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!

PIC

You may have noticed that that I affectionatey refer to Michelle as PIC. It stands for “partner in crime”, I’m not really even sure when it came about. Maybee when she started her blog? I don’t know. She calls me PIC too. It’s rather fun. Sometimes I call her Fordy-Ford, or Michelley-Elley.

Michelle and I met shortly before our first ever trip to USAT Age-Group Nationals in 2007. That was way back when I had only done two sprints and Michelle was still riding this red bike with like Shimano 105 on it (I don’t mean to offend anyone…well maybe I do a little bit).

Breakfast two days before Nationals in 07

We were roomies in this totally cheep extended stay hotel right next to Nike in Portland. We both had what I would call super solid races, but even bigger than that we began a friendship that both of us never realized would be so much fun.

I think this was probably the last time we got totally sloshed right after a race…we are much more dedicated now (we are the middle two).

We trained together occasionally, mostly on weekend bike rides. Michelle was a working girl with a demanding job, but she was focused and nailed her workouts.

We went through a Twinkie phase (identical, comes in a pack of two). Almost all the group pictures we were standing next to each other, and we had matching helmets, blue bikes (she got rid of the crummy red one…no offense) and ponytails. Check it out.

Twinkies we are



Scary huh?

We came back to nationals in Portland in 2008 ready to kick ass, and qualify for Team USA. We had Australia on our minds. For the first time we allowed another person into our nationals lair, Tyler.

PIC, Me, and Tyler

He proved to be an acceptable addition. It also meant that PIC and I shared a bed for the first time. And we learned that we sleep well together, who would have thought? Probably a fact that our husbands try not to think about too often…or maybe they do. I don’t know and this is going south…

So we both really rocked the house at Nationals, it was the same course as the year before and PIC knocked 16+ minutes off her time, and I took off a little over 6. PIC nabbed that Team USA slot, and I missed it by one, but got it back in the lotto.

Early morning pre race, we are together, there’s a shock!

Several months after Nationals, the best thing EVER happened to my athletic career (and let’s be honest, it’s all about me). PIC got laid off, SWEEET, full time training partner. I think this is when the term “PIC” came about. That year was about becoming super stud kick ass athletes and helping each other get there. We started on the bikes.

Mt.Evans in the back, we two man teamed it all over the place that spring.


We really learned a lot about each other. Usually we knew more about where each other was at than we knew about ourselves. I knew when she was blitzed, she knew when I needed to eat. We shared gels, we took turns on each others wheels, and we had so much fun.


We raced across the county, heck the world, together. We always found a way to get our PIC time even if we weren’t rooming together. We found a camaraderie that year that was sorta “the next level”. I think in the beginning we may have felt a little competitiveness against each other, but any and all of that dissipated throughout last year. When we became PIC’s things changed and we helped each other through the hard times, and the hard races, and we celebrated with each other through the good ones. It helped that we had numerous good performances through the year. At Kansas, we qualified for Clearwater together.

We went to Nationals for a 3rd year together, we added Beth and Tyler to the room, which meant again…PIC and I were sharing a bed. Which apparently meant great races for the both of us. PIC taking 5th in her AG, and me 14th, both earning TEAM USA spots if we so choose to take them. Seeing her on the podium made me feel like I was on the podium, I kid you not.

Red hair extension…it was for CHARITY!

We went to Worlds in Australia with our different families, but we found a way to hook up and train everyday together. Training in unfamiliar adds a whole different crazy factor to things, but when we were together we seemed to have so much more confidence. It didn’t matter that we were riding on the wrong side of the road, we handled it together and we laughed a lot. Meeting up with Michelle was like a having a piece of home with me.

In AUS, training, note that we now have matching TT bikes, and non matching helmets, since I crashed and broke mine.

I think having each other there at World Championships paid off, we went 19th for PIC, and 30th for me, in our age group, in the world. And you know, PIC slept over in my hotel room the night before, I’m thinking that’s why we raced so well.

And at the end of the season we found each other in Clearwater, out there on the race course, and ran together for part of the race. It was almost poetic.


Michelle and I have learned through the years the value of having a training partner. I don’t think either of us could have ever imagined just how tight we would become. Going forward this year we have switched coaching, and we have switched team affiliation. It was a process that we relied heavily on each other to get through. Lots of leaning on each other, and a fair amount of tears.

It wasn’t easy, but you live, you learn, and you try to move forward with an open heart. With Michelle, I’m not afraid to tell her the truth, and she knows I’m in her corner 100%. I’m so extatic that the recent changes in our athletic career have brought us even closer together. I couldn’t imagine racing in a uniform that is different from hers, so I’m pretty stoked that this year we will be Twinkies again.

Having the same coach will enable us to continue to train together and to help each other achieve our goals. We have been very upfront with our new coach (who likes upfrontness) and he has instructed us to tattle on each other to our heart’s content (when it pertains to training). He seems to “get” our relationship and has an idea on how to use it to make each of us stronger.

We feel like we are a little mini-team this year. Our sponsors are the same, we represent them together, and although we are training towards different goals (as we have most years) I have no doubt that this year will yield lots more fun and silly pictures.

