Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Thoughts - LJC50K

As always...one post wasn't enough for my race. So here's a few...no a lot of random thoughts about the LJC50K. ;)

*I forgot what poison oak looks like. They'd warned us that there would be some on the trail but I forgot to refresh my memory. I probably wouldn't have recognized it anyway. Luckily, I didn't land in any.

*There was a bunch of boy scouts out there on an overnight camp trip. I almost asked them for a lesson but didn't want to stop. I felt safer that they were out there though. In case anything happened.

*When I got to the top of the stick of the pink lollipop, there was a group of runners standing there debating which way they were supposed to go on the loop. I pulled out my map, checked, and then took off the way we were supposed to go. The others eventually followed me. Score one for me! :)

*I decided that it's a good thing that I'm a terrible judge of distance. When we were on the orange loop the first time and I could see runners at the top and they were tiny, tiny little ants…I was glad I didn't know how much farther I had to climb!

(This photo wasn't even taken from the top! Can you see the tiny, tiny runners behind me on the trail?)

*When I was out on the orange loop and feeling a little depressed because of the hamstring cramp, I got some very nice visitors. I ran/hiked with butterflies flitting around me for a lot of the climb. My very own trail guides. They made me smile.

*When I was on the last out-and-back, I kept looking at the ocean and wishing I could wade into it waist deep. But when I got back down to the car after I finished, I was moving so slowly, I didn't think I could make it across PCH without getting flattened like Wile E. Coyote.

*My Garmin data said 7:58 and 31.97 miles when I finished. I was really sad when I hit the top of the turn around and realized I’d be running more than 31 miles. Not fair. But that's okay. More miles for my buck.

*I wore my NB WT110s again. I finally figured out how to tie them so the laces wouldn't loosen. They were good all day.

*I had a hot spot on the bottom of my left foot that I thought would get a blister but it didn't. No blisters at all. Woo!

*My Athleta skirt was like a utility vest. I had all kinds of stuff stashed in it. Like the map I mentioned above. Totally awesome and comfortable. I highly recommend it.

*Really loving my tech Ts from Run It Fast (@RunItFast). I wore the Jackson Jackass 50K shirt and it was soft and really comfortable. No chafing. Also highly recommend it. Hey, did you know you get a tech T when you become a member of the Run It Fast Running Club? Check it out here.

*My Moving Comfort Vixen bra rubbed me raw on my back though. :(

*There was a guy on the trail wearing a cool Arrogant Bastard Ale shirt. I said “Hey, you have a bastard on your shirt and I have a jackass on mine.” He said “I'm sensing an irreverent theme here with trail runners.” I thought “damn straight”. That's why I like them. ;)

*The aid stations for the Coastal Trail Runs are awesome. They have everything from salt to sweet to sour. They have gummy bears, Swedish fish, M&Ms, and candy bars. They have cookies, pretzels, peanut butter pretzels, brownies, cinnamon buns, trail mix and animal crackers. They had bananas, oranges, watermelon, and cantaloupe. They had peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, boiled potatoes, and two soups. They had coke, sprite, Cliff stuff, cliff shots, and water.

*Except for when I finished, I had no problem eating anything and everything and I was very happy about that.

*Their volunteers were awesome too. Always helpful and making sure I had what I needed. They get an A+++

*I should have taken my 20oz bottle instead of my 10oz but I was expecting a marine layer all day. Next time…big bottle. One of the volunteers offered me his 20oz but I declined. I was good for all but the second orange loop. I ran out of water then and that probably contributed to the noodley legs.

Girl Stuff (fair warning...)
*There were lots of cute shorts and skirts there. I really liked the lulelemon shorts. I wish I could wear them. Alas, I need a little more coverage. Unless I wear them with tights. Hmmm...

*I started my period during the race. Luckily I was wearing a black skirt w/black shorts underneath so no one could tell. I'd actually worried about starting on Sunday but when I checked I thought I should be okay by a couple of days. But I guess not.

*So...the Old Goat 50 Mile is in one month and I'm usually very regular and that means I'll be dealing with it then too. Just flipping great. As if I won't have enough to worry about. Sheesh. I have to say Mother Nature is one cruel b!tch. Why I have to go thru this every month when I didn't/won't have kids is beyond me. I'd almost wish I could be late next month but with my luck it would mean I was pregnant.

Uh, sorry about that last one. :) So that's it. I can't think of anything else. Well, there was something but I can't remember what it was so you lucked out. Have a great Leap Day! Use your extra day wisely and run! Me? I plan to run commute.

