50 Miles of Gratitude: (12) Training & XTERRA Events

….and My Story Runs On….

I am still determined to finish my 50 blogs posts about my first 50 miler that happened almost a year ago! When I blog about a topic that I can relate back to it, then I just keep adding to it!

Yesterday, I did the XTERRA White Tank 20K “race”. I put race in parenthesis as you know I normally use races as training runs for my bigger races (first 100K in 6 weeks!). I already blogged about Aravaipa races awhile back.

This race is no joke from an elevation profile. Their website describes it as:

“For those who prefer a course with pain and punishment, the long course is 20k of grueling single track with over 1500 feet of climbing. Starting from the group campground, runners wind their way up Ironwood to the Waddell trail. Once you reach the first aid station be prepared to go up, the next three miles are all climbing….”  You can see my Tom Tom results here.

Cheryl Miller from Miller Endurance Coaching is one of their sponsors and she hosted a preview run a few weeks ago that I was able to attend. I actually did this race back in 2012 when I was training for my first marathon but I can’t find my results anywhere. At any rate, I knew what I was getting myself into…

Which is why I wanted to do it!  Hills are part of most trail races and I love to train on them to keep improving my ChiRunning technique.  White Tanks are also a great change of scenery for me so I was excited to do this one.

First I want to thank XTERRA because a portion of their race proceeds go to my favorite local charity Girls On The Run Maricopa County (GOTR-I’m currently on their board of directors serving as Secretary). If I’m not racing their events, I’m volunteering because I really appreciate their support!

Now on to my learning lessons from this race!

The more running story develops year after year, I have found that I prefer to preview runs if I have a chance. This gives me a chance to get familiar with the course and know what to expect vs the element of surprise that I used to like more before. Even though I did part of the course backwards on the preview run, I knew what I was getting into!

Even though this was a “training” run, I wanted to race it…my version of racing it 😉 My race strategy was:

  • Bring my hydration pack so I wouldn’t need to stop at any of the aid stations.
  • Power hike the uphills and run as much of the runnable part as possible
  • Focus/improve upon on my ChiRunning hill technique (runnable/non runnable hills, uphill and downhill. I just taught a ChiHills class yesterday so it was all fresh)
  • Continue to get more out of my comfort zone on rockier trails and improve my technique there
  • Get myself mentally psyched up and excited for this race no matter what (this has become a regular strategy for me. Why got all worked up and nervous?  I start thinking about the friends I will see, that I’m getting to spend a “few” hours in nature, getting some ME time, burning some calories, etc.  Literally think of as many positive things as I can to get pumped up for the race to get positive energy flowing)
  • Last but not least, as much as I don’t like always setting time goals for races, since I did the preview run in 3:17 and I wasn’t as racing, I was shooting for a 3 hour finish.

It was a beautiful day! I got there in plenty of time to pick up my packet and run into many friends including GOTR volunteers/board members.

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Holly is our Vice President and was racing as well!

I started running right away knowing that the grueling part would be around Mile 2. I had to stop momentarily at the first aid station to get this selfie with Bob and Cindy Hansen who are huge supporters of GOTR and I love seeing their smiling faces!

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Bob & Cindy Hansen, GOTR volunteer superstars! Love the rays of sun shining on us!

Then it was all uphill so I started power hiking and using my arms, core and obliques more (which are all sorer than my legs are today!) I knew I was at the back of the pack already but OK with that. Every time there was a wee bit of level terrain or not too many rocks, I ran a bit…however if I know I can power hike it faster and use less energy, that is my strategy. (one of the many things I love about trail running as it’s more “acceptable” to walk due to the hills.) I had several more friends at aid stations that called my name out as I ran by which is always motivating!

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We are pretty high up there! Pictures don’t do it justice for sure!

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If you look closely, you can see the trail on the other mountain going down hill…

It was finally time to come downhill!  Was cruising in several locations but the trail was rocky so this slowed me down more than I wanted.  I was really trying to focus on relaxing as much as possible as I know any tension mentally or physically slows me down (which is why I get pumped up before a race too…to keep from having mental stress!). I almost tripped a few times but never fell.

I hate looking at my watch to reach a time goal (again more mental tension) but at this point I could tell that I was close to my time goal. I had conserved my energy so I knew the last 2 miles should be pretty easy. I didn’t realize mile 11 was a wee bit of an uphill and I started walking a bit.  I knew I was cutting it close on the time goal so I decided to put my playlist on speaker just to change up my energy and get some motivation.  Funniest thing was that I turned it off in less than 2 minutes!  The music was too distracting. I was in a really good zone (had been for the entire race between my ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focusing, being present and truly enjoying the beauty of the trail.) On a side note, I find it interesting that as my running story continues to develop, I used to only be a social runner. I couldn’t run unless I had company and someone to talk to.  Now, my solo runs hold a special place. I can’t describe it but there is something to be said about being alone with yourself for hours in nature, running on a trail.  Time flies by somehow…Mile 11 was my hardest mile of the entire race and I started thinking I wanted it to be over with.  With 1.5 miles to go, I got it together and started really focusing more on my form and breathing. Before I knew it, I could see the finish line and was getting excited. I was at 2:52 and knew I would make it on time if I kept my pace…..and I did! My official time was a 2:57:37! (and my fastest mile was my last one!)

