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!