Another 3 or 4 50kers would end up passing me before I crossed the finish line.

At Mile 13, I had an instant and severe bout of nausea that stopped me dead in my tracks. I choked down about a third of a Clif bar and some fluids, and it eventually went away for the most part. Even though I had been eating a third of Clif bar every 20 minutes after the first hour, I didn’t have my usual bagel with peanut butter that morning like I always do before a long run. I think that put me behind in the calories count and was a contributing factor to the nausea. Seriously, though, I have to find something else that is easy to carry that I can eat when I have these episodes (which are more frequent than I like). I am to the point that I detest Clif bars, but continue to eat them because they are very portable and have the right amount of calories in them.

About a quarter mile before the third aid station, I started seeing Christmas ornaments in the bushes along the trail. Soon I came around a corner and what fun! There was a “Christmas tree,” more ornaments, and stuffed animals greeting the runners. This station was run by a bunch of guys who I’d say were in their 50's and 60's, and it was by far the best station. I stopped for a drink of water and one asked where I was from.

Me: “Humboldt County.” Him: “Marijuana country!” Me: “Yep.” And he nudges the guy sitting next to him. “Don’t you own land up there? Aren’t you growing something up there?” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) Me: “They just busted two guys with over 1,000 plants growing.” Him to the guy: “Isn’t that your land?” (more wink, wink, nudge, nudge) I thanked them for the great decorations and being out there and continued on my way.

At this point, I could tell we were slowly losing elevation, and there was getting to be more down and flats than up. After leaving the fourth and last aid station, there was a nice downhill section, maybe a quarter of a mile uphill climb, and the last 2+ miles was all downhill to the parking lot and finish line. Thankfully, my coach had me doing extended downhill running at the end of all my long runs, and this enabled me to virtually fly this last part of the race. I popped out around a corner and there ahead was the pavement and the parking lot. I flew right by my dad and uncle, who didn’t recognize me until I flipped them the peace sign, which meant they had to quickly scurry over the finish line. Back at the last aid station, I knew I was going to PR this course (my second 30k), but even when I hit the parking lot, I didn’t slow down (or at least tried not to) until I crossed that finish line . . . . . in 3:51:36!!! I was so happy, I could hardly contain myself. My standings were as follows:

OA: 56/102
Sex: 26/50
Age: 4/9 (actually, 10, but the last two tied)

I absolutely loved this course. If you like the desert, it would be a perfect first time 30k run. I most definitely plan on running it again next year, hopefully the 50k.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Runners' Depends

I seriously need to try and develop this product. For the past month or so, Mother Nature has been a real drag in that department. I barely get through 2-3 miles when, "Uh oh!" I barely made it home today, and the closer I got to the house, the worse things became. I could hardly bend over to get my house key out of my shoe pocket. Then it was, "Get the hell outta my way! Clear a path, I'm comin' through!!" Cats were scattering, various pieces of running attire were being flung hither and yond. I'm going to have to reconfigure my runs so that I'm near Safeway when things start movin' and shakin'.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm Starting a Petition to Ban Cell Phones

This article is great! Get Rid of Your Cell Phone

People + Cell Phones = Obnoxious. Very rarely do I ever talk on mine period, let alone in public. As indicated in the article, I do believe they are good to have for emergencies, or, like for me, I carry mine when I'm running by myself, for that "just in case" moment. But for people who live and breath with their cell phones - I think intense therapy is called for.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Body Comp and Fitness Analysis

Participated in the Body Comp and Aerobic Fitness Analysis at the Human Performance Lab at Humboldt State University. Wanted to know what my ratio of fat was in my body, as well as get the whole VO2max info for better heart rate training.

Two components were not up and running - the dunk tank and the nutritional analysis. The dunk tank and Bod Pod essentially do the same thing, and I've been invited back after the first of the year to complete the nutritional analysis at no cost. Nice!

The Bod Pod: Kind of glad I didn't know I needed a bathing suit, 'cause the only one I have is a backyard only 2 piece, and it would have been very uncomfortable hanging out with the two young men who did this test. So instead I was given this very stylish (not!) one piece thing that looks like a one-piece bathing suit with the leg parts coming a little less than halfway down the thighs, plus I put on a plastic shower cap (like you get in hotels) then an even tighter black cap (think swimming) on top of that. Yes, I was looking like quite the hot ticket. Oh, baby!! I had to hold those boys back! One thing about the suit - very unforgiving with rolls and such, so it makes you want to stand up straight and keep things sucked in.

The Bod Pod looks like an oversized egg with a window. Your height and weight gets entered into the computer, then you sit in the Pod and it's filled with air. To explain as best as I understand - Air is pumped in (somehow) and the displacement of that air tells the system what your fat/lean ratio is when combined with your height/weight. There were problems with the calibration of the system, so this took awhile to fix, and the guy running the program (Peter, who was a cutie) had to come in and get it to work right. So I get to stand around in all my tight suit/headdress glory in front of two good looking young men and one "my age" good looking man. Nothin' you can do but joke around at that point. I am happy to say, though, that my scale at home is right on the dot with weight. The results:

Fat Weight: 38.5 lbs.
Lean Weight: 103.7 lbs.
Total Weight: 142.3 lbs.
Height: 68 in
Percent Fat: 27.1%
Percent Lean: 72.9%
Moderately Lean Category - Fat level acceptable for good health. With activity level, should be consuming approximately 2235 calories a day.

Metabolic Test: Wore shorts, running shoes, and sports bra. Had a shirt on, but had to take it off. 6-8 pads are stuck to you at various points to which electrodes will be hooked up. This is done in a separate room as the actual test. I then walk into the main room where the treadmill, etc., is, and there are probably 8 people (students and Peter) all looking at me. Great! I get to do this in front of an audience! Blood pressure is taken, questions are asked: “How do you warm up, how long?” “Brisk walk, 5 min.” “What’s your average pace when running?” “About 10:00/10:08:” “Can I use my inhaler?” “Yes.” and back and forth. For the initial blood pressure before the test starts, they have you hyperventilate for about 20 seconds. Well, my friends, I have never done this before, and let me tell you - boy howdy!! Talk about a “high!” Dang.

When I finally got myself under control, we did the warm up. Then we came to more beautification. Not only do I have a blood pressure cuff taped to me, but I have all these electrodes stuck to me then held in place with an ace bandage. Then came the head gear. It’s like the bands inside a hard hat. Attached to that is this “appendage” with a mouthpiece like you would find on diving gear or a snorkel and this hard plastic piece extends beyond that. You put the mouthpiece in your mouth as you put the band part over your head then tighten it down. They then hook a tube up to the side of the hard plastic extension and this is where your in-and-out air passes through. Then they put a clamp on your nose so that you’re only breathing through your mouth. Comfy? Um, yeah. I made the mistake of swallowing after the nose clamp was put in place and my ears plugged up.

They taped to the window in front of me a chart that basically goes from 6 to 20 and at various points says “Like sitting on the couch (6).” “Light(7).” “Fairly difficult.” “Very difficult,” etc., up to something like “I feel like I’m dying (20).” They start the treadmill and very quickly you’re at your regular running pace. Wait 2 minutes, take blood pressure (yes, while running), raise the incline. Wait 2 minutes, take blood pressure, raise the incline, over and over. In the meantime, a student is standing there and every 2 minutes asking you where you are on the aforementioned chart. You give hand signals. This scenario continues until you give them the “I’m done” signal (slash across the neck). I ended up with snot coming out of my pinched nose, and because I couldn’t swallow well, drool rolling down my chin. Wiped off a big old loogy at one point. Felt like a St. Bernard.

In the end, I ran for 8:48 before I was done, but forgot to ask what the incline grade was at the end. Peter (the instructor) was impressed with how fast my heart rate went down, and within a few minutes, I felt like I could go again. My heart rate went from a low of 109 (hyperventilation) to a high of 179. I gave all the printed out info to my coach, and he’s helping me figure everything else out, but he was impressed with the rate at which my HR went up during the test. Again, says it shows I'm in good condition. He sent me some other info, but I can't open it with my program at home, so will have to check it out tomorrow at work.

All in all, a fun experience, and I will probably do the treadmill test again in another 3-6 months to see how things change.

'Nother thing - within the last 5 (?) months, my resting heart rate has gone from 48 to 42.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon

October 12, 2008
Susanville, California

Although I’ve participated in two (finished one) 50k trail runs, Bizz Johnson was my first official marathon. As always with me, I was full of nervous excitement for the couple of weeks leading up to the race. The marathon is run on a rails-to-trails system, and is imperceptibly downhill after a slight, hardly noticeable incline over the first few miles.

