Friday, January 29, 2016

Oh, Hey 2016

I kept meaning to write something about the start of the year, but it took a while for any words other than "ugh, this sucks" to want to come from my fingertips.

BUT! Happy to report that everything has turned around. 

So when the year began I was sick. Not deathly so, but sick enough that I couldn't do anything more than the bare minimum that needed to be done each day. Running and other workouts were out of the question. My plan after the Deception Pass 50k was to take three weeks off of running-- and I did! That worked out well! But right before those three weeks were up I was sacked by The Crud. For TWO WEEKS. I was sick for two weeks. 

On top of all of that, there was the question of what the heck was going on with my right hip. Before the 50k I was having bursitis-like symptoms, but only at rest. I had zero hip pain while running (even after 31 miles!) but my period of rest after the race proved to not alleviate my hip pain at all and I started to get more worried. 

It was time for an MRI.

I got the MRI (with arthrogram, which means they take a needle and inject dye in to your hip before doing the MRI). 

MRI results-- "moderate to severe bursitis".

A week later I got a cortisone injection.

Now it's a week and a half after that injection. 

I feel . . . . 50% better. Maybe 75%? 

Unfortunately I had to bag the Chuckanut 50k in March, but I have been building up my mileage a bit, and should end this week at over 30 miles. Woo hoo! Sort of making it up my training as I go as I am still not completely confident in my hip and how recovered I am from being sick. The 50 miler in May is no where near a given at this point.

There has been some awesome runs-- a wet run in almost complete solitude at Discovery Park:

Lighthouse in Discovery Park.

A very, very wet 10 mile run at Cougar Mountain last weekend! No pictures. But imagine jumping in the lake in your clothes, that's how wet I was. And side note: guess how waterproof my fancy new rain jacket is?! (Answer: not very! Grrr! Review coming!)

This week I got a beautiful mid-week run in at Cougar again. It was partly sunny with no rain, plus I only had to wear shorts and a t-shirt! 

Lake on the trail at Cougar. 
I stood here contemplating how to get across for far too long. 
Normally I would charge right through, but my shoes were dry and I was 
close enough to the end that I didn't want to soak them.

Strength workouts are all getting done, trying to do yoga or PT exercises 6 days/week. All is looking solid, so let's hope I can keep it up! 

That's my January . . . how has yours been???

Friday, January 01, 2016

Start of a New Year

Ugh. Just like in 2015, I am starting this year sick. Yay for new traditions? I was excited to throw on my trail shoes and head out for a run on Saturday morning, but now I'm not sure that is going to happen. Oh, well.

But I DID start the morning out doing something very exciting-- I registered for my first 50 miler! Hooray! It's at Sun Mountain, the scene of my first 50k. Last night I went in to full-blown freak-out mode because I realized they changed the 50 mile course from last year so now it follows the exact same 50k course, then 20 more miles of the same course. That isn't nearly as exciting to me as running an almost 100% loop course (there was a small section that was repeated). After going back and forth I decided to register, anyways. The race will sell out quickly and at least I know I really love the course. Plus it helps A LOT that friends have also signed up for the race. So, that's all set! Yay 50 miler in 2016!

2015 was a huge year for me . . . . can 2016 top it? My biggest concern is being healthy enough to reach my goals. I didn't have any side-lining injuries in 2015, which was HUGE. Can only hope 2016 will be as good to me. 

I have some smaller goals for the new year, other than run a 50 miler. Last year I focused hard on doing my stretching/PT exercises/foam rolling as many days of the year as I could. Remember my beautiful chart from last January?


Here is what it looked like at the end of the year!



I am proud of my efforts. Definitely room for improvement, though. Ideally I would do them 6 out of 7 days a week (I did enjoy one day off from all exercise). The days I did my stretches/exercises/foam rolling it took at least half an hour, so it was a significant amount of time on top of my regular training. 

So, my 2016 goal is to aim to do my extra stuff 6/7 days a week. I am not sure I will track with a calendar again, but maybe. I do know having it right on the wall where I see it several times a day made me accountable! 

