Tuesday, August 8, 2017

UTMB 2014

With all the excitement of UTMB happening in about 3 weeks I can't help but reminisce about my first 100 miler (actually it was really 106 miles). I wasn't ready for it due to injuries that I had the entire year but, I got it done!

 The race started around 6pm on Friday. It was raining at the start and continued to rain all through the night. The rain made everything so muddy and added another level of difficulty descending the mountains especially in the beginning when we were coming down a ski-resort hill...people were slipping and falling all over the place. It was actually kind of funny to watch!

A little before sunrise, while I was on top of a beautiful mountain ridge, the rain stopped. As the sun rose, I was so grateful to be where I was...it was beautiful! I reached Courmayeur, Italy a few hours later on Saturday morning, it was the second checkpoint where you could get assistance from your crew. I changed out of my soaking wet clothes and then continued up the next climb. At this point, I was beginning to feel a lot of pain in my feet. The injuries I had leading up to the race were really starting to bother me. I tried finding ice at some of the checkpoints but didn't have any luck. Since these checkpoints were up in the mountains, they were not fully stocked with aid. I continued on throughout the day and at some point in the afternoon I entered Switzerland. Since the race started in the evening I didn't get much rest prior to the start so as the afternoon turned to night I had already been awake for 36hours. I realized that if I were going to continue racing I would need a quick rest so at Champex Lac/24 hours into the race, I took a nap. About 1.5 hours later my crew woke me and it took all I had to regain the motivation to continue on. But once I got moving again, I felt like a new person!it was incredible, I couldn't believe how good I felt!  I was able to run again and was passing headlamp after headlamp. The night went on with lots of climbing and descending in the mountains. 

As the sun rose again on Sunday morning I began my final big climb up Flegere. As I reached the top, I saw an amazing sight...a bright orange North Face tent with volunteers checking bibs and Mont Blanc across the valley with the sun hitting the Mont Blanc Massif. I was so happy to have made it that far and knew that all of the hard parts were over. The next (however) many miles would be easy in comparison to the past 2 days. The finish line was so close I could taste it...it all started to sink in as I was descending (still several miles out) and people were congratulating me. It was surreal, the cheers of encouragement had turned to cheers of congratulations even though I hadn't crossed the finish line yet. As I entered the town, my amazing crew met me and we all ran in together. I crossed the finish line in 41:00:40 hours. I'm so happy I stuck with it and completed this adventure. My time wasn't anything to write home about but all of the memories I have are unforgettable! 

I can't wait to be back there to run it again! Until then, I'll be cheering on all my friends who are running it :) good luck to all of you :)

Here's a little video of my adventure. It's not professional by any means but it does have some real photoage and some nice shots of the trail and mountains. https://youtu.be/Jd4_4kh6QGo 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

May and June Update

The past couple months have been crazy...First, I started a new job. Like with any new job, there's a learning curve but this one is especially difficult. I'll be happy with it once I really got all the pieces down and I'm comfortable with the environment.

Momma & Addie in Tahoe
Addie is amazing me every day. She speaks so well now. She's remembering things and talking about them and able to express herself so much more than she used to. She's also super lovable and sweet. It's the best feeling in the world to have her come up to me, grab me by the face and kiss me. I know I've said this before but, I'm so lucky to be her mother!

Coach AJW w/Athletes Becky & Dreama
I've also been working with my coach, AJW, which has been awesome! I had teetered with the thought of a coach for a while and I'm so happy I made the decision and commitment. Training has been much more structured and consistent, which really is the key. I am especially glad that I joined the CTS team, they are a group of true professionals and I feel I'm in good hands with them! I'm putting all my trust in the process and trying very hard to do exactly as I'm supposed to. I believe that if I do my part, I will see results. People have told me, when working with a coach, I really need to give it a year before I see a difference, so I'm being patient but excited for the future at the same time.

