Saturday, March 23, 2013

Win a Salomon S-Lab Pack!

I love this pack so much, I'm going to give a brand new one to one of you! The Salomon S-Lab 12L is perfect for long distance adventures. I used it for my FKT of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail and for countless other unsupported adventures. To enter to win all you have to do is to share this update on your Facebook page. Go HERE, check out my running page, and share the update that has the picture of the s-lab pack.  That's all you need to do to enter in the contest. Drawing on March 31, to be announced on said facebook page. Happy adventuring!! 
The Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12L

Me wearing the pack during my FKT around Mt. Rainier

Some of my gear for the Mt. Rainier 93-mile circumnavigation

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Training Journal 3/11-3/17

Monday, March 11- Sunday, March 17, 2013: My favorite part of the week had to be when I ran 23 miles of the Kepler Track from Luxmore Hut to Rainbow Reach (Tuesday). So inspiring, energizing, and a great reminder of why I run.  It's for the freedom to explore and the joy that comes from nature!  I also had a blast learning to surf on Monday morning in Dunedin.  I managed to severely bruise my hip and left knee (clumsy me), so I was lucky to be able to do the Kepler Monday/Tuesday even though it was swollen. I tapered a bit later in the week for the race. If you can call 3 days a taper...
Enjoying the ridge line and views from above Luxmore Hut, South Island NZ
Monday: 10 miles, Kepler Track new Zealand. 3,700 ft/climb. Surfing lessons in the AM, fun!
Tuesday: 23 miles/ 3,500 ft/climb on the Kepler Track, New Zealand. Highlight of the trip!! Also, 45 minutes of Anna's core class.
Wednesday: 4 miles in the city.
Thursday: day off
Friday: Massage in the morning (1hr). Easy 4 miles in city (paved) shake the legs out before Saturday's race.
Saturday: Tarawera 85k in new Zealand. 10:37 with 10,200 ft/climb over 53 miles (placed 2nd/7th overall).
Sunday: day off

Running Miles: 94 miles
Running Elevation Gain: 17,400 ft
Cross training: 45 minutes of core
Biking: none
Time running: 18.5hrs

Training Journal 3/4-3/10

Monday, March 4- Sunday, March 3, 2013: I arrived in New Zealand on thursday.  Between all the activities that were planned with the Salomon team, I did not do a lot of running, but was plenty busy!  It was very inspiring to run with world class athletes!  Anna, Francois, Emelie, and Ricky are not just fun to hang out with, but also very talented runners.  We had a great core workout with Anna during the week, which was motivating for me to include more in my weekly practice.  Still feeling unusual fatigue. I began taking iron late last week and I am hoping it helps my energy level. I did one workout on the bike at home before leaving for NZ at 10,000 feet (altitude training).
Anna's class in Dunedin.  1 hour of (mostly) core. Pretty badass. As you can see, I wasn't quite keeping up.  I'm in the blue tank top on the far right.
Monday: Alger Alp run + Lookout Mountain, 13 miles, 1,300 ft/climb
Tuesday:  7 mile tempo on Sehome loop. 500 ft/climb. 1 hour on bike with altitude training.
Wednesday: 8 miles Sehome loop, 500 ft/climb. Flew to NZ today!
Thursday: I'm in NZ!! 6.5 mile flat run on urban Dunedin paved trail. Easy pace.
Friday: 4 miles Dunedin hills, 1,700 ft/climb. 1 hour Core workout with Anna
Saturday: 4 miles in hills of Dunedin 1800ft/climb
Sunday: 2 miles on the beach and dunes for photoshoot, 500ft/climb

Running Miles: 44.5 miles
Running Elevation Gain: 6,300 feet/gain
Cross training: 1 hour core workout class
Biking: 1 hour on bike with altitude training (@10,000 feet).

Training Journal 2/25-3/3

Monday, February 25- Sunday, March 3, 2013: This week was tough. I race directed the second race in the BTRS and struggled to have enough energy to run. My long run was foiled by extreme low energy on Wednesday, severe enough that I took Thursday off (save for a core workout).  Thursday marked the first day of altitude training.  Quickly coming up is my trip to New Zealand (leave on the 6th of March).  Life is busy!
Me in the middle in the green jacket with runners of the Stewart Mountain 5k/15k
Monday: 5 mile recovery run at Ft. Ebey State Park. 600 ft/climb.
Tuesday: Ran the Stewart Mountain 15k course, 9.5 miles with 1,200 ft/climb. 1hr 30 min. Felt tired.  Lungs were working hard. Core work, 30 min.
Wednesday: 4,300 ft/climbing in 16.5 miles on first half of the Lost Lake 50k course. I was going to do all 31 miles, but was very tired.
Thursday: day off due to unusual fatigue. 45 min core work.
Friday: 6.5 mile run sehome hill trails & sehome hill urban loop. 1,400 ft/climbing. 30 min core work.
Saturday: 10 miles, part course marking Stewart and part as a hill workout. (20 second Hill sprints x10). 1,200 ft/climb.
Sunday: Race directed Stewart Mt. & did 2 runs-- 3 miles easy in afternoon w/girls 500 ft/climb.  7 mile tempo on Connoly creek/Boulevard loop. 400 ft/climb. 57 mins.

