Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Push It"

It always amazes me how two words can spark that drive to push harder. "Push it" is all Captain Kirk said as I made my way up the Dam hill. And push it is what I did. The great thing about it was; it felt really good to drive my legs harder....

Today is one week before my first 50 miler of 2012. American River 50 miler is next Saturday and I am ready. So ready in fact that all week long I kept thinking it was this weekend. I have decreased my mileage significantly in a chance to really give my legs some time recover. On the runs I did complete this week I made sure to add in some pick ups just to make sure my legs wouldn't go flat and to help keep the leg turnover strong going into AR50.

For my last weekend run I decided to do the same thing that I did last year, which was to head to the finish of AR50 and run the dam hill one more time. This will allow me a chance to really build my confidence and work the tangents. I was pumped and I was excited.

I started down and just cruised remembering which way the road bends and where it levels out and where the steepest parts are. Taking in mental pictures so that on the return I could put my plan into action. I hit the single track and followed that for a bit, I have missed the single track and it felt like I was right at home when I hit it.

I turned around and mentally prepared myself, I focused on seeing myself run the the hill. I hit the base and kept on running. I ran about half way up before transitioning very smoothly into a power hike. I was using my arms to propel me forward and focused on taking deep breaths to keep my lungs open.

I power hiked briefly and than very smoothly transitioned into a run right before hitting the first green gate. Here is levels out just slightly and I want to be able to use every "flat" section to my advantage. Than it begins to get steep again, but I didn't power hike, I kept on running, keeping a very nice pace. My legs didn't feel the burn so I kept moving, I put my head down and just ran. Slowly I transitioned into a power hike to allow my legs a chance to recover, but it wasn't for long, I was nearing last gasp.

I started running again as I went through the second gate and now I am running on the pavement. Here is where I focused on running the tangents. I was motoring, my legs felt good and I just kept running with a nice and steady pace. Nothing to crazy.

Than I spotted the Fleet Feet Ultra Training Group, and here is where Captain Kirk ever so slightly and quietly said "Push It, Push it" I regained my focused and found myself cursing in my head for those two words. My legs started moving quicker, my arms pumped faster and my pace quickened. I was very surprised that it actually felt good to be moving faster. I kept pushing it as the group offered encouragement along the way. A fist bump here, a high five there. I cut the corners and kept pushing.

Slowly I was by myself and it would have been very easy to shut everything down, but I didn't. I pushed harder. It was leveling out and I had a little down hill. I used this sections to allow my legs to recover but also to keep pushing myself. My pace quickened once again I was feeling good, I was feeling strong, I was focused.

I didn't slow down, when the next climb came. I pushed the pace remembering how I had dropped my pacers in the past two years on this hill. Thinking that, brought a huge smile to my face. I also thought about last years run where Power Girl and Wonder Woman and I pushed each other and when Miss P. said "Be Strong" when she saw me slow down. Again two simple words that allowed me to find that other gear.

I was nearing the top and I was still pushing it. I crested the final hill and only had a little bit more to go. My legs were feeling strong, the leg turnover was great and I just smiled. I hit the parking lot and told myself to remember how that felt because next Saturday I am going to do it again and have this same feeling.

Remember that two simple words can really have more meaning. PUSH IT!!!! BE STRONG!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A New Approach

It has taken about a week and half and two massages later for my legs to feel semi normal/recovered from Way Too Cool 50k. I did though manage to squeeze in one final long run last week. Last week on Thursday I decided that 20 miles from my place up to Beals  Point and through the fire road to granit bay would be nice quality workout.

I have been toying with the idea of running AR50 really light. Meaning one hand held for water and a waist pack to carry my gels. So of course on this run that is exactly what I did. I immediately noticed that my legs didn't have that heavy feeling like they usually do when I run with my pack. This feeling typically last for 5 miles, which can really mentally defeat me. Instead this time my legs felt smooth and the turnover solid. The first 5 miles sailed by with no complaints.

