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?

Lightning Strikes, Maybe Once, Maybe Twice…

Oh 2016…what a year you’ve been.

It seems like there’s so much I could say…or should say.  Or maybe shouldn’t.  As I’ve learned, a lot of things are better left unsaid.

On one hand, it seemed like it flew by, but on the other hand, looking back on the whole year, some of it seems light years away at this point.  Overall, 2016 was really my chance to hit the re-set button.  To figure out and focus on what’s really important, decide where I want to go, and how to get there.  It’s kind of an amazing feeling when you let go of the past and embrace the future.  It all happens for a reason.

Much like last year, it started with a race…I spent most of NYE and a good chunk of New Year’s Day at Coastal’s 24 hour race.  I learned a lot about the races I’d be running in the spring from one of the volunteers…saw old friends and made some new ones.  As always, it was a great time.

My racing fun continued, both with Coastal and with my own races.  March brought my first official race finish in over a year at Way Too Cool.  It was fun (mostly), and wet and muddy and everything I could have wanted in a race.  And finishing was….spectacular. I wasn’t too sure what to do with myself, other than ask a volunteer to take my picture at the finish line.  But, it was the confidence booster I needed heading into Lake Sonoma.  And really, who doesn’t love some Sufferfest and a frog cupcake at the finish line :).  I’m excited for it to be my first race in 2017…here’s to (hopefully) a PR.

Then there was Lake Sonoma.  It was…terrifying.  A terrifying amount of elevation…a distance I didn’t have a good track record with…a course I wasn’t familiar with, but somehow I made it.  I trained better than I ever have….ran more miles In preparation….hydrated, and then hydrated some more.  I spent 25 miles thinking about how I was NEVER going to run 50 miles again.  It took me less than 24 hours to figure out exactly what I would do differently next time and prepare to enter the lottery again.  While fighting the plague of 2016 before Christmas, I found out I’d get a rematch in April 2017.  Here’s to lessons learned…another PR…and a new coat….

2016 also brought me OrangeTheory…seriously the best workout I’ve ever gotten and probably the reason had two successful races and survived the third.  It started as a way to train and stay sane while I was working in Redwood City, and followed me to my new role in the city.  Along the way, I made some new friends and got into the best running shape I’ve ever been in.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to getting my butt kicked so much.

And, most exciting of all, 2016 brought me a new job.  I started at Charlotte Russe in July, and it has been amazing.  It’s gotten me back into retail and it’s been everything I thought it would be and more.  It’s small, but not too small, and a super flat organization – which is great…I feel like I can make a big impact.  My team is great, as is the larger Ops team.  They motivate me to be a stronger leader, teammate, and employee.  I survived retail holiday and had fun doing so.  No more Sunday blues, or Monday blues, or…well, you get the idea.  After several nightmare years – including my own Devil Wears Prada experience, I appreciate this amazing opportunity that much more.  I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.

Again, much like last year, it ended with a race.  I closed out the year and spent the first moments of 2017 at Coastal’s 24 hour race.  I got to see a lot of familiar faces as well as some new ones.  It was the first time I spent the night at Crissy Field…what an experience that was…haha.  So fun to cheer on the runners that braved the chilly night and kept moving.

So, here we go…here’s another year.  Here’s to 2017 being as good of a personal year as 2016 was…here’s to a couple of PR races and the lottery of pain part 2…here’s to the world still being standing at the end of it…here’s to one more trip around the sun…

Follow the Blue and Beware the Seams on Your Pants – North Face 50k Race Report

So, final race of an interesting year. A year that brought me a 50k PR, a 50 mile finish (after two years of trying), and 10k PR. Of course there was that hip thing that kept me out of running for several months at the end of the year too. Great set-up for my last race…
Anyway. Before I even get into things, I knew I was under-trained (my longest run was 27 miles…split up over two days). I knew this was North Face, and it had given me issues for the past two years. But, I also knew the trails…and I’d been really good about getting my butt kicked at the gym at least four days a week. Still, I didn’t think I’d be in for anything easy.

