MA and SJ

The last two days have been inspiration station! On Wednesday I heard that our local running shoe store was doing a fun run and afterwards Mark Allen, Luis Vargas, and Mighty Mouse Angela Naeth were doing a panel with Barry Siff moderating.

Please note here that although blurry, Barry is sporting a PxRx Hat. Boo to the Yaaa!

Then on Thursday night I had purchased tickets for a fun run and book signing with Scott Jurek in Boulder. He was showing a video and doing a panel chat and a reading. It was to be a busy few evenings, but with the opportunity to talk to some superior athletes and learn some stuff too.

Of course, I want to share it all here. Mostly because despite the fact that some of you read this…I read back on these things too. I like to get it all down before it fades.

L to R: Luis Vargas, Mark Allen, Angela Naeth, Barry Siff. L to R: BAMF, BAMF, BAMF, BAMF

Of course when they asked for questions from the audience my hand was the first one up (duh…overachiever #1 here). I asked Mark to give me some advice since I am 11 days out from CDA on what I can do at this point to set myself up for a good race. I actually phrased it more like “There are a lot of us here doing CDA, can you give us….” but really, I just wanted to sit in a room with him and pick his brain for about 18 hours. So yes, clearly the hay is in the barn at this point from a training perspective, but come on folks, training is only 1/2 of 1/2 of the battle. So what can we I do at this point? Here is what he said.

  • Make sure this week that you get everything for the race set aside in a corner of your house or room. Make sure you have enough water bottles, that the bike is tuned up and ready to go. Do all of that this week and don’t leave any running around to next week.
  • This weekend he suggested a 1:15 run on Saturday, followed by a 3:00 ride on Sunday
  • On Thursday of next week he suggested a 30 min swim, followed by a 1:30 bike, followed by a 30 min run. He said to get those done as early as possible in the day. The point here was to deplete the glycogen reserves 72 hours out of the race. He said they take 72 hours to completely refill and after this workout is when you should focus on getting the glycogen nice and full by adding a serving of carbs each day, don’t go overboard.
  • On Friday he suggested a day off. He said this was the most important day for rest so he would make sure to be in bed come 6pm and to sleep in the following day (Saturday) as much as possible (I find it interesting that the day you need the most rest is the day they keep you out until 10 pm with a banquet and mandatory race meeting)
  • Saturday he suggested a 20 min swim, 30 min ride, 10 min run all back to back to back, and then eat early and get to bed. He said sleep the night before is not a big deal. If it doesn’t happen that’s fine, it’s 2 days before that’s really important
  • He said to focus on hydration at least 3 full days out from the race. It takes that long for your cells to really fully hydrate. He also suggested over-salting foods during this time period.
  • He also advised against doing a lot of heavy thinking the week before the race. He talked about how our brain needs to stockpile resources for race day as well. So having a quiet mind and allowing the brain rest as well was important
  • He said the most important thing on race day was the ability to quiet the mind. He talked about positivity and how people always talk about having to stay positive in an Ironman, but he said that sometimes there isn’t anything positive to find in the situation. If you are hurting and struggling, there isn’t a lot of positive stuff to focus on, so he said that he prefers to quiet the mind, stop the chatter, and race. Once he figured out this skill, his racing took on a new dimension.

Those were the major points of his answer to me. He got asked another question about balance in life. He brought up that he loves to surf and someone asked if he and Luis advise athletes to take breaks on a weekly, or monthly basis to seek balance. There were some great comments from Luis and Mark on this one.

  • Luis said that something he sees interacting with a lot of athletes is the concept of honesty. You have to be honest with yourself and your needs. Different people need different things and part of this sport is assessing your own needs. He said most AGers do the sport as a hobby and a passion, and so they need to be honest with what their needs for a balanced life are.
  • Mark brought up an interesting point. He asked how many people went on a 6 hour ride last weekend? A lot of hands went up. He said “There is nothing balanced about a 6 hour ride.” On a day to day basis balance does not exist. He said that what he sought was balance over the year. So when he was training for Hawaii, the 7-8 weeks before it was all tri all the time. Nobody saw him unless it was in a training setting. But then after Hawaii he would take 2 months off and would see his friends and family, and have a lot of fun with them. He said his life was balanced over the year, but not in any one day or week.

Everywhere I had read that Mark was kind of a serious guy, but I didn’t find that at all. He cracked a lot of jokes and he exuded a very quiet and confident peace. He has that ability to relax a room full of people and to make the task at hand seem easier and more straight forward than you might have once thought.

I didn’t talk much about Ang. She was asked a lot of questions about her own training and her work with Mark. The talked about breaking her season into thirds and how that has helped her this year. I can tell that she is happy and thriving, which from a friend point of view makes me happy too.

So, last night was Scott Jurek. I went to the fun run with him and 200 other people that I didn’t know. But I did make some friends. These two were totally cracking me up and I’m sure that I’m going to be addicted to their YouTube feed for years to come. They were hilarious and adorable all at the same time.

When we got off and running I was in the front and Scott was right there. See…

And this is what it looked like behind me…

Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute…make all of your overachiever jokes now…


Okay, I got to talk to Scott a little, tell him I really enjoyed his book, listen to some things he had to say about his experiences writing it and going on this book tour. All in all it was well worth it to get to run a bit with him. He’s a really chill, and a really NICE guy. You just get that feeling straight up.

