A few weeks ago I received an email from Chris Russell, the host over at Run Run Live podcast. Someone had told him that I would be an interesting person to interview. HA! While I am not so sure about being “interesting” it was a super fun conversation that lasted about 25 minutes. I talk about running, mom’ing, plant-based stuff and how the heck I squeeze it all in!
If you want to listen, you can click HERE. The beginning of his podcast starts with Chris talking about his marathon training and a piece on beating those winter blues.
My portion of the podcast starts at about 18 minutes.
You can also listen on RunRunLive on iTunes.
Many thanks to Chris over at RunRunLive Podcast for his time and interest and a big HELLO to the new readers his podcast had channeled my way.
It never ceases to amaze me the path our lives can take based on the people we meet in life. I have had an incredible February and I feel truly blessed.
February has been the month where I have felt my “plant-based super-powers” have been utilized the most and I look forward to helping and doing more! 🙂
Well the first race of the season has come and gone and boy was it a ginormous MUD-FEST!
I ran the FOURmidable 50K last year for the first time and had an amazing race. In the days leading up to this year’s race however, I noticed that my race recap from 2016 generated a lot of traffic (and a few emails). FOURmidable this year was a USA Track & Field 50K trail national championships and therefore garnered a lot more interest and entrants (almost double in the 50K alone). Quite a few top names and elites showed up which was pretty amazing to watch.
My day started with an awesome comment from elite runner (and blogger) Jean Pommier on my last year’s report. That put a nice smile on my face.
Then I found a little present from Vans while I was chilling in my car pre-race. I love his simple, but wise advice: Keep Running. Watch your step. 🙂
The weather leading up to the race was definitely something to contend with this year. I have been running on these exact trails for weeks now so I knew what to expect … and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it.
I’ve spent the last few weekends running with Pigeon, Not Chris and Grumpy. Not Chris and Grumpy were making their Auburn trail race debut! Not Chris ran the 35.5K and Grumpy the 13K.
Watching the excitement on their faces in anticipation of the race was awesome. I love seeing new found trail love and joy.
Pigeon and I saw Not Chris and Grumpy off at their start since all the races (50K, 35.5K, a half and 13K) had a staggered start.
After the 35.5K and 13K left, it was time for the 50K runners to line up.
One thing to note, is that the start of this race was completely different than last year. We started and ended IN the overlook parking lot. Last year, we started down by Gate 142. This is important to note mostly as it pertains the finish … and we’ll get there I promise.
Similar to last year, the 50K runners had to run down to base of Cardiac. This year however, the route to get there was different. We were on trails a bit more than pavement, which was nice.
As we descended down, I noticed that my pace was in the low 8s. That didn’t unnerve me much because I did the same thing last year (although this year I was faster).
When we hit the base of cardiac, I first saved a runner who somehow did not see ALL the pink ribbons and was on his way towards the river. He was pretty grateful I stopped him.
The climb up Cardiac hit me like a ton of bricks. Very similar to last year and that is what I kept telling myself – which was a huge mistake and my biggest lesson this race.
I let quite a few people pass me on this section. My legs just felt heavy and my lungs not quite ready for what I was about to ask of them.
Happy to be at the top finally, I shook off any bad feelings and just kept moving.
We hit the first aid-station at Gate 142 and I ran right by. I had enough fuel in my pack that I didn’t feel the need to stop. The trail then brought us around and below the overlook and popped us out right by the horse staging area.
A girl standing on the side of the trail said, “You are in the top ten for female.” Ugh, don’t tell me that! It’s way too early for that kind of info and, to be honest, I think she clearly must have miscounted!
From this point on, the only competitor that I fought with ALL day, was the mud. The above photo doesn’t even do it justice, that section was nothing compared to what was ahead.
I ran the section down to No Hands Bridge, still not feeling like I was “in” this yet. I had stepped into a mud pile that went up to my knee and was trying desperately not to throw my back out on these slippery sections.
It felt good to finally reach No Hands Bridge and then see that it was almost completely under water.
After swimming through that puddle, we reached the aid-station. I climbed the trail towards K2 fueling as I knew what was ahead.
K2 believe it or not, seemed like it was in better condition this year than last year. Last year there was a stream running down the hill.
Normally I love K2. I do. I am a hills kinda girl, but I still wasn’t finding my mojo yet and I was beginning to get frustrated.
