I love the title to start with because that's just what we do isn't it? My challenge here is to outline a few common mistakes ultra runners, especially 100 mile runners, make as they explore the fuzzy line between unique and crazy. The line that separates pain and masochism. The experience of being alive and the one of being a slave to routine or ideology. I'm going to start with the most egregious threat to ultra runners:
1. Avoiding Caffeine in preparation for a Race: this is probably the most no good idea I've seen all my friends practice. Here's why you'll never see me do it: it just sounds sucky. Why would I avoid my most pleasurable taste adventure in the morning for a massive caffeine jolt during a race? I say prepare your body for massive doses of caffeine during the race by indulging in the weeks before an event. Cup of coffee in the morning? Why yes! Two shots on vanilla ice cream? Bring it on. Triple Americano for the drive to Portland? Hell yeah. All 3 in one freaking awesome caffeine enhanced day? It's called 100 mile training. That way when you have 40 gels during your 100 miler that each have a shot worth of caffeine, you'll handle it in stride.
2. Trying to finish under 24 hours: I added this for you 100 mile newbies. You all want that sub-24 finish. It doesn't seem to matter if it's Western States or Hardrock. Run by feel and you cannot go wrong. Run by time and you will go wrong. Don't worry if this doesn't make sense. It will after you've done a few or after Karl Meltzer passes your went-out-like-it-was-a-flat-5k-butt.
3. Buying Peace of Mind: Be careful making last minute purchases before a race. They are almost always a bad idea. As we get nervous about a race, our mind tries to think of things that will make us feel better: maybe I need that more burly pair of trail shoes. Oh man, maybe I should buy that super starch that everyone says will give me more sustained energy. I think I need new shorts. That waist pack might be a better idea than my backpack. Let go of the fear, you have everything you need 'cause you're here, right?! You can't buy peace of mind no matter how hard you try!
4. Wearing Gaiters: Ask yourself these three questions: 1. Is it snowing and/or am I going to run in the snow? 2. Will I be running Plain 100? 3. Am I wearing hiking boots, a rucksack and sporting hiking poles? If you answer no to all three questions you are not allowed to wear gaiters. Trust me it will simplify your life.
5. Running for Miles instead of Fun: Goals are good, but stubborn ultra runners are not. If you find yourself making laps around your car to get an even 30 miler, you have a problem. Gosh darn it if we don't find ways to make runs harder and more miserable. I like the new take on training where athletes track their running by hours instead of miles. You just can't judge a trail run by distance.
6. Wearing a Shirt while Running: Totally overrated unless you live in Bellingham, Alaska, you're albino, are wearing a pack or it's wintertime in the mountains. Ok, so maybe shirts won't go away entirely, but it sure is fun to feel the freedom of bare skin during our little dance on the trail! No one cares if you don't like your belly, dig it!!
7. Obsessing over Splits: Ahh, it feels good to feel in control. But it's all a big beautiful illusion my running friend, take it from a running control freak like me. Splits Smitz. Better to spend that time carbo loading on another IPA and watching Breaking Bad.
8. The Good 'ol Training Race Ego Bust: If I beat your ass in a race I don't want to hear that you were just using it as a training run. C'mon stoke my ego a little better than that! But seriously, no need to have elaborate explanations for your performance. It is what it is. A finish is a finish. Nice work!
9. Overtraining to get Stronger: This one is for me. It's the rest time that makes us stronger, paired with good training. Rest Candice rest!!!!
10. Late night Drunk Race Registration: Perhaps the real reason why 100s are selling out?! Cheers to that!
Monday, February 17, 2014
At work, I'm organizing 9 trail races, one of which is the brand new Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run, a full single loop around my favorite place in the world (although honestly I have lots of favorite places). I'm also super excited to be helping build the trail running community in Washington State and specifically Bellingham as President of the Bellingham Trail Running Club and owner/race director of the Bellingham Trail Running Series. I love seeing the club grow and being a part of peoples incredible trail running adventures.
For 2014, I'm working hard to add a few Running Tours. One will hopefully be in the Hawaiian Islands and another in Washington State. I have two spectacular places in mind for Washington. For now, it's a secret, but I hope to announce at least one of the tours soon.
Enjoy these incredible photos by Mike Powell that he took during our photoshoot in December!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
|Finishing my last loop of the HURT 100. Photo by Rob Lahoe. All photos unless otherwise noted are by Rob Lahoe.|
I was by all accounts completely unprepared for HURT 100 mile run this year yet I PR'd by almost 40 minutes and placed 2nd. I did none of my usual intense training. In fact, quite the opposite. I decided that I'd do whatever the heck I wanted in training which meant very few long runs and lots of cross training. I love moving my body, challenging it, and the intensity of exercise, but I hate monotony. I'd trained hard the past few years and plateaued, some might even say I had backtracked through my intense training. My body rebelled and I became slower the more I forced running. So I stopped forcing it. I began biking indoors most days through the winter and I started a daily strength training workout (15-30 mins a day, every single day) and delved back into the physical and spiritual side of yoga. I was practicing yoga 60-90 minutes everyday. I began experimenting with and experiencing my inner self and learned to access a calmness that I'd rarely had in the past.
|Running through the jungle. By Rob Lahoe|
|Photo by Rob Lahoe|
The race began and I scooted back toward the middle of the pack. I thought I'd shoot for 5 hour loops, at least for the first 3. I'd pace myself so that I could comfortably finish. I kept finding myself flying despite my plans. I was singing to my ipod songs, I was loving the root dance, the slippery corners, it was real joy!! I'd catch myself falling, falling, falling and be back upright, bombing down toward Paradise Aid Station chasing my friend Danny. We rolled into Nature Center Aid, completing the first of 5 loops in 4 hrs 22 minutes and I thought, how the fuck did that happen? I was running so easy. I feel so damn good.
|Photo by Rob Lahoe|
A little shocked by the pain, I pushed myself up, limped, looked around. No one had seen me fall. I knew I'd be seeing the 2nd and 3rd place ladies soon on the out and back and I'd been chasing them all day. I didn't want them to know I'd hurt myself. I sucked it up and hobbled for 100 meters before striking a nice ultra shuffle. Ok, I'm ok. I decided to get my ankle taped right away. Last year, I'd waited almost 40 excruciating miles before getting it taped. Despite the ankle issues, I completed loop 2 in about 4 hours 45 minutes. Still sub 5. That was very good. And I still felt amazing, if not a bit swollen and pained in the ankle.
|Getting my ankle taped at Nu'uanu Aid. Photo Courtesy Ultrasportslive.tv|
|Photo by Rob Lahoe|
I knew it! What a liar my legs were. They said I was CRUISING, but loop 4 was slower than the past 3 loops despite my pacer and crew person extraordinaire, Dave Melanson, inspiring me through all 20 miles with his Northwest plaid style Belly Shirt. Yes, he wore a belly shirt. If you don't know what that is look up Scott Jurek at White River circa forever ago, white belly shirt. Maybe the belly shirt made me think I was going faster....
|Dave and his belly shirt. Photo by Rob Lahoe|
|Photo by Rob Lahoe. I look like I've seen a ghost.|
|The sprained left ankle and some horrid chaffing/cratering of pain from the taping.|
|Lots of chaffing on my stomach and back, I'll spare you from a back photo. Why so much? Shirtless, no body glide and lots of sweating. I figured I'd put on a shirt if it started to chafe, but before I knew it the chaffing was there.|
|I got matching blisters under each 2nd toe that popped the nail out of its bed.|
In finishing, I'd like to thank a few amazing people in my life who made my 2014 HURT possible, couldn't have done it without all of you:
- The race directors and volunteers: PJ and John Salmonson, Jeff Huff, and seriously the aid stations were amazing!! Thank you so very much.
- Dave Melanson: kept me company before, during and after the race! Crewed and paced ALL DAY and night with no rest.
- Pearl Izumi Ultra Team: the best shoes and clothing plus the support of the team kept me motivated.
- Ultimate Direction: the amazing folks at UD sent me an Ultra Vesta last minute so I could be properly hydrated during the race and run in style! I'm really excited to be an ambassador this year!
- James Varner: made my trip possible and kept all the folks at home updated during the race!
- My friends, family, and ultra fans. I am humbled by the positive feedback! Thank you to the Bellingham Trail Running Club for kicking me into shape :)
- Luc, Marina, and Stella: Love you three!!! I wore Stella's bracelet and put M's on my pack. Always good luck to have that kind of love.
|HIURT 100 Awards, top 3 women and men, plus Race Directors John Salmonson and Jeff Huff.|
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Just recorded a fun podcast with Ultra Runner Podcast (URP) this morning while sipping a Kona Castaway IPA on Lanikai Beach in Hawaii fresh off my 2nd place HURT 100 finish. Learn about:
Stay tuned for a race report!!
- HURT 100 mile Endurance Run Recap and why it HURTs so bad (or good?)
- What my favorite swear word is
- How many times I cursed on the trail this weekend (not for the faint at heart)
- My favorite sports bra and why bikinis should be on the list
- How yoga changed my life
- What my mantra is (Say: Poke & plantain chips 10 times...)
- Pearl Izumi shoes and why I love them so
- The new Ultimate Direction pack (the women's Ultra Vesta)
- Race directing & the Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run
- Oh yeah---BEER!
- Learn why Budweiser sucks and should not be called beer or be at a race finish
- Find out why Scotty & Eric of URP will be the new employees for the Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run
- My challenge to listeners of the podcast
Stay tuned for a race report!!
|Photo by Rob Lahoe|
|Photo by Rob Lahoe|
Thursday, January 16, 2014
|Very excited to be at the top/turn around!|
|PEAK #1, piece of freaking cake selfie©|
|PEAK #2: Feeling a little Woozy Selfie©|
|PEAK #3: Feeling a little badass selfie©|
|See the trail heading back up peak #2? FUN FUN FUN!!!|
|The tree canopy reminds me of a Dr. Suess book. It is so beautiful and magical! And cartoonish!|
Monday, January 13, 2014
|Thank you to the Israeli men who took my pic and thought I was crazy ;-)|
Hot yoga in Kailua has been such a gift to me this past week. I love practicing in the heat, but 105+ is a new level of intensity. At first I hated the feeling of sweat flowing from every pore for 75 minutes, it was claustrophobic. I felt self conscious & uncomfortable. I felt ugly. And no girl likes to feel ugly. After 2 classes, (I know only 2 right?!) I craved that feeling of the flow. The flow of sweat. Shared suffering for enlightenment. But it wasn't suffering. It was presence being handed to me on a wet slippery platter.
The movement it created within my body was incredible. Not on a physical level. On a physical level I am unusually flexible, but not in a crazy way, I'm a runner after all. The feeling after class of mental & physical release was incredible. Don't all good enlightenment practices include that pain of letting go of ego? Sometimes it's physical, sometimes mental, but you can create the experience through extreme physicality. Once that ego is surpassed, the flow is an amazing release. Which is why I love ultra running, ultra swimming, and well, can we call it ultra yoga?!
|Climbing toward Peak #3, Olomana|
|Peak #3, dangerous enough to make your dreams a reality!|
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Yoga class was hot. Really hot or at least it would appear that way if you were to see the streams of sweat rolling off of my arms, face, and legs in downward dog. Despite the 105 F temperature I kept thinking this is too easy. I'm not being challenged physically. I can barely hold the postures I'm slipping around on my own sweat so bad. In the past few months as I've renewed my passion for yoga, I've come to realize that Ashtanga, or Power Yoga, best suits my yoga needs and challenges me most of the time and I'd found a few classes in Bellingham that fit this need to be challenged.
I saw myself in that moment as a very driven person who only considered something worthwhile if it was hard, challenging, and difficult to attain. I avoided those things that I felt were too easy and instead always struggled to find the next big challenge, whether it be in my athletic career, my work, and even emotionally. As this realization came to me, I was enlightened by the truth that my desire to make life more difficult than it needs to be was not necessary. It would not bring me any more happiness than other possible paths. It was a way that I had chosen to interact with the world, but it was not the only choice I could make nor was it the best choice all the time.
As I lay in Shavasana (Corpse Pose), the final and most important pose in any yoga class because it is the restful meditation at the end, I was struck by how insightful and life changing this one sweaty, easy, in one word crappy class was and with that thought I relaxed my entire body into the floor returning to that elusive moment where I was completely present with my breath, my body, and all the other people in the room.
It is simply presence that brings joy into our lives: really listening to our child when they tell us about their day instead of multitasking while the words go in one ear and out the other. It's kissing our lover without thoughts of a work meeting we still need to schedule. Happiness is breathing into our body as we run instead of telling ourselves we're not training correctly or that we should be working not running. Having complete presence in each moment is the most precious gift any person can give someone else or give to them self.
|Running the Kealia Trail on North Shore of Oahu|