The start was pretty typical of an ultra. Well, one like Way Too Cool rather than Lake Sonoma. Lots of people gathering…heat lamps…fire pits. Unlike every other year we’ve run this race, it wasn’t freezing. It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t wet. It was…actually quite nice out. Weird for this race. No rain, no mud, no cold. What was going on?

As it got close to start time, the announcer started getting everyone lined up. Lots of people still checking bags…tip – make sure to check your bag early. I ran into one of the guys from Coastal Trails…he’d started the 50, but decided not to continue. He was hanging out, waiting for the line to clear so he could get his bag.

The announcer had us introduce ourselves to the person next to us, which was interesting since half the field had their headphones in already. After that, we were pretty much off. The first few miles passed as I expected…rolling a bit at the beginning, but quickly climbing up Miwok. Forever. Since they changed the course this year, there was some additional climbing beyond what I knew as typical. We didn’t make the quick left down Old Springs, but continued on up Miwok and down Marincello. Thanks Miwok stables…loved the additional climbing.

Honestly, it wasn’t that bad…I’ve done it before and met a couple of fellow runners along the way. And then we were headed down Marincello. A hill I’m familiar climbing up, but not so much running down. But, I quickly found that I really liked running down this hill as much as I love hiking up it. It’s a gentle slope…it’s a fire road. It was mile 4ish. Perfect for my untrained, skittish, descender self. And, much to my surprise, I passed a bunch of people on the way down. Being so skittish, this never happens. If I pass anyone, it’s on the way up and I usually get passed again on the way down. Unfortunately, I didn’t see many of them again. Not sure if they never passed me again or if we missed each other at aid stations…hopefully everyone finished.

I got to the bottom of the hill feeling good and Brian was waiting for me. I grabbed a cup of tailwind, which I hadn’t had before, but was actually pretty good, some water, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I pulled over for a bit to chat and realized I’d somehow picked up the one sandwich made with the heel of the bread….only me.

After that, it was off to Muir Beach. The climb up Coastal wasn’t too bad, but I anticipated it being easier not going into Pirate’s Cove. However, I was unpleasantly surprised to find I was wrong. We actually got to climb some of Coyote Ridge and a back part of Fox Trail on our way to the trail that would finally take us down into Muir Beach. Then, down we went…I wish I wasn’t so skittish….and of course the whole time going down, all I could think was…at some point I have to go back up….

I quickly passed through the Muir Beach aid station…grabbed a Mt. Dew (not a bad race drink, but other than that, the Dew can stay in my college years ;)), some tailwind, and another sandwich. Then I comfortably jogged my way to Redwood Creek Trail. Well….I looked down and I was comfortably jogging at an 8:50 pace. Thanks, Orange Theory. Of course my aid station stop is included in that time, so it didn’t do much for me overall. Haha.

As I hit Heather Cut-off, I ran into the 50 mile sweepers….I’m pretty sure one of them has been the same guy for the past three years. Anyway, shortly after that, I passed the last 50 miler, a man from Iowa, I think he said. In him, I could see myself a few years ago. As I left Cardiac, he still hadn’t made it up there. I also passed a woman who’d been stung on the ankle by a bee…so not fun, and another place I saw myself. She assured me she was fine, and she did pass me later, so luckily, she was good to go.

My slog up to Cardiac wasn’t too bad, I remembered slogging up there last year…feeling like crap and running into Liz and Van, and listening to Becca chat about NYC to make the miles go faster. On the other hand, I guess it wasn’t that great either…somewhere along there, I realized the seams on my pants were starting to tear into the skin on the back of my legs. And…what bothers you at mile 12 is going to be unbearable come mile 32….

