Friday, June 27, 2014

Pacing Margo at TGNY 100 Mile

My sister was running The Great New York 100 Mile race, her first 100, and she asked me to fly out and help her by pacing the night sections. Pacers are highly recommended at night - the course is "open course", with runners responsible for knowing the route and a small field of ~30 runners. It's a minimal course with only $60 entry fee. Aid stations are every 5 miles with water and gatorade provided by the race, everything else is provided by the volunteers themselves.

Margo guess-timated she'd be at mile 60 around 5 pm, 12 hours after she started. This seemed like a blistering pace to me, but I didn't want to be late. After I bought a jar of pickles & watermelon chunks for her (the joy of an urban race), I took the subway the hour out to Queens and settled in at a Starbucks to wait for her at 4:30. At 5:30 I texted her, concerned, as I thought she'd left mile 55 around 4:30. I'd been following her all day with Facebook posts from aid station volunteers. What I thought was mile 55 was actually 50, and she said she was 6.5 miles away. Well! I found a pub a 1/2 block from the Starbucks & settled into watch the first half of the Bosnia - Nigeria World Cup match. 

Margo arrived at 7:15, in a bit of a bad spot - the day was hot and she'd walked most of the last section. I gave her 2 hour old soy java chip Frappucino, and we started walking. She seemed in no mood to run, and I was in no mood to make her run. Plus the jar of pickles was really quite heavy. I calculated pace in my head - even if we walked the next 40 miles we'd still finish before the 33 hour cutoff. 

When we got to the 100K aid station (mile 62), Margo COULD have dropped & taken the 100K finish, as other runners were doing. No, she was moving slowly but steadily. She changed her shoes and we set off again. We grabbed pizza slices, and wrapped up in foil a sweet potato and eggplant parmesean for later.  She drank the pickle juice from the jar, and ate a few pickles. The food bag I was carrying with watermelon, pickles, and "to-go" Italian was still heavy. We put the pickles in a sandwich baggie and dumped the jar. So I was carrying a bag full of drippy pickly increasingly nasty food. 

After mile 65, the sun had set. Margo stopped at a set of two Porta-potties. Though I didn't see them, I saw the expression on her face when she opened the door & looked inside, which said "EWWWW". I watched the jets stacked up above JFK waiting to descend, as mosquitoes descended into me. 

Now Margo wanted to run - and so we started running for 10 minutes, then walking two. I still had the pickles, and finally found a trash can, after lugging them for 8 miles. We stopped in at a bar to use the bathroom & I was excited to hear real "Nah Yawk" accents from the other patrons hanging out in Queens. We climbed a bridge where there was a honky-tonk underneath & it was tempting to stop in and get a drink. 

Mile 70 aid station went by in a flash, then we were at mile 75, a beautiful aid station with Empire State Building flashing ~15 miles away. We started to leave when Margo complained about her blisters. "Stop & tape them - they won't get better on their own". So this was our longest stop, as Margo taped her blisters. 

Margo had brought ramen packets for soup (no noodles), and now wanted them. We stopped at a Russian cafe and I bought baklava & they gave me a cup of hot water "no charge". We walked through Little Odessa past flashy night clubs and drunk serenaders. To my surprise, mile 80 DID have hot water, and I drank some ramen soup.

Now came the long part of the night - we had 20 miles to go, and it was 2 AM. I had deliberately tried to stay somewhat on West Coast time so it didn't feel too bad for me, but Margo was starting to flag. We walked all of Coney Island Boardwalk past lingering courting couples and delinquent teenagers, as Margo sipped her soup. After Coney Island, Margo warned me the neighborhood was "iffy", and we needed to run (not walk). I really wanted a Red Bull but all the stops on Coney Island had been shut for hours. 

We entered the sketchy part of Brooklyn under a huge crescent moon. There was a convenience store with a window open, with two very strung out guys waiting to be helped. Margo did NOT want to stop there. We kept running to a Chevron whose market was open, and then the funniest exchange of the night happened…I buy my Red Red Bull & immediately start drinking it while waiting to pay. A white tattooed guy sees me drinking and says, "Is that the best thing to drink after running?"
Me: "I'm not done running."
Him: "You know Red Bull is really bad for you, right?"
 I look down at the pack of Newport's he's buying, and he sees me looking at his cigarettes.
HIm: "Maybe I should make better choices also". 
I don't know if he was trying to pick me up or what, but "what" is what happened.

