Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Humbled on the Rogue River Trail

Going into last week I knew it would be a bit of push but had no idea just how much it would test my fitness. It was one of the biggest mileage weeks I have ever had running over 115 miles and I felt it. On Tuesday I had a tempo run which was 13 miles with at least 4 at a sub 6:55 pace then on Thursday I got to run 2X40 min. hill repeats in the Gorge. All of this following the Mac run and no real recovery forced me to call on some special mental energy as my physical energy was bit low. I was able to achieve my goals for the tempo run but was really having to work hard whereas the last time I did that kind of workout I was on fire! The Thursday hill repeats were lonely, just me and Ultra. The first one went just fine but I had to dig deep in the motivational tool box to get the second one done. I haven't really had to dig that deep for motivation for a long time so I think it was a good exercise for me.

Friday we all (Bill, Alex, Stacey, Jim, Micheal, Beast, Steve and I) left for our back to back run along the Rogue River Trail. This trail is perfect simulation for the last 40 miles of WS100. It gets a bit eerie as you run along the cliffs because it is so similar in view and terrain to the WS100 trail. We were off for our 5 hour drive and all very excited. Our plan was to run from Graves Creek trail head on Saturday, Meet up with Bill, Alex, Susan, Rich, Evan and Lauren to spend the night at the Illahe Lodge and on Sunday we would run back to Graves Creek. A one way journey is approximately 39 miles of nice single track trail that rolls along the Rogue River. Some of us were hoping for warm weather so we could do some heat training while others were hoping for cool temperatures :). Team WS (me, Jim and Micheal) got our wish and on Saturday were treated with temperatures in the 80's.

When we arrived in Merlin we checked into our bunkhouse where we would all stay on Friday night. I think we were all in bed nodding off by 7:30 so we could be on the trail at 7 a.m. the next day. The plan was to start together and go at our own pace. Bill and Alex would take about 2 hours to drive to Illahe so they got a chance to check out a animal rescue park before they started driving over. We were all on the trail by 7 a.m. ready to go. Immediately Micheal took the lead and the rest of us followed behind but within 5 miles Micheal was out of sight. Stacey, Jim and I hung together for over 20 miles and all three of us realized we were getting very dehydrated very fast! All of us complained of aching leg muscles and each of us had no explanation except the heat. After 3 hours of running we had only drank about 40 oz of water which would be enough normally but it was warm and we were not used to it. All of us were sweating hard and began to really pound the water in an attempt to re-hydrate but once you get low it's so hard to come back. Our paces slowed but we remained focused. At mile 28 we had planned to stop at Paradise Lodge, refuel, get a coke and then continue on. There are a couple of places along the trail that have hoses you can use to get water and there are many creeks along the trail. I missed the side trail to Paradise Lodge and just continued on. This flub up caused a chain reaction of events. I was just cruising along thinking the lodge should come up any minute while Jim and Stacey began to worry about me. This trail is really easy and you can't get lost but I just missed side trail into the lodge. They waited and worried and then decided to back track to see if I was okay. Meanwhile I am just going along my merry way when I came to a creek and pulled out my map to discover I have gone 2 miles past the lodge. I got water at the stream and ate some food thinking Stacey and Jim would be there any minute. After several minutes I thought they might be ahead of me so I continued on and asked some hikers if runners had been by. When they said, "no" I knew they had waited at Paradise for me. They back tracked enough to run into Steve and Beast who knew I pulled an air head move and skirted the Lodge. Stacey and Jim turned around and began running and asked hikers if they had seen me and when they had confirmed I was juest ahead everyone was at ease. As the run progressed I just got more and more fatigued and my legs just got more achy. It didn't seem to matter how much water I drank or how many gels I ate I couldn't muster up a second wind. The trail winds along the river on high cliffs. There are sections you need pay close attention to your foot placement so you don't go flying off the edge while other parts of the trail run in and out wooded areas in a sea of poison oak. In other sections the trail is cut right into a field of high grass and almost all the sections had a view of the river below. I continued to fuel properly and just pushed through the fatigue but it wasn't easy. Since I was by myself I got to think a lot about how I felt and wanted to turn off the recording in my head. I talked to myself, sang to myself, scolded myself, laughed at myself....way to much time with "self". :) I reached the lodge in 8:15 of running time and pretty discouraged by that effort but I couldn't muster up any more speed! Susan and her family had arrived along with Bill and Alex. Micheal had finished in 7:10 and had a fabulous day. He too got a bit dehydrated but was able to come back strong. I quickly got my Tecnu and a hose and spent a good 20 minutes washing as we waited for Stacey, Jim, Steve and Beast. Soon after I was done with my Tecnu bath Stacey and Jim arrived even after adding on 4 bonus miles. Steve and Beast arrived in just over 10 hours. Everyone showered, refueled, chatted, nursed sore muscles, stretched, ate some more and off to bed by 9 p.m.

