Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yet another DNF at the Mt Tam 30K

Yep, yet another DNF at the Mt Tam 30K, and one of those days when I want a do-over in general.

Stung by Yellow Jackets (#1) 
Start up from Stinson Beach on Dipsea trail, and feel a sharp pain on my left shin. I look down and a yellow jacket is still briskly stinging me. I brush it away, only to see another one stinging me further up. OWEEE….I walk though the pain up to Cardiac Hill, where Karen & Christy pour me some delicious Pepsi (no Coke).

Twist ankle (#2) 
I'm loving the beautiful descent down Ben Johnson  Trail (one of my favorite trails). Somehow, on the very easy stretch of Fern Creek Trail that I've run many times before, I hurt my ankle. I try to walk it off on the climb up Lost Trail to Panoramic Highway, but after my initial burst of endorphins, I feel worse and worse to where I can barely hobble. I decide I can't do 9 more miles and I should take the bus from Mtn Home Inn down to Stinson Beach. 

I'm Single! (#3) 
Mountain Home Inn's patio is actually a fine place to hang out and wait two hours for the next West Marin Stagecoach. I read "Tamalpais Walking", a gorgeous book with prints by Tom Killion and stories by Gary Snyder (a friend of Jack Kerouac, before he was "Jack Kerouac"). A couple is checking out the Inn as a possible venue for their wedding. Did I mention my exboyfriend is not only dating, but went on a date with a porn star? However, the bus is only $2 and gets me back to Stinson Beach. 

Glasses break (#4) 
When I'm home,  taking my glasses off to shower, the temple breaks on my glasses. Not only am I very blind without my glasses, my ankle is so bad I can't walk to the optician's two blocks away my glasses to get fixed.

Ok, so the day was very double plus ungood.

In the plus column

  • cheered on or hung out with Endurables like Ken, Karen (honorary Endurable), Susan, Rosie, Simon, James, Margaret, & Claude
  • beautiful day where I could see the Farallons and briefly ran with Eldrith Grosney, a true inspiration
  • even though I DNF'd, still had a post-race steak meal with friends 

Monday, September 24, 2012

DNF Cascades Crest 100

DNF at mile 34.5

I was sick with a cold, had an iffy knee, but I wanted to run anyway. I'm glad I started, it was a beautiful course with awesome volunteers.

The start was relatively flat along a road, then turned off onto a trail.  A guy fell through plank bridge around mile 2, but he hauled himself out and kept running.  Passing runners told me me to "take it easy to mile 68" and I perhaps too it too literally on the long climb up Goat Peak. The 6,000+ feet of altitude and my cold left me feeling woozy.  

A women came up the trail behind me, and I was happy for her company, asking "How are you doing?"  "I'm doing fine, but I'm the sweep.  How are YOU doing?".  I was stalked by sweep worrying I would get pulled at 10 mile aid station.  I was too afraid to ask if she was pulling me.  I went through an aid station and they didn't tell me to stop so I cruised down the long Forest Service Road rocking out to Paul Oakenfold with Mt Ranier so beautiful in the distance.  Even with the humiliation of getting pulled at mile 10! looming in my mind, I was still happy to be running.  

I passed a white hat runner, and was finally free of sweep around mile 17.  Then onto the PCT, and descending like a breeze through old growth forest (passing two more runners) to Tacoma Pass aid station.

My sister was waiting for me, wanting me to pose for photos, and I was feeling pressed for time and so not in a photogenic mood.  

Over the next 10 miles one of the runners caught up to me.  We both said our lungs hurt.  Gary fell into pace with me, but never passed.  I kept asking  "Do you want to pass?"  "No".  "Do you want to pass?"  "No".   I realized not only was it my sister's first 100, it was her first ultra race AND her first trail race.  What a rude introduction to be crewing grumpy, sick, time pressured me!  "I should have asked my sister to a 50K where I'd be in a better mood and willing to pose for photos". 

We passed a worn out young guy on the way to cheery kids at Snowshoe Butte aid station. My lungs ached with every breath, but when I asked Gary if I looked as bad as the worn out guy he said "NO!".  I wanted to make Stampede before dark, and started pushing as hard as I could on the downhills. Gary said "when you reach back and  press play on your iPod (in my waistband) it's go time for me to keep up with you".  

At Stampede Pass, I collapsed into a chair.  I was wheezing and it was hard to catch my breath.  My legs said go, my lungs said no.  A cute EMT said "Do you want some oxygen?  It'll pep you up!". I thought he was making a joke, but he wasn't.  I asked if taking oxygen would disqualify me, and when Rob (EMT) said no, I popped the oxygen mask on. As I got the oxygen, I started feeling more and more like myself.  Through the mask I could see Gary changing into his night gear with lights and leaving into the dark. I was still 30 minutes ahead of the cutoffs, and debating whether to continue.  Rob dialed the oxygen mask and I started coughing.  I could talk myself into going for another 5, 10 or even 14 miles, but I didn't have another 64 in me.  Charlie (aid station manager) tried to cheer me up.  I dropped.

The next day I dedicated the morning to sulking and wondering if I could have kept pushing and continued with my impromptu pacer, Gary.  Then Margo & I went to the finish line to cheer in runners and pick up my drop bags.  Gary was there, he'd dropped too!  I asked Gary "What would you have done differently"?  "Nothing, I did my best.  I've finished two hundreds (Kettle & Wasatch), and this was harder".  My sister said I'd given it all I had, but I didn't.  I had more to give, I just didn't have 100 miles.  Even at the finish line I was coughing.  

What I would do different
Not run sick (hard to solve)
Ask my crew/ (sister:) ) to be tougher on me and not let me drop unless I really had given it all I had.  
Get stronger on the uphills- need to finish a hilly 50 mile in under 12 hours

 I thought my sister would never want to crew me ever again after my laser focus on drop bags, driving on dusty forest roads, smelling stinky runners (me in particular) and suffering through my bad mood after DNF.  Surprisingly, she said "if you run a race again, am I allowed (!) to crew you?"  Of course!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Squamish 50 DNF

DNF, mile 42.  

There, I got it out of the way.  I got pulled at mile 42, as I was ~12:20 into the race, with 8 miles to go to a 14 hour time limit.  I like reading other peoples DNF race reports for lessons learned, so here's what I attribute mine to… not making a pace chart/ understanding the course, bad knee, hot weather, and (very minor) aid stations time longer than expected, not knowing aid station nutrition.

Regrets:  Not enjoying the beauty of the course more, not saying "thanks" to more volunteers.  

Start:  We gathered at 6:15 AM at Squamish Oceanfront for the inaugural Squamish 50, a "reboot" of the Stormy 50 Mile.  Same general area, but a different course.  Gary Robbins paid tribute to the old race as it's founder stripped off multiple shirts dating back to 2001.  Gary said "follow the pink ribbons.  The other ribbons are not the course.  And a white ribbon is LAVA.  Don't cross.  And we've extended the cutoff at Quest University (mile 26) from 1 pm to 2:15 pm, with a hard stop of exiting at 2:30".

10K:  And then we were off, weaving through the flatlands for 10K.  The course was well marked and very flat.  I had a brand new Paul Oakenfold Essential Mix to amuse me. I rambled along at around 11 minutes  a mile, thinking how easy and non-technical this was (ominous foreboding sounds cued).  The course had ~10K feet of elevation, and the first 12% had maybe 500 feet.  Which meant all the elevation was still to come.  While I stopped to adjust my pack (a scoobie pack had fallen out) a female runner with bells on her pack passed me.  Bells?  that would annoy the crap out of me to run with bells for 50 miles! (cue more foreboding)

16.5K:  I turned off the road into trail.  It quickly became rolling and rooty.  As I walked one small uphill, I saw a break in the woods to the river.  In it the break was a hairy hindquarter of an animal that was about bear sized. Oh #$@.  It wasn't just bear sized, it was a bear.  That's why the girl had bells on her pack.  To scare off bells.  I kept running.  (You're reading this, so there was no further bear incidents).  I had much more respect for her wearing bells.  The course split, with one arrow pointing left and one straight.  I turned left and climbed, climbed, climbed to a radio tower where a friendly couple offered me water and said "2 miles all downhill".

