Posted in Races

Pinellas Trail Challenge 2018

PTC 2018

Tony and I arrived late to the Start (I had plugged in the WRONG address) and my sweet friend; Nancy had to stay on the phone with me to get us there. Scott Johnson was my crew on bike, which was a perfect setup.

We made up good time, and everything was going swimmingly… up until the stomach cramps hit (sharp pangs that prevented me from running faster than a shuffle. The stomach issues were new for me. I needed ginger ale, and there wasn’t a gas station in sight, and due to my ill planning, I didn’t pack any with me.

My calves also thought it was a good idea to act up. I’d like to call the miles between 18-22 “My walk through self-doubt and questioning my sanity or lack thereof” and wondering if I could still call myself an ultrarunner after all of this was said and done. I was ready to drop by that point and tell Tony that I was ready to go to the beach.

All of this was happening before Mile 22. Thanks to the wonderful folks and friends at the Mile 22 Aid Station, they encouraged me to see how I felt at the next aid station. Thank you, Kelly, Steven, Nancy, and Karen!

By Mile 23 (yeah, that didn’t last long), I was done but would push to the next aid station as Nancy says, “Get to the next aid station and we’ll reassess.” I sat on a bench took some deep breaths and pushed along. I managed to do a little bit of running, and my stomach seemed to finally settle. I made it to the next aid station around Mile 26. You were right Steven; it was three ¾ miles to the next aid station!

I filled up on some fresh Gatorade and decided to keep going. The next aid station wasn’t for another 10 miles, but I had Scott at hand assisting me, so that wasn’t an issue, but my pace had dropped considerably. I would have to put in some running intervals to get me to the finish, which was NOT happening. I had to stop at a busy intersection and wait for that beloved pedestrian walking light to appear, but in the interim, my right quad decided to seize while I was standing there. I stretched and massaged it and proceeded to hobble across the street. I continued and saw a detour where the trail bridge was under construction. I had to cross a busy four-lane road and somehow managed to make it to the other side.

I checked my time. At the pace I was going, I would not have made it to the next aid station in time. I decided to call Nancy after crossing Mile Marker 29. This was not the finish I had in mind, but ending it sooner than later felt like my best option. Thank you to all the volunteers and friends that helped and encouraged me along the way!

With all that said, I’m taking a break from races, but not from running. My heart’s not in it, so for now, I’ll be at the gym.

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Posted in Races

Keep on Keepin’ on (PLEASE READ to the end)

I have experienced many successes in my short time as runner. I’ve qualified for both Boston and Western States. I still have yet to run either of them. I’ve completed several marathons and ultras (certified and uncertified distances up to 100 miles). I’ve also had some DNS (did not start) and DNF’d (did not finish) because my mental capabilities or finances kept me from the very thing that saved me.

Life happens followed by failure in a nearly 14 year marriage (not counting the year that I filed for divorce) and mental break downs that left me questioning my very existence and my relationship with God. I’ve lost many “friends” when I left the LDS (Mormon) church and through that I’ve found who my true friends are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart (cliché but absolute truth). Ending a marriage, coupled with a religion was devastating, other things (which I’ll discuss another day) were happening through all of this, but by the grace of God I got through it.

I kept running.

God is the ultimate Master of positivity. My strength is powered by Him. He has a way of putting some of the greatest people in my path many of which I have met through running or met through a happy coincidence and for that I am forever grateful.

I haven’t wanted to post until we were there, but I could really use some words of encouragement. I feed off your positive energy and will be carrying a piece of paper with your words in my vest. I don’t like flying, but I like to travel. Terrible, isn’t it?

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There you have it. Comment here or post something to my FB/IG. I need your positive vibes more than you know. Thank you all! Keep on Keepin’ on my friends :).

Posted in Races

Croom Fools Run 50 Mile 2017

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Woke up at 3 am and by 4-ish we were on the road to Tucker Hill. This is one of the closest races to our home and we have made some great friends over the years at the Croom Races. Andy Matthews is the RD for events held there: the Croom Zoom, Long Play 33 1/3Croom Fools, Moon Over Croom and John Holmes. At one time or another, I can say I have ran each of these races. The races are always a good time, whether you’re volunteering or running or both. I could go on and on about Andy and the volunteers who have become some of my closest friends, but I’ll save that for another time, just know that you’ll have plenty of love and support when you come out and play.

