Friday, January 4, 2013

My City By the Bay

Yes yes yes, it has been a long time since I've posted. Now I'm back with a race report.
2012 was a year I focused on high points and less on running/racing, other than to get into shape for Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier. We had bad weather on both and summited neither. Both were great experiences and I learned a lot, but I was left with a pang of disappointment from having to turn around twice. Over Christmas, we did manage to salvage the high pointing year by getting to the high point of MS.
Since Rainer in Sept, I ran a few trail races which went fairly well. Mid Oct. I did a trail half where I was out run in the last 200m and took 3rd in my AG. I did a Halloween race on Halloween which was fun, but in the dark. I got off course and ran about 2 extra miles which cost me a few places in the standings. Oh well.
Early Dec. I ran the Coyote Ridge 20 miler. I had wanted to run this last year but didn't feel I was ready so I ran the 10. It's a challenging but beautiful course. I set a sub 4 hour goal which I met with a 3:51:23, good enough for 3rd in my AG, 7th woman. Totally happy with that.
Coyote was a test for the New Years Day 6 hour run. Last year, Loren and I volunteered and had a lot of fun. I got the idea in my head that perhaps I'd try it. I've never had much interest in running ultras (FYI, I still don't) but I thought a timed event would be an interesting challenge. No pressure on distance, if things suck, you just stop. I wanted to see how things went on the 20 miler before signing up. I signed up shortly after.
I had been training as if I was going to do it and I used a modified Pfitz 12/55 plan (for those not familiar, it's a 12 week plan peaking at a 55 mile week). I cut out almost all the speed work and my peak milage was around 48 miles. I've trained for several marathons using this plan before and it's worked well for me. My longest run was still going to be 20 miles, which I did twice.  Although I didn't do speed work, I did hills. Lots of hills. I don't have much of a choice where I live but I've come to really like them and I think they've made me very strong.
The New Year's One Day is put on by Coast Trail Runs. All of the trail racing I've done here in CA has been put on by them. They do great events. There are 3 events of the 1 day: 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours. When people tell me I'm crazy for the 6 hours, I point out the 12 and 24 hour options. I look totally sane. The format is complete as many laps of the 1.061 mile loop as you can in the time given. You must complete the whole loop for it to count.
Based on last year's race, I set a goal of 30 miles which is 29 laps (every 16 laps gives you another miles with the .061). Loren thought I'd do 32 miles.
Up until race day, the longest I'd run was 26.2 miles, a marathon. I've done that over a dozen times but as anyone who's every run one knows, things get interesting after 20 miles. I wasn't sure how I'd be after 26 miles. Of course, no pressure to even make it that far if I wasn't feeling it.
Loren and my running sisterwife Barb came to volunteer at the event and both offered to run some with me. A few things I was keeping in mind before starting was how to fuel and not to go out too fast. I didn't want to have 6 hours of gels so Loren made some risotto balls with cheese and balsamic vinegar. They were awesome.
The 6 hour folks lined up at 6pm, there were about 60 of us, the largest of the 3 races. The 12 and 24 hour people were already out on the course.
Just as the gun went off for the 6 hour.
