Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weekly Update: 4/23-4/29/12

Distance (mi)
Elevation Gain (ft)
Flying J Ranch
Buffalo Creek

The Good
  • Got in some pretty solid climbing considering I didn't do a long run.
  • Finally ran the whole neighborhood route. No walking, no breathing breaks. Didn't seem so tough. Couldn't figure out why it's always been so hard. The mountain running is definitely helping.
  • Did a fun hill workout with Becca at Matthews/Winters. A good change from Green Mountain. The repeat hill was pretty technical, which kept it interesting. Only slipped and hit my shin on a rock once.
The Bad
  • By Thursday I was completely beat and walked most of the 7.5 miles at Buffalo Creek. Part of it was my legs, but I was probably also starting to get a cold at that point. My whole body was tired.
  • I was planning for a 50+ mile week, but the cold kept me from doing any long runs over the weekend. Aaaaaaaahhhhh! I went down to Buffalo Creek for a walk on Sunday and I thought my head was going to explode. I think it was the lower altitude + congestion. I couldn't handle the extra pressure. Ironic. Most people don't have LOW altitude problems. 
In terms of challenging runs, it was a really good week, but I'm still stewing over not getting that long run. This is the THIRD weekend in a row I haven't done a long run. Two due to my sickness and one due to my mom being sick. So I'm a little nervous going into Quad Rock 50 on May 12th. I'm considering doing a long run tomorrow - something in the low to mid 20 range - but many wise people have advised against it. I do have some good winter/spring training under my belt. I did 81 miles worth of racing in March and a marathon in April. What say the good people of the blogosphere? Long run (without a lot of climbing) to ease my mind or take it easy to make my legs happy?

When I haven't been running, which
has been every day for 5 days, I've
been experimenting with homemade chai.

Also, I've been tending to my very first plant
(that I've actually cared to keep alive).
Rhubarb. And there's some parsley on the side.
I love my Ruby. I water her and sit next
to her in the afternoons.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weekly Summaries: 4/9-4/22/12


Distance (mi)
Elevation Gain (ft)

So I crammed two training weeks together which should explain the funkiness of this table. Last week I did some hiking with my mom since she was in town for a visit. Here's a key of abbreviations! I know. This post just keeps getting more exciting.

R - running
W- walking
neg - negligible
FJ - Flying J Ranch
PVR - Pine Valley Ranch
MtF - Mount Falcon
RR- Red Rocks
RP - Reynold's Park

You can see that my training has been very light the last couple weeks. My first couple runs after Rockin K made me feel like I could take over the world! I had a post-race high, thinking about going back to race next year with a whole extra year of mountain training on my legs and lungs. That first Monday I ended up doing a tempo run. The next day I went up Mount Falcon, which I feel was the most difficult continuous climb I've completed. I've been up trails that are steeper but shorter and some that are longer but less steep, but I feel that the combination of grade and length made this single climb the most challenging so far. Notice I said single. I think going up Green Mountain 2 or 3 times is harder for sure. I've actually never been able to run all the way up Green Mountain more than once, and it might be a while before I try it again. The combination of warm weather with west facing trails and no trees makes the Green Mountain evening runs pretty unappealing for spring and summer.

Later that week I started to really feel the effects of my race and those first couple days of tough runs. I felt sluggish on Thursday and Saturday. I was also feeling sick on Saturday. As you can see my "long run" wasn't very long. A whopping 3.29 miles at Mount Falcon. Not only were my legs tired but I just generally felt crappy. Couldn't breathe, full of phlegm, sore throat, headache. So I didn't quite make it to 20 that day.

Well here I am a week and a half later and not at all regretting my two light weeks. My legs feel really good now and I'm totally pumped for a challenging week of running! It actually worked out perfectly so that I can have a higher mileage week now, then taper for Quad Rock 50 which is on May 12th. Yipee! So except for the few pounds I gained, the past couple weeks turned out just swell.
Took mom to Red Rocks for a walk.
Duckies at Pine Valley Ranch.

Pine Valley Ranch. Face rock. I think he looks kinda
like Abe Lincoln.
North Fork of South Platte River. Pine Valley Ranch.
Yes mom, it turns out this does feed into the Platte
River in Nebraska!

Dead snake. Pine Valley Ranch.

Flowers are in bloom at Reynold's Park!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rockin K Pics n More

 I was in full-on race mode and took ZERO pictures during the race, so I stole these from my good friend, Chris - a sports journalist for many years. So you know they're good! You will notice the landscape is quite varied and is not always what one would expect to see in Kansas. Rockin K boasts vistas from wide open prairie to sandy canyons. The only thing that you can consistently rely on is very little cover.
Early in the race. There I am in pink shorts.

One of many water crossings. Phil really only counts the ones
that are waist deep as crossings though.
Fun short climb. I think the guy on top in red is Dan from Juneau!

One of the rare, treed sections. I might
have been going faster than I thought.
That's a pretty intense stride.
What you expect to see in Kansas.

Now this is true Kansas style. A barbed wire crossing.
Thanks for the blanket Phil!

Somewhere in that sandy section. Obviously I've been
paying a lot of attention for  4 years.

View from atop a bluff on, you guessed it, Big Bluff Loop. 
And you didn't think there were any good climbs in KS.
Big Bluff Loop.

Co-RD Stacy Sheridan (aka ultra mom) and
picture taker extraordinaire, Chris.

What are the odds? You know you're best friends when
you all show up to the same race wearing the same shoes.
(We didn't race in these.) Oh and Debbie took this picture, not Chris.

And finally, you can check out some nice video that Chris shot during the race. He really does it all doesn't he?!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rockin K Race Report

I know. I know. I haven't blogged in a month. It all started with my failure to write "3 Days of Syllamo: Day 3". So the synopsis is, my feet were all hamburgery so I didn't run the 20k. Instead I ate a lot of food covered in gravy. Also, we stopped on the side of the road to help a woman who had just been in a car accident (lost control coming around a bend), and I called 911. I felt very proud of myself for calling 911 for some reason, as if there was some other option, like just running around screaming.

