Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Leaves 50 10/29/2011

On Tuesday October 25th, 4 days before the Autumn Leaves Ultra marathon, there was an unfortunate accident involving two planes. "Witnesses told investigators that the twin-engine plane involved in a mid-air collision over Newberg Tuesday appeared to be doing training maneuvers and hit the single-engine plane during a descent. Steven Watson, 58, of Beaverton, was in the other, smaller plane. He died after his Bonanza single-engine aircraft broke apart and crashed to the ground, authorities said."
Steve Watson is survived by his wife and two adult daughters, for more information, please read:

In honor of his memory, I wore this on my backpack.

But because of the crash, we were nervous that the park was going to re-open in time for the race. We were hearing that it may open by Friday. But on Wednesday night, the night before I left for Portland, I heard the news that the park would re-open Thursday at 4PM. I was extremely excited and was actually jumping up and down, grinning from ear to ear.

The night of the race, I got maybe 4 hours of sleep.

This was the outfit that I wore to the race. I also wore a long sleeve shirt under and shorts
When I got to the race, I was greeted by all my friends and a few friends from Facebook that I had not met yet. For the race, I provided all of my own supplies. I had my Ultimate Direction Diablo pre-filled with 2 quarts of diluted Gatorade. Which by the way, I was taking a chance with. I only trained with the Diablo for a 10 mile training run. I knew this was a no no. You know the rule, nothing new at a race? But I thought, well it can't be any worse than my Camelbak, that thing left horrible chafing on my back constantly. In the end, it was perfect, no problems. I also had in my Diablo, salt caps, 2 peanut butter powerbars, 1 cliff bar, two 5 hour energy drinks, my head lamp, band-aids and my IPOD. The only thing that I left in my drop bag was another cliff bar and fresh pair of socks. I have heard another run say that he doesn't think the 5 hour energy drinks don't work, but I disagree, they work for me and they don't cause my stomach any problems.

My weakest part of the race was running the first loop in the dark. The course was a 10K loop and for everyone running the 50 miler, we'd go around 8 times. I joined up with a gal and ran with her for most of the first loop. It was hard though, I kept going off the pavement, even with my headlamp. The hardest part was the 1.20 mile trail section; I really slowed down and lost some time. But finally, we were back at the start for loop 2 and I could even turn off my headlamp and gained more confidence. At the end of the race, someone told me that I should buy a hand-held flash light. Great idea!

Between loops 2-5, I was really strong and doing very well. It wasn't until the 5th loop that I walked for the first time, but it was only for a minute. The 6th loop was when I saw my sister and walked from the aid station to where the trail portion started, probably for about 3 minutes and that was my longest walk break. The 7th loop was the worst, but only mental. The 7th loop wasn’t the last loop, it was the 7th. I not only was feeling it in my legs, I decided that I hate the whole course, not just a certain section. Yes I was getting grumpy. I still smiled and waved at everyone. I also just said goodbye to my friend after the 6th loop, who ran the 50K and some of the other runners were finished and enjoying their victory. It was during the 7th lap, that I past a friend of mine who yelled at me...”Jeannie, you are just fucking rocking it!" Cracked me up!!! The last loop was bitter sweep, as I was going around, I never even stopped at the start/finish and just kept going, with intensity.  I don't believe that I walked at all that last loop. I found a whole lot of strength and just went for it. I remember coming in, there was this guy, who I passed and then he passed me and I said to him, "hey, do you want to race!" He said no, but I picked up the speed a little with the Black Eyed Peas song "Shut Up" playing.
I also wanted to note that there was a hill at a turn around and in the trail section and I proudly ran up them throughout the whole entire race, never walked. I'd like to thank all the hills in the Redwood Forest. Out of the whole race, I barely walked.

I finished in 9:47. Out of the 22 women that ran the 50, I was #9 and out of both male and female, I was 41 out of 73. I was a little slower than last year, but I never did any speed training. But where I lacked in speed, I made up for in strength.

I got a lot of compliments during the race. They compliment by cute skirt, how well I looked running out on the course and the sign on my hydration pack. No, I didn't know Steve Watson, but my heart went out to his family.

I have one battle wound. My pinkie toe is really bruised and the nail will fall off soon.

All the volunteers and race director were absolutely wonderful and worked hard at providing a great race for us. Without them, we couldn't have done it. I was very thankful to them. All race volunteers should be thanked! A heard a few of them were up awfully early that morning.

So what’s next? Well I am going to rest a few more days. I have a little leg swelling + my toe problem. I start training for my first 100 on November 14th, I’m starting all the way at the bottom of my training schedule with runs of 2 miles for the week and 10 and 6 for the weekend.

Photo taken by Tom Riley

Photo taken by Tom Riley

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chase your dreams!

When I was a little girl and it was time to go home from a friend’s house and it was dark, it was extremely scary. My family lived on a cul-de-sac and I really didn't have that far to go, we lived about 3 houses apart, but that didn’t matter, I was so scared.  When I would leave her house, extremely frightened, I would sprint as fast as I could. As I was making my way around the corner and into our dark garage, I felt like something was pushing me along, into my well lit house. I could feel the energy build up inside me, I could feel my heart pounding, the adrenaline pumping and the wind push past me. I had one goal in mind, I would succeed, I was going to make it inside my house, even if I died trying!

  "If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it."
I am excited about my next 50 and I am even more excited to be moving onto 100's.

They say that in order to achieve your goals, you need to desire the goal and visualize yourself completing the goal. Commit to the goal by writing it down and create a plan to complete it. Then finally writing down the steps to achieve the goal in a calendar and check  your progress.

I am happy to announce that I have done all of that.

