Thursday, May 28, 2009

the best days...

Right now, I'm having an amazingly kickass training cycle. Everything feels good and every run just makes me feel stronger.... call me Super(wo)man! I wish it could always feel like this.. no aches and pains, just easy, fast, amazing runs on strong legs. Even my weightlifting routine is going great! I know it won't last for long, because well, that's the nature of these cycles but damn I'm enjoying it while it does. My biggest worry right now, is figuring out how to feel like this come August 22!
My mom is so great, she found this vintage postcard from the 1940's showing Twin Lakes in Leadville. I framed it and it sits above my computer reminding me when I feel lazy that Leadville will chew me up and spit me out if I don't work hard. I can't gut this one through on minimal training. For my friends who aren't familiar with the Leadville 100 race course, Twin Lakes is the location of an aid station that you hit at 39.5 miles and 79 miles... it's also more importantly, 2 gorgeous lakes (hence the name Twin Lakes.. duh!) at the base of Mt Elbert. I've been to Twin Lakes many times before, but always as crew for my dad.. it's going to be scary/exciting to have the roles reversed!
I'll have the worlds best crew in the form of my mom, who is an uber-experienced ultra crew chief. She knows how to hustle and how to remain calm in the face of blisters, puke, blood and whining ultra runners. She is also a great judge of telling you to either "get your ass out of that chair and get going" or "get your ass in the car before you die" She's been doing this for about 30 years now and I'm blessed that she has agreed to take on another generation.
My Dad will be helping also and I just hope Mom will be able to keep him from dropping everything and taking off running! I do look forward to having his advice at all the aid stations, not only has he been doing this for longer then most people, he's done Leadville many times and also paced friends in years he wasn't doing it himself. I look forward to giving him a big hug at the finish line!
My wonderful, patient husband will be breaking his ultra crewing cherry! He'll be in the best of hands and my Mom will help him remain calm... if she can keep him from worrying about me he'll have a great time! He has been so very supportive and encouraging about this summer, I really can't thank him enough. He's been ensuring that I can get in as many training miles as I can and covering my work shifts so I can go train in Leadville for 9 days in June. I am a lucky, lucky girl. I can't help but have a great race with 3 of my favorite people in the world taking care of me and giving me encouragement!
Lastly but certainly not leastly is my pacer extraordinaire Christy. She gets to hang up her crew chief hat and just run with me! She's actually been training like she's running the whole thing herself and since she already did pacing duties at Rocky Raccoon she knows what works and doesn't work for me. There will also be many other Kansas City area runners out there, so seeing them and sharing positive energy with them and their crews will help greatly.
As I get more and more things set and dialed in, I can't wait and at the same time can wait! I would love for it to be next weekend and at the same time I know I'm not ready yet!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Squished bug

Friday I headed out to Clinton Lake early in the morning to get in 30 miles, originally Christy was supposed to join me but she was still deep in paper writing hell, so I was on my own. It was a humid morning, the sort that coats you with a layer of sticky, salty schwee right away. (and yes, schwee is a word) I kept thinking my Nathan pack was leaking but it was just the Midwest.

I had a great time taking pictures and enjoying having the trails to myself.... well myself and all the great wildlife I was seeing! Turtles, lizards, snakes, squirrels, deer, skunks, birds (lots and lots of birds).. it was a freaking Disney movie! The worst part of being on the trails first thing in the morning is the spider webs... it's still early enough in the season that the spinners haven't gotten real bad, but I was definitely trailing webs off my hat and face. Running trails has helped me get over some of my arachnophobia, I used to be HORRIFIED of spiders. Screaming, running away, & hysterics at just the sight of a small spider was the norm for me. Now I can deal with them a bit more calmly... I'm still not crazy about them but I can even deal with having small ones on me. I ran on the white trail out to the 12 mile marker, stopping at the swim beach to refill with water, I briefly thought of dropping down to the blue trail but since that one tends to be a lot muddier, I just turned around and headed straight back on white.
About a mile from the car, my cell phone rang and it was Christy warning me that they had issued tornado warnings for the area.. my original plan was to refuel at the car and go out for the remaining 6 miles, but then decided maybe I shouldn't push my luck. I bagged the run at 24 miles... I think I got lucky after the Freestate tornado, I don't want to tempt the trail gods. As I was cleaning up at the car, a couple mountain bikers were heading out and they stopped to ask me how muddy the trails were and our conversation went like this:

MB: How muddy is it?
Me: The first 3 miles are total mud bogs, but it's good after that until the 9 mile mark and you'll hit another bog, and then it's clear at least to the 12 mile marker.. after that I don't know.
1 MB to the other: Dude! Did you hear that.. she just ran 12 miles.. you're such a pussy you can't even ride 12.
Me: Actually I ran 24 miles.
MB: .........
and off they rode. Didn't even say thanks for the trail info.
As I left Lawrence and headed back to KC, the sky was looking wicked dark and scary so I was really glad I bagged the rest of the run.. turns out there was some torrential rain and hail moving in.

