December 13, 2013

The End of the Season

What can I say...this has been one wild training season. Officially over.

This running year consisted of:

January 27 - Yeti Chase 5K

March 10 - Running of the Green 7K

May 4 - Greenland Trail 8M

May 12 - Westminster Women's Classic 10M

August 10 - Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon

August 17 - Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

August 24 - Mountain Chile Cha Cha Half Marathon

August 31 - Black Squirrel Half Marathon

November 2 - Heart Half Marathon

December 7 - North Face 50M San Francisco

That's ten races. Four of those were in the same month, just a week apart. This hasn't been my smartest training season.

Here's a recap from the North Face race this past weekend. As I'm sure every one who I've talked to or has been keeping up with the blog knows, I was not going into this race with a crazy level of confidence. If anything, it was the complete opposite. I had resigned my thoughts on any expectations at all, and maybe that's where part of my downfall spins from.

It was a semi stressful travel day the Friday before the race, with an airplane delay, traffic, lines, no food, on and on. I don't do well with race stress in a normal situation, so factor in all of the traveling stress, new location stress...and we have me - the giant stress monster.

Once we got situated in our very roach motel, I started the process of packing my drop bags, finish line gear, etc...going back and forth on what to wear due to the frequently changing weather reports. The rain proceeded to wake us up in the middle of the night sounding like a monsoon.

I woke up at 3:20 to start getting my gear on and then head over the street to the nicer looking Holiday Inn to catch the race shuttle to the start. It was chilly and damp, but the rain had stopped. Weather reports were calling for a cool, but beautiful day.

Before I knew it, we were off and I was passing under the arch and right by Dean Karnazes, fitting since he is (partially) the man that started this whole journey for me. For those of you who don't know Dean, he's a very well known ultrarunner. He's written some books and has a good track record.

We all ran off into the darkness, and almost straight into an uphill battle. I could see the headlamps snaking up the mountain in front of me, deceived at the thought of the uphill ending when I stopped seeing lights. It continued up the backside. Up, up, up. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. This is when I realized it would be a really tough breathing day for me. I made it to the top of that climb, alone, as the last 50 miler.

Then finally, the downhill. At first the downhill was fun. Then my body freaked out from the polar opposite effort of going uphill. It's not extremely easy to run downhill on a trail in the dark either. Add in a view of the Golden Gate Bridge every so often in between peaks and you got yourself a little trouble brewing. There were a few times I looked up to admire the view and WHOOP there's a rock. I had to remind myself to focus on my footing.

My hip felt like it locked at some point (in hindsight I believe it was a pinched nerve) and I slowed to a walk to calm a really terrible side stitch. I was clocking good time down the hill for a little bit. Then I noticed a headlamp running up from behind.

The sweep had caught up with me.

Some people might not mind being dead last and having the sweep constantly with them. Having been there more than once before, I can honestly tell you, I am not one of those people. For me, it is demoralizing. Can't they see me from a little bit behind, realize I'm still making progress and let me be on my journey alone? Why do they always feel the need to come up to me, make sure I'm okay, and then continue to walk/run with me? (I know, this is their job as the sweep...) Then I feel pressured to go faster than I feel like I should because here I am with a person who runs 100 milers for fun waiting on my slow butt to kick it in gear.

By the way, all the sweeps I have ever met have been some of the NICEST people. Salt of the running earth, I'm serious. This guy was no exception. We started chatting about how I was feeling and I gave him the quick run down: From Colorado. Hip locked. Bad training season. Not going to make it to the end. Already have a DNF with this distance.

He chatted a bit about how much he loves Colorado and how these hills must be nothing compared to where I live. I don't think people realize that the whole state is not one giant mountainous region and that I live in flat land.

He chatted about several prestigious Colorado races he has finished and attempted and then told me about how it took him four DNFs to finally nail down the 100 mile distance. He told me the first one stung like hell to quit (I can TOTALLY relate...hello cry fest at DC 50M), the second one was a learning experience, the third he shrugged off, and by the four he just didn't let it affect him.

He told me running needs to be fun. Why are we out there if it isn't fun? Or if it hurts? No one wants to drop out of a race. But as runners, you also don't want to continue on in a race which you know will do you harm and set you back. It seems to be one of the toughest things I've witnessed runners battle with. When is it the right time to bow out of a race for your own safety? Stubbornness often overtakes that logical part of your brain.

Then and there I had to ask myself:

Do I really think I can finish this race in the time allowed? No.
Do I think I can make it to the cutoff without inflicting more damage to myself? No.

When I put it that way, it left me with one option.

We ran into an aid station and I made the decision to bow out. I also made the decision that I would try my damnedest to not get upset over this.

I took a ride from the photographer back to the start and boarded the shuttle back to the hotel. I almost froze to death on the shuttle, returning to the hotel with blue lips. No joke.

I still think (mostly) that I made the right call. I have my moments where I have to listen to the battle in my brain saying I gave up too easily...that I didn't fight hard enough.

Eventually those voices quiet and I can concentrate on the road ahead.

So as we are turning the corner into a new running year, my focus will switch back to crossfit and overall body fitness. I am planning on running still once a week or whenever the mood strikes me. I want to enjoy working out again and look forward to it...not to have it as a chore. I want to gain some speed on my runs. I would like to do another trail half marathon to see the improvements.

And eventually, I want to rematch the 50 miler distance. I want to gain the speed necessary to keep me out of the very back of the pack, or at least not freaking out about time cutoffs and have a fully prepared body for the challenge.


Here's to new opportunities in 2014 and beyond.



December 05, 2013

Day of Reckoning T-2 Days

Well folks, the time has finally (almost) come.

Tomorrow I leave bright and early for the Golden State.


Yum. The official state meal. I just lied to you.



WTF

So last week, I checked the weather. It said in the 50s, sunny, awesome. Then the other day I checked again - 49, but still mostly sunny, 10% chance of rain.

AND THEN I CHECKED THE WEATHER TODAY. 50% chance of rain?!?!?!? Ugh. Combined with the Friday night rain and the 5am race start...I am not pleased.

So that means by tomorrow it will probably call for -1,000,000 degrees and fireballs shooting out of the earth every 10 feet.

Enjoy THAT 14 hour run.



I just can't even believe my luck right now. This whole training season has been a complete cluster f.