In terms of the training blogs I haven't posted, I didn't run much the week after the races. I ran much more the week after that. Then I tapered.

Race Background

I've run the Rockin K marathon twice. These have been my only marathons. The course consists mostly of horse trails in Kanopolis State Park in what I call "western Kansas" though it's truly in the middle of the state. The only part that isn't on horse trail is the part that isn't on any trail at all - Big Bluff Loop - just a path lopped through some brush, which sometimes follows deer trail.

In the mountains of Colorado, you can see horses on most trails, so you might wonder about the significance of horse trails in Kansas. It doesn't matter much in Colorado, as the ground is very dry and solid. In Kansas though, the ground holds more moisture and is softer. So horse trails in Kansas tend to have deep ruts and uneven footing, which is why horses aren't permitted on as many trails.

Back to the race. I signed up for the 50 miler last year but was injured by the time the race rolled around (thank you 3 Days of Syllamo, or should I say 2 Days of Syllamo, again). So co-RD Stacy Sheridan let me use the entry for this year's race instead. I've never really WANTED to do the 50 because I don't care for loops, but I was peer pressured. I should start hanging out more with slackers.

I've come a long way since my first running of Rockin' K. My first year I completed the marathon in a not-so-amazing time of 6:30-ish, while the second year I finished in 5:30-ish which earned me a 3rd place finish.

I had a great time catching up with all my Kansas friends at the pre race dinner. It was awesome to hang out with my some of best ultra girlfriends: Debbie, Deb and Coleen (too bad Sarah couldn't be there). Ironically all 4 of us were wearing the same shoes. I also got to meet Coleen's parents. I had never formally met them before but felt like I knew them anyway from being friends with Coleen so long. Coleen's dad ran Western States more than 30 years ago, before hardly anyone had even heard of ultrarunning. How cool is that?!

I felt surprisingly calm and collected going into this race. I'm usually a nervous wreck before every race. But this was my 4th year attending and 3rd year running the race, so that was probably a big factor. I was just excited to run and was not at all nervous.

As we gathered to the starting line, I decided to go ahead and position myself up front with Nick and Stu. I was sure they'd probably drop me at the beginning of the race but I just felt like starting there. Anyway, it's a small race so people could easily pass me if they wanted to. So when Phil Sheridan said "go" we set off down the hill, then up the hill and by the time we turned off the road to get onto the trail a half mile later I was surprised to still find myself hanging with Nick and Stu. I actually ended up in front of them both because I was on the inside of the turn onto the trail. There goes an extra foot or two I didn't have to run!

Theresa Wheeler was the only woman ahead of me. I knew she was a really strong runner (and she also has very long legs), so I wasn't about to make a move to pass her. I was running a comfortable pace. I didn't feel like I was exerting myself too much. I have no idea what that pace was because Nick was wearing the Garmin, but I would guess it was in the 9-10 min/mi range.

Miles passed and I couldn't believe that I was still running with Stu. Nick is always going on about how he wants to beat Stu at a race and Nick being the strong manly type, is faster than me. So I found it even more amazing that I was hanging with Stu. Three or four miles in, I was finally able to pass Theresa going up a hill. This course is nothing like the trails in CO. There are no extremely long climbs, but there are many short steep climbs, 20-45% grade for 50-100ft. I was having a BLAST running all the short climbs the first 13 miles. This really gave me an edge and the ability to keep up with Stu. Several guys passed me who I felt just wanted to pass me because they didn't want to be chicked. Seriously. If you're breathing so hard you sound like you just finished a 100 meter race maybe you shouldn't be passing me in a marathon (or 50). Nick passed me too but he was breathing normally, and anyway he needed to finish ahead of me so he could crew for my second loop.

At this point, I was really amazed that I was in front of all the other women, marathoners and 50 milers. I expected to do better this year than in others, but not THAT much better. I even took a bathroom break and still held the lead. I rushed on through the first manned aid station at about 13 miles to cheers of "first senorita" from Tony Clark. I guess I got ahead of Stu who had stopped a little longer, so the bathroom break didn't cost me too much. Stu and I hung together for the entire Big Bluff Loop, a 5 mile section that will sap the energy out of you before you know what's happening. Leaving the aid station you have a gradual climb for about a mile? It's probably only a 3-5% grade but it's somehow exhausting. Perhaps because it's not actually a trail, just mowed grass. The whole loop is not an actual trail.

Big Bluff loop is not named for that gradual climb though. It's named for the bluffs! There are 3 or 4 very steep climbs, of about 45% grade. Before race day I was trying to remember how steep they were, but since I wasn't in mountain shape the last time I ran the race, it was hard to judge what I "remembered". I was thinking they might actually be runnable, in my imagination. They were not. MAYBE on very fresh legs. But as I said, these aren't even true trails. Just a narrow strip of ground with a little less foliage than the surrounding area. Each climb, though they were no more than 100ft, sapped a little more energy.

I also noticed that my ankles were getting increasingly crankier on this loop of highly uneven terrain, but Stu and I hung together. I don't think I've ever talked to Stu that much in all of the years I've known him, so it was very fun. When we got back to the aid station, Nick was just leaving and Stu went on ahead and I opted to take a seat and change my socks. My feet felt happy with new socks. I grabbed my favorite ultra food, pringles, and headed on out.

I quickly noticed the sound of another runner behind me but didn't look back, assuming it was just another dude. About a mile out, however, a woman passed me. A marathoner. And she was running STRONG. Probably in the 8-9 min/mi range. I didn't give it a second thought. I needed to keep my pace under control, plus I wasn't running the marathon anyway. Plus my ankles hurt. I think she would have beat me fair and square even if I had wanted to race her.

