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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

USA 50km Road Championships (Caumsett 50k)

1st Place Female, 4th Overall.  My final time of 3:15 is the second-fastest 50k by a North American and was 69-seconds off Janis Klecker's American Record (3:13:51) from 1983.  

I don't really have any revelations for this blog since most of the race highlights and details have been covered in iRunFar's article and Ian Torrence's blog, covering the two months of training leading into the race.

Racy day!  While temperatures were brisk, we got lucky that the impending snow storm held off.  The heated tent at the start/finish line was a welcome sight!

Photo by GLIRC

And we're off!
Photo by GLIRC

The lead men wasted no time in settling into a quick pace.  Ethan Coffey would go on to set a new course record, while Michael Wardian finished a strong second with a sub-3 hour run.

Ethan Coffey, Michael Wardian and Joseph Gray.
Photo by GLIRC.

My family stationed themselves at the beginning of the out-and-back section of the loop, so I saw them twice on each 5k loop.  This worked perfectly for my nutrition plan...I'd grab my Nathan QuickShot Plus Insulated, carry it for the out and back, drop it, and take a gel for the rest of the loop.

Taking my bottle from Mema for the out-and-back.
Photo by Sandra Morris.

Heading out for another loop.  Other than passing through
other runners, I ran the race solo from the gun.
Photo by GLIRC.
Running relaxed.
Photo by Sandra Morris.

What Ian didn't say in his blog, is that Caumsett marked his 179th ultra finish!!  His marathon split was only a couple minutes off his 2013 Boston Marathon time, but this time he kept going to finish 50k in 3:38 for 11th place.   

Running with a pack in the early miles.
Photo by GLIRC.
Coming off the out-and-back section.

Receiving awards from Carl, the Race Director.
Photo by Cheryl & David Harrison.

Ian also receives his medal from the RD.
Photo by Cheryl & David Harrison.
Post-race.  Trust me, we're colder than we look!

The following day we joined New York Running Company's Ultra Sexy Pace for a run and Q&A.  Nathan and adidas were also in attendance, getting runners outfitted in Nathan reflective gear and adidas Boosts for our night run through Central Park. Thankfully I was able to squeak out 2.75 miles with the group even if I did almost get dropped.

Photo by Mary Arnold.
  A big thank you to Dr. AJ Gregg for keeping me healthy along the way.  To Ian for providing training and moral support to help me reach my goals.  To my family for driving 7+ hours to see me race.  And to all the sponsors who complete the package: adidas Ultra Team, Nathan PerformanceInjinjiTeam Run Flagstaff Pro, and New Belgium Brewing.