Sunday, December 28, 2008

Goodbye 2008!

Wow, another year come and gone. They do seem to be speeding up, don't they? But, I have to admit, I am ready for 2009. I'm ready to welcome in a new year and all of the possibilities it brings with it.

2008 was both exhilirating and exhausting. There were moments where I thought, "It doesn't get any better than this," but also many moments where I found myself really evaluating where I was going and what I was trying to do with my life. It had been a long time since I had set a long-term goal, so I was really caught off guard with both the elation and the let-down of having achieved it. Many people told me to just set another goal, to get on with it, but I really couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I didn't want to set a random goal just to have something to keep me busy - goals like that are so much harder to achieve because they are "outside" of you, your heart isn't really in them.

To complicate matters, I ended up with a minor achilles injury that I chose to ignore. You know how that goes - it then stays around like an unwanted houseguest, talking to you at the least opportune moments. I finally sucked it up, listened to my orthopedist(s), and quit running. Amazingly, it is getting better. I also got sick, had company in town, went out of town for the holidays, and had all the accompanying duties that go along with holiday preparation (is there more and more of it every year, or am I just making that up?). This last month has felt as long as the first eleven!

But the year is winding down, the holidays are over, I'm on the mend, and my head finally feels clear enough to think about future plans. It should be easy now, right? No. I'm still as befuddled as before. I just don't know what I want to do, or rather, how I should go about doing it. My fear of being a Desperate Housewife keeps me from being able to look at my life rationally and make decisions that are honest. For three years I was so focused on my running, I hardly had time to look up - and I loved every minute (okay, most minutes)! But do I want to do that again? Am I willing to make that type of commitment?

I know that I will never be happy sitting at home watching from the sidelines, but I don't know exactly what to focus on right now. The end of a year forces your focus off your own personal goals and keeps you busy with all the goings-on around you. But, with the coming of new year, it is time to take a breath, look around, look inside, and start anew.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Posting and Eating

Tim is working late, and the boys ate early, so I am eating my dinner in front of the computer. Yes, I know, incredibly pathetic and unhealthy, but very indicative of my life right now. Yes, I am loving the sleeping in and lack of structure, but I am HATING THE LACK OF STRUCTURE. It makes me do things like eat in front of my computer. And eat a pound of gummy bears. And watch too many episodes of "House."

Yes, I am running. A little. And yes, I am going to the gym. A little. But I am all over the place, like Eloise at the Plaza (if you were born after 1975, ignore that reference), zigging this way and that. If you want to know how bad it is, I ran trails today! By myself! Ten miles up and down, no watch, no pacing. Just me and the little things that do not hibernate in the winter scurrying around me. And I enjoyed it!

I know I have to get back to a schedule soon. Seriously, my family is starting to suffer having a mother/wife who acts like someone from a bad 70s sitcom. I will get back to a schedule soon. I promise. But right now, House is on and I have to go finish my dinner.

Happy running!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest.
- George Matthew Allen

One of the things I like best about ultrarunners, is that they seem to live such varied lives. There is no "one size fits all" style for ultrarunners. Yes, they all run. A lot. But when they are not running, they seem to take that same zeal for running and use it in the rest of their lives. Every time I check on another ultrarunner they seem to be doing something new and cool!

Check on some of the blogs on the left, and you will see that Olga is getting her massage therapy license; Ronda is doing body/fitness competitions; Julie is coaching; Matt is brewing beer; and Debbie Horn (not a blogger, but an awesome runner) is a bee keeper - and these are just things they are doing in their free time! I love it! I just find it fascinating to see how diverse we all are, yet we come together with a common passion for running.

On the running front, I've done none. I have been swimming, walking and biking for the past 2.5 weeks. But on Saturday, it is back to running. I'm so excited! I miss my friends. I miss the early mornings. I miss the movement that can't be duplicated by any other sport. I have no specific plan yet, but I would like to run a 100 miler in the spring. I need to work on my hydration strategy and try to get comfortable with some sort of electrolyte drink. Plain water just isn't cutting it in these 24 hour races.

My in-laws are coming to town for the weekend, so I'm looking forward to some great political discussions, walks on the river and good food. The weather has finally turned a little chilly here, so it is perfect for walking and grilling in the backyard. The leaves are changing and it almost makes you want to cry, it is so beautiful. Every season, I think 'this is my favorite season,' until the next season rolls around. But autumn in El Paso is lovely - cool, crisp, dry and colorful. Perfect running weather. I can't wait to get out in it!

Happy running!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Start

Team USA

Blog Guilt

I'm stealing this term from Bob because it is more appropriate than anything else I could think of on my own. I have a lot of Blog Guilt. I apologize for sort of checking out the last couple of months, but I was really getting stressed out about the World Cup and the more I thought about running, read about running, or wrote about running, the more uptight I got. I basically had to pretend like it wasn't happening! I had spent three years working towards the goal of competing on the US National team, so when it finally came true, I just didn't want to blow it. Please forgive me. I'm trying to catch up on all of my friends' blogs and it sounds like everyone has been really busy.
Basically, since I last posted, I just ran. I was averaging about 140 miles per week of running and then doing all the other yucky stuff that goes with it - weights, Pilates, etc. As usual, when I finally got to Korea I was convinced that I hadn't done enough, or done it properly, or had done too much. I felt completely out of my league. But then the rest of the American team started arriving, and I started to relax. What a nice group of people! Roy Pirrung was our team captain, along with John Geesler, who did an excellent job of managing us, and Dr. Andy Lovy, the team doc. The men's team also included Alex Swenson, Phil McCarthy, Dean Karnazes, Bill Allen and Daniel Larson. The women's team was Debbie Horn, Jamie Donaldson, Connie Gardner and me.

My family and I went a week early so that we could tour Korea. We had a wonderful week visiting palaces, markets, the DMZ, shopping centers and sporting arenas. The people were very friendly, and even though there was quite a significant language barrier, we always found a friendly local to help us if we got into trouble. By the second day, we were very comfortable on the subway and were able to navigate the city (fairly) easily. One of the highlights of the trip was a college hockey game where the father of one of the players invited us in and treated us to the parents' game buffet. We got to sample many of the local specialties and watch a very exciting hockey game. My son, Grant, is now hooked on hockey!

The day of the race came quickly enough. Because the race didn't start until 10:00 am, we had plenty of time to eat and make our way over to the course. The loop was 9.20 meters (approx. .57 miles) and in the shape of a "C". It was concrete and asphalt, so we all knew it was going to be a little tough on our joints. Because the course was so small, it was very crowded at the start. I'm such a slow starter, though, that it didn't really affect me. I just had more company! I didn't really have a game plan other than to stay comfortable. A 24 hour race is so long that you are guaranteed to hit every type of discomfort over the course of the race. I felt pretty good the whole day despite the unbelievable humidity. I was icing and pouring water on myself at every opportunity. It would be a different story at night!

My loose goal was to hit 100 miles by 18 hours or less. The timing generator blew sometime during the day, though, so we weren't getting any splits mid-day. I think the problem came about when they started playing ONE ALBUM of ABBA for the entire day! I'm still hearing "Waterloo" in my sleep! When we finally got our splits, I was right on target. I was actually having a pretty good time. It is the most crowded ultra I've competed in, so there were lots of opportunities to talk to people.

As the night wore on, the humidity rose to 100 percent. I started getting sloshy and couldn't quite figure out how to fix the problem. The only thing I could do was keep moving. We were in a huge battle with the Germans, and I desperately wanted to win third place so that we could get a medal. Jamie and Debbie were running strong, both looking fit and relaxed. Connie had some problems earlier and had to drop, so it was up to the three of us. They took the top 3 scores from each team to determine team standings and I didn't want to let my team down.

I really struggled the last couple of hours of the race, thinking 24 hours would never come, but was able to keep moving thanks to my husband, Tim and my kids, Grant and Spencer, along with Jamie's awesome husband David, Debbie's rockin' boyfriend, Roger and Bill's wonderful girlfriend, Donna. They anchored our crew which was run by John Geesler and Dr. Andy Lovy. John and Andy were invaluable, helping me stay positive and focused. I wish they were at every race I run! It was truly a team effort. I wanted to stop many times, but knew that Jamie and Debbie were giving it their all, so being a baby was not an option.

In the end, the Germans edged past us, taking the bronze medal. The 2009 World Cup will take place in Italy in May, so hopefully, we will get another chance. Jamie was incredible, taking 5th place with 135 miles. She looked great the whole time, proving what a phenomenal athlete she is. Debbie overcame some early blister issues to rally to an impressive 125.6 miles. She is so strong, both physically and mentally. I rounded out the group with 122.2 miles, not my best, but not my worst.

The World Cup was an unbelievable experience! I really learned a lot, both from the other runners, and from the situation. I'm looking forward to Italy in the spring, and trying to plan my race schedule for next year. I'm taking a few weeks off to let my mind and body rest. My cupcake consumption is up, though, so I better figure out some sort of cross training :)

Happy Running!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Crazy Time!

