Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
In review, I am pretty darn proud of my 2011 racing season. I entered three big races (Miwok 100k, Comrades, JFK 50), and finished all three. Along the way, I also finished two marathons, three 50Ks, a relay race (with double laps), and a few submarathon trail races.
Miwok 100K. I got in the lottery (I was #201 in the waitlist the year before), and I'd already entered Comrades, which was three weeks after, with Comrades the priority as I was traveiling to South Africa. I briefly thought about dropping Miwok to focus on Miwok, but Greg said "you can do it". I decided if it was good enough for Ann Trason, it was good enough for me.
I trained obsessively for Miwok 100k, as it was local, trying to know every inch & cranny of the trail. About a month before the race, they basically flipped the course. I trained as best I could, but still got lost on the last three miles. Still, FINISHED!!! my first 100K race, still my longest race!
Comrades Marathon. I honestly could not be happier about getting to participate in this race, and place it #1 in all the races in the last five years. So much history, so much scenery, so much…pride. I am so proud I finished this race, and so happy my family contributed to me getting to the start line through their love & support.
JFK 50 Miles. I didn't think I was going to finish. I was injured. I psyched myself out numerous times leading up to the start line. Once I started running, it felt so natural. I credit the camaraderie, not wanting to drop in front of my parents, and some residual course knowledge from biking the C & O Canal for finishing in 11:07. My biggest regret is not pushing harder to get under 11 hours to qualify for Western States. Honestly, I didn't want my parents to see me when I was pushing hard. I know I'm a snotty, sweaty, incoherent mess when I'm pushing for a finish. My mom has been skeptical of ultras, and I didn't want her to see me in a messy, unable to walk state. Still don't know the right answer. I finished the race with a smile on my face, and walked 3 miles the next day. What if I'd pushed harder? What if my parents had seen me a mess at the finish? Would they still be supportive of me running? All unanswerable questions.
Redwood Park 50K: cold day, glad I edged out Mike Weston (for the only time this year!)
Pirates Cove 30K: miserable day, glad I dropped to 30K
St Louis Marathon: My Aunt Carol was an angel from heaven.. thanks!!!
Headlands Marathon: not my best day but pleased with my time (5:48) on tough course
Headland 100: DNF, dropped at 50. I had fun training, but just wasn't my day to run this race.
Sequoia 30K: Got significantly lost, at least was "dirtiest runner".
Ragnar Relay: picked up double legs, ran 17 miles through the night, discovered Glen Ellen.
Coastal 50K: didn't feel great, never saw the sun, still finished.
North Face 50K: PR!!! at North Face 50K course by two hours. Had fun
Monday, December 19, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Leading up to the JFK 50 mile, I psyched myself out numerous times. I'd gotten a concussion in a car accident in September and lost most of October training on doctors orders not to send blood rushing to my head. My boyfriend came back from China with a virus, which sent panicked "Contagion" type thoughts through my head. I felt like I hadn't put together a solid week, much less weeks, of training.
Ken & Karen gave me a good jolt of self confidence "you have all your training from Headlands 100 mile, you'll do great". Me "But I dropped at mile 50 in Headlands in August".
Me to Elena, the big boss from HQ "I'm nervous about my 50 mile this weekend". "Whatever, fifteen miles, why are you nervous!" "It is FIFTY miles" Elena: "Oh, I thought you said fifteen….okay, 50 is a big deal"
Me to my coworkers in SF the week before the race "I'm running 50 miles this weekend,"…"didn't you just run 50 in August? You'll be fine!"
My mom to me "I printed out the race packet, and there are VERY STRICT CUTOFFS"
My parents picked me up at Dulles at 4 pm and we set off to Shepherdstown, WV. The rural country was beautiful, and we admired the 4:53 PM sunset. I'd assumed we could pick up gatorade, coke, nail scissors, and Sudafed along the way. The country was much more rural than I expected. Right as we got into Shepherdstown, there was a tiny mini market where I got gatorade, Coke, Starbucks Frappucino and Reese's--enough for the night.
When I'd biked the C & O canal I really wanted to stay at the Bavarian Inn but it was booked. So now was my make-up night of booking a swanky Potomac River view room above the C & O towpath, and eating at the Ratskeller again. I treated my parents to a Bavarian feast of spaetzle, duck & sausage before a 5:30 AM departure. I briefed my parents--"show up for the crew stops with my drop bag, don't worry if you can't make one, if I give you gloves or hat or anything at a stop, have it at the next one, and please have fun". Unfortunately, I never got to enjoy the Potomac view from the balcony of my room as we arrived after sunset and left far before dawn. I laid out my race clothes and tried to sleep.
To the start
At the race briefing at Boonsboro gym, I picked up my race shirt, pinned on my number, threaded on my chip, and tried to relax, put on my race face and pretend it wasn't 3:20 AM Pacific Standard Time. When the race director asked everyone who was military (current or past) to stand up, the applause was enthusiastic and heartfeltly genuine--I truly appreciate the men & women who've served the US.
I'd read past reports that the start was about 2/3 of a mile from the briefing, so then I quickly ducked out when the briefing was over and started walking. My head was throbbing like crazy from a head cold and being up early, so I was thrilled when I saw a mini-mart where I could use the Emergency Twenty I'd tucked in my shorts even more when I saw Tylenol Cold. Unfortunately, my $20 had fallen out somewhere. @#%#Q. nothing to do.
The gun went off, and surprised me that there was a gun. California races don't have guns! The first miles on the road were hillier than I expected, but everyone else was running. Then there was a big hill, and I just walked to the Appalachian Trail.
The first stretch was as rocky as I'd been warned. Then the trail became paved, and climbed up…up…up…till I wondered if the whole trail was paved. We reached a radio tower, and I knew we were at the top (radio towers are always at the highest point). The guy wearing a 500 mile (10 time finisher) shirt said "the sidewalk ends" and we were back on the rocky AT.
Just when I was feeling totally anonymous, 2,500+ miles from home, away from the PCTR and Endurables, a lady asked me "did you run Miwok?" "Yes!" "I ran behind you, you have a very distinctive gait". She was named Eu-Yu (total butchering of her name) from Canada. We ran together into the first aid station.
I wanted Coke to wake me up, but all the Coke had a crust of ice. "Why'd you put ice in the coke??" It was ~29 at the start, we'd climbed ~1,000 feet higher and the Coke had all iced over. I asked if there was a trash can outside the aid station, and walked out, drinking my Coke. Then I saw the heaps of trash-cups, gu wrappers, powerbar wrappers, and all other race paraphernalia. Apparently, using the trash can was optional.
Then I was in my element on the rocky Appalachian trail, passing people as I leapt from rock to rock. A lady fell in behind me, and then a guy also. We passed trains of people, and I offered to let them pass. "No, my nickname is Trip" said the lady "You're keeping a great pace". The guy said his nickname was "Billy goat", and passed me. Trip and I kept a good cadence, I felt like I was in a bizarre Wii game of "tame the tush". There were marvelous views as we were on the ridge top, but I was too busy eyeing the next 10 feet of terrain. Then I saw Billy, sitting on a rock with blood streaming from his head.
I loved the AT, but I kept saying "it's not worth it"--better play it safe than get hauled out on a stretcher. A guy tripped behind me, and he said he was looking at the splits, and thought we had to be at mile 15 (off the trail) at 10:30. $%#@$#% I put a hustle in my bustle! I started swapping places with the ultimate redneck runner--gatorade bottle stuffed in the back of his shorts, cotton sweatshirt. He said the cutoff was 11:30 and we were fine.
