Tag Archives: Marathon

LITHIA LOOP TRAIL MARATHON RACE REPORT

They are going to kill me! But this is way too funny not to post!”
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(warning – this is a super long post but a fun one)

The Thursday before I left for Oregon, my coworker and I were discussing the fact that I was going on a road-trip with two friends (also moms) and how we were headed to do a trail marathon put on by race director and all around ultra-running legend, Hal Koerner. One thing led to another and within minutes the above photo was created and shared on Facebook.

Hal was tagged and my friends laughed. He seems like he has a good easy going personality, so I hoped he didn’t mind. 🙂

First, let’s step back just a bit shall we? How did this all come about? Well, quite a few months ago I decided that in my final year of being 39, I wanted to do races that I have never done and go places and have fun! So I registered for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon which takes place in Ashland, Oregon and I booked a hotel.

Vans and I have been to Ashland before and we loved it. He told me that he’d go with the kids but that I should really take my friends. So, I did.

My wolfpack was set free!
The wolfpack was set free!

Vans tagged us as “the wolfpack” on Facebook and the name has stuck. My girls and I hit the road ready to explore, live and just laugh our bums off!

Mt Shasta
Mt Shasta

The drive up was easy. We stopped along the way for photos and rest-stops but we made really good time and were in Ashland with lots of time to explore.

We stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel which was the race host hotel and is conveniently located across the street from Rogue Valley Runners – where packet pick up was located.

We grabbed our shirts and bibs. We saw that Hal was there but he didn’t seem to “recognize” us from our photoshopped post on Facebook. Whew! Saved (or so I thought).

Standing Stone Brewing
Standing Stone Brewing Company

We walked down the street and had drinks and snacks at Standing Stone Brewing Company. We toasted our weekend freedom and talked about the race.

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Lithia Park

Then we walked a block or two over to Lithia Park to find the race start and finish area. This park is mind blowing and GORGEOUS!

Feeling so lucky
Feeling so lucky

We wandered the park, taking photos and then came across a little park with THE coolest climbing structure ever.

When in Rome right?
When in Rome right? (photo by Burning Girl)

Stonegate and I couldn’t resist. We had to climb to the top. My kids would love this!

Since we were racing, we made it an early night and grabbed whatever food we all needed and headed back to the hotel to settle in and get ready for the race.

We felt kind of lame going back to our hotel when it was so early but we wanted to be rested for the race.

The race started at 8:00 am which for us, is extremely late. We were sort of thrown by the late start time but realized the next morning that it doesn’t get light out until about 7:45 am. Aaah, now I get it. 🙂

Burning Girl, Me and Stonegate at the start.
Burning Girl, Me and Stonegate at the start. (photo by Stongate)

The best part is that we could leave our hotel and walk to the starting area. I love being able to do that.

As usual, we arrived a bit too early and watched as the race directors and volunteers helped put up the starting arch.

The start. Photo from Facebook.
The start. Photo from Facebook.

We knew this was not a huge race but we also knew that it was filled with mostly Oregon locals. Locals who looked like they could crush this course.

Promptly at 8 am, Hal counted us down and the race started. The first 10 miles are on a partly paved and partly dirt fire road. TEN MILES … UP HILL.

Course profile
Course profile

We all started out together and then quickly realized, that NO ONE walks. No one. Everyone was running. Mile 1, mile 2, mile 3 … no one stopped despite the fact that we were climbing some serious hill.

Burning Girl said, “I’ll catch ya later! Good luck!” as she stopped to walk. I must add, that Burning Girl’s farthest run to date had been 12 miles, once. This girl’s life has been hectic to say the least and yet she traveled to Ashland and made a game day decision. She started the race and would see how the day would unfold. Stonegate and I had our fingers crossed for her but to be honest, the odds were against her.

Stonegate and I ran a little further and then she stopped. I kept going but eventually stopped too. Stonegate caught me and we did a run walk combo up that hill. Everyone was looking at us as they ran past but we knew we wanted to be a bit conservative as we still had a lot of climbing to do!

Good morning Ashland!
Good morning Ashland!

The weather was perfect. All week they had predicted that it would be down pouring rain – first it was for the entire day, then it moved to the second half of the race and then, it wasn’t supposed to rain until late that evening! It was beautiful out. Not too cold. Not too hot.

Trail selfie
Trail selfie

The fire road was getting a little tedious. It wasn’t ugly but it had this gravel that was just very hard for me to get footing on. I would slide back an inch every so often. The tread on my shoes are also pretty worn so that didn’t help.

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Finally we made a sharp right turn onto a single track. I don’t think Stonegate and I could be any happier. The funny thing is, all the people who had ran the fire road, walked the single track. That just made me laugh. I was ready to run at this point!

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The trail was well marked and it smelled like pine! It was awesome.

I am not quite sure when it was, I think it was mile 8 or 9, Stonegate told me to go ahead that she needed to walk. So I ran thinking she would catch me eventually. I never saw her again.

This sign just makes me laugh.
This sign just makes me laugh.

I just kept running. I was starting to feel good. My legs were no longer tired from the climb and my lungs felt okay. We had reached the top of the hill and I knew that the rest was just a super flat-ish section until about mile 19 or 20.

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There were six aid-stations throughout the course and I just took them one by one. I didn’t really need much as my pack was pretty stocked but the volunteers manning the aid-stations were SUPER nice!

One aid-station was crewed by a mountain biking group.
One aid-station was crewed by a mountain biking group.

