Friday, February 25, 2011

These barefoot trail shoes look great!
These are the  Bare-Grip™ 200 Lime/Black.  The website describes them as:
The freedom and sensation of barefoot running but the grip of an all conquering off trail shoe. Incredibly light and responsive, the bare-grip™ 200 simply screams "SPRINT ME, RACE ME" when you lace it up...and boy, does it deliver! Uniquely the ZERO Arrow Shoc-Zone™ bare-grip™ 200 does not have a midsole, so all the natural power and speed of the foot is transferred directly through the shoe. The closest you can get to barefoot running in a harsh off road trail environment.
Colour Lime/Black
Weight 200g / 7oz (UK8)
Sizes 4 - 12 (inc 1/2s)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Running through the Weekend

Busy volunteering for the 50k
 James and I spent the weekend volunteering on Saturday for the Woolley 13m/26.2m/50k on Saturday.  The race was on fast flat trails in Sedro Woolley directed by Terry Sentinella and Kevin Douglas of Skagit Runners.  We spent the afternoon running the middle 18.5 miles of the Chuckanut 50k course.  Sunday James ran in the Birch Bay Marathon and placed third overall, even after a 116 mile week!  WOW!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My 100 mile week, well almost

 I just signed up for Cascade Crest 100 mile race that takes place in August.  Talk about a good motivator for being consistent in my training!  Early mornings, night running (headlamps!), two showers a day, receiving massage, Epsom salt baths, stretching, muddy shoes, and foam roller use have become an essential part of my 100-mile running weeks.  In actuality, I have only put one 100 mile week ever (last week), a 99 mile week to be exact.  Last year I had a 90 mile week that included two back to back 50k's, so it was no wonder that I got to 90 miles.  This kind of mileage is pretty new to me.

My mileage for running has, in the past, been a flexible goal.  Last year was my first year doing trail ultra marathons and I tried to get in as many days of running as I could with adequate rest time between runs.  I quickly discovered that my legs felt tired if I did multiple long runs in succession and so I just ran every other day and swam or did yoga (or both) on the off days.  And I really didn't get injured, except for a few aches here and there mostly caused by long races, once during and after Capitol Peak 50 miles (my posterior knee) and during and after White River 50 mile (sharp pain in my foot), and a hip injury from dancing (go figure).
Running White River 50 mile, photo courtesy Glenn Tachiyama
This year with my first 100 mile race as my focus, I figured it was time to start getting in some mileage.  My goal per week is 80 miles, but anything over 70 is okay.  Let the running begin!  Immediately after Orcas Island 50k (Feb. 5, 2011) I felt inspired to start doing multiple runs per day and getting up early, usually around 5 or 5:30AM to put in a 1 to 3 hour run.  In the evening I do a recovery 6-8 mile run, averaging 14 miles a day for 7 days. By the second week of these 80+ mile weeks, my legs were feeling pretty trashed, mostly due to a really tight hamstring attachment on my left leg (shuffle, shuffle) and in just the past three days, pain in my left hip.  So I didn't run today.  Hmmph.  Plus I seem to have the flu or something like that.  I know, poor excuse for not running!

Here is what my 100, I mean my 99 mile, week looked like last week:
total miles 
for day:             Day:      
12                      Sunday: AM 12 miles

21                      Monday: AM 15 miles, PM 6 miles

15                      Tuesday: AM 12 miles road and trail loop, PM 3 miles, 30
                          mins of core/yoga work

6                        Wednesday: Am 6 miles on trails and road, 60 minute
                          trampoline workout

16.5                   Thursday: AM: 8.5 mile tempo (2.1 mile loops X 4 times) with
                          James at Saratoga Woods,  PM 8 mile road loop

10                       Friday: Am 10 miles road and trails, 1 hour 15 minute Power 
                           Yoga class

18.5                    Saturday: Middle Chuckanut Mountain 50k course in
                           Bellingham (18.5 miles) with James
James and me running the Chuckanut middle 18.5 on Sunday
View from the ridge, middle 18.5 of Chuckanut

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Major Mileage and Jamesy Boy

This week, plus some in summary: In short, Sunday Feb. 6-Sat. Feb. 12 = 80 mile week.  On another note, if I calculated it from Wed. Feb. 9 through Tues. Feb. 15 (7 days), I'd have done 116 miles of running in one week... a new record!!

Sunday Feb. 6--- 3 miles at Deception Pass State Park, an easy slow run after a 50k the day before on Orcas Island (31 miles)

Monday Feb.7--- 4 miles on the trails.  Legs feeling a lot better.  Also 30 minutes of core/yoga work

Tuesday Feb. 8--- 5 mile loop on road and trails, Langley. 

Wednesday Feb. 9--- 6 miles trails on South Whidbey.

