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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HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY PEANUT

So here we are again, another birthday for my Peanut. Eight years old and so wise beyond her years.

IMG_5070

My Dearest Peanut,

When you turn 8, you think you know everything. And I do mean everything. No one is as wise as you and your parents are starting to look a little less cool in front of your friends.

When you turn 8, you still like to snuggle and have quiet time with me. Note to self, I need to stop and make more time for this, no telling when you won’t need me anymore.

When you turn 8, you complain about homework and how hard it is but when push comes to shove, you can complete it in record time.

When you turn 8, you get excited about animals and want to adopt every one that you see despite the allergies you seem to have inherited (sorry kid).

When you turn 8, you will be finishing second grade and the world revolves around your friends and what will happen this summer.

When you turn 8, your sister is still as annoying as ever but you finally realize that she can also be a great person to have on your side.

When you turn 8, you love to read but only when you find books that interest you and not books that are assigned as homework.

When you turn 8, you love your Poppy more than anything and you get jealous when your sister has more time with him.

When you turn 8, you become a jokester. Making people laugh seems to be what drives you and makes you happiest.

When you turn 8, you still love tigers. You know all there is to know about them, and I kind of love that.

When you turn 8, you still eat broccoli and have even added a few veggies to the mix but you still hate all fruit and I do mean all.

When you turn 8, you think Survivor is one of the greatest shows on TV and I love how you root for the under dog.

When you turn 8, your heart is still golden and pure. You still trust and believe in everyone.

When you turn 8, you stand up for what you know is true and right. You know that love is love and I couldn’t be more proud of you for that.

My dear sweet Peanut, I hate that time flies so fast. It makes me sad that you can no longer snuggle in my lap; fitting like a perfect puzzle piece. But I do love that we can laugh together and have our little inside jokes. I love that you love going to the movies and theater as much as I do. I love that you have late night chats with your dad. And I love how your eyes sparkle when you get excited about something.

You are growing so fast and becoming your own person every single day. Your dad and I love you very much. Keep being you kid.

Forever my baby.
Forever my baby.
Forever my friend.
Forever my friend.

Love you to the moon and back kiddo!

You have my heart, always.

Mom

 

 

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RUCK A CHUCK 50K RACE REPORT

This was only supposed to be a training run and then Tommy Lee Jones started egging me on, lighting that internal fire that is always simmering inside and the rest was history including an uphill battle to the finish.

Photo from Single Track Running's
Photo from SingleTrack Running

When I signed up for SingleTrack Running’s Ruck a Chuck 50k a few months ago, I knew that I would be pacing Stonegate 25 miles of her 50 mile run the weekend prior. I told myself that is the perfect way to work two long runs into the month. The plan was to go nice and easy to work the legs and to get some elevation training in (the race initially boasted 6500 ft of elevation).

On Saturday it dumped rain all day; a lot of rain. So much so that Paulo, the Race Director emailed all participants AND sent out a Facebook blast detailing that the race course had changed due to the condition of the road/trails. Uh-oh. Now instead of starting at the bottom near the river, we were to start at the top in the upper parking lot area of Driver’s Flat. They also had to adjust the back end of the course to account for the three mile difference at the start. Ultimately, the course ended up being shortened by a mile or so which is better than the alternative which was lengthening it by three miles. (Good call Paulo!) 🙂

When I arrived at the starting area, I was a dork and basically was the first person there. Stonegate (like the great trail friend she is) had offered to drive me but she couldn’t wait all day and I did not want Vans and the girls hanging out in the mud and rain forcing me to run and finish faster. This was a training run after all remember?

So upon arrival I got out and asked Paulo if he needed any help. Why not put me to use right? He had me start handing out bibs to the runners as they arrived. This turned out to be great because I finally was able to put names to faces! I finally met Clint, a fellow plant-powered runner and Facebook face (Hi CLINT!!) and a few other runners.

