Posted by: runrunrunrun | February 19, 2012

Race Report: Rocky Raccoon 100 (Thunder, Rain, Mud, and Dogs)

Start Line - Kevin, JW and Kim

We woke up to POURING rain.  Not just rain, but sheets and sheets and sheets of rain. It was 4:00AM, two hours before go-time.

The day before, at the pre-race meeting, we watched the clouds roll in and heard the distant thunder.  It rained briefly while we ate dinner at the local Chilis, but then it stopped.  The skies cleared and we all exhaled.  But our sighs of relief were premature.

The rain proved a major factor in the 2012 Rocky Raccoon 100-miler, the first attempt for Team 100 – me, Kevin and Kim.  The mud was ankle deep and we calculated that it covered about 10% of the course, adding at least a good hour, probably more, to everyone’s time.  It also caused a huge drop rate for the event.  Only about 50% of the people who started ended up finishing.  Blisters and raw feet simply became unbearable for many.  The course was also rich with roots that tripped us constantly.  All three of us have extremely black and blue toe nails as a results.

That said, I absolutely loved running my first 100.  I finished in 27 hours and 8 minutes.  The course was a 20 mile loop that we ran 5 times, which I found comforting and “easy” to mentally manage.  Kim, Kevin and I ran as a team for 63 whooping miles, before we spread out and settled into our own race.  Our pacers and crew (Robert, Jennifer, Rick, Allan, Charles and Craig) were there every step of the way, treating us like race cars at a pit stop every time we came back to the main aid station.

I feel forever linked to Kim and Kevin, not only because of the event itself, but because of the six months it took to get there.  Together we did a zillion long runs, night runs, planning meetings, emails, research, coordination, etc. About six hours after we finished the event, we all watched the Super Bowl together with glazed over eyes, tons of junk food, and barely moving bodies.  Kim’s husband proclaimed, “This is the lamest Super Bowl party ever.”  Makes me laugh just writing it. We will never have another Super Bowl day like that.

And of course, Craig, my pacer.  By the time I picked Craig up to run the last 20 miles, it was around 2:30 in the morning and time had literally lost all meaning.  We finished at 9:00AM. Think about that. 20 miles. 2:30AM-9:00AM. In retrospect, I find that completely unfathomable. But in the moment, we  didn’t think about time. It was 100% one foot in front of the other. Shuffle, shuffle,shuffle, walk, walk, walk, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. I was reminded that my very first club run was with Craig, and it was, appropriately, 20 miles. On that run he provided me with great information about how to break a 4:00-hour marathon, my goal at the time.  A couple months later, using all the advice he gave me, I crossed the finish line of the SV Marathon in 3:52. How fitting it was to have Craig as my partner when I crossed that 100-mile mark.

You hear stories of ultrarunners having hallucinations in the middle of the night. I can confirm it to be true. At around mile 96 I saw a doberman pinscher next to two camping tents, clear as day.  Neither the dog nor the tents existed.

Craig, Allan, Charles, Jennifer and Rick - Robert isn't pictured as he is holding the camera

60 miles done - the last time we hit an aid station together

Allan works on my legs at the 80-mile aid station

Posted by: runrunrunrun | January 21, 2012

Olympic Marathon Trials and Houston Marathon

Desiree Davila, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi, Kara Goucher

Kim, LaRene and I were in Houston to watch them all run to victory and earn a spot on the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Team.

The course ran through downtown and then made an 8-mile loop, which the athletes ran three times.  This allowed us to be “this close” to the runners about every 15 minutes. It was amazing and inspiring.  We had a blast.

Also running from the ultrarunning community was my personal favorite, Devon Crosby-Helms, who kicked it at 2:38:55.

The next day, fully pumped and inspired, the three of us ran the 40th Houston Marathon.

It was an awesome enjoyable experience.  We did not bonk or hit the wall.  We all enjoyed the music and loved the crowds.  It was extra special for me because Houston is my home town.

Two magic moments happened during the 26.2.

Unbeknown to any runners, former President George Bush Sr. was hanging out at mile 19 and he shook hands with every marathoner who came up to him.  Politics makes no difference (I happen to really like him) when you have the opportunity to shake the hand of a former U.S. President.