Sunday's plan was to have breakfast early and everyone be on the trail by 8:00 a.m. Everyone left a different times but Micheal, Jim, Stacey and I took up the rear. This time Micheal was only with us for about 10 minutes before he was out of sight. Jim, Stacey and I caught up with others after about 7 miles. All of us were tired but feeling good considering how bad we felt after the first day. Sunday was a bit cooler and we were hydrating like crazy! After about mile 16 we all got separated with Steve and Micheal in the front. Jim passed me when I was getting water and I never caught him again. Stacey, Susan and Beast were all behind me but all running independently. I made a game out of chasing down Steve and Jim. I had no hopes of getting Micheal but I thought I might be able to over take Steve and catch up with Jim. Jim had these great hummus burritos and I wanted to eat them so I was running for food :). He must have known I was in hot pursuit of his food because I didn't catch him! I really got the opportunity to work on running through muscle fatigue and I had deja vu's about WS. I felt pretty much like I do during the last 30 miles of a 100 so I used that imagery to my benefit. Every little roller felt like Mt. Everest and I could have easily walked them but I wouldn't let myself. What's surprising is forcing myself to run the rollers was really no worse then power hiking them, it is all mental at that point. I actually felt better physically and mentally playing this game and the by product of it was speed. I was getting faster and faster vs. slower and slower. Don't get me wrong......this hurt and was very uncomfortable but I could do it. I guess that was my lesson for this weekend. I can RUN on tired legs, I have been trained to run on tired legs, I can power through it instead of breaking stride and walking. After a long hard effort I finally caught Steve with 3 miles left and he let me know Jim was long gone so now all my carrots were gone!:). When I finally came around a bend and could see the bridge and Graves Creek parking area I knew I had about a half a mile to the finish. I was going to have negative splits for the day and the weekend! I finished in 7:47 and was really happy with the effort I gave. Micheal blitzed the 39 miles in under 7 hours (I can't remember exactly), Jim ran very well and felt good. Everyone arrived back at Graves Creek with smiles on their faces and plenty of stories. Susan had the best story about her conflict with a trail hogging rattlesnake.

I got a bit a of cold on Saturday night and after Sunday's long day I cemented it into my throat. I have been not feeling well since we got home but am hopeful this bug will be gone soon with some much needed rest. This week is a recovery week and then one more big push before the taper. It's hot in Portland so I will try to take advantage of it by running in the afternoon.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Revved up and gettin ready!

Learning the value of a recovery week has taken almost 2 years but I finally understand it. In the past I never planned my weeks with regards to intensity, mileage or specific workouts and never took a "recovery" week. Generally suffering from the "more is better" mind set with pretty much everything I every do, running was no different and I paid for that attitude time and time again. I would get sick, nurse minor injuries, feel sluggish and tired but once in a while would have a run that really went well. Now it's all different because I have learned and experienced the value of recovery both physically and mentally. After Miwok I had a soothing recovery week and I soaked it up running pretty easy on all "easy" workouts, resting when I could and eating the proper foods. I came into this week ready to go! With Bill being out of town for a week which overlapped the weekend I had to shift all my workouts by one day meaning my long runs would be Friday and Saturday. I had a great babysitter lined up for Saturday and thought why not run McDonald Forest 50K after my hill repeats on Friday?????? Sounds like a good idea and a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have a few people join me on Friday at Herman Creek for 2X50min. repeats and all of them were also running McDonald so we all could feel the love :).