Day 2 - CTS High Altitude Training Camp
Last month, I attended a 3 day High Altitude Training Camp over Memorial Day Weekend, which was a ton of fun and very educational. It was my first running camp but definitely not my last. Even though a lot of what we discussed is stuff we all kind of know, it was really nice to hear it all again and reinforce the importance of certain things like nutrition and hydration. There was also stuff I had never heard of, like different training methodologies and how there are new ways that have been proven to produce better results in athlete's performance. I also really enjoyed the camp because I got in a lot of mileage with some pretty awesome people. Many of those people made a lasting impression on me and I'm really happy I got the chance to share some miles with them. I also got to run on some trails in my area that I hadn't been on yet, which was great. On the last day of camp we ran up to Mt. Rosa (11,500ft) and I was able to get this beautiful panoramic photo (see below).

Mt. Rosa Summit
LT & VO2 Max Testing - CTS
After the training camp I got the privilege to have my VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold tested at the CTS facility in Colorado Springs. I was so nervous both for the results and for the actual act of testing. I had done it one time before in Germany and so I kind of knew what to expect. Although, this test was much better quality. For example, during the test for LT they prick your finger every 3 mins to determine how much lactate is in your blood while continually increasing the workload. That part of the test was the easy part...the VO2 max portion however is what had me so nervous. Basically, you run until you see stars. What I primarily remember from those last few minutes were Coach Koop saying "This is where it gets hard", lots of "Go, Go Go" and "Push 30 more seconds"...but I heard that one a couple of times :) The VO2 Max part of the test went on for 9 minutes. I was a little disappointed with the results but I guess it just means I need to work a little harder to have the best engine I can. I can't THANK the CTS team enough for giving me this opportunity!!! You guys are AWESOME!

This month I ran in the Broken Arrow Skyrace. I chose this race because they claimed it was just like European Skyrace and because it had 10,000 feet of elevation gain in just 52km. It was also in a part of the U.S. I had not been to yet.  I was hoping to place better than I did but, all I can do is keep trying. The day before the race we arrived in Squaw Valley. Actually, we almost didn't make it. We were at the Denver Airport waiting to board, talking with a fellow trail runner, Amanda P. who was also running the race. As we were talking Addie was being silly, laying on the ground. Bj grabbed her by the arm to pick her up and right then, we all heard a pop. She was immediately crying and couldn't move her arm. I swore it was out of socket! It was so scary, we grabbed everything and took off to find medical assistance. On our way to get help, Addie stopped crying but was still holding her arm as if it hurt. After a few minutes a medic came and inspected Addie, she determined that her shoulder was not out of socket and that it probably just got over extended. So, with minutes to spare we ran back to our gate and were the last to board the plane. We got lucky on so many levels!  After we landed in Reno, we went straight from the airport to grab lunch with Amanda at a local brewery since we were all starving.

Broken Arrow Skyrace Race Brief
After lunch we drove about 45 mins to the campground where we would stay for the next 4 days. Addie loved it. I told her that the tent was our home and from that point on she called it her "yellow home". After we got the tent set up, we headed over to the packet pickup and race brief. In the brief they said many, many times..."there's lots of snow". What they should have said was "There is more snow than most of you have probably ever ran on". That is definitely the case for me, at least. After the brief, I took in the beauty around me. This was my first time in California and although I heard it was beautiful, it was nice to see it for myself. The mountains were rocky with lots of pines and trees scattered throughout and since they had a very heavy snow year (900+cm) there was still lots of snow on top, which made it very magical looking.
The Yellow Home

The race started at a very practical 0700 on Saturday, which was great because getting ready in a tent with a toddler requires a little bit of extra time...it was a little chilly in the morning so after I got dressed, I started the car and tuned on the heat so I could wake and change Addie in the warmth. Fortunately, I was able to get enough sleep the night before with the normal interruptions because either myself or Addie would fall off of the "one person" mat. She is becoming quite the camping pro though. She didn't even cry when she fell off, she just says "momma, I fall". I would still be kind of sleeping as I grabbed her and pulled her back on. I did notice a little bit of stiffness in my body since I could really only sleep on my left side but, I figured that would be the least of my problems in a couple hours. We arrived at the start just in time for me to drop my drop bag off and get to the starting line. I really wanted to get a coffee but with 10 mins to the start of the race, I decided trying to find a place to sell me coffee wasn't the best idea. 

