Race Schedule

2014 Races…Still TBDStill :)
Bike MS 100M ride (UT - June) 8:h:40m
Speedgoat 50k (UT - July 19) 9h:34m:26s


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Leadville Training Update #2

So remember in my last post about my Leadville training, I stated that I need to remind myself that those aches and twinges are likely nothing?  Well there are three things I will not play around with: hamstrings, bone pain and the achilles.  If you eff around with those and don't let them recover, you can end up side-lined a lot longer than if you had just listened to your body in the first place.  I decided to listen in on Friday, finally. 

My long run the Saturday prior produced a funky achilles pain I had never felt before and after some quick stretching I was good to go, but I didn't forget about it.  I paid attention to it in the following five days and decided maybe I should take it easy since it was still really tight.  Perhaps it was a rash move, but I decided on Friday night that I would not be running any legs of the Beer Run 100 with my fellow CHUGs, but would instead play crew for the race.  That pissed me off and set me off on the wrong foot to start the weekend, as I had really been looking forward to running this one.  But, by about sunrise on Saturday morning as I sat in the truck at some unmarked intersection in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin waiting for our 100 mile runners to make it into the checkpoint, I decided I was very happy with my decision.  I made a mental note that I would be taking the next seven days off of running and focus on pool running and cycling to give my achilles a rest.  I laid out a plan in my mind and that's all it took.  I also kept ice on the leg for 10 minutes every hour much of the day, stretched like nobody's business and generally enjoyed the experience and helping three peeps finish their 100 mile adventure (this being a first 100 mile run for two of our runners!).

Sunday, after waking up in the rain in a muddy campsite, swarming with enormous mosquitos, Geof and I drove home and immediately snapped to it cleaning the truck, unpacking, hand-cleaning all of our camping gear (what a task!), watering the plants, lifting weights and then heading out for an hour bike ride around Northerly Island. 

Monday, I headed down to the pool for an hour pool run.  I have been saying for almost a year now that if I can run 100 miles I can do anything.  But now I have a new qualifier: if I can run in the pool, essentially in the same spot, for a full hour, with NO MUSIC, I can do anything!  It was a very good workout...now if only I were as fast on land as I am running in the pool :)

Tuesday, I grabbed Geof's road bike (I still have yet to replace my kickass bike that was stolen almost two years ago...!) and headed out for an early a.m. 12 mile bike ride around Northerly Island.  I did intervals around the 1.4 mile loop and my quads and hams were burnin' before I was done!  Awesome ride.

Today, I went back down to the pool and did a new workout for 30 minutes.  As soon as someone new learns I'm training for Leadville, the most common question is "how do you train for altitude?"  Well, since I don't have two spare weeks to spend at altitude leading up to the race, I'm working on raising my VO2 max as much as possible, in order to be more efficient at altitude, and found a good link here with simple workouts to help boost your VO2 max.  So easy, even I can do it :)  I have used the 30/30 concept a handful of times before, not realizing what it was, and really like it, so once I'm back running I'll pick that up again.  Today, however, I applied the 30/30 concept to my pool run: 30 seconds sprinting hard enough that I was gasping for air, followed by 30 seconds of easy recovery.  Bam!  That made the pool run fly by!

Earlier this week, I saw my podiatrist again, Dr. Chin, for a follow-up on the nodule on my left plantar fascia.  It's much better!  I mentioned my achilles issue.  He checked it out and then decided it is most likely from tight calves, and agreed with me that it's also due to no longer having the extra heel lift from wearing orthotics all the time.  So he gave me 1/8" heel pads to wear in my flat day-to-day shoes to take a little strain off the achilles, and a ProStretch doodad for some excellent calf stretching.  Things are already looking up.

