All About Angela

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!