Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rainshadow Running Highlights of 2011 Video

Hey!  This is what I have been up to the past year: helping out with races, and in some cases running them too.  I made the video for Rainshadow Running.  Happy New Year!  Stay tuned for a big announcement from me in the next few weeks...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Total Immersion Explained: how to swim freestyle

When I began swimming in high school I joined the local Athletic Club, the only pool on South Whidbey Island and began swimming several times a week.  I learned by watching other swimmers and swallowing a good deal of water.  If you stick with swimming, your body with strengthen in ways that you can't even imagine until it happens.  I remember the joy I felt a few months after swimming when I suddenly felt that I was floating effortless on the the top of the water, I was no longer feeling like half my body was sinking while I swam.  When you get this feeling, you know what it's like to be a fish.

The most helpful videos I found on swimming come from the "Total Immersion" technique.  If you haven't heard about it check it out on Youtube.  There's a series of 5 explanatory videos.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trans-Zion Report: How to Not Taper, Chase a Buck down a Cliff, and Set a Record

Candice at the start. Brrrr it was cold.
 Trans -Zion Crossing FKT

Nov. 16, 2011

My Tans-Zion (TZ) crossing was planned totally last minute.  As a celebration for my 30th birthday James and I decided to go somewhere warm and do what obsessive runners like us do: a one-day, 42 mile crossing of the Grand Canyon and back, called the R2R2R, or rim-to-rim-to-rim.  We set 5 days aside for the trip so that we could explore (ie run) in some of the surrounding areas.  But even a 42 mile day wasn't enough for us.

As James was researching where to do our shorter runs during the trip, he discovered the Trans-Zion crossing, a 48 mile (also in the Southwest) unbelievably scenic, and undeniably tough route that is usually done as a week long backpacking trip.  James looked up the fastest known times (FKT) for the route and the next thing I knew I’d been convinced to go for a new FKT on the TZ.  It really didn’t take any convincing.  The previous FKT for a woman was 13 hours and I was pretty sure I could easily break that time.  I knew that trying to beat a certain time on the crossing would be damn good motivation and an excellent training run for the season's upcoming 100s.  I love racing against the clock, and this would be a fun way to put a little more stress on what would otherwise be a laid back run.  It’s easy to go slow on long, fun runs because there’s little motivation (other than to finish the thing) so when you get tired it’s too easy to wimp out.  This would not be the case with a FKT on the line.

The challenges of doing a FKT on a trail as opposed to doing a race on a trail is having to do all the research yourself.  We would need to know the route, determine where we‘d get water along the trail, and figure out how much food and clothing to bring.  There would be no aid stations and we decided to attempt the TZ unsupported: we’d carry everything we needed only using on-route water sources.  Although James and I planned to run together, we would not give each the any aid, food, etc, keeping with the plan to run unsupported.

We didn’t know if we would be able to do the crossing until the night before we had planned to run the route.  Because the Tans-Zion crossing is a point to point run, you need to leave your car where you will finish and get dropped off at the start.  We decided to run from West to East, as it would be easier for us logistically.

After coming into Las Vegas via plane on Tuesday morning we made a few stops.  First at a local REI (maps, last minute backpack for me, new Garmin 610 for the trip), then we went to Red Rock Running Company (compression socks and shoes), and lastly we stocked up at Whole Foods (snacks, lunch, and sushi for the run).  After our stops, we headed North toward Springdale, our base camp for the next two nights.  Springdale is a little town with excellent restaurants, good coffee, and lots of quality, but cheap choices in accommodations. The town has a big focus on outdoor sports like canyoneering, rock climbing, and hiking.  It's situated just outside the East Entrance to Zion National Park.  Red cliffs tower over the town and cacti grow in the sidewalks.

On the drive to Springdale, James left messages at several outfitters in order to secure a ride the next morning to the West Entrance to the park at Lee Pass trailhead, our planned start point of the La Verkin trail and the Zion-Traverse.  At 8pm James get a hold of an outfitter in Springdale, who agreed to drive us to the trailhead at 6am the next morning for just $75.  Whew.  One of many hurdles down.  At this point our Trans-Zion crossing was a definitely going to happen.

