Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Test

My biggest struggle this year has been balancing two kids, multiple therapy and doctors appointments, a demanding full-time job and my running. As I wrote out my LT100 training plan I knew this week would be the ultimate test. It had every possibility of being a bagel week. And 6 weeks ago I honestly might have logged 20-30 miles. 

I went in with the mindset to get miles in whenever and wherever I could...early mornings, late nights, lunches, pushing strollers whatever it took. One day at a time. I barely made it through Monday and Tuesday's appointments with only a handful of miles. Wednesday I made up for it with some big running. And then as I loaded the kids into their car seats and turned the car on to head home after school I heard the unmistakable sound of a puking baby. I dashed around the cart to find Robert, the car seat and a good amount of my car covered in raspberries and olives. Really? It had to be the day they served raspberries! My second thought was seriously? The week that was already testing every mental aspect of my being? Naturally the stomach big lasted a full 72 hours which meant a lot of treadmill and stroller running. And very little sleep...Wednesday night up every hour to push fluids, Thursday night every 2 hours. 

Friday Rob wasn't puking so I dropped him off at school with the plan of getting as many miles as I could before he got too fussy for school. That might be some sort of new record for me 21 miles, 3150'of very in 3:02...didn't do much for time on feet but I kept telling myself it was Outward Bound to Twin, the lap at FJ was practice for going around Turquiose...any tricks I could play on myself to try to believe this was really a quality long run. An then as if the week hadn't already been long enough I got to pack up and head for the hospital for another sleep study with James. If you e never had the joy of experiencing a sleep study let me tell one actually sleeps! Long story short it literally took about 5 hours to get J all hooked up. We could only do a few probes at a time to keep him asleep-ish and from pulling the probes off. Around 2:00 I was so exhausted I could t stay awake any more and didn't notice them come back in to hook up the last probes. Thankfully I'm well adapted to functioning on 3-4 hours of sleep. So we were released at 6:15 am, drove home, picked up celebratory donuts, because we survived the week, ate most of the donuts and then took the boys out on a stroller run...because that's just the way we roll! 

I didn't quite hit my numbers for the week but still managed nearly 70 miles and 12k I'm vert! Basically that means I didn't just survive I nailed that test! I know too that mentally to get through this week...and log as many miles as I have on the neighborhood hill, yes the neighbors all officially think I've lost my mind, that this week was more than just the miles ran. Mentally I'm ready for Leadville! I'm ready for a 25-30 hour all-inclusive spa vacation! Two more weeks of big mileage and heavy training and then we start winding down. One day at a time...14 more days...

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Over the last couple weeks I've made
a huge commitment to get myself in the best shape possible for Leadville. But I know it's not just about logging miles in the mountains. If I'm going to build up this quickly and stay healthy my legs need to be bombproof. Now let's not go getting excited that I might have stepped foot in a gym...or even lifted a weight for that matter. Instead I've put together a series of pilates-based exercises to strengthen my core, back, arms and mostly my legs. So far I've stuck with it the past couple weeks and am starting to see more definition in my legs. I'm just hoping it helps. 

As for running I've managed another week of hard training and making running a real priority. This week I hit 80 miles and 11k feet of vertical. My long run wasn't quite as long as I had hoped due to thunderstorms that moved in before I was done. I could have gone for more vert there as well, but instead I balanced it with a super runnable hill at Three Sisters. So while it wasn't the steepest hill, aside from Hope and Powerlines Leadville is super runnable, so I need to be prepared. And I ran this run hard. 

So another week of hard training done. I'm still second guessing everything wondering if I'm doing enough, running enough, strength training enough, hiking and climbing enough, enough long runs, It seems I constantly see posts of everyone else doing 30+ mile long runs every weekend, hiking 14ers non-stop, 3 hour weekday in my head I still continue to wonder am I doing enough. That damn comparison monster is always there. I just have to trust it. I've done this before I know what works for me. And I'm training harder than I have before. So time to trust it. That's all I can do at this point. 

