Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn Leaves 50 miles, my first. October 30th, 2010

October 30th, 2010, I ran my first 50 miles.
The race was at Champoeg Park in Oregon.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go"

Going into the race, I had a do or die attitude. I wanted to succeed, I had to succeed, I was going to succeed and there was absolutely nothing that was going to come between me and my success.

I have always taken my training extremely seriously. I did not make the decision to run this 50 until after my last 50K, which was on August 21st. So I didn't train for this 50 based on what the schedule that I had in front of me said I should do. I had to alter it. I also knew that I had to get faster. I decided to do the early start, 6AM because I had have started the final loop by 4PM or they would pull me off the course, which meant a DNF. Through training, I did increase my speed by a minute. According to the schedule, I ran the 31 miles 5 weeks too early and I should have ran 26 miles immediately after. What I did do was run 16 immediately after the 31, than increased it. I think it is okay to alter a schedule if it means staying healthy and injury free. I was listening to my body. I knew because I had already trained for the 31, I was trained. I had the mileage in and my heart and mind were totally into it. That being said, I still had two months till race day. So those 2 months leading up to the 50 was just to keep myself fit. I altered the schedule in different ways. I ran 2 marathons on back to back weekends and ran 50 miles in 3 days, I did that twice. For example, on a Sunday, I ran 27 miles, 8 the next, 14 the next. But the 14 was a combination of my 4 mile run that was on my schedule and my 10 mile run. In addition, I am normally a trail runner; love the trail, so I was running more on the road, especially during the higher mileage. So thinking about how I trained for this 50, I wouldn't change a thing. I think I handled things well.
For my next 50, I'll do what the schedule says. I'm certain it will be the Mt. Hood 50, so I'll train on hills and add the 50 in 3 days, etc.

The course:
The course was simple. It was a 10K loop at Champoeg Park in Oregon. It was mostly on a bike path, about 1.5 miles on a trail. For everyone running the 50 miles, we ran 8 times around. Going into the race, I was fine with it. I liked the routine, knew what to expect. The first aid station was a 1.5 away, you ran another 1.5 miles, turned around and back to that aid station, than it was 1.5 to the start/finish again. Simple.

Prior to the race:
The night of the race, I slept about 2 hours. I took my sleeping pill, but still tossed and turned all night. With not getting enough sleep and having to get up at 3:45, I was tired and was worried it would affect my race. My husband dropped me off at 5:15 and I had my first energy drink, which helped. I was a little cold standing outside in the dark, nervous. Immediately people that recognized me came over to say hi. I even sat in a gal named Lynn's car and she put a sleeping bag over my legs.

The start:
When the race started, a group of us were huddled together in the dark. You couldn't see anything on the trail. Running in the dark was something I did not train for and wasn't going to. My very good friend Mike, whom I've known for many years, ran with me for awhile and we talked and it was comforting. Then someone else came up to talk to me. I soon calmed down and was enjoying talking to people in the dark.
We all got a little confused on which way to go in the field, but quickly figured out.
Soon enough we finished our first loop and the sun was coming up. I still had my head lamp on for part of the way during loop 2. I was even beginning to see where I was running and felt more confident, but lost a lot of the companionship, which was okay. I didn't put my Ipod on until I was on the 4th loop.

At about the 3rd or 4th loop, I was feeling really sleepy and chugged my 2nd energy drink. The last one I drank was at about 12PM and I had actually just added it to my water bottle. The aid stations were great and the volunteers were awesome. A lot of the volunteers stayed out there all day and they were very attentive. My system was to grab a salt tab at the first aid station plus a few potatoes and at the 2nd aid station, I would fill up my water bottle with water and grab some candy. Occasionally I would also drink from a cup. I would then re-fill my water bottle when I came back to the same aid station and then head to the honey bucket.