I got off Weaverton Cliffs (15 miles) around 11 AM, having kept my gloves on for my freezing handheld bottle. My parents were there! waving a sign and cheering me! I wanted to get some gatorade (I'd drained my bottle 30 minutes ago) and then meet up with them. Mistake: the crew stops aren't the same as the aid stops. The aid was a 1/2 mile further, and I felt like a jerk for blowing by my patient parents without even saying "hi".
Then the tedium started. The Appalachian Trail was fun, with something always going on. The C & O was 26 miles of flat terrain. The leaves were off the trees, so the scenery of the Potomac cresting over rocks was gorgeous, but I never got a groove. I tried to force 8 minutes running to 2 minutes walking, but it was harder & harder to keep going. I'd look at my watch and see I'd only run 2 out of 9 minutes. I I'd flip flop the same people with their own walking schedule (4-2, 5-1, etc), over & over.
Headphones were banned. Litter wasn't. I saw the heaps of cups and gu wrappers and felt so frustrated. I totally understood why no headphones on the narrow, rocky and rough AT, but I really, really wanted them now, on the towpath where 6 people could walk astride smoothy. How could they ban headphones , saying "Your race isn't more important than anyone elses." and not say anything about littering? A woman I was walking with said "at least people try to leave them in heaps after an aid station." I've accidentally dropped a wrapper in my time, but I have NEVER left a trail aid station with trash, unless I saw a trash can within sight.
I saw my parents at mile 28, and changed into my short sleeve shirt, and reapplied body glide. I was gliding my thighs when I saw my Mom with her camera poised. "please, don't take a photo of this". I asked where my wallet (with my antacids are). "Well, it's in here somewhere Edith", said Bill. I grabbed my drop bag and dumped everything and fished out an antacid Then, I walked about a 1/2 mile further and then went into the bathroom and hard reset myself. I wanted to finish. I attitude adjusted.
Re-awakened, I set off down the tow path. Mile 34 was as cool as I'd heard--done up as "Miracle at 34th Street", with Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, and a SANTA! I had my photo taken with Santa.
I caught up with the lady I'd been flip flopped before at mile 25, before my bathroom stop, at mile 35, and said "You got it, girl!". I passed her, but when I ran, she ran. "Are you trying to pass me?" "No, I just want to stay with you". We fell into a cadence. We'd chat for our two minutes walking, then run again for 8 minutes Soon I was too tired to chat, but we kept plugging. I was too tired to talk, but I'd hold up my hands when it was time to run. "Three more minutes running". "Two more minutes" "10 seconds".
Shalese had run the Philly Marathon the weekend before (wow!) but together we got through the rough patches of the last 6 miles on the tow path. One aid station had chicken soup, and the salt and the noodles were so good. On the last set of 8 minutes, I could see my vision starting to tunnel and change to black & white. I was pushing too hard. "Next time, let's go 7 and 3, okay? I so appreciate you being here with me, and I'm sorry if I seem rude by not talking much".
Turning off the tow path at mile 42 (9:09 elapsed time) onto the "rolling hills", my heart sank a little. I knew this hill, I'd biked it when I biked the C & O 4 years ago. I rewarded myself with a bathroom break, telling Shalese to go ahead. Then I lost my motivation. I couldn't convince myself to push to break 11 hours--I didn't want to wipe out before North Face in two weeks, I didn't want to scare my parents, I felt like I hadn't trained enough to break 11 hours.
As people passed me on the road, I realized that the whole race, my encouragements to the other runners had been what partly I wanted them to say me. "You're AWESOME" "Looking GREAT". "Doing GOOD". Now, my entreatments switched to "ALMOST THERE". "SO CLOSE". "Let's do this!" I heard footsteps behind me, and managed a "swift feet" to a guy passing me. When I passed him back, he said "Swift feet" back.
I'd hoped to see my parents at mile 44, but they weren't there. They WERE at mile 46, and I grabbed Tylenol and pushed to the finish. It was full dark now, but my night vision is good, and there were enough runners around me to know where to go. I passed a guy with a headlamp, and I said "You're smart". He said "I'm running a 50 mile race, how can you call me smart??" "At least you brought a lamp".
Then, I was close enough I could hear the announcer ahead "Here's a runner with 25 finishes…and he's only 29! look at him" I pushed in and I was done, at 11:08.
Things I did well
I dressed appropriately for the weather, I could always adjust so I was never too hot or too cold
-Sugoi Verve shorts with pockets
-long sleeve Skyline to the Sea PolyPro - switched to race short sleeve at mile 26
Ininiji knee high compression socks
Nike zip jacket, with waist pockets
Hat with a neck gaiter, that i could fold down and wear as a scar
Gloves (for first 15 and last 8 miles)
ate at least one PowerGel Blast every 10 minutes. I also ate pretzels from the aid stations, and two cups of chicken soup. I wonder if my lack of motivation at the end was due to low calories.
the JFK 50 has an abundance of aid stations, about every 3 miles towards the end. I decided to carry my bottle instead of a pack, and I was glad--I felt lighter. In my Santa photo I look a little bloated.
I was taking an S-Cap every hour for the first 8 hours, but the S-caps crushed into powder. I tried licking the powder and it was so not good.
Found friends (Tony, Shalese) to keep me motivated even with no iPod. My parents were super cute--they made a "Speedie" printout on two pages of paper and held it up for me!
Hard reset myself at a bad patch. Sometimes when things are lousy, taking a bathroom break and pulling myself together is the best thing to do.
Things I did not do well
I have been running for 20+ years with music, dating back to when I hauled around a cassette player with a 72 minute tape. I need tunes. I need rhythm. I need beats. I think I could have broken 11 hours if I'd had music on the towpath to keep me moving.
Money for emergencies
I'd taken $20 but lost it!
Could I have broken 11 hours if I hadn't psyched myself out about being undertrained? I came off the towpath at 4:09, with 110 minutes to go 8.2 miles. If I'd just kept ~13 minute pace, I'd be qualified for Western States in 2013.
I'm happy I finished, it was truly a beautiful course. And I'm happy my parents got to see an ultra race. They were astonished at how old most participants were!
Next? North Face 50K. I'd like to break 7 hours.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On the plus, I hope I'm recovered enough that I can run Golden Hills Marathon on October 8th. JFK 50 Mile is not that far away! I also got an email that the North Face Endurance Challenge course will change as Bootjack is closed for trail returns. Will it go down TCC instead?
Monday, September 26, 2011
As Saturday got closer, I got less excited. I wasn't 100% from running 32 on Ragnar. I'd cut my running back to 3 miles on Tuesday and 4 miles on Wednesday, and took Thursday and Friday off. On Friday, I wanted to go to happy hour and see a movie, not go to bed early for an early wakeup to catch the 6:30 AM bus from Rodeo to Stinson.
I pulled up to Rodeo Beach at 6:29 AM along with 3 other cars, as the bus started to pull away. "Hold the bus!", I cried. "You're TOO LATE", was Wendell's reply. Uh-oh. But I bought a ticket! Wendell unloaded cartons of bananas and water and stuffed me and two other guys into the race van. n my hurry to hop in the van, I left half of my scoobies in my car. So I had ~540 calories for 31 miles.
His crankiness was actually because 10 people had shown up without bus tickets, overfilling the bus. Wendell said yesterday it had gotten hot in the middle of the day. "No, I ran Headlands Marathon and Headlands 50, and we never saw the sun for the fog".
Wendell explained the course, including a short out and back on TCC where we had to grab a hair elastic to prove we'd done it. "I'll start the race in one and a half minutes." I thought I had enough time to go to the bathroom and come back. When I came back, all runners were gone and they shooed me up the course. Well, at least I knew where I was…DFL.
Stinson Beach to Cardiac: I took about an hour for the hike up Dipsea and Steep Ravine. A quick pit stop at Pan Toll, then out and back on TCC. On TCC I passed my first runner, and was now AFL. On the out I could see how far runners were in front of me. A quick lung bust up to Cardiac, and I passed another runner. I refilled my pack at Cardiac.
