Monthly Archives: March 2016

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!

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