I also found out that while I enjoy my pack, carrying a hand held I actually remembered to drink water. Or I should say it was easier because all I had to was squeeze the bottle and water came out while a pack I had to inhale, which sometimes uses up a lot of energy. During this run I really focused on proper hydration, how to fuel out of the wast pack so I wouldn't waste too much time and getting my bottle ready to refill. Which I had to refill three times at the various spots, once going at Beals, once at Granit bay and again at Beals.

Overall this run was a good training run, I learned how I would need to do things when race day comes. I also managed to run the 20 miles in 3 hours flat. That is a 9 minute pace, which puts me right on target for my overall goal.

What's next? Rest and recovery and focusing on my race day strategy. I am not feeling overwhelmed which is great I am actually feeling calm and confident because I know my training has been there and I also know that my goals are realistic and attainable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

20 Miles and Lil Man

This past week weekend was a pretty full weekend for me. On Saturday I hit the pavement/trail for 20 miles. Since I was being a bit lazy I decided to start my long run for the week from my place. I actually enjoyed starting from my place. I hit the parkway and I was on my way to Beals Point. From there I would take the levee to the fire road and eventualy turn around when I went through twin rocks.

Overall my legs felt pretty strong especially for just having raced a 50k a week ago. My leg turnover wasn't as quick, but for this run I was just focused on getting the miles in and relaxing. One of the best things was using Beals as a mini aid station. Both times I came through I used the real bathrooms with flushing toilets. Sometimes it is the small things in life and for me that day it was flushing bathrooms.

During my trek I ran into some of Fleet Feets Ultra Training Group members and also a bunch of friends who where taking part in a training run put on by James B. It was great on my return seeing everyone and having a few call outs, a "hey Melisa" and a "hey Pigeon." I even ran into Lily who was out doing the 30 mile run and when we passed each other she was looking real strong and focused with a smile on her face.

After my run I had big plans. I had planned a sleep over with Lil Man. We were also going to have dinner at my friends house. Dustin and Michaela, (Batman and Power Girl). Lil Man had a blast playing with their little boy Landon. It was pretty cute when I arrived to pick up Lil Man he was ready to go, him and all 3 of his bags. YES!!! He had three bags for a one night sleep over. In one bag he had his clothes, in another his toys-which he didn't play with- and in the last bag his cooking equipment.

Lil Man had a lot of fun at his buddies house, so much fun he didn't want to leave. On the ride back to my place he almost fell asleep in the car. Once home we both put on our PJ's and like a good auntie that I am I let him watch  one show on T.V. That show was only 10 minutes long but he was happy with that, then we both went to bed as I was exhausted from the days run and he was tired from playing with Landon.

The next morning I had some activities planned. First I made him breakfast. I warmed up some pancakes which he enjoyed with some fresh fruit and of course chocolate milk. Than it was time to bake, good thing he brought his cooking equipment. We made sugar cookies and he helped by laying them on the cookie tray and he even put them in the oven, with  my help of course. After our cooking adventure it was time to take him back home.

I am sure he had a great time just as I did with him. The best part was both of us giggling in the middle of night, at what I don't remember. I just remember both of us giggling. I wonder if he knows?

I know he had a good time because the next day he really drilled his mom as to why I had to move out. I loved his process of thinking. Here is how the conversation looked like, from what I have been told.

Lil Man-Mom, why did Meme move out?
Mom-Because there wasn't enough room.
Lil Man-Kaylee (sister) could sleep in my room on the space ship carpet!
Mom- ummm would you be ok with having to give up most of your toys?
Lil Man-No, Meme could sleep on the couch!

What a thinker he is. I realy do miss him and I wish that I could spend more time with him than I do, but the time we do spend together is very special.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Way Too Cool 50k Race Report 2012

It was a beautiful day on the trails of Cool for the Way Too Cool 50k. This would be my second time running and I was looking for a PR. My goal was somewhere between 5:15 and 5:30 finish. It was possible and the trial conditions were awesome, it was sunny, the trail was going to be fast, the creek crossing were low, and I was ready.

