Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gold Star Week, Count Downs, and Updates!!!

A lot of bloggers are into "3 things Thursdays" and posts of that nature. I never have only 3 things to say so we're going to go with a "Too Many Things to Count Tuesday" sort of a post-- just go with it, ok? Just some interesting tid-bits/updates on Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge... (Note: if you are friends with me on facebook, most of these have been recent status updates, so excuse the repetition. I'm not feeling overly creative this week).

1) 11 flipping states to go!!! 11??? When did this happen. Where did the other 39 come from? Remember my #12 Leading Ladies pout, whine, and quit for aboutttt 2 hours because I thought I'd never make Boston Qualifying time and 38 more states sounded... well... "stupid" and "pointless" (yeah, sort of a rough day there.. eek). That was just about a year ago and I've done another 27-- TWENTY-SEVEN!!! since then and made BQ 4 times. Are you sad it's almost over? Don't worry-- I still have to double back on a bunch of states to get sub-4 hour times. Did you really think you could get rid of me that easily?? Pshhh... you crazy!

2) New Steph Record!!! I didn't realize this until after the race was over, but I finished my 19th marathon this year over the weekend. Last year I only ran 18 in the whole year and I'm already past that... I'llllll go ahead and give myself a Gold Star and a pat on the back.
3) Boston Count Down.... 18 Days until the BAA opens up registration for Boston! My (hoped to be) 50th state. knocking on wood and toes crossed.

4) Mid-Marathon Nap! Something funny happened at this past weekends marathon. I had to be at work VERY early on Friday morning (try 3am) for our inventory day and got very little sleep Thur night. Then flying out to the to Wyoming then driving 2 hours to the race in Idaho, getting in around 11 at night then getting up at 3am again... led to one sleepy sleepy Steph! Around the 6th or 7th  mile I felt myself "wake up" with a little start. I definitely had that feeling of being woken up and realized I had dozed off while running for just a second. (cause that's real normal). I confirmed it when I looked at my watch and realized my current pace was about a minute off my avg pace.

5) MN Zoom Yah! Yah! 1 Day Left!!!! We are supposed to be notified tomorrow if we've been accepted into the Zoom Yah! Yah! indoor marathon that is lottery based where only 40 runners are picked. So... as of tomorrow you will be notified if it's time to cheer for Coach Dick and the St. Olaf track team... or if we need to further harass them (Mel)!! :) Please stay tuned ...

6) GE Corporate Marathon Team. Got this note yesterday...
"Congratulations on being selected to represent GE in the 2011 USCAA Corporate Marathon and inaugural Half Marathon Championships at PF Chang's Rock'n'Roll Marathon in Phoenix Arizona on January 16, 2011."
Woohoo! And for the 40th time... yes, I have a job. No, it's not running-- Nike refuses to sponsor "Slightly better than average" runners. Their Loss!!! So yeah I get to participate in the 2011 USCAA Marathon Championships (that's US Corporate Athletic Associate) AND complete a state along the way!

7) Upcoming Marathons... I don't have another NEW state until Omaha on Sept 26th, unless I don't get into Zoom Yah Yah, then I'll be forced to run Walker North on Sept 18th *Yuck-- Gag me*! This would seriously impeded on my social life as I have a party to attend that weekend. Yes... in addition to a job, I also try and keep some sort of social life. (Running isn't everything, friends...) If I DO get into Zoom YahYah! I'll prob pick up a race on Sept 11 in Indiana (repeat state) just for fun.

Das about it folks. I owe ya 2 race ratings... Alaska and Idaho. Coming soon!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mesa Falls Marathon ~ Post-Race Thoughts!

This past weekend was the Mesa Falls Marathon in Ashton, ID. For me this is state number 39 and marathon/ultra number 42!

The Race
What I found that stuck out more than anything is that this race is truly all about the runners. What the runners want/need... the runners get. We had to be to the school early to be picked up for the ride to the start... so what do they do? They provide us with a full breakfast with all sorts of options. EVERY aid station (and they were at least every 2 miles) were fully stocked with multiple type of gatorade and powerade as well as food, GU (variety), and each had a port-a-john. We had the open road to ourselves. I don't think it was closed off, but we were free to run back and forth, going with the tangents as we came off the mountain.

The course was a point to point, mostly running down a mountain with a mix of trail, road, and gravel road. The views from this course and all the mountains around it, are amazing. There is a pretty significant elevation (at least to me) starting around a dizzying 6K+ ft.

