Monday, July 17, 2017

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon Pacing

Remember how I tried to run Sun Mountain 50k with a stomach bug? Try pacing a marathon with a migraine. Here's a tip, don't try to do that. 
I was asked several months back to pace the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon, which of course I am always happy to do. I love pacing! The race was on Sunday and Saturday morning I woke up with a bad headache which quickly escalated to a migraine. I had it all day long. I stayed in bed, locked up on my dark quiet apartment. I messaged my pace team to let them know I wasn't feeling well and that I was going to do my best the next day. I woke up Sunday feeling a bit better, I was able to move around at least. I got ready and headed to the midway exchange point for the race. Still feeling blah but willing to give the pacing my best shot we started out and I was ok for the first couple of miles then I realized was working 10x harder than I should have been, I let my pace partner know that I was starting to really work hard to run. I started sweating like crazy and getting really really hot. But I kept chugging along. Then things went wonky. . . 
This was at the very start of our pacing before I fell apart.
I got very very hot and couldn't breathe. I had to let my partner know I had to drop. I became disoriented and stopped running, immediately stripping off my shirt. Mind you, it was misty and cold. I was walking around shirtless in the Seattle misty cold morning. I was on the Alaska Way Viaduct just wandering around like a crazy person. 
I couldn't find a first aid tent on there but I found an off ramp. I knew I was close to home but for some reason didn't know how to get home because I was so disoriented, my neck hurt to bad I had to  hang my head, my eyes were so light sensitive that I couldn't look up, my eyes hated all noise but I needed help. I text my pace director to let him know I dropped and called my friend Tiffany, she gave me turn by turn directions over the phone until I was able to find my way the rest of the way home. I got home, put on dry clothes and walked back over the nearest pharmacy and stocked up on migraine meds and crashed again.
I have decided this summer I am the poster child of "What not to do while running!" I am just glad that nothing worse happened and that Tiffany was able to guide me safely home. 
Keep on Running! Unless you have a migraine... then don't. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sun Mountain 50k, my First DNF

