Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Short: 4:14:07, bad cold, #51 for 2006

The weekend before, my husband and I got our Christmas tree. We returned to a tree farm in Enumclaw (WA) where we got last year’s tree. It was cold and foggy out and as usual, it took a long time to pick one out. I told my husband that I didn’t want one as big this year because it took too long to decorate the year before. I don’t know if it was the darkness setting in or me getting my ass frozen off that led me to choose a tree that was even bigger than last years. The guy at the tree farm said that the open space outside is misleading in that when you get your tree home, it turns out to be larger than you expected once inside the home. He was sure right! He used his BIG chainsaw to cut it down and getting it into our truck was quite a chore.

It was well dark when we arrived home. I moved some furniture around to make room for the tree and Ken set about getting the tree stand on it. We learned from last year that getting the tree stand on it before bringing it into the house was much smarter than trying to wrestle with it to get into that little hole with it upright. We called Cliff, his brother, to come help us drag it into the house. In my efforts to keep the cat out while the door was open, I slipped and fell on our hardwood floors and landed firmly on my left hip. The pain was immediate and I laid there in shock for only few seconds. I needed to get up and help with guiding the tree in. I don’t know how they were able to squeeze this huge tree through a regular doorway, but Ken said that it took all his strength to get that tree in and upright. Cliff was huffing and puffing in agreement. Ken figures the tree had to weigh about 300 pounds. Its trunk is massive at about 10 inches in diameter, standing 13-14 feet tall, and laden with far-reaching, heavy, and healthy branches. I limped around as we cleaned up for the night and called Mary canceling our run for the next day. I slept on an ice pack all night and my hip was better the next day but not good enough to run on. Mary took advantage of the time off and slept in. Ken and I spent the entire day decorating our tree after he had trimmed off some branches to open it up more. Even with that, we still ended up using 400 more lights this year than last year with it probably now having a total of 3000 lights. It’s a beautiful tree!

Anyway, having this very fragrant tree in our house and working closely to it triggered my asthma, which made me susceptible to a cold. My cold kept getting worse as the week progressed, but it was not bad enough to prevent me from doing four double runs during the week in my quest to reach 3000 miles for the year. But by Thursday night, it had really affected my sleep. That, coupled with a very stressful day at work, culminated in the peak of my cold by Friday night. My husband welcomed me home with an endearing, “Hello, sicko.” I was coughing up thick yellow stuff that was plugging my airways. They were coming from deep within my chest. Even simple tasks like going up the stairs from our basement left me short of breath. This did not bode well for my marathon the next day. I had another restless night before having to wake up at 4:45.

I met Mel Preedy, Tony C, and King Arthur at the park and ride at 5:30. Mel drove and we sat in the comfort of his brand new car. I felt bad carpooling with them sick. I was a veritable petri dish! I tried to keep my talking down to a minimum and covered my nose and mouth every time I sneezed or cough. I hope none of them got sick. We arrived before 8AM and the race was to start at 9. Scott Krell, the RD, had not planned on having an early start, but there were about 10 of us there who wanted to get going including Bob Dolphin, Stan Nakashima, Dave Dutton, and Rick Haase. Scott didn’t think that Tony, Arthur, and I needed to start early and called us “troublemakers.” But he let us go anyway and we were off! The weather was actually pleasant for a change.

I had been coughing and hacking before the start and it continued for a few miles before I settled into a reasonable pace. Usually when I do the one nose blow, anything that comes out lands on the ground with a smack. On this day, it was so thick that it was flapping in the wind until I wiped it off. I had never run a race this sick. But I didn’t want to cancel it because the next weekend I planned on finalizing my race for the 23rd. I didn’t want to enter last minute in the Christmas Marathon and pay a lot of money. And, I wanted my race to be my 52nd. So I plodded along feeling like I was working as hard as I could but still running over 9 minute miles. I was miserable the whole race but after reaching the one aid station after about 14 miles, I got a lot worse. I had stopped to get more fluids and Gu. But the stopping was what made it worse. My body had settled into a rhythm of breathing and needed to start all over again. I walked out of the aid station very short of breath and my chest was killing me. It felt like someone had punched me there several times and I had a deep burning pain. All the coughing had overworked my chest muscles and every breath was painful and shallow. I had to stop and walk a few times to catch my breath before I was able to run steadily again. Plus, my body felt weak, and I struggled with the weight of my water bottle, constantly needing to change hands, something I usually don’t notice. I walked the one steep hill that is in the first half of that loop. I had to walk when I ate my Gu and go through the process of getting my rhythm again. I knew that a sub-4 hour marathon was not possible and decided to take it easy. I ran through the aid station before the last 2.5 miles to avoid stopping. The wind had picked up by now. I finished in 4:14 and dropped my bottle next to Mel’s car.

Tony and I had talked about running a few extra miles after the race, but it looked like he changed his mind and had already changed into warm clothes. I had been debating what I would do. On the one hand, I was obviously very sick and stopping would be the prudent thing to do. On the other hand, what damage I had done probably already had been done and running a few more miles would not make that much difference. Besides, I was feeling a little better by the time I finished the marathon. I decided not to stop to think about it and just dropped my bottle and turned around. I told Tony that I was not going to be long. My plan was to run out to meet Mel and run in with him. What I didn’t know was that Mel was struggling out there. I saw Arthur at about 2 miles out and decided to turn around at the 2.5-mile point where the aid station was after hearing that Mel was not near. When I set out, the wind had become much stronger. What I don’t understand was how it was a headwind both ways because when I turned around, the wind was fierce! It took me 50 minutes to run that extra five miles, making it a 50K day for me. As soon as I finished, I got into Mel’s car and tried to catch my breath. Again, the stopping led to coughing and difficulty breathing as I had anticipated. I changed slowly into dry clothes between breaths and was warm. It had started to rain as soon as I got into the car. I was worried about the people still out there.

I emerged from the car and went to get something to eat. First it was hot chicken noodle soup. I visited with some people I had not seen in a while like Mark Hartinger and his dog Bruce, who ran the marathon with him. I had two hot dogs, something Scott has learned is a favorite of mine and others after running. He told me that Stacy “Possum” was unable to finish. She apparently was not feeling well and was throwing up. Unlike me, she was smarter and listened to her body. There were only two other women in the race. Karen Wiggens came in while I was eating. Chris Ralph was still out there. I felt embarrassed to learn that I was the first woman with a time for 4:14! John Bandur came in, then Chris Ralph and Tom Ripley, then Bob Dolphin, and then finally Mel. Each of them had spent a good hour out there with the rain and wind. Tony and Arthur ran Mel in the last stretch. Arthur said that he commented to Mel, “It was a personal worse for me today.” Mel replied. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” I just love Mel! He can find humor in a situation even if he didn’t have such a hot day. But I’m glad everyone returned safe.

Arthur was kind enough to drive us home in Mel’s car. I was in no position to drive. My cold continued to attack my body. I coughed up some big wads after the race and my body ached. What really hurt most were my head and eyes. I had a fierce headache and my eyes felt like they had been punched. It was probably from all the pressure I created when I coughed. I took a lot of Advil, but it only took the edge off. We arrived home at the park and ride a half-day after starting our journey. We departed ways, but not for long before the next training run or race. My next one will be #52 at my race. I hope to healthy again by then.

I drove the short distance home. I became very short of breath just going from my car to the house carrying my bag. It was hard to imagine that this weakling of a person had run 51 races this year including the one earlier in the day. My breathing would only improve after clearing my chest of the secretions plugging my airways. My husband told me that I sounded like I was dying when he got home. I am better today, although not yet back to normal. At least I was able to clean the house without having to catch my breath. Looks like I may be on the mend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006



Short: 5:05:26, first woman, 7th overall.

After running my 50mile/marathon double last weekend, my legs were spent. These last few weeks of racing seemed to be catching up with me. I was not recovering as well as I had earlier in the year. I was not able to run on Monday or Tuesday. I ran on my treadmill on Wednesday and Thursday, two miles each and at a 9-minute pace. I was sweating profusely and working harder than I thought I should have that late in the week.

By Thursday, there had been talk that Ron Herzog/Tanks A Lot 50K was not going to happen due to all of the recent rain and flooding. Tony Covarrubias and I were discussing putting together a last minute option. I had spoken to Roger Michel, the race director Thursday night about checking out the Redmond Watershed trail as a possible location He mentioned that there had been some work on the pipeline and parts of the trails were closed off earlier in the year. Not wanting to hold a race where trails could be closed, I needed to check it out on Friday. Roger was planning on marking the Ron Herzog trail on Friday also and letting everyone know if the race was to happen by the afternoon.

I worked half a day Friday and picked up Mary Hanna, who was good enough to accompany me to the watershed trail. I never like running alone, especially in the woods. We arrived at the watershed a little after three and started our run. The trails were mostly in good condition. There were a lot of leaves down, making the possibility of slipping on a wet, covered rock very likely. There were puddles, some spanning the trail, but all of them could be run around. None of the trails that we ran in were closed off. We got soaking wet running a large loop of 5.5 miles and small loop of 0.7 miles. In all, it took us 54 minutes to run about a 6.2 mile course or 10K. Multiply that by 5 and you have a 50K. So now I had a course, but I really didn’t look forward to putting on a race with only two days notice. I still needed to buy some survey tape, make copies of the trail to put in zip-lock bags to hand out, and mark the trail early in the morning. Then I would also have to sweep it after the race.

Mary and I changed into dry clothes to head home. It took us 2 ½ hours to drive from Redmond to Maple Valley. We sat on 520 most of the time. We were stuck in Friday night traffic in the city! I called my husband to check my e-mail. He told me the Ron Herzog race was on. What a relief! Now all I needed to do was to get home so that I could pack for the race.

I met Tony C, King Arthur, and Shawn Lawson at a park and ride for our trip to Granite Falls. We arrived an hour before the start and saw the early starters take off. Our race started at 8AM. There were a total of 35 runners including the early starters. It was a good mixture of runners, from fast guys to first ultras. Fortunately, it was not raining when we started. I was dressed to stay warm since it had snowed at the higher elevations yesterday. Plus, we knew we were going to get wet even if it didn’t rain.

We started on forest service roads, which went on for about 11 miles. The first 1.5 miles was mostly flat with a few ups and downs. Then there were some steep ups to about 7 miles. I walked those hills and ran the flats and downs. I could feel the fatigue in my legs. They just did not have that “get up and go” feeling. Ellen, a young and fast looking girl flew by me. Wendy, a strong running buddy of mine, said that she was going to take it easy and run with another guy. But Wendy is strong on the hills, and I could not keep up with them. Finally, the road descended for about 2-3 miles and I was able to pick up my pace. It took that first 7 miles for me to loosen up. It also started to rain by then. Actually, it was raining and snowing because I got white flakes stuck to my black shirt and gloves. I put my fleece hat back on and zipped up my Patagonia shirt (the one I won at Baker Lake). It was nice because it covered my neck. I was getting cold! I caught up with Wendy and 4 other guys and ran ahead. I actually wanted to get to the tank traps before they did so that I would not get caught behind a train of people.