20K:  It was not in fact all downhill. I cued my downhill music, but instead it was more technical ups and downs, followed by some relatively flat.  I worried I was off-course, and worried more when suddenly faster runners were whizzing past me.  Had I CUT THE COURSE??  When I arrived to the aid station I learned I was on course.  I was about to do a 5K loop that would run back over the last part I'd just run.  I tried to fill my pack as quickly as possible, but the big cooler seemed to run so slow.  I wished for a liter pitcher which would fill my pack in a flash. 

to 25K:  a fun loop up through the trees.  At one point, my trail paralleled another trail, and I saw another racer, roughly parallel to me.  Was I off course?  No, there was a white ribbon between us.  he was ahead of me by ?? many miles.  So then I stayed  back down to the same aid station.  I was concerned to see the aid station had been partly dismantled, it's awning down and less volunteers.  Uhoh.  I was back of the pack.  

to 30K: I set out strongly for the next station.  Around one lake, then another called "Edith Lake".  I popped out at the next aid station, just as a mess of 4 relay runners finished behind me.  "You're in the wrong place" the aid station volunteers said to the runners behind me.  I asked the aid station volunteers to verify my course direction.  "You've been running at a good pace, you should make sure you go the right way", said a guy sitting at the station.   A sign said "5 miles to next aid station"

to 42K: It was not, in fact, 5 miles to the next aid station.  A fact I only verified after the race.  The runner from the last station caught up with me.  He was running the relay, and his wife had gotten lost for 2+ hours!  Peter said "You have a calm and steady'll finish!"  The two animals on the course were cougars and bears, and I said I'd rather be a cougar.  "A cougar…really?"  Which reminded me of a friend of a friend who was on (yes it's a real site) and said she was 36 instead of 46.  It's dateacougar!  it's okay to be older!

In this section I went by the white ribbon I'd seen on the way to 25K.  If I'd stepped over the one, I would have shaved ~10+K!
This section seemed to last forever, as I kept expecting the aid station to be around the corner.  My knee hurt, and I debated dropping at Quest University.  If I dropped, I could have the whole afternoon to…to what?  There was nothing I'd rather do than be on the trail!  I decided that bad knee and all, I'd rather be out on single track than sitting around watching Olympics.  A long section of technical single track, where I passed another runner.  Finally I popped out at what I thought MUST be the aid station.  Nope, it was a road.  A volunteer said "2 more miles to the aid".  2 more mile???  I'd been out for 2 hours since the last aid station!  Finally I arrived to Quest University at 1:23 pm.  I had to make up time on the 10 mile loop--easy peasy, right? I grabbed new Scoobies and set off.  

to 45K: A climb up on a paved road, than a gravel road.  A quick relay runner easily passed me.  I turned off into a trail.  The faster runners were doing this section as part of a second loop.  I turned a corner, and saw a runner bent over, reapplying Body Glide.  Two guys (and a gorilla) were at the aid station.  They refilled my pack with what I'd thought was Gu2.  Nope!  It was Heed.  My stomach felt sour.  

to 58K:  I climbed and climbed up a forest road, then up single track. I saw the white ribbon dividing, and I knew I would come back down this hill.   Finally at the top, ready for a nice downhill.  More and more technical trails, all helpfully flagged with their mountain biking difficulty "Most Difficult".  Never a smooth stretch where I could let loose.  My knee kept me from going as fast as I wanted to go on the rooty single track. 

to 60K: Back at Quest, it was 5:20.  It wasn't looking good for me finishing.  Ken (an Alaskan campmate) and everyone else was being picked up at a van to drive back to the camp.  The sun was still bright.  I wasn't ready to give up.  I would go down fighting.  Back down the road again, back to the Gorilla Aid Station, trying to make up as much time as I could.  The hill I'd walked before I ran now.  

63K:  I ran the loop as fast as I could, but when I got to the aid, it was 5:40.  I had 17k to go and 90 minutes.  I didn't mind finishing after the cutoff.  I wanted to do my 50 miles!  But though it was still sunny, it would get dark sooner in the trees.  The Gorilla Guys had been told to pull me, unless "I knew the course well".  I didn't know the course well.  I didn't want people worrying about me out in the dark.  So I DNF'd.

The Gorilla Guys gave me a ride back--it turned out that Mike & Ran (their actual names) had been on Ellie Greenwood's crew with Coach Ken.  And knew Pano from Alaska Running Camp.  Small world!  

Things to improve on:
1) Poor planning leads to poor execution.  I didn't do a pace chart or write down aid stations.  I didn't have a clear idea of where they were, or how I was doing.  I had undue stress. 
2) Lay out my race outfit AT HOME.  The night before I realized I hadn't brought a sports bra!  Luckily there was a Walmart by my hotel.
3) I wish I'd spent more time to enjoy the scenery and the day.
4) Being nicer to volunteers, even when frustrated with looping course.
5) Don't drink Heed during races.

Things I did well:
1) New Oakie tracks on iPod
2) Kept going as far as I could
3) Plenty of S-Caps

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Countdown to Squamish 50

I'm running Squamish 50 in 4 days!

My first Canadian race!

Of note from the Racer Updates

  1. "We will have two points during our race where a train can potentially cut you off. You're welcome to play chicken with them but our insurance won't cover you if you lose." 
  2. "Two animals to be aware of in Squamish are black bears and cougars. "
  3. "Here's the funny thing though, our course was actually 52 miles long. More Miles = More Fun RIGHT! SO, now you're only running 51miles. "
It's been cool and foggy here in San Francisco.  Sunday morning when I ran in Muir Woods, it was 59.  Great training for cool British Columbia, right?  WRONG.  The high in Squamish is 82!  

The race course looks beautiful and I hope my knee is up to the challenge.  Cascades Crest is right behind.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile

June 30, 2012
50(??  Jim miles), 
12 hours, 52 minutes

Marin Ultra Challenge 50 was just like starting a training run, except for more people, and a number to pin on.  I got to Rodeo Beach at 5:30 and got my number, dropped my drop bag, and realized I couldn't find my socks.  Oops!  I grabbed the pair out of my drop bag.  Jim Vernon gave a course overview.  As we lined up in the gray mist I recognized Donald whose blog I read.  The camera must add 20 pounds, as in person he's very lean.  

Rodeo Beach > Coastal > SCA> Rodeo Valley Lollipop 1:48 (8.2 miles)

The gray mist stayed with us as we left the beach.  I was right with the pack on Bunker Road and up Coastal Trail.  Then I started walking the hill, and quickly everyone faded into the distance.  I heard a patter of feet.  Eldrith!  I told her Congrats! on her Ultra Running Performance of the year at Headlands 100 last year.  I'd seen her at races but this was the first time I said anything.  What a sweet lady, and what an inspiration.  She wanted to run up the hill, and there I was, dropped by a 70 year old.  I didn't feel like pushing the pace.  At SCA Jim was there, but no time to talk to him.  In the descent back to Rodeo Beach I thought I would pass a few people on the descent, but noone was even in sight.  

Rodeo Beach > Wolf Ridge >Old Springs to Tennesee Valley 1:01 (4.1 miles)

I'd left my car right by the aid station for a strategic personal aid station.  I changed from my long sleeve to short sleeve and applied body glide.  Did this section as I'd done so many times on training runs--the hike up Hill 88, rollers on Wolf Ridge, then the long smooth descent into TV.  Again, noone in sight.  

Miwok > Dias > Muir Beach 1:29 (6)

The fog was still fairly thick, but I could see the turn clearly labeled to go on Miwok (the long way) instead of Miwok cutoff (the shorter way).  The map had said Miwok cutoff. Jim had said Miwok cutoff.  But the ribbons said Miwok (the long way).  I thought about going on cutoff.  But I begrudgingly went the long way.  I had hoped to break 12 hours, and I thought the quarter mile extra would throw me off.  On Miwok I started to feel good and pressed the pace.  I passed a guy! and cruised into Muir Beach.  The aid station was a little back from the road, adding an extra .1 mile in out and back.  Karen was there!  

