Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It’s been a battle over the past two months.

My journey to Western States began back in January 2014 when I decided I was going to run Javelina Jundred in November 2014 as a qualifier for Western States in June 2015. That’s 18 months of training, planning, analyzing, preparation and stress based around one race. But before that I had been running and training for races since 2007. I always had a race on my calendar or something I was looking forward to that had an end to it so I could start another training program afterwards. I don’t have that right now. And it’s weird.

The Post Race Blues have been dubbed Post-Ironman Depression Syndrome by many. You have this date on the calendar that you are looking forward to, and training for, for such a long time and then all of a sudden in one day (or for me 29 hours 17 minutes), it’s all over. You basque in the glory of your success, accept the hugs and high-fives from those around you and are so proud of yourself for your accomplishments and then you realize, you don’t have anything else training wise that you’re looking forward to.

Luckily for me, Joe and I got engaged shortly after Western States so my calendar was once again full of planning and projects. But it’s just not the same as having a race on your calendar and training for it. So I’ve been fighting running since then. I ask myself, “What’s the point?” “Why go run if you don’t have a goal?” “Why do I even care about hitting the trails?”

Today I ran my first 10 mile trail run (2nd run at all since States) and I realized why I care. Why I love this sport so much.
Because I love the sound of the dirt under my feet when my shoes patter down the trail.
Because I love to push my body to another level by forcing myself to run up a hill instead of walk.
Because nature just sounds better when you’re prancing through it.
Because the endorphin rush is like a drug.
Because the people you run into on the trail are so friendly.
Because my trail family is my family.
Because I’m more fit than I’ve ever been in my life.
Because this is an activity I plan to do for years to come.
Because I’m a Western States Endurance Run Finisher and I shouldn’t be depressed about it. I should be damn proud! And I am! 🙂

Joe and I are planning to run the Salmon Falls 50k in February 2016, and possibly do Rim To Rim To Rim in April. We have things to look forward to, we just aren’t training for them yet, but we will eventually. We’re getting there… I just need to remember that sometimes rest and resets are good. Good for the body. Good for the soul. A good way to remember why you love your sport so much. ❤

Thanks for reading. 🙂

Advertisements

Western States. What can I say. It was an adventure to say the least.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, Joe, Carol and I drove up to Squaw with a stop in Donner for some photos and then got groceries in Truckee.

Photo Jun 25, 12 38 44 PMPhoto Jun 25, 12 40 53 PMPhoto Jun 25, 12 39 59 PMPhoto Jun 25, 12 39 37 PMPhoto Jun 25, 12 39 03 PM

We arrived around 2pm to get to the Crew meeting at OVL at 2:30. After the meeting we went by the Western States store to check in with my co-workers and see one of my pacers (Bob). We also stopped by the start line for some of the usual Start Line pics under the countdown timer.

Photo Jun 25, 3 59 16 PMPhoto Jun 25, 3 58 39 PM

Soon after we checked into our condo for the weekend, got situated, ate dinner and watched a little Western Time for inspiration.
Photo Jun 25, 5 14 01 PM (1)

Friday was a big day. Time to check in for the race, attend the pre-race meeting, meet with my team and get mentally prepared for the Big Dance. At 9:30 we headed down to Runner Check-in. There were tons of people around and I ran into several friends who were also running States.

Photo Jun 26, 4 58 49 PMPhoto Jun 29, 4 21 35 AM

After getting all my gear, we headed back to our room to hang out for a little bit and wait for Andy to arrive. At 1:10, Carol and I headed to the pre-race meeting and Joe and Andy went for a hike up the Escarpment. The pre-race meeting is so cool because you are surrounded by the excitement of all the runners and you get to see the Elite Runners who are vying for the top spot this year. So awesome. (GO SALLY!) We also got to chat with Jennifer and Dan (both are training for TRT 100). I ran several of my training runs with them up on the WS course this Spring/Summer and they would be sweeping the first 30 miles at the race the next day.

Photo Jun 26, 2 33 10 PMPhoto Jun 26, 2 33 21 PM

Elite Women
Photo Jun 26, 2 43 01 PM
Elite men
Photo Jun 26, 3 06 03 PM

With Dan and Jennifer.

Carol and I ran by the WS store again to pick up my new Nike Trail Running hat (thanks Jarret!) and snap a quick pick with Bob before we headed back to the condo.

Photo Jun 26, 3 17 15 PM

We relaxed and discussed my race plan, hydration, fueling, potential clothing changes, etc. before the guys got back. Joe made us a delicious pasta dinner and we had our “Meating” with the whole team before heading to bed.

Photo Jun 29, 4 21 51 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 21 47 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 21 55 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 22 05 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 22 12 AM

After about 6 hours of sleep my alarm rang out at 3:30 am on Saturday morning. I got up, made a PB&J sandwich and trigger pointed my calves before I got dressed in my race day outfit. Andy was up and Joe and Carol got up shortly after.

Photo Jun 29, 4 18 35 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 19 14 AM

We headed down to the start to pick up my bib and walk off the race day jitters. Man was I nervous.

Photo Jun 29, 4 18 38 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 18 41 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 18 44 AM

I said goodbye to my crew about 5 minutes before the starting shotgun went off. They headed up the road to hopefully get a pic or two of me as we all marched by up the hill. This moment was really surreal. Nervous energy was all around. I remember looking up at the light blue sky and thinking, “I can do this. I know I can do this.” I thought of a line Sally McRae had said in her Western Time movie… “I want to race with endurance that is strong and passionate, but also patient and wise.” This had been my mantra through training and little did I know it would be my mantra ALL DAY LONG.

Before I knew it the “10…9…8…7…” countdown began. Everyone yelled the numbers… “6…5…4…3…2…1!” And we were off.

