Tag Archives: American River 50 Mile

2014 AMERICAN RIVER 50 MILE RACE REPORT

I don’t even know where to being with this race report. Much like my 2010 AR50 Race Report this will be lengthy and full of photos so grab a nice cup of tea and settle in.

To begin this story, I have to go back to Tuesday evening when I saw Dr. Lau at Elite Spinal & Sports Care for my usual pre-race tune up. I felt great upon leaving and was finally getting excited about the race ahead. Fast forward to Wednesday morning when I woke up to screaming lower back pain. I could barely put weight on my right leg let alone bend over. I emailed Dr. Lau and he gave me some “homework” to do over the next two days with instructions to call him if I am not ‘tip top’ by Friday morning.

Friday morning I woke up to significantly less pain but still a mild soreness that seemed to inhibit certain movements. I emailed Dr. Lau and received a phone call almost instantly. He had arranged for me to come in early that afternoon.

When I left his office and headed to packet pick up, I felt quite a bit better and had a lot more mobility in my back and right leg. Packet pick up really got my energy up. The blood was flowing and I finally had my bib in hand … it was game on now.

My official race number
My official race number

The race schwag has GREATLY improved since 2010. Since then Patagonia has become a major sponsor of the race which means a much nicer race shirt.

Race Schwag
Race Schwag

When Squeaker and I arrived home from packet pickup, Vans and the Peanut were not home yet. I quickly got to work on boiling some red potatoes as I wanted to pack them into baggies with salt to have as some additional fuel along the course.

The minute Vans and Peanut arrived home I got busy cooking dinner as we had to race to a nearby soccer field for the Peanut’s first soccer practice. It was a beautiful (but chilly) evening.

A sweet soccer field huh?
A sweet soccer field huh?

I was on my feet a lot and the practice did not end until after 7 pm. By the time we got home and I was in bed it was well after 8 pm which is okay as I kind of tossed and turned a bit anyway. The race nerves were building.

When my alarm went off at 4 am I jumped out of bed.  I took a quick assessment of my body and I noticed my back pain was still lingering a bit but not unbearable. I dressed, threw my hair into ponytail and headed out to the kitchen.

My pre-race fueling has changed quite a bit. I no longer need 2 hours to consume a bowl of oatmeal before my race which is kind of nice as it allows for a little more sleeping time. I did take 2 tylenol because I remembered that I had done that in 2010 and with my lingering pain I figured it might not be a bad idea.

Since I had packed my bags the night before, I was ready to go in a short amount of time. Pigeon and Missouri were coming to pick me up at 4:40 am. I had to load their car with what I needed at Beals Point (mile 24.31) as that would be my own personal aid-station.

Um yup, that's my aid-station
Um yup, that’s my aid-station

This year I didn’t have a major crew like I had in 2010. I had more support than I thought I did though going into the race, which turned out to be a really nice surprise along the way as you will see. Before I left the house I had packed our car with my post-race bag, the lawn chairs we’d need and provided a list to Vans of what to bring in terms of my post-race fuel that I had sitting ready to go in the fridge. Pretty organized if I do say so myself.

Pigeon and Missouri arrived and we were off …. driving the whole one mile to the starting line. 🙂

The American River 50 Mile race decided to change its course this year. When I ran it in 2010 it started down in Sacramento by Sac State, which was one mile from my house. That year, Miss P and I ran the 1 mile to the start. One of the main reasons for me wanting to try the race again this year is the fact that they changed the starting location to El Dorado Hills, just one mile from my new home. I figured it was fate that this race keeps following me so I had to give it a shot. 🙂

We arrived about an hour before race start. Pigeon and I quickly made use of the portable bathrooms (a few times actually) and I also ate my pre-race fuel. Soon, it was time to line up at the starting line!

Ready to go ... in the dark.
Ready to go … in the dark.

The race was so large this year (over 1,000 runners) that the race directors had us start in two waves. Pigeon and I were in wave 1 which started at 6:00 am (wave 2 started at 6:15). It was pretty dark at the start and Pigeon had a handheld light and I had one of my knuckle lights.

Here we go!
Here we go!

As usual, there isn’t too much hoopla at the race start. They generally start on time and when the horn blows, we all sort of start off in a shuffle. Everyone had some kind of light so we really didn’t need our lights all that much but it was helpful in spots.

