Monday, October 29, 2007

Whiskeytown 50k

Friday afternoon, "Ocean Beach" Jeff and I headed north to Redding for the Whiskeytown 50k. This is one of the last races in the PAUSATF Ultra Grand Prix series. I didn't need the points, but thought it would be a great way to end the racing season.

This is a very low-key race. I think there was around 48 runners in the 50k, which is quite a small field.

I thought this would be a fairly easy course. I don't know why, but that's what I thought. Partly through the race, I turned to Jeff and told him I had found new respect for the race. I thought it wasn't going to be that difficult, but crossing a creek 15+ times wears one out quickly!

I rolled my left about mile 11. There were a lot of leaves on the ground and the rocks were blending into the ground. My foot didn't bother me until about mile 18. That's when I hit a long downhill section and it kicked my butt. Jeff was in great shape at that time and took off. I was not eating well at this point and was getting dehydrated and low on my electrolytes. I started to crash. I was having a hard time moving forward. I forced myself to take another gel and popped a few more salt pills. Once I got to the next aid station, none of the food looked appealing and I just downed a few cups of coke and kept moving. I think if there was a vehicle that could have taken me back to the finish line, I might have taken it. Ok, probably not because I'm really stubborn, but I was close!

I forced another gel down about a mile away from the multiple creek crossing section (mile 23?). I was working really hard to avoid the water. I figured the last thing I needed was wet feet to weigh my already beat up body. On the fourth crossing, my foot slipped and into the water I went. It felt great to have ice cold water on my foot! Something about the water woke my body up and I came back alive! From then on, I took every crossing right through the water.

I finished the last of the creek crossings and finally saw someone ahead of me. Guy in the red shirt. He had been running with a partner and the two of them had been running with Jeff the last time I saw him. Either he was losing steam, or I was gaining. Since I had been down to practically a crawl, I figured this guy must be really slowing down.

I caught him on a hill and passed. We exchanged a few words (I don't remember anything I said!) before I continued powering up the hill.

I got up to the road and was told I had only 8 miles to go. Sloshing along in my wet feet, I slowly made my way along the fire road to the next aid station. As I got closer to the AS, I could hear Red Shirt Guy gaining on me. I got up to the aid station, filled my bottles quickly and just as I was leaving, saw him get into the aid station. The volunteers told me to hurry up and don't let him catch you! That's all I needed. I found my third wind with 7 miles to go. The next three miles I swear I could hear his feet hitting the ground behind me. I didn't dare take a look back, in fear that I would hit yet another rock and really mess up my foot! Before I knew it, I had caught up with Jeff. He looked back and as if he had known I would be showing up he said...hey there, I've been waiting for you. We took the next 4 miles easy and finished strong in 6:11:51.

What a low-key finish. You pretty much had to clap yourself in! We got our medals and went down to the lake to cool our legs off. The post-race food was unfortunately quite lacking. It was pretty much what they had at the aid stations, except for the minestrone soup. It was good soup, but not enough after 6 hours of running!

While we waited for our drop bags to show up, we had a great conversation with Lisa Huerta. In my mind, she is a powerful, consistent runner. Most races I finish within a few places of her.

I think after this race, it's safe to say I'm done for the season. My ankle is sore again, but not nearly as sore as it was after Firetrails. It will be weird not to have a race in November, but there is the Ocean Beach 50k in mid-December. November will be all about getting my ankle healed and my core strengthened. Also it's about other life changes. I'll be moving at the end of the month, plus I'm getting ready for a holiday concert.

That should keep me busy.

Whiskeytown 50k
6:11:51, 20th place (48 finishers)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NOVA's Marathon Challenge

I received an email from a PBS's NOVA promotional person that had asked if I would post this to my blog. I've always wanted to be part of such a documentary. One day...

NOVA's "Marathon Challenge" will be premiering this Tuesday, October 30, at 8PM ET/PT on PBS. You can check your local listings to confirm when it will be broadcast near you at

Here's the scoop on the show: Six months ago, a team of rookies stepped to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. As members of Team NOVA, they were part of an experiment: a test to see what it takes to mold a batch of non-runners into a team of marathoners. Tune in Tuesdsay to find out how this diverse group of hopeful novices transformed physically and mentally to meet the challenge.

While you're waiting, why not click over to the Marathon Challenge Web site,, where you can meet Team NOVA and its coaching group, get training tips, and explore the physiology of fitness.

Plus, we have two podcasts and a vodcast scheduled to launch this week in conjunction with the show: On Wednesday, meet Sama Elbannan, a 28-year-old novice whose "Oh, it's just a marathon!" attitude evaporates almost as soon as she laces up her shoes. Then elite runner Uta Pippig, advisor to Team NOVA, describes her philosophy on running in "Taking the Marathon Challenge," also hitting iTunes on Wednesday. On Friday, "Coach Don" Megerle, director of the Tufts President's Marathon Challenge and a coach of Team NOVA, shares the adrenaline rush he gets from watching his runners achieve their marathon goals: "After the last person is finished crossing the line, it takes me several days to come down from that." These 'casts are all available on iTunes. Or, visit our podcasting page to find out how to get them delivered directly to your computer:


Monday, October 22, 2007

Finally running again!

