Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moab Red Hot 55k: A Serious Case of the DOMS

And we're back!  Ahhhh, a little radio silence does the typing hands good :)

Well, Utah was amazing.  Each time I go there, I fall a little bit more in love with it :)  This time was no exception.  We headed west for what is becoming an annual trip to see friends, ski, and kick around for a week.  This time, a sweet race happened to coincide with our visit.  The Moab Red Hot 55k was held in...well, Moab, Utah...on February 19th.  We flew into Salt Lake Thursday morning, and enjoyed a relaxing hike around Park City with Rob n' Rina, warming up the legs before heading to High West Distillery (YUM!) for dinner...

At Round Valley in Park City, UT...that's Lucy in the background, checking out our jumper form

Geof and I rented a car Friday a.m. and made the 4.5 hour drive down south to the quiet (it's winter, afterall) town of Moab.  We made lots of pee stops along the way and admired all the sleepy small towns, rock formations, canyons and what not.  We went straight to Arches National Park for some hiking (checking out Delicate Arch, Balancing Rock, and The Windows)...sidenote: Arches has very rapidly climbed my list of Favorite National Parks, it is AMAZING!  Afterward, we grabbed dinner at the Moab Brewery (tasty burritos and beers!), then headed to packet pick-up.  I won't lie, I was a little bit star-struck upon seeing Anita Ortiz; she's like Superwoman for ultrarunners! :)

Everyone met up at the condos we were renting for the weekend, and swapped race strategies, caught up on general-ness, and ate cake.  We had a fantastic group together for the weekend (about 17 in all I think) and everyone was pumped for the next day.  Ben and Bethany (doctors extraordinaire and new parents to boot!) were looking forward to their first race of the season (and Bethany's first race since giving birth to baby Ada barely 5 months ago, wow!).  Terry was in town from Brooklyn, NY to tackle the 33k (eventually snagging 6th overall!), as was SLC resident speedster, Dr. Matt Vukin.  Dr. Anne was running her very first ultra ever and was equally excited and nervous about it.  What fun!  Everyone else was tagging along to watch the day unfold and offer support at the finish line.

We woke up to warmer-than-expected temps, in the 40s (heading into the 50s), and...rain.  Oh yay, raaaaaiiiiinnnnnn!  I didn't have the most optimistic outlook on the day at first, but I figured we signed up, we may as well give it our best, rain or shine :-)  We headed to the Gemini Bridges starting area to pick up our bibs and ooo and ahhh at the amazing stacked field joining us that day.
With Geof and Dr. Vukin before the race.  Handsome smiley bunch are we.

Group shot with Beth and Rina on the left...
And another with our awesome photog, Rob, on the left.

All of the photos you are witnessing on this here post are courtesy of the talented photographic eye of Dr. Robert Corson.  He got some really good shots while we were in town.  So, for that reason, I decided to make this post a little more about the pictures, with a little bit about the race.  Some pictures first :)
Ben is really, really excited about running.  He ended up taking 10th place overall in the 55k.  Ssssssmokin'!
The starting line...Duncan Callahan is in all black and I think that's Dakota Jones all the way on the right?  Not to mention all the other fast faces I don't yet know.  That's a whole lotta fast in there.

Geof and I walked in towards the front to wish Ben and Bethany good luck, and ran into Krissy Moehl!  Haven't seen her since Wasatch '09.  Sweet!  We decided to move to the very back so we didn't get caught up with all the fasties on the technical section of the start.  This ended up being a very mentally rewarding tactic :)
Geof and I making our way down, down, down from the start.  We were about to go up, up, up for a good ways!
A pretty sizable 55k field.  There were about 257 starters, but only 186 would cross the finish line.
See the little dark dots at the bottom?  Those are runners.  See the ridge way up top, in the right hand corner?  That's where we were headed.