I kept comparing this race to last year’s race and how I felt at each point last year. BIG MISTAKE. NEVER compare yourself to other runners and NEVER compare RACES. So much can change in a year. Clearly the trail conditions were a separate competitor this year. I also have a lot more going on in my life.
However, I would not come to this realization until later in the day. I kept battling with myself that I was not doing what I thought that I was capable of doing.
Needless to say, the muddy conditions only got worse as the day wore on. I was done with dancing around mud and puddles. A lot of people were running off course to try and avoid it, only to be hit with a section where there WAS no way to avoid it. Forget it, just run straight down the middle. Simple as that.
I finally reached Knickbocker Aid-Station #1 (mile 13.4) and stopped. I grabbed some stuff and refueled and walked at the same time.
The next section took us down to the Old Auburn Damn. I ran that section pretty well, just letting it all open up.
I hit the damn hill and settled into a hike. I was beginning to feel a little bit better but again, was still comparing myself to last year.
At the top of the damn, we made our way back to the single track and I just focused on moving. I was finally beginning to feel like my old self.
The trail took us back to the Knickerbocker Aid-Station (mile 18) and I grabbed more fuel and continued on my way. My spirits were beginning to finally come around.
The section through Knickbocker Creek (um, it was more like a raging river) was awesome. The whole section of trail on the Cool side was one giant mud puddle.
There was no getting around it. You’d cross a bridge and be grateful there was a bridge only to have it “T” into a giant mud puddle that went up to your shorts anyway.
I hit the Cool Aid-Station (mile 23.4) and was eager to get moving. I knew that my favorite “roller-coaster” section was coming up and best of all, that would lead me back to the finish!
I flew down roller coaster much like I did last year. I think I was tad slower and then out of no where, I ran into some horse back riders and had to stop dead in my tracks to let them pass.
When the trail dumped me onto No Hands (mile 27.2) I knew we only had 4 miles to the finish. I fueled as I walked through the lake sitting on top of No Hands and I texted a few people telling them I was 4 miles from being done with this $hit!
I ran/walked the next section staying close to a guy who seemed to be following the same plan that I was which was: Let’s get this over with!
When we finally made the sharp left that took us down to the river, we both said, “Here we go!” Having run this last year, I KNEW what was in store. Paulo, our Race Director, makes your work HARD to get to the finish line.
I ran the down as well as I could. Then I ran and hiked some of the other sections. Then, you are hit with an uphill climb that will blow your mind.
Remember earlier when I said the new location of the finish would come into play? Moving the finish arch to the overlook added ONE MORE steep climb to finish … and believe me it was a doozy!
Luckily, I saw two little blonde girls standing there with huge smiles on their faces!
I wanted to hug them but if I stopped, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep going.
I saw the finish arch, heard some voices cheer my name and ran.
I finished! Wow, what a crazy race. I ended up running 15 minutes slower than last year and considering the conditions, I guess that wasn’t so bad. I still didn’t feel 100% like myself out there but I learned my lesson. I won’t compare races or seasons anymore. Life sometimes has other plans and I have to learn to go with the flow.
Although unofficial, I may have gotten 5th in my age group (though remember I am bad a math) – not entirely sure yet as the age division results are not up.
Once again. Single Track Running and Paulo put on a stellar event. The course was extremely well marked. The aid-stations were stocked and the volunteers amazing.
Having Vans and the girls surprise me at the finish was awesome.
The post race festivities were great as well. Massages, beer, and some awesome swag!
I am happy that I ran it. It was a great indicator of where my fitness may or may not be. I love the trails and I love that course, despite how grueling it is but that’s what makes it so special.
In the end, the sun came out, Vans gave me a hug and we waited and cheered for Pigeon to come in. Could not be a luckier girl right now.
Even though it appears that I have not been running (it might if you only follow me here on the blog), don’t worry, I have been. I just haven’t been posting much about my runs for various reasons.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking photos while I run though. I always take photos. 🙂
2017 has brought some changes in my training routine. I don’t really care to go into detail but I am training and I am focusing. I fully admit that I entered 2017 in a bit of a lull, lacking “mojo” and motivation.
However, luckily it was short lived and I have my zest for running trails back where it should be. A lot of that has to do with who I have been running with lately.
My usual partners in crime (Pigeon, Stonegate, Burning Girl) for a while were not able to run with me. They have a life and sometimes life gets in the way (fully understandable). I also have a life and my life lately has been consumed by the Peanut and Squeaker’s basketball teams.
