Saturday, December 31, 2011

Closing out 2011 with 26.2

New Year's Double Marathon
Dec. 31, 2011
4:08:28, 1st Age Group, 7th Female, 27th Overall

As much as I like to tell everyone, "I'm not racing" or "I'm not going to stress over this marathon," you all know I'm trying to convince myself more than you right?

Fact: You put a chip on me, I'm racing.

Fact: The marathon and I have an abusive relationship. I can run an ultra stress free, but the marathon scares me. He's been so abusive. We fight. Some days he wins. Some days I win.

Fact: I will worry myself sick before a marathon. Literally. My stomach revolts.

I put in lots of miles the week of this marathon. Why? Because I'm training for Rocky Raccoon. Yes, Marathon, take that you bastard, I'm cheating on you. Have been since November. Deal.

Friday, my stomach goes south. This morning, my stomach is not happy again. I'm chewing papaya enzyme like it's going out of style. It's helping.

I decided to run what I thought I could run and see how long I could hold on. I may have started out too fast, but honestly, I think my calories were down. 90 calories every hour, just isn't enough.

Wheels fell off about 16. I was still pacing to finish at a sub 4, but I really didn't want to fight for another 10 miles at this pace.

I saw Ninja at about 21 and he said, "You're cutting it close." I told him, "It's not happening today."

At 22, a volunteer told me, she thought I was first in my AG and one of the top 10 females. That was just the kick in the ass I needed to keep going. I said, "Thank you for kicking me in the butt. I really needed that."

I knew by now a sub 4 was out of the question. While part of me wanted to just walk it in, I thought, eh, let's run it out and see how I place. The concrete was really killing me. I have gotten so used to trails. This stuff was pounding on my hips, my feet. I really was longing to be on the trails.

I crossed the finish line at 4:08:28. Good enough for a 1st place age group win, 7th overall female and 27th overall.

So it wasn't my sub 4. But I'm not calling this a win for Marathon. I ran the best race I could run today.

2011 Stats:
4 marathons
2 ultra marathons (my first ultra followed by 2nd ultra 7 days later)
1 30K
2 trail half marathons, 1 road half marathon
2 sprint triathlons

Total milage
Ran: 1,724
Cycled: 403

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

A big year with a lot of twists and turns, both running wise and personally. But I have to say, 2011 has been good to me. Here's a quick recap.

5K - Sub 24. Well, I got close, 24:29
Maration - Sub 4. Again, I got close, 4:00:06. Stupid 7 seconds.
70.3 - The triathlon and I broke up in September. So I totally bailed on this one.

January - Kicking things off right
Started the year off right with a New Year's Day half marathon. Paced Mama C for a near PR. "You can cry when we're done."

February - Cowtown love
On a stupid hot and humid and windy Texas day, Mama C and I tried for that marathon PR. While we came up short, one thing is for sure, that woman has got more drive and passion than anyone I know. I am honored to have paced her for 26.2 and to call her my friend.

I also competed in my first duathlon. I did ok with a 5th place AG placement.

March - The month of the triathlon
In my usual fashion, I didn't train for the St. Paddy's Day Tri, but ended up with a 2-minute course PR. On a whim, I did the Tri Cowtown and ended up with a 5K PR. Who PRs a 5K during a tri?

I also came the closest I have ever gotten to WINNING race. I ended up 2nd overall female at the Boopa's 5K. I'll do this race every year in loving memory of Jayden and Lisa. Lisa was co-owner of Boopa's Bagels. Her son and her were brutally murdered in a domestic violence situation. No matter what, Lisa always had a smile on her face when you walked into her shop.

April - Seven seconds of separation
This was supposed to be it, my big sub 4 marathon. I ran a damn fine race. I knew I was cutting it close to come in under four hours. Well, I missed it by 7 seconds. Stupid marathon. I'll be back, you bastard.

May - Trail time
I ran my longest trail run, went through water waist high. Had an abosulte blast! I think this was the start of what was to come.

June - The heat is on
The start of the hottest summer in Texas began. So I ran a 5K. It sucked. So did the rest of the summer.

July - Longest bike ride
Still thinking I was going to do a 70.3, Mel, Beans and I hit the road to Stevenville for the Firecracker bike ride. It was hot, hilly and undulating. The best part was the fish tacos and beer at Fuzzy's afterward.

August - Race across the sky
I had the pleasure of crewing and pacing at the Leadville 100 Trail Race. Leadville, I'll be back, but this time, I'm running you.

I also ran my first trail half marathon in Seattle. Here, I earned my nickname, Honeybee, when at mile 10, a bee stung me on the ankle through my sock.

The day before I ran Cougar Mountain, I got my 5K PR at the Auburn Good Ol' Days 5K. Had the pleasure of running my good HS and college buddy, Peter in for the last bit.

September - More trails
Dashed through another trail half marathon in Seattle and really fell in love with this trail running stuff. Got to run my first race with Jeff in Seattle. And met his beautiful new baby boy.

It was September that I officially broke up with the triathlon. Realizing that my passion was running, I decided to focus my training in one discipline. Between traveling a lot and the hot summer, I could not devote the time on the bike, my weakest link.

October - Disaster strikes
It's not always fun and games, but one thing is for damn sure, I have the best friends in the world who are my rock when I can't be. Thinking I was going to throw away Long Beach and not go, I asked K2 to join me. She dropped everything and came to Cali with me and ran that marathon with me. It was still a disaster, in fact my personal worst, but I made it through with a little help from my friends. It's not how hard you fall, but how gracefully you recover.

The highlight of October for me was crewing and pacing Jeremy at the Cactus Rose 100. And being there to witness he and Reece complete something epic.

November - Ultra Madness
The one thing about me, if I fall, I'm gonna get up stronger than before. I ran my first ultra, Rockledge Rumble 50K.

Seven days later turned around and ran 12-hour Ultracentric. I felt on top of the world. Placed 3rd female at Ultracentic and 5th overall. I think I found my nitch.

December - Big decisions
I'll close December with a full marathon on Dec. 31. Maybe I'l sub 4 it, maybe I won't. One thing is for sure, I'm not going to worry myself sick over it. Those days are done.

