02/24/11

Testing The Sprained Ankle Again

It’s been almost three weeks since I sprained my ankle at the Orcas Island 50k. I can walk fine on it, even take stairs and do a jump without pain — but it’s still sore and I still yelp when I accidentally forget it’s injured and try to sit cross-legged or my husband’s foot bumps it under the covers at night. I’ve been wearing a brace and trying to let it heal by taking time off from running and biking.
I did do a short run about a week ago. It felt fine during the run, but was pretty sore that evening. So, I took another week off completely to let it heal further.
Today was another test.  It didn’t hurt during the run, so I’ll have to see how it feels the rest of the evening.
Energy-wise, I felt pretty worn down out there today. It was windy and chilly, fairly gray out and a bit dismal. I felt really slow and couldn’t seem to muster any sort of medium paced speed at all.  It’s likely a combination of not running at all lately and the muscles still fully recovering from the nearly 10 hour effort I gave at Orcas Island.
If the soreness is no worse tonight than before, I think I’ll gradually start easing back into my mileage. I’m itching to be at my full training load again.  My lack of endorphins has become obvious to my poor family, who must endure the whining and moping of this injured runner.
I also have another couple of great incentives to get back on the ball! Just this past Monday, the Race to Robie Creek – billed as the Toughest Half Marathon in the Northwest – which takes place here in Boise – opened up it’s infamous registration at noon.  Now, the Race to Robie Creek is a challenge — the first 8 miles are up hill! But, after running the race and registering for it, I’d have to say that the registration process is the more difficult of the two!  The race sold out last year in 13 minutes!  I made it in, but my heart was beating wildly and I was in awe that my fingers had been able to type fast enough to fill out the registration in time to hit “send” and have it accepted.  This year was no different.  I had a hard time sleeping the night before. My palms grew sweaty as I sat and hit “refresh” a thousand times leading up to high noon waiting for the elusive “Registration Open” link to open. It finally did for me – about 2 minutes after 12:00 and I made it in! Yes!!!!!
Now, to training.  The race takes place April 16th. It’s a wild and crazy event that feels more like a big party than a race. I can’t wait!
I also have my own Lake Lowell Marathon (www.runlakelowell.com) coming up May 7th. My husband and I have been spending most of our evenings and weekends working on the behind-the-scenes details (which are more than I would have realized).  I’m really hoping I’m able to help Wayne enough with the organizational needs ahead of time, so I, too, can run this race -the marathon of my dreams. 🙂
Those are some pretty good reasons to get my miles back up. I just hope the ankle is getting stronger and closer to being fully healed.

It’s been almost three weeks since I sprained my ankle at the Orcas Island 50k. I can walk fine on it, even take stairs and do a jump without pain — but it’s still sore and I still yelp when I accidentally forget it’s injured and try to sit cross-legged or my husband’s foot bumps it under the covers at night. I’ve been wearing a brace and trying to let it heal by taking time off from running and biking.

I did do a short run about a week ago. It felt fine during the run, but was pretty sore that evening. So, I took another week off completely to let it heal further.

Today was another test.  It didn’t hurt during the run, so I’ll have to see how it feels the rest of the evening.
Energy-wise, I felt pretty worn down out there today. It was windy and chilly, fairly gray out and a bit dismal. I felt really slow and couldn’t seem to muster any sort of medium paced speed at all.  It’s likely a combination of not running at all lately and the muscles still fully recovering from the nearly 10 hour effort I gave at Orcas Island.