Monday, February 27, 2012

La Jolla Canyon 50K Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran my second 50K – the La Jolla Canyon 50K in Malibu, California. It had a wee bit of climbing in it and I was running it only 3 weeks after my last 50K so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew for sure I wanted to beat my JJ50K time and there was a time limit of 8 ½ hours. I was sure I could do that but I guess I was hoping for big!

I took my mom to a belated birthday lunch on Saturday. We went to Mimis and I had the Jambalaya to start my carbo loading. I could only finish about half my order but I think I made it for it with soup, bread, and Birthday Cake pops at Starbucks after. :) I was fine all that day but just when I was about to go to bed, my mind started racing with what was going to happen on Sunday and I could not get it to shut up! I haven't had a night like that before a race in a long time. Anyway, I didn't get much sleep. :(

My alarm went off at 4 and I ate breakfast, got dressed, and packed up my bag w/my gear. The drive to Malibu took about 1 ½ hours and I arrived there at 7. I picked up my shirt and bib and then went back to the car to get ready. At 7:40, I headed to the race start. It wasn't very cold and there wasn't much of a marine layer so I left my arm warmers and gloves in the car.

There were 5 races happening on Sunday: a 5 mile, an 11 mile, a 30K, marathon, and the 50K. The 30K, marathon, and 50K started at 8. We gathered at the start line & the RD reminded us about the course markings and then we were off!

The course consisted of 2 lollipop loops and an out & back. We did the orange lollipop first (7.5ish miles), then the pink (11ish miles), then the orange again, and finally the out and back which was the “stick” of the pink lollipop (up to the yellow arrow – 5.5ish miles).

We were pretty much going up or down the whole 50K. It was a definite roller coaster ride!

We started off uphill right away. It wasn't too bad though. The “stick” of the orange lollipop was really rocky and it was slow going the first loop with the train of runners going thru it. It was pretty though. Once we passed that section, it was a really nice single track up to the top with some awesome views. Mostly. The marine layer had come in and it made it very cool and added an air of mystique to the trail.

I felt really good and passed a few people on the way up. I'd decided to run what I could (flatish, not steep ups & the downs) and hike the rest. My legs felt great though and so did I. Once over the top, it was nice long downhill sweep back to the start. It took us inland and it was more of a grassy double track for a while. The view here was pretty cool too.

I caught the runner in the pic above and we ran together for a lot of it. I told her to let me know if she wanted to go by and she said she was using me as her pacer. Ha! But kind of cool. I was bummed that she was wearing headphones so we didn't talk much.

I made it back to the start and stopped at the aid station to refill my bottle and grab some food. The plan was to eat mostly real food in practice for my 50 miler next month. I grabbed pretzels and a few oreos and headed out.

The pink loop was harder in that we had to climb twice during it but it was a much smoother single track. I caught up to some of the runners who'd passed me and I spent most of the first uphill in the pink lollipop talking to a guy named Rowell. We compared favorite races and talked future races and it was fun having someone to talk to. The sun was out and the climb was exposed so I got hot and started sweating. On this side, we could really hear the waves crashing on the shore and feel the breeze coming off the ocean so it was still really nice. The downhill after the summit was a great reward but I didn't push it because I knew I had a lot more ahead of me and I didn't want to blow my quads.

I made it to the 2nd aid station at mile 13.5 in about 2:50ish. I got some coke this time, more pretzels, a couple of oreos and some orange slices. While they were filling my bottle for me, I noticed a bowl of Scaps and realized I hadn't taken any yet! Doh! I couldn't believe it. I had six in my pocket but had completely forgotten. I was way behind schedule on them but I just took one and then headed out. I tried to keep my time at the aid stations to just a couple of minutes.

After this, we headed inland so we lost the breeze and then it was back uphill. And boy was it. Mile 16 was a soul sapping, leg depleting, killer, hot climb. It was about here that my stomach said “you know, I've seen better days”. It wasn't that I was nauseous, it was just uncomfortable and achy and was like that the rest of the day (I figured out after that it was because I started and it was menstrual cramps...damn it!). Anyway, my stomach didn't really appreciate the downhill after I got over the top but my legs sure did. I got back to the start at about 12:15 pm. And that was about 19 miles. I had just 12 miles to go and I was thinking I could get in under 7 hours. I thought for sure I could do it because I wasn't tired yet and my legs and feet were doing okay.

This time, at the aid station, I grabbed some potatoes w/ salt, peanut butter pretzels, and a mini brownie, filled my water bottle and headed out. The climb up thru the rocky section was quiet and I could go at my own pace. I liked it because there was shade and it was interesting. Once I hit mile 20 though…bam! My right hamstring started cramping. I could still keep moving but I’d have to stop to stretch it once in a while. So I didn't do much running up hill on that loop. :( At least the views were distracting!

