Sunday, September 30, 2007

Running with the Devil

Last Sunday, I decided that for my last long run before Dick Collins I would tackle an old friend and adversary, Mt. Diablo. Ernesto had sent out an email inviting others along for this dick collins training run and, despite the 50k the prior week and my cold, I thought it would be a good idea. Certainly more appealing than a long run solo, and really, I'm in much better shape now than I was in April when I tackled this baby the first time. Surely it would be easier this time around!

The day started with a 4:30 am wakeup call, made all the more difficult by somewhat boisterous roommates arriving home a 2 in the morning (it was a friday night after all). All told, I got about 3 hours of sleep, and woke up feeling a bit sick and a lot tired. I left the house by 6am, to allow myself adequate time for the drive up, but ended up early! I pulled into the lots about 7:40, wondering what on earth I was trying to do. Ernesto and Laura showed up about 10 minutes late, which had me worrying about whether or not I had gotten the day wrong! Should I try to do this by myself? I had printed directions just in case, but really, didn't want to tackle this alone. Luckily just as I was starting to get truly worried, they pulled into the lot and all was well :)

Fall was definitely all around, and the mountain looked entirely different from how it had been back in April. The cool temperature added to the feeling of fall, though a high of 76 was promised for later in the day.

Ernesto and Laura stopped for a quick photo before we began the steady upward climb towards twin peaks, our first 'summit'. Immediately, Ernesto took off running, like usuall, and I trudged ahead with Laura for a bit, until she pulled away as well. They're both much stronger runners than me, which also had me worried.

Wow, what a change from April! Everything is a whole new color now, and a whole different kind of beautiful :)

Ernesto is the blackish dot on the left side, waiting for me. I try to tell him when I finally get to him that I miscalculated the effects of Big Basin and being sick and that I'm not sure this is a good idea. He brushes it off and starts telling me about the technique he uses to run up hills and that I should try it. Walking up hills is near impossible so this seems ridiculous, but at the same time really sweet :)

As we headed towards the steeper switchbacks, I came to the realization that my legs were dead. Not like the first time I did this when they just needed to adjust, but really truly exhausted. They hadn't recovered from Big Basin, and they were hating the climbs. By now Ernesto and Laura were well ahead and I was essentially alone. I was switching off between cursing myself for agreeing to do this, Ernesto for planning it (or at least thinking I could do it) and even Sarah and Wendell a bit, for planning such a hard marathon course ;). I really really don't think this is going to happen for me today. 2 miles in and I'm dying.

We finally reach Eagle Peak, and I'm thrilled but concerned. Only 3 miles in an I'm exhausted. I tell them that I'm just really not feeling it today and apologize for slowing them down, but they brush it off.
Now, coming off Eagle Peak is the first real technical section I ever ran. I remember being petrified of this during the race and it honestly wasn't a ton better this time. I still ended up on my hands during the same section, as there's one part that I just don't see how you can do upright. Oh well, eventually I"ll get it. You can faintly see Laura speeding away on the trail in the picture above. Not only are they better at uphills, but at downhills too. I just don't see how I'll ever keep up!

I think this is entering the trail to the summit, though I'm not sure. It just plainly shows how present fall was up there, and how beautiful Diablo is in this season. As we were heading towards this trail, Laura and Ernesto start telling me about the bands of tarantulas that inhabit this mountain in October, 100s of them running around in packs. Part of me thinks that that would be an amazing sight to see, and the other part hopes not to see it, as that is a lot of huge spiders! No tarantualas so far though :)

The trip to the summit is easy, compared to the beginning climbs, but it's still tiring. I decide that I'll just turn around at the summit for a good 16, as I don't need much more than that anyways, and can't really imagine summiting twice.

We thankfully arrive at the summit to cold and fog. Our high 70s day is definitely not materializing and we're cold up at the top. I tell Ernesto and Laura that I'm out, but they convince me otherwise. Ernesto explains to me "its all downhill for the next 4 miles, You can do that!" I explain back that it's not the getting down to Rock City I'm worried about, its the getting back up again. Laura says I don't have to resummit, I can always stop at Juniper and take the fireroad down. Okay, out of excuses, I'll keep going!

The downhill was fun, though my calf was bugging me a little. I enjoyed feeling like I was moving again though. Plus, on the way down, we ran into a gentleman who was out doing a long run of his own, training for a 100 in a few weeks. He looked at me and said "You look familiar. We met at Tahoe!" Its sort of silly, but I thought it was so cool to be recognized by someone. It really made me feel like I was part of this ultra community. Plus, he called me fast (well faster than him) which made me feel more motivated to run :) Definitely a needed boost!

Heading into Rock City was fun, and nice to do in in the cool air, compared to how warm it got in the race.

The trail through time was fun, and definitely the flattest section of the whole course. It also marked the halfway point, which meant just one more summit and we were more or less done :D.
Looking up at the summit, and all the hills between us and it, I felt intimidated. The legs were feeling a bit better, but there was still lots of climbing ahead. I did something new here. As I was not staying with the other two during uphills anyways, I decided to break out the Ipod I had brought along. I just had one earphone in so that I could still hear some, but boy did those tunes help! It was amazing! The hill was challenging, but went by relatively quickly, and then we got to my favorite part of the course. The trail that connects the fireroad to juniper creek. The field of gold were just spectacular (the picture really doesn't do it justice) and I had the hugest smile on my face. I was so glad I had done this part of the course. It just made me so thankful to be out there.