I need to repack my luggage and adjust for the change. And pray I don't get hypothermia.

I hate mud.

Remember this picture?
That was not a fun day for me!

I mean seriously. 50 miles is a hard enough journey, you don't want slippery, wet, hypothermic, shoe sucking conditions on top of that.

I'm just PRAYING....BEGGING...that conditions reverse or magically change for the better. Or that at least that 50% doesn't turn into a higher percentage. And that the temperatures don't drop any lower.

I had butterflies in my tummy BEFORE looking at all of that. Now I'm straight up terrified. And borderline nauseous. Huzzah.

Anyway...going to try REEEALLY hard to think on the bright side. It's hiding from me right now, but hopefully I can find it by Saturday morning!

Either way, I promise you, I will not quit until I am pulled off the course, or I happen to cross the finish line.



PS thanks to everyone for being so amazing and truly believing in me for this race. That, or you guys are really good fakers!!! :)

November 26, 2013

Trusty OLD Steeds

There are only 11 days standing between me and a whopping 50 mile course. Yikes.

Obviously, as my lack of posts suggest, I have not been running. Like, at all.

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I tried to run one of these last weekends and I didn't make it very far before my back started seizing up and my foot started aching. I bought Hoka One One shoes...which are the price of two or three pairs of shoes but are supposed to make you feel like you're running in the clouds. They are very padded, but pretty stable. I was counting on these shoes being the missing link and hoped they would solve my problems. They did not. Instead, I think they created more. So they went back to the store. Now I'm left with my original trail shoes that have seen many miles. Good idea? Probably not, but with less than two weeks until the race and no running happening, there isn't enough time to break in new shoes.

One last hay day for my trusty steeds.



Backyard Burn 10k?

Potomac Heritage Trail
DC 50
DC 50


Greenland 8M
Golden Gate Park

Beaver Creek



Barr Lake



Eldorado
Eldorado

North Face DC 50M


We've been through many, MANY runs together. Many runs that I can't find the pictures of right now to do the shoes fair justice. They will have to go into retirement on December 8th, 2013.

Anyway, let's stop with the emotionalness! I know I could have said 'let's stop being emotional' or 'let's stop with the emotions' but, I like emotionalness more. I like new words. Ones that I make up myself. Makes me feel like I'm in touch with my creative side.

I have actually been going to the gym...like...twice. Progress! Okay I think it was three times. Last week I went and did my own wod while the class was going on so I could feel semi included. It was rowing, squats, situps, pushups, and singles and attempts at DUs.

Then yesterday I did rowing and a ridiculous amount of squats.

And today, I will go and do more rowing. It seems to be the safest thing right now. It won't wear down my shoes or make my feet hurt, hasn't really had a negative impact on my back so far, and it gets my little leggies headed back to tree trunk status!


http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running4
From The Oatmeal, so freakin funny and accurate!
 


As far as the race is concerned, I'm getting excited. Which is shocking. Granted, the excitement is mixed with anxiety, fear, nervousness, nausea...but you know, it's in the the mix!

Mostly, I am ready to get it over with. I'm ready to have the stress off of my back and get back to just enjoying my workouts and my Saturdays, sans guilt that I'm not running. I get to sleep in again!!!

I hope that someday I return to my love for running and trails. Who knows, maybe being out there for 14 hours (hopefully less than 14 but more than 11 because that means I made the cutoffs...) will renew my love for it. Probably not.

I still want to run shorter runs here and there to keep in the general fitness of being able to knock out three miles on any given day. And if, over the course of time, that three miles somehow turns into 30, then so be it. So long as 'over the course of time' means never in a million years. Or five. Whichever. Let's not split hairs.

In conclusion, let's get er done. (Is that the saying? Did I spell that right?)


Amen.




November 12, 2013

The Almost Great Debate

Okay so, this weekend I did not run. Whamp. Or yay? Not sure. That's not the great debate though.

Not running this past weekend means that this weekend will mark three weeks out from the 50 miler, and I have only a 20 miler under my belt. Which happened in October. Maybe even in September...not sure. I've done plenty of 13 milers...which is about a quarter of the race. Not. Good. Enough.

SO I have - for real - one more chance at a looong run this weekend, and then I have to just be okay with the way things are. I kinda already am okay with things.

ONTO THE DEBATE!
The decision I need to make comes down to this:

Run until I get pulled off the course for missing a cutoff (which could mean the veeery slight possibility of me finishing. Is that safe?!)

Run until my legs fall off (which leads back to #1 because with no legs, undoubtedly I would miss a cutoff, unless my legs don't fall off until I cross the finish line...)

Run until a predetermined mileage. 'I will run until mile X and then call it a day.'

The reality is, I haven't done nearly enough to theoretically do well in this race. I know paper stats aren't everything in life.

According to the course guide, I need to keep a 16:45 min pace through all 50 miles and 9k of elevation gain and 10k of loss. 16:45 min pace may seem like cake to you, but we are talking about multiple miles at a time of uphill battling. On a trail. That makes people slower.

And don't come at me with all this about 'Well you'll be at sea level' because while it MAY help a tiny bit, I highly doubt it will give me super powers. Unfortunately.

So let me hear from you! What do you think?!

November 06, 2013

Miracles Can Happen


Weekly Recap Time!

First I'm going to tell you what was supposed to happen.

Then I will give you the down and dirty of reality.

I don't even think that last sentence made sense.

BUCKLE UP! It's going to be a bumpy ride...

Journey into Pretendland starting in 3...2...1...


Say what?! How did my hair change to blonde?!


Getting a little carried away with PowerPoint...

Okay - so what was really supposed to happen:

The boyfriend and I signed up last minute for the Heart Half Marathon in Loveland, CO with the knowledge that it was a point to point course. Meaning, you start the race, run 13.1 miles and finish at a completely different location. The race provides a shuttle to take finished racers back to the start and the parking lot, but my thought was to run back to the car instead of taking the shuttle. Thus getting myself 26.2 miles. I was going to tack on an extra five while Steve got to relax in the car so I could get my 31 miles.

The reality went a little different than that. Just a tad.

I meant to pull up a picture of a desert...I guess I had something else on my mind.

In reality, that pretty blonde in Pretendland transforms into a turtle on its back, about to get run over by a semi truck.

