Tuesday, September 2, 2014

UTMB 2014

Campsite at Le Mer de Glace
I went up to Chamonix the week before the race with my boyfriend Bj and friend Colin. We decided to camp early on so that we could be out in nature more and enjoy the beauty of the Alps. It worked out really well because right outside of the campground were some trails that I was able to get out on a couple times for some short runs. The three of us also hiked up to Le Mer de Glace which is the longest glacier in the area which is 7km long. The next couple days after that we just hung around the campground, cooked food on the fire, worked on our balance using the slack line and ventured into town a couple times to eat or pick up some goods.

Inov8 Group Run
The whole week before was just spent relaxing, meeting up with my ultra running friends, meeting some new ones and finding the best places to eat. Our criteria for the "best" was cheap but amazing. We found some pretty cool places that really surprised our tastebuds and didn't break the bank! A couple days before the race on Wednesday I got a message from a running friend Robbie Britton letting me know that there was going to be a little run with the Inov8 team so I decided to join them. It was fun chatting with other runners about their preparation, races they've ran and nerves about the race that lay ahead.
Enjoying lunch after picking up race Bib
On the day before the race which was a Thursday more of my crew showed up. My crew which were really all just my friends who volunteered to help me out along the way were Bj, Brittany, Owen, Tyler, Sherene, Ryan and their son Nathan. Thursday morning Brittany and Tyler showed up. After they got all settled in we took them out in town to get my gear checked and to pick up my bib and then we went for a bite to eat then on Thursday afternoon my friend Owen showed up. After he got his tent up and he was settled in, we went back out on the town for dinner and drinks....and no, the drinks were not for me. However, everyone else partook in tasting the local brews.

Team Dreama!
The day of the race started like any other. I woke up around 8am, poked my head out of the tent and had room, I mean tent service which consisted of scrabbled eggs and hashbrowns. After I ate I tried to go back to sleep but my mind was racing with last minute details. I was finally able to around 9:30 and slept until 12pm. Getting ready in a campground took a little more organization but it all worked out.

Thanks to Elevationtat

Earlier in the week I had messaged the guy in Colorado who designs race profile tattoos called elevationtat and asked if I could get one for UTMB. He told me that either Jason Schlarb or Mike Foote would have then so I messaged Jason that morning and asked if I could get one from him. He of course said no problem and so after getting ready we all drove to the next town over to get the tattoo. When we arrived at the hotel we were greated by his lovely wife and son. After chitchatting for a couple minutes we were on our way to Chamonix, passing UTMBer hitchhikers trying to catch a ride to the start of the race. We had a full carload so all we could do is drive past them.

We ended up finding a parking spot pretty close to city center. We decided to eat a sandwich right away so that I would have time to digest it before the 5:30pm start time. As we sat down to eat, I had to use the toilet since I was hydrating appropriately. Bad thing is, when I went in to use the toilet I was greeted with my monthly visitor! I kinda thought this would happen so I came prepared but it still added a little extra annoyance to the already high stress situation. Oh well, that's what ultra runners do, we adapt and overcome...so that's what I did.

Ready to go!
After eating we all walked down to the startline and even being 1.5 hrs early the shoot was already filling up with anxious runners. My crew decided to round the corner so they could see me run by so they left me to find my place in the crowd. About 10 mins before the start it started to rain and so everyone donned their rain gear. Before long we were all counting down in French or at least those  who could speak French and we were off! There was hooting and hollering from both runners and spectators. The energy felt amazing! The crowds that showed up to cheer us on were huge, it felt like everyone in the Chamonix valley was out and lined up along the street!

The first several kilometers were easy, it was pretty flat and on a paved trail. It was still raining as the hours went by. People were slipping and falling every couple minutes on the muddy, sloshy ground. I thought it was pretty funny at times because as we were coming down a hill, that people ski down in the winter, runners were falling every couple minutes. I almost fell several times but I used my poles to catch me, I would laugh a little and then someone else would fall, then I would kinda laugh again.

The hours in the evening went by pretty quickly and right as darkness came I arrived at Saint Gervais checkpoint. I quickly filled up my pack with water, grabbed a banana and was on my way. As I was running out of the checkpoint I bumped into a man wearing a blue sweatshirt that was facing away from me. As he turned around and I looked up, I realized that I had bumped into Seb Chaigneau an elite runner for The North Face. When our eyes met, all I could say was "Oh, hi" and I'm sure the look on my face said it all because everyone, including Seb just started laughing. It was pretty funny and I thought about it for several kilometers.

