It’s Ragnar Los Coyotes Week!!

This post is a part of my collaboration with Ragnar Trail & FitApproach for Ragnar Los Coyotes.  All thoughts & opinions are my own.

This year, I was asked to captain the Sweat Pink Team for Ragnar Los Coyotes & I’m so excited to get to run another Ragnar Trail event & Sean will be running with me.

Our team is amazing, we’ve got a good mix of women & men, with the following runners on board. Of course there is Sean @ultrarunnersd & I @runnylegs then Jamie @jamiefitking, Kristina @ocrunningmama, Jared @jaredsblank, Debbie @coachdebbieruns, Sandra @organicrunnermom & finally Michael @thebrosh.

We’re all so excited to get out there & run!

Want to read more about our team?

Check out our runner profiles:
Jenny
Sean
Jamie
Kristina
Jared
Sandra
Debbie
Michael

A little background on my Ragnar experience, I ran my first Ragnar Trail event back in 2013 at McDowell Mountains in Arizona with my then running group.  I’d seen people run the road races. I wasn’t really interested in sleeping in a van and running in the dark on the road, but when I found out that there were trail races, it was like mind blown, this was my kind of event!

After that first race in 2013, we went on to run the inaugural Zion race in 2014 & then McDowell Mountains again that fall.  We had a great group that was a mix of slow & fast runners and we had such a blast out there!  Then I moved to San Diego and was interested in running another one, but they are a little shorter in distance from what Sean likes to do and we already race a lot so we kind of put them aside.  This opportunity kind of fell into our laps and I am super excited to get back out there and run green, yellow & red loops!

It was so long ago, I couldn’t really find many photos from my previous races, it was before my instagram days really kicked off 😉 lol.  This is a snapshot of the inaugural Ragnar Trail Zion in 2014.

So what makes Ragnar Trail so unique?

First off, it’s a loop course.  Regular teams are made up of 8 team members and everyone runs the same 3 loops.  Which is awesome, unlike the road Ragnars everyone does the same thing!

Secondly, the whole team gets to stick together at camp. We set up camp with all the other teams and everyone can hang out together.  No vans & no split teams like on a road Ragnar.

Third, It’s Trail!!  Trail races are the best & doing these different loops gives everyone a chance to try the different parts of the course.

Forth, the camp energy! It’s great, there is an exchange tent where you meet your runner to head out & seeing all the runners there, waiting for their team mates, it’s just a really awesome, positive energy.

So how have I been training for Ragnar? Well if you follow me, you’ll know that I am an unconventional runner, I run a lot of races & that’s pretty much how I train. In the five weeks, I have run a 50k, marathon, Runner’s World Grand Slam (4 races adding up to 26.2 miles), a 100k & a 5k this weekend. The Runner’s World event was probably the best training. Running so many races back to back was a challenge, but it has me ready to run multiple loops over a short period of time.

I’ve also been staying up quite late lately with red-eye flights, early morning wake-ups to volunteer & 2 trips to the east coast.

Now to get packed & get out there!

Need packing tips, check out these blog posts & get packing! 1, 2, 3 & 4

Anyone else have an unconventional way of training for Ragnar races?

I’ll be sharing our day out at the race on my Instagram stories on Friday/Saturday so get ready!

Tushars Marathon Race Recap

Last year at AC100 one of our running friends walked into packet pick-up and told us about this amazing race that he did the weekend before.  Now this isn’t someone who runs a race every once in a while, this is someone who runs just as many or more races than us.  He told us that we needed to run Tushars, that it was hands down the most beautiful course he’d ever run.

So flash forward to June or so and we were looking for some additional summer races and we realized that Tushars would fit into our schedule so we registered, me for the marathon & Sean for the 100k.  I was a bit nervous since I’ve never run at that high of altitude before but I was excited to see the beauty that was Tushars.

We flew into Las Vegas & then drove the 3.5/4 hours to Beaver, UT the next day. We stopped in St. George for some lunch and supplies before driving the rest of the way to Beaver.  Once we got there we had to call the resort before driving up the mountain (no cell signal) to let them know we were on our way so someone would be there to check us in.

We started our drive up the mountain and were greeted by the most beautiful views & cows sitting by the road.

We got to the resort, checked in, changed & then headed over to the packet pick-up.  We dropped Sean’s drop bag off, got our bibs and then headed out to get Sean’s streak run in.

Afterwards we took a few photos and then headed inside for dinner.  They had a pasta dinner for the runners, it was pretty inexpensive at $7 per person.

We went back to our condo, got our gear ready like normal and then I went to bed early.  Sean’s 100k started at 5am, my race started at 7am.

We got up around 3:45am, got ready & then headed up to the start.  It was pretty low key, I saw Sean & the other 100k runners off and then headed back to the car to take a nap.  I got a little sleep until about 6:15a when I got up to eat a half of my Lenny & Larry’s apple pie cookie and go to the rest room.

And then it was time to get started. The start was pretty low key.  Noah, the race director told us about the markings & to make sure that we read the signs at critical intersections to make sure we took the correct trails.  Miss a sign & we could be out there a lot longer than we expected.

The night before there had been a lot of rain so they had put some carpets out in really muddy section at the start of the course, which was nice so we didn’t start the race with super muddy feet.  As we ran down the ski slope it was a bit muddy but not too bad.

I had decided to wear my Altra Running Timps for this race.  I had a brand new pair that I had sitting on my shoe rack for months and thought it might be a good time to try them out.  I normally wear the superiors which would have been fine for this course, but I did like the extra cushion of the Timp, even though the grip isn’t quite as good.

I quickly started hiking pretty early on.  I was happy to be out there but I didn’t have any illusions that this was going to be easy.  Surprisingly my breathing wasn’t too bad, considering my sea-level training.  I didn’t hear my heart beat in my ears very often but interestingly, the pain I’ve been having in my abdomen near my left ribs (the diaphragm) was an issue the majority of the race.

I just took my time hiking up, enjoying the view.  There was a lot of climbing and being over 10,000 feet definitely made it slow going.   The rib pain was really annoying and honestly I felt like quitting at almost every aid station.  I got to mile 7/8 and the first aid station.  There was one girl there and no cars, it appeared to be out in the middle of nowhere so I got some ginger ale, refilled my pack and kept going.  I couldn’t quit with no way to get out of there lol.

From there, we headed up, climbing a really rocky section, and then from there it would be up to the peak. I had a guy pass me who had started late.  He was hiking really well while I was taking short breaks every 100 feet or so to catch my breath.

I made it to the top of this section & then we actually went down again before heading up a beautiful yet seemingly never ending path to the peak.  Up & up we went.  I had taken my long sleeve off at one point but then as we were climbing up, I needed to put it back on and added my buff to be around by ears.  It was getting windy and pretty cold as we made our way up.

Once we got to the open area, it was windy, but not super cold because of the sun.  I was passed by an older guy, he had to have been in his 70s, who powered up that hill like it was nothing!  I, on the other hand, was trying hard to make it from ribbon to ribbon without stopping.  Being close to 12,000ft was not easy for me.  Finally I made it to the top!

Jubs was up there taking photos.  It was soooo windy & freezing.  I don’t know how she was able up there for hours!  They had a hole punch that you were supposed to punch your bib to show you had made it to the peak.  I went to get my phone out of my pack to take a photo or 2.  It was so windy that my phone almost blew out of my hand.  But I was able to get a few photos before I headed down the mountain.

As I was heading down, in some crazy wind, with so many rocks everywhere, I could see a storm coming to the left of me.  I was hearing thunder and then when I was almost to the bottom it started raining.  So I got my rain jacket out, but it on & then got to a critical intersection.  Marathoners headed to the right and crazy enough, less than a 1/2 a mile on that path & it was bright, sunny & warm! So I took off the jacket & stowed it back in my pack.

I kept moving, we were on a fire road at this point and as I was going down from the peak, I did see the aid station from afar.  We had to go down & then go back up in order to get to it.  On this section, I was pretty much done.  My chest (or diaphragm for that matter) was really sore and I was having trouble catching my breath.  And we just kept climbing.  A few cars passed me in this section along with a few 4 wheelers.  It seemed like it took hours but I finally made it up to the aid station.  There was one guy behind me.

