Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Nanny Goat 100 miler - Race Recap Part 1

I did it! I'm officially part of the 100 mile club! I still can't believe this happened.  Thank you so much to all of you for all the texts, messages, emails, posts and tweets of support and encouragement. It meant the world to me!  I'm still absorbing everything that happened so please forgive me for taking my time in trying to fully put into words what the entire experience was like.

While I'm still working on a race recap, I thought I'd at the very least share what the day before the race was like.  My fabulous crew, Brian and Kandace Jones, were gracious enough to not only crew and pace me but also drive me out to Riverside in their motorhome.  You can't imagine how wonderfully convenient it is to actually sleep in a bed and be able to literally pop out of the door literally steps away from the race start.  Not to mention having the option of a hot shower immediately after race and a chance to sleep on a bed on the way home. Holla!

The best race crew in the world

We had plans to leave around 11:00 AM so I was able to actually sleep in and get 9 full hours of sleep.  WOOHOO!  I can never get any sleep the night before a race so every hour of sleep two nights before is critical for me.  As soon as I woke-up I went through all of my things to make sure I didn't forget anything and got ready to head over to the Jones'.  They already had the "Moho" pulled out and pretty much ready to go so we were on the road in no time!
Riverside here I come!

Any trip with the Jones' is a party and I had a ton of fun on the drive down to Southern California.  Of course, it wasn't long before I realized that I had forgotten my Garmin among a few other things.  It never fails!  Thankfully I knew that the RD would have a huge screen at the race that displays our mileage and the time so it wasn't a huge deal that I didn't have it with me.  Thank goodness! 

Even with my amazing crew keeping me entertained on the drive, it was still quite a haul to get ourselves over to the race venue.  During the drive the temperature got significantly warmer and warmer as we got further south which was a bit alarming to me.  I don't run well in heat so I was really nervous about that.  Still, the weather report was predicting a cooler day on race day so I had my fingers crossed.  And then of course we hit the infamous SoCal traffic which slowed us to a crawl...but at least we were moving!  After 8 hours of driving we made it!

Nanny Goat is held on a beautiful privately owned horse ranch that is surrounded by groves of orange and flowering trees.  I immediately hopped out and headed straight to the barn to check out the layout of our group's stall and where the aid station and timing areas were going to be located.  As soon as I walked up to the barn I noticed that it looked like a little tent city with the tents of all the runners who were camping out for the night surrounding it.  There were also tons of signs with words of encouragement and support already posted around the course area.

One of the beautiful horses on the Sexton's ranch


Heck yeah!

Once I scoped out the barn, I went back to the moho and grabbed my race gear to deposit in our stall.  I also took a quick lap around the course with my fellow runner, Sofie, to get a preview of what it was like.  Apparently, I didn't really walk the full course 'cuz I was in for a surprise on race day!

My fellow Team Superhero teammate, Terri

After walking what I thought was the full course loop, I popped back into the barn to do one last gear check to make sure everything I needed was in the stall.  I got to meet some fellow runners and say hi to runner friends that I already knew.  With my gear check done, I headed back to the moho to try to get some sleep.  I have the worst time sleeping the night before a race.  I'm an extremely light sleeper to begin with and have trouble adjusting to new environments since every little sound wakes me up, but add to that the nervousness and excitement of an upcoming race and it's a recipe for disaster.  Eventually I was able to doze off, albeit in a light and fitful bout of sleep, and had dreams of running and races going through my head.

To be continued....  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

T-2 Days 'Til "Goat" Time!

Whew, I got a bit of anxiety and "butterflies in the tummy" action just by typing out that title.  Nanny Goat 24 hour is this weekend and I am in full on freakout mode!  This is my big, scary race of the year and I can't help but think I'm not remotely ready to do 100 miles (and quite a bit crazy to even attempt it).

For those who aren't familiar with Nanny Goat, it's an ultramarathon held at a private horse ranch in Riverside, CA that offers a 12 hour and 24 hour race option (as well as a relay for the 24 hour option).  For those who are looking to earn the 100 mile buckle, runners must complete 86 miles or more by the 24 hour cut-off and are then allotted an additional 4 hours to complete the full 100 miles.  There is a firm 28 hour cut-off for all 100 mile runners.

This is the 100 mile buckle.  Isn't it pretty?

The kicker is this race is set on a one mile loop course.  That's right, one mile.  As in I have to run 100 loops on the trail to get in 100 miles.  Sounds fun, right?!  I've done looped courses before and as mentally challenging as they are, there's a certain comfort in knowing that support/aid stations aren't far away and that as you fatigue your legs retain a certain muscle memory of the course making moving forward almost automatic. Plus, there are porta potties along the course which apparently is a rarity for ultramarathons.