Magic moment two was running with a blind marathoner and his guide for 10 miles.  It got even better when they asked me to navigate through the heavy crowds for about three miles.  They finished in 3:53, which is awesome for sighted runners.  They had to run the whole thing attached to each other (hand on shoulder).  To listen to the guide lead his runner (Joe) through the course was something I will never forget.

And to cap off the day, the shirts and medals were great!  And we got a second t-shirt and a mug.  All in all, a first class event and a world class weekend with two of my favorite running partners.

Lead women around mile 2

Lead Men - Mile 15

Lead women - mile 15

One of America's marathon greats - Deana Kastor

Finish Line

Meb, Ryan and Abdi!!

The great Ryan Hall

Shalane, Desi, Kara (with her baby on her hip...so cute)

The ladies take their victory walk - from front to back is Kara, Desi and Shalane

Start line of the Houston Marathon - the morning after the Trials

JW, Kim and LaRene - two of my favorite running friends. We were each about to have a great race.

I am from Houston, so my mom, stepdad, brother, sister-in-law and nephew all came to cheer me on. We enjoyed a little post race coffee.

My littlest fan - Luke - at post-marathon family get together

Posted by: runrunrunrun | January 2, 2012

Rocky Raccoon: Five Weeks to the 100 Miler

Kim, Kevin and I have five weeks until the 100-miler.  For me at least, it is getting kind of scary,  or maybe it is just getting real.

We decided to attempt the Rocky Raccoon 100, a first for all three of us, back in the early summer.  It seemed so far away.  In late August, we each started our own 6-month training plan, with none of us running exactly the same but each of us running more or less between 50-70 miles a week.

So far our training has gone well. We are an extremely disciplined group.  We simply do not show up on race day unprepared. “Winging it” is not something we understand.

To that end, we were just texting about how weird our running reality has become as we increase mileage and back-to-backs.  It  is clear we take this event very seriously.

Examples…

I recently found myself telling my husband, “I am just going out for 20 miles.  Shouldn’t be gone that long.” We literally run in the middle of the night, our most recent being 10PM-2AM.  We run to marathon starts, run the race, and then run a little more.  While running the Tucson marathon, Kevin mentioned some of the other runners had just run NY a month ago. I had to remind him we had run a 50K just two weeks ago. Our back-to-backs have become outright ridiculous! This weekend I did a 31-20-16, Friday-Saturday-Sunday.  Who does such things?!  I write this not to say, “look at how much we run,” but instead because it is only now – with five weeks to go – that I am realizing how much we actually need to run to complete an event at this distance.  It really does take 6 months of building up both physically and mentally.

But we tell ourselves, better to keep-on-keeping-on then to show up undertrained.  Even my non-running husband has come to understand this, because let’s face it, running is a family affair even if only one family member is a runner. In fact, just yesterday when I didn’t want to head back out for another 3 hours, he reminded me, “Five more weeks. You need to do this run.”

I am confident we will all finish, baring any major injury or illness. But I am equally confident it will be very difficult.  I am most worried about nutrition. I don’t know how our bodies will react after 70 miles and it concerns me.

Kim, Kevin and I have run together for over half a decade, completing multiple endurance runs with each other. This has proven super helpful in training, and I am sure it will bare fruit on race day.  We know each other’s pace, breathing, strengths, and quirks.  We are comfortable enough to allow one another to run their own race, while knowing when we need to stick together. And it doesn’t hurt that we genuinely like each other and have fun on our crazy adventures.

We have a number of incredible friends from SVRC who have raised their hands to travel to Texas and pace us. Allan, Charles, and Craig will all be there. Carrie would have come except for a bad injury that has her sidelined.  Kim’s daughter and husband, Kevin’s ultramarathon friend, Robert, and my brother, Mark, will all be there.  We didn’t have to ask anyone twice. In fact, with Charles, we didn’t even need to ask!  He just said, “I’m coming to pace you guys.”  Every member of what we now call “Team 100!!” is sacrificing 3-5 days just to help us out, let alone run with us for 20 miles at 0-dark-thirty.   Truly remarkable.

If all goes according to plan we should be done anywhere between 20 hours (if you use Kim’s math) and 26 hours  (if you use Julianne’s math). We start at 6:00AM on February 4th. If you have any desire to know more, you can check out the website. http://www.tejastrails.com/Rocky.html

Posted by: runrunrunrun | December 31, 2011

Everything is updated for 2012

Hi Local Runners!

Just a quick note that the local race calendar is all updated for 2012. I will keep adding as I learn more.

