Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Weekend

The lead up to the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon was much different than in 2012.  I was coming into the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon with a recent 2:32:55 PR and was running for adidas-McMillanElite, so there was greater pressure to perform well.  It ended up that I raced in 2012 with a gnarly head cold, but it was still a solid performance for me despite feeling rough.

Competing at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Fast forward to November 2015 and I still didn't have a qualifier for the 2016 Trials.  I had run Eugene Marathon earlier in the year with the intention of securing my qualifier.  I ended up 2nd in the race, but only ran 2:44.  As soon as I had decided I wouldn't go for a last chance qualifier in January, USA Track and Field released the change in qualifying standards on December 11th, meaning I was now in.  I was now entering the Trials as one of the last qualifiers, a far different position from 2012.

Ian quickly put together 9-weeks of marathon training and I hit the pavement running by the following Monday.

Pre-Trials mandatory technical meeting.

The calm before the storm.  The start line the day before the race.

By race day, I had put in a strong 9-weeks of training compared to my last couple years.  I was thrilled to have been able to complete all of the training (exception of when Super Bee took off, frightened of gun shots) and to have hit training paces closer to where I feel I should be.  Granted, I wasn't logging the 100+ mile weeks that every other Trials qualifier in Flagstaff was doing, but it's all relative and I was happy with where I was at.

Bottles for race day.

Super Bee and Sycamore helping me gather my race day necessities.

Originally, I wanted to aim for a sub-2:40 at Trials.  As we got closer to race day and the forecast for temperatures in the high-70's to low-80's became certain, Ian strongly advised I back off that goal time and start much more conservatively.  This was the best decision.  When the gun went off, I just felt out of sorts but not terrible.  By half-way, it wasn't coming together despite starting conservative and my pace started slipping.  In the middle two 6-mile loops, I'd walk every time I saw Ian and confirm that I should finish out the race even though I wasn't competing anymore. I had some nausea that was coming in waves, but otherwise I was physically fine.  Let the trudging continue!

Still competing at this point.
How can you find yourself alone among over 200 runners?
The loneliness of the long distance runner...not to mention it's quite warm at this point.

The day of the Trials also happened to be my 30th birthday!
Birthday roses from my parents were delivered to our hotel room the evening before. 

Many runners had to drop or ended up in the medical tent receiving IV's due to the crazy warm conditions, all spurred by the first ever live television coverage of the Olympic Trials Marathon.  I was very happy to have finished in one piece in 2:54 and 100th place, 66 spots ahead of my starting position.  This was my slowest marathon ever, but not every one can be a PR.  Overall, I was grateful to have been a part of this year's Olympic Trials once again.  Sure, there were some organizational issues that have been discussed post-event, but that's a whole other blog, and there are others who have already addressed these issues in their own blogs.

I like this graphic by Tracy Green of the stats from the race:

Graphic by Tracy Green.

One of the neatest aspects of this Trials, was the huge representation by Flagstaff runners.  We had at least 13 runners (I know I'm missing someone) who live and train in Flagstaff year round qualify for the Trials.  For a smaller mountain town at 7,000 feet that's pretty impressive.

A few of the Flagstaff athletes:
Matt Llano and Kellyn Taylor of HOKA NAZ Elite.  TRF PRO members Nick Arciniaga,
Danny Mercado, Nick Hilton and Tyler Jermann.

With the Trials being held in Los Angeles, we had a huge support system make the trip to cheer on the athletes in person.  Thanks to them for bringing more of Flagstaff to the streets of LA!

Flagstaff getting ready for a day of cheering!
Group photos by Stephanie Del Giorgio.

I can tell hard work went into these signs.
Of course my personal favorite is "Bee Super," a play on my Border Collie Super Bee.
Ian completing his dual role of boyfriend and coach on the course.

Super Bee representing the finishers medal while Sycamore looks on.

Nap time post-trials.

If a birthday and running in the Olympic Trials wasn't enough, how about a fender bender trying to get out of LA.  We were so close to surviving the big make it even better, it was a hit and run.  The other car sped off and didn't even hesitate to stop.  Thankfully everyone was okay and once the wrecker pulled the fender off the tire and the police report filed, we were on our way again.  

Poor truck has been through a lot!

Wait...we're not done yet!  The weekend had yet more to bring in terms of excitement.  After we got mobile again, we headed to our original destination of Joshua Tree National Park....

Where Ian proposed!

Engagement ring next to a Joshua tree.  

I had no idea this was coming so it really was a big surprise.  I had never been to Joshua Tree and we've talked about taking a trip, so I assumed it was a typical detour on the trip like we are apt to do.  It wasn't planned to happen on Valentine's Day but that's the way it unfolded.  The best part was, no one knew beforehand except for my parents.  That's a big secret to keep!

Photos from Joshua Tree National Park.

Skull Rock in Joshua Tree.

Tired dogs after a short run in Joshua Tree.

This will certainly never be a weekend I'll forget!  There was intrigue around every corner.  Next up will be a return to the trails and ultras this spring.  

A big thank you to Ian for getting me to the start line and to HYPO2 and Dr. AJ Gregg for keeping the body healthy and strong.  

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!