Jeff J. & I coming down the hill into the turnaround aid station at Firetrails

I went for a 5 mile trail run tonight. I've been pretty nervous about how my leg and ankle have been feeling lately. I went from barely walking last week to now running a decent speed for 5 miles. Looks like I still have youth on my side! I think it also helped that I spent over a week off from running.

Lots of life happening at the moment. Seems like there is barely a moment to catch my breath before the next thing needs attention.

This week is Whiskeytown 50k. Taking it real easy and giving myself permission to DNF to save my foot if necessary!

Thanks Jeff!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two races, one weekend? I might not be the smartest cookie in the jar, but I have a lot of fun!

Saturday, Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile: 10:54:04
Sunday, EastBay Frontrunners Pride Run 10k: 1:01:xx

I probably shouldn't have run the 10k the next day...I guess I didn't learn my lesson from last year! I was limping along the entire way for my new Personal Worst time for a 10k...1 hour and 1 minute! I came in last place! I really wanted to quit after the first 100 yards, but as I rounded the start/finish line starting lap 2, I decided I would rather be DFL than DNF. I've never had a DNF yet, though I might have a DNS for Whiskeytown in two weeks!

My left leg around my ankle is pretty swollen and I'm limping pretty good today. If the swelling doesn't go down today, I'll make a doctor's appointment. I hate doctors.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Running this weekend

Brad, Jeff, Eldrith & Buzz at Mt. Tam.

Jeff, Eldrith & Buzz at Mt. Tam

What could be better than running 16.5 miles around Mt. Tam, running with these three people! A RDL reunion of sorts. Early Saturday, we all met at Mountain Home Inn in Marin County and spent all morning running along the beautiful trails around Mt. Tam.

One problem, you know how some trails are "single track?" Well, some of these trails were "half" track. I was flying down the trail and my left foot fell off to the side and I twisted it pretty good. Enough for me to actually stop, think about how hurt it really was and then started to limp forward until I was able run without any pain. It didn't help that about 20 minutes before I had hit my left foot against a ragged sharp rock. All part of the trail running experience, right?

Unfortunately I was not able to stay for lunch afterwards, I had a board meeting & wedding to go to later in the day. I was able to finally get home at 4:15, and with the wedding starting at 5pm, I had little time to get ready. I sat down on my bed and that's when I finally felt my ankle and leg muscle...I needed ice and Advil and to put my foot up. I was going no where quickly.

This morning when I got out of bed, my left leg is still feeling a little weak. Time to do some slow stretching and hopefully to a quick recovery for Saturday's Firetrails 50 Mile!

Friday, October 05, 2007

2007 coming to an end

Weird to think that it will be 2008 in a short few months. After reading Mountain Man Steve's blog entry recapping 2007, it started me thinking about this past year, resting (or not), and 2008.

The rest of 2007 is all planned.
Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile, October 13th
East Bay Frontrunner's Pride 10k Run, October 14th (or should I say shuffle!)
Whiskeytown 50k, October 27th
Ocean Beach 50k, December 16th

November will be the first month where I have no ultra planned. I was thinking of doing the Helen Klein 50 on November 3rd, but I have a chorus gig that day. It's probably a good thing too, because knowing me I would have run it...and probably hurt myself in the process!

As I'm talking with my running friends, many of them are planning on taking some time off after Firetrails or Javelina until next year. Last year I took time off after Firetrails. I ended up gaining about 15 pounds by January (and no, that wasn't 15 pounds of muscle!) So what is one to do? What does taking time off look like?

One great thing about living in the Bay Area, is that we have great running weather pretty much year round. We have our cold days (50-55 degrees) and we have our rainy days (December thru April), but even our worst days are better than some people's average days!

At this time, I do have a slight break in races. Whiskeytown 50k will be the last "official" race on Oct. 27th, but I will be doing Jeff's Ocean Beach 50k on Dec. 16th. The next race I'm looking at is the Ghost Town 38.5 Mile on January 20th. It is in New Mexico, so I'll have to make up my mind pretty soon! The next race after that is the Jed Smith Ultra in February.

I'm still planning out my schedule for 2008. Looks like it's going to be a busy one! Dec. 1st is the lottery drawing for Western States, so that will be a determining factor in my 2008 schedule. Ocean Beach Jeff has a strong feeling that I'll get in this year. I hope I do. I've wanted to do WS100 before I turn 30 and 2008 is my last chance!

Other not-so-far-off race goals: Badwater 135. The application process is a little lengthy and I'm not sure exactly what they are looking for. My goal is to run it in 2009 or 2010. If anyone out there has suggestions on how to put together a great application, please let me know!

