50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running

….and My Story Runs On….

WOW…I am really slow at blogging! My goal is to write 50 blog posts about my first 50 miler and I’m only on #9!

Getting ready for a 50 miler is no joke.  If you want to train properly, you have to invest the time into training.  I used the Ultraladies training plan which was easy to follow.  

The hardest part about training for me is getting the long weekend runs.  Ultra running training is about doing long back to back runs on the weekend so your body and mind know what it’s like to run on tired legs.  Even though we have plenty of long trails, the hard part about training runs is that you either need to have all your food/drink with you for those 20+ miles (downside is that you have to carry more stuff), or you need to do loops and keep your refueling in the car (downside it that it’s easy to stop after a loop when you are back to your car) or you can run races as training runs!

This is where Aravaipa Running comes in the pictures.  The 2 major trail running companies here are Aravaipa and XTERRA (more on them in another blog post).

I love running races because you get a shirt, a pint glass, a nice trail and aid stations so it’s probably my favorite way to get a training run in.  In can get expensive but the great thing is that they offer volunteer opportunities so you can get race credits. It’s a great way to give back to the community and then pay for upcoming races!  The other thing is that depending on how I am feeling on that day, I might choose to push myself a bit harder since I’m in a “race” atmosphere.

I did my first 50K with Aravaipa and two others (Elephant Mountain (1st), Frenzy (2nd) and Crown King (3rd) ).  McDowell Mountain Frenzy was a training run for my 50 mile race. So was the Coldwater Rumble (20 miles).  One of the advantages of doing their races is that you have plenty of time to finish them. They usually have at least a 50K or 50 miler or 100 miler so as long as you finish within that time, you have no problem. Just always check to see what the course cut off is and you are good to go.

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I love my pint glass selection and a few are missing..probably the only thing I would like to be different as you can really only fit so many of these in your cupboard😉

As I write this post, they also have a night trail running series (Insomniac Series) during the summer which are a blast! I remember when I thought trail running was crazy, let alone running at night time on a trail.  But that is now my favorite type of running! I just finished the Adrenaline 26K last weekend (haven’t blogged as I didn’t have time but this is my mini paragraph about it right now.).  This is my favorite! First of all, McDowell mountains have some of my favorite trails.  I also ran this race a few years ago (it was my first night trail run!) and I was hoping to beat my time…which I did!  It was another epic race for me as I shaved 21 minutes off my time from 2014!  Click here for some pics of that run😉 (I’m training for my 4th 50K in Capitol Reef on 7/9/2016) I’m at 22 seconds in this video they made!

I considered doing an Aravaipa race as my first 50 miler because I love supporting local businesses, especially those that support the running community so well.  The main reason I didn’t is because I wanted to see a new place so that’s why I chose Antelope Canyon (and Elaine practically twisted my arm😉 and it was over my 45th birthday weekend )

Aravaipa Running also offer a variety of group runs weekly rotating around the Phoenix area.  They are a blast with a lot of fun people!  Check them out!

Click here50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race Report: Crown King Scramble 2016

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….and My Story Runs On….

“Come on, you’re already trained” she said.  These words coming from my friend Suzi who years ago swore she would never trail run yet ran me in my last mile of my 1st 50K, just did her first ultra in February (Black Canyon 60K) and now decided to do her 2nd one.  My boyfriend Greg kidded around and said, “Serves you right.  Now you know what it feels like when you’re trying to get people to drink the Kool Aid.”  Soooooo….I signed up for Aravaipa’s Crown King Scramble 50K.

This race is no joke…The Crown King Scramble is a point to point uphill 50 kilometer foot race which starts at 1700 feet elevation and tops out at mile 28.7 at 6520 feet elevation before a final 600 foot descent into the finish.  This is the elevation profile:

Elevation profile!

Elevation profile!

We had an option for the early start at 5am and I’m glad we took it. Not only did it get us out of the heat for the one hour but more importantly, it took the edge off for getting to the first cutoff (disqualification point) at mile 15.3 in 3.5 hours.  (After the cutoff experience at Antelope Canyon, I knew I didn’t want that extra stress again.)

