All posts by Trailmomma

MARIN ULTRA CHALLENGE 50 MILE – MUC – (RACE REPORT)

Photo from Inside Trail Racing
Photo from Inside Trail Racing

This climb is nothing. Wait until we get to Willow Camp! That climb will kill ya!” That’s what the runner in front of me told me as we were climbing up a hill called Cardiac … a name that already implies some sort of death by exertion. “Bring it.” is what I said in my head … but my body was silently screaming, “What the fork!?”

The Marin Ultra Challenge (MUC) 50 Miler has been a bucket list race of mine. I’ve run the Headlands Marathon twice and the Mt. Tam 50k already out in Marin, so I knew what those trails involved but I wanted more, I wanted to test my limits, test my fitness level and honestly, test myself.

Stonegate told me a while back that she’d come and crew me which is something I rarely have – my own personal crew! We both love those trails and we have a dear friend that is always gracious enough to let us crash when we tell her, “Hey! We’re coming your way. Can we sleep at your house?” I think sometimes we sign up for races just for the social time with her. 🙂

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When race week arrived, I was nervous. While not my goal race of the season, I’ve been training for this and was in a taper period … which I hate. It is hard to go from running a lot to not much running and paying attention to all the OTHER important things like eating, sleeping, resting and recovering.

After a great evening of playing catch up with friends, I went to bed fairly early. I was eager to get this adventure moving. Race morning I was awake and doing my usual routine. I felt rested but my feet hurt.

I’ve been having various feet issues lately. Long story short, I have a cyst (or random bone) on my foot and these crazy aches and pains in weird places – not my norm. I usually don’t have feet issues but these problems have been building over the last month or so.

Since I am a nerd and plan excessively for my races, Stonegate knew exactly what to do and where to go during the day. What we didn’t know however, was how the heck to get out of our friend’s new neighborhood! 🙂 We drove around for 15 minutes completely going in circles, passing her house once. While Stonegate and I were both quietly freaking out, we were both laughing on the inside knowing that we’d laugh like hell once we finally did get OUT. 🙂

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We arrived at the race start which was ocean side. The parking lot at Fort Baker was flooded so the race director had to move the start/finish area to Rodeo Beach earlier in the week.

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This move unnerved me at first, but I preferred Rodeo Beach as I was more familiar with this area.

At the start, the weather was super warm and the energy was high. This event has four different distances: a 50k and a 50 Mile race that starts at 6 am and a half and 35k that started at 8 am.

Before I knew it, we were off and running up hill. This I was prepared for as I have done this climb a few times. IMG_0031

The first thing I noticed was how easy it felt. My legs felt great and I wasn’t out of breath. Having battled allergies recently, this was a fantastic feeling.

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The trail was a bit congested to start, especially when we hit the stairs. A lot of people, myself included, stopped to take photos.

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One of the hardest parts of running in Marin, is trying really hard NOT to fall while taking in some of the most amazing views.

I was just moving along running most of the time, including the up hills. I worried momentarily that I might have been going out too fast, but I just felt good so I went with it.

The Golden Gate behind me. Photo from
The Golden Gate behind me. Photo from Chasqui Runner

Around mile 10 my one foot started to burn, like I had some hot spots on the bottom of my foot. I rarely get blisters or have blister issues so this was strange.

I just kept running telling myself that Stonegate would be at the top of Cardiac and that I just had to get to her. I decided that would be the best spot for her to hang out all day as I would see her at 19.8 and then again at 29.3.

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Just before the Tennessee Valley Aid-Station (mile 10.5) I ran into Miss P and Pearls both of whom were doing the 50k distance. So nice to see and run with them for a bit. They were motoring at a good pace and I just hung on enjoying the company.

After the aid-station, Miss P ran up ahead and I ran with Pearls for a few miles before she just disappeared. They both went on to have great races. They are crazy strong runners.

The next aid-station after Tennessee Valley was Muir Beach, another aid-station I am familiar with. This is also the point in the race where the 50ks went one way and the 50 mile runners went another. From here on out, anyone you saw on the trail, you knew was a 50 mile runner.

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After the Muir Beach aid-station, I was on a mission. Climb Cardiac and get to Stonegate because my feet were killing me at this point.

Climbing Cardiac brought back so many memories of when I ran the Mt. Tam 50k with Stonegate and Burning Girl. We had a lot of laughs during that race and while at the time, Cardiac was a tough moment, I was laughing my head off during this race thinking about it.

Just me and the fog!
Just me and the fog!

I had a runner behind me who would occasionally get too close but not want to pass as he said I was pulling him up the mountain. Finally, I just made him go ahead … that’s when he told me that the next climb, the climb to Willow Camp, was by far the craziest climb of the race.

Photo by Inside Trail
Photo by Inside Trail

That big lump in the middle, that’s Willow Camp. Ouch.

I arrived into Cardiac and saw Stonegate hollering to me from on top of a cliff. She came down to check on me. She had me in and out of that aid-station fast but I told her my feet hurt and to grab the spare pair of shoes that I had in the car. I’ve never changed shoes in a race before like this, but I figured it couldn’t be much worse than what I was dealing with.  I could feel hot spots all along the bottoms of both of my feet.

