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35ish Miles in the Mojave!

** Still waiting for camera from California (currently, lost in mail), so I thought I would post without pictures.

So, when I agreed to go on this run, I was super excited. Not only would I be helping out a friend who is planning a race, but I would get some serious training miles in in the Mojave Desert-- a place I had never been, but only imagined would be BEAUTIFUL! And it did not disappoint.

I did, however, also have two stipulations when agreeing to this little adventure:
(1) that I go on a route where I wouldn't get lost
(2) that I be given (somewhat) easy terrain to test run-- this being my furthest run ever, I thought I didn't need any more obstacles than distance.

Well, I got one of my wishes. Not only was I test running a power line road (follow the power line = can't get lost), but I had my own support crew-- Sid and Marcie. They were awesome. And they didn't want to leave me. Ever.

As for the other wish of easy terrain. That was squashed when I looked online at the "difficult" to "most difficult" ratings given to the legs I was running. Then, I looked at the profiles and thought "that's not too bad" till I realized when you strung them together it was up, up, up. Here is a cross reference at what I would be running.So, I won't lie, I was scared. I wasn't sure if I could do it. I voiced my fears to my travelmates who gave me words of encouragement that everything would go fine and, if not, Sid and Marcie would be right there. At some point the night before, I just decided that I was out there, I had traveled far and I was just going to go do it and see how it turned out. That helped.

The next morning, I started off along my road-- the only flat terrain I would see all day. Nicole and Andrea saw me off the first little bit. I ran 2 miles in and then I found my power line. 33 miles from there lay old Route 66 and that is where I would stop.

The thing about running is that you never know how it is really going to go until you start running. And the first few miles can tell you a lot about how the day is going to go and if you don't alter some of the things going wrong, you will be in for a loooong day. I plodded along assessing my situation:
- I was already blistering
- My water pack was rubbing the wrong way.

At about mile 6 1/2 I stopped with Sid and Marcie to make some adjustments. First, I grabbed my moleskin and did some blister repair. I also grabbed some petroleum jelly to put on my neck where my waterpack was rubbing. Not knowing how much support I would have, I brought my HUGE dual bladder 3L Nathan. While it will get you through A LOT, it is not the most comfortable (or lightest). When I voiced this fact, Sid and Marcie volunteered to stop whenever I needed (God bless them). I decided to give it a go and see if it would work for me and asked them to stop every 2 miles.

The plan with Sid and Marcie worked well. I would run along and when I would see them, it would give me something to shoot for. Which I needed. Sometimes I would carry food in my hand, but I would always stop for hydration. I was running in the desert after all.

The first ten miles of the run were the hardest for me. It was up, up, up and I am NOT good at hills. More so, I had heard in trail running a good strategy was to walk the hills, but I felt like I couldn't do that b/c then I would just be walking ALL THE TIME. After 10 miles, the hills got further in between, so, then, I applied the strategy.

Not only that, I was working on my nutrition. I was supposed to eat every 20 minutes and was work on eating solid foods, in particular, which I had never done. I started off on PB&J sandwiches, which just weren't doing it for me. Feeling depleted, I had a few shot blocks around 60-80 minutes, but the sugar just upset my stomach. So, I was mentally searching for what would make me feel good, not wanting to intake anything. At the next stop, I ran up to the truck, opened the back and...SCORE! Boiled potatoes. Yum. They were just what I needed. And, I have now vowed not to run long, long again without them.

After mile 10, I was feeling good. It felt like the constant uphill was over and I got a few stretches of rolling and flats. I had found what was working for me nutritionally, and I had somewhat settled into my run. I used to say that I never enjoyed the first 3 miles of a run b/c I was just warming up. Now, it feels like a lot longer for me, definitely a mental thing.

I ran along for quite some time just happy and enjoying the scenery. Marcie and Sid were quite talkative and happy when I would catch up to them and we would chat. Sometimes chatting a bit too much, but you had to humor the hand that feeds (and supports) ya. Marcie took some picts of me since I couldn't carry my camera with me once I shed my running pack.

Miles 10-20 were good. I had my boiled potatoes every 2 miles-ish and would wash it down with some Gatorade, water or salt water. I figured out about 4 packets of salt/24 oz bottle was the perfect ratio for me. I was sweating a lot and it was my way of staying hydrated. Towards mile 20, I started eating some potato chips. It took less effort to chew cuz they kind of dissolved in my mouth. Yum, again.

