Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicago Marathon Race Report

It's been awhile since I've ran a road marathon and I've never written a race report for one before. I usually just showed up, ran and called it good. My first marathon I didn't even own a watch...needless to say I did not negative split that race! I really didn't know what to expect going into Chicago. I had been running well and my legs felt good, but I hadn't run any sort of long run since Run Rabbit. How would my legs feel after 20 miles? All I could do was try to recover and hope for the best.

Dan, James and I arrived in Chicago on Friday afternoon just in time for the RDS pre-race party. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say James had the most fun of just about anyone there. He ran around in circles until he nearly passed out from exhaustion. Dan and I had a great time meeting so many people we only knew only from online and social media.

Saturday was quite the adventure as Dan and I were certain we could navigate our way through Chicago to packet pickup. After 4 miles of running, more bridge crossings than I can count we arrived safely at packet pickup in the back of a cab. Once inside I felt like country mouse in the big city. I wandered around head spinning and after getting our t-shirts I was desperate to get out of there. So we quickly grabbed a cab and retreated to the hotel for cheese burgers...because really what race would be complete without pre-race burgers?

Sunday morning Dan and I headed to the starting line determined not to get lost. After being so used to getting to races 10 minutes before the start it was a rough adjustment getting there an hour early only to barely have enough time to drop gear bags, use the porta-pottys, kiss good luck and rush into our corrals. I seriously made it as they were saying one minute left. It was perfect running temps so I was a bit chilly in shorts and a t-shirt, but I knew it would only take a couple minutes to warm up. 

Get Lucky would turn out to be the theme of the day and it blasted through the speakers and I broke out in a smile picturing James dancing away! Before I knew it the gun went off and I was crossing the starting line. I had only managed to make it up to the 3:45 pace group so I spent a fair bit of the first mile navigating around runners before settling into what felt like an easy pace. Just before we hit the 1 mile mark I noticed a guy just ahead of me wearing an Ups for Downs shirt and I quickly caught up to him. Of all 26.2 miles this moment stood out the most to me. Here was some complete stranger who didn't even know it but he was running for James. Tears started to fill my eyes as I tapped his shoulder and told him that I have a son with Ds, pointed to my shirt and said I was running for him too. The man told me he was running for his brother who has Ds. A moment later I was off running again, smiling to myself at this little encounter. 

The miles ticked by quickly and I was doing a good job maintaining a steady 7:25ish pace. I was feeling good, but definitely worried as to whether or not I could hang on. I never run this fast so I had no idea how long I could continue. As I approached the charity mile, mile 14, I couldn't help but get excited to see the RDS tent and my family. Apparently I got a little too excited as I clicked off a 6:44 mile. I didn't think I was capable of a sub-7 minute mile for one mile let alone over halfway through a marathon. I guess I'm a bit faster than I give myself credit for, of course I also probably should not have gotten swept up in the moment as about five miles later my pace started falling off. 

At mile 19 I wouldn't say I hit a wall like I've experienced in past marathons, but I was struggling to maintain the same pace I had all morning. Whether it was from lack of calories, I could not begin to stomach any gel so my only calories were from Gatorade at aid stations, or because I had started out too fast I won't know. Looking back I think I could have maintained the pace but probably needed to have trained to run that pace a bit further. My marathon training had been essentially non-existent so I couldn't be too upset. 

A few miles later I began to realize that while I hadn't set out for a BQ, I was pretty confident I would get one, I was really going to qualify by quite a bit. It was just a weird thought. Every other marathon had one goal, one time in mind and one thing I was racing for. This time none of that mattered. I was running for a whole different reason and actually running a heck of a lot better. 


I passed a guy in a Western States shirt and finally started to feel like maybe I was back in my element. And then I got shouldered by another runner who seemed to care less about anyone else's journey. I congratulated the WS runner as I went by and remembered why I had transitioned to ultras a few years earlier. There is a different sense of community in ultras, not to say road races are bad, they're just different. Runners cheer each other on and not just back of the packers, but the elite, lead runners cheer on those behind them, runners of all abilities stop and help the runner sitting on the side of the trail. You certainly never run more than a mile without receiving or giving words of encouragement. Chicago was different. The first half the spectators lined the streets cheering non-stop and the excitement was electric. This was so much fun after running so many races lately where the majority of spectators are the aid station volunteers. There are some amazing aid stations that are totally rockin' it, but its hard to beat the hoards of crowds we ran through.


As I turned into the park I realized I had a shot at going sub 3:20 so I took off. I didn't have seconds set on my garmin so I had no idea how close I was or just how hard I had to push. As it turns out I finished in 3:20:13...should have pushed a little earlier. But still that was over a 15 minute PR, a BQ and overall a time I was pretty stoked about. It also meant the end of our 321 mile challenge, 321.9 miles to be exact. For a moment I kicked myself that I hadn't thought to actually slow down at the end and finish in 3:21...but well I'm just not that poetic. The whole weekend was fantastic, meeting the other RDS runners and their kiddos, seeing the family, eating pizza, and finishing it all with huge PRs for both Dan and I. Dan took 14 minutes off his PR and I couldn't think of a better way for us to end our season than with having great races.

Week October 6 - 12

Miles Running: 51.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 8.0

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - James Update

October is Down syndrome awareness month so I figured since I'm not training too hard I might as well give a James update. 

This summer has been an explosion for James in terms of milestones and learning new skills. He started walking which quickly progressed to running which has in turn led to full on chaos! I'm fairly certain James does not get his never-willing-to-sit-down mentality from me...I mean really where did that come from? He is constantly on the go, climbing, running, tripping, closing doors (yes this is one of his favorite activities) and dancing. It's been a fun and exhausting summer of chasing. 