Friday Night
I arrived at the first checkpoint that I could have assistance at called Les Contamines at 10pm about 4.5 hours into the race. I didn't stay long but just enough time to use the toilet, get replacement gels for the ones I had taken and to fill up my pack. Bj was at this checkpoint helping me out as best as he could. After about 15 mins I was on my way running back into the rain where it was cold once again. Once you stop, you always got to give yourself a couple minutes to warm back up.

Refuge of Bonhomme, Italy 

The night hours went on and so did the climbs. After leaving Les Contamines, we climbed and climbed and climbed. The climbs seemed to be never-ending but I kind of expected that. I guess I'm a pretty decent climber. Once, I start I don't stop for breaks and I can usually pass people on the way up. I just keep the same pace, slow and steady. I remember reaching a checkpoint where people were surrounding a bonfire, drying their clothes and keeping warm. I believe this checkpoint was the refuge of Bonhomme. I didn't stay long, just filled up my pack, drank some soup and was back on my way. We climbed all night long. As morning was approaching I was starting to feel the effects of the elevation. I had a headache that wouldn't go away and I felt as if I needed to puke a couple times. since I didn't have much in my stomach all I could do was dry heave. But, after a couple sessions of those, I started to feel a little better.

My headlamp started to die about 1 hour before daybreak so I had to replace the lithium battery with some triple A's. As, I was resting my pack on a rock, fumbling to get the batteries in correctly, I heard my name. I looked up to see an Icelandic guy named Barke that we had met several days earlier from Norway. He asked how I was doing and I told him good other than my headlamp dying. He waited for me to finish putting the batteries in and then we headed down the mountain together. Thankfully, he was there because my headlamp was very weak even with the new batteries and was putting off very little light. He let me lead the way so that he could share his light and I was very grateful. At the next checkpoint, I sat down to pull out my other headlamp, filled up my pack and drank some warm chicken noodle soup. I didn't see Barke around so I just headed back out on my own. The next portion was more climbing but it was amazing because as I reached the top of the mountain the sun was rising and the Mont Blanc massif was to the left of me. It was enormous and beautiful. I had to stop for a second and take in the moment.
Saturday Daybreak in the Italian Alps

As I descended down the mountain I was anxious to get to the next checkpoint that I could have assistance at which was Courmayeur. I new my crew would be there waiting for me and I was really excited to see them and to change my shoes which were wet from it raining all night long. As I ran in, I saw Owen, Bj and Tyler...they cheered me on and told me that Brittany was inside waiting on me. I walked in to the sport center and sat on the cold concrete floor. Brittany was great and started getting me all squared away. She had me change my shirt, my socks and shoes. My legs were a bit shaky from the long 8+ km descent we had just made so I had to keep moving. I told Brittany that I had dry heaved a couple times but that I felt pretty good now. She replaced my gels with new ones and had my pack filled up with water and once again I was on my way, up once again.

I really started to feel a lot of pain in my Achilles so once I reached the refuge of Bertone, I asked the medical staff if I could have some ice for my feet. They said they didn't have any ice, so I asked if they had the freeze spray. Again, I got a big negative but what they did say I could do is soak my feet in a water trough. So, I sat down for about 10 minutes and soaked my feet in the ice cold mountain water. As I was sitting there I heard my name and turned around to see a Turkish runner by the name of Alper Dalkilic. He is the boyfriend of a running friend Elena Polyakova. She is a Russian woman who lives and runs in Turkey. Alper asked me how I was doing and I told him good except my Achilles were starting to cause a lot of pain. He gave me some words of encouragement and I told him, I would see him at the finish!

Italian Alps
The next kilometers were pretty flat but also very beautiful. As I left the Arnuva checkpoint at kilometer 95 I sat down at a glacier river and soaked my Achilles once again. This time, I took a little longer and it really seemed to help. Once I put my shoes back on and started climbing the pain that I was feeling before wasn't there. The day slipped by, before I knew it I was in La Fouly and then on my way to Champex-Lac. In the three hours between La Fouly and Champex-Lac I began to feel really weird. When I would look up from the ground the runner's shirts that were in front of me were lighting up like a blinking light. I thought it was strange and I knew it was because I had been running for 24 hours and awake for 30 hours but I also knew I still had a good way to go before reaching Champex-Lac. I got there right before sunset and it was great to be with my friends and crew once again. The rest of my team, Sherene, Ryan and little Nathan showed up to help support but I was so out of it, I barely even got to say anything to them. I told them all that I was really tired and wanted to take a quick 30 min to 1 hour nap. They reassured me this was the right decision and that even one of the elites had to take a 2 hour nap because of stomach problems. So, they hurried and got my camping mattress, some sweatshirts and covered me up. Even though, I was really tired, they said that I just kept talking, mumbling about people passing me since I was laying down and that I had passed a lot of people. They said it took about an hour for me just to fall asleep but once I did, I was out. They woke me up at about 10:45 which was about an hour more than I wanted to sleep. At this point, I didn't want to wake back up. I felt groggy and like I wouldn't be able to continue on but as I started getting ready and waking up I started to feel awake and focused on the mission at hand. Brittany and Owen walked with me for a little ways and then we said our goodbyes. As I started running again, I felt good. My feet didn't hurt as bad and I felt rejuvenated. I began passing people in the dark, power hiking strong up the climbs and running downhill with less pain.