Here's to a big year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year in Review: 2015

I 100% stole this idea from Andrea at Born and Raced in Chicago. She has such a great blog, you should go check it out! Usually I do year-end posts where I recap every month. This year I am too lazy for that nonsense. I actually seem to be too lazy for just about everything as we skid in to the end of 2015 . . . .

But I digress. This list pretty much encapsulates any runner's high points throughout a year. What were yours?

Best Race Experience: For this one I am going to have to go with the Sun Mountain 50k. It was my first 50k, which means it will always hold a special place in my heart, but it was more than that: the setting was perfect. My family was there to support me. Several friends were on the course and at the start/finish. When I got hurt other runners immediately swooped in to help. And Rainshadow Running races have the best finish line of any race I've ever done!

Official race photo from Glenn Tachiyama.

Best Run: I went back and forth a bit, but my first run at Mt Rainier won just barely over my second run at Mt Rainier. Our little group started at the Fryingpan Creek TH and finished at Box Canyon. I had never been that close to Rainier, and it was a beautiful sunny day so the mountain was "out" in her full glory. The run was incredibly challenging, but every step was amazing.

Just a bit of a view. Photo by my friend Callista.

Best New Piece of Running Gear: This will have to be my Ultra Jacket from Ultimate Direction. I went around and around and around on whether or not to drop the serious $$$ on this jacket. I tried out several other jackets first to try and save money. In the end, this one fit the best and it has accompanied me on several runs, including one marathon and one 50k. I struggled a bit with it in the marathon (hell, I struggled with everything in that marathon), but during the 50k I adjusted some things and it was perfect. 

Wearing my Ultra Jacket at the Deception Pass 50k. 
Photo from Glenn Tachiyama.

Best Piece of Advice: Not going to lie, I gave this advice to myself. It was "Do. Epic. Shit." I gave myself this advice after the first run at Mt. Rainier I mentioned above. 

Most Inspirational Runner: This is impossible to pic just one. I am incredibly lucky to get to run with a local running group called High Heels Running Group. It is a group of badass women who trail run and meet weekly for runs around the Seattle area. Every one of those women inspires me. Simply hearing them talk about their race accomplishments made me realize that ultra running was something I could attempt- and fall in love with! 

Favorite Picture From a Run or Race: There were several for me, I have posted them all above. My favorite picture for someone else was this one I took of Ellen on our run at Mt. Rainier:

Doesn't even look real, does it?

Race Experience You Would Repeat: I am not sure if this point was for an entire race experience, but I want to pick one experience in an otherwise kind of tough race. It was at the Deception Pass 50k when I made a friend and we ran together for the last 10-ish miles of the race. We were the last runners for the last part of the race and we really helped motivate each other to the finish. It turned a run that had become dreadful and grueling in to something that was really wonderful. I really loved watching her finish her first 50k, too! This might be my new favorite thing: helping other runners finish their first 50k. Will be doing it again with my friend Tara in a few months!

Finishing up a tough race.

Sum Up Your Year in a Couple of Words: Epic. Shit. I feel like this year I have time and time again stretched the limits of what I thought I could do and it's only made my desire to figure out what else? that much stronger. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

50k Recovery

50k recovery has been going swimmingly. I was limping pretty good on Sunday, but that was the worst of it. My knee was in rough shape! Likely it didn't help that I had to sit in the car for about three hours to get home after the race and then sit in the car again the next day to go to Great Wolf Lodge with my family. I spent all day Sunday just sitting or laying around and reading-- no water slides for me! By Monday I was feeling normal, save a bit of exhaustion from everything. I even climbed the stairs, pain-free, for a few water slides by Monday night. Woo hoo!

Heading in to the 50k I knew I would take at least a week off of all exercise afterwards-- this wasn't that hard as it was a pretty busy week with work and pre-Christmas activities and things going on for my girls. It didn't feel like much a break, unfortunately, but some rest is better than none! 

