Monday, September 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

I am now officially an ultrarunner!

And my quads are toast. Plus I have about 12 -15 super itchy wasp/yellowjacket/something stings. But I'm happy.

Aunt Cathy was super wonderful and drove me to the start of the point to point Skyline to the Sea (now known as Skyline to the Bees) 50K race. It was beautifully cool, foggy and misty. Perfect running weather.

The race started at a plodding walking pace. Perfect. That's the way I like to start a race! No bolting out of the gate...hey folks, we'll be out here for a few hours.

The first 6 miles or so were mostly downhill to the first aid station. I had fun listening to everyone's conversations around me and piping in here and there. At about 3ish miles in I heard people screaming on the trail up ahead. Huh? That's not good.

Wasps, yellowjackets...killer bees? We're not sure what they were but they were darned angry and protective of their digs. We encountered several pockets of these buggers through the race up until about the midpoint. Then blessedly we didn't have anymore. The worst for me was right after the China Grade Aid Station where one went down my shirt and stung me a couple of times on the neck and back. I happened to be crossing a "bridge" that was only a single wooden plank over a break in the trail. I nearly went ass over teakettle into the ravine.

China Grade was the biggest uphill in this race. Didn't seem bad at all and I was really being conservative and did a lot of hiking on the hills. I probably didn't need to and would have had a much better finishing time if I hadn't. I found the extreme downhills to be worse. I actually WANTED to go uphill instead! I was way too conservative on the five mile loop at Gazos Creek. There was a pretty steep uphill of a few kilometers that I mostly hiked, which was okay but I could've run some of it easily. But not knowing what to expect I played everything very conservatively.

The Famous Dirt Diva Catra and her man Andy were at the Gazos Creek aid station. So I got to see them twice as there was a loop there. Thanks for being there guys. It really motivated me in the miles before that to know that there was someone there I knew.

It was the downhills that killed me! Especially around Berry Creek Falls. Lots of rocks and very steep downhills that required big strides that I was no longer happy about/capable of that late in the game. I started talking to and yelling at the rocks. Like after millions of years laying there they had no right to be in MY way.

Okay, so I shut up so that no one would pull me for hallucinating. My wasp stings were all taking turns burning - first the ones on my left arm, then the ones on my right shoulder, then the ones under my right shoulder and lastly the neck/back ones. Then the cycle would start all over again. At least they took my mind off of my back/upper glutes which were very tight. They've been tight for a while so I wasn't surprised. I was just hoping that they wouldn't go out on me or something. Surprisingly, they seem totally fine and even loose now! My quads are what is tight and tired now!

After Berry Creek Falls the trail widens out and slopes gently downward for the most part. Every little rock in the trail required a lot of brain power for me to avoid. I ate half of a Cliff Bar. Where in the world is that last aid station? I knew that when I hit that aid station there was only 2-plus a little bit of miles to go! Around every twist and turn I looked for that aid station. They must be moving it further away as I run toward it! Did they shut it down already??

There was much rejoicing when I found it. There was even more rejoicing when I found out that there were only 1.9 miles to go!!! I didn't really need anything at this station, just added a bit more water to my bag for the final assault and I was off.

I emerged from the woods next to some farms and fields. This was a total dejavu moment, I remembered this scene from running here years ago. It can't be far now.

Suddenly there were people and cars and a parking lot! Is this it? Not yet. I see the striped ribbons up ahead signaling a turn around a building. The trail then dove into a wierd hedgerow type of environment that was sort of marshy too. Crossed a couple of little bridges over streams. What the heck is this? The bushes are at least 15 feet high on either side. It's like running through a tunnel. I start to doubt that I'm going the right way....

And then bam! I'm out and there are orange cones and a finish line. And there's hubby scrambling for his camera. And it's finished! I'm done. I'm an ultrarunner!


