All posts by debbiepearson66@gmail.com

Did Someone Say Trail Running Camp???

I  usually don’t buy myself birthday gifts, but this year was different.  I heard about this magical place called trail running camp and just had to be a part of it.  Fleet Feet Sacramento, #theoriginal, hosted the inaugrual event at a place called Community of the Great Commission, which sounds a lot like a town in one of my daughter’s dystopia books.  But, instead, it is a very cool campground that is situated above Michigan Bluff at about 4000 feet elevation.  I know 4000 is not that high, but my woefully out of shape body sure told me it was while I ran up there.   Peace out, and I’m sure I will see you somewhere out on the trails.

Home away from home.

DAY ONE: My buddy Cam and I arrived at camp at 2:00 on Friday.  We were given our glorious swag bag filled with all kinds of cool running stuff, then headed to our cabin to unpack and pick out our bunks.   The cabins weren’t fancy, but thankfully they did have an indoor bathroom, which was very convenient at night.  They had snacks and drinks set out for us in the main lodge and we chatted with the different reps that were there that weekend demoing their wares.  At 3:00, we all met up for our trail safety and etiquette clinic, followed by our first trail run.  Zach Bitter, who is also a rep for  Altra, and Meghan Arbogast joined us for our run as well.  The runs were based on time since there were so many different levels of runners at camp. This run was an hour and between 4-6 miles. I ran 5 miles and soon regretted that pre-run beer or two at about mile 2.  Did I mention the run was uphill, both ways?  It did provide for spectacular views at the top.

Beautiful!

Everyone met back at the main hall for happy hour, which was between 5:00 and 6:00.  However, all hours at camp were happy,  especially since everyone got their own special Hoka One One drinking cup.  Mine became very well used.   In the main hall were kegs of beer and bottles of wine and of course snacks to go with it.

Snacks!
Jenga!
Ultrarunnerpodcast

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all headed to the dining hall at 6:00 for dinner. They served tacos and burritos with salad and fruit the first night.  The food was pretty good and they were able to accommodate a number of dietary restrictions.  When you sign up for camp, you have to let them know of any dietary restrictions you have. They always had vegetarian and vegan alternatives available since we had quite a few in our group.  They even had some cookies labeled as vegetarian.  For the life of me though, I can’t remember the last time I consumed a cookie with meat in it.  Eric Schranz from Ultrarunnerpodcast was with us in camp and we were able to watch him record a live show Friday after dinner.  I think his goal for the weekend was to finish off the kegs of beer. By this time, Hayden Hawks had joined us in camp and it was definitely fun watching Zach, Meghan and Hayden being interviewed by Eric and hearing their stories. We also got to ask them questions during the podcast as well.   After the podcast, we met up with the Nathan Rep Clarke, and he hooked us up with all kinds of sweet Nathan headlamps and running lights for our mile hike around thecamp under the stars.  Did I mention that the weather was perfect?  It wasn’t even cold at night.  After the hike, some campers went to sit around the campfire and drink more beer and wine. As tempting as that was, I had already consumed my fill of alcohol that day and was just plain exhausted from the days activities and headed for bed.

Hill Clinic
Comparing scars.
Goofballs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY TWO: On Saturday, we had breakfast from 7:00 – 8:00 and then had an uphill & downhill running clinic with Zach, Meghan, Hayden and Magda Boulet.  They compared all of their cool falling scars too, along with the stories of how that got them.  Something I could certainly relate to. The run this morning started at 8:30 and the time frame was 3 hours.  You have the option of doing 8-12 miles within that time, or less if you are inclined.  I started out thinking I was going to do 12 and  made my way down the trail to Volcano Creek.  I crossed the creek and kept going and went to the farthest turn around for our group.  I started making my way back and crossed the creek again and proceeded up the most horrific switchbacks that went on forever.  I swear this trail went uphill for at least 4 miles.  There were also workers on the trail this day busy making repairs, thank you Katy, Elke and Paulo!  However, I’m sure they remember me as the strange runner spewing profanities to herself as I slowly made my way back up out of the canyon.   When I finally reached an aid station that was set up for us at around mile 3.5 , I was pretty spent from all of the climbing, the heat and just being out of shape.  Dusty offered me a ride back to camp, and I took it.  I looked at my Garmin, which said I was at 8 miles, so I figured I did 8 the hard way.  Besides, if I didn’t get back to camp soon, I was going to miss my massage appointment. I did have priorities after all.

Volcano Creek.

I showered, ate lunch, and headed over to the massage tent where I got a wonderful and much needed massage.  You don’t realize how tight you are until they loosen things up for you.  Then I headed over to the PT tent where I experienced graston for the first time.  It was either graston or cupping, so I chose graston.   Graston uses stainless steel instruments to move the soft tissue around to loosen it up and encourage more blood flow.   It was a very interesting experience.   I then headed to a mat where I was shown specific exercises and stretches with a strap to help with my problem areas.  After all of the massaging, prodding and stretching, I went into the hall to join the Addaday clinic that Magda Boulet was teaching.  She basically showed us how to properly use each torture device on our muscles to force them into submission.  Afterwards, my body was so loose and tired that I just needed to be horizontal for awhile.  I decided to skip the yoga and afternoon seminars to go back to the cabin to nap.

