Monday, July 30, 2007

There's a Mouse In my House!

Well, in my apartment, but it's essential the same thing. The little guy has been a resident for a bit over a week (I first discovered 'evidence' of him when I arrived home from tahoe), though I had thought it had gone back home to the heater room a few days ago. However, last night it made a brief appearance by the cupboards, and today it made itself well known when my housemate (a new addition as of today) reached into the drawer with the oven mitts and accidently stumbled upon him. He climbed down the back of the drawer into the space below it under some bags. We decided to scare it out into a box, but he's quicker than we thought and shot out of that space into the kitchen, running around and finally went under the oven.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I screamed. Loudly. I felt very stereotypically feminine - in a very negative way- with that encounter. Those things just move so darn fast! So, we've blockaded the space under the oven with a towel and heavy books for the time being, even though that honestly probably won't hold him. As long as he stays in the kitchen, I'm okay, but I would just rather not have him curl up with me at some point during the night. He's bigger than I thought, and just isn't an appealing bed companion :)

I think I'll look into getting one of those humane traps so we can just catch the little guy and release him into the forest. I tried building one last night, but to no avail. Apparently they've been gorging themselves on oatmeal, and so were not tempted by my offers. Hopefully it's just him, and he hasn't brought over any friends.

Until then, I think I'll perpetually have the song stuck in my head that was one of my first performance pieces on the piano when I was 8 or so,

There's a mouse in my house
and it whispered to me
please, can I have some swiss cheese please?

There's a mouse in my house
and it shouted with glee
Swiss Cheese is the Cheese for me!

Any advice on the catching of a mouse (preferrably without hurting it) would be greatly appreciated :)

When this is the backup run... must be pretty good :)

After much procrastinating and almost giving up altogether, I finally got myself out the door for a 12 miler. It wasn't all that pretty, and my legs were much more tired than I would have liked, but I did it, and that was the most important thing. This will be a good solo route, as it's pretty safe (I hope!) and pretty as well. I'm glad I got myself to get out and run after this morning's let down. Time to get serious about training :D

And what a beautiful run. This was the run that made me want to live in Santa Cruz over a year ago, just because I'd have the ability to do this run all the time. I hadn't done it yet, and it was nice to remind myself of how taken I was when I first experienced this beautiful place :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

One is the lonliest number...

Well, I arrived at Nisene Parks only to find that I appeared to be the only runner looking for the Santa Cruz Track Club. After driving between the shop parking lot and the Nisene Marks parking lot looking for runners for about a half an hour, I gave up. I almost just ran by myself, but as I went to pay the parking fee, a big sign about mountain lions was glaring me in the face, warning me that, though rare, these cats were presents and known to attack, and to avoid hiking alone.

Now I know all these things, but unfortunately, I'm just not brave enough to run for extended periods through Lion country, especially on trails that I know nothing about. I'm also still living alone, so it's not as though someone would know if I suddenly vanished on the trails. I'm really missing Berkeley (and heck, even orange county) right now. I've really started taking for granted having a group to run with, and feeling quite dejected there there just doesn't appear to be the same kind of organization in the running group here. The woman who told me where to meet today was apparently on vacation, I think, so it's possible she got the times wrong, and neither the time nor the location match what's on the website. I long for group emails or a working group website.

I'm just really missing being connected to a local running community. I have heard nothing but good things from people I've talked to about the Santa Cruz Track Club, and hopefully someday I'll actually get to experience myself....

So, I'm currently charging my ipod and in a few hours I'm going to run the 1/2 marathon route that I've done twice before in races. There are a few miles of trails in the course, and it's overall a very scenic route. For now I'll stay in bed and do some homework....

On a lighter note, here's some pictures of campus from while I was driving back to my apartment

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Teaching, Less Running

Well, I returned home after TRT to a different ultra event of sorts. This one will last a year and have one of the best finisher's awards ever, a masters and a teaching credential :)

All corniness aside,my teaching program is going to be intense. We have a few hundred pages of reading a week, two papers a week, plus group projects and curriculum planning. And this is the easiest quarter, since we won't have student teaching until the end of August. Nothing seems that difficult in terms of content, but it will certainly be time intensive.

