Saturday, July 31, 2010

Working it on the Trail!

This morning as I rolled over to see what time it was I was surprised that I was almost pain free in my back. It was 5am, but I wasn't ready to get up yet. I relaxed here for a bit and then decided to get ready and meet trailmomma for our morning run. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to run this morning. I have been battling some serious lower back issues which had me walking around pretty funny. I could hardly pick up Lil Man.

As I got ready Toby was by my side the entire time, hoping to be able to come along. I haven't been able to run with him this week because it has been too hot , and with my recent back situation I was afraid I wouldn't be able to hold onto the leash. So sadly he had to stay behind.

Toby's new spot!

Off I went hoping I would be able to complete our scheduled 12 mile run. It has been 2 weeks now since TRT 50k and my next event is in September the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run, I signed up for the double. Ohh Boy! 52.4 miles and this would be my third ultra.

As I pulled up trailmomma was relaxing in the back of her car half a sleep, as she is battling the no sleep because of the two year old phase. I hobbled out of my car and was in some real pain now. I gathered my things and hobbled over to her hoping she wouldn't notice my limp and stiff body. Today I wasn't running with my Garmin, I had forgotten to charge it. Off we went, only we both were walking. Or I should say I was limping along praying that everything would loosen up.

We hit the fire road and off we went, OK so it didn't exactly happen like that. We started running on the fire road and quickly came upon our first climb and we had to walk it. Usually we can run at least half of it if not all of it. So both of us were not feeling too great. But we carried on, not wanting to turn around.

Way to work the sock pose

The fire road was pretty uneventful, but trailmomma did comment that was I running pretty stiff. As we started on the single track toward the horse staging area I cut my finger on the stickers and was bleeding. Not long after that we came across Bambi's dad. Literally 5ft away. It startled me so much that I screamed and also forgot to get a picture before the deer ran away. After those two encounters I told trailmomma "this is going to be a interesting and exciting run." Sure enough it was.

I lead most of the time and we were both really quite as it took to much energy to talk. When all of a sudden I am screaming and jumping about and sprinting. Trailmomma has no clue what was going on. It was a huge line of ants. I am not a fan of ants every sense I was little kid. We haven't even run 4 miles and I had cut my finger, ran into a deer, had to jump over a log and now ants. Pretty comical I might add luckily there were no other runners around that I could see to see it.

Log jumping. Not good enough do it again!

That is better

As we came upon our photo spot, I was really feeling the run. I took in a salt to see if that would help me. We also took a few minutes to capture some great poses. Instead of JC Penny Catalog poses -they haven't called us yet- trailmomma had the idea to call it Trail Runner's Pose or something close to that. Check out her blog see the rest of the photos. trailmomma

Nice Smile!

There is trailmomma, trying to take a self portrait

Work It

This point was mile 5, and we both checked in with each other. I was feeling stronger now, she was feeling good to continue on with one more mile till our turn around. Off we went. I was in the lead and I really challenged and pushed myself on the rolling terrain. I was running or from trailmomma's perspective I was sprinting the hills and charging the descents. I really wanted to push my body, so my body could remember what it felt like to run out of my comfort zone. It worked, my legs were getting stronger each climb and it mentally gave me a boost. As we approached the turn around point I kept asking her "now? are we there yet?" Trailmomma just laughed and said "not yet." I pushed harder when all of a sudden I heard her say "not to fast we are almost there." Yes we had reached the turn around.

The way back in trailmomma took the lead, I was a little spent from sprinting the hills. She looked strong even though she wasn' t feeling to great. I surprised her once, I had fallen behind and next thing she new I was on her heels. I had her pull me for a bit and then I retook the lead. I did have to take in a GU and also another s-cap.

As we cruising back we came upon the horse staging area and we were both focused on just getting back. I heard a reselling in the bushes up ahead and as I approached I saw a herd of turkeys. I quickly turned around and told trailmomma "umm you don't want to go that way."

At least 20 of them! Caution Turkey Crossing!

As I am saying this she looks over my shoulder and sees all the turkeys crossing the trail and starts hyperventilating.

 "Breath, just breath." I told her "stay put I will clear the trail." As I am approaching them they scurry across and next thing I new the momma turkey puffs out her wings and starts coming my way. I look back and trailmomma is frozen because I think she saw them. I told her "I told you to stay put." We quickly ran past them and I was laughing pretty hard. Thank goodness she wasn't in the lead.

As we reached the fire road we had about 2 miles to go. We were talking about training and I had mentioned that I needed to start incorporating some temp and possibly hill repeats into my work outs. The fire road for me is very runnable if I let it and it can also defeat me if I let it. But today I didn't. I was pushing hard up the hills. I had pushed myself pretty hard today, I had told myself before we started running I wanted to run some if not all the hills I normally walk. I think I did that. That was a great feeling.

