Race Schedule

2014 Races…Still TBD :)
Bike MS 100M ride (UT - June)
Speedgoat 50k (UT - July 19)

And plenty more!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cobwebs

Cobwebs.  They are everywhere.  Quiet corners, between the rafters in the basement, the spokes of my bike, my legs, this blog, my brain :)

It's time for some spring cleaning, and the cobwebs are the first to go.

To start, I reintroduced 'speed' into my running diet this past Wednesday.  Bethany invited me to join her and some ladies for a first installment of group trail speed work.  My heart responded before my brain could catch up, and I said yes :)  I'm really glad I did.  While I was operating far beyond my current scope of practice, it felt good to get my tush handed to me, repeatedly, and fantastically.

We were meeting up east of the U, on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail early evening, and in a moment of pure thoughtlessness I decided I would run the two miles there as a warm-up.

I forgot to factor in the fact that it's two miles of all uphill.  Every step, uphill.  And it was at the end of a long day.  'Oh well, it will be a nice downhill cool down on the way back home.'  At least the weather was perfect (in the 70s) and the sun was casting a nice glow over the mountains.

My legs weren't as lead-y as I feared they might feel, but they definitely had zero spunk in them.  I knew what I was getting into running with B, but I didn't realize I was actually going to be the only slow person in the group.  That was silly of me ;)  I must have forgotten where I was!

I arrived right on time, and last, which would be the theme of the evening.  And I was totally okay with that.  We did an easy 15 minute warm-up north, and then began the butt-kicking.  A progression run was on tap (something I had never even heard of before this) of 3, 5, 7, 5, 3 minutes, with half-time recovery between each set.  It was to be entirely self-paced, and we would regroup on the recoveries.  We were to aim for 1/2 marathon race pace.

Inside I died a little, but in a good way.  I had bitten off far more than I could chew, but I was absolutely tickled to be participating.  It was exactly what I needed.

I was immediately dropped like a bad habit, and at first I felt awkward, but then I thought, 'Whatever, who cares.  This is all I have today.'  I just hoped the others wouldn't be annoyed by my lackluster performance.  We kept to the lower trails and ran loops, easing our way south before heading north again.  Hills, rocks, amazing views.  I can honestly say I have never done speed work on a trail before. And, I can honestly say I haven't done speed work since October, 2013.  AND, I can honestly count on my two hands the number of times I have done speed work in my entire life.  Out of my element?  You could say that.

But you can't grow as a runner if you don't step outside of your comfort zone and get a little uncomfortable every now and again.  I could have received Olympic gold for the record-breaking long jump I did outside of my comfort zone.

This was also only the second time I've been on the trail since our race at Rio Del Lago 100 back in early November.  I know, it's terrible.  My name is Paige, and I have been a road runner all winter long (*Hi Paige*).  Then I had a respiratory ailment earlier this year, then I have school that takes up all my time, blah, blah, blah.

So I had a lot going against me.  A lot of excuses I fought to not share, to at least relieve myself of some of the guilt I had over my performance.

Everyone was awesome.  On the recoveries, they would turn back to meet with me, and then we would stick together until the next push.  That made me feel good, and they were all great sports.  So, thank you for that :)  I started to feel the push by the seven minute interval and I got all goose-bumpy and flushed feeling (which has always been the cue for me to ease back), so I did and that worked marvelously.  It just meant I was even slower now.  But, nothing like a fainting runner to really bring the mood down, and there was no way I was going to do that to myself.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was just getting back into it.  To not get down on myself.

We wrapped it up after a nice and easy cool down back to where we started and we headed in different directions.  I took it really easy getting back home, and by the time I got to the front door, I felt amazing.  My legs were completely spent, I had almost 10 miles under my belt (which, by the way, is a "long run" right now!), and I was ravenous.  That's a good feeling.  I missed that feeling :)

Hopefully, this will be a weekly thing.  It is exactly what I need.  Feels good to punish the legs again, and to do something that completely overrides anything school-related.  I was working hard enough that there wasn't a single thought of school in that hour.  It was almost a little meditative.

Cobwebs are feisty, but if you keep at it you can keep them away.  Lots more work to do, and I like it.

Paige, out.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back, But Mostly Looking Ahead

This time last year, I was closing things out with 2,140.6 running miles and 403 hours.  This year, I didn't have a particular goal in mind, other than shooting for averaging 200 miles per month for as long as I could.  I somehow managed to do that for 9 months this year.  Booya.