I got to the mud lake aid station and I was seriously ready to quit.  The two very nice volunteers were like you have plenty of time, I was still about an hour or so ahead of the cut-off, but if you really want to quit, Matt Gunn is going to be back in a few minutes with some other drops.  By this point, the guy who was behind me was in the aid station.

We chatted for a few minutes and he said he’d stay with me if I wanted to keep going.  After a short deliberation I decided to keep moving, mostly because they said that this next section mostly downhill for 5ish miles before a climb to the next aid station, which was 6.7 miles away.

So we ran slowly past Mud Lake which really did just look like a huge mud puddle and down the mountain.  I kept looking back to see where the guy John was and he was following me from a little bit of a distance.  I was mostly power hiking at what felt like a decent pace, I guess that ginger ale and a few pretzels at the aid station really helped.

We kept motoring along down the mountain, once we got to the bottom, we were treated to a beautiful view of a small river.  We had to walk across 2 logs to get across and then we started heading up again.  I would take a quick break here and there but I was ready to be done!

We made it up to a camp ground and another fire road.  We started on a gradual uphill climb that would get steeper the further up we went.  I was moving pretty good in this section hiking strong.  I kept looking back and John kept getting further & further back.  I thought I should wait, but then I looked back and he was sitting/laying down on the side of the trail & I knew I just had to keep powering along so I could finish.

In this section there were a lot of 4 wheelers, I saw an older guy with an oxygen tank drive past me.  Another older guy passed with his grandson behind him and said he’d be back & would give me a ride, um, no thank you lol.  I passed a couple taking photos of the race signage who told me I was almost to the top.

I finally made it to the aid station, refilled my hydration adding in some carbo-pro.  I saw the 2 volunteers from Mud Lake & they were like we just got here so you made decent time!  There were just 4 miles to go!  Jamil told me that they were rolling, but it didn’t really matter because I was mostly hiking at that point so off I went.

It looked a little like it might rain again and the downhill towards the beginning of this section was pretty technical so I hiked down.  There was a small creek crossing and then it was a nice single track.  I saw the 2 ladies who I had been following from a distance up to the peak.  I really thought I was going to be the DFL female and didn’t think I would run into them again.

Eventually I caught up and passed them.  Not long after I passed them, I was having some trouble finding the next marker & I thought they might pass me again.  I finally found the marker and a bunch of cows.  This is kind of funny.  One of the cows was staring right at me as I was making my way around the trail, as I got closer to where he was, he started peeing.

I kept moving up & then down.  I eventually made my way back to the beginning section of the race that I remembered and headed down towards the finish.

As I was about a mile from the finish, I was actually running down the trail, I ran into the older runner who had passed me on the climb to the peak.  Yet another person I never thought I’d see again.  He wasn’t sure he was on the right trail so I think he was waiting to see someone else?  In any case I told him I remembered this section, he was standing by an abandoned house that we passed at the beginning and then we had to go under a fence.

I felt a little bad because I was feeling relatively good, tired of course, but just wanted to be done, and I passed him in the last mile of the race.  I thought he would catch me on the uphill climb up to the finish when I stopped a few times but he never did.  I ended up finishing 9 seconds ahead of him.

I finally could see the finish line! I ran through the muddy section and of course in the last 25 feet of the race got mud all over my clean shoes, lol.  But I was finished!  I had done it, the highest race I’ve ever done, 7,000 feet of climb in 26 miles, up to 12,100 ft!

After I finished, it started to rain, phew, I missed the rain!  I sat at the aid station for a while drinking ginger ale and got a vegan quesadilla and some oreos, which are accidentally vegan ;).

Eventually I drove myself back to the condo, took a bath with my Savasana epsom salts and took a short nap.  I didn’t know what time Sean was going to finish but I wanted to be at the aid station so he wasn’t looking for me.  There wasn’t any tracking since we were so far out there so I didn’t want to be late.

I got over there around 10pm.  Checked on things and realized that there weren’t too many finishers yet, so I went to take a short nap in the car.  I slept for maybe an hour & a half and then headed back to the finish line.

I hung out with a few other spectators, most of whom were waiting for 70k runners.  I chatted with a guy whose dad was also running the 100k, rang the cow bells when we would see head lamps coming in.  It was getting later & later, finally I asked Noah if he knew when Sean had gotten to the last aid station and it was around 12:45am so I knew I had a bit longer to wait.  It ended up being even longer because Sean got a little lost a mile or so from the aid station.

Around 2:30a, I think, he made it in!  I was so happy to see him & he was so happy to be done.  He sat for a little bit while cheering the others on & then I told him we needed to get moving since we had to be out of the condo by 10:30am.  We went back, he took a quick bath/shower while I packed up a little bit to get a jump on things.  We finally got to bed around 3:30 or so & I didn’t sleep much at all, the room we picked to sleep in didn’t have the best shades and as soon as the sun was up, it was shining in my face.

Sean was able to sleep decently and I started quietly packing up his stuff and finishing my own packing.  I ended up driving us back to Vegas with a stop at Zion National Park.  We wanted to explore a little more in the mountains but in order to get to where Sean wanted to go, it was going to require a bit more hiking than he wanted to do so we headed out.

Tushars was a bit smaller of a race this year than it has been in the past.  Aravaipa Running took it over but they didn’t have an official date until later in the season so I think that hurt them as far as numbers.  The volunteers, mostly Aravaipa employees this year, were amazing.  The course was breathtakingly beautiful and challenging.

I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a beautiful, challenging, well organized race.

PS. Photos aren’t necessarily in order of the race.   I couldn’t remember exactly where each photo belong so I just added them in how I saw fit. 😉

2018 Tahoe Rim Trail 55k

We love Tahoe & go at least twice a year.  TRT has become a part an annual tradition.  I ran the 50 miler there in 2016, my first mountain 50 miler & the 55k last year.  Sean has run the 100 miler 4x so it’s a pretty special race for us.

This year, I didn’t get in immediately, I was like 31 on the waitlist so I had to wait until maybe June to find out if I got in.  I knew that I would run if I got in.

We got our new treadmill at the end of June so I was trying to get in a few climbing sessions here and there.

This year instead of flying into Reno, which is closer to Carson City & the side of the lake where the race is, we found really inexpensive flights into Sacramento so we ended up driving about 3 hours on Friday morning/afternoon.

We got to stop by one of my favorite places, Basik Acai, which has a location in Reno, on our way to our hotel so that was a plus :).  Unfortunately I forgot to book a room earlier in the year so we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn, which is nice, but note to anyone who stays there, they do not like early check-ins and are pretty rude when you try to check in before their official time.

In any case, we had to sit out in the car so Sean could get his drop bags set up until we were able to check-in.  We got that all sorted & raced over to the packet pick-up/100 mile race briefing. How cool are these bibs? This was the first year for these and they are so pretty.

It was starting to get pretty windy when we got there.  We saw Kat & Kristina and a bunch of other friends before the meeting.

During the meeting it got so windy that a few of the trees starting cracking and branches were falling on people.  They ended up finishing the meeting early because it was getting pretty bad out.

After the meeting we had to get in a quick shake-out run so we headed over to the spot where we normally run and did a quick & windy run.

We headed to a pizzeria in town for dinner, they had a yummy vegan pizza.

We got our gear ready & then headed to bed very early, around 8/8:30 because we had a 2:30am alarm.

Since we were in Carson City, we had to drive over to the start area.  They wanted everyone to take a bus over to the start from Carson City, but since I was also going to be crewing Sean, we decided that we would pay for parking and then I would be able to come back after my race to find Sean.  That meant getting there really early so that we could get a spot.

The start is pretty crazy, since they were busing everyone there, it was crowded a lot earlier than normal.

The 100 miler started at 5am so I saw Sean off and then headed back up to the car to take a quick nap before my start. I ran into Kristina & the gang on the way back up.

I also ran into an Instagram friend Janice before the start and said Hi.  I put my drop bag at the finish line, it was cool, but not as cool as last year so I decided not to run with my arm sleeves.

The 50 miler & 55k start at the same time so it can be a pretty crowded start.  I was maybe half-way pack in the pack.  I as usual just run my own race.  I was just taking it easy at the beginning, following a random pack, but the guy in the lead ended up being pretty slow on the downhills so I passed him and just kept moving.