Running like a crazy person (nothing new there :), getting ready for school, and winding up summer. It is Crazy Time! My sister, Linda, was visiting for a few days, so I was able to put reality on hold for awhile. She is always a blast to be around - we laugh constantly - and it was a wonderful way to finish off summer. We are all sad that summer is ending, but the boys are excited to start middle school, and their excitement is infectious. I'm just thankful I don't have to go back to school - the recurring nightmares about it are enough!

Okay, I finally confessed to Scott about my mileage. He is in France, preparing to run Mount Blanc, so I decided it was a good time to lay it on the line. How mad could he be from six time zones away? Besides, I knew he was going to hear about it one way or the other since we are both on the national team. It is much harder to keep secrets from your coach when you are training for the same event :) He took it well, but didn't think it was a good idea. In fact, he thought it was pretty stupid. But he is a very nice guy who does not practice the Bella Karolyi method of coaching. He told me it was up to me and that we would negotiate mileage amounts in the future. I think this was his nice way of saying that the subject is going to come up regularly.

Another fun thing happened: Wright Socks sent me a box of socks! I've been wearing their socks for about 5 years and have only had 1 blister. A friend of mine e-mailed them and they sent me a bunch of socks - how cool is that! I love getting surprise packages!

I'm on my way to check in on everyone. I know a bunch of you are running big races in the next few weeks. I can't wait to read the reports. Also, check out Ronda in the latest issue of Ultrarunning - is that the coolest picture, or what! You rock, Ronda!

Happy running!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here We Go!

Wow, even though I didn't compete in Badwater, it took me a few days to recover - from the excitement, the lack of sleep, and the travelling. All week I just felt really happy for Alan and Jamie. I just find it so inspiring when someone sets a course record. Jamie fought back and won! I love it! This is one of the things that makes ultrarunning so exciting to me. Because the races are so long, you really get to see the struggle, the fight. There is no "easy" way to win a race. It is a battle for everyone on the course. How cool is that? I know I said it last time, but if you get a chance to crew at Badwater, take it. It is an unbelievable experience.

On to training. It is time to start ramping up for Korea. For me, this means adding specificity - yuck. Gone are the days of tons of miles with no specific purpose. Back are the days of tempo runs, M Pace runs, Easy Runs, strides, hills, etc. Now don't get me wrong, I was incorporating those elements before, but not as carefully as is needed before a big race. I just find that if I am too focused for too long, I get really burnt out. The year is essentially a build up for me, slowly peaking for the race in the fall. This schedule came about because I did my first 100 in Novemeber of 2006, so I built towards it with two 50 milers. Then in 2007, I was trying to make the National Team, so we built towards Ultracentric in November. Now, this year, the World Cup is in October, so it has worked to build in the same manner. Maybe next year, I will be able to focus better on more than one big race so the schedule will be a little different.

The big difference for me this week was that one of my long runs was a hill run. I really don't need a lot of hill training for Korea (the course is a 1.2 mile flat loop), but I find it much easier to get my heart rate up on hills without putting so much strain on my back. The group was going to do McKelligon Canyon, so we met at Madeline Park at 5:00 Saturday morning. The first few miles are uphill because we have to traverse Scenic Drive, which is a mountain road that takes you from one side of the city to the other. When we reached the other side, we had a gentle 3 mile climb to the entry of the canyon. McKelligon Canyon is used as a training course for the military because it is a rolling course that gives you continuous ups and downs with no flats. I think it is more mentally challenging than physically challenging, but either way, you feel it. After we reached the top, we headed back over the mountain for 14 miles. My running buddy Gilbert needed 20, so I conned him into 9 more so that I could get 23. There was no magic to 23, but I wanted as many as possible and that seemed like a fair amount to con someone into doing :) A new runner (to our group), Ed, came with us, intending to do 18. I'm not sure he will ever trust us again! The last 9 miles were also done on hills, so I felt like I got a pretty good workout.

Sunday, I only had time for 10 in the morning because my sons were modeling in a fashion show. Neither of them were too excited by the idea, but the cutest girl in their class (Anika) had asked them to escort her in the show and that was enough to convince them it was a good idea. They are kind of embarrassed, but ended up loving the attention - they were the only boys (as opposed to grown men) in the show. This age is so funny - they are part kid, part teenager, and you never know which one you are going to get. I think it is all very cute, but I can't let them know it!

Spencer, Kathrin Petit (Anika's mom), Anika, Grant

The fashion show took all day, so I didn't get another run in until 7:30. Tim and I went out on the river and ran 6.5 miles. It was beautiful - overcast, sun setting, quiet. We had a wonderful run, talking about everything. I felt good, relaxed. We jumped in the pool with the boys when we got home and had a nice swim. I love swimming at night, at least when it is in a pool and I know there aren't any sharks!

Today is my rest day, so I slept in until 7:30 - yeah! But tomorrow, it is back to work. I'm talking to Scott in a few minutes, so I know I will get a great schedule. Time to break out the watch!

Happy running!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alan Geraldi is the Man!

Alan Geraldi, the runner I helped crew, finished his first Badwater attempt in 41:14.17! Yeah! He was so strong, it was fantastic! I hope he runs it again next year, because I think he could be a serious contender. The guy has so much talent and a wonderful spirit.

Tim and I took the kids to Vegas for the weekend before Badwater. It was hot, hot, hot! We had never been to Vegas, so we weren't sure what to expect. By the end, we decided that it is very much like Disneyland for grown-ups - lots of people, lots of walking, lots of stimulation, and lots of money (as in, spent). The architecture was the coolest part to me. I loved all the different "themes" of the hotels. It was also pretty great that you could find yummy food just about everywhere you went. You were not forced to eat fast food ever!

Sunday, Rajeev picked me up in front of Mandalay Bay. We chatted non-stop the entire way to Furnace Creek. He is one of the funniest guys I have ever met. If you have a chance to run Ruth Anderson next year (where he is the RD), do it! It is worth it just to meet Rajeev. But all chatting came to an abrupt halt when we entered Death Valley proper. Oh my gosh! It is unbelievable! I really expected a barren wasteland, but instead, we found one of the most beautiful places on earth. If I could wax poetic, I would. But words cannot do the place justice. So, instead, I will just insert some pictures.

Funace Creek Inn served as a sort of summer camp/base camp for runners and crew. It was very cool to see everyone getting ready for the race. I saw Jamie right after she arrived and she was relaxed and excited. Her poor husband, David, was sporting a cast on his arm after a hiking accident. We went in search of our runner and saw Pam Reed, Dean Karnazes, and Monica Scholz on the way. I didn't realize Pam (the women's course record holder) or Monica were running Badwater again. Wow, Rajeev and I decided this was going to be a fun race to watch!

After the race briefing, we headed into Stovepipe Wells so that Rajeev and I could leave our car. The entire crew (except for Joe Judd who was meeting us the next day) gathered for dinner and an informal meeting. This was the first time we were all together. What a great group of people! If we don't all run Badwater together next year, I hope I can talk them into crewing for me. We chatted about ourselves and the plan for the next day. Everyone seemed pretty relaxed but committed, a very nice combination. After dinner, we headed back to Furnace Creek to get last minute supplies and take Alan to medical for the study he had volunteered to be in.

4:00 am came bright and early. We gathered up the last of our stuff and headed to Badwater for the start. Badwater is 17 miles from Furnace Creek and the lowest point in the United States at approximately 200 feet below sea level. Alan was scheduled to start in the first wave at 6:00 am. After photos, the national anthem, and last minute instructions, the runners were off. We were not allowed to pace for the first 17 miles, but we could crew him. Rajeev, Martin Casado and I took the first shift. It was pretty relaxed because Alan was very smart and decided to go out slowly, knowing he had a long, hot day ahead. We spent the time between stops getting to know each other and making each other laugh.

At Furnace Creek, things shifted into high gear. We reloaded on ice and gas, and picked up Nicole. Nicole is very adept at crewing. She is very organized and positive, but also extremely calm. That can be a lifesaver in a crewing situation. We planned the strategy for the next stretch and moved forward. Rajeev started pacing Alan at mile 20, and Nicole and I manned the van. We stopped every mile, sprayed Alan with water, gave him something to eat, filled his bottles, and marked it all down. At about mile 25, I took over pacing duties. Because I didn't really know Alan, I was a little nervous about how this would go. But I shouldn't have been. He couldn't have been an easier person to crew/pace. He was super focused, but incredibly pleasant. He knew what he wanted to do, but took suggestions very well. I loved the time I spent with him! We talked about all kinds of stuff - practicing law, family, running goals, running temperments, life. I told him the only jokes I knew and he attempted to laugh even though it was 111 degrees. We ran together for about 5 hours and he was so even tempered the whole time. He has the soul of an ultrarunner. I loved it! I'm running ahead with Alan's bottles so that we can refill them. Isn't it beautiful out there! And look at him smiling - what a trooper!

