All About Angela

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finding Balance

Relatively speaking, I haven't been running much....a dirty admission for someone in the heart of 100 mile training. Friends in a similar training boat are throwing down impressive miles but I'm focusing on becoming balanced. Over the last year, I've battled the high mileage trap.... Most runners fixate on miles, miles, miles....and that's all fine and dandy.... but it can really burn you out. Not to mention, you're more likely to become injured and it's not all that helpful performance-wise.

In the last post, I mentioned that I had begun going to hot yoga (Bikram).... I am now going quite often - sometimes up to four times a week. It has radically transformed my running. After a few sessions, I began to notice a huge difference in what I call my sustainable pace; the trend has continued to the point of astonishment. A couple weeks ago, I ran six miles on lunch and was disappointed that I averaged 8:50 min / mile....I want to slap my own damn self. I'm also feeling more....bouncy? I have more pep to my step. I've also been making it a point to get on the bike trainer as much as possible....even if just thirty quick minutes after work while watching the tube. Optimally, I'd like to spend ten hours a week cross training....I'm averaging between 6-7 right now....I'm just slowing building up so that I can reach a sustainable balance. Unfortunately, I'm not farting out time over here.....I really have to figure out how I can train adequately and still you know, be a mediocre employee and ensure that my children don't starve.

Now just because I haven't been running MUCH does not mean I haven't been running AT ALL. I'm hovering comfortably in the mid-50 weekly range.....About four days a week, I run doubles which I still assert is the best way to build up mileage and endurance for an ultra.

We're now in the heart of winter over here and my little heart could explode. It's been snowing for about a week straight....and sticking!!!! Each morning, I've been waking up to glorious fresh pow pow....I'll rush out the door just so that I can prance around in it prior to plowing / shoveling. The only downside to snow running is that it's exhausting....each step is WORK. I swear that I'm feeling new muscles emerging after each run.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Changing Seasons

I'm a huge fan of the colder's a harsh adjustment when the weather suddenly shifts but I really enjoy Fall / Winter running. All the recreational runners retreat indoors (no offense intended) and the trails belong to me! I'm free to belt out horrendous 80's tunes without abandon and squat behind any bush that I please without fear of being caught...and subsequently listed on the sex offender registry. In hot weather, there is NO relief absent stripping down naked and finding someone that will run / ride alongside you with a hose. Cold weather just requires the proper gear and a positive mental mindset....If conditions become frigid, you just pile on another layer until you look like Ralphie from The Christmas Story.

Our first real snow!
I'm coming off three weeks of super solid performance - 76, 82 and 62 miles.... I feel like a beast! This week, I'm focused on integrating more cross training....I've begun doing something that is so far outside my comfort zone that it's downright hilarious - HOT YOGA. I've never been into yoga....I went to a class about two years ago and it was irritating to say the was advertised for beginners but the poses were insane (headstands WTF) and the instructor kept telling the class to get in touch with our "inner Vishnu". I'm not the meditative type - I am just not that zen. Anyway, I keep hearing that yoga is AWESOME for runners and I have friends that recommended this studio near my office. I signed up for a beginner class and surprisingly didn't blow it off.... ninety minutes in that room was torturous.... it's probably the hardest thing that I've done in a LONG time. Embarrassingly, I was in the "resting" pose - trying not to die in a literal pool of my own sweat and tears - for the majority of the standing poses. The instructor asked me, with a concerned expression, "Are you OK?!?" no less than five times. I proved (once again) that flexibility and grace are traits that I'm sorely lacking. But like any challenge....I MUST CONQUER IT.... I couldn't make another class last week because I was battling some health funk but I made an effort to practice the poses so that I'm not a total disaster this time around. And this time....I'm bringing like five gallons of ice cold water with me (just kidding....well, maybe).  Maybe I'll become one of those people that has a profile picture of myself doing some crazy yoga pose with a mountain

On that note, enjoy these token pictures of my Yoshimi playing in the leaves...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trail of Terror

I feel like I'm finally reaping the rewards from with months upon months of hard work. Things are just clicking. I'm waiting for the ball to drop (damn pessimism). Last week, I ran 77 miles....that's my second highest mileage that did not include a race. Generally, I have a run ratio of 80 percent suck, 20 percent glorious...Last week that was reversed....And man, it was incredible.

