Team USA

WC100k- Partial race report (or a full report of a partial race)

Team USA before winning Team Silver (women) and Team Gold (men)

In some of my darker moments since the race, I had decided that I was going to name this blog "flunking out of ultrarunning school" because this is my second DNF this year and that makes me one for three on the year at even completing ultras. I feel like DNF's are highly judged in our sport even if the reasons for dropping on valid and intelligent. It is hard to not internalize that judgement and let it stack upon the feelings you already have about having to drop from a race. I don't want to be seen as a quitter, because I am certainly not one. Over the past few days, I have felt less of an ultrarunner or some how a fake because I have dropped from races.  I know that is not true, but the emotions one feels after dropping out of their goal race are anything but rational.

Now, three days later, back home and recovering, I am able to forgive myself more and actually believe (at least mostly) that some days just aren't your day. I was fit and ready as I could be and the result of the race was not because of fitness, it was just what the day had for me. And I was faced with a problem that I could not fix. 

The race

I adjusted pretty well to the time change and for once, the few days before the race passed quickly and without a whole lot of nerves. My body didn't feel fantastic but I knew that the creaks and niggles would shake themselves out as the race unfolded and would likely help make me run my goal pace instead of starting out too fast.

The race started at 10am, so I got up before 7 and had my oats and peanut butter and coffee. I was feeling pretty good. Very calm, no nerves, just ready (I think running 4 sub 2:56 marathon/ marathon splits during longer training runs helps feel that way). I feel that way going into races that I know I have prepared myself as best I can for. It is not a cocky, I've got this feeling, it is a feeling of knowing that I have done all I can and that the race will be what it will be and I am prepared to do my best.

I hopped on the shuttle with the other Team USA ladies, Meghan, Amy, Pam, Annette and Carolyn and we made our way to Winschoten for the start. Meghan and I had similar time goals (around 7:30 finishing time), so we had planned to run together and keep pace as long as we could. In flat loop courses like this, there is nothing nicer than having company. And Meghan is one of my very favorite people, so that makes it a nice thing too. Meghan ended up running a 7:51, which is a World Best for 50+ age group. 

photo from Amy

We lined up at the start line and were off before we knew it. We got caught in a major traffic jam and had to weave our way around until we finally found some space to run in and settled into our pace. Meghan, Amy, Jo (from Great Britain) and I ran together. We were clocking sub 7:10 min/mile but it felt very comfortable and easy to me. We chatted and clicked off the kms as comfortable as possible. 

The day itself was incredibly warm, especially for someone like me that has been training in 50 degrees and cloudy. It was high 70s with 70% humidity. The days leading up to the race were very "San Francisco" cold, rainy and cloudy, so I had not anticipated that the race would be hot. I was very wrong. When I planned my race nutrition strategy, I had planned to get a salt tab every other lap (so every 20k) because I don't drink that much when it is cool out. 

I felt really good for the first few laps. We went through the 10k splits ahead of 7:30 finishing time pace, but I was unconcerned. I felt that if I was comfortable at the half way mark, it would be possible for me to negative split. I just wanted to get through halfway feeling good. On lap 3, my stomach started flopping a bit and I could tell that I was going to have an issue. Luckily we were coming into the aid station and I called for Nathan to grab me some Immodium. I knew the Immodium would dehydrate me a bit, but not nearly as bad as having diarrhea would. I hit the port-o-potty once but then the Immodium kicked in. I upped my water and did my best to keep myself cool. I had fun trying to catch Meghan again because I wanted to still run with her and threw down some 6:40s in her pursuit.

 It must be 45k. On my race plan that is the first time I get kisses.
High speed kisses can be dangerous.

We kept on cruising and my legs were still feeling fresh. I took a gel every lap from Nathan and felt like I was right where I wanted to be. We were running in the top 10 and on perfect 7:30 pace as we crossed the 50k mark in 3:45. I was stoked.

