Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do or do not, there is no try

Hopefully I"ll be drinking some
Firestone Walker beer post race!
It appears my quiet little Facebook Post wasn't obvious enough. I'm assuming this because I have yet
to receive a call/text from my mom about it which will surely change after this post. Let's cut to the chase, the suspense is killing me....I signed up for another 50 miler! Yep the seed was planted a few weeks ago at Bull and Bush and it germinated on Saturday as I made my first venture out on a trail run post 50k. By Monday I had convinced myself it was a good idea and by Tuesday afternoon I was entering in my credit card info and shirt size. Here are the details:

The North Face Endurance Challenge

Where: Golden Gate National Recreation Area San Francisco, CA
Length: duh..50 miles
Date: December 5, 2015

A couple big things stand out for me regarding this race. First of all, I've never done a long race (or really any race) in the fall. I tend to cram all of my running in to the spring/early summer. Because of that schedule most of my training begins in the fall and ramps up in the early spring. In the past this was largely due to the Ultimate frisbee season and needing to be sprint/frisbee focused May - October. With the series getting pushed earlier each year and my gradual fade away from competitive ultimate the fall is becoming more and more enticing for races. Also the thought of running long distance in September/October sounds so much more refreshing than June/July. I'm not used to logging a lot of miles in the summer and that's about to change quickly. I did a quick draft training plan and looks like it starts for real on Monday!

I'm planning on putting in a bit more effort with longer runs this go around. Especially working on nutrition for longer runs. While I feel successful with my food intake as of late, one good 50k isn't going to make me forget one not so good 50 miler. I really need to test out a lot of different food combos on longer runs and the only way to do that is to...test out a lot of different food combos on longer runs. I've got a couple training races I'm eyeing to help with this; the Black Squirrel Half and/or the Blue Sky Marathon in Fort Collins. I'm also trying to coordinate a 30ish mile run over Kenosha Pass into Breck with my bud Carissa.

Second standout for me is location. In looking at my running history, I've only really run races on trails I'm familiar with. Almost every race I've done I either trained or did a shorter race on the same trails. The two exceptions being Sage Burner 50k and the first time I did Quad Rock. Salida I ran the half prior to the marathon and I ran so much of the North Fork course prior to the 50 miler almost nothing was a surprise. Here I'm not only running on unfamiliar trails, but in a completely different state, at a different elevation, and a course profile much different than the mountains of Colorado.

In addition to a new terrain, I'm out of my comfort zone for support. North Fork was 40 miles outside of Denver. My lovely crew was able to load me in to a car, into a shower, and into bed without having to negotiate much else. California means a hotel or some other sort of lodging and a plane ride (+airport security). Oh yes, and a crew...40 miles is much different than a plane ride away. I checked in with some friends and got enough potential interest that I felt comfortable pulling the trigger and signing up for the race. True, convincing people to come to California in December isn't hard. However, it's not all fun and games since I need people to help support/pace/reassemble body parts at the airport. So if you are thinking it's a vacation, you've got to reevaluate.

All in all this is going to be a challenge and I'm excited for it. I'm excited to tackle another 50 miler and do it on what will be a beautiful course. I've been all talk the last few weeks about races so I'm glad I made the commitment and put a race on the calendar. Do or do not, there is no try.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You do You

Red, White, and Blue
I'm still alive. I survived the North Fork 50k (what a difference 18 fewer miles makes) and I'm feeling good. I'm eating food, drinking beer, playing frisbee; a true American Success Story.

In all honestly the 32 miles flew by. I felt like aid stations showed up much quicker than anticipated and my smile never really left my face. The 50k portion of the 50 mile course went so much better for me that every step felt exponentially better than a year ago.

I had the usual moments of tiredness, soreness, stomach upsetedness - that's to be expected on long races. I honestly felt like I was better equipped to handle these and let myself feel the feelings and move on. Speaking of feelings; what is it about races that make you feel all the feelings. ALL THE FEELINGS. Especially odd is the overwhelming feeling of my feelings leaking out from my eyes. I'm not sad either. It's more like I feel so much stuff that my body decides to just let some of it leak out through my eyes.

One mantra that I kept on a loop in my head (when it wasn't Taylor Swift) was You Do You. I wanted to keep reminding myself that the race was about me running a good race; not about beating someone up a climb or at an aid station. Nothing reminded me of that more than when I ran into Sandals. I named this guy Sandals because he was wearing sandals. He was also carrying absolutely no water. I get the sandal thing, once Born to Run came out a lot of people jumped on that bandwagon, but no water? Personally I like my shoes and have no interest in barefoot running. I kick a lot of roots and rocks on accident and my toes already hate me from ultimate cleats I don't need to aggravate the situation. Initially I was annoyed that Sandals was ahead of me. But then I thought, who cares. He's doing his thing, I hope he finishes, let me just do me. He did finish, after a wrong turn at some point near the end. I passed him on the last climb and I'm guessing he regretted not having water on this hot, sweltering, course. I did offer him some of mine when I passed him and he refused.

Where's my sponsorship BLL?
I met some amazing people during the race who also helped keep You Do You in my head. In the middle of the race I ran with two lovely ladies named Randy and Claire. It was Claire's first ultra and Randy was a 70+ badass woman who has many ultras to her name. The three of us trudged up the hill on Tramway to the Shingemill Aid Station and joked that there was no way the high today was "low 70's". I ended up losing Claire at the last aid station (more on that later), but I ran with Randy for awhile after she had some hamstring/quad issues. We talked about running and her worry that her husband (an young 76) would try and convince her not to do a back packing trip if she didn't finish this race with a good time. Randy and I hung out at the final aid station for a bit and she took off while I continued to goof around. I caught her in the last mile and we ran into the finish together.

I drank some weird beer. I know, past stomach issues + weird beer = disaster. Quite the opposite. Turns out past stomach issues + Bud Light Lime + tequila shot + weird beer = a really fun and slightly tipsy 3ish miles to the finish. No I wouldn't say that you should make it a habit of running ultra marathons while drinking (or drunk). I only managed about half of that BLL. Ryan did give me a shot of tequila mixed with lime juice which I drank. I also tried some Cucumber/Mint/Kale Sour beer from ODD13 brewing. That do you...I don't think I'll drink it again. Out of everything I consumed that day the only thing I really remember burping is that beer the first mile out of that aid station. Oof... Food wise I made the great decision to start eating a lot early on. Not a lot at one time, but I started taking in calories from the get go. I think that made a big difference for the latter part of the race. I had some nausea around mile 18 - 22 and was able to kick it by the time I got to the Buff Creek Aid station. I think my nausea was due to too much coke. Having a good caloric base for my body to feed on helped tremendously at the end of the race.

Overall I'm really pleased with my race. I was hoping for under 7hrs. I knew I wouldn't make that cut off once I got to the last pass through at the Buff Creek aid station, so I just decided to have fun. I could have pushed it and made it pretty close to 7 hours, instead I hung out with Ryan and his awesome aid station crew for 20ish minutes and finished 7:34. Being in such a different place, mentally and physically, from the year before was the highlight for me. Being able to run the entire last section of the race was awesome and coming into the finish with a lot of cheering people made my day! I can't gush enough about how great this race is, how great of a job Janice does organizing, and how awesome all the volunteers are. They even had pickles at all the aid stations! (Side note, frozen pickles loose their structural integrity).

I'm gearing up for something this fall, not sure what the race will be but I'm shooting for a 50. I think it's about time I take on that beast again.