Sunday, April 24, 2016

Burg 2 Bay Relay 2016

Last Saturday marked my second experience participating in the Roseburg to Coos Bay relay over the Coos Bay Wagon road.

I'm not sure how exactly this team got together except that both Elissa and I wanted to be on the same team.

Our first plan fell out when another friend was unable to be in the area the weekend of the relay. Our backup plan went into action when Elissa found a friend who knew a friend who wanted a team and needed more runners.
Isn't that how all great stories start?

Needless to say, only a few of us knew each other before race day, which is how we ended up with the team name "total strangers".

We ended up in the mixed open category since there were several babies on the team, (not me).. Which means that we were up against other 20-year-olds and up.

We met at 6:15 AM in Roseburg at the TV station--  well, the girls did. The guys had a longer trek, and apparently got lost and got there late. But nobody was too late and our first runner (Elissa) was able to start after getting a good 10 minute warm-up.
Ready to rock Leg 1

Promptly, the rest of us took off in the van to try to find exchange, which should have been easy to find, but we drove past.

The guys pulled out the air horn to cheer for Elissa, while I hid in the bushes for a few minutes before it was my turn to start as runner number two.

It was still pretty chilly, but absolutely beautiful outside, and you couldn't ask for better weather to run a relay in. I took off in my shorts and arm warmers, ran a little uphill and began a nice descent for a total of 3.67 miles at 6:40 pace.

Arriving in Lookingglass, I bumped knuckles with Manny, our third runner. He took off at a quick pace, and started the gradual climb to the next exchange.

As we got further into the relay, the climbing got a little more intense.. going over the Coast Range presents some challenges! But the nice thing is that the legs were all pretty short in distance, most  between three and 6 miles each.

Alec really proved himself with some challenging sections, as did Kyle, who got to run the steepest  portion for our team, up to the top of Reston Ridge.
Rocking the fairy wings and tutu on the hardest uphill climb of the race! We totally tricked Kyle into thinking he was done, when he still had a mile to go :D

I was fairly spoiled with some very easy legs, meaning that the ascent and descent were only 700 feet or so for each portion.

While waiting for our runners to show up, we spent some time adding decorations to our van, (which was a big hit).
I'm not ashamed to own a selfie stick. It's not how fast you run, it's how GOOD you look!

 There were some requests by other teams for free massages (due to some advertising we did on the van), but they changed their minds once they found out Kyle was doing the massaging. :)

And so we rotated a few times going up and over and up and over again. And it was beautiful! The prettiest section was definitely my second leg, with the Coquille river to my left, and then to my right, with waterfalls occasionally along that stretch.
Running 6:40 pace because it's only my second leg.. and all downhill!

Pics by Elissa "faster than colts" Stoltz

Everything went smoothly, even when we had to drive back when Alec had misplaced his phone at the Fairview exchange.

Kyle drove like a madman past relay racers and vehicles in the wrong direction just to see if it was still there.
Alec showing some good form, just before losing his iPhone.

Manny's second and third legs were out in the sun and things started to get pretty warm for all of us. Thankfully it slowed him down a bit to give our team some time to retrieve the phone, which was not where it was supposed to be..
Manny doing his part through gorgeous green valleys on a warm spring day.

As we wrapped up the relay, Kyle came in with his wings on, and we relocated Alec's phone at the tent. Then we went over to Abbys pizza for some grub and to listen to the awards ceremony. To our surprise we actually won our division.

Nobody was terribly disappointed by the anchovies ordered for the pizza 😁 , Which is a sure indicator that this team is a winner.

So about 4:30 PM, Kyle drove Elissa and me back to  Roseburg.. It was over and done in one day, much to my satisfaction.

I'm looking forward to next year and doing this one again! I love that it raises money for Camp Mellenium, a children's cancer camp in the local area. Crossing my fingers it isn't on Easter or my son's birthday.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shoe Review: Topo Hydroventure waterproof trail shoe

I had never heard of Topo Athletic until coming across their posts on Instagram recently. They are a newer company based out of Massachusetts, "with a mission to develop footwear that honors the shape and biomechanics of the human foot". 