After a conversation with my chiropractor on Friday we decided the best thing for me was to take a break from running through the new year. By January 2nd I will have been off for three weeks and hopefully have had enough rest to start clearing up some nagging issues that stuck around up to the 50k. My right hip has been . . . interesting, but never bugged me while running. Then my left knee joined in on the fun, busting out some pain during the race. Want to make sure that doesn't turn in to full blown ITBS!

On Saturday I joined my running group at Cougar Mountain and had a nice little walk with three other girls while everyone else ran. Having never been on those trails without running them, it felt a little strange, but good. We walked for just over an hour then had coffee. So much easier than my usual multi-hour runs! 

There are currently three races that I am signed up, with two more to come as soon as their sign ups open. Eek! If that isn't just me taunting the injury gods, I'm not sure what is.

Here's what's coming up:

January 9th-- Bridle Trails Winter Trail Running Festival. I am on a team running a 50k, so it's 5 or 6 miles for me.

March 19th-- Chuckanut 50k

April 17th-- Yakima Skyline Rim 25k

May 21st-- Sun Mountain 50 mile

August 21st-- Squamish 50k


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

There Will Be Adventure: Race Recap of the Deception Pass 50k

Being blown down the trail near the start.
Photo from Glenn Tachiyama.

Heading in to the Deception Pass 50k, I wasn't feeling entirely confident. I had trained, yes, but life being what it was, I would have rather done just about anything than run a 50k that day. Since I knew the weather was going to be challenging, and I knew it wasn't going to be a fast (for me) day, I came up these three goals for the race: to remain present, enjoy the journey no matter the weather, and stay under the cut-offs.

The day started with a 4:30 a.m. alarm. I headed north from Seattle and arrived at Deception Pass in the pitch black. The weather was already threatening: lots of wind, but no rain yet.

After checking in and getting my bib (lucky #7!) I hunkered down in my car and arranged my things, waiting for the race to start. Once it got close to go time, I joined the crowd of runners at the starting area -- an unmarked spot in the parking lot. The race director, James Varner, gave the pre-race announcements along with some news: he might cut the race short at 11 miles. Strong winds were moving through and making for a potentially dangerous situation. I'm not going to lie, after how exhausting the previous week was, I did a small prayer that the race would be shortened. Despite standing in the group of runners it still hadn't sunk in that I was about to run a 50k. I eyed the sky as I hoped my rain jacket would hold up, my hands would stay warm, and that I made the right decision in donning shorts.

Lucky.

Then we were off! I stuck near the back and moved slowly. Since my Garmin no longer holds a charge for longer than about 6 1/2 hours, I decided to wear it simply as a watch instead of turning on the GPS. I have no idea what my pace was at any point during the race. Instead, I ran by feel. This worked out well... I never had a single moment of panic because I never knew my pace! 

The trails wound through Deception Pass State Park, which was absolutely breathtaking. Sometimes we ran under under thick tree cover, sometimes out along the water. In the trees I couldn't really feel the wind, but once out in the open it hit hard. Mostly I didn't mind it. In fact it cooled me down a bit since I was pretty warm in my rain jacket. The only time I found the wind downright awful was when the course took us over the Deception Pass bridge--twice. I held my baseball hat in one hand and kept my other hovered over the railing, ready to grab on whenever I lost my balance a bit. I couldn't even look up to see the view!

Picture
Course map.

As I passed through the aid station at mile 7.3 I asked a volunteer how close I was to the cut-off. He said I was 45 minutes under so I was cautiously excited. I was doing well, but there was a lot of race left. I grabbed some snacks and Gu Brew at this aid station and moved on. 

The first half of the race was so much fun. I loved the trails, which weren't too muddy and held a lot of fun climbs and sweeping views. The climb up Goose Rock might have been my favorite part-- steep switchbacks and views for miles. I felt great and my effort level remained comfortable.

During the race random songs kept popping in to my head, including one of my nine year old's favorites: "Stitches" by Shawn Mendes. "And now that I'm without your kisses, I'll be needing stitches . . . ." echoed through my brain. It made me laugh. 