We set off running again, me with my can of red bull, till we got to a 24 hour diner where Margo used the bathroom. Then another section of wooded dark paths. I was really happy that Margo was with me. There's no way I would want her running this course in the dark by herself. We passed a guy in the shadows, and it was unclear if he was urinating or masturbating, and I didn't want to know. 

A persistent theme was Margo saying "my feet hurt", or "I have to go to the bathroom", so I made jokes that her feet were connected to her bladder. Before the race she'd asked "Do you think my feet will hurt?", to which I'd answered there was no doubt in my mind that her feet would hurt. The other joke we kept making was I would ask which bridge was which, and it was always the "Verranzo 

As we ran towards Verranzo-Narrows bridge I heard a "boom, thump" sound and thought it was another honky-tonk. Margo claimed it was "drains". It was a fully decked out bicycle with a generator playing dance music! Crazy!

It was 4 AM and Margo was flagging. I tried to cheer her up by saying twilight was soon - the sun would rise at 5:30 AM, but before that we'd have twilight - first astronomical, then nautical, then civil twilight. But I couldn't remember what nautical twilight was. Margo asked if we'd finish by 7 AM and I had to tell her no.

Then in a flash we were to mile 90 aid station, which was fully stocked with all sorts of goodies! The volunteers were absolutely super - all aid station supplies beyond water & gatorade were donated by the volunteers themselves. Margo lay down on a bench with her feet elevated while I filled our two Hydra-packs - a tedious and messy job. 

Into the heart of Brooklyn with dawn, as I fell back behind to take some photos of Margo against the brick buildings. Margo to me " Is it okay if I kick it now? I want to go faster." Me: um…yeah!!!

The last 6 miles went so quickly - we were at the 95 aid station, then crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. The last three miles weren't scenic, but it was exciting to think the end was SOO CLOSE. I hadn't timed any of our prior segments as I didn't want to kill my phone battery, but on Strava we clocked the last 3.4 miles at a 10:22 pace - not too shabby!! We would run for the lights, as we didn't want to wait. 

Margo thought the finish was at 46th St, so at 36th we started counting down the blocks from 10, getting closer and closer. There was a light at 43rd that we sprinted for, then we looked up and there was the "finish" - a chalk line and ~10 people cheering. We ran for it, Margo crossed holding my hand, and we both started crying. I'm immensely proud of my sister - I can't believe she ran 100 miles!

Top Takeaways:
Margo was immensely prepared. The route was marked only with chalk. She'd run every segment multiple times. Very rarely did she hesitate.

I can be a pacer! I let Margo dictate the pace - I just kept her going through the long night. Also, the course had some long segments through dark parks - I was happy she wasn't there by herself. 

Did I mention how proud I am?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lake Chabot 30K

 Lake Chabot 30K - 3:36 PR 

I got back from South Korea on Tuesday and was too happy to be back to taper properly. Ran ~3 miles Tuesday, 6 miles down to Ocean Beach Wednesday, 3 miles Thursday, and the weather was so nice on Friday that after work I did 9 miles on Pirates Cove loop. So the opposite of a taper, in fact - more like a ramp up!

Ken & Karen drove me to the start, where I was happy to see familiar faces. Catra Corbett had matching gaiter with her dog, Trumie, and Alvin Lubrino took a photo of the two of us at the start. I decided to just take my pack as I was carrying my Clipper Card and house keys. Ken was only running the half marathon as he had to work that day, so Karen & I planned to BART back later.

First two miles I was "in the mix" with the pack for the flat around the reservoir. The half, 30K and 50K all started together, so hard to tell if I'd gone out too fast or too slow. I heard the jingle of Trumie's dog tags as they passed me running the half. 

Settled into an easy rhythm - walk the ups, run the downs. I'd run the course before so knew the "lollipop" for the 30K was fairly far along. Kept flip-flopping with 3 people as they'd RUN the ups that I'd walk, then I'd past them on the downs. 

Steep hill up and over Equestrian Center as steep as I remembered. At the top I started dropping the hammer and passing people. 