At the start I lined up with my good friend Dustin who was running his second 50k, but first trail 50k. He is a fast runner so I knew deep down that when he said he would stick with me for a bit I knew it was only going to be for a mile or two. It was maybe 1.5 miles before he pulled ahead. I was feeling good at the start, calm, I had my fueling plan, and I was ready for this. The first few miles were a bit fast but that is to be expected and I slowly found a comfortable pace, well not really. But I well get there.

The first mile or so is on the pavement and I set a quick pace, once I arrived on the single track my pace slowed down a bit but that was to be expected. I arrived at the first creek crossing and saw a huge line of runners wanting to walk across on the rocks and not get their feet wet. To me I thought that was a waste of time. The water wasn't that high and the worst that was going to happen was my shoes would get wet, but I would be moving forward. I followed the same path Dustin took as he crossed a few seconds ahead of me. Thanks Dustin! Next was a climb, I ran most of it but hiked the last little bit and than quickly transitioned into a run. I steeped in line behind some guys who were setting a nice pace and I just relaxed and went with it. At the mile 4ish mark I took in my first gel knowing that fueling was going to be key today along with salt and water.

During this loop I noticed that my legs felt sluggish and really heavy. The turnover wasn't there and it felt like I was lifting a ton of bricks with each step. This could be a long a day if this kept up. Slowly my friends from the Fleet Feet Training group passed me. They looked strong each and every one of them and I thought to myself I will never see them again. But how wrong I was, as I saw and passed them all except two. Soon I arrived at the first aid station at mile 8, and I grabbed a quarter of PB&J and took off. I was quick through the aid station. I headed back out and I knew that the next few miles was pretty much downhill as I make my way to Lower Quarry Road.

The downhill section I knew I could tear it up, but that was if my legs responded. It seemed my legs would respond sometimes or when they wanted. But luckily they responded and I slowly picked up speed and passed others on the trail. I was feeling good, I was in my element and I was focused. I arrived at the highway crossing and made my way across and headed down to the aid station. At the aid station I knew I would need some water so I had my pack ready to be refilled and grabbed a quarter of PB&J and was out of there.

Next up was the fire road of Quarry road. This section is very runnable, but my legs wouldn't work. I tried to put something together but my pace feel off. Not a good feeling, but I knew I had to deal with it. I quickly took in a gel and some salt and started to drink more water. I ended up taking it easy on the hills, running parts of them and then hiking the rest. This of course made me feel defeated and I slowly saw my goals for the day escape me. I know there is still plenty of racing left but at the moment it didn't feel that way. Not only was I mentally defeated but slowly more of my friends started to pace me looking really good. Two of my team mates on the Fleet Feet Ultra Racing Team caught up to me. Dan, spent some time with me trying to get me refocused. We ran side by side, step by step. This little bit of company was what I needed. It may not seem like much but that started getting the juices flowing again and I could feel my running edge come back. Slowly both my team mates carried on with their own races, but those few minutes with them was great.

Slowly things started to fall back in place. I was running once again, but I knew I had a few more major climbs to tackle and the beast of them all goat hill, but that wasn't for a bit. I was making my way to ALT aid station and was back on the single track. I was just running my pace and focused on fueling and moving forward. The climbs I tackled as best I could, power hiking when I needed to and than transitioning back into a run after the climb. Parts of this section is very runnable and I attempted to take advantage of it when I could. I mustered up a strong pace and kept myself focused on the task at hand.

Soon though the wheels started to fall off and I slowly found myself hiking, no walking up the hills. This climb just kept going, I was making my way to third gate and I was doing the math in my head and I knew that once I rounded the corner it would be about 2-3 miles before the aid station, where once there I was going to enjoy some coke. Sugar, I needed sugar for the immediate energy spike my body was looking for. Now, I had been fueling and taking salt and drinking water, but my body just wasn't processing it fast enough or maybe I needed more fuel. All I knew is I needed some sugar. As I was making my way up I could hear cow bells and people cheering and than I heard Daisy and Kuni.