Hayden Hawks!
Massage.

 

Addaday Clinic.

Of course I made it back to the deck for happy hour where a giant Jenga was being played with, along with other games and lively conversation.  After dinner, we headed to the large movie screen that had been set up in the meadow and got ready for the Trails in Motion Film Festival.  The movies were great and of course we were provided with plenty of snacks and refreshments.  There was also a campfire where we had all the fixings to make smore’s.  I eventually made it back to my cabin and slept very well that night.

Trails in Motion Film Festival!

 

Refreshments!

 

 

 

 

 

DAY THREE:   We had coffee and a snack before our run.  Our run was scheduled for up to 90 minutes, but you can turn around whenever you wanted.  Since it was going to be a very steep incline coming back from El Dorado Creek, Ann and I decided to turn around at around 30 minutes.  It was incredibly steep coming back and of course it took much longer than 30 minutes to make the return trip back to camp.  The views at our turnaround point were amazing though and worth the climb back up.  Afterwards, We met up in the dining hall to have a hearty last breakfast in camp and say our goodbyes.  At this point, I headed back to our cabin to reluctantly pack up.  I did end up leaving with more stuff than what I brought due to all of the giveaways and swag we received.  I was sad that it ended so soon and I did hear a rumor that they may extend it to 4 days next year.  I sure hope they do and I know I plan to be part of it again.  So much fun was had by all!!

Last trail run.

Trail Bliss!The top things I learned from trail camp:

  1. I need to get into better shape next year because those runs are no joke.
  2. Bring a pad for your bunk, the sleeping bag alone just doesn’t cut it.
  3. Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper, or drink enough alcohol to make you a heavy sleeper.
  4. It was really cool to hang out and pick the brains of the elite runners.
  5. It’s just camp, do not over pack.

By the way, I did not fall, but I did trip so hard that my hat violently flew off of my head and landed about 20 feet in front of me.  I think the trails are disappoined and still looking for their pound of flesh.

 


 

Fifty is fabulous, or so they tell me. Training for AR50 and subsequently running AR50 did a great job of keeping my mind off of actually turning fifty. I remember when I was in my twenties and fifty seemed so old. It is basically half of your existence if you are that lucky. I even received an AARP membership card in the mail just in time to remind me that yes indeed, I was fifty.

image

However, I think there is still a lot to learn on the road to turning fifty.  I really need to be more patient with myself and try not to be as hard on myself as I tend to be. I have to remember that I am not the same runner as I was in my thirties. Which is something my body reminds myself of all of the time. I have put my body through a lot and I am in awe of what it has done and I am constantly trying to figure out what it can still do.  However, I do find myself getting frustrated with what I currently can’t make my body accomplish, which is running consistently at my previous road pace.

My next big race is CIM, which is the California International Marathon. This will be my 7th CIM, so I know it well enough.  However, I’ve spent so many miles on the trails these last two years, along with training for Way Too Cool and AR50, that I have to say my transition from the trails back to the road has been rough.  It’s been difficult getting my road pace back and because of that, I feel that my overall enthusiasm for the road has diminished.  I asked my Facebook friends if they felt the trails made them a slower road runner. Some people said yes, others no. But a lot of them just said the trails made them stronger.  Well, that wasn’t answering my question.  I feel the trails have made me slower on the road.

So my quest to repair my relationship with the roads again started with coming to terms with my current road pace.  Getting my mind on the same level with what my body is currently capable of doing was the first step.   I neèded to treat every run as a training run for CIM and just time on my feet. I also had to get rid of the race mentality. The only person I should be racing against is myself and not comparing myself to others, especially when they are 15-20 years younger than me.  I just did a 20 mile race yesterday and had a much tougher time than I expected. But that’s okay, it just tells me that I still have a lot of work to do before CIM.  Plus, it was good for me mentally and to get twenty miles on my feet. See, I’m being positive and trying to learn from it instead of looking at just the negative.

image
In the middle of my 20 miler.
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At around mile 15 and really needing a banana.

CIM is one month away and that scares me a little, which is not a bad thing. One good aspect is that I finally have a road shoe that I like after returning two pairs.  I also know I can finish CIM, even if I have to slog it out like I did last year. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that though.  However, I’ve decided my only goal this year is to complete it without experiencing  my debilitating leg cramps that have haunted me in my previous marathons.  They started at mile 16 last year and I hope to alleviate them completely this year. I am experimenting with drinking pickle juice while on the road, which worked beautifully for me on the trails.  I carried it with me for Way Too Cool and AR50 and it seemed to alleviate my leg cramps.  I also sipped it during my twenty mile race and didn’t experience any cramping. So this CIM I am not going to concentrate on my time, but just try and enjoy the journey and what this fifty year old runner can learn from it.  It will be CIM or bust!!

Until next time……..

My alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning and I know those of you taking the shuttle to the start most likely got up earlier.  But I am not a morning person.  I am not complaining, just stating a glaring fact.  So I was only half awake when my husband dropped me off at the start at around 4:45 a.m.  Why so early when my race starts at 6:15 a.m. you ask?  Well, they close the road into Brown’s Ravine at 5:00 a.m., and don’t open it back up until 6:30 a.m.  Most people get dropped off or take the shuttle bus to the start.  It was very dark and cold as I walked around the parking lot trying to stay warm and squinting in the dark to recognize the people who were milling about.  I did manage to find my friend Diana and we went to huddle together on the curb since I didn’t want to be on my feet for an hour before the race.  At this point  I sent out a desperate Facebook plea to anyone who had a car at the start.  Minutes later, our friend Sonia came out and found us shivering on the curb and took us back to her warm car that her husband was manning.  We left the car once to take a porta potty break, but pretty much stayed in the car until close to the start of the race.

My awesome crew!
My awesome crew!

I started off the race running with Diana and Sonia. We went up the road out of Brown’s Ravine and then turned right onto a single track trail.  After about a mile and a half, I started getting warm and decided to take off my light jacket and arm warmers.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to start with a head lamp since it was light enough tat 6:15 to see where we were going.  I had to walk as I was putting my jacket and warmers in my pack and lost Diana and Sonia in the process.  However, I met Latisha at this time.  Latisha flew in with her family from North Carolina on vacation and was also running her first 50 miler.  She was running around my pace so we ended up running together.  Obviously, she didn’t have any crew, pacers or race support so I told her to stick with me since I had an awesome crew who would help her out too.  Our first aid station was Folsom Point at mile 4.97.  I spotted Diana at the restroom there waiting for Sonia. This was a Fleet Feet Folsom aid station so I knew a lot of  the people working it, including two of my crew members, Leah Cox and Nicole Simone who had her GoPro recording.  I gave Leah my jacket and warmers, high fived Kirk and Sam and scooted out of the station not needing to grab any food or drink at this time.  I didn’t see Latisha and thought she was in front of me, so I ran a little faster to try and find her.  As I started walking up a hill , I heard her call out to me from behind. We were now back together again.  I had my Garmin set to buzz every 45 minutes to eat and I started taking a salt pill at the top of the hour starting at 3 hours.  And of course I ate in between at the aid stations to supplement.

From here we jumped on the road down Folsom Lake Crossing and went across the bridge by the dam.  I also met up with Diana and Sonia at this point along with another running friend, Mai. Once crossing the bridge, we  turned and made our way down onto the parkway towards Folsom.  The early miles passed quickly. I chatted with Latisha about the area and where she was off to after the race.  We saw my husband Dirk and Nicole by the foot bridge going into Folsom. Nicole was also holding a placard with my face on it.  Very cute. Dirk was taking pictures of us and Nicole was still recording with the GoPro.    We started making our way around Lake Natoma heading towards our 2nd aid station at Willow Creek, which was mile 12.77.  This was the Buffalo chips aid station and my friend Waiman was working there.  It was great to see her and say hi.  It is also a no crew access aid station, so I made sure to eat a few things, drink some Nuun and grab some GU for the road.  Diana and Mai took off ahead and I did not want to catch them.  They were going a little faster than I wanted to and I promised Dirk I would not get to Beal’s before 11:00.  Plus, I remember John lecturing us not to do the first half too fast, so I tried to keep it slow.  This is also where I first spotted Amy Delaney.  She was all over the race, so I got to see her multiple times.  She was like a little gnome that would jump out of the bush to say hi and take your picture.  I so appreciated that.  Again, it’s always nice to see a familiar face, plus she got a couple of really good shots of me.  Now we took off towards the Aquatic Center.

Around Lake Natoma.
Around Lake Natoma.

After going through the Aquatic Center, we crossed the Hazel bridge and made our way onto the bluffs.  It felt great to be back on the trail again.  Being up on the bluffs provided us with an awesome view of Lake Natoma.  We followed that trail and finally came down on the trail that runs parallel to the parkway, which eventually led us to our next aid station at Main Bar.  This is also a no crew access aid station that lies at mile 16.98 of the race.  It was very small, but a much welcome sight.  Again, I ate some of the food and also made sure to drink some NUUN.  However, I also decided to try some coke since it was so appealing.  I should have known better from Way too Cool, but I couldn’t stop myself.  We soon took off down the road that led us through the horse stables where volunteers made sure we jumped back on the trail and back on course to Negro Bar.  This was a nice part of the trail and it dumped us out on the parkway right before Negro Bar.  Negro Bar is a FTR aid station, so I knew I would see a lot of people there, which helped my energy level. It is at mile 20.18 of the race.  I said hi to Tony who was on his crutches cheering people on coming into the aid station.  He was supposed to be running this race, but was obviously dealing with a knee injury.  I my saw my crew of Leah & Nicole offering me the different foods I had them pack for me. I choked down a couple of Tums since the soda I had earlier was coming back to haunt me now.  My hydration pack would get me to Beals so I didn’t have them fill it.  I also saw Pamela Lim who was working the aid station and got to say hi.  ow it was time to head to Beals which is sort of the halfway point.

