Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lessons from ultrarunning

On cancellation of Western States '08: Life is what happens when you're making other plans. There was another somewhat appropriate quote from Marat/Sade (it's Donn's favorite movie) where the Marquis de Sade is talking about the world falling apart and nature watches, unmoved. He goes on to say "I hate nature". Not exactly how I feel in that I don't hate Nature, but she sure doesn't take into account our hopes and plans when she does her thing. I'll have to watch that movie again and hope that I'm awake for that line.

On getting violently ill from food poisoning and recovering: Defizzed Coke is a wonder drug. My non-running boyfriend got me a Coke in the middle of the night and, upon my instructions, defizzed some for me to sip on. Someday, he'll make a great crew chief! And sipping Nuun today to rebalance the electrolytes is a good lesson too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

running crazy weekend

Last weekend was my biggest training yet - two 20 milers, back to back. For someone who was told not to run every day, this is huge that I made it through unscathed (so far).

Run 1 - Solstice Day from my house to Discovery Park and back home.

I left the house around 8 and ran by the parade site in Fremont where they were staging the start. The plan was to meet Tracy at Discovery Park and run some loops with her. On the way back I was hoping to hook up with my friends Bill and Cindy and see if we could get away with a skinny dip in the ship canal, or at least a soak for my feet. My friend Bob was having a "living room set" at the parade and encouraged us to bring a stuffed animal and pillow. He would be next to the judging stand where he is every year. I threw my mini polar bear in my bag - it was a prize for 5th place in my AG in the Maui Polar Bear Swim in 2005.

I ran through the Locks and saw some Chuckit folks on their long run. It's been a long time since I ran with them, seems like a world away. Tracy called while I was talking and was already about to start her second loop. She went counterclockwise and I was to go clockwise and we would meet up somewhere on the upper loop. I got to the park and soon met her on the trail about half a mile from where she started. I turned and we continued CC, and soon heard someone say "My two favorite runners!" We were joined by the jet setting Kathleen Egan, who had just returned from traveling in Germany and Switzerland and was still feeling jet lagged. She joined us for a loop down to the beach and then parted when we stopped by the car. After one more beach loop with Tracy, I headed back home.

As I approached Fremont, I could hear the parade in full swing. A couple of naked cyclists came down the trail towards me - one was on a tall unicycle so I was eye to eye with, um, things. Quite a traumatic sight after running 20 miles - I almost had to lay down right there. I called Bill and Cindy but the parade was too loud for them to hear their phones. I swung into PCC to get my chocolate soy milk and ran back out to look for Bob and the living room set. Too crowded for me to find them, so I went home instead and took a nice cool soak in the tub.

Party to recover.

After stretching and a nap, I headed to party number one where Devon was pre-celebrating her birthday. I wanted to wait for Donn, but he was still out gigging with Orkestar Zirkonium so I went stag. I met several of her friends and relatives and had a blast talking to all of them! Some ultrarunning folks showed up including Dan from Bellingham, who entertained us with stories of a 135 mile run in Minnesota last February. Brrr! Soon Donn called and I headed off to pick him up for party number two. This one was with the Bicycle Alliance friends, Steve and Louise, out in West Seattle. They were in full party mode when we arrived and the food and drink were flowing. I filled up and rehydrated and had fun chatting with various folks. We stayed til after 9 and then headed home to get me ready for run #2.

Run 2 - Cougar Mountain.