At the start/finish area, there's a huge clock, timing mat, and monitor. Each time I crossed the mat, my name, lap, lap time would pop up on the monitor. Very helpful since after 10 laps I was loosing count. I wore a watch and had the timer just running which did get helpful later in the race as I got tired. I would stop into the rest area every 3-4 laps. I never stopped for very long, usually I would let Loren know I'd be coming in the next lap and what I wanted and I would grab and go or stop very briefly. After about 2-2.5 hours, I put my ipod on for a while. Normally, I never race with music. This is a bit of an exception. It's laps. In the dark.  It's not like I'm missing any great nature or scenery. The music helped, it gave me a little giddy up.
Not to say there weren't some beautiful things to be seen. The Golden Gate bridge is always beautiful. It was a little cloudy when we started but as the night went on, it cleared up. The moon came up in very dramatic fashion. It was low and huge for a long time over the Bay and was stunning.  A short time later, someone launched flaming lanterns over the Bay. It was very surreal in my getting more tired by the lap stage. They looked like giant fire flies, one thing I miss from the East Coast. They lifted up into the sky and just burned out.
As I came around on my 19th lap (mile 20) I was feeling low. My hips hurt from all the flat and the turns. 20 miles is the traditional wall and I was feeling it. I had had 2-3 rice balls, 1-2 gels, 2 small cups of soda, some sports drink, and water up to this point. When I came into the aid station Loren said I looked very sad. I was just having a bit of a moment. I hadn't done any walking and she suggested I walk a bit to break things up. I asked Barb to join me on my next lap around. 
Lap 20 and Barb jumped in. I was taking walk breaks for short stretches after the start/finish area. I picked a street sign to walk to then started running again. I'd say it was less than a quarter mile. I'd have some laps where I'd run the whole way through.  I got over the wall and was feeling better.
Before the race started, I had a couple of things in mind. 1. I wanted to run 30 miles. 2. If I came around the staging area and there was 20 minutes or so to go in the allotted time, I would go another lap. Of course, these are easy deals to make before the race even starts.
As the laps ticked off, I started doing math (all runners know this is never a good idea late in a long race). I was pretty sure I had enough time to get my 29 laps in. 
When I came around on lap 26 or so, my name popped up in red. Somewhere I got the idea this meant I was in the lead (it didn't, it meant my timing transponder was weak) but I started running like I was in the lead. With so many people on the course doing different times and the darkness, it's pretty impossible to know who's in my division or what lap people are on. 
I debated my 29 lap idea. 
Barb asked about the red and when I realized I wasn't (for sure) in the lead and really had know idea where I stood, I then decided yup, I can get 29 laps in and then I'm finished. I don't care how much time is on the clock or where I am or anything like that. 29 and done.
I felt good about that, my 30 mile goal complete.
When I finished lap 29, there was about 16 minutes left. I went through the timing map and over to the aid station and told Loren I had hit 29 laps and I was done. She looked at me like I had just sprouted another head. 
She was like, oh come on. One more. You have plenty of time. One more. 
Damn it. 
Off for one more I went. And Barb came with me. 
When I finished my 30th lap, my watch said 5:55. Five minutes to spare. 
30 laps, 31.83 miles. I think Loren wanted me to do that last lap so she could be right about me running 32 miles. 
I was tired. My legs weighed at least 200lbs each. And I felt great. 
We hung around for the awards, the 12 hour folks finished with us at midnight, and the 24 hour folks were still out there. 
I was 2nd woman (winner did 32 laps) 11th over all (out of 62) and won my age group. Not bad, not bad at all.
But I'm sticking to shorter races thank you very much.
Lap splits. Each lap=1.061 miles.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain That is pouring like an avalanche, coming down the mountain

