Rocky Raccoon 100 2015

imageRocky Raccoon 100 was a ton of fun. I can hardly believe it, but I ENJOYED that 100 mile trail race! I immensely enjoyed that trail race…almost every singe mile, on up to 100. This was way more fun then the last two 100s I did, and if my body would let me, I’d want to run another 100 miler next weekend. As it is, my left IT band is no bueno and I do not think I will be  running even 10 miles next weekend.

When I dropped Bandera at 42ish miles a few weeks back, I wanted to find another race to run soon. After talking it through with Joe P, I was 90% sure I would go ahead and run RR 100. Only 90% sure. Here is where you get the warning I put in some of my posts. I’m going to write very honestly about how I had to mentally prepare for this race and the thoughts that went into deciding to run the RR100 this year.

First, I already hit on the fact that I am not confident in my 100 mile abilities. I have so much to learn here, and before running Rocky this year I felt like I was a poor 100 mile runner. Mainly because I hated the previous experience. This was actually a reason to go and run! If I want to get better at running 100s, I need to run more 100s.

Post Bandera, I hit a hard spot emotionally and personally. I didn’t run much and didn’t want to run much. I just ate junk and (no joke!) put on 6 pounds of fat. In 3 weeks. Darn fast food Mexican temptations in SA. At *almost* 5’5″, I felt like I was dragging to run with the extra pounds. I also went and bought bigger run cloths because my too tight gear was causing chaffing. :O Yucko feeling going into a big race. (Side note: I still know I am healthy! Big for me, as an athlete. But I will be the first to say I run better a bit big then too thin. I have been both.) I jokingly told friends I needed to go run 100 miles to burn off some fat. And I not so jokingly told myself I need to go run 100 miles to snap myself out of the bad funk and back into my real runner self, with a strong mind.

But the biggest reason I was wavering with the decision to run this race? The date. I am a healthy female Lady and as such there are a few unideal days every month to be out on the trails for many many hours. I knew RR 100 would fall on a bad day for me, and I had to seriously think of how to handle this, both emotionally and in the real physical sense. I know myself, and I know how much I hurt on certain days. How bad my back aches just lying down. How blown up my tummy feels and how nauseated I get even when NOT running. I knew running 100 miles like this would not feel good, from before mile 1.

I goggled and read articles about other women who had to deal with something like this. While I didn’t find anything to really sway my choice in either direction, I did feel like I could handle this 100 no mater what day it was. A few cool facts (I’d site them all, but you can use goggle to check it out. Books too.).

1. Women tend to have a lower core temperature starting even the day BEFORE their day one and going all the way until ovulation. While there isn’t enough research to support this as something that boasts performance, it sure could!

2. Hormone levels are at an optimal level for performance for most females by their day 3. And racing post ovulation *could* be much harder for a lady then during the front end of her cycle due to hormones.

3. If about to start menstruation and during, women athletes need much more sodium then they do during the rest of the month.

The interesting facts go on, but there are a few highlights.

So I decided to run RR 100, no matter the day. The worst part for me was planing the logistics of bathroom needs during a race. My crew totally rocked with helping me here. I had to write things down by hours, not knowing where I would be but knowing by what hour I would need to stop and what all I would need to handle that in a sanitary way on a trail. NOT fun. But it was done. I have to say, I feel very blessed to have a guy in my life willing to help and encourage me through these type of sucky things. I also want to say I loved the fact that RR has a couple bathrooms with sinks just off the course. Made me feel better for sure!

So I showed up to the starting line, day 2 for me, back hurting, head throbbing, tummy nauseous, feeling like the size of a pregnant cow….and it was time to start running 100 miles. Honestly, my thoughts went like this, “Man, this is a crappy day. I ache and hurt and yuck! Might as well run 100 miles, because I’ll be feeling like this no matter what I do.” I told myself this several times that day. “My back hurts so bad! Guess I’ll just keep running. I’d feel about like this lying on the couch. I want that 100 mile finish instead!” It worked well for my brain, to have that internal dialect going with the discomfort.

All told, I really had a good day. I felt bad from the start, had a few high points in the middle, felll off at the end. But learned a ton and truly had fun. My crew was the best. Supported me all day long and gave me encouraging words. The biggest kink in the race was when my headlamp died at night. Luckily, I was less then 1/2 a mile out of the first aid-station (on lap 5) because I couldn’t even see the trail!!!  My crew had a headlamp on and gave me a handheld, then spontaneously became my pacer. A pacer in cargo shorts for the last 17 miles. I loved that. 🙂 At DamNation, I had a drop bag with extra lights for us both. Unfortunately, the lights were sucky ones and we really couldn’t see well. The headlamp I had that died was the rockin’ light. But those things happen. And I think I liked the excuse to slow down and enjoy my company.

For my next 100, I will focus on keeping some intensaty in my running the last 30 miles. I just sorta got tired and let myself slow. I know I can push harder and I know harder will be just that. Harder. But I am going to go for that. Harder push, better finish. Sounds like crazy fun to me. Going faster next time. Run crazy and have fun everyone!!!

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Bandera 2015

I’ve really dragged my feet with writing this. It’s like, what can I write? I ran 42.something miles and called it a day.

The why? My tummy went bad. I made 2 potty stops in the trees between miles 31 and 36.5 and then another one before dropping at Chapas. I do not regret dropping, AT ALL! No part of me wanted to poop my pants or expose myself to anyone out in the field sections or on the sisters. It just wasn’t my race to run and I am ok with that.