Before I left, she asked me if I had gotten her text. “Nope, but I haven’t had much cell service,” I said. She goes, “Ok! No worries! You’ll get it. Had a little issue but it’s ALL okay now. You’ll laugh.” Uh-oh. 🙂

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Off I went down the trail to see what this Willow Camp climb was all about.

The trail eventually dumps you into the town of Stinson Beach. It’s an adorable little town, but you have to run the streets of it and particularly this big hill to get back to the trails. My legs were just not having it. I had run up a good portion of Cardiac, but after that, my legs were finally feeling the day’s efforts and starting to revolt.

Photo from Chasqui Runner
Photo from Chasqui Runner

The climb up Willow Camp was by far, one of the gnarliest climbs I have done. Maybe it was the fact that it comes at mile 24 of a 50 mile race or the fact that it goes straight up with no switch backs like Cardiac, whatever the reason, it can crush your spirits if you let it.

All I could do was laugh at what was before me and keep moving. I put my feet out of my mind and kept climbing. Then, after what seems like forever, you are presented with this …

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What you can’t see are the single track trails just rolling in and around these hills. It was the most spectacular part of the whole course. I ran and ran and ran. I had the biggest smile on my face. I passed a few runners and caught up to a group I had been near earlier.

These hills were just breath taking but I was also on a mission to get back to Cardiac so that I could change my socks and shoes.

Right before I came into the Cardiac aid-station I passed about 3 runners. I was moving so fast they even commented on it. I just wanted relief for my feet!!

Coming back to Cardiac
Coming back to Cardiac

Stonegate had a chair set up and my new shoes ready. By “new shoes” I truly  mean brand new shoes. I just had got them Thursday night before the race. I wore them in the car to Marin and packet pick up but I’d never run in them. No better time than the present to start.

I changed out my socks, added some blister stuff to my feet and put on my new shoes. It felt like I took forever at that aid-station but truthfully, it was probably less than 5 minutes. Off I went thanking Stonegate immensely for being there for me.

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The next section was all down hill which is normally something I cherish and had been doing quite well all race. The new shoes on my feet however, felt clunky and different at first compared to my previous ones. The blister pain however disappeared and for that I was grateful.

It took a little while for me to get used to my new shoes and right about this time, I started to get this terrible pain in my toe. This is one of those familiar pains I’ve been battling lately.

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Down down down down we went. These trails had lots of hikers on them and some really cool bridges but you had to follow the ribbons closely or else you might get lost.

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I was part of a group and it was clear we all were tired and struggling just a little. We were more than half way done with this thing, but we still had a long way to go.

For me, I play mental games with myself. Whenever I get half way through a race, I start counting down down miles, not up. It makes the distance seem less daunting. I also just think about aid-stations, and at this point, I knew I only had three more aid-stations to go before the finish.

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I don’t recall much about the next aid-station, Deer Park (mile 35.9) but I know in my head I was thinking, “Maybe I’ll see deer there?!” hahaha My brain was doing anything it could to occupy itself.

These trails are pretty remote but it was riiiiight about here that I did get that earlier text from Stonegate that I mentioned above ….

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I was DYING!!! Boy did this text come through at a great moment. I am sure the stress she had to deal with was way more than my day. Crewing is never easy and can be nerve-wracking … clearly … but she also took this photo ….

Stonegate chilling in my car. hahahhaa
Stonegate chilling in my car. hahahhaa

Love this girl. By the time she took the above photo, her job was done. She just had to watch me cross the finish and drive my tired butt home – she deserved this chill moment by the ocean.

Muir Beach Aid-Station (mile 40.8) was next. “Less than 10 to go!” I screamed in my head. Unfortunately, I decided to stop and use the restroom here. It was convenient, open and well, I had to go. So, another few minutes were spent here that I had not planned on but it is always a good sign that things are working. 🙂

Tennessee Valley (mile 45.8) was the next aid-station and I just could not wait to get there. I was motoring at this point, or at least I was trying to motor. There were some stairs, a few decent hills to climb so honestly I probably was not going as fast as I thought I was. 🙂

I finally saw the aid-station and I just smiled.  When I ran into it, the WHOLE aid-station erupted in cheers and screams … I looked at them, smiled and said, “So no one’s come through here for a while huh?” They laughed hard, “No no no, this is how we greet ALL runners. Don’t cut yourself short!” 🙂 I am not lying when I say, these volunteers are awesome.

I was there probably all of 30 seconds. I started smelling that barn and I wanted in.

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I had asked the volunteers before I left, if the final two miles were up two miles and down two miles and a girl replied, “Yup, that’s pretty much it.” Um nope, not quite. 🙂 Not even close actually but it’s alright, it made me laugh every time I’d hit another hill.

Finally I hit Road 88 which I know would lead me down to the finish line. I glanced at my watch. I was a little bummed. I really wanted to finish sub 11 hours but with my shoe change and spontaneous bathroom stop, I knew it wasn’t in the cards but I know it is obtainable.

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As I was cresting yet another hill, I heard “Woot woot!”It was Stonegate! She had climbed up the mountain and ran with me back down!!! So excited to have her with me that last mile!!