A different kind of report folks! Here is the story of my no summit of Mt Hood, the highest point of OR. We planned this trip a few years ago when the High Pointers  were having their annual convention. We had never been to a convention and figured we'd be able to hook up with other people wanting to climb. One member, Dave, took charge of organizing people who wanted to climb and evaluating fitness and skills and pairing people up. He deemed us both fit and since Loren has experience climbing mountains like this, pretty good to go. I opted to take a deep snow class since climbing on glaciers is new to me.
We arrived in Portland on Tues. and spent a few days relaxing and seeing old friends. The weather in Portland was awesome. On Thurs. morning, the day we headed to the mountain, it started raining. It was snowing at Hood. We got their very early for my 8AM snow class. The lodge was full of kids there for ski camp and climbers who had just come down looking weary. It was wet and cold and the wind was blowing.
Just before 8, Dave found me and introduced himself. Our plan was initially going to be take class, ride ski lift to the top, camp, go for summit in the wee hours of Friday morning.  With the weather conditions, that got scratched. Dave managed to get a 3AM sno-cat for Sunday morning. We were game. Since no one really got to climb all week, seats on the cat were at a premium. This was going to be the first real break in the weather. Of course it was also right after the convention dinner but none of us really cared about that.
At 8, I met John, the guide who would be teaching my snow class. The class is usually about 4 hours long. Since no one was climbing that night, he kept us out for 6 hours. 6 hours in the snow, rain, wind, cold. It was pretty awesome. We worked on footwork, lots of footwork. Believe it or not, there are specific ways to walk in the snow, esp. when you're wearing big mountaineering boots. Then we worked on using crampons, ice axes, harnesses, roping up, going up roped, coming down roped, how to fall and stop yourself with your ax, how to do that upside down, backwards, left handed, right handed, all kinds of things.
Since we had to change our climbing plans, we had to change a lot of plans. We now had a few days to spend at the mountain. Oh and no place to stay the night we were to camp. We got a couple of bunks in the Mazama Lodge and spent a lot of time lingering at the host hotel, swapping stories, looking at the weather, and planning. We spent one free afternoon driving out to Bagby Hotsprings (BYOweed/guitar). We went to the club happy hour and hung out with Mark and Melissa, Mark would be our rope leader on the climb. We went to a BBQ Mazamas hosted for the club. Well, the BBQ actually got snowed out so it was more like dinner with everyone packed into the lodge, swapping stories. Then Saturday evening we went to the banquet at the Timberline Lodge. We knew we wouldn't be staying for the whole thing as we had a 1:45AM wake up call.
There were about 75 people who came hoping to climb that week. By the time of the banquet, 5 had summited. Hood is not known to be a hard mountain, as far as this kind of climbing goes, but there are somethings you can't do anything about and weather is one of them. The guy sitting in front of me got 150 FEET from the summit and had to turn around.
During the banquet, one of the speakers spoke about how many people came to climb and how few had success on this trip. He commented about watching everyone huddle together to plan, change plans, watch the weather, talk about options. He said this is what makes people mountaineers, these details. That stuck with me. With marathoning, there's always (for me) obsessive weather watching. Same for this, though the difference is with running, 99% of the time I'm still going to go out and run no matter what the weather says. That doesn't hold true for climbing. It's just not possible. I've been asked several times if that's disappointing. It's not really. There might be a small pang but the danger level is just too high. Most of those days, for my skill level, it's just not even a possibility and there is absolutely nothing I can do about that.
Dave then stood up and announced there were 24 people attempting that night. A huge cheer went up across the room. These people get it. Most of them have gone up that mountain. There was a very high number of people who have completed 48/49/50 states.  Around 8:45PM, Loren and I snuck out to get some sleep. As we tip toed out of the room, whispers of "good luck!" came our way.
We had spent the afternoon getting all our gear sorted so we could go right to bed and get up all ready to go. Alarms were set for 1:45, we would pick up gave and his nephew and head up to the mountain for our 3AM start.
When we got to the mountain, it was cold and the wind was blowing pretty hard. We all geared up, signed in, and headed toward the Cat. A group had just come down who had gone up around midnight, they said conditions were bad even pretty low, around 9000'. We were going up anyway. We knew there was a good chance of no summit but if nothing else, this would be good experience.
Our group of 12 climbed into the Cat and rode up the hill. It was pitch black and very windy. I was a bit nervous not knowing what to expect. After about 30 minutes, the cat stopped. We all poured out. The wind was howling and it was cold and dark. Everyone made last minutes adjustments and off we went. All I could see was the foot steps directly in front of me, and barely. The wind was doing a good job of blowing snow over them quickly. There were no hints of the 40 or so people who had gone up before us.
After about an hour and a half, the sky started getting light from the sunrise. This was the first time all week we had seen Mt. Hood, and we were climbing up it. It was beautiful. Moments when the wind stopped were peaceful and quiet. Then it would howl and again and I would just hunker down, leaning on my trekking poles and brace myself until it stopped.
We started meeting groups who were coming down. No one summited. At a steep section higher up, the snow was unstable and ripe for an avalanche, people were turning around. We kept going up, knowing we were most likely going to turn around.
At about 10200' we stopped to discuss options. No one we had met that day had summited. Some groups went about 400' or so feet higher before turning around. This is the point in the climb where crampons go on and rope is used. Some people stayed for the experience, most of us turned around. I don't regret turning around (I might be singing a different tune if people hit the summit). I had a great morning, it was a lovely day, and I gained some good experience. The walk down the mountain was nice.
We passed one more big group going up and passed on information we had to them. I think they went a little higher than I did and then also turned around.
Once back at the Lodge, we went inside to watch people climbing. 2 very experienced guys did summit, but they were in a serious different league.
All in all, I had a really good time and look forward to doing it again. Hood has a very short climbing season so it won't be until next year. Right now Loren and I are formulating our plans to climb Rainier in August. Stay tuned!