If the soreness is no worse tonight than before, I think I’ll gradually start easing back into my mileage. I’m itching to be at my full training load again.  My lack of endorphins has become obvious to my poor family, who must endure the whining and moping of this injured runner.
I also have another couple of great incentives to get back on the ball! Just this past Monday, the Race to Robie Creek – billed as the Toughest Half Marathon in the Northwest – which takes place here in Boise – opened up it’s infamous registration at noon.  Now, the Race to Robie Creek is a challenge — the first 8 miles are up hill! But, after running the race and registering for it, I’d have to say that the registration process is the more difficult of the two!  The race sold out last year in 13 minutes!  I made it in, but my heart was beating wildly and I was in awe that my fingers had been able to type fast enough to fill out the registration in time to hit “send” and have it accepted.  This year was no different.  I had a hard time sleeping the night before. My palms grew sweaty as I sat and hit “refresh” a thousand times leading up to high noon waiting for the elusive “Registration Open” link to open. It finally did for me – about 2 minutes after 12:00 and I made it in! Yes!!!!!

Now, to training.  The race takes place April 16th. It’s a wild and crazy event that feels more like a big party than a race. I can’t wait!
I also have my own Lake Lowell Marathon (www.runlakelowell.com) coming up May 7th. My husband and I have been spending most of our evenings and weekends working on the behind-the-scenes details (which are more than I would have realized).  I’m really hoping I’m able to help Wayne enough with the organizational needs ahead of time, so I, too, can run this race -the marathon of my dreams. 🙂
Those are some pretty good reasons to get my miles back up. I just hope the ankle is getting stronger and closer to being fully healed.

Stats: 2.35 miles in the neighborhood. Pace: 10:33. Felt: Blah

02/15/11

Lake Lowell – Certification Round 2

It was another lovely day to ride the bike and certify the marathon course. My husband and five kids crewed for me, which made things go even smoother today than yesterday. It was nice to not have to carry my water or snacks or to even stop for photos. Wayne took several for me, which was awesome. The scenery was beautiful today.

My favorite animal sightings were both horses today: I saw a young Mom riding her horse around her corral with a small child (about age 3) in the front of her and another son (maybe age 5) clutching onto her from the back. It was a very sweet scene and it made me smile. I also saw a horse laying down wearing this season’s fashion — a stunning blue coat. 🙂 I love seeing animals in clothing. It always cracks me up. And, I know… horse owners don’t call them coats, they call them blankets — but I totally think they look just like jackets.

My hiney was a bit whiney after yesterday’s 26.2. Apparently not riding a bike at all for 20 years is not good prep on the bottom half for leaping into 52 miles in two days. Who knew?! I thought of the phrase Michael Jackson said on his song, “The Girl is Mine” – “I’m a lover, not a fighter” but made it my own today by thinking “I’m a runner, not a biker!”

A couple of “real” cyclists recognized me from yesterday’s venture around the Lake and waved. My husband heard one say to the other, “Hey! I saw her out here yesterday!” They were probably wondering what I was doing on a mountain bike on their lightweight, cycle turf.

I was pretty fatiged by mile 20 today. I pushed the pace a bit, eager to beat yesterday’s overall and moving times. Yesterday, my “overall ” time counting taking photos, waiting for Wayne, etc was 3:18 for the course. Today it was 2:25! My moving time was 2:33 yesterday, today it was down to 2:17! Yay me! But, due to the increased pace, I wore out a lot sooner. At the 20 mile spot, I parked the bike on the course, walked past Wayne who was offering me my water bottle and laid right on the ground to get a little break. A few cars went by and Wayne remarked that seeing a big Suburban and a big guy near a woman sprawled on the ground with a bike nearby probably made them assume he’d hit me with the vehicle and was tending to a wounded rider. The scene was made even better when he offered me Oreo cookies. There I laid, eyes closed, catching a breath, while I munched cookies. Mmmm….


I couldn’t nap forever, though and I was truly almost done. The Oreos worked their magic and soon I was zipping along by the Lake again, eager to see the finish line! I did it! 52 miles by bike in two days! The course measuring is now done. Just need to finish filling in the fine details on the paperwork and send it in. We were told the certification of our marathon course should only take a few days once they have it in hand. Sweet!!!!

