Thursday, September 10, 2015

From Eugene Marathon to a Grand Canyon Double Crossing to 50k Trail Championships

From 3 camps to 12 races to traveling, it's been a busy spring and summer.  There's still much more to go!


I kicked off the spring with an attempt at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier ('B' standard: 2:43, 'A' Standard: 2:37) at Eugene Marathon in May.  Nothing went terribly wrong during the race, but I somehow managed to run my slowest marathon to date, 2:44, and missed the qualifier.  On the flip side, this was by far the best I've ever recovered post-marathon.  I did 99% of my training solo, and I believe part of the issue was that I got too comfortable in my day to day runs and workouts.   Let the speed games begin!  I've since dedicated the next months to working on challenging myself again.

But not quite yet!  First, time for a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim with Ian Torrence (part with Chris Rennaker).  This was only my second time running in the canyon, the first being in 2010 after I ran my first marathon (Houston).  With temps topping out at triple digits, stomach issues and a challenging route, needless to say it felt like a death march coming up South Kaibab at the end of the day.  Thankfully we made it out before sunset even with my slow hike.

Finish to the Rim to Rim to Rim.  At least we're
still smiling!

Next up the McMillan Running Ultra and Trail Camp headed by non other than Ian Torrence.  We had a fun few days talking and running all things trail.

Campers and counselors at Schultz Tank.

Super Bee made sure everyone did their extra curricular
stick throwing.  Nicolas excelled at this activity!

First local race of the summer was Aravaipa's inauguaral Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine out at Fort Tuthill.  I opted for the two-loop 27km option.  After running with one of the guys for a loop, I found myself on my own the second loop but still came away with the women's win.

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS!  This was also a new race series that was the brainchild of Ian, but is backed by Team Run Flagstaff.  Over June, July and August there were three Wednesday night trail races consisting of a 7k, 5k and 3k.  I tied with Nick Arciniaga for the overall win at the 7k (even though he could have buried me) but word got out and the last two races were more competitive.  First female for the series!

June's 7k with Nick.

July's 5k.
August.  Trying to keep up with Nick Arciniaga
and Brian Tinder.
Photo by Martos Hoffman.

August 3k.  Photo by Martos Hoffman.

Western States Uphill Challenge.  This year they rerouted the course to go up the trail.  Not having done much bouldering and trail climbs recently, it was a bit of a shock to the system.  The cool thing was this was the first race my Mom has been able to do in years, which was really awesome.  Not an easy first choice!

Mom and I at the top of the summit.


In July, I decided it would be a good idea to run the Fourth of July Downtown Mile.  The course is at 7,000 ft., consists of two loops and is not void of hills.  I was 3rd female in 5:11 which I will take since I haven't done any specific training for a mile.  Always feels good to run fast and make it hurt!

Fourth of July Downtown Mile.

The following weekend was Hearts 911.  This year they reversed the course, so we climbed the very technical and rocky Heart Trail to the top of Mt. Elden then descended down Elden Lookout Road (dirt) to the finish.  I much preferred this direction since I'm not a fan of technical descents.  Not one of my stronger days, but I worked the downhill much better than in the past.

Growler refill for the win for my Dad and Ian to enjoy.

Between Downtown Mile and Hearts 911, Ian and I helped out at the Rob Krar Ultra Camp.

Saddle of Mount Humphreys - 11,800 feet.  

Me, Ian, John Onate, Rob and Stephanie Howe.

Super Bee also had a birthday during Rob's camp.  5 years old
and loving life!

Because I couldn't get enough climbing....Team Run Flagstaff's Snowbowl Hill Climb.  Seven miles of ascending up Snowbowl Road with no breaks.  I was 2nd to Janet Cherobon but we both ran under her previous course record.  This was not an easy one!

Back to Virginia for Coach Tanner's high school camp.  Our cross country programs in Warren County have come a long way and this was Coach Tanner's first year putting on a high school camp.  I was honored to come back and give a talk to the runners.

Leading the campers through drills at Skyline High School.

