Monday, March 12, 2012

3 races, 64.2 miles, lots of fun times!

That's a lot of running!

The focus this winter was trail running.  To help celebrate turning the big 4-0 this year, Bethany was going to sign up for the 50k, so naturally I said I'd run it with her.  (Do I have "SUCKER" tattooed on my forehead?!)  Turns out we were not alone--Lynn and Molly said they wanted to run it too so we had more company and the training was quite fun!

The Richmond Road Runners sponsors two trail runs leading up to Holiday Lake, a 10 miler in early December (Bear Creek) and a 35k (Willis River) in January.  Lots of our friends ran the two as well, so we made weekends out of both races.  Last year was the first time I had run Bear Creek, so I knew the course and what to expect.  This year I finished 15 minutes faster, but I think alot of that time is due to the fact that we didn't get lost in the last 2 miles like last year.  Here's a small sampling of our group prerace: me, Lynn, Bryan, Molly, Bethany, Emmie, and Jill.

Christmas came and went, and soon we were gearing up for the Willis River 35k.  This race starts in the same place as the 10 miler, but runs in the opposite direction.  That other direction must be much lower in elevation, as it was beyond MUDDY.  We're talking suck-the-shoes-off-your-feet muddy.  The course is an out and back, and I felt good up to about mile 15.  Then I got really sick of skirting around all the damn mud.  Molly and I ended up coming into the finish line together; we made the 5 hour cut off and had we wanted to keep going, we could've done the 50k.  No thanks!  I needed a shower, chili, and time in front of the fire.  We had 2 crock pots of chili cooking while we ran, and I can't tell you how delicious it tasted post race!!!  Of course I brought cupcakes.
 Dirty legs!
 Glad to be done: Cindy, Jill, Bethany, Lynn, me, and Molly
 Doggies playing!
 Joey and Lulu Snuggling
Bethany and Jake (Sophie is the brown lump in front)

At the finish of the 35k I couldn't imagine running for another 2+ hours.  I was a bit nervous heading into Holiday Lake, mainly because I didn't know what the course would be like.  I heard there wasn't as much mud and more fire roads.  The four of us doing the race all stayed at a nice B&B in Appomatox not far from the race site.  The state park where the race is held has bunk houses where most people stay--yuck.  We were much more comfy in our carriage house, which had a full kitchen, plenty of hot water, and breakfast on Sunday morning.  Bethany and I drove down together, and pulled in to the B&B just before Molly and Lynn.  We found our rooms, dumped our stuff, ate a quick bite and headed to the packet pick up/race meeting.

This 50k is really well attended by top trail running legends.  There was one guy sitting at our table that the race director introduced--he had just the previous year run ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  The kid is just 23 years old and has written a book about his experience.  Such an amazing accomplishment.  I felt totally out of my league.

Packets picked up, it was time to head home and hop in bed.  I think we were all asleep by 9:30--we were hoping to be in bed much earlier, but that race director likes to talk!  Race morning dawned, blessedly warmer than the 19 degrees originally forecast.  We had all packed umpteen different layers, so were well covered for any possibility.  We got to the race start, checked in, peed, and it was time to go!  It was dark!  The race started at 6:30am, so we're all standing around with headlamps on.  Love the low-key attitude at Holiday Lake--there was no professional singing of the national anthem, so everyone just sang on their own.  Can't say it sounded that great, but it was special in it's own way.  "Ready! Set! Go!" marked the start, and we were all off heading up the hill.

By the first aid station at mile 4 it was warm (about 40 degrees), so we all peeled off some layers and kept going.  An hour in, poor Bethany tripped and really whacked her thigh on some hidden rock.  We walked a bit, chatted her up, and tried to put it behind us.  She is one tough cookie!  Her leg was swollen for the entire race, and she had quite a contusion.  There were definitely fewer hills and less mud than Willis River, so we tootled along well for the first loop.
The last 2ish miles before the turn around, the trail hugs the lake and gets very winding and full of trip hazards.  It was here that Lynn took a bad spill, landing on her shoulder.  Like the Tough Mudder she is, she got up, brushed off, maybe cursed a bit, but kept going.  She was in some serious pain, and coming into the half way point, we could see her shoulder wasn't right. (Turns out she had dislocated her shoulder!)