Steph's Race
The first few miles were definitely difficult in the high elevation, but mercifully around mile 11 we started a good sized decline. Gearing toward mile 13 we had a really good sized downhill and the half-marathoners (starting at our mile 13.1) hadn't started by the time we got there so we had a huge crowd to cheer us through.

This is the first time in a long time I tried to keep my pace above 8 min/mile and I've never felt so good at the end of the race. Granted we had a pretty good sized uphill from 18-20 that tired me out and helped finish off trashing my quads, but I still felt really good in the last 6 miles.

They haven't posted the results, but I was around a mid 3:40'ish time. So another state I won't have to repeat and I managed to get 5th overall and 2nd in my Age Group!

Up Next...
The next (non-repeat) state is Omaha (#40!) in a MONTH! Wow, wrapping up a triple marathon month with a long break. I MAY pick up an additional marathon over the next 2 weeks, because there is something seriously wrong with me. In the mean time... speedwork, hillwork, and hitting the weights!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" - Meb

Friday, August 27, 2010

HURL 50K- Race Ratings (#37- MT)

Tag line: "Come Enjoy our 31 Mile Mountain Climb!!!"

2010 HURL Elkhorn 50K ~ August 7, 2010
Helena, MT ~ Helena National Park
Year Running: 15th
Registration Fee: $60 ($80 late)
Charity Race? No
Runners:  58 Completed (62 Started),  22 Females
Available Races: 50K, 50 Mile, 23K
Average Finish Time: NA
BQ %: NA

Overall Race Ratings: 3.7/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 3.7/5.0
~ This is a very challenging race with a very organized race director. One of toughest trail ultras around that no amount of hill work can prepare you for. They're well stocked to help out the runners along the way and a tight knit running community makes it fun.
Race Director: Let's play race director...
~  Getting spectators out to these tough points has to be hard, but if there is a way it would definitely be a plus. Long stretches with so few runners makes for a lonely race. That combined with the many challenging climbs is a little defeating. With all the sponsors, give away less random stuff at the pasta dinner and opt for medals... after that mountain climb I felt I deserved at LEAST a medal. That or a shrine in my name :)

Event Organization: 4.5/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~ 15 Miles
Rental Car Required: Yes
~ Being Montana's state Capital, the airport has plenty of hotel options around the airport. There is a 20-30 minute drive from the city out to the park where the race is run, so a rental car would be needed. The website for this site is definitely a little confusing as there are actually 2... each with incomplete information. There is no online registration... mail in only. Getting to the course wasn't too bad. Getting into the park, there were signs leading the way to the starting area.

The spaghetti dinner involved a raffle where they gave away a ton of prizes from their many sponsors. I wasn't able to make the dinner, but I won a water bottle waist pack.

Race Organization: 4.5/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Heed powder, unmixed.
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability: Hammer Gels/Various/All Aid stations.
~ There were plenty of aid stations with great volunteers. Each aid station was fully stocked with candies, cookies, soda, gels, etc. At mile 28, there was a particular aid station that provided a cold coors light! Being in a very hilly (mountains) park, it wasn't possible to put out mile markers, but the actual markers pointing the ways were very good... this was the first trail race I didn't get lost on! There weren't any port-a-johns that I'm aware of, but we were in the woods so that wasn't too much of a problem.

~Post Race Food: .The had a lunch ready for when we got back including make your own sandwiches with cold cuts, cheese, etc. They had all kinds of chips, candies and cookies, and a huge bucket full of any kind of drink you may need from electrolyte drinks to sodas and beer.

Course: 4.7/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating... NA
Garmin Distance: NA
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: 11,460/11,460
This is a VERY challenging course! I was told it was one of the top 5 toughest ultras... but not until I was halfway through (or I may not have taken on this race). There is a series of about 4 mountain passes you go through an extreme elevation gain and loss. The uphills are so steep, they're difficult to run at all and the downhills are mostly rocky switchbacks that are also very steep and difficult to run. The view from the top of the mountains is amazing.... slash combined with the high altitude and lack of oxygen to the brain, may make you feel like you have vertigo. I got very frustrated on the downhills because they were often too rocky to risk running quickly down, rather I was leaping from spot to spot trying not to trip and fall or sprain an ankle.

