Well, Sometimes Stuff Happens…

So, this isn’t the race report I wanted it to be.  In fact, it’s not a race report at all.  What did I want it to be?  A story about learning from last year…getting the nutrition right…having fun, and rocking this thing.  And getting my swag.  What did happen?

My right hip tightened….a lot. And somewhere between the double days at Orange Theory and the double digit miles on the trails, it tightened to the point I could no longer ignore it…or run on it.  Or walk.  Yeah…good times. It all started, well, I guess I don’t really know when.  Post Giants 10k, my hamstring was tight…not the end of the world.  I had a massage, and he found something in my glute…the minute that released….I knew. Ahhh…..relief.  But, then the tightness moved.  From the back of my leg to the front, and it was worse in the front.  For awhile, I was able to push through it.  I mean, what Ultrarunner doesn’t?  If you run that much, something always hurts.  

But, it didn’t go away.  Massages, doctors, days off between runs…nothing seemed to work. I tried all the stretches I learned last year when I strained all the muscles in my hip. Nothing worked.  I finally went to g-sports, the PT place Brian went to fix his hip, and…progress. Actually, a lot of progress. If you’re hurting, go there. They are amazing. The leg IS healing and WILL get better.  Unfortunately, not in time for this race, but making this difficult decision hopefully set me up for a future race.  And, of course it’s sad…remembering my post race stumble home – exhausted, chafed, sick, but with, holy crap, I finished, on my tongue…that feeling. Accomplishment. Surprise. Finally being clean enough to pull what I thought was all of my swag out of a bag I use with every run (I found the mousepad and a wine opener a day later…yeah out of it…).  But, eh…if I don’t think about it, it’s cool. 

My family’s here, and I love seeing my family, so instead of spending more than half the day running, I spent it with them.  We spent most of the day playing tourist in the city…well, I guess I was playing tourist. They don’t live here.  Anyway, we spent the day at the wharf…lunch at the rainforest cafe, museum at boudin, ice cream at ghiradelli….and I’m pretty sure more food than any human should ever eat. Haha. If you’re not going to run 50 miles, you should at least eat like you did, right?!  I love my family and am thankful I got to spend the day with them. Without a race. For over a week :). 

Where do I go from here?  The same place I feel like I always do…forward.  There will be other races…there are other races.  I think I’ve already found one to work towards.  Cool Moon in Cool in August.  I’m pretty sure my leg is just about back to normal, and August will give me time to finish healing and train back up for the race.  It’s also a new race, a new adventure, and maybe just what I need. 

So, here’s a farewell to my spring race season, here’s to coming back and getting even with Lake Sonoma next year, and here’s to something new…a summer race, more time to train, and maybe even a new PR.  

T-Minus 3 Weeks & Counting…

When did it become the end of March?  When did Lake Sonoma become three weeks away?  Why do I not feel more ready?

Since I hadn’t seen the course since last year’s race, I decided to head out to Lake Sonoma for my first long training run post-Way Too Cool.  While I didn’t remember the exact exit, I did remember how to get there once I got off the exit.  Once I got there (exit 505, by the way), it was like an old friend welcoming me back.  I passed the spot just before 101 south that we pulled over last year so Brian could dig out some sprite for me…also the place I puked at mile 61, but minor detail ;).

I got to the rec area and found Liberty Glen without a problem.  I passed by the familiar sites of no-name flat and the marina along the way (the turn-around and the start/finish).  I was even able to confirm with a ranger that I could park there for the day while I ran.  It was surprisingly sunny, so I smeared on some sunscreen, through on my ankle braces and shoes, and I was off. Shortly before I left, I realized the car key I’ve been unable to find was in my running pack….great!  Of course, that meant the pocket wasn’t full of food…not so great.  Oh well, I had two Gu packets….should be fine for the ten miles I’d plan to run before I stopped back at my car.

I made one small detour before I got on the course….the trails are rarely used and not marked in too many places.  It didn’t take me long to find some pink and black ribbons, indicating the course, most likely left from last weekend’s training run.  Once I was on the course, it was a simple out and back to the turn around, which should’ve been about five miles.

Except, it wasn’t…or I overran it.  Really, I overran it.  I thought I saw it, but thought it was too quick or something.  Looking at the map now, it actually wasn’t.  Of course, I didn’t know that…so I kept going.  Decided if I didn’t see the turn around by seven miles, I’d turn then.  Would mean I was more than halfway to the twenty I’d planned when I got back to my aid station/car.  I ate my last gu shortly before I turned around.  Seven miles back to the car, I could make that….usually, I can do about ten miles before I NEED food.  And, I had plenty of water….

So, back I went…or so I thought.  I kept watch on the mileage, and knew I’d be back at my car somewhere between mile 13 and 15, depending on how long my early detour was….somewhere around mile 11, the water was gone.  Well, I’d survived three miles straight up Mt. Diablo in August sans water, I could do three or four of rolling hills at 60 degrees (30-40 degrees cooler than Diablo).  But, mile 14 came and went, so did 15….and as much as everything looked the same, this part of the trail didn’t necessarily, but was still oddly familiar.

I was lost.  For those of you playing the at home game, I’m now out of food, out of water, and lost.  Add to that a really tight right leg.  This wasn’t good.  But of course I continued down the hill.  And down some more.  And then more.  And then I knew this wasn’t right.

I wasn’t sure that the outcrop trail was the right way to go, but at least it looked like it led to the road.  So, I start d making my way back up.  I ran into a couple of hikers, and asked them if they knew which trail would lead up to Liberty Glen….they said there was a campground, but they didn’t think it was Liberty Glen.  However, they did confirm I could get up to the road.

So, now up, up, and up some more I went.  What I wouldn’t give for some water.  Luckily, there’s plenty of water all over since the lake has been flooded all spring.  Of course, stream water was really a last resort.  I was so glad to see the outcrop trail about half a mile up the trail.  Looking back on my day at that point, I realized outcrop trail is probably the name for the trail heading up to the road, rather than a trail itself.  Anyway, I headed up that trail, which was up a rather steep hill, but there were campers at the top, and Liberty Glen is the only campground you can drive into.  So, I was hopeful.  Worst case, maybe someone would be able to give me directions and spare some water.

I got to the top of the hill and saw Slimer.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see my car.  And water.  And food.  Ended up with 16 miles…short of the 20 I wanted, but hopefully the mental training pays off…at least that’s what I tell myself.

Today brought a ten mile turned 10k shakeout run.  Ugh is my right leg tight.  Which of course just adds to the pre-race stress.  For as many times as I remind myself that I’ve done this before and can do it again, there are just as many thoughts about how few ‘good runs’ I’ve had, how WTC went so much better last year, how tight my right leg is, etc., etc….which makes me wonder if I can actually do it again.  I mean, I’d like to think it can’t get worse than last year, but….famous last words….Sigh…I can do this, right?

