Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Flatrock 50K Sept 27 2008

At 3 AM when my alarm went off, I had more than a few seconds of reconsideration.. it would have been so easy to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep instead of getting up to drive 3 hours and then run for 9 hours and then turn around and drive for 3 hours again. Then I remembered all the hassle I went through with work to ensure I could do this race and the fact that Christy was counting on me to be a support for her.. and I got my butt out of bed. Due to the father in law surgery and work situation because of it (see previous post), I was not able to drive down to Independence, Kansas the night before as originally planed. I had gotten home from work and dropping the dog off at the babysitters about 10pm the night before and made sure my race bag was ready to go before falling into bed for about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. When I got up all I had to do was throw on my clothes and get some food down before heading out the door.
I was kinda shocked at how many people were on the road at 3:30 in the morning... at one point I was actually having to get cranky about left lane slow drivers and my inability to get around them. The drive went pretty quickly, I wound my way south on some smaller state highways through sleeping small towns. I encountered some patches of pretty thick fog which slowed me down a bit but luckily not enough to make me late. When I got to the Elk City Reservoir I got a bit confused since it was dark and there was no "Race Event" signs directing me where to go but luckily a quick phone call to Christy got me turned back around and to the correct spot. The sun was just coming up and the surroundings looked very pretty. Christy and Greg had very kindly picked up my packet the night before, so I got my number from them and got everything together. On my way to the bathroom I ran into Doug and Kim from KC, this was Kim's first 50K and Doug's first one in awhile. Beth Hilt, one of our Trail Nerds came down to do the 25K, and even though she didn't start for another hour she was there early to cheer us on.. what a peach!

The starting was on the main paved road which we would run on for a bit before darting off into the woods. At the start I saw Alison, another one of our Mud Babes, and Ken my favorite Trail Zombie. Ken was snapping pictures left and right and since this was his 6th Flat Rock, we followed him for a bit until he dropped us like a naughty habit. The course was amazingly gorgeous and difficult from the get go. My main goal for this race was to help Christy finish, the secondary goal was to take it easy, treat it as a training run and not destroy myself for the Heartland 50 miler in 2 weeks. Due to Christy's knee issues I knew that we were going to be moving slow and doing quite a bit of walking, which was exactly what I needed. We quickly found ourselves at the back of the pack but we were having a blast laughing our heads off at the some of the ridiculousness of the trail and taking bunches of pictures. The course is marked by blue blazes on trees, rocks, or anything that doesn't move. There was a few points where we got off course, because of the rockiness of the course you had to be so careful about looking down at your footing that a few times I simply missed seeing the markings.

The race has a 10 hour cutoff and Christy was worried that we were going to miss it, so we were very careful to spend as little time as possible at the aid stations. I lost a ton of time at the Psummer Psycho race messing around at the fabulous aid stations and was determined not to make the same mistake this time. As we were coming on the A.S we would have our packs off and our lids unscrewed, ready to fill up quickly and we'd grab handfuls of food and just keep going. The turnaround aid station we spent about 5 minutes at because Christy was getting blisters so she had to do some repair work but the rest of them we spent 2 minutes or less at. They were pretty standard aid stations, nothing special, except of course, for the volunteers, who were friendly, helpful and wonderful. They get 2 full thumbs up and a ticker tape parade. I can't rave about the food offerings since they didn't have watermelon. The turn around aid station was manned by Ken's wife Dana and she was so very fabulous, fussing around us like a mother hen making sure we had everything we could possibly need. She also had some way comfortable looking camp chairs and after eyeballing one I wisely chose not to plop my butt down.

For most of the 1st half of the race we had been playing leapfrog with a group of 3 girls and Christy kept having to rein in my competitive urge, whenever they were in front of us I would pick up the pace noticeably to reel them in, but running fast was NOT what I was supposed to be doing that day, so she kept making me back off. I had to keep my mantra of " it's just a training run" firmly in my head. We had been behind them before coming into the turnaround, but when we got there they were nowhere to be seen, and we were a bit concerned. We let Dana know to keep an eye out for them, but as we were getting ready to leave they showed up having gotten a bit lost. We passed Doug and Kim on their way to the turnaround and Kim was looking pretty tired. They are both uber experienced road marathoners but hadn't done much trail training and this wasn't the easiest of a course to attempt without much trail experience.

We leap frogged the girls again, and it was about this point that Christy's knee really started to give her grief, but she took some Advil and once that kicked in we picked up the pace quite a bit. We caught the girls , who were looking pretty rough, so we asked if they had been taking any salt. They indicated that they hadn't been nor did they have any, so since we were so close to the next aid station, we told them to be sure and get a whole bunch of S-caps from the a.s and start taking them regularly. We took off and when we hit the a.s we double checked if they had any S-caps there, but all they had was rock salt. So Christy and I determined that between us we could leave some s-caps and still have enough to finish the race ourselves. We left with strict instructions to make sure the girls got them and took them.
We were feeling great all through the middle section, we were hauling ass, eating and hydrating properly. When we walked we were speed walking, there was no pussy footing around for many miles. Around mile 22 we got the giddies and everything became hysterically funny. At one point Christy stopped running, looked around and went "What the fuck is this?" In our silly state that was the funniest thing ever and we wasted some time snorting, and laughing. I had to explain that this was called a trail race and we paid for this privilege. The giddies kept us going until the last 4 miles or so.