So, the footing was incredibly variable.  It was the sort of terrain that really held your attention.  The entire time.  If you let your mind drift, or you looked up without first analyzing the next 5-10 steps, you would pay for it in the form of a mouth full of red mud, rocks, or your own teeth no longer attached to your gums.  Does that give you an idea of the technical-ness?  Well, for this wintertime pavement pounder, it was pretty technical :)  But stunningly gorgeous!  The scenery was mind-blowingly beautiful.  A fair amount of climbing, but more in the form of constant up and down, up and down.  Plenty of soft, mushy red sand/mud, and a LOT of slickrock running, which I'm pretty sure is 47,000 times more firm than pavement.  But it was beautiful to run through deep canyons, climb up jeep roads and slickrock, run along ridges overlooking Arches National Park, observing the barren, quiet solitude of a high desert in winter.  I loved it.  The altitude was never a problem but seemed to be present at times, mostly coinciding with a very steep climb :)

Geof and I ran the entire race together and enjoyed passing a lot of folks at the start.  Hence the mental reward from the beginning.  I was feeling out some aches and pains I had going into the race, but they never did materialize on race day.  My left IT band had been a little cranky of late, and this race certainly could have been the end of it for me due to all the steep climbs and even steeper descents.  But, everything held up amazingly, and I haven't a single complaint.  A lot of people dropped due to blowing out a knee, IT band seizing up, falling, etc.  We were very lucky.  I think I stubbed my toe once, that's it.  No falling!!  And, I should mention that, despite the very fine sand, and rainy conditions, I never even developed a hot spot anywhere.  My feet were supremely happy in my Drymax Max Pro socks and Sporty Cats :)  And I didn't blacken any additional toenails, phew!

We huffed it up the climbs, ran silently along the cambered slickrock, scrambled up a few semi-shear faces (one of which I was on all fours, tightening every last muscle in my body to avoid slipping backwards down the rock...talk about working up a stressful sweat!!), stopped for water at each of the five aid stations, used no drop bags, peed only once each, soaked up the small window of time that the sun actually shone, ran heads down as the rain took over throughout the day, and leaned into some of the stiffest winds I have ever experienced in my life as we made our way towards home.  I'm not kidding, the wind was out of this world.  It puts Chicago, the WINDY CITY, to shame!  We were running into the wind almost the entire time.  That is exhausting.  So we got in a good resistance workout as well :)  If I weighed any less, I would have been blown off the ridges!  

My favorite parts of the course were completely unexpected and totally unprecedented for me.  Technical downhills became what I looked forward to.  We would get passed here and there on the climbs, but then we just smoked the field around us on the downhills; it was so much fun!  I'm a cautious gal, and downhills have always given me great pause.  Not this time!  It was as if we were flying, barely touching the ground.  I don't know what was different this time.  The footing was downright treacherous on those downhills, strewn with rocks of all sizes, small boulders, mushy sand and slickrock.  My heart speeds up even thinking about it now; it was a blast!  I just let go of my worries on those sections and let my legs do the talking.  Don't overthink it, just do it.  Coordinated falling.  I've never smiled so much during a race as I did on these sections.  I was a kid in a candy store, except the candy was in the form of amazing scenery, rocks, and red sand shared with my better half :)

It took me about 15-20 miles to find my groove and feel sufficiently warmed up.  No kidding.  It was bizarre, so I was pushing through a lot at first.  But once I got comfy, it was smooth sailing.  There was a woman we were back and forth with a lot.  She was super consistent and great on the ups, but we always put a big gap between us on the downs.  Eventually she'd catch up and pass us, until the next downhill.  She was a good sport, too, so it was fun.  There was another female runner who really got in our collective craw, and I made it a goal to finish ahead of her.  Her volatile running style was irritating, running on our heels, breathing down our necks, pulling in front of us on narrow sections and then stopping in her tracks.  We were both wondering what on earth was going on.  I'd never experienced another runner like that before.  She even jumped in front of us at one point and then sat down on the trail to futz with something.  Very strange.