What was  learned? Talking to Roy (USATF liaison and superman runner), my tummy might have done this to me because I kept over heating. I was over dressed. If that was it, lesson learned! I did have a kid home with a fever Friday and Saturday though, so there is a chance I had a mild version of his bug. In any case, running is something I love and racing is something I love. But I WILL drop a race when needed. Period.

On Friday night, I was going over what motivates me to race and hurt and try for crazy things, like records or wins when lots of proven runners are racing too. And I found my big motivation!!! It still gets me giddy and makes me want to go race again. I ran my first ultra because I really wanted to do something I had never done, to feel like I could be more then I am or do more then I ever have.  I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of crazy, cool, hard things. I wanted to run CrAzY. Toeing that starting line back then, I had no idea if I would finish in the given 24hour time limit. People told me I might not, and that this 100k was crazy hard. But I wanted to finish that thing crazy bad. I showed up, ready for the hurt and challenge, not putting thoughts into splits or times but running for the finish. And I got it! Now, while I never will take a finish as a given, I know I CAN finish. The crazy hard part comes in pushing and racing and trying to achieve new things in my running. So I want to run cRaZy. All the time! That’s how I run. 🙂

Whats next? Maybe Rocky Raccoon 100. Check it out!!

http://tejastrails.com/Rocky.html

In closing, a couple pics. And if anyone who reads this sees me at a race, remind me to be cRaZy out there. And remember crazy is fun. At least when it comes to trail running. 😉

Larry Castillo (from Enduro Photo) captured this shot on the top of Sky Island. My smile is forced, as I felt like I was about to have an accident! Laughing at myself.

From Dave Salvestro's shot. See my full crew?!?! What a blessing. <3

From Dave Salvestro’s shot. See my full crew?!?! What a blessing. ❤

Brazos Bend 50 miler, December 13, 2014

It was a warm, steamy morning when a couple hundred runners piled into the start area for the Brazos Bend 50 mile trail race. The sun was just rising, and pockets of musky smelling mist stuck to the ground. Mentally, I prepared for this race by saying, “Suck it up Princess and run” out loud as I walked to the stating line. I fully expected today to suck. My legs were trashed from more then my normal amount of yoga and weight lifting coupled with having had a big weekend last weekend. Then I spent a lot of time sitting and had no chance to do a shack out run on Friday. Starting this 50 might be dumb, I knew, but I figured if I felt like I was on the brink of injury (not just hurting) I would drop. So a no fun day either way. Suck it up and run or drop.

At 7am we were off. I took off on the faster end of my 50mile pace options, hoping my legs might loosen up so I could run a PR. I didn’t run fast enough to bonk, but I started fast. The fast didn’t last. Before hitting even one hour into this race, I was slowing down. My hamstrings were hurting, my glut muscles burning and my hip flexors felt way too tight. At first, this really mad me mad. Nothing in me wanted to drop, but I felt like trash. On I ran, eating and drinking as necessary, feeling worse and worse over the next few miles.  Sometime around mile 14 I ate my last gel. I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be another chance to eat until mile 25. (Note: ALL MY LACK OF PLANING!! The race documents clearly say water only for the last 12 or so miles.) Also around here, the trails sucked. I think these trails were created by folks riding horses through the mud. Talk about a challenge! Twisty, leaf covered single track with horse hoof prints covering the path and lots of mud. So, here I am, giving up on a PR due to a little bit harder course then expected and tired legs from the start. The weather sucked (I had looked at the weather before I started, and kept telling myself the humidity would fall as the temps went up. I like warm better then humid) and I had a sugar low for sure. My state upon reaching the start/finish area on loop one? Super-d-dupper-d-bad.

Luckily for me, my family was waiting to crew me at the end of loop one. Seeing my 3 treasure and my niece, hearing my dad cheer for me and having my mom there waiting to give me food and water, with my Scratch already mixed and Advil ready made keeping on running the only option I wanted to take. So I ate (later, my youngest told me I ate just over 300 calories at that stop. Good crew!!), drank and told my crew I’d see them at the next aidstation. I told them I was feeling really bad, but hoped the Advil and food might help.

I’m not sure what it was that helped, but something (everything?) did! Around the 4hr mark, there was a shift in my brain, and my legs felt looser. I went from running low nine minute miles to 8:30’s. Somehow, I ran the last 15miles of the 2nd loop faster then I had run those same miles during the first loop. I finished in 7:12:15 (according to the race site. So I’ll go with it), first female and third finisher. I wouldn’t say my time out there was anything great, but I feel like I ran well on bad legs. It is encouraging for me to know that I can run 50miles with yucko legs. First time I’ve started an ultra feeling so warn, and I wonder what a fast 100 mile course might be like. But that isn’t in the plans for me for now.  Up next, Bandera 100k. I’m hoping for a good day. Running either way. 😉