Redwood Creek> Heather Cutoff> Coastal Trail to Cardiac Aid Station 1:25 (4.5)

The sun had started to break free, and it was starting to get hot.  I ran Redwood, hiked Heather, and ran Coastal where it started to flatten out as it climbed 1,300 feet.  Still, I was  off my 12 hour splits. 

Dipsea > Stinson Beach 51:39 (3.7)

After the endless set of steps on Dipsea, I started to open up on the descent to Stinson Beach.  I passed another guy!  I thought the aid station would be right at Stinson Beach, but it was at the Willow Pass Trail intersection, as far up as it could be.  I was beginning to fear I'd missed it.  Thierry (another Endurable) saw me walking up the road and had my drop bag out neatly waiting for me.  I grabbed new scoobies and applied more Body Glide.  They said there was a "mini-pack" about 5 minutes ahead of me.  When I looked up, I could see them on the slopes above. 

Willow Pass Trail> Coastal > Matt Davis > Cardiac aid station 1:42 (5.5)

Willow Pass is a steep uphill climb of ~1,800 feet in under 2 miles.  Nothing to do but do it.  The day had gotten hot, so I was grateful for the shade higher up when we got into the trees.  Out of nowhere, Jim Vernon appeared to take my picture!  He walked with me a little.  Talking to him & Eldrith were the two highlights of non-aid station sociability.  Looking at my splits, this is where 12 hours slipped definitively out of reach.  I'd budgeted 1:28 for this section, and I took 14 minutes more.  I did start running once I hit Coastal (at a good pace) and passed Eldrith and ~3 other runners.   I felt good!  I felt I was in the mix!  There was ~20 miles left and I felt ready for it.  

Cardiac> Ben Johnson> Fern Creek> Lost> Going to the Sun > Dipsea> Deer Park 2:15 (8.8) 

Where time and space lose all meaning, on the longest section between aid stations.  I filled to the brim at Cardiac.  I didn't bomb down Ben Johnson, but I kept a steady downhill pace.  Muir Woods was jam packed with tourists.  Sometimes this was great, when they cheered for me!!!  Sometimes not so great, when I said "Excuse me" on Lost Trail and a hiker very slowly kept walking in front of me, blocking the trail.

When I turned to go up Fern Creek I saw a fellow runner climbing over a tree! to get to closed Alice Eastwood trail (off course!) I yelled at him to get back on course.  He was very grateful.  As we were climbing Lost, another runner wearing five finger shoes caught up with us--he'd taken the same wrong turn before he finally figured out the "closed trail" signs meant CLOSED.  The wrong-way runner was coated in clothing--a Death Valley style hat with a veil and arm covers.  I let him pass me, but then I kept him in sight and passed on Dipsea into Old Inn. I was planning to get water at Old Inn, but two runners were filling their hydration packs there.  I didn't want to wait.  

As I climbed Dipsea to Deer Park, an anxious woman asked "Did you see a runner with a blue shirt and a pack"  Me "That's like every runner!"  The crazy hat dude caught up with me there--she was looking for him.  With all his distinctive clothing, she asked for a guy with a blue shirt?  She narrated the course to him "After a steep climb up Dipsea, there's a scorching descent on Deer Park".  him "I don't feel up to a scorching descent".  But I did!  I said BYE and jetted down Deer Park.

Redwood Creek Trail was as overgrown as I'd remembered.  I was nervous about water, even though I had plenty.  Constant forward motion…except for when I got caught behind two horse back riders.  I was stuck behind them until they turned to go across the stream (horses can't use the rickety wood bridges).  I would look back and see them gaining on me again, and I picked up my speed.  Finally I was at Muir Beach. 

Coastal Trail over Pirates Cove > Tennessee Valley 1:14 (4.3)

I arrived at Muir Beach at ~4:45, and I knew a 12 hour finish was out of reach with 8.5 tough miles to go. The volunteers said the closest runner was "5-10 minutes ahead of me".  Knowing I wouldn't break 12 hours, I decided to not kill myself.  The 50 wasn't my goal--Cascades 100 in August is my goal.  I need to be in shape to keep training, not take 3 weeks off after wrecking myself.   The wheels didn't come off, but I wasn't flying through this section.  In fact, climbing Pirates Cove, a hiker passed me convincingly.  Once I got to the top I thought "just like in training".  I was proud I ran all the way into TV.  The aid station workers were ringing cowbells, and I said "More cowbell!  More cowbell!"  

TV> Old Springs> Wolf Ridge> Coastal 1:03 (4.2)

As I started up Old Springs, I could hear the cowbells ringing for a runner behind me.  This put a spring in my step.  I even ran part of the up in Old Springs.  It was a repeat of the finish of Headlands 100 where I'd dropped after 50, right down to the thick pea soup fog.  I was glad it was still daylight, so I could make out the trail.  About 1/2 mile from the finish, Pon (from the Endurables) passed me like a rocket.  I tried to hang but I couldn't.  And then there was the finish line, with Karen & Ken!  I sprinted for the line in 12:52.  And I got a finishers pint glass!  I cheered Eldrith on as she finished--she's incredible!  And I discovered from the finishers list there was a woman 3 minutes ahead of me, who I hadn't seen in the thick fog.  If I'd seen someone so close on the descent, I would have tried to pass her.  

Things I did well

  • Packed my bag the night before
  • Previewed the course on my own so I knew every turn
  • Said thank you to the aid station volunteers
  • Body Glide
  • S-Caps every half hour, never cramped
  • Constant nutrition supply
  • Introduced myself to Eldrith!

Things to improve on

  • I didn't break 12 hours, but this was a training race for Cascades.  Could I have?  I could have gotten below 12:30 if I'd pushed more.  12 hours? unsure.  
  • Ran out of Scoobies into Stinson Beach-carry a backup pack.
  • Didn't have the right music on my iPad, used my iPhone for last section.

Thoughts on Marin 50

The volunteers were so nice and supportive.  
Course was overall well marked, but I never really looked for markings.
The race shirt was a disappointment, just the ITR logo and the name of the race.  I'd like a pretty design, please!  However, the pint glass is very cool and looks great on my race coasters.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inside Trail Marin 50 Course Preview

Jim Vernon did an awesome course preview of the Marin 50 trail run on June 30

I have run every inch of the trail :) in the last few months. My thoughts:

1) Is the course short? According to the Elevation chart it's 48.9 miles.  However, the section from Pan Toll up and around the tourist club and back to Muir Beach seems longer than 10 miles.  Also, the Dipsea Trail section that's been washed out for years (above Old Inn) has reopened.  Doing that section on Dipsea trail vs on road adds distance.  I think the course is at least 50 miles, if not a little over.  

2) Heather Cutoff is overgrown with Poison Oak (as usual). Redwood Creek was in the worse shape I'd ever seen it with overgrowth, and also full of Poison Oak.  

3) The Aid Stations are at least 7 miles apart, and they are all healthy "Jim" 7 miles with big climbs.  I'm planning on carrying my 2-L pack.

Random bathrooms and water fountains besides the Aid Stations
Conzelman road, outhouse
Port-a-Potty and hose with running water, right before Heather Cutoff
Hose at Zen Center (about 1/5 mile in from gate) at Muir Beach
Pan Toll (water, flush toilets)
Stinson Beach (deli)
Muir Woods before Fern Creek (water fountain)
Muir Woods after Dipsea (water fountain)
Port-a-Potty on fire road into TV

Why I think I'll do well?
I know the course extremely thoroughly, and have run all of it in the last month.
Training has gone well. I'm running hills (Coastal up to SCA) that I used to always walk.

Why am I nervous?
14K in climbing...gulp.
Weather in June could be quite warm in Marin (90s).  
No posted cutoffs--when are the aid stations closing

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 5: Of mud & zip

I wanted to squeeze one more run in, so in the morning I tried to run Petersen Creek Trail.  I ran on Glacier Highway about 3/4 mile to the trailhead.  The trail started up on gravel, then transitioned to planks covered with roofing shingles.  Then just to slick planks.  Then to mud up over my shins.  Then to mud up on my calves.  I realized the mud was just going to get thicker, and transition to snow.  I turned around.