On the left, high school teammates Joseph and Amanda who are now coaches in Warren County.
Our high school coaches, Coach Tanner (Right) and Coach B (Front).

State Champs flashback!  Joseph was State Champion in the
high jump.  I was State Champion in the 3200m.  

August kicked off with the finale race of the Hot Summer Nights series.  After that it was Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon.  There was a lot of rain the night before which made for a very muddy course, but I still went for the course record.  I did get the record by a few minutes and was 3rd overall.

They made us redo the pre-race kiss so it could be captured on film.

Our uncoordinated decisions to wear black were good ones!
Displaying the mud we collected along the way.

Another year of fun at Gaspin' in the Aspen 15k and another event Ian RD's.  I was a minute off my CR from last year but it was still a fun day.

Running through the meadows at Gaspin'.  
Photo by Kristin Wilson.

Did I mention my Dad also came out this month and helped us with house projects?  House projects also included clearing trees off the Gaspin' course with Ian.

Dad ripping up laminate for the new tile floor.

Last but certainly not least were the USATF 50k Trail Championships which were hosted by Tamalpa Headlands 50k this year.  Thanks to Diana and Tim Fitzpatrick for putting on a great event.

I had never been to the Marin Headlands before, so this was a new experience.  All I knew going into the race was to expect a lot of climbing and descending.  I don't worry so much with climbing but I knew the downhills would be a personal challenge for me.  I've been working all year with Dr. AJ Gregg at HYPO2 on my strength and I have gotten a lot stronger especially with my quad control, so I had that extra piece of confidence going into the weekend.  I felt I was lacking some on my course-specific training, but that was my own fault and something I was aware of going into the weekend.

Race day brought rain and heavy fogs, which is one my most favorite racing conditions.  I really had to pay attention to course marking though so I didn't miss one of the turns early on.  Megan Roche took the race out hard, but stopped to tie her shoe a few miles in.  I wasn't planning on being in the lead that early but I had no choice once she stepped off.  By mile 8 though, Caitlin Smith had passed me on one of the descents.  From there I was hovering 1-2 minutes back until the very end of the race.  For some reason, my legs were getting sore by 4-5 miles in (maybe that course specific-training?).  Ultimately this slowed me down, but I was very happy with my nutrition (thanks Meredith Terranova!) and with my effort and energy levels.  Energy-wise I never tanked or hit a rough patch.  Both energy and nutrition (day to day and in racing) was a big struggle last year, so this is great progress for me.  So far, Tailwind has been working well and fingers are crossed this continues.

At the end of the day, I was second to Caitlin, which is my second time finishing runner-up at the 50k Trail Championships.  The first time was at the 2013 Bootlegger 50k to Michelle Yates.

Women's Top Ten including Nike Trail teammate Lindsay Tollefsen (3rd).
With Angela Tieri who placed 5th.  I have been honored to
work with Angela through McMillan Running and to see her achieve
her well-earned goals this year.

All of these running camps and races make Super Bee and Sycamore very tired!  A big thank you to Ian for the support and for doing all the driving on our long road trips.  Also thank you to Dr. AJ Gregg, Meredith Terranova, Nike Trail Running, Nathan Hydration and Team Run Flagstaff Pro.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dusting Off the Blog: 2015 GLIRC Caumsett 50k (USATF 50k Road Championships)

2nd place, 3:33....This wasn't the result I was going for, but the positives from this race and the past couple months by far outweigh the negatives.

The night before the race, Ian got a call from our dog sitter that Sycamore, our puppy, was at the vet with parvo.  Parvo is prevalent in Northern Arizona and can result in death.  Needless to say, we were both not in the frame of mind to race Sunday morning.  At a couple points in the race, I saw Mom and broke down.  About 9 miles to go, I shut down the race and decided I was jogging it in.  That evening Ian got the call that Sycamore was in the clear...yay!  It was a mild case and because Karen got her to the vet immediately and hospitalized her, they were able to give Sycamore the best chance of fighting off the virus.  She should now be immune to the virus since her antibodies are built up.

The Negatives:

1) Didn't meet my goal of a win and a time of ~3:20.
2) Mentally wasn't in the moment, which cost me the race.

