Thursday, April 30, 2015

Here comes Miwok!

It's almost Miwok time! I'm super excited - I feel well trained and ready to go! I'm not a crazy high mileage person and can remember not so long ago when I was excited to get mileage in the 40s. I had a step back week this training cycle that was in the 40s! I cranked out a minute plus PR in an 8K and everything feels strong and ready to go.

There was some last minute momentary excitement when it was announced that the Forest Service wanted us off the trails by 8 pm, leaving us with 15 hours but the race director was able to fight back and it's back to a 15:30 cutoff. This gives runners another 30ish second per mile and for me, it was a good mental boost, too. I had decided to not be worried about a 15 hour cutoff so how could I possibly be worried about a 15:30? I even got a last test of my breathing a couple of weeks ago. We had some suddenly hot weather (almost 80 degrees!) and it was my last good long run. Around mile 16 or 17, I started to feeling my breathing issues coming on and by mile 18, my breathing was ramping up pretty bad. For some reason, I decided to wait to use my inhaler until Ron and I reached our water drop. Of course, by that point, I had to sit for a bit and while my inhaler calmed things down, it didn't work completely and I had to walk another mile or more and the rest of the run, my breathing felt like it did at mile 16/17. However! Once I got home, I realized that the reason the inhaler only partially work was due to . . . operator error : ) So! Now I know to use the thing as soon as symptoms start (instead of waiting for it to get bad) and I know the right way to use the silly thing, too.

I'll be flying out to San Francisco and doing the race whirlwind style since I don't have a lot of vacation. Which means flying out Friday morning (and leaving Duluth ass early so I can take the shuttle and not worry about driving home Sunday night) and flying back Sunday! Since I'll be doing little but sleeping and running, I'm able to fit everything into a carry-on + "personal item." Now, I was a bit concerned about this at first since I tend to pack my running clothes on the heavy side, one of everything style.. What if it suddenly decides to be 30 degrees and raining? What if it decides on 80 and sunny with no warning either way??? How do I pack for all contingencies AND fit my Nathan pack AND shoes AND potential drop bags in one backpack? No worries, though, I was able to pack one of everything with plenty of space.

I almost don't dare talk about the weather since that's sure to jinx things up, but it's looking lovely so far. The highs are in the mid to high 60s. That makes me super happy, but I know I'll be okay regardless of the weather. I'm hoping for not fog so we have the gorgeous views it looks like we'll have!

If you're interested in tracking me, it looks as though UltraLive will be doing tracking through the aid stations. So head to: (for some reason, I'm having issues making the link clickable). I'm number 66. Race starts at 5 am San Francisco time, so 7 am Minnesota time. Keep in mind that these won't be instant chip timing updates - updates will depend on volunteers having internet coverage and typing everything in.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ramblings on my ultra family

The ultra running family is an amazing group of people. We just lost an incredible member of our family in Aaron Buffington this morning. I didn't know him super well but I felt like I did and I'm taking the news hard. He was part of the ultra family and something in that just bonds you together. A friend of his started a fundraising page for him, as he had been fighting cancer for over a year and you can imagine the medical bills can't be cheap. We smashed past the original goal in the first day. A week later, it's sailed past $10,000. Because trail runners are amazing, caring people. The last time I saw Aaron was at Sawtooth. His brother was running the 50 mile Saturday morning but Aaron was at the start of the 100 mile Friday morning and I saw him in the middle of the night sometime at Crosby-Manitou. He'd been feeling more tired lately but here he was, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere because his ultra family was here and he wanted to see them and cheer them on. I wouldn't have even seen him had my runner not decided he didn't need me to pace right away. We had a lovely chat and I left feeling like he was going to be okay. I sent him a card just last week and he responded with such a nice, selfless message back.