I did suck down a gu and take another Scap hoping it would help and I think it did because once I got up to a flat section, I could run again.

The run through the valley was lonely. There were hikers out but I didn't see any runners til I caught up with a man near the end. He passed me back going thru the rocky section because my legs suddenly turned to noodles and I was pretty shaky going down that section. I fell once but it was nothing big. And another time I jumped off a boulder and landed on a rock which hurt like heck. But other than that, I made it thru in one piece which I was very grateful for. 26.5 miles done. Just 5ish to go!

I took longer at the aid station back at the start this time. More potatoes. A lot of Sprite because I was super thirsty. And watermelon just seemed so yummy I wanted to take the whole plate. But I didn't. When I was coming down that last mile, that stupid devil on my shoulder said “You could drop after this loop and just finish as a marathoner”. I admit, I thought about it for a while. But when I got to the aid station, I didn't even think about it. I was in “you're in it this far, see it thru to the end” mode. So I headed out for the out-and-back.

And bam! The cramping was back in my right hamstring. This time the glute decided it needed to join the party too. I seriously sucked at electrolyte replacement during this run. I had a really nice coat of salt over all exposed skin. I must have looked like a ghost! I popped another Scap and kept hiking up the hill. And up and up. The hamstring complaining the whole way. I tried to focus on the sound of the waves to drown it out. It worked some. Mostly, I wasn't thinking. Just moving. When I got to the turn-around at the top, I looked at my garmin and calculated that if I ran down, I could make it in under 8 hours and it would be a PR. That thought gave me enough motivation to run it down. You don't know how badly I wanted to just walk. But I didn't. And I made it back in 7:58 and change! My second 50K was done. Finally. :)

The assistant RD was waiting for me at the finish line, said "Congratulations Lisa" and handed me my coaster. I hobbled over to the food and nothing looked appetizing. The woman who'd been manning the aid station all day gave me a cold Sprite and I had 1/2 a banana and then went to sit down for a little bit.
As I was sitting there, I heard the assistant RD call my name and ask if I was still around. I yelled that I was and she told me to wait that she had something for me. She said "You were 3rd in your Age Group" and handed me my AG award. I said "So there were only 3 of us, huh?" And she laughed and said that more had signed up but didn't show today. So I was 3rd out of 3 in the W40-49 age group. See...it pays to show up!

Then I walked down to my car and took off my shoes and tried to put on my other pair. I couldn't tie them though because my hamstring was cramping again. I sat there for a while watching the water and listening to the waves. I finished off the Sprite and had an protein bar and by then I could tie my shoes and felt recovered enough to drive home. I stopped just before home and had pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and bacon and ate every last crumb! By then I was starving.

The day didn't go the way I'd hoped but I am happy that I shaved 45 min off my previous 50K time and on a very tough course too. I still have a lot to learn but I think I'm getting better with each race!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. One more very cool thing happened...I did an interview for Ashley over at Ultra Chicks Unite (@UltraChixUnite) and she posted it today. Check it out!
My Interview

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Patience And The UltraRunner

I don't know if you know this but one of my hobbies is photography (my website: www.lmg-images.com). I love to shoot everything from landscapes to portraits to cars to sports to the wild ones. Like the coyote above. Truthfully, the coyote isn't wild. It was taken at the Living Desert here in Southern California.

Photography taught me patience. It taught me to wait for the moment. To wait for the light. To wait for the "perfect" shot. I think learning to take photographs with film did that a lot more than digital cameras do today. Way back then, we hoarded our shots because we only had so many shots per roll, sometimes as little as 1 or 6 for my larger format cameras. You didn't want to lose out on a shot that happened later because you were too impatient and used up all of your film. And film wasn't cheap either, especially b&w film and it's processing.

So, I learned to be patient and to wait for the shot that I wanted. I can't tell you how many times I got up before dawn to drive somewhere and wait for a sunrise. Or wait at the end of the day for the golden hour. Or just wait to see what would/could happen. Like this shot of the coyote above. I waited outside their enclosure and watched them through my camera for a looong time. But it was worth it when he kindly stepped into the light to pose for me. It's all about the light, baby!

The thing is, I've been very impatient with myself and ultrarunning. Part of my problem is that I see others jump in and take off into the ultra world and I want to do that. I want to be running crazy a$$ long races in wild places. Now. And not just finish but run strong through the whole thing. But that takes time. If I'm smart about it, I'll learn what I need to first and build up to it. Like I did with photography.