The race began at 6am, with headlamps on, we ran the starter loop (5 miles) down the asphalt road and onto a forest road where the sand began. I’m not a big fan of it, but thankfully I started the trek with Debra, a friend that I had met last year at the same race and ran with for the majority of Long Play. She is the type of positive energy you want to have around when you’re “embracing the suck.” Each time there was a bend in the road, I would think it was over, but…more sand. After 2 false alarms, we were back on the trail and making our way to the Start/Finish to begin our first loop (3 repeat loops of 16 miles each).

I knew that I had started out of the gate too fast. I have often warned my husband about this, but I openly admit I am just as hard headed as he is, but that’s what makes us who we are.

During the first loop, I fell somewhere right after crossing a forest road, thankfully it was only a burn on my knee. I came in at 2:47.

(Side note: My 13 yr. old daughter has come out for the last few events, but this is the first time she’s ever had to crew. She’ll be a good one in no time. My ultimate goal is to get her into a 50k, but that’ll take some time. I am hopeful that it will be sooner rather than later.)

I had my daughter make me a couple of hummus wraps and ate them as I headed down the path for the second loop. Second loop was tough, but doable and I added a lot more power walking. I came in at 1:10pm.

I left the main AS  at 1:18. Had a couple pieces of watermelon with mint (something we learned from our friend Amber), a protein shake (Walgreen’s off brand of Boost), and headed out for my final loop.

Final loop, only 16 miles and I’m done. After leaving the second AS, before the following 5 mile stretch, I felt completely alone. Negative thoughts began to filter through, but I put a quick stop to that when I thought of my friend Sue. She’s fought off cancer and survived a sky diving accident. You can read all about her experience here. She is such an inspiration an angel on earth.

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Sue’s hugs and encouraging words helped me get through that final loop.

My mind immediately switched to I’m happy that I am on this beautiful trail, on a warm sunny day, uninjured and I get to see my friends at the next aid station, I gave out a big cheesey smile to the universe (because smiling releases serotonin which is an anti depressant). Give it a try and let me know how much it changes your day.  I later learned that it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but that ain’t no thang, I’ve ran the Keys, I get the heat, it was my mind that needed to get this done.

Each time my legs would want to cramp up after going up the hills I would tell them, Not now muscles. You can cramp after the finish. They obeyed for the most part. When I began to hear the whoops and the hollers at the finish, I made my way up the last rooted section for the last time and crossed that finish line in 11:01. I came in 25/40 and took 1st in my age group. It was a good day.

Posted in Races

The Keys 100

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May 17th-18th: Oscar talked me into The Keys 100. He’s not one to let me give up on my dream of completing a 100, so I agreed even though I would have preferred the 50, but here we were getting ready to run from Key Largo to Key West.

The temps were unusually low and people that had come out to train for Badwater were irritated that it was actually chilly. I couldn’t have been happier. We kept up our 7 min run and 3 min walk for a good 25 miles. Then the heat started getting to Oscar. We walked some, but nausea and dizziness began to set in. I don’t remember how many bridges we had crossed before we made it to a manned aid station. Thankfully the unmanned aid stations had ice and water, so that helped out a great deal. The heat continued to go on the rise and we were both feeling it. We had ice in our hats and around our necks and with little shade we knew we were in for a long haul until the sun began to set. We walked in the shade and ran to the next piece of shade we could find.

