Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hoka One One more time

"Run uphill as though wings are carrying you, fly down and still want to keep on going and going, all in one smooth, instictive action..."

After months of sitting on the fence and watching my peers become infatuated with Hoka One One shoes, I finally gave in and bought myself a pair. Admittedly the $80 deal on Mafates through The Clymb had a lot to do with it but I was eager to try them out. Finally, they showed up and onto my feet they went.

"What the hell have you got on your feet?" and "Mom, what is that squeaking noise?" were the startled comments from hubby and boys. Okay, okay - I'll admit that they look like something Michael Jackson may have worn doing the moonwalk and they squeak like crazy walking around on tiled floors but boy are they are squishy! Sort of like sinking into a memory foam mattress.

Problem is, they might be wonderfully soft and squishy but they really don't fit my rigid, narrow, high arch feet. My feet simply flounder around in them and no amount of experimentation with lacing techniques seems to snug them sufficiently mid-foot without cutting off circulation. My heel pulls out of the collar with every step and the rigid material of the tongue cuts into my foot. I even sized down a half-size because I felt that the volume of the shoe might be a problem. Hmmm.

I took them out on the trails and I totally agree that they are not cumbersome and clumsy as they may appear. They are beautifully light and I simply didn't feel rocks under my mid-forefoot. But my feet got very warm in them (perhaps because they are the water proof version), my heel pulling out of them was annoying and my knees and hips ached like crazy. 10 miles felt like 20.

Yesterday, I took them out on the trails again. This time I ran a 6 mile loop in my Brooks Cascadias and then switched to the Mafates. In the Cascadias, I felt every rock; I did not feel them in the Mafates. Admittedly the Cascadias have way too many miles on them and are pretty much done. But I had the same experience with the Mafates that I had the weekend before - unpleasantly warm feet, rubbing from my heel pulling out of them (thank goodness for Hydropel) and I was strangely tired with aching knees. I switched back to the Cascadias for loop 3 and immediately noticed the difference in cushioning but they fit my feet like gloves and the knee pain went away.

Thinking about it, running in the super soft Mafates is like running on a Bosu ball. HAve you ever tried one legged squats or hops on a Bosu? You wobble like crazy and it's not pretty to watch. That's how I feel running in the Mafates. My foot is never stable in the shoe so I'm constantly engaging stabilizer muscles in the lower body to maintain balance. I think that's why I feel so darn worn out after just a few miles. The Cascadias fit me so well that I barely notice them on my feet, while I'm constantly aware of the Mafates.

Am I discounting the Mafates? No, I'm eager to try them late in a long race, perhaps at Javelina Jundred in November when my feet are swollen and tired. Perhaps then I'll really appreciate the cushioning but for now, I'm ordering more Cascadias.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life is GOOD!

What a roller coaster it's been these last couple of months! Lots of work, lots of family time, very little training. I stumbled upon a wonderful job opportunity with a start-up company in the boutique investment banking/real estate advisor business. It's a blast but as is typical of working with a start-up, long hours are needed to make the business successful. I work with a great group of guys and it's fun, yet challenging. I'm back in school working on Securities licenses.

This has meant that training has had to take a back seat, especially with the chaos that is the start of the school year. Figuring out who has to be where when and how it fits with my schedule is challenging. But I'm loving it. I am so much happier in this job than working at the karate studio, where I nothing I did was good enough and I was constantly belittled. I could write a book on my impression of guys in the martial arts industry and their attitude towards women....

Life is GOOD!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Itchy Scratchy

Varicella-zoster virus
3 weeks before Badwater and 6 weeks before Burning River 100 (my summer 2011 goal race) I have... shingles. Itchy, scratchy red blisters that are driving me CRAZY! Clothing rubbing against it is painful so running is out for a couple of weeks until the anti-viral meds and steroid prescribed by my PCP take effect.

Great! Badwater will be O.K. BR100 will either be the best race of my life or pure hell. I'll let you know how it goes in August.

SaltStick in the Sauna

It's that time again! Badwater heat training time. I'm honored to be invited back (I obviously didn't kick his butt hard enough last year!) as part of Dan Marinsik's crew as he attempts his record breaking 9th consecutive finish!

As I sit in 180 deg heat, I've got lots of time to reflect on what's been going on this last couple of months.

