HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY SQUEAKER

Dearest Squeaker,

It is hard to believe that you are turning 5 years old and leaving the only “school” you have ever known. Daycare is over my dear. Welcome to Kindergarten. Welcome to life!

Kindergarten Orientation 2016
Kindergarten Orientation 2016

Besides getting taller, not much has changed with you in a year. You still wake up smiling (most of the time), eager to get dressed so long as you can pick out the clothes. You are always ready to start your day.

Even with a crown.
Even with a crown.

I love that you tried soccer, basketball and t-ball this year sometimes as the only girl on the team. Always in a tutu.

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I love that despite your hesitations, you tried out for the TAZ Swim Team and now join your sister in practices, laps and laughter.

Gathering ribbons!
Gathering ribbons!

I love the sing-a-longs during our long commutes home. I will miss belting out Bon Jovi and PINK lyrics with you while dancing down the freeway each afternoon.

My partner in crime.
My partner in crime.

I love that you are eager to learn. You ask us, “How do you spell ….” probably 10 times a day at least.

I love that you get frustrated with the boys at daycare “for not listening!” Honey, that may never change. 🙂

Goofball
Goofball

I love when you get excited that Daddy is home and you run to the garage to help him do yard work or fix his bike.

Daddy's girl
Daddy’s girl

I love that you still adore your sister even when she is not nice to you. I also love that you call her out when she is being mean. You can push her buttons better than anyone but she is still your everything.

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I love that when you grow up, you tell people that you want to be a mom. My heart grows about tens sizes every time I hear it.

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I have no doubts that you will be a fantastic mom.

I love that you have such a connection with your Poppy and that you ask to talk to him all the time.

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I love that your energy and laughter is infectious. Your giggles make those around you smile.

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Most of all Squeaker, I love that you see life as one giant adventure. You are forever curious, forever attentive and always ready to go.

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I hope you never lose that spark I see when I look at you and I know others see as well. You have something kid, something special and I know that you will go far if you follow your heart.

The first of many graduations for you.
The first of many graduations for you.

You make us proud Squeaker. You make us laugh. You make us love. You make me happy to be your mom.

Folsom Lake 1

Thank you for blessing this family with your imagination, your sense of humor and your unwavering love and kindness.

Family
Family

Happy Birthday Squeaker!!  We love you to the moon and back!

My heart always,

Mom

Some classic Squeaker memories …

Always trying to make us laugh - even if it meant wearing underwear on the outside of her clothes.
Always trying to make us laugh – even if it meant wearing underwear on the outside of her clothes.
Always cracking herself up. Not much has changed.
Always cracking herself up. Not much has changed.
Our always smiling girl.
Our always smiling girl.

 

 

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WHY ARE EATING PLANTS SO OFFENSIVE?

The last few days of school are upon us. While my kids are super excited for summer to start, they will miss seeing their friends on a daily basis.

However with the end of school, comes the end of school treats and celebrations.

Just this week, the Peanut had pizza on a field trip even though I packed a lunch for her (sigh – she paid the price with a tummy ache later). She had donuts in class the next day for their “free day” celebration. Finally, the classroom parents planned to have an Ice Cream Sundae Bar for the kids on the last day of school. They sent out an email requesting parents provide the following:

SundaeList

I know the kids would love this. I know MY kid would love this (and then pay for it later). I replied suggesting perhaps fruit popsicles could be an option instead combined with a classroom activity. I wasn’t rude and I even offered to supply all the popsicles for the class.

The suggestion was well received but only as an ADDITION to the sundaes bring provided. Fine, that’s okay with me. I just wanted an alternative even though I know going up against an ice cream sundae bar, there will most likely be many left over fruit popsicles.

image from: www.neocate.com
image from: www.neocate.com

I know and I understand that my thinking and way of eating is unfortunately in the minority compared to most people.  I get that.

My intentions are not to completely eliminate food as treats at school but I do believe, that if we are going continue to have these “treats” then a balance needs to happen.  Provide healthy alternatives OR alternate treats with activities! Such as jumping rope, hopscotch or kickball etc. Get our kids moving instead. I remember at the end of school our classroom “treat” was getting to play Heads Up 7-Up in class (who else remembers that game?!).

Image from: purposefulmovement.wordpress.com
Image from: purposefulmovement.wordpress.com

I know of one other parent in the class whose child cannot handle dairy. They appreciated my suggestion. We’ll see how many kids choose the popsicles.

My simple suggestion however, caused quite the uproar among some of the parents. They were almost angered by the idea and some how felt perhaps that I was being unreasonable for suggesting no ice cream at all.

