Saturday, January 18, 2014

Exposing Lizard Brain...

DISCLAIMER:  I'm getting ready to write about The Whole9 Whole Athlete Seminar that I attended today.  I am not the best note taker and don't always hear concepts correctly.... so if' I am relating something I learned today in a way that is less than accurate... the fault lies with me the writer, not the presenters.  Dallas and Stephanie definitely know their stuff, while Kellie has the occasional challenge of "selective listening."  It is not my intention to review or provide opinion of their seminar, although I thought it was freaking awesome!  It is ONLY my desire to relate one portion of my take-away from the day. Clear? 

I haven't blogged since The Bastard 50k AAR because I've not been training, not really.  I can count the number of CrossFit sessions on one hand and this morning was my first run with the Bastards since our epic adventure on Dec 28th... 3 weeks ago.

Today was also the Whole Athlete Seminar. 7 hours of listening to Dallas Hartwig and Stephanie Gaudreau educate about 100 people on the ins and outs of healthy fueling and stress management for athletes.  This seminar opened with a brief refresher of the Whole 9 seminar "It Starts With Food" to make sure we all had the same foundation of knowledge and then it launched into topics specific to the needs of athletes.

The timing for me to hear this lecture and absorb the new material couldn't have possibly been better.  Today I learned the main reasons why I've not wanted to train for the 3 weeks and whereas in the past I'd have pushed through it and trained anyway, this time I honored my body and just passed on training.  I'd like to say the time off led to full recovery, but thanks to what I learned next, I can now see that wasn't the case.

You see, I also learned that people addicted to stress will somehow manage to recreate it no matter how much they are trying to manage it... unconsciously, of course. It's not only common with exercise addicts  it's applicable to all addicts, like yours truly.  No wonder my chronic psoriasis (autoimmune disease) never really improves... no sooner than I dial in my food, sleep and recovery, then I'll either add on a new responsibility in some area of my life, or I'll somehow create some type of drama with friends, coworkers, or family.  It's as if my body is so adapted to the eschewed cocktail of hormones and stuff that comes with chronic stress, that my lizard brain will always seek homeostasis by adding new stressors to offset all my "clean living" efforts.  Wow.   Sounds crazy, but it may help explain at least one of my recent decisions.

Case point... 2 days after the Bastard, I made a snap emotional decision that led to an unnecessary shit storm of physical and emotional drama, which lasted a good two weeks... effectively destroying the celebration of the accomplishment and offsetting all that wonderful "recovery" time I was taking off of training.  The wildest part is for the life of me I've not been able to really explain why I made that initial decision in light of my experience and common sense.  In hindsight it does seem like it was my lizard brain in charge of that one seemingly harmless action that led to such far flung consequences.

I used to think I needed to just be on guard for the behaviors that could lead me back to alcohol or drugs, now I realize that the insidiousness of addiction transfers to all areas of my life.  Fortunately, awareness is 9/10th's of the solution,.  Now that I know just how powerfully my lower brain will try to sabotage my best efforts at growth and healing, I get to consciously monitor my words and actions to make sure they actually match my intentions and goals.

It also means revisiting my 2014 goals to see where I've compounded the stressors instead of focusing on limiting them. I so love knowing that I control my destiny and am feeling wonderfully empowered by all the new knowledge and powerful tools provided by the amazing experts and mentors in my life right now.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Bastard 50k AAR

Friday night was the 2013 Bastard 50k and this morning my heart is so full it feels like it will explode. Yesterday all I could do was shower, sleep, eat, ice, sleep, eat and finally just sleep.  This morning I'm already feeling much better and keep looking back on the night and all the experiences that led up to it.

I am completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the whole event.  Seriously.  It was definitely a Bucket List experience.

I think the easiest way to write out my thoughts is to use Eric's AAR (After Action Review) format which is to list three sustains and three improves.  So, let's see how that works in blog format.

