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Archive for the ‘Race Reports – Running’

Published December 18th, 2013

C-C-C-Cajun C-C-C-Coyote 100


Buckle and age group award.

I never expected this race would take more mental fortitude to finish than Cascade Crest.  In reviewing the elevation profile, it make Rocky Raccoon look hilly.  Fortunately I had heard the course has some steep upsie downsies, albeit short.  I knew I couldn’t take the course for granted.

Cascade Crest really wiped me out, and with my father’s death and getting sick a couple of times, my training wasn’t ideal.  However, I did get my long runs in.  (My 50th birthday run was a huge confidence boost).  I figured it’d be best to show up rested and sans injury, and that I had enough endurance where I could at least finish.

We stayed in Opelousas (which we dubbed OompaLoompas), which is about 40 miles from the start/finish.  (The Best Western in Ville Platte, the closer town, was sold out).  Got in late on Thursday, but slept in, grabbed some breakfast, and headed to the S/F to meet up with friends Kelly, his wife Jo, and Burke for a shakeout run on Friday.  We of course had been monitoring the weather; winter storm Cleon swept through north Texas resulting in treacherous icy conditions.  While things were fine in the south we did get colder than normal temps.  It was in the low 40s on Friday; on Wednesday it had been close to 80!


Published November 13th, 2013

Cascade Crest part 2: Show Time

I dedicate this report to my Dad, A. Raymond Rogers, who gracefully bowed out of this world on August 27 at age 87. I am grateful I had the chance to tell him about my latest adventure before he passed. I now share it with you.

We last left our intrepid heroine trying her best not to drive her darling bat shit crazy. (He would argue that happened long ago).

Due to client vacations, I was fortunate to have a light work week leading up to the race. Not the best thing for my wallet, but it gave me time to order, and pack, and reorder, and repack (and, um, reorder and repack) my drop bags. I heard horror stories of food running out at Leadville this year, so I packed enough gels and other nummies to feed an army. The aid stations are well stocked with “real” food, but I wanted to be prepared lest something didn’t sound appealing. My goal was to eat at least 100 calories every half an hour, and increase my caffeine intake as the day wore on. (I even packed some Starbucks DoubleShots in my drop bags at mile 33, 53 and 80). I would be running alone in the dark for several hours and did NOT want a repeat of my Rocky Raccoon sleepies. I met my friend Tracy — who was also running the race — for cupcakes the day before, then ate a hearty, yet healthy lunch and dinner. By 8:30 p.m. it was lights out.

While Cascade Crest can arguably be one of the tougher 100s out there, it has a very civilized start time: 10 a.m. Granted, most runners probably don’t get a heck of a lot of sleep the night before, but at least there’s no running around at Oh God Thirty gathering one’s things. Since they serve breakfast before the race, I just had some coffee and a banana at home. We were on the road by 7:30 a.m. for the hour+ drive to Easton.

Despite my trepidation over making cutoffs, I felt really good about the race. Sure, I knew I could have done more training wise, but at least I was showing up to the race healthy and injury-free. After grabbing some fruit, pancakes and sausages I milled about with the the other runners, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a bit. (I figured the “home court advantage” would serve me well; not only did I know at least a third of the field, I also knew at least 1 person at every aid station. It would be a welcome sight to see familiar faces who would provide me with encouragement and motivation along the way).

At 9 a.m. we gathered for the race briefing where Charlie Crissman formally handed the reigns over to the new race director, Rich White. He provided an update on the course, as well as explained what we could expect in terms of markings (heavily marked at intersections with a few confidence markers thrown in). However, given a major portion of the course would run along the PCT, he said that section wouldn’t be as heavily marked. (This would come in to play for me). We lined up at the start with about 15 minutes to go, and after both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems were sung we were off!


Published November 13th, 2013

Cascade Crest 100: The Build-up


Cascade Crest is the big leagues, and even though I’ve run a few gnarly trail races (Yakima Skyline, Beacon Rock, White River, Waldo), I knew I’d have to step things up.  I gave myself ample time to recover from Rocky Raccoon, and didn’t start my “formal” training until the beginning of May, although I worked in a few races in March and April.  The first was the Chuckanut 50K; pumped up on antibiotics and steroids to fight a lung infection I managed a cold, wet slog, barely beating last year’s time.  Next up was the American River 50 where I ran a PR in 11:22.  However, things went downhill after that.

While my lung infection had cleared, I still had a persistent cough — something that had plagued me for almost two years.  Thinking it might be acid reflux, a year ago my doctor put me on Prilosec; while the cough diminished it never went away.  We were both eager to fully eliminate it, so in mid April I started a 30-day grain elimination diet, thinking it could possibly be caused by an allergy to wheat and/or grain.  Knowing it could affect my races I waited to start it the day after running the Yakima Skyline 25K.

