A blog about Trace and her races.

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Why I Want Boston (Again)

Boston 2017!

Boston 2017!

THE REASON

A week ago today, I qualified for Boston Marathon. Seven months ago, almost to the day, I lost my friend Rudy. I wanted to do something special to honor his memory and running the marathon again would be it.  I know it isn’t true, but it feels as more and more time passes, our dear friend Rudy is mentioned less and less. Like I said, I know it’s not true, but it bothers me. Life goes on. Things get easier with time. Blah, blah, blah.

I remember how excited he was for his friends that were qualifying or running Boston Marathon. So much so, that I left my only Boston Marathon medal with him at his service. To me it wasn’t a big deal to let it go, and to be quite honest, I’ve never had an interest in running it again — until two months ago when I made this decision.

I was a little dramatic when coming to that decision because there was only one Boston qualifying race left in Oregon which was 9 days before I could register: What if I cannot qualify? It had been three years since I ran my last marathon. What if I can no longer run fast? What if my hip starts hurting again?  My coach, Andy Noise helped me realize that I only needed to qualify and that I didn’t have to commit to a sub-3 or anything near it. Just qualify and worry about running fast in Boston next year. (more…)


Next Up: MUC 50

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Wow, it’s 2015 and already halfway through January – time comes and goes so quickly! I have really been on the fence lately about which races I want to focus on this year and I am finally making progress (at least for the first half of the year). Late last year, I registered for Sean O’Brien 100K (SOB) which is just around the corner on 2/7. At first I was really excited and then my excitement started to wane once Coach and I started talking about marathons. As much as I love being out on the trails, there is competitive side in me that loves a painful marathon. Training and planning 50-milers and marathons together is a challenge already – throwing in a 100K just because is a different story: Lots of recovery and lots of excessive miles on my legs and less races on my calendar cumulatively.

This last week I decided to race Marin Ultra Challenge 50 (MUC)again for the third time on 3/14. This race will replace SOB. I LOVE this course – it’s definitely not an easy one, having over 11,000ft of climbing with one pretty loooooooong hill that I can barely get up hiking. I try not to think of the super hard sections – I know they are there and that is enough for me to know. No play-by-play recaps until I get close to the event so that I can focus on being tough instead of worried or scared.  I will start to get more consistent with my training, run a 50k at the end of this month and maybe a half or some other short-er type of even in February before the big day.

I spent all day yesterday and this morning in San Francisco with my friend Stacie – we are so excited about the race that we decided we’d run a large portion of the course at a conversational pace. Trust me when I say that it is very rare and unlike me to run more 20-25 miles in one day, but it does happen on occasion. We had a phenomenal day – ran from the city and across the empty Golden Gate Bride and right to the race start. We ran the first section up and through SCA and then we were gone. Before we knew it, we were halfway done with our run and at Muir Beach. I suggested we go through one of my favorite sections of the course, Middle Green Gulch, which is a super long climb with lots of switchbacks. This was only one of a few hills where I took off and forced myself to envision myself right there on race day. Gosh, it felt so good, I felt so strong and I am glad I did it so I can remember this spot with a positive memory. One less thing to occupy my mind with later. 🙂

Anyway, after a solid 7 hours running, and 35 miles, we found ourselves back at her house devouring whatever food we could find until we could get some real food. We both looked at each other and said, “Can you believe we only need 15 more miles to get 50?” We both laughed, we had an amazing day and are really looking forward to this race.

As for my marathon, I am looking into a May/June event. OC on 5/3? This is the race I ran and broke my foot at mile 20 – not the best last memory. Read about that here. Or, Eugene on 5/10? Finish on the track. Not sure yet, but training begins regardless.

If you are interested in reading my re-caps from the last two years at this event, you can find them here:

2013
2014


My ‘A’ Race of 2014

This view never gets old. I love running in SF. Thanks, Nate Dunn for the photo.

This view never gets old. I love running in SF. Thanks, Nate Dunn for the photo.

Since the first day of last year, I knew my ‘A’ race would be the North Face 50 (SF) in December. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t imagine myself somewhere in the Headlands, imagining how good it was going to hurt. Every tough workout, every time my legs screamed and my lungs burned, every time I climbed the 2-mile Wellbarn fire road climb at the end of a killer trail run, I would pretend it was THAT race. I sacrificed a lot of local racing throughout the year to avoid burnout for this end of the year race.  I had high hopes. I was confident. And I believed I had it in me to battle the whole way. I didn’t.

My race was cut short at mile 28 when I decided to drop. My body was fighting me for last 8 miles. My quads, hammies and back were cramping. I knew I was doing the right thing when I called it. It hurt, but I needed to be smart. Today, as I sat in a cafe talking to a friend, she asked me what my true running goals were. Like did I have something major I wanted to accomplish? The answer for me was simple, and it really confirmed that I did do the right thing. My answer: I just want to be able to run. There is no doubt that I am a competitor and that I will continue to compete, but that is just a bonus to huge blessing already bestowed upon me.

That day in the headlands was a big reflection of my personal life and struggles. I needed to let go. I needed to be realistic and stop trying to fix things or hang on to things that were broken. Things that I thought were so important to me. Things that I thought I needed. Things that couldn’t heal themselves with more time, more talks or miles. This race outcome was the closure that I needed to start a fresh new chapter of my life. It felt really good. I feel really good. I feel hopeful, happy and refreshed for a beautiful new year filled with new opportunities and experiences.

Here was my immediate Facebook post after my race:

I dropped at 28. At mile 19 I stopped to stretch quad and my hamstring cramped too. Then it was my back. I was strong until that point and took a break at 28 then stated again, but I had to stop. Then I tried again and stopped. I walked back to the aid, visibly upset, but it was the best decision for me. Not happy, but there was no way I could run downhill for five miles and that is when I decided to call it. Omg I hope you never experience hamstring cramps – nearly made me scream like a girl. I literally saw all of your faces during that moment of me needing to drop – I had to do it, and hated having to relay this message about the drop. This is what makes ultras unique – anything can happen even when you feel you you are complete ready. Thanks for all the well wishes and support – it means a lot to me.