Cactus Rose 50, 2014

I’m not a good sad runner. I’m not a good mad runner either. Some how the things I think I’m mad about become things I’m sad about as the miles go by. Its like mile 1 I’m all ready to use my anger to run hard and channel the emotions into energy, mile 4 I’m thinking am I angry? By mile 8 I’m starting to feel hurt and at mile 20 it’s full blown tears. Saturday it was all I could do to stuff the tears away enough to breath after mile 30. When I run my best, I am running happy. A few weeks back I waved at a guy as our paths crossed at a local park. It’s a small park, and many of the people I pass look familiar to me. Apparently I’m not alone in recognizing the running strangers. He said, “Hey Giggle-tails! How many laps today?” And I started to giggle as I yelled, “Last one!” over my shoulder. I hadn’t thought about it before that moment, but I am a giggly runner. Rain makes me giggle. Mud makes me giggle. Getting up after a fall, a giggle…twinkies at mile 15, more giggles. I think the stranger got me right. I need giggles to run. I need to run happy. I wounder why. I read all these inspirational sorties about people who use the pain in their life to spur on athletic achievement, setting personal records by digging deep and being bigger then their past and creating their future. But when I tried to run like that, I fell apart. I’m going to say it straight out, I lost it Saturday. I was crying so hard on Ice Cream Hill that I had an asthma attach. What lead to all this drama for me? Oh, a lot. Mostly I think I approached this race wrong. I tried to be “tough” and “race tough” too. I discovered I am not tough. Anyone who knows me well already knew this…I’m an intrinsic person. And my strength as a being on Earth comes from my ability to love others, not my ability to “dig deep”, “give it all” or any heroic thing that gets noticed. And to be honest, (a goal in all life!) I like that. Seeing my friends get accolades feels better then getting accolades for myself. I view this as personality. My personality is very intrinsic. Nothing better about it, just different then about 85% of the world. Yep. I’m the odd one out. 😉 As such, racing is a hard mix. Tough isn’t an option. Yet I tried on the hat to see, thinking just maybe I could pull it off. Big. Fat. NEVER AGAIN.

3 weeks ago, I got sick. Just a chest cold. Thing is, it never went away. I have asthma, and every so often my asthma affects my athletics. I hate this SO MUCH!!! I do my best to pretend it doesn’t and that I’m fine, but this is honestly the 2nd race (in my adult life) majorly effected by asthma. Boo but so true. I took my inhaler 3 times the first 25 miles then left it (accidentally) at the turn around point . 😦 This leads to another break in my race.
I SUCK at crewing myself. I’m just not that bad@$$. This was the second race were I have had absolutely no crew from start to finish and it sucked for me. I forgot things, took way way way too long in aid stations and (I’m admitting it!) it made me feel pretty sad to be out there running alone. It felt pointless. I never realized how much it means to me to run not from aid to aid but from loved ones to loved ones. I always have loved having a crew, but now I see how I need my crew, not just love them. Yeah, no tough card for me. It means the world to me to have the people who love me in this world at my races helping me run. It means the world to me that the people who I love most care enough about me to help me race. And running without anyone really hurt. This shocked me, because running is what I do that’s just for me, right? Hum. This leads too…
My daddy came to see me!!!!!!! I didn’t know he would. I thought my parents were going on a little vacation this weekend. Benounced to me, they moved their trip to next weekend so my dad could come to my race. It went something like this….
      I left Nachos (mile 35ish) in bad shape. I was so sad (see above). And I’ll admit that seeing the other runners spouses and kids in the aid stations, while it gave me a genuine smile of happy for them, left me hurting. I was trying to get myself to run, chest hurting and spirits in the trash, when I noticed a Nisson Leaf parked on the road. Hum, I though, my Dad drives a Leaf…odd to see one out here. And I hoped it might be my dad. A couple miles later, I spotted an old guy with a camera through the trees. I knew my Dad had come to see me. 🙂 I was so happy I started crying again, which lead to another asthma attack. Once I was able to breath again, I felt so focused and ready to finish. I created a cheesy mantra in my head to get me to run. That mantra I will keep to myself, but the difference it made for me to run to the finish knowing someone who loved me was there and wanting to see me finish was huge. Big lesson learned. As much as I run for myself, i need my loved ones to support me or I don’t love to run. I will not forget this one in the future. My parents hid their plans from me because they thought they might get in my way. I didn’t ask them to come because I didn’t want to get in their way. A bunch of wrong thinking and now we all know the truth of it. I need to speak up and so do they! Next time. 😉
And the final thought I will share that played through my head at Cactus Rose this year. “To those who are given much, much is expected….” So often I find myself envying the runners who can have a bad day and no one thinks mean on them for it. When folks lay into “elites” for dropping or making excuses it pisses me off to a royal degree. I do not like being judged as a runner and PERSON by a race. It makes me mad. If I would rather drop then risk (or worsen!) injury, should anyone but the owner of this running body that is mine have right to an opinion?  If I want to half@$$ a race and just chill to the finish line, laughing with others and spending time with friends along the way, why can’t I? (Oh, I have! Ultrasighup is proof)…  Yet I am the one who wants to push my limits and do more. I want to race so hard I fall over in the end. I want to push passed emotional and mental limits and meet my physical limits, at least once in this life. And I will do this. This I know. Because, “To those who are given much, much is expected”.

Capt’n Karl’s 30k- Muleshoe 2014

There are many perks to being a runner in Texas. The weather is not one. Not at all. I kinda hate Texas weather a lot. Blah. Now that that’s out on the table, I’ll move on.

Right now I am building a base. Just enjoying training and running and getting ready for Cactus Rose 50 miler on October 25th and then Bandera 100k in January. As such, racing shorter things as training runs while building up miles (slowly) is what the summer is about for me. Having fun and RUNNING!!! My favorite. 🙂 Honestly, I could train year round and rarely race and be one happy lady. But I do enjoy racing. I especially enjoy trail racing. I enjoy hills, dirt, rocks, roots, wildlife and the fun people that are drawn to these races. Muleshoe was no exception to any of those things. This course: pretty much two 15k loops full of mixed terrain, all trail. Lots of twisty funny.