Stairway to Heaven - Ascending Squaw Peak
The course was beautiful, harder than I thought, mainly because of all the snow. Where there wasn't snow (in the lower sections), there was mud from the melted snow so we went from wet muddy feet to wet snowy feet pretty much all day. Prior to the race, I thought I would be able to make up some lost time on the downhills but since the downhills were covered in snow, it was more like skiing without skis which meant lots of falling and inconsistent stride. It was hard to keep a pace because every couple feet I would either fall or sink deep into the snow, sometimes all the way up to my knees! This was also pretty exhausting because so much physical and mental effort went into trying to stay up and moving forward. The race DID remind me of a European skyrace, lots of cheering, amazing volunteers, steep climbs in the snow, beautiful views and a festive atmosphere. This was only the second year of the race but it was so well organized that it seemed like a more mature event. It was awesome, I highly recommend it and I definitely want to go back and run it again!

1st Summit of Pikes Peak - June 24th, 2017

This past weekend I finally got to summit Pikes Peak, my first 14'er! I didn't get to run it except towards the end because I was hiking with Bj, but it was actually good because I got to pick up a lot of stones that I had been wanting to stop and grab on some of my runs. It was also good because I was able to scope out the route we take during the Pikes Peak Marathon which I'm doing in August. Now, I just need to run up and down it many times before the race!

So, what now? Well, I'm training to run the Silver Rush 50 miler in the beginning of July. I haven't done that distance in over a year now so we'll see how it goes. 

I'm so thankful for everything that is going on in my life. I feel happy and grateful with all that is happening. I'm just going to continue to work hard and play hard. Life is too short to let it pass us by with doubts of what could have been...I choose to live life! 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Life Update - New Coach, New Job & New Adventures

If there is one thing I can say, life is NOT boring! First, for the past couple months I have been working with a coach. Anyone in the trail, mountain and ultra community knows who he is. He is a legend and I am excited to learn as much as I can from him! For those who read this and don't know much about the sport just Google AJW or Andy Jones Wilkins. I have always wondered what my running potential is and I'm hoping that this will be the year I find out!

My racing schedule for the year (so far):
Okay, so the second BIG piece of news is....I accepted a new job. I'm working on a really neat project doing IT Systems Administration work for the military health system. We are providing a solution that combines Army/Navy radiology imaging into one archive so studies can be retrieved and viewed from any facility. And, just as it always happens when you start one new opportunity, others present themselves... earlier this week I received a call from the University of Colorado saying that I would be accepted into their Health Promotion Masters program this Fall. Unfortunately, I had to turn it down at this time since, I just accepted and started working at my new job. They did say they hope I decide to apply at a future date. We'll see...

And the last big update is we are still in the early processes of building a home. We bought the property and are working permits and inspections so that we can start building. I can't wait. As I mentioned before the property is up in the mountains, 8600ft...it's going to be amazing once we actually live there. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mesquite Canyon 50km

I just got back from Phoenix where I ran the Aravaipa Mesquite Canyon 50km in the White Tank Regional Park. Originally, I was signed up to run the 50 miler but about two weeks out I emailed the race organization to ask if I could drop to the 50km. Fortunately, it wasn't a problem because I hadn't run anything longer than a 30km in many months so I felt I wouldn't be able to do very well in the 50miler.

Race morning started much like all the other races except instead of getting ready in a hotel room, I was at my friend's house. It worked out perfect because I was going to leave Addie with my friend for the day while I used her car to go to and from the race. That was the plan we came up with the night before. But, that morning as I was eating my peanut butter & jelly and getting my hydration pack together my friend came out of her room and said that I could take her husband's car. She said this would be better because she and the girls would then be able to come up later on to see me finish. I was a little scared about driving her husband's really nice Audi but I also was happy that they were going to come see me since I was feeling that it was going to be a little lonely to finish and not have my daughter and friend there. So, at 5am I left the house, drove very carefully all the way there and as I  entered the park to pay for parking I felt and heard an awful noise.  I immediately backed the car up and asked the attendant if I did any damage although I knew I had. She said "yeah a little". So I continued driving to the start of the race which was quite a ways in the White Tank park. When I got out I took a look and saw I had scratched the rim of the tire a little. I felt bad but I had to hurry off and pick up my bib and get ready to start since I only had about 15mins. 