I dropped Alex off at school and made it out to Herman by 8:45 where Stacey, Steve, Beast and Anna all joined and we headed for our workout. I knew this would have an impact on my race but McDonald was not supposed to be a race but more like a solid training effort as I knew my body would be fatigued. BTW: This was free dress day because it was Friday, Saturday we dawned all black for the occasion to honor our friends Jim, Micheal, Susan and Rick who were running Black Saturday :). The day was gorgeous and the mountains were out for viewing at the top of the PCT. My repeats went well, reaching the first clearing in 41 minutes was a bit faster than previous times but just meant I had to keep going further than expected :). I did my 50 minutes at threshold and slammed back down for another one. Steve was right behind me followed by Beast and Anna. Stacey was doing 40 minutes so just power hiked for another 10 minutes. I got down quickly refueled and headed out for number 2. I know I am getting in better shape because I usually dread repeat number 2 but now I am not apprehensive and even a bit anxious to see how I feel. Strong and steady I ran my second one and had good power the whole way. Beast hung out around the top and took pictures of all of us as we crested the clearing. I decided this would be a good time to work on my tan but just as I was getting comfortable here comes Steve and Anna! We headed back down and then went straight back to the car. It was an awesome day....thanks everyone for coming out on a Friday and running repeats before your race.

A quick drive home, pick up Alex at school, get him to baseball practice, feed us and then prepare for McDonald. My preparation was pretty minimal....just a couple of Organic Food Bars, 12 Gels, a Red Bull and some recovery food. I was getting up at 5 a.m. to pick up Stacey to head down to race. We get going with directions in hand and of course get lost. The funny thing and us is we never get worked up about being lost, I don't know why but we just keep talking and talking and eventually we ask someone which way to go. The best parts about getting lost yesterday were.....1. We had directions......2. I have a navigation system built in my car and forgot as the roaming map is staring us in the face.....and 3. we just laughed at all of our stupidness and made jokes like, "hey I got an idea", "what"? "Let's use the navigation system next time". "Wow, that's a genius idea"!