It was a cool evening for Texas in July. The humidity was high though, and that’s worse then heat to me. Still, I tried to stay positive and focus on the gift of sub 95* for the start. Very rear! In fact, this was definitely the best weather I’ve seen at any Capt’n Karl’s race ever. So I toed the line at 7:15pm, happy to be running a little race on beautiful trails with fun people in weather that could have been worse. The humidity was over 60% and on the rise, but at least it wasn’t hot, right? My pre-race plan was to go out just a little hard (like what I would think felt like 20k pace) and then slow down into a comfy pace (50k pace) for a bit. With the idea of picking it back up towards the end of the 30k. The first few miles played out just like that. I felt comfortable, but I knew I wouldn’t run that pace for the whole race. When we hit the first aid-station at about 4miles, I stopped for food and electrolytes, ready to settle into a comfy pace, and a pack of 4 or 5 guys flew past me. No stopping for them. Sticking with my plan, I didn’t try to catch them back. That wasn’t hard, because my shoes were starting to slosh with sweat and I was scared I might have over run (first mile was 6:40ish, second low low 7s and I was having a hard time getting myself to drop the pace to closer to the expected high 7 minute miles). I focused on feeling comfortable and ignored my pace. I finished the first loop in about 1:14, feeling great.

Shortly before reaching the first aid-station on loop 2  (about mile 11.5) I decided to turn on my head lamp. Well, I wanted to turn it on. I kept pressing the button, but the head lamp kept turning itself off. Boo. Maybe I had sweated it to death by wearing it wrapped around my wrist the first lap? Not sure, but my head lamp wasn’t going to be of any use. I left it at the first aid-station, feeling apprehensive. The hand held light I was using was one I had never used before. It was a low cost light I had purchased on the way to the race (my super nice handheld was swiped from an aid-station back in April and I didn’t have another). It was a rechargeable light with a USB. Thing is, I hadn’t charged it…but it turned on. Setting it on low, I knew this light had to do. If it failed, I would resort to the glowing screen of my GPS to get me threw. And that would mean walking, because of how thick the trees are for so much of this course and how technical parts are. I was pretty upset that I now had no headlight. I really need two lights in the dark to run well. I said a prayer and hoped I would get to run! In the end, the little light held out. 😀 But before the end…

I had a ton of fun. Honestly, 100% of what I felt was fun. So take that into account when you read the rest. It’s going to sound like complaining to some. But really, truly, it’s just what happened for me on this day. Still was fun!! Even if I didn’t want those things to happen, they added to the enjoyment of this run. And serve as a growing experience for my future.

I wasn’t drinking quite enough water. No leg cramps at all, but I was so so so thirsty! I would down water in the aid-station and refill my bottle before leaving  and STILL be thirsty. Doing the math, I do actually drink more water when I do my tempo runs then I did in this race. Opps. Next time I will do better. But It is hard in this weather, big hard. I will also try to think less during races. I must have done the math for ounces per mile and ounces per hour and figured I was actually under drinking 5 times during the last 6 miles of this 30k.

I got in enough calories, but I was wishing to drink them instead of eat them. Given the heat and humidity, drinking calories would have been smarter. Throw in the fact that I had a hand held flash light in one hand and a water bottle in the other, juggling things around to eat on technical trail sections was a silly challenge I didn’t need to give myself. Every time I had to go back and pick up my pack of food, I was like, “Dang, Anie! Put cals in the water next time!!” Maybe I learned this for real now. 😉

From the start of the race my butt hurt. I have been building my miles since April. I won’t tapper until October. Last week I ran a sold 93 miles, and while I’m feeling absolutely great, certain muscle groups are absolutely tired. This actually made me happy!! Because I felt great all race long. Tired and far from fresh, but I wasn’t sore the next day. I know that when I taper, things will get even better. Yay!!!

Just past mile 15, on a technical down hill section, I turned a tight corner and hit a tree with my GPS. The Garmin went flying over a little ledge and I couldn’t see it. I paused for about 1.5 seconds, debating leaving the watch. I love my Garmin like some girls love diamonds, Coach or Givenchy. I was really upset at the thought of it being broken or gone forever, but I didn’t want to stop during the last miles of a race. And I REALLY didn’t want to hike down a little cliff, into over growth (snakes!!) to search for what was now a broken Garmin. But down I went. Finding the watch took maybe 1 minute. Thank goodness my Garmin is orange! I hiked back up the little cliff, doing my best to just run and not think, holding my water bottle and Garmin in one hand, food and light in the other.

When I got to the next (and last) aid-station, I noticed that the watch part of the Garmin was still going and looked fine. The band had broken when I hit the tree because the metal piece (hidden inside the plastic band) bent, causing the band to disconnect on one side from the Garmin face. I drunk water and Coke and headed for the finish line feeling quite happy about my only half broken treasure.

Soon, the race was over. I finished in 2:34:38, first female and 3rd finisher. Course record. 😉

All in all, I feel quite happy with this race. It’s easy for me to speculate about what no headlamp did to my time, because I have bad depth perception in the dark and had to slow down due to that… but really it doesn’t matter. Because I learned a lot and had a blast. Things always happen in a race. It’s just a matter of what. Being able to take what comes and see the whole thing as racing and running fun is what keeps it all worth doing. Extra challenges, extra learning, extra fun.