Spectators: 2.0/5.0
~ The volunteers had a very challenging time getting to us on the course, let alone any spectators. And there were definitely points of long uphill stretch where a spectator would have been nice. The volunteers did try to make up some for the lack of spectators.

Pace Group: NA/5.0
~ NA

Runner/Corrals: 4.0/5.0
~ No Corrals. Runners were very nice. This is a running group (vigilante runners) from the area that puts on these challenging runs year round. There is plenty of comrodery between them all and they're there until the last runner crosses the line. I was able to meet a few 50-staters and maniacs while there, but the bulk of the runners were from the local running group.

Expo: NA/5.0
~ NA
Swag: 2.6/5.0
~T-Shirts: The T-shirt was ok. It's a low key tech T with an elk on the upper left breast. Not the prettiest thing in the world... but honestly I'm surprised they had T-Shirts at all. Most ultras don't, especially these smaller ultras. 2.8
~Medals: No Medal (per normal for ultras) but they did give us nice certificates created by a local artist and had our names and times put on them. -.2
~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bags had a few odds and ends extras... nothing standout.

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time:
Place: Overall- 13/56, Gender- 4/22, A/G ("Open" 0-39)- 4/11

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alaska and Race Updates!

Haven't had much of a chance to post lately, but I'm still here-- I did not get eaten by a penguin in Alaska or anything, no worries.

I posted a little about the trip so far, but it was a ton of fun with MB, Aunt Terri, Grandma, and Jodi. Alaska is so pretty! We went on a boat tour, went shopping, went to the dog sled show and held the puppies, saw glaciers, dressed up as a moose (ok that was just me)... oh yeah and ran a marathon!

(Pic Left: Myself and 2 very sleepy Iditarod hopefuls.... they get less lazy as they get older

Pic Below: Grandma, myself, MB, and Jodi before our races)

The Marathon was probably the least exciting part of the trip. I wasn't feeling at all well leading up to the race and had a little bug going on. It started out great (so nice in the cool cool weather). I was even able to keep my moose hat on while running! But, around mile 14-ish I started feeling quite sick to my stomach and proceeded to vom all over Alaska. I couldn't keep anything down (not even the dixie cups of water they gave us) and if I ran anything remotely quick my stomach would go into knots and I would dry heave (nice image, huh?). Apparently if you're not eating or drinking in a marathon... it makes it quite difficult to run! So I ended up JUST over 4 hours. :( Oh well ... I'll just have to go back to Alaska... not that I would mind that! :)

Prior to the marathon there was a kids race and general merriment around the area. Bart Yasso was the announcer for the day, and stuck through from the kids race straight through to the finish of the marathon. They had fantastic volunteers through the whole race and there were a TON of maniacs on the course to cheer each other on (always love that). I was even able to meet Morgan (who I've blogged about a few too many times for never having met her lol). She was sans crutches, but still working back to full recovery! Morgan was with Gary who once again beat the 3:00 clock in a marathon... super fast.
(Pic left: Barty Yasso, myself, and MB before the marathon)

Post-race, Humpy's Bar (the sponsor of the race) is right at the finish line. Aunt Terri and I grabbed a beer and were able to watch from the roped off area out front while we waited for MB. MB finished with one of her best times and then we were off to Humpy's for lunch. Oooh but not before Grandma and I broke it down outside. I dropped the beat and grandma showed off her Zoomba moves...

I still owe you a race report for this one and Montana... coming soon-- stay tuned!!!

Huh? Yup Idaho this weekend! This weekend we're traveling to Ashton, ID for the Mesa Falls Marathon. I don't think I know anybody going there so if you're going let me know! This will be an all new state for running... and for traveling to. I've never been to Idaho... any suggestions on "Must Do's" here? I know one... avoid the bears! Check! I'll try my best.

Minnesota... Zooooom yah! yah!
I'm currently signed up for a marathon in Minnesota that I would rather not do. However, I submitted my name into the Zoom yah! yah! indoor marathon. It's a lottery selection and I hope to get picked. Along with my application, I sent in a list of reasons why I would make a great candidate for the race.. in hopes that the zoom yah yah racing gods will take it into consideration.