We arrived with plenty of time to see everyone and chat. It was so wonderful to be there and enjoy the ultra energy and the great people. We haven't been to the Mac for 3 years but it was like we were never absent. I got in the back with no real running plans but to work hard and not kill myself. I had no residual fatigue from the repeats that I could readily identify so the bell was rung and we headed up the road. I settled into a comfortable pace and made sure I wasn't getting caught up in the speed fest that generally goes on in the beginning of a race. Soon we hit the single track and up we went. I ran most of this but took a few walk breaks on the steep parts. I was feeling pretty good but wanted to be conservative in the first half. My training plan for my second day runs call for a faster second half. We switchbacked up and hopped on the gravel road that offers a slight uphill grade. This is the kind of grade that requires you to get into a groove and run vs. walk. I settled in nicely and arrived at the aid station 5 minutes ahead of my schedule with meant I was doing a sub 10 minute pace...hmmmmmm.....too fast but I felt good. I didn't need anything from the aid station and ran right through. We continued on the road for a bit then hit the side trail that heads straight downhill. I roared down the hill because I should not have to worry about my quad strength at this point in my training so I let-r-rip! I felt on fire and had to check in with myself many times to be sure I was not over doing or setting myself up for a bonk but I could tell it was going to be a good (photo by Corvallis Gazette Times) day. I arrived at the second aid station and saw Amy and Sandy (Beast's daughter and wife) and that was treat. They cheered me on and told how great I looked :). Quickly got some water and headed off for the steep climb and the technical traverse. I did pretty good on the climb, holding my own and maintaining myself. No one is moving really fast in this section as the trail climbs steeply and once it levels off you traverse a very technical trail that does not allow you to open up much. During this section I used my time wisely by working on my gait and my efficiency. Not allowing myself to over stride and maintaining good posture so I wouldn't use unnecessary energy. This is a fun game to play when you have to move slowly. Once out the this we head downhill to the aid station. I soared downhill again, quads still able to hold and I could propel! This is mile 18.4 and I have drop bag with my Red Bull and more gels. I shared my RB because I saw peoples faces light up when I cracked the can. This is where the race starts! More than halfway through the event it's time to turn up engine and see what I can do. I was pumped! I haven't felt this powerful in a long time. With plenty of leg power and energy I left and began to push. Fueling on the half hour and monitoring my water intake really works in keeping the engine going. I put on my music and qued up the Bee Gee's.......yes I know, but they have a great beat. The poor young guy who couldn't shake me had to hear me sing, "what's ya doing on your back, you should be dancin yeahhhhhhh" I finally decided to pass him so I could spare him the bad singing, but I just couldn't help myself! Now is time we catch up with the early starters which was a blast. I got to see Beast, Liz and Kam, Marilyn, Steve and bunch of others. At this point I am about 20 minutes ahead of my 6 hour prediction so I feel really good about that. My fastest time at the Mac was 5:56 three years ago and I tapered and trained for that time. Mile 22.4 aid station came up and I needed nothing so I ran through but heard Meagan say I was 5th! I thought about it but came to the conclusion I didn't hear her right but just in case I did I better get going! At this point we do more climbing as we switchback up to another high point. I ran a good portion of this and again used my time to stay focused on my stride and efficiency, not letting myself take on bad form because I was getting fatigued or bored. I could see people climbing the switchbacks so knew it was going to take awhile to reach the top. I started thinking about the upcoming finish which takes you on 3+ miles of gravel road to reach the saddle then a nice single track trail into the finish. My goal was to run every step of that section and I felt like I could. Once at the top of the switchbacks you pop onto another gravel road which takes you into the last aid station and only 4.8 miles to finish. I needed just a bit of water, grabbed a coke and took off with a new goal of 5:30. I had a pretty good shot at this but would have to work for it. I got the tunes going and settled into a nice groove running up the road. I played with doing some stride outs just to see how the legs responded and they had plenty of power so that meant I should play the "stride game" all the way up the hill so I did. I was getting 9:30 per minute miles up this road and that was really keeping me fired up. Once we got to the top and took the hard right onto the trail I knew we had about 1.5 mile to go and most of it was downhill. I had 14 minutes to do this and make it under 5:30. I ran really hard and had a ton of adrenaline flowing as I crossed the finish line 5:27:22. I think I was 5th woman and 43th overall but am not sure yet. I won a mug for 3rd masters which is pictured above.
(photo by Amy Lynes)

Just an absolute blast....those are the only words that keep coming to mind when I think about the weekend and all that transpired. Solid workouts, lots of friends, tons of laughter and a good performance to top it off. Today I feel really good! I am just thrilled with my fitness this close to WS. I don't think I have ever been in better shape. My recovery has been speedy and with that I am seeming to rebound stronger. I think I am heading into a peak which is just what I am looking for. I have been doing a lot reading and research on just what "peaking" feels like and how one knows they are heading for a "peak" performance. I will write about it when I get all my thoughts around the subject. Surprisingly "peaking" is not well defined and not easily described. If any of you have ideas please share them!

This upcoming week might be my highest mileage week ever. A bunch of us are heading to the Rogue River for a 40 mile run on Saturday and another 40 on Sunday. I have do hill repeats on Thursday and a tempo run on Tuesday. I do get 2 recovery runs as well so I am estimating this to be about 120-130 mile week.......hmmmmmmm. I am ready though!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nice Recovery Weekend

Cockadoodle doooooo....Happy Mothers Day! I came home from my run this morning and was greeted by this metal rooster. Bill was so proud of himself as he laughed his head off at my Mother's Day gift. Both him and Alex found this guy at some off beat place and just couldn't resist him. I actually like him! He might become my good luck charm and then he would have to travel to races with me....just kidding. Alex also got me a water bottle that measures how much liquid you are drinking. I think my son knows me far to well as he found the perfect gift.....a water bottle that calculates something :).

