I’ve put off writing this post for so long, because as we all know, sometimes it’s hard to put crazy experiences into words. It’s no secret that home girl has some serious love for Leadville. The town itself has its own quaint little charm, and what surrounds it is truly majestic. My introduction to ultra running started here, and my interest in ultra running essentially grew here as well. There will always be a special place in my heart for Leadville!
The week of June 8th I was finally given the “OK, GO!” to start incorporating speed work back into my training at 50-60% percent effort depending on how things felt. Once I was finally cleared to gradually start running again after my ski injury, I was mainly running for distance and doing a bunch of hiking at a decent effort. What does one do when they get cleared for some speed work? Get stoked, and say “YES” when the topic of toeing a line comes up in conversation for that same weekend.. as you do.
Well, hello there friends. I keep promising that I’ll post more often, or delete this thing entirely, and I can’t seem to commit to either of them. I renewed the blog for another year, so please enjoy your quarterly update…
In case you missed it… let me bring you up to speed….
I was dying to get back out there sooner than later and waiting another 1.5 months for another crack at SOMETHING after my second DNF of the summer just seemed too far off to figure things out and “make it right.”
I knew Mt. Werner 50k in Steamboat was taking place two weeks after Silver Rush 50, and I figured it was time to get some things straight. Having run (and gotten completely spanked!) by this race last year I knew it’d be a good option for what I was looking for. Just some freaggin peace of mind that I’m capable of running these distances I train for, but that maybe I need to either A.) take it down a notch with the high altitude races or B.) get higher up earlier in the year.
A few days before Mt. Werner I attended the weekly Runners Roost run club in Denver. Mike Aish was speaking after the run and he said something that REALLY stuck with me…
“If you’re not afraid to fail, & you can get up & get back out there, that’s the best thing you can have as a runner.”
My chest got tight, my eyes stung a little and that was all I needed to hear.
I ended up coming down with a summer cold and a fever two days before the race. Luckily my fever was gone by Friday and any symptoms I had were from the neck up – which is clear to run in my book! After what was probably my most INSANE work week since being back in Denver, the trek up to Steamboat was made after work on Friday. Rolled into town around 10:30pm and stayed at the Grand which is within walking distance to the start. I laid everything out (which is something I haven’t done in a while) including my breakfast, and timed it so that I was able to get up, scarf down some breakfast and go back to sleep for an hour before getting dressed and walking over to the race start.
The scene at the start line this year was quite a bit different than last year. Well.. for starters.. there was actually a starting line this year. It was also VERY clear this was going to be a much different race this year. The women’s field was STACKED with strong runners this year and I knew right away my 3rd place AG award on a rough day from last year was a complete joke. (No really. It was. The gal who ended up taking 3rd in the open AG this year ran over 2 HOURS faster than I did last year.)
Before the start I was able to catch up with some Runners Roost teammates and some of my favorite trail running gal pals, which is always so great! It takes the edge off, and there is just something about getting to enjoy the same day on the trails with your friends and people you look up to that is just awesome!
Anyways.. so about this 50k…
If you aren’t familiar with Mt. Werner 50k it’s a wonderful race put on by the Steamboat Springs Running Series. It starts at the base at roughly 6,896 ft. Right off the bat you’re greeted with a 9.5 mile climb to the top of Mt. Werner to 10,200 ft. Once there it “rolls” along Mountain View Trail until you hit the turn around at Long Lake. From there you run back along Mountain View and then back down the mountain. According to my data it’s about 6,252 ft of vertical.
This year they had Tailwind Nutrition on course, which ended up being great for me. The day before I had a much needed crash course in nutrition at higher altitudes from an old friend. He suggested that liquid calories in frequent small amounts would be much more beneficial for me. With that, I decided to ditch what I had been doing in Leadville and just go for something new. I had experimented with Tailwind a little this spring and wasn’t against it, but wasn’t entirely sure I could solely rely on it for 50k. To me it was worth shot, because heaven forbid if I had to throw up one more GU….