After the Jackson Jackass 50K, I was really frustrated with how crappy my running was. My legs were dead. Everything hurt. I had zero energy. I wasn't enjoying my runs and it was really, really, really frustrating. REALLY. I'd signed up for the La Jolla Canyon 50K and then I was doubting whether or not I would even be able to do it. Then a kind soul on twitter reminded me that I'd done two ultras in a month and that they'd be on the couch if it were them. Huh. I'd forgotten that.

I think I was thinking I was invincible. That my super recovery powers would kick in and I'd be super speedy Lisa (speed is relative!) again in no time. I'm finally feeling like that now. I just needed the time to recover. If I'd had a little bit more patience with myself, I would have been a lot less frustrated. Lesson learned. Hopefully. I can't say I won't be cranky again but I will remember to treat EVERY race with the respect I should and allow proper recovery time. Not just jump right back into it and expect to be 100%.

So...going into this weekend's 50K, I'm feeling pretty good. I think I feel stronger going into this than I did going into the Jackson Jackass 50K. My entire body feels pretty solid right now (even my arm & shoulder) and my legs feel awesome. So I have big hopes for Sunday. I'm still not sure how hard I'm going to race it. I'm hoping that I'll put up a respectable showing. :) I'll have 4 weeks to recover from it before running my 50 miler so I think I can run hard.

I was really nervous about this weekend last week but now I'm really excited to see what happens. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lower Monroe Truck Trail

"Gonna keep on tryin' til I reach the highest ground." ~Red Hot Chili Peppers - Higher Ground

Today, I conquered one of my fears. I ran up a mountain. By myself! :)

I needed to do it. I had to do it. My fear was holding me back and I had to prove to myself that I could be out there on my own and be okay.

I was supposed to go to Laughlin this weekend. Today was my mom's 65th birthday and we were all going to meet there to celebrate it. But I had a message from her waiting for me when I got back from my 17miler yesterday that said the trip was cancelled because she had the flu. Poor mom. She sounded miserable and so sad that her bday trip was spoiled. :(

So, suddenly I had a chance to run the trails in our mountains this morning. I picked Lower Monroe Truck Trail in Glendora so I could visit my grandpa after (the trailhead is 15 min from his house) & take him to lunch for his birthday which is Tuesday.

I decided to take Mystic Canyon Trail (MC) to get to Lower Monroe Truck Trail (LMTT) so I parked on Big Dalton Road (the white circle at the bottom) which is the trail head for MC & Big Dalton. MC climbs up in the area of the white square on the map and meets up with LMTT (the distinct white trail). The trail to the left of the square is Poop-Out Trail (PO) which is REALLY steep. I'm not sure why it's on the map and MC isn't. Maybe because MC is mysterious? ;)

Anyway...MC was pretty steep in some places as well and I probably did 70% hiking to 30% running. It was fun though. This is one of the flatter sections:

Once I reached the meeting point for PO, MC, and LMTT, I stopped to enjoy the view...
(same view from a higher ridge later)...then headed north on LMTT and it flattened out a little so I could do more running. My run up the mountain was quiet. Just me & the birds and some other small animals I heard rustling in the bushes. I did pass one other woman hiking on MC and one mt biker coming down LMTT but other than that, I had the trail to myself. It was pretty nice. All I heard was my breathing. And the occasional souped up bike racing down the mountain on Glendora Mountain Road.

There were 2 sections where the trail had washed away/eroded and there was just a sliver of trail left. I was nervous crossing them both times going up & down but I did it without falling down the side of the mountain. I think that was my biggest worry. That I would trip and fall off the side of the trail and no one would find me. Yes, I have an overactive imagination. But it could happen. Right?

To be honest, I was a little worried about some of the bigger animals as well. There are mountain lions and bears and rattlesnakes up there. Some of my friends who ride up there have had run-ins. But I didn't see any. Thankfully.

I spent a little too much time sightseeing and taking pictures so I didn't go all the way to the top like I'd planned. I'd told my grandpa I would be at his house by 11 and I didn't want to be late and make him worry so I turned around when I got to the top of the ridge (the top white circle in the map above). It's hard to see but there is a tiny little offshoot just at that junction and there are a bunch of bee hives there. I didn't hear any bees though. These are some of the views from my summit (3280ft):

The run down was a lot more fun and took a lot less time. It was also more social as I saw a couple more runners, mt bikers, and hikers w/dogs. When I got back to the MC/LMTT/PO juncture, I stopped to take my phone off airplane mode and took a moment to figure out which trail I was going to take the rest of the way. I kind of wanted to stay on LMTT but that would have added more than a mile and I didn't think I'd have time for that. Poop-Out also would have taken me away from where I parked and meant some road running so I decided to go ahead and head down Mystic Canyon.

