Monday, March 9, 2015

Way Too Cool 50k: Race of the Fasties

Way Too Fast Cool.

I wanted to race WTC this year for an early season kick in the butt. However, I wasn't fully prepared for what I was getting myself into.

A few days before the race I looked up the start list and realized that I was WAY down on the Ultra Signup rankings (very scientific, I know). Who were all these women racing? I honestly only recognized a few names. None of the usual suspects. So I did some research.......

Fasties. They're a thing, not a word I made up. I found out that I'd be toeing the line with some major fasties. Women with some serious leg speed.

I was nervous. My early season training hadn't been that great and I didn't feel super fit yet (I mean, it's only March, right!?) But, what can you do besides try? I had experience and endurance on my side.

Pre-race Interview with Ultra Runner Podcast

Racing in California in March is heavenly. No tights! No hat or mittens! It was wonderful to sit out in the sunshine and not be cold. I was excited to race in the 'heat'.

Race morning was kind, an 8:00am start time allowed for sleeping in until a reasonable hour. I had my normal pre-race breakfast consisting of an ocean roll, coffee, white rice, and some peanut butter. Yum!

The race start was fast, as I knew it would be. I found myself running and chatting with Caroline Boller. We hit the first mile in 6:17 and both laughed. Ok, a little too fast! I don't think we slowed too much though.

The first part of the course is an 8 mile loop that comes back through the start/finish area. It was pretty flat with a couple little rollers. Easy to run too fast. I did my best to stay on the conservative side. I ran most of the first loop with YiOu Wang and we left the first aid station together.

The next section was a few miles of glorious downhill. My favorite! Around mile 11 or so, we came through the next aid station where I was surprised to see some good friends volunteering! I stopped to fill my bottle here and when I left the aid station YiOu was already out of sight. Oh well. The next stretch was a long flat section by the river and there was no way I was going to catch back up. Girl has some serious speed! So, I just settled into my own pace and focused on fueling well. And I really nailed it- I had great energy the whole race.

The last 1/3 of the race was more my style. A couple longer uphill climbs and some longer descents. I felt much more like myself. In fact, I was feeling even better than earlier in the race. Around mile 25, I spotted YiOu. Wow, this just turned into a race! I thought I'd been dropped and was ready to battle for third. I caught and passed YiOu going up Goat Hill. She was looking good, and I was thinking she'd probably challenge me as we neared the finish.

I was feeling great and think I made some good time over the last 4-5 miles. When I reached the last climb, up to Highway 49, I was totally reminiscing about the same climb during Western States. Somehow it didn't seem quite as daunting as I remembered :)

When I saw the sign with 1 mile to go I looked down at my watch. I knew the CR was 3:49 and I was pretty sure I was going to run under that time. I didn't throw myself under in the last mile- instead I enjoyed it. Sometimes it's nice to take it in and relish what you just accomplished. And I did just that.


I crossed the finish line in 3:47 and couldn't have been happier! That's a good time for me, especially for early in the season. I was proud of myself for running a smart race, fueling really well, and having a good second half of race. Success!

Post-race Interview with Ultra Sports Live

Strava Race Data



My favorite things at WTC:

  • Eric Schranz's crocheted shorts from Etsy. Did anyone get a photo?
  • Seeing Meghan, Craig, & Mark at Quarry Road Aid Station.
  • Catching up with good friends and teammates
  • My awesome friend Elisa, who came out to cheer and kept me company for the weekend
  • Frog Cupcake at the finish
  • Sunshine and, hopefully, tanlines
Women's Podium
How did I not have low energy you ask? Well, here was my nutrition plan:
  • 6 1/2 Clif Shot gels every 20-30 min, starting at 30 min into the race. I like to start with the non-caffeinated (vanilla, raspberry) and switch to the caffeinated gels (mocha, strawberry, double espresso) in the last 1/3 of the race.
  • 1-2 cups of Coke at the last 3 aid stations
  • S caps, 1 tab during the first hour, 1-2 every hour after. 
  • Lots of water. 1 Nathan handheld bottle, 18oz, refilled at 5 of the aid stations.