After awhile, I could tell the day was getting long for Sid and Marcie. There were times when I would find them nodding off in the truck when I ran up. Once, I had to knock on the windows to wake them up. I felt bad, but I was afraid if I let them sleep, they would wake up and think I was behind them and stay there. Bless their hearts.

At mile 20, I did a little mental evaluation. I figured I had 5 miles in me to get me to 25, then it was just a 10-mile jaunt "home". More and more I am realizing this distance running is all in the head. Well, maybe not ALL, but a lot of it.

Mile 22, I hit a nutritional low point. I needed something and potato chips were no longer cutting it. It didn't help that I was running in sand so deep it felt like the beach and Sid and Marcie were parked a mile up the road. That made mile 22 one of the LONGEST miles. But, you have to have some of those. At 23, I washed off my feet, changed socks and decided then to switch back to sugars. From there on out it was a shot block every 20 minutes and liquids whenever I reached the truck. Since this was my nutrition plan for my last marathon, it worked well for the last 13 miles.

I got to run over some pretty terrain with mountains and cool looking rocks. Thankfully it was too cold for the snakes, spiders or scorpions to be out. But it was nice being out there all alone. Just me in the beauty. Nothing more.

I passed an old mine field. And a crater. It was the Amboy Crater... which I found out at one point was a volcano with lava flowing. The crater is said to be 6,000+ years old with some volcanic activity as recent as 500 years ago. The Amboy Crater was the only extinct volcanic area along the entire route and generations of Route 66 travelers from the 1920s through the 1960s could honestly boast that they had climbed a real volcano. No kidding. And I ran right by it. And into the lava field that surrounded it.
Marcie INSISTED that it was the magnetism of the lava field that was making me tired. I think it was the fact that I was on mile 32-34.

And then, there it was. Old Route 66 was just ahead. I wanted to run up to it, for sentimentality's sake, but Sid and Marcie were spent and ready to get heading home. My Garmin read 34.65 and Sid claimed we did 36.75 by the odometer. My guess is it is somewhere in the middle.

I was done! And I felt good! Seriously, I did. And I felt EVEN BETTER once I stuffed two hard boiled eggs in my pie hole, yum! Followed by a few recovery beers at the hotel.

It was a big accomplishment for me to run that far and to challenge myself on new terrain.
I am a bit of a creature of habit, so running someplace new for my longest run was pushing me out of my comfort zone two times over. But I guess I proved to myself that there is a bit more in me than I thought there was. Yay!

Vegas - California: The Pre-Run Trip

So, we landed in Vegas and were greeted by this:
and thisGambling in the airport. Nice.

Immediately, we went to sample the local fare:

Andrea assured us that we'd love it. Being In-N-Out virgins, Nicole and I wanted to go inside to eat since we didn't know what we would want. We found out quick that there weren't many options.
That's it. Pretty easy.

Here I am, ready to sink my teeth into my first In-N-Out Burger. A double-double, of course.It was filled with yummy goodness. Probably not the best choice of nutrition right before a long run, but I'll burn off the calories, right?

So, after a hearty and not-so-healthy meal, we headed to California ~ the scenic way.

We went through the desert preserve, checking out the vegetation.
Here I am with a Joshua tree. So cool.

And Cholla.

And headed out on Route 66. (Bonus points if you can name the movie this is from.)

More scenic views on the way to California.

We continued on our adventure through the desert and into California. We went through the mountains to Big Bear, where the initial race will start. Unfortunately, Big Bear has had record amounts of snow this year, so Nicole couldn't test run the first legs of the races, as planned. Instead, we made plans to test run the other legs the following day.

The trip out there got me very pumped about the run the next day. The west is so beautiful. And the more I explore it as an adult, the more appreciative I am of the beauty that it (and other environments) hold. Which is also why I am extremely grateful to have opportunities to do stuff like this... run through the desert in places no "normal" person gets to and experience things that can only be gotten to via hard work. I went to bed nervous about the mileage, but extremely excited and anxious to experience it all first hand the following day!

Side note: I left my camera in a car after my run, so picts and post from my actual run won't be posted for a few days when I get my camera back.

Vegas - Here I Come!