Susanville sits at the edge of Lassen National Park, at an elevation of a little over 4100 feet. The race starts at a little over 5000 feet, and you end up with a total elevation drop at the end of approximately 1300 feet. It’s a gorgeous place with lots of Ponderosa Pines (one of my favorite trees), aspen, and open prairies.

I left on Friday and drove 3.5 hours to my niece’s house in Ft. Jones, spent the night with her, and on Saturday, drove the 3.5 hours over to Susanville. It was a beautiful drive that took me right past snow-capped Mt. Shasta - which gave me the shivers.

I already knew it would be cold for the run, as my water bottle, which I had left in my car at my niece’s, was almost frozen solid when I left her place at 10:00 a.m. I was not looking forward to that aspect of the run.

My coach, Bill, was driving to Susanville on Saturday, and we ended up in town right around the same time, and eventually caught up with one another around 2:00. There had been an express ½ that same day, and many of the runners had requested a late checkout at the hotel where we were staying. Since we couldn’t check in yet, we headed over to the Train Depot to pick up our bib numbers, and I readied my drop bags. There were going to be three drop bag sites. I was used to a single bag being taken to the various stations, so this was the first time I had ever had to figure out 3 different bags and what I would need at that point in the run. Yeah, basically a crap shoot. In the end, I ended up not doing too bad on the guessing.

Before leaving, we visited the “expo tent” being run by Fleet Feet, and I snagged a couple of pairs of Injinji socks for only $5 each! I had just bought 2 pair from ZombieRunner for something like $12-$14 each, plus the cost of shipping. I probably should’ve grabbed more, but I didn’t want to be a sock pig. :o)

Figuring we’d probably wasted enough time, Bill and I headed back to the hotel, checked in, and hung out talking for a little while. My room ended up being right next to the laundry room, which brought it’s own surprises. First, when I got there, the toilet was full of suds. Perplexing, yes, but I figured the cleaning person had forgotten to flush or something. However, when I flushed the toilet, it didn’t seem to want to drain properly, and I thought the thing was going to overflow. Then, while Bill and I were sitting in the room talking, I heard this gurgling noise coming from the bathroom. Went to investigate, and the toilet water is actually bubbling! Like someone with a really big straw was on the other end blowing air into it. Ends up they’d been having problems with the drainage between the toilet and the washer. Luckily, I never had any significant problems, but it did give me worries a couple times during the rest of my stay.

Also, when the washers would go into spin cycle, the wall that the beds were against would start vibrating like crazy. I told Bill, “Yee haw! Free vibrating bed, and I didn’t even have to put a quarter in anything!!”

He took off after awhile to grab some food for himself for the next morning, and when he got back we headed over to the Black Bear Diner, stuffed ourselves, bid each other ‘nite, and headed off to get some sleep before the long day.

Sunday dawned a tad overcast . . . and freaking cold! When we left the hotel at 7:00 a.m., it was 18 degrees outside! 18 frigging degrees!! I had on my winter running tights, a pair of running pants, a long sleeve tech shirt, a thicker tech pullover, a sweatshirt, and gloves, and I was freezing my rear end off. People were hanging out in the Train Depot building trying to stay warm until we hopped on the shuttles to head to the start of the race.

There were 4 races that day: a 5k, 10k, and Half, which were each out/backs, and the marathon, which was a one-way ticket. Soon everyone was being herded onto the shuttles, and I ended up sitting next to 3 guys from the Fresno area, who were really nice and fun to talk to. When one of them was using the bus facilities, the another told me they expected him to finish the race in about 2:45. I just shook my head, hoping I’d finish in my desired 5.5 hours.

Once we got to the start, I headed off to use Mother Nature’s restroom as opposed to standing in line for 10-15 minutes waiting for a stinky porta toilet. Many of us chose the first option, so you had to pick your tree carefully, lest you find someone else baring all on the other side. I then began reluctantly peeling off layers and put my extra clothes in a bag and into the trailer that would be hauling them back to the finish. The RD eventually called us over to the starting line, gave us the requisite last minute instructions, we sang the National Anthem (a first for me at a race), and then we were off!

Having never run the upcoming distance on flat terrain before, I was going to start out nice and slow and try to pick up the pace as I determined how I was feeling. Whenever I’ve run trail events, I’m usually by myself pretty much from the beginning. With this, there were a lot of people around me, and it was hard not getting sucked into somebody else’s rhythm and pace.

We headed off down a dirt road for the first .9 miles, then turned around, went .5 miles back, and then hit the trail. I looked in front of me and saw a very long, very straight, well, almost more of a dirt road than a trail, and realized how much more of a mental game this would be. When you’re running trails, you usually can’t see that far in front of you.
This felt like you could see for miles ahead of you - 26.2 miles to be exact. The good thing about it, though, was that people were in front of and behind me almost the entire time. Rarely did I go far without seeing another runner. I was feeling really good about my pace, but I was so cold. I felt like I just could not get warm.

At the Mile 12 aid station (there were stations every 2 miles), I picked up Stan, who worked for BLM (?) and was riding his bike up and down the trail taking pictures of runners and making sure the aid station workers were doing okay. He ended up riding with me for maybe half a mile. I said something about it being so cold, and he informed me that at that point we’d only dropped about 100 feet in elevation. However, by the time we got done, we’d end up dropping about 1300 feet, and once we dropped down into the canyon, it’d be warmer - only that was a ways away.

Stan eventually left me, and I proceeded on my own, passing a runner here and there, getting passed as well. There seemed to be a core group of us (maybe 6-7) who passed one another at various points until about Mile 18, when I eventually was left in their dust. Right before the Mile 16 aid station, I started having trouble with my left hip flexor, which I knew was not a good thing, and was where my race started falling apart. I ended up laying on the ground for a few minutes at the aid station trying to stretch things out, and tried various standing stretches at different points along the trail.

By Mile/Station 18, I could run - though not well - for a short while then BAM! It’d feel like someone stuck a pointed sharp object right in my left butt cheek and it would literally stop me in my tracks with a few 4-letter words. Let me tell you, it hurt! I would walk for maybe 30 seconds to a minute and start a slow run again. I never knew how far I’d be able to go before THERE IT WAS AGAIN! GOTCHA! This little scenario would play itself out for the rest of the race.

This had happened to me once almost 2 years before. Only that time, things got so bad, that once I stopped running, my entire left hip seized up on me and I literally could barely walk for about 3 days and I couldn’t run for a month. It was extremely painful, and the thought of that happening again scared the crap out of me. Plus, we had been told that if we decided to drop from the race, we needed to make it to at least Mile 20 to get a ride back to the finish before the end of the race. Otherwise, we would have to stay at whichever aid station we’d dropped at until the end of the race, which had a 7-hour time limit. When I got to Mile 20, I figured I’d gone this far, I was going to make it the final 6.2 miles no matter what. . . . . although, I have to say that the ambulance waiting at that station was a very tempting sight, indeed! (Kidding!)

Around Miles 21-23, the trail took us through two tunnels. Strangely enough, I felt unbelievable great running through each tunnel. It was like I had some kind of renewed energy, and I really wished they were longer. Maybe it was because you could see the light at the end, I don’t know. The feeling I got is hard to explain, and I still don’t understand it. But I do remember that it wasn’t until around this time that my hands finally warmed up and I took off my gloves. It literally took me over 20 miles before I finally felt warm.

With a little less than 1.5 miles to go, I came up on a guy who was really struggling. As I pulled up along side him, I asked if he was running the race and he was. His name was Aaron, he was from the Bay Area, and, from what he said, I don’t think he’d run anything longer than a 10k before. He told me there were parts of his body hurting that he didn’t know could hurt. I was laughing and told him I felt the same way, then asked if he wanted to limp/walk/run the rest of the way together. When you’re struggling yourself, and someone comes along who can sympathize, knows what you’re going through, it gives you a kind of energy. Aaron and I ended up running that last bit faster than I thought possible. And if it wasn’t for the fact that another zinger launched itself into my ass, we probably would’ve made it in under 6 hours. As it was, for the last quarter mile we were doing a 10:08 pace, which shocked the hell out of me, and we crossed the finish line together in 6:00:15 and received our finisher’s medal - a wooden train whistle with Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon on one side and 2008 Finisher on the other side. Very cool.