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San Joaquin River Trail 50 – A Home Away From Home

MIle 16-ish.

MIle 16-ish.

“Roll, won’t you come roll with me, slow, fast, full speed…”

 These were the lyrics I played over and over on my shuffle and in my head for the last 8 miles or so and in review they fit so perfectly well with the rhythm of my race, or at least that’s how I thought it played out – my splits could say otherwise.

I can honestly say I am proud of myself for this performance – it has been a trying past few months, but somehow I managed to keep it together. Today I ran smart – not too fast, but good enough to enjoy this incredibly beautiful and challenging course AND take the top third spot and F1. The course was gorgeous, the aid was perfect and I got really teary-eyed near the finish because I have the privilege to run and race with such good friends. So proud of everyone today, definitely a special day! 8:26:35.

 

 

 

 


An Angel Named Heaven

 

She did it - Triathalon complete for Heaven!

She did it – Triathalon complete for Heaven!

A few weeks ago I was asked to be the running guide for Heaven during her run portion of the iCanTri here in Fresno and without hesitation, my answer was YES! You see, Heaven is 10 years old and is blind. The opportunity to guide her on a one mile run around a grassy and bumpy high school may have been to help her, but in the end, it was obvious that she would be the guide for so many of us who let small obstacles stand in our way when trying to reach our goals.

I only met Heaven the morning of the race and I was very nervous to guide her without prior training with her. In 2011, I was one of two guides for my now good friend Adrian for the Surf City Half Marathon and I will say it again, it was actually him who helped me because at the end of the day, he inspired me through all of our training runs, forgave me for the many accidents I caused (forgetting to tell him that there was a curb coming up, or a tree branch near his head, or a pack of cyclists heading our way through Griffith Park!) and helped me with a huge PR. He taught me a lot about the human spirit and what we can achieve all by effort and attitude. Read about that race experience here.

For this event with Heaven, she started out with a swim, followed by bike and then the run. When she got to the bike/run transition, she was so calm – it was as if there were no concerns. She was there to do something and there wasn’t anything going to get in the way of that or anything else she wants from life. She did great and finished strong and happy, not to mention she inspired many.  It was a great day — thank you, Heaven!


Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

It’s been a busy summer so far, too bad it seems like such a blur. Priorities always have to take precedence – even when it comes to running so I have found myself working a lot and other things, some small running too.

I got an email from a friend of mine in Southern Cali – letting me know that there was photo of me in the current issue of Ultra Running Magazine. Funny, I had already forgotten about the Marin Ultra Challenge, but it reminded me that I do race and I miss racing so badly!

I don’t race again until September here in Fresno and then again in November and finally,  December so I have been treating myself to doing whatever I want until it is crucial that I am on a strict training regime. I guess my biggest concern is getting burned out before showtime.

Here is what I have been up to:

Runners of all ages trying to beat the heat and stay fit during the Fresno summer. Sole 2 Soul 5K Summer Series.

 

Sole 2 Soul Summer Series – we decided to put on a 5K summer series for the community. $5 for a chip-timed 5K – six of them total, all in the evenings at 7pm. It’s over 100 degrees here in the summer, so it has been a beautiful thing to see hundreds of runners show up to this event, trying to stay fit, even in the blazing heat. It’s been nothing more than fulfilling running around like crazy, making sure everything will happen without a hitch and that everyone finishes with a smile on their face. In a weird way, I feel like this series is far more important than me running a race of my own for personal results. I have met some amazing individuals at the event and I look forward to many more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Thursday we have Group Fun Runs starting from the River Park store at 7pm. These runs have proven to be enjoyable for me (and hopefully for everyone who attends).

Such a great group of people - some regulars and some newbies!

Such a great group of people – some regulars and some newbies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not too many epic adventures in the running department although I did head over to Santa Cruz to escape some negativity and for some fresh air. Didn’t get in nearly enough miles as I’d like to, but it was enough to help clear my head.

A beautiful place to run and escape reality.

A beautiful place to run and escape reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana del Oro Group Run – Sole 2 Soul put together another annual group run at Montana del Oro. It was so amazing to see how many people made the 2hour+ trek from Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. I counted around 60 runners from all the photos – most runners news to trails (which excited me the most). It was a long journey for the 10-miles I ran, but you quickly forget all that when you are with great company and trying to keep up with the boys (Cody, Matthew, David, etc.). I am anxiously anticipating our next Fall adventure in the same area.

All smiles at Montana del Oro.

All smiles at Montana del Oro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night running – it’s been hard to get out to the trails (half hour away) and still make it to work on time so I asked my friend Kristen E to join me for a night run in Auberry. To my surprise, her immediate response was, “YES!” And so we did it. This wasn’t my first night-time excursion in the dark, but it was my first time running at night in this area and only with one person. Maybe not the smartest or safest decision, but it went very well and it was enjoyable. We got to the trails aroun 11:30pm with intentions of running 19 miles, but as we got deeper into the run, little voices in my head told me that turning around early was a better decision. Kristen was right there with me with that decision and we got back to the car at nearly 2am. This will definitely a repeat adventure, but probably with a group of people for safety reasons. The only scary thing we encountered were black widows and they were everywhere!

"Ok, we made it to the bridge, now let's get the heck out of here!"

“Ok, we made it to the bridge, now let’s get the heck out of here!”