During the book signing he did a reading, and they had a panel discussion. This really got my thoughts flowing as I sat and listened to them speak about ultra running. As silly as this sounds, Ironman is about speed and the pain to go fast, the pain to turn yourself inside out, while all around you other athletes are posturing, walking, blowing up, puking, and then some of them passing you, hurting more than you, better than you. Ultrarunning is different, even for the guys at the top, ultra running is about pain. The genetic factor has honestly been mostly removed with ultra running and the guys who excel are uniquely a different breed.

The question was asked “why?” It always gets asked. But this time is was more like “What kind of sick demented person does 100 mile races and does well at them?” One of the panelists answered…At the core of it, most great ultra runners don’t feel like they are good enough. They hit the trails to either punish themselves for that, or to try to prove that they are good enough.

Damn. Someone finally sat there and told it like it was… only in ultra running. It was none of this CW BS “I’m just trying to get the most out of my body” (say it in a British accent…). No, at their core, anyone who repeatedly goes out there to F themselves up royally (do I need to repost the pics of my toenails from the Moab 100?) is trying to prove something. Either to others (that usually doesn’t work) or most likely to themselves. That point was discussed and it was dead on.

Why do people that clearly excel at things need to hurt themselves to prove worth? Well, for that you are going to need a chaise lounge and a few hundred hours. Sometimes, 100 miles on foot is just easier.

After the panel Scott stayed around to sign every single persons book, and I know that because somehow I ended up at the end of the line. He spoke with every person, he was genuine, he asked them about themselves. He was just a cool dude. He asked Annie if she was a runner. She said yes.

These last two evenings, while they threw me out of my routine, they were really good, and really needed. I have been really focused on the “work” these last weeks and I have worried about my fitness level, especially after the saddle sore incident. Following a new plan this year it’s been hard for me to feel like I am ready. I’ll say it, I don’t feel fit, not like I have been in the past. These last two nights I was reminded that good performances can come from a place of insecurity. They can stem from something to prove, to yourself, to others. So maybe going into this race feeling like I’m not “there”  is an okay place to compete from.

2012 Moab Red Hot 55K

What a weekend! I have been excited about this race for two years! In 2010 I ran it as a prep race for the Moab 100 miler and just loved it. The terrain is out of this world, very MOAB and I couldn’t wait to come back. Last year I was signed up and ready to race when I got really really sick. I was in bed for 5 days straight and had to bail on the trip, very unlike me. So this year I was excited to see what I could do out there.

This is a hard trail race. It is 33.6 miles and has 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and 3,700 of loss. The gain kills you and the loss nails the coffin shut. About 1/2 of it is on rocky Moab style jeep roads (crazy) and the other 12 there is no trail and you are hunting for the flagging and running from flag to flag. There is a definite route finding element to the race which adds a whole new level of RAD.

Troy, Annie and I drove up Friday with our friends Keith, Nancy and Bill. Keith and Bill were racing as well and we enjoyed a leisurely caravan up with them and dinner that night where Troy was able to indulge in the Moab Brewery. It was water and easily digestible food for everyone else. I also met Monica who is Nancy’s SIL and she was racing. Traveling with friends always helps with the nerves.

Annie is a champ traveler, as long as you line the rental car with black plastic. We are in the “spill it” years. Back to sippie cups!!! She was awesome on the drive, she talked and sang pretty much the entire way to Utah.

Race morning I was nervous. Yup, yup. Waiting in the port a pot line I ran into Helen. We have raced each other through the years, our daughters are a few days apart and she is a stud ultra runner and just a wonderful woman. It was fun to meet up with friends I haven’t seen for awhile on the start line, a few hugs and good lucks, and we were off.

The crowd took off. Oh my goodness. I didn’t want to go crazy out of the gate. I didn’t run a warm up and the course has about a 400 foot flat warm up before you start climbing. I watched my Garmin and was hoping that my heart rate monitor was just doing it’s usual first thing freak out before it gets warmed up. Either that or my heart was. Two years ago I averaged 168 average heart rate on this course, and we laughed about that for years. I am one of those people who can never seem to keep my heart rate down, despite diligent training. This year wasn’t much better…164 average. Props to my parents for gifting me with a hummingbird heart!

The first mile was 9:23 and I thought that was okay and then we hit a 3 mile downhill section where I was just shocked. I was getting passed, and passed and passed. Woman after woman was running by me and I had a few doubtful thoughts in here. Helen was long gone off the front and I just couldn’t believe how many women were out there with their A game starting a 34 mile race with low 7 minute miles. Miles 2,3,4 were 7:24, 7:24, 7:49 and that’s with me getting passed like I was nobody.

We hit the first big hill and climbed to the first aid station at 5.5 miles. I was in 10th. I was pretty shocked and had to do some talking to myself. There are so many good girls doing these ultras, you just have to run your own race, do your thing and maybe a time will come when you can run for the podium, but if the level of competition has risen, then it is what it is. Mile 5 ,6,7 were 9:03, 8:17, 7:36.

