Race Report

Race Report: Inaugural Revel Mt. Lemmon Marathon

….and My Story Runs On….

I have learned that I have to write these within a few days of the event or I lose the event mojo 😉  Like my normal race reports, I’ll break this down into a few sections so you can skip through the parts you need to know about depending on why you are reading this. Continue Reading →


Race Report

Monument Valley 50K: Race Report

….and My Story Runs On….

Wow! Where to even begin?  I know I have to keep this succinct but very hard to do, especially for those of you that want to get a detailed report about the race and what to expect if you plan on doing it. Continue Reading →


Race Report

Race Report: McDowell Mountain Frenzy-5th 50K & a PR!

….and My Story Runs On….

I still can’t believe this was my 5th 50K!  Last year this was my 2nd one and I blogged about that one too.

This was a training run for my first 100K.  My training plan called for 20 miles on Saturday and 10 on Sunday so I combined them in one day (although these were “Aravaipa” miles so it was actually 32.2 on my TomTom).

Since I had some trouble with this one last year (you can’t really try to PR (personal record) different trail races due to the variety in the terrain) and I was redoing the same one, I decided I really wanted to do better than last year. As I set this goal in my head, I was also detached from it.  If I did PR, great but if I didn’t, I knew there would be lessons to learn (always!) so that took some of the pressure off.

One of the hardest things for me to do is run my own race. I tell people to do this all the time but as a coach and someone who knows a lot of runners, it’s hard not to get caught up in hanging with friends and helping them out.  So I had to make a decision that this was going to be MY RACE.

This is what I have on the back of my The Running University shirts ;)

This is what I have on the back of my The Running University shirts 😉

Leading up to the race, I did a lot of mental preparation.  Since I knew the course, I reviewed it again, reread my blog from last year and started making a strategy. Thankfully I didn’t have the “girlie” issues from last year so that would shave some time off for sure.  I also looked at the aid station locations and I remember running out of water on the toughest part of the course. I decided I wasn’t going to stop at the first aid station and I would run as much as possible on the easier part of the course so I could hike the big hill. I took the day off before the race and relaxed and got mentally psyched up (McDowell Mountains are one of my favorite places to trail run).

I started the race with my friends Katie and Mitzi (it was their first 50K!) and Will. We had nice pace going and it was fun to start out relaxed with friends!  I told them that I had a plan though and that I wouldn’t be stopping at the first aid station. We split off at mile 7.

They finished their first 50K! They are now ultra runners!

They finished their first 50K! They are now ultra runners!

I remember staying very focused on my ChiRunning form a lot (as always!) so I could be as efficient as possible. I made sure to refill  my water so I wouldn’t make the same mistake as last year since there was an 11 mile gap between aid stations and it was the hardest part of the course.

The one thing I don’t like about trying to PR, is that I tend to be much more tied to my watch.  I’ve had some of my best runs when I’m not paying attention to it as it can be mental stress added on that keeps you from relaxing. Knowing this, I tried not to be too focused on it but I had an average mile that I wanted to keep to reach my goal so I was more engaged with it than usual.  I knew I had to stay ahead of the game because the hill was coming. The trail started getting rockier and I remember this from last year. Not my favorite terrain to be running on as it’s harder but I know I need to keep practicing this for my 100K race.  I ChiWalked the entire hill with a few spurts of running when there was a little flat area or a little downhill.  I used my arms so much to help me up the hill that my biceps were sore the next day! I’ve never had this from a race before but this is part of the ChiRunning strategy. Use the arms more and legs less. The downhill was rocky so I wasn’t able to go as fast as I normally like to.

Hills...

Hills…

More hills...

More hills…

I got to the aid station at mile 24 where I got so see my friends. I love our local running community and there are always so many familiar faces either running or volunteering! I was still pacing to PR but I was definitely getting tired at this point.  More rocky uphill and then some good downhill that was rocky on and off. My pace was slowing down between the rocks and being tired.   I always go back to my ChiRunning form as soon as I start feeling tired. Outside of always checking in on my postural alignment (first thing to go when you are doing long distance running is your posture), my cadence is what really helped me out.  Every time I felt my legs get heavy, I would increase my cadence (strides per minute or foot turnover) and I immediately felt a relief.  There is a magic number of 170-180 (not unique to ChiRunning but recommended by just about every running form) and harder to maintain on trail. Most people run at lower cadence and this wastes a lot of energy because you are holding your body weight on each leg for longer periods of time which is inefficient.