When we reached Juniper Creek again, there were just 9.4 miles to go, and I realized that I could finish. However, now we were facing a bit of a time crunch, as Laura did need to get back. I was determined to try to stick with them, and so pushed it up to the summit. It was much harder than the 2nd summiting in the race, but I was glad this was the last time I'd have to do it. I was able to stay close to them, and we reached the summit together.

At the top I told them that I didn't think I could stay with them going down, as I'm not that great at technical, and if they thought I'd be okay on my own. They quickly squashed those thoughts and promised that they'd make sure I was with them. They are really such amazing people and I'm so lucky that I was on a run with them.

We headed down together, with Laura taking the lead now, with Ernesto in the back. It was really nice to be sandwhiched between the two as it kept pushing me, and also made me feel safer being out there :) The downhill was going great when suddenly I saw something!

Wohoo, wildlife sighting! I was secretly glad there was only one, and stopped quickly to snap a photo before moving on. The downhill was lots of fun, and somehow I was able to keep up! The technical sections in this first part seemed much easier. When we hit the last major dread uphill, I fell behind a little, but got back to our ealier positions when we started heading down again.
The quarry here is still pretty far away, and far down!

Because of the rain the night before, the dirt was matted down a bit, meaning that it was less slippery. It was wonderful, so much easier than before, and lots of fun. I slipped twice (you could maybe call it falling, except that it was a very gentle slide to the side both times where I didn't even get hurt). I felt so much more confident, and okay with falling, so long as it wasn't a bad fall.

It was so much fun zipping down this section, especially because I kept having flashbacks to the last time I did this, when I had unthinkingly put all my gus in a dropbag, so I had no food, ran out of water, and it was incredibly hot. Plus, we moved amazingly slow, so it took forever. Actually running down this hydrated, fed, and happy was an amazing thing.

The sun did start to finally come out, but it never got too hot, and just allowed for some spectacular vistas. It really was just so beautiful out there.

Finally we entered into the canyons, and I knew it was only a few miles. I remember how hard this section was, and it was nice to be running a lot more. We were all sticking pretty close to each other here, which was nice. I started taking some gus with caffine to give me that last boost to the end. I was getting hungry and tired, and was ready to be done, but I could still make myself run, which was amazing.
The canyon was beautiful and soon it started looking familiar and I knew we were almost back. Finally we saw the gate and the parking lot. As I always like to do, I took off in a near sprint, pushing as hard as I could. I ran all the way to an imaginary finishing banner, where the PCTR one is, to make sure I did the full thing. Finishing time 8:01. A good hour and nine minutes off my April time, which is amazing. We probably could have broken 8 hours if we hadn't taken a wrong trail down in Rock city briefly, but the time really isn't important. The great time we had certainly was.

Ernesto had fabulous sandwhiches for us, and we all sat down in the gravel lot to enjoy them. A woman walked back informing us "there are picnic benches right over there!" We told her it was too far :) Then we explained how far we had run, and she understood.

Overall, this was fabulous mental as well as physical training for Dick Collins. There's more elevation in this than DC, for almost half the distance so that's great. Also, continuing on when I felt pretty badly for a lot of it was good practice. I finished saying, "That was so much fun!" but then thought back and realized that for a lot of it, I wasn't feeling that. Just goes to show that it gets better in the end and is worth it :)

Only downside, my left calf, which had been giving me issues the past month or so, really started bugging me this week. I tried to run wednesday and felt like my leg was going to collapse, so I haven't run this week. I've been icing and bought 'the stick' and did 3 hours of cross training and weights yesterday. It is mostly better I think, but I just want to be careful. I figure taking time off is better at this point than trying to get in some more miles, so I'm going with it. Last thing I want is to be injured for Dick Collins. I might try running today, or I might just do more crosstraining. We'll see.

Overall though, glad I finally faced the Devil again, and I didn't let it beat me :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Big Basin 50k Report

Link to photo album from the race here

I'm going to try to make this short(ish) since I do have 2 real papers to write for school, but I did still want to write about my great 50k last weekend in Big Basin :)

What made this race so special was that it fell 5 days before my 22nd birthday, and so it became a birthday race of sorts. My mom and dad flew up to be there for the weekend, and both participated in their first trail races ever! My mom, who is in great shape but can't run due to foot issues hiked the super challenging 10k (her first race, 10k, and trail 'run' ever!) and my dad did the 25k, his longest race ever. Also, some of the OCTR came up for the race, and Saturday night Tracie, Skip, and Eric (EKP) came out for a pre-race/birthday dinner, which was lots of fun :) I still don't have my dad's pictures (hint hint dad...!) so I don't have any family shots, but I'll hopefully add those later :)

There were lots of now familiar faces at the start of this race, which is why, in part, it was such a special one. Rick was there, and graciously took a family pre-race photo before we got one of the two of us together. Apparently, he chatted with my parents after his race while they were waiting for me to come in, which was really nice. My parents are definitely coming to understand what i've been meaning when I say this community is full of such friendly and enjoyable people. I also got to finally introduce my parents to Sarah (of PCTR) which was really nice since they had heard so much about her :)

The OCTR runners all congregated pre-race, which was a fun touch to this northern california event. Rob, on the left, was one I hadn't met before, but had read some of his race reports through OCTR. He is an amazing runner and won this event!!! Next to him is Skip, who was initially planning to do the 50k, but ended up doing the 25k due to a variety of reasons. Even the 25k on this course was pretty brutal though, and it seemed like he enjoyed that challenge. Eric, or EKP, is also a speedy runner, who ended up doing this run almost entirely on a twisted ankle that got injured just a few miles into the race! It looked pretty sad when I saw it at the end, and I was amazed that he finished. Last, but certainly not least, is my Dad, who completed his first 25k, and who I couldn't be prouder of!