Cardiac to Muir Beach: All downhill. I passed 4 more runners. My biggest annoyance was my constantly fogged glasses. At Muir Beach, I asked the volunteer if the course went over Coyote Ridge as I thought it did. "Just follow the flags". "But does it go over Coyote Ridge?" "It goes to Tennessee Valley". The runner after me asked the volunteer "What's your next race?" and got a snapped reply of "TENNESSEE VALLEY".
Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley: Ok, this section is much harder than it looks on paper. Up Coastal. Down Pirates Cove. UP Pirates cove. And then, up the thick fog to ~1300 foot Coyote Ridge. I wished there was a 30K option. I thought about DNF'ing and cutting down to Rodeo. Why was I here? What was I doing? Then I told myself I was getting mentally tough for JFK 50. Finally down Miwok to Tennessee Valley. Tennessee Valley had only one cup of Coke left, which I downed.
Tennessee Valley to Rodeo Valley: I walked Marincello, then cruised down Bobcat to Rodeo. Larry was the aid station volunteer. "Wow, you passed a TON of people since you started last at Panoramic Highway (by Stinson)". "YEP!" They'd run out of Coke so I drank Sprite.
Rodeo Valley to Golden Gate: I walked up Rodeo. I'd been flip-flopping with Jason--I was faster on the downs, but he was a stronger up. When I got to Golden Gate, they were out of Coke. If one aid station runs out of Coke, why do all the others run out?
Golden Gate to Rodeo Valley. I started caring about time. If I busted it, I could finish at 7:30. I walked up the first part of the hill with Kate, who's son had taken second already! I was on my home turf, and I slammed out a 15 minute time on the 1.7 miles from Coastal to Rodeo Valley
Rodeo Valley to Rodeo Beach: I've run this section in practice so many times. It's hard to stay mentally tough for the last road stretch. I trundled in at 7:29:58.
1) I can talk myself out of rough patches
2) I need to leave 15 minutes earlier than I do for races when there's a bus so I'm not frantic.
3) 50K isn't that far (quoting Karl Meltzer).
M time rough pace
5.8 1:38 0:16
5.1 51:03 :10
5.2 1:29 0:17
4.6 1:07 0:14
4.6 1:08 0:14
4.2 56:02 13:20
1.7 17:22 10:12
Monday, September 19, 2011
Ragnar Relay SF to Napa is ~190 miles split between 36 legs. Runners usually run 3 legs. A college friend had asked me awhile ago if I'd be on his team "Sure!". Then I'd forgotten about it til I got an email 10 days before the race. Then the team was short runners, so Matt asked me if I could "double up" and run double legs. "Sure, I'm an ultra runner!"
The race started Friday, so my plan was to work most of the day Friday, then take the afternoon express bus up to Petaluma to meet the team and run legs 11 and 12. The bus, which should have gotten me there an hour ahead of time, was late. John (my other college buddy) scooped me up, but when we got to the relay another runner had JUST left to run 8.9 miles. One van went to go get him and return him. Then I was off.
Leg 11 was 8.9 from the rolling farm country outside Petaluma into the heart of Petaluma. The sun was setting over the fields, and it was a beautiful rural day. Vans would stop along the way and cheer me on. Then I realized they were cheering on their runners coming up behind to pass me. I strategically walked three steep hills, as I knew I had ~30 more miles to go. I met Cory and Marco (my van mates) for the first time when they stopped to give me Gatorade. As we got closer to the exchange, the runners passing me said "C'mon, we're almost there! Pick up the pace!" But I knew I wasn't there, as I had 2.7 after.
Exchange: I felt like a race car driver as I glugged Gatorade while Matt clipped on a reflective vest, rear blinker, and front headlamp.
Leg 12 was 2.7 miles through the heart of Petaluma with numerous stoplights, over the 101 and through some shopping malls. Not very scenic. I handed the slap bracelet off to van 1.
Matt, Cory, Marco and I got an awesome burger & brew at Brody's Burger in Santa Rosa. Then we sacked out at a high school gym from 10:45 to midnight. All to soon it was time to get the exchange from van 1, as we were running through the night.
Marco's leg was in pitch darkness, and Cory was steaming from the cold night when he finished. While Matt was running his double legs, we went to find me caffiene. I bought all the things one buys at an all night gas station--coca-cola, double shots and Reeses. I was trying not to psyche myself out with my back to back 8.3 then 9.0 legs.
Exchange 22: Marco and I waiting in the dark at a park around 4 AM for Matt to come in after 10 miles. There were only a couple other vans. A guy started yelling "You think you're so cool YELLING and SCREAMING while I'm TRYING to SLEEP. YOU GUYS SUCK". It was odd as at the time really the only sound was the guy yelling at us.
Leg 23: 8.3 miles from Howarth Park on the outskirts of Santa Rosa along Highway 12. There wasn't van support allowed, so it was just me running on the shoulder. There were a few gas stations and a 7-11, and then I was really out in the country underneath the near full moon. I loved it. I turned off my headlamp and ran by moonlight. I could see cars approaching way in the distance, and I'd turn on my headlamp so they could see me. Otherwise I just ran. Around mile 5 was a pleasant surprise of a pallet of water as an unmanned water stop. I drank around a half bottle to wash down my emergency Excedrin.
Exchange 23: a most welcome bathroom. When I sat in the bathroom at 5:30 AM, I thought I was hallucinating because I saw flashes of red. Then I realized it was my own taillight. I gulped another Double Shot, grabbed a new pack of snacks. On the next 9 miles, there was van support, and I asked Marco to start meeting me every 3 miles with Gatorade.
Leg 24: The shoulder waxed and waned. I was hoping for a sunrise, but the sky just gradually changed from black to gray. Marco giving me Gatorade helped break up my journey as I felt fatigue setting in. In retrospect, I think I wasn't eating enough. There was a public porta-potty in Glen Ellen, and when I started running again I noticed blood on my arm. My mind flashed through many theories of where this blood was coming from, all of which were fairly gross. Answer? My thigh chafe was so bad it was oozing blood. Gross. Finally I saw the one mile to go sign, and I was at the exchange!
Exchange 24: Until 9 AM, the school auditorium was open for sleeping. I sacked out on the stage in the darkness for about 40 minutes. Too wired from caffeine to sleep, but it felt darn good to be lying down.
Marco, Matt, Cory and I had a great breakfast at Community Cafe with $5 mimosas. Cory is the guy I want in my van, as he led the Mimosa Train.
Exchange 30: The RagMag said there was sleeping here. There was no sleeping, only an open field with some tents. I laid on the ground in the shade of a tent. The day was getting quite warm. Here's where the relay started to fall apart. We'd projected a 5 pm finish. We were running a little behind, and now thought we'd finish at 6 PM, in plenty of time for the 8 pm finish.
But Tammy, our leg 29 runner, was missing. She hadn't come in from her leg. The course officials said for van 2 to start so we wouldn't get behind. We tried to figure out how we could a) run our legs and pick up runners and b) find Tammy. John started running leg 30. Marco started running leg 31. Matt tried to figure out what to do, when we got a text from Marco. Tammy was on HIS leg, and he sent us a GoogleMaps pin of where he'd seen her. Matt said the absolute right thing "I don't care about the race time or finish, we need to find Tammy, NOW." We dropped Cory off and found Tammy, disoriented and thirsty after wandering around for 9 miles.
Exchange 34: We'd dropped Matt for his 7.9 leg. The day had heated up to 86 degrees, and we realized we were almost out of water. We made a quick pit stop at Oakville Grocery, and also bought chips for Matt. Cory and I ate almost all the chips while waiting.
