Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Craziness

Summer Craziness

At the start of summer, I signed up for my first 100 mile (running) race -- the Rio Del Lago 100 (RDL).  I spent June helping two friends in their 100 mile experiences (at Santa Barbara and Western States).  Both experiences were great and really made me itching to experience my own hundred adventure.  So, I signed up for RDL. 

Here are some recaps of the adventures through my summer 2013. . . 

Before I could really get started on my RDL training, I had to get through some other crazy things I had signed myself up. . . 

Death Ride: Tour of the California Alps 
(July 13, 2013)

Death Ride is a ride up in the Eastern Sierras.  It involves climbing 5 mountain passes (front and back side of Monitor, front and back side of Ebbetts, and then Carson) totaling 129(ish) miles for 15,000(ish) feet of climbing.  This year was my second time doing the Death Ride.  

For my second Death Ride, I ended up riding faster/stronger than the year prior, both on my climbs and my descents.  So, I was pleased with that.  I had many friends out doing the ride and saw many of them during the day, which makes it fun.  And, I was never too far behind Craig and got to see him at various rest stops and we finished together.  :)  

The Bad:
-When I got to the top of Carson pass, obviously tired but feeling accomplished, I rolled into the rest stop to get my fifth sticker.  The person marking the riders coming in says to me, "Did you really ride all five passes?"  And, I felt I was only asked this because I was a woman and not a man as I did not see her ask the other guy the same question.  I thought to myself Why would I be here, looking like crap, at the top of Carson if I hadn't ridden all five passes?!?   Other than me looking pretty tired and worn from riding 100+ miles and 5 mountain passes, one could also see that there are now five stickers on my bib.

-That same person gave me a Death Ride finisher's pin but said she'd put it in my jersey pocket for me.  The pin fell out at some point and I lost it.  :(

The Good:  
-So glad I started early (4 a.m.) so I was mostly ahead of the bulk of the crowds most of the day.  As I descended the front side of Ebbetts and saw the masses of cyclists climbing it, I was grateful I was ahead of the masses where it wasn't too crowded.    

-My new cycling shoes worked out pretty good.  In DR training, there were a couple rides where my feet burned and/or hurt so badly, I just took off my shoes and rode in my socks.  This did not happen at the Death Ride so I was pretty pleased with that.  

-Other than the one volunteer mentioned above, all the other volunteers at the Death Ride were fantastic, especially during the latter part of the ride.  I come into a rest stop and someone is right there to take my bike while I refill my bottle or grab a bite to eat.  It is one of the best supported rides I have ridden in.  

-Getting my five stickers (you get a sticker for each mountain pass you climb). Getting the five stickers again was just as satisfying as the first time.  And, the ice cream at the top of Carson (the last pass) tastes just as good as the last time!  ;-) 

-Seeing so many of my WAV girls out there at the Death Ride!  The number of women riders at the Death Ride is much much smaller than the number of men but it's nice to see the number of women growing, especially since these are women I helped and watched grow into the rock star cyclists that they are now.  They made me super proud!  

And though I lost my Death Ride finisher's pin, I did later get my Death Ride finisher's jersey. Not so sure I like the orange this year (I like last year's jersey a lot more!) but I do like the "Five Pass Finisher" part of it.  :)

La Sportiva Table Rock 27k
(July 21, 2013)

Kind of at the last minute, I decided to sign up for the Table Rock 27k.  It looked to a nice not-too-long trail run out by the Marin Headlands.  I had never run out in that area before and figured this race would be a good way to learn some of the trails out there.  

Some of my FTR friends joined me for this run.  It was a tough hilly run but some beautiful trails.  We climbed up near Mt. Tam and I could see beautiful ocean views.  Then, we'd run through some shady forest sections.  And, all of it just beautiful and fun to run on.  

I also tried running this race without my hydration pack.  Just a hand held bottle.  First time in awhile that I have tried racing (a trail race) without my pack.  And, it actually worked out fairly well.   

Finish time: 3:18:01.  Distance ended up being approximately 17 miles.  And, I really enjoyed racing that distance.  To do a race that didn't take the whole day but long enough to give you a good workout was kind of nice to do.  

(July 27, 2013)

Vineman is a full distance triathlon out in Sonoma County.  Same distance as Ironman, though not an official Ironman-sanctioned event.  But, it's 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling, and 26.2 miles running.  

I had been talked into signing up for Vineman at the end of last year.  After a hard time at the Napa Hits Triathlon, I wasn't too keen on doing another full distance triathlon but I had signed up so why not.  Though, I did not really do any triathlon-focused training, I know I have my running endurance.  I think I am better fit on the bike than I was for Napa.  But, I had not really been swimming prior to the event so that had me really anxious.  I never really feel like much of a triathlete.  I think I am more of a runner who can sometimes meander her way through a triathlon from time to time.  And, that's what I did at Vineman.  

The Swim 

The swim was in the Russian River.  And, my swim went surprisingly.  The water was the perfect temperature.  Not too cold.  And, there were some shallow sections where I could just stand up and walk.  That gave me a nice break from the swimming especially at moments where I would get knocked around by other swimmers.  I think knowing the river was shallow helped ease my anxieties so I was able to swim more relaxed.  And with swimming, I think being more relaxed helped me swim faster.  Swimming is by far my weakest sport and I was still towards the back of the pack in the swim, but I felt much better about the swim than I did in Napa.  And, I did end up swimming faster than I did in Napa.  