As a result of this, the stress of lots of changes, and well, exhaustion from the race, I didn't do much running at all this week. I did some cross training and weights monday and thursday, and ran thursday and today, for a paltry 9 mile total. I'll hopefully do a medium sized run tomorrow as I'm checking out the Santa Cruz Track Club for the first time for their weekend trail run at Nisene Marks. That's part of why I did such a short run today (just 3) since I want to be relatively fresh for tomorrow and not embarass myself in front of a whole group of new runners :P I am excited to meet the running group up here and hopefully will make some new friends.

However, what this past week has shown me is that I really need to be on top of everything in order to get in the kind of running I want to accomplish. I'm all signed up for the 50 miler in October, so there's no going back now :) But I do need to make sure I'm properly trained, and that means getting back to strong consistent running. The last time I took so much time off from running was after my January marathon, when I took almost a week off, so it has been a while, but I definitely was less happy and felt less productive with the off time. I'm going to do some research this weekend and try to find some training programs to loosely base my schedule on, to make sure I'm getting in the proper training for it. Any suggestions would be welcome :)

In other exciting news, my Dad is now open to the idea of doing a 50k!!!!! He did 10 miles today, which is super awesome and shows that he's getting back into longer distance running shape . I'm eyeing the Helen Klein 50k for him this November, as I think he'd have enough time to train for it, and it's flatness might make things a bit easier (as well as the fairly lax time requirement of 10 hours, just under a 20 minute mile pace). My master plan is working of introducing him and getting him running with people who do these things normally (I.e. OCTR peoples and people at TRT) so that ultras, especially to 50k distance, don't seem so crazy any more. It'd be so awesome if we could do a 50k together :D.
Photo courtesy of Scott Dunlap from last year's Helen Klein. Dad, if you're reading, proof that there is some trail to run on on the side!

If anyone else has any good recommendations for a first time 50ker sometime in late fall, let me know!

For now, time to be more student than runner and get some reading done :P

*edit* I'll admit I'm a bit nervous about the group run tomorrow. What if they're all super fast and leave me behind? What if no one likes me? (haha...I feel like a 3rd grader on her first day of school) I have found, without question, that most all trail runners are nice. However, they're often fast too. I just don't want to get left behind. Think if I'm super slow they'll buy my 50k excuse? It has been over a week, but legs could still be tired, right? I have looked at pictures of the park, though, and I think it'll be a gorgeous run regardless. Alarm is set for 6am so that I can go play with the other kids. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tahoe Rim Trail 50k (or how I finally became an ultrarunner)

(The picture links at the bottom have been fixed so that anyone should be able to access them now! Also, the 'man in blue' has been identified, so that's been fixed too :) Let me know if there's anything else that I should add to the report!)

Now, as most of you reading know, I've been gearing up for this race for a while. Talking (well, writing) about it since I signed up in March, and going a bit crazy hoping that I'd be ready to take on this challenge. Thankfully, I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and everything went as well, or better than I ever could have hoped! While I'm sure my training could have been better (it always seems in need of improvement), I think getting in the Altitude training (thanks OCTR!) and about 2 20+ milers a month since April really helped to get me through the race!

Another big benefit was arriving in Tahoe a full 6 days early to vacation with my family.

(my big sister Ashley, Mom, Dad, my younger sister Kortney, and my sister Ashley's Finace James)

Not only did the early arrival allow me some chance at acclimation, but it was really so wonderful and motivating to have my whole family waiting for me at the finish line. This is the first race that everyone has attended, and it was just so special. This added perk was one of the main reasons I picked the race in the first place. It quite conveniently fell at the end of our already planned trip to Tahoe, and so seemed like the perfect way to exerience my first 50k. I didn't run at all that week, but with kayaking, biking, swimming, rafting, and hiking, I figured I was getting more than enough activity in during the last week of tapering.

The only real issue that came up that week was that when I opened the box of new contacts that my parents had brought up for me (having run out before I came up) I discovered that the optomologist's office had accidently canceled the order for my left eye lenses, meaning that I only had contacts for my right eye! After immediately deciding this was a bad omen for the race, we contacted the eye doctor and were able to get them to overnight my new contacts. They arrived tuesday afternoon, and I was thankfully able to see for the rest of the trip (and the race!)

I was getting progressivly more nervous as the week went on, especially since the hike on tuesday seemed, well, challenging. The alitiude was affecting me, and my legs just felt tired. I was a little worried that the 25.5 mile run I had done two weeks before the 50k was too close to the race (usually I do my last long run 3 weeks before) but I just hoped for the best.