Overall I ran pretty strong, pushed myself on this 12 mile run and my back for the time being is feeling pretty good. Hey, who knows maybe this run helped loosen me up a bit. I guess only time will tell.

Back on the home front, Lil Man and Toby had a photo shoot yesterday. Lil Man is getting so big and Toby is just so lovable. 

He is flying like a super hero.

I think they do a double pose better then the adults.

I am looking forward to just relaxing the rest of the day. I am sure I will be out running again tomorrow. I don't let things slow me down. This week I will be working on a tempo run or a hills. I don't know which one yet, maybe I can get trailmomma to join me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Call it in!

"Call it in" is all I said to my peer after one of my team members passed out. What seemed like a normal and relaxing Friday was quickly turning into a ohh crap situation.

Things started out great, I didn't get a call from work last night, which meant I was able to get a full nights sleep. The first nights sleep all week. As I arrived it was very calm and things were organized and under control. I thought, "wow, this is great." After I got my 4am team going my peer and I were walking the floor following up on some audits we had to complete when my cell phone range. Which for me now, is not out of the ordinary as my phone rings all the time with contractors needing to get a hold of me. It was the overnight superintendent from construction and he informed me that I had a team member in the bathroom up front who cut himself with a box cutter. My peer and I detoured and headed up to the bathroom. Both of us were thinking, just a cut as we have both cut ourselves with box cutters.

When we arrived at the men's bathroom we find the injured t.m sitting on floor. Then we see all the blood in the sink and we see his blood soaked jeans. We asked him "How are you feeling?" He replied "I feel fine." My peer and I say to him "stay put we are going to get some first aid supplies." "O.K." he replied. He was with another t.m.

We gathered up some gauze, sterile gloves, ointment and headed back to the bathroom. When we arrived he was still sitting. I asked him "Would you like to try standing and wash the blood off your hands?" By this point the bleeding had stopped just like a normal cut would do. He said "Sure." As he was standing up I put on the sterile gloves and assisted him with rinsing off the blood. The cut wasn't bleeding at all. As I was applying the gauze pad he said " I think I need to sit down." As he was about to sit down he started to slide down the wall he was leaning on and his eyes rolled back in his head. The other t.m caught him before his head hit the ground. At this point I immediately tell my peer to call it in. This is serious. The injured t.m. came too within seconds and said "not again." Wait! What? This happened once before?

As my peer is on the phone with the nurse I tell her this is the second time he has passed out. We didn't know about the first time. The nurse tells us to call 911 due to the fact it was the second time he passed out. As my peer is calling 911, I am applying direct pressure on the cut and keeping his hand elevated in case it started to bleed again and the other t.m. is supporting his head. We are both talking to the injured t.m and keeping him alert by asking him questions, "How old are you? How are you feeling? What day is today?" His response to the last question "that is tricky because my night started on Thursday so it has to be Friday. Right?" We all laughed because that statement is so true for those of us who work nights.

As we are waiting for the cavalry to arrive we were able to keep the t.m alert and talking and we all remained calm. I knew I didn't want to panic in this situation because I didn't want my t.m. to panic. The fire department arrived and the paramedics came. The men's restroom was quickly getting full. The fire department had me continue to hold pressure on the cut and keep it elevated and told me I was doing exactly what I needed to do.

Eventually the t.m. was able to stand and walk out of the bathroom, but after standing for a bit he had to sit down again because he almost passed out again. The injured t.m. didn't want to go to the hospital by ambulance, his vitals were fine, his blood pressure was good.The fire department cleared him to have someone else drive him. But, they wanted to make sure he got in the car o.k. before they left. My peer drove him to the hospital as I had the store keys and she was from another store and here helping me out. Technically I couldn't leave the store.

The injured t.m. ended up getting 2 stitches. This situation ended with only 2 stitches. Thank goodness for the quick thinking of the other t.m. who stayed with him in the bathroom. I don't want to imagine how different this situation could have turned out if he was alone in the bathroom when he passed out. Everyone involved in the situation responded as they needed to and everyone remained calm and followed direction when it was given.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time Flies

I can't believe how quickly both of my nephews are growing up. It seemed just like yesterday that they couldn't crawl and now they both are putting complete sentences together. Take Lil Man for instance.

On Sunday Brent asked Lil man what he wanted for dinner.
-Lil Man replied "eggs!"
-I then tried to explain to Lil man "I don't think we have enough eggs for everyone."
-Lil Man goes on to say "in the refrigerator."
-I said, "There isn't enough for mommy, daddy, you and meme." I can't believe I am trying to rationalize with a two and half year old.
-He then replied "in the chicken cope."
- I chuckled at this and asked him "did you bring some eggs in? I still don't think we have enough."
-He of course was very animated during this entire conversation and proceed to tell me "I picked the eggs with my picking fingers."