 

About .5 miles into this 30k

picture by Herb Abrams

 

Texas Trail Running

Being a trail runner in Texas comes with a different set of requirements. We may not have snow or subzero temps, but we have other things to deal with. Like, summer is 9 months long. Our weather is either hot, humid, drought, flood or a nasty mix of the first two with one of the last two. As such, running the trails down here is an experience all on its own. Here are a few things I’ve learned to deal with, if not love about running the Texas trails, most year long.

1. Being covered in spider webs is ok. Pulling them off your face, arms and even legs should be expected. If you are afraid of spiders or wearing their webs, stay off the Texas trails.

spider-web-with-dew11

 

2. Seeing Rattlers on the trail is cool, not frightening. If you’re lucky, they will coil up and rattle at you and not just book it into the bushes. Be ready to pull out your phone and take a pic! But DO NOT taunt or get too close. Those babies can strike fast, and be deadly.

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Local Rescue Ranger snaps a photo of a black-tailed rattler.

 

3. Until it reaches 90*, it’s really not hot.  We secretly (or not so secretly) laugh at other runners when they talk about how hot their 79* run was hot. And if you luck out and get in a whole run before it reaches 100* in August, be grateful!

Record Heat Scorches Texas

 

4. Humid means running with wet socks after 4 miles, a wet top after 6 miles, and looking like you jumped in a river after 12+ miles.  And please, below 60% humidity is DRY. Complaining about the humidity is expected and ok.

 

5. Trails have rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks. If there are no rocks, we might not think of it as a trail. If you are used to groomed, crushed granite “trails”, soft dirt single track or jeep roads, think twice before attempting to run on Texas trails.

A less rocky section of Government Canyon

A less rocky section of Government Canyon

 

6. To get in super long runs in Texas, be prepared to start after 6 pm and run well into the night. If you think you can get up early and beat the heat by starting at 6 am or even 5 am, be prepared to face massive humidity and fast rising temps. If it’s August, be prepared to regret your decision to start a long run in the morning by 8am.

After a Texas Night run in 2012

After a Texas Night run in 2012

 

7. Read up on how to handle chiggers and tics. It’s something all Texas trail runners will need to handle at some point. And if you don’t know how to remove a tic properly, READ UP ON IT BEFORE removing it the wrong way.

ticks1

 

8. The tougher you are, the more water you carry when starting a run. Starting your run sans water means you:

A) Have no idea how hot, humid and potentially deadly summer trail running is here,

or,

B) You lack sufficient arm muscles  to carry a handheld.

If you want to impress your Texas trail running friends, carry gallon jugs of water to a trail intersection for community use.

6-29-10 Boom smells jugs

 

All in all, running the Trails during a Texas summer and enjoying it takes a special personality and a lot of practice. I take pride in pulling the spider webs from my pigtails and wringing out my socks after a run, but if I’m not careful to keep my mind in check, things can go bad real fast!

 

 

There’s something special about Texas summer runs. The smell of hot dirt. The whiffs of Honeysuckle and Mountain Laurel, mixed with Oak Trees and Ceder. The hotter it gets, the sweeter the smells seem to be. The sun doesn’t hurt and burn as fast as it does in Colorado, but the heat here is more intense. And the breezes feel nicer.  Evening runs are especially magical this time of year. As the miles go by, my legs feel lighter and stronger because the temperature is dropping. Cool patches began to appear close to the dirt. Firefly’s come out.  And while I will always treasure the majestic mountains, I know there is something every special about the rugged, surreal summer night runs that are only found in Texas.21353_10151673194866382_466265730_n

Time to get training!

Well, I didn’t run 50 miles at Brazos Bend. Truthfully, I plain didn’t want to race. The week leading up to the race I contemplated changing race distances to 50k. That’s what I wanted to do. I felt way under prepared for a 50 miler. And I like running the shorter stuff quite a lot. But I didn’t make the switch. I let myself be talked into staying in the 50 miler. Lesson learned! I need to be the one to pick my races. And if I want to have fun and do well, the only thing that will get me there is following my own desires with running. So I started this race Saturday morning thinking I could talk myself into racing. The first loop was fun. The second loop sucked. And then I dropped.

The race director did an awesome job with this race. The course was well marked, aid-stations nicely stocked and the volunteers were super helpful and friendly. If you don’t mind running in 100% humidity (no, it wasn’t raining….) then I highly recommend this race. Fast course. Beautiful sights. Well organized and lots of fun.

Sunday morning, I woke up a little after 7 and went for a 5.5 mile jog. My legs felt tired, but just fine.  On this run, I saw 7 alligators, 3 large wild hogs, tons of beautiful birds, a snapping turtle out for a walk and 2 full grown bobcats. It was spectacularly wonderful!!!!!!!!!!! Getting to see the bobcats made the whole trip worth it. I felt like the luckiest runner of the weekend, even though I ran 33.5 miles in a decently fast time and ended up getting a DNF. Just goes to show….GOD IS GOOD. ALL THE TIME. And I need to learn to follow my heart better. 😉

Run happy everyone!!!!!!

Hells Hills 50k, 2014

Yippy do da day!! I ran an ultra!! I ran an ultra in a tutu! I ran an ultra in a tutu and I won! I’m fairly excited about all 3 of these things for different reasons. This has left me  scatterbrained!