James has also made huge progress with his communication. Last spring he used a modified version of more and go and that was really it. On last count he has over 50 signs that he now uses. He only uses about 4 of those spontaneously, but it's major progress. Early this summer his frustration level was through the roof as he really wanted to communicate and tell us what he needed. The frustration has really calmed down now that he can ask for help or tell us he wants a drink or to eat or go to bed. Some people have cautioned that if we focus too much on signing that it will further delay his verbal speech. According to James' private speech therapist there are no studies that indicate this and really, if he can communicate and be that much less frustrated I'll take it. Even if it means he might be delayed a bit more in verbal speech. I've known James long enough now to know that once he crosses that frustration boundary he doesn't learn. It doesn't spur him to work harder on using his words, he just shuts down. So I'm not going to worry about that. We'll take signing for now. He is also using a few verbal words: mom, dad, up and down. His word approximations have increased as well and he frequently uses ba, da, ma for words like ball and home. 

James has also had a pretty healthy past few months. He's still quite small (21.5 lb) but has grown, to what feels like quite tall (33.75"). Poor kid can't keep pants on...well it's that or where flood pants. Aside from the typical back to school snottiness and requisite ear infection we've been pretty lucky this summer. He's still on oxygen at night, but his cardiologist thought in another year we could look at weaning him off. So we're hopeful on that front.



All in all James is doing great! He loves music, balls and is really into cars lately. His favorite music remains Daft Punk and Michael Franti, which he signs along with all the time. He blows kisses, gives kisses and gives the world's best hugs (I may be partial but if you've ever had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of a 'James hug' you know this is no exaggeration!) James doesn't do much to defy the sterotype of kids with Ds being happy and full of love...that pretty much describes James 90% of the time. There are still good days and bad days. Times I wish he didn't have to struggle as much as he does. Times where I wish we didn't have to be frequent flyers at Children's. Times where I see other 2 yo and wish I could do some of the same things with James. For some reason fall is always hard. I wish I could take him to the pumpkin farm and let him walk next to me each drinking out hot chocolates. But James doesn't like chocolate milk, warm or cold, he doesn't listen very well (I'm sure this is not a Ds thing), and he certainly does not walk next to me pretty much anywhere. He doesn't get doing things like helping make cookies at home, he hates wearing costumes, and gets very overwhelmed in public settings. I know he'll get there and someday I'll laugh that I ever worried about him drinking hot chocolate or making cookies and he may refuse to ever go a day without being in costume. It's just we're not there yet, there's always tomorrow right? This year when I took him to the farm with EI he cried and hid in my arms for an hr, he refused to pet the animals, didn't want apple cider and certainly was not interested in riding the cow train. But we played in the tepee and he went down the slide all by himself. So it may not have been the perfect day at the farm, but I'll take the small things, I'll take that he climbed 3 stairs by himself, took a bit of help setting down on the slide, and then slid down all by himself. That's more than we were able to do last year!

So that's what James has been up to the last few months. It's been a constant whirlwind of learning new things, running around and going to appointments. But that's are normal and it doesn't scare me anymore. I may feel bad when there are things he can't quite do yet that other kids his age are able to, but I no longer worry will he ever I know he WILL it just may take awhile. 

Week September 29 - October 5

Miles Running: 42.7
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.0

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

100 Miler Hangover

Bear Chase 50k
I love the weeks after a 100! After Run Rabbit I took the longest non-running stretch I've taken in years, mostly due to a hectic schedule of James appointments and work meetings. But after 4 days of not running I couldn't do anything until I got in a run, no matter how slow or painful it was I had to get back on the trail. I'm not one to go to the gym or cross-train. My cross-training is...well...running. It may not be the greatest plan out there or what would be recommended, but that's me so I stick with it. I've had many people tell me you need to take at least a full week off of running.I feel like you should start running when you head and heart are ready for it. 


At the end of a season or after a big race I do what I call zen running. No watch, no plan, no prescribed mileage. Purely running by feel. Combine this with fall running and I'm in heaven! Hands down my favorite time to run is the fall. The ground feels a little softer, the cooler temps let you run a bit faster and the changing leaves just seem to propel me down the trail with a perma-grin plastered on my face. I really think this is what keeps me from burning out. I think so many people focus everything on this one big race or event and when that's over there's a huge void there. 
Bear Chase 50k finish

Of course this could also be my downfall...taking enough time off from running after a big race has always been a problem for me. I guess we'll just have to see how that pans out over time. For now I'm going to run when I feel like it and take the day off when I'm just not feeling it. I've been having some fun runs lately. Taking the boys out, meeting friends, meeting Dan for a lunch run, just mixing it up and really having fun!



Week September 15 - 21

Miles Running: 24.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 5

Week September 22 - 28

Miles Running: 40.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5

Monday, September 22, 2014

Run Rabbit Run 100 Race Report


With each one of these races we do it seems to get easier and easier to get ready for. By the time we got to Steamboat Thursday afternoon my drop bags were packed, my crew notes dialed in, dinner had been pre-made and I was basically all set to go. 

The race start was 8:00 am for us tortoises which meant I would be able to get some real sleep. Ever since James was born sleeping before a race hasn't been a problem. I'm usually so tired all the time that not even stress can get in the way. So I was in bed by 9:00 asleep by 9:01. The late start might have been one of my favorite parts. At Leadville I usually hit a low point around mile 30 because I miss my lil grommie so much. I know it sounds silly, but morning cuddles are the best way to start any day. This time I got my morning snuggles before the race started so I was set and didn't hit that low point at mile 30...well at least not because I missed James. 