Friday my younger sister and dad drove me out to Carson City to pick up my bib. I bought a hat as well, hoping that it wasn't presumptuous to buy it when I hadn't yet completed the race. From there we went over to Scott Dunlap's, who had kindly invited us for some prerace fueling and socializing. Gretchen was already there, as well as Scott's dad, and Jessica showed up a little later.(Photo courtesy of Scott, as I was the only unprepared one without a camra!
the running bloggers-or is it blogging runners? Gretchen, Scott, and Jessica)

It was fun to finally meet Scott and Gretchen, and talking to both of them about their prospective races (100 miles and 50 miles) helped calm my nerves about my own. Us runners enjoyed some yummy vitamin waters as the non runners helped themselves to more exciting drinks :) Leaving Scotts I felt more relaxed than I had all day, that is until I discovered I had left my purse at his place! Apparently, I was too relaxed ;)

After a wonderful pasta bar prepared by my mom and sister, Ashley, I headed back to Scott's to get my purse, and then came back to prepare for the race. The rest of my family enjoyed a game of minature golf, but packing my hydration pack was more important! I laminated cards of the course elevation, a map, directions, and aid station mileage and elevation and made sure everything was set to go. At 11pm I got into bed (well onto the couch...we didn't have quite enough good beds at the condo, and since I wasn't going to sleep well anyways, I figured I might as well take the couch). At 11:45 I was nowhere near sleep so I broke out a 4 year old People magazine (figured if anything would put me to sleep...) and then read the Barkley article in the June Ultrarunner (which calmed my nerves a bit. My race seemed very sane now!) Turned back out lights around midnight and laid awake for probably another hour. 3:30 AM came far too soon, and it was time to be awake once again.

I got all ready, making sure I was slathered with sun screen, and that all my gear was in order. My dad offered to drive me, and we left just after 4:15 to get to the race start. I got there about 10 to 5, and it was a bit chilly! Okay, just about 46 which is nothing to you non-califonians, but I was glad to have on pajama pants and a sweatshirt over my race clothes. As I headed over to the check-in area, a warm yellowish-orange glow could be seen reflecting off the runners. A fire! I thought happy thoughts about how nice it will be to stand around a cackling flame while waiting for our event to start, and headed towards the area, only to realize it was no fire, just a light. In hindsight, I realized that, of course there wouldn't be a fire, not with the likelihood of a single spark sending the forest up in smoke.

I checked in and recieved my bib: number 5! Now, I've never had such a low bib in my life, and still am not sure how I got it. I signed up early, but not that early!! Anyways, I took it as a good sign (though it made me seem like I should have been faster than I was) . Another runner showed me a trick of folding the number to make it easier to pin to your shorts. At this point I was no longer nervous, just excited! My dad offered to hang out until the race start (he was going to volunteer later) which was nice. I enjoyed talking to the other runners. Many people could tell it was my first, because I was apparently looking far too happy for 5 am :).

Soon, familiar faces started arriving. Heather, a woman who I talked to after my first trail race ever, and who was incredibly encouraging of my eventual attempt at a 50k was there, which was really fun. I also saw Ann, who I had done a long training run with just a few weeks before. The OCTR crew soon arrived, and it was fun to see so many familiar faces once again. Most of that crew was doing the 50 miler (they're intense like that) . As the starting time got closer, I saw the Ziskos (Pete and his son Jon) who were also doing the 50 miler. It was Jon's first 50 and he was a bit nervous, but his Dad's a pro, so I knew they'd do great!

Before I knew it we were heading down to the starting line to get final instructions and be on our way. My dad was snapping lots of photos and before I knew it, we were off! It was a cool morning, which was great, though I was a bit chilly in just my tank top. I knew it would warm up though, and didn't want to have to carry it later, which proved to be a good decision. I was sort of bumbling around with different runners until I stumbled upon Karen, a woman who I ran my first 30k with, and have seen at a few races since. She's done loads of ultras and It was nice to be with a familiar face who knew what she was doing :) We started chatting and I shared amusing dating stories from some of my recent experiences. Apparently I had a bit more of an audience than I realized as, after one story, the men in front and behind us commented on the entertainment value of the story. Time flew by, and soon enough an hour had passed! I had decided earlier in the week to not wear my Garmin, as I didn't think I'd finish in under 10 hours, and knew it would probably die at some point, and thought it might be nice to run without worrying about pace or anything, so time was my only gauge of distance.