Although I was (and sort of still am) disappointed with my time, I’m proud of myself for finishing. The next day, my hip felt like someone had kicked the crap out of me, and it was tough walking around, let alone sitting for the 5.5 hour drive home. Lots of stop-and-walk breaks. I did, however, console myself that night with a big container of mini powdered sugar donuts and ice cold milk. Oh, they tasted so good!!

Would I ever run Bizz Johnson again? I don’t know. I don’t like being that cold for so long, I think a lot of precious energy was expended trying to stay warm. Plus the long, straight, you-can-see-forever aspect was mentally hard. I don’t know how people run road marathons with miles of asphalt in their face. But it’s a beautiful course, and if those two things don’t bother you, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Great Debate

The great debate continues over on RunningAhead - Is it beneficial or detrimental to run 20 miles or more or over 4 hours in a marathon training long run? Some vehemently insist that if you don't run atleast 20 miles a couple of times while training, then you are undertraining. Others, such as my coach, insist that if you run more than 18 miles or longer than 3.5 hours, it takes your body too long to recover and can, therefore, be detrimental to your training. Meaning, you would have to back off the long runs too far in advance of your intended race in order for your body to sufficiently recover. (Am I making sense?) He insists that this will not change unless I pop up to the 50-mile distances. (And yes, the thought does enter my drain bamaged mind, even though I only have one successful 50k completion - and I pooped and peed and puked all over myself in the process. . . . . Hell yeah I had fun!!!)

I suppose there will never be a definitive answer accepted by everyone, but I find people's opinions on the subject quite interesting, with each person standing firmly on his or her side of the fence not budging one iota.

And on the subject of long distances - Bizz Johnson is less than 2 weeks away. Egads! It's a Boston qualifier, so I looked up the time requirements for qualifying - oh yeah! That was a real knee slapper! And no, qualifying is definitely not in the cards. However, I am hopeful that I will finish in 5 - 5 1/2 hrs. We'll see!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life Is . . .

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

(Mother Teresa)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Ridiculous Vanity of Women (Me Included)

Against my better judgment, this morning I walked out of the house wearing these stupid high heel boots and butt floss underwear, both of which I knew would be uncomfortable from the get go (I hate butt floss underwear) (Is this TMI??). Anyway, before I had even walked from my bedroom to the living room (all of 10 feet?), it was apparent this was a bad idea, but I did it anyway. Why? Because the boots looked good with the pants I chose to wear, and the butt floss eliminated that barely-there-but-still-unsightly-panty-line. So now I am sitting here at work, horribly uncomfortable, impatiently waiting for my lunch hour so that I can dash down to Target and eliminate at least one of the uncomfortable aspects of today’s attire.

And while I sit willing myself to not go to the bathroom yet again in a vain attempt to eliminate the butt floss, I ask, Why? Why do we women put ourselves through all this crap? Why do we intentionally do things like cram something akin to a thin rope up the crack of our butt, all for the sake of vanity? Most times the saner side of me prevails and comfort wins. But once in awhile the Vanity Demon gets a strangle hold on my common sense, and with every single step I take that particular day I regret the choices I have made. Sure, like most women, my legs look half way decent in high heels, but who can see my legs when I’m wearing pants?? And as far as the butt floss goes - well . . .there really is no good excuse.

Guys don’t do stupid stuff like this to themselves. The Hub actually looks at me at times and just shakes his head. I asked him about the whole butt floss thing the other day, and he said he didn’t understand the attraction some guys have for it - - he’s more of a commando type guy. Well, thanks for the 411 on that, but it ain’t gonna be happening. At least not when I’m in public.

So here I sit . . . counting down the minutes . . . telling myself, “Never again!” Yeah, right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Canning 101

Yesterday, Shorty and I canned approximately 50 jars of apple butter, cranberry apple butter, zucchini relish, and some sort of hot pepper/ cucumber mixture. We literally spent the entire day (10+ hours?) working in the kitchen . . . together . . . with knives and boiling water . . . and we lived to tell the tale. No threats of death, divorce, or mutilation. And I think we actually hugged each other a couple of times. I know, absolutely astounding. I think 60 Minutes is going to do a piece on it. Something along the lines of “Canning and Marriage Survival 101.” It will be a true masterpiece of reporting.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can't Think of a Better Title than Countdown to Bizz Johnson

See those cheetahs to the right? That's going to be me at Bizz Johnson. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Yeah, that's a real knee slapper, huh? Seriously, though, Coach Bill is determined to speed me up since this run is basically flat, so he's going to start incorporating more speed work after the Whiskeytown Relays on September - well, September something. And Coach Bill knows that when this happens, my voodoo doll of him comes out. So watch out, Bill. Just watch out.

Yeah, I hate speed work. Funny, I'd rather do hill sprints than do speed work on a flat surface. Running as hard as I can for 1 minute just brings absolutely no joy whatsoever to my life. Plain and simple, it sucks. But, as the old saying goes, "If you always run slow, you will always run slow. If you run fast, you will run faster." Or something like that. Don't try to go all cerebral on me. Even if I got some of the words screwed up, it really doesn't get any deeper in the thinking than that.

So anybody else out there planning on running at Bizz Johnson? Again, a real knee slapper of question considering just about the only folks who read this are my friends and family. Okay, well maybe even they don't read it. Maybe no one reads this. Maybe it's just me blabbing to myself - a much more likely scenario.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

As I sit here at work listening to someone leave a loooooong drawn out message on our office answering machine about their life (I was in the can and the phone rang - couldn't answer it), I ponder the following: When people leave messages on answering machines, why do they feel the need to (1) leave their entire life's history, and/or (2) talk slower than sap running down a tree then talkatlighteningspeedwhengivingtheirnumber, thus forcing you to listen to their blather again, and possibly yet again to try and capture their phone number? Huh? Can anyone in this universe explain this phenomena to me?

And what's with calling early in the morning or late at night? Unless it is a dire emergency (you've lost a limb, your house is on fire) do not call me before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. I do not want to talk to you . . . I don't care how close a friend you think you are, or even if you're a relative.

And yes, I screen my phone calls at home. There it is. Live with it. If I'm home and I want to talk to you, I'll answer the phone. If I don't want to talk to you, I won't. Sarcastic comments such as "I know you're sitting there listening to me," will get you absolutely nowhere. Maybe I am sitting here listening to you. But maybe I'm on the toilet and can't get to the phone. (Yeah, it's a frequent visitation hot spot for me.) Or maybe I've fallenand I can't get up. (I don't have LifeLine.) Unlike a lot of people I know, I do not have a penchion for keeping my phone, cell or otherwise, strapped to my body at all times. And maybe I'm not actually home. Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of the office and the house. It's not a big life, but it's a life nonetheless.

I am on the telephone all day at work. The last thing I want to do is be on the phone all evening when I'm home. I want to eat my dinner in peace, be a couch potato, fall asleep and drool on the couch pillow.

So what does all this blather come down to? Don't call me, I'll call you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Musings of a Tired Mind

Ever think about those moments in your life, good or bad, and wonder at their influences upon who you are right now, at this very moment, when you are reading the words of someone who quite possibly has lost all sense of rationality - well, for this moment?
Everything we see, say, or do indelibly imprints itself on our psyche, and at some point it comes back to either bite you in the ass or lift you up and help you to hopefully become a better you. I've been bitten in the ass a number of times, and it ain't fun, my friends. I think there might actually be permanent teeth marks. But I have also been lifted out of the quagmire and have gone on to become a stronger person for it. It ain't easy, and there ain't no quick fix. But it is possible, if you're willing to look past your own perceived limitations and crash through the wall you have build around you, telling yourself that you can't do it, that it's not possible.
What does all this mean? To you it might mean, "She's finally gone over the deep end." Or, "Surely, she's just really tired" (and I am . . . and don't call me Shirley). But to me, it means a lot. A lot that is not open for discussion in this format. But I challenge anyone who is reading this to think about who it is you really want to be. And if when you look in the mirror you don't see that person, bust through the wall you've built so solidly around you and find The Thing, The One Thing, that will fulfill you and lift you out of your quagmire.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pit Crewing at Headlands Hundred

This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of crewing for my friend’s sister, Kate, in her first 100-mile trail run at theHeadlands Hundred in the Marin Headlands outside of San Francisco. Many of you will know her by her online name of Katemd. Karen (my buddy), Kate, her husband Rodney, and I took off Friday morning and arrived about mid-afternoon in Mill Valley, where we eventually hooked up with Kate’s pacer, Russ McGarry. Russ came into our lives in March when he came upon me struggling and helped me through the last few miles of my first 50k at Forest Park in Portland, Oregon. A Trail Angel with hidden wings, he has come to be a friend to all of us.