Running Miles: 57 miles
Running Elevation Gain: 9,600 feet/climbing
Cross training: 3 days of core work for 30/45 min each day.
Time Exercising: 12.25hrs

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tarawera 85k Race Report

Native Forest tour on the North Island, pictured with some of the best ultra runners in the world!  Droz Photo.
If you had asked me a year ago where I'd be today, I would've been completely wrong.  In many ways my life and running have changed dramatically.  Which explains why I am now writing a race report for a race I just completed in New Zealand.  I was lucky enough to be contacted by Salomon late last year, and as a result, I had the opportunity to travel overseas to compete in an international level trail race, the Tarawera Ultra.  I realized how different this race would be from many of my past races when I was almost immediately interviewed by some kiwis via the internet about my upcoming race.  I am fairly new to racing and it was exciting to be a part of something that so many people valued.
Running on the beach in Dunedin. Photo by Droz.
What I didn't expect was how busy I'd be in New Zealand!   The trip centered around filming of Anna Frost.  If you don't know Anna, you don't follow trail races.  In the women's field, Anna has dominated trail races internationally for several years now.  Salomon planned their trip to New Zealand to create a film about her life and the country she comes from.  The first week in New Zealand was packed with activities as we explored Anna's backyard.  We ran, surfed, sprinted dunes on the beach in Dunedin, visited a local brewery and winery, ran most of the Kepler Track (50k), picnicked at Anna's house, visited a native forest, were blessed by the Māori people during a tour of their home, and took a helicopter out of Queenstown into the mountains for a photo shoot.  Four flights later, we were on the North Island for two more activity packed days before the Tarawera Ultra.
Running the Kepler Trail on Tuesday.
Getting surfing lessons on Monday in Dunedin. Droz Photo.
Whew!  I get tired just writing about it!  What an amazing journey, but not much of a taper.  Before coming to NZ, I struggled with some health issues.  To summarize, I have been having trouble breathing, especially when I run. I have had unusually low energy, heavy leg feeling, and a general lack of motivation (mostly spurred on my the low energy issue).   There are other "symptoms" that come and go, but currently the most pressing are the afrementioned ones.  As you can imagine I was worried about running a 100k with these issues. Just before leaving my home of Bellingham, WA my personal trainer told me that technically with my symptoms she couldn't work with me until I saw a doctor.  Great.  Well, as I tend to do, I decided that everything was just fine, I was just a little stresssed out.
Running with Grant Guise in the forest near Dunedin. Droz Photo.
Running in New Zealand was no different, I felt tired and my breathing was labored.  With the happy exception of running the Kepler Trail, all my other runs were difficult, even when they were just 4 miles long. I dwell on these issues because I am very confused by the seemly "sudden" onset of them.  I was in the best shape of my life last fall coming off a 2nd place woman/7th overall (and 4th fastest women's time ever) at the Tahoe Rim 100 in July.  I set the women's FKT on Mt. Rainier's Wonderland Trail in September and trained diligently throughout November and December to prepare for the HURT 100 where I placed 3rd despite spraining my ankle at mile 3.

Running in the first 20k. Droz Photo.
Whatever was going on physically/mentally, I knew that I would start the race in New Zealand.  One thing I have learned is that you never know how you'll feel on race day.  It's best to go for it, even if you feel unprepared. You can always drop.  Our bodies often complain in the weeks before a big race as we stress out and taper for the race.  It's normal and I have experienced it before with no ill effects.  Before the Tahoe Rim 100, I got a mere 3 hours of sleep and was grumpy for 3 days prior. I started the race and immediately felt really damn good. I was prepared.  I had so much fun!
Looking through the options at the Aid Station. Droz Photo.
With these thoughts in mind I lined up behind the front of the pack on the morning of March 16th.  It was still dark, but it would be less than an hour before the hillsides lit up with the sunrise.  The gun went off and I felt that dreaded fatigue almost immediately. Damn, no start of race adreneline to numb my muscles.  I started out conservatively, but my lungs were very tight and my breathing was labored.  The race began almost immediately uphill. It was runnable, but not in my current state and I ran/hiked the first 10 miles.

At 10 miles I had the thought that it sure felt like I'd already done 50 miles.  Good thing I am a 100 mile runner--- if you've done 50, you can still do 50 more.  Somehow this was comforting.  I ran, very aware of my pace being sub-par, but forced myself to smile and enjoy the ride.  I am lucky that I enjoy a good, long sufferfest.  And this would most certainly be a good, long sufferfest.  If I played it right, I could still run strong and finish well despite my early onset fatigue.  I've done enough 50+ races to know that if you just stick with it and finish strong, you can end up on top.
Smiling through the pain
The race is actually relatively flat. It is tough because there are many rolling hills and some technical sections.  I missed having long (2mile+) downhills.  There was no time to recover before the next uphill came.  The race had a total of 9,700 ft of climbing over 53 miles.  The course runs along several lakes and through a jungle-like forest.  I briefly considered dropping to the 60k as I came into the 60k turnaround.  I knew I'd be disappointed if I did that, so I continued on.  The week of the race I'd pretty much decided I'd be doing the 85k (53 miles) instead of the 100k due to my health issues.  As I ran, this thought was a little comforting. 