During this time, Nicole and Lisa did the bulk of the crewing. They were awesome! Not only did they take care of Alan, but they took care of me. They made sure I wasn't getting overheated, that I remembered to eat, and that I was getting enough electrolytes. Lisa and I are both mothers of twins (plus, she had two more), so we joked that we were taking turns mothering everyone. And I was so grateful she was mothering me! It was toasty!

At Stovepipe Wells, we switched off. Martin came back on and Rajeev and I drove to Panamint Springs with the intent of taking a shower, eating and getting some rest. We met up with Joe Judd, who was going to take the night shift, and had dinner. Afterwards, Rajeev and I grabbed showers in the medical cottage and then tried to lay down for awhile, but we were too wired. We were supposed to relieve the crew at 10:00, but couldn't wait, so we headed back out. On the way, we saw Jorge Pacheco with a clear lead over Akos Konya and Dean Karnazes. Wow! He was flying! Jamie was slightly ahead of Pam, but Pam seemed to be closing in on her. I was super nervous. Pam is so strong at this race. All we could do was yell out encouragement as we passed and hope for the best.

We found our group at 8:00 and switched out. I was glad we switched out early, because they looked really tired. It is hard to explain how exhausting it is to crew in that kind of heat where you spend the whole day sitting on the side of the highway in a van. They had been out there for hours, with Lisa running a huge stretch with Alan. It was definitely time for them to head to Panamint Springs for some food and a nap. Rajeev and I joined Joe, who took over the pacing duties. Alan was still looking so strong. He said that he had had a bad stretch earlier, but I didn't see any lingering evidence of it. He was upbeat and moving well, often waving us off, telling us to move further down the road. It was awesome to watch him!

At night, the temperature started to fall significantly. By the late hours, it was 74 degrees, which went a long way to helping the situation. People started to really move again, getting longer stretches of running in between the hills. Rajeev and I became slap happy from lack of sleep and hours confined in a van. We harassed each other like brother and sister, even though we hardly knew each other 36 hours prior. It was a blast! Joe seemed to be doing a good job with Alan. He has a very upbeat disposition, which I think had to be extremely helpful in the middle of the night. He was very easy to crew with, and I hope that I have a chance to work with him again.

Through this stretch of terrain, it was very mountainous. It was so awesome to see the long stretch of lights from the crew vans all along the road for miles. In the middle of the night, it was an eerily beautiful sight. I felt like I was part of something so unique and I was so happy to be sharing it others who thought it was a special thing, too. I just have such profound respect for all the people out there on that road that night, tending to the needs of their friends and family members, many of whom were not runners themselves. There were several runners who had their children crewing for them, their spouses, their parents. It was just such a wonderful thing to be a part of! Rajeev at 2:00 am in back of our van. We were waiting for Alan and Joe, wearing our lovely reflective gear because it was DARK!

We rolled into Panamint Springs at around 3:oo am. Again, we filled up with ice and gas and switched crew again. Rajeev and I had to drive back to Las Vegas to catch flights, so Nicole, Martin, Lisa and Joe were back on until Alan finished. They had managed to get a little sleep and something to eat, so hopefully they were rested. Rajeev and I got back into our rental car and started the drive back to Vegas. The section between Panamint Springs and Stovepipe Wells was a little tense because there were so many runners on the road and it was pitch black. In some sections, there were no shoulders, so the runner and pacer were on the road. We had to be extra careful to keep a watchful eye out for them. Usually you saw their crew van first and knew a runner was coming, but sometimes the van was behind the runner. Since we had been awake for 24 hours, we really had to drive that section slowly to be safe.

By the time we made it to Stovepipe Wells I told Rajeev I needed to sleep for an hour or I would not make it into Vegas. I didn't want to risk falling asleep at the wheel. He had had less sleep than I, so we both needed a little shut eye. We ended up sleeping in the parking lot of the hotel, in the rental car. It was very warm, but it did the trick. I woke up refreshed enough to make it into Vegas without a problem. It also helped that Rajeev and I both like to talk!

All in all, Badwater was one of the coolest things I have ever done! Alan was a dream to crew for - strong, pleasant, easy to deal with, great energy! If I don't get in next year, and he does, I would absolutely crew for him again. He has so much going on! The other crew members were awesome too! I hope we end up somewhere together again. They are a great group of people! Alan exceeded his goal of 48 hours by over 6 hours! Unbelievable! I am so happy for him!

In other news, Pam did overtake Jamie, but Jamie fought back and WON, beating the course record by an HOUR!!!!!!!!! She is just phenomenal! I am in awe! Yeah Jamie!!

Happy Running!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Going to Badwater!

As most of you know, Badwater has been the ultimate race for me. I even bought a Legionnaires Hat at my second race in Oregon because I was hoping someday I would get to use it at Badwater. But it has also been the most daunting to think about doing. I think all of us have a "must do" race on our radar, but know that it is something we have to work towards. Well, I really, really want to run Badwater next year, so when I heard Jamie was running it again this year, we decided to head up to watch her (and Dean and Akos Konya). Then, I talked to Scott who said if I was going, I should really try to volunteer/crew. I wasn't sure how to go about doing that, but before I had a chance to figure it out, Alan Geraldi posted to the List that one of his crew members had to drop out. I e-mailed him and offered to help out, and now I'm a member of his team! Go Alan!

A cool side note to this story is that Rajeev Patel is Alan's crew chief. Rajeev was the awesome RD for Ruth Anderson. He is going to fly to Vegas to pick me up (so nice) and we will drive to Furnace Creek on Sunday. Alan also told me that the crew is made up entirely of people who ran Ruth Anderson. Lisa Huerta was the amazing woman who won the 100k! I really think this is going to be a blast!

So, with the new plan in place, we are taking the kids to Vegas on Thursday (none of us have ever been), hoping to have a fun mini-vacation before I head out for Badwater. We are staying at Madalay Bay because they have a "wave zone" pool, complete with beach sand, a river that you can ride, and a shark reef exhibit. We hope to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York, and maybe see a show, too. We are really looking forward to it!

Training wise, I'm just putting in the miles trying not to get too fidgety about Korea. Yesterday was the Hell Hill day (my favorite), so today was an easy recovery day. It has actually been raining a lot here (gasp!), so many of the roads are flooded - we are simply unequipped to deal with water in the desert. I think I am going to have to do my second run on the treadmill. I hope there is a good movie, or a trashy reality show, on so that I don't go bonkers.

Happy running!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Team USA

Thanks to all of you who wrote with well wishes. I didn't even know that it had been announced until I saw it on Jamie's blog. I'm super excited! We've never been to Korea, so we are taking the kids and spending a little extra time over there. It's also going to be tons of fun to travel with the other members of the team.

Here's the announcement:


The 6th Annual World Championship 24-Hour Run of the International Association of Ultrarunners will be held in Seoul, Korea on Oct. 18-19 of this year. U.S. National Teams have performed well at the event, usually finishing among the top 5 national teams and making the team medals podium twice. The highest individual American finishes in the world title event's half-decade history were achieved by Stephanie Ehret (3rd in 2005) and Phil McCarthy (4th in 2007). This year will mark the second time the event has been hosted by an Asian city. The 2006 World 24 Hour was held in Taipei, Taiwan.

This year's National Team includes the following members:


Connie Gardner, Medina, Ohio
Debra Horn, Shake Heights, Ohio
Jamie Donaldson, Littleton, Colorado
Carilyn Johnson, El Paso, Texas
Laura Nelson, Woodstock, Virginia


William Allen, Prince Frederick, Maryland
Scott Jurek, Seattle, Washington
Dean Karnazes, San Francisco, California
Phil McCarthy, New York, New York
Roy Pirrung, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Alex Swenson, Vashon, Washington

John Geesler, St. Johnsville, NY

Dr. Andy Lovy, D.O., Kirksville, MO

Gardner, Horn, Johnson, Pirrung, and McCarthy were automatic team selections by virtue of their top 3 finishes in the Ultracentric National 24-Hour Championship in November 2007. Donaldson, Nelson, Jurek, Karnazes, Allen, and Swenson were selected by virtue of their rankings in non-championship qualifying events in the previous 18 months. Pirrung, at age 59, for the fourth consecutive year becomes the oldest athlete ever named to an open National Team in the sport of Athletics. He is the only runner to have been selected for all 6 of the 24-Hour Run National Teams since the World event's inception in 2003. Pirrung won the inaugural U.S. National 24-Hour Run Championship in 1988, then again in 1991, and has finished second in that event for the past 3 years.

The team's Medical Advisor, Dr. Andy Lovy, was recently honored by the American Osteopathic Association as one of the "Great Pioneers in Osteopathic Medicine.

The team is sponsored by apparel manufacturers Sport Science and Injinji. The team is coordinated and managed by the American Ultrarunning Association.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A dream that you do not fight for will haunt you for the rest of your life.
From the movie "Robots"

Sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes you get tired. Sometimes you care too much about what others think. "It would be much easier to want something normal. To want what you are supposed to want," you tell yourself. But you keep going. You keep fighting for your dream and hope that the people who love you most will understand and love you more because of it.

