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.