Shannon & Pam, after months of training, officially became ultrarunners with finishing Way Too Cool 2010 (3/13/10). They continue to run the long distances as they continue to challenge themselves physically & mentally. This is where they post those triumphs and also their tribulations.

September 26, 2010

SNERS Victory! Shannon

This says it all!
Yesterday was my final hoorah for the year and my first trail marathon, actually first marathon period!  I survived and finished - yeah!

If you've been one of our patient readers and have been following my training for this race, you know I've struggled on several runs leading up to yesterday.  Well, although those training runs were rough, we learn from them, not to mention, even if they're rough runs, they are great mental training days!  If I've learned nothing else about myself, I've learned that I'm a fighter and survivor!

Yesterday morning the weather was perfect, that is good news and bad news all in the same 4 little words when you are talking about a long run!  When you start in the dark and it's nice enough that you don't need long sleeves, that tells you it's gonna be warm/hot later in the day.

Early morning happiness
photo by Ralph
There were quite a few of us FTRs running the marathon and we all met up before the start.  What a high, knowing you've got lots of friends out there on the trails!  I did receive a bummer message before I left to come to the race, Jennifer woke up with a fever and sore throat - NNNNOOO - she was my buddy for the day, since Pam wasn't running this.  Now who am I gonna run with?  I DON'T want to run this alone!

Ralph is the guy in the black shirt behind me.  He was my honorary turtle yesterday.  Mindy is the gal in white standing, she also earned an honorary turtle status (although I told her it would only last until she kicked our asses at the next race)
Well Ralph ended up being my buddy for about 18 miles, he earned his honorary turtle status.  Unforturnately, he started to slow and feel nauseas, although I didn't realize this until he caught up to me at the Cardiac Hill aid station.  He wasn't doing good!  He ended up not continuing :(.

However, I didn't have to go on alone!  Sitting at the bottom of Cardiac Hill was Mindy, who also was not having a good day.  She was going through exactly what I went through on my last big training run out there.  Serious nausea, heat, and being alone!  She had been sitting there for a while, so she decided she was going to give it a try and keep going.  So we started our ascent!

Ok, so this portion of the trail I have never experienced! OMG, now I know why it's called Cardiac Hill.  I don't know exactly how far it goes, but it feels as though it goes 5 miles UP!  There are false tops, which is cruel!  It's all single track and has a lot of switchbacks, so you never know when you're getting close to the top.  But you do know you're done when you hit the canal - oh what a sweet site that was!  That hill alone is enough to make you rethink if you'd be willing to do this race again!

We had to stop A LOT to catch our breaths on that climb!  Mindy was really struggling, but I wasn't gonna leave her alone!  No way, no how!  Having been in her situation, I know how much you need someone with you to help you get through it!  The mental game that happens when you don't feel good and you're alone on the trails - YA NOT GOOD!

When we hit the canal we walked a lot, which actually helped me too.  My legs had become really fatigued climbing Cardiac, and I welcomed the walk!

As we came to the end of the canal, I picked up the pace as I knew we were getting close to the FTR aid station at ADO.  I was a like a horse to barn.  I knew Pam was there and all my FTR friends, I totally got a 2nd wind.  I never allowed myself to get too far ahead of Mindy though, and I think she felt the same about getting to the aid station (horse to barn).

Me coming into the ADO aid station - I know I'm a goofball!
Photo by Pam

Me at ADO aid station, feeling good!
Photo by Pam
What an awesome welcome!  The cheers from everyone totally gave me a high!  I love our group!!  Pam was there taking pics, Jenni grabbed my bottle and hydration pack and refilled everything, everyone made sure I had what I needed.  My concern was on Mindy and I wanted to make sure she was getting what she needed.

All the way from Cardiac to ADO she was pretty sure she wasn't going to continue to the finish.  But she's a fighter and a survivor, and when I asked her if she was gonna finish with me, she said YES, but she needed a few more minutes.  I said no problem, you just let me know when you're ready!  I was feeling great and motivated, but also patient.  I knew I wasn't going to meet my goal of sub 7 hours, but I was ok with that!  I was helping a friend and it also helped me as I didn't push myself too hard, therefore, I was feeling really good!

Us leaving ADO onto the finish at No Hands
Photo by Pam
We got going, knowing it was pretty much all down hill from there.  I hadn't run this portion of the trail for over a year, but I knew it started downhill and then we'd be exposed on rolling hills.  Well, I guess I didn't know that the RD Julie Fingar would send us on a different path - gggrrr.  We came to one point where we had to take a sharp left turn and wham - straight up hill - WTF!  They lied!  It's not all downhill from ADO to No Hands - gggrrrr.

