Sunday, December 11, 2011

Isle du Bois 50K Race Report

The first annual Isle du Bois trail race was held on December 10, 2011.  I truly can NOT even say enough for how much fun this race was and how superb Endurance Buzz Adventures did in putting on this event!  Perfect in every single way.  The weather was great for running but probably a bit cool for spectators and aid station volunteers.  27 degrees at 8:00 race start and I think it got up to about 48 through the day with abundant sunshine and a light breeze.  The RD, David Hanenburg, really put his personal stamp on this race with it's emphasis on being green and reducing environmental impact.  There was no race packet bag with junk inside which was nice.  We received bamboo t-shirts which are SO soft. I'm in love with the shirt!  It was a cup free race so everyone was told to bring their own water bottle or hydration system.  Love it!
Brance, Mike and I before the race

Dave and I got up at 4:20 am, threw our stuff in the car and was off for the 2 hour drive down to Pilot Point, TX for the race.  It's held on the beautiful Isle du Bois trails at Lake Ray Roberts which is located 55 miles north of downtown Dallas.  We arrived 30 minutes before race time, just enough time to pick up my bib and shirt, make a quick trip to the bathroom and set up my drop bag.  There was big spacious bathrooms with hot showers in the parking lot in front of the trail head..nice!!

The race started promptly at 8:00 am and I could tell from the start that things were just clicking and it was going to be a good day.  :)   The first loop was 1.2 miles on a paved path and then 10 miles on the single track wooded rocky trails.  At about 4.5 miles we came to Larry and Teresa's aid station which ROCKED! Hugs from both of them, hot broth, oranges, bananas, potato chips, peanut M&M's and pretzels.  I stayed a minute or two to eat and chat then was off to finish the first loop.  I finished that loop feeling great and better yet, not one fall yet!! I'm so clumsy and these trails, while not terribly hilly, are very technical and rocky in sections so my main goal for the race was to not fall and get hurt.  One lap down, two to go!

Larry and Teresa's aid station, a welcome sight

The wonderful Teresa, the RD of Cross Timbers Trail Run

Coming in from lap 1

Lap two felt good, no major aches or pains and I kept thinking to myself that this was one of the best days EVER.  :)  Doing what I love to do so much on such gorgeous trails with good weather and like minded people all around me.  I fell for the first time at 14 miles.  It was a soft landing and no harm done.  Then at 16 miles I fell again, another soft landing thank goodness.  At 19 miles I fell again and this time came down on my knee kind of hard but lucky for me I fell in the dirt and not on any rocks.  Finished up this loop still feeling good and without any major ouchies or pains, just some knee and calf soreness starting.  When I finished up this loop I noticed my Garmin said 22 miles so I knew that the course was going to be a little long and end up at about 33 miles.  Fine by me, I was having a blast!

Lap three was quite a bit slower than the previous two laps but I was having fun.  Came to Larry and Teresa's aid station one last time and gave them one last hug.  About 2 miles later I was running down a rocky downhill and stumbled.  I'm not sure exactly what happened but it happened so fast that I didn't have time to bring my arm up to break my fall.  Came down on my head and busted my lip and the side of my head on a rock or root.  As soon as I raised up I could tell it was bad...there was blood all over the ground and my clothes.  I reached up and felt of my teeth and they all seemed to be intact so I started running again.  I knew I was getting close to the finish and there was NO way I was not finishing after 7.5 hours of running!  I could feel a flap of skin hanging from my bottom lip and knew I'd probably need stitches so I called Dave to tell him what happened and to load up my drop bag and be ready to go when I got to the finish.  An interesting thing happened...I stopped feeling the calf and knee pain! It's like it just disappeared.  Maybe my mouth pain overrode the other pain or maybe it was adrenaline..not sure.  The last two miles were long but I moved as fast as I could and got there pretty quickly.  Finished just under 8 hours for 33 miles total according to Garmin.  There was a paramedic at the finish line that took a look and said yep, some stitches would be necessary.  He had already given Dave directions to an emergency medical center so we headed there immediately.  Was in and out really fast with 11 stitches, a tetanus shot and a lot of swelling.  The doctor said I'll have a noticeable scar but all I can think of is that it could of been a LOT worse with missing teeth or a busted head.
Headed out for the final lap
Crossing the finish line

Bloody bib...this ones a keeper

We stopped at Sonic for a chocolate shake and a grilled cheese which I ate by tearing into itty bitty pieces.  It tasted fantastic since I hadn't eaten anything solid all day and was soooo hungry and thirsty.  We made it home about 8:30 pm and I crashed early.  Today my mouth is sore (duh), swollen and my gums, chin and lips are black & blue.

