Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cal Loop to Drivers Flat

I love this run, this is my third time running it and today was just gorgeous for a trail run with some awesome friends. The day started early with me picking me up Power Girl and the two of us heading up to Foresthill to do the car pool shuffle with Captain Kirk, Wonder Woman, and Jumping Bean and the manager of the Fleet Feet store downtown.

All Smiles!

Once the car pool shuffle was complete we started our 18 mile adventure on the Western States Trail. (One day the entire trail) Joining us also was Chuck, Trish and Jack and his dog Abby. What a group of solid ultra runners. I was honored to have the chance to run with them today.

Power Girl working it on the trail

Jumping Bean who just ran Boston and PR

The Cal Loop as it is called takes us to the Ruck A Chucky river crossing. And you would think that this is all down hill, but it is not. There are a few challenging climbs in there just to keep me on my toes, but the descents are bone jarring and steep, but FUN!!!!

Captain Kirk AKA Junior and Wonder Woman the Happy Couple

As we started down I settled in just in front of Power Girl but behind Wonder Woman, Jumping Bean and Captain Kirk. It was a fast run down one that could thrash any one's quads if one is not careful. Let me just say that my Garmin which was fully charged died within 4 minutes of this run. So I was running free, running what my body told me and not looking at my watch to see what mileage we were at. I really dislike that Garmin.

Anyways, we were going down, down, down and then up, up, up. A monstrous descent followed by a huge climb. Soon after I don't know how many miles I let Power Girl pass, I needed a moment. More from frustration because my legs were feeling dead and not doing what I needed them to do which was run. During this alone time I focused on fuel, I took in some GU and a S-cap and then I was off.

The trail was beautiful today, it was fast and tacky the foliage was a bright green and at times I could even hear the river. Once I focused on where I was things started to click for me. It was almost like I needed to take a moment and really enjoy what I was doing instead of looking at it like work. This isn't work, running on these trails is fun to me and I needed to open my eyes and calm my racing mind so that I could really take in this run. To be one with the trail. Once I was one with the trail and appreciating it I really began to settle into a nice rhythm on the trail and I could also smell the pine trees and hear the rustling of leaves as I ran over them.

Look a water bottle, a fuel belt and Jumping Bean is eating!!! OMG

As I was focusing and having my moment the group was nice enough to wait for me before a big climb. I hiked and ran what I could and just focused on moving forward. I knew after this climb we would have a nice long descent about 1.5 miles or so and it was going to be steep with a ton of loose rocks and a very technicall section of trail.

 On this descent Power Girl was behind me. I had to take it a little easier on the descent because  my right knee was screaming at me. It was like someone had taken a ice pick and was stabbing me with each solid step I took and each push off. I gently made my way down the trail and caught up with the group at a nice opening before we continued on a much more runnable descent towards the river.

Still having fun, I can till by the smile on our faces

Two killer climbers and Captain Kirk I mean Coach Nikon Junior

This next descent has a ton of switchbacks and as the front runner -Captain Kirk- made his way down I could hear him just below me and I am sure he could hear my thunderous foot steps above him. There was nothing light about my feet today. It was switch back after switch back and it didn't take very long for us to spread out. As I neared the base the next part of the trail was 6 min. hill-Training Hill-.

Time to climb training hill

I think I heard laughter the entire time

We powered up 6 min hill like we owned it. Or that is what I recall as I was Garmin less and didn't have any clue on time. It did feel like that this third time for me was a lot easier then my previous times on this climb. Just keep moving forward, hiking with a purpose and soon enough it opens up and we hit the single track again. of course the climbing wasn't over but it was more gradual. I knew that we were getting closer to the river but first we had to make our way back down.

Down we go, but not before a photo opp.

Thanks for the photo Opp. Not use to being in photos :)

Very Pretty

Soon the river is a just a few feet away, I can hear it. It is right there. But there is still a few more climbs we have to tackle before Ruck A Chucky. Up I go, the front group is animals and runs off in the distance. I do what I can and eventually make my way to the top. Then back down and the tall grass that is up to my waist. It is getting closer with each step. I can feel the excitement building up inside and then I see it. The fire road and the camp ground. Just a bit more my knee was still screaming at me with every step I took.

As we hit the fire road we could smell campers BBQ'ing, it smelled really good. The campers I am sure were pretty excited when they saw 3 ladies run by as Captain Kirk was running with me. The fire road is long and involved a lot of power hiking because there were still some nice hills to climb. Soon though the climbing was going to get tough as the last 2.5 miles could best be compared to the Dam Hill from AR50. It is steep and when it looks flat it is not. I eventually caught up to the front group/because they waited for me. Once we were near the finish we hit the single track again.