The race had a great start, slightly uphill, but, with the crowded, it was barely noticable. Soon enough we hit a fabulous downhill singletrack with cushy ground. I decided to keep with my Dad until the falls, and it was so much fun to run the beginning of his first trail race ever with him :) I ended up being incredibly glad we stuck together as, just before we came to the falls, a man was standing on the side of the trail. "There are yellow jackets ahead" he said. As we moved along, we started hearing screams from in front of us. We could see a woman standing and swatting in a swarm. Now I've always been frightened of bees, so this was pretty intimidating. In a sense, it reminded me of when I was little, and was going to do something that was fun but potentially intially unpleasant, like running through a cold stream of water. My dad starting running, but in my fright I was still on the other side. The woman was still yelling and moving slowly, as a man tried to get her to run while simultaneously trying to get some of the insects off her.

I took a deep breath and ran through the swarm. Buzzing filled my ears, and adrenaline pumped in my veins. The woman in front of me was slowing down, yelling about the bees in her hair and all over. I started screaming at her then, "Run! Run! If there was ever a time, Run!!!" As I wanted to get as far away from the swarm as possible. We got through most of them, and suddenly a couple sharp pains went into my side. Suddenly, I was five years old again. "Daddy! Daddy! It hurts!!! Get them off!!!! Get them off!!!" My dad rushed over and hit the yellow jackets off my side :) We made our way over to the falls, to assess damages. We both had been stung twice. However, compared to the woman in front of us, we felt lucky. She followed soon after, with a few still in her hair, that we helped get out. I had some get to put on bee stings, so I shared that, and used some myself (note-it didn't really work). As people continued through, it seemed everyone had gotten stung multiple times. The 50k course was scheduled to go through here again, but I was already thinking about asking if I could just do the 10k loop a bunch instead. I felt weak, but I didn't want to do that again!

Despite the stings, my Dad and I got a good picture together with the falls. I had initially planned to leave him at this point and speed up, but I was still scared about the bees, so I decided to stick with him :) However, after another mile or so, I decided to be a grown up again and enjoy a bit more speed! With the stings, this was hard, as their location on my side made breathing difficult, but my legs felt great, so I did my best trying to feel normal. The rest of the 15k loop was uneventful, and soon I was at the aid station, ready to go out on the next part.

We heard at the aid station that there was a possibility that the 15k would be rerouted, which was exciting news. And, even better, there were rumored to be no yellow jackets on this loop :). While it had plenty of brutal uphill, it also had fabulous singletrack downhill that I greatly enjoyed

After this section, it was confirmed that instead of doing the same 15k loop, we'd do an out and back, turning around before the wasp nest. The fun thing about this was that I got to see lots of friendly faces in this section, which I really enjoyed.

Relatively soon into this section, I saw Rick, Steve, and one of their friends heading back up the trail, leagues ahead of me :) They'd go on to finish in less than (or around) 6 hours!!!

I also finally got a picture with Norbert, who I first met at Diablo back in April, and have seen muliple times since, but hadn't yet photographically documented it :) We snapped a quick picture while passing, and wished each other luck before continuing on our ways!
I quickly hit what I *hope* was the right turn around section (i'm still not 100% sure!) and before I knew it was off onto my last loop. The second time around the 10k didn't seem nearly as hard, and there were lots more downhills than I remembered. A little ways into that section, and about 25 miles into the course I thought to myself, "could I do all this again?" Answer, yes :) I was really feeling great! I was really enjoying myself and actually did better on the hills the second time around.

Before I new it, I had reached the fireroad and it was less than 5k home :) There were more rolling hills in this section than I had remembered, but eventually I reached the official downhill part, 1.2 miles to the end. Once the downhill was here, I started pushing as much as I could. I flew by two runners who commented "young legs" as I smiled ear to ear. I got to the singletrack and just flew through it, having an absolute blast (confession, I had also taken a double shot espresso gu...that stuff is rocket fuel!) When I got to the fireroad, I new I was almost there and really started giving it my all. I was getting tired, and worried that I had started pushing too soon, but then, I saw the glint of light off cars, and then the bridge. I shifted up gears again and started sprinting, going as fast as it felt I had ever gone in my life. I really seemed to just be flying. I ran up to the finish to the cheers of my parents and friends and under the banner, with a new lovely PR :)

(look, I'm airborne!! Photo courtesy of Tracie, I think :) )

After the race I felt great, and just so happy to be alive and doing such wonderful beautiful things. And to have such great friends and family to enjoy it with. Definitely the perfect birthday run!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Did it, despite my best intentions :)