And then I was concerned. Just after the 1st crew aid station (at the .25km mark), I started to notice that I was having some cramping in my stomach (about where my kidneys are). It was a dull ache, annoying but not overly concerning. I was already passed the aid station so I couldn't get another salt which I quickly realized was what I needed. I made it to the next aid station but was cramping severely by the time I got there. I had Nathan get me a salt pill and requested that they inform the other side that I was going to need salt every time I came through. I was forced to back off the pace and figured that the salt would kick in and the muscles would release. But they didn't.

I made it through 60k and got to the aid station in severe pain. It felt like my ab muscles were getting a charlie horse. It is the worse cramping I have ever felt and I have never felt cramps like that in a race before. It wasn't my stomach cramping, I could eat and drink fine, it was the muscles. It was like a sword was being driven into my abs. I wanted to give it some time to resolve and so I kept going. The abs would release a bit and I would start moving again and then after a few more minutes they would tighten even worse and I would have to stop doubled over or run slightly stooped. I took another salt tab at 65k, but was not feeling any relief. I felt like I was barely moving and was not pushing myself anymore and I could feel nothing but worse. I practically walked the loop, running 11 minutes slower than I had been. I crossed the 70k mark and the cramps redoubled their strength and the pain shot down through my legs and up around my lungs. I hobbled into the aid station and asked Lion what to do. They fed me salt and gave me coke but I knew I could not go on. I couldn't even stand up, let alone run. I knew I was done.

I had spent the entirety of lap 7 considering if I could or would just walk it in. I decided that what was happening was happening and that I wouldn't drop just because my race wasn't going as I planned. But that changed when I came to the aid station and it felt like my abdominal muscles were pulling. Not being able to stand up is problematic when it comes to run/walking/continuing. I decided to sit down for a while and see if things would release. My whole body became one big cramp when I sat down. After sitting there for 30 or more minutes, I finally acknowledged I couldn't go on. I have never felt that bad of cramping in my life and I still didn't want to quit but I also didn't want to go on. I relinquished my chip and broke down. Nathan came running from the other aid station and helped try and console me. I cheered on my teammates and watched them finish.

The team did awesome. The men won team gold and the women team silver. I am very proud of them and appreciate the support that many of them showed me. 

The day after the race, I was beating myself up pretty bad, second guessing, comparing, and judging myself. This was my goal race and it was hard to have put all of my eggs in one basket and then have it not work out. I was fit enough to stand on the podium and yet didn't even finish the race. I bashed myself plenty both internally and out loud to Nathan over lunch in Amsterdam. It is just the natural emotions of missing a goal. It is nothing more nothing less, I am allowed some disappointment, some sadness and anger. 

But then I had a bit of a change of perspective. Sunday evening after we went to bed, I was awakened by severe food poisoning. I spent the entire night in the bathroom very ill and could barely take a sip of water. I finally stopped barfing and crapping after about 7 hours, but was left very weak and still nauseated. We were flying home that morning, so I only hoped that I wouldn't spent the entire flight barfing or in the toliet. I spent the flight in great discomfort, all 11 hours of it, but thankfully I didn't get sick on the plane. Nathan and the KLM staff took good care of me and I did my best to ride the waves of feeling good and bad. The reason that this offers a change in perspective to me is because despite the fact that I prepared all of my own food in order to ensure that I didn't eat any gluten before the race or other things I couldn't have, I still got sick. Sometimes, it doesn't matter what you do or how much you try and control the factors, it still doesn't work out. I am not sure whether or not the food poisoning happened before the race ( food poisoning can occur anywhere in a 48 hour period after eating the contaminated food) or if the cramps were a symptom of the food poisoning (as that is one of the symptoms, along with the diarrhea that I had), I don't think it matters really. While it would explain a lot, the perspective it offers is enough.