The other thing is I'm really having fun! When I was debating running this year Sandra said to me that she was afraid she was losing me, that I was losing me. And stepping up my training I think she was right. All my running before seemed to be centered around the kids, what time I had to get them, how much it would take away from them, whatever they had going on. I've tried to focus more on what runs I need. And really I haven't given up anything for the boys, I've just mentally told myself my runs are a priority. Now the house may look like a disaster most days and dinners aren't quite as nice as they have been, but the house is clean enough and there is food on the table. Pretty sure that's all that really counts anyways right? And the boys seem to be doing all right...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Decision 2016

Contrary to popular belief this was actually probably the biggest decision I had to make this year. And I did nothing short of agonize over it. I got my LT100 coin on Saturday and had until 3pm Wednesday to decide. It took nearly every minute to figure out if I was going to race in 2016 or defer to 2017. 

The smart decision would be to defer. I'm not in peak shape, I'm barely sleeping which is not lending itself to recovery and there is no telling if I can actually change any of that in the couple months before race day. 2017 I'd be ready to have an amazing race, I'd be perfectly trained, no need for pumping, most likely sleeping more...the list goes on. 

But there's always that what if...what if could be a million things. My heart said you don't know what will happen now. Sometimes there is no second chance, sometimes this is the only chance you get -Gordy Ansleigh rang through my head. 

My heart is 0-2 in 100s...but you never know if you don't try. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed and so I clicked back, back, back on my registration, threw caution to the wind and once again decided to follow my heart. Third times a charm right? 

Despite feeling rushed to train I knew I needed to spend the week after the race recovering. So I ran easy and came up with a game plan to train for the rest of the summer. It's one day at a time and each day I'm making my runs a huge priority. The house will probably be a bit of a disaster, I'm hoping for 4 showers a week and dinner will probably be a rotation of grilled chicken salads and pasta with meat sauce since I can prep all of those ahead of time. 

This past week I nailed my training with almost 70 miles and over 14,000 ft of vert. I'm not a high mileage runner so for me that's a pretty high mileage week. Dan and I also got in a super fun long run at Golden Gate SP. I felt great! My legs were there, no stomach issues, my nutrition was on point and even after I wasn't sore or tired. I could easily have gone longer. It was a huge confidence boost for sure. So one day at a time for a couple more weeks and hopefully I'll be at least in sight of that peak 100 shape. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Leadville Marathon Race Report

I definitely went into this race worried about how much pressure I was putting on myself. Its hard not to think about the fact that this is your last race of the season if you don't place. That's it...over before it really even begins. 
Ball #1
Photo: Brandon Yonke

I didn't go in feeling like I had peaked or was even really that well trained. Since Quad Rock I really hadn't gotten in much quality running...maybe not really anything of any real quality. But now it was go time so I just had to trust that I had it in me somewhere to be able to go top 3 and get that coveted gold coin. 

Dan and I decided it would be too tough to try camping with the boys the night before and probably still too cold for them. So I drove up first thing in the morning. You know when it's already 50F in Leadville at 7:30 in the morning its going to be a hot day. I was about as mentally prepared for the heat as I could be but I hate running in the heat. I found Elizabeth before the start, gave her a hug and wished her well as I headed to the front of the starting line. I also hate starting that far up, but I knew I needed to line up further ahead than I'm comfortable. 

As the gun went off and I felt myself start running I knew I honestly had no real game plan for the race. I think it was about 20 seconds before I thought oh shit this is WAY too fast! I didn't even want to look at my watch, but a quick glance told me I was at  7:30 pace and getting passed. Let the halfers go I thought, it'll sort out at the turn. I turned off the pavement and onto the dirt road in 6:30...I was already 2 min faster than Rob's time and I was pretty sure that was not because I was going to be that much faster overall than him. Once I hit the dirt though I was able to settle into the gradual climb up to Ball. As I climbed I began to remember the miles and my previous times. Aid A...1:15 I think...3:00 to the top of Mosquito...I hit both those times perfectly. 
Ball #2
Photo: Brandon Yonke

I felt like I had climbed well to the top of Mosquito, but I was already back to around 15th I think. I was behind in nutrition despite feeling great at altitude. I got a little dizzy in the last 1/4 mile up Mosquito, but my stomach was hanging in there great. My hands were swollen so I started doubling up on the Nuun and that helped immensely. Coming back down Mosquito though felt like a total cluster. I was passing people coming up, passing people going down, I just couldn't get a rhythm going at all. I have no doubt that my superman expedition in 2014 was playing with my head and holding me back as well. Still I managed to pass a couple girls on the way back to B. As I came up on B I saw Sandra running toward me and was super excited to see she, Dan and the boys had made it! I gave a few quick kisses, filled bottles, and gulped down a few cokes before heading back out toward A 1/2. 

