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!