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She warned me that I had a little up, some stairs to go down and then the rest was all downhill. It’s amazing what you forget you ran 49 miles ago. 🙂

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I had been worried that I wouldn’t finish in the daylight but I totally had plenty of time and the sky was glorious as I was finishing. Stonegate took some killer photos as she was running behind me.

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Finally I could see the tents and cars! I was trying to run fast but I am pretty sure it looked like I was running in quicksand.

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Just run down the big paved hill to the parking lot and turn left,” she said, “You got this!”

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Besides some pain in my feet, I felt pretty good otherwise. I saw the finish arch and heard all the cheers from those still hanging around…a huge smile just permanently on my face.

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Sadly, Stonegate and I didn’t get any photos of us together but the majority of these photos, unless otherwise noted, are hers. I can’t thank her enough for her support and encouragement all day. Having her there truly saved me.

I ended up finishing just over a 11 hours. Honestly, I was surprised by that as originally I thought I’d be closer to 12 hours but at some point during the race, I realized I could potentially make it sub 11 … but that wasn’t the goal. The goal of the race was to finish, finish smiling and use it as a training run. I succeeded. I was all smiles.

Sadly, I had to jet out of there as soon as I finished. We had to drive back home because I had to get on a plane Sunday morning for work (ouch, not the wisest choice but it wasn’t so bad).

Later I found out that I had won 3rd in my Age Group!! I was super stoked to hear that. The Race Director emailed me and said that he’d mail me my  age group award and the finishers medal that I missed getting at the finish as they had ran out. I truly love Inside Trail Racing, they not only put on stellar events and have great volunteers, they seem like such cool people and their communication to runners is spot on.

I also have to thank Vans. He held down the fort at home not only during my racing adventure but he continued holding it down when I left for a 3 day work trip immediately after.

FaceTiming with these goofballs ... love them.
FaceTiming with these goofballs … love them.

Overall I am pleased with my results. My body, particularly my quads were pretty sore the next day but that was to be expected. I didn’t get a chance to truly rest having flown out of town but the adrenaline of the event was still pumping through my veins. I am still smiling even now.

Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.”

Happy Trails,

~Trailmomma

Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with Inside Trail Racing at all and was not paid or compensated for writing this report. I have run two of their other events in addition to this one and I truly believe they host stellar, challenging and thoroughly top notch events. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HELLO WORLD!

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post since early December!? Happy New Year everyone! Time is sure flying already.

It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write or had anything to write about, I just purely have not had the time to sit down and devote quality time here. This is sad because this used to be my creative outlet but clearly through the years, it has developed more into Race Reports and the occasional trip to Plant-Stock posts. 🙂

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Today I decided to file away some time to sit down and just “check-in” with all of you and this ol’blog. I’ve been coming here (or blogging to be precise) since about 2009! For you long time readers, you’ve been with me through my first ultra and the birth of Squeaker! Crazy where life takes us huh?

To recap, I have been running. Every weekend I am hitting the trails filling my heart with all things trail-running. Laughing, running and loving nature. I am blessed to live where I live.

Scenes from the trail.
Scenes from the trail.

My kiddos are deep into their winter sports season playing basketball which warms my heart like no other. I was a basketball player and I love the game but watching my girls play and learn to the love the game? Best thing in the world!

Peanut has so much more confidence this season.
Peanut has so much more confidence this season.
Squeaker is all DEFENSE baby!
Squeaker is all DEFENSE baby!

Overall 2017 was a pretty good year. I ran in some amazing races (see my Race Reports page), I traveled to Washington DC and became a Food for Life Instructor and I laughed, a lot.

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When your friend gets a pot stuck in the fridge!

I also paced Pigeon the last 20 miles of her first ever 100 mile finish at the Tahoe Rim Trail.

2017 Crew
Pigeon with her crew AND her 100 mile buckle.

And I paced my friend Miss P into the night running 31 miles of her first 100 mile finish at Rio Del Lago.

Miss P with her pacers AND her 100 mile medal!
Miss P with her pacers AND her 100 mile buckle!

How awesome is that?! Watching someone run 100 miles is beyond motivating and spectacular. I adore these women.

Yet 2017 wasn’t all sunshine and roses though. Some chapters in my life closed but when one door closes, another opens right? The universe has a plan. I have always thought and believed in that. Sometimes it is hard to listen to it because it has been familiar, routine or comforting but all you can do is trust.

My hopes for 2018 are simple: Laugh ♦ Love ♦ Listen … MORE.

I want MORE outdoor adventures with these two crazies!

My crazies

I want MORE roller skating adventures – YES I begged my friends to roller skate … the end result? THEY LOVED IT!

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So I want to do it again!

Crazy is as Crazy does
Crazy is as Crazy does

I want MORE plant-based education whether in person or through social media. I recently taught an in-home cooking demo for my friend Beth. It was fun! Currently I am coaching 17 people at work and it is so rewarding and exciting to watch them discover the power of a plant-based way of living.

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I want MORE one on one time with this guy.

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No one supports me and loves me like he does. He also loves being outside just as much as I do and I love how he is instilling that in our girls. Our family adventures are what I cherish most of all.

