Happy 4th and Happy News!

It seems only fitting that after celebrating the birth of the USA this weekend, followed by the fantastic US women’s world cup win, I would also have some exciting news.  I have been asked to join an ultra running team, Carson Footwear, a company that is based in and makes all their shoes locally, in the US!

Carson Footwear is located, designed, and manufactured all just outside of Portland, OR.  The company believes that a shoe that allows for natural movement strengthens the foot and leg and one that is made in the US strengthens the American economy.  Two things that I believe strongly in.

Carson has found a way to make good quality shoes, domestically, for $100.  This is really exciting for several reasons.  Economically  its great for local business in the US, the factory is located in OR and employs local workers, paying fair wages.  Environmentally there is less impact because they aren’t shipping things back and forth around the world.  They are all designed and put together in one place.  I think there is also a social impact as well.  By making shoes in the US, it shows that it can be done, that we don’t need to buy shoes from other countries where factory workers may or may not be compensated accordingly for their work.  Its a way to support and buy local shoes!

The soles of the shoes are made with polyurethane instead of EVA, giving the shoe a very different feel to any other shoe I have had on my foot before.  Polyurethane behaves very differently than EVA, it absorbs and distributes your foot’s energy across the whole surface, while EVA absorbs it vertically.

Its 10 mm stack height may not seem like much, but they are surprisingly protective.  I love a shoe that is low to the ground and flexible, it makes me feel very in control of my moments and sure-footed.  I took them up Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi, just last weekend after a rain storm and didn’t slip a bit.  I was quite pleasantly surprised at how grippy they really were on the slick rock.  Mount Mitchell allowed me to test them over all sorts of terrain; from gravel road, to dirt packed trail, over large exposed wet rock, on wet wood erosion timbers, through some really sticky mud, and even bushwhacking through a trail that clearly hadn’t been used all year.

I have been in them for over a month now, and look forward to racing Run Rabbit Run 100 in them this September!

Training week 6/8-6/14

Well, this week was a bit of a mess, I came down with a random summer cold mid week, so I ended up back loading the end of the week.  SO here goes..

Monday;

  • TM workout up to 9%grade
  • 2x4miles at 12:00 pace
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Total 10 miles
  • 4117.8 feet of elevation gain
  • Cross trained

Tuesday; Woke with a cold so I took it off

  • Off, total 0 miles

Wednesday;

  • Car broke down, had my husband drop me off at the gym did half of the workout but quit because I still wasn’t feeling well. Had to run 3 miles home
  • TM workout 9% grade
  • 4 miles on the treadmill, 3 miles on road home
  • 2058 feet of elevation
  • After hydrating went out for another run with the dog 5 miles
  • Workout FAIL!
  • Total 12

Thursday; MUCH better!

  • TM workout same as Monday
  • plus 2.5 mile shake out run with the dog
  • 12.5 total
  • 4117.8 feet of elevation, plus whatever elevation was on the trail

Friday;

  • My friend was home from boot camp so I got up at 5am and ran 5 miles with him at a 8:00 pace around Pumpkin and the Vine
  • TM workout 9% grade, 12:00 pace
  • 2×4 miles
  • 13 miles total
  • 4117.8 feet of elevation plus more from the trails

Saturday;

  • this was a crazy workout, not sure what I was thinking.
  • 16 miles on the trail
  • Then Monday’s TM workout 9% grade
  • Pace was super slow….
  • 2×4 miles
  • Total 24 miles
  • 41117.8 treadmill feet of gain, plus 1-2k feet on trail

Sunday;

  • Recovery, and when I say recovery I mean I binge watched Netflix and napped.

Totals;

  • total 71.5 miles
  • Just about 20k of climbing

Exercising your Dog Safely in the Heat of Summer

IMG_20150616_155244I don’t know about the rest of you, but this week we are hitting temps of 100 degrees, and higher with the humidity index and I am seeing runners and walkers heading for the comfort for their A/C early in the day.

If you are anything like me and have a dog that NEEDS exercise you will need to think about a few things before you head out for a run with your pup.

First WATER!  Dogs can’t sweat like we can, they cool themselves by panting through their mouths, which is also quite dehydrating.  Make sure you are bringing adequate water for them and stop often to offer them a drink.

Even better than just drinking, finding a swimming hole is also another way to keep your dog cooler.  When I run, or even if I walk later in the heat of the day I make sure we go on a path that loops back to a stream where Emmitt can drink, or lay in to cool himself.

Know thy dog.  Some dogs are just more comfortable in heat than others. Brachycephalic dogs (breeds with short noses, or faces like bull dogs and pugs) have a harder time cooling themselves.  As dogs age they can also become more sensitive to temperature changes too.