I made a big decision, I chose my first 100. Zion 100 in May. I have my days where I think just one foot in front of the other, you can do this. Then I have my days where I start freaking out and looking at the calendar and what races do I need to do to prepare and what should my training look like. This will be the most difficult and challenging adventure of my life. But you know me, I'm always up for a challenge.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I had an amazing year. I feel truely blessed to have such an amazing group of friends who support and believe in me. I am one lucky girl. At the risk of missing someone, I'm gonna call out a few of you...

Bojana - You have been there through the best and the worst. We can solve the world's problems over a can of tuna or sushi. I love you.

Bemadthen (Lisa) - You always know how to make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. You can't NOT smile around Bemadthen.

Beans - Dude, you know you're a good friend when you loan me your shoes when I forgot mine. Shafer 1.5, Thanksgiving orphans, Ruth Chris, Speedway, BNSF track. Beans and Rice. Rice and Beans.

K2 - Whine and wine and marathons. You are an awesome friend.

Ribs - My Ribsy. My mentor. "Love you forever, ever and ever. Love you with all my heart."

The weekend trail gang: Josh, Reece, Chris, Erich, Ninja and others - Northshore is always a blast with you all.

Jeremy - I think you are the reason I'm doing this insane ultra stuff. Thank you for inspiring me and all your advice. I miss our weekend runs.

Mel - I'm super proud of you and all you have achieved this year. You are a rock star and will go far. I look foward to the day you kick my ass in a marathon. It will be soon.

Mama C - When I grow up I want to have the drive and passion that Mama C has. You are an inspiration.

To everyone else who has been there for me, thank you, thank you, thank you.

In closing, I want to leave you with my favorite quote as of late. "Anyone who every gave you confidence, you owe them a lot," Audrey Hepburn. Each one of you has given me confidence to move to me that next goal. And I owe you a lot.

Wishing you a great 2012. See you on the trails!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review of Scoott eRide Grip Trail Shoe

I've been searching for a light weight trail shoe with a decent sole that could withstand some pretty rocky trail here in Texas.

John, who runs Run Break, said he knew the perfect shoe and asked me to review the Scott eRide Grip IM.

Not knowing Scott even made trail shoes, I serached the world wide web to see what I could find out about this shoe. I was pretty shocked when I could not find much information about this shoe and no reviews.

John said that he's been impressed with them and has become a distributor because he can't find a lot of folks who carry them.

I was skeptical at first. This was not a shoe that looked light. I could not find the weight of this thing on the Scott website or any website for that matter. But it looked super cool.

I immediately took them out of the box and they fix perfectly. They are quite comfortable and more flexible than I thought they would be.

They have a great sole with some good grip on them.

According to Scott, this shoe has an "Ergologic Ride™"

Run more naturally:

1.) With its mild Rocker Shape and lower heel height, the unique midsole design promotes a healthier body position and running form.

2.) EMG Testing at the “Human Performance Lab”, University of Calgary*, indicates that the eRide-Technology is more energy efficient than standard designs.

3.) eRide enables a midfoot strike while providing a more cushioned and stable platform. The unique shape smoothly accommodates heel, midfoot or forefoot strikers.

4.) The rocker heel shape effectively creates a lower profile heel, minimizing heel-strike.

5.) The mild rocker geometry creates a smoother transition between phases of the gait cycle and more efficient propulsion.

6.) The minimalistic sole design is lighter weight and puts the foot closer to the ground, while still providing necessary cushioning, protection and traction.

Scott also boasts a new Ion-Mask technology. According to Scott, IM is ...
"Invisible to wearers, the protective layer of ion-mask™ is over one thousand times thinner than a human hair. The technology is molecularly bonded to the whole surface of the product making it extremely durable without affecting the look or feel of the product. Furthermore, ion-mask™ lasts as long as the material itself and is not compromised by everyday wear. Treated articles keep wearers comfortable and dry by repelling water from outside and maintaining optimum control of temperature and breathability. By resisting the absorption of water and dirt, ion-mask™ also helps guard against stains, making products look newer for longer."

I ran 12 miles on these on the trails of Northshore at Lake Grapevine. I would say this trail is a 3 in technical. The shoes did great. They were nimble and flexible, but I would hardly call them "minimal" as Scott says.

The next weekend, I ran a 10-mile race at Isle Du Bois. This trail is full of rocks. And I was glad to have this shoe. The shoe has enough of a sole to keep those rocks from killing the bottom of your feet, but are still flexible. The one thing I hate about the Brooks Cascadias are that they are just too stiff in the sole.

Bottom line:
- It's not a minimalist shoe.
- It's a good lighter weight shoe that has some great tread and good for rocky terrain.
- I don't buy into this whole business of it helping with a midfoot stride. They say that it has a "rocker" sole. Eh, could not really notice that at all.

If you want a decent, lightweight shoe that has some grip and is good on rocks, this is a good choice. If you are looking for a more minimalist shoe, this is not a good choice.

For more information on the shoe (which isn't much), see the Scott website

Also, go visit Run Break for his review of another Scott model. It's also a great resoruce for other shoes and gear.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Buckle Up! The Road to 100 - Zion 100

Zion is a Hebrew word meaning "a place of peace and relaxation".

While there is nothing relaxing about running a 100 miler, there is something oddly peaceful right now about where I am at with my running, which makes this race perfect for my first 100 miler.

I was the girl who would obessive over a bad race and couldn't erase it from my head until I ran the next one. I was the girl who literally worry herself sick before a marathon. I was the girl who was afraid to miss a run or divate from the planned workout schedule. I was a girl who wasn't taking the time to enjoy the journey -- just racing to the finish line.

I think ultrarunning changed that.

I no longer obsess over my pace. What my finish time will be. Will I BQ. None of that matters any more. The journey is the reward.

And it's time for the next adventure in this journey -- Zion 100 May 11-12.

This is the innagural race, which also happens to be my first 100.

There are a lot of things that attracted me to this race:
- Zion! Enough said.
- It's a figure 8 coruse where you only repeat a few miles. I HATE LOOPS.
- The RD is making it VERY first 100 runner friendly. A very generous cut off of 36 hours.
- Pacers are allowed after 32.5 miles. Something very uncommon in a 100. It's generally after 50 miles.
- I need to check off Utah as a state.