Bethany's husband Bart and Lynn's boyfriend Mike had come out and were there at the turn around.  I refilled my camelback (made the mistake of adding 2 Nuun's to it--too much!), we all refueled, and headed back out. The weather was getting colder, and the wind had picked up significantly. 
 By mile 21 I was hitting my wall.  We were 5 hours in, and I just was running out of steam.  Bethany and Molly were feeling good, so they kept on, and Lynn hung back and kept me company until mile 28.  We made it to this last aid station with 20 mintues to spare before the cut off.  At this point I was almost hoping not to make it, just so I could be done.  The guys manning the tent, however, pushed food at us, and sent us on our merry way.  Ooof.  Now I was on my own (Lynn ran down Bethany and Molly and they all finished in under 7 hours).  Close to where Bethany fell in the morning, Bart and Mike found me.  Bart was a dear and ran/walked with me for the last 5ish miles.  That last aid station 4 miles out was a turning point for me.  Most of the trail became downhill, and I was able to talk myself into a little 4 mile "recovery run" to get to the end.  I was so glad I finished!  I can't believe I propelled myself, on foot, for over 33 miles!
We celebrated with margaritas and mexican food, and then cupcakes before hitting the sack!  The four of us girls were so hungry the next morning, and while our B&B breakfast was yummy, we could've eaten at least 3 times as much food than what they gave us.  Recovery after that race felt slow--I was super tired all week following that, and even swimming wore me out!  Just 3 weeks later was my next race--the Napa Valley Marathon!  (more on that to come!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yes, I has been a while!

Every few weeks or so, I come to my blog page and think "I really should update this."  Then I get overwhelmed by the task and put it on the back burner.  You know the back burner WAAAAAAAYYY back there.  The I-really-don't-want-to-think-about-it burner shoved into some obscure corner sharing space with the clothes you'll never fit into again but hate to get rid of, the gifts from the mother in law that you can't really get rid of either (hello, Lladro statue), and sewing projects that will never be finished, all obscured by the haze of "what do I need to accomplish today" demands.

I've had a tough year.  If you've read any of the previous blog posts, you know I was training for IMCdA.  Maybe you even gleaned that my heart wasn't really in it.  You may have realized (or if you are a friend on Facebook know full well) that I am in the midst of a single-parenting stint--hopefully NOT permanent--while the hubby is off gallivanting (and earning a paycheck to keep us fed, clothed, housed, and vacationed) in Europe.  The kids and I did spend 5 weeks over there this summer visiting, doing enviable stuff like going to Greece and the Dalmatian Coast, but since we got back and jumped whole-hog into high school and middle school, I've been floundering.  I am not one to pop a pill to make everything better.  Maybe what I need to do is just blog about it....

IMCdA Race report:

This was my first time training, and then racing, without the support of my husband.  Damn, that sucks.  Lots of juggling kid time, making them fend for themselves while I rode my bike for umpteen gazillion hours.  I think I did a fair job of getting in the majority of the workouts, and doing ok on them, but by race day I was over it.  I think it was the day we arrived in Coeur d'Alene that, while lounging on our great deck over looking the lake and drinking a beer, I told my fellow racers that I was seriously contemplating just parking my ass exactly there, doing exactly that, on race day.  A dear friend overheard and got quite upset with me--basically told me off for having a bad attitude.  And you know what?  He was right.  Ironman is a long day, and heading into it with your mind not in the game is just plain stupid.  Well, fast forward a few days and race day dawned with me looking forward to just having it over with.  The swim went surprisingly ok--I swam a 1:25:46 (IMLP was 1:24:44, IMFL was 1:25:31)--and right within range of my other IMs.  It took about 10 miles for my hands and feet to warm up on the bike, but then I started to enjoy the first loop.  I didn't like those rollers, especially since I still have some real issues decending.  The second loop of the bike plain ol' sucked.  I did find my friend DG out there struggling, so we rode together for a good part of that second loop.  I got through the bike in a not so great 7:39:30 ( but still close to my other times IMLP 7:38, IMFL 7:13) and headed out for the run.  Bleh.  Let's not talk about that.  By this point my mind was saying I wasn't having any fun, and isn't it so nice to be able to enjoy these beautiful views by walking.  I finished with my slowest IM time of 16:14:10.  The finish chute was fun, as DG and I rocked out to AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long."  It was time for the summer to begin.