 

 

 

 

 


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The World is My Gymnasium…

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My Day Running in Marin: MUC50 Recap

 

Thank you Myles for always somehow making me look decent while running! Photo Credit: Michigan Bluff Photography

Thank you Myles for always somehow making me look decent while running! Photo Credit: Michigan Bluff Photography

Two weeks ago today, I was on a 50-mile journey, running all around the headlands, climbing some pretty brutal trails giving witness to some of the most gorgeous views in that area.  I reflect back and I swear I feel something tingle inside me and I am overjoyed – not because I took home the W, but because I can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of something so wonderful and fulfilling. I feel whole running my heart out and it’s easy for me to understand  that I need it. Anyway, back to the race…

This event, the Marin Ultra Challenge 50 was heavy on my mind as the race date drew near. There was never a part of me that didn’t want to race it, but like I had mentioned in previous post, I have been training, but only got bitten by the race bug recently, and I had a few personal things on my plate that took precedence.

As I confirmed my registration with Tim, the RD for Inside Trail, I suddenly remembered the brutal course and I was excited – it’s like the pain of getting your bare ass smacked and then the calming feeling of it being rubbed out. Except the ass smacking is the hill climbing and the  is the view(s). Weird? I can’t explain it, I guess.  Well, either way, I new it would be a tough race course since an extra 1,000 feet of elevation was added to bring the course near the original route it was two years ago.  I ran it last year, and it was stunning, but it looped several times through Tennessee Valley, and didn’t include the single-track Miwok trail, Dipsea stairs or the amazing view of Stinson Beach. Like I said earlier, this race felt like a journey, and an amazing one at that!

The morning of race day, I felt so fresh and rested and I was extremely happy about that since I had only three days before caught a cold, not to mention that I hadn’t run one single step in a whole week which happened to be the day of my last half marathon trail race. I did have one potentially big problem though: I had woken up with major cramps and that had me worried I’d start my period during the race. D and I left the hotel that was just a small ride away from the race start to see if I could buy tampons at the gas station and of course, it was too early to be open. Luckily once at the start line, an Inside Trail volunteer helped me out with this problem and I put them in my handheld in case of an emergency (Thank you!). Luckily, there was never an emergency so not much more drama to discuss in this dept. 🙂

D, Kristin and I as the start of the race.

D, Kristin and I as the start of the race.

As the race started D, Kristin and I started out together.  The plan, or lack of plan was to enjoy the day, not go out too fast and really power hike up and pound the downs and WIN. This was D’s suggestion to me (not the winning part), and he wasn’t there to ‘race’, he was there because it brought him back to his first-ever ultra marathon — one he says was brutal and maybe one he wasn’t ready for on his first go-round. Fast-forward to now and you’d be surprised to know that. He was also there to be my companion and keep me focused on the simple game-plan. Kristin, like me had also ran the race last year and she had been working her tail off to take some major time off last year (even with the additional elevation gain). I was stoked for her as I had been witnessing her long training sessions with Oswaldo and Armando weekend after weekend.

Since the race started an hour and a half before sunrise, we took it super easy up Coastal Trail for the first three miles, with Kristin generously lighting our way with her headlamp. Before I knew it, Ken Michel’s headlamp was guiding light and the three of us chatted for a short bit. Kristin had mentioned feeling a little uncomfortable with technical and downhill since she fell last year and got pretty banged up. I think it was this point that she decided to hang back a bit. I didn’t see her for the rest of the race, but she did end up lopping off a whole hour off her time and without one scrape! Way to go Kristin!

Last year I remember everyone trying to go out super fast on this first part of the course, I jumped out the way to let them by and before you know it, I had caught almost all of them by the time I finished. It’s getting easier to stay on a great pace early when you look at your pace per mile with 49 or so miles to go and realize that if ANY of us stay on that pace, we would be breaking course records by hours. LOL

As the sun started to rise, I felt that the race had finally begun, but not after our small group had accidentally stayed straight instead of turning right to get to Rodeo Beach. Luckily some car parked out that direction told us no racers had yet ran by and we quickly turned around and got back on track. Not a big deal…maybe 4 minutes lost and at least now we were awake.

Still bundled together a little after leaving Rodeo, we found ourselves climbing Bunker Road, going under tunnels and meeting Bunker Road again, but noticing a whole lot of people instead went straight up Bunker Road (similar to the Headlands Hundred course). The lead lady Luanne made sure to let them know that they had cut a significant portion off the course by doing that. Of course it was accidental and we still had over 45 miles to concern ourselves with.

So I said that I woke up feeling great, well except the cramps…this changed a bit for me, partially physically and mostly mentally. The physical part was my left calf on the verge of cramping – this kept my mind going in circles about what to do. I definitely didn’t want to stretch it out or put anymore pressure on it, so I made sure to stay off my toes on the ups, took in lots of extra fluids and started taking salt tabs early. The calf would go on to bother me for about 25 miles until I got too distracted to notice it anymore. The mental part was dealing with a different race plan. I didn’t like how slow we were going (or how slow it felt) and I was worried about losing time on the back end. It was even harder seeing the lead woman (Louann) fluctuating between 100 yards to about a half mile in front of us. She obviously had a game plan of not hiking – ever. I kept telling myself that what we were doing was the right thing and the hardest part of the race had yet to come. I’d catch her eventually and hopefully have a strong second half of the race instead of trying to blast uphill early and suffer later.

Pretty much in D's shadow as he ran me through mile 34.

Pretty much in D’s shadow as he ran me through mile 34. Photo Credit: Michigan Bluff Photography

Not once did I look at my pace during the race, but I did keep an eye out for the 22-mile mark as that was where we would have to death march up Willow Camp Fire Rd for nearly two miles. D and I just caught the leader (Luanne) at Stinson Beach and I was now focused on staying up ahead. The climb though…it was ridiculously hard to even hike up. I kept telling myself that this is the hardest part of the race and once we were past this hill, I could focus on the second half of the race and look forward to the nearly 3-mile decline to the finish.