Always on the look out for the best trail running gear, I was intrigued by their design, as well as their claim to being waterproof.  Here, in the Pacific Northwest, that last part could be useful!

Having a shoe sent that you have only seen on the Internet can be like rolling the dice. I requested a ladies 10, though I normally wear a 10.5. I didn't see an option for my usual size. Surprisingly, they fit very well right out of the box! 



 
I love these colors! 
My first goal with any waterproof shoes is to see if I can get my feet wet. Solely for the love of product testing, I went to the wettest place I could think of with trails: Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park in Oakland, Oregon.

It turned out conditions were perfect for trying out the Hydroventures. Not only was there weeks worth of rain on the ground with the soil completely saturated, but there had been numerous cattle and horses winding their way through the park churning up the trails into a soggy muddy mess.


I might have got in a little over the top here...
The shoes were fantastic! Comfortable and light, very flexible, my feet felt right at home from the beginning. The shoes don't have super deep lugs on them, but what they lack in lugs, they make up for in protection from water. Through the wet grass and mud my feet stayed dry! 

Please note: the industry standard for waterproof shoes is that the upper is impenetrable from water. With their eVent DVdryLT material, these certainly are! However, like any rain boot, the Hydroventures will fill up if you decide to go for a swim. So, I don't suggest doing that. 



For another test I took them out to the logging roads. I was quite at home in them! Their combination of cushion, foot shape, and ground feel made a comfortable ride that wasn't clumsy the way some other shoes with a roomy toebox are. 




I can't think of too many drawbacks to the shoes. They are on a low platform (3mm drop), which I really like, but could take some easing into from most traditional running shoe styles. The colors are fantastic in the women's choices! I do wish there was a 10.5 available.. But maybe with more demand.?

Overall, I'm quite impressed, to the point that I wore them in a race (next post!) after only having them for a few days. 

I'm looking forward to trying some of Topo Athletic's other models, though I plan to wear these even when it's dry outside.  No need to save a shoe this good for a rainy day!

***
Topo Athletic Hydroventure: 
Specs (from topoathletic.com)
Retail :  $130
4.5 MM RUBBER OUTSOLE
13.5 MM (HEEL) // 10.5 MM (BALL) MIDSOLE
5 MM FOOTBED
TOTAL STACK HEIGHT 23 MM X 20 MM (3 MM DROP)
WEIGHT: 8.1 OZ. (SIZE 7)

Have you ever tried a Topo Athletic shoe? What did you think?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cottage Grove Half Marathon: I'll be back

For not having raced a half marathon since 2011, I really wasn't sure what to expect from myself at Saturday's Cottage Grove Half

Ever since hearing from a friend that there was going to be one on the Row river trail, I have had my eye on this race. If ever there was a course made for fast half marathon, this is the one! With an ever-so-slight net downhill, it's made to be easy, but not a knee-breaker. 


I arrived at the finish line area with plenty of time to pick up my packet at 7:30 in the morning. I was surprised at how many people were already there, but I hadn't found Wenona yet. Just before the shuttle buses left the parking lot, we connected and she picked up a packet for another friend (via Instagram), Kelsey. 


A few minutes later, rather than taking one of the four full shuttle buses, Wenona's husband drove us to the Start line. On the way up I noticed that out in the reservoir, which was low for the winter, was a herd of elk! What a view!



Just before the race, all smiles at the Dorena school! PC: Doan Turner

We had a dry gymnasium to hang out in for a little while before the race, which was perfect just in case. 


I took off for a little warm-up jog, and spent about 10 to 15 minutes doing some light and easy stuff and then a few accelerations


My plan was to go out at a seven minute mile and see how it felt. I really had no idea if it was something I could hold for the entire race. I also didn't know how good my GPS reception would be up there and if the readings on watch would be accurate. So, I was aiming for a pace, with the plan to let effort be my ultimate guide. 