The biggest scary thing about this race for me is the heat.  Thankfully the predicted weather forecast has gone down quite a bit (it originally showed race weekend temps with a high of 92/93.  EEK!) but it's still quite toasty for this coastal gal.  When I ran my first ultramarathon last year, Run-de-Vous 100k, my body overheated quite a bit and the temps didn't rise above 78 degrees or so.  I literally had a meltdown on the course!  Then I had a popsicle and was happy as a clam again.  I'm telling ya, the emotional highs and lows at ultras are ridiculous!

So hot!

So now I'm sitting here going over my list of stuff to bring and laying everything out to pack so that I don't forget anything.  I always forget how much stuff is needed for a race of this magnitude until I write it all out and lay it out on my living room floor.  And there are tons of things that I still need to buy to bring with me.  It's quite a tedious process!

My living room floor. And I'm not even close to being done packing.

Most of all I'm just trying to remember to breathe and calm myself down.  The training is done, there's nothing more that I can do at this point to change the outcome of race weekend and whatever will happen out on the course will happen.  All that I can do is give it my very best and leave everything I have out on the race course.

Do you have any race mantras that you use on race day? I can use all of the suggestions and positive thoughts that I can get!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hello Track! I missed you...but not really

Today was the first day of track for the Team In Training fall season.  I really look forward to these track sessions primarily because I'm lazy (yes, I admit it!) and I'm not fond of speedwork so these TNT track sessions are a way to hold me accountable and get me to actually do speedwork.  Plus, getting to run with a group is always more fun than trying to slog it out solo.

Truth: I hate speedwork.  It's my kryptonite.  There's something about running around in circles on a track that is sooo hard for me.  And forget even trying to get me on the dreadmill to do it!  That's why I'm always so happy when TNT season starts up.  The workout is already set by the coaches and I get to run with a bunch of people who push me to go faster and harder than I would on my own.  It's a win-win!

Since this was the very first track session the workout was simple: 2 lap warm-up, 1 mile speedwork (hard effort the straight-aways, medium effort on the curves) and a 2 lap cool down.  Geez am I out of shape!  It was only a mile of speedowork but trying to push pace on those straight-aways kicked my butt.  I was so embarrassed.

At least I now have a baseline with which to gauge my speed.  I can only get better and faster from here, right?!

So happy to be done!

Do you do speedwork on the track or treadmill?  What's the hardest speed workout that you do?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saturday Shenanigans and Sunday Fun Day

This weekend was a busy one and I feel like I'm ready to nap for a week to recover!  It all started with meeting up with our local Team In Training team first thing on Saturday morning for kick-off and our first coached group run.  I really love TNT.  I ran my very first full marathon through TNT in memory of my Auntie Belma and the organization and cause has held a special place in my heart ever since.  I've returned again this year as a run team mentor and I'm uber excited to get to know the participants and help them reach their fitness goals.

They had cheer posters for us!

With the head run coach and one of the other run team mentors

Look at that beautiful group!

Running & walking to cure cancer. GO TEAM!

After kick-off and the run, I headed home for a quick shower before meeting up with my friends Linda and Mariana to shop for dresses for Mariana's wedding.  I had so much fun hanging out, laughing and shopping with them and we stayed out all day (even though neither Linda or I found a dress for the wedding. Oops!).  When we finally got back into town, Linda was kind enough to help me make cheer posters for the Capitola Half Marathon and Surfer's Path Marathon that I was planning on spectating the next day.  It ended up being a really late night and thanks to insomnia I didn't get to sleep until 2:00 AM.

My alarm went off bright and early this morning and my friend Tyson and I headed out to Capitola at 6:30 AM to spectate.  My friends Sarah (Tyson's fiancee) and Chantel were running their very first marathon and we wanted to be there to support them as well as our other friends who were running.  The Surfer's Path Marathon is composed of two out and back sections.  The first half starts at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and heads out to Capitola and back.  It's great for spectating since we get to see our friends on the way out and again on the way back while standing in the same spot.  We met up with our friends Michele and Mike at mile 4 of the race where Michele and I then proceeded to be the most obnoxiously loud race spectators/cheerleaders ever.  We had so much fun!  We got to cheer on our friends Kandace, Nichole, Peyton (who was running her first half marathon), Noel (who was also running her first half marathon), Dean, Sarah and Chantel as well as everyone else who we saw on the course.  We would run with strangers, high five runners and hand out bananas/Gu's to those who needed it.  Once all of our friends passed by we meandered back to the car (cheering along the way of course) to head over to our next cheer stop at mile 16/21.

