Western States 100

Last month we went to the Western States 100 to crew and pace for Molly’s sister (Kerrie Bruxvoort – Team Salomon). The entire experience is amazing. This race has so much history yet most of the figures that made this rich history are still involved and visible. I have never been to a race where there is such a high level of respect for the entire event. The aid stations each have a rich history of their own, the crews have came to participate from around the world, and each of the runners is realizing a far fetched dream by participating.

Starting off the trip we were exhausted. Part of endurance racing is the packing, traveling, and gear involved to get to the starting line. Molly and I had volunteered at the open water swim on Thursday night and got a late start on packing our gear. Finally getting to bed at sometime between midnight and one AM we were up again at 4:00 to head to the airport. I must stop to say that the drive into Squaw Valley is beautiful and I would love to spend a few days exploring the area. Once we arrived at the race start we proceeded directly to the raffle tent to purchase tickets for an entry into the race next year. No luck in the raffle but I already have a qualifying run for the lottery this year and there will be more raffles. Temperatures were high and there was limited shade at the race briefing making for an uncomfortable group. Western States singles out the top qualifiers for the race and brings each up infront of the crowd and talks a little about each one. Very interesting to see these guys in civillian clothes. Gordy Ainsleigh the man that first attempted and completed the race gave a few words of inspiration. After the usual do this not that of race briefings we were off to connect with Kerrie and eat some pizza to fuel up for the race. Once we returned to the condo at about 5:00 we both fell asleep and slept until 4:30 the next morning.

The race start of the WS100 is a very interesting place there is so much pent up energy that it feels like the world might explode, but explode very slowly. Participants and their crews know they are going to be working for the next 15 to 30 hours to get to the finish line 100.2 miles away. Amazingly the shotgun blasts and these runners start sauntering up the mountain side and the crews head off to do various tasks. Some hurry to the next crew point to aid their runner, some go get their gear ready for the day, and some (us) go back to sleep knowing it is going to be a long night!!!

Molly and I slept as long as we dared then gathered and organized our gear and headed to get food and water supplies for the day. We had an awesome smorgasbord of fruits, hummus, veggies, and lunch meat to get us through the day. Once loaded up we headed off to the Michigan Bluff aid station to wait for our runner and hopefully get to see some of the early leaders come through. While waiting we met a guy who happend to be from Lincoln (small world) and chatted for a bit trying to find some shade. Side note – the hamburgers as Michigan Bluff are cooked on a home made steel griddle and are out of this world. After a bit of waiting Kerrie came through and we found out that she had bruised her ankle on a rock and her shoe had been hitting on it for quite some time. Medical staff at the aid station cut a section out of the shoe and sent her on her way. Physically she seemed to be in great shape and the pain may have helped her limit the effort she put out early in the race. With her on her way we raced off to Foresthill.

Parking at forest hill is a bit tricky, there is not much of a shoulder and not a lot of parking lots. We quickly found a spot and set up camp so I could start getting my gear and nutrition ready to start my pacing duties. Knowing that I could be running for the next 10 to 15 hours I was diligently taking my time to thoughtfully pick each piece of gear and nutrition that I may need and where it would be stored. While placing my nutrition in my shorts pocket and taking a test jog without shoes on, I happen to look up and see Kerrie about 100 yards away and moving fast. Uh Oh time to grab and go. Luckily the test jog was a success and all my gear was ready. Molly tended to Kerrie as I gathered my handhelds and laced up my shoes. Heading out of the Foresthill aid station we met up with one of Kerrie’s teammates and headed out of town.

The section of the race from Foresthill to Rucky Chucky is pretty much 16 miles of gradual downhill. It was all very runnable and had great views. Pacing for me is all about being steady, watching for trail markings, monitoring your runner, and being a source of positive motivation. So for the next 38 miles that exactly what I did. Western States trail is really easy to navigate, I only saw one turn where the marking was not great, but if you paid attention you still knew exactly where to go.

Not much to say about the experience on the trail. It is a great trail that is very runnable and seemed to be very pretty. I only had about an hour of sunlight to enjoy the views and they were majestic. From there is was one foot in front of the other on the path in front of me. A couple of points I do remember. Walking the couple of miles up the hill out of Rucky Chucky is a great place to recharge a little and get some good calories and hydration in.  The last mile leading up to Highway 49 crossing is a relentless climb that does not seem to have an end.  Best aid stations i have ever seen. I know I have said it about other runs and will say it again after Run Rabbit Run but you can always tell when the aid stations are being put together by runners.

Probably leaving out tons of info that I had intended to cover but time to get this post out there.

 

Photo Dump

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Plugging Away- an Update Post

The last time I had a blog I felt the need to always have beautifully crafted clever posts with nice pictures. This became overwhelming to me and I just stopped posting entirely. I wish I had kept up with that blog to have an even better record of my progress, but I don’t.

That’s what has happened for me here too. I want all of my posts to be awesome and in proper chronological order. But, I don’t have time for that. So instead of just posting what I can here and there, I haven’t been posting at all. I have this long list of posts I want to sit down and write, but it just isn’t going to happen.