Soon it was almost go-time and of course the skies opened up and dumped rain for few minutes. I second guessed my out-fit choice and changed my top at the last minute (tip: always go with your first instinct). We gathered at the start where Paulo did a quick pre-race briefing reminding us that we were to follow pink ribbons. He also told us where the NEW turn around spot and aid-station was located.

They counted us down and we were off! Everyone started running the long three mile downhill and were all commenting on how brutal this will be on the return, at the end of the race.

BUZZ!!! (my watch) Mile 1 – 8:30 Uh oh, that’s a bit fast, slow it down, don’t blow out your quads on the first mile.

BUZZ!!! Mile 2 – 8:30 Grrr, I thought I slowed it down!? Okay, look there’s a bathroom! Go use that restroom over there and that will help slow you down and push you farther back in the pack.

When I emerged from the bathroom I just continued running along the river. I stopped a few times to take some photos (the only photos I took all day – stick with me and you’ll see why).

So pretty
So pretty

Two girls were in front of me were talking. Eventually they moved over and let me pass. Then we hit some up hills and I heard them chatting away, so I let them pass. I just needed quiet as I was trying to get a sense of how my body was feeling. I just couldn’t find my groove.

Photo credit: SingleTrack Running - This is between miles 4 and 5 I think - we crossed two of these streams in each direction..
Photo credit: SingleTrack Running – This is between miles 4 and 5 I think – we crossed two of these streams in each direction.

Roughly at mile 10 we entered the second aid-station at Cal-2.

Photo credit: SingleTrack Running - It was a long climb to that aid-station.
Photo credit: SingleTrack Running – It was a long climb to that aid-station.

The volunteer yells out my bib number AND yells out that I am fourth female and that number three is still in the aid-station.  “Oh don’t tell me that!? It’s too early to tell me that!

Sit tight girl. This is a training run. Do not go and chase it. Let.it.go!

I let three other women pass me out of that aid-station. I refused to go chase it. I was letting it go. However, while I was in this conga line of three women and one older gentleman leading the way, I couldn’t get my stride right. There was plenty of climbing and I was hiking a lot but I would either end up on their tail or I would slow down to the point of walking. It just didn’t feel right. The next aid-station was the turn-around and I just wanted to get there.

2

Soon we started seeing the lead runners on the return. First female went by and DANG she looked strong! She was flying. Second and Third females came by a little bit later and gosh darn it, it if wasn’t the two nice chatty women I let pass me earlier … the voices started again …

That could have been you. You were up there. Now you are 7th! Shut up! Training run remember!?

It was a SUPER steep down to the aid-station (mile 14 ish) at Cal 1. I ran in and realized there was nothing that I wanted. The volunteer asked me my bib number first since I was at the table and the other three women were filling their bottles. I told her my number and left.

That was tricky girl. Are you trying to get ahead or are you starting to race? Just getting ahead. That’s all. I am sure they will catch me.

Soon I came upon Roger. Ahh, Roger. Many trail runners know Roger. He is a great guy and a great runner. I met Roger a few years ago at Diane’s Thursday night race series. Roger and I used to push each other out on the course. Roger, if you don’t know him, sounds (and kinda looks) like Tommy Lee Jones. I kid you not, his voice is amazing and if you didn’t know it, you would think Tommy Lee Jones is running with you. It makes me smile every time I hear him.

ROGER: Hey Pam, you want by me?

ME: Nope, I just want to get some distance between me and those ladies back there.

Roger just chuckled. I should have known then with that innocent sounding chuckle, what was about to unfold.

This is Roger aka Tommy Lee Jones
Photo Credit: SingleTrack Running – This is Roger aka Tommy Lee Jones

Roger and I ran steady and strong for a very long stretch. It was probably my longest stretch of running the entire day. I FINALLY started to feel my groove, after 15+ miles.

4

All of a sudden, Roger stops and moves to the side.

ME: What are you doing? Dude, you are pulling me!

