Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Humboldt Redwoods Marathon

This was a training run before the 50K.  I can't say it was the best of times, as I really wanted to do the Bizz Johnson marathon the week before.  However, due to lack of organisation, I couldn't find accommodation, and it was just all too rushed.  So I ended up doing the Redwoods marathon up in Humboldt Park.

It was raining cats and dogs, driving up, and I was not looking forward to this.  I had done two 20 milers, and several other longer runs, but I was feeling a bit anxious- even though it was a training run. I think it was the rain, and wind, and general cold! Yes, I was feeling wimpy. I hate being cold.  It is the one thing I can't really deal with - though I might have to learn to deal with that if I want to run in Antarctica! Anyway, I was just not in the mood for this race.

The morning of the race was cold and rainy. And I kept wondering if I should change down to the half! Back and forth, back and forth.  Anyway, I decided to suck it up, and go for what I had signed up for. Because of the bad weather, a lot of people had changed down to the half - which meant a very small field for the marathon.  Which I don't normally mind, but the weather was relentless and also, I didn't really feel like it. But I also learned how to run and see something through when it's tough and I'm off my mental game.

So off we went.  It was so beautiful out there, and I just ran. Well, it wasn't the best mental approach, but I kept my head screwed on, finished the race, and ticked off 26.2 miles.

I am an Ultra Runner - Autumn Leaves 50K

On October 29, 2016, I ran my first 50K, and became an ultra runner! Me, yes me :-) What a journey it's been. Running that race up in Oregon was exhilarating, scary and exciting. And I did it.  And now I know for sure what I am - an ultra runner.  When I started this blog back in 2008, I didn't know if I wanted to be a runner, a triathlete or an ultra runner.  Having tried all 3 of those things, I now know.

We arrived in Oregon at the race packet pick up on Friday evening, with minutes to spare.The weather was awful on the way up, but so beautiful to see Mount Shasta and Mount Hood. But it was very misty and rainy so it wasn't all clear and lovely to take pics. But what a lovely trip!  Oregon is definitely on my list to visit again. It rained heavily all night, and it was scheduled to rain all day on Saturday too.  Rain is no big deal, but I didn't quite fancy it - having run a marathon 2 weeks prior in pouring rain!  Still, 3 days before my race, I met my other god of running, Dean Karnazes, again, and he wished me good luck.  Ok, that's definitely a good omen - especially since it's thanks to him that I got into ultra running.

So, the race start was at 7am sharp, and we were told to wear headlamps as it would be a full hour before sunrise.  Wow, it wasn't just dark, it was pitch black when we arrived, and there were no lamps, lights or anything else.  So headlamps and torches went on immediately. Got to the start, organised the drop bag and it was time to start.  It was raining as we lined up. And then off we went, punctually, at 7am. I didn't even have a chance to feel anxious or worried! Just started running and felt myself immediately.

After mile 1, I realised it was going to be a tough day at the office.  My legs were tired!  Two weeks prior I had run a trail marathon, and that was not enough time for me to recover for the 50K.  I have only been running again since June, and spent June and July testing out my foot and just getting back to it.  I was scared that if I have any more foot issues, I would need an op, and that would put me out of commission for quite a while.  So I decided to go for it.  In 4 months I went from zero to half marathon, to marathon, to ultra. I thought about all those things that morning, running in the darkness, listening to the birds - and before I knew it, 6 miles were done and the sun was up. What a glorious sight greeted me.  Piles and piles of leaves, and beautiful pine trees. It was quite a small race, with around 200 people: half doing the 50K, the other half doing the 50 miler.

For my first attempt I think I ran a good race.  My goal was to finish - that was never in doubt - and if the foot didn't hold up, I would have walked. I saw quite a few people drop, which was surprising.  But I did learn what true pain feels like.  When it's easier to run than walk! And I really learned what I was capable of - putting up with a lot of pain. And smiling all the way through.  How do I know that? Because competitors and aid station volunteers all commented on that.  My head was screwed on, my nutrition was on point, and I was in the zone.