On Friday, the boyfriend and I went up to Lookout Mountain for our good friends' wedding. It was a beautiful celebration, but we knew we needed to hold back on the partying so we could have a good run the next day. We got home late, woke up early...and scrambled to get to the race on time.

There was very little fanfare at this race. The shirts are pretty nice though (mine is a little snug so I need to get my booty working out!), with the mens shirt a dark blue and the womens shirt a hot pink that I love love love, both long sleeve. We hurried to the potty palaces and then over to the car to finish gearing up and layering for the bitter cold morning. I had so many layers on...

We heard a mumbled message over the loud speaker and then saw a ton of runners making their way off in the distance...so we followed. Runners for the half had to walk over from the parking lot to the lake that we would run around 1.5 times. I told the boyfriend good luck and knew he would do really well and end up waiting for me. I just hoped he wouldn't have to wait as long as he did.

The race started with a simple 'GO' and I tried to pull the reigns a little on my speed, knowing literally this would be a marathon (+5 miles) and not a sprint. Quickly I found my self in the back of the pack...very familiar territory. I played rabbit with a few people for a while, just trying to concentrate on enjoying the day and take my mind off the already forming foot pain.

Around about mile 4, I noticed my hip starting to tighten. That's not good. Usually I can make it through a half without that happening, so I immediately grew concerned about the remaining miles ahead of me. Already present foot pain with now coming on fast hip pain. It has been a long time of running without true hip pain from my old days pre-PT sessions..but the flashbacks started flooding in.

I made it through the 1.5 loops around the lake and was happy for some different scenery. In races, I hate when I can look off in the distance and see where the other runners are. I just hate it. And that's what running around the lake did. Oh...I see where those runners are...that's about X miles away.... blegh. No fun.

The course turned onto a main road that runners follow for a couple miles before turning into a neighborhood and semi running around a different lake. It was pretty uneventful other than things were starting to fall apart. I think this was about mile 7 or 8. I liked running through the neighborhood at first. It occupied me to look at all the ritzy beautiful homes, making mental notes to ask the boyfriend if he noticed the same ones. After a little while in the neighborhood, a car came down the street and then slowed to a crawl when they saw me. I got a little nervous and paused my ipod. Much to my surprise and amusement, the car was blasting Eye of the Tiger for this complete stranger. I laughed and waved as I passed and they sped off, presumably to find the next runner. That was the highlight of this race for me...that and doing it with the bf.

Slowly I made my way up this big hill out of the neighborhood and onto this bike path around the other side of the lake. By now I was in rough shape. I couldn't bring myself to eat anything, almost threw up around mile 11, and basically reduced myself to just a fast (in my head it was fast) walk. I could see this girl behind me for most of the time through the neighborhood and I just told myself to keep her behind you. That served as a little motivation to keep me shuffling every once in a while.

With about a little over a quarter of a mile left, I finally saw the boyfriend. He was trying to take pictures of me (hobbling), and I was so grouchy and mean. After I passed him and he went to the finish to see me come in, I started to cry. I did okay the whole race dealing with the pain and the once again ever too familiar disappointment... but once I saw him and heard one of the race people tell me to 'Finish Strong' (I can't you jerk, I'm hobbling), it set in that I wouldn't be able to run back to the car. I would be boarding the shuttle, and coping for another weekend that I did not get my desired amount of miles.

I ran the last quarter mile and finished just barely over 3 hours. Disappointing performance for sure. I walked over to where they had picnic tables and just sat down and cried. I can't describe how frustrating it is to have foot pain, hip pain, etc interfere with my plans when my leg muscles feel completely fine. My body is used to running 13 miles. I need to be able to push past that if I want any real chance of finishing the 50 miler.

Yesterday I saw the PT and my hip feels better, and even my foot is okay. It seems to come and go. I'm hoping the foot holds out for this Saturday so I can throw one last ditch effort at this race. Technically, I think I have two more chances, but I really want to nail this one down. I'm going to shoot for either 26 or 28 miles this weekend, and then 24 next weekend if this Saturday works out. Then it's taper time.

I even feel guilty about tapering for a race that I didn't really have a build up in training.

Damage control at this point. Miracles can happen.

October 28, 2013

The 40 Day Countdown!

It's recap time!

I hadn't been running the past few weeks thanks to my feet problems.

I saw the PT last Tuesday and then looked at the wod for the day: Partner wod - 400 air squats, 4000m row. I asked the PT if he thought it would be okay considering my body issues and he said he didn't see any problem with it. What I failed to consider is that I hadn't exercised in two weeks, let alone done any crossfit. Instead of doing the actual wod, the boyfriend and I each did 200 air squats at home. I proceeded to be wobbly and sore the remainder of the week...willing and praying for my legs to flush out and recover in time for my Friday long run.

They did not.

So then Friday rolled around. I took the day off so I could run my 31 miles and not have it interfere with the Halloween party on Saturday and not do it on Sunday and be exhausted all week. The plan was to run five miles, get to my friend's house and have her join me for about 13 miles, then drop her off and pick up the boyfriend for the remainder of the run.

Reality was a little different. I woke up still sore but tried to stretch out as much as I could before heading out. I made my way downstairs where I was greeted with dog throw up. Fun times. I cleaned that up, prayed it wasn't a bad omen (it was), made some coffee, ate a few bites, and then finally got myself out the door. The five miles alone were rough. It was a battle between my mind and my body. My body was pulling out all the stops to ensure I did not complete this run, and my mind was in a constant argument with itself about whether to give in to the pain or to stop being a pussy and continue on. And it was cold as balls.

I got to my friend's house about 8 minutes behind schedule, which considering how awful I felt, didn't seem too bad. I filled her in on my condition and gave her a glimpse into my fragile state. She joked and offered for us to just stay at her house and have coffee and decorate for the party. Man was I pissed that I passed that up! Instead of chatting over coffee, we decided to pick up another friend on our way out of the neighborhood. I considered it another good opportunity for me to stop and strech...still trying to convince my muscles to cooperate.

Off we went down the main road with our sites set on the gym about four miles down. For as awful as I felt, I was so extremely grateful to have the company. At times I thought it would have been better to just suffer alone out there, and who knows...I might have grinded out more miles (probably not, but I'm weird that way...where suffering alone can somehow mean more miles get done). They kept me moving at a faster pace than I would have allowed my suffering body on my own and eventually we were at the gym.