In the Swiss Alps

The hours that night slipped on by. I met my crew at Trient where Brittany, Ryan and Bj helped me get my pack in order. As I left this checkpoint and started heading up the mountain once again, I had to stop because I felt as if I were going to throw up again. So, I stepped out of the line of runners onto a side path that had a fallen tree laying down beside a tree that was still upright. As I bent over to puke someone asked me if I was alright. I told them I was and thanked them. But all of a sudden I felt urge to pee so I turned off my headlamp, ducked behind the upright tree and pulled down my pants to pee. But, as soon as I squatted, I also felt like I had to poop. I didn't feel like I could wait so I just went. I could see runners power hiking up the hill only 4 feet away from me and I was hoping they wouldn't look my way. And because this was not planned I hadn't prepared and gotten toilet paper ready which meant I didn't have anything to use to wipe with. I also knew I had ran out of TP and forgot to grab more at the last checkpoint so I was trying to think if I had anything I could use in my pack. After a couple seconds I couldn't think of anything to use. I also couldn't see very well because I turned my headlamp off so as to not bring attention to myself. I was in a dilemma. I didn't want to turn my headlamp on and have everyone shine their light on me and I knew I didn't have any TP with me because I had ran out. So, what was I to do?!?! Use a leaf or something, right? I mean, that's the only thing I could think of and I didn't want to waste any more time trying to figure it out so I quickly turned on my headlamp to grab something to use and the only thing I could see was a pinecone. That's right, a pinecone. It was a small slender one that was kinda soft from the rain so it would have to do. Plus, as soon as I grabbed it, I turned off my headlamp so I was committed. My legs were hurting and I needed to get back out on the trail so I just held it on one end and wiped. I know, it's pretty gross and as soon as I got to the next checkpoint I used the appropriate material. But, its all I could do at the time. Yep, I used a pinecone to wipe my butt!

Tëte aux vents
An hour an a half later I made it to Vallorcine where my crew met me and it was the last time I saw them until the finish. They helped with my pack, gels and getting me soup. Before long I was on my way. Ryan and Bj were outside and gave me some last words of encouragement for which I was grateful to have. The sun was rising at this point and once again I was making a climb. This time, I was climbing up to Tëte aux vents, the last peak before the finish. I was pushing hard, passing people along the way. As I reached LaFlégère I felt it, I felt the finish not far away. As I ran down the mountain, people were hiking up for their Sunday morning mountain hike and congratulating me on along the way. It was surreal. People were no longer cheering but congratulating me. It was a great feeling, I made it. I was only about 2 km out from the finish but I was there. I had made it and it felt amazing! As I ran into the city I was met by my crew who ran the last bit in with me. It was great because they had American flags that they were waving, they had an American flag for me and they were getting high fives and cheers from the crowds! It was a wonderful feeling to run in with my friends who helped me get to the finish. We all crossed the finish line together because the journey was all of ours.

UTMB Finish 41:00:40

I want to thank these very special people: Bj Howell, Owen Olsen, Brittany Wheat, Tyler Fulling, Ryan Schweitzer, Sherene Schweitzer and Nathan Schwitzer. I couldn't have done it without you! Thank you so much :) Now, I owe each of you and promise to crew for you when the time comes.

It was also great running into running friends. Until next race!

Stats about the UTMB 2014 race:

Distance: 168km or 103 miles
Positive Vertical Gain: 9600 meters or 31,496 feet
Number of runners who started: 2434 of those there were 200 women
Number of runners who finished: 1578 of those were 114 women
Total number of runners who abandoned the race: 856

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ready or Not...Here I come!

That's right, I'm gonna find you Mont Blanc...and while doing so, probably myself. This will be my first 100 miler, if I complete it. I'll be a 'true' Ultramarathoner. I'm not trying to say that people including myself who run 100+ kilometers aren't ultra-marathoners or according to the IT geeks...uh, I mean, guys I work with "ultrathoners" but we all know that completing your first 100 MILER is the real deal! I think I might be a little crazy because I'm going into this race with the least amount of training mileage on my feet in years. Buuuut, I just couldn't let this opportunity pass without getting out there and giving it a shot. It won't be my best, I know that...but all I'm looking for at this point is a FINISH! I want to be a 100 mile finisher. Is that too much to ask for??