The only downfall with this race is that there is no where, and I mean no where, to pull off to the side of the trail when nature calls. You have a cliff on one side and a wall or mountain of dirt more or less on the other.

This kind of stunk as I had to go twice during the race. Both instances I had to literally climb over a cliff and down an embankment one time and then climb over some downed trees another. That took a lot of time.

Finally I came to the last aid-station at about mile 19.5. I just said hello and was ready to keep running. I almost went the wrong way until they pointed me towards some single track trails. Yes!

It was a short single track that then dumped you onto a short fire road that then led you to Caterpillar Trail. As I understand it from the locals, this trail was newly built and this was the first year the course was running on it.

I hit this trail and it was like a fire had been lit inside me!

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

I just ran and ran and ran! I felt no pain. I was in heaven. I was smiling ear to ear cheering on runners as I passed them. I think I passed about 10 people on this section of the trail. I had passed about 8 on the fire road the last few miles as well. My energy was strong.

Photo by Stonegate
Photo by Stonegate

Up, down, up, down the trail was full of little rollers that weaved in and out of trees. There were downward switch backs and tight corners. To your left was a cliff. The trail itself was only a foot or two wide and to your right was a dirt wall. I prayed no mountain bikers were out there (as it turns out, mountain bikers have their own section of caterpillar to ride on that is just for them, how cool!?).

Runners cheered me on as I passed them. Finally at mile 24 I came to this …

Cause why not add stairs at mile 24 right?
Why not add stairs at mile 24 of a marathon right?

I had to laugh and take a photo. Always throwing in stairs for good fun.

Finally the trail dumps you out onto a paved road. After a turn, you realize that you’re on the same road you started the race on and that we only had a mile to go.

I ran hard. I knew the race had a 6 hour cutoff and I had no concept of time. I never once looked at my watch for time. I’d occasionally look at it for mileage when it beeped to see if the mile markers were accurate (they were) but never once did I glance at the time or the pace I was running.

I passed about 4 more runners on this road (they looked like they were hurting). Locals were sitting on their curbs cheering us on! It was so cute.

Then I see the finish arch ahead. I was so happy but then something to my left caught my eye. There was a  HUGE buck just standing at the curb, not five feet from me. Four feet from it, was a woman just sitting and cheering.

I looked from the buck to the woman and from the woman to the buck thinking, “Does she not SEE that? Am I imagining this? He is RIGHT there!” I wanted to stop and pull out my camera but I was literally just 30 yards from the finish.

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As it turns out, when I did finish, there had been a family of deer to my right as well! Crazy!

I finished in 5 hours even. I apparently snuck past everyone as they had to chase me down to give me my medal and race swag.

I then waited for Stonegate and Burning Girl to finish. I hadn’t heard from either of them throughout the race. The cell coverage was spotty most of the day so that was understandable.

Stonegate coming down the hill!
Stonegate coming down the hill! Deer to her right!

Stonegate finished and was smiling ear to ear. Her time was about 5 hours and 30 minutes and she was feeling good.

We quickly walked down the street to Pioneer Hall where the post-race food was located. Here they gave us growlers!

How cool is that?!
How cool is that?!

My very own growler! I was so excited. Stonegate grabbed a burrito. I took a photo of all the local beer being served to send to Vans back home.

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Then we went back to the finish area to wait for Burning Girl. Neither one of us had heard from her. I talked to the guy manning the finish area and he said no one had dropped at any of the aid-stations that he was aware of.

Then, we saw Hal, the race director. I wanted a photo so I grabbed Stonegate and we wandered over. We asked if we could have a photo with him.

At first he laughed, then said, “Yea, I think I saw a photo or something Facebook already … that took a lot of work.” 🙂

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I assured him that it really didn’t take much! hahaha It was so funny. He truly was a super nice guy and a good sport about it. He shared with us some places where we could go and hang out tonight post race.

All of a sudden, Stonegate gets a text from Burning Girl that she had HIT THE PAVEMENT! She was on her way into the finish! There were 5 runners out there and she was one of them.

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Down the hill she came! She looked amazing! She did it! She freaking ran that hard-a$$ marathon with little to no training. Mind over matter she did it! I am so damn proud of that woman. She is one helluva strong runner! Sadly, we did NOT get a post race photo of all of us! Grrr!

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But we did stop on our walk back to the hotel at Standing Stone Brewing Company again to fill up our new growlers!

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Photo by Stonegate

Then it was back to the hotel for a mini celebration and showers. Despite being a little sore and tired, we were anxious to get out and really experience downtown Ashland.

We had drinks, followed by a nice dinner in a great place with locals cheering on the Oregon football team. We told stories of what we all experienced during the run and how we felt at certain points. It was pure bliss.

Alas, we are moms and we were tired so we called it quits pretty early and headed back to the hotel (in the pouring rain). We had our growlers and were eager to get foam rolling! haha

The next morning was day light savings. The time change didn’t really help us, our internal mom clocks had us up the normal time. We grabbed coffee and breakfast from the hotel and went back to pack up and hit the road.

Stopping at scenic over looks again.
Stopping at scenic over looks again.

The drive back was good. Again we made it a point to stop at scenic over looks for photos.

The wolfpack. Stonegate, Burning Girl and myself (photo by Stonegate)
The wolfpack. Stonegate, Burning Girl and myself (photo by Stonegate)

We stopped in Redding to visit Burning Girl’s mother-inlaw. She is the sweetest woman. We also stopped in Weed, California to have a little fun – gotta have fun in Weed!