I got to the first aid station, Hobart, which is about 7ish miles in.  I was feeling good so I got a little more water & a few orange slices before taking off.   I hiked out of the aid station & got a photo in front of Morraine Lake before continuing on.

This section we could really smell the smoke from the Yosemite fires.  I was moving pretty decently on the downhill, but realized that my eyes were getting a little black around the edges, it was really odd.  When I got to the Tunnel Creek aid station, mile 12ish, I got checked out by medical & was told I was fine.

So I got a little food & some ginger ale before heading down on the Red House loop.  I felt better so maybe I was just calorie deficient or something.

I got back up to Tunnel Creek, mile 19ish, got ice in my bladder pack, in my hat & buff and took off back over to Hobart.  I was feeling pretty good, just hiking back up the trail.

I made it back to Hobart, had a horrible time getting my bladder pack open.  I really dislike the hydro pak bladders, they are sooo hard to get open & closed.  It took 2 other guys & myself to get it open, ridiculous!

I got a few sips of ginger ale, some more orange slices and more ice for my hat and took off to get to Snow Valley.  It’s only about 3 miles up to the aid station and then 7 miles to the finish!

I passed a bunch of people in this section and was passed by at least one 100 miler.  I made it to the aid station without much trouble, I was hiking really well.  This aid station is really nice, the boy scouts put this station on & they are super nice, greeting you by name, taking your pack, etc., etc.

I got a little more fuel, ice & then took off.  I wanted to finish as quickly as possible so I just started moving.  I passed 2 guys in the first mile or so.  I remember looking at my watch and realizing that if I could keep moving, I could get really close to 9 hours. So I really pushed it going down the mountain.  Running as fast as I could on the downhills and hiking fast on the uphills.

I passed a few more people on my way down.  I was trying to remember where the last water only aid station was.  It was inside 2 miles to the finish.  And it was getting hot by this point & I was running pretty fast (for me at the end of a 55k).  The last 2 miles were so tough, I could see the finish line but it seemed like it was getting further and further away.

But then finally I was at the split for the finish & the 100 mile (50 mile aid station). I was so close, I managed to finish in 9:09, which was an hour and 1 minute faster than last year.

I was super happy & felt pretty good after the race.  They give us a free meal from a taco food truck so I got just beans, veggies & rice.  I chatted with a 65 year old guy who came in about 25 minutes before me.  He was from Bishop & had a lot of fun stories to tell me.

Then I went up to meet up with Kristina while she was waiting on Kat & some other friends from San Diego.  Christy from Running Skirts was running too.  We just chatted for a bit & then I started to get worried about Sean.  I couldn’t find his pacer and he was taking a lot longer than I was expecting.

Christy came in, then Matt, then Kat, who said Sean was like 1/4 of a mile away and that he wasn’t feel well.  It took him a really long time to get into the aid station at least another 20ish minutes, which was making me really nervous.

He finally got there and was really bloated and having a lot of stomach pains, so we got him some ginger ale & some vegan broth to see if he would feel better.  Nothing was really helping him so eventually he decided to drop.

So now, we had to figure out where to stay.  I don’t normally get a room for Saturday night since I sleep in the car waiting for him to come in at Diamond Peak.

There was a huge concert or something in town, which sold out every hotel in the area of Tahoe, Carson City, Reno, Truckee, etc.  We had to drive to Placerville in order to find a room.  It was a crazy drive too on the 50.  I don’t like driving in the dark and this was so much downhill with people driving crazy, scary and frustrating.  The view of the lake at sunset though, was amazing.

We came back the next day to get Sean’s drop bags & did a nice hike/run up Tunnel Creek. On our way up, we ran into Magda which was super exciting.  We got a quick photo before she ran off.

Again, this is a race that I always recommend, if you have the opportunity to run this race, it’s well put on, great aid stations, great swag (Patagonia shirts) and it’s in Tahoe, which is absolutely beautiful.

Black Mountain 25k Race Recap

Happy Sunday friends! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here but I attended Blogfest this past week and I’m feeling extra motivated to share. 🙂

After a busy few days at Blogfest, with multiple workouts a day & amazing speakers, Sean & I hit up one of our fav San Diego vegetarian/vegan restaurants, Plumeria, for a pre-race dinner.  I’ve tried a lot of the food at Plumeria, but the Tangerine Chicken is our favorite.

We got home, I threw together an outfit for the race, I was so exhausted that I didn’t even bother with a real flat Jenny, just a pile of clothes, lol.

Black Mountain was a new race for both Sean & I, neither of us have been out there so we had no idea what to expect. The 50k started at 6:30am & the 25k at 7am so we left our house around 5:20 to get there by 5:50 or so.  It was a pretty casual race, we picked up our bibs & race shirts, which for the women is a nice tank, hit up the porta potties and then just chatted with all our friends.

There are a lot of Rabbits in the SD area and we got a pre-race photo.  I’m the odd one out, for some reason choosing to wear a different shirt, which once I saw the photo, I was like what was I thinking lol.

The 50k start was super uneventful, the race director was like 1, 2, 3 Go and they were off.  I wasn’t ready and only managed to get a few snap shots of Sean taking off & he was chewing gum at the time so it’s not the most flattering of photos lol.

After they started I ran into Sarah, the race director for Ramblas Run & chatted with her for a few minutes, then chatted with one of my fellow Dirtbag Runner ambassadors, Pamela & some others at the race.

We listened to the RD tell us a few things about the race, i.e. what color ribbons to follow, thank the volunteers, pick up your feet etc., etc.  and then we were off!

After Nanny Goat at the end of May, then all the travel, work & being sick in June, I really have been slacking on my running so I didn’t know what to expect from my body so I started out relatively slow.

The race starts in the park with about a 1/2 mile on the sidewalk before getting to the trail head.  Once at the trailhead it’s a bit of a climb, which I choose to hike up.  I knew there was about 2,500 feet of climbing during the race, but I didn’t know when or where it would be, except in the last section, so I wanted to make sure I had something left for the big climb.  Who am I kidding, I always hike the big climbs lol.

After the first mile or so I settled into a comfortable pace & started chatting with a guy named Owen who had just moved to SD from Italy with the Navy.  We chatted about running & training and just how nice it was to be out here on the trails.  I was having an exceptionally amazing attitude morning, I was truly so happy to be out on the trails & I pretty much smiled the entire race.

After a while we had another guy join us, we all chatted for a bit more & then I lost them for a bit when we started climbing a little more & I slowed down. This race had a lot of little out and back loops, I went through the first aid station without stopping, did my first little loop, came back through the aid station & met back up with Owen.  We headed out on the next section.  I lost him again but another lady passed me on the uphill & we ran together for about a mile or so.  It was her first trail race.

After I lost her, I was by myself for a bit heading into the next aid station.  We went down a really steep & rocky section before heading onto a beautiful single track section heading into the next aid station, I think around mile 9.  From there we had another little loop to do, about 2 miles before heading back the way we came.

There were a lot of really beautiful purple flowers in this section so of course I had to grab a photo ;).

When we got to the top of this section, I think I heard people call it the Glyder Port parking lot or something like that, we headed down a fire road & then out on to the actual road for a short bit.  Then we started climbing.  And it’s about here that I started to feel that the lack of CarboPro was starting to take it’s toll because I essentially had 2 scoops of Gnarly Hydrate (approx. 60 calories), 3 orange slices & a half a bag of Skratch Labs gummies in 12ish miles.  Not really my best fueling, lol.

Needless to say, the lack of calories was really starting to catch up to me.  I was fine for most of the hike up to the peak until the last .6 mile section.  It was getting hot & steeper, but I kept it going by saying good job to all those coming down.  I finally got to the top!  They had Otter Pops & ice so I got my pack refilled, had 2 otter pops & then started my descent to the finish.

I was feeling amazing on that section!  Those otter pops really gave me some extra energy & I had a pack full of ice cold water.  I was drinking a ton, so much so that I ran out of water with about 3/4 of a mile to go, oops! I was using a different bladder in my pack, the camelbak bladder because I’ve had a lot of trouble with the hydrapak  bladders & I had a 1.5 lt bladder in my OrangeMud gear vest, it doesn’t fit perfectly & I don’t think the volunteers realized that it wasn’t fully filled.  I’ll have to look at that more closely the next time I use it.