Judging by the elements and the course that day, I decided I'd be happy with sub-8 hours for the 34 miles, and just tickled pink with sub-7 hours.  As we rounded a corner and found ourselves on jeep road, coming across some spectators hiking towards us, we could officially smell the barn.  I didn't look at my watch at all, but kept moving forward, hoping for the best.  We picked up the pace and little and caught up to the two women we'd been back and forth with all day.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pass and hold them off at this point...until we were presented with one last downhill section, pouring us into the finish along the Colorado River.  It was as if angels were singing...the sun even started to peak out from the rain clouds!  We danced over the rocks and crud, passing our ladies and a couple others opting to walk the downhill, picking up the pace even more...
Meanwhile, Bethany has long since finished, absolutely creaming the women's field and taking second woman overall (second only to THE Anita Ortiz)!  Amazing!!!  She looks very pleased in this picture :)
Geof and I negotiating the downhill switchbacks, leading to the finish; we can smell the barn...and the hot potato soup bread bowls awaiting us!
Lo' and behold, Photog Rob!  He catches us as we make our way toward the finish... 
The quads were a'burning, and the heart was a'singing!  We were finishing!  And, what's that on the clock?  Not a 7 in sight!  We cruised through the line in 6h:48m:25sec.  Sweet hey-sus, that was unexpected!  I honestly felt like our effort was around 7h:15m, so color me happy :)  Rob, Ben and Billy were holding down the fort and greeted us at the finish.  We stuffed our faces with delicious soup and sourdough bread bowls, and after changing into clean, dry clothes, we waited for Anne to come in.

Oh sweet success!!
With G and 10th place Dr. Lewis...congratulations, Ben!
Ben, Ada and Terry after the awards ceremony.  I love this picture for some reason.

All in all, a truly fabulous race, with more than its fair share of tough, technical stuff.  Definitely one for the books.  And, after some thought, I've decided I would definitely return to this one.  You just can't beat the beauty of the course, and the tough terrain.  It's a really good early-season warm-up and a very good measure of where you're at heading into the spring.  

The aftershock of the race left me with a serious case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), located almost exclusively in my adductors and hip flexors...from all the downhill pounding.  Everything else felt as though I barely moved all day!  Lesson learned? always foam roll after a race like that :)  Ah well, it just made going down stairs a little interesting for the 4-5 days following.

Speaking of, what better way to shake out the legs than with a killer hike through Arches?!  

Rob, Rina, Geof and I headed back to Arches Sunday morning and hiked the Devils Garden trail before heading back to SLC.  There were some spots that gave my stomach a flip-flop (like walking across a narrow spine of slickrock, with a sizable drop on either side), but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day spent with wonderful people.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...
Geof being 'thoughtful' at Double O Arch (I think) :)
Doing some bouldering at Navajo Arch...there were some sick pitches ;-)  I actually had no idea what I was doing, but it looked like a good photo op.
Peek-a-boo!  Black Arch
The crew at Landscape Arch...pretty much my second favorite arch (Delicate Arch is my fave) :)  Nature is so cool.
Making our way up the trail, alongside where Wall Arch once stood (it collapsed in 2008 and lays there in a heap of slickrock along the trail now)
Utah Jumper!
This was called Sitting Arch...no, not really, but it was a good spot along the spine for us to sit and take in the view of the slotted canyons spread out below us.
And when on steep slickrock spines, one must jump!  The boys getting a little crazy..."It's about to get weird...TWO pencil jumpers!"  It's like they're just floating...
Black Arch

I love the West :)

Check out Geof's Red Hot race report HERE.  And, Ben's Red Hot race report is HERE.

Crash, out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One Hundred!

100 is such a great number.  It's a really nice round number.

Today is an exciting day :) 

I logged into the ol' bloggy blog this afternoon only to find that I've reached my 100th subscriber: Dom, from London, England!!  Congratulations, Dom!  You are being awarded the Warm Fuzzy Feeling of Knowing That You Just Made My Day :-)  That's a pretty sweet award if you ask me.  Making someone's day, that is.  Hopefully I managed to make somebody's day today, too.

How fun!  I started this here compilation of The Runs a little over two years ago thinking only really bored family and friends who felt bad for me would check in on my blog.  That, or it would be the electronic version of talking to a wall :)

Thanks for reading, everybody.  I truly appreciate you!

By the by, I have a nice little race report in the works on this past weekend's Moab Red Hot 55k.  It was an AWESOME race!  It's great to be home, but I sure do miss the wild wild west already.

Crash, out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bumper Sticker Giveaway: Do You Have the Runs?