We soon reached Lake Marlette, which was really exciting, as it was the first big landmark of the race! It was beautiful in the early morning light, and I looked forward to the view down on it that I knew was coming later.

After the lake came the necessary uphill, which we hoped would bring us close to an aid station. Here, I got some good advice about Santa Cruz running, and more recommendations to join the Santa Cruz Track Club (I'm checking it out Wednesday!) It seemed further than I would have thought, but soon enough we coasted into the Hobart Creek Aid Station :)

This was the nicest Aid station I have ever been too! It was so beautifully decorated and well put together. They all were wearing aprons (and I love this sign!)

When else have you seen a white tableclother, candles, and flower on an aid station table? The oranges here were ice cold and delicious, and they also had the treat of chocolate covered ginger (note to self, get some of this!) I could have stayed for hours, but after just a few minutes we were off again. Since I had filled my hydration pack before starting with its 64 ounces, I had no need for water here, and headed off to Tunnel Creek aid station, 5 miles away.

In between these two stations is a climb to 8500 ft or so to Marlette peak, where we'd get some of the most spectacular views of the race.

Karen and I had fun on the way up snapping photos of one another, taking advantage of the deep blue sky and the beautiful surroundings.

At this point I was running predominantly with Karen and Debbie, and Molly joined up with us as well. These three women, all around the same age, had fun with me, calling me the baby and other such stuff :) Yes...I'm young!

(Karen posing with a picture perfect view)

At this point it was hard to put the camera down, as every new step seemed to offer another fabulous view. I'm fairly certain that I could have easily broken 9 hours if I had left the camera at home (heck, I might have even been able to break 8:45 or even 8:30! I did take almost 200 photos). But it definitely wouldn't have been worth it. What's a few extra minutes (or even hours) when it provides you with such wonderful visual keepsakes?

The running in this section was such fun, and I headed out in front of our group to enjoy a bit of the downhills that we got. Downhill running is my absolute favorite and I made sure to take advantage of it every chance I got!

This is one of my favorite shots, and to me just epitomizes the race. Where else could you experience such an amazingly gorgeous trail? Debbie is in front here, followed by Karen and then Molly. All such awesome women!

From there we headed down a serious of switchbacks, where were so much fun! (Little did we realize we'd have to come up these later. Going the opposite direction was, well, decidedly less fun). Still, Molly and I stayed pretty close, periodically commenting on how lucky we were to be here. Really, what on earth could be better than this? We were having a blast :) Before too long, a shocking thing started happening. Runners were passing us going the opposite way! The leaders were already on their way back to the start. Amazing!!!

After going down a bit, we suddenly were greated with a view of Tahoe once more. I climbed up over a few boulders on the side of the trail to get a better look. Yep, definitely not trying to break any speed records here :)

As we came into the Aid station, I saw Michelle Barton fly by and wished her luck. I met her a month or so prior at a fleet feet, and she was just about the nicest (and one of the most amazing runners) I've ever met. She wished me luck right back and I watched as she flew on. At the aid station I opened my water to notice somthing odd. Little white bubbles were in my water! Ah! Apparently I hadn't fully washed out the soap the night before. No wonder the water tasted a bit off. I dumped the rest of the water and got clean liquid. Much better :)

After snacking on m&ms and ruffles (my food of choice) and saying hi to Jessica, who was at this aid station, I moved onward, onto the dreaded red house loop (cue spooky halloween music here).

Now, having here the countless warnings about this section, I was understandably a bit worried. A fun part was that so many people were coming up as we headed down, and I got to see lots of familiar faces :) Molly and I were still together, and we were growing more and more concerned about how steep this downhill was.

Not that we don't love downhill, but this is, indeed a loop and what goes down must come back up again (law #42 of ultrarunning). Still, it was a beautiful area and we figured we'd deal with the hills when the time came. We enjoyed the lush greenery at the bottom of the hill and wondered how far away the red house really was.

Our question was eventually answered when it came into site finally, and we picked up the pace to this famous landmark. I asked an aid station worker to snap a photo (it was a pretty quiet spot) and he proceeded to tell me the history of the house. Unfortunately, at this point, I wasn't necessarily in a place to pick up new information, and was sort of eager to get on my way, so I didn't listen as well as I should have. I did however take pictures of the text so that I could figure out what he was so kindly trying to explain to me later! I was a little frustrated at the lost time, but reassured myself by saying "it's not like it's a race". Oh wait...I guess it is! Ha...again more proof of how not concerned I was about the race aspect of this event. It was much more a lovely adventure in nature than a competition.