So, everyone is lined up and the race starts…
Right off the bat I get passed, but my legs felt great and the gear I had felt justtt right. I sip away on my Tailwind, let the music on my iPod flow and get lost in the beauty of Mt. Werner. The wildflowers were absolutely stunning. My ascent up the mountain was 9 minutes faster than the year before.
Once to Storm Peak, I’m tempted to let the legs loose as I knew the course would start rolling. I chose to hold back. I knew that even though it was tempting to let it rip, I knew I still had a 9 mile descent that I had NO legs left for last year. This year was going to be different. All I wanted was to finish and feel good – I didn’t care what the clock said.
Photo cred: Joel Reichenberger
One of the many things I love about this course is the out and back along Mountain View. It’s so awesome getting to see the top runners on their way back or any people you happen to know. I was feeling great and getting pretty close to the turnaround on a downhill section. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but the next thing I knew my entire body was flying through the air. When I hit the ground I hit HARD with my left knee taking the brunt of the fall. Easily ranked as one of the top 2 most painful spills I’ve taken. The wind was knocked out of me, but I still managed to let the most atrocious sound escape my mouth. It was a mix between a scream and a muted moan. Whatever it was, was enough to startle the runner just ahead of me. He immediately rushed over to make sure I was okay. I thanked him and reached for his hand so I could stand and he suggested maybe I take a moment to sit and make sure everything was okay. I insisted to immediately stand, hobbled until I could walk and walked for a minute until I could run. I knew that if I sat there it was going to sink in and hurt more.
Once at the turn around I grabbed a piece of fruit and recognized a local Steamboat trail runner, Will. I congratulated him on his recent Hard Rock 100 finish and out of the aide station and on my way back I was. The way back along Mountain View was pretty uneventful. The legs still felt great, but at one point I noticed I was starting to feel a little low and spacey as it was getting hotter. I made a mental note to grab some Coke at the Storm Peak aide station.
At Storm Peak, I grabbed some Coke and started my way down the mountain. I noticed that my legs and everything in general felt INFINITELY better than they did the year before, but holy thundercats was it HOT. The miles ticked right on by and I thanked myself for taking it easy on Mountain View, as my legs felt fantastic on the descent. The only thing that caught me off guard were a few heart palpitations on some short uphill (and typically runnable) sections. I’m not sure what was causing it – heat? altitude? but I opted to power hike instead of run those sections. With about two miles to go it was getting insanely hot. There was a water stop about 2 miles from the finish. I knew I had enough Tailwind to finish the race. I topped off one of my 10 oz bottles of Tailwind and proceeded to dump it on myself. It was much colder than I expected and very much welcomed. I made the descent down the mountain 30 minutes faster than the year before. With a mile to go I knew I FINALLY had a day that I was proud of this summer and happy with. I’m usually a finish line crier – but I couldn’t help but just smile this time. Redemption feels so, so good…
I finished the day with no tears, no puke, minimal blood and quite a bit of sweat. I ran a course PR of 39 minutes, and while I didn’t place this year, I’m so lucky to have the privilege to continually toe the line with such strong and inspiring women…
Cassie Scallon, Cara Marrs, Anna Moseley, some crazy tall girl & Anita Ortiz
Huge shout to my girl, Rachel, on finishing her first ultra marathon! She crushed it!
Those are our “it’s really damn hot and someone should feed us” faces.
I really love this race and hope that next years race schedule allows me to come back!
AM I REALLY REPEATING THIS SHIT?!
Here I am. After having a month to process what didn’t happen this summer. Process = hike/run/pace/race whenever and whatever I want. It’s been fun. That probably won’t serve me well for the 100k (I’m laughing at that thought – are you?) that’s a few weeks out, but entirely necessary.