At the Cardiac aid station, I asked three different people for Vaseline, but finally got some. Ahhh….relief. I’m sure I looked silly, but…there are no rules in the woods. I grabbed a pb&j, tailwind, and Mt. Dew, but knew I was needed some salt (thank you acid reflux fun…). Luckily, they had salt…unfortunately, no potatoes to dip in it. Awesome….and the 50 milers were just hitting their second pass. Bad time to be out of that. But, we’re in the woods, so we make do with what we have. I ripped my sandwich in half and dipped it in the salt. Salty pb&j, interesting vessel to get salt in, but it seemed to work.

Then it was down into Muir Woods, my least favorite part of the course. The part with not only steep, rocky, twiggy, descents, but also a place where if you fall, you can get gored by tree stumps and whatever else is on the ground. Perfect if you’re already a skittish descender. I think the marathon may be my race of choice next year solely because I wouldn’t have to run through Muir Woods.

The Old Inn Aid Station greeted us at the end of Muir Woods. Shortly before we hit the aid station, we hit some stairs on the famed dipsea trail. This guy let me and another lady pass him, before tearing down the stairs past us like he was going to win. Really dude? First, not going to win. Pretty sure they finished hours ago. And second, we would’ve let you go. You were ahead of us to begin with…

Just before the aid station, there was a pack of 50 milers coming up the hill at me…I was…confused. On either course, no one should be running up this hill. Did I miss a turn? If I went farther than I needed to without Vaseline, I was going to be sad. They told me I was fine, so I kept heading down. No idea what they were doing.

Anyway…as I jogged to the aid station, I passed the medic and thought…haha, I’m not hanging out with you this year. I asked them for Vaseline and they had to find my old friend who drove me to Tennessee Valley last year to find it. She seemed far less crazy this year, but no less busy. She handed me Vaseline and walked away. Another volunteer watched me take gobs of it with my hand and rub it all over where my pants were eating my skin. I’m not sure what the look on her face was saying…shock…disdain…really? You’re at an aid station for an ultra. If me sticking Vaseline down my pants is the worst thing you’ve seen all day, consider yourself lucky.

I headed off, joking with another volunteer…something about a second pass, and me not wanting to come back. There was no second pass, and I didn’t need to. I began the flat jog back to Muir Beach…alternating between a walk to catch my breath and my new 9ish (some times under, sometimes over) comfortable pace. Aside from my chafed up body, I was getting pretty sore. Yup, should’ve gotten in more training.

Where the road to Muir Beach was easy, the road out of Muir Beach was anything but. Even if we didn’t have to climb all the way up Coyote Ridge, it was still brutal. I made friends with a couple of other runners as we made our way out…they were chatting about the big marathons (Boston, NYC, Berlin, London, Tokyo and one other I don’t remember) and wondered how many hills we had left, I said two…one of the guys said, in addition to this one (he was local too)? I said no, this one and another…it counts until it’s over.

The top of the hill brought the steep descent of Fox trail into Tennessee Valley. At this point, muscles I’d forgotten I had were hurting. And I really needed another dose of Vaseline to handle the chaffing. But, I made it down. Oh, Vaseline was insight. And then Brian came jogging down Tennessee Valley road towards me. Hooray for a surprise! He figured he wouldn’t be able to drive between TV and the finish, but he definitely could run it, especially if he knew the short cuts.

And there wasn’t any Vaseline. Ugh….I had body glide in my pack, so I pulled over and tried to use that. Not the end of the world, I guess, but certainly not ideal. The good news was that I got to see Shannon, the aid station captain that took care of me last year…yeah hypothermic and taking over the shuttle. Haha. Great to see her and I wasn’t blue this year, so I had that going for me.

Then it was time for the final slog up Marincello. Which usually I don’t mind, but I was just done with this race at that point. One of the other runners asked if it was straight uphill to the next aid station. Right…Alta. I’d forgotten about that aid station.

The rest of the race was pretty much a blur of me wishing it was over and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. There were places I thought, hey, maybe I should run here. And then telling myself walking hurt slightly less, and I was so far behind, did I really care? Nope, I did not.