Soooooo, the final numbers are…2,227.8 running miles and 403 hours, highest yearly mileage to date.  Same amount of time, but 82.5 miles more?  Hmmmm, definitely did not think I ran faster this year, but I suppose I did after all :)

I like to keep track of these numbers here so that I can look back and remember that I wasn't as lazy as I managed to feel.  We barely raced this year (relatively speaking), but I stayed very focused on maintaining fitness and getting out to run most days, especially once school started up.  I'll pat myself on the back for that.

Looking ahead to this coming year…I can't believe tomorrow is a new year…I am changing my running focus.

I'm laying down the gauntlet.

Rather than focusing on distance I am going to focus on speed.  With school taking up as much time as it does, and then clinical rotations beginning late spring, I'm not going to dedicate the kind of time I'd like to dedicate to training for long distance.  BUT, I can certainly handle short distance and speed work.  I'm setting my sights on the half marathon distance.  The prospect of training for a short race has me positively giddy!  I've only ever run one half marathon race, back in 2008 (right before running my first 50k), arriving at the finish line in around 2:01.  Then I PR'd the distance in 1:46 while running my PR marathon (3:39) back in 2011.

I can do better than that.  And I will.

I'm setting my sights on a 1:35 half marathon.  I have written down a list of possible races, and once I decide on one I will post it here for accountability.  That's the only way my goals become reality.  Accountability.

While discussing it with Geof during dinner last night, he threw down.  "You can run faster than that; shoot for 1:30!"  I think I originally proposed 1:40, which would, in retrospect, be a garbage and easily attainable goal (too easy).  I bargained, and we agreed on 1:35.  It's just enough outside of my comfort zone without being anxiety-inducing :)  It'll hurt just enough to let me know I'm doing something, but not so much that I hate it.

Always set goals just a teensy bit outside your capabilities; those are the goals that make you work and push you to new limits.

I love this!!  I've been feeling pretty meh about running lately and I came up with this idea during yesterday's run.  I'm a person who needs a focus, a goal.  I know this about myself.  If I let myself go too long without a focus I begin to drift and then it's really hard to get back on track.  So the powers that be threw me a lifeline and offered up this idea.  I began doing fartleks halfway through my short run yesterday, feeling the drive and excitement creeping in as my idea grew upon itself.

I love goals!

In an effort not to overwhelm myself, that is the only solid racing goal I will be setting at this point.  I figure it's good enough for now.  We have other plans that will hopefully fill the year up... :)

Ahhhhh, that feels good to write (i.e. type) down.  Now I just need to formulate a training plan…

I hope you all have a fabulous last day of 2013, and all the best to you in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Paige, out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Genius Of It All

I actually hesitated before posting this for the first time in my five years of blogging.  That's how I know I needed to post this.

Years are funny things.  They happen no matter what you do (e.g. I've been blogging for five years??  When did that happen?!).  Time moves by you sometimes in an instant, and other times it crawls at a crippling pace.  Sometimes we can move in stride with our time and other times we feel as though we have stumbled, tumbled, fumbled and fought to just brush our fingertips against it.


This last year has been about a lot of things, but the first half was mostly about getting into my program.  And the second half was mostly about staying afloat.  When this first semester ended I could literally and figuratively take a step back and examine the new ground gained in the battle, in addition to the wreckage left behind.  Sorry, that was a little dramatic :)  In the last year I have transformed into a new version of myself.  The vigor and hard work that I put into my running the last few years has been transplanted into my education.  My running is but a whisper of its former self, but I feel that I am better for it.  This blog is but a whisper of its former self as well :)  And for that, I apologize.  It weighs on me, but I know that this is a temporary lifestyle.  One year left and then I will begin the transformation into the next phase…re-entering the working world, and being the person I've wanted so badly to be.  It's going to fly by.  


Looking back on the last year, it has been rather exciting and profoundly satisfying in an extremely appropriate way.  Appropriate because it is exactly what I was hoping for and working towards.  While we didn't get out and race as much as we would have liked, the races we did run went very well and we enjoyed each experience.  Speedgoat 50k was hands down my most favorite of the lot because I was able to parlay hard work into a satisfying outcome, and I hope to head back there again in 2014.  Antelope Island will hopefully be in the cards again, as well as BoSho trail marathon and perhaps a few other shorter races.  I'll be scaling back considerably on the expectations for racing in 2014.  Once clinical rotations begin, I will be at the whim of that schedule and won't be able to manage much outside of that.  And that is okay with me.  It's just another 12 months.  I can do anything for 12 months :)  Plus, the end-goal achievement far outweighs the small sacrifices along the way (i.e. racing, bits of sanity, a proper diet, sleeping in, a restrictive budget) and I look forward to that day next December.  However, there is a whole lot of living to be had before then.