Where I promptly threw in the towel. As I sat on the mats inside the gym trying to stretch out even more, I argued with myself about calling it quits for the day. We would still have to head back to my friend's house or me to my house. The thing that kept gnawing on me was that I was now 10 miles in and suffering way more than I should be at that point. Looking down the barrel of 20 more miles just did not do it for me. The three of us decided we would walk back.

I almost (okay, I did) cried on the walk back. It was brief before I made myself push it away (until I got home in the shower alone and cried more). I honestly just don't know why this has been such an emotionally charged training season. I wonder if part of it is because so many people believe in me and I feel like I need to live up to something I'm not even sure I can do. Uninjured me would have whooped this fifty miler's butt! I wish I had that same amount of faith in myself to complete this. Easier said than done when your body keeps pulling shenanigans on you.

SO, what did I do wrong this week?

1. Squats
2. Old shoes
3. Bad attitude

The good thing is I can fix those.

I am refraining from leg workouts for the time being.

I just ordered new trail shoes.

I am constantly working on fixing my negative attitude about this race. I'm a roller coaster with it.


I'm still not throwing in the towel, even with all of this that keeps happening. This weekend I intend on running the Heart Half Marathon in Loveland. I'm going to wake up early, run 5 miles, drive with the boyfriend to the race, run the point to point course, and then instead of taking the shuttle back to the race start and the car, I will (or rather WE will) run back to the car.

Bing Bang Boom - 31 miles.

This plan allows me the security of a race shuttle in case something flares up and I can't run back to the car, and allows me company. Bless his soul for agreeing to not only run the half marathon, which would be triple the distance of his longest run, but also agreeing to keep on running after the race to a full marathon distance...forgoing a free pancake breakfast!

If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

If that works out for the 31 miles, I will feel a little more comfortable for what's approaching quickly. The following weekend I will plan for another long run, and another one the weekend after that. Then it's taper time. We are almost there! Then you won't have to hear me complaining all the time!

Now let's just hope my feet rest up in time for Saturday!

October 22, 2013

How A Math Major Reviews For A Race!


Okey Dokey.

North Face FINALLY posted the updated course guide. Hallelujah! Now I can obsess for 46 days!!!

You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Since realizing that it's been posted, I've already combed through the pages, drawn on the elevation chart, done some analysis (again, you probably think I'm joking)...


Race Start at 5am, 14 hr cutoff. Ouch.



So there's the course map. I understand that means next to nothing to most people looking at it who aren't familiar with the area.


Oouff.

And here we have it.


Yes, that says an elevation GAIN of 9,237 ft and a LOSS of 10,043 ft.

Here's some perspective:
Bear Mountian 50K Elevation


DC 50 Mile Elevation

So basically I'm in a for a world of hurt. I just hope those downhill parts are actually runnable so I can make up some time...and that I will actually be able to breathe on the uphills since I won't be at a million ft elevation.

Not going to lie...getting kind of excited. Regardless of how I do, this is a completely foreign race course to me. I haven't been able to practice on it or learn every little curve and bump, so I get to go out on race day and truly explore this area for the first time. It's supposed to have absolutely beautiful views as well, making the climbs (hopefully) worth it!

In case anyone is sooo curious, here is a breakdown of what I will encounter...aid station to aid station:

Start to Aid #1 (5 Mile Water Stop):
You will start the race in the pre-dawn and proceed through this first section, which is mainly road or fire road. Look back to see the other runners behind you snaking up Bobcat in the darkness. Enjoy the lights of the Golden Gate on Alta trail.

This section is 5.7 miles and from what I gather, it is mostly flat the first mile, 3 miles uphill, then one steep downhill mile.

5 Mile to Aid #2 (Tennessee Valley):For most runners, this portion of the race is still run in the dark.
They are talking about me here, haha. This three mile section is downhill for half a mile, one mile uphill, and the rest is downhill.

Tennessee Valley to Aid #3 (Muir Beach):This is a beautiful trail with a sweeping view of the coast, a beautiful single track that winds along high cliffs above
the Pacific.

This four mile stretch is downhill for a little over a mile, uphill for one mile, down steep for a bit, then up/flat/down. A little bit of everything!

Muir Beach to Aid #4 (Cardiac):Work on the Muir Beach wetland area means that the entrance in and out of the aid station is different in 2013. This section of the course has a number of turns at the start, but ultimately enjoys simultaneous views of San Francisco Bay, and Pacific while running along the edge of Muir Woods. At Cardiac take aid and congratulate yourself on having completed 1,500 feet of ascent. Don’t congratulate yourself too much though as you still have to climb thru Pantoll and onto McKinnon Gulch.
Fuuuun name, Cardiac. 5.2 miles consisting of 2 flat, and 3 long uphill miles.

Cardiac to Aid #5 (McKinnon Gulch):Run out along the ridge, out and over the famous, wrecked car on the Coastal Trail.
This is 4.8 miles of almost pure uphill climbing. And at the end of those miles is the first hard cut-off, which I have to be at no later than 11:28 am, which is 6 hours and 24 minutes from the start...and 22.7 miles.

McKinnon Gulch to Aid #6 (Stinson Beach):After running along through the rising thermals along the Coastal Trail, you’ll descend 1,900 feet to the cool ocean air of Stinson Beach.
Woooo hooooo downhill! That's going to feel nice after all of that climbing! This is 5 miles of rolling/flat terrain for 2 miles, then 3 miles of downhill enjoyment. I also get to pick up my pacer for the remainder of the race! Lucky him!

Stinson Beach to Aid #7 (Cardiac):
Run up the classic Dipsea Trail through the moors. Turn back to see a sweeping view of Stinson Beach and then focus as you continue to climb the Dipsea to the Cardiac Aid Station. * The new routing in 2011 means that you’ll have the pleasure of running through trees and up a long section of the famous Dipsea Trail steps before coming back to the Cardiac Aid station that you saw earlier in the race.
So this part makes me a little nervous. It's 2.7 miles of all uphill and the famous Dipsea Trail stairs. Dun Dun DUUUUUNNNNNN.