Until next time….

Well, it was better than North Face – WTC Race Report

After more training runs in the rain than I can count, race number one of spring race season was here.  I felt…unprepared…not as unprepared as North Face, but not nearly as ready as I was last year.  I’m not even really sure why…probably that hip injury and the four months I took off from running had something to do with it.  But, that’s life…

Getting to the race was way easier than last year.  I have the ability to work from home a couple of days a month, so we left just after noon and I worked on the way to Auburn.  Wayyyyy less traffic.  Took just over three hours compared to the five plus it took last year.  Of course,  last year the world would’ve ended if I worked remotely, so couldn’t leave the South Bay until 3:30, but that’s a story for another day ;).

We got to Auburn and headed right to Auburn Running Company so I could pick up my bib.  Number 600, that’s fun.  Then we quickly checked into the hotel, the same Super 8 as last year and I’m pretty sure the same room.  We grabbed dinner at Auburn Brewing Company (much better than the highway side Carl’s Jr.).  It was delicious – nothing like pre-race mac and cheese and some good beer to match.  Wendell, Leng and the kids joined us later on, so it became a nice dinner with friends. Fun way to chill out and relax away the pre-race nerves.

Since we already had our bibs, Leng and I were less concerned with getting to the start super early.  Brian was also with me this year, so I wasn’t as worried about a long hike to the car post-race  either.  This meant we didn’t need to leave until 6:30, we could get up at 6.  A delicacy on a race morning.

Getting to the race was easy…easier than I remember.  And, parking wasn’t too crazy either.  We had about an hour before the race started, but stayed in the car as long as possible – it was freezing out!  No rain this year, but way colder than I remember.

A quick stop at the porta-potty and it was time to start.  I said quick hello’s to Brazen Mike from last year and Leng and I took a fun photo with Penny and her chicken.  The first mile and a half passed pretty quickly, though not as quickly as last year, I later learned.

Miles 1-8

The first eight miles are all pretty much on single track, winding in a circle back to the fire station.  I remember this part last year, and how it forced me to keep running (not necessarily a bad thing).  This year, there was some running, but for some reason, I remember it being more congested than before…there were certain points traffic just stopped.  Somewhere around mile three, I noticed the shirtless kamikaze descender man from last year.  Good news – he was in front of me.  If there’s someone that’s going to fly down the hill and possibly take people down, the best place for them is in front of you.  But, I ended up passing him and didn’t see him again.

The trails were very much like I remembered them, the knee (now thigh) deep water was still there, it was overall pretty runable, and before I knew it, I was back at the start getting high-fives from Brian, Wendell and the kids.  I grabbed some food and electrolytes from the aid station, chatted with Brian a bit, and I was off.  The music playing as I ran reverse through the finish line got me going again, and I was on my way to the quarry.

Miles 8 – 13.1

The path down to the quarry was also much like I remembered it, but far less treacherous than it seemed last year.  I also felt like I was in no man’s land for most of the three miles, which was odd considering there were over 900 runners.  I got to the highway crossing and down into the quarry, and found a bunch of other runners.

I made it a point to run more through the quarry this year, which resulted in slower mile splits.  I was still about a mile and a half ahead of where I’d planned to be, so whatever, I’ll take it.  After what seemed like forever, I saw ‘aloha’ signs and around the corner was the next aid station.  I grabbed some electrolytes (who knew they had tea flavored and that it would taste good?), Sprite, and snacks, thanked the volunteers, and I was off.  Before I left one of the ladies asked if I wanted my pack refilled.  I told her I thought I was good…a decision that became a rookie mistake and impacted the rest of my day.

Miles 13.1 – 21

Two-ish miles after the aid station, you start the climb out of the quarry.  Last year, I remember feeling like I was done somewhere around mile 19.  This year, I wanted to be done around mile 17 and was out of water by mile 18.  Not good…not good at all.  I also started to feel the acid reflux fun I’d experienced during Lake Sonoma come back.  And I thought I might break Coach Lindsay’s no puking in the gym rule, but, it was three miles to the aid station.  Three miles, three miles, I can do this….then, two miles…two miles, I’ve got this….so on and so forth, until I was making my way down the steep hill to the mile 21 aid station.  I felt my knee hyperextend just before I got to the bottom…luckily, no damage done, and the guys behind me gave me a friendly warning to be careful.

I was so glad to be at an aid station.  They helped me refill my pack (even though I couldn’t get it open), gave me some broth, and hooked me up with Vaseline (damn chaffing).  I didn’t stay too long before I bit the forest oasis goodbye and headed towards the infamous Goat Hill.

Miles 21 – 26

The next few miles passed as a blur…nothing too noteworthy about them, and I remember being frustrated I wasn’t at Goat Hill yet.  And then I hit what I thought was Goat Hill…except it was some random course reroute.  Up a mini Goat Hill in preparation for the bigger one.  Finally getting to Goat Hill, it was definitely tougher than I remembered it being.  I still didn’t stop going up it, but definitely slower than last year.

I hit the aid station, no Larry this year, but I did get some more broth and a salted potato, along with some liquids and Vaseline, before I was on my way.  So ready to be done….

Miles 26 – Finish

Leaving mile 26, I was able to run more than last year, I think…but still overall slower.  I met a couple of ladies who asked me if this was the hardest 50k I’d done….unfortunately no.  It just didn’t seem like it was my day.

More trails, a few creeks, and a lot of mud later, I hit the last aid station.  Not sure why there’s one so close to the end, but I didn’t stop there this year and just jogged through with a wave.

Coming out of that aid station is about a mile of trail that rivals the dipsea, but without the stairs.  Just what you want at mile 30…short, steep, climbs.  That part ends with about a half mile that winds to the finish line.  30.5 miles, just over eight hours (40 minutes slower than last year :(), and a lot of ‘am I there yet’ moments, I’d finished my second Way Too Cool.

So, with one finish under my belt, I look towards Lake Sonoma.  Where last year, Cool was the vote of confidence heading into my first successful 50 miler, this year, I think it was a wake-up call.  I need more long runs…probably more double days at the gym.  I’m not even sure I care about getting faster at the moment (let’s be honest, if I mearly run after mile 32 at Lake Sonoma, I’ll be in better shape), but I do want to do as much prep as I can so it’s a good experience for as long as possible.  Here’s to an extra week of training runs, more long runs, and hopefully a good race at Sonoma.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring….It Must be Spring Race Season….