This post is going to take a slightly different route than initially intended.  I thought it was going to be about the last year and hopes for next year.  Sometimes free-form writing just does that…has a life of its own.  It has to do with disappointment, success, and perceived failure.


I think that I probably am viewed in a slightly inaccurate light by those that don't know me well.  I have a pretty good idea how others see me and I just want to take this opportunity to let you in on a secret: I have had many a failure and many a disappointment in my life, in addition to the successes.  


I was rejected by not one but two PTA programs before landing a spot in the program of my dreams.  Those were blessings in disguise.  Good luck telling me that back then, though.  I felt crushed and like a total schmuck.  I was downright embarrassed.  Am I not good enough? what did I do wrong? what could I have done differently? whywhywhy??  If I had gotten into either of those programs I would have been just fine, life would have worked out fine.  But then I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today.  It took another year and a half before I would finally land squarely on my feet (or my bum, as it were), sitting at our desk in the second bedroom of our new home in our new city, clicking on an e-mail typed in the most beautiful font I'd ever seen: the font of acceptance.  I felt redeemed, astonishingly grateful, emotional, and completely at a loss of words.  I squealed like a child, in an unearthly pitch that I didn't know I was capable of.  I did it!  It was a difficult process, but my hard work paid off, finally.  Five years of hard work to get to that moment, opening that type-written letter.  I'm seriously considering framing the official hard-copy letter I received a day later.  It was such a hard battle, and so seriously rewarding.


I was told by my 9th grade honors English teacher, in front of the entire class, that I was a 'bad writer' (her words, not mine), that my only saving grace was that I could come up with "really killer titles", and that was it.  I was a painfully shy kid.  That could have crushed me.  And it sort of did.  That comment followed me all the way into college when I finally had an instructor who convinced me I had a knack for the written word.  It was my middle eastern politics professor…she wanted to frame a paper I had written on Bosnia.  I took that as a compliment.  But that 9th grade teacher let something out of me that I didn't know was in me.  I was on a mission to prove her wrong, and while she will never know she was wrong, I know she was wrong and I'm better for it.  If only math instructors could have done the same thing for my lacking in the numbers world ;)  


I was once a radio DJ.  Did you know that?  I was, for five years.  Two and a half in Central Illinois, and another two and a half in Eastern North Carolina.  I was navigating the choppy and unsure waters of media fairly well and had my own midday show on a hard rock station, in addition to a gazillion other job titles within the radio group of six stations.  


I had never actually hyperventilated before.


One early spring day, when I was told that I was losing my time slot to an unsavory duo threatening to leave if they didn't get what they wanted, and that I would be pushed to nights, I accepted the news as diplomatically as I could muster.  I'm talking the whole nine yards: smiling, good posture, head-nodding, lots of "I understand"s and "thank you"s, blah blah blah.  I'm talking Oscar-worthy performance.  I then walked calmly outside and around to the back of the building which butted up against a grove of tall evergreens and a busy road.  I steadied myself with both hands against the concrete wall, and then I unraveled.  I was hyperventilating.  I didn't know that that was what was happening at first; it was slightly terrifying.  I crouched down, hands on knees, and I sobbed between gasps of air.  Holy s***, what just happened?  I felt like a complete failure, and a complete idiot.  Thankfully, I was alone out there and was able to feel the full force of the emotions rolling in like waves rather than trying to muffle them.  Maybe 10 minutes passed and then I gathered myself, went back inside and finished recording the commercials I was voicing for production.  Two weeks later I received a phone call in the on-air booth that completely changed the course of my life, and I suddenly knew the reason for things.  Everything happens for a reason, it just takes some time for the reasons to shake out and present themselves to you. But always trust that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out.


Four weeks later, I was packing up a moving truck with my mom, preparing to make the 21-hour drive to Chicago to begin my new job at a radio station I had interned at during college.  While creating a new position in the station, the General Manager remembered me and my work during my intern days and somehow managed to find me way out in NC.  I was offered the job and the rest is history.  


