Saturday, July 30, 2016

tahoe rim trail 100

i haven't blawged in ages!  derrick was pretty entertained by my race report and insisted i do this.  so here goes - and warning - i use the eff word a LOT ...


i must say, i wasn't as freaked out going into this, which was nice!  maybe the stoopid yoga and meditation helped?!  and the fact that i actually felt ready for a change!

first amusing thing was getting my rental car in sacramento and not knowing how to use the keyless, push button start thingy!  for fuck sakes, just give me a fucking key!  luckily some nice guy showed me how it worked and i was on my way!   argh!  why didn't somebody tell me it was frantic chaos trying to get out of the airport and on the freeway!   stoopid volume on stoopid gps was turned off.  i had the sense to pullover and turn it on!  yaya!   i'm finally on my way!

i got to the hotel and was exhausted, i just wanted to go to bed.  but i went for dinner, came back and promptly fell asleep watching tv - a novelty cuz i don't have one at home!!  i woke up around 8:30 and went for my streak run - stoopid streak!   then back to bed!

next morning i met Richard and his wife and daughter from California.  they dragged me along to the grocery store and then later to dinner at applebees.   really super nice people!   the race briefing was in the park and when race director George asked who was a first timer at trt100, i put up my hand.  a guy beside me asked, did you not have any friends to talk you out of this??    hahaha!



i was pretty calm the whole time leading up to the race!  yay!  saturday I had the alarm set for 2:15 (groan) to catch a bus at 3:15 to take us to the start (groan).   at 5:00 we were off.  i made the mistake of thinking at the 1 mile mark that i still had 99 miles to go!   doh!  that was pretty overwhelming.   i hooked up with this guy harris almost right away.   we were a good match.  he was faster on the downhills and i was better on the climbs.  we were trying to stay together.  at the 30 mile mark we had this wicked climb up a ski hill - about 1.5 miles and all sand.  took an hour!   i just put my head down and powered up it, passing a bunch of people on my way!  yay! 

at about 15 hours, we were getting closer to the halfway mark and i started experiencing the demons - the ones telling me to stop.   my feet hurt and i was sure i couldn't run another 20 hours.   i kept telling harris i was gonna stop, but he said no, and to come with him and his pacer.  so, at the aid station, i took off my shoes -  my toes had poked thru my sox - shook out the dirt, drank a smoothie and some broth, and miraculously felt better.   okay, i'll keep going.  his pacer was this short, blond, super strong looking Norwegian chick who seemed kinda worried that we weren't moving fast enough. i could tell she was a little anxious about me tagging along and slowing them down.  then harris came back and tried very nicely to say they were going ahead, which i totally understood.  i tried to make him feel better and said i'd prolly stop soon anyway.  he said i'd better not, blah blah blah.  funny though, once they left, i felt way better.  i think her nervous energy was fucking me up!   so i wandered along the trail through the night, picking up people along the way, and randomly running with others. i especially remember these two awesome chicks dressed in rainbow colored tutus with amazing energy! at one point i was by myself, and my tummy started gurgling.  uh oh! i gotta shit NOW!  i darted behind a big rock and let loose something that would shame a cow!  hahaha!   and i had to sacrifice a bandana!  but man did my tummy feel better!  it was hilarious!

 i kept hitting the cutoffs and asking if i had time and they just laughed at me.  you have two hours!  i was shocked cuz usually i'm sprinting (ok, running faster than my usual shuffle) into the aid stations with minutes to spare!!.  i was with this guy gilbert for awhile - nice guy, knows francesco and aaryn - but eventually got ahead of him.  i believe this was right after having had another cow patty episode - this time using a
piece of bark to wipe - owwww!!  i pulled into the 80 mile aid station and was ecstatic to see pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon AND starbucks coffee!  heaven!   just as i was getting ready to throw my pack back on, harris and his pacer came out of the chalet!   i was stunned i'd caught them!  i put my hands on my hips and exclaimed, WTF!!