In any case, I was cruising in this section, feeling amazing, I passed a bunch of people and made my way down to the park, which was a tinsy bit farther away than I was expecting.  I think I hit 16 miles just as I got to the park. But trail races are always a little long or short depending on the race so it is what it is :).

The photographer told me which way to go because there wasn’t a marker there and I just kept the momentum up the best I could.  I was starting to feel a little sick from the lack of calories as I made my way to the finish, but I was able to maintain a sub 9 minute pace for that last 1/2 mile which felt really good.

Arms up & out in my signature Jenny pose at the finish & I was done!  I got my medal, an Elevation Culture original & a cute little rubber cup from the race director and then immediately headed over to grab a coke.  I needed sugar!

I was drenched for the majority of the race, I’m not sure if it was the humidity or if I was just sweating like crazy, but both my shirt & then eventually my shorts were completely soaked by the end of the race.  Which was nice for keeping me cool, but I don’t really like the feeling of sweat dripping down my legs, lol. After getting my coke & a finish line photo, I immediately went to get changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side note: As an avid racer, the #1 tip, I can give if you are a heavy sweater like I am, is to always bring a change of clothes to either have in your car or in your finish line bag.  I hate walking around in wet clothes after the race & sometimes it can get really cold. I always bring an extra pair of shorts, top & a new sports bra (because that’s the worst part, when is someone going to design a quick drying sports bra???) and put them in my finish line bag or in the car & I put them on as soon as I can.

The race had pizza for the finishers, I’m not sure if it was vegan so I passed, had some grapes & a handful of almonds & granola while I waited for Sean to finish.  I chatted with some other runners and just enjoyed a little time in the sun.

When Sean finished he explained that the markers got vandalized and that a huge group of about 20 runners got off course for about 3ish miles.  It wasn’t like a marker fell off and was put back accidentally, the people who vandalized the course did it maliciously by putting more markers about a half a mile down the wrong way, which resulted in a big group going the wrong way.  So not cool people.  Is it really that big of a hindrance to have runners in your neighborhood for one morning?

Overall though, the 25k didn’t have any issues with course markings, I had a great time & we got lots of CarboPro after the race so I shouldn’t have any issues in my next race :).

March Run All The Races: Ramblas Run Half Marathon

Sorry for the delay on getting this up, I actually wrote this blog weeks ago & just never got around to adding the photos & actually posting, #blogfail.

We finished up March with a double race weekend!  First up was the Ramblas Run Half Marathon.  We ran this race last year and came back for the 2nd year.

This is a fun, but very challenging race in the hills of San Juan Capistrano.  They offer a few distances, 5k, 10k & half marathon (it is a touch short, but like all trail races it’s either long or short depending on your watch ;)).  The half marathon was $75 and included a bunch of swag.

We got nice light zippered long sleeve hoodies for the ladies, a medal & a logo’d glass.

The best part about this race is that it starts a little later, 8:45am, because it’s in a neighborhood.  You aren’t even supposed to arrive until 8:10am so we didn’t have to leave San Diego until around 7am, which after the 2:30am wake-up for LA Marathon was amazing!

I got up, made some oatmeal in the instant pot, got ready and we were out the door by about 7:15a.  There was no traffic on the way up so even with a last minute potty break we got to the start by 8:25ish.

We got our shirts & bibs.  The bibs kind of matched the medals, they were a 3 color bib, which was cool even if it didn’t say the name of the event :).

I didn’t want to run back to the car to put the shirts inside so I just put them on the back of my pack.  They were pretty light so it wasn’t a big deal.

We got in the line for the porta potties, which went pretty quick.  We chatted with some friends while waiting which probably helped.  My only complaint was that the spot where the bathrooms were was on downhill so went I got in, I really felt like it was going to flip backwards.  It was a really uneasy feeling.

We ran into Tam while waiting in line.

It only took about 2 more minutes and then we were ready to start.  I know that the beginning of this race is pretty hilly & my legs were still pretty tired from all the races + 80 Day Obsession so I just took it easy.

The first mile or so went by really quick.  I saw Kristina & Kat at the first aid station, I quickly gave them hugs before continuing on.  We were almost to the single track which is a lot of fun!  I was following this guy who was crushing it on the uphills!  I was having to work really hard to keep up with him and by the time we got back to the aid station (it’s a little loop) I was breathing way too hard.

I took a quick stop to get an orange slice and then kept moving.  Michelle asked me how I was doing and I responded I can’t get my heart rate down.  Between the hills & the light humidity, I needed a little more time to get my breathing under control.

Kat got this photo of me coming into the 2nd aid 🙂

I hiked up the next hill and finally got my breathing under control and was able to run again.  I came down a hill and saw Sean speeding down heading into the next section of the course.

As I was going around up to the flag pole, I was trying to get some water out of my gear vest.  I had filled it that morning & could feel the liquid inside.  I was getting a little concerned because it was brand new & I wasn’t able to get any liquid out.  I didn’t want to stop so I kept moving until I got to the top by the flag pole.  Then I took my pack off, and found that it was user error.  I thought I had pushed the hose all the way into the bladder but it wasn’t all the way in.  Finally I was able to get water out!

I took the next mile or so with a few other runners and then we started to climb so I just took this time to hike and run when I could.  I felt a bit stronger than last year, but this section felt a lot longer than I remembered.

Finally we were heading down the hill to the turn around aid station.  I saw Inna & her kids down there, got a few orange slices & a touch more water and then headed up.  I hiked the whole way up.  I could see my friend Helen ahead of me as I was heading up.  I just kept her in my sights and did my thing.

I could definitely feel all the race miles & glute work as we were climbing, more & more. But I felt like I was able to run more of this section than I did last year.

Finally we were coming up on the final aid station.  I grabbed an orange slice & just power hiked the last hill, ran, hiked, and finally we were coming into the finish.  I was right behind Helen now and as I was coming up to her I was like come on, let’s finish this! So for the second year in a row, we finished the race together, this year about 3 minutes faster than last year ;).

After the race, we grabbed little acai bowl samples, water, our medals, chatted with Sarah, the race director & Kristina.  We got a few photos and then it was time to drive home.  Which is the worst part of the whole day, it took us just over an hour to get there but almost 3 to get home :(.

But traffic aside, this is one of my favorite SoCal half marathons.  It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s relatively short, we see loads of friends and Sarah does an amazing job.

I would definitely recommend this race & I look forward to going back again in 2019.  Maybe Helen & I will make our photo finish a tradition ;).

My Road to SD100: Stop 1 – Sean O’Brien 50k

The first half of this year is all about getting to the finish line of SD 100.  And with 2 races a month, I’m using races to train & get more comfortable being on my feet for a long time.

First up in my journey is Sean O’Brien 50k, which was my 5th 50k.  I went to Sean O’Brien with my Sean last year and ran/hiked the first 5ish miles of the course so I had a very small knowledge of the course, which is not easy.  The nice thing about SOB is that like with Keira Henninger’s other races with multiple distances, there is a long cut-off for the shorter distances which I like.  I hope not to take the full time, but I know I don’t have to worry about cut-offs, which I really like :).

Anyways, Sean & I drove up to Calabasas on Friday afternoon/evening.  We made it to packet pick-up in time to get our bibs and to try out some of Altra‘s new shoes.  I was super excited to get to try on the new King MT & the new Superior 3.0, both of which I can’t wait to add to my collection.  (I wish I had asked Ben, the SoCal rep, if I could have worn a pair of the King MT’s for the race, but more about that later).

We headed over to our hotel, got dinner at a very clubby Italian place that I felt a little under dressed at in my super comfortable Orange Mud sweatshirt. Side note: If you love super soft, comfy sweat shirts, this is the best one ever, I literally wear mine every day.

We got back to the hotel and got our flat runners set up before heading to bed.  With a 3:15am wake-up call I hit the sack as soon as I could.

That alarm sure came fast, I think I snoozed once maybe twice 😉 before getting up and starting to get ready.

It didn’t take us long and we were out the door and on our way to the start line.  The 100k started at 5am so we were trying to get there by 4:15/4:30 so we could get a decent parking spot.

We got Sean’s drop bags over to the start area & he headed out to start the 100k.  As I was listening to Keira’s announcement, she was talking about how lucky we were to even have the race because of all the rain we’ve had in SoCal lately.  She lobbied with the Parks department, reworked the course and we were all able to run!