I was partway into the traps when Wendy called out to me that the trail markers went another way. I yelled back and said I was looking right at a flag. I knew I was on the correct trail since I was familiar with the surroundings. I stayed in front of them, but a couple of times when the trail dipped down into a trench, they would be there. The traps were the best I had seen them in the four years that I have run this race. There was a lot of standing water on the ground, but it was not as overgrown. Tony C and the past race directors agreed. I didn’t run it as fast as I have in the past because last year I nearly got my eye poked out. I think that if I had some kind of safety glasses on, I would have plowed through there despite branches jabbing you in the neck, chest, ribs, arms, and legs. I couldn’t tell if it was raining, but I was soaked through to the skin anyway. I had collected all of the moisture off of the surrounding brush. My hands got so cold that I felt that they were going through the freeze-thaw cycle several times. My feet got so wet and cold that my Superfeet inserts actually froze! It felt like I was running on wood planks. There was one knee deep stream crossing. The rest were ankle deep in melted snow.

We finally emerged from the tank traps after running through it for about 2-3 miles. Then, there was about a 2-3 mile stretch back on the one lane road that was covered in slush. Some parts were slightly uphill. I had passed several people at this point, some of them early starters. I picked up the pace hoping to see the first girl or Tony. I arrived at the one and only aid station for the course at the halfway point. I didn’t want to stop very long at all, knowing that I would get too cold if I stood around. So I reached into my drop bag and exchanged my soaking fleece hat and gloves for dry ones. Then, I took off. As I was leaving the aid station, I saw that Ellen was still there. I looked back and Wendy and her group were just coming into the aid station. I thought I had lost them in that last stretch, but they were sticking close by.

I hammered that first part of the second half, hoping to distance myself from Ellen and Wendy. The road descended for about 2-3 miles. I caught up with Tony about 5 minutes after leaving the aid station. He was standing there adjusting his gloves. He said his hands were frozen. I was glad I had some dry ones on. I had learned a lot in my previous races here of what to wear. I don’t carry hand-helds at this race because you’re hands get too frozen and cannot hold onto the bottles. Dry hat and gloves are essential, but changing into a dry shirt or socks is not necessary. The time it takes to do that kind of stuff only allows your body temp to drop. Any changes in clothing have to be short and quick. But an addition of a shell would probably help and is quick. I had a shell jacket strapped to my hydration pack, but I didn’t think I needed it as long as I was moving. I was cruising along feeling pretty good until I reached the section that I always forget about. Actually, this was only the second time I have run the Ron Herzog. The other times I ran the out and back through the tanks in the Tanks A Lot version. At this point in the Ron Herzog, the road ascends gradually over the next 4, maybe five miles. It’s not steep enough to walk, but it definitely slows you down and wears you out. Still, I did not walk any of the second half, worried that if I did, Wendy would catch me with her strong uphill running.

I ran the second half all by myself. I did not see another soul after I passed Tony. The trail finally started to descend with about 4 miles to go on the forest service road. It descended steeply with some switchbacks. A car was coming down, and I was tempted to ask the driver where the next girl was. But I didn’t and continued my pace. I talked to him later. He was checking on his wife who was running her first 50K. She finished in 6:59:59! He said I looked like I was screaming down the hill. He could have also told me that the next girl was way back. With about three miles to go, the dirt road turned into asphalt. It traveled through the woods still with two gradual but descent ups that I could have totally seen myself walking, but I dug deep and ran them. As soon as I hit the asphalt, my left knee gave out like it had at Autumn Leaves. It’s amazing how that happened but it only did it once. Finally, with two miles to go, you emerge onto Mountain Loop Highway, the road that we drove in on. I knew that there was a steep downhill at the very end that you could see from the start/finish area. But I didn’t know how far away that was. I kept looking for the yellow road sign that shows a picture of a truck going down a steep grade. I looked at my watch and thought that maybe I could break 5 hours. I started sprinting and saw that sign. But 5 hours had come and gone and that hill was longer than I thought. Even at the bottom of the hill, there is a ¼ mile stretch of flat. Still, I was happy with my time, especially since it was 20 minutes faster than my Ron Herzog time last year that I struggled in and after all the racing that I have done this year. Maybe I am getting faster after all.

Tony finished 5 minutes after me, Wendy 11 minutes, and Ellen 19 minutes. I immediately changed into dry clothes and hung around eating soup with all the other finishers. It was great visiting with them. Shawn and Arthur finished within seconds of each other, both having run an extra mile looking for each other and thinking the other one was lost in the tank traps. What good people we have in the trail running community! Our drive home was uneventful as the Everett traffic was the best I had seen in a long time. We joked and laughed on the ride home, already looking forward to the next time we would meet again. I picked up some pad thai, planted myself down in front of the TV, and waited for my husband to come home. He told me about his climbing day and I told him about my run. What a great day it was! I feel great today (Sunday), and probably could have run a better marathon today than the one I had run last weekend. That just shows how much my legs like trails more. But at least now I can feel better knowing that my body is back to recovering like it had earlier in the year.

Friday, November 10, 2006


11/4/06 and 11/5/06

Short: Autumn Leaves 50 Mile 7:19:34, First woman, 3rd overall. United We Run Marathon 4:14:47.

I somewhat had been dreading this particular weekend because the majority of the race surface would be on roads, and I have become more aware of my sensitivity towards it. But after having passed my boards with high marks (I got a score of 710 when 379 was needed to pass and the 99th percentile was 700), going into this weekend carried less mental stress. That was until Tony Covarrubias and Olga Varlomova got involved. I had planned on just running the 50K at Autumn Leaves because two years ago I did the 50 mile race and swore I would never do that distance again there. It just hurt too much. But Tony mentioned be me that the 50 milers would get a belt buckle, and I collect those kinds of things, so I reluctantly signed up for the 50 miler knowing that suffering was in store. More on Olga’s contribution later.

I left for Portland after work Friday at about 3:30pm. I had been exchanging e-mails earlier in the week with Olga, Eric Barnes, and Steve Stoyles. Olga was letting all 3 of us crash at her house in Tigard, just south of Portland and only a 25 minute drive to the start. I wished I had ridden down with Eric and Steve, who only arrived minutes before, but I was not sure what time I would be able to leave work. They had already ordered pizza from Round Table and Eric and Steve graciously declined any contributions from me. While waiting for the pizza, we sat around the dining room table and talked about what else? Running. Eric planned on running the 50 miler with the early start to finish around the same time that Steve would complete the 50K, which started 3 hours after Eric’s start.

Olga had urged me to apply for the Montrail running team earlier in the year, but I was reluctant since I thought people were usually recruited. But I had e-mailed the person now in charge of finding people, Paul Curran, who took over that duty when Krissy Moehl left Montrail when Montrail moved to Portland. Anyway, I was accepted into the Regional Team at the end of October. I hesitated to tell anyone since it’s not exactly “official” yet, but I figured I needed to tell Olga since she was the reason I applied in the first place. I also figured that after I told Olga, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. Olga’s always trying to bring out the best in me, so she suggested that I try to run a sub-7hr race at Autumn Leaves. Now, I had planned on running a sub-8hr or come close to my time of 7:41 two years ago. However, she piqued my interest and I sat down to calculate what it would take to run 7hr flat. I needed to run an average of 42 minute per 5 mile loop. That seemed like a big stretch for me since I had such a horrible race at Tri-Cities.

We retired some time after 9PM. I had brought my cot and sleeping bag and set it up in her dining room. Sleep was intermittent, which is always the case for me in new places. There were normal house noises I was not used to. Olga and Eric needed to leave early for his start and Olga’s volunteer work. I got up not long after them at 4:45 and got ready myself. Eric’s start was at 6AM and mine was at 7AM. Just like Tri-Cities, I was not sure of what I needed to where for the weather.

I arrived at Champoeg (pronounced shampoo-eee) State Park and saw the early starters out on the trail with their flashlights. I had a thin long sleeve shirt on, shorts, and no hat or gloves. I felt pretty warm and asked Olga, long sleeve or short sleeve? She said short. She was right; I was totally warm in the first loop. Each loop was 5 miles. The first 1.5 miles was flat and paved to the one aid station out on the course. Then, you did a 1 mile out then back to the aid station, still on a paved bike path. Then there was a short jaunt over a short bridge to the trail part of the loop, which was about 1.3 miles. This trail portion was mostly flat with very slight rolling. The trail part stopped about 200 yards to the slightly uphill finish of each loop. After 4 loops, I was totally hot in this overcastted and breezy day. I stripped off my shirt and ran only in my sports bra and shorts. Still, my face was hot when the wind was not blowing.

I carried a hand-held and had my asthma inhaler, e-caps, and one gel in my back pocket of my shorts for each loop. I didn’t want a waist pack, because those give me back pain on long road races. And I didn’t need a hydration pack. But I didn’t want to carry my hand-held the entire run. So, I dropped off my bottle at the aid station before the one mile out and back for each loop, limiting my need to carry it to only 3 miles per loop. The aid station workers were great! They would see me coming to take the bottle from me and ask if I wanted anything in it, which was usually “no” so that I would have less to carry. Then they would see me coming back from my out and back and hold their arm straight out so that I could grab it without breaking stride. About that time I would have an e-cap before I hit the trail. Just before the loop would end, I took in a gel and deposited my trash as I was coming in to the start/finish of the loop. I did this on every loop and it worked like a charm. I needed to take in a few extra e-caps after the third loop because I thought I was cramping in my calves. But I think that when I took off my shirt, I was not sweating as much and must have helped me lose less salt.

Since there was that out and back, I saw all the runners at one point in their race or another. They were all very encouraging. I’m afraid I was so focused on my goal to finish in 7 hours that I don’t think I smiled much. In fact, I think I had on a grimace most of the time. But they all said that I looked very strong out there, even though I felt like crap. I hate racing my races! There is an element of pressure there that can make the run unpleasant. The only reward usually is a good finishing time and placement. But I was moving along at a pretty good clip. I even lapped people, some of them twice! My loop splits were: (1) 41:02, (2) 39:58, (3) 39:59, (4) 40:55, (5) 42:03, (6) 42:46, (7) 45:50, (8) 48:28, (9) 50:20, (10) 48:10. So my slowest loop was not so bad. Ten minute miles are still considered respectable, right?

