Monday, November 24, 2014

Failing is not quitting


“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston Churchill

Failure to failure to failure to failure, in my case. Another DNF was entirely too much to take, especially on my own turf. 

I lost more than my enthusiasm after my most recent failure at Big Cedar Endurance Run. I lost my passion, my soul. 

I threw my favorite trail shoes in the trash. 


I bawled as I emptied my drop bags. I wanted to throw it all in the trash as well. I didn’t want to be reminded of what was supposed to happened, but didn’t. 

All that time. All that effort. Gone. And there was nothing I could do about it, but cry. 

My friends posted something about a get together on the trail this weekend to share war stories, drink beer, etc. When I heard about it, I immediately thought, I can’t go back to that trail. It would be like going to my own funeral. The scene where the devil sucked my soul from my body. 

But this is MY trail. I know every single inch of it. The tree where a little knot ripped the entire side of my arm when I fell two years ago. The little stone walkway that is slick as ice even when it’s dry. The section of Ranger that blooms with what I call the “Horton Hears a Who flowers” in the spring. The trail where my friend Hercules, the world’s largest rattlesnake lives. The owls that stared at me during the night this weekend. It’s the trail where I run up the steepest hill racing my friends to the top. This is MY trail. And fuck you mother nature for trying to take it away from me. 



I’m not done being mad yet, but I’m not done running yet either. I bought a new pair of trail shoes today. The other ones had lots of stories to tell. And so will these. They will hold the stories of my destination, my journey and my home. 



Monday, June 17, 2013

Annual Birthday Climb

Windom Peak - 14,087 feet
June 14, 2013
Ascent 4:00, Descent 3:17

Another year older, another mountain climbed. Martin and I have made it a little tradition now to celebrate my birthday by climbing a mountain.

Last year, I struggled, gasping for air making my way up Mt. Massive. I would play games like, ok you walked 20 steps, you can take a break.

A year later and a few more mountains under my belt, we decided to head to the San Juans and hit Colorado's most remote 14ers.

The journey to the mountains themselves is a treat. The only way to get to the Needleton trailhead is to take the Durango and Silverton Steam Train. It's about a 2 hour and 30 minute ride.
The historic Durango and Silverton Steam Train.
After the train drops you off, you have a 6.5-7.5 mile hike into the Chicago Basin. Climbing 8,200 feet to 11,100 feet, it's a steady incline and quite a workout carrying 25-30 pound packs!

The Chicago Basin
We found our camp spot of choice about 7.5 miles in, and called it home for the next few days.

Martin inspecting my work setting up the tent. 
I have been wanting to see mountain goats every trip to Colorado and never have seen them. I read that you won't have a problem finding them here. I got giddy when I saw my first mountain goat! As we soon learned, there were more goats than mosquitos. 

Yeah that's me photo bombing a goat. 
The grand plan was to hike in and then bag Eolous (Class 3). Then get up really early and try to hit Windom (Class 2+) and Sunlight (Class 4). The hike in took us longer than we thought, plus we had to set up camp, filter water, etc. We decided about midway, let's just take it easy in and then maybe try to hit all three in the morning. 

The alarm goes off at 3 a.m. and I promptly shut if off. My head felt like it was going to explode. The altitude headache got me. Martin said, let's just wait until sunlight and go from there. 

We got up around 6, had some breakfast and coffee. The headache was a little better, but still there. 

We decided to head up to Windom first and then assess what we could do from there.

The trail up to Twin Lakes is about 1.25 miles from the camp site at 11,100 feet to 12,500 feet. 

Starting our hike up to Twin Lakes. 

About half way to Twin Lakes. Our mountain is still not in view.

Twin Lakes, elevation 12,500.


Once we hit Twin Lakes, the ascent to Windom gets hairy. It's a tough scramble the rest of the way. The carins are not very visible. You just have to pick your line and keep going up. The snow made things a bit more challenging as well. 

After 4 hours, and one giant leap of faith (literally), we made the summit. I had a panic attack (literally) on the last step. It was exposed and a scary step. Martin grabbed my hand and I took the leap. I promptly sat down and hyperventilated. I was shaking and just needed to sit for a little bit to calm down. 

Totally forcing a smile. I wanted to cry. 