Pain tolerance:
Every loop got a little more painful. I remember thinking at mile 25, "ouch this hurts". At mile 35, when I was at the point of being further than I have ever been, thought "oh crap" I still have 15 miles more to go. I remember feeling dizzy on my 6th loop and thinking the sidewalk was moving, but luckily that didn't last long. The pain started to get more intense on the 6th loop. I thought it was bad at mile 26, well that pain just kept getting worse and this is where I started to really begin walking. But at this point, it was for about a minute and it was fast. I was told going into the race I should run for 20, walk for 5 minutes. Another person told me to run for 9, walk for 1. Well I didn't do either. I never wanted to stop running with the group when it was dark and I was too afraid I would be too slow and DNF. Pain wise, the last loop was the worst! To cope during the last loop, I ran for 8 minutes, walked for 2, walked up the small hill to the turn around. 2 men were in front of me, I would see them walk and I walked too. My Ipod was a big help, being able to focus on the music. Sometimes I would say to myself "run to the end of the song." What also helped was looking up. During training, I would look up and not look down, I was forced to look at the cars on my route. It made me feel more confident and actually made me faster. During the race, it had the same effect.

"I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when I'm done "

Family/friend support:
It was at about mile 36 when I saw some of my family members. I saw my brother, sister in law and kids on my 6th loop. I saw my parents on the 7th loop. On my last loop, my mom ran with me to the aid station. She said I was fast when I was at my slowest. I saw my husband and girls on the 7th loop.
Seeing the other runners that I knew pass by me was helpful, I tried to look up, smile and say hi. After awhile, even that was too much and I could tell by a lot of others faces, it was a big effort for them as well.
At mile 40, I jumped over a Salamander. The story with this is that I always have to jump over something at some crazy mileage. It is usually a snake and before this 50, it was at around mile 30. But this time it was mile 40. So not cool.
I remember on my last loop these two little girls first asked me if I was going to run till midnight and then they asked me if I wanted their umbrella.

The finish:
When I was finally at about mile 46-47 is when I didn't take anymore walk breaks, guess I got a 2nd wind.
Finishing the race, I sprinted the last 1/2 mile getting up to a 9 min pace, coming in just slightly under my goal time of 10 hours at 9:55:44. The race started with 99 participants for the 50 miler, it ended with 43, I came in at #34. Out of these 43, there were only 9 women and I was one of them, placing 6th for gender.

Last words:
You know there are a lot of people that have admitted to me that they don't know what an ultramarathon is, so therefore they have no idea the kind of strength that comes from running such a distance. Not just physical strength, but mental. Running 50 miles was the hardest thing that I have ever done. At one point, my whole body was screaming at me in complete agony, but because I had the absolute determination to succeed, I kept going, one step at a time.

“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To Give Anything Less than Your Best is to Sacrifice the Gift

‎ “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, an hour, a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

It is 3 days till my first 50.

Even though the butterflies inside my stomach are becoming overwhelming, I decided to be "normal" today.

I did not sleep well last night at all. I thought that maybe God thought I was mocking him when last night, I told my husband that when the prayer lady at church prayed for me on Saturday and prayed that I would sleep very peacefully this week, maybe he thought I was being sarcastic. Oh wait, it's God, he knows my heart. I was even in bed at 9:30 and thought "oh sweet, I don't have to wake till 7, that's 9.5 hours of sleep!" Uh huh!!!

I very sleepily had my coffee this morning, got my girls ready for school, kind of kicking them out of the house as they were fighting over a yo-yo. "But mom, she said I could bring it to school!" "Uh no toys at school! Now beat it!!"

I ate oatmeal and raisins and an egg for breakfast. I know I am getting ready for a big race when I eat oatmeal for breakfast. I know it is good for me and breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I hate breakfast. I would much rather have last night’s leftover dinner.

I only had to run 2 miles today for my "taper" run. As I was coming home, I stepped on a small, hidden pine cone and slightly twisted my ankle, not falling. I was fine, but emotions were pretty mad at the potential for actually hurting myself. After all this training...a pine cone on a 2 mile run, my last run before my first 50 is what prevents me from running this thing? I don't think so.

Last night, my daughter dropped all the eggs off the refrigerators shelf and we had 4 eggs left. Also coffee is getting low, as well as the ground hamburger and cheese. So that was enough of an inspiration to get my lazy butt over to Costco.