At this point, I really could not complain about how I felt overall. I didn't have any stomach problems, my legs felt great despite being a little tired and the weather was great. Well the wind was out of the north, so running north kind of sucked but at least the wind was only blowing at 20 mph instead of 50 (which is pretty common for this race). Also, the temperature was perfect. I think everybody knows I hate running in the heat. In the morning, it was in the 50s and the temperature didn't get out of the 60s all day. Not too shabby. You couldn't ask for better really. In my previous experience, the race has started in the 30s-40s and gone up to 70s-80s in the afternoon.

Despite the favorable conditions, as I got closer and closer to the finish line, I kept thinking more and more about dropping at the marathon. My ankles hurt with every uneven step, which was all of them. With about 3 miles to go I caught up with Nick, who was having a rough time with his knees. We ran together for a mile or so, but eventually I went on ahead as he took his time soaking in the big water crossing.

This last section is highly annoying because it's covered in 4 inches of sand. So It was nearly impossible for me to run any incline with my tired legs and cranky ankles. It was probably faster to walk anyway. I just kept sliding back when I tried to run on it. But finally, finally I got out of the sand and onto the flat grassy area, the last section before the road!

When I got into the aid station/finish line I grudgingly had my pack refilled with water, grabbed more food and changed my socks and shoes as planned, but I was conflicted about whether I wanted to go back out. I really wanted Nick to be there, with his peppy positive attitude to help me work it out, but he was still on the course. People kept urging me to leave but I waited for Nick to get back. He wasn't his peppy self. He had a long, tough day on the trails. I was genuinely worried about the pain in my ankles. I would either be in increasing pain for 23 more miles or resort to loading up on ibuprofen, several times, which I really don't like to do. Honestly, my ankles weren't the only thing on my mind. I also thought it would be nice to get back home at a reasonable time.

So in the end, I caved. I wanted to spend time with Nick. I wanted to go home. I didn't want to mess up my ankles with another 50 mile race coming up in 4 weeks. Above all, I want to keep myself healthy to maintain and build my training for Leadville this August. Breaking 25 hours at Leadville is my BIG goal this year. Though I think it was a good decision, I can't sit here and tell you that I don't regret the decision at all. I had a 10-15 minute lead on the course record holder and would have LOVED to finally take home a win in a race that boasted more than 3 female competitors. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, I finished the marathon in 4:55, cutting another half hour off my previous PR. Yipeeee!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3 Days of Syllamo: Day 2

I got about half way through my race report before realizing it was way too long. I was boring MYSELF. so I decided to go with this bulleted list approach. Each section describes the race up to and including the specified aid station. If you are disgusted by poop talk, you probably shouldn't read the last couple sections.

Aid Station 1 (5mi)
  • First mile was peppy. Rest of miles, not peppy.
  • Hungry. Annoyed at being so hungry.
  • Chilly.
Aid Station 2 (9.5mi)
  • Tired.
  • Hungry.
  • Technical, slippery, rocky downhill sections.
Aid Station 3 (unmanned, 14.3mi)
  • Got passed a lot.
  • Tired.
  • Hungry.
  • Lots of little streams/waterfalls. Up. Down. Up. Down. Must have been 5 or 6.
Aid Station 4 (18.4mi)
  • Feeling peppy again!
  • Feet starting to hurt after water crossing. The friction begins.
  • Change socks at aid station.
  • Forget to apply sunblock.
  • Passed chick who previously passed me.
Aid Station 5 (22.6mi)
  • Feeling good.
  • Caught up to Larry and Brian.
  • Chafed due to overfilled/leaking pack.
  • Fun climbs. Did some fast hiking.
  • Dried out and stopped chafing.
  • Got to see crew. They found some sunblock for me.
  • Devoured oranges and guzzled coke.
  • Skedaddled to keep my lead on chick who passed me earlier.
Turnaround (Monkey Sam, 25mi)
  • Was hoping to catch up to Deb but found out she was about 1.5 miles ahead of me.
  • Found Monkey Sam, the sign to turn around. I'm not sure who Monkey Sam was but he said to turn around.
  • Very excited.
  • Determined to negative split.
Aid Station 6 (27.4)
  • Found out Sarah had gotten off course and was a couple miles behind me. Poor Sarah. :(
  • Gained a new competitor in red shirt guy.
  • Picked up socks at the aid station for later.
  • More oranges and coke!
  • Red shirt guy picks up a pacer.
Aid Station 7 (31.6mi)
  • Feeling good!
  • Can't find the trail for a minute. Red shirt catches up.
  • Lots of downhill helps with speed.
Aid Station 8 (unmanned, 35.7mi)
  • Red shirt guy closing in.
  • Slowing way down on technical sections. Waterfalls/big rocks.
  • Walking slower on uphills.
  • Lots of rocks.
  • Feet hurting.
  • Was going to change socks after bit water crossing but realize that was dumb with wet shoes.
Aid Station 9 (40.5mi)
  • Red shirt passes. 
  • I'm gassy.
  • I just want to be done.
  • Tired of super sweet Honey Stinger gels.
  • Section seems WAY longer than reported. 4.8mi takes 2 HOURS?! I WAS doing some running.
  • Great to see crew! 
  • Change socks.
  • Drink coke.
  • RD, Steve, says I'm looking great, but I'm SO tired!
Aid Station 10 (45mi)
  • Glad to be back down by the river. Cooler temps.
  • Get back ahead of red shirt.
  • Feeling better.
  • Not sure if I need to go to the bathroom.
  • 5 seconds later I definitely have to go to the bathroom. Luckily, I'm at the aid station!
  • Use the bathroom. Walk out of bathroom. Run back into bathroom. Finally done.
Finish (50mi)
  • Pumped to be on the home stretch. 
  • Determined to run the whole way.
  • Decide to walk part of the first hill.
  • Think: Only really fast marathoners poop their pants. Ultrarunners go too slow to have to poop their pants.
  • Happens: Uhhhh, I think I just pooped my pants.
  • Red shirt is getting closer.
  • Competitive spirit dictates that I not stop running.
  • Reach into pack, pull out tp and clean up without stopping.
  • Red shirt closes in as we go up a hill. Gives shouts of encouragement. He's running. I'm walking.
  • Oh damn. Red shirt doesn't know I only have 2 hill speeds at this point. Walking slow and running like a madwoman.
  • Drop red shirt.
  • Drop other guy who passed me earlier.
  • Determined to not put on headlamp.
  • Finish without headlamp in 12:24.
  • Do not negative split, but only 4 minutes slower than first half. 
  • Meh.
  • Feet hurt.
This was actually my Day 1, 50k finish. So much pep in my step! Photo by Travis Liles.
Right after 50mi turnaround. Lots of step pep! Photo by Susan Donnelly.
40 miles in. No pep. Photo by Nicole Green.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3 Days of Syllamo: Day 1