When I keep my eyes on my own paper, I am most at ease with the choices I have made in my life. But once in awhile I look up, or to the left, and I see what someone else is doing. And it seems smarter than what I've chosen, or at least easier. That is when I am most open to the criticism of others. When the jabs of, "Are you crazy? Why in the world would you want to run for 24 hours. There must be something wrong with you!" hurt the most.

But then my alarm goes off at 4:50 and I put on my shorts, shirt, and running shoes. I go downstairs and have a cup of coffee by myself in the quiet kitchen. I head outside into the darkness of early morning, feeling like the only person on the planet, and being okay with that. And then someone says, "Good morning," and I know they are there, the other runners. The other people with the same, but different, dreams. The people who are always waiting for me to run 6 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles. We talk about everything - our kids, our plans, our day, our frustrations, our weaknesses. And sometimes we even talk about our dreams.

We all have our own dreams, dreams that may not make sense to anyone else. Today, I hope to fight for mine. And whether I achieve them or not, I am enjoying the journey. I wish the same for you.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I was tagged by Jamie, so here goes:

1) How would you describe your running style 10 years ago? I was pushing my twins in a Baby Jogger up and down hills - walking and jogging when I could. There wan't much running going on!

2) What is your best and worse run/race experience?
Best: Ultracentric 2007. I was shooting for a personal goal of 120 (the minimum needed to be considered for the US 24 Hour National Team. My PR had been 118 at FANs (my first full 24 Hour race), so I thought it was a possible goal. After I reached 100 miles, I asked my husband to quit telling me my mileage count because there wasn't anything I could do about it - I was doing the best I could. After it was all said and done, I had run 126.99 miles for third place. I was so happy!

Worst: I guess that would be a tie between Ruth Anderson because of my bad attitude and Kettle Moraine because I screwed it up so badly.

3) Why do you run? I run because I like the feeling of motion, I feel free.

4) What is the best and worst advice you have been given about running?
Best: Train the way that works for you. Ultrarunning is very personal - there is no one size-fits-all training program. When I have tried to train "by the book," I lose interest and motivation. When I just run and let the results fall where they may, I am a much happier person.

Worst: Don't run so many miles. Because of the above, I have to run a lot of miles! :) Seriously, because I hate specificity, I make up for it in distance. This method is not for everyone, but it suits me.

5) Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know. After my Junior year of High School, I went to college because I had taken all of the substantive courses offered (this is back in the day before AP, etc.). I went to a school 12 hours away from home, pledged a sorority, got a 4.0, and then came home for Christmas. I went to my high school to turn in my transcript (I still had to meet the hours needed to get my high school diploma) and my principal told me he wouldn't accept my college courses because there was nothing that would correspond at the HS level. I had to return to my high school for the spring semester, enroll, and then get a job at Red Lobster where I received "work credit" that would apply to my high school hours. Go figure. It was very strange. I resumed college the next fall.

Hope everyone is having a fun summer! Happy running!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back to Work

I just discovered a wonderful side benefit to dropping out of a race - you don't really have to recover! Other than sore quads (from my lame attempt to "pound down the hills"), I feel no different than had I run a long run. I'm both happy and disappointed by this. Happy because I would have hated to take a three week taper and then have to take a week recovery for nothing, but disappointed because that means that I went all the way to Wisconsin for my long run :)

As this is the first week of summer, I have been sleeping in and running/walking/swimming later than my normal 5:20. This pattern will probably continue through next week as my husband is having surgery at Mayo, so we will spend most of the week in Scottsdale. I'm just going to have to be flexible and run when I can. Since I don't have another race planned until October (unless I can find something within driving distance), I'm not in a huge rush. It's kind of nice, but I'm feeling a little antsy. By this time last year, I'd run a marathon, a 100 miler, and a 24 Hour. I'm searching race calendars, hoping to find an ultra close by, but so far nothing. Living in the southwest allows you to run 365 days a year, but that doesn't mean that anyone wants to come down here to race! I may have to call Ronda and get some ideas on putting on my own running camp. She does one with her friends every year and it always sounds like such a blast. It would be a fun way to break up the training cycle until October.

On the learning front, I definitely figured out that I have to come up with an electrolyte drink I can stomach if I plan to run trails. The aid stations are just too far apart to rely on pure water. I hate sports drinks, so as a result, I only drink water and take E-Caps. I definitely think this contributed to my problems at KM100. My body just couldn't absorb so much straight water. I know this is one of those, "Well, duh!" things that has been talked about ad nauseum on the List, but I've always just used plain water and never had a problem. The key differences at other races, though, were that, a) conditions weren't so hot and humid; and b) I had access to aid much more often so it was much easier to correct a problem before it got serious. At KM, once I figured out I was in trouble, I had several miles to go before I could change my strategy. On trails, those several miles take a LONG time. Not only did I need more electrolytes, I also needed more calories. Anyway, for the next few months, I'm going to sample different sports drinks and see which one doesn't make me want to hurl! My next race is a 24 Hour, so it won't matter as much, but I'd like to figure it out during the hot months so that I will know for next time - not that I will ever run another 100 mile trail race :)

When you get a chance, hop over to Jamie's blog. She is in her final prep for Badwater. I am so excited for her! As I've mentioned, I really think she can win overall. She is such a tough runner, really focused and smart. I think it is going to be so fun to follow!

Happy running!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I Fought the Trail and the Trail Won

I am able to post this blog entry today instead of tomorrow because I finished KM100 in 6 hours. Or rather, it finished me :) I DNF'd at mile 31, the Scuppernong turnaround. A very long, and costly trip to Wisconsin, and I had an intense training run!

Tim and I left for Chicago on Thursday, but not before I called Bob to check on his travel status. I had gotten all freaked out because there were tornadoes touching down in various parts of Illinois. Bob was great, reassuring me that the scary weather was usually over in a matter of hours and that I would make it safely to Wisconsin. And we did. But not before we had one of the scariest flights ever while flying over Nebraska. The turbulence came on in an instant, violently knocking our flight attendant to the ground in the aisle, and tossing her tray of drinks onto us. Luckily, she was fine, and we could mop ourselves up. The scary turbulence seemed to go on forever, but it was probably just about an hour. I was so happy to land in Chicago!

Friday, Tim and I made the trek to Whitewater, only to find that the hotel did not have our reservations and put us in a smoking room - yuck. We hemmed and hawed a little bit and finally decided to stay there the first night and then move to another hotel the second. We spent the rest of the day getting organized, going to packet pick-up, and finding things to eat. We ended up buying enough food for 50 people, worrying that one, or both of us, might get lost in the forest and need supplies :)

Saturday morning came bright and early with a 4:00 am wake-up. We got ready and headed to the Nordic Trail parking lot where the race was to start. There were quite a few runners (I think the website said 223 total), so it was fun to make small talk with new people. I got to meet Alan McLain, another runner from Texas, and several nice people who were from Wisconsin and familiar with the trail. Everyone seemed a little concerned by the forecast, but we all know that it is part of ultrarunning - ultra weather. After a quick briefing, we headed out right at 6:00 am. The sun was already up, as sunrise is much earlier in the north I found out, and the temps were pretty warm at the start. Even though I tend to be cold, I was warm in shorts and a t-shirt.

The first part of the course is a wide cross-country ski trail, with some small hills thrown in for fun. It is breathtakingly beautiful, especially to a girl from the desert. Everything is so green! I was loving the course, so excited to be out and spending my Saturday running through such a beautiful part of the country. And then the hills started. Now, I know to those of you who train on trails, these hills are probably not a big deal. But I train on a river levee and roads. These hills seemed like mountains to me! And they were never ending.

This is where I think I made my fatal error. Because the course had become a single track trail, I was "in line" with runners in front and behind. So, I just followed and did what they did, trying not to hold up the line. Up we went, and down we flew. I saw the other women doing a sort of stutter step down the hills, so I copied them and found that it was much easier on the quads, but really increased my speed. I was working hard and it was only the beginning of the race. I often find myself breathing heavily the first few miles of every race, I think from the adrenaline rush and excitement, but I usually settle down. Because of the "train" I was in the middle of though, I never settled down. I just kept running, hoping that at any minute my breathing and heartrate would settle. The total distance of this rocky, hilly section was 12.3 miles. When we finally made it through this section, I thought it was all going to be okay, but I was wrong.

After the technical section, we headed into a flatter, faster section, my favorite. I was so relieved. I thought I could finally get a rhythm and loosen up. The problem was that most of this section was out in the open. And it was HOT. And HUMID. And it didn't seem to ever end. Just when I started singing "The hills are alive with sound of music," I realized that I wasn't feeling so good. I was sloshy and thirsty, a bad combination. I doubled my E-Cap consumption and held back on the water. Even though I knew I was getting dehydrated, I knew it was more important to get rid of the sloshing. I couldn't pee, so the only thing I could do was wait for it to subside. I kept running, getting thirstier and thirstier. I know from the docs on the List that you need to slow down to speed up the absorption process, but I was desperate to get out of the direct sunlight.

