Sunday, April 26, 2015

Last taper before Miwok

At the trailhead - which sums up how I feel about tapering
For our last taper run before the Miwok100k we had planned on running Larch Mountain. I had been exhausted all week, so being overly paranoid about getting sick and over doing it the week before our longest and possibly hardest run to date, I decided to stick to Forest Park for our taper run. 

I pulled out my Forest Park map and cobbled together a ~14 mile route, with a few hills to make it tough but not enough to over do it. 


my back of the napkin route
Overall the run felt great to me and it was over way too fast. That is one of the problems with tapering, the short distances feel great and you want to keep going, but if you are smart you don't. We were smart this time, I can't say that for all our "tapers". Since Miwok has what we consider a pretty aggressive cutoff time, we are trying to play it pretty smart during our taper, not that it is always easy. 



rerouted alder trail

my last beers until after Miwok
Taper Route: 
birch - ww : .22
ww - alder : 2
alder - leif : .84
leif - Fl1 : 1.54
FL1 - hw 30 : 1.41
fl1 - 53rd : 2.14
fl1 - ww : .25
ww - holman : 5.20
holman - 53 : .76
total 14.36

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just teleport from Firelane 1 to Firelane 3

I tend to create routes late on Friday night before our long run Saturday morning. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I messed one up. I wanted to put some good climbs in, but not make Sally have to do them during her 14 miles with us, since she hadn't run in a while.

So we started at Saltzman, down Firelane 5, along Maple, up Firelane 3, then out on Wildwood where Sally turned around. Ann and I continued up to Pittock where we had our break, and turned around. Ann's husband, John, had told us that something crazy had happened to the Alder trailhead on Wildwood, so I made sure to take that down to Leif.

Gorgeous spring weather

Indeed, the top of the trail had been utterly altered. Large branches stuck jaggedly vertical, making it impassable. A tenth or two of a mile down Wildwood, there are now two new, beautifully graded trailheads that although unmarked, meet up with Alder. It's quite extensive, well-done work.

When we got to Firelane 1, I had an inkling that we should go up to Wildwood, but we would have had lots more miles on WW than I had written down. So we continued on to Firelane 3, which was additional miles on Leif. As we ran, we did the math and realized the extent of my mistake. We would still have too many additional miles for a taper, unless we continued on Leif to Saltzman.

While it wasn't the route we would have chosen (too many miles on rocky Leif), it's a great feeling to know the trails so well that we can calculate on the fly. Too bad the route didn't work for the distance we needed; well, it would if we could have teleported from Firelane 1 on Leif to Firelane 3 on Leif. Maybe in the (distant) future...

The top of the old Alder trail-- very much closed
First part:
  • Start at Saltzman trailhead
  • FL 5 to Leif (6.58)-- 1.1 miles
  • Leif (6.58) to Maple (le 6.44)-- .14 miles (1.24 total)
  • Maple to Leif (4.22)-- 2.66 miles (3.9 total)
  • FL 3 to WW (13.64)-- .31 miles (4.21 total)
Sally's end (14):
  • Sally turns around at WW (10.50)-- 3.14 miles (7.35 total)
  • WW (10.50) to Saltzman (ww 16.01)-- 5.51 miles (12.86 total)
  • Saltzman (ww 16.01) to car-- 1.12 miles (13.98 total) 

Original end (flawed):
  • WW (13.64) to Pittock (ww 3.84)-- 9.8 miles (14.01 total)
  • Pittock (ww 3.84) to Adler (ww 9.40)-- 5.56 miles (19.57 total)
  • Alder(ww 9.40) to Leif (1.49)-- .84 miles (20.41 total)
  • Leif (1.49) to FL 3 (le 3.03)-- 1.54 miles (21.95 total)
  • FL 3 (le 3.03) to WW (13.64)-- .31 miles (22.26 total)
  • WW (13.64) to Saltzman (ww 16.01)-- 2.37 miles (24.63 total)
  • Saltzman (ww 16.01)  to car-- 1.12 miles (25.75 total)