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So that’s 2017 in a brief recap and 2018 wishes all in one post! Not bad for the first post of 2018!

Whatever your goals are for 2018 or whatever happened in 2017, be at peace with it and trust what unfolds before you. Sometimes it takes stopping the search, the quest, the need-to-know … to find what you are looking truly looking for in this crazy world.

Just breathe. Just be.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON RACE REPORT (CIM 2017)

Pain is temporary. Facebook is Forever.” – One of the many signs that made me laugh during the 35th annual California International Marathon yesterday.

Photo from: www.runcim.org
Photo from: www.runcim.org

Yesterday was the 35th Annual California International Marathon. Last year, I ran with my boss for his first ever marathon.  This year, I ran with my co-worker/work-husband/friend, Grumpy for his.

Grumpy decided last December when our boss finished, that he too could do a marathon and so, I handed him a training plan and he did all the work.

Obligatory Race Expo Photo
Obligatory Race Expo Photo

This would be my 9th CIM to date and I was super excited to head to the Expo this year because I never claimed my 5 year anniversary Loyal Runner gift!

5 year pin and Travel Mug!
5 year pin and Travel Mug!

It was fun watching Grumpy wander the Expo. You could see his nervous energy as he zipped about. I have to say, he picked THE best CIM year to run as the swag this year was top notch! Well done SRA and CIM!

Best race swag year yet!
Best race swag year yet!

Seriously, that little waist pouch is the best thing ever. Super comfortable. Any other CIMers who don’t want theirs, let me know because this is one waist pack that doesn’t bounce (they all bounce). I even wore it IN the race without testing it out first.  Huge fan.

Okay, back to the race.

Sunday morning came fast. Saturday evening, my family and I went to our town Christmas Tree Lighting. Probably spent a little too much time on my feet but it was worth it.

Sunday bright and early, my dear friend TiggerT picked me up and we were off. Love this tradition of riding with TiggerT. She always makes me laugh.

I met Grumpy at the Chevron station where I told him to go and we take the shuttle buses to the start. He seemed ready. He was dressed pretty warmly but it was chilly at the start.

I went with shorts, a tank top, a long sleeve and then my space-blanket from last year’s CIM to keep me warm at the start. Always keep your space blankets for another use.

Pre-Race Photo!
Pre-Race Photo!

Grumpy said his ideal goal would be to finish in 5 hours. He wanted to start with the 4:30 pace group. I thought that was fine but I knew that we’d probably have to stop along the way and would lose the group eventually.

Grumpy ready to do this!
Grumpy ready to do this!

It took us 3 minutes from the gun to cross the timing mat. There were about 8,000 full marathon runners this year they said and another 7,000 participating in the relay. Incredible!

Another super cool bonus this year, was the National Anthem! This year they had Vince DiFiore from CAKE play the trumpet which was pretty kick ass. I love CAKE and they are locals and to have him play the national anthem, then have the gun go off and the start music be The Distance, was pretty freaking cool.

We ran with the 4:30 group until about miles 9 or 10 when we both decided that we had to stop and use the porta potties. That was the only downfall of the race. The porta potty lines were incredibly long throughout the race. There is one spot where I know they typically are not, but we couldn’t quite wait that long so we stopped. Like I suspected, we lost the 4:30 group and never really caught up to them.

Grumpy was doing great but he definitely slowed on the up hills. The down hills hurt his ankles. He’s battled a few aches and pains throughout his training, but he was moving and that was all that matter.

The miles really seemed to fly by in the beginning. I couldn’t believe it when we got to 6 and saw Not Chris, then it was the half way mark before we knew it. I saw lots of friends along the course which is always fun.

By the time we got to Watt Avenue (mile 19), I started texting our work crew that was waiting between miles 20 and 21. I also texted Vans to let him know that we were on our way. Mile 20, at Loehmans’ Plaza is always a huge huge aid-station and place of insanity.

I used the incentive that his friends were waiting for him with signs and good cheer to keep him moving.

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They cheered SO loud for him and had the funniest signs. Such a boost to have your own little cheering section just for you.

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Surprisingly he didn’t stop, he wanted to keep moving. His IT band and achilles were really starting to flare up every couple of miles bringing us to a walk run type movement.

He kept apologizing but I told him to stop. He was doing awesome, he was moving and he was going to finish!

Mile 22 we came upon some race photographers. Such a fun photo spot too. I told him we HAD to run for the photos … so we ran. When we got near them, I jumped in the air (like in those old Toyota commercials) and the photographer yelled, “Great shot! How do you have all that energy?” About 5 runners turned and gave me the death stare! LOL Grumpy laughed, “They all hate you now.” .

I then texted our boss who lives in East Sac almost right on the course. I told him we were a few miles out. When we passed, he was out there cheering him on! Another boost for Grumpy!

Finally we were on L Street and making our way on the last two miles of the course. Still walking and running, he was gritting it out. Every so often we’d dance and sing to the music. Grumpy even encouraged a few runners along the way himself, “Come on! You got this!” We ran through a group of High School Cheerleaders and I yelled, “Come on! Cheer for Grumpy!” and they sure did! A whole little cheer just for him. 🙂

Vans and my girls were out there too!
Vans and my girls were out there too!