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I’ll start my tale with I ran an ultra. Back in 2012, I suffered a bad impact injury during a trail race. At that time, I knew I was muscularly injured. But I had no idea how sever the injury really was. I kept running (duh…?), and soon developed a stress fracture in my left foot. At that time I didn’t connect the  injury from March with the new injury in April. I did, however, notice that my right thigh was shrinking. It was, as a female, a nightmare. At first I thought it was my dryer shrinking my pants in weird ways. Then I noticed that all my paints had shrink on the left leg only. So I pulled out a measuring tape and OH MY NO. My left leg was almost 2 inches bigger then my right. Once the scariness of feeling like a lopsided monster wore off, I decided to try doing more things with my right leg then my left. That’s when I discovered my right leg was in off mode. I couldn’t even squat a little bit with all my weight on my right leg. Stairs were hard to do with my right leg leading…and I had been running 100 mile weeks like this. My right knee had been hurting since March, but I had not realized the extent I was going through to not use that leg. I knew I needed to even things out. So I kept trying to use my right leg instead of my left at every opportunity. And as soon as my foot was healed, I began running again.

The thing is, my right leg never caught up to my left leg. The difference in leg sizes had changed, but was still over an inch. I could do stairs easily, but not squats. My knee still hurt to be touched, though running didn’t seem to make it worse.  Soon I was, again, running 90+ miles a week (duh…) and racing some. This led to another injury. This time on my right foot. Only this injury was a little different. It came and went in a way that the stress fractures never had. I decided to be drastic and stop running for a few months. But my foot never got better. My knee felt worse.

Thinking I may never run again, I took the advise of a few running friends. I went and saw a rehab specialist in San Antonio. And he saved my running. Apparently, my SI joint was out of whack and had been since March of 2012. He tortured me first with adjustments and “massage”. Then hooked my knee up to an electric shock thingy. It was cRaZy!!!! Two days later, I went for a run with NO foot pain. My knee was still hurting. But less, and my right quad was sore in odd places. I went back and saw the torture man a few more times in the next 10 days. 2 weeks later, my knee was feeling better then it had in over a year. I was beyond thrilled. I could RUN again!!!!!  That was about 7 weeks ago. And THAT is why I am thrilled that I ran an ultra!

Next I’ll go with the win because it’s simple. I hadn’t won an ultra in a loooonnnnggg time. I know it wasn’t a competitive race or anything like that. So often, as a competitor, I look at who the winners beat when seeing who the fast gals are. Sometimes 3rd place means more then a win. But it felt good to win my first race back. 🙂

That leaves the tutu. After reading Monika Allen’s story about Self magazine’s taunting, I decided I wanted to show some running support. We runners are a different breed. We are a family. Bound by a love of using our bodies to cover distance. All speeds and sizes are welcome. All distances covered count. Even walking counts. Some of us run in pigtails or ponytails, others run with their hair down. Some of us run in long shorts, some of us in short shorts. And some of us even in a tutu. The only qualifier is knowing that you are a runner. This means if you make fun of one runner, you piss off the rest. Because if someone wants to run a race in a tutu they can. The reason doesn’t even matter. Though in this case, Monika’s reasons are pretty cool. She sales her tutus to raise money for a nonprofit organization called Girls on the Run. She runs in a tutu to give smiles to others out there, knowing that smiles motivate and validate us, as people. Getting others to smile is a simple, selfless gift. The fact that Self Magazine had the bad judgment to make fun of a cancer surviving, tutu wearing, fun loving and giving runner not only mad me mad, it hurt my heart. Wanting to stand up against bullying and wanting to follow Monika’s lead in sharing a smile, I decided to run this 50k in a tutu of my own.

I woke up a little before 5am Saturday morning. As I sat in my truck (where I had slept) eating breakfast (PB on an English muffin and almond coffee), the 50 mile runners started their race. I silently cheered them on, glad that I was still eating breakfast and not yet running. I woke up knowing that today would not be the best day for me to race. Partly, that’s the reality of using a race as training and going into a race on tired legs. Partly, that’s my reality of having been injured and not running for a few months. And partly, that’s what it’s like to be a girl and have to race with sever menstrual cramps and a crappy, hormonal feeling in your brain.

Doing my best to pretend I felt good, I put on my running clothes, stuck my tutu in a bag and made my way to the bathrooms and then the Rockhopper tent. In the tent, I chit-chatted with friends, met some new friends, finished my coffee and waited for the start. A few minutes before 6am (start time), I put on my tutu and grabbed my lights. In no time we were off!

I started behind the 3 guys I figured had a great shot at leaving me in their dust. In no time, they were out of sight and a hoard of other males were upon me. I covered the 1st mile in 8:30. Being in the dark and mostly up hill, I felt like this was a smart start. Apparently the guys around me disagreed. Only I think it was the tutu the disagreed with, not the “slow” pace because I passed half those guys right back before 2.5 miles had passed. I ran most of the first loop with Ty, who I met at Bandera a few years back. He is a cool guy and I enjoyed the conversation.

The only thing bad about the first loop was my nauseous tummy. I ate 2 gels the first loop and was happy they stayed in. I knew I needed to be eating a lot more, but I really didn’t have the tummy for food that day. If I would have followed my normal race nutrition, I would have eaten 2 0r 3 gels in the first hour. But I’m not quite back to my normal runner self yet.

As such I had no time goals for this race. I knew I was not in as good of shape as I was the last time I ran out there, but I knew I was no longer injured. So I figured I’d run hard and just see what happened. I finished the 1st loop in 2:11. Deep down, I was bummed that I was so slow. But I was also happy to be running and nothing inside me was discouraged with my time. I tackled loop two with tired legs but a happy heart. Some how, I was running just about the same times per mile the second time through. This made me laugh, because I had expected a bonk due to low calories and under training. But my fastest 2 miles of the day where both on loop two.

