Friday, December 28, 2012

. . . . Again . . . .

So here I am . . . Again.  On crutches . . . Again.  Just a mere 20 days after my last post with my anticipated races for the year.  Now all those plans have more than likely been flushed down the proverbial toilet.

"So what happened?" you ask.  I . . . have . . . no . . . idea.  There I was, running along Elk River Road, minding my own business, listening to some podcasts, when "Wha???"  What was that?  My foot suddenly started hurting in the same manner it did March 26, 2011, only this time not as intense.  The pain soon went away, only to appear one other time for a millisecond later in the day.  I completely forgot about it.

Monday, December 24, Christmas Eve Morning.  Out for an EZ 4-mile run.  About a mile into it - Ouch!  Brain neurons snapping to attention.  Adrenaline suddenly on high alert.  What's going on?  A vain attempt to make the pain go away by loosening my shoe laces.  Run very easy for another 1/4 mile.  Reality setting in.  My foot is injured again.  Slowly limp the 1.25 miles back home.  Pull the crutches out of the closet and resign myself to being on them again.

So that's where I am at the moment.  I have an appointment with my ortho on Thursday, January 3 - exactly one year since the last time I saw him.  There isn't any pain, just the knowledge that when I try to walk on the foot "something" is wrong.  And the nerves are out of whack again, as well.  I'm covering my bases by icing, ibu-ing, contrast bathing, and doing the whole paint brush on the foot thing again in an effort to get the nerve issue under control.  I have no doubt most, if not all, of my running plans for the year are kapoot.  The questions are (1) how bad is the tear this time, (2) how long do I have to be on the crutches this time (last time - 3 months), (3) when can I start running again, and, quite possibly a fourth (4) am I going to be able to run again or is this a weak point in my foot and decisions have to be made.  While I am trying to not dwelling on the last question, I have to entertain the thought.

In the meantime, I have resigned myself to getting reacquainted with my stationary bike (OUCH re the nether regions) and am doing strength training from a seated position on a stability ball.  Whether or not I will return to pool running (ugh!) depends on the length of rehab.  *sigh*  This stinks.  It really, really stinks . . .

Monday, December 3, 2012

The quote in the picture to the right just about sums up how I feel about running.  I can't say I get up every morning telling myself, "Yea!! I get to run today!" Or on the weekends, "Yea!! I get to spend my entire weekend running!!"  But I can say that I love the feeling of accomplishing what only a few  shorty years ago I would have told myself I could never do.

Have said that . . . .

I have been given the Thumbs Up from Coach Gary regarding a tentative race schedule for next year.  The thought of what I want to accomplish almost nauseates me, but that's a good thing.  . . . Right?  I'm going to be 47 in February.  Obviously getting older, not younger.  If I don't push myself now, then I may never be able to do so.

My goals mean more time alone and less time with my husband.  He is amazingly tolerant of this craziness, and I love him all the more for his support.  I hope he'll be able to accompany on at least a couple of my adventures so I can share the experiences with him.

So far on the schedule for 2013:

May 25-27 - Western States 3-Day Training Camp (70 Miles)
July 13 - Mt. Hood 50

Tentatively on the schedule:
Feb 9 - American Canyon 50k, Auburn, CA
Mar 16 - Rodeo Valley 50k, Marin Headlands, San Fran, CA
Apr 21 - Sunsweet 50k, Redbluff, CA
Sept - Headlands 50, Marin Headlands, San Fran, CA

The February, March, and April dates are what have my butt puckering a bit, so I need to give myself some more think time before committing, because as all us runners know, committing = non-fundable $$.

Headlands - I'm waiting for PCTR to get their 2013 schedule posted to see if they're actually going to run it and, if so, will it be in September.

I'm getting tired just thinking about it all . . . . but it's a good tired.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Meet Our Office Mascot - Cisco

We have one of these little guys living in our office here at work. His name is Cisco (this is not a picture of our actual Cisco, but they look the same).  Last February, my boss and her family went on vacation, and when we arrived at work the Monday following their departure weekend, we found Cisco, a bag of food, and $20.00 in her office with a note asking us to take care of him.  By the time they returned about 2 weeks later, all us ladies had fallen in love with him, and we basically told Lisa they couldn't have him back. 

He has now become a our office mascot and is quite the character.  He's a real chatterbox and can say "kitty, kitty, kitty," "come here," and "pretty bird."  He doesn't like hands, so the only time we're able to get him out of his cage is when he decides to launch himself off the door that's almost always open. (Yes, we keep his wings clipped, so sometimes the launching is more of a thud to the floor, rather than a flutter, depending on how much his wings have grown out.)  Once he's out of his home, he'll hop up on your finger, then jump to your shoulder and sit there for quite a long time. If you're wearing dangly earrings, all the better for him.  He's addicted to hard boiled eggs and millet (aka "birdy crack"), and he's passionately in love with two things: the bell that hangs from the top of his cage and our receptionist, Lynsey.  The rest of us, he tolerates. 