When we hit the last aid station, Greg, Christy's boyfriend was waiting for us, he had finished in 4th place in 6:11:53. We came through the trees and as he caught sight of us he yelled "holy crap" you guys aren't supposed to be here yet. Christy took some more Advil and we grabbed a handful of food and kept going.. we were both getting pretty tired and Christy's knee had about had it. The last 2 miles were just a slog fest, and when we finally popped out on the road, we still had a mile on pavement to run. The knee was toast, so we walked most of the paved section but as we got close the cheers and crazy noise that everyone was making made sure we ran in the last bit. Beth, who had finished her 25k hours earlier, had hung around and was cheering us on from the corner. We finished in 8:51:59. Afterwards we hung around for a bit and ate and relaxed, but I wanted to get home before dark so I asked the RD for my finishers award and took off. It was a fun race, rocky, rocky and rocky, but a lot of fun. Christy did so incredibly well and I'm so impressed with her, there's no way I would have been out there with the level of pain she's dealing with She ROCKS!
Before the race I had heard much hype about how this was supposed to be one of the hardest 50k's around so I was feeling pretty nervous, but it didn't turn out to be that bad... maybe it's just my Colorado upbringing, or maybe it was the fact that I was using this as a training run but I didn't think it lived up to it's difficulty hype, it is however a super fun run on a very pretty course.
Pictures thanks to Ken the Trail Zombie!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Taper Insanity!!

I'm 15 days out from Heartland 50 miler and I've been forced into taper and it's driving me batshit insane! My father in law is having some major surgery which necessitated my husband flying to Australia for 3 weeks (have I mentioned that that's where he's from?) Anywho since we own a small business together, if one of us isn't working the other has to pick up the slack. Which usually is no big deal, but combine working 60 hours a week with not being able to train and being worried about my father in law and missing my husband and I'm pretty much certifiably nuts.
Last Saturday before I took him to the airport I was able to get in a fabulous 30 miler.. it felt great and when I finished I wanted to turn around a go out for another lap. That made me very happy!! If I can get through Flatrock 50k this weekend feeling good then I will feel like I'm ready and be happy even if it won't make the taper crazies go away.
I'm running tomorrow's race with my friends Christy and Kim.. this is their first ultra and I'm so happy to be doing it with them. For awhile it didn't look like I was going to be able to do the race due to work conflicts but then I sold my soul to the devil so it's all good. I can't wait! Christy is kinda crazy, she's doing this race and then on Wednesday she and her doctor will be setting a date to have her knee scoped. She's been in major pain all summer but wanted to get this race done before being out for awhile. She told her doc that she wanted to make sure she would be ready to pace me at Rocky Raccoon 100 in Feb. If runners are nuts then ultra runners are truly insane. Happy weekend everyone.. Happy Trails!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dirt Doll Drowned

So I just got back from a run at Wyco park..and it has been ages since I've done a long trail run by myself. I love the fact that there is always someone ready to go for a run whatever the day or time, but I didn't realize till this morning just how much I'd missed running by myself. It has been raining here in KC for the past few days so the trails are thoroughly saturated, in fact the trails were actually running rivers in a lot of places. It was with some reluctance that I headed out into the pouring rain, but dammit that 50 miler is coming up quick! As I headed towards the trails, a fisherman yelled at me that I had forgotten my raincoat... bah! Trail runners don't need no steenkin' raincoats! Within moments I was soaked from head to toe and happy as a pig in mud (no lipstick on this pig thank yew very much!). For most of the summer my inner mud babe had been AWOL.. every once in awhile I would hear something far off in the distance that sounded like "mud bog" in a squeaky "tin man" type voice. But my inner dirt doll would say stuff like "ignore that bitch" and we'd go back to pounding the heat hardened, dry trails. Well this weekend, the mud babe jumped up and held that bitchy dirt doll under a nice big mud puddle until she stopped flailing. I might not see her again for awhile!
I spent the day squelching though mud puddles and splashing through knee deep puddles and water crossing. I watched deer drink from the streams running down the trails and witnessed a turtle paddling down the trails too! It was an amazing primal Friday and I enjoyed it so much I came back and did it again on Saturday. 2 days in a row of wet, muddy, fabulous solitary running was what I needed. lately running had been SERIOUS BUSINESS. After all I'm training for a 50 miler and thats SERIOUS. (insert ominous music here). I had kinda forgotten that running is supposed to be fun, so a weekend of getting out of my own head and enjoying myself was exactly what I needed. Sunday was supposed to be a 10 mile run with Christy but instead turned into a 6 mile hike at Wyco (again) with her and her dog.. we turned it into a day of working on speed hiking and enjoying some excellent conversation. This week will be back to SERIOUS training but hopefully not quite as serious as before.. maybe just Serious training.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Nerd News!

Yes... it's true.. the Trail Nerds really are going for world domination!! Check out the great article by Carolyn

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Best shopping trip EVER!