Stick to the shade, and even better a shady trail.  Pavement that has been baking in the sun can burn your dog’s pads.  If you see your dog shifting from foot to foot or even licking their pads when you walk on hot asphalt they may be doing so because their little feet are too hot!  So a shady road is good, a shaded dirt trail is even better because the unpaved ground doesn’t heat up like pavement does.   If you live in the desert or somewhere that has no shaded paths and must take them out mid day, there are dog shoes you can put on their feet to keep their pads from burning.

IMG_20150616_150731_034

Go early, or late in the day.

Slow down the pace.

Give your dog a summer cut!  Not too short on top, so they are protected from sunburn (yes your dog can get sunburn!) but you can go nice and short on their underside.

Be aware of how hard they are breathing.  If your dog really starts panting hard and make them slow down or stop until they can recover their breathing.  Dogs don’t always know when enough is enough..so make sure you gage that for them and take a break.  Dogs die every summer of heat stroke. If you suspect your dog of having heatstroke cool him with water (not ice water) and get him or her to a vet as soon as you can!

Snakes!  This is the time of year for snakes laying on the trail and dogs bitten by snakes becomes a more common occurrence.  Keep them out of tall grasses, and behind you on the trail so you can spot them first and lead them by at a safe distance.

Car, never EVER leave your pet in a car.  Have you ever sat in a hot car even when its 80 degrees out with all the windows up..its unbearably hot and can heat up very fast.

IMG_20150615_165349

Mr Emmitt ponders the meaning of life, or maybe just which trail to follow…

Acclimate your dog to the summer weather.  Just like us, dogs can adapt somewhat (much slower than we can) to the heat.  Hopefully if you walk them daily the usual change in seasons will acclimate them naturally, but if you move to a hotter climate or go on vacation somewhere hot, be aware that your dog may need time to adjust to the sudden spike in temperature.

I hope these tips are helpful!  Now get out there and enjoy the summer with your four legged friend!

Training week: 6/1-6/7

This was my first week back to some regular training, the two weeks after Cruel Jewel I had some tightness in my legs that I wanted to work out because it was affecting my gait.  I mostly just swam and did yoga and enjoyed sleeping in.

Most of my week was spent on the treadmill, so it wasn’t incredibly exciting.  However, it was mentally tiring because I noticed very quickly that my form breaks down on the treadmill so I really had to think about standing tall, engaging my glutes and pushing off rather than pulling my legs forward and hunching over.  After the each workout my legs felt good, but my head was tired. :)

Monday:

  • Treadmill workout
  • Warm up, 2×4 miles at an 8% grade, cool down
  • Cross train core and legs- ET workout
  • stretch

Tuesday:

  • see Monday

Wednesday:

  • My calf was feeling tight(the one that worried me going into CJ) so I abandoned the treadmill after 15 min and went to yoga instead

Thursday:

  • Treadmill workout
  • Warm up 2×4 miles at an 8% grade, today I found that running slightly faster made it easier to maintain correct form on the treadmill
  • After 3 mile shake out run on the roads with the dog
  • Cross trained after

Friday:

  • Same as Thursday, but no run with the dog after

Saturday:

  • 2.5 hour run in the woods with friends, some single track, mostly fire roads
  • half of my treadmill workout.  4 miles @8.5% grade
  • Cross train

Sunday:

  • Easy pool swim for 25 minutes
  • yoga

Total:

  • 60 miles
  • 22,344 feet of elevation gain
  • Lots of yoga

Cruel Jewel Race Report, or The Devil Went Down to Georgia (according to URP)

startcjI feel like in a way this race was a good marker of how much I have grown as a runner, mentally.   In the past I have been terribly grumpy the day of a race(mostly because I am so nervous) I worry, I stress, and if I had forgotten the things mentioned below in the past I probably would have let it get into my head and affect my race.  I admit I am quite proud that I just let them all roll off me and looked for the positive or a good solution with out using extra energy to panic or worry.

First it started right off (20 min into the drive) that I forgot my heart rate monitor; my pacing crutch.  I use to hold my legs back when the first 20 miles feel so good and I want to run them as hard as I can.  I momentarily broke out into a cold sweat and felt my stomach drop, but we were caravanning with other people, and I reasoned it would be a good test of my running maturity if I could pace myself with out the help of a gadget.  If there was anything I have learned from my epic blow up at Pinhoti (Yea I ran the first 40 miles in first place..where I didn’t belong and paid DEARLY for it in the third quarter of the race) it was be loose, be comfortable.  In an ultra, the race really doesn’t begin until the last 1/4 of the distance.  I pushed the thought out of my head and focused on the here and now, which was driving to the mountains (wee!) with my husband and friend, Nathan.