Things That Weren't so Great -

  • Probably ran too conservatively - I'm really not at all upset about that, better safe than sorry, I didn't know what the heck to expect!

  • Wasps/bee stings - Eh! Whatever. It's nature and you've got to expect it. I rather have that than a lot of other things.

Things That Went Great!

  • Volunteers, Aid Stations, Race Directors - Great race guys! Thank you so much!

  • No turned ankles, falls or anything like that

  • No blisters, toenails are all accounted for

  • Finished strong. I could still run.

Today, my quads are still quite sore. Decending anything is a bitch. But I'm smiling. I'll be running again in a few days and looking forward to the Stinson Beach 50K!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tomorrow is THE DAY

Yikes, or Zoikes! as Scooby would say.

It's here, I knew the time would come eventually. I wish I could have gotten two more looooong runs in to feel really confident...but there's no time now. Skyline to the Sea is tomorrow.

I have my transportation all figured out. Hubby and girls are going to drop me off at Saratoga Gap at about 8ish and meet with hubby's aunt for breakfast and hanging out together for the rest of the time. Maybe going to Santa Cruz. I will run for 6ish+ hours through the woods. I'll give them a call from just before the finish if I'll be earlier (by some miracle of the running gods no doubt).

I'm going to get my bag all packed and my hydration pack all packed today/tonight. I'll make sure that I have everything set so that I don't have to worry about it at all. Since I already have the willies I don't want to add any more stress to myself because I'll just become a crazy whiny fool.

Today, a little yoga and stretching. And my usual Friday evening volunteering at the local no-kill animal shelter. And then a goooood night's sleep if I can get it.

Wish me luck! The next post will be about the race.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I'm not sure why it works but it does. Better than regular stretching, yoga seems to loosen up all those knots on me. I'm going to go hit that mat again today to loosen up that lower back.

I might go for a wee little trail run at Edgewood today to get the willies out. I'm getting excited for the the race on Saturday. I'm actually not scared or nervous...I'm totally excited for it. Is that a good sign? I hope so. I can't wait for a beautiful day in the woods where I'll be met at the finish line by my kiddos, my hubby and his auntie.

I'm enjoying my off-time from regular 9-5 work. I've enjoyed it so much that I've decided for sure that I'm not going back. Life is so much better for the family this way. I have some emerging opportunities to do some fitness training part time -which I'm exploring (everyone cross their fingers!) The changes are exciting, and needed. Like so many other friends out there in blogger land this fall seems to be a season of change. And I believe that they are all good changes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taper Caper

All I want to do is go on a long run in the woods. Because I shouldn't.

Today it will be an easy something or other around here and some Yoga. My butt and back are tight again. I'm constantly stretching but it doesn't seem to be helping. Some gooood downward dogs should help. Happy running everyone and congrats to everyone who ran Angeles Crest this past weekend. It sounds like it was epic!

Transcendant Trail Run Pics

Right after this sign things get really steep.
This is looking down the canyon...I just can't seem to capture how steep it is here.
The beginning of the Lonely Trail, which it is. Nothing else intersects it until the end. Parts of the trail get thin and worn away so you can tell that not too many people get up and out into these parts.
I found this little dude on the Lonely Trail. Ain't he cute?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Transcendant Trail Run

(Will update with pictures when camera is charged up!)

I did my last long run yesterday from Huddart thru Phleger, over the Skyline Trail to Wunderlich and back again. All in all it was about 20 miles I think. My Nike iPod thingy crapped out in the middle somewhere and was on "pause" for some unknown reason so I lost some mileage there. It's just details....doesn't really matter.

Yesterday was glorious, gorgeous, spectacular on the trail! I was a little creeped out up on the Lonely Trail all by myself, but I eventually got over it with some endorphins and the beauty of the redwoods plus the perfect weather. I didn't pass a single other runner on the trail through my whole run! That in itself didn't make it a great run, it was just strange to see no one at all. I wouldn't have minded some company.