Team M&M getting our cheer on

Cheesing at mile 4/9ish

The second half of the Surfer's Path Marathon was also an out and back which made spectating a breeze.  We hunkered down at mile 16/22 where we were soon joined by other spectators and proceeded to yell, scream, and high five everyone who ran by.  I loved watching the runners perk up and smile/laugh as they passed by.  I think we all got a second hand runners high from cheering everyone on.  I was yelling and cheering so much that it'll be interesting to see whether or not I still have my voice tomorrow!

Mile 16/22

Once our runner friends passed by for the last time and we sent them along their way to the finish with some overly enthusiastic words of encouragement, we packed up and headed over to the race finish to make sure we were there to watch them cross that finish line.  Let me tell you, it is an amazing thing to watch others run across that finish line with faces full of smiles, pride and joy at completing such an incredible journey.  My favorite was getting to see my friends cross that marathon finish line for the very first time.  It's almost like reliving my very first marathon all over again through them.

Dean ran an impressive 11 minute PR 

Congrats Sarah! You are officially a marathoner today!

Team M&M Cheer Squad with the awesome marathon finishers

I am so happy for everyone who raced today and I am beaming with pride for all that they've each accomplished.  Today was the culmination of all of their sweat, tears and hard work and it was a privilege to get to watch them celebrate their success.  I can't wait to spectate another race in the near future!

Have you ever spectated a race or had someone come support you during a race by spectating/cheering you on?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life didn't go as planned

Life has been crazy lately.  It's been quite a ride with all of the changes and commitments I've currently been juggling in both my personal and professional life.  It's really made doing my required runs and workouts more difficult than it should be.

This weekend I was in Southern California to help my baby sister out with wedding planning, wedding dress shopping, finding my MoH dress as well as spending time with my mom for Mother's Day.  My sister's wedding is scheduled for June (as in next month) so it's been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get everything done.  I had grand plans to get a run in every day that I was there but with all of the things that we had scheduled it just didn't happen and I'm ok with that.  As much as I'd love to have gotten the mileage in, I wouldn't trade the time I spent with my family for anything.

I'm pretty sure this was written for me

The truth is life isn't all unicorns and butterflies and rainbows.  Things happen and despite our best intentions some things just don't go as planned and that's ok.  It's been a really hard lesson for me to learn and I'm still learning to accept this truth completely (my type A OCD self has a hard time letting things go).

And if I'm really being truthful, I have to admit I've been extremely overwhelmed these days.  I've over committed myself and I'm burning the candle at both ends to make everything happen.  Something had to give and unfortunately that thing has been my running.  

My big scary 100 mile race is coming up in less than 2 weeks and I'm terrified that this lull in my training will wreak havoc for me on race day.  But unfortunately it is what it is.  There is nothing that I can do this close to race day to make up for the miles that I've missed so I have to leave it all up to the ultra gods and pray that my stubbornness and persistence will be enough for me to gut it out to the finish.

My 100 miler will also be my last race until July.  As weird as it is to not have a race every month I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to the break.  I really think I need the time to regroup, clear my head and find my passion for running again.  Some me time is desperately needed.

Not to worry though!  I'll be back to my happy, cheery running self in no time.  I promise!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Big Sur International Marathon Part 2 - Race Recap

Oh BSIM how I love you! This is the third year that I've ran this race but this time was hands down my favorite.  It was by far and away a PW for me but also without question one of my happiest races to date.  I'm going to try my very best to keep this as short as possible but I have to warn you that this is going to be one picture heavy post.  Sorry but I'm not sorry.  Ready? Here we go....

It was a super early wake-up call on race morning.  3:00 AM to be exact!  After hemming and hawing I switched out my shorts and compression socks for capris, a decision I would later regret.  I headed out the door at 3:45 AM to get to the shuttles but it was way too early for me to get any food into my system so I took it with me.  I met up with 5 other RFRC'ers and by 4:15 AM the shuttle was on it's way to the start line.  Despite the early time, there was a lot of chatter on the shuttle (I'm guessing everyone had some nervous or excited energy to get out).  I passed the time trying to choke down my banana and bagel with almond butter and chatting with my friends.  Before we knew it, we were at the starting line area.

We all hopped off the shuttle and immediately headed for the porta potties (hooray for no lines!) then searched for the rest of our RFRC crew.  Thankfully, we found them pretty easily near the Runner's World Challenge flag.  We chatted with everyone and we all mentioned how unusually warm it was.  It was a preview of the weather to come!  After a while a few of us broke away for one more potty stop before the race started.  We got back just in time to take a group pic and head over to the start line.

