It is a road race, not a trail race which meant I had to dust off my road shoes and hoped they still fit.
The morning was a bit chaotic so I ended up leaving the house solo and letting Vans and the girls sleep in. The plan was for the Peanut and Squeaker to run the kid’s free half mile race when my race was over. There was no reason to wake them up at the crack of dawn to drive down and wait.
Having left the house much later than I wanted, I arrived at Rio Americano High School, parked the car, RAN to the race area, picked up my race bib and schwag bag and then ran BACK to the car to put that all away. I then pinned on my number and raced to the starting area with about six minutes to spare. Whew!
The race started and I just tried to find a groove. I had no expectations for this race. I haven’t been running regularly enough nor have I done any speed work. I just decided to let whatever happen, happen and hope I lived to blog about it.
Mile 1 (8:13 pace) : Okay, that’s probably about as fast as I will be able to manage today…that’s fine. Good pace.
Mile 2 (8:14 pace) : Yup. Hey look there is Allyson! She’s running strong.
Mile 3 (8:00 pace) : Okay. That’s okay. Still seems manageable. You tend to run faster when chatting with people.
Mile 4 (7:51 pace) : Hmm, that was quite a jump but it is because I am running past my old house and while I know Vans and the girls won’t be there, I always speed up here thinking I’ll see them. Settle down.
Mile 5 (7:58 pace) : Yup, slowing back down. Uh oh! What’s that? A giant turkey?! Oh geez, not again!
Mile 6 (7:49 pace) : Your pace is faster only because of the turkey, I am blaming the turkey on this one. Where did he go?
Mile 7 (7:58 pace) : Is that them!? Is that my family?! No. Man, there are a lot of tall skinny guys who have cute blonde little girls out on this course.
Mile 8 (7:47 pace) : Just hang with these two guys. You’ve been behind them all day and they are setting a nice pace. BEEP BEEP! Hey! Look! It’s Vans and the girls! They made it. Now just stay steady. Don’t go crazy.
Mile 9 (7:52 pace) : What!? My pace guys are pulling away! They must not want to be “chicked” at the last minute haha. Come on, you can do it, pick up the pace. Move past this group but keep it steady, you still have a mile to go.
Mile 10 (7:49 pace) : There they are! I see my family! They made it! Woo hoo you did it! Now don’t hurl, whatever you do, don’t hurl! Your kids are watching!
While I hadn’t set out to race this by any means, I did end up with a 17 second PR! Whoo hoo. I ended the race 6th in my age group (out of 60) and a sub 8 pace (per my Garmin – official race results have me at about 8 mins).
After my race was the kid’s 1/2 mile free fun run on the track. Both the Peanut and Squeaker showed up ready to run. Squeaker’s best friend from her old daycare also joined them and it is total cuteness from here on out!
Ready set go! They all took off!
Squeaker blew me away. She kept a great starting pace while all the other kiddos took off like a bat outta hell. Eventually, all the speedsters slowed down realizing that two laps, is kinda hard!
Even the Peanut was winded and tired but not Squeaker! That girl just kept going!
When they completed their two laps, Squeaker said, “Can we do it again!?” 🙂
And they did. She and her BFF walk/ran another two laps around the track bringing their distance to a full mile! She’s five! 🙂
It was so adorable to watch. I hope that we can get these three together again soon for another run.
The rest of Sunday was spent visiting with an old friend of Van’s and then home for a nice family afternoon.
I was pretty hungry after my race and only had a few random things in the fridge.
I took some left over rice that we had in the fridge and I threw it in a pan with some lime juice and some veggie broth and cooked until warmed through. I added a bunch of cilantro and cooked it a little longer. I then layered the bowl. Steamed kale with vinegar on the bottom, my cilantro lime rice in the middle followed by some oil free roasted onions and zucchini. Some salsa to finish and voila, an easy homemade post race meal that really hit the spot.
I do say that was a perfect Sunday after a weekend of traveling.
This was only supposed to be a training run and then Tommy Lee Jones started egging me on, lighting that internal fire that is always simmering inside and the rest was history including an uphill battle to the finish.
On Saturday it dumped rain all day; a lot of rain. So much so that Paulo, the Race Director emailed all participants AND sent out a Facebook blast detailing that the race course had changed due to the condition of the road/trails. Uh-oh. Now instead of starting at the bottom near the river, we were to start at the top in the upper parking lot area of Driver’s Flat. They also had to adjust the back end of the course to account for the three mile difference at the start. Ultimately, the course ended up being shortened by a mile or so which is better than the alternative which was lengthening it by three miles. (Good call Paulo!) 🙂
When I arrived at the starting area, I was a dork and basically was the first person there. Stonegate (like the great trail friend she is) had offered to drive me but she couldn’t wait all day and I did not want Vans and the girls hanging out in the mud and rain forcing me to run and finish faster. This was a training run after all remember?