My week ended with my FIRST 5k....My son and I ran it together....Well, for the first mile. I told him prior to the start that if he felt that he wanted to run faster than me, he should. I had put ten miles on the legs that morning and I was running with a notoriously distracted canine so... I still thought that I might accidentally push HIM too hard....HAHAHAH....

Almost from the beginning, he was eager to get in the front. In heavy wind, sideways rain....he remained undeterred....he chugged up hills, he passed the other young hooligans....even after missing the 5k turnaround (extending our 5k into a 4 mile adventure).... he WON his age group and placed within the top ten OVERALL. Of course, I'm proud but I'm more impressed than anything. Dominic came in so fast that Jeff wasn't even prepared with the camera.

Typical elusive teen

Proof that Yoshimi is the most photogenic one in our family


Monday, October 19, 2015

Hayden Lake Marathon

The Hayden Lake Marathon is hands-down my favorite road marathon (thus far)....Granted, I have few marathon experiences for the sake of comparison but regardless, I JUST LOVE THIS RACE.... Ran along country roads, it's a scenic challenge.

Photo Credit: Hayden Lake Marathon
I always laugh when someone says "rolling hills" and the elevation gain is less than 500'. I understand that ANY hill in a marathon feels like an obstacle but still.... This marathon packs in just under 2000' of gain....You're basically going up or going down.

Elevation Profile (My Garmin)
This course definitely caters to my skillset. I've spent all year running hilly ultras....I've learned A LOT about how to pace myself so that I don't explode in the final miles. Going into this race, I was quite skeptical that I could finish. After Le Grizz, each run was horrible...and I mean UGLY. From the beginning, I battled with that end-of-race heaviness in my legs. Everything was just so tight and sore. The first 14 miles were ran on auto-pilot....I'm not a morning person so I wasn't even awake enough to understand that I was miserable.

Around mile 15, my knee began to SCREAM....I battled with the desire to quit....I really did. Going downhill on an angry knee is not what I'd call pleasurable. But I kept chugging along - I really wanted that finisher shirt, I guess. Thank goodness for the second wind that I received around mile 20.

This is what the final mile looks like....
I ended up placing 5th female / 18th overall / 1st in AG....I'd say that's not too shabby given that I was running with what felt like a broken set of legs.

This was a perfect way to end the 2015 racing season.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Le Grizz 50

An easy course, they said...
You'll PR, they promised...
50 miles of undulating gravel.

Le Grizz is one of the oldest 50 mile ultras in the United States. It's known for blazing course times and incredible scenery. Held in Western Montana in the heart of Fall, you're basically running in a postcard.

The course is ten miles in one direction, turn fifteen miles in the opposite direction, turn around. Because the race was on a low-traffic rural road, your crew could follow you throughout the entire race.
I chugged along quite nicely for 25 miles....One foot in front of another.... A race can NEVER go perfectly. Around mile 26ish, I felt pain radiating from my groin / upper inner thigh down to my right knee. It wasn't crippling but mobility became rather limited. Jeff attempted massaging the muscles but let's just say that he should stick with engineering. At this point, I figured that I should stick with walk-run intervals....I'd walk for 1/10th of a mile and then run the rest (albeit slowly).  Yoshimi joined me for a short stretch between stations. The problem was that Yoshimi does best when running at a solid pace. Otherwise, he's far too distracted by every smell and sound. His lack of focus proved difficult so I didn't run him as much as planned....Don't feel too bad for him....He got an abundance of treats and met several new canine friends.

By mile 35, I was reduced to 50 percent run/walk intervals..... walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile.... When a good jam would come on, I would attempt to run through the entire song. I cannot tell you what a boost the song, "Bohemian Rhapsody" provided.

Around mile 42, the pain had increased quite substantially and I was hobbling along SLOWLY. I wasn't even walking a reasonable pace. The pain that I was experiencing led to an altered gait which contributed to other problems (namely tight, sore hips).  Sometimes I would just run to certain landmarks that I could see up ahead (this mailbox or that bend in the road).

I DID set a PR in the 50 mile distance....a whopping seven minutes hahaha. After the race, I experienced soreness unlike anything before. I've never ran so much of a 50 miler before let alone on such unforgiving surfaces.