Back when I first started running I remember reading a Facebook chain that said not to run if you have an upset stomach. I tested this advice on my own on slightly upset stomachs and determined that it was sound advice. 
From Tuesday night through Saturday morning I was fighting some kind of stomach thing. Vomiting, diarrhea, the whole thing. Friday I started to feel better, no vomiting, just the other fun stuff and Saturday I work up with just an upset feeling stomach. Saturday was race day. Remember that sound, tried and true advice? I threw it out the window and tried to race anyway. 
I shared a cabin with some run friend, thanks Carol for keeping me awake all night with your tossing and turning 😜, non of us slept well. I toss it up to pre-race jitters. Race morning I picked up my friend Mary and the way to the race start. We got there plenty early to take our time getting ready and lined up with the plan of running quite a bit of the race together. 
As soon as the race started and I was running for the first time in days, immediately I started cramping on both my sides. I hoped they would go away but they didn't. I struggled to keep up with Mary but we stayed pretty close until about mile 8, I got a pretty bad leg cramp. I stretched it out but we got back to it and at my 9 we hit the first aid station. I took some salt tabs and ate a gel and we were back at it. I felt a little better before the cramps came back about a quarter of a mile later. We were together until just before mile 11 when she pulled ahead of me. 
Mile 11 I knew the race was over for me. My left leg cramped up so bad that my toes curled under and I couldn't get them to uncurl. I ended up stretching out for several minutes. Every time I tried to take a step the cramping would come back. Finally I got to where I could walk again and slow jog down the mountain, it was pretty bad trail, mountain bike trail. So it wasn't the kind you could just let go and run. Lots of quick dips and twists. I made it down and then walked back up a ski trail on the course which the elevation wasn't so bad on but I felt horrible, like I was about to pass out going up it. I was passed by lot of people on that little up hill portion of the course. 
I had run this portion of the course previously, so I had a pretty good understanding as to where I was and where I needed to go. I knew that if I followed the course I would end back at the start finish area. I kept on going, I was really over heating, sweating like crazy, I knew my electrolytes were off from being sick. My head was pounding, and at about mile 13 I started seeing things. I saw a bearcat and heard a rattlesnake or two. 
 Thankfully, I knew that these things weren't real. I was more like, wtf? I also knew that things were getting pretty serious if I was seeing and hearing things. But I knew that if I just kept moving forward I would get back to where there were people. Basically everyone had passed me by this point. A young man did run with me for a bit somewhere in this section of the course. Unless I made him up... I didn't see him at the finish haha. At mile 15 the pacers caught up with me. I was sitting on a rock trying to read a map on my phone to see which way would be faster to get back. They decided that I should just keep following the course with them, they walked me back to about a quarter of a mile from the start/finish. I wandered into the finish area and couldn't find the first aid tent. I found a bench next to a building and just sat there for about 10 minutes staring at everyone walking around and having a good time. Confused as to why I couldn't find the tent. 
Finally I realized I had been staring at it the whole time I was sitting there. I got up and wandered over to it. I had to ask for a volunteer because no one was there. When I finally got their attention, they sat me down and got me ginger ale as they didn't have anything else for upset stomach. They did eventually find acupuncture wrist bands that were meant to help. I am not sure if they did. 
I just sat there was felt like forever before my friends James and Gennifer found me. It wasn't long before James realized that I might still want to be ill. He went and grabbed me the only bucket he could find. Which ended up being a huge blue barrel! haha But it was sweat of him. I made it thru 2 ginger ales before I started feeling like I could get up and move around again. 
This was my first DNF in about 100 races. It was bound to happen at some time. I am just so glad that nothing worse happened to me out there. The up side to all of that was that I was able to see all of my friends finish their races. 
Stephanie's first 50k!!! Way to go Stephanie! 
Wendy's first 100k and she made it look like cake and finishing in 13 hours.
Carol's first 100k who kicked ass and sprinted into the finish! 
Mary's finish.... shouting profanity as she crossed the finish line. "That Fucking Sucked!"
Spending the weekend with amazing running friends :D
Lesson learned, if you have a stomach bug, don't try to run a 50k. 
Keep on Running! Unless you are sick. . . 

Beacon Rock 25k

I was feeling really low after my DNF at Sun Mountain. I didn't want to run at all. I was thinking of going to Echo Valley with my friend Mary and was basically set to hit "buy" when my other friend Liz pinged me. 
That's how I ended up at the Beacon Rock 25k
I didn't know what to expect from this race, I hadn't been practicing a lot of elevation gain and this race has almost 4,000 ft in the 25k. So I planned to just hike/run it. This race had a very generous time cutoff, so I wasn't really worried at all. I took my trekking poles with and used them on all of the uphills. I couldn't believe how great my legs felt after! I wasn't sore much at all, just my shoulders from the poles. 
I was getting ready the morning of the race and found Emily and Sean hanging out under their nice dry tent. So I joined them for a while before the race, just hanging out and having a good time not knowing that Emily was about the same pace as me and that Sean had planned to run with her. (So cute) 
After a while we finally decided to head to the start line, and jaunted off into the misty rain. Sean, Emily and I ended up actually running a good portion of the race together. I'd say about 2/3 of it, which made the race so much more fun. 
The three big highlights from this race: I was close to Glenn Tachiyama, I could hear Sean and Emily having fun taking photos but couldn't see them. I approached on very rocky section of the trail and boom, face planted. All of a sudden I hear, "Are you alright?" I look up to see Glenn's head popping over the edge of the mountain cliff. "Yes, I just need a minute..." I made it up to Glenn and the first thing he said was "I saw your head bobbing along and all over a sudden it disappeared!" At least he didn't take a photo of my fail. 
The second was seeing Emily and Sean cross the finish line together. I met up with them just before the finish and powered up to finish just ahead of them. I was able to capture their finish on video and it was so worth it. :) 
The third was finally getting my high five from James Varner. James is the owner of Rainshadow Running and he gives high fives to all of the finishers as they cross the finish line. This was the first race I was able to complete! I missed the Deception Pass 50k due to an injury, missed Gorge Waterfalls 50k because of work and DNFed at Sun Mountain. But I made it!
Thank you again Liz, I needed a good race. This really picked me back up and got me going again. :) 
Keep on Running!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My intro to Montana

