Weiser River 50k

My last post was my 2018 race schedule with goals. Well 2018 started out with a BANG! with the Weiser River 50k. My goal was 8 hours, 42 minutes faster than my finish in 2015. I finished in 7:52. And this girl is happy.

This was my first ultra since the Foothills Frenzy in 2016. That’s right… a year a half ago. I was beginning to wonder if I could even call myself an ultra runner anymore. 2015 and 2016 were tough years. I almost gave up this hobby.

I’m learning as I get older that emotions and feelings don’t always form in my best interest. Most of the time it is better to acknowledge the feeling and continue moving forward. My greatest accomplishments have come when I’ve fought through the urges to stop, to quit, and most importantly, get bored and move onto something else. Ultra-running is not just a hobby. I’ve met some of the most incredible humans on this journey and this sport is what bonds us.

Anyway…. I persevered through training. Rain, wind, snow, super super boring 8th street repeats and got my PR. Next up: Sharlie Shuffle in McCall in 5 weeks. I’m looking forward to the suffering.weiser1weiser2

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2018 Race Schedule

April 14 Weiser River 50k, Council, ID, Goal Under 8 hours

May 19 Sharlie Shuffle 12 hour, McCall, ID, Goal 40 miles

May 26 Redfish Lake 1/2 marathon, Stanley, ID, Goal 2 1/2 hours

July 14 Beaverhead 55k, Salmon, ID, Goal Under 15 hours

July 28 Palisades 50 miler, Irwin, ID, Goal: Cross that damn 50 mile mountain finish line!

For those of you that don’t know, Idaho is awesome. I’ll get to see some of the best view in the state! I’m not even running half of the gorgeous races this state has to offer. Check out the ITUS series – Idaho Trail Ultra Series.

These are big goals for me. If I successfully follow through with this plan, I will have my best racing year so far. Looking forward to nailing it this summer.

messy

 

Adventure Weekend

My ankle is feeling strong. I planned a big weekend and almost everything went really well. I had a short run planned for Saturday morning, an evening snowshoe with the Pulse Dirty Soles running group to raise money for juvenile diabetes, and then a long 18 mile run in the Snake River Canyon on Sunday. Here are some pics from my super fun weekend.

Honey Stinger

I got in! I am a 2018 Honey Stinger Ambassador! That means I get to use their awesome products while I’m training this year and tell everyone about them. I love the ingredients in Honey Stinger – there’s not a lot of weird stuff to upset my stomach and best of all – the gels don’t have that funky texture. I am super proud to sport my Honey Stinger logo along with the Brooks B Fit logo this year!HoneyStinger_Vert_COLOR

Loving my flaws

*This is a draft I found saved in October of 2015. I think it’s relevant so I’m posting it.

Last week was the funeral of my Grandmother. My Grandmother was 89, she had dementia and she was almost always in pain. She had a long, happy life so it was her time and she was set free. It was a good thing for her to go but it was very hard on me. With her passing, of course I came to think about why I loved her so much and why it was hard for me to say goodbye.

This is a passage I posted on a women’s motivational FB page:

”  Running in the woods was the best thing I ever did for my self image. That hobby has completely simplified my approach to beauty. I think it’s important as your friends are complaining and suffering in their own self image that you allow them to find their own way. However, I think it’s important to share what you see that is positive and beautiful as well. With that said, I have a hard time with compliments on my looks. Not because I don’t believe them but because I am comfortable and accepting of my flaws. It’s weird to know I have so much to work on to be healthier but also be OK with where I am at. Sometimes the negative thoughts creep in and then I have a killer workout and I remember where I started.”

I struggled for years with hating myself. It started at around 9 years old and continued until I was about 25. In 2008 I decided to start running seriously. I started with walk/ running a 5k route in my neighborhood and took 2 1/2 years to build up to a 10k. In 2010, 6 weeks after my wedding, a very good friend was killed in a car accident. It spun my world and head in circles and I could not concentrate on anything but the pain. It was the first time in my career that I remember not being able to force myself to smile on a bad day. One of my co-workers who was also close to Carrie reminded my that she had run the Race to Robie Creek for several years and suggested we form a group to run it in her remembrance. I agreed but was terrified!

The Race to Robie Creek was known as “the toughest half marathon in the northwest” It’s 9 miles uphill, on a remote dirt road and then 3 miles of quad-pounding downhill, followed by the last mile of flat, which it absolute slow torture on your calves. I had never run more than 6.2 miles and certainly not on an uphill or dirt! So I trained, but not enough and finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes. I was defeated and swore I wound never do anything like that again. 8 months later I signed up for a marathon.