Thursday Feb. 10--- In the AM: 12 miles (road and trail loop) PM: 8 miles mostly on the road at night.

Friday Feb. 11--- A new record, three runs in one day.  In the AM: 15 miles trail and road mix, Mid-day: 9 miles in the trails, PM: 6 miles at night, a mix of road and trail.

Saturday Feb. 12: 12 miles in the AM.  60 minutes of self-propelled yoga and core exercises.  Plus, received a great massage.

Sunday Feb. 13: 12 miles in the trails.

Monday Feb. 14: In the AM-- 15 miles on road and trails with Jamesy boy.  PM: what a good sport James is: we did 6 miles on Valentine's day evening in the dark and in the rain, a muck fest in the woods on a windy night.  What a sweetie.  Aren't I lucky? What more could a girl ask for, but a man who will run with her at night in the mud and rain?

Tuesday Feb. 15: In the AM James and I  did a 12 mile loop of road and trails.  PM: I did a 3 mile easy run in the trails.  PM: 30 minutes of core/yoga/stretching at home.

Booyah!  Stay tuned for further craziness....

The Heebie Jeebies

 picture courtesy here

As an adventurist you know the feeling: something that should seem okay or might have a perfectly reasonable explanation gives you the heebie jeebies (HJ).  Then again, maybe the explanation isn't perfectly reasonable...  Or maybe you watched a few too many horror movies, or if you are like me you avoid them altogether but still have a healthy dose of heebie jeebies.  Note to readers: I want to boast that despite the occasional HJ's I was running at night, alone, on the trails for more than an hour recently and never got the HJ's.  So  there.  Still, it's worth noting that there are some things I've noticed about the HJ phenomenon in general:

Swimming in open water produces more heebie jeebie (HJ) than any other sport.  Add in dead trees sticking out of the water, a little wind and waves, all in a lake and you have the perfect HJ experience.   

Running in the trails can also produce a healthy dose of HJ's.  Here are as few instances in which I got some HJ's...

Scenario #1: Abandoned Child
I found a note that someone had apparently lost in the trails, it read:
Pick up Joshua    

Holy heebie jeebies!  Some mom lost her note and forgot to pick up little Joshua from who-knows-where.  Not to mention that she even needed to write a reminder in the first place.  He's probably still sitting there waiting to get picked up.... poor kid....

Scenario #2: Blond Ghosts
A strangely memorable instance of HJ's occurred recently when I was running on trails and as I was about to take the turn toward the Saratoga Woods I saw a woman with long blond hair walking, rather stiffly I must say, straight on a trail that leads to a dead end.  She didn't even notice me turning onto the trail behind her, but I thought it rather creepy that she kept walking on a trail that dead ended.  HJ!!!

Scenario #3: Disappearing Hikers

Then there was the time that James and I were running to the Goldmeyer Hot Springs last winter on a 10 mile run out to the springs and a 10 mile run back to our car.  We were sitting in our car enjoying a little food before our 20 mile run (we'd just done 12 miles on the wrong trail) when we saw two women with large overnight hiking back packs head down the trail toward the hot springs.  We started our run about 10 minutes, 20 minutes at the most, after we saw them.  They were walking and had quite a load on their backs, so I figured we'd catch up to them in the first few miles.  We never saw them.  And to top it off, there weren't any trails that went off of the main road that we saw.  Wooooooooo!

Scenario #4: Unexplained Abandoned Clothing
Okay, you've seen it before, the one hiking shoe 20 miles out on a seldom used trail (yup that's right, creepy!) or the underwear hanging from a branch by the lake.  Yeah, I forgot mine too.... Need I say more?

What are your HJ experiences?  Do tell!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's okay, he's friendly! and other doggie tricks

I know all you dog owners say this just for shits and giggles.  I  went on three trail runs yesterday, doing my own "tripple ripple": 3 runs in one day to get in a 30 miler and seeing clients between runs, so I had plenty of time to appreciate your little doggy tricks. 

Trick #1  
As I come around a corner I see a couple with three dogs.  Alright, two people and three dogs definitely sets off the runner be alert alarm.  This is how I imagine it happens: the couple sees me coming and the wife whispers to her husband:

Hey John, watch this, makes me laugh so hard I cry! Fido here is gonna bark like a little mother fucker biting at the bit and I'll say to the runner, "it's okay, he's friendly," Haha.  I get a kick out of it every time.  Wait till you see the look on the runner's face!

Great idea Ellen!  Oh, oh, here she comes....

Trick #2
I was enjoying my run and the way the wind whips around and carries me down the trail when I see a ziplock baggie on the ground.  Most times I see something interesting on the trail or road I'll have one of two thoughts: someone left trash, here I'll pick it up and put it where it belongs or being the curious type I might think, Oh, what's this little treasure I found on the trail?  