Revised end:
  • WW (13.64) to Pittock (ww 3.84)-- 9.8 miles (14.01 total)
  • Pittock (ww 3.84) to Adler (ww 9.40)-- 5.56 miles (19.57 total)
  • Alder(ww 9.40) to Leif (1.49)-- .84 miles (20.41 total)
  • Leif (1.49) to Saltzman (le 6.2)-- 4.71 miles (24.63 total)
  • Saltzman (le 6.2)  to car-- 1.62 miles (26.74 total)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another 30 in Forest Park

According to our Miwok training plan Susan and I needed 35 miles for the weekend. Susan had early afternoon commitments, so we decided on 30 miles on Saturday starting earlier than normal. I figured I could add on miles on Sunday. I picked a route that wasn't too hilly so we could run quicker and Susan could get home. As a result we didn't take any pictures, but I did want to document our route. But here is a link to my Strava results. 


Route: 
birch - ww : .22
ww - maple : 5.25
maple - leif : 3.55 (9.02 total)
leif - waterline (mm 10.2) : 3.8
waterline - ww : .35
ww - birch : 16.5
birch - 53rd .22
total : 29.89

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shetha's longest

After taking Friday off for a long run in the Gorge, we knew we wanted to do a "shorter" long run on Sunday. We teamed up with Shetha for her longest run to date: 17 miles. I picked up Shetha and we drove out to the Newberry Rd end of Wildwood, where John and Ann picked us up and dropped us off at the top of Firelane 3, off of NW Thunder Crest Dr.

Use of this trailhead is clearly not encouraged

The gate at Thunder Crest had lots of signs about cameras, no parking, no drop-offs, etc. They clearly do not want people using this trailhead, and unsurprisingly, none of us had been to it before. 

Odd little "welcome" sign halfway down FL 3
It was a lovely downhill on FL 3 to Wildwood at mile 13.64. I was delighted to feel pep in my legs, despite our rough ~32-ish miler in the Gorge two days earlier. From there we headed north on Wildwood, all the way to the end (and my car).
Shetha's four-leaf trillium

We had a discussion about four (and more) leaf clovers and Shetha remembered seeing something even more rare: a four-leaf trillium! Even better, she remembered where it was and pointed it out to us.

Running ladies: Ann, Susan, Shetha
The run felt surprisingly good to me, and I was so impressed with Shetha's perseverance as she pushed through nausea and working on nutrition while extending her mileage. It was also her first visit to the far north of Wildwood trail-- a great addition when you're getting up in miles.

Plan B loop

Waterfall on the way to Larch Mountain


Susan and I had planned another day off of work training run, this time with our trainer Willie. We had our eye on the loop around Mt. St. Helens, since we knew a few people who had ran it in February and there had not been any new snowfall since then. But unfortunately due to a few scheduling mishaps and the possibility of bad weather we decided on Plan B and to do Mt. St. Helens in May or June. 




top of Larch Mountain
Plan B was something I cobbled together a few nights before our run, before we knew Plan B was going to become Plan A. Which really means that I didn't put as much research into the route as normal. I looked at my Columbia Gorge maps and linked several trails, which we had not run on or had not been on in awhile to nearly form a 40 mile loop. Normally I would look up the elevation gain and loss of each trail and read Oregon Hikers trail reports, but I didn't do that this time. 


Willie and Susan at the top of Larch Mountain
Mt Hood
I knew that I wanted to make Susan run up Larch Mountain, since she has a mental block on part of the trail and I hiked it a few weeks ago and told her it is a lot more runnable than Mt. Defiance. Well, naively I assumed the trail back down from Larch Mountain and all the connecting trails to Gorge 400 would be a nice gradual downhill. I should have of known better, I have been hiking in the Gorge for 15 years, but it goes to show you that even when you think you know something well you don't. Meaning that we did get a little downhill from Larch Mountain to Horsetail Creek, but Horsetail Creek to Nesmith Road was all uphill. Nesmith to Gorge 400 was not a gradual downhill, it is 4.5 miles of rocky downhill loosing ~4000 feet. 
Willie crossing a steam on Horetail Creek 
Susan making her way across
By the time we reached Gorge 400, it was close to 4pm and we still had 15.6 miles to go, which included a 2000+ foot climb up Oneonta to Franklin Ridge. Susan had left her headlamp in the car to make room in her bag for food for a 100 mile run (that is another blog post). So we decided when we got to the junction with Oneonta we would make a call on if we did that portion of the route or continue on Gorge 400 back to Multnomah Falls. Willie had plans that evening in Portland and had to take off, leaving us to make our own stupid decisions. 