I ran with others who enjoyed chatting a bit and there were several spots where we crossed paths with runners coming towards us. Almost everyone said some version of "good job" and it was nice to feel this sense of community. I even had the chance to meet some folks who I had only previously known on social media and that was really great.

Eventually I realized the RD wasn't calling the race short and a bit later I passed by him on the trail. He asked me if I was having fun, to which I replied "Yes, I am!" And I truly was. In that moment, at least, I was very happy to keep running.

Picture
Elevation profile. I think almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain?

Once I hit the aid station at about mile 15 I was finally starting to feel the effects of the hard work. It was so great to see some friendly faces, awesome ladies from the High Heels Running Group, working the Cornet Bay aid station. I grabbed some snacks and drinks and headed out to do my first of two big loops. 

During the first loop things got difficult. My outer left knee started throbbing in pain. I knew the feeling: the dreaded IT band. I hadn't felt it in a few years, so was confused why it was showing up now. The trails in the loop were much more difficult than the first part of the race, with lots of puddles and some difficult ups and downs in solid mud. We were shielded from the wind down on the trails, but the tall trees swayed violently overhead. There were many trees down on the trail, as well, turning the race in to a bit of an obstacle course. Over or under? Sometimes I was crawling, sometimes I was hoisting myself up over tree trunks. The rain was fairly constant most of the afternoon, but thankfully I never felt completely soaked. 

I spent the last few miles of that loop in a very low spot. I had no idea how long the loop was and just kept thinking: "it has to be over soon, I've been out here forever!" I went back and forth in my head, wondering if I needed to drop out because of my knee. I walked for a while, contemplating my foolishness for thinking I could even consider a 50 mile race next Spring when I was falling apart this far in to a 50k. I ran my fingers along the hem of my Cascade Crest 100 shirt from volunteering last summer, which was serving as a reminder of my ultimate goal of finishing that race. It felt completely out of reach in that moment. Finally I decided to make a plan for the aid station: first, figure out where I was on the course and how long that damn loop was and then grab some ibuprofen and swap out my wet buff from my drop bag in hopes of helping my body feel better.

After situating things at the aid-station, I was still ahead of cut-offs (though I assume just barely) so I semi-reluctantly ventured back out again. I decided my knee would hold, and so there was no solid reason to drop out. There was really nothing to do but finish the darn thing. 

On the way out of the aid station I came upon a runner I had previously seen at the top of Goose Rock. We chatted and walked together and she mentioned she was struggling a bit. Not feeling too great myself, I appreciated her company. We decided to stick together and it made the idea of doing that loop again much more tolerable. 

With some walking, some running, some chatting, and even a bit of laughing, I was surprised at how fun that second loop was, especially after the significant amount of dread I had going in to it. My knee felt a little better, good enough to keep moving at least. I repeatedly reminded myself of my three goals. Despite a small rough patch I was "back in the game," nearing the end, and hitting each goal. 

My new friend and I came through the aid station at about mile 28 and were told we were the last runners out on the course. This was shocking news; I knew we had fallen back in the pack but there were still several runners that I knew had to be behind us. Apparently they weren't allowed to head out to do the second loop because of the strict cut-offs. I felt simultaneously sad and excited by this news-- "last?! How in the world?" And also: "We weren't cut off!" After that aid station it was up the road for a bit before ducking back on to the trails. We came upon another runner and landed in a great spot to take a commemorative photo:

This was the only photo I got with my phone all day.

We kept winding around some technical trails trying to figure out exactly where the finish line was. It felt like it would be "just around the corner" but over and over it wasn't. Since I didn't know the mileage I kept asking my friend where we were. Finally we heard the cheers from the finish line: we were close! We dropped down on to the parking lot from the trail. Through the parking lot, wondering where exactly we needed to go, a volunteer directed us towards the finish line. We turned the corner on to the gravel path and, as we approached. I heard someone shout my name. I don't know who it was, but it sure felt amazing to hear! High fives to James and with that the race was over. 7 hours, 48 minutes and 27 seconds after I started. Like, whoa.