ROGER: Look, there’s number three. Go get her. You got this!

ME: (sigh) DAMN YOU ROGER! Damn you!

Roger chuckled his devilish chuckle again. 🙂

Off I go in front of Roger running steady. We knew the aid-station was coming up very soon. I just really wanted to get to there. The third place girl, (her name was Stephanie), let me pass. Roger checked in with her. I knew she was tired because when I was running behind her earlier in the day, she had said she had run 17 miles the day before marking the very course were running right now. My heart ached for her, she is clearly a VERY strong runner.

We all enter the aid-station, I reach for a cup and I feel someone pushing me sideways …

ROGER: Go! Get out of here. Go!

ME: What the?!! Okay okay …

I took off like I stole something. The next two to three miles were a steady but technical downhill. I had not been opening up my down hills this entire race, but now, I did.

BUZZ! Mile 20 – 9:25 Legs feel good. Tummy is a bit off, but I feel good.

BUZZ! Mile 21 – 9:21 Please god, let me have gained enough distance to keep this lead. Who am I kidding, if I could just bomb that, so can everyone else. Run, just run!

The next stretch was the longest between aid-stations again, something like 7.5 miles I think and that last aid-station would be the final aid before the dreaded three mile climb to the finish.

I just ran and ran. I had even moved ahead of Roger by quite a bit and then he’d catch me and pump me up some more. He even went so far as to tell me that he thinks I could catch female #2. HA! Funny man that Roger.

Finally I reached the section I affectionately called Tick Trail – it was so over grown with long grass and weeds that you couldn’t even see the trail and I imagined with every step, all these ticks jumping onto my legs. THAT made me run faster let me tell you!

Finally, I was dumped back onto the fire road that I knew led to the final aid-station. However, it took FOREVER it seemed until I got there.

VOLUNTEERS: Hey! Looking strong, what do you need?

ME: Can you please just douse my bandana in cold water? How far to the finish?

VOLUNTEERS: About 2.7 to 3 miles, unfortunately all up hill.

I silently groaned a little bit but there was nowhere to go but up to get this done. Off I ran and then I hiked. I tried power hiking. Pigeon was in my head. She had texted me earlier that morning to “power hike that last hill like a bear is chasing you!” Well, as it turns out, there WAS a bear about to chase me!

ROGER: Hey, there is a chick behind me.

ME: What!? No! You aren’t just saying that to get me to run up this hill are you?!

ROGER: Nope, she surprised me by coming up quick behind me at that last aid-station.

ME: Son of a B!*%$! I didn’t set out for this Roger!

ROGER: Well, don’t kill yourself but you got this!

Off I ran, my legs barely moving, shaking with every single step that I took. Last weekend I climbed 3 miles with Stonegate, motivating her up that hill. I used the same tactics on myself …

Okay girl, run to that rock. You can run to that rock and then walk. Just get ahead every chance you can.

I rounded a corner and something caught my eye ….

Holy crap! You caught the number two girl! Hmmm, she doesn’t look THAT far ahead … Nope, forget it. Focus on the girl behind you. You’re barely hanging in.

I am not kidding when I say this hill took FOR-FREAKING-EVER to climb. I passed one guy.

GUY: Hi! (being all friendly and nice despite huffing and puffing) One helluva way to finish huh?

ME: Can you look behind me please. Is there a girl there?

GUY: Nope. I see nobody.

ME: Good. Thanks.

Off I ran. Or I thought I was running. As I reached the top of that switchback I turned and saw her, the girl that was in front of me when I ran in that conga line of girls earlier in the day. She looked strong even then. She looked like she should have been running in front of those girls. She also looked like she wasn’t struggling one bit on that hill we were on.

Move it! Come on! Run, run a stretch now to get ahead! Come on legs! Stop shaking and run!