Obviously, I am not in radio anymore, and that's a whole 'nother story of disappointment followed by another phoenix-rising-out-of-ashes type thing.  Like I said, things always manage to work out.  Life is definitely like a choose-your-own-adventure book.  When you get to the bottom of a page, or end of a section, you are directed to choose between two options, each sending you off in different, unexpected directions.  If you were to trace the course of my life, for example, it would in no way represent a straight line.  It would look more like a tree, with a definitive beginning (the trunk) topped by layer upon layer of branches branching into new branches into new branches into new branches, going in all directions.


There are plenty of examples I could continue on with here, but I think you get the point.  I think I put off the vibe of being charmed or 'lucky', when in reality we are all one in the same.  I've worked my butt off to get to where I'm at; few things have ever just landed in my lap.  I've put in the time and the sweat and some things have paid off.  Sometimes things didn't pay off as I had hoped, but ultimately even those 'failures' have helped to pave the way.  I am who I am because of where I have been.  I regret not a single experience I have had because every experience I have had has gotten me to where I am now.


"Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." ~Marilyn Monroe


The PTA program I am in is the hardest thing I have ever done.  A lot of the last four months is  a blur as a result of the tunnel vision I had to have in order to do well.  I've honestly never worked so hard in my life.  I'm guessing I made it look easy judging by comments from peers, but trust me, it has been anything but.  Not everyone fared so well and as a result we will be short a few of my classmates next semester.  I do not know if they read this, but I want them to know that while it feels like crap and really, really sucks, everything happens for a reason.  Just give it a little time and the reason will become apparent.  Then pick yourself up and do the thing you know that needs to be done, whatever that may be.  


"Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith." ~Steve Jobs


I know that if you truly feel you are on the path you want to be on then you will find a way to make it work.  And one day you'll look up and realize that it's been working all along.

Disappointment comes in all forms and creeps in at generally unexpected times.  The key is to not lose faith that things will work out.  Allow yourself to feel the weight of it, but then refocus and decide what needs to happen next.  It's the sucky times that allow us to fully appreciate the unbelievably awesome times.  Generally, we get out of life exactly what we put in.  Do good, do right, pick your path and eventually it will come to fruition.

Not everything works out exactly as you hoped it would, but that is the genius of it all.

We can't know exactly what to expect every time.  What fun is that?  So be open to the possibilities and be ready to run with it.  We can't possibly plan for everything, nor can we expect that everything will fall into place just as we had imagined it.  Not every trail is marked perfectly, in fact many are not marked at all.  It is in these times that you must trust your gut and take the path that feels most right.  Even if it means going off trail a bit, you will eventually find your way.

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs

So I think that that is enough reflection for a Christmas Eve day.  We had a really good run this morning and I'm hungry.  I made some wicked delish peppermint bark and I think I need to go make some of it disappear! :)


Paige, out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Free Time, You Are Mine

Ahhhhhhhhhh (that's me exhaling deeply and happily).  I survived my first semester of PTA school (physical therapist assistant…not parent/teacher association :))!  I'm not gonna lie, it feels really good.  I remember being warned by no less than five PTAs, that graduated from the same program, that the first semester could possibly kill me.  One particular class, therapeutic modalities, would be the hardest class of my career.  That one particular instructor's exams could be the end of more than a few people.  I laughed these warnings off.  Until I was fully submerged in the hardest semester of my entire life.  And then I remembered their warnings.  PTA school ain't no joke, and it's not for the faint of heart.  Or the lazy.  I still can't believe everything we did and learned.  My brain aches.  But it's a glorious, smart ache.

So, yes, it feels so freaking good to have that semester behind me, and to have made it through so victoriously.  I just aimed to keep my head above water, not lose sight of the end-goal, and not forget how much I love running.  I gave myself permission to sleep in more and rest the body after finishing Rio Del Lago 100 the first weekend of November.  It was a little hard at first, and I felt a little guilty, but now I'm really glad I did.  I've just been running when I feel like it, and keeping it pretty short.  The inversion has settled in a tad early, so the pea soup air is an easy excuse to stay in.  BUT, I've got a little bit of a challenge going with myself…run every day of winter break.  We'll see.  I'm not totally married to it yet, but I did push myself out the door this morning in the 10 degree chill and the worst air quality I've seen so far.  But I only did a couple miles, and I had my nose and mouth covered :)  Then I did some serious netty potting when I got home.  (Yes, I boil the water first.)