I thought it was a great little conversation, he followed along and tried to reason with me. I finally got him to want to spaghetti instead of eggs. I bribed him with sausage. He did enjoy the dinner I made.

This is also the second official week of my remodel at work. As of right now I am about a day and half ahead of schedule which is great because I can never be to sure what the next day will bring. But so far so good. It is exciting and also very stressful. I have never lead a remodel process before but luckily I have some help from another ETL who has completed 2 previous remodels. So far so good. It is pretty cool to see the changes and to know that I had a part in those changes.

With it being week 2 out of 13 I am trying not to let if effect my running routines. So like usual on Tuesday evening I headed out to meet up with trailmomma and we did our usual 6 miles. It is always so much fun running with her, we both get a chance to talk and catch each other up, we get a good quality run in and we also have impromptu photo shoots, bathroom stops, attack of the birds, turkeys on the wrong side of trail, bunnies out to get me. You name it it happens on our runs. I always walk away from our Tuesday runs laughing and remembering how much fun it is to run.

This past Tuesday was no different. I almost didn't make it because I fell asleep and woke up with 20 min to get there. Talk about rushing around, I was driving and I still had sleep lines on my face, and my eyes were watering up for some unknown reason. But I made it with plenty of time to spare. Trailmomma pulls up and off we go. This would be the second run for me without my Garmin. I had decided to run without it and just try to let things go and not worry about time and pace. It is also some great advice I had heard from a good friend.

My body felt much better, maybe that was due to it not being as hot as it usually is. Or maybe because I got a nap in before the run so my body was rested. I defiantly needed that nap, I worked overnight Sunday night and got home around 8:00am Monday morning and had to be back at work at 4:00 am Tuesday day. Talk about quick turn around.

As we were approaching our turn around spot trailmomma needed to stop, so I gladly took her camera and while she was busy I took some photos. She always said she like my self portraits. So that is what I did. Check out her blog to see all the photos we took. trailmomma

After we re-grouped and headed back she informed me that she had a photo session planned for our aid station stop. Really an aid station!!! WOW what luck. The aid station was the water fountain and bathroom we always stop at. She got really creative and we had some interesting poses. Her directory of photography is quite extraordinary. She had me doing poses I never thought I would. It was great but short lived because we had to get back. I haven't laughed that hard in awhile. It was great. It is our groups new thing -JC Penny Catalog Pose- Got to love it. I can't wait for Saturday, I am going to be studying the catalogs so I can really shock everyone.

Today I am feeling really excited to be running. Coach Nikon gave me some great advice and I am going to incorporate some solid quality running into me weekly runs. Today I decided I would try it. I ran 6 miles with 1.5 miles being at tempo. Talk about tough. But I managed to hold a 8:30 pace for the mile and half. I am sure as I continue to incorporate quality runs I will be able to sustain the pace for longer. I am also going to be adding some hill repeats. It worked well for AR50 and it will be good to change things up and keep my workouts fresh. Maybe the next time though I decide to have a hard workout I wont do it at 3:30 in the afternoon. Like I said, I was really excited to try a new workout.

So far this week has been very productive, exciting, stressful, sleepless and exhausting. I am actually looking forward to Saturday and sleeping in a bit. I am meeting trailmomma for a early morning run at 6:30am but compared to be waking up at 2:45am and 1:50am that is sleeping in for me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Internal Struggle

I have been struggling internally for a few weeks now and it has reflected in my training runs. The Tahoe 50k I ran last Saturday was a struggle for the first 11 miles but then I let everything go and just ran. I stopped thinking about what was going on outside of my running. I only focused on my body and it was the most unbelievable feeling for me. Yes, I had issues all day but I didn't let those issues stop me. I persevered and overcame adversity to complete it.

The big question for me is; How did I get to that point?

I haven't been able to get there again and I find it frustrating when I am out on the trails and I can't overcome and just be. How can I switch my brain off? Running was or use to be an outlet for me. It was/is a way for me to de-stress but recently I am finding it difficult to lace up my shoes and even get running, probably because I fear I wont be able to complete the run, or I wont be able to keep up, or you name I am thinking it.

Why am I putting so much pressure on myself to run and perform?

 I am only doing it for fun and that is what I need to do again. Run for fun. Easy to write, but hard to execute. I struggled on Tuesdays run this past week, but I am chalking that up to the incident I had a few hours before the run which caused my big toe and foot to swell. Saturday's run I felt pretty good heading out but struggled all the way back in. Doubts were flying through my head, but even though I struggled I still had a smile on face. Yes, it was a fake smile but I was still smiling none the less.