To run in such beauty, with such fantastic people, restored my soul.  It was just what I needed.  I am happy with what I did.  Of course there is always room for improvement, but that's not what this journey was about. I had to do this, and I did it! It was amazing, and I loved every minute of it.
When I finished that race, it was like being reborn.  2015 was the worse year of my life.  I lost my fitness, I was injured for almost the whole year, and I was just sick the whole year. I never thought I would get out of that situation.  But running has always been my compass and anchor.  I love running. I'm not very fast, but I don't run to compete with others, I run to please myself and achieve my goals. I completely forgot all about that in 2015 because I was so busy being miserable about not being able to run any more.
And now, onwards and upwards.  I could hardly walk that night.  Had a shower, ate and was in bed fast asleep by 6:30pm!  But man, did I feel like a queen the next day, and weeks thereafter :-)

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Clo Cow HM

I love cows.  So it was no surprise that I signed up for the Clo Cow half marathon.  I think I got a bit carried away at the thought of green trees, cows and glorious sunshine.  When I went to pick up the race packet, I was shocked at how hot it was!  It was baking, and there seemed to be lots and lots of hills, which made me start wondering at the wisdom of this move.  Well, I'd signed up for it, so there was nothing for it, but to turn up and run.
The next morning saw a 7am start - thank goodness, as it was probably 90*F when I finished.  We started off, and the first mile was all uphill. Right. The next mile was also uphill.  OK. And so it continued. But it was all very delightful.  I loved the early, silent morning - the soft mooing of the cows, and the screaming thigh muscles. I was very glad that I had elected to wear a hydration pack, as those uphills did me in.  True I walked a lot of them, because I have not been doing any hill training, but I have been doing a lot of run-walk, so that I am not in agony at the end of a long race.
It wasn't a big race - around 300 people, but it was so well organised. And the cheer team were amazing!  They were in it 100%.  I had a great time.
The last mile and a half, I ran barefoot.  My foot was bothering me a bit, and there was instant relief running freely.  I just wish I was ready to run completely barefoot. My feet may need a lot more training and exposure before I get to the point of running long distances like that.
This was probably my slowest HM ever, but it was one that I enjoyed the most. If not the most ever.  I was/am in a totally different frame of mind re my running. I am finally feeling excited about it again. It's taken long enough, but I am starting to enjoy my running again. And I think this race pic shows it. Typically I would not post such a pic, as I can think of all the things I don't like about it.  But there are more things that I love about it, and Sunday was such a happy, joyful run! Watch this space for further developments!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ragnar Napa Valley

So a friend of mine rang me and asked if I wanted to run Ragnar Napa in November.  I wanted to run a Ragnar Relay since forwever, but this was not the usual 12 person, 2 team relay set up. This was 1 team of 6 people running a total of 194 miles.  Ok, running a relay is not new to me, having run the Golden Gate Relay twice. This relay has us running from Calistoga to Santa Cruz for a total of 193 miles over 2 days.  It's great fun to spend 2 sleepless nights with a bunch of friends!
But running 6 legs (rather than 3), is a bit of a tall order. My friend's original team had bailed on her, so we were the only 2 and needed to find 4 more runners.  I called around, but all my friends were up for running 3 legs, not 6.  To cut a long story short, we are now 8 runners, and have to convince some of our other friends to join us. There are some new runners who have never run a relay before, but I am so excited that they will be on this adventure with us.
I recruited 4 people, and my friend Yanli recruited 4.  Once we have the teams sorted, we can plan the logistics. And I'm calling dibs on driving Van 1.  When I went down to Utah for a race recently, I drove a Ford Explorer, which was awesome!! Guess what the choice of vans is going to be :-)

So Ragnar Napa takes place over 2 days and 1 night.  One person is always running.  And while that person is running, the others in the van will follow that runner, provide aid, drinks, moral support, companion running etc.  and then the next runner will take off, as the van waits at the designated hand over spot. It's fantastic, and I am so excited at having the opportunity to run another relay this year.  Oh yes, it's going to be amazing!