Thank you PIC, Michelley-elley, Fordy-Ford for all of your support, for being my “honesty” meter, for not making things harder than they need to be, for traveling with me, planning with me, schooling me in swimbikerun, for not holding it against me when I school you in bikerun, for sharing recipes, and photos, and lessons learned.

Here’s to another year of fun, we’re gonna kick ass!

Run Rabbit Run 50 miler

I’m not even going to explain how crazy it is that I signed up for the Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race. You all read my blog, you know where I’ve been. So, lets just get to the part that you all love, the race report.

I have a special treat for you this time too. Your gonna LOVE it! But, it’s at the end. Fine, skip all the way down there if you want to, whatever, It’s not like I’m up at midnight on a Sunday night writing this…

So, Friday morning Annie and I make the three hour drive to Steamboat Springs, CO for the Run Rabbit Run packet pickup. I immediately know this is gonna be cool. Despite the fact that I signed up for the race like 3 days prior (after begging) and the race director made me “Promise” that I would finish, I was pleasantly surprised to see my name and info on the list and the race director Fred meeting me personally at packet pickup and remembering me.

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Annie and I then rode the Gondola around and around a couple times (cause she’s 3, and that’s the kinda of thing 3 year olds get a kick out of) and then we headed back to the race meeting at 5pm. Annie was all hyped up from the gondola and proceeded to NOT behave herself, and answered questions the race director asked to the group like “Is Bill here?” Annie (loudly): “No”, Crowd: laughs.

I knew this was going to be good because Fred, the RD, was a hoot. It was the most hilarious pre race meeting I have ever been to, and after the many triathlon meetings I have been to recently it was refreshing. At one point he said “Your gonna run until you see Dick”. The crown erupted in laughter (Dick was to be at the turn around).

They gave away some fantastic raffle prizes from various sponsors (good stuff that runners like) and they interspersed the prizes with the talking (very smart). It was to be my lucky lucky day, I won the grand raffle prize! Lucky #192 won a two night stay in a two bedroom, two bath condo at the Torian Plum for next years race! Resort Quest donated the prize, so generous.

note: In my video below I state that Smartwool socks donated the condo, I was mistaken!

That evening Troy drove up in a rental car and once he walked in the door safely I hit the hay. 5am, I’m up-and-attum, dressed, Mix1ed and ready to go. Our hotel was about 20 steps from the start line. A quick checkin with Fred and 130 headlights were off and running.

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The course is 100% dirt and about 80% single track. It starts with 6 miles up up up the Steamboat Ski Resort on a dirt road that is quite steep. I ran some, I walked some. The sun came up during this time and it was quite beautiful. The sky was clear and I was calm and enjoying myself. You climb 3,450 feet up in the first 6 miles and then the remainder of the race is rolling, but staying at about 10,000 feet of elevation, with a net gain of about 9,000 feet of climbing over the entire 50 miles.

sunrise.jpg

At mile 5 I met Jenna Grubin for the first time. She was last years female champion and she also helps Fred with the race direction. We chatted while we walked up the last mile to the top of the resort. At mile 6 the rolling terrain began. It was gorgeous, exactly what you think of when you romanticize trail running. Trees all around with sporadic view of gorgeous vistas, and tiny alpine lakes. It was green and lush and I was eating it up. It was exactly the serenity and adventure I have become so addicted to.

Jenna and I stayed pretty close to each other (as we would for the entire race) as did a nice friend of hers whom I didn’t catch his name. She told me we were in the lead for the women. Oh dear. I wasn’t really wanting to go that direction with this race. I had strict instructions to not get hurt, and to chillax. And I WAS chillaxing. I just happened to be chillaxing in the front of the race.

I just tried to forget about it and have fun. Run MY race, enjoy MY adventure, celebrate MY fitness. So I did. I sang a lot when I was alone and I smiled a lot, even though I was just smiling at the trees and the birds. I came into aid #2 a little disoriented. Our drop bags were there so I ditched my hat, sunglasses and arm warmers. I felt like I could see the trail much better after that. Then I CRUISED. I just enjoyed life and running and the freedom of movement that I was feeling.

At Aid #3 I saw Fred the race director and I was back up with Jenna. Everyone of course knew her bc she organized all the volunteers, so I felt like I was running with a celebrity. Her next pit stop put me in the lead by about a minute and that’s about where I stayed for miles and miles and miles.

I was running through this beautiful meadow next to this perfectly still blue lake and there was Troy and Annie. I stopped and gave them hugs and kisses, and a few more kisses and I was on my way. Troy was equally shocked that I was the first lady coming through.

Aid #4 was AWESOME. They treated me so well. From there we had a big 2.5 mile climb up to the “Rabbit Ears”. It’s a local rock formation that you can see from miles around and we ran right up to them. The hills up to them were INSANE. I saw “Dick”, the official “You made it to the half way point” man, and I turned around and booked it down. My watch said about 5 hours.