The Positives:

1) I was able to take in the most calories during a race, ever, and had minimal stomach issues.  A first!
2) My energy levels during training and on race day held steady.
3) Recovery from training and post-race recovery has been great.
4) The past couple days have been the most pain-free my hip has been in over a year.

Last year, I was fighting variable energy levels, stomach issues and had to keep training volume very low.  Ian challenged me again with higher weekly mileage starting in January, and so far I have been able to handle it.  Energy has been much better with no fluctuations day to day and week to week.  My daily nutrition and race nutrition is still a work in progress in terms of figuring of what I can and can't handle, but this race was a huge move in the right direction.

Going forward, Ian is going to take the challenges a step further for Eugene Marathon training.  It's now time to see if I can get back to my previous high levels of training.  I will also be challenging my strength work more than I've ever done in the past (thanks, AJ!), so I'm excited to see what the rest of this year brings.

Thanks to my Mom, Dad and Mema for coming to crew for us at Caumsett in even colder and snowier conditions than last year.  And as always, Race Director Carl Grossbad offered us impeccable hospitality and put on a class act event.  I know he spent a lot of time and effort ensuring the course was as clear as possible.

Ian was able to channel his energy into a 3:36 finish, faster than last year,
and a win in the USATF 40-44 Championship division.  Not bad for emotional
stress and an icy out and back section!  As always, I am impressed with his toughness
and ability to get the job done no matter what.

Congratulations to overall race winners Sarah Bard and Zachary Ornelas.  Zachary also set a course record in tough conditions.  Both ran impressive races!

My face pretty much sums up the day thus far.

With the Race Director post-race.

Sycamore healthy, happy and helping Ian with his work.

Super Bee had a fabulous vacation playing in the snow with
Karen and family.

Another thank you to Karen London and her family for taking such great care of Sycamore and Bee while we were in Long Island.  The care provided is second to none.

I'm looking forward to what the next couple months bring!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run - A Team Win!

After having very up and down training cycles since last fall, culminating in several doctor visits this spring and a Western States DNF, it was needless to say I was nervous about lining up for a 6-day stage race consisting of 120-miles.  I was very afraid that I'd hit one of my unexpected low points at some point during the week and hold back my partner Ian.  Ultimately, I only ended up having one of these days and overall we had a solid week of running!  More on the current approach to figuring out these weird issues I've been having below....

This year I lined up with Ian Torrence in the Open Mixed Division for the Pepsico TransRockies Run representing adidas Ultra Team and Nathan Hydration.  Luckily, Ian had run the race previously so it was nice having the word of experience along the way. 

All photos are courtesy of Chris Hunter (Hunter Imagery) unless otherwise noted.  

Stage One: Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge - 20.9 Miles

Get ready for a week of camping!  Day one went well for us, as we were the first team across the line and was the first day we earned our leader's jerseys.  Ian is very good at being able to run hard every day and I expected him to get stronger as the week went on.  On the other hand, I've never done a race like this before so I was a little unsure of how hard to push.

Coming up the biggest climb of the day:

The hill being a dirt road was conducive for

Ian looking to see how much further
till the aid station and top of the hill.

Views from Stage One.
Today's podium prizes came from Nathan Hydration, which happened to be the hydration systems Ian and I used all week.

Stage Two: Oh Sh*# Day! In reality, Hope Pass - 13.3 Miles

My first time over Hope Pass and unfortunately the day I was dreading already came on day 2....the awful flatline happened.  Ian had to wait for me as I was struggling to even run the final flat miles.  

Luckily, we still held onto the leader's jerseys and my SNAFU didn't cost us the day's lead.  

Hope Pass.  My appreciation for Leadville 100 Mile went up.
Leadville 100M goes over this twice at the half way point.

McMillan Running athlete Mary Haskins (in green) is all
smiles at the end of Stage 2.

We camped in Leadville this evening which meant gluten-free pizza and real coffee for an afternoon snack.  The mission was also to find a deck of cards, which was harder than you'd think.  Fellow McMillan Running Coach and Altra athlete Jacob Puzey saved the day by scrounging up some cards. 

