Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sorry for the Temporary Silence... I've Been Running and Living Life!

Sorry to be such a boring blogger lately, but life (and running) has truly gotten away from me lately. I've had so many adventures, met so many people, been to some stellar places, and have been living life in the fast lane (well... the carpool lane mostly since 17 hours of driving just sucks.) I've been meaning to post about my latest achievement at the Speedgoat 50k and how my training just rocked... but I've been traveling, camping, volunteering, pacing and crewing since I completed that mother of a race in July. Facebook has been my surrogate blog lately, and although it doesn't really give me a space to properly reflect on some of the amazing experiences I've had, it does allow me to do some much needed purging of photos from my phone and jot down a few notes.

So with that, you should already know I FINISHED SPEEDGOAT 50k - The hardest 50k in the U.S!! I completed that fucker in 12:04:53 and although it wasn't an easy race by any means I finished happy, strong, unbroken, and with very little pain except for a few twinges from my neuroma in my right foot.

Yay me!

I attribute my unbroken-ness to the fact that the race was way more of a power hike than anything. Ridiculous and unrunnable for most of the 32+ miles (there was a "surprise" climb at the end) this race was NO JOKE. Karl Meltzer is one sadistic cray cray. Not only was this race a physical challenge - one which my training was a great match for - but it was a total mental mindfuck. The mental mind fucking beginning even before the race started with the men's line for the bathroom. It was seriously two miles long. Wtf? Really? Who ever heard of there being a line for the men's room? So glad I was a woman who had to pee at this race and not a man who had to take care of #2. Whew!

Taking care of "business" was easy for us girls.
Peeing taken care of it was time for our race tattoos! ElevationTat created free tattoos for this race which all the DirtyGirlz sported.
Missing our DirtyGirl Charito here!
She must have accidentally gotten in the boy's line for the bathroom. Oops.

A group shot later we were on our way...
All us goats, speedy and otherwise, posing before the fun starts.
I think its important to mention our buddy, Ben, here, posing on the far right in the red shirt. This dude is WAY impressive. Don't let his arms-in-his-shirt-like-he's-a-five-year-old-making-armpit-farting-noises fool you. Dude is a mother fucking badass runner. Originally signed up to run the race, he made the decision to bail out due to some kind of achilles injury/aggravation. He wanted to be smart and run another day. His intention was to be our cheering section - and drink beer - but his running addiction got the best of him the morning of the race when he decided at the last minute that basketball shorts and a Dasani water bottle make a fine substitute for running gear when considering to run one of the hardest 50ks in the U.S. He's a super chill dude and his decision was super casual - kinda like his outfit of choice - so he nonchalantly stepped up to the start line the morning of the race with the rest of us.

We were happy he was there and were hoping his achilles would survive.

So the race started and we were on our way to climb up to almost 11,000 ft elevation.
Kristina on her way to Hidden Peak.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)
Running on snow.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)

My biggest concern for this race was my nemesis time cutoffs. I had to be at Larry's Hole (the 2nd lap and mile 20ish) by 2pm and at Tunnel A.S. (mile 22ish) by no later than 3:15pm. Since my track record for meeting time cutoffs is stressful to say the least I wanted this to be the race where I wasn't pushing to meet those times. I figured since most races I finish with a little gas left in the tank its ridiculous that I wouldn't be able to make it to these spots on time. So I had planned to be at the top of the first peak (11,000ft) by roughly around 9:05am.

I made it there by around 9:15ish or so. I was pretty close to my target. Yay!

But the descents off of that peak were not only steep, but full of loose rock and skree so I took it easy.

And then there were baby skulls.

WTF? Who runs on this shit??!! The section right before Pacific Mine A.S. drove me insane. We must have ran on large round rocks for a couple miles before ever seeing real trail.

Some seriously unrunnable shit.
So needless to say, I took it easy... again. Just so I wouldn't roll my ankle which was recovering from my wild rolling in desolation wilderness a couple weeks prior to this race.

I saw Kristina at the Pacific Mine A.S., we got popsicles and chatted as we headed out. I think we had a couple of hours before we needed to be at our first cutoff point. It was a long haul up. Eventually, I lost track of Kristina and continued UP, UP, UP...