With proper care, these little guys can live up to 15 years.  We hope this is the case with Cisco as he's brought a whole new level of joy to our office.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rest and Rejuvination - Feels Good!

Who'd thunk that taking time off and letting your body rejuvenate would feel so good?  Who'd a thunk I would forget that after taking six months off last year because of my injury?  (mental eye roll)

I thoroughly enjoyed me seven straight days of being a blob, but am just as happy to get back to some EZ running this week.  Am already looking at my schedule for next year . . . and hoping I'm not getting myself in over my head.  Tentatively am looking at:

Late February/Early March - 50k
Mid April - 50k
Memorial Day Week - Western States 3-Day Training Camp (70 miles)
July - Mt. Hood 50 Mile
September - Headlands 50 mile

We'll see!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weaver Basin 50k, October 13, 2012

I started out with this long-winded dissertation about Weaver Basin 50k, but thankfully (mostly for you, the reader) I realized I wasn’t giving this race the justice it deserved, nor was I coming even close to conveying how much I enjoyed this race.

(That's where all the fun will be happening - the Trinity Alps)

(Very runnable first half)
I chose Weaver Basin as the last race of my running season mostly because it was so close to home, practically in my back yard at only 2 hours away (normally, I have to drive anywhere from 4 to 8 hours for a race).  The race was a benefit for the Trinity High Athletics Department, and even as I type those words, I find it slightly depressing that our schools have to have fund raisers in order to have activities as character building as athletics.  But I digress . . . .

I drove over Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel room, got my bib number at Main Street Shoes and met the very nice Roxanne (who I think was the co-RD or at the very least was one of the sort of sadistic minds behind the course), and topped off the day by attending the spaghetti feed at the Fire Hall, also a fund raiser for the athletics department.  In doing so, I was privileged to meet a woman who was celebrating losing 95 pounds and a guy who had lost over 100 pounds (both running the 30k the next day), as well as Wayne, who is from Eureka, too.  (Yea! Another local trail runner!)  Wayne and I ended up getting engrossed in our own tales of trail running (he’s run Western States three times), and soon it was time to mosey on back to our respective lodges to get ready for the next day.
(Prepared for the  next day and representin' the 3NJs!!)
Thankfully, Gus Kormeier, the RD, had set the start time at a respectable 8:00 a.m., so I got to sleep in, somewhat.  By the time I arrived at the high school parking lot at 7:30, a number of runners had already arrived.  The 30k and 50k would start at 8:00, and the 10k at 9:00 (I think).  All total, there were close to 70 runners signed up for all three races.  Did I mention this was the inaugural race?  I suspect that once word gets out regarding what a fantastic event this was and how great the trail is, they’ll end up with more participants than they’ll know what to do with (at least I hope so).
(T-shirts hot off the press!)

I had already decided I was going to take my time running this race.  It was the last after a long training season, and I just wanted to enjoy myself.  In talking the night before, Wayne and I figured since we were both going slow, we might end up running together some.  At the end of the first 3 miles (a lollipop loop), I was at the back of the pack (not a surprise), and as I left the first aid station, Wayne was slightly ahead of me.  He slowed down so I could catch up and in that silent agreement that happens between trail runners, we running the next 9 miles together.  At about Mile 12.22 I stepped off the trail to get some salt pills and didn’t catch up with him again until approximately Mile 22.
(Me and Wayne at Jackass Ridge Aid Station)

In the interim, I accidentally went off trail, but only for about 1/4 mile total (um - there are no other shoe prints in the dirt.  I don’t think I belong here), got to feel like a champion for a moment as I climbed the trail to AS#4 to the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” stuffed my face throughout the race with bananas, potatoes, Pepsi (BPP), and red vine licorice (my stomach was happy with this combo), and had the pleasure of interacting with wonderful and helpful aid station workers, all of whom I can only ascertain were friends, family, and parents of the RD and/or the kids of Trinity High.
(Jackass Ridge Aid Station Crew)

I called the RD sadistic earlier, didn’t I?  It was all in jest, but the reason is because of how he laid out this race.  There was approximately 4700 feet of elevation gain, and almost all of it is in the second half.  He sucks you in with a very runnable first half, then at Mile 15.25 begins throwing the climbs at you.  The first is half a mile and full of switchbacks.  However, at the top you are greeted with a sign that says:

followed by another sign telling you you get a  brief reprieve

 After that, it’s an up and down fest that tests your will, but never feels insurmountable.  Your quads get a workout, but what do you expect?  It’s a trail race!  In grading the trail on a scale of 1 to 5 ala Ultrarunner Magazine, I’d say the first half is around a 2-2.5 and the second half is around a 3.5.
(Halfway up the first major climb)

The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was during the 2 ½ miles at the top of the first climb.  There were a lot of shoe prints in the dirt, but over the top of some of those prints were the paw prints of a large cat.  The question: When were those paw prints made?  With 13 people ahead of me, I doubted the prints were made over the shoe prints of those who had marked the trail the day before.  It was just a matter of whether the cat had been through there moments or a couple of hours before me.  This was incentive to kick it up a notch and get the heck outta there.