Part of me wants to share my experience, but what’s the point? Listing what went wrong ultimately feels like a bunch of excuses as to why things didn’t go as I’d hoped and makes me feel like I’m not being accountable for my own failure. Not sure when I decided a medical pull was an excuse… but clearly I did something wrong (or should have prepared better) that put me in that situation.
So, let’s recap what I learned this summer while attempting to race in Leadville…
1) No longer living at higher altitudes (Steamboat) means that I HAVE to get higher. I was already spending 3 out of 4 weekends a month in the high country once the snow melted and that wasn’t enough. I know where I need to go from here with that information.
2) At high altitudes my body can’t break down, digest or absorb gels/calories. I was lucky to discover during my “post failure process” that liquid calories are the only thing that works for me at high altitudes. Thank you sweet baby Jesus for Tailwind Nutrition. My nutrition that worked well for me last summer at 10,000+ ft definitely no longer works for me… as I’m sure most of the participants at Silver Rush 50 and a handful from Leadville Trail Marathon could tell you that as well.
3) Take your fucking jacket.
Really… that’s it. It feels so stupid that all of these things seem so simple.
Anyways, moving forward…
Oh man. Well here I am. 5 days out from Silver Rush 50 and surprisingly there aren’t a million thoughts rushing through my brain like there were last year at my first 50 mile attempt at Mt. Hood 50 in Oregon. I was signed up for Silver Rush 50 2 summers ago and wasn’t able to start due to injury that kept me out of running entirely for a couple of months. 3rd time’s the charm?
I find myself kind of wanting to spill my guts a little beforehand. You know, in case I die at attempting to finish this thing. A friend asked me if I was ready for the race this weekend, and that was the first time this summer a light bulb went off in my head and I realized… OH YEA! I guess this is a race, huh?
To be entirely honest about Mt. Hood 50 last summer, I felt like I could not have asked for a more solid training cycle and some pretty great (for me) races going into it. I even have the weekly training recaps like a good little running blogger. With those things I also went into Mt. Hood 50 with a race mentality. It wasn’t about just finishing… I wanted to finish and I wanted to do WELL. I went out eager and pretty aggressive – which I felt was an effort I was more than capable of that day. Unfortunately, when I discovered early on at Mt. Hood 50 that I was having a bad day and felt like I had about 10 rugs pulled out from under me – I lost my shit and mentally checked out. “No thanks. I worked too hard to settle for a crappy day and a horrible first 50 mile experience. Not interested.” Say or think what you will, but that’s the story. Sure, you could say mentally I got a little cocky and it came back to slap me in my face. To this day I still have no regrets about dropping. My finish line was just 28 miles that day, and that’s okay. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone and don’t need an ACTUAL finish line anymore to feel good about myself OR let not making it to an actual finish line let me feel bad about myself. No, that last (most likely run-on) sentence isn’t meant to sound pretentious or imply that I call it quits, don’t know “how to embrace the suck.” or is even against those who choose to stick it out when having a horrible, no good, very bad day. It’s just who I am. The sun will rise again, and there will be another race.
Want to know what the best part of that race was? My Uncle Sam standing there at mile 28 to greet me with the words, “You’re f&@#&ing crazy, you know that – right? Let’s go get some grub.”
Well golly, that’s a whole lot of words letting you know how I ultimately feel about what happened a year ago.
So let me just set the scene for you going into Silver Rush this year. It is ENTIRELY different than it was last summer.
I haven’t had the best races this summer.
I haven’t been obsessively updating my blog with training, gear and fuel updates.
My training started strong and fizzled like someone threw a bucket of water over a fire thanks to some personal issues that came up.