Before I headed to the start I stepped out onto the porch and it was frickin' cold! Way colder than I had anticipated and way too cold to start in just a t-shirt. I ransacked the clothes I had and found one long sleeve tech shirt and a pair of cotton knit gloves. Everything else was already in drop bags so these would have to do. I didn't realize then how important these two articles of clothing would prove to be later on. 

The race started with a "go" and we were off, running for maybe two minutes before we were quickly halted by Mt Werner and so the hike began. I was surprised how good I felt and how little effort breathing was taking. I guess the advantage of having run Leadville the past two years was that starting nearly 3,000 ft lower meant I was not going to be winded straight off the bat. My goal for the climb was to stay steady and hike hard without digging too deep of a hole. Mt Werner would be a 3,500 ft or so climb. Sandra and I hiked this one together. When we got to the top of the gondola I heard one volunteer say first and second woman. I nearly screamed in panic to Sandra since she hadn't heard the guy. We looked at each other in horror, both gasping, "did we already go out too fast?". Well we felt good and there was nothing we could do about it now, head down and keep going. We quickly found ourselves following the guy in front who led us off trail. We only got 100 ft or so off the trail before we realized the mistake and turned around. Now we were hands on knees straight up the mountain. We crested Mt Werner at 9:29, exactly where I wanted to be, and another volunteer reassured us saying we were 3rd and 4th woman. This really wasn't much comfort as I did not want to be this far in the front this early. Sandra told me I would lose her on the downhills through the rolling section to Long Lake so I set off to run my race and keep steady. She was really only a handful of minutes behind me. I settled into a pace with Cole and a couple other guys and we easily cruised to Long Lake. I remember thinking that section was going to hurt on the way back! It didn't disappoint!

At Long Lake I was now around 30 minutes ahead of schedule, but I felt really good. I dropped my gloves and long sleeve in my drop bag, grabbed more calories and was off. This aid station by the way completely ROCKED!!! Hands down these volunteers were the BEST and totally made my race. I'd see them two more times and every time they were amazing! I knew Cole was pushing my pace a bit too fast so I backed off and let him go as we headed down Fish Creek Falls. 

James having fun waiting for me at Olympian
Fish Creek Falls is hands down my favorite part of the course. Sandra had warned me about the technical trail and there were a few sections even I had to walk down. As I neared the bottom I heard the rushing of the falls and forced myself to stop and turn around and wow there was this amazing waterfall. It's no Niagara Falls, but for a Colorado girl it was pretty impressive! I got into the aid station secretly hoping I'd see Dan there, but knowing how far ahead of my splits I was I didn't expect he would have made it . It was four miles of road into town and a friendly face would be nice to see here. And then I turned the corner to see that familiar grey t-shirt and shorts! I gave a quick wave and he put his hands on his hips with that mock disappointed look and I knew instantly he was telling me I had gone out too fast. I just threw up my hands, shrugged and smiled. We kissed quick and then started booking it to town. I was seriously feeling amazing so I was booking it and Dan began to get worried that he wouldn't be able to keep up. I reassured him that I would not be moving so fast later that night. I gave him a rundown on what I needed at Olympian, vasoline for my nose, sunscreen, EFS, and to slam some water. It was getting hot and I was worried my fluids were a bit low. My calories were right where I wanted them, but I was getting thirsty. Dan called ahead to let my parents know I was coming in hot and we quickly raced into Olympian Hall.  

I was in and out of Olympian in less than 2 minutes. I saw Allisa and she grabbed my bottles to fill, Dan sprayed me with sunscreen, my Dad handed me vasoline and my Mom set down James to charge me, arms outstretched and coming in for the world's best hug whether I was ready or not! I had planned on this being a big stop for aid, but I didn't even enter the aid station. So far my AS had been 2 min or less. I was prepared for a climb out of Olympian and kept telling myself, it's just like Falcon, it's just like Falcon. I kept a really steady climb and am pretty happy with how hard I was able to climb that "little" hill. As we neared the water stop the guy just behind me skipped to catch up gasping "Did you see that snake???" Ah no...apparently I stepped right next to some monster snake. I have no idea what kind it was since I never saw it, but I guess that means I was just in the zone right? I filled my bottles at the water station and pushed on continuing my steady pace. Just as I knew I should be nearing the top I heard this noise, a buzzing of sorts. I glanced over my shoulder to see this elk covered in flies and missing a large portion of his neck. I have no idea what killed the elk, but I instantly was on alert, was it a hunter that might accidentally shoot me? a mountain lion? I really didn't want to stick around to find out so I headed down toward Cow Creek. 

The downhill was more gradual than I would have liked so I wasn't able to make up as much time as I had hoped, but I knew I was still making good time. I finally heard the aid station and charged in filling my bottles and grabbing my handheld. The next section would be one of the longest to water so I wanted to have a bit more fluid. I could feel my electrolytes were low so I had my handheld filled with AS electrolyte mix, I think they said it was Tailwind. I hadn't trained with this, but figured how bad could it be. Turns out it was not what my stomach was feeling. I needed it, but my stomach definitely started turning. This was also my least favorite part of the course. We left the AS and headed down yet another dirt road. I didn't see any cars so that wasn't a big deal, but it wasn't very scenic. As a Wisco girl I've seen my share of cows. I even began to wonder if I was really going the right way. After a mile or so I caught up with two guys and we stuck together for the whole "climb". I had been anticipating another Falcon climb but it never came. It was just that annoying grade that you feel like you should really be able to run, but it's just enough that you can't. I also thought it would get steeper so I kept forcing myself to hold back here. I was also hoping maybe I could get a bit more back on pace. I was nearly 2 hr ahead of schedule and beginning to worry about how that would affect the rest of my race. Finally after winding up some nice singletrack and thinking I would never hit the main road we popped out on the double track that would lead back down to the water stop. One of the guys charged ahead and the other dropped back so I was running alone again. A couple minutes later I saw the unmistakable look of Nikki Kimball charging the climb. Just behind her were Darcy Piceau and Kerri Bruxvoort. These fast girls just pushed me even more and I charged downhill. 