Then today Sunday I can't sleep so on the spur of the moment I go for a run. I didn't meet anyone, had no clue on the distance and I also left my Garmin at home. That was the smartest thing I have done in awhile. No pressure about pace, no pressure about time, no pressure about distance. I ran a pace that my body felt good and comfortable. I ran a distance that wasn't to far nor to short. I enjoyed this run tremendously.

It was exhilarating and my confidence grew. I ran 4 strong miles on the way out and on the way back in I ran even stronger. I was passing other runners and I didn't feel like I was working hard. I think I found my groove. It has taken awhile and I only hope to keep this momentum into my upcoming training runs. I just have to remind myself that running is enjoyable and I don't need to put so much pressure on myself to perform. It will happen and if it doesn't that is OK because some days will be good and some days will be harder. I just need to keep that focus on fun and being able to let everything go that is bothering me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

30 to 80 in one week

After I finished my run this morning and Garmin and Trailmomma were waiting on me to get in, trailmomma made a casually remarked "You went from 30 to 80 in a week!" What that means is in one week I went from looking like a 30 yr old runner to a 80 yr old runner. I found that comment kind of funny because in looking back at my runs this week, she is absolutely right. Let me back up a bit.

Trailmomma wasn't expecting me to be up and running by Tuesday, but I surprised her with a little e-mail saying I was ready to do 6. Legs were feeling good and I wanted to get back out there. This was before I woke up that morning and I couldn't move my neck. If I needed to look at something to my right I had to move my entire torso. Then while I am at work I run my big toe over with a pallet jack at full speed and my toe is swollen and I am betting I will lose my toe nail. What luck! I can run 33 miles on Saturday and feel great a couple of days later only to run my toe over. But I wasn't going to let that stop me, I forced my now swollen foot into my running shoe and off I went to meet trailmomma.
I ended up doing 6 on Tuesday but it was completely painful. I couldn't turn my neck, I was hobbling along because any sort of pressure on my foot sent excoriating pain through my body. I had to walk some of the 6, but I did it. Yeah me!!!! Maybe I should have taken that Tuesday off because looking back on my time it wasn't very pretty.
I wake up Wednesday morning and I am having this strange sensation penetrating through my right side. I can't grip anything with my right hand, my hand is tingling, I still can't move my neck, and now I can't even raise my right arm above my head, and the right side of my jaw was killing me. I could hardly open my mouth without pain. Great Now What!!!!
This lasted most of the day and went into Thursday. I looked pretty ridiculous walking into work cradling my right arm near my body. I was even having a hard time opening doors. At my house the doors have those child locks on the door grips. Will, I couldn't open the door and had to have my sister open it for me because I couldn't grip anything. How embarrassing.
By Friday I was feeling a little better, I mean my toe was still throbbing and I had been draining it for a few days now, I still couldn't move my neck, but I could raise my arm, and the pain in my jaw wasn't so severe. So I decided I would try and run on Saturday.
I was the last one to arrive at our meet up spot. Trailmomma asked "Is your body numb?" I just laughed because it was going to be if it wasn't already. Garmin took the lead followed by trailmomma and than myself. I wasn't too sure how far I would be going and if I would be able to keep up. The first few miles my legs felt great. I was able to keep up. We passed a few runners and than played hop scotch. At our favorite look out point we had a instant photo shoot. We even got the other runners to pose for us. Check out Trailmomma, she will be posting the pictures.

Look at them go!
At this point we all checked in to see how we were feeling. I was feeling surprising good and so were Garmin and Trailmomma. We decided to go a few more miles. We were only at mile 5 so we were possibly looking at 14 miles today. As we continued running I was running slower and slower and would only catch glimpses of them. We did have  a great time with our "bird" calls. A bird even answered. We would "bird" call to each other, or I should say they would "bird" call to me and I would respond. This way we would know where we were on trail. Just in case. By mile 6 I took in a GU and I also took a s-cap. My legs were getting real sluggish and for some reason I was getting stiff.
Finally I made it to the turn around. Here we had another JC Penny photo shoot.

By this point I my right shoulder was screaming at me, my toes hurt and it felt like my feet had swollen, my legs were feeling sluggish but I still had a smile on my face. It wasn't all that bad just a few minor adjustments and all would be good. As we ran back in I couldn't keep up with those 2. They were like lightening and I felt like......

a snail!

I couldn't get my legs to turn over. But I was still having fun, my only concern was I hope that trailmomma and Garmin weren't waiting for me. My spirits were up, I knew I had pushed it a bit today but I really wanted to be outside running.

