Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oh Pretty Please

Brian is down in California, heat training or something. I'm not too convinced about his strategy since part of this "heat" training involved not using air conditioning in the rental car until he started sweating during his non-stop drive from Seattle to Auburn. I'm his wife, and he asked me to guest blog and write about Western from my perspective.

I'll be honest with you - I hate this race. More than anything, (oh pretty please) I just want him to finish it this year and come home with a buckle that we can add to our very unorganized collection of ultra running memorabilia. Then maybe, just maybe, he won't have to go back next year. (I wonder if he's second guessing the free reign he gave me to guest post.) My perspective is that Western States has become, for our little family anyway, way too much of an emotional journey and too big of a hooplah. For Pete's sake, I was telling a friend about it today, and I started crying in the middle of Chipotle (Chipotle?!?!) as I shared the moment when Brian came into the stadium in 2006, and I awaited him with tears of happiness - just to have that rush stomped out in a split-second - as he collapsed for the first time and the realization hit me that something was seriously wrong.

This race though has its positive aspects, and for that I respect it. I love the crews that come out with their A-game on: matching t-shirts, posters, babies in arms, and relatives in tow from around the world. I love the volunteers who are super friendly and put in long hours. I love the runners that travel here from abroad to participate in this wild race. I love how Auburn turns out in mass to cheer these passionate runners on all day long. I love the runners that start in Squaw knowing it will be 28 + hours for them, but they're doing it anyway. I love catching up with the friendly runners and their relatives that I've met over the years. I'm excited to see Nikki, and I really hope that her cousin is there with his conch shell. I look forward to seeing Hal and Carly and hope that Hal looks as cute this year as he did gliding to the 2007 finish. And I hope Don Mukai is there; I haven't seen him in a while and he gives good hugs.

So Western States 2009, please, pretty please, smile down on Brian this year (and on me too for my sanity) and let the guy finish!

(Shhh... don't tell Brian, but I secretly hope that he finishes 11th or higher b/c that means that he doesn't automatically get to go back next year. Is that terrible? I've been trying to convince him to try other long races like HURT 100 in Hawaii or the Tour de Mont-Blanc. A girl can always dream...)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Turning the Corner

Well thankfully I've made some real headway the past couple of days, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to head down to States and give it what I've got. I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to offer some encouragement. I'm generally a pretty upbeat person, but it's easy to get overwhelmed with a bunch of negative thoughts, especially surrounding this race. So, I may still not be 100%, but I was able to put a couple hours in on the trail yesterday and feel pretty good. With five days until the race, I think I'll be ready to line up and stare down 100 miles Saturday morning. I'm really curious to see what happens out there following this forced two week taper. My hope is that I'll run a very smart race because of it. I had a similar scenario in 2007 when I raced White River coming off a long battle with a virus. My pace through the first half was quite conservative. In fact, I think that I was 17th or so coming through the halfway point, but as I just started feeling strong in the second half, people in front began to falter. It seemed that every hill I crested and every turn I made, there was another runner to pass. It was one of the most satisfying races of my career, and I ended up finishing 2nd overall. It was a very distant 2nd, but nonetheless it was a tremendous feeling to surge through the second half of the race. Let's hope I can do something similar on Saturday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh Come On!

You won't believe this. No really, you all are not going to believe what I'm about to reveal. I am sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. Well it's probably not all that shocking to those who know how cursed I seem to be at Western States. It's really almost laughable how bad my luck is this time of year. I'm really trying to stay upbeat about this and hopefully beat this crud. If I do, there's no doubt that I'll be coming in well rested. I literally have not run a step since Tuesday of last week. No surprise to anyone, that's not really the optimal way to lead up to your biggest race of the year.

So how did this happen? Well I came into work the Sunday before last, having just finished the store run and wrapping up my final big week before the race, when I was stopped cold in my tracks by the deep rumbling cough emanating from the back room. One of my co-workers was obviously very sick, and I quickly encouraged him to pack up and go home before spreading anything. It was a mostly selfish move, but obviously customers don't want to receive service from someone who is hacking and sniffling, especially with the fear of swine flu. So on he went, and I wiped everything down and continuously, neurotically, washed my hands throughout the day. In the end, it was all for not. My immune system, heavily compromised from training, caved in to the bug, and I've been sick ever since.

I'm on day 10 now. Slowly I'm improving, but I need to see something change drastically in the next couple of days, or else I'm going to pull the plug on States. That kills me to say, but I got sick in 2007 and tried to run. I knew starting the race that I probably would not finish, and I certainly could not be competitive. That year I ended up dropping at Dusty Corners, and I felt miserable about it. I really don't know if I'd feel any better just not starting, but I promised myself that I would never start a race that way again. So I've tentatively set Sunday or Monday as my drop dead date, meaning that I'm going to make a decision one way or another by Sunday night or Monday morning as to whether or not I go to Western States.