Well, somehow, I managed to finish the diablo course, in an hour and nine minutes less than last time!!! It took us 8 hours and one minute to finish the race course, and it was altogether brutal. I tried to give up about 10 times, but Ernesto and Laura kept me going, telling me they didn't mind waiting for me, that the beginning was brutal and it'd get better, that my legs are strong and so is my mind, that this will all be worth it for dick collins, and that I just had to take it a chunk at a time. Peer pressure amongst ultrarunners is really an awesome thing :) I really really didn't think I could finish this and fully intended to just do the summit and back for 16, as within the first 15 minutes my legs were dying and I just felt horrible. I really struggled through most of it, but enjoyed the last 8 miles a lot (Except for a brutal uphill) and felt amazing to finish. It was really great training and I am so thankful to Ernesto and Laura for not letting me give up all the times I wanted to. I definitely couldn't have done it without them. Here's a video of us on eagle peak (playing with my new camera :) relatively unsuccessfully done, but it can be used as a comparison to the later videos I'll hopefully do once I get better at the camera. At this point in the day, we were about 3 miles in and I hated life and running :) Luckily by the end I was in love with Diablo once again! I'll do a full race report later, as there's lots to say, but for now, here's a glimpse into the day

Here's one link and another link to my pictures!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Well, I'm still sick (a cold that caught up with me Monday night, apparently in response to the 50k?) and yet I'll be making the 2 hour drive at 6 in the morning tomorrow to Mt. Diablo to try my hand (or feet, as it were) at completing the Diablo Marathon course with Ernesto and one of his running friends. Now, Diablo still stands in my mind as the hardest thing I have ever attempted in my life, so I'm questioning my sanity a bit. It actually has more elevation in it than Dick Collins, which is almost twice as long! Still, Ernesto promises it to be awesome training, and part of me is really eager to revisit this course, and see if maybe it seems any easier this time around :)

After this, I am definitely going to be ready to taper!


(not running related, just enjoyable :) )

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn't a lie,
Life would be delight,-
But things couldn't go right
For in such a sad plight
I wouldn't be I.

If earth was heaven, and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I'd be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn't be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
Things would seem fair,-
Yet they'd all despair,
For if here was there
We wouldn't be we.

ee cummings

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beautiful Day

Well, today I can finally say that I'm no longer 21 :D

I'm luckily still at the age that getting older seems exciting and a sign of good maturity (rather than something I want to hide!). 22 seems much older than 21, especially since I never felt like I was the typical 21 year old. Ultrarunning pretty well curbed partying, drinking, and all the other shennanagins that are associated with that age.

So, to start off this next. hopefully wonderful, year of my life, I'm going on a short trail run in the morning (I've unfortunately picked up a cold from my germy little bundles of joy at the elementary school, so I've been taking it easy this week), and then one of my friends is baking me a cake tonight. I've sort of felt like my birthday has been in celebration mode since last friday, when my parents came up. We did birthday dinner friday, then Saturday we celebrated again with the OCTR people up for Big Basin, then Big Basin was a birthday run of sorts. Yesterday my school celebrated imy birthday, with them all singing happy birthday to me. My teacher brought in cupcakes, some of the kids asked questions and told me nice things ("How old are you?" "What are you going to get?"; "I like you!!!" "You're beautiful!!") and some made me really sweet cards (one said, "I like you because you are Love"). I came home and was given a dozen roses in all the colors of the rainbow by a new wonderful person. And I got to sleep in today, for the first time in weeks.

So already, I feel incredibly lucky and happy about being another year older :) I'm sure it won't be long before 22 seems young and I get eager to move up again, but I know soon enough I'll be wishing the years didn't fly by so fast, so I'll try to enjoy this year to its fullest. 23 will come soon enough :)


Edit- just went on a beautiful birthday run through redwoods and open fields, on winding singletrack that was mostly uphill out, which made for incredibly fun downhill coming back. We just did about 6 miles since I am sick after all, but it was beautiful. It's a perfect weather day here, with gorgeous blue skies and a clear view of the ocean. I love running :D

Monday, September 17, 2007

What Fun!

The Big Basin 50k yesterday was so much fun :) I'll do the full report in a bit, but for now, enjoy some great footage shot by Rick (who finished fifth!!!) after I crossed the finish line in 7:41ish! (a PR again....I think these 50ks get easier with each one :D) It was so nice having so many friends at the finish line, as well as my mom and dad (my mom is the one I'm hugging). I'm definitely talking through my endorphin high though, as evidenced by my remarks about doing 50 miles :D

Some fun stats from the race results. My official time was 7:41:06 (A pr by 5 minutes). Even cooler, I finished first woman in my age group! Okay, so there were only 2 women in the 20-29 age group, and PCTR doesn't recognize age group awards since it isn't about the competition out there, but, seriously, when will I ever finish first in any category (except the 21 and under :D). Another cool stat is that there were only six women (unless I misgendered some names) who completed the 50k. I was wondering why it didn't seem like there were many out there. It's pretty cool to have been amongst this small subgroup of finishers. I finished 4th among them :) Overall, 24th. Keeping my back of the pack status firmly in place :D

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On the Road again (or the trails as it were :) )

Time for my 3rd 50k in as many months :) Just had a lovely day with my family, celebrating early my birthday (this thursday), and enjoying a beautiful Santa Cruz day. I was given a wonderful new camera for my birthday, so I'll be taking some *hopefully* great shots at the race tomorrow! I'm really looking forward to having both my parents participate in a PCTR race (my mom is hiking the 10k, her first race, trail run, and 10k all at once :D, and my dad is doing the 25k, his longest run ever!). In addition, 3 members of OCTR came up, which is really fun. We all had dinner together, and they gave me the perfect runner's birthday present: a bag full of gus and bars! Running friends are the best :)

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to a beautiful day on beautiful trails with great people. In addition to OCTR people, there are a bunch of others going that I know from this blog world that I'll be excited to either see again or finally get to meet!

