Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Joys of Recovery!

Pre Cascade Crest:

Post Cascade Crest:

Yikes! Amazingly, my feet did not hurt during Cascade Crest. Well, other than how one might expect feet would feel after running on the for 25 hours and covering 100 miles, tired, ready to be let out of my trail shoes and be soaked in some cold water. I am lucky I didn't have substantial blisters or severe foot pain. That being said, the state of my feet and ankles less than 24 hours after the race was absolutely incredible. Everyone said my feet would swell, but in all honesty, I didn't think they would be that bad and for days on end. I don't think they went back to "normal" for almost 4 days.
Another interesting sensation that I had was the inability to feel comfortable sitting or standing for any period of time. I thought I'd just want to sit down or lay down for days. But, in reality, going from sitting to standing was difficult because I was wobbly. Once stabilized on my feet, I couldn't stay standing for too long before I had to sit back down. Then after a short period of time, I'd have to stand again. Repeat endlessly for 2 days. I also thought sleeping would not be a problem as I had missed I don't sound all whiney and unappreciative of being able to start and finish Cascade Crest. I would not trade any of the discomfort I felt while recovering. It is all part of the experience and all part of the run.
It has taken me longer to recover from Cascade Crest than any other race, of course, and since it was my "A" race, I have really enjoyed relaxing and hanging out and not doing all that much with regards to running and training. My parents whisked me off to Leavenworth right after the race and that was awesome. We hung out and ate bratwurst, drank beer and ate ice cream, found a swimming hole to soak in and then took naps on the shore. It was so relaxing and just what I needed to kick start my recovery. They went back to North Carolina and I had to return to work and normal life. But without all the running, I found the time to try new recipes, clean up my house, spend time reading and sleeping in. Oh....it has been so lovely.
Owen and I had planned to go away for the weekend and NOT bring our running shoes. We did manage to take a trip to Whidbey Island to visit some friends but we did bring our running shoes, I just couldn't help it, I love running. So off we went to Whidbey Island to relax with the dogs, friends, meet new friends and enjoy having to plans and flying by the seat of our pants.

We stopped off at Double Bluff Beach and took the dogs. They ran and swam and ran and swam and barked and chased birds.

We also went for a canoe ride with Anne, Shamus and Eric and then had dinner on the beach. Shamus is about the cutest kid I have ever met. It was fun spending time with him.

We also visited the house of other friends who have beautiful art studios, horses, beautiful gardens and many many motorcycles. It was awesome to do different things and be around so many creative people. One of Owen's friends made us Cascade Crest awards. I was so touched to get this really cool piece of art as an award! It has a little "100" in it and on the back it says my name and time, how thoughtful! I met some really fun and creative people throughout the weekend. Eric had a BBQ and I had a great time hanging out with the kids, the dogs and the adults while eating good food. If only Struth would have stayed out of the fish pond!

Tomorrow is Cle ELum 50k. I'm looking forward to just going out there and running for fun, no pressure, just some fun trail running.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cascade Crest Classic 100M!

CCC 100M was an amazing experience. Since it's a local race, I knew a lot of people either running or volunteering (THANKS to the volunteers!!) and it was great to see everyone at aid stations, on the trails and at the finish. My parents even came from North Carolina in support. My parent's neighbor came out from North Carolina with 7 other ultra runners to run CCC. I had run with some of them previously while in North Carolina so it was great seeing all them on the trail as well.

My plan was to divide the race up by aid stations. My goal was to run under 28 hours and I thought that if I was having a good day, I could run somewhere near the 26 hour mark. I decided this by just looking at past results and seeing where I might fall into that mix. My concern was I would go out too fast and just be knackered by the half way mark. I was also a bit concerned that I would have breathing issues as I did at White River 50 so I was sure to have my inhaler with me at all times and easily locatable.

The first climb up to Goat Peak went well, I knew what to expect and so I enjoyed the climb. I talked to a few people and once it spread out I tuned out to my ipod. At the first aid station, mile 11, I was right on track with the splits I had guessed for myself. As I checked off each aid station, I was getting more and more ahead of my target times. I was a bit concerned I was going out too fast, but I felt very relaxed. I was very fortunate to run behind Ronda for some early miles. Ronda is quite an accomplished runner, and an accomplished 100 mile runner at that. I knew running behind her wouldn't last long, but it was a confidence builder to stay with her for some miles. She wound up placing 2nd woman! When I got to Stampede Pass, mile 33, Jess was there to hand me my loaded camelback and headlamp. My parents were there cheering me on. I was still feeling very relaxed. It was here that I had caught up to Owen and we ran together until mile 53 at Hyak. That was awesome. We kept a very steady pace walking some on the uphills and cruising the rest. The PCT is absolutely gorgeous! The trails were in great shape and very runnable. The views were somewhat diluted by the fog and mist. But it was typical Pacific Northwest weather as so it was very comforting. We really lucked out with the weather. It didn't rain, it was cooler temperatures, warm throughout the night and warmer the next day, almost hot really.