I have never been on this single track so I was doing my best to keep but I fell behind and when I emerged in the clearing the rest of the group was on the far left while I was on the far right. Crap!!! Did I miss a side trail. I yelled to Power Girl, but she didn't hear so I blew my whistle and she turns and waves. I yell "How did you get over there?" From the top of the road I hear Captain Kirk yell "Follow the trail" umm OK, but it is not making sense. I follow the trail and maybe 5 feet ahead it bends to the left. I was a bit embarrassed. I am literally 100 yards from my car and I can't figure it out. Maybe I was running on fumes I don't know, but it was pretty funny thinking that I just came 18 miles with no problem. What I thought the trail SHOULD have done was continue on and not make a switch back. Just saying!!!!

The most dangerous part of the run was here. The highway crossing. It is dangerous because those cars are speeding at 65 mph and my legs are pretty toast so it is a interesting shuffle across the highway, but we all made it safely and with smiles on our face.

I had a great time, see still smiling

Trish and Chuck! Good Luck Next Weekend

Power Girl and Jumping Bean

What a awesome run today. I ran it in 3:51. The last time I ran this section of trail back in August I ran a 4:18. Nice!!!!!

A beautiful day on the trails with a great group of ultra runners.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A run with Traildog!

Yesterday I decided I would change things up on my morning run. I took Traildog with me. Now it has been awhile since he has run with me, but he was so excited running around the house once I was able to get his harness on him. He was a little perplexed when we went to the car, usually we just run around the neighborhood but again I changed things up and headed to the multi use trail on the American River.

The plan was to complete 7 miles. The day before I had charged my Garmin and as soon as I went to set it up it went beeeeeeppppppp and was dead. Really?!?!!??? I am beginning to dislike this Garmin. It is more frustrating than anything. It didn't last on my race last year at TRT, it barely mad it at CIM and now it will not hold a charge and it takes a lot of finagling to get it to charge. I don't know what to do with it, I almost threw it that is how frustrated I am with it. Never ever get the Garmin 405. I do not recommend it, it does not have a 8 hour battery life like it states. Enough about that. Back to the run.

Traildog was super excited when we arrived at the start point that he possibly went out to hard on this run because as we neared the first mile marker he was really dragging and had fallen in behind me and was just following my legs. I did stop and walked a bit so he could recover and then we would start back up again. We saw an abundance of wildlife out today. Plenty of deer, I could actually feel their power when they bonded off into the trees. We saw a ton of Turkey's on the trail, off to the side of the trail we even heard their gobble gobble as we approached. Off course Traildog was too tired to care so I was on my own.

I think the best part of this run even though we had to walk some was watching Traildog play in the river. He would tip toe in and then as he became more comfortable would just jump in and run up and down the bank. He played in the river at the turn around and then again before the mile climb back to the car.
One tired Traildog


Even though my run started off frustrating because of Garmin it was great to see Traildog enjoy himself so much. He was so tired that once we arrived home he was ready for a nap, but like true Traildog form was ready to play a few hours later.

"Can we play?"

"Look what I have!"

Traildog getting some air.

We even spent some time playing Lil man. He is growing up so fast. It amazes me how his "gears" are spinning constantly.

Riding around the block. I have to run to keep up with him it use to be I could walk and then have to wait for him. Not anymore.

He was heading over to grandma's house and packed his bag. He brought jelly beans for when he was hungry, his marbles, and Woody the pez dispenser. Interesting assortment of goodies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Change and more Change

Things have been crazy this past month. It has gotten even crazier since AR50 which was a few weeks ago. Hopefully things will return back to normal and all well be right. Let me just start with the fact that work is busy. There have been some major changes that have taken place in the past month and my schedule has/is a little "special" as I like to call it.

First off my overnight process moved to an early morning process. But of course before I can make that happen I have to get a head count on my current team member situation on who will be able to make the transition and who wont. I am/have lost 20 seasoned team members because of this transition. Now most stores when this has happened has maybe lost only 5-10 team members and that is a much easier situation to overcome. But 20!!!! I knew I was going to lose team members and I knew the number was going to be high I don't think anyone else believed me when I said it.

I have been interviewing potential team members for two weeks straight 5 days a week about 4 hours a day. It is mentally draining let me tell you. I have been drained. But I did select a good amount of "newbies" that seem to have a lot of potential. The "newbies" were on boarded last week and they began learning the process.

This week was the first official week that we transitioned to the early morning process. For a few weeks we will be starting our unloads at 2am which means I have to be at work at 1:30am. That is really early, but the good news is I get off around 11:30am. On Monday the first official day I arrive and find that my trailer has not arrived. I call the DC and find out that even though I sent numerous e-mails and the DC confirmed my early morning transition, the DC in fact still had me as overnight. I had to send most of my team home that day.