Like a tornado she swept into my life, turning it sideways and filling it with adventure. I had no idea that in such a short time someone could influence me and my life so much. Her name is Anne Danczyk. I met her on her first day at Amazon. She had just joined my Executive Assistant team; we were at Key Arena for the Amazon Seattle All-Hands, even in a stadium of 30,000 people Anne still stood out. She is a powerhouse of confidence, capturing her audience, not just by her beauty but her passion. She stormed in a few minutes late, literally running from campus due to a slight misunderstanding in the meeting location. Instead of stressing about it, she just laughed and was really happy about making it before the start of the presentations. That just who Anne is, bubbly, silly and carefree. 
Anne's life is that of fairy tales, to say that she is a go getter is an understatement of a lifetime. Anne's first job as a young girl was working with horses. She trained to be on the regional development team as a downhill ski racer, attended West Point as a Spanish major, after serving in the United States Army for 10 years (where she routinely fought forest fires) she left to pursue her dream of becoming a professional opera singer. She has been dutifully studying and practicing nonstop for the last year and is preparing for her auditions that are quickly coming up! 
I forgot to mention, while Anne was in High School and University she ran competitively on the cross country teams. This, is where Anne's love of Montana really shined through, it was so strong that I just had to see it for myself. 
She would tell me of these grand adventures of trail running in the mountains with her black lab. She would be out there for hours not realizing just how far they had run. Accidentally running 20 milers simply because she would get lost in the joy of running in her Montana mountains. Her story of a run-in with a friendly bear didn't deter her love one bit, if anything her face lit up even more while she told about it. 
Anne is how I ended up in Big Ski Country. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Writing starter 1

I am sitting in the sun, watching the waves crash against the rocks below me. The people walking behind me with their headphones in, phones out, and cameras strapped to their sides. Not looking up at the beauty before them. It is like this now. People are disconnected from the beauty and magic around them. Lost in their own little electronic worlds. I myself am a cheat, thinking I am looking up and around, telling myself that I am taking it all in but I’m not really. I have my laptop open and it is sitting in my lap, I'm just pretending to be a true observer of the beauty around me.
The water is warmer now, it is getting the summer hew about it, filling with sea plants, becoming less clear with every passing day. The music of the waves is louder now, with the passing boats now flooding to its water, causing more turbulence than in the winter months. I have lived her for five years now and I still catch my breath at the site and smell of the water. Coming from a land far far away, Missouri, there are no bodies of water quite like this. They are filled with debris and sediment, so brown that you couldn't see your hand if it was only a couple of inches in the water. The water here is different. It speaks to the heart easier than the water from back home.
I don’t see myself as a Missourian anymore. I am a true Washingtonian, I love the summers. It’s what we all live here for. The winters are worse than the world thinks. The rain and cold just doesn’t stop, made worse by the horridly short winter days. We can go weeks without ever seeing the sun. That’s probably the hardest part about the winter here. Not seeing the sun.
The mountains are so vivid in the distance. Standing tall and mighty as they are, still heavily snowcapped from our long winter. Rainier in the distance standing taller than anything around, as if to say “See me, acknowledge me; I am the guardian of the mountains and the sea.”
There are no real clouds in the sky today. Just happy little clouds trying to hang onto the mountains, they are fading fast. They won’t last the night. The sun is so warm that my hair is on end, it isn’t used to seeing the sun. It misses it, by the end of the summer my auburn hair with be strawberry blonde from its rays. It’s gift to me for enjoying its comfort and basking in its glory. I talk to the sun, I am not afraid of sounding silly. I tell it how grateful I am for it being here and how I have missed it more than it could know!
The cruise boats are passing by; the passengers line the railings taking photos of everything that they pass. Just making more waves for me to listen to as the crash against the shore below me. 

