Sunday, March 27, 2011

21.5 Wind Vortex

Yesterday, Saturday was the last long run before American River 50 mile race on April 9. We the Fleet Feet ultra training group were given many options to choose from, it all just depended on how our individual bodies were feeling.

For me, I knew that I wanted a strong mental run. A run that will boost my confidence going into AR50. What I didn't want was a run that would destroy me physically and worse yet mentally. I opted to do the 22 mile option instead of the 30. The weather forecast for yesterday was not looking good and since it had rained so much this week the trails were going to be extremely muddy and technical.

My plan for this run was to do a faster then usual 22 miler. To work on getting my little legs moving instead of just plugging along. But I also didn't want to go out to fast so it was difficult to find that happy medium, but eventually I did.

I was running with Power Girl as Miss P. was gone from the start. She is in marathon mode as she is gearing back up for Boston. So there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with her, she was a speed demon out there.

The course today kept us all on the bike path to help simulate AR50 as the first 26 miles are on the bike path. Not my favorite, but I knew it needed to be done. So all I could do was embrace it with a smile and just keep moving. The first few miles or so Power Girl and I were clocking a 9:30 pace or so give or take depending upon any hills and such. I was feeling really good, I was in good spirits and I was very talkative which for me is very unusual. The weather was a bit chilly with a bit of a breeze but luckily so far the rain was holding off. By about mile 5ish I took in my first GU. By mile 8 I took in some Tylenol and a salt tab and Power Girl had surged ahead and I was no longer able to keep up.

The wind by now was blowing pretty hard off of the lake and I was exposed with no where to hide. All I could do was put my head down and keep on running. I started to get the dead leg feeling and that threw me for a bit and I started having a mini mental battle in my head. But just as I was cursing myself I started climbing a hill and then my legs started to feel better. Maybe the salt had kicked in or maybe the Tylenol had kicked in what ever it was I was happy again. It was also about this point that I ran into a friend and that immediately put a smile on my face.

Beals hill was approaching and I could just see the front group that consisted of Power Girl, Hawaii Mark and Hollywood. I was maybe 20 yards behind, I was so close. They were now my carrots and that is all I focused on, just keep running, just keep running head down and power up this hill. Then I saw Wonder Woman and Captain Kirk. They turned with the front group, ohh how I so wanted to be running with them at this point. Then I had a idea. I grabbed my whistle and blew it as loud as I could. Could they have possible have heard it?????? Nope, the wind was to strong, no one looked back. Crap! Maybe if I try blowing my whistle in the tunnel it will echo. So I tried, they had to have heard that. Nope they didn't. All hope was just about lost. I was crushed. Why this was going through my head I have no idea, I guess I just wanted to be running with someone.

Then just when I thought all was lost Wonder Woman turned around. Yeah!!!! When she saw me, she said I thought you weren't too far behind, how are you doing? I am doing good. Just a little lie. I was struggling mentally for some reason. Maybe I had put to high of an expectation on today's run maybe I just wasn't into it. But for some reason it was hard for me to be out there alone. I ran with Wonder Woman and we chit chatted. The miles just clicked away. We ran into Chuck and Trish and they warned us that the levee was really windy. Really? How windy could it be?????

Not long after we made it to our aid station, Terry had set up a nice little ultra spread. We continued on, only 2 more miles to go before the turn around. Only this would be the toughest 2 miles. Chuck and Trish were right the wind was a nightmare up on the levee. I was having to run sideways and my effort to get myself forward was exhausting. The wind was blowing so hard that I could barely keep a straight line, it was pushing me. Wonder Woman looked over at me and said, "How about you move over before the next huge gust blows you off the levee." I had drifted to the edge and was tittering on it. Like I said the wind was a huge challenge.

Finally after fighting the wind blowing around so much we decided to run on the lower road. It seemed to help shield us a bit more but it was still windy down there. Soon enough we came to Cavitt road and had just a bit to go. We saw Power Girl and I decided that I could turn around. I had had enough. Plus I thought we could all 3 help each other to get through the wind storm, wind tunnel, wind vortex.

We choice to stay on the lower road but the wind was strong. Then we were on the upper levee and the wind was blowing so hard it made it hard to breath. This sucks, the wind was burning my face, I couldn't breath and it was blowing so hard in every direction that it made it impossible to tuck in. Good thing we were almost off the levee and back at the aid station. From there it was maybe 4 miles to the finish. At the aid station I had a bit of coke and some payday. Ohh how good that tasted. Then we were off. Only it was Power Girl and myself. Thanks for running with me Wonder Woman. You don't know how much I appreciated it.

With 4 miles to go Coach Nikon joined us girls and since the wind was still pretty strong I tucked in behind Coach Nikon and Power Girl tucked in behind me. Coach Nikon was not only the wind breaker but he was also pulling us. Thanks Coach. We made it to the pedestrian bridge and the home stretch was near. The parking garage and safety from the wind. Yeah!!! 21.5 miles in a wind vortex was complete. Thank goodness.

This run was very mental for me. I finished it though. I had a friend tell me once that sometimes it is the challenging runs that make us stronger. This was a challenging run for me mentally and I am stronger because I kept pushing myself and I kept myself moving forward.

American River 50 mile race is 2 weeks away. I have 2 target goals for this race. The first, to qualify again for States. The second to run it in around 9hours and 30minutes. I would knocking off an hour from last year run. I know that my training is there, the miles and time have been put in. It is going to be about running a very smart race and one that is within my capabilities.


  1. You are so capable of a 9:30 at AR-50! Lets just hope the bad weather (especially that vortex wind) is over with & a picture perfect day is in store for the FF gang.

  2. You can TOTALLY run AR in 9.5 hours. Easily. Now that you know what to expect and more importantly, how to deal with the unexpected it'll be no problem. :-)

    Crazy winds out there! Jeez!!!!

  3. I agree with Miss P and Trailmomma. You'll make your goal time. Espeically if you wrote it down on the paper last night and look at it 20 times as day as Julie suggests!