First picture, thought we'd try to get the "trail" sign in it.  Ready...set...go!
Trans-Zion Crossing
(section by section)

Lees Pass to Hop Valley
6.8 miles,  total time: 1hr 23min
The trail begins winding gently down a hillside with red rocks, red sand, and little river crossings.  It took us a few miles to get into a groove.  Too much clothing, layers needed to be peeled off.  My backpack felt uncomfortable and I had to keep adjusting it.  We hit our groove as we climbed the first short hill that lead us into Hop Valley.  The first 6.8 miles took 1 hour 23 minutes, a little slower than we’d hoped, but still plenty fast for a FKT.  We struggled through sand for much of the first 6.8  miles, slowing us down and straining our legs.
 still bundled up a mile or so into the run
James don't eat the map!
Hop Valley to Connector Trail
6.6 mile section, total distance: 13.4 miles, time for this section: 1hr 40 min, total time: 3hrs 3 mins
The sand continued on-and-off through the Hop Valley and we crossed a very shallow river several times as we searched for the trail.  This valley section was also slower than it needed to be.  We had to slow down considerably to find the trail on this section.  It kept disappearing, then reappearing on the other side of the river.  Then we traveled uphill and out of the valley to the Connector Trail.  This section of 6.6 miles took us 1 hour and 40 minutes.  There’s definitely room for improvement on this section, especially if you know where the trail is and can keep a good pace on a gradual uphill.

checking out the view
James puts data into the GPS
Connector Trail and Wildcat Canyon to West Rim
8.8 mile section, 22.2 total miles, time for this section: 2hrs 3mins, total time: 5hrs 6 mins
This was a really nice gradual uphill with lots of runnable sections, although the running was strenuous through sand and the continuous, very gradual uphill was tiring.  We ran past more than a few incredible rock formations.  One memorable formation looked as though a giant had stacked thousands of stone discs on top of each other to form a big round mountain.  Another part of the trail led us up and over stone slabs as we followed a few cairns to the dirt trail.
Candice pauses on the rocky trail
We ran a lot of the gradual uphills
West Rim to Grotto
14.8 mile section, 37 total miles, time for this section: 3hr 14min, total time: 8hr 20 min
This section was one of the most spectacular.  The views stretch out into the canyons and there are several small climbs that boast some excellent views from exposed cliffs.  This section has a nice flat-ish trail on the edge of a cliff that zigzags down into a canyon. Right at the top of the descent we encountered a large buck (antlers and all) heading up the trail while we were trying to go down.  I had a moment of terror when I realized that he could gore us or throw us off the trail hundreds of feet into the canyon.  As I slowly backed up, James started yelling and before I knew it the buck was heading down the trail.  We followed him slowly for a quarter mile then he climbed up a steep hillside and was off the shelf trail.  Whew.
you can't see the buck in this picture even though it was right there, so I put the arrow where it was.  The buck blends in and the pics are taken with an iPhone, so they're not too high quality
magnificent view climbing down the canyon
At this point in the run, James noticed that the trail was paved.  This is pretty unusual, and would have been a lot of work.  The single-track roughly paved trail continued for several miles, coming out of a valley and then descending all the way to the Floor of the Valley Road at the Grotto.  This part of the Traverse seemed to be very popular despite the steep climb.  Tourists were milling all over the last 2 miles down to the Grotto.  James and I got water at the Grotto, only our second water stop, then walked up the road to Weeping Rock eating some food.  We figured it would be easier to eat on the flat road than on the steep climb.  We jogged into the park at Weeping Rock and began the last and most major ascent. 

The view down into the Valley (Floor of the Valley Road and the Grotto)
Grotto via East Rim Trail to East Entrance
11.8 mile section, 48.8 total miles, time for this section: 3hr 27 min, total time (finishing time) 11hr 47 min
After the Grotto I knew we'd have a gigantic climb from Weeping Rock up the East Rim trail, about 3-4 miles with 2,000 + feet of elevation gain, and we were feeling pretty tired.  I was running the Trans-Zion on 70+ mile training weeks with no taper, so by mile 40 I was feeling the pain!
On the climb I began to feel nauseous.  Yeah, yeah, I know, eating salmon is probably not a good idea, but I think I might have been a bit dehydrated as well.  At the base of Weeping Rock I had noticed my pee was pretty dark.  My hands were swollen as well, nothing unusual for me, but a good indication that my hydration/electrolyte levels were off.  I used the climb to rehydrate a bit and let the food settle.  After the first major climb, the trail flattened out and traveled through some super cool narrow, rock cliffs.