I considered going for a personal record (my best time for a 50k is 8:19 but I knew this race may not be the right one).  And of course, I was “lucky” again and had the same issue as my last 50K (yes, it was that time of the month again!).  I decided I was just going to enjoy the race and our beautiful Arizona landscape.  One of the things I love most about trail running is being outdoors and enjoying nature.

We barely got there in time and got in the start line about 2 minutes before starting. This was the first ultra for Deb and Kerri, Suzi and Krista’s 2nd, and my 4th. Unfortunately Elaine had the flu and wasn’t able to join us (she’s done two 50 milers but hadn’t done a 50K yet).

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I normally like to do my body looseners but didn’t have time for that. My plan was to run the first 15 miles as much as possible as I knew I would be hiking a lot of the 2nd half. The weather was perfect. It was still dark so we had headlamps but we got to see an amazing sunrise!  I love that I know quite a few people that are trail/ultra runners. I ran into several friends along the way and got to catch up with them a bit.  I met Deborah and Mark a long time ago when I co-taught a ChiRunning workshop for the Mountain Milers group in Prescott.  As much as I wanted to run this part, I was in no rush and wanted to conserve energy for later. This first half had some rolly polly hills but nothing crazy yet.  The night before, I had reviewed a few of my ChiSchool videos on breathing and steep hills so I started focusing on my form and matching my breathing with my footsteps.

From miles 15-19 we started getting the harder hills.  I was by myself on and off and totally OK with that.  I love to run with people just as much as I love being alone on a trail.  I saw Chris, Amanda and Mechaela.  I couldn’t wait to get to the Mile 19 aid station as I know several of my friends were volunteering there. It’s always great to see your friends at aid stations (it’s always a hard choice to pick in between running a race and volunteering at one!).  I normally stick to my nutrition plan (thanks to Brooke who helped with my 50 miler!) but the theme of their aid station was Fiesta and they had some Tecate so I had to have a small shot glass of beer😉. Surprise: Baby G Growler was there as well!  He is the mascot of Running for Brews Tempe (a social running club that I’m in charge of) Right before this I saw my friend Krista and she wasn’t feeling too well. We got up the aid station and I told her to cool off (it was getting warm) and get some food down.  There is also an elevation change to consider for this race and it’s easy to feel nauseated (I felt it several times).  She felt better and we moved on.  My TomTom died at some point because the storage was full.  This never happened for me and was a good learning lesson.I hadn’t downloaded quite a few of my training runs apparently so it didn’t have enough storage for my run. I was a bit annoyed at first but it was a blessing in disguise.  When you don’t know what mile you are at, it’s quite liberating. We just kept setting our next goal to get to the next aid station.

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Cooling off and getting food at the aid station with Krista

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Beer shot with a random stranger names Patrick at the aid station

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My good friend Lori at the aid station volunteering😉

I ran into a few more friends.  Marina and Jamie were doing their first ultra. Marina’s been having some calf issues so I gave her a few tips on how to limit using it.  I also met Becki and ran into Lynsey (both of their first ultras too!). We did quite a bit of leap frogging for the remainder of the race.  At some point, I tripped over a rock and had a little tumble. Not a big deal…it’s actually been a long time since I fell trail running so I was due for a fall.  I normally am able to catch my balance before falling but my hydration pack was full and I couldn’t counter balance the fall.  I barely got a few scrapes on my hand and we kept moving. I heard my friend Tommy coming up behind us and he’s a great runner and positive guy.  He ran with us for a bit, shared his big smile and positive energy and then moved on.

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Selfie with Tommy and Krista

The Fort Misery Aid station was at mile 22.3.  Apparently they win Best Aid Station contest every year and it was evident by the amount of alcohol they had available.  Again, not something I would normally do but I was feeling good so I had a small Bloody Mary and was proud of myself for resisting the Fireball shot.

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Open Bar coming up!

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Why not have a Blood Mary?

This was the hardest part of the run. You can see how far we climbed. We passed creeks which were great for dunking our hats and buffs. I walked through them purposely as the cold water felt really good on my feet.  I had an extra pair of socks for back up but never used them.  We also had to deal with ATVs and cars four wheel driving. We knew this would be possible as they can’t close the forest road down.  It was a bit annoying although most people were very nice.The smell of diesel from their vehicles was worst than the dust they were creating.