I yelled up to them and they start cheering me and than I heard Daisy ask me if I needed some candy? Yes, I replied, but I think all I could do was nod my head yes. Out of her pocket she pulls out some hard candy. I grabbed the peppermint flavor and pop it in my mouth. I don't think I even had the energy to say thank you, but that candy tasted very good and was just what I needed. As I rounded the corner I hear Daisy yell "You look good girl!" She shouted that a few times to me and it slowly dug it's way into my brain. Than she shouted "See you at the finish!" With that I pointed back down the hill at them knowing that I was going to finish this thing looking strong.

I have been sucking on this hard candy now for a few minutes when I hooked up with a pair of ladies from the Fleet Feet Training Group. I was sandwich in between them holding on a nice steady clip as the lady in front pulled me and the lady behind me kept pushing me. I don't think they knew but they were slowly giving me my running legs back and the little bit of self confidence I needed. As the pace quickened I spit my candy out and held on for all it was worth.

As much as I holding on though the pace quickened again and I slowly fell off the back. But this time it didn't discourage me it motivated me. Another thing that motivated me was I had 11 miles to the finish. When I saw that it was like a switch went off in my head and I began to race. My focus was back, I zeroed in my next goal....the runner in front of me and then the runner in front of them. I was moving. It was the most amazing feeling, I almost felt slightly detached from my body. I was able to block out everything else that was going on, I was numb and I was racing.

As I came into ALT aid station I refilled my pack, inhaled 2 cokes, thanked the ladies who pulled me back from the dead and was gone in a blink of an eye. It was on now. I was on a mission, I tore out of there like my pants were on fire. My legs were firing on all cylinders and I speed off down the trail. I already had my next goal in mind and as I neared my goal I recognized my goal. It was Jim. As Jim heard me barrelling down the trail he asked if I wanted by and of course I replied yes. As I passed him I told him to hook on. I think he tried but I was moving with a vengeance. Nothing was going to stop me. I knew that this section of trail was supper runnable and I was flying, holding 9:20 to 9:30 minutes per mile.

I had some time to make up, but I also knew I had to be smart about it. I needed to stay focused on fueling, drinking and salt. I couldn't make a mistake. Soon I approached 2 runners and I hooked up with them. In the lead was Brian, from the Fleet Feet Training Group. I ran with them for a bit just to recover and than Brian stepped off the trail and the guy in front of me was in charge of setting the pace. I yelled to Brian, "Hook on Brian, you are doing great." I didn't want him to slow down and sometimes it is easier to run with someone else. But he needed to walk as he was recovering from a few weeks of being sick and not being able to run.

I continued on not wanting to lose any ground. The guy in front of me was going OK, he was setting a nice pace but I noticed on the small rollers he was slowing down a lot. I offered some encouragement, on the next roller as we approached I said "You are doing great, keep pushing, push, push, push.!" We crested the small roller and I noticed that his pace was slowing down so I asked if I could get by and he slid off to the left and I scooted around him. I saw not to far in front of me another set of runners and I hooked up with them. They were also setting a nice pace. In fact it was a good pace. I also recognized these runners as these two had passed me as I was making my way to third gate. Hmm how about that I was know making up some serious ground.

We were moving nicely over the rollers and I offered some encouragement to them as well. I was giving back what others had given to me that day. Offering encouragement along the way. Slowly though their pace also slowed down and I went around them. After passing them I hooked up with the next group of runners a group of 4 and they also were setting a good pace. Together we moved over the little rollers and held a steady quick pace. We went by my teammate Bill, who had stepped off the trail for second and I yelled his name "Bill Carr" for all to hear. I didn't know if he recognized me but I wanted him to know I was there and that maybe we could work together a bit.

Slowly our group of 4 caught up to a even bigger train. This time though the pace came to a screeching snail pace. The train was big about 12-15 of us and no one was making a move nor was anyone stepping over to let others pace. About third from the front I saw my teammate Dan. I also noticed that the little rollers caused the entire train to bunch up. The ladies leading the group were walking them. A couple of times I almost ran into the guys in front of me because it was so unexpected. I was also getting frustrated, as I knew Goat Hill was quickly approaching and this section of trail was runnable.