So, in order to get myself caught up to where I can post about my somewhat mundane day to day life and training, here’s a dump of what we’ve been up to over the past couple of months:

Cade paced my sister for 38 miles at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Kerrie didn’t have the day she was hoping for (ankle injury early on slowed her down), but she still finished in under 24 hours. Awesome stuff.

We went for a trail run at my favorite place in the area- Hitchcock Nature Center. I forget I’m in Nebraska when I’m running out there. The trails are very challenging and very well maintained. It’s a great place to lose myself in nature and suffer while running (ok, hiking) up some super steep hills. I need more Hitchcock in my life.

We raced the Omaha Triathlon. Well, I raced the Omaha Triathlon. Cade and I are in charge of setting up the swim course before the race. We got to the race venue at o’dark thirty and put the buoys out with plenty of time to set up transition. One problem: Cade only had one cycling shoe in his transition bag. I was amused. He was not. I convinced him to do the swim anyway for practice. He swam and then ran all over the run course cheering and motivating our friends in the heat of the day. I had a pretty good race myself. I was pleased with my swim, surprised by my bike, and felt good about the run. I’m always slow on that course compared to other olympic distance races. It’s tough and hilly. I walked all of the hills on the run, but I was able to keep a better pace on the run overall. Progress. I didn’t quite beat last year’s time, but that’s ok.

We did a triple. Well, it was supposed to be a triple. A triple in our circle of triathlon friends is a bike run bike run bike run combo workout. I ended up doing a long kind of duathlon type thing- 48 miles on the bike, 13.1 miles running, and 22 miles on the bike. It was super duper windy and hot that day. That last 22 miles seemed like it took forever, but I did it and I’m stronger for it.

We traveled to Boulder, CO and raced the Boulder 70.3. The swim start was great. They are doing a rolling start now instead of just a mass start. This means that racers line up in order based upon their estimated swim time. I lined up in the 42-44 minute area. Cade lined up with me even though he thought he would be faster. It’s always nice to start races together. Our group went under the start line and as we were wading out into the water before the first dive and stroke, Cade said “Hey Molls, want to go for a swim?” I said “Hell yeah!” and off we went.

My swim was good. I felt comfortable the whole time and was just rocking along in my little rhythm. I was not stressed and not really putting out too much effort. I swam reasonably straight and didn’t have too much trouble with sighting or traffic. I looked at my watch as I ran over the timing mat and was pleased to see 40:30. Not too shabby! I went in knowing I would be happy with 45:00.

T1 was uneventful. I took a little bit of time to settle, get my shoes on, get my helmet, my sunglasses, my bike, and set off for the bike course.

At the beginning of the bike course I was wondering what the heck I was doing out there. I felt like I was riding through mud. It was a slight uphill until about mile 8 or so and I just could not get my legs. I decided not to push for fear of blowing myself up so I just slogged my way up the hill.

About mile 6 or so I got passed by my friend Michelle. She complimented me on my fast swim time and blew by me. She’s amazing on the bike.

About mile 7 I heard “MOLLSSSS!” It was Cade, behind me??!! That meant I beat him in the swim. That’s never happened before! He, too, complimented me on my swim, asked me how I was doing, and blew by me. Seeing him out on the course is one of my favorite things about racing.

After mile 9 or so the bike course got FUN. We had a sweet long winding downhill where I was averaging around 26 miles per hour. I finally got my legs back and was cranking away. The course was so beautiful and the terrain was just perfect- rolling hills. I loved it. I got three compliments from fellow racers on my bike- one from a dude. Yeah, my bike is pretty awesome.

The last 3 or 4 miles of the bike course were rough. There was a headwind and my low back was starting to bug me a bit pushing into the wind. I backed off my effort level and just rolled back to the park. I still managed to average around 18 mph for the 56 miles.

T2 was also uneventful. I grabbed my water bottle, got sunscreened by a volunteer, and set out on the run course.

Almost immediately my legs started cramping up. My right calf was a little crampy on the bike,  but it was no big deal. On the run it became a big deal. My calves cramped. My quads cramped. My hamstrings cramped. My shins cramped. I took salt tabs, I ate salty food, I drank water, I drank coke. Nothing was helping. I knew it was going to be a rough 13.1 miles. I roasted in the sun, but kept putting one foot in front of the other. I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t. I put ice in my bra and in my hat to stay cool. I was so happy to see my sister on the dam. I told her about my cramping and she told me to drink more and maybe try taking a couple of gels. I did and I felt better for a while. Then the cramps came back full force. At one point both of my legs seized up from the knee down and I couldn’t move. My friend Polly happened to be right there and she rubbed the cramps out so I could keep moving. I started counting steps to take my mind off the cramping- run 100 steps, walk 100 steps, run 100 steps, walk 100 steps. That worked for a while and got me closer to the finish line. I was not about to walk down the finish chute, so I ran and my legs started to seize up so I finished by doing a little limp shuffle run don’t fall down don’t stop move. It worked. I finished in 7:15. I was happy with that- especially since my run was not exactly stellar. Oh well, live to race another day.

