Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Work Hangover Wednesday: Zombies Ate My Brain

Happy Halloween. What a beautiful day it is here in Colorado. We're lucky to be here, with all the destruction of the storm on the East Coast.

I only worked one day this week, which was yesterday, but it feels like a work hangover today. I'm exhausted. It was another insanely busy day, with a Halloween-induced run on the blood bank. We did at least 8 blood product transfusions yesterday.

Seems like all I did was run up and down the stairs to and from the blood bank all day. At one point I almost took a nap down there while sitting in a chair waiting for one patient's blood that took extra long because of a screw-up in the paperwork.

I never even took a break until 3:30 in the afternoon, and I'd been there since 8 am. That almost never happens where I work, but yesterday it was just one of those days. It must be the convergence of the full moon and the zombie apocalypse, everyone needs blood and platelets this week, they're all bleeding!

This morning was my first run since the race. I'm not sore at all, feet didn't have any swelling except after the drive on Sunday. I do feel tired in my legs, but not bad at all. I ran an easy 6 miles and then went for a short, easy bike ride.

Tomorrow I'm running with Wheaties Boy, and I'm signing up for a 5K this weekend. The Heart Center 5K in Loveland. Usually I'd do the half marathon but I don't want to set myself back in my recovery, when this should be my easy week.

I'm making a major change to my racing plans for December, I've switched races at Across the Years. I'm going to do the 24 hour race on December 31st instead of the 48 hour. It will take me too long to recover from 48 hours, and I want to get back into training sooner this winter. As I work toward my goals of increased speed over the next year or so, it doesn't make a lot of sense to do a 48 hour run now.

I've been looking ahead at next year and I see a few races on the horizon I'm thinking about doing. I'm searching for a couple of good 50 mile road races at some point next year. I haven't found one yet. I'm already looking at Delano Park 12 Hour in Alabama in March. And I'm seriously thinking about doing the Cornbelt 24 hour again in May.

I also want to throw a few road marathons in next year. One race I'd like to go back to is the Deseret News Marathon on Pioneer Day in Salt Lake City. I'm looking for no-bullshit races. I was lucky to stumble on two great events with no bullshit this past year, the Cornbelt and 24 The Hard Way. I'm looking for more road events like that.

By bullshit races I mean 500 gazillion people, side circuses along the course, overpriced entry fees, Rock N Roll Marathon events come to mind. Really, in a marathon, I just want to run the damn race, get my time, and get out. I have other shit to do. I don't need all those frills and all those people. And I certainly don't need Elvis or a squad of cheerleaders to tell me that I can do it...

I'm going to spend some time on the bike this week, and as long as the weather holds this fall. I need to get some cold weather riding gear. I keep procrastinating. These 70 degree temperatures are teasing us, it means next week it will dump snow.

I'm hungry. I need to go get some food before I scratch the eyeballs out of the next person I see.

Monday, October 29, 2012

There's No Place Like Home...

Finally home after a LONG drive across Oklahoma, Kansas, and eastern Colorado yesterday. I made a special stop for an ice cream sandwich, recovery food.

I am not so sore as I am stiff from the drive. I got in the hot tub when I got home last night, and that helped. It's funny, the only place I am really sore is my deltoids. I guess I'm not doing enough work on my shoulders, I need to add something to my weight routine.

I don't have a sore throat, and I don't feel sick. Must have been allergies. I do need to get my flu shot soon, but I'll wait until the soreness in my arms ges away. I was planning on getting it when I go to work tomorrow, but today it feels like someone punched me in both arms!

The final distance of what I covered in the race has been posted: 63.89 miles. Still no official word on course record, but previous women's 12 hour road course record was 62.6 miles, so it looks like I got it.

Next year I'd like to go back there, if a 24 hour race makes sense for me at that time. I've found another gem...this race is awesome! The people make the difference too: the volunteers, the other runners, and the crews.

If I do come down for the 24 hour, I'll want to race it, so I will bring someone to crew for me, because it makes things go much more smoothly. I usually rely on only myself for these races, but I'm finding that as I move to shorter, faster races and run them more competitively, I will need to go back to having a crew person.

