Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wilderman off-road 140.6 Race Report: The days leading up to this race had me in a panic! The thoughts of how logistically I can pull this race off were flying through my mind constantly. First off a little about this race. It is a first time race put on by, a company that puts on extreme endurance events. Their motto is "Harder. Better. Wilder." I believe this is the only off-road distance 140.6 race there is and to make this race "harder" it is pretty much self supported. The overall cut on the full distance is 28 hours (2 hours for the swim, 16 hours for the bike, and 10 hours for the run). The race was located just outside of Wahalla, ND (approximately 7 hours from Minneapolis). I arrived Thursday afternoon to Wahalla, which gave me the chance to settle in and explore parts of the race course prior to race day and get my gear in check. The time spent exploring the course was extremely helpful in preparing me for what race day was going to bring. Friday was registration, dinner, and athlete meeting. I believe there were a total of 39 people that signed up for the race and only 26 showed up to registration (4 woman and 22 males). The meeting was over at about 8:30 pm and I headed back to the hotel to try to get some zzzz's. I didn't sleep a wink! My alarm went off at 5:00 am and I hung out in bed until 5:30 am before getting up to start my pre-race routine. I was on the road by 6:30 to head to the swim start, which was located approximately 20 miles out of town at Mt. Carmel Recreation/Campground and Dam. Once arriving to Mt Carmel, we weaved through the campground to the beach area where they had two cones set up. I picked my spot between the two cones to set up my transition. There were no racks, you just laid your bike on the ground and your gear around the bike. You also dropped off your drop bins that housed your gear and nutrition for the race. You could access the drop bins at miles 12 and 60 on the bike and then T2 and mile 11 on the run. The swim:
The swim course was a 2 loop course with two total bouys outlining the course. You swim down stream with the current and back to the beach against the current. Given the size of the field the participants got pretty spread out making it difficult to draft. I took the swim fairly easy; really just focusing on my form and keeping my stoke smooth. The water was full of floating vegetation and water temp was 80 degrees. The swim was wetsuit legal and the majority of the field did wear a wetsuit. I opted to wear my sleeveless, which ended up being a good choice. At the completion of each loop you had to yell out your name to make sure that all the swimmers were accounted for and that everyone completed two loops. I was the first woman out of the water. I quickly made my way up the hill to my bike and changed my clothes-yes out in the open (there are no changing tents and no penalties for nudity). My pacer gathered my swim gear and loaded it into the car after I left. Bike:
You exit the campground and headed out onto a gravel road before taking a left onto a paved road to start your first climb (approximately 200 ft). I passed a guy and wished him good luck. At the top of the climb you took a left, back onto gravel road where you rode until mile 12 when you hit your dropbox for the first time. I stopped to gather my nutrition for the bike and took a gel then started back on the gravel road for about 1 mile, which led me to the first set of ATV/2-track. The trail started off fairly flat for a mile or so. Then you descended approximately 200 ft into the gorge. The descend was rutted and over grown. You had to be very aware of your sighting and the path you chose. A lot of people crashed in this section. The trail came to an end requiring us to cross a river. You had to cross the river by carrying your bike over head. The water depth was anywhere from waist to chest deep and there was a strong current making it difficult to maintain your balance! There was a volunteer that walk along side you holding you up so you would tip over. Once you crossed the river, you had to climb the embankment to the ATV trail. There was a lot of climbing and the climbs were steep with sharp hairpin turns. The descents were fast and flowing. A lot of the trail followed the ridge line and if you took the hairpin turn too wide you would go off