Saturday morning was the Trail Hawks group run at Clinton and then our first official group meeting afterwards. As I headed west on I-70 at 80 mph (yes, I was running a few minutes late) a (luckily) small size deer decided to risk the crossing... sadly for both of us she stepped right in front of me. The deer went splat and my bug went smush. I was in total shock as I pulled off the highway, but as I took stock I realized how lucky I was! She didn't come through the windshield and my bug seemed to still be drivable (after I ripped off the dragging front bumper anyway). I was pretty freaked out and made a couple of hysterical calls... first to the husband and then to a few people in the Hawks, so no one was waiting for me. In hindsight I maybe should have waited to calm down a bit before making the calls, since I was a crying, sobbing mess. I hate losing my cool in front of others and I think I scared some people. I headed back home and skipped the run, I was definitely too shaken up and wasn't sure just HOW drivable the car was.
My poor bug, I named it Smush a few years ago, 'cuz it's seen it's fair share of problems. I bought her from my brother who used to rally car race her, so that was my first mistake! This is the second deer/car incident she's been in and then there was the time (only a week after I bought her) that I hydroplaned on I-35 and did 3 loop-de-loops and played pinball with the guardrail. I swear I'm not a bad driver although one of the guys I run with commented that I drive like I stole it. Sadly for me, I was only carrying the minimum insurance on the car, so I have to come up with the moolah to fix her. I guess I'll be learning the intricacies of junkyards! Luckily silver bugs are pretty common... and if I have to get the whole thing painted it would be a good chance to paint it pink! WHEE!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Watch this video!

Someone posted this on the ultra list yesterday and it's just too good not to share! For all my non trail running friends... THIS shows why I do what I do and if it doesn't make you want to go out and run... well, I give up.

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Monday, May 11, 2009

(real) Rock Creek race report!

(I realized while typing it that most of my race reports start out with the phrase "I got up early....", this one is no different!)

I got up early after a few too short hours of sleep.. damn those friends of mine scheduling rock shows the night before races! Seriously, everyone needs to check my schedule before booking shows! (kidding, only, kidding!) I drove to Lawrence and met up with Christy, Nick and Renee at the River Trails trail head and we all 4 carpooled to Perry Lake. Less emissions and the chatter kept me from falling asleep. When we got to the park, there was much greeting of friends and hugs while waiting in line to check in. Willie and Karen Lambert put on a great race and they really know how to take care of the runners but their races are also laid back affairs which I really appreciate. I checked out my goodie bag and tried to decide what to wear... it was a pretty brisk morning (Gary was wearing tights!) but I knew it was going to be in the 70's later.. but the questions was.. how much later?? I chose to wear my short sleeve Atayne shirt and giraffe print Moeben sleeves, (it turned out to be the right choice.. when it got too warm I pushed the sleeves down and kept on going) grabbed my handheld bottle and I was good to go.

Willie gave us some instructions "1/2 marathon runners follow PINK ribbons" blah, blah, blah "Did I mention 1/2 marathon runners follow the pink ribbons?" Then we all walked down the road a ways to a suitable crack in the pavement where we all lined up. Willie gave us a last minute instruction "1/2 marathon follow the PINK ribbon!!!" and we were off. I appreciated the constant reminder that I was to follow the pink ribbons since I had earned my first DNF out here last year by getting lost! Whoops! (for a recap click here ) The speedy guys took off down the pavement and up the hill and then turned onto the single track and the rest of us mortals ran the short pavement section at a more sedate pace. I really like how the pavement and the hill breaks everyone up before hitting the single track.. no dead stop bottlenecking!

