Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Jackpot Ultra 100 Running Festival

(Made by my running buddy Joshua at

100 miles??!! Did I really just do this?  Yes, my body is telling me I did but my brain is still trying to catch up.  I hope I can share my thoughts and feelings of this whole experience adequately enough for you, the reader, to enjoy yet at the same time to realize, it is a dream that any runner with a willing heart and the commitment to training can accomplish.  I'm not a super hero, or super elite running woman.  In fact, I still consider myself a regular, back of the pack, kind of running girl.  I'm not fast by any means.  I just find happiness in being around other runners out there doing what makes them happy too.   

So, how did I come to this decision of 100 miles?  Well, the easy answer would just be to say Cory Reese made me do it.  He was a great influence and I will be forever grateful for his inspiration.  Reading about his experiences is what probably gave me the courage to realize that maybe I can do this.  I am fascinated with long distances and have been for a long time.  I wasn't getting any younger and I thought if I was ever going to attempt something like this then I better get going on it soon. 
(Cory at mile 36 at the Jackpot Ultra 100)

This is the training plan I followed but didn't pick it up until around week 11, since I signed up for the race with only about 14 weeks of training before race day.  That was alright in my thinking though because I was already actively running before starting this specific training plan.  

Friday afternoon we headed on down to Vegas, where we stayed with my cousin in her beautiful home.  We drove over to Cornerstone Park to check out the surroundings and get a general idea of where I would be spending the next 30 hours.  We could see a lake, pathways, motion sensor light poles, dirt trails, public bathrooms, picnic areas and a little bit of grassy area.  I think it helped with the pre-race jitters to see that, however I didn't sleep very well that evening. 

I got up about 6:30 am Saturday morning and was ready to go by 7:15 am.  Cornerstone Park was only a 10 minute drive away so that was very ideal for those who would be coming and going throughout the day and night to help pace me.

The route we would be running was a 2.38 mile loop around the lake in a horseshoe shape, 42 times.  We would run the outer loop first and then make a big turn and head back on the inner loop.  I had set my stuff up right near the half way point and so I was able to have an aid station at the starting/finish line and half way through on the grassy area.  It was a very convenient set up.
The cutoff for completing the 100 miles was 30 hours and since this was my first hundred miler I was planning on using all 30 of those hours.  I had no idea what to expect, only that I WANTED desperately to just finish.  Mark, my dear husband, helped me get my stuff set up and hung around until the race started.   
Cory found us and set his stuff up by mine.  That was comforting for the fact that it meant I would at least see him once in awhile.  There is a great sense of calm and comfort in seeing a familiar face at a race when you are so far from home and attempting something like this for the first time. A couple of other sweet friends from home decided to come down and do the 6 hour event and so I was super happy about that as well.  London and Monte Riding have been friends for almost a year now and they make me smile daily through our Facebook conversations in our running group.  Another familiar face was Cinder, who lives in Vegas and was an amazing volunteer at the race.  She brought her massage table and hung out all day and night helping many people, not only with massage but at the timing table and the aid station.  THANK YOU CINDER! Those volunteers are really angels.  A race certainly couldn't be done without all they do.
London, Me, Cinder

After a big group picture and then listening to the Star Spangled Banner on the trumpet by a very like-able and well known ultra runner, Mr. Ed Ettinghauser, it was time for this party to get started.  And boy what a party was in store! OK, running may not be a party but hanging out with so many other amazing, fascinating ultra runners just felt incredible.  9:00 am and we were off! Would I really be out here 30 hours???
The temperatures were comfortable for most of the day with only a couple hours that were a little bit yucky. I was so grateful for some nice cloud cover but definitely wore my sunscreen.  I learned that lesson quickly from other experiences.  

