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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Money Can't Buy Happiness, but It Can Buy New Gear

Ugh.

Recovery after the Point Defiance 30k was much harder than it should have been. I was very, very sore. The rest of my runs that next week were mostly good (except for a 3 mile birthday shuffle on Monday), but were all followed by unusual soreness. A six mile run on Friday left me achy the rest of the afternoon. What in the world?!

I still don't know exactly what's up, but it has meant that I need to make sure I am being more gentle with myself. Saturday was an unscheduled rest day, Sunday I cut an hour off of my long run. It was the right call, but I would be lying if I said it didn't make me nervous. The main thought that circles my brain center around: "how can I be ready for a race while missing workouts?" 

Sunday's long run was so much fun. As a member of the High Heels Running Group I have participated in plenty of group runs but have often been unsuccessful in finding buddies from the group for random runs I wanted to do. Until this weekend, that is! Ten girls joined in my run on Sunday morning! It was so awesome. I really enjoyed chatting with women I hadn't met before and catching up with those I had. We started before the sun came up, so for about 30 minutes our headlamps lit up the trail. It was my first run with my new headlamp and I really enjoyed it, the experience was easier than I thought it would be.

This is the headlamp I bought (thanks mom and dad for the birthday money!):

Black Diamond ReVolt.
I particularly love the color!

I bought a new running pack this week, as well. It was a huge investment, but necessary. I just can't go out and do 7+ hour runs in the wilderness without the ability to carry more gear. I love, love, love my Ultra Vesta, but it only holds 4L worth of stuff. My new "S-LAB ADV SKIN3 12SET" (yes, I copied/pasted that, what a crazy long name!) holds 12L (hence the "12 set"). There are approximately eight million pockets on the thing, give or take a few. 

S-LAB ADV SKIN3 12SET RD

I am a bit annoyed, however, that this pack seems to really work best with a Salomon bladder. After taking out a second mortgage on my house to afford this thing I wasn't about to drop more $$$ on that specific bladder, so I am trying to figure out how to use the Camelbak one I have. Trying being the operative word, I can't quite figure out how to keep the bladder secure and thread the hose out to a spot I can easily access it. You would think this stuff would be obvious, but not to me. It should come with a tutorial.

Between that pack and my Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta I am all set for just about anything I should want to do for the foreseeable future. 

And speaking of foreseeable future, I just heard about registration for the Gorge Waterfalls 50k. The lottery opens this coming week. It would be the perfect long training run for the Sun Mountain 50 miler! Am I feeling lucky???

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Visiting the Oregon Coast

Last August my family had a lovely vacation on the Oregon coast. I have lived in Seattle for 14 years (that is INSANE!) and had never been to the Oregon or the Washington coast before. It was definitely time-- and I can't wait to go back!

We stayed in Waldport, OR in the best rental house-- it's always fun when the rentals are nicer than the house you live in! The house was on the peninsula between Alsea Bay and the ocean. My parents graciously offered to rent the house for us, and despite having zero knowledge of the area themselves I don't think they could have picked a better location. We could see the bay from the back windows of the house, which was home to all sorts of critters, including seals! At night the Alsea Bay bridge was lit up, it was just gorgeous. 

The drive down from Seattle was a little looooong (as was the drive home), but we got to stop for Dutch Bros! 

Coconut mocha. Mmmmm.

Not surprisingly, I woke up on the first morning and headed out for a run. Down across the Alsea Bay bridge then on to the sand along the ocean. Having never run on sand before, I thought it was an extremely fun experience. At low tide the exposed beach was very flat and the sand was the perfect firmness. 
 
Looking back at the peninsula from the Alsea Bay bridge.

Driftwood sculpture on the beach.

Feet selfie with bird footprints.

After breakfast it was time to build our own driftwood huts. Apparently that's a thing on the ocean.

Checking out a hut we found.

Figuring out how to start the structure.

Big enough for half a girl!

Eloise and her new home.

We also learned how to go crabbing and clamming from the Alsea Bay Interpretive Center. Unfortunately being there in town just a few days meant it wasn't really feasible for us to buy all of the gear we'd need to really get in to it, but we did rent a crab net and buy some gloves and a license to try it out.

The girls spent the next few days digging up clams-- they mostly found purple varnish and heart cockles, and Matt tried his hand at catching crabs. Unfortunately we couldn't keep any of the crabs he caught as they were either too small or were females. It was still fun to try!

One of the crab hauls. No keepers.

Child labor.

Her first clam!