Enough rambling. Tomorrow is ~18 miles with Eldrith, Buzz, and Ocean Beach Jeff in the Marin Headlands. Should be a lot of fun (except that it's going to be cold in the early morning!)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Running at night is awesome!

I just realized last night on a ~14 mile trail run that I just love running at night on trails. It really helps to have someone there (thanks Ocean Beach Jeff!) to keep the scary night animals at bay. I think night running is a key component of success to a faster 100 mile time. If I can maintain my speed (maintain a slow steady pace) at night, my 100 mile time should come down.

Last night, Ocean Beach Jeff came over and we took off from my house around 6pm. Up Keller Ave to the Leona Open Space Preserve. This is a great little canyon in between Campus Drive and Skyline Blvd (just south of Merritt College). We went along this trail for a mile or so and turned on a trail that takes you straight up to Skyline. I want to find the profile for "K2" at RDL and this hill. I think the East Bay has some pretty good hills that just are unknown to many of us.
Once we reach Skyline, we ran back down to the south to the Equestrian Staging Area and filled our water bottles. Down the connecting trail and over to Bort Meadows. We continued along the MacDonald trail until my Garmin said 7 miles. We turned around and trekked back up the hill. That hill was one of those bigger ones in Skyline/Firetrails that takes you over to Bort Meadows.
It was great to see stars in the sky. You don't get to see them too often in Oakland! Plus we saw 2 deer, a skunk, and what I thought was a little owl. It was a little odd. Here was this little bird that would wait until we were about 2 feet next to it and then it would fly down the trail and wait until we got close again. The bird did this about 4 times. I guess he was just showing us the way!
Made it back through the cattle gates, past Bort Meadow and back up to the Equestrian center. This is where we had a choice, either go down Keller Ave and be done in less than 2 miles or go back down the other trail, which would add about, as I put it, "More than 3 but no more than 5 miles." Jeff said let's take the trail. His response is why I know we make good running partners...we almost always opt for the longer, more difficult route. So back up Skyline and down the trail (which is quite steep going down!) through the canyon and back on Keller. A quick up and down back to my house. We took a nice walk around the block to cool down.
Almost 3 hours later and about 14 hilly miles completed, it was a great run. Not bad for 10 days after 100 miles!
Saturday will be the last long run before Firetrails 50.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How much is too much?

I've been thinking a lot about different races and multi-day races seem to be grabbing more and more of my attention. Especially the Self-Transcendence 6 or 10-day. This race takes place in New York around a very short loop course. And for 6 or 10 days you run and run and run. (Sound familiar?)

I was looking at some of the runner's profiles and many have done 300+ miles in 6 days, just about what I have planned for Iowa in 2008. This seems a little scary to me. Here these people come from all over the world, have years and years experience (some have more than 25+ years of running experience) and are at the top of their game. And I'm going to attempt something very close. 50 miles a day for 6 days, in the heat and humidity of an Iowan summer.

My aunt asked me if this was even possible, to run 50 miles a day for six days. I'm not sure I replied. I also let her know that I didn't really think I could run 28 miles a day for 11 days, but somehow I made it through.

I've very excited to give it a try, but wonder if my body could handle that much physical and mental strain?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back and running

Had a great 5.3 mile run on Saturday morning with the East Bay Frontrunners. Ocean Beach Jeff came out to enjoy a nice recovery run with me. We had so much to talk about. It was mostly about Rio del Lago 100 Mile, but also about the upcoming races, including the Ocean Beach 50k which Jeff has been creating the past few weeks. It sounds like it's going to be an awesome run. He's even going to have T-shirts! I wish I was that organized for my Afraid of the Dark run. Next year I'll have shirts!
If anyone is interested, the Ocean Beach 50k will be held Sunday, Dec. 16th @ 7:30am, right at Ocean Beach. Limited aid (unless we can find some volunteers??), but the price is right...FREE! It is limited to 12 people though. Send me an email if you want more information. We'll be going across the Golden Gate fun is that!
I went for a 5 mile run tonight on the trails. It's getting dark pretty quickly these days. By 7pm, it was getting a little harder to see when the trees covered the trail. Then the noises started. Running along the dusk, you start to hear every noise amplified. At least I do. I try to tell myself that it's just a bird, or a squirrel...NOT a mountain lion. I know it's possible and not probable. Tonight I heard something that was much larger than a bird. I turned towards the noise and grunted and hollered with my arms up in the air...I could sort of see through the brush that it was a deer. I must have done a good "Raise your arms, make lots of noise, scare the mountain lion" act. That deer took off pretty quick!
This Wednesday will be a ~12 mile run and then Saturday a 20 mile run in the Marin Headlands with Buzz, Eldrith, and Jeff. Then back into a short taper for the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile on October 13th!