At about Mile 19, I hit the 5th aid station and the high point of the race, elevation-wise.  There was an older gentleman and a teenage boy working this station, and they were happy to see me since I was the last runner to come through.  The man couldn’t have been more helpful and was concerned about me getting food while he helped me refill my fluid bladder.  I grabbed some more BPP and red licorice, thanked them for being there and took off.  Wayne was leaving the station as I was climbing up to it, and about 15 minutes after I left, I caught up to him.  Unfortunately, he was having a some significant knee issues and was having a hard time running down hill or climbing.  I stayed with him for about 15 minutes or so, but soon we had another silent agreement that I needed to keep going, so I wished him luck and took off.

There was a lot of downhill after leaving the 5th AS.  It wasn’t extremely technical, but neither was all of it smooth sailing.  Plus, I was getting tired and had to work hard to not use my quads as brakes.  I was happy to arrive at AS #6 and stuff my face with BPP and some potato chips.  As I left, one of the workers told me, “You have 9 miles left.  Cross the road and you get to climb.”  Me with a grin: “Well, that’s disappointing.”  The next five miles was a combo of some good climbing and descending.  I could hear the creek down below me, and at one point if I had been willing to go slightly off trail and climb down some rocks, I could’ve gotten wet, but I just didn’t have it in me. 
(Perty, ain't it!)
About an hour later after descending some rutty service road and starting a little bit of a climb, I saw a guy and dog who had been at the start.  He yelled, “How you doing?”  Me, smiling: “Pooped, but not defeated!”  Him: “The last aid station is just over that rise.”  I had been on the move for around 7 hours and this would be my third and last time through my favorite aid station, Jackass Aid Station.  These ladies were fantastic, and we had the honor of coming through this AS three times.  My third time through, they were packing things up, but were still full of enthusiasm and asking what I needed before I got to them.  I asked if they had extra water, which they did, and I had dumped a couple of cups over my head when one of the ladies walked up with a gallon of water and gave me a good dousing.  It felt so good!

It was four miles to the end, and I’m not ashamed to say I was getting tuckered out.  I walked more than I wanted to, but I can honestly say I was still thoroughly enjoying myself.
(Almost there!)
 The last couple of miles, the course took us back down the initial service road we’d run up, then off to the left on some craggy road (or wash or something), then up to a point above the high school football field.  By then, I could see the finish line down below me, and I hustled as fast as I could down a grassy hillside to the dirt track circling the field, and ran my heart out around half the track to finish in 8:03.  To top it off, I came in third female and actually got some swag!  As I told the RD, “There must not have been very many of us.”  He smiled and said, “Three.”  Hey, I’ll take a placement wherever I can get it . . . especially since the only placement I’ve had before is DFL.

lthough I was worried about Wayne and if he’d be able to finish, I needed to clean up and get on the road as I had a 2+ hour drive ahead of me.  The results show he finished about half an hour after me, and I tip my hat to his determination.

This was a great course that I highly recommend.  It was extremely well marked, and all the volunteers get an A++ in my book.  Because the first half is so runnable, it makes for a fast course for the right runner, like Winner Ryan Ghelfi who finished in 3:48:12. (Say, what??)  I'll definitely go back.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Days You Got, Some You Ain't

Saturday was one of those runs from - well, it stunk.  I managed 15, but that's only because I needed to get back to my car.  Felt okay until about Mile 4.  Had planned on 20 (my max for the day), but realized I needed to adjust down to 18 (my minimum).  At Mile 7.50, I finally said enough's enough and headed back down.  Ended up walking most of the last 3-3.5 miles.  Just nothing there.

This has happened before, and it'll happen again.  I took yesterday off (except for washing/waxing my car and helping Shorty get the house ready to paint), and decided to stay in bed this a.m. instead of doing my core/strength training.  Coach Gary scheduled a cut back week this week, so hitting bottom couldn't have come at a better time!

Weaver Basin 50k is in about 4 weeks, then I'll be in a well-deserved rest mode.

. . . . I am, however, already looking at races for next year . . . .  ;o)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Trail Running Friend

Just finished up  my first week of training with Coach Gary.  I'm pleased as punch with how things went.  Also got to run with a new trail running friend, Chris Bush.  Prior to Mt. Hood, Chris had tracked me down on Facebook when he saw that I'm from Eureka.  We met up at the end of the race and have been trying to get in a run together ever since.  He's running Pine to Palm in a few weeks and has had longer runs on his weekend schedule than me until recently.

Karen was with us for the first 10 miles, then we split off from her as we had a couple of more miles to go before we headed back.  Chris is a bit faster than I am, so at times today seemed like a semi-tempo run, but it felt good to have someone forcing me to push myself.  Hopefully, we can run more together 'cause it's a whole lot more pleasant doing long miles with someone than it is alone.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What's that Bright Orange Globe in the Sky?

Surprisingly, we have sun today!  And it came out in the late morning.  Unbelievable!  Anybody living on the North Coast can tell you we've had the worst summer in a long time.  I've been here 25 years, and I don't remember one being this dreary.  We've barely had sun, and when it does come out, it's usually for only an hour or two.  The plants in my yard doing to the Happy Dance right now.