The 100ker’s took off and I headed back to the car because my race didn’t start until 7am.  I decided to get a little more sleep before getting up around 6:20ish to get ready, check in and hit up the port-a-potties.  I met up with Emily, a (very speedy) fellow ProCompression Ambassador and a few of my fellow Orange Mud ambassadors.  We got a quick photo and then Keira was asking us to head to the start line.

Once we were at the start line, she let us know that the race was going to be muddy (I was like great, I left my poles in the car, oops) and that the 50k & marathon were the only races that didn’t have a course change.

Pretty soon after that we were off, I kept a steady pace for the first 2ish miles to the creek crossing.  I felt decent during this section.  The creek crossing was a lot higher this year than last year – it was knee high and the creek was rushing.  They had a nice strong rope to keep us safe on the crossing.  The mud we encountered just after the crossing was actually a bit more stressful.

And then up the hill we went and as we went up, we got over the fog and it was so amazingly beautiful.  I chatted with some other runners as we climbed and climbed.

As we made our way up to the first aid station, we were going up over these boulders, which were awesome and so different from the rest of the course.

It was in this section that I saw Howie Stern who got this photo of me.

I got to the aid station, had a few snacks and then crossed the street, a volunteer was advising us to be careful because it was slippery.  This initial section was pretty slippery because there was a lot of flat rocks.  But as we kept moving it cleared up.  I was following a marathon runner who picked up a friend at the aid station, don’t think that’s really supposed to happen, but I guess anyone can come out and run on the trails.

I finally passed them and kept moving.  And then I came across a crevasse taking up 2/3s of the trail, it was nuts.  I slowly made my way around it and kept moving.  This was maybe 8-9 miles into the race.

It wasn’t too far after the crevasse that we got to the mud.  It was pretty slippery but I figured out a way to run/hike through it and I wore my Superiors which really helped as opposed to my Olympus.  This is when I wished I had the King MTs to see how well they really worked in the mud ;).

This section felt like it took a long time for a variety of reasons, one, it was muddy, two, I was in a pack and at the start of the mud, I was behind a girl who didn’t have the right shoes on and she was slip sliding around like crazy and three we were stopping a lot and attempting to move to the side for the lead runners coming through.

After the mud, we had a very steep downhill into the mile 13 aid station.  I had to go to the bathroom so I lost a lot of time in this mile because there I had to wait for someone to get out.  Unfortunately sometimes you just have to wait, and in this case I made the right decision :).

It was about 2ish miles to the next aid station.  There was a nice down hill and then some climbing.  As I got closer to the aid station, people started saying BACON!  And you’re almost there, this one is good, they have bacon.  Ultra runners love bacon! Although who doesn’t love bacon.

I made it to the aid station, practically sliding into the table, refilled my pack and then turned around.  I saw a few friends and enjoyed running the downhill in this section.

I made it back to the halfway aid station, grabbed a few potatoes and I was out.  Now, I should have had some new shirts in my drop bag because I was soaked.  Note to self, put a dry shirt in your drop bag.

I headed up the hill and ran into my friend Tam, who was coming down to the aid station.  We got a quick pic and then kept moving.

I was anticipating a tough road with the mud.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the mud had dried a little bit so it wasn’t as slippery, but instead it was super sticky.  My heels were popping out of my shoes, I was a little worried at one point that I was going to walk out of my shoe, lol.

The first part of the next section went really well.  2 guys passed me and I followed them for a bit, down and through the small creeks – there were probably 11 water crossings during the race.  They ranged from the rushing knee deep creek to small puddles that you could hop over.  It was nice having these guys to follow for a bit.  I couldn’t really keep up on the steep uphill to one of the aid stations, but I caught back up and passed them on the downhill in the last section.

I finally got to the last aid station, a volunteer helped me refill my pack with CarboPro and water.  As I was getting a snack, I saw Sean run into the aid station!  How awesome was that.  He was at mile 40 and I was at 26.  We spent a few minutes chatting about how he fell and hurt his knee around mile 1.5 and then we went our separate ways.

It’s interesting how quickly you forget the course because the first part of the last section was a lot hillier than I remembered.  I ran walked and eventually our friend Josh Holmes, of RunItFast, who was running the 50 miler caught up with me.  We chatted for a few minutes before he took off.

There was a girl in front of me with arm sleeves that I was following down the hill.  This section was really hard on my feet, but I kept her in my sights and eventually a little before we headed on to the single track, I passed her.  We saw another girl too who was a little confused as to which way to go and kept moving.

This section was fun, a lot easier on the feet, although still somewhat technical.  It was made better by the fact that we were getting closer to the creek crossing and I knew then we would only have 2ish miles left.

I finally made it to the creek.  I started across and about halfway through I stepped off a rock (I wasn’t looking for rocks to step on – just holding on and walking across) and I could feel a sharp twinge in my back.  Fortunately it passed pretty quickly.  I got out of the water and kept moving.

As I moved on in this last section, my calves started to cramp.  I think that the combination of the cold water and a little dehydration was the case.

I trudged on again forgetting that once we get back to the single track had some more uphill.  The guy following me was saying the same thing, how did we forgot this?

Eventually we got to the downhill into the campground and I knew we were so close.  My calves were still cramping but I kept running to the finish.

Right before the finish, I saw Josh again, he got a few photos of me before I made the turn into the finish.


And then I was done!

Even with the weather, I had a great time out there.  I feel like I did decently with my fueling, although I did have a stretch of uphill where I was getting tired, I could have probably had a bit more electrolyte, but overall I feel like I did pretty well.

I don’t necessarily feel like the time on the clock represents my fitness as I felt pretty decent out there.  I think I could definitely do better with a little more training & no mud!

Thank you to all the volunteers for spending their day with us & to Keira for all her hard work in getting us all to the start line!

Next up, Black Canyon 100k!

 

Dream Big: Cuyamaca 100k Race Recap

Last weekend, I headed to the start line of the biggest or maybe I should say longest race of my running career.

This recap is pretty long too, so reader beware 😉 lol.

Back in March after a successful race at Old West 50k, I was feeling a lot better about running ultras.  I worked a lot on hydrating properly before the race and getting my race day nutrition in check and when the lottery opened for Cuyamaca 100k on April 1 I registered immediately.  A few days later I got an email telling me I was in!

Now, April is quite a ways from October so there was a lot of time to second guess my decision to register for this race.  And let me tell you, I’m pretty sure I second guessed myself pretty much from day 1 lol.

Fast forwarding through a PR at Leona Divide 50k in late April, my first 50 miler at Nanny Goat in late May, a really good showing at the Vancouver USA marathon in June and then my first mountain 50 miler at TRT in July.

Then things kind of got off track.  I started to get horrible sharp incredibly painful spasms in my back, literally to the point that I could barely get out of bed.  Surprisingly I was able to run without, but I was a bit scared to because the spasms would come on at any moment.  Eventually I went to see a chiropractor and found out one leg was 2 inches longer than the other and that my pelvis was locked & tilted.  But that I could still run.

So after a whole lot of travel, to UTMB, to Cleveland for work and then finally to Tahoe to crew/pace Sean at Tahoe 200, I got in a decent amount of miles, but mostly hiking and I wasn’t feeling really confident.  Which is why at the absolute last minute, we drove up to Big Bear to do the back 50k at Kodiak.  As I mentioned in my recap, this race was so hard, it did nothing to help my confidence, at least while I was out there.  Afterwards, once I was told that the winners didn’t come in until around 7 hours, I felt a lot better about it.  It was a beast of a course and if I could do that, I could do Cuyamaca.

Cuyamaca 100k, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Running4thosewhocant, lululemon

We are finally at race day, my anxiety was off the charts for pretty much the whole 2 weeks between Kodiak & Cuyamaca.  The morning of, we drove over to Camp Cuyamaca getting there in plenty of time to be able to get a decent parking spot.  It was cool out which was a nice change from the record highs we had in San Diego the week prior.