Once we were all together, we drove to the start/finish area at Rodeo Beach, then did a recon of all the aid stations so Karen and I would know where we’d be going the next day. The farthest drive between stations was 20 minutes, with the average being 15. But then again, that was with 5 people in the car and one getting nauseous from the curvy roads. The next day I would turn into Maria Andretti (Mario-Maria, Mario-Maria. Get it??) and fairly fly through those curves trying to get to stations with plenty of time to set up and be ready for our runner.

We eventually returned to the hotel, sought out a filling dinner of . . . you guessed it - pasta, then we headed back to the hotel where it was my job to tape up the problem areas of feet that would be running the next day. Come to find out, I’m not too bad at it, but I need to work on my benzoin spraying technique. I have a tendency to get that stuff everywhere. While I was taping up Russ’ feet, he commented that in March, if he’d taken the trail to the right instead of the left, we wouldn’t all be sitting there together that night. I just smiled and commented how destiny is a wonderful thing.

The next morning dawned bright and early, and Kate, Karen, and I arrived at Rodeo Beach around 6:00 a.m., plenty of time for last minute bathroom breaks and for butterflies to do their thing, as well. It wasn’t long, however, before RD Wendell had his bullhorn out giving last minute instructions, everyone made their way to the road, the signal sounded, and they were off. The first stretch sent them down the road, across the beach, and then up to the trails they would be traversing for the next, well, hours upon hours. Under pressure to be ready for Kate, Karen and I made our way to the first aid station - a mere 2.2 miles away at Rodeo Valley. The runners, however, would be winding their way through 8.1 miles of trails - the longest stretch between aid stations. Kate came in to the station upbeat and chipper, we replaced her empty bottles with full ones, filled her baggy with foods, and sent her on her merry way, a process we would repeat many times over the next hours.

Since this is a crewing report and not a running report, there aren’t a whole of lot gory details to provide. Karen and I had a blast hootin’ and hollerin’ for other runners at the aid stations, blowing bubbles - much to the runners’ delight, and generally enjoying ourselves. During our second stance at the Pantoll Aid Station, I broke out the large pink felt with orange polka dotted hats and ties for us to wear, which made us quite the hit with runners, crewers, and watchers alike.

There was a 50-mile and a 100-mile race, and it was interesting to watch the progression as the day wore on, seeing the affects - or seemingly no affects - on runners. Some were struggling well before Mile 50, others were breezing through as if this was just another jaunt through the woods. Although the entire course is tough (read LOTS of climbing), the section between Pantoll, Bolinas, and back was especially rough as the runners were mostly in the direct sun, and it was fairly warm at the higher elevation.

In the early evening, Karen and I met back up with Rodney and Russ at Rodeo Beach where the runners would reach the end or midway point of their respective runs. The guys hadn’t seen our new attire yet, and we made sure we slathered on the pink lipstick and gloss really good so as to provide the full beautifying affect. Karen was getting antsy and excited as she would be pacing Kate for 10 miles to Tennessee Valley, where Russ would take over and pace for the final 40. Once Kate and Karen took off, Rodney, Russ, and I made the long 2.2 mile drive to Rodeo Valley, set up camp, and waited for the gals’ return. This was the beginning of the night stretch, so we knew it would take them a little while longer. The three of us sat around and chatted, made grilled cheese sandwiches for the gals, and waited, and waited some more. At one point Russ decided it was time to use El Body Glide on strategic body parts, and danged if he didn’t walk into the shadows to do so! I was like, “Come on, dude! Give a gal a break! It’s 11:30 at night!” But it was a no go. Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying!

An hour and a half or so later, Karen came in a few seconds ahead of Kate indicating, okay YELLING, that the chili Kate had eaten at Rodeo Beach wasn’t sitting well, but the complaints from Kate were minimal - which would be her demeanor the entire race - we switched out her bottles, stuffed her baggy with food she thought she could digest more easily, got her out of there in short order, packed up the car, and headed out to Tennessee Valley where Russ would take over as pacer.

When Kate and Karen arrived at Tennessee, we had to do some quick foot checking and taping, and with Rodney holding the flashlight, me hunkered down barking orders for tape, light, etc., and Karen handing me the materials, one aid station worker commented that we looked like a regular pit crew. After Kate and Russ left, Karen and I drove like bats out of hell to get Rodney back to the hotel for the night and ourselves back to Tennessee with enough time to get prepared again for their return.

This stretch of waiting, I have to say, was probably the most enjoyable, as well as the most educational, for me. It was “early 30" hours in the morning, and Karen, tired from the combination of crewing all day and her 10-mile jaunt, was bundled up in the car taking a cat nap. I poured myself a cup of coffee and Baileys (mmmm!), put on my heavy coat, and stood in the shadows of the aid station watching the runners come and go for the miles between 61.8 and 71.3. It was very interesting. Some came through looking tired but like they could go on forever. Others, it was evident they were struggling mentally and physically, and a few dropped at this point. One gentleman, I’d say in his late 40s-early 50s, was having a hard time concentrating, and I greatly admired the way Aid Station Manager Stan gently took care of him, trying to help him decide whether he wanted to drop or continue at that point. Stan commented prior to this runner arriving that he didn’t know what to do for these folks. Well, I think he was doing great. If they seemed to be hanging around too long, he quietly remind them of the next cutoff and the miles they had to cover before then, and helped them get on their way.

Once Kate and Russ came through, we headed back to Rodeo Valley. It was around 5:00 a.m., and since I was beginning to talk like I was drunk, I thought the more prudent thing would be to try and nap. So I did . . . for an hour and a half. Man, did that feel great! I woke up feeling fairly refreshed about 10 minutes before our runners came flying in in high spirits. Kate had taken a fall and gave herself a nice skinned leg, but other than that, the two of them were having the time of their lives, joking and laughing with us and the aid station workers. I was amazed by Kate. She had just completed 75.3 miles and still had another 25.2 to go, and she was looking for all the world like she only just begun a short time earlier.

We had one more round of pit crewing at Tennessee Valley as the runners would be hitting this spot two more times. In between Kate’s and Russ’ appearance, Karen and I once again drove like bats outta hell back to the hotel to pick up Rodney. We waited at Tennessee for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, but soon we spotted our duo high up on the trail. They came blazing into the station indicating they were trying to beat 28 hours, and headed out in less than 2 minutes with Kate leading the way. We loaded up our crewing supplies for the last time, and headed back to Rodeo Beach for the finale.

From our vantage point at Rodeo Beach, you could see the runners approaching from way up on the trail and follow their progress through the final stages. As soon as we saw Kate and Russ, we started yelling for them. They fairly flew down the last stretches at a pace I would not have thought possible for someone who had just completed 100 miles. With legs pumping, grins plasters to their faces, and hands held high in victory, they crossed the finish line in 28:40:04!!

For my first crewing adventure, I could not have been blessed with a better experience. Kate was a champ through and through, never once complaining, but literally getting stronger and stronger as the miles wore on. She probably had the best pacer she could’ve asked for in Russ, and Karen and I, having spent a solid 28 hours together, one on one, came out with our friendship still intact!

If you ever have a chance to participate in one of these events, either as an aid station worker or a crew person, I highly recommend it. It will be one of the more rewarding experiences of your life.

For pics of the event, check out my my slide show.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I've sufficiently recovered - mentally and physically - from S.O.B. and am ready to get back on track. Going to meet with Coach Bill tomorrow to revamp my workout schedule and more fully utilize the equipment I have at home: Bowflex, bike (which can also be set up as a stationary bike), BOSU, free weights, and jump rope. I haven't used a jump rope in so long, I might end up strangling myself somehow. Wouldn't that be a hoot!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

S.O.B. 50k RR . . . or how not to crash and burn

My Siskiyou Outback 50k (31.6 miles for non-runners) Race Report! Oooh, I bet ya’ll have been waiting with barely contained anticipation, huh? Well, you can finally breath a sign of relief, sit back with a cup of coffee, a bottle of beer, or whatever floats your boat and . . . I’m not sure “enjoy” is the word I’m looking for, but at least delay doing whatever you’re actually suppose to be doing right now.