What a nice weekend. Saturday Micheal and I headed to Hamilton Mountain for a loop. As you can see by the sign you can take the "difficult" route or the "more difficult" which is covered by Micheal's head. Big surprise....we chose the more difficult route. Hamilton is a great place and an awesome trail. The more difficult route offers somewhere around 35+ switchbacks to reach to summit. I have counted them before but have forgotten the exact number but I know Beast has the correct number. The climb is only steep in a couple of spots so you can run the entire way with a consistent comfortable pace. This was a recovery week so Saturday's run was less than 2 hours and not supposed to be hard so we just ran steadily and talked the whole way. At the summit you stand just in front of Table Mountain which is another fabulous route which we haven't yet done this year. By the looks of it from Hamilton there should be very little snow left. Once at the top of Hamilton Mtn. you can choose to go back down the same way or continue on the ridge line and take the back road down to the Hardy Creek Trail. We ran along the ridge and then down the road which is extremely rocky and the rocks are large so you need to stay focused. Once at the bottom you take the Hardy Creek trail back to the car. It was a nice relaxing run.

Sunday we met Jim for a 2-2.5 hour run on the Wildwood trail. This run was going to be a bit more focused. Micheal lead Jim and I like dogs on a leash, tongues hanging out but our tails were wagging. :). Jim started using Scott J. as a coach for WS100M and Spartathon which he will do in September. It's been great to see Jim just embrace all the training and watch him improve month by month. He really loves the variety of his weekly runs and really enjoys seeing all his hard work pay off! We finished the 14 mile run fast thanks to Micheal.

Next week is a build week and the beginning of the last big training cycle before WS. I have to shuffle my runs a bit this week so instead of doing Black Saturday I have to do Black Friday then follow that up with McDonald Forest. I think I have a couple of people to join me on Friday for 2X50 min. hill repeats which will be great.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ahhhhh, Tempo Runs.....gotta love em!

Recovery from my last 3 week cycle and Miwok has been very good. I bounced back much faster than I did from the prior 4 week clycle concluding with AR50. After that cycle I think it was about 10 days before I felt comfortable and strong on my runs. Even my recovery runs were sluggish but not this time. Sunday after we got home I was pretty tired and was ordered to go bed at 6:30 by my family who were annoyed by my ho hum mood. I slept for a solid 12 hours and woke completely refreshed. Bill and I went out for a short run on the Wildwood and I felt pretty darn good. Tuesday and Wednesday were more recovery and a hard weight training session where I felt very strong. Another sign I am getting in better shape is when I lift after a big week and I am still maintaining or increasing in strength and this week that's what happened. I felt like Superman in the gym. I had no residual soreness after Miwok so that means one of two things. One, I did not run hard enough or two, my trips down quad buster hill are working. I would like to believe number two! My feet are almost completely un-numb. The only toe that is still numb in my forth toe on my right foot. Today I wore my nice roomy Cascadia's but could still feel my metatarsals a bit so there must still be some inflammation. They are getting better and I won't ever do that again!

Today was a tempo run and these are another good marker for my fitness. I was fast and strong today and pulled sub 6:50's when I was supposed to go no faster than 6:55. My pacing needs work, I am seriously trying to NOT run faster than prescribed so if Scott J. ever reads this he will know I am working on it! When I am at threshold pace and I have to throttle back that's when I know things are good and today I was throttling back the entire time. I do all my mile tempo runs on Lief Ericson so I have markers every quarter mile and it's gravel road which is a nice break from the track. I have been doing these same workouts almost every week since February and I remember at the beginning they were so tough. Now they are just part of the prescription and I can really gauge my recovery by my results. In February I was doing 7:20's and that seemed impossible. By March I had moved to solid 7:10's and felt pretty good about that improvement. April Scott bumped me to 7:05's and I thought he was crazy but low and behold I could do it. This time he prescribed 6:55's and I set out and did them with ease. 7:20's to 6:55"s is a pretty good improvement for my Lactic Threshold.....I will have to keep this in mind at Mile 75 at WS100.....it's supposed to translate :). After AR50M my tempo run was incredibly difficult. I felt like I was having to pull myself along by my ear so having a stellar tempo run after Miwok makes me very happy!