In light of all that, I did have a very exciting moment at work the other day. Exciting enough to have taken at least a little sting out of being sick right now. Mike McCready, yes THE Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, wandered into Seattle Running Company the other day. Thankfully I was working and got to help him out. Rather than beat around the bush, I flat out told him that I was a huge fan. He seemed genuinely pleased to hear it. The guy seems incredibly down to earth and was quite friendly. He asked me a lot of questions about my own running. We even talked about Western States and what it's like to run 100 miles. Without coming across as a freaky fan, I told him that I thought the performance of "Got Some" was great. Again he seemed truly excited to hear it. The new album, he told me, is eleven songs long, and he described it as having a new-wavey feel. He said that it was great to work with producer Brendan O'Brien again. They last worked with him on 1998's Yield. He was in the store for about 20 minutes or so and ended up getting a couple pairs of shoes. Interestingly, he's not so much a runner as he is a cardio boxing participant. He even shared with me little news about a certain Seattle band playing a certain Seattle venue in the fall. It was pretty darn cool.

So unless you're a Western States frontrunner, keep your fingers crossed for my health. And, by all means, if you have any special remedies please share. PLEASE!!!!

PS Hal, I asked Jeff Dean what "coctupe" meant. It was so filthy that I can't even share it here on my blog.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Well I'm thoroughly hammered. This has probably been the most rigorous four weeks of training that I've ever experienced. And although I feel like I've been working my ass off, my body is holding up quite well (knock on wood).

If I'm not ready to compete at States right now, then I never will be. Really, I'm not one to exaggerate, so you'll just have to trust me. For as hard as I trained in 2006, I don't think that I matched the likes of these past four weeks. But don't tell anyone. Right now I'm not being discussed as a contender, and I like it that way. I flew in under the radar in 2006, and I hope to do the same this year.

My mileage has been relatively low (85-95 miles), but I haven't run any "junk" miles. Don't get me wrong. I've certainly run some easy recovery jaunts, but I haven't run a step just to add 2-3 worthless miles to a weekly total. The bulk of my weekly mileage has come between Friday and Sunday.

Each of the past 4 Fridays have been spent running repeats up and down Mt. Si. For three weeks in a row, I ran 2 times up and down (6400 ft. of ascent). Then to cap off this block of training, I punched out three repeats this past Friday. All three ascents were negative splits. Saturdays have been the big, long runs. The first Saturday of this stint was 69.88 miles in 10:37 as part of a twelve hour race. The ascent was minimal, only 4k, but it gave me some real confidence going that distance after a hard day before. Each of the next two Saturdays were spent at Tiger Mountain, running 12 peaks. It's a local run in which you hit all six summits of Tiger out and back, for a total of 12. The run logs over 9000 ft, covers 34 miles, and takes just over 6 hours. This past Saturday I opted for a slightly more runnable course. I hammered out two loops of the Cougar 14 miler. Again, this is a staple local run. I ran the first loop in 2:09 and the second in 2:03. 28 miles. 5300 ft. of ascent. Not too bad after triple Mt. Si's. And each of the last 4 Sundays I've spent leading the Seattle Running Company trail runs. These runs are typically 2-3 hours and cover 14-16 miles on hilly terrain. So in three days I've been knocking out 16-18 grand of climbing.

Hopefully, it's still just my mom and sister reading this, because I really do hope to avoid the pre-race hype. I'm writing this mostly to satisfy myself. I can certainly feel how hard I've been working at this, but it's nice to take a moment and put to paper (computer screen, in this case) the training I've put in. Well it sounds good, so let's see how it all plays out in less than 3 weeks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Got Some

I'm giddy watching and listening to Pearl Jam's new song "Got Some". Check it out here and let me know what you think. . Their new album, slated for a fall release, is tentatively titled Backspacer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Does It Get Any Better?

I'm feeling pretty damn good right now. Why? Well my training is going great. I logged another big weekend. I was slightly slower on my Mt. Si repeats Friday morning, but I ran 6 minutes faster on 12 peaks Saturday, and I was able to hammer the SRC group run Sunday morning. Now I'm enjoying a day off, at least off from running. Maybe I squeezed in a 30 minute sauna session with some push-ups and core work, but that's it. Otherwise it was a day of recuperation.

That's all well and good, but why am I in such a great mood. Well, for starters I was treated to dinner at the in-laws this evening. Now that may not sound all that great to some of you out there, but if you had Portuguese family you'd definitely understand. Portuguese food is the best, especially when you've been logging your biggest mileage of the season. Oh so good!

And for me the best part of the day hasn't even happened. If you can believe it, I'm still awake and it's nearly midnight. For those of you who know me, you understand how rare that is. There's really only one thing that would keep me up this late, especially in the midst of peak training. Any guesses? Yep, Pearl Jam is playing on the premiere of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Word is they will be playing songs (yes, plural), so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I can't wait!