It's too easy to lose time when you're having to look for things and grab stuff. Even though I have almost perfected my table organization and wasted very little time at this race, when you're running for performance you need to make every second count. I think anyone crewing here would have a great time with all the other people, too.
The drive back was pretty. I love farmland, and I love the colors of the grass against the sky, especially this time of year with the light the way it is. Afternoons are awesome, as the sun begins to set earlier, so many opportunities for beautiful pictures. Here are a few I took on my way home yesterday:

It's cool and breezy this morning, sort of cloudy, and the trees have a lot fewer leaves on them than when I left. It's starting to look like winter around here, things don't start to get green again until April, 5 full months of winter away.

As I approached Denver on I-70, I could see a bank of clouds covering the Rocky Mountains and the trees were mostly bare.

For all my whining this year about the long hot summer, topped off by how cold I was this weekend at the race, I can't say I'm thrilled about the change of seasons, but I have to get in that mindset again. I'm just a big wimp when it comes to cold weather.

I do enjoy running in the snow, I like how quiet it is when there's a white blanket over everything. And now that the hot tub is fixed, I know I can always come home and get warm.

I plan to get out on my bike today while the weather is still warm, by Wednesday night I'll be at it again, I have my run with Wheaties Boy. This week probably won't be hard at all, as I'm recovering, but I'm hoping by next week to get back to it.

I have a slight change in plans for the end of the year, will be writing a post about that as soon as I dig my way out of my unpacking mess from the trip!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting Tall: 12 Hour Race at 24 The Hard Way

What was it that Steve Martin the comedian used to say about getting small? I did the opposite today. I got tall, by standing at the top of the podium.

The short version is: I am still waiting for official results for distance to be calculated by the race staff, but I can tell you what I know. I ran over 63 miles, and I'm guessing it was about 63.8 based on where I finished. They go out and measure the distance for your last partial lap.

I won the race overall. I was ahead of the second place finisher, also a woman, by about 8 miles. We chicked some ass!

And, I don't have the official word on this, I am just going by the stats listed on, but I believe I set a women's course record by about a mile. The old record was 62.6 miles.

So, all in all, a successful day.

I got decent sleep the night before the race, about 7 hours. In general I haven't slept so well on this trip. But I didn't feel sleepy when I woke up so it must have been enough. I did have a slight sore throat this morning, I wondered if it was just from the way I slept, or if it was the beginning of the crud that everyone else at work has been getting lately.

Later in the race I talked with another runner from Oklahoma and he said his allergies were terrible today, so I guess it could have been that. I guess I'll find out in the next day or two, if I am diseased.

It was absolutely FREEZING, especially for the first 5 hours of the race. We started in the dark at 6 am and the grass had a hard frost on it, we did luck out with no wind, which is a good thing because I was bundled up in 3 layers most of the day, I think adding more layers because of the wind would have slowed me down.

There were people out there in tank tops or shorts, and I was wearing my thick long sleeved PVHS foundation shirt, my fleece jacket from Across the Years, and my two layer fleece and windshell Hind jacket, plus thick gloves. I had my thickest tights on, plus my knee high calf compression sleeves on underneath. I finally got rid of the outer jacket around 11 am, but that was as far as I dared to strip. I think maybe it feels colder because of the humidity.

I went out there to run hard, and I knew I was risking blowing up. Instead, what happened was more like a slow leak than a blowout. I ran 17.5 laps in each of the first two 3 hour segments of the race, 15 laps in the third, and about 16.5 in the last 3 hours. So I didn't slow down all that much.

Each lap is about 0.96 miles. It's a certified course, all asphalt. There are three hills along the loop, and I walked these, or parts of them, in the middle of the race. They are short and not very steep. In the end when I was picking up the pace I ran them, and they aren't that bad. There's one big aid station tent where the chip timing mats are, and they had a display, like Across the Years timing system, where you can see each lap and the time, and your total distance and number of laps.

There were three portapotties fairly evenly spaced along the course, and they weren't occupied all the time. And there were flags from different states around the course, my favorite was the Arizona flag, which was about 1/8 of a mile from the timing mats, so it always gave me a little boost to kick it in to the aid station on each lap.

My hydration was perfect, I took 2 S caps per hour since I figured I'd be sweating a lot underneath my layers of clothing. I peed once an hour, and didn't have any blisters. I did get a little quad cramp in the last 2 miles but I was picking up the pace to about 8:30 miles, and it never got so bad I couldn't keep running. I did contribute nicely to my running bra scars, despite applying more aquaphor several times during the race. I felt that in the shower! Searing!