hahaha!!!   so up the ski hill for the second time (or whatever the fuck that thing was)  not as easy, but still totally doable!  now it was when i reached the aid station at the top that i started to get fucked up.   for some reason i thought i was going to the snow valley peak station next, expecting to find it at the top of the mountain.  but it wasn't looking at all familiar.   there were a ton of switchbacks and i kept yelling at them!  ha!  and then i started seeing things.  i'd see a person in the distance sitting on a rock, but when i got there they were gone.  then i started seeing turning markers and signs, but when i got closer, they weren't there.  i kept thinking i'd missed a turn and would yell, where the fuck is a ribbon!  the trees were taking shape and so were the rocks!   i was hearing people behind me that weren't there!   a guy caught up to me and  i asked if he was seeing stuff and he said for sure!  that was somewhat reassuring.  it got to where i was afraid to look up, so i just stared at the trail!   we started coming down and harris actually caught me just before we reached the aid station.  i was a sight, my eyes were blood red from my contacts and i know i smelled really bad.   i came into the station and asked them if they'd moved it from the day before.   they looked at me kinda funny.  then i asked about the signs and flamingos they'd had the day before.  at this point harris said we were at the Hobart aid station, not snow valley.  and then the volunteers were REALLY looking at me funny. so i thought, fuck, shut up, they're going to make you stop.   i laughed and said, oh shit ya, i just got confused and got my sorry arse out of there before they pulled me off the course!!   i hit the next aid station after another wicked climb, definitely snow valley this time, and was treated to peach sorbet - mmmmmm!  7 miles to go!  i kinda figured i was gonna make it at this point, but as the captain says, you don't high five till you reach the car.   i was getting pretty tired but still passing the odd person, and still running the flats and downhills for the most part.  luckily it was mostly downhill! 

i got to the last aid station with 1.7 miles to go.  i was so excited!  now the shitter was that you could see the finish, but you had to go all the way around the fucking lake!  argh!  so i was, run run run, fuck i'm tired, walk walk, fuck i'm almost done, run run run, fuck i'm tired, walk walk, how much further, fuck, run run run, fuck, walk walk, oh wait, there it is!!  i came across the finish and plopped down in a chair.   i had no idea my time so was super happy when i heard it - just under 33 and a half hours.  then i yelled at George for making us go all the way around the lake! he said he'd had a lot of that already!  haha!  i was also super shocked to find out that i had placed third in the female 50-59 age group!   WTF!?!?  i was just happy to finish!!


i had left my phone at the start/finish the day before so i went to get it for a finishing shot.  this nice volunteer took a few but when i looked at them, i noticed some guy photobombing me!  WTF?  i showed it to her and was looking around for the guy.  she looked at me strange and said that there was nobody in the pic, that it was the tent in the background.  i wasn't convinced so i had her take another pic.   same thing, except this time there was a big moon face and a dragon made of leaves!  yikes.  hay wait, somebody hacked my phone!  ya!  that's it!  they took it out of my drop bag and put these images on the screen!
 

when we got to the buckle ceremony i showed my phone to Harris's kids.  i asked if it was possible to hack someone's phone and put images on it, and how could i remove them!  they looked at me really strangely and said that there were no images.  fuck!  so i said, oh ya, no worries, i'll google it later!  VERY VERY KOOL BUCKLE by the way ...


then i started noticing these cartoon images on my legs!   they kept changing shapes. it was was wild!   when we were getting shuttled back to the hotel i was seeing them on one of the other runner's legs, and mentioned it to him.  he rubbed at his legs, said there was nothing there, and moved further away from me!  haaa! i was excited to get back to the hotel so i could post a pic with my results.  imagine my surprise when i went on facebook and saw 28 notifications!  WTF?   i hadn't told anyone about being able to follow along live so was super shocked to see how many people were watching my progress.  thank gawd i didn't shit the bed on this one!  i guess the combination of cosmic energy helped me finish!  that and my cuz karen praying her little heart out!  i read every comment and was overwhelmed!   i sat in the lobby (cuz i couldn't get the internet in my room) with my dirty legs, smelly feet, red eyes and ongoing hallucinations for an hour reading everything.  i can't even describe how that felt.  i finally showered and ate the medium pizza i had ordered before falling into a fitful sleep!

i guess the best part is that i finished.  and i remained strong the whole way.  and that i sucked it up.  my feet were sore, but nothing i couldn't deal with.   i KNOW the training was bang on.  as i was nearing the top of the highest climbs it actually felt like i was dragging alice!  brilliant!  and i kept thinking about all the encouragement and support people had given me before i left.  i hope you all realize how much you helped me get through this!  it still hasn't sunk in but i'm super happy.

and finally, to my coach, my alice, i thank you. i thank you for making me strong and making me believe i could do this!  you are the bestest!