Female #2 turned and looked at me and then started to run too. The chase, it seemed was on, everyone was trying to get up that hill as fast as possible. I wanted to yell out to the number two girl and say, “It’s okay! I don’t care about #2! I just want to keep #3!” But come on, if I had gotten close enough …. 🙂

I kept straining to hear music. That’s a cue to all the finish lines right? But it occurred to me that there might not BE music at the finish.

Oh no, don’t rely on the music! But how will I know where the finish is? I can’t see it! All I see are these damn hills in front of me!

I had to laugh. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t super smiley but I wasn’t angry and laughing is the best way for me to release tension. What else am I going to do on a monster climb like this?

Then, I see two men standing there. They don’t look like hikers; they look like guys who hang out at finish lines (yes, that’s how my head works in moment’s like these). I reach them, I see female #2 ahead of me and I ask them …

ME: How far?

THEM: Not far, 100 yards.

ME: 100 yards?! (In my head it was as if they had told me it was 100 more miles)

THEM: Up that hill!

ME: (internally) Come on! PUSH!!!!

Finally, I see the finish arch. I see Paulo running around with his camera. I see female #2 pushing as hard as she can, she’s about 10 yards in front of me. I am running as hard as I possibly can. Everyone is cheering!

Oh no, are they cheering because they think I am going to catch her OR are they cheering because the girl behind me has finally caught me and is going to do a sneak attack to the finish line?!!

Talk about paranoia! Haha

RUNNNNN PAM RUNNNNNN!!!!

Finally, I cross the finish line and RD Paulo comes over. I think he doesn’t know whether to high-five me or give me a hug and all I want to do is lay down. I bend over and he kind of escorts me gingerly to some chairs, female number two was in the same state, bent over, legs shaking.

Holy crap, you did it. You made it. You climbed that beast. What the hell man!? I thought this was a training run!? 😉

One minute later, female #4 crosses the finish line. Wow, what a day.

Roger was next and I had enough strength in my legs to get up, cheer as loud as I could and give that crazy man a hug and say thank you. Again, thank you Roger for your support, encouragement and for giving me the pep talks I needed. I could not have done it without you.

My wooden trophies.
My wooden trophies.

So, the final verdict was Third Place Female overall (I was less than 20 seconds behind second) and first in my age group. The course was shortened so I could not go by time but I think I might have had a decent 50k time overall – so long as it wasn’t a four mile hill climb to the finish instead of three. The race (according to my Garmin) also had 7,548 ft of elevation to it. Wow.

Race profile from my Garmin
Race profile from my Garmin
My Garmin said 7,548 ft of elevation - others apparently said otherwise?
My Garmin said 7,548 ft of elevation – others apparently said otherwise?

Here is what the finish looked like in photos (all four photos that follow are credited to SingleTrack Running’s Facebook page):

She is second place female - that SPEC behind her is me. :)
This is the second place female – that SPEC behind her is me. :)
Oh my god, I don't think I can make it! haha
Oh my god, I don’t think I can make it! haha
First I shoot Paulo a death look - Dude that was some race!
First I shoot Paulo a death look – Dude that was some race!
Then I smile. Holy crap, I am done.
Then I smile. Holy crap, I am done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay too long at the finish as I had to jet home. I didn’t want to miss taking my favorite seven year old to her swim clinic lesson. Originally I didn’t think I would be able to make it but I guess with a finish like that, I had some extra time. 😉

My Swimmer Girl
My Swimmer Girl

So what worked and what didn’t? (Sorry, hang with me, the end of this monstrosity is near).

First, I tried my home-made plant-based fuel that I blogged about. I knew going into it, that it was too salty. When I tried it during the race, it just was not going to happen.  It also had the texture of muffin batter something I was NOT going for in the creation process. Back to the drawing board on that.

Overall, I was not handling anything but fruity sweet flavors which is not my normal. I brought a gluten free almond butter and honey sandwich with me but the gluten free bread is SO dense that I almost choked eating it. I managed one square and left the rest for the drive home.