As much as it sucked getting hurt, this race is SO much fun and so well organized that I would actually do it all over again.  It's that great!!!  A must-do and I will be back next year for sure.  That trail and I are bonded now..I have my IDB scar to prove it.  :)

*** Later update, went to the ER two days after the race because of headache, nausea and dizziness and confirmed that I have a concussion.  ( I still love this race! )

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Palo Duro 50K Trail Race Report

This was my second ultra (read about my first here) and my second year running Palo Duro and I still think it's one of the most scenic and fun trail races there is.   The organization is perfection and there is great campsites right there in the park where the race is.  In case you can't tell, I love this race!

We headed from Norman, OK to Canyon, TX on Friday morning.  There were a bunch of people from OTRA coming and we reserved two side by side campsites so once we made it to the canyon, we checked in at the park office and headed down to our site.  We set up tents and everyone started arriving.  There was a sense of excitement in the air..even the people that run this race every year are excited and glad to be back.  :)

After everyone got situated we all drove to West Texas A&M where packet pick-up and the pasta dinner was held.  Pasta, salad, bread and was all great.  After the meal the race director talked for a bit and answered questions.  He also had maps on the big screens around the room and showed everyone exactly where they would be running.

We headed back to the canyon after our meal and spent a few hours playing washers, goofing off and laying out running gear for the morning.  It gets really cold in the canyon at night so we piled on the covers and went to bed pretty early.

Race morning!!  Temps were upper 40's and a light breeze.  I was up early getting on my clothes.  I went with a running skirt, tank top, running sleeves and headlight.  I was freezing but knew it was suppose to heat up into the 90's during the day and dressing light was a must.  I ate lightly, just a piece of bread with some peanut butter and sliced banana.  I double and triple checked my hydration vest pockets and drop bag to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.  We headed down to the race start at about 6:30 to check in with the timekeeper and use the porta potty one last time.  One thing I noticed was the stars and moon..the sky was so beautiful!  So clear and lit up.

The bagpiper started playing and we were off!  The 50 milers and 50K'ers took off together and the 20K folks would start 30 minutes later.  There was really only about a mile of congestion and then it was pretty clear all around me.  I would see headlights bobbing around in front of me and occasionally behind me but pretty much I was already running alone.  I enjoyed the quiet and the dark and by about 4 miles in, the morning sun was peeking up over the side of the canyon and an orange/pink glow was bathing the trail and canyon walls.  This is my FAVORITE part of the race.  (well, and the bagpiper)   I was happy and feeling great, just running along loving life!  The first 4 miles of the course are rolling hills with mostly hard packed dirt and sand but some rocky sections. My race nutrition was going to be simple, just one Roctane gel and one Endurolyte on the hour.  I came into the start/finish at 6 miles and found my drop bag that Dave had set out for me.  I swapped my headlight for my visor and was out within a minute or two.  The next two laps would be 12.5 miles and I'd get to see some of the prettier sections with rocky bluffs and cliffs.  The trails get pretty technical in the middle of this loop but it's also breathtakingly beautiful.  I was steady and feeling great this whole lap and came back into the start/finish area at exactly 4 hours.  I figured I was definitely going to go sub 7 hours and was pretty excited everything was feeling so great!  While in the start/finish Peggy taped up my arch since it was hurting some and I ate some banana nut bread and a Honey Stinger waffle.  I headed back out feeling excited and ready to get this last lap done.  It was starting to heat up quite a bit and I had tied on a frozen bandana/tie thing around my neck.  I got it at Academy and it's suppose to stay cool for a long time but it didn't seem to help as far as I could tell and was more of a nuisance than anything else.