I noticed a familiar face giving out lots of hugs (and advice) to runners. Taking a stab, I said something to him and it turned out it was a Facebook friend I had never met in person before, Lonn. It's always fun how races bring people together ☺️


We were advised to have anybody running under an hour and 30 minutes at the front and everybody else behind them. I figured I would find the fast group and get behind it. I definitely wasn't going to go out like a firecracker, but I also didn't want to be stuck behind anyone. 

Fortunately, there was plenty of space in the wide road at the start before hitting the trail. By the time all of us runners were on the trail, most everyone had a good position established.


My watch was reading in the 6:30 to 6:40 range for the first little bit, and I decided to pull myself back. I would have no legs left if I tried to keep that up! 


Somewhere around the 1st mile marker, I saw Lonn again, cheering, and asked him if I could leave something with him. He's very courteously said "yes," and I handed him my fuel belt that had my phone in it. 


For some reason my stomach was aching, and I knew I couldn't handle having that belt on for another 12 miles. I had thought of just tossing it in the bushes somewhere. And, it probably still would've been there when I came back, but it had my key in it, and it would've been a pain in the butt to go back for! THANK YOU Lonn! 


As I came to the next mile marker, I saw the sign before my watch read 2 miles, and I decided to go ahead and hit the lap button. I didn't know what my pace actually was, or if I was getting bad GPS signal. Of course, every one of the mile markers started to come about at about .96 of a mile. And I hoped that it was just a GPS issue. 


The course is tree/covered in sections, with amazing views of Dorena reservoir and the mountains beyond. It's easy to find yourself staring off and forgetting about your pace when you're distracted by that kind of panorama!




Enjoying the view during the "middle miles" of the course. PC: Audra Terry Photography, used with permission
Someone clearly FAST! Photo : audraterryphotography.com

I had slowed down a few seconds of a mile and was running what I thought was about a 7:07 - 7:10 pace. There wasn't a lot of passing or getting passed during this race except with one lady whom I didn't recognize. She had gone out fast, then I caught her, but she passed me on the downhill section and said something about me catching her again on the flat. I wish I had!


Oddly, my slowest miles for the race were during the downhill section. I wasn't consciously trying to hold back, but I figured if I went any faster it was going to take more effort than I could keep up. I am certain of it now!


By the time I hit the flat, "town" section, I knew I was closing in on the finish. There was one very long mile between nine and 10 markers. This was a bit of a "catch up" for all of the short miles earlier. I was mentally prepared for it thankfully! With only 4 miles left, I was ready to turn things up a notch. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left in my legs! 


I struggled trying to catch the girl in the pink shirt, (who turned out to be in my same age group). I never quite caught her; but, I think if I had another 50 yards… Maybe ;-)


After trying repeatedly to find another, faster, gear, I finally made it to the finish line in 1:34:28. I got a lovely medal placed around my neck, and stretched a bit --until I saw Kelsey coming in, followed by Wenona, who had earned a shiny, new PR!


***

A few thoughts about the race

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I'm blessed just to be able to run, but even more blessed when I get to run with friends.


Any complaints I have are against myself, ( I will save that for a different post.) The race was well staffed, with flaggers at every intersection, paramedics, and pretty much no way to get lost!


The aid stations were stocked with water which was handed out. I never needed the water because I had my orange mud handheld, but I picked up a hammer gel along the course, only because I had tossed my bag with 3 Honeystinger gels in it! 


I didn't stick around for the award ceremony this time, because I was pretty sure I didn't get one. I might have to look back through though! For a first-year event, there were a lot of people, but everything seem to have been thought of, from the porta-potties  and the shuttle buses, to the food stands at the finish line. A lot of thought was put into making this race worth the entry fee.


Overall, I would rate this race as a 9 out of 10 stars, only (-1) because of the mile markers.. I would definitely do it over again!


See it on STRAVA

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cottage Grove Half Marathon: Promises to be fast!

It's been a few years since I've ran a paved half marathon.

You can call me lazy if you want to.
I'm pretty satisfied with my PR in that distance, and haven't felt the need to do what it would take to improve it, (abandon my family completely and move to a running commune).

Despite my laziness, The Cottage Grove Half Marathon is on my radar for my first race of 2016.