So a few weeks ago my friend Abby tells me she wants to start running! Yay! Happy Dance! Any time anyone tells me they want to start running it makes me happy, but this made me jump up and down in joy. If you've been reading my blog you'll know that Abby is my friend that recently was diagnosed with breast cancer (read her blog!), so her quitting smoking and taking up "runnish" (her term) makes me joyful. I printed out the Couch to 5K program for her to start with, which is a wonderful program for beginners. Abby mentioned that she didn't have running shoes so I asked on the Trail Nerds yahoo group if anyone had a spare pair of 8.5 shoes that I could beg, borrow, or steal for her.

Within 3 minutes of posting that request, my inbox was stuffed with emails from people wanting to buy her a pair of shoes. I was completely overwhelmed and couldn't stop crying, it was the most amazing outpouring of love and caring for someone they had never even met. When all the dust had settled, it was decided that since so many people wanted to help donations could be sent to the Trail Nerds P.O. Box. After all was said and done, the wonderful runners of K.C. sent $400 in cash, a $50 gift certificate to Gary Gribbles and a gift certificate for a pair of Vasque trail shoes ($90 value). Once again I cried my eyes out, and wondered how I got so lucky to get hooked up with such a fabulous group of people.

Yesterday was the day of shopping.. Abby only knew she was getting a new pair of shoes, she had no idea that she was going to get lots of stuff! When I told her in the car on the way to the store, she was overwhelmed and didn't know what to say...it was hardly surprising since I didn't know what to say myself and I know these people!

It was super busy at Gribbles when we got there so we hit the clothing section first. Unfortunately they didn't have the fall/winter stuff in yet and as Abby puts it "mama doesn't wear shorts!" so we were thwarted in our quest to spend every last penny. After jumping up and down and running circles in the dressing room, she ended up with a good sports bra and long sleeve shirt and a couple pairs of socks. (We'll go back in a couple of weeks to get some long pants and shirts and jacket.) Abby hadn't ever been in a running store before so we did some wandering around and looking at all the stuff, she declined a hydration pack for the moment. She said "it's a fanny pack!" I told her calling it a hydration pack makes it sound less dorky.

After that, we hit the shoes...I gave Abby strict orders not to let me buy any shoes for myself.. I have self control issues when it comes to shoes. At one point in my life it was an addiction to pointy high heels and now it's running shoes. Our sales guy checked out Abby's feet, made her walk around a bit in her socks and brought out a few pairs of very bright, white shoes for her to try. It took a few pairs until she found one that felt like clouds. We took a quick spin through the parking lot and she decided that the "communist" red Sauconys were the winners. Then we got to the trail shoes.. a beautiful pair of dusty orange Vasque Blurs were the take home winner. At one point Abby totally freaked out the poor sales guy.. she had mentioned that she recently quit a 2 pack a day smoking habit, and he asked her when she quit, but she thought he said why, so she replied "I got cancer" and we both busted up laughing. The expression on the poor guys face was priceless, which made us laugh harder, 'cuz you know, cancer is funny.
So we got to spend a chunk of money and we still have more to buy.. but most importantly Abby got running shoes and gear that feel like clouds and will help her go far and fast and get and remain healthy. Thank you is probably the most inadequate phrase in the English language, but I'm not sure how to put into words what's in my heart. I've heard it said so many times that runners are some of the best people in the world and you guys just proved it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

(sorry about the no pictures thing.. my camera has gone AWOL on me)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One year!!

This weekend was my one year anniversary of running! It was one year ago that Erik & I were driving across Illinois en route to Wisconsin when, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. I want to run... I want to run a marathon... I want to run a marathon with my dad! (I think there's a joke in there somewhere about Illinois being so boring that running a marathon sounds like a brilliant idea) The very next morning, I got up and hit the hotel treadmill.. and amazingly I enjoyed it enough to want to keep doing it. When I got back to Kansas City I kept getting up in the mornings and running and running and running... then Bad Ben talked me onto the trails, which got me running even further. I kinda figured that I would train, run the marathon and that would kinda be it... after all I always swore that I would never be a runner.
Growing up crewing for Dad at ultras kinda sucked... my friends would go on cool vacations and we were always going to some random place to get up early to watch Dad run into the woods, then we'd pile into the car, drive for a bit, park and wait for him to run out of the woods, hand him food and drink, change his shoes and socks and watch him run back into the woods, whereupon we would pack up, and repeat for 30 hours or worse for 6 days (that race is an entire blog post in itself). Yippee!! Needless to say running wasn't high on my to-do list.. I did a few 5ks and 10ks when I was young but that was the extent of it. So I never meant to fall in love with running.. but somehow I did, I have found an amazing amount of joy in the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. It turned out that Dad gave me some of his distance running DNA. I knocked out the marathon at the end of April, and kept going, 35 miler, 50K, and now in October a 50 miler.
It has been such an enjoyable year, I have gotten to know some of the best people, run some amazing trails and re discovered a childish joy in running and playing in the mud. I'm so grateful to that bolt out of the blue from 1 year ago.. god, fate, nature, whatever it was.. I'm so very, very grateful.