Even if I did not sleep well last night, I do feel better than I did yesterday. Yesterday, I thought my kids were trying to give me their colds. Not a good time for me to get a cold. I've been fueling my body with vitamins and herbs.

We have been having trouble with our kids and lying. They are testing us and trying to find out what they can get away with. Once again, my older daughter didn't bring home all her necessary homework. "But mom, I have to do those 3 math lessons at school." She says. “Right.” I decided to leave her at home so that I could go have a private chat with her teacher. The teacher was in a hour long meeting. I did get to go through my daughter's desk and grab 4 math lessons. I don't feel sorry for her as she was boo hoo hooing at home. She let the work pile up. I took away her Ninento DS and her IPOD until further notice.

Ah life goes on. I do wish I could sleep more.

You know as I was driving to Costco today, I was thinking about the race and how it just kind of sits out there in the distance staring at me. The big day slowly gets closer and closer and for once, I felt truly excited. I can't wait. The race director keeps mentioning all the food he has bought or is buying. I mean we are talking $500 worth of Subway sandwiches and $80 worth of candy corn! Sweet.

Wouldn't it be nice if running 50 miles just didn't hurt at all?

I was told of this story yesterday. An Olympic marathoner, John S. Akhwari (1968 Mexico) the final competitor, was injured and very late. He staggered and limped across the finish line -to enormous cheers...! When asked why he did not quit,... he replied, ’My country did not send me 5000 miles to start... the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race." This is awesome!

Well I suppose to my own little world. I could say, "My husband didn't wake up at 4AM and my family didn't drive all the way to the race event to watch me start, they came out to watch me finish the race!"

So even if I am still running or jogging or even if I have to crawl or limp, one way or another, I'm making it across that finish line!!!

"I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when I'm done "

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

Reading in the afternoon sunshine

The girls sitting outside in the front yard like I do when I read. I love how the cat has decided to join. Funny thing is that the sprinklers came on just minutes after I took this.
Me as a little girl

Happy Halloween from our crazy family to yours

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Running reflections

The shirt I bought after running my first marathon. It's something I apply to my daily life. Quitting is not an option.
Marathon #1, crossing the finish Line. I could have at least looked up right? If your able to click on the picture to enlarge, look at my neck and look at how stiff I look. This is my favorite memorabilia. It shows how hard that first marathon was. It is a reminder of how far I've come with my training.
Marathon #2, coming across the St. John's Bridge. I look stronger. I'm still wearing those Mickey Mouse "lucky" shorts and I still have that hat, it's my favorite.
Hagg Lake in 2008. Oh good, I've learned to smile for the cameras.
Hagg Lake in 2010.
Wildwood in 2009. Photo of my knees from falling.
Hagg Lake in 2010. My daughters and husband helped out at the aid station.

My Story;

As of today, 10-12-10 it is 18 days till I run in my first 50 mile run.

Like always, I find myself thinking back to how I got started.

I started running 3 months after my last daughter was born in 2003. I was doing Body for Life to lose about 20 pounds. I ran for 20 min 3 days a week. At first, well it was just walking up and down the stairs. I then headed for the treadmill. I even ran a mile in 7 minutes, boy was that exhausting!! One afternoon I decided I was going to run 9 miles on my treadmill. I did it completely wrong, stop and go, ran too fast, but I did it. That evening, I had the "runners high" man I felt really good!! A few days later I was out on my driveway drinking a beer and the mail came. In the mail was an invitation from team in training to run a marathon. I thought a marathon, what a good idea! I never signed up with team in training, but some how came across or the Portland Marathon Clinic.

My first "real" experience running was running 10 miles around Hagg Lake. I was so nervous, but showed up with my clip tie Nike shoes. They were neon green and I bought them off of craigslist, seriously no ties. I ran that race in about 2:27, I think. I felt pretty good.

The following weekend, I decided to join up with this Portland Marathon. I showed up at Wildwood for a 10 mile run. It was so muddy, had my silly Nike shoes and 2 huge water bottles that had a screw off cap. I remember keeping up fairly good, but my breathing was absolutely horrible! I sounded like I was having an asthma attack!!! I made it through it.