About 12k from the finish, we ascended the last steep climb and I started to feel like I was bonking.  I needed quick calories and overall I felt very tired.  James was telling me a story about how he got on the varsity cross country team as a freshman in high school and I was trying to listen to the story but my body was struggling.  I stopped a few times, and plodded up that hill.  I had put a Cytomax powder in my water before the climb, and it began to work.  By the top of the hill I was ready to conquer the last 10k.  Then the sun dropped, darkness descended, and the temperatures plummeted in the span of just a few minutes.  We struggled to put on layers and get our headlamps out of our packs. 

We were too late; my hands began to hurt like hell.  They were so cold I couldn't think.  I was trying to hold my headlamp in one hand to illuminate the trail, but even with gloves on it was freezing.   I kept switching hands with the headlamp so that I could curl my free hand inside the glove and hopefully warm it up.  It wasn't working.  As a last resort I put my headlamp on my head (not a bad idea, I told you I couldn't think right?) and curled both hands up inside the gloves.  Relief came slowly, but it did come within a mile.

The last 3 miles of trail must have been more like 10 miles.  It felt like an eternity.  At one point the trail forked and the trail sign to the East Entrance pointed toward not one, but two trails.  Fuck.  I think it's this trail... We followed the most likely trail slightly to the right and I really hoped it was the right one.  My fragile psychological state couldn't handle a wrong turn.  I wasn't sure how I would handle adding on a few miles when I was so ready to be done, would I curl up and die?  Would I start all out bawling? Would I run into the canyons crazy with frustration, never to be seen again?  A few miles later, there was still no gate, James seemed to be confident that we'd get there, but I wasn't too sure... where was that East Entrance gate??!  Did we go the wrong way?

The dark trail kept playing with my mind, turning me toward what looked like the gate or a park sign, then it would only continue to weave around another hill, the offending hallucination turning into a sage bush or rock.  As the GPS read 48.8 miles (0.8 longer than anticipated), we saw the familiar forms of trail signs and a gate, were they real?  Sweet, sweet relief washed over me.  This time it wasn't a hallucination.  We hugged and James congratulated me on a new FKT.  All in all, it took me 11 hours and 47 minutes, about an hour slower than I had expected, but I was happy to finish in under 12 hours.  Just as we tried to take a picture at the East Gate, James' iPhone died.  I wasn't too worried, all I wanted to do was sit down anyway.
Here is the first 7 1/2 hours of the run (as long as my garmin's battery lasted).  I have since then purchased the Garmin 310XT, which has a 20 hour battery life.

Photo credit: A big thank you to James Varner for his excellent iPhone picture taking skills.  If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have any pics. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

TZ: New Fastest Known Time Record

 James and I ran the Trans-Zion 48 mile trail, and in the process broke the women's record by 1 hr 13 minutes!  More info to come.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I think it will be a good way to celebrate my 30th birthday to go to the Grand Canyon and run the Rim to Rim to Rim, about 42 miles, this coming week.  This one-day run has become really popular with ultra runners within the last year, I think due to all the super fast runners who keep going there and setting new FKT's, I can count 4 runners who set new FKTs in 2011.  It's a great place to get in some off-season training with the added benefit of the beauty of the location.  The weather also tends to be pretty good there, a nice benefit for those of us who live on the rainy coast. 

Stay tuned for more on our trip!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Revisiting Tahoe

I have some big plans for one of my favorite places in the world: Lake Tahoe.  But it's a secret, for now anyway.  I'd planned to post a few more times about the fun trip James and I had leadig a running tour along the Tahoe Rim Trail, almost 90 miles worth of it!  I ended up logging my biggest mileage week EVER during this week in early August 2011.  I ran the WR 50 mile on Saturday, and finished with a 73 mile week at Tahoe that Friday, making it a 123 mile week!

We had a lot of fun on the trip.  Lots of laughing.  We found this construction worker to be especially funny while we waited to get to our run for the day.  He couldn't stand still!  His record: 24 seconds of super-fidgety standing still.  Yes, we are easily amused. Click to watch:

Since I didn't get around to posting much about the trip back in August and I know some of you are wondering whether I got lost out on a trail somewhere I have been writing so little lately, I'm going to post some more pictures from the trip.  Just to make you drool.  It certainly makes me want to go back.
What has James packed in his truck this time??!!