I helped close up the cabin, then the remaining campers (Will, Cameron, Jim) and our counselors (:-) and John went to the airport for Will to get a car, then to return a van.  We had a final lunch.  Cameron is an eager kid, prone to asking questions like "what's it like to have a pacer?"  "What's the best 50 mile race?"  "What race has terrain like this"? 

I rushed downtown to do the Juneau zipline tour.  After being the only girl camper with 7 trail runners, on the zip tour I was…the only girl with 5 guys on a bachelor party weekend!!  Why Juneau?  The bachelor was scared of flying, so they'd taken the ferry from Skagway.  Sigh. 

A delicious crab supper at Tracy's Crab Shack on the water, and now enjoying the sunset, the first I've seen in Juneau.  I wish the weather had been like this for our fish bake yesterday.  I've also checked out my bruises.  No wonder my butt hurts, there's a huge purple area from where I fell on day 3. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 4: Anti-Climbatic

The "A-Team" of the fastest, un-injured guys did a ~14 mile loop up Mount Roberts, put on snow-shoes to cover the high ridges, and then down Perservance.  At the start, Corle spotted a mountain goat, high up the slopes of snow-speckledd Mt Juneau. 


I hiked up Mt Roberts (~2.5 miles) to the tram station from town, where snow had overwhelmed the mud.  Corle had waited for me, and we set up an insane slope straight up snow to a cross.  The slope was very steep, so I traversed over to what I thought was the trail, behind a rope.  When I got close to the trail, I realized it was actually an avalance warning sign for the area I was IN.  I punched my hands in and spider monkey'ed up the slope, with Corle encouraging me.  Once I looked down.  Big mistake.  Big.  When I got to where Corle was, I realized there was a much easier path we could have taken through the snow on the left.  Oops. 

Corle & I had a nice sandwich lunch over Juneau, looking at the bald eagles soaring.  I realized that though I'll tolerate snow hiking, I don't enjoy it.  So we descended back down, then Corle left to buy fish for supper.

I  still felt good (though not fond of snow) so did a ~5 mile out and back on Perservance trail.  Geoff had said to be back at the van by 4 pm, so I booked back, arriving right at 4:01 pm.  Everyone was already there, and Geoff said "See?  I told you she speeds at the end!"

We had a SouthEastern Alaska fish bake.  Corle cut up a 11 pound salmon into steaks, and we BBQ'ed  at the beach in a steady drizzle.  The owners of Rainbow foods and their daughter joined us.  The food was outstanding, and I got to set the fire. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 3 of Alaska Ultra Running Camp: Thriving

My favorite day so far, an easy 8 miles. Today was a "rest" day where we were doing an easy 3.5 miles to Windfall Lake Cabin.  Of course, Geoff parked the van about a half mile back so we'd get an extra mile in. 

The trail was relatively flat and groomed, with occasional views of a snow capped peaks.  There were some rooty patches, but nothing compared to yesterday. Geoff ran with me a little, and he said yesterday's trail was amongst the most sustained technical trails he knew of, with miles of roots and rocks.  He said even HURT wasn't so sustained.  Today, there were also long sections of planks, which were slightly slick from the rain and I was careful as my butt still hurt from yesterday's spill.  The ground was soft and moist, so unlike the hardpack of Marin County.

I took the .2 mile turnoff for Windfall Cabin, but when I got to the cabin, I didn't see anyone.  Had I misheard?  Were we NOT going to the cabin?  I called out a little, then decided to turn back.  Right when I got to the junction, the group caught back up with me.  They had been IN the cabin. 

The run back went by very quickly, and when it started to rain harder I ran in even faster.  My purple jacket is fine in a mist, but I was getting cold & wet.  Geoff came back to run the last mile in with me, and we had a a sprint finish (guess who won).  Everyone was huddled from the rain. 

I got a great massage from John, a local who'd run Miwok it's first year, and Western States three times!  Now we have two hours of "in town" time, where I'm posting blog entries & catching up on my internet. 

Tomorrow's run is supposed to be epic, the longest yet!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 2 of Alaska Ultra Running Camp: Surviving

Today was a much better day and I'm glad I came.  Because the weather was rain, we did an out and back along the coast.  We drove to the end of the road (literally), then Geoff said it was 9 miles out to Bishop Point.  If we didn't make the point, he said to turn around at two hours.  There was only one trail, hugging the coast all the way to the end.  Except for one turn, where a side trail went down to a beach camp.

Almost immediately again everyone was out of sight, but I felt much less pressure than yesterday. All I had to do was run two hours, then turn around.  The trail was well groomed for about 1/5 mile, then became very rocky.  And rooty. Roots and rocks, roots and rocks.  I took off my jacket and was running in shorts, t-shirt and compression socks.

On my right was filtered views of the water & mountains through the evergreens.  On the left were occasional gorgeous waterfalls.  The trail was constantly changing elevation, but never too steep.  Geoff came back to make sure I made the turn-off.  Right than Will staggered into view saying "where is Everyone?"  He'd taken the wrong turn down to the beach and seen a "HUGE BEAR". Will & Geoff took off, and I was again on my own.

After the roots and rocks, there was a section of slippery planks over deep mud, interspersed with downed trees to climb over.  The two hours went by very quickly.  Around 1:30, the trail started opening up to more needles and more runnable, so I actually went till 2:07 when my set ended.  I'd packed a turkey, swiss, avocado wrap, and I ate as I started back.

On the way back it started to rain, but not hard enough to be bothersome.  The faster guys passed me. Jim was filthy.  His shoe had been literally been sucked off his foot in a deep mud-hole, and he'd had to dig it out by hand. I'd just wiped out on a plank and sat down hard on my who-sis when two more campers passed me.  I sprinted to the end at 4:08, a negative split, and not last (two finished after me!). 

Things I did well:
Experimented with eating.  I took a wrap & baby Bell to eat on the run. Both stayed down with no stomach issues.

Experimented with my new pack.  My hydrapak E lite is great, but for Cascade 100 I want more space for a jacket & headlamp.  I carried my new Ultraspire Surge, which worked out great--I could carry my jacket, baby Bell, wrap, Scoobies. 

Traveled at my own pace & enjoyed the day. 

Things to do better:
Didn't apply BodyGlide, so some minor arm chafe. 

Will saw a HUGE whale (big even in his photo) and I didn't see the whale!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 1 of Alaska Running Camp- What am I doing here??

"Run of medium length, 2-4 hours".  Perhaps I got over confident when I saw the first day description on the itinerary Geoff mailed out.  After a delicious breakfast of eggs & bacon (I heart bacon), we drove to the start at Skaters Cabin.  Two local Juneau friends of Geoff (Houston & Brian) met us, and questioned why we were parked "3 miles from the start".

About two miles of paved road, by an Archery Range (for Handicap), and an Indoor range.  I was (basically) with the guys, as we ran at a light jog.  Then onto a dirt road for another mile-ish, where snow started to cover part of the road.  I fell a little behind.  I slipped on the snow and tried to steady myself with a plant.  OUCH!  It was a prickly plant with thorns.  In trying to brush the thorns out, I drove it deeper into my finger. 

Then about a mile on a trail that Geoff said was well maintained when he moved here four years ago.  Now, it was full of blown down trees & erosion.  I could no longer see anyone ahead of me.  Then I found them, all stopped.  We were going straight up hill, on a trail so steep the first part had a rope to help haul up. 

The next part was extremely humbling.  We scrambled up around 1,500 feet, straight up in the mud.  There wasn't really a trail, just a series of blazes.  Almost everyone was completely out of sight.  Geoff Roes & Will hung back a little, to keep an eye on me.  About every 5 minutes they'd stop and I'd scramble up.  Then they'd disappear out of sight again.  I'm in decent shape, and have spent much time on trails.  But I just couldn't keep up. Everytime I tried to push my pace, I'd slip on the mud and come near a face plant.  I kept looking forward to the snow section.