Cade had trouble on the run too. It was really hot. He had a pretty good time overall though. Next time we can both do better. It’s a little hard to believe that was the first half ironman for both of us. We just went straight to the full ironman last year. We intended to do a half, but with Lucy being sick it just didn’t happen. Now we both have baseline times to strive to beat next time.

Boulder is an awesome venue for a race. I’ll definitely go back.

Which leads me to… We signed up for Boulder Ironman 2014. Yep, there’s another full ironman on the calendar. I’m super excited. Two full ironman races in less than one year? Yes, sir. I’m in.

We rode 61.5 miles with great friends on a Saturday. It was my friend Erin’s longest ride to date. She did awesome.

I did a night trail run. Cade was out of town. The Greater Omaha Area Trailrunnerz (GOATz) had an informal night trail run at Schramm Park. I went out for two loops for around 7 miles. It’s amazing how different the woods look by headlamp in the pitch dark night. I need a few more night runs to prep me for Run Rabbit Run.

I ran a loop at lake Cunningham. Lake Cunningham has some great horse trails that are also excellent running trails. I ran a loop with friends last weekend. Cade was still out of town. We ended up with about 8 miles on the trails.

We ran 9.6 miles on Tranquility Park Trails. We ran almost the entire tranquility trail system. There are two little loops in the middle of the park that we did not do. But, Cade ran with me the entire time and I was going fast enough that he wasn’t just bored to tears. That’s progress, folks.

I started eating Paleo again. I admit that I’m not 100% compliant. If I get too caught up with being compliant all the time it stresses me out. But, I know I feel much better if I eat paleo, so I’m making an effort to do it as much as I can. I’m feeling pretty good. I can tell I’m getting some good fat burning workouts in (as opposed to carb burning) and am seeing some changes in my body composition already.

I had an asthma attack. Well, I think so at least. I’ve been coughing all. the. time. lately. It’s not a productive cough or a normal allergy type cough- just a cough- and once it starts, I can’t stop. One night I was coughing and wheezing in between and just could not make it stop. I found the rescue inhaler I got a couple years ago and took two puffs. That ended the coughing. I went to see my Dr. friend the next day and he gave me a daily inhaler to test out for a couple of months. I’ve been on it for a week now and it seems to be helping. It tastes super nasty though. I don’t think I’m supposed to taste it. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

I built my bike! We broke our bikes down and packed them in Ruster Sports Hen House cases to go to Boulder. I finally built my bike after being home for two weeks. For shame. But it’s done now.

I’m running as much as I can. Run Rabbit Run 50 is coming up quick. Last year I dropped at Dumont Aid Station (2). This year I really want to finish. I have a plan. I’m going to run a minimum of 2 miles every day until close to the race. On top of that I’m going to run as much trail as I possibly can. I am going to do a long run each weekend that will be done by time on my feet. I don’t care how far I go or how fast I go or if I run or walk- I just have to keep going. This weekend I’m going to shoot for 4 hours. I’ll also throw in some hill repeats on trail on Sundays. I’ve already done more than I did to prepare for Run Rabbit last year (clearly a couple of 10K runs in triathlons were not enough…) so I think with this regime I should be able to muscle my way through the race. I want that finish line!!

I signed up for the GOATz 50K. The GOATz (irunwithgoats.com) host a 50K at lake cunningham. This will be the second year for the race. I was out of town for the race last year so didn’t get to experience it. This year, I’m in and I’m running. Yes, sir.

 

Whew. Ok, I’m sure there are some things that I’ve missed in there, but I think I got the highlights.

 

Here’s what I’ve done so far this week:

Sunday: 6.5 miles on trail at Cunningham. Soccer game.

Monday: Run 1 mile, core work on TRX, run 1 mile. Spin class + core. Softball game.

Tuesday: Spin class. Swim 3000 yards. (plan to trail run after work).

Western States 100- Crew Perspective

We got to experience the Western States 100 for the first time this year. We flew out of Omaha on Friday, June 28 early in the morning. After a quick stop in Dallas, we arrived in Reno, NV at around 10:00 a.m. The drive from Reno to Squaw Valley is absolutely beautiful. I would love to spend some time exploring the area.

Friday afternoon and evening was a bit of a blur. We bought raffle tickets in the hopes that Cade would get in to the race next year- no such luck. We found my sister and checked in to the condo. We sat baking in the super hot sun and listened to the pre-race meeting. We ate some delicious pizza. We talked race and crew strategy with Kerrie. And we fell asleep. At around 5pm. Seriously. We must have both been exhausted because we slept from 5pm until the next morning. It’s a good thing Cade set an alarm because we would have missed the start!

Kerrie was already gone when we got up so we rushed down to the start and tried to find her in the dark. We had no such luck. I did wish Nick Clark (awesome ultra runner from Fort Collins, CO) good luck. And we were standing right next to Timothy Olson as he gave his wife a hug before the race. The shotgun blasted at 5:00 am and off the runners went up the steep escarpment.

Our crew strategy was to watch the start and then go back and catch some more sleep. The plan was for there to be two crew cars so that no one person would have to be up all night. That plan changed when my sister’s husband stayed home and I was the only crew member left. I wanted to be able to be at every aid station, but I knew that it just wasn’t feasible and it could get dangerous for me to be too tired in the middle of the night by myself. So, we stuck with our original plan and went back to the condo to catch a few more hours of sleep.