This Way! Just for you Trailmomma

When I came upon the road crossing guess who was waiting for me. Yup, Garmin and trailmomma. What good friends, waiting to make sure I was alright. Thanks
I never did see them on the road leading to Cavitt. By the time I got back to the car they had already changed their shoes. I was still smiling as I walked up though. I was carrying my pack and hobbling a little bit. It was great to be outside and in the dirt, but maybe next time I wont push myself because I am sure today I will pay for it.
Thanks for the run with good friends and the JC Penny photo shoot. Who knows, maybe one day you will see us in the catalog.

Trailmomma was right, I was running like a 80 yr old, but I am OK with that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tahoe Rim Trail 50k

It’s 4am and the race begins in 2 hrs. I am feeling good, very energized, focused and positive. I eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, a banana, and I drank some water. I was as ready as I ever could be. Coach Nikon and I joked around a bit; we gave each other our space to get focused and rode over to the event in the shuttles provided.

Happy Chuck

W arrived about 5:30 and quickly gathered our packet and bib number as we didn’t do it the day before. There was a study being conducted but I declined the weigh in and blood pressure before the race because I had to use the bathroom pretty bad and I didn’t want to be in the john when the race started. Looking back I probably should have done the study as I am sure I would have been a good candidate and it would have been interesting to see the results.

After the emergency bathroom stop I was just standing around the start and taking in all the energy and excitement. There were a lot of faces I knew which was even more exciting.

As the race drew near the race director informed the runners that there was a 600lb black bear out there and we might run into him. What, really? You have to be kidding was all I kept thinking and also remember to follow the ribbons, red for 50k. This trail could be confusing because it did loops and I knew I didn’t want to run the wrong loop. Coach Nikon gave me a quick hug and wished me luck and then the race started. We started next to each other, but even before I rounded the corner he was gone. Good Luck Coach Nikon!

JC Penny here we come

Crowd of runners at the start

I was super excited to be running, but I also knew I had to run a smart race due to the terrain and altitude. The weather wasn’t too cold, but as I climbed it was getting cold. The first mile or so was on a fire road which was great because I could run my race without the stress of fighting for position on the single track. But soon enough I hit the single track and the conga line that comes with it. This time around I was prepared for it and made myself comfortable and didn’t care that other runners were passing me. It was beautiful. As I climbed I really couldn’t run, my legs felt like lead, they were dead and I was concerned as this was just the start of the race. My other concern was my hands, they were swollen. My hands were swollen so bad that it was a real struggle just to take pictures; I couldn’t get my fingers to work. Even so, I kept running and that would be mantra for the day, just keep running. I never did think I was going to drop but things were not looking pretty. I was still climbing and even when there was a downhill section I could hardly run that. My brain would tell my legs to run and all I could muster up was a shuffle at best and that was a struggle.

Switch back after switch back

Switch back below/behind me. See the runners?

As I climb a familiar voice came from behind. It was Trish and her friend Monica. Trish just ran Western States 100 a few weeks ago and I found it inspiring to be running with her.

Trish and Monica

We talked a bit and I cracked jokes. My spirits really soared when I was with those 2. As I crested the climb and began the descent I was gone. My legs were back, I could run again. That was a great feeling being able to have control of my legs again. I flew down that section and soon enough came upon Marlett Lake. It was a brief high because immediately following the downhill was another climb and this is how the entire race was going to play out.

Marlette lake

Climbing up

But soon after the climb I came upon Hobart Aid Station. My Garmin told me it was mile 7. My hands were still swollen and again it felt like my legs were lead. I was at 8,120ft. I knew I needed fuel, and as I looked at the table nothing looked or sounded good. My mouth was extremely dry so I grabbed a small cube of water melon, then I tried some pb&j only to eat 2 very small bites and have to spit it out. I couldn’t stomach anything. I did get a coke in me. I was out of that aid station pretty quickly because I didn’t want to lose Trish or Monica who were already off and running on the way to Marlette peak.

Follow the signs

We climbed and had the gorgeous view of the lake. Of course Trish and Monica were already at the top enjoying the view when I came huffing and puffing. Trish looked at me and “It’s about time you got here.” We both laughed.

I made it!

Off and running again!

It is 8 miles into this race and I can’t stomach food, I desperately needed something. I pulled out my Gu. Vanilla flavor and downed it and quickly followed it with water. Only to have it come straight back up. It happened so quickly, it was pretty much acid. That is how much it burned. This happened at mile 9. Now my stomach was in real trouble. I can’t keep solid foods down and now I don’t know if I can even keep Gu down. All I could do was keep running. That is what I did. I ran/hiked the next 2 miles. I couldn’t keep up with Monica she is a rock star. I did run with Trish and she paced me down the decline and I kept up with her. I had no desire to pass her as I was not feeling too hot. My stomach was still very upset, my hands were getting bigger by the minute and my legs would come and go as they pleased. I had no control over anything and only time would tell if all systems would shut down or get better.