At the last aid station, Sabine Gilbert was there to cheer! Bummed to realize it was still 4 miles - I'd hoped only 3. Then I remembered I'd thought the exact same thing 2 years ago. Nothing to do but tuck in and pound it out to the end - trying to pick off other runners. Right before the finish line, I surged to pass a woman by ONE second. I found out the next day that it was a chip race so she actually finished 10 seconds ahead of me.

Happy to see Kevin Luu chatting with Ken at finish line. Kevin's training for a 125 mile race and Ken 200! Kevin gave me a ride home.

Did well:
Tried to say thanks to volunteers
Stayed hydrated
Picked off people at end

To improve on:
Could have gone faster if had tapered, but too much fun to run on Friday. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Golden Gate 30K (again)

Rainy, Windy Golden Gate 30K

Picked Karen G up at 7 AM in a cold steady rain. I expected we'd park right by the start in the big dirt lot in Rodeo Beach, and huddle in the car until the race started. Instead, we were directed up the hill to a distant parking lot. When I got out of the car, I immediately felt cold and underdressed. I decided to wear the warmer jacket and hat I'd brought for post race, a smart decision. 

Pick up bib, and make it to start line about 1 minute before start. Hiked up Hill 88 in cold rain. Norbert sprints to catch me, and in his Austrian accent chides me for walking. Kinda warm on hike and wondering if I will regret bringing warm jacket.

On downhill of Miwok, see neon blur of the San Francisco Running Club coming my way. My glasses are too wet / foggy to make out any faces, but I hear a "GO EDITH". I yell back "THANKS JOR".. . breathe "GE!".  Oops. 

Tennessee Valley aid station - volunteers overwhelmed, I reach on the table to pour my own bottle.

Loop up and over Pirates Cove - windy, slippery. Didn't make up the time I wanted to make as nearly blown off the trail.

Up Marincello - still feeling good, but again strong winds. 

SCA - nearly blown off the trail.

Bombed down Coastal, picked off 3 runners who promptly passed me running up Coastal to Conzelman Road. I passed them all back though. I felt proud I felt strong in this section. Ran strong all the way to end, passed 3 more runners. Picked up ~30 minutes from Conzelman aid station to finish at 4:03. Didn't break 4 hours, but on such a poor weather day (high winds, slippery mud), good!

Hung out at the end eating lentil soup with Hot Links (YUM). 

Did well:
kept eating reeses' & energy gels.
Thanked volunteers.

Didn't do well: 
Yelled at other runner to "PICK THAT UP" when trash blew at her feet
Didn't bring warm enough clothes for end, was super cold waiting 70 minutes for Karen
The big dirt parking lot at Rodeo Beach is now reclaimed wetland. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Double Dare 25K

Double Dare 25K

A strong performance considering I'd run ~17 miles the day before (and 5 the day before), to round out a 50+ mile week. But I missed 3rd in my age group due to missing a late turn.

This was the inaugural run for Inside Trail Run's Double Dare, a course set by ultra-legend Catra Corbett. Karen and Ken picked me up and after many turns up into the Sunol hills we were at the start. I'd run 17 miles on Saturday, and after supper with some friends, went to a bar for a birthday, and ended up in bed by 1:30 AM - barely 5 hours of sleep.

At the start I saw Alvin Lubrino & Todd Wong, as well as Todd Shipman. I was delighted to see Eldrith! a true legend and inspiration. At twice my age (in her 70s) she was running twice the distance - 50K.

A long slog up Flag Hill where basically everyone pass├ęd me, including Edlrith. Twice my age, twice my distance - and a bit quicker, too. Then winding through single-track and gradually picking back up people. I could sight them in the distance on the hills, their bright running shirts standing out among the dull brown of the October grass. I passed back Eldrith, as well as another legend, George, who still carries a pancake syrup bottle for hydration. A windy twisty single track section that left me very happy I was only doing one loop (25K) and not 50K.

On a long descent I saw a white shirt and tried to run faster to pass. It was KEN! I yelped out ALL DAY as I victoriously stormed past him. Then I realized he was walking with a foot issue. No glory in passing an injured friend. I walked with him for a moment as he asked me to let Karen know he was injured.