Nothing beats the views at 14,087 feet.

The coolest thing was there were only 5 of us on the summit that day! We had a mountain to ourselves. It was amazing. 

After a little tuna on a tortilla, we headed down. It was getting a tab bit cold and I didn't take my jacket up (stupid). We got a little bit of snow as we headed down. 

I did great on the descent. I have perfected the crab walk. I get on my butt and put my hands down and descend like a fast little crab. Hey, it works. However, I have holes in my new climbing pants.

We took an interesting way down to the lakes and decided to hang out at the lakes before we headed back to our camp. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a herd of goats off in the distance. I told Martin, I hope the come over here! Sure enough the herd of 20 made their way other to us. I call them my birthday chorus! 

My birthday chorus! 

They really have no fear of humans. I think they are just as curious about us as we are to them. They kept making their way closer to us. I decided to tell them that was close enough!

Back away! 
My dear mountain goat decided to run with goats for a bit. 
Best birthday cake ever! 

We talked to the other hikers who also summited Windom about Eolus. There was some snow on the traditional route where you really needed crampons and axes, neither of which we had. Or you could take the ridge (which is more exposed and harder). We thought about getting up early the next day and getting as far as we could before hiking out. 

We fell asleep before the sun went down. I wanted to see the stars. Martin tried to wake me up to see them and I muddled something and was so tired and my head hurt so bad, I just kept my eyes closed. 

Again, I turned off that 3 a.m. alarm. This time, I was dealing with some nausea. Instead we slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, napped again and then broke down camp and headed out for our 7-mile hike to the train. 

Martin hiking out of the basin. 

Not a vacation until he licks my forehead. 

Our ride back to Durango. 
It's not about seeing how many mountains I can climb or how fast I can climb. It's not about how successful I am at work, at running, or whatever. Heading the mountains is a way to disconnect with the constant barrage of information overflow. It's about respecting and experiencing the wonders of life and nature--seeing things you can never see from your corner office window. 

"Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir. 



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top 10 Reasons I hate the bike

I sprained my ankle pretty good on a tempo trail run on Sunday. It was my last run before my A race – Rocky Raccoon. Seems that raccoon got the best of me again this year and I never even toed the line.

The immediate aftermath of the sprain.

So for the next few weeks, the bike is my friend. But before we become friends, I would like to air my grievances about the bike.

Top 10 reasons I hate the bike
10. It makes my butt hurt. No matter how expensive my bike shorts are, my butt hurts.
9. Bike shorts make me feel like I am wearing a diaper.
8. You aren’t meant to exercise sitting on your ass (thank you Anne for mentioning this one to me).
7. I am peddling to nowhere most of the time because I can’t ride in the morning or in the evenings, which leaves a spin bike at lunch.
6. I seem to have two speeds – slow and slower.
5. I get bored.
4. If I’m on a hill, I want to throw my bike down and run up it.
3. I have lost entirely too many water bottles on Texas roads because I can’t seem to put them back in their cage while riding.
2. I’m mechanically challenged and something always brakes. There was a time when a VP at my company changed my flat of me.
1. I live in Texas where motorists either a) ask you if something is wrong when they see you on a bike because no one rides their bike on purpose around here or b) try to hit you because you’re in the way.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Year in the Life: 2012

Live live to the fullest. 
Laugh as much as you can. 
Love as long as you live.

Those three sentences sum up my life in 2012. I am very fortunate to have had the adventures I have had, the wonderful family and friends in my world, and for the most part I've been pretty healthy.

I stuck to the trails for all my races but one 5K. I completed six ultras and two trail marathons and climbed five 14ers.

Here are some highlights of my favorite memories of 2012. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it.

January
The Duel 50K - 2nd place overall female and a 50K PR

A 29 degree race! I was in heaven. 

February
Rocky Raccoon 50 - My first 50-mile trail race.

Look a bunch of Asians and that white girl Lesley :)

March
Grasslands Trail Marathon - My personal worst marathon! But I ran it with my friend Chris. We started this whole ultra crazy stuff together.
Chris and I slugging it out at Grasslands.