I said I wouldn't be satisfied with less than 100K, and I surpassed that, but not by much- less than 2 miles past it. But I really can't expect to be setting any PRs right now, I haven't trained for it and I am much slower now than I was in 1994. But I am happy that I ran hard and consistently. I didn't stop at all except for pee breaks. I grabbed things off the table, I had everything organized well so it was within reach, no stopping or searching necessary.

I have to admit I was getting a little disapppointed with my 50 mile split, but I got over it quickly. I'm just being impatient with myself. Again, I haven't trained to get faster at these distances yet. I went through just a hair over 50 miles in 9:18:45, and my 100K split was somewhere around 11:40-11:45. Not sure, because those points aren't marked. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe something with an 8 in front of it, I guess. I'm not there yet, but I'll get there, and get beyond that too.

Things were very well-organized. Chisholm, the race director, is getting married, right on the course, tomorrow afternoon. He is also running the 24 hour race right now. I guess he likes to stay busy. Congratulations, Chisholm.

I got to see Chisholm's dad, Harry. He happened to be standing next to my table when I came through on one of the laps. I hugged him, it was so good to see him, an old ultra icon from days past.

I also saw another superstar, Jack Christian, out there. He is a machine. I was running behind him, and we were running about the same pace for a while, and talked briefly, but he is in the 24 hour. I ran with Don Winkley for a while, and another runner, John Hargrove, who has been around ultras for years.

There was also a super fast runner in the 24 hour race, Jon Olsen, who ran 158 miles this past year as a national champion in the 24 hour. He kept lapping me, but was really nice and always said something encouraging every time.

I had to get a picture with Chisholm before I left. He said next year they will only have 24 hour race, and I'm seriously considering it. This was an awesome event. Everyone was so nice.

Actually my whole trip here has been amazing, everyone here, the hotel, in the restaurants, downtown at the memorial, every place I've been people have been great.

Including Dora in the 24 hour race, and her husband Ben, who helped me set up all my equipment on Friday, and dragged it back to the car for me after the race tonight. I appreciate that more than anything, trying to deal with stuff after the race is the hardest thing you do all race day.

I wore my smiley face earrings, that must be why I ran so well. They go well with my salt-crusted face.

It's time to recover and get some sleep, I have a long drive tomorrow. I feel pretty good after my shower and a huge piece of lasagna. I don't feel trashed at all. We'll see what an 11 hour drive will do to that tomorrow.

One more thing though...I didn't break the rules for driving on this one, because I ran 12 hours and the drive was only 11 hours.

Drink a beer for me when you read this, I'm too tired!

Friday, October 26, 2012

24 The Hard Way 12 Hour Race: Course Preview

Tonight I went over to the pre-race dinner and packet pickup at 24 The Hard Way. The wind was still howling, but the course is sheltered from the wind well enough that it's not going to be as much of a factor as it would be in the open. It did warm up somewhat this afternoon, into the low 50s, with winds at 20 mph.

I saw Chisholm and he greeted me and thanked me for coming to his race. He told me about the course direction- clockwise, and suggested some areas to set up my table. I chose a spot next to another tent and just past a portapotty. I set up my little table there with the cooler. Chisholm said they have security out there during the night so people are setting up their tents and race gear the night before.

That was awesome, I didn't expect to have that option, and it will buy me an extra half hour of sleep in the morning. Awesome!

Also this nice couple, Dora and Ben, from Oklahoma, helped me carry my table, crate, chair, and cooler to my spot, which happened to be right next to their tent. They offered to put my stuff inside their tent overnight but I didn't have anything I felt needed to stay indoors.

I began a tour of the 1 mile loop course. It's well-marked, easy to figure out, and there are mile markers every quarter mile, but facing away from the direction you run, so that will help. The loop is technically 0.96 miles, it's a certified course on asphalt. There are several races simultaneously going on. There's a trail loop, and the road loop, and on both loops there are 12 and 24 hour races going on, plus a relay. You choose your surface and your fixed time to run. Nice options to have.

There is a big tent with the aid station and shelter, plus the timing station. And there are portapotties about every quarter mile along the course.

I like the surface. It's asphalt, and it's well-worn, but smooth. I love loop courses, too.

