Sunday, January 9, 2011

Frozen Sasquatch 50k 2011

“Never again.”

That’s what I told myself last January 2nd 2010 as I finished my first 50k at Kanawa State Park in Charleston, WV: Frozen Sasquatch 50k. I clearly needed my head examined for signing up for it in the first place… brutally cold, icy trail conditions and pure greenness when it came to running on technical trails translated into a slow uber frigid slog in the mtns. I completed my first 50k with a blazing time of 7 hrs and 31 min.

Frozen Sasquatch 2010 was a humbling, fish out of water experience to say the least.

Yet by the following Monday, I signed up for terrapin mtn 50k-- my experience chasing the sasquatch was the spark that ignited a flame… yes, it hurt, yes.. I was terrible at it… but I for some reason.. I just HAD to experience MORE. Which led to a crazy fun year of running many, many miles in the mtns with my friends, countless fun runs weekend back to backs in the mt rogers area, 3 more 50k’s, my first 14er climbing/running Mt massive in Leadville, my first 50 miler at Cheat mtn, my first Mountain Masochist… What a stellar and epic year in running I had. I have to admit throughout the year whenever I even thought about Frozen Sasquatch, I would have a knee jerk reaction to it. I was instantly think of deathmarching and being EXTREMELY cold. Even when I saw Dolin at Cheat mtn 50, I pretty much told him verbatim not to look for me at Frozen Sasquatch. Once was enough for anyone!

But this past Friday morning with snow flying in the air, there I was loading up all my race gear in the FJ. Bound and determined to face my inner demons associated with this race. I have to improve my time there on that course, because I knew I could. Oh, okay AND I absolutely LOVE all the WVMTR crew. They are just a super special, kind collective of ultra and trail runners. So NOW I know that a day out in the mountains with the WV peeps—you just can’t go wrong there. Their events are always this dichotomy of very well organized, yet very relaxed and chill. The volunteers are AMAZING…

Brock and I got to Charleston it was 30F and barely any snow! AWESOME!!! There was way more snow in VA, than what they had in WV. SWEET! I may get to run on dirt and leaves the next morning! We went to packet pick up on Friday evening. Met up with my trail parents Rick and Tammy Gray. I was really excited to be running with them because I hadn’t seen them since Mtn masochist in Nov. FS 50k was Rick’s birthday run ( he turned 50!) HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICK!!!! :o) Got to hang out there in the concession stand with Dolin ( the RD) and Dan ( the pres. of the WVMTR and RD of highlands sky 40 mi and co –rd of the Trilogy stage races) it was great to just get to catch up and see my friends.

Brock and I decided to watch 127 hours and then let me be a dork and go to sleep at 9pm. I slept pretty soundly until 1 am, I got up and looked out the window and it was a sheer white out… POURING THE SNOW. I looked at my iphone and it said it was 21F. Really, why should I expect any different?? I just kinda rolled my eyes, laughed, and went back to sleep. I got up at 6am.. (one awesome thing about FS 50k—8am start! Woohoo! I get to sleep in!) got dressed about 4 inches had fallen and was STILL falling. I just kept the mentality that it was going to be a FUN day in the mtns.. and running in the fluffy snow was going to be a treat.

Driving to kanawa state park was pretty rough, the roads weren’t that great and people were wrecking all over the place. We finally arrived unscathed! A big ol’ 10 min before start time! I ran into the concession area and said hi to all my friends

and before I knew it I was waving bye to brock and lining up with Rick and the race had begun!

I felt good at the start. I felt much faster than I did at masochist (where I pretty much had ran myself into the ground end of summer and fall) The snow made things a little more difficult footing wise, but I had been running in the snow and ice since the beginning of December.. and I couldn’t have ignorance as an excuse. I was FULLY AWARE of what I had signed up for when I entered this race. I knew it had complete and total potential to be EPIC adventure and time really goes out the window. ( although that doesn’t stop the numerals 7:31 from rolling around in my brain) After a couple miles, I start to determine how I feel ( pretty warm! And happy to be running) and where I am ( on a cool rolling trail and I’m first place female for the 50k and oddly enough 2nd place female had I decided to run the 25k. I decide that I maybe taking it out too fast and maybe should slow up a little. My goal for the race was to have evenly split loops.

Things were still going well when at mile 8. I see another girl with a 50k bib hot on my heels. Crap. I speed up so does she.. we go into an aid station. I beat her out of the AS and my heart rate is up and I’m breathing fast. NO. don’t mess up now. I try to zoom along the trail up the second climb, I see her on the switch backs.. she’s after me. We get on a forest service road and I get passed AGAIN.. I try to stay with the girl, because I really didn’t want to lose the lead. And I felt I could stay with her.. several more surges and I just let her go.. if she can keep that pace up for 16 more miles, more power to her. I struggle to get recovered from my prideful little battle, and feel a little like a whipped puppy, cowering mentally. I tell myself to snap out of it.. everyone knows the race REALLY doesn’t begin until the second loop anyways. I descend down teaberry rock trail get to my drop bag. Adam’s wife, the lovely Kadra assists me while I fill my new handheld, fix up some perpetuem and get more gels for my vest to fuel me for the second loop. I babble to kadra about the girl and how I was going to catch her.