Vans and my girls were at mile 20 and then again on L street cheering us on! Love my little cheerleaders!

The last .2 of the race right here.
The last .2 of the race right here.

If you can zoom in on the above photo, it is quite hilarious the difference between our facial expressions. I really pushed him that last half mile or so to run and not stop. He was hurting but there is SO much support that last section, so many people cheering that you just can’t stop, you don’t want to.

Finally we made the turn towards the finish. I reminded him that we have to finish separately. One shoot for women and one for men. I told him to run!!

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And run he did and then, he became a marathoner! Just like that. 🙂

So proud of him for gritting through all the pain and finishing. We finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes so not his goal time, but I do believe he said that’ll give him something to shoot for NEXT YEAR!

Also a huge thank you and congrats to this guy, for always being out on the course cheering me on and waiting for me with two tired and hungry girls at the finish line from  year to year.

Vans wins!
Vans wins!

I do believe his favorite part of CIM is the beer garden. 🙂 Well earned dear, well earned.

Next year will be CIM number 10 for me!

Thank you SRA and CIM for putting on another stellar marathon event. Everything ran smoothly from my running perspective. 🙂

Happy Trails Road,

~Trailmomma

 

 

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OREGON COAST 50k RACE REPORT

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Spontaneous (spon-ta-ne-ous) adjective: performed or occurring as as a result of sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation.
Spontaneity was our theme, our goal, our mantra this past weekend. We only had two items on our road-trip agenda:
1) Stop, stay and explore Eugene, Oregon; and then
2) Head to the coast and run the Oregon Coast 50k.
We’ve had this trip in the books for a while.  When Stonegate presented me with the idea of running the Oregon Coast 50k, I was all-in because I love a good race destination road-trip ESPECIALLY when that destination is in Oregon.
Photo from: www.rainshadowrunning.com
Photo from: www.rainshadowrunning.com

When I signed up for the race, I decided that I truly wanted to run it. Maybe the correct phrase is “race it” but in a middle of the pack kind of way. 🙂

I started training in July. I told Stonegate and Burning Girl (who was supposed to join us but had last minute family obligations), that my intention was to push it hard(er) on this race than I have for our other road trip races. I don’t normally run “hard” in the fall, instead I use this time as more of a recovery period from a gnarly spring race schedule. Yet, something compelled me to want to run harder.

The Oregon Coast 50k boasted an elevation gain of about 4500 feet. I tried not to let that get in my head. That is probably the lowest elevation I have raced on trails in a long time, but I know better than to underestimate any race, especially a coastal race.

I had an A Goal (place top 3 in my age group), a B Goal (place top 5 in my age group) and a C Goal (finish standing and smiling). The day before, Stonegate and I played “tourists” a bit over zealously and man, did we both feel a tad bit tired! Oops.

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The race had a 9:00 am start time which is something completely foreign to me! Most ultras start in the dark and super early. Stonegate and I really didn’t even need to set an alarm for this one. What did require some juggling, was our pre-race fueling but we managed okay by making huge smoothies and taking selfies on our hotel patio.

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They have you head to the finish line and then they bus you to the starting line up the road. The race starts on the beach! The bus ride was quick and painless. Some runners had to stand but no one seemed to mind because the weather was gorgeous. I guess in years past it has been rainy and pretty gloomy … it was sunny and quite warm for us.

Starting line - Jason (in red) is the Race Director
Starting line – Jason (in red) is the Race Director

Stonegate and I were pretty excited. The energy around was happy and everyone was so nice and talkative. Jason, the Race Director let us all get situated on the beach before we took off running.

Stonegate and I minutes before the start
Stonegate and I minutes before the start.

Boy did everyone RUN! The whole race started off crazy fast! I was hoping it was just the excitement and that everyone would eventually settle down. I mean, 6 miles all along the sand … that can be brutal on your body if you’re not careful. Stonegate stuck with me. My first mile rang out on my watch. …

Stonegate: I feel like we’re going really fast.

Me: Well we’re doing about an 8:30 pace according to my watch.

Stonegate: Okay then, you go ahead, I am going to slow down dude. I don’t want to start out too fast. 

Me: Okay! I am sure you’ll catch up to me soon!

I felt okay and not like I was pushing to keep the pace so I tried to just settle in and run. A few groups passed me so I assumed that I had slowed a little bit.

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Now don’t get me wrong, the ocean was GORGEOUS. You had the beautiful Pacific to your right and an adorable coastal town to your left but six miles, on sand … is a really REALLY long time. It was for me at least. I found my mind wandering, “What will I eat later today?” and “What do I have to do on Wednesday again?” I tried to zone in my thoughts and focus on my form like my coach instructed me to but every so often I would drift.

At the end of six sandy miles you literally hit a rock wall. You then have to climb up some steps (that felt like boulders at the time), and then you run along the most beautiful path!

We walked the path the next day ... super cute!
We walked the path the next day … super cute!