The evil last hill we had to climb before the finish.
Well we started climbing and came across a double marathoner on her way back and she said, if it's any consolation, IT IS all down hill after you clear this hill.  I said are you sure?  You're not lieing?  She said no because she's been walking all the way from No Hands up hill.  Well she was right. The nice thing about the change in course is it took us off the exposed rollers and put us on a covered single track that was all down hill.  Which is good and bad.  By the time we got down to the bottom of this, my knees weren't too happy.  But, they shut up and we started on the ugly exposed rollers.

We had to stop once so that Mindy could rest, then we continued on.  Running when we could and walking.  Then we started seeing the signs.  I said we've got to be within a mile of the finish.  I came across a sign I wanted to take a pic of and Mindy kept walking.  The next thing I know she's yelling "I see it, I see it!"  She was seeing the finish line.  Well what do you do when you see the finish line within your sights?  You start running with enthusiasm, no matter how bad you feel.  She took off, then I took off.

Mindy ahead of me on No Hands Bridge coming into the finish chute.
Photo by Pam
Ya, Mindy is faster than me in general, and still faster than me even when she feels like crap!  She beat me!  But I'm ok with that because she would've beat me even if she didn't feel like crap!  We finished with most of our FTRs sitting at the finish patiently waiting for us!  It was great!  Pam was there, Bryan, Cathleen, and Chris.  All of them had finished way before we did and they waited - Thanks!!

I'm finishing - my offical finish time 7:14:03, happy to say I didn't finish last :)
Photo by Pam
They had popsicles at the finish - OMG - that was the best popsicle I've had in years!  Pam also had a PB&J and Corona waiting for me!  She is so awesome.  I wasn't ready for either, all I wanted was the popsicle.

Mindy and I at the finish with our popsicles
Photo by Pam
 Mindy and the rest of the FTRs caught the next shuttle back to Cavitt and Pam and I headed to her car.  I finished my popsicle, then on the drive back ate my PB&J.  YUM!  We headed back to the ADO aid station and that's where I enjoyed my Corona while standing in the canal giving my legs an ice bath - wow that felt great.

Photo by Pam
We stayed there for a bit talking to Diane, then we headed back to Cavitt.  Went in to see what was going on.  Double Marathoners were coming to Cavitt and only 1 had finished so far.  This guy was fast.  Pam got a hamburger, and I put my name on the list for a massage with Lily.  After Pam finished her burger she headed home and I stayed and hung out with Lily and the gang.  Lily is the wife of Coach Nikon of Fleet Feet.  Nickname given by Trailmomma and I got to see Coach Nikon come in.  I believe he finished 5th overall, 4th man, and 1st in his AG!  That was neat to see.

The massage from Lily felt great.  I had her work on my upper back and shoulders as they were tight from the hydration pack.  I almost felll asleep on her table.  I was difinately feeling tired, although I didn't realize it until getting the massage.

Today was a great day.  I wish all my runs could be like this.  I give a lot of credit to my success on this run to Diane Cressey who has helped me with my nutrition and most recently with her Balanced Runners Workouts.  Without these workouts, my core wouldn't be as strong as it is, and I know I would be much more sore than I am.  Thank you Diane!! I can say that I didn't hurt at all yesterday, although my hip flexors are little sore today.  If you recall from past races, I've been so sore that I had to walk downstairs backward, not this time :)

I'd also like to give huge thank you to my chiropractor who patiently kept adjusting me every couple of weeks cause I consistently trash myself, Dr. Steve.  He can't wait for me to take a break :).

Dr. Steve, you'll be happy to know that I am done for the season!  I will continue to get in at least 2 runs a week, one short and one no longer than 10-13 miles, but I want to focus on my new pation, mountain biking.  I am still considering doing the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run/Obstacle Course on Halloween, as that will be just a fun and muddy run, no longer than 6 miles.  It's on my radar!  But other than that, I'm not considering any more races until Way Too Cool 2011.  Which I will attempt to get into.

I plan to keep this blog going, although, it will focus on a lot of other stuff than just trail running.  Please follow me and my new pation of Mountain Biking, it should be just as up and down as my trail running.

In the meantime, stay dirty!

September 12, 2010

Mucho mejor! Shannon

Much better............

Yesterday's Quarry Road was a huge success for me and a huge ego boost!  A much needed ego boost.

Me discussing our options on routes and distances to the group
I intended to only do 16-17 miles yesterday, but we ended up doing 19.  Which was OK!  I was feeling good, the weather was perfect, and I never got left behind (well not for very long anyways).  I had plenty of water and plenty of food to keep me going.