So after thinking about this for, oh all of a few hours, I pulled the trigger. I'm in. I guess I better buy a new belt for that shiny buckle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Isle Du Bois - Isle Du Rock

Isle Du Bois 10 Mile Race
December 10, 2010
Pilot Point, Texas

I think "bois" means wood in French. I think this would have been more appropriately named Isle du Rock. There were just a few out there.

After feeling on top of the world with two amazing races, I got injured. Allbeit a quick injury with a fast recovery, but I was injured. I had to admit (once again) that maybe I bit off more than I could chew -- my first 50K, followed by 54 miles a week later led to a slight knee injury right before Isle Du Bois 50K.

I just started back up running the week of the race. While my knee was pain free, I knew that throwing down 31 miles after being off from an injury was just plain stupid. Not to say that stupid is something I haven't done before. But this time, I had to keep the end game in mind. My A race wasn't Isle Du Bois. This was a training run. My A race is Rocky Raccoon 50 mile. I swallowed my pride and emailed David, the RD. He reassured me that I was making the right decision, but I still felt like a sell out.

I arrived at the race site and found Ninja and Trigolfer. Stacy and Drum had camped there (those crazy girls it was freezing!). Grabbed my bib and immediately went back to my car to keep warm. Got out of my car to see the 50k-ers off. My buddy Chris was running the 50K. We were planning on running it together and I felt terrible leaving her. But she understodd.

I loved this trail. It's rocky and has some long climbs. Nothing steep, but just enough to keep you on your toes.

The race was cup free! Yay! Kudos to the RD David for making this a cup free race! Mama C was working one aid station and said something about only one trash bag for the entire race. ONE TRASH BAG!

I ran a steady even pace. I didn't want to race this thing due to my knee. I really wanted to get the miles in and just see how things feel. So I kept it at a comfortable pace and just enjoyed the day.

This is a great new trail race for the DFW area. Thank you to David for putting on this inagural race. All the volunteers for freezing your tooshies and taking care of us runners. I'll be back next year!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ultracentric - Ultra Amazing

Ultracentric 12-Hour Endurance Run
November 19, 2011
54 miles, 11:37:54
3rd Female, 5th Overall

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to perform as well as I did yesterday. Here I am a week after my first ultra, Rockledge Rumble 50K, and I'm running the longest I ever have in my life. Twice as long as Rockledge, as a matter of fact. I have never run this distance before and quite honestly didn't have a clue as to how my body would handle it.

For those not familiar with Ultracentric, it's a 2-mile course. Your object is to run as many loops as you can in your time. There is a 6-, 12-, 24- and 48-hour option. I had no expectations going in, but I thought I could run about 50 miles. I figured I would hold a 10:30 pace as long as I could and then see what happens. If I need to cut out early, so what, I won't run the full 12 hours.

It was a little warmer and way more humid than I would have liked, but the overcast was a Godsend. I was feeling really good despite the fact I ran 32 miles a week ago.

At 9 a.m. Ninja and TriGolfer and I toed the line for our little adventure. Ninja was also in for the 12 and TriGolfer for the 24.

Many of you who follow my blog can recall that fueling and hydration has been a big issue for me this year. Last weekend, I used only water and Salt Stick Caps for my electrolytes. I fueled with a gel every hour for the first 3 hours and then switched to solid foods...fruit and potato chips and Coke.

This race was a completely different animal. How am I going to fuel for 50+ miles?!?! Well, I did the same thing, except I cut out the gels and decided to use them at the end if my stomach wasn't tolerating solids.

I took 2 salt stick caps every hour and fueled about ever hour on fruit and potato chips. Later in the night, I took a couple quarters of ham and cheese sandwiches. And I was taking a swig of Coke about every loop. I tried to keep my calories about 150-200 an hour. I was probably much less than that for the first 40 miles.

My buddy Triboomer came out to see the start and hung out for quite some time taking pictures. It was so nice to have a little cheering section for a bit. He said goodbye to me right about my 12-mile mark and said he would be back.

A few minutes later, Beans arrived. He brought me some Body Glide and walked a half loop with me. And crewed me a little by filling up my water bottle and getting me some of my favorite Gingerbread Cookies!

Off I went for some more loops. Around mile 27, My friend Greg stopped by and ran a few loops with me. Left and then came back with a huge Coke from Sonic. It was EXACTLY what I needed. In the words of The Oatmeal, it tasted like unicorn tears.

Around mile 40, my feet are feeling the pounding of this darn cement. I told TriGolfer I had felt some blisters going on. He suggested I swap out into my other pair of shoes. Changed out my socks and shoes and decided it was time to put on my Salomon compression 3/4 tights. Wow! What a difference. My legs felt so much better!

My knee started acting up about this time too. I felt very still. So at this point, took a pretty good walk 2 miles. I also grabbed some Advil. Not sure if I should, Ninja and TriGolfer said to go ahead and take it but keep hydrating.

I grabbed my phone and updated my FB status since I knew people were wondering where I was. I also texted a few friends to keep me company for the next loop. Everyone was so encouraging!

Next loop, I was feeling pretty good so I began running again. I told someone that if my knee was really bad, I was calling it a day at 50. I hit my goal of 50 at 10:35. I was feeling ok so I made the decision to keep going. This was a walk/run for the next 4 miles.

And there it was. My finish line! 54 miles. And then it hit me! Holy crap! I just ran 54 freaking miles? Me? Did I do that? Yeah I did. I have the blisters to prove it. What was more amazing, I came in 3rd female and 4th or 5th overall. There was another guy who also ran 54 miles, but I'm not sure how the RD is going to slot that. Regardless, TOP 5?!?!?! After running my first ultra last weekend? I'm stunned, really.

I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people! Thank you to Triboomer, Beans and Greg for coming out to see me! Your friendship is amazing!

Thank you to all the volunteers at Ultracentric. YOU ARE AMAZING!

Congratulations to all the runners who did something epic yesterday!

Some of the 12-hour Ultracentric girls and one of the boys. Of the top 5, 3 were women! Girl power!