After my first loop, I said to Olga, who as manning the Start/Finish aid station, that I didn’t want to work this hard, because I thought it was a struggle to pump out a sub-42 minute loop. In true Olga fashion, she said, “Oh stop complaining and get out there and run!” I just love her! I must have warmed up enough in the first loop because my second and third loops felt better and my times were a little faster. But the winds started to make an appearance in by the 4th loop. They were not by tri-Cities standard, but I knew that they were enough of a deterrent to keep me from a 7-hour finish since they did make me expend more energy or caused me to slow my pace to avoid expending that energy. It didn’t blow hard the entire loop, just the areas that were more open, about 1-1.5 miles of it. The rain threatened a few times with sprinkles, but my sweating made me wetter than the rain. I finished before the downpours came. There were people still out on the course when I left, so they were not so lucky. My problems came in the second half. I had run a strong 1st half, and I don’t think I “went out too fast.” My marathon time was 3:34.

I completed the 6th loop still with a good time of 42:46, but I started to have problems in my left knee with a sharp pain and a sensation of it giving out on me. It really didn’t give out; it just felt like it was going to. I think it was a result of quad fatigue, and I have noticed in the last 4-5 races that I have done that my left quad has become fatigued faster. My 50K time was 4:15:45, which may be my fasted 50K time ever! Anyway, the giving out sensation happened 4 times in the 6th loop and continued through the 7-9th loop. I wouldn’t stop and walk, because past experience had shown me that walking allows it to stiffen up more and thus take longer to loosen up if I rested it. So I continued running and every once in a while, I would have to hop on my right leg to stop the sensation, then I would continue on. In fact, I didn’t walk the entire race except for when I left an aid station. Thus, this problem with my left knee slowed my loop times enough that I lost the 6 minute cushion I had developed in the first half for a 7-hour finish by loop 9.

Knowing that I was not going to be able to do that, I decided to just try to enjoy the last two loops. I had found early on that I was not racing against other women, just the clock. There were some strong women runners out there though. My 9th loop was the slowest due to the knee problem, wind, and the loss of urgency for a 7-hour finish. But I decided to run as fast as I could in the last loop, since it appeared that I could finish under 7:30. Interestingly, the faster I ran, the less my knee hurt. I ran the last loop without a bottle and stopped at the aid station out on the course. However, as I was nearing the end of my final loop, I realized that I could break 7:20. So I booked that last trail section and sprinted the last 200 yards, finishing in my adjusted goal of sub 7:20 in 7:19:34, a 12 minute PR for me in the 50 mile distance!

I finished first woman and 3rd overall. The RD said that my time was not a course record but will rank up there in one of the fastest all time list. I just sat there at the finish aching. But I didn’t want to go in the lake even if I knew it would help me recover for UWR. There’s a big difference soaking after each marathon in sunny Lake Tahoe at the Triple compared to a cold, rainy, and windy fall day in the Pacific Northwest. If there had been a massage therapist there, I would have paid good money for a short session. I hung around a while, delaying the time that I would get in my car to drive home with a stick shift and 4 hours in the rain. I had a little bite of the sub sandwich and chips available to the finishers, but what I really craved was a big, greasy hamburger. The tomato soup was warming. I talked to Sean Meissner a little. He did the 50K and missed his mark of a sub-3:40 finish by mere seconds. I was watching his race with great interest because in the last 2 loops, there was another guy in front of him. I was just about to finish one of my loops and saw Sean and this guy come in. The other guy kept looking back at Sean, who was only a few strides behind him. Then I saw that at the very end, Sean broke out in front of him to finish first. Turns out that it was his pacer. It was too bad that he did not meet his goal either, but came a lot closer than I did. I also mentioned to him that we would be teammates, since he runs for Montrail. He said that he knew because Olga told him. See, I told you it was not a secret anymore!

I got my belt buckle, hit the road, and got my big, greasy hamburger. It was raining so hard that just opening my window to place my order at the drive-thru left me soaking wet! The drive home was another white knuckle drive. It was even worse than the drive down. There was so much standing water and the visibility was terrible. I really can’t stand the semi-truck drivers. I think that because they sit higher up, their visibility is better than us down lower. So they continue to drive their regular speed, which is 65-70 even when their speed limit is 60. So I planted myself a good distance behind a truck traveling about 65. Even then, I would get passed by passenger cars going 70 that would splash the standing water on my windshield causing me to lose complete site of the road temporarily for 2-3 seconds even with my wipers going full blast. No, I couldn’t even fall asleep even if I wanted to. I had a few times where my feet would cramp up on me and would need to stomp them on the floor of the car. I arrived home at 7:30, had dinner, told Ken about my day, and had another restless night.

Sunday came with an overwhelming sense of fatigue. But alas, I needed to meet King Arthur at Alki to carpool to Kent. This race is a point to point course that runs from Kent to Alki. Another maniac was with Arthur, Shawn Lawson, who had a great run. There were a lot of maniacs at this race as there had been at Autumn Leaves. This race also included a relay. This is a low key, no cost race, but the t-shirts are always great for a small fee. The course was mostly marked, but due to the monsoon in this area the day before, a small portion was not freshly marked. There were remnants of the markings from the year before that were still visible. There were several aid stations on the course, but you still had to plan on being self-sufficient. It’s always a fun group, and the reward in the end is Fish and Chips at the famous Spud’s right there at the finish. (Paid by you, of course.)

I knew in the first mile that I would be okay. I was stiff, but nothing really hurt that much. I did have a swollen toe from Autumn Leaves. It was angry looking when I went to bed the night before. It was less swollen when I woke up but was still tender to the touch, especially the toenail, which was still attached. So I tape it up good, and it didn’t bother me until after the finish. I knew my time would be slow, but that was okay with me. I had an excuse. The theme of the day seemed to be, “Don’t let Van beat you.” I guess people were worried that I could outrun them even after running hard the day before. They had nothing to worry about. Two consecutive road races in two days are much different than a road-trail or trail-road combination. I definitely could not have run harder and still enjoy myself. However, I ran most of the race alone. We lucked out on the weather. We were in between storm systems. One had blown through on Saturday, and another one was expected to come Sunday night. In fact, I think the rain started after everyone had finished. I ran a steady pace the first 24 miles. But when I knew that I only had two miles left, I decided to sprint in. Mary Hanna was driving by and honked at me. I waved back. She had a cross-country race earlier in the morning (and took first Masters in her age category) and had said earlier in the week that she would run out from the finish, meet me, and run me in. Well, I thought that she would not get to run with me much because I knew she had to find a parking space and I was booking it. I think I may have run 8 minute miles those last 2 miles. She ran out to me, and I had only ½ a mile to go. She said, “Wow, you’re running pretty fast after running 50 miles yesterday.” I told her that I just wanted to get it over with. I really had enough of running for the weekend. Usually I don’t say that, but that’s the roads talking. I was hobbling a lot more after this race than my 50 miler. I think I’ll rest some before the trail 50K next weekend!

Thursday, November 2, 2006



Short: 3:54:37, 100th lifetime marathon/ultra, WINDY!

No doubt that you have already heard the big story about this race was the wind. I guess it made for a memorable 100th marathon for me.

I had almost recovered from the Halloween marathon from the week before, where I finished 3:38:33, good for 2nd woman. Younghae Shaffer finished before me with at least a 1:30 margin. The results do not reflect that she was led down the wrong road by a guy she was running with in the last ½ mile! It also does not list her as female. I had a lot of problems with my feet at that race. It was a double out and back on a different route than what we were all used to in the Bob Green marathons. The route led us back towards I-5. But each time I started a loop, my feet were killing me. The first time, it felt like I was not even wearing a shoe on my right foot. I could feel every bone strike the ground. Somehow, it got better after 2 miles. Then on the second out, I had a cramping tendon or something in my left foot, causing me to limp along for a mile. I was not able to close the gap that had developed between me and Younghae. It was also windy on that day, but after Tri-Cities, it was child’s play.

I had e-mailed the race director requesting the bib number 100 for Tri-Cities. He sent me back a message stating, “We’ll take care of you, just come and have fun!” I rode over the day before with Karen Wiggins and her friend Sonya Hambleton. Sonya’s husband had won the Halloween marathon in 2:59:25. It was her turn to run a marathon. She looked fast in her tall and skinny frame. She is an avid cyclist and this was to be her first marathon since having her daughter. The weather on Saturday was perfect for a race. Too bad we had to wait until Sunday. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant with a group of Homecoming couples, except there was an imbalance of 3 girls and 4 guys. I hope one of the guys didn’t get stood up!

We changed our clocks and woke to the sound of howling winds. I looked outside and saw the tree below our window get thrashed around. Great. My 100th marathon and it was going to be a challenge. I had a difficult time deciding what to wear because of the wind. I made the wrong choice and ended up wearing too much. I overheated in the beginning and probably sweated more than I realized because I started to have calf cramps by mile 13. (Actually, I have been taking something for my asthma that may be the root of my muscle cramps. Hopefully eliminating it will mean that my runs will feel normal again.) The wind was mostly coming from the side or blasted you directly on. There were some areas where it was at your back, but not enough to make up for the time lost to the headwind. I don’t know if it was better being small or big. Being small meant that you had less resistance but it also meant that the wind could pick you up and push you backwards. I was blown off trail several times just as others have reported. One time I was blown so hard that I had to get up on the little trail islands that occurred in several spots. The wind pushed my feet into the other leg frequently, leaving tread marks on my calves. My pigtails only added to the drag and were often above my head or straight out to the side. Sometimes the wind caught me with my mouth opened and inflated my cheeks. One word. CRAZY! Because of my cramps, I had to stop and walk frequently. This was the first marathon in a long time where I was passed by people. A lot of people! And a lot of them maniacs. I was very embarrassed, especially with it being my 100th. I wanted to perform well, but it was not to be on this day. King Arthur had a 6-minute PR on this very hard day. That means that he probably had like a 15 minute PR. I need to start watching my back. (Don’t get too comfortable, Arthur.) Hopefully, this day was an anomaly. I was passed by a girl in my age group in the last 2 miles that took me out of the age group awards. But no matter. Ron, the race director did such a special thing for me. He had a plaque made commemorating my 100th. I’ll take that over an age group award any day. It was wonderful! Cliff took first place by barely squeaking out a sub 3 hr marathon (2:59:52). Sonya had a great run with a 3:29:56, good for 2nd woman. Mel Preedy got an age group award as usual. Arthur was 3rd in his age group 35-39.

