Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Next Marathon

I took about five days off from running after the TransRockies, but then I couldn't keep myself away.

I mean, seriously, could you?

One interesting fact about my body and this race (aside from lots of farting - I know you've heard of the alti-toots - where one farts much more at higher altitudes - it's a real thing and very entertaining)...I was not sore afterwards, nor was I especially fatigued. I swear, the body is amazing the way that it adapts. I felt like hell on day #3 and heaven (or close to it - that might be a slight exaggeration) on day #6.

So...I figured I'd ride the wave and get in one last race before the weather shifts to the deep freeze that can be November/December around here.

I will say, though, that now that I have a reason to visit Arizona (son at ASU) I've got all kinds of excuses to go down there in the winter for races. Did you know my first race ever was the Rock 'n Roll Marathon in Phoenix in 2009? True story. This was my rookie race where I had no watch and pinned my gels all over my body because I didn't know about pockets or things like that. #runningnerd.

Omg these kids are basically embryos. Now they're (almost) 19 and 15.

What's next, you might ask (or you might not ask because maybe you really don't care).

The Blue Sky Marathon in Ft. Collins, CO. This is a trail marathon and it's 26.2 miles in case you don't know how far a marathon is. Many people don't! Have you ever gotten the question: "How far was that marathon you did?" Or my favorite, "I ran a 5 mile marathon!" Huh?

Anyway - it's on October 2nd. About 3,500 feet of climbing. I've settled back into moderate training, nothing crazy. Last week:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 14 miles (trails, 2,000 feet of climbing)
Sunday: 5 miles

Grand total: 36 miles.

You may notice I have no cross training or strength in there. I am a horrible, no good runner. Do not use me as your role model. I'll probably do this until I get injured again then I'll start behaving once more.

In other exciting news from the week.

  • I saw Bad Moms. I think too many people told me how good it was that my expectations were outrageous and I didn't end of thinking it was all that.
  • I am reading Being Mortal. If you have aging parents or just want to know about the aging process, options for us as we age, etc, read it. It's not the most uplifting book but DAMN I am learning so much. And guess what? We are all going to die, so deal with it.
  • I haven't pooped in 3 days. 
  • The thing I worry the most about with Sam away at college is that he will fall out of his 8 foot in the air loft bed. I asked if I could send him a railing and he said no.
  • I made the best quinoa/tomato/edamame/red pepper salad this week.
  • At TransRockies I won a pair of Salomon trail shoes and they just got here. I cannot stop wearing them around the house because they are so gorgeous.

These are the Speed Cross 3.

Shoe Porn

Tell me one thing about your week?

Last movie you saw?

Favorite brand of shoes? I still like my Brooks, but I noticed my Pure Grits didn't hold up that well on the trail.

Best meal you made lately?

Best book you read lately?


Thursday, August 25, 2016

The 8 Signs You've Got Post Traumatic Race Disorder

What a whirlwind it has been.

Now I sit here with my BIG race done, my son off to college, my daughter back in school as a sophomore and ....crickets.

Well, there are always these two. Wait for it...

Can you say "transition time"? Yep, that's what I'm feeling. I've been told to embrace transition and change. Hell, I've even read books about it. But as humans we like to resist it. Change is scary, hard, emotional...and, yeah, change keeps us moving forward I suppose.

These are the times when I get the most introspective and questioning - wondering, with Sam gone - who will mow the lawn? Who will eat all the salsa and leave it caked on plates in the basement? Who will forget to leave his laundry in the washer until it gets all mildewed? Who will tell me, when I fart at the table, that girls shouldn't fart and it's gross (I could not have raised a child who would say such a thing. What's wrong with him? Farts are a gift from God and provide laughter, relief and bonding).

I miss you, Sammy.

Sam's leaving also brings up identity issues. Who I am beyond a mom? (a mediocre blogger! That's what I am!) What happens when your kids don't "need" you so much anymore? Are you still as worthwhile? I know that if you are once a parent, you are forever a parent, but the role changes.

Role reversal. Hey Sammy remember when you used to sit on my lap? Hey, Dr. Pepper isn't
all that good for you. Need me to iron that shirt? Are you going to fall out of that bed?
You need a rail.Seriously, I'm building you a rail.Where's Home Depot?

And, tell me this. Am I the only one that experiences a bit of grief and loss after a big race has come and gone? I like to call it PTRD (Post Traumatic Race Disorder) and it's usually characterized by things like:

1. Immediately searching on the Internet for the next race you can sign up for.

2. Repeatedly gazing through pictures from race day in an effort to re-live the experience.

3. Listening to and re-listening to any songs that remind you of the race.

4. Taking any chance to bring up your race conversation. "Hey person in the checkout line with me! What's up? Any weekend plans? Me? Well I'm kind of tired as I had this big race last weekend..."