I noticed that the big climb of the Miramontes Trail just before the Lonely Trail intersection was a lot easier than when I ran it before. It's a tough, steep climb -- but this time I wasn't winded at all. All of the climbs have suddenly become easier! I almost felt like I was floating up the mountain! I must have lost weight and gained some fitness. It's funny how it seems to happen suddenly, out of no where. I've been training hard for months, but the changes seem to come over night and surprise me.

I love this feeling of fitness! It's better than any tequilla drink or ice cream sundae. It's freedom. That's what I like the best about it. I'm suddenly unencumbered by my lungs or dragging my fat body up a trail huffing and puffing. To dance along the trail is a feeling that I've missed since 2000. That day that I broke my leg I was having a fabulous trail run, ironically my husband was huffing and puffing behind me not having a great day. Luckily he had enough in the tank to carry me out to the car.

And the freedom to have no fear on the trails! More than fitness, more than laziness it's fear that has kept me from going very far. I had to get over the fear of breaking my leg again or doing something else damaging out on the trail. The leg break was a freak accident, not something that normally happens. But now I carry my cellphone and a bunch of other things in my water pack incase of emergency, so I'm prepared. And when I run alone I'm cautious on the downhills and very conscious of every single footfall.

I do fight the eebie jeeies about mountain lions. I have seen mountain lions, so it's not a baseless fear, BUT -- they've never done anything to me or even hinted at doing anything to me. Of the encounters that I've had (3) two were clearly bored by our prescence and the third was scared out of his wits. I welcome the other animal encounters, coyotes, bobcats, deer, etc. I don't listen to my iPod when I run trails, I like to be aware of everything around me (and hear the birds sing and the squirrels chatter)

I finished my long run strong! That's what I'm proudest and happiest about. I actually sprinted in and didn't feel strained or super tired. I really concentrated on my pose form throughout and I think that this made it the great run that it was. I have confidence that next weekend will be good for me. I can't wait until a 50k training run is no problem for me...a walk in the woods! (Yes, I secretly want to be Catra).

Today I feel pretty good. My lower back is tight and needs stretching, but that seems to be my ailment of the month and was not caused by the run. So now it's taper time. Low mileage...take it easy 'till next Saturday... :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Track Day?

Hmmmm. Maybe I'll do a technique training day. Yeah, that's the ticket...I'll work on technique at the track rather than speed. I don't think that any heavy speed work is going to help me all that much at this point. In fact I'm afraid of it hurting. So if I happen to go fast due to better technique...well so be it!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Whew! Hot Spell

Wow! We had a long spell of hot (for us) weather. About a week of 90+ temps. What was cool about it is that it didn't bother me at all - so I guess I'm heat trained and acclimated...just in time for the end of summer!

Well, actually, it is good because we do get some of our hottest weather in the fall. So I'm prepared. Much better than the Big Basin race where the heat just bitch-slapped me into a whining pile of meat. I was being such a baby.


On my long run last week I hit Huddart Park during the heatwave and did a nice 2 hour loop in the woods. It wasn't nearly as long as I wanted to go but I ran out of time after having done some errands that I shoud've done on another day. But maybe it was good that I had a little bit of an easy week on the mileage because I was starting to feel a little ragged.

It was 95 degrees in the parking lot. That's pretty hot for around these parts. What makes it even hotter is that most of us don't have air conditioning in our houses so they become little ovens during these heatwaves. But, like I said, it didn't seem to bother me this time around. As I headed off on the trail ( I went out Zweirlein to Crystal Springs) there were gray squirrels just kickin' it in the middle of the trail. They'd lay with their legs splayed out, bellies dug into the dirt in the shade to cool off. Very, very mad when I disturbed their comfort.

