I ran 40 miles in the past week. The winter olympians in South Korea inspired me. My longest run was a personal best (non-race) distance of 22 miles up river from Sacramento, north toward Auburn, where my next race will be held on March 3rd. I will rest my legs between now and then, and focus on my diet and yoga. The #WTC Ultra 50K looks to be a great challenge for me again this year, as I got poison oak while hiking in Winters and could not do much hill work. As in 2017, I am not prepared for the steep ascent midway through the trails. No matter! What I love about the ultra is how it tunes me mentally and spiritually, and to endure physical pain. This tuning benefits me in myriad facets of life.
ultra (run 4 life) part 3
I thanked Davin profusely and he went on to help another runner who needed him. I got inspired by all the runners passing by with words of encouragement. Then I was able to help an older man who needed a strip of K-Tape for the pinched nerve in his neck. I brought some in my wristband. I would see him and Davin again, eating BBQ in the village at the end of the race, and we would be all smiles and gratitude.
The trail leveled out, thank god, and we came up on the mile 21 aid station, only ten miles to go! The sun came out (despite forecast for afternoon rain) and I grabbed some tasty broth and an energy bar and sat myself down in the grass for several minutes to catch some rays and thank my lucky stars (with a prayer) that I had survived the wall!
|finish line 2017 wtc50k|
The next 5 miles was like one long even cut in the side of this mountain, overlooking lush foothills and the canyon. They call this area ‘Auburn Lakes Trails’ and what with the sun peeking out of the cloud cover this afternoon, the river far below us, it was magical! All our climbing paid off. The pain I felt earlier was replaced by an inner calm, and a woman named Lydia stopped to give me her own special cocktail, two Advils and a Tylenol. She said ‘they tell you to stay away from the NSAID’s while running, but i say fuck it’ and we both shouted ‘fuck it!’ together in one burst of comradery before she flew on past me up the single track. I was gonna take my time getting home.
run 4 ultra (run 4 life)
This was a trail run through the American River Canyon, with river crossings and over 4,000 feet ascension, and my first major ‘norcal ultra’ event. I was very excited for a whole lotta fun and adventure, and the only problems I faced leading up to the event were poison oak and heavy rains in January and February in Sacramento where I live and train, which caused the American River to grow and grow, and some of my runs had to be cut short due to trails and water fountains I relied on being deluged and underwater!
|K before the 50k|
What an exciting winter -2017- watching the drought in our region come to a muddy and verdant conclusion! The same could be said of my run.
I arrived with my boyfriend by my side in the little town of Cool, and we parked the VW and met up with my brother by the starting line (along with 999 other runners) where the little ultra village was setting up. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and found the medical tent where a very kind lady (one of the volunteers) decided to rescue me with her own inhaler, which she ran off to get from her car. She would be the first of many volunteers who stood out for me this day, and without whose support I never would have finished the race. I am grateful to them all!
|famous wtc frog cupcakes|
We took a couple pics and I did a little dance on a snapchat my brother recorded for my nieces to enjoy, and before long I was off with the second wave, running down the access road past our little cheering norcal family assembled there on this little hill, heading for the muddy canyon trails. I was wearing my New Balance Leadvilles and my Run the Parkway shirt from last November’s 20-mile run in Sacramento, which was my first ever race. I hit a wall pretty hard in that race, then made it through the CIM (one month later) without a bonk (my first road marathon). I had to wonder, was I headed for disaster today, or another strong and even finish?
after Tosh stopped filming, i surprised him by coming around the other side of the police car, where we had a sweet embrace. see how the heart prevails over that which is sacred? sometimes nothing can get between the love we have for one another.
My staple diet for the 4 months of training consisted of oatmeal, peanut butter & jelly, pan-fried tilapia in olive oil, garlic, shrimp, tunafish, honey, granola, fruit, fruit juice, wheat bread and pasta, lots of tomatoes, cup of noodles, all the V8 juice combinations, bananas, oranges, muscle milk (which i found tasted pretty good mixed with hot coffee), tea, broiled turkey/chicken with veggies, jamba juice, spinach, eggplant, salad, almonds, quinoa, almond milk, salads, eggs, sweet potatoes, soups. On weekends after long runs I often treated myself to the stuff I cut out: pizza (cheese), chicken wings, hamburgers, steak, butter, bacon. So I could get the cravings out of my system once in a while. I also took B-complex and multivitamins every single day, and sometimes those green tea extract pills.