Being that just before my run I had consumed my fair share of chocolates a client had given me (I can't be trusted alone with chocolates before I've had lunch mind you) I saw what appeared to be truffles in the ziplock baggie and although I would not have eaten them (I do have standards) my curiosity was piqued and I picked up the baggie thinking, who would bring truffles on a trail? Another runner?  A bicyclist?

Oh shit!!! Literally.  Little shits in a ziplock baggie.  Aren't they usually in a black bag?  Oh, score! for the scheming doggie owners! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Party Girl FAIL!

I thought y'all would appreciate this conversation I had with a friend the other day:

Dude: Dude!  You've been missing all the good par-tays!

Me: Dude, seriously.  I am training for a 100 miler.

Dude: Far out, man.  That's sweet!  I rode a bike once.  I got a serious ache in my butt.  How do you ride that far?!

Me: No, dude, it's trail running.  I started last year and never felt like stopping, so-

Dude: DUDE!  Why would you do that??!!

Me:Oh, man, it's like any good party!  Listen: you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with inadequate clothing and not enough drinks or snacks, looking lost.  It's getting light out and you don't know how you stayed up all night.  The people you started with are long gone and there's a person here or there vomiting and just about everyone is looking hung over.  And somehow you have to find your car so you can get home.  When you do get home you sleep all day long.

Dude: Wow, man!  What a party!

Me: Yeah, and I haven't even gotten into the party that goes on in your head, dude!  The ups, the downs...

Dude: Where do I sign up???

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Orcas Island 50k

Orcas 50k nearing the top of Mt. Constitution.  Photo courtesy of Glenn Takiyama.  You can purchase his photos by sending him an email at  See the pics at
Orcas Island 50k, my first race in the Washington Ultra Series.  Yes, I am doing the series again.  Last year you had to do 4 of the 7 races in the series, this year you have to do 6 of the 10.  So I plan to do these races:

Orcas 50k (done)
Chuckanut 50k
Yakima Skyline Rim 50k
Capitol Peak 50 mile
Sun Mountain 50 mile
Cle Elum Ridge 50k
White River 50 mile

Hmm, that's seven.  I'm pretty excited about all the above mentioned races.  I am looking forward to PRing at Chuckanut, Capitol Peak, Cle Elum and White River.  The other races will be new for me this year.  Speaking of PRs, I beat my last year's Orcas 50k time by 20 minutes, even with an extra mile added to the course, so my PR was probably about 30 minutes considering that.  This year my finishing time was 6:36:00 for the 50k.

My time was good enough to be 8th place woman.  Here's where it's a little complicated: a group of runners mistakenly cut 5 miles off the course and at least 3 of those runners were women who placed ahead of me, with their 5 miles shorter course.  When these runners got to the first aid station in 4.5 miles instead of 9.5, they realized what happened a few of them informed the race director.  It is pretty common for runners to get lost or off course on trail runs, especially ultras.  There are so many intersections to mark on long races that there are often spots where markings can get removed or just be plain hard to interpret.     

The 2010 Orcas 50k was my first ultra and I was underprepared for it.  I have never been so sore from anything than I was for that race.  The night after the race and the next day my chest hurt and I had to roll to get off the bed and crawl to move around the house.  Well, Crawl for a few minutes then I was able to pull myself up using a counter top.  This year I was able to go for a run the day after the race, although I only went 3 miles and walked half of it.  I also ran today (2 days after the race) for 40 minutes and only felt hamstring tightness at the tendon attachment and an overall heavy, tired feeling.  Last year there would have been no way I could have run even 3 days after the race.  Training is paying off!

Orcas Island Weekend
I arrived on Orcas island early Friday morning to help James with the anything he needed help with for the race.  I was sent to pick up groceries for the aid stations and some other supplies in town with Allen.  Here is what the list looked like (it will give you an idea of what ultra aid stations are stocked with):
8 big bags of candy bars
2 more bottles of peanut butter
4 more bottles of jelly
15 loaves of bread
4 big bags of m&m's
4 big bars of gummy bears
8 bags of potato chips
1 big box of hot cocoa
30 bottles of soda
600 nine oz cups
15 gallons of water

All this stuff was in addition to what James had already purchased for the race: Nuun, succeed electrolyte tabs, GU gel, salt, potatoes, cookies, hot soup, fruit.