I came into Olympian nearly 2 hr ahead of schedule, but thankfully my crew had expected this and was there to greet me. Since I had planned on being here later I had left my headlamp and night clothes in this drop bag. That meant I had to load up all my gear and carry it with me. I had slowed down on calories since my stomach was heading south and I knew I needed to catch up. I chugged half a clear Ensure Protein, which didn't go down too bad, loaded up on calories and fluids and Dan ran me back out to the road. I had four miles of uphill road staring at me before I would pick up Katie. I tried to keep the pace easy to let my stomach settle and the miles ticked by pretty quickly. But by the time I hit Fish Creek Falls AS my stomach was a mess. Katie was all smiles and ready to help get me up this climb though. I remembered the climb from the morning and was nervous about the technical parts also thankful I was ahead of schedule and would be making this climb in the daylight or something close to daylight. We took off laughing and smiling as I made Dan promise me he would get some sleep before I saw him again in 25 miles. 

I was thankful this climb was not the annoying grade and I could settle into my hiking pace. As we made our way up my stomach started to settle, but I could now feel my calories were really low. I was getting a bit lightheaded and out of it. I decided my stomach was settled enough to try a regular gel. I took a couple small sips and when Katie reached for my wrapper I realized I was taking it really slow, probably an excuse to slow my pace. So I took a big gulp...bad idea...immediately I started gagging and up came the gel along with nearly all the precious fluids in my stomach. As promised Katie held my hair back and as the group of guys behind us passed me they all patted my back in a show of solidarity. With nothing left to do other than continue to head up and slowly build back my fluid and calorie level we kept going. With each step I felt better. We passed by the falls again just as the sun was setting behind us. That's a site I'll remember for a long time to come. 

Just before we reached Long Lake I had to put on my headlamp. We came into Long Lake and Katie sat me next to the fire, but made me promise not to get too close while she grabbed my drop bag. I instantly started shaking uncontrollably. I hadn't realized I was that cold, but now I couldn't control it. She brought me a coke and I think more ended up running down my legs than in my stomach so she quickly took it away from me and ran off to get a cup of broth. I had my capris tights I'd been carrying since Olympian and the old pair of long tights I had thrown in the drop bag at the last minute. I didn't hesitate throwing both pairs on before pulling my shorts over top. I also thankfully had the extra shirt and gloves I'd worn earlier this morning and quickly pulled both of those on as well. I had one long sleeve shirt and thin gloves, but that was clearly not going to be enough. Even now I can't believe how lucky I was that I had the spare clothes from that morning. As I was getting ready to leave Sandra came into the AS. She didn't seem at all phased by the cold, which worried me a bit that I should be warmer. Eric seemed to have her under control so Katie led me out of the AS and towards Summit Lake. 

The section to Summit Lake was basically a rolling jeep road. I tried to run as much of it as I could while Katie and I chatted away enjoying the night. At one point Katie stopped and turned to me "I know you need to keep going, but you need to look at the stars right now." It totally reminded me of something Rob would have done. I looked up to see a cloudless sky full of stars. It was amazing...and reminded me again this is why we do these crazy races. And then we saw a lone headlight coming from behind, it was moving fast. For a moment I was confused how someone was passing us this easily and then I saw that unmistakable beard, Rob Krar. The hares had finally gotten us. Katie and I began to joke that we could always tell it was a hare and not another tortoise when it was one headlight moving smooth and fast and the runner still had on shorts. When Cindy passed us I was surprised I had really expected it to be Sandra coming up from behind.  Summit Lake brought more broth as I tried to refuel. Things were finally starting to click again. I had somehow caught up on calories, my stomach was settling down and my legs were still running. 

Katie and I pushed the downhill as hard as I could. I felt like I was moving fairly well at least I was running and keeping a steady pace. I knew I was losing time though and had really thought I could be running a faster pace. I'm not one to dwell on this though so I just kept going. Dry Lake was a strange AS. Maybe it was my altered state but it just looked like carnage everywhere. I refused to sit down, just drank some broth as fast as possible, determined to get out of there. I did see Laurie and after a quick hug reassured her that Sandra was not far behind. It was a quick 4.5 miles to Spring Creek and as much as Katie and I did not want to count the 15 bridges they were oh so nicely numbered. No way getting around that! My stomach was starting to act up a bit again, but nothing too bad. I had been hoping to get down more of the clear Ensure at Spring Creek, but that was obviously not going to happen. The medic grilled me to make sure I was okay to go on. I got the distinct feeling that he did not think I looked that great, but really how good are you supposed to look over 70 miles into a race at nearly 1:30 am? I actually thought, aside from my stomach that was curdling as we spoke, that I was doing pretty damn well. I had warmed up considerably and my legs, okay well aside from my hamburger meat quads, were doing quite well. I still believe I could not have been the only one in kinda sorta rough shape at Spring Creek. Dan and Katie were switching pacing duties here so I quickly hugged Kate and thanked her profusely before Dan and I had to make the last big climb of the race. 