So, here we are…a year after this post and nearly a year after this one.  I’d love to say that I’m in a better place, that I’m a stronger runner, that I came back from the hip injury and the North Face and got it together and got trained…I guess to some extent, I did.

While my overall mileage leaves something to be desired, I did get my workouts in as planned.  Who knew it would be so difficult to get in 40 miles without a trail behind the office?  And having only one day to run most weekends.  And the rain…who could forget the rain.

I do have two 16 milers under my belt…last year, I only had one.  And, I have a handful of back to back Orange Theory workouts in too.  The team at Mission Bay has been great with helping me train – double classes, class and a half, extra tread work.  Last year, the thought of more than an hour would have been enough to do me in.  This year, 5am and 6:15….or 6:15 and 7:30…BRING IT.  A Tornado workout with a double treadmill block (rather than the knee-breaking rower)…I’m all over that.  At least until we hit the 6% incline.  Hopefully the early mornings (ass kickings) and double workouts payoff where the overall mileage is lacking.

But, I’m still nervous.  After the hip injury and the holidays and the plague and more plague, I was more out of shape than I realized.  I hadn’t gotten on a scale in…I don’t know how long.  When I did, it wasn’t good.  I’m still running slower than I was last year.  But, I’m running…so I have that going for me.

Overall, I’d like to be faster than I was last year.  Early weather predictions don’t show any rain, so I have that going for me too (or maybe not…I’m not sure I know what to do with myself if it doesn’t pour).  While my overall pieces of the race might not be faster than last year, there are places on the course that I didn’t run very much last year and I’d like to change that this year (read, the really flat portion between miles 12 and 18).   And, the last six or so were so muddy last year, they were pretty much un-runable by the time I got there.  If both of those change, but the rest holds constant, I should be fine.  Right?

Once I get there and get going, I’m sure I’ll be fine.  Anyone who has been to one of these Ultra/Ironman-ish things with me knows how much fun I am on race morning.  Ugh..race morning on a long day.  I don’t think there’s anything worse…well…there’s lots worse, but I digress.  Leng is running this year, so I’ll have a friend at the start line…that will be fun.

So, here we go…spring race season.  May this year be better than the last.  May they both be fun…well, as fun as a 50k and 50 mile race can be.  I’m as ready as I’m going to be…after three more Orange Theories and some weekend miles….I’ve got this….

But, is it wrong that I’m already looking forward to my post-race cupcake and Sufferfest Beer?

When did it become November??

More than that, how is Black Friday only a week away?  Haha…can you tell I’m back in retail?  But seriously…where did the year go?  Where did these past four months go?  I started the new job in July…it’s now November…that’s only four months.  But, it feels like much longer than that.  In a good way.  I’m still really liking it.  I’m excited to be part of the holiday craziness once again.  And, I’m not afraid that I’ll be awake for 29 hours straight over Black Friday, so there’s that.  Also a good thing.

And as it suddenly became November, it suddenly became fall.  I LOVE fall and all the holidays.  Halloween and bad horror movies…and The Nightmare Before Christmas, our kick-off to the holiday season movie.  Then Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and most likely some tree decorating, before it’s back to New York to spend Christmas with our families.

And holiday means December, and December means North Face.  Oh North Face.  Currently, I’m signed up for the 50 mile…I need to figure out how to officially change that.  I’m nowhere near trained for 50 miles…and I really, really want to do Lake Sonoma again and with my track record, I’d never recover from a December 50 miler in time to run a spring one.  So, I’m looking at the 50k.  Hoping for the 50k.  But we’ll see how this weekend’s training goes.  As always, I’m behind and feeling under-trained.  And my hamstring is sore and tight.  Ugh.  But I still have one week of heavy training left.  That counts for something, right?  I suppose there’s always the marathon if this weekend doesn’t pan out…since it’s supposed to pour both Saturday and Sunday.  But, what’s a little rain and mud, right?  It will give me a chance to make sure my warm running clothes are still warm since I haven’t worn them since Way 2 Cool….and I’ll most likely need them for North Face.

While my weekend runs have been lackluster due to sickness, the hole I seem to keep tearing in the back of my right heel, a busted up hip, and whatever else seems to come up, I have been steady at the gym.  Hopefully four or five days each week at Orange Theory can help make up for the mileage gaps.  Hopefully.  I mean, those classes still kick my butt, especially as I’ve gotten back into running.  But, I’ve gotten my push pace up to where it was before my hip injury.  And my base is almost there…sometimes it is, depending on the length of the block.  It takes me a little longer to warm up, so the endurance days work well for me.

Only time will tell, I suppose.  The good news, these are my trails and my hills, and I’ve maintained some level of base fitness.  The bad news, the mileage, that got me through Cool and Sonoma…just isn’t there.  And this is North Face…which has tried to take me down on more than one occasion.  Can I survive on Orange Theory alone?  Only time will tell.  Hopefully in two weeks I’ll be able to say – nemesis conquered.  Or, bad things come in threes, and this race will finally take me down.

Until next time….

First, Forget All the Rules

Well, what a difference a year makes, in so many ways….

First, Labor Day Weekend wasn’t that long ago, and instead of stressing over a smashed car and how I was going to get to Redwood City, and trying to get a hold of the insurance company, I enjoyed my weekend.  I spent Saturday working at Coastal’s Point Pinole race directing runners – now that was an adventure.  Saturday night, Brian and I tried a new restaurant on 24th St. – Novi….well, the restaurant was new, we just hadn’t been there before.  I’m not sure why, creatures of habit, I guess.  It was delicious.  Great food with a Mediterranean flair, and our waiter was fabulous.  Then, we hit our new favorite wine bar…also not new, but we’ve only been there a couple of times.  Sunday, we did a whole lot of nothing….but we love bad movie Sunday and doing nothing.  Monday we went out to Mt. Tam to get in a run for the holiday.  First trail run for me since….April, I think.  Regardless, first trail run since my hip has actually been allowed to heal.  It was great until I tore open the back of my foot…damn blister.  Oh well….at least that’s easily heal-able.

Next, I’m six(ish) weeks into the new job.  And…and I just love it.  I love the work, the people, my boss, my team, the industry in general.  I’m excited to go to work for the first time in a very long time…no more Monday blues….or Tuesday blues…or Wednesday blues…or, well, you get the idea.  Its been great learning a new brand and a new team, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

And, then there was the race.  My first since April.  Not that I had a ton planned, but I did have to sit that one in August out (look at me learning how healing works ;)).  I’d signed up for the Giants Race 10k with a friend several months ago, and since I was allowed to start running again, it wasn’t that far (I’ve hiked nearly twice that distance several times in the recent past), and the miles I’d done at the gym had gone well, I figured – why not?  And actually, it ended up being a good time.