On another note, there's a new holiday for us trail runners to celebrate...the 2nd Annual National Trail Running Day is set for August 21, 2010!  This works out perfect for moi as that's the same day as Leadville 100, so you can bet I'll be observing this most illustrious of trail holidays :)  The website has a list of events being held that day, as well as trail running resources.  A big thanks to Chris Barber at Serious Running for the information!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leadville Training Update

Oh come ON, give me some credit, of course I'm going to train for this one :-) 

Leadville is a bit of a grandaddy of hundred mile races, at least in my limited experience thus far.  So, I'm paying my dues and respecting the distance as much as I can possibly fathom.  I've learned lots of good stuff in my first two hundred mile finishes: I can 'get by' with low mileage; I can run through pain, intense discomfort and mental turmoil; I can bust out my fastest splits 90 miles into a race; power naps are one of the best ways to reenergize; running while sleeping is doable, but highly UNrecommended; I need to wear a light around my head and my waist to avoid feeling pukey; "drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry, walk before you're tired."  Yada yada. 

But, Leadville is a whole 'nother ball game.  The things I've gotten away with thus far aren't really going to fly this time around.  So, that means I need to approach this whole Race Across The Sky a little differently than in previous races.  While I'm still running relatively low mileage (maxing out at 60mpw), it's still much higher than what I did going into Vermont and Rocky Raccoon.  I'm also now following an honest-to-goodness training plan, courtesy of the ever wonderful, Geof Dunmore.  I'm also taking a page from his book in posting a training update.  Perhaps this will make me feel even more motivated than I already am?

Well, so far so good.  Training started in earnest at the end of May.  Though we've been running consistently prior to the plan beginning, it was just very unstructured. 

Structure.  Now there's a concept.  One which I seem to have avoided in just about all of my running.  I can't fully explain the cool Excel spreadsheet, complete with forumlas and periodization, that Geof made, but it's totally rockin.  I love checking off the miles as I get them in and watching the weekly and monthly totals climb skyward in my Running Ahead log.  Checking each night to see what I have lined up for the next day creates this pull for me, a need to get out there and do it. 

My heart.  I've been running with a heart rate monitor for just about every run now to make sure I'm staying within my arbitrary HR zone (220 minus my age, then working at 60-85% of my max HR; I'm curious what my actual HR zone is, though...I should get that tested).  It's interesting.  Clearly, I was working way outside of my 'zone' before I started wearing the monitor (it's either my Garmin 305 or a Polar, by the way)!  Now I closely watch where I'm at and adjust accordingly.  Humid days, I may as well walk, or crawl, my HR goes through the roof!

My feet.  A few weeks ago I noticed a nodule on the bottom of my left foot.  Weird.  It didn't hurt, but I knew it wasn't supposed to be there.  I noticed that my orthotics irritated it, so I took them out of my running shoes and have been running sans orthotics ever since (I was already kind of fazing them out anyhow).  I decided to get it checked out to make sure I wasn't going to make things worse with my increased running.  Dr. Chin at The Running Institute checked everything out, did some gait anayses, played with my orthotics, checked my shoes, then decided to do some ultrasound on my foot to get to the bottom of my mystery.  The result: I have a bruised plantar fascia.  Poor little guy.  Know what caused it?  My orthotics.  Long story short, the left arch was too high, essentially punching the fascia everytime my foot hit the ground, and over time this caused the little nodule I now have.  Fancy that!  I noticed after long runs that my left arch always felt bruised from the orthotic, but never thought much of it.  Not only that, but he thinks it's the cause of all that crazy peroneal tendinitis I was dealing with for so long.  The best part, everything feels amazing now that I've stopped using the inserts.  Hopefully, it stays that way.  In an effort to make the transition smoother, I've been doing lots of lower leg and foot strengthening exercises.  I would LOVE to not have to wear those things again :)  Per doctor's orders, I've been applying arnica ice to my foot a few times a day to help with the healing process.  It smells really nice :)

My legs.  It's a funny thing, increasing mileage, intelligently.  While there are random aches and owies here and there, they seem to go away within the day, and the next day it's something new.  Me being me (meaning, borderline hypochondriac when it comes to my running...hey, no laughing!) I have to remind myself (and Geof finds himself reminding me as well) that it's probably nothing.  Things are going to ache, I'm running a lot more than I ever have.  My body is learning how to deal with it all and manage the increased load.  I do get squirrly when I feel anything less than awesome in the achilles area, though, gives me the heeby jeebies.  I am finding that I am recovering faster though.  A day I cover 14-15 miles in two runs also seems to be far more beneficial than doing the full 14-15 in one shot.  My body appreciates the recovery between those two runs :)

My body.  I do feel stronger than I ever have before.  Through all the PT exercises I do for my hips, core and balance, I feel like I'm armed with all the right tools to tackle Leadville properly.  And that feels good my friends.