The Siskiyou Out and Back, or S.O.B., is held at Mt. Ashland in Ashland, Oregon. Karen and I left Friday morning for the short 3 ½ hour drive that took us over 6 hours to complete (a girl’s gotta at least browse some shops along the way!). We checked into our hotel, called Karen’s sister and brother-in-law, Kate and Rodney, to see how they were progressing on their travels to Ashland from Northern Oregon, then checked in with Kate’s friend, Glenn, who was running, as well. We then hitched our horses back up to the wagon and made the short drive to the running store to pick up our race packets and wait for Kate, Rodney, and Glenn to arrive. Let me tell ya, it was a tad warm in Ashland, and I was hoping it would be cooler up on the mountain the next day. Running in 80+ degree weather, as well as at high elevations, would not be the most pleasant of experiences.

Once all were accounted for, we partook of the obligatory pre-race carbo stuffing meal (pasta, pasta, and more pasta . . . and bread), had a soon-to-be well-deserved dessert of gelato, completed a short stroll through Lithia Park, then headed back to our respective lodgings for (hopefully) a good night’s rest. I, unfortunately, never sleep well before an event and feel obligated to dream some stupid dream about the race all night. (All I can remember on that front is that I kept running a very boring circle over and over, wondering why in the world I would agree to such a stupid thing!)

Karen, Kate, and I were up before dawn and met Glenn at the Mt. Ashland Ski Resort parking lot with just enough time to use the facilities before the 6:00 a.m. early start. I lined up at the back of the pack, the horn sounded, and we were off. And danged if I wasn’t even out of the parking lot before I had a wardrobe malfunction. My outer layer sock on the right foot slipped down off my heel and into my shoe. Cripes! Was this an omen? I seriously hoped not. However, because of my untimely stop, I encountered two gentlemen who were behind me (there’s never anybody behind me), and to my delight ended up with Phil as a running companion for almost the entire run. We would hop ahead of one another now and then (mostly him ahead of me), but mostly we stayed together. It was quite a change from my last run at Forest Park where I was by myself almost the entire time, and his easy conversation helped keep my mind off most of my struggles. (Have I used variations of “most” enough times in this paragraph??)

One struggle I knew would be the elevation. We started out at 6500' feet, crested at approximately 7100', with 4200' feet of elevation gain in between. Yes, folks, breathing was an issue. Our first major climb was a fire road, and let’s just say I walked almost the entire thing. We were probably about halfway up when my delightful bowels began talking to me, but for some time there was no place to hide. I rounded a corner and found Phil dumping some hitchhikers from his shoes, and he graciously pointed out that to my left off the trail a short way was probably the best solution to my problem. Upon exiting nature’s bathroom, another guy coming up the road yells, “Hey, I don’t think that’s the trail!” Ha ha! Very funny! Since I had had very serious issues in this department last the last event, I had started taking Imodium the night before. I was worried it wasn’t going to work, but am very happy to say that was my only bowel problem of the day! (Dontcha just feel all warm and cozy inside for knowing this little bit of information??)
Our Coach had outlined time frames, with a built in 15-minute cushion, in which we needed to enter each aid station. I was doing good up until close to the third aid station, which was the turn around point and the highest elevation. Not far from there, I began to get nauseated and slightly dizzy. Phil hung in there with me, boosting my morale and showing me some plants to use as aroma therapy, which helped a bit. At one point you could actually see the aid station, but it would be what seemed like forever before we actually got to it . . . and our first snow. Yes, snow! They had a bucket of it at the station and I ended up putting some in my Cool Bandana instead of ice.

It was at this station that my run began to really fall apart on me. Even though it was downhill out of there, I could feel that my legs were leaving me, and fast. There was a cutoff time for the next aid station, and I had serious doubts as to whether or not I would make it. I soon came upon the water-only station and was informed it was only a couple of miles (3?) to the next aid station, which was down one of the hardest parts (to me) of the trail. Very narrow and rocky at times, and quite a bit of climbing. No matter how hard I tried to push, my legs just weren’t having any of it.

I had left the turn around station before Phil, but he eventually caught up with and past me on this stretch. Behind him was another gentleman, and I pulled over to let him by but he said, “I have to follow you in.” Yep, he was Mike the Sweeper, in charge of picking up the stragglers. He said I had about a mile to go, and when I asked what the cutoff was, he very nicely, and somewhat sadly, informed me that I wouldn’t make it. I would make it (to the station), but I wouldn’t make it (by cutoff). I figured this was coming, but I was still crushed. After 22 miles and 5:55:00 on the trail, I would miss the cutoff by about 10 minutes and be pulled from the race.

Mike followed me for awhile at my not-too-bad pace considering my jelly legs, but had to stop and walk in another runner who had suffered a Charlie horse and couldn’t run. I decided not to kill myself completely on this last short stretch, but I did run into the station. Phil was there slightly ahead of me, but also short of the cutoff.

We commiserated with one another and waited around while the workers packed up the station, then hitched a ride back to the parking lot. I figured Kate and Glenn had finished within six or so hours, but I couldn’t find them at the finish line, so I began the wait, with camera in-hand, for Karen, figuring she’d come in close to the 8.5 hour cutoff. After about half an hour, Kate, Glenn, and I found each other, I took a picture of them with their finishers medals, then Glenn had to be on his way for the long drive home to Portland.
Rodney arrived soon after, and he and Kate took off up the road a ways to wait for Karen. At around the 8:00 hour mark I began a more permanent vigil at the finish line. Soon, there she was, coming down the road at a great trot, and crossed the finish line in 8:12:36! Congrats on a great run!

I felt I had trained hard for this, my second ultra trail run, and getting a DNF has been a hard pill to swallow. But as time goes by, I can see that I had a fantastic accomplishment in completing 22 miles of a tough course. My downfall was nutrition/ fueling. I didn’t come close to consuming enough, which is one of the reasons I began getting nauseous. I now know that you have to force feed yourself at that point if you want to have any hope of going on. I have learned some valuable lessons at both of my ultras. Next stop, the Bizz Johnson Marathon in Susanville, CA!

Here's a link to the slideshow of pictures I took:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Countdown to SOB 50K

It's the countdown to the SOB 50k, my second ultramarathon. I can only hope things go much better this time. I intend to do all I can to ensure that - which means taking Imodium beforehand and giving myself a hefty swipe of diaper rash lotion! (Come on, ya gotta love that little visual!)

I listened to a 60 Minutes iPOD cast today during my long run, and one segment talked about the importance of sleep for our health and well-being. People need to get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep each night, and not getting enough sleep, well, they're finding all sorts of side effects. I know that I'm lucky if I get 6-7, and rarely is it restful, never wake up sleep. I generally wake up two or three times a night (or more) that I am aware of, and think that maybe I pulled out of deep sleep more often. It's tough getting 7.5 to 8 hours when you need to get you by 4:30/5:00 a.m. I'd have to be asleep by 8:30 to get a full 8 hours in by 4:30. Just ain't gonna happen.

Some of the side effects that were discussed are weight gain and possible onset of Type II diabetes. It was an interesting podcast that I highly recommend listening to.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Goals.There's not telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There's no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There's no telling what will happen when you act upon them."
Jim Rohn

It's been almost a week since my first 50k, and I am still bathing in my own glory of finishing. Sometimes I find myself smiling and thinking, "Yep, I did it!" The only problem I have had is having to be dealt with with baby wipes and diaper rash lotion. Yep. I am much empathetic with babies now. Hoping things are healed enough that I can start running again on Monday, 'cause it's only 7 weeks (6?) to our next 50k - SOB in Ashland, OR. If anyone reading this is interested, here's the perspective of the last couple of miles of the run by my Trail Angel, Russ:

It's pretty cool . . . especially for me. ;o) The waterfall in the picture was during the first couple of miles of the run. It didn't take long before I couldn't care less about taking pictures! Ha!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Forest Park 50k Trail Run

Portland, Oregon
May 25, 2008

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” ( Buddha)

Beginning Fashion Report: White Nike Hat, pink shirt, black shorts, hot pink gators, green Vasquez trail running shoes.

Ending Fashion Report: Mud, Blood, Poop, Pee, Puke, Sweat, and lots of Tears!!

In thinking about what I was going to write, I wondered if I should leave out any of the gory details. But then I thought, what fun would that be? Therefore, as you continue through this novel, be aware that I plan to leave nothing to the imagination. Enjoy!

I knew going in this run would be as much mental as physical, if not more so. I took up running for the first time in my life only a short two years ago, but I have been blessed to have a strong running partner in my friend, Karen Peterson, and over the past year a positive and supportive coach in Bill Spaeth.