Last year I swore I’d never return to that race.  While the scenery is gorgeous, I don’t do well on steep, rocky descents — something this race is known for.  But with Cascade Crest coming up, I hiked up my big girl pants and gave it another go.  I was a good half hour ahead of last year’s time when disaster struck: after a particularly gnarly climb I decided to push the pace once I hit level ground.  My foot clipped a rock and I went down… HARD.  Both knees sustained deep gashes, enough to require a tetanus shot.

A week later I toed the line for the Capitol Peak 50-miler.  Between my trepidation over falling and my lack of energy due to my diet restrictions, it was a personal worst.  My only consolation was receiving a handmade mug for coming in DFL.  Two weeks later I once again earned that distinction — sans mug — at the Lost Lake 50K.  My 10-hour finish demoralized me and I questioned whether I was capable of — or deserved to be — running Cascade Crest.  There were more than 100 people on the wait list at that point, and I figured they were far more prepared than me.


The diet experiment left me lethargic and irritable, and although my cough had indeed quieted down, I didn’t think an allergy was to blame.  I started reintroducing grains back into my diet and my energy soon returned.  The fear of falling, however?  THAT stayed with me.  (Didn’t help that I took a couple more tumbles).

Then came my Bighorn 50 disaster.


Published February 12th, 2013

Rocky Raccoon 100, part deux: Shock the Monkey

Badass runner. Copyright 2013, Matt Hagen Photography.

Karl Meltzer is wrong — running 100 miles IS far.

My last attempt at Rocky Raccoon didn’t go so well.  I left Hunstville hobbled, dejected and cringing at my rookie mistakes.  I vowed to get the DNF monkey off my back.

So resolute was I to return I managed to register for the 2013 race even before the link went live on the Tejas Trails website (don’t mess with a woman on a mission).  As a result I was third on the list!  The race sold out within a couple of months, but not before several friends also signed up.  It was shaping up to be quite the vengeance party.

Unlike in past race reports, I won’t bore you with the minutiae of my training.  In short, I’d give it a B+.  Didn’t run as many miles as planned, especially during the week, but I committed to my long runs.  (Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 12 I ran five 50Ks, two trail marathons and a 50-mile training run).  Most of my runs were on trails, and I also worked in a couple of multi-loop runs to simulate the Rocky course.

My training almost got sidelined a couple of times due to a cold, but fortunately it wasn’t too severe.  The second time it hit was during my 3-week taper, and since there wasn’t much I could do to improve my fitness, I focused on rest and recovery (and obsessing about my race pacing, the weather, my gear choices, etc.)  By race week my cold was basically gone, save for a pesky cough.  But the burning in my chest was gone and my breathing had returned.  I was pretty confident I could waddle my way to the finish line within the 30-hour cutoff.


Published November 30th, 2012

Seattle Quadzuki 2012

As a member of both the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics, I’ve gotten a bit addicted to running races.  Now that I’m running ultras my addiction has lessened somewhat (I now try to limit to those races that will be good training runs for my goal races), but I decided I’d go for six “moons” for the Half Fanatics by running the Seattle “Quadzuki” — four halves in four days.  (I ran the full version — the Quadzilla — two years ago).

My darling and I put on the first race: the Wattle Waddle & Wittle Waddle.  While we intended it to be a low-key “fat ass” type of race — it’s on Thanksgiving Day, after all — unfortunately our maniacal and fanatical friends keep begging us to increase registration numbers.  In 2010 we limited it to 102 runners (the number of people who came over on the Mayflower); despite selling out only 78 people showed up due to a snowstorm.  We upped the number in 2011 to 150, and we had 148 finishers.  This year we capped it again at 150, but upped it to 200 due to popular demand.  While we had several no-shows, we also had people trying to get in day-of-race (for $50 cash we gave ’em a bib).

Day 1 — Wittle Waddle

Since we were still trying to find volunteers to man a couple of aid stations the week of the race, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to start my race.  (I was either going to start super early, then man a station myself, or run afterward).  But fortunately we got the needed volunteers and I could start pretty much on time.  However, just as I was about to go we got a call from the far aid station — he took off with just one jug of Gatorade and no water.  I hopped in my car, delivered the goods and got back to start about 40 minutes late.  However, it worked in my favor as I was able to cheer on the runners on the out & back.  (I also tried to disqualify them for several violations, but for some reason they didn’t take me seriously).

