Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nanny Goat Race Report

Steve Harvey and his wife Annie put on a fabulous race.  They attract tons of volunteers who make the race experience enjoyable.  Nanny Goat takes place on Shelli's family ranch and she and her family and staff deserve a huge thank you for not only allowing a lot of insane people to take over the place, but for providing support and taking care of little things to ensure things run smoothly.  The race benefits Wounded Warrior Project and it was humbling to see Lucy carrying the American flag and so many out there for the cause.

Alan and I packed more than I felt we needed but I like to err on the side of being overly prepared versus underprepared.   We arrived Friday afternoon and set up an EZ up tent; I disagree about it being "EZ" to set up.  We snagged a perfect location right near the end of the loop route (ie. we could run straight to it, get what we need, and then run through the barn to complete the loop).  Alan wisely suggested going to buy a table so that we could have our stuff off the group.  We left to find food and a table.

Since I switched to an all organic diet, eating out is hard; sometimes I have to eat nonorganic food (at his parents') and it typically upsets my stomach and intestines.  I searched for a place that had something organic but found nothing nearby..ugh.  We settled on the restaurant closest to our hotel- Islands.  I had a bad feeling about eating a turkey burger and fries but hoped for the best.  After dinner, we retired to the hotel to relax and get to bed at a reasonable time.  A couple of beers made going to sleep easy on my part.

I lacked the prerace nerves I typically feel.  We awoke at 4:15 in order to get dressed (body gliding alone takes about 20 minutes) and get to the race early; we got a great parking spot and proceeded to lug our gear to our tent.  Then, we hungout with friends, met new running buddies, and did last minute prep.  Seeing Steve walking around with a singing goat and a bullhorn made me realize running in loops is sane, compared to a grown man playing with a singing goat.

We set off with a couple hundred people and I quickly remembered how much I HATE loop courses.  While it was cool seeing horses and chickens and friends and family of other runners, the flat path was boring.  I did get a kick out of one lady (wife of a runner) who gave me the nickname "Legs."  I ran by and she told me I had the best legs she'd ever seen and that she could tell even with all the coverings on my legs; next lap, she pointed it out to her was a little embarrassing but then it began to look forward to seeing her and getting a laugh. 

I know some people love mile loop courses but I have a limit on how long I can enjoy them.  There was a road section that I realized was a slight (miniscule) downhill/uphill and that section beat up my legs.  Running on pavement in Cascadias (trail shoes) has never agreed with me and the race was no exception.  I longed for my Hokas and envied all the people wearing theirs; I really need to sell my too small ones and buy a proper fitting pair.  I tried to run as slowly as I could to start and, being Garminless and not even using my Timex for miles splits, I used other people as my "pacers." I didn't want any miles under 10 min and I was good about accomplishing that.

Very early in the race, I felt stomach/intestinal pain and I regretted dinner.  When I tried to choke down my first Gu, I almost threw up and felt my insides twisting in pain.  That would continue for the remainder of the race; I was unable to stomach much and alternated between intestinal cramping and feelings of nausea.  I separated from Alan, though we obviously saw each other frequently.  I typically do not drink much water but I was soooo thirsty that I frequently had to fill my bottle and eat ice chips; I was so thirsty that I would get ice from the chest less than half a mile from our own ice chest...and I did that even after seeing a kid get ice, rub it on his chest and dump it back in.  Gross!! I think the massive amount of dust I was inhaling contributed to a never ending feeling of thirst to the point where common sense went out the window.

I hit the 50K mark in under 6 hours; my shoes were bothering me but I made myself wait until mile 40 to change them.  My right achilles was tight from the flat surface and I hoped a different pair of shoes would help.  Changing my shoes and socks, I saw a massive blister on my big toe but I decided to leave it alone and hope my road shoes would make it bearable.  After another lap, I decided I had to take another long stop and pop the blister and bandage the area.  I was feeling weak from a lack of calories and having a blister issue didn't help.  I slowed down and made myself run the road section and the section from the road into the timing area.  Miles 40 to 50 were never ending; I was dry heaving at times and thankful to run with Jean for parts of loops as she would run and I would be motivated to do the same.

I saw Alan several times and he complained of foot pain; he tried changing shoes but it did not help.  At one point, he said he wanted me to walk at night with him because he was getting worried about making the cutoff (86 miles in 24 hours) and he wanted me to keep him on pace.  Seeing him hurting really demotivated me; I spent several miles contemplating what to do.  I realized I had to gauge his pain and see if pushing for the cutoff was a reasonable thing to do.  I reached 50 miles in under 11 hours and was right on schedule for where I wanted to be at that time.  When I finished mile 50, he was hurting more so I stopped and chilled at our tent.  He stopped and told me he was having an issue with the other ankle; his description of his pain reminded me of when I had that issue and I realized his going another 54 miles within the time frame would not be wise or possible.  He was at mile 46 and said he really wanted to hit 50 miles since 100 was not going to happen; since we had plenty of time left, I told him to relax and that we would do those 4 miles together when he was ready.  After about 40 minutes, we ventured out to get him to 50 miles.