I see this a lot. I have been plant-based for over 20 years. No one questions my diet anymore but I see it often with Vans when he turned plant-based 4 years ago and with Stonegate when she turned plant-based a little over a year ago. THEIR dietary changes and choices seem to offend people. Why!?

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It isn’t as if they rub it in other people’s faces or scowl at whatever it is someone else is eating. They just do their thing and make their choices but they get questioned or made fun of, a lot. Now honest genuine inquiries are fine. I know they both try their best to educate but I am talking about people who are down right upset by the fact that they no longer eat meat. Their personal choices upsets these other people.

It baffles me. I like to think that I live by example. I try not to push my way of life on others. Yes, yes I can get VERY excited if you ask me about it. I am passionate about plant-based living. Guilty as charged but I never force my opinions or views.

Vans ate meat for the first 7 years of our marriage. It wasn’t me who changed him, it was a combination of things. It was watching Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. It was (I like to think) seeing me eat this way and then finish countless ultras over and over. The biggest factor I think however, was how he FELT!

For my daughter’s school, I just want OPTIONS and BALANCE. Is that terrible of me?

Image from: antiques.lovetoknow.com
Image from: antiques.lovetoknow.com

Next year, both Squeaker and Peanut will be in elementary school. Some parents have advised me not to bother trying to change things. It is a losing battle. Stay quiet. I just think a little education is needed. Some compromise perhaps.

I don’t think it needs to be a “battle” but I am not afraid to try and institute a little change and perhaps provide some education and insight.

www.frostburg.edu
www.frostburg.edu

However I am often reminded of a quote from Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN,  “If you have to convince someone of the information, then it is not the right time.”

I don’t know when the “right time” will be but I do know that some people genuinely do not understand the correlation between what they eat and how they feel.

People also get very upset and offended when it comes to food. It is a very sensitive topic. You might think you’ve insulted their parenting style or something by their reactions sometimes. Even if the only thing you have done is picked a veggie burger instead of a hamburger at a picnic.

Again, I like to think that it is just lack of genuine open communication. I hope the school will be more open to increasing food education and perhaps institute some compromise when it comes to classroom treats next year. I know I plan to talk to both of my kids’ teachers by making some suggestions AND offering to help.

Maybe I am naive but I  have hope and I have a voice. I hope the parents, teachers and the school will be open-minded enough to discuss possible changes.

After all, we all have the same end goal: We want a healthy happy thriving child.

Happy Trails!

Trailmomma

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WESTERN STATES TRAINING RUN 2016

Where on Earth is the trail? I don’t remember having to climb straight up do you?” “I don’t either,” Pigeon said, “but everyone else is going this way.

Pigeon starting in the snow!
Pigeon starting in the snow!

That’s pretty much how our day started on Saturday. Climbing hands over feet up a snowy wall blindly following other runners and on occasion, seeing a few yellow ribbons to boost our confidence.

Climbing in snow.
Climbing in snow.

Memorial Day Weekend is my favorite running weekend of the year because it is when the Western States Training Runs happens! I love this weekend. Generally I only do the first day (32 miles) with Pigeon and we typically laugh, no matter what the day throws at us and this year, it threw a lot.

2016 Selfie
2016 Selfie
2015 Selfie
2015 Selfie

You can read the 2015 recap here. 

2014 Selfie
2014 Selfie

You can read the 2014 recap here.

2010 and first WS Selfie
2010 and first WS Selfie

You can read the 2010 recap here. 

The day was warm to start, even with the snow on the ground. All that initial climbing definitely warmed my body up fast – confirming my thoughts that I didn’t need anything other than a tank top and shorts. Neither Pigeon nor myself have run much if at all since our Quicksilver 100k finish exactly two weeks to the day.

Perhaps we were being a little too optimistic thinking this training run would be a breeze? It might have gone a lot smoother if it wasn’t for the super-hot temperatures, my angry tummy and Pigeon having a nasty chest cold. All of which proved to make our day a bit challenging.

We started our day at Robinson Flat and saw some amazing views right away. Last year it was rainy and foggy so I missed seeing some of this beauty.

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The first event of the day is when I decided to try and “jump” in the snow and quickly slipped sliding on my bum down an embankment. Pigeon laughed hard. I was fine. It could have been worse and I prefer falling in snow than on a rocky trail any day.