the cliff! This was the pattern for the next 20+ miles of the ride. There were also a good 5-6 sections of deep wet clay that would spit sticky clay all over your bike and into your pedals. I was peeling off baseball sized balls of clay from the back of my fork and my bike frame and had to stop a couple times to clean out my cleats so I could clip in. Once completing the ATV/2-track section we were spit out onto a gravel road for about a mile with a 200+ ft decent where they had just laid fresh thick gravel. If you got going too fast you would start to fish-tail. Once reaching the bottom there was a place to refill your water before heading back into the ATV trail. This set of trail was shorter, but was all climbing with switchbacks along the ridge line and there was a lot of ATV traffic. After completing that section you shot back out onto the gravel roads for the remainder of the loop. By this time, the North Dakota winds had picked up and just because you were on the gravel the roads didn't mean the climbing stopped. We took the gravel roads to the ski hill (who knew North Dakota had ski hills), where we had 3 sleep climbs on loose gravel that were over 400 ft about a 1.5 miles in length. Once completing the climbs, the course flattened out a bit so you could make up some time and rest a bit before starting this all over again. We hit our drop bins at mile 60. I stopped for some nutrition and a red bull. While I was there I heard chatter about my buddy Jeremy crashing on the bike and breaking his foot. He was in the lead and now out of the race. I hopped back on my bike and as soon as I pulled away the second place woman arrived to the aid station. I tried to pick up the pace, knowing that she was a better mountain biker than me. I made it to the river, crossed it and at mile 70 she caught me. I tried to keep up with her and to continue to push where I could, but kept in my mind I had a run to follow. Once, popping out of the trail and back on the gravel road decent with the loose, fresh gravel, I met up with my pacer and Jeremy (the guy who broke his foot) and his brother Nathan at the waterstop. I drank a coke before heading back into the last section of trail and then onto the gravel roads. There was a strong head wind at this point and still a good amount of climbing before completing the bike. The sun was setting at this point and I ended up having to turn on my bike lights for the last 10 miles or so before hitting the transition. When I pulled into the transition area, the first place woman was just heading out. Once hitting the transition, I drank a coke ate some pretzels and applesauce. My stomach felt fine but, I couldn't tolerate anything sweet anymore. I threw on some running tights and a short sleeved shirt along with a long sleeve shirt. I also put a headlamp around my waist, headlamp on my head, and a flash light in my pack.
Run: The run started with the first mile down a gravel road and my legs felt AWESOME-probably the best they have ever felt off the bike! About mile 2 we turned into overgrown ATV trail-the brush was thick and waist deep for the next mile or so. You then dropped into the first creek bed. I passed a man and wished him good luck and the proceeded on. During the pre-race meeting, the race director said the first creek bed was runnable, but I shortly learned that it was not. My initial thought was that I will just run down the water, until I stepped and sunk about 1.5 ft into the clay bottom. I stopped and quickly scanned the area and found some foot steps and then just followed them as well as I could. The foot steps took you from bank to bank, through deep brush, and over rocks and over downed trees. There was fresh bear scat along with fresh bear tracks everywhere. You could hear soft growling coming from the brush! I checked to make sure I had my whistle attached to my pack and scanned my flashlight back and forth from bank to bank until I hit the end of the creek (approximately mile 5). You then had to climb about a 7 ft cliff and pull yourself up over the ridge to get on the overgrown trail. You had to make your way through waist deep brush for about 2-3 miles before dropping back into another short creek section that was about 1 mile long before exiting again into overgrown trail. This section had lots of climbing! The climbs were over a 20% grade! You climbed until you reached