This was fun!  I should do this again sometime.  I think this is the first time I've ever posted any kind of training anything...  Thus far, I've put in 159.4 miles in the last 30 days, including having my highest mileage (non-race) week ever, at a whopping 51.6 miles.  Feels goooooooood.

Crash, out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Running To My Youth

Remember when you were growing up and you had summers off from school and obligations, and all you had to worry about were doing your chores, and making it home before sundown?  Reward for completed chores in our house was dessert...picking out our favorite color Pop-Ice Popsicle after dinner and then sitting out on the back porch to savor its sugary bliss as it melted down our hand, forearm, and ultimately took up residence in our laps.  Ah, summers of yore.  Watermelon seed-spitting contests and tree climbing time trials with siblings were an everyday thing, as were racing up and down the block on a rusted-out tricycle while my older brother smoked me on his rusted-out banana seat bicycle until the sun went down.

That's what summers were like growing up.  I also remember whenever we had a warm summer rain shower, a few of us would huddle under the back porch overhang daring each other to run out into the now muddy backyard and play in the rain when mom wasn't looking ("No playing in the yard when there's lightening or thunder!"). 

I loved playing in the rain. 


Doesn't this little guy look happy?!

The other night, Geof and I headed out for our second run of the day, looking for an easy five miles.  As we stepped out onto the street, the drizzle began and it felt a little cooler than it was when we got home an hour earlier.  We're not going to let a little water get in the way of our run :)

As we made our way under Lake Shore Drive and headed south on the path, the rain picked up, pounding straight down on us.  Feeling warmer we started to laugh and enjoy the sloppy mess we were running through.  The path was almost entirely clear of people as we hoot-n-hollered, splashing in all the big puddles, laughing all the while.  This was FUN!  Rounding the curve below the Shedd Aquarium, the drainage pipes were bursting with water, drowning the lower path, and Geof plowed through each one, shouting as he went, "woohoo!"  I was getting a stitch in my side from laughing so much.  At the turn around, we headed back and marveled in how much fun we were having.  Each puddle brought a surge of warm summery water into my shoes, squishing between my toes, not to mention the monsoon-like rain falling from above.

Almost home, we cut through the park across from our apartment.  The park has these decorative fountains that shoot water out in big arcs down wide, decorative stairs.  Geof ran through the fountains and I followed suit, feeling like a kid again!  I always wanted to run through those :)  Walking back into the lobby, we squished and squirted with each step, soaked completely through. 

What stress?  What woes?  What sore muscles?  I felt renewed.

Never underestimate the healing powers of a good run in the rain :)

Crash, out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Super Bowl of Ultrarunning

I'm not a bettin' woman, but I'm so pumped about this year's Western States 100 that I decided to partake in a little wager (of course, this doesn't involve me putting any money down on anything, or even winning any moola, but if I won it would be pretty sweet bragging rights!).

I've put in my choices for top 8 men and top 8 women overall finishers for the race, taking place on June 26 and 27, beginning in Squaw Valley, CA and ending in Auburn, CA.  I can't wait to see what happens!  I won't share who I picked (and did not pick), but I feel pretty confident about who's going to win, and who is going to drop out at mile 81 due to "dehydration" :)

If you are intrigued and decide you'd like to do some predicting of your own, check out iRunFar's latest contest:

Western States 100 Prediction Contest

It's like Big Ten brackets...for ultrarunners :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hopping on the (Cross) Train


Somehow I managed to go over my weekday planned mileage this week (that's a first for me!), so in the interest of saving myself for the long run tomorrow (20-30 miles) I decided to forego my run today.  Not an easy choice since I feel good and would have loved a little run this morning :)  Time for a little change-up.

Instead, I suited up and headed down to the pool for the first time in a good long while!  I haven't done a lick of cross-training since starting my Leadville training...and easily since April, oops.