How bold are you?  Would you exclaim to the world (or the driver behind you at the light, or the other laptop laden peeps in the coffee shop) that you have a Serious Case of The Runs?  C'mon, don't be shy :)

Earlier this month, Megan, from BuildASign.com e-mailed me out of the blue and asked if I might like to slap my 'logo' (i.e. blog address...I don't actually have a f'real logo :)) on some signage and give it away.  Ummmm, okay.  My initial reaction was, "I'm not sure how many people want to announce that they have The Runs, but you never know." 

I played around with a few different things (they have a ton of stuff to design with, it's pretty cool) like signs, magnets, cards, window clings, stickers, eventually loving a design I created for a bumper sticker.  I was literally giggling almost the entire time I was making it.  I don't think gross bodily functions will ever NOT make me giggle like a ten year old. 

Okay, so if you are brave enough to announce it to the world, or just want one to hide away in your running log to look back on and laugh like a ten year old, shoot me an e-mail at susanpaige1@gmail.com with your name and address and I'll get one to you in a jiffy.  I'll mail one out to the first 25 who get back to me. 

Oh, here's what it looks like:

Working with Megan was fun and the process was super easy, so I certainly recommend BuildASign.com if you're ever in the market for that sort of thing.

Lastly, I'm going to take a card from Dax's deck and sorta copy his super-fun idea...if you're bold enough to want one of these, take a picture of it (on your car, on your laptop, on your forehead, toliet, hydration pack, dog) and e-mail it to me, especially if you put it on your car...or your dog :) 

Crash, out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Guilty As Charged

I'm guilty.  In the worst trail runner way.

Last week really tested my winter lovin' self, and I...stayed inside.  The temps were in the single digits, the ground was covered in a thick layer of crappy half slush/half frozen crap and I just had no more interest in heading outside for my runs.  So, Geof being the BAMF that he is, headed out for his morning runs solo, braving the cold like a champ.  And, I being the pansy that I can sometimes be, threw on a pair of shorts and my short sleeve Icebreaker top and walzted my butt downstairs to the gym to set up shop on my favorite treadmill. 

(No, I didn't fall off, but the above picture cracked me up.)  It's all the way on the far right end, has a TV screen that can be moved aside (I never use those), and is right in front of a wall of windows.  It's almost always guaranteed to be available because it's not one of the fancy updated models lined up the rest of the way down the wall o' windows.  I enjoyed four runs on that there treadmill and got in some high quality workouts each time.  It was nice to sweat during a run again and not freeze my behind off :)

To make up for that minor lapse in judgment, we headed outside for a glorious (and surprisingly warm!) final long-ish run on Saturday.  The sun even joined us for the occasion!  The night before, we were dinner-lazy and decided to dine on some homemade hummus we concocted, and chips.  Yea, that's it.  Well, that and some 'liquid carbs'.  While it was quite delicious, it was not a good way to fuel up for a run the following day.  So, I spent pretty much the entire run feeling as though I was running in water.  It made sense: you put crap in, you get crap results; so there you have it.  At least we still managed to crank out a solid tempo pace that surprised me quite a bit once we finished up.  Lesson learned: if you fuel right, you'll feel right; if you don't, you're (I'm) a chump :)

Sunday, we met up with some CHUGs at Poplar Creek for a group run/hike (oh, how I've missed group CHUG runs!!).  Since the temps reached into the upper-30s/low 40s the deep snow had started to soften which made for a lot of difficult footing for much of the time we were out there.  We're guessing our group (Brian, Eric, Geof and I) got in a little more than four miles in just over an hour.  But, it was just beautiful out!  The sun was out, a bit of a breeze, and the forest was so peaceful and clean covered in snow.  The white-tailed deer were out en masse, prancing all around us.  I love seeing those little guys. 

This week I'll take it a little easier as our next race is coming up on Saturday!  Moab's Red Hot 55k is next up and I'm super excited to 1) race again, and 2) visit a totally new-to-me place.  Plus, we'll be in awesome company, with the Salt Lake crew.  Of course, this morning's run was the fastest I've ever run our 6-mile route, but at least the legs felt awesomely fresh.  So I'll start "taking it easy" tomorrow :)  F'real. 

I had the chance to take my newest Sporty Cats (awesomely nicknamed "Snazzy Cats" by Kelly, lol!) on Sunday, and am happy to report that our reuniting was simply marvelous!  The discontinued color style suits me best in those shoes; no modifications necessary :)  I think I'll put them to a good long test in Moab.