On Friday, Karen and I, with Charlie the Dog taking up the entire backseat, made the 8-hour trek from Humboldt County, California, to Portland, Oregon. On Saturday, while Karen attended to some personal business, I spent the day hanging out at her folks’ house by myself, enjoying the quiet of the country and making the acquaintance of the llamas living behind their back yard. Later in the afternoon, Karen returned with her brother-in-law, Rodney, and as we ate dinner, we were rewarded with the onset of heavy rain, thunder, and lightening, ensuring a messy trail for the next day. I also got to finally meet Karen’s sister, Kate, who arrived later in the evening. For those of you “in the know,” her posting handle is “katemd.” Yes, folks, the one and only. She’s famous . . . and now I get to say, “Yeah, I know her.” (a wink to Kate ;o) ). She and Rodney were going to be our support crew at the aid stations, and little did I know just how important that support was going to be.

Sunday dawned bright . . . and overcast . . . and ready to dump more rain. We arrived at the park about 45 minutes or so before the start time, and were met at the top of the stairs by Kate’s friend, Glenn, who had come just to see us off. Yet one more act of kindness that is so prevalent through the trail running community. Karen and I went to register and found that the very, very short line was for the 50k. (Should this have been an omen??) We picked up our bib numbers, availed ourselves of the Honey Buckets (port-a-toilets) - well, at least I did - and soon Wendell of Pacific Coast Trail Runs ( was making announcements through his bullhorn. I had made my way to the back of the pack, and pretty much he sounded like someone out of a Peanuts cartoon and I couldn’t understand a word. It wasn’t long, though, before the horn sounded and we were off! Okay - we were walking, shuffling, jog a step or two, walk, maneuver around someone, jog a few steps, stumble (#@$% rock! Oh wait - this is a trail . . .) This continued on and off for awhile until the various factions (10k, 20k, 30k, 50k) went their separate ways.

I had never been to Forest Park before, and was marveling at the beauty around me. It is the largest urban park in the US, comprised of 52 acres with 40 miles of trails. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It wasn’t long, however, before the rain started again, and kept up for about the first 2-3 hours of the run. This caused quite a bit of the vegetation to bend over into the trail, and at times I was thinking that maybe I should’ve brought my machete with me :o). It also made things very muddy and soggy. This was good and this was bad. It was good in the beginning, because it was fun sloshing through the puddles and slipping through the mud. It was bad in the end ‘cause I was tired of sloshing through the puddles and slipping through mud.

Karen and I sort of frog jumped each other (her in the front 99.99% of the time) all the way to the first aid station (10k/6.15m). Kate and Rodney were there braving the rain, with Kate filling our bladders (fluid bladders, that is), Rodney taking pictures, and everyone all smiles - for now. A little way out of the aid station, Karen and I picked up another runner named Karen, who was celebrating her 50th birthday, and honoring a friend’s daughter who had recently been killed in a vehicle collision, by running her first 50k. We hadn’t been gone long when we came upon another runner who was confused by a trail marking. Which direction to go? Since there were no turn markers (striped ribbons), we all decided that the small veer to the right and down the hill was the route. This would prove to be a huge error. Unbeknownst to us, or because the marking wasn’t clear enough, we went in the wrong direction. We powered our way to the bottom of the hill, only to be confronted by having to turn left or right with no striped ribbon. Luckily, another runner, who was running the 30k, came along from the left at that same time and told us that we needed to backtrack up the fire road and to a small trail in order to get on track. Ended up a number of runners came through that same area, went the wrong direction, and after running the 20k loop, called it quits. Afterward, Karen figured this added about 3 miles and half an hour to our time on the trail. Needless to say, I was PO’d. I mean really PO’d. The fire road was at a slight incline the entire way, and the small trail we had to maneuver was pretty straight up. This used up some very precious energy that I knew I would need toward the end to finish. On the climb, the two Karens passed me, and that would be last I’d see of them until the end.

I didn’t see much of the other runners either, unless they were passing me going the opposite direction to the final destination. I came into the second aid station (20k/12.43m) with very sloshy feet, and tried with wet, puffy, stiff fingers to put dry Injinji socks on wet feet. Not an easy task. However, one of my big worries with regard to this run was blisters (as I am the Blister Queen), and I needed to ensure I took care of those puppies. Kate, bless her heart, filled my bladder again, mumbled something about the pre-measured baggies I had of GU2O and maltodextrin being a pain in the butt but we’ll work with it, I stuffed some goodies from the food table into a Ziploc, and took off. I was but a few hundred yards down the trail when I knew I would have to add a second layer of socks or I’d be in trouble. Again with the wet, cold, stiff fingers trying to untie and tie shoes, hook the gaiters, etc. At both the aid station and here, this ate up precious time for me.

From this point on, I was pretty much a lone runner . . . and my bowel troubles began. My body had already greeted the day with the start of my menstrual cycle (yea!!), and now my bowels were knocking at the door. “Hey you! We gotta go! And we mean now!” Ah, crap! (pun intended). I slashed my way through the bushes, barely making it in time, and fought with wet hands and toilet paper and tampons. I wasn’t 2 minutes on the run again when - you’ve got to be kidding me!! - and I was slashing my way through the bushes again. This little merry-go-round would continue throughout the rest of the day and eventually left me wincing with pain at the thought of another bathroom break.

Shortly before the third aid station, I started to get weary and was telling myself I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had just battled my way down a very slippery slope, had fallen and slid on my butt a few feet in the mud, and had had to slide off a steep jump at the end. There wasn’t another soul around, either participating in the race or just out enjoying the park. It was very lonely. I thinking about how I was going to call it quits when I heard, “There she is!!” and Kate’s smiling face appeared around the bend. I was so happy to see her, and I told her I was done. She basically said, let’s get up to the aid station (30k/18.64m), get some food in you and see how you’re doing. She kept pumping me up the entire way up the hill, and before I knew it, she’d filled my bladder, told me to drink more, I’d filled my baggie with food, and she was telling me, “It’s only 6 miles to the next aid station. If you still want to quit then, you can.” “Okay.” And I was off.

The time between the 3rd and 4th aid stations was the worst for me and is a bit blurry. I tried listening to an iPOD podcast, but put it away before I threw it at something. Not realizing it, I was drinking too much, which meant I had to stop and pee a lot, and I was still pooping. I knew I was the last person on the trail (despite the protests of the aid station workers), and I felt very demoralized. I was extremely nauseated, and couldn’t stop the steady stream of “I can’t do this” in my head. I was walking more than I was running, and I kept looking at my time, knowing that I needed to reach the last aid station in no less than 7:12 to be able to make it to the end within the 9-hour time limit.

I was in the middle of my hazy depression when I heard it again, “There she is!” It was Kate again. I know I kept muttered something about being nauseous and how damn hard this was. I told her how much I’d pee’d between stations, and she said I was overhydrated and to try and throw up. I did, and I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. She marched me into the aid station (40k/24.79m), I used the bathroom (yet again), she had me sip some soda, filled my baggie with goodies, told me not to drink anymore so I turned over my pack, said she and Rodney would meet me two miles down the road, and I was off again. The sugar did wonders to perk me up, and at two miles down the road, I was feeling considerably better. Kate and Rodney were there with some soda and a little bit more food, then sent me off on the last four miles, noting that I had 1:15 in which to complete it.

It was about 2 miles further down the road that I ran (literally) into my Trail Angel, Russ (aka rustyboy). Within a matter of seconds, I asked him if he knew how far the parking lot was, he asked if I was in the race, I said yes, it’s my first 50k and I’m the last man out, and he said that if I wanted, he’d be honored to pace me in the rest of the way. I said that if he really wanted to, I’d appreciate it. He did and kept up a constant chatter with me to help keep my mind off things, and I will be forever grateful to him. It was the first time in hours that I’d had another person to talk to on the trail. About a mile out, Kate met up with us and ran with us the rest of the way in. Introductions were made on the run, and they knew each other through posting on ultra sites. Ends up once Russ told me his moniker and I told him mine, we knew each other as well. The ultra trail running community is small.