Some of the RFRC crew

RFRC selfie at the start line

Once at the start line we listened to the National Anthem, heard a few words from our race announcers and Deena Kastor and then we were off!  Big Sur's first 10 miles are dangerous because they're mostly downhill so it's easy for runners to go faster than they should.  I made sure to hold back my pace and took the first 10 miles nice and easy.  But man was it warm!  There wasn't even a cooling breeze like there usually was.  I was sweating within the first mile and I instantly regretted switching out my shorts for capris.  Nevertheless, I was able keep my pace exactly where I wanted it at about a 10:30 min/mile.

Running selfie with Kelly

Then I hit the base of Hurricane Point, right before mile 10, where the taiko drums were sending everyone off for their two mile climb.  I made a quick stop at the drums and helped send a few runners up the hill.  So much fun!

A little further up the hill was the mile 10 marker. 2 miles up!

At the mile 10 marker I ran into my friend Danni and we tackled Hurricane Point together.  Having someone to chat with definitely made the uphill climb go a lot faster.  We reached the summit of Hurricane Point and could hear the lovely sound of the grand piano.  I took a quick look behind me to marvel at beauty of the hill we just conquered and then turned forward to take in the the magnificent Bixby Bridge.

We then started on the one mile downhill towards towards the halfway point on Bixby Bridge.  Danni is a phenomenal downhill runner and charged but I wanted to save my quads for the downhills on the second half of the course so I took a more conservative pace.  Of course, I had to stop and take a selfie with the grand piano and Michael Martinez in the background.

Caught taking pics

 After Bixby is where the course starts to get interesting.  You're treated to gorgeous views but also non-stop rolling hills.  You're either going up or going down.  Needless to say by this point I was quite content to take it nice and easy and I didn't hesitate to stop and take a picture along the way when I felt the need (I haven't mastered the whole running and taking pictures with my iPhone thing yet).

I ran across the highway just to grab a pic with these two cuties

As I was stopped on the side of the highway taking a picture a little past the mile 18 marker, my friend Michele caught up to me.  Michele was having a tough race and was in pain thanks to the relentless hills so I decided to stick with her for the rest of the race.  We kept moving forward, chatting along the way and walking when Michele needed to.  I think the camber in the road at this point was really starting to affect our running.  If you're not careful you can really hurt yourself trying to run on that angle but we both made sure to either run in the middle of the road or towards the sides where it was flatter.  I also played race paparazzi and would either stop to take a pic then run to catch up with Michele or I would run forward to take a pic then wait for Michele to catch up.  As you'll see below, I took a whole lot of pics (these are just a choice few):  

 Mile 23 marked one of my favorite parts of the race: the strawberry tables!  I had been raving about how delicious the strawberries were and how much I couldn't wait to have some since mile 20 so once the tables were in sight I left Michele's side and sprinted towards them (sorry Michele!).  They were sooo good and refreshing!


This little girl was in charge.  I asked for a sassy pose and she did this.

After a quick wave and thank you to all of the volunteers, I reluctantly left the strawberry tables and rejoined Michele to finish the course.  We passed Point Lobos chatting with our fellow runners, some from other states and one who chose to run Big Sur as her very first marathon!

Point Lobos

Soon we were at mile 25 and face to face with the last real hill in the race.  It's funny how quickly people who were chatting happily only moments before suddenly become angry cursing individuals when faced with a mile that they need to run up at mile 25.  We got up and over and started speeding up towards the finish.  Once we hit the mile 26 marker we turned on the speed and sprinted in for the last .2 and across the finish line.

That's exactly how I felt too.  Stupid hill at mile 25!

I was apparently too focused on the finish to notice our friend with the camera

Official finisher!

As soon as we crossed that finish line, we grabbed our box of post-race grub and headed straight for the recovery zone at the Treadmill where we met up with the rest of the RFRC group.  One of the perks of this race is the recovery zone set up with an ice bath pool, recovery drink station, ice cream cart and every kind of roller known to man.  I immediately gulped down some C12 Recovery and grabbed some ice cream while Michele dunked herself in the ice bath pool.  We then proceeded to chat with everyone about their race experiences and happily munched on the goodies from our grub box.  Once everyone had eaten, ice bathed and rolled we all shuffled over to the shuttles that would take us back into Monterey.

Happy marathoners

I love this medal

I loved this race experience so much.  I had so much fun and there was no time pressure so I truly got to enjoy everything BSIM had to offer.  Sure, a part of me wonders what I could have done had I actually tried to truly push pace and "race" but I have no regrets.  I wouldn't change how I ran this race for a second. 

There are some races that are meant to be run fast, to truly be raced, so that we can see to what limits our bodies can be pushed.  This was not one of those races.  This race was meant to be enjoyed, to savor each step and each moment.  This race was a journey and epic adventure.  And I can't wait to run it again next year!