In early October of 2012, I volunteered near the finish line for the Foothills 50k Frenzy. At that time, I had run one marathon and the idea of a trail race or a 50k was still very mysterious to me. I volunteered near the finish line so I could see these runners faces as they came in to cross the finish line to make sure they looked happy and alive. I enjoyed every minute, especially chatting with some of the family members as they waited for their loved ones to come in.
I only knew 4 or 5 of the runners but as names were announced, I made a mental note of many of them. I was in awe of these people and how they all embraced at the finish line and congratulated each other. This was not something I had seen at road races. I also began making plans in my head to run a 50k but probably not until 2014. I figured that would give me enough time to train.
I’m not really sure what happened between October 2012 and October 2013 but somehow I went from wanting to run some fast road half marathons to signing up for the Frenzy. I remember an email from a local race director, Emily, I had met 5 months earlier, asking me what my running plans for the year were. I remember telling her about my plans for some fast half marathons to build speed and then I remember following her, a little over a month later, in the dark to the Wilson Creek Trail head. That was the beginning of the end for me. I spent 8 hours climbing and descending some of the toughest terrain I had ever seen. I was hooked. I signed up for the Wilson Creek Frozen 50k race, the 20 mile version and completed it in January, in 9 hours and 49 minutes, in -4 degrees, ice and snow. I had a blast.
Here is a picture of me at the summit.
photo credit Amy King
I had been toying with the idea of running the Frenzy as soon as I crossed the finish line at Wilson Creek. In April I volunteered for The Race to Robie Creek half marathon at the summit with The Pulse – a local running store. My new trail buddy, Dondi was running the race and was going to come back up to the summit when she was done and then run an additional 12 miles back to the cars via the foothills to train for her upcoming race. I had the amazing opportunity to join her and some other local runners, Jenny, Dennis, Mark and Otto on the trails back to the cars. We took a beautiful route, all the time Jenny and Dondi narrating how these trails would fit in with the Frenzy and talking me into it. It was hard and I had IT band issues that day but I knew if I could train correctly I would have a successful race. When Jenny, the race director offered a deal on facebook for the entry that could not be refused, I hurried to the Pulse and signed up.
Here is a picture of me at the top of Orchard Gulch for the first time. I had told Jenny I was jealous of everyone’s cool trail photos so she got lots of great shots of me that day.
Check out these views! Seriously, so lucky!
photo credits Jenny Stinson
I followed the suggested Frenzy training plan by the letter. I made my way from Kuna to the Boise Foothills at least once a week, trying to conquer each of the trails listed on the Ridge to Rivers website, several of them included in the Frenzy. I battled heat, nausea, getting lost and time management for 6 months to ensure I was as ready as I could be for the race. I would say probably 2 of those training runs I came out of still with energy. I beat myself up almost every time and wondered how I would feel on race day. I never doubted I would make it. I just didn’t know what I would look like when I was done.
2 weeks before the race I went out for a run. It wasn’t fun. My body was not responding to a small run and I just felt tired. I did 3 1/2 miles on fairly flat trails. I tried again later that afternoon. Same result. I walked 3 miles in the Kuna foothills and came home exhausted. I just didn’t have it in me. 3 days later I headed out for a 6 mile loop at Polecat with my friend, Leah. My body just would not do what I wanted it to. We cut a mile off the run and called it a day. I got lots of advice from experienced runners to just relax. I decided the taper had begun and didn’t do anything physical for 11 days. That’s a long time when you are used to running 3-4 days/ week, yoga and strength training but I knew if I pushed it, I would hurt myself or not have a good race.