This morning I ran my longest run since Mt. Hood - 12 miles out at the  McKay Tract.  I felt good, and tried to incorporate some chi hill running that Coach Gary talked to me about last night.  My butt is sore, so I'm not sure I was doing it right, but it felt good.

Saw a bobcat and her baby, too.  I stopped as soon as I saw them.  Mom headed for the bushes, but Baby kept running from side to side, I think looking for Mom.  Once Baby disappeared for more than a minute, I continued on as I'm sure Mom wasn't about the come back out until she was good and sure I was gone.  After that, lots of fresh bear poop that was full of berries, but no bear, thankfully.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Percolating Right Along

I'm very pleased with how I'm feeling these days.  Did 7 miles this a.m. with 6 x 100m strides.  The legs were a tad tired toward the end, but at least part of that is the strength training I did yesterday.

Speaking of strength training, I completely slacked off on this over the last four months.  It's time to pick it up again as the muscle tone I worked so hard to gain in my upper body succumbed to the forces of gravity and, well, it just ain't pretty.  (Let's hear it for old lady arm wings!!)  The goal is to be more aggressive in this regard; not to bulk up, but rather to work on the toning aspect which, if memory serves me correctly, replaces muscle with fat, which is oh so much more attractive!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bush Whacking at It's Most Tiring

Today, Karen, Shorty, and I trudged out to Karen's and my favorite running spot, Trinidad, to do some trail clearing.  Things were so overgrown that we were getting sliced up by the pampas grass and berry vines, and couldn't count on footing enough to run.  We spent about 5 1/2 hours out there with Shorty on the business end of a weed whacker for about 1/2 a mile or so, and Karen and I on the business end of choppers and loppers.  I doubt I'll be able to raise my arms tomorrow or use my hands.

A blurry before pic, but you can see how high the weeds are, and that's not a bad spot.  
A blurry after swath.

A path through the pampas grass chopped by Karen and me.
The work crew.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Introducing . . .

3 Nonjoggers: Carl, Russ, Gary

I am very happy to announce that THE Gary the Vale, the Running Rainman himself, has agreed to be my coach . . . at least for a little while.  Gary has so much knowledge in his head, that even though I'm his first card-carrying client, I have no doubt he will be instrumental in taking me to the next level in my running.

Thanks, Gary, for not being put off by my pitiful out right begging for you to coach me.  I, as your guinea pig, am ready, willing, and able

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mt. Hood 50 - July 28, 2012

Stunning views of Mt. Hood. Beautiful single track along the Pacific Crest Trail. Rock star aid station workers. Annoying lows. Euphoric highs. A friendship cemented in games of gin rummy, dirt, sweat, laughter, and a few tears. What more could a person ask for? I’m ready to go back!

Two years ago I ran my first 50-mile trail run, American River 50. I came in DFL (but got presents for said placement!), and after the legs started working again, I decided it wasn’t so bad after all and signed up to run Leona Divide in 2011. Unfortunately, one month out from the race, I tore a ligament in the top of my left foot and spent the next three months on crutches and the three months after that working my way back up to running again. Add to the same period of time a life turned about as upside down as it gets, and suddenly 50 miles seems like a cakewalk!

Then last November, I was given an offer I couldn’t refuse. My friend, Kate, told me if I signed up for Mt. Hood 50, she’d run it with me. Since Kate’s finished numerous 50-milers and three 100-milers, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Ultra Mobile Extraordinaire!
 Fast forward eight months and a long drive the day before the race from Northern California to north of Portland, Oregon, where I spent the night with my in-laws, and Kate and I are camped in her ultra mobile on the side of the road in the Mt. Hood National Forest, just a few yards from the start line of the race. I had spent the previous week laying out all my running gear and packing and repacking the three drop bags we were allowed. Now all I had to do was sit back and try to relax and not worry about the fact that the next day I was going to be motoring for 50 miles. Sure, I’d done it before, but more than two years before, and that seemed like a long time ago. The benefit this time around was having experienced ultra runner to guide me.

Kate and I ate dinner, walked up to the staging area and talked with the RD briefly, availed ourselves of the porta potties, then ambled back to the camper, played a few games of gin rummy (she kicked my butt), then tried to get some sleep. You always try to sleep the night before a race, but it never happens, at least not for me. Suffice to say, it was right about the time I actually started snoozing pretty good that the alarm clock went off. Up and at ‘em! Eat some breakfast and try to get some movement into the situation, ‘cause I definitely don’t want to have to find a place to do that on the trail.

I don't think anyone is drunk in this picture, if you were going on looks alone, you'd be hard pressed to say otherwise.

The small contingent of us who were taking the early start, thereby giving us an extra hour to complete the course, were soon standing at the starting line listening to last minute instructions from the RD. As the countdown began, there was a last minute shuffle for spots (no one wanted to be in the front), and then we were off. Kate hopped out in front me and was soon a few yards ahead. I wasn’t worried as I knew it wouldn’t take long for her to realize I wasn’t behind her. She stopped, waited for me, and from that point on, we would trade back and forth as to who was running in the front, with Kate letting me make most of the decisions in that regard.