I need to work on the calorie consumption as I don’t think, looking back, I consumed a whole ton on this run. I had my usual go-to items like fruit leather, applesauce and jelly-beans (for that quick rush). I may go back to making muffins. They pack a good 300 calories per muffin but they require time to eat but since I am not racing my next race, I should have some time. 😉

Overall, I am happy. It wasn’t what I set out to do but I am happy that I was able to pull it together in the end and really push myself especially when at times, I didn’t think I had anything left to push. I feel good. The muscles are not too sore (yet). I still feel a little dehydrated and I need a few more hours of catch-up sleep. That’s the only downfall of having an ultra on a Sunday, as Monday it was back to work/school for the whole family.

Tis the life of a trail running mama I guess! Thanks for reading, I know this was incredibly long, but the good ones usually are.

Kinda cool to see my name listed.
Kinda cool to see my name listed.

I want to also thank all the volunteers who were part of this race. From marking the course in a rain storm the day before to being out there on the course the day of the race. Also my fellow trail runners were all super friendly and supportive cheering everyone on their way back to the finish. Love this community! SingleTrack Running put on another great race. Thank you!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with SingleTrack Running at all and was not paid or compensated for writing this report. This is the second race of theirs that I have done, and I truly believe they host stellar, challenging and thoroughly top notch events. 

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NO WHERE TO LIVE

After pacing my friend 25 miles in the American River 50 mile race, I got that post-race excitement bug. You know that feeling where you just can’t wait for your “A” race to arrive even though at times, you don’t feel 100% ready for it? That is how I felt after AR.

My mind has had waves of going a million miles a minute one second and then completely zoned out the next. We took a family trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago and up until that point, that trip consumed me. Planning, preparing and packing. It was a surprise for the kids so keeping it a secret required more energy than you realize.

The Evil Queen from Snow White was my absolute favorite character. :)
The Evil Queen from Snow White was my absolute favorite character. :)

But once that trip was over, and we had walked 8 miles every day for 3 days in a row, I felt … exhausted! Then, the head games started. “You can’t run anymore!” “You haven’t been running.” “Your last training run felt like hell.” You know those thoughts that tend to creep in when you least expect it? Yea, I had those.

Then I paced at AR and felt pretty amazing which is prompting me to keep my training going as is but I also want to change things up just a bit. I have a pretty odd week ahead of me in that I have a race on Sunday that I am treating 100% as a training run. It has a lot of elevation to it. I have been on these exact trails before, they are not easy, by any stretch which in theory is great preparation for my “A” race in May but I also don’t want to push too hard and end up having to rest longer than I truly want to.

I’ve also been experimenting with home-made plant-based fuel a bit and I plan to try it out at my race (you know, the one that is not a race), this weekend.

I purchased these cool reusable pouches to create my own fuel. They are larger than I anticipated but that’s good because I want to be able to consume more plant-based calories with each serving.

Cool pouches!
Cool pouches!

It may be dangerous to try these this coming weekend but I honestly don’t have any other chances. I spent a night creating a mixture of flours and other odds and ends, to fill 3 of the pouches with. This round was a bit more savory and not quite sweet. Not sure if I will bring all 3 with me this weekend but if they are a success, I will write about it my race report. If they are not a success, I will also write about it. 🙂

These can also be used to fill with smoothies or puddings for kids which I also plan to try and do since the box they came in included six pouches. They are freezer and dishwasher safe and BPA free. It has been kind of fun experimenting and calorie counting.

I also went for a nice solo workout run on Monday by myself just to get into my head and to also test my fitness a bit. Monday was gorgeous and the trail that leaves behind my house is one that I haven’t been on lately since I usually run so early in the morning. I couldn’t help but stop and take photos.

Just down my street.
Just down my street.

This trail leads you to a road that then leads you to another trail where I can do some solid hill repeats and also see some amazing views.

So pretty!
So pretty!

And one of my favorite trees lives here.