I was running behind Keri Nelson and usually she is out of sight within 1/4 mile at the snowshoe races that we have both run in. She is insanely strong and fast. But I was trotting along behind her thinking that maybe she was nursing an injury or something because I am used to not ever seeing her. I was told later that she took a spill came in holding her arm, I hope she didn’t break it.

I started to feel my strength come to me as we started climbing up up up. I like to run all the hills and the music on my iPod was keeping me happy and jazzed. Miles 8,9,10,11,12,13 were 8:13, 9:10, 11:03, 9:10, 8:04, 8:04. I was enjoying the scenery of this section when I went through the 1/2 marathon point at 1:50 on the dot. I was shocked, I thought that felt fast and I was thinking 2 hours would seem a little more reasonable.

We went through our second aid station and as I stopped to fill up I asked “Have a lot of girls gone by?” The RAD aid station volunteers said, “You’re the 4th”. This surprised me and I was kinda stoked. 4th meant that I had 20 miles to find one more and if I managed to not get passed, then a podium spot was within my reach. This day was turning up.

I put my head down and ran solid and consistent all the way downwards to the 3rd aid station. Mile 14, 15, 16, 17 were 8:30, 7:35, 7:57, 7:28. As the aid station came into view I noticed a pony tail departing the station. Oh, I got excited thinking maybe it was another woman. I refilled my hand bottle and took off to go see. I like this section of the course, the road is good and you go back down the huge hill you had to climb at mile 5.

At mile 19 or so I caught up to the third place woman and I felt good. We ran along together for a little while and then I pulled ahead and continued onwards. Mile 18 and 19 were 7:30 and 8:14

Then the crux of the course hit. There is a fair amount of climbing from mile 19 to 23 where there is a crazy aid station perched on a cliffs edge. It’s quite amazing. The 4×4 club does all the aid stations and they are amazing. These miles are up up up and tough tough tough and you don’t have a trail, it’s time to start flag hunting. At times I could see way up ahead of me a pair of pink shorts. I figured they probably belonged to a woman and I got excited. I ran those uphill miles pretty hard and I was panting like a dog. I also decided it was time to turn my hat around backwards, transforming me from “I’m Sonja, a happy fun loving trail running girl” into “It’s frickin on like Donkey Kong, let’s do this sh!t”. Yes, alter egos are fun. Miles 20, 21, 22, 23 were 9:07, 9:44, 13:19,10:26. Yes, 13:19…and my average heart rate on that one was 173. Booo Yaaa!!

By the time I crested that huge climb I had pink shorts (Sarah Hansen) and Helen just in front of me. My quads were screaming, but I didn’t care. I was in the hunt now. What a crazy turn of events, I wanted to pinch myself. As I pulled up into the aid station Helen and Sarah were leaving. It kinda looked like they had been racing each other for some time. I filled up super quick and took off catching up to them near the bottom of the next descent.

What to do, what to do? Here we were, #1, 2, 3 all ready to race, 23 miles into a 34 mile race. We jockeyed for position, constantly looking for flags. At this point of the course there was no trail, just slick rock and pink flags to mark the way. Miles 24 and 25 were 9:11 and 9:49 and we traveled as a little group with a few guys in the mix as well. Up, down, over rocks and boulders, jumping across crags, and climbing up slick rock. Now this was ultra running at it’s finest!

At 25 my iPod died and it was a sign. It was time to pony up and decide what kind of race I was ready for that day. We were booking up and down this crazy terrain and I went internal. I said “Sonja, this is your marathon, this is your day, let’s open up all the cylinders and see what’s under the hood”. And with that, I tucked my headphones in my bra and I ran like I stole something.

I went through the marathon point at 3:49 with miles 26, 27, 28, 29 in 8:59, 9:05, 9:40, 10:02. I was running as hard as I knew how. I had a guy with me, Ryan, who was an exceptional descender so I would latch onto him for the downhills and we would call out the flags when we saw them, then I would lead the uphills and he would help me find the flags. There were a few that we had to stop and search for and I felt frantic the whole time.

Everytime I stole a glance back Helen was right there. She was holding tight to us, and I had these visions that she was going to let us find the route and then run me down on the final descent. It was great strategy. So I would run harder, as hard as I could for every climb and every decent.

I was drinking EFS with PreRace in it like it was going out of style, anything I could do to hold the pain of my quads at bay. Finally we hit what I knew was the final aid station. I slammed some coke, filled up my bottle and took off as fast as I could. I was running scared, like a bunny being hunted.

The final descent was 3.5 miles of screaming rocky downhill on the Poison Spider Trail. I whimpered the entire way, I was ripping myself to shreds and I was talking out loud. I sounded like a crazy person. Miles 30, 31, 32, 33 were 7:40, 8:42, 8:54, 8:34. About a mile before the finish I tripped on a rock, thought I broke my toe and almost face planted. That gave me a huge rush of adrenaline and I used it to get down the final switchbacks where I knew Troy would be waiting. Annie was there and it was all grins to the finish line.

That finish line felt so good. Because the 33K racers had been finishing nobody knew I was the first chick for the 55K but they figured it out quickly and the race director came over and congratulated me. I was almost a little weepy but I dragged myself over to the food and sat down on an ice chest. The best part was that they had a big tub of First Endurance Ultragen. I put two scoops in a cup and downed it in about 12 seconds.

