Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 WAS a good year!

When you end your racing year by DNFing at a race that you spent all year working up towards, it puts a bit of a damper on things and makes it tough to look back at your year in a positive way. Time to look back some of the positive running things that I accomplished this year!

April: I squeaked out a 50K PR (and set a decent sized course PR) at Chippewa, to continue my year and a half streak of running a PR every ultra:

June: I ran my fastest Grandma's ever despite some nasty heat and it not being my main goal so I went in with just a mini-taper. Sure, this was partially due to my streak of awful Grandma's that I've finally started to break but I was smart enough to stop and use my inhaler on the course and when the I hit my wall, I didn't crash and burn nearly as bad as I usually do at Grandma's. I finished with a rocking good last mile, too. My final time was eight minutes off a BQ, but I was still quite happy since that hadn't really been expected.

July: So. Much. Adventure!! Our Montana trip brought some good solo runs along with a fabulous run with Leslie and Rudy in Glacier National Park that was the most beautiful run I've even been on and included a glacier overlook.

I ran two races while in Montana and while my 50 mile did not go at all how I wanted (I took a wrong turn and had to drop down to the 50K but still had to redo a loop in order to do an extra out/back section so ended up with 42 miles total), it was still pretty and a good long run. The second race was a brutal, brutal 20 miler that I've been trying to get into for a couple years - The Bridger Ridge Run. I had a blast and while my quads were toast by the end from the crazy steep descending, my legs held up great for a being week after a full of elevation change 42 miler.

August: I legit outright won my first race ever (first overall as opposed to being the first woman) and had to beat Jarrow to do it! A lovely little 7K local race, mostly on the SHT, to support my friend running for the House. A nice little boost of confidence and fun heading into Wasatch.

September: A couple weeks after Wasatch, I finally got down to the In Yan Teopa 10 miler and took third woman on tired legs. Mostly due to the part where I passed person after person once we hit the glorious technical single track in the last couple of miles.

And that's not even counting all the amazing runs I had with my awesome friends and Cedar the Trail Dog this year, just adventuring in our own back yard.

I also hired a coach this year and while he ended up being perhaps not the best fit for me, he still did a lot of great things for me throughout the year. I got back to lifting on a regular schedule and starting doing actual speed work for the first time in years. He definitely helped increase my base pace and reminded me how good intervals and thresholds feel.

This fall, I also finally bought a fat bike after drooling over them for a couple years. I severly sprained my ankle (I was on crutches for four days afterward) and so discovered mountain biked and from there knew it was time for a fat bike. I've been having a lot of fun playing on the trails in a new way and it's making my legs stronger even as I've eased off of running for a couple months of mental and physical break from specific training.

So this WAS a good year and that's what I've gotten better at remembering. I'm unsure of what my goals are for next year (So many options! I want to run all the races and go all the places!) but I look to be solidifying some of them ASAP (considering how one entry fee increases in less than two hours). A happy 2017 to you all - may the new year bring you as much Adventure as you're seeking!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Grandma's and a coach!

Hi guys, how's it going? Long time, no blog! I still promise a Superior 100 run through but an update first!

So here we are, four days out from Grandma's and guess what? I'm running it again! It's been four years since the last time I ran Grandma's and three years since my last road marathon. More importantly, though, and what made me decide to sign up again, it's been ten years since my first marathon! Ten! So I felt like I should commemorate by running it again, even though I made a face every time I mentioned it :) Originally, I figured I would just run it for fun however, here's what I've been up to this spring - I went and got a coach!

It feels a bit weird still telling that to people. Who am I to get a coach? It all happened kind of quickly, really, but I think mostly things just fell into place at the right time. I had already been pondering making the splurge of a coach if I got into Western States, to help make sure I could be completely ready for it. I didn't get into Western States (no surprise there, as a first time lottery entry, I would have been shocked if I DID get in) but I have a good friend who has a coach. We would run together during the beginning of the year and the more she talked about her workouts and coach, the more I felt ready to do this NOW. I clearly did an okay job training myself for Superior since I was strong throughout the race and finished happy. But maybe I actually didn't do a great job, since I tore my knee 80ish miles in. So goal number one and my main drive for getting a coach is making sure I am the best prepared for Wasatch that I can be. I don't want to hurt my knee again and want to make sure that if something like that happens, it won't be because I've got muscles that are weak or I did something stupid in training. Goal number two (right now anyway) is to see how fast I can run Voyageur in 2017 or really, just a generic goal of "let's see how fast I can be with some help." On top of everything, it was getting late into February and it was time for me to start upping my long runs again but I just didn't seem to be doing it on my own and so some extra motivation sounded good too. So I met with a guy and decided to give it a go and I've been an athlete of Superior Performance since mid-March and have been loving it! Mostly what he has me doing involves things I already knew how to do but had stopped doing on my own (weight lifting) or didn't know how to really incorporate what I knew into 100 mile training (thresholds, speed workouts, etc). It's been great to have a plan to follow again and paying someone helps hold you more accountable for getting your ass out the door when you're on a trip with family but still need your long runs in.