Coming off the trail towards Negro bar.
Coming off the trail towards Negro bar.

Beals is mostly uphill from here.  It is a long and slow incline along the parkway.  And here is my rant about about the bicyclists.  AR50 is a big race.  It is the 2nd largest 50 miler in the United States.  There have been signs out on the parkway about the upcoming race.  If you are a regular cyclist in this area, then you know that this race is happening.   As we are making our way uphill to Beals, this cyclist yells at us from behind to get out of his way.  he was being pretty obnoxious so at this point I was getting hot and I was certainly tired. So I yelled back that we were in a race and we were not moving out of his way.  And I did not move.  He yelled something else obnoxious as he was going by, which I tried to ignore although I was pretty riled up about it.   There seemed to be more bicyclists out on the course this weekend than I have seen in a long time.  There were some nice ones too that said encouraging words, but those rude ones really got me going.  Later, as I was reading another friends race recap, she witnessed a bicyclist get off his bike and confront a racer.  I am glad I did not witness that.

I told Latisha that she will like Beals.  It is a large aid station with a mat you have to cross so they can catch your time.  It is at mile 24.31 of the race.  We arrived at Beals at 10:57, so a little under my projected time of 11:00. We climbed into Beals and found Leah at the top of the hill waiting for us.  She took our hydration packs to have them refilled and we made our way down to where our crew had chairs waiting for us.   I hugged my daughter Claire who instantly recoiled as she realized how wet and sweaty I was.  I had assorted food laid out in front  of me to eat.  I ate one thing and took a few more to put in my pack.  I think Latisha was amazed at the support that was provided us.  I had an awesome pit crew and felt well loved.  I decided to take an Imodium since my stomach was still bothering me.  This is also where I got to pick up my first pacer, Melissa Stephens.  Melissa is very entertaining and always has colorful stories to tell.  As we started out of Beals, we made a pit stop at the bathrooms with no luck, then headed out again.  We ran along the levee until we hit the single track trail again.  Here, Melissa talked quite a bit, which was nice.  I remember getting on the subject of bald , hairy men and seeing that Jody Braninburg was laughing at our conversation.  Melissa scolded me when I started to walk, and mouthed off to her  when she was telling me I needed to run.  At one point, I tripped and fell to my knees.  However, it was a minor soft fall and I did not injure myself. It was only worthy of half a point.   We eventually came into the Granite Bay aid station at mile 29.45.  Out crew enveloped us and grabbed our packs to fill them up.  I ate some more at the aid station and picked up my next pacer Krissy Atkinson.

Coming into Granite Bay.
Coming out of Granite Bay.
Ugh!!!
Ugh!!!

Latisha was still with me as well.  this next stretch proved to be  a challenge.  it was going to be 9 miles until the next aid station since there was no trail access in between.  It was also getting very warm by this point.  Krissy ran ahead and pointed out all of the exposed rocks and roots on the trail.  She told runners in front of us that we would be passing and would sometimes just run ahead and wait for us if we started walking.   I always had to walk as I ate, so I would make sure to yell at her when I started walking to eat so she wouldn’t get too far ahead.   I was already hot and tired when we hit the meatgrinder.  It was a very tough section that was rocky, hilly and exposed.  Especially since we were hitting it at around mile 35 in the middle of the heat.  I was having a tough time and fueled some more and made sure to drink my pickle juice.  I also took an an extra salt pill, but still felt like I was bonking.  I ran of of water a mile before the aid station.  I was not feeling especially well as we climbed the hill into the next aid station at Horseshoe Bar which was mile 38.14.  Thankfully, if was staffed by my Trail Mix group and boy did they take care of me.  I was way overheated and feeling rough when Brad grabbed me to give me a hooker shower.  He dumped the sponge in the bucket of ice water and released it down my back.  The he repeated that over several parts of my body so that I was soaking wet.  Deanne had grabbed my pack to refill it while I was cooling down. I wandered over to the table where Nancy and Gabe were working and managed to eat a few things.  I grabbed a couple of GUs and put them in my pocket for later. Then John came over to me with a cup of ice and said he was putting it in my sports bra.  Man, that ice felt so good.  I stayed the longest in this aid station, but I felt I needed to.  I was overheated and bonking and needed the extra time to recover a bit.  We finally hit the trail again on our way to Rattlesnake Bar.  I was soaking wet, which felt great but would haunt me later when I hit the shower.

The views didn't disappoint.
The views didn’t disappoint.
Tough but beautiful.
Tough but beautiful.