Eloise's birthday fell during our vacation and we nudged her in to the idea of going horseback riding. After breakfast and presents the girls and my mom and I headed south down Hwy 101 to C&M Stables. My husband and dad weren't so in to it. It was mostly a great experience-- the ride went on some beautiful trails over to the beach before heading down the sand, then back up and returns to the stables. The ride on the trails was great, but the wind was so crazy strong that the part on the beach was downright miserable. And the bones in my booty region hurt. 

Look like a natural, huh? I was riding Sandman.

Eloise on Zeus.

Iris on Bailey.

On the beach. Much windier than it appears.

We had Eloise's birthday dinner at Grand Central Pizza, which was far better than we thought it was going to be! The waitress was so nice, she brought a plate of cookies to our table along with a Good Humor ice cream cone for the birthday girl.

Of course, we still went back to the rental house and had birthday cake! 

Eloise picked German Chocolate.

The next morning the girls, my mom and I ventured to go kayaking in Alsea Bay. I absolutely loved this activity! We rented the kayaks from the Kayak Shack, which is run by Waldport High School. We paddled out in to the bay to watch the seals. There were dozens of them! Many were sleeping on the shore, several were swimming in the water around us. They were curious but didn't come too close. It was amazing. Unfortunately the little buggers were hard to photograph, so alas no pictures.

Intrepid paddlers.

Watching for seals.

My mom and Iris.

That afternoon my parents, the girls, Matt and I went down to Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachats (which was south of Waldport). Cape Perpetua is in the Siuslaw National Forest and is just gorgeous. The plan was for me to run on the trails while everyone else explored the shore, then we would all meet up to poke around a little more before heading back to Waldport. 

The trails in Cape Perpetua are beautiful and well groomed! It was a tough run, despite the weather being fairly mild, it felt pretty warm and muggy in the woods. 

View of the ocean from the Oregon Coast Trail South.

Signs at first intersection-- the trails are very well marked!


Bridge near the end.


I started at the visitor's center then went south on the Oregon Coast Trail South, east on Gwynn Creek Trail, then west on Cook's Ridge Trail back to the visitor's center. It was about 6 miles.

The run was tough, it was uphill more than half of the way, so it was a lot of hiking for me. I would recommend running that loop the reverse of what I did and get your climbing out of the way in a shorter, steeper burst!

Some pictures from exploring along the ocean:

I think this was by Devil's Churn.

Family portait in the tunnel under Hwy 101.

Happy Iris.

The next morning it was already time to head home . . . but not before one last stop. My parents showed us a cool little spot called Seal Rock just north of Waldport on Hwy 101. 

Climbing.

Iris in the mist.

The seals were out there.

It was a perfect vacation-- equal parts relaxation and adventure. I definitely can't wait to visit the Oregon coast again!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Race Recap: Defiance 30k (Take Two)

What a difference a year (and a deluge!) makes!

This year's Defiance 30k was a pretty different experience from last year's. Which is okay! I am glad it wasn't the same race--how boring would that be? Unfortunately this go around was definitely more difficult. 

Heading in to the race the weather report was pretty unrelenting in it's prediction of rain, rain and more rain. Leading up to the race it was 100% chance of rain. Okay, I like rain. Bring on the rain! I would live to regret that attitude.

As I drove south to Point Defiance park in Tacoma very early on Saturday morning it was dumping buckets. My nerves threatened to become totally shot before I even made it to the start line. While I am generally okay running in the rain, I absolutely hate driving in it. Thankfully it let up and most of the drive was deluge-free.

Pre-race things were pretty chill. I was able to find Belia and her family, and say hi to a couple of friends who were there to run the 30k as well. Picking up my bib was easy, except for my age being listed as 45 (?!) so I had to sort that out-- you know, in case I was eligible for any AG awards (ha!).

It was cloudy and rain-free as the race started. Perfect running weather, despite the canopy of the trees making the trail feel a bit muggy. Belia and I started the race together and it didn't feel as crowded as it did last year, which was nice. 

That's me on the far left. Photo by Belia's mom. 


We weren't too far in to the first of two loops (each one is about 10 miles, not 15k) when the skies opened up. It was dumping rain. Huge puddles quickly formed on the trails and there was even one lovely section where a small raging river flowed right down the middle of the trail. Runners didn't even need to run through puddles to get their feet soaked-- shoes were filling with water from above. 

By the time we reached the aid station half way through the first lap we were as soaked as we could possible get. The aid station was fantastic, lots of volunteers and plenty to eat and drink. I grabbed a small package of Oreos, ate a couple, then stuffed the rest in my running pack. I moved through the rest of that first lap thinking I was working far harder than I really should have been for the first half of such a long race. The puddles were relentless, but I ran right through them, thankful they were mostly very shallow.