I had told my mom and a couple other friends to text me or call anytime day or night.  I wouldn't be going anywhere except around and around in a circle and would definitely love some company or distraction once in awhile.  My friend Laurie Oldroyd called and wanted to see what the surroundings looked like so I took this picture to send to her.  You can see see way across the lake the starting/finish line area.  You can also see that the scenery just wasn't that gorgeous, but we had birds and geese honking at us throughout the day, hanging out in different places on the course.  Also, because the course ran all the way out and made a turn and then went back the opposite direction, we were always seeing other runners.  It was awesome to say hi and wave to everyone attempting this same crazy thing.
The first 32+ miles I wore this green shirt and then after feeling completely soaked from the warmth of the day I changed my top.  I had texted my family around 2 or 3 pm and said to come back and help me out.  They got my clothes, and other things needed, body glide, baby wipes, etc handed off to me to do a quick change in the bathrooms.  I said hi and goodbye quickly and headed out onto the course again.
It was amazing how completely refreshed I felt and ready to tackle some more miles at this point.  I had my ipod in and was enjoying some tunes, but sure wishing I could have a buddy to run with at this point. 
So as the day went on I just continued running and walking trying to not over exert myself and would see Cory occasionally.  He gave me some good advice to pretend like the race really starts at mile 60.  So, for now I needed to just conserve and run smart.  He talked about how he had definite places he would walk and had those specific places planned out every loop.  I probably should have used that strategy but didn't.  I went with the feeling of run when my body felt like it and walk when it didn't.  As long as I had some good music I was doing alright.  Cory's strategy worked wonderfully for him as he set a new 5 hour PR!  

As the day started turning to late afternoon and early evening we were then allowed pacers.  We could have any amount of pacers but only one at a time.  My sweet cousin, Laurie Brister, who opened up her home to our family (and gave Mark and I her king sized bed to sleep in) was the first that would join me.  She showed up around 6:40 pm.  She runs a little bit and has run one half marathon.  I wasn't sure how long she would be hanging out with me but I was more than thrilled when she ended up doing 14.25 miles with me!!  She just kept going around and around those loops with me, 6 times to be precise.  I think it was about 11 or 12 am when she finished up.  We must have been having so much fun together that we completely forgot to take a picture out on the course, so we got one on the morning after the race.  Yes, I'm standing but not for long in this picture. 
Another friend of mine who lives in Vegas came by with her husband.  I wanted her to run with me but she didn't feel ready.  Her husband ran half a loop with me.  They cheered for me though and made a cute sign and hung it in a tree so I could look at it as I went around the course.
It was so amazing to me how every encouraging text, sign, phone call, message on the phone, person pacing, people giving thumbs up, etc. just would give another little boost when I would start to feel tired and want to quit.  I will admit right now that I was tempted around mile 60 to just be done.  But I knew there were so many friends and family rooting for me that I just couldn't quit.  

After my cousin, Laurie was gone, and my friend Mike and Robin Ballard had left, I was alone for just a short amount of time.  Then, my most sweetest ever husband showed up. He brought me some avacados (yes I was craving that at 1:00 in the morning) and my recharged phone and garmin (I had two) that had died earlier in the day.  Like I said, it was nice to have my cousin live so close to the course.  Mark then ran 2 loops with me for a total of 4.8 miles.  It was dark outside, yet peaceful and just so comforting having him there with me.  I had no idea he was planning to be there in the night for me.  It was about 12-1:30 am that he spent with me and I was so grateful.  Once again no picture. I think my brain had gone to sleep for the night.
Somewhere later in the evening Cinder wanted to give me a hug from all my Facebook Running friends back home who were asking about my progress and cheering me on.  THANK YOU to all of you!  You know who you are!  I felt very supported and loved by all of you.
Somewhere around mile 45 I was enjoying some luscious cheesecake.  I did have a few times in the day and night where I would get nauseated and wasn't sure if I needed more food, less food, more water, less water, more salt tabs?  It's all a challenge to figure out the fueling.  Some gingerale and pretzels usually worked the best when this issue came up.  

After Mark was done pacing me, a girl who lives 2 hours North of me wanted to pace.  I had only met her once briefly at a race last month and then we conversed at length on Facebook.  She had talked about wanting to be part of this experience with me.  I was cautious because I didn't know her, yet I realized that this could be a huge blessing for me.  She told me she was going to be in town and to text her anytime in the night when I was ready for help.  I texted her at 1:30 am and she arrived not too much later.  