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Creeks! We were looking forward to these!

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We came a long way up that hill!

It’s really weird because sometimes you look back and think, wow, what was I thinking/saying for all that time?  Somehow the time goes by chatting with friends and enjoying the scenery.  I have lived in AZ for over half of my life and have never seen this part of our state.

One of my favorite parts was when we started getting into the pines. The tag line for the race is “spines to pines” because we leave the desert landscape at Lake Pleasant and get to Crown King which is at 6700 feet of elevation. I love the smell of pine trees and hearing the wind blow through the needles.  The slight breeze felt good too.  The last aid station was 2 miles away from the top of the hill and we knew we had 2 miles of downhill after that. We were close!  We kidded around about our heavy legs and whether they would remember how to run downhill (free energy!) after doing so much hiking.

Running downhill was no problem and before we knew it, we were in “town” and people were directing us to the finish line.

My official time was 8:45:22.  Considering I had no expectations for this race other than enjoy it and finish it, I’m happy with it!  As a matter of fact, this is a 50K I would consider doing again. I love a challenge and I love hills.  If I do it next year, I may try and PR the course but for now, I’m just happy to have my 4th Ultra under my belt. I will say finishing a 50 miler 6 weeks prior to this definitely boosted my confidence.  I also love to finish a race feeling strong rather than feeling like a truck ran over me.  I finished strong and even though I was a bit sore the next day, I felt great!

I personally would recommend this race. It’s no joke so make sure to train for the hills and elevation (physically, nutritionally and mentally). Read other blog posts to get the scoop but make sure to have a buff to cover your mouth and nose when there is dust being kicked up.  If you are worried about time, do the early start. It was well worth not worrying about the cutoffs and having an hour in the cooler weather.

I would also recommend spending the night. We stayed at one of these cabins (highly recommend them!) and enjoyed Crown King.  We had dinner at the Saloon and breakfast at Prospector Mall (both were yummy).  And last but not least, you cannot leave Crown King without visiting the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club on the way back to I-17.

Not only was this another great race, but another great weekend with good friends!  Love my running friends and the fact that I have more of them getting into trail running but more importantly into ultra running! Thanks to Aravaipa Running for putting on another amazing event!

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At the Cleator Bar and Yacht club and “ran” into Jamil, the Aravaipa Running Race Director

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Hanging with my friends and the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club😉

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Mascots! Baby G Growler and Baby E-vil from Running for Brews and Vaip Daddi from Araviapa Running chilling at Cleator Bar and Yacht Club😉

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Sunrise!

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My first finisher jacket! Well deserved I might add!

 

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (8) Altras & Meeting the Co-Founder

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….and My Story Runs On….

I love meeting people while running. Sometimes people run past you and just say hi or good job and sometimes they will chat with you.  I have personally found that trail and ultra runners tend to be a bit more laid back and more open to a quick chat while in the middle of a race.

So while Elaine and I were in Waterhole Canyon after the 28.5 Aid Station, we found ourselves in a bit of an obstacle course.  There were several ladders that we had to climb to get up and over some of the cliffs.  At one point, we were right behind this guy….and after he got over the ladder, Elaine went right after him…well, it wasn’t the easiest ladder to get up and over so while he was still there, she asked him to help her up.  He was very nice and helped her…and I needed help too.  I remember hearing him say something about “your hat” and “your shoes” but I was concentrating on not falling off the ladder.

One of the ladders we had to go over. (picture courtesy of http://www.runningwithoutlimits.com/antelope-canyon-50k-not-always-what-you-expect/)

One of the ladders we had to go over. (picture courtesy of http://www.runningwithoutlimits.com/antelope-canyon-50k-not-always-what-you-expect/)

We ran a bit together and Elaine asked him, “Why did you mention the hat and shoes? Are you an Altra Ambassador?” (Elaine had her Altra hat and I had my favorite Altra Lone Peaks shoes).  He was pretty humble about it and said…well, I’m actually the co-founder, Jeremy Howlett.  Whoa!  How cool was this?  As a running coach, I’m not one to be tied to a particular brand of shoes but if there is one brand that I tend to use the most, it’s Altras. I was so excited to have a chance to meet him! I told him I was a ChiRunning Instructor (we tend to like Altras because they a natural shoe for your foot: Zero Drop™, wide toe box) and how much I love the shoes.  He said he knew Danny Dreyer (the founder of ChiRunning) and mentioned what a great guy he was and how supportive he is of the shoes as well.