Leg 36: The final 5.2 miles. It was hot, I was underfed, my thighs chafed, my feet were blistered, and there was a strong hot breeze against me. At least the St Helena scenery was beautiful. The ending was anti-climatic--I turned off the road into an ankle turning field, and ran under an arch with the team.
Bring bodyglide. always
Running in the dark is fun
Mimosas make everything better
Marco can be my crew anytime!
I love relays
I called it a "hell" of an experience, cause honestly some parts were hellish. Not knowing where Tammy was was terrible. Long stretches of road with a narrow shoulder were worrisome. Getting dehydrated and hungry was no fun. But getting to hang out with friends and see some beautiful roads is a hell of a time!
Monday, August 29, 2011
1. Carry a course map.
2. Don't assume the runner in front of you knows the way.
3. Carry lots of water.
I had ample time to reflect on rules 1, 2, and 3 of trail running as I broke all three. Many familiar faces at the start of the Sequoia 30K-- Brian, Greg's trainer, Misha, Karen & Coach Ken, and Marshall Ulrich and his wife Heather Ulrich.
Marshall & Heather were super friendly. I said "I admired your book and your run--I bicycled cross country, and it was hard riding, much less running." And Marshall was impressed! By my bike ride! The man is an unbelievable LEGEND. In the book I'd wished there were more photos of Heather, and she is so sweet in person. If I ever run cross country, I want her on my support team. She, however, might not want to do it ever again.
Started off through a beautiful dirt trail, weaving in and out of shadow and light under a thick canopy of redwoods. The course was a "pink loop (20K) with an orange out and back section of 10K. Melissa and I were chatting, my foot caught on an invisible root and I fell heavily into her, almost taking her down too. She pushed me back upright. Sorry Melissa!
I was surprised by how quick the first aid station was (34 minutes), and got a quick refill from Kevin Luu. Then I was surprised how far the next aid station was. The As I was thinking about how I had to go to the bathroom, my foot caught on another invisible root and I wiped out. About a mile further, thinking how I needed to not think about the bathroom, I wiped out again. I was filthy, covered from head to toe in dirt, even up my stomach.
At the next aid station at the "out" of the orange spur, the volunteer picked up the cooler and gave me a makeshift shower. I was more than half way through, and after drinking several cups of craz cliff shot, felt great. Walked back up the hill to finish the pink loop.
As I got to the end of the orange loop, a runner started down the pink loop. As I caught her, she said "I'm not sure if this is the right way.". It wasn't. We backtracked along the pink loop. When the 50K runners (doing a second loop) saw us, we knew we'd gone the wrong, longer way, and the heart went out of me. I was thirsty.
When I got FINALLY to the aid station again, Catra Corbett lectured me for "not carrying a map" AND "don't follow the runner in front of you blindly". Thanks, Catra.
At the end, Scott Dunlap said I'd probably run closer to 35K or 37K. Doh! So Karen finished ahead of me.
Getting bonus miles in aside, it was a beautiful course.
Carry my hydration pack on hot days
Carry a map
Don't follow the runner in front of me blindly
The 10K spur out and back is not as scenic as the 20K course
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Monday: 4 miles around Buena Vista Hill and back on Page St, just testing out my fitness
Tuesday: 8 miles Ran to Ocean Beach, had supper at Outerlands, walked up Judah till the N streetcar came, then ran up from Cole Valley to Twin Peaks
Wed: 4 miles on Dolores: ran to 30th and back, ran the whole way
Thur: 3 miles easy, around Buena Vista Hill
Saturday: 6 miles gentle up Rodeo Valley to SCA, down Coastal. Thick fog the whole way. I felt great and wanted to go further, but Sequoia 30K was on Sunday and wanted plenty in the tank. My friend Karen is running and I don't want to be cougared.
The week has given me more confidence--my IT band hasn't flared up, my ankle is decent. I put on weight while I wasn't running that I'm not too happy about--I hope it will evaporate once I get more consistent.
My goal for Sequoia 30K: under 4 hours, and seeing Marshall Ulrich!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Then on Saturday I decided I'd run down to MoPac bridge and back, roughly 4.5 miles. The first 10 minutes was okay. Then I found myself wishing I'd stopped at the last water fountain. I went as slow as possible to conserve energy Then the wheels fell off, and I kinda staggered back into the hotel, 50 minutes of sunny heat later. I drank water from the hotel cooler, greatly concerning the desk lady who said it was 108 degrees and I looked like I was dying. I came down 10 minutes later after standing in a cold shower, and she said I looked less dead.
I got to be good friends with the cooler lady as I stopped by every time I entered or left the lobby to try to hydrate myself. I found out later that it had (only) been 105 when I was running. But it was a dry heat :) I only wish I'd jumped into Town Lake, it looked so cool and refreshing.
I'd planned to run Headlands 50K, but was waiting to enter till I felt more confident about my leg. The $95 race fee was also a turn off. Then Coach Ken wrote to say that Karen was running Sequoia this weekend AND Marshall Ulrich will be there! I think I'll run the 30K as a confidence builder and time check. Uh-oh, what if Karen beats me! I'll be cougared!
Seeing friends is always great. They think I'm crazy for ENTERING a 100 Mile race, and it's nice to feel comfy being me. I loved running in Austin--but it's only after moving to SF I've moved up into ultras. The cool weather? Or Greg as a running buddy?
Goals for 2011:
Finish JFK in 11 hours (10 would be nice)
um…I guess that's it. I'll run some opportunistic races. I'm pondering 100 possibilities.
Plans for week:
4-5 miles Monday
Tues- run to beach (?)
Wed run with Endurables
Thurs 4-5 miles
Thursday, August 11, 2011
This goes on the list of my worst recent races:
St Louis Marathon: 90+ degree weather, 20+ mile winds, extremely heavy pollen. My angel, Aunt Carol, who surprised me at mile 17, bought me Claritin and paced me in. Without her, I don't know if I would have finished.
Ohlone 50K. Started DFL, barely made the first cutoff, and had Chuck Wilson pass me in a pouf. Lost a toenail from wearing La Sportiva Fireblades, and decided to go back to my trusty Air Pegasus.
My cold malaise is almost over, and I'm eyeing Headlands 50K. I haven't run all week, and I'm feeling antsy.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Prerace was stunningly lowkey. CoachKen, Karen and I arrived around 6:30 for a 7 AM start. The check-in lady knew me, and I felt bad I didn't know her. "You finished Miwok, you'll do great!" I got my long sleeve race shirt and a baggie with three Clif samples. At the last minute they'd added drop bags at Vista Point, but I didn't know. Mike gathered the small crowd for the pre-race instructions. The most relevant was on Coastal by Golden Gate, the downhill runner ALWAYS had the right of way.
Right from the start I didn't feel great. I continued, as I often don't feel good and then start feeling better. Never felt better--started feeling extremely drowsy and had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Carol & Larry were at Tennessee Valley, along with Karen. Carol said "I saw you on the front of UltraRunning Magazine". "No, you saw my BACK on Ultrarunning". Through the mist, I saw a bobcat on Coyote Ridge! I walked up Marincello with a non-racer who told me all about UTMB last year. Talking to her distracted me from my right IT band hurting with every step. I told myself I would finish 25 miles (a loop) and then call Greg from my phone in my drop bag and talk about "dropping".
I felt really bummed to look at my time 5:30 at mile 19--at Headlands Marathon I had FINISHED at 5:45. Then I saw Coach Ken as he came up SCA--he said don't drop, just slow my pace down and see if I felt better. Plodded down Rodeo Valley, and then I saw Greg! He'd driven from SF to bring my pack. I'd accidentally packed my extremely grody bladder instead of my brand new bladder. I'd used my backup bottle instead. Greg gave me a much needed big hug. I was happy to see him!