I've been getting my stuff ready for the big day. I will have the second most amazing support team (my mother was THE most amazing) out there supporting me along the way. This will be really nice and will allow me not to have to carry as much as I would have normally if I didn't have people meeting me out on the trail at approved checkpoints. In the past, my pack has been full to the brim, most of it with my nutrition, Tailwind isn't light when you have 12-15 packs in your bag. Now, with my Dream Team helping where they can, I can lighten the load and run as minimal as possible. This is going to be hard to do no matter what the mandatory and recommended packing list adds weight and bulk to the bag. I'm going to try and run with as little as possible, just the mandatory stuff and nutrition to get me to checkpoints where my team will be.

So, am I ready I keep getting asked...only time will tell! My heart is, my mind is...so, yeah, I'm ready!

Can't wait to see all my new and old ultra running friends and share this time with my non-running friends. I can't wait to feel those pre-race jitters on race day and the pain in my lungs and muscles during the climbs. It's going to be GREAT!

I'll be there this Thursday, Chamonix :)

So, here's the nutrition I'll be taking during the race:

Below is the packing list for the races!

Copied directly from the UTMB site: http://www.ultratrailmb.com/page/16/UTMB®_CCC®_TDS®_OCC_Regulations.html


Obligatory material :

mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries
(put in one’s repertoire the security numbers of the organisation, keep it switched on, do not hide one’s number and do not forget to set off with recharged batteries)
personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable)OBLIGATORY
stock of water minimum 1 litreOBLIGATORY
two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries
2 torches
1 torch
survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimumOBLIGATORY
adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm)OBLIGATORY
food reserveOBLIGATORY
Jacket, with a hood, capable of withstanding the bad mountain weather and made with a waterproof (minimum recommended: 10 000 Schmerber) and breathable (RET recommended less than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar)OBLIGATORY
long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completelyOBLIGATORY
Additional warm midlayer top: One single midlayer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M)
OR a two piece clothing combination of a long sleeve baselayer/midlayer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket* with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection
in the case
of bad
cap or bandanaOBLIGATORY
warm and waterproof glovesOBLIGATORY
waterproof over-trousersOBLIGATORY
    * The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood

    Required by the frontier police forces :

    • identity papers

    Very strongly recommended :

    • Knife or scissors with which to cut the self-adhesive elasticised bandage
    • walking poles for security on slippery ground in case of rain or snow
    • a change of warm clothes indispensable in the case of cold weather, rain or injury
    • the sum of 20 € minimum (in order to cover the unexpected....)

    Advised (list not definitive) :

    Telescopic sticks, change of clothing, compass, knife, string, sun cream, Vaseline or anti-chaffing cream, needle and thread,...

    All clothing must be the runner’s size and without alteration since leaving the factory.
    You will carry this material in a pack which must be tagged at the race-bib distribution and is not exchangeable during the race.

    If you decide to use poles, you must keep them throughout the whole of the race… It is forbidden to start without sticks and recover them up along the way.
    No poles will be allowed in the spare’s bags.


    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Climbing Zugspitze Again...the Höllental Route

    So, on Friday July 18th, Bj and I headed down to summit the Zugspitze. This is the highest mountain in Germany which measures 2926m. The Zugspitze mastif is a very beautiful mountain range and I love the ability to jump in the car and 4 hours later be at this very majestic location.

    We had word that on Sunday we weren't going to have very nice weather so we decided to start our hike on Friday and find a place to camp before sunset that night. That way, on Saturday we could wake up and finish the hike to the Zugspitze. That would mean, we would head back down to the Höllental valley and up to the Zugspitze. As soon as we arrived in town we began the hike and made it all the way up to the Alpspitze (2628m) a little before dark. Right as we reached the top, we both realized we were out of water. Good part was we had about 45 mins left of daylight, bad part, the hut we had in our sites was back down the mountain and not in the direction we needed to be heading to get back down to the Höllental valley. But, we both knew that we wouldn't be able to go through the night without water so we headed in the opposite direction and south. We arrived at the hut a little after dark. The staff welcomed us and were so nice. They asked where we were staying and if we needed anything. We told them that we were doing some 'night training' and that we didn't plan on staying anywhere. They asked us if we would like something to eat and of course we said yes. They brought us out a plate full of traditional deer sausage and sauerkraut with homemade cranberry sauce. It was really good. They helped us fill our packs with water and we were on our way.