I felt amazing and was so dang proud of myself when I finished!….

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Thanks to my friend Diane for taking this awesome photo of me finishing! It truly describes how I felt!

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The GOTR Executive Team..2 of us running and 2 volunteering!

…..Until I started comparing myself to other runner friends….that is another blog post…for now, you can watch my 5 minute facebook live video from yesterday here.

All in all, this was one of my best races from strategy to how amazing I felt at the end.

Do you use races as training runs? Share your comments below!

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

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My badass friend Diane who is an Ironman and did her first 8K trail race!

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Selfie with Terry who is an amazing athlete who will be 60 this year and placed first in her age group and 13th woman overall!

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You know it’s going to be a great day with this sunrise!

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

My Next Big Running Goal on my Birthday Weekend!

….and My Story Runs On….

This is one of the many things I love about running.  Of course everyone has their own running story and you should NEVER compare yourself to any other runner.  But for me, I love the idea of continuously pushing myself to the next level.  As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I can attest to this!  Earlier this year I did my first 50 Miler at Antelope Canyon the day after my birthday.  Even though I finished dead last, I felt strong and really enjoyed it (I know, crazy talk)…so of course the next goal is to push myself to the next distance level…sooooooo

I’m excited to announce that I will be doing the Black Canyon Ultra 100K!
Why did I pick this one? In no particular order…

  • 100K is 62 miles so it’s the next step after a 50 miler.
  • It’s on 2/18/17 which is the day before my birthday and I love doing crazy things on my birthday to remind myself how grateful I am for every year I am on this Earth.
  • It’s an Aravaipa event and they are one of our local ultra/trail racing company. I’ve been doing their events since 2011 and they know how put on a good race!
  • I get a buckle! I’ll admit to feeling a bit weird about this because usually you get a buckle for a 100 miler…the other funny thing is that I really don’t wear belt buckles at all (I spend most of my days in workout gear!) but a buckle is like a rite of passage in some strange way.

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  • It’s a point to point race which means I get to cover 62 miles of our beautiful AZ landscape. One of the reasons I love ultra running is the ability to visit places I’ve never seen before and enjoy Mother Nature.
  • Aravaipa is hosting training runs on the entire course over 3 months which means I’ll get to preview the entire course before running it.  Last Sunday I got to run the first 19 miles and loved it.  It was mostly single track downhill.  The hardest part for me is being afraid of heights. Some parts of the single track were very close to the edge of the canyon but the more I practice, the easier that will get….I hope!
  • There is some cool history about this trail:  “This historic trail is of national significance, following a route used since the times of pre-historic Native American travelers and traders.  The Department of the Interior officially established the route as a livestock driveway in 1919, when it was used by wool growers from the Phoenix area to herd sheep to and from their summer ranges in the Bradshaw and Mingus Mountains. The Black Canyon National Recreation Trail was originally designed as a livestock driveway. Many segments of the trail roughly parallel the old Black Canyon stagecoach road between Phoenix and Prescott.”

I still can’t believe I am doing it but as crazy as it seems, I’m very excited. I’ve already started training and have already changed a few things from my 50 mile training:

  • I’m spending even more time stretching and foam rolling.  I’ve added more strength training to my weekly routine.
  • I’m also varying my running workouts more than I did last year.  This course has a net downhill elevation profile with about the first half being downhill and the 2nd half will include uphill climbing as well as several river crossings (which I used to be afraid of before but having done this several times now, I’m much more comfortable with it).  So I am doing more speedwork and hill training. I’m also planning on doing more night trail running as I know I’ll be out there at night time.
  • I still take 2-3 runs a week and listen to ChiSchool on shuffle so I can continue to improve on my ChiRunning form (my running form had the biggest improvement last year when I did this for the 50 miler). And I will continue to use the same nutrition advice I got for my 50 miler.

One of the other big motivators for me is that I’ll be raising money for Girls On The Run Maricopa County again via their SoleMates program. Last year, I raised $2100 so I want to bump that up to $2300 at least.  I am on the Board of Directors and this organization means so much to me.  If I only had this program when I was in elementary or junior high school! I want to help as many young girls as possible be part of the program so they can learn to dream big and activate their limitless potential!