We met up again at mile 25, and Greg helped me fill my new pack. I wanted soup but the aid station wasn't doing it that early in the race. Then we sat for about 6 minutes looking at the birds on Rodeo Lagoon. I decided I wasn't ready to give up yet. I just felt so energy-less and blah. All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep.
Walked over the 8 miles to Golden Gate (mile 33), feeling lifeless but slightly better. A fog covered the trail, along with a chill wind. I cracked a joke to the runners in reverse "you forgot your sunglasses". The sun never broke the clouds on a surprisingly cool August day. I could see the aid station and the sun beyond it in the bay. No soup at the aid but extremely yummy cran-razz Clif shot. I'd never had it before, and it was delicious!
I talked myself into continuing to TV (mile 38) and dropping there with my drop bag with shoes and clean clothes. As I started up the road to the bridge (famous from Saucony ads) two hikers asked the way to the trailhead. I grunted "that way". I felt bad about being rude, and chatted a bit. They were staying at Cavallo Point, and stunned when I said we were running a 100 mile race.
I couldn't even run down Marincello. Usually I KILL it on the downhills. Now I barely mustered a walk. I saw another bobcat, this time a bobcub so small and cute, but not enough time to get a picture.
I plodded into TV, and it was bustling with a cheer squad with an AWESOME sign, and a big family all wearing "Run 50 miles Christopher!". The 50 was taped over with 100 on some of the shirts-recycling from a shorter race! I sat down in a chair and ate yummy chicken noodle soup. In the chair opposite me was a faster runner getting his feet taped up. People would poke their head in and look at his feet and wince. I never got a good look, and the runner never said anything, just stoically sat while he was duct taped.
It was 6:30, and I didn't think I could do another 13 hard miles to make the 10 pm cutoff at Rodeo Beach. Even fresh, this section takes me 3+ hours. I called Greg to say I was dropping, but it rolled to voice mail. Randy (another endurable) was volunteering at the aid station, and he came to check on me. "Just drinking my soup, thinking about dropping." "Just remember, when the night comes, it's a whole new day". I started up Miwok, but the hill just seemed impossible in my state. Greg called me right then. I wasn't ready to quit yet, was I? I turned around and went back to the bathroom. Then I texted him "continuing…not ready to quit".
I looked at my watch. I'd left TV at ~6:30 and the sun set at 8:15.. If I got to Muir Beach by 7:40, I could make it over technical Pirate Cove before it got too dark, then I could make it to Rodeo Beach by 10 PM, the 15 hour 50 mile cutoff. Then it would be MY decision to quit.
Suddenly, at the top of Coyote Ridge, I was in the hunt. I ran down to Muir Beach, scampering quickly. Earlier, it had really irked me that the course got re-routed around Muir Beach, adding ~1.2 miles. This time, I just knew I had to run faster. I didn't even refill my pack, just grabbed pretzels and showed my bib.
I ran Pirates Cove! There was no sunset in the foggy gloom, but I made it to TV right as it got too dark to see. It was 7:45. An awesome volunteer helped me with my pack, then I took off. Old Springs was quick, but then Wolf Ridge was foggy. Once I got to the top, I knew 10 PM was out of reach.
I've taken wrong turns on Hill 88 in broad daylight--it's littered with use trails that end suddenly on steep cliff dropoffs. I took it slow in the thick fog. The steps agonized my tight IT band, unused to walking dowhill. I knew my race was over. I'd thought about dropping for the past 30 miles, and it was finally time. Greg met me near the bottom and we walked in together.
Things I did well:
I was super well prepared in course knowledge. Every turn I knew. I barely looked at the ribbons at all.
I packed a backup light & hat at TV, and I needed them!
Tried to thank volunteers, not sure how well I did at grumpy times.
Kept going even when race not going well.
Sometimes, your mind might be ready for a race, but your body has a cold. I still feel sick two days later. I know I have a 100 in me--just not this one.
I'm trying to not feel like a failure. I failed at 100 miles, but I succeeded at 50 miles. 5 years ago, I WANTED to do 50 miles, but it seemed impossible. Now, I'm bummed I got a PW of 15+ hours. However, I would have been devastated if I'd DNF'd at Comrades--I had so much invested (travel, effort, emotion). Headlands 100 will be there next year (I hope). And I'm so proud Coach Ken finished his third try at HH!
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Rodeo Beach to Tennessee Valley 5.4 mile 1:18 14.4 min/mile
Tennessee Valley to Muir Beach 4.1 58 14.1
Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley 3.8 1:01 16
Tennessee Valley to Golden Gate 1:11 5 14.2
Golden Gate to Rodeo Beach 1:18 8 9.75
Wow. talk about negative splits!! 2:29 for the second half, 3:15 for the first half! I don't think vie ever been happy about my time from Rodeo to Tv over Hill88--something about that hill cramps me, and the best I he for is survival. Coach Ken loooves it and keeps talk in about a Hill 88 88 repeat race. The middle TV hill is also tough. Coyote ridge was resurfaced about. 2 years ago and now is at best rutted and uneven and at worse a clay mud morass. I'm not sure the last segment is 8 miles-- but I was running solidly and passing.
Last night I worked on my pace chart for Headlands 100...
6:20 for first loop
6:40 for second
8:15 for the night loop
8:45 for final 25
It seems very doable to me--I'm budgeting 19 minute miles over the night. The y factor is aid stations--I'm only budgeting 5-10 minutes too each. No major stops, just changing clothes for the night and ahovelling in soup and cals.
What if there was a new Hillside Strangler out there? Every squeek sounded ominous. I turned off my light, and the dark was near absolute. As I began the climb up Coastal Fire Road I tried to reassure myself that I would see anyone approaching me...unless they were wearing night vision goggles like in Silence of the Lambs (cue screetchy scary music). I went from telling myself I'd cut the out and back down Muir Beach, to turning on Fox and cutting the loop down to 3 miles. As I got closer to the car, I pulled out the key and had my phone on 9-1, ready to push the last 1.
As this blog post is proof of, absolutely nothing happened to me besides my own stress. It was beautiful to be up above the city, looking at the lights spread out, but I was too nervous to enjoy it. I run quite often in the city after dark. I've run in the dark by myself above SCA. I've hiked hundreds of miles by myself (some in the dark). Just something about today freaked the bejabbers out of me, and I'm glad to be back home.
I wore my "One" shell jacket, wool socks, fleece hat, gloves, and Sugoi tights. Got hot almost immediately, took off gloves. Also took off hat and unzipped jacket. I was just debating whether I should take my jacket at all on the night loop, when I got higher and the wind picked up. Yep, I should take a jacket. And a pacer. My headlamp held up fine, and I experimented with using my handheld.
My split chart is in draft form. Right now it shows a 30:12 finish, which would be fine by me. Thank god it's not Hardrock with two nights!
Monday, July 18, 2011
Ken & Mrs Coach Ken gave me ride, so plenty of time to pick up bib, take a few pre race snaps.
Ken trash talked in the car that even with me running an extra 1.2 at the beginning to make the 25 mile loop into the marathon, and him running the 50, he would beat me. NO WAY.
Started off down road at relaxed pace, right around the middle of the pace. Right when we got back to the parking lot, my right knee started painfully pulling where the tendon attached to the knee. It was so bad I even debated quitting. I tried to walk it off. It was a foggy moist day so I didn't have a good sense of the field, but as I walked up Hill 88, everyone passed me. Two blond guys with Texas race shirts visiting, who said "we hope to see some views". And when I thought everyone had passed, the last few people passed and I was truly alone in my pain.