First sustain has got to go to everyone who came out to participate in the challenge.  This was the first time I've ever been involved in an event where I knew every single one of the racers.  All through the night we were either passing or being passed by people I knew, providing such a wonderful feeling of community and joy. Those feelings don't occur in a conventional race full of strangers all just focused on themselves. I loved cheering on our amazingly fast rabbits (as Phil called them)  who were passing us a mere 18 miles in, even though they had started a good 2-2.5 hours after us!  I also loved encouraging and commiserating with the teams we caught up with at the aid stations and maybe even passed near the end.  To persevere through that night, no matter your placement, was an enormous accomplishment worthy of great respect and admiration.

I was blessed with a team of truly amazing teammates.

Maggie (who I swear will be late to her own funeral) always came through when she needed to and was even ten minutes early on Friday night.  During the race she was ALWAYS positive, saying repeatedly that we had no idea just how strong we were.  She would also say little creative visualizations when parts of the course got really hard.  One that was pretty cool she pulled out of her hat was near the end when we were starting our very last climb up Jones Peak... a short but exceptionally brutal little beast.  She visualizes being on a roller coaster and the hard climb will lead to the fun downhill and finish.  I could hear those words and they definitely helped pull me up those last few yards.  Maggie was usually sandwiched between Phil and I making sure any hungry and desperate mountain lions didn't try to pick off our smallest member.  LOL  She has this amazing grace that allows her to trip but never actually fall (unless she's on ice!) and all night long we were teasing each other to pick up our feet. (BTW... I promised Rose Beal that I wouldn't fall and I kept my promise!)

Phil was the most experienced on our team.  He had studied the course both live and on maps (he's a total tech geek and even Go Pro'd that night).  With him on our team, I was able to relax my perfectionist anxiety about the route, knowing that he would be our primary navigator and I only needed to back him up.  Phil was a little quieter than us chatterboxes, but he was always engaged with calm, positive and helpful words. I'm sure I made him a little crazy by constantly wanting to discuss our mileage placement and distance to the next marker, but he never voiced anything but patience and good cheer.  I loved that he allowed himself to slow down (because he's a much stronger athlete than I am) so that I could be the pace setter through the majority of the course.  I know it wasn't easy for him because the last 5-6 miles he allowed himself to move ahead at his own pace, waiting for me every few hundred meters.  I was awed by his ability to run down the scar and the face of Jones' on legs that had to be at least a little bit tired.  It was really wild to watch!

Being able to move at my own pace without having the chase a leader made a big difference in my energy conservation, which may have paid dividends given that we ended up placing 10th out of 18 teams... that and the fact that we didn't spend more than about 10 minutes in each aid station.  We were an underdog team of novices, whom I expected to finish close to last and I am humbled by our placement in the outcome... thus validating Maggie's words throughout the night.

Second sustain goes to the volunteers who made the whole thing possible.  Nicole Dimkich-Szabo and her experienced, highly organized, cheerful and super warm (thanks to the heater!) start line crew launched us with perfection... and yes, I can say that because I was the start line crew chief for the last two years so I know what it takes to make that happen.  Except she had it harder because Eric was there instead of racing and we all know what it's like to have our Fearless Leader silently looking over our shoulders!

The Aid Stations were just like I've found at public races... Seriously!  Ted Tyman was the super efficient and gracious crew chief of Station 1.  He and his crew were ready and waiting for us with lots of water and hot soup.  The drop bags were all laid out and they were doing a bang up job getting everyone's needs met until I came rolling in and the Team Triple Trouble drop bag wasn't there.  Ugh. I wish I could say I handled it as well as my teammates, who didn't even bat an eyelash, but I didn't.  The fact that if the bag wasn't where it was supposed to be must have been because I hadn't labeled it clearly enough didn't immediately occur to me. Instead, I growled at Ted who had only brought the bags he had been given and then I grumbled to those near me.  That's where my head goes first when I am disappointed by an unmet expectation. It only took me a few minutes to assess my actual needs and check my attitude but the damage was already done.  My sincere apologies to Ted, his crew and the racers around me who had to deal with the ungrateful side of Kellie.