Helen was right there. She finished just 3 minutes behind me, and we became the 3rd and 4th women to ever break 5 hours on the course. I think we were both excited beyond belief about that. Here I am on my ice chest really quite unable to move or function, and Helen is chatting it up, standing, looking fresh as a daisy. She looked like she could drive back to the start and do it all again. Dang ultra runners!!!

My wonderful Troy soon was there to haul me off the ice chest and down to the car where I collapsed in the back seat and cried/laughed/giggled for about 20 minutes while we tried to get me into dry clothes. Oh, I was hurting and was really unable to move around in any sort of speedy way. It took me about 30 minutes to walk back up the course about 0.5 mile to find a good cheering spot.

Susan was there with her kiddos waiting for Tim and we had a blast sitting and chatting, and watching the kids play with rocks and dirt and stuff. I love to see just how entertained kids are in nature. Not one complaint, just FUN!

This is one of my favorite pictures when Tim came in. It was his first ultra and his girls and running in with him.
After Tim was in Troy and Nancy and I waited for Keith and Bill. Sure enough, just a few minutes later they came down the hill. Keith was his normal self, exhibit 1:
Whereas Bill was feeling the wrath of Moab. I love this! You just can’t explain to someone what their first Ultra is going to be like, but if you are lucky Keith will run it with you and you will have fun. Bill will be back for more, because now he knows what’s it’s all about, and you can’t turn away from experiences like this.
My favorite picture of the day, just cracks me up every time I see it!!!
Annie took this one, she’s good!
Race Director Martinez really put on a show this year. The race seems to get bigger every year and this was no exception. The aid stations were great, finish line food was the bomb, and the awards were some of the best I have ever seen. This race would sell out for the scenery alone, but the race direction throws it over the top. I was so impressed at the growth of the race. Many more years to come for this one, I am sure!
1st Woman
4 hours, 56 minutes
33.63 miles
8:45 average mile pace
3,009 feet of elevation gain
memories to last a lifetime!
Thank you Troy and Annie for being the best support crew ever. Thank you to Robert at First Endurance for fueling me (nutrition report will be up on the First Endurance site tomorrow). Congrats to Keith, Bill, Monica and Tim for great races. Thank you Helen and Sarah for sharing the podium with me and pushing me to run so hard. Thanks to Dirk for the plan. I am feeling strong like bull!

33 things before 33

I stole this idea from Erin at Just Run With It. Every year after her birthday she posts a list of things she wants to do before her next birthday. I have followed her blog for several years and I always love seeing the lists and then seeing what she gets done, what doesn’t get done, and how much fun she has along the way. So, I’m stealing it this birth-year. Next year is the big 33…an AWESOME YEAR because it’s 3×11..and 11 is a wicked rad prime.

33 Things Before 33 (in no particular order)

  1. Break 10 hours for 140.6 miles of swim bike run.
  2. Swim a mile in the pool faster than 24:00
  3. Go kayaking in the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge
  4. Go to the top of the Sun sphere
  5. Attend Engine2 Immersion or something similar with Troy
  6. Qualify for Kona
  7. Go camping with Annie and Troy
  8. Run a winter Ultramarathon
  9. Plant a garden in the backyard
  10. Make Annies Halloween costume from scratch
  11. Write a cookbook
  12. Run the Boston Marathon
  13. See Cirque Du Soleil
  14. Decorate my triathlon cave room
  15. Learn about bike fitting
  16. Swim 100×100
  17. Learn to glue on tubeless tires
  18. Hike a 14er
  19. Do something on my own that I didn’t think I could
  20. Learn to make a really good Veggie Terrine
  21. Go down an alpine slide
  22. Get Annie reading
  23. Start a monthly group call with my athletes
  24. Paint something at one of those paint your own ceramic places
  25. Run a race with Troy
  26. Paint some walls in the house
  27. Learn how to make Risotto
  28. Get some stamps in my passport
  29. See all the movies nominated for 2011 Best Picture
  30. Be an Ironsherpa for an Ironman this year
  31. Take Ukulele I at Swallow Hill Music
  32. Read 10 of the 100 Best Novels
  33. Buy a real camera

Whew, I’m getting old, that’s a lot of things! Should be oodles of fun.


Cheyenne Mountain 25/50K

My good friend Andrea is putting on a 50K race the day before Easter (April 23rd) this year in Colorado Springs called the Cheyenne Mountain 50K. It’s been so fun to watch her go through the process of organizing a race and I’m really jazzed for her. The race is a two loop format in Cheyene Mountain Park. I went out and ran the entire thing a few months ago and it is RAD. It’s primarily single track and there is a mix of all sorts of terrain. There are some climbs in it, but everything is runable and it should be smack dab between a fast and a slow course. Challenging, yet, runable.

I love the way Andrea is acting as a race director. She reached out to all of her runner friends (and she has a lot) and asked what they wanted in a race. Answers like “well taken care of” but “organic” with “great aid stations”, “family friendly”, and “schwag for all levels, not just the winners” all came up. She is really putting together some great stuff.