Tuesday came and I knew my trailer was going to be there. The team did fantastic following direction and executing this new early morning process like I have never seen before. We completed the workload within 4.5 hours and I was able to get the back room clean and send my back room team home at 6:45am. That was pretty sweet. I was running around all morning with my leadership team. It was like a runners high with a immediate crash once everything was completed.

I am looking forward to this new process now that the first official truck unload has happened. I know there is still opportunities that I will need to fix in order to ensure a more efficient process when we do start at 3am instead of 2am. It has been a stressful month, more so probably because of all the unknowns that come with this transition.

I know I for one am struggling with my sleep schedule and then also my work schedule. I will be working every other weekend with one constant day off during the week which happens to be Thursday. This will make me readjust my training runs, to what I am not sure but I am sure I will figure it once things settle down. For right now though I am just enjoying any run I can get in with some great company on the trails.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just 14

Yesterday I headed up to the Overlook with Wonder Woman and Power Girl. We were running to Cool and back. This would be my first long run since AR50 two weeks ago. In fact this would only be my second run since that race. I ran 6 miles last Sunday and this week I put in 55+ hours on my feet at work so my legs were feeling a bit fatigued not to mention the lack of sleep which has left me mentally fatigued.

Toby decided since I was leaving he would sleep with Lil Man

I had plans that I was going to run the entire way. I knew that this run would involve a lot of climbing and descents with very little flats. A very challenging run especially since I was still recovering. Of course I should mention that I had suggested this run to everyone....What a great idea!

We started out with some thoughts of showers coming down on us but luckily it waited until we finished to sprinkle. We went down, down, down, with Wonder Woman in the lead and Power Girl close behind and me taking up the caboose. The descents I found myself taking them a bit slow. I needed to find my trail legs again. Usually I am tearing up this descent, not yesterday. I found myself a little uncomfortable. The trail was nice and tacky with only a few major mud crossings. It was also a bit muggy the farther down the canyon we went.

As we hit the first mile and made the sharp left turn to start the climb, I casually asked Power Girl and Wonder Woman "hey, did you guys see the runner in front of us?" Now remember I was in the rear. They both looked at me and said "What runner?" obviously there wasn't a runner. But I was certain there was a runner wearing a white shirt just ahead of us. Wonder Woman looks at my says "Do you need a GU?" I must have been seeing things and I was sounding like a crazy person. I took some GU and thought to myself, Wow it is only a mile in this 14 mile run and I am already feeling depleted.

We pushed on and made it to No Hands bridge and the next few miles was all about climbing. We started our ascent and Power Girl and Wonder Woman were really strong, while I was struggling. My legs were feeling this run. The two of them waited for me at the base of K2. When I finally came upon them Wonder Woman asked "We are going up K2 right?" "No way" was my response. We laughed and here I took in a salt tab to see if this would help. Just as I took the s-cap Wonder Woman with her eagle eyes expresses some concern "Did you just take Tylenol" "No, it was salt, I am a little dehydrated and thought it would help." It was pretty funny because she had seen my little blue/red pills and immediately thought Tylenol, what is hurting and should I turn around. I reassured her that if I needed to turn around I would do it here because I know that we have a lot of climbing coming up.

Two strong climbers

We began climbing again and I did my best to keep but found myself needing to power hike. We passed a couple of runners as they were coming down and then I passed a lone hiker. He had a wild look in his eyes and seemed very out of place on the trail. As he passed me and continued down I turned around to make sure he didn't turn back around. He kept going and was soon out of my sight. Only a few yards ahead both Wonder Woman and Power Girl were waiting for me, as they both had the same gut feeling I did about this guy. The interesting things that happen on a run.

We finally made or way to the meadow but it took some effort on my part and patience on the two power climbers. They patiently waited for me when the distance became to great. What great friends.

As we neared the Cool fire station I was really happy and found a little extra step in my stride. At the fire station I felt cratered and immediately inhaled a Honey Stinger waffle and a entire pack of GU chomps and some more GU in the hopes that it would bring my legs back.

At the Cool Fire Station

We had made our turn around in 1.5 hours which is really good considering that both Power Girl and myself and just run 50 miles two weeks ago. We hung out at the fire station for 10 minutes then made our way back to the overlook.

There was an adventure race going on!

I was actually looking forward to the return because it was a nice long decent to No Hands. Only when I started the decent my knee was screaming at me with every step and push off I took. It felt like someone was jabbing an ice pick in  my knee. It eventually calmed down, but I found myself taking my time on our way back to No Hands.

Once at No Hands I took in the rest of my GU, and Power Girl and I joked that we didn't pack enough fuel. I mean it was just 14 miles. I had forgotten how much climbing is involved in those just 14 miles.