Burning Girl trying to get the perfect shot of Stonegate
Burning Girl trying to get the perfect shot of Stonegate
I ran into Sheldon
I ran into Sheldon too. :)
Beautiful Mount Shasta behind me.
Beautiful Mount Shasta behind me.

All in all, it was one of the best weekends that I have had in a really long time. I feel truly blessed to have a supportive spouse who encouraged me to go have a weekend with friends and I feel truly lucky to know these two ladies who love to travel, love to run and love to adventure just as much as I do! So thank you Vans and thank you Stonegate and Burning Girl for being the two best adventure pals ever. I love that you are always willing to go on my crazy adventures and destination races.

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So the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon was my last trail race in my current age bracket. I have one more race of the season left in December and then I cross the proverbial line into a new age bracket, a new era. So far I have to say that I am not afraid. I am not sad about it. My thirties have been fabulous. I have been so very blessed and so very lucky thus far to have the family, friends and adventures that I have had. This year in particular has been one helluva year for me running wise.

I have met and talked with some outstanding runners and athletes this year and it is all because I love to explore. If my mom’s death taught me one thing (it actually taught me a lot) but most importantly I have learned to live life! There is no telling what tomorrow may bring. So grab life by the horns, and cherish it. Then, let it go and find the next big thing. Make memories (heck make waves if you can). Just do it. And don’t forget to smile.

I've been blessed to make many acquaintances this year.
The last year in my thirties hasn’t been too shabby. :)

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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CIM 2015 RACE REPORT

This past Sunday I ran my 7th California International Marathon and my 11th marathon to date.

Last year when I ran this race (you can read that race report here), I decided that upon crossing the finish line that I wanted another shot at actually “running” this race and not just finishing (even though I ran the past few CIMs with TiggerT and had SO much fun while doing it). I had decided, that even though I am on the fence about ever running in Boston, I’d like to at least have the ability to say, “Why yes, I qualified!”

So when my trail season ended, I began running roads and started “lightly” following an old training plan that I had from years ago. I ran long on weekends all solo. I did speed work on Tuesday nights a few times a month with my old crew, the Buffalo Chips (man I missed that group and their workouts). I still ran with my morning crew but mostly on Thursdays.

In the beginning, I was hitting my pace marks and felt strong and then, things started to fizzle. Either I lost motivation to run or was dealing with a few issues that my aging body did not thoroughly embrace.

Either way, for the last two months, my running has slacked. I ran Clarksburg but even then I knew, that the outlook wasn’t as positive as it had been earlier in my training. For various reasons that I won’t list here, I found myself waking up between 3 and 4 times a night.

Bottom line, I wasn’t recovering and I wasn’t hitting my marks. Still, I had faith and was determined to give it my best shot.

Come race morning, Stonegate and Burning Girl arrived at my house at 5:30 ready to whisk me away to the start. Their jokes and laughter made me smile, I was ready.

I had some pre-race laughs at the starting line with the McBride crew who always make me laugh, no matter what. They are, to put it simply, real good people.

Soon it was time to find my pace group.  I needed to run the marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes to qualify for Boston. My CIM personal best was 3 hours and 56 minutes ran in 2008 when the Peanut was 8 months old and I was about 15 pounds lighter and still full of prego hormones. That would have been a major hail mary of a PR to pull off. Yet, I am a way different runner now than I was in 2008.

I decided to run with the 3:40 pace group. When the race started it was a crowded madhouse. I haven’t run in such a tight knit elbow to elbow race in a very long time. It was a little unnerving and I got slightly pushed away from the pace group.

I didn’t panic as I knew it would eventually clear out. My pace group started off pretty darn quick though. Our first few miles were jockeying between our needed pace and a little bit faster –  8:16, 8;24, 8:10, 8:23, 8:11 went the first few miles. Our pace should have been 8:23 but I understand how it works and was hanging in there just fine.

Every so often it would dump massive buckets of rain on us and then stop. I completely over dressed for this race. I should have gone with my instinct but I didn’t.

Mile 7.5 we were passing an aid-station area with lots of spectators and they started blaring Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and I just started smiling and rocking out. It was a sign for this Jersey girl and I let the music carry me.

Fast forward to mile 13, when my quads started cramping and I decided to let the pace group go. I always, ALWAYS carry a salt tab with me and I didn’t have a single one.

I hung in there running just behind the 3:40 group, closer to the 3:45 group until about mile 17 when I decided my quads were going to either seize or fall off. From that moment on, I let myself walk through the aid-stations. Just that small adjustment alone brought some life back into my legs.

I was still smiling mind you. I had decided not to beat myself up about it and to just keep running. What will be will be. I knew if I could get to mile 20, that I’d see Vans and my girls which would help a lot and if I could get to about mile 22 (I think) I would see my Oiselle Volee team and get another boost.

Hi girls!!!
Hi girls!!!

I pretty much walked here and gave them high-fives. It was Vans who said, “Ok, keep moving, get moving.” Thanks honey. 🙂

I saw and heard my Oiselle team cheering for me as I ran by in my singlet. That helped, a lot.

Running through downtown I tried my hardest not to look at the numbered street signs. I know how defeating that can be to not see them get smaller faster.

There were a few really SLOW moments in there between 23 and 26 where I just wanted to lay down and sleep. My quads were SCREAMING at me to stop. I just kept telling myself, “You can’t walk here. You can’t stop here! You have less than 2 miles to go!”