Stage Three: Leadville to Camp Hale - 24.2 Miles

Thank goodness Stage 3 was better for me than Stage 2.  I actually felt like a runner again!  Stage 3 is a long day complete with a lot of rolling terrain.  Similar to day one, this stage ended with a few miles on a dirt road....a slightly-uphill-into-the-head-wind dirt road.

All smiles at the start in Leadville and rocking our leader's jerseys.

Woops, we lost the jerseys along the way!  Happy to be done
at the finish line in Camp Hale.

We spent the next two nights in Camp Hale.  Only fitting it to it's name, we actually did get a hail storm one afternoon that nearly flooded our tent.  

Stage Four: Camp Hale to Red Cliff - 14.1 Miles

Finally, Ian and I were both on fire on the same day!  Besides Stage One, I consider this one of our strongest stages.  The lingering soreness I'd had was gone, more than likely due to the massage I got the day before.  This stage is another long climb and descent similar to Hope Pass.  To my favor, this was more two-track/road running compared to Hope Pass so I was able to make better time.  

View from Stage Four.

Running as a team.
Photo by Raven Eye Photography.

Stage Five: Red Cliff to Vail - 23.6 Miles

So close yet so far to the final finish line.  The majority of the runners loathed the long, gradual uphill start on a dirt road, but this was my bread and butter.  But they all got their just revenge as we had another long descent into Vail...that was hard!  Today was filled with more awesome views of the Rockies.

Just awesome pics of things other than us for this stage:

The cute fuzzy critter on the slideshow made miss
Bee and Zoroaster who had to stay at home this trip.

Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek - ???? Miles

Apparently it's becoming tradition that the final stage keeps changing and subsequently the mileage seems to vary.  At the briefing the night before, it turned out today was going to be longer than originally planned.  It was a little rough.  I had gotten the creeping crud in Leadville and it finally caught up to me.  Plus, it was the last day and we were ready to see the finish line. 

We successfully held on to our leader's jerseys each day and came away with the win in the Open Mixed Division!  I'm not sure which was more difficult, the running or trying to zip and carry my huge duffel bag each morning.

Awesome shot, but I was not feeling the love.
Photo by Raven Eye Photography.

Beaver Creek!!  We did it!

And we're still talking to each other.  Added bonus points!

This was a great event and we will probably be next year to take on another six days of TransRockies.  
Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and race management who made each day go smoothly for all the runners.  

Elimination Diet

After having another up and down training cycle leading into Western States, I started be more aggressive with my approach to resolving the issue. Before WS, I had blood work done that showed my ferritin had dropped again and also indicated low B12, a long-standing norm in my lab results over the years.  We addressed these in the typical manner with increased B12 and iron.  My menstrual cycle had also been worse than usual and really took a toll on me.  Loe and behold, it was that time of the month right smack on WS weekend.  I started the race according to plan (run by my own effort), and started tanking well before Robinson Flat.  Upon leaving Robinson, I began hiking....downhill.  I was ready to drop at Dusty Corners, but logistically it was a nightmare.  When I saw Ian at Michigan Bluff, he persuaded me to keep going to Foresthill and had me hammer the calories.   The calories helped some but I was mentally done and had no desire to be on the course anymore.

Post-WS, we did extensive blood work-ups that showed some numbers were off, but nothing too severe.  The next step has been to go with an elimination diet.  Currently, I'm two weeks in and feeling like a runner again.  Already the GI has improved and energy levels are increasing.  I don't think I realized how bad I truly felt again...the last time I had this realization was when I went gluten-free after a massive body shut down.  Going gluten-free took time, but the difference was night and day.  The same process seems to be taking place again.  Fingers are crossed this helps me be more consistent with my training and with less frustrations. 

Last race before the elimination diet, Gaspin in the Aspen 15k.
I came away with the win and unexpectedly lowered my
Course Record from last year under new RD Ian Torrence.
  Photo by Neil Weintraub. 