I also added a tab of mapped routes, which I have created using MapMyRun. It will give you the route, distance, elevation, and description of local favorites.

Additionally, I updated my personal race schedule section and the ‘about’ me tab, which is mainly of interest to my mom. But if there is one person who I need to make happy, it’s mom, right?


Posted by: runrunrunrun | December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

I started 2011 with only two goals: Run 100K and Have Fun.

OMG! It totally worked!

I won a local 50K and a local 10K (how cool is that?!).

I ran at 3:00AM with legend Pam Reed (how cool is that?!).

I finished my first 100K with some of my best friends and got to experience the wonderfulness that is Luis Escobar (catching on… totally cool!).

I had the honor of volunteering a considerable amount of time at multiple races and through coaching (loved it each and every time).

I started a 6-month training program for a 100 miler with two of my great long-time running partners (with 5 weeks to go, we are in really good shape).

And I was voted president of my running club for 2012 (yup, you guessed it, cool!).

Not too shabby a year!  And I had great fun with all of it.

Cheers to everyone!  Thank you 2011 and welcome 2012!!

Posted by: runrunrunrun | August 14, 2011

Race Report: Coastal Trail Runs Crystal Springs 50K

Running through the trails of Woodside, CA

After a relaxing summer with my family, I started to get a bee-in-my-bonnet this week for a nice race.  I pinged my friend Kevin, but no dice.  He is traveling.  Carrie? Nope, she is injured.  Lynn? Nope, he just doesn’t feel like it.  So, knowing I was on my own, I decided to head to Woodside, CA to enjoy the Crystal Springs 50K.  I had heard many things about the Woodside course, but had never run the trails.

We started, as always, listening intently to Coastal Trail Runs RD Wendell giving his pre-race instructions.  There is always the moment when I think, “Am I going to try to remember the ribbon colors I follow or just hope the folks at the aid stations know where I should go?” As Wendell counted off, “Pink, Green, Orange, Pink” and various other combinations, I decided to wing it and hope for the best.

Listening to Wendell yesterday made me appreciate how many races he pulls off every year.  When he said, “I usually let you run till you drop, but today the park closes at 5:00 so I need you out of here,” followed by, “There are cut off times at the second aid station…<dramatic pause>… but I can’t remember what they are…,”  you couldn’t help but appreciate all that must be in his head on any given race weekend. He did, for the record, remember the cut off times.

Listening intently to Wendell's instructions

Without further ado, we were off…  The 8:30 start consisted of a 22-mile, marathon and 50K.  At 9:00 an 11-miler and 5K group joined the pack.

It was chilly at the start, but I quickly learned that the course has a way of wrapping you in warmth.  Yes, it was a hot day, but there were also these crazy sub-climates within the forest.

I had no performance expectations.  I just got my groove, found a few similar-grooved runners and tucked into the pack.  What started as a group whittled down to two by the first aid station, King’s Mountain, mile 6.  I thanked my partner as he had a perfect stride and complementary pace.

While eating my orange and refueling, the volunteer commented, “You are the second woman through and the first running the 50K.”  Really?!  I had no idea.  I thought there were a ton of women ahead of me.  Well, never one to miss a potential opportunity, I bid my running mate and the volunteers good-bye and I was off again.

The course was really pretty, meandering through the redwood forests.  There were only two “open” areas, and both were brief.  Everything else was tall and green and shaded. With 4500′ of elevation gain, it was basically up up up, down down down, up up up, and down down down.  However, very rarely was it steep.

Although no single point was too steep, the constant climbing did wear me down.

I ran all alone for about 11 miles, just me and my iPod.  I have never run an ultra with my music before.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the distraction.

Near mile 18, two women who looked fresh as daisies passed me.  They were chatting up a storm while I was taking a walk break.  I thought there was no way I could ever keep up with them so I just kept chugging along, duly impressed by their pace and ease.

As I ran, I completely enjoyed the sites and sounds, and frankly, being alone.  I can not remember a race of this distance I have run by myself. I wouldn’t trade my running friends for anything, but I was relishing  my own pace, the silence, and being in my own head.  I don’t think I uttered a word for over five hours, with the exception of talking at the aid stations.   To top it off, my watch died at four hours. For the final hour and a half, I didn’t even know how fast I was moving.  It was heaven.