The Bike

The bike ride started in Guernville and went around Sonoma County, past some vineyards, and ended in Windsor.  It was some gentle rolling hills and one big hill called Chalk hill.  

I tried to push myself hard on the bike and I did pretty well.  I had no cramping issues and felt strong on the climbs.  I think it helped I had done Death Ride just two weeks prior.  It helped that it was overcast at the start of my ride and did not get too hot into the afternoon.  The countryside was beautiful.  Some of the roads were a little rough but manageable.  I was more than happy to have ridden as well as I did and gained a lot of time on the bike.  

The Run

The run is three out-and-backs.  Yes, I said THREE out and backs on rolling hills.   The run starts at Windsor High School and goes out four and some odd miles.  Then, you come back near the finish and have to go back out again.  And, then another time.  

The first 1/3 of my run was okay but I started having blistering issues in my feet so I changed out of my cycling socks (which I should have done earlier) and into a fresh pair of running socks.  On the second 1/3 of my run, I started getting stomach issues causing me to stop a lot.  Luckily, there were port-a-potties approximately every mile or so.  

When I came in after the second out-and-back, it was hard to run by the finish line and know I had to do that one more time.  I started walking a lot more.  My stomach was getting worse.  I was feeling light headed.  I kicked myself for slipping on my nutrition.  I was doing so well in staying on top of things earlier on the bike but then I slipped up on the run and I was suffering the consequences.  

When I finally hit the turnaround for the last time, I started picking things up as the sun was starting to set and knew I did not have too much daylight left and I had no headlamp on me.  So, I tried to push myself as best as I could.  It was dark when I hit the last aid station but from there, the street was more lit up so I managed to run a solid last mile to finish.  I am Vine-Woman!  

And, I finished in 14:40:14.  A 2+ hour PR!  So, I was really happy about that!  My brother and mom were out to see my finish.  It is rare my family sees me in my crazy events so that was nice.  :)

I will add that I was really impressed with the support at Vineman. The volunteers throughout the day were awesome.   From the guys that helped take off my wet suit to those to held out bottles of water and gatorade for me on the bike to all those working the many aid stations on the run, they were really great in trying to take care of the athletes and being so enthusiastic.  Having great support really helps me have a great race experience.  

And, I'd give much thanks to all my friends who sent me supportive messages throughout the day!  

And with Death Ride and Vineman finally over with, I turned my attention to training for Rio Del Lago. . . .

Run on the Sly
(August 18, 2013)

Run on the Sly is a trail race that starts at Fresh Pond (off of Highway 50) and runs along Jenkison Lake.  I signed up for the 20 miler.  I had done the 20 miler the past two years too.  Sly was my first trail race a couple years ago and the race that got me interested about ultra racing.  

The Bad:
-Experienced some not so good chafing between my legs.  May consider different racing shorts in the future.  

The Good:
-got a course PR.  beat my time from two years ago.  Finish time: 3:54:35

-doing a race with a lot of friends makes it a lot more fun.  saw many friends before, during, and after the race.  hanging out afterwards and watching the 50k finishers was a ton of fun!  

-Had my first Monsters of Massage appointment with Tom a couple days prior to the race.  And,   whatever Tom did to me was good as I raced fairly well and my quads did not feel as badly thrashed as they did in prior years.  And, I was walking around fairly well after the race.  

Santa Rosa Marathon
(August 25, 2013)

I had signed up for the Santa Rosa Marathon some time ago.  I had thought about trying for the BQ but I hadn't really put in the speed work or the road training to really go for it.  So, I decided I'd just run it and see where it got me.  A little later, a bunch of the FTR gals signed up for the race too so we ended up having a nice girl's trip out to Santa Rosa for the race.  We did a little wine tasting the day before.  Traveling with the girls to this marathon made it a really fun marathon weekend.  There were a lot of laughs and fun memories.  As for the race, it was tough and hillier than expected.  But, I managed to squeak in a new marathon PR.  


The Bad:
-I ran the first part maybe a bit too fast so struggled at the end.  I tore up my calves pounding the pavement as hard as I did.  (Fortunately, Tom at Monsters of Massage fixed me up a few days after).  

-The course was not as flat as it was advertised to be.  The steady little grade of uphill from 20 to the end were brutal.  Though not the biggest of hills but when you're running that fast and hard, those little hills are killers at 20-something miles into a marathon.

-After the marathon, my legs and feet cramped really badly when I was in the porta-potty.  I got stuck there for awhile waiting for the cramping in my legs and feet to pass.   

The Good:
-The race jacket they gave us is pretty nice.  Nice to have something different, other than a race shirt.  (the finisher's medal is HUGE though...not sure if that's good or bad).

-Towards the end of the race, I am giving all I got left and a pacer is nearby me and helps urge me on the last half mile.  She had slowed to run alongside me and she really pushed me to that finish line telling to "keep going, you're almost there, "keep pushing," and "finish strong."  I don't even know this woman but she was out there helping runners and I was grateful as I credit my PR to her pushing me at the end.  I was able to thank her after I finished.  

-All the moments I was hanging with the FTR girls was the tasting, our pre-race dinner, cheering each other, the post-race car ride home, all the laughs, etc... best ever!  ;-)

Finish time: 3:48:19.  I barely beat my Napa Marathon time but I did.  I had to push hard for that PR but happy I got it.  I was hoping for sub 3:45 but given the course was harder than expected, I am happy enough with the PR.  

And, I was hoping that the marathon would be a good base for me to build up to my 100 miler.  

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