One foot in front of the other, one aid station, and one seemingly never ending stretch to the finish line later, it was over. I’d finished North Face. I may have been walking like a cowboy and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be wearing jeans for day (confirmed), but I finished. Brian brought my Vaseline, so I coated some of that on before we walked to the car. Of course as I did, two of the runners I’d met on the course walked by and stopped to say congratulations….one of them apologized for catching me mid-Vaseline application. I laughed and said…it’s all good, there are no rules in the woods….

So…on to the spring. Here’s to luck with the race lotteries and if not, enjoying two ‘b’ races. Here’s to a year of being injury free and able to train like I should…it’s much more fun when it happens that way.

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.

You can take the girl out of retail…but Apparently, you can’t take retail out of the girl…

When did it become July?  Really, when did it become the middle of July?  And what happened to June…as I look back, the last time I blogged was May.  I guess life happened….and for awhile, it felt like there was nothing going on that was blog-worthy, when it turns out, I guess everything was going on.

And…where to begin.  I guess with the big news…after more than a year away, I’m finally back in retail.  Last week was amazing – it was great to be back in an industry that I’m passionate about and at a great company.  Everyone I met LOVES working there.  It was just refreshing….and I’m so excited to be part of the team and to see what the future brings.

As excited as I was to get back into retail…and as much as I needed a change, leaving Redwood City was difficult…more so than I thought it might be.  I learned and grew so much there, as a leader and as a person.  I’d made some good friends, and while I know I’ll still talk to them, leaving wasn’t easy.  But, I knew it was the right decision for me and what I want to do in the future, both personally and professionally.  At the end of the day, an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ conversation is far more difficult than, ‘it’s not me, it’s you’.

Moving on from Redwood Shores also meant saying goodbye to the gym and the friends that I’d met there.  Really, the place and people that kept me sane for six months.  From the first day I walked in, to cheering me on for two races, to the day I left,  they were never anything but warm and friendly….and I could always count on a good workout.  Even if I was injured and taking it easy (read: not running), I still left looking like I’d just finished a Bikram class.  The day I left, they put my name on their member spotlight board and my photo on their instagram, wishing me luck in San Francisco.  The good news – I’m not that far away and can go back and visit.  The better news – there’s an Orange Theory in the city that’s only ten minutes from my new office.  Not as convenient as right downstairs, but it will work.  I’ve gotten so much stronger…(over 300 watts on the rower last week, what?!), I’m excited to see how far I can go.

And, then there’s my hip.  Since I’m working in the city again, and the doctors in San Carlos seemed to be at a loss after the ART got me to 80%….(other than the one that seemed to think it was torn cartilage without ever doing an exam), I decided to go back and see the doctor that fixed my knee.  He took a look last week and then injected it this week. It was similar to the first two knee injections I had last year, but the good news is that he thinks one set of injections and some PT should clear things up.  As much fun as six injections on a Friday afternoon were….and sitting around all weekend.  As much as I needed the rest, I’m really not good at doing nothing.

The bad news….I think I have to call it on the 50K I had planned for the end of August.  Everything should be healed by then, but I definitely won’t be ready.  And, rather than push it, have a miserable time, and risk another injury, I suppose I’ll just shift my focus to North Face and my 2017 races…whatever they end up being.  That race will come around again next August….

So, here’s to new beginnings and healing quickly, here’s to a great end of summer, and to an even better end to 2016 than the fabulous beginning.

Trip to Vegas, New Injury, and Catching Up on Life

I realized today that its been over a month since I updated this, over a month since finishing Lake Sonoma, and what a month its been.

Coming out of the 50 mile, I managed to take it easy for a couple of days.  Ok, three days before I was going completely stir crazy, four before I was in my first bikram yoga class in years, and five before I was back at Orange Theory.  I was out running again that weekend, interestingly enough, back at Lake Sonoma for a quick seven miler before I picked up wine.  It was 90 degrees and sunny – quite the change from the previous weekend.  I was a little stiff, but overall felt good.