Cardiac to Aid #8 (Old Inn):
Prepare for a ride! This section has a winding difficult descent, followed by a challenging climb. Enjoy sweeping vistas along the Sun Trail, then rejoin the famous Dipsea Trail for a short time.
5.9 miles - down 1.2 miles, small up/down, uphill one mile, and down three miles. Also, the spot of the second hard cutoff. I have to be here no later than 3:18 (mile 36.3), 10 hours and 14 minutes after the start.

Old Inn to Aid #9 (Muir Beach):
This section runs you through the high grasses of the Redwood Creek trail, across two wooden bridges, and back to Muir Beach Aid Station, which you visited earlier in the day.
This is 3.6 miles, up and down for one mile, and a small downhill for three miles.

Muir Beach to Aid #10 (Tennessee Valley):
Exit Muir Beach, going up a hill you have seen earlier in the race. Then, enjoy the amazing vistas as you grind up the Fire Road, onto Coyote Ridge, up to the top.
Always so much fun to go up a hill and look forward to seeing it again later....not! This section is 4.1 miles of steep uphill for 2 miles and downhill for 2 miles. At least what goes up must come down!

Tennessee Valley to Aid #11 (Alta):
Just when you thought the climbing was over. This section will gradually ascend almost 700 feet over 2 miles of wide fire road.
What a bunch of jerks putting a hill so close to the end of the race! It's the last hard push though! Woo hoo, almost there! This section is just 2.9 miles, one mile uphill then the rest is rolling and downhill.

Alta to FINISH LINE!!!!!:
This is the last 2.8 miles of the course, two miles downhill and the rest is a slight up and flat chunk to the finish line where I can bask in glory and beer! And hopefully a tub of ice!


Okay so now that all of that is covered...who wants to come run with me for a little bit THIS FRIDAY?

I am doing my 31 miles and would love to see some supportive faces. If you don't want to run, you're always welcome to stand on 104 with a poster and a cowbell! You will be rewarded with my smiling, shimmering face! Because, what more would you want?! Nothing. You want nothing.

The plan from here on out is:

10/25 - 31 miles
11/2 - 15
11/9 - 28
11/16 - 24
11/23 - 16
11/30 - 10
12/7 - 50!

October 07, 2013

Why I Can't/Won't Quit My Ultra Marathon

Okay, well I may still be working on the answer to that statement.

Recap of Blue Sky Trail Marathon - (this is where you get lucky) There is no recap. It never happened.

You're welcome and goodnight.

Just kidding. Like I would have that short of a blog post EVER hah.

Where to begin this post...we'll start with Saturday. I finally slept in (til 9! whoop whoop!), took my time getting dressed, and drove out to watch my crossfit people get there swole on at a competition. The thing about going to those competitions is that I get to see everyone I miss (you know, from forever being absent at every wod) and I get to feel like part of the family again. That's great, and also the most horrible thing ever. I'm already hating my running life and a small, tiny little baby's breath of wind would knock me off my training plan so fast...

So I'm there, rooting everyone on, missing crossfit like whoa, feeling a little sorry for myself. At this point, I'm DREADING the race tomorrow. Let's be honest, I was dreading it way before Saturday. I got home later that afternoon and had a little cryfest to the boyfriend. I won't hash it all out again because I recently wrote on here all of my feelings. After crying a little and talking through some things, I decided that running on Sunday wasn't a good idea. I wasn't going to enjoy myself and clearly I needed the time to regroup. Later that evening I looked up the other race distances, contemplating switching my entry to the 50k or marathon. Luckily, they are sold out and not easy to switch into. I say luckily because I signed up to run 50 effing miles. I already have a 50k finisher's medal (it's actually not that cool so it'd be nice to get a new one...) and I already have a marathon medal. Not that the fact of me doing the 50 resides on medals. My point is, my dream wasn't to do those other distances. Been there done that type of thing. And as a friend put it, 'Is it better to finish something you know you can, or try at something that is harder than you thought possible?' I think my dream sucks balls right now, but nonetheless...I go forth.

With a smile on my face.

And positive thoughts in my head...

Fake-it-til-you-make-it style.


THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!!

Things that resonated with me from this weekend:

A friend of mine asked about my running while spectating at the competition. I made a self deprecating remark (I do that a lot, especially in regards to my running). I said something along the lines of 'There's no way I'm going to finish it.' He simply said, 'Well, I know you're not going to quit'. I laughed it off and told him that he might be right, I might not quit, but I might be forced off from being too slow. He essentially told me to just make sure I was a fraction faster than that.

K.I.S.S - keep it simple, stupid.

For the last wod of the competition, the team had to complete four of the women. Isabelle, Grace, Diane, and Fran. These teams had already been through the ringer with a grueling two days and six wods. I watched our last Anchor team move through Isabelle, Grace, and Diane, and then it came down to Fran. I was so inspired watching that performance. The teammate completing Fran got through the 21 reps, then the 15 reps, and time was dwindling down for the 9 reps. It looked like it took every fiber to continue through those movements, but the last rep was done with literally seconds to spare. Over the two days, I watched these athletes dig deep when they thought they couldn't give anymore and keep working til the very last second. Now I didn't want to get all 'Crossfit is the best thing in the entire world' on you, but seeing that kind of display of grit really does something to you.

So here we are now, another revised training plan. I'm going to dig deep, keep going when I think I have nothing left in me, and finish what I started.

If anyone has suggestions on how to make long runs more enjoyable and fun, please clue me in! OR, if you care to join me for a few miles during those long runs, I would be happy to have you!



Accountability. That's what's up.

October 03, 2013

65 Days and A Wake Up

Alternate title being UUUGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I die.

Time for the long run recap. This weekend the long run took place on Sunday instead of Saturday due to going to Vail Friday and Saturday.

Sidebar - Vail was fun but maybe a little too much walking before going to run twenty miles.

How about that for already making excuses?! Eh?!?!

Anyway.

Saturday night I did my usual prep work, filled my Nathan pack, grabbed a handful of Justin's Almond and Hazelnut Butters, some shot bloks, boiled some eggs for an easy breakfast...bing-bang-boom, off to bed!