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It took a bit to get the mojo back into my body. It felt good to run along the single track just chatting away with no regard for time or pace.  Somewhere in here, I believe Pigeon tripped, but didn’t fall. I then stepped over a rock but apparently landed on a fallen tree branch that swung around and whacked my shin. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I yelled out in pain. “What the heck happened?” Pigeon said. I mean, it looked like a little twig but it wasn’t and in within seconds I had an acorn size goose egg forming on my shin. That would pretty much set the tone of the day, we would alternate tripping or rolling ankles.

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We talked about all the other training runs we’ve done. This would be our fourth Western States Memorial Day Weekend run that we’ve done together. We even reenacted some old photos for fun.

2016
2016
2010
2010

The aid-stations were great, super friendly. The “item of the day” for me was fresh cut watermelon (and I typically HATE watermelon) dipped lightly in salt! Oh my word! The combination of the sweet, the water and salt was exactly what my body was craving in the scorching heat.

The trip down to Devil’s Thumb was causing me some nasty knee pain similar to what I had in Quicksilver. I tried to go slow and easy but it was pretty relentless. I ended up taking an Advil to numb it for a bit.

The beautiful Swinging Bridge
The beautiful Swinging Bridge

When we finally reached the bottom near the infamous Swinging Bridge, I wanted to stop and take a few photos. Also a bunch of guys had come flying down into the canyon and seemed eager to start their climb.

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When it was time to start climbing, Pigeon moved to the side to let me pass. She knows I love to tackle mountains.

I ended up passing a couple of the guys who had passed us on the down section. There was one guy who came running back down. I joked with him that he must love a challenge but he said he was helping out a friend.

When I reached the top, I saw two girls standing there. It was two of my “Instagram” friends, Yvonne and Steph. Yvonne came down and gave me a hug. It was nice to see smiling faces at the top of such a brutal climb. I chatted with them for a bit, ate some food and reapplied some bug spray (oh my word the mosquitoes were back this year and it was horrible). Yvonne and Steph were trail-sweeps for the day but were out on the trail early to cheer on runners. How nice is that!?

That is what you climb.
That is what you climb.

A couple of people came up from Devil’s Thumb and looked pretty beat up. One lady was not walking straight and seemed very out of it. Another guy came up and instantly stepped off to the side and began to vomit profusely (and loudly – ugh). Pigeon made her way up and looked like she had been breathing through one lung, which in reality she probably had been because of her cold. She needed to stop and hack cough a few times before we moved on.

The next aid-station was a welcome site after that super-hot climb. Water, ice and watermelon were music to my ears at this aid-station. I knew that after this, it was another super long descent to El Dorado Creek and then the brutal 2.5 mile climb up to Michigan Bluff which I knew would be HOT.

Random guy playing the cello out near Deadwood Cemetery.
Random guy playing the cello out near Deadwood Cemetery.

The descent down to El Dorado was okay. My knee felt a lot better but I ended up rolling my ankle here. Nothing serious but it definitely threw me for a loop. When I reached the river at the bottom, I climbed down to soak my bandanna. Two nice guys kindly took my bandanna and my hat and soaked them in the river. That felt amazing. Cooling my body temp before the heated climb was exactly what I needed.

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When Pigeon arrived she mentioned that she was already dreading this climb. It was really hot out and some of this climb did not have shade. Off we went and soon I found myself alone. I came upon a guy who did not look very good. I asked him if he was okay and he assured me that he was. Then about 5 minutes later I saw the same guy who ran down Devil’s Thumb running down Michigan Bluff! I laughed. He was going to help his buddy again which as it turns out, was pretty sick by the time Pigeon passed him. Everyone was overheating.

I LOVE this day!
I LOVE this day!

When I reached the top I found some shade and just enjoyed drinking water and having my peanut-butter cookies when all of a sudden, in mid-peanuty-chew I realized that I had run out of water! I was praying that Pigeon was close because I could barely talk my mouth was so full. HA!

We attacked the Michigan Bluff aid-station, refilled our packs and off we went. The hike out is on this pretty exposed fire road. I mean FULL sun beating down on you without any relief in sight exposed.

Ouch
Ouch

As we were trying to muster the energy to start running again. Pigeon noticed a foot print in the dirt. Holy cow! I had to pull out my camera and take a photo … it was huge!

Grrrrr
Grrrrr

Finally we left the scorching hot fire road and entered the trail that would lead us down another descent to Volcano Creek.

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When we arrived at the creek it was full of runners cooling off in the cold water. It was also infested with lady bugs! I hated stepping on them but there were millions of them flying all over the place!

Lady Bugs!
Lady Bugs!