Only part of the food Susan brought instead of a headlamp and other essential items

The food that was left over after the run. She might be faster if she didn't carry as much. ;) 

Since I didn't do my normal obsessive route planning, I didn't know that part of the Oneonta trail was closed due to a landslide. We walked up to the landslide and tried to go around it but after a few minutes we decided it would be wise to skip that part of the route. We headed back to Gorge 400 to complete the loop to Multnomah Falls. Even in my head I remember Gorge 400 being flatter than it seemed, it might have been that it was the end of the run and the slightest elevation gain on a rocky trail seemed hard.

We finally made it to the top of the unanticipated hill 


Views of the Gorge coming down Nesmith
 We did luck out with weather this time, the rain held off until we were in the car. Despite not being able to complete the full 38.1 mile route we did gain ~9600 feet according to Strava. Which is excellent training for Miwok. Sometimes it isn't always about the number of miles. 

The original route with the part we skipped strikethrough: 
Multnomah Falls Lodge - Larch Mountain 441 : 6.8
Larch Mountain 441 -  Multnomah Creek Way 444: 2 (8.8)
Multnomah Creek Way 444 - Mulnomah Creek Spur 446: .2 (9)
Multnomah Creek Spur 446 - Oneonta 424: .8 (9.8)
Oneonta 424 - Horsetail Creek 425: 2.2 (12)
Horsetail Creek 425 - Nesmith Rd: 5.6 (17.6)
Nesmith Rd - Nesmith Point 427: .4 (18)
Nesmith Point 427 - Gorge 400: 4.5 (22.5)
Gorge 400 - Oneonta 424: 5.8 (some road) (28.3)
Oneonta 424 - Franklin Ridge 427: 4.6 (32.9)
Franklin Ridge 427 - Larch Mountain 441: 2.2 (35.1)
Larch Mountain 441 - Multnomah Falls Lodge: 3 (total 38.1)


Strava map

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tarawera Ultramarathon 2014, or the perils of running your first 50 miler 21 timezones away from home in a cyclone

Editor's note: This race recap was a year in the making. Ann and I ran Tarawera Ultramarathon (TUM) on March 15, 2014, and it has taken me a full year to chronicle all that happened during what was our longest run ever, the farthest from home, in the most dangerous weather conditions. It's long,  full of photos, and hopefully entertaining.

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With Ann’s sabbatical about a year away, we hatched a wild plan: we would run a trail ultra-marathon together in another country during her time off. Somehow, New Zealand became the obvious choice. There are tons of trails, long distance events, gorgeous landscapes and multi-day hikes for Ann’s vacation. We set about researching races, and quickly settled on the Tarawera Ultra Marathon because it’s one of the larger events, had a distance that was longer than we had raced but not too big of a leap, and appeared to be extremely well-organized.

A Maori carving near the entrance of Te Pua

We kept an eye on race day 2013, happy to see two prominent Americans win the top spots. Vibram and Injinji became sponsors, and Tarawera was added to the World Ultra Trail Running Series. The race was becoming a big deal.

Ann registered. I worked to try to make the trip feasible for my family. Ann scheduled her six week sabbatical and bought flights to New Zealand on a new, cheaper route through Hawaii that required an overnight stay.