Aid Station 2 was like nothing I've ever encountered and I've been in quite a few big races. We could see the glow of their station from a mile away and it was a welcome beacon as we finished our second of four big climbs of the night.  What I'm sure none of us expected was the simply amazing light show that awaited us at the top of the mountain.  Huge thanks to the super creative people who made that magic happen on our behalf!

Jon Pedder sets up a truly untouchable station.  Maybe all his years on Sierra Madre Search & Rescue give him an edge on runners needs because his crew had brought out everything from hot soup to sodas and cut bananas. It was exactly what we all needed.  The soup was hot and wonderfully salty and the salt and cut potatoes were sweet. Such thoughtful details helped speed our team faster than planned and yet still fully recovered and ready to go!

Donna Walters and her peeps were in charge of the finish line and they had somehow managed to not only crew at the start line, but still had the energy to greet us at Lucky Baldwin's with bunches of festive balloons. As a racer for the first time, it was so very cool to round the corner on Sierra Madre hand-in-hand with my teammates and run (ok... shuffle) through the crowd, cameras, balloons and cheers.

Phil just sent me over this video of our finish... it's very cute!

What a grand way to finish!

The third sustain is for Eric LeClair and his coaching staff, both in the Arrogant Bastards and Team CrossFit Academy.  Eric offers all of us a spectacularly effective training protocol both in the gym and on the field. Speaking for myself only, I can say that I would have never been able to complete the 2103 Bastard 50k without his thorough direction.  He (or his coaches) told me exactly how to eat, sleep, train and recover and I did my best to comply. Being who I am, I tend to only focus on the times when I'm non-compliant and for some reason I seem to think that those times will totally negate all my proper efforts. That is not true and just another example of my black and white thinking...  Which is why I rely on friends like Maggie and Marleigh to keep me positive minded!

The 2013 Bastard 50k course was an absolutely gorgeous nightmare.

 I can't imagine where Eric came up with it but it truly tested the maximum abilities of every single person that entered it.  Everyone I have spoken with has repeatedly said it was the toughest course they've done.  I am honored to be part of a group of people who step up to events like this and see them through.  It was by far the hardest thing I've ever done and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

When we started, it was cold but we quickly warmed up while running and stayed warm until we stopped at the rest stations.  The night was surprisingly bright and clear with stars and an almost half moon. Having said that, I was still grateful for my headlamp and hip lamp on broad beam and hand lamp on spot beam. The combination gave our team the ability to see exactly where we were going and highlighted the terrain in a way that not only provided high clarity but revealed a depth and beauty to our surroundings that was completely unexpected.  It is a vastly different world out there at night and I am so glad I was able to see it... even during the times when I couldn't bring myself to look, like on the sheer drops of Mt. Disappointment.

I've heard lots of stories from the ultra community about hallucinations.  Until this race, I'd never really experienced them.  I've already said I was leading most of the night and that I had the area well lit. That light created it's own shadows and all night long I kept seeing animals running away from our light.  Some little, some big, but none scary since they were always running away.  I know they weren't real because I never saw a glow of eyes reflected in the light (and animal eyes are scary visible at night when they look in your light.) and they were unnaturally silent.  As we were climbing out of one of the valleys we must have annoyed a large owl because we could all clearly hear him take off and fly away.  That was the only real animal encounter of the whole night, the rest were sadly all in my head.

One of the best parts of the race were being able to look across the valleys both ahead and behind, to see the lights of the other teams.  That and occasionally hearing snippets of voices off in the distance. (I even remember once while climbing out of Idlehour, trading yodels with Dave O. much to Maggie's and my delight.) It was so cool to know that no matter how alone we felt in the dark, we never truly were and that if there was trouble, we all had whistles to call for help... and that help would have come!  Those few things provided a feeling of safety and reassurance that built my courage and determination no matter the terrain... and some of it was rather daunting, especially at night, with limited visibility... all cliffs look fathomless when you can't see their bottom.

On to the improves... they all come down to me.