I finally texted my friends that were at the finish line and told them I had 3 miles to go and someone please make sure I had a beer at the finish line 😉  I get to the last aid station and the guy said I had 3.2 more to go! What?! That was one more mile than a 50K.  I forgot to put this in my blog last year so I forgot about this…I was a bit irritated and it made that last few miles harder mentally.  I don’t normally listen to music but I put my playlist on my phone on speaker so I would be a bit distracted.  At about mile 30 you can hear the finish line and it’s a mind f%$k because you just want to be done at this point.  This part of the trail was up and down and it finished with a nasty steep hill.  My friend Bill was at the top yelling “hammer it” which really helped me push through it!

I could hear my friends cheering me on and I crossed the finish line (Chris, thanks for the Koffee Kolsch!) with a huge smile on my face. I didn’t have the official results but I knew I had PR’d. It was about a 34 minute PR which translates to a minute a mile for 32 miles of improvement!  Pretty proud of that! I will say that I was hoping to do better but I will take it!

One of the coolest things is that my friend Jenni even made me a medal!  She was making one for Katie and Mitzi. Some people run for bling and I normally don’t but I knew she was making a few for them and I wanted in on it too.  At Aravaipa races you get a pint glass when you finish (I have a bunch of them) but getting a homemade medal from Jenni was the icing on the cake! (and she isn’t crafty either!)

Love my medal! The only one I've received for a 50K ;)

Love my medal! The only one I’ve received for a 50K 😉

Running never ceases to amaze me! So much to keep learning about myself and the sport.  Having a plan doesn’t always pay off but I feel the mental preparation ahead of time was crucial to my success. As always, ChiRunning and the advice my nutritionist gave me for my 50 miler were two key components to my success.

What is your strategy when you want to try and PR a race?

These are the results from my TomTom.

3rd aid station with more friends!

3rd aid station with more friends!

Terry and Raul at the 2nd aid station!

Terry and Raul at the 2nd aid station!

Ila! She is 70 years old and I've blogged about her before. After this 50K she was driving to Santa Monica to do a half marathon the next day!

Ila! She is 70 years old and I’ve blogged about her before. After this 50K she was driving to Santa Monica to do a half marathon the next day!

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Pass Mountain 25K Race or training run?

….and My Story Runs On….

This morning, I did Aravaipa Running’s Pass Mountain 25K (15.5 miles).
I picked it for a few reasons:

  • I needed mileage as I train for my next big race (another blog on that later)
  • I happened to be available on this Saturday to do it
  • Most importantly, this race was my inaugural debut into trail races back on 11/19/2011 and I haven’t done it since.

I remember back in 2011 how scared I was to do it. I was training for my first marathon (Lost Dutchman, it fell on 41st birthday 5 years ago) but I had also just come back from my first ever ChiRunning Instructor weekend.  It was my first time meeting Danny & Katherine Dreyer and the first time I got to meet a bunch of other ChiRunning instructors from all over the world.  Needless to say, I was geeked out on ChiRunning and was excited/nervous about my first trail race. (I honestly can’t remember if I did any training on trails at this point. I want to say I had but I was not as experienced as a runner or coach at this point so not sure!)  I remember how hard it was…but my favorite part was getting to the last 1/2 mile that was on road and seeing my Dad there with his bike as he rode by my side for that last little bit!

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My Daddy and I!

Fast forward to this year.  Not sure why I haven’t done this more often since 2011 but this year was my first time back.  The course was slightly different (it was a 26K in 2011) but most of it was the same.

So my first dilemma was:  do I go and preview the course in advance or not?  I decided to do it and here is a quick 2 min video about that experience:

I am so glad that I did it now!

I didn’t preview the first half of the course because I knew it would be easier but grateful that I did the 2nd half as it proved to help me a lot today.  Not so much physically but mentally.  

  • I knew when the hard parts would be so I conserved my energy on those by ChiWalking more. (yes, I have no problem walking in races either!)
  • I knew one of my bigger challenges would be part of the end of the course because the single track trail was very close to the edge and I am afraid of heights.
  • I also knew that the last 2-3 miles were runnable downhill miles and I was ready to crank on those as soon as I could.  Ironically, my fastest mile was my last one!

As a running coach, I hear people get nervous about races all the time.  I remember I used to do this a lot more…I’m sure some of it comes with experience.  For me it was my frame of mind….I never felt I was actually racing when I did this run today.

I was hanging out with my friend Heather, got to chit chat with a few other people along the way, took some pics (see below) and we just took our time knowing we had plenty of it before the cutoff.

The great thing about treating a race like a training run is that there is no pressure. I also love races as training runs because there are other people out on the course (instead of running alone), they are supported so I know I will have aid stations with water and food (best aid stations ever!) and I get a shirt and pint glass! (50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running) I didn’t have to pay for this race because I volunteer with Aravaipa quite a bit so I get race credits…so for me, it was a win-win for sure today.

I didn’t go back to see how I performed in 2011 because it was a different course and really didn’t care.