Happy Trees
Happy Trees

I ran/hiked up and down the hill and even did a heart rate test to gauge my fitness level. I was happy with the results. Even though my weekly mileage has been down this week, I ran long on Saturday and I will be running long again this weekend. I am not one of those runners who has to run every single day pushing myself beyond what my body really wants or needs. I have faith in my muscle memory and my body and I truly believe that if you treat your body well, it serves you well in return.

I saw a quote on social media recently that said, “Look after your body, or you’ll have nowhere to live.” That sentence could not ring more true and I think a lot of ultra runners (and road runners) should take this advice to heart more often.

I happen to love where I live. Inside and Out. 🙂

Love where you live - Inside and Out
Love where you live – Inside and Out

Happy Trails,

~Trailmomma

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AMERICAN RIVER 50 MILE – Pacing Report

This past weekend I did NOT run the American River 50 mile race although deep down, I truly missed being out there for the full race like I have in years past. However, I was honored and lucky enough to be able to pace my friend Stonegate during her first American River 50 mile race. Pacing someone truly gives you a whole different perspective.

The day started when I woke up at 4 am and threw on sweats and hopped in the car to pick up Stonegate and Burning Girl. I was excited. I had energy and I couldn’t hold it in. I love this race and I especially love being able to support friends who are doing such amazing feats like running 50 miles for the very first time.

Burning Girl and I didn’t have to do much to calm Stonegate down. She seemed at ease although I got the sense as go-time neared that she was starting to feel the excitement with perhaps a side of nerves. We gave her hugs as we walked her to the starting line.

Burning Girl and Stonegate
Burning Girl and Stonegate

We wished her well and told her we’d see her at mile 25 ready to crew!

They counted down and off they went. I actually got a little choked up at the start because it is just so exciting and the energy at these things is palpable.

Then, Burning Girl and I went home and I went back to bed! 🙂 I didn’t sleep long. My mind was going a mile a minute thinking about all that I had to gather together. Burning Girl was going to pick me up and we were going to head to Beal’s Point, the half way mark of the race where I was going to join Stonegate as her pacer and run with her the last 25 miles or so. To be honest, I have never started running so late in the day and on such a HOT day at that! It was definitely interesting to say the least trying to figure out what to eat and how to get ready to start running at 11:00 am vs 6:00 am when we normally go for our long runs.

Stonegate texted me her location and I knew she was right on pace. I texted Burning Girl that I was antsy and wanted to head to Beal’s Point. She picked me up and drove over and set up camp. Stonegate texted at various points continuing to stay on pace.

She came into Beal’s and was immediately welcomed by the group that she coaches. That got me a little choked up (again). How sweet! I knew it helped boost Stonegate’s mood too.

Her people!
Her people!

She came in and we got her squared away. The temperature was really starting to rise at this point. I tried cooling her down by putting ice in her bandana and ending up slightly choking her! 🙂 Hey, that’s what pacers do right? Haha

Here let me choke you, I mean tie your bandana
Here let me choke you, I mean tie your bandana

Then we took off ready for the best part of the race, the trails! While we ran out of Beal’s I checked in with her. What has she been eating, drinking? Is she going to the bathroom? Has she started taking salt tabs? I know I was peppering her with a lot of questions but sometimes you have to ask a runner as they don’t always volunteer information. 🙂

Leaving Beals
Leaving Beals

To start, I ran alongside of her. When we hit the single track sections, I ran behind her. You can see a lot when you pace a runner and start running behind them. I could see her highs and her lows at times. At one point, I could she her running off kilter just a bit and she was quiet (she normally is not a quiet person). I saw a sandwich sticking out of her pack from behind and I suggested that perhaps she have some of that as well as a salt-tab. Then I marked the time mentally as to when she took that salt so I could keep track. Once she ate that piece of sandwich her form returned as did her energy. She was still quieter than she normally is but hey, this girl just ran 35 miles, farther than she ever has before.