Second “oops” was I forgot my nutrition plan at the rental house.  I had planned on eating avocado’s during the race, and of course I left them on the counter in the kitchen.  Not 3 miles into the race I realized it, ugh!  I panicked for all of 1/2 mile.  I thought about if I could see some of the other TrailHeads along the course at the aid stations maybe they could text Drew to go get me some…. nope. I would find another way.  I mentally took a deep breath and started thinking about other foods I had packed as back up.  I remembered I had golden raisins and walnuts in the car and figured that would do just fine.

Third, I forgot to rewet my contact lenses and had some fun double vision for the last 10 miles, but by then I was so close to finishing I didn’t have the time or energy to worry about that either.  I figured I just needed to roll with it and found that squirting myself with my water bottle at aid stations helped.

Ok, so onto the race report;

I fell right asleep at 10 Friday night, only to be wide awake at 2:30 am trying to get updates on Jordan, Ben, DJ, and Kurtis who were all 14 or so hours into their race.  I texted back and forth with ET, and learned they were all still plugging away.

I snuck quietly out of my bedroom and into the loft and did some yoga and some visualization of sting up hill hiking, and speedy downhill running.  Of course another friend and his family had arrived at midnight and I didn’t realize they were just below in on the couches in the living room!  Sorry guys!

I often get quite before races, I don’t mind some nerves before a race.  The quiet helps me focus and switch into racing mode.

As we parked at the start, we saw DJ and Kurtis eating and getting ready to head back out.  Kurtis warned me, “you are going to want to run the first 50k, its some pretty sweet runnable trail, if you are trained to run the hills… hold back though, the final 20 is pretty brutal.  The Duncan Ridge Trail, or the dragon’s spine, was pretty gnarly.”. I tucked that into the back of my head and smiled.

aidstationcj

Quick in and out of the aid stations

The start was actually pretty low key.  We listened to a quick countdown and then were told “go!”  I ran and chatted with another woman until we started to climb.  The first several miles were on road, I thought about walking but decided I would when I felt my breathing get harder.  We took a right into the single track, where I guessed I was in 4th or 5th place.  The aid station volunteer warned that I was upfront and he knew the guys ahead of me were “some really fast guys,” and to take it easy.  I smiled and nodded in response, he didn’t’ know me, so I wasn’t worried.

I soon found myself alone for a bit.  I kept mentally checking my breathing rate and heart rate.  I caught up to a guy that was going slower than I wanted on the downhill and reminded myself not to get anxious, but to just follow along behind him and use his slower pace to hold me back so early in the race.

We finally got to the “T” section of the trail, and I almost made the same mistake Nathan did… but I was lucky that there were 2 hundred milers that had chosen to take a break right at the trial junction and pointed me in the right direction.  The downhill was fun to run down, and I made up some places going down.  This section must have been the north side of a mountain because it was a beautiful trail that wound through dense ferns and moss covered tress.  On the way back up I saw Nate, and not knowing he had gone the wrong way I bounced up and down and greeted him with a big smile.

I usually like to run my races alone and think and focus, but I had fallen instep with 2 other guys who knew the trail well.  Living close by they both trained on the course so I figured they knew what they were doing. (the two guys finished first and fourth) By the time we hit the gravel road we three had split up and I was back to running alone.

My hips were tighter than I would have liked, and the pinch or minor tear in my calf started bothering me on the road. I had hoped to glide effortlessly on this non technical section, but I was having a hard time maintaining an 8:17 pace.  Oh well, I knew the technical part was coming up and it would give my tight hips a break.

The next 15 miles were great, every 5 miles I got to see my wonderful husband and friends every 5 miles and that was a great mental boost.  It was getting hot and I was finding relief by dumping water on my head and drinking chicken broth and taking scaps and salt stick caplets.

As I entered the last aid station before DRT I was mental ready for the steep climbs and descents.  I was told there would be no aid for the next 7 miles, which really seemed to be closer to 9…but whatever…I had packed two chicken broth pouches and had my Orange Mud Vest pack full.

The DRT was, in a way, a nice break, the climbs were too steep to actually run, so I welcomed the hike, and the trail was narrow… lined by poison ivy so there was no pausing at the side of the trail.  I have never seen a trail with so much poison ivy!  I was glad I had worn my knee socks, and was very careful not to touch anything since I am so allergic to poison ivy.  I was lucky to escape with only one little patch of poison ivy rash on the back of one hand!  Don’t misunderstand me, this section of the trail had no switch backs so it was straight up and down with no relief.  I think there were 11 named peaked in the span of 11 or so miles so the hills were relentless.  Good thing I had been running 1/4 mile repeats at a 10% incline on the treadmill in training!  (Thanks Jordan!)

cjfinwdrew

Me at the finish with my honey. I look too relaxed, maybe I should have run harder?! :)

Somewhere along here I found myself in second place overall, but with the sun setting, my calf barking at me every time I hopped over a rock or root, and my double vision from salty sweat on my contacts I decided I would be happy with first female and would go easy on the descents since I couldn’t see the rocks and roots very well anymore in the light of dusk.  Third place caught up to me(Richard) and we chatted and hiked the last few miles in.  I kept thinking the trail was beginning to get runnable again, but would second guess every time I felt a little niggle in my calf and decided power hiking would be just fine.  Not worth tearing something or falling (again) before my summer training really even started! (Again, maturity and wisdom, right? Maybe..)