I usually start my day with some oatmeal/granola and honey and fruit, maybe some brown sugar. And a thermos of coffee/tea mixed with almond milk. Then I will snack while I’m at work on apples and oranges and granola/protein bars. After work (I work a nightshift) I will fry eggs, sometimes a whole wheat muffin, garlic, onion, ketchup (sandwich). Rest for an hour or two before my daily run (unless it’s summer when I have to get on the road/river early. After my run it’s a good idea to have some protein of some kind within the first half hour, otherwise hydrate through the day, fruit juices, water, granola bar, jamba juice. When I wake up at night before work, I might broil chicken or fish with veggies, or pan fry in olive oil. I rarely do both the big breakfast (eggs) and the big dinner (fish/meat/pasta) on the same day when I am training. I don’t need that much food unless I ran for over a couple of hours. I substitute something smaller, soup/salad/oatmeal/tunafish/pb&j, in lieu of one of those meals. This is what works for me.
The week leading up to a race, you wanna hydrate and carb-load religiously if you can. Meaning small meals several times a day, keep drinking water. I found that eating well makes me feel good, running makes me feel good, yoga makes me feel good, so I would just remind myself of this! It makes sacrifice and effort a whole lot easier when you see the bigger picture. You are a star! You are so healthy! You are the lean, mean, running machine!
All I can say is I am 43 years old and probably in the best shape of my life. I rocked 26.2 miles and got a ton of love from spectators, family, friends, and other runners. I spend countless hours along the most beautiful river in northern California, which I otherwise might have wasted online staring at a computer or worse. And I have a huge sense of accomplishment which carries over to confidence I have in everything I do. Now if that’s ‘crazy’ – please – make me insane!
I try and keep things simple or minimalist: no watch, no headphones, no camelbacks while running. Garmin makes watches which track your pace and heartbeat and distance and many runners have them, but you don’t need them if you’re concerned only with having fun and finishing, not with racing. It’s all up to you. A flipbelt will hold up to 10 GU gels around your waist, which is all the energy you need for 26.2! You can keep stuff in a wristband, too, including S-caps and even powdered supplement mix or gatorade in a plastic baggie for when you find a water fountain. I used GU Roctane during the marathon, which has sodium, caffeine, and extra amino acids. I also took S-Caps (salt and potassium pills) to keep safe from dehydration. My method was 1 GU every 40 minutes, 1 S-Cap every hour, for 5 hours. Just before my long runs, I drank a bottle of water mixed with Apex pre-workout mix (1 scoop) and Old School’s ‘Vintage Blast’ pre-workout (1 scoop) in lieu of GU. During the marathon I drank water and/or gatorade/nuun at every aid station, approx every 3 miles. When training on your own, you must find water fountains or hide a water bottle ahead of time, if you do not carry water. Don’t go more than 6 miles without fluids! Bananas and oranges were offered along the CIM course and I always took them.
Your energy level will go in waves! When tired, shorten your stride and ease back on your pace. When energized, I say go for it and pick up the pace. Listen to your body. If you suffer runner’s knee or other joint pain: KT-Tape is the bomb! Use it. Carry it. Negative splits are better than positive splits! Meaning run the first half slower than the second. I hit a wall hard after running 10min miles for the first half of my first race, which was a 20 miler one month before the marathon. My natural pace is 11 min/mile, but I had a lot of adrenaline and was pushing hard. I learned quickly the dangers of the positive split. My legs were so tired by mile 16 I could hardly continue on. But experiencing this wall over the next 4 miles was probably good for me, because I learned how to run on tired legs and finish.
You can discover your pace by knowing your distance and time, checking the clock before you set out and after you return. Just subtract any time you took for water/bathroom breaks. You can easily map out your route distance beforehand by going to google maps, right clicking your mouse and selecting ‘measure distance’. Then you divide your total minutes ran by total distance ran, to get your pace. It’s that simple. I found that I consistently ran a natural pace and could chip away at it on shorter runs.
If you are starting from scratch, give it a 4-6 month training window. Go ahead and find a tried and true schedule and post it on your wall. I used Hal Higdon’s 16 week intermediate marathon training schedule. Let yourself stray from the schedule based on your instincts. Everyone has their own personal challenges which will impact daily life. Just know that if you keep running, your legs will get stronger. 10% increases in mileage per week is considered the gold standard. Many runners alternate weeks increasing their sunday long runs to new distances, then falling back to rest the legs. I started out running totals of 15-20 miles a week, then worked my way up to 50-60 miles (with a 20 mile longest sunday run) in 12 weeks, then used the last 4 weeks to taper back down to 20-30 range, letting the legs recover before the big one. Cross-training is essential. I chose cycling and hiking. If I felt I needed a day off, I took it. If I could run 5 days straight, I did. The back-2-back concept is very helpful for learning/feeling how to run on tired legs. Hitting a wall here and there is good for you to experience the pain and try and run through it. Psychological/mental conditioning.