So my lesson for this race was that I was glad that I choose to do it as a training run rather than race it.  This may not always be my choice but I’m really glad that I did because I had a blast …AND I felt amazing at the end which is always one of my goals: to finish strong and feeling good!

Do you race or use them as training runs? Would love to read your comments below!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Cholla forest!

Cholla forest!

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)

 

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

“That’s our running coach!”

….and My Story Runs On….

Yep, first time ever lying in a cot getting help from the medics…..

Not my typical post race beer photo opp!

Not my typical post race beer photo opp!

Clearly not doing too bad as I’m smiling here but never had this experience before.  Of course, I need to share my learning lessons. I wish I could’ve taken the picture of my peeps all hovering over me, teasing me, “this is our running coach!.”  It was a pretty comical moment…but grateful that I can have these moments so I can be a better runner and coach.  There is always a lesson to learn!

This (Aravaipa’s Javelina Jangover) was my best race last year, I had a great blog/vlog about it too. I hadn’t really been training for this race but I was definitely prepared to do the mileage.  What I didn’t prepare for though, was the plan to PR (personal record) my time from last year.  My little sister, who is a great athlete, decided to switch from the 7K to the 25K to pace me and help me (this was her first 25K trail race!)

It was her first 25K race and at night too!

It was her first 25K race and at night too!

My plan for longer distances is to always take it easier for the first half so I conserve energy…then kick it up during the 2nd half which on this course tends to be downhill. I was mentally prepared to follow this plan but I always know that when I’m trying to keep a specific pace (to PR), I tend to be slave to my watch (some of my best runs happen when I’m not doing this...) and keep checking my pace. I still ChiWalked on the uphills because I conserve more energy and can do it just as fast so might as well be walking.

I did notice that I was thirstier than normal so I kept drinking.  We got to the aid station at mile 8.5 and put more water in my hydration pack. Had a few pieces of potato/salt and a shot of coke and ginger ale (this usually helps with a bit of energy/caffeine boost).  A lot of Team RWB peeps were there volunteering so it’s always great to see your friends and get some energy from them!

The course was now mainly downhill so I started trying to get my average pace up as I monitored my watch.  I was averaging an 11:40 for a bit. One thing I know about myself is that I don’t like being uncomfortable when I run…I know I could probably push myself more (I prefer to use my ChiRunning technique to improve my performance not muscling through it).  And I was very focused on my form: I continued to use the mantra Align & Relax, use by arms for the uphills as well as to counterbalance my forward lean and did as much active and passive pelvic rotation as possible to keep my legs from working harder. This was working great until…..

I started realizing I just couldn’t drink enough water to quench my thirst. My poor sister kept saying “come on, we only have a 5K left” “you can push harder” and all of the sudden my legs weren’t feeling it anymore and my stomach starting bugging me. I felt like I needed to throw up but couldn’t do it. When I realized there was no way I was beating my time, I decided I needed to stop running. At this point I just wanted it to be over.  I was grateful to have my sister there with me and we walked the last mile.

Those of you that know me, know that one of the things I enjoy most after a run/race is a nice cold beer.  You know I wasn’t not myself when the thought of a beer made me want to throw up!

We got to the medics who were amazing.  Checked my pulse and my blood pressure (all good there!)…they lay me down on a cot and elevated my legs so the blood could flow back to my stomach. Thanks to all my friends that came by to check in on me…at least I wasn’t one of the runners getting an IV and being taken away with an ambulance.

So, what happened?  I had to think about my last few days and here is my assessment:

  • In retrospect, I didn’t hydrate the way I normally do a few days before a race.  I was at a Toastmaster contest from 8am-1pm yesterday and only drank half a bottle of water but drank double the amount of coffee that I normally do.  The night before, I was hanging with some friends, had a few beers (not a big deal but probably didn’t help with the hydration issue) and ate a lot of salty foods.
  • I tried pushing too much at the beginning. My fastest mile was the 2nd one and I remember not being able to get my heart rate down until we stopped at the aid station for awhile. (I also had a double espresso a few hours before the race which probably didn’t help either). It was also hotter than I was expecting.
  • Basically I pushed my body more than I should’ve and wasn’t prepared for it physically.

I have no regrets….running is always a way to learn more about your body and yourself and last night was just another learning lesson for next time!  I finished with a 3:32 (last year was a 3:16).

1st half of the race..didn't realize until I looked at this as I'm writing that my 2nd mile was my fastest

1st half of the race..didn’t realize until I looked at this that my 2nd mile was my fastest

 

2nd half or the race..clearly faster than the first..

2nd half or the race..clearly faster than the first..except the last mile!

Any big learning lessons you’ve had from a run recently?