The snow section was even more humbling.  It was an Artic StairMaster.  Brian, the local, had switched off to sweep me.  The slope was just as steep as before, but now there was slick snow and trees with trecherous tree holes to contend with.  Brian kicked steps in the snow, and I followed. 

I kept looking forward to the next section on the ridge, as I thought it would flatten out.  It flattened out, but here the snow wasn't consolidated, it was an icy loose six inches.  My feet were soaked and cold. I wasn't having much fun. I felt bad for Brian, who was stuck taking care of me. 

We came out to an open area at 2:24 hours and I liked the view.  My fear had come true--I was totally at the end of the group.  Brian pointed the group out, high on the ridge and looping around.  At this point, I had very little motivation to follow them up the ridge.  I was at least an hour behind them, my feet were cold, and I wimped out.  Houston & his dog Molly were going back down, and I joined them.

 As I went down, I started having more and more fun.  I looked forward to the solid snow as my feet starting warming up.  Then the mud was fun.  Molly (the dog) was fearless!  Houston & I talked about his business plan for "dog running".  Then Geoff caught up with me and we chatted.  The trail that had seemed tough before with it's blowdowns suddenly seemed runnable.  Finally I hit the road, and cruised into finish at 5:05. 

Not dead yet, though definitely humbled.  I can hear Corle & Geoff cooking supper.  They met when Geoff was a cook & Corle a baker, so the food is darn good.  Now that I know I can't keep up, I wonder how the next three runs will be.  But I'm glad I came.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just Edie in Alaska

Geoff Roes running camp looked like the kick in the pants I needed for my 100 mile in August.  It started Memorial Day, so the timing was perfect.  One small issue--the camp was labeled as for "experienced".  I wrote Geoff with my races & times. He wrote back and said if I could run for 3-5 hours with minimal breaks, I could do it.  Great! 

Geoff sent out the final instructions a week before camp, cc'ing everyone else who is attending.  Huh.  All these names look like guys.  I looked up a few on UltraSignup.  Huh.  All these names look like FAST guys.  Well, I'll still have fun and see some beautiful scenery, even if I will be the slow girl at the back of the pack. 

Getting to Alaska:  I used my American miles to fly Alaska Airlines (to Alaska!).  The times weren't quite what I wanted, and I'm flying back to Oakland, not SFO. However, 50K miles vs ~$800 in airfare ?  great!  As there was no economy tickets, I got first class.  Unfortunately, I spilled red wine on my one warm running jacket during the flight.  I changed clothes at the airport as otherwise I was worried they wouldn't rent me a car!

Sight seeing:  On Sautrday, I flew into Anchorage and drove down to Girdwood (about 40 miles south).  I misread the sunset on my iPhone and thought it was 8:22 pm (SF sunset).  No, the sunsets at 11:04 pm!  On Sunday,  I'm driving around for some brisk day hikes.  The rental car guy upsold me to a Jeep Patriot, and I'm having fun!  I originally was going to take the train, but the car gives me more flexibility to go on my own hikes. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ohlone 50K race report

Rules for Ohlone 50K
1) Don't miss the bus.
2) Don't miss the cutoff.
3) Remember the race is "more ups than down". 

I got to the Lake Del Valle parking lot at 6:10 AM for the 6:30 AM bus to the start.  I even got there before the busses!  Should I have cut it closer?  That's why I missed the bus two years ago!  Kevin Luu (another Endurable) and I caught up on our racing plans on the bus ride to Fremont.

Start to Laurel Loop (mile 5.43)
Two years ago, I had been DFL on the climb up Mission Peak.  Now I improved upon my position.  I was SECOND from DFL.  I thought I was climbing at a brisk rate, but everyone quickly became colored specks on the grassy hillside.  There was one 50ish runner behind me, and we exchanged encouraging smiles.

Oops 1)  I accidentally stepped in a cow patty (does one deliberately step in a cow patty)? 
Oops 2) In a huge puddle I stepped wrong and sunk my foot up to my shin in cow water/mud/muck. 

It was a beautiful day for the views, and I was soon up to the top and cruising down.  I passed a woman who I remember passing two years ago in a similar spot.  But now I knew it was Carol LaPlant, who'd WON the race 25 years ago. 

Oops 3) My hydrapak was catching my neck wrong, and I tried to adjust it while running.  I stepped on a gopher hole and fell down hard on my left side.  Hard enough that my shorts scootched down and I got brambles on my hip.  Ow!

Sunol (mile 9.11)
The aid station had the first cutoff at 10:45.  I picked up my speed on the descent and passed about 5 runners, including George Hall.  George Hall had #1 bib! as he was #2 in the inaugural 1987 Ohlone.  So I'm definitely faster than two 60 year olds.  Way to go Speedie! 
I was using my iPhone as my music source, and my headphones kept ghost-pausing my music.  I'd noticed this the last time I'd gone on a 2+ hour run--moisture got inside the contact, causing the iPhone to pause or skip tracks.  I spent too much time fussing with my iPhone trying to get reliable tunes.  I made it into the aid station at ~10:20, with time to spare.

Backpack (mile 12.48).
Now the climb started.  I treated myself to an outhouse break, then doused my head with water from an unpotable water source.  The day was getting really warm, in the low 80s (hot for the Bay Area) and direct sun.  I kept passing people though, even at my moderate speed. 

Goat Rock (14.96)
These 2.5 miles seemed to take forever.  I ran out of water about 20 minutes away from the Aid station.  When I got to the aid station, they said they were running low on all fluids, and only gave me 20 ounces for my pack.  In the good news! Melissa & Todd were at the aid station, resting in the shade.  They'd taken the early start! Oh, maybe THAT'S why I was at the back starting--slower people had taken the 7 AM start and gotten an hour jump. 

to Maggies Half Acre (19.7)

Melissa and I hiked together for awhile on the climb to Rose Peak.  She was not doing great, and finally stopped to bring down her heart rate. 

I was really, really thirsty. It was ~5 miles and a stiff climb.  I was so happy to see the tent for Maggies Half Acre, with "UNLIMITED" water, as they had a faucet.  I drank until my belly was jiggly.  Then I let a guy sponge my head.  It all felt sooo good. 

to Stewarts Camp  (23.6) This section has more up than I remember.  The "aid" was a non-potable faucet. About four of us came in all at once.  I dunked my head under the faucet (again).  After watching me do it, a guy did it too, muttering "Thank God, Thank God".  Yep, it was that hot. 

To Schleiper Rock (25.65) I continued to pass people.  I didn't think I was climbing any faster than I had at the beginning of the day--everyone else was slowing down.  Once again I pondered why people go out so darn fast?  I kinda like starting in DFL--I know exactly where I am in the pack, and I can only improve! I bombed down the hill into aid station.

To Stromer Spring- An overgrown single track switchbacking down the canyon, choked with vegetation and poison oak.  A group of 5 in a pack came up on me.  I tried to stay ahead, but it was too stressful so I stepped off and let them pass.  Down to the creek, then back up.  Everyone was moving slowly up the hill, when I realized that I felt GREAT.  I marched past them!  "Good job, young lady" said a guy in a QuickSilver T-Shirt.  "Thanks for calling me young lady!" 

At the top of the hill on the ridge, I started running again. I wasn't hammering it, but I told myself anything faster than walking was good.  Last time I had wanted to run this section and now I was!

To the finish.  The last 2 miles are a near constant descent losing 1,600 feet in 2 miles.  Steep, and not what my quads wanted.  On Wednesday I'd done mile repeats with Lane & Charles in the Presidio.  At about a mile, I decided to do a mile repeat, and picture Lane & Charles waiting for me.  I cranked the music and cruised into a 8:44 finish, 11 minutes faster than two years ago.