Running-wise, since C2M I've
  • manned the Holy Jim aid station at Old Goat's 50
  • had a semi-decent run at Sycamore Canyon 50K
  • ran with Beiyi and Dan and friends up Lookout Mountain, CO to their wedding and then back down again in long bridesmaid dress (boy did that get strange looks from motorists, cyclists and hikers!)
  • bailed on going to Miwok 100K (Mother's Day weekend = not a wise decision to be away from kids and hubby)
  • paced Kristen at PCT 50
  • volunteered and ran 50K at Nanny Goat 12/24/100 (planned 50 mile night run but took a nap and didn't wake up!)
  • crewed and paced Larry Goddard and Devon Kiernan at SD100. Larry dropped at Pioneer Mail due to severe dehydration, Devon finished in 28:50-ish despite crippling pain in both feet.

Family-wise, wow! What a roller coaster!

  • CJ decided he just had to have a hamster to replace his hermit crab. Of course, hamsters tend to bite so Secret Agent 007 a.k.a. Hammy is now Mom's responsibility.
  • Dennis found a frog at the dojo so my little Dr Doolittle decided we had to keep him. Two weeks and dozens of crickets later, we agreed he really was miserable in his tank and let him go in the canyon behind our house.
  • The very next day, we pulled into the driveway to see a flash of yellow and green. A parakeet was being chased by a bird, it escaped the bird only to be stalked by our cat. CJ freaked out so I had to crawl under the dumpster parked next door to rescue it. I yelled for CJ to bring me a net and he came back with.... a rope. I think he thought I could lasso the bird? This was a true AFV moment, pity no one had a video camera handy!
  • I managed to scoop it into the tank previously occupied by the frog and get it into the house. It was scared and missing a few tail feathers but otherwise O.K. While Mike and CJ went canvassing the neighbors to see who was missing a parakeet (no-one), I found an old decorative bird cage and got him into it.
  • Two days later, Bird had an unfortunate accident. The cat, obviously feeling cheated out of dinner the first time, knocked the cage off the counter and Bird broke his leg in the fall. That decided it. Bird had to go. Several calls to local animal shelters and bird rescue centers were futile. They say they'll take in strays but in reality it's a different story. Mike finally packed Bird and the cage in the car and drove to San Clemente Animal Shelter. After many questions and lots of forms and signatures, Bird found a new home with the collection of various unwanted creatures living at the shelter.

So, now we're back to 1 dog, 1 cat, 1 hamster, 1 hermit crab and 2 fish. The boys are presently campaigning for a snake and a lizard.....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gotta run

”Let’s call this what it is – a mental disorder. These people need therapy, not press coverage. This is not healthy.”

Yes, I need therapy. Why else would I be out howling at the moon with the lunatics at C2M? Running IS therapy. Just ask anyone who has ever ran 100 miles on lonely trails in the mountains.
No, I don't need press coverage. Unless it pays my races, equipment and travel expenses.
Yes, it's healthy. That's why I'm not a contestant on the Biggest Loser.

Gotta run.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Dark Side of the (Coyote Two) Moon

Mention a weekend away in Ojai and everyone thinks "spa". Not my friend Jody "Turtleblitz" Van Zanten and I. Our idea of a fun weekend away is hours spent out on remote trails, away from the hustle and bustle of life as Mom/Wife/Housekeeper/Accountant/Minion. Although the driving rain/hail/snow certainly exfoliated my skin beautifully and everyone knows the benefits of a good mud bath!

Coyote Two Moon is not a race, it's an experience lasting several days and one not to be missed or forgotten! Bonus/Boner minutes, costumes, nicknames (e.g. Coaster Kadell, Turtleblitz Van Zanten), staggered start times designed to have everyone finish in time for Sunday brunch. If you are a serious "gotta place top 3" racer, this is probably not for you. But if you can relax, enjoy the festivities and accept that your actual finish time will probably never be known to anyone other than yourself, then it's just perfect. It had been on my bucket list for a while and after hearing that this was potentially the last year in its present format, I decided to join Jody in the Sprint (100K) event. 3 weeks after a 100-miler, I decided that 100K with 19,000 feet of climb was going to be a sufficiently challenging recovery run.

As the big day grew near, I watched weather reports of a storm front moving in and read RD Two Moon Buffoon's comments about code misty and being prepared. Being a Twin Peaks and Chimera survivor, I have no desire to be found on the trail frozen into a popsicle. I didn't have a Goretex jacket so I  borrowed one from my good friend Speedy a.k.a. iMichelle Barton. Long sleeve shirts, half zips, tights, beanies, ski gloves - check. You name it, I packed it. I was ready for anything.
Wine tasting at Casa Barranca, Ojai

Bowling in Ventura
Friday picnic lunch

Wine tasting, bowling, picnic lunch, sing-a-long. Fun, fun, fun. What a great crowd! Big names/wannabee big names/unknowns, all enjoying the festive atmosphere and friendly competition, costumes optional, nicknames required. It was good to see old friends Badwater Dan, Carmela, Jennifer, Jack, Wilson, Tin, Donn and Jakob. Jody and I hung around to see the first group of 100-milers off at 6pm and then headed back to town for dinner. The weather looked ominous....