First, my mouth failed twice.  Both at Aid Station 1 when I complained and again near the end of the race. The sun was rising as we climbed out of Idlehour, providing a much needed boost to our spirit and energy.  We had survived the night!  That thought got us out of Idlehour and onto the Mt. Wilson Tollroad.  Only a 10k left!  Those last 6 miles of the race were mindbogglingly difficult for me... they took us 3 long hours to traverse and I know I was the only one slowing us down. Fatigue was finally winning .  My knees and feet were well beyond their experience and sounding off accordingly. The 3 miles up the toll road seemed easy enough being on a comparatively low grade, but they went on forever.  Using up most of my flagging reserves and building my trepidation of the next leg of the journey... coming down the scar and Jones Peak.  Where Phil and Maggie were looking forward to that section, I wasn't.  Phil led the way down and as I said, he was awe-inspiring to watch.  Maggie was behind him but I think only because she was keeping an eye on me.  She could have moved a lot faster had it just been the two of them.  The scar is steep and the surface was mostly loose sand which is relatively easy to navigate on "fresh" legs...  Which I couldn't muster despite Maggie's best efforts.  I took it slow and kept pep-talking myself.  I was so absorbed in navigating that the time passed quickly and before you know it the scar was done and I was climbing up to Jones Peak.

The absolute hardest part of the race for me was coming down the face of Jones.  It was crazy steep and my knees were absolutely smoked from the scar.  Where my teammates were sliding and jogging, I was down to shuffling and boot scooting.  At one point, Phil had the audacity to ask if I wanted to take the switchbacks down and I think I snapped at him that I had no idea the best route to take.  I had misunderstood his question and thought he was asking me to make a leadership decision about the course. Ha! Not likely at that point.  In actuality, he was only offering me an easier way down the face.  Duh.  I'm sorry my friend, I was definitely out of sorts at that time.

Second, I would have labeled our drop bags more clearly.  While the Station 1 bag wasn't truly essential, it had included protein that would have helped me get through that last quarter of the race.  Instead I fueled on on carbs that I had carried in my pack for emergency.

Third, I would have liked to have somehow prepared my feet and knees better for the end of the race.  I keep thinking back on how "fresh" Maggie's and Phil's legs were those last 6 miles and I would like to have been able to keep up with them.

Notice how I keep putting the word "fresh" in quotes?  That was another one of Maggie's positive cues.  All night long she kept sounding out how great she felt and how she was running on fresh legs.  It was very helpful... when it wasn't slightly annoying. LOL

That's it.  The 2013 Bastard 50k was by far the most wonderful and most difficult challenge I've ever chosen to walk though and I am forever changed by the experience.  My eternal gratitude to each and every one of you who made it possible. I am forever in your debt and will do my best to return the favor when your time comes to walk through a major life challenge.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Baden Powell FAIL

Wasn't it just last week that I posted about playing in the snow for the first time in 10 years?  That was nothing!  Fast forward one week and I'll tell you about snow...

We knew well in advance that yesterday's training run was going to be up Mt. Baden-Powell.  We also knew well in advance the elevation (9000 ft) and that there had been a storm only a week ago. We knew from the route posted that we would be running the ridge line and that it would be windy.  We all knew all that information well in advance.  

Look at us... We were all physically and mentally ready for both altitude and cold.  

At least so we thought...

The climb up was completely covered in snow with drifts knee deep.   Footing was often unpredictable and super slow going.  (Mental note to self:  Gaters & YakTrax.)  It actually never even occurred to me that I would be trekking in snow the entire time and that there would be icy patches that would take me out no matter how well I managed my footing... and no, I wasn't unique.  Maggie and Jacquie hit the ground their fair share too. Although I never saw Phil hit the ground and Eric said he never fell either, so whatever. lol

Everyone on the team made it to the top where we were greeted by our fearless and cold-impervious leader in his Ranger Panties.  (Obviously they even ward off frost bite, so I need to get me a pair!)

After we summitted Mt. Baden-Powell, some of the team went back down the way we came, while the rest of us stayed on the PCT with the intention of coming out at Islip Saddle.  Our team actually had it easy...  All we had to do was follow the front runners.  Sounds simple enough and it was as long as we stayed in the snow.  