Things I did well:
Left plenty of time to make the start
Carried a pack instead of a bottle to stay better hydrated
Ate pizza for breakfast so didn't bonk
Caught up with Melissa
S-Caps every 30 minutes so never cramped up
Said thank you to the volunteers
Wiped down with Technu at home

Things to improve on:
iPhone not good choice for long races, spent too much time fussing with it. 
Make sure pack is full! of fluid on hot days, don't rely on the next aid station being there.
Should have worn compression knee high socks to protect from poison oak and other plants brushing legs
Forgot clothes to change into, so had to drive back in sweat soggy shorts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Strength & Speed Workouts with the Endurables

In my quest to run Cascades 100, I signed up for the Endurables 6:30 evening  Monday (strength) and Wednesday (speed) workout.  Every week I basically don't want to go. 

-it's a hassle to get all the way up to Marina Green.  If I run, it's about 37 minutes.  If I take the bus, it's about 40-50 minutes (one way)
- I had a string of 3 workouts where I arrived at 6:35 and the group was nowhere to be found.
- noone wants to do a situp, plank, or wind sprints.

However, every time when I do get up there and find the group, I'm so happy I went.
- Marina is ridiculously scenic. 
- I'd never do a plank by myself, but I feel better for doing them
-it's only an hour workout and I feel so proud afterwards
-I like hearing about other peoples races and runs
-I treat myself and eat at at a place I normally wouldn't trek to, like Presidio Social Club or SPQR
-the Marina is RIDICULOUSLY scenic.  Where else could I do planks staring at Alcatraz, wind sprints looking at the fog on the Golden Gate, or situps facing the Palace of Fine Arts?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diablo Trail Challenge Half Marathon

Diablo Half Marathon
Distance: ~13.4 miles
Time: 3:10
7/18 for age group, 
Weather: 90 F

I'd originally planned to do the point to point Diablo 50K, as the course looked very interesting on new to me trails, and I'd heard that Brazen puts on great trail races that were "just like road races!".  When the forecast soared to the high 80s, I second-guessed myself.  Diablo is exposed and sunny, and the warmest it gets in San Francisco is usually 67.  I decided against a suffer-fest and that I'd drop down and do the loop half marathon.  

I left plenty of time to get to the start, and needed it as I confused Walnut Blvd (first turn) vs Walnut Ave (second, correct turn).

Walking to the shuttle from the parking lot to the start, I saw Ken Brunt, a fellow Endurable.  He'd also signed up last minute as a shakedown run before Miwok 100K in two weeks.  Also on the 5 minute shuttle bus was a confused father with his son in a baseball uniform.  They were looking for a Baseball Photo!  Somehow they'd followed all the other runners and just got on the bus.

Brazen was like a road race--rock music blaring at the start, and even D-tags for "official chip timing".  I started off mid-pack.  But in the first downhill a half mile in, I'd filled my Hydrapak with water almost all the way up, it bounced out of my pack.  I lost about 90 seconds trying to stuff it back in. 

We crossed about 5 streams, with me delicately avoiding the wet.  Then we veered in a "mini-loop", hitting the first and second aid stations at ~one mile and 3 miles in. At the 3 mile aid station, I asked for "coke or pepsi".  They said they "might have some back at the car, if I wanted to wait.".  "Nah", and I walked out. A ranger hurried after me to ask "Are you diabetic?"  "What??" "Do you need the Coke because you're diabetic?"  "no, I just like caffiene!".  

 Then we started the big loop, and the hurting began.  I hadn't looked at the elevation chart for the half marathon, as I'd planned to do the 50K.  We climbed to me, an interminably long way, when I started to be concerned we would actually summit Mount Diablo.  Nope, only up to 1,965 feet.  Mt Diablo is  3,848 feet.  

There were beautiful views down to the wealthy estates below us, the grass was green, but it was really, really hot.  I was happy I'd dropped in distance. I contemplated that the name of the race was "Diablo Trail Challenge" and not the "Bay Breeze".  There were no breezes today! I concentrated on just walking forward, and managed to pass about 5-8 walkers. I drank all the water in my Hydrapak right before we hit the aid station at mile 9. 

Then, a delightful downhill back to the finish, where I managed to pass about 10 people.  I wanted to drop the hammer, but it was just so hot.  Even at a plodding pace I was passing people, including a guy I recognized from other races-he always runs in jean shorts, like he's in an old Western States Documentary.  The streams I'd avoided before I now splashed through, trying to wet as much surface area on me as possible.  

I crossed the finish line and got a HUGE medal.  I ate an It's It sandwich while I watched the people behind me finish.  There was an announcer! for their names and hometowns.  

Things I did well:

  • Carried pack instead of bottle
  • Took hot day conservatively
  • Left extra time to get to start so not stressed about getting lost, shuttle time
  • Dropped to a shorter distance--Mike Weston ran the whole 50K and said it was "brutal".  I usually finish around him, and it took him 9:14.  ouch!!  127 starters, 109 finishers, which is a high DNF (15%) considering the ultra-generous 10 hour time limit.  They kept the finish line open till 10:46.  So only 104 (82%) below the official finish.  It was nice of them to keep the finish line open.  
  • Remembered the name of the Jeans Guy (George) and looked him up later.  He ran Western States in '82!!  Wow!!!

Things to improve on:

  • Could have gone out a bit faster (?)
  • Forgot medal in pack, ran 7 miles with medal on Sunday.

Brazen Racing-Wow, they have it dialed in.

  • Ample remote parking
  • Multiple shuttle buses (with no wait) to get to the start
  • Color coded bibs to the race ribbons!
  • Names on bibs if pre-registered
  • Extra porta-potties at start
  • Mile markers (in a trail race!!)
  • Race monitors at key turns/intersections
  • Ice cream sandwiches and a full BBQ at the finish

All of this adds up to a race fee that's about $15-$30 more than my usual low-key trail races.  But I could see where the money went--it's a different scale when you have a 1,000 runner field than a 300 runner field.  Some aspects I found jarring-I didn't like the rock music at the start/finish, and the mile markers seemed out of place at a trail race.  Overall, Brazen puts on a great race, and if it's in an interesting location, I will do one again.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Canyon Meadow 30K

I love 30Ks.  They are long enough I feel like a get a good workout, but not long enough I hit a real slough of despair or take the whole day.  3:58 for 30K in Oakland, wash the mud off me, and back to San Francisco in time for brunch at Luna Park.  

I ran Redwood Park 50K last February, and I remembered the parking situation being tight.  I left extra time to arrive by 7:30.  Still, after checking in, pinning my number on, and walking to the bathroom, it was already 7:54.  As I walked back to the start, I could hear Wendell (Race Director) counting down the seconds.  I dropped my jacket and started DFL at the back of the pack, about 30 seconds late.

Ugh.  Steep, slippery, muddy climb for the first 2 miles.  Rain had dumped on the Bay Area all week (~4-5 inches) and the mud was slippery, and at times I could feel my heel being sucked into a puddle.  Even when it leveled out, it was too slippery to really get a rhythm going.  I decided I would be lucky if I only fell once.  

After 3 miles I passed Carol & Melissa, walking together.  I slip-slid them with a "hi" and no other talk.  Then finally, the smooth buffed trail I remembered from last year.  I passed Coach Ken & Karen right before the first aid station.  I was surprised to see them as I'd assumed they'd be running Rodeo Valley on Sunday, an Inside Trail Event.

This weekend was not only "the perfect storm" of rain accumulation, but also of racing.  Inside Trail had Rodeo Valley 50K on Sunday, running my favorite Marin trails.  I'd intended to run RV, but then my favorite musician, Gabriel & Dresden, announced a St Patricks night show at Ruby Skye.  No Sunday race for me after a big night out!  Also, PCTR had their (twice rescheduled) Pacifica race on Saturday.  Three trail races in one weekend!  I'd thought Coastal would sell out (they usually do), but I suppose the combination of weather and other events made it well-attended, but not a sell-out.

From the first aid station (1:07) there was a pop up to Lake Chabot then a gradual, rolling descent back to Redwood Park.  I steadily picked off runners, but I never felt awesome.  I'd had two teeth pulled on Tuesday, and my dentist warned me that if I ate acidic food, my stitches would dissolve early.  I pictured my expensive (in pain and money) bone grafts crumbling in my mouth, and couldn't eat my acidic Scoobies like I usually did.  