After our big shopping spree, we helped get the main lodge at Camp Moran ready for all the runners who would be arriving to check in and get their lodging assignments.  One of the special things about the Orcas race is that runners can stay at the Camp the night before and after the race, making it into a whole weekend experience.  And it's a great deal, only $40 for 2 nights. The lodging is camp style with a bunch of bunks in a one room house.
Race volunteers: Paul, Linda, me, and Al
L to R: Race director James Varner, volunteers Brandon, Ellen, and Paul
Special Orcas race t-shirts that James and I picked out at a thrift store and Wild Bill printed the logo on were set out on tables for runners to take their pick.  It is one of James' great ideas and yet anotehr reason the Orcas race is so fun and quirky.  As the shuttles from the ferry arrived with runners the lodge filled up and we had a potluck style dinner that felt like a reunion of friends and running family.
Paul's picks, Orcas t-shirts
trying on the shirts, jackets, sweaters, vests...
The Race
I have to say, I forgot how difficult this course is.  There are 3 major climbs: Mt. Pickett is over 2,000 feet gain, Powerline is also about 2,000 feet but a lot steeper and more relentless than the other two, and Little Summit/Mt. Constitution climb is about 1500-1600 feet gain.  There is also a 700 foot climb after the last summit of Constitution (about mile 24 to mile 27) on North Boundary Trail.  This last smaller climb feels pretty rough on tired legs, and is worth mentioning.

My race strategy was to go out easy enough for the first 15 miles that I'd have the energy to power through the second half of the race, with minimal walking.  I'd rather pass people in the last 10 miles of an ultra than be the one who is getting passed.  To accomplish this, I have learned to not go out to hard and to conserve enough energy that I can keep up a good pace (no walking it in) for the last 6-10 miles.  I was able to stick to my strategy for the race, but I really felt like I lost a lot of time on the climbs.  I would get passed by the same people on the uphill, then I'd pass them on the downhill.  This year's Orcas race taught me that I need to work on my uphill training.  More hill repeats and more jogging up mild, but long inclines.
Morning of the race, Camp Moran lodge, was like a reunion of puff jackets, esp Patagonia puff jackets!
Photographer Glenn, Sara, and Lukas
My fuel
During the race I ended up consuming less water than I usually do for a 50k.  It is a pretty valuable lesson to learn how much or little you can race on whether it be food or water.  The more you have to carry, the harder you have to work.  Alternately, if you don't carry enough you could bonk (or worse) and lose even more time than you would by carrying too much.  Here is the break down of what I ate/drank:

~2 hand held water bottles of water (22 oz each), 1 hand held water bottle of Nuun (electrolyte) water (22 oz), 3- 9 oz cups of water at aid station, total of 73 oz water for whole race.
~5 salt stick electrolyte pills
~1.5 Vespa pouches (and 1 Vespa 45 mins before the race)
~8 GU gels
~one 5 hour energy drink
~1.5 bananas

Late Runners
When the cut-off time for the 50k was reached (8 hours from reg. start) and a handful of runners had still not returned, James sent me up to the intersection at Cold Springs to scout out the trail and see if the runners were up there and if the course markings were still up.  If the course markings were at the intersection it would tell us if the Sweepers had come through the intersection.  Sweepers are runners that volunteer to run the course after all the racers and take down the course markings and make sure all the runners make it back safely.

The markings were still up at the intersection when I got there in the dark, at about 6:30pm.  At this point I didn't quite know what to do.  How long should I wait for the runners?  I decided to run the trail back toward Mt. Constitution, the direction that the racers and sweepers would be coming from, if they hadn't already passed through the intersection.  I went another mile down the trail and it was so quiet, lonely and dark.  It didn't feel like there were any runners out there, so I ran the 1.5 miles back to my car.

At my car I met up with the park ranger who informed me that the racers had returned to camp.  Yay!  So I drove back to the lodge to join the party.  Doing that extra 3 miles helped move some of the soreness in my legs, and I was glad that I had jogged it.

Post Race
Needless to say I was pretty hungry for the post race soup, burritos, and beer from Boundary Bay Brewery.  The post race festivities included the above mentioned food and drinks, plus live music, massage, friends, and as it got dark, a big bonfire outside.
James helps with the bonfire
I show off the Boundary Bay beer
Herb Reeves (left), Washington Ultra Series creator, and James

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Pain in the Map: Kettle Trails

Hey Candice, the trail, it's somewhere down here....
Sometimes mapping trails can be a real drag.  In my experience this happens when you have, oh, a MILLION, QUAZILLION, BAJILLION 1/10 mile trails in a small area of land.  Every time you get to an intersection, you must stop and put data in the GPS.  Imagine stopping every 1/10 to 3/10 mile to do that for... 13 miles!

The idea sounded good enough, go to the Kettle trails with James on my long run day and put in a good 20-30 miles in 4-6 hours.  Oh, and good idea James, you can map the trails for Greentrails while we run it.  We were able to get through most of the trails on the Eastside of the Kettle system, but it took us 4.5 hours for 13 miles, that is painfully slow, especially for a chilly morning.  We ran every little trail in the section and put every intersection in the GPS.  After 4.5 hours we were ready to call it quits and have a late lunch.
Luckily the GPS knows where to go, otherwise I'd start making a salal hut and try to find the way out in the morning.