We made it to mile 50 with no significant problems. I changed socks and hoped that would be good enough to carry me through the night. Up next was the 7 mile bridge. The biggest challenge of the night.  It was 9pm and if you’ve ever been on the 7-mile bridge you’ll know that their is no shoulder. We only had those orange barrels protecting us from the vehicles that zoomed past us, who were clearly not following the speed limit. We ran for a bit, but slowed it down to a walk somewhere in the middle. We noticed others whose walking pace was close to a jog and wondered how they could be cruising along so quickly. It was nuts! The bridge seemed to go on forever and running across a bridge at night made it even worse. Where was the end of this thing? I could feel a blister forming on the bottom of my left foot. I knew it was going to be ugly by the time we reached the next aid station. It took us 2 hours to get off that bridge. I wondered if I had it in me to continue. My feet were killing me and we were at mile 62 or so. Christian, one of the volunteers popped the blisters on both our feet slathered some Aquaphor on them and we set off into the dead of the night. I really don’t remember most of the night. I was dream walking and Oscar was pulling me along…literally pulling me along. We sat in front of gas station for a good 10 minutes. I just wanted to sleep for a little bit. I thought it would help, but we found out from Christian, that if we didn’t make cut-off time we wouldn’t be able to continue on in the race, so we proceeded. With a few shots of Espresso and Christian encouraging us along the way, I woke up enough to increase my pace. It was nearing cut-off time and as the sun began to rise, we ran over another bridge before we saw the aid station at the bottom. We crossed the mat to read our chip timers. We barely made it, but we made it… by mere seconds. A small triumph. It was 6:30am.

We persisted towards Key West in the never ending heat. My feet could barely carry me. The blisters felt like a waterbed and I was scrunching my feet to avoid feeling more pain. It felt like pins and needles with every step. We ran across the overpass and to the last aid station, but felt deflated when we learned we wouldn’t make the 32 hr. cut-off time. No buckle! This is the part I deeply regret. A mile after the aid station with only 4 more miles left. I dropped out. Oscar followed suit. My mind once again shut down and so did my body. Susan, the volunteer who had urged us on and helped us along through the night, morning and afternoon greeting us with ice packs to put around our necks and keeping us fueled, drove us to the finish. Only 4 more miles to go and I DNF’D, not only that I should have encouraged Oscar to continue on. I admire him greatly for quitting when he could have gone on. It wasn’t just my dream to finish. I knew it was just as crushing for him. 4 stinking miles! It would have taken another hour or so to finish, but it could have been done. Total miles completed- 96 miles.

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What did I learn from this experience? Pop the blisters and soldier on cupcake!

Well, the sting of this defeat has only urged the two of us to sign up for another in November to get the job done. Wild Sebastian is officially on the calendar.

Posted in Races

Zion 100

April 4th- A truly humbling experience. My first attempt at a 100 mile race. I had signed up for this race at the end of December with the full intention to finish this race. Why would I do anything less? Throughout the coming months leading up to the race, I went back and forth on whether or not I should run this difficult race. Was I really prepared for the mesas I would have to ascend and descend? I live in Florida for crying out loud! What kind training can a flat lander like myself get out here?!

Last minute, I decided I had enough training and with a 100k under my belt at least a couple months prior, it seemed I could take on the challenge. It was a mental game after all, right? That’s what I’m told, so I decided to take that theory on a test drive.

I enlisted the help of my friend, Tyler, to help pace me the last 50. He’s a native to Utah, so he was familiar with the challenges this course had to offer. I consider myself a semi-native. I lived in Utah from 7th grade until I graduated from college, but I hadn’t taken up running until long after I left the state.

We arrived late afternoon on Thursday, the day before race day. During packet pick-up I found myself with a few other Filipinos from San Francisco, which was a pleasant surprise. We talked about race pace and goal times. Race pace? Slow. Goal time? We all just wanted to finish.

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I woke up around 4am and with a couple of coffees, I was ready to get my run on. I set my drop bags out and gathered with the rest of the runners. I studied the other runners. Many carried the usual gear: a pack, compression calf sleeves, headlamp, gloves. One guy had on a pair of sandals on with each toe painted a different color. I wondered how his feet would hold up on the course. I wondered how my feet would hold up, after all I was using a brand new pair of Montrails I picked up in Virgin. I know, you’re NOT supposed to do that, but I did what I had to do because I knew the shoes that I had brought would be no good where I was running.

