Monday, April 14, 2008

A Perfect Weekend

For those of you who didn't stay in Seattle last weekend, you may have heard what an awesome Saturday we had in the weather department. It felt like summer with temps nearing 80 and clear blue skies overhead. For some reason, when it is like this, I get a burst of energy to clean my house. Donn likes to be outside, but I feel an urge to mop and dust, so I gave into it, until he observed that it would be a good day to be in our boats on the lake. So I dropped the housework and piled the gear into the car while he loaded the boats on top.

Testing paddles on the lake....

For my birthday, Donn wanted to get me a new kayak paddle of the carbon-fiber variety. We went to NWOC on my birthday sans our boats just to see what they had. Herbie showed us the variety of paddles and suggested we bring the boats by to demo them. I was too pooped from running Chuckanut the day before so I said I'd come back another weekend. Well finally we got back there and boy was it crowded! Lots of people were renting kayaks and getting out on the lake to enjoy the rare weather we were having! But they weren't too busy to let us try some paddles. First I had to compare low angle versus high angle paddles. We got in the boats and were off. As you can see, it was a pretty day!

Donn testing one of my paddles

After deciding on the low angle paddle, next I compared bent versus straight shaft. I like to feather my paddle at abouto a 45 degree angle, feathering the right paddle. I discovered that Donn feathers the opposite paddle and at 30 degrees. I kept wondering what the hell was wrong with the paddle - it took me a while. I ended up really liking the bent shaft; it felt easier on my wrist. So I decided on that and am now waiting for it to come in to NWOC. Yay!!

What was really perfect about this day was I was walking around NWOC in shorts and a tanks top and barefooted and didn't even feel the slightest of chill! It was such a contrast from two weeks earlier of January in March to July in April - nice! After dropping off the boats at home, we headed to Ballard for a Goodwill drop off and ran into Linda and Mike, who suggested we try a new Vietnamese restaurant called The Monkey Bridge. It turned out to be a great prerace meal for Mt Si 50K. I highly recommend it - it's on Market and 17th where the old Stimac's Pharmacy used to be.

Hanging with the ultra legends....

Three years ago, I ran on a relay team at Mt Si Relay and Ultras. I saw the 50K and 50 mile runners out on the trail and was in awe of them. I was two weeks away from running my second marathon (in my life AND in 20 years). I told several of them how I was in awe of them. So it was really deja vu but from the other side to hear that last Sunday as I ran the 50K! Even got it from a former running partner who didn't recognize me at first (I had sunglasses on); when I shouted Hi Desiree, she almost flipped! But I get ahead....

I got there at the leisurely hour of 7:30 and immediately looked for my friend Kaci
who was running her first official 50K. She ran the 25K Orcas Fat Ass for her first trail run and got hooked. She is such a stud! Here she is ready to rock and roll--->

I was ready to go as well and wondering how the day would unfold. I hadn't slept well most of the week, and on Thursday I tried to body surf the trail along the Montlake Cut while out on a run with my boss and a lab mate.
I skinned up my right knee and left elbow pretty good, but tegaderm is my savior. By Sunday, I felt as good as I could and was ready to see what the day held.

As we took off, I tried to hold a little back and ease into my pace. The fast runners were off, and the rest of us seemed to hang together more or less through the golf course. The sun was out and it seemed it was going to be another warm day. My stomach wasn't feeling so hot and I was hoping off and on for a porta john to appear on the trail. A gal was running behind me and soon came up to my side and started chatting. She was in the 2005 ChiRunning class I took with Danny Dreyer; she said she noticed my running style and thought I was ChiRunning. Guess that's a good sign about my form. She lived nearby and said she runs these trails in minimal shoes; she also ran Portland marathon last fall and was really into the technique. She soon moved ahead and I chatted off and on with other folks nearby.

I saw two gals running up ahead and recognized one as Lynn Yarnell. I had met her at Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass. She and her running partner were on a run/walk pattern and I caught up to them about mile 5. I re-introduced myself to Lynn. The other woman turned out to be none other than Chris Ralph, former RD of White River, and co-RD of Plain 100, to name a few. I had the privilege of hanging with them and listening to some great stories. They were such a blast! In addition, as much as I love ALL my running buddies regardless of age, it was fun to chat about issues (physical, life, whatever) with gals in my age range.

We came into the mile 10 aid station where local ultra legend Jim Kerby was hanging out. He saw them and gave them big hugs. He turned to me and said he didn't know me but he'd give me a hug anyway! He asked how I was doing and gave me a mini-lecture about eating every 30 minutes. I promised to get back on track pronto with the nutrition!

Lynn and Chris both grew up in Seattle and went ice skating at the same rink in Ballard but didn't know each other at the time. They talked about life in Seattle in the old days and where they went to school. At one point, they started singing "15 Miles on the Erie Canal"; I could only remember the first verse, but they remembered the whole song! I think ultras enhance your memory! I ran with them til the turn around when I stopped to get a rock out of my shoe. I had 15 miles to go with "15 miles on the Erie Canal" going through my head!