For example, there will be a Golden Easter Egg hunt on the course. Eggs will not be first come first served, but spread throughout the day. If you find an egg you turn it in for a prize. No waiting around for the raffle, just keep your eye out on course. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will have docents out with some critters for the kids to enjoy after the kid’s fun run, and Carrabbas Italian Grill is serving up post race grub!

There is also an Elite wave that she is awarding prize money for the overall winners of the race, $500 for the men and $500 for the women. See the site to see if you can enter the Elite wave and race for some rent money. If you’re racing the 25K the first overall female and the first overall male will enjoy a 6 month supply of VitaBev multi vitamin beverage.

I’m very confident that Andrea will put on a top notch, yet home grown event. She’s good with balance like that. I talked with her about offering a free entry to my blog readers and here is what we came up with, and I LOVE it.

If you decide to enter the race, there is a spot on that says “How did you hear about us”. If you sign up and type in or goSonja then Andrea is going to draw names out of hats from those of you that entered “goSonja” and it will be announced on the starting line of the race who won. What do you win? Upon completion of your race, Andrea will hand you in cash, your entry fee. Isn’t that fun?

So, enter goSonja on the “How did you hear about us” section of the entry and you could get some cash in hand at the completion of the race.

Register for the race here

If you are in the area and don’t want to race, think about volunteering. You’ll have a really fun time whether you race or volunteer, believe me!

Lost Coast Trauma Drama

My dad always uses that phrase “Trauma Drama”. It usually means that someone is making more out of something than needs to be made out of it. Today we had some Trauma Drama. Annie and I arrived safe and sound in San Jose, my dad picked us up at the airport. I put Annie in the car with dad and waited for our luggage. Our GoalZero solar panels were packed into a box, that’s one bag. Annies bag came out, that’s two bags. My street clothes bag arrived, that’s three bags. Waiting Waiting….

No 4th bag. And of all things, no bag containing every single thing I packed for the running portion of the trip. My Garmin, my Flip Video Camera, my digital camera, my SPOT satellite messenger tracker thingee, two pairs of running shoes, two Nathan packs and a hand bottle, two headlamps, warm hats, visors, gloves, tops, shorts, capris, tights, vests, socks, sorts bras. Not to mention my GoLite sleeping bag that fits in my running pack AND my Justins Nut butter, my Love Grown Granola (two bags of Cocoa Goodness mind you), an entire tub of grape EFS, 4 bottles of liquid shot, my MultiV, and all my emergency gear like water purification tables, space blankets, blister repair, bandaids. Whew, yea, it was all in there.

I called 4 times today to see what the situation was, and all four people have ideas where my bag MIGHT be, but nobody knows where it is at all. So, I waited.

There may or may have not been some trauma drama. I got a headache. My tummy was a bit upset too.

Then I called Troy and asked, “What am I going to do?” He said “Go buy what you need for your trip from REI, if your bag arrives you can take back the stuff to REI and if it doesn’t you’ve got what you need”. BTW my husband never spends money, he asks permission to buy razors…he actually puts money in the budget for razors (which explains why my legs are always a bit too hairy for a chick…I forget to put razors in the budget). My mom and dad agreed, just go get what you need, and they offered to help out.

I hopped in my moms mini cooper and headed to REI. My mom hopped in my dads Xterra and headed to Best Buy. She procured a new Flip video camera and a new SPOT satellite messenger. I procured a jacket, some capris, some Brooks Cascadia shoes, 2 pairs of socks, 1 sportsbra, a headlamp, a Nathan pack , a Nathan hand bottle and some second rate nutrition products that will just have to work because I have no other choice. I spent $545. Ouch!

But you know, on a day where Ali’i drive is under several feet of water from the tsunami, Japan has lost so many lives, and my dear friend Ben’s mother passed away, I feel so incredibly lucky. I have the best support system in Troy and my parents who literally jump to solve problems, even if it costs money.

This day has been a major wake up call in so many ways. Not only am I extreemly thankful for the things I get to do, and for the people in my life, but today I was also reminded that you can do with less. I’m now taking 20% of what I intended to bring.

I wanted this adventure to be a time where I could reflect, and gain perspective. I wasn’t quite prepared for that to happen the minute I stepped off the plane, but that’s how it goes when you put intentions out in the world, sometimes they come whipping back at you.

Tomorrow we are headed out. I run Sunday from Mattole to Shelter Cove. Then on Monday I run from Shelter Cove to Usal. The new Spot is up and running and my bleeps should start Sunday morning. Here is where you go to see the bleeps from my Spot.

UPDATE: 10PM and I have my bag! Southwest called about 30 minutes ago and said that my bag “arrived”. They had no clue where it had been. Maybe off on a hiatus to teach me a lesson. Who knows. They gave me a $50 travel voucher for coming to pick it up, to which I said…HECK Yea! Woot! Game on!

OMG will she just shut up about the swimming

I really do have other things to talk about! I do. I have so many exciting things in the works. I’m working on a trail running adventure in March. It’s going to be a 3-day, super remote, crazy endurance challenge that has me a little scared, and definitely questioning my own sanity. But it’s good for me, every spring I like to get in touch with the tough durable mountain chick that I am. Plus, who wouldn’t want to do that here:

I’ll leak more information as soon as I get the guts to admit publicly what I’m planning. You all will like it though. You seem to like my spring adventures and I often get emails hearing about how much you like my little running videos, so there will be plenty of that. Also it seems that the more I beat myself up, the more page views I get, so lets go for broke!