As I approached the final aid station, I spotted the woman who had passed me earlier, and was relieved I had not fallen too far behind.  Out of water and thirsty as can be, I took the time to refuel and eat some fruit before heading out.

It was within a minute or so that I gleefully realized the final four miles were all down hill.  Blessed be!  I am crap on technical hills because I always think I am going to fall and break.  But this was not technical, these were my kind of hills… lots of easy-to-maneuver switchbacks followed by maybe a mile or so of dirt road.

I had plenty left in the tank, so I just took off, grateful I had given myself a few breaks earlier in the race.  I caught a guy who looked like he was having as much fun as I rocking down the hill, which made it even better.  Two crazies whipping around the curves.  I actually wanted to yell, “Weeeeeeeee,” but I refrained.  With maybe two miles to go, I caught up to the one remaining female and I just kept trucking.

I came in at 5:35, good enough for a first place, while second place (Amanda Newell) came just over a minute later.  I didn’t get to see her after the finish, but she was a super runner and knowing she was ahead of me for half the run made it more fun.

Thank you Coastal Trail crew.  Fabulous day on a beautiful (and very well marked) course.  Great aid stations, volunteers, post-event food and drink.  I will never tire of my ultramarathon finisher coasters!

I am certain this is the only time I will ever be associated with a course record, so I had to capture the screen shot!

Posted by: runrunrunrun | July 2, 2011

Henry Coe 10K – I won what might be a race of the past

There is a reason people stay in California despite the less than stellar state government, state of our public schools, and ridiculously high taxes and cost of living.  Being from Texas, which boasts the opposite of everything I just mentioned, my family struggles to comprehend why we stay.  I tell them that besides our friends and my husband’s family, it is California’s rich outdoor life that keeps us hanging on to our California dream.  I argue it is unmatched anywhere in the country.

We have the greatest state park system in the United States, an incredible source of pride and enjoyment for Californians.  Tragically and as a direct result of Governor Jerry Brown’s budget cuts, 70 state parks have been named for closure.  I 100% understand cutting the budget, but not 25% of our state park system.  In my opinion, we need to invest in our schools, police and fire, infrastructure, and fabulous park system.  Most of the rest of it can go.  And yes, as a frequent user of our park system, I am 100% willing to pay a fee to keep them open.

The closures include my own backyard, Henry Coe State Park, which is the second largest in the entire state park system and the largest in Northern California.  Coe is nearly three times as large as the city of San Francisco, with 87,000 acres and 250 miles of trails.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, if Brown’s plans take affect, he will be the first governor in the 106-year history of our park system to close parks in order to balance the budget.  So much about our state sucks, please don’t screw with our parks.

For runners, hikers, campers, Scouts, schools and horseback riders, closing Henry Coe will be extremely sad.  I recently ran, and won, the Hunting Hollow 10K at Henry Coe.  It’s a fabulous little event that also includes a 5K. Combined, there were about 200 runners split almost 50/50 between the two events.  The fact that I won was fun, but more meaningful was the presence of the Park Rangers who put on the event and the knowledge that proceeds support educational programs at the park, a park that may not be around next year.

Henry Coe is so beautiful and the race included something like 22 creek crossings (according to my friend, Lynn… can’t say I was counting).  But we don’t just run the race.  My trail running friends and I often do a kick-ass 10-mile route that includes the most breathtaking single-track ridge in our area.

I urge you to join the fight against the park closures. Get involved through the California State Parks Foundation and the Save Our State Parks Campaign.  If you recall, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had plans to cut 220 parks, plans he nixed after a citizen uprising of calls, emails, and letters.

About CSPF

With 120,000 members, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only statewide independent nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s magnificent state parks. CSPF is committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities offered by California’s 278 state parks—the largest state park system in the United States. For more information about California’s state parks, visit calparks.org.

About SOS

The Save Our State Parks (SOS) Campaign is a statewide, grassroots campaign to keep California’s magnificent state parks open. In partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments, and individuals around the state, the California State Parks Foundation is leading SOS Campaign activities and generating awareness and action about these unacceptable budget proposals. For more information visit:savestateparks.org.

Read more in this recent San Jose Mercury News article by Paul Rogers: At Henry W Coe State Park, news of proposed park closure hits home.

Henry Coe State Park. Source: Henry Coe Website

Henry Coe State Park. Source: Henry Coe Website

One of many river crossings at the Hunting Hollow 10K @ Henry Coe State Park

Crossing the finish line to victory. First female and 15th overall!