The day was warm, in the 90s, and I ran out of water coming into the last aid station - I was using a hand-held bottle (only) . The day before I'd realized that my bite valve on my hydration pack was completely black with mold. I couldn't bear to use it, and there was no time to get a new Hydra-pak.

At the final aid station, Sam was cutting up watermelon. So good. I ate and ate. One of the other aid station members had finished the 25K! & had come back to help.

As I ran to the finish, a runner I'd passed before almost caught me. I cranked my tunes, determined to not be passed - and missed the turn for the finish, starting on the 50K second loop. I went 2 minutes out and a dejected 2 minutes back before realizing. I finished at ~4 hours - 1:30 behind someone in my age group. If not for the wrong turn, I would be 3rd!

Things did well:
Hydrated at Aid Stations
Said Thanks to volunteers

Things to improve on:
Have backup hydra-oaks on hand(?)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Brazen Racing Trail Hog Half Marathon

3rd in Age Group!

My friend Karen texted me on Tuesday if I would run "a half in Palo Alto, then drive down the coast". Absolutely! The race turned out to be in Joseph P Grant Park near San Jose, not Palo Alto.

Karen was a bit late picking me up due to ZipCar key card issues, then on the windy road up the park we got stuck behind slow cars driving 15 mph on a 30 mph road. PULLOVER!!!

Jumped out at the start, grabbed my bib from Tony "Endorphin Dude" and his Chew-weenie. Lost track of Karen, as the social butterfly that she is, was gabbing with friends.

First mile was an easy rolling run, with the added bonus of seeing Misha and her new dog, Hank, directing a turn. I stopped for a hug and a selfie. More steep hills, which I walked. Though, when I looked at my watch, even with my walks, I was ticking off 12 minute miles.

After the first aid station, Alvin caught up with me. He'd missed the start! He said "Edie, if this race was 15 miles, you'd beat me." Me "Well, it is long, with 13.4 as the distance.". He and I started leap-frogging - I was trying to maintain an even pace and "run my own race" but I kept catching back up with him. I hadn't seen Karen all race, and assumed she was well ahead of him.

For the rest of the race, I settled into an easy routine - dump a cup of water on my head. Walk the steepest ups, jog the slants and downs. I got stuck at one cattle gate before someone opened it for me, so started up the hill with about ~6 other people. I passed two slow joggers on this hill at a brisk walk. If you're running slower than someone is walking, WALK. I kept clicking off 11 - 12 minute miles.

I saw Misha about a mile from the finish "No time for a hug this time". I wanted to drop the hammer, but it was just too hot. Still, I managed to pass two guys who would run the ups, walk the downs.

Alvin finished ~5 minutes behind me, and Karen 15 minutes later. When I looked at the finisher list, Alvin was listed right under me, and the two guys I'd passed in front of me. "Oh, it's CHIP, not GUN"

"OHMYGOD, I'm THIRD IN MY AGE GROUP!!!" The last time I placed in my age group I was 17 at the PepCo Tidal Basin 5K. I leapt around in joy, and even paid $10 to have my age group medal engraved. 

Also cool, a lady recognized me from White River 50. She'd gone up with her daughter to run it, but stopped after the first, 25 mile, loop.

Karen & I celebrated by driving to Sam's Chowder House for Mai Tai's & Lobster Rolls. Loser drives home. 

Things I did well:
Stayed hydrated
Stayed fed
On hot day (in mid 90s), put water ver head at every aid station
Tried to say encouraging words to volunteers and runners.

Things to improve on:
Moment of panic when couldn't find Scobbies in bag

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tampala Headlands 50K

Tampala Headlands 50K

I'd been vaguely aware of the Headlands 50K -- it had re-booted in 2011 after not being run in 2009 or 2010. White River 50 was my big focus race, and I didn't want to plan anything until after I finished it. Then, when I looked at entering in early August, the race was already sold out with ~80 people on the wait list. 

In August, I went to Chile and hiked and biked - everything BUT running. When I got back, I traveled to Seattle for work. I was ready to run! Two good 5 mile runs, and I signed up for the wait list. On Wednesday I was in!