The start of my little trip

I did something that I have always wanted to do, I packed up my car, and Laddie, and drove off into the sunset, so to speak. I only had a vague idea of where I wanted to go and no idea how long we would be gone. It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I was completely free, with no one or anything to hold me back.
I knew that I wanted to see the Washington peninsula; I had never been there before. I had lived in Washington for five years and had never seen that side of the state. The side that promises mountains, the sea and cute little towns along its coast.
I knew that I wanted to hit some of the more popular spots, so I started off with Port Orchard, I didn’t stay. It wasn’t what I expected, too commercial. Which makes sense as it is very close to Seattle. I went on to Bremerton, which was a huge surprise to me. I loved the port feel, the small downtown feel, the ferries coming and going. However, I was very saddened by Bremerton at the same time. It is a dying city. Most of the cute downtown shops were closed; the only people I saw were just walking to the ferry, or to the naval buildings to start their shifts.
The potential of Bremerton is pretty vast. The tourist industry could really take off if the right people took of some of the empty stops downtown, which is within walking distance of the ferry. It broke my heart walking around what was once a thriving port that is now almost deserted.
I had breakfast at a cute mom and pop, Sweet and Smokey Diner, that had been there for generations. I sat at the bar where there was an old photo album. I started flipping through it which caught the attention of the little old lady who was my waitress. She told me all about the diner, the scandals and how the diner and the people who worked there were her whole life.
Her favorite story was how a young dishwasher married a waitress who was 30 years older than him. I can see why, that must have been the talk of the town! It turned out, that despite the town whispers, he loved her. He really did. They were married for a few decades before she grew ill. He took care of her until she passed and he couldn’t handle her loss. He became an alcoholic and lost everything. My waitress took pity on the man and gave him a job back at the diner where he met his late wife so many years ago. He stopped showing up after his second pay check. She still has hope for him though, and is waiting for him to come back to his job.
We chatted for way too long, she told me story after story. She shared with me how she too felt the loss of her will to live when her late husband passed. She was driving one morning to a town nearby when the sun was rising over the mountains and she knew, she knew that she didn’t want to die. That she wanted to live. The beauty of our home brought her back to reality. It took her a year before she had that moment. When she told me this, she wasn’t sitting by me. She was somewhere else, I can only imagine where. I’m glad that the sun rose that day for her. I am blessed to have met her and to have heard her stories. Such a beautiful person is a gift to our world, so full of love and generosity.
She told me that she had no desire to see other countries because ours was so wonderful and it had it all. She has traveled all over the United States and Washington is her home and always will be. I couldn’t agree with her more on both points. However, I do hope to see the world someday.

I met her on the first morning of my trip.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Part 3: Making the Leap to an Ultramarathon: Advice from Top Ultramarathon Bloggers

 Are you preparing to make the leap to an ultramarathon? Throughout this interview series, top ultra bloggers have shared their personal experiences and advice to help you accomplish your first ultramarathon. They have covered the most difficult aspects of running an ultra, debunked the common myths and misconceptions, and are now sharing their real, personal accounts of their first ultra. When asked “what do you wish you had known before running your first ultra?”, they each learned unique lessons during that first ultra experience.