Almost back

By now we had maybe 3 miles to go. I lit up with pure excitement and told them I had a surprise in the back of my car for everyone. They both got really excited and next thing I know we are running again. Everyone wanted to get back and enjoy the surprise. I could only imagine what they thought the surprise was. Power Girl and Wonder Woman took off and I couldn't keep up. I did my best running when I could and power hiking on the steeper sections. I just kept moving forward enjoying the trails and freedom it brought.

Back at the car I brought out the surprise a nice cold frosty beer. What more could one want after a run like that. That beer tasted so good and is just what I needed after just 14 miles.

It took 3hrs and 17 minutes for me to complete this run. I think the first time Coach Nikon and I ran it, it took 3 hours and 20 minutes. I was a bit faster today, but it certainly did not feel like it.

Flowers were blooming

I did find peace on this run and it opened my eyes to the beauty of the trails again. The flowers were blooming, it was nice and green. I could hear the rustling of the leaves, the birds chirping, a wood pecker pecking and the sound of my feet as I made my way down the trail. I was relaxed and with out a care in the world. This is what trail running is all about. Finding that peaceful place where it completely calms me and brings me closer to my surroundings and myself. It was just what was needed after the long stressful week at work I had.

Monday, April 11, 2011

AR50 Race Report

In a blink of an eye my calm state morphed into nervousness. Anthony looked at me and asked "Are you nervous?" Guess I couldn't hid it, I was. It was a big day. I had goals I wanted to achieve and it was my first 50 miler of the season. But just as quickly as the nerves came on they were gone and I was calm. By now I was slowly making my way to starting line with Michaela who by the way was running her first 50 mile race. I had about 9 min before it was go time, I took in a GU and focused myself. I re centered and was in the zone.

The start for me was all about finding my comfortable pace and not getting caught up in the what everyone else was doing. I knew that I couldn't go out to hard or I would bonk and pay for it later on. I didn't work to hard bobbing and weaving I just went with it. When I saw a opening I took it and settled back in. I was feeling great, nothing was hurting I was focused and excited for this day.

I knew the first aid station was around mile 4 and I also knew it would only have water, so I told Michaela that I wasn't stopping, I was just going to keep on moving. I had worn my Salomon pack and I also had my flask filled with GU. I was running a very comfortable pace in between 9:15 and 9:30 min per mile. This part of the course is flat with very few hills, but I knew that by the time I reached Sunrise there would some hills. I started fueling around mile 5, I took in some GU. I knew that I needed to eat solid foods early on in the day because typically later on in a race solid food doesn't work. I planned on grabbing 2 PB&J at the aid stations.

As I approached William Pond I was still feeling good, I had a little tightness in my right hip but I just thought that was due to the flatness of the terrain, it would shake out eventually. At William Pond Anthony was there, I gave him my arm warmers and hit the aid station where Kirk, Jenny, and Paula were working. I grabbed my PB&J and was gone. It was probably a 6 second stop to get what I needed. I started running and eating. The sandwich tasted really good. That is a good sign.

The next aid station wasn't until Sunrise. After leaving William Pond as I ran over the "bridge with bad memories," I plugged my IPOD in and enjoyed the music. I was aware of my pace, I was still within my range I knew I could do in order to make it to Beals on time. I did notice that my right hip was getting tighter and tighter with each step. I decided to increase my speed a bit too see if that would help relax my hip. That didn't work, so the next thing I did was on the down hills to just let myself open up and not fight it. That felt good but didn't help my hip.

As I approached Sunrise I saw Anthony and made my way to him. He jokingly asked if he needed to get the elbow ready and I replied "Yes!" I think he was a bit shocked, but just like last years AR50 he dug his elbow into my butt. It was tight and painful. Lily came over and worked on it as I used Anthony to hold myself up. She worked on my back and that was really tight and it was also painful. Just as Lily was working on me Michaela came up and offered some icee hot. Lily put it on for me and we were both off. Having Lily and Anthony work on my pain helped because it felt a lot better and I wasn't in so much pain.

Fun Fact for you....I had the same issue last year at the same spot.....

The Sunrise Aid station was just around the corner. I had my pack ready to get refilled with water, I was making sure I was drinking plenty. I also grabbed my PB&J (2) and was off. Michaela and I were getting through the aid stations pretty quickly. It helped that we both knew what we wanted and needed so we weren't standing there staring at all the options.

The next aid was the fish hatchery about 3 miles. I was still on target with my goal time but I also wasn't worrying about it. I knew that it would work out in the end. In fact I hardly looked at my watch. I ran by feel. I ran what my body felt like, but I knew I wasn't pushing too hard. It was like my internal clock was firing on all cylinders for me today.

It was nice to have a few hills as my legs were feeling the flats and my piriformis was not liking the flats either. We easily sailed up the hills and made our way to fish hatchery. The bike path had a few cyclist out and one cyclist recognized me and called my name. I smiled and waved because it made me feel good. Just like the other aid stations I grabbed PB&J (2) and we were off and running. Just as I was about to go under the bridge I heard my name again. Only this time I didn't know where it was coming from. Michaela was funny and just said "wave" I did just that. It ended up being my pacer who I was picking up at Beals.