Our Arrogant Bastard front runners are fiercely powerful athletes!  Our group never saw anything but their footprints after we started.  Their trail was clear and easy to follow until after we passed the Dawson Saddle fork.  We stayed on the PCT heading toward Windy Gap.  We crossed to the south side of the mountain came out of the snow then crossed over again and moved back in to the snow.  The footprints were gone.   

We were maybe an hour past the Dawson Saddle fork and temporarily misdirected with no discernible trail.  Damn it!  Yes, I was leading with Jacquie right behind me and Phil pulling up the rear while keeping an eye on Maggie. No, Phil and Jacquie had no idea how we lost the trail either, but recommended we stay on the ridge line until we reconnected with the trail.  

No problem!  After a bit of trail blazing, we found footprints and trail and were sure we were back on the PCT coming up on Islip Peak.  Wrong.  Somehow or the other, we had turned north and ended up down on  the Dawson's Saddle trail.  A couple hours later we found ourselves back on the road... just a tad bit sooner than planned. Oops.  

What a riot!  I can't really say any of us gals were terribly sorry to miss the last few miles of frigid ridge running, but I suspect Phil was a little bummed.  Here's the GPS results he sent me last night.  The file is named "BadenPowellFAIL".  Haha!  (The red is our team, the blue line is where we were supposed to go.) Sorry Phil... If it's any consolation, you'll definitely be leading us on the B50K!

When we reached the road, we realized our mistake and that we were smack in the middle of the course with a good 3-4 mile run in either direction to reach one of our parked cars.  Ugh.  Then our Steel Stallion pulled up with three Heroic Bastards inside.  We were saved!  They took Phil back to his car at Islip and he came back for us whiny wimps.

Oh, and as for the gory details I promised in my Facebook post last night...  Jacquie who is normally so wonderfully photogenic...

really needs to learn to wear long socks on her runs with the Bastards!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Follow the penis...

Follow the what?!  Yep, you heard me correctly.  Penis.   Or at least that's what the four strategically positioned "arrows" most resembled...  And, what's with this Chihuahua marker!?

I've been looking forward to this morning's run all week... weather was predicted to be cold and rainy, with snow down to 3000 ft.  I haven't been in the snow in about 10 years and I've not ever just been out for a pleasure run or hike.  

Today I felt like a little kid looking for snow the whole hike... and then finding it!  

A little rain, but OMG it's really snow!

Yahoo, we made it... it's snowing!

 Photo Op!

There were a whole slew of Bastards on today's training session.  Team Triple Trouble + Jackie stuck with three other teams until the Upper Winter Creek Trail fork when we stopped to adjust gear.  Next time we saw our fellow Bastards was at breakfast. 

Oh but they left us plenty of markers to make sure we didn't lose our way!

The morning was everything I could have possibly wanted... Good friends, great giggles, new adventures and the best...  Snow, snow, and more snow!

Until finally, we hit the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and the wind...

Okay enough snow, it's freaking COLD!

If the morning had ended right there, I'd have been perfectly content.  But the adventure had actually just begun.  We still had to get down and by that I mean off the scar and down the face of Jones Peak!

The scar looks so benign from town... it's not.  It's steep and full of  soft, slippery sand.  

Look mom, I'm sand surfing!

Phil knew our route and Jackie is half mountain goat, so the two of them ran ahead and led us down the most remarkable paths.

Every now and then we'd get a break in the clouds and realize that we were almost home!

I'm very glad I brought my camera this trip.  Only shot missing is one of the Mt Wilson Trail from the Jones Peak approach.  Oh well.  Consider it incentive for you to take the trip yourself!

Such an amazing day.  

Such an amazing life.  

So very thankful!

BTW... the shoes... 

Inov-8 Roclite 268

Hands down winner!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Picky, picky, picky...

One month left...