My friend came and picked me up in the morning (bless her heart for only needing to run 17 miles but joining me for twenty. Bless you, I say. BLESS YOU!) We drove out to the Aurora area to pick up the Cherry Creek Trail, which thanks to my excellent navigation took us a little longer to find. Yay me! How do I survive trail races and trail running without getting lost?! NO IDEA.

So we parked at this outdoor soccer field, hit up the piddle palace, and with our empty bladders headed out on the trail! For about a mile or two! Until we had to look at the trail map on the phone because the trail kept splitting off without telling you which was way the right way! Once we pranced up and down that part of the trail trying to follow the dot on the phone, we figured it out and off we went again! I tried to be a little ambitious at first, wanting to just run. But then I remembered I'm outta shape. So I went back to my walk/run strategy of run 10 min, walk 3 min.

By Mile 5 I was already uncomfortable. The fun was starting earlier than usual. Whoop Whoop! Just kidding. It sucked though, for real. The back of my knee cap started swelling way sooner than normal (which I know, isn't normal at all...). I put all that effort into sports taping my two front knees but didn't think to do anything for the back of the knee...mostly because it usually doesn't start to bother me until I'm about 13 miles deep. I pulled to the side and decided to stretch out my hams to see if that would help...low and behold it actually worked! So note to self - stretch yo hams! All the day long!

(I'm going to give you the abbreviated version) So we (I) suffered to the turn around point at mile 10, hooped and hollered that we could finally turn around, and the wheels fell of for my partner. Me - the first half. Her - the second half. We are winners (She really is though... she is badass for real (not just saying that because she reads this (or am I? (I'm not.)))). We were touch and go there for a couple miles walking and stopping but then we decided to just get deep in the pain cave and get to the car as fast as possible.

So we're running and I'm following behind her when out of NO WHERE a snake flies out at me. He was 10 ft long, had crazy fangs, demon eyes....

Okay so he was maybe a few feet long and grey and I'm sure probably not poisonous but DAMN did he scare the crap out of me!

We continued on carefully for a little bit, and I got in front and we ran for a while longer. This time I'm jammin out to my music and in the zone when I cross this footbridge. And then a few feet away from the footbridge BAM!

I STEP. ON. A SNAKE.

This time he looked like he tried to bite me just a little bit and slithered quickly to the other side of the trail...where I launched myself after realizing what I stepped on. Gooood times.

So from then on my new goal was to haul ass to the car and get out of this snake infested land, but carefully trying to avoid running close by the grass. Which was hard because of all of the cyclists and runners/walkers out there.

Blegh, disgusting.

So we finally made it back to the car, sun burnt, wobbly, but finished.

Then I proceeded to be completely exhausted the rest of the afternoon/evening and the rest of this week so far. I did take a cold epsom salt bath to aid in speedy recovery so I can run *decently* at the marathon this weekend, so I actually feel not so bad this week physically. Little knee pain, little quad-ness. Mostly just tired as balls.

Segue - the marathon this weekend! So I haven't actually done anything active this week. Hooray me! Monday was an off day for running and I even planned on going to the gym for ab and arm work but I was so ridiculously tired that I didn't go. Yay paying for my membership since February but rarely ever going! Thanks body! Thanks 50 miler training! Thanks self for doing this to..your..self...

I'm pretty nervous about the race because of the bad memories I have from the Month of Half Marathons and the very last race in that month..the Black Squirrel. Black Squirrel is the sister race to the Blue Sky Marathon and it's on the other side of the reservoir. So, remembering the difficulty of B.S., I am definitely worried about the Blue Sky. At least the temps should be in the sweet spot with a high of 63! Jumping from 20 miles to 26? Suuuure, no problem when you've already jumped from 0 to 13 to 17 to 20. With minimal activity each week in between the long runs. FMRL (the r is for running. regular life is the bees knees).

New segue - me crying two days ago on the couch after work. Yeeeep. That happened for real. Ever been so frustrated with things than it breaks you down to tears? I put my workout gear on, even sized my jump rope ready to go do the wod when I thought about the actual movements. Lunges. Squats. Double Unders. Pain. So I pulled the plug on going. Then I sat on the couch and cried just a little.

I'm so fed up with this chunk of months. The quasi injuries keeping me from things, the training plan depleting my energy and time...withholding me from crossfit workouts for fear that I will hurt my knees more, my knees already hurt, the workout will tear up my legs and I won't be able to get good runs in, etc etc. (Before you get all up in arms about stuff, the knee problem is my fault for the way my training plan has gone.)

SO FRUSTRATED. I am ready to taper. To push myself as much as my body and mind will allow in 65 days, and put this race behind me. Get back to a normal day to day life where I can actually hang out with my boyfriend on Saturdays and Sundays without being too exhausted to function. To finally stop stressing out and feeling guilty about not going to the gym or missing a run. Or being able to make plans on a Friday night because I don't have to stress about waking up at the crack of dawn to go run 31 miles alone.

Segue!!!! (Trust me, I know I don't NEED to actually say segue when I segue...I just like doing it today. Deal with it.) So all of this complaining brings me to my 31 mile run I decided to place on October 25th. I plan on taking a vac day to knock that bad boy out so it doesn't interfere with a bachelorette party the weekend before, or the halloween party on the 26, or a wedding on Nov 1.

Someone promise to make me read this post when I decide to sign up for another one. Please. I beg you.

31 miles alone. Yowza that's going to be reeeally rough. I'm going to have to find a location and start planning out the logistics of getting this done. I just hope I can summon the mental strength I will need to keep myself going...

Welp, this ended up being pretty long (and NO pictures?! How dare I!). So if you actually hung in there through all that rambling, I say to you...go get a hobby or find something better to do than read this nonsense!

Just kidding.

Thanks for 'listening'! You're a good friend, who ever you are!

September 24, 2013

The Hail Mary Training Plan

I've started noticing, I think I'm one of the few runner bloggers who is not fast. One of the few back of the packers. Which is okay with me...someone has to be relatable and represent the turtles out there!

I'm here for you, slow people!!! Turtles UNITE!

I was googling some race reviews for the Blue Sky Trail Marathon I have coming up on Oct 6, and all of them were from people who almost won or placed pretty high for their age groups.

Then I googled another race and the same thing happened! I don't know if it's just that only fast people recapped those races or what...but it's suspicious.

Anyway.

