Monday, April 18, 2011

Trailrunning Family

Let me start by saying that Paul is a much better runner than he is a race report writer.  I can't capture exactly what his race was to him, but I can paint a picture of just how tough he is.

Rewind a few weeks...unless you are living under a rock in the Ultrarunning world, you know that Lake Sonoma was unfortunately cancelled due to weather.  John and Lisa made the call early enough so that we could cancel all of our reservations.  As Paul laughed about later, this cancellation opened the flood gates to me adding in a few extra races.  Take one out, add three more :)  But, for Paul, he was wanted to run his first 50-miler.  He didn't want to wait until the end of the month, and after all of his marathon pacing he didn't want to run another "marathon" as part of the 50, thus eliminating AR50.  So, we decided to stay local and he got excited to race Hells Hills 50-miler.

Hells Hills is a great race in Smithville.  It has kept the low-key feel of early ultras, while growing and still having all of Joe's first class pieces.  I love the race more than anything because it is one of my favorites to volunteer at.  The trails are on a closed ranch, so it is safe and night running by yourself is not daunting.  Two years ago Jason and I started running at 2AM and then hooked in with the racers at 5.  Last year I used it as a good night run for WS, and spent the night in the woods hanging glowsticks.  This year since I didn't need to be out until the middle of the night, I waited for the sun to set and Flyer and I set off to hang glowsticks.  It was a beautiful night, and just so enjoyable.

After we finished, before midnight, we tucked into the car for sherpa duty the next day.  I woke up with Paul around 4ish and sent him on his way.  Spirits were good, and he had folks to run with.  Our friend, Steven Moore, was running and would hopefully set the pace of experience for Paul. 

Loop 1 - The guys came in about 6 strong, all within a minute.  They looked good and sweaty.  It was not hot outside, but the humidity might take a toll later.  Paul and I had a quick transition and he was off...smiling and with ease.

Loop 2 - Paul comes in from loop 2 and asks how far back he is.  Oops...I never saw another guy, hmmm.  complete failure on the sherpa duty.  I yell some encouragements to Paul, and folks laugh about how strong he looks and that he probably could follow my encouragement to "pick it up."  Steven comes in about 10 minutes later with cramps in his legs.  I hand him a handful of electrolytes that he tries to pick through, but I insist that he take them all.  He gets enough in to rally the third loop and finish strong. 

When Sandi, his wife, comes in from the 25K she tells me that Paul was about 9 min down on the 1st place guy.  I tell her about my not seeing the guy, and not being able to give Paul any info.  We chat and watch racers come in.

The first guy comes in 6:59 and change.  He says that he has been running scared thinking Paul would catch him.  Paul comes in 7:02 and change like he had taken a jog through the, did he make it look easy!  The only downfall of the day was that he set his feet on FIRE, and Asa (Liza's son) had to extinguish the fire.  See her blog for the fireman reference :) 

It was an awesome day with friends, catching up, and watching Paul make it look easy.  Oh, I guess I should rewind just a little bit more to the 130+ bike ride he did the Saturday before...nice taper, huh?

Last if the 50-miler wasn't enough to warrant rest Paul rode 90 mi on Saturday and was going to "run" the Loop 30K trail race.  I am thinking that he will be tired and take it a little easy...I thought I was the race/mileage junkie of the family?  Not so much.  He follows his 50-miler with a win at the 30K.  There was a funny incident of odors and claims of Paul in the woods, but I will leave that story to be told in person.  It would lose it's effect on paper :) 

With all of Paul's trail racing, I was thinking of retiring to solely road running...just to be different in the family.  Just kidding.  Although, I have been enjoying my running crew and they have been dishing out a good beating to me regularly!  It keeps my schedule on target, and keeps me very honest with running hard, vs. slower than I am capable of.  I am so appreciative of them for the early morning company!!

This past weekend I headed out to Hogs Hunt 50K.  It was going to be a good training run for Quicksilver.  I have had two big weeks leading up, so it was going to be easy to keep things at a training pace.  I will start off by saying it was definitely not my finest, but nonetheless I held things together and ran decent.  Here is the quick breakdown:

A couple of things (aka excuses):
- I slept 30 min Friday night
- with the above just felt sleepy and that weird "I haven't slept nausea feeling"
- am NIGHTBLIND...running fast in the dark on trails is HARD!
- don't take your glasses off mid-race. It takes your eyes too long to adjust...again not a great idea on trails.
- don't chase a girl that passes you when she has never run a 50K. Experience is useful in this sport.

I did not run a smart race. I took off and was out of breath trying to focus in the dark, and find my pace. I was happy to hit the jeep road, but didn't settle down. After the first aid station, things didn't improve when I saw a girl not far behind. I just kept pushing the pace. (Larry - I don't know what the heck y'all were running on the jeep road, but my geek-o-meter review ranged from 7:20s-7:46...and y'all were minutes ahead :) )

Fortunately/ unfortunately, the girl caught me about 10 miles into the first loop. She was in from out of town for a wedding, and had never run a 50K. She picks up the pace, and takes off...literally out of sight. In my head I tell myself that she will blow-up, and I should just run my race but it bugs me that she took off and I proceed to pick up the pace and chase, chase, the end of the first loop. Yup, one loop left to go.

I get my lead back after the first loop, but I feel that she is close. Again, I run hard to the first aid station and see her on the turn-around. She is making me work!! I run strong on the jeep road, but am definitely getting tired. I have gone too hard too early, dumbass...I know better.

Now I just have to hang on. I am in good spirits, but definitely slowing. I just have to hope she is too, but won't know until the finish. And, then, I have to go to the restroom...ugg. I get back on the course and this guy I had passed was right in front of me. I ask if she passed and he says no. I plug away, and a few miles later...back in the woods. At this point, again, I don't know if she passed or not. So I push, and convince myself to push to the finish. I catch back up to the same guy, and, again, I am stll in the lead. I still continue to push. I am ready to be done. I had a solid 5 mile close after 6 miles or so of bathroom/tired legs/stupid early running.

My first loop was 2:08 (25K) and my 2nd was 2:18 (with 2 restroom stops)...not great, but I will take it.

The only plus is that since this was a training run/effort I am not sore at all.  And, even though the above "excuses" are out there...they are not actual excuses as they didn't stop or hinder what my body was able to do on raceday.  They are just thoughts I need to work through for the next race!

It has been amazing to share training and racing with Paul (and Flyer).  I feel so fortunate to be able to share so much with him, trade-off sherpa duties, and enjoy the rewards of work eithic and a healthy lifestyle.  I love that we have 7 years of kisses during and after races, and look forward to many more!!

Huge thanks to Olga for the race photos and wonderful chats at the races these past few weeks (I wish there was a pic of the two of us..).  Thanks to Liza for letting us play with Asa - the fireman, and to all of our trail family (Joe, Joyce, etc) for making this journey so much more fun!!



olga said...

I felt like I am just getting to know you, and it's a good feeling:) Paul is really something as an athlete, and I like his "no frill" approach. Like, you could push him to be something more, but he'd loose something bigger. It was great to see you run solid on Saturday, glad I was there! Recover, taper, and on to sunny (and dry air) CA!

Larry said...

Great to see you on the trails, Mer! I think I ran that entire 2nd loop scared, and I was too afraid to look back on the straightaways and see if you were coming. I had already prepared my speech to you to bargain for a run to the finish together, just in case (ala Sunmart). :) I can no longer say I'm not sore, because I am. Of course, my low mileage ways have a way of doing that to me in races. And, if I'm not mistaken didn't you set a new 50k PR? Nice work for a training run 2 weeks out from a race!