By the time I arrived at the Hwy 67 Aid Station, I knew I was in trouble. Tim told me I seemed disoriented, but I assured him I would be okay. I still couldn't pee and was still sloshing. I made it to the next aid station, and told Tim I was probably going to have to drop, but I wanted to try to make it at least to the turnaround. The section from mile 26.5 to Scuppernong (the turnaround - mile 31.4) was shaded and not quite so technical. I thought it might give me a chance to recover. I walked most of those 5 miles, only running when I could. People were making their way back from the turnaround, and it started getting more and more discouraging. I saw another runner, Kevin, walking and asked him if he was okay. He said he was done, and I said so was I. We kept each other company the last few miles, comparing stories of our misery.

When we got into Scuppernong, I told Tim I was dropping. He didn't even try to stop me. We both knew I was hyponatraemic (I didn't pee for 8 hours), and that there was no way I was going to make it back to the other side. Kris Hinrichs was the aid station captain, and she was awesome! I told her my situation, and that I had Jerry coming to pace me, and that I hated to let him drive all the way down to the race for nothing. She told me not to worry about it, went to her car, called him from her cell phone and told him I'd dropped. We gave Kevin a ride back to the start, picking up another dropped runner on the way. When we got back to the parking lot, there were several others, all of us commiserating on our day. Ultrarunners are even supportive in DNFing!

I read later that there were thunderstorms throughout the day and night, leading to more DNFs as the race wore on. In the end, there were 37 finishers out of 123 (I don't know the stats on the other events). Hats off to all of those who finished, it was a tough day!

Fellow blogger, Bob, made it to the 100k mark. He rocks! Another blogger, Meghan, got third female in the 100k - awesome! Unfortunately, I wasn't out their long enough to meet them, so I hope we run another race together in the future!

Overall, even though it wasn't the best running experience, I can absolutely see why so many people love trail running - it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever done. If (and that's a big if) I ever run another trail 100, I will make sure I have a better strategy. My "run to how I feel" strategy completely fell apart on the single track portion. I followed the group and not my body, and paid for it dearly. I just couldn't tell how much of it was normal - adjusting to the trails, the ups and downs - and how much of it was wrong. I could never get a rhythm so that I could do a "systems check" of my body. I felt like I was in fight or flight mode the whole time. I think experience will help with that, but it wouldn't hurt if I had used a little more common sense :)

So, Olga, Ronda and Julie, I am going to lick my wounds and head back out on the flat courses I love while watching you all rock the trails! I have the utmost respect for your abilities to run tough courses! For now, I'm just going to participate in trail running vicariously through y'all - you make it look easy!

Happy Running!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Week in Review

First, to report about my Saturday running situation (OCD v. Slothness), Slothness prevailed. I stayed in bed until 8:00, drank coffee and read my book. It was heaven! The only reason I ventured forth at 8:00 was because we wanted to go see a friend play baseball and I felt it was important to wear something other than my pajamas - 11 year olds embarrass so easily! Sunday was more productive - a 20 mile run on the canals. I ran the first 12 with my friend Tony, and then finished up alone because he is running the San Diego Marathon this weekend.

This week I've taken it fairly easy, limiting my runs to 8 miles, with one hill workout, one tempo workout, and one stride workout. I've done some light lifting and core work, but not much else because I have been very busy at my kids' school helping with the end of the year project. Because they are "graduating" from elementary school, the class does a project for the school. This year, each child is painting a ceiling tile with a cool design and his/her name. At first, I was a little skeptical because I assumed trying to get 110 fifth graders to paint 4 feet by 2 feet ceiling tiles would be a nightmare, but it turned out awesome! The kids were really enthusiastic and easy to work with, fully embracing the project. My guess is this is the last time I'm going to be welcomed by my kids to help on a school project. My understanding is that middle school is a whole different kettle of fish! Anyway, we all had a great time, but I'm tired. I don't know how teachers do it. We need to pay them more!

This weekend, I plan to do two shorter runs, just to keep the legs moving, and then I will take it really easy next week. We leave Thursday, fly to Chicago, stay overnight and then head to Whitewater. I'm looking for somewhere yummy to eat in Chicago (fairly close to Midway) because I haven't been there in years. Any and all suggestions are welcome! I'm hoping to hook up with Bob sometime while we're there. It is so much fun to meet people from running cyberspace!

Have a great weekend! Happy running!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pacer Found!

I am so excited - I have a pacer for Kettle Moraine 100! Yeah! I had pretty much decided that I was going to have to toughen up, take a page out of Olga's training manual, and run the race alone. In the dark. With lions and tigers and bears, oh my! But then, when I thought all hope was lost, my friend, Roy Pirrung, found me an awesome pacer - Jerry Cameron! Now, most of you know that Roy is a record holding runner from Wisconsin, the home of KM100. In a last ditch effort to avoid being eaten by a raccoon in my first real 100 mile trail run, I e-mailed Roy, hoping he would know of a kind soul who lived near the KM course. And he did (Roy knows everyone, so my chances were pretty good :) Jerry seems like a super guy and an experienced trail runner - just what I need. We've been e-mailing this week and it seems like a great fit. I am so happy and relieved!

This week has been really light, except for the eating. It seems the less I run, the more cupcakes I must consume. Four. In two days. And a big piece of chocolate cake today. Yum. Scott, who is usually a little unhappy with my high mileage, wanted me to ramp it up a little (seems he was under the impression that I was doing a two week taper instead of three - and not spending my off hours bellied up to the cupcake bar). So, this means that I need to do another long run on Sunday to meet the numbers he set out for me. Hmmm.

I'm planning to sleep in tomorrow, drink coffee in bed, and then MAYBE head out for 15 miles or so. The OC in me can't stand to not meet the mileage Scott prescribed, but the lazy sloth in me really wants to lie in bed and watch Top Chef reruns. I won't know which of my personalities will win until tomorrow morning. I'll keep you posted. But I promise that I will be on the canals on Sunday, putting in some miles, and enjoying the beginning of summer!

Happy Running!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heavy Training - Done!

So, all of the heavy stuff for KM100 is done. I'm a fan of the 3 week taper, so starting yesterday, my taper has officially begun - yeah! This week, I'll ratchet back the mileage and start focusing more on speed, stretching, and getting my body rested. I was pretty tired by Sunday and had to force myself to finish my long run on Sunday. Yesterday was a nice recovery run and today we're tackling Hell Hill - a 3.5 mile steep, continuous climb with a long meandering, 4.5 mile run back down (we take a different route). The rest of the week I'm going to do some tempo work, more recovery, and lots of walking. I'm going to try to do some specific training rather than my usual run, run, run.

I'm getting super excited about the race! As afraid as I am about running trails at night, I really think it's going to be a blast! I still haven't found a pacer, but I'm not going to get too wound up about it (at least not yet :). My husband, Tim, is going to be there and maybe if I look sad enough he will come join me for a few miles at night. He's a great pacer, but doesn't train on trails so he's not too keen on running this course in the dark. A few years back, he fell during a trail run and broke his leg in four places and then had to hike out of a ravine. He is a tough guy, but not so keen on the trails.

I am so ready for summer. We finished the last of the big stuff for school and we're in the home stretch! Yeah for lazy days and sleeping late (for the kids, that is - I still have to train :). My kids are moving on to middle school and I'm a little melancholy about it. They are just growing up so fast! Such is life.

Happy running!

Friday, May 09, 2008

No News is Good News

I haven't posted anything recently because I don't really have anything interesting to post! I'm running a lot, trying to get geared up for KM100. Since I like high mileage, and hate specificity, I didn't think there would be much interest in me reporting, "I ran 10 miles this morning. Slow. I will repeat the process tomorrow." :) Next week is a peak week, so I know I'm going to be tired. My resting heart rate was elevated this morning, so I know I need my planned rest day tomorrow. I've also been pretty irritable today, so I know that I am spent. I ate 7 pieces of candy yesterday trying to satisfy my insatiable sugar cravings. This always happens when I'm training hard, but it catches me by surprise each time.

I'm still trying to find a pacer for Kettle Moraine. I e-mailed the RDs, but I haven't heard back. They are going to have a 38 mile night run, but I would still like to have someone running with me after dark. I'm such a loop course person that I am having panic attacks about getting lost in the middle of the night. I'm hoping this fear goes away after this race, or I will never be able to run another trail run :) When I read about Julie, Ronda, and Olga running those tough trail races, I'm in awe. Maybe someday!

My kids are playing there first season of baseball and they love it! I was dreading it because I heard it was a huge time commitment, and it is already super hot here, but it has been a total blast!
Spencer up to bat

Grant pitching

Tonight I'm getting a deep tissue massage because I'm having some issues with my back/hip/hamstring. Two years ago I took a nasty fall and tore my hamstring and ruptured a couple of disks in my back. On Tuesday, I fell again! This time, it was not nearly as bad as last, but I tweaked my hip. It has been super tight all week, so I need to get it worked on. I hate to start next week with it tight. I'm sitting on tennis balls as I type this, and that seems to help a little. Hopefully, Frank, the massage therapist (who is also the trainer for the UTEP track and cross country teams) can work it out. He is the master, but he makes me scream! Oh well, no pain, no gain!