 

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race Report: Capitol Reef 50K with Ultra Adventures

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….and My Story Runs On….

On Saturday, I completed my hardest race to date…The choice words for the day were FUCKING BRUTAL (there are a few more swear words in this blog)…..it was also the most humbling race experience I had and one of the most gorgeous courses I’ve been on.  It was Ultra Adventures’ Capitol Reef 50K. Now I get why they are called “Adventures”. You may remember that I did my first 50 miler with them at Antelope Canyon. This was the highest elevation I’ve ever ran in with the steepest uphills and downhills I’ve ever done in my life.  Based on my standards, mostly an unrunnable course as you’ll read and see my pics below.  Before I break this down, I found this photo online yesterday as I was googling “mental toughness” and dang it, it pretty much summarizes my event!

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I was invited by a friend to do this race awhile back and I read some blogs and some info about it so I knew it was not going to be an easy one. Click here to see the map and elevation profile. Looked like a great opportunity to visit a new place I’ve never been to (one of the main reasons I love ultra/trail running is that it brings me to places I would not visit otherwise).  I was ready for the day to finally be here as you may remember my last blog post on Burning Out.

Our road trip up to Capitol Reef included a quick stop at Monument Valley which I had never seen before.  It was absolutely stunning and I am sure I’ll be doing that race at some point as well.

We went and grabbed our packets on Friday and had the honor of meeting Arnulfo Quimare, the famous Tarahumara Indian from the Born To Run book. I already had Caballo Blanco’s autograph in my book so I added his as well.

On race day, we arrived at the finish line where we would be bused up to the start line for this point to point race.  This is the 2nd time that my friend/trail wife, Elaine and I ended up wearing the same shirt…which fit well with this race #RunSteepGetHigh.  Matt Gunn, the race director, gave a briefing at the beginning and I tried not to worry about some of the words he was using like “bushwacking” and “boulder mountain”.

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Run Steep Get High 😉

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Obligatory selfie with Elaine and Lori (this was her idea in the first place)

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Matt Gunn, race director giving the briefing.

The three of us agreed ahead of time that it was each woman for herself and if we ended up together that would be fine but we were “running” our own race.  My goal was to finish and not got lost (this is their 2nd annual and blog reports from last year mentioned people getting lost.  Matt does a great job in taking feedback from his post race surveys as the course was marked very well in my opinion.  Actually looking for those pink flags helped keep me focus and made it “funner” by seeming like a bit of a scavenger hunt.)  The 50K course had an 11 hour cutoff (my average has been a little over 8 hours) and Ultrasignup forecasted that I would end at 11:45 (not sure what their algorithms are based on) and I was determined to prove them wrong.

I knew the first 8 miles were going to be an uphill climb so my plan was to hike this entire part to save energy so I could “run” later. These pictures don’t do it justice. I will say that I could feel the elevation change but it didn’t effect as much as I thought (giving some credit to some exercises I’ve been working on from The Oxygen Advantage book).

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The scenery was breathtaking and such a different experience from running in the desert which is my usual trail running play ground. The first half of the course was a combination of beautiful meadows (mainly single track but fairly runnable although you couldn’t see the terrain under the grass sometimes so you had to be careful for rocks); rocky trails; and boulders:  IMG_9149

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Cow bones?? Dead trail runners??

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more nonrunnable terrain…for me anyways!

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Caught Arnulfo with some amazing running form in his sandals!

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Seriously??

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Channeling my Spiderman skills again..

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Boulder Mountain…this seemed like at least a mile of this type of terrain.

Lori and I “ran” together up to about Mile 14.  We were bumming a bit as we had done some good training and really just wanted to run.  We would find a good runnable trail but then 50 feet later it became unrunnable again (although clearly runnable for the many other experienced runners that are used to this type of terrain). She got ahead of me and at this point I was comfortable being alone as I knew the course was marked well and I was not worried about getting lost.

More beautiful water scenery on this course with lakes and creeks…I used to be “afraid” of crossing creeks and we had several of those. When it worked out, I would use rocks or logs to cross but I got over that fear after some of our Black Canyon trail runs so when it didn’t work out, I would just walk right through them. The cold water felt good on my feet and I knew I wouldn’t get blisters as I’ve done this several times in my shoes before.