After emerging from a battery, saw two runners coming towards me. "Are you lost" I asked. "No, we're waiting for you cause you're last". I felt doubly bad--they were waiting for me, and I wouldn't wait for them later. "I like being last, don't wait for me". Once more at the top they waited again, and I urged them not to wait.
Passed them both on Wolf Ridge, then picked off one more runner coming into Tennessee Valley aid station. Karen was there, along with Carol and Larry, PCTR stalwarts. I emptied pebbles out of my socks before starting the Pirates Cove loop.
My leg felt a little better, but still no oomph. Two bikers passed me up Coastal Trail with jerseys that said "Flour + Water", "Pizzeria Delfina". As I passed them at the top, I said "your outfits make me hungry, all the great restaurants!"
Slow descent through Pirates Coves, with a couple stops to adjust my shoelaces. It wasn't raining, but it was very moist and my shoes kept moving around. In the fireroad into Muir Beach I could see the people ahead of me coming back up. No sign of Ken or Mike Weston--they must have at least 20 minutes on me.
Coyote Ridge was a thick clay mud. When I tried to jog, my feet felt ilke they were five pounds heavier than usual. A half inch of mud was caked on. At the top, I knew that I'd done 3 of the 5 big climbs (hill 88, Pirates Cove, and Coyote Ridge) and started a brisk descent back to TV.
Walk up Marincello, and then I was in the hunt. ~12 miles left to go, and I felt good. I wished I had more Scoobies, but otherwise all systems were positive. On SCA I started to let myself go. I started passing people. Even with streams of runners coming back, I still wanted to go faster. Soared past some runners on the paved road to the Golden Gate Aid Station. And best of all, right as I was coming in, Coach Ken was leaving. The station was out of Coke and pretzels, so after filling my pack, I was quickly out.
And now the Mr. Jeckell side of me came out. Somehow, at the beginning of the race I'm pretty "ok" with being DFL. It gives me a feeling of control and power to know that I can only pass people. In the late stages of the race, I want to BEAT BEAT BEAT the people in front of me.
Going up SCA, I unexpectedly see Greg!!!! coming down! YAY!!! No time to chat much except "I've got to beat Ken and Chuck Wilson who are just ahead"! I pass Chuck Wilson (yay, I'm faster than a 62 year old running 50 miles) and Ken (who's slowed down). Then I just want to get faster. and faster.
Greg rabbits me down Rodeo Valley Lagoon, then turns off to get his car and meet me at the finish. I yield the track for a runner going up, then twist my ankle on a grass pot hole. OWWWW!!! I can still trot along though. Keep going…keep going…just like I have in training runs. I pass more people, but barring an exorcist like spin of my head, there's no way to see if they're 50 miles or marathoners. Then Greg passes me in the car, and then the FINISH!!!!
I thought I would break 6 hours. When I was feeling good pre race, I'd hoped to break 5 hours which would help me qualify for future races. When my leg was feeling bad, I let go of all time expectations and decided I was just previewing the Headlands 100 course. So I was pleased with a 5:48 trail marathon finish. The weather was cool and moist, which was good (never got too hot or thirst) and bad (trail slick and muddy).
Should have done different:
Wanted more Scoobie snacks
hat? I was cold in some middle sections
Snapped at Greg when he blocked trail--felt bad immediately.
Kept going even through bad patches
Thanked Aid station volunteers for volunteering
Said "Good job" to other runners when passing or crossing paths
Helped out of towners with race tips like "It's all downhill to the bridge (except for a few rollers)
Helped Ken refill his bottles at the 25 mile turnaround, on his way to a PR
Do I feel ready for Headlands 100? Yes! and no. I don't think one can ever feel "ready" for 100 miles. I know the course well. If I keep moving, I can stay ahead of the cutoffs. Taking off 12 minutes for the extra 1.2 miles, I did 5:35 for 25 miles, or 12:40 pace. I never felt like I was pushing super hard. If I do my first loop in 6, my second in 6:30, and my third in 8, I'll have 75 miles in 22 hours--jut in time for one more loop as the sun rises.
To get for HH:
Starbucks Frappucinos (multiple)
extra hat and gloves for each drop bag
Change of socks, shirt, shorts, shoes in case foggy wet.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
"My whole life".
Riding the taxi from the Durban airport (about 35 minutes outside of town), my taxi driver asked me about my training. I felt like as soon as I'd heard about Comrades (probably in the 80s when Salazar won it) I was intrigued. The more I heard, the more I was interesting. But the race always seemed like a distant, unattainable idea. 54 miles--so far. And how would I get the time and money to go to South Africa? This year, everything seemed to fall into place. After finishing North Face 50 Mile two years in a row, my boyfriend strongly urged me to enter. "you can do it". Work very generously allowed me to work remotely the week before the race so I had time to acclimate to ~14 time zone differences, along with a different climate. And I cleaned out my frequent flyer account to get there! I told my taxi driver I'd be happy to finish, and it would be great to go under 11 hours. He said "9 hours or don't bother". Wow. Everyone's a critic, huh? I said when he ran 9 hours, he could challenge me.
On race day morning, I left the hotel carrying my "tog bag" (change of clothes and shoes for the end of the race) and started following the streams of other athletes heading to the start line, about 8 blocks away. Halfway there, I realized I'd forgotten to take my allergy medicine. #$@#!!! I debated going on without it, but not having taken it had hurt me so much in windy polleny St Louis Marathon, where I'd barely eked out my qualifier time for Comrades. I dashed back to the hotel, and got the desk to cut me a new key, then dashed upstairs. No time now for a tog bag--I'd wear my sweaty clothes home.
More confident, I lined up at the back in the "H" corral. Every runner is seeded based on their qualifying time, from "A" all the way back to "H". I'd expected a mob scene like Chicago, with pushing and race officials slamming shut the corrals. Much more low key, and I even had time to go to the bathroom. The cruel irony of Comrades is the slower you are, the more it hurts you to be at the back. The race is a strict 12 hour cutoff, GUN to GUN. So if it takes the H group 15 minutes to cross the start line (as it had in other years), I actually would only have 11:45 to finish.
As the local anthems played, it was very hard for me not to cry. I was so happy to be at the start-even just getting here felt so special. I told myself "no tears, save the water".
5 AM was still pitch black, and I'd wondered how I would see. The first miles (KM?) were all on city streets and highways lit by highway lights. The biggest danger was dodging the black burlap overcoats that runners were discarding. Even at the early hour, the street was lined with cheering spectators. As we rolled out on the highway, spectators were over us at the overpasses. It was like a highway too in traffic jams and oscillations from runners in front slowing down. At this point, the course was still packed. I cut off a guy, and he snarled something in Africaaner at me that I couldn't understand, but it ended with a curt "Edith". We'd gotten bibs for front and back, and he was calling me out!
As soon as I hit the first uphill where I was working hard, I decided to walk. And run the downhills. And walk. To South Africans, the day was a cool day. Coming from foggy San Francisco, anything over 70 is considered a "scorcher". I wanted to get in miles before the sun rose and it got hot. When the sun did rise, it was anti-climatic, rising behind us. Just as I thought the whole race would be on a highway, we got off on an exit and started climbing local streets.
I hit the first waterstop, where I was confronted with "baggies" of water and Enerjade, and cups of Pepsi. The baggie was sealed--just bite and drink! Except for I'd gnaw for a bit, get a snootful of liquid sprayed on me, then drink.
At the expo the day before, I'd hovered over the 11 hour paceband or 11:30 paceband, before settling on the 11 hour. Up into 20 K, I was a bit ahead of it. I saw my first "buses"--large bands of runners, moving together. They are a combo of an organized club (with set leaders who chant the pace) and assorted hanger ons who decide to "climb on". They would sing songs in unison and gnerally, have a good time! I was a little ahead of an 11 hour bus, and feeling good.