I was pretty nervous going into Friday's 50k. It would be my first ultra since Leadville. This would be the first real test of my 6 months of Colorado training. I knew that I was stronger than last year but I was still on edge. I was worried I would go out too fast. I was worried I had forgotten how to run an ultra. I'm just a nervous pre-racer.

Race day was gorgeous. The sun was out and it was in the 40s. A little chilly for standing still, but great for running with cheetah sleeves. My legs were really heavy for the first half mile or so. I got passed by everyone and their mom as I waited for the chill to leave my legs. Unfortunately by the time I loosened up we were on the wet, rocky single track. 

It was difficult to pass for the first couple miles but we eventually reached some wider sections and I got to open it up and just enjoy the run. The trail was initially very flat as it wound along Sylamore Creek but we started going uphill a few miles in, on the way to the first aid station. I was really excited to see what I could do on the climbs. The first climb was one of the biggest, though not as intense as running my Green Mountain repeats. It was mostly pretty tame climb-wise, the difficult part being that the trail was covered in 3-in diameter rocks covered in wet leaves. The unstable terrain slowed me down a bit and I turned my ankles a few times, but I was still having a blast. Closer to the aid station, there were some short stretches of > 20% incline but I powered on up those without trouble.

From http://www.syllamo.org/3days/CourseMap.aspx
I grabbed some pringles at the first aid station, gave the volunteers my number and ran on through there, eating pringles as I went. I caught up with a guy in a green shirt (Jason) who had eluded me all the way up the first climb. I was closing in on him because he was walking some of the hills and finally caught him in a clearing. I hopped off the trail to pass him but didn't realize the field was completely covered in rocks and leaves. This would become a common theme for the weekend. Rocks covered in leaves, rocks covered in wet leaves, rocks covered in water. So as I was passing Jason, I stepped on an unstable rock and lurched forward, catching myself with my hand. Jason kindly slowed down and told me to get back on the trail, letting me pass. My forefoot was smarting and so was my hand. I was pretty concerned about the pain in my foot this early in the race, but it went away after 10 or 15 minutes. Whew.

This middle part kind of blurs together. I had a conga line of dudes running behind me and remember being stressed out by it, though I enjoyed talking to everyone. I found out that Jason was training for Leadville. Cool, me too! And I also met Todd from Shreveport. I started to slow down a bit going into the halfway point. It was heating up and I had really pushed the first few climbs. Todd got ahead of me going into the next aid station since I was slow getting through the stream crossing. The water felt really good on my feet, though I would come to dread water crossings later in the weekend.

I took my time at the 15-mi station. I took a bathroom break, filled up my hydration pack with what I didn't realize was Heed and finally took off. I probably should have dumped the Heed out and refilled with water but I didn't want to be wasteful and it was only like 1/3 Heed so I just carried on. As I was leaving I noticed that a woman had passed me while I was lollygagging at the aid station. I was feeling competitive. She was walking parts of the rocky hill that took us past the halfway point, so I did my Colorado thing and just ran, slowly but surely. If I had been more focused on staying on course and less on kicking ass, I would have noticed that I was being lead off course. Fortunately, we didn't get too far off before someone yelled at us that we missed a turn. We headed back down the hill and corrected course. I think it was less than a 0.1 mile mistake so nothing to cry about.

The woman and I were really battling it out now. I would catch up to her going up because she would take short walk breaks but she made up the time on flatter sections. It was a full out competition. We weren't even talking. She finally broke me going up the final ascent. I was doing my slow, steady run. And she was doing a walk/medium-pace run alternating sequence. Damn! Eventually we crested the hill and were approaching the last manned aid station. Apparently we had missed a turn and were supposed to come in on a trail, not the road, but it didn't appear that we had cut off any significant distance so I didn't feel bad about it. Again, I needed to pay attention and stop following blindly.

I managed to get in and out of the aid station quickly. I drank a cup of coke and a cup of water (because drinking my strawberry Heed was making me super thirsty) and headed out before my running nemesis (the friendly kind of nemesis). The people at the aid station said it was 6 miles to the last (unmanned) aid station and the RD had said earlier that it was 7 miles from the unmanned station to the end. I was a little deflated at the proposition of 13 more miles. According to my Garmin, that would make the race 33 miles long. And Garmins are usually short on wooded trails so that would make the race even LONGER! Damn. I was getting tired and thirsty. Strawberry Heed is really good at giving you dry mouth, in case that's something you're interested in.

So, I did what any normal person would do when faced with that situation. I slowed down to conserve energy. A few minutes later, nemesis came running by saying that she wanted to get ahead because she had to pee. Go for it! That was the last I saw of her. *sigh* Eventually Todd and Jason caught up to me. I think Todd had gotten off course which would explain why I had no idea where he came from. I don't remember if Jason had been with him or if I was just ahead of him at that point, but it was good to have company. I got back into my kick ass on hills/let the guys catch up on the flat parts routine, but at this point I was hiking a little here and there.

I ran on past the unmanned aid station, because I didn't need water, not even looking at the sign that said "5 miles to the finish". Already the distance to the finish had gotten shorter (from 7 to 5 miles) yet I didn't notice so I just kept plodding along at my slowpoke pace. So I was a little confused when one of the guys just came flying by me a few miles past the aid station. I just kept plodding along UNTIL we got to this steep downhill section, which consisted of these very large stone "steps". I recognized this section from last year's 50-mile course and knew it was REALLY close to the finish. I was confused, wondering if we were going to be diverted onto some other trail to add more miles? Well then Todd and Jason started speeding up so I had no choice but to get my ass into gear too, right?