I sort of felt like a weight had lifted off me when I left the sand. I am not a sand loving runner. 🙂

You then run through the coastal town of Yachats (pronounced Ya-Hots).  The first aid-station is here, Mile 7 except that I never actually SAW the aid-station. When I crested the grassy area, I saw a ton of elite-looking guys changing their shoes but I never saw a table and I didn’t really want to waste time looking for one. I decided to fuel with what I had on me. In hind-sight, I probably should have fueled a tad earlier in the race given the later start time.

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The course was extremely well marked. We were assured at the start that if there was a major turn that there would be clear markings and signage and there WAS! I only had a few moments when I was alone on the trail, that I had those “Oh crap! I haven’t seen a ribbon lately!” thoughts but to be fair, there were no turns or any other trails around…you just had to follow what was natural and in front of you.

 There were more stairs much to my dismay but not a ton. Not like at Stinson Beach or in the Bay Area. I just kept moving. Then we hit our first climb and it felt like a ton of bricks had landed on my chest! “What the heck?!
I decided to fuel thinking that maybe I was in need of calories. However I could barely chew because my chest felt so tight. I pulled out my inhaler and actually took a puff. I can’t remember when I have had an allergy attack like that. I say allergy because I never had it again and Stonegate had the same thing around the same spot on the trail! Something was blooming that my allergies didn’t like.
Around this time, about 20 people passed me on the uphill deflating my inner fire a bit. How on Earth did they have the strength and power to climb like that?!
I decided to power hike as best I could. I knew I was on the first of the three climbs and that the second one was way bigger.
Photo from: www.rainshadowrunning.com
Photo from: www.rainshadowrunning.com

When I got to the top and started on my way down, I was eagerly looking forward to bombing a downhill! The trail however was super technical with lots of tree roots and rocks. Still, I did my best trying to open it up on the down.

I was flying down a hill, somewhere at about the 12 mile marker when I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my left quad! “What the heck!” I yelled. I had thought that I was hit with a be-be gun! I didn’t stop running but the pain was intense! I looked down and there was a stinger sticking out of my quad! “A bee?!”

I was seriously just dumbfounded.  I kept running afraid to stop and have it blow up and swell. I haven’t been stung by anything since I was like 8 years old so … I had no idea if I was allergic or not.

It burned, it itched, it stung. I didn’t stop. Finally, I came to Mile 14 and the Cape Perpetua aid-station. I grabbed a hand full of grapes and I asked the guy there if they had bees around here and he goes, “Oh yea! We have an angry bunch that just stung a ton of people!” Great. Well at least it wasn’t a be-be gun. 🙂

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I continued on a bit, knowing that the big second uphill was coming. I was starting to feel a little bit better around mile 17 or so. The views were just outstanding and really were lifting my spirits.

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Just keep moving Pam, you can do this. You trained for this.” That’s what I kept telling myself at least. Then I ran with a guy for a little while who was talking about the 100 milers he had done and how he was excited to have his Western States Qualifier. He lived in Ashland and I told him that was our race destination spot last year!

THEN! I was stopped dead in my tracks on the trail. There was a bunch of runners and some guys just yelling. Turns out, there was a Yellow Jacket’s nest in the middle of the trail with tons of angry yellow-jackets.

One dude said, “I am going to go for it!” and he ran straight through! I felt like I was watching him in slow motion … BAM stung in his calf … BAM stung in his quad.

I turned to the girl next to me and we were like,  “Um nope! No way. No how!” We followed the other group that had to bushwhack their way FAR around the buzzing yellow jacket’s nest.

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By the time I reached Cooks aid-station (mile 19.5) I was already coming back to life. I was excited that this was essentially the “turn-around” spot which mentally always helps propel me in races.

I ran into that aid-station ready to be in and in out but then I looked at the table and saw mini dill pickles! Oh my. I’ve never eaten pickles in a race before though I hear a lot of runners like them. I had a quick mental battle of “should I or shouldn’t I?” in my head and decided to grab one and walk out. It was THE BEST PICKLE ON EARTH! 🙂 Seriously, that little dill pickle recharged me and I floated out of that aid-station light as feather!

One more aid-station to go and the biggest down hill section of the race was next! I honestly felt like I was flying down the next section. It was one of the few NON technical downhills in the course. I am going to assume that the intense thick tree cover interfered with my pace on my Garmin. 🙂 I know it did with the mileage because the race came up short in distance according to my Garmin but we were under some pretty thick tree cover for a lot of the race.

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I just kept running. I’d pass a few people here and there. Sometimes they’d pass me back. In my head, I had settled on my C Goal but a part of me wasn’t giving up completely.

I came across one guy who was laying on the ground. I asked if he was okay and he said he had swelling in his knee. I asked if he wanted any Advil and he hopped right up and said, “Sure! We can keep walking so that way I won’t slow you down.

I handed off some Advil and wished him luck and continued on my way.  Finally, I came to the last aid-station! Woo hoo! I was getting excited knowing that I was getting closer and closer to the finish!

I chatted with the aid-station volunteer. I asked him if anyone dropped here earlier because of bee stings and he said he had a lot of drops, but not sure if because of bee stings – Stonegate is allergic and I had been worrying about her all race.