The most beautiful part of the course was the 10k before the turnaround, including the incredible Tarawera Falls.  I drew some energy from the beauty and serenity and powered on.  I was in 4th place (in the 100k) at the turnaround and the 5th place woman was just 8/10 of a mile behind me.  I decided to push hard the entire way back so she couldn't catch me.  I powered up the hills and flew down the downhills, running faster on the way back than I had on the way out.   My body protested, but I did not listen. I was getting very close to the 85k finish.

In the last 14 miles I passed more than 20 people.  I was on a roll.  I had been working hard for so long, I didn't want anyone to pass me.  It was a feeling of elation and pleasure to finish the 85k!  I sprinted though the finish line and went to the First Aid tent to get my many scrapes/cuts cleaned and then into the lake to wash off the dirt that coated most of my body.  I'd fallen twice, quite hard, and I wanted to make sure I didn't get an infection.  The finish line folks informed me that the 3rd place woman in the 100k had dropped to the 85k when she realized she was peeing blood.  That meant I came in 2nd place.  Not bad, considering how horrible I felt all day.
My finishing medals
The Tarawera marks the end of a training cycle for me.  I am excited to add some stregth training to my workouts as well as a lot of biking.  I am going to play it easy on the running until my body comes back around.  In the meantime, hopefully I can figure out what's going on.

Battle wounds....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2nd in Tarawera 85k

A quick update for those of you who were wondering how my race in New Zealand went: I finished 2nd woman and 7th overall in the Tarawera 85k (that's 53 miles for USA folks). My time was 10:37 on a deceptively tough roiling course. The week before the race, I decided I'd probably run the 85k instead of the 100k due to some recent health issues.  Despite never really feeling good the entire race (by mile 10 I felt as though I'd raced 50 miles) and falling pretty hard twice, I toughed it out knowing that a lot of people helped me to get to New Zealand and were counting on me.  Having raced 100 milers, I knew that I could do another 50 miles, even if I felt like I'd already done 50!  My body felt tired, yet I enjoyed every minute of the race. Race Director Paul put on an amazing world class event, thanks Paul! 
Photo credit Mike Tennet

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Longest Plane Ride Ever

Today I leave on the longest plane ride I have ever taken.  I'll be heading to New Zealand to join some of the Salomon team as we explore Anna Frost's backyard.  The trip will conclude with the Tarawera Trail RaceFrançois and I will run the 100k.  Anna, Greg, Emelie, and Ricky will all run the 60k.  I am very excited for this new adventure but completely lost in what to pack.  For example, Anna says the leaves are turning yellow and the wind is starting to blow from Antarctica so I will need warm clothes, but I look at the weather report and it says 75F as a high and 53F as a low.  That is summer here in the Pacific Northwest!  Being that we will be in the mountains, it will be colder for sure.  So I have packed a variety for varied conditions!  I will be posting as I am able the adventures of our trip with photos.  The trip is still a bit of a mystery to me, so I am unsure when I will be able to get online.
The 100k course. The race organizers just posted that we will likely be doing the Fire Route as the area has received little/no rain for a long while.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Strange Symptoms

I've been struggling for about 3 weeks with some weird symptoms that seemed to be all over the board despite my mileage and training intensity being lower than normal. Looking back, it seems like I have been dealing with these symptoms in a more minor way, since mid-December.  The symptoms hit a peak last week when I tried to run the Lost Lake 50k course as a training run and could barely get up the hills, I stopped short with only 16.5 miles. I took the next day off and struggled to even walk from room to room without feeling breathless. How could this be?  I was as well trained as I have ever been in my life.  I had a month of lower mileage (60-70 mile weeks) compared to my favored 90 mile weeks. Some of the symptoms I was feeling:
Elevating my legs after a long and really slow workout this past week.
1. Low energy so severe at times I can't run a simple hill or get work done on the computer after a hard workout.
2. Creepy skin/nerve feeling like an itching on skin, especially on arms. Along with this I was feeling some weird crawling going up my legs that felt less painful than the arm itching and more jumpy feeling.
3. Shortness of breath: I'd have to stop to catch my breath just walking into the kitchen.
4. Heart palpitations daily
5. Trouble maintaining my usual speed on the trails and road, even on an easy day
6. Regular headaches

I was starting to think I was going crazy or something was more seriously wrong than I realized.  Doing a little research on my symptoms (and with some medical knowlegdge to begin with) I began to suspect that I had developed an iron deficiency.

Apparently this is quite common in runners. Based on my symptoms, I got pretty deficient!  I am finally feeling better after almost a week of supplementation. I've included a few articles on iron deficiency, but beware of supplementing without getting tested, too much of a good thing can be dangerous.

Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron Deficiency in Runners
Athletes and Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron and the Endurance Athlete
Iron Deficiency in Runners