Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

June 1, 2018

SoCal Spartan Beast (National Series), May 19-20, 2018

Hadn't planned on doing this race, but since it gave me a chance to qualify for the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe this September, it was hard to think about not going.  It was a long drive down almost to LA from Utah.  Jim couldn't come with me as he was gone as well for business.  So I got to see the Snow Summit ski resort where he had originally learned to ski at.   Actually I saw more of it than I really wanted to, on foot anyway!   

I took my time going down and stopped to soak my feet in these hot springs, just a couple miles off the I-15 in Utah.   Amazing recommendation from a friend and I will definitely be passing by these again.  Just out in the middle of a dry cow pasture, no trees or anything, but deep pools of blue, hot water.  I considered jumping in, but forgot I had no towels with me at all.  Next time!
The desert gave way to pine trees finally, as I approached Big Bear and the Spartan area.  My hotel was literally 50 feet from the registration area, which made it easy to come and go over the weekend! The Beast was on Saturday, it turned out to be about 12 miles long, with 5000 feet of climbing.   Since the ski hill on the mountain only has about 1200 feet of vertical, that meant we had to climb the whole thing at least 4 times.  Ouch.   

Right out of the starting gate, we were going straight up the ski hill.  It was steep.  Power hiking was the word of the day.   The Elites may have been running, but nobody in the Age group could keep it up for long.  

I finally felt like I got my clothing right for the race.  Dirty Girl Gaiters on my shoes to keep the dust and rocks out meant I didn't have to stop at all for foot problems.  No blisters.   Spartan gloves on my hands to protect me from sandbag carries, bucket carries, walls, burpees, more walls, and the 2 barbed wire crawls.  Oh, and the Olympus wall.   I took of my gloves for the monkey bars, spear throw, rope climb and Twister.   Shoved them in a pocket of my Gypsy Runner shorts, which had huge pockets.  Large enough I could carry 1/2 liter of water without noticing, and a snack for the 4 hour race.   Sports bra and that was it.  

The weather was perfect.   Warm but not hot, sunny, a gentle breeze, and dry.  The dunk wall wasn't until the end of the race so I didn't have to worry about soggy shoes and socks.   The whole day was a series of steep ups and steep downs, but that suits me so I continued to pass people along the way.  Even a women who said she was an Olympic athlete (in the past).  Clearly she could run faster than me, but kept failing on the obstacles and had already done 120 burpees by the 1/2 way mark!  

There was no snow left on the mountain but a couple of mounds.  We got a good tour of the bermed mountain biking trails, though...although I suggest they would certainly be more fun to ride down than walk up, which is what we were doing!    My least favorite obstacle of the day turned out to be my first time doing the double sandbag carry.   One balanced on my back, one hugged to my chest, and it was up and down an awfully steep hill.  It was awful.  It was the first and only time all day that I had to stop and rest while I was doing it.   Along with everyone else!   That was diabolical.   Managed to clear everything even spear throw this time...no burpees!  And the dunk wall at the finish felt amazing, I was so hot by then.  

I finished by noon, which gave me a chance to watch everyone else finish too...all day long.   I was amazed to walk out at 8:30 that evening, and still see headlamps on the bucket carry, about a mile from the finish...cutoff was at 9 pm!  The dunk wall at the finish didn't seem quite so inviting by then I would guess, as it was pretty cool, windy, and dark by then.  

Sunday was a repeat of the same, but just a 4.5 mile Sprint distance.  This time on tired legs.  That first hill after the start somehow felt even worse, but at least this shorter distance only had us going up and down the ski hill once.  And that terrible, horrible double sandbag carry wasn't on this course either.  Even one sandbag felt like it was taking inches off my spine!  

Anyway, 5th in my age group on Saturday, 2nd on Sunday, but I didn't stay for the awards as I had a long drive home.  Very excited though, as this qualified me directly for the World Championships in Tahoe in September.   If I can manage it, there I will be doing a Beast on Saturday and an UltraBeast on Sunday.   Ouch!  

Found this little gem of a hit spring on my way down to the race off 1-15!
Elite Women's heat was full, this was one of five National Series Races for sweet prize money
Ben Greenfield jumps in on the Men's Elite heat on Sunday Morning Sprint

May 27, 2018

Terrain Race SLC, 12 May 2018

Sandwiched between Spartan races was a little brother to them, right down the road from our house.  We tried to get a bunch of friends to do it with us.  Broken collarbone, a wedding to attend, on vacation, etc, were some of the excuses we got!   When the weather forecast looked awful,  a few more caved.  Jim's mom was visiting us that weekend, so even Jim had a handy excuse for not racing (he had to carry her umbrella).  

Anyway, Brett and Kristina were still game, and the three of us had a fun journey around the 5k that is the Terrain Race.   All of the obstacles were just a little smaller and less well-built than the Spartan, but it was fun, even if the weather was cold and rainy.   When we got to the dunk wall, I realized for the first time that I wasn't racing this and I could skip the obstacle if I wanted.  I did!   I SO didn't want to get wet.   Brett jumped right in and swam in the mud (and manure of course, since it was dug in the middle of an equestrian arena!).  He said later he spent extra time cleaning out his ears.

I did eventually get my legs wet on some mud humps but thankfully no swimming.  Even the monkey bars-over-pool obstacle was shut down because they didn't have a proper filter in the water.  Ha.  As if that mattered before jumping into the manure lake a mile later.

