Before truly launching into 2015 running and adventuring, it makes sense to reflect on the activities of 2014 (ok, ok, it’s a bit into 2015 already, but I have to reflect before running my next race in two weeks!). I’ll deem 2014: The Year of the Ultra for me, so far, as it was the most racing I have ever done. For most folks, running a marathon 6x a year is sort of insane, let alone a marathon once every 4-6 weeks, and Joe and I did more than that for 6 months in 2014. Below is a quick recap of the races and places from the past year:
Hagg Lake 50K, February
American River 50 mi, April
Miwok 100K, May
Laurel Highlands 70 mi, June
Siskiyou Out Back 50 mi, July
Hood to Coast Relay, August
The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mi, December
Running 5 ultras in a row was not easy for me, evident as I dropped from SOB from really tired legs. I was fairly beat up after the Laurel Highlands 70, which was probably due to being beat up after Miwok 100k, only the month before. I was surprised that Miwok went so well (it being the only ultra I was entirely happy with my performance), as it was a mere 4 weeks after American River, a race that I crashed hard in and suffered through the last 15 miles. Perhaps American River served as a training run of sorts, prepping me for Miwok. At the very least, it made me cautious with pace as I went out a bit faster in AR, which made for a terrible feeling by 35 mi. I learned a lot about nutrition during these races too – Hagg and AR both were races that I felt very nauseated in, especially AR, likely due to trying to only eat gummys/gels/race nutrition products. Sticking to solid food only worked wonders in Miwok, but the pace was also a fairly relaxed “fat burning” pace, allowing my body to be able to digest solid food while still running.
I also learned in Laurel Highlands, that despite my race plan of “going out slow,” and hiking, I can still hike to aggressively, and terrain/footing has a lot to do with the amount of exertion taking place, even if I was still hiking. Also, the plan to eat only solid food in LH worked, as I didn’t get nauseous, however, it didn’t work entirely, as I desperately wanted boiled potatoes with salt, and instead got canned potatoes in brine. I learned to do my homework about aid stations and not trust when ‘potatoes’ are advertised, as they may be the canned variety. I didn’t know canned potatoes even existed before I saw those beige round orbs floating in syrup at the table.
After taking an entire month off from running (or running very casually) post-LH, traveling to Germany in August, Hood to Coast was an exciting reminder of speed for me. I hadn’t done many actual speed work outs (absolutely zero on a track since 2009) and have not run a 5K since 2010, so I had no idea of the speed I could endure on a road. Running into the upper 5-min miles for the first leg and remaining in the 6s for the other two legs was a good confidence boost. Especially after eating bratwurst and drinking beer for fifteen days. Carbo load!
I also got some official pacing in: in the miraculous form of pacing Stephen England into the Tahoe 200 race. I paced twice, both over 20 miles, overnight both times for Stephen during the race, and learned SO so so much about ultras. I’ve been doing it all wrong. After seeing the amount of mental toughness that S endured (and hallucinations, nosebleeds, psychotic episodes) and what he was eating (burgers, hot cheetos, strawberry milkshakes) despite being Type I diabetic, yet still finishing very solid, I realized that running a 100 really can not be that bad. Meaning: I likely won’t hallucinate, vomiting is okay, casual psychosis is fine too as long as you have a pacer, and eat all the ramen/pizza/french fries in the world, because it may be a long time. And the aid stations that Tiffany put together, my oh my, I’ve been doing it wrong. Why did I ever think that people finished races solely on gels? (I gather some do…) Barring any actual debilitating injury, I can absolutely finish a 100 mile race. The whole thing encouraged me to finally sign up for a damn race after thinking about it for the past 4+ years. Also, after hearing about a few Klamath running pals’ first 100 races at Pine to Palm, it finally pushed me over the edge to sign up for Rocky Raccoon as my first 100, coming up in a mere 2 weeks.
December wrapped up the 2014 year, although it was more like the first race in another season, leading up to Rocky, 6 weeks later. I went out much too slow, with a lack of energy or excitement, but finishing the final 15 miles as a tempo run and speed workout. I’d been following my old tried-and-true marathon workout plan from my days on the B.A.A. team, so it would make sense to run “100 mi” effort for 35 mi then “10K” effort the last 15 mi.
So: a big big year of racing. Joe was there most of the time racing too. It was amazing to train with my husband and race alongside him, but this is something we may change in the future. We may break it up to only one of us racing at a time, because it became a bit expensive to both race and kennel two dogs and have a non-racer at most of these things. It became a fun issue of “who is the least exhausted” to drive home after the race. Joe will support me in Rocky Raccoon and I’ll support him at Hagg Lake this year, and likely a few more races.
Not sure which races will be after Rocky, as I wanted to leave time to heal up (mentally) and possibly try for a fast 50 mile sometime in 2015. Joe may be running some of the Oregon Trail Series races, so I may just have the dogs and be the support team. Which is always a fun time! We are also considering organizing our own local race this year, permits permitting 😉 Other than that, we have a variety of travel coming up (somehow I am going to Idaho 3x in 6 months!) for work, weddings, bachelorette parties, babies, who knows what else! But I am excited to not really have anything on the schedule post Jan 31 and let a race come to me when I feel inspired again.
In non-running related news, we also moved from Klamath Falls to Roseburg, Oregon, from the east-Cascade high desert to the west-Cascade wet rainforest. We traded sage-scrub volcanic rock trails (miles of infinite loops), a short drive to the PCT, and sunshine every day for low-elevation rain every day, Umpqua trail, 1500+ feet climb on every trail option, never see the sun in the winter of the west side. I love love the Umpqua trail, but there aren’t many/any opportunities for loops (that I’ve discovered yet). Everything is one way or out and back. Can you tell I miss the sunshine? I’ve started trying to run over lunch just to get some kind of daylight, despite the fog and constant precipitation. In one month, we also were renting three houses and then purchased a house at the end of the month. Oh boy, that was stressful. Moving in itself is stressful, but paying bills for 3-4 houses is insane, and keeping track of the moving process is crazy. We are still not truly settled in, even after being here for almost 6 months now. We made a running friend or two, but I terribly miss the Klamath Falls runners. I could run with someone different every day, or a group. I’ve never been in a community of people that collectively ran together and so fast/far as the Basin. Group run opportunities were three + days a week, plus any type of weekend long runs that were put together. At the moment, I am lucky to have company over a lunch run and a random evening run on the trails with a partner. [Side note funny running story: Joe and I were running on the BLM land nearby and actually ran into another runner – where I hadn’t seen another human for months. We quickly made friends and I run with him 1-2x a week]. Not really complaining too bad because I enjoy running solo, but motivation is hella low when it’s dark/raining/muddy. This hasn’t stopped me from putting down 70-80 mpw some weeks to prepare for Rocky, but the whole process reminded me of why I don’t love running during January.
Goals for 2015 include finishing my first 100, run a faster 50 mi, possibly a faster 50K if I am motivated, race directing a new race, supporting friends in their races, and seeking out new opportunities for trail running in the area. I’ve considered putting together a trail running group to try to weed out a few more folks for organized weekly runs too. Or putting together a trail guide to the area, which is something that hasn’t been fully done yet.
If anyone is in the Umpqua Valley and wants to head out for a run, shoot me a message! The trails really are wonderful (sometimes muddy, sometimes wet in the winter) but glorious all the same. Happy trails in 2015!