Once we got back onto the paved road I really started running. What can I say, I like to finish strong, even if I have another ultra the next day! So us three stooges raced on to the finish line. I think Todd and Jason just let me finish ahead of them. Such gentlemen. At the end of the day, my Garmin read 29.3mi. And with a little GPS inaccuracy, I'm confident that we still ran at least the standard 31 miles. I ended up finishing in 6:02 and if I had known how much closer I was to finishing than I thought, I definitely would have broken 6. Even the 5 miles from the unmanned aid station was probably an overstatement. Based on time, I'm guessing it was more like 4-4.5 miles. 

This turned out to be a 50k PR for me, which is pretty awesome considering my previous PR was on much flatter terrain. I MIGHT have run a little too much and a little too fast considering I had a 50 miler the next day, but I wouldn't have done it differently. I was just having so much fun after 6 months of no ultras. Plus, running at sea level was a real treat. After the race, I observed tradition and stood in the creek for 15 minutes. It was icy cold and felt glorious. My feet felt a little tender but I had no blisters so I wasn't too worried. Also, my legs felt amazing. No trouble spots anywhere. I was sitting at the cabin later that night, totally bummed that I had no reason to use my glorious, Leadville-made muscle balm.

Well anyway, I'm sorry I don't have any pictures. I was in full on race mode so I didn't think to take any. But I can assure you my cheetah sleeves were totally badass and gave me extra speed. The next day guys kept asking me if I was that cheetah girl. I guess I made an impression. Maybe if I wore them for Day 2 I would have been speedier, but I'll save that story for another day!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekly Summary: 2/27-3/4/11

Distance (mi)
snow weenie
party prep
party prep
solo time
Elevation Gain (ft)
Green Mountain
Green Mountain

Green Mountain. The trail goes up between the two big mounds.


  • I got up Green Mountain a couple times?
  • At least I didn't run too much during taper.

Looking west from the top of Green Mountain.

  • I meant to go up Green Mountain more than 2 times. And in one day.
  • I dropped out of hill repeats early on Tuesday due to intense, cold wind. I could hardly breathe.
  • I tried again for hills on Wednesday but forgot to bring water so I felt dehydrated and crappy. Fail.
  • I didn't mean to taper QUITE this much.

Looking north from the top of Green Mountain.


I was a little disappointed in the extreme taper that was this week. I was thinking I'd be running more like 20-30 miles. But things just didn't work out for me early in the week, then I was busy getting everything ready for Nick's 30th birthday party, which was great fun! But ah well, I don't think it'll affect my race much this coming weekend. I'll get in a few short runs this next week then rest for a couple days so my lungs and legs will be ready for a 93 mile weekend.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and I had plenty of time to go for a run after dropping the Nickster off at the airport, but I decided to stay home to enjoy the peace and quiet of the house. By the way, I LOVE spending time with my boyfriend, but I also enjoy some alone time for a day now and then. The dogs went with Nick's mom, so it was just me and the kitties. There was a lot of reading and snuggling with the little ones. It was definitely much quieter without the pups, but I'm sure I'll be missing them in no time. It is definitely weird to come home with no creatures running to the door to noisily greet me. No, the cats don't run to see me when I get home…unless it's dinner time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2008: Best Year Ever

Most people know that I'm a diehard Jayhawk fan. Well, I AM a Jayhawk. I received both of my degrees from the University of Kansas and spent a good portion of my adult life in Lawrence, KS. In my opinion, the only thing that could make Lawrence better is a mountain range. Oh, and more sunny (but not very hot) days. So here I am, living in Colorado.

Some might think I'm a fair-weather fan, because I watch KU basketball and not football. But I honestly do not like football. At all. The only thing I like about football is the tradition of eating a crap ton of junk food. I'm forced to watch it (or zone out) a lot because Nick loves the Broncos and apparently if you like even one football team you also LOVE to watch every single other football game too.

Photo by Mike Yoder. kusports.com

I know I was going somewhere with this but…oh yes, I was watching the KU/MU game this past Saturday. As you probably know, Kansas and Mizzou are bitter rivals. A rivalry that predates college sports. As MU is leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the sporting rivalry is essentially coming to an end. Coming off a close loss to Mizzou in Columbia, our last conference game against them in our house (Allen Fieldhouse) meant a lot to us Kansans. I thought for sure, we would just dominate Mizzou on our home court. You can't really appreciate Kansas basketball until you attend a game at Allen Fieldhouse. The two words that best describe it are "tradition" and "noise". Jayhawks are fiercely proud of their traditions and they'll let you know it, at 120dB.

Photo by Mike Yoder. kusports.com

So I found myself at a total loss when the Jayhawks were down by 19 in the 2nd half on their home court. But despite my strong desire to look away, to leave the room, my eyeballs remained glued to the tv. And somehow the Hawks clawed (taloned) their way back into the game and squeaked (squawked?) by with a victory in overtime. I had never been so overjoyed by a win since that most awesome day, when the Hawks came back from a 9 point deficit with 2 minutes left in the game, to beat the Memphis Tigers IN overtime to become 2008 NCAA National Champions. In both cases, there was a significant amount of jumping up and down and hugging people.

Photo by Nick Krug. kusports.com

And remembering that wonderful day made me think about other cool things that happened in 2008.
  1. Kansas Jayhawks are 2008 NCAA Basketball National Champions. (already mentioned)
  2. Ran my first ultra. (Finally something about running!)
  3. Met Nick. (Met Nick at a race so this is about running too!)
  4. Went to grad school? Not sure if this was a good thing or not but it lead to receiving a cool piece of paper in 2010!
  5. Met Nick.
  6. Oh yeah, I met Nick.
So in conclusion, 2008 was the best year ever. I'm sorry it took the KU/MU game, which reminded me of the championship game, to remind me of meeting my Nickster. My friend Marti will understand though. We watched the 2008 game together and have our priorities straight. #1 KU basketball, #2 boyfriend. Well, bacon is probably her #2, but #3 ain't bad, Marti's boyfriend.