I rode home with Cliff, Arthur, and Mel instead of with Karen and Sonya since they did not want to stick around for the awards. I’m glad I was there to receive my commemorative plaque. But our celebration was short-lived as we came to a complete standstill in Easton on our way home. There was a hail storm at Snoqualmie pass that left the roads a sheet of ice. Several cars were involved in accidents we heard on the radio and the pass was to be closed for several hours. Karen had tried to call and warn me but did not have my cell number. To make a long story short, we drove over an hour back to Yakima to take White or Chinook pass. We decided to take Chinook since it would spit us out closer to our home in Maple Valley. Well Chinook is at higher elevation than White Pass, and by the time we got there, the road was covered in ice as well. We had to stop twice, each over an hour and did not get home until well after midnight.

I got 6 hours of sleep and woke the next morning to run 13 miles with my friend and running partner Mary Hanna. Then I biked the course for the Cedar River Flat Ass to determine mileage and the best places to drop off water and have an aid station. In all, I rode 21 miles since I needed to recalibrate my odometer. I was spent by the time I finished. Hopefully I will be recovered for my double this weekend. Fifty miles on Saturday at Autumn Leaves in Oregon and the UWR marathon on Sunday from Kent to Alki. Hope to see some of you there.

That’s all for now. Did you all see my article and picture in Northwest Magazine? Cool, huh?

Friday, October 20, 2006



Short: 3:39:25, 3rd female overall, 1st F35-39.

First of all, I want to apologize to Merita, who I featured in my Baker Lake report. I had referred to her as Rita. I thought when she introduced herself to me she said Rita. I must have missed the Me part of Merita. Anyway, I got an e-mail from Bill Barmore saying that she finished in 3:13 at the 2005 Yakima River Marathon. The entire time I was running against her, I wondered what her marathon PR was (it has probably gotten faster). I’m glad I didn’t know, or else I would have just let her go instead of trying to catch her. I’m sure she could outrun me in a road race anyday!

After running Baker Lake, I took a day off to clean the house and mow the lawn. Then I had a nice leisurely 14-mile run with Mary Hanna the following Monday. I didn’t run the rest of the week, as I have been studying frantically for my physician assistant recertification boards. When I took my first test 5 years ago, I was fresh out of school and was better prepared. Since specializing only in rheumatology, and with the boards covering primary care, my knowledge of all of medicine became rusty. So in addition to working, attempting to run 52 marathons in a year, and winning the Trail Runner Trophy Series points total, I have been studying for this test. My stress level is at it’s all time high.

Therefore, I did not run for the rest of the week, which left me stiffer than I would have liked. I was not as stiff entering the Spokane marathon as when I ran Baker. Since running Quadzilla, however, I still am not as loose as I would like to be.

I hitched a ride with Dave Murray on Saturday to Spokane. We arrived in the early afternoon and picked up our race numbers. The hotel room as not ready yet for check-in, so we drove what we could of the course. A significant portion of it is run on the Centennial Trail, a paved bike path. Also, since we were not familiar with Spokane, we were not able to pick up some of the course that was run on roads. We grabbed dinner early and retired by 9PM. Sleep was intermittent, but I was awoken once by severe, sharp pains in my right lower abdomen. It took me 10 minutes to get back to sleep.

We awoke 6:15. I found out that my system was “full” and was the reason for my stomach pain. It’s amazing how regular a multi-grain cereal can make you. I was good to go! (Nuff said. My husband said that we runners talk entirely too much about our bathroom habits.)

I asked Dave what it looked like outside. He said, “Oh no!” I thought he was joking. It was raining! I went to the front desk and asked them for two garbage bags. We donned our plastic overcoats and jogged 4 blocks to the start. I was bent over doing my stretches when Mel Preedy charged over to me and gave me a big bear hug! He nearly knocked me over. He was in good spirits!

The race started promptly at 8AM, just as the rain was stopping. It never returned and we had perfect weather in the 50s with a mild headwind in the second half.

I had wanted to follow the same game plan as Baker Lake-run all out and possibly crash and burn in the end. But already in the first 2 miles, my calf muscles were twitching. Was I still not recovered from my last 5 races? My hamstrings were also tight. The night before, I had stretched to the point where my nose was touching my knees, so I thought I was loose enough. I decided to listen to my body and run a smart race. And believe me, my body was talking to me the whole time. I had to constantly scale it back enough to run comfortably and enjoy my run.

The course was beautiful. Much of it follows the Spokane River and was very calming. It’s hilly, challenging, and probably not a PR or BQ course, unless you are a stud like Dave Murray, who ran it in 3:14, two weeks after Portland. He didn’t even have to try that hard to get this time. I was able to run a fairly even race with a one-minute positive split. The second half is known to be definitely more challenging than the first. At mile 22, you run the “Doomsday” hill. I just slowed my speed and shortened my stride. But the cumulative miles were taking their toll and my muscles started to twitch pretty regularly in the last 3 miles. It was worsened by the uneven surface after mile 24. I had to slow up a little each time I had a ½ cramp, but I didn’t walk any of the race except the last 2 aid stations to avoid inhaling my water through my nostrils. In the second half, I passed two girls and 5-6 guys. I was passed by one relay girl and one marathon guy. Overall, I was happy with my run, considering what I have been putting it through. It still was only one minute longer than my first marathon ever, even after 40+ races this year. I tried to catch Mike Wakabayashyi, but he just was too fast. He said he was just trying to make it in before the rain returned. The guy who finished first came in at 2:34:58, which I heard was possibly a new course record. The first woman was Lori Burrato in 3:12:23 and winner of at least the last two Spokane marathons. She must be local.

I hobbled back to the hotel where Dave was already clean and ready to go. I took a quick shower but wanted to stay there in the warm water much longer. We picked up our age group ribbons. Dave was first in his age group as well as Mel. Maple Valley did very well in this race!

The ride home was wet and delayed by the Cougar fans who decided to return on Sunday. There was a huge back up starting at Cle Elum. I studied on the ride home, just like I did on the ride there. My test will be on 10/23. After that, life will again be normal. Just a marathon or two a week. With Spokane, the number of marathons I need left to get to 52 is now in the single digits: 43 done, 9 to go.

Sunday, October 8, 2006



Short: 5:10:47, 1st woman, 16th overall, 42nd marathon/ultra this year.

I had wanted to run Baker Lake twice before, but it was cancelled one year due to wind storm damage and I was out of town another year. Now I know what I was missing! It was a beautiful trail with a great race director and volunteers.

On the Thursday before the race, which was Saturday 10/7, I looked at the race entrants and decided that I could have a good chance of winning. In truth, of the names I recognized, I felt that Christel Elliot was my biggest competition, as we usually finish fairly close to each other. I also saw that the overall winners of each category (Open <40,>60) all got a Baker Bear. So I told my husband the night before the race that I was going to run all out because I wanted a bear. If I bonked at the end and was passed by people, I could just use the excuse that I had raced 4 marathons in 4 days the weekend before. I felt I was well-rested, but maybe not completely recovered, since I had not run the entire week mostly due to time constraints. But the night before, I was doing my stretches and found that my hamstrings were super tight, which made me concerned that I could injure them if I was not careful.

Sleep was restless and I had a dream that I came in second. I met Arthur Martineau and Tony C at the Maple Valley Park and Ride at 4:15! We arrived with plenty of time to get ready for the start. As I was looking around at my competition, I told Tony who I thought looked like strong runners. I picked all the wrong girls. The ones that I thought could out-run me ended finishing over an hour later and the ones I was not concerned about ran strong. Tony told me that you can’t tell just by looking at someone how good a runner they are. I guess he was right.

We started promptly at 8AM in perfect weather, cool at the start and ideal for running. I was at the front with all the guys who would go for the win. The first 1.75 miles were paved or gravel and mostly uphill, but not too steep. Still, my legs didn’t wake up soon enough and I was passed by 6 girls. I had asked Tony to pace me to a win, but I could not keep up with him in this stretch. I saw Christel go by and could not match her pace. . (Note to self: If I want to go out fast, I need to warm up, even in an ultra.) But as soon as we hit the trailhead, I took off! I really think that the trails flip a switch in me and I just float. Anyway, I caught up with a train of people including Tony, Kendall Kreft, and 4 or 5 of the girls who passed me. I tried to pass as quickly and kindly as possible and said to Tony, “Okay, I’m here, let’s go!” We started running at a pretty good clip, it felt like a 10-mile trail run pace rather than 31 mile. I caught up to the first woman, who was a spectacular Master’s runner, Christy Fazio. I ran behind her but had another girl running right on my heels. I didn’t feel very comfortable with her running so close to me because when you’re that close, you cannot see the terrain in front of you and can trip, possibly taking the person in front of you out in the process. So I asked her to pass me. When she passed, I realized that it was Rita, a girl that I had talked to briefly before the race. Apparently, we had run together at Pt. Defiance at Gayle Zorilla’s going away run. Except, I had already run two loops with Mary Hanna, Cliff Richards, and Phil Kriss, and could not keep up with the later group. I only remembered after the race that she was the girl who was running in front with all the fast people. Anyway, we had talked before the race of how this was her first ultra. So when I let her pass, I was not too concerned about her since I thought she was going out too fast and would catch her later. Little did I know that she was a stronger runner than I thought.

I passed Christy and was cruising along with Tony and Kendall. Then Tony had to take a side break and I never saw him again until the turn around. Kendall took off. Rita had taken off as well. Still, I felt I was running very fast, faster than I felt we all should have gone out. I was running all the uphills, which were not too steep to run, but taxed my calves for sure. I was running by myself at this point, which was about 5 miles in. I caught a guy who was walking the uphills. I passed him, and we ran together for a while until a couple of guys, who I had passed earlier, caught us. I let them all pass. I wanted to run a steady pace. But the balls of my feet at the big toes were starting to hurt because my shoes were not tied tight enough for the downhills. I finally decided to stop and tighten them, knowing I would lose time on Rita and risk Christel catching me. Actually, I was more concerned about Christel, since I didn’t know how strong Rita was. I had taken off my gloves and they were half frozen. I fumbled with my laces and finally started running again. I felt I lost about 2 minutes doing that, but Christel did not appear and I caught up with those three guys.

We were approaching the turn around at 15.75 miles and the only aid station on the course. I had passed Craig Ralstin, who was having a bad knee day. He was helpful later in telling me where my competition was. I started seeing the front guys, who must have been flying! James Kerby, the eventual winner with a new Master’s course record (4:15), said that they went out way too fast. He was patient and was in 4th or 5th place when I saw him. He ended up winning by 15 minutes! I was glad to see Rita only about 30 seconds out from the turn around when I arrived. However, I wasted way too much time there fumbling through my drop bag and left 2 minutes after arriving, which equated to Rita being at least 3 minutes ahead. I bolted out of the turn around and ran as fast as my tired and short legs could go. People told me later that I was cruising! I’m glad I looked better than I felt. The next two ladies were 3 minutes behind and Christel was 6 minutes behind. I knew that the pace I was running would be hard to catch. I just hoped it was enough to catch Rita.