Packet pick-up was far easier than the emails made it out to seem – even though I was there at a supposedly key time.  Got my bib, t-shirt, a bunch of pins, and a creepy bobble head.  I almost offered it to the gym when I popped in there…I totally should have.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with it….

Anyway…race morning was pretty seamless too.  I was super early, which I guess was good, since I’d done minimal planning the night before (read – I threw my entire bag from packet pickup into my running bag).  So, luckily, I was early and had time to sort the bib and pins and breakfast and whatever else I had going on.  With 45 minutes or so to start, I headed over toward the start line.  Not a far walk, but you never know what the port-a-potty situation is going to be.  It wasn’t awful, and soon I was making my way towards my corral.  Before I got there, I heard my name…one of my friends/former co-workers from Old Navy was there volunteering.  So great to see her and catch up for a bit.

I found my corral with several thousand of my closest friends…a far cry from the Fro-yo run back in April.  And, somehow managed to find Leng just as we started the race.  So, just as I suspected, I chased her for the first three miles….which actually passed pretty quickly, and seemingly before I knew it, we were passing signs that said half marathon – straight, 10k – left.  Granted, we passed these signs for at least half a mile.  I’d say they made it impossible to over-run the turn-around, but I know better.  There’s always one.  But, again, pretty quickly, I was giving Leng a hug, wishing her luck and heading back towards the finish.

My last three miles were for the most part, slower than my first three.  I did manage to pick it up for the last mile and point two.  Overall, three minutes slower than my 10k in April, but not bad for not having been able to run much since then.  It was on pavement too….way harder than the trail I ran on last weekend.  Apparently all my Orange Theory power walking paid off.  And there’s always that 10k in October to get even….once I’m even more healthy.

So, Giants Race…definitely a fun experience.  Well organized event…other than for the poor souls leading the 10k who had to run like salmon for their last three miles, but overall, fun and I’d do it again.

And well, another month has gone by.  I feel like I say this a lot, but where did August go?  When did it become September?  I have got to get better about updating this, but I guess that’s what happens…life happens.  It’s already September….here’s to continuing to love the new gig, here’s to North Face (50K this year!), and everything in between.  But, until then…over and out.

Third Time’s the Charm – Lake Sonoma 50 Race Report

“It’s impossible”, said Pride. “It’s risky”, said Experience. “It’s pointless”, said Reason. “Give it a try”, whispered the Heart. – unknown

Wow…where to even begin.  I could begin with the North Face DNF’s, which led me to try a different race….I could start with the race weather, rain rain and more rain….I could start with the irony of finding out I got into the race on a day I had the flu and was struggling to keep gatorade down.  But, I think I’ll start with a quote I saw online from running club coach, Mike Fanelli.

“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.”

Well, before we go there, I will forewarn everyone that parts of this might be TMI.  But, that’s ultra running and I might as well be honest.

A couple of other miscellaneous logistical details for anyone reading this and doing the race/considering the race.  We stayed at the Wine Country Inn & Suites in Cloverdale.  Great hotel, seemed like it may have been recently remodeled.  When I checked in, they were very nice and gave us a complimentary upgrade to a suite.  We had dinner at Piacere Ristorante Italiano…one of the only restaurants in Cloverdale, but it was amazing.  Quaint, family run, restaurant, and everyone was so friendly…and the food was delicious.  As I ate all of my garlic bread, fettuccine alfredo, and chicken, I was glad I had 50 miles to burn it off the next day.  Haha!

Anyway, on to the race….

“Divide the race into thirds”

Over the past week I did a lot of thinking about the quote and my race plan and how I would divide the race.  Somehow, I knew even thirds wouldn’t work for me.  If I was going to get through 50 miles and 11,000+ feet of elevation solo, I had to do it differently.

My first third was really a half – the first 25 miles.  The next third was about 13 miles, and would take me to the cursed mile 38.  The last third was the 12 miles from there to the finish.  I figured if I could get through the cut-off at mile 38, I would make it to the finish.

“Run the first part with your head” 

Checking in, dropping my drop bags, and getting ready were pretty uneventful.  As the time for the race to start drew closer, everyone was just kind of milling about, waiting for Tropical John to get us going.  He directed everyone up to the road, and pretty quickly after that – we were off.

The first 2.3 miles were on the paved road.  Not my favorite…well, not my knee’s favorite, but it did allow the field to spread out.  I jogged the downhills and hiked the uphills.  At one point, another runner commented on how he was having to jog to keep up with my hike.  haha…here we go again.  I can be known in the ultra community as the fast hiker.  I like it.

Jumping onto the trail was a nice relief from the pavement, and while the field had thinned out, there were still plenty of people around.  Some passed me….some I passed.  I recognized some of them from Way Too Cool in March.  Kind of fun to see the same people and get to know them.  One of the ladies I met there, recognized me as the ‘fast hiker’ from Way Too Cool.  I got her started again at that Cool and later on in evening when Brian was waiting for me to finish before the cut-off, she (after running 50 miles) was ready to back track on the trails and make sure I got in before the cut-off.

The first 18 miles passed in a blur…there were the water only aid stations at Island View and Wulfow, I was 20 minutes early to meet Brian at Warm Springs where we uneventfully swapped out my pack, and there was at least one river crossing.  Oh the river crossings….if we weren’t old friends yet, we definitely are now.  And I’ve learned to handle them like a bull in a china shop….tear right through.  No time to skip from rock to rock.  And it’s raining….we’re wet anyway.

I hit the Madrone aid station and spent a little more time there than I should have.  I didn’t realize that the crews were at the top of the hill and the aid station was at the bottom, and I thought maybe I’d gotten ahead of Brian or something.  So I had the volunteers fill my bag, I had some coke and a sandwich, and was on my way up the hill.

And good god, the hills.  I had trained on all of them at least once and they weren’t that bad.  But in the race….wow.  Rough.  And the weird acid-like-puke-whatever it is that I get sometimes chose that moment to come to life.  Awesome.  I stopped to see Brian at the top of the hill…yay for Brian and the top of the hill.  But, I was pretty much good to go since I’d refilled at the aid station below.  So, off I went, acid issue in tow.

The trail between Madrone and the turn around continued to roll, though the ups and downs were longer.  There were only three large hills on elevation profile, but I feel like I only remember two of them.  The climb out of Madrone was definitely the worst, and I’m glad it wasn’t the warm, sunny day I had been wishing for.  The faster runners had also started their journey back from the turn around at this point, so watching for them and cheering them on kept me occupied while I continued to climb and attempt to keep the acid at bay.