And then I was done! I made it back to the car! 2 1/2 hrs running/hiking for the day. I was tired & a little sore, but in one piece. It was a great feeling. 1185ft to 3280ft. ~2100ft of climbing for the day. Not bad. Didn't get lost. Didn't fall off the mountain. Did a little climbing. It was a pretty darn good morning. :)

I took it easy up there today because my quads were sore from yesterday's run and my 50K is one week away but I will definitely come back in the next few weeks. If I park on Glendora Mountain Road, I can do all of LMTT (which includes multiple stream crossings) and I'll give myself enough time to go all the way to the top.

I definitely think I'm ready to take advantage of living in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains! I've got my big girl panties on now!

How about you? Do you/did you have any fears when it comes to running? How did you overcome them?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Better Than Disneyland - Run It Fast The Club

Oh, sure...Disneyland is fun. But you know what's more fun?

Run It Fast - The Club!

Today, I joined the Run It Fast Running Club. I'm really excited about this because I love being a part of the running community and I think the club will let me be more involved with it. I've looked high and low for a running club where I live, but there just aren't any nearby. One of the sucky things about living in SoCal is that everything is so spread out and when you've made a commitment not to drive, that makes it hard to do fun stuff that's 20/30 miles away. Unless it's a race, of course. :)

Joshua Holmes (@bayou) is the man behind Run It Fast and he has a passion for running that is out of this world. He also has a passion for helping runners and that's why he started Run It Fast. The best part is…you don't have to be “fast” to be part of the community! Like he says “Everyone's ‘Fast’ is relative and 100% subjective.” Take it from a girl who's faster in her head than in her legs…he really means it. Not only that, but everyone I have met through Run It Fast has been absolutely amazing in terms of encouragement and support and they feel the EXACT same way. It’s all about the love of running at Run It Fast.

Now, that isn't to say they aren't competitive or that I can't be competitive with them. (I've got my eye on that points system for runner of the year he mentioned!). But it's way more about having fun and sharing.

If you've always wanted to be a part of a running club but don't have access to one near you (or even if you do), I encourage you to check out the Run It Fast Running Club. You get a Run It Fast Tech shirt when you sign up and that alone is worth it! I have one already and it is the softest, most comfortable tech shirt I own. I would sleep in it if I could. By the way, it really does get you a lot of support/comments while you are racing which I found out at the Rock & Roll Vegas and during my 12HR.

And who knows? You might find other runners in your area through Run It Fast that you didn't know. It's gonna be a blast. Come join the party!
Run It Fast - The Club!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


So with last week's 50K in Tennessee, I've now run in 8 states (the blue states)! I've visited the pink states and I hope to visit/run in the green states this year. As you can see, I haven't done a whole lot of traveling around the US but running has changed/will change that! Also obviously, living in California, I've got the Western part of the US pretty much covered. ;)

Anyway, I hope to run in every state and I plan on saving Alaska & Hawaii for last. Some states will be easier to find runs in than others I think. And some states have too many great runs that keep luring me back to them (TN, AZ, NV). I seriously need to win the lottery to fund these adventures! Did I mention that I want to celebrate my 50th birthday by running the Loch Ness Marathon and by riding my bike across the US? Yeah, I'm gonna need some serious funding. Maybe I can sell my cat...

So...I've visited some very cool places and that's one of my criteria for choosing the runs that I do. It's why I chose the Mohawk Hudson Marathon instead of the New York Marathon. I don't need big. I need beautiful or interesting. I need history or adventure. I need someplace that my camera will be happy too.

These are some of my favorites memories from my runcations:

Me & the Seattle Troll

The view from the ferry to Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound:

Graceland in Memphis:

The 911 Memorial in Albany, NY:

Zion in Utah:

Running on Hayward Field in Eugene, OR:

I have had a lot of fun on all my runcations and seen/learned a lot. I can't wait for the next one (which will hopefully be South Dakota in August).

How many states have you run in? Do you want to run in all 50 states? How do you pick the races you do?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Random Thoughts - Jackson Jackass 50K

My race recap was pretty long, I know, but I have a few more thoughts about the weekend I would like to share.

*This was the first race where I was the last person across the line. I’d always been worried about that before but knew going into this there was a high probability. I was okay with it.