By this time, I was at my heaviest. I weighed 206lbs. I was miserable and even though I was semi-working out, nothing was happening with my body. There were a chain of events that inspired me to get moving again and each one of them is special for it’s own reason. First, my store was next door to The Pulse Running and Fitness Shop. Holly, the owner and Beth, the Manager has been instrumental in supporting me on my journey to train for Robie Creek and continued to push me to do more. Second, I had joined a website called dailymile.com and had somehow become friends with a bunch of ultra-runners. 2 in particular were extremely supportive and shared their stories of getting started as well as their adventures in ultra-running (Christie and Ryan!) Third, I bought the book, Born to Run, not knowing that it would be about trail running! And fourth, I was watching a season of the Biggest Loser where in 6 months the contestants not only lose a lot of their body weight but also run a marathon. The combination of all of these events inspired me to sign up for the Lake Lowell Marathon on May 5, 2012. I don’t even have to look that date up. It’s etched in my memory forever!

I completed the marathon. My husband Greg was so amazing that day, following me in his truck with our dog and checking on me every 2 miles even though there was an aid station every 2 miles. At one of the aid stations, Calvin, who was volunteering and was also a friend from dailymile, said “You know a marathon is the gateway to an ultra.” Those words stuck with me and as I crossed the finish line, I was hooked. I signed up to run the Foothills 50k Frenzy the day it opened for October 2013. And I started training.

 

YES!!! Actual Running!

A couple years have gone by since my last post and a lot has happened. The short version: in 2015 there were 4 deaths of people very important to me. During that year I finished the ITUS series – 4 50ks or more in the Idaho Trail Ultra Series. The prize being a super cool jacket and bragging rights. Shortly after that, work turned into a hell hole. My body took a toll and little things became to big for me to handle physically because of the stress I was under at work. This last May I got a new job and it has been a huge blessing. I put on a little weight and twisted my ankle pretty badly. I am now in full recovery and not necessarily starting over, but really getting back to where I was. Today I had a breakthrough….

My goal today was speedwork. Since I haven’t been able to run I decided today I would do 5 miles with a goal of a 15mm pace run/walking just to get me used to running again. I planned to meet two other ladies to hit the high school track in Kuna. I showed up a half hour early to warm up a bit and found the track locked up. This has happened in the past and there has always been a way in but not today. I went to the alternative high school to see if their track was locked. It wasn’t but they have a dirt track and the second I stepped on it, I squished down into the mud. I had a million reasons not to go today. Running on pavement… probably not smart with the ankle. Running alone since plans changed… not as appealing. Homework, housecleaning, meal prepping… there were so many reasons to stay home. My goal this year is mental training so I grabbed the dog, turned on my watch and headed out of the neighborhood with a plan of walking 3 miles. After .25 miles, I ran .25 miles, walked .25 miles… ect until I hit the 3 mile mark. At that point I ran .10 miles, walked .10 miles ect… until I hit 5 miles. I found a ditch bank and did out and backs on it, randomly running circles through the surrounding subdivisions. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal but like hell if I am not going to do what I say I’m going to do to train for this big, beautiful 50 miler next July. Palisades. Be still my heart!

Beaverhead Endurance Runs 55k 2015

Ah – Beaverhead – This course is unforgettable, breathtaking and full of surprises!

Last year this race nearly killed me, physically and spiritually. My friend Nellie and I rolled into the last aid station well after dark. I was angry and bonking and wanted to quit. I had suffered from IT band issues for miles and the descent was proving to be brutal. I called my husband and told him I was quitting to his reply of “You only have 5 miles – everyone is waiting for you.” So I finished the race,at 2 am, defeated. Then, of course, signed up again, determined I could finish stronger.

This year I was more prepared with having been on the course before. I knew my head could be my biggest friend and having a pre-race pep talk by Travis Macy, the author of “Ultra Mindset” solidified that knowledge. It was a surprise and a treat to listen to him talk! I started the day with a detailed plan – a new strategy for me. I knew how long I had between each aid station to finish before 10:30 pm – a stretch goal of taking almost 3 hours off my previous time. I also had learned that my recurring injuries rear their ugly heads when I am dehydrated so I really focused on drinking a lot of water and eating every 45 minutes. Those 3 strategies, combined with better weather held big promises for reaching my goal.

The day started at Lemhi pass with lots of friends! We were bused up to the start at 8358 feet! After bathroom breaks, and getting race numbers we all took turns taking pictures of each other at the start then patiently waited to begin.

beaverhead2015Friends at the start – photo credit Nellie Pryor

At 7 am the race started! Immediately, the trail ascends a very steep hill climb for about a half mile. It’s here that the different paces spread out. I quickly found myself where I should be and was able to relax and enjoy the climb. For the next 18 miles – the course follows the Continental Divide Trail. For about 16 miles of that it is mostly nice, rolling single and double track through the trees. Simply amazing! We made good time and put lots of it in the bank for the skree field later in the race.

beaverhead2014milesoftrees

Pictures from last year’s race!