Things kept getting worse for me. I started having doubts and worrying about what I was going to do about my fuel situation. And then Trish had to use the bathroom and I was on my own. I could see an aid station in the distance and that was my focus. Make it to the aid station. I can do it, one foot in front of the other. Just keep running. As I approached the aid station there was a huge cheer and tons of yelling. I thought “Wow, they are excited. Wonder who that was for.” And as I got closer I saw trailmomma, Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman. Boy, was I the most excited runner ever.

Fleet Feet Crew of 3!

I enthusiastically hugged them each and they walked me the rest of the way in. Trailmomma kept asking me what I needed; only I couldn’t think straight. I was fumbling with my hydration pack and couldn’t seem to get it open. Luckily trailmomma took it from me and told me to get some food. As she filled my pack I told Captain Kirk my stomach wasn’t doing too well, I already threw up and couldn’t keep solid foods down. I was in trouble. Captain Kirk was awesome, he calmly told me to take a salt. He helped get an s-cap out of my pack once trailmomma came back; I was again having difficulty probably due to the swelling. I did manage to try some cantaloupe because my mouth so dry. This would be the last solid food I eat during the race and I was only at mile 11.
Coming into Hobart, I don't see them yet

Captain Kirk helping me with my salt
Last piece of food for the day

After I re-grouped and some great words of motivation from my fleet feet crew of 3 I was off. But before I could leave, I hesitantly asked them if they would be here when I returned from the Red House loop of Hell which was 6 miles. They said “yes, we will be here. “ Off I went.

The next 3 miles is a steep decline and it is here that I run into Coach Nikon as he is finishing the loop and tells me it will be hot on the way out. He looked strong and as usual was all smiles.

Coach Nikon

Going down Red House
Down I went, feeling really strong. My legs were back again which was uplifting and my stomach seemed to be settling. The s-cap was helping. At the bottom it levels out and then there is another climb. I took in a Gu and it stayed down, that is a good sign and ran then would walk then run to a point and walk. I did this the entire climb. I was getting stronger by the step.

One of the climbs to Red House Aid Station

 I was even passing other runners who were walking. That is uplifting for me and really raises my spirits. I climb until I saw the Red House aid station. I didn’t stay here for long; I took in a coke, mountain dew, and a water cup. That is it and I was on my way to face yet another climb.

Red house Aid

Climb out.
I was mentally feeling fresh and really energized. The climbing didn’t bother me one bit by now, I used it as a challenge. It did level off and this section was very runable. I continued passing other runners who looked like they were struggling, but I was in my own and enjoying this high.

Still Climbing

 I took in another Gu trying to catch up from not being able to eat earlier and I also took in another s-cap. My new schedule was an s-cap every 45min to an hour. I knew the hardest climb of this loop was coming, the 2 mile climb out that I came down earlier. It was steep. I would best describe it as k2 steep. I hiked a good portion of this climb but I was holding a really steady pace.

It just keeps going!

Then out of nowhere I started running. I was near the Aid station again. I could see my fleet feet crew of 3.

I ran this hill.
Trailmomma ran down to meet me and we ran into the aid station together.

Trailmomma helping me out!

Right away she grabbed my pack and filled it up, I told Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman I was feeling better I could keep GU down. Yeah!!! They were excited to see me and told me I was a completely different runner coming back than when I left. That was huge for me.

Return after Red house

 Wonder Woman grabbed me a coke and as I was drinking it my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I thought it was weird but I wasn’t too concerned I had other things to be concerned about, like finishing this run. They were thinking uhh ohh, maybe low blood sugar and I needed solid food. Only they knew not to tell me until I finished. I could hardly drink my soda without it splashing on my face that is how violently they were shaking. My body felt strong, I was mentally together unlike when I first came through and I was energized.

Trailmomma suggested I go stand in the shade. Yes, good idea I obediently followed her direction
and I stood there and assessed my GU situation. I only had 4 left and at the aid stations GU was not provided and I knew I couldn’t experiment with something new. I voiced my concern and Wonder Woman offered me hers. She gave me her Gus and blocks. Thank you so much, what a life saver and I mean it literally. As I was standing in the shade I was feeling really hot, I hadn’t been there too long and I saw a bucket of water and dunked my hat in it and said quietly "I think I am overheating." Captain Kirk grabs the water bottle and immediately squirts me down. That felt really good. I was just about ready only thing I needed was my hydration pack that trailmomma had filled. She helped me get it on and as we were doing so I started to fall over and stumbled about. All I hear is them say, “ohhh.” I could see captain Kirk reaching for me. I managed to stay on my feet. I said, “I think my legs are dead.” As I said that I turned around and off I went, only to turn around again and ask “Is this the right way?” It was they said. Thank you to my fleet feet crew you rock!