With nearly a 5.3 mile stretch between aid stations starting from the base of the climb, D and I had found ourselves low on water (one handheld) and as we headed into a public part of the park, we patiently waited in line at the public water fountain to fill our water bottles. We were getting a little impatient with a hiker, who saw that we were in a race and continued to fill his whole 2-Liter hydration pack before allowing us to get in there.  I remember turning around and seeing a different woman on my tail. This scared the crap out of me – she seemed to have come out of nowhere since  D and I had been pretty much alone from miles 5-20 until we caught Louann and then after Willow Camp, we caught up to Mark Tanaka and about two or three other guys. I filled up only half way and took off, it was time to GO and I would try my best to not look back for the rest of the race.

As I finally got to mile 27.7 mile aid station, I already had the lid off my bottle, as nicely as I could sound, yelled, “water!” and then I took off, screwing the cap back on while running.  D was behind me, he didn’t hurry through the aid station and I was able to run with Mark again.  For the next 6 miles or so, I ran crazy and quickly as I could down some gorgeous, yet extremely technical trails that consisted of big tree roots and some wood stairs. All I could hope for was to NOT fall or get passed. I also had to pee, which was very annoying. I had already peed twice during the race, one of them on a downhill, which in retrospect is not where you want to lose time — save it for an up when everyone else is slow too. Reluctantly I asked Mark, whom I have raced with at Javelina and this same race last year, if it would be OK if I just peed on myself because I didn’t want to get passed. He said ‘elite’ women do that all the time and I just laughed to myself because I am so not an elite. LOL. I ended up holding it for 20 miles until I finished the race.

The great thing about this ‘scare’ of getting caught was that before I knew it, I only had 10-miles to go once I found myself at Muir Beach. My Garmin Fenix was half dead since mile 29 and that is how it would read for the rest of the race.

As I left Muir Beach, I had gotten ahead of Mark and his small group and caught one guy named Rich as we climbed up Green Gulch Trail. This was another bitch of a climb, but I was very familiar as we had to climb it twice last year and I knew exactly what to expect. As I passed him, he was beyond encouraging and I remembered that ultra runners are just so motivating and generous with encouragement. This climb kind of zigzagged and allowed me to see who was behind me without having to look back. Whenever he suspected I looked his direction, he would give me a thumbs up. This small gesture really made everything a lot easier.

Getting back on the Miwok Trail from there, I caught up to two guys who I thought were racing until I realized they didn’t seem to mind me passing them and kept up their loud and friendly conversation with each other.  And because they seemed to be taking it easy, I asked if they were in the race and they confirmed that they were.

As I got in to Tennessee Valley around mile 44, I asked the aid station how much farther we had – he said about 5.3 miles. I heard him and I know what 5.3 miles is, but since my watch wasn’t showing mileage anymore and because I was still kind of frazzled from running like a bat out of hell to get away from her and to the finish line, I thought I had 5.3 to the next aid station and needed to climb out of Tennessee Valley which does not make sense since I just left from there in  a different direction.

Sticking to the game plan as I did all day, I hiked up Marincello Trail, thinking I had farther to go than I actually did. When I realized my mistake, I only had a bit over 3 miles to go and I hauled in to the finish feeling so strong.  I had no idea what my time would be, but as I crossed the finish, I came in at 8:41:54 as the first female and 7th overall. Laura, who had caught me earlier came in around 9:12, and Luanne came in at 9:19. Both of these women ran very strong races and I was glad to be in their company.

Mark Tanaka and I post-race. We were both happy and he was teasing me that even though I beat him, he was 2-minutes closer to catching me than last year. He said that this means he will catch me in a few year. :)

Mark Tanaka and I post-race. We were both happy and he was teasing me that even though I beat him, he was 2-minutes closer to catching me than last year. He said that this means he will catch me in a few year. 🙂

I know I made this recap very long, but I don’t want to forget any of it. Huge thanks to D, for keeping me smart and focused when I doubted the race plan, to Mark for always motivating me along the course, listening to me talk about peeing my pants (or potentially peeing my pants) and for letting me sneak in ahead of him again this year, and also to Inside Trail — the race was flawless, the aid-stations were great, the volunteers, awesome. I apologize if in my worried frenzy, I came through the aid stations like a bull. 🙂 And finally, thank you Tim for welcoming me back again for back-to-back wins. I will be back and this next time, I already have a game plan.

 

 


A Slow Start to the New Year

The trails that helped me get my mojo back!

The trails that helped me get my mojo back!

I know I have been really quiet here, but it wasn’t  until recently that I started racing again.  Don’t get me wrong, since the first of the year, I have been training, but I had to take some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to be doing and until I felt I got my motivation to put myself back out there on a a race course. Let’s not forget that I am just getting settled in my new life here in Central California, (which has been amazing BTW, and one of my best adult decisions to date) and I have had to prioritize a few things before I got carried away and over-committed to racing. 

After Javelina at the end of October, I decided to give myself plenty of time to recover and renew from all the racing and training that I had done for 10-months prior. This decision forced me to back out of The North Face Endurance Challenge held in December (SF) and I  pretty much didn’t do any type of exercise.  I look back and I am glad that I took a break, I am never one for quantity anyway; if I am going to race, I am there to run like it matters.

Almost all of my training so far has been solo and mostly on the trails of Auberry, near to where I now live. I have yet to do any speed work (well, I did do one) although I will be adding it to the mix very soon. Every run and every chance to get out there has been wonderful and luckily, I felt the break had actually done me good – I feel very strong!

Feeling like myself again!

Feeling like myself again!

Trying to put together a strategic and successful racing schedule together, I registered and got into Way Too Cool 50K (WTC) on 3/8. At the time I put in for the lottery (December), I felt a little pressure because this race along with Miwok 100k and San Diego 100 all required early registration for the lottery process and I didn’t really want to fork out all the money in a week if I so happened to get into them all. I took the chance with WTC and I got in. Couple that with the fact that I had just announced that I would be a part of the 2014 Pearl Izumi Ultra Team, and I thought I was on cloud-9…until the motivated quickly went away.