the ridge line. The trail narrowed to about 1.5 ft. wide, but remained heavily overgrown. When you looked side to side and it was pitch black! I took my flashlight and shined down to the right and it was a 200 ft drop and I did the same on the left and it was a 50 ft drop! I started to shuffle my feet, trying to be careful not to step too far to either side for fear that I would fall. I ended up catching my toe on a root and went down on the left side of the trail! I grabbed onto the overgrown brush to stop my fall and then had to pull myself back up onto the ridge. My heart was pounding! The trail finally turned and we ended up dropping deeper into the thick woods to start climbing again up to a remote cabin. We were 8 miles into the run at this point and we could refill our water at the cabin. They were also a few snacks in the cabin that we could help ourselves to as well. During the pre-race meeting we were given the challenge to memorize the snacks that were in the cabin as this was a question that you had to answer at the finish. Once I left the cabin I had to descend the overgrown trail. The descents were a 20+ grade making you having to grip trees for support. I stayed on the trail for another 2 miles when I came upon another remote cabin. A man name Dex had a refrigerator stocked with Coke and Sprite for us take. I took a can of Coke and headed out onto the road. I only made it about a block before dropping the can of coke and it spilled all over the road. I had about a mile on the gravel road before hitting our only stop at the drop bins. I picked up my pacer at that spot. I stopped briefly at my drop bin to drop my garbage. My pacer wasn't exactly ready to go and I just wanted to keep moving, so I took off and told him to catch up. We had a 5 mile section of gravel road. I came up on another racer who walking down the road drinking a beer. He told me that a drunk cowboy gave him the beer and that he wanted to drop from the race. I wished him good luck and continued down the road until I had to drop into the next creek bed. This creek bed was thick with brush and there was a ton of bushwhacking and climbing over downed trees. Not long after dropping into the creek bed, I met up two other guy racers who were struggling to get through this part. We ended up teaming up and navigating the creek bed all together. The creek bed range in water depth from ankle deep to knee deep. The air temp had dropped to about 50 degrees and we were all getting pretty cold at this point! Once we reach the end of the 4 mile creek bed we came to the river again. We had to cross the waist deep, fast flowing river to the opposite shore. We climbed up into ATV trail which brought us to a make shift trail (An ATV drove down the middle of some crop). They called this part "The Tires"-meaning we had to high step through this crop for a mile or so before dropping back into another creek bed. This creek bed was filled with boulders that we had to climb through. The rocks were slippery from algae and the greasy clay that were on the bottoms our shoes. I ended up slipping on a boulder about 3/4 of the way through and landing on my right knee. I was saved from hitting my head on the rock by the brim of my hat! At this point I was ready to be done! Everyone stopped and was asking if I was alright and my response was "Let's just go!" We climbed out of that creek section and one of the race directors was at the top cheering us on and then he broke the the news that we were entering the worse part of the trail. He told us that this was section that we were most likely to fall and break an ankle. I was like GREAT! The next section of trail was a mowed path through a clover field, which doesn't sound so bad, right! The path was filled with deep ruts and holes that we had to avoid. We quickly developed a call system to alert each other about the holes. Mike (one of the guys in our group), ended up catching his foot and twisting his knee. This caused him to fade a little bit, but at this time we were a TEAM! We slowed a bit for Mike to catch up until he got some energy and walk out the pain from the fall. Once the clover field ended we dropped back onto the ATV trail which took us to a fence that we had to climb. From there we had just over two miles left of the course about half ATV trail and half gravel road with a 200+ ft climb into the finish.