The start takes us up the long paved drive of Browns Marina, which was about a mile long I would guess until we hit the trail. I say “I guess” because this year, this race, I decided NOT to wear my Garmin. This felt extremely weird to me but also freeing at times. Instead, I wore just a regular stopwatch. My reason for not wearing a Garmin is that basically it would have died about half way through the race as the battery doesn’t last a long time. With a stopwatch I could at least gauge my time but not my distance. Definitely a different experience for me.

We hit the trails of Browns Ravine which Pigeon and I have run quite a few times throughout our training. This is my turf. My territory so I was just cruising along behind a bunch of runners. All of a sudden I feel as if I am leading a small train of people. I just kept running, hiking up some of the steeper climbs. Occasionally I would try and look behind me to see if Pigeon was still on my tail. Sometimes she was and sometimes she wasn’t and then I heard it…turkeys. Gobble gobble gobble off to my left. I called out for Pigeon but she wasn’t close enough to me yet to hear me. When she did get close I asked, “did you hear that?! Turkeys!” and she simply replied, “You’ll be fine. They are far away.”

Finally we popped out of the trail and onto the levee. The day was gorgeous, the views of Folsom Lake as the sun was rising behind us was just breath taking. Pigeon came up along side of me and tells me that I just blew through that last section pretty fast. “You do realize you are running 50 miles right?” Ha! I told her it’s my spot, I am used to running that section quickly but I am smart and we settled into a nice pace along the levee looking out at Folsom Lake.

We were both looking forward to getting to the first aid-station at mile 5 which was the Fleet Feet Aid-Station at Folsom Point. Here we could both hand off our lights and my arm warmers. I told Pigeon that I had to use the bathroom but that it wasn’t quite urgent yet. Folsom Point has real bathrooms but the lines were long so I opted to keep going knowing Pigeon doesn’t like to slow down.

We left Folsom Point and hit the pavement running over Folsom Lake Crossing.

Starting the pavement fun!
Starting the pavement fun!

Pigeon and I had run this same section a few weeks earlier. As annoying as it was running past all the cars on the crossing, the views to our right were pretty spectacular.

Good morning!
Good morning!

We followed the bike path down until it connected with the portion that takes you under the road and down towards Folsom. This stretch of the race we would see again when running back towards Beals Point except at that time, it will be UP hill and not down.

Pigeon and I just cruised along. I didn’t have my music in yet as I was just totally soaking up the race, the views and the moment. I noticed that my left knee was achy and my back was still a little sore, but I just decided to let it go.

We ran over the foot bridge in Folsom and then hopped onto a section of trails I had never been on before. Pigeon and I knew that our last aid-station was mile 5 and that our next one was not until Willow Creek at mile 12.77. That’s quite a distance between aid-stations. Not that we needed much but we noticed that there were plenty of convenient places where there could have been an aid-station.

Pigeon started getting quiet on me. She’s not a talker to begin with when running but generally she stays near my side and we’ll talk occasionally. We were barely two hours into the run and she was backing off which isn’t like her so I knew something was up. She mentioned something about her Perpeteum drink mix and that her gels were stuck together in her pack because her baggie of drink mix was open and had spilled.

I put in my headphones and started listening to the music. I can listen to music and run when I am on a paved section like a bike trail (which is kind of boring). I had a great string of songs come through my shuffle that really had me getting excited and even singing (sorry other runners).

How can I not be happy!?
How can I not be happy!?

Finally I knew that we were quickly approaching Willow Creek (almost 2 hours into our run). I turned to Pigeon and told her that I was planning to use the bathroom at the aid-station and knowing that she doesn’t like to slow down or wait much in races, I told her that I was going to sprint ahead so she would not have to wait but I did say “wait for me!” It was too early for me be running solo.

So I sprinted. Yup, I just started booking it towards the aid-station over the bridge down the trail. The Willow Creek aid-station was the Bufffalo Chips aid-station (my old running group) but I was too focused on getting to the bathrooms so Pigeon wouldn’t have to wait that I just bypassed everything. The bathrooms were far from the aid-station.

When I came out I saw Pigeon standing by the trail. I am not sure how long she waited but as soon as she saw me, we started running again. I didn’t get any water at that aid-station or fuel. Luckily in addition to the two 10 ounces bottles on the front of my pack, I have a hydration bladder in the back that had about a liter of water in it which was great because after Willow Creek, the next aid-station (Main Bar) was not until mile 16.98 which was still about 4.21 miles away and it was getting warm and my bottles were empty.

Sunny and smiling!
Sunny and smiling!