Rattlesnake is a great aid station to come in to.  It’s pretty big and there are a lot of people there.  It is at mile 40.94 of the course.  I didn’t stay a long time, but long enough to get what I needed and say high to some more friends who were hanging out. I also picked up my final pacer Dana Katz.  We took off and Dana proved to be a hard ass out there, which is what I kind of needed.  She made me run when I needed to, warned me about any protruding rocks or roots and scolded me when I walked and it wasn’t a hill.  She also carried every kind of  pharmaceutical drug i might need out there.    However, I felt my body start to break down at this point.  A few times I had to slow down because I was feeling light headed.   I was excited when we came into the Dowdin’s Post aid station at mile 43.92.  I ate a few things and was thrilled when Bob Dierks came out and gave me a hug.  We almost missed the chicken broth and grabbed cups to drink as we walked out along the trail.  That chicken broth really hit the spot.  We powered on and met up with some more running friends.  Dana was passing on her drugs to other runners who were in rough shape along the course.  Martin Sengo benefited from some Ibuprofen that she handed to him.  We started going up a hill and I was having a really hard time catching my breath and started hyperventilating.  I had to use my inhaler at the top and take a break before powering on again.  We finally reached the Last Gasp aid station at mile 47.00.  My stomach was feeling better so I decided to drink some Sprite because it sounded and tasted so good.  I don’t care if my stomach doesn’t like it, I can put up with it for 3 miles.

Getting there!
Getting there!
Almost!
Almost!
Such a tease!
Such a tease!

The last 3 miles of this race are uphill.  We started to power walk to get to the end.  There were a few places that flattened out where I could run a little.  But honestly, I was pretty much mentally and physically done.  My body was not  cooperating with me and I couldn’t wait to finish.  We came upon the 3 mile sign, then 2 miles and lastly the one mile sign.  As I got closer, Dirk came down and also walk/ran with me.  I could hear the finish line at this point, but we were still going uphill and it seemed so far.  As I finally reached the top of the hill and turned the corner, Claire was there waiting for me and ran with me to the finish line.  I saw so many friends lining the way to the finish cheering me on that I fed off of their energy, which propelled me to the finish.   I told people that I would complete it in abut 12 hours.  I did it in 12 hours and 4 minutes.  I’m sure I could have completed it faster if it wasn’t so hot and I didn’t completely melt down, but I am happy with my race.   I waited at the finish for Latisha to come over.  I left her somewhere as we were going up the final three miles, but wanted to see her cross the finish line.

Heading to the finish line!
Heading to the finish line!

I felt so much emotion finishing this race. I am continually amazed at what your body can do when you keep on pushing it until you think you have nothing left.  This race was not only physically challenging, but quite mentally challenging as well.   It was a great way to usher in my 50th year!

Finally!!
Finally!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also felt blessed at seeing so many people along the course cheering for me.  It really lifted my spirits and gave me energy when I needed it.  Since I fell twice during one of the the three training runs prior to AR50, here is my current scorecard:  Trails 8.5   Runner 8

With my biggest fans.
With my biggest fans.
With Dana & Krissy.
With Dana & Krissy.

Next up: Dirty Secret Trail Run.

 

 

 

Way Too Cool Recap

Cute logo.
Cute logo.

Way Too Cool on March 5th was my first ultra marathon.  For those non-running friends of mine, an ultra is a race with a distance greater than a marathon.  A marathon is always 26.2 miles.  Way Too Cool is 31 miles and run on the trails of Cool, CA.  It is a tough course with 4850 feet of climbing. The weather was also quite a challenge.  In fact, they had the worse weather this year then in the last 20 years.  It is usually sunny and very nice weather for this race, which is great for the racers, voluteers and spectators.  This year, it was cold, rainy and very windy.  The heavy rains we have had made for very muddy trails. Trail Mix gave me a yellow fall risk bracelet to wear for the race.  My reputation precedes me yet again.

My signature bracelet.
My signature bracelet.
At the start.
At the start.
Finishing the first loop.
Finishing the first loop.

Thankfully, I was just using this race as training for AR50.  My goal was to cruise and take mental notes regarding my pacing, fueling and hydration.  The first wave started at 8:00, but I was in the second wave which started at 8:10.  The first eight miles was on the Olmsted Loop. We started at the Cool Fire Station and came back into it and our first aid station. I wanted to go out slow on this loop and try to get my pacing down.  Since it was mostly single track, I didn’t find that to be a problem. I also found myself constantly slipping and sliding on the trails that it made me work extra hard to stay upright.  No wonder my core was a bit sore the following day. We went through several creek crossings and a couple of them were pretty high.  The water came halfway up my thigh on one of them. I know I’m short, so of course it’s all relative.  However, the farther into the race I was, the better the creek crossings felt, whether the cold water was just on my feet or came up my calves.  I started out wearing a light wind proof jacket, but ditched it after a few miles along with my arm warmers.  Since I was  going to be wet the whole day, I might as well embrace it.

Creek crossing.
Creek crossing.

It pretty much rained the whole time.  Sometimes it was torrential, other times just a light mist.  We were protected at times from the wind when we had the mountain on one side of us and the shelter of the trees on the other.  But when we encountered the head wind, it was challenging. I brought some small gnocchi sprinkled in salt to eat, but had a problem getting them down.  I didn’t have this problem during my regular training runs, so I don’t know why I was having a tough time eating it now.  I ditched it for my GU since I knew I could easily get that down. I also brought some payday bars, which I love, but had a hard time getting those down during the latter miles.  I was finding that I needed fuel that I didn’t have to chew and went down easy. My strategy at this point was to just run from aid station to aid station and check out the buffet they had set up.  I saw a lot of friends working the various aid stations too, which gave me such a mental lift.