We packed up, checked out of the condo, and went to the grocery store for some supplies before heading out to the first point where we would see our runner. It was a beautiful winding mountainous drive from Squaw Valley to Aubern. We kept an eye on the online tracker to see how she was doing and how fast she was running. She was up near the front of the women’s race in the morning so we knew we shouldn’t dawdle.

The first aid station we made it to was Michigan Bluff. That was over 50 miles in to to the race. There was very little shade available and it was hot hot hot. We found a spot under a little bush and set up camp to wait. and wait. and wait. We were there for about 4 hours waiting. It was pretty cool because we got to see all of the leaders come through the aid station. We saw Timothy Olson. Hal Koerner. Pam Smith. All of the leaders and eventual winners of the race.

We enjoyed the famous Western States burgers being sold at Michigan Bluff along with some cold fruit popsicles and lemonade. Finally Kerrie came into view. She was visibly limping… uh oh. She said she had bashed her ankle on a rock many miles ago and while it wasn’t painful to stand or run on, it was bumping against her shoe and that caused her to limp. She spent some time with the medical folks who eventually just cut her shoe down to keep it from bumping. It was worth a shot. We loaded her up with electrolyte pills, sprayed her with sunscreen, got fresh cold water, and sent her on her way.

We had to hurry a bit to the next aid station. We rode a very very very slow shuttle bus up and out of Michigan Bluff. I was thankful for the ride, but the man driving the bus was certainly in no hurry to get anywhere. The next aid station was only 5 or 6 miles of running and we had some driving to do on winding roads to get there so we needed to hurry it up.

We made it to the Forest Hill aid station with plenty of time. This was mile 62, where Cade would start pacing. Kerrie was now several hours behind her original projected time so we needed to make a few adjustments. I calculated the distance and estimated time to the next aid station and made the decision to give both Kerrie and Cade headlamps. I thought it would be dark by the time they got to the next crew point and I didn’t want them out there without lights. It seemed like we had plenty of time. Cade was getting some last minute calories in, getting sunscreen on, getting his water bottles ready- and then there she was. Cade didn’t even have his shoes on yet! Ack! She had sped up a bit. It worked out fine though. Cade threw his shoes on and off they went.

From that point on, I was on my own. I had to carry all of their stuff by myself. Navigate the mountain roads by myself. Keep myself entertained so I wouldn’t fall asleep… I drove to the parking area for the next crew point. It was just a trail head parking area on the side of the highway. The next crew station was the Rucky Chucky River Crossing. There was no driving down to the aid station. I waited around for a bit and then a shuttle came to pick me and a big group of others up and take us to the river. It was a river rafting bus. The drive down was a bit harrowing and I can see why they didn’t want people going down there. It was a rough rocky dirt road with tight turns and long drop offs. The temperature was cooling the closer we got to the river- a welcome feeling. Temperatures were out of control all day pushing 110 in the canyons. Apparently it was the second hottest Western States on record.

I made it down to the river crossing when it was still light out. There was a rope strung across the river and volunteers were standing in the water helping runners and pacers make their way across. It was quite the production. I spread out a towel and leaned against a rock next to the aid station tent where I settled in to wait. and wait. and wait.

and wait.

I saw some interesting things while I waited there. Hal Koerner, in second place when I saw him last, had dropped out of the race and was sitting in the medical tent. Apparently he had been having some trouble with his foot this year and it didn’t hold up. He and his pacer hung around for a while before finally walking off. I met a nice girl who was waiting for her brother in law (racer) and sister (pacer) to come in. We commiserated about waiting and worrying. Both of our runners were taking a very long time to get in. There was a girl (racer) who came into the aid station and was not doing so hot. She sat down in a chair near me and the aid station volunteers were talking to her. She didn’t want to eat or drink and she didn’t feel well. The convinced her to drink a bit of broth if for no other reason than to get her to vomit- maybe she would feel better. Well, vomit she did. A lot. Medical came over to check her out and were told that she was fine, just taking a little rest. She was finally convinced to at least cross the river and see how it goes. I don’t remember her name or number, but I can’t imagine that she finished. She was killing it all day up to that point too. I think the heat finally caught up to her.

Finally, Kerrie and Cade showed up. Good thing I gave them headlamps because it was pitch dark. Kerrie got her weight checked at medical (as all runners did) and then they made it over to the aid station. I talked to Cade and Kerrie wandered off. Cade was not happy. He said that she wasn’t eating or drinking enough and she wasn’t listening to him. She was wasting energy and starting to whine about her quads hurting. He was frustrated and told me to be ready to run with her at the next crew spot. I talked Kerrie into taking a few electrolyte pills before leaving the aid station. Someone tried to give her ibuprofen when she complained about her quads but thankfully Cade saw it and stopped it from happening. Taking ibuprofen in a situation like that when your body is so stressed and easily cause bad problems- like renal failure. No Ibuprofen! I followed them down the rocks to the edge of the river and watched them make their way across and start up the hill back into the darkness. A few minutes of excitement and I was alone again. Mile 78.

