My life has been extremely busy lately. The last three months have just flown by, and I cannot believe Leona Divide(http://leonadivide5050.com) is only three weeks away!! About a month ago a friend called me, and suggested I make an attempt to run Labor of Love hundred mile. There was a valid reason for his suggestion, and I hung up the phone and really thought about the things he said. Labor of Love is a 100 mile race on the road on 6 repeated out and back loops at elevation in the middle of the Nevada desert....ok let me back up just a little...
I love to run on technical trails. I flourish in warm temps. The warmer the better. Exactly why I loved Mesquite Canyon 50k so much. I am a mountain goat, and actually hate running on the road. My legs and body are not used to it, and it's bad for your knees and hips. Period. I have no problem running on roads to connect up different trails for a long run, but thats about it. I also love the heat. The hotter the better. Some of the best races I have ever had have been on very hot days...me & the cold just don't mesh. I recognize that, and I know what my strengths are. So why in god's name was I going out to run Labor of Love 100? At this point looking back I realize it was a bad choice....
I flew into Las Vegas from San Diego Friday morning, and grabbed my rental car and headed to my hotel in Summerlin. Once checked in I zipped over to Whole Foods(yes I LOVE this place when I travel to races) and then later met up with my dear friend Carmella. We then headed over to catch the tail end of my friend Jimmy Gabany's soccer game, and then all went and grabbed some dinner. Carmella & Jesse were my crew all day, and then Jesse was going to pace me from 44 to the finish. Jesse had checked the weather, and the only reports we were getting were scattered thunderstorms. Jess assured me I would be fine, and I could always change into dry clothes if needed. We discussed the plan for the race, and I was in bed and sound asleep by 9pm that night. I slept great, and woke up on race morning ready to run. When I arrived at the start line I glanced at the temperature gage in the car. I spent a second looking at it, and then looked at Jesse. It read 25 degrees. Yes 25 degrees...at 6:50am. I quickly got out of the car in my 8 million layers of clothing, and stood at the start line. The amazing RD Joyce gave us a few last words of encouragement, and off we went. My goal for this race was to just finish in a decent time. I didn't care if I was the 5th woman I just wanted to finish in under 24 hours. I figured it was on the road so that would be fairly easy to do. I did not put any other pressure on myself, and reminded myself I was out here running this race for a reason. Mentally I would just push through the mental aspect of repeated loops on the road, and do what I came out to do.
Each leg was an 11 mile out and back on a barren desert road. That made for four 22 mile loops, and then the last 12 was an added 6 out and back on the same road...yes shoot me now....
The first 11 miles went by pretty quickly. It was absolutely freezing out, and even through my Patagonia gear I could feel the cold. It was extremely windy, and just down right freezing. I was happy to see clear skies though, and knew as long as it didn't rain i could somehow make it to the finish. I took my time the first 22 miles, and enjoyed running with my friend Thomas Podell. We just chatted up a storm, and I just love this guy! He is such a sweetheart, and I kept reminding him to try and relax and hold back as this would have been his first 100 mile finish....more on that later. Somewhere around mile 19 he pulled away from me, and I turned up my tunes and continued on my journey. One thing I noticed though was the altitude from running at 6000 ft, and also that it was not getting any warmer. I kept reminding myself that it would get warmer...it had to...come on this was mid April in the Las Vegas desert. After the cancellation of Lake Sonoma 50mile due to weather damage I am convinced the planet has lost it's mind!!
I came into the start/finish line at mile 22, and Jesse was waiting there all smiles. I gulped down some carbo-pro, and he quickly handed me fresh handhelds with Nuun and water in each. I also grabbed a baggie full of Salt Stick Pills, fresh GU chomps, and took some Udo's oil and Recover Eas pills. All good, and I was ready to power on. As I headed back out I realized I had to run back out on the same stretch of road I had already ran on...yes I am whining. I pushed to catch up to Thomas so I could have someone to chat with. We mostly hung together again until the turn around point at mile 33, and then he powered on. At this point I was absolutely freezing. It was maybe 30 degrees, and extremely windy. Something else started to happen that completely blind sided me...SNOW!! At first it was just a dusting, but within 15 minutes it was a complete white out. I was running and could not see more than an inch in front of me. The 11 mile stretch from 33 to 44 back to the start/finish line was just insane. Honestly I looked like a snow man as I was covered head to toe in snow!! LOL! I was prepared though, and bundled & layered up like a mad woman. I kept thinking about how much colder it would get through the night, and decided that if I was going to somehow finish this thing I would have to really pick up my pace when I picked up Jesse at mile 44 in order to finish out of the extreme cold at 4am. . Speed is not my strength as technical downhill running is. Somehow I would have to push myself to run fast at elevation, and pretend I was on my favorite single track trails in the San Gabriel Mtns. All I kept thinking about was why in god's name I was out here on this miserable road attempting to run a 100 miles?? Mentally I was breaking down, and it wasn't good.