The trip back to Bend was pretty fun. Elisa and I had a great 80's music jam session in my car, ate at a fantastic Indian restaurant, watched a bad lifetime movie (deep impact) post-race, and checked out a trail near Mt. Shasta. It was a fun filled weekend :)




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thoughts on Running in 2015: Part II

Run #LikeAGirl



I know it's already well into 2015, but I like to take some time to disconnect after the season and not worry about training or racing. So I'm a little late to the game creating my goals for 2015, but nonetheless, here are my plans for 2015.

2015 Race Schedule

2/7 Vert Fest Skimo Race, Mt. Bachelor, 1st
This was my first actual skimo race. I had some technical issues, but it was a great all around experience.

3/7 Way Too Cool 50k
Should be fast and furious. A little intimidated to be running fast in early March.

3/28 Elk's Grand Traverse, Skimo race
High on the 'oh shit, what did I get myself into' list. This is a 40 mile backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen beginning at midnight. It is going to be freezing cold, dark, and a little terrifying. WAY out of my comfort zone. Which is why I'm doing it :)

4/11 Lake Sonoma
Classic. California wine country. Tropical John. Fantastic course and organization. Need I say more?

6/27 Western States
I am drawn to this race. It was my first 100 miler and I will never forget it. I'm going back to experience it all again..... I don't have expectations for myself, except for improving areas where I struggled last year.

8/28 UTMB
Uncharted territory for me. The course profile alone intimidates me. But I like a challenge. And I really like espresso and croissants. I am very excited to give UTMB a go this year. It's been on my bucket list for a few years now.

12/5 TNFEC
Great season ender. This race is tough- it's late in the year, running conditions in Bend are less than desirable, and holiday craziness has already set in. But the energy and atmosphere make it worth the effort. Plus, the celebration afterwards feels so justified!

Other races
I'm hoping to add 1-2 races if everything goes to plan. I hate to have too many commitments until I really see how things play out. So, if recovery allows, I'd like to add races in May, early August, and the Oct/Nov. I'm considering a road marathon for the fall race. GASP! I know! I've been wanting to run a marathon for awhile though and there's no time like the present.



Non-tangible goals for 2015

1. Be a positive ambassador for the sport
This is important to me. I want to be a positive role model and encourage others to uphold high standards in sportsmanship, environmentally, and

2. Run #LikeAGirl
That's right. Get after after it and take chances! I'm not one to be intimidated by male runners, and I want to help bring women's running to the same level as men's running.

3. Get out of my comfort zone
Try some new things! I want to continue to challenge myself and do things I'm slightly intimidated by. Point in case: Grand Traverse and UTMB. Both will be totally new experiences for me, especially the ski race!

4. Keep a healthy work/run/life balance
The more involved I get in running, the more blurred these lines become. It's important to me to keep a good balance though and remember that my life includes MANY different areas.

Someone's excited
And finally, I have some great sponsors helping me to reach my goals! Thanks a ton for your support this upcoming year!





















Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thoughts on running in 2015: Part I

In 2015 I have two types of goals that are very different. Thus,  I decided to split it into two posts- more reading, right?! My first post (below) is about doing something bigger in life. My second goal, in the next post, is more focused on racing and running #LikeAGirl

I've had a slow start to 2015. It's been really good to reset and experience life when doesn't revolve around training. Zach and I just returned from 2 weeks in Bali, where we did everything but run. We spent our days surfing, paddle boarding, and getting fabulous massages for $10, and our nights eating great food and having cocktails on the beach.  It was a great chance to disconnect and relax. I didn't know I had it in me to be that lazy! I mean that in a good way. I was worried that 2 weeks of no activity would drive me bonkers, but as it turns out, it did quite the opposite. It gave me time to think about things other than running and enjoy some down time. I was quite sad to leave.