What is the next challenge you are taking to get out of your comfort zone?

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

Running Marathons at 70?!

….and My Story Runs On….

Why are you limiting yourself?  These are the words that struck Ila Brandli one day and turned her into a marathon maniacShe heard these words at 62 years old and hasn’t looked back since.  Today, at the amazing age of 70, she has completed 150 marathons/ultras (8 of them are Ultras)! This number keeps changing as I write this blog…I can’t even keep up with her! She’s completed a marathon in each state twice! In February of 2015 she completed 8 marathons on 7 continents in 11 days in a row! (was supposed to be 7 but Antartica was fogged in)

When we started the interview, I asked her about the number of marathons she completed.   She said “Hold on, let me look at my spreadsheets. “ She pulls out her iPhone and has 3 different spreadsheets:

  1. to track her half marathons in different states
  2. to track her full marathons in different states
  3. to track her upcoming events.

I love this lady!

I met Ila at a free ChiRunning clinic I had at REI in Tempe several years ago. Then she reappeared at Running For Brews Tempe (I’m the Organizer).  I summarized the answers from the interview I had with her about a month ago.

Why did you start running?
First time she started running, she was challenged by her boss around the age of 42.  She couldn’t walk a mile without a side ache.  She never did any exercise through most of my adult life.  Second time around, she did it to look and feel better.

When did you start running?
First time: she was challenged by her boss to do her first half marathon (13.1 miles) in November of 1998. She did two 5ks, a 10K and a 12K before that half so she knew what to expect.  Her boss did the half marathon too but she beat him. Her knees starting hurting her and she quit running for awhile.  In 2000, she completed multiple 5Ks, 10K and a 1 half marathon.  By this time, she had found out about orthotics which helped her knee issue…so no more knee pain.
In 2007 she signed up for Team in Training and did first marathon  in Anchorage, AK.  She dedicated it to her dad and swore she would never do one again (because it hurt, she was sore, and had injuries including IT band issues).
A friend from Seattle called and wanted to do a marathon with her daughter before she got pregnant. She called Ila because she wanted an “experienced” marathoner. She survived that one at the age of 62.
2013 was turning the point to “craziness”.  A lady had a jacket that said Titanium 100 miles and asked Ila: “Why are you limiting yourself?”  She looked at her schedule and did 35 marathons that year!  She completed several series including 5 in 5 days.
Her problem is that if there is a challenge out there, she’ll take it. 

How did ChiRunning help you?
She took the ChiRunning workshop in 2013 with Mark Wallis (he was my mentor when I became an instructor!) and told her she was doing everything wrong.  She’s been practicing ever since.  ChiRunning keeps her from getting injured and allows her the additional stamina to do what she does.

What are some of your major accomplishments?
She’s completed 100 half marathons (4 more states and she will have completed 2 in every state. This may have changed since the interview..as I said, I can’t keep up!).
She’s completed 152 marathons (I have to keep checking her record on the Marathon Maniac page because this number is literally changing daily!).  She completed a marathon in each state twice and 11 out of the country.   Her 100th was in Antartica (was supposed to be the Phoenix Marathon).  The one in Chili was 98 and Antartica was supposed to be 99.  She did a 2nd one in Chili to make it 99 so Antartica was 100 and Phoenix was 101.
In February of 2015, she tackled 8 marathons, on 7 continents in 11 days. (knew she could do this already because she had in the US). But the stress is very different, you are flying overnight, then running, then flying overnight again fly at night, etc.
She completed 8 ultra marathons (an ultra is more than a 26.2 marathon). 212 miles in 4.5 days at Across The Years.  ATY was training for the 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days.  She had injured her toe in mid December 2 weeks before ATY. She didn’t go to the doctor because she knew they would put her in a boot (I don’t recommend this!) Her goal was 300 miles but she knew she couldn’t do 50 miles a day with the foot injury and didn’t want to jeopardize the 7 continents marathon tour! She “settled”  for 212 miles which is her longest to date back to back.  She was very proud of this because in 4.5 days she had accomplished 7 marathons within that time with less than desired sleep.  She purposely went over 7 hours to prove you can do it and don’t have to be elite athlete to complete marathons and ultras.

What is your favorite race?
The most emotional was the Baton Memorial Death March because of WW Vets and the units running together.
Antartica has to have a special spot because of the trouble getting there and camping overnight….and it’s Antartica!

What are your obstacles?
She’s currently dealing with some shoulder issues due to a fall in May. She has issues with heat and doesn’t perspire.  She has to be careful with her feet but doesn’t need the orthotics as much due to ChiRunning and her favorite shoes, Altras. (mine too!)