As we ran the bridge I gave Michaela my game plan on how I had planned to tackle the bluff. I was going to power hike. But don't get too close because you see that black speck up there, that is the photographer. She seemed good with the plan and we ran the bridge and once we hit the single track we started our first official hiking break of the race. It had been about 18 miles and this was the first time we were hiking. We only walked through the aid stations and the other time we were running. We were also 15 minutes ahead of schedule, but I knew that that the single track would slow us down a bit so we would be OK and still be on point with our goal.

We power hiked the bluff gave each other plenty of space for the photo opportunity and once on top started running and reconnected with the bike path for a bit before joining up with the fire road and more single track. I was fueling, I was hydrating and I was also taking salt. It was going to be warmer, the sun was shinning down on us. We hit the single track and the conga line. It didn't bother me as the pace was steady and consistent. There was no walking which was good because this section is runnable. We power hiked the hill to the top of the bluff and this is where I saw Tony. I asked how he was doing and just like me he was looking forward to the single track. He looked good and strong and running within himself.

On top of the bluff I was slowly passing other runners. Michaela took the lead. My right hip and back were screaming at me and I knew I had a blister on foot and my right ankle didn't feel right. But this is ultra running, just keep running because soon enough something else will hurt and I will forget the pain I am in now. I kept Michaela in my sights but I didn't push it. I decided to focus on my fueling in hopes that it would rejuvenate my legs. They were feeling a bit sluggish. With some GU in me I was feeling better and stronger. I reconnected with the bike path and made my way into Negro Bar.

Just before reaching the aid station I knew what I needed PB&J (2) and that was it. I had plenty of water to get me to Beals. On approach to Negro Bar Shannon yelled my name and that brought a huge smile on my face. I grabbed my sandwich and was gone. Only 4 miles before I see my crew and get to change my shoes and possibly some help with my hip and back. I was still focused and in control. I was running within my means and enjoying every minute of it.

Michaela caught up to me and again we talked strategy on how to approach the long hill leading into Beals. I told her my plan....we power hike some and run what we can. Power hike and run is just what we did. I gave myself small goals to reach before I hiked, and then Michaela said "You can make it farther" and we did. We have been helping each other all day and it was great to have someone challenge me on this long hill. We ran a lot of this hill, but the times we were hiking I was fueling. I told Michaela to fuel also and she said her stomach couldn't do it. I told her she needed to eat we had a long ways to go still and I believe she did eat some chomps.

We hit the 26 mile marker around 4:23 and had only a short ways to go. One final hill to tackle. I was running and filled with excitement as we rounded the corner and came under the arch in 4:33 right on time. We were both looking for our crew. We saw Dustin her husband and he said something to me, but I didn't understand because next thing I knew Anthony was running too me. He was directing me down further and asked what I needed I yelled "shoes". I had stopped at some random chair thinking it was mine, it wasn't.

Once at the correct location it was chaos. everyone was there helping both of us. I gave my flask to Pam who was in charge of refilling, Anthony helped get my shoes off, we changed my socks, he popped my blister, I was putting my sock on then my shoe, my flask was put back in my pack, then Pam said here is your waffle. I will tell you that was the best thing I ate all day. All the while Anthony was trying to get my blister taking care of and protected. It amazed me that the tape of choice was Duct Tape!!! It worked, it never came off during the second half. OK so my blister is taken care of, flask refilled, questions answered, eaten a waffle, socks changed, shoes changed, timing chip on, now it is time to get moving. Pacer ready!

Only my right foot and ankle blew up. It was swollen and felt very tight in my shoe. It was hurting, which meant I forgot all about my other pain. I stand and I have a ton of pain. It feels like I sprained it somehow. I am hobbling it hurts so bad. I hobble a bit, but the pain is bad, I had just taken a Tylenol at 4:15 so that should be kicking in soon. It was painful but I hobbled over to the aid station grabbed my PB&J and continued to hobble run. Anthony caught up to me and I could tell he was worried because he knew I hadn't hit my full stride. He asked how it was all I could say was "it hurts". He told me not to worry about the pain it will go away. I hobbled up to the levee and ran as best I could. What else was I going to do???? I wasn't going to stop I don't know how.

Michaela was running with us and she was looking strong. We hit the single track together and then the fire road on our way to Granite bay. Once on the fire road my ankle started feeling better, but that is because my quad was causing me some pain. That pain was probably due to my piriformis and back pain which trickled down to my quad and eventually to my knee. But the Tylenol was working!!!!