Folsom Trail Runners
Fifteen of us started off on the Quarry Road all together, however, Pam and several other ladies had only intended to do 6-7 miles so we left them to head up the Wendell T. Robie trail (part of the Way Too Cool 50k trail).  As it turned out, they too did more than they had planned and did about 9.5 miles - way to go girls!

The girls leaving us.  Pam giving me a pose. :)
The rest of us (8) kept going on the Quarry Trail till we hit Brown's Bar (also apart of the Way Too Cool 50k).  It was truly awesome to be back on these trails.  I had forgotten just how much I really like these trails.  The creek crossings were very low so easily crossed without getting your feet wet and there was no mud on the trails - so nice.

The start of the climb up Brown's Bar
What made this a real treat was that Nancy and Kamran had never been on these trails and they were in total awe.  Their enthusiasm of the trail really rubbed off on me and I had a really good time.

Once we climbed Brown's Bar we connected with the Wendell T. Robie trail heading toward Ball Bearing (the top of).  Nice and easy rolling single track, just awesome.

Once we came out of this area it was time for water refills and we headed over to the ALT area for water.

ALT Water stop
Then started our climb toward Dead Truck.  As we got to the turn for Dead Truck, we realized that we were going to really exceed our 16-17 mile jaunt and decided to not go Dead Truck as that would bump us up to approximately 21 miles, most of us weren't prepared for 21, so we opted to cut down a side trail that would then connect us to the bottom of Dead Truck, still allowing us to cross one of the major creeks we had to cross during Way Too Cool.

The end of the Quarry Road, the start of our return to the cars
Once again, the group patiently waiting for us stragglers
Once we came out of this area we were now at the bottom of Ball Bearing and at the end of the Quarry Road.  Only 5.5 miles to go. I tend to start to struggle at this point.  I have a hard time on fire roads, not sure why, but I just do.  This portion of the Quarry Road isn't all fire road, but most of it is, so I started to walk a lot more during this time and of course, lost my buddies.  But Nancy and Kamran were patiently waiting for me at the last mile and I finished up with Nancy. Thanks Nancy.

All in all just a fabulous run and now I'm feeling better about my upcoming marathon, although, it won't be on these nicely shaded, tree covered trails, but I think I know what I need to do now and will just take it extra easy that day.

Me enjoying ice cold water provided by Jay back at our cars - oh so yummy
Today, Mark and I took a short bike ride in our neighborhood, which allowed us to test our stamina on the New York Creek trail.  We only did 5.9 miles, but Mark says that was a much harder ride than riding around Lake Natoma!  I totally agree.

I didn't take any pics of flowers this time, so this is provided by Kamran
Thanks Kamran, I always need a flower pic from my runs:)
Have a great week.

September 5, 2010

Survival! Shannon

I'm a survivor!  No matter how bad things look, no matter what is put in my path of life, I always manage to push through it.  Oh don't get me wrong - I may whine, I may cry, I may even throw a temper tantrum, but I always come out of it as a survivor and as a result a little more stronger, mentally and sometimes physically.

Yesterday proved to be a day of survival!  The night before (Friday) I first had an emotional breakdown due to life's challenges just pushing me to the breaking point.  I cried, cried a little more, then said enough!  "You know what you need to do, stop with the pity party."  However, because of my current mental status Friday night, I didn't sleep well - strike one when heading out for a LONG HOT RUN!

One of the challenges that hit me Friday night was that once again my truck's radiator sprung a leak - what does that mean $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ out the door, that of which we don't have right now.  But luckily it's a slow leak, we added some water, Mark filled up a couple of gallons of water and I put it in the back of my truck as I needed my truck for the run.  I promised a cooler full of ice and water when runners showed up to ADO after 22 miles in the sun.

Thankfully, I made it up to Auburn nicely, no overheating at all - yeah.  Then the next blow came.  First, let me step back a minute, I found out Friday night that Pam would not be joining me on the trails (heel pain) - yikes!  So I checked with Jennifer to see if she was still going and she said yes - phew - ok I won't be on the trails by myself.  Well when I got to ADO, Mary proceeded to tell me that she and Jen would be heading out early to run with Diane Forrest - yikes - I guess I'm alone once again.  Now my emotional status is already on the edge, but I said, I can do this and I'll be fine.

Caught a ride down to Cavitt with Marc Meyers and met up with all the other awesome FTRs.  We truly have a GREAT group of people.