So upon arrival I got out and asked Paulo if he needed any help. Why not put me to use right? He had me start handing out bibs to the runners as they arrived. This turned out to be great because I finally was able to put names to faces! I finally met Clint, a fellow plant-powered runner and Facebook face (Hi CLINT!!) and a few other runners.
Soon it was almost go-time and of course the skies opened up and dumped rain for few minutes. I second guessed my out-fit choice and changed my top at the last minute (tip: always go with your first instinct). We gathered at the start where Paulo did a quick pre-race briefing reminding us that we were to follow pink ribbons. He also told us where the NEW turn around spot and aid-station was located.
They counted us down and we were off! Everyone started running the long three mile downhill and were all commenting on how brutal this will be on the return, at the end of the race.
BUZZ!!! (my watch) Mile 1 – 8:30 Uh oh, that’s a bit fast, slow it down, don’t blow out your quads on the first mile.
BUZZ!!! Mile 2 – 8:30 Grrr, I thought I slowed it down!? Okay, look there’s a bathroom! Go use that restroom over there and that will help slow you down and push you farther back in the pack.
When I emerged from the bathroom I just continued running along the river. I stopped a few times to take some photos (the only photos I took all day – stick with me and you’ll see why).
Two girls were in front of me were talking. Eventually they moved over and let me pass. Then we hit some up hills and I heard them chatting away, so I let them pass. I just needed quiet as I was trying to get a sense of how my body was feeling. I just couldn’t find my groove.
Roughly at mile 10 we entered the second aid-station at Cal-2.
The volunteer yells out my bib number AND yells out that I am fourth female and that number three is still in the aid-station. “Oh don’t tell me that!? It’s too early to tell me that!”
Sit tight girl. This is a training run. Do not go and chase it. Let.it.go!
I let three other women pass me out of that aid-station. I refused to go chase it. I was letting it go. However, while I was in this conga line of three women and one older gentleman leading the way, I couldn’t get my stride right. There was plenty of climbing and I was hiking a lot but I would either end up on their tail or I would slow down to the point of walking. It just didn’t feel right. The next aid-station was the turn-around and I just wanted to get there.
Soon we started seeing the lead runners on the return. First female went by and DANG she looked strong! She was flying. Second and Third females came by a little bit later and gosh darn it, it if wasn’t the two nice chatty women I let pass me earlier … the voices started again …
That could have been you. You were up there. Now you are 7th! Shut up! Training run remember!?
It was a SUPER steep down to the aid-station (mile 14 ish) at Cal 1. I ran in and realized there was nothing that I wanted. The volunteer asked me my bib number first since I was at the table and the other three women were filling their bottles. I told her my number and left.
That was tricky girl. Are you trying to get ahead or are you starting to race? Just getting ahead. That’s all. I am sure they will catch me.
Soon I came upon Roger. Ahh, Roger. Many trail runners know Roger. He is a great guy and a great runner. I met Roger a few years ago at Diane’s Thursday night race series. Roger and I used to push each other out on the course. Roger, if you don’t know him, sounds (and kinda looks) like Tommy Lee Jones. I kid you not, his voice is amazing and if you didn’t know it, you would think Tommy Lee Jones is running with you. It makes me smile every time I hear him.
ROGER: Hey Pam, you want by me?
ME: Nope, I just want to get some distance between me and those ladies back there.
Roger just chuckled. I should have known then with that innocent sounding chuckle, what was about to unfold.
Roger and I ran steady and strong for a very long stretch. It was probably my longest stretch of running the entire day. I FINALLY started to feel my groove, after 15+ miles.
All of a sudden, Roger stops and moves to the side.
ME: What are you doing? Dude, you are pulling me!
ROGER: Look, there’s number three. Go get her. You got this!
ME: (sigh) DAMN YOU ROGER! Damn you!
Roger chuckled his devilish chuckle again. 🙂
Off I go in front of Roger running steady. We knew the aid-station was coming up very soon. I just really wanted to get to there. The third place girl, (her name was Stephanie), let me pass. Roger checked in with her. I knew she was tired because when I was running behind her earlier in the day, she had said she had run 17 miles the day before marking the very course were running right now. My heart ached for her, she is clearly a VERY strong runner.