At one point, I said, forget this and starting pushing myself, hard … or at least it felt hard .. and then a wave of nausea hit me. I looked around and both sides of the street were lined 4 deep with people cheering us on. I thought, “Oh god, if I hurl here that would be really really bad!” 🙂

So, I slowed ever so slightly, enough to push the nausea away.

I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 54 minutes. 2 minutes faster than my last “real” marathon and a sub 9 minute marathon. I know I have it in me to  run faster, I know it … I just need the motivation or the determination or perhaps maybe a coach to actually keep me more honest and more on track.

Stats
Stats

Overall, I am pleased with those stats. My quads had nothing left. I was a sweaty mess at the end because I dressed too warm and I haven’t quite figured out how to fuel in a road race yet compared to ultras where you have the time and the convenience of fully stocked aid-stations.

Depending on our plans in 2016, the chances of me running CIM 2016 are pretty darn high. I love this race. It is right in my back yard and I know it inside and out and yet the outcome is never quite the same. Road racing keeps you honest. It pushes you beyond limits you didn’t think were possible.

As much as I love and adore trails, the competitive part of me loves to challenge myself and try and exceed past attempts at things.

My whole family was there at the finish. My heart was full. My girls and Vans were in good spirits and the weather was great.

Post Race Family photo for once
Post Race Family photo for once

I was happy. No matter what my time was, I was happy. And that is all that matters.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

 

 

 

 

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CLARKSBURG COUNTRY RUN 20 MILE RACE REPORT

Sunday was the Clarksburg Country Run. I opted for the 20 mile nonsactioned race because it is a great 20 mile training run before CIM (California International Marathon).

I forget how beautiful the Clarksburg area really is. It hit me driving in as the sun was rising on the river, that this truly is a hidden gem not too far from home.

So pretty
So pretty

My training plan going into this race was supposed to be “Predicted Marathon Pace PLUS 30 seconds” but secretly, I wanted to see if I could hold my marathon pace the entire 20 miles. Of course right? 🙂

I arrived super early. In all the years I have run this race, I never recall being the first to arrive. I think the participant number may have gone down slightly because I was the second person to arrive. Second. That scored me a killer parking spot mind you and I really didn’t have to wait all that long. But my parking space was kind of crazy. I should have taken a photo it was so good.

The temps were chilly and there was a good chance it was going to rain about half way into the race.

Finally it was time to head to the starting line. I saw McFunny as I was getting out of my car. She was also doing the 20 miler and is doing CIM. She always makes me laugh and it proved to be the perfect thing to calm my nerves before the run. McFunny agreed that Clarksburg, while a pretty race, usually leaves sour thoughts in your head when you are done because it is well, 20 miles of flat paved roads. Ouch.

They started the race and off I ran. I bobbed and weaved my way to a clear spot in the pack. I had my headphones and old iShuffle in my pocket. That was a last minute decision. I haven’t touched my shuffle since I loaded it for AR50 earlier this year.

As it turns out, I grew really tired of the conversation around me at about mile 4 and put in my ear buds. Normally I thrive off of the surrounding conversations but not this time.

I did fall in behind one woman. Did you ever just run behind someone and they seemed to float effortlessly as they run? This woman had nothing on her, no water, no music, no fuel yet she had ideal form and just was plugging away never showing any sign of fatigue.

I stuck with this woman for a long long time. At one point I pulled ahead, I think she may stopped at an aid-station but eventually she’d catch up to me again.

At about mile 10 the rain started coming. At first it was just a light sprinkle and then it grew stronger. Then, we changed course and were running right into a headwind with sideways rain.

I slowed to try and grab some fuel from my pocket hoping that would give me a boost and it did but it also put some distance between me and that girl.

I also started to just slow ever so slightly here. Prior to this point I was on point to run my marathon pace. After the fueling stop, I was leaning more towards what my training pace had called for.

A few more turns on the course, more wind and more drenching rain and I was starting to lose my faith and mojo ever so slightly. I kept that girl in my sights even though she was down the road. She never faltered in her form. So many times I wished I was her or I thought, “Wow she is trained and you my friend, are not.” But I never gave up.

The final 2 miles were not fun but I could feel the finish. The last mile I even tried to picked up the pace a bit. When all was said and done, I ended up with the pace my training plan had called for … exactly.

I look like I might cry I am so happy to be done
I look like I might cry I am so happy to be done

I was frozen to the core when I finished. I had been battling an upset tummy since about mile 10 and when I finished I stood for a moment trying to figure out what it was my body wanted.

As I was standing there, the girl I had been following came up to me. She introduced herself and asked how I did. She was so sweet. She is training for CIM and it will be her first marathon. I told her she had amazing form and looked effortless when she ran. She said she had been so nervous for this 20 mile run. She was pleased with her finish and I told her she’ll have a great CIM if she runs like she ran today.

It just goes to show that everyone has some inner turmoil and demons. Not everyone shows it or wears it on their sleeves but we all have something. The only person you can rely on in a lot of these situations is yourself and your training. I know my training hasn’t been 100% on par and that I have been relying on my strength and stamina to try and make certain goals happen.

Come CIM, I am still hoping my strength and stamina will get me through whatever should come my way that day and I know deep inside this is the most I have actually trained for CIM since 2009.

The road is a hard mental beast sometimes. My body has been craving trails lately missing the fun and the ease that one can sometimes have on a dusty single track.

Yet the road can be also super rewarding when you hit your marks. It just takes hard work and training to make that happen.