Daily offering in Bali
I'm glad we choose Bali for our honeymoon for two reasons:

1) It's a very hot and humid tropical island. While Zach was profusely sweating, I loved the heat and spending the whole day in my swimsuit. Quite a change from the normal January weather in Bend. 


2) Bali is still a developing country. While there is a great deal of Western influence and 5-star luxury resorts, there are also small rural villages that are quite primitive. Spending time in these areas and observing the differences in day-to-day life sparked some good thoughts. 


Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about my goals for 2015. Obviously I have goals and want to race, but I also have been thinking about how I use running in a different way. Reflecting on the differences in my life vs life in a developing country made me realize how privileged I am. I felt selfish about my chosen lifestyle. Much of what I do on a daily basis is to benefit myself (running) or help the upper 10% of the population (coaching/nutrition). Not that I don't help people, but there is such a disparity between the people I help and the people out there who need help. 

Cutest baby monkey ever!
 Most days my biggest concerns are getting my training in, eating well, writing training plans, connecting with my athletes, and working for OSU. I never worry about where my next meal will come from or how I will make enough money to take care of my family. It's crazy when you start to put it in that perspective.  My first world problems seem silly and unimportant. 

While I'm very supportive of a lifestyle that includes running and training to reach goals, I also want to make a bigger difference for others. I'm inspired to do something bigger. And I want to use my running to help make this difference. I don't really know what that will look like yet, but I've been thinking on it for the last couple weeks. 
The market, filled with people desperate to make a sale
While reflecting on the 2015 goals of myself and other runners, I think it's important to take a step back and realize how privileged we are to have the life we do. It's easy to get caught up in the small details and becoming very self centered. Most blogs I've read lately seem to have an "entitled" tone to them. This is not everyone, I know some will probably take that personally, but I'm not singling out any one blog. It's hard to seem humble when the purpose of a blog is to talk about yourself and results! I know my blog reads like this. What I want to do in 2015 is take a step back and look more at the big picture. It's not just about how fast I can run, but how I can use running to help others and make me a better person. Again, I'm not really sure how I will do this, but it's one of my top goals for 2015.

And it seems that thinking this way is promising as there seem to be others coming from the same school of thought. Take for example, the piece AJW wrote on running and being a good human being: http://www.irunfar.com/2015/01/great-expectations.html

This article really resonated with me. While I DO have sponsorships and am motivated to race and perform at a hight level, I never want that to become more important than being humble and appreciative for what I have. One of my goals for 2015 is to smile when I am racing, thank the volunteers, and be considerate of those around me. I think if we all did this ultra running would maintain it's reputation as the friendliest sport in the world. I fear with more sponsorships and money on the line the sport is slowly becoming tainted and greedy. Let's not let that happen. I challenge everyone in 2015 to run for the reasons in their heart. For me this is the feeling of pure joy as I push my physical limits and cherish the feeling as I cross the finish line, proving to myself that I am capable of more than I thought.  

Why do you run? 

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Friday, December 12, 2014

The North Face Endurance Challenge

"Decent" 

My response to a friend's text "give me one word describing your race. I haven't looked at results yet"

And decent it was. 

Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer Photography/Ultra Race Photos
I had mixed feelings about the day, but overall I am very positive about the end of my 2014 season. Was this my best race? Nope. Was it a bad race? Far from it. In case you don't want to read the rest of this post, here are the cliff notes: I am thrilled with my 2014 season. It was a great year of running with many goals accomplished. I'm happy to have finished it off by standing on the podium. 

Some great interviews from pre- and post-race:

Pre-race

Post Race

Photo credit: Nate Dunn
The week leading up to TNF 50 was a little rough for me. Actually to be honest, 2-3 weeks leading up to TNF were a little rough for me. It started with a trip to Arizona, where I had the opportunity to run some beautiful trails in Tucson. Zach and I were enjoying a 2-3 mile long rocky uphill, and I said out loud "I can't wait to turn around and run down this. I'm so good at downhills. I never roll my ankle." Why I said those words I have no idea. I kid you not, within 10 steps of turning around to run downhill, I stepped on a rock and rolled my ankle. Bad. It was a long commute, running with tear stained eyes, back out to the car. 

Them be ankle bitin' rocks

I saw my PT immediately when I got home, and he recommended just a few days off to let it heal. No real harm done, just an ankle sprain. Great. I took about 5 days off from running, then felt good enough to test the waters. Unfortunately my timing overlapped with a huge snow/ice storm in Bend, which left most of the running surfaces too treacherous to run. 

Coming home from AZ in flip flops to this...
That's saying a lot because I think of myself, having lived in Minnesota, the UP of Michigan, and Montana, a pretty darn good snow/ice runner. Honestly I don't usually have a problem running in the winter. But, this storm completely messed up even the roads!

 One afternoon I decided I was going to brave the elements. I convinced my good friend Natalie to try running outside with me. We ran on the flattest, most cleared roads and it was still pretty disastrous. It took us over and hour to run 5 miles. I'm surprised I didn't roll my ankle again.            

Not thrilled
With TNF 50 looming in the not so distant future, I turned to the treadmill. Mind you, I am NOT a treadmill runner. I run on a treadmill like once a year, and usually only for 20 minutes. In desperation to run, I did 3 DAYS of treadmill runs in a row.

Celebrating a day running on snowy roads!
Really it was only a few days of icky weather, but as my good timing continued, I started feeling sick just as the weather improved. And this cold lasted over 2 weeks.....right up until race day. However it did force me to do a nice taper :)

Race week I was planning to fly down a little early to visit Clif Bar and to meet with some other people. The airlines had other plans. My first flight on Monday was cancelled. No big deal. I was feeling pretty sick, so I was psyched to spend another night in my bed. I was rebooked for Tuesday afternoon. Cool. Tuesday came and my flight was cancelled again. In the process of trying to rebook I learned that the next available flight would be on Friday or Saturday. Ummm, not going to work. Instead of playing the standby game I decided to cut my losses and drive down to California. This actually worked in my favor because I convinced Zach to join me! He wasn't planning to come with, but who could resist a 10-hr road trip in the pouring/freezing rain?! I owe Zach for this one. Not only did he come with and keep me company, he also woke up at 3:00am to crew for me all day, then drove me home the next day :) 

Anyway, back to the race. TNF 50 is always a fun time to catch up with everyone. It's exciting to see my teammates and friends who are all down for one last hurrah before the end of the year. This year TNF rented a house in Mill Valley, which was a ton of fun! 

I was still feeling under the weather by race morning, but wasn't going to let it stop me. I had received some wise words from my coach, Ian Torrence, the day before. Don't think about being sick. Just shove some sugar in and keep running. And that became my race day motto. 

The start of TNF 50 is always exciting. It's dark and there is so much nervous energy in the air. When the gun went off, I found myself getting a little too caught up in the excitement of running. The first mile is paved and downhill, so it's easy to start too aggressively. I guess I probably started too fast, but I settled into my pace after the first mile. 

I wish I could say that I raced hard and battled all the way to the finish, but truth be told, I was out of contention early on. I just didn't have much fight in me. I lost Magda and Meghan after about 12 miles and then I was all by myself. I didn't have it in me to try to bridge the gap, so I just ran. Shoved some sugar in and kept going. 

Photo credit: BayTrailrunners 
And I smiled. That was one race goal I had promised Meghan Hicks in my pre-race interview. I would smile.

 There were some highs and lows and some nasty parts out on the trail. That's what I love most about ultra trail running- you never know what you are going to get. You have to be ready for anything. Probably the most treacherous part of the course was the 5 miles of single track from Cardiac to Stinson beach. The trail was a full on mud puddle and there was two way traffic the whole time.

Photo credit: Nate Dunn
I actually started to feel better in the last 10 miles or so. Don't get me wrong, I was tired, but I didn't feel quite as sick-y. Early on I was having a hard time finding a groove and just didn't feel like myself. But, as I crossed the finish line I smiled. I was proud of my effort and for not giving up. Plus, in the last 6 miles I played a little game with myself to see how many men I could pass. It was thoroughly satisfying :)

The aftermath
Sharing the podium with some fast ladies. And Dean :)
Photo credit: Nate Dunn
All in all I'm happy with my day. If I gave myself a report card it would look something like this:

Effort: A (I did the best I could under the conditions)
Attitude: A (I kept my head in the game and didn't give up)
Physical ability: C+ (My body wasn't cooperating, due to illness)

So that averages out to something like a "B" for my race, which is "decent".
My Strava race report

Thanks to all my sponsors and people out there crewing and cheering for me!

Gear Used
Shoes: The North Face Trail Equity
Shorts: The North Face Better than Naked Short
Top: The North Face Better than Naked Short-Sleeve
Arm Warmers: Flora 
Hydration: Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Handheld
Fuel: Clif shot gels, bloks, mini Clif bars, and coke, about 200 kcal/hr
Headlamp: Black Diamond Icon 




Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reflections...


After a whirlwind couple of months, I've taken some time to appreciate the simple things. 

Sometimes we just need to take a moment. 

Be present. 

And be thankful for all the great things in our lives.



Crisp autumn mornings.




Trail Runs.






Baking.





Friends.




Love.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Fall Tour

When I was younger I used to watch a show called "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Best. Show. Ever. Check it here.

Anyway, I've felt a little like "Where in the world is Stephanie?" Since early summer I've been on the road. A lot. It's been a lot of fun, and there are still a few upcoming trips, but it's really nice to be home! Fall in Bend is wonderful.

I've had some awesome opportunities recently. Without further ado, I present The Fall Tour:

Crested Butte


Hiking near Crested Butte
August started with a trip to Crested Butte for a friend's wedding. It was a short trip, but we were still able to enjoy some great scenery and see good friends :)

NMU & UAA College Teammates :)


Next up was a big one. 

My wedding




 I couldn't have asked for a better day, well week really. I wasn't stressed about it, so I enjoyed the whole week. It was fun to see so many good friends and family come to support us.








Post-wedding we spent a few days in Portland to celebrate. We did things like drink copious amounts of coffee, eat ice cream for breakfast (Salt and Straw), shop, visit OMSI, taste wine, and eat amazing food. Andina anyone?

Ice Cream for breakfast

Newly weds!

Run Rabbit Run

It was a brief trip and once we returned Zach headed out to chase Elk and I traveled to Steamboat Springs, CO. I was planning to race Run Rabbit Run 100. It was a bit of a stretch- I didn't exactly have a lot of time to prepare, but I thought I'd give it a try. I wanted to challenge myself. 

Early fall colors on the trails
Steamboat was a lot of fun! I had never been before, so I definitely took some time to check out the area. I had a little mishap in a parking lot right when I arrived (resulting in a broken nose. Ugh), that prevented me from doing too much. I still did a couple hike/runs and went to Strawberry Hot Springs. 

Getting excited to race!

Fish Creek Falls

Strawberry Hot Springs
Run Rabbit Run was not the race of my life. But, it was a good experience and I was proud of how I handled the race. 
Love these girls! (yes, we sort of planned the matching braids :)
I started out strong, feeling amazing. In fact, by around 40 miles I had a 40 minute lead. It was great! I was a little nervous about running through the middle of the night, but I had stashed lots of warm clothing (READ: down jacket) and various aid stations. And sure enough, around 2:00am my down jacket and hand warmers came in handy!

Early on
Photo: Paul Nelson
Sometime in the middle of the night my knee started hurting. I stopped in one of the aid stations for 5-10 minutes to warm up, and when I started running again my knee was not happy. So unhappy in fact that it forced me to walk the next 12 miles downhill. I was pretty sad. I still felt great and wanted to keep racing, but my knee was not cooperating. After some deliberation with my crew I decided to try walking the out and back back section (about 9 miles) and then make a decision. I already knew at that point what my decision should be though. 

Running through the night
Photo: Paul Nelson
It's really hard to pull out of a race that you are leading, especially when the rest of you feels great. But, I have learned from the past that it's not worth running through pain and ending up sidelined for months. So, I made the hard decision to quit at 4:00am, 78 miles in to RRR. 

I was sad, but also proud of myself for pulling the plug. It means I learned something in the last couple years. And, post-race my knee was feeling better after a couple weeks. Much better than sitting out the next several months. 

Bittersweet. But there's always next year :)

Try Something different

What do you do when a race doesn't go well? Jump in another sport! Ha. The day after I got back from Colorado there was a cyclocross race in Bend. I'd never done one before, so why not now? 



The race was a lot of fun and definitely lifted my spirits! I think I spent about a 1/3 of the race running next to my bike.... :)



Wyoming

I didn't have long to be bummed about RRR before my next trip. Three days in fact. Before I knew it my car was packed full of frozen plasma samples and I was on my way to Laramie, Wyoming. The final phase in my dissertation study was analyzing the blood samples I took in the spring for the appetite hormones. Since OSU doesn't have a lab equipped to analyze hormones (PYY, GLP-1, and ghrelin for you science geeks), we decided to collaborate with the University of Wyoming. 

The drive to Laramie was pretty, and it provided some distraction to the fact that I couldn't do anything active. I was also solo, which gave me a lot of time to think. About running. About the big picture. I needed it to help me reset.

While in Laramie I spent most of my free time in the lab. It was great. I secretly (or not so secretly) like to geek out on science stuff. It was really cool to learn the techniques and get one step closer to 
finishing my PhD!
This was my Friday night. Pipetting!
I did find some time to get out in the Snowy Mountains. So beautiful. I wasn't really ready to run yet, but I did a couple beautiful hikes.



 About halfway through my time in Laramie Zach flew out to join me! I was so excited that I got sick. Well, that's not really why I got sick, but unfortunately I came down with a killer cold. Bad timing. We still managed to get out for one hike together though.

Zach near the Gap Lakes




Kauai

As soon as I finished in the lab I got in my car, drove to Salt Lake City, and was on a plane to Kauai. When I left Wyoming it was snowing. When I arrived in Kauai it was 85 and sunny. Talk about temperature extremes!

My favorite beach in Kauai

I  was only in Kauai for 72 hours, but I got to spend it running on the Na Pali coast trail, hanging out with some awesome people, and working on my tan lines :) Not too shabby!



Sage Canaday and I at 'the' waterfall on the trail 
Being a goofball

 NYC

From Kauai I took a redeye to New York for a North Face media event. I had never been to the city before so I was super excited! I landed at 6:00am and planned to do some shopping and sightseeing, but instead crashed on my bed. I woke up at 5:00pm. Just enough time to eat dinner and go back to bed. Bummer- I totally slept away my free day :)

Rory and I getting ready for some rooftop Mountain Athletics!

Times Square
The North Face media event was a ton of fun though. I was with teammates Rory Bosio and Angel Collinson, and we sure had a blast. The event took place on a rooftop near Times Square. Lot's of energy and tons of fun!

Photo: Matteo Vettorel
Leading a Mountain Athletics workout
Photo: Matteo Vettorel

The next morning I was able to do a short run in Central Park before my limo (yes, limo) drove me to the airport. What? I just asked for a taxi, but I didn't turn down the ride. Good ending to the trip :)

View of the city from Central Park
Fall in Central Park


Home

I am so excited to be back. I was on the road for over a month and really missed my husband, my friends, and my dog!

Top of South Sister




Best friends ever. Love you guys!

Riley Osama