Luckily I did see Joe and Carol on my way up the hill and they snapped some quick picks of me as I headed out. I would see them in 30 miles at Robinson Flat.

Photo Jun 29, 4 18 51 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 19 01 AMPhoto Jul 02, 6 47 36 AM

Let me start by saying that Elevation and I are not friends. I have sports induced asthma and it wreaks havoc on me at high altitudes which is what the first 30 miles would be. I underestimated the altitude as I hadn’t spent any substantial periods of time at altitude in my training. The first 3.2 miles are uphill. Like straight uphill. 3,000 feet of elevation uphill heading up the Escarpment.

I did look forward to seeing some familiar faces when I reached the top. Our WS Store crew (Diane, Annie, Ellisa and Bob) would be at the Escarpment waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting to see Brad Doyle up there, but he was and man was he a sight for sore eyes! 🙂


Photo Jun 29, 4 18 00 AM
(pic credit: Brad Doyle)

I hit the top and my silly friend Ellisa was there waiting wearing her Unicorn hat and entertaining all the participants. She got these amazing shots of me coming over the top of the escarpment too!

Photo Jun 28, 6 37 08 PMPhoto Jun 28, 6 37 10 PM (1)Photo Jun 28, 6 37 13 PMPhoto Jun 28, 6 37 16 PM

It took me 1:18 to get to the top and there was no time to take a breather once I got up there either. I asked Ellisa where the rest of our co-workers were and she let me know they were down the other side of the hill. That’s where I ran into the three of them. Diane snapped this pic as I jogged by, enjoying the downhill, finally.

Photo Jun 29, 4 16 44 AM
(
pic credit: Diane Forrest)

The next several miles were tough. The terrain was rolling, nothing too hard to climb, but the elevation was brutal. I also found myself drinking a lot more than I thought I would in those first miles. This year they did away with the Escarpment aid station so we had a total of 10.5 miles to run until we got to Lyon’s Ridge (the first aid station). I worked hard to ration my water and stay fueled, but at elevation even that can be hard to do so it was a battle to say the least. I ended up running part of the first section with Gordy Ainsley (the first person to run Western States) and we had some good chatter. (He told me that he loved to watch my shoulders run away, and mostly that they weren’t covered in tattoos. haha)

I made it to Lyon’s Ridge in just under 3 hours. I filled my bottles wetted my cooling equipment, grabbed a snack and some coke and headed out to Red Star Ridge. The next several miles were pretty warm. Even though it was only 5.5 miles to the next aid station I was already behind on my hydration so I drank both of my bottles before I hit Red Star.  

    
    
   
I made it in there at 9:37 am, 23 minutes before the cutoff. I iced down everything, filled my bottles, grabbed some more snacks and walked out of the aid station.  

   
The next station on my way to my crew was Duncan Canyon, about 7 miles away. My friend Rich who ran Javelina with me in 2014 was working this aid station so at least I had a smiling face to look forward to.

I came into Duncan Canyon at 11:48 am, only 12 minutes before the cutoff. Rich rushed me through the check in point after our usual on course hug and I was wisked into a frenzy of soda, ice, water bottles, snacks etc. This aid station was a well-oiled machine! The announcer even mentioned that the 7 people helping me were like a Nascar Pit Crew. I left the aid station a few minutes later with a handful of pretzels and a smile. At this point I knew it was going to be a long day of fighting to make the cutoffs, which is not something I planned to do for this race.

I headed down into Duncan Canyon and out of the high elevation and felt 10 times better than I had. I ran into our Fleet Feet coach Joe Sellner on the course (he was on safety patrol) and ran/walked with him for a bit.

Photo Jun 28, 7 47 50 PM

We made it through the creek in Duncan Canyon and I started the long trek up to the top of Robinson Flat. That climb was a bear. There were runners dropping like flies all around me. Some getting sick, some sitting down, it made me worried that I might not make it up to the top in time. I ran into Paul Berquam who told me the aid station was just ahead and I was going to make it.

Photo Jun 30, 1 51 46 AM
(
pic credit: Paul Berquam)

Then I did. I came out of the woods and saw Andy standing there. I had made it to him at 1:40 pm, 10 minutes before the cut off. He ran me in to the check in station and I clocked in at 1:43 pm. I had 7 minutes to get out of the aid station. I grabbed some snacks, got iced down, filled my bottles and ran to my crew. Carol switched my hat and gave me fuel, Joe and Andy gave me a coke and filled my skratch and I was off, out of the aid station at 1:45 pm.

The next walk was one of the toughest since I started. I made it a little ways before I ran into John Trent, WSER President. Mr. Trent was coming down into Robinson Flat as I was hiking out. He looked at me and smiling said, “You can still make it to Miller’s Defeat!” I asked him when the cutoff was and how far. He told me 3 pm and 4.4 miles. At this point it was 1:55 and that sounded impossible. But I kept marching up the hill and decided I would give it everything I had to get there. At the top I started running the downhills. I ended up passing several people and just kept pushing myself to run faster. I was chasing down “Cook Tim” as I call him (he makes the delicious post-race soup at Way Too Cool and AR50). He was cruising to make the next cutoff and I was determined to catch him. I passed him and the woman he was running with just before the trail ran into the fire road. It continued uphill for a bit then it was downhill or flat to Miller’s Defeat. I decided to run that part as fast as I could. Hitting 10:30 pace over the top I had hope that I would make it to the station before the cutoff. When I came to the spot where I thought the aid station would be, it wasn’t there. I literally stopped in the road and looked around. I walked about 5 steps further and saw the blue tents around the corner about 200 yards away. I started sprinting at this point, running 8:30 pace to the aid station. Within 30 yards I started yelling “did I make it? Did I make the cutoff?!?” The aid station timer told me I did but to get through now. I ran in, “126 in!” They yelled, “you have 2 minutes to get your stuff and get out!” I had a full bottle of water on me still and only 3.5 miles to the next aid station so I yelled back, “I don’t need anything… 126 out!” and ran out the other side of the aid station. The volunteers screamed and cheered as I shot out the other side saying, “Now that’s the way you do it!!” Once I was clear of the aid station I walked and a volunteer ran up next to me and said, “you have 3.5 miles to the next aid station, you’re doing great, keep it up!”