The smile was not forced!
Photo near the finish by Glenn Tachiyama.

I went through just about every range of emotion out on the course and finished feeling strong and happy. Joining friends for a beer and food in the shelter after the race was icing on the cake. It felt perfect.

Driving home after the race pretty much sucked, my knee was not thrilled. But I had a smile from ear to ear and certainly increased my level of badassery a notch or two. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Race Goals: Just Finish

Checking in really quick while baby is sleeping. Have I mentioned my fantastic nannying gig? While typically I don't have so much sitting around time to fit in other things, this morning I do. Christmas shopping on Amazon and blogging FTW!

Here's the deal: Despite 13 good, solid weeks of training, I am not very excited about this weekend's 50k. I can't find a good reason to not do it other than "I just don't feel like it", so I'll be on that starting line early Saturday morning. When I signed up for the race I managed to completely miss three things that make life a bit extra stressful.

First: it's the holiday season, which means my attention, time and money are drawn in a million more directions than usual. No matter how much you give of any of those things, it is extremely easy to feel like it's no where near enough. UGH. GUILT.

Second: Um, hello RAINY SEASON. It's been dumping buckets in the Pacific Northwest-- and that isn't unusual. Why didn't I plan for this??? Grand Ridge was awful, Point Defiance was awful, the weather at both just like it is being predicted for this weekend. I have new gloves. I plan to try and stay warm, at least, even if I can't stay dry. 

Third: I am working now, and even being occupied with that a few hours a week means my non-work hours are that much more packed with stuff I need to get done. It isn't fun.

All of that said, I absolutely loved my last Rainshadow race, and I assume this one will be just as awesome. There will be a great field of runners (no loneliness out on the trail!) and the aid stations and finish line should be amazing. Despite the weather, and my stress level, I have high hopes that the race is enjoyable. I pushed myself too hard at my training races, and I hope to NOT do that at Deception Pass. My goal is to just finish, and feel okay. I don't want to try and beat any times other than the cut-offs.

My family leaves for Great Wolf Lodge the next day, which was either an awesome or terrible decision on my part, that remains to be seen. The car ride will stink for sore legs, but I will have a great excuse for lots of R-n-R at the waterpark! A book in one hand, cocktail in the other, ahhhhh.

The GWL trip will also be the first few days of a short-ish break for me. Very limited running, more focus on things like yoga and gentle strength training, at least through the holidays. I have some aches and pains to clear up and a level of exhaustion to bring back to normal. Oh, and a little thing called motivation that I seem to have misplaced.

Recently Swim Bike Mom wrote a blog post on motivation vs. discipline that seriously rang true for me. I suggest you read it if you struggle with the same thing. It was a good reminder that we continue to work for goals we've set because we are disciplined, not because we have an unlimited supply of motivation. That idea has dragged me out the door more than a few times in the past several weeks!

See you on the other side . . . 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Well That Was Awful: Race Recap of the Grand Ridge Marathon

I should have known that the day would be a bit rough. The forecast was 100% chance of rain and temps in the high 40's. However, being a true PNWer, I didn't let the weather deter me, I had a new rain jacket and an adventurous spirit!

Turns out that wasn't quite enough.

Last year I ran this race as a goal several years in the making. That day was cold but dry, and an absolute blast. This year it was simply a training run, mentally and physically challenging, and cold and wet. 

The "gun" went off at 8:00 am. and from the start I attempted to remind myself to hold a very comfortable pace. The rain was pouring down, but I was cozy in my jacket. Life was good until the first stream crossing just over two miles in. I knew my feet would eventually get wet, that was a given, but a tricky stream crossing in water over ankle deep that early on was frustrating. I ran up to the stream and muttered "holy shit". The woman behind me ran up and said the same thing, which made me laugh.

Shortly after the stream crossing I got hot and slid off my hood. Huge mistake. 