We all enter the aid-station, I reach for a cup and I feel someone pushing me sideways …
ROGER: Go! Get out of here. Go!
ME: What the?!! Okay okay …
I took off like I stole something. The next two to three miles were a steady but technical downhill. I had not been opening up my down hills this entire race, but now, I did.
BUZZ! Mile 20 – 9:25 Legs feel good. Tummy is a bit off, but I feel good.
BUZZ! Mile 21 – 9:21 Please god, let me have gained enough distance to keep this lead. Who am I kidding, if I could just bomb that, so can everyone else. Run, just run!
The next stretch was the longest between aid-stations again, something like 7.5 miles I think and that last aid-station would be the final aid before the dreaded three mile climb to the finish.
I just ran and ran. I had even moved ahead of Roger by quite a bit and then he’d catch me and pump me up some more. He even went so far as to tell me that he thinks I could catch female #2. HA! Funny man that Roger.
Finally I reached the section I affectionately called Tick Trail – it was so over grown with long grass and weeds that you couldn’t even see the trail and I imagined with every step, all these ticks jumping onto my legs. THAT made me run faster let me tell you!
Finally, I was dumped back onto the fire road that I knew led to the final aid-station. However, it took FOREVER it seemed until I got there.
VOLUNTEERS: Hey! Looking strong, what do you need?
ME: Can you please just douse my bandana in cold water? How far to the finish?
VOLUNTEERS: About 2.7 to 3 miles, unfortunately all up hill.
I silently groaned a little bit but there was nowhere to go but up to get this done. Off I ran and then I hiked. I tried power hiking. Pigeon was in my head. She had texted me earlier that morning to “power hike that last hill like a bear is chasing you!” Well, as it turns out, there WAS a bear about to chase me!
ROGER: Hey, there is a chick behind me.
ME: What!? No! You aren’t just saying that to get me to run up this hill are you?!
ROGER: Nope, she surprised me by coming up quick behind me at that last aid-station.
ME: Son of a B!*%$! I didn’t set out for this Roger!
ROGER: Well, don’t kill yourself but you got this!
Off I ran, my legs barely moving, shaking with every single step that I took. Last weekend I climbed 3 miles with Stonegate, motivating her up that hill. I used the same tactics on myself …
Okay girl, run to that rock. You can run to that rock and then walk. Just get ahead every chance you can.
I rounded a corner and something caught my eye ….
Holy crap! You caught the number two girl! Hmmm, she doesn’t look THAT far ahead … Nope, forget it. Focus on the girl behind you. You’re barely hanging in.
I am not kidding when I say this hill took FOR-FREAKING-EVER to climb. I passed one guy.
GUY: Hi! (being all friendly and nice despite huffing and puffing) One helluva way to finish huh?
ME: Can you look behind me please. Is there a girl there?
GUY: Nope. I see nobody.
ME: Good. Thanks.
Off I ran. Or I thought I was running. As I reached the top of that switchback I turned and saw her, the girl that was in front of me when I ran in that conga line of girls earlier in the day. She looked strong even then. She looked like she should have been running in front of those girls. She also looked like she wasn’t struggling one bit on that hill we were on.
Move it! Come on! Run, run a stretch now to get ahead! Come on legs! Stop shaking and run!
Female #2 turned and looked at me and then started to run too. The chase, it seemed was on, everyone was trying to get up that hill as fast as possible. I wanted to yell out to the number two girl and say, “It’s okay! I don’t care about #2! I just want to keep #3!” But come on, if I had gotten close enough …. 🙂
I kept straining to hear music. That’s a cue to all the finish lines right? But it occurred to me that there might not BE music at the finish.
Oh no, don’t rely on the music! But how will I know where the finish is? I can’t see it! All I see are these damn hills in front of me!
I had to laugh. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t super smiley but I wasn’t angry and laughing is the best way for me to release tension. What else am I going to do on a monster climb like this?
Then, I see two men standing there. They don’t look like hikers; they look like guys who hang out at finish lines (yes, that’s how my head works in moment’s like these). I reach them, I see female #2 ahead of me and I ask them …
ME: How far?
THEM: Not far, 100 yards.
ME: 100 yards?! (In my head it was as if they had told me it was 100 more miles)
THEM: Up that hill!
ME: (internally) Come on! PUSH!!!!
Finally, I see the finish arch. I see Paulo running around with his camera. I see female #2 pushing as hard as she can, she’s about 10 yards in front of me. I am running as hard as I possibly can. Everyone is cheering!
Oh no, are they cheering because they think I am going to catch her OR are they cheering because the girl behind me has finally caught me and is going to do a sneak attack to the finish line?!!