At 6 am on October 5, 2013 after hugging LOTS of new trail friends I made over the year, I took off with my friends, Shanda and Nellie. We headed down a small bit of pavement, just enough to get the pecking order in line and then hit the trails. I was determined to not get wrapped up in the crowd and go out to fast. I wanted to have a good race and feel good at the end. After we had all spread out a little, my friend Ryan said he wanted to run with me to the first aid station. We spent 6 miles on the trails together, him entertaining me with stories. We walked all the up hills and took a very easy pace on the flats or downhills. I enjoyed the company until we hit our first aid station where I saw some of my favorite people in the world! Amy, Emily, Jon, Tom, Donna and Kim! I was so looking forward to seeing them and I was having a great time but they didn’t want to see me for long so I got a banana and headed out. I would be back at this aid station again towards the end of the race.
Ryan took off to go find his wife, Michelle and I was alone on the trail. I knew what was in store so I was happy to be alone to battle with Five Mile Gulch. Five Mile Gulch is a never ending uphill 2 miles that I find myself swearing at every time I approach it. Here I was passed by 5 people, putting me in dead last. Which… I am totally fine with. I promised myself that I would take a laid back approach to my first 50k and enjoy it no matter what happened. I’m new to this, I’m 33. I have plenty of time to get faster. I want to look back at these experiences and remember every moment, every scenic overlook, the smells, the volunteers faces, all of it. Apparently, I looked to laid back because when I reached the aid station at the top of Five Mile, I got a brief but funny lecture from my friend Martha about hanging out at aid stations. We had a small, 2 mile out and back here and she was just coming back. I told her I was taking my laid back, no stress Kristine approach to races. I jokingly said ” I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I think this made her worry about me which I felt bad about later when I read her blog. I really was just having fun even if Five Mile Gulch beat me up a little. I headed up Ridge Road for my 2 miles and on my way back, passed 2 ladies. I asked them if they were the sweeps and they said yes. Uh oh – time to get moving. I did not want to spend the majority of the race with them even if they did look like nice people. My friend Tina came out to meet me and ran/ walked me back into the aid station even though she had a sore foot! I loved seeing her and her husband Mike, Wayne and Michael at this aid station! I was at mile 13 and I started counting down the miles until I would be back at the 3 bears AS to see my friends again.
Here is a picture of me and Martha and me with the Andersons.
Here is a picture of the view at this point!
photo credit Martha Spiva
The next stretch was amazing! It was slightly downhill, and the views were incredible. I picked up the pace a little and enjoyed the gravity. I came out at the summit for Robie Creek! It was so cool to see how all these trails connect. I ran down Rocky Canyon road a little and cruised into the mile 18 aid station. They informed me I had 2 hours to make it to the next aid station – 4 miles away. I was ecstatic! I have to admit I didn’t really study the course map or look at the cutoffs before this race. I’m not sure why but I think it helped keep me relaxed and having fun. Besides, this was the part of the course I loved! Orchard Gulch is one of my most favorite trails. It is so beautiful and I had run it several times. Here I ran into Michelle and Ryan again. We chatted and ran together a bit but I was finding my second wind so I took off. This is a very runnable section once you get to the top so I wanted to take advantage of it. About a mile from the next aid station, I saw my friend, Sam and his friend, Ken. They took off to see where Ryan and Michelle were and then came back and ran me into the aid station which was fun. When I came in I got to see my friend Carrie! And they had a porta potty! Glory hallelujah! I was happy to use a real toilet! My friend Liane was there and took off, then Ryan and Michelle came into the AS and I took off. I had beat the cutoff by 45 minutes! I was a happy girl and I only had 2 1/2 miles until I was back at the 3 bears AS.
photo credit Jeff Black
photo credit Jeff Black
Ok. I am coming to find out in every race there is a section that tests your mental muscles. This was it. I have run this section of 3 bears over and over but only coming downhill onto Rocky Canyon road. I did not realize what a tough trail this is going back up until the race. I was very angry at 3 bears and was power hiking with vengeance! When I FINALLY reached 3 bears AS I told them that stretch was a beast but I had been counting down the miles until I saw their faces again! What was most entertaining was Jon in his afro wig and then Tom being yelled at by Amy, Emily, Kim and Donna when he offered me a chair! I giggled and told him thank you for thinking of me! They offered me many yummy things. I responded that my drug of choice for the day was m&ms mixed with salty chips in a baggie. Then Tom offered me a fresh, hot cup of Starbucks coffee and everything was right in the world. I love these people!!! They told me it was 4 1/2 miles to the next AS and I was off again. Sipping on my coffee and preparing to kill it in the next 8 miles.