The countdown began and before I knew it, we were on our way. The only thing I could see were the dust clouds created by all the runners and further up ahead were a trail of headlamps. The course began with a 7 mile ascent. I slowed my pace and made my way up the mountain. Just when I thought I couldn’t get up that mountain, it finally leveled out. It felt good to be on top. Little did I know what lay ahead.

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Ran a bit with the guy in the colorful shorts, but ended up joining another group of guys which included Josh from St. Augustine, and two guys from Seattle. Pete, 62, who was Josh’s uncle, and the other guy was Pete’s personal trainer. We made our way to the second aid station talking about strategy. I was a willing listener due to the fact that Pete had ran this 100 before. As we approached the aid station,  I knew something was wrong with the back of my right heel, but didn’t realize it until I took off my shoe off. Sure enough, I had dried blood running down my heel from a few granules of dirt rubbing between the back of my heel and sock with added friction from my shoe. Luckily, the three guys had a crew waiting and with band aids to spare we headed off once again.

We meandered through the trails, some single tracks and some dirt paths that could accommodate two runners. The trail took us up past dried creek beds and past juniper trees. We ran in anticipation looking for the next mountain. When would it strike? After a while Pete said, “There it is. We’re headed that way.” It was a monster of a mountain. That’s where the next aid station was located and we were going straight up to meet it. Josh and Pete left PT and I to struggle up the nearly 90 degree mountain. I found a stick and used it as an extra foot hold. It was slippery. Up ahead someone was coming back down. It was another runner. “What the f$#%@?” PT said, We’re running back down this mountain? That’s when I began to think, I really should have reviewed the course map.

We finally made it to the top. There seemed to be a party going on at the Gooseberry Aid Station. People were sitting in camp chairs, changing socks and refueling. I stopped for a couple pieces of watermelon and began what I thought was a 4 mile loop. Nope, it was much longer than that. I ran through a pleasant path filled with Juniper trees on either side and some cows (didn’t expect to see that) and then the landscape changed and I was running on slick rock. I was leaping and bounding rocks and my hips were not in agreement with the change in terrain. The views were magnificent, but after making the final loop to turn around back to Gooseberry my body did not want to carry on. I was running on my own and it was getting cold. I began to trip over pebbles. Then I started walking. That’s when I knew there would be no buckle. I felt defeated and completely unworthy to call myself an ultramarathoner. Negative talk consumed me. I called my boyfriend, Oscar. He was in sunny Florida and I was in near tears in cold and desolate Utah. He wished he’d had come out. He knew before I called that something had gone wrong. I told him I had to throw in the towel. He stayed on the phone with me until I neared the aid station. It felt like an eternity just to get that far. I ran 43 miles. The mother of the RD was manning the aid station and nearly swayed me to run another 20 miles so that I could at least complete a 100k, but I thought better of it. I wasn’t feeling like running down that steep mountain at night. I knew I’d probably roll down the mountain and need to be carried out in a stretcher. No thanks. I’ll take my 43 miles and call it a day.

My mind could not carry me through this one. A volunteer who was the RD’s brother drove me down the mountain, so that I could meet up with Tyler. As the temperature continued to drop, I watched the other runners bundled up in their night time gear. It was supposed to get down to 25 degrees. Their headlamps were on and with determined faces they made their way down the mountain. At that point my devastation turned into a joyful feeling that I wasn’t going to have to endure a long night on the trails in the cold. I decided that I would try again next year. I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I’ll come back and defeat the beast. It wasn’t my time and decided that I was okay with that. So, what did I learn from this? The terrain is what did me in, not the elevation change. Also, my mind did NOT want to have anything to do with this race. Once your mind says no, you’re body will do the same. So, yes it came down to my mental game and inadequate training. I learned a lot from my first 100 and as a runner I continually learn about myself in the process.

Posted in Races

Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic 2010

I woke up at 4:30am, scared that I might have missed the alarm. Nope, but there was no way I would be going back to sleep. Only 3 hours of sleep. Good thing it’s 2 nights before the race that you should get your sleep. Good thing it’s 2 nights before the race that you should get your best sleep. I went into this race with the goal of finishing in 8 hours and 30 minutes. I didn’t want to exactly write it in stone on DM (dailymile), so I only told a select few (the hubby and my friend, Maribel). Sorry guys, but I know how disappointed I get in myself when I don’t accomplish exactly what I set out for. I know you know the feeling.