FTRs rock
So I then decided I need to use the restroom and proceed to jog over to my favorite bushes to pee, which requires me to step over a wire fence.  I get done with my business and head back to the group.  As I step over the fence, my foot gets caught and down I go, flat on the ground. NICE!  I pop up in hopes that no one saw me, ya right, Mike Giomi yells across the parking lot ARE YOU OK!  Yes Mike I'm fine! LOL

Me wiping myself off after my rumble with the ground!
Only got a little scraped up, no big deal.  Got back to the group and wiped the dirt off of me and wiped my boo boos.  Luckily nothing hurt, other than the ego.  Only I could fall down before a run!  I have no problem staying upright on the trails, but going pee before a run can prove to be challenging.

The bruise from my fall that I discovered after I got home.  Today it's much darker!
We all took off and I was quite pleased that I had Nancy and Kamran hanging back at my pace.  It was nice to not be alone.  We caught up to Leslie, Trish and Kym at one point.  Then when we all hit Twin Rocks where we met up with Marc.  We all headed out together, and at some point Trishy couldn't take our pace any more and darted off - she's like a little rabbit.  Apparently though, she ended up suffering a little by not sticking with us, but she survived and made it back to ADO!

Leslie and I at Twin Rocks
Luckily Mary had dropped water at Horseshoe Bar as Kamran had completely run out and we were all pretty low, but filling Kamran's pack was priority since he had none.  Once we had him filled up the rest of us split what was left (as we were the last group), used what ice we could and headed out.
Stopping to enjoy the view

View of the lake
Nice cool area to stop and enjoy!
We all stuck together until we hit Rat Bar, where Leslie had dropped her car as Kym and Leslie only planned on doing 12 miles.  They also dropped water there, which was greatly needed.  We all topped off our water, had a bite to eat, said our goodbyes to Kym and Leslie and headed out.  I was still feeling just fine at this point, mentally and physically.

As we crossed through the Rat Bar area, I needed to make a pit stop so I let Marc, Nancy, and Kamran pass.  At that point, I kind of lost them.  I wasn't able to catch back up until we hit the oasis (horse watering troph) at Avery Pond.  But apparently, Marc could no longer take our pace and had taken off.

Nancy and I looking for the turtles
I love Avery Pond as there are turtles in the pond and every time I go by there I look for them.  Sometimes they are really hard to find and sometimes you never see a one.  But today we got a tiny bit lucky and I was able to get one pic of one in the water.

Can you see the turtle?
After Avery Pond is when I started to struggle (approx 14.5 miles in).  I could no longer keep up with Nancy and Kamran.  I started getting nauseous and I knew I needed to eat, but just couldn't force myself to try to eat.  I did pop a ginger candy in hopes that that would cure the nausea, as it's done in the past.  But it didn't help.  I think at about 16 miles, I sat down on a rock and forced myself to eat a quarter of a pb&j sandwich.  It went down, but I didn't enjoy it.  At that point I thought about crying, but I said nope, better keep moving.  Shortly thereafter, I saw horses, that made me feel better, I love seeing the horses on the trails, they are magnificent animals.

The last pic I would take for the day!!
Ok Shannon you're not TRULY all alone out there, and I did have another runner cross my path.  But then I was all alone again.  By this time, I can only walk, there is no run left in me.  The mind starts to really mess with you when you're not feeling good, and you're having a pity party out on the trails by yourself.  At one point I heard leaves rustling above me and the adrenaline started pumping.  I caught a glimpse of what I heard and I believe it was a deer, because it stopped moving the moment is saw/heard me!  But that adrenaline helped me pick up the pace a bit and I actually got in a little run - yeah for me.  The runner who had crossed my path earlier was now headed back my way, so that made me feel better too, ok whatever was back there didn't eat him, so all is good!

So now I'm picking up the pace a bit, not much, but some, getting in a little run here and there and before I know it I come around the corner and there's my savior, Jennifer, sitting in the mini creek!  I have never been so happy in my life to see someone as I was at that very moment.  I immediately sat right down next to her and almost started to cry, but held my composure!  We sat for a few minutes while I cooled my temps, sterilized some water, got as much of my stuff wet as possible and then we climbed out of the oasis back into the beating sun and heat.  This was at approximately 18 miles.

We proceeded to walk the rest of the way as 90% of what was left in order to get back to ADO was uphill.  We stayed on the roads, for the most part, and just hiked our way back up to our cars.  I was so happy to see my truck - I DO LOVE MY TRUCK!

And of course I can't do a long ass run without taking a pic of my feet!!
We threw down some towels and layed on the grass for about half hour, snacking and drinking (rootbeer and coke).  It felt so good to just lie there in the shade.  We chatted and commiserated.  She then needed to head down to No Hands to pick up Mary and Annette who decided to go the distance - flippin die hards.