2 scoops Tailwind (200 calories)
2 bottles Gatorade (320 calories)
3 small cans of Coke (270 calories)
Random goodies....a handful of potato chips, bite sized chocolate bar, a few gummies

A finish tastes delicious....and a bit like PBR
And now like a freaking insane person, I'm running a hilly road marathon in the morning.... 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Digestive System Woes

Since Squamish, running has been eh....At first, I was rockin' the whole recovery dealio and then BAM...I was knocked down by the flu and have yet to really make a triumphant return.

I've ran two races, both plagued with stomach issues that resulted in finish times that are not indicative of how hard that I've been working.

Three weeks ago, I ran my first road race of the year - a local race entitled The Scenic Half. Last year, I ran this race while battling a narly sinus infection....September has proven to be the month where my immune system fails miserably. I could have set my heart on a PR but running trail ultras has destroyed my speed (well...that and the fact that I choose beer over strength training more often than not). Therefore, I abandoned any time goals and intended on making this race part of a longer run. I planned on running a couple miles to the start line, running the race and then running a 6-7 mile route home.

I was a little cocky about pre-race nutrition. I just figured that I've gotten so used to this distance that I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and be OK....Yeah, that was wrong.... Apparently, three day old leftover meat pizza is not an optimal fuel source. The morning of the race, I woke up with HORRENDOUS cramps. Locked in the bathroom for a good hour, I was freaked that I'd even catch the start...I had to sprint to the start line, managing only one mile for the warm-up. I went out WAY too fast at the beginning....When I looked at my watch, I was throwing down a five minute pace...I'm not a fast runner, I will never claim to be a fast runner and that pace is ridiculous for me. I made the conscious effort to slow down. I maintained a low eight minute pace for about seven miles (a sweet spot between challenging but sustainable)....and then the stomach rebelled....I had to slow down an extra minute per mile to keep the poop fear at bay. I finished under two hours (barely) without having to jump into the bushes but... there was no way that I was going to bang out more miles.

Following the race, I cleaned up my diet in anticipation of the Priest Lake 50k. Cleaning up my diet often entails ditching dairy and meat....I'm learning that getting older means that your digestive system becomes a rebellious, fickle asshole.....Apparently, a block of sharp cheddar is NOT an acceptable snack...WTF?!?

This race holds sentimental value for me as it was my first marathon last year....I mean, who really forgets their first marathon? Thankfully, it's a local event so I can return every year (and fully intend to).  Priest Lake is a really fun's got some decent hills but completely's not what I consider trail but it's not exactly road either and the kicker - it's BEAUTIFUL.

Photo Credit: Mark Vogt Photography
In typical Angela fashion, I was sprinting at the start....When will I learn?!? I should know that if I'm in the top five runners, I need to slow the hell down. No matter how many of these I knock out, 31 miles is a LONG WAY.

See me there...lined up at the front...what was I thinking?!?
Photo Credit: Mark Vogt Photography
Even though aid stations were abundant (none spaced further than 3 miles apart), I had to carry a handheld with big deal. The first 21 miles went just amazing...I heeded the advice of my husband...keep a conservative pace, take walk breaks even if you don't feel that you need them. For the first time ever, I was passing runners left and right... Other than the normal muscle fatigue, I was really feeling spectacular and on track to set a blazing 30+ minute PR....And that's when my race exploded. I came into an aid station, grabbed the nearest cup and downed it without a second thought....That's when I realized that I'd just drank Heed - an electrolyte fluid that has notoriously been my running kryptonite. Oh well....I'll live, I thought....I grabbed a couple pretzels and rushed off. Within ten minutes, my stomach began to cramp and I was overcome with EXTREME nausea....nausea so bad that I began feeling dizzy....I had to continue stopping in order to regain my composure and balance. The final nine miles were a trudge to the finish....mostly walking and whining. Everyone that I had passed long ago now passed me....I just had to focus on finishing.

Ecstatic to have finished....and that I avoided violently vomited upon cheering spectators

After comparing ingredients of Tailwind and Heed, I'm almost certain that I was having an adverse reaction to xylitol....this is marketed as a "natural sweetener" but there are a small group of individuals that cannot tolerate even the smallest of makes sense because MANY people have expressed that they've had very similar reactions after drinking Heed. I'm not attempting to shine a negative light on Heed or Hammer Nutrition BUT it's definitely something to be cautious about. Just another reason why it's critical never to drink or eat something new on race day.