Saturday, September 26, 2015

golden ultra

after the usual kerfuffle of me having a panic attack last minute and almost not going, then having moose call me a loser, having chantal almost kidnap me on the way, and finally having D threaten to throw tires at my place AND drive me to the airport in his trunk, i packed my duffle, had greg pick me up in his shiny corvette, and eventually got my ass on the plane to calgary!  i am such a loser!!  and for what you're all wondering -  the golden ultra - a three day stage race in bc aptly named 'blood, sweat and tears' ...
 

as usual, once i got there i was fine!  for gawd sakes!  chantal had met this guy alan at bighorn in june and he offered to house, entertain and drive us around for the weekend!  man, he did a great job!  we were spoiled rotten!  on our way to golden friday morning we stopped for a quick glimpse of lake louise.  check out the touristy shot of chantal, kat and me ...


i can't quite remember where this is - we had stopped for a pee - but nice pic of alan, kat, me and chantal!  kat, by the way, is awesome.  not only is she a high-end obstacle course racer, but she does crossfit, now she ultraruns, AND, she looks like she could kick over a bus!


we arrived in golden just after lunch, and after registering we headed to our rooms at the kicking horse lodge.  stage one, 'blood', was scheduled to start at 4pm. although it was only 5k, the total elevation gain was 1000m!  so  basically we just 'ran' up kicking horse mountain! 


the girls ...



we were given 2 hours to get to the top, but i was pleasantly surprised to find myself at the summit in 1:20!  and it was snowing!   brrrrrr!   after a couple pieces of watermelon and a picture, i threw on my puffy and took the gondola back down to the bottom, where alan was waiting with a hot chocolate!  what a sweetie!!!  and yes, i did use my poles, and yes, they were great - my legs were fine!  shut up spafford!


day two, 'sweat', was a lot more intimidating!  total distance was 57k with 2500m elevation, beginning at 7:30 with a 12 hour time limit.


here we are at the start, with me looking especially creeped out ...


we ran along a road for about 2.5k - ew - before heading into the trail.  and then we climbed, and climbed, and climbed for close to 30k.   here's chantal - hours ahead of me!  haha ...


again, i was thankful for the poles, although they kept coming apart.  the only thing that stopped me from throwing them off the mountain was knowing i could get my money back!


jen from golden!!
 

at the top, but before the aid station, we had to run along the ridge!  this was scary as shit!  i'm not good with heights, and was actually thankful for a bit of cloud cover so i couldn't see the drop over the side!  the best part was this guy carrying his bike up on his back and calling ME awesome!  seriously buddy!  i'm barely holding on and you're carrying a fucking bike on your back!  too funny!  so after 6 and a half hours i made it to the top!  it was amazing and i felt great!  i absolutely LOVED the climb!!
 

it was the descent that trashed me!  20k of foot pounding, quad thrashing downhill!  luckily the views were a great distraction ...


i really wish i had have taken more pics, but i was pretty focused on just getting done within the time limit.  fuck i'm stoopid!


i held it together for the most part, but the bottom of my feet were getting sore!  and of course then i started obsessing that i was getting blisters!  haa!  i did keep looking around though, and was really appreciating my ability to do this kind of stuff!  the last little pavement section was, as kat put it, 'soul sucking', and pretty much involved running from one pylon to the next.  i didn't look 'my best' as i came into the finish, but i was real happy with my time - 10 hours and 17 minutes.


it was however, bittersweet.  when i turned on my phone to take a finishing shot, i had a message informing me that a running friend had died from injuries suffered from a freakish and tragic accident the day before.  i was too distraught to do anything but sit on a curb and bury my head in my hands.   i cried for a beautiful person who never got to come run trails with me.  i dedicated this stage to her, leaving a little piece of her high up on kicking horse mountain.  rest in peace gentle diane, you will be missed.