We got to Hyak at about 10:30 PM. We thought we would have made it a little quicker, but the re-route that goes over the ski mountain instead of the the 2 miles thru the tunnel was pretty rowdy! It was steep and rocky and technical and maneuvering this through the dark was what seemed at the time frustrating. At times, it seemed almost un-walkable. I nicknamed this part the REAL trail from hell. But eventually, that little journey was over and we running thru tiny streets lined with cabins. People were out on their decks having cocktails and cheering in the runners. It was a nice change of pace from the cursing we were doing while twisting our ankles on the re-route. Once we cruised into Hyak, we took a few minutes there and then headed out to Lake Kachees and the original trail from hell. Owen had met up with his pacer and they were off, off into the darkness not to be seen again until Thorpe Mt. Jess, my awesome pacer and crew person started with me here. I was feeling a bit funky, tired, out of it, as if in a dream. But that all went away within 15 minutes and we were running up and down and putting our hands over our headlamps to get a good view of all the stars out that night. It was a beautiful night. Warm, clear and I had good company. We hit the trail from hell, made it through that, then began walking really fast, (or what seemed fast) up from Mineral Creek, mile 73 to No Name Ridge, mile 80. It was during this stretch that the sun came up. Oh how lucky I felt to be watching the sun come up. It was so amazing, I had watched the sun set and the moon rise and now the sun rise. I would run another 100 miler just for this experience again.

Once we got to No Name Ridge aid station, I knew the next 8 mile stretch to French Cabin would be difficult; the cardiac needles and the beautiful Thorp Mt. I have run these cardiac needles before, several times. So I knew what to expect. I expected short steep climbs. However, I had never experienced these short steep climbs with 80 miles on my legs. This section was tough for me, it felt as if I wasn't not making much progress moving forward with the occasional slip to the side due to lack of forward motion. I figured I had slowed down too much here but was not discouraged. And as it turned out, I didn't slow down in comparison. It's always important to remember that everyone is experiencing something similar. Everyone is tired, everyone is struggling to some degree, so why should my experience be much different? This thought is somewhat comforting to me. As hard as though climbs were, the scenery was tenfold in beauty. The views were spectacular and I did make sure that I looked around and took in the beauty. After all, this is one of the main reasons I run trails. As Jess and I were headed up to Thorp Mt, we came across Owen and his pacer Brock. It was so good to see Owen, I thought I would not see him until the finish. We said hi, checked in, and kept running.

Once I got to French Cabin, mile 88, I knew the next 8 mile stretch was long and gradually becoming technical, or what could be perceived as technical by me in my physical and mental state of being. I felt good still, as good as I expected, but my feet were a bit slow in response to what my eyes saw and I was a bit sloppy. I just followed Jess's feet until the last aid station, MILE 95.5! I could hardly believe I had made it that far. It was very exciting. I saw my parents there and Jeanine. Jeanine ran the last 5 miles with Jess and I and once we hit pavement I knew I had a belt buckle coming to me. Unless I was hit by a car or struck by lightening, I knew I was about to finish. We got to the railroad tracks and I just wanted to see the finish line. It wasn't quite in view and I was getting antsy to cross that line. As soon as I saw it, I just was amazed I had made it. I really had the sense that literally, all my hard work had paid off and it was well worth it. It is such a good feeling when you set a goal, work hard to achieve it, enjoy the process and feel the reward. I wound up coming in at 25 hours and 13 minutes, well ahead of my expectations. Although I was quite euphoric at the end and remember very little of the brief conversations I had right after crossing the finish line, it was great to be surrounded by some many friends and family. Owen came in right after me and he had a 5.5 HOUR PR from last year! WOW!
Thought I'd have more photos of the course, but I didn't have my camera. Jess took some great ones, tired to post them here but I couldn't. So here's finishing photos!

This was really a first class event. Charlie, RD, does an amazing job and putting on this event. And his wife is due in just 2 weeks!