I smiled and said thank you then kept walking. That was the first moment I had clarity of what I was doing out there that day. This was a day to prove to myself that I could do it. That I would leave EVERYTHING on that course whether I got pulled or not. I knew there was NO way I would quit, but the cutoffs were tight. I went into every aid station thinking, I don’t know if I will make the cutoff, but I will go in knowing I left EVERYTHING in that section of the course that I could. I also reminded myself that telling people I had dropped or been pulled is not what I came here to do. I came here to finish this race and walk away with a buckle.

I continued on and was caught by 4 other runners who had barely made the cut off too (Cook Tim being one of them). And we all ran together, motivating each other and pushing to make the next cut off. The next aid station was Dusty Corners at Mile 38. We had 1:10 to get there. Totally doable even if we all walked, but we kept running and puttering along to start building a bit of a cushion. I came over the last hill into Dusty Corners and who was standing there, but my CREW!!! OH MY GOSH! The first thing I yelled at Carol was “What are you doing here???” She told me they were worried I wouldn’t have a head lamp since I was way behind my projected pace so they came to Dusty Corners after Robinson Flat. Now, anyone who has crewed States knows that Dusty Corners is NOT easy to get to from Robinson Flat. But they did it. Go team!!! There were tons of familiar faces at Dusty Corners, SacFIT friends and Mike R. filled up my bottles for me. It was awesome!

   
   
I arrived there at 3:54 pm with 16 minutes to the cut off. I left the aid station around 4:05 pm after getting food, cooling down and taking a porta-potty break. Before I left I asked Joe to find my first pacer (Brad) in Foresthill and ask him to meet me in Michigan Bluff instead so I wouldn’t have to run in the dark alone. I headed to Last Chance with 5.3 miles to go by 5:30 pm (1:25 to get there). It was easily doable if I kept moving. This is where I started walking some. I had kicked my butt pretty good trying to catch up and needed a little break to get through everything and still have gas in the tank. I walked some sections but kept an eye on my time and pace. My shins started getting sore (this happened at Javelina from walking too much when I got injured) so I knew I had to pick up my running a bit more.

I came into Last Chance somewhere around 5:15 pm. I was in, made another bathroom stop, got my bottles filled and iced myself down because next I would face the climb to Devil’s Thumb. 1,000 feet climb in 2 miles with 50+ switchbacks. It’s a beast but doable. I took off down the hill and switchbacks and when I hit swinging bridge my watch read 13:03. Holy heck, I only had 57 minutes to climb up to the Devil’s Thumb aid station and I was 40+ miles in. I had done it in :55 minutes in training so it was doable. I knew I had no choice but to leave it ALL out there section. So I turned on the Linda Porter Granny Gear and did. I hit the start of last two big switchbacks and heard the 10 minute horn go off so I booked it up to the top and arrived at 6:54 pm. Yeah, I did it in :51 minutes! WOW! I got in and out of the aid station fast with a goody bag of fruit, my head lamp and a coke in tow.

About .25 miles down the trail I saw Ken Press (my SacFIT coach) walking towards me. Man was I happy to see someone I knew at this point! Ken had come up to The Pump to find me and reassured me that I had just made the toughest cutoff and I was on my way to the easier part of the course now. We walked together for a bit and then he left me to head towards Deadwood Cemetery and down to El Dorado Creek. I started running the downhills and flats and cruised all the way down to the creek. I arrived there at 8:22 pm. The cutoff was 9:45 pm which is the same time as the cutoff at Michigan Bluff so I didn’t have too much time. I knew that from EDC to MB it would take me about 1:10 so I had to get out of there in the next 10 minutes to make it in time. I had some coke, soup and iced down one more time before turning on my headlamp and hitting the trail.

About .10 miles from the top of the climb out of EDC I saw two lights coming towards me (headlamp and waist lamp)… then I heard my pacer Brad say, “Well hello there!” I remember saying, “I’m so glad to see you!!!” He actually told me today that I asked, “Brad, am I gonna make it?” several times and he assured me I would. We arrived in Michigan Bluff at 9:30 pm (I ran in by the way. My goal was to have legs left in Michigan Bluff and Foresthill so I could run the night sections with Brad and Bob and I was excited that I did). I got my good headlamp and knuckle lights, fueled, a dry hat, soup and took off with Brad. We were out of the aid station 4 minutes before the 9:45 pm cut off.

Photo Jun 27, 9 31 42 PMPhoto Jun 27, 9 34 34 PM
(pic credit: Carol Falter)

Brad and I walked and snacked for a while. We had until 11:45 pm to get out of Foresthill but didn’t want to cut it too close so we ran what we needed to and Brad kept me going really well. We cruised through the top of the hills and headed down into Volcano Canyon. The climb out was pretty easy and we passed a few runners. I was just excited to get to the bottom of Bath Road because I knew Joe, Carol and Andy would be there. When I got there was greeted by Scott and Dave also!!! Yay! An entourage! We all hiked up Bath Road together and when we hit the top Brad led us down Foresthill Road to the Foresthill aid station at an easy jog.