5. Wearing your race shirt everywhere hoping to strike up said conversation.

6. Eating all the food because clearly you are still in calories deficit from the race.

7. Continuing to post things about the race on social media even though every is probably over it.

8. When official race pictures become available, post them too. Re-live experience again.

Oh, and this one cause I like it.

How's back to school going in your house? Do you have kids in college yet?

Ever experience any of the signs of Post Traumatic Race Disorder, or what do you do when a big race is over?


Thursday, August 18, 2016

TransRockies Race Report (2016): 6 Days, 120 miles DONE!

Let's get going on the race report before I forget everything. I am oldish and that happens. What was I saying? This is by far the longest race report I've ever written, but then again it was a long race. So, you will have to deal with all the pictures and babbling.

Let's get the show on the road.

We drove to Buena Vista, CO for check in. And, carbs in the form of beer. I bought a trucker hat because I hope to drive an 18 wheeler one day.

Meet Sylvie. My multi lingual partner in crime. We weren't a team, but we kept each other sane and alive.

Here are all of my new best friends. Can you find me? I'll give you $1.

I laid out my clothes the night before knowing that the lucky cheetah skirt (wore it when I BQ'd and they don't sell them anymore) would have to make an appearance (I only heard one person say, "Who wears a skirt like that on the first day of TransRockies??" "ME! I DO!".

It was all pretty seamless and chill. Ken and I spent the night in Salida a half hour away and made it in for the 8:30 a.m. start.

My main man Ken who never fails to support me in these crazy endeavors.

Stage 1: Sand, Cactus and Heat.  21 miles, 2,500 feet of vertical.

Hmmm. Not sure what the hell I was thinking doing this race. On a good day I can run 21 miles, but I don't usually get up and do it again for the next five days. There are a plethora of ridiculously fit people around me telling stories of running multi stage races and ultras. Braggarts. I am in good company, but not as experienced as these guys.

The gun goes off and Highway to Hell starts playing (this would happen everyday at the start). Damn this run is gorgeous. Hey, there's the prison we passed on the way in. Look. A check point. Going to grab a salted watermelon GU and chug some water. It's getting hot. Must not stop. I've got my mind on a chilly soak in the river and a cold beer at the finish line. Meeting lots of nice people. There's Paul from Boulder. And, Vicky from where ever who did her first ultra in Indonesia (doesn't everyone?). Classic Vicky.

Running through this sand and cactus landscape is getting kind of old. SWEET. Only 3 miles to go. And finally some shade through this tunnel.

God these last three miles are brutal. It's got to be 90 degrees. Finally, the finish. And, just like that - day #1 is DONE. 4 hours, 30 minutes.

We are shuttled to camp and got a pretty sweet spot.

I grab a beer (Crazy Mountain Brewery with all the beer you can drink) and huddle in my tent during a storm. Dinner, then a very early bed time.

Stage 2: Climbing Into the Sky. 13.3 miles 3,300 feet vertical.

Good grief. It is freezing. I'm on a school bus on the roughest 4 wheel drive road going up to the start of this stage. Hopefully I don't spew my oatmeal on my seatmate. It might be only 13.3 miles but we are climbing up to 12,600 feet - Hope Pass. Yes, it was cold enough for a down coat.

The gun goes off. Okay this climb is killing me. I've never run/power hiked anything this steep in my life. My legs are burning, much like an unwanted urinary tract infection (<random). 

But the scenery. I can't even.

Finally to what felt like the top of the world.

There was only emergency water at the top, because there is no way to get supplies up here except by burro. Here are the water carrying asses:

I carried your water. You are welcome
And, then a swift run down to the finish in Leadville where my two best friends, Julie and Erika, were waiting. 3 hours, 30 minutes. Day 2 DONE!

I will now tell you a few hard core things about this race. They told us the first night that if we are running and our hair stands on end, lightening is about to strike and we have to drop to the ground in a squatting position. They also told us that the medics had oxygen for us if it was needed, but once they administered it, you would be pulled from the race. Well, ok then. Note so self. Do not request oxygen.

Stage 3: I'm a Mess. 24.5 miles, 2,700 feet of vertical.