EDIT: I want to add this link. A solo climber fell 1000' and died on Hood early this morning. He was very close to where we turned around. It is very sobering. I knew it was the right decision to turn around when we did. I hate reading stories like this. It does, however, drive home the point that this is not to be taken lightly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Her dirty paws and furry coat, She ran down the forest slope.

This should really be called what not to do when you're not in shape to run a half marathon (on trails no less) and have a turned ankle that just won't get better.
Loren and I (and Barb!) signed up for Horseshoe Lake months ago.  Since then, Barb came down with a stress fracture, I tripped over a street sign in front of my house badly turning my ankle, and Loren stuck with her usual training plan: running with the dog, going long when I tell her to, and riding the 40+ miles to work once a week. In short, not good training conditions for anyone.
I really hemmed and hawed in my head about even running. While my ankle did not hurt to run on, it would ache after, all up my leg. So I would tape it, and wear a sleeve, and try off and on running with a brace. Most of my runs were short, 3-5 miles. This, of course, is not enough to run a half on.
Last week I figured I should try and go longer than that, but I didn't want to do it in my hilly neighborhood. I went and ran 8 flat on the Embarcadero. For this run, I KT taped by ankle ( using the method for peroneal tendonitis), wore an ankle brace, and a compression sleeve. This is ridiculous. I miss my NYC physical therapist. I had no pain running and a wee bit of soreness post run but I figured this was a green light. It feels the best when I run with that silly ankle brace, so there you have it: run with the brace for now.
Still, I spent the week lamenting. My biggest concern really is not running, it's being able to climb Mount Hood in early June. Loren and I are heading up there for a summit attempt with Highpointers. This coincides with the annual convention (or as they say konvention).  Yes, there is a club. Yes they have a convention. Yes this is terribly nerdy, to the point where Loren is almost embarrassed. I think it's kinda cool. We're gonna meet some crazy ass people who, like it or not, are kinda like us. Plus, we're going to climb Hood! This will be my first glacial peak so I'm really excited and don't want to risk hurting myself. My mind the last few weeks has been very much like it is when marathon tapering. Um. Yea.
Part of the reason we've been running all these trail runs is to stay in shape for the climb. It's also a ton of fun. As you can see, the last month or so has been a bit of a mess, so I went in to this with low expectations. Very low. Like, finish, maybe, most importantly, not get hurt.
The field was kept very small due to lots of single track on the course. There was a 5 miler (different course) half, full, and 50K. I'd say less than 200 for all distances with the half being the largest. As far as elevation, it gained 1800' which considering some of the other Coastal races we've done, it's not bad. (Click here for elevation chart).
There was one point on the out portion that was simply not runnable. It was like a straight up wall. The rest, not so bad. The bummer for me was my being cautious on the downs. I'm usually a really good, aggressive downhiller. I wanted to be careful not to turn or twist anything so I backed off.  That was the smart thing to do but a little frustrating, esp. in the last few miles as I was stalking a woman very close in front of me who I just could not catch.
The wall we had to run up was no picnic coming back down either. Lots of roots and rocks and oh so steep.
My legs started getting heavy and tired by mile 8. Ooops.
I was trading places with a couple who was running the full and we were chatting. I said I was doing the half but was really only in shape for about 8. The guy said well, I'm doing the full and am really only in shape for a half.
Close behind them were 2 women running together who I really didn't want to catch me. I could see they had gained a lot on me since the turn around. I just didn't have a lot in the tank to try and pull away from them. They did pass me, but one of them was struggling so I was able to pass back and stay ahead. That got me through to the end. I was never able to pass the woman who was close ahead of me, but I was able to hold them off for good.
As I approached the finish, the couple doing the full were on their way back and there were high fives all around.
I ran through the finish to see Loren, Barb, and Pete all waiting.  I didn't feel terrible, I didn't hurt myself, and no one soiled themselves so I'd say it was a success.
Finish time: 2:10:56
Over all: 17/97
Women: 7/56
Age Group 2/6
Loren was 7th OA, 2nd woman, and 1st AG.
No more big runs until post Hood! I of course will update about that when we get back!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm swimming, I'm flying, I'm dying