I have one more race before CIM, our annual Thanksgiving Day race that Vans and I do together. That race is the week before CIM so usually I either feel awesome or I feel every ache and pain along the way. Whatever comes though, I am ready for it.

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

 

 

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HEADLANDS MARATHON RACE REPORT

At the beginning of August I had gone on a trail run with some trail friends. One of them mentioned that the Headlands Hundred race had other distances besides the hundred miler. In fact, they have a 75 mile race, a 50 mile race AND a marathon. My friend was doing the marathon. It got my brain thinking (which is trouble, I know).

Even though I have been road training lately, I really miss the trails from time to time. Trails just provide a sense of adventure, some recovery for your body and ultimately, depending on the distances (and how you run them), are way easier.

So when I got home I looked up the race and started planning. I texted Stonegate to see if she was game for this. She had been mentioning that she wanted to get something on calendar recently so why not?

Turns out she was and the rest was history. For the month of August, I continued on my road CIM training way, barely stepping foot on the  trails for more than a few miles. I knew from the get-go this marathon would be just a fun adventure on the trails for me. As it turns out, Stonegate didn’t do much training either! HA!

I am used to spontaneously running marathons on a whim with little to no training. She is not. She got her first dose of it this weekend and rocked it.

Stonegate and I arriving at the start
Stonegate and I arriving at the start – when the sun was up

In typical Trailmomma and Stonegate style, we worried about the parking situation at the start. So, we were pretty much like the third car in the lot when we arrived at 5:45 am in the pitch blackness. We sat and waited a bit before heading down to get our race bibs and check in.

The start/finish area was insane. It was literally just steps from the ocean.

Start/Finish and drop bag area during pre race talks
Start/Finish and drop bag area during pre race talks
AND there's the ocean...
AND there’s the ocean…

I got to see so many people I knew at the start. I had a few friends doing the 50 mile distance and throughout the course we would pass each other and give support.

The ultra distances started 5 minutes ahead of us and we also had to run an extra 1.2 miles around the parking area before hitting the trails to make up some distance. It was fun cheering on the ultra peeps as they took off.

Stonegate noticed her fashionable outfit as we were waiting...
Stonegate noticed her fashionable outfit as we were waiting…

As we were standing there, Stonegate noticed that her outfit some what clashed in terms of patterns and colors. haha I thought she looked great.

Almost GO time!
Almost GO time!

Finally we were off and running. Like I said above, we had to run a little ways up the road/path and then turn around before hitting the trail and then … it was instant climbing.

900 feet straight up. Some people ran more people hiked. We did a combination of both and then eventually settled into a good hike.

That's the trail we hiked/ran but this isn't the top yet...
That’s the trail we hiked/ran but this isn’t the top yet…

The views were amazing. I kept pulling out my phone to take photos realizing we were not even at the top of the first mountain yet.

Time for some stairs! There always stairs on these bay area trails!
Time for some stairs! There always stairs on these bay area trails!
Nothing but up for a long way....
Nothing but up for a long long way…can you see the people up above?.

Finally we made it to the top and we weren’t the only ones in awe stopping to take photos.

We're above the fog
We’re above the fog

From the beginning, Stonegate and I decided this race was all about adventure and fun. We planned to stick together and enjoy the day.

Our smiles were ear to ear all.day.long
Our smiles were ear to ear all.day.long
You can see the trails below we took to get here. From this point, the trail was runnable for a while
You can see the trails below we took to get here. From this point, the trail was runnable for a while – as in down hill

Literally the course went up and down up and down. Very little flat sections.

Elevation Map
Elevation Map

Stonegate and I would just and run and talk and talk. At one point I met a girl named Paulette who is from my Oiselle racing team! It was so nice to meet her and chat for a bit. She’s running her first 50k in October.

11b
Look at all the trails down there!

At one point I realized we were not nearly as far into the race as I had thought and that I probably should start fueling and hydrating a little better. I was thoroughly engaged in the views that I was neglecting what I needed to do. Even though we weren’t “racing” it is important with all these intense climbs, to continue fueling well.

I took a page from Pigeon‘s playbook and brought some of the Peanut’s apple sauces from Costco with me. However, I threw them into the freezer the night before and put them in my pack frozen.

Get these at Costco - then freeze
Get these at Costco – then freeze

I pulled one out afraid it would be warm and it wasn’t! It was fully defrosted but still amazingly cold. I downed one instantly and I have to say, I REALLY liked this. A lot. Normally this kind of texture is not my thing … but these were great. They have 45 calories, about 8 grams of sugar and 12 grams of carbs. They are kind of like Gu (with about half the calories so keep that in mind) but they offer a great rush of sugar before you have to begin any kind of climb. They are also very easy on the stomach.

Happy Trailmomma
Happy Trailmomma – you can see my apple sauce in my pocket haha

After running up and around this crazy foggy mountain with amazing views of the ocean below … we entered what we called the rain forest!

This is insanely beautiful!
This is insanely beautiful!

It was actually dripping some drops on us at times. We couldn’t help but squeal at the insanity of how beautiful this course was.

But after a few miles in the “forest” you are quickly dumped back out onto a trail with crazy views again.

Hello Bay Area towns!
Hello Bay Area towns!

And of course more climbing…

Just keep running up that hill into the fog and the unknown!
Just keep running up that hill into the fog and the unknown!

There were times when we felt like we were on the edge of a cliff. Like above, there is nothing to the right of that trail except down down down.