And my Ribsy wrote a blog for the Dallas Morning News. Read it here.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Rockledge Rumble 50K
Nov. 12, 2011
6:39:48, 12th female, 38th overall
First 50K

"Its a brand new day
I'm still alive
What can I say?
The road was mighty hard
But its okay
I did my pride
Just one more mile"
Just One More Mile, Paper Tongues

I did it. I ran a big race EXACTLY how I wanted it. No regrets. I trusted my pace. I trusted my body and I did it. It went exactly as planned.

This was the most calm I have ever been coming into a race. I had no expectations other than to finish. I had a goal in mind, but it was a loose goal. I had never covered this distance before so I didn't know how I was going to feel.

Additionally, after the stomach issues I had in Long Beach, I was trying a new fueling plan and I really had no clue how that was going to work. Instead of Gatoraid or any other electrolyte drink, I took the advice of Jeremy and Josh to go with just water and Salt Stick Caps. I also took Troy's advice and took along papaya enzyme for any tummy issues. Good thing I did because they started up around mile 20. But that stuff is a miracle and calmed my stomach right away.

Coming into the race, Chris and I talked the week before about running together. We stuck together the entire race and I can honestly say that if it wasn't for her, I would not have done as well as I had. I didn't want to disappoint her, so I ran every step of that race. We took time at the aid stations, but other than that, we were running. For the most part we kept an even pace, right where I thought we would be.

I felt pretty darn strong up until 20. It was getting tougher, but I was able to maintain my pace. When we got to 27 and our last aid station stop, I just wanted to be done. It was getting warmer and I was ready to get done. My stomach started acting up after we left that last aid station and I just decided I only had 5 miles left and to stop drinking water.

I remember a biker behind us wanting to pass. I was grumpy at this point and didn't want to stop for fear of not starting back up again. I reluctantly moved over to the side and tried to keep running on the side.

With an mile to go, I stubbed my toe. The one that's already black from my Dash Point experience. I was convinced it was gone. The only thing that helped keep my mind off the throbbing pain was to say the "F" word repeatedly. Sorry, Chris.

On our final stretch to the pavillion, we came off the trail and that stupid grass was like running through water. I felt so slow. And the wind was gusting like a darn hurricane!

The best part of this race, you get to finish up a darn stair case! Lovely, just what I want after 32 miles.

I gave it my all out on that course. I don't really care what my time was. What I care about was the fact that I didn't let my head get the best of me. I was confident of my ability and did what I thought I could do. And with that, who cares what my time is? It was a personal best in race strategy and psychology. Something that means more to me than what the clock says.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crewing the Cactus Rose 100M

Cactus Rose 100M Endurance Trail Run
Bandera, Texas
October 29, 2011

I honestly have to say that I have met the most amazing people through running. There is an unwritten rule that runners help other runners. You don't think twice about it, you just do it because you want to. It's who we are in the running community.

I have been running with Jeremy for the past few years. A little group of us would get up before the roosters and start running in Grapevine before the sun came up. Our goal, get as many miles in before that giant fireball in the sky zaps the life out of us.

Last year, I had a disaster marathon in Chicago. I plotted my revenge marathon as I always do. Jeremy told me he was going to run it with me. He knew how upset I was after Chicago and he wanted to help me achieve a goal that was important to me. He didn't need to run a marathon. He just wanted to help me.

When Jeremy said he was going to make Cactus Rose 100 his first 100 mile race, I immediately jumped at the chance to help out in anyway I could.

According to the race director, Cactus Rose is no joke...."No whiners, wimps, or wuses: A nast rugged trail run. Bonus points for blood, cuts, scrapes and puke." He means every word of that. Unlike most 100s, this race is UNAIDED. This means, there is water and ice at the aid stations. You want anything else, you figure out how to get it there. My job was to ensure Jeremy has his food, electorlytes, whatever else he needed at every aid station.

First of all, I love crewing. I really do. There is something amazing about helping someone do something epic--being part of that magic. And selfishly, I wanted to see what this trail is all about because I am considering Bandera 100K.

You learn a lot when you are crewing -- how to fuel, how to run certain sections, what do you do if you are feeling sick. If you are considering an ultra, the best way to prepare is to go out and crew and pace someone.

I also had the opporutnity to help other runners at the aid stations while waiting for Jeremy. From giving someone advil, to asking them if they are ok, to getting them water, or just offering them some words of encouragment.

Another friend of mine, Reece was also running his first 100 mile race at CR. I mentioned to Reece on a trail run the weekend before that he should try to run with Jeremy for the first 50. They are about the same pace. They chattted and agreed they would try, but they are running their own race and if they split, no hard feelings.

Well, a lot happens out there on the course. When 50 miles rolled around, I kept hearing these exchanges between them at the aid stations, "hey wait up", "just need a few more seconds." At 65, I joined the boys to pace on the toughest section of the trail. They were asking each other for damage reports, telling each other to walk or run. I said something about going forward since they each had pacers now. Reece said, "Oh no. We are sticking together for the entire 100 miles." I was a little suprised. They had made a promise to each other to cross that finish line together. So at this point, us pacers were really there for comedic relief and to keep them on the trail!

I guess my point in all this is that the running community is full of amazing people. The ultra running community is full of really freaking amazing people....whether it's "hey do you have any body glide", to giving someone encouraging words to get them through that next mile, from random strangers who agree to pace you.

Reece and Jeremy ended up pulling together to help each other get that belt buckle. And honestly, this is so true of their personalities. Either one of these guys would drop anything to help another runner out.

Crewing and pacing Jeremy was my small way of saying thanks for his years of friendship, stupid crazy early morning runs that required him listening to my whinning, complaining, bad jokes and singing before the sun comes up. But also, I guess I'm paying it forward because I know when I do something epic, I can count on him.

My Ribsy wrote a blog on the epic adventure! Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Long Beach - My longest 26.2

Long Beach Marathon
October 9, 2011

I don't even want to write this post. I want to erase the last 13.1 miles from my mind forever. But because I blog about all my races, I gotta write the good, the bad and the ugly. Well Long Beach Marathon, marathon #6, state #5 was bad and ugly!

I wasn't even going to go. I had a horrendous past few weeks. Caught a terrible cold. My head was not in the game. And I know for damn sure when my head is not in the game, I'm not going to run well.