Welcome to another installment of Audra Learns the Trails of the Bay Area by Running Trail Races. On this week's adventure, we take on the Berkeley Hills by running the Grizzly Peak Trail Half. Your distance may vary, it was actually 12.8 miles which proved to me more than enough. Let's start with the course profile shall we?

There were 5 distance for this race: 10k, half, 30k, marathon, 50k. Usually with so many distances, there will be different start times. The field for this race was kept pretty small (and sold out) so we all started together.
I thought the first mile would be pretty bad but it wasn't. I'm still learning how to pace myself at the start of these races. I'd say almost all of them start with an uphill and I don't do any warm up. Ok, this time I did: a sprint from the bathroom to the starting line, but that doesn't really count. I'm trying to just ease myself into a comfortable pace to start, as comfortable as one can be while gaining 600' in the first mile.
I'm had some butt/high hamstring twinginess the past few weeks so I told myself I wasn't going to run hard this week. Good luck with that! Well, the course certainly helped slow me down. For 1, there's a lot of up and down, it was tough to find any kind of rhythm. It was also rocky, like East Coast rocky so watching your footing was key. I was cruising down hill on a very gutted, rocky section and just kept thinking someone is going to seriously eat it here (I've seen 1 bloody photo and heard reports of 1 dislocated finger). We've also had some rain in the last week or so so there were muddy sections. It's funny to see people try and tip toe around mud and puddles. I try to pick the best line so I don't get stuck but I don't really worry about getting dirty, I'll run right through if that's the best way. A real down side to this mud is the mud drying, leaving fossils of foot prints, hoof prints, bike tire tracks and who knows what else to navigate. I imagine if the trail had been in better conditions I would have been a few minutes faster. But that's what you get with trails, you just never know how things are going to be out there and it has a huge impact on the outcome.
For most of this race, I did have others around me. I wasn't sure who was running what distance and of course, even when I say I'm not going to "race" I start keeping track of the women around me. On the very steep down hill, I lost 3 of them. Only 1 came back to me (though in the last mile, 2 would come FLYING by me, though only 1 of them was racing my distance). Some of these folks out there doing the longer distance stuff are no joke: they really MOVE.
At about the half way point, we were rewarded for suffering up the steep inclines with the most amazing view. We came to a clearing and there in front of us was the Bay Bridge, all of San Francisco, the Golden Gate, Marin, and Mt Tam. I'm so glad it was a clear day, it's an amazing sight. The guy in front of me peeled off to take a picture.
After a lovely almost 2 miles of downhill came what I was calling in my head The March to the Gulag. We had run down this steep rocky section. It didn't realize I'd be running back up it (mile 8.5-9.5). It really wasn't runnable, too steep and so rocky. There was just a line of us walking up it. The silver lining to this is I know it's the last real hill, and the rest of the course is downhill. I can't recall the last time I had such a slow mile. It took me over 18 minutes (my fastest mile of the race was just about 8 minutes). Trail running=coming to terms with sometimes having to walk.
So before I get to the end of this tail, I'm going to take a time of you tell you about one of my co-competitors. This is the 2nd time I've encountered a guy like this in a race. I passed him around mile 10 (he did pass me back). I took one look at him and winced at the thought of what it was going to feel like when he took a shower. He was wearing cotton underwear under nylon shorts, cotton socks, Vans (hey props to you dude if you can run 13 miles in Vans), no shirt, and was carrying one of those cheap backpacks with strings for straps. Sir, that is a one way ticket to Chafe City.
Now back to our regularly scheduled misery:
I hit the last water station and know there's about 1.7 miles to go. I can hear a couple of women coming up behind me and peak back, I don't want to be passed this late. Well, 2 come FLYING by me. I catch a number of 1, she's not in my race so I'm not worried. The other one is and there is no way I'm catching her. Then I notice my shoe coming untied. I'm not stopping to tie it and just hope I don't trip in the last half mile. Stupid laces.
I don't trip and no one else comes around me.
I finished in 2:22:38 ( a blistering 11:09 pace)
Loren is at the finish with Barb who couldn't run. I ask Loren how she did and she hold up her first over all medal, her 2nd win of the year (she was also 6th over all and will just say a woman doing the marathon was ahead of her as well as someone who was a bandit but she was still first in the half).
I was 2nd in my age group (behind Loren of course), 9th woman (out of 45), and 26th over all (out of 89).
Steep Ravine is still the hardest one of these races I've done, but I'd put this at 2nd for sure.
Yesterday I wasn't too sore. My butt/hammy feel fine. I have some quad soreness and some soreness along the outside of my left calf. I rolled my ankle a bit during the race which is what's causing it, but it's just sore. As is my big toe, ouch.
Coast Trail Runs who puts on these races does something called the Trail Blazer awards, it's a points standing for their races over the course of the year. As of mid March, Loren was leading in the half distance as well as in our age group, I'm 3rd in our age group. I think I'm 23rd or something over all. All of this is of course based on who shows up!
Next race is in Palo Alto in Mid May. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