We passed Sandra not too far out of the AS and she was still looking really good. I felt pretty good on the climb.  Slower than I would have liked, but again at least I was steady. Dry Lake was still the carnage site I remembered and again I tried to get in and out with broth as fast as I could. They had ran out of cups for broth though so sipping out of a bowl was not easily done. Then we were on our way to Summit Lake. This seemed to take forever! It's a long section and I was really moving pretty slow. I didn't feel like I could take a single running break so it was a slow trudge up the mountain. Dan and I reached Summit Lake just as the sun was rising and I felt like crying! I had made it...not to the end, but this was the last climb. Only some 20ish miles left. I sank into a chair drinking broth as Dan grabbed my drop bag. We dropped our headlamps and I suggested we just take a really quick nap. I did at least have my wits about me enough to not sit by the fire. I sat around the outside and watched the other runners zoned out and just staring. I knew I looked just like that, but that I had to keep moving. I double checked the mileage with one of the volunteers and it was nearly twice as long as I thought. Wait what?!?! Oh shit, I clearly had not remembered that we didn't take the jeep road back. We took the long winding Wyoming Trail back to Long Lake. Oh but my legs didn't want trail, they wanted easy jeep road. As I was walking out Sandra walked in looking phenomenal! One look at me and she asked if I was okay. I must have looked really bad. She looked like she was just about to get going and I was sure she would catch up in no time.


Dan and I took off down the trail and little by little my spirits lifted. It was gorgeous. Everything was frozen and a blanket of clouds covered everything below us. We wound around up and down and although I was still moving slowly I was running more and more of the flats and downs. I had clearly not had enough Coke during the night and every time we started walking I started falling asleep and running into Dan. I think this propelled me to keep running more than anything. Once the sun was really up I started to perk up a bit. And before long we started seeing 50 milers. The first couple seemed like they had no idea what I was doing running the other direction, but more and more started cheering. This totally got me running more. We eventually made it back to Long Lake. And again these volunteers ROCKED!!! One woman immediately came up to me to help with whatever I needed. Dan grabbed my drop bag while she was filling water bottles. It was getting warm and I started debating if I should lose a pair of pants. She said I'd definitely overheat in what I was wearing so I started shedding layers. Then she literally pulled my top pair of pants off me. I couldn't negotiate my fingers to do it, but she didn't care. I don't remember her name, but she said she normally volunteered but this year was supposed to pace. Her runner dropped before he got her so she just started helping out at an AS. She was like a little angel for me. She finally got my pants off and switched my bib and then sent us on our way. 

I clearly remembered the section from Long Lake to Mt Werner from the morning before and it did not disappoint. It was miserable. Sure it was rolling singletrack, but mostly rolling upward. My legs hurt, my feet hurt and I just wanted to be done. After what seemed like a little bit of running, a lot of hiking and an equal amount of whining I made it to the Mt Werner AS and nearly cried. Not only did I know it was a short 6.5 miles downhill to the finish line I knew there was no girl out there who could catch me at this point. Barring some sort of catastrophe I was going to finish in third place. It was not an easy downhill though. In retrospect I could have ran this section much better, my legs were sore, nothing else. But all I wanted to do was walk it in. I whined a lot, but I still managed some long running breaks as well. The village grew closer and I quickly realized we were one switchback from the finish line. I shuffled across the bridge to where James was waiting for me with a massive grin stretched across his face! If there is one reason to finish a race its to see that smile! Someone yelled out that I was the third woman and I couldn't help but get a bit excited. I know it's just the tortoises, but I was still pretty damn excited about it. A hug of the bunny and it was over. I had finished.

My goals for the race were to finish under 27 hr, to run a hard race (even if it meant blowing up) and secretly to finish in the top 3. My time ended up being 28:28 but I did run a really hard race. I left almost everything out there and pushed myself harder than I did at Leadville last year. Overall I feel like I ran a really good race. It wasn't perfect and I wished I had pushed it harder at the end, but it was still a good race. I also ended up getting 106 for mileage. I've been hearing it was more like 106/107. It also feels good to have another finish under my belt.

Week September 8 - 14

Miles Running: 114.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 30.5






























Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Run Rabbit Run Race Strategy

Run Rabbit Run is now just over 2 days away so its probably time I lay out a game plan as to how I'm going to get through these 103 miles! This year my goal is to push myself a bit more. Last year at Leadville my goal was finish, plain and simple just finish. But now I feel ready to push a little more and have a more ambitious time goal. Plus there's that sub-30hr gold buckle twinkling in the distance at me! With a plan of running a bit faster and trying to run more later in the race it's important to have a good strategy so I can adapt when things go wrong and be prepared for whatever may come my way.

splits (time of day expected):
A Goal Time: sub-27:00hr
B Goal Time: sub-30:00hr
  • Mt Werner (4.4) 9:30am
  • Long Lake (10.8) 11:20am
  • Fish Creek Falls (16.5) 12:45pm
  • Olympian Hall (20.5) 1:37pm
  • Cow Creek (29.1) 4:00 pm
  • Olympian Hall (41.3) 7:14pm
  • Fish Creek Falls (45.3) 8:30pm
  • Long Lake (51.4) 10:00pm
  • Summit Lake (56.9) 12:15am
  • Dry Lake (64.5) 1:30am
  • Spring Creek Ponds (69) 2:20am
  • Dry Lake (73.5) 3:50am
  • Summit Lake (81.1) 5:15am
  • Long Lake (89.7) 7:30am
  • Mt Werner (96.1) 9:30am
  • Finish (102.9) 10:59am

