Tag Archives: Carson footwear

Cruel Jewel 50 2017: using a bad race at the start of the season for future racing gains.

Screenshot_2017-05-22-15-50-12-02

Leaving mile 31, feeling great!

 

Back in Feb I ran Black Canyon 100k and had a disappointing day.  I can’t blame anyone but myself coupled with a touch of bad luck, however, what I did do was listen and take what that race was telling me and fix the problems.

The first problem I started to address was some wacky gait pattern.  My best guess is that when I fell and gave myself a concussion last August and then ran Run Rabbit Run 105 mile race just 19 days later with complete bed rest between the fall and the race I picked up, and reinforced a weird tight limp I had from the fall.  Things that REALLY hurt during Black Canyon had just started to hurt during Run Rabbit Run.  Clearly training through the pain and hoping that I could correct my gait myself wasn’t working, so after the race I started visiting Brian Beatty at Balanced Movement Therapy on a regular basis to address this problem.  My coach also helped me train smarter, not harder keeping my problematic achilles in mind.  Left to my own devices I am always tempted to over do things. Meghan smartly guided me to just the right amount of training, but not more than my heel could handle.

Second problem: nutrition.  I have been ultra running since 2013 and the right fuel plan has been ever elusive.  When I first started ultra running I was a vegan, which was actually great for recovery, but I just don’t build muscle, so I was really tiny and not very powerful.  In 2015 I added meat back into my diet, being aware of where the meat was from, and if it was raised responsibly and with out hormones.  I gained some strength, but still had energy highs and lows(crashes) during races.   My friend, Sam, recommended the book ROAR this past March, which really helped me gain a lot of insight to fueling and recovery for women.  Its a book specifically for female endurance athletes.  It addresses the different hormone changes throughout a woman’s cycle and how different times of the month need different fueling strategies.  A lightbulb went on for me!  Training got better, I changed my hydration strategy, I ate more protein after exercises, added in good carbs during high hormone times, and I gained muscle, and got leaner.  I weigh much more than I did back in 2013 as a vegan, but look fitter and trim, no more weird skinny fat around my middle.

I also stopped trying to drink my calories; separate food from hydration.  I found that Skratch works best for my hydration needs.  THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!  I wasn’t bonking due to low calories, I am pretty sure I’m an awesome fat burner while at ultra pace…I was DEHYDRATED all along!! So how did this all help?  Well, even with unseasonably hot weather, and a nice stretch of pavement mid day, I stayed hydrated THE WHOLE RACE! (read no energy dips!) I didn’t eat any more than usual, I think I ate one beef jerky stick, 3 or 4 picky bars, bone broth I made, and also a home made smoothie at mile 30 a few chips, a salted potato, and some gummy bears.  Not a lot of calories, but I felt really great.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes, tree, outdoor and nature

All of us at the start

 

So if you’re here for a race report, the course is the same as it was in 2015, with the finish being slightly altered due to some down trees. You can read my race report from 2015 here.  I was a few minutes behind my 2015 pace into the first crewed aid station at mile 25, but I stayed positive, being mindful that there was so much more race ahead, and it would eventually cool down.  The mid day heat was HOT and I felt feverish around noon.  Fortunately this is where my crew had an ice bandana for me that helped immensely.

The first half of the race is the “runnable” half, while the second half is where the technical steep climbs come in.  I switched out my Orange Mud Hydraquiver, for the Endurance pack because the time between aid stations would get much longer and I didn’t want to get dehydrated so late in the day.

As I ran the “dragon spine” or the Duncan Ridge Trail, I remember exactly where things went bad for me previously, but this time I felt strong and ran all the sections I had opted to hike the last time.

Screenshot_2017-05-22-16-03-18-01

Getting a little encouragement butt slap from my honey.

The last 8ish miles are straight up Coosa Bald for a mile with no switch backs, and then back down over rocks and roots for roughly 5 miles to a water stop, and then more gently up for 2 miles and back down for a downhill finish into Vogel State Park.  This is where I picked up time.  I was feeling awesome! I ran/hiked up to the top of Coosa, paused at the top and braced myself for the long downhill.  By this point my quads were TOAST.  Coming out of Black Canyon I had aggravated my Achilles tendon so during training I was more conservative so I didn’t do any downhill training.  I put my head down and told myself from there on I was going to suck it up- ignore my quads and run–and run I did…down the hill, pausing once or twice to make sure I was going the right way.  I didn’t stop at the water stop, just cruised right by smelling the barn…in 2015 I think I mostly hiked from the water stop to the finish, I was not going to do that again.  Just as I ran over the bridge here the wind picked up, and I saw a tree fall over to the left of me….like I needed any more motivation to keep running.  The cold rain felt amazing, and the thunder and lightening made my hair stand up.