I made my way back to the river rafting shuttle and back to the rental car. The drive to the next crew station was a bit harrowing. It was late. I was tired. I was on a very very winding road. And, I wasn’t quite sure that I was on the right winding road. I made a right hand turn just guessing that it was where I needed to go. I drove a lot farther than I thought I needed to. Finally, I saw police cars and flashing lights- it was the highway 49 crossing. I found the aid station. I drove past it to the designated parking area. Once I got there I calculated time and thought I would have plenty of time to catch a quick nap in the car. I set my phone alarm for 45 minutes and was out quickly.

I woke up disoriented. I gathered all of my things and made sure I had what I needed to run the last 7 miles with her. It felt strangely chilly out even though it was still in the 80s at around 1:00 am. I got on yet another shuttle bus for the short ride down to the aid station. Once there, I laid out my towel to wait. and wait. and wait. I ended up laying down with my sweatshirt hood over my head and my hands tucked under my body to stay warm. I think I fell asleep for a while. They were calling out numbers of approaching runners a few minutes before they would arrive. Finally I heard the number I was listening for and I popped up and hurried over to the lighted area just as they were crossing the highway. Both of them were in good spirits. Cade said she was eating better and they were in a good rhythm. He was going to keep running. I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t be running, but also a little relieved. I was tired and cold and they would hopefully be done soon. Mile 93.

Once again I gathered up all of the gear and walked back to wait for the shuttle. I got back to the car and realized I left the windows wide open while I was gone. Nothing was missing, thankfully. I drove that dark winding road back towards Aubern and headed to Placer High School where the finish line was set up. I found a great parking spot right next to the Placer High track and walked towards the lights. I’ve seen pictures and video of the finish line, but to actually be there was pretty spectacular. It gave me a new sense of energy and a feeling of excitement.

Runners are only allowed one pacer at a time starting at mile 62 of the race. But, after the last aid station with a little over one mile to go, anyone can run along. I set off into the darkness to find the last aid station so that I could run in with them. It was still around 80 degrees and it was now about 4:00 a.m. I was so excited to find the aid station that I was still wearing my sweatshirt- great for standing still but hot to run in- and I didn’t grab my headlamp. I really had no idea where I was going so I was just wandering around in the dark. I would wait to see headlamps bobbing down the street and then I knew I was going in the right direction. At one point I thought about how strange it was to be wandering around, alone, on the streets of a strange town in California at 4:00 a.m. In any other circumstances that would be considered so dangerous! But, there I was.

Finally I came upon a group of people. They were sitting outside their house which was adorned with tons of christmas lights. They were playing music and having a great time. I asked them where the aid station was and they pointed me down a big hill- about 1/4 mile further. I made it down to the aid station and sat on a rock. It was chilly there and I was suddenly glad I had my sweatshirt. I was only there for maybe 5 minutes before I heard Kerrie’s number called. She was ready to be done. Her quads were shot. She could move uphill pretty well, but the downhills were painful. We power walked back up the hill and by the happy christmas light people. We wandered through the neighborhood. At that point there was only one small incline and then a steady easy downhill to the track and the finish line. We ran the last 3/4 mile or so slow and steady. The announcer’s voice came into ear shot. Then we could see the stadium lights. And then, we were there at the entrance to the track. Cade Kerrie and I ran the 300 meters or so around the track as the announcer gave the crowd some information about Kerrie. Cade and I peeled off into the pacer and crew lane as Kerrie crossed the finish line. Her teammate was there waiting for her after finishing hours earlier. I think we were all happy to have reached the finish line at about 4:30 a.m.

We hung around for a bit and then made it to our hotel about 20 minutes away. Sleep. Finally. And a shower. That felt heavenly. We all slept and then made it back up to the track in time for the awards ceremony where Kerrie got her under 24 hour belt buckle. The rest of the day on Sunday we spent eating mexican food, taking a dip in the pool, taking a quick run to REI, napping, going out for a nice dinner, and sleeping. We got up early on Monday and flew out of Sacramento to make our way home.

Western States is an amazing race. I hope to be there with Cade someday so that he can realize his dream of racing. And I hope to be a strong enough runner by that time to be able to pace him and experience it alongside him. It will happen. It’s just a matter of time.

At the start:

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A little medical humor at Michigan Bluffs:

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Forest Hill:

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Rucky Chucky:

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Finish!

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Race Report: Dizzy Goat 6 Hour Run

On June 22, 2013 I ran in the Dizzy Goat 3, 6, and 12 hour trail race. I signed up for the 6 hour.

I arrived at Schramm State Park around noon for my 1:00 p.m. start. Cade was already there volunteering. He was out there for 12 hours volunteering, what a trooper!

I set up my chair in a shady spot and started getting myself together. I put my shoes on, lubed up to prevent chafing, ate a few pre-race snacks, filled my amphipod hand held water bottle, and meandered over to check in. At check in I was given a pink bracelet for the first lap. There was a short pre-race briefing and we were on our way.