Now...enough about me....My oldest son is now in XC!!! He's had three meets and I'm just so incredibly proud of him. You have to understand, he's never been an athletic dude.... In his eyes, being told to go outside was akin to punishment. He's not a competitive person, either....I was really curious to see what he would do in a race. I kind of thought he might just jog comfortably through it. During his first meet, I was quite surprised to see him kick it up a notch on the final stretch in order to pass several runners. When he got in the finishing chute, I could see him glancing sideways in order to ensure no one was getting by him in those moments. He's been working HARD....They have these kids practicing four days / week. On top of that, he has PE right before practice and then walks a mile home after. And he hasn't complained once! However....he did try to rationalize how running 1.5 miles justified two cheeseburgers, a soda and a slice of cake....I really didn't want to break his heart so early into his running career and tell him that sports nutrition just isn't that kind....And secretly, I dig his train of thought.

No way, Jose...You aren't getting past me yo!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer Flu

For the past 72 hours, I've been down with the plague. Our son Colton, who falls victim to seemingly every virus, lovingly coughed in my face no less than 20 times this past weekend....And with my immune system being shot following Squamish, his common cold mutated into my horrendous flu.
And the joyous thing about a large family....By the time that this circles around to each one of us, it will have mutated into something that I (and everyone else) can catch all over again!

My life right now....(and it's not terrible)
So's gone pretty well....I mean, up until I was resigned to being curled up in the fetal position. I've done a few longer runs; I even managed to run 17 miles on a workday last week. A few minor aches have been noted. The most concerning one has been my left knee which spontaneously began screaming during a recent trail adventure.


After the run (which turned into a slow hike), I could barely bend it without pain. Although, a few days of forced rest have seemed to clear that up but it's something that I'll have to be cautious about.

The rest of the year is fairly laid-back in terms of races....I don't have anything ominous or that I'm particularly intimidated by. Optimally, I'd like to see a marathon PR but....ultras have destroyed my speed. So, I'm all about the FUN....But that doesn't mean there is any rest for the wicked....


I am officially in training for my first 100 miler!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Squamish 50

I cannot recall how I found out about the Squamish 50. All I know is that it called to me. Much like a whip calls to a sadomasochist. Immediately upon registering, my stomach did a nauseating flip....Apparently, it understood the ramifications of that impulse decision.

The Squamish 50 is notoriously known as a difficult 50 miler....Perhaps "difficult" should be replaced with "torturous".  I'm no stranger to elevation gain....I LOVE hills....I have legs that were designed for climbs. My husband once said, "Your legs are like Redwood trunks." And this course promised 11,000 feet of ascent....Just my cup of tea......but it also promised an equal amount of descent....and every step would be a technical masterpiece requiring the balance and grace of a ballerina. When I was a teenager, friends nicknamed me "Grace"....and it was one of those ironic nicknames if you catch what I'm throwing down.

I knew that finishing was the ONLY thing that mattered. I had absolutely no delusion about where I'd be placing - I knew that I would be lucky to be nestled somewhere in the middle.

Honestly....the entire race exists as one giant blur....

In an ultra, time is weird....I have friends that cannot believe how long races last and how that doesn't become a mental mindfuck. "How can you run for that (insert time) long?!?" That's a question that I get asked A LOT. When I'm out there....time simultaneously slows down and speeds's hard to hold onto....minutes turn into hours that seem to escape within minutes....

I was not comfortable for a single second of the race. The only "easy" miles are the first six. However, even those presented a challenge due to navigating via headlamp. I was born with cataracts in both eyes. Even after corrective surgery, I have terrible depth perception in the dark. 

The ascents were a breeze....It may make some of you sick but climbing is fun....and it's always a welcome break from the repetitive motion of running. My one problem is that I tend to enjoy the company of others so I'll often slow my pace down in order to stick with someone that I'm conversing with (especially if that person is struggling) rather than charge ahead. Looking back, I could have knocked a good hour from my finishing time had I been more focused.

The descents were a cruel joke. I'm confident in the assertion that Satan had a firm hand in making those trails. STEEP. TECHNICAL. DROP-OFFS.  Need I say more? I cannot tell you how many times that I had to resort to getting on my ass in order to slide down. Thankfully, I read enough race recaps that I was mentally prepared. During one particularly challenging descent toward the end, I clocked in a 30 minute mile....30 minutes!!!! I could literally crawl blindfolded faster than that. Let's just say....I know that I need to work on this.