There is just a little bit of climbing along the route; but, overall, it drops 200 ft and should be a PRIME smaller race for anyone looking for a fast downhill half PR (anyone but me!). And, with Eugene Marathon around the corner, it would be a fantastic tune-up race!

A couple of girlfriends and I have been able to get to the course to do some preview runs. We shared smiles, sweat and laughs-- as well as views like this!

Maybe running slowly will make the sights even more enjoyable?

I can't think of a better place to run a paved race...


I'm not as prepped as I would like to be for this race (which is only 2 weeks away!), and am running much lower weekly volume and shorter long runs than in past half marathon training. But, I have had some very good tempo runs, and a nice 16 miler.   

A PR is probably an unrealistic goal for me this time around, (unless my feet sprout wheels), but I still want to see what I have in me for the day.  


Now… would you cross your fingers for sunny weather on March 5th?
I'd like to see the ambulance coming before it picks me up at the finish line!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Silver Falls 50k ~ Race Recap

Silver Falls is a beautiful course, brutiful for those who haven't done much trail running, or who come expecting to run fast past a bunch of waterfalls. 

Looking over the course profile I decided it would be easier than the Swiftwater50k, my last race 5 weeks ago.  I might have been wrong on that one, but, when your goal is just to "have fun" things like course profiles probably shouldn't be looked at!
***

Saturday morning I arrived at the state park prepared for cold temps and for rain, as much as one can possibly be without overdressing for a very long run. I picked up my packet and went to my car where I changed from pants to shorts, but kept a secondhand puffy jacket on. 

I had eaten a small egg burrito breakfast at about 5:15 am, along with coffee, and  also ate some bites of oatmeal that had dates and pecans in it while driving to the race. 

After changing I found my running buddy, Alexis, and asked how she was feeling.. she had an hour of sleep but felt great ☺. I had 6 hours.. Ah, to be in my 20's again! 

I also ran into Jamie, an instagram friend, and we chatted briefly about his injury and plan to run through it that day. Hopefully he's healing up well today, because nobody wants to be sidelined. We runners share a common thread, and I love the chance to connect with friends who "get" my special kind of crazy...

As we lined up at the start, I adjusted my pack --minus the water bottles. Because there were aid stations about every 4 miles, I used the handheld that day to keep things light and off my back. I still wanted someplace to stash stuff, so wore the pack for my camera, arm sleeves, and emergency fuels.

Standing just a few feet behind me was Pam Smith, who I fully expected to win the 50k. I turned and said something brilliant to her.  I am sure she was thinking. "Ok..?.. Random stranger."
***

And then the race started!

Alexis darted up front and I knew she would have a great race. 
I did my best to go out easy, unlike the nice quick start I had for the last race. My pace was kept to 10 minute miles, even though we were running on fairly level paved road. It was all part of my plan to start slower and see if I had more left in the tank for a strong finish. 

I kept looking at my watch and thinking.. "10 minute miles. This is good. If i can just keep this for 31 miles, that would be awesome!" The thing is.. it is very hard to maintain that pace once you begin the climbing.



And we did a lot of climbing, I just didn't get any good photos of it. ;)

The 50k course runs through several sections of singletrack, but had more paved sections than I expected. There was plenty of opportunity to run, but I did not have the stamina with so much of the race left to go. I could already feel my hips and glutes tiring at this point (more on that in another post, perhaps).

Near mile 12 we crossed a stream. The water was below my knees, so it was not hard to manage, but you need to slow down to keep from going for a swim! Since it was raining lightly, and I had taken off my sleeves, the cold water actually made me wonder if I was going to be able to get warm again. Luckily I did!

I stopped briefly at almost all of the aid station, and drank Heed at a few of them. Mostly I sipped water from my bottle as I needed to, then refilled once or twice on the course. At one of the aid stations I ate some peanut MnM's and poured a bunch more into my vest pocket. They were tasting good, but I wondered if I should have packed them since they sounded like a maraca.

There were a few runners I kept in close contact with, and as I started passing people after about mile 17 I felt really good. Sometimes I would pass only to be caught again by the same runner on the uphill!