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I finally got to the Donkey Reservoir Mile 19 Aid Station.  A lady said that my friend Lori was about 2 minutes ahead of me but I was ready to take a little break here.  There was a 4pm time cutoff at this aid station and I got there around 2:30pm so all was good at this point. I had been following my nutrition plan and was feeling great (outside of being bummed that I wasn’t running as much as I wanted to).  The volunteers were great. I ate some quesadillas and had a little Coke (I only drink Coke on trail aid stations and it always hits the spot!). Got my water pack filled up and off I went. The next aid station was going to be 10 miles away so I was prepared for that…or so I thought…
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I noticed the battery in my Tom Tom was close to dying. I wasn’t too worried about it at this point as I was comfortable finding the course markers.  It died at about mile 21 and I was fine for a bit. This is when my mind started playing tricks on me. It was really hard to gauge how long it would take me to get to the next aid station. I wasn’t doing my normal pace for sure and it’s so hard to do math at this point on the trail.  I started doing one of my favorite ChiRunning meditations on the 5 senses to keep me present and distracted. I focused on all my senses:
Eyes: I had to keep my eyes on the trail a lot since it was pretty technical but I loved to see the pretty flowers, the views, the pink markers that were guiding my way…
Ears: I could hear the birds chirping, the wind in the trees, the water flowing through creeks..my heart rate going up on the uphills (at points it sounded like it would jump out of my chest!)..at one point I played music on my Iphone via the speaker so I could still be part of nature..I kept it low but needed some more distraction to get through it…I could hear footsteps behind me once in awhile as runners were passing me (this messed with my head a bit too as 50 mile people who started an hour before me and had completed more mileage were actually running this course…I knew they had more experience running in this terrain but still!!…)…I could hear my breath as I was focusing on my cadence and breathing together..
Smell: I could smell cow patties but never saw any cows which was weird (I heard some too) and my favorite was going through a few patches of pink flowers (which could be easily mistaken as the pink course markers) and the smell of them was overwhelming yet soothing.
Touch:  sometimes the wind would pick up and I could feel it on my skin…the sun on my skin…being brushed by the bushes on the side (wait for the bushwhacking part in a few)
Not much to do with Taste outside of the ginger candy I picked up at the last aid station.
Even though this worked for periods of time, the non runnable parts seemed to never end…and the steep uphills and downhills continued…THEN we got into the bushwhacking part Matt had mentioned in the briefing…

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Can you see the pink marker in the top left hand side of the photo? You can barely see the trail but we were literally going through shrubs..so hard to see the ground and run this part too..

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Do you see the pink marker in the top left hand side of the photo again? Yes, I crawled over logs and this was not the only place..

I kept wandering when the heck I would get to the aid station at Mile 29. There were several times that I could feel a lump in my throat and I just wanted to cry.  Mentally I can usually get through races by working on the meditation above or just enjoying nature and knowing that I am doing what I love to do most: run around in nature….but by this point, I was so freaking ready for it to be over…a few times I just wanted to sit down and have a helicopter come and get me..I’m not a religious person but I prayed to God, Jesus, and Mother Mary several times..and then there was Rikki (bottom line, my friend Lori M bought these for our adventure..there is more to that story but I’ll save that for another blog post)
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A few times (and yes, I realized I was talking out loud) I said “I just want my Mommy”..or I would think about my boyfriend and how bad I just wanted to be in his arms…I’ve never felt like I wanted something to be over so bad before…Every time I turned a corner, I kept hoping for that dang aid station…I had to be close….
Finally I reached it….it was 6pm and I had been on my feet for 10 hours.  The volunteer said that there was only 3.8 more miles to go…yeah! but were they runnable miles?  He said yes but again, I couldn’t rely on his idea of runnable as clearly my definition is a bit different.  I had Coke and M+Ms and took off.  If it were truly runnable, no matter how tired I was, I could do this!  I know I can run 4 miles in an hour! And thankfully it was mostly runnable!  Heck, all of the sudden there was sand and I was so happy to run in it!
These were some of the views from the last part of the race:

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Since my Tom Tom died, I was using my phone for time…I kept pulling it out to check and see how I was doing..I am sure if I had the info, my last 4 miles were the fastest in this race…I still had to walk a few times and at this point, my goal was to finish within the 11 hour cutoff…that’s all I kept thinking about…I finally saw the road that we would be crossing before the finish line..my phone time was 7pm so I’m thinking it’s too late…I wasn’t going to have the same epic finish as my 50 miler…but I kept running as fast as my legs could take me as I was SOOOOOO ready for this to be done! I couldn’t wait to see my friends at the end…I finally see the finish line and the clock…the clock is at 10:59:55 and I’m running as fast as I could…the seconds were counting down…I crossed the finish line at 11:00:01 (unofficial time)…and then there I was standing there, finally done with this darn race and no one was there to greet me! Where the heck were my friends?  Lori M came up right after and was so bummed she missed my finish..apparently Lori C had told them I was about an hour behind her so they figured they had time (it was a long day for all of us so I think we were all confused by this point!)…..it didn’t matter…I WAS FINALLY DONE WITH IT!