I didn’t once look at the time on my watch after cresting Coosa, 11+ hours had passed. I knew I wanted to better my last Cruel Jewel time of 13:33, I actually stopped and told myself here that I could do it if I just went for it, and I did!  I was shocked to see the blinking red lights of the finish line clock through the driving rain still under 13 hours!  I was ecstatic!

12:57!  36 minutes faster than my last CJ50, and 33 minutes better than the women’s CR of 13:30!  First place female and 3rd overall!  The rain continued into the night, and stopping only as the sun rose. We stayed up to watch every last Trailhead finish. Congratulations to you all!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

12:57 New Course Record!

 

I have to give thanks here to Carson Footwear and Everett’s support, Orange Mud and Josh for the hydration packs! Big thanks to my coach Meghan Arbogast too!

Also, to ET and her lucky crew pants.  I so appreciate having you there to boss me around, to Liz for her first 50–you were awesome!  Thanks for the fun birthday weekend, and for the training runs.  Thanks to Brian and your magic PT, thanks Lawst, Galoot, Nymf, Riff, Kyle, Elliott, Steep, and Tim for getting in on the weekend fun. Congratulations on your races as well(and for your crewing)!  Saving the biggest thanks to Drew and Emmitt, thanks for being my guys and supporting me. love you!

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, beard and outdoor

Advertisements

Black Canyon 100k: A Lesson in Trouble Shooting

Did you ever have one of those races where it seems just as you fix one problem a new one crops up?

That was Black Canyon for me.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and hat

This is not a bit@h and moan blog, but rather an acknowledgement of my slowly evolving ability to ‘fix” my ultra problems mid race and still finish top 10.

I wrote a typical description of the race that I’ll probably post later, but this is my trouble shooting race report.

Problem: You trained, packed, and wrote a race plan for a race that was point to point with a lot of net downhill and for hot, dry temperatures.  The Wednesday before the race the weather report calls for high winds, lots of rain and cold.  This in Arizona speak means flooding and the course gets switched to an out and back.

Solution: rewrite your whole race plan, unpack and repack your bag like its Noah’s Ark, two pairs of shoes, two jackets, two hats, two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks, two Orange Mud Packs for the chance of a wardrobe malfunction, or costume change mid run. Brace yourself for cold and wet, try not to be sad that your mini vacation to see the sun is a bust.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor

Problem: You go out for race warm up strides and you return and can’t find your crew anywhere with you race gear.

Solution: Act like a child who has lost their parent.  Ask adults around you if they saw your crew.  Poke your head into the mens room looking for crew.  Check the port-o-John lines out in the rain, wander the halls of the school, keep returning to agreed upon meeting place.  Finally find the RD with minutes to spare and ask him to make an announcement over the PA that there is a small child lost in the mall looking for her mom…I mean crew 😉

Problem: Shoe sucking, slippery, ankle deep, mud that acts like ankle weights on the bottoms of your shoes.

Solution: Roll with it, everyone else is.  Run in the stream that’s forming on the side of the trail to keep the sticking mud to a minimum.  Laugh out loud several times at the irony of the situation.

Problem: Crap, you mixed your Vfuel incorrectly and its too watered down and you are peeing every hour!!

Solution:  Down salt tabs like a champ in hopes that it will help you retain some fluid. Roll every potato you eat in salt like its a sugar covered doughnut. Finally slow the peeing at mile 40ish..

Displaying Screenshot_2017-02-23-15-02-36-01.jpeg

Problem: Its only mile 19 and your “Achilles heel'” literally your Achilles is getting stiff so you have been favoring it and now your ITB is really sore and tight.

Solution:  I don’t do this often but I took Advil.  I had the forethought to pack two in my pack, and was thankful for some ITB relief.