Z-ealous! Plenty of that here. Be part of my manic marathon/ultra marathon running- 18 in 2009, 30 in 2010, 50 States by Boston 2011!
O-hio Entrant!! Need one? I’m your girl!
O-r New York? I have addresses in BOTH places—I can be either one!
M-innesota! “Be My Minnesota!” I hope to make your race part of my 50 states!
Y-ou would do WHAT? I would dress up… even be your mascot! I believe St. Olaf’s mascot is a Lion? I would dress up as a lion if you want. I wish I were kidding… You may too!
A-dvertising for FREE! I have a blog with a few hundred unique followers each month. I write about all my races and would definitely include this one.
H-arassment. I promise to stop harassing you if you let me in!!!
Y-outh Representation! At age 25 I would certainly be one of your youngest participants. I’ll also be one of the youngest to finish the 50-states!!!
A-ll around pleasure to have. I don’t spit on courses, I always clean up my gel/water cups/other marathon waste on the course, and I cheer on other runners!
H-ow can you say “no” to me with all of these great reasons to let me in?
A lot of campaign promises... but I'll live up to every one of them if I'M selected president of the United-- oops I mean if I'm selected for the marathon. I heard back from the director who applauded my effort but of course cannot promise me a spot (that wouldn't be fair to other lottery applicants). The drawing for the race is Sept 1st! So I'll know in a week if my propaganda worked!!! Everybody keep your toes crossed for me!

Happy Running,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Alaska Day 1 and Race RUNdown

I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska late last night. I couldn't sleep on the plane, which ended up instantly adapting me to their time zone. Woke up early, did a quick 4 miles down in the hotel fitness center then got ready to meet up with the rest of the fam. This is a girls weekend for (in picture order) CJ (Groupie #1), Grandma, Steph, MB, and Aunt Terri.
The girls on Alaska Day 1
After breakfast we took a scenic 2.5 hour drive to get to our boat tour. The whole drive was very pretty, full of amazing mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, mountain goats, and more.
Alaska so Pretty!
The boat tour was really fun and we were able to see whales, otters, puffins, mountain goats, and more. After the tour, more crazy animals came out and it turned into "what can we make stephanie do?"

Pictures Below... 1) The girls with our animal hats. 2) Our fierce bear faces with our new friend. 3) Being a Moose... why not?. 4) Moosie prayers!... praying all goes well at the marathon tomorrow.
The girls with Animal hats

Tomorrow is the Big Wild Life Humpy's Classic Marathon...
AK Race RUNdown...
Humpy's Classic Marathon ~ Sunday August 16, 2010. (#38) 9:00am Start
Anchorage, AK ~ Downtown Anchorage
Registration Fees: $65 early ($75 to $90 late)
Year Running: 5th
Races Available: Marathon, Half-Marathon, 5K, Marathon relay, kids run
2010 Expected Field: NA
2009 Field:  228
... Females: 113  ... Age Group: 12 (25-29)
2009 Avg. Finish Time: 4:32:56
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/Yes
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: "Walker" start option. 7 Hour cut-off
Weather Update: They're expecting showers in the am but only 30% chance of precipt. The temp should be in the high 50's to the mid 60's-- which will be amazing compared to the ultra hot temps we've had in Cinci.

MarathonGuide Rating:
This is a new course for the 5th year. The course goes out a little over 9 miles, then returns on the out and back but halfway back there is an additional out and back to make up the remaining mileage. The course starts and finishes downtown, but most of the major out and back is run along the coast, which should give us some pretty good scenery. It's run on what they call a "trail system" but I don't know how technical these types of trails are.
Happy Racing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alaska this Weekend!

This weekend we are off to Alaska for the "Big Wild Life Runs". The race is held in Anchorage, AK and includes the Humpy's Classic Marathon, the Skinny Raven Half Marathon, and the Snow City 5K.  I'll be joined this weekend by MB of course, but we'll also have some special guest appearances by... Grandma! (running the 5K), Aunt Terri! (cheering!) and Cousin Jodi! (aka CJ, or "Groupie #1") running the 5k as well, I believe. It's a family affair at this weekends race... Girls Weekend Out (Alaskan Style).

Gearing Up and Getting Ready
Race Ready? I'm definitely still a little sore from last weekends mountain climbing experience (aka the HURL 50K race). I ran 2 days later and did a spinning class last night to try and loosen the leg muscles and get some of my mileage in on sore legs. I ran a little speed work today to get my turnover back where it should be. I'll get a run in tomorrow (probably an easy 4-5) and try and get 2-3 in on Saturday (Sunday is the race). Hopefully our hotel has a hot tub so I can really get loose!