The weather has been beautiful and the sun really feels good. Tomorrow I think I will head to Dog Mountain to join Beast, Anna and the gang. I drop Alex off at school at 7:30 so I be late but will go the opposite way and run down with them. I am just planning on a leisurely hike and an easy run down.

P.S. It was a great day on the Dog. It's been about a year since I have been up there and the hillside was in full bloom today.....beautiful. Ultra had a few ticks I pulled off of her and she got a Tecnu bath when we got home. She couldn't keep herself out of all the poison oak!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Miwok 100K - One of the Ultra Family Vactions!

Whoever books our travel arrangements sure makes us get up early, whoops that's me! Getting up at 4:45 a.m. on Friday to pick up Micheal and Stacey for our 8:00 a.m. flt. to Oakland was only an hour before my regular time but I don't like to get up really early. Since I make the arrangements you would think I would get it right but I like to avoid any rush hour traffic and arrive early enough to have time to relax. We met Steve at the airport, boarded our flight and were in Mill Valley by lunch time. We checked in and went over to our usual spot "The Dipsea" for lunch. After lunch we lounged around then at about 2 p.m. we did a shake down run with some strides outs then back to the room for more lounging. Stacey and I ate early, about 4 p.m. and then rented a movie. There were not a lot of choices in the Hotel On Demand system so we opted for Norbit. We wanted to watch something funny and it seemed like the right choice and it was funny but I would have to say it was just so bad we couldn't stop watching it. Micheal and Steve went and got dinner, brought it back to our room and Micheal just couldn't tear himself away from the bad movie :). The movie was over at 6:30 so we lounged some more and then went to bed at 7:30.

Alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. and we made coffee, got dressed and we were all ready to go at 4:30. We checked in at the start, mingled with a bunch of Oregon folks, took bathroom breaks then went back to the car to keep warm. It was going to be a pretty warm day but it was only 50 degrees at the start so it seemed cold. Tia announced it was time to make our way to the beach and get the show on the road! I got in the middle of the pack mostly to stay warm but I also didn't want to be pressured to run faster than I should when we hit the small bit of single track leaving the beach. Once we got out on the road and started the first climb I knew I was going to have a solid day because my body felt pretty good and my heart rate was very low. However, I immediately notice the shoes I was wearing we going to be to narrow, eeeeeeekkk. I have been trying the Mizuno Trail Ascend and liked them but was wondering if they were just a tad to narrow. I wanted to give them a whirl at Miwok to really determine if I liked the fit and the answer is a profound NO! On the first decent into Tennessee Valley (mile 11.9) my metatarsals were screaming. I have a wide forefoot and at a high instep so I need a lot room in my shoes or my 4th toe gets an impacted nerve from inflammation around that area. The squeezing on my metatarsals was pretty intense so I stopped an loosened my shoes giving them the maximum amount of slack but it was only going to help slightly. My last three toes on both feet were numb by mile 15 and I was just hoping the nerve would not start causing me a lot of pain. All of this non-sense kept my mind pretty busy but I worked on staying focused on the race not my feet.

I was on pace for 11:15 for the first 2 aid stations and was running pretty comfortable. My quads were not bothered by the training we did the weekend before and that was nice given my feet were be squeezed to death. At least my legs were feeling strong. I carried two water bottles, 6 gels and one Organic Food Bar. All the this stuff fit in my handheld pouches and my shorts so that was great. I felt pretty light with just those items. I lost 3 minutes on my plan from Muir Beach to Pan Toll (mile 16 to 21.7). I don't know why....I just didn't push the climb like I should have. Running uphill was hard on my feet because of all the weighting on your toes when you run uphill and to much of that was causing me pain. I was run/walking vs. maintaining a steadily running stride on the climbs. I know if I would have worn my Cascadia's I would have done better on the climbs but how much better....I don't know. I think sometimes when things aren't going well you become more focused therefore minimizing the effects of the problem.