The next week, I was back to my normal routine…four days at the gym and a 10k road race that weekend.  I was still a little stiff, a little achy (especially my left hip), but again, overall, felt good.  I was slightly nervous about running on a road for the first time in over a year, partly due to the last year I spent healing my right knee, and not knowing how it would hold up…and partly due to the stiffness in my left hip.  However, I was excited to see how I would do running such a short distance.

It was so much fun!  My goal was to come in under an hour, which I didn’t think I had done before.  I spent the first two-ish miles trying to hang with my fast friends, but eventually fell back.  Which was fine, I was still moving fast for me.  Miles three and four felt long and I hadn’t gotten into a rhythm yet. I started feeling great somewhere between four and a half and five, and then it was over.  As it turns out, I did well on the fast and flat course….final time: 56:49.  According to Strava, there was an 8:30ish mile in there (its been years since that happened).  9th in my age group out of 51….I don’t think I’ve ever been top 10.  Unless there were less than 10…haha.

The next weekend, Brian and I headed to Vegas on vacation.  No races, no crazy adventures, no nothing….other than vacation.  We stayed at MGM…floated in the lazy river…enjoyed our fair share of terrible pool beer and good dinner wine.  Saw great shows. For anyone heading to Vegas: Ka is amazing.  Go see it.  I really can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t like this show.  It’s a cirque with a story that’s easy to follow, great stunts, and a super intricate stage.  I feel like it was over before it even began.  Just so, so good.  Maybe skip the large, slushy, adult beverage during the show…you won’t want to get up to find a restroom and nothing makes the last fifteen minutes of a show really, really long like needing one.

The third night we had dinner at Tao – probably my favorite Vegas restaurant and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  Then headed over to Cesar’s for Absinthe.  Somehow we were VIP’s, which meant they gave us champagne to enjoy during the show.  Unless you’re me…then you dump half of it all over your purse and having to get creative in drying it off…..anyway, I digress….the show is hilarious.  Very politically incorrect and full of adult humor, but so much fun.  However, if you’re easily offended, this is not the show for you.  Aside from the humor, it’s a variety show with amazing acts.  Dancers and tightrope walkers and aerialists, etc.  So good.

I anticipated coming back to my leg being 100% after four days of rest.  But, I’m not that lucky.  By the middle of last week, I finally caved and called a doctor’s office close to my office to deal with whatever the situation is in my hip.  I’ve rolled, I’ve rested, I’ve stretched, and it’s not getting any better.  After doing nothing in Vegas for four days (other than those nights in five inch heels ;)), I got to my second day at the gym and the shooting pain was back.  That’s not normal.  The following week, I got through another two days and while it wasn’t shooting pain, it was definitely achy.  Definitely not normal.

So, of course I go home the night before seeing a doctor and do some searching on the internet about what might be wrong.  The first thing I find that sounds plausible is a stress fracture.  Cue stress at the thought of no running for probably three months.  Really?  When am I going to learn to stay off of internet?

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that something was really wrong and I was going to be out of running and working out for the foreseeable future.  My suspicions were close to confirmed as I was talking the doctor through everything that was going on, and the first thing he mentioned was a stress fracture….but, once he started his exam, luck seemed to be on my side.  First, I was much stronger during the resistance tests than he thought I would be….second, he found two knotted, locked up, muscles.  Took him an extra 15 minutes to find, but the two highest muscles in my hip – the pectineus and the adductor brevis, were a sore, painful, tight mess.  Apparently having the adductor tight that high isn’t normal….apparently he hasn’t met me….

Cue some super fun ART that surprisingly didn’t bruise.  Unfortunately, the relief didn’t stick for too long either….hopefully that just means I need more sessions.  As much fun as ART is, I like that and strained muscles far more than I like stress fractures.

Before he left, I made sure to ask him if I was still allowed to exercise and if there were any restrictions.  Surprisingly, he told me I could…just asked that I dial it back to 75%.  If I had a class I liked to take, that was fine….just take it easy.  Yup, I can do that.  So I threw on my gym clothes and headed to class.  I mean, why wouldn’t I….last year I had an MRI on my knee and ran a half marathon the next day….