(Not Me) 

Let's talk about the wood bridges. When I first looked at course pictures, I was like..."Look at those quaint wood bridges in the forest that I get to run across!!!!" Yeah....NO.... These bridges were rugged. All of them buckled underneath your body weight, making this ominous cracking sound. Some of them were lifted several feet off the ground which proves terrifying when one's legs aren't exactly the epitome of stable. I walked precariously, like the baby that I am, across every single one of them.

Photo Credit: Brian McCurdy 
Around mile 40, I began to break.... I was becoming increasingly frustrated that so much of the course seemed un-runnable for mere mortals (or wimps like me). When I saw my husband about 1/4 mile from the final aid station (mile 43), I began to bawl....I complained that I was hurting....I threatened to drop....I told him how terrified that I was about finishing in the dark. I begged him in the most passive aggressive manner to tell me that it was okay to quit. He refused to give in (THANK YOU JEFF).

The volunteers at the aid station were INCREDIBLE. They convinced me that the final stretch would be like a pleasant stroll in the park.  Before I knew it, I was throwing back on the headlamp and sprinting into the forest. I'm so thankful that the next couple miles were truly was like I'd been waiting all day in order to utilize my legs in that fashion...

And yes....I finished!!!! 16 hours and 24 minutes later, I crossed that finish line and hugged the Great Gary Robbins.

I was one of the last to finish. 177 individuals came in before me. 12 came in after me.

I believe around 60 people did not finish for one reason or another.

But I finished. And I am so fucking proud of myself.

The ugly "AFTER" ...Double-fisting melon 

*I want to mention that this was quite possibly the most organized race that I've ever ran. The course marking was superb....I was immensely grateful for this during the few miles that I had to navigate in the dark. Each volunteer was amazing....especially those volunteers that had to hike into isolated areas and sit there even after dark. I am so touched by the kindness of others that I experience in races.

*My ONE suggestion would be to hire a photographer that ensures all runners have at least one picture. Out of the 548 pictures posted, not a single one had me....not even lurking in the background. It's quite obvious that the race photographer fixated on the front runners. I cannot even spot a single person that I ran with at any given point; that is extremely disappointing. With a race of this scale, I understand why following elite runners might be prioritized. However, we all paid the same registration fee and at the very least....have someone at the finish capturing each runner coming through should have happened.

And now, I've been doing A LOT of this....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mount Spokane 25k

Excuse the blog absence, I've been having an off month....

The end of July, I did complete my first race repeat - The Mount Spokane 1/2. Last year, I was hesitant to register for this race. Even though I felt comfortable with the distance, I'd only had one experience with trail running prior, which could be considered rather tame (non-technical forest roads). When I received an e-mail from the RD disclaiming / warning that the distance was closer to 25k and that it was the most challenging run of their State Park Series, I was TERRIFIED (drastic understatement). The race was quite the was HARD....3000' of elevation gain was like torture for this novice road runner. On the final climb, I was miserable and doubting whether I'd ever attempt another trail run....But then I reached the summit...Words can not describe the view that I was rewarded with. I'm still surprised that my heart did not explode. That was THE MOMENT....I was forever changed as a runner...maybe even as a person. And just so you know....I was so sore the following day that I literally fell on my face when attempting to get off the couch.

There wasn't much notable about the 2015 running. Because I had turned 30 days before the race, I had celebrated with  plentiful cold beverages and indulgent food. The weight of my choices haunted me...I could feel every ounce of the bacon cheeseburger that I'd annihilated the night prior. It wasn't that I felt BAD....just not LIGHT. Additionally, I was still traumatized by my recent brutal fall; this caused me to be overly cautious on the descents. I stopped counting how many people that I allowed to pass on the downhill sections....I lost so much time being a giant wuss....BUT I still beat my previous time by 10 minutes!

A couple weeks later, I participated in a non-supported running adventure called "The Seven Summits"....The plan was to tag seven peaks in 48 miles with 10,000' of climbing.