I'm waiting in line in the start chute. Wait!! Why are they checking for gear in our bags? What do you mean you need a jacket, hat, emergency blanket and gloves for this stage? Shit. That stuff's in my drop bag, which is in a truck somewhere. I am lectured and told to go find it before I can start. I'm now inside the truck ruffling through hundreds of bags, trying to find mine. Everyone has started running. I am the sole person left. I am panicking. Can't find my bag. Will they kick me out? Tears in my eyes, frantic, I go back to the guy and he begrudgingly lets me through. I spend the next 15 minutes trying to get back to where I was supposed to be on the course. Sprinting almost. 

Mile 3, we are heading up steep, steep inclines. My legs are  not cooperating. They are sore and pissed. Then, BAM, I am flying through the air and find myself in a face plant on the trail. This day is screwing with me. I pick myself up, continue climbing and finally settle into a steady pace. This run, while long, is amazing. Lots of soft trails covered in pine needles, many amazing views. Everyday I have started breaking up the run by the check points. Today's are miles 7, 14, and 21. At mile 21, I can see the finish line 3 miles away. They are offering shots of Canadian whiskey, so I partake. 

I feel amazing at this point (maybe it was the whiskey)? I haul ass into the finish, feeling strong. 24.5 miles in 5 hours, 28 minutes.

In fact, I felt so strong that a couple of hours later I did the beer mile. I was one of three women who did it - the rest were men. It took me about 15 minutes to chug a full beer every 1/4 mile (for a total of 4 beers) and to run the distance (in flip flops nonetheless).

The winner. I was so close I could touch him. But I didn't.

This was also the day Kara Goucher visited our camp and spoke. She is something.

For the next two nights we would be at Camp Hale, which is pretty remote and spectacularly beautiful. No internet access, no phone service. But there was this:

Sylvie and me chilling in the cool lake

Picture postcard perfect

Stage 4: More Climbing and Whiskey. 14 miles 4,000 feet of vertical.

Yes indeed when I woke up my tent was covered in ice. ICE IN AUGUST. It is about 30 degrees outside. I don't do well in the cold. I got in the habit of sleeping in my running clothes under lots of layers so I wouldn't have to go through the agony of getting undressed and dressed. Hmmm. something's off. Oh, SWEET! I've just gotten my period, which means I'm not pregnant! Haha. As if. Anyway, for all of you peri menopausal women, you know how unpredictable things can be. Seriously though?? Day 4 of this race???

What I remember most about this stage is that near to the finish we had to run in a stream for about a mile. It was gorgeous, but the water was seriously ice cold. With my Reynauds issue in my feet, I was going totally numb and my feet hurt. I was almost in tears. I had to keep coaching myself that I'd get out of the water soon and survive. It helped when I got to the next check point and had a little shot of Fireball. 

The finish of this stage actually ended right at a bar called Mangos where there were cold margaritas and tasty fish tacos waiting. Every race should end this way.

Stage 5: Running Into Vail and My Favorite Day. 24.1 miles, 4,100 feet of vertical.

Truth be told, I am nervous about this day. I wake up with my tent covered in ice again. We are on day 5, with 73 miles behind us and I don't know if my legs really want climb and run 24 miles. Check points are at 8, 14 and 19 miles. I am going to cut up this run into those chunks because it is way more manageable. Wow. 13 miles up and this is the most beautiful run I've ever done. I cannot wipe the smile off of my face and I know this is a true runner's high right now. For most of the stages I have run alone, and that's fine with me. It's kind of my happy place. Now that I can see the town of Vail thousands of feet below I feel literally and figuratively on top of the world.

I cruise into the finish line in Vail, still smiling in 5 hours, 28 minutes. I can't find Sylvie and hear she is in the medical tent having suffered from altitude sickness and dehydration during the run. She made it to the finish and is still recovering. She's a warrior and will run tomorrow. I plop my ass down in a chair with a beer and stay there for a bit, then get to bed as the sun sets.

I've gotten good at sleeping with a hat on and my sleeping bag up to my ears:

Stage 6: I Cannot Believe I've Made It This Far. 22.4 miles, 5,300 feet of vertical.

Getting up this morning in Vail I am slightly giddy. It is day 6 and I KNOW I can take whatever this day throws at me.

I have a calm and laid back attitude. I know I've got many miles to go and many climbs to make before the finish, but my confidence is in tact. Immediately we are climbing out of Vail, single track. I hate climbing on single track with lots of people, because it's hard to find paces that sync up, and hard to pass and be passed. Eventually things spread out and we enter this magical canopy of trees:

After miles and miles of climbing, we descend through waist high meadows of wild flowers and over streams. Before I know it we are making our final ascent (of the week!!) up Beaver Creek Mountain. The final mile will be a swift downhill to the finish line and I can taste it. I'm welling up again with gratitude to be able to be doing this and to be almost f&cking finished.