We are in the final countdown to the race.  We are supposed to be dialing in our training, clothes, food, etc.  I have a pair of Solomon SpeedCross 3's that are gorgeous looking and perfect for short runs, but they  failed the test after about 10 miles. (Sole too rigid and laces nonadjustable.)
So, I just invested in a pair of Saucony Peregrine 3.  I bought them at Snail's Pace because they were the only place that still had my size. I had heard super good things about them and a number of my teammates wear the Peregrine 2's.  I had to upsize them to 9.5 to provide enough toe clearance which left them a little loose mid foot, but I figured that would be solved when my feet swelled during the longer runs.  The sales people at the shop totally agreed.
Last weekend I tested them on Mt. D and my grip was a little off because of slipping in the shoe.  Not enough to turn an ankle, just enough to mess with my stability.  Again, we had only run about 3 miles so I figured fit would improve with more distance.  

Today was 11.5 miles with lots of descent and the perfect test.  Result?  Minor slipping for the first 5-6 miles, a slightly rolled ankle that may or may not have been because of the shoe, and two quarter size blisters on the instep of both feet from the constant chaffing.  These shoes are definitely not going to work for 30+ miles. Damn it!  Bummer of the purchase is the store has a no return policy after any wear.  I know better than to buy regular retail, but I couldn't find them anywhere else.  Oh well... off to eBay they go!  Unless there are any Lady Bastards ready to update their running shoes?

I already buy my X-Talon Inov-8 trail flats from and absolutely love them. I'm on my third pair and if we were running less than 15 miles they'd be my shoes of choice.  But, we're running 30+ miles so I'm going out on a limb and have just ordered two different pairs of Inov-8 women trail shoes from Backcountry to test... the Roclite 268 and Roclite 275.  I did not up-size them since they say they run true to size and my shoes are normally 9.  
I trust Backcountry because they offer an unlimited unconditional return policy on all of their gear, shoes included. Wear irrelevant.  They are just like REI but with a much better shoe selection. So, $200 bucks on the credit card and cross your fingers that I'll have this nonsense sorted out before the race.  If not, it'll be pick the lesser of evils and just suck it up buttercup.

On a much more interesting note... we picked up a new teammate today!  Phil Incikaya is also a new Arrogant Bastard and after running with Maggie and I today has decided to join us for the event.  I'd been harboring a few concerns about Maggie and I soloing on night navigation but those fears are now completely gone.  Between the three of us, we will be invincible!!!

We had an absolutely fabulous time running together and throughout the morning we all displayed different strengths and weaknesses.  Phil is definitely a stronger climber, thanks to years of backpacking and hiking, but we always caught him on the descents leaving us all feeling well balanced and supported!

Thanks to a surprise photo op by Marleigh, we even had time for staging shenanigans with a fellow Bastard not quite silly enough to join the actual event.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disappointed but not by the mountain

Before the fun stuff, the critical part:

I am not Eric and I am just as obviously not your typical CrossFit box owner.  For some reason, that comes as a surprise to some people.  Seriously.  In case, you're one of them, here's a shocker... I am Kellie and just human, more so than some, less so than others.  I write this blog to share my humanness with friends, family, my community and even the open world. I really don't care who reads it. I allow myself to be vulnerable in my blog because I know that's the only way to be honest and reach people who struggle with "needing to be perfect" and falling short... repeatedly.  Some people actually think I am wrong to display my humanness for public scrutiny, thinking it inappropriate for my "position" and that it somehow makes me laughable in our community.

Those are heavy words to hear and very hard to ignore.  I go back and forth between anger, disappointment, sadness and my personal favorite... depression. The last three weeks have been dark as I've struggled with trying to see past this ugly side of humanity. (I really need to stay out of Facebook when I'm in this place because all I see are the turtle trapping, lion killing, child molesting horrors.)  These are the times when my deeply ingrained negativity becomes dominant and it's difficult for me to find the positive, motivational side of life and how to even connect with people, least of all write something uplifting.  So I go silent while I find my way back to a healthier perspective.