But I went. I reached out to K2 and asked if she would consider coming to Long Beach with me. She dropped everything and with only 2 weeks noticed agreed. A good friend is one who drops everything for you. An amazing friend is someone who drops everything, travels across the country and runs a damn marathon with you.

So what went wrong. This was the earliest I have EVER felt fatigued in a race. I ran strong until about mile 10. My legs started feeling heavy. At mile 11, my foot caught a hole in the ground and I nearly fell, grabbing K2. Apparently I have some muscle cuz she has a big shiner to prove it.

I hit the half at 1:55:31, about where I wanted to be. K2 asked me how I was doing. I told her it's going to be a long half marathon. I'm hurting. She asked me what hurts. I said, my legs are heavy. I just don't have it in me today. Then I said, it's not my day and I'm ok with that. I told her to go on right before 15. I knew this was going to be ugly.

Then when I thought it couldn't get worse, my stomach goes bad. Really, really bad. This was the first time when I seriously considered a DNF. I wanted off this course. I was in serious pain. My cramps would not go away. I got dizzy. Then I realized at mile 18 I had stopped sweating. WTH? I was taking in fluids at every water stop, which was EVERY mile. It was not hot by Texas standards. I have run in worse conditions and haven't felt this bad.

My next strategy was "Just Finish." Mr. Kevin Green, your words sang to me that day. Don't care how to get it done, just get it done was my goal. I ran when I could. I walked when I couldn't. I told myself, training run, this is a training run for Rockledge Rumble 50K.

At around 20, I ran into a local who was also having bad day. The heat was really bothering him. We decided to start running together. I lost him after the next water stop because I decided to keep running, allbeit a slow pace.

Ego left when a woman running in Crocs passed me. Really? Oh this is bad. But I actually laughed.

Mile 24, "Chris" and his friend were running in front of me. Chris had a personal cheering section. All kinds of folks cheering him, asking him how he's doing. And the only thing he says for what felt like 30 minutes was "I'm dying. I'm dying. Oh my God, I'm dying." After the 40th "I'm dying," I ran up to Chris and his friend and said, "Dude if you are talking you're not dying. HTFU. The worst is behind you. You have a damn mile left." His friend laughed and said, "I like her, she's tough."

Ok, this may not be my personal best. In fact it's my personal worst. But I'll take the "she's tough" and go with it. I ran 10 miles on the worst stomach upset I have even encountered -- EVER. That is tough. What's tougher? I'm not giving up.

Did I cry? Duh. Of course I did. Did I have a pitty party? Yep. And I want to thank all of you for coming. But the pitty party is over. I'm moving on.

Marathon, you got me again, you bastard. But I'm stronger than you. And I'm a fighter. Until we meet again...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Never Settle. Never Stop.

"If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on." -- Steve Jobs

Simple, but powerful words.

The world was changed by the thoughts & ideas of a man who had the courage to do something he loved.

Too many of us settle. Many of us learn this the hard way through heartache, tears and frustration. It's easier to settle. It's safer.

But isn't anything worth having worth the risk of failing?

Whether it's work, love, life or a marathon promise yourself you'll never settle. Never stop reaching.

Goodspeed Steve Jobs. I promise not to settle.

Long Beach, Marathon #6, State 5.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Never Settle. Never Stop.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is it in my head?

Is it in my head
Is it in my head
Is in my head here at the start?
Is it in my head
Is it in my head
Is it in my head, or in my heart?

Fitting verse from one of my favorite bands, The Who.

Queen of freaking out. That's me. Chicago last year was a disaster. It was all in my head. For me, the question is not whether or not I'm physically ready, it's whether or not I'm mentally ready.

I ran my last long run for Long Beach today. My friend Josh ran with me. He ran with me all last year and was there as I trained for Chicago. He told me that I was running stronger than he has ever seen me. And I feel fantastic. I ran 20.5 miles today at an easy 9:11 pace. It was effortless. We were talking, laughing about the double rainbow, having a good time. I felt like I could run that pace forever. Then Josh told me the biggest problem I have is the space between my ears. That was not the first time I heard that.

I think I'm getting better. I ran a hilly Milford 30K on a hot, humid day. Usually, I would freak out and piss and moan the rest of the weekend about how crappy I did. The difference, I started the race, knowing how the heat is my enemy and told myself, it's a training run. The result was a decent finish at a 9:30 pace and a much better outlook!

I've got a race strategy. I'm ready.If things don't go my way, I won't keep obsessing over my watch. I'm going to turn it off and enjoy the training run. But I have a feeling I won't have to do that.

Stay tuned!

Last week:
Monday - 9 miles
Tuesday - 10 miles at lunch, 3.1 miles after work
Wednesday - 8 miles
Thursday - 6.2 mile tempo
Friday - 6.2 mile (Run at Work Day)
Saturday - Run in the Dark 5K
Sunday - 20.5 miles

Weekly Total - 66.1 miles

Josh - the double rainbow is for you! Wish I had my camera today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dashing in Dash Point

Dash Point Trail Half Marathon
Federal Way, WA
Sept. 10, 2011
13.3 miles - 2:44:35, 7th AG, 35th Overall

This weekend I participated in my second trail race, The Dash Point Trail Half Marathon. Only having started running on the trails this summer, the number of miles I have put into trail running are minimal compared to what I have put on the road. And living in Texas, we don't really have a lot of hills to train on. So what do I do? I sign up for these trail races in Seattle where they tell you a 2,500+ foot elevation gain in 13 miles is a "flat course." Um, ok, if you train on the Swiss Alps, that's flat.

I had some packing issues, like I forgot contacts. I wear daily disposable contacts and forgot to bring any. I also forgot my sunglasses and any gels. Jeff Webb saved the day with a gel for me and some sun glasses, which I didn't end up needing since it was a fabulous shaded course.

I made a few mistakes in this race. Thinking the race was flatter than it was and the trail was non-technical, I ran in my Saucony A4s. Because I didn't have my contacts in, I couldn't see any detail -- like the roots on the ground. I stubbed my toe a lot! That said, I probably won't race trail in those shoes again. I felt every rock, pebble and root under my foot and it just bugged me.

