Mt Hood 50

50k

“Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further… past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known.”

That’s me up there crossing the 50 mile finish line after 9 hours and 24 minutes of running on the PCT. I’m not going to tell you that it was easy or that I would recommend it for just anyone. I’m not going to tell you that I enjoyed every second of it or that I hated it. But I will break down the day for you in the most honest way possible: it was tough but I was just a little bit tougher.

Here were my goals for the day:
Be light on your feet. Choose your path wisely. When you trip, roll with it. Relax in the midst of effort. Concentration does not mean tension. Dress the part. Ask questions. GO YOUR OWN PACE. If others need to pass, they will. Make adjustments to remain balanced. Pack smart. Have options. Refuel before you are empty. Finish a better woman for having made the adventure.

We started the day at 4 am, packing up the car and getting on the road for a 6:30 race start. Being my first 50 miler, I photo 2was surprisingly calm. When I first began running trails I had to realize that my sense of time had to change, and like in life, I had to accept that worthwhile things can take a long time. It was certainly going to be a long day.

The course was an out and back 28 total and another out and back 22 total. Aid stations were set every 5-6 miles stocked with Gu’s, s-caps, pb&j, chips, coke, gummy bears. You name it, it was probably there. My first 25 miles were relatively quick. I met some great people on the trail that carried me at a solid pace, but I backed down when I realized that 5th female was probably jumping the gun a little. (Who was I kidding? I NEEDED to slow it down!)

I would say miles 25-35 were the most difficult for me. I coasted into the start/finish 28 mile station and John greeted me with my electrolytes and a big grin. (How could that adorable face not have cheered me up!) The 2nd half of the race was the meaty part, extreme elevation gains and drops made it difficult to keep a steady pace. I walked the ups and ran the downs. I was tired. When I reached the 39 mile turnaround I made a decision to let my mind wander a little. The next thing I knew I had 5.5 miles until the finish. My Garmin was dying but I caught myself checking it anyways, not because I wanted to see how much further I had to go, but because I wondered how much time I had left to enjoy. Those last few miles were a victory lap for me. A pat on the back for getting up at 4:30am every day to run in the pouring rain, to miss dinners and fun weekends because mine were spent on the trails, to squeeze in mileage whenever I could so that I could teach spin classes, hike mountains, and still have a life, and to feel fresh and light on my feet after 47 miles of running. I wanted to enjoy every last step. My legs felt strong. My feet weren’t achy. My quads didn’t hurt. I can’t really compare those last few miles to anything– it was a very emotional (evidence above) and a very proud experience for me.

I crossed the finish line 3/18 in my age group, 7/48 female, and 50/127 overall with plenty left in my legs. 9 hours and 24 glorious minutes to run 50 miles.  I would do it all again in a heartbeat…

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and I definitely will. Love to all of you for your unbelievable support!!! I think I’ll take it easy this week 🙂

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the taper

So here we are. Race week.

Unfortunately, this is my least favorite part of this whole thing… I hate the taper. I am the type of person that enjoys training for a race far over race day itself, so when the taper shows up between the part I like and the part I don’t, I am not myself. I am hungry, achy, lazy, grumpy, restless and impatient. My mind wanders. I can’t focus long. I can’t sleep. I definitely prefer training over this any day. I enjoy long runs with my friends. I like big meals and hot showers. I revel in getting dirty and then clean. Eating whatever I want. Logging the miles and feeling tired but stronger by the week.

Race day doesn’t even come close to being as fun either. There’s the early alarm. I barely sleep. Mad rush to eat, pack the car and get to the start. Race bibs. Pins. Watches. Drop bags. Other, super fit, runners running around looking ‘ready’ and fast. A lot of hurry up and wait. Gu and gear and gun… boom, it starts.

Honestly, it isn’t fun for me (not entirely) until I finish. I like it better in the rear view mirror. The memories that come flooding back of the countless training runs, how difficult it was to climb that last hill and how exciting it was to see people you love cheer you on through something so challenging. BUT since this isn’t really a ‘race’ for me, it’s a test of endurance, I have decided to embrace the taper. To eat when I am hungry. To rest when I can. To enjoy being showered and fresh for a few days. I am going to rely on my training, plan early so I am not rushed, stretch it out and enjoy staying off of these tired feet. I’m going to focus on building up the efforts ahead instead of tearing myself down with fear.

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And then, with every last thing I have in me, I am going to run 50 miles around Mt Hood.

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30s and crawfish and HEAT

I blinked and it was July.

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Last week I turned 30 and I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome than spending it with good friends at home eating one of my favorite meals and drinking champagne. Saturday morning I woke up early, crept downstairs and whisked out the door for my last big training run. I ran the first couple of hours by myself then met the Portland Marathon Clinic for the last three. The sun was out, the volunteer stations were necessary and our pace group had a blast.

That afternoon John and I picked up 50 lbs of crawfish and helped throw a welcome party for the new residents. He started his THIRD year of residency on Monday. Proud, proud, PROUD of that guy!!! (On a side note I am very excited that one resident is from Mississippi and her boyfriend went to Alabama–football season party plans are already underway!)

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crawfish boil

On Sunday, Sally went with me for a site visit in wine country. I have a place in mind for the wedding but there are many big things I need to decide on. Turns out, planning a wedding is so much fun! I had no idea I would be this into it!

Eleven days until the race and it is HOT here. We do not have air conditioning, just one floor fan we purchased last year. I went to get us another one yesterday and the entire fan isle was sold out. Hoping the heat is gone by race day.

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I am off work for the rest of the week and will be taking my running super easy, hoping it keeps my nerves from getting the best of me. We are planning to camp around Oregon for the upcoming holiday and are looking forward to staying up late by a campfire and getting in some great hikes.

As my co-workers have been telling me… I don’t need any sparklers this year 🙂 Happy 4th of July!

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