When I got to the mile 6.5 aid station, I found out our volunteers had a verbal altercation with some residents of the neighborhood.  Apparently they always hold a community turkey trot starting right where our station is located (it’s on a public paved trail).  The kids started swarming the table, grabbing at the chips and candy we had out for the runners.  The volunteer politely asked them to stop, but then one of the mothers started saying how it wasn’t fair that we’re not sharing. “It’s Thanksgiving!” she said.  Are you fucking kidding me?  These are people who live in a very affluent neighborhood, yet they’re encouraging their kids to take food they haven’t paid for?  Unbelievable.  Fortunately one of our more gruff runners came up just then and read the moms the riot act.  And if they try that shit next year, we’ll just have to remind them that WE have a permit to be there 🙂

This race was run just for fun; I didn’t care about my time (although I made sure my results are listed under “Empress Turkeytush”).  I walked and chatted with several runners and picked up trash along the way.  I also made a port-o-potty stop, but with about 3 miles to go nature called again.  I figured I could hold it until the finish, but running simply got things moving through my system more quickly.  I hate getting to that point — the faster I run the quicker I can get to a toilet, but the faster I run the more I run the risk of pooping myself before I get there.  Finally the finish came in to sight and I headed directly to the port-o-potty rather than check in to get my time recorded.  (I figured I could always get Weegee to change it any way!)  Finished in 2:28:47.


Published September 11th, 2012

Waldo 100K: It’s all about the hat


When it became clear I’d be running my 100th race of marathon distance or further in 2012 I started thinking about the perfect race to commemorate said feet, er, feat.  I wanted to challenge myself, so I considered the Cascade Crest 100.  I liked the thought of running 100 for my 100th, plus the timing was right for hitting #100 without having to cram in a bunch of races.  Problem was, the race scared the bejeezus out of me.  While I had become much more confident on the trails, this was varsity-level stuff.  Even with year-long preparation, I wasn’t sure I’d be up for it.

When a friend of mine suggested the Waldo 100K, I knew I found my race.  I’d still be running 100 for my 100th, it too was perfect timing (it’s a week before Cascade Crest), plus it would provide the challenge I sought without chewing me up (at least I hoped).  In order to earn the coveted Waldo hat, runners had to finish within 16 hours of the regular start, or 18 from the early start.  I knew from the get-go I’d not only need the extra time, I was concerned about making the 18-hour cutoff.


Published February 8th, 2012

Rocky Raccoon 100: shoulda stuck with the 50

I had it too easy at Javelina. All the pain and suffering I’ve heard about in 100-mile races? I came through virtually unscathed. Sure, I had some low points, but overall it was an incredible experience.

Leave it to the Raccoon to bring me back down to earth.

When some good friends mentioned they’d be signing up for Rocky Raccoon, my husband immediately jumped on board for the 100. I, however, was torn. Take my chances and sign up for the 100 despite not having run one yet, or stick with the 50-mile? I knew the 50 tended to sell out, so I didn’t want to wait until after Javelina in November. I emailed Joe Prusaitis, the RD, to see if I could upgrade if all things went well and he confirmed I could.

Six days after Javelina I sent him a check to cover the extra cost.

Eleven days after that I pulled my right hamstring — in yoga, no less.

Between that and some major overindulgence during the holidays my training was not ideal. In the nine weeks prior to Rocky I logged just over 320 miles; 100 miles less than what I logged for Javelina during the same timeframe. I also didn’t run anything further than a marathon, although I did get in two. I figured rest & recovery would better serve me and hoped the endurance I’d built up would pull me through.


Published December 1st, 2011

2011 Javelina Jundred: If You Can Hold On, Hold On

Best. Finish. Ever!

My 27 hours, 42 minutes and 30 seconds in the Arizona desert were some of the most challenging, yet rewarding moments in my life.  My mood ranged from sheer elation to fatiguing funk – sometimes just minutes apart – but my journey to that point fully prepared me for any obstacle that presented itself.  When the low points started descending upon me, I conjured up the sage advice I received from my fellow ultrarunners, dismissing the doldrums with ease (or at least stuffing them far down into the pain cave).  Failure was not an option; I would continue on until no longer possible.

When there’s no where else to run
Despite racking up several marathons and ultras, I didn’t think a 100-miler was in my future.  But less than 2 hours after expressing that sentiment to a couple of my ultrarunner friends during a 12-hour race last year I was coveting the JJ buckle another friend had just earned.  She raved about the race, saying it was great for first-timers.  Because it was held around Halloween (or “Jalloween”), costumes are encouraged.  Given costumes were de rigeur for my first marathon, the Marathon du Medoc, this was particularly apt. The fact one could earn a buckle for finishing at least 100K was another plus (severe knee problems had forced my friend to drop to the “wuss out” option, but she still proudly wore her 100K buckle).