As I hiked with Richard I realized his quads were toast and he didn’t have much running left in his legs.  Mine had recovered, and I was feeling really good..no pain cave today.  I told him to go ahead that I was going to stop and pee, but he insisted on waiting for me… so I decided that dusting him in the last few miles wouldn’t have been right.  He offered that we cross the finish together (by now we had been trading 2nd and 3rd place back and forth for nearly 20+ miles) I told him when we got to the 1/4 mile left on the pavement I was going to jog it in, and said I wouldn’t mind 3rd overall since I was first female after all.  (oops can we see where my competitiveness went out the door here… I’ll come back to this..)

As we hiked the last mile in the dark I swore I could hear my friend Grub in the distance echoing across the hillside… so I called out “GRUB?!”  2 headlamps bobbed in the distance.  It turned out to be Grub and Nymph!  I started to ask if they had gotten bored waiting for us to finish… and then I noticed someone else.  Jordan. I thought to myself, “oh crap he should have finished long ago.”. He looked pale and tired.  I said the only thing I could think of… because really what do you tell someone who was on pace for a 24 hour finish who is now 30+ hours into the race…” just get it the fuck done, we are almost there! See you at the finish!”cjdone

And we were almost there!  As promised I jogged it in with Richard.   It was so nice to hear our crew and see their smiling faces after 13:32 hours of technical, yet beautiful trail.

I was happy to be done, but feeling really good still.  This is one of the few races I have finished and not been dizzy, vomiting, or just generally feeling terrible… which really pleased me.  I have been tinkering with my nutrition for several years and it seemed to me that I had finally gotten it right!  The earth didn’t spin, I was happy to walk back out and watch and cheer on the next several finishers.fincj

Now back to that comment I made about my competitiveness going out the window… after the race I realized I missed the CR by less than 3 minutes.  I SO could have set a new CR… does this mean I have to go back next year?!?!

 

Things that did go right;

  • Nutrition!  Chicken broth, veggie broth, I think I had seven 8oz packs of broth, handful of walnuts and raisins, one GF cookie, 2 slices of orange, 1 banana, 2 packets of almond butter, 2 Vespa (one Shoes!  Alta’s Superior 2.0, comfortable enough for each surface I ran on: road, gravel, rocky single track and pine covered trail.
  • Hydration pack.  The Orange Mud Vest Pack (I had the single bottle Vest Pack)
  • Crew and friends!  Can’t go wrong with them!
  • Really well marked course, helpful volunteers, and super RD’s
  • I expected it to be quite a bit further than 50 miles, so I wasn’t too surprised that my Garmin read 57.2 miles.
castandcrew

Cast and Crew of the Cruel Jewel 100 mile, 50 mile

cjgrouppic

 

 

Post URP comment

Though I am not officially coached, I wish I had mentioned how much my friends and training partners have helped me begin to figure out all my nutrition and how to train properly.

I have been lucky enough to become good friends with such knowledgeable people.  My running is definitely a product of learning new things, trying them out for myself, and running with many people.

Strength training and moderation from Elizabeth Towe at Balanced Movement Studio, who has become a mentor, a fantastic crew chief, and friend.

All the TrailHeads, for getting me into this crazy sport, I have learned so much from all of them, most notably Geoff Scott, Layna Mosley, DJDore, Ben Syzek, Nathan Toben, Liz Bloomhardt, Roger Halchin, Katie Baker, and most importantly Jordan Stafford.

Jordan and I have been running and figuring out best methods for training and fueling for the last few years.  Admittedly its mostly him that has been doing the “figuring out,” while he has been taking classes and applying for PT school.  He has been my “coach,” running partner, and friend.  He doesn’t write often on his blog, but I have been trying to talk him into writing more about his coaching ideas. (He is a big believer in OFM, building a solid base and specificity training for each race off of that slow steady aerobic base.)

Anyway, it was bugging me that I didn’t mention all these people in the URP podcast…because that wasn’t really what the podcast was about, but I did want to say that it certainly takes a village to raise an ultra runner and I wanted to let anyone who listened to the podcast know how lucky and thankful I am for these people in my life.

It of course goes with out saying, or I guess it should be said…I am also so very lucky to have a husband who is flexible and understanding of my fringe running obsession.  I am part of a couple, so whatever I do, and whoever I am is in part because of the support I get from Drew.

 

Cruel Jewel Video; Part 1