The race started at 7am, I told the hubby I’d like to be done at 3:30, so the family stayed at the hotel room while my friend, Maribel and I, headed to the lobby. My friend Jose, and his wife Morima, would be giving us a ride to the race. This was Morima’s first ultra and Jose’s second. He asked me if there was any advice I could give her. So, I tell her, “Eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty.” How is that for some sound advice :)?

They arrived at 6:30am at the hotel. We arrived at the race star at 6:51. My heart was pounding, because I still needed to go to the bathroom. I find my race number, head to the bathroom and vaguely hear the tail end of the announcements about where to pee and poop and where not to. My heart is still pounding because the 50 mile start is .40 miles from the start so I’m running to catch up with them. I stood at the start, listening to people talk about the weather last year  and looked around for any familiar faces. I remembered a few folks from last year’s race. Most of them dropped down to the 50k last year, because of the crazy weather. The weather is perfect on this particular day. Probably in the 50’s and sunny, so different from last year.

Gary Griffin, the race director, gave us the signal to begin. The course was a 10k loop (6.2 miles). The first 3 laps, I was doing a nice 8 min. mile place. I was feeling great. Of course, by the end of lap 4 I was feeling the pain in my knees, I took a couple of aspirins downed a GU and went on my way. During that aspirin lap, I felt I was sleep running. I was feeling so goooooood!

I do have to tell you that the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bananas at the aid stations were heaven sent. I dropped down to a 9 min. mile pace for the next couple of laps. At one turn around, I asked how many laps I had done, my lap counter says, “3.” I said, “What?!” When I saw her the next time, she says, “This is your 7th.” I told her I figured as much and kept going. Man, there was going to be some very bad words said if my laps were miscounted.

The last 2 laps were an absolute struggle, by then most of the 50k participants were out of there. Believe me, I was jealous. When I was approaching the end of my 44th mile, another guy was finishing his 50k. I asked him if this was his last lap, eh said it was and I could only say, “Oh.” He says to me, “With higher calorie intake, you could come out strong next year.” I knew that he was thinking I was doing the 50k as well. So, I shot back, “I’m doing the 50 miler.” All he could manage was an “Oh.” that time.

I was probably doing a 11 minute mile pace. I figured as long as I plodded along and didn’t walk I might have a chance at making my time. Of course, then again, I was also thinking, at least I won’t DNF. With only 2 laps to go, the pain in my right knee just kept getting worse and worse. The only thing I could tell myself was a line from Steel Magnolias. Except I was putting , Brody’s name in as well as my mother’s (2 days prior to the race she called to tell me she has breast cancer). Here’s what I kept telling myself, “I’M FINE! I can run all the way to Texas and back, but Brody and my mom can’t!” Which brings me to my own saying, “Running is the easy part. Life is soo much harder.”

Maribel ran with me the last 3 miles. She’s not a runner…yet :), but it’s in her blood (her father was a runner). It was so great to be able to share this moment with one of my closest friends. She kept my spirits up. She did a great job talking about anything, but the task at hand. My family was there close to the finish, waving their signs and clapping. My husband said, “Des, you’re going to do it! You’re going to make your goal time!” I had my doubts and since I didn’t realize that my watch was a few minutes off, I figured I had missed it, but I saw the clock as I rounded the corner and picked up legs to cross the finish. Official time: 8:30:53. I did it! I came in 9th place (3rd woman to finish). 15 people finished. There were a few that DNF’d, but I had no clue how many. Another great race! The volunteers were awesome!

The funny thing is, after this race, all I could think about was taking a shower, eating a bowl of broccoli and getting ready for my next 50. I’m planning on running my next 50 mile race on June 4, 2011, R2R. Maribel will be running in a relay team at that race and also Melissa (Brody’s mom). Still working on the rest of my WA friends :).