As in all of my races, I went into it with the mindset that I would push hard but run my own race. I would go by feel and listen to my body. As I toed the line, so to speak and listened to the race brief I was feeling the adrenalin and excitement that I always do right before the start. The countdown began and 10 secs later we were off! I was following the guy in front of me who happened to be Charlie Ware, there was also a guy running along side me named Doug Aroca. As we were running, I saw signs for the 50mi/30km race and I had a feeling we were not going the right way so I asked Doug. He told me we were and that we shared the same route as the 50 miler course. After about another mile or more the lead guy Charlie said he "didn't know about us, but he was turning around". At that point I also did not think we were going in the right direction so I told Doug, "I'm going with him". The three of us headed back in the direction we came and got back on course right before the first checkpoint. The two guys went through, as did I but, I was the LAST person to run through it. I didn't stop at it but, I did ask how far ahead everyone was, the nice lady there said "not too far, don't worry". Easier said than done. I was worried. I didn't see anyone ahead of me but as soon as I started running up the mountain I passed a lady and right as I ran by her I noticed my nose was running and then I realized it was blood. Luckily, I ran by another lady who I saw had tissue so I asked if I could have a piece of it. She saw my situation and gave me a clean piece and asked if I was alright. I told her I felt fine, thanked her and kept going. I was feeling good and was able to run a good pace up the mountain. I didn't feel the need to power hike at all. At the second checkpoint, I didn't fill up my pack and they told me as I was leaving that we had 9 miles to the next checkpoint. Since I was trying to make up the lost time/distance, I felt I could get by with the amount of water in my pack.

The next 9 miles went by really easy but as I started to get close to the turn around point I felt the heat getting to me a little and my stomach felt a bit queasy. At the checkpoint I filled up my pack and ate a couple pieces of watermelon and took off. Right away the nauseousness came back, I wanted to ignore it so I still tried to run a little. About a half a mile down the the way I began a violent episode of vomiting.  A female runner asked if I were alright and I told her yeah and that I thought it was the heat...she just said "good, keep going!" So, for the next mile I power hiked, which was ok because it just happened to be a pretty steep climb. By the time I got close to the top my stomach had settled and I felt good again, actually I felt great! I ended up running from that point on and didn't have to power hike again. I felt strong and as if I were still running within my limits. I continued to pass runners and move up in the field. Right as I was getting to the 4th checkpoint I fell hard. I landed on both knees and elbows and slid a little. I was able to get up and shake it off, got to the checkpoint, filled up my pack and took off.  I was running really well at this point and then what do you know, I fell again. This time wasn't nearly as bad but it slowed me down for a second.

The final section of the race was crazy. We ran in a dried up riverbed that had huge rocks you had to climb down on and at times slide on your butt. In between the rocks were sections of sand and mossy water pools. It was a lot of fun but at times I felt like I was running two steps forward and one step back. This section lasted quite a while, I'm not sure the exact distance but I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to get on solid ground again.

Once the trail did head back up in the Canyon I ran up behind a girl named Lora that was in my race, she was in 3rd place. I ran right behind her and we arrived at the final checkpoint at the same time...and boy oh boy, this checkpoint couldn't have come at a better time...I was out of water and SOOOOO HOT! The temp was about 94 at this point and it felt like it. Lora left the aid station about a minute before me because I had to finish putting Tailwind and water in my pack. I knew she was right in front of me so I tried to run as well as I could. I ended up not catching her and finished 4th for women and 9th overall. You can check out the results here!

What I love about this sport is that it challenges each and every one of us in different ways and we're tested every time we race. There aren't many things that test the human body and mind as an ultra distance race does. But, it's the times when we overcome the obstacles, that we win. I didn't do as well as I wanted in this race but because I had so many obstacles I overcame and made it to the finish, I felt like a winner :)

Some things I would like to say about this race is:

1. It was challenging but so beautiful. The Spring flowers were in full bloom and they really made it a sight to see!
2. The organization was really great despite my getting off course...that was my own mistake and something that can happen when you are in the front.
3. The volunteers were soooooo amazing. They were all so kind and helpful. They filled up your hydration pack for you while you got something in your stomach so as to not waste time and it was great.