Once at Pan Toll I grabbed my drop bag and put on my waist pack which had 8 gels, 1 Food Bar and some salt tablets. I filled both water bottles with only water, drank my Red Bull and ate my banana. All of that took me one minute and 45 seconds. The next section is long and exposed. Right after you leave Pan Toll you drop into some nice woods for about .5 miles then it's on to high meadows with a narrow trail running through them. The views of the ocean on this section are lovely but you can't really enjoy the views or the wildflowers because the trail is so narrow that foot placement is a priority. This section was awful on my feet and it was pretty warm already. Despite all of that I actually ran pretty well on this as it's a bit downhill and I was focused on getting through it. I only lost about 4 minutes from my predicted time, a surprise. At the Bofax aid station (mile 28.4) I was about 8 minutes off my 11:15 pace and I knew I would not be making up any time due to my feet. I had been running for over 5 hours and my toe was sending pain every time it flexed so I popped an Aleve and waited patiently for it to take the edge off. The section from Bofax to the turnaround at Randall is one of my favorites and I generally do pretty well here so I was looking forward to it. The rolling terrain followed by the plummet into Randall is a nice break from all the climbing we had done so far. In addition, in this section you start to see the lead runners heading back so it's exciting to see how everyone is doing and cheer on friends. This gets your mind out of your body and onto much more exciting things.

At Randall (mile 35.6) it is time to turn around and start to work! I filled one bottle with G2O and one with water then started up the hill. I ran about 80% of hill and when I got the top and started up the rolling terrain I maintained a steady pace. My toes were still numb but the pain was pretty much gone so that was a relief! I felt pretty good and was pleased with my ability to muscle through.

Arriving back at Bofax (mile 42.8) I had gained 3 minutes on my predicted split. That was great because now it seemed hot and I was heading back into the fields from h__l! Since I was on my way to Pan Toll I knew it was a gradual climb, very gradual but still uphill and it was that long section with the narrow, canted trail. I sort of had a "moment" in the fields. I was hot and I couldn't seem to get my stride going and wanted to get through this section so I could drop my pack get back to some better footing. I lost 7 minutes from my predicted time so now I am 12 minutes off my 11:15 pace and am looking at 11:30 finish for a best case scenario. I knew I wasn't going to shave off any time on my upcoming splits because they were aggressive and although my body and my systems were all in check my feet were toast. I settled on 11:40 and told myself to stay focused and finish this last 14 miles like you mean it! At Pan Toll (mile 49.5) I dropped my waist pack, drank my Red Bull, picked up new bottles filled with G2O and grabbed 6 gels for the journey home.

I was happy to be back in the woods and running down hill. Feeling strong I worked the terrain as well as my feet would allow.... running pretty hard. This down hill is at least 2 miles long on a wide dirt road and not technical so if you have the quads you can really move well. After the descent you cross a road and head back onto single track for some long switchbacks that gradually climb uphill to the Hwy 1 aid station. I named this single track section "Evil Oak Alley" because it was really overgrown this year and there was poison oak everywhere! I ran about 70% of this climb and keep in mind running now is more like a consistent shuffle :). I got to Hwy 1 on schedule so that was refreshing because that meant I still had a shot at 11:30. I didn't need anything from the aid station so I didn't stop and just kept moving. From Hwy 1 the course takes you around the hills on a dirt road that has a slight uphill grade. It's the kind of grade you need to jog or shuffle because walking is not going to gain you much. I fiddled with my shoes once again with no relief then just shuffled up the hill. At the top of this hill the course takes a sharp right for more uphill road but now you can see the ocean again you know your getting close. What goes up must go down......so down we went into Tennessee Valley (mile 58.4). Again I made my split so all I needed to do was continue this streak for another 3.8 miles and I could make it in 11:30. This is my third year at Miwok but had forgotten how much climbing has to be done after Tennessee Valley......aaaaargggggg. I was feeling pretty tired and was so ready to be done but off in the distance high in the hills I could see runners making their way further uphill, they were a long ways away. With a quick top off of water at the aid station I began the last climb of the day. I was really warm through this section.....I know it was only 70 degrees but for an Oregonian that's a heat wave! I poured some of my ice water on my head which made me feel better but the water drove the salt and sweat right into my eyes. Blinking and tearing like crazy I was happy to be going uphill so I didn't need to see where I was stepping. The climb just seem to go on and on and I was obsessed with my watch checking it every other second. I knew we were going to descend all the way back down to the beach and was working the numbers in head.......how much time will I need to plummet more than a mile downhill.....10 minutes....12 minutes......okay that gives me 36 minutes to get to the top......tick, tick, tick......get you butt moving.....oh yeah you butt is tired......shuffle your feet......oh yeah you can't feel your feet......."pain is weakness leaving your body".....stupid saying, who came up with that! All this is running through my mind as I climb, climb, climb. I could only run about 40% of it. The grade was just to steep. Finally at the top I can see the finish and I have exactly 12 minutes to get there. It seemed doable until I saw runners going around a hill instead of straight down. I took off like someone on fire heading to the ocean. I ran and ran then finally came to the stairs and I knew I still had a chance so without killing myself I pushed as hard as I could to finish in 11:28:54. Funny how all of the sudden I can run like the wind when 30 minutes ago I was pouting about everything. :)