So I've been running a lot of miles and running a lot of fast miles. I ran Chippewa Moraine 50K in April as a have fun race with no taper, figuring I'd be breaking my Ultra-PR streak from last year but hey, that couldn't last forever, right?

Except I ended up racing really well and getting an 11 minute PR and a 17 minute course PR (Chippewa can be a surprisingly hard course to run well on) with a 6:03!

And I came away knowing I could have broken six hours had I pushed harder from the turn around. Very awesome! While I had only been with my coach for just over a month at the time, so maybe it was too early to say that it helped a ton already, but at least having a coach was clearly not being detrimental to my running!

My main race of the year is Wasatch 100 (in September) but I decided in talking with Jason (my coach) to make Grandma's a B race and see how my speed is. So, here we are! It's weird going into Grandma's without stressing about it. I'd love to be fast but if things don't line up or my legs aren't good for short/fast again yet, that's fine too. I've been doing lots of speed work but none of it is marathon pace specific so I don't have a good feel for my pace, which makes me unsure of what my legs are going to think of things. It's looking like it'll be warm, but that's okay. It's not looking like 90s and high humidity so I've done worse, right? I'll be wearing shorts that will hold my inhaler, just in case. I'm excited to take my "new" (since my last road marathon) ultra toughness into roads and see what kind of difference that makes in the mental game in the second half.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2015 in quick review!

2015 was an amazing running year! Be forewarned - there are way too many exclamation points ahead.

I ran a PR in every ultra I ran (because finishing your first 100 counts as setting a PR, right?)! I ran two adventure races (ie, not in my own backyard)! I finished my first 100 mile! I was able to go on what was essentially a week long running and relaxing vacation out west with my husband!

100K - Miwok in April in California. An almost an hour and a half PR! An amazing fun travel race with friends and my first solo 100K (no pacer, no crew)! This race is super runnable and not at all technical with a finish cut-off that required an hour PR if I wanted to make it. My wheels came off HARD heading down a sixish mile downhill to the 49 mile aid station. Up next was turning around and heading right back up that six miles to an aid station with a cutoff. I'd have to move faster uphill than I did downhill in order to make it. There was no way I was coming even close to making that cutoff but after less than ten minutes of sitting/laying down and getting my legs and head back (and NOT eating soup despite the promise that that aid station would have some), I grabbed a long sleeve and extra gel for the slog up and headed out anyway, figuring it made for good time on feet for Superior. I made the cutoff by two minutes and found some amazing strength of mind and body that was definitely needed with Superior coming in the fall. I then made it to the finish with 23 minutes to spare and an hour and a half PR. This picture is from mile 59/60/somewhere in there when I was flying and feeling amazing again!! It's taken by Glenn Tachiyama and I found it very necessary to pay for this photo so I could have it!

50 Mile - Voyageur in July. An exactly 40 minute PR in nasty hot temperatures! I ran smart, took some risks, and didn't let the heat get to me. This awesome finish came complete with a gorgeous top ten mug (9th woman!)! I really need to get a better picture of it.

50K - Rampage the Roots in August in Montana. A few second PR! But, this was following an awesome, high mileage, mountain miles, training week. At some altitude and in some gross smoke at the beginning. And after about 20 minutes of sleep since I spent the night making a great spontaneous decision to help crew a friend doing the 100 mile, which resulted in laying on the side of the road with my eyes closed lots but with little actual sleep. As well as making an effort to NOT be racing hard until the last few miles. Here I am immediately post finish.

100 Mile - Superior 100 in September. This will get its own post, I promise. Because it's too awesome to not relate - you'll be amazed at my lack of remembering of details, though. I guess when you're going for 36 hours, it's okay to not remember exactly when something happened, including if it happened to be light or dark out at the time of said thing happening :) Anyway, the only real goal was the finish. If pushed to name something, I had a fast sounding A goal based on my Voyageur and Wild Duluth times, a B goal based on simply beating the sun on day two, and a C goal of running any time under cutoff that didn't start with 37:something. So C goal accomplished (36:34) after tearing my left meniscus somewhere in the mile 75-80 range. Details to follow. In the meantime, enjoy what's probably my favorite picture from the race. Taken by Kelly Doyle at mile 90ish, while we're coming down from Carlton Peak.

So an amazing running year for me! I'm excited that I finally seem to be figuring out this ultra thing and have the years of base mileage to start running them faster. This year I already have a brutal sounding adventure 100K planned in July - just north of Rocky Mountain National Park. Apparently it's mostly not on any actual trail, with a bunch of creek crossings, and a 24 hour cutoff. Bonus that it's a qualifier for Western States, if I decide to keep putting in for that lottery. Happy trails to you! You'll be seeing more blogging from me this year.