This adventure could not have been further out of my comfort zone. Because the organizer wanted everyone to be accountable for their own safety, the course was not marked and limited aid would be provided (along four checkpoints each with a generous cut-off). We had to rely on this navigational app called ViewRanger to follow the designated route. I'm no directional wizard...I used to joke that I could get lost walking to the mailbox and it was only a slight exaggeration. I was TERRIFIED that I'd be lost in the wilderness and consumed by some wild animal. I'm adventurous but still aware of my limitations....I won't be traveling alone to remote destinations no matter how glorious they may be. Well....I managed to score a running partner who knew the route and had no crazy time ambitions because it was her first 50 miler....I was STOKED and EXCITED! We started running at 5 AM (ouch ouch ouch).
Far Right - Lime Green Tank 
Photo Credit - Sandee McKinney 

Almost half of the elevation gain occurs in the first two sections (totaling seventeen miles). Needless to say, we were not booking it....And then we got lost! At this point, we had picked up another was like an unspoken agreement that we'd stick together. We reached the first checkpoint with only 30 minutes to spare. I was feeling physically strong... I mean, we hadn't really done much running at this point.... But making up time was proving difficult. There wasn't much flat....There were uphills and downhills....I'm a strong climber but I wasn't able to bomb the steep, technical descents. The condition of the trails right now is terrible. Due to a lack of a moisture, the dirt has turned into slick sand...Rocks that were once planted in the soil now set on top like marbles waiting to bring about your untimely demise. We reached the second checkpoint with only 15 minutes to spare....I quickly realized that I needed to stop anchoring the other women down. I didn't want to be the reason that they would not reach a checkpoint in time. This adventure was more important to them....Squamish was less than two weeks away and I'd already received plenty of grief from my husband about participating. It had taken us FIVE HOURS to trespass 17 miles....I can probably run a road 50k in that same time...The positive aspect was that I was not sore AT ALL....I even ran a few recovery miles that evening. My husband ended up getting sick with a stomach flu upon arriving home so I'm glad that I chose not to continue. My husband is the type of dude that would have drove around all day in order to be there for me while sick....and he never would have let me know until I was finished.

A taste of the terrain
Photo Credit - Dave Dutro, The Trail Maniacs

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tale o' Bitch Rib

I am still being haunted by the consequences of my battle with gravity during the 4th of July 50k....
Rib injuries SUCK....There aren't enough curse words to describe how much. It's a nauseating pain and I mean that quite literally. My husband was confident that I didn't break anything so I was hopeful that one rest day (two max) would suffice....Running business could then resume as usual. After completing advanced medial research (thanks Google), I discovered that one can run with bruised ribs IF they can tolerate the pain associated with their stupidity. Sounded like a challenge and Angela does not back down from a challenge. The first attempt occurred within 48 hours of injury, I slow jogged a three mile route home from work....The whole way, muttering phrases that would make even the most obscene sailor blush. The next day went much better - I managed over ten miles split between two runs. I noticed that the pain did subside slightly after about four miles (not disappear). Flatter road routes proved the safest option.....Hill repeats are tricky when deep breaths feel like tiny internal chest punches. This morning, I braved a hillier route....I was pleased to discover that running uphill offered pain relief due to the normal posturing of the body. However, running downhill was torture....I felt like I was being clubbed in the ribs with every stride. I'm just miserable. Each of the forty miles that I ran last week felt like a battle. I've grown resentful of those runners that I see sprinting along without a permanent painful grimace.

I'm off to the doctor this afternoon per my husband's request just to ensure that nothing is fractured / broken / dislocated...I wake up each morning hoping that the pain will have dissipated but NOPE...The universe continues to kick me in the lady parts.


I went to the doctor and after a thorough examination, he's fairly confident that nothing is broken. He confirmed that I can continue to run. Absent a major fall where I just happen to land on the same bitch rib, it's not likely that I will cause further damage. He suggested that I keep to low, flat mileage for the remainder of this week and that I should be 100% by the end of the month. I have a short (10 mile) trail race scheduled for Saturday that may end up being my first "DNS"....I'm playing it VERY day-to-day and run-to-run.... I did bang out a wonderful eight mile run this morning before work so there's that....

Monday, July 6, 2015

Head over Heels (4th of July 50k)

I've just finished three of the hardest training weeks of my life....I am cranky, exhausted, starving and SORE.... In under 50 days, I'll be running the Squamish 50...Saying that I'm terrified might be the understatement of the year. 

The most glorious part of this past long weekend was that I ran on a different trail each day, each offering a unique benefit. 

Friday - Jeff and I patronized our favorite hiking's a three mile gradual incline (1200' gain)...We agreed that I would do running repeats while Jeff hiked with our dogs. Last year, it took me almost 50 minutes to reach the top. This year, I was able to reach the top in 37 minutes and the entire trip in 1:07.
After reaching the bottom, I ran back up to reunite with Jeff (about 2.25 miles) and then we walked down together.  