Most everyone I saw on the out and back told me how far ahead she was. First Craig told me it was only 30 seconds, which was hard for me to believe. Then it was 45 seconds, then 30 seconds, and then 1/10 of a mile. Of course, I had to think of it in relative terms because she was moving away from them after they saw her and I was moving towards them when they saw me, so I actually had to double that time or length. All I know was that I kept expecting to see her in the long stretches, but I never did. I was starting to worry that I was running out of trail to catch her. I passed the halfway point on the return and still did not see her. All I could think was how much I wanted that stuffed bear and how I was sick of finishing second all the time. Second at Tahoe Triple. Second at Auburn. It’s always Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Always the bridesmaid, never the bride! I wanted to win!

I kept pushing my pace. A guy had passed me early on after the turn around. He said, “Come on, grab on!” I wanted to, but he was running too well for me. I thought that if he passed Rita, she would have asked how far back I was and increase her speed if I was too close. Still, I was running pretty fast, running all the hills. But if I hadn’t, I would have never been able to catch her. After 1 hour and 40 minutes, I finally caught a glimpse of her walking up a hill. Great! If I just keep running all the hills, I could win this thing. I passed her on a hill and said good job. But as soon as we hit the downhill, she was on my heels again. Again, I felt uncomfortable with her so close. I asked her if she wanted to pass me back but she said no. She just wanted to “hang tight.” Just about then, I heard her slip behind me. Fortunately, she didn’t take me down. I yelled back, “Are you okay?” She said yes. So, being competitive like anyone else, I took this moment to jet off. I didn’t look back to see if she was chasing me. I just ran. Before long, I didn’t hear her footsteps again. I did pass another guy, and started to look back more often, because I though his footsteps could be hers. But I never saw her again. However, after I left her, I started having serious problems with muscle cramps. I would get those half cramps that required that you stop or slow down or else they would fully cramp. That happened in my hamstrings, quads, and mostly calves about a dozen times that forced me to slow my pace or walk. I was getting so frustrated that my lead could possibly dwindle. I was expecting Rita to pass me again anytime.

But she never did. Then I got to the last river crossing. In the beginning, there was someone there taking pictures and directing the way. Plus, there were other runners that you were following so it was not hard to lose the trail. But when I got to this part near the end of the race, I had no idea where the trail went. I did a 360 and tried several small trails that led to dead ends. I finally took a trail that forced me to cross the river at a very tenuous spot, and I proceeded to cramp in my calf trying to make the long stretch to a log. Then I cramped and fell in the river. F---!!! Just about then, the guy I had passed came along and found the trail. He was nice enough to stay put while I found my way to him. I finally caught him, after cramping a few more times, but at least I was maintaining my position. I asked if the other girl had passed him while I was cussing and trying to make my way across the river. He said no.

So we ran, walked, and shuffled along in the last mile before the road, which was mostly uphill and worse on my cramping. I clearly had not drank enough, but I later found that I was not the only one with cramps. We finally hit the road. I looked back. No Rita. Phew. I remembered that first part of the run was mostly uphill, and I was looking forward to the down. At least I was able to run the down. But then we hit a flat and I cramped, forcing me to stretch and walk. There was also a little up. We passed a guy who was shuffling. I asked him to yell “WOOHOO” when the next girl passed him to let me know how far back she was. I never heard him. Perhaps he was never passed by her or felt that I was far enough ahead that she couldn’t catch me. Dave Dutton drove by and yelled, “Only one more mile!” Still, I didn’t feel I was going to win until I saw the finish line. I kept looking back. There was no one behind me. Finally, I crossed the dam. There was a spectacular view of Mt. Baker. I saw a lady sitting on the side of the road with a walkie-talkie and relaying our race numbers to the finish. I asked her how much farther. She said a minute! I looked back. Still no one. Finally, I was able to relax, mentally. I shuffled in for the win with stiff legs.

So, it wasn’t pretty. My last five miles were just trying to hold onto the slim lead that I had developed. Rita came in just over 2 minutes behind. What a strong performance on her first ultra. Look for her in the future, folks, and be prepared.

As for me, I got my Baker Bear! If I never win another Baker Lake 50K, that’s okay! I have my bear! Jim Kerby and I also got a very nice long sleeve Patagonia top worth $100! I watched more runners coming in, most all of them shuffling. Everyone looked stiff from cramps. No one was sprinting in, except Mary “Cartwheels” Latta, who did 3 cartwheels at the finish line. Kendall ran in with a quad muscle fully cramped! Tony cramped just sitting down. We had a very nice post race meal with soup, Subway sandwiches, little bags of chips, and a whole assortment of drinks. Dave really knows how to put on first class ultra. Random prizes abounded as well, including two free pairs of Montrail shoes.

Nice trails, nice people, nice weather. What could be more perfect?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Tahoe Triple and Auburn Marathon-QUADZILLA!

Short version: Tahoe Triple 9/28-9/30, 2nd female, 7th overall (Day one 3:52-2nd woman, Day 2 3:46-2nd woman, Day 3 3:51-1st woman in triple, 8th woman in entire marathon field), Auburn Marathon all on trails 4:19, 2nd woman, 9th overall.

Long version: (Read it or leave it)

Ken and I left for California on Tuesday, 9/26 and were able to drive all the way to Susanville. Unfortunately, there was a lot of road construction, delaying us for almost 30 minutes at one point. They really know how to take their time-taxpayer’s money well spent.

On day two of our driving, we only had about 2-3 hours left to get to South Lake Tahoe, so we stopped at the Sierra Trading Post Outlet and I was able to get another pair of Brooks road shoes (last year’s model) for a great price. I also got a great pair of Saloman sandals. On the last leg to South Lake Tahoe, we ran into even more construction, this time actually on the course that we would be running. I was shocked by this but later heard that this is how it is every year. The roads apparently get pretty trashed during the cold winters and this time of the year is the prime time to fix them. We arrived at the Lover’s Leap campground outside of Lake Tahoe, which is right where Ken was going to be climbing with a buddy who would arrive the next day while I ran my first marathon. It was great that there was no fee at this campground. It saved us a bundle. Ken and I brought our cots, so I didn’t have to sleep on the ground for four nights. We picked out a great site with an incredible view of the rock face that he would be climbing. We set up camp and returned to South Lake Tahoe to pick up my number. We attended the mandatory race meeting that evening. Pam Reed gave a speech, mostly talking about her first Badwater experience. She also was also promoting her new book. She would be running the 72-mile ultra as was maniac Sean Meissner. I also learned that last year’s woman’s champ, maniac Laura Bleakley, would not be there. On the second day, a nice lady named Lori came up to me and said that Laura told her to look for Pigtails because I was going to win. Thanks, Laura, for your vote, but with the number of races I have run thus far, including 2-50Ks and a 100 miler earlier in the month, I didn’t expect to win. After the race meeting, which scared me more than it helped, we went back to the campground, which was a forty-minute drive away. I had to get my race stuff ready, including going to sleep with my race clothes on every night. I did not go to bed until after 10:30.

9/28/06-Tahoe Triple Day One:
Woke up 4:40AM, ate breakfast, left campground at 4:50AM, drove 40 minutes to the Horizon host hotel to catch 6:15 bus to the start. Had my Snicker’s bar on the bus and an Ensure before the start. This was my ritual every morning. The temp was about 30F and I was cozy at the start with a long sleeve, singlet, hat, gloves, and shorts. The race started at 7AM at Inspiration Point, which would mark the last 10K on the last day for us. Sean shot off the starting gun and we were off. The first 3 miles were downhill switchbacks on the main road around the lake against oncoming traffic. Because of the switchbacks, most cars were going fairly slow, but some were racing up that hill, even when there was not a shoulder for us to run on. It was hard to hold back on the first three miles of our journey. Deborah Hamberlin, the eventual overall female winner, stayed in front of me within sight for the first 10 miles. After the 3-mile downhill, we hit a nice bike trail and ran through Pope Beach area, a very nice trail but with some tiny inclines that I knew would tax me at the very end of day three where the triple ended. At mile 8, we re-entered the main drag around Lake Tahoe and had to deal with the morning commute. Since the sidewalk wound in and out and added extra distance, we all stayed on the road, running against traffic with ½ a bike lane’s width. I was thinking this was crazy and the driver’s probably thought so too wondering why we didn’t get on a perfectly good sidewalk. We were breathing all of the fumes from the cars and trucks and I worried about my asthma acting up, especially with the elevation that I was not used to. I realized early on that I had overdressed for this day. Although it was very cold at the start, it warmed up rapidly, and I was overheating. Half of the runners had a crew, but I had to carry everything with me (my waist pack, inhaler, epipen, water bottle, ID, e-caps, and 4 GUs). Then I had to carry my gloves and hat, and I didn’t want to take the time to take off my long sleeve shirt under my singlet. So I kept it on and got hotter and hotter. Before the ½ marathon mark, I started to have some cramping in my hamstrings and had to back off a little. I took my e-caps and was able to keep the cramps at bay. There was one fixed water station at mile 17. There was also a roving aid station. The terrain from mile 8-17 was mostly flat with gentle hills. Then the hills started to come. There were several before the infamous hill from mile 23-26. We also started to encounter the construction at mile 14. I don’t know if it was a blessing or not. On the one hand, the construction zone slowed the drivers down. On the other hand, once they got through those zones, and there were several, they would go screaming through, probably in an attempt to make up the time they lost in the construction zone. There was quite a bit of traffic, including large dump trucks. I have to say that I was not having fun. It wasn’t because I was bonking. It was because I felt very unsafe and had to work hard to pay attention to the oncoming traffic. The last 3 miles were the craziest. Here we were trying to run up this long, unrelenting hill on a 4 lane highway with the speed limit 50 but most driving over 60 because they were driving downhill, with a narrow shoulder to run on, inhaling the fumes, and gaining altitude in thinner air! Even though the cars and trucks had two lanes to drive in, most stayed in the right lane next to us, even with the other lane open. I just didn’t understand it. I was thinking to myself that this was suicide and I probably would have been safer where Ken was, climbing a sheer rock face. I was also developing a hot spot on the ball of my feet on the left. I finally arrived at the finish in 3:52, seven minutes after Deborah. The finish was at Spooner summit, the highest point in the Triple at 7146ft. As soon as I stopped, I had an asthma attack. After sucking on my inhaler like candy, I was able to breath almost normal again, unless I did anything strenuous. I felt that I had spent a significant amount of energy dodging traffic, which may have drained my ability to push it in the end like I normally do. I got a ride with a guy who was doing the Super (26, 26, 72), Peter Lubbers. His crew helped me some on my first day and a lot on my second day. We drove to Cave Rock beach and soaked for 20 minutes. The lake was perfect. They dropped me back at Horizon hotel and I drove back to the campsite after stopping to get some Pad Thai. I took a shower at a lodge next to the campsite, ate my thai food, and waited for Ken and his climbing partner, Chris, to get back. I only had to wait ½ an hour. We went back to town and had dinner. Back at camp, I readied myself for the next day.