By the time I came into 44 miles then snow had settled down and Jesse was there waiting and ready to go. Quickly he pulled me out of my funk, and told me he had tons more layers of clothes to keep me warm through the night. I explained to him that I was having one more issue that could potentially become a problem. Due to the freezing temps my left hip was starting to act up. This is an old injury in my Labrum from a very bad fall I took in 2008, and had been repaired. It has not given me a single issue since repaired in 2009, and I knew the extreme temps were causing it to flare up. Couple that with continuous pounding on the pavement, and it was a recipe for disaster. By the time I hit the turn around at mile 55 I was in quite a bit of pain, and it was so cold my lips were frozen. Jesse and I were still definitely moving, and actually having a blast together. I reluctantly took some ibuprofen to power through the pain, and when we came back through the start/finish at mile 66 I knew at the very least I would get credit for a 100k finish. My goal was to still try and finish the 100mile, but if the pain in the hip didn't subside I would rethink my goal. I did not want to drive my 2011 racing season into the ground, and I knew the course, and weather conditions were just nuts. When it stops becoming fun it is best to re-group, and make sure pushing on is the right thing to do. Once at 66 I completely changed into dry clothes as all the snow had me soaked, and left in more Patagonia gear than a friggin Everest climber. Not sure how this helps when you are trying to run a 100 miles, but it was cold, and I had no other choice!! LOL!
Miles 66 to 77 were very tuff for me. My hip was hurting extremely bad, and I was so cold I just could not warm up. My hands were frozen solid through two pairs of gloves, and I knew I didn't belong out on this course. Jesse was so awesome, and I cannot imagine ever having anyone else again as a pacer. Carmella & Jimmy were crewing me at this point, and they were great to. We all just kept getting through the miles, but at 79 I looked at my crew and said guys I gotta stop. I cannot do more damage to myself in this cold. The road is absolutely tearing my hip to shreds, and I am happy with a 100k finish. This race was not supposed to even happen for me, and does not matter. I have no desire to drive my racing season into the ground to finish this thing. I was worried about my hip(an MRI yesterday showed it's fine and the Labrum is not re-torn just locked up from the cold and pounding on the pavement) and am happy I called it when I did. We climbed into the car, and headed back to the start/finish line. Joyce(the RD) handed me my 100k finishers medal, and off we headed back to the hotel. On the way home Jesse had to pull over four times so I could throw up. I get very sick whenever I take Ibuprofin so I was not surprised by this. The best part was all it tasted like was salt stick pills and warm Carbo pro...yep good times! Man running Ultra's is so much fun ;o)
Being I only ran 79 miles I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly with only 6 more trips to the bathroom to throw up~once asleep though I slept like a baby!! When I woke up I was sore but no where near as sore as I thought I would be. Thank you Recover Eas(www.wickedfastsportsnutrition.com)!!!! I took about 10 right before I fell asleep and it did the trick.
I flew back late Sunday night, and I have never been happier to get home. I have spent the last two days straight with my heat on full blast, and have no shame in saying I still can't warm up. Man I really could never live in CO or Utah. No way not a chance. Love me some Southern California!! Excited to spend a couple weeks in CO with the Coury brothers in June though. Now thats gonna be fun! Can't wait to go off the grid in Silverton, Co for a bit in June. Such awesome sauce!! I will need it after Leona!
I feel pretty good today, and am heading out in a bit for a pool workout. My goal is to swim quite a bit this week, and then spend the weekend running with my friends all weekend. Super happy I have running legs still, and if I would have ran all 100 miles in those conditions I am not sure if I would have been able to run for awhile. So glad I called it when I did, and am looking forward to heading up to Ohlone 50k(Excited to see Ian!!) in May, and then a trip out to the east coast in early June for another race. I have something big planned now this Summer to run, and am excited to train for this 100 mile race. I got the confirmation last night I am in the race, and am super excited. Gonna stick to what I love...running in the mountains on technical trails. I have every ounce of desire to run long distances on the road out of my system for awhile. This was hard for me to let go of, but Labor of Love definitely helped me realize for right now I have no desire to pound the pavement for long periods of time. As great as the aid stations were at Labor of Love, and it was super well organized with great swag~the course was repeated loops on the road. Not my cup of tea ever again...UGH!! Lesson learned, and I look forward to racing a ton in mountains on trails for the rest of 2011. I bid you *ado* road races!!
With Leona right around the corner, and my life being awesome sauce nuts right now I probably will not hit my blog up until my Leona Divide recap. I always have so much to talk about, but life is just to crazy to try and sit down and bang out a blog post. Along with all of this I am managing time to raise my amazing teenage son(cross country season training starts in two months!!), training myself, traveling all over the place for a zillion things~ life is so crazy! Honestly though I cannot imagine it any other way. I just love every moment of my life, and my friends, and the sport I am in. It is like a huge extended family, and I cannot imagine if this was not how my life was. I love all the amazing loyal people in my life, and the sport, and the whole scene. It was so much fun being out on the Labor Of Love course and on all the out and backs seeing everyone I know, and encouraging each other. This sport is full of such amazing & genuine people, and I just love being a part of it!!
I am DYING to talk to my Coyote Sauce Jimmy Dean and hear every minute of his AR50 recap. So many of my friends were up there running I definitely will go up next year and volunteer and be a part of it. I cannot wait to go up to Miwok 100k in a couple weeks to see everyone, and help out there. Jesse and I are so excited!! Love it!
See ya' all soon at Leona!! For many of my dear friends racing Wildflower on the same weekend good luck!! Cannot wait to hear how that goes for ya' all!!
LIFE JUST ROCKS!!!!