After spending quite a bit of time thinking it over, I decided that I would not race WTC and that I would leave the team. I will say it again and again, “if I am not motivated to do something, I just can’t do it.” Weirdly after I made those decisions and focused on consistent training, all the racing excitement came back again. THANK GOD!

A last minute decision to race The San Joaquin River Trail Half Marathon (same day as WTC) — the same trails I run regularly, gave me something to focus on and enjoy. The minute I crossed the finish line, I was already planning my next race: Marin Ultra Challenge 50.  So far, so good. 🙂

Winning on my home turf felt good. Good race, great people.

Winning on my home turf felt good. Good race, great people.


First Day Back!

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I was so bummed when I got sick last week so early in the year. You know how it is, starting the new year fresh, excited to start logging miles consistently and then BOOM – lots of time off fighting some disgusting bug that wants to take over your body.  For the first few days I just laid in bed fighting fever and body aches and when that subsided, the phlegm and congestion took over. Inside I was furious and seriously worried about how this could affect my 50K in early March because it seemed like everyone who was getting over the flu (or whatever it is/was), had been fighting it for over a month.

Thank goodness I  started feeling better early this week – everyday I feel like I am improving. I am not all that furious after all – I guess it could have been worse getting sick closer to my race and that is what I keep telling myself.  After a week of no running, I finally was able to lace up and get back at it. Today I logged 13.1 miles in the Kaiser Wilderness.  It was supposed to be a 19-mile loop starting at Upper Creek (horse stables) through the peak and then around Billy Creek before heading back to the stables, but it didn’t quite work out that way. No big deal. About a mile or so after passing Kaiser Peak, it became impossible to recognize the trail that would take us to Billy Creek. It was nearly 2pm and falling in and out of knee deep snow (ouch) searching for it no longer seemed like a good plan, so we turned back around and finished the way we had hiked in. Really great day.

 

 

 

 


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Pic of the Day: Always Running

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MY RUNNING GEAR PICKS: 2013

My journey to trail running and ultra racing began around the middle of 2012 after a devastating foot injury that abruptly ended my track season (5K). I was absolutely devastated, taking tons of time off to really heal – road biking and aquajogging to maintain some kind of fitness.  My friend Ashley had already been putting the bug in my ear to start racing them with her every since she completed Avalon 50 in January that year. Finally, after being a part of her crew for San Diego 100, I finally saw the light. Total light-bulb-in-the-dark-kind-of-thing. I was amazed and impressed and I knew that is what I wanted to do. Before I knew it, it was July and I was registered for Cuyamaca 100K with her and we were going down for a 50K (!) course training run. This would be my longest run distance EVER, and it was the day I realized I knew NOTHING about trail running or ultras including all the things you actually need and not just because they look good. Read about this dreadful 50K training run here.
Although I still feel new to ultra running, I have trained, raced, crewed and paced enough to experiment with gear and nutrition to know what works for me and to know exactly what I like.
Here is a short list of items that I believe in — all of them carried me through 2013 and I feel confident in recommending them to anybody.

SHOES: PEARL IZUMI

Trail – E:Motion N1 – $125 (www.pearlizumi.com)

Love on the trail!

Love on the trail!

I bet you saw this coming, especially after my announcement about joining Team Pearl Izumi -Ultra a week or so ago.  Well let me tell you – I don’t promote stuff I don’t believe in, and, I won’t be on just any team for the shoes. My love for the brand happened after I received my first new pair of TN1’s for my birthday in March. Until that moment, I was having problems finding the right trail shoe. I just couldn’t find anything that I liked, I was experiencing nagging injuries and I was discouraged. At first I was nervous to train and race in a light and neutral shoe because I thought I needed more support and cushion for steep descents and rough terrain, but they actually worked out great…AND looked sexy! The rock plate saved my toe nails more times than I can count after accidentally “kicking rocks” and the traction was enough to keep me upright (most of the time – I have a tendency to fall — A LOT, out of clumsiness).  I tried and tested these shoes climbing to Mt. Baldy, raced Leona Divide 50 (dnf), took them to the Sierras, to Bishop, paced at San Diego 100 and finally trained and raced in them at Los Pinos 50k. I just love these shoes! After logging in more miles than I should have, I finally, and reluctantly tossed them – but not before receiving a pair of shoes for winning Los Pinos 50K. Guess what shoe I chose? Yep, N1s but in a different color (thank you Steve, Carlos and Run With Us). Note: The N1 has a 1MM drop. And for distances longer than 50K, I prefer to run/race in the N2 for extra protection from long hours of pounding and more technical terrain.

Road – E:Motion M3 – $125 (www.pearlizumi.com)

A few months after getting my N1s, I decided to give the road shoes a try. Although I wear a neutral shoe without any issues, I slightly pronate on the right side. The Pearl Izumi M3 seemed like the best fit as I wanted a shoe with  light stability and decent cushion for loading on my weekday miles on the road in preparation for my marathon. I was extremely pleased when I opened the shoe box – they looked amazing, and the colors were so bright and bold. After logging nearly 100 miles,  I had became a full-fledged Pearl Izumi fan.  I ended up racing in them for my marathon to as I had only trained on the road in this model.  Typically I would have chosen a lighter racing shoe (Road M1), but since I didn’t train in them, I didn’t race in them.  I prefer wearing a more cushioned road shoe when I log in higher mileage on the road – kinda makes me feel safe (from injuries), my legs and feet feel less fatigued the following day, and when I switch to a lighter road shoe for speed work and tempos, I really feel like I am flying! Note: This shoe has a 4mm drop.

SOCKS

Injinji – $12-$15 (www.injinji.com)

RUN 2.0 Original Weight Mini-Crew

RUN 2.0 Original Weight Mini-Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I swear by these socks and until someone tries them, they are a little weird-ed out by the toe sock theme. I wear injinjis during all my runs – to help keep a lot of the dirt out between my toes that would otherwise rub and cause blisters. I also like my feet to feel dry and since my toes don’t touch skin to skin, I never have to think about it and get grossed out again! After long trail runs it’s funny to compare my feet to someone who is wearing regular socks – mine come out dirty, but WAY more clean. Admittedly, they do feel weird until you put your shoes on then you don’t think about it again.