9/29/06-Tahoe Triple Day Two:
I woke just a little later on this day since the race did not start until 7:45. I did my routine of waking, eating, leaving in 10 minutes, driving 40 minutes to Horizon hotel, going into the hotel bathroom to brush my teeth, put in my contacts, braid my pigtails, and tape my feet before hopping on the bus. I tied my shoes tighter to prevent that hot spot from getting worse and it helped. Again, we were dropped off at the start (Spooner Summit) and stood there freezing for 30 minutes. The people who had crew were lucky to stay in their warm cars. Because I overdressed the day before, I wore less to start with and froze my ass off standing around. I was worried about my asthma. After my attack the day before, my chest hurt and felt tired. Fortunately, the first 10 miles were downhill, and my asthma usually does better, as there is less strain on my breathing. I had trained myself to breathe in through my nose to warm the air coming in (because cold air also makes it worse) and out my mouth. We were off at 7:45. Deborah took off on the downhill, along with another lady, who came in third yesterday, only 4 minutes behind me. I thought, “CRAP!” I didn’t want to work that hard that day. But I decided to run my own race and let those two girls go ahead. I knew after day one that I could not catch Deborah because her previous performances revealed that she became stronger with each day. So I made it up in my mind that I would go for second. But with this other woman taking off, I was starting to worry about my position. I still maintained my pace and was able to pass her before mile 10. She was going quite a bit slower when I passed her and saw her reach her arms above her head, indicating possibly stomach cramps. I asked her if she was okay and if she needed any salt tablets. She said she was fine. At mile ten, we turned onto a side street towards Incline Village, where multi-million dollar homes lined the streets. It was on of the nicest part of the triple for me since there was less traffic. It was also on this street that I encountered the front-runners for the 72-mile bike ride going in the opposite direction. The first group was a big pack of about fifteen, and they were flying! They had a police escort. I criss-crossed several other packs before seeing more solo bikers. After about 3 miles, we entered the main drag again. At times, it would get a pretty tight with me running one direction and a biker and car or truck approaching. Again, the cars did not slow down or give you an inch. I felt we were running into a headwind, which was compounded by the fast moving trucks that sucked all the air away from you. There were some hills from mile 14-20, but nothing too significant. I was still feeling good and thought I might be gaining on the people in front of me. But when I reached mile 20, all of the sudden, I couldn’t breath. I was taking shallow breaths and coughing. My asthma decided to make an appearance at the hardest part of the day at a long and steep hill. I had to walk the last half of the hill and lost quite a bit of time. I struggled in the last few miles and came in to the finish at Tahoe City 8 minutes after Deborah compared to the 4-minute gap (someone had told me) that I had closed in on before my asthma. I was so mad that I had to deal with a condition like asthma that prevented me from running my full potential. This day was as packed with traffic just like the first day, and the combination of the two days taxed my reserves. Everyone was really worried about me at the end because I was using all my accessory muscles to breathe. It took me 15 minutes to get it somewhat under control. Jean, the woman who went out ahead of me at the start, came in 10 minutes later. Then I had to walk three blocks to a climbing store to get Ken a guidebook. I came back to the finish and walked down to the beach to soak with the other finishers. After, I joined Peter and his crew again to get lunch at a deli and get a ride back to the Horizon hotel. I arrived back at the campsite to find that Ken and Chris had already finished. While Ken showered, I got ready for the next day. We went out for Thai food at the place that I got my Pad Thai the day before. Dinner was wonderful. Back to the camp to rest for the next day.

9/30/06-Tahoe Triple Day Three:
This was the last day of the Triple, which coincided with the full marathon field. The Super Triple runners (5 of them), started their final day at midnight and would run all the way around the lake, finishing with the regular marathoners and the regular triplers, who would start at Tahoe City (where we finished day 2). Also, the 72-mile ultrarunners had started at midnight as well. I did my usual ritual at the Horizon Hotel. I hopped on the bus, now with many more runners, and took the long ride to the start. On our way, we saw the 72-milers. The first ones we encountered had about 8 miles to go before reaching Tahoe City. We saw Pam Reed, who had about 4 miles to go. Apparently, Sean Meissner and Sam Thompson had already passed the start, so we never did see them. After I got off the bus, I was walking to the start when a bike came around a corner to tell everyone to get out of the way as the elite women marathoners were coming. I was surprised to see Deborah and Jean (the 3rd woman in the Triple) in that pack of 5 or 6. I didn’t think we’d be eligible to run in the elite pack since I didn’t expect any of us to run an “elite” time. The requirement was that you had to have run a 3:30 in the past. So Deborah and Jean signed up at the expo the night before. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to keep an eye on Deborah and Jean, but then I decided that I just needed to run my own race. We started with the elite men at 8:30. On this day, I wore a blister Band-Aid under my hot spot. The adhesive was very sticky and it worked like a charm. I felt pretty good, but I also went out conservatively. I knew that the big hills came after mile 15, but so did the other girls as they had run this before. The Triplers wore their special singlet on this last day, so all the runners and spectators knew who we were. It was great getting encouragement from the field. Although the road was supposed to closed off to traffic in the lane that we were running on, there were still some cars on the course. That annoyed me, perhaps because I had become overly sensitive running the first two days with crazy traffic. I was looking forward to a day finally where I didn’t have to think about anything but running. When we reached the hills, I felt strong. My breathing was good and my hot spot was protected. I did not walk at all the entire race, even the hill from hell that climbed 540ft over 1.5 miles at mile 15. I ate and drank regularly to avoid bonking, since doing back to back to back marathons will burn any calories immediately as soon as you took it in. I never had any stomach problems on any of my marathons. I was gaining on other marathoners and was being passed by relayers and half marathoners. My goal was to reach the 20 mile mark without bonking, because that last 10K was something I had already run, which was downhill and flat from Inspiration Point. As soon as I crested the steep one-mile hill from 19 to 20, I ran as fast as I could to the finish. I think I averaged 8-minute miles. I felt like I was running faster than that. Unfortunately at this time, we were encountering the half marathon walkers who walked 5 abreast. So instead of taking the tight curves down the switchbacks, I had to run around them, and there were a lot of them! Still, I had a strong finish, with 3:51, 38 overall out of 377 runners, 8th woman of 158, and 2nd in my age division 35-39. The first woman was 3:24, which just shows you how hard this course it. The first guy was 2:42. Deborah finished 3:53 and Jean in 4:12. So I felt I had a pretty good day. I did have a bit of asthma when I finished, but not as bad as day one and two. The top 25 women and men received a special top 25 finisher’s shirt in addition to a license plate holder that said 26.2 miles and finisher’s medal. I soaked in the lake for over 30 minutes, had something to eat, then waited in line over 30 minutes to catch a bus back to the Horizon Hotel. When I got back to camp, Ken and Chris had already finished. Chris wanted to go back to the Thai restaurant and I had no objections. Once again the food was fabulous. We went to the awards ceremony where all the triplers got a plaque, hooded sweatshirt, and license plate holder that said 78.6 miles. I came in second woman overall in the triple, less than 15 minutes from Deborah’s overall time. Age division awards were also handed out for the marathon. A guy from South Africa, Johan Oosthuizen, broke the Guinness World Record time for three marathons in 3 days. The previous one was set back in 1988 when that runner did Belfast, London, then Boston in three consecutive days. Johann ran 2:43:35, 2:43:31, and 2:44:03. Although the previous record holder traveled more, Johann ran much tougher courses and at elevation. Sean Meissner won the 72-mile race in a time of 10:27:48. That’s an 8:44 pace! Geez! Karen Wiggens did a great job of crewing him, which was so thoughtful of her since she had to drop out after the first day of the triple due to hip pain. She still managed to run Auburn Marathon in a great time. Anyway, back to camp again where I got ready for the last day of racing.

10/1/06-Auburn Marathon “Quadzilla!”
Woke up at 4:50 to hit the road at 5AM for a 90 mile drive to the start of the Auburn Marathon in Cool, CA. Ken would break down our camp and head to a different climbing spot for his last day of climbing. I would meet them later. I arrived at the start of the race with 50 minutes to spare. Sean was supposed to be there to run with me, but he never came. Perhaps he needed some rest from the 72-mile ultra. So, I put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, braided my hair, ate, and put on my gaiters and trail shoes for the day that I was looking forward to the most. And this race did not disappoint. We started at 8AM with over 60 marathoners. The half marathon, 9 mile, and 5K did not start until 9AM. We started on a dusty one-mile out and back. I started out slow, wondering what my legs would feel like. I had to wear my facemask to keep the dust out, worried that my asthma would start sooner than later. I probably looked pretty funny to other runners, but Ken told me later that they wouldn’t be laughing at me after beating most of them. Our out and back came through the start before heading off again on the trails. There was a one-mile stretch of rolling before we reached a downhill section. Now, I love the downhills and can cruise pretty good. I decided that even though I had run three marathons already, I didn’t want to wait for the others who were timid on the downs. So I passed a bunch of people and broke out of the crowds. There was a good amount of down before we reached No Hand’s Bridge and turned around. I had counted 3 women in front of me, but the 3rd woman was looking like she was fading already. Still, I kept my own pace and ran with a guy with a 50 states shirt on and red shirt guy, who would run up the hills in tiny switchbacks. I just ran straight up them and asked him why he was running extra laps up the hill. He said he had always run up hills that way and it worked for him. After the second aid station, I dropped those two guys. I was feeling so good that I didn’t want to slow down. Was I in jeopardy of going out too fast and bonking later? That’s what others might have thought as I passed them and probably thought I was a rookie trail marathon runner. But I never was passed by anyone. In fact, I passed three more guys. I passed the 3rd place girl, Vanessa, before the 13-mile mark. I ran the entire race except the very steep uphills, which probably measured less than a mile. This was the best I had felt in a long time. I had no muscle soreness or fatigue. I wanted the race to be a double marathon. I loved the single-track trails, weaving along the course, no traffic, and fresh air. I was alive! I ran most of the race by myself as well, but I would have preferred to run with Sean. Finally, I passed a guy and the second place gal at the aid station just before the 22 mile mark. In that last 4 miles, I gained 5 minutes on her and finished 9th overall, 2nd female in 4:19. This race just re-affirmed to me that trails are my passion. I hung around a little but had to leave to meet Ken, still 1 ½ hour drive away. Everyone got a T-shirt, belt buckle, and a vial of gold for finishing. I got a 2nd place woman trophy and also a 2nd in my division medal. Wow, just one race and I got almost as much as in the Triple! I highly recommend this race. I told the RD that I had to give this race my vote for my most favorite trail marathon, even more than Haulin Aspen, and that’s saying a lot. Both of those beat road marathons any day!