When my head was in the toilet, I was not lamenting my DNF. I was not judging myself based on my running accomplishments. All I wanted in the world was to feel good again. I knew even at the worst moments of the sickness that it would pass and I would feel better, maybe not right away but I would. The same goes for running. In the grand scheme of things, what happened happened. It doesn't make me a bad runner to have a bad day. There will be plenty more good and bad days in my life and the way we weather them is what matters. I won't chastise myself any long for my DNF. I will move on. It doesn't change anything about me as a person or me as a runner, it was just what the day had. It is sad, it is unfortunate, it is painful, but it will pass. Now, I just look forward to the next opportunity I have to try again at having the day I wanted. That is part of the adventure, that is part of the reason we do this. The challenge, the uncertainty, the huge potential for failure- that is what makes the successes that much sweeter.

Pack Animals

Salomon runners Kilian, Iker and Miguel and NF's Sebastian running together at UTMB 2011

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. 
- Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)

When you think of running, teamwork is not the first thing that comes to mind. It is very much an individual endeavor but what I have found over the few years of my running career is that teamwork elevates that individual pursuit and helps you reach new levels you didn't know you could. Whether that is having a team of handlers and pacers to guide you through a 100 miler or having a rockstar partner who can patiently push you up the final ascent out of the big ditch. Sometimes teamwork is just having someone along side you for a time to keep your mind right and your spirits high.

Salomon runner Ryan Sandes dominating Leadville. Winning in 3rd fastest time ever in his debut 100 with help from Salomon teammates.
Photo courtesy Anna Frost

In the past few weeks, I have been incredibly inspired by my Salomon international teammates. Not just because of their incredible performances but because they have demonstrated time after time these value of teamwork. I truly feel that I am a part of a cohesive team, with members who would help me reach my potential, not just someone who shares the same sponsorship. I am incredibly proud of my teammates and very thankful for the support crews that help support all of our efforts. In just the past three weeks, I  have watched:

  • Ryan Sandes kicked butt in Leadville with the support of Salomon team members.
  • Rickey Gates and Anna Frost work together and push each other at TransRockies, absolutely dominating.
  • Kilian, Iker and Miguel run side by side at UTMB. Even stopping at points to wait for each other.

Maybe it is because I hail from a teamsports background that this team aspect geeks me out. But I don't think so. I really believe that even individual pursuits are better through teamwork. I believe we can accomplish more when we work with others than we ever could alone. I fundamentally believe community is one of the most important aspects of personal development.

Salomon runners Anna Frost and Rickey Gates, dominating the Open Mixed division through teamwork at Gore-Tex TransRockies run (source)

Teamwork is currently one of the foremost things in my mind as I set out to run the WC100k in Netherlands next week. Why? Because it is an event in which I represent my team as much as I represent myself. When I run the WC events, I have a one track mind: how do I best serve my team? I best serve my team by running as best and as fast as I can and by helping and supporting my teammates however I can. One of my favorite moments in all of my running life is from two years ago at the WC100k in Belgium. Meghan, Carolyn and I knew we had a firm grip on the gold medal and we worked together through the wee hours of the morning to maintain our position and help each other through rough patches. I will never forget how cool it was to run together en route to a gold medal and 4 top 10 spots.

I proudly don the Team USA kit because it makes me a part of a team. Just like when I don my Salomon gear, I feel a part of something. Next week when I line up, I am excited to help lead my team and fight for a gold medal. Whatever happens, I know that I have some amazing teammates working their butts off and fighting hard for the same goal. I know that I have people pulling for me and their strength will buoy me and drive me through the rough patches. Together we will all succeed. To me, there is nothing better in life to share the journey, the fight, and the triumph.

Mad City 100k National Championship Race Report

A week before Mad City, chasing gazelles up and down mountains.