I am the assistant coach to Squeaker’s team and they are hands down the cutest 5 and 6 year olds on the planet!
Peanut is on her own team but this is the first year either of them have ever touched a basketball, let alone play the game.
I have a long history and love affair with the sport of basketball (Vans SO does not) and so I’ve happily taken the reigns of shuttling to practices and working with the girls. I love it.
Yet because of basketball and coaching, my run days have been moved around. No big deal but it was hard to find people to run with from time to time and I am not one to go out on the Auburn/Cool trails by myself for very long (safety first).
Enter Grumpy and Not Chris ….
I work with both of these two and they both were looking to get into trail running. Not Chris is registered for the FOURmidable 30k in a few weeks. I have no doubts he will do well. Grumpy is also registered for the 13K FOURmidable race and is really putting in the work.
It has been fun running with two people who are new to trails and who are smitten by them just as much as I am.
This past weekend my worlds collided! Pigeon is back on schedule to run with me now (thanks to a new baby in her immediate family) and she met Grumpy and Not Chris for the first time (she is actually to blame for Not Chris’s nickname).
We all met in Auburn and agreed on the mileage beforehand. The route we picked was nice because even though Grumpy doesn’t need to go as far as we do, he’s able to join us on some pretty cool sections.
The weather this past weekend was amazing. I know we need more rain, but the rain has made for some pretty gnarly runs lately. I do love the sunshine especially early in the morning.
I’ve taken the boys out a few times solo but this past weekend we took them on a different loop. I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
We’re all different paces but it seems to work. We run, we meet up at any turns and we continue on. Sometimes we stick together. Sometimes I run ahead because I want to take photos! 🙂
After we got done with that loop, we took them up Stagecoach. I’ve taken them up before, but Pigeon took us a different route which led us to the famous “bench” and we forced the boys to take the obligatory “bromance bench” photo.
After the climb up Stagecoach, Grumpy left us and ran back down. He doesn’t need to rack up mileage. Not Chris, Pigeon and I continued on.
It was an awesome day. I finished feeling strong. My legs felt worked but I was smiling ear to ear. Later that afternoon, I ended up playing 90 minutes of basketball with the girls and some friends at the park! I guess I had more pep left in my legs than I thought.
So I apologize in advance for not writing much this year about running. I’ll pop in from time to time with some photos and maybe some recaps of the girls and their basketball games. Race reports are one thing I love to write about since I do go back and read what worked and didn’t work race by race, so you’ll see those for sure.
Maybe now that I have found my running mojo, I’ll find my blogging mojo. 🙂
Clearly there is something about this race that keeps me coming back year after year. Last year I “raced it” meaning I set out to try and get a specific time. Boy did THAT hurt (I PR’d but didn’t reach my race goal).
This year, I just set my sights on pacing my boss to the finish-line of his first ever marathon.
Last year when I came into work after having run CIM, my boss said, “I want to run CIM next year. I want to run a marathon before I turn 50. Do you think I could do it?” I told him he could absolutely do it so long as he trained.
So, he trained. Every so often, Boss, SS (another running coworker) and I would run mid-week on our lunch hour. SS and I would give him some pointers or tips. Tell him stories of our first marathon etc. Boss would listen, take our advice and continue training.
Finally race morning arrived and I could feel his excitement. Sometimes you forget your first marathon and just how excited, nervous, anxious, freaked-out you are.
We made our way to the start line. I vowed to stick with him the whole race as I had no goals or objectives. I was out there to see him finish.
SS left us to go find a spot higher up in a faster group. We situated ourselves with the 4:00 hour pace group. I knew deep down Boss would love a four hour (even a sub four hour) finish time. I was okay with that, albeit a bit nervous having not run much on pavement these last few months.
The gun went off and we took off at a respectable pace. We stayed right where we were supposed to be for a 4 hour finish. Then, we started speeding up.
Miles 3 through 8 were faster than I thought we should be doing but Boss kept saying he felt good. We were slightly ahead of the 4 hour pace group.
Miles 9 and 10 we were right back down where we should have been.
Mile 11 included a pit-stop at the porta-potties. We didn’t take too long but it was long enough to have the 4:00 hour and 4:08 hour pace groups pass.
I could sense a little disappointment from Boss. He even asked if I was going to try and “catch” them. I told him if he wanted to we could try or we could just run and see what happens. The latter is exactly what we did.
Miles 12 through 14 we were back to our usual pace.