The run was quite lonely from the get-go, so I was especially excited to see a friend hanging out at the first aid station. Then at the first turn-around, about two hours in, I met up with a couple of ladies that were a lot of fun to chat with. One runner who does ironmans and the other who has run 100 mile races. Despite wanting to continue to run with them, I decided I needed to speed up to get to the finish line/half-way point where I would meet my friend Belia. She came out to run the second half of the race with me and I told her I would be there to meet her three hours in to the run. 

Belia navigating a stream crossing.

Unfortunately, once I got to her I was already feeling done. I think I set far too aggressive of a goal when I said I would be at the half way point in three hours. That is faster pace than last year's marathon, and this was just a training run. What was I thinking?!

The wheels came off on the second out-and-back. My shoes were starting to fill with tiny rocks-- not exactly sure how, but guessing they came from the stream crossings as I don't typically have issues with rocks in my shoes. To add insult to injury, whenever I bent over to take my shoe off a bunch of water poured over my shoulder. My jacket hood, which I took off earlier when I was hot, was collecting rain. Lovely.

A section of trail that was now a raging river.

Eventually I got cold again, probably because I was moving so much slower, but I couldn't put my hood back since it was full of water. And the third time I bent over the water in my hood went down the inside of my jacket. My hands were freezing. The "flip mitts" on my jacket were a great idea in theory but eventually my hands and my mitts were soaking wet. I either had to tuck wet mitts in to my sleeves or let them flop on my hands, neither being a great option. 

My nose was running faster than the streams. My glasses kept sliding down my nose. Despite my attempts to empty my shoes of rocks I couldn't ever quite get all of them. My body hurt. Hamstrings, hips, feet, everything. My Garmin died less than two miles from the finish line. Wah wah wah.

To say my spirits were low is an understatement. Mostly my thoughts centered around "this is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? No way am I going to run Deception Pass if the weather is like this."

And to make matters feel even worse, my time was abysmal. Last year I ran the race in 6:15. My (stupid, far too aggressive) hope was to meet or beat that time. This year? 6:51. 

The only thing saving me was Belia's company. If not for her I would likely still be curled up on the side of the trail somewhere crying. She was encouraging, upbeat, and kept a nice steady pace for me to work off of. 

At the finish line Belia and I were completely drenched, freezing and muddy. We high tailed it straight to her car where we huddled in and somehow managed to wrangle out of our running clothes. Then it was off to a restaurant for beers and burgers. It took most of the meal for both of us to stop shivering.

I don't think this picture conveys how disgusting these shoes really are.
Photo taken the next day, which was lovely, dry, and sunny!

It took a few days of going over and over the myriad frustrations and mistakes from the marathon to figure out what I would do differently next time. Will touch on that in another post.

* * * * *

It was somewhere around mile 22-ish that I swore I would never run the Grand Ridge marathon again. I know that runners, particularly trial and ultra runners, are a hardy bunch, but I need a little more  . . . comfort, I guess.

In a race I need the company of more runners around me. This is the third small, local marathon I have done, and each one had very few runners in the marathon distance. It makes for a long, lonely day on the trails.

The aid stations (well, mostly just the one I used in the middle of each out-and-back) was basically stocked. I heard rumors of it having bacon, but I never saw it. I needed more real food (not sugary carbs), and I should have just carried that with me. I have no idea what was offered at the finish line, because I didn't touch any of it. I was simply too cold and wet to do anything other than make a beeline for Belia's warm, dry car.

Some of us had been out there running for 7+ hours, and there was not so much as an offer of a space blanket to warm us up at the finish.There wasn't a spot to dry off and warm up at the finish line (other than porta potties?).  Of course, runners could leave a drop bag at the half-way point/finish line, but it was laughable. Fortunately I double bagged my gear, as it was sitting in a pool of water when I finished. There wasn't even shelter for the gear or a dry place to swap things out. And times when I needed to sit down and deal with my shoes, there was nowhere to sit at the aid station.

I just don't want to pay to run another lonely marathon (actually, to be clear, not lonely, because I dragged Belia out-- but I didn't need a race for that!). For my race fee I got a bib number, a handful of Chips Ahoy and a few small cups of nuun. The course was lovely, but I have run it several times. Honestly, I think I would have rather run some shorter loops around Cougar with friends, swinging back to a car to change clothes or shoes and refuel in shelter.