You done taking so many photos?! haha
You done taking so many photos?! haha

I must mention that the wind on the these precarious trails was definitely starting to pick up. Poor Stonegate’s nose started to run from time to time … I just happened to take a selfie and accidentally caught her in full blow … it was pretty hilarious.

Oops! hahaha
Oops! hahaha

And when I say the wind picked up … I am talking about 30 mph winds while we were trying to run on this cliff that was open on both sides! In a few spots there was little guide rope that I think was there to prevent people from literally blowing off the mountain.

Hard to tell but Stonegate is doing her best to standstill so that I could get a photo to show how crazy the wind was at times. She had to remove her visor and carry it.
Hard to tell but Stonegate is doing her best to standstill so that I could get a photo to show how crazy the wind was at times. She had to remove her visor and carry it.

Finally we get dumped onto some pavement right in the middle of a crazy tourist attraction. I am talking hundreds of people standing there watching you come out of this trail wearing nothing but a tank top and shorts while they are bundled head to toe because they are about to go across the Golden Gate Bridge.

We have to run down this long long LONG road that basically has us run UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge. YES! The freaking Golden Gate!? It was crazy.

I mean, really?! Look at that!
I mean, really?! Look at that!

I kept taking a bunch of photos and Stonegate kept telling me that there would be better views … so down we ran. There was an aid-station at the bottom, this would be mile 19 of the race.

Stonegate seemed pretty anxious to get to the aid-station. She wanted to get some fuel in her fast. I just kept telling people, “LOOK! Look at that view!!” 🙂 I was beside myself. I kept thinking Vans would absolutely love this and I also kept thinking, “Um, the further we go down means the harder the up later.”

We passed Oiselle teammate Erin here as well. She was out crewing her boyfriend Seth. Erin is also an insanely talented runner. She’s also incredibly sweet. Even though she was out crewing for Seth, we got to see her at every aid-station and it really gave us a boost of energy. We’d stop and chat with her for a bit at every aid-station, clearly not rushing through the race. 🙂 Seth and I used to work together many years ago (pre-Squeaker) and he now owns The Ranch Athletics in Loomis. This was his first 50 and he was battling some hurdles but looked great every time I saw him. Another bonus to this course is that I got to see him and give him a high-five a few times throughout the race. He looked good each time!

Stonegate and I got our fill at this aid-station and then made the grueling hike back under the bridge and back up to the trail head. It didn’t seem to take that long to get back up as it had to get down to the bottom.

Now, now we were on our way home. 7 miles to go until the finish! But first we had to go back through that crazy windy section again.

Another bonus in this race is that the 50 milers when they go out on their second loop of the same course, they do it in reverse, so we get to see all the front runners coming in. Everyone was so supportive and nice. We only had 7 miles to go and they were on mile 32 out of 50 (I think I did that math right … haha).

Back through the crazy rain forrest!
Back through the crazy rain forest!

The return, once you go back up a few of the big hills, is mostly downhill to the finish.

Stonegate and I just ran and ran and ran. All the runners coming in the opposite way would cheer for us and us for them. We’d pass quite a few runners too and we’d always give them some encouragement. I was feeling good and excited to get to the finish but I still felt strong, which was a great feeling to have.

The last mile is along the coastline. It is flat and on a nice little trail with the ocean to our left and a road to our right. Along this route we saw Seth heading out on his second loop and he looked great and was smiling. Erin was running with him too.

The ending was sort of anti-climatic though, no big hoopla going on. No one really announcing your name which is fine, because really, there were 3 other races still going on.

We crossed the finish line and received all our awesome schwag and our medal. We grabbed a few things to eat, said hello to a  few people. Chatted with Erin again thanking her and her friend Monica profusely for being such an unexpected shining light on our day.

We did it! We finished!
We did it! We finished! By the ocean no less!

Overall it was a great day. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I felt great, I fueled well. I really enjoyed the frozen apple sauce packets. The company with Stonegate was fantastic. We laughed, we joked and we had a great time.

I also got to meet and see a few of my new Oiselle Volee team mates!

Me, Paulette and Erin Oiselle Volee!
Me, Paulette and Erin – Oiselle Volee!

After the race, Stonegate and I returned to Mill Valley’s house where we were spoiled with a shower and a nice hot lunch. We are truly lucky to have Mill Valley be so gracious as to let us crash at her house the night before the race and to let us shower before our long drive home.

When I got home, I celebrated with an old marathon tradition of mine … champagne!

Cheers!
Cheers! Love the mini bottles!

This race was my 10th marathon. I had not planned for it to be that way. CIM in December was supposed to be my big day (and it still will be I hope) but it was nice to have my 10th be on these amazing trails.

It was a memorable day for sure. I won’t forget my 10th marathon now. Fun, adventure, laughter and views that could blow the mind?! What more could a girl ask for?

My favorite photo of the day.
My favorite photo of the day.

Thanks Stonegate for joining me! This may be one of those races we run again … it was that fun. 🙂

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

 

 

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PACIFIC CREST MARATHON RACE REPORT (VACATION IN OREGON)

Have you ever said something along the lines of, “If I say I want to do this next time, remind me that I said I would never do it again.”  Those were the thoughts that were going through my head the first few miles of the Pacific Crest Marathon last Saturday.