With LA marathon only three weeks ago, one might think that I would be back to regular running by now, feeling recovered after taking a few weeks easy. Ha, have you met me? Instead of having time to bask in the awesome feeling of success brought on by reaching my goal and qualifying for the Olympic Trials, I was trying to power recover/taper and also acclimatize to sleeping at altitude in our new Hypoxico altitude tent. I immediately started sleeping at altitude after LA and it took me until the middle of last week to finally wake up and feel like I had actually slept. If I was just in recovery, this wouldn't really matter but such was not the case as this past weekend I lined up to race the Mad City 100k USATF 100k National Championships to attempt to requalify for the 100k national team. This was an insane idea, I know, but I one of my main goals for the year was to race in the Netherlands as part of Team USA in the 100k. I thought I was already qualified with my Tussey 50 mile time, but found out a few weeks before LA that I was not. My coach advised me strongly to run Mad City to secure my spot, even though we both knew it would not be ideal since I haven't run over 26.2 miles since November and haven't run more than 50k since Tussey last year. In other words, I would be doing no training for Mad City. LA marathon was my most important goal, so I did not let Mad City enter my mind until after I crossed the finish line there.

Apparently, 2000 foot rocky ascents in less than 2 miles are excellent for taper

After LA, I was feeling pretty good. My legs and body recovered pretty well considering how hard I ran. The Thursday after LA, I was even back running with the ninjas feeling pretty spry and powering up the big long climbs. With less than three weeks between LA and Mad City, I really only had time to cobble together a few runs, throw in a few strides and focus on getting as rested and recovered as possible. At least in theory. The reality is that I ran hard and fast with a great group on Mt. Tam 6 days post- LA for a friend's birthday (think 8 minute pace up railroad grade) and ran nearly 60 miles that week. Then followed that with an 80 mile week that included a nearly 40 mile weekend with huge climbs and descents with a seriously fast crew of displaced Lake Sonoma 50 mile runners (who's race was cancelled due to flooding). It was one of the most fun weekends of running I've ever experienced but things like a 2,000 foot rocky ascent are not exactly the type of activities one should do 1 week out from running a road 100k and just 2 weeks after a marathon. With the lack of sleep, I started my final taper week not sure of what to expect from Mad City. I don't think I expected much. I hadn't had time to think about the race, let alone get jazzed for it. I think I had mentally exhausted myself through highly motivating myself for Houston/LA races. Mad City all I could do was get to the start line and hope I made it through the day. I packed my bags and flew off to Madison on Thursday and got ready to get loopy on Saturday.

Early on, still in my long sleeve (source)


Before the race, I focused on the details of things I could control and spent very little time actually thinking through the race. I got my fuel plan together, made a pace chart for time, checked the weather over and over and over (since it kept changing-threatening high temps and thunderstorms) and got my crew bag together for Beth (the baker's sister) and Mike, who drove up from Illinois with the best cheerleader ever (Ellie, their 1 year old). I worried over my shoe selection and finally decided to wear my KSwiss Kwicky Blade Lights even though I had not run more than 8 miles at a time in them. I was considering wearing the same shoes I wore for Tussey but the reality was, they were a tab smaller (which means less room for swelling feet) and I hadn't really been wearing them either. I made up a drop bag for the start with the alternate pair, just in case. The night before the race, I met up with Beth and Mike at their hotel, made myself an awesome dinner of herb roasted potatoes and onions, skirt steak and salad and hit the hay early. As I lay there, I didn't have any of that "I am racing tomorrow" feeling. When I forced myself to think about it, all I could think was "I have no idea how I am going to mentally wrap my mind around running for 8+ hours". I woke up at 4:45am, had my gluten free oats with peanut butter, coffee and soon Todd Braje and I were off to the start together (we stayed at the same amazing host house- Thanks Suzie!!). 

Webcast: Participant Image
Pre-race mug shot.

The race is pretty low key. 10- 10k loops around the Arb and Lake Wingra. There were 30 participants in the 100k race which has served as the 100k road national championship for the past few years (including 2007 when I ran it the first time). However, most of those 30 participants were gunning for a fast or faster time including lots of hopefuls for this years 100k national team. The men's field was stacked would certainly go out fast. I didn't know much about the women's field except that Pam Smith was coming to try and qualify for the team. I was happy there was at least one other woman in the field going for a qualifier since it meant I had hope for having someone to run with. Actually, I thought she would smoke me since I was feeling not recovered/tapered at all.