As this run/walk big train moved on I heard Bill say "Hey, Melisa do you want by?" or something to that matter. I was feeling really good, I wanted by and I yelled "YES!!!" Than Bill tried to get the lead runners who were walking to step over so we could pace. Still no one was making a move. I finally yelled to up to Dan, "DAN!!!! I need you take the lead." With some more words from both Bill and I the train slowly let us by. The four guys let us pass, than we were able to pass the ladies. Dan now had the lead followed by myself and Bill. And with that our race and pace quickly increased. Dan was amazed at how I had come from behind.

The three of us Fleet Feet Ultra Racing Teammates worked together, tackling the next few miles to Goat Hill. We were crushing it, quickly passing anyone in front of us. Dan was setting the pace and I just held on for dear life, knowing that Bill was right behind me and I didn't want to let up. I was pushing myself harder with each step, harder with each hill. My mind was screaming walk, but my legs kept on running. Dan was pushing the pace, Bill was pushing me. Team work at it's finest I do believe.

We soon crossed the bridge and I knew I needed to fuel. I took in a gel and a salt tab. All the while Dan was yelling at me to keep running. We were on the fire road that lead us to Goat hill. It was steep, but not as steep as Goat hill. Dan kept shouting, now run to the tree, now the ribbon. He broke that fire road into runnable sections for me and all I did was put my head down and run not thinking twice about it.

Goat hill was next. This hill is a beast. Dan had me take the lead and I took off power hiking with Bill and Dan right behind me. I could feel Bill, he was a animal on the climb. He passed me and I just followed him. We hit the little "flat" spot and I saw Bill run. Dan said "now try and muster something here." Or something like that. All I know is he wanted me to run, but I was hurting really bad. I was having trouble catching my breath, my legs were burning. I let out a yell and next thing I knew I was running with Dan right by my side. I transitioned into a power hike and I kept hearing Dan, he said he wasn't going to leave my side we would do this together. He kept me motivated. Things started to get a little fuzzy and I started to weave on the trail. I felt Dan grab my pack and keep me moving in a straight line. I couldn't walk straight, I was all over the trail. We were almost to the top. I really just wanted this to be over. I was hurting. Only a little bit further I heard Dan say. Can you hear the people, can you hear the cow bells? Yes, I could hear them but I couldn't find the energy to respond. I crested the top of Goat Hill with Dan right there.

I walked into the aid station, grabbed two coke and drank the first one, as the second one went down everything came back up. So fast I didn't have time to step away from the table. I looked to my left at the volunteer and said "I am so sorry, I didn't mean to do that, so sorry." I finished off the little bit of coke Dan was trying to get me to get moving, he wanted me out of the aid station. He knew that a PR was still doable. I saw Bill leave and I followed, but first the volunteers soaked me.

We had 5ish miles to go. So close, I could almost feel it. At this point everything is like a snap shot, I still had the feeling of being detached and it is a very interesting feeling. I was numb, I had chills but I was also running. I was right behind Bill with Dan behind me. I stepped were Bill stepped. At this point I can form a thought, but I can't form the sentence to phrase that thought. I had been pushing it hard, harder than I have pushed before. Bill would yell out obstacles and I would point so Dan would know. Then Bill had to step off and I was in the lead. I slowed the pace down a bit so Bill could catch back up when he was finished but I never saw Bill. Bill you were a huge instrument that day and a motivator like no other.

It was just me and Dan. Dan kept pushing the pace and I did what I could to keep up. We were tearing up the descents and I did my best at keeping a steady pace on the climbs. I was slowing down, but I was still moving forward. Dan was true to his word and never left my side even though he was feeling stronger and faster. He stayed with me offering encouragement and motivation with each step. To this day I can still hear his voice in my head. He did everything he could to get me to run the climbs, some I did and some of them I hiked and some I ran hiked. He kept giving me small goals, the goal was 49 crossing aid station. I could hear the aid station and my emotions almost got the best of me as I was near tears just thinking that I only had 1.5 miles to go. Dan ran ahead and had my coke ready for me when I arrived. I was focused on one thing finishing.