We power hiked the tough hill on the fire road and once on the single track started to cruise right along. We came into Granite bay in no time. At granite bay I saw Dan's parents who were out supporting the runners today. I was so surprised to see them I gave Dan Senior a hug and waved at his wife. I was so happy to see them. It really lifted my spirits.

At the aid station I tried to rub down my quad and I must have looked like I was in some distress because Chuck's brother who was out helping was there. He called out to me to see if I needed anything or help.He taped me up at the SNER back in September. I was stubborn and just said my quad hurts. This aid station is where I ate my last solid food. I small square of PB&J and it was also here that I started drinking coke (2). I was holding out as long as I could on the coke, but I needed it. I knew what kind of terrain was up head. From here on out it would be GU and coke! It was so great to see some familiar faces and to hear my name when I came into this aid station. It was so unexpected but really put a smile on my face.

We left Granite bay and were on our way to Buzzard Cove which is about 3.5 miles out. Of course this is where the course gets technical and things slow down a bit. I came into twin rocks and had to hike the section with nice step ups. Michaela was feeling really good and just took off. She was gone in a blink of an eye. My pacer told me that I am just as strong as her, and that sparked a gear in me. I tried harder and ran more of that section then I thought I could. We did hit the conga line and the hiking which was fine because I used this as an opportunity to fuel. It had been awhile and I was beginning to run low on energy. My pacer kept me on point with fuel and salt and encouraged me along the way.

I saw a familiar face in this section. I had caught up to Mark. I ran with Mark for a bit who told me Michaela was just ahead maybe 10 minutes. In me head I was thinking I will never catch her, and then Mark stepped off and let me pass. I used this as to add fuel to my fire.

I pushed harder now passing others when I could. I was growing tired of tip toeing around the mud and wasting valuable energy. I ran threw the mud and embraced it. I almost lost my shoe a couple of times but luckily it stayed on. I knew I was approaching Buzzard cove but I blew through that aid station. I didn't need water and I didnt' even slow down to see if my pacer needed anything. I knew she would be able to catch up to me.

I was on my way horseshoe bar, and this section is very runnable. I ran, I was pushing, I was motivated, I needed that aid station. I took in more GU and then the hill to aid station. I arrived. I downed 2 coke took a salt refilled my pack and was off to rattlesnake and my crew.

That was my driving force now to get to my crew. My right hip was beginning to get real tight and I had to keep pressure on my quad so I could swing my leg forward not to mention every now and then my knee felt like it locked up but I was in the zone. I had my eye on the target. I just kept plugging away letting my music and knowledge of the trail carry me forward with a quicker pace.

Rattlesnake was near, I crossed the road and expected to come to the aid station. But I was wrong, I had a few more major climbs to make. Ugh, I just want to be at the aid station. I had to recenter myself, I needed to stay calm and then the familiar turn to the aid station and there is Anthony. He yells " What do you need." I knew what I needed. "GU" I was out of GU, I had finished my flask which holds 6 GUs.

Pam gets my GU ready for me, Anthony then asks if I was just going to keep going or sit down. I sat down. I had a few cokes and Anthony and Lily just keep giving me coke. I tried to stand and when I did I couldn't. I was having a major back spasm. I couldn't move. I grabbed onto Anthony and Lily came over.  She had my pacer come over so I could lean on her and Lily worked on loosening up my back and hip. I focused on Pam, I made eye contact and she said "keep breathing, let it relax." It was painful. I still couldn't stand because every time I tried to put weight on my feet my back would spasm. I was trying to stay calm, I then started feeling sick.

Pam kept telling me to breath, keep breathing. I don't know how long I was there but I stood up and walked a bit. Anthony adjusted my back and told me to get wet I felt to dry. Before I knew it I waved good bye and was on my way to the finish. I looked back on more time and Pam yelled "just think about Avery's Pond!" I smiled and was gone.

I hiked the hill and at the top started running. I knew I was close, I could taste it. Just keep running. My music was blasting it was propelling me forward. My pacer took the lead and I told her "run and I will keep up. Run a pace to get me to the finish and I will do it." She took off and I was right behind. We were slowly passing other runners. I wasn't going to let anyone pass me. We hit Avery's pond to both of our surprise surprisingly fast. Then the power pump station we just kept moving. I was running up the hills I wasn't going to walk. I was pushing myself, willing myself, seeing myself on the trail. I was running, clocking 8:30 9:00 min miles.

My pacer made me zero in on the other runners and challenged me. She would say"there is your next target, go get them" and I would. Once I passed them I would zero in on the next target and catch them. I was feeling stronger. I was getting stronger with each step I took. I wasn't slowing down. I wasn't going to let anyone pass me. I was running the hills still, but then I started tripping over the rocks and my pacer told me to eat something and to take a salt. I listened this time. Slowly my stride came back and once again I was zeroing in on my targets and one by one picking them off.

