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!