Upcoming Race Schedule

9/20 - Flagstaff Half Marathon
9/27 - Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100M Relay
10/11 - Soulstice Trail Race
10/18 - NAU Parkinson's 10k
10/31 - 50km World Trophy Final
11/21 - IAU 100km World Championships

Super Bee and Zoroaster waiting for the ball from
their babysitter.

Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile

After Caumsett 50k, the focus switched to Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.  With only six weeks between ultras, there was no set training plan for Sonoma.  The first priority was recovery from the 50k, then it was back to the trails for a month for a crash course in uphills and downhills.

Lake Sonoma was lining up to be one of the most competitive 50 mile races of the year for both the men and women.  I wanted to be ready to compete at the front, but in order to do that I knew I needed to improve my fueling.  Overall, I was very pleased to have finally been diligent about my nutrition and hydration.  It's amazing how much better my energy levels were in the final miles of the race.  Maybe now I'll stop being so hardheaded to my own detriment?

The day before, Ian and I met with Matt Trappe for a quick and dirty Nathan Hydration photo shoot.  Not a bad view!

Race day!

During the first couple miles on the road, Sally McRae, Stephanie Howe, Jodie Adams-Moore and I quickly found each other.  When we hit the trail, runners all around took advantage of the first major downhill and bombed down the trail.  The next several miles were comprised of several lead changes and chit chat with Stephanie.  She had run Sonoma before, so she shared some tips of the trade about the course.

Running with Nick Clark.  Stephanie and Jodie are also
close by.
Creek crossing!  The creeks were low this year, but still
had enough water to get your feet.

At the Wulfow aid station (about 17 miles in), the break from the pack happened.  It wasn't planned and at first I hoped it wasn't a fatal flaw.  I made the rookie mistakes at 2012 JFK of pushing too hard too early, combined with no caloric intake.  I did not want a repeat of that on a course I wasn't familiar with and with women waiting to pick up the pieces.  I quickly did a systems check, felt I was still running comfortable, plus I had found a rhythm which is when I run best.  I decided at this point I had to go with it.

Cruising on smooth trail.

The rough patch.  Not that it has to happen, but I'm not surprised it happened.  I was started to feel my quads going a little before halfway, but otherwise I was doing fine.  I saw Ian again at No Name Flat (25 mi) and we quickly did the bottle swap and got reloaded.  It was foggy which was awesome to run through.  The day before, this section of the course was sunny and warm.  I was thankful that the sun hadn't come through yet, making it much cooler.

There was a lot of activity around No Name Flat.  I could
also get a feel for where the other runners were on the 1.5 mile loop.

Then I left No Name Flat and things started to fall apart a bit.  For some reason, I struggled from No Name Flat to Madrone Point (30.9 mi).  Twenty miles is a long way to go!  After I saw Ian again at Madrone Point, I found my rhythm again and felt much better.  My quads weren't getting any better, but there was nothing I could do about that.

All in all, I wanted to keep running smooth and effortless for as long as possible.  If I had to respond, I wanted to be able to.  After Warm Springs Creek aid station, it's a long 12 miles without seeing your crew.  It was nice to see a familiar face in adiultra teammate Brian Tinder at the small out and back at 45.5 miles.  Joe Uhan was also hot on my heels and ended flying past me a couple miles from the finish.

More beautiful scenery of the course.

The day finished with a win and new course record of 7:26:15.  I was very happy with day!  Race Director John Medinger, his wife Lisa, and all of their volunteers provided outstanding accommodations for the weekend.  Thanks to Ian for crewing and making the whole process seamless.

Stephanie Howe and I post-race.

Hanging out with Mike (my Mom's HS swim coach) post-race.

Gear of the day:
adidas adios boost
Injinji medium-weight sock
Nathan Fire Catcher vest
Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated handheld

To top to it all off, I received the biggest bottle of wine I've ever seen!

Bee and Z really only care about the ball in my hand.

A bonus photo of an awesome sunset in Flagstaff on Earth Day.

Taken from the back deck.  

Photo credits: Chihping Fu, Ian Torrence, Joseph Condon, Matt Trappe, and Nate Dunn.