For now, I need to pack up the camelback and get ready for a great day (and hope that my pretending that 31 miles isn't that long holds true :D)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fa, a long long way to run...

[This song came on my music player early in the run and always makes me smile. I also love listening to "I have Confidence" when I'm running on the trails by myself. Julie Andrews is wonderful!]

Well, I met my plan and did the 20 miler today, which made me happy :) I decided that I just couldn't do another 'cougar watch' trail run, as I was just tired of constantly worrying, so I went *gasp* to the road!

I haven't done a road run in ages, and it reminded me of the good and the bad. It was much more mentally easier, just in terms of feeling like I was never isolated or exposed. However, it was weird to have so many people around! I definitely felt visible and that was sort of an odd thing. I missed being able to sort of dance to my music and sing :D. That flies when you're alone on trails, but on a public street its a little weird (though the slogan here is "keep santa cruz weird" so I guess I'd just be doing my part!)

Anyways, I ran from home down to the ocean and did the half marathon loop down there. I planned to run back, but cheated, because I didn't want to run all the way up to campus (there's significant elevation gain, uphill the last 3 miles) It would also have meant that I'd have done closer to 23 miles, which I didn't want to do (I was admittedly tired. My legs were sore from yesterday and probably Friday, and I only got about 5 hours of sleep the night before, and did a half day of student teaching. I just wanted a 'lazy' run). So, I just ran around downtown to get the number to 20 miles after my loop and then treated myself to a Jamba juice and a bus ride back home :)

The run, still, was just gorgeous, which is the nice thing about street running here. And I did do about 2 1/2 miles on trails, so it wasn't all pavement. The bay looked spectacular and there were truly breathtaking views to be had. I also got a view of nude men playing beach games, which made my run a bit more interesting. Gotta love the anything goes additude of Santa Cruz ;). (Disclaimer, these men were far down on a cove beach and I didn't see too much as I wasn't looking closely, just a passing glance that revealed, well, the lack of a swimsuit or anything else! I wasn't running near them or anything)

So, now no more long runs until Big Basin. Didn't try the carb drink like I planned today as I was just too tired to go to the store, but I'll make sure I have some for the 50k, which I think will be a good place to try it out. I think otherwise this week I'll do 3-4 miles Wednesday (Track practice) and then I'm thinking 7 for Thursday, with Friday and Saturday off (I want a little taper...) then racing Sunday and perhaps a medium long run monday to do a back to back. We'll see!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thanks all for the pushing and inspiration!

Today ended up being a surprisingly good day. I decided to just bring my running clothes to student teaching so that I could head to the trails after work. I didn't want to change there, because I thought being seen in my little running shorts would be unprofessional, so I just work a dress and changed into a sports bra underneath so that I could slip on shorts at the trail, and then add the top. I decided to wear sheer stockings since it was cold today, and got the funniest reactions from my students! One girl asked, "Are those your real knees?". Another boy told me my legs looked really dark (apparently doesn't understand dark and light as the stockings actually made my legs look more pale), but then he said they looked soft and asked if he could touch them! Apparently people don't wear these so much any more ;)

So, I got to the trail around 1:15 got changed and geared up, and headed out. And boy, were my legs tired! But then I had a good talk with myself, reminding myself that there is no way in heck my legs will feel fresh 30 miles into that 50 miler, when I have 20 to go, so being tired is about the lamest excuse ever to want to wimp out on a long run. So on I perservered. Now, I've been having wonderful group runs all week (ran with Mimi and Kaelin (not sure I got that right!) on Monday, track on Wednesday, and a new running friend, Ed, on thursday) so I think I was more paranoid than I have been about being alone. But still, I made it to the turn around for the 18 mile out and back, Sand Point, and ended up hanging out with some mountain bikers for about a half an hour. I always get double takes up there since I don't have a bike. Always makes me feel like I'm missing something ;). They were really nice and promised to look out for Mountain Lions for me on the way down, and scare them off so that they wouldn't get me :D

So, As I was getting closer to my car (about 4 miles out) I started thinking that instead of just an extra 2 miles, to get 20, I should do an extra 6! That's the great thing about a pyramid shaped run, you have fabulous downhill where you feel like a million dollars and make ambitious plans. After Rick telling me not to taper in no uncertain terms, I figured I should try to do something a bit more special than just 20. So, I got back to my car, refilled the camelback, ate a luna bar, and headed out again to Potter gate, 3 miles from the parking. I listened to a great recording of Leonard Berstein conducting the West Side Story Suite, which was fabulous (I love running to classical!) and before I knew it there was the gate. Awesome.

I chatted with a woman runner there and encouraged her to check out PCTR, since she's getting back into running, and then headed back. About a mile from the car, I realized in my calculations that I'd be .4 short for the 24! Couldn't have that, so I turned around, ran out for 3 minutes, and back (no garmin, but I figured six minutes of running should be at least .4) and then, finally, got to the car, for 24 miles in about 5 hours and 20 minutes (including the 1/2 hour chat with the bikers :) ).

It was great. I felt super hardcore with my out and backs, as I got lots of appreciative and encouraging remarks and looks from runners and mountain bikers who saw me going both ways. One woman biker commented "You just keep going, don't you?" Indeed I did, at least today.