We crossed the creek and knew that we had 3 or 4 miles to go until we were done.

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Pigeon and I were surrounded by a lot of people who seemed anxious to be done with the day and who looked very dehydrated.

When you reach the top of Bath Road you have to run down the road until you get back to the Foresthill school. A guy standing on the side of the road told us it was a little more than a mile down the road. Both Pigeon and I did a, “WTF?” We knew it wasn’t quite that far and luckily, we were right.

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Overall, the day proved to be a tough one for us physically and mentally. Besides my earlier tummy troubles (which were not caused by the run itself – it was something I had been dealing with in the days leading up to it), I felt genuinely “ok” all day. My knee is still an issue, IT band related most likely. Running 32 miles with over 7000 feet of climbing two weeks after a 100k with 13,000 feet may have been a bit much but I am proud that I was able to do it.  I love this run. I love that you see and meet so many other ultra-runners from near and far and everyone is genuinely excited to be there! There is just something special about that trail.

The best part about doing the Saturday training run is that you get to have the rest of the holiday weekend with your family! I had dinner with Vans, I attended a trail running film festival with Stonegate and I lounged by the pool with my Peanut and Squeaker. To me, it was a perfect weekend.

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I look forward to next year already.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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QUICKSILVER 100K RACE REPORT (First 100k and Western States Qualifier)

About 53 miles into the race is the aid-station called Tina’s Den. It is home to four female mountain lions who like to hang out there. Two days ago, one of the cougars scared away a few mountain bikers. Don’t worry though, just don’t be last.

That’s essentially all I heard during the pre-race briefing from the Quicksilver Race Director on Saturday. Not exactly comforting news before I am about to begin my first ever 100k race.

While I haven’t written much about it on here, it was evident beginning back in January that I have been training for something …. something big. I wanted to run a 100k and not just any 100k, I wanted to run the Quicksilver 100k.

Yes, I am that kind of runner - folders, labels etc.
Yes, I am that kind of runner – folders, labels etc.

Last year everyone I knew did that race, including Pigeon because it was a Western States 100 mile qualifying race. I wanted to run it because I wanted to conquer that distance and I loved all the race photos from everyone last year. The chance to qualify was just icing on top for me.

Earlier this year, I raced two very challenging 50ks (one in February and the other in March) and that set the tone for my training. Going into Quicksilver with its 13,000 feet of elevation, I felt ready to climb but I was uneasy about the distance.

Insanely confusing course
Insanely confusing course

So sit back, grab a beer or cup of tea and read on if you care to see how my race unfolds (warning: it is LONG) or if you want to see a million photos, feel free to skim. 🙂

With its 4:30 am start time and the half-ish hour drive to the start, Quicksilver definitely taught me a few things about being flexible with my morning routine. I woke up at 2:15 am, ate and finalized my drop bags. I have never used drop bags before. This was totally new to me. You can tell it was new to me too because I used Star Wars lunch boxes that I got free from Target as two of my four drop bags!  I also used two Dylan Flinchum RockOn Foundation bags as my other two because if anyone can boost my spirits, it’s that little boy and his family back in New Jersey.

My "fancy" drop bags!
My “fancy” drop bags!

I even taped a photo of my girls in one of them to give me a boost late in the race.

Inside my drop bag - my shining light!
Inside my drop bag – my shining light!

After that little “pep-talk” by the Race Director, we were off and running in the dark. I had my lights with me and everyone around me had headlamps so visibility wasn’t an issue. Pigeon and I ran into Miss P who was also running her first 100k.

The race starts with a pretty good climb and everyone is reduced to a solid hike in the dark. Miss P and I chatted a bit on the way up which was nice. Eventually though, everyone spread out. Pigeon and I just ran. Our plan had been to run the race together. She knew the splits she wanted or needed in order to get a Western States qualification. I was content to run with her because I was unsure as to how the day would unfold having never approached this distance OR this type of elevation before and of course running with a friend for that long is always nice.

Soon the sun was rising and the views started to appear around us. It was pretty amazing and the temperature was nice and cool. I started in shorts and a tank top never needing anything more.

The sun is waking up!
The sun waking up!

One thing to note about this race is that there are a lot of “lollypop” loops in it. Picture a lollypop at the end of stick. To get the mileage we needed, we’d run up a trail, do a loop and then run back down the same trail passing runners. I noticed early on that we’d pass a lot of the runners coming down from the loop but none when it was our turn to descend. It was clear that we were the back of the pack. This unnerved me a bit as it is something I am not used to but I also knew there were many more miles to the day and that anything could change at a moment’s notice.