We finally reached the CSUS Acquatic Center and crossed over Hazel Bridge. I was feeling great at this point. I couldn’t wait to get to the bluffs at Hazel and see the views. However, in 2010 there used to be an aid-station at this spot but apparently they moved it a few years ago to Main Bar. I was really looking forward to getting some water here and taking off my shoes as they had boulders pebbles in them while Pigeon used a bathroom.

But nope, no aid, no water. I did take off my shoe though. Pigeon told me she wasn’t feeling well. She needed to find a spot to go to the bathroom. She was also dry heaving at this point as well.

We had just crossed that bridge!
We had just crossed that bridge!

I felt bad for her but I was loving the day so far. The weather was perfect, the views were gorgeous and we were FINALLY on our way headed back towards Beals Point on our way toward Auburn.

Climbing up the bluffs!
Climbing up the bluffs!

There is just something that turns on mentally in your head when you know you are running towards the direction that will take you home instead of away.

Head down the other side of the bluffs!
Headed down the other side of the bluffs!

Pigeon told me she needed to stop and I told her that I’d walk a bit and wait. She ducked off onto a side trail (got a surprise from a mountain biker too) while I waited. When she came out she looked better. Not great, but better.

We continued running the bike trail until it was time to duck off onto the trails again after the Main Bar Aid-Station where I filled up my bottles. The volunteers were rocking out to some 80s music which got me excited.

Then it was back up to the bluffs again. Once again, Pigeon was not looking great. She was dry heaving occasionally and told me that she wanted to dump her Perpetuem mix and start drinking coke. We were only 17 or so miles into the race. I tried to offer her the idea of dumping her mix and drinking water and having real food first before resorting to cola. My only concern is that it was getting quite warm and cola will dehydrate you. She wanted easy liquid calories and I wanted to preserve whatever hydration she had left. With all the dry heaving and pit-stops she was quickly losing electrolytes. Cola would only hurt that, not help.

Pigeon was not feeling the love yet.
Pigeon was not feeling the love yet.

As we got off the dirt trails and back onto the pavement, Pigeon told me she had to make another stop. I walked a bit then ran as I heard the Negro Bar aid-station up ahead (mile 20.18). I knew that Diane from Breakout Fitness would be there and I was really itching to see a familiar face and smile.

Yup, a smiling face!
Yup, a smiling face!

It was great to talk with her and chat a bit. I told her that the last two miles I had a side stitch and it was slowing me down but just stopping there for a bit, the pain went away. Diane asked me where Pigeon was and I told her she was having a tough time and was behind me. I told her that I would wait there until she came into the aid-station. I chatted with a few other of the Folsom Lake Trail Runners until I saw Pigeon making her way in. I ran to her and grabbed her bottle from her. I told her that I was going to dump it, rinse it and fill it with cola like she wanted.

This is a big aid-station and it was very busy so I just hopped behind the table and started filling her bottle up with a 2 liter of coke that I had found sitting there. The guy behind the table kind of looked at me funny as no one is supposed to have pacers this early and I clearly looked like a pacer or crew person helping their runner.

Soon we were off and headed to Beals Point (mile 24.31). In previous races, Beals is typically the half way point but with the new course, it was only 24 miles or so. I didn’t care. I knew that Missouri would be there as well as TiggerT!!!! I needed some familiar faces and smiles and the energy at Beals is pretty exciting too.

Pigeon was doing okay. She was running but she still wasn’t feeling great. She told me to run ahead as we both knew we were approaching Beals. I love to run up the hill to Beals. Most of the runners walk it but I like to run it as the adrenaline of just coming into that aid-station is enough to propel me.

I crested the hill at Beals saw the balloon arches and heard my name being called over the PA system. I saw a group of friends including Miss P cheering me on. Then I saw Missouri waving me over to where she had set up some chairs and my little aid-station.

I told her that Pigeon was having some issues and would need some help when she came in. I quickly sat and changed my socks, refilled my bottles and got to town eating my potatoes. I also took off my shuffle and music. Soon TiggerT arrived and I handed her my camera. 🙂

Chugging some water
Chugging some water

Pigeon had arranged to have Killer Kuni be her pacer from Beals Point to the finish. Kuni is an ultra running phenom and is actually running the Hard Rock 100 miler in a two weeks. Kuni was on my original ultra team back in 2010. He is just the nicest guy and his wife Dasie is one of the nicest people in the ultra running community. They know how to crew a runner especially one that needs some help.

Pigeon and her crew!
Pigeon and her crew!
Getting myself ready to head back out.
Getting myself ready to head back out.