 Mt. Hood 50 consists of two out and back loops along the Pacific Crest Trail and has approximately 5600 feet of elevation gain and loss. The first loop of 28 miles would be, to me, the hardest with regard to dealing with elevation. I live at sea level, and it took awhile for my body to acclimate. Add in a liberal amount of rocks and roots, and it’s a loop ripe for giving the legs a run for their money. We had been on the move for about an hour an half when the first of the regular starters (6:30 a.m.) sped by us like he was out for a breezy afternoon run. Mr. Ian Sharman. Because of the out and backs, we had the privilege of seeing him three times that day, and each time it was like he was going for a walk in the park. He ended up winning by a considerable margin, and even beat his own course record from the previous year by finishing in 6:24 and some change. Yes, folks - that’s 6 hours and 24 minutes to run 50 miles of trails, a feat us mere mortals can only shake our heads and dream about.

Ian Sharman coming back from the first aid station and we, who started an hour earlier, are still working our way there.

This was at the start, but I swear, he looked as fresh as a daisy every time we saw him.

Anyway - back to me.

We hit the Highway 58 aid station, refueled, then turned around and headed back. We could tell we were close to the aid station because of the number of runners coming back toward us. On the return, my stomach decided to start going south on me, and Kate advised to stop eating and let whatever was in there digest. Because of the effort my body was putting out to climb and deal with the elevation, all the blood had left my gut, and the food was just sitting there. Thankfully, within about 15-20 minutes, the nausea subsided. It was also about this time that I started having minor cramping in my left foot which would be bothersome off and on for the rest of the race. Nothing extreme, but it necessitated taking in more salt than I anticipated, and at one point during the day, I had to bum a salt off of dear Kate as I had run out.

 The nausea put me in the dumps for a short while. Heck, I hadn’t even completed the 50k distance and I was already having trouble? What’s this all about? I had to remind myself that this was my first race since my foot injury (since I ended up in the ER after 7 miles of a trail race in April), so I needed to give myself a break. Yes, I had had great training over the past 4+ months, but my body was having to remember what it was suppose to do.

And with that, let me just take a moment to say that I am very thankful I had Kate running with me during this race. She would easily have finished a couple of hours faster had she been on her own, but because she agreed to run with me, I had a very attentive teacher for an entire day. I learned a lot from her, and am certain it will carry over into my training and into other runs. Thank you, Kate, for everything.

Me on the return of the first loop. Had to walk to get around a thru-hiker)

Mizz Kate on the return

Okay - Back to the race.

We got back to the start/finish in a little over 6 hours, re- upped on our supplies, and took off for the second loop . . . and my second low point. I had eaten a PBJ, some banana and Coke at the S/F, and about 10 minutes out my stomach decided it didn’t like the combination and tried to reverse the action. With not much coming up but needing to, I tried the ole finger down the throat thing. It wasn’t a huge success, but between a half up chuck and a bathroom break, I felt better, but was still lagging. At this point, Kate jumped in front of me to give me another lesson, this time in pacing by demonstrating her “I can run at this pace all day” pace. I could feel the benefit, and it’s something I definitely need to work on. Currently, I have GO and take a walk break, then GO, then take a walk break. This doesn’t help your timing, and it’s hard to get into a rhythm.

Start/Finish aid station, but typical of what was provided for us. Lots of goodies to choose from, including Coke, Sprite, and Gu Brew.

Soon we began climbing again up to Red Wolf Aid Station. As we were going up, Kate commented on how good it was going to feel to run down this, especially since it would be toward the end of the race. Likewise, soon after leaving Red Wolf, we began a lengthy decent which took us about 40 minutes. Going downhill was no trouble for me at all. I kept praying I wouldn’t fall and maim something, and each few steps would let out an audible “Okay,” to reassure myself that things were going fine.

We also began crossing paths with the more accomplished runners who were on their way back to the finish line, and each runner would have to give way to a certain extent to allow the other to pass. Sometimes the footing got tricky, but as I’ve learned in the past, if you keep stopping to let the faster runners go by, you’ll never finish! Move over and at least keep walking, but don’t stop unless conditions require it.

At the bottom of the descent, there was a pretty creek flowing and I didn’t even think twice about slamming into that thing to cool down my feet and throw water on my legs. It . . . felt . . . so . . . good!!! We had been using our Coolmax bandanas to stay cool, filling them with ice, but that water felt wonderful on my feet and on my head and face. Perked me right up for the climb up to Warm Springs Aid Station, although the going was slower than I or Kate would have liked.
Elite Ultra Runner Yassine Diboun (L), whose company, Animal Athletics, was one of the race sponsors. He was also a volunteer at the Frog Lake Aid Station (i think. or was it Hwy. 58?)