Photo by Dick Ross. seekcrun.com
Ah the old days. 25-year-old me, with short hair, a cotton shirt and that water bottle I don't use anymore.
This was taken the day I met Nick.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekly Summary: 2/20-2/26/12

Distance (mi)
Elevation Gain (ft)
Green Mountain Hill Repeats
Flying J Speed Work
Buffalo Creek
Buffalo Creek

The Good
  • Largest weekly elevation gain!
  • All trails.
The Bad
  • ???
  • Was going to run again today but was feeling achey from back to back Buff Creek days.
It felt great to get back on the trails. It was a tough week but it was a lot of fun and I felt a sense of accomplishment at the end. 

This week I was thinking about my training in the past. I remember training for big races, doing my 20 and 30 miles runs, and on those days that I would run just 5 miles, I would think about how easy they were in comparison. Like they were so basic. But since I moved out here, I don't ever find myself in that situation. Every run feels like a significant effort. I never think, oh, just 5 miles. It keeps things interesting, but it also makes it tough to get out the door sometimes.

Also, in the past, I never would have thought I'd be running a 10-20% grade for a sustained distance. But here I am, doing these crazy ass hill repeats every Tuesday. It's amazing what can change in 6 months.

And finally, I'm getting really excited for 3 Days of Syllamo. Less than 2 weeks! I'm so psyched to spend a long weekend with my friends doing my favorite thing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Join Team Laurie

In case you aren't in the know, Nick and I are BOTH running Leadville Trail 100 this year. We have never before run the same 100 in the same year. Not because we were being polite and trading off, but because for one reason or another, we couldn't. Too busy with grad school (me) or one of us being injured, etc.

In 2009, Nick finished in 28:51:32. In 2010, Nick was registered again but had to back out, due to back surgery. Hahaha. Back out. Pun. But seriously, it wasn't funny at all. Then I ran Leadville for the first time in 2011, finishing in 28:44:58. Woot woot! I beat his tiiiiiime. I beat his tiiiiiime.

Honestly, I don't know what will happen this year. Nick is faster than me at every single training run distance. But nobody ever does a 100 mile training run, so we really won't know what could happen until race dayS.

And now that the background is out of the way, I can begin my marketing scheme. 

Do you like Colorado? 

Do you like mountains? 

Do you like running?
(I won't be going this fast)

Do you like me?

Do you like that my armpits smell way better than Nick's?
(That's right. They smell like finish line flowers.)

There might just be a spot on my pacing/crewing team for YOU!

Meet my team so far!

Courtney facts:
She will be running the Silver Rush 50 this summer.
She went to the same high school (in Houston) as I did, though she's not as ancient as me.
She crewed Leadville last year for her speedy fiancé, Luke.

Aaaaand, there will likely be appearances by many Langs! Including but not limited to, Chris, Bonnie, Roz and Jenna.

If this all appeals to you, join Team Laurie: We're going places! (like over Hope Pass)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekly Summary: 2/13-2/19/12

Day            Distance (mi)/Elevation Gain (ft)

Monday       meh
Tuesday       4.3/300
Wednesday  meh
Thursday     family
Friday          4.3/300
Saturday      29.3/500
Sunday        meh

Totals: 37.9/1100

Good Things
  • Got in a long run!
  • Skipped hills to have dinner with my sweetie.
Less Good Things (but not necessarily bad)
  • Was not particularly motivated to run most of the week, as is evident from my whopping 3 runs.
  • Negligible climbing.
  • Long run was slower/shorter than I wanted.
  • Skipped hills to eat buttery food with my sweetie??
Embarrassing Things
  • I got too hot on my long run so ended up shedding my tights and running down the road in my bun huggers.
I felt pretty indifferent toward running last week. Was initially shooting for a 50-mi week. I guess some people (including me sometimes) would be disappointed by being off by 12 miles, but I was pleased that I  still had the motivation to tackle the long run! I WAS ever so slightly disappointed in my long run, as I was hoping to complete 30 miles at a 10min/mi pace, but without my Garmin I just ran out 2.5 hours then turned around thinking this would work. But I ended up with only 29.3mi in 5 hours and 5 minutes. ALAS! A 10:24 pace! I'm not sure why it bothers me. Still faster than I've ever run almost 30 miles. But I kept thinking about how it was only a few miles longer than a marathon, and I was running on a flat road, so why am I not running faster?? Anyway, I've never even run a road marathon, nor do I intend to, so why the freak do I even care? 

Well, sneak peak for this week…I think I've sloughed off the indifference. I'm back to tackling the hills. 

The bun huggers are slightly less embarrassing 
when I'm standing still.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekly Summary: 2/6-2/12/12

Day            Distance (mi)/Elevation Gain (ft)

Monday      3.7/negligible
Tuesday      blah
Wedneday   AM 1.6/negligible
                    PM 9/450
Thursday     blah
Friday          20/400
Saturday      20/400
Sunday        7.6/1200

Totals: 61.9/2450

  • Back to back long runs! Woo!
  • Highest mileage week this year. Probably within a few miles of my highest mileage week ever.
  • Even with the high mileage my legs still felt pretty good. Sore muscles but no joint or ligament pain.
  • Saw wild turkeys, bald eagles and a fox.

  • The week started off slow.
  • Not much climbing this week.

Take Away
Sometimes the barriers to training are physical and sometimes they're mental. This week started off with a pretty big mental barrier. I was tired of snow and mountain trails. On Monday I drove down to Denver to attempt a snow-free 30 mile run but the trail I chose was far from snow-free. I only managed a few miles before I decided to call it a day. I could have tried to find another trail that was cleared of snow but it was just one of those days. I wanted to go home and pout. I kept the pouting up for several days in fact. After another failed attempt at a long run on Wednesday, due to the unexpected bitter temperature in the Platte Canyon, I gave up on the week being productive at all.