gear:
  • Shoes: Pearl Izumi M2 
  • Socks: Drymax, I don't like to wear socks, but for long races they're a must and these are the only socks I race in
  • Watch: Garmin 310XT
  • Hydration: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
  • Headlamp: Petzl
  • Headwear: UV half Buff, I don't leave home without it!
  • Gloves: Pearl Izumi gloves, Craft glove/mittens
  • Food: EFS vanilla gel and Hammer Heed added to water and of course Coke
  • Poles: Black Diamond Z pole 100cm

aid stations:
  • Long Lake: I don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Fish Creek FallsI don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Olympian Hall: This is the first place I'll see crew. But it should be a quick turnaround. Just refuel, resunscreen, kiss the boy and get going.
  • Cow Creek: No crew here. Just refuel, grab a handheld for extra fluid on this stretch and get moving.
  • Olympian Hall: This is where I pick up Katie and grab night for night running. I'll pick up my headlamp, poles, bladder, long sleeves, capris, possibly my shell, full Buff and gloves.
  • Fish Creek FallsI don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Long Lake: Another quick stop to refuel. I'll have an old pair of tights and extra long sleeve here in case it really gets cold.
  • Summit Lake: Just refuel.
  • Spring Creek Ponds: This is where I'll switch pacers. I'll also have the majority of my really warm gear here in case I need it. Battery change in the headlamp and refuel.
  • Summit Lake: This needs to be a quick stop. Just refuel and go. I'll have backup warm clothes just in case though.
  • Long Lake: As the sun comes up it should start getting warm again so I'll likely switch back to shorts and sunscreen up here. I'll also drop my poles and refuel.
  • FINISH: Alls I want here is a can of Dales! Well that and Sandra has me dreaming of margaritas and mexican food now so that is probably going to carry me for at least the last 20 miles.
pacers/crew (the most important part):
  • Katie will be taking me from Olympian (41) to Spring Creek Ponds (69). After her adventure race win last weekend I know she knows what it takes to keep pushing. Dan will be grinding it out with me from Spring Creek Ponds to the finish. It's a grueling climb and I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather have with me on that climb. Hopefully I'll be saying that same thing at the end.
  • My parents will also be here for the crucial role of babysitter! Definitely an important part in racing these days!
While this section is short it is crucial to our race. Without this amazing group of people who are willing to give up their weekend and sleep I wouldn't be able to do this sort of race. So in advance, thank you all for your hardwork and dedication! There may not be buckles at the end of the day for you but I promise you all loads Dales!

music playlist:
Anyone who knows me knows I don't listen to music while I run, unless I'm on a treadmill. But I will have an iPod ready to go if I need a pick me up during the climbs.
  • Hard Sun - Eddie Vedder
  • Blue Sky - Allman Brothers
  • Airplanes - B.o.B.
  • Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills and Nash
  • Shake It Out - Florence and The Machine
  • Never Let Me Go - Florence and The Machine
  • Dog Days Are Over - Florence and The Machine
  • Hey World - Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • Hey Hey Hey - Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • Ghosts That We Knew - Mumford and Sons
  • Lover Of The Light  - Mumford and Sons
  • Hopeless Wanderer - Mumford and Sons
  • Good Life - OneRepublic
  • I Am Mine - Pearl Jam
  • Glad You Came - The Wanted
  • Butterfly - Crazy Town
  • Start Line - Nathan Barr
  • Never Give Up - Peter Bayne
  • Green Spandex - Xavier Rudd
  • Follow Me There - Third Day
  • Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
  • 11:59 - Michael Franti and Spearhead

tracking:
My amazing crew will be posting to Twitter so you can follow along by following @321_Miles or #321milechallenge

or follow at www.ultralive.net/rrr100/

Week August 25-31

Miles Running: 34.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 6.5

Week September 1 - 7

Miles Running: 28
Hours Hiking and running: 5.5

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chaos and Disaster

here is your chance to find your own way. go on your own. be adventuresome. don't forever seek the easiest way. go the way you find. don't demand trail signs and sturdy bridges. don't demand we show you the mountains. see them and find them yourself. here's your chance to get lost, fall in the creek, find a beautiful place. -randy morgenson
This is what we bush whacked through

This week was my last big week of training before Run Rabbit Run and my last long run. After so many months of long run after long run it seems strange that this is the last. Not last for the year, but last of my big training. My legs have been feeling great lately and this week was no exception. I felt like I could power up every climb with little effort. Naturally I began to wonder if this meant I hadn't trained hard enough. In past years by the time tapering came around I was exhausted, completely worn down both physically and mentally. Now here I was feeling great! 

I'm hoping this means I'm really ready. I've logged more miles, more vertical and more long runs than I did last year. Hell I'm less than 300 miles from my yearly total last year! But there's always that nagging feeling that you should have done more. Well at this point if I should have done more all it is is a shoulda coulda woulda. I just have to trust my training, stay focused, healthy, rest and eat. 

After a week of great training my last run was a loop in Lost Creek with Sandra and Laurie. Sandra mapped out the route, we looked up the trail conditions, found water spots, we seriously thought we had covered everything and would have a nice easy 30 mile run. We started on the Colorado Trail at the Meadows campground. Its a pretty easy uphill from there to the Rolling Creek trailhead. When we got to RC Laurie was feeling great and decided to head back. Sandra commented that the mileage was a bit more than we had calculated and the run was looking to be closer to 34 miles. No big deal we thought, with not much vertical it should be fine. We continued to climb up the CT. It's another 6.5 miles of climbing and not an easy climb either. I somehow had put out of my mind how tough that climb can be. We finally crested the top and started heading down across the meadows. 
Brunch with Daddy

We hopped off the CT onto a couple smaller trails here Wigwam and something else. These were the ones I was most worried we would lose. But they turned out to be easy to follow and amazingly beautiful! My favorite part of the day. We cruised quickly along these flat sections and made up time quite nicely. Then we turned to head up Rolling Creek. I knew there would be some climbing, but wow it was reminiscent of climbing up Hope. It was really pretty steep, but we climbed strong and before too long were at the top. Since Laurie had agreed to get the car and come back to get us at the Rolling Creek trailhead we figured we had an easy 4-5 miles downhill. Ha...easy...yeah not so much. The top part of the trail was an old rock slide, which of course made me nervous. Monday would mark 2 years since Rob's accident and it was at the forefront of my mind. We picked our route carefully and were making decent progress when we stood at one carin with no idea where to go next.