"If you can see it, you can achieve it!"

I am my biggest supporter. I totally believe in myself and my abilities. When I think of my next 50, I think "no problem!" I believe 100% that I can achieve any run. I tell myself this over and over. My belief of achievement is deep within me, I have no doubts. I can do anything that I set my mind to, no run is too hard.

I have a plan for success. I am utilizing two training schedules and they are in my calendar. I know what mileage and on what day I will be running all the way up to September. I will first run 65+ miles in March and my first 100 in September. My schedule for the 100K is setting myself up for the 100 mile training and I feel really good about it. In late April, I will begin a schedule that has been proven successful by a group of runners that I trust and have used many times before. It will work for me as it always does.

I really am looking forward to my adventures that are ahead of me.

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

If you'd like to track my progress,  you can do so at:

My third 50 is 10/29 and I begin to training for my 65 and 100 mile runs on November 14th. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Never give up on your dreams! There are no failures, only lessons.

We all have pivotal moments in our life. These moments can have an immediate impact or they are slow to manifest and reveal their importance.

In 2005, I was severely depressed, drinking too much, angry, confused, with no apparent hope for my future. After having a beer with my neighbor in my driveway, I went to get the mail. I received an invitation to train for a marathon. I looked at it and instantly got excited. I went to my computer and typed in marathon training and read information about the Portland Marathon clinic. As luck would have it, training got started a few weeks ago. I instantly made a decision that forever changed my life, I was going to run a marathon. That decision came easy, didn't require much thought. This was in 2005.

My first training run was 10 miles, not the 4 that I should have started out at. "Who cares?" I thought. I had run 9 miles once on my treadmill a few months prior, which was a spur of the moment decision, I could do 10. At least that was what I thought. Even back then, I had a lot of enthusiasm for running. So here I was at my first 10 miles. I showed up with pretty Nike shoes, they didn't even have laces and I purchased them on Craigslist. My water bottles were similar to the ones on the right, with a screw on/off top. The training run happened to be a trail run! A muddy, trail run up at Forest Park! Was this the making of a dumb decision or the makings of a trail runner? I'll never forget that day, it was up to that point the hardest thing that I had ever done. The mud was thick and extremely slippery and the hills! I couldn't breathe the entire distance. I sounded like I had asthma. Now I could have went home and said forget it, it's too hard. But did I? Of course not! I loved it!

I never gave up. I showed up to every training run. I ran in the front so I could hear the pace leaders advice and I attended all informational meetings, doing everything my trainers taught me. Every higher distance was so exciting to me. I would constantly come home and say to my family, "ask me how many miles I just ran!"

However, as the miles got longer, something snapped, my body no longer wanted to cooperate and I almost quit. I remember taking a walk of shame home and I told my husband that I wasn't going to run anymore. A week later, I heard a voice that said I had to run that marathon, I had to do it not only for myself, but for my kids. I got back into it and ended up running that first marathon. It became the best and most rewarding, physical event that I had ever done. I still remember how I felt after mile 20 and coming across the finish line. I will never forget it.
Marathon #1, crossing the finish line. Click on it to enlarge, look at my veins popping out of my neck.

I really had no plans to run another marathon, but I remember a conversation that I had with my inspirational brother in law who just simply asked me, "why not run another one, why not keep going?"

Yes, why not?

Since that first marathon, all the races that followed were huge blessings, I have never had a bad race. Moving on to 50K's and 50 milers, the races certainly have become harder and I've had to drop out of a few due to injury (during training, not during a race), but I've never quit for good. I still aim to improve, to move on.

T-shirt that I purchased just before my 2nd marathon
And the people that I have met over the years, my friendships, I am forever grateful. You truly get to know someone when you run with them for hours and the experiences that we share are unforgettable.
Running my first 50
When my family moved from Portland to a small coastal town in Northern California in 2011, I again was faced with depression. I left everything and everyone I knew. I had my children, my husband and I was still running, but they didn't have me. My kids lost their mom, my husband lost his wife. By the grace of God, my family never gave up on me and God pulled me through my depression. The whole time during my challenging life moment, I never gave up on running. Running became my companion. I always told my husband, "You’ll know I'm really bad off if I quit running!" That never happened.

I have no fear. Another thing that happened is that I had to get over my fear of running alone in a forest. It was a new forest with bears, cougars and elk. A forest that I would soon learn that it would be rare to see another human. This was not like the forest that I was used to up in Portland. To this day I am no longer afraid; I've learned to overcome this fear. I've learned that being fearful is a choice. I've learned that all my fears were not real. I hear a lot of noises in the forest, but know they are just the sounds of the forest, they are comforting. I have seen bears and I have elk dart in front of me, I am not afraid.

I have also learned to develop an attitude that I can do all things and if I can see it, then I can achieve it. I ran my 1st 100 October of 2012, Javelina Jundred. I ran for 29 hours and 7 minutes. It was the hardest thing that I have ever done, yet the most rewarding, what an amazing accomplishment. It was an experience that I will never forget. I am now training for my 2nd, Mountain Lakes in September. I moved on to 100 milers with pride, enthusiasm, encouragement, no fear and of course I won't quit!I always thank God for the blessings that he has given me. He comes with me on every run.

I'm setting my goals high and I intend to achieve them. My biggest goals are to run the Grand Slam of Ultra running and the Badwater 135 ultramarathon.

***As of April of 2013, we moved back to the Portland metropolitan area.

"We all have dreams, visions and secret goals we keep hidden out of fear of failure...or the belief that they are out-of-reach or impossible to achieve. Never give up on your dreams! Life is a series of challenges, not difficulties. Hard times are our best resources, and there are no failures; only lessons."
Never give up!