Luckily, I had a moment of clarity long enough to finally do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and hired a coach. I’ve only been working with her for 2 months and I feel like ultimately she salvaged my training and has been getting me back on track. I’m so grateful for her and the guidance she provides. More on that topic later…
What I’m trying to get at… I don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday AND THAT IS GREAT. I guess I know a few things. I know that I LOVE running in Leadville and I plan on running there for at least 1/2 a day this weekend. I know that keeping my calories, electrolytes and fluids separate works best for me. I know that taking music along as an option if I need it is pretty helpful. I know that I WILL bring a jacket because Colorado weather is crazy. I know that there will be friends, Runners Roost teammates and my dog Oliver at a couple of the aide stations. So really.. what else do I need to know?!
Some people I know create race day mantras for themselves. The one I’ve decided one probably isn’t inspiring to most, but I like it.
“You’re f&#ing crazy, you know that – right?”
I think everyone has to get a little crazy to get these things done.
Can’t wait to see ya, Leadville!
If you have been reading (or still read – hello? anyone out there?) this blog, it’s no secret that the ONLY 10k I run each year is the Bolder Boulder. In all honesty, “racing” the 10k distance SUCKS (in my opinion). There are quite a few reasons I run this race. The main reason being that it exceeds its title as “America’s all-time best 10k”. The crowd support is stellar, it’s the largest and most organized race I’ve ever run, you’ll bump into a jillion other runners that you know and there is vodka, belly dancers, slip&slides, beer and cupcakes on course if that sort of thing interests you. Basically, this race rules. I’m sure I could find a faster course to make my 10k time a bit more impressive, but what’s the fun in that?! Also read as: only running the most badass 10k once a year is enough for me!
After a short warm up, I made my way over to the AB corral where I met up with Rebekah! Let it be known that she was actually supposed to start in the AA corral, but they ran out of AA bibs and they bumped her back to AB.(JUST BRAGGIN ‘BOUT YA GURL!)
Looking back, I ultimately felt there were a few sections of the race where I could have definitely pushed harder. At the finish line I was able to collect myself much quicker than years prior, so I don’t exactly feel like I put in 110%. My splits reflected the course elevation profile, and
funny lame(?) enough mile 4 and 6 were the exact same pace as they were last year. I’ve negative split this course before and that’s something I’m hoping to do again next year (if I remember I said that). Anyways, as I catch myself comparing splits and typing this out, it reminds me of what I don’t love about road racing… the overanalyzing.. MOVING ALONG…
44:21 was my official finish time. Giving me a 54 second PR.
Even though I’m not in love with over analyzing splits, I do enjoy being able to look back and measure the progress I’ve made since moving to Colorado…2011 – 56:21 – 9:05 pace 2012 – 49:09 – 7:55 pace 2013 – 45:15 – 7:16 pace 2014 – 44:21 – 7:08 pace
After making my way through the finish I met up with some Runners Roost teammates and Rebekah.
This was the first year that I stuck around to watch the elite race – which was pretty awesome to see!
Do you have a race distance that you only run once a year?
I was hoping to do this race last year, but it fell on the same weekend as Bolder Boulder. However, this year they moved the race and I was able to run both! The race is in Gunnison, CO with a starting elevation of 7,700 ft. The course rotates each year and is primarily on single track with the occasional cut across slick rock towards the end. The total elevation gain in the 25k is roughly around 2,300 ft and measured about 16.7 miles by my watch. There was a big ol’ swing in temperature (that’s Colorado for ya!) from the start to the time I finished. I was moving around like I had ants in my pants at the start to keep warm in 32 degrees and when I finished it was about 70 degrees, feeling especially warm since the whole course is exposed and provides no tree cover.
Anyways, going into this race I didn’t particularly have any goals in mind. I just wanted to run as best as I could that day and hope that I did well. This race easily goes down as one of the coolest racing experiences I’ve had so far. A few minutes before the start I realized that Stevie Kremer was also running and I couldn’t help but think how INSANELY AWESOME it was to be at the same start line of such a distinguished and talented trail runner. Cue the stars that filled my eyes!