Anywho, so I gave myself permission to ease back, and after reading THIS article yesterday afternoon I suddenly felt completely okay with it :)  Sometimes there are just bigger priorities than running.  These last 3-1/2 months were a true test of my ability to serial task, prioritize, manage my time down to the minute, and breathe.  Once our goal race passed, I had a month before finals, and for the first time I put others things, a lot of other things, before my running.  And it felt good.  They say not to worry about grades now, just to make sure we're passing, because it's a professional program and no longer a competition.  But I'm just not wired that way.  I'm going to work hard and do my best.  I'm also not going to lose myself over it.  So I balance.  I feel like I did a pretty good job of it most of the time…not always (Geof can attest :)), but a heck of a lot better than I ever used to balance things (which is to say, not at all).  I don't feel like I've lost myself, or forgotten what I love to do.  I feel like I've shifted focus to other important things…my husband, school, good health, sleep.  It's pretty sweet.

Mental proprioception :)

Ski season is fantastic already.  A lot of great storms up at Alta since November, and we got season passes this year…so the slopes and I are going to be very familiar with each other over the next four weeks!

Next semester is supposed to be "less insane", but I'm thinking it's just because we are so used to the insanity now that it won't seem so bad.  We'll see.  I'm not holding my breath ;)  I absolutely lovelovelove what I'm doing and feel so fortunate to be on the path that I am on.  It's pretty amazing, and I am grateful to Geof every single day for all of his support and overall greatness.  Boom!

We have a weekend of holiday happenings, and a delicious stew (and homemade bread!) that I finally had the time to create for dinner.  Oh sweet free time!

Paige, out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Droppin' It Like It's Hot: A Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Race Report

Wha' whaaaaa'!  It is officially Friday, and I am one happy camper because that means no class today :)  This week, it also means that it's five days post-Rio Del Lago 100 and I'm chomping at the bit to get back running!  Always a sign of a great race.

So, yea, the race was a resounding success once again for the House of Dunmore.  The hugely improved Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run gets highest marks in my book.  RD Julie Fingar, et al. took an historic race that floundered in recent years due to poor direction and organization (sorry, but it's true) and have made it into a seriously classy event.  Bravo!  The organization, the volunteers, the amenities, the course, the volunteers, the food, the volunteers, the food…everything was thought of and everything was so well done.  It was a small race, only 112 runners, but you would have thought that this was the Grand Prix of running with the way it was executed.  Aid stations never left you wanting for more, and we didn't even need to travel with Gu because the stations were completely stocked with it (Gu Roctane, too, which is high class!).  And great swag on top of everything!  Of course, the entry fee does make your heart skip a beat at first, but in retrospect it was totally worth it.  

I had such a great time with all-star crew Uncle Steve and Gretchen when I ran back in 2010 so we got the band back together!  Reunion concerts usually fall flat and leave you wishing you had spent your time a little more wisely, but this reunion trumped the original by a landslide.  Uncle Steve and Gretchen were amazing and we couldn't have had better folks out there greeting us at each aid station, ready to attend to whatever it was we needed or wanted, and with smiles and laughs.  Gretchen even gave us a few Rockette-worthy high kicks a couple of times!

The night before, we congregated at Yardhouse in Roseville to talk shop, but mostly to just catch up and enjoy amazing food and libations.  Geof's beautiful Cousin Deborah joined us, too!

"We're getting' the band back together, man!"

Okay, so to the stuff you are actually "reading" this for :)  

Race morning, all fresh and ready to go for a little run in the woods

Geof and I were eager to get a 100 mile race in before the year ended and RDL fit in perfect with everything else going on, so we made the leap and agreed to run it together.  School has been…ummmm, insane…this semester so while training started out really great (speed work, specificity, loooong runs, back-to-backs), it began to flounder a touch near the end (as in, a three-week taper) on account of my classwork drowning me, and Geof taking on a nasty head/chest cold.  My legs haven't been the same since school started on account of stress and less sleep (I'm assuming) so I didn't have really high hopes for this event, but we did set an early goal of 22:30.  After three weeks of tapering, we decided to scale back our expectations a tad, and aim for sub-24 as an 'A' goal, sub-25 as a 'B' goal, and not dying as a 'C' goal.  

Thankfully, we met a "B 2.0" goal :)

The race began with great fanfare at the start/finish at Beal's Point and we were sent off into the night across the levies spanning Folsom Lake (which was disturbingly almost totally empty).  The course changed a bit from the last time I ran so I wasn't sure what to expect, other than it being almost completely trail (which is a very good change).  As the sun began to peak up we wiggled our way around the 'shore' of the American River (also disturbingly low/non-existant in many places).  