*However, I really thought I would finish in less than 7 hours and was slightly mortified when I figured out I’d go past 8 hours. Then 8 ½ hours. There was a bit where I even regretted the fact that I hadn't brought a headlamp or my Knuckle Lights because I was afraid I might need them! But at least I finished in less than 8:45 (8:43:22)! Woo! Full results here. Don't get me wrong...I am very proud of finishing the JJ50K. I just hate being that slow and timid. I may have mentioned that my pride was in ICU on twitter. I was trying to convince another runner that his pride shouldn't be wounded since he finished before me but, I don't know, maybe I believed it a little. Then I got this...
It was a good reminder of this...

*The JJ50K was HARD. Definitely the hardest race I've done so far. The 12 HR was longer but was a cake walk by comparison (literally since we were running in circles!). With the 12 HR, I was able to "check out" while running. There was no doing that with the JJ50K. After the 12 HR, my legs were toast. After the JJ50K, my body was toast. I felt like I'd been wrestling an alligator in the mud all day. And I looked like it too. :) My brain was exhausted too. It was like being at 110% attention the whole time. More than 8 hours of being on edge. Even when I was at the aid station, there was no rest since I was constantly calculating time/needs/plans.

*I loved the twisty, turny, ups & downs of the course and running thru the trees. It felt very...primal out there. My trails are more sweeping. Long, sweeping hills, no tree cover, rocky w/cactus. I can see far ahead and forever on my trails. This course had a very narrow focus. You better pay attention to what's right in front of you if you don't want to hit a root or a tree. I liked that. Kept me from daydreaming which I have a tendency to do. I thought it was pretty too. The rain had saturated everything and deepened the colors. It made for a very earthy palette.

*I didn't do very well with nutrition & drink during the race. I tried to figure out how much I took in during the race in calories and I think it was around 1100 calories. If that. I probably drank maybe 40/45 oz. I'd planned on using this for a test of what I'd do for my 50 miler in March but didn't stick to my plan. I definitely need to work on that.

*Looking at my splits, I got about 5 minutes slower each loop. But I think I finished that last little loop pretty strong? I expected to be thoroughly wiped at the end with noodley legs but I felt pretty good. These are my splits:
*The one thing I enjoyed most about the day was the camaraderie. It was funny because when I was meeting everyone, I constantly heard "You must be Lisa" or I'd introduce myself and they'd say "I know". It made me feel infamous in a way. Or that I screamed Californian. ;) But I figured it was because they all knew it each other. Tennessee seems to have a very tight running community even with all of them being spread out so much. I really miss not having that here and I need to find that or create that. All of us at the start:
Fun crew!

I want to finish off this post with two of my favorite pictures from the day. This one I like because I look so happy. :) I don't usually like photos of myself but this one shows perfectly what I felt: tired, dirty, but very, very happy.

And this is another of my favorites. Me with the guys who celebrated my finish with me! It's only missing Jeff (who was taking the photo). This is me with (fr left to right) Dallas, Chris, Joshua, and Naresh.

All the photos in this post were courtesy of Naresh! You can see more of his photos from the race here:
Jackson Jackass 50K Photos

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jackson Jackass 50K Race Report

You know how when you were a kid, you'd be super excited about Christmas and then be disappointed because you got clothes & underwear? Yeah, that didn't happen on my trip to Tennessee. It was the best trip ever! Even with the mud and the rain...maybe because of it actually...the Jackson Jackass 50K was a wild, fun ride.

I flew to Tennessee on Thursday so I could have a nice easy day on Friday. The flights went well and I arrived in Memphis about 2:30. I drove downtown to check out Beale St. for a while and then drove to Jackson.

On Friday, I decided to check out the trail for Saturday. I probably shouldn't have but I was a little nervous about it. I didn't run the whole thing and that was probably a good thing because if I'd known what was waiting for me, I would have really freaked out! When I was done, I had a message from Joshua (@bayou) and I met him and Jonathan (@JonathanBobbitt) for lunch at Jimmy Johns. It was a fun lunch. Those two crack me up and it was great to finally meet Jonathan.

After lunch, I went to the store to get supplies for my drop bag and then went back to the hotel to put my feet up until dinner. Just before 5:30, I walked over to meet Dallas (@smithbend) at the old Country Store where we were meeting the others for dinner. We had hot chocolate in the Ice Cream Shoppe while we talked and he signed one of his books I'd brought with me. Pretty soon the other started showing up and what do you know...I was the only woman! Me and 9 Southern Gentlemen. I may have been a little quiet because I was enjoying listening to them talk. I love southern accents. Sigh. ;) But seriously, everyone was very nice and the food was delicious. I ate too much but couldn't help it! It was the best pre-race dinner I've ever had. Good food, good company, lots of running talk...what more could a runner girl ask for?