Cruising along.
Cruising along.

I drank some coke at the 2nd aid station, which tasted really great at the time.  However, I started having stomach issues about a mile later.  Miles 15 through 17 were tough on me. I thought I was going to throw up and I couldn’t get anything down without feeling nauseated.  My running friend Dana had some Tums on her and I took a couple of them.  They finally settled my stomach enough to be able to fuel again.  I also did not have this issue on any of my training runs when I drank coke.  The two things that I did enjoy a lot at the aid stations were the chicken soup and the rice krispy treats.  Both were easy to eat and went down great.  I was happy to see one or both of them at the last three aid stations.

Shortly after leaving the aid station at mile 21, I stepped wrong on a rock and rolled my left ankle pretty badly.  I was in excruciating pain which brought tears to my eyes.  I was contemplating limping back to the aid station and calling it a day.  But, I am too stubborn for that and decided to wait it out for several minutes for the pain to subside so I can get going again. It finally let up and I walked it out a bit until I felt I could run on it again.  Maybe it was the Ibuprofen I took or the fact that I knew I only had ten miles left that propelled me forward.  I just knew that I had to finish this race.  I also knew Goat Hill was coming up, so about a mile before it I took some fuel and a salt tab to prepare for the monster climb.  I actually managed to climb it better than in my training runs.  I think part of it was hearing the aid station at the top of the hill and knowing I would get to take a break and hopefully get some more soup.  At this point, I only had about a 10K left to go.

The last part of the race was run on pure adreneline.  I knew I was almost done, so I tried to push it when I felt I could, but definitely walked it on all the hills.  Once I crossed Hwy 49 I knew I only had 3 miles left to go.  I grabbed a rice krispy treat at the final aid station there and said hi to some more friends that were working it before heading out to tackle the final hills on my way back to the Cool Fire Station.  Once we got up the final hill, we had to run through exposed meadows to get back to the firestation.  Unfortunately, we had a head wind the whole way until we turned right to start heading into the finish.  It was extremely wet and muddy through this section and lots of people were slipping and falling.  In fact, I heard the winner fell coming into the finish line, so I don’t feel so bad about sliding all over the place.  However, this mud pit was lined by barbed wire, so if you did start to fall, you don’t want to grab the fencing unless you are partial to tetanous shots.  I finished in 7 hours and 17 minutes and was so happy to cross the finish line.  My friend Dana and I waited for some of our other friends to cross before heading to the car to get out of our muddy shoes and into some dry clothes and a jacket. Unfortunately, the wind made the day really cold so we didn’t hang around too long afterwards.  I was mostly looking forward to a hot shower and being horizontal.  I did not fall, but I did roll my ankle which counts for 1/2 a point.  Score  Trails: 6.5   Runner: 6.

Rounding the corner to the finish.
Rounding the corner to the finish.
The mudpit at the finish line.
The mudpit at the finish line.
Yay! We finished!!
Yay! We finished!!
My left ankle the next day.
My left ankle the next day.

What did I learn from Way Too Cool to take with me to AR50:

1. Do not drink soda at the aid stations.

2. Only fuel with food that I can get down easily without a lot of chewing.

3. Carry Tums.

4. I ran out of water in my hydration pack at about mile 25, so know when to refill.

5. Do not wear a bright pink shirt on race day or I will look like an Oompa Loompa in the race photos.

6. I am stronger than I think I am.

Truth!
Truth!

Let’s Play Catch Up

Warning: Long Long Post

I know it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been so busy getting my miles in that I forgot to take time to update my journey. So here’s a little recap of my long training runs before getting to Way Too Cool.

January 23rd: Water & Mud Everywhere.

One of our creek crossings.
One of our creek crossings.
 Wet & muddy trail.
Wet & muddy trail.

We got lots of rain in Northern CA this week, which is wonderful and much needed.  It filled up all of the creeks which made for some fun creek crossings, beautiful waterfalls and wet and muddy trails. I think we crossed about twelve creeks in all.  I found that the farther I got into my run, the better the cold water felt on my feet. Often, I would stand in the water enjoying the ice bath on my tired feet. One of the creeks we crossed was so deep that the water went halfway up my thigh. However, I’m short, so it’s all relative. There was so much mud out on the trails that there really was no way to avoid it.  I thought for sure I was going to IMG_4546get my shoe stuck a couple of times in the muck. I was happy I remembered to bring a plastic bag to put my shoes in afterwards since they were so caked in the brown pasty goo.  My absolute favorite part of the day was when we came across a large ROTC group that cheered us on and gave us high fives as we passed them. They were on their last hike before leaving for boot camp. We ran a little over 20 miles that day and had a lot of fun doing it. In hindsight, this was a good training run for the challenges at Way Too Cool. And I did not fall, not once. Score: Trail 3.5  Runner 3

January 30th: Oh Goody, Hills!!