Problem: At mile 20 when you switched your pack you assumed there was some sort of food in it, the only thing in it was a chocolate bar and crew wouldn’t be back around again for another 20 miles.

Solution: Bonk first be, annoyed with yourself, get over it.  Then make every bit of that chocolate bar count! Get in front of a line of guys that would help push you the next 7 miles to the aid station ahead, and than GOD that you decided at the last minute to pack a drop back with one coconut water and two bars!  Also fill your pockets with oranges and bananas from the A/S while pretending you are Joey Chestnut at the Nathan Hot Dog eating contest

Problem: Ouch you fell on that really sore ITB right on a pointy rock.

Solution: See above, Advil. Laugh again that you are now covered in mud.

Problem: Now you have to go back uphill

Solution: Actually this wasn’t a problem, by mile 30 I had caught up on calories and going uphill was helping me keep warm and took a lot of pressure off my ITB.  I moved up quite a few positions on the back half of the race. (Of course most of the people I passed were guys, the ladies all ran very smart races.)

Problem: Your shoes are just so heavy and saturated with mud in them.

Solution: Get out Noah’s Ark Bag and change shoes at mile 42 when you see your crew again! Feel like a million bucks!

No automatic alt text available.

Some of the contents of Noah’s Ark

 

Problem: You are going back up out of the canyon into the clouds and the temp is dropping drastically, while its been raining the last 9 hours on you and you’re getting cold to the bone but know that you have that 7 mile stretch of deep muddy hell and wind and it might get dark before you finish.

Solution: Even though you let 9th get away, you jump into the aid station to get out of the wind and start stripping off every wet piece of clothing while your husband looks at you like,” have you no decency woman?” and helps you get all new clothes on.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Problem: You just lost all those calories you forced down at that final aid station.

Solution: Suck it up buttercup, there is no time for dilly dallying… its COLD!

(The good and the bad about that was I never saw 9th again, the positive was that I didn’t end up hypothermic as I have in the past.  The stream from the beginning of the race had now turned into an ice cold river up past my ankles and there was no way around it.)

Finish happy, wet and shivering- top 10 ain’t bad.

Problem post race: Ugh, more contents of your stomach coming up.

Solution: if you are crew, pull over and finish your pizza while you hope your runner doesn’t fall out into the rain.  If you are the runner, wake up at 3am STARVING, microwave your salmon that the mini fridge froze, make the room smell like fish. Pass back out with happier belly and confused crew.No automatic alt text available.

 

SO there you have it. My very first Golden Ticket race. Though this race didn’t end as I had hoped, I still feel pretty good about finishing top ten with all the thinking on my feet I had to do.  Though I have been ultra running for several years I really only run 2ish races a year so each race is still a learning experience for me.

Thanks so much for the support from my sponsors Carson Footwear and Orange Mud! Thanks Coach Meghan for pushing me and for helping me be this prepared.

Thanks to Jamil Cory, Aravaipa Running and all the volunteers that stuck it out to help us commit crazy running acts in the rainy desert.

Thanks, of course, to my very good looking crew 😉

Image may contain: 1 person

 

Looking Ahead to 2017; new art direction, and Something new from Carson Footwear

No automatic alt text available.

For many, January signifies a time to start planning the next full year.  For me, Lotteries have made my year planning occur the Thanksgiving before the new year.  So January is just when I make sure my ducks are in a row for my first race of the 2017 season.

This year I was shut out of both lotteries I put in for; Western States 100 and Hardrock Hundred.  OUCH! Because I was on a roll of being rejected from lotteries I entered one more; CCC in France since I probably can’t really afford to go, and I most likely won’t get in.  I just figured what the heck!

For the year, so far I have Black Canyon 100k, maybe a spring race?  Grayson Highlands? Quest for the Crest? Promise land?  Then summer hopefully San Juan Solstice. Fall; CCC??! Waldo? And then something local in the winter…Hellgate 100k? Mountain Masochist 50?  As you can tell I am having commitment problems currently. Oh, and FOMO. Why are there so many fun races?!  I should probably sprinkle in a trail marathon here and there… any suggestions?!