Hmmm. This doesn't look that much different
than the baby skull section except that it's all uphill.
I made the cutoff with about an hour to spare. My legs felt great, my lungs had adapted to the elevation and I was happy with how my whole body felt. No ITB issues, no hip pain, but my feet were sore. I had worn my new Merrell Mix Masters which were a lighter shoe than my previous Mix Masters and I felt a lot of the terrain through my shoe. But, honestly, the Mix Masters are the only shoe I've ever worn that feel comfortable on my feet the minute I put them on. It seems I don't need to break those shoes in at all. They're just a wide comfy shoe for me, so I was pretty happy about that.

So I continued on through the Aid Station at Larry's Hole. I didn't need much... just water and I was on my way. I ascended up the hill where I heard wooping and hollaring not more than a few hundred yards up from me.

Hmmmm... someone was really excited up there. Must be a good view or something. Who knows?

Then I hear the "Woohoo!!" again followed by what sounded like my name. Someone knows me up there.

I look up to see my friend, Maggie, half bent over catching her breath. I FOUND MAGGIE!! Last time I saw her was shortly after the start on our way up the first ascent. It was awesome to run into friends on the trail - first Kristina and now Maggie. We all ran our own race, and it got kinda lonely on the long and mental parts, but here she was and I had caught up to her.

And where ever there's Maggie, there's a party so this made me happy.

We continued our climb together ascending the side of Mt. Baldy which literally felt like we should have been on belay. No trail. Just footholds and a few sparse shrubs to grab onto every few feet or so. It's like Karl was running down the fireroad scouting the course for this race, looked up and said "This will totally fuck with them." 

And it did.

If you could balance yourself enough to turn around and look at the view it was an absolute treat. A stunning view that usually included a runner keeled over, hacking for breath, but nonetheless spectacular. 

Amazing views!!

This dude was just "taking a break"
So me and Maggie made it to the top of Mt. Baldy together and within plenty of time to reach the next cutoff which was just a couple miles away.

Yay! We made it!
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)

More selfies - cuz we had a little time to spare.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)
And then it was off to Tunnel Aid Station to meet our last time cutoff before the finish.

Where oddly enough we run into some old characters from a previous blog post. Remember this guy?

Mags trying to impress race director Matt Gunn
with her banana at the Zion 100 Miler
Well... I got a Matt Gunn shower at the Tunnel Aid Station.
Oh jeez that's cold water!!
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)
Breathe!
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)

I think I was trying to catch my breath in that photo, or move my lips, or about to fall over. Whatever it was, Matt was waiting for it like he was about to initiate CPR or something. I think my body went into shock.

After the initial cold my body recovered long enough for...

Fireball shots and a popsicle!! Awwwyeah!

Meeting Dennis Ahern
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)
Have you ever dipped a popsicle in a shot of fireball and ate it? It's wicked tasty after about 20 long, hard miles.

The dude who we drank shots with is another character from the Zion 100 Epic Adventure. Dennis Ahern. One of the respondents to Maggie's post on facebook about how disappointed she was going to be about finishing a 100 mile race that's only 99.86 miles long. The banter went back and forth between Maggie and the characters in that thread and I don't think anyone on there thought she would finish the Zion 100. She did. This dude remembered Maggie and her confident and sometimes flippant remarks. It was a fun and unexpected introduction for me.
A shot at the top!
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Maggie Akyuz)
But it was time to get our asses in gear and head over to the last peak - or so we thought. We climbed the ridgeline over to Hidden Peak again and made our way to the bottom.

Another amazing view!
And them back up... again. Karl, The Sadist, had apparently thrown in a "bonus climb" at the end. Not much, but enough to make you go "WTF!!! That's not on the elevation profile!!"

This is what we looked like on those last climbs...
I look like a zombie while Mags is dreaming of butterflies.
But we finished. And it was a hell of a race to the end. Not sure I want to do it again, but maybe if I had some good company. I was out on the trail for little over 12 hours. I may as well have done a 100k that day. All I kept thinking about was this...

Our only form of entertainment back at the condo.
And Ben, Paulo, and Billy all finished within about 8 hours. Speedgoats for sure.
Now back to our regular programming of licking salt in the desert and drinking margaritas...

Salt Flat Margaritas. Awwwyeah.
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