A selfie after the race group photo, coincidentally capturing Kari's brother whom we hadn't yet met

The stopover in Hawaii gave me an idea. What if I could go run Tarawera, and meet up with my husband and child in Hawaii on the way back? Or go to Hawaii for a family vacation and then fly on to New Zealand? It sounds simple enough, but the details were difficult to align.

Two airlines fly from Honolulu to Auckland, and they each only fly three times a week. Combine that with crossing the international dateline (making New Zealand 20-21 hours ahead of us on the west coast of the US) and the need to drive three hours south of Auckland to the event by the day before, and time margins were slim. In addition, our Hawaii vacation would be with friends, so we had to ensure that everyone could get to the Big Island and I could meet them without making them wait.

The traditional haka pose: tongue out

Everything came together with roundtrip flights for family and friends to Hawaii; then a one-way ticket for me to return home from Hawaii with them; then my roundtrip solo flight from Honolulu to Auckland; then lining up a one-way flight for me to Honolulu (via San Francisco, so I could spend the morning with my family instead of an eight-hour layover in Honolulu); and finally a short hop from Honolulu to the Big Island, to get there just before everyone else arrived. And a not-too-fleabaggy hotel for an inconvenient overnight in Honolulu after returning from NZ.

And that was just to get there. Ann planned the accommodations, a trail run, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, cave tubing in Waitomo glowworm caves, and all of the other logistics—including her next five weeks seeing the beauty of New Zealand. I’m sitting on the plane from New Zealand as I write this, the day after our run, and I can still barely believe we pulled it all together (editor's note: I wrote the part through the line of asterisks on the plane, and slowly wrote the rest over the course of a year).

Ann flew to Hawaii on Thursday, 6 March, and spent the night in Honolulu. She flew out Friday and arrived in Auckland, NZ, Saturday night. I left on Saturday, 8 March, and flew from Portland to San Francisco to Honolulu to Auckland, each flight delayed independently and each connection barely made. I arrived, rank with stress, early Monday morning.

Sage Canaday, the 2013 winner, is welcomed to the marae during pƍwhiri (welcoming ceremony)

The plan was for me to pick up a rental car and drive to our downtown hotel. Having visited New Zealand twice before but never driven on the left-hand side of the road, I was nervous to attempt Monday morning rush hour, fresh off 21 hours of travel.

But I didn't have to. The automatic doors whooshed open just past customs, revealing Ann's husband John, sitting on a bench reading. I almost couldn't believe my eyes.

***********************************************
Sage and race director Paul Charteris exchange a hongi with the marae warriors 

We made it to the house in Rotorua, which was absolutely luxurious. Perched on the lake, with cozy window seats, a gorgeous kitchen, bedrooms each with their own bathroom, and a hot tub. Damn! We ate dinner at Fat Dog Cafe and went to the grocery store for supplies. Had a final good night of sleep before nearly a full day spent getting ready for the race.

In the morning, we all went to Te Pua for the marae-- a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony. Ann & I were electrified to people-watch all the runners, and yes, you could tell who they were.

Sage Canaday, last year's winner, acted as our warrior-champion, and after his ceremonial welcome we all crowded up to the long house for a group photo. We somehow got squeezed right between Sage and-- we would discover immediately after the picture was snapped-- Barry, our friend Kari's brother.

Sunbeams through the steam of the geothermal pools

I met Barry in August (2013) at a pre-Hood to Coast event. He was visiting for that race from New Zealand, and I was utterly shocked when I mentioned that I planned to run Tarawera and he said he was already signed up. What are the odds?

Seeing Barry was great. We hung out for a bit, walked around the geothermal park grounds, and then decided that Ann & I would go with him to the expo and race briefing, rather than make our non-running travel companions suffer through it with us.

I spent a long time at the UltrAspire booth, having seen their hydration packs online but never the chance to actually try them on. I took notes for later purchasing, because they're an American company anyway, and DAMN that stuff is more expensive in NZ.