A surprise aid station at mile 11.  The course last year had been altered "because of the mud".  Honestly, this course seemed much muddier than last year.  Larry at the aid station said I had 2.3 (!) miles to go.  Shoot, I thought I had a mile at most!  

Got to 30K right at 2:47.  All the half marathoners were back-slapping and celebrating, while I switched from my long sleeve (too hot) to a short sleeve and trudged back out.  The five miles went quickly, though besides one guy I flip flopped with, I saw no one else on trail.  A 50Ker, he passed me on the uphill walk.  As I looked at him in the distance, I slid and landed on my hip, covering my leg in mud.  Maybe everyone had called it quits at the 1/2 for a good reason?  Right as I was pounding down the last mile, one guy passed me, then another.  It was the fast marathoners.

Things I did right
Packed my bag the night before with everything I needed (change of clothes, salt tablets, snacks, water bottle, Gatorade)
Left enough time to get to the race, even with traffic on the Bay Bridge
Relentless Forward motion even when I wasn't feeling it
working iPod kept me going
Tried to thank all aid station volunteers
Said "Great race" to Wendell
Picked up the pace at the end to squeak in under four hours

Not so great
Wished I'd actually talked to Ken, Karen, Melissa and Carol
Filled cup from water pitcher to clean thick mud layer off my leg.  Grabbed pitcher with muddy hand, muddying handle for others.  Later discovered water faucet which I should have used in the first place.
Got low cal due to teeth pain making it hard to take in enough cals.  Usually I eat pretzels but mouth not up for it today.
Finished 5th in my age group at Golden Gate in February.  I wanted to improve into the top 3.  Finished 5th in my age group again!  At least I'm consistent.  Actually, given my half marathon time (2:46) I'd be solidly mid-pack for that distance.  Not many people did the 30K option.  

All in all, I'm not that thrilled by the course.  Wendell & the Coastal folks put on a top notch race, but I think the course is kinda "bleh". I actually enjoyed Lake Chabot more.  Of course, this could be due to the thick mud and clouds which kept me from ever enjoying a view.  At least it never rained.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cascade Crest 100 Mile Training starts!

Monday was my official first day of training for the Cascade Crest 100.  To keep me honest, I signed up for the Endurables 16 week program for a 50 Mile on June 30.  Why 50 mile?  Because there's no 100 Mile program offered.  I'll train with the group for 16 weeks, then (hopefully) keep my momentum going for the big race.  

Larissa's group meets Monday and Wednesday at Marina Green for "strength and core", then Saturday long run in Marin.  Marina Green is ~3.2 miles from my place, and a straight shot on the 22-Fillmore.  I got on the 22-Fillmore at 6:02, and arrived four blocks away at 6:36.  So the 22-Fillmore travels at ~11 minute pace.  Last year, I started jogging to practice when the bus was late and it never caught me.  "Faster than a 22-Fillmore at commute hour!".

I didn't run on Monday as I'd done back to backs of 8 & 10 miles on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday turned out to be almost all drills of squats, planks, and other core exercises.  It was less vigorous than I expected, but hard as the last time I'd done a plank was when I went to core workout last July.  

The weather was beautiful--daylight saving time gave us an extra hour of twilight, and the coming storm tinted the horizon beyond the Golden Gate pink.

While we were stretching, Randy ran by!  He said "Oh Edie, I saw you on my scooter at Sports Basement…" as soon as he said scooter & Sports Basement I knew EXACTLY what he was talking about.  A few weeks ago I'd ducked into the SB during a Presidio run to use their bathroom.  As I was leaving, a guy started yelling at me, but I had no idea who it was, as he had on a helmet and was on a scooter.  RANDY!  Mystery solved.

After an hour of workout, I took the bus back to Pac Heights.  As a reward for trekking up-city, I decided I would eat in Marina or Pac Heights after practice.  I'd worn a running skirt so I looked dressier than in running shorts.  

I read my WSJ at SPQR bar, in between two guys reading the WSJ on their smart phones.  The squid ink pasta with crab was great! though I was disappointed in the cheese plate.  One of the guys kept critiquing all of the wine and chatting with the bar staff.  I ended up getting three splashes of wine (gratis) of his favorites.  

All in all, I'm fine with bribing myself with pasta & wine to core workout!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lake Chabot 30K

Was it really February? A year ago we'd feared Redwood Creek 50K would be canceled due to snow. This year, I was debating whether to wear my short sleeve or tank top for the Lake Chabot 30K, as the predicted weather was "in the sunny 60s".

I got to Lake Chabot with plenty of time to pose for a photo with Coach Ken and his wife, Karen. Karen has been training up a storm for American River 50, so the question was, who would win the 50K? Experience (Ken) or training (Karen)? I said it was too close to call, but I would try to finish the 30K loop first!

The first three miles were on the flat around the lake and went by very quickly with Karen & I gossiping and catching up. The race course was the best I'd ever seen for bathroom opportunities. As the lake is a drinking water reservoir, every 1/4 mile seemed to be another outhouse, to encourage bathroom usage. Ken ducked into use one and Karen and I passed him.

We veered off the lake and entered a steep ascent where I dropped to a walk, then a series of rolling hills up to the 5.4 mile aid station. The trail was a groomed, non-technical dirt, with the shade of the Eucalyptous keeping the climb from getting too hot. Karen and Ken and I leap frogged a few times. I got into the 5.4 mile station at ~60 minutes. I was doing well!

After the aid station, another few rolling miles where I worried I'd missed the turn-off from the yellow (20K) to the orange 10K loop. At the start, a runner had asked "Will there be a human to monitor the turn". Answer: no. I passed a women runner who said she'd seen an orange ribbon, but nowhere to turn. I yelled ahead to Karen, but she said she hadn't seen the turn. When I saw the turn, I thought it would have been impossible to miss it--both sides of the turn trail were heavily orange, and there was a sawhorse.

The orange loop was surprisingly scenic. The hills were a lush green, the trail was very runnable, and there were even some cattle gates (but no cattle) to break up the monotony. The only issue was I had to go to the bathroom, but we were off the lake, and no more bathrooms! We came up to a stable and there was the nicest bathroom I've ever seen on a race course. Running water (hot and cold) A flush toilet. Toilet paper! There was even a worn oriental rug, and a small bonsai by the door. I refilled my water bottle and headed out, just as Karen almost passed me.

The rest of the race went by all too quickly. Back to the yellow loop, where I passed Ken at the aid station. The aid station volunteer said there was only around 4 1/2 miles left. Wow! I would finish well under four hours. The rest of the course was very smooth, with a couple quick 50 foot climbs. I started trying to pick off runners. The only issue was there were no runners to pick off! I saw a pair in the distance, and passed them.

On the final mile back to the marina and finish, I flashed back to my…very first trail race, at Lake Chabot, probably back in 2002 or 2003. I'd not met my goal of 2:00 at the SF Half Marathon, so entered Lake Chabot Half hoping to better my time. I hadn't factored in the hills or trails. I didn't carry food or hydration. I remember slowing to walk around 4 miles in, and seemingly endless hills. Now, the hills all seemed so easy. I had my own bottle! The first Lake Chabot race, the last 1/2 flat mile seemed so hard--I could see the finish, it was flat, but I could summon no energy to run. Now I dashed over the line, earning a "STRONG FINISH" from the race timer.

I PR'ed! 3:40 over 30K! And my friend, Chris Belknap WON the half marathon outright!

After the race, I saw Karen and Coach Ken finish their 30K. Karen was narrowly ahead, but she left the aid station second. Ken beat her by one minute!

Things I did well:

Got to the start 30 minutes ahead so I had time to sort out my pack, chit chat, and go to the bathroom

Stayed hydrated

Took an S Cap every 30 minutes

Tried a new food (Pretzels with peanut butter inside)

Made sure I had a working, trusty iPod

Wore a shirt with a zipper so my car key didn't jab me from my shoelace

Things I can improve on:

Didn't know the course well, so spent some time stressing about missing turns

Went out too conservatively. I had plenty of energy at the start. I'm used to killer Marin climbs.


Very runnable, no technical parts. No long climbs or descents. Much more picturesque than expected.