When Pigeon was ready to go, the three of us (Pigeon, Kuni and myself) headed off towards the trail. At the last minute, Pigeon said she needed to use the bathroom again. I looked at Kuni and told him that I’d go on ahead and would see them when they caught up.

This section of the trail is a little different than it was in 2010. We ran on the levee towards Cavitt and then dipped onto the trails. I was still solo at this point. I had walked a little on the levee looking back behind me waiting for Pigeon and Kuni to reach me but they never came.

I did have some thoughts that perhaps something had happened to Pigeon when she was in the bathroom. What if she dropped? I was worried about her and her current state but I knew she was tough. I also knew with me being ahead of her that it would fuel her desire to not give up.

I ran Cavitt like I always do. Running the downs and running some of the up hills. Normally I can run these up hills with no problems but the legs were feeling a little bit tired but I had passed the half way point.

Mr. Tutu Man on Cavitt
Mr. Tutu Man on Cavitt

While I was leisurely running along waiting for Pigeon to catch up, I took some photos and sort of assessed how I was feeling.

My aches and pains were mostly in my feet and knees but nothing too terrible. My stomach felt fine which surprised me as I am usually the one with tummy troubles. I kept using my watch as my guide and taking a salt tab almost every hour depending on how I was hydrating and feeling at the time.

Folsom Lake
Folsom Lake

The temps were definitely rising especially on Cavitt which is a mostly exposed fire road. This concerned me as Pigeon and the heat don’t mix and if she wasn’t feeling well already …. I was worried the heat would get to her.

I just kept running passing a few people here and there. There was also a triathlon going on at the same time which really made things interesting as you were trying to navigate the trail with mountain bikers and other runners coming at you at various times.

I started to feel a little low on fuel here. I had just eaten at Beals but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was slowly getting a little more tired than I should be at this point. I just kept going though. I hopped on the tail of a couple of girls, one of whom was the pacer. She was yelling at her runner to drink and to eat. I was kind of laughing and even told the runner she had a kick butt pacer for taking care of her.

All of a sudden I hear, “Hey Hey Hey!” Low and behold it was Pigeon and Kuni and they were running like they stole something! She had come back to life!!! I quickly hopped on their tail passing the girls in front of us.

We continued passing runner after runner. I called out to Kuni “What did you do to her? And can you do it to me?!” Pigeon was back and she was on fire.

We were approaching Granite Bay Aid-Station (29.45) and we saw Missouri and TiggerT. They asked us if we needed anything and we said no. I really wanted the real aid-station table to fill up and see what they had but out of the corner of my eye I spotted Vans!!! He surprised me by being at the aid station!

Look at my wing span!
Look at my wing span!

I was so happy to see him. Squeaker was asleep in the car near by and the Peanut was at a birthday party for the time being. It really made my day to see his face and I think he was surprised as to how good I looked and felt.

Checking out the aid-station
Checking out the aid-station

We chatted for a bit and then he goes, “What is in your ear?” I touched my ear and sure enough, I had removed my headphones at Beals but my Yurbud was still stuck in my ear! I had been running the entire time with this big blue rubber thing sticking out of my ear. You can see it in the above photo. Trailmomma dork!

Nice GCRS shirt!
Nice GCRS shirt!

But soon it was time to say goodbye to Vans. He was going to try and make it to the Rattlesnake aid-station. I was worried he wouldn’t get any parking there. Yes, these are the things I worry about when running.

Bye Bye Granite Bay Aid-Station
Bye Bye Granite Bay Aid-Station

So off we went, with Pigeon leading our train followed by Kuni and myself taking up the caboose. Their pace was pretty fast and I told Kuni that. He agreed that she was really running fast at this point. I knew I would not be able to keep up for another 20 miles but I hung on as best I could.

Pigeon was still drinking the coke she had in her bottle and seemed to be fueling on gels. Kuni would help out from time to time and was pretty aware of what she needed. At one point, about 6 hours and 20 minutes into our run we passed a few runners and one girl called out as I passed “I read your blog! Thank you!” That TOTALLY made my day. Thank you to that runner who reads my blog! I wish I had gotten your name!!

This section through Granite Bay was new to the course this year. It involved some gnarly trails that went up and down and once again, we dodged a few mountain bikers coming along the trail head on. There were also lots of conga lines through this section. Pigeon would find an opening and jet through it with the two of us hot on her tail.