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I continued on my way running all the ups and the downs. When I encountered any stairs, I walked. 🙂 FINALLY I was dumped back onto the pavement! Yes!!! I could smell the finish but I knew that I had to run a lot of pavement first.

I looked up and saw a woman that had passed me earlier in the race. She had looked SO strong too. She powered up all those hills like they were nothing. A small part of me was excited to have caught up to her.

I ran along side her and she seemed excited to have someone to run with. I told her to go ahead and she said she was out of water and that she couldn’t go any faster. I asked her if she wanted my handheld water bottle, “Are you sure!? You don’t mind?” she said. “Of course not! Go ahead, I have plenty.

The two of us ran through the town together. Then we made the turn onto the grass. The woman said, “Come on, we have about 400 yards. We can do this! I don’t care about time.” In my head I was thinking: First of all, how does she know it is 400 yards and second of all, my C Goal had turned into “finish this BUT finish under 6 hours” since I was way off what I had hoped I would finish in … so for ME, I did care about time, MY time. It wasn’t about beating anyone but myself. It always is.

We were running across the grass. Everyone was cheering. I saw the finish and that it was a little up hill and something just turned on inside me and I went for it. I sprinted as hard as I could. I saw the clock and I pushed it!

Whew!!! I did it. I was done, thank goodness, I was done! That is one helluva race. It is unassuming in many ways, but don’t be fooled, it’s a doozy of a race and I was thrilled to be done!

The woman came up to me and thanked me and said, “When I saw you turn it on, I said, I don’t have what she has!” 🙂 Then the Advil guy finished shortly after and he thanked me for the Advil.

I found my drop bag and waited for Stonegate to finish. She texted me so I knew that she hadn’t dropped because of an allergic reaction but she had been stung.

Stonegate Finishing!
Stonegate Finishing!

I changed out of my smelly shirt and ran back out on the course to find her. I ran through the town with her until she reached the finish! What a day!

Final stats:

I finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes.

I was Second in my Age Group!! 🙂

And 17th female out of the 91 that started the race.

I will take it! I conquered my A Goal after all despite feeling like I had run a terrible race. It just goes to show you, never give up, never quit. Give all that you have left to give!

Stonegate and I didn’t hang around the finish for long. We were hungry! 🙂

Post Race Tradition - Champagne!
Post Race Tradition – Champagne!

We headed back to our hotel, showered, stretched, had some champagne (a tradition), hummus, carrots, crackers, chips and salsa. Food never tasted so good!

Later that night, being that we are both Plant-Based and know the importance of post race fuel being key to recovery, ran out to the store and bought kale! We made a rice, bean, kale and salsa dish in our instant-pot that night which was perfect!

Plant-Based Athletes recovering with plant-strong food!
Plant-Based Athletes recovering with plant-strong food!

Overall, I am happy with the race outcome. It was a gorgeous race, super well marked and well run. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone even though I had some dark(er) moments out there. I was able to pull through and not wallow for long … there is always a silver lining, there is always something you can do or try to pull you out of your funk. No one can do it but you.

In the end, it was the best road-trip ever. I am in love with Oregon and I finally got to visit and run on the coast. It was everything I expected it to be and more.

I truly am blessed to have a friend like Stonegate who seeks and cherishes adventure like I do and a husband who is willing to let me go and explore and feed my soul on trips like these. I missed my family immensely while I was gone, they would have loved the Oregon Coast. I guess we need to head back all together. 🙂

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Until next time Oregon!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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Some of my favorite road trip photos from our four days of fun!

We discovered a selfie-stick in Stonegate's car and it opened a whole new level of fun for us.
We discovered a selfie-stick in Stonegate’s car and it opened a whole new level of fun for us. Thank you to her 10 year old for leaving it in there!
Wandering the University of Oregon campus ...
Wandering the University of Oregon campus …
Discovering the Sea Lion Caves on 101!! One of the best random finds of the trip!
Discovering the Sea Lion Caves on 101!! One of the best random finds of the trip!
No shortage of laughter while driving long hours.
No shortage of laughter while driving long hours.
Our home away from home most of the time - our ocean side patio.
Our home away from home most of the time – our ocean side patio.

 

 

 

 

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BUFFALO STAMPEDE 10 MILER RACE REPORT

Why, why did I sign up for this race?”

That was the thought going through my head as my alarm sounded at O’dark-thirty. I very rarely ever wake up thinking that as I am genuinely always excited to run whether it is on trails OR roads.

Suck it up sister. You can do this,” my brain said as I rolled out of bed and went about my pre-race morning routine.

The Buffalo Stampede 10 Miler is a race that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been running this road race since I lived in the neighborhood through which the course passes.

Once we moved away, my family made it a point to continue being part of this race. Typically I would run the race, the kids would do the fun run and we’d go visit Grandma and Grandpa who lived near by.

This year, and possibly part of the reason for my hesitation, was that the family wouldn’t be joining me. Squeaker had a soccer game later that morning. So no one on course to cheer me on – just me, myself and a bunch of super fast runners. My goal was to run it as close to last year’s time and then hop in the car and race home to coach and ref my daughter’s soccer game.