Around mile 14.5 I asked him if he took that gel he grabbed a while back and he said that he had taken 2/3rds of it. Uh-oh. I could feel his energy depleting. He had stopped talking and joking with me too.
I handed him some jelly beans. At first he refused but then he ate them. He seemed to gain some energy after that, enough to be more talkative.
Miles 15 – 18 he slowed significantly. He would no longer run along side of me, he’d run behind me. We would often walk a bit. I gave him a gluten free peanut butter and jelly bar to have as well, hoping that he wasn’t too far in the hole to bounce back.
Prior to this he had been urging me to go on without him but I refused. To appease him, I told him that I’d get him to mile 20 and then we’d reassess and if he still wanted me to leave him, I would.
Mile 18.6 he pulled to the side and told me to go. He said he really wanted me to go on without him. He promised he wouldn’t quit. I handed him all the fuel I had left on me and I made him swear that he would eat all of it.
I left him. I felt badly doing so but sometimes I can understand wanting to be alone, in your own misery to get yourself out of it.
I surged on. I knew my family was at mile 20.
My pace quickened, Mile 20 was 8:19 (super excited to see my family!). I hugged my girls and Vans and kept moving.
Mile 21- 8:45/mi
Mile 22 – 8:51/mi
Mile 23 – 8:41/mi
Mile 24 – 9:00/mi (the sharp turns from J Street to Alhambra then again to L Street)
Mile 25 – 8:56/mi
Mile 26 – 8:53/mi
I was doing my best to push and try to catch the 4 hour group but my body was not having it. It would give me a few good strides and then would feel as if I was running in quicksand. I had no fuel left and I ran out of water between miles 24 and 25 but refused to stop.
I was super happy to see the finish. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 6 minutes. I just could never quite catch that 4 hour pace group. 🙂
Once I finished I found my family and went in search of SS. We then heard from Boss that he was at mile 25 and walking in. Finally we saw him!
He seemed happy to see us because he started running so we joined him.
We made the sharp left turn towards the finish shoots and SS and I peeled off screaming Boss’s name the whole way! He had done it! He finished! His time was 4 hours and 50 minutes.
I am super proud of him. He followed through in his goal. He said he has a whole new appreciation for running and the distance. He doesn’t think he’ll sign up for another anytime soon but he’s super excited to have completed his very first marathon!
And I feel honored to have been there to witness it. Like I have been telling my coworkers all day, he put in all the work, I just tried to keep his mind off all the pain. 🙂
What started out as a joke on Facebook before our road trip a few weeks ago (you can read about that adventure here), got me thinking about the people I run with and who honestly, I spend most of my happy time with (besides my own family).
I feel very lucky to have the set of friends that I do. Friends who do crazy things and who enjoy Mother Nature and getting muddy just as much as me.
If you read my posts, you know who these usual suspects are in my life. Pigeon, Stonegate and Burning Girl are the most frequent. Occasionally we are lucky enough to run with Miss P and Pearls.
I also run with a dear friend, TiggerT. She doesn’t run ultras but when we do run, we usually laugh, a lot. She is my California International Marathon buddy and my “road-running” friend.
But more importantly, she and Stonegate, Burning Girl and Pigeon are my friends. My wolf-pack. They are the ones I know will support me in a race and in life.
Truth be told, before I ran trails, I ran alone. A lot. I used to read Kristin Armstrong’s blog Mile Markers on Runner’s World and would be so envious of the stories she’d write about – meeting her friends for a morning workout or a long training run – laughing and sharing their life’s problems with each other. I wanted that.
Well now, I have it but 100 times better.
My wolf-pack doesn’t run together every day or every weekend, but we are connected. The trails may have brought us together but it isn’t what keeps us strong.
My wolf-pack keeps me sane. They keep me on my toes. They are resources for things I know nothing about. They build you up and remind you, that you are worth it and that you deserve the best. They are shoulders to cry on when life gets hard and they remind you when you may be making the same mistake twice.
They give you hugs when you need them and they make you laugh.
I adore my wolf-pack and while it seems stereotypical to “give thanks” this time of year, that is exactly what I want to do.
Thank you ladies for all that you do. Thank you for being a little bit crazy and a lot-a-bit fun. Thank you for being adventure seekers and thank you for supporting my often crazy ideas. Thank you for the hugs, the laughter and the tears. Thank you for listening. Thank you, for being you … my wolf-pack, our wolf-pack.