Saturday - The whole family went on a mellow 2.5 mile flat hike around Round Lake. Our youngest son HATES hiking....We're working hard to change that but this short adventure proved that we've got A LOT of work to do. After the hike, everyone hit the water while I ran back around.  

Sunday - I participated in my fourth 50k (sixth ultra). This race was purely for training purposes. After being plagued with stomach issues in my last four races, I am anxious to nail down nutrition. I did not taper for this...After my last 50, I had a lighter week only clocking in 66 miles and then the week leading up to the race looked like this.... 

M: 4 miles 
T: 10.4 miles
W: 10.7 miles
Th: 7.57 miles 
F: 10 + miles (Garmin is inaccurate on trails) 
S: 8.94 miles 
Sunday: 50k 

I still ran every day but tried to keep the mileage lower than usual in the few days leading up to the 50k. This is what I knew about the race - the aid stations would be relatively far apart (two >9 miles), the course was primarily double-track ATV trails and the elevation gain was approximately 5000' (decent but not torturous). A hydration pack was a necessity...a 20 oz handheld is just not enough fluid for long stretches in least not for me. In hindsight, I didn't need to fill the 2L bladder like I did but...better safe than sorry. I put 6 scoops of Tailwind in the bladder and then carried a 10 oz bottle with just pure water in the front pocket of my vest. 

During the prerace meeting, the RD advised that the terrain was atrocious and warned everyone (multiple times) to WATCH THEIR FOOTING. The first ten miles went smooth...I was starting to question what the hell he was talking about. Yes, the terrain was a bit rockier than preferred but nothing particularly technical. All the inclines were gradual enough that I was able to run up them without even getting winded. I was feeling spectacular rolling into the first aid station. I was second female and fourth overall. 

But things got ugly and fast. The trail became uneven and REALLY treacherous. It's hard to describe...this picture is not from the course but is very similar to how the terrain was... 

This may not look that bad but it's terrible to run beats up your feet and the dodging around large rocks causes serious muscle fatigue. Around mile 12 - 13, I landed wrong on a rock and twisted my ankle....I could still run but it wasn't pleasant. Even though the inclines were still runnable, I started walking them....This was training and I was going to be conservative. Running uphill on rocky terrain was just too much of a risk. 

I was passed by three runners that seemed much more confident about the terrain. I was about 30 minutes behind my normal 50k pace....I began to make peace with the fact that it was going to be a long day. The first 20 miles of the course felt ALL uphill but then we were rewarded with sweet descent...About 1/4 mile from the mile 24 aid station, I tripped over a rock and then I was tumbling...head over fucking heels tumbling....The wind was knocked out of me. What just happened?!? Am I OK?!?  I moved to the side of the trail in order to assess my injuries. I questioned whether I should call it a day...I was about to enter the last manned aid station,  my last chance to throw in the towel....After shedding some tears out of frustration, I found myself hobbling down the hill with a firm resolve that the course would not conquer me. Absent a broken bone, I was going to finish. At the aid station, I cleaned myself up with baby wipes then guzzled down 1/2 can of Coke....and then I was off! Coming out the station, there was a decent 1/2 mile climb...I used that hike to regroup....I knew that I needed to get back into a more positive mental space. 

At mile 29, I was overjoyed when I could see the trail turn into road; I knew this was a sign that the final stretch was upon me....I followed the course markings until I was greeted by three fellow runners that gave me the worst news imaginable - we took a wrong turn somewhere, somehow. We spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what to do....there was no cell service and we couldn't figure out what happened. We walked back to the road and saw two individuals running toward us. One woman exclaimed, "That's my daughter!!!!" We were pointed in the right direction and started seeing pink ribbons again. We believe that someone removed the directional arrow sign that pointed us to the finish. All day long, I had encountered signs that had been knocked down and ribbons that were removed. It was clear that some douche thought this was a good prank. 

I finished in 6:52....Almost an hour slower than my slowest 50k (which I believe was a more challenging race). My husband even became concerned. In the end, a finish is all that matters. Additionally, I ran for close to seven hours with not a single stomach issue. I relied on liquids alone - Tailwind and Coke. I'm feeling a bit beaten up....For the first time in my life, I have bruised ribs which is a great compliment to the sore ankle, busted knee, swollen hip and blue shoulder BUT I could totally run today.... .well, if it didn't hurt to breathe and move.