Overall finish: 2nd female and 8th overall! 17 total finishers. STATS: 6700 ft of climbing on the bike and 2500ft of climbing on the run! What an experience! I was a little beat up but, can't wait to do it again!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kettle Moraine 100K race report

Here is my race report now that I have had a week or so to ponder over what I accomplished last weekend. This was my 1st official 100k race. I did finish 64 miles last year in Leadville, but I didn't complete it. After I have had some time to think about that race and what I did wrong or didn't do wrong, I created a training plan in my head to plan for the next big one. I started the training season strong with treadmill running and limited outside and even less trail running. The treadmill training motivation died quickly and by mid March I didn't want to run at all. I at least had some friends either training for their own 100 mile races or other friends willing to take shifts with me on the treadmill. Still my training wasn't where I wanted it. However, after pacing my friend Mike at Zumbro for 34 miles built some early confidence that I would be fine at Kettle Moraine 100k. Then Chippewa 50k came up and granted little of the course was runnable, I was extremely disappointed in my performance. I at that point lost all my confidence in finishing let alone doing well at Kettle 100k . I travelled to La Grange with a friend who was running the 100 miler and it quickly became known that the travel and the races at Kettle Moraine were about her-we travelled on her schedule and catering to her needs. Okay I was and still am very annoyed! Okay okay, once we arrived to the race site the night before the race we got all checked and got our race packets and then headed back to the hotel. Once I got to the hotel, I checked my drop bags that I previously packed to make sure that I had everything (nutrition, clothing, extra socks, Aquaphor, etc). I then quickly realized that I left the bladder to my Solomon pack at home- I had a mild little freak out considering that the starting temp was going to be 64 degrees with 90 percent humidity. I searched my car and found a handheld and decided that I would carry my Solomon pack without the bladder and the bottle (which fit into the pocket). I loaded up the car and then was in bed by 9. I ended up sleeping well for about 2 hours and then laid there away until I needed to get up. Breakfast- of course I didn't want anything but managed to shove a banana, applesauce, small can of v-8 (felt the sodium would be good), and a bagel with cream cheese in (I think this is most I have eaten before a race). I arrived to the race site about a hour before the race, picked up my chip, and used the bathroom and then attended the brief race meeting. The race started and I was very conservative I didn't know what to expect for the race itself and the high humidity. I ran the first 15 miles primarily by myself but found myself concentrating on listening into other peoples conversations-I learned all about hockey and rebuilding car starters. The first 8 miles of the course were grassy trails and the the remaining 7 to make the 15 were single track (shaded). Mile 15 was the first place to get a drop bag and at that time I felt needed to drop my Solomon pack any only run with the handheld since my shirt and pack were completely soaked from my sweat. I changed my shirt at that time as well. Following that water stop we hit a grassy prairie area and the air was stagnant- it was like running through a sauna. They had a couple of unmanned water stops with only water for the next 10 miles. The remaining 7 miles of this section was single track with about a mile of grassy trail. I remained conscience of taking salt tabs every hour and took two gels during the second 17 miles. I arrived at the half way spot and ran into the friend I travelled with to the race (I was a bit disappointed in myself, since I felt that I should have been in front of her). This is where, I first felt some fatigue. I grabbed my drop bag, drank a Redbull and ate some nutrition at the stop and then headed back out on the trail. I felt pretty strong running for the next 7 miles or so. Then ended up walking most of the prairie as this had become really muddy and wet. I ran through the singletrack as much as I could. My feet at this point were really bothering me as I had developed huge blisters on the bottoms and I could feel the skin sticking to my shoes and ripping off with each step. I made to the aid station ate well (watermelon, olives, pickles, potatoes, and a gel). I applied some aquaphor to my feet and changed socks and then went on to finish the last 15 miles. I started off running this section strong even though my feet were in extreme pain at this point and my right hip was now bothering me. I ended up walk running for a mile or so before the skies opened up and it started storming. The last 8 miles or so I ended walk running with more walking then running. The fatigue had definitely set in at that point. I remember looking at my watch and contemplating laying down and taking a nap on the side of the trail with only 2 miles left to run (or walk). Now that I finished I know that I could have run that race faster and maybe need more mental toughness- and given this I'm indifferentiate about my finish. The good things- no gi issues what so ever- this is a first! And I finished!