    We didn't go very far before we decided we should find a place to camp for the night. We didn't have tents so we found a place near a ski lift and put a tarp on the ground and above us in case it rained. We both got in our sleeping bags and were out for the night. The next morning we woke and got ready to finish the hike. We had to walk back up to the top of Alpspitze for the second time since the night before we had to backtrack a little. Once we got to the top we crossed over and headed back down to the Höllental Valley...it was great, all down hill and beautiful sites.

    Once we reached the valley we started heading back up, but this time toward the beautiful Zugspitze. It was a little deceiving at first. I looked and didn't really see how we were going to cross because you couldn't see a path, it looked like a vertical cliff. However, once you got on it, you could see red dots on the rocks that helped lead the way. Once we reached the first section where we had to put on our climbing gear, we were both excited. This was going to be the first time we would get to use our new harnesses for climbing other than at a rock wall gym.

    The day was hot, we both felt it and ran out of water once again. Luckily, we saw a waterfall that we used to fill up our packs. It wasn't too much further that we arrived at the river which was formed from the glacier. We decided to relax for a bit, soak our feet and fill up again with pristine water. It tasted amazing and it felt really good on my Achilles.

    At this point we could see the Glacier but it seemed that we kept walking up and up. The ground beneath us was loose gravel at this point and the use of our poles was very helpful! The Glacier was a lot bigger than I thought it was. It was also a lot scarier. I actually felt a little anxious at times because we did not have crampons on and several times we had to jump over crevasse and these weren't all little. Some of them were about 2 feet wide and forever deep. It scared me a little because we had to jump over them and since we were jumping upward on snow, we slid back a bit. I was happy once we arrived at the wall however, there was quite a big gap that we had to jump to reach the wall.

    The climb up was fairly easy and a lot of fun. We were really happy that we were reaching the top when we heard this banging of rocks and someone yelled ROCKS! I could hear them coming but I couldn't tell where they were so I quickly ducked behind a bigger rock and knelt down so that if a rock was coming it would miss me. After the commotion simmered down, we continued the climb. It wasn't until we reached a couple who were sitting on a rock that didn't have a lot of space that we realized the man had been struck. They asked us if we had helmets which we told them no. That's when we saw the man's bloody leg. We stopped and asked if they needed help and before they could accept Bj began pulling out his first aid kit and began cleaning and wrapping the wound. They told us that a helicopter was on its way but they were happy to have the wound wrapped. It really sucked for them, not only did the man get injured pretty bad but they were only about 50 meters from the top. Before long we were there and it was a great feeling to reach the gold summit cross. We arrived a little before 7pm but there was still plenty of daylight to enjoy dinner outside on the deck of the München Hutte. It was during this time that we found out the last gondola had went down at 5pm and we would have to wait until morning to take it down. It all worked out because the München Hutte had vacancy.

    The next morning we woke and headed down the mountain taking a much easier and faster route. Overall it was such a memorable and fun experience. I love being in the mountains, no matter what the event.

    I made this video of our adventure. I hope you like it...if you do, click the "Like" button please :) :)

    I'm pretty much back to training. I still have some pain but icing really seems to help. UTMB is right around the corner so I'm trying to get some runs in to help me prepare...but really, I'm just going to have to go an GUT IT OUT!

    Here's my video:
    Zugspitze Summit - July 2014 from Dreama walton on Vimeo.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    Experiencing Zugspitze Ultra Trail from behind the Camera

     Since I couldn’t run it, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the mountains, practice my photography and cheer fellow runners on. For me, the race was great because I got to do all of those things. 

    It was a lot of fun following the runners by car, rushing from checkpoint to checkpoint and then waiting on them to show up. I really enjoyed supporting my fellow athletes!

    I have never done sports photography, so I wasn’t really sure how these photos were going to turn out...but I think they turned out alright!

    What do you folks think?

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Zugsptiz 100km Again...Just no Running!

    Being Realistic & Smart (is no fun):

    Yeah, so the Zugspitz Ultra trail is in 10 days away! I have been looking forward to this race all year. I had so much fun last year and I couldn't wait to run it again. You can read last year's race report here on my blog. I love the organization, PlanB that puts the race on. They put on a lot of races here in Germany and they do such a great job. Unfortunately, I won't be running this time around. I'm just not ready yet. I could go out and run it and I know I would finish but it just wouldn't be my best performance and since I just had my PRP injections 6 days ago, I don't want to rush it and set my healing back even further. I hate that I'm making this decision but I know it is best.