There's a feeling I get when I look to the West

Thank you for tuning in for another installment of trail racing reports. This week is brought to you by Coastal Trail Run's Montara Mountain Half Marathon. A beautiful course covering 13.1 miles and climbing 2900' in the lovely coastal town of Pacifica, CA (that link will take you to the elevation profile, take a look!).
A few things since January's Steep Ravine race:
First, that race beat me up. Man that was hard. It make me realize I have some work to do and not just with my running. I have some weak spots. In early Feb. Loren and I started on a strength routine based on the Iron Strength work out. It really focuses on getting a stronger ass, something runners tend to lack. Now, this thing starts out with like 5 minute intervals of things. Um. No. We cut everything do like 2 minutes, and ya know what? I was still sore as hell the next day. It's getting better and I'm upping the times of the intervals but it's still a workout. In this transition to strength training, I've cut down on my milage. Not that it was high to begin with but I just don't want to over do it. I figured this would really help with my trail running and hills and in the long run, my goals for the year: climbing Mt Hood and Mt Rainier.
It didn't take long to see an improvement.
Last weekend we went out to check out the course, while we didn't run the whole thing, we ran 10 miles and did the first 2 climbs. I could tell the difference, I felt like I had more power going up those climbs (the first one was 3 miles and gains about 1600"). I really like having an idea of what the course is like.