It is amazing how in an ultra one mile you feel hell and the next you are as high as a kite. I experienced all of the sensations and then some. After I left Tunnel Aid station I was cruising along, more like flying. My legs were back; my stomach was holding down Gus, I had a plan for salt replacement. I was good to go and I also was alone. It was mile 19 by now and I needed a Gu. The trick I found out that worked for me in keeping my Gu down was to take a little Gu followed very quickly by water to wash it down. I would repeat this process until the entire pack was ingested. This Gu didn’t go according to plan. I squeezed too hard and emptied the pack and it was just sitting in my mouth. It was warm and did not taste good and it was making my stomach turn. I was trying desperately to drink some water but it was too late. I threw up so fast I didn’t have time to turn my head and do it off the trail. There was nothing I could have done, I felt it coming and couldn’t stop it. I lost a valuable Gu and was quickly saddened that I had wasted something so precious. All I could do was push dirt over it and keep moving.

I was moving at an incredibly pace. I was a much stronger runner on this second half than I was first 11 miles. I was passing runners and the great news was there were no other runners passing me. This is great. I can do this all day. I would see a runner and focus on them. I wouldn’t push any harder but I would catch them. For the most part though I was completely alone. I didn’t mind I actually enjoyed the solitude and I think this made me focus on myself physically and also internally. I stayed with my new game plan, taking in an s-cap every 45min. It seemed to be working and I took in a Gu every now and then. I only had 5 to get me back plus the block. I thought that it should be plenty. I didn’t really think about it much after that.

I enjoyed the return trip more, probably because I was feeling better. I was climbing faster, I was runner fluidly, I was mentally focused and my hands were still swollen. I was cruising along when quit suddenly the Hobart aid station was approaching. I could see it, all I had to do was descend down and I would be there. I was feeling incredibly strong; I wasn’t having any issues with my legs and breezed into this aid station. The only reason I stopped was because I knew I needed water because I wouldn’t make it to snow valley. As I was approaching the aid station a volunteer came running out to meet me and I handed off my pack and said “water please.” She quickly sprinted it in and I followed. Another volunteer asked if I needed anything, and I replied “just coke.” She pointed me in the right direction and I gulped it down in one swig. My pack was ready and as I exited the aid I was putting on my pack and at full speed. I did notice that there were a ton of runners sitting down. I was in and out of that aid station in probably less than a minute. It was pretty fast.

My swollen fingers

The next section was going to take me up to snow valley. I hadn’t run this section today and I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew I was close. I was running strong and smart now. I was fueling with Gu and I was drinking plenty of water. I was 24 miles into this 50k and it had taken me 6hrs and 3 min thus far. This was a brutal but a gorgeous course.

Avery's Pond, nope Snowvalley Peak

The climb to snow valley for me was one of the toughest climbs for me all day. It was brutally hot as it was noon.

Just keep Climbing

 I had already thrown up twice, almost fell over while standing and was having major stomach issues for a majority of the day. This climb also gave me some of the best views I would ever see. As I climb I had to take in a few Gus. I was running pretty low energy and this climb seemed to never end.

Still Climbing
Almost There!!!!

 It had switch backs after switch backs and then I finally emerged into the hot sun which beat down on me, but I was still climbing. I could see the peak in the distance. I can do this. I kept telling myself that, and than I emerged at the top……

Nope still climbing, see the trail in the distance. One Up Please!

Only it wasn’t the top it was a false top and I had to keep climbing. I ran through a meadow, yes there was meadow on the top of this mountain. That was the last thing I thought I would see. I could see the trail off in the distance.

Signs say .5 to go

It never ends...


 I was still climbing. But finally after I thought I couldn’t climb anymore I came to the top hoping to be at an aid station. But it was further away in the distance.

I ran down to the aid station and as I approached the volunteers said “welcome, Melisa.” “Melisa, what can we get you?” I was confused. How do they know my name? I was a bit panicked. Then I realized they had a list the runners. It was weird; I thought I was losing it. I am sure I looked panicked and head light stricken. At this aid I only refilled my pack. It was mile 26 by my Garmin. What a rush only 5 miles to go.

Only the sign I read as I exited said 7.2 miles to the finish. What!? That would mean I will be running 33 miles.

33 miles, really? 33 miles, that is all I kept thinking. How could that be? I kept running, what else was I going to do. I of course had to climb some more but it was short climb. The next 5 miles were pretty much downhill. I still had my legs under me, my quads were feeling extremely great which surprised me. I tackled this downhill like I had done all day. Maybe even a bit faster. I was curious as to how my pace was and what time it was because I needed know if I needed to take a s-cap, if I needed a Gu. Only when I looked at my Garmin it had died. Noooo!!!! I had no clue what mile I was at, my time, my pace. All vital information I had been relying on all day. It died with only 6hrs and 30min on it. Crap! What was I going to do now? I felt like I needed an s-cap so I did, and I also was beginning to feel a bit sluggish. Maybe a Gu will be helpful. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my LAST GU.