Then we hit the first named hill, that without undulation went up and up. Nothing I hadn't done before in the Marin Headlands, but I wasn't even thinking about running. In terms of grade and length, comparable to Randall Trail in the Miwork. The buses would jog and walk. I stuck with walking, and got left behind. Both men and women were wearing outlandish costumes with feathers and crazy hats. I asked a women why she was dressed like this "So my friends can find me". True, with 15K starters, finding your friends was a challenge.
A nice stretch through a suburby area full of families "barbing", then another hill. Then I was pleasantly surprised that even on an "up" year there were still lovely downhill long stretches that I could cruise down. The other runners were so friendly, saying "Well done Edith" or "where are you from Edith"? Eventually I realized my bib color was different, signifying I was international, and runners might be extra friendly due to that. I'd started stashing two baggies in the perfect storage place--my sports bra! One of Energade, one of water, so I always had one handy for a thirsty uphill walk. Suddenly I felt very sticky from an Energade that burst and oozed down me. I tried to hose off with water, but was just hopeful there weren't bees around.
I kept seeing signs for "Valley of a Thousand Hills" which sounded ominously ugly. More beautiful up, more beautiful down, all so green and lovely it almost brought me to tears, though I needed the hydration. I thought of everyone who had helped to bring me to here, my aunt Carol who'd paced me at my qualifier at St Louis Marathon, my grandmothers who useda walker, my friends with injury, and I thought how lucky I was to get to experience such a grand run. Along this stretch, I saw the sad sight of two young child offering Enerjade--until I realized they were begging for Enerjade.
I crossed the hallway point about an hour before the cutoff, as the announcer helpfully pointed out that the winner had just finished (in ~5:35). Ok, I get it, I'm not running. Then there was the final big climb of Inchanga. I settled into a walk, debating whether my stomach was sloshy cause I was over hydrated or under hydrated. I felt a jot in my hand like an electro shock, like Greg had told me was a sign of dehydration. I fished out an Energade and drank it.
At the top, I was ready to run, but when I started I felt like absolute dogmeat and that the race was disintegrating. My foot had swelled, and my chip was cutting into my ankle with every step. My stomach still felt terrible. I spent a minute retying my shoes to a comfy tightness, then a 3 minute bathroom break. I drank an Energade. Ok, I was ready to go NOW!
Now I was in the "Drummond Flats", ~ 10 miles of rolling unshaded road. The 11 hour bus had passed while I was in the bathroom. I continued on, running the downs, walking the ups. When I was walking an up, a bus passed me. I expected the sign to say "11;15". The sign said "12 hours". Holy !##! I immediately tried to pick up the pace and managed to pass it back. I fell in with Sonnett, a four time finisher (as her bib said) "Why is the 12 hour bus sooo close? I thought I was on pace for 11:30!" "It's the under 12 hour bus, and it's the FAST 12 hour bus". Got it! I felt much better. Being on pace with a 4 time finisher made me feel much better.
This part of the race suited me--the long swoops reminded me of the rolling Marin trails, but with better footing. I kept passing and then repassing a cow. I finally asked "how many cows?" There were FOUR guys all dressed up like cows--I wasn't actually passing the same cow multiple times! On the long uphills, a sweep car would drive along, popping all the discarded enerjades.
Right around mile 40 I was sincerely wishing that the founder of Comrades had planned the race between two towns closer together than Pietzerburg and Durban. 54 miles? wouldn't 44 miles be more than enough? I'd run out of S-caps, and gagged down a truly horrible overly salted potato at the green mile cheering station at mile 43 (?) I was in a low contemplating the ten plus miles remaining when a college aged guy said exactly the right thing. "Go get your medal girl". YES. I'm GONNA GO GET MY MEDAL!!!
The rest of the race went by with me keeping an eye on my watch, trying to make sure I would beat the cutoff. I walked up Polly Shortts, then discovered I'd walked up "little" Polly Shorrtts (the mile before Polly). Determitedly, I strode on, past guys collapsed on the side, their race over.
Only 8 miles to go! At the beginning of the race, the thermometer style signs measuring down the kilometers had tormented me with how full they still looked. Suddenly, the kilometer "meter" looked very empty at 10K to go. Then my blisters popped with a jolt of liquid agony. OH NO. Was my race over??? I kept going, and the pain abated. If I had to hobble every step, I could still finish in time.
The air was hazy and the sun setting into my eyes. I could barely see, but I knew I was getting closer and started pushing. I could break 11:30! I started asking other runners "how long do we run in the stadium? How long is the lap"? I saw a stadium, and thought we were done, but we cruelly ran around that stadium. Suddenly I was on dirt in a cheering crowd. The stadium was DIRT! I was almost done! I was there!!! I heard people say USA and chanted USA! USA! I crossed the finish line and was so overcome and proud of myself I cried. Then I realized there was a camera and tried to smile for a good finish photo. Then I started crying again, so happy and surprised and thrilled and overcome. I had really done it. I had really, really, done it.
On my way to the international tent (run a race in South Africa, become a superstar!) another runner wanted their photo with me "because you're international". I posed for a few, then barely standing, went into the tent and watched the finish. Someone nicked my space blanket when I went to the bathroom, the bus line back was a 50 minute race, the bus itself was a two hour ride, and my left leg swelled alarmingly. None of it outweighed how happy I was.
The next day I limped down to the beach, a half mile, 20 minute walk for a quick salt water soak. Other blue shirted Comrades runners were there too, bouncing in the waves, and I joined the happy blue Comraderie.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Saw Darshan at start, then quick dash cross beach! Bottleneck at beach, but not as bad as expected. Glad previewed course, I was ready for steep Conzelman climb. Greg lost his phone! at bathroom by Marin Visitor Center. I didn't see Chuck Wilson directing traffic, though Greg did. Chatted with Sandy, who said she was dropping at Pan Toll. Guy next to us said "Fast walk". Coastal around hostel more technical than expected (and poison oak), stopped to double tie shoes. Strong wind crossing back over the beach, but then back to Rodeo Beach to see Rick Gaston! I didn't realize he knew my name, but he said "go Edie". Greg was at the car, getting my phone so he could coordinate with his pacer. I grabbed an antacid and chugged my Gatorade. The car really was a perfect aid station, so I didn't go to the official aid station!
The climb up Hill 88 went by at a fast walk, then it was an easy float down into Tennessee Valley on Old Springs. Darshan passed me, then I passed him back. At Tennessee Valley I drank as much as I could and grabbed a handful of pretzels.
TV to Pan Toll was the longest section (8.9 miles) with two climbs. I'd glad I'd climbed Fox Trail the week before in hotter weather, the weather was actually cooler and more pleasant. Greg and I walked and chatted, then jogged a downhill before the final ascent up Coyote Ridge. Somehow I managed to lose my iPod!!! in taking it off to chat with Greg. Luckily, he had a spare one on him, so I was once again "tuned", though Greg's earholes are a different size than mine, so the earbuds kept falling out.
I prefer the new course--the climb up Coyote Ridge is steep, about 1,000 feet climbing, but after it, there's a nice 4 mile downhill on Miwok. This was all very runnable so I listened to my music and kept an eye on Greg in the distance. So far I'd been (roughly) on my pace chart. At Randall (34.5) the cutoff was 8:15, or 1:55. I'd planned to arrive at Randall at 1:40. I'd drifted about 7 minutes behind, but I still had 8 minutes, so wasn't concerned, but knew I couldn't dawdle. Again, my course previews helped me, I walked the steepest part of Deer Park, saving my energy for later. I looked at my watch, 10:20, and my chart had me getting to Pan Toll at 10:37. I picked up my pace, breaking into a jog. I could see Greg ahead of me on Cardiac hill and caught up with him, to his surprise. We were about 3/4 mile out of Pan Toll, and both of us were completely out of water. "C'mon, let's get to Pan Toll and get all our goodies!" We companionably ran together into Pan Toll, where Coach Ken was!