I dusted off my one-piece Speedo, circa 2004...this is the first time I've ever worn it.  I liked the one piece a lot better than the Speedo tankini I had been wearing, no yanking necessary :)  So I warmed up with some half-drowning laps of whatever would keep my head above water the most, then clipped on the Aquajogger and took to the deep end.  I like doing speedwork in the pool, makes me feel productive :)  Since I had limited time today, I just did 4x2 minutes of fast-as-I-could-move water running, back and forth across the deep end, then recover for one minute and let the HR drop below beating-out-of-my-chest.  Once I finished all that funness, I 'cooled' down (yea, I actually could feel myself breaking a sweat in the friggin' pool!) with some relaxed laps.

Twenty minutes in all.  Felt good moving in a different way, and I actually enjoyed being in the pool again! 

Remember back when I was on the DL and I promised I would keep up with the cross-training once I got back to running?  Funny how we sell our souls when we're injured, but are so quick to forget about it once we're back on the trail.  Baby steps.  Maybe I'll think about going over my mileage again next week so that I can take a 'rest' day at the end of the week and go for a little swim.  Who knows, it could happen; lightening has indeed struck twice before :-)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

KM100: A Study in the Art of Attrition

This is going to be a little different than just a typical crew's point of view.   It's more of an observation of the whole experience from the other side and how it felt to be there.
 Getting the down low on Ed's nutrition and supplies

This past weekend's running of the Kettle Moraine 100 up in Wisconsin was an experience that few, if any, of us anticipated. Running ultras requires one to be prepared to expect the unexpected, ready to deal with a complete change in circumstances at the drop of a hat. Or, end their race.

This weekend, I was an outsider looking in, observing the mental and emotional slaughtering of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of runners. This year's race (a true "runners' race") produced a 33% finishing rate. Only 51 out of the 155 starters in the 100 mile run actually finished. Whoa, what is this, Leadville?!

The day started out benign enough. Warm (mid 60s I think), humid, no wind, and a little bit of sun, but mostly thinly overcast. Rain, however, was in the cards, but it was unclear when that would begin. Chatter about the 2008 KM100 fluttered about each aid station..."Remember 2008? That was horrible." "2008 was the worst year ever here." "You couldn't pay me to relive this race in '08!" Apparently, this year rivaled 2008 for "Worst."

Ed was running well ahead of his 25 hour plan,
 Ed coming into Bluff Rd.

Leslie was all smiles and a ball of enthusiasm on the trail,
 Les, just before the Start, all nerves and smiles!

Michael was moving like a freight train with his eyes steady on the prize.
 Michael, coming into Emma Carlin AS for the first time

It's so weird to look back and see how good it was, now knowing how it was going to turn out.

The day was great for those of us crewing.  We hung with Bill (supporting Leslie) and then Ben, Sarah and Brian showed up, so we had a whole CHUG contingent supporting our guys and gal out there.  I know how much it means to have people out there cheering you on, helping you out, and there is nowhere else I'd have rather been.  Ed and Michael are hundred mile veterans many times over, but this was Leslie's first go of it.  I wasn't really sure what to expect from her, but I knew she had a tough-as-nails streak in her.  Watching her come into aid station after aid station, smiling and exclaiming, "I am having so much FUN!" was so inspiring.  She was trucking along, doing very well, moving conservatively and keeping her head about her.  I found myself feeling a bit maternal more than a few times for some reason (and we're the same age!).  It was so freakin' cool to be witnessing her mission and knowing exactly what she was going through much of the time. 

In the end, Ed decided to drop at 100k for medical reasons far beyond his control.  It was a tough decision for him and one he really hated having to make, but if he continued, it would have been too risky.  Proud of you, Ed, you did the right thing!  What a fun guy to crew for.  Geof kept on him about finishing a bottle of his Perpetuem every 4 hours, borderline nagging, but all in good fun and for good reason.  Once he finally made it through a bottle, he came into the aid station, tossed the empty bottle to Geof and announced, "F**# you, I finished it!"  All smiles.  Classic Ed, and totally hilarious. 

Michael was out with the goal of simply finishing.  He had some DNFs he wanted to forget about, and KM was his mission.  Brian drove up to pace him the last 38 miles.  Seeing him cross the finish line, we knew it was no easy task, but he did it!  He had tried to drop a few times out on the course, but Brian made a really smart move, he put the decision entirely on Michael's shoulders.  "Do what you want.  It's your decision, not mine."  Apparently, this was enough to keep him moving, for better or for worse.  Michael was our sole CHUG finisher this day from what I can tell.  After Ed dropped, Geof and I stuck around and helped support Leslie, and then hung at the finish once she dropped so that we could cheer in Michael and the last of the runners.  I'm SO glad we stayed.