I crossed the finish line in 2:25:20, 1st female and 4th finisher. I was thrilled with getting to race again. Even more thrilling was how good I felt after. No leg cramps and I barley got sore. SHOCKER! But a happy one. 🙂 Next up, Brazos Bend 50 miler on April 26th. I’m trying to just enjoy seeing where I’m at with this 50. But I want it to be a fast run. 😉

Run Rabbit Run 100 2013

I was going to write my race report for Run Rabbit Run 100 last night. But after having been up for over 36hrs (and running for about 23 of those hrs), I was a bit afraid of what I’d go on record as saying to the world and went to bed instead. Now my thoughts and emotions have shifted. Kinda wishing I had written last night. 😉

This 100mile race was, by far, the most awful thing I have ever done. And I’m meaning the course, not my performance. This course is amazing and awful. So crazy to me. When I signed up the week before the race I knew I wasn’t really trained for a 100 mile race. Thing is, I’m fixing to shift a lot of life focus and energy into work (YOGA!!!!!). Being I was in stelar shape, feeling better then I had in years, running faster in my workouts and recovering quick, I wanted to race something before this shift. I spent  2 weeks running mountains around Leadville Colorado in August, so I knew what my body was likely to do in a mountain race. And I liked that!! The only draw back was my long run training. 28miles is the farthest I’ve run since very early March. I spent all of April and May in the pool with a bad foot injury (soft tissue damage and a bone bruise) and ran my first land mile in June. I really had no clue what my body would think of racing even 100k…not comforting facts when looking to race a mountain 100 miler. I battled myself over this and decided I’d rather go to Run Rabbit 100 under ready and see what happens then always wonder if I could have done well. I knew I could finish (Baring injury. And I FINALLY was not injured going into a race!), I knew I could totally fall to pieces in the end due to training, and I wanted to go race anyways.

I got back to Colorado the Sunday before the race. Camped two nights in the mountains, spent 2 nights at a friends house in Leadville, and then headed to Steameboat Springs for the race briefing (and check out the rainbow from when I got there!!) and a good nights sleep in my own hotel room. I feel lucky to have friends and family who help me out with trip costs. You guys know who you are, and I thank you greatly for the room and board!!

Welcome to Steamboat!

Race night, a few Texas runners went to dinner. I never know what to eat the night before a long long race. Pretty much, I order whatever I want and aim for high calorie/low volume, as this had always worked for me. That night, the bacon artichoke dip barely beat the double bacon cheese burger built between grilled-cheese sandwicheS. I was afraid the burger might be too much volume pre-race. 😉  The dip came in a bread bowl, was covered in cheeses and had a good amount of veggies on the side. To drink: a yummy nitro milk stout and water.

I had planed to stay up late Thursday night because of the noon start of Run Rabbit Run 100. But after dinner, I totally crashed. Slept from 9:30pm to almost 9am. Got up, ate breakfast (Yay bananas and Greek yogurt), showered (conditioned my face. Guess I was nervous.) , packed out of the hotel room and headed to the start.

After checking in, I noticed an adorable little girl in a purple butterfly T-shirt and Vibrams hula-hooping outside. Hula-hooping looked like a better way to wait for the race start then sitting inside getting nervous, so I joined her. Turns out, this little girl is Salynda Fleury’s daughter and it was her 5th birthday. Fun little gal! Her mom is pretty staler too. 🙂

Finally, it was time to start!

The first 2.2ish miles are up, up up! My only goal here was to get to the top of the gondola feeling ready to run. 42 mins later, this goal was accomplished. Now time for more up, but at a less steep grade. I had 2 goals for the first 17 miles of this race.

1) Run My Own Engaged and Comfortable Pace.2) Enjoy running with other runners.

Number one was super easy. Places like Steamboat Springs were made to hike, run and enjoy. Number two has posed me problems in the past. I like to zone out and talk to God  when I run. Having other people pull me out of my thoughts has been a struggle for me before, but on this day it was easy. Of course, it helped that I was running with amazing ladies. I enjoyed the conversations and was a bit awed to be running with one of my two favorite athletes in the world.

By the time I reached the 3rd aid-station, I was feeling amazing. Happy and fresh and ready to run. The only mishap I had was missing a turn coming down the technical Fish Creek trail. This is my problem on trails. I get happy and start to feel good and zone out and get lost. Will I ever learn to pay more attention to directions? Lucky for me, Becky saw me hiking around in the bushes and yelled to me that the turn was up there. Back up I went. 😉

After a quick shoe change, I was heading down the road to Olympian. I still have not decided if I ran this section too hard. It felt good, but I had two 7:01 miles on this road, and my slowest mile was under 7:30. I’ll need to think about this more. But I didn’t feel like I was pushing it.

At Olympian, I ate, grabbed my pack and was off for the Lane of Pain, headed towards Cow Creek aid-station. The hills on this section where enjoyable. Lots of up and then up and down, followed by a nice twisty single track of down into Cow Creek (mile 31ish). Unfortunately for me, I started to feel pretty bad shortly before reaching Cow Creek.