I'm adding Jamie Donaldson's blog to my "favorites" list on the left. If you haven't already, go by and say hi. She's got a great race report and a cool story about the bet she made with her husband, David.

I'm off to read blogs. Happy running!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Running and Learning

Wow, thanks for so many thoughtful responses to my race report post. It really is helpful to get the perspective of other runners and friends. That is why I love reading race reports because I learn a lot from them, even if it was something the runner wished he/she had done differently. We're all in this together!

I've had a pretty good week. I didn't end up needing much recovery, so I was able to do some sort of workout every day. That always helps my disposition :) I guess because of the wind, I wasn't able to really pound on my joints as much as in a normal race, so I didn't need to take much time off. I guess that's good and that's bad.

Okay, on to things I learned:

1) No matter how badly I would like to be a focused runner, it ain't gonna happen. That whole pace chart, watch focus, just about undid me. I feel bad that I can't get my mind around the structure of racing, but I've decided I'm like the kid that is in the complicated math class who really needs to be in the theater arts class. My brain just doesn't work with the clock. It causes me so much stress that I end up hating the running. When I run strictly by feel (with good results and bad), I am a much happier runner.

2) As Olga said, you have to have a bigger purpose in a race. Because I was going for pace, once that went out the window, I couldn't come up with a reason to keep going (other than pride). With my other races, I was running to run - the sheer challenge of it, the excitement of doing it, the mixing of energy with other people who also loved to run. That was absent from this race for me. I had left the running for the sake of running piece in El Paso and made the race a task to fulfill. Yuck.

3) I can crew for myself if I have to, but it's not nearly as much fun. I had no stomach, fluid, or electrolyte issues, so I know I managed my body well, but I missed having my family on the course. Seeing them here and there throughout a race really makes a difference in how much I enjoy it. They remind me that it is supposed to be fun - hard, but fun.

4) Winning isn't everything. I have felt better about races where I thought they might have to send a search party out to find me because I was so far behind. My attitude was so internally negative during this race that I was embarrassed to be keeping myself company. As they say, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game. I played like John McEnroe (throwing tantrums and racquets) and I wish I had played like Arthur Ashe (with dignity and class). The only thing that gives me any comfort is that I directed it all inside and (hopefully) didn't show it.

5) There's always another race. This was one race. Why I got so wound up about it, I will never know. But there is another race around the corner, and then another, and another. The road (and the trail) is long. I've just got to keep running and enjoying it.

Happy running!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

First, before I get into my Ruth Anderson race report, I'd like to thank all of you who stopped by to wish me luck - you rock! Second, I want to apologize for being so behind on posting comments. I promise to catch up with everyone this week. I want to see what everyone is up to!

Now, onto the race report. We had a nice flight to San Francisco on Friday, arriving mid-afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to eat and grab some last minute stuff for breakfast in the morning. I needed to be at the race by 6:00, so we left the hotel at 5:30 and made the 2 mile walk over to the lake. Ruth Anderson is run around Lake Merced, on a 4.5 mile asphalt/chat trail. It is about 2 blocks from the glorious Pacific Ocean. I had never visited that part of San Francisco, so it was really cool to see it.

Rajeev Patel is the RD for RA. What a wonderfully upbeat, positive guy! It was about 40 degrees at the start and SUPER windy, but Rajeev got us all organized and ready for the 6:30 start with no problems. I don't know how many starters there were, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were more than I expected, especially in the 100k. I knew Mark Tanaka and Joseph Swenson were both really fast, but I didn't know much about the other runners. I was hoping to have some company during the day.

At the start, I chatted with Laurie Woodrow, a very nice woman from LA. I was happy to find out that she was also running the 100k, and I was hoping that we would get a chance to visit some on the course later in the day. The race started right on time and the first thing we noticed was the wind. It was coming straight off the ocean so it was cold. And strong. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, shorts, a fleece, gloves and a visor. After we made the first turn, I realized that visor wasn't going to last. I held onto it as best as I could and then finally just carried it. On the back side of the loop, some very dedicated volunteers stood in the cold and wind (ALL DAY) to provide us with support. It was too windy for them to erect a tent (they tried), so they just had to stand out there in the wind for hours. I think they deserve some sort of medal!

Scott and I had come up with a rough pacing schedule, but I ignored the pace clock for the first 4 loops because I was desperately trying to get some sort of rhythm going. The problem was that on the back side of the loop, the wind was so strong that you often felt like you were running in place. At one point, one of the aid station volunteers had to grab me to keep me from being knocked over. Then, as you made it the top of the loop, the wind was at your back, but it was so strong that it made you out of control - you had to brake with your legs to keep from getting knocked forward. The only thing that was sore today were my knees from pounding they took on the top part of the loop.

At the end of Loop 4, I realized I was behind pace. Now, this should not have unraveled me, but as you know, I bite at following a pacing schedule, so I was kind of freaked out. What do you do if you are behind and you are trying as hard as you can? I was crewing for myself, and I didn't really know anyone at the race, so I just kept running and praying for a miracle. But none came. I just kept telling myself, one more loop, then you get a gel and that will help. One more loop, then you get 2 Advils and that will help.

At the start of the race, Rajeev had told us that we could stop at any distance we chose (50k, 50 miles, or 100k), but once we stopped, we could not go back out. The finish point for the 50k was about 150 yards past the lap counting booth/main aid station at the end of the 7th loop, so after I finished loop 7, I headed back out for lap 8. As I approached the 50k mark where the finishing timers were stationed, they told me I was the lead female, and asked me if I was stopping. Huh? I was so focused on my own misery I had failed to pay attention to the other runners and where I was in relation to them. I hadn't ever planned to stop at the 50k, but it suddenly became an option. I kept running, but for the entire 8th loop, I talked myself into stopping and taking the 50k win. The conversation went something like this: "So what if I had not planned (or needed) a 50k run in preparation for the rest of the season? So what if I had flown all the way to San Francisco for this race. I'm miserable, I'm not even close to hitting my splits, and running sucks anyway! No one can make me keep going!" So, when I got to the counting tent, I told Rajeev I was done, that I just wanted credit for the 50k even though I had kept going for an extra loop. Uh, no. Turns out that several other women and men had come in behind me while I was out running and arguing with myself. It wouldn't have been fair to go back and change the results just because I was being a baby (although in that moment it seemed perfectly rational to me :). By continuing on after the 50k mark, I had sealed my fate to run the longer distance. I was stuck! Dang!

Out for Loop 9, almost in tears, still bundled up in my fleece and gloves, and thinking about all the smart people in the world that had hobbies like BASE jumping and snake handling. Surely they were happier at the moment than I. When I finished Loop 9, I asked Dave Combs and Stan Jensen (who were the lap counters all day - in the wind) how many laps for 50 miles (I had quit being able to do math on loop 5). They told me 11 loops plus about 1.75 miles. Okay, I thought, 2 more loops. At this point, I realized most of the runners had opted for the 50k, and there were only a few of us left on the course.

I would like to say that I had some sort of epiphany or growth experience on the last 2 loops of the course, but I didn't. I pretty much felt sorry for myself the whole way, but tried not to show it because the volunteers were having a much worse time of it than me. Chihping Fu, who had started the race but had to withdraw, put on warm clothes and went to the back-of-the-loop aid station for the rest of the day. Every time I passed, he said something encouraging, and acted like it was completely okay to be standing out in 50 mile per hour winds for 8 hours. Dave Combs, Rajeev, Stan Jensen, and Steve Jaber were so nice, and I know they were miserable in the wind. So, I tried to keep my pity party from being apparent, but as soon as I was out of their sight, I tried not to cry.

Finally, I made it to 50 miles in 8:13.11. I was hoping to hit the 50 mile mark at 7:42, so I was a little (okay, a lot) deflated, but that was replaced by relief that I didn't have to do 3 more loops. Mark Tanaka finished the 100k shortly thereafter and made me feel better when he told me that his time was 47 minutes slower this year than last. Lisa Huerta was the only woman to keep going the full 100k. I'm in awe of that woman!

I really can't say how I feel about the race just yet. I'm disappointed in myself that I couldn't/wouldn't stick it out. I wasn't hurt, just felt like it was a pointless exercise. And that bothers me. The win for the 50 miler doesn't feel as sweet, more like I don't really deserve it. I think part of our identity as ultrarunners is our mental toughness. I didn't feel mentally tough. I felt whipped. I felt like a baby. Anyway, I'm going to have to sleep on it. There are more races to come, but I want this to have meant something.

Hopefully I will have some more enlightened insights to post over the next few days. Thanks for reading. Happy running!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heading to San Francisco - Ruth Anderson 100k

I head out tomorrow for RA100k. I'm now back to looking forward to it (as opposed to dreaming up new ways of weasling out). I have had such a long taper that I just can't wait to run! I think Tim is about ready to make me run next to the car on the way to the airport - I don't do very well with tapering, especially after having the forced taper of being sick! Four weeks is waaaaaaaay too long for a taper.