Unfortunately I did more powerhiking this race than I would have liked. Sometimes that was because of who was in front of me, and sometimes it was because I felt like I needed to conserve in order to run the flatter areas later on.

I discovered that I'm not that bad at running downhill! I just thought I was bad because I have been running with some excellent downhillers.. so I need to keep running with them for practice.
***

In the latter stages of the race I really faded badly. It felt like I was running really hard along the canyon trail and past the waterfalls, but the stairs slowed me down quite a bit and even my fastest mile in there was pretty sad for me! Still, I was not getting passed. My running math was really bad too. Earlier I thought I could possibly PR, now that possibility was evaporating.. unless my watch measurements were off.

Once I was out of the waterfalls area, I still had a few miles until the finish. This seemed to take so long for me! I was running alone since about mile 20 and saw other racers, even passed a few, but was bargaining with myself to keep running.

It was raining and cold now. I was tired. I promised myself that when I was done I could curl up on the back seat of the car and put a towel over myself and take a nap. These are the true thoughts of an ultra runner who is "just running for fun".

And then it was there: The finish line! I could hear it. I could see it getting closer! People were cheering!! Except that there were these orange cones and flour arrows pointing to the right...toward a hill.

It was a cruel joke at that point. I'd like to say I ran up the hill, but I hung my head and then jogged or walked. I'm not sure. Two ladies were in front of me, and if I had any competitive desire left I am sure I could have caught them both, but I coughed and they heard me, then started to jog. I almost caught them. Almost.

When I crossed the finish line, Alexis was there to greet me. She had a huge new PR and met her race goal of "not getting lost". I am quite proud of her 5:17, and quite grateful I even finished at all!

Almost the moment I finished, the sky tore open and a downpour began. I think it's safe to say that my ultra fire is quenched for a while now.

Despite the slow start and slower finish, I still managed to make it in 5:54 which is not my best or my worst of the three 50Ks I've done.

Today I am recovering quite well from my long run and feeling very blessed that I was able to run that far at all. Since before Swiftwater I've had some anterior tibialis soreness, but now (perhaps due to some low mileage weeks between races), it appears to be completely gone.

I tried some new things, learned some new things, and enjoyed running in a lush forest until I couldn't really run anymore!






What I would change about Silver Falls 50k:
  • Put in a later race drop bag area. For crying out loud, this should be very easy to do, and help us runners out a whole lot! A drop area after 3 miles is not so helpful. I can think of many places where this could be done, like at the gravel parking lot we ran through after the water crossing.
  • Stairs. I am not a big fan of running up stairs. But if they took them out of the race you wouldn't get to see all the pretty waterfalls.
  • There is a nasty finish line fake out. You can hear it. You can see it, but when you get close to it, the course turns abruptly and goes up some ridiculous hill called "Nutcracker". Nobody wants to run up some cliff for a mile when they already thought they were done! That's just mean.
  • Hot showers for everybody! Or a hot tub. There should be something hot besides the Dinty Moore beef stew that I know the vegans were sad about.

What I loved about Silver Falls 50k:
  • There were lots and lots of aid stations- you can run really light!
  • Beautiful scenery!
  • Challenging course.. Plenty of ferns and trees to run through, gorgeous falls. It is hard not to be distracted by the scenery.
  • Great marking with flour arrows and also lines across the side trails indicating "do not cross!"
  • Packet pickup was well organized and super easy and the raffle winners were posted right away at the race.
Late edit: I found out late that I won my age group for this race. I left before any official results were posted because I was wet and cold. It looks like they don't mail them out, though, so I will see if they will hold it until I can drive two hours to Salem to get it. 

(See the details on Strava:)


Monday, November 2, 2015

Another 50k ..coming up!

I couldn't really help myself.

An incredible and very kind (and very fast) friend emailed me before Swiftwater50k and offered to give me her comp entry to Silverfalls 50k on November 7th.


From the notorious Silver Falls long run where I hurt myself on all ..those ..stairs last summer.
It's beautiful though!

Since it was already full and is ridiculously hard to get into any of those races, I decided to go for it.