Such amazing views!
Such amazing views!

A few times Pigeon and I found ourselves behind some runners that I wanted to pass but I wasn’t sure how she was feeling so we devised a “code” for those situations. We’d ask each other, “How is your foot?” And if we said, “good” we’d pass and if we said, “not good” we needed another moment. This situation actually only came into play once during the race. Pigeon asked me “How is your foot?” and I said, “What are you talking about? My foot is fine!” Hahaha I had completely forgotten about our little plan.

Hicks #1 Aid-Station (mile 7) was first. I had a drop bag here but didn’t need it. I did take advantage of the restrooms. We both did. The volunteers were so nice and cheerful. They were very eager to help. Pigeon grabbed some more apple sauces from her drop bag.

We left Hicks and headed towards Bald Mountain. I remember feeling pretty good. Nothing was bothering me and the trails were rocky but not too technical.

Coming into Bald Mountain - Photo by Quicksilver volunteers
Coming into Bald Mountain. Yes, I have a huge smile.  -Photo by Quicksilver volunteers

Soon we approached Bald Mountain Aid-Station (mile 12.2). It was another lollypop type loop. You run past the aid-station to this beautiful cliff area, grabbed a purple rubber band to prove that you did the full loop and then back to the aid-station. We didn’t stop long here other than to use the restroom again.

After Bald Mountain we ran a short down hill followed by a pretty nice climb to get to Kennedy 1 Aid-Station (mile 18.9). Again, no drop bags for us but I noticed the aid-station was pretty bare bones. Not much to offer runners. I was fine with what I had been consuming thus far which was mostly fruit leather, some jelly beans (on the climbs) and my homemade Engine 2 Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. We did refill our packs here though and discovered that the water at the aid-stations tasted like rubberized chlorine! UGH! It was barely drinkable and we had to run 5.4 miles to the next aid-station with that water.

After Kennedy however, we ran DOWN and by down, I mean far down. Still, I was feeling okay. I was worried about my left knee going into this race as it tends to not like a lot of steep down hills but so far, it was behaving just fine.

When we reached Lexington Aid-Station (mile 24.2) I was feeling good. Pigeon’s wife Missouri and son were at this aid-station as was Miss P’s pacer, Christine. It’s always nice to see people you know and have them give you a good pep talk. We also had drop bags here.

We both dumped our packs and refilled them with our own water. I dug into my drop bag for the first time and swapped out a few things, grabbed some more cookies and dumped the apple sauces as they weren’t working for me.

We left Lexington and headed for the longest biggest climb of the day, Dog Meat Hill. I have seen the photos of this climb, but none of them do it justice. This is one brutally long fully exposed climb. We were lucky in that it was overcast most of the time but it was definitely warm out there.

Welcome to Dog Meat Hill!
Welcome to Dog Meat Hill!

However, I was just in awe of the views and the trail itself. I did my thing and power hiked up every hill taking photos whenever I could. I’d wait for Pigeon at the top and then we’d repeat it again and again.

A little Dog Meat selfie!
A little Dog Meat selfie!

I had overheard a guy talking about how this is the hardest climb in the race and that nothing in the second half of the race compares. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear right then. It gave me a little boost that once we were done with this beast, things would be easier.

You can see how far off in the distance the road actually goes. Insane.
You can see how far off in the distance the road actually goes. Insane.

When we finally finished Dog Meat, we arrived at Kennedy 2 Aid-Station (mile 31.1). I mentioned to Pigeon that we had completed a 50k! She didn’t seem amused. She’d been battling some tummy issues along the way which is never very fun in a race.

Hot and sunny on Dog Meat. Brutal.
Hot and sunny on Dog Meat. Brutal.

When we reached the aid-station, they had nothing. Pigeon wanted a Coke or a turkey avocado sandwich desperately and they had none. I think this hit her pretty hard and knocked her spirits down quite a bit. Her mood had been quiet thus far but I could sense her go a little deeper into a dark spot.

I just tried my best to keep hiking and chatting when I could, hoping I wasn’t bothering her too much. Eventually, I told her that we had to just let it go. We couldn’t rely on the aid-stations at this point, they’ve proven to be pretty useless in the quantity of fuel provided and we’d have to make do. I knew we were heading back to Hicks 2 Aid-Station and I knew we had drop bags there. I tried to get her to focus on that.