I can't say I'm there yet but I also know that wallowing in the feelings just makes them worse.  So next week I'm going to try something new. We'll see if it helps.  In the meanwhile, I'm just focusing on the fact that leaders make the best targets and if people are talking about me, then at least they're being reached and whether they are honest enough to admit it or not, they may actually hear my words.  For today, that will have to be enough.

So, after three weeks of silence...  fall down seven times, get up eight.

The last three weeks have been quite tumultuous. There were a number of highs... like crossing the 9-hour mark sleeping not once but twice in the last ten days (an unheard of feat in my sober life.)  Or the fact that my body fat % went down another point (28.17) and is slowly closing in on a record low.  As positive as those metrics are, at the moment I also clearly see the flip side that wrecks such havoc with my perfectionist personality... the two 6 hour nights and the insanely yummy popcorn I ate last night.  (sigh)

The Bastard 50k is right around the corner and the last three weeks have been all about team building, planning and practicing. I've been working very hard to establish cohesion with teammates and we've encountered a number of challenges. Last week Joyce had to drop and Maggie and I had to have a heart to heart.  Yesterday, it all came together.  Maggie and I planned and executed our training session perfectly.  Now, we're finally able to start focusing on the finer details of route selection, food, clothes, etc. Maggie and I make an excellent team and I'm very grateful for her friendship and enthusiasm...  AND the little extra nugget like her suggesting a team nutrition challenge. Starting this Friday through Christmas... no indulgences and no excuses.  Just what we both need to see us through the final push to the big night.

So, about yesterday...  It really was spectacular. I have been hearing about Mt. Disappointment for the last 8-9 years and somehow never climbed the trail... until yesterday.  First, let me say it was butt ass cold up there!  No snow, but a light breeze that made the temperature feel a whole lot lower than 36 degrees.  It seems Maggie's brain goes to sleep when she gets cold, so she wasn't taking any chances...

Not two, three or ever four layers... this girl was wearing FIVE upper layers, plus gloves, face mask and a fleece hoodie over is all.  Too funny!

Made my two wicking layers and a wind breaker seem like a base layer.  Yesterday did teach me though that during the race I will be packing glove warmers, one fleece layer... and a hat that fits properly!

Once we just accepted the weather and quit thinking about it, we were able to focus on appreciating our surroundings.  I've heard so many comments through the years about the difficulty of the climb that I was ready for much worse.  Granted it wasn't 101 degrees and we weren't coming off 20+ miles, so I have no doubt that trail is substantially harder under different circumstances. However, for my first climb it was PERFECT!

If you've been on Facebook, you've already seen this beautiful shot of the snowy mountain range and valley at sunrise:

That's only half the view, when you look in the other direction, down the trail we had just finished, you start to see the populated valley from a most gorgeous perspective:

The most perfect sight came at the top where the view stretched up and down the coastline, exposing not only Catalina, but the oil tankers in the Long Beach harbor.  Really!  Granted, DVH freezing in this photo rather eclipses the grandeur of the background. But, trust me,  if it hadn't been for my frozen fingers driven technical difficulties, I'd have the photos to prove those tankers were actually visible.  As it is, you'll just have to squint around the shivering Bastard.

At the end of the day, I do know down to my toes that every person on this planet is doing their absolute best to be the best person they can be, given their own set of circumstances at that moment in time.  Some moments our best is completely off the chart and other times we shouldn't be allowed in public.   The bit I need to remember is...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two Legs Closer to the 2013 Bastard 50k

Yesterday morning's training run was Leg 2 of the upcoming 2013 Bastard 50k.

The session was huge for a number of reasons....

1. Course familiarization - It let us see the second leg of the course, which was critical given the technical nature of the trail.  The first three miles were a beautiful single track descent with easy running for the most part.  When we hit the basin all that changed... there were streams (minimal at the moment but come race night, who knows!), undergrowth, fallen trees, poodle bushes, and quite a few places to temporarily lose the trail. All easy enough to navigate in the daylight, but will definitely require sharp eyes at night.  Then we had to climb out the other side and the terrain dried out and changed again... this time there were lots of green thorny bushes that looked kind of like Jerusalem Thorn but without the leaves, (If anybody knows what they actually were, I'd love to learn the details), small, sharp California Oak bushes, and of course a few strategically placed yuccas.