    Adapting & Finding Positives:

    I've asked the race if I could volunteer instead. I told them that I was very interested in taking photos and asked them if I could for the race. They agreed and said they will issue me press pass credentials...which is pretty cool. I'm excited for the opportunity to experience the race from a different perspective than I would normally. BUT, I know I'm going to feel a little sad to see all the runners go by and not be out there with them. Actually, it's going to be a little bit like torture. But, like I told the organization...I'll be back next year and I will make the podium again! ;)

    The Big Picture:

    The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is my main event for the year so I'm hoping to be able to train soon for that because August 29th will be here before we know it. This will actually be my first 100 miler. If I complete UTMB , I will be a true Ultra Marathoner! I hope I heal soon and can start training for it...yikes!

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    :( PRP Once Again!

    Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

    It really hurts.

    Today I had my second round of PRP in my left foot and my first injection in my right foot...that's right, BOTH feet. At my request, my doctor kindly stuck both of them at the same time. That way, I would only have to recover once. Only problem is, now I can't walk. I've accidentally put a little bit of pressure on my toes and it HURTS so there is no way I'm walking yet!

    I'm laying here on the couch with my feet elevated and they are throbbing. Not sure if I really thought this one through because in order to move around the house, I'm having to crawl! That's right, hands and knees on the ground crawling around like a baby.

    Anyway, I'm lucky in that I got to work from home this afternoon and will get to tomorrow too. Hopefully, in a couple days I'll be able to walk but until then, resting my feet is what I'll be doing!

    Wanna see the video of my procedure? Warning...if you squeamish of needles, don't watch!

    I'm really thankful to my doctor for understanding my need for having both done at the same time. He and the techs did a great job once again!

    Now on to RECOVERY so I can TRAIN :)

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Transvulcania 2014 - A Race to Remember

    Transvulcania...WOW! What a fun race. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out since I haven't been able to train properly. For the whole month of March and two weeks of April I took off from running, completely to try and finally rid myself of the constant pain I was in. I also had a PRP injection during this time and I think that was the reason I was able to run the race. Sooo, back to the race! It was A-MAZ-ING...I had so much fun and was pretty happy the whole time. I was hoping to complete it in 10 hours but with the lack of training and injury my main goal was to finish.

    The night before the race I wanted to get to bed early so I went I my room at about 3pm and put my pack together and lay around playing on the laptop. But at about 8:30 I started to get real hungry so I ordered some room service since I didn't want to have to get dressed to go down to the hotel restaurant. My pre-race meal: steak, mixed vegatables and patatoes. It was pretty yummy and I needed the nutrition to help me run strong!

    The race started at 6am and the atmosphere at the start was great. Like many other races, there was music playing, elites being introduced, runners everywhere full of excitement and anticipation of the day ahead. It was really exciting. The countdown in Spanish begin and everyone shouted, diez, nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, cuatro, tres, dos, uno and then the air horn went off and so did the runners. We started off on a wide dirt road below the Fuencaliente lighthouse which shortly led to a single-track dirt path that went on for about 8km. It was apparent that many of the runners knew we were about to be forced on a narrow path because the pushing and shoving was like no other race I've been apart of. I was a little surprised at this but I understand that it wasn't meant with bad intentions but just that people didn't want to get stuck behind slow people on the single-track path.  But, I was still a little surprised at the amount of men that had no problem pushing me out of their way to run past. Those 8k in the volcanic sand felt like 20...it was so difficult to run on because each time you stepped, your feet would sink in and it was like running in slow motion.
    At the start :)

    Soon after the first checkpoint the trail started going up again but then again that is the story of this race. We just kept going up, up  and up! I loved watching the sun rise, it was absolutely beautiful and made me feel really happy. I knew I wasn't moving fast but I didn't care. I was just happy to be out there enjoying the morning. The day went on and the hours past. Around the 26km mark is where Refugio de El Pilar checkpoint was and where the Marathon race begin. It just so happened that I ran by that checkpoint at 4:28hrs...and two minutes later the Marathon started. The runners ran by and from this point on we were all mixed together. Not only could you identify the marathon runners by their red bibs but also because they were sooooo clean! That's right, all of us who had already been on trail were a mess. We had dirt everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE! But, after a couple hours they too were dirty and the only way to tell who was who was by the color of our bibs.

    The crowds were great, people were out cheering in all the little towns and outside of their homes along the course. As the day progressed it got hot...muy caliente! And as we climbed the less shade there was for relief.
     It seemed like the climbs wouldn't stop and as much as I would have liked, I did not stay at any checkpoint but for just enough time to fill up my water bladder.