Around 4:00 am my son also showed up and surprised me.  He did one loop with me and I was super happy about that.  He got to see a little bit of what ultra runners experience as we came upon a woman who was really struggling.  She was crying and needing a boost.  We hung out with her for quite a long distance and shared stories and helped cheer her up.  
We watched the moon go across the sky and at mile 85 stopped for a picture before the moon was gone.

This sweet girl, Robin Williams, who dropped everything and came to help me, hung out with me all through those lonely, dark hours of the night from around 2:00 am until about 8 in the morning.  The weather was a little cool and I wore sometimes one jacket and sometimes two.  I was very grateful for such beautiful conditions though.  I knew the heat would be coming though when the sun came up, but boy did I ever want to see that sunrise.  
She stayed with me for about 20 miles and we just talked all night long about anything and everything, but mostly about running.  What a great support and such a selfless act for me a stranger but now forever friend.  Here we are saying good-bye as she is leaving around mile 91.  I still had 4 more laps to go.

 I had 9 1/2 miles left!  I could do this!  I was tired and dragging and barely running at all.  Occasionally, I would muster some strength and shuffle along for a little bit but it was challenging.  The sun was pounding down now and it was getting super hot.  There was no cloud cover this morning.  I slathered on some more sunscreen and just tried to finish those last few miles.  Mr. Ed Ettinghauser, the guy who played the trumpet for the opening of the run yesterday was coming up behind me as I had 3 laps left.  He was walking most of the whole course due to an injury.  It was pretty amazing to watch him walk so fast with those long legs.  I hooked up and visited with him and his nephew for a complete loop.  I asked about what keeps a person wanting to do these 100 mile races multiple times?  I just don't think I personally have it in me.  But Ed here, he is going for the record of most 100 mile races done in a calendar year.  That is just crazy, yet impressive!!  I felt honored to be able to see him finish.  I still had 2 more loops to do and was just so done both mentally and physically.   

Little did I know what was in store for me as I was anxious and worried about finishing this race alone.  I looked up and saw my husband there waiting for me.  I gave him a big hug!  He was there to finish my race with me and I just about cried.  He will never know the joy that brought to me.  We carried on continuing down the course.
I had seen this specific poster (there were a few others) along the course and loved it.  Mark took a picture of me with it.  I thought the first 2 statements were so appropriate at this very time of the race! I most definitely needed to keep thinking positive and just keep breathing deeply to get this done!  
I only had one loop left after this and I just dug in deep and finished the job!  When I figured out about how long I would be out there and that I could make it under 26 hours I pushed a little harder to break that time.

25 hours 49 minutes and 33 seconds later 
I crossed the finish line to my first 100 mile race!

I was elated, relieved, grateful for life, family, friends and so happy to have had this experience and to also be done!!!
I crossed that finish line and received my medal and belt buckle.  Cory Reese, my friend and inspiration was there to greet me and cheer for me as well as my family. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to so many people who helped make this happen for me.  It's definitely not a solo experience.  There were dark times in the night when it just felt too overwhelming and I would just break down and cry.  There were phone calls from special people who brought so many emotions to the surface.  There were some absolutely amazing texts from a dear sweet friend, Julia Hubbard, who has been where I have been and knew what to say to help buoy up my spirits. And I'm forever grateful!
 The ultra experience is a profound one, and worth doing at least once!

When we gathered all my stuff and headed back to my cousin's house I was hungry and all I wanted was a big fat sweet potato.  So that was my first after-race meal.  A couple hours later after an ice bath and hot shower and putting on jammies I had a soft flour chicken taco and soft flour beef taco, filled with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and cheese!  That hit the spot magically and then I headed to bed! Lights out for this lady!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No Snow Indoor Run-January 18, 2014