There are three thicknesses – Lightweight, Original Weight and Midweight. I only run in Original and Midweight and I wear Lightweight to work or whenever I wear regular shoes that require socks.  I prefer running with the No-Show on the road and Mini-Crew on the trail to keep debris out.  Not much else to say here except to TRY THEM! Oh yeah, I saw on FB that they were going to be coming out with some crew length styles in 2014 – YES!

HYDRATION  PACK

UltrAspire – ~$55 (www.ultraspirestore.com)

UltrAspire Spry Racing Vest

UltrAspire Spry Racing Vest

When I first started trail running, I took  my pink 1.5 L Camelback everywhere until I started having a few issues: back chafing on my spine and pilling on the front of my favorite running tops from the straps rubbing. Because I didn’t just have the money to simply replace it, I started using handhelds. One morning LeftLane sports  had a special on UltrAspire packs for 50% off and I jumped on it immediately and bought the Spry (1L) pack without the bladder.  Like I said, I really started to like carrying handhelds – and, if I really needed a bladder, I could purchase on separately.  I used this pack for a while and really, really liked  (liked as in past tense because I no longer have it – another story I will have to tell later) for several reasons:

Color – I am not the biggest fan of primary colors and I especially don’t want a pack that is solid red or blue (too plain, boring and unisex looking) – I want something bright and pretty. This lavender-like color coupled with the slate grey was definitely a keeper.

Comfort: With this pack, or racing pack as it is referred to on their site, is really small and lightweight.  It scored huge points since I could run in a sports bra without chafing and scabbing my spine (or anywhere else). I did also test this pack with a shirt and didn’t have any issues with pilling.  Another thing I liked was the breathability – the mesh all around pack didn’t have me over heating.
Versatility:  Since I didn’t use this pack with a bladder, it instead became very useful for carrying all the other stuff I “must-have” with me when I am running or racing and can’t fit it all in my handheld pockets or fanny pack.  I utilized the bladder section to hold my jacket or any peeled layers. I could store my empty or full Amphipod bottle there too – these bottles have a flat back to them that sit comfortably against my back instead of a typical cylinder-like bottle.
There are three front pockets – two large and one small magnetic closing pocket. I always regretted having a pack with pockets located on the back because I’d have to take it off just to access something I needed — not very convenient nor efficient. The left-side pocket has a zipper closure and I liked to stow my cell phone or camera (I am sure you can relate to this challenge). The right-side pocket has an elastic drawstring type closure that was big enough to put a bottle of water (my least favorite use) – I preferred to store my gels, RunGaurd, small first-aid kit and whatever else I thought I needed that day. BTW, there is a small mesh storage space on the outside of the zippered pocket that is great for storing gel wrappers.  Finally, the Magnon Electrolyte Pocket™ – a very small convenient pocket that is closed by the force of a small magnet — brilliant. This water-proof (well, it seemed like it was water-proof) pocket held my ibuprofen and salt pills naked – I didn’t have to store them in a baggy to keep them dry there. Very convenient to access when running and moving. I like to keep a few bobby pins in there too since they don’t get lost and are typically stuck to the magnet.
I mentioned earlier that this pack can utilize a 1L bladder that is sold on their site. This pack wasn’t really made for long treks, it’s more of a lightweight racing pack, but there are several other models available (including a 2L option).  This pack holds a little more than 1-1/2 standard handhelds out there. It is much smaller than my 1.5 liter Camelbak (about the same as 2-1/2 handhelds).

RUNNING BELT

Fitletic Ultimate Running Belt – $27.95 (www.fitletic.com)

www.fitletic.com $27.95

I posted about this belt in February 2011 and I still use same belt and still highly refer it (they last a long time and are very durable)! When I bought it, it was called an ifitness belt while now, the company seems to have re-branded and is now calling it Fitletic.  I use this belt when I carry handhelds so I can have a safe (and dry) place to store my phone and more room to place my gels. I have copied and pasted what I had previously said about it below (changing the name to Fitletic to be more current):
With all the stuff I carry with me, I need somewhere to put it. I started with the Spibelt but everything was flopping around all over the place and I ended up getting bruises from it. I didn’t like the fact that I had to carefully pack the items inside to keep it from flopping. During a run or race, you have you need out of it without even looking down at it. The iFitness belt is really comfortable, doesn’t budge and it is also made of a neoprene fabric that protects the stuff inside from getting wet: cell phone, salt pills, etc.   As a side note, I use the Ultimate Running Belt Style since it has particular places to hold the gels and I can also attach my racing bib to it.

HYDRATION BOTTLE

Hydraform Handheld Pocket™ – 20oz. – $19.50 (www.amphipod.com)

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I have tried so many other branded water bottles, but this is the one for me. I avoided buying this one for the longest time because of the color. Yes, I said that. After trying it out, I try to only use this one. The design is ergonomic and hit fits comfortably in your hand. It’s easy to pull the top open and it’s easy to close. I remember after breaking my finger that I quickly grabbed a different water bottle before my run and I had problems squeezing the water out because my finger was absolutely useless – it was this run that confirmed why I like it. I don’t want to struggle or have my hand in a position that is uncomfortable for hours on end. It’s just really a no-fuss, easy-to-use type of bottle. Several other styles available.


Christmas 2013

This year for Christmas, D and I headed to Colusa – we had a great time, ate a little too much red meat (did I just admit that?) and D was able to run with me for his first run since double foot surgery! We really did have a great time and this time, I was finally able to bond with Rupert, the male goat in these photos. I just love Rupert and Ida – they are so funny, as long as I don’t look into their crazy eyes, I am alright with them!