    When the downhills came, I zoomed. I ran past people and imagined myself flying. I was really looking forward to the final descent that I had heard so much about. That is, until it came. I reached the highest point of the race and the last peak before the final descent at 10 hours. At this point I was really looking forward to heading down and at first I was flying, jumping from rock to rock and enjoying the momentum. But descending from 2400+ meters to sea-level got to me. It was about the time when I reached the second to the last checkpoint which was half-way down that I started to feel the pain in my feet and heat of the day. It was so hot at this point but luckily at the Tore Forestal de El Time checkpoint they had huge buckets of water and were kindly pouring the water over our heads. It was much needed because I was really starting to feel the heat. After filling up my pack I continued down the mountain but it wasn't without a couple good spills which left a nice blue bruise on my butt.
    Happy to be on the trails :) and feeling good!

    Once I reached Tazacorte which happened to be the Marathon's finishing point I was filled with excitement which soon turned into anger as we headed up the riverbed and then up the other side of the mountain. I knew that we would have to go back up but I didn't realize just how far back up we would have to go. I remember reaching a road where volunteers were stopping traffic and I asked the young lady where do we go now...and when she pointed up, I remember yelling "Are you kidding me???!!!" but then I smiled at her so she didn't think I was upset with her. We ended up climbing up to 400+ meters and then the finish line was in site...that was a great feeling. I just plodded along as people were screaming as if I were Frosty herself. That was a great part about this race, the crowds didn't care who you were, to them, you were a rockstar...and that was a great feeling!

    I finished in 13:02:00, not 10:00:00 like I wanted but I finished...and that I'm happy about!
    Photo was taken right after the race.

    I also had a wonderful time the days surrounding the race. I met some really great people and was happy to have extended my ultra-running family! I can't wait to see you all again at future races :)

    Hanging out at the pool and the beach the following day!

    Thank you to all the volunteers and to the race organization for such a memorable race experience! It was truly a race to remember. 

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Dragon Ultra Trail - 50km

    The Dragon Ultra Trail wasn't like any race I've done before. I woke up early on Saturday so that I could drive an hour away to pick up ultra marathoner Gabi K and drive the rest of the way to a town close to Bonn. Gabi and I crossed the Keufelskopf Ultratrail finish line at the same time last year for 1st place. Since then, we have kept in contact through Facebook. She has been doing really well and running a lot. Since she lives only about an hour from me, I asked her if she knew of any runs or races that I could take part in. That is when she told me about the DUT 50km that would take place on the 15th of March.

    The "race" was put on by a man they call Hexer, started in a town called Bad Honnef. We all met at a youth hostel for coffee and conversation. The race began at 11am but it was really cool because there was no gun, no official time-keeping system, it was just runners, their watches and GPS devices. 

    We started climbing soon after the start and even though we never reached super high elevation, the climbs were pretty steep at times. The course was beautiful and interesting. Since there were no markers to tell the runners where to go, they had to heavily rely on their GPS devices. I probably should have had a handheld GPS but since I didn't I made it a point to stay with the other runners throughout the course. I totally would have been lost if I didn't stay with the lead pack. There were times when they would pull away a little and I would rush to catch up so that I wasn't left behind. I didn't want to have to wait for the runners behind me to catch up, so I just stayed with the group of guys and Gabi. Even the Race Director Hexer got a little lost at one point. I met some very nice people along the way and since it wasn't so competitive and more of a run, we were able to talk and have a little fun. The course took us up and down all the little peaks in the area. I was happy to see a new part of Deutschland, meet lots of new ultra runners and take part in such a wonderful race!

    I finished with the same group of guys that I had started with in exactly 6 hours. Thanks to Gabi, Sven, Torsten, Stefan, Birger, Fabian and Mats for being so kind and making it a great memory!

    After the race, I didn't feel very well. My stomach was upset and I had a bad headache but I contribute it all to not getting enough nutrition. I drank my Tailwind the whole time but I also feel like I should have eaten something too.

    RD Hexer
    Me, Gabi, Aschu
    Running :)
    Somewhere on a Dragon's back!
    :) the Rhein river

    All in all it was a great day and I got to explore more of Germany!

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    Disappointment in Gran Canaria - My TGC race report

    I went into the race knowing that it may not end the way I wanted or wished. I have been battling Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot and achilies tendinitis in my right. Leading up to the race I've taken time off. Two weeks in January, two weeks right before the race and it started to feel better. I even thought that I might actually be able to run not pain free because we all endure pain throughout the race, but somewhat injury free. 

    The day before the race I picked up my bib and packet and then went back to my hotel to relax by the pool. I was careful not to get too much sun and drank plenty of water. On Friday I ate Linner (lunch/dinner) with my friend Djanina Freytag who was running the Advance trail. It was great to see her and talk about training, racing and our personal lives. Love this lady, she is so strong and sweet! After eating I went back to the hotel and set my alarm for 9pm and fell asleep for about 3 hours. When I woke up I had a slight headache so I took 800 mg of Ibphrofen. It never went away...even during my race.