I kept showing up to the free training runs week after week. I even signed up for the clinics, taught by Warren and Patti Finck. I attended every one and when I ran with the group, I wanted to be in the front so that I can hear the pace group leader give out the good advice, I looked forward to it.I did everything that everyone told me to do.

Every higher mileage was that much more thrilling to me. I always came home saying, "ask me how many miles I just ran!" Oh, yes I did get new shoes. Right after that first Wildwood run, I headed over to a running store and got some Mizuno's and new water bottles.I remember when I ran my first 20. It was at Vancouver Lake. We had to run by our car 4 times! What torture! And it was hot!! I think that torture treatment is what helped me to be able to run runs that are routine. Horrible story happened that day, I almost lost my bowels on the way home! Horrible stomach ache, but luckily didn't. I'm afraid I almost quit the marathon before it even happened. I even took a walk of shame home. Quit for about a week or so, but something snapped inside of me and I started up again. Glad I did, running that marathon became my best physical achievement. I ran that first marathon in 4:37:54.

The next year, I was a little more prepared. I was still in the front, listening to the pace group leader. That year I decided to do some speed work. That was so much fun! Speed work was every Thursday evening, at some track in Portland. It was taught by Patti and Warren Finck. I remember Patti told me and my friend Debbie Freeman that we were strong runners. What a great compliment! Debbie has since run many, many marathons, she is a marathon maniac and than there is me. That 2nd marathon I came in at 4:04:20, that's a difference of 33 minutes! I felt good, but I got injured.

I knew at this moment, I could either A. try for the Boston Marathon or B. go longer. Well with my obsession for distance, guess what I chose? My mom wanted me to try for Boston as well as my Dad. My dad in college could run a mile in 5 minutes. I chose long. I read the book Ultramarathon man by Dean Karnazes and decided that I was going to just go for a 50. I started training with the back to back long runs, got injured, had to cancel out that plan. But, I did train again when I was feeling better and ran my first 31 miles from my house, stopping after 9 miles at my house for aid.

I then ran at the Hagg Lake 31 mile race Feb of 2008, came in at 6:56:50, which was 3rd from last and swore I would never run again. Hagg was hard.

I then ran the Wildwood run in 2008, came in at 6:19:01. But that was a horrible day; some ass was moving the directional flags and everyone was getting lost. I ran with 2 people that ran faster than I. I kept up with them in fear I would get lost. It rained that day 1 inch from the time the race began and kept up the entire time. I was than introduced to the 2.5 hill at Lower Macleay, Firelane 5 and Oil Line rd. I love them all now as they are fun hills. But Firelane 5 and Oil Line during that day were mud balls.I was walking in the ferns down Oil Line, slipping and sliding, and then the cliff! Oh the cliff down to Leif, some guy helped me down! I to this day like to "visit" oil line at least once a year, when it is dry of course.

The next year, 2009, I skipped Hagg Lake, but went for Wildwood again. I trained. I remember going out with my map, was not going to get lost again. I got stronger on the start as well. I was well trained. I came in at 6:00:12. The ending is a funny story. I was really cramping up the last 3 or so miles. I was on the downhill the last mile, on the rocks of Lower Mac, I got distracted by a little boy, cramped up and bit it on the rocks! I started yelling, "Help me, help me" A man ran over, pulled me up. I reached for the fence, had blood running down my leg, and started limping towards the finish, then walking, then jogging, then running, then sprinting! But, I almost threw up at the finish! Nice! What a great day. Oh and I yelled out "This is my playground!!!!" (A joke with my family)

In 2010, I went back to Hagg Lake, I was grumpy, could hardly eat, came in at 6:57:59, tad slower, but the mud was worst that year. I remember telling this poor man at one of the aid stations "don't follow me, I'm grumpy!" Poor guy, it was his first Ultra. I was also very nauseated that year. I had surgery 2 months prior to remove a dermoid cyst from ovary, so luckily I still had my neausea pills and my pain killers. I remember lying on the couch, asked my husband to go get my nausea pills, telling him specifically which ones they were and were not. He brought me another pain killer, so I ended up taking more than I should have, but it was too late when I realized I was given the wrong one. I didn't feel any pain, but nothing happened negatively to me. It took me about 3 days to get over my mood that I experienced at that race.