After 5 hours, 30 minutes I reach the finish and find Emma, dad and mom there.

YES!! I've done it and in all honestly I really wasn't sure I was going to make it. Once I began the race, I knew I would push through, but in the months/weeks/days leading up to it I just didn't know.

This race challenged me mentally and physically in ways I've never been challenged. I really had to tap into my confidence as there were hundreds of moments along the way that it would have been very easy to doubt myself. I had to use lots of strategies including mantras ("you are strong" "you can do hard things" "this too shall pass") and compartmentalizing - meaning taking one day at a time, one mile at a time.

The most important thing was to keep moving forward as fast as I could without bonking or getting injured. It is a fine line to stay on, and I feel like you have to know your body really well to do something like this. The weird thing was that after about day three, things started to get easier, or at least they didn't get any harder. I had read something before this race that really struck with me: "It doesn't get easier, you just get used to it." It's amazing how the body acclimates and adapts.

All of this to say - this race proved to me once again how running can make us better and stronger. We pull through when we didn't think we could and the next time we are up against adversity we tap into that strength.

Thanks for joining me on the journey, you guys.

Now go sign up for TRR 2017. You know you want to.


A huge thank you to TransRockies Events for sponsoring me on this journey.

And...hats off to Cindy Honebein who provided me with the best massages (even if they made me scream and jump off the table) for 4/6 days.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Cannot believe I actually did it. 

6 days, 120 miles
28 hours, 19 minutes
27th out of 74 in the sub-50 solo age group 
(which doesn't seem quite fair as I'm only 6 months away from 50, but I hung with the juniors)

Damn I fought for this medal/belt buckle! Harder than I've ever fought in a race. Guys, I cannot wait to tell you about the highs/lows/lessons of each day. And the pictures. OMG. You will die at the beauty and the stupidity (beer mile, anyone? Yeah, I did that).

I went up and over all those sharp points.

But, this morning I am flying down to Phoenix to give Sam a proper goodbye as he begins his college experience at ASU (he's already moved in - somehow did that without his mommy).

So, my formal and lengthy race report will have to wait a couple of days.

But, suffice it to say - holy balls that was one amazing experience. You have to do it before you die. You just do. I have never felt more alive or in the zone as a runner. Life changing for sure.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement on this journey!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Over and Out. It's Race Time.

What's that expression?

You know, the one that means the work has been done. There's no turning back.

Oh yeah -

The hay is in the barn


The money is in the bank


The junk's in the trunk


My entire running life is in this duffel bag.

The way it works is that you get this nifty duffel bag and whatever
you can fit into it including sleeping bag, boxes of wine, etc you can bring.
After months of training, hundreds of miles of running and thousands for feet of climbing, I'm headed to Buena Vista, Colorado, tomorrow to the start line of Tuesday's TransRockies Run.

Here's what this 6 day stage race of 120 miles will consist of:

Day One: 21 miles, 2,200 feet of gain. Buena Vista, CO to Railroad Bridge
Day Two: 13.4 miles, 3,400 feet of gain (Hope Pass). Vicksburg, CO to Twin Lakes (Leadville)
Day Three: 24,2 miles 2,700 feet of gain Leadville, CO to Camp Hale
Day Four: 14.2 miles 2,900 feet Camp Hale to Red Cliff
Day Five: 23.6 miles 4,100 feet Red Cliff to Vail <this day is going to kill me
Day Six: 22.2 miles 5,100 Vail to Beaver Creek <-this day is going to kill me more

That all adds up to some crazy shit.

And, here's one of the camping spots.

Damn. I just wish this race was a bit more scenic

I've got to say, I'm ready to be done training and to start running. I may be slightly under-prepared for the daily mileage, but all I can do now is go for it. What makes me most nervous are those low and painful points you hit during a race, where you have to figuratively pull yourself out of the toilet.

I have some tricks for that. I tell myself:

  • Don't assume it will get worse
  • Ride the lows and know you will again hit a high point, but don't get too confident there
  • Realize that it's hard for everyone
  • There is beer and a cold river to soak in at the end
  • You can do hard things
  • It is a gift that you are strong and fit enough to do this race. It is a gift to be able to run at all.
  • There is beer at the end.

So, think of me at 8:30 Tuesday morning when I begin this journey. And, stick with me along the way. I won't be blogging until I get back, but join me on Instagram. Or, daily results from each stage are posted HERE if you care that much and are a creeper.

Have a great week!


PS: Krosby's new favorite spot. He's in sync. Get it?