I felt wonderful finishing, and even pushed it to the car. Even better I met two super nice woman runners (Timmy and, Laurel?) who do marathons. They said they run Nisene a lot, so I'll probably see them around.

So, thanks all you in blog world for inspiring (and reminding me to do these long runs that I need). It was such a nice and fun run and made me feel a lot better about Firetrails. Granted, running 26 more miles than what I did today sounds intimidating still, but I can do this :)

Hope you all have fabulous weekends full of running and fun :D

Ack...Nightmares Already?

So, almost everyone is familiar with pre race nightmares. They happen to us all, right? Well, something is wrong when they happen over a month before the event!

Apprently all my researching yesterday simply gave my brain fodder for toying with me. I had, not one, but two nightmares last night about Dick Collin's 50!

The first, I was going to the race, getting dressed somehow while driving, when I looked at the clock and saw that it was 6:15! Oh well, I guess I've missed the early start, okay, I'm almost there, I'll just start with the normal crowd. I drive up to the race, and ask the volunteers where to park. "Well, you'll need to drive 25 miles to the turn around, and take a bus back. Don't worry, the bus should only take 7 minutes". By this time, it's 6:25, so I'm getting concerned. I go to try to find parking, and have trouble. I leave my car somewhere and stop to sell a boom box (hmm? yeah...not sure the significance of that). Anyways, I go back outside, and I can't find my car! Now I'm freaking out. I ask my sister and friend if they will just take my keys, find it, and park it for me, as I really need to get to the race. However, I look in the middle of the street and about 4 amphipod bottles are lying there. At this point I realize my car has actually been stolen, and the theif had the good foresight to toss out my water bottles so that I could still so the race. Can't deal with the stolen car right now though, I've got to get to the race! I run over to the start and a bunch of runners are sitting around playing the guitar. They aren't racing today, but they point me in the direction of the start, behind a fence and up a trail out of sight. I'm frantically trying to tie a jacket for later around me, as I've missed the opportunity to leave a drop bag so I need to carry everything. Suddenly I realize it's after 7am already. I start crying as I tell my mom there's not too much chance now that I'll be able to finish the race; I just don't have enough time. She responds by telling me I need to send postcards to everyone who sent me a card at thanksgiving. She doesn't understand the gravity of the situation apparently. (In real life my mom is super supportive!).

So I woke up from that upset, but glad it was a dream, got some water, and went back to sleep.

Then I dreamed that I was getting ready again, this time in my own home down in socal, and while I was getting ready, I went to put up my hair. It looked normal, but when I parted it, I had almost no hair in the middle of my head! Instead there were masses of these crawly caterpillar like bugs that were eating all my hair!!! I was horrified, but the race was in an hour or so, and I figured I'd just deal with it later. But then when I looked at my hair pulled back, I could see my scalp literally crawling with these bugs, like my hair was alive. It was horrific. I finally admitted that there would be no racing for me today.

So, yes, I need to calm my mind down :). I think the dreams were more about general stress than race stress, but still, way for those fears to inflitrate me when I'm weak!

Off to a tired day of student teaching and a 20 miler :P

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dick Collins 50 Resources

As with Tahoe, I thought it'd be a good idea to compile links to race reports and the like that'll be good reading as I get progressively more anxious and excited about the event at hand. I'll be adding to this list as I find things, and please let me know if you know of any I've missed! I've added a quote from each report with something either to remember about the course or strategy or something similar :)

Mountain Man Steve's 2006 Report-"The aid stations were extremely well stocked and almost too frequent if that is even possible! I usually carry two water bottles because I like to have the choice of either water or sport drink out on the trail, I also have rather high hydration needs and so I usually need them both. With aid stations rarely more than 4.5 miles apart and some as little as 2.5 miles between, I really could have done with just one."

Short Angry Person Miki's 2006 Report -"There were a lot of uphills through the area before Skyline Gate"

CoolRunning Forum DrugDoc Report - "No more than one minute at each aid station, 5 minutes at the halfway point, then turn on the afterburners only after mile 40 if I had anything left."

10/13/04 - Firetrails 50 Mile - By A First-timer -Jennifer Ray (scroll a bit)-"my lowest point came on the climb back up MacDonald grade. This section packs about 500 feet of elevation gain into just over a mile, and it was exposed and hot. My mind started to wander on the long hot climb up this hill, and my energy was quite low.

Rick's musings from 2006 (over a few post w/ picture links) -"The trails on this race were awesome. With a name like Firetrails you would think it was mostly fire road, nope. Lot's of beautiful, tree lined, soft single track - the type you encounter in Marin. The course was extremely well marked. 8000+ total elevation gain. Excellent post race bbq with enough picnic tables for tired runners to sit on."

1996 Jane Coleman-"
And I've brought away some lessons for next time: more training, more hills, more trails, more speed, a better flashlight." (for this one, the big thing is the flashlight! She finished last place, and in the dark. Something to think about since I'm thinking I'll be pushing cut-offs most likely!)

1996 Richard Pon -" I also approached this run as going from aid station to aid station (13 of them), and not as a 50 mile course. "

1997 Richard Pon - "The course through Sibley and Huckberry Preserves is all single track and beautiful. The trail is soft and dry, and the shade provided by the forest refreshing."

2001 Steve Patt -"Then there was the last aid station, just 3M from the finish, and I'm thinking, "it's all downhill from here. Wrong! To my amazement there was as almost as much uphill as downhill from there to the finish, and it was tough going."