This section was pretty much downhill, fun to run with a few steep but short uphills. Then I came to a section of Femrites that is very steep downhill and very slippery rock. I was glad that I had joined my friends Dondi, Andrea, Lori and Joyce on this section earlier in the summer and new what to expect. My husband called me here and I let him know it would be about an hour and a half to the finish.
I came into the next as and was pretty excited to see Liane and her friend Nancy and that they had watermelon! It had warmed up pretty significantly and watermelon was a welcome treat. I was a little dissapointed here. I had been told at the last AS that it was 4 1/2 miles to this AS. I could see it in the distance and figured I had plenty of time to meet my goal once I got there so I didn’t push myself to get to the AS fast. I knew once I hit that AS that I would have an hour to do 3 1/2 miles and would reach my goal time of 10 1/2 hours. When I found out I still had 4 1/2 miles to go, I knew I couldn’t do that in an hour. I got very upset, near tears and took off. I had a lot of energy saved up and ended up running about 2 1/2 miles as fast as I could. I saw Andrea on top of the hill and I headed towards her. I was so happy to see her and expressed how I was feeling. I now know that I was just experiencing some of the emotions that come with a race. I was almost done and up until that point I had not allowed myself to be negative so I was just letting it out. She hugged me and listened which was all I needed.
I ran another mile, determined to at least come in close to my goal when I saw a lovely face – Kayla!!!! I was so happy to see her and she was so great telling me what was coming up a head and pushing me along that last mile to finish. It was so funny because I knew someone else was with us. I finally turned around to look and it was Nellie’s daughter, Amber! I was so shocked that she was there! I apologized for complaining to both of them and told them how happy I was to see them!
We got to the stairs where I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were for me. I have very steep stairs in my house so I get lots of practice but I thought for sure they would be harder than they were. I paused at the top for a moment to see the finish and then took off! I passed my husband and our dog and cruised through the chute at 10:49. Then I was greeted with a million hugs from Shanda, Nellie, Martha, Jenny, Holly, Beth, Amy, Donna, Carrie, I could go on and on! So many hugs!!!! Then I turned to see my hubby coming towards me and I ran to him for a huge hug and kiss! I was SO happy to see him and Shady dog! We had lots of pictures and then we waited for the rest of the runners to come in. I felt drunk from happiness and elation and exhaustion! It was a glorious day!
Coming into the finish line!
Coming in for the hugs!
I’m not sure who took all these photos but thank you!!!!
I fueled well, eating what looked good to me at AS and subbing in my homemade peanut butter and honey packets as well as Sbux VIA refresher packets. I hydrated well, finishing my Nathan pack by mile 30. And I dressed perfectly for the weather; shorts and a skirt, a short sleeved tech shirt and a long sleeved tech shirt over that which I peeled off as soon as I started getting warm. I didn’t match. I saved energy so I could finish strong although, I do have to admit there were places where I could have pushed myself a little harder and got a better time.
In January I finished my first trail race, 20 miles, in 9:49. In July, I finished my 2nd trail race, 22.7 miles in 8:34 and on October 5, 2013, I finished my first 50k, 32 miles, in 10:49. I would say I am pretty happy with that kind of progression over a 10 month time period! I basically added 12 miles in an hour!
I am so grateful for the friends I have made this year! Also for the friends and family who have supported and cheered for me! And especially for Greg, who has sacrificed many home cooked meals and one-on-one time with me because I was to tired from my training.
Now – on to WILSON CREEK 50K in January!!!!!