It was a gorgeous morning to be running the trails with friends. Even though we had gotten a ton of rain recently, the trails were in great condition... a few small mud bogs here and there but mostly dry, gorgeous trail! The sun was out and peeking through the trees and I warmed up enough to push my Moeben sleeves down. My legs were feeling a bit heavy but I tried to keep a steady pace and got a chance to chat with a number of different people as the usual ebb and flow of the trails happened. I ran with Deb Johnson for awhile and she was trying to decide if she was ready to run her first 100 at Kettle Moraine in June, I did all I could to talk her into it. She's running so strong and has an amazing base she'd be silly not to! I just know she'd rock that bitch and rock it hard! She dropped me hard on the downhills (I need to take some lessons from her!) and after that I was by myself for the rest of the race.

My stomach got grumpier as the run went on... I really should know better then to drink beer on tap the night before a race. Most bars don't clean their lines often enough so draft beer can be contaminated with all sorts of nastiness. Maybe my next tattoo should read "bottles only!" to remind me.... or I suppose I could just not drink before a race! I kept eyeballing the bushes but lack of TP kept me from heading off trail.... there was no way I was going to use one of my beloved Drymax socks and I'm always forgetting what poison ivy looks like so I figured I'd better just deal with the stomach cramps instead. Other then the stomach, I was feeling pretty good after I warmed up. The course was very well marked..even to the point of wrapping pink tape on logs that were lying on the ground.. but of course I tripped on a well marked log anyway.. actually let's just say I tripped on the pink tape instead of the log. All I got were dirty knees and a sore shoulder though... phew! Perry Lake is much hillier then I remembered so it made it a very good training run! I'm going to be spending a LOT more time out there... the trails aren't blaze marked like Clinton Lake so I'll just have to go out and get lost a few times until I figure it out.... either that or try and hook up with some of the Topeka trail folks and let them lead me around!

The aid stations were great but I was going light.. just water refills and 1 orange slice... in retrospect I probably should have eaten a bit more but I was afraid for my wobbly guts so the last 2 miles were slower then they should have been. Each of the aid stations was very well staffed by an adult and also a plethora of kids.. it brought back memories of hanging out at races as a child and running around like a crazy person. I got a chance to wish Lee good luck at the last aid station, as he is running the Berryman 50 next weekend... so send all sorts of good wishes his way! I finished up in 2:36:03 (unofficial)... a bit slower then I wanted but not awful. The awards were going on as I finished which meant that everyone was still around and I got to hear all the stories... and we hung out till the end to help cheer everyone home. A truly enjoyable spring Saturday! Something I have to note: last year at this series I picked up a lot of trash on the trails during the race (empty gu & gel packets and cups), this year there was nothing on the trails for me to pick up! I was so very happy to notice it.. of course there is always the possibility that there was someone running in front of me that is just as cranky about seeing race generated trash on the trails and was picking it up before I got there.. but somehow I doubt it. I hope it's a sign that people are being more aware that it's NOT appropriate to throw their trash on the trails.

*photo by Rick Mayo who stomped all over most of the field as per usual and in addition to being a super, super fast runner is a really nice, encouraging guy to boot! He'll be kicking some ass Kansas style at Western States this year!

Rock Creek half mary and other runs

I've been sticking to my stated intention of hitting the gym hard in my prep for Leadville, but that means my legs have not been as chipper during my runs. It's kinda frustrating in the short term, but I know it's all for the future. On Tuesday I ran at the Prairie Center again.. with as much rain as we've been getting, it's the one trail around that's not 10 feet deep in mud. I headed over after work with the intent of getting in 2 loops before my friend Beck arrived to join me for another 2. (Each loop is 3.2 miles). The first one was a lollygagging warm up but when I got back to the car I realized that I had taken a bit TOO long and was either going to have to do the 2nd loop totally fast or leave my friend waiting on me. I try to be a good friend so I did my fastest ever loop out there.. running though all the water crossings, motoring up the hills and scaring the wildlife with my heavy breathing. When I got back to the car, no Beck yet... sweet! Turns out she got stuck in traffic anyway so I didn't have to haul ass quite so much.. but oh well, it's good for me! We got in 2 loops together with the last one being pretty slow so she could stop and make a homemade map so she could run by herself without ending up confused and lost. It started to rain just as we finished up... perfect timing!