She did fantastic. I noticed that she started tripping more often over the rocks and branches that were on the trail. She’s tired (obviously) so I offered to run in front of her where I started pointing out every rock, branch or step down. I wanted her to not have to think too much and just react. That really seemed to work well. She’d listen to my cues and moved accordingly. I also like to think that I was “pulling” her just a bit by picking up the pace ever so slightly.

Occasionally I would encourage her to run this downhill or that downhill and we’d hike the ups when she asked. I wasn’t a slave driver but I was noticing she was losing the pace that she had worked so hard for earlier in the race but to be fair, she was also battling a pain in her foot too so I was trying to be cautious of that as well.

Her darkest hour was the time between Granite Bay and Horseshoe Bar aid stations. That stretch is brutal and almost 9 miles long. Truly the hardest stretch in the race and she did fabulous. After that, she was a good girl taking her salt and eating when she should. Her energy picked up when she found out that her family would be a Rattlesnake aid-station. So that was my drive for her to get there, “Just keep pushing girl! Your family is waiting!” And she did.

The last 10 miles of the race is an awesome section with rollers and some amazing views. I know she loves this section and I tried to capitalize on that by pointing out the views here and there. When we finally dumped out onto the gravel at the bottom of Damn Hill I knew I had my work cut out for me. She looked so sad and I hated to tell her that she had 3 more miles to go and that it was entirely uphill.

You got this girl! 3 more miles!
You got this girl! 3 more miles!

She turned to me and said, “Girl, I can’t run.” And I replied, “That’s fine. I wasn’t going to have you run this gravely section anyway but we will run when we get to the pavement.” And she just shot me a side glance like, “Are you kidding me?” haha!

Sure enough we got to the pavement section and I said, “Okay, do you think you can run to that pole up ahead? We can stop there and assess.” She kind of groaned and looked at me and said, “It hurts to run!” to which I replied, “Of course it hurts. It’s going to hurt you just ran 40 something miles!” haha So, she ran. I pointed out that once you actually get moving and get past that “oh my gosh this hurts” feeling, it actually feels even BETTER to run than walk. So from that point on, it was “to that sign” or “to that rock” and we’d run and walk. Pigeon came down the hill and met us and helped motivate Stonegate up the hill too.

I told her that they play a super cruel joke by putting this really steep little hill at the very tippy top. I advised her to drop her pack and just go and I reminded her that her daughter and son were waiting just on the other side to bring her into the finish.

She listened. She dropped her pack and pushed. Hard. Pigeon grabbed the pack while I ran into the parking lot screaming my bloody head off as she ran the perimeter of the parking lot to the finish line with her kids alongside of her. I was so dang proud.

Stonegate and her little peeps!
Stonegate and her little peeps!

My friend worked her butt off for this race and it paid off. I couldn’t be more excited and happy for her. I remember exactly how I felt after finishing my first American River 50 mile race. Heck, I remember how I felt after my other two finishes. The excitement, the energy, the pride you have knowing you ran farther than most people drive?! It just never gets old.

Congrats Stonegate! You did great girl! Thank you for allowing me to join you on that journey.

This girl can do anything now!
This girl can do anything now!

After my pacing duties were over, I took advantage of the icy canal, the massage tent and then inhaled a huge salad from Whole Foods.

Yummy Plant-Based recovery meal.
Yummy Plant-Based recovery meal.

Some final thoughts: Pacing really takes the attention away from you and puts it on someone else (duh! that’s really the definition of pacing). I drank and hydrated well. I kept up on my salt intake too. I ate but I ate differently throughout. I ate the same amount of food and the same food, just in different orders which was a bit weird to me. I wanted to eat the easier faster foods first so that I could focus more on her. It all worked out in the end, I had enough energy and felt completely fine after the race. This was good practice to throw me out of my usual routine and see how balancing and readjusting works when and if I should ever need to during a race. Overall, it was an amazing day.

Happy Trails,

~Trailmomma

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Trail Running + Mommyhood = the best adventures