Rule #1 in ultrarunning: Never trust the person in front of you.  We blindly followed the runner in front of us, assuming the orange arrows were guiding us along the right trail.  They were not.  We found ourselves in the middle of a riverbed (which was empty, don't worry), orange arrows having petered off.  A large group of fast dudes were making their way towards us, pissed.  Oh, crap, we went off trail.  But the arrows were pointing in that direction!  We blindly, again, began to follow the fasties as they bushwhacked across the riverbed, arguing about ways to get back up the bluff to the trail.  It didn't feel good, and after some time we decided to cut our losses and bushwhack back down to the riverbed and retrace our steps to where we went off-trail in the first place.  Thankfully, it worked out and we found where we went astray.  The arrows were apparently leftovers from a previous race.  Doh!  Oh well.  We probably lost 15-20 minutes, and some steam, but whatever.  Better then than later in the race!  And at least it was light out.  

The first couple of aid stations came and went and we just kept on moving forward.  After an hour or so we made up all the ground we had lost, having caught back up to and then passing everyone we had been running with before getting off trail, so that was reassuring.

After Dowdin's Post 1, Geof flying down the trail alongside the American River.  What a stud!

The legs and body were feeling great and I was in one of the best moods.  Geof was struggling to fully embrace the day, but he pulled us along well, and when I stepped ahead of him, he stuck right with me.  

I tell you what, even when he's not feeling all that great mentally he still runs really well.  I'm always impressed with his ability to almost separate the two and not let his mind muddy things.

Now, I'll take a moment here to talk about my head.  Since we were running together, I needed to let go of my competitive goals.  That sounds bad, but what I mean is that competition was not what I was there for.  I was there to run with my husband and just enjoy the day, no matter what it brought us.  It was hard to switch gears like that.  Geof is a super relaxed guy, so I was doing my best to follow suit and just let things be.  And I did.  I was enjoying the heck out of myself!  No pressure, no concern, just running with my husband.  Running within my training, running within myself, and running relaxed and carefree.  This did wonders for my head, and the first ~75 miles went by rather dreamily.  

Running across No Hands Bridge 1.  Love this shot.

The day was starting to warm up, but with 75 as the high, we weren't worried about heat being an issue at all.  The sun was out, not a cloud in sight, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day (and it was!).  At Cool Fire Station, we joined the Olmstead Loop for two rounds, running counterclockwise and then clockwise.  This gave me a chance to see what was happening up in front.  And showed me where I stood in the women's field.  I was in third.  Well, that's cool and all (ha, no pun intended), but not important.  So I shelved that knowledge, put my head down, and just ran.  Olmstead wasn't as bad as I remembered it.  Though the course marking was severely confusing at first (a LOT of people were running the wrong way, running short, or too long) but we managed to make sense of it by trusting our gut and not following anyone in front of us :)  Gretchen and Jamie F. decided to do a little jog before we made it back to the aid station and they caught up to us midway through the first loop.  It was fun to chat with them and catch up some more!  I was starting to feel a little tired and warm, so we took ample walk breaks on our way back to Cool, where we restocked, stuffed ice in my running bra, and then headed back out for our second loop in the opposite direction.

Another thought.  This course is insanely runnable.  So it was really hard to walk.  We had to force ourselves into walk breaks so that we didn't overdo it too much.  Note to self: this would be an excellent race to race :)

We got passed by a gal as we were in the final mile of the second Cool loop and she was out of sight before we knew it.  Okay, now I'm in fourth :)  But, whatever, not my deal today.

One more stop at No Hands Bridge, and a quick inhaling of cheddar potato chips.  We were now over halfway done.  Wow, that went fast!

Chip stop at No Hands Bridge

I was sticking to Gu gels and Coca-Cola as fuel for the day and it was working quite well, but those potato chips were heavenly.  

We grabbed our headlamps at No Hands Bridge as the sun was starting to go down and we weren't sure how long it would be before we needed light.


American River, on the way back to Auburn Dam Overlook 2

Taking our time running back to Auburn.  Photoshoot time!

We made it back to Auburn without needing light, woohoo!  But it was definitely only a couple minutes before dark was officially happening.  We changed into warmer tops and gloves, ate more chips, cleaned out our socks (the dust was insanity!), and hit the road back towards Maidu and the channel.  It was officially nighttime, but only about 5:30 or so I believe.  Daylight Savings is a trip.  