Cuyamaca 100k, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Running4thosewhocant, lululemon

I was so nervous and starting to feel nauseous the closer we got to the start.  I drank water and probably went to the rest room at least 3x before the start.  And then Sean & I walked to the start line with Jenn & Vanessa (who were also doing their first 100k), we got a few photos before Sean gave me the best advice.  He told me to remember that there will be lows, but that a high is always around the corner, just keep moving.  He kissed me for good luck and then moved to the front of the pack :). Next thing I knew were were off, and all the nervousness fell away.

Cuyamaca 100k, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Running4thosewhocant, lululemon, paksit photo

One thing I’ve learned from Sean is to just go aid station to aid station.  It breaks up the race into manageable distances and gives you something to look forward to, especially if you are in a low point.

Cuyamaca 100k is broken into 3 loops, the first and longest is 32ish miles, has four aid stations, the second loop is around 12.6 miles and has one aid station and then the last loop is just over 18 miles with two aid stations.  Of the 3 loops, I’ve run the second & third loops in their entirety and portions of the first loop.  They gave us colored bracelets corresponding to the ribbon color on each loop.  Orange for the first loop, Blue for the second & Yellow for the third & final loop.

I had decided that it was best for me to just run the race by myself after TRT went well on my own.  I had a pacer for my last loop since I knew it was going to be dark.  Originally I was thinking to run with Jenn & Vanessa but I decided that for me it was best to do this on my own.  And so I set a goal to finish within the Western States qualifying time frame, which meant finishing in under 17 hours.

Cuyamaca 100k, Altra Running, Orange Mud, Running4thosewhocant, lululemon, Paksit Photo

The first section to Merrigan Aid Station went really well, I felt decent although I had some minor issues with calf/shin tightness but for the most part, I was able to run the majority of this part of the course and only walked the big uphills.  I got to the first aid station, had a few orange slices and then headed back up the hill I just came down.

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The next section to Green Valley, I was so sweaty.  I put some ice in my Running Skirts neck wrap and I don’t know if it was just that the ice was dripping or if I was sweating like crazy, but I was literally sopping wet.  Seriously I was wringing out my shirt periodically throughout this section.  It was horrible, especially because my shorts were also wet and I was acutely aware that while I normally do not have chafing issues, I could have some serious issues if my shorts didn’t dry quickly.

I finally made it to Green Valley camp ground and after a quick stop at the restroom who do I see? My friend Fern!  He was like you are doing great, what do you need, etc. etc.  I had him refill my new Orange Mud Endurance Pack, which I’ll review soon, but worked really well.  Here’s where I made a huge mistake.  I told him to add in both of my baggies of CarboPro/Ultima combo, thinking that would be best and would soon find out that was going to be a big problem.

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I got out my Pink Aftershokz Wireless Headphones to put on my new to me audio book from Cleo Coyle grabbed an electrolyte popsicle and then off I went for the next 9 miles up to Cuyamaca Peak, the highest point of the race.

Not long after I finished my popsicle, I took a sip and realized that I had over done it with the CarboPro/Ultima combo, as soon as I started drinking, my entire mouth got super dry, ugh not good considering this was the toughest section of the race and quite a while until the next aid station.  But the show must go on and I just trudged my way up the mountain taking small sips as much as I could.

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2/3s the way up the mountain, I started getting a little dizzy & light-headed.  My audio book was not helping since it was talking a lot about food lol and eventually I found a shaded place to sit on a log and loosen up my too tight shoe laces.  It was during this section that Jenn & Vanessa passed me.  They stopped to see if I was ok and then I told them to keep going and I’d start up again soon.

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I caught up and managed to keep them in my sights the rest of the way up to the peak.  Once we got to the road up to the peak, I saw another friend who gave me an otter pop and up I went.  Once there, the amazing Angela Shartel asked me how I was doing, I told her I was so thirsty but I didn’t feel well because I put too much CarboPro in my pack.  She told me she was going to empty it out, put ice & water inside and then I should take small sips on my way down to the next aid station.

She told me to take some food with me since I wouldn’t have any calories to drink, I grabbed a few pieces of watermelon and after a few glasses of water, I definitely felt better.

After the low climbing up to the Peak and some thoughts that I wouldn’t make it through the loop in time, I rallied to get it done.  I couldn’t let my pacer Kristina down, knowing that she was driving over from Dana Point to support me.

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I knew Jenn & Vanessa had already left the aid station so I set a goal to catch them. I headed back down the road, grabbed another otter pop 😉 and then kept moving.  I turned onto the trail, started running the downhill and then I tripped on a rock and my left calf got this super painful charley horse.  It was so bad I had to sit for a minute and I know I said ouch out loud.  But it went away and then I caught up with the girls as we made our way down a super rocky section, there was no real running during this part because it was practically bouldering the rocks were so big.

Once we got to the bottom, we hiked up a short hill and then I took the lead on the next downhill section.  I thought the girls were right behind me, but then I looked back and couldn’t see them so I just kept moving towards the Paso Pichacho aid station.

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This is the only area of the race that I saw any animals, at one point, I saw half of a rattle snake, the back half thank goodness, heading into the grass.  And then I could see the aid station.  I got there, had them fill my pack with water & ice and used the restroom and washed my hands – they smelled awful and were so sticky.  It’s nice on this course that there were some real bathrooms with running water so that we didn’t have to use port-a-potties the whole way.

I grabbed some more fruit and then it was time to finish this loop! 4 mostly downhill miles and we would be back at the camp. We crossed the street towards Stonehedge and there is a trail that follows the road a little bit up the trail.  I enjoyed this section and just thought about finishing the first loop.  By this point, I’m pretty sure my watch was a little off mileage wise because next thing I knew I was at the camp!

img_1122Looking pretty beat after that first loop, or just trying to understand what they were telling me, lol.

I finished the first loop in 8:25, which is really good for me, I got my bracelet for loop 2, grabbed some CarboPro for my pack, refilled my pack.  Paksit Photos caught some cool photos of me while I was out there and then I was off.

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I’m so glad I was able to run the 2nd loop with Sean the week before the race so I was familiar with what was to come.  There was a bit of a climb up to some amazing single track through the golden fields and then after what seemed like forever, I made it to the downhill to the aid station.  It was during this section that I noticed some sharp pains in my left knee on the downhill.  It wasn’t the whole time, just when I took too big of a step down.  I had to slow down a bit but I didn’t let it get to me too much.  I knew I was going to finish this loop and Kristina would be there to keep me company on the last loop.

I made it to the aid station and I was starving.  I was like I need calories so I ate potatoes, oranges and got another popsicle while they filled my pack.  I didn’t see anyone in the time I was going down to the aid station but a bunch of people came in right after me so they were closer than I thought.

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I headed out, trying to run, but mostly walking at first, this section has a brutal climb that I had to stop on a few times the week before.  This time it was a bit later in the day and somewhat shaded, it wasn’t easy, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

Then it was time for a short downhill and flat to camp. By this point, I was a bit over where I thought I needed to be to beat 17 hours but I thought there might still be a chance if we moved quickly and you always need a goal :).

I finally made it and saw Kristina & Smitha there!  Kristina got a video of me coming in and I was like we need to move.  I got my headlamp out of my drop bag, I’m not sure what I was thinking though, I didn’t take the back-up battery, fortunately I didn’t need it but that would have been bad.  I grabbed my long sleeve lulu shirt and my Altra stash jack.  I thought about taking my gloves but ultimately decided against them, I should have taken them.

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We had just over 4 1/2 hours to finish 18ish miles under 17 hours, it was going to be tight and my watch was dead so I couldn’t tell where were at.

We took off, I was running the best I could, we passed a few people and got passed ourselves by one guy.  I was power hiking as fast as I could.  I was getting intense spasms in my left knee that would come out of no-where but I powered on.

This was Kristina’s first time pacing and she did an amazing job, I’ve never had a pacer before so I didn’t know what I needed, I just know what I’ve done with Sean and that didn’t really work in our case.  So after a bit of trial and error, I decided it was best if I followed her when we were hiking the uphills and then she could follow me when we were running the downhills.  I am extremely proud of myself for the amount of running I did in this race.  While super slow, in contrast to TRT50 where I hiked at least 75% of the race, I feel like I ran at least 60-70% of this race.