We arrived in Foresthill at 11:21 pm with smiles on our faces! I got to hug Erik and Diane when I got there. After getting snacks, a long sleeve (I never used it by the way), fuel and hydration, we were out of there at 11:24 pm. Brad and I took off on our favorite (insert sarcasm here) part of the trail. We do love it, but he had just run the Canyons 100K out there and knew how difficult it could be in the dark. The next aid station was a Cal-1 (Dardanelles). We arrived a ways ahead of the cutoff, had some soup, coke and ginger ale and headed out.

Cal-2 (Peachstone) was up next after a few climbs and the elevator shaft drop down. Man was that fun in the dark… joking. This part of the course is where I started getting really tired. It’s after 1 in the morning, it’s time for me to be in bed, I’m hallucinating people climbing the cliffs around us… what fun. We arrived at Cal-2 at 2 am with the cutoff being 2:30 am. We were making great time and building a cushion. This was our goal for these parts of the course. I had some more snacks, soup, coke (I love coke during ultras) and took off. The next section of the course went by fast. 1 – because I was exhausted and 2 – because Cal-3 was run by Fleet Feet Sacramento, which meant Brad and I got to see about 15 of our friends!! WOOHOO!!

We came down the last hills into Cal-3 (Ford’s Bar) at about 3 am. When the team realized it was us, they started screaming and it was pandemonium. When I got there, they got me whatever food I wanted, they all asked how I was feeling and even took selfies with us! What a fun crowd. It was definitely an uplifting part of the night going into the last 5 miles before Rucky Chucky river crossing.

Photo Jun 29, 4 12 04 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 12 08 AMPhoto Jun 29, 4 11 56 AM
(pic credit: Jeremy Donati)

We left the aid station within a few minutes and headed off towards the river. I hallucinated some more (tree stumps I thought were bears, weird sounds,etc), ran what I could (we were cruising at about a 14-16 pace) and ate and drank plenty. We arrived at Rucky Chucky river crossing at 4:19 am. I took another potty break, grabbed more coke and we headed down to the River. The route down to the river is some rock steps that are 10-12 inches high. Now let me say that after 78 miles, these stairs are like death. So a few steps in I started teasing/yelling at the folks at the river asking them who put those there when I was 78 miles into a 100 mile race, really? Dang. Brad and I got to the river, we were outfitted with our PFDs and headed across. The team on the near side started yelling “Laura is coming across!” That’s when I heard it… Bob. He yelled back that he was there waiting! “Yay!” I screamed, “I’m coming Bob! I’m here!” Afterwards Bob told me that he knew things would be fine when he heard my voice on the other side of the river. He knew that I was way too upbeat to not finish this.

   
    
 We got my drop bag and I dried off then we started the hike up to Green Gate. We met my crew about 200 yards up the road. Once we got to Green Gate (checked in at 5 am, 30 mins ahead of the cutoff) I put some tiger balm on my shins (they were SCREAMING by then) packed more food, filled my bottles and Bob and I were off. We knew that we had 6 hours to finish this thing and get me a buckle. I asked Bob if I was going to make it and he said yes, but that I would have to work for it. So I did.

Our first aid station was ALT. We ran to get there. Bob pushed me to run faster than I thought possible at 80 miles into a 100 miler. We were running around 11-13 minute pace on the flats and downs. And averaging 14-15 minute pace with the hills. I never expected that I could run that fast though anything at that point. Bob really believed in me and knew I could do it. At that point in the race I had to make the choice to believe in myself. And I did. I told myself to leave it all out there. That I had saved enough legs to finish the race but I had to make myself do it. We arrived in the ALT aid station at 6:29 am with the cutoff being 7 am. Lisa from work was there with her husband Scott and got some pics of us coming through. We jetted out of that aid station with soup, coke, full bottles and some snacks. On to Brown’s Bar! 

   
  

Photo Jun 28, 3 33 43 PM
(pic credit: Lisa Morgan)

The next section we ran the same paces, 11-13 minutes with a 14-15 average including hills. It wasn’t easy but I kept fighting for it because I wanted the buckle so bad. At this point I told Bob that it would hurt so much more to not hold the buckle in my hands, than to go through all the pain I was facing over the next 15 miles. We ran our hearts out all the way to Brown’s Bar arriving at 7:35 am (the cut off was 9:20 am). We got in and out of that aid station quick and booked it down to Quarry Rd. There we walked for a short bit and then ran almost all the way to the start of the climb up to Highway 49.

When we got to the climb up to Highway 49 I finally cried. I was so tired and pushing so hard and Bob was motivating me so much but I was just exhausted from everything. He told me to just keep going and that I was doing a great job. He assured me that if I kept moving I would get a buckle. When we got close to Highway 49 I could tell Bob was getting really excited! He kept urging me on and telling me how exciting it was. We were only 7 miles from the finish! And it was only 8:33 am! That meant we had just under 2.5 hours to go 7 miles. WOOHOO! WE HAD DONE IT!

Photo Jun 28, 8 36 43 AMPhoto Jun 28, 8 36 51 AM
(pic credit: Jenny Matchell, she took pics other computer screen and the live feed during the race, that’s me in orange and Bob in green)

We were out of the Highway 49 aid station in 3 minutes (at 8:36 am) after I changed my shirt, dropped my pack and one of my bottles, had some soup and headed up the hill. We ran through the meadow and down the “roller coaster” section of the trail all the way to No Hands Bridge. We made it to No Hands and had 1.5 hours left to go 3 miles. That was it. 3 miles in 1.5 hours. We had done it for real. I ran across half of the bridge solo while Bob got water. I started walking and Bob caught up with me. I looked at him and said, “Bob, can I walk now?” He smiled and me and said, “Yes, you can walk. We have 1.5 hours to go 3 miles. You’ve earned the walk.” I laughed and said, “Thank God!” I was so happy to walk.

