Friday, July 27, 2007

When it all clicks

There are days like yesterday when at least for a minute you have a glimmer of "this is how its suppose to be/feel like" or moreso "this is what I have been working towards". That meaning, that yesterday just 5 days after probably the most taxing effort I have made in a race (or equal to Mad City), I was able to go for a brilliant 10 mile run, the day after doing a nice easy 8 miler. I am trying not to rush back into it at all and will ease my way into the weekend, but there was no residual soreness or tiredness from the race. I really feel like my training and nutrition has gotten me to this place where the idea of racing 4 times in 2 months seems more and more realistic and that I will be able to put in good efforts at each race.

It is a nice feeling to say the least!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Withdrawls already!

Its been just two days and I am already having withdrawl from my race. I mean, I just wish I was still out there running along those beautiful ridges, experiencing that. It was truly an awesome event, great people, great support. The altitude was a welcome and tough challenge. The elevation gains and loses were a beautiful test and the competition was fierce. If you want a glimpse of the course check out this link: http://www.tahoerimtrail.org/TRTVideo/trtshowForInternet.html

Truly one of the best racing experiences to date! I can't wait to get up to Seattle to be able to experience similar courses, terrain and beautiful scenery! Life is good. And better yet, my AMS (acute mountain sickness) i.e. headache and nausea from altitude have subsided and even better than that, my legs feel awesome!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Race week

Finally, after about two months I am all set to race again. A week ago Sunday I did my final long run on the Headlands course again and bested my previous weeks run by 17/secs per mile. Sweet. Needlesstosay, I was able to tuck into my taper week comfortably. I ran about 60 miles last week, including a "short" long run on Tam of 14 miles.

There of course were the usual taper week doubts and heavy legs, but I am starting to recognize the "symptoms" and just let it go. I am very excited for Saturday because I am excited for the challenge of 1) 50 miles on trail which I haven't done & 2) altitude. Here is where I get to have another real test. But I think every race I run is a major test. Every course & distance has something new to challenge with. I look forward to that hungrily.

It was a great week though. I had a major breakthrough in my own consciousness a bit more than a week ago that translates roughly to: I am moving back to Seattle. It is a long and complicated journey that has allowed me to arrive at this decision and I can say, I couldn't be more thrilled. It is much to much to explain here, for now, but it is the most positive, amazing, exciting thing for me. I cannot wait to hit the trails in the Cascades and Olympics! I cannot wait to meet up and run with some of the fantastic runners from Seattle Running Company (whose team I am hoping to join). I am just floating in the moment and it is such a nice feeling...

So as for the rest of this week pre-race? Eat, sleep, run, relax, and enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

One for the money, two for the show

Three to get ready and four, I'll go (hopefully).

That is, times that I have run the majority of the Headlands 50k course (3 times, with connecting from Sausalito). The fourth time will be race day in just a few short weeks. Time number three?

Today. And what a day it was. I managed to knock off 17 seconds/mile on my pace for the course. Granted a little of that has to do with the alternate route I took back up to Morning Sun (Mancello instead of Old Springs/Miwok). Penny was not to keen on going up the later so I was a sport, especially since she was nice enough to meet me at Pantoll Ranger station and run the second half with me. That said, my time on the actual bits of the course were fast and strong. I made it up to Pantoll more than 5 minutes faster than last week and that is saying something considering up to Pantoll is Cardiac Hill.

Time: 5:07:10
Distance: 31.56 miles
Pace: 9:44/mile
Ascent: 7625
Descent: 7610
Feeling: centered, peaceful (and giddy as all get out)

I was motivated to get out today for various reasons, among others knowing that this is the last weekend I have to get in a good long run before I launch into a monster two months of racing. On the 21st of July, I run TRT 50 and will be racing every two weeks after that for a while (TRT 50m, Skyline 50k, Headlands 50k, World Cup 100k). Whew. And Headlands, I am running the day after our culinary showcase which means I will probably be working 16 hour day for the 3 day preceding the race, go to bed late the night before the race and be tired as hell. So that should make it an adventure at least, which is why I pushed to do it back to back weekends. It is not a forgiving course. I was also motivated by sheer joy and personal revelation. This week (starting with last weeks long run) I had a very profound set of evolutions in my inner space and I can describe it this way: bliss, home, peace. Thus, waking up this morning (even after a very long week including a few mornings of waking up at 3am!) was not a problem and I practically skipped my way down the trails I was so giddy. The fog that literally covered only the course (everywhere else in the North Bay was pretty lovely) could not dampen my spirits. I thrashed the hills and floated down. There was nothing in each moment but the sheer joy of being able to do what I love so dearly. All the mileage counts, race strategies, purpose, function just floated off in the ether. I just was. And how nice is that.

Now, I am into a nice two week taper which I shall commence in true style with a yoga session and then a nice long massage, with my favourite philosopher! Yeah for life, eh?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Up and Up

I am musing on a number and I can't help feel quite pleased with myself. That number would be 108.4. That would be 108.4 miles. After having a few recovery type weeks and a few near brushes with breaking into the 100s before that, I finally did it. And the best part is, as I concluded my 32.5 mile, 8300 foot elevation gain run today I was actually feeling BETTER than I did at the beginning of the week. I have put together a great week, despite my poison oak getting worse from Sunday-Thursday.

I had gotten a prescription called in for a cream that should have helped, but apparently it was a very low dose which didn't do anything. And so as the days passed I got more and more worries as the infection spread and new locations popped up. Let me tell you, it is not comfortable at all to run with legs that are covered in a poison oak infection! But I pressed on in my running and was able to get in 12 miles (Monday), 10 miles (Tuesday), 14 miles (Wednesday) and then I freaked out on Thursday because the infection had reached that level where I decided to actually go see the dr. I went to see the doctor on Thursday afternoon and she looked at my legs and said, "Yikes!" and then proceed to tell me as she looked at the tube of cream I had been prescribed, "yeah this isn't going to do jack for you" and tossed it (literally) to the side. But there was in fact hope and she said that while it looked bad that it usually goes in a 21 day cycle and that she could prescribe a stronger cream and gave me the option for a oral medication as well. I accepted though I usually don't like to take medications, but I was at that point. She also gave me directions to get and OTC astringent and also buy Aveno Oatmeal Bath. Sweet relief! She told me I could also wrap up my legs when I ran to keep them dry and protected and well, not itchy. I was able to get 5 miles in on Thursday, but more importantly have my fears put to rest.

I am happy to report that they are healing well. But more importantly that the last three days have been incredibly awesome and satisfying runs. On Friday, I got in 21 miles (10/11 split with the second run including a Crossfit workout mid-run of 100 pullups, 100 pushups and 100 squats). Saturday, I got in 14 miles.

And then there was today. I am feeling very satisfied right now. I got up early (5am) and ate my prerun meal and then went back to bed for a bit to let myself digest for a while. A few times I haven't given myself the proper window for digestion and ended up feeling not so great at the beginning of my run. I got up and hit the trail about 9am, with the additional thought that it would be good to get in some warm weather running before TRT 50. I headed up from Sausalito up what I have dubbed the "demoralizer" which is Sausalito Blvd to Morning Sun Stairs which is a good 1500 feet of climbing straight from the start if not more...you run uphill for 2.2 miles. I then headed down Bobcat where I saw a few coyotes and then up Miwok which is an ass whopping for real. I decided to follow the Headlands 50k course to get in some practice for the 50k National Championships in August. I figure it is good to practice the course after such a heavy training week because I will in fact be racing Headlands the day after my Culinary Showcase at Bauman which is going to be extremely exhausting. It is a brutal course with something like 8,000 elevation gain. And I love it! I wove my way way up to Pantoll which I used as my aid station and refilled the bottles and took a bit of a break. I did not do the Matt Davis/ Steep Ravine Part of Headlands which cuts off about 5-6 miles from the course, but the mileage was made up through how I connected on the front and back end to the pertinent parts of the course. I was feeling excellent when I arrived at Pantoll! The weather was beautiful, my Chia was still doing a good job keeping my hydrated and my blood sugar regulated. At the halfway point, I had drank two bottles and eaten one Larabar. I ate another Larabar at Pantoll, took my caffeine and endurolytes and skipped off back down the trail to the harder section of the run. Simply put, I was having a blast! I wove my way down the Heather Cut Off and the up Coastal from Muir Beach. I was running up Coastal and seeing the first people I had seen in a while I promptly got my shoe laces tangled somehow (they are the Salamon quick tying kind) and fell flat on my face running up hill and splattering half of the contents of my waterbottle all over the trail and myself. Not good... I was not trying to get dehydrated! But I knew there was a water spigot at the stables at the bottom of Old Mill which Paul had filled up at twice when we did the Headlands 100 course together.

It is truly amazing how different this run was in the beautiful clear warm weather. When Paul and I had been running together it had been very foggy and cool and gray. Today I could see forever. The ocean extending on one side, the City and Peninsula beyond, I could even see far into the East bay and North as well. Beautiful! I made it up Coastal from Pirates Cove and was pretty pleased that my legs were still rock and rolling! I felt great as I headed back up Miwok. I tore down the path to the stables. The parking lot by the stables was full of the usual crowd of 10,000 tourists all going for a "hike" to Tennessee Valley. Ok, not 10,000 but every weekend warrior and their grandmother. I eagerly filled up my water bottles, checked my Garmin to see how far I had gone (27 miles at that point in well under 5 hours) and chugged a few sips of water. I was surprisingly still feeling stable on the bloodsugar side so I didn't eat anything else (Chia is amazing, I am telling you....love love love it). Just as I took another swig of the water (which mind you, Paul had drank 4 waterbottles full of when we had run together), I saw a notice that it was in fact non-potable water! Um, oops. That could be dodgey. I had to make a decision, drink more and risk it, or tempt dehydration and pour the bottles out. I estimated I had between 5-6 miles til home (4 of which is uphill). Even though I was sweating alot and the sun was warm, I decided that even though Paul had been fine with it, that I just didn't really want to take the chance. So I dumped the bottles (being a smart girl, since it would be incredibly dumb to carry two heavy bottles of water I can't even drink!) and headed back up Old Mill. I connected with Miwok (what a grunt!) and powered to the top. What a feeling to crest that climb. I have a 360 view on a perfectly clear day of everything, even better than the aforementioned view from Coastal (as I was now on a higher point). I could not wipe the grin off my face or dilute my joy from feeling so good. My legs were showing no signs of having surpassed the 100 mile marker for the week (which I have never done!) I wove my way home, smiling, singing and laughing to myself. It was a perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better day really. My pace was excellent 10:01min/mile, and I arrived back my place in 5:24 feeling quite satisfied. I had the familiar choking up I get when I have a beautiful transcendent "this is why I do what I do" kind of day, but I didn't cry (this time haha). I happily tucked into a giant ice cold glass of water, a naked juice Superfood with added Hemp Protein and a Greens & Whey bar to begin the recovery effort, all while kicking back on the deck and enjoying being done! Even my ice bath was enjoyable! And I am happy to say that my poison oak is healing well and responded well to the wrapping I did for this run (which kept it clean, dry and happy). Granted I have really funny tan lines now!

It was a great day and I am excited to have had such a good training run 3 weeks before my next big race. Though I am not over-confident or even marginally confident about the race (Tahoe Rim Trail) because of its altitude, this week and this training run and this week have shown me that I am in fact in full form and that my strategies to rest/recovery in the previous week and then hit it hard this week have in fact worked out better than I even expected! Yeah.

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