Would I go back? Absolutely!

A BIG THANKS to all those who helped me! I couldn't have done this without my friend, Suany, who watched my daughter! It was so awesome of her to bring two toddlers to the finish and wait for me in the heat...she's a true friend. I wouldn't have felt as good as I did without Tailwind, so thanks for getting me through another long day. And thanks to Ryan, who was so understanding when I told him I ruined his rim.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Springs

It has been 57 days since moving to Colorado Springs and as I'm sure you can imagine, things have been quite busy with lots of changes, adjustments and new experiences. One of the biggest of changes is that I've decided to leave my job in the government and pursue a new career path. Even though there are a lot of things I enjoy about IT, I have felt a strong desire to go into a field that I'm more passionate about. So, I've chosen to take the opportunity of this move to do just that. I'm applying for my Masters in Health Promotion at UCCS. Hopefully, I get in this Spring but since I had to rush to meet the application deadline, I'm prepared to wait until Fall to apply, if it comes to that. In the meantime, I'm at home with Adelaide which is both challenging and amazing. I love seeing her development and enjoy knowing I'm playing an active role. I'm also trying to train/run as much as I can and for the next 5 weeks I'm in Core Power Teacher Training so that I can become a better Yogi and teach, if I so choose. I'm really enjoying Yoga. This is my 3rd week in the 8 week program and it's great...challenging, but great. Yoga is so amazing! I wish everyone would practice so they too can benefit from it. I really enjoy the feeling of control, strength and connection with my body and mind...it is so empowering.

Some other notable changes are, we are buying land in an area called Crystal Park, our property is a little above 8600ft with a view of Cameron Cone and little bit of Pikes Peak. Once we close we will begin the building process which I'm pretty excited about. Until then, we are living in a cheap not so great apartment...but it's worth it since soon we will be living IN the mountains...a dream come true.

Since being back in the states, we have traveled twice to Phoenix to visit our besties, we've been snowboarding in Breckenridge, Colorado and in the Snowbowl, Arizona. I realized this last trip that I hate my snowboard and that I'm ready for a new one. I tried out a Never Summer Infinity board and fell in LOVE! It was a-maz-ing. I could not believe what a difference it made to my riding. I was able to fly down the mountain, have complete control, transition and ride better than I ever have.

Other than going to my races we have one big trip planned...we are going to Peru. I cannot wait. I'm going to get to see where my grandmother is from, meet lots of family and FINALLY see South America and hike Machu Picchu! It's going to be an amazing vacation...especially because my Aunt & Uncle, Cousins and our best friends will be joining us. It will be a truly epic trip!

Addie is growing and speaking so well. She understands everything and is really starting test boundaries. She's amazing though, so sweet, loving and really really smart. Her vocabulary is huge, she tries to repeat everything. The other day she had several new words all in one day. She can now say "me, YoYo, green and bowl". She is also putting sentences together...three word sentences such as "that's daddy's bike" "that's momma's bike" It's pretty crazy.

I've signed up for several US races so far for the year, unfortunately, I won't be able to run the European races I was planning on running. But that's ok, because I'm excited to run in the US...I've never raced anything over a 15k here. It's going to be a very new experience and I'm kind of excited about it. I'm going to do a race in Arizona called the Mesquite Canyon, then I'm running the Broken Arrow in Lake Tahoe and as of today, I'm running the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Okay, so that's about it for an update. Things are going well...I'm excited for each new adventure that comes my way.

- Namaste ;)
Enjoying my first run in Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Addie and I in Garden of the Gods

Barr Trail

Snow Bowl, AZ with our amazing friends!

The girls having some fun in Phoenix :)

Ran up Camelback in Phoenix

A little International Women's Day selfie :)

Addie and momma at the park enjoying a sunny day in March

Climbing the Incline

Our property on Sunrise Peak in Crystal Park

View of our future home from Barr Trail

The Manitou Incline

Addie and I with Pikes Peak behind us