Since then, I actually have been heeding the doctor’s warnings – 22-year old me ran a half marathon with a broken ankle….32-year old me does not need to learn that lesson twice.  I’ve done a couple of Orange Theory classes, but have taken it easy.  I think I’m going to set the record for the most classes with zero splat points.  But, it’s better than being completely side-lined.  I’ve also gotten back into bikram…that’s been a great way to stretch out and relax, not to mention get in a good workout with little impact.

Today, I had the x-ray done.  No one was there to read it (I’m pretty sure the lady taking it was pretty new, as I could clearly hear someone giving her directions), but they did give me a CD to take back to the doctor.  Of course, I took it home this evening and tried to get it to open to read it myself.  I saw what my ankle looked like…I’d think the same would apply to this situation, right?  Sadly, the files wouldn’t open.  But, really, do I need to be trying to read an x-ray?  Probably not.  Just give me something else to stress about….haha.

So, I wait until Wednesday, when hopefully the doctor has the report…or can read the films.  And cross my fingers and toes (and whatever else I can think of) that it’s strained muscles and some more rounds of ART can fix it.  And I can get back to running healthy soon.

Until then…signing off…

 

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?
DSCN0441

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.

DSCN0440

Epic Parking.  I was equally close to the finish.

 

DSCN0443

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.

DSCN0447

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.

DSCN0450

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.

At Least I Won’t Get Sunburned…and Other Positive Thoughts Amongst Pre-Race Jitters

Well, at least I won’t get sunburned.  I like to play in the mud.  And I’ve had earlier race start times.  And I’ve dealt with rain.  And survived Dipsea in the rain and the dark.  I can handle this….at least that’s what I keep telling myself, as I seem to have gotten the pre-race jitters pretty early with this one.

I mean, I didn’t finish any of the races I started in 2015.  And there was that bout with near-hypothermia.  And the busted knee.  And the busted ankles.  So, I get where the jitters are coming from.

And, they seem to increase every time I check the weather.  Not looking at it seems like it would be the obvious choice, but I do actually need to be prepared for whatever is heading my way. Last I checked, it’s looking like a temperature between 40 and 60 degrees.  Not too bad.  Oh wait…there’s also that inch of rain.  And the 20-30 mph winds in the afternoon.  It sounds like the rain-pocolypse I volunteered in at last year’s Golden Gate race.  Except there I could wear Gore-Tex…and water-proof hiking boots.  Here I can wear….running clothes.  And whatever rain gear Brian brings home from Sports Basement tonight.  All joking aside, hopefully I can find something that will at least keep me warm.  After the North Face debacle, I am concerned about hypothermia.

All of that being said, I’m still holding out some hope that this will be fun.  Because, while there’s been (and it looks like will continue to be) a lot of crazy, there’s been a lot of work too.  There’s been Orange Theory, faster training runs, more miles each week, and several rainy sweeps.  I mean, after Steep Ravine and Crystal Springs, I should be an old pro at getting soaked in the rain and mud.  And race induced hypothermia…that’s gotta be like lightening.  It won’t strike twice.  Who knows, maybe the rain will make me run faster.  I’ve got this.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.

I had a final tune up with the chiropractor and PT yesterday.  Good news, I’ve graduated PT.  Yay!  And my back is all nice and lose and ready.  And, Dr. Hal had some good advice around the race and what I could and could not control.  Not much I can do about the time I leave work, the traffic, or the rain.  Just how I handle it.  He’s also run the race before, so he gave me the lowdown on the course….very similar to what I’ve read about and was anticipating.  And thankfully, no more technical than the terrain in the headlands.  In many places, much less.

So, here’s to an adventure on the trails (and hopefully not in traffic).  Here’s to all the work I’ve put in paying off.  And just keeping one foot in front of the other…or maybe in this case, just keep swimming will be the better mantra.  And, most importantly, here’s to finally finishing a race.