I realize this is a long blog post but here are my Thorns, Roses and Learning Lessons (in addition to what was already mentioned)
Thorns:

  • I would train more on technical trails (not that I plan on doing this one over again), read more blog posts about the race and be better prepared in general
  • I didn’t get much sleep before the race..I had a total of 14 hours the 3 nights before the race and I know that effected me.

Roses:

  • ChiRunning:  I worked on my form as much as I could and I know that helped me mentally and physically! Used lots of the hill technique, arm swing and lots of work with my breathing/cadence especially when I could get into a running groove.  Lots of form work with my walking as well.
  • Nutrition: I followed the same plan I did for my 50 miler and never bonked. Felt good all the way!
  • Scenery: even though it was tough terrain, it was amazing scenery!

Learning lessons:

  • Running is always a metaphor for life. I learned that when I put my mind to something, no matter how hard I can do it. This race.pushed my mental limits like no other race has before.  This will certainly prepare me for any hard life experiences!
  • Being alone was hard but knowing what to do helped me. Make sure you have a plan on what to do if you get close to a break down. I’d love to hear what other ultra runners (or anyone doing long events) does when they know they are so close to that point.
  • I overcame a lot of fears and mental breakdowns…during this race I became my own inspiration! I don’t mean to brag but every time I made it through another mental mind fuck, I was cheering myself on. When it’s just you out there, you need to dig deep (like the photo above) so you can call yourself a bad ass!  I am so proud of myself for getting through that….even though my official time was an 11:03:03 and I was 2nd to last..I FUCKING FINISHED!!

Would I ever do this one again?  HELL NO! As a matter of fact, if someone told me I had to redo the Antelope Canyon 50 miler in sand or Capitol Reef 50K, hands down I would be doing Antelope!  But this race had a huge impact on my character..sounds cheesy but I’ve been feeling like my soul was shaken up a bit …I know that during those 11 hours, my mind/body/spirit grew a little bit more…isn’t that why we do these things? To reach out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves?  To see how far we can push our body, mind and spirit and conquer things we never thought possible?

I absolutely love the Grand Circle Trail series. Matt and his crew do an amazing job. My goal is to do all of them at some point since they are all strategically placed in amazing locations…who knows which one will be next?

I tweaked this quote: “A mind, body and spirit that are stretched by new experiences, can never go back to their old dimensions.”

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Finishers! 3 of us did the 50K and the other 2 did the half marathon (which was brutal too!)

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seriously gorgeous views!

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Yes! Not only did I inspire myself but love to hear that I can inspire other people to do epic shit too!

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

….and My Story Runs On….

Here is a list of my blog posts that I am writing after my first 50 Mile race.  It’s combination of what I learned, what I am grateful for and a way for me to keep the memory alive.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life! My goal is to have 50 of these 😉

Updated on 7/30/17:  I’m realizing this just isn’t going to happen.  It was a great idea when I had it but I have other ideas for blogs, etc and too much time has gone by now.  I have found that writing blogs works best for me when I feel inspired and too much time has gone by now to continue with this series.  I hope you still enjoy these 😉

Race Report: Antelope Canyon: My 1st 50 Miler (with pictures!)
50 Miles of Gratitude: (1) ChiRunning
50 Miles of Gratitude: (2) Nutrition
50 Miles of Gratitude: (3) Training
50 Miles of Gratitude: (4) Massage
50 Miles of Gratitude: (5) My Trail Wife
50 Miles of Gratitude: (6) My Boyfriend
50 Miles of Gratitude: (7) My Epic Finish Line
50 Miles of Gratitude: (8) Altras and Meeting the CoFounder
50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running
50 Miles of Gratitude: (10) Burning Out
50 Miles of Gratitude: (11) My Celebratory Tattoo
50 Miles of Gratitude: (12) Training & XTERRA events 

 

I've learned this... #neversaynever

I’ve learned this… #neversaynever

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (3) Training

….and My Story Runs On….

Another reason for my success was sticking to my training plan.  There were a few times that I was not able to stick to the plan but they were few and far between.  This was by far, the hardest part of the entire process.

It was not the training that was hard but the amount of time it took. I knew it was going to be a big commitment but when you add the mileage, and add driving back and forth to trail heads, it was a part time job.  In addition to the time, it was hard to focus on anything mentally after a few long days of running.  My business suffered a bit from it and I spent less time with my boyfriend as well. Thankfully he is very supportive and that will be another blog post 😉  You have no idea how tempted I am right now to sign up for another 50 miler this year while my body/mind are trained!  But I know I need to get refocused on my business and I truly need to be patient with the process.  I see too  many people get too excited and then things start  falling apart. I want to keep running for the rest of my life and don’t want to burn my body or mind out!