So as January is here I am already mid way through my training cycle for Black Canyon 100k.  I have started working with Meghan Arbogast, and the change to my usual training has been both challenging and refreshing!  In all honesty I’m a bit of a control freak about my own running, and thought it would be hard to give up and go with someone else’s plan for me– but the reality is its been pretty freeing.  I don’t need a lot of motivation, just someone who can answer my questions, and thinks up new workouts for me to try.  She’s been really great, and I am hopeful working together will help take my racing one step further.  I like to do the best I can!

In other news, I have been testing out some new things for Carson Footwearhttp://www.carsonfootwear.com/  Sometimes just a small change can make a huge difference.  I was having some achy foot pain in distances over 45 miles where I am on lots of gravel or pointy rocks.  I mentioned this to Everett, and ever since he’s been hard at work testing out new sockliners and very light-weight rock guards.  He’s been sending me some here and there, and each time its like he’s getting closer.  The shoes don’t need to be changed, and for nontechnical trail they are perfect as is…. but for foot bruising-rocky ultras the new insert he’s putting together are awesome!   Soft underfoot yet somehow still firm and springy.  They can’t be ordered just yet–as they are still in production and testing, but I’m excited to share this little news now.  Look for them to be available in the spring of 2017!

Also, I have been brushing up on my digital design skills recently, wanting to get back to a little design work here and there.  If you need a design, logo, photo editing, or painting… send me an email! rbellkelley4@gmail.com

No automatic alt text available.

Just a peek at a race poster

Leatherwood Ultras; My first 50k, and First race after MAF HR Training.

Leatherwood Ultra 50k

A happy finisher

Leatherwood would be my first “real”50k. ( I have run a 50k fatass in my backyard for years, and this fatass is anywhere from 30-35 miles depending on who markets the course each year, and is right after Christmas so its usually a post overindulgent waddle-food and friend fest.) So I really had no idea what to expect, how to pace myself or exactly what my race goal would be. Coupled with the new HR training I have been doing I really just didn’t know what kind of performance to expect.  So I looked online at the course, and made an outrageous pace plan; A goal; course record.  The previous CR was 6:19, so I set my goal at 6:15…you know, sometimes you need a crazy outlandish “A” goal.

Picture

Course profile

My “B” goal was what I thought was more realistic was 6:30.  With 9k feet of gain over some short but steep UPS and downs (as seen from the elevation chart above) I wasn’t sure if my few weeks of hill training thrown into lots of slow flat mileage would wreck my quads or not.  My “C” plan was just to finish and have a good time.

 

With my husband signed up for the 10 mile we, plus our friend Nathan, set off for rainy Leatherwood.  This race is notorious for super greasy, slick, NC clay and lots of rain.  Spring here is wet wet wet!  We were fortunate to have a dry week leading up to the race, but arrived at a rainy packet pickup.  As I got into the race I found that my shoes were really great in the slippery mud and rocks.  I was super impressed that I didn’t slip on anything.

We grabbed our bibs and headed up to the house to settle in.  Other friends trickled in later in the evening as they got off work and could head to the race start.

I’m not going to lie, what had me the most worried was that since this race is held on private land, a mix of horse trails, hiking trails, and mtb trails, it folded back onto itself a lot, and loop directions had me a bit concerned that I would take a wrong turn.   We started off on a road and went by a cabin, that we would pass in different directions at least 3 more times… so the turn flagging could have been confusing.  Fortunately it wasn’t.  The RD had said he’d put something like 700 flags out on the course, which sounded extreme, but in the end was well worth it since we were running different loops that had contestant intersections, some were other trails, others were paths to private residences.

Garmin data

The course was really beautiful, it popped in and out of the woods, allowing for some pretty views.  Even one of Grandfather mountain in nearby Boone.

View from our cabin rental

 

SO back to the race, the course begins with a 4 mile climb up (there was a little dip down, but basically up for 4 miles uphill.)  On the way up I was listening to all the chatter around, we began with the 50 milers, so it was hard to tell who was running what.  Different colored bibs, but who has time to look at those when there is steep uphill climbing. I think at one point my Garmin data says 30+% grade!  I heard someone say ” let them go ahead, so many people don’t pace themselves at the start of an ultra,” which stuck in my head.  I began to assess how I was feeling and realized I was probably not running fast enough.  I am so used to pacing for 50+ miles.  I was thankful for the comment and picked up the pace, even though I know the opposite was meant, it helped me think about what I was running and what my goal was.