Thursday I flew back from Seattle and slept well. Friday was my good friend John's birthday. I ended up out at North Beach til almost 2 AM. My alarm was set for 6 AM. No problem!

Start to Rodeo Beach. The first mile was flat on Redwood Creek, at a comfy, not too fast, not too slow pace. At the climb out of Muir Beach to Pirates Cove, Running Rose caught up with me. We hiked up the hill together, as I fell to basically DFL. 

At the Coastal down hill I passed a few people, and then a few more on the Coastal uphill. Hill 88 I ran down quickly. 

Miwok water station to Tennessee Valley. Hiked the climb, then coasted down Old Springs, feeling good.

Tennessee Valley to Highway One. Walked Miwok hill, then ran Cutoff. Good pace down sun-cups.

Highway One to Caridac. Feeling really good, then stung by wasp(?) on right calf. Brushed stinging thing away, didn't get good look. OWWWEEE. Felt sorry for self. Ran out of water on walk up Dipsea to Cardiac

Cardiac to Stinson Beach. Leg hurt from sting. Wanted to rock Matt Davis but instead trudged down. Wished I'd run this trail more recently - I think I could have picked up 20 minutes if I'd been more assertive.

Stinson Beach to Cardiac. Long, 1400 foot climb back up.

Cardiac to finish. NAILED IT! 36 minutes for 3.8 miles. 

When Rose finished, her friend opened champagne and we had a nice toast. 

Things I did well:
Kept moving forward even in bad patches like after wasp sting
Thanked volunteers
Took S-Cap every hour
Ate cantaloupe - so good

Things to improve on:
Wished I'd run on Matt Davis more recently.

Should have carpooled with Rose. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

White River 50 Mile - FINISH!

White River 50 Mile -12:57

One of my favorite races of all time. I trained hard, I ran a smart race, and I enjoyed the beautiful terrain, helpful volunteers, and the joy of being outside.

Getting to the start:
Usual drama - cut it too tight for flight, then got flagged for secondary screening. Made a dash for my flight, with no time to buy food / water. On the plane I realized I hadn't brought a jacket - unclear whether I left at home or lost in dash for flight. Ate Jimmy John's, bought new jacket from REI, and hydration supplies from Freddie Meyers (Kern's for pre-race, Coca-cola for race-morning, Gatorade for race, Mike's for post-race).

Made it to Alpine Inn at 5:50, just in time to pick up my packet & pasta supper. Pasta supper was hard to eat - dunno if I was too nervous or just not appetizing. I was nervous about fueling enough. Sat next to lady from my hometown (Stefanie from Arlington, VA) and nice local couple (Lars & Erin).

Stayed at the Alpine Inn for $50 (including tax)/ night, a total bargain. The walls were paper-thin - I woke up at 4:50 AM to the people above me getting ready for the race. I got ready too, but it was 5:20 when I got to my car - and realized I'd forgotten my parking pass. Quick ride down to the start, but ended up on the wrong side of the airstrip - start parking not really labeled at all.

Quickly pulled on my pack, my headphones, my snacks -- all systems go, but no time for the bathroom. Then the race director announced that he would wait for everyone in line…so I got in line!

So excited to start - quick jaunt around Air-strip, a brief detour down a side trail, then oh-so-quickly at Camp Shephard. Still plenty of water in my pack, so no stop. Looking now at my split, perhaps way too quick. 

The climb started in earnest. I had a conga-line behind me, so rather than feel the pressure to go faster, I'd step off the trail. Rob, the aid station from Cascade Crest, caught up to me - I was delighted to see him. After a few minutes of chit-chat, he ascended quickly into the distance. Run my own race, I told myself. Ranger Creek was a campfire in the wilderness with water. 
More climbing to pop out at a scary cliff-edge, then ascend and descend along a ridge line. The front-runners were coming back, and I cheered "San FRANCISCO" when I saw a guy wearing a San Francisco Running Company outfit. I'd checked him in at an ITR run - he looked in fine fiddle. Then the fun / stress of trying to keep a decent pace while darting off the trail for the pack coming back in my direction. I overtook a few people on the climb, but mainly tried to stay out of the way of the charging pack coming my way - probably detoured for ~60 people. INCREDIBLE VIEWS - truly breathtaking. My phone was out of battery, but I really regret not getting some snaps here. 
At Corral Pass I reloaded my pack with hydration, then set out. 
WOWSERS. Some beautiful views. A quick pit stop in the woods, then I started passing more and more runners. I was worried I'd lost the way, but I was just in dense forest.