02/12/11

I Qualified for Boston and Mooned the Sherrif

Oh, alright… so riding a bike disqualifies my qualification for the Boston Marathon — but it still felt awesome to see such a fast time when I hit 26.2 today on the bike. 🙂

Today was a lot of fun! My husband and I are working on creating a USATF certified, Boston-Qualifiying marathon in our town around beautiful Lake Lowell. Wayne ordered the Jones counter for the bike while I was away last week and he hooked it onto my tire this morning, we loaded up our bikes and dropped the kids off at my parents house for the morning and we headed to the course.

It was pretty cool seeing all the details we had to attend to: the temperature on the ground, not in direct sunlight at the start had to be written down, we had to measure out 300 feet very carefully (and place 11 lbs of weight with a pull spring on the steel measuring tape) to make certain even that trail section was very accurate.  Then, 8 times we had to ride the bike with the counter along it, making notes of the numbers on the counter after each time. It was cool. It was fun and I felt like a jogging secretary as I tried to keep up with Wayne on the bike, clipboard clutched to my chest.

It was also REALLY COLD! It was about 40 degrees (which wasn’t the bad part) with 20 mph winds with gusts up to 30. That part was awful! I nearly climbed back into the Suburban and refused to come out for the ride. But.. I strapped on my new pink bike helmet and climbed aboard my purple mountain bike (which I scored at the thrift store a few months back for less than $20 and had yet to even test out) and we were on our way (after carefully writing down the starting data and staring our Garmins just for another reference for our own curiosity.)

The Lake Lowell Marathon course is beautiful –  scenic farmland, trees, tall prairie-like honey colored grasses waving in the breeze, rolling hills (some steep enough that I had to stand on my bike pedals), cows, sheep, a Shetland pony or two, a llama, several horses, lots of lovely birds near the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge, which encircles much of the Lake front and today – a frozen Lake, opaque in the sunlight, with the Owyhee mountains looming like continual shades of darker purple in the background. I think I took about a hundred photos out there today. It was magnificent!

Now, the rolling hills are tough. The total elevation gain was only 465 feet, which honestly surprised me since it felt like a lot more. I was feeling pretty eager to get in some exercise when we started since I hadn’t done more than walk around the block since I injured my ankle at the Orcas Isand 50k last Saturday. This was a great outlet for my pent-up energy – but it was a bit tougher than I first imagined.

Being a runner – and a runner only — I sort of expected the bike ride to be quite leisurely. I have run this exact course twice before and knew the first half was a bit challenging due to the hills, but assumed it would feel much easier on a bike. Turns out, that’s not entirely true. 🙂 I have a whole new respect for bikers this evening! Some of those hills were harder to ride than they were to run!

By mile 6.75, it was even getting to the race director (aka – my husband, who was panting along behind me on his bike.) I waited at the top of the longest hill for him to push his bike up to where I was waiting. I offered him a gel and some water and encouraged him to catch his breath, but he told me, “I can’t do this today. I really thought it would be no problem, but it’s harder than I thought.” I told him that was totally ok and I would be fine to ride the course on my own and meet him back at the car. We kissed goodbye and headed our separate ways.

The hills kept coming for another 6 miles or so. It wasn’t until I was past the 12 or 13 mile spot, that I started to experience some real relief from the continual climbs.  That’s when I was heading back towards the most gorgeous section of the whole course – meandering through the countryside, drinking in the natural beauty all around me, passing acres of perfect furrows in the fields — awaiting springtime planting, horses galloping in the fields enjoying the sunshine and even stopping to photograph an entire field of lambs and one llama right at the 20 mile spot! I thought of the phrase, “Are you feeling baaaaaad” for that one. 🙂 But, I wasn’t. My injured ankle felt perfect on the ride today (and even the little bit of jogging I had to do during the initial measuring stages.) I felt strong. I felt happy and I was really glad to be out there helping my husband.

Now, around mile 21, I had to go. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no one in sight, so it seemed a perfect spot to slip off the bike and sneak into a ditch for a quick potty break. No sooner had I done my business when I heard the grind of tires on gravel as a car pulled up next to me. I immediately started fearing the worst – expecting some deranged weirdo, seeking out the owner of the purple bike to attack and throw back into the ditch I was already so conveniently located in.