I was feeling okay but I was worried it was too fast too soon, at least for me. I was having a hard time keeping up with them as I kept getting stuck behind a line of runners and then would have to sprint to keep up. I scolded myself for playing such a game. What did it matter? I didn’t need to kill myself trying to keep up with them but I wanted to. I was afraid that if Pigeon got too far ahead that when she got to Rattlesnake, Missouri would have her in and out and then TiggerT would be left there waiting for me but my personal little aid-station would be with Missouri which really didn’t matter since it was a full aid-station anyway. I think mentally I was starting to break just a little at this point. Which I quickly realized since most of the day I had been pretty happy. I checked myself and called in my secret weapon.

You see, on my right wrist I wore my RockOn Dylan Flinchum Foundation green bracelet. I wore it for specifically for moments like this. Dylan and his family are close to my heart. I grew up with Dylan’s dad and his brother is one of my very best friends. Dylan can’t run and will never run 50 miles but he is one strong amazingly tough little 5 year old. I looked at my wrist and I instantly had more strength. Just thinking about Dylan lifted my spirits and kept me moving. I never touched that dark place again. One foot in front of the other was all I needed, nothing else mattered.

Buzzards Cove aid-station (34.67) is an express aid-station meaning they only have water, soda and ice cream. Yes, ice cream. I had finally caught up to Pigeon and Kuni at this point and Kuni was enjoying some of the ice cream. Around the 7 hour mark I finally took 2 Advil. I was hoping it would help minimize some of the aches I was feeling and give me more power to keep up.

It was at this point that I started missing my Garmin. The signs at each aid-station told you what the mileage was to the next aid-station but I’d always forget. I knew that if I could get to the Rattlesnake aid-station and pick up TiggerT my pacer for the last 10 miles, I’d feel better, less pressure.

However, somewhere around mile 37 I am guessing, in an effort to stick with Kuni and Pigeon yet again as they passed a sea of runners, I tripped and somersaulted down the trail. The runner in front of me must have heard the thud as he ran back in a panic and tried to help me up (since I was upside down). I thanked him and then basically laughed at myself. If that wasn’t a sign that my legs were pretty tired, I don’t know what was!

I decided to let Pigeon and Kuni go. I hoped that I would catch them at the Horseshoe Bar aid-station (38.14) and catch them I did! The two of them looked like two kids in a candy store playing with a bucket of water and some sponges! When I crested the hill into the aid-station, Pigeon called out “Trailmomma come cool off!” I yelled back, “I fell!” and then they saw the blood streaks running down my leg. Pigeoned tried to rinse off my cut while Kuni squeezed a nice ice cold sponge over my neck and back. Wow, that will wake you up!

Off we went again. I didn’t really have time to grab much at the aid-station and I think these too brief stops are what killed me later on. As we left the aid-station and ran down the hill, my right knee (the one I had cut) gave out a little and proceeded to ache. Great. Hopefully that Advil I took will kick in soon.

Once again I lost Pigeon and Kuni and was running by myself. No other runners were near me. I would occasionally see one or two through the trees or I would catch glimpses of Pigeon and Kuni’s yellow shirts but I let them go. I was on my way to the Rattlesnake aid-station and I knew I would see Vans and TiggerT.

Entering Rattlesnake
Entering Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake Bar aid-station (40.94) had also changed since I last remember and even from last year because I had paced Pigeon from here to the finish. The race directors had us running down this hill with oncoming runners leaving the aid-station going up. It was rather annoying actually because the trail was not easy to descend (especially with a bum knee) and the runners coming up were just as tired. It was also sort of a bummer to realize that I would have to climb up that hill in a few minutes too.

Pigeon and Kuni were just finishing up at the aid-station when I arrived. They were off and running again. I chatted with Vans a bit and Squeaker was awake finally!

Waiting for mommy to come through!
Waiting for mommy to come through!

She was a little upset because I wouldn’t let her hug me. The poison oak along the trail was out in full force. We were running through bushes of it at times trying to side step branches that reached all the way across the trail.

Daise and Missouri helping me out
Daise and Missouri helping me out

With Pigeon and Kuni already gone, I had Dasie and Missouri all to myself! 🙂 Missouri asked if she could do anything and I asked her to fill my water bottles (aka jugs) with the water that I had in my cooler (it was electrolyte water). She did and with my hands full of food, Missouri had to put my jugs back in my vest for me. 🙂 We have a running joke here about my “jugs” and so this just had us both laughing out loud. What I forgot to tell Missouri later on though is that she never CLOSED my jugs so when I started running they started squirting up into my face. I laughed so hard. Humor is such a great relief.