Race Organization:

Lake Chabot was Inside Trail's second race under their own name. Very well organized. The course was well marked, and I got my size of shirt. There were some aid station supply hiccups--one aid station was out of sports drink and Coke, another was out of cups. But overall, great job!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Golden Gate 30K

Thought I left plenty of time to get to the start at 7:30, pick up bib. However, though I knew as a single driver I couldn't park in the start/finish lot, the volunteers were also not letting us park on the entry road. I parked about a mile back and waited for the shuttle. Suddenly, it was 7:49 and I wasn't so calm. Luckily, a single car picked up me (& 2 other shuttle waiters) and drove us to the start line.

Picked up bib, got a large T-Shirt, and stood in the bathroom line behind one guy. He went in at 7:57. I realized he had an 8K bib (8:30 AM start) and I wished I'd asked to cut. He exited at 7:59, I went in, and I got to the start line at 8:02, thankful my watch was fast.

Up, up, up Hill 88. It was cloudy, but starting to clear. For once, I wasn't actually DFL. There was a clot of about 6 people behind me. They said they'd come from Sacramento for the 50K. I gave them a brief history lesson "These bunkers were originally to protect the Bay Area from Japanese submarines in WWII. "

I caught up with Melissa right as I was going into TV Aid station, and we hiked up Fox Trail together. The 700 foot climb went quickly as we gossiped and caught up. We're both running Ohlone 50K in May, and she entered American River 50, where I might pace Karen if Carol stays injured.

I wanted to go faster on Pirates Cove, but it was a mucky, wet, slippery mud. I stopped to tie my shoes tighter and got passed by three people. The pair of ladies dressed in blue said "Your socks are muddy!" All of me is muddy! I ran the whole way to TV, no walking allowed!

Steady climb up Marincello. The blue ladies passed me again, and said "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you get as sweaty as me! " Yup, I was drenched in sweat. One of the blue ladies was wet like me, her friend still had dry hair. I then glided down Bobcat to Alta. I'd practiced running all of Alta in training many times, and I was glad I could pound up it. Around on SCA, and I popped out at Larry & Carol's aid station at Conzelman. Yup, Carol had torn a muscle!

I finally started dropping the hammer on Coastal. Then we turned left to climb up to Conzelman. I don't like this section. And my iPod died completely. I walked on the road, feeling sorry for myself. The blue ladies passed me, and said since I passed them on all the downhills, they'd nicknamed me "bomber". When they were about 100 feet ahead, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and run with them and chat.

One told a very funny story about Headlands 100. A runner got turned around enough at night in the deep fog to start running along Highway 101 through the rainbow tunnel. Coincidentally, the police were looking for a convict that had escaped from San Quentin, about 9 miles away. So when they stopped a sweaty, disheveled looking guy, they immediately asked for ID. He didn't have any ID, only a thin story of running an all night 100 mile race. Finally he convinced them he was legitimately running, and they offered to drive him back to the race course.

The story cheered me up, and I jogged, iTuneless to the finish in 4:10.

Things I did well:

Got there early enough that even with parking issues I still made the start.

Stayed ahead of nutrition: took 3 packs of scoobies, ate them all.

Took an S-Cap every 30 minutes.

Short sleeves were fine, I never got too chilly.

Things to improve on:

I never felt like I pushed hard. I ran 6 miles the next day with Greg.

iPod failure-ick!

It would have been nice to have a jacket at the finish.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mission Street Scramble

I met up with Erwin & his wife Cindy, and Amit, a grad school friend of Erwin's for my first Mission Street scramble. All I knew was you explored the Mission looking for spots, and it seemed fun. Vladimir, the organizer, had been on my Providian relay team 7 or 9 years ago, and as I recalled he was a fun ultrarunner who introduced me to the phrase "the middle leg is always the hardest".

We met up at Garfield clubhouse in the deep Mission. Maps were handed out at 9 AM, and we had an hour to strategerize our route. The map was of basically central SF, from upper Market all the way down to the water, and from Bernal Heights up to Duboce, with no street names, and 30 different places labeled, with points from 10 to 40. The 40s were in higher or harder to reach locations, and the 10s in the flats near the club house. We had 3 hours to reach as many as possible. At first I didn't understand the scoring, and wanted to "mop up" all the flat lands close by. Then, once I understood the 40 was 4x as valuable, our strategy changed. The day had warmed up already, so Amit tucked all our jackets in his car. January 28th, and I had a tank top!

We started a brisk loop up and around Bernal Heights. Amit was to mark the score card (each location had a multiple choice question) , and I to navigate. We wanted to get a feel for our pace and team feel. The weather couldn't be better--clear with views all the way to the Mt Diablo tip, and warm (but not too warm).

Quickly the orienteering difference between me (native Mission dweller) and Erwin was exposed. I wasted time trying to correlate marks & blocks on the map with street names "That curvy line must be Eugenia" versus Erwin's dead reckoning style of "6 blocks straight, 2 blocks right up the top, one block left". Erwin's was quicker.

We'd thought about trying to make it up to Upper Market for a series of "perimeter" 40 points, but after 70 minutes traversing Bernal, it seemed out of reach. Amit & I made a pit stop for Gatorade at a friendly liquor store, then we had a serendipitous meeting with our old friend Miki, who now lives on Cortland. We plowed through Noe Valley, mopping up a series of 30 & 20 points. I'd lived in Noe Valley, so I narrated the area, including passing by my old house at 1218 Sanchez.

Now, Erwin & I differed- I knew the terrain, & he was going off a terrain map. He didn't count the "half blocks" of Elizabeth & Alvorado, so we went up from 24th to 22nd, then back tracked to 23rd. I wanted to go up 20th, and instead we went up Liberty. It was all good--we weren't in it to win it, just to have a good time and see the city. Cindy got a lemon from a tree, and we speed-walked along.

We debated whether we could make it to Sports Basement ( a juicy 40 point spot), but instead mopped up the Castro and Mission. We started crossing paths with a solo lady, who we never seemed to see on the same street, but always intersecting us.

We made it to the finish with a minute to spare. Each extra minute was a 20 point penalty, so it paid to be on time! A nearby team bemoaned "we have 45 seconds to spare, we planned poorly!" After the points were counted, we WOULD have been in 4th for "open mixed foot", but we missed a trick question, so didn't get 40 points, AND got a 20 point penalty. Still, I had an awesome time, and to be in 4th after walking the whole way is amazing! We were never in it to win it, I think Erwin just wanted to get us hooded for the-- "16 hour night and day challenge" which could be insanely dismally fun.

Thanks to Vlad for putting on a very enjoyable event, and Erwin, Cindy & Amit for inviting me to join Team "Climbing Posse".

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Recovery and recuperating in Junuary

I've taken January as a recovery and recuperation month. My right hip bothered me for the end of December. Then I felt twinges of what I hoped wasn't IT band syndrome on my right leg. Then, at a wedding in LA mid-month, I tweaked my right knee. Running down 15th ST by Buena Vista, it hurt so bad I slowed to a hobble. And finally I got a sniffle that progressed to a sore throat. I turned off the coaching program on Runkeeper and just did 30-40 minute "easy" runs for fun. No timing, no goals, just getting outside because I love running.

I did intend to run the Brooks Trail Half Marathon, mainly to support Inside Trail in their inaugural race. However, my cold was bad and it was a drizzly day. Karen & Coach Ken looked like they had a great day volunteering!

In between body aches, I squeezed in some great runs. Greg & I jogged the strand along Manhattan Beach as I showed him the home of Beach Volleyball. There's been some beautiful sunny days, warm and clear enough it feels like the June we never get. Usually June here is fogridden cold. I call this month "Junuary". I did my absolute favorite Presidio loop and thought how lucky I am to live in San Francisco.

The Endurables might do a 100 mile training group for summer races. I am sorely tempted. I'd been eyeing the Angeles Crest 100 Mile, but it's sold out with NO wait list. Tahoe Rim is sold out (with a wait list). And then there's Headlands 100 Miles....which is listed on the PCTR site. But they canceled multiple races last year...will it happen this year?