Met Jeremy Howlett, the co-founder of Altra shoes ;)

Met Jeremy Howlett, the co-founder of Altra shoes😉

We chit chatted with him for awhile and then started running again. We leap frogged with him a few times and then we lost each other.

I met a few other cool people that I’ll be blogging about. I’m very grateful for my Altra shoes and so glad I had the chance to run and chat with Jeremy!

My current Altras: 1 pair of trail shoes, 1 hybrid and 1 road shoe

My current Altras: 1 pair of trail shoes, 1 hybrid and 1 road shoe

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My friends love their Altras too!

For any of my local peeps that like to support our local shoe stores, you can find them at I-Run and Sole Sports!

(I am not an Ambassador for Altras….yet…might have to look into it though!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (7) My Epic Finish Line

Video

….and My Story Runs On….

I normally don’t like to post videos that are over a few minutes but I was doing a speech project for my Toastmasters club so I figured I’d make it into a blog post too.  Toastmasters is one of my other passions.  I’m already a Distinguished Toastmaster and I’m working on my 2nd one now.  This speech was from the Advanced Manual, The Entertaining Speaker and it was Project #4 which is The Dramatic Talk (scroll to project 4 if you click on link). My objectives for the speech were:

Project 4 – A Dramatic Talk
Dramatic stories are another way to entertain an audience. Through drama you create images in listeners’ minds, which enhance and add interest to your message. Vocal variety is critical in a dramatic talk. Vary the volume, pitch and rate of your words. Also convey drama through your body language and facial expressions. Make sure your voice and body language reinforce, not dominate, your verbal message.

Objectives

  • Develop an entertaining dramatic talk about an experience or incident
  • Include vivid imagery, characters and dialogue
  • Deliver the talk in an entertaining manner

Time: five to seven minutes (I did 6-8 min)


You may have to turn up the volume as I didn’t have a microphone. The “script” is below if you want to read it instead.

I realized when I was running this morning that today is the 20th of March and it’s been 30 days since my race!  I’m obviously not writing a blog a day but my goal is still 50 blog posts for the 50 miles.

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

“Script of Speech”

Introduction: Lisa Pozzoni is delivering a speech from the Advanced Manual: The Entertaining Speaker. This is Project 4: A Dramatic Talk. Her objectives are to develop an entertaining dramatic talk about a personal experience.  She is to include vivid imagery, characters and dialogue while delivering the talk in an entertaining manner.

Lisa has been a Toastmaster since 2004. She has already achieved the highest level of Toastmasters: Distinguished Toastmaster and is working on her second one.

Lisa is a running coach, the owner of The Running University and the only ChiRunning Instructor in Arizona.  Her passion is to help people cross finish lines they never thought possible.

Please help me welcome, Lisa Pozzoni, The Sands Of Time

Speech: It’s 4:30 am on Saturday, February 20th 2016.  I’m in a hotel room in Page, AZ.  I wake up super excited! It’s the day after my 45th birthday and a day I’ve been waiting for 5 months!

I’m sitting in the “library”, doing what most of us do: phone in hand, checking facebook and emails.  I know my friend Elaine is also up at this point so I send her this text (SLIDE ).

An hour and half later, at 6am, we find ourselves at the start line with 200+ other crazy ultra marathon runners getting ready to run 50 miles. This is Elaine’s 2nd 50 miler and my first!

The air horn goes off and we have 15 hours to complete our mission.  Plenty of time! I just did half that distance a few weeks before in 5.5 hours. (SLIDE) But we also have cutoffs to meet at specific aid stations.  If we don’t meet them, we are disqualified.  And then add about 40 miles of sand to run through but we trained for that …we got this!