Geothermal mud pits
We picked up our shirts and packets, and sat through the required medical briefing. It was terrifying. I had been using topical ibuprofen on my wasp sting, but after the doctor's diatribe against ibuprofen, I raised my hand to ask about topical applications and was soundly trounced. It had only been four days since the sting and my ankle was still swollen, but I swore off "vitamin I" on the spot. The tales of liver failure and peeing brown were that terrifying.

We weighed in and hung around a bit longer, but had John pick us up pretty soon after that. Back at the house, we set out to perfectly pack drop bags for two aid stations: one just past halfway and one at the finish line. This was to be our longest run by 20 miles-- our first longer than 32 miles-- so it was particularly painstaking to figure out what we'd need.

We also tried on our event shirts. I had requested a small and Ann got a medium. As a female, you never know if you're going to get a nice shirt you can wear (women's) or a "unisex" shirt that will fit awkwardly (men's). They were really nice women's shirts, but Ann's was huge. We decided to exchange shirts when we went to put in our drop bags.

Espresso out of the back of a van. Why do we not have this in the US?

After much hemming and hawing, we were ready. John took us back to the expo and we put our bags in the appropriate piles. Then we went in to exchange shirts. The woman who got us a smaller shirt asked if we knew about the course change. Hubba-what?! While we knew about Cyclone Lusi, we just thought it would just be annoying to run in the rain. Hearing that the 100k and 85k were cut down to 69k felt like a physical blow.

And instead of being a point-to-point run through a wild forest and ending at hot springs, we would run a loop and then an out and back. We pressed the woman for more details, but she didn't have much. She wasn't even sure if there would still be drop bag service. I felt hollow, kicked in the gut. Struggled to hold back tears. While moments before I have been scared of the distance, now I ached to have it back. I hadn't come all this was for a mere 69k!

Dramatic, yes, but emotions are high before a big run and we were far from home. We rushed to fish our drop backs out from the piles, telling others who had just arrived. John picked us up and we were distraught. The uncertainty-- knowing that the course might be changed yet again in the morning when the cyclone hit-- was unbearable.

At the start: I look thrilled, Ann does not.

Back at the house, we made dinner and ate a nice, big pasta meal with everyone. Then we prepared our final things-- the big decisions about what to wear and carry. I was trying and failing to snap together the baffle inside my new 2L hydration bladder (it's supposed to minimize sloshing). John helped me, got it, and filled the bag with water.

"Is it supposed to do that?" he asked. I looked up from jamming food into my pack pockets to see water streaming from the bladder. I couldn't believe it. I had only used it two or three times! I couldn't be mad at John, but where exactly does one get a new 2L hydration bladder at 9pm on a Friday night before a race, 7,000 miles from home? I started laughing hysterically, willing myself not to panic.

Luckily, John had his hydration bag. It was older, and he had removed the soft bite valve, but it held water. To use it I would have to bite down on the hard plastic tube, turn the lock to let water come rushing out, close the lock, and dump out the water left in the hard tube. Not ideal, but better than the alternative.

Ann & I went to bed, emotionally exhausted and anxious as hell.

Power of the PEK

I awoke before my 4:15am alarm and listened to the wind gusting against the house in the pitch black. Re-made decisions about what to wear and carry for the n-th time, dressed quickly, and rushed downstairs with my gear. Ann & I checked the weather forecast incessantly while packing, eating and pacing. Then it was time to go.

John drove us out to the forest start. The trees swayed wildly like drunken dancing, but it wasn't raining yet. John dropped us off, and we tried to vent our anxious energy by using the bathrooms-- gorgeously wrapped with cut-metal designs of local flora and fauna, lit up from inside with bright colors-- and trying to get an update on the course and conditions. I discovered mobile coffee shops set up in the back of vans, and got us a coffee to share.

Then the announcements started and the crowd congealed. The course would in fact be 60k and 74k, and we could make the decision with an extra loop right at the beginning. Ann and I didn't even have to discuss it. We were thrilled with the additional 5k. It felt like a gift.

The starting line in the redwoods

There were more announcements and a song we couldn't hear well. Everyone was giddy; a friendly bunch but apprehensive and ready to start. And then it was time. We walked under the blow-up arch and trotted down a long, white dusty lane. The line of people started and stopped in bursts, as crowds reached various sets of stairs; there were lots!