April
Zion 100 - My first attempt at a 100. I got to mile 63 and he gave us credit for 50 miles. Martin and Lesley were there to crew and pace. 
Martin: Wife #1 and Wife #2
At the top of Gooseberry Mesa. 

May
Western States Training Camp - Martin runs all 3 days and I tag along for one day.
Soaking in the American River after a 20-mile run on the Western States 100 course. 

June
Leadville Birthday Weekend - I climbed my first 14er -- and I'm hooked. I also got my chance to head up Hope Pass. My dream race is the Leadville 100. I'll be back up that pass one day. 
At the summit of Mt. Massive. 

The top of Hope Pass. I'll be back. 

Western States 100 - Martin's first 100. I got to crew. He did amazing with a sub-24 hour finish!

Martin leaving Robinson Flat in some crazy weather.

July
It wasn't running related, but my son and I had an amazing time in California!

 My future movie director at Universal Studios. 

August
Squamish 50 - The hardest race I have ever run. I busted my tail to get in before the cut off of 14 hours, made it by less than a minute. Libby agrees to join me for the trip. Great times!

My favorite race of the year - Squamish 50. 

September
Another Leadville weekend and more 14ers - Mt. of the Holy Cross, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Bross, Mt. Cameron. Martin bagged Lincoln, but I was a little nervous about the weather.
My favorite 14er so far - Mt. of the Holy Cross. 
At the top of Mt. Democrat. 

Wasatch 100 - Pacing and crewing Reece. I was there for his first 100 last year and I got to be there for the second 100. Martin, Chris and I could not have been more proud of his sub-30 finish!

Team Reece: Chris, me, Reece and Martin. 


Bartlett Park 50K - So Libby and I decided on a Thursday to drive the next day to Memphis (yes that is 7+ hours) to race a trail ultra. Paid off, she runs a smoking PR and I placed 2nd overall female.

Rough Creek Trail Marathon - I really hate the marathon distance. This was a tough race, but I did as best as I could. Martin agreed to pace me. I didn't meet my goal, but I underestimated that Rusty Crown -- like I said in my blog, she a bitch.

Despite the run kicking my butt, I was all smiles. 

October
Austin City Limits - It's not always about running, but we did run while we were there. ACL has been on my to-do list for years.

After the rain storm at Band of Skulls. 

Palo Duro 50K - I wanted to give up, but I pushed on. Good thing, I snagged a 3rd place overall female win -- but it wasn't without a pretty swollen wrist and now a lovely scar.

I can't tell you how happy I was to be done.

November
Zebra Phriends 5K - A PR! The only reason I ran this race is for my friend Lesli, the race director. This is an organization that supports patients with pulmonary hypertension, which her father passed away from earlier this year. To my surprise, my Ribsy met me with about a half mile to go an ran me in -- 24:07. Still chasing that damn sub 24.

December
Isle Du Bois 54K - Twisty, turny, and rocky. Let's just say I survived it.

Christmas in Durango - Ice climbing, snow running, cross country skiing. It was heaven!

It was here, I looked down and got scared. 

My first cross country skiing adventure. 

Martin flying down the dirt road by the cabin. 

Merry Christmas from Durango. 

2013: A New Year, New Goals, New Adventures
A lot of amazing things on the calendar for 2013. It's going to be a big year with big goals and new adventures.

The first is Rocky Raccoon 50 in February, followed by Gorge Waterfalls 50K in March.

Martin and I signed up for "Summer Camp"...Team Multiple Trailgasims will be running the Transrockies 6-day stage race.

Other adventures continued to be discussed and plotted. Never a dull moment over here.

I wish you all the best in 2013, whatever your goals may be, just remember to live, laugh and love. It's about the adventure, not the finish line.





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon 50K

Palo Duro Canyon 50K
Canyon, Texas
October 20, 2012
6:25:11, 3rd Overall Female

For years, I have been hearing great things about this race. Not only a gorgeous course, but many of my trail running friends make the trip from DFW for a weekend of trails, fun and friendship.

The weather forecasts kept getting warmer and warmer the closer we got to the race. I knew it was be hotter on the canyon floor the forecast for Canyon, Texas.

Martin and I loaded up the ultra SUV and headed 6 hours west on Friday. As an added bonus mama and papa Guthrie drove down from Kansas to join us for the weekend.