Checking my watch
Checking my watch

At this point I realized I was close on time if I wanted to try and break my 2010 time for this race. I looked at TiggerT and said “I no longer care about my time. I just want to get it done and stay happy.” I saw lots of other running friends at this aid-station too which was a real spirit lifter. I always knew that if I could make it to this aid-station, that I would finish but I also didn’t want to be out there too long either.

Time for my pacer!
Time for my pacer!

Having TiggerT with me was so nice. I had pretty much been running by myself after I had lost Kuni and Pigeon on the trail. Just having someone to talk to when running can take your mind off of things. I handed TiggerT my camera and told her to go to town and boy did she ever! The photos from here on out are courtesy of TiggerT!

The last 10 miles are pretty but tough.
The last 10 miles are very pretty but tough.

I jumped on the train of a runner and his pacer. The pacer was talking nonstop which kind of bugged me but I sort of just kept running. He asked if I wanted to pass and I said no. I wanted to but I didn’t know if I had the strength to keep going without having them pass me again later.

You can see my line of runners ahead.
You can see my line of runners ahead.

TiggerT asked how I felt and what was hurting. I told her my knee was really hurting me but mostly on the down hills and even then it wasn’t constant. It felt like a tired out old IT Band issue which I have dealt with before.

Finally, I did end up passing the boys and I just took off. I had some pent-up energy I guess so I started running. I wanted to be done. In hind sight, I should have passed them earlier on. Oh well.

So pretty!
So pretty!

Finally TiggerT and I reached Dowdin’s Post aid-station (43.93) which I had completely forgotten existed until TiggerT told me there was one aid before we reached Last Gasp (47.56).

At each of the aid-stations the volunteers place funny signs leading you to the aid-station. Usually I read them and most of them I have heard before like: “May the Course be with You” and “Blisters are Battle Scars” etc. But we passed one sign that literally had me laugh out loud! It read, “This seemed like a good idea … last month.” Oh boy was that so true! 🙂 I love these little pick me ups.

TiggerT made me pose
TiggerT made me pose

What was really neat was the fact that TiggerT had not been on some of these trails before so these sights were all new to her. She also has never paced someone at an ultra before. She has been to an aid-station and seen her crazy-ultra friends come through, but she’s never fully participated in one quite the way she did during AR50. I enjoyed seeing her face take in some of the sights and sounds.

From Dowdin’s aid-station to Last Gasp it was only 3.64 miles. The one thing I recall during those last 3.5 miles most were butterflies! I don’t know exactly what kind of butterflies they were but they were black and they were huge! They would just buzz right by your head or in front of your feet! Once again, I thought of Dylan. The rare disease that he has and the foundation looking for a cure, has a logo of a butterfly. Once again, Dylan’s strength propelled me.

Just me and the boys climbing out of the trail!
Just me and the boys climbing out of the trail!

Before you get to Last Gasp aid-station (47.56) you have to climb this steep gravel road (above photo). Just a few weeks ago, Pigeon and I ran this section but it had been wet from rain. Now it was loose and annoying.

Annoying and steep, did I mention steep?
Annoying and steep, did I mention steep?
The infamous sign! 3 miles to go 47 done!
The infamous sign! 3 miles to go 47 done!

I had to warn TiggerT about the Last Gasp aid-station. It is run by a bunch of boys … who are typically shirtless. I happen to enjoy this aid-station quite a bit but this year the boys were wearing tights! TiggerT LOVED this and of course had to take photos. 🙂

Check him out!
Check him out!

I had to laugh at her. She was out of water but was too busy taking photos to fill up first.

Okay so I stopped to get one more look at the tights.
Okay so I stopped to get one more look at the tights too.

I am glad she remembered to fill up her water bottles before we started off up the hill again.

Time to run, see Pigeon, I DID run some of it!
Time to run, see Pigeon, I DID run some of it!

TiggerT was great. She was taking photos and chatting with me. She never pushed. I would say “let’s run to that sign” and we would. My back was really starting to hurt with the incline of the hill but I kept going.

TiggerT realized on this section that my knee was still a little bloody from my fall and she made me stop so she could get a photo. Stop? Okay, fine by me!

Sexy knees
Sexy knees

Boy was I glad that I had TiggerT with me on this hill. One foot in front of the other I just kept hiking and running when I could.

Pretty views
Pretty views

Finally, we saw the last mile maker. One mile to go. One mile until I could see my family. I wanted to run so bad. I wanted to run hard but my legs were not connected to my brain at this point.