Kate finally said, there’s the bridge and that’s the end, she and Russ backed off, and I ran as hard I as I could at that point, crying like a baby the whole way, and didn’t stop crying for probably another five minutes. Both Karens had reached the end together about 20 minutes or so ahead of me and were all smiles and hugs, as were Rodney, the 2nd Karen’s husband, Sara of PCTR, Russ, and Kate. I could not believe I’d actually done it, finishing with an official time of 8 hours 46 minutes 22 seconds (clocking 14 minute miles over the last 6 miles). I also got the distinction of coming in DFL - Dead F*$%-ing Last - an honorary position, I do believe (I think it should’ve come with a rubber chicken or something . . . ) My only disappointment is that I didn’t have my head together enough to get a picture of Russ and me together. I had to use the bathroom (again), and by the time I came out he’d left to finish his run.

There are a few people who I need to acknowledge, because without them - no matter how large or small their role was - I couldn’t have done this.

Karen - My running buddy, who got me into this whole mess to start with. Thankfully!
Coach Bill - Who gave me a grueling workout schedule, but it worked (and who I am sure has another grueling one planned for June)
PT Galen - Who kept my right knee healthy and who’s PT exercises over the past couple of months undoubtedly gave my legs the extra strength that propelled me through the run
Russ - My Trail Angel, whose kindness and generosity helped a complete stranger push through to the end of her first 50k
Kate - Who just wouldn’t let me give up. I am so, so grateful she was there

So would I do it again, you may be asking yourselves? Hell, yes! I think I’m addicted. (But I’ll probably avail myself of some Imodium before hand.)

(For some great photos of the race, checkout I’m a little more than halfway down the page, on the left, wearing a pink shirt. Karen is the photo directly before mine, orange shirt with white/flowery short tights.)

(Comments from Kate: “Leslie almost called it a day at 30K but I talked her back into the game. Then at 40K she was looking really, really bad. She was way overhydrated, nauseated and unable to eat. So I told her to force vomiting and she felt a lot better after that. She got down some cola and small sugary things. We met her again at 53rd Ave and gave her some more soda and she ran the rest of the way in looking like she
returned from the dead. She even bumped into another ultramarathoner whom we both know from online and he ran her in the last 2 miles. She was a real trooper. “)

Time Out of Aid Stations
AS1 1:30
AS2 3:15 (trail bandit bastards)
AS3 5:13
AS4 7:24
End 8:46:22

Time Between Stations
AS1 1:30
AS2 2:15 (trail bandit bastards)
AS3 1:58 (really hard section of the trail)
AS4 2:11
End 1:19 (14 min miles!!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

12 Days and Counting . . . .

"With 0.1 to go I came to the conclusion that I had reached my vomit quota for the month, the effort required to try and make one more pass at the finish would have definitely put me over." (r2farm -

Probably one of my all-time favorite quotes. Thanks, Farmer Jim!

It's now down to days instead of weeks 'til my first 50k. Yikes! We ran our last long run on Saturday (3.5 hours), and Karen was a bit dismayed to learn later than we'd only accomplished about 10 miles instead of the anticipated 15. Well, not much can be done about it now. We've been putting in enough hours and miles that things should fall into place.

I attached Engo patches to the insides of my shoes and managed to keep from getting anymore blisters, but I did feel points warming up toward the end. I've used so many combinations of socks (including Injinji) and blister prevention "stuff" that I figure this is just my curse to bear for awhile. Will be keeping a very close eye on things during the run.

I took a couple of other steps toward improving my running and myself by purchasing a heart rate monitor and a used mountain bike, for which I will be purchasing a trainer so I can use it as a stationary bike. My aerobic DVDs just aren't cutting it for me anymore with regard to cardio, which is good 'cause it means I'm in much better shape, but at the same time is bad 'cause I have quite a few DVDs which = $$$. Oh well . . .! And with the heart rate monitor, I've been assured by many that it will make me a more efficient runner - - and my PT assured me it will aid in getting rid of this little "ring around the middle" I haven't been able to purge. Alright! Bring it on then!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And the Beat Goes On

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
Theodore Roosevelt

My friend commented in an email the other day that she sure will be glad when we begin tapering and are in "recovery" mode after the run. This training is eating up so much of our time. I reminded her that we won't be recovering for long 'cause we have another 50k scheduled for July 11 - that is, if we survive this one.

I think my biggest obstacle to completing this run is going to be blisters. I have a terrible time with them and thought I'd come upon a good "cure." However, this past Saturday I developed a nice sized one my left big toe. Same place as always. You'd think the callouses would start taking over. I will try yet another remedy for this weekend. Maybe if I just have the big toes removed . . . . Not an option? Well, you can't blame a girl for trying.

Between training, work, my side job, business of the Legal Professionals Association to which I belong, yadda, yadda, yadda, it's hard finding enough time in the week to clean my toilet, let alone keep up on everything else. I'm tired. But I have been diligent in taking my vitamins and calcium. Something's gotta help keep this ole bod going.

I'm definitely seeing great results from all the PT exercises I've been doing. I actually have muscles in my legs. I'd been told they were there, and gosh darn if they aren't looking pretty good these days. 'Course, you need to wear sunglasses if you look at 'em. Got the Northern CA rainy/foggy/no sun non-tan goin' on. Yep, I'm a white girl.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cherish Your Visions and Your Dreams

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements. (Napoleon Hill)

To the few nay sayers in my life - How can you ask me to reach lower instead of higher? How can you ask me to adjust my dreams to suit your vision of what my dreams should be? For the first time in my life I have a dream, a purpose, a burning desire. Do not take my dream from me because you no longer dream. Do not take my purpose from me because you can no longer find one for your life. Do not take my desire from me because you are afraid I may not succeed. I may not. “But in the end, I am more afraid of not trying than failing.” (JJJessee,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries - Just Fuel to the Fire

Let's see. What's the date? Oh yeah, about a month from my next event - my first 50k - and I've messed up my back again. Never fails. Never ever fails. I have yet to participate in any event (I call them "events" not "races") 100% healthy. Something always goes wrong a few weeks or a few days before. Injury, illness, bad blisters - you name it. Now it's my back again. And I was already in PT for a nagging knee problem. It's hell getting old, ain't it?

So I'm laying off the running for a few days in the hopes that things settle down. However, sitting at work all day doesn't help matters.

Speaking of the 50k - I've been overthinking the damn thing way too much. My friend, Karen, is started to get irritated with me, bless her little ole heart - which is 47 today!! Happy Birthday, my friend!

And speaking of PT - it's doing wonders for my lower half. Forget about steel - I'm getting buns of titanium! At 42 years of age, I'm looking better and am healthier than I've ever been in my life. Forget being in my 20s again - long live the 40s!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Training for the Forest Park 50k in May began a couple of weeks ago with much intensity. My current schedule has me running 6 days a week with cardio and strength training thrown in, as well. Plus I started physical therapy two weeks ago to deal with what I thought was a hip flexor problem and turned out to be basically a whole lower half of the body problem. Who knew! My PT routine is a dog, but after only two weeks, I can already tell a difference. I am having problems with what I think is my sciatica (which I've had before), and will have to get that in check ASAP. Today, it's made my right leg feel weak and like it wants to buckle on almost every step.

Even though the run is still 5 weeks away, I am really getting nervous. Tons of thoughts running through my brain. I know I can complete this run. I know I can. But still, there are times when doubts start to cloud my mind. So I'm trying to do the whole "positive visualization" thing, seeing myself crossing the finish line, calling my husband and telling him "I did it!" Celebrating with my friend at the end. Just gotta keep it up, is all. :o)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Countdown to Forest Park 50k, 05/25/08

(Swamp on the edge of a ranch outside Savannah, Georgia)

It's been less than a week since Pirates Cove and I'm ready to get back out there and try, try again. The next big challenge - my workout schedule for April (ha!) and then the Forest Park 50k Trail Run in Portland, OR. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. However, in reviewing my training schedule, the trail run will be a breeze compared to the schedule (at least I hope so . . . ).

On the agenda - only one rest day a week, Sunday ('cause even God rested on Sunday!), and tackling over and over again The Hill at my house. I've been avoiding it like the plague until now. Guess we'll soon see who's stronger - It or me.