I met Ken in Truckee, CA and we drove to Redding. We had dinner, stayed at a motel and had a much needed shower (I hadn’t had one in three days), and drove the rest of the way the next day (about 800 miles). Other than being sleep deprived, I feel great. I’m looking forward to number 42 at Baker Lake 50 this weekend on 10/7.

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cle Elum 50K 2006


Short version: 6:22:04, 4th woman, 2nd F30-39

Long version:
I hadn’t planned on writing a report for this race since I’ve tried to write only about distant races that most others would never have a chance to run. But I decided to continue with my “memoirs.”

After returning from Lost Soul 100 mile, I promptly caught a cold. It didn’t take much as my immune system was down from all the traveling and running. So, I didn’t run all week because I didn’t want to screw my chances of running at Cle Elum 50K on Saturday, September 16. I rested and took Airborne day and night. It seemed to work because it didn’t blossom into a full blown cold. Mainly, lots of sniffling, congestion, and a mild cough.

I awoke to the sound of pouring rain 4:45AM Saturday morning. I met Tony Covarrubias, Arthur Martineau, and Shawn Lawson at the Maple Valley park and ride at 5:30. Shawn was volunteering, Tony was the trail sweep for the first 21 miles, and Arthur and I would try to run our best, both having completed 100 milers recently. Shawn and Arthur had finished Cascade Crest 100 mile on 8/26.

Fortunately, as we dropped down to the eastern side of Snoqualmie pass, the weather cleared up and it was looking like a fine day for running. Due to a bridge closure, we had to take a longer route to the start but arrived in plenty of time to check in and get ready for the start. Krissy Moehl, the race director, had marked the course the day before with snow falling on her at Windy pass. So we all prepared for possible inclement weather.

My plan for this race was to just enjoy myself. It was the last race in the Trophy series for me, and after having garnered 400 points the week before, I knew that I didn’t need to place in the top three to win the series. Besides, my legs were probably dead and I was dealing with a head cold. I started out very conservatively, even running next to last place in the first 3 miles. But one by one, I started passing people, still running at a comfortable pace. Although my calves were tight from all the hill climbing in this race, I wasn’t feeling too bad. I did produce a ton of snot from my cold. Gross!

For the first time in the four years that I have run this race, I really started to look around and realized what a nice course this is. Sure, there are areas where the motorbikes have trashed the trails with big divots, but there are still a lot of runnable areas. I’d say that 70% of the trails are runnable, granted you have not trashed yourself in the first half with all the hills and end up having to pay for it in the second half. The first year I ran this race, which was also my first ultra, I went out too fast and ended up struggling with frequent walking in the 2nd half, particularly in the last 10 miles. It wasn’t very pleasant. On this day, I kept it at a comfortable pace, enough to get my breathing going but not so much that felt I was riding on the edge. I was able to run the entire second half.

Unfortunately, there was a motorbike race happening that same morning. Krissy said that she applied for her permit long ago and couldn’t understand how another race was allowed on the same day. She was able to delay them starting an hour to 11AM, but I still encountered many motorbikes during my run. Not only did they stir up dust, but the fumes from their bikes were even worse. I had brought my face mask in anticipation of this, as my asthma has been bad at recent races. Thankfully, for the most part, my asthma did not bother me during the race.

I took me 3hr45 min to get to Windy Pass, which lived up to its name. It’s amazing how the climbs just went on and on. I think it was about 17 miles into the race by then, and I figured it would take me another 3 hours to finish. I had been running with the same guys for a while. We continued to pass a few more ladies. There were several stream crossings, but nothing higher than ankle deep. I reached the 21 mile aid station at 4:38. I figured then that it would take me another two hours to finish. From that point on, I was able to run ahead of the group that I was running with except for one guy-yellow water bottle guy. I kept him in my sites for most of the last ten miles. We ended up passing a young looking gal, but then she decided to pass me right back within a half mile. Guess she didn’t like the fact that I had passed her. I told her as she was passing, “Don’t worry about me, I ran a 100 miler last week-end and am fading.” She said, “What? Are you psycho?” and continued on. She never got too far ahead of me.

With about 3 miles to go, we both passed another girl. Then we passed yellow water bottle guy when he stopped at a water station with 2 miles to go. Still, young looking gal was always within my sites, probably only 20-30 seconds ahead, but she was running like there was no care in the world. When we reached the last downhill section, which marked about ½ a mile to go, I gunned it down that hill as fast as I could to catch her. She was still just trotting along, unaware that I was closing in on her. A hiker was coming up the trail, and just about then, my shell jacket fell off of my hydration pack, having loosened from the bungee cord holding it in place from my pounding down the hill. She alerted me that I dropped my coat. “Oh no!” I cried. She helped pick it up for me. I thanked her and went on my way to catch that girl again. As I was coming up right behind her, she turned to see me coming full speed and picked up her pace. I wanted to pass her before the last turn down the short single track switchback, but I ran out of trail and she entered it first. The finish is practically right there when you emerge from the trail. She ended up finishing before me, 11 seconds according to the results, but I think I was more like 5 seconds behind her. She took third and I was fourth. If I had known our position, I would have run harder after I had passed her to keep her behind me. So I didn’t get any extra points for the trophy series, but no matter, I pretty much clenched the series win with my performance at Lost Soul. My race number was 19 and I came in 19th overall. Cool, huh? My time of 6:22 was only 9 minutes off of last year’s time. Not bad on spent legs, I thought.

Arthur finished 15 minutes faster than his time last year with a 6:55. But he struggled with hip pain that he developed from Cascade. Tony did his trail sweep to mile 21 and looked forward to running in the last 10 miles at his pace. But when he got there expecting to hand off the duty to someone else, he was told that he had been signed up to do the whole distance. So he ended up sweeping the entire course, running more like 35 miles in an effort to keep moving. He would run ahead and back to the last runners, trying to get them to eat and drink as they were seriously bonking. Thanks Tony for taking on that duty!

The post race festivities are always very cold in that area due to the shade. So if you ever run this race, make sure you pack extra warm clothes to change into. Also bring a chair to sit in. The awards ceremony was fun with great prizes and give-aways (Krissy has great connections). I won a pair of Montrail shoes (and who needs shoes more than I do!) since the first place F30-39 was not there to get first pick. Lucky me! Next year, Chris and Marty Fagan will take over the run, but did a fine job in the “Race Directors in Training,” on this day.

I don’t have a race next week-end, but the following week-end will be the “Quad” with Tahoe Triple and Auburn Marathon. See some of you there!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lost Soul Ultra 100 mile 2006


Short version:
28:48:44, first woman, 5th overall, 29 starters, 50% DNF. Temps in the 90s. Lethbridge, Alberta at 3500ft according to another runner. Very well organized race. Great people.

Long version: (In other words, grab a cup of coffee if you want to read on)
This was my last run in Canada for the year. I have done 4 of them, two 100 milers, one 100K, and one 50K, all in the Trophy Series. All put my physical and mental abilities to the test.

Ken, my husband, and I drove to Lethbridge on Thursday, September 7. It took us twelve hours. After we crossed the border, we saw a couple interesting tourist attractions. The first one was next to an ice cream shop we visited twice on our trip. There were three goats living on top of a roof that had grass growing on it. The other attraction was the largest truck in the world. It was pretty big! I made the mistake of driving most of the way there. Ken offered to drive, but I kept telling him that I was okay, that I had it mostly in cruise control. But by the time we arrived, my calf muscles were twitching, not a good thing before a 100 mile race. I stretched as much as I could that night.

We arrived at the host hotel, the Lethbridge Lodge, at 8:30pm Mountain Time. We had lost an hour in our travel. We met the only other 100 miler coming from the states, Kim Eunsup from Texas. His mother lives in Canada and he thought it might be fun to run the 100 miler. His only 100 miler prior to that was Rocky Raccoon. Unfortunately, Kim had to drop out. I wished I had more time to talk to him, but he left before the festivities. We checked into our room, number 306, my birthday! That had to be a good sign.

After a fairly good night sleep, I woke up at 5am and got ready for the 6am weight, blood pressure, and pulse check in. The 100K runners also had to have the same done and needed to be present at the pre-race meeting at 7am before the 8am race start. My weight was 50.0kg, BP was good, but my heart was racing at 92. You’d think that a runner like me would have a very low heart rate, but I was quite nervous as my intent was to win the race. I tried to check out the competition, but with the 100K runners mixed in, I had to force myself to think about running a smart race. I actually knew a lot of the runners there from previous races. They all seemed to know about my running feats this year. I guess I have been the talk of several running groups in Canada. I was already a legend! Imagine that, little me. I picked up my race packet and found a beautiful fleece pullover with the race insignia on it. All the runners got one and each were unique to the distance you were running. I thought that was special to have that distinction. My race number was 21, also a lucky number in my view.

We all lined up at 8AM and started on time from the hotel, which was also a major aid station. The 100 milers race was 3 laps. I had only 4 days rest since my previous race on Sunday 9/3, which was a very difficult 50K. I guess that I should not have run an “easy” 7+ mile run with 73-year-old Mel Preedy on Wednesday. We ran at a pretty good clip and rather than keeping me loose, it probably tired me out more. But I could not pass up the opportunity to run with Mel. He always has the greatest stories!

The race started with a 7K loop that came back to the hotel. Although this race was run in the “prairies,” it was very tough. The race only boasted 3000ft of elevation gain per 33-mile lap, but that was deceiving. There were a lot of chinscraper climbs and just as steep descents. For those of you who have run Lord Hill, think of that steep hill 2/3 into the loop. Some of the hills at Lost Soul were steeper than that and maybe even longer. Some runners started with hiking or ski poles. I wanted to see if I could do without mine for the first lap.

The next section featured more steep climbs and descents as well as some runnable sections in the prairies. It was a 12.7K loop with a self-serve water station half way. Unfortunately, you had to run by a sewage treatment plant for about 1K. It didn’t matter which way the wind was blowing. The stench was overpowering. Because this area had some decent climbs, you were breathing in this stuff deeply. I had my face mask to tone it down a little. The end of this section brought you to the Peenaquim aid station. All the aid stations were Cadillac with big tents, cots to rest on, and a wide assortment of food, including ham and cheese sandwiches and soup. The volunteers were amazing. Ken crewed for me the entire way and forced me to eat and drink to keep me going.