Only one mile to go!!!!
Only one mile to go!!!!

And then I saw the giant frog. Yes, frog. I don’t recall him being here in 2010 or even last year, but boy was I glad to see him!

Frog!!!
Frog!!!

Mr. Frog was pointing to the turn where I would reach the tiny hill of death. This little tiny hill just about killed me in 2010 and when I ran it a few weeks ago with Pigeon, I pushed hard to run the entire thing. This year I ran about 3/4 of the way up pushing hard.

When I crested the hill the fans were all cheering. I knew all I had to do was run one tiny little hill to the parking, NOT trip over the curb as I ran onto grass and then just run the perimeter of the overlook until I got to the finish line.

I told TiggerT she should run on the outside of the cones, through the parking lot and that I’d see her at the finish line! I knew that a PR was out of the question but still I sprinted my way around the side-walk running through the arch as they called out my name.

I did it! I finished!!!
I did it! I finished!!!

10 hours and 33 minutes was my time. In 2010, on a different course, I ran it in 10 hours and 26 minutes. As Pigeon pointed out to me later, it is technically a new PR since it was a new course. I’ll take that reasoning. 🙂 I also realized that I used up quite a bit of time in the first half of the race where as if I had not stopped, I may have been a bit closer. It doesn’t really matter. I am just happy I finished!

When I crossed the finish line Diane was right there smiling and soon after Vans, the girls and TiggerT were there too!

My family!
My family!

I felt pretty good. Of course I was sore and walking kind of funny but I was so happy. I have always wanted to run this race again just to prove to myself that I could. Not sure I’ll do it again any time soon, as I really enjoy the 50K distance but I guess I can never say never huh? Vans knows something else is always up my sleeve.

I want to thank TiggerT for getting me up the hill and through those last 10 miles. We’ve run a lot together over the years always making each other laugh.

TiggerT my pacer!
TiggerT my pacer!

I want to thank Missouri and Pigeon for their continued support both on and off the trails. I could not have done this race without your help.

Pigeon, Missouri, TiggerT and I retelling trail stories (wearing my Dylan shirt post race).
Pigeon, Missouri, TiggerT and I retelling trail stories (wearing my Dylan shirt post race).

Thank you to Kuni and Dasie as well for your support throughout the race. I always say, some of the nicest people in the world are trail runners.

Thank you to my two beautiful girls who I love more than anything in this world. I know you don’t understand now, but I hope some day you will and maybe you’ll be proud of your crazy Trailmomma. Thanks to Vans, my love for always allowing me to do these crazy things and for being my rock.

My loves
My loves

My girls and Vans make me laugh and they support me through these crazy things. I am very lucky.

Someone else fell too.
Someone else fell too.

Now two days later, I am happy to say I feel pretty good. The sore muscles are almost gone and the only problem that remains is my lower back pain. I am planning to rest up a bit more, stretch and do what I can to minimize the pain because there are more trail adventures ahead for the Trailmomma family! So stay tuned!

Cheers!
Cheers!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

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THE FINAL COUNT DOWN

Why hello 1986
Why hello 1986

(Photo Credit)

Okay, not THAT final countdown but man, what a great song. The perfect pre-race song actually and quite fitting since this is the final week before the American River 50 Mile race.

Of course I have a lot of other things going on this week at work, with the family but AR50 has been in the back of my mind for the last two weeks of my taper. Never quite in the forefront but definitely there lingering, playing around in my head.

I haven’t felt much like blogging this past week (as you can tell) but a lot has happened throughout the week. Vans had his big Gold County Fondo (68 miles) riding with George Hincapie!

Prerace
Prerace

The ride was pretty ideal as it started and ended in Towne Center which is super close to our house. George was there too signing autographs and riding along with the other riders. The only problem was the weather. The above photo was taken before the monsoon started. Poor Vans, he spent 4 out of his 5 hours riding in a torrential down pour soaked straight through to the core.

The "ultra" couple
The “ultra” couple

He finished though! The girls and I joined forces with TiggerT and followed Vans around before we headed to the mile 45 aid-station to lend a hand. Vans surprised us by being way faster than he predicted (especially in that weather) and so we didn’t stay too long volunteering as we had to get to the finish.

After he finished the race, I had to race to get the Peanut to her friend’s birthday party. Not only was she attending the birthday party, she was going to sleep over their house! This friend (along with another) has been the Peanut’s best friend since she was 3 months old. To see them still the best of friends, is just amazing especially since all three attend different kindergartens.