This week I took it easy, just running a little every day to keep my legs moving and the craziness in check. I finally felt like I could put some miles in, but knew that would be stupid (although it took a lot of talking to my self to convince my self that it would be really stupid). I'm hoping that my enthusiasm will remain for 62 miles!

On a different, but still running related, topic (my favorite kind), how about Jamie Donaldson at Umstead and Julie Berg at McNaughton? Do those ladies rock, or what!? Jamie beat her own course record by 40+ minutes and Julie won McNaughton for the second year in a row! Both women almost won OVERALL in very tough fields. I am beyond impressed. I can't wait to watch what they do the rest of the year! Congrats Jamie and Julie!

I know some of you are racing this weekend or next, so I can't wait to get back and check in on everyone. Happy running!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I Love to Run!

Don't you just love to run - fast, slow, trails, road, whatever, wherever. There is something about the fluidity of running, the motion, the movement, that speaks to each of us. One of the reasons I love to read others' blogs is that I feed off of their excitement for the sport. If I am sick, tired, or just feeling unispired, I can hop over to one of my favorite blogs to get a nice shot of happiness. If you are a regular of any of the people I list on the left, you know that we are all very different - we train differently, race differently, and think differently. But we all love to run. I feel blessed to have found each of his/her blogs and know that there are many more out there that I will soon discover.

I'm finally getting excited about Ruth Anderson 100K. I did a tempo run this morning and felt good. As much as I complain about speedwork, I really do think it is necessary and empowering. If you are ever feeling sluggish, try some tempo running and see if it helps. More often than not it brings me out of a funk, loosens me up, and makes me feel like a runner (even if my times don't always reflect it :) I also e-mailed Rajeev Patel, the RD for RA 100K to ask a question about directions to the race. He sent back a couple of super nice, clever e-mails and now I can't wait to meet him. Don't you just love the people in this sport?

I plan to keep it simple the rest of the week. As I mentioned, Tim has decided to train for another marathon, so he is getting up and running with me a couple of days a week and it is such a treat for me. Tim is a great conversationalist, so I love having uniterrupted time with him just to talk. I think we'll probably run an easy 6 together and then I will put in a few extra just because I'm OC! My weekend calls for 1.5 -2 hours with a few miles at the end at M Pace. Next week will be pretty light, with a couple of speed bursts thrown if for good measure.

My sister arrives Friday morning, does the Noon Show on one of the local stations, and then is free for the afternoon. I'm going to pick up Charcoaler, our favorite hamburger joint (homemade onion rings - yum), and meet her at our parent's house. After lunch, Linda, our mom, and I are going to have a Green Tea foot massage. It is the best! Then Mexican food for dinner. Hopefully, we will be a little more restrained with our eating the rest of the weekend. Linda has book signings and appearances, so I don't think we're going to have tons of time to pig out! She leaves on Sunday evening to head to Texas Tech University where she is going to speak to the students. I'm going to miss her, but am already planning our trip to Manhattan to see her!

Happy running!

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I went out for a very slow 10 mile run this morning, so I thought I would attempt to take my camera. It is rather large and clunky, being several years old, so it is not something I can take on regular runs. I saw some really cool little cameras at Sam's the other day, but I digress...

Although the group was meeting this morning, I opted to sleep in and run easy. I'm feeling much better, but still a little off. Everyone I have spoken with about this virus has said that it takes awhile to fully recover, so I'm not too concerned at this point.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how could I live in a valley if I live in the desert. Basically, El Paso is high desert, very mountainous, but also has the Rio Grande running through it. Because of this mix of elements, we are lucky to have soaring peaks coupled with green lush "flatlands," with rolling foothills between.

This is where I usually run my second, solo run of the day. My first run is always asphalt with the running group, but I try to get on dirt for my second run. As you can see though, it is very flat. The mountains are in the background, but this is right outside my door, so I tend to stay close.

To the left, you can see the river. This is my favorite place to run. There is so much wildlife, that you really feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere.

Tomorrow, I plan to run an easy 20 with the group. I've already promised I'd bail if I'm not feeling okay. I'd hate for the group to have to carry me in just because I want to get some miles in this week. I'm hoping that by Monday I will be 100 percent and will be able to put in a solid week of training.

On an unabashed note of familial promotion, I just wanted to let y'all know that my sister's 17th book has just come out! It is "The Ex-Debutante," by Linda Francis Lee. As I have bragged before, Linda is a bestselling author and we are very proud of her. The best part is that she is coming to town next week as part of her book tour. I love hanging out with my sister, so I am super excited!

Have a great weekend and happy running!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Maui Wowee!

Okay, there was really no wowee involved in this Spring Break Vacation, but Maui and flu do not rhyme, and thus, do not make a catchy title! Yes, Tim and I got the flu BAD the second day we were in Maui and spent the entire trip in our hotel room with fever of 102 degress, chills, coughing, sneezing, etc. Our poor kids had to eat almost every meal at the pool cabana because it was the only restaurant we could see from our room! We just kept sending them out with instructions to get something vaguely nutritious and charge it to the room. It was terrible.

We finally recovered somewhat the day before we were coming home, just in time to fly back. It was such a drag - and such a disappointment for the kids. They still have no idea what Maui is like because they mostly saw the grounds of our hotel! After we made it home, I woke up Sunday morning throwing up. I guess I caught round #2 of the virus on the plane ride home. I've been in bed until yesterday afternoon. That is 10 days, mostly in bed, no running, no eating, no nothing. I lost a ton of weight (and not in the good places :), so I still feel pretty weak.

I had my appointment with Scott today, where I desperately tried to weasel my way out of running Ruth Anderson 100k, but he was having no part of it. My complaints of being weak, malnourished, undertrained, etc. fell on deaf ears. Man, oh man! No sob stories for Scott! He is the consummate positive thinker and assured me that I was in fine shape for a "tune-up" run. Hmmm.

I ran 4.5 miles today, but started feeling dizzy, so I stopped. I'll try again tomorrow and hope for the best. I'm hoping I just need a few days of good food and fluids and then will bounce back quickly. Scott wants me to run my last long run this weekend, but we're just going to have to see how it goes. I may be taking a 4 week taper!

I did take pictures the first day we were in Hawaii (surprise!), but I still haven't found the camera (it is highly possible that it is still under the bed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel), so I still can't post any pictures. Trust me though, there weren't many taken, so you aren't missing much!

I'm trying to check in on everyones' blogs, but it may take me a few days to post comments. I hope everyone had a good Spring Break!

Happy running!

Monday, March 17, 2008

TransMountain Challenge was a blast! We met a 6:20 and did a quick 2 mile warm-up. Jim planned to race the event, so we wanted to be ready for the start. After a quick (attempted) trip to the port-o-potty (the line was too long), we lined up for the run. Gilbert, Salvador, Francisco, Luis, and I planned to take it easy. Francisco just returned from the Run Across the Sahara, and had a little bit of a cold, so he was a good sport to even be out there. When the gun finally went off, we jogged the 1/2 mile stretch to the base of the mountain and then started the climb.

The thing that is so cool about this race is that it starts pre-dawn and you run up to the crest just as the sun is making it's way over the mountain. Transmountain Road is a highway that connects the Northeast side of El Paso to the Northwest side. It is a pretty busy road, so it is rare that we ever try to run on it. With this race, the city allows the RDs to block off the entire highway, so you really have a chance to enjoy the run and the spectacular panoramic views of the city. The road also abuts the state park where the Jackrabbit Rally is run (a lot of people use that race as a warm-up for Zane Grey), so you also have a beautiful view of the high desert early in the morning.

We all ran together for the first couple of miles, and then Gilbert and I started pushing the pace a little bit. Gilbert is called the "Salmon" because he seems to have supernatural powers when it comes to running uphill. It never even looks like he is working hard even when it is a near vertical climb - it is amazing to watch! I really wanted to get another tempo run in, so I was happy to push the pace with him so that I could raise my heart rate enough for it to count. When we finally reached the crest, Gilbert said we had done negative splits up the mountain, so I was pumped. I don't really enjoy the hills, but know that I need to do more of them in preparation for the summer. The total climb was 6.2 miles. I wasn't wearing my Garmin, but I could definitely feel like I was just below lactate threshold. If I had had to climb much further, I would have had to pull back some to keep from going anaerobic.

At the top, we turned and started to head down. Neither of us wanted to pound down, because we couldn't afford any recovery, so we took it nice and easy. Even so, my slight case of plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head and talked to me the whole way down. I think it was from pulling so hard on the way up and then turning around and going immediately downhill. Anyway, by the time we all finished the race (Jim coming in first in his age group!!), we had no interest in heading back up the mountain. We opted, instead, for a 5 mile rolling hill run. If we hadn't been pansies, we probably could have gone further. But it was super windy, which means super dusty in West Texas, and after 5 miles we had had enough. We ended the day with 20 miles and some fun memories!