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Adventure Triathlon! This past Saturday I did my first off road triathlon and what an adventure it was! So adventure means the whole package and bigger the package bigger the adventure. Right? Okay, well let me explain. I thought that I was signing up for a triathlon that involved simply mountain biking, kayaking, and running (trails), but mother nature had something else in mind. She said this is suppose to be an adventure race can we make this an adventure? How about throwing in all 4 seasons and a couple natural disasters along the way. The morning started off crisp at 38 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like 20 degrees. There was also a bit of wind, but it was sunny. Shortly after the gun goes off the the sun really decides to come out and warm things up. The bike course was a mix of road, gravel, sand, and non-technical single track. The ride started off fast on dirt road and through a wooded area. We then turned out onto another group of loose, sandy dirt road as we made ourselves around a couple small lakes. When we entered the open area the wind took over! Talking sustained 40 mph winds! It was hard to maintain 7 mph let alone stay upright on the bike. As a I continue to fight through the wind and make it to the last 2 miles or so of the bike course, it became dark and started to hail, sleet, rain, and snow and of course the wind picked up even more. I finally make it to the transition to start the kayak portion. I get down to the landing and start to get into the kayak and my hip decides to cramp up to the point that I can't bend at the hip and get my leg into the kayak. I continue to get myself in as the volunteers push me out into the water and my kayak practically tipping over. I right away head to the middle of the river-knowing the middle runs the fastest. At that minute the sun decides to poke out and warm things up nicely. I'm paddling enjoying the river until I have approximately 1/4 mile left and the skies decide to open up again and the wind decides to pick up and I start battling whitecaps. All sudden my kayak takes off at full speed to the point that it was difficult to make the landing. I get out the kayak shivering and my hands frozen. I run to the transition area set up by my sherpa, get my shoes changed out and a new run jacket on (I started out in 4 layers!) and take off down the trail. After approximately 2 miles we popped out on the road and spent the rest of the run on road. The sun again decided to come out and warm things up again. I needed to peel off all my layers and spent a good portion of the run wearing a clothes basket worth of clothing around my waste. The run was tough as my legs were sore from all the cramping and I was tired from fighting the wind all day. However this adventure was not over as the last 1.5 miles was against the 40+ mph winds and the another front of sleet, hail, snow, and rain came through. Holy Smokes! I finished my adventure triathlon 5th woman overall.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Racing

I am a 2nd half of 2012 failed blogger! To highlight my 2nd half the year in 2012...... Following my 50K that I wrote about during my previous post. I went on to run my first 50 miler (Voyager 50 miler). I felt great! I ended up finishing 9th woman overall! Then off to my big race Leadville 100 trail run. I ended up with my first DNF! I made it 64 miles before being cut from the course since I didn't make the cut at Twin Lakes on my way back after climbing Hope Pass twice! I was angry that I was cut, but it is the name of the game in ultra running. Leadville had a 40% finish rate and granted I didn't finish, I have a lot to be proud of. 1. I made further than most of the field 2. PR distance for me 3. First race in elevation. This DNF set the stage to do better! I plan to attempt Leadville 100 Trail again in 2014. After returning back from Leadville, there was no wasting anytime before jumping into triathlon training. I had Ironman Cozumel 10 weeks after! I went into Ironman Cozumel confident-well sort. I was nervous that I hadn't put enough bike and swim training in prior to racing. I completed Ironman Cozumel, but it was by far my hardest Ironman Day I have had to date. The winds picked up causing the water to be really choppy and strong currents. The last 600 meters probably took me close to 45 minutes to complete! The wind continued through the bike-in fact picked up every loop (the bike course was a total of 3 loops). And to make things worse, there wasn't any food on the bike course! I was counting on bananas in combination with a gel to get approximately 200 calories per hour. I was severely nutritionally depleted after bike and spent physically from working so hard against the wind. I wondered onto the run hoping that I could make up some calories at the water stops along the run, but when I got to the first water stop there wasn't any food. The remainder of water stops had food, but I was so depleted that I struggled with lightheadedness throughout-I couldn't get caught up. I ended up finishing with a time of 13:00.54. The crazy thing was that I was only 2 minutes from my PR on the bike and this wasn't my slowest Ironman! Plans for 2013: Chippewa 50K in April Kettle Moraine 100K in June Ironman Lake Tahoe in September

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yesterday, I ran my 3rd ultra of the year so far. You would think it would get easier this was my hardest by far! A multitude of factors maybe contributed, such as I didn't get a good night sleep in my tent the night before, it was already in the 70s with high humidity at the start which was 5:30 am, or the course is the toughest by far that I have ever run. They are all excuses!!!! It just wasn't my day, which in my eyes is more valuable than anything when looking forward to Leadville and Cozumel-it could easily not be my day those days, however I do know that I have the strength and perseverance to get through and be happy with what I accomplish (the goal at hand). I ended up finishing 4th in my age group and 6th woman overall. They recognized the top 5 places so I won a flashlight-Yay!