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I ran this same marathon in 2012. You can read that race report here. I even re-read my race report before we left on vacation and recalled that it was a tough race mentally because it is two loops of a half-marathon course. You basically run right past the finish line and back out for another 13.1 miles. Also, because this race is in Oregon, specifically Sunriver, Oregon, one has no idea what the weather will be like. In 2012 when I ran the full marathon, it was 40 degrees at the start and it hailed. In 2010 when I ran the half, it was warm but not miserable.

This year the weather would be a force to be reckoned with and the nemesis in every runner’s side. I knew this when we left California as the temps were slowly rising towards 100 degrees. The weather in Sunriver was predicted to be in the high 90s or low 100s.

Mt. Shasta
Mt. Shasta

We stopped in Ashland, Oregon on Thursday. I have always wanted to visit Ashland as I hear it is an ultra runner’s dream. We stopped at Hal Koerner’s store, Rogue Valley Runners and did a little shopping and photo op’ing.

RVR Store!
RVR Store!

We also stopped and had dinner at Standing Stone Brewing Company, a recommendation from Hal himself (thank you social media) and I saw Jenn Shelton sitting at the bar having a beer.

Pre-race hydrating
Pre-race hydrating

We spent the night in Medford (interesting) and then drove to Sunriver on Friday morning. In the past, I felt that if I didn’t have enough time to acclimate to the elevation, then it was better to get there and just run the race right away. Sunriver is at 4200 ft above sea level. That’s a significant difference compared to my usual 768 ft.

We were vacationing with Be-Well-Run and her family again. In years past, we all participated in some kind of event since Sunriver hosts the Pacific Crest Sports Weekend Festival. This year however, only Vans and I had signed up for events (the marathon for myself and the 10k for Vans). Be-Well-Run signed up for the 10k at packet pick-up which was a nice surprise.

Expo Shopping
Expo Shopping

Walking around the expo I wasn’t really nervous. I kept telling Vans that I was more disappointed because I really wanted to do well and try and break my previous time at this race, but based on the way I was feeling … I just knew it wasn’t in the cards. I was tired, my legs were toast and I had a bunch of internal things going on that proved to be just really bad timing on my body’s part. Finishing became my goal. Or perhaps, this is just a “training run” for my pacing duties at Tahoe Rim Trail in two weeks? That is what I kept telling myself anyway.

Race morning I woke up and got myself dressed. It was warm already. Luckily, in preparation I made sure to bring a bandana with me. This bandana has saved me at many an ultra so I figured I would carry it with me (more on this later).

I had a Picky Bar breakfast and then sat with my legs up a wall trying to move the circulation around a bit. My legs just felt stiff and tired and sluggish. Riding in a  car for hours on end will do that I suppose. I tried to just relax. I tried foam rolling too. My right hamstring has been bugging me for a while. I can’t quite pinpoint what triggers it or what caused it, but I know when I think about it, it tightens up.

Soon it was time to head to the start. The thing about this marathon is that even though it is a Boston qualifying race, there is never that many people running it (in fact, I just looked, there were 73 people who ran). I think I finally understand why now.

The race started on time and we were off and running. It goes up hill at first and we were to expect aid-stations and porta potties every mile (not necessarily at each mile marker). I decided not to carry any water with me based on there being water so frequently.

Within the first few miles I just knew my legs were not working. They didn’t seem connected to my body at all. My pace was hovering around 8:50 which was surprising to me since I felt like I was a slug on the sidewalk.

After I passed mile 2 I saw some friendly faces. I put on my best smile and waved.

The kid posse
The kid posse

I just assumed that I would slowly begin to bounce back to normal and eventually get into a groove. Somewhere around mile 6 or 7 though, my paced started slowing and the heat started coming on strong. My 8:50s started hovering around 9 and then 9:10 … and then 9:15.

The last time I ran this, I only allowed myself walking breaks on the second loop and only when I was going through an aid-station. This year, the walking started early. “Oh, is that an aid-station I see way up there? Okay, that means I can walk now.”

That’s kinda how it went for a while. Part of the course goes past the Sunriver Airport where there is absolutely positively zero shade cover. Not that there was a ton on the other parts of the course but at least there we had some cloud cover … the airport seemed to make the clouds disappear.

The aid-stations were great. They had water and I was enjoying the mental break of knowing they were coming every mile. There was a bit of a mind game for a while as they were not at the mile markers but in-between.

Somewhere around mile 9 or so I started thinking, “There is no way in hell I am going to finish this race. Forget this. If the family is at the half-way point, I am stopping. Who cares if my first ever DNF is on a road marathon!? This is insane!”

Mile 10: “You can’t quit. You can’t! You’ve run 8 other marathons before this. You’ve run ultras for goodness sake! How can you possibly quit!?”

Mile 11: “Yup, you can quit. This is the pits. Can you feel this heat? It has to be 100 degrees outside!” (it was 97).

Mile 12: “Ugh, more rolling hills? What the hell? Why? This is ridiculous. Look! Those people are walking. You can walk too. Almost to the half way point. Almost to the point where you are going to quit!”

Mile 13: “Why the heck do they have to add a .1 to a freaking half marathon?! Why can’t it just stop at 13?! Okay, there is the finish shoot, where is my family?”

Course marshal: “Half marathoner’s go right, marathoner’s go left for your second loop!”

Me (in my head): “But, but …. I don’t WANT to do a second loop! Where are they? Where is my family? They have to be here. Sure they didn’t say they would be here but they have to know I am dying right?”

Off I go … on my second loop. They had no water at the finish area. The last water station was at mile 12. The next one wouldn’t be until almost mile 15 or 16 … in 97 degrees and in my completely fragile emotional state, that seemed like 115 miles to me. I think I started hallucinating.