PIC and I are also getting ready to go to CAMP! Yes, sir, we are headed to SWIMBIKERUN our brains out with Chuckie, Ang, and CurlySue in Tucson in a few weeks. I’m so excited to visit a warmer climate and ride my bike outdoors.

Finally I’m so excited that Love Grown Foods is going to sponsor me this year! They are a local Denver company that has a tremendous POSITIVE energy. They are like ME in a company, and I think you can taste it in the Granola that they make. I first tasted them after the Denver Gorilla Run and wanted MORE. Who wouldn’t want more LOVE? Thanks Love Grown, I can’t wait for a great year together! Love Grown is on Facebook and on Twitter too. Check them out, they just launched nationally so you should be able to find it in your local Kroger stores.

Okay, and since I couldn’t go a whole post without talking about swimming, here I go! Guess what?? I am on schedule to swim just over 100,000 yards (that’s 56 MILES) in January! I need just over 6K more and I’m there! 93,597 yards as of today. I’m on track to hit 1,000,000 yards by Kona, you know, just another 900,000. And to top that off, I have just had a few of the best swim workouts ever the last two days.

The first was yesterday afternoon and was the second installment of my “marker set”. That’s what I call it, it’s the set Chuckie has me do to see how I’m feeling. We got to pick it, and mine is 15×200 with increasing rest and (hopefully) descending times. Troy and Annie swam while I got started and then when they got cold they joined me on deck. Again, Troy is becoming my secret weapon when it comes to my swimming (Annie too…she’s such a trooper). Having him on deck is like having a personal coach watching my every move. He has watched in detail all of Karlyns videos and he gives me feedback every time I hit the wall. Last week my final 200 was 3:12 (meter pool). Yesterday with lots of Troy’s guidance it was 3:03. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the clock.

the meter pool makes me feel like I am back at square one. I remember when I was trying hard to break 3:00 for a 200 in the yard pool, and now, here I am again, trying to break 3:00, but I’m in the meter pool. At first it was discouraging and I was always computing back to yards to stroke my ego. Now, I’m embracing the meter pool and I’m setting new goals.

Also, Michelle says I’m officially a swimmer now. You know when you start dreaming in a foreign language that means you are fluent? Well, on a set of intervals on the bike a few days ago, I looked down and I had 1:20 to go and I said to myself “That’s just 100 in the pool, 3 flip turns and your home, make them good”. If I’m comparing bike intervals to the pool…PIC says that makes me a gennnuineee swimmer!

Finally, I’m dedicating this song to Troy. He said today “You downloaded that?” Umm, yea, and I LOVE it. Especially when I saw this video, it just reminds me of being in love and cherishing the joy in the little things that bring you together. Most the time that’s the junk that nobody else would find fun. Love is what happens in-between the lines, during the pauses. So whether you like it or not, Boo, this ones for you!

And now weather is almost 60 here, and so the bike calls. Boo and I are heading out for a ride.

62 mile training run

The day started early, driving the 0.8 miles to the starting parking lot with Troy and Annie. Moab 100 kicks off at 7am, so I wanted to start at the same time. I pulled up and to my shock and amazement all of the parking lot and sidewalks were chalked up for me. I had no clue who did it and wouldn’t find out for another 56 miles. Tyler, Boone, and Bret were waiting for me. I thought I would just have Tyler, so this was pretty rad.

At 7am on the dot we took off running. It was great to get to know Bret as this was my first time meeting him. Boone is working on moving out here, and his wife and I are bloggy buddies (soon to be “real” friends). Tyler kept things alive and crazy as usual. I didn’t feel very good at all. I felt like I had already run 20 miles, and at first this scared me a little. But my brain just started thinking “Well, if I can run 62 feeling like crap this, I will know that I can do 100 with a taper and feeling better”.

Pulling into the parking lot for lap two I was shocked to see Julie and John and Jon, none of whom I was expecting. Bret stayed on for another lap as well. We had a great lap chatting and Bret told me some great stories that I will totally think of when I am running the 100 miler, super cool.

Laps 3 and 4 I had a literal entourage. The Jons stayed on for another lap. Keith, Barry, and Melissa joined in, and Melissa brought her husband Ryan and her SIL Jen. Those two were super cute and were running farther than they ever had.

Talking to Sharpie this morning she reminded me that when people come out and run with me they are showing me with their bodies how much they support me. I really am so blessed that I am able to get people out the door to push their limits, that is my MO and main motivator. You all keep me pushing to the next level. It’s truely a win-win!

Lap 5 I was still pretty much feeling like dog poo. Not that you would know it, but the end of that lap with Michelle and Keith, and a little bit of Barry was pretty quiet. Inside my head I was just focused and trying to not puke as I was a little nauseous. I couldn’t help but think…only 30 miles in..Oy! Michelle and Keith got me through that one. Also, I really didn’t think I would have anyone with me for the rest of the day until maybe the last lap in the dark where I knew that Ben would come ride with me.

