Monday, May 14, 2012
What a beast. What a nasty beastly, beast of a race. For the last two nights I've been falling asleep with visions of ledges and deathly drops swimming through my head. Fortunately, during the race, my only thought was "don't look down!" the race was awesome, and I am considering the 100 miler for 2013. It started on a lovely dirt trail that headed straight for an enormous mesa(which is a mountain with a flat top) and we then climbed, a lot, for about a mile, straight up. I thought things would ease up at the top, but we then proceeded to traverse 11 miles on undulating sandstone rock as we ran the very edge of the mesa. The views were so amazing. I stopped frequently to take photos. But the rock, the ups and downs, and the uneven surfaces all took an amazing tole on my quads. Added to that, I quickly realized that getting to mile 27 in 7 hours was actually going to be a stretch for me and about 50 others. My pacer, Jeff, who had traveled 7 hours the night before just to pace me home from mile 27 was waiting for me, and the thought of ruining his weekend by not making the cutoff was enough to push me on. I made it in 6:30. As soon as Jeff joined me, things got better. Well, actually, they got much worse for a minute because a runner passed us and just as he passed, a 3 foot rattle snake lunged out with fangs bared to strike and the runner vaulted up over his running poles and we all had to stop a minute to cath our breath, but then things got better. Jeff entertained me with tails of his run across America, which will be coming out in a book in June. He took care of me at the aide stations and when I found my second wind at mile 40, he took off at my request, exactly at my speed, which allowed me to do only one thing: focus on his footsteps and run. Toward the end, we had the illusion of being the only people running on the Jem Trail, which winds through the most breathtaking terrain, with mountains all around, and then joins the Virgin River and runs the rim. I looked up and thought to myself, this is my final hour of running this unforgettable country this year, after an amazing month in Utah, and I tried to soak it all in. We finished in 12:28, and I took 13th place woman and 38th place overall. The finish was awesome, with music and cheering. The pizza guys were making pizza in their portable wood fired pizza oven and the local BBQ restaurant was serving up BBQ and baked beans, and everywhere you looked, runners were throwing up their guts. Having a stomach of steel, I thought to myself, "what is wrong with these people?" and then I sat down and sniffed the BBQ and well...it's been 48 hours and I still get nauseous at the smell of food, although I manage to eat. Amazing day overall, and when I got home at 9pm, little Alex snuck out of his room, because he had been waiting up for mommy. We snuggled and held my finishered medalian. When I woke up the next day, Alex was on one side of me and Izzy was on the other side and we were all wrapped up. It was Mother's Day.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Two days to go to the biggie. Jeff Grabowski, who ran across the entire USA last year, wearing a Foundation t-shirt for part of it, will be pacing me the last 23 miles. I have complete faith that he will keep me pointed in the right direction when logic fades away. Izzy told me yesterday that I was getting fat since I started tapering. Guess I'm ready for a long run. Daily massages and lots of rest this week have helped me prepare. Erik arrives friday am, and the kids are counting down the hours. So am I. This race will be hot. Over 15 miles of the race covers wide open desert, and the rest runs on mostly single track trails through Zion National Park and surrounding areas. I love the heat, I love the limitless mountains, I love the trails, and I love the quiet...so a full day of running is my Mother's Day present to myself. Anything could happen in a race this long and the key is to just stay calm, fix what isn't working and keep puttingone foot in front of the other. At the Ironman this weekend, which started in a reservoir in Hurricane, Utah, hurricane force winds wreaked havock. A local commented to me, "The town is called Hurricane for a reason." Uh, oh, okay. So, the Zion 100/50 starts in a town called Virgin. Hmmm. Anyway, the organizers of this race are locals and they are amazing. Just to give an idea of how cool they are, their mom is making the chicken soup for one of the aid stations, and they are serving up amazing grub at the aid stations, like burritos and snow cones! Alex and Izzy think this is the coolest race too. We ran about 2 miles on single track this morning, and Alex was truly in him element. The difficult trails challenge his balance, and I have to keep myself from saying "be careful!" every minute. This morning he fell, picked himself up and said, "It's alright Mom. That's life. You fall, you get back up and keep going." I'll try to keep that in mind on Saturday. To track my progress-I'm number 785: http://www.ultralive.net/zion50/webcast.php
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Saturday's Ironman St. George was a bit disastrous. Literally at the sound of the starting horn, winds came up and swept across the reservoir, producing 5 foot waves. The swim was so dangerous that boat engines died, swimmers were screaming for help, and several hundred were pulled from the water. Many were allowed to continue the race without a timing chip. Our teammate, Bob, with countless races under his belt, including the triple ironman distance, said it was the worst race conditions he had ever experienced. After battling winds and hills for the first loop of the bike, he pulled out in favor of an afternoon at the pool, sushi and beers before getting on a plane for NYC. He had been mountain biking across Arizona prior to the race, so had a good trip overall. Tough day for racers. It sounds like the Ironman here is going to be replaced by a half, which may suit this beautiful place better.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Alex ran his first major race last night, the Ironkids 1 miler. It was an awesome experience for him, and me. The race was packed and we chose to run in the final start wave. I was concerned because it was hot, there were loads of people and total chaos, andirons was held at 6pm, which is not our best hour to do anything but sleep! But both kids had taken naps in preparation for the event and everyone remained in good spirits, although Izzy got so nervous seeing all the runners, that she clung to me and refused to run. So, I propped her up on my shoulders because I wanted her to experience the race nonetheless. Alex took off and ran the entire mile with only two quick stops for a sip of my camelpak. He was hot, tired, a bit overwhelmed with all the Ironman hoopla, but he ran with all his heart. It is something special to watch Alex run. He runs with a smile on his face the entire way. He works hard to swing his left foot around and get his left arm in motion with his right. He is working so hard, and it is obvious to everyone watching. He steals the hearts of the crowds and people ran into the course to give him high fives. We were dead last the entire way, but all Alex could say was that he was winning. My mantra for the kids is that it doesn't matter if you cross the finish line first. You win if you participate. Alex was so proud of himself for crossing the finish line, and receiving a medal. And so was I. He sleeps with his metal next to his bed, along with my metal from the 50k.