The Dizzy Goat was a series of 3.25 mile loops. Odd numbered loops were clockwise and even numbered loops were counter clockwise. The pink bracelet was to remind me to follow pink flags for the odd laps. I was given a green bracelet to wear for every odd lap. Nice touch, GOATZ.

I took off jogging easily with the other 6 hour starters. My shoe came untied so I stopped and then was pretty much alone in the back. That’s ok, that’s where I usually am.

Cade was positioned about 1/2 mile from the start/finish where the runners split left for odd loops and right for even loops. He gave me a quick “yahoo!” and off I trotted into the woods.

Lap One- I LOVE TRAIL RUNNING!

I hadn’t run trails at all this year prior to the race. Lap one reminded me how much love trail running. I love the trees,the undulating terrain, jumping over logs, skipping down hills, walking up hills. I got to the end of the lap, switched out my bracelet, and ate some tasty treats at the aid station. I think I had a pickle and some potato chips.

Lap Two- Huh, this seems mostly downhill…

There was one huge hill that we went up on the green laps. It is lovingly referred to as “what the hill??” I saw people walking down it backwards several times throughout the day. It is really steep! This lap I was looking for landmarks- bridge 1, bridge 2, suspension bridge, water stop, tall grass… I felt good. This lap was easy. It seemed mostly downhill.

Lap 3- Where did all of this uphill come from?!?

Lap three was challenging. I could remember landmarks, but it just seemed to take forever. My feet were starting to get a bit stiff. I walked a lot.

Lap – Ugh…why am I doing this? I’m melting!!

It was hot. Really hot. I ditched my shirt at some point. I started putting ice in my bra at every opportunity. And in my hat. I started drinking Sprite at the aid station for the extra calories. I sat for a bit and ate gummy bears and goldfish. I definitely liked the green loops more than the pink loops. I was happy to have more downhill and for some reason the loops seemed shorter.

Lap 5- This is pretty awesome!

I really was enjoying the concept of the race. Even though I’m not super speedy, I was never alone. There were always people coming and going from each direction. I said and heard “good job” more that day than any other day for sure. By lap 5 I knew the landmarks of the course and could look forward to the next one coming and it seemed to go by quickly.

Lap 6- almost done!

I knew that if I pushed it I could get in 7 laps… but I decided I was plenty happy with 6. I took my time and enjoyed the last lap. I kept filling my bra with ice to stay cool. I jumped over the last log, went down the final hill to where Cade was stationed and ran down the finish chute. I got cheers from the GOATz as I came in and collected my medal.

I completed 6 laps or 19.5 miles. Not too shabby!

After I cooled down a bit and changed into dry clothes I ate some pizza and drank some beer- the perfect post race delight.

I loved this race. It was well organized. The volunteers rocked. The aid station was well stocked. The water stop was well placed on the course and had plenty of ice.

I will definitely do this one again!

My chair station:

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Looking from my chair towards the aid station:

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My Super Cool Dizzy Goat medal:

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New Gear from UltrAspire

I love getting new gear. I also love getting packages in the mail. Today was a double whammy because I got a package full of new gear!

I’ve been wanting a new pack to run and race with. I love my Ultimate Direction Wink (mine is a few years old and they look updated now), but I want something a bit more streamlined and minimal. Cade loves his UltrAspire pack so that’s where I decided to turn and look for something new.

UltrAspire is a pretty cool company. From what I understand, the guy that owns it (or is otherwise involved) has developed products for Nathan and for Ultimate Direction. It seems that his years of development has culminated in a pretty great product line with UltrAspire.

When Cade ordered his pack last year, the company representatives went out of their way to find him what he wanted even though it was on backorder. Pretty awesome. On this order I put a note that we wanted the items in time for Western States and I got an email the next morning that everything had already shipped. Excellent customer service and turnaround time.

I thought I ordered the package to be delivered to my office, so I was super pumped to see a box on my deck when I got home early this afternoon.

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I opened the box to see this:

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So excited!!

We ordered quite a few things. Cade ordered two extra bottles to fit in his running pack. He has the 2012 Kinetic pack so he ordered two more of the Human 20F bottles.

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I ordered a bit more…

First, before I continue, here’s a cute picture of one of our dogs, Dweasel. She’s helping me type on the deck.

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I drink a lot of water when I run. In the summer, no matter how short the run, I will carry at least a hand-held water bottle. I bought an Isomeric Race 20 for short runs and races. I usually carry a hand-held in triathlons so I can drink on demand instead of waiting for an aid station. This bottle has no pouches to carry food, just a strap that doubles as a sweat wiper.

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I also bought an Isomeric Magnon Handheld. This one I will use for slightly longer efforts- probably between 3-8 miles. It has a pocket to stash some food as well as a sweat proof pocket with a magnetic closure specifically for carrying electrolyte capsules like Endurolytes or Salt Sticks. The magnetic pocket looks pretty cool. I’m interested to see how user friendly it is.

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And last, but certainly not least, I bought an Alpha Race Vest. This thing looks so awesome. It came folded up so tiny!