Alaska Ready? This is definitely a trip rather than just a marathon weekend. We'll be staying Friday-Tuesday (early). I've never been to Alaska (and don't see too many opportunities where I will go again) so I hope to get in as much as possible! MB has been sending us links of things to do in Alaska, such as ride a dog sled and go on a whale watching boat tour. Besides that I haven't had much of a chance to look into anything. Do you know of anything in particular we should do in Anchorage??? Just leave me a comment or send me an email!

10 Reasons Why I'm Excited for Alaska
10. Longer days of sun light-- have you noticed the drive to work getting darker already? :(
9. I get to run a marathon... duh
8. Vacation/Anchorage Exploration... instead of just heading into a town for a race then flying right back after, we'll actually be staying for a few days and will be able to explore all that anchorage has to offer.
7. Hawaii & Silver Medallion! After flying to this race I'll have earned enough delta miles this year to both become a silver medallion member (not sure exactly what that means yet) AND have enough miles to get a free ticket to my Hawaii Marathon!!!

6. Whale/bald eagle/husky/polar bear/penguin... watching... yes, I've been informed that there aren't penguins in Alaska, I'll believe it when I see it!
5. Snoop Dog is in Anchorage!... no joke the 1 and only D-O-Double G!
4. Really Cool shirts for the runs (each race has the same shirt in a different color!)
3. COOL Weather... I've been running in the 90's and 100's it'll be nice to have some cool weather running!
2. I've never been to Alaska!
1. Family trip for just the girls!... we've never had one of these before.

That's all for now. A full race RUNdown coming in the next day or 2!

Monday, August 9, 2010

HURL 50K- Post Race Thoughts

Saturday was the HURL 50K in Helena, MT. Let me start by saying, this was by far THE most challenging race I've run (including the 50 miler a few weeks ago). The race was less a 50K run and more a "try and run up and down our giant steep mountains...he he" -- at least that was my take on it.

The Race Start... Who Stole the O2?
When I first got to the race site I thought "why can't I breathe? Where did all the oxygen go? I had not known how high the elevation was going to be at this race and I didn't exactly prepare for it. oh well... off to the start! We started on a mile rolling dirt road/path. As soon as we were on the first uphill grade I felt like somebody hit me in the lungs, but thought if I just tell my lungs to shut up and push through it, they'll adjust and we'll be ok. After about a mile of the rolling dirt path I thought "ok this isn't bad... we've got this in the bag." That's when we banked left into the trail... oh FML.

Mountain O' Death #1
We immediately went into a little more technical trail and switch-backed our way UP to the base of a mountain. Around mile 4 I saw it... the steepest, longest mountain I've ever run in my life. I tried to run at first then reminded myself that 1) I wasn't going ANY faster than if I was walking, yet I was expending way more energy and 2) Ultra runners don't run these steep hills so I would soon be the only one winded and we were only at mile 5. This "Mountain O' Death" continued to get steeper, even with switchback letting us wind up the mountain side instead of ascending directly up. This "hill" (as they call them out there) continued for 3.5 miles going as hard as I possibly could... at 25 Min/Mile pace. Oooh this is going to be a long day...

We did come back down the other side and had some nice steep, but good footing down for about 3.5 miles. Not too bad. This is when we went back up the stupid mountain... seriously?? As we ascended again, I was used to it, but we hit a patch that (for the first time in my running history) made me actually STOP, sit down (on a rock) breathe deep and take a GU. Around mile 13 I thought "There is no possible way I can finish this... but there is also no possible way for anybody to get to me to get me off this course" Onward ho...

Steph Gets Snarky... Apologies to the Aid Station Volunteers
The descent from this side of the mountain was not as wonderful as the first time. This time it was very steeply graded and covered in all sort of rocks. You couldn't run fast, instead doing the worst thing for your quads and pulling back as you reach forward with your legs. Somehow I managed NOT to fall to my death and made it to an aid station... mile 19! With 12 more to go I wasn't exactly in a great mood and had a little chat with the aid station people. It went a little something like this...