 At Warm Springs, we had a chance to pull items from our third and last drop bag, and I gave Kate the last of the cookies her sister, Karen, had sent for us. I’m talking BIG cookies here. Like manhole covers. As sugar hadn’t been appealing to me most of the day, I’d only eaten one of my oatmeal raisin cookies, but Kate was enjoying the chocolate chip ones that had been sent for her. As I refilled my bladder with fluids and Ultra, I asked the aid station worker if he could put some ice in the bladder. “It’ll taste like popsicles,” he said. Popsicles! I’d forgotten there were suppose to be popsicles at this aid station! “Can I have one?” “They’re all melted.” “I don’t care. I’ll drink it.” A word of advice - if you’re struggling in your race and need a sugar boost and there just happens to be cold, melted popsicles available - take one! I sucked down the juice of one ‘sicle (and would regret not taking the other one with me), we started walking out of the aid station, and by the time we hit the downhill section out of there, I had one of the best sugar boosts ever.  I took off down the hills, flying as fast as my legs would take me. Knowing Kate was having some trouble with her knee, I knew it would be hard for her to keep up, but I also knew she’d catch me on the merciless climb we had coming in front of us, and I had promised that no matter the circumstances, I wouldn’t wait for her. If I could run, then run. And so I ran! And oh my, did I have fun!

Once back at the creek, I cooled off again, then started the last hard climb of the race.  Kate, of course, caught up to me in no time. Having been battling cotton mouth most of the day, I finally had the brilliant idea to take ice out of my Coolmax bandana and let it melt in my mouth. Once a chunk of ice was gone, dip back in for another. This made a huge difference in how I was feeling and helped buoy me up for the last 11 miles of the run.

The climb back up to Red Wolf Aid Station sucked, plain and simple. I had thought a lot about that climb as I was running down it a short while before. Kate pulled in front of me, and I used her as my rabbit - keep watching her, watch her climbing techniques, remember what she’d told me about climbing, and use all that to get myself up that frigging hill. It seems like it was a slogfest, but in the end, Kate told me it took us 40 minutes to run down the hill and only about 43 minutes to climb back out. Really?? It felt so much longer! At Red Wolf Aid Station, she advised me to take in Coke or Sprite or whatever they had that was sugary as it was obviously helping to put some major oompf in my get-up-and-go. So I sucked down two cups of Sprite, ate a bunch of potato chips, and then we were off for the last 5 miles of the run.

With quite a bit of downhill in front of us, we were able to make great time, and during the moments I had to walk, I was able to find a weird rhythm that helped me walk as fast as Kate could run. To push myself running, I’d count ever 4th step as 1 and would then count to 100 and start all over. I wouldn’t allow myself to walk until I’d reached at least 500. If things were feeling okay, then keep running and keep counting, ‘cause once you stop and walk, you have to start all over again. It’s the mind games we develop within ourselves that help to keep us going. They don’t always make sense to others, but it doesn’t have to. If it makes sense to you at the time and it keeps driving you forward, then you play it. Kate kept giving me positive reinforcement, which helped mentally, as well. I also sort of felt like the horse that could smell the barn, and I pushed things as hard I could. At one point, Kate said something about looking good ‘cause there was someone on the trail ahead of us. I straightened up my back (which was killing me across the shoulders and through the rib cage), we rounded the corner - and nobody. Says she: “I must be hallucinating. I thought I saw someone with a red shirt.” Me: “You did. He’s just up ahead of us.” He was walking, and we passed him like nobody’s business (at least that’s what it felt like). A 24-year old dude chicked by a couple of “older” gals. Heh heh.

The last 5 miles seemed to take forever. Kate also really had to go to the bathroom, but was doing her best to hang in there. Internally, I was begging for her to not stop since, again, she made me promise I’d keep going if she had to, but I didn’t want to cross the finish line without her, not after all the time and miles we’d run together. At one point I heard a car on a road and thought, “We’re almost there!” Unfortunately, that was not the case, as we probably another 1.5 miles to go. We also ran into a group of about six horseback riders and had to pull over to let them pass as the horses, and one in particular, were a bit fidgety about us being there. Shortly thereafter, Kate says, “We’re almost there. There’s the camper!” Woo Hoo!! We had a small climb up to the road, then we were running parallel to the road with folks yelling and cheering us on. I still had thoughts of the young guy behind us, and almost as if on cue, Kate says, “Do you want that guy to pass us?” Me: “NO!” so we cranked it up to a higher gear, crossed the road, and sprinted up the driveway to cross the finish line in style in 12:13:41 - a 40-minute PR for me from two years ago. We hugged the life out of one another, she all smiles, me smiling and crying with relief that it was over and ecstatic at what I’d just accomplished. SuWeet!!

Chicked Dude. There were no finish line pictures of us! Waaaaa!!!

It’s hard to remember every step of every mile. At times, pictures in my memory sort of meld into one, but one thing is certain, even with the lows, I had a great time out there. You know from the onset there’s going to be a certain amount of suck to such a distance. You just have to be prepared to take it on, but also prepared to get rid of it as soon as possible. I’m still learning to do the second, and Kate was a huge help in that regard. I learned so much from her, and I can’t thank her enough for what she did for me. I plan to take the lessons learned and go back again!