The first day had a lot of snow.

More pictures, click on the link "read more" below

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cle Elum 50k: Last race in the WA Ultra Series

I'm on the far left in the light blue jacket, at the pre-race briefing.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
Despite my slight apprehension about racing, mostly due to wanting to be done with the running season after my 100 mile finish at Cascade Crest and my excitement at moving into more cross training and the hard training and higher mileage workouts that make up my off season, I decided to race the Cle Elum 50k.  It's the last ultra in the WA Ultra Series and would be the "make" or "break" for me in getting second place in the series.  Despite being in first place for most of the year, I went into the race knowing that I would most likely get second place, but if I didn't do the race, I would land in third place.  Although disappointed about second place, third was definitely not what I wanted.  I just wasn't willing to give up second place, no matter how I felt mentally about racing.

A few challenges stood in the way of my racing at all.  Injuries? Nope!  Maybe tired legs from the 100 miler, but the biggest challenge it seemed was finding child care for my two kiddos while I raced.  Lucky for me I have a wonderful boyfriend and some close friends who helped out the day of the race.
The girls hung out with RD James at the start of the race.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
My plan for the race was to take it easy and make sure I finished strong enough to have the number of points I needed to make get 2nd in the Series.  I was able to do this without much trouble and my finishing time was an improvement on my time from last year.  Although last year I ran 6 "bonus" miles due to getting off course and running uphill for 3 miles before I realized I was doing a part of the course no one else was doing, and it sure felt lonely up on the mountain.  Many choice words and frustrations later and I was back on course, but I'd already lost an hour or more on those 6 miles.  Not so this year!  I think I would have had a faster finishing time last year had I not gotten so far off course.  This year I just wanted to do the damn thing and do it... okay.  Not my usual mentality.  There just wasn't much fight left in me at that point.  My move to Bellingham, the 100 mile race, and my constant traveling for work and picking up/dropping off kids was taking a mental tole. 
Crossing the infamous Cle Elum river crossing during the 50k.  Pic by Glenn Tachiyama
This stress manifested during the race in the worst crash and burn I have had trail running.  I rarely fall, and if I do, it is usually pretty mild.  Heading down the mountain after the halfway aid station I tripped over a mysterious bump in the trail and hit my right knee hard.  I thought I was broken at first, but the pain subsided as it always does and I was able to continue, dirt covered and emotionally fragile.  I had to gather my strength and let go of my perceived hurt.  Yes, I was physically hurt, but there was no need to dwell on it.  There were still many miles to go. 
the knee, pic by Glenn Tachiyama
All in all, the girls had a blast volunteering at the race and playing with James, Al, Rita and the kids at the finish line.  I finished strong enough to get second place in the Ultra Series.   Now that I am done racing for the year, I am enjoying my time  "off" and have been getting 60-70 mile running weeks in as well as starting my first Crossfit workout last week.  I am excited to do a couple more classes this week, and I already feel stronger.  Is that possible?

Running in Bellingham has been very helpful for my speed and hill strength.  James and I have been doing tempo runs on the interurban trail and the waterfront trail, with some good workouts running up Sehome hill, Taylor Hill and the Chuckanuts.  Can't wait to get out there tomorrow at 5am!!!

All pictures by Glenn Tachiyama.  To see his pictures, visit his website here

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cascade Crest 100 Sufferfest

Just a few minutes before the start
 As I write this, I feel infinitely far away from the world of racing.  I've taken some time off, done another 50k for fun (Cle Elum 50k), and taken more time off.  Most of my runs lately have been about 45 minutes long.  Since I've been in the middle of two moves, yes, TWO! I have been a little too busy to get in long runs.  The mental break from running has been helpful, and my desire to get back into the fray is growing.  Although, I have promised myself that I won't be racing until I am back in racing shape, and that may be a while from now.  I need time to get my roots in the ground here in Bellingham and finish up some important Rainshadow Running work, teach a class on Sports massage, and build my massage practice in Bellingham.  And none of these things are small tasks.