Our first challenge was to get to the first aid station cutoff.  We had 3 hours and 15 minutes to get through 11.5 miles of sand.  Not only was there sand though, (SLIDE) we had the privilege of running through Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed canyons in the world!  We stayed focused while taking in the amazing scenery and kept running…BAM first cutoff made with 30 minutes to spare!

Our next challenge was to be at the 28.5 mile aid station by 2:40.  We knew we would have no problem….well, until we got to the hardest part of the run. (SLIDE ) You’d think the sand was the issue (not that it wasn’t) but all of the sudden we are on at Horseshoe Bend and climbing up and down cliffs. I was literally channeling my inner Spider Woman and was on all fours a lot!  At some points we are about 5-6 feet away from the huge canyon drop off (SLIDE) (I’m terrified of heights).  We kept waiting to see the road as we knew that would be the aid station but it felt like a scene from Groundhog day.  Up and over a cliff and the same exact scenery.  We were climbing and not running which slowed us down.  We finally could see the road but we were cutting it SO close! We got to that aid station at 2:29 BAM (high five), next cutoff made with 11 minutes to spare! We quickly grabbed some stuff and moved on.

Oh no! Here we go again as we approach Waterhole Canyon.  We arrive to the trail with a small danger sign right before it….takes a sharp right turn, then straight down….  I slowly creeped down on my butt the whole time until I reached the bottom. We went through a beautiful canyon and approached several ladders that we knew would be there.  OK getting up them but thankfully had some help getting us up and over.  We lost some GPS signal and my TomTom died.  (SLIDE ) We had no idea how far we were from the next aid station but we were cutting it really  close again. …we kept pushing each other until we could see the aid station from far away.

We got to the next cutoff at 4:04pm BAM (high five), next cutoff made with with 6 minutes to spare .  I gave my hydration pack to my boyfriend to fill it, got my snacks, and started heading out when I realized I forgot something. I forgot to give my honey a kiss!  I run back while Elaine is yelling at me, “the sweeper is going to be leaving any minute…let’s go!”  (SLIDE) We started walking real fast up the next sandy hill and kept looking behind us to make sure we stayed in front of the sweeper.  We are making the calculations …OK we have to do 5 miles in an hour and 40 minutes. We got this! More sand…we realized we hadn’t seen trail markers in awhile and lo and behold, we passed a turn. We had to back track a bit …and there was the sweeper again…I was literally 50 feet in front of her.

We get to mile 38.5 at 5:40 BAM (high five), next cutoff made with 10 minutes to spare. This was the last cutoff outside of the 15 hours to be done (9pm).  We had already agreed that Elaine could go at this point as I’m slower than her and I had a few friends who were going to pace me the rest of the way.  We were finally done with the sand and I could get a good running groove going.  My pacers were fresh and helped me stay focused.

I asked my friend Lori several times how were doing on time. We were OK but still cutting it close. We get to the very last aid station which is .75 miles away from the finish.  The guy very matter of fact says you have 10 minutes until 9pm.  No words of encouragement…just the facts.

I scoot down another hill on my butt…it’s dark now and we both have our head lights. Off the hill and there is more sand! WTH?!  I start swearing when from far away, I can hear my friend Susan yelling “come on.  You have 2 minutes.”  I’m seriously like, really?  I’ve been galavanting around the desert for the last 15 hours, cutting is so close several times, I was like, whatever…if I make it, I make it! She keeps screaming at us to hurry. I can’t see the finish line as I finish straight up a hill …now they are both screaming at me telling me to hurry…I turn the corner, I can hear the race director on the microphone, saying my name and something about my birthday. I can’t believe I’m sprinting at mile 49!  I look up at the clock right before I cross the finish line…

I cross the finish line at 14:59:10….….(SLIDE)

That was my most epic finish at any race! (SLIDE 10) Yep I was the last official person to cross the finish line!  In the racing world we call that .. DFL …as a running coach, I say:

Dead F Last is better than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start.

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….

(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (6) My Boyfriend!

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

….and My Story Runs On…. My boyfriend, my BBE (Best Boyfriend Ever), my running widower, Greg, Gregorio (that’s what my Italian parents call him ;) )….whatever we call him, he is one of the biggest reasons I am able to do … Continue reading