Much to my surprise as I came up yanking up my britches was the sight of a white, Sheriff’s patrol car! Oops!  I immediately started to apologize for using nature’s bathroom, when the nice Sherrif started apologizing right back.  He was very nice and had just noticed the bike up on the road and assumed someone had stolen it and left it there. I think he felt as bad as I did about catching me by surprise. He told me to have a good day and we headed on our separate ways — me giggling about how strange this day was turning out to be.

This is where I should mention something. Wayne got back to the car, but didn’t have the keys. I had those in my fuel belt. Oops again! Luckily, we didn’t lock the vehicle, so he was able to climb inside, eat some snacks and take a little snooze until he saw me again. I felt so bad when he called me and reminded me that I was holding the keys, though. We’ll plan better next time. 🙂

I finally came across the dam road (and no, I’m not swearing at you) back to the vehicle. I couldn’t believe I’d traveled 26.2 miles, hugging the white line the whole time, on my bike. Since I hadn’t ridden a bike more than 5 miles in 25 years, this was a pretty big accomplishment.  It was a lot of fun and I have to say my thrift store bike really did me proud! I’m not even sore. And, lucky for me — I get to go back tomorrow and do it all again (certification round #2!) Looking forward to it, too!!!

02/10/11

Race Photos

Here’s some of my favorite photos from the race:

This is one of my favorites of some of my pals! Lynette, Dennis and Lisa are super duper ultra runners who amaze me! Loved their tutus and smiles at the start line!

Here’s my friend and team mate, Sparkle under this huge fallen tree overlaying part of the path! Cool, huh?

The scenery was spectacular! Waterfalls, rainforest and trails that went on for miles….

Some of the more mild sections of trail of the Orcas Island 50k

A photo I look when landing at Orcas Island from the ferry. It’s a cute Island!

The view from Orcas. So pretty staring out at the other San Juan Islands.

A photo of most of my team (there were 15 of us) at the start:

Coming into the first aid station.

On the Powerline section that almost did me in with my friend, Billie.

The Powerline section looking back down. STEEP!

More Powerline – the toughest section of the race.

The lovely, mossy forest.

I came to life after Powerline and felt awesome climbing the 2,000 feet of Mt Constitution. This photo was taken around mile 23 (near the summit.) I felt GREAT!

The elevation profile. It’s a TOUGH race!

Sprinting across the finish line, so proud of all I’ve accomplished!

Bertha, getting a much-deserved cuddle from her husband after her finish! This brought tears to my eyes, it was so sweet.

Chocolate Milk rocks! We did it!!!!

War wounds:
The ankle:

The hand:

02/9/11

Orcas Island 50k Race Report

The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall. Now, imagine if you could duplicate it and place 6 and a 1/2 of them one on top of the other, reaching wayyyy into the sky – say about 8,000 feet up. That will give you a rough idea of the amount of climbing involved in running the Orcas Island 50k race. Now, it wasn’t all at once like that. The climbs were broken down into four pretty tough stretches and some more gradual ups and downs throughout the course. The four biggies, though about did me in!

The first big climb is to Mt Pickett – about 2,000 of climb by about mile 5. And we were just getting warmed up since this was a more gradual progression in comparison to what was to come. The Powerline section looks like a ski slope — except you’re supposed to run up it – for about 3 miles. The truth is, I witnessed very little running during that section myself and honestly struggled more here than any other point in the race. The climb is another 2,000 of vertical gain. I saw a lot of runners walking sideways up the mountain, switching sides and even walking backwards to share the incredible strain on the uphill muscles with others to ease the pain. I tried it too. I loved looking back since the view was truly magnificent — thick, green forests – tree tops really since we were so high up, fog and the beautiful water below.