Martin Guthrie Suann Lundsberg
Martin and I hanging out with good friends at the pre-race pasta dinner.
 Chilly Start
My friend Danyah, described the canyon perfectly as "two-faced". It was freezing at race start but I knew the heat was on its way and fast.
Because I knew it was going to heat up, I didn't even think to wear gloves, but sure would have been nice to have had warm fingers for the first hour.

I  took my place in about the upper 1/3 of the pack, while Martin went to the front to race with the fast ones.

Mark, a seriously fast bad ass runner made this his first ultra, and we started together. I took the lead, passing runners with a polite excuse me. Later he told me he was thinking to himself, "shit we are running a 50K at this pace?"

I felt great. I soon found Tony who was running the 50M and Mark and I inched by that group. Mark took off ahead of me right beofre the first aid station.

The first loop went exactly as planned, I arrived in 1:04, right where I wanted to be. I grabbed my new water bottled and headed out.

The Fall
Not long into the second loop, I see my sweetie walking back toward me. I stopped and asked him what happened. His calf seized up on him. He told me to go and that I looked great, gave me a kiss and off I went.

My heart sank when I saw him walking back. His calf hasn't bothered him for quite some time. I knew he was one of the top 3 runners at that point and it broke my heart.

I saw Corina and Julie who were running the 20K, they said I was first female. I said there is no way. They told me they hadn't seen another others. Knowing me, Corina says something to the effect of "how is that for motivation." Of course, it lit a little fire under me.

Not long after I said bye to Martin and saw the girls, I fell. Have not idea on what. But I landed on my wrist. Because I was still frozen, it didn't hurt that bad at the time. I was just shaken up. I told myself "you get one mile to slug it out, then back into race mode."

During that mile, my fingers and wrist swelled pretty good. And the throbbing started. I slowed down considerably.

I finished the second loop and saw Martin waiting at the drop bag area. I told him about my fall and he looked at my wrist. I told him it slowed me down and I don't know what my problem is. He said he expected me about 15 minutes ago. I said, I know. I just need to finish now. My goal time is done. He made me take some Tylenol before I set out on my final loop. I'm so glad I did.

I told him, I'll see you in 2 and a half hours or more. And off I went.

Dragging My Ass Through the Desert
Loop three sucked. It is now hot. Flashbacks of Zion went through my head --slugging through the desert in 95 degree heat.


Coming in for the finish.

I got to the first aid station and stood there for awhile contimplating ripping my bib off. I was not having the race I wanted. I didn't want that time next to my name.

I thought, well it's a two-mile walk back or 9 miles to finish. I thought, it would be nice to sit in the shade and watch my friends finish drinking a beer. Then I thought, hell, I'm not injured, just finish it. Training run. It's only 9 miles. Wait, that's going to be a long ass 9 miles.

I opted for the long ass 9 miles and left the aid station with a handful of chips.

I walked for bit. Then I finally stopped walking and said, you'll be done sooner if you run, dummy.

My last 6 miles ended up being pretty decent despite having an annoying sitch high up in my tummy.

As I made my way to the finish line, I see the RAW crowd cheering me on. It was so sweet. I crossed the line in 6:25:11 happy to be done. The RD tells me to wait he has something for me and hands me a duffle bag telling me I was third.

I tried to hand it back to him telling him there is no way. He went to double check and I was third female.

Martin stood there shaking his head at me and laughing at my antics.


My 3rd place bling.
 No matter how many ultras I run, I always learn more. This time, never quit. Don't get off that course unless you are injured. Tired and not your expected time doesn't allow you a DNF, in my book. There are races where a DNF was the smartest thing I did to avoid further injury. But a sucky time doesn't qualify.


What I liked, What I hated
Palo is great fun and a very well run race.

The good
  • Free pasta dinner the night before
  • Post race meal
  • Aid stations are close together so you don't need a hydration pack
  • Gorgeous trial
  • Rolling hills and pretty tame terrain can make this a fast race

The bad
There are too many people on this course, 500 -- 300 in the 20K and 200 in the 50K and 50M. It's single track and the back of the pack 20K runners are difficult to pass. Many were wearing headphones and could not hear you if you politely asked to pass.