It was kind of fun to run a race without going too hard.  The obstacles were kind of different from Spartan, and there was no burpee pit in sight!  (At this race you have to complete each obstacle, multiple attempts ok, to be competitive, or you are moved to the "fun" un-timed category).

May 26, 2018

Colorado Springs Spartan Super/Sprint, May 5-6, 2018

Second Spartan weekend of the year for us, and I'd been training hard on upper body strength.   I had also topped up my iron stores after testing a little anemic after the last Spartan.  But Ft. Carson, CO was at 6000 feet of elevation so perhaps those two factors would cancel out?  

The race was on the Army Base, which I hadn't been on since my own Army days.  Luckily getting on base was fairly painless aside from a military dog sniffing my bag as I checked into the race.  The weather was again perfect for racing, cool but not cold, and warm enough by the midway of the race to get soaked under the dunk wall and feel good about it.  Except for the mud and rocks now stuck in my shoes....perhaps gaiters next time?  

The course looked rather flat on the map.  I guess they always do.  In reality, we went up and down a rocky plateau into a gully about 6 or 7 times.  It was only 100 feet or so, but I started to dread those accents.   The only good this was that I could pace myself and not rest, and pass a few people here and there.  

The course was absolutely sans trail, and we plowed our own new trails, through tall grass and cactus, on what was probably Ft. Carson's shooting range.  We passed shot-up tanks, mock Iraqi villages, and other detritus.    I couldn't believe how many cactus got stepped on, and was hoping my shoes were up to the challenge of keeping out the spines.   No barefoot shoes for racers today I hoped!   Even the obstacles had cactus in the area, and I pulled spines out of my hands after the barbed wire crawl, and again after doing the mandatory 5 burpees at the Atlas carry.  Ouch.  

The steep short hills continue until the end, with the course sometimes taking us up to the plateau and then straight back down again.   After the dunk wall, we climbed the hill again, and tackled the Twister, which I almost skipped and went straight to the burpees.  But I thought, eh, I'll try it.  To my amazement, this time it was easy!   As easy as the Twister can get, anyway.   
Right after the Twister was the Olympus Wall, which seemed rather diabolical.   I was so excited not to be doing burpees that my mind blanked out for a bit.  I did get some burpees at the Spear Throw, darn that thing.    I got more spines in my hands as punishment, but the race was almost over by then, so the tweezers at the hotel came in handy.  

After racing Elite last time in Las Vegas, and realizing I was out of my depth, I moved to Age Group category.   Very happy to find out I had finished 2nd in my Age Group, which got me a spot on the podium and qualified me to go to West Virginia for the US National Championship in August.  

On Sunday Jim joined me and we raced again, a Sprint this time which always seems nice and short after a Super.   The course cut off many needless trips up and down that plateau, but that just meant the dunk wall, now deeper and muddier, arrived sooner.    

Oh happy day!  When I hit the spear I knew I would have my first BURPEE-FREE race!    That felt really nice.   Now to go home and do more ring swings and spear throws so I can do that more often :)

Checking out the newest anti-bomb transport for troops in the desert

Horses led us out at the starting gun of the race

Spot was not impressed with the award ceremony

May 25, 2018

Amasa Back Run 25k, April 28, 2018

I probably won't ever be good enough to ride my bike on the trails in the Amasa Back trail system near Moab, UT.   But it is really fun to hike and run on them!  In the weeks leading up to the race, Jim and I were able to recce almost all of the course.  This helped us not get lost on the Rockstacker trail coming back to the finish.

The weather in Moab always seems to get really HOT just for the day we have a race planned.   Sure enough, highs in the 80s were forecasted, and only a few clouds across the sun saved me from the heat.

From the Colorado River, the trail took us up the Amasa Back jeep trail, then down Jackson's Ladder (no jeeps can make it down this steep rocky hiking trail!), and then around Jackson's Hole, a 4 mile sandy track back down at river level.  Climbing back up Jackson's Ladder seemed harder than going down, and it was getting hotter too.   From there we went along the Pothole Arch trail, back around on Rockstacker, and then finally a 2 mile stretch on Jackson's Trail down to the river and the finish.   Wow, I came 3rd woman today!!!  

Neither Jim or I took any photos today...guess we were too busy running!  Here's a couple of the area, perhaps not exactly this trail....

May 24, 2018

Buffalo Run 25k, 10 Mar 2018

I was moderately surprised by how beautiful Antelope Island was, everyone kept saying it was cool, but this was finally a chance to come see it for myself.   I was moderately surprised to see an Antelope out grazing in a meadow, it took a few minutes for my brain to make the connection.  Finally..."Antelope" Island, duh!     Of course, there were some namesake Buffalo too.   The island immediately felt homey to me, reminding me of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, with the Great Salt Lake surrounding the island with wild views in all directions.  
The weather was perfect too.  Cool but not cold, clear skies, no rain or wind, and really lovely trails.  I don't know why I haven't been here before in the winter, when the trails near home are snowed in, often here they are still clear.   They are also wide, runnable, and scenic.  

The race went really well,  I did about 16 miles in 3 hours a few minutes faster than planned on, probably because the terrain was more runnable than I had thought.   My fastest miles were the last couple downhill to the finish.   No buffalo were chasing me but a lady in a pink skirt might have been.   I will definitely try to do this race again!