Save me!
Save me!

I had been running with a salt tab in my hand since mile 13. All I wanted was a cup of water so that I could take my salt tab. I saw my family ahead of me. I started walking and blabbering about “no water, where is the water?” and “if you were at the half way point, I’d be done. I can’t do this. This is so hard.” I stole my 7 year old’s water bottle and I took my salt tab.

Be-Well-Run rode her bike up ahead to the aid-station and I think informed them that I was coming and desperately needed water. A nice volunteer ran up to me, “Are you Pam?” Me: “Yes, I am.” Nice volunteer: “Okay, you can do this, you can make this. Here is some water. Is this your first marathon?” Me (oh dear lord, it looks like I am dying doing my first marathon): “Um, no, more like my 9th.”

Vans told me how hot it was (gee, I hadn’t noticed) and informed me that I was moving pretty slow (ya think?). He said, “See you at the finish?” and I think I said, “Sure, but we’re looking at a 5 hour marathon here. I see a lot of walking in my future.” He assured me that I only had about 6 miles to go. I don’t know if he was trying to mess with my math challenged dehydrated brain or what, but I kind of believed him until I got a little further and realized I had like 10 more miles, not 6. Thanks honey. 🙂

I am not sure when, but they had run out of ICE on the course so all the water we had to drink was WARM. Ugh.  Around mile 10 however, they had buckets of cold water (guess that is where all the ice went) and I started using my bandana. I’d soak it in a nice ice-cold bucket and then wipe my face and wrap it around my neck. My saving grace. That bandana makes the world a better place.

The rest of the course was a ghost town. There were one or two guys who I had been playing leap-frog with. I had to use a porta potty twice so they’d get ahead of me but I’d eventually catch up and pass. At about mile 18, I started feeling way better.

When I reached the airport (mile 20) there was a kid manning the aid-station. I asked where his water bucket went and he said it was gone but that he had ice. ICE? What?! I had him fill my bandana (sorry other runners). I carried that bandana full of ice the rest of the race cooling my neck and face.

Where is she? This is taking a really long time Dad.
Where is she? This is taking a really long time Dad.

I wasn’t running 100% of the time, but I was running more than I had before. I had passed those two guys for good and a girl (who didn’t enjoy that). When I saw the 21 mile marker, I knew I could finish. Walk run walk run. Run run run run. Walk. Run.

Here I come! Told ya it was a ghost town of a race.
Here I come! Told ya it was a ghost town of a race.

When I saw the finish shoot, I tried so hard to gather up enough energy to just keep running. I saw and heard my family cheering my name. That gave me a nice boost.

Smile and it doesn't hurt right?
Smile and it doesn’t hurt right?
In my head I am thinking "oh thank goodness!"
In my head I am thinking “oh thank goodness!”
My girls joining me for the final few steps.
My girls joining me for the final few steps.

When I crossed that finish line I was filled with a bunch of emotions. There was a lot of “Oh thank goodness you are done,” but there was also the, “Holy crap, you did it!? You stuck it out!”

This is me telling Be-Well-Run "holy crap that was hot"
This is me telling Be-Well-Run “holy crap that was hot”
This is, "NEVER LET ME DO THIS RACE AGAIN!"
This is, “NEVER LET ME DO THIS RACE AGAIN!”

I was stoked that I had finished, shocked at my terrible time (4 hrs 40 minutes) and desperately searching for one thing ….

Yes! This is so nice in so many ways.
Yes! This is so nice in so many ways.

Post race massage by this guy … he was blown away by my right hamstring. I was too to be honest. It didn’t feel great but after he dug his elbow in it a few million times, it felt a lot better.

Upon completion of your race (any races in Sunriver), you get a free Deschutes Beer. Of course, being gluten free, I cannot drink beer but Vans was not about to let this opportunity pass so he rushed me over to the Bier Garten.

Free Beer!
Free Beer!

We hung around the race for a little bit but the kids were toast. My long marathon had taken up most of the day and everyone wanted to get moving on our vacation. So we left.

So bored that balancing rocks on her head was more exciting than waiting for me.
So bored that balancing rocks on her head was more exciting than waiting for me.

Overall, I wasn’t too sore from the race. My quads were pretty tight the following day but I didn’t stretch nor did I foam roll or anything (I know, I know, bad!).

In the end, I am proud of myself for sticking it out and not quitting. On the other hand, this is fueling me towards some serious marathon training for CIM in December. I am due. I want to get back to my sub 4 hour marathon time.

I say it all the time, but for me, road running is harder than trail running. They are both very different in so many ways. I am faster on the road but the endurance for running continuously isn’t there. I’ve been so mentally trained to be conservative on the trail because usually, you are out there for the long haul. You have fuel. You have aid-stations that are like a giant smorgasbord of everything you can imagine. When I passed my first aid-station in Sunriver my heart sank a little bit. Water?! Just water?? 🙂

I know that no matter what, I can manage the distance but I am getting tired of just “managing” … I want to do better. So, we shall see. I have some pacing duties to attend to in a few weeks and then, who knows, maybe I will start migrating to the pavement again. CIM training IS just right around the corner. 😉

Just because. :)
Just because. :)

Stay tuned for another post. I have a million photos and a few more stories to share about our vacation that involve more running but since this post is already almost as long as my last marathon time (har har), I figure I should end it here. 🙂

Happy Pavement Trails!

~Trailmomma

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