that night i was afraid i wouldn't even be able to get out of bed the next morning, let alone run 20k.  i was stiff as a dawg's asshole!  after a great dinner of squash soup and a bison burger, i got myself ready for bed.  let's see, i'll try a couple advil, some magnesium, a couple fish oil caps, and this biofreeze stuff chantal gave me to rub on my legs.  as i was lying in bed watching american ninja, my legs started to get cold, then really cold!  they almost went numb!  oh great!  then after about thirty minutes, they started to sweat - profusely!  oh great!  i think i managed to fall asleep around 10:30 - dreaming fretfully of what the next day would bring!   when i woke up the next morning and gingerly hauled my ass out of bed, i was pleasantly surprised, and relieved, to be able to walk with little discomfort!  woohoo!  stage 3 here i come!  the 'tears' was a nice, short 20k on mostly single track.
 

my legs were a little kranky off the start, but loosened up nicely after about thirty minutes.  the first few downhill were a bit testy, but by the aid station at the half-way point i was feeling good.  and i got stronger as i went.  it's so amazing what our bodies are capable of if you just let them do it.  i loved the course, lots of rolling hills and beautiful forest scenery.  i came into the finish after 3 hours and 16 minutes, well under the 4 hour time limit.


my total time over the three stages was just under 15 hours.  chantal came 3rd in the female open category and kat was 6th!!  me, i was 5th in the master's division.  not bad for three little ladies from ontario whose longest hill repeats only last 6 minutes ...


and THIS guy is ben!  ben is also a client of derrick who lives in the yukon!  the yukon is on my bucket list (along with meeting syn martinez) so i was sure to get a contact for a future road trip!



we didn't get a finisher medal, but i was really touched when alan presented me with this ...
 

with still a day to play in the mountains, we decided to drive to banff on monday - again, alan was the best!!  my buddies leslie and keith were in montana for the weekend, but we, well i, thought it would be hilarious to stop at their house and take a picture.  thanks for humoring me guys!


from there we drove up to the base of sulphur mountain, and hiked 5k to the top! 


i wasn't in 'race mode' so i managed to get a few pics ...



what a great way to stretch out our legs and finish off our trip ...


and yes, we took the gondola down!



in all it was an amazing trip and a huge thanks to chantal, kat and alan for making it so much fun!   and i think my new shirt from beard boss ross pretty much sums it up - well, except for the beard part...


and may i never forget ...








Wednesday, July 1, 2015

bighorn 76'er

i'm never sure i'm going to get to the finish when i do these huge runs, especially after my track record the past few years, but this time i felt kinda almost nearly 85% confident!  training went well, very well!  i was signed up for the sulphur 50 miler end of may, but decided last minute to ditch the 3:30 wake up, the drive to hamilton, the 4 loops of a course i'd run many times before, the being all fucked up at the end and having to drive home, and planned my own little route instead.  and that way, when i finished, all fucked up, all i had to do was sit in a chair!  i got duncan to drop water on the 5th, got up at a reasonable 6am, packed my shit and ran over to hockley and back.  what could go wrong!?   i was smiling right up until 9 hours, and then i got tired. but overall, i was soooo happy with my 'plan'.   i got in over 12 hours of running, 70k distance and about 10,000' climbing!


i also did some early morning runs - love these ...


where would you rather be ...


an hour tire pull with alice at the end of a 6 hour run ...


 more sunrises ...


a night run ...


a detour over to my friend kim's new property!  i figured this would be a good place for a squat rack!


one last run with alice, and it was time to taper ...


i got my buddy greg to drive me to the airport and i was off to calgary to meet up with my awesome friend leslie for a road trip of epic proportions !!!  minor panic attack as we sat on the plane in toronto for 45min, waiting for them to try and fix some fuel light.  and even more panic when they announced they would be removing SOME of the luggage and putting it on another flight!  AND especially panicked because i had actually checked my bag for the first time in a hundred years AND put ALL my krap in it!  argh!   when we finally arrived in calgary and i saw my beat up old red duffel bag roll down the chute, i shrieked and hugged a random stranger!  what a relief!