When the race started I knew it was important to break away as much as possible to avoid getting stuck. The 25k and the 50k have the same start and the single track starts almost immediately up a climb. I felt really good from the start and once to the top of the first climb I found myself behind a single file pack of people. It was like this for a little while and felt a bit “crowded” to me, but I’m also the type that likes to race alone and be surrounded by nobody the majority of the time.
I suppose feeling a little crowded had me a bit nervous (weird, I know) and I found myself tripping over the smallest things and rolling ankles. Eventually, the single file pack of people in front of me broke off for the 50k. Since I wasn’t around anybody I decided to plug in the tunes. I was still feeling some nerves, but managed to get it out of my system by taking a final trip and supermanning it. I laid there for a split second and observed that the mouth piece to my handheld was now covered in sand/dirt. It was then that the Foo Fighters “Best of You” came on, and having chatted briefly during the days leading up to the race about a few things, it immediately made me think of Ash! I tried to imagine her saying something inspirational if she were there and all I could put together was, “Bitch, just RUN!” Hahaha! But seriously.
After that it was pretty much smooth sailing. With the nerves gone I was finally able to zone out, enjoy the trail and take in the new-to-me scenery of Gunnison. I did what I could on the course and took mental notes on the areas that I felt could use the most improving. Apparently tying an effective double knot with my shoelaces is one of those areas. I’m not really sure how my fueling went? Knowing me, it was probably horrific, but since it was only 25k I was probably able to get away with it. One of these days I’ll get back in the habit of recapping races right after they happen so I’ll remember a few more details.
I finished the race with a smile the size of Texas and ran well enough for 3rd female that day taking home my first cash prize. Granted, it was a small race, but never in a million years did I imagine I’d take 3rd in a race where Stevie Kremer took 1st!
There were a few friends at the finish line and I was SO happy to see them. Even though they were telling me I got 3rd I didn’t believe them until awards (surely they miscounted!), but was excited all the same!
Oliver trying to adopt himself out to Kylee
Overall, it was a really fun day and I thought the race was great and well organized. I definitely wouldn’t mind going out for this one again!
It appears as though I’ve fallen off the blogging band wagon, again. Granted I was only writing about monthly goals and race recaps. Life happened. Shit got real & blogging wasn’t really a priority, but I’m back now.
I didn’t want to play “catch up” on the blog, but it seems as though that is how this is going to go. I’ve regretted not recapping a few races in the past so I’m trying not to do that this year. Even when the going gets tough ; )
Fair warning – there’s nothing great about this recap and it’s a smidge negative, but I guess this is how I ultimately feel about it if I still feel the same over a month later!
At the end of April I ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 5k. For me, that race was miserable and I didn’t enjoy a thing about it. Cold, rainy & let’s not forget to mention the head wind that didn’t quit. On top of the weather, I was not in it mentally by any means of the imagination and nothing felt good. Not that 5k’s are supposed to feel good. I felt mentally weak and that pissed me off.
The only part of the race that I seemed to feel okay was during the first 30 seconds and things just kind of unraveled from there. I guess being ticked about my mental weakness kind of worked to my advantage at the end because in the final stretch I head a spectator yell, “GET HER!” as I ran by headed towards the finish. There wasn’t another female within striking distance and I realized I was the one being chased down. I did the “look back” move and didn’t have to turn my head too far to see someone coming up behind me pretty quick. Even though I felt defeated, I was annoyed enough to give someone else something to chase with a surprisingly strong kick that resulted in my strongest finish to date with the last .16 miles coming in at a 5:48 pace.
Far from running a great race, but I still managed to run my second fastest 5k in 21: 46 and placed 1st in my age group.
As a side note: my experience at the Cherry Creek Sneak had NOTHING to do with the race itself. I ran the 10 miler a few years back and it was all glitter, sunshine & unicorns. This event is actually very well done and if you’re looking for a (usually) fast spring race in the 5k, 5 mile or 10 mile distance, this is it!
Bad races happen, but on to the good ones!