We made it to Sunrise Aid station, I was getting cold so I attempted to get my long sleeve on.  I was having a lot of difficulties, my fingers were cold, my hands were sweaty and I just couldn’t get the tight Swiftly sleeves up.  I felt really bad because this super nice girl at the aid station had broth for me and it was cold by the time I was able to drink it, I kept apologizing and eventually Kristina was like we are going to dress you like a kid lol and she got me into the shirt.  I drank my broth, had a bit of a quesadilla, some potatoes and my bladder was filled and we were off.

img_1128When you have a mouthful of potato and you think you are smiling but you really aren’t lol.

The next section a lot of which is on the PCT, is one of the most beautiful views during the day.  That night it was just windy and very dark.  I did my best to run as much as I could but by this point, I was starting to get really sleepy and I hurt all over.  But we were so close!

With Kristina counting off the miles and my knowing a bit of where we were at, we made our way to Pedro Fages.  Eventually we could see the lights of the aid station.  I remember telling Kristina that it was going to be just around the corner and then there it was.  I ran the best I could and then we were there and I saw Sean waiting for me!  I think I hugged him for about 5 minutes lol.

img_1127Knowing I have to eat something, but not really wanting anything – while Sean fills my pack :).

But there wasn’t time for that!  We had about 7 miles to go to the finish!  We refilled, ate a bit and then after a quick photo, we were heading across the road and onto the last section.

This section was a lot of hiking, my legs were hurting and I was trying to run but it was sooo slow.  I started to get really cold at one point and I could see my breath.  I was really glad to have Kristina with me to keep me company and we just kept moving forward.  At a certain point, I asked her what time it was and we had 4ish miles and 23 minutes to get under 17 hours.  Well that wasn’t going to happen, I’d have had to pretty much fly to the finish to go that fast.  So goal 1 was replaced with a new on the fly goal of going under 17:30.

I felt bad that I wasn’t able to run faster, I was trying so hard to not walk, but everything was sore by this point.  But slowly but surely we were clicking off the miles.  And then, we could see the finish line in the distance!  Yea!!

We ran, as fast as I could into the finish!  And the time on the clock? 17:28 so I did it, I made my on the fly goal and while I didn’t make the Western States qualifying time, I finished, upright, with a smile on my face.

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I was soooo sore, literally everything from my hips down was sore.  I was a bit scared to take of my shoes because I knew that my second toe on my left food was not happy, but in the end it didn’t matter, I ran/walked/hiked 63 miles for the first time ever!

Stats:  Loop 1 32.3 miles – total time 8:25
Loop 2 12.8 miles – total time 12:00 – 3:35 this section
Loop 3  18.2miles – total time 17:28:38 – 5:28 this section

I finished 116/131 overall and 21/28 women.  There were 168 starters, 37 DNFs and 32 DNSs.

I used a mix of CarboPro & Ultima for the majority of the race, had a few Glukos Energy Gels, Orange slices, watermelon, some boiled potatoes and broth once it got cooler out.

I wore my Olympus 2.0s for the whole race, ProCompression PC Runners (they did feel a bit tight by the end of the race on my toes), my usual Lululemon Speed Shorts & Swiftly Tank and my new Orange Mud Endurance Pack for my hydration.

I may not be the fastest runner out there, but I was so determined to finish. Getting to that finish line and proving to myself that I could do this was super important, regardless of the time.  #YOUCANDOHARDTHINGS 🙂

Huge thanks to Kristina for pacing me on my 3rd loop, I am so appreciative of all your support and belief in me.

Thank you to Paksit Photos for being practically everywhere on the first half of the course!  To George Blancos for the photos towards the top of Cuyamaca.  And Fern for all your excitement and help at Green Valley and keeping me updated on Sean’s progress.  Angela Shartel, thank you for getting me squared away at the top of the peak, I so appreciate it.  To all the volunteers, thank you so much for being out there – we so appreciate you taking the time from your weekend to be out there (for hours) for us.  And lastly, to Scott Crellin, thank you for putting on a well organized, fun event in our beautiful backyard, with a generous time limit that gives people like myself the opportunity to push themselves without a lot of fear of missing cut-offs.

 

 

Race Recap: SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half Marathon

When our friend Matt from Athlete IQ asked me if I was interested in running this race, I thought it would be a fun time and a good way to get in another longish run for my marathon on June 19 & a second birthday race :).  Athlete IQ and Paul Jesse from Off Road Pursuits gave me an entry to the race.

This was the 5th year for the SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half & 5k.  Paul Jesse is the race director and he is a fellow Orange Mud Ambassador, local San Diego runner and race director for the San Diego 50 mile & trail marathon that we did back in January.

A few days before the race Paul asked Sean if he could help volunteer because someone backed out so we headed up near Temecula to Vail Lake early so we could help out at packet pick-up.  Temecula is about 70-80 minutes from us so we would need to leave around 4:30a to get there by 5:45a to help out.

The day before I had a few extra bottles of juice and tried to hydrate/eat the best I could.  I headed to bed at a decent hour after posting my flat Jenny photo to be up by 3:45a to get ready.

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On the way to the race, I ate a container of instant oatmeal and drank some water.  We made it there by 5:45a and immediately headed over to see where they needed us.  I got my bib first and then helped Sean & Carrie Jesse hand out bibs and race shirts until it was time for our race to start.

Start Line Photo

The half marathon started at 7:00a and it was mandatory to pick up your bib before 6:45a.  We all gathered around for a quick briefing and then we off.

From step one my legs were not happy.  I was having a lot of issues with pain in the glutes and hamstrings. I kept waiting to warm up and have the discomfort go away.

The weather was a bit humid and very overcast.  While I didn’t have the best of races, the course was beautiful.  There were a lot of little hills but it was a very runable course.  I kept thinking that Sean would love these trails.

After a few miles I would start hiking the hills and then running the downhill & flats as much as I could.

There were a three aid stations on course we hit twice. I remember joking with Scott Mills (SD 100 Race Director) that I needed new legs when he asked me what I needed at mile 6.

After a few miles heading back the way we came, we eventually hit the lake and were treated to some amazing views.  I ran as much of the downhill as I could before we hit a steep uphill to an aid station, which I hiked up.

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I finished strong and crossed the line in 2:41, which for a trail half and the fact that my legs were just shot from mile 1, I was pretty happy to just finish in a decent time.

I came up to the finish line, saw Sean and was like uh, where’s the camera lol.  He ran over and grabbed it so he could get a few shots of me crossing the finish.

Flat Jenny SoCal Women's Half

He then gave my medal, which our friend Eric made, which is super cool.

I got changed, enjoyed some orange slices & a half of a subway sandwich and then helped Sean hand out medals and wine glasses.

Swag: An awesome purple T-shirt, medal, wine glass, post race food & wine sample.

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Medal: From Elevation Culture

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Course: A challenging but runable course around Vail Lake

Price: It was $90 for the half marathon and I don’t recall the price of the 5k

Photos: They had a photographer on course and at the finish line.  And they offered a code for one free photo.

All in all it was a great time and I think that Paul and Carrie did a great job putting it on.  I would definitely check this one out again, preferably with fresher legs ;).

Race Recap: Whoo’s In El Moro 50k/25k

I’m not sure why it took me so long to finish this recap, but here goes, on Saturday, May 7 Sean & I made the short(ish) drive up to Crystal Cove State Park to run the Whoo’s in El Moro 50k.

I have wanted to run this race for a long time, after seeing lots of friends with the hats and hearing about the awesome race that race director Molly puts on. I was super excited, but a little nervous.  When I signed up for the race, my best 50k time was just over 8 hours and this race had an 8 hour time limit.

In the months that passed, I had some good 50k races and some not so good but seeing as Sean has his 50k PR on this course I was feeling positive about it and even set a goal of trying for sub 7 hours.

Race week finally got here and I was super excited, until I saw the weather report with rain in the forecast.  After the crazy clay mud in Zion I was not looking forward to more mud.  The week of the race I ran a lot, 2 back to back 10 mile days, a speedy 6 miles on Wednesday and finishing up with at short 2 mile shake-out on Friday.

Again, on Friday I drank a few bottles of juice, including my favorite, BluePrint’s Cashew Vanilla, which is sooo yummy, a bottle of Raspberry Chia Kombucha and lots of water.  I’m not sure exactly what I did but at some point on Friday I developed an issue in my right calf.  I tried massage, rolling, our new stim unit and just stretching and nothing was helping the cramping.  So needless to say I was a bit nervous about that.