An indoor race? In the middle of Winter? What a fun concept!  One of our local colleges, Utah Valley University, puts on an indoor 5K to benefit the Habitat for Humanity here in the valley.  It's a very decent price with early registration being only $10.00.  That includes a t-shirt and a breakfast afterwards.  What a deal!  I ran this last year and had a fabulous time so decided I would do it again.  My training called for 30 miles and I knew I wouldn't be doing that all here at the college.  I wanted to get as much done as I could though because the remainder mileage was just going to be done at home on the treadmill, and running with friends is so much more fun.  My friend Josh, and Vince both wanted to get a lot of extra mileage in so we met up early, (it was actually still pretty dark outside) and we headed into the very quiet, empty halls of UVU. Have you ever been inside a college that felt totally deserted?  It was a little weird feeling.
We put in some good solid mileage before more people started showing up.  By the time the race started we had a good 5-6 miles completed.  When a few other friends started showing up I stopped to visit and take photos.  Vince kept running because he needed to get home by a certain time to his family and had a goal for his mileage for the morning.  I did too but sometimes socializing just takes over my running.  I know it's a problem but I can't help it sometimes.
Mark and Jill Gabica and their little girl who just turned 3 came this year again and so they were taking her along for the 3 miles.  She actually ran a lot of it herself. Way to go little Addison!  Of course there's my friend Josh who ran a lot of my miles today with me.  I think I finished with a total for 12 miles before I went home to finish up on the treadmill.
Some of our socializing involved laughing at our goofy hair and silhouettes in front of the gigantuous map of the course.
A huge pancake and a little cup of oatmeal with brown sugar were a couple of delicious things offered after the race was over.  

This was a super fun race and I had a great time running up and down the halls of a college.  I almost felt like a principal should be coming around a corner at any time telling us to stop running.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Revolution Run-January 11, 2014

I love this run. This was my 4th time running an event here at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.  Today's event was a 5 hour timed event, from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.  If you run 96 laps then it's a marathon.  48 laps would be a half marathon. My training schedule calls for a 30 mile run today which actually puts me at needing over 100 laps.  See how excited I am about this?  Actually I'm trying not to think about it yet.  Just happy to be here and get my bib put on and get this running party started.
I decided since I needed so many laps I wanted to try and get a few done before the race actually started. A few of my FB friends from Runner's Anonymous were also planning to run here and so I was excited to get to see them again. We have been trying to plan more running events and parties because we have such a great time together.  

My friend Monnica wanted a ride with me and so I picked her up super early,  like around 5:30 am.  I got to the oval about 6:30 am and started running a little before 7:00 am.  I was a little worried of how I was going to keep track of my laps because the Garmin doesn't work inside.  I used a trusty little pad of paper and a marker.  I just kept track with my fingers as I ran around.  When I did 5 laps I would stop and make the tally marks.  I was able to get 16 laps in before the race started.  I kept getting distracted as more running friends kept coming because I wanted to stop and visit them.  Once the race started we had a chip on our bib that kept track for us but I still wanted to be sure so after every ten laps I would stop and mark it down.  My running friends knew what I was doing and wrote a cute little note to me on my paper.  They call me Mama Duck! That made me smile big when I saw their cute words.  Little things make me happy!

Running friends-Quesnel, Joshua, Robert, Me, Becca
Holding up 8 fingers indicating 8 laps.
My friend Robert Merriman was so kind to run a whole bunch of laps with me and keep me going strong.  It gets a little monotonous going round and round and round, but when you have someone to talk to it helps pass the time so much better.
Sometimes I was running alone and that wasn't as much fun.  Where did all my friends go?
HERE THEY ARE!  Monnica, Me, Quesnel, Elvia, Christy, London and Monte
 Robert, Christy, Elvia, Quesnell, Me
Josh has been one of my oldest running friends.  Not that I'm that old, trust me! But we have both been on this running journey almost the same amount of time and have run a lot of races together.  So that makes it feel like we have been running friends for a very long time.  He has become quite the baker/cook/chef.  He creates new concoctions of Rice Krispy Treats and calls them RK's.  He made a new batch for all of us running friends running at the oval today.  It has brownie mix, and peppermint patties in them.  I absolutely love mint!  He made a yummy one back in November that had snickers in them but this one by far exceeded that one!  Mint and chocolate just speak to my soul and this treat hit the spot perfectly while running.  I may have eaten 3 of them while running. Don't mind the extra chocolate in my teeth.  I was probably saving that for later.  After he had left and I went over to the table to record more laps on my piece of paper there were more RK treats for me.  What a nice boy!  I don't think those treats made it home.  I probably enjoyed some after-race goodness while driving in the car. 