At the turn around I had taken my pack off, and when I put it back on, I thought I had ants in the back and got a fellow to check my back. It turned out to be a nasty rash from all the sweat and rubbing. Fortunately, the clouds were returning and cooling the air off. After eating a piece of ginger, my stomach and gut started behaving. We had seen some of the front runners of the 50 mile race coming back from the turn around including Kendra and Eric, and on the way back, I saw Linda and Jamie. The relay turn around was before the ultra turn around, and once past that point (on the way back) I started seeing more relay folks. One was the aforementioned Desiree, who was running towards her turn around and yelled at me what a rock start I was. I yelled her name and she said "Laura???" She told me I looked great (she may have been trying to be nice, but I WAS feeling much better by then). I am hoping in less than three years she'll decide to try an ultra.

As I made my way to the mile 21 aid station, I thought I had a little pebble in my right shoe. I was wearing road shoes, which were comfortable, but I hadn't run this far in them before. I stopped at my drop bag and took the shoe off. The "pebble" was a blister forming on my pinkie toe. I wrapped some sport tape on it, put more powder on, and put my sock and shoe back on. For some reason I thought we were headed to Rattlesnake Ledge after this, until a volunteer told me it was a mostly slight downhill from this point on. I could have kissed her! Just before leaving the aid station, Kaci showed up. Her friend Scott had come out to run the last 10 with her and to see what this ultra stuff was all about. She fixed up my sore spot on my back with an ultra band aid and soon I decided to head on. She had some good blisters forming and was taking the rest easy. On I ran, seeing the relay folks and trying to find a rhythm. I was about to "go inside myself" and try to get in a zone, when I saw Tien from the Chuckit group. He was on a relay team. That was unexpected but fun to see him out there!

The miles rolled on and my Garmin kept track of how much further. I focused on form and technique and noticed where I was tense or sore. One thing I picked up on was the source of my constantly tense right upper back. It came down to the way I held my arm - if my wrist was flat and parallel to the ground, the tension returned. But if I kept my wrist "neutral" and perpendicular to the ground, the tension went away. Just another old bad habit I have to overcome. Nice to know I figured it out! That's what I like about the really long runs - the chance to get to know yourself and hopefully make some improvements. Another thing I need to get back to work on is my endurance. I would lean and speed up but tired quickly (okay, I was in my 25th mile, but still....). Anyway, it was a nice day to work on things since it was a totally runnable course.

Soon I was back near the finish and could hear the announcer.
It felt so good to run into the finish and know I had gotten another ultra (my third) under my belt! I hung out and socialized with various folks and hooked up again with Lynn and Chris. Chris won our age group and got a nice ceramic bowl with engraving on it. I saw Robin (I had seen her following Jeff in his 50 miler on her bike) and soon Jeff came racing in. It was a good day in the end, shared with many good friends - old and new!

Today I had the privilege of seeing and hearing the Dalai Lama speak on compassion. I never in my life thought I would get to see him in person and was somewhat overcome with emotion as he came out into the pavilion. He is such a simple yet amazing man, and his message is mostly common sense, or at least what seems common sense to some of us. His sense of humor was outstanding and though I was a little stiff from yesterday, I didn't feel it much the three hours I sat and listened. I'm a very lucky gal indeed to be where I am!


Backofpack said...

Congratulations! Mt Si was my first 50K last year - and those relay runners were an awesome cheering squad. Glad to hear you worked out the kinks on the trail.

Journey to a Centum said...

Mt. Si is a tough 50K considering it's all runable for those ultra running types from another universe.

Sounds like you have a good inner mantra going on in your head during the more difficult miles as you near the finish.

Glad you had the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on another good ultrarun, Laura!
We knew you were ahead and thought we might catch up and be able to chat with you, but you were too fast (we were too slow!).
Nice photo. Like offering a carrot to a hungry horse.

best wishes,
Jeff (and Robin)

shawn said...

Are you sure this is only your third ultra? :) I've seen you around a lot more than that! Congratulations on another finish (whatever number it is) - you and Chris and Lynn were moving at quite a clip - it took forever to catch back up to you after the Rattlesnake aid station. I wish I was in touch with my body as much as you were - I usually just try whining and moaning and seems to fix my problems.

Laura H said...

Shawn - I volunteered at Cle Elum and saw you there, but was too shy to go up an introduce myself, if you can believe that!

Anonymous said...

Supah finish! Huge time chop off of Chuckanut 50! You crazy, girl-
Chris A

Laura H said...

A huge chop off of the elevation didn't hurt - it was pretty flat. Not UP Mt Si but near it. Shoot - I should just shut up and let people be impressed! ;D

Devon said...

Laura!! It was such a nice weekend, I had so much fun enjoying the sunshine on Saturday! Congrats on a great race!

Body surfing on pavement, I am going to have to use that because I do it all the time...

Oh yeah, btw I still don't know my hours at SRC but will let you know when I do :). I need your email address!