I was able to keep both the cokes down, but as I started the last climb the wave of nausea came flooding over me. I got sick a little but kept on moving. Nothing was going to stop me. Again on this climb Dan gave me goals, run to the tree, only this time I ran past the tree. Than I ran past the rock. Only one more small climb and victory was near. We crested the climb and I could hear the finish line. I could see it. I was almost there. My pace quickened, I was going to finish strong. Almost there, I just need to round the corner and than the home stretch. As I rounded the corner I saw Daisy and Kuni and pointed at them I also saw the time clock. I was going to PR, my pace quickened even faster. Nothing was going to stop me. We crossed in 5:38 a new PR for me by 21 minutes. Dan and I crossed the finish line next to each other just like he promised.

This was a interesting day with many lows and highs. My friends on the trail helped me out so much and my teammates pushed me to stay strong. Dan and Bill were major factors in my PR today, along with Daisy and Kuni. I might have come a little shy of my original goal, but a PR is a PR is a PR any day.

I learned that I have more to give even when things are in the lowest of places. It is never over, just a temporary set back. Always keep pushing forward and never give up. I wanted to give up many times out there but the tides turned for me. I pushed even when I thought I had nothing left.

Thank you to my friends and family for believing in me. Thank you to Fleet Feet Sports for believing in me and thank you to my teammates.Thank you Lily for the great massage after and for always getting me race ready! Thank you Anthony for helping me in my training and for setting the goals that I eventualy set for myself. You believe in me and I believe in myself.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Run Free

Tomorrow is my first race of 2012. Way Too Cool50k! I am very excited and can't wait to hit the trails. On face book there was a post and I couldn't help but look up Pheobe's running style from the show Friends. It is a good reminder for me to have fun and to be free when I am out there running. It is about not caring and just being free of all worries and concerns and being one with nature and myself. That is why I run.
Go to this link to check out how running free is!;

Remember to let out a yell!

Just let go and be Free!

Yup! I can be Free also!

I can also be Focused!

See you on the Trails!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Taper and Routines

It is 5 days before my first race of 2012. Way Too Cool 50k, this well be my second time running it and I have big plans/goals in mind. This past week has been a taper week. I originally planned on a 40 mile week, but I will end up with a 30 mile week. Which I am OK with as my legs are feeling really good, that and a few massages by Lily also have helped.

I also have some news, I after 2.5 years of running on the trails finally gotten poison oak. I believe it happened on my last long run, the point to point run from my place to Auburn. Luckily it is only a small patch on my left forearm. It didn't itch as much as I have been told, as I am sure next time it will be out of control itchy.

I can't believe it took this long for me to get it. I really don't want it again, but it is part of running. My arm swelled up and than the redness and itchiness followed. I guess the forearm isn't that bad of place to get it as it. I can't imagine getting it on my legs and having to wear pants all day at work and how miserable that would be.

This week I plan on taking it easy, focusing on staying with familiar food, hydrating as I have not been very good with that and getting in a few short runs to keep the legs loose and firing on all cylinders.

My sister and her family will be watching Traildog for me. Lil Man is very excited. This will be Traildogs first official sleep over. I have strict instructions from Lil Man to bring his bed, his breath treats and a few other odds and ends. I hope I don't forget anything.

I didn't think it would be right for him to be by himself all day on Saturday. This way he gets to spend some time with his best bud Lil Man and be around the family while I am gone. Plus my pre-race tradition is that I spend the night at Coach Nikon and Lily's house and we head to the race together. I have been doing this for every race since my first in 2009 (CIM.)

That is my routine, I sleep on the couch wake up well before any body else, ensure Coach Nikon is up and get ready and head to the race. I enjoy this routine and it helps keep me calm and focused. That is the name of the game this week, to stay calm and focused.