More importantly, my wonderful running friends

Posted by: runrunrunrun | May 22, 2011

Race Report: Born to Run 100K

Official Time Clock of the Born to Run Ultras

“I understand that doing this run with Luis and Caballo might not be a good idea.  If I get bitten by a rattle snake, lost, injured, or die, it is my own f’ing fault. Amen.”

And so began the Born to Run 100K.

The day was outstanding thanks to the attitude, atmosphere and efforts of its fearless leader Luis Escobar.  The event, which consisted of a 10-mile, 50K, 100K and 100 mile distance took place on an 8,000-acre working cattle ranch in Los Olivos, CA.  The course consisted of two ten mile loops that met in the middle. Picture a figure 8. While that isn’t totally accurate, it is close enough. The start, finish, main aid station, and runner check-in all took place in the middle of the figure 8.  One or two additional aid stations were placed around each loop, but they were minimally stocked (water, electrolyte, and a handful of snacks).

Luis Escobar was by far the most fun and supportive race director I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  He personally checked-in every runner after each 10 mile loop.  He made sure you knew exactly how many loops you had completed and what you had to do next.  He encouraged you to eat and drink and then get yourself back out on the course. My gut tells me he was also checking our state of well being with his challenging questions.  

Luis: “You’ve done pink, yellow, pink, yellow and now you are doing pink again.  You are going back out that direction.  Right? Got it?”  

Julianne: “Um…. um… I guess… I don’t really know.  I mean, um, yes.  Right.”

He also was just a cool dude.  His race-day instructions were classic.

“First, you’ll do the pink loop. Then you’ll do the yellow loop.  They aren’t real loops.  Both are ten miles.  Well, not really ten miles.  A little more, a little less.  There’s one aid station. How far away is it? I don’t know. About a water bottle away.” 

“The pink loop is marked by pink ribbons. They’ll be on your left hand side, so always keep them on your left side. If they are on your right you are going the wrong way.  Except for sometimes.  Sometimes they will be on your right.  If you hit blue ribbons you aren’t lost, but you are about to be.  So stop!  And look around because blue is bad!” 

“We are not really tracking your time, just kind of estimating. I don’t care about your time. This is ultrarunning and nobody cares. If you care about your time, I suggest you start your watch.”

“Something bad will happen to you in the next 24 hours.”

And finally, this is the oath Luis made us all take.  We even had to raise our right hand.
“I understand that doing this run with Luis and Caballo might not be a good idea. If I get bitten by a rattle snake, lost, injured, or die, it is my own f’ing fault. Amen.”

Luis Escobar - fabulous race director, elite ultrarunner, and professional photographer - provides race day instructions dressed as a chicken

Oh, and during all of these race day instructions, Luis was wearing a chicken suite.  Why?  I still have no idea, but it was awesome.
Turns out, once you hit the course, all his seemingly oddball instructions made total sense.  The course was super-well marked and as I mentioned, Luis personally checked-in every runner after each 10-mile loop.  He was amazing.

Was it hard to run 62 miles for the first time?  Yes, but not unbearably.  In fact, I think the Tahoe 50-miler took longer and the North Face 50-mile Challenge was harder.  I struggled at the end without a doubt, which was a bummer but it wasn’t terrible.  My energy just dropped.  I know what I did wrong and will fix it for next time.  I know in an ultra I need to eat every five miles and I screwed that up so by mile 55 while my legs were strong, my tank was empty.  But all goodness.  Lessons learned.  Other than that, I felt great the entire time.  

Craig, Carrie, Me, Kevin, Kim - The UltraFreaks of Morgan Hill. Photo taken within minutes of crossing the finish line. 100K done!

I count my blessings every day for my great running friends.  They are really like a second family. Five of us went out for this event, four running the 100K and one completing the 50K.

Carrie, Kevin and I stuck together for 50 miles, which I find incredible.  Kim ran almost the entire 62 miles on her own, which I find even more incredible.  Carrie continues to amaze me with her athletic prowess.  She was 3rd place female, complementing her win at her first 50-miler.  I came in 7th, which was great.  The female finishers placing 3rd-7th were all on the final 2-mile lollipop loop together, separated in total by less than 25 minutes.  (In case you didn’t do the math, Kim came in 6th about 5 minutes before me.)