Happy Finishers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

After 2 Long Years . . .

I had my first 50-mile week in over two years! Yes, my legs are tired, but all in all, I'm feeling good. I used my dough roller on my legs for a massage. What the heck - I don't use it for anything else! I had the 3NJs keeping me company on my run this morning. They definitely help me get through my Sunday LRs. Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Suppose to be Working, However . . .

This past weekend, Karen and I ran 17 trail miles on Saturday and 8 on Sunday. Beautiful days, both! I felt strong during both runs and even better this morning for my predawn 8 (which is a rarity for my a.m. runs). This week I begin 3 days in a row of long runs - Fri, Sat, Sun - in preparation for the 3-day (70 miles) Western States training camp. No, I'm not running WS, just participating in the training camp. I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm as tough as me thinks I yam. All this to prep for the Mt. Hood 50-miler at the end of July. My butt's already puckerin' at the thought!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grizzly Peak Trail Marathon Or . . .

How to DNF and Cost Yourself a Few Thousand Sheckles in the Process

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been in here. The latest and greatest is that I spectacularly crashed and burned at my “come back” run at the Grizzly Peak Trail Marathon in Berkeley on April 7. What started out as a great trip with my husband, my stomach full of anticipatory butterflies, ended about 6.5 miles/less than two hours into the race with me stumbling, falling, and dislocating the middle finger on my right hand and spending three hours in the emergency room getting it x-rayed and put back into place, and making this the most expensive race I’ve ever run/never finished.

Some may ask, now why didn’t you just pull it back into place yourself? Good question. (A) I’ve never seen a broken bone let alone a dislocated joint, and I had no idea if it was broken, (B) I couldn’t have pulled it back into place myself without passing out or throwing up, and (C) I make a living with my digits (i.e., typing). I can’t afford to screw those puppies up.

After I fell (on the most benign portion of the trail at that point), I looked around for help, but there were no other runners in sight. However, just a few steps around a curve in the road, there were Larry and Joyce, a couple who were just out enjoying the day and doing some power hiking. I had no idea who these people were, but I walked up to them, said, “I need some help,” and stuck my hand out.
(Notice the middle finger? It won't align with the rest of my fingers.)
Larry, bless his heart, took one look at my finger and said, “You need to go to the hospital.” (The finger was bulging on the underside at the middle knuckle, pointing quite elegantly to the right, and bleeding from where a few layers of skin had been torn off the end.) He took off running back to the aid station (they’d just walked through there) and Joyce proceeded to walk with me. Along the way, I found out these folks were in their 70s (Joyce is 72), and in the last couple of years they’d climbed Machu Pichu and Mt. Everest (Mt. Everest? Is that right? One of those HUGE mountains). I couldn’t believe it. I can only hope I’m able to accomplish such feats at that age.

Larry and Joyce, if you’re by chance reading this, you’re wonderful!! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to help me.

We encountered a few people on our journey back to the aid station, and with each one I’d stick my hand out and ask, “Do you know how to put back a dislocated finger?” Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately? - there were no takers. One of the race volunteers, Marissa, picked me up from the aid station and, because I had no idea where Shorty was, took me back to our hotel room so I could get my cell phone, then dropped me off at the ER.

While Marissa was running me all over hither and yon, I told her I didn’t expect Shorty to get back to the start/finish until around 2:00 or so as I had anticipated it would take me about 6.5 hours to finish. As it turns out, when Marissa and I were at the start/finish where I showed Wendell the RD my finger and he told me to go to the hospital (he’s also an EMT), Shorty was there, either in the bathroom or walking back to the start/finish and we missed each other by only moments. Unbeknownst to me, he had planned on taking pics as I came through on the first loop. His cell phone wasn’t getting any coverage there, so none of my calls (15) were getting through to him. It wasn’t until I was out of the ER and called Marissa and told her I hadn’t been able to get in touch with him that she started yelling for him. So there he sat, right at the start/finish, for over four hours, waiting for me and worrying that something had gone wrong. Well, yeah, it had gone spectacularly wrong, but not the kind of wrong he thought.

The folks at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center ER were wonderful. From the doctor down to the security guard at the front door, the people were great. My experience was such a positive one, I wrote a letter to the department head. Besides having to be there in the first place, the worst part of the visit was when Dr. Khan stuck needles in my finger to deaden it before he pulled it back into place. YEE-OW! CHA CHA CHA!! But it was dead in an instant and voila! My finger was straight - - well, somewhat straight. He also super glued the flap of skin that was hanging off the tip of my finger back into place. Nice!

After a week, the swelling is starting to go down and the bruising is starting to subside. It still hurts like the dickens if I bump it or something, but I have a finger brace on the top side holding it in place and also allowing me to still type.

Grizzly Peak was my third marathon. The first was Bizz Johnson which sucked because (a) I was unprepared for how cold it was for more than half the race and (b) I had really bad hip flexor issues that caused my left hip to seize up about 4 miles from the finish, causing me to do a lot of painful walking. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty.