I felt great upon restarting and contemplated helping him reach 50 miles and then continuing on for 100 miles.  But the feeling of nausea and dry heaving set in and I saw him in pain with every step.  I made the tough decision to stop when we reached his goal; it would be 55 miles for me and I did not want him to have to sit there in the cold overnight while I finished.  I knew I would have to force myself to throw up and then get down calories in order to get myself back on track and it was not worth it.  I was beyond bored with the loop and mentally had no motivation to continue.  While he said he would wait for me, we went there saying we would do it together.

That last loop was awesome as we walked arm in arm and crossed the finish line together.  While we did not hit any of our mileage/time goals, we hit the true goal - completing the race together as we prepare to get married.  In marriage we will encounter ups and downs and I truly believe that all of our running and racing together has made us better prepared for that.  I'm so freakin' proud of him; he went from saying a half marathon was long to completing 50 miles in a race less than 5 months later.  As for me...well I spent the drive back looking for my next race. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nanny Goat goals

Yikes.  In about 36 hours, I will begin the Nanny Goat race.  The race has several options: 12 hour race (beginning at either 8am or 8pm), 24 hour race, or 100 mile race.  If a person logs at least 86 miles by the 24 hour mark, the person can continue on for 100 miles with the cutoff being the 28 hour mark.  Thankfully, the weather is looking as perfect as one can imagine for the event; it takes place in Riverside, CA, which typically hits upper 90s during the day this time of year.  Current forecast is for sunny and 71 degrees on Saturday; I'm hoping and praying that forecast is accurate.

My goals for the race are complicated.  My fiance is running the race and wants to earn a buckle (ie. 100 mile finish).  I obviously want him to earn a buckle and I hope I can do the same.  My knee and hip are the big unknowns.

My personal goals:
A - 100 miles under 24 hours
B - 100 miles under 28 hours
C- wog as many miles as possible in 24 hours

"Our goals":
A - Both earn buckles.
B - One of us earns a buckle.
C - We both wog for 24 hours.

I honestly want to finish as fast as I can and then continue on with Alan so that we can receive our buckles at the same time (though that makes my catching his finish on video a little trickier).  I have the advantage of more miles on my legs, am insanely stubborn and have an abnormally high pain tolerance; however, anything can happen and I'm prepared for the fact that he may log miles faster than I do (if so, I hope he can wait for me to  We have bought all the gear we need and are finishing packing it tonight.  Tomorrow we hope to set up camp/tent at the race site and be ready to go for Saturday morning.  No matter what happens, we will be surrounded by awesome, talented, craaaazy people and have a blast!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In one week.....

In exactly one week...I hope to be holding my second buckle and either celebrating with Alan or doing whatever I can to help him finish; I'm writing this around 10:45am and we will have until 12pm to complete the distance (if we get to 86 miles by 8am).  I know that 100 miles is a looooong distance and I am not kidding myself about my chance of finishing; my body is not ready for the distance and I was more prepared when I completed SD 100; despite the injuries before the race, I had a very solid long distance base.  Now, my knee and hip are a source of constant irritation and I hope they allow me to cover the distance.  So my body is not ready...but my mind is and I am prepared to battle all the negative thoughts and pain that I will feel during the race.  I keep telling Alan to prepare for reality - pain, legs hurting and aching, a strong desire to quit, feet hurting, feeling like crap, possible sleep walking. 

One reason why the buckle means so much is because we have to battle ourselves and be mentally tough in order to make it happen.  Barring unforseen physical issues that can knock out the toughest and most prepared runner, an ultra is about pushing oneself beyond what they body says it can do.  I love ultras because they force me to look inside and dig deep; I emerge a strong individual and face daily challenges with more confidence.  This week I will be packing my drop bag with anything I could potentially imagine our needing and letting my legs continue resting.  Today's run showed that my legs are eager to get out of tape mode.  Now, time to figure out my gear and clothing/shoes....

Run on!

Friday, May 18, 2012

OC Half Marathon/Taper Time

My legs were dead after Leona Divide weekend runs.  So, I took it easy and Alan and I decided to run the OC half as an easy, recovery run.  I was not a fan of the expo; we attended in the midst of the children's 5K festivities. While I love that they encourage young runners and could already picture our taking a child to that event years down the road, I hated getting through the crowds at the fairgrounds to pick up the bib. 

Traffic was horrendous so we made sure to leave our house early Sunday and park so that we would have our choice of shuttle times.  We boarded the next to the last round of half marathon shuttles and arrived at the start with barely enough time for a porta potty stop; the lines were long and we had to run to the front so that we could start in corral A. 