Something odd happened to me during this stretch. My heart rate went through the roof. I could hear it thumping in my ears. I felt dizzy and nauseated. I thought I might pass out. I wasn’t running. I was barely moving — but this continued, so I finally stopped, hunched over my and tried to get my heart rate down to normal. I found that I actually needed to sit for a minute on a moss-covered log to recover before I could get up, move a few steps and repeat the process. It was slow going. So slow, that mile 13 was a 47 minute mile for me! I was not alone. Several others struggled through this difficult portion of the race – and we weren’t even halfway done yet! I actually looked at my watch at 13.11 miles – the half marathon distance and laughed out loud. 4 hours and 20 minutes on the nose. That was my PR marathon time in October. It was a very good thing that I had taken the early start at 7:30 instead of the usual start at 8:30. I knew there was a cutoff time of 8 hours to do the race, and would need every bit of grace I could get. On Powerline, I really wondered if I’d be able to muster what I needed to finish in time. The downhills are my strength, so I held onto hope that I could make up some serious time on those and still make it — but I had some serious doubts.

The third big climb is to Mt Constitution – the high point of the race and the second aid station. It’s another 1600 of elevation gain that you reach at about mile 23 in the race. Amazingly for me — I came to life after the Powerline climb and was able to start running comfortably again. The climb up Mt Constitution is a series of switchbacks -which are so much easier on the calves and lungs than the straight up climb of the previous section. This was much more like my training in the Boise foothills and I felt right at home here! I started passing some of those who’d passed me miles earlier and I encouraged them as I went and also stepped aside and clapped and cheered for those who were quicker than I. It was a very positive point in the race for me! I felt strong, I felt clear-headed and I was ready to rock and roll! I hit the summit 7 hours and 4 minutes into my race (since I’d taken the early start.) A volunteer checked my number off a clipboard and said, “How did you feel?” I said, “Like I could run another 20 miles, no prob!” and I grinned and headed for the aid station.

I’d been daydreaming about soup and salted potatoes for the entire race. I’d been too nervous at the start to eat my breakfast, and had taken in several lemon lime GU’s throughout the course, sipped a tiny bit of Coke at the first aid station at mile 11, eaten a couple of bites of a PB and J sandwich there and eaten 1 chocolate chip cookie (which almost revolted on me during Powerline.) I’d also drank a small bottle of Gatorade, but was feeling pretty hungry by this point in the race. When I asked hopefully for soup, I was shown a big pot of beans. Since GI distress has been a problem for me in other long distance races, I knew to pass on those. Unfortunately, there was no soup and no salty potatoes when I arrived. So, I took an orange slice, drank a few sips of ginger ale, ate a GU and refilled my water bottle and was on my way. I was feeling very positive that I’d finish — though at this point, I didn’t think it would “count” since I knew there was still the looming 8 hour cutoff time (which meant 9 hours for the early starters like myself.) There was still about 9 miles to go. And believe it or not — more climbing. Another 700 foot section or so remains to be conquered on very worn down legs. Followed by about 3 miles around a beautiful lake, then to the finish line.

The lake was so beautiful. Too beautiful. While running along, thinking, “I’ve got this”, I took a moment to enjoy the view, taking my eyes off the rolling technical trail. POP! I felt my left ankle roll to the side and knew something was wrong. I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me?! I’m almost done!’ You can’t do that!”, but it had happened – I sprained my ankle and could tell that pushing the pace would probably cause further damage, so I eased back to a quick walk and just kept plugging along.

A fellow runner caught up with me at this point and I we chatted about cheeseburgers.  That’s all I was thinking about the entire time after Mt Constitution. My buddy, Billie caught up shortly after and I could see she was still running strong, so I encouraged her to go on — do her thang and get it done! I was so proud of her!

As I approached the camp, I could hear the cheering as Billie went through the finish line. It cheered my heart knowing I was so close. I looked up and saw my friends Julie and Jay waiting for me on the road. Julie said, “You’re almost there.” and I said, “You’re not just saying that?”! She and Jay started to run with me and Jay said, “Let her go ahead like she’s beating us.” ha ha . That was awesome. Then, I rounded the corner and saw it with my own eyes — the finish line, the crowd, my friends — and I heard the clapping, the cheering and something came to life in me! I started to grin and sprint for all I was worth across that finish line!