QS Dog meat 5

Her stomach just wouldn’t let up though. Once we reached Hicks 2 Aid-Station (mile 36.4) we both used the restroom and then attacked our drop bags. I grabbed a few more things here including some Advil. My right knee (not my left knee as I mentioned earlier) had started to really bark on the long descent from Kennedy to Hicks. So much so that at one point, it literally gave way and Pigeon almost had to catch me from cratering to the ground. At Hicks 2, I took 2 Advil. I didn’t want to but I had no choice at this point.

From Hicks we ran towards Hacienda Aid-Station (mile 39.3) which was a little hard to stomach because Hacienda is where my car was parked!!! Yes, I had to run past my own car to get to the aid-station! That’s just cruel right?

The nice part about this section of the course though is that the distances between aid-stations were cut in half essentially which means, the next one after Hacienda was Mockingbird, just 3.1 miles away. Although Mockingbird was also the finish area so you have to run past the finish arch to go another 20 miles … again cruel.

Pigeon needed the restroom at Hacienda. I talked to the volunteers and took some pebbles out of my shoe. When we were finally back on the trail running, I reminded her that we were on our way to her wife and son. We had to do some climbing to get there, but I assured her it would be worth it.

QS Hill

She was in her dark spot I think again. She snapped at me once about starting to run, which is fine, I get it, when you hurt you hurt. I wasn’t offended. I mentioned something about the time and trying to qualify and she shot back that she was already well aware. Up until that point, I hadn’t really been focusing too much on the time. It was on our way to Hacienda I think that I started calculating the math in my head with the pace that we’d been going and realized, our chances of qualifying for Western States was slipping away. I battled in my head with what to do.

The dilemma in my head was broken by the sights and sounds of Mockingbird Aid-Station (mile 42.9). I needed this boost. As I ran in, I told Missouri that Pigeon was hurting a bit, her tummy was just not happy. I had a drop bag here so I swapped out some things and I grabbed some cream for my knee. I applied some but I wanted to run with it just in case. The Advil had kicked in by now and the knee was feeling much better. As we left Mockingbird, I turned my phone on (it was on airplane mode most of the race) and I texted Stonegate and Vans that we had 20 miles left in the race and that any chances of qualifying were starting to slip away.

While I had been texting, a bunch of texts from earlier in the day came in, one of them was from my Peanut. My girls had a mock swim meet that day and my Peanut had sent me this:

QS Sierra text

That gave me such a boost. It got my thoughts running again. My little girl didn’t give up today. I shouldn’t either.

From Mockingbird to Bull Run 1 it’s up hill. We did not have to climb the huge rock pile that the Quicksilver race is known for but instead, they rerouted us an extra quarter mile. What’s an extra quarter of a mile in a 62 mile race?

I powered up the climbs but instead of waiting at the top for Pigeon like I had been, I wanted to keep moving. So on the downs, I’d slow down a bit hoping she’d catch up and she usually did.

QS flowers

We reached Bull Run 1 Aid-Station (mile 46.1) and we ran a weird little lollypop thing again. Pigeon and I ran that together. I think she was starting to get her mojo back because she said, “Hey, do you want to try for it? We have 15 miles to go and about 3.5 hours, we can push it. Want to go for broke?” I was just thrilled she had her spirit back! “Sure! Of course!” I said. Pigeon was coming back! She then said, “Okay, we’ll take turns pulling each other. I’ll go first!” She took off running down hill and I was hot on her heels behind her.

About five minutes later, she turned and said, “Ok, your turn!” and she let me pass. I never looked back. It was if a fire had been ignited within me, one that had been burning all along but I was too afraid let to come out.

Since Mockingbird I had been thinking, a lot. I thought about the time, about the race and about this course. Sure this race was a Western States Qualifier and while not my only reason for running, I had ran so much today that I wanted it. I wanted it bad. Pigeon is running Tahoe Rim 100 in July. I hated thinking this but I knew she had a second qualifying chance down the road. This, this race was my ONLY chance. So, I ran. I ran hard.

QS trail

I passed runner after runner. I passed runners sitting on the ground. I passed pacers urging their runners to just take another step. I ran uphill. I ran down hill. I entered the scariest freakiest single track trail I have ever seen in my life. It led to Tina’s Den (remember Tina the mountain lion from the beginning of this post?) … I can see why Tina and her friends like to hang out there! I was too afraid to stop to be honest that I just high-tailed it as fast as I could.

QS Side Trail

You finally get dumped onto a road. A volunteer said, “It’s a mile down that road and then turn left and the aid-station is about a half mile from there.” What he failed to tell me is that it was like a half-mile UP hill but whatever. As I had made the left turn, I saw this woman jumping up and down on a rock.