We chose a direction and stuck to it...not that we chose the right direction though. Within minutes of making our choice we were scrambling down rocks and over dead fall. We pulled out the map but couldn't see the sign of a trail where there supposedly was one. So we kept going and we kept getting into thicker and thicker vegetation. After nearly 2 hours of going back and forth across the river, our legs shredded to bits and our minds going crazy with possible scenarios we heard a voice. We started calling out and realized we were just below the trail. We quickly popped up over a rock out crop to see an older couple staring at us like we were crazy. They kept asking if we were okay and we said yes, we had just lost the trail. I think we scared them nearly half to death, not sure if it was the surprise of two women lost in the woods or the sight of our bloody legs. 
Fun with sensory activities

It was quite the end to our training and all I can do now is hope I've done enough. I guess only time will tell. James has been doing great with communication lately. I can barely keep up with his list of signs. We still don't have James on a strict sensory diet yet, but the 'heavy work' we're having him do before he has one of his meltdowns or before eating seems to really be helping. I also notice more when he starts to seek out sensory activities and have been trying to turn it into a controlled sensory activity. James is also now full blown boy! He's kind of like a tornado that just blazes through in a glory of chaos and disaster! His favorite game is to throw his entire stack of cups down the stairs and then climb up the baby gate to watch them. He chases the dog non-stop and thankfully Seamus puts up with it pretty well. He usually just rolls his eyes at James knowing if he waits just a bit longer he'll probably get some of James' snack handed to him.The 30 seconds of attention James can give to his snacks is about the only moment of peace he allows before he goes running off hands above his head, mouth wide open screaming in joy! Then there is the occasional moment when in all the excitement of running he forgets to actually look where he's going and bounces straight off the wall. Chaos and disaster...I love life with my boys!

Week August 18 - 24

Miles Running: 64.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 13.5

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leadville 100 Race Report - Through the Eyes of the Crew

The plan for Leadville this year was to keep it simple. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top, no outside distractions. So we arrived in Leadville on Wednesday giving us a few days to ourselves to get prepped and to enjoy Leadville. And also to get me some good training. 
Ken Chlouber photo bombing Dan


Thursday Dan weighed in 20 lbs less than he did in 2013. This past year Dan has worked harder than I've ever seen him. He watched his weight, he trained...hard, he studied the course, he practiced his nutrition, he dialed in his gameplan. Everything had been thought through at least a dozen times...and then perfectly laid out in an 11x17 spreadsheet, complete with splits, nutrition, gear and notes. Friday was the pre-race briefing. I was pretty impressed with Lifetime. They didn't try to hide all the complaints from last year. They took responsibility for the way everything went down and talked about where they had worked to make improvements. With some final words from Ken Chlouber the runners were sent off to get some food and rest. At the last minute Dan decided he didn't want to stray from our weekly diet of pasta bolognese so instead of cheeseburgers we cooked up another big batch of gluten free pasta with my almost homemade bolognese sauce. He figured if it hadn't given him food poisoning yet it was probably safe. Good thing I made a Costco size batch before we left.

Dan at the starting line
The 2:00 am alarm rang bright and early on Saturday morning. Dan double checked all his gear, adjusted his headlamp and tried to get down some good calories. As we walked to the starting line you could just feel the energy coursing through the air. If you've never been to the start of a 100 it's hard to describe the electric energy, but everything is just buzzing and everyone is super excited. It was hard not to be a bit jealous that I wasn't lining up as well, but this year was about Dan. Then right at 4:00 am the gun went off and the runners took off down 6th street. I watched as they crested the hill before heading back to the car. I needed to try to get some sleep before heading to Outward Bound. 

A few hours later I was getting all of our crew gear ready when I quickly remembered to check the runner tracking. A slew of profanities flew out of my mouth as I read Dan had blazed through Mayqueen in 2:16...well ahead of his goal times. I yelled at the rest of the crew that we had to go if we were going to make it to Outward Bound in time. I have to say Lifetime did an outstanding job of re-configuring OB. The runners weren't playing tag with the cars and they were able to file us all in pretty quickly. Dan came through OB a little bit closer to his splits, but still ahead of schedule. We quickly refueled his bottles, switched out his EFS flask and sent him off through the fields, promising to see him in 4 miles.

Dan arrived at Treeline 40 minutes later and was starting to not look so great. We topped off all his fluids and calories as the sun was really starting to heat things up. I knew the 'climb' to Elbert wan't bad, but it's not as easy as it looks either, especially when you go into it not in a great place. Dan thought he just needed more calories and would be out of his bonk soon. The rest of us headed to Twin to get setup for Dan's pit stop before Hope and to get Ben off to Winfield.
Coming into Twin

The shuttles at Twin worked great, especially with us having James! The shuttle pulled right up to our car, we loaded all the gear and were set up at Twin within 10 min. I double checked all of Dan's gear for Winfield, made sure Ben got enough food and went over Ben's directions a couple more times. We had arranged for Ben to get out to Winfield with David's crew to hopefully not contribute to the Winfield parking lot. We ended up having a long time at Twin, James made loads of friends as he ran all over though. Finally Dan came through, about 10 minutes behind his splits, but still 5 min ahead of where I had been the year before. He was not looking good. He had bonked pretty hard on the Elbert climb and his legs had been cramping so for us it was all about getting him refueled, resunscreened, and geared up for Hope. Dan was still in good spirits just hoping that the hike would loosen up his legs a bit. He was stopped in Twin longer than I would have liked, but we still got him out pretty quickly.