I was really still feeling good. Maybe its because I was now starting to move at an obnoxiously slow pace...well at least for where I should have been. I don't know it just really felt like I was moving well, but I look over my times and I just wasn't. I turned off the road and then made the sharp left turn to go back up that damn climb around mile 20/21. Its miserable and was way longer than I remember it being. I held my place pretty well and stayed close to a couple girls that I knew I'd catch on the downhills. I got to the top and was finally able to let it loose. I picked off a couple more girls on the downhill and was pretty confident I wasn't going to see them again. I remember one guy on that climb turning to me and saying ah last climb I laughed, maybe a bit too much and said oh no there is most definitely one more climb that will make you want to cry, it's not long but its cruel. He found me after the race to let me know I was most certainly correct about there being one more brutal climb. I felt like I actually managed that one well, but again, my Garmin told a different story. By the last downhill I knew I wasn't going to PR, I wasn't going to catch any more girls and none behind me were going to catch me. This is a hard place for me because I just can't find the motivation to push it all the way in. I ran well I think my last mile was a 7:34 pace, but I crossed the finish line knowing full well I could have gone out and done the course again.

Now it was time to wait. I finished 10th and 5th in my age group. I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to get a coin, but you never know unless you show up right? And so I did. The 3rd place girl in my age group accepted the coin and I accepted my fate. And then I hear oh we have another coin for this age group, lets see who else is still're telling me I have a chance? Girl response...lets see if anyones here, ah how about a...s...sio...I'm pretty sure the words weren't even out of their mouth before I was racing up to grab my coin. In the end it wasn't pretty, but my A goal was the coin and I'll tell you what...that coin is just as shiny! 

Gear: Pearl Izumi Trail M2 V2s; Pearl Izumi Fly Split shorts
Nutrition: Vanilla Gu, Nuun lemonade, citrus and triberry, coke
Hydration Pack: Ultimate Direction UltraVesta

Thanks to Dan and Sandra for the babysitting!

Sunday, June 5, 2016


Ever since Quad Rock I've felt like I've been in a tailspin. I had kinda forgotten that the week after a 50 you really can't get back to hard training without really risking injury. So mentally I was frustrated that I wasn't really training. I was running, but it was all easy recovery runs. No matter how much I told myself this is just how it is I was still frustrated...exactly why you need to remember this upfront. 

As soon as my legs started feeling better the kids started dropping like flies...stomach bugs and strep ran rampant through the house and it was really a week of just trying to survive. 

I went to Meyers one day to do a time trial and see where I was at fitness-wise. Every step felt harder than I thought it should be, I was breathing hard, my heart rate skyrocketing and my time 2 min slower than my PR. Dan reminded me I was less than 2 weeks out from Quad Rock and still probably not fully recovered, but my mind instantly went to Mosquito Pass and if I'd be up to snuff to get my ass up the pass. About an hour later I found myself sitting in the Children's urgent care listening to what I already knew...James had strep. Really the only reason we even went to urgent care was I knew it was strep and didn't want to wait until the next morning to get him on meds. I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and with lymph nodes that could have passed for watermelons. I guess that might account for the terrible run. That pretty much shot any chance of real training for the rest of the week. 

Finally three weeks out and I feel like I'm back in the groove. I didn't do any structured training but tried to get the mileage up. I got in some great runs, saw two rattlers at Apex, marked the North Fork 50 course (well nearly 23 miles of it) and cheered on Dan at the NF 50k. All with Dan in NYC for the week and playing single mom. We all survived the week so mostly if call it a success! Oh and Dan rocked the 50k especially for having just got off a flight the night before and a week of a lot of work and not much running. He's in much better shape than he gives himself credit for right now so we'll see how it goes at Never Summer but I predict a huge PR. 