leslie met me at the airport, and we drove to banff, but not before we did a little 'shake out run/hike/shuffle' up mount yamnuska!



i LOVE this pic!


on our way back, we spotted a grizzly on the side of the road!


and some sheep!


ohmygawd!   so beautiful!


the next day we drove back to calgary, where i met our other trip mate angela, and finally made our way down to montana.  we spent the night at great falls, and this was the sunrise i woke up to ...


we stopped at the local walmart in butte for an impromptu 'eat out of the van' breakfast!  angela even bought us sippy bowls ...


we got to wyoming early afternoon, and after picking up our race kits we eventually found the 'cabin in the woods' that oliver had rented for us.   kevin from boston showed up just in time for dinner, and we all got settled in.  race start wasn't until 11 the next day for the 100 milers, so we had lots of time to get ready in the morning.  here's a shot of the 4 of us - looking all clean and happy ...


it was a warm one, over 30 i heard, but that didn't really bother me.  what a beautiful area - i was forever stopping and gawking around!  i managed to wipe out within the first 10 miles or so and sprain my finger - what a loser!  made life a bit difficult when i was trying to undo my pack, or change my sox!  hahaha!  anyway, here are a few of the shots i managed to take ...


wildflowers everywhere ...


a pic of me trying to get over one of the wooden bridges - i don't do bridges very well ...


one of the climbs ...


top of one of the climbs - check out the sky!


a few more shots along the way ...


i was feeling great.  i got to the jaw's aid station about 3:30 in the morning - 90 minutes to spare!  i had managed to run most of the night in the dark, BY MYSELF!  i met up with oliver who had decided to pull the chute, as his foot was all nasty from a stress fracture.  that SUCKED!  after changing my sox and grabbing some food, i headed back down the mountain.  i literally almost ran in to kevin on his way up - he had been having stomach issues and was also forced to withdraw.  that SUCKED too!  up to this point, i was able to avoid most of the mud, and i was patting myself on the back for still having a sense of humour about it!  but like the captain says, no high fives until you get back to the car ...     not 5 minutes later i found myself in a bog with double shoe suck happening.   my feet were already getting a bit sore, and here i am, standing in 6" of mud with both feet on top of my shoes.  and because i'm superstitious, i have to fix the left foot first, even though my right foot was wrapped around my shoe and causing me a lot of grief!  i'm cursing like a lumberjack - i may even have said the 'c' word a few times, and trying to put my shoes back on, while standing on a 12" tuft of grass and trying not to cramp!  needless to say, the guy who came up behind me said he DID hear me, but that he didn't blame me, and that he was not offended!   hahaha!

the sun started peeking thru the mountains just after 4:30 i think.  it was beautiful.  i can't stop thinking of how scenic this run was.


it kinda went bad after this point.  my legs still felt good, but i was getting stoopid blisters on both sides of my feet.    WTF!?  taping and changing sox wasn't helping.  i even tried changing shoes but that made it worse.  i could feel myself getting slower, obsessing about my feet and wanting to stop.  but i kept pushing, i hated the thought of giving up.   i came into the aid station at 76 miles and asked one of the amazing volunteers to tape my feet so i could go on.  he looked at me and said that i only had 90 minutes to make it 6.5 miles on a technical climb.  i looked at him and asked him to try.  i sat in the chair and waited patiently for him to tape my feet, but i think it was too long.  when i stood up it felt like my legs had melted into my shoes.  i could barely stand and at that point i realized i couldn't suck it up anymore.   fuck!  27 hours and 30 minutes and my race was over.   on the bright side, i got to hang out at a really kool aid station with some really kool people.  this is starchy and heidi , both of whom stopped with me.  and i must admit, it was kinda fun getting a ride back to the next aid station on the back of an ATV!


here's a shot of the elevation profile, just in case you're wondering what the hell i was doing ...


but as always, it isn't just about finishing (at least i keep telling myself that) but it's about having a good time, and i ran until i wasn't having a good time anymore.  i ran in one of the most beautiful places ever, and i got to spend time with awesome friends.  i am lucky to be able to do this.

and the shot you all are waiting for ...


happy canada day!


and remember ...