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I opened it up and am in love already. It is super lightweight and made of a mesh type fabric. I don’t think it will be particularly hot. It has several different pockets in the front including a sweat proof magnetic pocket for electrolytes just like the hand-held I bought. The sides are made of a stretchy mesh and have a little pocket on each side that would be perfect for nutrition wrappers.

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The back has a pocket for a 2 Liter bladder (included) as well as stretchy cords for securing a jacket on the outside of the pack. There’s also a pouch pocket that can be accessed from either side- without taking the pack off! Both ends of the pouch are secured by magnets so I won’t have to worry about things falling out. This is perfect for stashing gloves or a headlamp.

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I’m so excited about this pack. I’m going to have to hide it so it doesn’t go… missing. Cade has already asked me if he can wear it at Western States this weekend. Maybe I’ll let him if he’s especially nice to me, but I get to try it first!

I can’t wait to try out my new gear. I just don’t know which thing to try first!

Logan was “helping” on the deck too.

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* I am in no way affiliated with UltrAspire and I purchased all of these items. However, if UltrAspire thought it appropriate to send me something in the future, I certainly wouldn’t say no!

Swim Improvement

Last night we had another open water swim courtesy of Race Omaha at Lake Cunningham. It was super windy so setting the buoys out was a bit of a challenge. Thankfully it was just a practice swim so the distance didn’t have to be spot on like race day. Cade and I set up a course that was roughly 750 meters. The water temperature according to the fish finder was about 77-78 degrees.

Cade didn’t swim this week because he just got a new tattoo. He’s supposed to let it heal before swimming so he’s taking a little two week break.

I decided to do a longer swim this week so when I was heading out I told Cade I would do two or three laps before coming in. I wore my long sleeve wetsuit even though the water was a bit warm. I would’ve worn my sleeveless suit but didn’t bring it with me.

I started after everyone else so on my first lap I was passing a lot of people that were taking it easy and getting acclimated. There were a lot of people new to swimming open water.

I remembered to use my Foggle wipe in my goggles so they didn’t fog up so bad this time. That stuff is great. You can get it in Omaha from Janet at Running with Scissors by Janet.

I felt very smooth and relaxed. I was concentrating on keeping my body long, rotating my hips, sighting in a rhythm, using my entire arm pull, and enjoying myself. I had a little problem with phlegm in my throat and coughing underwater, but that’s pretty normal for me. I should probably go back to the doctor and get another prescription for an albuterol inhaler. That does seem to help.

I hit the lap button on my Garmin 910xt each time I completed a lap. I got a little glimpse at my time and was happy to see that my pace was pretty consistent.

Nearing the end of lap two I saw a dude go by in a red kayak. It wast hard for me to tell that it was Cade. He followed me around in the kayak for laps three and four just watching me paddle along. He told me afterwards that I looked pretty good. There was one length of the last lap where he said my form got a bit messy but when I rounded the next buoy I pulled it back together and looked great going in. Little did he know that during that length I took in a big mouthful of water and spent the next couple hundred yards trying burp and cough it up. When I rounded the final buoy I decided to pick up the pace a bit to see how it felt.

I was shocked when I stood up and looked at my watch.

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Holy cow that’s crazy fast for me! 3177 yards averaging 1:34 pace? My fastest 100 yards in a pool ever is 1:35. That is amazing. I was glad that I hit the lap button so I could see my average pace throughout.

Lap 1:

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Lap 2:

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Lap 3:

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Lap 4:

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Needless to say, I’m very happy with my swim. Just for fun, I did a little math. If I could keep that pace up for another 1000 yards or so (which I felt I easily could), that would knock 20 minutes off my Ironman swim time. What? That’s so crazy!

Race Report Topeka Tinman

I took some time to think about how my day went at the Topeka Tinman last Saturday.

Short story, it was a hot day and I suffered right from the start. My paces were much slower than I would have liked but it ended up being a good training day.

Now for the long story. The drive to Topeka is nice and I made it in plenty of time for packet pick up. When I arrived the temperature was about 95 degrees and humidity was high. The original plan was to camp at the race site but with the heat I decided to break down and get a hotel room. Pizza for dinner and I was off to the hotel. I laid out my race needs for the day, filled my water bottles, and changed the tires on my bike. Got in bed around 10:00 PM and while I did not sleep great, it was sufficient.

Up and off to the race site at 5:30. One of the first to arrive I found my spot in transition and got most of my stuff ready, checked out my bike, and settled in for the 7:50 start. Watching the waves that went before me, I had figured out that there was a good place to line up on the right side where I could take a nice wide path to the first buoy. At the horn I jumped in and pushed to the first turn with the leaders of my wave. Once I made the turn my race started to unravel. For reasons I still don’t quite understand my form fell apart and I really started wasting energy. Compounding the wasted energy I also had decided to take advantage of the buoyancy and wear my wetsuit even though the water temp was 76. About halfway through the swim I realized what was going on but did not understand just how bad I had fallen apart and that I had started to overheat. I focused on ten strokes between sightings, a nice easy long stroke, and trying to get my kick going. Attempting to limit the affect the swim would have on the rest of my day, I set out distance goals with breaststroke breaks but I never fully relaxed and swam like I am capable of. 2:00 per 100m pace is way slower than the effort I put into that swim.