At any rate, I was very glad I was wearing capri's and knee high compression socks, because it seemed like everything was doing it's best to inhibit our passing and definitely made an impact on my clothes - I can only imagine what the legs of my poor bare legged running mates must must look like.  Oh, and there were also a number of areas where there had been landslides and the footing was narrow with little room for error.  Again, not a big deal in the daylight, but definitely requiring attention to detail during the race.

2.  Pace - The route finished around mile 17-18 of the race - almost exactly the half way point for the whole event.  That's important to realize, because I was totally spent when I got to the top of the climb yesterday.  My feet were sore and my legs had no running left in them.  That tells me clearly that I pushed too hard on the descent (which was perfect for a 9-10 mile run, but obviously inappropriate for a 32 mile event) and will need to hold back much more on the actual event.  On the flip side... Joyce and Sachiko were my running mates and Sachiko set a blistering pace for us down the mountain but somehow she never managed to lose us... at least until the final climb out, then she slowly pulled away, and ended up finishing the route about five minutes ahead of us two. She was one hell of a great example and I'm so glad she's on the team and running the race!  Thank you Joyce for leap frogging with me all morning, you are a kindred spirit and I love having you for a training partner!

3. Fueling - Well, I've verified the fact (again) that my fuel sources have to be all natural.  Yesterday, I ate just one of Joyce's Shot Bloks before the run and had indigestion for all three hours.  So on race night, I'll fuel on the fly with Endurolyte Caps, Rise Protein bars and Sesame Snaps (both regular and dark chocolate.)

At mile 18, the half way point, I'll take time for real food and make sure my drop bag has at least a thermos with hot and savory chicken stew or soup.  We'll see what recipes I come up with between now and then.  

4.  Suffering - By the time I got home I was wrecked and it took two Aleve and a hot epson salt bath last night to put me right.  I'm already wrapping my head around the impact of tying yesterday's run on to the back of leg one... and then doubling it.  This Bastard is going to hurt and hurt bad, there is no doubt about it. While I normally avoid using any kind of pain killers or anti-inflammatories during a training run, I will be using Aleve on race night.  Barring injury, I can see nothing to be gained by having to feel every little physical discomfort, so bring on a little buffer.

5. Team Building - The Bastard 50k will not only require the acceptance of serious suffering, it will require every ounce of mental stamina and teamwork that we can each muster. There are only a few people on the Arrogant Bastards who are familiar with these trails; the rest of us will just have to tough out the navigating challenges and keep our wits about us.  Every training session brings us a little bit closer to the real deal and I worry for my friends who have voiced a desire to participate, but aren't making all the training sessions.  This night will be hard enough with full preparation and I can't begin to imagine what the experience will be like without every minute of training possible.

6. Mental Perspective - This was probably the most important benefit of yesterday's training. Establishing and maintaining the proper perspective.  I can already tell that the 2013 Bastard 50k is going to be my toughest challenge to date, AND that it is totally doable, because I have already established a high bar of past experience to draw upon.  The AidsRide was longer and suffering horrible, but it only came in bouts of 10 hours and was only during daylight, so this will be harder.  The Goruck Challenge was eight hours at night but really only took strength and endurance, so this will be much harder.  I suspect only my night out on canyon self-rescue with ATS can even partially compare to what's ahead. That was also many hours at night, on single track trail, cold, wet and dangerous, but I was being led by true experts, so I suspect that this will be have to be much harder. The thing is, I've done all those events successfully, and I know down to my toes that I am up for this latest and greatest challenge.   Thank you Coach LeClair for creating such a fabulous way for us to test our mettle!

To end this post with one last blast of optimism...

Yesterday's climb was the worst of it!  Here's the full course elevation markers and the "only" significant climb still to get through will be Mt. Disappointment... the rest is all down hill!