The uphills were surprisingly short and not nearly as bad as I had feared. Granted they were still steep and the last 3/4 of a mile especially got a bit warm, but really it wasn't too bad at all. Compared to how horribly I did on the hills at the Sequoia trail race this past February, I was actually quite pleased with my hill climbing ability.

The last deep sand section was a bit more difficult, but was mercifully short, and with that we were back at Tunnel Creek, 17.2 miles into the race :)

Jessica took this great shot of me, being helped into my hydration pack. How many people does it take exactly to get one of these on? I definitely got some less than enthusiatic responses about this pack from aid station workers but always hurriedly explained that I'd be more than happy to get it all set to fill. It's not like I was in a rush :) After some more snacks (I did also have 2 gels so far, besides just the oranges, m&ms, and ruffles) I headed out back to Hobart Aid station, which meant back up those switchbacks I had had so much fun running down.

There were lots of pretty sights along the way, but I was getting increasingly frustrated with the never ending nature of this part of the course. It didn't help that I was now getting passed with what seemed like increasing numbers of ridiculously fast 50 milers and 100 milers. Still they were fun to see go by :)

As we finally cleared this section, I came upon the husband and wife team from A Race for the Soul! Now, I'm a bit of a running dork, and was excited to see them, but didn't want to expose my geekiness, so I didn't try to get their picture or anything ;) I ended up running with them off and on for the next 3 or 4 miles. Ended up they recognized me from the Diablo marathon in April, which was sort of fun. We talked about tahoe and their home in Reno. I was honestly really excited that I could keep up with them!

As we headed back to Marlette Peak, I was excited bccause it seemed like the end was getting a lot closer now. This part was probably one of my favorite sections on the course, and was just as much fun heading back as it was going out.

After returning to Hobart Creek Aid station, we headed for the 2.8 mile climb to snow peak at 9000 ft, our highest point of the race. In this section I experienced my only real low of the whole day. Around mile 23 or so, I just got tired. Tired of climbing. I didn't really want to go to the peak. Also my legs were sore, and I hadn't even done the marathon distance yet! I must have trained improperly. I shouldn't be hurting yet, with 9 miles left. Not sure if it was a good idea, I decided I had to try something, so I popped 2 pain pills and tried my first experience with the double shot espresso cliff shot.

Oh. My. God

Caffine is amazing!!!! As I learned later running with Scott, caffine has the wonderful ability to shoot pain relief directly into your blood stream. The better feeling legs and the energy boost, combined with arrival into what seemed to be an unbelievable alpine meadow left me feeling amazing and almost giddy (okay, very giddy).
As the views of lake Marlette and lake Tahoe came into my horizion, I couldn't stop smiling, and would find myself periodically letting out a small laugh. Suddenly I couldn't have been happier. I was now so glad we had to do this climb and come up here. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Amazingly, I somehow had cell phone coverage up here, so I called my dad to let him know I appeared to be ahead of schedule and somehow might be coming in around 9 hours instead of 10! I let him know I was about 8 miles from the finish and then got back to the task at hand. Because of my stop to make the call (didn't want to lose reception) I had now fallen completely behind the others.

You can barely make out the runners (the tiny dark specks) on the trail above and soon they were out of view entirely. With no runners behind me either, I was suddenly all alone up here and just absolutely amazed by the sensation. Were this not a race (well a sort of race for me anyways) I could have stayed up there all day. Definitely the most beautiful part of the course for me. Now maybe it was the caffine and pain pills talking, but felt on top of the world here.

Coming upon this sign made me even more happy (didn't think that was possible), since I knew now I was much closer to the eventual downhill section after the aid station. As I approached, super cute signed dotted the side of the trail (such as "don't lose your head/to gain a minute/you need your head/your brains are in it") which made me laugh and smile even more. As I arrived, I heard my name being called by multiple people. Who could I know up here?!?! Ends up the boy scout troop manning the station just looked up my name to cheer me in. It was wonderful. I had more of my typical salty sweet combo, as well as some chicken broth and, since the double espresso shot had been so successful, some mountain dew (explained to me by Mike Palmer as amazing stuff).

