All About Angela

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lord Hill 50k

Last week, I hit a major milestone....I ran NINETY MILES!!!! And you know what....I feel surprisingly OK.... The weekly total was capped off with a mudfest entitled the Lord Hill 50k... Last year, I signed up for the 50k but dropped down to the 20 miler.... Thus, I was hankering for sweet redemption. Because I hadn't tapered for the event and planned to run at least one loop with the big dog, I had not a single time goal.... I wanted to have fun and finish.

Loop 1

I started the race with Yoshimi. Those running with their canine companions have to start five minutes after the rest.... This allows the runners to flesh out prior to introducing hounds in the mix [You are given back the five minutes at the's NOT a penalty]. It's weird starting a race without the normal adrenalin that comes along with having other runners....There's only two of us running with our dogs... It's not like I'm attempting to hold the pace of anyone. Of course, Yoshi drops logs in the first quarter mile....This sets me even further back from the herd.

The beginning is a few gradual, runnable climbs leading up to LORD HILL. Last year, I  REALLY struggled with this beast. This year, I didn't understand why it's considered so difficult.... It's steep but not particularly long. Sure, the calves will complain but you can power up within a couple minutes if you remain focused. Granted, it was a wall of slippery mud this year with a stream running down the middle. But's a glimpse of what's to come....

Per usual, it takes about four miles to start falling into a groove. Finally, I'm starting to pass the back-of-the-packers and Yoshimi is surprisingly not stopping to sniff [and mark] every bush along the trail. We're flying through the gorgeous, green singletrack and I'm having a blast.


The whole course is MUDDY but I'd say that the second half of the loop is "worse". We're talking about ankle-deep, shoe-eating mud....Sections of the course are basically running streams with slick rock underneath.

I notice that Yoshi is starting to get tired around mile 7....He's starting to fall behind me rather than lead. Our place slows quite a bit. He's bumping into the back of my legs on the narrow trail, which is causing me to trip. I quickly realize that he's not going to make it through another loop...At least not at a speed conducive for making the final loop cut-off.  One thing that I know about my dog is that when he's done, he's done.... He will literally stop and lay down, refusing to move.... I cannot risk that happening in the middle of a race. At the end of the first loop, I get him situated in the car - food, water, bone and bedding.... We're about 2 hrs 42 min in.....

Loop 2

I'm eager to make up for lost time.....I just focus on moving as quick as I can through the climbs and mud. I bumped into Jeff (and Taco) around mile 14.

My Taco loves his Mama
I walk with them for a minute or two before charging forward. A couple miles later, I make the realization (thanks to some major cramping) that I have not been diligent enough about drinking my Tailwind mixture. I was so fixated upon Yoshi during the first loop, I barely drank anything.  I want to catch up but I cannot overload my stomach with calories....what a predicament! I start taking long sips every 1/2 mile...I'm hitting a mental and physical low.... I'm having some ankle pain when trespassing over the rockier sections.... Many runners are struggling around me, talking about dropping.... It's hard not to feed off that negative energy. And then the weather makes good on its promise of rain..... Thankfully, I love the rain but I'm covered in sweat.... I know I'll need to throw on another layer which means stopping by the car AGAIN....I'm feeling much better by the time that I hit the sweet road descent into the start / finish area where laps begin / end. I detour by the van, spending more time than I should comforting my dog. After I put on my sweater, I rush to the aid station... I'm burdened with the news that they have ran out of Coke. Oh well. I grab a brownie from my drop bag then continue onto my final loop [this was the only FOOD that I consumed throughout the race].
Loop Three 

A time comes in every ultra where mental faculties are diminished and you're running on auto-pilot.... You're placing one foot in front of another, struggling to stream together coherent thoughts beyond, "MUST GET DONE" "BEER" "FOOD".... One step. Another step. Repeat. With each climb or difficult section completed, I feel a little more relief.... That's the last time that I'll have to do that! The freaking hardest part about the final loop is that you're not FINISHED upon completion...You still have another short one mile loop....This will be the longest mile of your life....

I was ecstatic to be done. I was even more stoked at the idea of eating a feast of deep fried Chinese food. This race was a toughie.... it wasn't that I found the race particularly challenging.... I just couldn't seem to move forward with the speed that I know that I'm capable of.  Nutritionally, I FAILED.....Altogether, I MAYBE consumed 500 calories.... For seven hours of running, that is absolutely ridiculous. Only 26 people finished the 50k....Even though I had an ugly day, I accomplished what I came to do.

I want to note that I wore my Nike Terra Kigers..... I cannot tell you how many times that my feet were completely submerged in mud and/or water..... Not a single freaking blister.  I wore the same pair for Orcas....only ONE small blister.  A freaking miracle!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Orcas Island 50k

No time to fall into a groove.
Up. Up. Up.
A chorus of heavy breathing. 
Heart thumping in my ears, drowning out my tunes.
Immediate acceptance... it's going to be one long ass day.
Up. Up. Up.

