Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Waldo 100k Race Report

Where's Waldo? Well, he's not hanging out in my GI tract because I emptied it on the course and didn't find him there. I didn't realize that when I added the Waldo 100k to my bucket list of races, that I would literally need a bucket during the race for all the puking I'd do, but perhaps that was short-sighted of me. Based on previous long-distance race experience, a bucket should be on my mandatory gear list. When will I learn??!

I can make light of it now because I fully get that in the grand scheme of things, having a shitty race doesn't matter, like, at all. Still, I'm disappointed. My training for Waldo went really well and I'm healthy and uninjured for the first time in years so I was expecting good things. Maybe even great things if I'm being completely honest.

Since joining the SWAP (Some Work, All Play) training group in February and working with coach David Roche, I've been logging some of the biggest mileage weeks I've ever done and instead of getting sick or worn down like I have in the past with larger training loads, I'm feeling strong, fit and happy and that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Earlier in the year, I made the conscious decision to race less with the hope that I would enjoy racing more. I only did one 50k event (Slay the Dragon) leading up to Waldo and I can see now that that was probably a mistake. While my stomach held for 50k at Slay the Dragon, it was starting to go off by the end of the race which is about the same point things went sideways at Waldo.

And I think I took for granted that I didn't have any nutrition issues on my long training runs. But then again, I never do! It seems there's something about racing that triggers a seriously leaky gut and I have yet to find a solution for it. The other possibility is that I've developed a psychosomatic aversion to racing that manifests itself in severe and prolonged vomiting episodes in events over 50k. Either way, it blows...chunks - ha, ha.

Race week was dreamy. I slept well, ate well and even gave up beer (mostly). I couldn't have asked for a better lead up to a big race. I was so excited to run this one. Having seen a lot of the course beforehand, I knew it was totally up my alley - non-technical, cruise-y singletrack trails with lots of climbing. It's like a roller coaster made for running.

The first half of the race flew by uneventfully. I was pacing well and staying on top of my food and hydration. I had a minor fall descending the rocky summit of Mt. Fuji leading to a bloodied knee and shoulder which the aid station volunteers wanted to clean up, but I politely refused because A. it didn't hurt and B. I thought it looked badass.

My only photo from Waldo
Coming into the Charlton Lake aid station at mile 32, I was on track for a sub-12 hour finish (my goal) and sitting comfortably in 4th place amongst the women. Then I started getting queasy. I decided to slow my pace considerably in the hope that I could settle my stomach, but it was too late. Within half an hour of leaving the aid station, the barf fest started and the party didn't stop until I rolled into the finish many looooong hours of slow walking - and puking - later. (Total time 14:22, 12th woman.)

It was an absolutely miserable 8+ hour period of my life that I would love to get back. I probably should have dropped out earlier but quitting is no fun either and I was pretty sure I could make the cut-offs even in my compromised state. Plus, I really needed another trucker hat for my collection...

Fortunately, there were some lighter moments. In a failed attempt to win a booby prize (not real boobies), I decided to go for the Show Us Your Waldo (also not what you're thinking) contest which is a spirit award voted on by the aid stations. Lacking any real talent, the best I could come up with was to Prancercise in and out of the aid stations. Yes, Prancercise. Based on the blank - and often confused - stares I received, it seems not a lot of people are familiar with Prancercising. If you're one of them, I suggest you check out the video below. It's kinda awesome! (But didn't win me the prize.)

I also met my doppelganger at Waldo and she's a lovely wife and mother of one from Bend, Oregon, and her husband and daughter were very excited to point out that not only do we bear an uncanny resemblance and race day fashion sense, but apparently we also run the same and share a fondness for stopping to pets dogs at aid stations.

And then there were the amazing ladies running the med tent at the finish who were able to give me a wonderful prescription strength anti-nausea medication that fixed me up well enough that within a couple of hours of staggering across the line (with Dora by my side!) I was up and actually able enjoy some of the post-race festivities that Rainshadow Running is known for - like pizza!

It was sweet how many other racers who had seen me struggling on the course stopped by after the race to tell me they were happy that I finished. Apparently, I looked as bad as I felt out there!? This sense of community created out on the trails - in good times and bad - is one of the best things about ultra racing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dragon Slaying

For my first race of the year, I decided to do a new 50k at Silver Star Resort called "Slay the Dragon" which includes the nearly completed Beowulf trail that has been four years in the making and was built by bikers for bikers. And it felt like that. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but there are trail features for mountain biking that just aren't as much fun for running, like berms and tight switchbacks...