We wound our way up a hill and could see the lights of Rotorua below. A fine misty rain began, and it actually felt refreshing since we had come from our northern hemisphere winter and had been quite warm on our previous runs here.

We took it easy, chatting with fellow runners including a friendly man in a tutu and wings, carrying a magic wand. After an loop of about 15k (~9.3 miles) we came to the decision point: a hastily handwritten sign pointed onward for 60k, or back to the loop for the longer 74k route.

Ann, sometime during our initial loop
Our best race photo ever (which were free)

With barely a moment of thought, we headed back on the loop. The second one was also pretty uneventful, but the weather was deteriorating steadily with increasing winds and insistent rain. Most of this first 30k was through a forest pretty similar to back home in Oregon, so we were excited to come to a new part of the course that edged a lake.

Sadly, there wasn't much to see in the driving rain, but the change of scenery was welcome. The place names were unfamiliar to us and therefore difficult to remember, so combined with the confusion of the last-minute course change, I remember very few of the aid stations. One I will never forget, though is Okarera, which was also our finish line.

Those are the course marker ribbons

We came down, out of the forest where it was relatively calm, onto the shore of a lake where the wind was pushing the poor aid station volunteers-- all gussied up in Santa costumes-- nearly sideways. It was set up for a big party, trying desperately to not be ruined by the cyclone, and we were sad to leave.

Here the course went uphill on roads for a while, until we hit another aid station-- this one with more amazing, costumed volunteers and buzzing with yellow-jackets-- before heading back into the forest. This section, on a dirt single-track rapidly turning into a mud creek, was a slog. It began to dawn on us that as people started to run back the same way, the trail would be thrashed by the time we came back through.

A glimpse of a lake

We started running down a long hill, and tried to encouragingly greet all the people coming back up. Headed downhill, I was in a great mood. I couldn't quite comprehend why some of my calls of "good job" were met with such stony faces. But I would soon find out.

Down at the very bottom of the hill, after what seemed like ages, we came to the turnaround at Okataina Lodge. I was out of water in my pack and so happy to finally head back. But as I sidled up to the aid station table, a woman asked me if we had done the 2k out-and-back. WHAT! I am sure my expression changed like a flipped switch. I was so upset that I didn't even want to fill my pack with water. I just wanted it to be over.

I grabbed Ann from where she was about to enjoy a sandwich and told her that we had 2k more. Nearly despondent, we headed out.

Why, yes, that's a cyclone coming in

That 2k shall live in infamy. It was actually 2k out, and then 2k back again, much to our dismay. And it was in such mucky, sloppy, awful mud, with people headed in both direction on the narrow trail, that the going was extra slow. We finally got to the turnaround and were rewarded by a volunteer-- a sole man with a bucket of black scrunchies-- with said hairbands to wear on our wrist to show we had made it. We turned back around to navigate the 2k return.

At my absolute lowest point, staring straight down only at my feet, I heard strains of the song "Eye of the Tiger." Looking up, I saw the be-tutu-ed man we had chatted with near the start of the race. Seeing him lifted our spirits more than we thought possible. We said hello, picked up our sorry selves, and headed back to Okataina.

I think Okataina was the turn-around

Once there, we got our packs filled and were stuffing our faces, when I heard a volunteer say that they were shutting down the aid station in 15 minutes with the cutoff time. Terrified to have come this far and possibly not get to finish, I ran over to Ann and beseeched her to hurry. Ann is normally no lollygagger, but I swear she seemed to just be hanging out, relaxed. I panicked and hurried her along.

Then came the long, very long, indescribably long climb back up that hill that I had been so cheerful while descending just a short while ago. I finally understood what an asshole I had been, happily smiling at the people who luckily hadn't had the energy to smack me as they slogged up that wretched incline. Basically we walked the whole way. There was only a small trickle of people headed there other way, down; the last of the pack. And then there was no one. We were at the end of the runners and racing the cut-off time.