When I was interviewed for a "one year past the Boston bombing" article, the guy from the paper talked about how he heard from other runners that there had been this sense of increased belonging and togetherness in the time since. He was asking if I noticed and felt the same way. I didn't have a good answer for him and there wasn't a good way to express it at the time without sounding like a jerk (and I'm not sure it's coming out right now, either) but this belonging, this togetherness, that's just how it always is with my ultra family. And it doesn't depend on speed or distance or gender or social status or even if you happen to be injured or doubting your desire or ability to run ultras. Aaron was part of that and I wish we could have spent some hours together on the trail in the coming years.

He's left behind a wife and a two year old son. Here is Stephanie's message from this morning: "Aaron lost his 13-month fight with stage 4 kidney cancer at 4:50 this morning. The race is over; he sprinted to the finish line. Tomorrow is our 11-year "dating" anniversary. Aaron stopped letting me celebrate it after we got married, but today, I celebrate and honor him and our 11 years together."

Aaron, I'm glad you sprinted it in and are free of your pain and worry.

If you feel so inclined, Stephanie will still need help with medical expenses and you can donate here.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Miwok 100K and 17 ultras

Everyone knows how I make race decisions, right? It tends to take a while. If I had a dollar for every time I talked myself in or out of doing Wild Duluth 100K, I could buy some new trail shoes. Seriously folks, it was so ridiculous I was laughing at myself. For new races, I like to know everything I can about a race, before I commit. I like to read race reports and check out weather. What's the terrain? How much is single track? Who do I know who's done it before? Etc, etc.

So, recently I've been looking at my plans for next year. Sawtooth is there in September but I wanted something else longer before that. I decided I don't want to have another go at 100 miles until Sawtooth - Wild Duluth gave me the confidence I had been looking for when I planned Kettle last year, so that meant looking for a 100K, if possible. The thing is, 100Ks aren't super easy to find. I'd been thinking about Black Hills for a few years but hadn't realized until recently that they had a 100K option, so this looked like a good opportunity to finally head to that race. And then Black Hills announced that they were dropping their 100K distance. Argh. Apparently, I had decided more firmly on this option than I thought, as the announcement made me pretty peeved for a while and back to the drawing board I went. I found a couple races I was interested in and was looking to round up some friends to join in when a friend facebooked me on a Tuesday night and said "Hey, here's a 100K I'll be at. There's a lottery that closes at midnight tonight, you should sign up!" I was not-shockingly a bit uncertain. I thought it sounded like a good idea but . . . Things to know, first! Things to look up! I can't make a snap adventure race decision! She finally told me, "Stop being so analytical and sign up!" I did end up waiting until the next day since it turned out the lottery didn't close until Wednesday but had push come to shove, I would have signed up Tuesday.

So! My first big race of the year - Miwok 100K on May 3. No looking up of every detail! No gathering a posse of friends to join in! I guess that fits the spirit of an adventure race better, huh? Lottery names were drawn on that Friday and not only did I get in but so did my friend and her husband and another friend of theirs. So at least I'll have a couple people I know out there with me. There were about 900 people in the lottery and just shy of 500 allowed in, if I remember right, so chances weren't too bad at all. My first solo 100k (I ran Wild Duluth without a pacer but I had crew). It's looking absolutely beautiful from everything I've seen. A bit exposed so it might be my first chance of the year to test my inhaler one more time but I've also heard that running the course backwards from last year will get us through the super exposed sections first and into the redwoods when it's getting hotter. It's a 15:30 cutoff, which is a bit scary but I feel better about it when I think about Wild Duluth from this year.

Part of the lottery registration process for Miwok was to give a number of how many ultras you've raced. And not a general number 1-5, 5-10 etc, they wanted exact! Though, I imagine approximations are just fine but I realized I had no idea how many I'd done, which meant I had to go count them out. So - if you count Sawtooth, T-bunk, and Kettle (which I do since they were all around 50 miles) I'm at 17! Holy cow. And I've only been running ultras since Wild Duluth 2010. I keep recounting because that number can't be right, but it is. So here's to many more happy miles in 2015!