Race day: beautiful morning. Temps in the high 40s and clear clear skies. The RD said the trails were in the best condition he had ever seen them and the weather was just picture perfect. There were 4 distance: 10k (2nd half of the half so we never ran with them) half, full, and 50k. I'd say less than 200 people total for all races.
The first couple of miles were narrow single track. I wanted to be up frontish as to not be blocked out and lost in the bottle neck, but I didn't want to be so far up that I was going out too fast and causing those behind me to have to wait. I feel like I positioned myself well, we all moved like a snake up the switch backs with some passing here in there but no major issues.
I'm glad I had run up this hill the week before. After about 2 miles, we hit a service road up to the summit.
Not before long, the leaders started coming down. First a spate of guys, then 1 woman doing the marathon, and next was Loren. She was 2nd woman in the field, but first woman in the half.
I hit the top, grabbed my orange rubber band that indicated I made it to the top and started bombing down the 3 mile decent. By then the field had thinned out and there was no problems going down the narrow trail. There would be the occasional hiker but they were aware there was a race happening and were all considerate.
After that, there was a short flat with the aid station. I grabbed a 2nd gel, since my spare fell out of my pocket at the start, and some clif drink and headed for the 2nd climb.
The 2nd climb wasn't bad, about a mile long and not too steep. The thing I didn't like about this climb was coming back down. It was a narrow trail with a gash down the middle of most of it, perfect to ankle busting. I didn't get to go down as fast as I'd have liked to, not wanting to break my ass. Another small flat patch, maybe a half mile, then up to the 3rd climb: 2 miles of fun.
I wish we had run this one too. Not knowing what was coming and going up hill for 2 miles at mile 9 was tough. There were lots of switchbacks, some really steep sections, and lots of trees so I couldn't see where the path was leading me and I couldn't see anyone behind me or in front of me. It was a tough climb. I dug in and just kept going up up and up.
FINALLY, a clearing and the down hill started. The footing here was much better so I could really move. I was getting into the mid 7s going down, I knew I was almost done. I could hear them announcing winners and I was pretty sure I heard them announce Loren as the first woman in the half.
Once I hit the bottom of the hill, just a couple of turns through a flat parking lot to the finish.
My goal for this race was sub 2:20, I finished in 2:17:37, almost 10 minutes faster than Steep Ravine. It's not really fair to compare races. While it's the same distance the courses and terrain are very very different.
3/14 in age group
7/39 women
23/89 over all.
I'm happy with that.

Now a note about Loren. Yup, she won. She also set a course record (I will add this because she keeps adding it: the woman who won the marathon was a few minutes ahead of her at her halfway point. She also flat out won the marathon, first over all, but anyhooo) Loren finished in 2:03:59. At mile 8, Loren dropped her only remaining gel and stepped on it, hearing that lovely pop that a gel exploding under a foot makes. Because she is hardcore (and may have bonked otherwise) she picked up said popped gel and carried it with her, licking the gel off her hand and spitting out the gravel for then next 5 miles. I'm just glad she didn't lick it off her shoe. She ended with mocha gel on her hand, leg, shoe, and face. Sexxxy proof here.
Yup. That's my girl!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Like you were just a wish that could turn out well

It's been quiet over here at Dog Pound enterprises. I haven't been training for any big goal race or anything like that. I've been keeping steady low weekly milage and trying my hand at some local trail running. It's fun to mix it up and try something different. No pressure since every race has new challenges and all the CA trails are pretty new to me.
Saturday was Steep Ravine. This is a pretty well known hiking trail. The race also hooks up with the Dipsea trail which is known in running lore for the The Dipsea, the oldest trail race in the states. It started in 1905. Anyway, I mentioned on RWOL that I was running Steep Ravine and someone said, wait, I've hiked that trail, isn't there a step ladder? Why yes. Yes there is a step ladder. It's interesting to climb a step ladder while running a race.
You can see the course map here and the elevation chart is so lovely to look at:

I didn't have much of a plan going into this. Usually, I look over last year's results and try to figure out where I should be placement wise. This was new territory for me since I've never run a trail half and they had changed the course from last year. The course is now much more challenging.