I would say a majority of this race was on single track, with a 1 mile paved start, and a 2 mile paved connection between trails later in the race.  So it was green, lush, and curvy.  If you look at the Garmin map all those squiggles were really steep and tight up or downhill switchbacks.  In the first 10 miles I think I thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into, this is more like the trails at Cruel Jewel than anything I was expecting.  It was hard to get into a rhythm in the first 8 miles because there was no break..either uphill hiking hard, or practically free falling downhill trying to avoid breaking your ankle on the rocks…. it was kinda thrilling though.  Fortunately I got into a rhythm by mile 12, only falling once on one of the rocky-leaf covered sections of trail.

At mile 16 we circled back through the start/finish, which is oh so tempting for many people to stop.  Unfortunately one friend did, though she was running only because her husband was, and she was happy that she saw the 16 miles and was done.

We runners were sent back out for the second loop, which was easier than the first.  I had written my splits on my arm, and sometimes would hit right on for my “B” goal, and sometimes be behind in the first 16 miles, which was a little disheartening.  Little did I realize that the second half was so much more runnable and downhill that I made up a lot of time.   This is where things got a bit confusing.  Because the trails were so winding my Garmin dropped a lot of mileage, so when I got back to that last 1 mile stretch of road and only had 27 miles on my watch I started to panic.  I walked back up the hill to an intersection that was basically a 4 way intersection of where the race went in and out of… I re-read all the signs, and then started to get down on myself.  I slowed, I asked a woman on horseback if she knew if I missed a turn, I asked a few 50 milers if they had done a little loop… and then my brain said “oh man, all that work and you just lost first place and the CR because you missed a little 3 mile loop…” the minute that thought entered my head I had to counter it and replied to it, “you know what, I’ve had a good day, I am really enjoying this race, if I missed a turn I’ll just grab Nathan and finish it out with him after I come though the start/finish.”

I picked my pace back up and headed to the finish.  Because my friends had seen that I was behind my “A” goal after the first (harder) loop they didn’t expect me for another 30 minutes… so I surprised them as well!  After figuring out that my Garmin, and everyone else’s watches weren’t catching all the mileage, I finally relaxed and allowed myself to celebrate.  50k pr, 50k first place, and a new CR for Leatherwood 50k at 6:05!

Even though this race went so well, I still think I learned from this race.  I think its important to me not to just celebrate a well executed race, but to also take something away from it.

My take away;

  • HR training does work, at least for a hilly 50k!
  • It was my first time EVER eating gels/gu’s and not having them revolt at the end. I think, even though I was racing, I was still keeping somewhat of an even HR the whole time, only spiking in the first mile or so as my HR settled into running.
  • One honey stinger an hour keeps the effort level and this girl happy and even.
  • Always swish the honey stinger plus water around in my mouth, it helps it settle into my stomach, and doesn’t hit like a sugar bomb when I just eat it straight.
  • Use the people ahead as motivation
  • trust yourself!  Man this is a hard one for me to do, especially as fatigue sets in later in a race… self doubt does too.
  • Strength training is just as important as any other part of training.   I had slightly sore quads after, everything else felt good.  I didn’t have much of a chance to practice downhill running, but I did lift (squat etc)

 

Friend and superstar Alana who won 3rd!

 

Food;

  • 3 honey stingers, 3 strawberry banana gels (by the way why are so many gels full of caffeine?! I don’t need to poop during a race..hehe)
  • 3 pieces of watermelon
  • Bunch of pickles
  • 1 vespa pre race

Gear;

  • My Orange Mud VP1 of course!  Made it easy to carry all my gels-wispfriends for a discount on all their products
  • Carson Footwear Blue Tigers with their sticky traction kept me from slipping on many of the steep inclines, fyi these are as minimal (also 0 drop)as I would wear on any rocky ultra, but they worked well for this race, and I have been wearing them all winter for training to get my feet and lower legs strong- discount code: wisp

I gotta send out a thanks to both Orange Mud and Carson Footwear for making great gear and supporting my running.  And a special thanks to my knowledgeable friends at Balanced Movement Studio, where I take most of my yoga classes, get body work, and help tweak my strength and mobility!  Of course to my husband and training friends who help me stay accountable, motivated, and keep me balanced, sane and on an even keel.  Especially Nathan this training cycle!  Thanks for being a great early morning-long distance partner!