I had one of the girls at the aid station snap my picture at this high point, and then was off down the downhill, enjoying running once more :) I passed a few people here, and was passed by lots more as more fast 50 milers and 100 milers were catching up (amazing people they are!)

You can barely make out the trail in the picture above. It was amazing, just cut into the side of the hill!
This picture just epitomizes this section. Thin singletrack with awe inspiring views the whole way down. I was having so much fun here, but trying to be cautious as, obviously, this wasn't a good place to lose one's footing :) In not too long, I heard some more people coming from behind, and heard a somewhat familiar voice. Soon enough, I was passed by Scott and his friend! Scott was way ahead of pace and doing great. I stayed with them for a bit, enjoying the challenge and push of running a bit faster. Scott told his friend that this was my first 50k, to which he replied, "You know, there are easier races for your first". Yeah...I apparently don't like taking the easy way out, whenever I can help it :) After 5 or 10 minutes with them, I fell back, content to return to my more comfortable pace.

Scott zoomed off with his friend (gotta get his name...) and I was back to normal. Now as I got passed each time (and it happened plenty) I always tried to say something positive to the runner, as they were all so amazing to be running that fast (I didn't really get passed by 50kers at this point, so all the runners passing me had also done 18 more miles than me at this point). As another runner came from behind, I pulled off to the side and issued yet another "you're doing great!" as I turned back to see the runner. He replied with a "you too" and left me with my mouth slightly agape. I had just given an encouraging remark to Tim Tweitmeyer!!!!! I was sort of in shock, feeling a little silly to have told him he was doing great, when, well, of course he was doing great. It was really exciting to have spoken to him though, and see him in person :)

I continued on, glowing a bit from my brush with fame ;), and making sure I wasn't spacing out here to the point of falling over a rock. I popped another espresso jel (or jet fuel, as I like to call it) to give me a little more boost coming in. I eventually caught up to Pauline from Minnesota and we ran together until we finally reached the final aid station 1.7 miles from the end. I took a picture of the clock there (which apparently didn't come out) and one of the guys working there said, "you know, this isn't the finish" Really?!?! Oh well, apparently not everyone understands my pechant for photo taking. I gulped down a cup of water (it was feeling pretty hot and humid at this point) and hurried on. By my calculations, I had to do 1.7 miles in 20 minutes to break 9:10, my time at The Diablo Marathon, and my new goal. I wasn't sure that I could do it, but I had to try.

Pauline yelled to me "Go get your parents!" and I set out to do just that, running as hard as I could when I could, but forced to take a few walking breaks when the short hills just got to be too much. I could see the white finishing tent, but it still seemed so far away. I kept pushing and soon I saw some people sitting at the side of the trail. They started cheering and before I knew it I could see the finishing line. I crossed underneath at 9:04:50, breaking even 9:05!!! Apparently I just killed that last section :) My entire family was waiting under the tent, taking pictures and cheering. I'm sure I was grinning like crazy as I pushed my way across the finish line. With a bit of difficulty I unpinned my number to detach the slip, and the medal/bottle opener was placed around my neck. I was given hugs by all and handed my celebratory beer, which was huge!!! It's funny, my sister recounted to me that they were chatting with the finish line beer guy and said something about my being 21. The guy then said, "but....she is 21, right?!?!?!?" I am indeed, and even carried my ID in case I got carded ;) (funnily enough, I was indeed the youngest in the 50k. So I totally won the 21 and under category :D)First, I decided water would be good, and then went for the beer, which was also quite lovely (and added to my already deliriously happy state).
(Jessica Deline took this great photo of me heading out of the finisher's tent :) It was so great to see you this weekend Jessica!)

I headed out to the other side and saw Jessica and Pam (who had already finished. Awesome job!) Scott was getting all set in the aid station tent for the 100 milers feeling great. I wished him luck and then headed back to my family. In route I ran into Sarah (from PCTR) who congratulated me. I excitedly told her that I beat my time from the Diablo marathon by 5 minutes, a feat that I thought was impossible! After returning to my family, my friend Terry showed up, who had run the Diablo marathon with me. It was great seeing him, as it had been a while, and it was fun introducing him to my family. Sarah, my berkeley friend, also showed up miraculously (it was awesome) and I also got to introduce her to my family. It was so nice having so many wonderful people there that I cared about. We all hung out while I waited for other people to finish. Molly came in a bit later, as well as Karen, and Greg did just unbelievable, finishing in something like 9:45 for the 50 miler!!! Though I didn't see him finish, I'd also just like to note here how amazing Jasper did, breaking the old course record (his from last year) and finishing the course in a mind blowing 18:16!!!!! It's just unfathomable, except for the fact that it's Jasper and he is, well unbelievable. Congrats on the championship!!!!!!!!