The course is an out and back so I knew where I had to go. I flew back past Troy and Annie, and headed back up the next hill. I stopped for a pit stop and when I popped out of the trees Jenna was there. So, we ran together. It was so so nice. We both knew that either one of us could win, and she was the previous winner, so we talked about that a little. We both didn’t particularly have our sights set on winning. It was a pretty awesome conversation to have out there. We decided that if we were together at the finish we would hold hands and kiss to try to get on the front page of the newspaper. Then we laughed about that for a LONG TIME. We talked about life, and running, and marriage, and adventure. It was good times. Jenna is a wonderfully sweet woman, strong, inspirational, and giving. We ran together for 6-8 miles. Sometimes we would trade off leading. It was chill. We were both out there for the same reason, enjoyment.

Back through Aid #3 and Aid #2. Then things got harder for me. I took two gels and I felt really good. So I put my headphones in and cruised for a little while. I got a little gap on Jenna and then I didn’t feel so good and she took the lead.

In every long run, I have learned you have a “suffer section”. You just have to know it’s coming and you have to prepare ahead of time for it. The worst thing to do when you are in a suffer section is to just plod along. You need to get into your arsenal and start trying things. Hydration is #1, suck down some fluid and see if that helps. No? Nutrition. Get in some gels, or pull out your stashed treat and down that. Then, for me, I hunt down my Advil. I only do this if I am close to the end because it can mess with your salt absorption. After that, try verbal offloading. Get out your camera and take some video saying that you are hurting. Get it off your chest. No camera? Just pretend. Lastly, crank up the tunes, lie to yourself and pretend something is chasing you. If all that doesn’t work, then when all else fails, repeat over and over in your head “relentless forward motion”.

So, about mile 39 I get in my slump. I know I have 5 pretty uphill miles until I get to the top of the ski resort and I know they are going to hurt. I just start going through my arsenal. Did those miles hurt? Yea. Did it get worse? Not really. I kept myself busy trying to get out of my slump and I pushed on. It’s just part of the game. I also took 3 Advil in preparation for the downhill.

I finally drag myself up to the first aid station and the guy there says “Jenna has 5 minutes on you, you can still get her”. I look at him and say “I think I’ll let her have this one!”. Jenna is a great downhiller. She’s gonna fly, and I’m gonna enjoy myself.

The last 6 miles were awesome. The first one was 8:06, then 7:45, then 7:35, then 7:15, 7:15, and I don’t remember the last one. I was just letting my body fly down the hill. I was singing Black Eyed Peas at the top of my lungs and I was so stinking happy. That’s the thing with endurance running, everything can change in a split second. You HAVE to push through the tough times, because it WILL get better, guaranteed.

I ran into the finish shoot so dang happy. Fred was there to give me a huge hug. They have a designated hugger for every finisher. It’s a great perk. And Jenna too, she was there with big hugs. Just awesome. Jenna went 9:14! Smokin’

jenna.jpg

The after party was great, you got a wrist band that entitled you to free beer and pizza the rest of the night. So pretty much everyone hung around all evening watching the finishers and eating and drinking. It was very communal, and festive and very well done. The awards were these fantastic hand made platters. Just awesome.

After the awards ceremony I relieved Troy and Annie who had been volunteering for 5 hours at the finish line and I stayed there until 10pm to help the last finishers in. This was a really rewarding experience and something I urge you to do if you ever do an ultra marathon. It’s not like Ironman where the last hour has the most spectators. In an ultra, for the final finishers the only people there waiting is their families and to stand around and listen to just how proud the competitors families are is quite the gift. Best part of my day, hands down.

Plus, Fred has done ALL of the famous 100 milers in the US so I got to pick his brain! OOOH, and also…the best thing for your legs afterwards is to keep moving, and the volunteering helped out with that too.

So, my first 50 miler:
– Free lodging for next year
– Awesome race
– Awesome experience
– To Die for course
– 2nd woman
– 15th finisher
– 9 hours 20 minutes.
– made lots of new friends

A huge thanks goes out to all the volunteers for the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. This event was very well orchestrated. I will be back next year for sure. 5 out of 5 stars in my book. Also thank you to Smartwool for my schwanky lodging for next year.

Um, Troy, you did it again. You are always out there for me 100%. Always looking out for my best interests, and doing what needs to be done so that I can chase after these crazy goals. You’re always there to pick my tired bones up off the ground the next morning too. I love you.

Steve, thanks for saying to me “I know why you want to do this”. That meant a lot.

And now, your treat. You didn’t get a lot of photos in this post because…. I TOOK VIDEO! Yes, it’s the amazing comeback of Sonja’s wild trail running videos. By now the vertigo you got from my Grand Canyon video should be gone, so you should be ready for some more wild trail running action??

I switched from YouTube to Vimeo. I really like the format and intent of Vimeo. If the below video doesn’t work you can search vimeo.com for “gosonja” or “run rabbit run”. Enjoy (it’s 10 minutes)!

Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race from sonjawieck on Vimeo.

The Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race in Steamboat Springs Colorado, from my personal perspective as a runner. This was my first 50 mile race.