The Three Amigos
The Three Amigos

So without the Peanut at home it was just Vans, Squeaker and myself. It has been quite a while since we’ve experience what it was like to have ONE KID … wow, seems “easier” in a sense but we all missed the Peanut. Squeaker got a nice night to herself complete with a cupcake, Frozen and some mommy cuddles.

I woke up on Sunday ready to meet Pigeon for our final run together before AR50. Normally we run on Saturdays but Van’s race had us bumped to Sunday. Pigeon agreed to meet me early enough that we could get our run in and I could still be home to get ready for work at Gold Country Run and Sport.

We met at the Auburn Dam Overlook and we ran down the hill for a ways and then turned around and ran back up. I wanted another glimpse of the final hill. I ran it last year with Pigeon when she did AR50 and I paced the last 8 miles with her.

I know this hill. I remember this hill. This hill is brutal. It is a 3 mile climb that could really play with your head on the last 3 miles of a 50 mile race.

So beautiful
So beautiful

It was gorgeous out though. Absolutely breath-taking at 7:30 am in the morning. The views will be quite different come Saturday but the hill is the same and the point of seeing this hill is to get it in our heads that we can conquer it and know where the runable parts are and where we should conserve some energy.

Going down and down
Going down and down

We ran, we talked, we discussed AR50 and Tahoe Rim Trail. I haven’t run with Pigeon in two weeks so it was nice to see her and sort of feel that familiarity of running together again. Last weekend I ran 16 by myself on the road portion of AR50 and not only was it lonely, it was sort of eye-opening as to where the course will take us and where aid-stations will be situated.

This run however, reset my mind. Just running again with Pigeon, eased my thoughts, my worries and even some of my aches and pains. The problem with taper weeks is that you are forced to run low mileage which your body so desperately needs before a big race. Yet this can play games with your mind. You start to feel aches and pains or the “hint” of a cold coming on because you are worried about the race ahead.

The turn around
The turn around

Pigeon tried coaching me along on the way back as we were making our way up dam hill. She pointed out where I should run and what sections were more for hiking. I appreciate her advice. It has been four years since I have had to think about “racing” up this hill but in my own head, I know that in making it to this point alone, I have succeeded.

I am not out to break records. I don’t want to beat anyone. If I get a personal record, that’s a bonus in my book. So if I don’t want any of that, what DO I want? I think about that often on our runs sometimes. Pigeon is goal orientated. Pigeon is competitive and so was I back in the day. I am not sure what happened. Maybe it is the fact that I have kids now and I am too afraid to push, too afraid to not be able to be there for my kids post race. That’s on me and that’s ok. For me, completing this is all that matters. Finishing and finishing with a smile on my face is an added bonus. I did that in 2010 which is what makes this time a little more scary. How can I have another almost perfect race? The odds are not in my favor. I am older, I am wiser and more importantly I know what to expect. This time around, I won’t have my “crew” popping in at various places along the course to surprise me. I won’t have a training group with coaches who show up at mile 26 to change my shoes and socks for me. I don’t even have a pacer this time around and I am okay with that. To me, that adds more to the experience. I’ve completed this race once before so now in lies the real challenge … can I do it with entirely different circumstances? Running with Pigeon for as long as I can hold on is one of my goals.

Where I stopped in 2010, she excelled. She has way more ultra experience under her belt and a ton more races too. To be completely honest, this will only be my third ultra. Yes I have run 30 or more miles a few times but not in a technical race. To many, I am still considered a newbie.

So, just running with Pigeon, will simulate in my head, our weekends and running together (hopefully). When we ran at Way Too Cool a few weeks ago, that didn’t necessarily play out as much as I had planned but I was content and happy most of Way Too Cool. If I can nip certain things in the bud that would be great and of course the terrain will be quite different.

No, I am ready. As nervous as I might be, I am equally excited for what Saturday will bring. The self-doubt in my head stems from a very busy schedule that limited my training and running time. I am a logical person and I can only anticipate and expect so much from training as I put into it. I am not doubting my ability or trying to self-talk my way out anything, I am just being honest. I know I am strong. I know what my strengths generally are and I just need to let it all play out. What happens happens … and in the words of Europe’s It’s the Final Countdown …

I guess there is no one to blame.

We’re leaving ground (leaving ground)

Will things ever be the same again?

It’s the final countdown!

If you want to see the video and hear the song click here.

PS: I am still jealous of their awesomely big 80s hair that I never had ….

Wish me luck!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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