Despite all of this complaining-- I do appreciate the efforts of those who worked hard to put the race on. The volunteers were out there for a very long time, and it was no less cold and wet for them!

Glad this marathon is behind me, and I can learn from it and hopefully have a great race at Deception Pass. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Joy of a Running Group and My Third Marathon

I first ran with the High Heel Running Group in April 2012. It was over two years later that I visited them again for a run. I know, what?! If memory serves, that second run was August-ish 2014.

That second run was good, there were only three of us, so that made it super easy for me to fit in to the group. The next few times I showed up I felt so incredibly intimidated. All these amazing trail running women and then lil' ol' me! Being an introvert who was very new to trail running, it was difficult for me to figure out where I fit in. After a few runs and getting to know a handful of group members more one-on-one, it got much easier. Faces became familiar. The route became second nature. I got more comfortable chatting with the girls. Then I even, (crazy!), made some friends. It's been a really fun group to not only run with, but use as a resource. The HHRG is literally the only reason I haven't deactivated my facebook account-- I need to keep up with what's happening with the group!

It isn't always easy for me to stick my neck out and make new friends, so I am glad this group exists, and that I have been not only outgoing enough, but patient enough with myself to find my place in it.

My very favorite thing  about the group runs is when I end up sharing a bunch of miles with another runner I just met at the trailhead and the conversation flows super easily.

Last Sunday I had that exact sort of run. It wasn't an HHRG sanctioned run (those are on Saturday) but it was with women who are part of that group. Had such a wonderful time. It was my last run before this coming Saturday's marathon. MARATHON. My third one, and I am again running the Grand Ridge marathon, which was the same one I did last fall as my first ever marathon.

Part of me is looking forward to it, part of me isn't. I tend to get easily bored, so re-running routes I know well, or worse, doing loops multiple times in one run, is so tedious. This race will hold both of these challenges for me. Besides getting in a good, solid long run, the marathon will be perfect practice in mental strength.

On a tangent, I listened to a wonderful Trail Runner Nation podcast the other day on my five hour run. It was an interview with Matt Fitzgerald about his new book called "How Bad Do You Want It?" and they chatted about mental strength. Oh, man. It resonated with me. I think for me it's not so much about pushing myself harder, but rather, do I have the mental strength to be out there for hours upon hours to reach my goals. I remember when an hour run felt insanely long, then I ran for two hours in a half marathon, then there was my first time running over two hours, then I pushed further and further. I ran for four hours. Then I ran for six hours and 15 minutes in the marathon before going for six hours and 59 minutes in the 50k. Then I went for over seven hours on Mt. Rainier. Twice.

But that's still nothing compared to a hundred miler. Do I have it in me to run for 30+? As an ultrarunner, a huge part of the challenge can come from just wrapping your brain around that challenge. Because your legs will follow. So I will practice that on Saturday.

As of now the weather looks less than favorable for the marathon. Last year it was below freezing. This year it looks like it will be wet, wet, wet. The trails will be more difficult simply because of mud. What that means for me is likely a slower race than last year.

But! I did finally settle on a new rain jacket. I ordered five and ended up keeping the one I knew I wanted all along: the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket.

Women's Ultra Jacket
Hello, lovely.

I also tried the Outdoor Research Helium II and the Patagonia Houdini, both in men's and women's sizes. Before I ever even set foot outside I knew the UD jacket was the one. It has so many more features than the other jackets! And, well, costs quite a bit more than the other ones, too, let's not beat around the bush. But it honestly fit me better than any other jacket, so that was what sealed the deal. 

This jacket will travel with me on Saturday. Looking forward to its company. Marathon #3, here I come!


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Solid Runs and New Gear

Finally, finally!, I feel like I had a really solid week of training. One really solid week spells success for my upcoming 50k, right?! Let's hope so.