By the time I got to the turn around, I was ready for something….I wasn’t sure what, but definitely something.  Brian was there and he refilled my pack and electrolyte bottle.  Asked if I wanted to sit for a minute, but I decided not to.  I was pretty sure if I sat down, I wasn’t getting back up.  At some point, one of the volunteers handed me my drop bag.  I didn’t need it, but one less thing to try to collect later.  Since the broth was so amazing during Way Too Cool, I asked if there was any broth.  Sadly, there wasn’t.  No salted potatoes either.  So I had a couple of potato chips and headed back out.

“Run the middle part with your personality”

Despite feeling awful, I decided I was going to try to have fun on the way back.  While I knew I was currently moving fast enough to finish, I knew that the worse I felt, the slower I was going to move…hopefully some fun would keep me moving faster.

I chatted with another runner climbing out of the aid station – she had a rough first half, but was feeling better and was on her way shortly.  I could only hope that I’d start feeling better soon.  Coming out of the larger rollers, I was back to a swamp like piece of trail full of wet mud.  It had tried to take my shoe on the way out, but luckily, I won.  I tried to be careful crossing it the second time, but apparently my luck had run out.  The mud tried to take my shoe again, which thankfully, it didn’t.  It did however, make sure to hold tight to one shoe so when my other foot slid, there was nowhere to go but down.  Awesome.  I love falling in the mud at mile 27…28?  I’m not sure.  Well, nothing to do but get up, try to shake out my shoes and wipe off my hands (turns out clothing makes a great towel….).

A short while later, another runner came up behind me.  She told me that I was awfully muddy.  Yup, sure am…that’s what happens when you fall in the mud….we chatted about making the cut-offs (we thought we’d be ok if we made the 4:30 at Warm Springs), how fast I was walking, and how she was hoping there were still quesadillas at the next aid station.

I was welcomed back into Madrone by Brian holding a cup of warm broth.  Amazing….so thankful there was a crew with some to spare.  As I took the cup, I looked at him and said, ‘I fell in the mud’….he told me it looked like it and asked if I wanted different shoes.  I didn’t want to stop, so took one last sip of the broth and headed down the giant hill I’d climbed up a few miles ago.

I don’t really remember the miles between Madrone and Warm Springs….I remember the guys at Wulfow telling me and the lady I’d met shortly before Madrone that we had plenty of time to make the 4:30 cut-off.  I remember getting so sick of the acid that I finally decided to stop and see what would happen if I gave in and threw it up.  It worked…sort of.  It at least went away for a few minutes after that.  And so began my last 18 miles.  Hike the uphills, jog the downhills, throw up….rinse, repeat….and is it really all that surprising that my lottery of pain ends similar in fashion to how it started?

I jogged down to the Warm Spring aid station with plenty of time before the cut-off.  Brian welcomed me with an open can of Sprite (come on Sprite…save the day) and my headlamp.  I took the Sprite while he secured the headlamp in my bag.  After that, I was quickly on my way.  I was still nervous about finishing on time, but everyone assured me I could do it.  That put some spring back in my step and I jogged out of the aid station, down a hill and across a creek.

“Run the last part with your heart”

The last twelve were definitely the toughest.  Which they should be, but the acid puking continued…it might have even gotten worse, I don’t really know.  At some point I tried Pepto and that didn’t really help.  I just know I was ready to be done.  I was hoping for local wildlife to eat me….or a boar hunter (or anyone) to shoot me.  I desperately wanted to quit, but somehow, kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I thought of everything I’ve done in the past that was tougher or hurt more….I thought of the times I wasn’t able to finish and how this time, I was going to…I thought of all the training; the early mornings, the late nights…but most of all, I just thought about being done.  I thought that the description of the course – relentlessly rolling, was more than accurate….and while it was trying to get the best of me, guess what course…I’m relentless too.  So, I pressed on, climbing over downed trees….ducking under them….why did it seem like there were more going back than there were on the way out?

Soon after leaving Warm Springs, I realized that the wet clothes had taken their toll on my skin.  My stomach was chafed….the back of my legs were chafed.  Just ouch.  And of course I had ten or eleven miles left to go and no more drop bags or crew to pass.  Well, my choices were limited, since I’m pretty sure running without clothes is frowned upon…and cold, so on I went.  I did stop at one point to reapply body glide right there on the trail.  I think it was past the point of being helped though.  Luckily, I wouldn’t find out how bad it was until I was home.  Not good…

Sometime shortly after discovering the chafing, I was hiking along and stepped on some muddy rocks.  I was fine, but they seemed to be stuck in my shoe…awesome.  And of course I couldn’t get whatever it was off.  So I had to stop.  And try to pull whatever out of my shoe. Except there wasn’t anything stuck there.  It was rubber from the bottom of my shoe.  Apparently two wet, muddy, river crossing – filed, races were too much for it and it broke.  Well, great.   I can’t have rubber hanging off my shoe, that seems like the fast track to tripping.  So, here I am in the woods, trying to use one foot to step on the rubber and tear it off the other.  How I managed to rip it off and not fall, I don’t know.  Only me.  Not wanting to litter, I shoved the muddy piece of shoe in my pack with the gu.  At that point, I wasn’t eating much anyway.  Stupid shoe…stupid timing.  Again, no more drop bags or crew to pass, where I had extra shoes.  Of course….

After far too long, I made it down to the Island View aid station.  Down another hill that of course I’d have to come back up.  I got down and checked in with a guy who could’ve been Alan Alda’s brother.  He let me know I was going to finish and congratulated me.  Only 4.7 to go from here.  Asked me if my stomach was ok….I let him know it hadn’t been since mile 30.  He asked if I was puking….I let him know only since mile 32.  He gave me some coke and let me know that it happens sometimes.  He asked if I was #297….I told him that sounded right.  I was #279…..yeah running delirium….

On my way in and out of Island View, I did see some other runners.  It was nice to remember I wasn’t out there alone after being in no man’s land for so long.  Though, they were all ahead of me…I was pretty sure I was DFL.  Except I wasn’t.  Close, but not quite haha…

Somewhere between Island View and the finish, I fished out my headlamp.  I think it was right around the 48 mile mark.  I also passed a spectator around the same time who congratulated me, cheered me on, and let me know how far I had to go.  The trail to the finish line felt pretty treacherous in the dark, even with a headlamp.  I ran this trail on the first training run I did at Lake Sonoma, and it was a lot of zigging and zagging around rocks in the light, much more of an adventure in the dark.  I reminded myself that I’d swept Dipsea in the dark…and if I did that, I could handle the mile or so that was left of this.  I’d done 49 already.  What was one more.