Data Via Garmin

Mile 1 - 6

The Orcas Island 50k begins with a hillacious bang....three miles of road climbing up a mountain. The incline is runnable (for the most part) but there's a whole lotta race left.... It's a delight when we turn into the forest....Glorious singletrack awaits and we're finally chuggin' along....And even better, we start heading down, down, down.... As the terrain becomes more technical, I allow the much braver to pass. Cautiously, I descend into the first aid station an hour before cutoff. 

Mile 6 - 14

For about 3 miles, the course SEEMS flat.... I'm just having a blast .... Western Washington has incredible trails. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I'm finally doing this again. Time flies and I'm climbing again.... up, up, up ..... but then descending down, down, down .... I'm entangled in a game of leapfrog with several others. The climbs are steep enough that calves begin to rebel but I'm still feeling strong. I notice that others are beginning to struggle but I have to remain hyper-focused...I offer words of encouragement but continue pushing, never stopping. At the second aid station, I chug down a cup of soda and quickly march forward. Knowing that I'll be seeing my husband soon offers a huge morale boost.

Mile 14 - 20

I remember very little about this stretch. Constant up and down....calves and quads.... what muscle group will implode first?!? I began to run along with a couple which proved a nice distraction. Even being socially awkward, I feel instantly bonded with the strangers that I share race miles with.... We're on an amazing adventure together.... It's hard to understand, I'll admit.

Seeing my husband waiting at the aid station is wonderful....We don't have to say much or anything....It's just everything knowing he's there. I'm so grateful for his reminder that the BIG climb is coming [not].  He helps me refill the hydration pack and another cup o' soda goes down the hatch. I'm only ahead of the cutoff by 40 minutes, I have to get going.... A smooch later and I'm out....

Mile 20 - 25

What a ROUGH stretch! This race is known for a 2 mile, 2000' vertical climb entitled 'The Powerline'.... It's a calve killer..... And it comes at a point where your calves already hate you. I was hiking / cursing the universe  with five others. I'm REALLY grateful that I didn't have to trespass this section alone. I only had to stop for a couple breathers - more to mentally recharge than anything. An hour and a couple false summits later, I was overjoyed to be running again.... But not for long! Three miles later, the time came to conquer the final major climb.... One mile UP, UP, UP.  Bending slightly over, hands on knees....I charged forward.... UP, UP, UP.... I began passing people.... UP, UP, UP.... Don't stop, just move. At the final aid station, I wanted to take a couple moments before tackling the five mile downhill stretch to the finish. I emptied my pack of anything I didn't need and scarfed down some Doritos.  I could now relax knowing that I would finish ahead of the final cutoff, even if I had to walk the whole way.


Less than a mile into the final stretch, I came upon the race photographer - the famous Glenn Tachiyama.... Of course, he was perched atop a slight incline that I had been walking... I laughed and said, "OK, OK.... I'll pretend I am running!"

I was smiling the entire way to the finish.... The miles came relatively easy and I knew that beer was waiting. Nothing like the pull of a cold one! Unfortunately, I do not have a glorious shot of me finishing because Jeff was hunkered down in the car with a sick Colton (migraine).

After the race, we headed straight for the ferry terminal and began our journey home. I am so pleased with how this race went. There wasn't a single moment where I even thought about quitting. No stomach issues. No hideous lows.  Just 8 hours of immense gratitude and joy.

Fuel: A mixture of 2/3 Raspberry Tailwind and 1/3 Lemonade Powder (About 500 - 600 calories)
         Snickers PB Square (100 calories)
         (3) 6 ounce cups of Coke (Maybe 200 calories)

Pre-Race: 1/2 Chocolate Muffin, 1/2 Blueberry Muffin....Each side smothered in almond butter

Post-Race: Ham + Cheese Lunchable (not joking)....1/2 Peanut Thai Burrito (purchased at ferry terminal)... Chocolate Milk


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Season Opener

My season opener is this weekend.... Orcas Island 50k!

This promises to be one burly beast of a race. One major climb alone boasts over 2000' of torture occurring over two vertical miles. And takes place after you've got 20+ miles on the legs. Initially, I was super stoked for this adventure....but now.... I'm REALLY nervous. I was sidelined for almost a month with a severe upper respiratory infection. During a time where I should have been in peak training (for this race), the only thing I was running was a fever. I'm just now beginning to feel normal. I haven't ran anything notable since October. A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to run a primer 50k.... but yeah, when you can barely bang out three miles....My current level of fitness has left me with one goal for finish!
Last week was a rather tame training week.... 48 miles, 2.5 hours of yoga, 1 hour on the bike... I'm not doing a drastic taper for Orcas BUT I want to arrive relatively fresh with no lingering aches / pains. The highlight of the week was a snowy hike with my bearded better half.