Posted by: julianneruns | July 23, 2014

Tahoe Rim Trail 50M 2014

Ultra running is like childbirth. You prepare for months. When you’re in the middle of it you think it’s painful and never to be done again. But as soon as it’s over, you only remember the good. You start to think maybe there will be a next time.

The 2014 Tahoe Rim Trail 50-miler had everything. Beautiful views. Best in the business aid stations. Climbs. Rocks. Altitude. Altitude sickness. Thunder and lightening.

We did remarkably well and not so great.

On the remarkably well side, neither of us really got tired. In fact, our legs were fine all the way until the end. We enjoyed ourselves. Took photos. Appreciated the views. Talked to the volunteers. Chatted with other runners. Plowed through the thunder and lightening. It was quite a remarkable day.

On the not so great side, I got sick. For about 30 miles. Which sucked. It’s never happened to me before. But this time I was hit with altitude sickness. It was like being car sick while running. Often, I couldn’t run at all. I wanted to just throw up.

I vowed never to run there again. I gave thanks for picking Eastern States 100 (at sea level) over Leadville (at high altitude). For about five minutes, I thought about dropping out.  I think we lost about an hour because of my stomach.

But now, a few days later, it’s all good. I think I’ll probably do it again.

More importantly, I got to run the whole thing with Scott. It was his first 50-miler. And he was amazing. Such a strong runner. Such a great partner. I felt badly that I held him back. That he had to take care of me and not the other way around. He ran behind me, otherwise he would have inadvertently left without me.

After 14 hours and change, we crossed that finish line together. 1000 miles of training that traversed over 100,000 ft of climbing. We did it all together. Beginning to end.

So our time wasn’t great (half hour off what I did last time) but it wasn’t horrible. We were middle of the pack. And like Luis Escobar says, “It’s ultra running. Nobody cares about your time.”

Two days later Scott sent me a link to another 50M. Like childbirth, we’ve forgotten the bad and are only thinking about the good.

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Checking in the day before. It’s getting real.

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Bags dropped…

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Everything’s ready…

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3:30AM wake up call. Getting everything ready before we hit the bus to the start line.

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We found our great friend and incredible runner, Kim Moyano, at the start. Kim can’t stay away from a start line, even if she isn’t running.

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Thinking about what’s to come. About 20 minutes before 6:00AM start.

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Start of the 50-miler. Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail team.

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Passing Marlett Lake.

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Made it to Hobart Aid Station. It had a circus theme, complete with a bar, bacon, and clowns.

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Volunteers making the runners breakfast at Hobart Aid Station. Mile 6.3.

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Why not?

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About mile 9 I think. Lake Tahoe is the big one in the background.

 

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Made it to the lowest point on the course, the Red House, about 6000′ in elevation. Everywhere we go we try to take photos of Scott with a dog. It’s just a thing we do.

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Hustle and bustle of Tunnel Creek Aid Station. We hit this one 3 times. They call it “The City of Tunnel Creek” because of all the non-stop activity.

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That’s a good team right there.

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We saw views like this all day. It’s the most beautiful run I’ve ever done.

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Starting the infamous Diamond Peak climb. It’s a black diamond ski run that we have to climb up. It takes 1 hour to go 2 miles. Runners go about 50 feet and then stop to catch their breath. Many just sit on the side of the trail for this one.

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Scott making his way up Diamond Peak. He’s getting close to the top.

 

 

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I don’t really know where this is on the course. I just like the photo.

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That’s a wrap! Photo courtesy of Tahoe Rim Trail team.

And scene!

And scene!

p.s.

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This is my back the next day. All the abrasions are from my Perpetuem solids! It never occurred to me that over 14 hours of carrying those small nuggets of solid nutrition in my pack would beat up my back so much. Lesson learned. Better to realize it now than during the 100 miler.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: julianneruns | June 1, 2014

It’s the journey…

Felt like blogging for the first time in over two years.  I am halfway through training for the Eastern States 100 and about 9 weeks from the Tahoe Rim 50M.  And it occurred to me over the weekend that part of why I like ultrarunning is because of the journey it takes us on.  ES100.  TRT50M.  These are journeys in and of themselves, but regardless of how I do, it doesn’t take away from all the experiences I have had.

And each experience is a moment in and of itself to savor and enjoy, for better or for worse.  Sort of like life.  No real destination. You don’t just stop and say, “OK, I did it. I’m done now.” You keep going.  I had not really thought about this until the other day.  Now I feel all zen-master like.

Over the past three months our training has taken us 578 miles and we’ve climbed over 72,600 feet. Bloody Hell. 72,600 feet of climbs!

We ran the 20 mile out an back to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur.  It’s uphill both ways with some minor bouldering to get to the Springs.  You sit and soak for a while.  Relax.  Chat with the camping peeps and then wind your way back up and out.

We ran Big Basin in Santa Cruz with our friend Kevin.  A beautiful run through some amazing waterfalls.

We ran the QuickSilver 50K, significantly beating our target goal times, making us feel like badasses, and giving us the chance to run with our friends Carrie and Kim.

We paced our friend Kevin at the Born to Run 100-miler.  What we learned is pacing is harder than you’d think. Note to self, when you are at mile 80-100 in a 100 mile race you are going really slowly. Like 18 minute miles.  You think you are cruising along.  You aren’t.  You think you are eating.  You aren’t.  You think you won’t finish.  But you will.  Also, your pacer really hopes you all hurry up.

We discovered new trails at our standby, Harvey Bear, and got lost (and found) every time we’ve run Mt Madonna.

We have been amazed at the miles we are logging, the food we are consuming, and the sleep we require.

And we are at the point in training where all we do is eat, sleep and think about running.  It’s a wonder we can hold it together at work and that my kids don’t just roll their eyes at me 24/7.  They actually told me just the other day that they are no longer impressed with anything under 50 miles.  Ha ha.

I know we will do well at Tahoe Rim, but who knows at Eastern States. It’s going to be hot and humid, and very technical.  But the not knowing is part of the journey.

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Running on the trails to Big Sykes hot springs

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Scott enjoying the Hot Springs before we head back for another 10 miles

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Beautiful Creek along the Hot Springs

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Waterfalls at Big Basin, Santa Cruz

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Flowing beauty of Big Basin, Santa Cruz

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Start of the QuickSilver 50K in San Jose with our friends Carrie and Kim

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Having more fun than our runner, Kevin, at BTR100

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Crewing for Kevin at BTR100. About mile 60.

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Our beloved friend right after he finished his first 100 Miler.

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Our neighborhood trail system at Harvey Bear in San Martin

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Getting it done at Mt Madonna

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All these adventures make happy runners and happier people

 

Posted by: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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: julianneruns | 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.

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