We approached Robie Point and Ken Press was there to greet us on the lower road. As we headed up Scott Saunders was coming down to greet us. The 4 of us hiked up to Robie together. Scott shared his water (thank you Scott!) and we hiked all the way up to Robie where a volunteer filled my bottle. Kirk from Fleet Feet Fair Oaks/Roseville came walking down and gave me a hug.

Photo Jun 30, 1 46 30 AMPhoto Jun 30, 1 46 34 AM
(pic credit: Paul Berquam)

When I got to the top there were tons of people. My crew was there, so were Jennifer and Dan, along with Karyn and the Fulton’s. Sarah Solari, Matt, Joe and Giana were there too. My first pacer Brad came down to run me in too. Not sure if he had even slept yet!

Photo Jun 28, 9 59 12 AMPhoto Jun 28, 9 59 25 AMPhoto Jun 28, 6 12 18 PMPhoto Jun 30, 1 46 49 AMPhoto Jun 30, 1 46 37 AM
(pic credits: Paul Berquam, Sarah Solari, Carol Falter)

I got up the road a little ways and saw a few more folks I know. Jeannie was the best, she came screaming down the road yelling at me. She was so proud! Then I saw Mo. She came around a corner and I think I scared her because she started screaming. She had seen how much I struggled out there and kept telling my crew to get me moving and that I had to dig deep. I think she was as surprised to see me finishing as I was! haha.

Photo Jun 28, 2 41 20 PMPhoto Jun 28, 2 41 23 PMPhoto Jun 28, 2 41 25 PMPhoto Jun 28, 2 41 27 PM

Photo Jun 28, 2 41 29 PMPhoto Jun 28, 2 41 32 PM
(pic credit: Ellisa Capraro)

As you can see, the group kept growing, Sarah Tyson, Linda Porter (the granny gear herself) and Dave Lent jumped in among others. As I came around the corner here I saw a guy and kid standing in the street. I though they were a friend of Andy’s and mine. Then I took another look and realized, it was my boss Dusty and his son Caleb. I started screaming and running down the hill at him yelling, “Dusty, I did it! I did it!” He gave me a huge hug and they joined my victory parade.

Photo Jun 28, 10 15 51 AM
(pic credit: Joe Chancellor)

I came through the gate at the stadium with a group of amazing friends in tow. It was the best victory lap ever! I saw the Rougeux’s, Andrea, Jamie, Candie, Angie and Scott, Cyndi, Annie, Cody joined in earlier, I saw SacFIT members and even store customers who knew me from Fleet Feet.

Photo Jun 28, 3 22 17 PMPhoto Jun 28, 3 22 10 PMPhoto Jun 28, 3 22 24 PMPhoto Jun 28, 3 22 21 PMPhoto Jun 28, 3 22 13 PM
(pic credit: Angie/Scott Stuart)
Photo Jun 29, 6 08 08 PMPhoto Jun 29, 6 08 11 PM
Photo Jun 29, 6 08 14 PM
(pic credit: can’t remember!)

The next thing I knew, Mo was telling me to go and I was running down the chute by myself. I was trotting down there like I had not run a step in the past day. I felt like I was on a cloud. It was the most amazing feeling. And I had done it. I had run the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and finished in 29:17:36. Wow. I can officially say I am a Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Finisher. Wow!

Photo Jun 28, 11 21 22 AMPhoto Jun 28, 11 21 38 AM
(pic credit: Ron Caluza)
Photo Jun 28, 2 41 43 PM
(pic credit: Ellisa)

Photo Jun 28, 3 22 31 PM
(pic credit: Kathleen Rougeux)

            
Scroll to the bottom for more post race pics. 🙂

After I finished, I completed my work for the medical study and got to say hi to my family and friends. I ate some pancakes and headed over to the buckle ceremony. Such a cool experience to be sitting around with so many amazing athletes. Thank you Paul for getting some pics of me getting my buckle. 🙂

Photo Jun 30, 1 47 53 AMPhoto Jun 30, 1 47 58 AM

Wow. I did it. I still can’t believe it. What an incredible experience.

RACE STATS

Now if you ask anyone how hard this race is, they will tell you it’s hard. Super hard. It’s elevation, canyon climbing, ups, downs, river crossings, heat and sometimes snow and ice along with a lot of mental focus and determination. Lots of things and factors that make it one of the hardest 100 milers in the nation. What most don’t know is how hard it is to make the cutoffs when you are a back of the pack runner. Joe loves numbers so he started doing some analysis of my stats this year. He found that up until mile 85, I was way behind the 30 hour pace for the race. The whole time. I was making cut offs but had to really gut out the last portion so I could make the 30 hour time limit.
cutoff
You can see how far behind the 30 hour pace I was for a majority of the race. I was barely making the cutoffs and hanging on to participation by the skin of my teeth. I never realized how close I was to being pulled while I was out there. Joe also looked at the female finish times for athletes in past years and said he couldn’t find any time where a female came into Robinson Flat as close to the cutoff as I did, and still finished the race. Whoa.
cutoff2


Pairs of shoes worn: 1
Pairs of socks worn: 1
Changes of clothes: 1 tank top besides start outfit
Packs: 1
Handhelds: 2
Garmin 920XT watches: 2
Naps: none
Cans of Pepsi/Coke: at least 8
Cups of soup: 10ish
GUs: a lot
Skratch Electrolyte: 15 bottles
SCaps: 10
Endurolytes: 20
Smiles: countless

THANK YOUS

There are so many people to thank when you go through something like this. So many folks who helped you and so many who supported you in many ways.