Today was a great experience and helped build my confidence for my first 100 mile race coming up on February 15th.  I just want to finish.  I don't care how long it takes me.  I just want to know what it feels like to travel that far on foot.  Stay tuned.....

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The New Year's Half Marathon-January 4th, 2014

The New Year's Half Marathon was a race I ran last year in 2013 and swore I wouldn't do it again because of how bad I froze.  This year I was getting a little peer pressure from my friend, Jonathan Crampton, the RD to sign up and then maybe some more of my friends would too.  I told him I was waiting for a weather forecast.  Something about starting a race when it's 0 degrees outside is just not appealing at all to me.   I told him if I didn't run then I would come volunteer and help out.

About 10 days before the race I started watching the forecast and it was looking better than usual.  In fact 22 degrees for the forecast high of the day was looking way more promising than anticipated, so I went ahead and signed up.  I also encouraged a few of my friends to come join in on the fun.  Isn't that what races are all about, to have fun with other crazy running peeps?
Me, Becca, Josh, London, Monte, Janet, and Robert-all friends in our FB group, Runner's Anonymous, that make me laugh and smile everyday.  It's impossible to get on the FB page on any given day and not have one of these people say something to just make you happy. 

I got to the race start about an hour early thinking since this isn't a chip-timed race we could start basically when we wanted.  Although there was a definite start at 8:00 a.m.  We just kept track of our own time and reported it at the end.  When I arrived there were already a lot of people here and more coming every few minutes.  I got all my photo taking done and out of the way so that I wouldn't have to worry about taking pictures during the run.
Josh and London
with Adrian Toledo, who keeps everyone smiling and having a good time at any race he attends.
Adrian and Carl Grimaud who I met trail running this Fall.
 with Jeff Smith another one I met trail running.
with my very sweet, speedy friend Jenn whom I see often at the gym getting after it and Coach Don Bigger
Galen Garrison, a huge inspiration in running ultra races.  He teaches me much.  Monnica is just super fun!
Robert, Becca, Janet, and Josh showing off their bling after the race was over.  Although we did get our medals before we even ran the race.  I know that's weird but there were only 100 medals ordered and so the RD wanted to give those people who had pre registered their medals first.  Those who signed up on race day will get a medal later.  
Monte and London Riding, Me, Galen

I'm so excited to get to run my first 100 mile race in just 2 weeks with Monte and London being there.  They will be doing the 6 hour event and London may possibly come back and be with me later in the evening.  

Well, after seeing so many running friends, taking pictures, talking way too much, using the bathroom and getting all ready to go we headed outside a little before the rest of the group.  We got about a 20 minute head start and basically there were about 6 of us that stayed together for almost the whole race.  We had a good time together.  It was definitely cold but as long as we were moving it was fine.  Another running FB friend Cindy Hills, joined up with us for a few miles while we were running, since she lived in one of the cities we ran through.  When we got back to the place we started there was pots of chili, baked potatoes, yogurt, and chocolate milk there for us to enjoy.  Sorry, I have no pictures of the food.  Once again I started chatting and visiting with anybody that would talk to me.  I think I have become a bit of a social runner.  I'm still trying to decide if I run these races for the physical or social aspect of them.  Regardless, I have a good time.
 Certainly not a bad time when running with a bunch of people and taking a few potty stops along the way.
I do love a cute little medal, especially now that I have a place to hang medals.  For Christmas my dear hubby made me a really cool rack to hang my medals on.  They no longer are all crammed into a cupboard.
Every time I pull the car into the garage there they are.  It's all my memories of running right there hanging on a wall.  Somebody asked me why not put them in the house on a wall?  Well, I don't know why but me and hubby thought this wall in the garage was just a good spot.
I got all my medals out and wrote on the back of each and every one of them the date of the race, the distance and my time.  I have them hanging in order from left to right of my first race down to the most recent.  It's going to take me a super long time to fill this rack since hubby put 139 pegs in that 10 foot long board.  I started using the whole top part first and then will go to the bottom section when the top is filled.