So much fun!
So much fun!

I have a love/hate relationship with hills. I hate going up them, but I sure love going down them. I also curse a lot when I go up the hills. I always wished I could speak another language so I could curse in it.  That way I would most likely offend less people on my runs. This run was all about hill training. Starting at the American River Confluence, we ran up the Stagecoach Trail and back down. That is two miles straight up, but coming down is definitely a lot of fun.  Then we ran up to the Auburn

Heart Rock Tree.
Heart Rock Tree.

Dam Overlook and back down to the confluence. We took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up on the Rail Bed Trail, which was a little treacherous, but we eventually made it back to the correct trail and back to the confluence. Then we ran up roller coaster and up Goat Hill and made our way to the Cool Fire station and came back down again. I cursed a lot on  Goat Hill. I have a different more colorful name for it too. Did you notice that I said “up” a lot?  We did a little over 20 miles with lots and lots of climbing. I think we  climbed about 3700 feet that day. My quads were very angry with me the next morning. And the bonus was that I was able to keep upright for another week. Yay me!  Score: Trail 3.5  Runner 4

 

Bjorg
Selfie with Bjorg.

February 7th: Sterling Point and a bad ass Bjorg.

Daffodils
Wild daffodils.

Since we tortured our legs last weekend, we ran a nice and easy out and back of 18 miles from Sterling Point to give them a little break. We were blessed with great weather along the rolling hills. It was nice to get acquainted with this part of the trail since I will have to tackle it at AR50.  Spring was definitely in the air and the flowers were blooming all around us.  It did get warm when we were in exposed areas, but the beauty of the surroundings trumped any minor discomfort from the heat. As my friend Stephanie and I were heading back to the trailhead we noticed an older woman running towards us on the trail.  As shegot closer, she called over to us and asked us whatwe were training for.  We told her AR50 and she exclaimed that she trains ultra runners and had set the women’s course record for Western States in the 1980’s.  She talked our ear off for about 15 minutes giving us all kinds of advice about running ultra’s.  I finally stopped her and asked her what her name was.  She said Bjorg Austrheim-Smith. I asked her if she was running Western States this year and she said that she was pacing someone.  So of course I googled her when we got back and found out  that she was a bad ass ultra runner in the 80’s and 90’s.  She is 73 years old and I really want her to train me. I don’t think I could keep up with her though and she would definitely yell at me when she sees me going up hills. But I really need that. By the way, I did not fall on this run either.                           Score: Trail 3.5  Runner 5

Lance
Lance before the training run.

February 13th: My date with Lance Armstrong

I decided to do the training run for Western States this week.  It was an organized run that took you on the last 22 miles of Western States.  We had to get on buses that took us up somewhere far from the end and dropped us off.  I really wasn’t paying attention as to where they dropped us off.  I am usually oblivious as to where I am most of the time and tend to

Almost done!
Almost done!

get lost easily. I was on bus 1 and seated towards the back on the aisle when Lance comes strolling my way.  He drops his sunglasses on the floor right in front of me and bends over saying “excuse me” and “sorry”. I said it was all good as I watched him bend over in front of me to retrieve them. He eventually sat two rows behind me with his buddy Eric Byrnes. When we got off the bus I walked over to him and said hi and asked if I could take a picture. He was very obliging so I grabbed a few friends and we got a picture with him. Of course, that started the picture taking frenzy with Lance. I just walked away at that point. I didn’t see Lance again that day since I’m sure he was already showered and on his wy home by the time I finished. This started out to be a fun run, but I ended up rolling my ankle at mile two which was very painful and I had to walk it out since I knew I still had 20 more miles to go.  This was a very challenging course and the last 4 miles were extremely difficult. It was my hardest run before Way Too Cool. I cetainly have a new appreciation for those who have completed Western States.  That last 4 miles is completely uphill. We eventually finished and were definitely back of the packers with this group. I didn’t realize how many elite runners ran this training run.  I was in ultra awe of them.  I did not fall on this run as well, but I count a half point for the ankle roll.   So take that, trails!  Score:  Trail 4  Runner 5

February 21st: Practice for Way Too Cool

Typical waterfall.
Typical waterfall.

We ran the Way Too Cool course minus the Olmsted Loop. We tacked on extra mileage by accident  when we took a wrong turn to make it a cool 25 miles.  We had lots of climbing including tackling Goat Hill again. Everything had pretty much dried up, so there was no mud or water to deal with on the actual trail, but we had the usual water crossings. There were still a lot of waterfalls flowing as well. We made it back to the Cool Fire Station with our 25 miles and our last long run before Way Too Cool. The fueling and hydration were good and I was happy with the run.  Plus, no falls again.    Score: Trails 4  Runner 6

 

February 28th: Easy Cavitt Training Run

My trail posse.
My trail posse.