Off I go… first major climb of the second loop.. ouch… I’m feeling it already. My feet hurt and my calves feel achey. My longest run had been 21 miles since masochist. I had gotten sick 2 different weekends in December and consequently missed 2 planned long runs. So I knew I was lacking “time on my feet”. I try to focus on the serene beauty that surrounded me and took a swig of my nuun.. man, what is it about nuun that makes you feel like a million bucks when felt like dog poo 10 min before?? I start running after I get to the top of the hill and after a couple miles I hear another girl’s voice. Crap again! BUT I turn and look and it’s Mary Jane!! My friend I ran almost ALL of capon valley 50k with last may! I didn’t even know she was running this race! Mary is fast… which I have explained before.. she ran JFK in 8 hours.. she is a 3:2something marathoner.. so I always kinda feel pretty dang special when I find myself in her company at an ultra. She was running with her husband Jason, and was feeling GOOD.. so we ran together for about 5 min, I tell her about the chick who I raced with SEVERAL times and Mary Jane told me how she blew by her too during the first loop, and then I just felt like I was working a little too hard and cut them lose.. dang. Why didn’t I just go with them?

I get to the next aid station and they say “2nd female!!!” and I say “HUH?!” I leap across the 3 small creek crossings so I wouldn't get my feet wet. I am running with a cool guy from Morgantown.. I excitedly ramble to him that the fast girl dropped.. that means Mary Jane is in first, and I’m in second. ( WHY would she drop when she’s in THE LEAD?!) I had actually, unknowingly reclaimed the lead for part of the second loop. Then lost it again ( head smack!) I have to keep moving and not let any more chicks pass me. At that point there is just 8 miles left, and I’m feeling like I about have it licked.. another hour and twenty min.. I’ll be back.. I’m looking at my watch.. WELL, I’m not going to run 6 hrs.. or 6: 30… if I hurry I may break 6:40.. oh, well… that’s little more than 50 min faster than last year.. I can’t sneeze at that.

So I just busy myself with working towards the finish and listening to my ipod. Yes, it’s really freaking cold. Yes, my nose ran constantly and I had frozen snot and Heed and Clip2 ALL OVER ME and the fingers of my gloves would freeze to my bottle… But you know what? Where last year, I had a very tough time mentally and was pretty miserable the second loop.. this year, I just was pretty darn appreciative and thankful, and the cold and frozen boogers just didn’t bother me they way they did the previous year. I was just pretty darn happy to be there:o)

I get to Teaberry Rock Trail.. and sure enough, it’s just like it was last year.. very icy and treacherous! I just slid down the slick parks and ran with baby steps/elbows out on the steep sections…. I could see through the trees on the switch backs, the finishline! The yellow FJ! Brock in his gig-normous phantom puffy! YAY!!!

I sprint to the finish ( with probably WAY too much energy left at the end of a 50k) crossed at –6:41. Happy it’s over, Happy I placed second overall female, Happy I improved my time on the course by significant amount-- PR by 50 min ( all be it.. I ran WAY slower than I wanted

1st overall female the sweet and super fast MARY JANE and I

Full results are HERE

This race BOTH YEARS has been EPIC, challenging and humbling.. Michael Dolin really does an excellent job with this race!! I really double dog dare you guys to enter it and run it next year!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1/1/11: NEW YEARS DAY trail run with the IMTR's

Eric and Annette took turns with the camera

Trying to find the timer to no avail..... :oP

yesterday the IMTR's gathered together in Damascus, VA to celebrate the New Year running on the AT/ iron mtn trails, and then go to Eric and Robin Grossman's house for post run refreshment.
We ran our bread and butter 8ish mile loop that is in the shape of a figure 8 and I just LOVE it :o) and it was just so wonderful to get to see all my old friends and spend the morning together. We had some great conversations. :o) It was great to catch up with Doug Blackford, I hadn't ran with him in sometime and we talked alot about his trip to UMB and Chamnoix this summer, and how he was planning to return in the event the lottery was kind to him this year. Tears of sheer joy and happiness literally stung the corners of my eyes the last 2 miles of the run when I had the realization of HOW AWESOME it was to see Eric dart up the trail a blur of orange breaking away from the group, his stride so strong and confident.
And then for Annette to completely DUST me on a killer downhill... I was running as hard as I could go and was still losing so much ground to her... ZOOM! she was gone. (she is just SUPER FAST that is all there is to it)
it was AWESOME to see all my friends healthy, recovered, getting ready to get in "fighting shape" and have a great 2011.

and AS FOR ME, I felt blissed out/ blessed to be running myself in the mtns at the pace I was going and feeling GOOD and STRONG! it wasn't 2 months ago... my speed gone, plagued with nagging injuries.. I had a hard time getting out of 9 min/ 10 min pace shuffle. Sure, I could run that way forever... but after runs, I would go back to my FJ on the verge of tears and extremely frustrated wondering if I had FOREVER screwed myself up. BUT... like the old saying "time heals all wounds" I really truly believe that now. It took TIME and I had to be PATIENT. and heeding SAGE advice of my fleetly, wiser, more mature ultrarunning friends... but I too am healed up, running faster ( though not at the level of my 2 speedy friends eric and annette :oP) but FOR ME... I'm SUPER ELATED where I am.
I really hope that I learned some major lessons over 2010 especially from the fall and summer concerning "What NOT to do when it comes to ultrarunning/racing/recovery." I really feel the swimming/strength training/speed work have helped me tremendously in resolving my issues. I really hope that as the year unfolds I'm more in tune with myself in allowing adequate recovery time/rest time when I need it.

after the run, as I mentioned we went back to Eric and Robin's house. Played a fun card game called "apples to apples" with Eric's kids ( Beth Minnick and I RULED at that game:o) JJ was extremely envious of all our green cards we had acquired-- I know:o) Then we all had Hoppin' John that Doug and Martha prepared. ( black-eyed peas and greens) MMM! Delicious! it's supposed to bring you good luck for the upcoming new year. :o)

I really hope all my friends in blogland has a Happy, Healthy, Wonderful 2011. FILLED with many adventures and time in mtns:o)