NW Wine Tour:

My daughter was off at camp and my son had flown out to California with my mother in law the week before IMCdA so I was childless.  I was able to join my good friends the Mathaletes and Lynn for a little wine tour from Walla Walla to Portland.  The traveling was very relaxed--Missy was in charge of the schedule, Greg the driving, so all Lynn and I had to to was sit back and enjoy (and drink!)  It was my first time out that way and I was blown away by those endless expanses of sky and wheat.  We stayed in some really nice places, and had some great wines.  I was bummed to have to return to the real world, but I was anxious to see my kiddos.  I flew from Portland to Santa Rosa,  and reunited with Joey at my in-law's.  Such a tough life having to wine taste all over Sonoma county for another few days after all that...

 Family Vacation:

I didn't see my husband for almost 6 weeks between June and late July.  I spent my anniversary with my in-laws, bemoaning the 9 hour time difference between California and Kosovo.  I was so looking forward to our European adventure--5 weeks over there with 10 day trips to Greece and the Dalmatian Coast planned.  Lynn (otherwise known as the fourth Oliver child) joined us for the first two weeks of Kosovo/Greece.  I had tried planning a good itinerary, but messed up some timing/ferry aspects so we ended up spending ALOT of time in the car.  I must say though, Greece really is all it's cracked up to be.  I don't think we had a bad meal anywhere.  Getting around in a car wasn't bad, save driving through Athens.  And the weather was awesome.  It would've been perfect had I been getting along better with my husband.  Let's just say that long absences are not good, and leave it at that.

By the time we headed to the Dalmatian coast, Joe and I were getting along better but I was getting sick.  Stuck in a car for 9+ hours is no fun.  I truly felt like I was going to die.  I wished I could've seen more of Dubrovnik, but we all really enjoyed Kotor.  By the 5th day I was finally feeling better and we headed to the island of Brac.  Our hotel there was a funny place, but by the Adriatic was gorgeous.  I think the kids got awfully tired of eachother and us, and were ready to head home after 3 weeks away.  Such is the case with teenagers.  We did all travel home together for a last beach week hurrah.


Maddy started high school and Joey started middle school.  Unfortunately Joe had to go back to Europe on Labor Day, so he missed seeing them off on their first day.  How is it my kids grew up so fast?!  Here's a picture of them showing Maddy's first day of kindergarden next to her first day of high school:
I can't remember what I did all fall, other than schelp kids hither and yon (music lessons, scouts, etc), run some road races, and sign up for *gasp* my first 50k trail run and another Ironman in 2012. Yeah, I can be talked into just about anything.  Joe and I spent a nice weekend in St. Michaels MD for his birthday while Lynn hung with the kids at home.  Also in October we adopted another Vizsla, Jake, who came to us from St Paul, MN.  He is a big galoot of a dog--he outweighs Sophie by almost 20lbs--but is such a lovebug.

Joe's parents came for a week at Christmas, and soon I was staring down the barrel of turning 44.  January 3rd marked the one year anniversary of Joe having taken the travel job, and I felt like I had spent most of 2011 as a single parent.  Bleh.

I was glad to be able to spend some fun time with my trail running buddies.  I can't believe I am now an ultramarathoner!  The race was just a few weeks ago, and then I was able to jet off to Europe (a new concession--I get to go gallivant with the husband every now and then) for a weekend in Switzerland with Joe.  I know, I should write a race report for the 50k, and I will try!  Otherwise, that leaves you all caught up on all things Kate.  Looking forward:  Next weekend is the Napa Marathon (more wine tasting!), then TriCamp, then Easter break in Europe, then race season!  Summer travel plans have yet to be nailed down, but Joe and I are looking at some fun options.  xoxo everyone!