10am Sat start group
Our start was 10am Saturday, along with the Team Patagonia 100-mile celebs.The weather was good, trail conditions just perfect on the climb up to Ridge Road Junction A/S. This race is known for it's excellent aid stations and volunteers and that is certainly correct. A gourmet feast awaited us, prepared and served by a gaggle of characters. Jody and I exchanged the $1 scratch cards we'd carried up there for a playing card each (who knows for what purpose) and off we set.

It was windy up on the ridge. It was chilly. It was foggy. It started to snow. We laughed and commented that snow is always better than rain because you don't get so wet. Famous last words. By the time I left Rose Valley A/S, it was raining. On went the rain pants and beanie in addition to rain jacket. Jody's knee injury was bothering her on the climbs so I took off ahead. One A/S at a time I thought. Got to get to Howard Creek.

This course is either up or down on single track and road with brief sections on the rolling ridgeline fire road. I'm sure the views are spectacular on a clear day and I had been looking forward to seeing the Super Moon, but with hood up and head down, I really couldn't see anything. Crew Jean was waiting at Howard Creek A/S and I filled up on chili (new one for me!) and soy latte. Again, excellent disco-themed A/S and groovy volunteers. As I headed out, I met Lori and brother Craig. Looking at the worsening conditions, we made the decision that they would catch me at the ridge and the three of us would head back to the S/F area. Having almost frozen to death at Twin Peaks (1st 50-mile) and survived the wrath of the Chimera (3rd 100-mile) it was the best, most responsible decision. I have no desire to become a Search and Rescue statistic or be featured on "I Shouldn't Be Alive". Jody came by a few minutes later, said she'd drop at Howard Creek and would meet me back at the S/F.
What to do? Continue on or back to S/F?

With Lori on ridge

Up on the ridge the conditions were bad. Lori, Craig and I hiked back in driving snow and white-out conditions. It was super cold. It took so long to get back to Ridge Junction that we thought we'd missed a turn and gotten lost. Then we saw the glow of the campfire. What a welcome sight! Hot soup, extra layer of clothing, ski gloves - I was ready for the 5-mile descent back to the S/F. 

Again, it took FOREVER. Slip slidin' in mud, tripping on rocks, hopping across streams (I swear there were only 2 crossings on the way up but 4 on the way back!). Back to the start and the shelter of Jody's car. Hot coffee, candy and a 3-hour drive back to So Cal and my nice warm bed. Only next morning did I find out the festivities were canceled around midnight. I made it 35 miles, some made it 81 miles, no-one finished.

Fun, fun, fun. This is why we ultra running nuts do this. If it were safe and easy, we'd be bored silly and probably wouldn't show up at the start line. Add appalling weather conditions to a grueling course and we're in seventh heaven!

Kudos to Two Moon Buffoon and his merry band of volunteers. Absolutely the right call to cancel. Safety of everyone, runners and volunteers alike, must come before personal pride and winner's bragging rights. I can never thank the volunteers enough for not deserting the sinking ship and leaving us to suffer whatever fate awaited us, perhaps that predicted by the deck of cards at each A/S?

"And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear 
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.
I can't think of anything to say except...
I think it's marvelous! HaHaHa!"
Brain Damage (Waters)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It H.U.R.T.... a lot!

H.U.R.T. 100, January 15/16, 2011
Course Map and Elevation Profile

All I can say is... it was beautiful, amazing and brutal! It kicked my butt. Kristen did a great job crewing and pacing but I was woefully unprepared for the tree roots, mud, rocks, tree roots, mud, rocks, tree roots.... you get the picture. My quads were shot from constantly stepping over roots and trying not to fall flat on my bum. During the night, I hallucinated bears (tree stumps) and a beautiful African-American girl with braids in her hair about to jump off a cliff. Imagine the surprise of the runner in front of me when I ran down the trail screaming "Don't do it. Don't jump". Ah, the joys of ultras.

I managed 100K in 31:14. Admittedly, once I realized no way I was going to finish 100 mile, I relaxed and slowed down to enjoy the scenery, not realizing there was still a cut off for the 100K. Kristen cam tearing up the trail in Crocs to get me into the aid station before 32 hours.

Will I go back? Absolutely. This race will not defeat me again. I will train harder, smarter, be better equipped and win the rematch.

Deep in the forest