Last Sunday I had a five hour run on the training calendar. Yes, five hours. That seems kind of ridiculous, right? It turns out that when I allow myself to just sink in to the enjoyment of the time on the trails, five hours can be really wonderful. This past weekend we had some crazy weather move in to the area that seriously threatened to thwart my training. The original plan was to meet a few ladies for a run on Rattlesnake Mountain. Unfortunately rain and wind advisories scared off several of the runners (with very good reason! Mountains can be a dangerous place when trees are falling and ground is sliding out from under you!) But my faithful adventurers Belia and Lisa still wanted to get out there and check it out. Just to see. Forecast be damned! After some back and forth and a change of trails in case we needed to bail due to weather, we got in a glorious 3+ hour run. There ended up being no rain and very little wind. What's up with that, forecast?! I went around and around in my head about what to do about my scheduled five hour run and just decided to get the rest of the time in after getting back home from the trails. I dropped off Lisa then drove home, walked in the door, said hi to the family, changed my shoes, then headed outside for more miles. 

I fit in my full five hours. It was fantastic. Yes, I was tired when I was done, but mostly I just felt awesome. 

The next day was a one hour recovery run, and that, too, felt great. Usually my recovery runs are the hardest of the week-- stiff, heavy legs make for sluggish running.

Less than two weeks until the marathon, just over a month until the 50k!

Remember the fancy new running pack I was all excited about?  I returned it. Turns out that it really wasn't the right pack for me. There were a few major issues with it, the biggest being that the fit ended up being all wrong. Can't fix that! I wore it on one run and it was just bad news. Don't even get me started on the soft flask bottles feeling like external floppy breasts on my chest (and really don't get me started on what it felt like to drink from them!). Fortunately, the shop I bought it from was super obliging when I brought it back.

I couldn't leave the running store empty-handed, however, so I got a new pair of road shoes to replace my Sauconys that are wearing out. I went with a pair of Pearl Izumi Road N3s, which I have high hopes of loving as much as I love my Pearl Izumi Trail M2s. My first run in them, which involved hill sprints, went wonderfully! More cushion than I am used to in a road shoe, which felt nice and cozy.

SHADOW GREY/BLUE METHYL
Mama's got new kicks!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Volunteering and Pain in the Butt

Last weekend I volunteered for the last Cougar Mountain Race Series race of the, uh, series. It was my third time volunteering for this race series and I have enjoyed it every time!

This time I signed on to be a course sweeper. Since I had a 5-ish hour run on my schedule I figured I could take care of both volunteering and running at the same time. Little did I know it can be difficult to run very much when you are a course sweeper. There is so much to carry!

Good look for me, no?

I swept the first ten miles of the course and then ran three more miles on my own. It took me four and a half hours! Lugging all the course markings was tricky, but a few sections were also pretty steep, so it made for a slow moving day. Despite my snails' pace I still worked my booty off. I definitely appreciated my plan that has me training by time and not mileage. If I had to run by mileage that day I would have been out there much, much longer. So, it was good. I rewarded my effort with a sandwich, chips and cherry coke from Jimmy Johns. Yum. 

Sweeping the race was a good end to a tough training week.

A few things ate in to my usual training time: my youngest daughter broke her thumb at school, so she was home from school and we had to visit a few different doctors.. My husband had a birthday. There was a lot of delicious treats and fun celebrating involved there! So I just tried to appreciate the extra rest time and not freak out.

Fit in one run that went in to the dark of night. 
Definitely not hit by a car!

Something is going on in my right hip/booty area. My chiro thinks it is a tendon. The specific area is new pain (of course!) so that's odd. Maybe it was feeling left out? Since it doesn't actually hurt while running I have the tentative go-ahead to keep running, so I will!

It's two weeks to the marathon (that is a training run). Six weeks to the 50k! Would be lying if I didn't say I was excited about my self-imposed break over the winter holidays. Definitely laying low between the 50k and the new year. Then it's training time for the Sun Mountain 50 miler! I already have the same nervous feelings about that race as I did around this time last year when I thought about running the Sun Mountain 50k. Like, whoa