Danika picked me up at 7 am and we headed to Cougar to meet up with Tracy and Tim, and see some of the SRC folks. Ali was there as well and a new woman, Amy, who had moved here recently after living in Bolivia for a while. Brian was heading up the SRC group with his last long run before Western States. We did a ten mile loop, except for Ali who decided to make it a 13 mile with the Wilderness Peak loop. Danika and Amy were a bit faster and were only doing one loop so they were gone when we got back. My stuff was in Tracy's car, and she, Tim and I refueled and refilled bottles and took off again. Well, they practically had to drag me out again. Plus my right foot was cramping on the fifth metatarsal and I was worried it might turn into a stress fracture. We kept thinking of turn around spots for me, but after Tim massaged my leg, it loosened up and that, plus more salt, kept the cramping at bay. We varied this loop a bit and at one point we were on a long trail heading back to the cars (eventually). They got way ahead and for some reason (blame it on the flying monkeys) I got it in my head that I may have missed a junction. I didn't have a map (mistake #1) or my phone (mistake #2) and got more and more rattled. I started calling Tracy's name out but to no avail. I was going down a nice decline and really didn't want to turn around. After a few minutes (seemed like forever) I saw Tracy coming up the trail towards me. She had heard me, and called out, but I didn't hear her call. They were waiting for me at the next junction - duh!! I felt really dumb and was kicking myself for not carrying a map and not trusting that they would wait at the junction. Lesson learned. It was a really pretty trail and I may go back there next Sunday with Chris. We soon finished up our run at 22 miles and after a little soak in Coal Creek, we headed home.

That weekend was a hugs confidence booster for me and despite feeling a bit tired, and some twitches on my lower legs, I feel pretty dang good! I'm so glad I stuck it out and finished it with them, and was so glad Tim was there to fix my crampy foot, as well as give us support. Thanks Tim!!

Now it's on to recovery and keeping up with the great race that's coming up next weekend at Western States. The field is so deep in both the men's and women's races that I may have trouble sleeping Saturday night since I'll be glued to the computer! Plus I'll be sending my buddies great vibes for good running!

Lastly - a shout out to Linda Barton who finished her first 100 miler at Big Horn last weekend! When the going got tough for me, I thought of her running at that moment and it gave me mega inspiration to keep going! Congrats Linda!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lake Youngs Ultra - a family affair

I did Lake Youngs ultra Saturday - all three loops, total 28.8 miles. It was a fun day and lots to celebrate - from Jenn Sempsey's first ultra (as well as others') to Van Phan's 100th ultra! The entire Martineau clan put the race on, with Arthur and Jennifer as Race Directors and the kids checking off the times for racers coming in from a loop and grandma chasing down the younger ones. It was quite impressive and very well organized!

The day started early - way too early for me, but it's good practice for White River and the early start. After a fitful night's sleep, the alarm went off at 3:45 and I bolted out of bed (highly unusual behavior for me) and went in the bathroom to get dressed so as not to disturb the sleeping Donn. I managed to get breakfast, make an espresso, and get myself ready to go by 4:25 - a new PR! Funny - when I got up Donn thought to himself as soon as I was done in the bathroom, he'd get up. Next thing he knew, I was leaning down to kiss him goodbye. Damn I'm good!

I picked up Danika in Ballard and we headed to Renton, making a quick pit stop before getting to the race site, as the restrooms were still closed. There were quite a few folks at the start when we arrived and several had already taken off. The area seemed socked in with clouds and despite the nice sunrise we saw, the sun was not going to appear there today. It was also rather chilly - something that would last the whole race. Tracy and Jenn drove up and we picked up our race bag and numbers. The shirts were a short sleeved version of the Chuckanut shirts (made by Patagonia) and very low key - not any advertising. It's my favorite summer shirt! The Martineaus managed to secure some awesome sponsors as the bag had some decent stuff in it!

When we were ready, we thought about taking off, but it was so close to 6 that Arthur asked us to wait. Finally we were off and Jenn and Danika soon sped ahead. Jenn had some unfinished ultra business- last year, while training for the Northface 50K, she sustained an injury that put her out of that race, and left her unable to train for another til now. They both looked very strong every time we saw them on the trail - oh to be young again! Tracy and I had a nice loop together, but I wasn't quite awake, and hence, not very talkative and maybe even a little grumpy. Poor Tracy tried, but I just wasn't very responsive. We came in (9.6 miles) at about 1:48. The regular starters had already taken off, and we decided the second loop would be a reverse of the first one (which was clockwise). We saw Shawn and *tc heading towards us near the end of the first loop, and I pointed out to them they were going the wrong way. *tc said 'oh crap!' and started to turn around but Shawn protested so they continued backwards. Hence our decision to try the next one backwards.