Aid Station Man (ASM): How ya feeling? (*smug smile on face*)
Me: HORRIBLE (*Look of pure horror, exhaustion, and anger on face*)
ASM: Well what hurts?
Me: EVERYTHING! You made me run a MOUNTAIN... that back there is a MOUNT-TAIN
ASM: (*laughs*) Well you're almost done
Me: (*Look of This is SO not funny... and now I hate you as much as the mountain*) And what? It's all downhill from here? (fairly sarcastic... yet somehow at the same time still hopeful)
ASM: NO! You still have this hill here behind me to climb
Me: (*Peeking around ASM and seeing only a mountain*) I don't see any hills
ASM: RIGHT THERE! (*Points to said Mountain*)
Me: THAT, again, is a MOUNT-TAIN, not a hill!
ASM: (*Laughs*) Well out here we call that a hill
Me: Well the rest of the world would call that a large mountain. And you people are nuts.
ASM: OH you'll be alright

Leaving ASM and moving on, I started running with another gentleman who I find out has done this course quite a few times. After about a mile and a half I say "Are we almost to the top" at which point he laughs and says "NO! We're almost to the base!" I explain that I had NO conceivable idea how hilly Montana, let alone this race was. To which he replied "Montana IS Spanish for mountain" in a "you're a dumbass" kind of way. A few miles later I look down across the valley we just ran through and realize that the "Hill O' Death" from the beginning of the race, was now LOWER than we were... and I still had a few more miles of climbing. Again, I find myself at point unable to keep moving and have to stop to catch my breath and squat down to relieve my legs-- at which point they start to numb. That can't be good.

The Longest 12 miles of my Life and Steph's Melt Down...
*Picture: The mountain described in the last paragraph. The start of the race is a little lower than where this picture was taken. See those tiny towers on the top? The following melt down occured as I approached those...*

The last 12 miles took about 2.5 hours. It continued with mountain climbing to the peaks, only to discover steep, rocky downhills that were incredibly difficult to descend. Toward the top of this last Mountain I look at an orange marker indicating I need to continue up and the following comes flying out of my mouth (yes, at the trail marker)...

"Oh really?? Well let's see... I can't go back DOWN the steep mountain with all the jagged rocks for 2+ miles only to go back to ASM who won't be any help. I can't go to the left and go directly DOWN the mountain side. I can't go to the right that would be an even steeper path up. So up? Is that where you want me to go?? AS IF I HAD A CHOICE???" ... I then realized I was talking to an orange piece of tape, and continued on my way before "Spanish for Mountain" man caught back up with me.

We ran into a few streams that we had to run through to continue the path and in the only mildly flat area, it was covered in weeds, leaving  you blind to your footing. On all the hills I had done SO well not to fall. So when do I finally bite it? On the flat... in the weeds... as a 50 miler is coming toward me. I land right on my wrist and wrench it inward (it still doesn't feel right) and jump back up in time for the 50-miler to ask me if I'm ok-- so she DID catch that spill, damn!

I get to mile 28 and find an aid station full of men who ask me what I want. I point at one holding a coors light and say "THAT... can i have one of those?" They think I'm nuts, but give it to me anyways. This is by far the BEST beer I've ever tasted in my life! They are very helpful (or so my buzz says) and push me forward to finish the last 3!

Finally, god has mercy on me and we're back on the initial dirt path/road thing. At this point I cannot believe I thought this was (to any degree) a rolling hill. I finish in 6:40 time. Not great at all... but I'm happy I survived. Post-race celebration can be found in the ice cold creek. "Spanish for Mountain" Man brings me to said creek, where my legs go completely numb from the cold and I fall in love with the 60+ year old man for bringing me there! (The buzz from mile 28, clearly hasn't worn off yet)

What I Learned
Usually, after a new distance or type of race, I do a little "lessons learned" for those interested in doing something similar. This is more of a "Lessons Learned about Montana Races"...

1) Montana is Spanish for Mountain -- thanks dude!
2) This is the 5th toughest trail ultra in the US (I find out around mile 20 from "Spanish for Mountain" Man)
3) There is no "hill work" that is adequate for this... unless you have a spare mountain nearby that you can run miles at a time.
4) Montana's trails contain more type and size variety of animal dung I've ever seen in my life...
5) These people love their mountain climbing... me? Not so much...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

H.U.R.L. 50K - Race RUNdown (Montana)

Inspiration Points...
1. HURL! The name of the race has the word HURL in it... Mostly an acronym for the running groups name, but I'm also hoping indicative of the difficulty! I need a good solid challenging race-- it makes the normal ones so much easier.
2. New Distance! I've done well over 50K and I've done plenty of marathons, but I've never raced an official 50K distance-- that I can remember? Hmmm. BTW that's just a spit over 31 miles.
3. I <3 Trails!... Another trail race, and this one is part of the trail ultra series, so I'm hoping to get points!
4. O-H! Go ahead and say it... I-O! I'm the first runner from OH to participate in the race!