While we waited for Dan to take on the double crossing Jason and I had to tend to James and maybe get some sleep ourselves. I was pretty nervous after seeing Dan at Twin so there was no way I could fall asleep. I just kept checking the tracker to see if Dan had made it to the top of Hope. Finally after I saw he made it I was able to get a restless 30 min of sleep. Then it was time to feed James, get him ready for bed and head back to Twin Lakes. 
Crew setup at Treeline

This time the shuttle wasn't running so I got in a nice 2 mile very fast hike in to the aid station. As daylight started fading I was beginning to get worried. I knew Dan was with Ben now so things should be good, but I just wanted them to come cruising in. When Dan finally emerged into Twin he was looking better than he had a day. I quickly re-fueled him, cleaned his feet, changed his shoes and loaded him up with his headlamp and warm clothes. And then off into the darkness Dan and Ben went. I had a long hike back to the car. I knew the wait at Treeline would be the longest and was hoping to catch a few minutes of sleep here. Unfortunately I didn't prepare for just how cold it would be waiting. I set everything up, grabbed a Dales and curled up in the backseat to try to sleep. But now I was worried that if the tracker didn't update fast enough that Dan had gotten into Half Pipe that I might miss him. I was way to paranoid to get any real sleep. Dan and Ben came walking in and I saw them right away. Dan was beginning to look exhausted so I knew we were going to be in for a long night. 
Dan coming down mini powerline

Four miles later, around 2:00 am, I was ready and waiting to take over pacing duties at Outward Bound. Dan had decided his malto mix wasn't doing it any more and he wanted ensure and more caffeine gel. Of course we were out of these by now so I did my best to reassure Dan that we were all set for the last 24 miles. We slowly walked out of Outward Bound as Dan munched some sandwiches to prepare for Powerline. Over the couple mile hike to Powerline all I heard was how Dan was going to dominate this climb. We didn't set any land speed records but Dan kept a really steady pace the whole time. I desperately tried counting the false summits but I think I counted around 10 so I must have been off somewhere. As we were nearing the top, just like every other runner out there Dan started to get really frustrated. He was exhausted and bonking, but didn't want to eat and was ready for the climb to just be done. And then seemingly out of nowhere we arrived at 'space camp'! It was awesome! A group of guys had setup this 'aid station' at the top of Powerline complete with whiskey, PBR, coke, water and pretzels. I grabbed a handful of pretzels and yelled at Dan to eat them. The first part heading down Sugarloaf is a pretty rocky jeep road and in the dark can be really frustrating. Dan kept wanting to go faster since it was a downhill, but the reality was it was slow going. Finally we hit the smooth Hagerman road and were able to start a shuffle/run. As we neared the Colorado Trail it got really quiet behind me so I did a quick check over my shoulder before nearly falling over laughing. Dan was completely asleep standing up in the middle of the road. I shook him awake and we proceeded down the CT to Mayqueen. 

Dan and I hit Mayqueen just before 6:00 am, giving us around 4 hr to get back to Leadville. I knew that was plenty of time, but we had to keep moving. Ben met us at the aid station and I felt terrible as all Dan wanted from the array of goodies was his sunglasses. I sent Dan ahead while I waited for his turkey wrap to get finished and tried to down some noodles myself. Dan had been worried that we didn't have enough fluids so I hadn't drank or ate anything since we left OB. I wasn't exactly moving very fast so I wasn't super worried. But I was really starting to get exhausted. I needed him to keep at least shuffling so I would stay awake. 
The Boulevard

The way back around Turquoise is LONG! It seriously feels like it never ends. And thinking about how fast you ran it the morning before makes it even worse. Dan's legs were tired, he was tired and he just wanted to be done. I would make him run some and then he would sit on a tree stump insisting he needed to rub out his legs. Eventually we made it to  the Boulevard...that's where the wheels started to fall off. Apparently Dan had over looked the fact that the Boulevard is basically a gradual uphill for 5 miles. Needless to say he was not impressed. So we started playing the run to the next flag game, then everyone around us joined in and before we knew it there was a sizeable group of runners all running down the Boulevard joking and laughing. Okay maybe it was just the pacers that were actually joking and laughing. But either way it was a great time and made the miles go by a bit faster. As we turned onto 6th I shot out a quick text to the crew so they'd be there waiting. And then we crested the hill and headed down to the finish line. Dan wasn't sure of his ability to hold James as he crossed so we all crossed together, James running the red carpet!
Finisher!

Merilee may be one of the most beloved figures at Leadville. After she hugged Dan and hung his medal around his neck she pulled me aside to wrap James and I in a hug. She just stared at James, stroking his hair and then turned to look me in the eye and tell me what a an amazing and special child he is. She didn't need to say anything more, it was a moment that made my heart melt. It was the moment that makes Leadville what it is. You can't explain it, it's just a feeling that whether you're a runner, a pacer or a spectator you feel it and it keeps drawing you back. Leadville...we'll see you next year! 

Week August 11 - 17

Miles Running: 80.8
Hours Hiking and Running:14.5



No Leadville 100 is complete without cheesy fries!




James was the most exhausted of all of us!