The race was a 2-loop course, starting with some pretty good climbs. I took the first loop pretty fast 1:16:21. And clearly it was too fast, when I started loop two looking at those climbs was exhausting. The first climb is a set of wooden stairs going over a bridge, followed by a hill climb made easier by some logs as stairs. On loop two, I had to walk up this. I was proud that the rest of the climbs, I ran. Well, I call it running anyway. It was faster than a walk, but probably not as fast as some people can power hike.

Once I got through the climb section, I got my energy back and was able to pick up the pace and felt pretty good. My second loop split was 1:28:13.

Last month, I ran the Cougar Mountain Half Marathon in 3:03. I finished this race in 2:44. While Cougar was a little more in elevation climb than Dash Point, I think I have already made some pretty good improvements. I walked a lot more of Cougar Mountain and got passed a lot at the end. This go around, I did much, much better!

The course was very well marked, well priced and well aided. I would certainly recommend it!

Leaving Only Footprints

I'm really digging this trail racing stuff. I've always liked smaller races. In fact after Chicago Marathon I vowed to never do a race that size again. Why? Crowds stress me out. I'm already a mess of nerves on race day anyway. But add the stress of finding the start line amongst 40,000 people, waiting in line for 30 minutes to pee, crowded aid stations, the masses of humanity at the start line, tripping over paper cups, banana peels, and I become agitated, nervous, frustrated, sick to my stomach -- and this is before I toe the line.

What I've found at these trail races is that, many of the races are a few hundred people or less. As reference, my favorite road marathons have been no more than 300 people.

Ever better yet, in trail running, since many of the aid stations are miles apart, it's expected you carry your own hydration. Therefore when you get to an aid station, a majority of the runners refill their water bottles. What does this mean? And why do I see this as a benefit? Well if you have ever run the Chicago Marathon and slipped on a street lined with banana peels, sponges and paper cups, you know what I mean.

The more I race trail runs, the more disgusted I get when I see all this litter and waste at road races. It's dirty. It's gross. It's sad. Really.

I will be participating in the Isle de Bois 50K on December 10. There is also a 10-mile option. This is a CUP FREE race. BYOC. Don't know how to race cup free, read the race director's blog.

Yes, there are challenges. Yes, people will complain. But guess what guys, it's not up to the race directors to make a change. It starts with the runners. Yeah, that's right you. Instead of complaining that the race director didn't have cups, even though it was WELL advertised as a cup-free race, make a commitment to reduce, reuse. Don't throw your gel packets on the floor, use the trash cans provided. Yes, it's sticky and you don't want to put it in your pocket, so what? Isn't it better that you get sticky than a wild animal ingesting your left overs? Let's face it, you're dirty, sweaty, smelly and gross anyway. And sticky to the equation and you're one hawt mess. You can shower later.

I know, you're going to tell me that you're not going to carry your own cup in a 5K race or a road marathon. That's fine. I probably won't either. But let's try to throw our trash in the trash cans provided. Some people will carry their cups well after the aid station and throw their trash in someone's yard. Or their gel packets on the ground. Let's be respectful. You'd be pissed if someone threw trash in your front yard. Honestly in most cases, the nano second it takes for you to toss your cup in the trash, won't hurt your race.

We have a personal responsibility to ensure these beautiful places are here for not only us to enjoy, but our future generations. Let's make it a goal to leave only footprints.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Milford 30K - Hills, Heat, Humidity, Hooray!

Milford 30K - Milford, Mi
September 3, 2011

Texas summers really do a number on my head. My pace is slow. I struggle. I feel like I'm going backward, not forward. Plain and simple, I do not run well in the heat. More than anything, it makes me question my ability, where I am at in my training, and is a serious blow to my self confidence.

Before summer came, I made the decision not to race in Texas in the summer. It does nothing for me but screw with my head. So I'm been racing every other place I've been for work or pleasure this summer. If I'm there and a race interests me, I try to make a go of it.

Last time I was in Michigan, I tried to PR a 10K. Well, it was 87 degrees and 80-something percent humidity and it was a disaster. Like the kind of disaster where you puke all over yourself. At that race, I saw a little flyer for the Milford 30K on Labor Day weekend. Knowing I was going to be visiting Steve that weekend, I kinda wanted to do the racing. Surely it will be cooler, right? BWAAAAHHHH!!!!!! Wrong. So very wrong.

Every time I kept looking at the forecast, it kept getting hotter. Friday night I arrived in Michigan and it was hot and humid. I didn't sleep well because I was so hot.

Saturday morning, race day. It's close to 90 degrees and feels like a damn sauna. I wanted to run a marathon pace run. I felt good, despite some pretty high miles earlier that week and a knee that was acting up.

I went out the gate and knew today was not going to be a sub 9 day. So instead of fighting it and having a miserable race, I told myself to let it go and just enjoy the race. I slowed my pace and took it easy.

I am so glad I did! I loved this race. It was probably the hilliest race I have ever run. It was mostly on dirt roads and so pretty. I powered up all the hills, but one and had a great time. At mile 15, it looked like the Batan Death March. Everyone was walking or shuffling. Yet, I was still running, allbeit a bit slower because it was getting very hot and there was no shade at this point in the race. But I was running, not shuffling! Wahoo!

I figured Steve was worried about where I was. Originally, I was targeting a 2:45 finish. It was getting close to 3 hours and he was a little worried and about ready to hop in the car and find me. He was waiting at the finish line with a little surprised look on his face. I overcame the hills, heat and humidity and in the end had a great training run.

It best thing this race did for me was give me the confidence I need for Long Beach. Prior to the race, I wasn't sure of the pace I wanted to run in Long Beach. This race gave me the confidence I needed to put all my self doubt aside and run the race I know I am capable of running.

Next week, I'm racing the Dash Point Trail Half Marathon in Seattle. Unless the earth suddenly spins out of orbit and lands next to Mercury, I think I'm going to have some good weather!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Race Across the Sky

Leadville 100-Mile Trail Run

Starting at 10,200 feet of elevation and climbing to 12,600 feet, it's deamed the highest 100-mile race in the states. It happens to also be one of the most challenging.

A great group of guys from Michigan toed the line at 4 a.m., August 20. I had the honor and pleasure of crewing and pacing this epic event.