While they made a big deal about the Dos Locos aid station ladies, I have to say they made me mad. I run in and I asked if the container was water, she said Heed. I said, I need water. The jug was positioned toward her on the other side of the table so only she could fill your bottle.

She put her hand up to me and said, "Hold on," as she chatted about nothing to a guy on a bike.

First, I don't expect people to fill my water. Turn the damn thing around so I can do it. Second, you NEVER tell a runner to wait while you are gabbing about what you ate for dinner. I know I'll catch heat for this because these people volunteer their day for this. Um, well, yeah, I have volunteered too and I would never make a runner wait. Have two containers -- one that you can fill and one that is self service.

On top of that there was NOTHING at that aid station but 5 gels and a small container of chips. Needless to say, I was just in a bad mood from this.

Will I be back? Oh heck yes! Great race with great friends. Besides, I have a little revenge I need to get on my time out there!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Impromptu 50K

Bartlett Park Ultras - 50K
Bartlett, Tennessee
September 13, 2012
5:45:40, 2nd overall female, 14th overall

I've been known to do a few last-minute races in the past. But, I did have to question my sanity a bit when I decided on a Wednesday afternoon to drive 7.5 hours to Tennessee to run a 50K the week after I ran a very hard trail marathon.

This is what happens when Libby and I start texting...

Lib:     I want to race again.
Me:     I am boyfriend less and child less this weekend. Find one and I'll go.
Lib:     I don't want to fly anywhere because of the AA issues.
Me:     Me either. Where can we drive to? There's an ultra in Tennessee.
Lib:     Oh, it's only 7.5 hours away!
Me:     Ok. I'll drive.

And off we went. We drove 6.5 hours Friday night after work and arrived in Tennesee at midnight. Slept for about 5 hours, got up and drove to the race site.

The race is in a heavily shaded park. The trails are nice, flat single track. A few rolling hills, but otherwise, pretty flat. A few roots suprised me, um, like 2 times as I kissed some Tennessee dirt.

The race started on a 1.6 mile loop and then took us out on another 7.45 mile loop, which we repeated 4 times.

I was quite impressed by the race organization. For $37, I honestly didn't expect much other than the aid stations are marked. To our suprise, the aid stations were heavily stocked with all the yummy ultra goodies. The volunteers were amazing! Every aid station, I felt like I had one volunteer who was 100% dedicated to me. Asking to fill my water, offering me food, encouraging me. They were amazing! And to our surpise, we got a nice medal for finishing -- something that was not advertised on the race website.

My goal this race was to maintain even splits on the loops and focus on my fueling. I decided to go with just Perpetum. That worked for about 2.5 loops. It made me feel very full and I just didn't like that feeling.

I dumped my bottle out and ended up just eating aid station food and drinking lots of Coke.

I went out the gate at a decednt 10:00 pace. Because of the single track and heavily wooded area, my Garmin was not registering correctly. My pace per mile was registering 11 or 11:30, which I knew was not correct.

I hit the first loop and after a bit, I decided to make my way to the front of the pack. I was feeling pretty good and I was running the hills very well. I maintained the lead up until the last loop.

I started feeling pretty yucky after about 2.5 loops. My stomach once again started bothering me as it was heating up pretty well. The second female was just a few minutes behind me and she was running strong. This was the push I needed to keep running strong for that third loop.

I focused on staying strong and pushing. I saw a few ladies on my tail toward the last aid station. I started slowing down as we approached the end of that third loop. It was getting hot and my stomach was really bothering me at this point. I tripped on a root at the very end of that loop and was passed by a gal.

I ran to my drop bag, tried to figure how I wanted to fuel for the last 7.5 miles, but there was nothing that I thought I could actually stomach. I took my gel flask, then ran back and put it back in my bag. I hit the port-a-potty and ended up walking for quite some time. I have no idea how far, but it was a good 15 minutes. The heat was taking it's toll on my and my tummy was just mad.

I finally decided I needed to run again and convinced myself that running slowly is better than walking and I just gingerly jogged the rest of it in.

I finished 2nd female and 14th out of 63 runners. While it's not a PR or the race I wanted (even splits), I did the best I could under the circumstances. This was a great opportunity for me to practice the things I need to work on for Palo Duro 50K and Rockledge Rumble 50K.