I've also made a two-year commitment to a position within Legal Secretaries, Inc. Between that, my running, my regular job, and my side job, I'm going to be a pretty busy gal for awhile. Can you say "More massages?" I can!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pirates Cove 30k Trail Run

a.k.a - “Am I a Mountain Goat?” Extravaganza

Saturday, March 22, 2008, Marin Headlands, Sausalito, CA

Pirates Cove was my “virgin” trail running event last year with the 20k, and I was excited to come back and face the challenge this year with the 30k. Wendell and Sarah of Pacific Coast Trail Runs ( always put on great events, with their motto being “Runs that Aren’t Races in Beautiful Places.” There are no great prizes at the end, just the knowledge that you completed a competitive and challenging course . . . with the greatest aids stations

It’s funny how time helps fade the memory of agony, which is sort of what happened with this event. I remembered that the first portion of the trail was uphill for a good mile or so (as well as the treaded 1.25 (or longer) mile climb in the middle), and planned to start at the back of the pack and walk it, which I did. As one smart individual advised me last year, “Only the really good or stupid runners try and run the first hill.” (A) I’m not a really good runner, and (b) I generally think I’m not stupid, although that theory was challenged this year.

My running buddy, Karen, had planned to stick with me for awhile, and bless her heart, she did. However, after the second steep climb, at the top of which she was waiting for me yet again, she announced, “This is the last time I’m going to wait.” So I promptly handed over the cars keys, said good luck, and didn’t see her again ‘til the end.

This event runs along the Marine Headlands in the San Francisco Bay Area, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Runners are gifted with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Bridge, and Sausalito, which I suppose are intended to help alleviate some of the pain and agony the unprepared or uninitiated will experience. I took a few picture postcard photos at the beginning, but cursed the thought during the second half of the run.

The event was sold out with approximately 500 people participating, 100 in the 30k. The 50ks and 30ks started promptly at 8:30, with the 12ks and 8ks sent out approximately 15 minutes later. We had just reached the lovely straight up, ever-shifting shale rock climbing section when the 12ks started catching up. (What? Holy cow!) When safe, I dutifully stepped to the side and time again and marveled at these runners’ ability to traverse this mess without slipping and falling. (Surely there’s goat somewhere in these people’s heritage.) It was at the top of this particular climb that I bid Karen a fond farewell, as previously mentioned.

We were still sort of packed up at that point, and coming down the hill to the horse stables, this loud belch erupts from the guy running behind me. I congratulated him on its productivity, and assured him I wasn’t at all disgusted while trying to discreetly wipe remnants from the back of my head. ;o)

We hit the first aid station, I stuffed a few goodies into my baggie and split from the 12ks. I was only a few minutes up the trail when I had to stop and deal with a hot spot on the top of my big toe. In the approximately 5 minutes it took me to disengage myself from the hydration pack, fix the spot, and put my shoe back on, nary a soul came by. I had seen a large group of people waaaaay ahead of me, but fearing I’d gotten off course, I backtracked a very short distance until I saw an orange flag, then turned around and retraced my steps. Thus began the extensive, lonely climb to the top (At least there was suppose to be top. Right?). About 10 minutes later, a recreational walker was coming downhill toward me, and since I had neither seen nor heard anyone else, I asked him if he’d seen any orange flags up ahead. “Yep, there’s lots of people ahead of you. You’re not lost.” A breathless thanks and I kept climbing, and climbing, and climbing, and freaking climbing.

This is when I realized I might be in trouble. You would climb 20, 30, 40 minutes at a time, 20+ stairs at a time, have a flat or downhill for 5-10 minutes, then start climbing again. It was unbelievable. I had looked at the course map and understood there was a good amount of elevation change (3,500'), but obviously didn’t comprehend what I was going to be up against. My legs are were talking to me way too soon, and I began to doubt my ability to finish the run.

Except for the occasional recreational runner, walker, biker, I was on my own for a very long time. At one point, just as I was about to start another climb (stairs this time), an older couple came down around the corner. He smiled at me and said, “You may be the last, but you’re looking pretty in pink!” (Running Attire: pink shirt, black tights w/pink stripe down by legs, and awesome DirtyGirl pink gaiters) I told him that they’d at least be able to find me if I died on the trail. A few minutes later as I stood on the stairs catching my breath, here comes another runner from out of nowhere. She passed me, but must’ve been in her own zone ‘cause I didn’t receive any kind of acknowledgment of existence. I don’t blame her.

About 20 minutes later, I hit a wide service trail and started the descent toward the second aid station (same station as the first). I had to incorporate my downhill zig-zagging because I knew my legs couldn’t handle a straight approach. I passed a couple of female participants who, besides the lady who passed me earlier, were the first runners I’d seen in probably close to 1½ hours. Once the road flattened out, I started running/walking, trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the next 7 or so miles. Suddenly from behind me I hear, “It looks like you’ve done this before.” One of the women I had passed had caught up to me, Anissa. She was referring to my zig-zag approach, and I explained that it lessened the pressure on my quads. We powered-walked into the aid station together, refueled, and left together to make the 1.25 mile ascent that I’d been treading since the beginning. It was really nice to have someone to commiserate with about the climb. We both thought it sucked and questioned our ability to keep running once we hit the top.

About halfway up the hill, my stomach started acting up. It wasn’t really nausea, but it wasn’t comfortable, and I felt bloated. I also kept getting a little light headed and would have to stop and walk a few steps, even on the flat sections. Anissa stay with me for awhile, but I knew I was holding her back and told her to go on. She asked if I wanted her to send someone back for me but I declined, determined to finish this thing come hell or high water. Although Anissa ended up a good distance ahead of me, whenever the trail bent at an angle where she could look back, I would see her checking on my progress, which was greatly appreciated. I kept trying to eat, but it became nearly impossible to swallow. My body just didn’t want to cooperate. I kept drinking, but my stomach felt so pressurized, I was worried about drinking too much. It sucked.

After awhile, I came to another service road and started another descent. At Mile 15.32, I came upon Anissa attending to a mountain biker who was down on the ground. He looked to be in a lot of pain, so I thought he had injured a body part. Ended up the guy was having a heart attack! What?!? Anissa asked if I knew how far the next aid station was, I told her I didn’t, but would get there as quick as I could. You know the ole saying, you never know what you can accomplish until you have to? My adrenaline was pumping so fast and I ran as hard as I could, praying the aid station wasn’t too far away. Thank God it was only .20 from where the guy was down! I ran up the hill yelling, “Hey! Hey! There’s a guy having a heart attack! Hey!” The worker called Wendell, who called the park rangers and 911, and the last I heard, they thought the guy was going to make it. Anissa ended up staying with him for over an hour, but came in only 34 minutes behind me.

I asked the worker if I could sit down in his car for a few minutes. My hands were shaking so badly at this point from low fuel, I could hardly hold a cup of water, and I actually felt a dizzy spell try to come on. After a few minutes, though, I sucked it up, put my pack back on and trudged out of there with one of the workers promising me it was all downhill now. At this point, I was intermingling running and power walking, sometimes talking to myself, “Left, right, left, right,” to keep my legs moving.

About 2 miles or so from the finish, I had a sudden need to go to the bathroom . . . really bad. The problem - there are lots of people around, the only grass about knee high, and there’s a lot of poison oak. Nowhere to hide, nowhere to squat safely. Ho-ly smokes! Ack! I was forced to stop a couple of times to try and compose myself before continuing on, constantly surveying the area, trying desperately to find a spot where I could go to the bathroom. At some point I just told myself, screw it. If I mess myself, well, it won’t be the first time, there are showers at the end, and I have clean clothes in the car. Thankfully, the Running Gods were carefully watching over me, as they had been the entire time, and allowed me to keep my dignity.

Now, in the back of my mind I was remembering the wonderful patch of sand we had to run through last year at the end. I began talking to myself, psyching myself up about getting through the sand. You can do it! You know you can! I left the service road, and crossed and began running along the frontage road, wondering where it would turn back to go over the sand. I soon realized this was not going to happen, and my confidence was bolstered somewhat. Also, all along the frontage road, people were out just to enjoy the beautiful day, but had nothing to do with the race. However, many would start yelling for me as I approached them, “Go 3000! You can do it 3000!” (my race number) and it gave me that little bit of umpf needed to push through last quarter to half mile to the end. As I charged up through the parking lot toward the finish line, I could hear my friend, Karen, yelling, “Come on, Leslie! You’re almost there! You can do it!” After 18.80 miles, I crossed the line in 5:00:04 and I wobbled my way to a bench and sat down before my legs could give out me. I was so happy, I almost started crying, and did finally break down when I called my husband. I had waged a war with my body and in my head for 5 hours and had won!

(Exhausted but happy!)

30k Results
Age: 15/15
Overall: 89/100

As an aside, I’d like to acknowledge REO Speedwagon and their song, “Take It On the Run,” which played over and over and over . . . and over . . . in my head for five freaking hours. I don’t care to hear that song again for a very long time and plan to remove it from my iPOD.