I might never get another opportunity to get in unless I park myself in front of the computer at midnight on registration day some year!

*  *  *
Between my last 50k and this one, I have done just a few longer runs. It seems like cheating to run so little in preparation for something so long, but it worked pretty well to get me to the start of the Swiftwater 50k uninjured (and with some speed work, even!).

After Swiftwater I took just a couple of days of complete rest. Running a trail 50k feels so much easier to recover from than a hard marathon. But, then again, the overall pace is about 4 minutes a mile slower for me.. so maybe that is why ;)

With 5 weeks between races, my long runs went like this:



You can add another mile, on average, to each of those green runs. The Garmin 320 measurements never quite match up with the map mileage or what other runners in my group capture.

Each of the three longer runs was an adventure in itself.
I have met some new friends in my local area, thanks to Strava, and am not shy about inviting total strangers to meet me at the Walmart parking lot for a Brice Creek run.☺

One of my favorite runs of the year was the 21 miler (listed as 19.6) that included climbs up to Hardesty Mountain, the Sawtooth trail and Mt. June. The view from Mt. June was awesome and well earned. At the top we rested a bit (while one of us ate a chicken burrito) before descending 11 miles and 5500 ft back to the trailhead.


After this solid training run, I am more aware than ever that my strength is climbing.. or even better, running the flatter gravel, and that my weakness as a trail runner is steep downhill running.

It's not that I haven't improved in downhill running, it's just that I can't quite "let loose" on the steep downhills and make a "controlled fall" out of it. If I start falling, I doubt there's much controlling it!

So, with that knowledge, added to the fact that Silver Falls is not listed on Ultrasignup.com (and will not influence my mediocre ranking there), I have decided I will just take it easy and enjoy this race. None of the pressure, all of the fun, and a great excuse for good food and a bad massage.

Or is it the other way around? :)



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Swiftwater 50k Race Recap: My 2nd attempt to run a really long way.

"Pacing in an ultra is about leaving enough in the bank to last you to the end. There is a golden rule of ultra pacing, or at least an old adage: If you think you are starting the race slow, then slow down even more."-Hal Koerner
These are wise words I wish I had read before running on Saturday!

Regardless of not taking Hal Koerner's advice, I still had an unforgettable day, finished my second ultra, Swiftwater50k, with a

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Signs I saw driving home from the 50k.

Thursday's events may have moved to page 2, but not in Douglas County.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Google "50k Training plan," please?

It's probably not a good idea to start looking for a 50k training plan with 2 weeks until your race, but that's what I was doing this morning.

Having signed up for an October 3rd event, I just wanted to see if I could actually get in some long trail runs and "sort of train" for the distance without

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Long run drinking and fueling experiments

I've been trying some new things out for fuel lately and thought I'd share!

Most of my runs I don't really need to worry about fueling, just water. This summer was exceptionally hot and dry, so I brought water on almost every run. And that's OK with me; my pack gives extra room for carrying my phone and camera, keys, etc..

However, with all the longer runs I have been doing recently, fueling has been essential. 
It's just not going to be pretty if you are running all day on the trails and don't have anything to keep you going. 

I believe sugar is essential (carb), though some might prefer to add fats or protein to fuel with. The bottom line is that you need SOMETHING out there.. Figuring what the right combination of "something" is- that part can be tricky.

My personal observation is that in a race where you expect to run the whole thing without using the restroom (big potty, here!), it's best done on strictly non-fiber carbs (gels, sports drinks, beans, chews, etc..). This is best for races under 5-6 hours. 

Fiber and protein (i.e. bars, meat sticks, trail butter, real food), these things are known to cause "big potty". They also redirect your blood from elsewhere in the body to your stomach for digestion, and will lead to a stop or two in many people's races. They also, however, provide energy to keep a runner going longer and that is why ultra runners must have them if they are running for hours on end. (Only going on research here, since my longest run ever was not quite 6 hours).

After running out of some prepackaged bars, I decided that my 5 hour runs would need some alternative fuel, and I went to the kitchen to see what I could whip up. 

This is what I came up with: