Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wasatch and everything after

It's been 2 weeks and 3 days since I finished Wasatch.  I wrote my last blog entry in a bit of a hasty high, and have had ample time to reflect on that so hard to depict weekend. I've read every race report posted to facebook; some technical blurbs about nutrition and hydration, pack choices, and brand dropping. I've read disappointed runners blogs who had big problems and had to end their journey early- those people I can feel through the screen.  I've even read a few disappointed runners blogs who actually finished in top 10 - those people I can't relate to.  That is a field I will never be in, in these extremely tough mountain races I choose to do. But, a struggle nonetheless when competition and winning is what drives you. 

I won't go into detail about fuel and hydration, as it really is boring. And, as I continue to learn, it's a personal science experiment over many training runs and races.  Races always have super highs and lows, for me. Which isn't surprising given my personality which parallels that good and bad, happy and sad, manic bursts of heaven, and teary smacks of grief.  

I understand why race reports are so long. You start from the beginning, or even before- months before the start line even. I'll start with the night before. I poured a glass of wine and sat in the living room with my husband. It was 9:00pm. Cheryl would text me "here" from her car idling out front in 6 1/2 hours. My stomach was so sick with jitters, I couldn't eat dinner.  I couldn't drink that wine I poured, but I could cry. And, I did. My lips just started to quiver and I cupped my face in my hands and cried.  What's wrong, Nat? "I'm pretty scared, this is going to be really, really hard" Yeah, it is. 

I tried to sleep- not a wink. My nerves had me shaking and my heart beat skyrocketed for hours. The only service I did to myself was drink water in the dark as I rolled from back to belly over, and over, and over, again. I just wanted the race to start- I just wanted the anticipation of the Wasatch 100 to end, and get on with it. And , then it did.

Many race reports, including my previous, talked about the heat. It was hot. Dry, dusty, and then it got hotter. My contacts were covered in a film of dust, and my vision blurred from mile 15 -75 when I finally reached Brighton- 28 hours from the start line,where I took them out and cleaned them with saline. I could finally see clearly after 60 miles.

Frankly- although slow. The climbs did not overwhelm me. And, it's the pat on the back Ill give myself. Any chance I could , I climbed. I slugged out the Speedgoat 50k, which has some of the most challenging climbs I've ever done in a race where your legs are trashed. I didn't find any of the climbs to be too much. So- yay me, I trained for the tough stuff. The fatigue surprised me worst of all. Even with newborns in the past who didn't sleep and were breastfed and I didn't know what day it was or if it were morning or night. I've never been so tired that I fell asleep standing up. That was unexpected- not the fatigue itself, but the INTENSE fatigue.

 The thing that got me through the Wasatch 100 was positive people and just a few encouraging words.  You help the runner, you push the runner, you tell her she looks great when she looks like shit, you do all that even if you don't think she has a chance in hell; because we are fighters- and I'd rather go out swinging in a sleepy stupor than say let's call it a day.

It's easy to say keep going, one foot in front of the other, eat, drink, move. But, it's hard to do, your body and mind don't always agree. You have to fight and dissect, destroy, burn your limits and fear. Easy to say, and not so easy to always do. The things that kept me from going over the edge and dropping were the people.  The people in my life who were rooting for me, who crewed me, who took off from their jobs and their lives to devote double digit, 24+ hours to me, my family watching the tracking at home,  worried that I wasn't going to make it to the finish in time, which turned out to be  my fastest 25 miles of the day. My friends who have taught me so much about mountain running and ultra running and myself. I couldn't stop, I couldn't call it quits, no matter how many times it crossed my mind. All that anticipation that kept me up Thursday night was fear and accountability, it was the fear of not being able to deliver what my family, myself, my friends were waiting for, the finish.

Wasatch100 2015
"It was totally like heaven and hell" -me.

I've got some aches, but I'm resting. My Wasatch high is coming to an end and the blues of it all being over have set in this week. I'll certainly put in for Wasatch again. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

WASATCH 100 ChugaChugaChugaChugaChooChoo

This could be one of the longest posts in my life, but I'll try not to bore you or myself with the minuscule details of my go at the Wasatch 100. Well, maybe a few

Weather plays a large part in a race, namely heat. You know what I was missing more than anything Friday at 2:00pm- winter, snow, hail, icy trails, a freezer to stick my head in. ICE and Popsicle at aid stations were like, like, like I don't know ice in the desert- oh, right. It was EXACTLY like having ice in a desert.

The discomfort of running in a furnace is not only not fun, but it takes endurance running to a different level that involves more thinking, which the ability to do such a thing as think oozes out your ears and pores with hydration- or maybe when you confirm your registration for these types of events. It's an all day, every half hour, at least, body check and re-up of something- salt, water, food, sugar, salt, water, tums, sugar, salt, water, I cant eat that GU , Cheryl!, salt, water, food..run?! Shit. No, like I have to shit. can't stop. cut offs, salt, watch, how many miles to Big mountain?! Salt, water, foo-ewww-d. cow bells. sit, re-up, back out.

The sun certainly depleted me faster than usual, and I did my very best to keep my self upright and moving. I did pretty well, I went very slow, as I had no other choice.

Pacers: I had 3 pacers for Wasatch. Nancy 39-53. She had me as I really began to struggle with food. EVERYTHING tasted like vomit and shit. There's just no other way to explain it. Ive said this a few times over the last few training runs- the hardest part of an ultra for me is having to eat.You can't get around it, Ive tried- you will never win that battle- or it wont be pretty if you do. Thank you Nancy for getting small bites in me often.
Pacer 2: Betsy. Betsy got me at Lambs Canyon, late...11:00pm, 17 hours in,  2 hours after my conservative estimation. 53-75, I met the sleepy monster and the mental demon. I know she didn't think I could or should go on.  Shit, I was beginning to doubt my ability. But a man told me, as I was contemplating her making the phone call that I was done, "don't quit, it will get better, keep going". I don't know who you were kind man, but thank you, thank you so much. I was talking nonsense and wobbling off trail. Betsy, Thank you for the poles, and for making me drink and eat your gross Mozzarella and pastrami;) It was a slow march to Brighton, but I just kept going- If I wasn't going to succeed, I was certainly going to go out fighting.. Thank you for the help, the time, the laughs- (although, those were pretty much due to my extraordinary humor that comes with downtrodden pain)-see, how I do that? ;)  It was slow and long, but we got there. 
Pacer 3: My Partner in crime- stuck in traffic from a road marathon! Of all the things to hold her up it was roadies;) We busted it like I was on fresh legs, like I was racing. The climbs hurt, hitting the highest part of the race, 10,400 at Sunset pass. I could feel the energy and oxygen coming back to me as we dropped, dropped, dropped, and then the heat started to suck it out, out, out. But, we were running! 25 miles, we ran! It was awesome. It hurt like hell. At one point , maybe 8 miles from the finish I thought run, it's all going to fucking hurt anyway! . Cheryl was reading me texts from my sister, Go Nat Go! Texts that my dad was following, my family cheering me on from Baltimore,Texts from her husband and my friend, Karl Meltzer, the Speedgoat; gogogogogogo! A text from Scott, my husband a video from my kids, "Push!!!!" There were no low points the last stretch, just determination, focus, and lots of cold water poured on my head and down my shirt, heart stopping cold water that felt so damn good.
THE ROAD- 3/4 of a mile up the black top to Soldier Hollow. Jill was following in the car, "You've got time, but you have to trot!" Me: ok. Then beeping behind me, my husband, my babies! Yelling out the window, just making it to the finish, cheering me on as I gave everything I had to that last bit of running! "Cheryl, what's our time, can I walk?" "we have time, but you can't walk, we can slow down". Me: Ok. Christian, Betsy J's husband, ran up to give us ice, the road was ending, the grass was getting closer! My kids, I reached out and touched Livy's hand, and I ran, I ran in and I finished the Wasatch 100! So many smiling faces and hugs, and I finished the last 25 miles in 7 and  1/2 hours!? How did I do that?? How?? I just did. Why? Because I wanted it so badly. I could see the light when the sun came up Saturday morning, I could see it, and I had such a slow hard night, that after I ate a big breakfast of sausage, hashrowns, and red bull at Brighton I knew I could do it! My stomach was solid, my legs showed up, My pacer and friend made it her job to get me there, and most importantly my heart swelled with desire to get there, feel what it felt like to run, hike, slog, and then run the 100 miles of the infamous Wasatch 100. Deep Breath. Deep Breaths...Sit, Reflect, Cheers, sleeeeeeep.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pokey 60k

Not sure why those last 6 miles of Scout Mountain 60k, formerly Pocatello 50k fuck me up, but they have both times.

It's an easy 6 miles compared to much of the course.  Year one, I was dehyrated and bonking so long that day that I had a hard time coming back, I actually never came back just hated evey minute of those last 6 miles.

This year, I had self arguably the best run EVER. No I didn't show up with any real competion out of the blue, but I felt so god damned good. Better than ever. My music and I were so in sync I felt like I was dancing through some serioulsy outta site trails and wild flowers. I didn't take my camera. I knew it would slow me down, and I had a mission to run my best and not fuck around to show the stupid facebook what I saw and did. And- im so glad I did. My iphone wouldn't have done it justice. All the rain in the west has bled green into the mountain sides and the wildflowers were so big you'd think they were genitaclly enhanced if you didn't know otherwise; If you didnt know that so many people will never experience that feeling, that moment, that site. It's mine, all mine..and if you want to see it..well book your flight to the moutnains and work hard to see it.

Above paragraph is precisely why I still consider this one of my best runs ever, even with the puking for about 1.5 hours. I was so sick that when I crossed the finish line and dragged myself to my car, I sat down leaning against the front plate, away from people, and sobbed. It hurt so bad, it hurt so fucking bad, the pukey terrible fuck me feeling, hurt so bad.

I made a recovery drink, and undressed in front of anyone and no one, I drove bra-less and shoeless home 3 hours back to Utah; squirting saline in my dry contacs every fifteen minutes or more.

I puked all night. I was hungry but didn't eat a real meal for 2 days. But, I had the best run ever.

So what happened? I drank some EFS, a liquid high octane gel that I have had bad experiences with, but one really good experience with. I was feeling so damned good, I decided to give it a go. I drank too much, and that was it, I whacked my tummy too hard to finish strong.
Live and learn:)

Next up, Speedgoat
then Wasatch 100

deep breath

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wasatch 100

10 weeks in to training for the Wasatch 100. i Started from low fitness  and lost endurance levels given an injury. But , this isn't about that, it's about the tears and fear of this endeavour that is 18 weeks away.

18 weeks of anticipating anything is just entirely too far away, but with this over 30 hour mountain run looming in my dreams, and already loathing those dark moments of pain and impatience and fatigue, I wish I had 50 more weeks to anticipate, to train, to cover every part of the course 3 times.

But that's not the case. 

I ran part of the course, the only part I've run before, on Saturday. We came in just under 17 miles, and I was pooped. Pushed and encouraged to run the last bit to Pence Point, I hung my head between my legs and thought my heart might burst through. Was it the altitude or the winter rest still side eyeing me? I dont know and it doenst matter. I watched my friends power hike and run up Alexander pass, and I was pushing hard! But, as I looked up periodically they were getting further and farther away from me. 

I was able to run relatively fast on a flat rail trail back to the car, not sure I would have without my running girls behind pushing me, but nonetheless...

Im terrified of this race, and spent a good part of my day reading race reports and descriptions of the gnarly climbs nad rigourous downhill, the dark night in the mountains, only to be brought here to put it all down here and outta my head.

I want to run and finish the Wastach 100. I don't want to DNF, miss cut offs, or die.

Let's see how it goes on

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

If it's broke..fix it.

Sitting down the other night, on the upswing of an almost 3 month rest sentence from running, I realized out of the last 8 months..I have been injured 5 of those months.

With that realization, and the fact that I still managed to run well over 1,600 miles in 2014. I began to think..geez, what am I doing wrong?

Super quick re-cap. I fell injured after (even before) San Juan Solstice 50 mile run in June. I was pulled from the race when I didn't make the first cut off. A CT scan and some unhealthy denial later revealed 2 stress fractures in the heel.  Bam, 9 weeks- all summer- nada mile.

With a green light from the doc early September I was ramped up and ready to prove something to myself. The DNF in June was a bummer, and I was gearing up for my own 50 mile redemption in Park City in October. This gave me 4 weeks of training for a 50 miler, when I (Hindsight!) should have been rehabbing my heel and coming back insanely slowly and smartly. I ran the 50. I finished the 50. I kept going week after week with big runs on Saturday's. I was feeling so good, and so encapsulated with the freedom and satisfying depletion that is earned from the long run, that I failed to see that I was going down a similar road; not letting my body catch up with my mind and heart.  So on Dec. 6, I went out to Antelope Island with my running girls, and ran my last run. Afraid I'd miss out, always worried I'll miss out on a great long run;  I didn't pay attention, or more accurately I ignored my body screaming at me- and Bam..Tibial stress fracture.

Why am I getting all these stress fractures??!! (This one makes 5 in 3ish years)  This has been the center of my thoughts for months now. MRI's, Nuclear Bone scans, Dexa Scans, Hormone Testing, Bone turnover rate testing, SO MANY VIALS OF BLOOD...All to come full circle that I over train.
There's a bit more to it than that, as I've come to discover in stress fracture research, injured runner online support groups(yes there is such a thing) Books, articles from reputable sources...
But, I had cut back my running. I maybe grazed a 50 mile week or 2 in the fall, but I was mostly staying in the 40 mile range.

This is such a smack in the face because I really enjoy it, duh. I mean I have never met  a runner who doesn't enjoy running. So, yeah, it sucks. And, what do I do about it? I set some pretty Lofty goals for myself, obviously.

So, before all this happened again, with the tibia. I was signed up for The Buffalo 100 at Antelope Island- SUPPOSED to be my second go with this race, and I WAS hoping for a better run and finishing time. I had to withdraw. I was signed up for the Red Hot 55k. Had to withdraw.

SO now Here's the menu

Pocatello 60k June 6 http://pocatello50.com/
Speedgoat 50k July 27 http://karlmeltzer.com/speedgoat-50k/
Wasatch 100 September 11. http://www.wasatch100.com/

All Pretty flippin' hard mountain races. And here it is almost March, and I'm slowly working up to a 3 mile road run. yikes.

POINT: It takes me some self indulgent babbling, but I usually get there. I'm terrified- and not of these races, although, I definitely should be. I'm terrified of breaking again, and ending up in a stupid pool or wallowing in my situation for months. I had an Ortho specialist tell me that I wasn't born to run. He told me to get a bike. They all told me to get a bike. I am going to get a bike. But, that's all part of this approach I pretty much have to adapt; run less to run more.
Biking, Weights, Swim and Run. Strengthen the legs and build the muscles without the impact. Become a stronger runner, without running?! What.The.Fuck.

It's a drastic change to my current way of thinking about endurance running, but something has to change. I won't have a chance of running these races well or at all if I  break again. Everyone is different. Maybe it is simply I do too much too quick without proper strength or training. Patience has never been a quality of mine, but I'm learning it.

Jack Daniels says that 60 mile weeks for a fast, experienced, strong runner isn't as stressful to their body as a 60 mile week is to a slow, less experienced, less strong runner. We are out there longer- stressing the body longer, stressing the mind longer, my bones longer. It's not necessarily about distance, but time. I don't know if I can run these crazy hard mountain races on less running and more cross training, but something isn't working for me, so here goes nothing..or everything...or..something


No one can really know Everything about you, but

I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.
Nadine Gordimer