Coach Ken was a huge help. He knew how to fill my HydraPak, and got us in and out of there quickly. The aid station was hyper organized with the drop bags neatly arranged by race number, unlike the North Face races where Pan Toll is a confusing mess with 50 mile runners and 50K runners and their bags jostling for attention. I wanted to chat with him more, but there was NO TIME, we had to hustle the 13 miles to Randall in 2:20. We'd caught up to within 5 minutes of pace, but knew we still had to push.
I fell in behind Greg, and he set a good pace through the gentle forest shade of Coastal Trail, then out into the exposed single track. We kept passing people, which felt good. Greg turned around "I thought I lost you! I'm working hard!" "you're doing great, let's keep catching people" The miles went by quickly behind him, though he was not pleased I was keeping up with him. I stopped to tie my shoe and he put some distance between us, and I couldn't catch back up.
It was a beautiful clear day, with Stinson Lagoon laid out at our feet. The earlier fog had burned off, but it was still not as hot as the previous week. And now, the front runners were coming back, approximately 20 miles! ahead of me. Nathan Yanko was a cheery sight, and also Will Gotthart, who ran the Pirades Cove Soggy Aid Station. The highlight was a windblown Elvis (Ian Sharmian) stretching his legs.
I made it to Bolinas Aid station basically back on my chart, and decided to relax. There was no point in exhausting myself to get to mile 34.5! I took off my shoes and socks for the first time of the race and got all the crud out. An Oregon runner (Dave) fell into lock step with me, so much I called him my "shadow". He was worried about the cutoff, and said I was pulling him along. "nothing to worry about, we'll make it". The fire road was wide and shaded, and pleasant to run on. However, where was that darn gate where the 1.7 mile descent started? Right at 1:20 I got to the gate, and I knew the cutoff was mine. Other people pounded down, but I saved my quads and got there at 1:42. Greg! was leaving as I came in.
Dave (the Oregon runner) and I started the hike back up. At first, it was fun to see the runners come down and encourage them "it's close! you can do it!". Then I started to wonder if they would make it. At 1:54, about a half mile out, a girl ran by in tears. "I'd cry too if I missed it". A runner I'd flip flopped with earlier (in compression socks like me), knew she missed it but said to me "oh good, I'm glad YOU made it". Dave had done 7(?) 100s and said if I finished Miwok, I could do a hundred.
Greg was adjusting his pack at the gate at the top of the hill, and we started walking. "8 hours to do 26 miles…we can walk this in". This was perhaps, the absolute worst or the absolute best thing for Greg to say. All motivation to "push" left me, and I walked almost all of this section. "why push? why work hard? walking is fine…" Runner, including a blond lady and her tall boyfriend, passed me as I ambled along.
Greg picked up his pacer (Brian) at Bolinas, and I stopped at the portapotty for 3 minutes, then started off the potholed half-track. This was the ugliest section of trail, with bad footing and gopher holes. I saw Greg way off in the distance and thought "well, I'm not seeing him again". As always, I was happy I knew the trail. The condition got better, and much to my shock, I was bored of walking and WANTED to run. So I did. And all of a sudden I was right behind Greg and Brian again! My opinion was that Brian was pushing Greg too hard, as he would run for 100 feet, then walk. And I was catching up to his run! I passed him. He passed me. I passed him, and he tried to keep up, but I was having too much time running. We kissed goodbye, saying "see you at Pan Toll".
I really did feel better than I should. Running felt good, and I made myself walk the uphills.
I'd mentally divided the race into the tough first 20 miles (with four tough climbs), the "Bolinas Ridge Marathon" (the 27.8 miles out and back) and then the last 15 miles on the homestretch from Pan Toll to the YMCA finish. At Pan Toll, this was the last drop bag for 14 miles. I changed into my long sleeve, refilled my pack with scoobies, and grabbed my headlamp though it was still light at 5 pm. I started down Old Mine and my iPod had technical difficulties (repeating the track information over and over and over). I gave up on that one and switched to my spare after 4 minutes and 5 people passing me, the same people I'd worked to pass on the way INTO Pan Toll.
Here was my chance to rock down Deer Park! Except--I didn't much feel like rocking. All my energy from Coastal was gone. I mustered a light jog down the downhill. I'd hoped to do well on the 3 mile flats of Redwood, but all I could think about was how sad it was when Coach Ken thought he was running fast downhill at mile 80 of Headlands 100, when I could barely NOT pass him with a slow walk. Ok, ok, a walk is okay. I decided I might be low cal and started eating a scoobie every 5 minutes instead of 10. Also, I was at mile 49 of a race--maybe I'd earned the right to be tired?
Along Redwood a guy said I was at mile 51. Cool, I'd broken my 50 mile PR, as it was roughly 12:40 then, and my prior PR was 13:23.
At Muir Beach grabbed pretzels for the next to last climb. I HAD been low cal, I felt better with more cals in me, and even ran well down past Pirates Cove on Coastal. I wanted to run all of TV road, but decided again, not to push it. I had in the back of my head that I'd like to finish in 15 hours, but I ALSO didn't want to wreck myself--I'm running Comrades Marathon (87K) in 3 weeks. I was disappointed that there wasn't a Pirate at Pirates Cove, I'd heard in other years he came out there to chat with people.
The people at TV aid station were sweet. "How are you feeling"? "About as well as can be expected for having fun almost 60 miles. And I get the fun part, you guys do the hard work!" There were only 5 miles left…I knew I could do it!!! It was harder and harder to chew, my mouth was tired. I'd bite a scoobie with my front teeth, then swallow it whole.
Running down Miwok was awesome, the sun had set but I had just enough night vision that I picked off people ahead of me by their head lamps. I remembered Greg running up to meet me with Gatorade during a training run, a sweet memory. I barreled down the hill, and crossed the stables to find…a very poorly marked trail. It was completely dark, and there were painfully few glow sticks. A guy was adjusting one, and he said he'd come to set more. "Which way do I turn on the road after the trail?" I asked "no turn, stay on the trail".
Well….I stayed on the trail, along with a woman with a brighter headlamp who caught me. We got up to the road and turned right, and went about 5 minutes, without more glow sticks. I started to get very nervous. Where was the finish? Were we going the right way? I had an hour to get to the finish, was I going to get lost in the Headlands AND MISS THE CUTOFF?? I talked the woman into turning around to find someone else, which she did. We walked the 5 minutes back, and a New Zealand dude PULLED OUT A MAP (cool) and showed us we were on the right way. I stayed with him as we went into the finish. When I saw the finish line I started to pass him, but then decided it would be tacky to beat someone who'd stopped to help me!
I was done!!! 100K BABY BABY
Things I did right:
It really, really helped me to preview the trail. I knew the trails and the terrain.
The pace chart helped me. The tough climbs were budgeted for, but I also knew when (and where) to push it.
Coach Ken helped as an impromptu crew at Pan Toll
My drop bags had everything I wanted (long sleeve, snacks, extra salt, extra iPod, headlamp)
Running back to back runs on the course gave me a good feeling of how tired legs can keep going.
Compression socks protected my calves/shin from poison oak, and gave me a cool knee high tan
Things I wish I'd done better
I didn't preview the last mile! and psyched myself out in the dark
losing an iPod (sigh, trail casualty)
haven't figured out nutrition on such a long race. If I'm moving up to 100, have to eat more than scoobies and Gatorade
Relaxed and didn't push for "a better time"--I knew I would finish under the cutoff. If I didn't have another big race in May, I would have pushed harder.