There is such a thing as over-training and it’s dangerous! Keep to the schedule if you can. You could injure yourself. New runners can be prone to injuries because your body is still adjusting to the high impact sport of long distance running. What happens with a new runner is your body tries to acclimate to the stress of impact, and often expends energy trying to stabilize/protect your legs. Experienced runners will find that, once acclimated, the body will be able to use those energy channels towards forward momentum.
Buy quality running shoes that are made for long distances. My personal favorite shoe and the one that got me through: Brooks’ Launch 3! A ‘neutral trainer’ that is very supportive but not too heavy, and has the kind of midsole cushioning which pushes back to help your forward momentum. Be aware of ‘pronation’ and have someone check your stride. Shoes wear out in 300-500 miles. Have an alternate pair and keep track. Faster runners tend to run on different shoes than they train on. Hokas are cushiony and good for recovery runs. The Pegasus 33 Nikes are good but a bit heavy. There are tons of useful shoe and product reviews all over the internet. Use them.
Use anti-chafing sticks like ‘Body Glide’ for surfers. Long runs will rub raw your arms, feet, inside of your thighs, anywhere there’s friction. Experiment with socks. They do make socks these days which prevent blisters, but moleskin helps, too. I experienced a knee injury while breaking in my Hokas which caused me to need new shoes only days before my race, and the ‘Swiftwick’ socks I was offered kept the blisters at bay. If you do get blisters while training, there are safe ways to pop and bandage them and keep running without delay. Don’t forget suntan lotion if you are fair-skinned. Nobody loves skin cancer and you may be out running for 3-4 hours at a time…
I am thrilled to have finished the California International Marathon yesterday in just under 5 hours, running from Folsom to Sacramento @ dawn to noon! I could not have made it without all of the support I got from friends and family, fellow runners and spectators, and volunteers cheering us along throughout the course. I stayed on pace this time, focusing on a negative split, and finished really strong without a whole lotta suffering like last month when I hit that proverbial wall.
|kiss the sky|
This was truly one of the best days of my life! The dream I had to run — when I was just a kid watching and cheering and giving cups of water to the runners @ the Boston Marathon — finally became a reality. I wanna give a shout out to those of you who have been following my 6 month journey, and provided me with so much encouragement. I am grateful to you! Look out for 2017: I may move into the ULTRA-marathon with an attempt at the Gold Rush 50 kilometre trail run which also starts in Folsom, in May. Sky = the limit.
|cim or nothing|
I took a deep breath and recovered some hope after talking with friends and family, and kept on. I bought a compression sleeve for my knee and did a couple of short (2-3mile) runs over the weekend in my Adidas Pureboost X’s, and I did still feel a dull pain in the knee but not too bad. Running fast on a downhill did not seem to aggravate it, and there was no swelling or bruising afterward. This convinced me it was the proverbial ‘runner’s knee’ people talk about. I began to wonder if I might forsake the Nikes for the Pureboost X’s but nowhere online could I find anyone who ever ran an entire marathon in these shoes! I just didn’t want to wear the Pegasus again, due to their weight and something about them just did not feel right toward the end of my first race. The Pureboost X is a lightweight shoe which is incredibly comfortable and is mostly reviewed online as a 10k or less trainer with floating arches, and good for the road. So I decided to run a counterintuitive 9 miles yesterday with only 6 days to go, just to see if the Pureboosts (and my knee) could handle long distance.
These are the final variables for my race preparation. I have brought my weight down to 169lbs (i am 5′ 11″ tall) by eating mostly tilapia, pasta, oatmeal, cup of noodles, and drinking Jamba juice, muscle milks, tea, water, and V-8. I take B-complex and multivitamins and green tea extract pills daily. I am happy with my in-run energy plan which consists of Roctane (higher amino acid levels) GU gels every 45 minutes, and S-caps (salt pills with potassium) every hour. And of course water/gatorade provided on the course. Needless to say, shoes and a knee injury are 2 very critical variables to have at such a late stage in training. Up until I got sick and subsequently injured, my training regimen (Hal Higden’s intermediate schedule) went perfectly well, too.
How did yesterday’s run feel? Pretty good. The Pureboost X’s felt fantastic all 9 miles, so I think I will go against the grain and run the marathon in these beauties! Maybe I will be the first one ever to do so? I think they can go the distance. As for me, well, my knee got a little funky after I took a bathroom break midway through the run. It began to hurt in mile 5 and I really thought my plans to run the marathon were about to come crashing down. But I decided to try and run through it, and this time — miracle of miracles — it worked! By the end of the run it was feeling quite good and so was I. My plan is to stay off my legs as much as possible the next 5 days, do a lot of yoga and quad stretching, buy some glucosamine supplement and KT tape (kinesiology) — which seems to have worked wonders for other runners in trouble with runner’s knee — and keep my head up and heart skipping beats as Sunday fast approaches.