I followed a training plan from Ultraladies. It’s a cool schedule generator so you plug in the date of your event and it spits out a training plan. I started training for my 2nd 50K and then switched over to the 50 Mile training. Here is my spreadsheet (50K on one sheet and 50 miles on another).  My goal was to follow the plan as closely as I could but life gets in the way sometimes. If I couldn’t follow on the specific days, my goal was to try and meet the weekly miles and make sure that I was able to get my back to back long runs in. If you talk to any ultra runner, most of them will tell you that back to back long runs are crucial as it’s the way that you train to run on tired legs.

The other thing to do is make sure to find out the elevation profile of your run and what conditions you will be running in.  Everything I read about Antelope Canyon was that it was 40 miles of sand. So I did quite a bit of training in the sand although the sand was coarser in our park washes than the fine sand in Page. I also made it a point to focus on ChiWalking and hiking. The idea was to get as much time on my feet so these helped quite a bit as well.

I was worried that 31 miles was my longest run and I didn’t know what it would feel like to run 20 more on the same day….but it really did come together on race day.  My legs were tired but no where near as bad as I thought it would be.

I always tell my runners, you can go out and complete a race with little training, but how do you want to feel during and after?  Training is an important part of any race, both mentally and physically.

I found this awhile ago and it cracked me up…if you are an ultra runner, you know you can relate 😉

 

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (1) ChiRunning

….and My Story Runs On….

I think one of the reasons I want to write a post a day for 50 days is because I want to keep reliving this amazing, life changing experience I had! I promised these to be short and sweet.  Please note that these are not necessarily in any order although ChiRunning is in the top 5 reasons why I had a successful race.  How do I measure my success?  Well, not by speed, obviously! I measure success based on how I felt during training, the race and after.  Although there are several other factors that contributed to my success, ChiRunning is a HUGE part of it.

It was just last year that I suffered from plantar fasciitis and had to take several months off from running due to overuse and not listening to my body.

I would never even consider doing this race if it weren’t for ChiRunning.  If you are a ChiRunner already, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I highly suggest you look into it.

First and foremost, it’s about proper running form. Technique is the key to success with any sport.  In ChiRunning, you learn to minimize using your legs to run and use your core and gravity to do the work for you. When you use your legs less, you are less prone to injury and you use less energy which in turn can translate to better recovery time, speed and/or distance.

Most people run upright, overstride in front of them and use their legs way too much! This causes most running injuries and is an inefficient way to move forward.

Most people run upright, overstride in front of them and use their legs way too much! This causes most running injuries and is an inefficient way to move forward.

I had no pain while training and I was averaging 50+ miles a week for awhile.  I had no pain during the race at all even though we were in sand most of the time and climbing because I knew how to use my body properly for these (you learn to adapt your technique to the environment you are running in).  Of course, I did quite a bit of ChiWalking as well!  I’ll admit that the day after my body was a bit sore and I was waddling around but on Monday, I barely felt any soreness. I know this is also due to my conditioning but I know my technique had a lot to do with it.

One of the reasons I love ChiRunning, is that the more you focus on it, the better you become at it. I’m a Master Instructor and have been teaching it for 6 years. I focused heavily on my form on my training runs with my ChiSchool audios and ChiRunning app and have felt a huge improvement in my form and efficiency.  I felt great pretty much the whole time during the 50 miler.

ChiRunning is great for beginners wanting to learn to properly the first time around and also elite athletes that are looking at getting better/faster at their sport.  As we say, “Practice Makes Progress” and you never know how a little tweak in your arm swing or your head position can negatively impact your running form….and when you are running 50 miles, you want to be as efficient as possible.

ChiRunning just used this comment in one of their facebook posts and I wanted to share: “ChiRunning and Total Immersion share the belief that you are ALWAYS working on your technique, because you can always improve on some level, whether it’s getting more physically fit, focusing your mind, elevating your mood or learning the art of internal stillness in the midst of activity.”

And for the record, ChiRunning has changed my run but more importantly my life in so many ways! I highly recommend checking it out if you are a runner! Imagine the possibilities!

I personally don't want running to be hard...why would I keep doing it? The easier it is on my mind and body, the more likely I'll keep doing it and be able to do it!

I personally don’t want running to be hard…why would I keep doing it? The easier it is on my mind and body, the more likely I’ll keep doing it and be able to do it!

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

 

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Getting High….and a Meltdown

….and My Story Runs On….

Forget about writing every week for my first 50 Miler…there is no time for that! It seems I can barely get my weekly runs in and my work done these days! But I had to share about my weekend experience….because I was on a serious high on Saturday and a serious low on Sunday….and realized this is probably a normal thing that could happen while training for a 50 Miler or endurance event? Anyone else relate?

