Friday, February 21, 2014

Red Hot 55k

It was late 2009 when I ventured into the ultramarathon world for the first time by signing up for the Moab Red Hot 55k in February 2010.

Needless to say, road training didn't do much to my horrific performance back in 2010. I learned a lot from that experience and decided ultra and trail running was just not for me. I moved on to other things like triathlons, including Ironman, and road marathons. The road was nice to me.

Shortly after finishing my second Ironman, I signed up for my 2nd ultramarathon. It's as if by 2012 I had completely forgotten of the nightmare that Red Hot was back in 2010. Regardless, I was cautious and picked a course that seemed "easy" despite the fact that there's nothing really easy about running 50k. I had a great day. That encouraged me to really research the races I'm committing to... I learned that was the only way to be successful.

After a great year of races in 2013, I found myself going back to Moab to run Red Hot last week. What had I gotten myself into? While dealing with an injury the 3 weeks before the race, I didn't really have time to focus on the race, but rather, I was focused on getting better. All of a sudden, it was go-time. I told Kev and Court how hard this course was although apparently I didn't emphasize. The thing is, I wasn't sure if I had just had a horrible day and was incredibly unprepared or it was indeed a hard course... so I may have said it lightly once or twice.

Saturday morning we drove to the start line bright and early only to find Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant along with Jenn Shelton; not intimidating at all. Gee.. I was running alongside some serious rockstars. Geoff Roes was there to run the 33k.

At the start line
I had decided on racing conservatively since I didn't want to mess with my back injury again. Obviously my hubby and Court took off. Kev and I stayed back going up the first mile slow, but steady. He got ahead of me a mile in when the course started going downhill. This is when I sat back and  relaxed. I had a long way to go. I had somewhat memorized the elevation profile from Woody's post from a few years back, so knew exactly what to expect and when. That made for a pretty good first 20 miles and was able to maintain a pretty good average pace. I was content.

Views from mile 10. Cool to see how much we've climbed (Yeah, start line was by the road way down there)
So, to give you a visual, the first part of the course, is a loop on the north end... some slickrock, but mostly dirt roads. Once you move on to the second half where you go straight south towards Moab then it's ALL slick rock. If you don't normally run on slick rock, my opinion is that it's hard on your body. First of all, it's all rock so definitely not the softness of the trails that I usually run on. And also, it's not even like pavement. It's uneven like trails. So if you put together the "cons" of both pavement and trail you'll get slick rock.

The second half is when I started getting flashbacks from 2010. Luckily, I was in great shape this time around. I made the 22-mile aid station. The highest point on the course and took a second to catch my breath and realize how much I've improved over the years. I continued on. "It's all downhill from here" was something I heard often, and it was a big lie. It was mostly downhill, but on slick rock. And there were some big obstacles here and there.

Small obstacles on slick rock: steep hills. 
My IT band was hurting... and my downhill running skills were compromised. But I pushed on. I made the 28-mile aid and was ready to be done. "It's all downhill from here". Yeah, yeah. Well, apart from ONE small hill, it was all downhill from there. And the best part... it was mostly on dirt single-track or jeep roads. Those last 5 miles were bliss. With my IT band pain I wasn't really able to pick up the pace that much more, but I was finally able to find a rhythm, which seemed to be a challenge while running on slick rock.

Just like that, I found the finish line. Surprisingly 1h51m faster than in 2010. And this is without much training due to my injury. So... while my words in 2010 were: "Never again", now I wonder "What if I train better?" My plans post-TransRockies are a bit up in the air... and there are some things factoring in on my race to-do list, but if we're still a family of 3 (dog included), and no one else is on the way, you may just find me toeing the start line one more time...

And this is for Lindsay- "She never gave up". Literally.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Let's talk football...

If you know me, even a little bit, you'd expect me to be extremely angry about yesterday's football game. I am not. I'm a Broncos fan for life and while I'm a little bummed they didn't play their best, I'm proud of what my team has accomplished over the last couple of years.

Let me give you my (athlete) side of the story.

We all have off days. And unfortunately for the Broncos, Peyton had his off day yesterday. I will agree he did not play his best... but Peyton is not THE Broncos. There are many more men out there on the field wearing the same jersey. Our defense decided not to even show up to the game and special teams allowed quite a few points. So let me rephrase: "Every single Bronco player had an off day".

I understand this is the Super Bowl and they should've given it everything they had. What makes you think they didn't? How can you be 100% sure they didn't try as hard as they could? This is probably a good time for me to (very briefly) talk about my worst race this past year: The Bear Chase.

The Bear Chase in 2012 was my comeback to trail-running and ultra-running. It was a great day. During the 2013 season I trained hard and pushed my body to new limits challenging myself to do greater things (in running). I was looking forward to run Bear Chase in 2013. I knew it was a true test for me, the Super Bowl of my running season.

Despite my hard training, I was battling a cold. And that didn't stop me from running. But I didn't seem to be able to control my breathing on race day. The course changed slightly due to the floods and I was just not feeling it. I KNEW I was a better runner at that point than I was same time the previous year. Throughout the race I realized I was never gonna "catch up" to my 2012 time, let alone beat it. My new goal: just finish.

I finished. A whole hour slower than the previous year. Disappointing. But it's just me, and me alone who know how deep I dug and how hard I tried to just get to the finish line. I gave it my all, my body just wouldn't respond.

Sometimes you have to "just finish" and keep your head up... EVEN if it's not your best day
So, back to the Broncos. Disappointing. But I will cut them some slack... I've had my off days even on my most important days. Lucky for me, my results only matter to me. The Broncos... they have thousands of people to respond  to.

Have you had any off days on your big race day?

Saturday, February 1, 2014


The diagnosis is partly good and partly bad. Let's start with the bad so I can end this post on a positive note. 

I am injured. And I'm still in pain. Lots of pain. Turns out my back muscle (a huge one, by the way) is "fired up", as the doctor would say. It took a second after she looked at my back for her to say: "whoa! It's puffy!" Not a good thing, I guess. Somehow, I managed to really sprain this muscle. I still firmly believe it was the shoveling last Monday. While my muscle strained (and contracted) it started pulling all the lil ligaments and other connectors to the tailbone. Which subsequently decided to pull on my pelvis. End result: a rotated pelvis. The worst of it all is that it will not stop hurting until the pelvis is back in place which could take a few weeks to fix. If you haven't dealt with this injury let me say this: it hurts to walk, it hurts to sit (more than stand), it hurts to stand and bed rest isn't best for recovery. Joy. 

Summary: hurts like a beyotch! 

There's good news though!! As I see it, the diagnosis is great. The pain was so bad I had imagined the worst so this seems fixable. All I need to do is some PT for a few weeks. Also, like I said before, bed rest is bad for recovery in this specific case... So at least I'm glad I get to move around (even if it hurts). That said, doctor said they want me back at running ASAP and I should be the judge of that- I do find it great that I get to decide when to run, not doctors. She said to let pain be my guide. If pain is gone, pelvis is back in place and I can run again. It is NOT a running injury... But it'd help to go back to my regular massages. Tight glutes and IT band do not help, but massages remedy this. The one PT session along with my prescribed exercises have been making it feel better. And who doesn't like to lay down a few times a day with a warm heated pad? Oh! And hot baths have been prescribed, too. 

Summary: I can run as soon as the pain allows me to and enjoying wine in a hot tub has been prescribed by the doctor. Yaayy! 

Have you had any injuries that turned out to be "better" than what you had originally expected?