Arizona flag.

The loop runs through the aid station.

At the dinner, which was lasagna and cheese tortellini, both of which were good, I sat and talked with runners from South Africa, Belgium, Canada, California, and Connecticut. Actually the South African and Belgian runners were both transplants and live here now. Most of the runners are from Texas and Oklahoma, but there were a lot of other places represented. Good job, Chisholm. Word gets around.

The star-studded table behind us consisted of two of my long-time running heroes, Don Winkley and Mary Ann Miller, both accomplished multiday runners in their 70s. They've been at it for a long time and still going. Both are about the same age, 74 and 75 (or so).

After all that, I was ready to go back to my room and relax. The race gets my preliminary seal of approval, the "This course is MINE" smile.

I can't wait to get started!


Woke up way too early again this morning. I sat in the room and had coffee, then decided to get going on my day.

I got dressed, went outside to the car, and realized I was going to freeze my appendages off if I stayed dressed the way I was. I can describe the weather in Oklahoma City in two four letter words: Cold. Wind. I went back up to the room and put a couple more layers on, and then I was ready.

A few items on the agenda, first was to see the Oklahoma City Memorial and museum downtown, then to the race site to check it out, and then to Whole Foods to get a few things to eat for today and after the race in case I'm too trashed to go anywhere when I'm done.

The race site is only about a 5 minute drive from the hotel, and I turned off the highway to go there first since it was on the way downtown. There was a guy setting up some big tents near the parking lot, and I asked him if he was there for the race. He said yes. I asked him if that was where the staging area would be, I was trying to scope out where I'd set up my table in the morning. He said that would be where the finish line was.

Something didn't seem right. I asked him where the chip timing mats would be, and he looked at me sort of funny. He said, it's not being chip timed. I asked him if that was where the runners would come through on each loop and he said, "There's only one loop." Then I asked him which race he was talking about.

"The Zombie Dash 5K."

It was freezing, 36 degrees with a killer stiff wind, at least 15 mph. I decided to wait until tonight for the race packet pickup, to figure it all out. I couldn't even feel my hands after standing out there for just 5 minutes. I started counting the number of pairs of gloves I packed, in my head, wondering if I would need more...

I headed downtown and found the memorial no problem. Oklahoma City has a complicated freeway system but things are well-marked and easy to find. I found a place to park and went into the museum. It's on 3 separate floors. They start you up on the 3rd floor and you walk through all these displays of the events leading up to that morning.

Then they send you into a room where you hear a recording of the sounds of that morning's bomb blast, and then they flash the faces of all the people who died on a screen. Then you walk into the rest of the museum, that takes you through the subsequent events of that day and the weeks, months and years after.

It was really powerful, is all I can say. It's very moving, and it's really hard to see and hear the stories of the people involved in the rescue efforts and the people who lost children, and the way they have arranged the displays with twisted pieces of metal and broken bricks and concrete, and all the damage from the blast, tells different parts of the story from different perspectives. It's very thought-provoking and well-done.

It took me at least an hour to go through the inside of the museum, and you could easily spend a whole day looking at everything. Then I went outside to see the pool, the empty chairs, and the walls they've built with the times 9:01 and 9:03 on opposite ends of the pool. What can happen in the space between two minutes...

Definitely worth seeing at least once. I've included a lot of pictures here, they are pretty much self-explanatory so I won't say anything else.

Now I am eating a BIG salad and soup from Whole Foods and I plan to take a nap later after I get my stuff organized for the morning. I will go pick up my race packet at 4:30 this afternoon. It will be an early start, 6 am, and I need to get there by 5 to set up my table. If it's anything like it was this morning, I'll be bundled up like a snowman for the first half of the race, at least. I brought lots of clothes.

The sun doesn't come up until late, sunrise is something like 7:48 am! Just like Phoenix, at the western edge of the time zone, they get late mornings, but it will still be light when I finish. I'll have my headlamp and mini-Petzl light ready to go.

Tomorrow is Wheaties Boy's 35th birthday and my challenge is to get as close to doubling his age in miles as I can. I'm not going to be happy with less than 100K, that's for sure. Just how much more than that I can do is today's mystery, tomorrow's reality check. Old PR, set in 1994: 68.3 miles. I have no idea where that puts me today, and tomorrow my job is to find that out.

I plan to make it hurt.