One more week of hard training before LTM and then we'll see if I was able to do enough. There's only one way to find out and soon enough I'll be in Leadville ready to prove if I got what it takes to run hard, throw down and give it my all and hopefully in the end walk away with a golden coin! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quad Rock 50

I suppose I should get to writing a few things down about this race before I totally forget them. 

The week leading up to the race I actually tapered pretty appropriately, thanks Sandra for making me run with you and not go a bit further like I had originally planned. I wrote up some splits, printed a elevation profile to sleep worked in college before exams and I'm fairly certain I remember learning osmosis is a real thing. So in my mind I was actually more ready than my lack of long runs suggested. Really I had no idea how the day would go, I just hadn't really tested myself yet. 

Post-race recovery run, but aside from the snow this is pretty
much what the course looked like all day
The morning of the race it was cold, drizzly and foggy. Since my oh so accurate weather app called for a slight chance of rain and high of 63 I figured it would burn off. I'd be too hot in my shell so I left it in my 25 mile drop bag and had a little chat with Mother Nature. It was a bit strange without the 25ers lining up at the same time so I felt like I was starting way too far forward. But when we started my time was right where I wanted it. But I felt off. I still can't really place it but by the time I got to the top of Tower I could just feel things weren't clicking. I mean it was freezing cold, raining, I couldn't work my bottles to get calories or fluids, I missed the boys and my legs felt dead. Really after that about all I remember from that first lap is my drop bag missing from Horsetooth, normally not a big deal but it had my pump. They finally found it in someone's car and I was forever grateful! Then as I fumbled trying to assemble and pump around mile 19 I got passed by what felt like 20 women and all I could think was this has to be like child birth. So miserable you forget the whole thing and go back for more. I contemplated dropping, but I couldn't have two DNFs in a row and really at worst it was going to take me what 6 more hours. 

I came into the turn-around, dropped my pump and milk, picked up my shell because it was still drizzly and freezing up higher and immediately took off. I knew the other girls were only a few minutes ahead of me, but I didn't care. I honestly told myself this lap is about having fun and feeling good. So I did just that. I started sucking down calories, VFuel in my water, and since my hands were starting to swell I took a couple Nuuns and immediately felt better...shock calories and electrolytes work when you bonk. 

And then as I made that first climb out of the start/finish I finally started feeling strong again. I still didn't care what place I was in or what my time was I just kept hiking and running and feeling better with each step. I made it up that first climb and down to Arthur's pretty easily. When its not hot out that section is so much easier. Then a tough climb back up to Towers and I think I still have nightmares about this section from the first year I ran it. But I still just kept feeling strong. I think I passed one or two girls on the way back down to Horsetooth, but I really wasn't paying attention. At Horsetooth Sandra was leaving just as I came in the the volunteers started telling me the top 4 girls were just ahead of me. I laughed saying I wasn't racing and they just looked at me and said well we want to see a race and not being one to back down to a challenge I figured lets see what I've got. Afterall it was only 10 miles or so left. I took off at a good pace along the flat section and did my best to power up that last climb. I knew 10 miles that late in the race was still a long ways so I didn't try to overdo it. Looking back I had the legs so I should have pushed this climb a bit harder, but hindsight is always 20/20. 

Throughout the whole second lap I tried to stay really steady with taking in as much VFuel and Nuun as I could and I really think that helped my climbing. My stomach also felt surprisingly good. The first lap my bottles were filled with EFS and my stomach wasn't terrible but it wasn't great either. Once I had gotten through all the EFS and was onto just VFuel I did feel incredibly better. One of my nutrition goals this year was to try to stick to one type of sugar throughout a race. My EFS on the first lap was pre-mixed with Heed and so I had multiple sugars going on. I can't say for sure that this is the reason my stomach felt good, but I'll definitely stick with this plan for Leadville. 