When we got going I felt like every one had really bolted out. The field wasn't that big, less than 200 people. I tried to settle in, obviously, we go straight up from the get go. Oh and for the next 4 miles. I tried to just settle in and be mindful of my foot falls. This trail is much rockier and rootier than other trails I've run on out here. Not to mention the step ladder, ducking under fallen trees and some tiny streams.
The trail splits from pink to a yellow loop right after the aid station/check point. There was some confusion on which direction to go to the check point. After some discussion with the pack I found myself in, we decided to go right, which did lead us to the aid station. I know there can be some lingering at aid stations on trail runs but I like to just keep at it so I gulped down some sports drink and split. I was now with just 1 other guy bombing the down hill section. It is so much fun to go from 13-15 minute miles to 7-8 minute miles.
For a while, I wasn't sure I was going the right way. I could see the trail markings and I was going counter clockwise as we had been instructed but I didn't see anyone else. There were 5 races going on with variations on route so there were people all over the place just no one near me. Then some guys come flying by the other way and tell me I'm going the wrong way. I was pretty sure I wasn't and had already decided if I was, it was just going to loop back to where I needed to be and I wasn't turning around.
After a couple of miles I saw Loren. She was with a pack and said "hi, we're going the wrong way, you're going the right way so keep going".
There were a lot of confused people out there in them woods. Some poor 7 mile folks ended up doing 10 miles, some 12. I'm not really sure how they got so turned around.
I got confused again when it came to getting back to the aid station. At this point, I was with 2 other people, a man and a woman. The woman was like, ok, he's really fast, let's send him ahead to make sure this is right. He called back to us and we were going in the right direction.
Once I got back to the aid station/check point I was surprised to find Loren there. She decided since she went the wrong way and cut the course she would wait for me at the aid station so we could run the last 3 miles together and she'd DQ herself at the end.
A lot of people went off course. After the fact, the RD went back to check the course and saw that the directional arrows were no longer there, causing the confusion. He counted everyone and gave everyone race credit (there's a points competition that goes on through out the year) and adjusted times for the short course.
I am pleased with my results. While it took me a lot longer than I had expected, I set a half marathon personal worst and a trail half marathon person best with a time of 2:36:52
Overall 47 out of 172
women 8 out of 78
AG 2 out of 21
Even though Loren asked not to be counted she finished right behind me for 3rd in AG. That may never happen again. I'm sure if she hadn't waited for me she would have been 2nd woman. She gave herself a nice 15 minute handicap waiting for me at the aid station.
It was a tough run but I had a lot of fun. I'm enjoying this for now. I'm sure at some point I'll start setting different goals and go back to more road racing. After all these years of running, I just need to mix it up a bit.
In other news, our other trail running partner in crime Barb aged up for this race and nabbed 3rd in her age group in her debut race. Way to go Barb!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Laying low and wasting time

I have not updated in a while. Not that there's been much to update, but I have been internet running related laying low. I figured I would do the old year end/new year wrap up.
In 2011, I ran 1264 miles. Not setting any records there, but it was 200 miles more than 2010.
I PRed in the half, but missed my goals of breaking 1:40 in the half and 3:40 in the full. I felt like I had a lot of solid running. With moving across the country, it's taken me some time to get my running routine together. I'm still working on that. I've set no solid running goals for 2012. No marathons, no halfs, nothing really planned other than some trail races. I feel like after years of chasing Boston, I need a break for serious goal chasing. I don't think I'm done, I know there are faster times in me. I'm just going to focus on some other things.
Since moving, I've been doing more trail running. I love it. It's a nice change from road running. Time is less important. It's very mental. It's also very beautiful. It's also making me stronger which is awesome.
My biggest goals for 2012 are high points. I have 32 done. In 2011, I did 4. HI, FL, AZ, and AL. It's getting tougher to get a lot done in 1 year and several done in 1 trip. We should be able to get 3-4 in a trip to the midwest. IL is tough because it's on private property that is only open 4 weekends a year. Another challenge is the high points themselves. A sample of what's left:
Mt Rainier: 14, 410' glaciated peak.
Mt Hood 11, 239' glaciated peak
Granite Peak 12,799', 22 miles round trip, plus technical climbing
Gannett Peak 13, 804' 40 miles round trip, plus technical climbing
Denali the name says it all.
This year, we're planning on Hood and Rainier. The High Pointers club is having the yearly convention in OR so Loren and I have been in touch with people about planning a climb. An old friend of Loren's is a former professional guide and has agreed to do Rainier with us. I'm really excited about both of these trip.
This weekend, we're running Crystal Springs (the 11 mile course). We went out last week to check out the course. Should be lots of fun! As I said, I'm digging these trail runs.
I'll sign off with a picture of us at the AL high point, which was also Bea's 8th.