Wednesday I spent the morning cleaning my house in prep for my Mom's arrival on Thursday.. first time in many, many years I got to spend Mothers Day with her! Wednesday night I headed to Clinton Lake in Lawrence to do speed work and hill repeats with Christy and Laurie and then meet up with the rest of the Trail Hawks and get in a few more miles. The 3 of us headed out easy to the flat, gravel dam where we could chase each other back and forth on the only level area around. Laurie has some serious speed and was putting the hurts on Christy and I with every step. It's good to have someone to try and catch.. I just wish I had a better shot of actually doing it!! After a few of those we hit the long, technical hill at the end of the damn and did a few repeats of that. We took turns leading and I really think it's easiest to be first up the hill rather then following! I definitely like the hill repeats better then flat sprints.
After we finished up we headed out on the blue trail to meet up with the Hawk Pack at Lands End, but when we got to our usual foot wetting stream crossing it had turned into a who-knows-how deep river! I waded in about 5 feet and the water was already up past my waist so we turned around and headed back. We cut over to the white trail at our earliest chance and headed out to the 5 mile marker and then turned around hoping to catch the Hawk Pack before they dropped down to the blue trail and ended up trapped also. Shortly after the 5 we ran smack into Jim and Nick, issued the warning and kept going back in the car direction. Minutes later we ran into Gary, and he decided to turn around and run back with us. It was the first time he'd been able to run since Freestate with his injured toes! We picked up Levi on our charge back to the cars and were hoping we'd find Mircea and Lisa also, but they cut the run short due to major school commitments. I finished up with about 9 miles on the garmin, we hung out waiting for Jim and Nick and then headed out for some dinner and drinks. Thursday morning I faithfully got up and did my gym workout but got in no running since after work I had to go pick up my mom!

Friday morning I got up really early to head over to the park to get in 20 miles, but the early morning lightning storm put the kibosh on that plan. I hung out and waited for things to settle down and got more and more cranky the later it got. I was only able to get in 10 miles because of the late start. My mom and I had appointments to go to the spa and get facials done in the afternoon so I had to wrap things up way before I was ready. I didn't think the spa people would appreciate a muddy, stinky salt covered runner so I hustled home and showered before heading over. Mom and I had a lovely time and came out looking at least 10 years younger (or so we told each other!) For dinner we went to my favorite veggie restaurant Eden Alley and I ate WAYYYY too much! After that we headed to Davey's for a benefit show for the Midwest Music Foundation, Mom was a great sport since the bar scene is NOT usually her thing! She got to meet a bunch of our friends and listen to some good music and Erik and I had some beers and relaxed. I almost forgot that I had a race the next morning! We left at an earlier hour then normal but I still only got in 4 hours of sleep.. oh well!

OK, this post has gone on WAYYYY too long so I will post my Rock Creek race report separately.. don't go anywhere!

*picture is my mom and I at Cafe Seed waiting for some tasty vegan brunch goodness on Mothers Day.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Gary Henry took this picture of me as I was told that we were being pulled from the race due to tornadoes.. grrrrr, I said, grrrr! He has some great pictures from the event on his website

I took a couple days off after Freestate and drank beer and ate lots and lots, but now it's time to get serious about Leadville training. Despite taking a few days off I still I got in 30 miles of running and lots and lots of squats, lunges and core work. YEOUCH! I spent the first half of the week sore from slip sliding in the mud at Clinton and the other half of the week hobbling around with weightlifting muscle soreness. I forgot how much lunges can hurt!
I'm looking forward to racing at Lake Perry this weekend.. Rock Creek Trail Series #2. Somehow I forgot about the first race of the series a few weeks ago, which made me really sad. Willie at Great Plains Running Company puts on great races and does so much to support the local trail running community and is a great ultra runner too!

On Saturday I was headed over to the Prairie Center to get in some mileage before I met up with some newbie runner friends to show them the joys of running in the mud. On my way I ran into a road race, (not literally) but for a split second I considered parking and registering, but reconsidered when I remembered how much I hate running on the roads and with huge crowds of people...instead I had the 5K trail loop all to myself for hours. Kinda to myself anyway, I saw tons of birds, squirrels and rabbits. The stream crossings were especially rife with some amazing birds and the cold water felt great. Later on I had a great time running with the newbie runners too...showing new people the joys of running on the trails and stomping through the mud and playing in the streams makes me very happy.

If you subscribe to Running Times magazine or are near a newsstand, there is an article about Kansas City trail running in the June edition and I got a few quotes in there. One of the quotes tickled me pink..I talk about how great the Trail Nerds have been to me, but the magazine comes out hot on the heels of me being kicked out of the Kansas City Trail Nerds due to my involvement in helping create a Lawrence based trail group. Needless to say, I found the timing hilarious!