After I had seen many of the people I had wanted to see finish (and I was feeling a bit drained) I decided to head up the hill (yes, up!) to the burrito bar and the bathrooms. I'll admit the beer was affecting me just a bit, but it just made me all the more happy and excited to be finished. I got some food and sat down with Ann, Heather, the man in blue (who Heather has informed me is Phil Wright, an amazing man and athlete who as finished the 4th most 100 mile races of anyone! (50). How amazing is that?!?!? Gotta love all the amazing people that you get to interact with at these races). Greg and sarah joined us as well and we all hung out, enjoying the good. Both Greg and I were amazed by out good times and were a aglow about it. I had another ultra celebrity sighting, seeing Eric Clifton walking around. Gosh, so cool!!

After some wonderful socializing, the tiredness of the day finally hit me and it was time to go home.

All in all, I was amazed by everything. For as nervous as I was, once the race started, everything felt at peace. It all just felt right (well, maybe not mile 23, but everything else ;) ). It really surprised me at how the extra distance didn't really seem to exist of there (possibly in part because I didn't have a gps reminding me of exactly how far I had gone). It was almost like I was just floating out there. The race was just so well done, from the great course markings to the fabulous aid stations, to the saintly volunteers (you guys are amazing!!!!) I just couldn't have asked for a nicer race. Added to that, The other runners were all just so fabulous. I got so many congratulations and encouraging remarks from others when they found out this was my first. One remarked, "how wonderful for you! You'll never forget your first ultra" with this air of some priveledged memory; perhaps he was recalling his own first experience. Quite a true comment but really, I dont' think I'd ever be able to forget this race, even if it wasn't my first. It was just the perfect day.

Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and advice (both on here, coolrunning and the ultralist!) This community is one of the main reasons that this sport is so enjoyable and I'm so thankful for all of your kindness.

Now...about training for a 50 miler.....


(for more photos (because I took a million) go here)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I did it!

After 9 hours and 5 minutes (and some seconds) I finished my first ultra, all 32 some miles of it :) It was fabulous, faster than my trail marathon time by 5 minutes, and the most amazingly beautiful run I have ever done! I had hoped to finish in 10 hours (between 10 and 14) so the 9:05 was just fabulous. I'm so incredibly thrilled. I had such a blast! I also took about 200 photos, so there will be lots to share. It was really just breathtaking (and not just because we went up to 9000 ft ;) )

I got to meet Scott Dunlap and Gretchen finally, and last I heard, both were doing amazingly. Scott was an hour ahead of schedule after the first 50 miles and we saw him head out going strong. Gretchen was apparently also doing awesome! I Can't wait to see how they do :)

So, a real report will arrive sometime this week, but suffice to say I'm thrilled beyond words and so glad to finally be a bonified member of the ultra community :)

Thanks everyone for all the support. You guys are awesome!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Last Minute Details

Well, the race is now in 21 hours. This time tomorrow I'll be well into the race, and hopefully having a great time :D

Last night I had the traditional pre-race nightmare, because really, what race experience would be complete without that ;)? This one had me signed up for the 50 miler, and doing it as a sort of relay so that I could just run the 32 miles. The woman helping me out by running the first half (also 32 miles, because in dreams 64 apparently equals 50) was sending reports via email (and was running a day before me, on saturday). I was really enjoying the reports and was writing back thanks when I suddenly realized it was 12:04pm. On Sunday. I had missed the race! I just became overwhelmingly depressed that after all my prepping and planning there was nothing I could do. I immediately decided that I would do the Headlands 50, but it was small consolation.

So, I think this dream has two meanings. One, apparently I'm going on my computer too much ;). The last few days I've been spending increasingly more time on here, looking at directions, making lists of things to bring, reading race reports, looking at photos, anything to help me feel more prepared. While I like feeling like this will all help me have a better race, at some point I guess you just have to let go. Two, I'm afraid of missing the start of the race. Now, my family has promised that they won't let that happen (and I don't think I'll let that happen either) so I don't think that's something I have to worry about.