This is it....

It was my last one, and I contemplated whether or not I should take it. I didn’t know my mileage but I knew my body was telling me it needed fuel. I took my last Gu at I am guessing mile 28. I still had 5 miles to go to the finish. I began to have some serious doubts at this point. As I am taking in the Gu I am also a little nervous that it won’t stay down. I take it real slowly and tentatively because I needed this Gu to stay down. It took a bit of work but I managed to keep it down. Thank God!

I am able to run the downhill section pretty solid. It keeps going for what I feel like an eternity. I am still going down, when all of a sudden I began to feel real sluggish. My legs aren’t moving as quickly as they did before. I am beginning to lose my focus. I have no clue how much further. I began to see runners in the woods, there are runners behind me, and there are even runners in front of me. Only there weren’t I was all alone. I was hallucinating. I was losing it and I am so close to the finish. Not a single runner passed me from mile 11 and I wasn’t going to let it happen here at mile who knows what mile it is?

I was having to walk, I was barely functioning I was mentally not there. My body was on auto pilot my legs were moving because they had been moving so long and didn’t know to stop moving. I walked; I would run when I could. I eventually paced off of 2 runners in front of me. When they ran I ran, when they walked I walked. But soon enough I passed them also. I started hearing things, I could hear cars on the road side driving by, wait no…. I wasn’t hearing things there really were cars. I couldn’t remember if there was another aid station. I thought the distance from the final aid station to the finish was 3 miles and I knew I couldn’t do 3 more miles with what was going on with my body. I almost started to cry at this point. The events of the day and being this drained had taken a toll on me and I was ready to break. And then there it was. The final aid station. The volunteers asked if I needed anything. The words out of my mouth were “how far to the finish?” The volunteered replied 1.7 miles. My next phrase makes no sense to me, “No, I am good.” As I turn left the volunteer calmly says “this way.” Pointing to the right. Really I am good, I didn’t or couldn’t have used that coke, I probably should have a coke or 2 but I was so close I was scared that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get moving again. 1.7 miles I can do this. I am so close.

I immediately picked up my pace; it felt like I was sprinting. I was drained and this was my final push. It was all or I was going to fail this close to the finish. I passed 2 more runners, then I started walking and a spectator on the course said “you are so close.” I replied “ok” and started running again. I kept running. I saw Monica; she had finished and looked refreshed and relaxed. She told me “I ran a great race.” I asked her “how far to the finish?” she told me less than half a mile.

Almost there....
I can do it, no I can’t. I started walking. I had nothing left to give. Than a remarkable thing happened. I started running again. I was going to finish this race strong. I could hear spectators cheering I could see the finish line. I even saw a person in a yellow shirt jumping and waving franticly. What great a spectator, but it wasn’t just any spectator it was trailmomma. Then I saw Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk popped out and I hi fived him. I had finished my first Tahoe Rim Trail.

At the finish

I crossed the finish, my legs had carried my through this course and my heart and will power got me to the end. I was spent; I didn’t comprehend anything anyone was saying. There were questions about did I complete the test at the beginning, “No.” I walked a little bit maybe 2 feet. Trailmomma was by my side so fast that I didn’t even see her cross over the rope; a volunteer stopped me in my tracks and wasn’t going to let me leave. I didn’t know what he was saying, something about did I want a beer, was I ok, and should I sit down. All I could do was look at trailmomma and she said “No, I think we will keep walking.” I grabbed a soda and walked with trailmomma. She was so happy for me and a bit concerned. I looked terrible. I had tears in my eyes and I hadn’t said a word to her, I was wobbly on my feet, I was ready to pass out. She immediately placed the cold soda on my neck to cool me off, kept me walking and upright. I was ready to fall over. I bent over and lend on my knees and almost fell over. I was having trouble focusing, than the first coherent sentence out of my mouth was “I ran out of GU, I can’t believe I ran out of Gu.” One would think it would have been ‘’I can’t believe I ran this race.” Nope it was about Gu of all things.

What a great experience. I still can’t believe I ran out of Gu. I had done the proper training for this race but it goes to show that no matter what things can go wrong. But no matter how tough it got out there for me I never gave up, my heart kept me pushing forward and I willed myself across the finish line. I finished in 8hrs and 21min.I also passed 25 runners from mile 11 to mile 33 the finish. This is one race I soon won’t be forgetting. I still can’t believe I ran out of Gu! What a race.