Trying to run up the beach was the absolute worst I have ever felt coming out of the water. I literally walked about half of the way up the hill because my legs were so tired. Even at IronmanAZ ,sick with the stomach flu, I came out of the water smiling and gave a thumbs up to my friends. Saturday there would have been no thumbs ups! Quick transition and off on the bike. I was really looking forward to the bike ride, first race on my new Quintana Roo CD0.1. This bike is a small rocketship that has produced some moments of sheer speed on the few training rides we have done this spring. Highlight of the day was getting my shoes on while riding without incident. Try as I might there was no power coming from my legs. Every trick was implemented, higher cadence, sitting up, stopping to check my back wheel. Nothing worked because I was plain old tuckered out. Again the theme was set small goals, pick up some speed when my body would allow and granny gear up the hills. Complicating matters, my nutrition had fallen off my bike and I only took in about 100 calories during the ride.

Overheating is one of the most horrible feelings ever! Somewhere in the middle of the bike I noticed the tell tale slight headache that means I am overheating. A little squirt of water on my head and I felt a lot better. Most of the ride I kept thinking about getting to the run. If I could just get there I could run easy and still feel good about my finish. Coming into transition, I slipped off my cycling shoes, dismounted, and had a really quick turn. Another highlight of the day. Running out of transition I heard one of the volunteers tell me how good I was doing and I had the quick thought of “if you only knew”.

I decided to head out on the run at 7:00 minute pace to gauge how I was feeling and thought I could cruise there or drop it down a little if I started feeling better. About 1 mile in and I really started feeling cooked. Knowing that pacing duties at Western States were only two weeks away I decided that every time I got goose bumps I would walk until they went away then pick it back up again. So that meant about .9 of a mile at 7:30 pace with a .1 mile walk and repeat.

All in all it was a tough day for everyone. I could have done better, but I also could have called it a day. I’m happy with a 6th place age group finish and am looking forward to the next race.

Things are still running through my mind about that swim. I really think I was carrying a lot of tension from my lower back to my feet. During the bike my lower back was aching (not normal) and I think I was clenching it during the swim while flexing my legs trying to kick. Oh well I am going to take a little two week break from swimming and see if I can reset a little.

Shout out to Topeka Tinman for putting on a quality event. Highlights include a sweet bike course, tough run, and great volunteers- especially at the water stations on the run. The only negative was that they did not check bikes out of transition.

Western States 100

Next week Cade and I will make the trek to California for the Western States 100. We are crewing and Cade is pacing for my sister, Kerrie Bruxvoort.

Western States 100 is the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultra running race in the world. Originally, it was an all terrain endurance horse race. But when Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse came up lame before the event one year he decided to attempt the course on his own two feet. He made the cutoff time running with the horses that year. The next year more runners showed up and eventually, the horses were pushed out and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run was born.

Western States is a point to point course starting in Squaw Valley, CA and ending on a high school track in Aubern, CA. The terrain and elevation changes at the race are amazing.

Cade has a dream to run Western States someday, but it is not an easy race to get in to. Hopefuls have to have a qualifying time at certain races in order to be put into a lottery. Then, only a few lucky lottery members actually get chosen. Cade got his qualifying time for next year at the Ouachita Trail 50 earlier this spring. This year he will have one entry in the lottery. If he is not chosen and runs another qualifying time next year, he will have two entries. And so on and so forth until he is chosen to run.

Some people, like my sister, are just super fast and get in to the race by other means. Kerrie got in by winning 2nd place at the 2012 Run Rabbit Run 50, part of the Montrail Ultra Cup. The top two men and women from any race in the Montrail Ultra Cup get an automatic entry into Western States.

irunfar.com released their 2013 Western States women’s race preview today. Kerrie is listed as someone to watch for a potential top 5 finish. Pretty cool that my big sis is such a big deal these days. Read more about the Western States 100 women’s field here: irunfar

What a Difference!

What a difference a tune up makes!

I’ve been really fighting on the bike this spring (Quintana Roo Dulce, 2011). While I can normally roll along pushing pretty big gears and carrying some speed, I just haven’t had it lately. My bike time at the Omaha Women’s Triathlon was not good. People were dropping me left and right and I just couldn’t hang. I thought it was all of the cookies and cupcakes and off-time over the winter…

Turns out it was only partially the cookies and cupcakes and off-time. I took my bike in for a tune up this weekend at Greenstreet Cycles. She got a new chain (mine was apparently way stretched out), a new bottom bracket (mine was all gunked up), cables were adjusted, cassette was cleaned, and everything was all spiffed up.

I took her for a spin last night. WOW! We’re back! I had been so frustrated riding that I just didn’t even want to do it. But last night, I got that feeling back. I was riding on roads that I was struggling to push 15mph just last week and cruising 18-20mph no problem. I was hammering into a pretty good headwind still averaging almost 18mph. I flew up a long hill dumping a friend who had seriously dumped me just a couple weeks ago. Man, that felt good.

We ended up riding just under 30 miles. I can’t wait to go again. What a relief.