On to my Hail Mary Training Plan. I feel like I've been here before. Maybe more than once. I'm a bit of an expert at fudging up my training plans and then having to scramble to somehow make things work so I can attempt to be ready to complete a race. That's a really bad thing.


So there it is. Readjusted for the millionth time. After this past weekend's awful long run, I decided that there is a slim chance I would be prepared to complete a 50K on Oct 19. So I pushed it back a week to Oct 25. Doing that allowed me to rearrange pretty much everything to bring me to the plan you see here. The Hail Mary.

I'm considering running the Rim Rock Marathon in the Grand Junction/Fruita, CO area Nov 9. It's about 13 miles all uphill and then 13 miles all downhill. Still deciding if it's worth the four hour drive out there...but the proximity to Colorado wine country is appealing, and it would be my last tune-up race-chance before the 50 miler.

And now to talk about that dreadful 17 mile torture fest I had on Saturday. I did some research online for Bear Creek Lake Park, things looked okay, and I decided to head out there early Saturday morning for my run. Big mistake. I got to the park around 7:30ish, paid, and once inside the park I realized that the main road I wanted was blocked off. Okay then...

I found myself parking in front of the archery range and decided to head out to where I saw people cycling and running. It was a short dirt path to a paved path. About a mile down the road I got to the visitors center. Shortly after that, the path was closed off. So I turned around and ran back to the car. I decided to run on the road around the park and see how far that got me. It was only about 3 miles around. Well, crap. I was hoping to get 20 miles in, and the idea of running a 3 mile loop over and over was not remotely appealing to me. I managed to get about six miles in when I finally found a different direction of path that appeared to be long in distance.

I went back to the car, refilled my water bottles, re-band-aided my blisters (bad shoes in Breckenridge...), and then ran down through this campground area to try to go 6.5 miles out and 6.5 back. It didn't work out that way. By then I was in pretty decent pain with the blisters but so determined to get these miles in that I just tried my best to ignore everything ailing me (knees were pretty shot too). I got to the top of Mt Carbon (??), which has a view on one side of a golf course and downtown Denver, and on the other side you can see the dam and the lake. The trail for the park ends though. It did split and continue on around the golf course, so I decided it was kinda my only option. At around mile 11, I decided to just turn around since I was by a different golf course now and heading towards a residential area. I was pretty far away from the park I planned on doing my entire run in.

The next 6 miles back were pretty uncomfortable and mostly consisted of walking. I don't think I'll be going back there this year...not until all of the trails and roads are back up and running. I just felt like I could have had a better time running around the neighborhood.

I'm scouting out new spots to run for the remaining weekends. Gotta get it done.


September 16, 2013

Still Learning As I Go

Well I finally hopped back on the horse! And by that I mean I finally started running again. I don't know why I didn't just say that...

And by 'I finally started running again' I really mean that I ran three times this week... haha. I have such a skewed definition!

REGARDLESS - here is my recap of the week. I decided to run after work on Tuesday since it was only about 70 degrees, but sunny with 64% humidity, and 11mph winds. I don't really know what got into me, if it was taking the last week off from running to completely heal my legs or what, but it was a great run! I ran all 4 miles nonstop (which I know to 99% of people sounds silly to be excited about)!

I'll explain why I'm so excited. All of August was pretty much one poo-poo run after the other, almost zero enjoyment (other than GTIS Half) and lots of walking, little running. Since I started running in 2010, I can count on one hand how many times I've run 4 miles nonstop. Sure, three miles I could do without much issue, but for some reason I never pushed over that and would walk/run anything farther than three. Every race I trained for consisted of the walk/run method because I didn't push myself hard enough and just didn't believe I could do it.

So back to that Tuesday run. Instead of planning on running 4 miles, I told myself I would run for 45 minutes (secretly hoping that would get me 4 miles anyway). I wasn't feeling great that first mile, as many runners can sympathize. The first mile is the hardest to convince yourself to keep going. I ran my usual route, which means the first half of the run is a gradual uphill almost the whole way. After I hit that one mile in 11:38 (UM that's FLYING for me haha), I convinced myself to run the next mile. That if I made it to mile two, I could have a walk break. I shuffled the second mile in 12:35 (the second mile is where 90% of the uphill takes place). I got to the turn around point where my watch blinked that I was 23 minutes in, paused for the briefest second, and told myself I would run the rest of the way home. Just make it to mile three. I ran the third mile in 12:20, and by then I felt so invigorated with myself that I ran back to the neighborhood, noticed how close I was to hitting 4 miles and just ran up and down the street until that ticker rolled over. Got the fourth mile in 12:21. At least I'm consistent!

I did a little jig in the middle of the road, that's how thrilled I was. My total time was 48 minutes and change. A slow go, but I did not stop. I would have been faster had it not been for the mini celebration after each mile and my constant air drumming (I can hear my crossfit coach saying 'If you can air drum, you aren't working hard enough', haha). I would air drum, then get winded and tell myself to knock it off and save that energy! I'm only a little ridiculous. But I was having fun!! FINALLY!

I actually felt pretty good after that run, not sore at all. I think my excitement took over any other feeling. So Wednesday after work, I was ready to try this whole running nonstop thing again. Now I knew I was capable of running the four, it was time to shoot for five. Well, not really. I was planning to run an hour nonstop, with enough time to hurry and shower before my PT appointment that evening.

I set out with a long sleeve and long capris on because it looked like rain could be rolling in. I cruised through the first mile in 11:59, slowed down for the second mile in 12:40 (really struggled a little to convince myself to keep moving). I got hot with the long sleeve on, but about 5 minutes later, go figure, it started raining. Just a little at first...kind of refreshing. I hit the turn around at about 2.5 and started my downhill run. I got the third mile done in 12:51, the fourth done in 12:32, and then it started POURING rain.

But I was SO close to running 5 nonstop! I could do it! There wasn't any lightning, so if I could just will myself on, I could get five and head home to dry off. I had to tack on a little extra to my normal route to get the five miles, so I took a different road into the neighborhood and just trotted up the street and back til I perfectly hit five miles. I could have cried with excitement. I have NEVER run that far nonstop. I was so proud of myself. I got the fifth mile done in 12:29,total run time of 1:02, knee pain and all. That last mile felt like I was dragging my leg behind me, but I knew I was seeing the PT a little later and he could fix it all.