Okay, if you really need a giggle and a smile, watch THIS.  This kid is hilarious!  His facial expressions still have me giggling about it.  Good, clean fun.  Kids are funny :)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fastest Guns in the West

Okay, more like fastest shoes in the Midwest.  And, I use "fast" very lightly.  And, the Midwest has been acting more like the artic circle as of late.  But you catch my drift.

Last night was a good ol' fashioned Shoe-down!  Oowee, it was gettin' ugly! 

Tumbleweed rolled across the living room, dust swirled around like miniature cyclones, the faint sound of a banjo in the distance.  As the dust cleared, the two cowboys appeared...New v. Old.  Shiney v. Salt-encrusted.  Beauty v. Brains.  Novice v. Tried and True.  Who was going to come out victorious?  Who would go down in flames?

As I opened the Wilderness Running box, slowly and with much anticipation, peeling back the La Sportiva tissue paper, I was suddenly struck by the distinct scent of brand new Sporty Cats.  My how I've missed you old friend.  It was like the box was back-lit, glowing from within and suddenly everything was moving in slow motion.  Checking the tongue, yep both size 41, I removed the paper fillers and slipped on a brand new pair of heaven.  Ahhhh, bliss, they fit perfectly.  (I was a tad nervous about the fit as I was sizing down a full size from my last pair.)

But, suddenly, I was struck with a pang of guilt.  What will my old Sporty Cats think of the "new guy"?  Oh no!  I can't have three pair in the same closet!  I was going to have to make the hard decision...and get rid of a pair of my beloved Sporty Cats. 

The Shoedown beings, laces drawn, insoles ready, and rock shield prepared to strike...
 "There's a new sheriff in town..."

Well, in the end, the new guys came away victorious.  C'mon, you saw that coming.  So, it was time to retire my very first pair of Sporty Cats.  We've been through so much together in the last year, and shared 367 beautiful miles.  Just moments ago I marked them as 'retired' in my RunningAhead training log, and also noted that I got them down to $0.27/mile (the log keeps track of the mileage you put into a shoe and how much you paid for them, then calculates what the cost per mile comes out to :)  I know, total geekdom).  That makes them my cheapest per mile shoes so far.  I'm so proud :)  I am looking very forward to breaking in these puppies.  My most recent pair are a touch too big and caused some grief during a recent run, so they have graduated to the role of 'hiking shoe' and may even be recruited as my 'it's mile 70 and my feet are swollen and achey' shoes in my next hundred mile run.  We'll see.  I haven't given up on them yet.

By the way, Wilderness Running has most of their ladies' trail running shoes on mega sale right now (which is ending tonight at midnight!) so get 'em while you can!  I got my Sporty Cats for a screamin' good deal when they went on sale last week as part of their Midweek Markdowns, so if you think you're going to need some new kicks soon, or in the relatively-near future, get them now while they are dirt cheap :)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Windburn Six in the Stix: A Six Hour Tour

Brian (RD) giving a quick speech before we get started

This past Saturday, 61 CHUGs gathered at the James 'Pate' Phillip State Park in Bartlett, Illinois for the second annual Windburn Six in the Stix.  Yep, six hours of running in circles, in the dead of winter.  Sounds awesome, right?  My write-up from last year is HERE and gives a quick rundown of the park.  Now, just replace the weather description with this one: cloudy as a mother, light winds, high around 28.  Perfect Windburn Six weather if you ask me!  The warmer temperature meant that the foot or so of snow that awaited us on the trail would eventually pack down and make for pretty ideal running. 

Geof and I decided to run this one together again this year, and use it as our usual Saturday long run.  Geof wanted to get in 30 miles, and I was aiming to beat my distance from last year (20.58 miles) and shoot for 22-25 miles.  I found out a couple weeks prior to the run that I was the female 'course record holder' with my 2010 performance.  LOL.  Well, how often do I get to hear that?!  I'll take it!  I had no idea, so that added a little bit more fun to the mix for me.

Geof and I goofing off at the start (ah, this picture cracks me up!)