2006 Tim Daly - "nothing flat about it (with the exception of the first 1.5 miles); the first half is tougher then the second half; The trail plunges down 1,000 feet after Skyline towards the redwood forest, and with my quads feelinggood here, I felt like I was flying. It hit Bort Meadows (44.1 miles) at 4 PM, 5.9 miles left and 90 minutes to go. "

How wonderful is this world of technology that us somewhat compulsive researchers have so much to work with!

From reading, what I've learned so far is:
  • Drop bags! I've never used a drop bag before (I have prepared a few, but never needed them) so this will be important.
  • Flashlight! as I'll be doing the early start at 6am and likely finishing late, I might possibly need lights at both ends. I need to look into this
  • Blisters! Many many of the reports talked about blisters. I have a few trouble spots so I'm going to be good and read fixing your feet and find out what to do. Gotta solve this so that it's not an issue
  • Heat can be a problem. I need to make sure I have my handkerchief (at least at the turn around)
  • the 2nd half is longer than the first (as the turn around is at mile 26). This is nice :)
  • The whole course is rolling. I knew this, but it's a good reminder

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Eating the Rainbow

As my race is coming up relatively soon, per Rick's suggestion, I've been trying to eat better (the sleep thing isn't happening so much, but hopefully when things calm down I'll get more). Since Safeway has pretty bad produce, I decided to visit the local farmer's market instead.


I am definitely going every week! I got a ton of good, healthy, fresh food for a great price. The vegetables all look amazing, and it was hard to resist buying everything that I saw. I got 4 zucchinis for 80 cents, a gorgeous bouquet of cilantro, beautiful orangish red bell peppers, homemade basil garlic pasta, and tasty strawberries, as well as my personal favorite, blackberry honey, which tastes fabulous! (lots of other stuff too, as you can see)

In running news, I did a track workout tonight, which went really well. We did 4 miles, and one of them (the timed one) took 7:43!!!!

Now, that's unremarkable for most of you, but I don't think that I've broken 8 min/mile since I started running again in college. And never off a treadmill. I'm pretty excited :D

I'm running with a new friend tomorrow, and fear I'll completely embarass myself (he runs sub 8 minute miles normally! I've warned him though, that I'm ridiculously slow, so hopefully he's not too bored!)

And then 20 on Friday

Yay :D

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's all in the numbers...

Well, another month has come and gone, and I've gotten a PR of sorts, in terms of monthly mileage. This month, the grand total was:


Significantly better than the 141.0 of last month, and makes me feel better about the seemingly low mileage weeks, despite lots of longish runs (The miles of these weeks, with the Monday to Sunday format, have been: 38(with week starting wednesday for the month), 51(back to back weekend), 35.2 (week of the 50k), 36.5 (weekend guest), and 41. Not exactly where I imagined my mileage being, but I suppose I'll take what I can get. During the month I still did: one 15 miler, two 18 milers, two 20 milers, and one 5ok.

I've also been playing around with my mileage, in terms of which day to start calculating, which makes a surprising difference, and makes me feel a little better about how tired my legs have been feeling this week. I conventionally start my mileage on Mondays, so that the full weekend is counted together, which gave me an unimpressive 41 miles for the week. However, if I instead start the mileage on Sunday to Saturday instead, that goes up to 58 miles! Which is near my highest mileage ever (I did 60 the week of the SD Marathon in june). Of course, doing that makes the previous week a paltry 16 miler week (I know!), but then makes the week before that a 53 miler week, which I like much better :)

So, I'll stick with my normal way of recording mileage, just because I think it makes sense to keep the weekly mileage together, but sometimes it's good to switch things around a little. It makes sense that after a 58 miler week, my legs would be tired, much more than just after 41 miles, and makes me feel better about my plan for a rest day!

All this data talk is mostly me trying to justify that I've been putting in enough mileage for my rapidly approaching 50 miler! I'll admit, I'm starting to get worried that I just haven't putting in enough training. 50 miles seems considerably farther than the 32 of Tahoe (my "furthest 50k"). I'm hopefully going to get in something in the 15-18 miler range on Thursday, and then do a mini taper for the 50k next weekend, since I have a guest visiting this weekend and won't get the opportunity to get in a long run. Then I'll do another long run the weekend after (I'm thinking 26 miles or so) and then, I suppose, start to taper! Ack!!!

Any advice from you seasoned vets about what to do with this 39 days that I have before the race? Any strategies, numerical or otherwise, would be amazing :D


In an amusing but unrelated note, my trail paranoia hit a high note on Saturday when I attempted to do a long run on single track by myself in Nisene Marks. I started by just singing outloud to my (lowly set with only one headphone) ipod (which I'm sure was lovely for the one couple I encountered out on the trail who got to hear me belting show tunes). However, after hearing an animal in the bushes about 3 miles in (was probably a squirrel, but squirrels and mountain lions don't sound that different, right?) I changed tactics. Off went the ipod, and I started talking to the animal, then proceding to talk (loudly) to the forest, myself, God, for the next two hours, as I hesitently proceeded on the trail, pepper spray firmly in hand. At one point, the trail is surrounded on both sides by high bushes (went above my head) with a very steep drop off to one side. I heard a rustling in the bushes and immediately screamed, swinging around and pointing my weapon into the bushes. But before I could set off the pepper spray, a frightened squirrel scampered away under the leaves.