At Cow Creek I ate and left. Sure I felt bad, but I was hoping it would pass soon. Pam Smith caught up to me maybe 2miles or less after Cow Creek. I told here to go ahead and pass me. She said she would, if she was really feeling it. 🙂 For me, the trip back to Olympian was back at an enjoyable, relaxed pace. I didn’t push it at all. Pam decided to run the jeep road in (about 4 miles fr Olympian) and invited me to go with her. I let her get out of sight, and then picked up the pace. With maybe 2 miles to go on this jeep road, I flipped my light on and…oh no…a gate. Bummer! I ran down a steep steep hill that I shouldn’t have. Nothing to do but go back up. So up I went. At the top of the hill, a tortoise angel yelled at me to head down to my (now) left. I did, and soon reached Olympian for the 2nd time.

An orange Amp and back up the road. I was feeling tired, but really good for having run over 40 miles in the mountains. Still, no 7 min miles this time. 😉

At Fish Creek, I ate a LOT, put on my little iPod and was ready to climb! The climb up was super great. I enjoyed the music and cool (yet not cold) air. My legs felt good again, and I ran as soon as I could. I ran right into a thick, cold mud puddle that sucked one shoe off. I tried to catch my balance by sticking my other foot into the puddle, but it was too late. I went down with a splash. My first thoughts were of blisters and numb feet. But before I could panic, I was laughing. Hard. I am grateful my personality is such that I laugh out loud when I fall on my @$$ in the cold mud. This year, I packed drop bags for Long and Summit Lake, so I knew I could get dry socks and shoes, even shorts if I needed to. As it turned out, my feet felt better cold and wet (no numbing, but the foot pain was less) then they had dry. I kept my wet shoes and socks on and continued to splash in random mud puddles.

At Long Lake (2nd time there), I drunk some coke, grabbed food, took off my wet shirt, put on my wind/rain jacket and left for Summit Lake. It was a walk/ jog for me, but I was feeling good mentally and happy to be out there. When I reached summit Lake, Pam was leaving. She told me she was done. But I new better. Pam isn’t the pack it in type. I saw how bad she felt at Western in 2012 and she still finished. This lady is tough. I told her I knew she would feel better soon as I passed her. About 7 miles later, she passed me back for the last pass of the race. 😉

Somewhere in this section of the run (on the way to Dry Creek), I lost my mental game. I’m not sure exactly what happened. I think the biggest was me thinking Dry Creek was 5 miles from the last aid station (Wrong! Over7…bad planing on my part). Another mistake I made was not turning my iPod back on when the play list ended. Not sure why I waited to restart it, other then it was raining a lot on this stretch and I though the aid was closer. I also had to stop and pee for the 3rd time since mile 40, which is annoying. These are all small things, and the fact that these (along with a couple other little things, like my headlamp dying) knocked me out of race mode shows my naive, weak, brain and preparation. I kept thinking I’d get it back. But my brain wouldn’t get ramped up again. I was in no way close to dropping, but my mental race game was over. It really sucked. I saw how hard those other girls were working and I’d think to myself, “You can work harder, come on and go!” But then I found myself walking just seconds later. It was frustrating. I was so tired (more so mentally, then in the legs). It was like I was missing the “GO!” piece of me. But I knew I was finishing this thing!!

When I got back to Dry Creek,  my GPS said 77.1 miles. Darn to me for being so good at getting off course! I knew my GPS would die soon, and I had no back up watch. I ate, drank, and left for the long climb back to Summit Lake. This section wasn’t too bad. I mostly walked it and enjoyed my music. When my GPS died, I tried to count songs to measure time. That didn’t work. I tried to just go and not think about time. This did not work for me. This sucked. I went back to counting songs, but kept losing track. Then the sun came up, and I was happy to turn off my lights.

Leaving my lights and GPS in my drop bag at Summit Lake, I grabbed pancakes and bacon, along with a Coke, and walked on. Mostly I walked. Some I jogged. Lots I splashed, on purpose, in the mud puddles. That part was still fun. 🙂

When I reached Long Lake for the 3rd time, the 50 mile runners where coming thru. I took off my rain jacket, put my cap-sleeves on and asked the time. 8:30 they said. And 6 miles to the next (and last!!) aid. OK, I am almost done!! I started crying and walked on.

Here is where I almost went insane. I am not sure how many times it happened, but I was hallucinating aid-stations. I would think I was seeing a tent up ahead thru the trees, but it was rocks and tress…no tent. Over and over again. I was out of food and water. I was hungry and tired. And I had no clue how long it had been since I left the last aid-station. The course, thankfully, was well marked, because I thought many times I must be lost. I was not lost. I was just mentally gone. Never again will I do that to myself. I will always put watches in my drop bags so that I can look and see the time when I’m running for a day.

Finally, I got to the last aid-station!! WOOHOO!!!! I ate TONS, drank broth, refilled my bottle and asked the time. 10:15 they said. Ok!! I think I can break 24hrs I told them. A big thank you, and it’s down the mountain for the last 6 miles to the finish. It was steep, slippery and painful, but I was too close to the finish line to walk. I ran and ran and ran and wished I knew how long I’d been running and then, finally, it was over. Finally. I finished in 23:12:35, 6th female, 14th finisher and I was happy. I didn’t have any expectations going into this race. I mean, I know I am fast, but I know I am also inexperienced. I know I am, indeed, a very good athlete (if NOTHING like Nikki !!!), but so where a lot of other gals there. I feel like I ran very well, yet I know I ran well below my potential. I want so bad to learn to run with a bigger drive then I did at Run Rabbit. I have so much to learn, and I hope that someday I can run a 100 and feel like I really ran with all I have. For me, that is much easier to do in a 100k. But I’m not quitting yet. 😉