We soon started seeing other people as they came towards us. Arthur was running in his own race and oops! we were busted for going backwards! Steve Stoyles came towards us and we stopped to exchange hugs. Soon Rich and Linda came our way - more hugs! I told Tracy it was amazing I didn't come away from these events with a cold from all the hugging. Eric and Iliana came our way too and so may others I can't remember 'em all. I was amazed to see Jess out there since she had run her first 100 miler the week before. She was doing a one loop "recovery" run - wow! At one point we got a peek-a-boo of the reservoir which got us to talking about soaking in cold water after the race. Neither one of us could think of a place to go - no rivers or lakes were nearby. Bummer. The loop soon ended and as we came into the aid station I heard Arthur yell "Laura!" and I looked over to see him sitting in a kids wading pool! Brilliant idea! I yelled to Tracy - there's where we can soak when we're done!

Tracy changed shoes, I ate my PBJ, we both hit the toilet and then we were off - clockwise this time. Funny thing about this loop - seems like a lot of people decided to go counterclockwise so we saw many more as we went along. The amazing Bob Stoyles (Steve's 80 year old dad) was out there cranking out the miles. He's my hero -hands down! About halfway through this loop, I started getting bored. Plus, little aches and pains kept coming up and I was getting ready to be done. I must have checked my watch every half mile thinking 'are we there yet?'. I tried all kinds of tricks - speeding up a little, going to certain points on the uphill, you name it! Thank goodness Tracy was there - at least we could talk! About a half mile before the end, we came to a nasty hill. I totally did not remember it from our first loop! I was really shocked! We grunted up the hill and finally came to the nice slight descent back into the parking area/aid station/finish. Done! And so glad to be, that it made me nervous thinking about the upcoming 50 miler.

There was a fabulous post race barbecue and Team Hippy had a brief reunion. It gave me a chance to wish Linda well on her first 100 at Bighorn - let's all send good vibes!! I stood in the kiddie pool for a while but couldn't bring myself to sit down. It was still cloudy and cool and I was getting chilly. A little while later, the two youngest Martineau kids were playing in it. Young Arthur really had to pee, but was refusing to take the time to go to the bathroom, no matter how much Jennifer tried to coax him. When I saw him in the pool, I thought, hmm, guess it's a good thing I got in there earlier. Of course Arthur the elder could have been doing the same thing while sitting in the pool....nah!

I have a spot on my right bunion that gets rubbed. I have tried taping it (that rubs off), lubing it (no help) and two coats of New Skin. It still gets rubbed and there may be a blister under the callus. It's a little tender when I step down. I talked to Karen Wiggins who gets the same thing and she uses Elastikon. I'll have to try that. It bothered me through the second loop but as my feet swelled, it didn't bug me so much. Still I'd like to take care of it once and for all. The Mizunos did well, though maybe a little too cushioned for that trail (?) as my knees started talking. I still love them for trails like Cougar. All in all, this was more good training for what's to come.....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More good training

Last weekend was a big training weekend for me - at least in terms of my schedule. I was supposed to get in a 16 and a 20 miler, but I'm starting to be okay with doing what I can do. I also had to fit in a ChiRunning intro class in there somewhere. And to top it off, I was supposed to work Friday, processing a sputum sample (yum!) for a study I'm helping on. Here's how it all turned out...

Friday....lowered expectorations lead to a long run

Our patient couldn't produce a good "specimen" (i.e., they weren't expectorating that day) so my Friday became free. Seeing as how Saturday was going to be pretty busy and on the feet all morning, I went for a run from my house to Discovery Park. I went through the Locks and into the park via a back way (a secret I cannot reveal lest it becomes overrun), ending up at the Indian Cultural Center. I took in the lovely view of the Sound and continued into the park. I had been feeling particularly blue and really felt like I just wanted to sit and cry. It was weird since I haven't had that feeling (hormonal like) in about 20 years, but there it was. It lasted for about six miles, when down by the beach I saw a woman walking towards me. I flipped on my sunglasses so she wouldn't see my sad eyes. Wouldn't you know it?? She stopped me to ask if I knew where the restrooms were. I was able to answer her and snap out of my funk at the same time. It never came back. Whew!!