Photo Jun 28, 6 12 33 PM
To my crew, Joe, Carol and Andy. I couldn’t have done any of this without your support, encouragement and humor. Thank you for working like a Nascar Pit Crew at the aid stations and having me in and out in minutes. You were spectacular and I’m so glad you were with me.
Photo Jun 28, 10 22 49 AM
To my pacers Brad and Bob. Pacing is a tough job. You spend hours and hours with a cranky, tired runner and you still keep a smile on your face. Brad, thank you for pushing me to keep going, respecting my need to walk, and escorting me across the freezing river. You were awesome. Bob, thank you for believing in me for those last 20 miles. You told me I could do it because you knew I could. You pushed me harder than I ever would have pushed myself and got me to that buckle. I am so thankful for your determination, positivity and friendship. You’re both amazing. Thank you isn’t a big enough word to say to you.
IMG_2243
To my coach Mo Bartley. You believed in me from the beginning. Even when training was hard you taught me that I could dig deep, push through and achieve this goal. All the hard training runs and repetitions on the course made the race go by smooth. You’re a wonderful coach and friend. Love you girl!
Photo Jun 28, 11 26 53 AMPhoto Jun 28, 6 12 24 PM
To the love of my life, Joe Chancellor. I would not be where I am without you. You’re the most supportive man I know and a true blessing in my world. You saw me through so many tough weeks of training, so much whining, planning, organizing and stressing over this race. And in the process you also helped me move and sell my house. WOOT! You made sure that you did everything you could to get me to the finish. You are a bright light in my life and I look forward to a lifetime of happiness with you by my side. I love you.

Photo Jun 28, 4 20 00 PM
Kelly, thank you for the flowers and Birthday Cake Oreo’s. Having you there was so special to me. It’s been a long time (7 years right?) and a lot of trail miles, but we made it to here!! Your turn is next!!

I got to work on Tuesday, fully ready to purchase my pink Brooks finishers jacket. Then I was given the jacket as a gift from Pat and Jan Sweeney. Thanks guys! I’ve worn it proudly a few times now! 🙂
Photo Jun 30, 9 18 12 AM
That’s right. Buckle, jacket and boot (just a strained shin, don’t worry). Western States Finisher outfit. 🙂
Photo Jun 28, 3 14 47 PM
(pic credit: Staci Robinson) With Dusty, Caleb and Bode Robinson post race.
Photo Jun 28, 3 14 58 PM
(pic credit: Ron Chancellor) I was getting a massage as part of the medical study I volunteered for – it hurt BAD.
(All pics below pic credit: Staci Robinson)

IMG_2155 IMG_2156
Coming into the finish. Arms up!
IMG_2189
Showing off my medal
IMG_2197
Hugged Andrea first. She and I ran and trained for Javelina together. What a cry fest for both of us! 🙂
IMG_2209
Hugging Annie. She’s such a great supporter!
IMG_2219
Hugs from Dusty. 🙂
IMG_2223
High fives from Caleb
IMG_2229
Hugs from Bob
IMG_2237
Of course hugs from Joe. ❤
IMG_2241
Hugs from Brad

IMG_2246
Hugs from Ellisa (Patronus!)
IMG_2247
Hugs from Amanda (now get to work girls!)
IMG_2252
Hugs from Diane.
IMG_2270
Hugs from Sandy and John (and Andi!). Thanks for coming out!
IMG_2260
Andy updating Andi, Mom and Dad on the craziness of the race.
IMG_2258
My support network.
IMG_2266
Hanging with Caleb post-race.
IMG_2263
Hugs from Staci.
IMG_2264
Hugs from Brad.

Here are links to videos of me finishing the race:
Full finish – low resolution
Coming into the stadium
Rounding the track
The final stretch
Finishing video from WSER Facebook page
Finishing video from SacFIT Facebook page

I can’t say I will ever run Western States again, but I have a feeling this may not be my last 100 miler. Ok… not anytime soon, and maybe just 50 milers now, but there’s always a chance. For now I’m enjoying NOT running, relaxing, cleaning our house, spending time with Joe and looking forward to the next year of fun and excitement.
Thanks for reading! xoxo

You all know I’m religious to an extent, raised Catholic in a Portuguese/Dutch family full of people who are hard headed and sturdy in their faith. I’ve always believed in God, but until my world changed drastically two years ago, I didn’t know if God was really listening. I know now that he is listening. He is listening loud and clear and keeps sending me the signs that I am on the correct path and headed right where he intends me to be.

I’m 19 days out from the Way Too Cool 50K (31 miles) on March 8, 2014. This is one of my favorite races, beautiful course, awesome volunteers and an overall amazing experience. I can’t wait to go out there and try to PR on this course after my 7:07 finish last year (hoping to break 7 hours this year). Yesterday was our 23 mile run in preparation for the race. I was running “solo” without two of my awesome running partners for the first time in a long time. I was a bit apprehensive about it but decided that I would just go for it and leave it all out on the course. So I started and the first 2 miles were AMAZING! I was flying down “roller coaster” feeling amazing, until the side cramp hit. What? What is this? I walked for a bit, stretched, drank a bunch of water, took some more electrolytes and tried to get moving again, but I couldn’t run the downhills. I was in so much pain in my deep abdominal muscles that I couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t let up. Being a massage therapist, I started doing some therapy on myself to try and loosen it up so I wouldn’t hurt so bad and could get running. No dice. It wouldn’t work. I could only run the flats and uphills but not the downs because you engage your abs so much. I spent the next 16 miles trying to get my abdominals right. It was very frustrating and painful as my entire body was tensing up due to the pain and discomfort I was fighting. Even in the pain I was only moving at about 2 minutes slower than I normally do so it could have been much worse.