We arrived at the start parked in the nearly empty parking lot and got our bottles and drop bags arranged at the start/finish area. Todd did some warming up and I sat in the car and watched the clock inch towards the 6:30 am start time. I figured I would warm up in the first few laps. The last thing I wanted to do was get hyped before such a long race. My biggest fear going into the race was that my target pace would feel too easy and I would run to fast at the start and burn out in the later laps. I had written my 10k lap splits on my hand and the word "patience" to remind me that I should not run any faster than the splits. My goal time was about 8:10 which Howard, my coach, thought would be sufficient enough to secure my spot on the team. I had 8 hour pace on my hand because it was just less math. I knew that the course record was 8 hours run the year before by my friend and teammate Meghan Arbogast. My 100k PR is 7:59 so I figured there was no way I would PR but the spilts were suppose to stop me from overreaching. 

With a few minutes to go, I stepped out into the cool morning air, did a few hip swings and walked over to the start. There was no time for me to think or get nervous, we were off with a ready, set, go. My strategy with loop courses is always to break it down mentally into digestible chunks. I tell myself just make it to 50k, then coast into 80k and then my favorite part is the hammer drop of the last two laps. I like to close a race hard, so the last 20k I look forward to. As I predicted the men's field went out strong and I settled into pace with a few runners with Pam just a bit ahead of me. 

Pam and I running together. photo: James Mills, Madison Examiner

She and I would be soon running together and spent the majority of the first 6 loops in relatively close contact together. We chatted a bunch and focused on just being steady and running together. In all of my world championship experiences, I have run at least the first 50k with the company of a teammate and I find it is the best way to pass the time. I was really glad to have the company and felt Pam and I worked well together. Occasionally, she would lose me as I stopped pretty much every other lap for a bathroom break, but I would accelerate a bit to catch her because it was more fun to run next to someone than 150 meters behind them. 

Making an awesome face while getting the handoff from Beth

Each lap, I would come around and Beth would be waiting for me with a waterbottle swap and a Gu and  Vespa. I carried a small 8 ounce water bottle and finished it easily every loop. It wasn't too warm so it was the perfect amount for me. I focused on my plan: GU every 45 minutes, Saltstick every 1 hour, Vespa JR every 1.5 hours. The first few laps were faster than my 8 hour splits, each lap was 47 or under including a 45:56 on lap 4. I felt good, my legs were not feeling pounded at all, my energy was good. I will say, I think that the lack of recovery served me well because the 7:30 pace felt just right instead of incredibly slow. I think my absent recovery kept me physically reined in which was nice so I didn't have to mentally do it. 

Round and round we went. I passed the 50k mark in 3:53 which was 7 minutes ahead of CR record pace. I kept telling myself to focus on my time and chill the heck out. I didn't feel like I was pressing though and I didn't feel tired, so I just kept running. In a loop course, I just start mentally pulling myself along from one landmark to the next to break up the loop. I could feel myself mentally fatiguing though my physical energy was fine. By the 50k mark, I was full out funky. I was having a "crisis of motivation". I just suddenly could not for the life of me figure out why I was running this race. I decided that my coach had pressured me into it and I didn't really want to be there. I was feeling like a petulant child and complained to Pam that I wasn't sure I was self-motivated to be there at around the 55k marker. She responded, "well, if you didn't want to be here at least a little bit, you wouldn't be here" and ran off as I eased my pace back a bit hoping that maybe an easier pace would make me more into it. By the time I came into the start/finish area at 60k, I said to Beth and Sam (Chad Rickleff's wife- another 100k teammate) "I need some motivation!!!! I am not into this!". Sam told me just to chill out and focus on my time. I took my sweet time going through the start/finish area and was 30 seconds back from Pam. I started my 7th loop, took an FRS chew from my pocket and hoped that a dose of caffeine might change my mind. I could feel my mind start to lift, I realized that I would soon be on my favorite laps and was less than a marathon from the finish. I knew that I just had to get enough momentum to get out of the 7th loop and I would find my killer instinct. Thanks to the FRS, I found it about 65k and I swallowed up the distance between Pam and I pulling along side her on the small climb up to the mile 4.2 aid station. I told her I appreciated her comment because she was right: if I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't have been there. I did want to be there and I definitely wanted to qualify for the team. She said she was feeling a bit tired and I tried to encourage her along. I was speeding up though and left her behind shortly after the aid station.