9 hours 40 minutes. I did it!!!! And, it turned out, the race director had extended the cutoff time by one hour — so my finish counted! I was ecstatic! I felt like I’d faced a giant and conquered it.

Just a few minutes later, the crowd went wild again. Here was Chocolate (aka Bertha) my best friend in the world and my training partner! She was crying, so relieved and proud of herself for accomplishing this great task! She ran across the line and right into her loving husband’s arms. It was so sentimental and emotional, many including myself, cried too. It was a beautiful moment!

217 runners signed up for this race. 136 crossed the finish line. That is a testament to how challenging this course was. I fell at mile 2, dunking both of my shoes into the icy pool at the foot of a gorgeous waterfall and cutting my left hand in the process. It was bloody and muddy and pretty cool to show off. The scenery was spectacular – I felt like I was running in a Twilight movie and was hoping a good looking werewolf would come popping out of the forest (just kidding, honey!) There were moss-covered trees, deep forests of green, fallen trees to leap over, rocks, roots, single-track, mud, stream crossings, and waterfalls. It was epic! It was amazing! It was difficult and that’s what makes it all the more brag-worthy! I’ll be back!

Stats: 32.67 miles. 8,000+ elevation gain. 9 hours 40 minutes. Came in 135th out of 217 who started. (Only 136 finished.) EPIC!

02/7/11

Garmin Connect Info for Orcas

Here’s what my Garmin was able to get from the race. So many trees, so I lost satellite reception several times. Thankfully, others had the better Garmins (310xt) and were able to track the entire course — 32.67 in all. Race director said, “I actually was thinking it was closer to 33.”  So… scroll down and check out the elevation chart. It’s a bunch of insane teeth!!!! Tried to chew us up and spit us out, but we kept coming back for more!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/67111850

02/7/11

Mission Accomplished

I did it! 50K number 2 done! It was so tough! The most challenging course I could even imagine. My Garmin uploaded 17,439 feet of elevation gain. That wasn’t completely accurate (Garmin Connect takes the info and gives a more accurate measurement of about 8,000.) But.. truly since mile 4 and mile 13 each were about 1200 in a mile each (and miles 12-14 were literally straight UP without a flat spot) I nearly keeled over early on and passed out from the elevation change. It was epic! It was cruel! 217 people signed up for this bad boy. 136 made it across the finish line. They say that you can judge the difficulty of an ultra marathon by the number of DNF’s. This one rates wayyyy up there!!!! Not a race for sissies! It took me 9 hours and 40 minutes. I turned my ankle at mile 30 (32.67 miles total in the race.) Had to run the last bit on it. Pretty sore. But, I finished! I did it! I faced a mighty obstacle and overcame it! Not without blood (with I drew in a fall during, believe it or not — mile 2) and sweat and lots of mud!

Detailed race report to come later. But, I will tell you that of the 15 runners that came from Idaho, 1 was out with an injury before the start (stress fracture) – poor guy – but he still was awesome to cheer the rest of us on at the race, 2 dropped out from illness during the race (lots of vomiting, hallucinations, etc) and 2 were pulled from the course when they didn’t make the last aid station before the cut-off time. We had to reach the peak of Mt Constitution (the highest point of the race at mile 22) by 3 pm. I made it in with about half an hour to spare — so just under the wire. Bertha came right after me. She was the last one through. Everyone else on the course was pulled from the race at that point (more than 7 hours into the race.) It was getting dark. I came in second to last of those allowed through — the goal I’d set for myself exactly.  Incredibly proud of myself for facing a giant and conquering it! It was NOT a race for sissies!!!!!! I crossed the finish line in 9:40 (that’s HOURS and minutes!!!)

02/3/11

Almost Time

My plane leaves early tomorrow morning to head to Orcas Island for my 50K in the mountains! It’s supposed to rain and apparently is raining now too. Should make for some slippery, epic, crazy trails!  I’ve got butterflies. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.