I saw the finish line in the distance, and then heard it before I got there.  I wanted to run it in, but didn’t want to start too early….I didn’t want to add the finish line to the list of places I’d puked.  The finish was a little confusing, and I’m sure I was delirious, so that didn’t help…but I came out of the woods, unsure of which way to go. It was only around some bushes, so not a huge deal….but, it was late, I was tired, and literally 200m away.  I tiredly asked a volunteer for help, and she directed me around the bushes (there was a small flag there, which up until then had meant don’t go this way….) and to the red light that was the finish.  The one time you want to go towards the light.  So around I went and over to the finish.  I remember someone telling me to watch out for a concrete barrier a few seconds before I actually saw it…thank you headlamp.

Then, it was on to the finish line flags.  And, despite my late finish, there was a decent sized crowd to cheer me in.  I heard Brian cheering for me and saw Tropical John standing by clock, but for some reason I didn’t know where to stop.  Where do I stop?  I asked.  Brian told me to keep going and Tropical John (and his wife?) held up their hands to high-five me as I came in.  Holy shit….I did it.  After so many times where I thought I wouldn’t….or couldn’t and an entire day of not being sure I’d actually make it in.  After two failed North Face attempts, I finished a race with more elevation and without a pacer.  A fall, a lot of puking, a broken shoe, and 13:51:55 later, I had actually done it.  I was pretty sure there would be tears…either tears of joy if I actually finished or tears of sorrow if I didn’t.  But, there weren’t.  I was really just thankful to finally stop moving.  I got my awesome swag (Marissa was right….this race really does have the best stuff), turned down the food, and headed for the car.  It was time for the wet, chaffing clothes to go away….and really time to go home.

All throughout the race, all I could think about was how I was never doing this again.  The 50k was fun.  Nothing about this was fun after mile….20 or so.  But, today is a new day, and despite a couple of issues, I still finished.  My legs actually felt fine…so I was trained…I was ready.  I was ahead of where I wanted to be until mile 25.  Had I not had the acid issues, maybe I would have stayed there.  I feel way better today than I did after my first marathon….than after the Honolulu Marathon.  At those times, who knew I’d ever want to go twice that distance.  So, let’s not rule doing it again out.  I mean, it will be awhile…maybe a year.  But Lake Sonoma happens every spring….

Thanks to Tropical John and the volunteers for putting on a great race.  Huge thanks to Brian for crewing and spending hours in the rain to cheer me on.  Being able to count on a friendly face at five different points on the course was amazing.  Thank you to my friends who spent time over the past few weeks talking me off the race ledge and assuring me that I could, in fact, do this.  And to the team at Orange Theory for kicking my butt and helping me get strong enough to finish, despite some race craziness.

“Impossible is Nothing” – Muhammad Ali

It’s race week – Let the stress…I mean final prep begin…

I think I like taper/pre-race weekends.  So much going on the past week and weekend, but it was all fun.  Not that running isn’t fun, but you know what I mean.  I took my last three Orange Theory classes for two weeks and got in my final pre-race run last week.  I wish I could say it was all sunshine and rainbows, but in reality, it was tight calves and hips and an eight mile run that became a three mile hike.  Thankfully, several friends were there to talk me off the race ledge.

I spent yesterday at Grizzly Peak with Coastal Trails doing everything and anything: a little bit of unloading, a little bit of check-in, a little bit of aid stations…..some driving of a large van (and I didn’t get lost….well, not really ;)).  But it was a beautiful day and I had fun working at a race I had tried to run last year (nothing like registering for a 50k, changing to 30k, and then finishing with the half).  I also saw Marissa for the first time in forever (really since January).  Good news!  She’s still running Lake Sonoma next weekend, so I’ll have some company out there.

Last night, we had our second book club dinner at Garcon in the Mission.  It was delicious!  French food to go along with our French book, All the Light We Cannot See.  And, well, I tried to read this one.  I ordered what I thought was the book on Amazon.  Except it wasn’t….it was janky cliff notes….not even real cliff notes.  Haha…but, they did give me all the main points so I could understand the discussion.  And, like high school, I’m sure if I had to write a paper on it, I could have done reasonably well.  Unfortunately, not like high school, I actually wanted the details (it sounded like a really good book).  I ordered the next book today, so there’s plenty of time for it to get here, be wrong, be corrected, and for me to still read it over the next month and a half.

Today, I’ve done nothing at all….I mean, I guess I did dishes and will probably hang up some clothes, and ran to the store, but other than that – nothing.  Should probably stretch or foam roll or something.

Which brings us to race week.  Goals for this week: stay healthy, stay injury free (the elliptical seems like a safe bet, but I’m sure I could find a way…), and, try not to panic.  I seem to be reminding myself of the third one on a regular basis…I’m either nervously excited, cautiously optimistic, or completely terrified, depending on when you ask me.

Friday, I checked the race weather.  Rain.  Awesome…thankfully, it was a 40% percent chance and I was headed right into the gym so couldn’t stress too much about it (then).  Last night, I checked it again…up to a 70% chance.  Really?  But, as several friends pointed out, the rain seems to be my thing.  Way Too Cool went really well.  Maybe it’s my good luck charm and I’ll finally finish a 50.

This morning, I made my list of race stuff for the grocery store: eight small bottles of Gatorade, two large bottles of Gatorade, eight small cans of Sprite, Benadryl…..a list that would have made my hyper-active, ten year-old self very happy.  I swear, races are just really an excuse to eat and drink everything I never would/should at any other time.

I made lists for each drop bag, the bags I’ll give Brian, and everything else I need to bring.  I started thinking through what needs to be in my pack – benadryl will now be a necessity, thank you, North Face for that lesson.  Of course, that may just make me drowsy and instead of dizzy and hypothermic, I can be sleepy and hypothermic.  Though, the rain should keep the bees away, right?

I’ve also spent time this past week thinking about (read, stressing about) pace.  I should be fine with the cut-offs, but once you run into problems with cut-offs, it’s always in the back of your mind.  But, I have to have some sort of a plan….if anything to let Brian know approximately when to find me where….and so I know when and where the cut-offs are.     But, nothing too crazy, just food for thought for the back of my mind.  I’m pretty sure anything more than that will unnecessarily stress me out this week and missing a self-imposed time during a tough mile in the race will be the last thing I need.  I have ideas and goals, but really just want to finish.

And, I think that’s pretty much the prep for the things I can control.  There’s the weather and the wildlife and my previous injuries and other people, but none of those are things I can do much about.  Other than plan for the worst, hope for the best, and know that I’ve trained for this and am more ready than I’ve ever been.  I’ve trained in the rain, in the heat, through the sick, when I didn’t want to, when I did want to….all with this goal in mind.  T-minus one week and counting….