I came into the start/finish line and said, "I've stopped being a punk! I was just being a punk!". I knew I was about to turn into a machine. Even though, when I stopped to think about it, I had 18 miles remaining, I felt like I was launching my kick. I was easily maintaining my pace and had to start holding myself back in my 8th and 9th loops so I didn't get to crazy. I was still way ahead of my spilts on my hand and I started to actually consider that I might not only make the team, but win the national championship and set the course record.

I was shocked how good my legs felt. I just kept cranking, smoothly and comfortably. I zoomed around and finally made it to 90k. I wasn't sure how far up I was on Pam but I knew I couldn't take any chances. I went through the start/finish in 7:01 and got ready to hammer it home. I could hear the announcer when Pam came into the start/finish, I was 3 minutes up and knew that was not enough to rest on my laurels. I took an extra caffeine gel at the start of the loop to not take any chances bonking. I passed once more by each significant marker that had pulled me through each loop, thanking the volunteers and the spectators including one awesome lady who stood at the top of a one of the longer hills and cheered us up for the entirety of the second half of the race. It was awesome. I got to the 5k marker and saw I was on pace for my fastest lap and I felt myself growing stronger and stronger. I was excited and I was happy. I was present and enjoying the moment. It is a cool feeling to go far beyond what you thought you could. I grabbed a sip of coke at the final aid station and zoomed down the small hill on the other side. The "Arb" was my favorite part, I had about 2.2 miles to go. "Less than 18 minutes until I am done, less then 15 minutes until I am done, less than 10 minutes until I am done". I could see the start/finish through the trees, even though it is 5 minutes away. I pushed, I cranked, I extended myself. My body, surprisingly, let me.

I hit the finishing stretch and gave it a nice kick up. I could see the finishline, I checked over my shoulder a couple of times before allowing myself a smile, a huge goofy grin as I barreled into the finish line in 7:46:33. National Champion in the 100k, a new huge PR in the 100k (and in the 50 mile with a 6:17 split) and an automatic qualifier for the 100k Team USA! (Also turns out it was the 11th fastest time for an American women in the 100k-cool!)

They immediately presented me with medals, a giant crystal trophy, gift certificate and winnings. I walked around a bit with Beth and Ellie to make sure I didn't cramp up. It felt so great to be done. I almost couldn't believe what I had just done. I just ran 13 minutes faster than my 100k PR and I felt great! How is that possible! I changed my clothes and talked to the men's winner Andy Henshaw. He had run a blazing 6:47, won and qualified for the team! He came over to (re-) introduce himself after I finished because he had been the guy that I death marched out of the Canyons with at WS before be both dropped. He had hurt himself and my kidneys were shutting down, it was so nice to meet again on such a better day for both of us. And seriously, he averaged a minute per mile faster than me for the entire distance. He is a beast!!!

I hung out at the finish for a while, cheered in Pam who came in well under the old course record as well in 7:53 and enjoyed the sunshine which was (thankfully) just poking out. Beth, Mike and I headed over to the Old Fashioned for a late celebratory lunch and it really made my day to be able to spend some good time with them.