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Truth

Truth

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Napoleon Hill


Change of Plans: The North Face Endurance Challenge (TNF50)

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So, about little over a month ago I sent my running bio/resume in to  be considered for a spot in the The North Face Endurance Challenge – this was after Ian Sharman retweeted something about them opening a few slots for elite athletes in the 50-miler championships.

The truth was, I really wanted an opportunity to race in this uber competitive 50-miler that just so happens to be on my favorite training ground. The problem was that by the time I realized this, the race was already sold out and chances to get in were impossible.

Within a few days of submitting, I received a code to enter into the race with a nice email, congratulating me on a great 2013 race season and well wishes in hopefully finishing out my season with a great race at the event.  Of course I was elated at the last-minute opportunity, but I was also very mindful to not get ahead of myself and spend a lot of time thinking about it when I first had to get through Javelina which was only a few weeks away.

Today, after I received an email reminder that the event was only four weeks away; I decided that I would not race in this event and sent an email right away in hopes that someone else could fill that spot and to avoid being a no-show or ungrateful for the opportunity.

My reasons are simple – I haven’t been running much since Javelina because I want to make sure that I am FULLY recovered, I am not as excited about it now as I was when I first entered which will definitely play a part in my race performance, and finally, because racing needs to take a back burner for the remainder of the year.

Am I a little disappointed? Yes, but I know this is the best decision and it is the right decision. Going into 2014 healthy is also a priority and I would be devastated if I raced this event and found myself injured prior to the race because I was too selfish to listen to my mind and body. The race will be there next year, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to give-it-a-go then!

Update: My email was received and I was told they would bring in someone from the waitlist and it gets even better, they have deferred my entry to 2014. Very excited about this!


Quote: Getting Over Hills – Day 1

Motivational_Track Photo_2011

This week, and probably for the rest of the year, I am focusing on getting up and over those hills. And while I sometimes think this whole blog thing is kind of pointless, I realize I that sharing my story, good or bad, is just a part of who I am. 

So this morning, to momentarily take my mind off the now, I thought it’d be a good idea to read from one of my favorite and most memorable childhood books: Where the Sidewalk Ends. Well, I couldn’t read the actual hardback book – it’s in a box in the garage, but I did find excerpts all over the place on the internet. 🙂

Anyway, while reading some of his little quotes, I came across one, probably the only one I needed to find today:

“If the track is tough and the hill is rough, THINKING you can just ain’t enough!”


Post Javelina Update

Reflection_with quoteI have gone running three times since my last race attempt nearly two weeks ago. I knew I was not crazy that day, something didn’t feel right. The first few runs only a few days after told me that I definitely needed to take more time off before I got back on some sort of schedule. I went for it again yesterday for a six-miler and I could tell the rest did me some good. The ankle issue that I was feeling was gone, the hammies and glute still feel a bit tight. Tonight I went to the gym with my foam roller to work out these extra kinks and then did a quick circuit workout (weights) followed by push-ups, ab work and stretching. Definitely no running tomorrow but I think I will be ready to get back out there this weekend.

The only worse thing than not being able to run is not being able to run when I am so stressed out. D says he doesn’t run cause he’s not happy, he runs because he is. I always thought that was a wonderful reason, but that isn’t always the case for me – sometimes, a lot of times, I run to work things out and to free my mind of excess clutter. Right now I’d say the weekend couldn’t get here any sooner.


Javelina Jundred Jaunt

Trying to stay positive during the first lap.

Trying to stay positive during the first lap.

Javelina was not at  all what I had anticipated it to be. For nearly 365 days, I talked, thought and trained for it. I told everyone that I knew who would be there to not let me drop – no matter what.

What I didn’t anticipate on race day was feeling like I had a lead monkey attached to each leg. It’s not at all unusual to feel horrible for the first 5 miles in any run or race, but I eventually shake it off and feeling horrible soon becomes a distant memory. This was not the case on race day, a day I planned to run an average of 9:30…all day! 9:30 is such an easy pace to maintain for me — anything slower and it actually becomes painful, well on this day, it felt like I was on the tenth mile of a 6:30 pace tempo run. Not good.

Trying to explain why I did not want to continue...

Trying to explain why I did not want to continue…

The way this course is set up, we run six 15.4 mile loops and then a smaller loop to finish out 101.4 miles. We alternate directions of the loops every other lap. It was on my first lap that I suspected something was off and it just never got better. As I headed in to finish my first loop, greeted by my wonderful crew (Andy and Ashley), I grabbed my new handhelds, a few bites of whatever and I headed in the opposite direction to start my second loop.

Around mile 20 in my second loop, I found myself struggling to even keep going, and that 9:30 pace was extremely difficult. Finally after around 22 miles, I got a very short second wind until the finish of the second loop.

Around two miles into my third loop, I knew I just couldn’t continue for an additional 60 miles in this condition. Even with all the runners passing me telling me I was literally a minute away from the first woman, I just couldn’t do anything more than what I was doing. About halfway through this lap I decided to run/walk. Running was too painful, my hip flexors were extremely tight and walking was just plain horrible in the dead of the desert heat. I had told myself I was done when I finished this lap, there was no way I could continue and I was in a lot of pain.

As I finished this third loop, I headed to my crew and none of them could accept my decision to DNF. I had accepted this fate well before I reached them, but all they knew was that I had told them to keep me going and to not let me quit.  As I sat in the chair, each one approached me with words of wisdom and some sort of encouragement to get me back out there. At this point, I was not at all concerned about my finishing time, I was looking at this from a standpoint that I knew I could not get through the rest of the race running. After a long period of time, and coaxing from everyone around, I hesitantly headed out for my fourth loop receiving a standing ovation from everyone around. Almost immediately I changed my mind and headed back to my crew. Realizing it would be a non-stop fury of everyone telling me I could still do it, I decided, “fine, I will go out another lap.” I ran for about 1.5 miles before I coaxed a guy named Van, who was walking, to keep me company for the rest of the loop.