Leslie pushed and pushed through some nasty conditions and some seriously mentally and emotionally challenging sections.  Unbelievable to watch her do this.  She was pushing to get out of aid stations, she didn't need any of us to remind her to get moving.  In and out of those so fast, impressive!  Towards the final 20 miles, she was concerned about cutoffs and inquired about them each time.  But we held steady for her and kept her assured she was fine.  After making it 86 miles, she decided it was enough, it just wasn't her day.  It was a tough decision for her and it was written all over her face how hard that was to do; I was a little choked up because I was so set on her finishing, but I also knew she was doing the right thing for her.  While she was disappointed with her decision, she was already talking about coming back next year for her revenge.  That's the spirit!!
 
Runners were dropping as early as 21 miles, but the bulk of it happened at the 100k mark (Nordic) where the draw of getting a 100k credit for the day was far more appealing to the majority of the 100 mile runners than was heading back out into the dark forest and heavy downpour. I overhead one guy exclaim, "not even God could convince me to go back out there!"

It was sad, humbling, sobering, eye opening...to watch the breakdown of so many runners, tired of the blinding rain, and subsequent cold front that moved through the southern Kettle Moraine. But for those that pushed through the tough conditions and kept at it, the reward of finishing was far greater than I think they ever anticipated it being.  We observed boatloads of drops, asking a volunteer where they could turn in their chip, "At Nordic," then asking how to get back there quickly, and then watching as they walked off, up the road, heads dropped, shoulders sunk, but moving as if they hadn't been running over 10, 15, 20 hours.  If only some held out until the rain let up, it would have been a great race for many more, but there was no way of knowing when the rain would end.  I was just an outsider looking in, watching as the attrition rate rose higher and higher.  I'm not sure how I would have handled the day, but seeing how so many others did I was reminded yet again of just how incredibly mental running 100 miles is...your mind needs to be just as sharp and strong as your legs and lungs.  Not to mention all the other things that can go wrong when you spend 5, 6, 7 hours running in the rain and mud puddles.

As Geof and I stood at the finishline waiting for the final runners to come in, I looked around us and thought...almost 30 hours ago 155 runners stood right here with high hopes, huge smiles, butterflies, and dreams of running 100 miles. They had no idea what the day would hold for them, but they were all here to run, expecting to finish. 
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed runners at the start!

The last of the runners trickled in, oozing with emotion and exhaustion.

The last woman to cross the line of her first 100M run brought everyone to tears as her pacer threw up the runner's arm in victory across the line (I'm getting goose bumps remembering it!) and she broke down in her husband's arms, completely overcome. Even Timo, the RD, couldn't hold back the rush of emotions we all felt for her. It was incredible, and a testament to the enormity of the accomplishment.  Geof overhead Timo say that he really actually enjoyed the outcome in some small way...it gave others the chance to win or place in their age group when they normally would not have.  He was so proud of everyone who finished that day, and it was supremely inspiring.

What an amazing experience, and I wasn't even the runner this time! This is one for the books and an experience that has renewed my enjoyment and love of our sport (not that I needed it). Even for those that pushed through the terrible weather to keep running into the starry, rain-free night but didn't make it to the finish, I salute them. They kept going when so many others did not and suffered through until there was nothing left to give. Absolutely amazing, and this whole experience makes me really proud to be apart of it all.

Crash, out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tour-un

Geof: "What's on your schedule for Sunday?" 
Me: "Mmm, 16.8 I think." 
Geof: "Perfect, 17 miles.  I can show you around town, really give you the grand tour!"

A running tour.  Is there any question why I find this guy so wonderful?! :)
Time check: 8:05 a.m.  Temp check: 81 degrees, going up to almost 90.  Sun?  Oh you betcha!  Humidity?  Not too bad.