Here are my loops splits.

1.6 mile loop:      0:16
Loop 1:    1:13
Loop 2:    1:14
Loop 3:    1:20
Loop 4:    1:42

A big congratulations to my girlie Libby who ran a mother of a PR -- over an hour. Yes, she PRed her 50K time by over an hour in a hot and humid race!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rough Creek Trail Marathon

Rough Creek Trail Marathon (27.5 miles)
Glen Rose, Texas
September 15, 2012
5:37:06 - 4th female, 15th overall

I've grown to hate the marathon distance. It's turned into this odd distance where I just haven't figured out how fast I can run it. Throw in a difficult trail race and I'm all goofed up!

Martin and I pre-race. 


Martin agreed to pace me at the Rough Creek Trail Marathon. We talked about aiming for an average 11:00 pace. This seemed logical, but we underestimated the hilly section, called the Rusty Crown.

The Rusty Crown. We had 3.5 miles of this (2x so 7 miles).
This was the steepest of the hills. Steep, loose dirt, rocky. Don't underestimate her. 

The marathon is 2 loops. And other than the 3.5 miles of the Rusty Crown (x2), the rest of the race is pancake flat. This proved to be a challenge for me. The long flat sections felt boring, slow and tedious to me.

We came in off the first loop around 2:32. Right on schedule from what we originally planned. But the problem was my hamstrings were barking. It was only half way through the race and my legs were toast.

The top 4 of us girls all came in around the same time. I had a slight lead up until the last 2 miles on the flat section where my friend Chris took the lead.

Heading out for loop two, Martin told me, there's good news and bad news. The good news is the average pace we wanted is right on. The bad news is the course is longer than we both thought.  I told Martin my legs were really tired already. He said his were too.

My nutrition was better that it has been, but still not perfect. I put Hammer gel in a flask and sipped on it for the first loop. I did not finish my planned 500 calories of gel. But I did have some fruit at the aid stations.

Coming into the first aid station on loop two, I was feeling like I was bonking. My second gel flask had Espresso Hammer gel and I just didn't like it. It was too thick and was not coming out of the flask easily. And I was sick of gel.

Other than fruit, there wasn't much of anything I could eat at the aid stations. I'm a big potato chip eater. And I love tortillas and ham or white bread with some ham -- neither option was available. So I ate a few orange slices and took a handful of grapes and got ready to climb.

While I was climbing very strong on my first loop, my energy was zapped and my hamstrings were too.

Somewhere toward the end of second trip to the Crown, I lost my 3rd place spot as I was struggling up the steeper sections. I took a bit of a tumble.

Here's the Crown. Isn't she a beauty?


I caught up to Martin and said, "I'm tired, hungry and my legs hurt." He later told me, "There is no whining in ultra running."

We decided I needed to tank up at the Rusty Crown aid station as soon as we got down the Crown. I dumped my water bottle and filled it with about 8-10 ounces of Coke, ate a bunch of fruit, filled up my bottle and headed out.

Here's the crappy flat part that I hated. I actually liked the Crown because while it was steep, none of the climbs were long and were followed by a good down. This flat stuff just felt slow and boring to me.


I knew I couldn't catch up to the girls as they were really pulling hard on the flats where at this point, I told Martin, if I'm running the rest of the way to the finish, I'll be happy.

We plugged along and hit the final aid station, more Coke and fruit and we were off for the home stretch.

Martin said, there's no one near us, but I don't think we should slack off. I said, no, I came here to run an 11 pace and I want to at least finish at that pace.

Nearing the finish line, he told me less than a mile. I couldn't see any females near me, but I asked him to look. I told him I lost my podium spot, but I'm not losing my spot now and don't want someone barreling on the flats to surprise me.

We crossed the line in 5:37:06. A terrible positive split, but the best I could do.

Dave put on another fantastic race. The course was well marked, a ton of great smiling volunteers and the usual great grub. But as I told Martin about 100 times before the race and several times during the race, "I want Hammond's BBQ!" So we took off and got me my BBQ. Thanks Sweetie!

Thanks to all the volunteers and Dave! Fun day on the trail! The weather could not have been better - mid 70s and overcast. Loved it!