As I wound up the mountain I concentrated on leaning into the hill and using gravity as my friend - i.e. "falling" up the mountain. I'm revisiting the Pose Method as I'm feeling that my running is getting too much like plodding. I discovered a little tidbit of information buried inside Dr. Romanov's book. He mentions briefly as you learn the method to just kind of bounce in place to get the feeling of elasticity in your legs. This helped my relax my feet and ankles too, which were very strained and stressed. Why on earth do I carry tension in my feet? Anyway, this little excercise created a kind of "aha!" moment for me, relieving the tension in my ankles and feet and giving me that right Pose Method feeling back again.

Going up the mountain you end up running through two different types of forest - an oaky brushy one and the redwood forest. The oaky one makes me nervous. Strikes me as the best place for a mountain lion to sneak around. It's also very dry right now, dryer than I remember ever seeing it. It looks like some of the springs have dried up as I saw a lot of ferns that were totally dead. I just hope we make it to the rainy season soon and without an awful fire up there. There's a big section of this brushy forest that I run through on the Crystal Springs Trail. I love getting out of it and back into the redwoods again. The redwoods are also noticeably cooler and moister. Great for running. And the trails under the redwoods are noticeably softer and smoother.

I always forget about one section near the top that is so steep it's pretty much unrunnable. Makes me cuss out loud. At least here I was entertained by a beautiful pileated woodpecker. I tried to get a picture of him but he just laughed at me and swooped from tree to tree. I've seen more of these this year than ever before.

I got to the top in good time and was super happy to have the rollercoaster downhill home ahead of me. Just as i was blasting around a turn a very young buck with little stubble horns bolted across the trail about an arm's length infront of me. I tried to get some pictures of him and his three girlfriends but my hand was pretty shaky right after that, and he wasn't holding still either.

I was surprised to feel so good on the way down. I "posed" it down Chincapin to the Dean trail and back down to Zwierlein. My legs felt nice and springy for a change. I saw a coupla bunnies just before the Werder campground area and tried to get some pictures of them but they were off and bounding by the time I got my camera out.


This week I'll do a looooong training run and then start tapering for Skyline to the Sea. I think a good final long, long run will give me the confidence and stamina to pop that 50K bubble. There's nothing more that I can do for the event except just do it. The best I can do after my last long run is....nothing. Actually, taper which I know is going to be sooo hard!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

End of Summer

I can feel it in the air. Fall is coming. And there are Halloween decorations at Target. All the signs are there....summer is coming to an end.

Every year it seems to come sooner and it feels harder to accept. I like summer, a lot. I like it being light for so many hours. I like the warmth. I'm not ready for fall and winter yet.

Sometimes I do like the nip in the air and the peacefulness of running in the dark. But I think I dislike it more than like it. One of the problems is that it's always sort of winter here and never really winter. All the seasons are like that. Oddly enough I think that I'd tolerate the winter more if it would just really be a big bad snowy winter and get it over with already. We get a wet, grey, drippy, old gym sock of a winter out here with lots of grey days and endless nowhere rain that is neither a storm or a sprinkle. Boring. And very un-Yuletide-y.


Just for the record - I had a dream about a big earthquake. Let's hope it means nothing more than that I need antacids before going to bed.


We celebrated the end of summer by heading up to hillbilly heaven for a bit of outdoor recreation. There was much running, trail hiking, dirt collecting on clothing and just futsing around. The long weekend went by way, way too quickly. The kids are still tired. Nadya napped on the way to school this morning. Now that's tired!

I almost did the 20 miler of the Run on the Sly race series but opted to sleep in instead. It just was too much to squish into a family weekend on late notice. I'm definitely putting it on the calendar for next year, and then it will be the 50k.

We did visit the trails that the race was run on. And we accidentally visited the spot where in 2000 I tripped on some inbedded rocks and broke my leg. It took a long time for me to be able to run again, and a long time for me to be able to run on trails without being afraid of this happening again. I feel so lucky to have healed so well.

Infamous leg-breaking rocks on trail around Jenkinson (aka Sly) Lake