The only pressing thing I need to fix before the race are my gaiters. Apparently the last time I used them left them worse for wear, as the hook on one came off completely and the velcro on the back of both my shoes also came off. I bought more velco, and am buying some superglue to get it to stick. I'd buy a hook, but I'm not sure where to get them, so I'm thinking a safety pin will keep it on.

I do have the option of a drop bag, but I think I'm going to pass on it, as I can't really think of anything that I'll want in it, and it's just something extra to deal with. Also, My only access would be miles 11 and 17.2, which are still firmly in the middle of the race, rather than towards the end when I feel like I might be more in need of something special. With my hydration pack and the storage it affords me, I can't really see why I'd want to worry about stuff in a bag. When I did a drop bag at the Diablo Marathon, I never used it, except to unload my pack of things that I actually ended up needing, so I think I'll let it be. That said, I guess just having a bottle of sunscreen and perhaps some pita chips (if my stomach starts bothering me) might be a good thing to have. I don't necessarily have to have much in the drop bag. Any recommendations for this would be great!

I'm off to the store now to get a few things and then its to the packet pickup around 2, a stop by fleet feet in carson city where I might get a new shirt (well, a new version of the shirt I like wearing. Mine is looking pretty grungy), and then to Scott's for a get together :) It'll be fun to meet a bunch of the bloggers that I've gotten to know online, and to meet some other amazing athletes that I'm sure will be there. We're doing our own pasta bar here for dinner tonight, with multiple sauces and pasta types so everyone in my family can have something they enjoy! Then it's off to bed, hopefully not too late, and up by 3 or so to get ready to go :) Ack! My stomach already has butterflies and I still have almost a full day to wait. Feels like how I used to get on Christmas Eve, excited for the special morning.

Thanks everyone for all the encouragement over the last few weeks. I feel like I've been drawing this out, posting about it so much, but happily, it's almost here. One of the things I'm looking forward to is just being in a race that has so many amazing athletes. I've never even been to a 100 mile event, and though they'll be starting an hour earlier than me, it's quite possible (or even likely) that I'll be passed at some point by the faster peoples. I still think of people who do hundreds as semi-celebrities. All you accomplished 100 milers are all so awesome :)

So as my last post before the race (unless I start going crazy during the night and decide to post when I can't sleep) so I guess the next time I post, for better or worse, I'll have had my first 50k experience :)

Thanks again everyone!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Enjoying the Beauty of Tahoe

Well, I'm officially in one of the most beautiful places ever, about a 45 minute drive from my 50k this weekend :) My family and I are all settled into the condo that we'll be staying in this week and are enjoying ourselves, planning lots of fun activities that hopefully won't get in the way of my taper too much!

Today we went kayaking for an hour and a half or so from California to Nevada and back! Sounds sort of's always fun to go across that state line :D. I've already finished one book (Resurrection by Tucker Malarkey- a book about the discovery of the gnostic gospels. Pretty good, but a little slow!) Now I'm reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which I'm liking so far. I'm envisioning lots of reading this week!

We have hikes planned and potentially some running as well, though with all the other activity we usually do up here, I'm thinking that perhaps running might be a bit too much. I'll probably do a few miles wednesday maybe but we'll see. At this point it's all about preserving my fitness, right?

I can't believe after everything, the race is almost here, in less than 5 days. It seems unbelievable! I'll probably be freaking out a bit more later this week, but for now there's just and underlying hum of nervousness around me. The first hurdle I've faced is that my optomologist accidently canceled the order for my left contacts, meaning that I recieved a box for just my right eye! They've promised to overnight the other pairs, and hopefully I'll recieve them soon, but I couldn't help but think it was a bad omen. I don't believe in that stuff though, right? Anyways, it sounds like I will be able to see for the race after all, pending on the success of the mail delivery system up here in Tahoe. Ironic that of all the places to have blurry eyesight, it has to be in a place that we're visiting in a large part just to eye it's beautiful vistas.

I'll be going back and rereading all my research and the race reports I saved when I first signed up for the race, gearing up for it. It's just going to be amazing (I hope!)

Any last minute tips, or things for me to remember from you seasoned vets would be greatly appreciated, as I'm definitely the kind of person to end up out there without some basic necessity :)

For now, I'm off to read some more, and enjoy an amazing dinner of my mom's unbeatable baby back ribs, corn on the cob, and homemade ice cream for dessert. Being on vacation is wonderful!