I don't recall much in this section, other than that I was still feeling like absolute gold and couldn't believe my legs felt so dang fresh.  They never got any worse than they were at mile 20 so I have zero complaints on that front.  I guess we were better trained than we gave ourselves credit for :)

At Dowdin's Post 2 we fueled up on the most delicious chicken noodle soup I have ever had during a race.  I think it was laced with mojo and crack.  I wanted to drink the entire pot.  Another runner was there with his pacer.  "I saw your headlamps getting closer and closer to me, and I was like 'Ugh, they can't catch us!'  So we gotta go!"  As we exited the aid station well ahead of him, I wanted to apologize for the spanking we were about to issue him.  He put up a good fight, though.  We didn't see him until the finish, maybe 20-30 minutes after us.  Not bad for a first-timer ;)

I should explain the course a bit.  The new route heads north from Beal's Point, up to Cool, two laps of the Olmstead Loop, head back to Beal's Point, head back out to Horseshoe Bar, and then finish at Beal's Point.  So there are a couple of points where you can see those ahead of you.  I liked this…a lot.

What I didn't like was what they affectionately refer to as The Meat Grinder (between Granite Bay Horse Assembly and Horseshoe Bar).  It was a total suckfest.  No chance to get a rhythm at any point in there.  The rocks and undulations and twisty-turny single track was nothing short of anger-inducing.  I love a technical trail, but this was just stupid, compounded by the fact that it had to be run four times.  By the time we reached Beal's Point at mile 78 I had mentally withered.  I seemed to have left my good attitude at the Horse Assembly, four miles back.  Now I was letting in the demons.  With 22 miles left to go, I wasn't sure how my head was going to make it.  My body was just fine, but my mind was playing games.  Knowing we would see Steve and Gretchen every five or so miles kept me going.  They were a vision each time we rolled into an aid station.  Gatorade and chips became the only thing I wanted, but still choked down a Gu each hour, holding my breath as I swallowed so as to avoid tasting them.  In retrospect, they were fine, I was just trying to be dramatic in an effort to exhibit my distaste with life at that moment :)

While on the one hand I could not believe that we had been moving for 15, 20, 24 hours, as it felt like time had just flown, I could, on the other hand, recall every single moment.  I felt each foot strike, each minute tick by, every Gu I swallowed, every swig of water from my pack, every breeze.  It was semi-surreal.  But then again, these things always are surreal.  Who does this kind of thing?!?  

After leaving Horseshoe Bar for the last time, and passing the #4 woman for good finally (we had been back-and-forth with each other for awhile), I began to feel my mood take a turn for the better.  Less than 11 miles left.  We were going to do this.  

Honestly, I am constantly amazed at the human body's ability to do certain things.  And I never ever think it's a done deal until it's a done deal.  I always feel optimistic and sure of my ability to achieve most things I go after, but I don't let my ego get the better of me.  So as the sun began to tickle the horizon while we rolled into Horseshoe Bar for the last time, I handed my headlamp to Gretchen and opted to just use my handheld light for the remainder of the time, and I felt a sudden sense of calm.  I could smell the barn, and dang it smelled good.  We ran the entire way into Beal's Point, taking in the gorgeous sunrise, reflecting on the day, on the course, on the whole experience, stopping just once to pee in a bush.  We made our way across the four levies, the finish line in sight the whole way.  Not a soul was ahead of or behind us, and Geof remarked we could slide under 26 hours if we kept running.

So we did.  We rounded the final corner and followed the arrows to the finish line arch as our names were announced: 25h:51m:45s  Music was playing, a cool breeze was blowing, and the sun had yet to fully show its face.  It was absolute perfection.  That is one dang good finish line!  We had to get weighed and our blood pressure checked one last time (I stayed the same weight start to finish, a new first for me!).  A young girl walked up to me with an armful of swag, including a framed photo emblazoned with 3rd Place Female.  Whaaaaaat?  Third?!  I thought I was in fourth!  Someone must have fallen asleep at an aid station because we never passed another chick.

Now that was a pretty gosh darn good surprise.


We managed to cover those last ~5 miles quite a bit faster than we had run all day…droppin' it like it's hot.  The finish line is a powerful motivator, especially when pigs in a blanket are awaiting your arrival.  Yes, they had a full spread for runners and their crew.  Made to order pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, mimosas.  It was fantastic!!