I did a couple loops that included the beach and then ran back the way I came. The Locks were really crowded the second time through. Got back home and treated myself to a nice ice bath - 18 miles down. Still dislike the pavement too.

Saturday...if I faint, will I still be demonstrating good form?

I had a ChiRunning intro class to teach to thirteen people from 9-1. It went well, especially when we got to exercises and it became more interactive. When I was having to do all the talking there were times where I felt I was on the edge of bonking. But they were all understanding and we took a break about every 55 minutes to refresh. Just like hitting the aid station, I fueled up and took care of my personal needs. The last hour of the class we went outside and did some light running to put it all together. That was fun (as always); but then they wanted to see how it was supposed to look and asked me to run for them. I mustered up my best form and hopefully showed them what they were wanting to see. But it was hard since I was tired - great practice for later in the race when I am tired!

Later that evening we went out to eat (get a couple extra bucks, get more beer - Donn says that's the life of the unemployed!) and went to a goodbye party for a friend. We were back home early so I could get some sleep before meeting Tracy and Chris for a run at Cougar Sunday morning.

Sunday...Cougar and It's a Small World After All

Tracy, Chris and I met the other SRC runners at Red Town Trail head. The plan was to say "hey" and do our own thing, but follow their route. Phil was leading and I had him check out my Mizuno Wave Ascend 3's. I think I am finally in love, at least this month. My Innov8s were great in really muddy stuff, but they still felt a little too tight in the toe box and a little too hard for my old feet. So I was trying the Mizuno's to see how they would do.

We all started heading up Red Town Trail and were soon left in the dust by the younger more energetic folks (there was one woman who looked like she might be in our age range - she was tough and hung with them). The really cool thing about running with them is that at every junction, they (Phil?) would place three fern fronds in the shape of an arrow telling us where to go. This was so cool as we didn't need to stop and think about it!

We decided to not do the Wilderness Peak loop as Tracy is still taking it easy on her fibula. So when we were stopped, a few came by, including Michael Havrda. Now here's the funny part: a few posts back I reported on a neighborhood project where we put up orange crossing flags at a couple of crossings. We had solicited donations, one from Bastyr Clinic, which is at one of the crossings. They kindly donated some money, which I received in the mail (I bought the flags). The letter included was very nice and signed by a one Michael Havrda. I kept seeing this name in race results - like third overall in North Face 50K. I kept wondering to Donn if it was the same person, and he, ever the doubting Thomas, would always say no way. So when we ran into Michael, Tracy started talking to him (she met him at NF) and I asked if he was the same guy. Hah! He was! I couldn't wait to get home and brag to Donn at how RIGHT I was!! I had that song "It's a Small World After All" stuck in my head all Monday!

We wrapped up our run at 10 miles, said hi to Michael again in the parking lot (he was getting in 34 miles that morning), met his fiance Shannon, and headed back to Seattle. At Chris's, we hung out with daughter Emily and wife Nancy and went over to the Volunteer Park Cafe for coffee. It smelled SO GOOD I had to get a slice of the veggie quiche! Nancy used to be in the dental field as an administrative support person and I used to be in the Perio dept doing vaccine research. We caught up on all the people we knew in common. Tracy and Chris were doing the usual "Laura knows everyone" when I felt someone touch my shoulder and say "We missed you at swimming." I couldn't remember her name, but definitely know her! She swims several lanes over; that's the funny thing about swimming - unless you are the same speed, you probably won't get to know your pool mates very well. Anyway, it was good timing on her part relative to Tracy and Chris's teasing!

The rest of Sunday was spent lazing around and watching the rain fall. Oh yeah - and the Mizunos did spectacular! I didn't wear my ankle brace OR tape it, and it handled the roots and rocks like it was used to them! And the width was great - forefoot loved them! Guess it's my summer shoe for now...til they change it!