MT Race RUNdown...
H.U.R.L Ultra Marathons ~ Sunday August 7, 2010. (#37) 7:00am Start for the 50K, 5am start for the 50 Miler! NEW for this year@!!! There is a 23K (~14.25 miles?) and is low key on advertising. If you want to join, but don't want to go the full distance, check out the website and sign up! 
Helena, MT ~ Crystal Creek Campgrounds
Registration Fees: $60 early ($80 late) Availability in the 50K, 50M and 23K!!! Sign up now!
Year Running: These races have been going on since 1989, but have changed dramatically over time due to forest fires, and race re-organization. The 50K wasn't added until 1997. Recorded results (online) available back to 2006)
Races Available: 50K, 50 Miler, 23K
2010 Expected Field: 52 Runners signed up for the 50K by July 29, 2010.
2009 Field:  51 Starters, 46 finishers
... Females: 18  ... Age Group: 5 (0-39)
2009 Avg. Finish Time: N/A
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Unknown.
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: Cutoff time 9pm for all races. No early start.
Weather Update: They're been updating the weather forecast and they're expecting rain and thunderstorms throughout the week-- never good for trails. Current weather forecast calls for rain on Friday, making for a slippery trail! Saturday should start in the mid-50's and get up to 83. That probably sounds hot to the Montana runners, but after the 50-miler in the 90's I'll be thrilled at this!!!

MarathonGuide Rating: N/A-- not a marathon distance
This is looking to be a fairly challenging course with significant elevation gain and loss. The highest point of the course is 7,920 ft. Web description: "The current 50 K course consists of approximately 25 miles of single track trail and 2 miles of unimproved jeep road and 4 miles of dirt Forest Service roads."

Race 411:
Race Director is #1 Reading up on the race, this director is supposed to be great! From my experience he's pretty fantastic-- securing my marathon bib #37 (for my 37th state) and sending out email updates to all the participants starting this week. He also made sure to email me and let me know he received my registration, and was readily available for any questions I had before I signed up.
Hammer Products! I'm not a huge fan of the hammer gels, but I love HEED (their electrolyte drink)-- both of which will be on the course.
~Aid Stations- The air stations (as with most ultras) will be stocked with goodies-- chips, cookies, crackers, PB&J, soda... yummm-y!
~Dinner! Your entry fee includes, dinner at the post-race celebration at 7pm.

Race Plan:
There are a few plans I have rolling around in my head, but there are some definite goals I have...
1) Do NOT get lost!!! All of the trail races I've run, I've gotten lost and off track for at least a half mile, adding mileage onto my race. Not cool-- esp out here where it's a lot harder for them to find runners in such gigantic woods. Oh and there are bears... nuff said. 
2) Take it Easy- I have a road race in Alaska next week where I would like to do well. Hopefully I don't do what I do in all trail races and go out like I'm about to break the womens AND the mens records. 
3) Course Records? The open course record for women is 5:41:13... that doesn't seem so hard, or does it?
4) Do NOT get lost!!! Have I mentioned this already? Ok good.. just making it clear!!!

Throw Back! Bring it back now ya'll...
Reverse the Countdown!
This is my 37th marathon-state, meaning I have 14 to go including this race. What was going on around state #14!?!? I was running The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle  on September 13, 2009! Yep-- I'll have run over 23 marathon states (plus and extra OH) in 11 months. I traveled with the local galloway runners (pictured right).

This was the race I threw a little (ok major) tantrum in the middle of the race because I knew I wasn't going to hit a BQ time and I thought it would never happen. Poor Dave C. pulled me through the race... and the tantrum. We took the second half very easy and ended up with a time over 4 hours! :( No problem-- I'll be going back to PA for redemption this fall in the Philadelphia Marathon! Speaking of redemption... I DID finally make (and by make, I mean smash) my BQ time and have done so 4 times this year! :)

This time in 2009...
Last year was when I really started ramping up my marathon schedule and overall mileage. What was happening around this time in 2009? I was in between state #11 (San Francisco Marathon) where I paced, and State #12 (Park City Marathon). Doesn't that seem so long ago???

Meet up Info: I'll be meeting up with 2 maniacs (Jeff and Joni) who are both from Billings, MT. If you're in the area of Helena, let me know and come join us for one of the races!

Happy Racing!