Talk about paranoia! Haha
RUNNNNN PAM RUNNNNNN!!!!
Finally, I cross the finish line and RD Paulo comes over. I think he doesn’t know whether to high-five me or give me a hug and all I want to do is lay down. I bend over and he kind of escorts me gingerly to some chairs, female number two was in the same state, bent over, legs shaking.
Holy crap, you did it. You made it. You climbed that beast. What the hell man!? I thought this was a training run!? 😉
One minute later, female #4 crosses the finish line. Wow, what a day.
Roger was next and I had enough strength in my legs to get up, cheer as loud as I could and give that crazy man a hug and say thank you. Again, thank you Roger for your support, encouragement and for giving me the pep talks I needed. I could not have done it without you.
So, the final verdict was Third Place Female overall (I was less than 20 seconds behind second) and first in my age group. The course was shortened so I could not go by time but I think I might have had a decent 50k time overall – so long as it wasn’t a four mile hill climb to the finish instead of three. The race (according to my Garmin) also had 7,548 ft of elevation to it. Wow.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stay too long at the finish as I had to jet home. I didn’t want to miss taking my favorite seven year old to her swim clinic lesson. Originally I didn’t think I would be able to make it but I guess with a finish like that, I had some extra time. 😉
So what worked and what didn’t? (Sorry, hang with me, the end of this monstrosity is near).
First, I tried my home-made plant-based fuel that I blogged about. I knew going into it, that it was too salty. When I tried it during the race, it just was not going to happen. It also had the texture of muffin batter something I was NOT going for in the creation process. Back to the drawing board on that.
Overall, I was not handling anything but fruity sweet flavors which is not my normal. I brought a gluten free almond butter and honey sandwich with me but the gluten free bread is SO dense that I almost choked eating it. I managed one square and left the rest for the drive home.
I need to work on the calorie consumption as I don’t think, looking back, I consumed a whole ton on this run. I had my usual go-to items like fruit leather, applesauce and jelly-beans (for that quick rush). I may go back to making muffins. They pack a good 300 calories per muffin but they require time to eat but since I am not racing my next race, I should have some time. 😉
Overall, I am happy. It wasn’t what I set out to do but I am happy that I was able to pull it together in the end and really push myself especially when at times, I didn’t think I had anything left to push. I feel good. The muscles are not too sore (yet). I still feel a little dehydrated and I need a few more hours of catch-up sleep. That’s the only downfall of having an ultra on a Sunday, as Monday it was back to work/school for the whole family.
Tis the life of a trail running mama I guess! Thanks for reading, I know this was incredibly long, but the good ones usually are.
I want to also thank all the volunteers who were part of this race. From marking the course in a rain storm the day before to being out there on the course the day of the race. Also my fellow trail runners were all super friendly and supportive cheering everyone on their way back to the finish. Love this community! SingleTrack Running put on another great race. Thank you!
Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with SingleTrack Running at all and was not paid or compensated for writing this report. This is the second race of theirs that I have done, and I truly believe they host stellar, challenging and thoroughly top notch events.
My mind has had waves of going a million miles a minute one second and then completely zoned out the next. We took a family trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago and up until that point, that trip consumed me. Planning, preparing and packing. It was a surprise for the kids so keeping it a secret required more energy than you realize.
But once that trip was over, and we had walked 8 miles every day for 3 days in a row, I felt … exhausted! Then, the head games started. “You can’t run anymore!” “You haven’t been running.” “Your last training run felt like hell.” You know those thoughts that tend to creep in when you least expect it? Yea, I had those.
Then I paced at AR and felt pretty amazing which is prompting me to keep my training going as is but I also want to change things up just a bit. I have a pretty odd week ahead of me in that I have a race on Sunday that I am treating 100% as a training run. It has a lot of elevation to it. I have been on these exact trails before, they are not easy, by any stretch which in theory is great preparation for my “A” race in May but I also don’t want to push too hard and end up having to rest longer than I truly want to.
I’ve also been experimenting with home-made plant-based fuel a bit and I plan to try it out at my race (you know, the one that is not a race), this weekend.
I purchased these cool reusable pouches to create my own fuel. They are larger than I anticipated but that’s good because I want to be able to consume more plant-based calories with each serving.
It may be dangerous to try these this coming weekend but I honestly don’t have any other chances. I spent a night creating a mixture of flours and other odds and ends, to fill 3 of the pouches with. This round was a bit more savory and not quite sweet. Not sure if I will bring all 3 with me this weekend but if they are a success, I will write about it my race report. If they are not a success, I will also write about it. 🙂
These can also be used to fill with smoothies or puddings for kids which I also plan to try and do since the box they came in included six pouches. They are freezer and dishwasher safe and BPA free. It has been kind of fun experimenting and calorie counting.