Earlier this week an Aquaphor teammate of mine posted a link on facebook where news caster Brian Gamble did a story about ultrarunners. I found the story interesting especially since he and the other interviewer, whom I can't remember, made assumptions about people that run longer distances (I say longer because a lot of the story was interviewing a man who runs the same 8 mile course every single day and has been for years) but doesn't do ultramarathons. They went on to talk about how ultrarunners run long distances because they are running from something else in their life and they are unbalanced people. First of all this story boils my blood a bit considering it's making the assumption that all of us "problemed people" only run and are not out running to improve our health, love to be out in nature, are goal oriented, love the challenge of running through varied terrain, and like to meet new people. I don't we are unbalanced-ARE WE?

Monday, June 4, 2012

It has been a tough spring for me. My previous post talks a little about me being injured and having to sit out of Zumbro. Well the injury took a little longer than expected to heal-a total of 10 weeks! I'm pretty sure at this point that I did have a stress fracture in my left tibia, but I never officially had it checked out. I figured a specialist would have just told me to stay off of it-I ended up doing that anyway. Since the recovery was so long, I ended up missing out on running Ice Age 50 milers as well:( But GOOD NEWS........I'm healed and back to running some distance! Yay! The picture above shows me the night before my second ultra that took place this past weekend. Knowing that I'm jumping back into the running and distance game, I was a bit nervous to see how my legs would hold up to trail running and distance running. Two weekends ago, I trialed a shorter distance run of 12 miles with Aj and my leg felt great! Then over the week I continued to run putting in close to 50 miles! And still NO LEG PAIN! Then this past weekend was the true test........I ran the Kettle Moraine 38 mile Fun Run (a distance PR for me) that took place at night and I felt fantastic!!!!!! No leg pain-other than the typical leg achiness you get from running long distances. It was hard to judge where I was at in comparison to the other runners on the course since we started in waves, but I could tell that I was holding my own. I ended up finishing 3rd woman and 19th overall-super proud of my accomplishment!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lot's to report!

I have one the biggest changes happening! Back in January-actually on my birthday I accepted a nurse practitioner position at Sister Kenny Rehab Institute at Abbott Northwestern. I am to start on Monday! This is both exciting and scary at the same time! I have been at Gillette for the past 10 years and I had always thought it was going to be a place that I stay, however after a lot of hard thought I know SKRI will allow me to continue to work with a population that serves people with disability and allow me to maximize my professional growth. Gillette will always hold a special place in my heart, but I know that this is the right move for me! I will be working with a group of nurse practitioners and physicians (all that seem AWESOME) focusing on Oncology rehabilitation. I'm super excited!

Next.............What is going on with my training
Over the past three (yes, I said 3 weeks) I have had to back off from the running significantly. I have a spot on my lower left leg that has been extremely painful and has me worried that I may have another stress fracture. So bummed! I ended up skipping out on my 50 miler in Zumbro last weekend, which was a really hard decision! I haven't ever taken myself out of a big race like this in the past but I know if I had pushed it there was a good chance it will would have taken me out for the remainder of my season. I feel that pain and swelling have gotten better but its not 100%. I did head down to Zumbro to cheer my training peeps on and MAN it was an exciting weekend, which has gotten me even more pumped to run!!!!!!!!

I plan to race trail mix relay this weekend, which is a short 7 mile loop. I have been resting, stretching, icing, ibuprofening, rolling, and doing rehab exercises to try to speed the recovery. I just ordered some skin supports that I am hopeful will help as well. The one thing that I have learned through this recovery period is that I HATE the cross-trainer!

Until next time!