Cascade Crest was my first 100 mile race, and almost 50 miles longer than I had ever run previously, I mean really what else could I have expected than a Sufferfest?  A small miracle perhaps.  When I ran my first 50 mile race, the longest distance I'd done was 50k.  50 miles was 19 more miles than I'd ever run, yet I was really excited by the idea of challenging myself in that way and I was able to finish really strong with more energy than I knew was possible for such an undertaking.  I hoped the same would be true for CC.
At the starting line, hanging out with my crew, friends, and fellow runners

But, it was not, unfortunately.  For CC100, I wasn't as excited as I usually am for a brand new adventure.  I was in the middle of a big life change, moving to a new city and relocating my business to name a just a few of the major things that were happening all at the same time.  When I signed up for the race I didn't realize I'd be packing up all my stuff and moving just a couple days after the race, which meant that I'd be packing the week before the race as well.  I lived in the house I just moved out of for almost 10 years, so there was a bit of stuff to sift through!  I don't think I will schedule that many major things for the same week again, as the stress of the move weighed heavily on my legs.
Photo Courtesy of Chihping Fu
For the race, I had Brandon and James crewing and pacing me, some major assets!  They crewed for me at Rainier to Ruston (R2R), I race I remember as both successful and intense.  It was R2R that I realized how I can inflict immense pain and damage upon myself, without realizing how serious it can get.  I ended up with severe dehydration (peeing blood 4 miles from the finish) and the worst post-race hangover ever.  My crew almost brought me to the hospital I was in such bad shape a few hours after the race.  Yet, I was able to dig deep when it mattered and finish strong.  For CC, I wanted to dig deep without hurting myself (at least not that bad). 

For CC, I worked out some ambitious splits for each aid station, just as I had at R2R, and in general planned it out a bit too much.  My reasoning was that my crew needed to have an idea of when I'd be at each aid station and I wanted to play with the possibility of a really good run. 
Start of the race, me in the yellow shirt running with Betsy Nye.  Photo courtesy Betsy Nye.
Race day came quickly, with predictions of high temperatures in Easton.  The race started at 10am, and as we ran down the road toward our first climb, it felt hot, really hot.  The first half of the race has a lot of elevation gain, and because it starts so late in the day, it's smart to take it easy during the heat.  Although I felt like I was managing my pace well, the heat began taking a toll on me and my legs lacked the power I needed to push myself on the uphills.  I had decided to eat as consistently as possible and in hind sight I think I ate too much because I began to get really bad stomach cramps and nausea by Tacoma Pass at mile 23, the first crew aid station.

For being "only" 23 miles in, I really wasn't feeling good.  I guess I expected to have more highs during the race, but it felt like there was a major low around mile 16.  Turns out it was just the first of many lows.  I'm not going to get into the nitty gritties of why there was such a low at that point other than to say that I had what I though might be a major medical emergency.  And on top of that I realized my watch was wrong, not too big of a deal-- and I thought, a good lesson, don't worry about the clock, just take one step at a time. 

Despite trying to re-frame the situation, I entered survival mode, and thought I'd have to drop at Tacoma Pass, but I didn't want to.  I should also say that I realized during the first climb that my legs felt weak and super heavy.  Very worrying considering that the race has 20,000+ feet of gain and I usually don't feel that way until the end of a race.  What the heck is going on?  I wondered.  It's hard for me to write about this race because I don't want to sound negative.  I hope to convey my experience and to do so in an authentic way, and in this case, it's a series of lows, yet the memory of it in my mind and body is one of awe and magic. I was driving to Cle Elum this past weekend to do the last race in the WA Ultra series and as I came close to Hyak (the aid station at mile 53), all the memories of running into the night came rushing into me:

 Repelling myself down the hillside with the ropes that were set up for the steep embankment and then through the pitch black, echoing, 2.5 mile tunnel that went straight through the mountain where I emerged near I-5.  The interstate was still bustling at 11pm.  Seeing the aid station lit up next to the interstate and bustling with runners, their crew and onlookers was surreal.  I knew I was close to Hyak.  Running through those mountains connected me on a deep level with the land. 