Van and I, actually, it seemed like I was the only one talking, walked the entire loop. As the sun set, we finished our loops and I told my crew I was REALLY done.  After a half hour, I finally snuck over to the timing chip and called it. I was done. Not happy, not sad, just done for the day.

 

What annoyed me about my DNF was having to explain to people at the event why I felt this way. I knew why and even when I told them, I felt that all they saw was a quitter. To them it was more important that I continue on, even if it meant a 30-hour finish. I am sorry, but that is not an option for me. This was not my day regardless of the race distance. I refuse to say that the 100-mile distance got me again and I really don’t see the point of marching day and night to get a buckle. Good for you if you want to suffer and prove something, personally, I have bigger goals to achieve and that is to hopefully run a week after this fiasco instead of limping or being injured for a long period of time.

For a few days after the race I did find myself limping, my flexors hated me and my left ankle hurt(s). It doesn’t matter what you think, that is not normal. I made the right decision and I can’t wait to go running tomorrow. 🙂

D and I heading into jeadquarters after the first loop. He is my rock and it was this race that brought us together. <3

D and I heading into jeadquarters after the first loop. He is my rock and it was this race that brought us together. ❤


More Chino Hills State Park Exploring

Sporting my Javelina Jundred top that I made last year for some extra motivation.

Sporting my Javelina Jundred top that I made last year for some extra motivation.

 

I had a pretty solid week of training last week (69 miles) and now I am partially tapering for Javelina.

Following that great week of training, I went for an easy 6-miler with D on Monday at the Santa Ana River Trail and then I didn’t run for the next two days. Part of that was just because I didn’t want to on Tuesday, and then last night I got carried away on some marketing work I recently picked up.

Today I had an awesome 12-miler run and if you are following me on Facebook, you would have seen the photos I posted of the Fox and Bobcat that was out there with me. I actually saw a Coyote, a pair of deer, a hummingbird, the fox and then the bobcat, all in that order. The crazy thing about the fox and the bobcat was that they were not even spooked by me and they let me get really close to take photos. The bobcat was less than 5 feet away and it didn’t even run.

This run was also a lot of fun because I explored North Ridge Trail a few more miles than normal and found several other trail options that I can explore next time. I remember when I first headed up this trail, I could barely make it up a mile without walking, and now I can practically go the entire way without walking. This particular route I do requires you to go straight up for 4-6 miles depending on where you turn, and then it’s pretty much all down or flat for the rest of the run which I think is a fun way to end the run.

My plan is to stay on these trails until I am completely bored out of my mind with them and I don’t really see that happening – mostly because there seems to be a new challenge around every singe trail and turn.

The best part about running in this park is that after the hills, not only do I get to run this flat road back to the finish, but the skies are always this blue. So gorgeous!

The best part about running in this park is that after the hills, not only do I get to run this flat road back to the finish, but the skies are always this blue. So gorgeous!


Quote

“Not all those …

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien


Pic of the Day: Building Mileage

PicsArt_1381374517394Lately I have been feeling pretty motivated to get out of the door and onto the road or trails. Last Friday/Saturday I put in a little more than 30 miles and then yesterday and today, I was just a tad under that number.

A few of us met at Indian Truck Trail yesterday for a night run and made it to Upper Holy Jim and back – I didn’t get home until just before midnight. This morning I had a scheduled 5:40am run at Chino State Park again. Last night’s run was last minute; I wouldn’t typically run back to back runs that close together with little rest. My focus is to always avoid injuries and lack of recovery and little rest definitely won’t help my focus.

The idea of night running is awesome, especially when you are going to have to run through the night in a 100-miler. Although I am hoping I won’t have to go too far into the night at JJ, I thought it was a great experience to run feeling fatigued both mentally and physically since I know that’s what I will soon be experiencing.

During this morning’s adventure, I again experience pitch dark running and had to use my headlamp to light the way. It was so peaceful out, and with the sudden change in weather, the chilly temps, and morning fragrances were really refreshing. I always finish a morning run ready to tackle my day and asking myself why I don’t I head out earlier so I can see the sunrise more often, especially with the landscape of gorgeous mountains.

Anyway, I am much more content right now building mileage than doing some tempo run. Even though the plan is to continue with mid-week speedwork that I did during my recent marathon training schedule, I just don’t want to dive into it just yet. I told my coach that I am not ready and he is OK with that. I hope I will be mentally ready for it again towards the end of the year.


Pic(s) of the Day: Running Out of Trails

Why does this hill look so flat?

Why does this hill look so flat?

I spent two days running and exploring Carbon Canyon Park and Chino Hills State Park and I am pooped. Coach wants me to stay on terrain that is similar to my upcoming 100-miler. I think he also is concerned about me crashing down some steep mountain before my big race. I agree with him on this one – no need for me to run lots of elevation and in regards to keeping me “upright,” I do trip quite often and shouldn’t chance it.

Yesterday I put in about 12 miles and today, while I was supposed to run 22, I was only able to finish 18.5. It was a crappy day to run in Orange County with the Santa Ana Winds blowing like crazy, dust everywhere, plus, I had to sneak in the park (closed due to wind?) and I ran out of trails and didn’t feel like exploring other nearby areas.

Looking forward to my workout tomorrow and hopefully a meeting with my friend Josh – we are going to start a “Workout of the Week” type program that I will post here on my blog/Pinterest/FB. I am about 1/3 of the way done with my 30-day Plank Challenge and I am finding myself enjoying it. I am hoping the “Workout of the Week” will help motivate others and encourage them to participate as well.

OK, it’s off to planking – it was a joke at first starting out with :20, but tonight I have to go for 1:30 which is a whole :30 jump from yesterday. I will be super stoked when I am able to plank for the whole 5:00, it will be a new record for me. I am also enjoying the sore abs part too – makes me feel like I am doing something right. 🙂