The steep downhill right before the finish line, the one where you have to hang on to ropes to keep from sliding down the cliff, was pretty treacherous. Last year it was very fun, but it was also very dry. This year there it was basically mud the whole way down. 

Belia and I finished the first lap and said hi to her family (her smart brothers ran the 15k so they were all done running and all cozy wrapped up in space blankets), hit the porta potties, and headed back out. I was thankful for her company as I was ready to bag the rest of the race! The rain and my low energy were making for a tough day. At that point it was pretty clear any random goals I had of besting last year's time were out the window.

The second loop was better, weather-wise. There were occasional sun breaks and only a little rain. The trails cleared up significantly, most of the puddles and rivers disappeared. My legs were more sore than I would have liked and I felt like I had weights around my ankles. Of course, shoes soaked with water and mud has to add a decent amount of weight! 

Just before the aid station half way through the second lap we were passed by a group of five guys all running the 50k. They were funny and a nice break in the quiet of the trails. As we hit the aid station we ran in to a girl who was running the 50k who was having a lonely go of it on the second loop. She ran with us a bit and it was nice to chat some. 

About four miles from the finish I finally started feeling really good and decided it was time to use the flat section of trails to finish strong. I took off running as fast as I could (which wasn't actually that fast) and slowly but surely began catching up to the group of 50k guys. It became my goal to pass them before the finish. I powered through, passed them by charging through some puddles they were tip-toeing around, then took off down the final stretch of road before ducking back in to the woods for the rope descent. Yes, they were running the 50k, but it made me feel good to "beat" them to the finish, haha. I even broke out my hard sprint to the finish line, probably looking a little silly!

Everything hurts and I'm dying. Photo by Belia's mom.

My finish time was 4:30:55, over half an hour slower than 2014 . . . and fifth out of five in my AG. Whomp whomp.

In hindsight I can say it was a fun race, though in the middle of it I wasn't having that much fun. It was a very hard race.

Soaking wet girls post-race. Photo by Belia's brother.

The Defiance race also had a few new positive (and one negative) points about it compared to 2014. I loved that I could register for the race and pay for a shirt separately. Learned my lesson last year and did NOT get a shirt this time. I also loved that we got a free pint glass at the finish! This year you could also use a tag from your race bib to get a free beer at a local place after the race. I didn't take advantage, but it was a great offer. This year they had a photographer, too. Yay! Drowned rat pictures! Haha. Better than what they had last year, which was nothing. The major negative is the course didn't seem as well marked this year. I overheard a runner telling someone that the markings were being messed with, which sucks, but at any rate, there were a few spots on the very twisty course that we were unsure about. Luckily Belia and I didn't get lost.

It was a good "character building" training run, and I excited to move on to the rest of my 50k training! 

Friday, October 09, 2015

Running in to Fall

And just like that, my running anniversary has come around again. It's been four years since I fell in love! So much has changed since that first run, but even more has changed over the past year.

Last Sunday's four hour run (which ended up being just over 16 miles) was fantastic. I felt strong the entire time, just a bit tired at the end. Throughout the run I was reminded of the first time I ran 16 miles, which was a year ago that same weekend. I was training for the Point Defiance 30k. My friend Stacey practically had to drag me through, I was seriously struggling! 

Since that first 16 mile run I have run 16 or more miles at least a dozen times. Not all of them amazing runs, but none of them as tough as that first one. It felt so impossible the first time, but now is a manageable long run.

Tomorrow I am running the Point Defiance 30k again, this time as a training run for the Deception Pass 50k. The weather? 100% chance of rain! This actually doesn't bother me at all-- in fact, I love running in the rain!-- but it's a pretty long run, and I am wondering how tough a couple of spots on the trail will be (including the last steep downhill that requires a rope). So, a four-ish hour mudfest it is. 

Running lately has felt great. I am slacking on everything else (stretching, strength, etc) but running? Perfecto. Wednesday's 60 minute run, with some hill sprints in the middle, was so much fun. I found the perfect hill, steep enough to make me work, not so steep I can't sprint up it with decent form. 

Part of my run on Wednesday. Not the hill.

So far I am thrilled with my new training plan. Running by minutes instead of distance takes a lot of the pressure off. Of course, having been through a 50k training cycle already, I feel more at ease all around-- I know I can do it. It's just a matter of how well trained I will be!  

I still need to post about my family's August vacation on the Oregon Coast (yes, two months ago!) and last week's camping trip on Mount Rainier. Here's a preview of how that went:

Eloise and I being photobombed by a mountain.