Today, I just did 2 easy runs, going for distance rather than specificity. This is a peak week, so I know I have to get some solid (read: wearing a watch) runs in the rest of the week. We leave on Friday for Maui, so I don't think I will get any running in this weekend. I hope to run some in Hawaii, but you know how that goes. But, Tim has decided to run Rock N Roll San Diego in June, so I think he will want to run while we are on vacation. Having someone to go with always makes it so much easier. (I'm secretly hoping that his training will translate to pacing duties for me at KM100. I haven't mentioned it yet because he paced me at Umstead and HATED it! I haven't asked him since :)

Reading everyones' blogs sounds like there is some good training going on. I know several people are on Spring Break right now, and more head out next week. I'll keep posting and reading until the end of the week, but if you are heading out this week, have a great time!

Happy running!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weekend Warriors

Okay, not so much warriors, but I always have a hard time with the title :)

The plan for this weekend is to rest tomorrow (I haven't taken a rest day in almost 2 weeks because I got messed up with the marathon), and then do the TransMountain Challenge on Sunday. The TM Challenge is a total blast. You run 6.5 miles up the mountain, gaining about 2000 feet, and then turn around and haul back down. Some of our running group is going to race it, but most of us are just going to use it as a training run. We are going to meet early, run 3 miles for a warm-up and then head up the mountain. After the first loop (and the end of the race), we plan to turn around and do it again, giving us between 25 and 30 miles.

Our recent Seattle transplant, Luis, has a different idea. Because he is used to the soft, wonderful trails of the Pacific Northwest, he proposed that we do the second loop on trails. We tried to convince him that our trails are not what he is envisioning, but as of yet, he is not deterred. As I've mentioned, our trails are like those you encounter at Zane Gray - really technical, rocky, full of cacti and RATTLE SNAKES! A loop on the road or dirt shoulder should take us less than 2 hours, even at a jog. But a loop on the trails would be closer to 3.5 hours, I would guess. Plus, the group that is planning to use this for a long run is using it for a BOSTON training run, not Hardrock. We may just have to kidnap Luis and strip off his trail shoes and gaiters and shove his feet into more reasonable road shoes. Hopefully it won't come to this, because we really like him and want him to stick around :)

This week is my second Build week, so next week is a Peak week. We leave on Friday for Spring Break, so I'm going to have to get in a lot of running in 5 days. I plan to run on Spring Break, but you know how that goes - the road to... By needing to be done by Friday afternoon, it looks like I'm going to have to get my long runs in during the week. I'm going to have to get creative to come up with some interesting runs since I will probably have to do them alone. If you want to read about a great solo long run, hop over to Julie's blog and read about her 50 miler in the snow. She is one tough lady! I complain if I have to run more than 20 by myself :)

Speaking of solo, I would really like to not run the night portion of KM100 alone. If anyone knows of someone in Wisconsin that might be willing to pace me at night, I would be SO appreciative! I hear that they are going to have a separate race at night so that there will be more people on the trail, but since I don't ever run trails, I think it would be a good idea to have someone with me. Uncoordinated and a scaredy cat are not a good combination for a successful trail race.

Tonight is pizza night, the boys' favorite. We like to watch Monk and eat pizza in the den. Don't you wish sometimes that you could just make time stand still for just a little while? I feel like my kids are growing up so fast and it won't be long before pizza and Monk will be replaced by parties and cars. Scary. I want them to stay little for just awhile longer. I want them to stay at an age where they still insist I go in to kiss them goodnight every night, no matter what time it is when we get home. I want them to still want to read the cereal box while they slurp cereal for breakfast - and want every cheap toy that comes in the box. Sigh. I know that this time won't last, but it is wonderful right now.

Happy running!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Spring in El Paso is incredible. It is still fairly cool, but sunny, sunny, sunny. Today, it was 37 degrees in the morning, but 57 in the afternoon. I did a hill run with the group at 5:30 and then went out again by myself after I took my kids to school. I had originally only planned to do 7 miles on my second run, but the weather was so spectacular, with ducks, egrets and butterflies in abundance, I kept running, finally ending up with 13 - giving me 20 for the day. I was supposed to lift this afternoon, but dedided to postpone it until tomorrow because I'm planning to run hills again in the morning.

Bob reminded that we only have about 90 days until Kettle Moraine 100. What! I've been so focused on "facing my fears" at Ruth Anderson, I had completely avoided thinking about KM100. I'm actually super excited about running that race. I have never been to Wisconsin and I'm really looking forward to going there this summer. It is a trail race, but I think it is a pretty easy one - at least that is what I hear :)

Do you ever think about all the cool places you get to go because you are an ultrarunner? I mean, some of our races are in "ordinary" places, but a lot of them aren't. We get the chance to go all over the country (if we are willing and able), and sometimes, all over the world, just to run. How cool is that? Most "mainstream" sports hold their competitions in large "markets," needing to capitalize on the amenites of large metropolitan areas. But in our sport, it almost seems like the further off the grid, the better :) And if a race happens to be held in a big city (or close to one), the race is still held out in the boondocks! My kids love to go to races because it essentially is camping for them. We put up our tent, pack in our supplies, and the boys have a field day while I run around in circles! Plus, they get to stay up as late as they want - although I don't think they have ever actually lasted very long into the night! At Ruth Anderson, I think my family is going to hit some of the sights while I run because there is going to be tons of aid on the course and it doesn't run into the night. It will be fun to spend the weekend in San Francisco! If anyone plans to make the trip to San Fran, let me know. It looks like a great race!

I hope all of you are doing well! Happy running!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Medical and Marathons

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a week. Sorry for the silence, but I was out of town and then crazy-busy catching up! I still need to read everyones' blogs - I've really missed hearing what everyone is up to! As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to start reading.

On the medical front, everything checked out fine. Whew. It was basically a physical, but it was a little more extensive than I had anticipated when I set the initial appointment. History: At the end of the year, my wonderful orthopoedist scheduled year-end MRIs of my spine and pelvis just to check things out. I have 2 herniated discs, so we like to keep on top of them because of all the running. Anyway, the pelvic MRI showed some "issues," so my doc said I had to have a colonoscopy - yuck. I decided to have it done at Mayo because my husband is a patient there and has really liked the team approach - basically they will check whatever they think needs it rather than just looking at one specific area. Kind of like checking the whole forest rather than just a tree. I had never had a full physical, so I figured it was about time.

I went to Phoenix for my initial appointment at the beginning of February. My overseeing physician decided that I needed a colonoscopy AND an endoscopy (making sure I didn't have any upper GI issues because of a history of GERD). During the exam, he heard my heart click/murmur. I've had it for a long time (probably my whole life), but he is only the second doctor that has heard it. Because of the running, and Ryan Shay's recent death at the Olympic Trials, he felt like it was a good idea to check out the click. I wasn't really happy about it. You know how it is, if I ignore it, it will go away. But this time, he wasn't going to let me ignore it. So, I came back to El Paso and waited a month for my appointment to have ALL issues check out at once. I was dreading it, frankly.

But, when all was said and done, I had a clean bill of health. With all the new technology, the cardiologist/EP was able to determine that I Did Not have mirtral valve prolapse (which is what I had assumed for the past 7 years). Yeah!!!! In addition, my colon and upper GI are totally fine. So, as much of a hassle as it was, I am so relieved that I bit the bullet and just got it all over with.

Since I was okay, I decided to go ahead and run the El Paso Marathon. I had initially planned to pace a friend who wanted to qualify for Boston, but when I thought I might be out of commission, I found her someone else. So, I just signed up the day before and decided to use it for my tempo run and long run combined. I know, this is not the smartest idea, but I was all messed up from being out of town.

The course starts with one mile flat and then 3 miles of significant climb, so it worked out well to just start nice and easy. I like to run my marathons between 3:35 and 3:40 because this allows me some slow, easy warm-up miles, some tempo in the middle, and some steady running at the end. I wasn't wearing a Garmin (I know, I know), so I just went off my breathing. At mile 4, the course has a great downhill which I used to get my legs turning over. I spent the next 9 miles just focusing on my stride, breathing, and effort level. At the halfway point, I caught my friends (Erica needed a 3:40 to qualify), so I figured I was on pace. I ran with Luis for about 5 miles and then he wanted to pull back because his ankle was hurting. I decided it was time to relax a little and bring the tempo down so I wouldn't be too beat up. I have another high mileage week this week, so I couldn't afford any time off for recovery. I turned my iPod on and ran the last 8 miles at a steady, relaxed pace. I finished in 3:38 (with both half marathon splits at 1:49) and felt good about the effort.

This week is a build week, so I am just putting in the miles and trying to pay attention to what I am doing! It really is hard for me. I just HATE wearing a watch, HATE scheduling the type of workout ahead of time, HATE running on a time frame. But, with Ruth Anderson coming up, I really am trying. I think that race is going to take a lot of mental concentration because it is short(er) and looped. I'm just praying it is just not going to feel like one long marathon (that would be torture :)

I'm off to read Blogs! Happy running!