The almost victim of my irrationality
Yes, I almost maced a squirrel.

I really need to get a handle on this fear :P

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Psychedelic Climacteric 50k

A belated and somewhat differently styled report! I promised Mike Palmer a good report to potentially do something with (if that something happens, I'll let you know!) so this report is a bit shorter than my normal ones (as the readers the world over let out a sigh of relief) and a bit more about the race and less about me in particular. It *hopefully* gives a good feel of the event though :)

A crowd of runners congregated a bit after 8am, Saturday, August 31st on an
understated dirt track above the UC Berkeley Clark Kerr dorms. As we casually
mingled and introduced ourselves to each other, it seemed surreal that we were
about to embark on a challenging but beautiful 50k through the hills above us.
As a former Berkeley graduate who ran her first three miles on this track just
a few years prior, it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this was not
going to be just a short track workout, but rather a full day event of fire roads
and single tracks through a spectacularly versatile landscape. Being just my
second 50k, I was already a bit nervous lining up with the others. It didn’t help
that one of the runners, Eric Robinson (16 miles- 4:12), was wearing a shirt from
Hardrock 100, which stated “Sea Level To Everest and Back,” along with its
intimidating elevation profile on the back. This may have just been a fun run,
but there were some serious runners in attendance.
 Mike Palmer, a well known figure in the Bay Area ultra running community, plans
this race, the Psychedelic Climacteric 50k, every year about a month before his
birthday and draws some amazing athletes (as well as new ultra runners like myself)
to the event (The course record is currently held by Jasper Halekas (2005) at
4:45:31). The difficulty of this run arises in the estimated 7,000 feet of elevation
gain that this course promises,with 1,200 of the climbing in the first two miles
 Twelve individuals completed some part of the run, with four choosing the shortest,
sixteen mile option, one completing twenty two miles, one twenty four point two,
and six of us doing the whole enchilada, the 50k.
 We all started together and, as characteristic of a small race, no one was pushing
to be in the front. Flora Trivak-Tetley exclaimed early on feigned excitement about
leading the race, and we all enjoyed being in the “front pack” together until the
steep incline began to separate the runners and remind us that this was not going
to be an easy jaunt through the hills.
 The course begins by winding up through Claremont Canyon and into Tilden park on
a steep and challenging fire road that offers spectacular panoramic views of San
Francisco, the Golden Gate, and the City of Berkeley. It was already warming
up, and promised to be a beautiful, if hot, day.
 This race pledges to deliver the best running that Berkeley has to offer and,
with its spectacular climbs and views to match, it does just that. While the peaks
were relatively modest (Chaparral Peak tops out at 1,300 ft and Wildcat Peak boasted
an elevation of 1,250 ft) the constant move from the ridge to the valleys and back
up again kept things interesting, and the 360 degree panoramas of the entire Bay
Area made every climb worth it.
 As the course moved from the more familiar areas of Tilden park and into the
sweeping fields around San Pablo Ridge, the feeling that we had left the Berkeley
that I had always known was undeniable. Running by herds of cattle (or walking in
my case, out of fear of the three bulls less than twenty feet from the trail) was
not an experience I expected in Berkeley, but one that I relished in.
 However, lest we forget that this is Berkeley, after all, Mike has us finish by
heading into the heart of the city, onto the infamous Telegraph Avenue, where the
hustle of street vendors selling everything from Anti-Bush bumper stickers to palm
readings to hand crafted jewelry melds with the colorful street characters and UC
Berkeley students, all who were enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Running
amidst the crowds reminds us about the great versatility of this city, a place
that can host shaded forests, panoramic plains, and a thriving urban community
all within short distances of one another.
 As we headed away from Telegraph and back up onto the track, countless images
of the day’s run floated through my mind. Though I had lived in Berkeley for
four years, I had never fully understood what made that city so great. However,
being out on the trails that day, it couldn’t have been made any clearer. I rounded
the track with Ernesto Matal Sol (7:46), an amazing runner who had stayed with me
the entire day, as we brought an end to the event- the last runners to finish.
Mike (6:45), Flora (6:45), and Andy Roth (6:45) were waiting (Ramona Vogt (6:58)
wasn’t able to stay around after the race), and cheered us in as we finally
received verification from Ernesto’s GPS that we had, indeed completed exactly
50k. As fitting of this understated yet wonderful event, we recorded our own times
on a sheet of paper and enjoyed sitting together, drinking ice cold Cokes, and
recounted our own adventures of the day.
 Thank you to Mike Palmer for planning such a wonderful event and giving us
all such a fabulous opportunity to truly experience everything (running related)
that Berkeley has to offer. It was an eye opening experience, and one I won’t
soon forget.
 Results from today's Psychedelic Climacteric runs:
 16 miles
Matt Hartley                3:06
Lynn Schankliess            3:52
Ginny LaForne               4:10
Eric Robinson               4:10
 22 miles (or thereabouts)
Anne Lew                    4:43
 24.2 miles (measured by GPS)
Ellen Holbrook              6:27
 The Whole Enchilada
Andy Roth                  6:45
Mike Palmer                6:45
Flora Trivak-Tetley        6:51
Ramona Vogt                6:58
Ernesto Matal Sol          7:46
Adelyn Bonner-Lyon         7:46
 The Oregon PCT Hikers 33 miles Parallel Universe Version
 Noah Smay "Bull"                 11:30

Catra Corbett "Dirt Diva" 11:30