It seemed that we arrived at Manhattan bar really fast. I saw the tent in the middle of nowhere and raised my hands in the air and shouted "YES!" One small victory. I took in 2 cokes and was gone, not even waiting to see where my pacer was. I had my eyes on the next goal Last Gasp and then the finish. I was still running after other runners and passing them. A set of runners did pass me, but I just hitched on with them and let them pull me. Then I saw it.....I yelled, "there it is the dam hill." I could see it and I knew I was close.

As I approached the base of the dam hill tears started to swell up in my eyes because I knew that this section was going to hurt. I was going to go all out. My hip was hurting, my back, my quad, and my knee but I knew I could do it. I just needed an extra life. As I hit the base I one up'd and found my focus and center for the final task at hand.

My pacer took the lead and we power hiked the first hill, I fueled as I hiked knowing I would need it. I gave her my pack so I was free. Then I saw Anthony, he was going to help get me to last gasp. He poured some water on me to cool me off and to wake me up. It worked, I was more alert now.

 He gave me goals to reach for, "run to the sign, now keep running to the ribbon, now keep running to Jack." Who the F%$^ is Jack is all I thought. Is this some kind of joke. Anthony had Jack raise his hand and I ran to Jack. Then I power hiked because it was getting steep. I started running and Anthony told me "You know this hill, run when you can" Those words stuck with me. I ran, I hiked the really steep part right before Last Gasp. I downed 2 cokes and kept moving. Up ahead I could see Michaela. Some how I had caught back up to her. She was my new target. I can do this.

I ran with my pacer right there, motivating me, she wouldn't let me stop. I was cutting the corners keeping my mind on the task. I was slowly gaining on her. I yelled "Power Girl" but she didn't her me. I kept pushing. 2 miles to go, I can feel the emotions rising, keep running. I hiked a little bit then I remembered it levels out and has a nice down hill. I found that gear and motored past my pacer and I just kept going. She was right behind me. Maybe 1.5 miles to go I looked back and she was still there then with 1 mile to go I had a significant lead on my pacer. Now I was really motivated. I kept thinking, I can't let her catch me, get moving, run faster, run harder, don't stop, keep moving. I was so close. The final hill I powered up it I hit the street then the finish chute. A huge smile on my face as Kirk appeared and yelled out. I crossed the finish line in 9:44:48. I did it, I ran 50 miles, I pushed my body and I dropped my pacer again on the Dam hill. I own the Dam Hill!

What a feeling, I was all smiles. I saw Paula and Jenny and Michaela who had a fantastic race and was so excited. I think the first words out of my mouth were "I dropped my pacer again." My pacer pushed me over 24 miles. She pushed me to keep moving at a fast pace. She did her job, she never let me slow down.

It was an incredible journey. I PR during this race, I pushed myself and set goals that I knew would be challenging but attainable. I ran a smart first half and pushed myself physically and willed myself to keep going when my body was hurting. I fueled well and hydrated through out.

Thank you to my crew for their support and sacrifice and to my awesome coaches and friends Anthony and Kirk and Jenny. Thank you for pushing me during training and a special thank you to Lily who always gets my body ready for my races and who kept me together during the race. Thank you to my pacer Suzanne who pushed me and kept my eye on the target.


Me and my pacer

Friday, April 8, 2011

Captain Kirk to the Rescue!

This past week has been about resting and making sure everything is ready for Saturday's American River 50 mile Endurance run. Resting and checking is just what I have been doing. But there have been a few interesting speed bumps along the way.

Wednesday night I headed out and ran with the group, a nice and easy 4 miles/40 min or so. On my way out I was cruising along when out of nowhere a blackberry vine reached out and grabbed my left ankle. I felt the pain from the thorns, but there was nothing I could do to stop the thorns from digging into my leg. By the end of that run, my lower leg was swollen, it hurt, and I had blood everywhere. I just laughed it off and shrugged my shoulders, what else was I going to do. I couldn't worry about it, it was done.

Thursday I went out for a really easy run, nothing happened during this run. I was feeling really good, I was mentally focused and my body felt strong. All good things. After the run, since I was already dirty I mowed the lawn, one because it needed it and two, it was green waste on Friday. After mowing the yard I sat down and I looked at my running shorts and the seam of my liner on both legs had torn. One leg had a tear from the base to groin and the other leg just a bit smaller tear, but noticeable. Ohh S#%t, my shorts that I have run every long run and was comfortable in and the shorts that I was going to run on Saturday where ruined. This is not good.

I calmly took a shower which by the way I used the last of my shampoo and made my way to Fleet Feet and my own personal shopping assistant Captain Kirk. I told him what happened and he immediately began looking through the store for the exact same short. When he couldn't find it he called the Roseville store. I was staying calm, I knew that Captain Kirk would come up with a solution for me. I am very particular about what I run in ever since the SNER where I chaffed so bad I couldn't walk. I ended up trying on maybe 8 pairs of shorts and decided on the Nike's with a compression liner.