I pulled into the parking lot and I saw people. I got excited. Maybe they were there for me. And sure enough, such an unexpected surprise was Carrie and Tess. I’ve only met Carrie two or three times, and Tess was one of my Mountain Mamas YEARS ago. Tess and I have kept in touch via facebook and she just decided to come help me out (BTW you have to check out Concert for Cash). John also showed up about 1.5 miles into the lap on his mountain bike.

I tell ya, Carrie and Tess are two of the most vivacious people I have met. They both got me headed down a completely different path. By the end of lap 6 I was feeling better than I had all day. It was totally them…all them.

Carrie stayed on for lap 7 and kept me 100% entertained. She’s a great pacer…I tell ya!

Then pulling into the parking lot I was again preparing mentally for a solo lap, but didn’t have to prepare for long. Keith was there with his bike. That was a painful lap for me but he stayed right with me, keeping me company, letting me talk about stupid stuff and slurr my words.

Ben came out for the last two laps. Whew, because I was now eating massive amounts of pink and white Circus Cookies, and Yellow Peeps. I was getting loopy and a little out of it. Ben is perfect for these conditions. He totally kept me on track and moving forward. Ben lets me talk about ANYTHING. I think I spent like 30 minutes retelling him the story of Annies birth, including ALL the gory details. I swear I could talk about my period for an hour with him and he would totally be like “No kidding, Hillary is that way too”. But I didn’t…

At the end of lap 9 Bret had come back to cheer for me in the parking lot, that was a nice bonus. We also realized that somewhere in lap 9 my Garmin had fallen off. Seriously? But it gave me something to focus on for the last lap…finding my $300 Garmin! We looked everywhere and sure enough after like 5 miles of looking, we found my Garmin laying in the middle of the trail. The strap had broken.

Troy followed us in the car the entire last lap. I gave Annie a hug in the last mile and apparently its just what she needed because she fell fast asleep. Finishing was great. I was giddy and pretty high. It was pitch dark and I hadn’t turned on my iPod once, I had company from sun up to sun down.

I hobbled into the car, and straight into the ice bath from hell. After that it was food, jammies, and bed. I couldn’t sleep most of the night, was even up at 2am tweeting. A nap is in order today!

Friends, oh friends, I love you all for helping me. Moab will be so sad alone, but it sounds like many of you plan to make the trek out there to pace me at night and have a bit of Moab fun!

There is one last thing I wanted to share with you. I lost 9 toenails last year. And yea, they hurt and were annoying, but more annoying is my ability to get blisters. Last year every run over 15 I got blisters. I didn’t even mind them after awhile and just assumed it was part of the program. I have always gotten ones on the top of my toes, and I don’t care about those, but the ones that really kill are between my toes. On my 45 mile run a month ago I got a sizable BLOOD blister between my toes. Youch.

This got me thinking that I should try some of those Injinji socks. Wow. For me…blister prone woman, I am sold. I ran through wet mud for 62 miles, I changed socks once because I was just soaked and doing the squish squish dance, and when I pulled my socks off at the end of the day… pruney wet feet…totally BLISTER FREE. Let’s just say I’m now going to have to harass them until they let me be a product ambassador. I don’t even know what it feels like to be blister free. I do have one toe nail that will probably leave me…again…in a couple months. But no blisters after 3 years of weekly blisters is HUGE. Thank you Injinji!!!!!

Here is the video of my day, I hope you enjoy it!

62 mile run from sonjawieck on Vimeo.

I am training for the Moab 100 which is a looped course. This was my last big training run and I ran 10X6 mile loops out in Cherry Creek State Park. All my friends came out to run with me and it was a total blast. This is a video of my day, sun up to dark

6 hours after 62 miles

At 2am, I should not be blogging. I should not be awake. But here I am, starting my blog on my iPhone, laying here in bed with a sound asleep Troy and Annie. I am awake because the pain woke me up. Not that I was sleeping that well anyways. Tossing and turning, shoving my pillow between my legs, searching for a position that my legs would accept.

Ben asked me on lap 9 to explain the difference between the sprinters paincave and that of the endurance athlete. While the sprinter dealts with 100% all over mind degrading pain, the minute he or she stops it would take a small miracle to conjure up the severity of the pain. To the endurane athlete the pain is much like that of injury. Every single step hurts with searing sharp pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. But, you are there for it. There is no mentally escaping from the endurance runners pain. The pain does not stop when you stop and often times haunts you for days. The endurance athletes pain is almost a form of depression. And when it wakes you up at 2am, when you obviosly need your sleep, you feel utterly broken. That’s the difference.

So yea, I hurt. But as I said many times during my 62 miles of running yesterday, “I’m still me”. I’m still smiling, chatting, laughing, downplaying the effort, and just generally exicuting sound strategy. I’m still totally humbled by everyone who came out to run with me. Several of them, including X-stud quarterback Ryan, and his motorcross racing wife, Melissa, went father than they ever had before. They dragged Ryans sister Jen out, who doubled her longest run of 6 miles out to 12. She’s probobly feeling very similar to me right now.

As I lay here waiting for the Vitamin I (as Chucky calls it) to set in, my big thoughts of the day include.