Turning right out of the Coralville Holiday Inn we head over "Super 80" and into town to begin our tour.  Through a construction zone (no sidewalks!) and past the bagel bakery he used to work at in college.  Onto the main strip through town and heading for city proper.  Over some hills that make my lungs cry mercy, down the other side making my knees beg and plead.  Down a winding road, across from a golf course, dotted with older condos and apartment buildings, "I lived on the second floor.  And did speed work on the track over there.  I did my laundry at that laundromat."  I smile and take it in, imagining what life was like here so many years ago, so long before I knew him.  I love thinking about that for some reason.  I'm very nostalgic :)

The heat is already getting to me and I'm wishing I had more than just two bottles of liquid.  Only a few miles into our run, and my stomach starts square dancing.  Quick stop at the gas station and I'm good to go.  Eff, it's hot!  The A/C in the store felt so good.  Why am I having such a rough go of it already?  Man, I would expire if I was running Badwater; this heat is nothin'! 

Up another long tough hill, totally exposed to the sun.  Sweat dripping, breathing hard, silent.  Along a tree-lined street that reminds me of home, "I always used to run down this street for some reason; I just love it."  Wave hello to a man pushing a running stroller.  Yards bursting with well-manicured color and tidy houses.  "That's the park I was walking Kada in when I met that author."  Over a bridge and past the football stadium, "Go Hawkeyes!"  Turn down another shaded street and down a winding sidewalk to railroad tracks.  Five minutes pass and the freight train is still moving slowly.  "Wanna hop the train?" ;)  "Let's turn around and go back; we can get under the tracks a mile back."  Back where we came from, past the stadium again...you can almost hear a roaring crowd and feel the electricity of a big game.  I now see why alums keep coming back here.

Legs are heavy, feel like sandbags.  I think it got hotter!  Running out of water, "I've got goose bumps, can we find a fountain?  I think I saw one on the Ped Mall last night."  Up and down and up and down, this city is hilly!  Down Greek row: frat house lawns covered in beer cans, old furniture and remnants of nights' passed; sorority houses sit perfect and dainty on their lawns, waiting to wake up and start gossiping.  Past another older building, "That was my first apartment ever!"  Rounding the corner, I finally recognize an area.  Making our way to the Ped Mall, I spot a water fountain, "Bam!"  We fill up, glance at the watches..."miles to go before we sleep..."

Past a few more spots he used to live and skirting campus, we find ourselves crossing the River and make our way through a park, "Welcome to 5k alley!"  Pointing to a large pavilion, "Rob and Tom used to host a race here and they did the awards ceremony over there."  I can totally imagine it :)  Leaving the park on the other side, we pass a woman walking her dog, she states flatly, "I think it's a little warm to be out jogging."  Ppff.  Past a driveway entering the park, he points, "That was a water stop.  I used to help the store with Sunday morning runs when the owner needed a weekend off.  I had to get up really early to put out all the water stops.  I'd just throw everything in my truck and go.  I don't know why, but I loved doing that!"

:)  I love that.

Trying to focus, trying to not think about my lead legs, or aching stomach; trying not to think about my training schedule and what I need to do tomorrow.  How about some mind games?  "It's totally not hot today.  In fact, I think it's a little chilly out, brrrr!"  Okay, that's not working.  Only six more miles to go...and it's so hilly!  We head back towards the hotel, and after a couple of my melodramatic outbursts that he has learned to just let pass unnoticed, we crest the butt-kicking hill back over "Super 80".  "Not quite 16 miles yet...do you want to stop here or finish it up?"  I clench my jaw and look away from the hotel as we pass it so as not to be tempted, "Let's finish it up."  So thirsty, so tired, so hot.  I just want to be done running right now.  The last mile stretches forever, winding through a lovely little neighborhood.  And, finally, we turn around and head back.  Almost done.  My legs are going to give out.  I exclaim, "How the hell have we run a hundred miles before?  More than once?!" 

And we're back.  Oh glorious air conditioning, cold shower and chocolate Ensure.  Done.

"Man, that was uncomfortable...  But, then again, isn't that why we do it?  To push through the discomfort and come out the other side, left with the memory of the struggle and knowing we got through it?" 
"Yep."
"We're crazy."

I highly recommend doing a running tour the next time you're in a new place and want the lay of the land.  I also highly recommend Iowa City...it's gorgeous.

Crash, out.

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