Back to mile 23.....My crew of James and Brandon were there to meet me at Tacoma Pass.  It was so uplifting to see them.  They had set up a chair and I remember Brandon putting a water soaked shirt over my shoulders to cool me off, both of them commenting on how sweaty I was.  I had them get my compression socks which were a beast to put on, but they felt good.  I asked James to look up my medical issue, and all thoughts of dropping were gone.  How did that happen? I told them that we'll see how it goes to Stampede Pass, mile 33, and reassess.
Coming into Tacoma Pass, mile 23.  Pic by Brandon Williams
It was shortly after leaving Tacoma Pass that an acquaintance from White River 50 mile caught up to me.  We chatted and I told  him what was going on.  Something strange happened at that point.  It was a trip for sure.  After I spoke to him about my issue, he explained that he is an emergency room physician.  He could have said he was an angel at that point and I would've believed him.  He reassured me that I was most likely okay, gave me some signs to watch for, some words of encouragement, and went on his way.  I felt so much better after talking to him.  It was the boost I needed to keep pushing through the race.  It was during this time that I had some of the most enjoyable miles of the race.  I relaxed and absorbed the incredible scenery.

The Cascade Crest course is amazing.  With clear skies, we had magnificent views from the mountain passes.  The adventure had begun and I was starting to feel like I was making some progress toward the finish line.  The next aid station I met my crew at was Stampede Pass, and I was pretty surprised to see James, cute cute James, waiting for me there--- in my running skirt and tank top!  Dang, I think he looked better in it than I do!
That was my first reaction to his outfit! Pic by Brandon Williams
I don't look too happy here though, like I said, there were some lows. 
After fueling up at Stampede Pass, mile 33, I was ready to tackle the section to Meadow Mountain, mile 42.  From there I would run to Olallie, mile 47.  I was looking forward to Olallie where I might get to see my crew.  After Olallie was Hyak, the unofficial halfway mark at mile 53.  At Hyak I would have Brandon to pace me to Kachess Lake, mile 67.9.  James was to meet us at Kachess Lake where he would pace me until the finish.

To put it in short, I had a lovely time running from Stampede to Meadow Mountain.  After Meadow Mountain, it was another story.  The tummy ache came back with a VENGEANCE.  A brutal fucking vengeance!  I didn't realize it could hurt that bad.  I walked, I bent over and thought I'd puke.  Close, but nothing.  It was getting dark and I turned on my headlamp.  It was awkward trying to run (ouch, ouch, ouch) and see the sometimes rocky sometimes rooty technical terrain.  It was pure relief to see the lights of Olallie Aid Station!  I couldn't believe that no one had caught up with me on that stretch.  With my tummy hurting so bad, the dark upon us, and my pace suffering with the pain it was a small miracle.

My crew was there at Olallie and I was relieved to see them!  They kindly fetched me water, soup and a jacket.  It was cooling off.  My tummy was only slightly better, but my fear of stomach pain held me back from really eating the calories I so needed.  I couldn't handle getting that pain again.  Or I didn't think I could handle it.  Apparently I could handle any damn thing this course threw at me, as I was later to discover.

I left my crew at Olallie (mile 47), with some trepidation and some excitement at experiencing the famous ropes and tunnel.  The next section of the race had two very memorable parts: repelling down a 200 meter steep (really steep) section on ropes and a 2.5 mile tunnel through a mountain to emerge at the Hyak Aid station, mile 53.  About the ropes section I had thought that perhaps SOME people need them, but that I probably wouldn't.  After all, I wasn't afraid of some steep slope... okay they were pretty nice to have on that rocky and slippery slope.  The tunnel was just plain craziness.  I didn't even know that people had build perfectly flat tunnels through mountains that I might someday get to run through on my quest to finish a hundred mile race.  Yes, crazy and I loved every minute of it.

Hyak, sweet Hyak.  More soup.  More crew.  A change of shoes (bad idea in retrospect as I had blisters 20 miles later).  And I picked up my pacer Brandon.  I'd have a pacer from here to the finish.  Brandon paced me up the next climb and down the descent to Kachess Lake (15 miles) where James paced me the remaining 32 miles to the finish.  Poor Brandon.  He was so pumped to pace me and here I was all achy and tender and cranky.  His headlamp was too bright, then it was not bright enough.  We walked and jogged and walked that horrible 7 miles uphill.  I had to keep bending over, trying to traction my neck to alleviate the intense neck pain I had.  I knew it wasn't serious but it was taking a serious toll on my mental/emotional state.  On the downhill we picked up the pace and with it the conversation and miles began to flow.