It was 5.4K to the next aid station at Pavan, which included very steep climbs. It was during this stretch, only 25K into the race, that I started to have problems with tight calf muscles and twitching, suggesting that cramping was imminent. It felt like I had already run 15 miles into a marathon and was hitting the wall as far as my muscles were concerned. The combination of my 54K earlier in the week, my 7 mile training run with Mel, driving almost the entire way to Lethbridge, and the increasing heat of the day was too much for my legs. I arrived at Pavan and told Ken that it would be a very long day. I could barely sit in a chair, afraid that I would cramp up. I paced around in the parking lot while eating to keep them stretched. I was taking Succeed and drinking a lot. but I found that instead of 1 Succeed per hour, I needed two due to the heat.

I left the Pavan aid station for the longest stretch without aid, a 15.8K loop back to this aid station with a self-serve water station about 2/3 of the way. Immediately, there was a steep climb, and that really sent my calves into a tizzy. They didn’t develop into a full blown cramp like they did at Eagle, but I was just riding on the edge. I had to force myself to slow down and walk the flat sections to give them a rest. Unfortunately, when my calves were at the peak of their problems, I needed to climb over several gates and barbed wire fences. The first one was a gate, and the best way to get to the other side was to climb the rungs. But all I could do was pace back and forth there in front of the gate until I felt I could go through it without cramping. I finally squeezed in between the rungs as slowly as I could. There was no way I could have climbed over it. I made it without cramping. Then I reached a barbed wire fence. Another runner had caught up with me and held it down, since it was toppling over anyway, for me to climb over. I was glad to have him there, but then he moved on. Then there was another barbed wire fence. Another runner held the wires apart for me to squeeze through, and I made it through that without cramping as well. Whew! Finally, the extra Succeed tablets I had taken started to kick in and my calves calmed down. I was able to catch up back to the other runners that passed me except one. That made me feel better that I had not lost that much time. In fact, I was behind the only other 100 mile girl ahead of me, Charlotte, and caught her at the end of the loop.

The next section of 6K that took us back to Peenaquim aid station, but through a different route. It included two very steep climbs, and I decided to take one hiking pole with me. It helped, but I felt that having two poles would balance me more. My husband said I cranked this section and was surprised to see me get there before the others. They were just arriving as I was leaving, but without poles this time, since the next part was a mostly flat 6K with one big climb before arriving at the end of the lap at Lethbridge Lodge headquarters.

It took me 7 ½ hours to get through the first lap. I made the mistake of thinking that I should run the same pace as last year’s winner, which was 6 ½ hours the first lap. But I was not aware that the course this year was tougher with re-routing a section to avoid running in a cow pasture. This added 4 more tough climbs. In addition, last year’s temps were comfortable in the low 70s compared to our 90s. I arrived at the end of the first lap as the first two 100K ladies were leaving. That right there told me that I was running too fast. They took off on their second and last lap, minus that first 7K loop that 100 milers had to run in each of our laps. I had my weight checked-49.9kg, I had lost only 0.1kg. Great, I was hydrating and eating well. My pulse actually went down to 88 and my BP was good. I left as Charlotte and the others were just coming in.

I started my second lap. I now had both of my poles, my hydration pack with Gatorade, and a hand held filled with water to pour over my head. I think I did a good job of keeping cool. However, my asthma started to bother me with the combination of the heat, some dehydration, and the elevation, which I heard from another runner that it was at 3500ft. I was riding on the edge with my asthma and cramps for most of the race, neither getting severe enough to force me to stop but significant enough to slow me down. I tried to use my inhaler regularly, which helped. When I felt that my calves were getting tight again, I would take more Succeed. It would still take about ½ and hour for them to calm down, so I learned that I needed to take them earlier in the future. Later, someone suggested I also take Tums for calcium for my cramps, and I think it helped. Having the poles was key. They helped propel me up the steep hills because I pushed up on them, allowing my calves some rest. On the down hills, I placed them in front of me to prevent me from falling forward as well as give my quads a rest. I fell twice before using the poles but not after. My arms got a pretty good workout and were almost as sore as my legs when I finished.

From that point on, I was not passed by another woman. I heard that Charlotte had to be helped off the trail because she was not able to keep anything down. Angela Pierotti was the next woman and had passed Charlotte before she stopped. The two other female 100 milers had to quit, I’m not sure why, but probably heat-related. By then end of the second loops, Angela was 30 minutes behind me. The last part of my second lap and beginning of the third lap were run in the dark. I don’t like running by myself in the dark at all. I heard rustling in the bushes and freaked out! I would scream, “Go on!” or bark or click my poles together to scare off any critters. I saw white-tailed deer but only heard the coyotes howling. I later found that the rustling in the bushes and trees were only birds. However, the adrenaline that was released from being scared helped with my asthma since it opened up my airways in preparation to breathe better in a fight/flight response.
I experienced a beautiful sunset and sunrise. AT sunrise, I had my only hallucination, which was the top of a power line in the horizon that looked like a man taking a picture of the sunrise with a camera on a tripod. Otherwise, I was not sleepy at all.

My weight after the second lap was 49.9kg. Wow! I was amazed that I had maintained my weight. The second lap took longer, about 10 ½ hours due to running in the dark. I took off on the third lap trying to catch Hiroshige or “Hiro” because some of the run was through city trails and parks and there were a lot of Friday night parties or groups hanging out late with drinking a main theme. When we were back on the trails, I left Hiro since his painful knees were slowing him down and I didn’t want to lose any lead time I had on Angela. At the end of the second lap, she was 45 minutes behind, so I was still gaining time over her. All of us lost time during the night moving slower through the technical terrain. But the trails were extremely well-marked, and I never got lost. The 2nd half of the third lap put me back into the day light, and I made the mistake of not taking a hat with me in that long 15.7K loop. I was so hot and flushed by the time I made it through that section. I arrived at the Pavan aid station with 12.5K to go. I asked Ken where Angela was. He wasn’t very sure about the time but had been told that she looked strong going into that loop and barely stuck around. As soon as I heard that, I bolted out the chair into the next section. Ken told me that he would stick around for ½ and hour to see if she came in.

I cranked that tough 6K section and passed Carl, who had passed me about 18 miles into the race. He told Ken earlier that I would eventually catch him and referenced about “roadkill.” I told him I was just trying to stay in front of the next girl as the reason for my urgency. He said I looked strong. Ken had barely made it to the next aid station when I was about to arrive. But he was standing there with a large group of people who were waiting for a guy named Mark, the first 50K runner to come through. As I was approaching them, several of them thought I was Mark and commented that they were sure I was him because Mark floated when he ran. I slowed to a brief walk after running hard for a while. They wondered why their Mark had slowed to a walk and someone said that they had just walked out in that section and there was a patch of bad trail, so they thought that was why their runner was slowing down. I started running again and one of them commented that they had never seen Mark run with poles. That’s when Ken finally said, “I think that’s my wife. She’s running the 100 miler.” They didn’t believe him. They didn’t expect that someone who had only 6.5K to go in a 100 mile race could be running that strong. But as I approached, they realized it was not their Mark and burst into a loud cheer. It was a nice pick me up. Mark arrived and left before me. He took off on the trail and one of his friends said, “Look, he’s sprinting.” That’s when I took off sprinting, too, letting them know that I still had a kick in me. Ken told me later that they bombarded him with questions about me and it took him a while to pack up and head towards the finish line. Before I left, Ken told me that Angela had not arrived at the last aid station when he left, meaning that I still had a decent enough lead that she would not be able to catch me in the little distance I had left to go.

That last section was hard with the sun beating on me, even though it was mostly flat. My feet were really starting to hurt. I had blisters on two toes on the right foot and the bottoms of my feet just ached. Every step was painful. Then I had to run over this short but crazy section of river rocks. The person who designed this course was really sick and sadistic. I had to crank that last section to finish under 29 hours. The last part of each lap featured a long chinscraper hill. I finished to the cheers of the small crowd that had gathered there and into the arms of Ken, who helped me get through the longest period of time that I have ever been on my feet by over 2 hours. It didn’t take me much longer to do the 3rd lap than the second, yet I thought I was losing a ton of time. Angela finished just under an hour after me. Hiro finished over 31 hours, but at least he finished. I felt bad for those who DNF’d. I know how that feels, having recently DNF’d a 100K race, related to the heat, nearby forest fire, and my asthma.

I took off my shoes and hung around talking to the other runners at the finish line. My feet looked great compared to some of the other runners. After 40 minutes, I went up to the hotel room to take a shower because I smelled pretty bad. But I couldn’t stay in the shower as long as I wanted to. My feet hurt too much to stand on. I got out as fast as I could and laid in bed with my feet up. We grabbed some dinner, went out to see more runners come in, went back to the hotel room where I slept briefly, ordered for some more food through room service, and finally retired for the night. I did not sleep well. My legs just ached.

The next morning, we attended the awards breakfast. The room was pretty packed. I had great fun! The breakfast was loaded with eggs, sausage, toast, and a large assortment of fruits. When I arrived into the room, Ken immediately pointed out that there was a poster on the wall of me running, along with all the other first female and male finishers of each distance. That was pretty cool to see this 18 X 24 inch poster of me. The photographer gave these posters to us for free and everyone got a 5 X 7 photo for free.

Everyone got a finisher’s award, which was a large river rock that had been sand-blasted with the distance they ran, their name, and their time. How cool is that to have a personalized finisher’s award? The top three age division runners (18-49 and 50+) received another award, also of a rock motif. That was exceptional as well. No cheap plastic award. I will treasure these unique mementos. The Lost Soul 100 mile was also the Canadian Championship race. Because I am not a Canadian citizen, Angela received that award. The MC apologized for that, but I replied, “It’s okay!” And it really was. I was pleased with everything I did receive for my accomplishments. I also ended up placing second in the “Alberta Triple.” Angela came in first since she ran the Canadian Death Race 125K in addition to Blackfoot 100K and this race. I had run only Lost Soul and Blackfoot, but since I won both of those, I had amassed enough points to claim second. I didn’t have to be a Canadian citizen for that. I will be receiving a specialized Montrail shirt for placing in the series. Very cool!

The rock that I received for finishing the 100 mile run weighed 36 pounds, which looked like one of the largest rocks that anyone received. There was much laughter when I went up to claim it. Here I was, probably the smallest runner out of all the finishers receiving one of the largest rocks. It was a hoot!

Ken and I drove home after the ceremonies, arriving at our house at 11:30pm. What an exhausting week-end. My feet still hurt so much that I had to sleep with them hanging over the edge of the bed. Otherwise, the rest of my legs felt fine, walking at least. We’ll see how they do at Cle Elum 50K this week-end.

So if you want to run in a well-organized race with lots of perks, such as the nice fleece shirt, unique finisher’s award, wonderful awards breakfast and don’t mind traveling the distance to run a very tough race, then think about signing up for the Lost Soul Ultra of any distance. Be prepared to test your physical and mental strengths.