Friday, May 4, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, our team member, Bob, and I, headed back out to the Red Cliffs Desert Trails behind Dixie Rock. We started on the T-Bone Trail, crossed over and up onto Turkey Farm Road, then down the Powerline Trail. Powerlines the whole way, but beautiful nonetheless. I kept thinking my poles might become electrified. Good 90 minute run at a faster clip than I usually take alone. Always good to train with buddies from time to time. We followed up the hot run with a trip to Mr. Frost Top for soda floats, yum. This morning we found some new mountain biking trails along the Santa Clara River Preerve. These were the best trails we have found so far. No powerlines, just well-marked trails and mountains for as far as we could see. The kids and I dropped off Bob, who took off on his bike down the trailhead. The kids and I ran about a mile in total, then headed back in town for ice cream and the splash pool. Alex is so into his trail running, which really challenges him to find his center of gravity and balance. Some days Izzy would rather hike...she is only three after all. Today she hiked up the trail and raced at top speed back down. I kept thinking of the warnings about keeping small children close by because of the mountain lions... Tonight we race the Ironkids race, so everyone is napping in preparation. Tomorrow is the Ironman.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Today, I met up with Melanie Webb, owner and operator of Sol Fitness Adventures (www.soladventures.com), a company which specializes in customized experiences for outdoor athletes and adventure travelers. I met Melanie through her work as an Athleta 2012 Featured Athlete. We hiked up and around Dixie Rock, though an amazing crack in the rock that allowed us to inch our way up and out, then into the Red Cliff Desert Preserve. A great time on the trail with an impressive athlete and entrepreneur. Now that I am tapering, I am making time for more adventure and less training. I put in a 30 minute run and 30 minute swim this morning, then a 35 minute trail run and 90 minute hike. My legs feel tight and tired still and my chronic hamstring continues to bother me. But, I feel much stronger than when I arrived 3 weeks ago. Tmorrow will be one last long trail run, and then it will be all short runs and swimming, maybe another spin session or two, and then a final couple days of rest before the 50 mile. The Ironpeople are all descending upon St. George, which has brought the town to life. Alex, Izzy and I made a stop at Judd's, an old fashioned candy and ice cream shop and we sat out on a bench and watched the many incredible athletes ride by on their tri bikes. Both kids are fired up for their race Friday evening, a one mile fun run that ends at the Ironman finish line. After ice cream, we rode the carousel and splashed in the splash pools. A great day for all.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Yeterday, Alex, Izzy and I rented an ATV and zoomed all over Sand Hollow State Park. We happened to see an ad in a local paper for ATV rentals. We knew nothing about the company, but after speaking with the owner, we decided to give it a shot. The family who runs the company lives just a few minutes from where we are staying. Really nice people who run this rental company on the side of their real lives. They dropped us at the back entrance to Sand Hollow State Park, just a few minutes from our place, and off we went. The entire park was empty, except for a few horses and some cows. For as far as we could see, lavender mountains and red cliff mesas surroundedus, and ATV trails branched off from the main dirt road and got lost from sight. At first, we stayed on the main road. I was a tiny bit nervous about being in the middle of nowhere with the kids an an ATV, which I had never driven before. But after an hour or so, we settled in and took some offshoots of the main path. Our final destination point was a spot where Dilophosaurus tracks have been preserved in rock, and are open for people to visit and touch. This adventure was a highlight of our trip. Being able to take the kids deep into the mountains and then having the added excitement of placing our hands in the very nicely preserved Dino tracks was pretty incredible. We watched the sunrise come up and hit the red rocks, then had lunch and headed back. Izzy fell asleep. The bumpier, the better for this little one. I went back to the same road junction for my afternoon run. I immediately left the dirt road and took the trails up to the top of the towering rocks, then back down into the valley, then back up. I was covered in red dust by the end and had drained my entire camelpak in just 90 minutes. Again, I wished for a running partner for this one. Tomorrow, our teammate Bob will arrive in preparation for Saturday's Ironman and another friend will be in town briefly to hike, so we'll have a few good days of team training.