I was feeling pretty good through most of this part and we were keeping on pace. I started to get tired around mile 10 so I ate some sport beans. I suddenly was craving candy like crazy!! I don’t usually eat a lot of sugar so this was very odd for me. I decided to go with it and it seemed to work. At the 2nd aid station they had swedish fish and mike and ike’s. Along with my regular nut butter and potato chips, the super sugary candy fueled my entire run. I’ve learned over the few ultra’s I have completed that while it is not smart to try something brand new on race day, I do better when I eat what I crave as this is probably an indication for something I’m lacking.

Around mile 15 – 16 the trail started opening up and we were treated to gorgeous views!

beaverhead viewcdtlake

It is also here that the trail starts to change and we began to see a lot more rock. We stopped to check out the views a few more times but we had a big goal this year!! So lots less time for pictures!

Eventually, we made it into the Gold Stone aid station. The volunteers were so welcoming! They filled us up and we were on our way – 2 hours earlier than we had been at that aid station the year before. It was amazing to be that far in a race and not here one word uttered from a volunteer about a cutoff!

Next up was the Janke Lake aid station! Again, the most wonderful volunteers! One of them treated some blisters on Nellie’s feet while we ate her homemade snacks. It was so friendly and amazing!

Finally, we headed out to the toughest 6 miles of the course. These 6 miles are what make this race different from every other race I’ve participated in.

jankelakeThis is just leaving Janke Lake AS – photo credit Nellie Pryor

We start out with an intense climb – the one you see in the picture above. We climb to the top of that point and then quickly begin navigating a 3 plus mile skree field topping out at 10,047 feet.

rainbowRainbow over an alpine lake after a rainstorm

meonskreeNavigating the skree field – photo credit Nellie Pryor

epic31Nellie and Stephanie, coming down the skree field.

At this point we had several people starting to pass us from the 100k (I’ve never considered myself fast) Each of them commented on how tough the skree field was and no one was running. The skree field follows the Continental Divide – one side is Montana and one side is Idaho. It’s absolutely breathtaking,terrifying and excruciatingly slow!

epic30Idaho side of the skree field

montana sideMontana side of the skree field

Soon, we came to the section where we start to descend and we saw a trail again. It was a fantastic sight although this year, I was a little saddened to leave those brutal 3 miles.

In the next 3 miles, the course follows a steep game trail that loses 4000 feet!! It’s insanely tough after already running 26 miles at a high elevation and on a rocky course! It’s tricky and this is where I suffered immensely with IT band problems the previous year, making this part of the course even tougher. This year I had no problems and although it was slow going, I was happy to complete the steep downhill in the light!

When we made it to Bohannon Creek Aid Station this year, I rolled in with a huge smile on my face, announcing, “I am SO HAPPY!!!!” The last year I had been grumpy and in pain and I knew these poor aid station workers had to deal with a lot of the same since they were the ones greeting runners after that brutal 6 miles. I laughed and joked as I was treated to a delicious smoothie and more candy!! Then I called my husband to tell him where I was at. He was so happy to hear we were 2 1/2 hours ahead of our time the previous year and even said, “Wow! You sound great!” I replied that I felt great and was going to finish in the daylight.

This phone conversation was the highlight of my race. The reason I do these things is to prove to myself over and over that I am growing and learning. Knowing where I was last year compared to this year fills my heart!

We left the aid station and made our way to the finish. It’s still very rocky and downhill so it wasn’t super speedy but I was just enjoying the daylight and the scenery I had missed the previous year. I even ran although the pace tended to be the same as walking.

We finally reached the finish, just after the sun had fully set, around 10:15pm. I excitedly crossed the finish line and exclaimed to the race directors that we had taken 4 hours off our time!! One of them high-fived me and the other said “I know, I know!!” It turned out later to be just under 3 hours but I had been to depressed about the time previously to look at the official results.

finishline2015Nellie and I coming into the finish – photo credit Emily Berriochoa

Overall, I couldn’t be happier. Nellie and I worked really hard to keep up with the aid station splits I had figured out and to keep ourselves taken care of before any issue got out of hand. Over the last year I’ve really focused on speed work, powerful movements and focused weight training through Cross-fit to enhance my performance in mountain running. I’ll never win any races but I’m just a happy girl to be in the mountains, with great company, incredible scenery and a drive to consistently and persistently improve myself. It was a blast seeing Boise Trail Runners on the course as last year Nellie and i were the only ones. I really got a lift each time I saw one of them on the trail. I don’t think there is a kinder, more fun group of runners out there! All this combined with cooler weather and I made the goal I set out for myself!

Eric and David Tarkleson are fantastic race directors. I highly recommend this race!

Happy Running!