When I got back to the hotel, I put my feet up again and went to bed about 11, I think. I woke up the next morning to the sound of pouring rain. Good thing too because I forgot to set the alarm! Doh! Ate breakfast, finished packing my drop bag, got dressed, and headed to the race. I met Dallas and Emily (@trailjunke) in the parking lot and we walked over to the start. I met all the others I hadn't met which was fun and so cool to finally put real faces to all te twitter names I've been following.

The Race
It was still raining a little bit but it wasn't cold. We gathered at the start and Naresh sent us off into the wilds of Jackson. ;) OK, not really but it certainly felt like it. Yes, I was scared. I run trails at home a lot. Single track, hills, rocks. But not mud. I thought I had hidden my fear but Josh told me later he saw it on my face. It wasn't that I didn't think I could do the distance. I just didn't know if I could handle what the day had in store for me. So I let everyone go in front of me so I wouldn't slow anyone down. I found Josh waiting for me at two points on the course to give me advice and I was really thankful for that. Other than that, I was on my own most of the time.

The first lap was the hardest. I fell twice in the mud and I was really, really frustrated with how slow I was and how terrible I was doing with the mud. I'd tried to catch myself both times with my right arm and my shoulder was not a happy camper. It still wasn't 100% from whatever I did a couple of weeks ago and didn't even like carrying my bottle in that hand. But it wasn't a game changer. Just one more thing I was frustrated with. I would like to apologize for the 2 times I jerked it hard and let out a bad word or three! Anyway... I finally gave myself a firm taking to and told myself to get over the pity party. To stop thinking about it and just do it and concentrate on getting the current lap done.

I was feeling good in the beginning. Legs felt good. I felt good. When I got thru the first loop, I felt better. There wasn't anything I couldn't handle as long as I paid attention. The second loop was pretty uneventful. Two more falls, more slides really, and I was still worried about my overall time (didn't want the guys to have to wait around for me) but I just kept moving.

However, the third loop was miserable. Right as I left the aid station, my stomach went wonky. I figured it would get better but I stopped eating and drinking to give it a chance to settle. I thought I might throw up a couple times and maybe it would have helped if I did, but no. When I got back to the aid station, I didn't know what to do as far as food/drink goes. I didn't want to give up my gu brew yet so didn't get any water. Naresh (@iamarunr) talked me into some pretzels and I grabbed a handful and left for loop 4. About half way through that loop, my stomach felt normal and then it was never an issue again. I think I fell once on loop 3 and once on loop 4 so my average was going down! Woo! Things were looking up!

I realized while I was into loop 4 that I was half way thru the race but at no time did I ever think of the race in terms of miles. I didn't wear my Garmin so had no idea what mile I was on ever. I'm kind of glad. Anyway, I was getting passed by the fast guys and Emily and I would move off to the side and watch them go by marveling at how fast and strong they were running. That was a very cool aspect of a loop course. Usually fast runners are way out in front and you never see them. But this course gave me that chance and they all had encouraging words for me which helped a lot. In fact, I got way more encouragement out there than I gave. I would see glimpses of other runners but without my glasses, I couldn't always tell for sure who they were unless I remembered what they were wearing. I enjoyed my brief moments with Jeff, Jonathan, Emily, Dallas, and Josh. Emily made sure to remind me that she'd brought potatoes, pretzels, & pb&js and that might help my stomach. Dallas ran with me for a while on one of my laps and that was very cool.

I tried to finish my gu brew before I got back to the aid station so I could switch to my water bottle. I realized that I'd only had 20 oz of liquid in more than 4 1/2 hours and that probably wasn't a good thing! On the next pass thru, I did grab my bottle with water and some potatoes w/salt and some peanut butter crackers I'd brought. Laps 5 & 6 went well. They passed in kind of a blur. I'd learned where my bad patches were so I could avoid falling again. In fact, I have to say I really enjoyed those laps. I'm not sure why but when I was in the "lost" section, I found myself singing as I ran. I don't think anyone was around to hear me, but if you heard a coyote howling...that was me. ;) I couldn't remember many songs though so went to some old faves: Amazing Grace, You Are My Sunshine, The Jello commercial jingle (watch it wiggle, see it jiggle...), and an old lullaby my aunt used to sing to me. Strange choices, I know, but they made me smile.

After one of these laps, I remember being super, super thirsty and Naresh filled my bottle, waited for me to drink it, then filled it again. He talked me into more food and I took some pb&j and some potato. Heading out to the last lap, Josh gave me some Aleve. My shoulder was killing me. I'd tried not to use that arm at all but had to at the rope section and a couple of other muddy hills and had used it to stop a couple of slides. But my poor left arm did most of the work that day. The Aleve helped a lot.