Since the 2011 date hadn’t yet been set, the next day I was Googling “2011 full moon schedule” knowing the race would be held on the full moon weekend closest to Halloween.  The first option – Oct. 15-16 – wasn’t ideal as I knew the temps could still be quite toasty (I’m not a fan of heat).  But I was ecstatic to see the second option – Nov. 12-13 – as it not only might mean cooler weather, the race would start on my birthday.  I checked the race website religiously over the next couple of weeks, waiting for the date announcement.  Impatient, I emailed the race director.  I jumped for joy when he confirmed it would be in November.  I must have been one of the first to sign up once registration opened.


Published August 18th, 2011

2011 White River 50


Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Holy shit, this is really happening.

It was 5:30 a.m. on July 30 and I was at start line of the White River 50, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most stunning and challenging ultras with 17,400 feet of elevation change.  This moment was a year in the making, and I was quaking in my Cascadias.

Holyshitholyshitholyshit.  What am I getting into?

I almost entered the 2010 race on a whim, but fortunately a disastrous training run on the course slapped me back to reality: I wasn’t ready… yet.  While I could tear up the roads for miles, technical trails left me a quivering mess.  So I started hitting the trails to boost my confidence, as well as entered several of the more challenging races.  I built up slowly, starting with shorter races that would increase my trail-running skills without completely wiping me out, then moved on to the longer stuff: Chuckanut 50K, Capitol Peak 55K, 55 miles at the Watershed Preserve 12-hour, Beacon Rock 50K (a particularly grueling race put on by Rainshadow Running).

My training was going well, but I made a bonehead move at the end of June: I tried to BQ again at the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.  My darling and I had decided to skip Boston for 2012, but had a change of heart.  Given how quickly it promised to sell out, we knew we’d have limited chances to get our times.  We both had great races up until mile 17, but we weren’t able to hold the pace.  While pushing my limits at RnR wasn’t necessarily detrimental to my White River goals, running the Ghost of Bellevue — another road marathon — the next day probably wasn’t the smartest move.  The roads beat me up, forcing me to take four days off from running.

To my credit, I did get in three training runs on the White River course.  However, due to snow we weren’t able to get as far as we hoped.  More troubling: based on my paces in each of these runs I was concerned I wouldn’t make the cutoff, even with an hour early start.  In mid July I headed down to Death Valley to pace a friend at Badwater; while I didn’t get in as much running as I would have liked, at least I got to spend time at higher elevations and in intense heat (the second half of White River can be brutal due to the sun).  By the time I returned from Death Valley I was in taper mode — there was nothing I could do to improve my fitness, but lots I could do to f@#k it up.


Published March 20th, 2011

2011 Chuckanut 50K

Yesterday I became a woman — an honest-to-god trail-running woman!

Even with 50+ marathons and 14 ultras under my feet, I still couldn’t identify myself as an ultra-runner.  I hang with a pretty gnarly crowd; they eat mountains for breakfast and consider 40 miles an easy day.  Me?  I like to take baby steps when it comes to challenging myself.  Most of my ultras were on relatively flat, well-groomed “rails-to-trails” courses.  It was time to hike up my “big girl” pants.

Mind you, I wasn’t a total virgin to technical trails with major elevation.  In August 2009 my darling and I joined several other runners on a 27-mile training run on a section of the Cascade Crest 100-mile course.  Not only did I have to contend with the most technical trails I had ever encountered, it was also freaking hot (90 degrees at the Snoqualmie Pass summit).  Soon after hitting the trail I was sweating buckets, and even though I had 60 ounces of water in my hydration pack, salt tabs and several gels, the sweeper was really worried about me.  By the time we hit an aid station at mile 10 I knew it would be foolish to continue, and fortunately we were able to get a ride back to the start.

I had another disastrous trail run last summer.  I joined my darling for a training run on the first half of the White River 50 course, but it ended up being a long, slow hike (9 hours to cover approximately 25 miles).  I was still recovering from two fast road marathons in the two weeks prior, plus I hadn’t eaten enough that morning.  I was sucking wind on the uphills and far too timid on the downhills.  By the end I was stumbling along in a daze.  I somewhat redeemed myself, however, as two weeks later I swept the first half of the course during the race.  It still took 8 hours, but I was responsible for removing the plentiful course marker ribbons, which added at least 45 minutes to my time.

That’s when I decided to make 2011 “The Year of the Ultra.”