Evolution Fresh, BluePrint Cleanse, Kombucha

I got my Flat Jenny ready, ate some pizza for dinner and went to bed early.  We were going to drive up the morning of the race, which mean leaving the house by 4:15am to get there in time.

Lululemon, Altra Running, Running4thosewhocan't, Orange Mud, Dirty Girl Gaitors, Carbo Pro, Procompression, Buff, XX2i

Waking up on race morning, I could immediately feel the tightness/cramping in my calves even without doing anything at all. Ugh…

We got on our way, I made some oatmeal to eat on the way up and since it was still dark and I can’t really stay awake when driving in the dark, I was half asleep as Sean drove us to Crystal Cove State Park.  On the ride up, we hit a lot of areas with rain, which was a bit worrisome because we really didn’t want to run in the rain.

We made it up to the park, paid the $15 fee to get in, thank goodness they take credit cards because I had no cash, parked and then immediately headed to the bathrooms.  Like at Old West, the park had real bathrooms so we didn’t have to use port-a-potties.  Then we made a bee-line to the starting area to pick up our packets.  All the while it was raining.

We got our packets, re-usable bags from 2XU with nice cotton shirts.  She had packets of different things on the table in they were giving out the bibs at including Justin’s, some sort of granola bar and a few other things.  I grabbed a pack of Justin’s and a granola bar and then we headed back to the car to get our gear.

Sitting in the Car in the rain

There were a few things that I felt like weren’t really well explained in the pre-race material and as a first time runner at this race I was a little disappointed by.

1) There was no start time on the email.  In looking at the website, it showed a 6:30am start and Ultra Sign Up showed 6:15am or vice versa, so we weren’t really clear as to the exact start time. It ended up being 6:30 because of the line to get into the park probably due to #2.

2) No where on the website or the email did it say that there was a $15 fee to get into the park.

Waiting for the rain to stop

So we were waiting by the start line for a 6:15am start only to find out we were a little early – we hung out with a few friends under the timing tents and waited for everyone to arrive, all the while waiting for the rain to stop.

UV, Buff, Buff USA, Bibrave, bibchat, whoo's in el moro

And then not long after 6:30am, Molly made a few announcements and we were off.

I don’t remember a lot of the course in this section except there was a little flat & downhill as we made our way into the park.  The mud was definitely there.  It wasn’t nearly as slippery for me as it was in Zion but it caked on my Olympus 2.0 which I absolutely love but not in mud. I could feel my legs getting heavier and heavier until it was hard to pick up my feet at all.  I mean look at all the mud on our shoes!

Muddy climbing

As we made our way up the hill at mile 2 I was just hiking up trying to stomp off the mud as I went along.  I chatted with a few other runners taking it somewhat easy up the hill to avoid any asthma issues.  I’ve found that my asthma acts up if my heart rate gets too high when I’m climbing so I was testing to see if I could avoid that when hiking.

Once we got to the top there was a nice stretch that was relatively flat and a nice downhill to the first aid station.  I stopped at the aid station to take off my jacket.  I tried to put it in the bungie section of my Orange Mud VP2 but it fell out which is why I had to wear it around my waist instead the rest of the race.  I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t any fruit outside of bananas at the aid station so I didn’t eat anything there.

Smiling thru everything

I power hiked my way back up the hill and then ran/walked through the section I just came from.  I came upon a guy who had completed a 50 miler the week before and was running the 50k on his birthday. I chatted with him for a few minutes before heading off.

I passed by 2 girls directing people where to go.  This race has a lot of overlapping sections so it can get a bit confusing as to where to go without help.  I chugged along with my calf cramping on and off.  I finally got to a nice section of single track and followed this girl into the 2nd aid station at about 7 miles in.

I got my bottle refilled, added my CarboPro/Ultima combo, ate some pineapple slices.  Then Steve, one of my fellow Orange Mud Ambassadors, helped me with my calf, by rubbing BioFreeze on it and even gave me an extra to take with me.

After a few minutes I was off.  My calf felt better initially and I was able to actually run for a few miles until I got to some hills.  Eventually we were got to this awesome downhill that went on for over a mile.  It was quite steep so I was a bit concerned for the climb back up.

I finally got down to the bottom of the hill and met a few volunteers who directed me up to the next aid station.  As I was climbing up, I had already been considering dropping to the 25k for a few miles.  I wasn’t really having a lot of fun and it was really challenging with the calf issue and all the mud.

In all honesty, I had been contemplating dropping to the 25k for a while, even before the race started because I was tired.  We had been doing a lot of running with back to back semi-long runs and it was starting to take it’s toll.

More Mud

I was hiking up the hill when I saw Sean coming…he stopped for a second to give me a kiss and I told him I was struggling but chugging along.  After chatting with him for a few minutes I kept moving only to hear one of the volunteers yelling don’t look down, I don’t want to see any heads down, smile, etc. I started laughing and smiling but really I look down so I don’t kill myself because inevitably I trip if I don’t watch where I’m going lol.

I refilled my bottles and then headed off.  A nice downhill to start before a long hike up.  I was pretty much all alone during this section.  At one point I got to a downhill section where I saw our friend Giselle, who would eventually come in 2nd place overall and first woman!  She looked great. After another climb, I saw Sean again and told him that I was done, when I got to the 25k I was finished.  He was like this is a tough course today and even he didn’t look like he was having fun.

After this I just kept moving, hiking the uphills, running the downhills – at one point I had a few mountain bikers following me down the hill which was a bit disconcerting.  After a few more ups and down eventually I found myself at the same aid station again after a short downhill.  I asked the guy there where the turn around was so I could drop but he didn’t know what was going on.

Coming down after loop 1

I got down the muddy hill and there were a the volunteers I saw earlier and I asked them where to go to drop down to the 25k.  They directed me up this super steep hill and said when I got to the bottom I’d be at the turn around.

And when I say steep hill, I mean crazy steep.  I saw a few more runners, even chatted with one on my way up and we were all slowly making our way up this hill.  I walked up backwards half the time because it was so tough.  And by this time the sun was out and it was getting warm.

I finally made it up the hill and was treated to a nice downhill to the turn around.  I made it and when they congratulated me I told them I was done and stopping.  Molly had told us in her announcements that she would allow us to drop down to 25k vs taking a DNF.  If she hadn’t said that, I probably would have just dropped to the 25k before the race even started.

And they finally had watermelon at this aid station lol.  I didn’t realize at first that the start was just a short walk away, but another girl came in and stopped as well so I walked back with her chatting about running and how challenging this race was.

We made it back to the start, I ran into Eric & Willem and they were like uh, where did you come from.  I told them I dropped down and another Orange Mud Ambassador, Tim told me he did the same. He has been struggling with plantar fasciitis and dropped as well.  They told me where to get my medal and I grabbed it.

Whoo's in El Moro Medal

Eric & his company Elevation Culture made the medals for this race too and they were super nice.

I headed to get changed because I was totally soaked with sweat and then came back to wait for Sean.  I chatted some more with Eric & Willem then watched the first place guy, one of the founders of Boom Running, who I would meet at PCT 50, and then Giselle and 3 more women come in before the 2nd male.  That was really exciting.

Sean eventually came in and we got a few photos before heading over to get our post race meal.  They had bottles of Essence pH10 Alkaline Water, which was interesting to me since we’ve been drinking the Core pH water.

IMG_0730Admiring our medals 😉

Molly set up a food truck to provide a post race meal for us all.  They had hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken & veggie burgers, chips and potato salads along with a whole bar of toppings.

This was a cool way to provide the post-race meal and it was pretty good too.

Sean and I hung out for a while chatting with some other runners before making the long trek back to San Diego. It’s not far but there was so much traffic on the drive home.

I have to say, even a few weeks out from this race, while most of the time after thinking about it I am not so anti any race, but in this case, I truly think Whoo’s in El Moro might be a one and done.  It is a very hilly course with a lot of steep climbing and in all honesty, I enjoyed Leona Divide so much more.  If Sean wanted to run this again, I’d probably either do the 25k or maybe more likely the 10k lol.

Thank you to Molly and all the volunteers for being so supportive and for putting on a great race.  Even though it wasn’t my favorite it wasn’t due to anything that they did.

And Thank You to Paksit Photos for all the on-course photos.