– I am so supported by my running friends, I had someone with me every lap! I can not thank you guys and gals enough.

– My husband Troy continues to shock and amaze me and others with his ability to watch Annie in a boaring parking lot for 13 hours while keeping me refueled, doing a check on me every lap, being time keeper, welcoming runners there to pace me, and supporting all of us.

– The gear my sponsors have provided totally rocks. First Enduance, Nuun, Mix1, and Justins Nut Butter kept me fueled, Nathan provides the most comfortable running packs, Core Concepts clothes me in things that do not rub or chaffe, Trakkers hats keep me sunburn free, Saucony has created a shoe I never once wanted to change out of even when they were a soaking wet muddy mess, and Josh at Tri-massage with his fixing techniques and exercises kept me on my feet.

– Although most of the entire run hurt, I reached a pain plateau and it was one that I could manage.

– There are 38 more miles in me, I now know this.

– Do not sit down. Beware of the chair. Sitting is reserved for the port-a-pottie.

– Circus Animals (the pink and white ones) and yellow bunny peeps saved the day. These two things rocked my mouth!

With this thought, I will post this rant and get back to bed. The pain has gone from a 29 to a 16 and I think I might be able to sleep. I took video during my run, so tomorrow I will edit it and post it, along with a play by play report. Until then…yawn!

How to Prepare for a 60 mile Run

Actualy this is how I prepare for a 60 mile run. I wouldn’t dare recommend this sort of insanity to anyone else.

I don’t know what I’ll crave when I’m out there tomorrow and despite the fact that King Soopers is a mere 0.3 miles from my aid station parking lot, I must be prepared.

Step 1: Buy one of every junk food* item that looks good at the store.

* note: after the run you must immediately package up and hide all left over junk food for the next big run…or you will gain 5 pounds in the 3 days following.

Next you need to think about all the food you should be eating. EFS, blocks, gels, liquid shot, nuun.

Step 2: Raid your secret closet stash of training goods for appropriate goodies, take multiples of everything.

The weather forcast tomorrow is calling for a high of 49. But I will start in the early, cold morning and will end in the late, cold evening. Also in the middle of the day it may get just nice enough for shorts and you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.

Step 3: Do all laundry. Make sure every piece of athletic clothing is clean and pack 2-3 of everything. Shorts, tights, short sleeve, long sleeve, rain jacket, sun hat. Prepare for all weather. Take three pairs of shoes and 5 pairs of socks.

A huge component of a successful run is the electronic component. iPod, Garmin, iPhone, headlamp, camera…

Step 4: Charge Garmin and iPhone. Refill with new songs and charge iPod. Make sure camera battery is charged, and memory cards are empty. Replace batteries in headlamp.

Now you have to put all of this somewhere.

Step 5: Clean out the car. Throw away Recycle all 30 Mix1 bottles that have accumulated in the back of the car.

Throw all your junk in the car and consider yourself almost ready.

Now to prepare the body. However it doesnt really matter how well you treat yourself in the 24 hours prior, you will still hurt like hell tomorrow for the last few laps.

Step 6: Have a great meal, some Salmon, veg, some carbs. Put on some comfy pants and relax. Do your exercises from Josh, watch a boring movie and hit the hay for a good nights sleep.

Just like that, easy as pie, I am ready to crank out 60 miles. All I have left to do is run! 7am tomorrow the mayhem begins.

Sun Up to Sun Down

A week from today is a big day for me. It’s my last gigantic run before Moab. It’s a sun up to sun down run, with the goal of 60 miles or so. Again, like the last big one, it’s all in 6 mile loops and of course you are all welcome to join me out there. Email or comment if you want to come run or mountain bike a lap or two, or three…or ten.

I love the Sunday emails from Chuckie. He lets me know what’s going on for the week, what’s coming in future weeks, where my head should be, etc, etc. Todays email included this tid-bit.

The week is all about maintenance until Sunday, at which point the aim is to conquer new ground. Crawling is acceptable. Falling is acceptable. Puking is acceptable. Tears are acceptable. Pain is acceptable. Injury is acceptable. But quitting, well, quitting is entirely unacceptable. You will learn more about yourself on Sunday and again a month later than ever before.

Grrr it up.


First off, I want to say that I love this. Chuckie is equal parts tactical and emotional. PIC and I’s trainer ride for Saturday came to us in a 1 page long Word document full of detail with 6 different parts. And then I get emails like this that inspire me and get my Grrr all revved up. Emotional, yet tactical.

So, it got me thinking… I’ve never been to this crawling, falling, puking, crying place. I tend to smile through most all things I endeavor. Maybe the smile is a front, maybe it’s an excuse. My times of suffering seem to be over. Despite what is dished to me, I tend to roll through it lately, happy to be alive, happy to be training, happy to have supportive family and friends who love me as much as I love them.

Maybe I will get to that place next weekend, maybe not. I do know that quitting is entirely unacceptable. This run will happen, despite what challenges I encounter along the way. 60 miles is no slouch. it’s six 10 mile runs, it’s three 20 mile runs, or maybe it’s just getting up early, before the sun rises and doing what I love to do, with the people I love to do it with until the sun goes down.

Maybe it’s just that.