Part of a 10k descent, followed by a 10k climb

It was still a fun course, though, even if some sections lacked flow, and I'm pretty sure my mountain biking friends will love it.

Random internet guy, not an actual friend

Mostly, I just wanted to get in a low-key training race before the Waldo 100k in August and this was the perfect event for that. I got to test my gut and hamstring on a hot, tough course and both held up well (sorta...keep reading). Hopefully, that means those concerns are mostly fixed, or at least good enough to run hard and get a few more miles on this body.

Since February, I've been working with David Roche at Some Work, All Play and his guidance has been incredibly helpful. I credit his cautious and conservative approach for my successful return to running with a torn hammy. He's also hilarious and makes training a lot of fun!

As for my stomach, well, it got me through the race just fine. I ate and drank throughout and didn't have any problems...until the car rode home and then things went south. Dave was forced to pull off the highway with little warning so I could fall out the car door and do some retching into the gravel. I thought that was as bad as it could get until we got stuck in a traffic jam near Peachland and couldn't pull over so I had to do my barfing into a plastic bag which I later learned had a hole in the bottom. I think the resale value of our Subaru went down that weekend.

Random internet dog, not my actual dog

Anyway, we finally made it home (longest drive from Vernon EVER) and after a couple hours of moaning miserably on various flat surfaces (i.e. the floor and couch), I was totally fine and able to take down every edible in the kitchen like a professional eater.

The working theory for my post-race bout of pukiness is the evil Ibuprofen I popped mid-race to counter an increasingly throbbing headache. I probably won't do that again. But headaches suck too so I might have to.

As for the race itself, I was able to run the first mini loop of about 13k with a few friends doing Grendels' Mother  - the 25k distance - so that was fun and helped passed the time. After that, I was pretty much on my own for long stretches. It was not a large race so the field was quite spread out.

I was happy with my pacing and on track for a 5:20 or so finish which I thought was pretty good, especially considering the course was looking to run a bit long and had a decent amount of vertical. Unfortunately, an unmarked (sabotaged?) intersection at around 44k earned me a few bonus kms as I tried to figure out where to go. I finally found my way back on the course and dragged my ass over the finish line (or finish area since there didn't actually appear to be any kind of line or chute) in 5:46 for 54k. That was good enough for 1st woman and 5th overall. Results here.

For a first-time event, I thought the organizers did a great job. There were a few minor hiccups along the way, but I'm sure they'll have them sorted out for next year.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Winter Hibernation

I definitely tend towards introversion on the social scale at the best of times, but come winter, my hermit-like tendencies kick it into high gear. And this winter - with its prolonged periods of cold, snowy weather - was no exception.

Not that I'm complaining, I've read some excellent books (I highly recommend anything by Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie), made enough soup to fill a swimming pool, filled every available inch of freezer space with baking and did a lot of nothing.

Well, almost nothing...

There were some fun family snowshoe adventures.
Ski touring on the KVR.
And unusual yoga classes.
After The North Face San Francisco Endurance Challenge in December, I took two entire months off from running. I needed the time off to complete a series of prolotherapy treatments on my torn hamstring. I'm happy to report that I have a much happier hammy now. Not entirely pain-free, but at least improved enough to start thinking about some races.

Since I've been off for so long and gotten terribly out-of-shape, I've decided not to plan any early season races so that I can gradually build up my mileage and, hopefully, avoid more injuries and burnout. 

My tentative 2017 race schedule looks something like this:

March - Elevator Multi Sport Relay (road biking)
April - Rainshadow Running Yakima 25km
May - Dirty Feet Kal Park 25km
June - Chelan Century Challenge 100-mile (road biking)
July - Slay the Dragon 50km
August - White River 50-mile
August - Waldo 100km

Hmmm, now it kinda looks like a lot!? Well, I'll just have to see how things go and how my body holds up to a bigger training load. I'm no spring chicken anymore after all ;)

I am, however, pretty excited that spring is coming! And I'm not the only one. My hairy little friend is looking forward to hitting the trails again too. 

Bring on spring; we're ready for it!