What You Should Know Before Running Your First Ultra
Once you’ve gone to your other runner friends and have searched extensively through Google, you may still be left with some questions and surprises on race day. To help you have a better idea of what to prepare for and expect, we asked these top bloggers what they wish they had known before running their first ultramarathon. Each had unique experiences that stemmed into lessons learned:
 Nordictrack Interview Quotes-14.png“My first ultra was awesome, until it wasn't... the first 50k was smooth, effortless, and exhilarating running 30+ minutes ahead of 2nd place. The kicker? I was running a 50 miler! I had gone out way too fast, been carrying way too much water, and I should have researched the course a LOT more.  
I went off course around mile 37 and did an extra 5 miles. Not only did it frustrate me that I lost the huge lead, it also made me wish I knew the course better. Around mile (for me) 42 my hips were killing me. I rarely trained with a pack or even a handheld for that matter, but on race day I wanted to "make sure" I had enough fluids. The added weight from my 100 oz H2O bladder threw my gait off and after 4-5 hours of running, I was paying for it.  
To top it all off, the pace I was going was far from sustainable. It would have been great for a 50k, but the additional 30k (where the race begins for most in a 50 miler) turned into a struggle. I went from being on-pace for a sub 8 hour, 50 mile debut on a mountainous course to walking / limping / dragging my aching body across the finish line (55 miles later) in around 11 hours.
So what did my experience in that first ultra teach my now more experienced self?” Nordictrack Interview Quotes_v copy 11.png Nordictrack Interview Quotes-13.png“When I ran my first ultra, I literally knew nothing about them. I was in my early 20’s, had completed a handful of marathons, and paced a friend running his first 50 miler and thought, “that was fun, I should try that.” Two months later, I had signed up for my first 50 miler.  
I approached the start line with casual ease, wearing a cotton tank top and shorts, carrying a handheld water bottle and wearing a hat that I had worn during training runs. I didn’t have special trail shoes, a watch, or even a drop bag. It was just me, myself, and the trails. And honestly, I had a pretty great race. I was even decently fast.  
That said, I did experience a pretty epic bonk around mile 42. It was purely a nutrition problem as I hadn’t eaten much at the start and likely wasn’t eating much during the actual event. I wish I had known just how important nutrition is when it comes to racing, and wish I had been more prepared when it came to taking in calories and drinking water.” Nordictrack Interview Quotes-12.png“I wish I had known how hard it can be physically and mentally for a long time. You know if you ran a 10k, let’s say you start to hurt with 2 miles left, so you are talking 10-15 minutes of suffering left? Even if you are only running 10 minute pace that is 20 minutes of mental and physical struggle.
In an ultra, you could be at mile 70 in a 100 miler and it is getting dark and you have 30 miles left to go in the dark woods, which equates to many hours of suffering. You can’t prepare for that, you just have to experience it.”
  Nordictrack Interview Quotes_v copy 10.png Nordictrack Interview Quotes-15.png“I wish I had known just how important a strong crew team was. I had a last minute crew thrown together, wrong coordinates were handed out, missed crew stations happened, I ran out of water, it was a rough go of it.  I wanted to quit the race. I had started walking, sat down for a long while, and had basically given up until a young lady, also named Katie, found me on the course. She gave me water and food and helped me get to the next aid station. Once we reached the aid station, I stopped my watch, sat down, called my mom and told her I quit and to come and get me. As soon as I hung up, everyone at the aid station started cheering me on, saying I could do it, and that I should at least go to the next aid station. I called my mom back, told her to met me at the next aid station. Started my watch back up I ended up running with Katie the last 18 miles. I thought that time spent at the aid station, letting them convince me to continue on took forever. It turns out it was just over 1 minute according to my watch and official time. I never realized before how something as simple as a little encouragement can go such a long way, and that having the proper support can be a huge game changer.” IN ESSENCE
Regardless of the amount of research or training you do before your first ultra, there will inevitably be lessons you learn the hard way. Some things you just have to experience in order to know what you really need. From these bloggers’ accounts, though, you now have a little more insight into what you should know before your first ultramarathon. Their first hand experiences can help you better prepare when it comes to pacing, training, nutrition, details of the race, and a crew team.
Each ultramarathon racing experience will be different - for every runner and for every race. However, after reading this interview series and hearing what seasoned professionals have to say about the sport, we hope you feel more prepared and ready to tackle your very first ultra. It's like any other endeavour - learn, plan, prepare. If they can do it, you can too! THE ULTRA BLOGGERS
NordicTrack is thankful for the bloggers that participated in this interview project and shared their knowledge on ultrarunning! If you’d like to follow them and read more about their adventures and experiences as ultrarunners, visit their websites!
Thomas Reiss -
Jen Segger -