The race started with a little gradual uphill and then a long downhill; the course bids itself as a net downhill and that downhill was the only significant one the entire race.  We started out faster than planned but our legs reminded us that we were supposed to be taking it easy; I ran 8 miles the day prior to the race and I started to feel all the recent miles around mile 6 of the race.  My knee started locking up and I began cursing pavement and wishing I had worn my compression tights as they seem to help my knee.  Around mile 11, I realized that the course had more uphills than advertised; while I normally love hills, I just wanted a downhill as the flat and uphills were killing my knee.  Our goal prior to the race was to finish in under 2 hours and we finished in 1:58; only a few months ago Alan struggled to run sub 2 hours for the half distance so finishing in that time the week after an ultra made us super happy.

I planned on running a long run the last weekend but work and school deadlines sidelined that.  So, I have been in taper mode for the past couple of weeks.  It's definitely a longer taper than I wanted but I got in some stronger runs and some soul-searching runs that will come in handy during next weekend's adventure.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Leona Divide 50K Race Report

Without a doubt, this was my favorite 50K.  After a less than stellar training run the week prior, I scoured for an upcoming trail race so that I could get in a solid weekend of running.  When I spotted Leona Divide on the calendar for April 28th, I mentioned it to my fiance and told him how awesome the t-shirt was; he has been eyeing Ink N Burn gear for weeks and I thought that might be the bait he would take for completing a trail ultra.  Obviously, it worked and I happily signed up at the last hour for us to do the race I had wanted to do for years but never had the chance to attempt.

I briefly glanced at the elevation profile and noted that it was easier than other trail 50Ks, which reassured Alan that it was a good idea to do it as his first ultra.  Considering his longest race had been a half marathon, I wanted him to feel confident in being able to complete the race; he has been training hard and completed several runs of 24+ miles on flat surfaces so the climbs were the only questionable part of the race.

We decided to drive up the day prior and got dinner at Sharky's, one of our favorite places because they serve primarily organic food at reasonable prices.  We enjoyed eating with one of our friends before retiring to the Holiday Inn in Palmdale; the parking lot was full of cars with "100" stickers and I gawked at one with a Badwater sticker and briefly went to lalala dream land over the thought of completing Badwater.  The entire week leading up to the week I battled insomnia and that night was no exception.  When the alarm went off, all I could think about was running and being able to sleep.  When we arrived at Lake Hughes, we realized how chilly and windy the start would be.  We checked in and admired the schwag; Keira puts on a phenomenal race and the goodie bag was just the beginning.

I decided to use the run as a test of gear.  I went with my CW-X Pro 3/4 tights and settled on wearing Skins compression stirups (ones I've worn for years) in hopes of preventing the swelling caused by the tights the previous week.  It took me several attempts of putting on the stirups to finally get them comfy and in a way that covered my socks since we forgot our gaiters.  Right before the start, we ran into my running buddy Lori and I was happy to start the race with her; I ran my first trail run/race with her and Billy in 2008 and I loved having the chance to catch up since our crazy lives have prevented running together/hanging out in a couple of years.

We started off comfortably because I did not want Alan to go out too fast; however, later I realized a comfortable, conversational pace for Lori and me may have been a little fast for Alan as it meant running more uphill than Alan is trained to do.  We cruised along enjoying the sights and rocking the rolling hills.  Very early I could tell that Keira, the RD, did an excellent job with course markings and had fabulous volunteers helping out at aid stations (and check in/finish line).

The first several miles were on fireroad and I loved when we hit the single track of the PCT; I had forgotten how narrow the single track was and many times I caught myself nearly sliding off the edge.  I thought ahead to when we would see the return runners (out/back section) and wondered there would be enough room to let them by...Alan slowed up a little on the section leading into mile 16 so we parted ways with Lori.  That was probably a good thing since I noted that we were on pace for a 6:30 finishing time, a little faster than Alan desired.

The climb from mile 18 to about 22 was long but not steep; however, it was enough to cause us to slow down.  Alan started struggling during and after the climb but knew he would finish.  There was another climb around mile 25 and Alan started to cramp; I told him to take a couple of salt pills (it was getting warm) and thankfully they resolved the cramping.  We slowed even more, which was hard for me because my legs felt fresh and I wanted to run since running made my knee feel better.  Yet, I reminded myself that the point was to finish with Alan and for him to feel good at the end.  Miles 28 to the end were a gentle downhill combined with flat sections and I worked on pushing Alan to get to the finish; I tried to remember how I felt during the last few miles of my first ultra and realized how awesome of a job he was doing.

There is nothing quite like hearing "I love you" at mile 29!  We held hands and crossed the finish line beaming with pride; finishing time was 7:35 (awesome time for Alan's first, especially since he never runs trails!).  Alan was so happy to be an ultrarunner and I was so proud of him; he went from being a half marathoner to an ultramarathoner in only a few months and was able to walk easily after the race (big plus).  We loved the medals and post-race food spread; Alan is already talking about wanting to do all of Keira's races.

The following day I tested out my legs by going for a 13 mile easy trail run.  Alan did the smart thing and rested his legs but reported that he felt good enough to run.  There is nothing quite as cool as sharing your passion with your (soon-to-be) spouse and seeing him walk around for days beaming with pride over completing an ultra!