But Friday brought a renewed urge to visit that chilly canyon, so I donned many layers of clothing and emerged successful from a 20 mile road jaunt. Then I decided to try something crazy by doing it again Saturday. I recruited Nick and Ben to accompany me which made the run so much more pleasant. The views are truly beautiful so I wouldn't have been bored but the company kept me from focusing on my tired legs. And I was thrilled that even after 40 miles, I had no odd tweaks. Sore/tired muscles but no aching joints, IT band, achilles or anything. I guess this is what it feels like to be properly trained for something!

So despite the not-so-fun start to the week it turned out to be one of my best so far. I didn't focus on the big climbs or trudging through the snow. I managed to take a mental health break without compromising my training. But even if I had only run 20 miles this week, I would have stood by my decision. Sometimes when you've been training hard you just need a break. A few days to stop obsessing over mileage, pace, elevation gain, etc.

Lesson "learned". Sometimes you have enough knowledge to understand something but not the foresight to use it. I'm talking about weather! After experiencing the bitter cold mornings in Platte Canyon (10-15 degrees colder than home), I slapped myself on the forehead and said "Duh!" It's a narrow canyon and the road is right next to a river, of course it's going to be colder in the morning. So now I know to bring extra layers just in case when I run Platte River Rd. I haven't found any way to find weather information in this area because there is no town along the way. So I guess I'll just stick with the excessive amount of gear approach.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week Summary: 1/30-2/5/12

Day            Distance (mi)/Elevation Gain (ft)
Monday      slacked
Tuesday      AM 4.3/300
                    PM  7.7/2100
Wedneday   7.4/600
Thursday     13.1/1600
Friday          tired
Saturday      6.2/1000
Sunday        ate too much cheese

Totals: 38.7/5600

Did a little shoveling Friday.

  • Ran all the way up Green Mountain without stopping for the first time on Hill Tuesday (1.25mi/720ft).
  • Was able to run more (fewer walk breaks) at Buffalo Creek than I have before.
  • Got in a nice 13 miler before the snow blew in.
  • After the first hill at Green Mountain, I mostly walked the rest.
  • Didn't get my long run in this weekend because of the snowpocalypse.
Take Away

I've been pretty spoiled with the weather so far this winter, so this week's snow storm came as a big surprise to my training schedule. As a trail runner I have a hard time thinking of doing anything but trail running, but I've had to reevaluate my plans lately. I'll be augmenting my training with some city miles. I think it's pretty unlikely that I'll be able to pull off a 20-30 mile training run in the mountains within the next week or two. So that's that. We'll see what I can do with next week.

At the bottom of Buck Gulch Trail (Buffalo Creek) with the pups. Time to snowshoe.

Heading up Buck Gulch. Nice snowshoeing conditions. Not as much
snow as at the house but would still be a pain to run in.

P.S. Retrying this format with the weekly summaries. Will still write race reports and post on any special topics that come up, but I'm hoping this keeps me regular. Like metamucil for my blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sourdough Snowshoe 30k Race Report

I signed up for the Sourdough Snowshoe race a few months ago, as soon as Ryan Kircher posted the link and told all of his trail running friends in CO to do so. I follow orders well. Besides, it was FREE! Can't beat that.

I can't say a did a lot of training for this race. I did a snowshoeing hut trip back in November (about 3 miles) with a 20-lb pack strapped to my back. Then I did 2 or 3 "runs" with the running snowshoes I got for Christmas from the Nickster. The longest distance I traveled in my snowshoes was 9 miles and a good deal of that was walking. I came to realize that this 30k race was definitely going to be a challenge.

As the race date approached, I went back and forth as to what I wanted to do. On one hand, I thought this would be a great training race to get me ready for 3 Days of Syllamo. On the other hand I thought, I'm not ready for this. Maybe I should just drop down to the shorter distance (11.4 mi). Or not go at all. I would miss a KU basketball game after all. And that would be sad. I kept thinking that a bunch of my other friends would decide not to go too. But a few days out, everybody was in. So I decided I'd do it, but I wasn't excited about it.

In Nederland, race day brought high winds. Though the temperature wasn't very low, the wind made the start of the race a little uncomfortable. But once I got moving, the wind didn't play a very big role with most of the course being sheltered by trees.

Because I had never snowshoed this far, I don't think I dressed quite appropriately for the conditions. As a person who gets hot easily, I don't like to pile on too many layers. But snowshoeing is different than normal running. For one thing, snow builds up around your shoes. After a while, my shoes were completely covered in big clumps of snow. Several times, I started to worry that my feet were getting too cold. But eventually I'd get over some hill and be able to pick up the pace to warm up my feet. In the future, I might entertain the idea of carrying an extra pair of socks to change into, but once your shoes are packed with snow, it's a significant effort to get them off, especially with cold hands. So I'm not sure the 10 minutes or so it would take to change socks, all the while being cold from not moving, would be worth it.

Also, snowshoes, especially the running variety, kick a lot of snow back onto you. So you have a constant spray of snow hitting your legs, butt, back, hands, etc. I even had some going over my head! So even if you're generating a lot of heat, you're losing a lot with all the snow hitting and clinging to you. Luckily, I was smart enough to wear my rain jacket as an outer layer, which kept my core nice and warm. But my legs did get a little chilly with just my medium weight tights to cover them. In the future, I would probably either wear a heavier pair of tights or better yet, a pair of loose running pants, to keep the snow away from my legs. I definitely realized the importance of wardrobe in a long winter race. You never know what's going to happen. If you have to slow down, you're going to get cold. What happens if you get too cold and you're far away from an aid station?