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Getting High!  Saturday I did Aravaipa’s Coldwater Rumble 20 Mile race. My plan was to do this as a training run (always great to have aid stations and be around other runners for a change!).  I was oddly psyched up for this event.  20 milers don’t seem like a big deal anymore (yikes! did I just say that?!) and I love Estrella Regional Park (my old stomping grounds). My plan was to be as strategic as possible with my energy conservation on this run.  I got a good nights sleep and was excited to see some friends that morning, including Bob, one of my client’s who was doing his first trail race, the 20K.  Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about my best run ever but I just had another one!  Here are some reasons I had a runner’s high all day on Saturday and why I yelled across the finish line “I feel f%$#king awesome!”:

  • Like Javelina Jangover (my best run to date), I planned.  I knew I had to strategize and manage my energy for the race.  It started out on a hill so I ChiWalked right away rather than wasting energy so soon in the race. I looked behind me and I was 5th to last…everyone was ahead but I didn’t care.
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Hill at the start of the race!

  • I didn’t want to race the event but I did want to see how well I could do. I was alone most of the race which was perfectly fine with me.  I focused on my form, took in the breathtaking views, listened to music once in awhile and all around just focused on enjoying myself.  I’ve been listening to a lot of the audios from the ChiSchool on my canal runs so I kept focusing on my form and most importantly, trying to stay as energy efficient as possible.  My race performance is a clear example of how I am deepening my running practice.
  • 2nd Aid Station was at Mile 11 and since I was half way, I knew I could start tapping into that reserved energy I had been conserving all along.
  • I’ll be doing a separate blog post about my nutrition (after my 50 miler) but this has been huge for me.  I’ve been working with Brooke from Fuel to Finish.  Long story short, I’ve been feeling amazing during the week, during my runs and races.  I’ve never been this dialed in to fueling my body for performance and it feels amazing.
  • My last 9 miles were amazing. I still ChiWalked up the hills but I was very focused on changing my technique based on the environment that was coming at me.  I was paying attention to my pace and my goal was to be comparable to Javelina which was a 13:03 for 15 miles (although I was detached enough by listening to my body first)  It was hard to tell who I was passing since there were several distances going on.
  • The last few miles were downhill and used up all that free energy to my advantage.  I was truly feeling f%$#king awesome by the time I crossed the finish line.  I felt strong and was happy knowing that I could do more miles at that point if I had to (pretty soon I will be!)
  • When I checked my GPS, I found out that my fastest mile was my last one!  and when I checked my placement in the event (not normally a big deal for me but was curious), I was 56th out of 80 people.  By conserving my energy and being strategic, I was able to get in front of 24 people.  I posted this quote on my facebook the other day and the highlighted is definitely how I measured my success on this race!

“Some runners judge performance by whether they won or lost. Others define success or failure by how fast they ran, whether or not they matched their time expectations. Still others judge performance by how good they felt running, focusing on the experience. Only you can judge your performance. Avoid letting others sit in judgment of you.”
– Hal Higdon

And now for my Meltdown:

Note to self:  Don’t schedule 3 ChiRunning Alumni classes, a networking event, a 6 mile training run and dinner with your family the day after a big event (and add only getting 5.5 hours of sleep the night before).  I’ve told myself this before and for some reason I thought I could handle it…Well, I did handle it but at the cost of being a nervous wreck and having a complete crying meltdown at my parents house by the end of the day.  I love love teaching Alumni classes as I get to help my runners deepen their ChiRunning practice but they are always very draining for me as I cover a lot of material.  I started by day at 7am.  I haven’t attended Sisterhood of Superwomen in a while but I had a few friends that were going so I wanted to be there with them…then I had scheduled another training run but had to kill some time in between (when all I could think of is why did I schedule this rather than just doing my own thing so I could start/finish at my convenience)…then add on going to my parents house for dinner with the family.  I left the house at 6:30am and was on the go ALL day.  By the time dinner came, I just wanted to break down and cry as I was physically and mentally exhausted….and I DID!  It’s been a long time since I had one of those moments but I just had to let it out.

Once I got it together, I looked back at the scenario and some things were beyond my control while some where within….

Learning lesson:  Don’t underestimate the amount of rest my mind and body need while training for endurance events.  To go from a huge high on Saturday to a meltdown on Sunday seriously messed with me.  Not the first time I learn this lesson but apparently I need to remember this more often when planning my schedule….

So today is a rest day and I’m honoring getting done what I can and realizing that whatever doesn’t get done today, will get done tomorrow….or the next day…

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always love seeing friends at a race!

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Finish line feeling amazing!

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pretty happy with these numbers but more importantly by how good I felt at the end! my pace was a 13:05 which is 2 sec slower than Javelina but 5 more miles sustained at it. I don’t pause my watch at aid stations as I like to see my true time.

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)