After thanking Captain Kirk and laughing about it I headed home and put the shorts on. I needed to make sure that the compression liner wouldn't ride up and that it also wasn't too tight around my quad. I was in the backyard playing with the dogs, doing high knees. Everything stayed where it needed to. Thank goodness. I don't know what I would have done without Captain Kirk.

Finding out that I have holes in my running shorts isn't that bad, but pretty comical. I managed to stay calm during all of these minor incident and just role with the punches. It wasn't worth getting worried about and all worked up, I knew that Captain Kirk would be able to help me, I can always buy more shampoo, my cuts on my leg isn't too bad and while I am running 50 miles tomorrow I can always look back on my week and laugh at what happened.

I do have to say that I am ready for tomorrow. My body feels strong, I am mentally ready and focused, I respect the distance and I know that I can do it. I also know that if things don't go according to plan it will all work out, I have plans and I have also learned a lot from my previous races. I am ready!!!! I am focused I have visualized the course I have visualized myself running the course and the Dam hill, I am ready!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be Strong

"Be Strong" is what I heard from Miss P. just as I thought I couldn't give anymore. We were maybe 1.5 miles to the top of the Dam Hill. My legs were feeling fatigued, but after hearing be strong I hit another gear and I was off. I yelled back "You can do it." I was slowly gaining on Wonder Woman and Power Girl, I was in the zone. My mind was clear and I was focused on the task at hand. To run the Dam hill!

Today's run we met at the Overlook so that we could get one final look at the Dam Hill. AR50 the last 3 miles is up. A nice climb to the finish. As we cruised down, I let the hill and my momentum take over. I didn't resist, I just went with it. As we ran down we were all in high spirits just chit chatting away.

Soon we hit the single track and followed that out for a mile and turned around. I was in the lead with Power Girl, Wonder Woman and Miss P. right behind me. The single track was nice and tacky and felt very fast. We hit the base of the dam hill and this is where the real work was going to begin.

The gravel road has 2 very steep sections. Here I power hiked and joked around with the girls and Coach Nikon. After the first hill it flattens out a bit with a small uphill grade. This section is very runnable and that is just we all did. Then the second hill is upon me. I run a bit before having to power hike it. We had a nice little debate about which hill is steeper the first hill or this one that takes us to last gasp. I believe it is the first hill. What do you think?

After the green gate we are back on pavement and I tell myself no more hiking, just running. Power girl was in the lead and then Wonder Woman and Miss P. and myself. We ran and cut the corners. We had 2 miles to the to the top, this is where the mental game comes into effect. I pictured my run from last year and smiled at that thought and then I remembered the feelings I had as I ran this hill. The excitement of knowing the end was near. Wow, what a feeling.

Power Girl and Wonder Woman were looking really strong in front of me and I thought I would never catch them. We weren't talking anymore we were all focused on the task at hand. Then Miss P. said "Be strong" and something came over from deep within and the next thing I knew my legs were moving quicker my strides were feeling effortless and I was slowly gaining on Power Girl and Wonder Woman. I was in the zone, it was an amazing transformation and feeling. I felt like I could do anything.

I passed Wonder Woman she was in the zone, then my next goal was Power Girl. I was slowly gaining on her. I was clocking 9:40 about this point and still feeling good. I passed Power Girl and just kept going cutting the corners and finding the shortest route. I could hear all 3 of them on my heels. I just kept running up the hill. I had forgotten that there was a little downhill and that allowed me to coast a bit and relax my legs.

I tried to shake Power Girl, that was my next goal. But she held on and passed me. Then Wonder Woman passed me but that didn't bother me. It just fueled me some more. I pushed harder trying to regain the lead. We only had maybe .5 to go. One right turn and the last major climb before coming out upon the street. I pushed hard on this hill, I was giving it everything I had.

Onto the street and into the parking lot and we were done. What a great 8 miles. Feelings of Triumph I am sure from us all.

I pictured myself running this hill today. I visualized what I saw last year at the race, I imagined the cow bells, Coach Nikon running with me. I relived my race from last year on today's training run. This was the run I needed mentally. I was focused and when I thought I couldn't push anymore I heard "Be Strong" and that pushed me harder. I am glad I saw the Dam Hill again because there were some areas I had forgotten, for instance the little down hill section just before I reached the final mile. That the 2 toughest climbs were at the base and that it is runnable.

I think another factor that helped with today's run was that fact that I managed to get some sleep the day before so I wasn't physically fatigued. I also had a massage by Lily. She works magic.

I am looking forward to the race next Saturday. I would love to repeat last years Dam Hill and run it. What do you have planned for the Dam Hill?