I also had trouble keeping my hands warm from time to time. The gloves I wore would've been perfect in an ideal situation, in which I never fell into the snow. But several times I would unexpectedly sink into a deep section of snow, forcing me to catch myself with my hands. Then all of a sudden you have wet gloves! Several times I had to take my fingers out of the glove's fingers and just ball my hands up inside the palm of the glove to keep my hands from getting too cold. Anyway, I'm not positive about the solution to this problem. Perhaps bring an extra pair of gloves to switch out from time to time when they get wet? Be less clumsy?

I probably should have eaten much more during the race. I ate just 1.5 packs of Honey Stinger Chews during the 6 hour effort. But when you have cold, wet hands, fiddling around with zippers and opening tiny packages slides farther down on your list of things that you want to do. More than once, I removed my glove so that I could use my practically useless frozen hand to remove some food from a pocket, all the while trying not to drop bits of trash on the trail, only to look back and see that I've dropped my glove 20 ft back. Drats! So I probably have nobody to blame but myself for feeling nauseous and tired for the last 7 miles. Perhaps next time I do a winter race I'll rely on something like Honey Stinger Waffles. At least there is just one piece of food in a package, unlike the chews, and they're not gooey like gels. Who wants to have sticky, glove hands??

If I were running this course, without snow, I would say it's difficulty would be moderate. But when you add snow and strap a few extra pounds do your feet, the slightest incline feels like a mountain. The first couple miles are uphill. I spent the first half mile or so trying to keep up with Abby. She was running and setting a good pace, but I was already feeling really tired. My lungs weren't warmed up and my legs felt like lead. I imagine Abby felt similar because soon we were both walking. Early in the race I passed a couple people, which stole an incredible amount of energy from my legs. In order to pass someone you'd have to run past through unpacked snow. So eventually I started carefully weighing whether a pass was worth it. After a while I decided to pass Abby just because I was keeping a faster walking pace. I figured she'd catch up running. I wanted to reserve as much energy as possible so I didn't push myself to run sections that were difficult just for the sake of telling myself I ran them. I wanted to FINISH.

The next mile or two were flat and I got much more running done here, though there were some sections of deep, powdery snow which made it difficult. I remember being on a ridge, with the wind howling and the snow blowing, thinking I was very thankful that at least it was at my back. A woman named Vicki caught up to me after a bit and we ended up running/walking together for the rest of the race. I found out that she had lots of snowshoe experience and had been competing in this race since its inception. Vicki was like an energizer bunny. She ran and ran and ran, up and up. So I did my best to keep up with her by working on my speed hiking. It worked out pretty well! I was worried that I'd been working so much on hill running lately that I'd lose my walking edge. Not so. Though I can't really know for sure unless I test myself against my friend Coleen, the embodiment of the uphill speed walker. The last mile or two to the aid station consisted of some rolling hills and Vicki and I passed the time getting to know each other. Time seemed to fly.

When we reached the road and didn't see the aid station we spent a few minutes walking around aimlessly before we saw the volunteers waving at us from down the road. It seems we missed a turn. Well, when you're snowshoe racing I guess once the first person makes a wrong turn, everybody else is likely to make the same mistake too. You get into the mindset of just following the tracks. I felt good when we got to the aid station. Not super tired. Still cheery and optimistic. I knew I would finish the race unless I took a serious turn for the worse on the 7-mi lollipop we were about to embark on.

Vicki and I decided to stay together and soon we were running a nice downhill section. I didn't realize how long or steep this section was until we had to go back up into the aid station. This part wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. There were a few sections of deep loose powder on the loop but they weren't ver long. I think what really broke me was the last couple miles back to the aid station. It was pretty much a continuous climb. Vicki ran a lot of it and I just kept pushing my hiking pace. I was really starting to feel it in my glutes. And then came the nausea. I felt like barfing but I was convinced I'd feel great once we got back to the aid station. It would be a cake walk from there!

When we got back to the aid station, which I managed to reach without barfing, I had a bit of hot tea then we headed out. I know I SAID that these couple miles were rolling hills before, but it didn't register with me on the way out. But on the way back in, when I was expecting a mostly downhill trip all the way into the finish line, I realized I'd been wrong. My stomach didn't feel any better, though I managed to choke down a couple more Honey Stinger Chews. I walked more than I liked, considering this was the home stretch. The last 5.5-6mi. I even walked a lot of flat sections because I thought I would throw up. I managed to run downhill, just letting gravity carry me. The last couple miles were all downhill or flat so we made good time there. At one point we approached a clearing where I was convinced I saw the parking lot on the other side. Not so. It was just a bunch of trees. I kept looking through the gaps in the trees, thinking I was seeing cars, when it was really just more trees. That's when you know when it's time to be done with a race. When trees start looking like cars. Of course I had to trip and nearly face plant one more time for good measure. But I picked myself up and raced back to catch up to Vicki.

We decided to cross the finish line together. I don't know if I could have finished the race without Vicki's company. Not only did she set a good pace physically, but having never run a snowshoe race before, I think I would have gone off an emotional deep end, trudging along out there alone in the snow. I might have finished but it wouldn't have been nearly as pleasant!

Other snowshoe things
You know when you're running and you get tired and kick yourself? The same thing happens when you're snowshoeing. Except kicking yourself with hunks of metal is more painful. And if you do it, you always end up kicking yourself right in that knobby ankle bone protrusion thing. I'm sure my friends in the medical profession can fill in the technical term there. So at the end of the day, my ankles were purple.

Despite the race being free, it still has great support (hot tea, water, gels at aid station) and tons of raffle prizes. So when I reached the finish line I had a $25 gift certificate to Boulder Running company waiting for me! Yipee! Also, being one of the last individuals to finish (probably just because a bunch of people dropped to the shorter distance and having nothing to do with me being slow), the other folks in our group had prepared some post-race food. Ryan K. had brought a little propane grill and hot dogs. So I happily scarfed down a couple of his wieners. And that's the end! I'm happy to have found great people in CO to enjoy these weekend adventures with. But next up I'm getting pumped for a long weekend with my KS running friends in lovely Arkansas. 3 Days, here I come!