The wheels came off about 5 minutes after leaving the start/finish.  :(  All of a sudden my mild arch pain turned into excrutiating pain with every step and at the same time, the opposite knee started hurting bad enough I had trouble going down hills and had to start hobbling down.  And my stomach went south too...everything at once hit. I had left my ginger in my drop bag and didn't want to go back for it.  I took two Ibuprofen and hoped I could just keep making forward progress no matter how slow.  (I know you aren't suppose to take Ibuprofen during exercise so you don't have to warn me in case you were just thinking about doing so...)   : P

My friend Brad caught up to me at about mile 21 and he was suffering pretty bad himself with ITB pain.  He is a tough cookie!  We soldiered on together both hurting but determined to make it to the finish even as our time goals were drifting farther away.  We tried running all the flats and hobbling up and down the hills but did have to do quite a bit of speed walking too.
Brad and I on the last section of trail

About to hit the pavement and the finish line

When we were getting close to the end and on our last little stretch of trail before turning onto the road for the finish, I saw Dave, Holly and Jason up ahead waiting to cheer me in and I just lost it!  Started bawling like a baby.  I don't know where that came from but I love those guys and seeing them there waiting on me did me in.  All the emotion came pouring out.  We finished in 7:31:03 and I went straight to a chair.  Melissa got me ice and iced my knee while Dave brought me ice cold water, veggie burger and cookies.  What a great feeling...even though I was slower than I had hoped to be!  Just finishing after feeling so bad felt like sweet victory.
That finish line was such a beautiful sight!

After the race we had a great meal that our "camp cook", Jessica made.  Chicken fried steak and red beans & rice.  Soooooooooo good!  My knee felt pretty battered and getting around was a chore.  I've never had knee issues so this was a new thing for me.  As I write this it's been 3 days and the knee is still sore but feeling better every day.  My arch is still really sore and I am doing massage with a tennis ball, ultrasound and Arnica on it.

We had pancakes on Sunday then loaded up and headed back home.  I had brought my shiny new beautiful mountain bike to ride but was way to tired and sore to do any biking Sunday.  Darn it!

I'm already looking forward to next year! Palo Duro is a magical, beautiful place.                              

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Marathon + .01 Training Run

My training plan for the Palo Duro 50K called for a 26 mile trail run this weekend.  I headed out to my favorite hilly trails early this morning.  I was excited to get started and had a feeling it was going to be a great run. And it totally was!!!  :)

Can you spot the deer?

Dave even came out with his mountain bike and rode by me a few times to offer words of encourgement and bring me cold water.  I loaded up my vest with 70 ounces of water, dates, energy bars and S! caps.  The first 10 mile loop was blissful with the outside temp only 59 degrees.  There was a breeze blowing through the trees and I was totally in my element and loving every second.  I purposely picked the hilliest routes to help me get ready for Palo Duro, although I think the route today was much hillier than what I'll see at PD.  The second 10 mile loop was a little warmer but still comfortable.  At the 20 mile mark I started running some flatter sections of the trails and finished up strong.  I couldn't be at 26 miles and stop there though, right?  At first I thought I'd tack on the .2 to reach marathon distance, but kept going until my Garmin hit 26.3 so that I went OVER marathon distance today.  Awesome!

I'm sore but happy.... last really long run done.  Next weekend will be a 16 miler and the weekend after that a 12 miler. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DoWackaDo 50K Race Report

It's been a couple weeks since I ran the DoWackaDo trail race and I've been having trouble figuring out how to write a report about a DNF (my first).

I signed up for the DWD 25K months ago.  But as the race got closer and I started looking at my Palo Duro 50K training schedule I realized that I was going to need a 24 miler that weekend.  I decided to bump up from the 25K to the 50K so that I could get in a good training run for Palo Duro.  I knew I wouldn't be fully trained going into the race but thought I could at least walk out last 5 or 6 miles if I had to. 

I decided do some food/hydration experimenting with this race.  I was wanting to take in only "real food" during the race and try to get by with no gels or sugary sports drinks.  I made my own energy bars (dates, puffed brown rice, honey, dried cherries, sesame seeds, cashews, cocoa, cacao nibs, coconut oil, almond butter, flax seeds and chia seeds) and carried a couple in the the back of my vest.  I also packed dates and beef jerky in the easy to reach front pocket of my hydration vest.  I brought several cartons of coconut water to mix with plain water to carry in my vest.

Energy Bars made
 We drove down to Erick, OK on Friday afternoon.  After stopping at the Roger Miller Museum to grab our packets, we headed out to Sandy Sanders WMA to set up our tent at the race start.  There was a burn ban in that county (as well as the rest of Oklahoma I am sure) so no campfires, but we were able to bring our propane stove.  Dave cooked up some awesome black bean burgers, turkey burgers, roasted bell peppers and corn on the cob.  We turned in pretty early and were treated to the sweet sound of coyotes singing to us.  It was a gorgeous night and we slept wonderfully.  :) 

Dave at the Roger Miller Museum

I got up rested and ready to run! 