to AID STATION #5: BUCK CREEK (MILE 27.2)A descent through the trees, listening to Gabriel & Dresden '2006 from WMC, where I felt like I could truly run forever. I wiped out and face planted twice, but I just go up and kept running. The soil was soft and cushiony and all I had to do was brush myself off and keep going in time to the beats.I was in a trance as I passed people. I cranked the tunes and let myself run so fast through the endless pine needles, trying to avoid the roots and sticks and rocks and enjoy the surge of gravity and wilderness carrying me forward.
At the Aid Station I re-filled my pack and quickly left, in a band of other runners. 

I'd left the aid station with a lady who bystanders called "Karen", Lars & Erin from the night before, and a couple I'd passed on the descent. We overlapped and then fell into pace on the climb uphill. I look on climbs as a chance to recover, so I let them go off ahead as I pondered 
-wtf was I doing in the woods
-I'm hot
- why am I doing this
- no really, why am I doing this.
Long grind uphill. I pass a hurting Texan from near Galveston, on his first 50 mile race. He was doing a Coach Ken like shuffle where he would try to run uphill, when I was walking faster than he was running.
I LOVE the Fawn Ridge aid station - super volunteers, sponges, ice.

to AID STATION #7: SUN TOP (MILE 37.0) More up. A delightful down, then up to the top. I was excited about using the bathroom, but no lock and disastrous, lost 6 minutes here.
put in the headphones, cranked to G & D Sirius. Legs felt strong, no pain, just clicking out the ~9 minute miles, passing people where I could.
to the Finish.
At the aid station, a runner said to her boyfriend "I made the cut-off, I'm walking to the finish". This has been me at other races, but today? HELL NO. Even if I was moving at 16 minute / miles, I could pass people walking at 20 minute miles. A slow-speed chase through the darkening woods. I had hopes of finishing at 12:30, but I felt increasingly sleepy and tired. Had I gotten enough rest? Or was I just tired from running 12+ hours?? Finally, I popped out on the gravel road at the finish. I strided into finish at 12:57

The finish: I hung out and cheered on the runners after me. It was great to see Erin (from the pasta supper) the married couple (the guy was doing the Grand Slam and had run Vermont the prior weekend), the Texas guy finishing, and then Barry, a guy I'd run with at the very beginning. I decided to wait for the last finisher, as the last finisher usually gets no food & no glory. Cutoff was at 8 pm…the last finisher finished at… ~9"30. But it was great to see him come in - way to gut it out!
What I did well:
Scouted out race location before-hand. On a work trip to Seattle, I'd driven out to Buck's Creek and tried to run a loop. I realized - the trails were hard to find. There's NO services in the area. And it's BEAUTIFUL. So I stocked up on everything I needed in Seattle. And looked for ribbon.
Tried to run a smart 1st half. If there was someone faster behind me, instead of speeding up, I'd step off the trail and let them pass.
Kept pack filled - never ran out of water
Applied copious Body Glide
Tried to say thanks to volunteers, hikers, bikers, and a hearty "Great Job" to other runners.
Cheesecake on Friday night to celebrate birthday.
Even when felt low (mile 29, miles 46-48), kept moving forward. 
Fell, brushed self off, kept running.
Hard training - many weekends of Willow Fire Road to strengthen quads paid off. Even the day after, quads still okay, feel better than some 50Ks
Things to improve on:
I wish I had more energy for the last 6.6 miles of rolling trail. Very runnable, but I was just "blah". 
Overall pace management - I was afraid of missing cut-offs so was assertive. Now, looking at splits, I wish I'd cooled it for the Corral Pass section and blasted it on Skookum Flats.
Getting off the trail for the front runners - it was a scary single track. Not a ton of room to get off.
I should have left 25 minutes sooner for the race (5 AM vs 5:25 AM) to avoid stress.
More sleep on Thursday - IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY! and I was out til 1 AM. OK,  no regrets on that one. 

My sister says she'll crew me in a 100…DARE I???