Finally around mile 16 I got relief. Something had worked right, pressure point/massage work, food, water, who knows but it got better and I could kick it into high gear. This is also when I first saw the clouds part, the sun come out and felt the warmth on my face. I stopped, let out a sigh of relief and turned my face to the sky for a moment to just take in the beauty around me and feel the warmth of the sun. God was there with me as He had been in the whole run, but he was calming my fears, relaxing my emotions and reminding me that things happen for a reason. I can’t have amazing running experiences all the time, you have to have some bad ones to make you appreciate the good ones. The remaining 5 miles of the run were wonderful. I did have a bit of discomfort in my abdominals because they were so exhausted from fighting the true pain I was in earlier in the day, but I was able to finish at my normal pace and only 11 minutes off my goal time for the workout.

God works in mysterious ways. He challenges us with situations we think are right but shows us the way when they are not. He puts people in our life who make us happy and help us realize our true selves and keeps us on a path to where we should be. Two years ago my life was on a different path entirely and I can say that now my life is EXACTLY where it should be. 2014 is turning out to be my best year. I’m blessed with friends, family, co-workers and a dual-career I love so much. I’m also meeting new people left and right who are making my life more magical than I ever expected they could. Years ago I was a giving, loving, caring woman who put those around her first. Two years ago after some drastic changes in my life, I became very jaded and put myself before everyone else. I wanted to be selfish, so I was. That was never me, however, it was just my coping mechanism for all I had gone through. But, I have missed the old me and when 2014 started, I knew I was on the path back there. Then on my birthday God put someone in my life who has made me realize that I still am the giving, loving, caring woman I have always been, I just had to come back out into the world. This person in particular has brought me back to the woman I was years and years ago. He makes me realize I can give everything I have and be so happy when I do. I tell him every day how amazing he is and constantly thank him for changing my life for the better. Thank you MW.

God’s classroom of silence is ever welcoming to those who will listen. I’m putting my faith in God these days with running, relationships and life in general. With all the goodness in my life right now, he obviously knows what he is doing. 19 days from Way Too Cool. I’m ready. Bring it.

Eating Right

As most of you know, I’m an ultra marathon runner and this year have tasked myself with running another 50K (31 miles), another 50 miler and my first 100K (62 miles). In an effort to achieve this goal, I’ve taken to adjusting my diet to help me lose 10-15 lbs. I know, I know… “Laura, you don’t need to lose any weight!” I know. But for the muscle to weight ratio, and to run faster this year, I need to drop a few lbs. I think I look fine, but I want to be faster and hard work will get me there.

My boss and I had a conversation about weight loss right after the first of the year. He told me about how sugar is playing an awful role in our diets and how processed food is doing the same. I’m also reading the book Racing Weight and it talks a lot about eating more whole foods and not eating processed food. So, I took it upon myself to give up these items.

Now, my diet has been a bit modified, I still eat some condiments (ketchup with a hamburger patty, soy sauce on some rice, low fat mayo on my tuna fish) but I have cut out almost all sugar that is not natural goodness for me. I’ve done really well since I started cutting these items. I have cheated a couple of times (3 peppermint candies the other day, a mint one day at work) but mostly have maintained. 

Today was not one of those days. I kind of fell apart. It started with having Starbucks this morning with a co-worker. I went for it and had my usual soy white mocha. Yeah, not good. I was great at work all day, then I went grocery shopping. Yeah. Bad idea when you are hungry. I purchased a one serving bag of Pirate’s Booty (I ate it on the way home – no sugar in that so a small cheat) and Easy Mac. Yes, Easy Mac. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. 

You know what I realized when I was eating it though? It’s full of sugar, I knew that because I looked at the label before I dug in, but even more than knowing about it, I could TASTE the sweetness in the Easy Mac. It was like eating salt after cutting salt out of your diet… super salty… super sugary. Weird. I enjoyed it but not as much as I thought I would. And the worst part… I’m still hungry. Ugh.

But, I am down 2 lbs total at this point and hope to continue on that path as Ultra Marathon training continues. More miles, more hard work, more training. But less sugar. It’s making me feel good and healthy. I haven’t felt this good physically in a while. 🙂 #trainhardrunharder

For the past few days I’ve been a bit quiet and annoyed (not like me at all). It has been almost a year since my ex-fiancé called off our engagement. While I know it was absolutely the right thing and I’m so glad we are both on different paths, the anniversary and pain associated with it still hangs in my memory. My mom told me the other day that some anniversaries are so bad we just want to stay in bed. True.

And now I find myself working in my favorite industry and surrounded by the last event he and I attended in public… Which has been a consistent reminder that I wasn’t expecting to bother me so much. Regardless I have to keep moving forward. Friday morning I received the following quote from my mom on Facebook and was automatically so glad that she is good with words…

“Today I applaud you for taking time to step away from the busyness of your career goals, put on your running shoes and embark on the trails. In doing so you enter the world of our creator and His classroom of silence.”

I am so blessed to do what I love in my career and life, and be able to run where I do. We are in a beautiful, amazing area here in Sacramento and I’m trying to enjoy every part of my AR50 training with grace and thanks. Regardless of what happens in our lives, we should look at the bright side… Things could always be worse than they are… And He will never give us more than we can handle. God works in mysterious ways but each day the sun comes up, the earth comes to life and we move on to bigger and better things. And at that, my life is pretty darn amazing. 🙂

#trainhardrunharder

#trainhardrunharder

It’s been a year since I last posted. I ran my first 50 mile race in April. It was amazing and magical. I’m so proud of myself for what I did. This year I’ve set the goal to qualify for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run at AR50. I have to cut down my overall time by 1:26 and run a sub-11 hour 50 miler to qualify, but I’m already running stronger than I was at this time last year training for NYC.

My training for AR50 has already started. I’m up to 18+ miles and have been getting in all my speed work. I’m also reading and abiding by the guidelines in the book Racing Weight as dropping 15 lbs will increase my speed by 1:45 per mile. That’s HUGE! Not that I need to lose it physique wise, but speed wise, yes.