I wasn't in the mood to train, so I skipped Wildwood that year, was a little bummed, but volunteered at the aid station. I was looking for a race by than, when I heard of the Hagg Dust. I thought, a summer ultra, how perfect. Started training in May, ran it, came in at 6:18:05. It's nice there without all that horrible mud! I swore up and down that day, after the race that I was never going to run again, but that only lasted about 45 minutes. On the way home, I was already thinking about going for this upcoming 50 and I was committed.
So, here I am 18 days till race day. I just ran 49 miles in 3 days. I am almost at the point of tapering. Since August, I've run 3 marathons (including 2 one weekend after another), 1 31 mile race and have improved my speed by 1 minute. I'm ready for the race. I'm nervous, anxious, excited, freaked out, happy, strategising all at once. But like I've said in one of my early bog entries, if I ever had any doubt in my abilities, I wouldn't be succesfull. 50 miles? No problem I got it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


With my first 50 mile run coming up in about 3 weeks. Yikes!! I thought I would write about my training.
It is still going well. If you read my previous blog post, you would have read that I ran a marathon last weekend. As of tomorrow, Friday I will have put in a 58 mile week with a mile of swimming. This weekend on Sunday, same day as the Portland Marathon, I am running another marathon. I will be in the forest somewhere, not joining the other marathoners. It is going to be a wet one. Tons of rain, a little unusual for the Portland Marathon. And, because the kids don't have to school next week for 3 days, I am combining runs. So a marathon or so on Sunday, 8 on Monday, 14 on Tuesday, break Wednesday and Thursday, then run 10 on Friday, break Saturday. I am then tapering.
No worries, I have Sudafed this time. Last time that I tapered, I had a headache for about 4 or 5 days.
I feel good, no injuries. I am pretty tired however. I could use more sleep. Sometimes I think I should just leave my running clothes on all day. But no complaints. I have been enjoying running. This may sound a bit strange to some. But I swear that I am more obsessed with running now more than ever. I used to think, "oh, I don't really want to go out." But now I can't wait. I am already planning my next races. And, I do have a 100 mile training schedule on my computer.
My ultra starts at 6AM for me and I better be on my last lap by 4PM or they won't let me go around the loop again. So, as long as I keep up a 10-12 min pace, I will be fine.
I am having jitters about the run. You know, fear of the unknown. I know that I can run 31 miles, but the rest?
I keep thinking positive. I can do this. I'll finish that 50 mile run.
Oh and I have given up sugar. It made me feel great the last time I did so, more energized. So no sugar is allowed in my diet. I'm eating a lot of fruit now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The story of how I went from 24 miles to 26.30

Today I was scheduled to run 24 miles.
I parked at the Lower Macleay trail. I did a 2 mile out and back on the streets prior to heading up Lower Mac. I was not feeling good and was blaming my normal breakfast consisting of an english muffin with egg, bacon and cheese. I think I am so done with my normal breakfast. I thought I was going to throw it up. I felt completely sluggish heading up the trail. About 4 miles into the run, I began to feel better and continued on. I turned around at Nature trail, ate my fist 1/2 of PBJ sandwich and took a salt tab and went back. I then changed shoes, re-filled my pack, grabbed the other 1/2 sandwich and headed for downtown. I went over the Steel bridge and all the way to the Spring Water trail, then turned around.
Okay, this is how my 24 turned into 26.30. I went back over the Steel bridge and noticed a train coming. Well, yes I had to wait for the stupid thing. 2 minutes of waiting turned into 8 and the train stops. I was sitting down on a railing, then got up and this other very annoyed runner says to me "the train is completely backed up." I then thought to myself "Wait a minute, why don't I quit wasting time since I'm freezing now and just go a mile or so down this way, when I come back 20 minutes later, the train should be gone." Sure enough, when I came back the train was gone. When I got back to my car, my watch read 26.30 miles. I had no medal once again, but a happy spirit.
When I got home, I took a very cold ice bath which left me shivering for 4 minutes into it.