Split Calculations
CheckpointMileageTimePace  DistanceTimePace 
1st Loop - 10 Km 6.214 47:04.5  7:34.5 
2nd Loop - 20 Km 12.427 1:34:15.5  7:35.1  6.21 47:11.0  7:35.7 
3rd Loop - 30 Km 18.641 2:20:49.9  7:33.3  6.21 46:34.4  7:29.7 
4th Loop - 40 Km 24.855 3:06:46.3  7:30.9  6.21 45:56.4  7:23.6 
5th Loop - 50 Km 31.069 3:53:12.5  7:30.4  6.21 46:26.2  7:28.4 
6th Loop - 60 Km 37.282 4:40:48.7  7:31.9  6.21 47:36.2  7:39.7 
7th Loop - 70 Km 43.496 5:26:51.3  7:30.9  6.21 46:02.7  7:24.6 
8th Loop - 80 Km 49.710 6:14:16.6  7:31.8  6.21 47:25.3  7:37.9 
9th Loop - 90 Km 55.923 7:01:25.9  7:32.2  6.21 47:09.3  7:35.4 
10th Loop - 100 Km 62.137 7:46:33.4  7:30.5  6.21 45:07.5  7:15.7 

It was a whirlwind weekend. I flew back to San Francisco crazy early Sunday morning. Before I could even think about it, the amazing experience, the sheer gravity was slipping through my fingers. In some ways as I write this blog post, it feels like it is something that I experienced in a dream. I am so excited to once again be a part of Team USA and represent at the 100k Worlds in the Netherlands in September. I am curious to see what I can do. In the end, I am glad I took a chance to run this race, it was an insane idea but it worked out. I would like to say that I am kicking me feet up and enjoying some well-deserved recovery time, but the reality of the situation is, I am on to the next adventure in just another week! And I couldn't be more excited. Thank goodness I don't seem to be that sore!

Insanity by any other name... sounds like a good idea?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Insanity by any other name would sound like a good idea?

One week from today I will celebrate my 4 year anniversary of running my first 100k road race and qualifying for the WC100k team. That picture above is from after that race. My friend Mackenzie is taking great joy in dumping ice into an ice bath after I ran around in single digits for more than 8 hours.

Last year, I didn't run on the US team because of a lot of reasons, but my enthusiasm for being a part of the team has never diminished. I love the 100k road event. I love the team, I love the excitement of running the world championships, I thrive at the distance. One of my big goals for the year was to run for the team again this year. The WC100k is back in the Netherlands where I ran my first worlds 4 years ago. I love that course and the race support is immense. Even though that was one of my "A" goals for the year, I hadn't planned on running Mad City to re-qualify for the team. In fact, I naively thought that my 50 mile time at Tussey would have easily secured my place on the team. Unfortunately, the way the team is selected, my spot based on that time is tenuous at best.

A few weeks after Houston, as I tried to decide what race to try and do another attempt at the OT qualifier standard, I received an email from my coach Howard, who was also a long time team member of the US 100k team. He told me that he thought I should run Mad City and explained the selection process for the team. I was faced with a decision. I could either run National Marathon like I had planned (March 26th) and hope my Tussey time got me in or I could push my qualifier earlier, run LA marathon and then run Mad City 100k three weeks later. Neither situation was ideal but on my coaches advice, I tentatively agreed with the second option. I was more keen to run LA marathon and ultimately that turned out brilliant. Until LA was over, I didn't think or consider Mad City in any way. I didn't want it to affect my race at LA. It was not a reality until I crossed the finish line at LA or much of one until the warm fuzzies started to wear off and I came down from my race high.

Feels like only yesterday, oh wait it almost was.

It is barely two weeks after LA and I am packing my bags and preparing to head to Madison to try and make the team. I am equally un-prepared for this race as I was when I ran it 4 years ago. Then I had never run a race over 50k and now, I haven't done a single specific training run for Madison and my longest runs have been two fast marathons. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I am doing the same thing over again and hoping for the same result, so I guess that makes it a good idea. Right? Right.

I am not sure what to expect from this race. I really don't have any expectations which I guess is a good thing. I haven't had time to consider a strategy or what will carry me through the day. I finally got around yesterday to even calculating out some splits for my goal pace. I think my bigger challenge is going to be running nearly a minute and a half slower per mile than my marathon. I am going to have to remember patience and moderation in a hurry. Even though most trail ultrarunners would never consider a road race an adventure, that is kind of how I see this race. It will be an adventure and an experiment of what hard marathon training means for a much longer ultra. I am very curious to see how it plays out.