I thought she was waving to the guy in front of me who didn’t look too enthused to see her. In my head I was like, “Man what a jerk!” Little did I know it was Stonegate!!! She had raced the 2.5 hours from home to catch me at mile 53!!!!! She was a sight for sore eyes!

She hiked with me to the aid-station. We got there and they were dry. Nothing left. I had a drop bag but my stomach did not want much. Stonegate refilled my pack with ice cold water without me even taking it off. THAT is what I wanted. I told her that I had left Pigeon and that if she sees her to tell her how sorry I was and that I really wanted to push. I felt bad for leaving her.

Stonegate encouraged me and reminded me that Pigeon will understand and that she would WANT me to go. So, I went. Less than 9 miles to the finish and I was racing the clock with a lot of uphill between us.

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

After Tina’s Den (luckily I saw NO mountain lions) it’s a good uphill climb to get to Enriquita Aid-Station (mile 55.8). I ran quite a bit of this uphill. I channeled my training runs up Stagecoach and just pushed. Every so often, I’d hike and then I’d run again.

At Enriquita Aid-Station I didn’t even stop and instead made a sharp right hand turn and went down this gully of a trail with terrible footing.  Never mind there are runners hiking their way up too so it was a bit of a mess. When you reached the bottom, you had to read a sign (Read?! You want me to read and comprehend right now?). The sign said that in order to prove that you made it to the bottom of the hill, you had to hole punch your bib and show the volunteers at the top.

Um, the hole punch was attached to a cord that was ridiculously short! So after 56 miles, you have to try and stand on one leg while lifting your other leg, and hole punch your bib. Lordy!

I did it and then I ran my bum back up that hill. Just before reaching the top, I saw Pigeon making her way down. I hooted and hollered for her and she hooted and hollered for me and told me to just GO!

After reaching the top of Enriquita again, I ran towards Bull Run 2 Aid-station (mile 58.8), the final aid-station before the finish. It just happened to be completely up hill. I had to hike. There were moments where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I couldn’t eat anything. I wasn’t sure if it was from how hard I was pushing myself or from nerves of being on the edge of not making the cut off.

When I got to Bull-Run 2, I was sprinting, or at least I felt like I was sprinting.

The volunteers went wild when I came through! “Just 3.5 miles to go! You got this! Run just like that and don’t stop and you will qualify!” Wait, can they not SEE the big hill down the road that I have to go up in a minute? They want me to run like this, up that?! I had to laugh, it was funny.

I kept having these mini dialogs in my head pleading that there would be no more “rollers” and then I saw a sign that said, “Just a few more rollers and you’re at the finish!”  I just want to note, you don’t SEE these “rollers” on the map or elevation chart but holy cow, were they ever there!

Course profile.
Course profile.

I pushed and pushed. I passed runner after runner. I was cutting every corner I ran around even if it meant cutting in front of another runner. Soon, it was all downhill. I pleaded with my knee not to flare up (it hadn’t make a squeak since Mockingbird).  Other runners cheered me on. Hikers on their way up cheered me on and told me I was close. The sky to my left was insanely gorgeous with the sun setting and I wanted to stop and take a photo SO bad but I didn’t dare!

Finally I saw the finish. I heard Stonegate first, “You got this girl! Just up this hill!” Which made me laugh out loud! Another freaking hill! I heard Missouri and Christine (Miss P’s pacer) cheering. I was so overcome with joy and happiness. I had made it! I qualified! I made it with about 20 minutes to spare (my time was 15:38). I was done.

Smiling the whole way into the finish!
Smiling the whole way into the finish!

Five months of training was over in one day. It was totally worth it. My friends congratulated me and then asked where Pigeon was. I told them I left her on the way to Tina’s Den. I said she’s behind me but I am not sure how far.

Pigeon came in a short time later. She too qualified for Western States with just minutes to spare! She gutted it out and ran her butt off to get to that finish line. I am proud of how deep she dug to do it.

As it turns out, she wasn’t upset at me for leaving and was happy that I qualified. That’s how friends work, especially trail friends. We support each other.

Overall, I feel pretty good. I have some soreness and I stiffen when I sit too long but my heart is full. I feel like I set out to conquer something, something I’ve thought about for a while, and I did it. I worked hard for it, very hard.

QS 2

Not sure what is next. I have a few training runs planned as I am pacing Pigeon at Tahoe Rim Trail in July so I have to be ready for that.

I definitely plan to rest though and let my body recover. I owe it that. It did everything I asked of it this season and I am grateful. So I will enjoy some down time with my two amazing little swimmers.

My little fish!
My little fish!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

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FALLING BEHIND

It has been an absolute whirl wind around here. Blogging has taken the back burner unfortunately but hopefully there is a light at the end of this crazy tunnel and I can resume some normal activity on here.

Let me try and recap the last month or so.

Nothing like bullet holes in a sign to wake you up!
Nothing like bullet holes in a sign to wake you up!

To start, I had a great run in the canyons on the Western States trail with Pigeon. We only ran 17 or so miles but we climbed over 6,000 feet. We started at Michigan Bluff and ran to Devil’s Thumb and back. I love this trail and no matter how many times I have been on it, it never gets old and it never gets easier!

It will be a great run when your hat matches the sunrise.
You know it will be a great run when your hat matches the sunrise.
These views never get old!
These views never get old!
On the bridge!
On the bridge!
Super HOT climb back to up to Michigan Bluff
It was a super HOT climb back to up to Michigan Bluff

Then Jersey Dad arrived for a visit and to celebrate the Peanut turning 8 years old. I quickly jumped from running mode to mommy and hostess mode.

Jersey Dad and his grand daughters!
Jersey Dad and his grand daughters!

On top of all of this, Squeaker had the chance to try out for the swim team! Big sis was there in support (sort of) and luckily, she made it with flying colors! So proud of that kid.

Congrats Squeaker! Age 4!!
Congrats Squeaker! Age 4!!

Alas, that means swim team season has officially started with scheduled practices 5 days a week! We are working on a routine and balance right now. School comes first even though there is not much school left!

Auburn!
Auburn!

During Jersey Dad’s visit, I took a “mental health” day from work and joined Pigeon on her mid-week long run since I knew running over the Peanut’s birthday weekend wasn’t going to fly. It was a hot day and running long on a Thursday really threw me for a bit but we had fun regardless, as always.

Pigeon
Pigeon
So done with climbing K2 this season!
So done with climbing K2 this season!
The meadow in Cool
The meadow in Cool
Love this place!
Love this place!

Shortly after that long run, it was time for the final long run of the training program! Pigeon and I agreed to meet on Saturday and kick out 30 miles as our last long run before our race in two weeks. The day started out nothing short of entertaining …

Base Jumping off the bridge!
Base Jumping off the bridge!

Within minutes of running we were startled by some base jumpers off of the Foresthill Bridge. Talk about taking your breath away. These guys were super nice. They landed right in front of us so we chatted with them for a bit before continuing on our run.

A perfect landing!
A perfect landing!

It was a beautiful day to run and we’d occasionally switch things up by picking a new (old) trail to follow to change the course a bit. There was also an equestrian race happening at the same time so that made things very interesting. I don’t mind sharing the trail with horses but I do admit, they give me a bit of a scare at times. I’ve met too many not so skilled riders who tend to not have control over their horse. Hence, my fear level always raises a notch when we encounter one. I am sure the horses can sense that.

A beautiful day.
A beautiful day.

We had to cut the run a few miles short to due to a small situation at home (nothing to worry about) but I was content in myself and the way that I was feeling during the run, that I could have continued on if need be.

I feel pretty darn good going into taper right now. Truth be told, I was mentally ready for taper about a week ago! My training this round, I feel has been good. I raced two solidly hard 50ks (not intentionally) and was able to maintain a higher mileage for longer than I normally would in a training period. That’s the nature of the beast when you choose races as ‘training runs’ and have life get in the way from time to time.

I feel comfortable in my ability to climb, mildly comfortable in my ability to descend (going to take it super easy on those to save my knees) and I feel somewhat comfortable in being able to handle the distance.  A 100k is farther than I have ever gone before, so I can’t lie and say a small part of me isn’t a tad bit nervous about that but mostly I am excited and curious. I am curious to see what unfolds. I know there will be ups and I know there will be downs.

Pigeon and I have decided to run together. She has a set pace and a set goal in mind and since this is my first ever 100k, I am content to go with her flow. We both want to finish. So, for my first ever 100k, I am content to enjoy the experience, the company and the scenery so long as I finish, and finish smiling AND qualifying for the Western States 100. 😉 Can’t forget that little piece of the puzzle right? Although, that wasn’t my initial reason for doing this race … but it is a HUGE cherry on top.

Now, to enjoy my two weeks of taper. This should include taking care of myself with good quality food, some decent sleep and lots of stretching.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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Trail Running + Mommyhood = the best adventures