I barely had time to dry off and change before heading to the miracle worker. He did his magic, and then we chatted about how maybe I should start going in every week until my race to stay on top of everything instead of playing catch up.

I took Thursday off thanks to the crazy rain and flooding and set myself up to run for 3.5 hours on Saturday. I only ended up running 3:10 because I thought I was running late for a thing with a friend, and honestly, my body felt pretty banged up anyway. I barely ate half a larabar, and set out for the day. I ran my normal weekday route on the way out, with an extra extension up the road before heading down the long stretch of road towards my gym. A couple miles out, I ran into my two lady friends who were running to the gym for the Saturday morning workout. We ran together for most of the remaining distance to the gym, at a faster clip than I can handle, but I enjoyed the company. I had a potty break and adjusted my water bottles for the second half of my run from the gym back through everything reverse. By the time I left the gym, I had already eaten the only two gels I brought with me and broke into a granola bar I had for back up. I was starving. I also made the mistake of putting an electrolyte tablet into my water bottle and it was just way too strong. It gave me major tummy aches.

The break down was as follows:

Mile 1: hurting, not convinced that this is actually going to happen, decided to do a walking warmup - 16:25
Mile 2: Had my pity party and decided to get over it. - 14:10
Mile 3: 13:23
Mile 4: 13:05
Mile 5: 12:00 (when I ran into the girls)
Mile 6: 12:31
Mile 7: 14:52 (starting the long gradual uphill, tummy aching)
Mile 8: 14:02
Mile 9: 15:11 (things are slowly starting to fall apart)
Mile 10: 15:49
Mile 11: 15:45
Mile 12: 17:33 (reeeallly bad aches)
Mile 13: 18:30 (walked home)

So the problems were not enough nutrition before or during, it was hot as balls and super humid (88% humidity), and I was wearing my Kinvaras (more minimal than what I usually long run in...read - muscles not used to that sh$t). I was able to keep to my walk/run ratio until about mile 9. Then I tried to go by what my stomach could handle, but things definitely fell apart. And my legs are still hurting me from the switch in shoes. I can be so smart sometimes!

Anyway, I will be ready to go for a run on Tuesday for four miles, hopefully I can get the hour and fifteen minute run in on Wednesday before I head to Breck for a conference, try to run an hour and fifty out in Breck on Thursday, and then 4:45 Saturday and 1.5 hours on Sunday.

I'm staying optimistic!

**Also, I need to mention that I tried sports tape on my knee for the long run on Saturday, thinking there's no way this stuff works but LET ME TELL YOU! I really think it does work!!! That, or my PT did his usual and fixed the problems from Wednesday, haha.**

September 06, 2013

'Stronger Than Every Fear'


Kind of the best quote ever (taken from http://yroc.posthaven.com/2013-leadville-trail-100-run):

"the real victory isn't the act of smashing through the tape and crossing the finish line; it's not seeing your name first on the list or standing on the highest step on the podium. this is not what makes your legs shake with fear and excitement. victory, the real victory, is what is deep down inside each one of us. it's what we can't believe will ever happen despite all the training and will on our part, and yet it is finally what happens. despite all the thinking and brandishing of calculators, after so many hours of preparation, after so many days of training, of telling ourselves that we can win - or simply finish the race - it is as if something in our unconscious is constantly telling us that it is impossible, that it would be too wonderful, too brilliant, too incredible for it to become reality. that what we want to achieve is only a dream. and when you cross the line, when you look behind and see that it is real, that you are flesh and blood, and that what seemed possible only in dreams has become real, you realize that that is the true victory"

-Killian Jornet (25 years old, amazing runner and athlete, and far wiser than I'll ever be)


Killian puts into words what I have not been able to comprehend myself.

The other day when I was recreating my training plan to reflect training by time instead of by miles, I got into this crazy zone of calculating paces and minimums and if I ran this fast for this many miles, I would build in this much cushion time before the cutoff....

You can seriously drive yourself crazy doing that.

And, while I thought I was helping myself at least feel like I could finish the race, as a friend told me and I couldn't quite see right away, I am actually hurting myself.

Even consciously, I seem to be constantly telling myself that this is impossible. It would be too wonderful to finally finish this distance. Too brilliant that my training and hard work would actually pay off. Too incredible for my body to accomplish this and have my dream of finishing a 50 miler become reality.

I'm struggling to have faith in myself (the irony of the blog title 'Diary of a Badass' is not lost on me at this moment...seeing as I usually cannot convince myself that I am actually a badass). I am notoriously hard on myself for workouts and bad running performances and I've kind of built in this negativity towards myself with fitness. 'I'm not strong enough. Oh sure, you sound impressed that I can do this distance, but let me detail to you how unimpressive it really is and how weak I actually am.' I'm SO good at that.

Someone will say, 'WOW! You did a 50K? That's a lot of K's!'

And I'll say in response, 'Yeah...well, I finished, but it took me 10 hours, and I wanted to quit the whole time. Actually, the only reason I finished was because I met this new friend and she pushed me to the finish line. I didn't really run...so it's not that impressive. Anyone can walk that far...'

When someone pays me a compliment, in two seconds flat I am talking them out of it. Giving reasons and excuses as to why they shouldn't say that about me. It's one thing to be humble...it's another thing to be completely pessimistic about yourself. And unfortunately, I'm always the latter.

I often use the fact that I walk during my runs, or that I'm a back of the packer to justify my negative view of myself as a runner and athlete.

Yes, I run at a 12:30 pace, but I can carry myself through 31 miles. I should be proud of that.

Like they say:







I really love this one:


I say AMEN to that one. I think I need it poster size, hung up all over work and the house so I can have a constant reminder. I have had so many days/moments since starting my training for this fifty miler where I have just wanted to throw in the towel. It is not easy to train for a fifty mile trail race. It's made even harder when you have a constant bad attitude.

So, I need to let all my fears go about not being fast enough and missing a cutoff or my body falling apart. One of the great things about ultras is that they are unpredictable. You can do everything in your power to prepare, but you never know what the day will throw at you.

I'm going to stop beating myself up. I'm going to do my best. And it's going to be good enough for me.

After all...I just need to K.I.S.S.

(keep it simple, stupid). Running is just putting one foot in front of the other.