The second was the Big Sur Trail Marathon which sucked because (a) the heat was horrendous that day. By 11:00 a.m., it was well into the 80s and only got worse, and there was very little shade on the course, and (b) by the time I got to the finish (and there were people behind me), the only water available was a small bottle one of the EMTs had, and they were able to come up with about half a sandwich baggy of ice to put on the back of my neck to help cool me down. I wasn’t the only person overheated and hurting as it sort of looked like a triage unit with about 5 or 6 bodies lying about in various stages of heat exhaustion (I will never run this race again).

And now my third - Grizzly Peak - which did not end well. I’m beginning to think marathons are not my thing and I should just stick with ultras.

Oh, and on top of all this, I chipped a tooth on an almond from the 2nd aid station and will more than likely have to have it crowned. sigh

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eating and Drinking

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

So let's get to the crux of this post. I get tired of eating and drinking in order to sustain the mileage and workouts I'm doing. Sounds weird, I know, but I truly get tired of it. Drinking more means more trips to the bathroom, including getting up in the middle of the night to pee. And since I already don't sleep very well, getting up to pee is a problem.

Eating - It's not that I don't get hungry; I just get tired of trying to figure out what to eat, when to eat, what kind of stash I should keep at work so I can eat little bits throughout the day, etc. I'm also one of those people who has a wholly unrealistic (translates to "I'm an idiot") idea of what her body looks like, so I'm always "afraid" of gaining weight. Besides, extra pounds means more to lug around on the trails.

Anyway, this is becoming has become an issue I need to get a handle on now rather than later, as I know I am sabotaging myself by my lack of eating and drinking as needed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This picture epitomizes my life the last 10 months. My husband and I fell into such a deep, dark hole, that at times there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. But we fought our way back, separately and together, the light continued to grow with each passing day.

Shorty has been back home for almost four weeks now. The changes in him are phenomenal. He smiles, he jokes, he has energy, he's content, he's happy - something I didn't think would ever be possible. He's happy. It may seem a small thing, but when you've been with someone for almost 27 years and, during that entire time he has never been truly happy, it's . . . it's indescribable.

I was reading an article of an interview with Sharon Stone in AARP Magazine today while waiting for my counseling appointment to begin. She said, "I thank God every day for what he has given me, and I thank Him for what he has taken away." This struck me at my very core. Shorty and I have lost a lot, but we have gained so much more! I have my husband and my friend back, we have a rejuvenated life together, we have each other.

I am so very proud of my husband and how far he has come. God has truly, truly blessed us.

Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Endurance Intervals - An Evil Necessity

This was my second week of Intense Endurance Intervals = E-V-I-L. Warm up for 1 mile, run hard for 1.5 miles, jog back to the start, run hard for 1.5 miles, jog back to the start and finish up the mileage for the day. Let me tell ya, they suck. I did better this week than last week, as I had more control over my speed; that is, I ran slower this time 'round. This week and last week, it was 5 miles with two intervals. Next week we up the ante to 7 miles and three intervals.

I don't like speed work, but Coach has assured me the payoff of doing these will be well worth the effort. He better be telling me truth . . . I know where he lives . . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cats, Weather, Running

The other day I was thinking it's a little sad Goofy and Wilson don't snuggle with one another like they did when they were young. They will sleep near each other once in awhile, but no longer hang out on the same tier of the cat post like in this picture or curl up with one another on the couch.

Another stunning day here on the ole North Coast. It's nice not dealing with the rain (especially when running), but we need it or we'll have drought conditions this year. Hopefully, we don't get torrents of rain when it decides to come.

Another wonderful weekend of running. I do love to run out at Headwaters. Fourteen peaceful miles, including about six half mile loops at the top. It's beautiful up there in the middle of the old growth redwoods. Saw a couple of people on my way out, but came across the majority of the folks during the last three miles heading back.

The eight miles at the McKay Tract on Sunday were less than ideal. My legs had multiple personalities - sometimes heavy, sometimes just okay, sometimes great, back to heavy. I got the miles done, though, and that's the main thing. I just have to remind myself once in awhile that I'm coming back from a 6-month layoff, which, actually, I think did me a world of good. I'm feeling strong and healthy. But never fear! The days of feeling like total crap will be upon me soon! It's an inevitability when training for ultras. You accept the crap 'cause it makes the good days feel even better. :o)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Knees and Toes . . . .

Saw the ortho yesterday. Conclusion re the knees - stop doing squats and lunges. "They'll ruin your knees, kid. Or at the very least make your uterus fall out." I'm kidding. He didn't say that, but he did say I needed to stop doing squats and lunges.

So I'm on the hunt for exercises that will still develop strength in my upper legs without the added knee stress.

He squashed around on my foot, and although it was achy later in the day, it didn't bother me too much. He figures my foot is about as strong as it's gonna get, but said "possibly" when I asked if the ligament tear made it more susceptible to injury (he's a man of few words), so that's something to look forward to.

And as far as the little toe is concerned, ya just gotta get through the pain (which I already knew). And as bad as it hurts, I'm convinced I broke the little sucker. Ah well! Whatcha gonna do, amputate?