My primary job was to crew Steve as he took another stab at conquering this mountain. Last October, Steve volunteered to pace me for what was supposed to be a BQ in Chicago. It was an utter disaster. And he stood by my side the entire race. And believe me it was ugly! Coming off of his DNF at Leadville, he knew exactly how I felt. I told him that I had his back for Leadville 2011. I knew I couldn't pace him because altitude in the past had not be my friend and I'm just not as strong of a runner. But what I could do is crew and support him.

Friday, August 19, 2011
I wanted to get a run in. My plan was to have one of the guys drive me to the first aid station, May Queen and then run 13.5 back to Leadville. However, I woke up with the worst headache. Fearing that altitude was winning, I told the guys I wanted to just run a few miles in town to see how I felt.

I started out the door and to my amazement, my headache is gone, I feel amazing. Before I knew it, I had run 5 miles out on Leadville 100 course. I suddenly realize I'm thirsty and have no water. Time to turn around. I ran 10 miles at 10,200 feet on trail at a 10:35 min pace, and it felt easy!

Steve, Keith, Kevin, Don and I drove the course so I could get familiarized with where I'm going and we designated meeting places where I would be so Steve didn't have to waste time trying to find me. This turned out to be the best idea ever!

Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 4 a.m.
Alarm clock rings, 2 a.m., we get dressed and head out the door by 3:30 a.m. Keith decided to crew with me for the morning until Winfield (50 miles) where he set out to pace Ken. Don, Kevin's brother, was crewing Kevin and we stuck together for pretty much the first half of the race. It was great having another person to help out and keep me company.

May Queen - 13.5 Miles
Traffic was a mess! We had to park about 2 miles out from the aid station. I attended the crew briefing the day before and was warned about this. I decided before the race start that being portable was key. I kept Steve's clothing items in one bag I could throw over my shoulder and his food items in another reusable grocery bag (actually the one they gave to the runners at the packet pick up).

Steve carried 3, 16 ounce bottles with him on the course and gave me 3 empties to have ready for him when he came to the aid stations. One problem, he was missing one lid! He told me that I would have to just take one of the lids from the ones he was carrying with him. I filled Steve's bottles with Cytomax, grabbed some food from the aid station for him and waiting at our spot.

Looking at my watch, I knew Steve would be coming by any minute. Then someone kicks over his water bottle, the one with the missing lid.

Worried that I would miss him and completely FAIL my first assignment, I ran to refill his bottle while looking over my shoulder for him. Luckily I made it back in time to my spot.

Steve had put together an amazing plan with what time he anticipated coming into all the aid stations and how many calories he wanted to take. We talked about the types of food he wanted and when. However, when he came through May Queen he grabbed half of what he said he wanted, threw half of it back at me and said he didn't want it, spent less than 20 seconds there and was off. So being a mom, I'm now worried that he's not taking in enough calories. But after a few aid stations and saw that he was running strong, I figured he probably over estimated what he really needed in terms of calories.

Fish Hatchery - 23.5 miles
I had a great crew meeting location where I could see Steve coming into the aid station and he had to go up to the timing mat and back. I remembered that Jeff had a backpack in the car and he uses the same bottles as Steve. I borrowed his lid. This time I was set. I got smart and laid out the food in baggies for him to choose and his bottles were all ready. As Steve ran up to the timing mat, I took his old bottles and on his way back down, I have him the new ones. But he throws me for a loop again and said, I'll take the other one at Tree Line.

Originally, we weren't going to meet at Tree Line, which is a crew only point along a dirt road. It's only 3.5 miles from Fish Hatchery. It dawns on me that I don't have a lot of time to walk to my car (again, not close), fight the traffic and get to Tree Line. Oh and I can't find Keith! Keith was up the hill taking pictures and I'm freaking out that Steve is going to get to Tree Line before me and without water!

Found Keith and we zip over to Tree Line. Got set up and this time we have the full buffet going on! Ice, food, drink, you name it, we got it! Since we had time before heading over to Twin Lakes we were able to see all the Michigan guys come through.

Steve, Matt and Mark all came by around the same time. Steve and Matt headed out very quickly. And Mark sat down for a few minutes. Turns out his stomach was not doing well and he threw up. But being the amazing athlete he is, he got up and headed out again.

Kevin came in next and also sat for a few minutes. He said he just felt like his energy level was zapped. Kevin is participating in the Grand Slam, three 100-mile races, one a month. This was number three. I think he was a little down about where he was in the race and I tried to give him a little pep talk and told him to just keep going. Soon enough, he was back at it.

Next comes Ken! This is Ken's third Leadville attempt. He was looking great and I was so happy to see him running so strong! I gave him a hug and sent him off and told him I'd see him at the next one.

Waiting for Jeff, I started getting worried that something happened to him. Several minutes later, he comes running up the road. Phew! But he says to me, "Remember that elephant you told me was on your chest last year? It's on mine." My heart just sank. I felt so bad for him. He was at 27 miles and struggled every step. But he the best attitude. I told him how sorry I was and he said, "I'll either finish or they'll pull me off the course." (You have to make it to each aid station within a certain time or you get pulled from the race). He was smiling, I gave him a hug and sent him off.

Twin Lakes - Mile 39.5
Keith, Don and I headed over to Twin Lakes and once again, the traffic is nuts. We had to park a good 2 miles out. Steve's pacer number 1, Bob, was to meet me there so I could drive him to Winfield with me and his car would be at his ending point. Steve's pacer number 2, Kenyon, had camped out in Twin Lakes the night before and also met me there.

Once again, Steve zipped in and out of the aid station in less than a minute. He was focused and didn't say much at any of the aid stations, but looked really strong. I could tell he was concerned about coming into the first aid station 10 minutes late. The picture below pretty much illustrates his time spent at the aid stations!

Winfield - 50 miles
WHAT A FREAKING NIGHTMARE! It took over an hour to drive to an 8-mile dirt road, followed by 2 miles of two-way traffic with runners coming both directions. The race officials had stopped traffic because there was no parking at the aid station location. We waited about an hour in line and finally got in. I think we were all getting pretty nervous about getting there in time. But we made it with a few minutes to spare. I saw Steve come in, looked at my watch and realized he was 15 minutes ahead of plan AND made up the 10 minutes he was behind from the beginning! In other words, he went up Hope Pass (3,000 foot ascent in 3 miles) 25 minutes FASTER than he had planned to. He weighed in and for the first time all day, he smiled and cracked a joke. This was the point of his DNF last year. And it was such an amazing sight to see him smiling and looking strong. At this point, this was his day. Leadville would be a success.