So, why am I talking about Vegas in a blog I have devoted to training? Cuz that's where I am going this weekend for my long run!

Some friends and I are flying into Vegas, driving to California and running back to Vegas. Really? Yes. It's part of a pre-run for this event.
Heaven to Pair-O-Dice ~ a 250 mile relay run from Holcomb Valley in Southern California to Las Vegas.

A few months ago, I got an email from my friend Andrea (who is planning the race), asking for volunteers to run the course ahead of time. The inaugural event will take place this October, but first, she wanted to make sure, logistically, everything pans out by doing a pre-run.

To anyone willing to come on out, she offered quite a sweet deal. Basically, we get ourselves to Vegas (hello, cheap airfare) and Epic Endurance Events will take care of the rest! Who can pass up a deal like that? Plus the opportunity to run through a beautiful desert, support a friend in their entrepreneurial endeavor and did I mention Vegas(!).

Side note:
The only other time I have been to Vegas was when I was pregnant. Not a great way to experience Vegas, so I am looking forward to "take two".

I'm excited about this run for a few reasons:
1) It's going to be the longest run I have ever done (somewhere around 35ish miles).
2) I am going to be running through some very beautiful terrain (through the Mojave Desert).

I am also pretty scared about this for a few reasons:
1) It's going to be the longest run I have ever done (somewhere around 35ish miles).
2) I have learned that "very beautiful" also means "very difficult". I am looking at a lot of elevation gain on my portion of the run. Great. (I'll take that as a compliment that she thinks I can handle them.)

So, that's where I stand. Excited, nervous, anxious and ready for one good time when I am all done!


So, if ultrarunning is defined as running any distance longer than 26.2 miles, then after clocking a 27-mile run on my treadmill, I guess that makes me ultra-treadmill-runner.

It's not that I love the treadmill. I don't. But I can tolerate it. I would MUCH rather be running outside any day. But what I hate more than running on the treadmill is missing a workout. And there are mornings when you wake up and see something like this:Now you can't tell from the picture, but it snowing, with no signs of stopping. And not just snowing lightly, but swirling, blizzardy snow. On top of that, there is my running path, covered with snow. And I have 19 miles to run. So, when faced with bitter coldness and high chance of sickness, I choose treadmill.

People are always making comments about how we do it? What are the "secrets" to being on the treadmill THAT long? And there are none. But here are some tips to make it go a little better.

1) Hit your local video store. The more mindless the movie, the better. You want something where you can tune out, focus on your breath, your form, your nutrition, whatever, then tune back in and not miss any major parts of the movie. The Hurt Locker, not a good choice. This Is It = perfect. You already know the ending, no plot and whenever you need a little entertainment, you just look up. Other good choices I found this winter: The Hangover, I Love You Man, Four Christmases, 17 Again-- you get the idea.

2) Experiment with your nutrition. You are in a controlled environment. You don't have to carry the food with you, you can have countless numbers of water bottles with different drinks, so you might as well try out some new stuff. See how it goes. Take advantage of the fact that you can have whatever you want without carrying it along.This morning's experiment: Peanut butter bagels. Fail.

3) Have everything at your fingertips.If you can, set up everything you need to have right there. Another benefit of the treadmill. Practice eating and drinking while you run, as you would in a race. Things to have access to: all your food, drink, vaseline, endurolytes, sweat towel, change of clothes (if desired), ipod, ibuprofen, remote controls, ANYTHING you may want or need. Don't forget to set a fan up for a nice breeze.

4) Mind Games. I usually break longer runs down into smaller increments. A 20-miler becomes a 10, 5 and 5 mile runs. Or I count-up the miles till halfway and then count the miles down.
Today, it was easy. My workout was 19 miles, with 1/2 mile tempo pushes miles 12-18. I counted up 6, down 6, then focused on the speed part of the workout for the last 7.

Other things to remember about treadmill running:
- You need to have the treadmill incline set at 0.5 - 1.0 for biomechanics (keep an even plane and don't screw up your form).

- Incline also needs should be set at 0.5-1.0 for pace accuracy.

- Warm-up and cool-down appropriately. It is easy to press a number and just "go", but this will cause muscle problems if you don't accelerate/decelerate naturally. I get very tight in my lower back.

So, that's all I got for you.
While I look forward to more ultra-runs this year, for my sake, I hope they ARE NOT on the treadmill.