Had we cared, it would have been a great race to the finish line.  The two women who came in fourth and fifth were new friends Tiffany and Christi.  I bet we ran off and on with them for 30 miles.  At one point, TIffany ran with a 35mm camera strapped to her back! Some of the photos I am posting here are from her kickin’ effort to run and photograph.

Craig, our partner-in-crime who ran the 50K, was awesome.  After running 31 miles, which is amazing in and of itself, he stuck with us as crew and support.  Every time we came to the main aid station he was up, “What can I get you?  How are you feeling?” When I ran in at mile 60 our exchange went like this:

 

Craig: “Are you OK?”  

Julianne: “No.  I am tired.”

Craig: “I will run the last 2 with you.”

Julianne: “Thank you.”


And bam, he was right there seeing me through to the end.  Not a moment of pause.

Our little crew of UltraFreaks do a lot of talking and guiding for new people in our community who want to try the ultra distance.  We often talk about going slow and how it isn’t that hard.  But the truth is you must respect the distance.  We were out there for over 13 hours and we climbed 7000′.  We were all really well trained.  We had a lot of miles and ultra experience under our belts, and we trained specifically for this event for about five months.  Our discipline paid off.  I was incredibly proud of us.  Nobody got injured, sick, or even thought of not finishing.  

 

The obvious next question is, “What about the 100-miler?”  Well, Kevin and I made a pact at mile 55 that we would not run a 100-miles.  Three days later we broke that pact with this text message exchange:

Julianne: “Kev.  I am thinking that making a pact at mile 55 of a 62-mile race isn’t the best idea.” 

Kevin: “I wondered who would crack first.  I just thought it would take more than 3 days!!”

Julianne: “Yay! 100-miler here we come!”

Feels like Born to Run 2012 might be the place to give it  a go.

 

Born to Run Ultras on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_143807819012403

Born to Run Ultras Website:  http://web.me.com/luisescobar/born_to_run_ultras/Welcome.html


Very early in the race. Kim is in the front followed by Kevin and then me.

Heading up. All the climbs were totally doable, but they got harder as the day went on...obviously. You can see Kevin in front, then me in peach, and our new friend Christi.

Heading back down. Carrie, Kevin, me, Christi.

Kevin and I entering an aid station

Main aid station. I will have some vodka with my fruit cup and Power Bar please.

I love this photo because it is Luis helping Kevin remove his number after the finish. So indicative of Luis's hands-on approach to helping his runners. Earlier in the day he personally went and got Kevin a wet towel to cool down.

The Official Born to Run Mascot. Like the Chicken Suit, I have no idea why other than random good hearted fun. You can see me and Craig in the background.

Done! Tired! Happy! You can see the white chalk line behind me. That's the finish.

The official map to the start. Ha ha ha.

The official results. How can you beat this? Best race ever.

Posted by: runrunrunrun | March 6, 2011

Race Report: Napa Valley Marathon

Ran the fabulous Napa Valley Marathon today.  It is fabulous for three reasons: the course (rolling), the organizers (very well done), the location (one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions).  In addition, my running club was out in force today, which meant I ran into friends (pun intended) from start to finish.  I highly recommend this race.  I put it in my top 5 marathon list, somewhere after Boston and London, but in close proximity to Big Sur and Prague.

The course is a net down, but you can’t really tell.  It is the easy rolling hills that make it nice.  They are consistent from the start to about mile 20.  None are too steep in either direction, just enough so that you switch gears off and on, keeping things interesting and your legs fresh.

The event is extremely well organized.  Everything from the website, to the race day instruction email, expo, shuttles, aid stations, post race showers / food / massages, medical, drop bags, etc. are top notch.  It is as efficiently run as any event I have ever done.  Schwag isn’t really important to me any more, but even so I was impressed with the duffle bags and very cool medals.

As you run from one beautiful vineyard to the next you can’t help but get a little swept up by the realization that you are running in the world famous Napa Valley.  It is often easy to take Napa for granted when you live in the Bay Area, but today was not one of those days. Napa Valley is a trip of a life time for people around the world and here we are running right through it.

Today’s event was a training run for my upcoming 100K, so my only goal was to run smart.  I can’t afford any recovery days this week.  I knew my friend Craig, who is also running the 100K, was in the pack somewhere so I spent the first four miles trying to find him.  During that time I found friends Kathy, Kim, Raina and Allison.  I hung with them for a mile and then scuttled off.  A mile or so later I spotted a red pony tail tossing side-to-side and I knew it was Andrea, running with another club member, Dennis.  I hung with them for about a half mile and when they mentioned Craig had passed ten minutes earlier, I took off.  Along the way I saw Stacey and Allan.  Stacey was trying to qualify for Boston and Allan was pacing her.  Allan does a terrific job coaching and helping club runners meet their goals, whether they want to break a 10K personal record or run a marathon.  He also is a dedicated volunteer and race director.

Finally, at around mile 4, I spotted a crazy dude running in a kilt.  Ahhhh…. there is Craig!

Craig and I had a wonderful time.  We chatted for 20 miles.  I know we must have driven some runners crazy with all our yammering, but I also know others enjoyed it.  I would catch someone laughing at one of our stories or they’d chime in from time to time.  Because Craig was wearing a kilt, he attracted a lot of attention and that was great fun.  The cheers of, “Go Kilt,” kept us smiling.  Before we knew it we were halfway done at about 1:55.  Although we both were targeting 4:15 for our training run, we knew we were on course to hit four hours.  I have an unspoken goal in all my marathons to run an even split.  I have only done it really well once, at Boston in 2010.  I knew I risked jinxing it, but I said to Craig, “I think we can run an even split if we keep this pace.”

We continued just chugging along easily.  A few more stories, a few reenactments of our favorite sitcom, “Modern Family,” another GU, some more aid stations, and we were suddenly at mile 20…21…22…23… and feeling solid.  We knew we had a sub-4:00.  I for one was feeling pretty proud of us.  We hadn’t worried about our pace, we just didn’t want to push it.  We ran comfortably and it was working.

Around mile 23 we caught up to Greg from our club.  He was walking so we helped him rally.  Greg said something that all marathoners can understand, “Mile 20 really kicked me.”  He stuck with us for about a mile and then had to walk.  He ended up just four minutes behind me, finishing a great race and marathon PR.

Craig started to slow down at this point but I was feeling fresh so I kept on going, finishing strong at 3:53.  It was a perfectly even split, a perfectly run marathon.

A couple notes for folks who have never run Napa before.  I highly recommend you stay in Calistoga.  I like it much better than Napa.  It’s smaller yet livelier, and I was able to walk to the start line.  In fact, I wasn’t even out of bed when the shuttles were leaving from Napa to the Calistoga start.  My husband and I were in a nice little bungalow with a kitchen, sitting room, bedroom and bath.  It was no more expensive than a local B&B.  Also, don’t forget soap, shampoo, towel and hair drier.  After the race you can shower in the high school gym.  It’s a great treat, but I forgot a towel and hair drier.

I rarely repeat events, but this one will be on my “do again” list, probably the next time I try to qualify for Boston.

Posted by: runrunrunrun | January 17, 2011

Race Report: 6/12/24 Hour Dirty Legs

This weekend I ran my first night run.  I participated in a 12-hour relay that took place from 10PM on Saturday night until 10AM on Sunday morning around a 2.01-mile loop in Morgan Hill, CA.  It was quite an adventure that I’d like to share.

Getting the race put together was in-and-of itself a journey.  It started as an idea of my friend Craig. Originally a few of us were going to run in a circle for hours just to do it.  We talked about having our families provide support and putting a chalkboard in place to tally our laps.  Then ultramarathon legend Pam Reed (who’s manager is one of our running friends) decided she’d like to use the loop to run for 24-hours.  Once that happened, South Valley Endurance (SVE), owned by two other locals — Greg and Debbie Richards — took over to make it an official USTAF sanctioned event.  It went from five ultra freaks running in a circle to a pretty big deal for our little town and running club.

My original intent on doing the run was to see how I would adapt to running at night.  I wondered what my body and mind would do.  Would I make it?  The relay was a perfect option to test running sleep deprived, without having a 12 or 24-hour solo run at stake.

There were three relay teams of three runners.  All nine runners were in our running club (South Valley Running Club – SVRC) and we are all friends, having run hundreds of miles together.

Here is what I learned.

It was much harder than I thought it would be. Our relay team (Jimmy, Carrie, and I) decided to run four hours a piece and split it by rotating 2 hours, 1 hour, 1 hour.  I ran 12AM-2AM, 5AM-6AM, and 8AM-9AM.  I thought this would be mentally tiring, but I wasn’t worried about my body.  I have to admit, my 5AM-6AM run was extremely tough.   The break between runs was not restful and only served to make my body tighten and my stomach cramp.  I had no idea what I should be eating or drinking.  Additionally, I have had bronchitis for a month, so my appetite was almost non-existent.   During the entire 12-hours I ate one half of a banana, drank about 12 oz of water, 6 oz of Gatorade, and had two cups of broth.

The 2-mile loop was far more enjoyable than I expected. I must have said 100 times, “The idea of running in circles simply doesn’t appeal to me.”  Turns out, I really liked it, especially at night.  I found comfort in knowing the course so thoroughly, and I easily split the mileage up in my mind. I also found it extremely motivating to see the other runners and the SVE team every 20 minutes or so.

I was able to come back after a tough night. One of our club runners, Gar, bless his heart, showed up around 5AM to help us keep going.  He saw I was struggling and left another runner, LaRene, to keep me company.  He just talked with me for 2 miles, slowing down so I could keep up.  I think it was possibly the hardest 2 miles I’ve ever run.  My stomach hurt and my legs made me feel like the tin man.  I knew I had to regroup.  After passing the chip to my teammate, Carrie,  it hit me that my car had seat warmers, so I sat in there for about 90 minutes with the heat blasted and the seat warmers turned up as high as possible.  It was the most rest I had all night and it felt great.  Pealing myself out of my toasty car at 7:30 was no easy feat, but then Carrie’s boyfriend, Chase, appeared with coffee and a scone.  That did it.  I found my second wind and took off at 8AM, albeit slowly, able to complete my final leg of the relay.  It felt good, like I had managed to overcome.

Having 9 of us out there made a huge difference. There was something really fun and motivational about the fact that the three relay teams were all from SVRC.  We encouraged, lamented, sat around freezing cold, and cheered for each other for 12 straight hours.  I wonder what it would have been like to be out there without friends.  Not as fun, I am certain of that.

Running with Pam Reed was not only an honor but extremely enjoyable. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, I actually found the start/stop element of the relay hard.  So at 3AM, with my first two hours done, and Pam Reed right there, I decided to join her and keep running.  I ran with Pam and her husband, Jim, for about an hour.  I can’t say enough nice things about the two of them.  Surprisingly, we didn’t talk much about running.  We talked about our boys (they have five and I have three), the cost of living in the Bay Area, moving to new places, the state of public school, etc.  I ran with Pam again after my final relay shift ended.  At this point she had been going for 23 hours, so we talked about the blisters on her feet and we lamented the slight hill on the course. She told me I wasn’t eating enough, which was funny because she is famous for consuming very few calories.  The best line from my experience with Pam was when, at 88 miles, she sighed and said, “This is taking FOREVER.”  Sounded just like any of us on any long run.

I also want to complement our club member Lynn Astalos. He is Pam’s manager and was half of her crew.  He really did our club proud.  He must have ridden his bike next to Pam at about 6 miles an hour for about 12 hours.  In fact, he showed me a blister on his hand from the handlebars.  I think he slept 2 hours in total, and other than that he was in full crew mode.  Very impressive.  Crewing is not easy and I am certain Lynn was as exhausted as any of the runners.

As part of the relay team, I finished 24 miles, a little less than two miles shy of my 26.2 goal.  Adding in my addition running with Pam, I totaled 30 miles.  I made it through the night, I hung out with my friends, and I ran with a legend.  It was an experience I won’t soon forget and it has given me the confidence to attempt a 100K.

The race included a 24, 12, and 6 hour option. If you wanted to run the 12-hour, you could run 10AM-10PM or 10PM-10AM. Here runners are getting set for the 10AM start.

 

Just before the start, Pam Reed and her husband Jim talk to SVRC 6-hour solo runner, Chuck Kaekel.

The 2-mile loop pretty much looked like this all the way around. Of course it was much different at night, but I was too tired to remember to take any photos!

My friends Carrie and LaRene trying to stay warm in our tent in between runs.

My family surprised me by showing up at the finish. That's me running toward my son, Connor. Pam is to my right. I said to her, "Oh my God! My family is here. I need to stop running with you and go hug them!"

My husband snapped this as I went to hug him. I love it because it shows the pure joy I was feeling at seeing my family.

 

Reece (10), Morgan (10), and Connor (11)

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