We gathered at the start 'line' before Brian ushered us on.  The footing pretty much blew for the first three hours, but after that it was pretty good, as far as snow running goes.  Once everyone started running in the spot on the trail, it really packed down nicely.  But until then, it was like running in deep sand.  However, the weather was awesome!  I was good in one pair of tights, my long wool ski socks, my favorite Icebreaker top underneath a power stretch fleece top, hat, glove liners, mittens.  When we got to the really windy spots on the course, I'd put my mittens on, then remove them once we got through the wind tunnel.  There was a pretty good glare off the snow, so I kept my sunglasses on the whole time.  I started out in my newly modified Sporty Cats (I cut the heal counters down a half inch so that it stopped rubbing my achilles tendons), but after an hour or so I had to switch out of them and into my old school Cascadias that I've had for a gazillion years (really more like two years).  My Sporty Cats are a size too big now that I don't wear orthotics anymore so my foot was sliding around big time and giving me a buffet of hot spots.  I may have to ditch them and get a size down in the Cats, I can't run without them!

The trail, after it got packed down (on the left)...mmmm, runnable!

All things considered, the run was going really well.  Jen Aradi, Sarah J. and I kept pretty close for the first half or so of the race, then Jen began inching up and got out of reach.  She's a super strong runner and just doesn't stop.  That's the way to do it; just keep moving!  She did great!  Sarah is coming back from injury, but on any normal day she would have smoked all of us.  Sarah, you did awesome and I'm hoping that ankle fully heals soon!  

I was enjoying myself and loving running another race with my guy.  It was tough going though as the footing was pretty rough for me at first.  I kept kicking my right ankle (creating a nice bruise and swollen ankle afterward) and my left leg was really p-o'd.  I could feel every muscle locking up my left leg, but I kept on going.  Eventually it all shook out and things were feeling good.  We had six hours to get through, no more, no less.  So that's what we did.

Geof and I running across the bridge to the start/finish pavilion

I was noshing on my favorite chews ever, Honeystinger, and we also chowed down with a cooler of water, some hot ramen in a thermos, coffee in another thermos, and soup that Brian cooked up for the group.  That ramen was awesome and I had more of that than anything else.  It was fun to test out something different and see how it settled in the ol' tummy.  

We would stop at the start/finish pavilion every two laps and grab something to eat.  I changed my soaked socks once, and change my shoes once.  Otherwise, we kept it short.  Though it was slow going on the trail, we were still making great time, and surpassed our 2010 Windburn mileage by the fourth hour, so that was cool.  After finishing up a little more than 25 miles, I thought I was done.  So Geof headed out to get his last five miles.  I went up to the pavilion and got a cup of soup, then decided I could walk a few more of the short loops since I still had 20 or so minutes left.  Why not? 

The overall winner, Jim O'Brien.  And, yes, he was dressed like that all day.  He got over 40 miles in.  Awesome.

So, when it was all said and done, I finished up my day with 28.86 miles, good enough for second female overall; can I getta wha wha!  Geof got a little more than 30.  Bam!  That's a lot more than I had intended and certainly more than I thought I had in me that day.  It was great to feel that post-ultra muscle fatigue and soreness again.  And, it was awesome to spend a large chunk of a day running once again.  I felt like I pushed myself a fair amount, and in relatively challenging conditions.  Deep snow running kind of...sucks...but it was a great lower leg workout, no doubt!  I found myself longing for a flat, fast surface that I could open up on, but there was none of that on this day.  It was a great exercise in adjusting to the conditions and running within my abilities.  Clearly, I need to get back on some technical trails and regain my footing there :)  My ankles have been spoiled on the easy pavement this winter!

Jim (1st overall) and Jen (1st chick) hoisting 'James', the CHUG Fat Ass Series trophy (there's a story behind the turtle...it's native to the forest preserve we run the Windburn and Sunburn races at)

For my efforts, I got a little token to remember the day by:

I love it!  Brian made these awards by hand and did a really awesome job.  Thanks Brian!  

We had a great time and I'm really looking forward to the Sunburn 6/12 in the Stix on July 9th in the same preserve.  I've never done a 12 hour timed event, so this will be a great first shot at it. 

Now, it's time to kick back and enjoy this massive blizzard we're getting, and the snow day tomorrow.  Woohoo, school's out! :)

Crash, out.

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