After I left Towers for the last time I knew I had to push. I felt like I knew every step of the course...and really at this point I probably do. Looking back at my splits I think I still held back here a bit more than I was capable of, but I was still pushing pretty hard. As I started up that last mini climb shortly after you turn off Tower Road I saw I was catching up to Sandra. Shortly after the climb I passed her, wished her well and figured she would be chasing me down the whole rest of the way. I zigzagged through the last few switchbacks hoping to get a glance of the next woman. I could see a couple people ahead but couldn't really tell if any were women. At this point though I was so done. I knew it was about 3 more miles to the finish and I was so ready to be done. So I just kept pushing. I finally checked my watch, for the first time the entire second lap and while at this point I was anticipating a finish around 11:30 I was surprised to see a 9:49 on my watch. I rubbed the screen thinking that might change the time, did a quick calculation and realized that I might just have a shot at a PR after all. I quickly covered my watch back up and just went back to running. The meadows was pretty uneventful, I could see a couple people ahead of me and while I was closing the gap I knew I needed another few miles to over take them. Finally I popped out onto the road and made the quick turn into the parking lot and through the finishers shoot. 

I finished with a PR of 10:21, but what I was most proud of was coming back from a bonk and making up all my PR time (24 minutes) on the second lap. My first lap was exactly the same time as it had been the last time I ran which meant I took almost a minute off per mile in the second half of a 50. That's pretty huge for me and at least shows I'm making progress in running a steadier race. Probably the biggest frustration was finishing 5:30 out of first! Seriously the top 4 women were withing less than 6 minutes of each other. Its a bummer to miss the podium, but this wasn't my goal race and I need to be sure to remind myself it's not just about the podium...well except for the Leadville Marathon next month, that is ALL about the podium. Overall I was pretty happy with the race. There's a lot of room for improvement and I learned a lot, but still finished pretty respectfully. Plus I had fun despite the dreary weather and finished with a smile. The hardest part really was not having the little grommies there to greet me at the finish. It was definitely too cold to have them out, but its tough not seeing their happy faces at the finish line. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Well it certainly seems like Mother Nature is not on my team this year. Hopefully we can kiss and make up before races kick off or it could be a rough race season. My training hasn't been terrible in terms of mileage, in fact I've logged the most miles I ever have at this point in the season, but I've struggled to get my long runs in. Most have been a hodge podge of treadmill, trail, bike path and dirt road miles all smushed together throughout the day to total 20 miles. It's not perfect and definitely makes me nervous going into Quad Rocj that I don't have the endurance I need. Hopefully we've seen the last snow we have to measure in feet for the year! 

As nervous as I am I'm excited to get out there and see if I still have it at all. I feel like I have no idea how fast my legs will be able to keep pounding out uphills, how my new dairy free stomach will handle the race, and I'll be honest I have done a terrible job practicing nutrition. 

In the home front things have been crazy busy. The winter of sicknesses has continued and I'm ready to see the end to the snot faucets that have been turned on here for months now! I seriously think we're single handedly keeping Kleenex in business. Rob has started crawling which adds an element our routines. It can definitely be hard sometimes watching how easily Rob learns new things when James struggled for months to get it. Literally one afternoon Rob just pushed himself to sit, over one leg not up the middle just like he'd been doing it all his life. I think we worked for 3 months to get James to push up any way he could and it certainly wasn't the prettiest most correct PT-wise push to sit you'd ever seen. But none-the-less it's still fun to watch Ribert explore and discover his new world now. 

James meanwhile had his annual Ds clinic visit. Overall he did great and everyone was so impressed with how well he was doing. We're going to increase his feeding therapy to weekly and maybe someday he'll eat something besides bread or maybe even actually chew some food. By the time we got to PT he was pretty exhausted though and only somewhat interested in riding a bike and a scooter. So Pat Winders asked if we should just do his run test because she knows he likes to run.  I agreed that it was probably a good idea. As soon as we took James into the hall and told him he could run his eyes lit up and all his energy returned. He beat the run time they're looking for by 4 seconds! Over a 75 ft dash that's a lot of time! And he didn't stop we ran throughout all the halls on the 2nd floor of Children's with Pat and I chasing behind as James laughed and ran eyes sparkling with excitement. She just looked at me after and said he really loves running, he just lights up when he's doing it. I don't ever want to push him to be a runner, but I guess it's in his blood.