James was wrapped in blankets or that's how I remember him at Kachess Lake in the dark at about 3 in the morning.  Maybe it was earlier.  He looked a little tired and after I got more soup and a rather lovely Redbull (my first ever and quite nice for the next section).  James and I donned our head lamps and began the part of the race runners call the "Trail from Hell".  Aptly named because it was overgrown, narrow, steep, relentless, with many downed trees.  It requires its runners to slow down and navigate the terrain unlike any other part of the course.  I enjoyed the easier pace and James' company, we laughed and grunted and climbed through the trail.  We passed a number of people on this section despite our slower pace.  Apparently other people were actually going slower than us.  I was in 4th place woman at this point.

We emerged after what seemed like freaking forever.  There were these taunting signs oin the trail.  Damn signs kept saying, "You're 1/2 mile from Heaven" (the next aid station) then like 30 minutes later, we emerged.  OK, whatever... we were there despite the poor signage.  Heaven offered me soup and I obliged.  Soup was the only thing I could stomach.  This was quite unfortunate because I suffered greatly on the next 7 mile uphill section as my hungry, achy body protested.  I felt like a shell.  There was nothing left and putting one foot in front of the other was a great effort.  People began to pass me and I fought away tears.  I was so  frustrated.  We were going up a road and it was uphill, but not too steep for me to keep a good pace if I was feeling good.  This is where I lost the most time during the race.  Again I was stopping to relieve the pain in my back and neck.  Every 10 steps sometimes.  Poor James watched with compassion and gentle support.  I think the only way I made it up that relentless hill was through shame.  I couldn't stand being passed by so many people.

At some point I realized that the hill would end and that I was just about there.  Daylight was in full force and we had reached No Name Aid Station.  More soup and lots of friends manning the aid station.  Wish I'd had more energy to talk to them, but it was soon time to move on.  We tackled the needles, a series of something like 4-7 sharp climbs and descents over the next 7 miles to Thorp Mountain.  I was still having a lot of trouble climbing and feeling sore on the descents.  Additionally I had developed some painful blisters on the balls of my feet, that only got worse until the finish.  This section of the race was beautiful with sunshine, views, and some really nice legs to follow (thanks James).

We arrived at Thorp Mountain and were told that now we needed to climb up to the top, about 1/2 mile steep climb, grab a ticket at the top and come back down.  Damn!  Yet... I was in better spirits.  I knew I'd finish and although I just wanted to be done with it, I was relieved.  We climbed up Thorp and were happy to see our friend Glenn photographing us and other runners as we climbed up the mountain.
James climbing Thorp.  Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
From the top, the run was mostly downhill until the finish, a relief to my downhill loving legs, but severe-feeling pain on the blisters.  Heat was building as the day was in full swing.  It may have been close to 10am, damned if I know anymore, but suffice to say that it was only going to get hotter until the finish.

James and I had some really nice bacon quesadillas at French cabin aid station.  Too had my mouth was sore and I had no saliva and it hurt to swallow or they would've been really good.  All we had to do was power through the last 12 miles.  Only 12 miles!! And a lot of it downhill and flat.  This section of the race was through some really nice meadows with small streams and some bigger river crossings until we descended sharply 7 miles from the finish.  On the descent we were hit by the hottest breeze I have ever felt.  It felt like it was 90 degrees out, but the breeze felt like 100 degrees.  I was out of water and luckily it was only a mile or two until the aid station at Silver Creek.  When we arrived we were greeted by Brandon, who no doubt had wondered what the hell was taking us so long.  But we were here. Only 5 more miles....
Coming into Silver Creek, picture courtesy Brandon Williams
James and I ran almost the entire last 5 miles to the finish, passing about 10 people in the process.  It was a really glorious feeling to reach that finish running strong with James.  After the race some really kind volunteers set me up with ice water for my legs some great burritos, more water for drinking, and a chair.  Oh god, a chair.  I wanted to sit for so long.  So very long.

James and me just 100 meters from the finish
Hugging fellow racer Heather Anderson at the finish
James had a little more energy than I did

A big thank you to my wonderful crew, James Varner and Brandon Williams.   Thank you to my coach and partner, James for designing a training plan and helping me carry it out and for the all the adventures we had this past summer that kept me in shape without me even realizing I was getting stronger.  More thank yous to race director Charlie Crissman and all the volunteers before, during and after the race who gave their time and compassion to the runners.  Thanks to Brandon, James, Chihping Fu, Betsy Nye and Glenn Tachiyama for taking photos during the race! 