 

It’s Raining, it’s Pouring, it’s the Perfect Time to Break in New Running Shoes

So, it’s recovery week.  Sort of.  I had planned to take the first half of the week off from working out and try to relax after the race.  But, by Tuesday I was a little (ok, a lot) stir crazy and decided taking an Orange Theory class a few days early wouldn’t hurt me.  And then I took three this week…yup….that’s my sort of recovery.  Well, my sort of recovery when I have five weeks until a 50-mile race.  I love that the only thing I can remember winning is my lottery of pain…

Anyway, after my three Orange Theory’s (for the record, I made it until halfway through the last one before I REALLY started feeling it and was pretty sure my body was all sorts of revolting), I headed out for my weekly run.  Taking it easy this week, I only planned 10 miles.  I mean, it’s been pouring off and on, but what would a rainy day be without me running in it.  And, what could be a better time to break in some new shoes.

I went and got a long overdue haircut (recovery week = time to do all the things I never have time to do), and headed out to Montara Mountain/San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica. I ran the second loop of the Coastal race I worked last month. I ran the steep, hilly, first part in early Feb, and it’s recovery week, so I opted to skip that piece. 

Despite the rain, it was pretty fun. Nepali flat….a little bit up, a little bit down – in this case, a mile up, mile down…two miles up, two miles down. Aside from some minimal soreness, I felt good. Almost like I could have gone further than the 10k I finished with…but it’s recovery week, and I was done for the day. I had enjoyed my six miles in the rain, and…yeah. Me and the rain. It was real, it was fun, it wasn’t real fun. I mean, like last weekend, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I didn’t really notice, but I’m good with running in the rain now.  I did have a chuckle at the hiker that stopped me to ask where the clearing/shelter was….dude, you’re on the side of a mountain in the windy rain, what did you expect?

I spent the rest of the weekend doing fun things…Brian and I went to Wicked on Saturday night (so good!). And had a mimosa infused brunch on Sunday while we watched it rain. 

But, like all good things, recovery week must come to an end.  Now that it’s officially over, it’s time to set my sights high…on the beast that is Lake Sonoma.  

Current plan:

  • Hit it hard the next two weeks (60-70) miles, back off slightly for a week, and then all out taper for a week before the race.
  • Maintain my current training plan of shorter runs on back to back days, since that seems to be working well for me.  But, increase the distance of the runs.  Something like 25/15 miles rather than 15/10.
  • Continue kicking my butt in Orange Theory classes.  But, increase from two or three each week to three or four.

Hopefully, that gets me to a place I can finish the race.  All other things aside, that’s what I’m looking for.  And, while Way Too Cool was a (huge) vote of confidence, truthfully, I’m terrified.  I don’t have the best track record with the 50 mile distance…or, really any track record at all.  There was the first time….all sorts of sick.  There was the second time…yup, knee the size of a watermelon (but I did get my 50 miles).  There was the third time…hypothermic with the medic at mile 37.

Could this be the first time I’m trained like I should be, and finish the distance?  I hope so.  I feel like I’ve put in so much more than I have in the past.  Almost to the point that I’m not really sure what I was thinking even starting the previous races.  This time…this time I want to finish.  And not be hypothermic with the medic….or hypothermic or in need of a medic (cause, let’s be honest…if you’re hypothermic, you probably need a medic…and with as much as I like breaking myself, there are dozens of other reasons I could be in need of a medic) but, I digress.  First, finishing.  And, if I’m really thinking crazy, maybe I can maintain my 4mph goal pace and finish while it’s still light outside.

Onward and upward….recovery is over….Orange Theory bright and early tomorrow. 

 

 

A Little Rain Never Hurt Anyone…Except the Wicked Witch of the West. WTC 50k Race Report

First, big thank you to my Aunt Mary for the blog title idea.  Second…I’m not even sure where to begin with this one.  What an epic day – Way Too Cool 50k, my first race since North Face, hopefully the first one I’d finish in over a year, and the first in my lottery of pain this spring.

I could start with the weather predictions I’d been tracking all week, but to make a long story short, it was rain.  All rain, all the time.  I could start with the hellacious drive up here, but again…long story short, it should have taken me three hours.  It took five.  Not fun, and not worth dwelling on.

So, on to the race.  As instructed, I got there early….really early.  The running joke is that I’m always early for the Coastal races (or course marking…and then I get lost, but I digress).  I took this to a new level.  Packet pick-up opened at 6.  I drove in at 5:30, right into some rockstar parking.  I was glad I had the hiking socks, rain boots, and rain jacket with me for the walk to check-in.  It was short, but wet.  They let me check in early and soon I was back in my car for a short nap.  Thank you rain for lulling me back to sleep for a bit.

I woke up an hour later, and to my surprise, it had stopped raining.  And…wait…is that the sun trying to come out?
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In the non-rain, I made my pre-race pit stop….again, being early is key.  No waiting at 7:15.  Then, it was back to my car to figure out what to wear.  I was so afraid of getting too cold and having another issue like North Face, so at first I took my black Marmot jacket and tied it into my pack.  Then, I thought long and hard…it wasn’t raining.  It was pretty warm.  I might need that space to strip off some layers.  So, I left it.  Good decision.  While I didn’t strip off any layers, I definitely didn’t need it.  I headed to the start in my SF Run Company tank, SF Run Company quilted long-sleeved thing that’s usually too hot to run in, a Nike vest (maybe down?), an a white windbreaker (no idea who made that).  Vest and windbreaker were new….so much for the nothing new on race day….staying warm is more important.

So many people at the start line, but I guess that’s what happens when 850+ people run a race.  And, I recognized a lot of them.  But, I guess that’s what happens when you’ve spent weekends working at trail races for a year.  It was great to have several familiar faces to chat with (as well as some new ones) to calm my pre-race nerves.

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Epic Parking.  I was equally close to the finish.

 

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Pre-race….layered up and nervous!

I was so glad it wasn’t raining at the start…I think that would have made it pretty tough to get going.  Once I started running, my nerves turned into energy and I ran the entire way down the pavement (knee, please forgive me) to the trail. The first four or so miles were really congested – single track and lots of people.  Had to go slower than I wanted in some places, but more often, I found myself forced to keep running when in the past I would have walked.  I briefly wondered if this would cause me a problem later in the race, but also thought it might be just what I needed.

While I was glad it wasn’t raining at the start, apparently staying dry wasn’t in the cards.  As I approached mile 2, I could hear people cheering and the entire pack seemed to slow down.  Up ahead was the first of many creek crossings.  Knee deep water.  At mile 2.