Micheal was already cleaned up and waiting for me. He had a great day finishing just under 11 hours, Stacey did 12:25 and had a solid day, Steve was on fire and finished in under 14 hours.....he likes to try to be last but he's got to slow down to reach that goal.

What a great weekend! Even though I didn't reach my goal of 11:15 I am pretty happy with my race. It gives me a predicted finish at WS100 of 23:00:00 and that's under 24 with some room. I don't know how much faster I could have run if I had chosen the right shoes......maybe 11:15 but I don't know. I won't be wearing those shoes again because I took them off and threw them away! My last three toes on both feet are still numb meaning there is some inflammation so I will be icing my feet which I can't stand because it hurts. I haven't had to do that for years.

This year it seemed like I ran with the same people all day. Kind of interesting to be leap frogging the same group of runners all day, it was nice because I actually got to spend some time talking to people.

This week is a recovery week and I am looking forward to it. The following week is a build week and I am doing 2X50M hill repeats on Friday while Alex is in school and Saturday I am going to run McDonald Forest 50K. It's been over 3 years since I have done this race and though it won't be a great performance I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

Tomorrow is Bill and I's 13th wedding anniversary, I just can't believe it. Time has gone by so fast and that makes me think about all the wonderful times we have had together. It also makes think about all the great adventures I get to experience all due to his support and his desire to see me live my dreams. I feel really fortunate to have such a great man. This weekend once again will go down in the calendar as a great memory with awesome people.

P.S. Today (May 7th) Bill took the day off so we could spend our anniversary together so after we dropped Alex off at school we went for a run in Forest Park. My last three toes on both feet were still numb but when we were done my toes on my left foot were tingling. A good sign :). Surprisingly I felt great running and my shoes fit, ha, ha! I obviously didn't work hard enough at Miwok.......just kidding. We took both Ultra and Bandit with us and had fun. Ultra is a true runner but Bandit (the husky) is lazy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I can't wait!

I am almost ready to go. Yes....I will be eating all that stuff in the picture (at least everything that's edible). I don't have my 2 bananas and my 2 red bulls yet but they will be in there too. I do have 5 extra gels just in case I am out there longer than I plan. My fuel plan called for 2453 calories from carbs to finish in 11:15 so there they are! When you lay it all out like that is really looks quite disturbing but once I get it all parsed out appropriately it won't be so hard to believe :). Micheal and I were just talking about how much we spend each year in gels and by the looks of things for just one race I think the answer is.......way to much!

I had a great track workout today which is always a good sign of things to come so I am optimistic I won't have a repeat of last years performance. My legs felt just fine after last weekends festivities and I was surprised given the amount of down hill pummelling my quads endured. Tomorrow is a nice recovery run with Susan in Forest Park, Friday is 30 minutes with some pick ups and then race day. I am really looking forward to the trip with the ultra family to sunny California!