Speaking of sausage, I had some serious sausage feet going on, which then led to this happening…in public.  Toesocks and Birkenstocks were made for each other :)

Obligatory finisher swag shot

What a friggin' great experience!  Even with the tough last 25 miles.  Every race can't be perfect, but you can do your best to hang on when the going gets a little tougher than you hoped.  The best part is knowing that we could definitely shave a few hours or more off our finish time.  My legs had a lot of life left in them, and judging by our recovery, we both had a lot left in the tank.  We were definitely better trained than we thought :)  So we'll be back to this one for sure.  It was such a well run event.  Everything had been thought of and executed expertly.  Bravo, NorCal Ultras, bravo!

A big, huge thank you to Gretchen and Steve for giving us their weekend and being such amazing crew.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!  

Now it's time to relax and enjoy a weekend free of long runs…we needed this last week off, for sure.  But we are ready to get back to running, and SKIING!!!

Here's a fun video recap of the day made by Ultra Sports Live.

P.S. I wore my Brooks Cascadia 8s and Injinji socks the entire day and my feet were awesome afterward.  I love those shoes :)

Paige, out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Have a Very Important Announcement to Make…

We are actually racing this weekend!  

How long has it been now?  Ummmmm, since late July?  

What the what?  July?!  What a lazybones!

I do have a good excuse, though.  School.  It pretty much takes up all of my free time.  But I love it.  But I also love to run 100 milers, so we decided to just go for it and sign up for one before the year closed out on us.  There is always time for the things you want to do.  Throw it out there and things will just fall into place.  Happens every time.

Yep, we are heading back to Rio Del Lago and the thriving suburbopolis of Granite Bay, CA.  Remember when I ran this back in 2010?  I plan to keep my toenails intact this time, and we (Geof and I will be running together!) are planning to run it a touch faster than what I did back in 2010.  We were originally aiming for 22:30 (to earn us both a new 100 mile PR) but we have since scaled back our expectations a touch and are aiming for closer to sub-24/25, and a really fun time.  Gotta be reasonable.  And considering my running has been less than top form since school started in August, I think that is a very reasonable goal, aaaaand especially considering it's a whole new course this year and we don't fully know what to expect.

Training has gone pretty well.  We got in a number of back-to-back long run weekends, lots of specificity of training, some speed work early on, two long runs spent running around a 1.4 mile park here in town (I'm pretty sure I won't be doing that again for some time…mind-numbing!), some really great runs, some character-building runs, SO MUCH GU, and lots of reciting origins and insertions of muscles whilst running.  Hey, gotta study when I can!

Heading toward City Creek Canyon on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail early October, the Cottonwoods in the background.  I love SLC :)

So it's weird and extremely exciting to be heading into our next long run adventure.  I can't believe it's been well over a year (2012 Bear 100) since my last 100 mile race!  This is going to be such a fun experience.  We've even gotten the band back together for our crew: Uncle Steve and my favorite blogger Gretchen will be helping out again; me = pumped!

Okay, need to finalize the packing and then catch a plane.  Enjoy the weekend!

Paige, out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Whirlywind

Whew!  It has been a whirlwind of life the last month!  I sure have missed my blog, and all'a you guys and gals who bother to check in :)

So, since we left off back in August I have...driven (i.e. been the passenger in a vehicle) to Iowa, Chicago, Iowa again, and then Colorado with Geof; slept in the back of our truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot; paced good friend Brian G. up and over Hope Pass at the Leadville 100; signed up for our next 100 mile run (we're heading back to Rio Del Lago 100 in California in November!!); started school (physical therapist assistant program); lost my brain, then found it again after surviving the first week; woops, lost said brain again the next day but luckily located it once again; organized my heart out; met our lab cadavers; run a WHOLE BUNCH, even done speed work more than once (what the WHAT?!); cut off 8 inches of hair; done some jumper photos; ran into a moose on the Great Western Trail, and eaten a lot of sardines.

That's a whole lotta stuff!

Basically, my excuse for the next 18 months is going to be...school :)  Bear with me, please.  I promise it will pay off in plenty of entertainment and write-y stuff!

Meantime, we are still chipping away at the mileage, gearing up for RDL100, where we are aiming to set a new 100 mile PR for both of us.  We'll be running together and have our sights set on 22h:30m :)  There, I put it out into the universe.  Done and done.  I like when people explicitly state their goals, so I am going to practice what I preach :)

It is September 2nd, holy cannoli!  Mmmm, cannolis :)  Wasatch 100 is next weekend and I plan on being envious of all the runners toeing the line whilst observing the fun from the trail.

Happy running!

Paige, out.

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