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I saw another guy pulling out his phone and decided he has the right idea.  I pulled over to the side and pulled out my water-proof camera.  I mean, if you’re going swimming at mile 2, might as well have some fun with it.  He looked at me and said, “we’re not going to qualify for Boston today, might as well have fun with it”.

The remaining miles of the 8-mile loop passed in a blur and before I knew it, I was back at the start/finish.  I was glad to see an aid station and grabbed some electrolytes and a rice krispie treat (not my favorite race food).  I had been thinking about stripping off a layer, but in the end, decided to keep them all on.  Of course, by now, it had started to rain.

Next aid was only 3ish miles away and mostly downhill.  I was shooting to maintain a 4 mph pace for the entire race, and a quick check on time told me I was about two miles ahead of that.  I decided to worry about the end of the race later and go with it.  So, off I went.  After a little more uphill….down we went.  It was a little sketchy, but I found myself far less skittish than I’ve been in the past.  I hooked on to another runner and followed him down the hill.

I also met a runner who I’ll call Brazen Mike (he had a Brazen Racing hat on, so that’s how I was identifying him before he introduced himself).  We traded places off and on through about mile 15, I think.  Miles 11-15 were probably my least favorite part of the race.  Trail was pretty flat, and they were some of my fastest miles of the day, but I really liked the single track, especially once the crowd had thinned out.  It was also almost completely exposed and it had started to rain harder.  But, the other runners were friendly and we got each other through.

I felt like I spent a lot of time hiking between 11 and 21.  It was rolling and I ran a lot of the downhills and hiked the slight uphills.  At some point, I decided I needed to hike it out for a bit and surprised myself at how fast I could hike.  I kept asking people if they wanted to pass me….and generally, they didn’t.  One guy told me he was going to follow me the rest of the race and let me hike him in at a PR.

Somewhere between 18 or 19 and before the aid station at 21, I started to lose it.  I was tired…and sick of slogging through the mud.  And the creek crossings.  Oh the creek crossings.  Was there ever going to be an end.  I think somewhere in there is where I almost went swimming…thankfully, another runner grabbed my shoulders from behind and kept me upright.  The journey to the aid station seemed very long and I was desperate for some electrolytes.  Or something.  I wasn’t really sure.  Maybe just the desire to be 10 miles from the finish.  But, in typical ultra fashion, the five or six of us grouped together got each other through.  Kudos to the guy who helped me down the very, very steep switch backs to the aid station.  My legs were tired.  I was hurting.  It was slick, steep, and had I been closer to the end, I may have just tried to slide down on my butt.

I thought I might be in trouble, but that aid station was like magic.  First, I realized a two things: one, I was going to blow my previous 50k time out of the water (2014 Tamalpa 50K…8:45).  I was still two miles ahead of my goal pace.  And two, I might actually come in ahead of my goal time.  Then the volunteers gave me chicken broth.  AMAZING.  I shook out my legs, chatted with a couple of the other runners I’d run down there with….one of them told me that if I was an hour ahead of where I’d been before, of course my legs hurt.  Then he reminded me not to waste my hour.

So, off I went.  And that chicken broth….I think it actually was magic.  I got Mathew Wilder’s Break My Stride song stuck in my head, and I just went for it.  Jogged along, barely noticed the pouring rain, passed people (me?!), and felt really good.

Then just before mile 26, I hear, ‘Great job, San Francisco’!  It was one of the ladies from LA that I’d met before the race.  We started the slog up to the infamous Goat Hill together before I lost her.  And Goat Hill…it was surprisingly inconspicuous.  I was expecting a sign…or something.  But it wasn’t until I confirmed with one of the local runners that it was in fact Goat Hill.  And, it was steep.  It was muddy.  It was….surprisingly not that bad.  Thank you Fox Trail repeats.  My goal was to get up the hill without stopping.  And I did…I didn’t even really think about stopping.

I got to the top and was greeted by a bunch of volunteers.  They were great – refilled my water, gave me some electrolytes, and some more broth.  And…was that, Larry?!  It was!  There was Larry, who works some of the Coastal races making soup.  He gave me some tips  on the rest of the course and I was off.  Even though I was soaked, I didn’t give my drop there a second look.

I wish I could say the next three miles were super easy and I kept up the great (for me) pace I had going.  But, they were some of the muddiest, slipperiest, miles all day.  So I walked a lot.  Many times slower than I wanted to be…and I had the energy to run.  That was a first.  But, I knew I was going to come in with a good for me time.  A better for me time wasn’t worth the risk of injury.

I slipped and sloshed my way to the next aid station – hiking where I had to, forcing myself to run where I could.  I could hear trainer Tom’s voice in the back of my head, ’empty the tank!  this is the last of your run today’. I’m not sure why there was another aid station with only 1.4 miles to go, but it was nice to see.  The crossing guards were surprised at how fast I was walking, which made me smile.  Once I was out of the mud, I was able to jog over to the aid station for some electrolytes and soup.  One of the guys was like, that’s amazing, isn’t it?  I said it was, and he said great…now get out of here…1.4 and you’re done.

And, what a 1.4 it was.  Some short, steep, climbs up….rocks….more mud.  More walking than I wanted, but I was going to get in by 7:30.  I could hear the finish before I saw it and due to the mud, didn’t get to run in as much as I wanted.  But, I did run the last piece along the road, made a right turn….decided to roll my ankle.  Awesome.  Only me.  Thank you ankle brace for saving it, even if it is a little sore now.  The nearby spectators all cheered and yelled, ‘nice save’ as I righted myself and jogged through the finish line.

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I wasn’t really sure what to do once I finished.  It’s been so long since that’s happened it was a little emotional.  I got a medal and someone handed me a cliff bar maybe.  Not sure, I tucked it into my pack.  I got one of the volunteers to take a photo….you can’t get that muddy and not document it.  Even if I am the queen of layered running tops.  haha…I dried off, changed clothes, and enjoyed the finish line celebration.  Got the frog cupcake I’ve been thinking about for months along with a post-race beer.

So, where does that leave me?  Other than pretty sore at the moment?  Haha.  It leaves me with a vote of confidence for Lake Sonoma.  It leaves me knowing that despite having more work to do, my training plan is working.  It leaves me hoping that my second race in the lottery of pain will go as well as my first.

Big thanks to all of the volunteers – being out in the rain and cold is no small feat, but you all did it with smiles on your faces and were just what I needed to see at every aid station.  Thank you to trainers Robin, Tom, and the rest of Orange Theory for teaching me that I can push a lot harder than I thought I could both in class and out.  And to Dr. Hal, for putting me back together again and talking me off the race ledge this week.

Until next time Way Too Cool, until next time.  When hopefully it’s not raining.  I’d love to see what I can do if I can actually run the last six miles.