We met at Cavitt for an easy out and back for 15 miles.  The weather was great and we were getting excited for Way Too Cool. I know these trails well and felt good running on them. We did have to go through the meat grinder, but that was good practice for AR50.  At about mile 6, I tripped over a root and hit the ground hard. I scraped my left knee raw and it was bleeding quite a bit. I wiped it off and took off running again.  at about mile 7, I fell again on my left knee.  It was pretty raw

I'm startng to get used to this.
I’m starting to get used to this.

now and was throbbing.  We got to mile 8 and turned around to head back. The worst part was that the brush and branches form the trail kept rubbing and poking my wound as I would run by them.  I finished and cleaned up my wound when I got back to the vehicle I came in. Besides the falls, it was a nice taper run to prepare for Way Too Cool.  The trail wanted its pound of flesh and it took it from me this weekend.  Score: Trails 6  Runner 6          Next up, Way Too Cool!

IMG_4475

 

Donut Heaven

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I know running has a huge mental component. It’s those inside voices that either tear you down or push you through a difficult run. Well, I was having a tear down kind of a day.  At about a mile and a half in, I jumped over a puddle and landed on the side of my left foot and rolled it.  I was immediately in extreme pain and thought I was done for the day.  I took an ibuprofen and waited a few minutes for the pain to subside, then decided to walk it out.  I walked about a quarter mile until the pain had dulled and I could run again.  I kept at a slow pace and walked when I felt like it. However, my foot still hurt when I would land on a rock funny.  I know that next time I will run through the damn puddle. After 8 miles, I was happy to see my running buddies and turned around to head back with them.

The trails were gorgeous and the rain had missed us completely.  The previous storm had left lots of fresh mud on the trails though.  It was a little slippery, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  So I was running along, minding my own business when I tripped over a root and fell in a patch of dirt at about mile 11.  The good part was that the only thing I hit was the soft dirt.  I got dirty, but I was okay.  I felt myself starting to mentally check out at this point.  I was physically and mentally tired.  In fact, the only thing that kept me going those last couple of miles were the donuts that were waiting for us in the car at the trailhead. My mind kept focusing on what kind of donut I was going to eat.  I finshed my run and found myself gazing hungrily at the assorted donuts.  I settled on a chocolate bar with a custard filling and it was delicious.  Now if I can only find someone to run in front of me with a donut on a string.

Trails: 3.5     Runner: 2

My ankle/foot roll only counts for a half point since I didn’t actually fall.

 

Lots of greenery out there.
Lots of greenery out there.
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So we wouldn’t get lost.
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Mud
More mud.
More mud.

Now We’re Playing Defense….

It rained a lot last week. Granted, we needed the rain, but I knew it was going to be muddy on the trails.  However, the weather was perfect when we started our descent from the Auburn Dam Overlook or otherwise known as ADO.  It was cool and overcast and the rain wasn’t supposed to hit again until 10:00.

I made it a point to prepare in advance for my run this week.  After falling twice the previous week, I decided to hit up Sports Authority to see what defensive treasures I could find. I bought some awesome Mizuno volleyball kneepads that conformed snugly around my knee area.  I also picked up some fingerless padded gloves.  Score!  I placed the knee pads over my tights, pulled on the gloves and BAM, I was ready to go.

Knee Pads
Knee Pads
Fingerless gloves
Fingerless gloves

 

To continue with my defensive trail running strategy, I always wear bright shirts while trail running.  I figure it would be easier for the helicopter to spot your body if you are wearing something bright that will clash with the foliage.  Speaking of helicopters, I also signed up with Calstar. It is California Search, Trauma & Rescue. It is $45 for an individual and $50 annually for a family to sign up.  If they have to come out and rescue you, then you wouldn’t have to pay for the service if you are a member.  Definitely worth every penny.

Calstar Membership Cards
Calstar Membership Cards

We ran from ADO to no hands bridge, then up stagecoach trail and back. It was a little over 13.50 hilly muddy miles, but not one fall. I think my knee pads were daring the trails to take me down. I’m glad I didn’t fall, but a little part of me wanted to test my gear out. I did almost get stuck in the mud a few times though. The one thing I do like about my current Sauconey trail shoes is that they don’t let any water or mud into the shoes.  My feet were dry even though I splashed through creeks and puddles. That’s great for the winter, but can be uncomfortable in the summer when they don’t breathe and your feet overheat.   I still plan on picking up a pair of Pearl Izumi trail shoes when I get a chance.  On Sunday, I  managed a short 6 mile run on the parkway with no falls.  Score: Trail 2, Runner 2.                   I don’t count the runs on the parkway in my trail scorecard.

I leave you with this quote:

“Knock me down, it’s all in vain. I’ll get right back up on my feet again.           Hit me with you best shot.”

                     -Pat Benatar

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Heart Rock Tree

image image image image image image

 

I’m not a fast runner or a smooth runner or a pretty runner.  People would not look at me running and think, “gazelle.”  I would never run in sports bras and booty shorts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to women running in that, I just couldn’t pull it off.  I lumber along, sometimes panting heavily when I forget to take my inhaler.  I am short and stocky, with large thighs that served me well in gymnastics. I shuffle my feet too much and am easily distracted, which of course causes me to fall a lot.

Continue reading And so it begins……