Pigtails 50k

Pigtails 50k Race Report
Saturday morning I awoke early, 5am, to make sure that I had plenty of time to eat and digest before running the Pigtails 50k at Lake Young in Renton at 7:30. I didn't want a repeat of last week and since my abdomen had been bothering me for about 2 weeks, I wasn't trying to ask to much of it. Especially since running this 50k was a leap in mileage for this season. The longest I have gone since being back from the off season was 17 miles and that was the previous week. Nonetheless, I wasn't worried about it particularly.

I packed up my stuff and headed out. My car registered the temperature at 26 at my house and dropped as I drove south. By the time I arrived at the start line, it was registering between 22-23. I sat in my car and considered if it had been well advised to wear only 3/4 tights and a long sleeve shirt, hat and gloves. I sat in the nice warm car for a while and then deciding one swing past the bathroom would be good, I braced myself and opened the door. It was cold, yes, but not as bad as I expected. I guess my time running in Madison last year stuck with me, so all other cold is judged by how cold I was then.

I saw Alison and we made a quick drop of her coat in my coat and I grabbed my Clif Shot Bloks and a Larabar, and put them into Alison drop container, as the race is 3 loops of 9.6 miles and then a 2.2 out and back at the end. There were apparently over 100 runners for the day, and we all gathered around to get instructions from marathon maniac and race director, Van Phan. And we were off. I had decided not to race it, in the sense that I had no sense that I wanted to or was ready to go out and push the pace. Alison and I decided to run together and after hitting the course, I was even more happy to have the company since the loops are incredibly uninteresting. You basically run along a rolling dirt trail along the outside of the fence that surrounds the lake. I am definitely a looper, that is, I do like loops because you get to carry less and the looping helps to pull you along. That said a 9.6 mile loop is a lot tougher. It is just a bit to long to feel like you are nearly there no matter where you are.

Alison set a good pace out of the gate and we settled in, watching James and some others disappear in front of us. We chatted up a storm and the first lap passed with relative ease. In the back of my mind I had been thinking about the problem with my abdomen and worrying what it could possibly be. I put it out of my mind and kept going. It wasn't something that was impeding my running, but more just worrying me a bit. I resolved to talk to a dr later in the day and carried on. One of my favorite things about being in Seattle is being around the ultra community. There is a lot of madness in doing ultra's and trying to do it on your own is a path wrought with potential pitfalls, from nutrition to training mileage, to blister prevention and hydration. Being in Seattle has meant that for the first time since I started running ultras, that I get to spend a lot time around ultrarunners and see how they live, eat and run. It is amazingly influential and positive for me, since it gives me a standard of "normal" (at least ultrarunning normal) for me instead of only having marathoners and nonrunners as my guidelines. Ultrarunning is different and talking to Alison while running, once again gave me perspective and insight that is hugely valuable to me.

One of the things that I have realized is that running with others really works for me. Yes there is a time and place to go out and run your own race, etc but when it is not an "A" priority race getting together with others who can run a pace that works is great. Alison had told me that at anytime I could feel free to take off and while I left the door open to that if I felt good on the final lap, it wasn't really in my plan. The thing about running with others is that you can push and pull each other along, especially when there is an unspoken commitment to staying together. Alison and I maintained a good pace and the first two laps passed pretty easily. We ran a 1:14 for the first lap and a 1:17 for the second lap. I ate some Clif Shot Bloks at the aid station each time which would remind me of my ab worries as they sat weird in my stomach. I drank plenty of Nuun each lap which kept me hydrated and moving. At some point, I gave Alison an S!Cap I was carrying because she needed the salt. The Nuun was keeping me balanced so I was happy to share with her.

I had left it open in my head to just doing two laps, but as we came into the start/finish area after lap 2, I decided, eh why not. Once begun, better finish. Plus, Alison told me at one point on the second loop that if we kept up our pace she was have a significant PR for the day and so I took that on as my objective for the final loop and out and back, get Alison her PR! As I said earlier, running with someone else can help drag you along when you feel that you can't go on. I am pretty positive Alison would have PR'd just fine without me, but putting it in my own head the externalized goal helped me to think, I can go on not for me, but for her. So in a way taking on the idea of helping her to a goal is a way of getting my own self across the finish line. We lapsed into silence for the last lap. Reduced to the long stretches along the fence and counting right had turns as we worked our way back to the start/finish. Our pace was still incredibly strong and despite the lap feeling hard and long, it also was moved through the knowledge that we didn't have to do it again. We finally came to the stretch where we were almost back to the start/finish and there was a patch of ice in one of the corners which I eyed carefully as I went into the turn. Obviously not carefully enough and I slammed into the ground at full force, landing on my forearm and hand. It really really hurt, but I jumped up and shook it off. I ran with my arm tucked on my side for the rest of the loop which was less than 1/4. We zoomed into the start/finish and dropped our waterbottles on the tarp and I grabbed another Clif Shot Bloks and headed out. James (Varner, Orcas 50k RD & Alison BF) was at the start/finish in his cozy downjacket and hat and we thought he was done, but he stood up and started running with us saying he had bonked on the 3rd lap and run nearly 30 minutes slower than the previous two laps. He ran along behind us for maybe an 1/8th of a mile, but Alison and I were feeling good and we kept pushing the pace. He mentioned to her that Alexa would be very happy, as we pulled away and Alison explained that her friend Alexa wanted Alison to beat James in a race. Looked like today would be Alison's day to achieve two goals in one shot! We pushed out to the turn around point and excitedly turned around and headed for home. There was a giant hill just before the end which up until this point we only had to run down, so Alison and I power walked up the hill, turned towards the finish and pushed it in, speeding across the finish line in 4:18. This was Alison PR by over 30 minutes I believe and it was great to share the win with her.