Similar rolling hills to California

Between the top of the hill and the aid station with the yellow-jackets that marked the end of the trail and start of the road (only 2.8k to the finish) was the longest run of my life. The trail was running water and slick mud, so treacherous that it took every ounce of concentration to plan where to place your feet. We kept thinking we must be close, then we would see people who would tell us that it was another 14k. That seemed to go on for hours.

One particularly scary section was a short, steep little embankment that had become a mudslide, where sandbags made a temporary way to cross a rushing creek. On the way out it hadn't been so bad, but I dreaded it on the way back. There was nothing to hold on to and I worried about sliding down into the water. People were covered in mud as they tried to cross. We traversed like we were skiing and made it safely.

Summing up how I felt on the slog back

When we got to the final aid station, I knew we would make it. We shoveled the remains of some sodden potato chips into our mouths and took off down the road. I have never been so happy to run on road. It was solid and dependable. So nice. I like to think we ran pretty fast on this part. Thankfully there is no video evidence, but we were elated to be finishing this so it actually felt pretty good.

All of a sudden we were following the signs to run on grass through the lakeside park at Okarera. We turned a bend, and there was the finish line, with the race director, Paul Charteris, waiting. We finished and he gave us both big hugs. I immediately started sobbing, filled with an intense flood of conflicted feelings of relief to be done, joy at having completed this crazy adventure, and sadness that it was over.

On the final stretch, a bit of road and this sign. You're telling me!

John was there to pick us up-- with my passport, which had arrived while we were running (editor's note: this is another long and crazy story)! We each had a beer and then went back to the house to take long, hot showers. If the weather hadn't been so atrocious, the party at the finish line looked like it would've been fun. The long-suffering volunteers were surprisingly cheerful, and we tried to let them know how much that meant to us.

Overall, this race was a mental rollercoaster. We were so fortunate to have no incidents-- no falling in the mud, twisting ankles, tweaked knees. But the mental hurdles-- the cyclone's landfall, changing course, and extra "2k," all 7,000 miles away from home-- made for our biggest running adventure yet. While we weren't keen to return to Tarawera, we would love to do another race put on by Paul Charteris, and continue to dream of New Zealand's massive, gorgeous, well-kept trail system.

Finished with the event and emotionally overwhelmed

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mental toughness in four parts

It's basically impossible to do a long-enough training run for a 100k race, so one strategy is to really pile on the workouts in order to fatigue your body and simulate additional milage. So that's what we did this week. On Thursday and Friday, we made sure to go hard to pre-fatigue for our long run on Saturday. Here's our "mental toughness" training in four parts.

Trillium-spoting-- the first of the year

Part 1 - Group Power

Thursday morning: an hour-long weightlifting class


Part 2 - Animal Athletics night run

Thursday night: from Lower Macleay to the Pittock Mansion. 5 miles and 1,000 ft of climbing. In the dark.


Part 3 - 50 Shades of Willie Training

Friday afternoon: 4 hill repeats on Dogwood Trail, with insane tasks in between-- like holding planks while facing each other and alternating touching each other's hands, then turning around holding planks and alternative tapping each other's feet.


Part 4 - 30 mile run

Saturday:

  • birch - ww : .22
  • ww - wc : .39
  • wc - leif : .56
  • leif - cannon : 11
  • cannon - ww : .32
  • ww (24.7 - 7.45) birch : 17.25
  • birch - 53rd : .22

total 29.86

It worked. I could tell my body was already tired when we began our long run, but I tried to take it at an even, steady pace and focus on the shorter distance til the next break (we stopped twice to eat, so the run was broken into 12, 10 and 8 miles). We were fortunate to have gorgeous, warm, clear spring weather, which made the whole ordeal downright enjoyable.

I, for one, was worn out the rest of the day on Saturday and very glad to have Sunday as a rest day. I even specifically sat on the couch and put my feet up for a few minutes-- there's nothing quite like the feeling of well-deserved rest.