I think I've come to the realization, although I've known this for many many years, that I don't deal well with the heat.  Now add running in the heat, with the sun beating down on you, all alone on the trails, yeah it's a recipe for disaster.

I am questioning whether I should try to do the Sierra Nevada Endurance Marathon now.  However, I found out that Jen will be doing it, albeit only if the weather stays below 100 degrees.  So, I've decided that if she does it, I'll do it, as I know I'll have a buddy out on the trail!  This will be my last long run/race for the rest of the year and I won't consider doing another long run race until Way Too Cool in March 2011.  It's time to step back and do the other things in life that I truly enjoy - family, quilting and golfing.  I won't stop running, just cut way back on the mileage.

Till next time, stay dirty.

September 3, 2010

Dirt Inspires! Shannon

Wow - yet another awesome race on an awesome trail!

Dirt Inspires! Women's only Trail Half Marathon takes place in Aptos, California, which is aproximately 3 hours away from the Sacramento area on the coast! (yes, Pam and I had to leave Sacramento at 4:45a, needless to say we were just a little tired) It's in the The Forsest of Nisene Marks State Park, which is absolutely gorgeous.  One day I'd like to go back and walk the trails so that I can truly take in the beauty of this trail.  90% Redwood tree cover keeps you nice and cool and rarely the need for sunglasses.  Although it was not a hot day, the weather was perfect for a morning race.  I was quite comfortable in my Trail Turtle shirt and leggings.

There were 7 of us there representing the Folsom Trail Runners which was really cool!!

The race starts and finishes in the Aptos Village Park which is up the road to the entrance of the State Park.  When you start the race, you first have to climb out of the Village Park area, then you continue on a road for approximately 1.5 miles before you get to jump on a single track (which is a climb up), then at mile 2 you come off the single track to your first of 5 aid stations - yes, you heard me right, there are 5 aid stations for this half TRAIL marathon - unheard of!!  Then you are back on a fire road for another mile or so, then a short jaunt on another single track, then back on road til you hit aid station #2 at mile 4.  The road portions of this run are the hardest for me and I really struggle with them (knees).  But after that you are on single track until you come back up out of the "forest" at mile 9.

While in the "forest" area you get to cross creeks.  Last year, being the fairly new trail runner that I was, I tip toed through the creeks to keep my tootsies dry.  Not this year!!! I plowed through the water around all the other ladies tip toeing through the water.  It was a blast.  I'm sure I pissed off a few, but oh well, I was having way too much fun!  Also during this portion of the trails there is a lot of down hill technical stuff, heavy roots, trees to duck under and go around, tight turns with narrow ledges - awesome, awesome, awesome!  I was in heaven!  This is what I'm good at.  I may be a Turtle and I may have to walk the uphills, but I can fly on the downhills and through the extremely technical stuff.  At one point I was stuck behind a few ladies and asked if I could shoot by them, and of course they let me by and I flew!  I heard them say, "Wow, you really did SHOOT by us!"  LOL  too much fun!

Pam & Shannon's blurry pic on the trail
Pam and I stuck together through approximately 7 miles.  Pam was struggling with a migraine, but was lucky to get some Excedrin at the aid station at mile 6.  However, when we hit the downhill stuff, there was no holding me back.

Coming up out of the "forest" area put me back on the same route we were on to get into that area and I found that to be a major bummer, cause now I was back on the roads - yuck!

I find that I struggle on the flat stuff, especially flat ROADS.  I tend to slow down, so I really have to think about picking up the pace, but sometimes its tough.  My knees starting talking to me with approximately 2 miles left, but I ignored them.  I told 'em I didn't have time to chat and that they needed to be quiet!! LOL - oh if only it were that easy.

Anyways, I made it to the finish line upright and not in too much pain.  I was really disappointed when I saw my time!  This was the second time we did this race and this year I'm in much better shape, better trained, 14 pounds lighter, ran through the water, pushed the hills, etc., etc. and I finished 20 seconds SLOWER than last year - WHAT??? How can that be???? Can someone please explain this to me, because I'm completely flabergasted by this!
Shannon finishing

Pam finishing
Next year, I've got something to prove!!

Shannon & Pam with their finisher's medals
This weekend brings my last long run before the Sierra Nevada Endurance Marathon at the end of September.  We are running point to point from Granite Bay (Cavitt Middle School) to Auburn (ADO - Auburn Damn Overlook).  I'm actually looking forward to it, although there are some really tough areas on this trail, I'll be with some awesome people, so I know I'll have a good time.  I'm planning on leaving my truck in Auburn with a cooler full of water and beer - oh yeah!!

Have a great dirty weekend!