Last note: I do actually plan to run more of these 100 milers.  And I think I have plenty of room for improvement. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Am I really doing 100 miles?!

I'm as ready as I could be this year for CC100.  I've put in some really big mileage weeks, I've done my cross training, trained at elevation for 4 weeks over the summer (2.5 weeks in Silverton, 1 week at Tahoe, and some other misc time in the North Cascades, Eastern Oregon, and Mt. Spokane).  Elevation training was just a side benefit of traveling to some really cool places this summer to race, crew, play, and work as a guide for a running tour.   

Overall I'd like to have put in more high mileage weeks in June and early July.  Due to some rookie mistakes (racing too much, racing through injuries, racing on roads for 50 miles, and not icing/massage soon enough) I had to take off 3 weeks in June and I felt like I got a slow start to training in July.  By late July I'd put in a good 85 mile week, then a 125 mile week, and then another 85 mile week before I started my taper around August 12.  That following week was about 38 miles, and this week will be about 20  miles, with the biggie on Saturday, August 27th at 10am.

Back to being "ready." Part of why I love racing is the challenge, the extremes, the adventure.  I actually enjoy the feeling of my body slowly being broken down and coming through it feeling cleansed.  I can't think of anything I'd rather do for 24 hours.  I'm especially excited to run through the evening in to the night and see the day begin.  I am looking forward to sharing the experience with some of my best friends, my crew and pacers James Varner, Brandon Williams, and Al Coyle. Thanks for your support guys!  I'm also looking forward to running with many good friends who will be racing as well.

More about 100 mile race preparations later, but for now let's just say that I'm making lists to remind me to make lists.  Yikes. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mt. Spokane 25k and 50k Picture album

Click on the picture to view the album, enjoy!
2011 Mt. Spokane 25k and 50k test run

For more information on Rainshadow Running races and Mt. Spokane, visit Rainshadow Running

Broken Coffee Filters

Candice runs down the trail with Mt. Spokane (5, 800 feet)  in the background
 After a few tries with broken coffee filters and gritty coffee, I happily found myself sipping coffee out of a wine glass in a camping chair next to James, overlooking the road with the sound of a small stream bubbling and a roll of toilet paper enclosed in a plastic bag at my feet.  Camping is fun.  We were camping in the truck outside of the Mt. Spokane State park because we had gotten there a little too late to find a more scenic place to sip my coffee in the morning.  But I didn't mind, the sun was shining and we had a nice 18 mile run ahead.  

I had several days off mid-week and James needed to do some work at Mt. Spokane, so we headed East for some adventure: camping, running, mapping, photography, and a little relaxation.  Bringing the Canon Rebel along insured that we'd have some good photographs to share with runners and help promote James' Mt. Spokane race which is scheduled for October 8, 2011.

James cruising on the trail
Who says runners can't do ballet?
Top of Mt. Spokane, 180 degree views

That guy can run!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Juicing Away the Weekend

Peaches, oranges, lemon, strawberries
I've been doing a little juicing this weekend.  A lot actually.  I made them with a Champion juicer.  Just finished up a 85 mile running week, and since I was taking Saturday off from running I decided to do a 2-day juice fast that includes only fresh raw juices, adding chia seeds to some of the juices and drinking kombucha.  Here are the mileage weeks I have done for running the past few weeks, thanks to coach James for the help in determining weekly mileage and the day-to-day running plans like adding multiple big mileage days in a row and really long, easy runs to get used to time on my feet (12 hour plus).  

Sat, July 23 to Fri, July 29:      85 miles, included back to back long runs: a 13 hour run 
                                              Saturday and a 4 hour run Sunday.
Sat, July 30 to Fri, Aug 5:       125+ miles, included WR50 on Saturday July 30th and a 
                                              19 mile run Tues on TRT at altitude, 24 mile Wednes on 
                                               the TRT at altitude, two shorter runs Thurs(TRT), and 
                                              13 miles Friday(TRT).
Sat. Aug 6 to Fri, Aug 12        85 miles (this week was the beginning of my taper for CC, 
                                               next week will be significantly fewer miles).  I ran 2-3 hours 
                                               most days this past week, with a 17 miler on Saturday in 
                                               Tahoe before we left town. 

Carrots, parsley, celery, apples

beets, carrots, celery, ginger, kale, beet greens, apples