Me and Alison after the race with our winnings, farm fresh eggs.

Alison and warmed ourselves with some vegan gluten free squash soup and collected our winnings, farm fresh eggs from Van Phan's chickens. Though I won't eat them myself, I took them for my mother who does, especially since they are from local, organic, happy chickens! I changed my clothing and headed out pretty quickly, as it had started to rain and I wanted to get warmed and fed. I headed back to the city, chatted with the oncall dr. who helped to alleviate my worries and went to PCC & Flying Apron. I grabbed a smoothie from PCC and some meal ingredients and the a delicious gf vegan scone from Flying Apron.

Post Run Meal & Why I like Potatoes (and brussel sprouts)

I really wanted something Italian for dinner and decided to make a gluten free vegan calzone that had become a fan favorite. However plans quickly changed when I realized that I didn't want to wait for the dough to rise and there is no alternative I can shortcut with since I was already using the only shortcut I know for quick gluten free vegan crust which is Pamela's Wheat Free Bread mix. I decided that what I really wanted was the veggie goodness and sauce and so I instead opted to make Inside Out Calzones, and put the contents over potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 1-2, ok...1 after a 50k!):
1/2 portobello mushroom, cleaned and medium dice
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, medium dice
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 onion, small dice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, whole
1-2 cup fresh spinach
3-4 artichoke hearts, packed in water
1/4-1/2 cup medium ripe black olives, packed in water
olive oil
italian herbs and spices, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes

1 cup vegan marinara, warmed
5-6 small red potatoes, boiled, drained and mashed with favorite oil/vegan butter alternative

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and sautee until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sautee for another 1-2 minutes, add spices. Add red bell pepper and broccoli, cook for 7-8 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach, cook until spinach is wilted.

Plating: On the bottom of the plate, scoop the desired amount of mashed potatoes and spread across. Spoon desired amount of marinara over the top of the potatoes, then scoop vegetable sautee over the top, sprinkle salt, pepper and red pepper flakes over top. Enjoy!

I definitely am not being exact in these recipes, especially when it comes to spices because at least for me, when I cook (especially something like a sautee) that often I take the ingredients and the general idea and build on my own from there. So I recommend balancing the spicing and amounts for yourself. Someday when I write a cookbook, I will be more exact :)

Potatoes and brussel sprouts are making the rounds on in my recipes a lot and there are two great reasons why. Yes I do love my potatoes and brussel sprouts, but right now they are locally in season. So therefore, not only is it what is right for eating locally, organically, it is also what my body wants. The bodies desire for certain foods changes with the seasons and I am just listening to what my body wants. A lot of people don't listen to their bodies or are so out of tune they don't get the right signals, but I have learned over the past year with the changing of my nutrition and diet to be able to hear loud and clear what my body wants. Thus, when brussel sprouts go out of season, like persimmons have, I will no longer have them at every meal. The second reason I eat a lot of potatoes in particular is tied to being gluten intolerant and vegan. If you think about it most meals for the non gluten intolerant or non vegan have some bulkier item on the plate, a piece of meat or some heavier grain dish. Thus, for me, potatoes are the grounding of my dish alot of times, that or an alternative grain such as quinoa, rice or millet. And since potatoes & sweet potatoes are around right now in huge variety I go with them. They help fill me up and power me up for my training and racing!

The day after, a runner's power salad

I made a delicious salad yesterday for lunch, to feed the monster which is a hungry tummy the day after a race. My abdominal problem figured out and starting resolve meant even more appetite. I incorporated the left over uncooked ingredients from sat nights post race meal. This hearty salad is a filling meal that won't disappoint!

1 1/2-2 cup organic mixed greens
6-7 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1/4 portobello mushroom
1/4 red bell pepper
2-3 artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup medium ripe black olives, halved
2 small green onions, diced
3-4 tablespoons hummus
1 1/2 tbsp nice olive oil (like a fine wine, we are not talking about the store brand here....)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Toss greens through onions in a bowl, incorporating together. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic over top and spice according to taste. Plate and then spoon hummus on the top of the salad. Enjoy.

Thats a wrap
In the end, this was a great, great weekend which capped off a good (running) week. I ran a total of 85 miles, sneaking in a 5 mile run late last night under the stars in the crisp air. I woke to snow this morning but it has all melted already. Today might be a rest day, though the jury is still out.....