    We started the race at 12am on March 1st, just like the year prior, the whole town of Agate was out cheering! Initially, I thought I might be good. My feet didn't hurt but then around the 20km mark I started to feel issues, I tried to ignore them. Unfortunately, that was hard to do and my pace began to suffer. It was taking me much longer to get from checkpoint to checkpoint then I had expected. My plan was to take Ibphrofen if I started to feel pain but I couldn't because from the time I left Artenara (33km) I was vomiting and couldn't keep anything down. Everything I had eaten at the last checkpoint came back up along with anything else that was left in my stomach. I contemplated just turning around and heading back to Artenara since I was much closer to that checkpoint then the next one but I didn't. I pushed on. 

    It was a little after 8am when our trail merged with the Advance trail. There were several of us from the TransGranCanaria trail running up a muddy path when we heard the Advance elites coming up behind us. We stepped aside to let them run by. They had just started their race, they looked really fresh and fast! I cheered on a few, wished Salomon athlete Philipp Reiter "good luck" and he was still relaxed enough to thank me. After the group of elites passed, I began running again but would step aside for Advanced runners as they wanted to pass. I kept looking behind me for my friend Djanina but didn't see her. Then, not long after I stopped turning around I heard my name called and felt the hug and kiss from my friend. She asked me how I was doing and I told her I hurt but that I would be cheering for her and hoped that she had a good race. 

    It was two checkpoints after the merge that I had enough. I took my bib off at Teror surprisingly without much regret. Of course I hate DNFing but I felt that I was doing more damage than good to my injury. 

    Hopefully now, with a little time off and cross training I will be good to go for my next race, the Iznik Ultra in Turkey. I have to remain positive and just use this experience to make me stronger! I'm really looking forward to this race :)

    I did get to enjoy beautiful weather by the pool and beach. Gran Canaria is a very interesting island and has a lot of beautiful places to see. The food is yummy and the people are super friendly. I would recommend visiting this island even if it isn't to race from one end to the other!

    At the Expo

    Picking up my race bib and packet at the expo.

    Sunset in Maspalmas :)

    Start of TGC 2014

    At Artenara (33km) trying to stay positive :)

    :( at Teror (56km) 10 hrs DNF!

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Excited about TGC :)

    With being just a little over 2 weeks before my first race of the season I'm filled with excitement and nervousness. 

    I've ran TransGranCanaria twice now and both times it has been completely different. In 2012 we started in Maspalomas and ran to Las Palamas. In 2013 we started in Agaete and ran to Las Palamas. This year they have changed the course once again just to keep us on our toes! The 2014 course has us running from Agaete to Maspalomas which seems to be a very scenic and tough route.

    Even though I've raced this race in the past the unknown still scares me a bit. I have always felt that I'm not as prepared for this race because it is early in the season but at least this year I've been able to train better with the milder winter conditions we've had. I also still have a bad case of Plantar Faciiatis in my left foot but I've been really trying to do all I can to speed up the healing process. I'm using KT tape, wearing a night brace, using a tennis ball and icing. The only thing that seems to really be helping is taking my daily dose of Vitamin I (a term I learned from my friend Trail Plodder for Ibphrofen). Hopefully, I will be better soon!

    All in all, I cannot wait for this race and hope that I perform to the best of my ability! I'm also looking forward to meeting up with some running friends and meeting new ones. 

    Keep running strong, eating well and loving life!

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Today was a good day but I did get a little lost. I took the train out to Kaiserslautern in hopes to run the trails along the ridge line back home but instead I just ended up running all around the Palatinate forest. I ran on some great trails and saw beautiful scenery but before I realized I was going the opposite direction of home, I was already about 3.5 hours into the run. You might wonder how someone who is running with GPS and with an iPhone can get lost…but really it is quite easy. First, the Garmin Back to Start feature is great if you want to go back to the start…which I wasn't trying to do, that is, until I realized I was just running in circles in the woods. And the iPhone…well, that works great when you have connectivity but I was out in places that had no service. The good news is, I ran exactly 24 miles on trails in 4 hours and 8 mins and felt great.

    I did this in my new Hokas and my feet felt surprisingly good even towards the end. This has not been the case in the past with other shoes….so I really think that I'm now a Hoka believer! I also didn't take any gels…I ran the whole way fueling with Tailwind in my hydration pack and two Carbboom powder packs that I put in two handhelds. That was it, and it seemed to be enough!

    I did take time to take a couple quick pics along the way…it was too pretty not to!