I also went for a nice solo workout run on Monday by myself just to get into my head and to also test my fitness a bit. Monday was gorgeous and the trail that leaves behind my house is one that I haven’t been on lately since I usually run so early in the morning. I couldn’t help but stop and take photos.
This trail leads you to a road that then leads you to another trail where I can do some solid hill repeats and also see some amazing views.
And one of my favorite trees lives here.
I ran/hiked up and down the hill and even did a heart rate test to gauge my fitness level. I was happy with the results. Even though my weekly mileage has been down this week, I ran long on Saturday and I will be running long again this weekend. I am not one of those runners who has to run every single day pushing myself beyond what my body really wants or needs. I have faith in my muscle memory and my body and I truly believe that if you treat your body well, it serves you well in return.
I saw a quote on social media recently that said, “Look after your body, or you’ll have nowhere to live.” That sentence could not ring more true and I think a lot of ultra runners (and road runners) should take this advice to heart more often.
It has been a few weeks since my last post. Sorry about that. I took a quick (5 day) trip back east just days after the race and then returned home feeling quite drained and a bit behind in work/life.
I ran the first weekend home and it was a bit of a struggle. I blame a lot of it on lack of sleep and allergies. The minute I landed in California, I’ve been attacked severely by seasonal allergies like you wouldn’t believe. I know I am not alone. Geez. I know rain is what we need but lordy has it caused a slew of allergic reactions in our house.
So when Pigeon and Stonegate said they were ready to hit the trails for a nice long run this past weekend, I was super excited and hopeful that my allergies would give me a break for the day.
Wanting to get in some decent mileage we decided to do our usual loops adding and changing what we wanted to make the miles work.
Adding to the fun, my roommate from college mailed my girls her son’s Flat Stanley. I decided to include Flat Stanley on our run. 🙂
Our first loop was about 7 miles plus and did not disappoint. We were able to see some amazing waterfalls.
Then we refueled and dropped some gear off at the car. It was getting warm and the rain was holding off for us.
We started our second loop up Stagecoach hill. Stonegate was waiting for a friend to come join us on the second set of loops but he had not arrived just yet. So the three of us took off hiking up Stagecoach with the plan that Stonegate would turn around when she received notice that he had arrived and would head back down.
Well, we all reached the top of Stagecoach and it was then that Stonegate got the text that Paul had arrived. So she headed all the way back down as he was working his way up.
Pigeon and I decided instead to work on our power hiking skills. We’d run about half way down and then turn and power hike our way back up. We did that three times before we caught up to Stonegate and Paul who were climbing back up.
Through Auburn we ran to the Overlook and then back down towards No Hands. I had to stop by No Hands to remove a rock from my shoe … once again, we decided to have some fun jumping around off the rocks (really we were making fun of this trail running video that made the Facebook circuit earlier in the week).
We all refueled at No Hands and then started making our way up K2. K2 was actually quite busy! I ended up passing two men who were out there hiking. I am still working on my hiking skills to get ready for 13,000 ft of climbing come May.
Once we regrouped at the top it was time to fly down roller coaster back to No Hands. I thought that I would zoom like I have been lately but about half way down, my body just said, “Nope, not today!” The trails were super thick and sticky and every so often, we’d run into the trail maintenance crews out there so I took it a little more conservatively. My legs were happier with that.
When we all met at the bottom, we decided not to do another loop and to call it a day. I think we were all a bit tired. This was the longest toughest run I have done since FOURmidable three weeks prior.
We ended up finishing up at the perfect time as the winds started to pick up and the temps started to drop. We had perfect weather for our run but Mother Nature had decided enough was enough.
POST RUN FUEL
After I got home and showered, I warmed up some Split Pea soup that I had made earlier in the week along with a gluten free roll. It was exactly what I needed to warm up and refuel.
Overall it was a great day. I am happy with how my body responded during the run. I almost thought too much time off would hurt me but it was probably just what the trail doctor ordered.
I especially enjoyed all the laughs we had out there. Running with friends really can make all the difference in how you feel sometimes.
This photo makes me laugh so much so I had to include it. Before we climbed Stagecoach, I used the restroom and had left Flat Stanley outside (some things Flat Stanley doesn’t need to see).
Pigeon and Stonegate were trying to play a prank on me but I foiled it. My face cracks me up. 🙂