At Leadville pacers can mule (in other words carry the runner's supplies), I got smart and loaded Bob up with food for Steve. I told him he hadn't had any protein and keeps eating just the fruit. So Bob told Steve he could have his fruit AFTER he ate his turkey sandwich. HAHA!

Because I had some time before Steve would get to Twin Lakes, I stayed around to see all the runners. Not having cell coverage, I didn't know how Mark and Jeff were doing. I headed over to the white board and saw Mark's name as dropped. I was so sad to see his number up there. He had been running so strong all morning until Tree Line. I looked for Jeff's number and didn't see it. But it was getting close to cut off and I was starting to get worried.

Ken and Keith took off and Kevin sat down for a few minutes. He was still looking tired. I started worrying about his cut off times. I'm not sure if he wanted me to tell him what to do, but I told him he needed to go now. He didn't come into the race with pacers and picked some up. I told him that I could run him in for the last 13.5 if he wanted to. He asked if Steve would be ok with that. I hadn't asked him at this point, but I pretty much figured Steve would want Kevin to finish. So I just told Kevin yes.

Driving back out on that road, I was searching for our runners. No sign of Jeff. The cut off was in 10 minutes and none of these runners on this 2 mile road were going to make it to Winfield in the allotted 14 hours. My heart sank for all of them.

Twin Lakes - 60.5 miles
Steve comes into Twin Lakes alone. He out ran his pacer. Kenyon was a genius and brought a chair. Steve sat down while I changed out his shoes and socks since he just went through a water crossing. It was starting to get cold and I threw his sweats on him and gave him some coffee and soup. He was only there a few minutes and off they went. About 10 minutes later Bob, his pacer, came in.

While I was changing his shoes, I asked him if he would be ok with me pacing Kevin in. He wasn't really focusing on what I was saying. I told him, I'll crew you through May Queen and I'll pace Kevin in, he needs someone. But that means I won't be at the finish when you finish. I think after repeating this a few times, he finally focused. And said, that was fine.

Don had found Kevin another pacer to take him for the next few aid stations. I couldn't wait any longer for the other boys to come in and was just about to take off when I saw Jeff. He was all smiles. We talked for a few minutes and he ended up getting a ride from a race volunteer he knew from Michigan.

I headed back out to the crew only location of Tree Line. It's pitch black and there is a line of cars and flashlight waiting for runners. Luckily Kenyon had his cell phone and we could text. I told him I'll have my flash light on strobe. Um, everyone did that. But they spotted me! Steve was sleepy and tired, but was still running strong. I realized that next time, I string of battery powered Christmas lights to drape on myself would be the best idea. Just look for the Christmas tree!

Fish Hatchery - Mile 76.6
I found Lauren and Allison, Steve's pacers for the final two legs. I told Lauren what Steve's needs are and told Allison that she needed to push him as hard as she can for the last 13.5 miles. Not because I'm a mean girlfriend, but Steve and I talked about his race strategy and this is what he wanted. I loaded Lauren up with food and again told her that he was eating less than plan, but seems to be ok.

Turns out the girls ran Steve harder than anyone and wouldn't let him stop. He would ask to sit for a few minutes and they would say no!

In between all of this, Mark called me and was feeling much better. We chatted for a few minutes and he said he wanted to pace Matt in for the last 13.5. So I grabbed him and we headed to the last aid station.

May Queen - Mile 86.5

To my surprise, May Queen was a mess again. Had to park at least a mile away and hike in. Mark, Allison and I headed in and got checked in as official pacers.

Steve and Lauren came in, I had some coffee and soup ready for him. He ate that, sat for two minutes and was off. The race was in the bag. Steve vs. Leadville 2011 and Steve won! He came in at 28:13 and it was an amazing race!

I went back to the car to change. Talked to Don's brother and he JUST made the Fish Hatchery cut off. I started to FREAK OUT. I knew that Steve had 4 hours on his plan to run May Queen to the finish. Last year, Andrew ran it in 4 hours. Knowing how long it took Steve to get to May Queen from Fish Hatchery, I knew it Kevin was going to just make cut off again. This would mean 3.5 hours to finish this leg.

I tried to sleep for a few minutes. I think I got a 20-minute nap in. And tried to get some food at the aid station. Matt and Mark had already headed out. I'm waiting with Don for Kevin. Thinking to myself now, crap, if Kevin does not finish, it's on my head. I'm going to be the reason why he is out of the slam.

Everyone home in Michigan starts texting me to see how it's going. I told Andrew I was freaking out. He called me. And coached me through. He said that I had to run Kevin on the downs and the flats and keep faster than 17:00-18:00 minute pace. Having run the first five miles of the course on Friday, I knew that four miles were up hill.

Kevin comes in at 6:18 a.m., 12 minutes before cut off. He walked through, I waited while Don gave me a few of his things and I said I would catch up to him.

I asked him how he was feeling and the answer was not good. Having been up for 30+ hours and hearing lots of different miles from spectators, I was confused on how many miles we had left and what pace we needed to keep. I texted Andrew to figure out where the boat launch was in relation to the finish line. He called me back and was coaching me through it all. In the meantime, Mark was texting me at where he and Matt were at. I figured out that we could probably make it in at 29:41. But at this point, Kevin had figured out that he didn't need to move as fast as I was moving him. But being the PITA that I am, I kept pushing him.

We came to the section I had run the other day and powered up the hill much quicker than I had thought. On the dirt road, some spectators said, 2.5 miles. I said, "Really? Are you sure?" She said, "Yes. 1.5 miles to the road and 1 mile on the paved road."

Mark had called me, confused as to where I said we were and confirmed the distances.

Kevin finish strong and ran up the last hill. Finishing time 29:41! And that plan of having to keep him below 17-18 min miles, well we ran that in 15 min miles.

I had an amazing experience. It was my first time crewing and pacing at an ultra. It's always a great feeling to reach your own goals. But I have to say helping others achieve something so amazing was an even better feeling!

Here's a little video I put together from the weekend.