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The one thing I do LOVE about road races, is the minimal prep work it takes to prepare in the morning. No packs or gear. Just shoes, hat/visor and something to eat when I am done.

I arrived early and sat in my car listening to as much pump up music as I possibly could before having to get out of the car and stretch/warm up.

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I gathered by the starting area and started talking to a nice girl who was in her late 20’s and had never done this race before. She asked me about the course as she said the online map was a tad confusing. I’ve never looked it up honestly because I just know my old hood so well. 🙂

Talking with her brought me out of my funk. I think deep down, I was scared to run because I really wanted to do better than last year and I know how much I had pushed myself last year, I just wasn’t sure I had it in me to go any faster.

I situated myself kind of near the front. This race attracts a lot of the fast roadies in the area. It is put on by the Buffalo Chips Running Club, to which I am actually a member of this year but sadly, haven’t run with since last December.

I stood there pondering how I felt and what I was shooting for race wise.

The next thing I knew, the gun went off … it took me a bit to find a spot that wasn’t over crowded. All I kept thinking as I was running, was that “Man! I feel SO slow … my legs just are not pumping. Oh well, it’s going to be that kind of day I guess.

Then this happened …

Mile 1 – 7:31/mi: UM, WHAT THE? You were told to start off between 8:02 and 8:07! This does NOT feel like a 7:30 pace!

Mile 2 – 7:40/mi: Okay, okay. This actually feels maintainable … but come on Pam, do you REALLY think you can maintain this for another 8 miles? You’ve NEVER run this fast for a long time before …

Mile 3 – 7:43/mi: Shut up self! Look at that! You’re sticking to this pace. You don’t feel tired or out of breath. Keep breathing. Just focus on your form.

Mile 4 – 7:44/mi: Water! Oh, I should probably have a little, whatever it takes to not.lose.this.pace! Slurp … no stopping. Got the running and drinking thing down!

Mile 5 – 7:43/mi: Oh, this is where the course is a little different. We’re going down where we used to come back … okay, this is kind of cool. Wait, does this count as a PR? 🙂 It’s the same course, just a reversed direction for this part … shut it dork, just run. Form. Feet. Form. Feet. Breathe.

Mile 6 – 7:36/mi: Oooh look at you, back near the 7:30s … still feeling good. This is not my favorite section but at least now I can see some of the other runners coming back … oh look! There is that girl I chatted with at the start! “You go girl!! You got this!!!” She gave me a thumbs up!

Mile 7 – 7:41/mi: Okay Pam, here’s the deal. I waited this long to make this decision final BUT … you have 3 miles left, I do NOT want to see ANY 8’s on your watch. None .. you can do this, 3 more miles and you have yourself a new PR … just keep it steady! Don’t blow up!

Mile 8 – 7:34/mi: Don’t push too hard, but good job passing that dude back there. You were getting sucked into his pace and gait, I could feel it. His breathing was labored, yours is okay. Oh and that sip of water felt amazing, you had terrible dry mouth. Feet. Form. Feet. Form. Breathe!

Mile 9 – 7:40/mi: One.more.mile!!!! Come on!!!! Okay, you’re going to pass this girl whose has been in front of you all day … “Come on! You’ve been strong all race, come on, follow me! You got this!” She grunted and I think tried to kick it into her next gear. Go Pam, just run! There’s the right turn, you’re on the home stretch! There’s George, he’s cheering for you .. uh oh .. he’s also cheering for the girl behind you! No sneak attacks, push it, sprint!

Mile 10: 7:17/mi: I see the clock!! Oh my gosh, you could have  a 5 minute PR … RUUUUUUNNNN PAM!!!!!!

Official Finish Time: 1:15:58 / 7:36 pace! 

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Post Race: Oh my word .. don’t hurl, whatever you do don’t HURL! hahaha!

I was okay, just a little nauseated at first but that went away. I was beyond excited. I grabbed some water and talked with some Buffalo Chip members that I haven’t seen in YEARS. Man, I love this community. Such good people!

But,  I had to race back to the car. My cool down was jogging the few blocks it took to get to my car. I texted everyone who wanted to know the results while I tried to stretch as much as I could.

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I am super excited by my race and my results. The mind is a funny thing and can really send you in one direction or another if you’re not careful.

I feel fortunate that I tend to have a positive mind that, for the most part, is always motivating me and if not me, allows me to motivate others who are running as well. I think that’s super important to having a good race. Happy that I shook off that morning cloud I woke up with.

The Stats

I ended up placing 4th in my age group! Third place came in 2 minutes faster … so not super close and I don’t think I really even had two faster minutes in me but dang, I am proud of that 4th place! This race is no joke!

Also, because I am apparently 40 now .. I was added to the MASTERS category of runners as well. 🙂 This took me by surprise, not gonna lie. However, I was 13th(!!) in the Masters category – the first 12 were insanely fast and well over the age of 40 … I am honored to be in that category. What a bunch of speedsters!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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2016 Stampede Race Report

2015 Stampede Race Report

2011 Stampede Race Report (3 months after Squeaker’s birth!)

2010 Stampede Race Report (this one has adorable Peanut video!)

All years prior … I wasn’t blogging. 🙂

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