It’s going to be a tough road but I am so up for the challenge. I feel at home on the trails. All is right in the world and I’m living my life. 186 days til AR50. 🙂

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Some people don’t understand why we run. They don’t see the point behind training for months and months for a race that lasts some 5ish hours. They don’t understand the pain we put our bodies through or our need for the “runners high”, but that’s ok. I don’t expect anyone to understand what I do and why I do it after the weekend I just had in New York City.

The 2012 NYC Marathon was cancelled this year after much debate and controversy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. At first I was very sad to hear this, but then my friend Megan and I decided we would just keep our NYC flights and hotel and head to the city for a girls weekend. Little did I know this weekend would change my view of running into an even deeper appreciation for the athletes we are.

My friend Aaron, who I met while acting as a 2012 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, was set to run his first full marathon in NYC. After finding out the race was cancelled, he asked me if I wanted to join him in lapping Central Park as he knew the loop was approximately 6 miles so we could do it in a little over 4 laps. I thought about it before I left for NYC and decided that since I was going anyway I would pack my running clothes and accessories just incase I decided to go for it. After visiting the Expo and talking to Bart Yasso I knew I had to go run it. He told me that several people had come by the Runner’s World booth and told him they were going to do the same. I figured that I had nothing to lose because I could run and if I needed to stop I would.

On Sunday, November 4, 2012 I woke up around 6, got dressed and started munching on a bagel. Megan had planned to bring water to us at the halfway point of our run so we ironed out those details and I took off about 6:30 to run down to the park (1 mile from our hotel). When I got to Columbus Circle I saw about 30 other runners milling about. I was happy to see that some other runners showed up. I had checked the ING NYC Marathon Facebook page and had seen that some runners were meeting at 7, 8, 9 and even 10 a.m. to get in a run on the day of the marathon so I figured I’d run into some fellow marathoners. Aaron showed up a few minutes after I did and we were off right at 7 a.m. from Columbus Circle which was about .3 miles from the actual finish line of the marathon which was still set up from preparations earlier in the week.

Now I NEVER expected to see what I saw for the next 5.5 hours, EVER. As we started running, we came across many runners. Some wearing their race bibs, some in their race shirts, some ran carrying bottles of water and some were fully decked out in their race gear (hydration belts, etc.). As we continued through the first 3 or so miles of the unofficial marathon, more and more runners were showing up. We came across runners lapping the park in the other direction, most said hi or we said hi and we kept right on going knowing that we were all out there for the same reason.

Image

It was when we reached approximately mile 4 on the West side of the park that I realized this was MUCH bigger than I could have ever anticipated. We came across a HUGE group of runners, probably 50+, running in the opposite direction. They were cheering, yelling, laughing, talking and all excited about the “marathon” we were all running together. That was the moment I realized this was way bigger than I thought it would be.

Image

As we came closer to the 5.5 mile mark the park got louder and louder. Over the last hill we saw the finish line and there were people EVERYWHERE.Image

Image

The runners had showed up in mass to run their own marathons even though there was no organized race happening that day. We wove through the crowds of runners, snapping photos, hugging their friends, chanting their country’s names and continued on our second lap of the park. At this point even more runners started showing up. We were to the point where we were running with tons of people. It really felt like a marathon where you are surrounded by your fellow marathoners the whole way.

Image

At the end of lap two the crowds at the finish had gotten even bigger and the stands were filling with supporters.

Image

Image

Image

Aaron and I met Megan at Columbus Circle to refill our water and decided to make a quick one mile out and back so our finish would be at the real marathon finish in Central Park, then we reversed our lap direction weaving back through the runners all over the finish area. The only thing I can say about this lap is that it just kept getting better! More and more runners came out, more and more fans came out with cowbells, whistles, signs, gear check areas, even make-shift water stations! It was AMAZING!

We saw Megan as we came through the finish area at mile 20 (end of lap 3) and I swear the crowds were multiplying still. The last lap was an awesome countdown to the finish Aaron and I had both been looking forward to. There were still tons of runners out on the course and the fan support at mile 24 was unreal.

Image

We came into the finish line (26.4 miles) at 5 hours and 34 minutes to the smiling faces of our friends/family.

Image

(I’m on the far right of this pic with my arms in the air.)

This was Aaron’s first marathon and his PR (that I’m sure he will beat at CIM in December) and not my best time, but with everything going on at this race, I wasn’t even worried about my time. Nothing mattered but running the miles with all the other runners.Image

Image

I can’t explain why I cry at the end of each marathon, but I do. It never fails that when I finish I put my hands on my knees and burst into tears. Am I proud of myself? Am I exhausted? Am I delirious? I’m not sure, but I know I cry every time. And yes, I cried this time too. But I cried for so many reasons this year.

This marathon meant much more to me than any other race ever has. It wasn’t just another marathon to me. I’ve been through a lot of personal trials in the past few months and everything I thought was happening in my life has changed drastically from where I thought it would be. Running this marathon was something I decided I was going to do for myself and by myself. When it was cancelled I was so heartbroken that I wouldn’t be able to achieve this goal. But seeing the spirit of the marathon runners out there in Central Park reminded me why I do this day in and day out. It reminded me how much I love runners, how much I love the sport and how much heart it takes to keep doing this and keep pushing myself to the next level over and over again. I was reminded of the strength I have inside and the healing and learning I have personally done over the last few months.

I am so proud to have run what many are calling the Run Anyway Marathon on November 4, 2012. I know how magical the real NYC Marathon is for the runners, but I also know that only the 2012 NYC Marathon runners will know how special this day was… the day when we all said, “I’m going to run anyway.”

I look forward to running the 2013 ING NYC Marathon in November 2013. I will be there, I will attack that course and I will make new memories, but they will never compare to the magic I felt for 5.5 hours in Central Park this past Sunday.

%d bloggers like this: