Monday, July 28, 2008


Well, I did it, finally. After last year's injury 6 weeks before the race and this year's pre-boston marathon injury, I made it not only to the START line of WR50 but also to the FINISH line. There are 2 things I thought about before the race. 1) Expect the unexpected and 2) Embrace the unexpected. The night before the race at the pasta dinner, Glenn looked over at me as Scott was going over the aid stations and more course info and said "you look nervous". I said, " I AM, but also excited". Then Glenn said something to me that carried through the race, he said, "tomorrow you are going to learn so much". And he was right, I did.
I didn't get much sleep the night before and was wide awake at 3 AM. I finally got out of bed at 4 AM and tried to eat, drink and stretch. My folks and I left Crystal Mountain at 5:45 AM and headed to the start. About half way there, ( only a 15 minute drive), a sudden surge of nervousness hit me. More so than I had felt the night before, but I decided to use that energy to think about finishing the race and having fun. As soon as we pulled into Buck Creek starting area, I checked in and looked for Glenn. I could not start the race without seeing him. He is the one who has given me the most confidence and training experience to start and finish WR. So, I found him and we talked and then I headed to the start. My parents were there and they would be my crew people for the long day. I was trying not to look nervous when they took my photo at the start, but I don't know how well I masked it.
There were several other peeps there who were running this race as their first 50-miler as well, so we bonded in the brief moments before the start. As Scott, (RD) was giving us the last minute details, I decided to just take in the whole thing and have fun, do the best I could; there was no turning back now. Then bam-we started. And off we went! My nerves went away...and I ran and ran and ran.

I got to the first aid station in 35 minutes and didn't need anything so I kept running up to Ranger Creek. At Ranger Creek there was water only and I filled up. The volunteers had camped overnight there. They spent hours carrying gallons of water up the 12 miles on the trail for the runners to fill up. What awesome people to do such a thing! I was running with about 4 people who were also doing their first 50-miler and so we chatted a bit here and there and the next thing I know....I'm at Corral Pass already, mile 16.9. On the way to Corral Pass, the faster runners were already making their way back to Ranger Creek. It was so impressive to see how fast these people were running. It was also inspiring to become a better runner. I ate and drank a bit at Corral Pass aid station and was off back to Ranger Creek with my iPOD playing some great music. I saw Glenn and it looked like he was having a fun time taking photos. (like this one).I got to Ranger Creek and was feeling great. From Ranger Creek, mile 22, to Buck Creek, mile 27.2, it's literally all down hill. I thought I'd be a little conservative here as to baby my leg and if all went well, I could maybe make up some time on the last 13 miles. I long descent is beautiful and fun. It's a bunch of switchbacks with small creeks and a waterfall and the sun was dancing through the trees. I made it to Buck Creek and re-fueled. I had planned what I thought I would need at each aid station and crew access spot. Here, I thought I would need another bottle of water and one of Cliff drink. And some Red Bull. My parents had been waiting for me to arrive and had everything ready for me, but I was finding my actually needs might be different from my presumed needs. I took some sips of Red Bull and then added the rest to my bottle of Cliff. My legs still felt pretty good. I headed to the Suntop trail and began the 8+ mile climb. This is where things started to become a struggle. I had envisioned that the last 13 miles, in particular the last 6.5, would be the most difficult and this is where I envisioned I would struggle most mentally. HOWEVER, I was wrong. As I started climbed up to Suntop, I became so nauseous and so tired and so out of breath when just walking. Every time I thought about drinking any Cliff, my stomach just turned. Every time I thought about eating something, my stomach turned. Every time I thought about running the runnable parts, my body was telling me NO. But each runnable section I would run and I thought, hum, this doesn't feel so bad, and then I would stop to walk the steep parts and I would feel so sick and wobbly. I crossed paths with a mountain biker who was encouraging me and I had a brief conversation with him which I don't really remember. I thought my problem was that I didn't have enough water in me and that I had too much electrolyte. Surely this must of been it. So at the Fawn Ridge Aid station, mile 31, I asked for tums. They had reggae music playing and a hula theme going on, which I appreciated as I hadn't seen anyone for a while and I could not listen to my iPOD for some reason. I took some tums and then a sip of coke and thought, surely this will cure me. HOWEVER, it did not and I continued to struggle walking slower and slower and wondering how I would finish. I knew that I was in better shape than this, that I shouldn't feel like this because I was physically and mentally prepared. So I just kept trying to figure out what my body needed in order for it to do what I had been preparing it for. At one point while running, I got a cramp in my stomach. This rarely happens. I looked down at my fingers and they didn't even look like my own hands, my fingers were so puffy. OOOHHHHH, I bet I NEED salt! This must be it...I need salt. So I took one salt tab and things started feeling a bit better. Then I took another one right before I saw Glenn at the near top of Suntop, (he took this photo too). I was feeling somewhat better but I hadn't eaten in over 2 hours and I hadn't drank much either and I know that isn't such a good thing. When I reached Suntop, all I wanted was water and potato chips. I grabbed a handful and the very nice volunteers filled up my bottles with water and I was off down the long logging road. Within the first mile, I felt like a new person. My body was beginning to pick up and I didn't feel like I had a dark cloud looming above me or that I had weights on my ankles or a heart with only half of it's capacity. Some of the peeps that passed me on the uphill I passed on the downhill and I was feeling steady and strong. When I reached the final aid station, mile 44, (my lucky number!) my parents were there with what I had asked them to have ready for me, water in one bottle and Red Bull mixed with Cliff drink in the other. They were so sweet to have whatever I needed in the back of the car and so happy for me that I would finally finish this race I've had my heart set on for well over a year now. All I wanted was water. I still hadn't really eaten anything, although I was trying to, but at this point, I only had 6 miles left and I knew I would finish. Whatever it takes....
So, I checked in at the final aid station and ran that last 6 miles as strong as I could and as fast as I could. I had thought that I would be feeling so differently during this section but I think that the 9 miles spent trying to figure out what my body needed saved my legs some. Some of the people who passed me on the downhill I passed in this last section. So I just kept running from orange ribbon to orange ribbon and the next thing I know, I've made it to the finish. People were cheering and clapping for all the runners and it was overwhelming, yet welcomed at the same time, as I had just spent so much time in my own head. I was so happy to finish. Wow.

After about a half hour, Glenn took me to the river to soak my legs. I did NOT want to go b/c I was already cold. But I went. At first I was being whiny about getting in, then I was happy to sit there and recap the whole race to Glenn in the 15 minutes I soaked in the river.

So, I did learn quite a bit and I am looking forward to testing this new found knowledge in another 50-miler. I think the most important thing I learned was to be grateful to make it to the start line and the finish line and to accept that no matter what I think I need during an endurance event, those needs could change easily and experience will tell me how to take care of my body so I can let it do what I've trained it to do, hence, I don't control the race, it controls me and I work with that.
(photos-G. Tachiyama)
Special thanks to my folks for being there!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

37 hours to go

Well, in 48 hours, I'll probably be still running WR50. Having never run this far before, my mind has been going a little nuts. At times, I want to jump up and declare, "I'm Ready Now! Let's Get Started!" Then I think, "I am soooo relieved that I have a few more days before I do this..." Sometimes, I try to take a nap and I can't because my mind is going round and round with the things I need to do before I leave tomorrow, what the race with be like, how I will handle myself when I am feeling fatigued, etc. The mental preparation is harder than the physical preparation in some ways. Although there is an element of both in every step of training. But after reading a very funny posting by Kendra, I realize I am not alone!
So what have I been doing to keep myself relaxed? Well, my family has been here and we've been having fun doing a little of this and a little of that. We all went to the Sculpture Park and on our way, we passed Sushi Wave. My family's sense of humor is such that when they saw this sign, they all faced the restaurant and did the 'wave' as you might expect at a baseball game. Then they just stood in front of the sign and waved...

They have been a great distraction and great support.

Also, there were 3 birthday's in the month of July between all of us and so we went to Piecora's for pizza, beer and a birthday song with spumoni. Yum. It was a short visit with my brother and his family, but sweet. My brother is now training for a qualifying Boston Marathon time. Hopefully, we can go together in 2009, or was it 2010? At any rate, we will do it together. It was with him that I did my first marathon, and that was in 2007. After that, I caught the running bug and here I am headed to do WR50....WooHoo!

I'm wishing Struth could come with me to WR50, but it won't work out that way....although he'll be in GREAT hands with one of his favorite canine buddies, I will miss him. But I will remember him on the trail with me! (G. Tachiyama photo!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rachel Lake Wind-down

Yesterday Glenn, Struth and I went to Rachel Lake for a hike/run. We mostly hiked with intermittent stretches of running that felt great. I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't been to a single Alpine Lake all summer and then here we are, at an Alpine Lake. Great execution! WR50 is next Saturday so I am winding down on the mileage and activity in general and it is bizarre. I have spent more time on the couch with my feet up this week than I think I have all year, combined. My mind is still quite active, maybe even more so now that I am not tired after a long and/or hard run. But I have filled this time on the couch with catching up on New Yorker magazines and watching my favorite HBO series on DVD, The Wire. Also, my home is pretty clean!
I got up early yesterday to volunteer at the Fat Salmon Open Water Swim. I have done this race a few times, but this year I was solely a volunteer, body marking swimmers, some of which were first time racers and quite nervous and some veterans who just plain excited to get in the open water and race. I saw lots of friends and was glad to be involved even if not swimming this year. I was not feeling as I though I was bummed for not racing this year at FS, I was happy that I had a new goal to face the very next weekend.
After I left Madison Beach, Struth and I picked up Glenn and off we went to Rachel Lake. It was hot and sunny...just how I like it. I cherish these kinds of days. Our plan was to go to Rachel Lake, which is 4 miles up and then head up to Rampart Ridge and find the other lakes to gawk at. We headed up the trail and it was beautiful. There were lots of fast flowing ample streams, waterfalls and flowers. Since we were not really running, it was more of taking in the scenery and smelling the flowers than running through these parts and picking up scents and scenery at a faster pace. Also, the trail was pretty technical in parts and so simply walking and taking it easy was the mood I was in. I can sometimes be a little klutzy and I did not want to really take a lot of risks so close to the race. Plus Glenn is always there telling me to 'respect the distance' and with that, I fell I should hold back as next week, there will PLENTY of time to run, PLENTY. This did not slow Struth down, he had his usual pace, out like a bucking bronco! We meandered across boardwalks, crossed streams on logs, passed though a 25 foot waterfall and enjoyed the scenery. We did run in parts because it was simply, to hard to pass up. In parts, the trails were very narrow and the greens just high enough to make it seem like I was a kid running through a field, footloose and fancy free.

It seemed like in no time we were at Rachel Lake. Only 4 miles! No wonder. And it wasn't a grueling 4 miles like some other trails I know all too well. The lake was beautiful. It was full of greens and blues and it was pristine. And it was so quite, the kind of quite that you can't hear even if it is 3 Am and you are pleasantly awake in your bed and everyone else is sleeping. This kind of quite cannot be heard anywhere but in the serenity of nature. We stopped here to fuel. As usual, potatoes and peanut butter pretzels. Yum. And just for good measure, a dark chocolate snickers. Um, good.

From here, we headed up to Rampart Ridge. We made it up pretty high until we hit snow patches that covered the trail. Finding the continuing trail and thus finding the other lakes was like playing connect the dots.

We back tracked some just to find another part of the trail and found ourselves a bit at a loss as to where to go to next, as did all the other peeps we saw on the trail. We encounter patches of snow which means that Glenn was making snowballs, throwing them at me and blaming Struth again. But this time, I got Glenn back and what a shot I had, right in the ear! That has been the best shot so far. And just for saying that, I know I have one coming to me.

We did find fun, especially Struth. Struth played in all the little ponds and also thought he was king of the snow mound.

He even tried to push me down the snow mound to retain his own dog, trying to alpha me, what's up with that?

Although we didn't make it to the other lakes, the ponds were fun to roam around and Struth seemed to enjoy hunting rocks out of these ponds and bringing them to us. He did quite a bit of rock work. I was surprised that not only did he put his whole face in the water, but for how long he could hold his breath. he never ceases to amaze me. So after a bit a meandering through snow and walking from pond to pond, we decided to head back down and call it a day. We climbed back up to the ridge and had some more potatoes. Then descending down back though the technical parts, the waterfalls and the streams.

We did a little running, a little walking and a little sight seeing on the way down. At one point we stopped to eat a bit more and the spot we chose had a throne to sit in. Although admittedly, it was not all that comfortable. Once we got back to the car, we were commenting on how incredibly HOT the car was, an oven. Yuck. Then we decided to take a 20 minutes soak in the river. YOWZA! The water was even colder than the White River. It must have been about 30-35 degrees. At this point, we could hardly wait to get in toyota oven and warm up. I was so cold when I got out that the brain functions that connect with body movement were there, but my legs were unresponsive. I thought I might have to use my arms to physically move my legs. It took at solid 30 minutes to warm up in the car. However, it was refreshing and needed.Another fun day in the mountains running through the woods. Next weekend Struth won't be able to join us, but I know he will be there in spirit. I'll just have to take him back there!

A big thanks to Glenn for sharing all his experience and time with me, (and Struth!) to get me ready for WR. And for taking all these awesome photos! As usual, even though I borrowed one of Glenn's camera's, I used his photos because the simply are better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Struth's b-day

Yesterday was Struth's birthday...he turned 5. Someone gave him a peanut butter/chocolate cupcake with a portrait of him that he so thoughtfully gave to me as he knows I love pb/chocolate combo. It was delicious. Happy Birthday Struthie!
photos: who else, G. Tachiyama.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

White River "not a training run" run

Yesterday Glenn, Struth and I headed out to WR to do the first half of the race course. I knew it would be an amazing day because I already had on my sunglasses and it was not even 7 AM. Last week it was cloudy and cool and that certainly would not be the case this time. I was really looking forward to checking out the first 25 miles and just to be out there, in the mountains, running. I don't see a better way to spend a summer day. We dropped off water at Corral Pass and then headed to the parking lot. Here, we fueled up with water, bananas, gu and for Struth, biscuits. Both G and I were prepared with lots of biscuits for Struth. I am quite sure be burns more calories then we do as he runs more miles and probably a lot harder than we do. Plus is weighs considerably less. The trail starts off in the forest with a super soft floor. It was cushy and I did not feel any of the pings I too often feel when I run on the dreaded road. The trail meanders through the woods, a few rollers, but mostly just big old trees and relatively cool temperatures.
It's noticeable how the temperature is much cooler in the presence of a stream or waterfall. The air was very refreshing. I knew I would crave these temperatures once the trail opened up. We reached trail 1198 and began to run and walk up the climb to what would eventually lead to Corral Pass. Again, need I say how absolutely serene it was running through this section. Trees providing shade with hints of sun trickling through the leaves. I found my bliss quite easily here. We continued up this section crossing streams and waterfalls. Struth had plenty of water in this section and since he never knows how far he's going or what his water situation will be, I made sure that he drank as much and as frequently as he could.

This part of the trail also was decorated with rock walls and wooden bridges and even a set of stairs. Glenn commented on how the first couple of WR races did not have stairs that these are a fairly recent installation. I'm happy with these stairs as they are pretty steep and without them I would surely be on all fours.

After a series of shaded rolling hills, we came to about 4 or so outcrops where the views were spectacular. With each outcrop, Mt. Rainer came more into view and down below, which seemed so far away, was the White River. It didn't seem as though we had climbed that high, but I realized a few hours later in my legs, that we had. Glenn and I and Struth stopped at one of them for a boiled salted potato break. After bringing these potatoes on the last run, I swear, I will not run long without them again. After these shady wooded paths that lead to the great views, we reached the clear cut area and things really opened up. The coveted cooler temperatures where now a thing of the past, it was open, hot and at times energy was hard to muster up, until we ate more potatoes. We got to the ranger hut and saw some mountain bikers. We saw a guy on a singe speed with no shocks cruising up the mountain. How impressive, a single speed! He thought we were bad asses, but I told him that riding, let alone maneuvering a single speed bike on these single tracks was as bad ass as I gets for me. Anyway....after the ranger hut we had a 5 mile out and back with pretty much to tree cover. At some of the high spots, we could really see the course, even though Glenn knows it like the back of his hand, it was new too me. At times we hit some snow patches and this is where Glenn has a serious advantage over me, not because he can run in the snow better or faster than me, but because he always insists on being behind me and therefore I cannot see when he is about to throw a snowball at me and then blame it on my poor dog. Now my dog can do a lot of things, but forming a snowball and hitting me with it is something I am hesitant to believe he is capable of...although Glenn insists he can. Yea, right. He blamed this on Struth. Can you believe that? Anyhow....this 5 mile out and back to Coral Pass was tough for me because my leg was starting to bother me and I decided to walk more than I normally would and I was concerned that my previous injury was creeping up on me. So, we walked some and ran some and stretched some and had fun. I stopped starting and stopping my watch to get a more accurate idea of how long this first loop would take me race day and what my HR might be, etc. We decided to just enjoy the day and not worry..... and as it turns out, not only did I find myself useful in holding up Mt. Rainer, but I also found a groovy part of glasses that I modeled.

We soon arrived at Coral Pass and filled our camel backs with the water we stashed and ate some more of everything. I was SO HUNGRY. I was craving a quesadilla. But I had to settle for peanut butter pretzels, more potatoes and ginger bears, which are Glenn's favorite I've come to learn. After fueling, we made our way back the 5 miles to the ranger hut, which in the race is mile 22....and an Aid Station. My leg was feeling a bit better so I could run a little more. Phew. At times I felt strong...and other times, I did not.....I think Glenn was feeling the same and I had to keep checking in with Struth to make sure he had everything and was feeling good and to give him some lovin' because he is an amazing companion on and off the trail.... We all were hanging in there and made it back to the ranger hut. We had about maybe 5 miles to run downhill and I know I was feeling it and I think Glenn was as well. Struth did not meander too far from us so that is usually a sign that he is tired. Chipmunks and little ground creatures no longer seemed fun to chase for him.
We encounter many trees that were down and we had to climb some of them rather precariously... thinking that on race day I would only be half way done and the fact that I was pretty tired did not give me lots of confidence, BUT, that is what a taper is designed I best be restin'.
We finally finished, YAY, and Struth layed in the dirt while we got ourselves together for a soak in the river. It felt way better than last week as this week we were HOT. Don't get me wrong, it was still frigid....but I was much happier that there was a sun spot to sit in while in the river.

I wish my camera had not broken because I would have loved to get this on digital....I finished soaking a few minutes earlier than Glenn. So I decided that Struth needed a soak as well. I brought him into the river and he was instantly rejuvenated, (until he got home) and wanted to play. He saw Glenn's red Brooks poking out of the water and thought they were play toys. He started trying to pull them with his teeth in hopes of trashing them around, throwing them up in the air and having a good time. What Struth did not realize is that they were attached to Glenn's feet and therefore, no matter how hard he tugged, he would never be able to play with one of his shoes in the river. It was hilarious. They day was very fun and this little incident was the icing on the cake...I HAVE to get another camera so I can seize the moment next time....
As usual, all the fabulous photos were taken by Glenn Tachiyama!