Beautiful western Oklahoma sunset

Our home sweet campground

Kimmie and I before the race

Brad, Kim, me, Peg and Melissa

Peggy, Melissa and I

Some OTRA friends showed up Saturday morning so I visited with them until the race started.  The gun went off and the first hour of running was about as perfect as it gets.  The temps were in the low 50's and the early morning light so pretty.  I concentrated on not going out to fast and just relaxing into the run.  So far so good. 
Something happened to one of the trail markers so most people took a wrong turn and we ended the loop with 12.3 miles instead of 16.  They remedied this with a short out and back near the race start and the sign was fixed so that the next loop was the full 16 miles.  Well let me tell ya.....the part we missed the first loop was the TOUGHEST part of the whole course!  Loooooong extremely steep uphills.  And the sun was out and the day was heating up. 
Plenty of steep hilly fun!
I ran strong and felt great till I hit about 18 miles and then the sun, heat, hills and lack of hill training started catching up to me.  I slowed way down and would have spurts of feeling ok and then feeling overheated and bad.  Upon coming to the aid station at my mile 24, I decided to drop.  I had the training run I needed for Palo Duro and just didn't have it in me to keep going.  I was totally fine with dropping at the time but have to admit I have second guessed myself since then and do wish I'd stuck it out and followed my plan of walking it out if I needed to.  It was about 90 degrees when I made it back to the start finish and I was pretty dehydrated and tired.  Joel had a delicious meal at the finish line that I took full advantage of!   There was brisket, coleslaw, baked beans, mac & cheese and rolls.  And peach cobbler.. mmm..peach cobbler.  :)  I have heard over and over that there are lots of rattlesnakes in western OK and to be on the lookout.  I didn't see any personally while there, but they did pull one off of the course right before I ran through.  Cool!

Diamondback rattlesnake

As for my nutrition experiments..I'm happy to report that everything worked.  I took two S! caps during the race, ate one energy bar, 3 dates and a handful of beef jerky.  I did get behind in hydration and I think it might of been because the water/coconut water got warm. Warm coconut water is kinda ick which caused me to slow way down on drinking.  I forgot to put ice in my vest before going out for the second loop. I never really felt low on energy at any point during the race, just felt overheated and dehydrated. So I have to give all the food a big thumbs up and I'll probably do the same thing for Palo Duro. 

Joel puts on a GREAT event and I can see this race getting bigger every year.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and there were some talented athletes out there.  He added a 50 mile race this year and a few finished despite the heat.  I'm sure I'll be back next year, we had a blast! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bushwacking at Lake McMurtry.

OTRA made a little road trip to Lake McMurtry in Stillwater, OK on Saturday for our long run which is about a 1.5 hour drive from home.  I was looking forward to this all week! McMurtry holds a special place in my heart since it's where I ran my first ultra
We decided to be there by 6:30 am to try and beat the heat.  According to the forecast, the high for Saturday was 105 degrees.  Ick! (Please fall, get here early!)

After just 2 minutes of hitting the trail we knew we were going to be in for some slow running. Recent storms had left the trails in really bad shape.  Downed trees, limbs and debris all over the trails.  In some places it was hard to even see if you were on the trail!  To make it even more difficult, our extremely hot and dry summer had caused the trees to prematurely go dormant and drop their leaves, so in places we were running in deep leaves, sticks and branches. 

Clearing the trail? Or goofing off.. 

Lots of this.
Trail blocked again.
Finding ways around the downed trees.
If you look close you can see Don trying to make it through.
But, in typical OTRA fashion we had a great time.  :)  I had planned for 16-18 miles but had to stop at 13 and call it good.  The temps were nearing 100 degrees and I'd let myself run out of water and get pretty dehydrated on the last loop.  We soaked in the lake, changed clothes and drove into Stillwater for some lunch.  All of us (especially Don!) have some pretty impressive scratches and scrapes to show for our bushwacking trail run.  Even with all the storm damage out there, I love those trails.  Can't wait to go back in April for Lake McMurtry Trail Race!

And as a side note, thanks Ken for all the awesome trail markings from the last was the only way we were able to keep from getting lost!  Amazing to see all those big huge trees uprooted and huge limbs all over the ground, yet see a paper plate with "Tell Pat hi and wish her a happy birthday!" still looking like brand new on the tree before the aid station!  We were thanking and blessing you every time we spotted a pink ribbon or arrow pointing our way!  :) 

All in all, I got in some good training for Do-Wacka-Do which is 3 weeks away.  Still undecided on which distance I'll do, the 25K or the 50K.