Finally, finally, finally...I was on my last lap! I kept thinking as I passed through some of the muddy sections "yay, I don't have to do that again!" I was going along pretty well and then BAM! Caught my foot on a root and went down onto my left side! Thank god. I landed on my knee and shoulder but the nice thing about the trail was that it was nice and soft from all the mud. Picked myself up, dug my bottle out of the mud, cleaned it off with a leaf, and went on my way. I didn't sing on that lap really. Just a little Amazing Grace. Figured I could use all the help I could get. ;)

And then I saw heaven. As you got near to the aid station, you could glimpse the blue tarp there thru the trees. And then the guys would start shouting encouragement and it would make me so happy to hear them and know I was close that I'd pick it up a little. I never saw them at that point but it was comforting to know they were there. Then I'd turn the corner and usually see Naresh waiting for me. But this time was different! You see, when you finished the 7th loop, you had one more mini loop of less than a mile to do. When i finished loop 7, Josh and Naresh were waiting for me. I didn't stop and then surprise! Josh joined me for my last loop! He told me to do whatever, he was just going to keep me company. And then we heard someone behind us and it was Naresh! He joined me for my last loop too! I cannot even begin to tell you how much it meant to me to have them with me for that last loop. The two of them have inspired me no end and not just because they are two of the toughest ultrarunners I know but because they are two of the nicest, most generous men I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Perfect example...Josh had a cracked rib and Naresh had hurt his knee. Neither of them should have been running but they ran with me to celebrate my finish. :) That is what I'm talking about when I say they are generous. I would have cried they made me so happy but there's no crying in ultrarunning. :)

So...we turned that last corner and I was done! Josh gave me my medal and we took some pictures and it was the most fun and satisfying finish of all my races. My second ultra and my first 50k. Woo! Josh had asked me while we were running if this had been harder than the 12 HR I did and I said yes. It was much more difficult and challenging and intense. But also a lot more fun to run with so many people I'd gotten to know. And the challenge made the finish that much more satisfying! I did it!

Post Race
I was the last one to finish so when I was done we cleaned up the area and went back to the cars. We made plans to eat together after and decided on Coyote Blues. Ha! Loved that! I'd told them I was dreaming of burritos that last lap and Coyote Blues was a Cajun Mex restaurant. I went back to the hotel and took the fastest shower of my life! And one of the messiest. Mud everywhere! But I was hungry! Coyote Blues was a lot of fun. I had some crab enchiladas and they were delicious. And then I had dessert. Oh yeah! Raspberry cheesecake. I can't even remember the last time I had cheesecake. It was all good. The conversations were the best though. I had a great time hearing about the adventure of the others. Then dinner was over and I went back to the hotel and made like a spud. I was wiped! I didn't feel too bad though. I had some scratches from sliding into trees, raw spots where, my belt rubbed, and an achy shoulder/arm but otherwise I was good. Not even any blisters which I thought for sure I had (it must have been the mud that saved me - like a spa mud treatment for my feet because they sure were soft after! Ha!).

A Big Thank You
I cannot end this post without saying thank you to these people:

Josh - Thank you for inviting me and believing in me. For all the work you put into the race and for being a great host. For seeing my fear and being encouraging. And especially for running with me at the end,

Naresh - Thank you for being Race Director, crew, and course photographer! I know you must have been disappointed that you couldn't run but you always had a huge smile and tons of encouragement & advice. And thank you for running with me so I could see the Bedrock sandals at work!

Jeff - Thank you for the work you also put into the race and on the trail and for your encouragement while I ran!

Jonathan - Thank you for giving us all a reason to run together and get cool bling. I really appreciated your encouragement out there too. And not once did I curse your name. ;)

Dallas - Thank you for inspiring me and for coming all that way to run with us even though you don't do trails. For pacing me and encouraging me. For signing my book, for our Hot Chocolate "date", and for buying me dinner.

Emily - Thank you for bringing real food! Potatoes are my favorite ultra food! And thanks for your encouragement as well.

I am grateful that Josh, Jeff, Dallas, Chris, and Naresh waited SO long for me to finish and made me feel like a rock star at the end. I'm so grateful I finished. And I'm grateful I didn't see any bears or bobcats, just a squirrel. Squirrel!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah. Most of all, I'm grateful I had the opportunity to visit a great state and meet some awesome runners!

I have to say that for a first 50k, the Jackson Jackass 50k was a pretty epic one! Did I mention I love the medal? Sweet bling!

Well, that's it for today. Thanks for reading!