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to start running?
Find enjoyment in it!  It’s about the accomplishment.  You do it because you enjoy it.  You don’t need to love it because there is a love/hate relationship with running.  There are things you can control and things you can’t and you work on what you can—

How do you plan out your races?
It depends on what her goal is—looks at different websites, will contact race directors to check cutoff times, looks at race results and to make sure there are slower people.  She gets excited when she can do two back to back, she tries to double up when she can to save on travel expenses.

What do you think about when you’re running?
Majority of the time she is working on her form and relaxing. She finds a target: could be a time or a person that she wants to shoot for.  She is constantly looking at the scenery. When she is doing loops like ATY she uses them as speed intervals. Sometimes she is with people.  She loves meeting unique people who have different stories (met youngest gal who did all 7 continents in Antartica. )

What is your nutrition like?
She uses Tailwind but can’t take it full strength. A cold beer at the end is always a good thing! She uses Arnica when flying/driving for swelling.

What do you do in your spare time?
She volunteers for Aravaipa and different races, at the Mesa Art Center, and does taxes for AARP during the tax season. She has raised money for some of her events: she was a Solemate for Girls On The Run when she did ATY and 7 continents.  She is heading to St. George and raising money for GOTR again.

What is your next big goal?
By January 2017, she is planning to have completed 40 marathons and 40 half marathons  in 2016.

So are you really to old to run and achieve goals? Not according to Ila…or me!  I mean I can’t even keep up with her, I just checked her Marathon Maniacs page and as of today (9/22/16) she is at #152!

Here are a few great quotes from AZcentral.com (2014):
She took up running marathons at 62 and recently ran seven full marathons in seven days. Why? “Because I can,” she said with a sly smile, adding, “Sometimes I win the age group because I’m the only one out there.” AZcentral.com

Ironically, this was her original plan when she was interviewed by AZCentral.com on 3/2/2015:
“I plan to run marathons in my 60s, and I won’t be 70 until December,” she said. “I’ll run half marathons in my 70s, 10Ks in my 80s, 5Ks in my 90s and after that, I’ll run in anything they’ll let me into with a walker.”

For some strange reason, I don’t think she’s giving up marathons at 70!

If you’d like to support her: you can make a donation to her fundraising page or come to Running for Brews on Tuesday, 9/27/16 as we host a 50/50 raffle for her.

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Found this on her facebook page…”only” 50?? LOL

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You will also find Ila dressed in various themes when running. I think Wonder Woman is very appropriate for her!

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8 marathons on 7 continents in 11 days (Antartica got fogged in)

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We got to hang out while volunteering at Javelina Jundred last year on the night shift!

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When she is not out of state running a half or full marathon on Tuesday nights, she is at Running for Brews!

 

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

Week #6 Recap- 50K/50Mile Training

….and My Story Runs On….

This was my 50K training plan for the week:

Week Of Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Miles
12-Oct 6 0 4 6 6 0 18 10 44

Here is how my week went:

  • Monday is a rest day and I’m really starting to enjoy these.  I love not having to schedule my alarm and I let my body/mind sleep as long as I can. I got 8 hours and 37 minutes according to my Jawbone (this also gives me 3 sweepstakes entries for Krowdfit!)
  • Tuesday: Did 5 trail miles at South Mountain with my friend Vicki. I focus on some hiking as I know I won’t be running the entire time during the event. I also started on some sandy washes since Antelope Canyon is 30 miles of sand.
  • Wednesday: I woke up later than I wanted to (Running for Brews the night before) and it was tough to get motivated. Did 6 road miles.  Focused on Y-Chi as I learned some new things between Danny’s ChiSchool webinar and the lesson for that week. Had some great aha moments with it!
  • Thursday: Training plan called for 6 miles today and was trying to figure out how and when to get them in..had an epiphany before I went to bed…so I ran to my track workout, coached my peeps, ran to my parents for breakfast and then ran back home! (I always get less mileage than my track participants as I’m coaching them individually on technique)
  • Friday: Rest day (traveled to Tucson for a free ChiRunning clinic on Friday night and a full workshop on Saturday)
  • Saturday:  I knew there was no way I was getting 18 miles in since I had a 4 hour ChiRunning workshop from 12-4pm.  My original plan was 12 (I figured I would do 12 on Sat and 12 on Sun).  My friend Lori happened to be down there visiting her family so we made plans to check out the Sweetwater Preserve (I’ve been there once but remembered how much I liked it).  The plan was to meet there at 6:30am….unfortunately the rain and lightening kept us from starting at that time and I almost blew it off because I fell back asleep but thankfully she texted me and said “Let’s do it.”.  Her nephew Joey, an avid runner came with us to explore the trails that we hadn’t been on.  We were going for 6 miles since I needed time to get ready for my class but somehow we got lost and ended up doing 8 beautiful miles with a bit of rain as well.  I had to rush to my class but it was a beautiful run.
  • Sunday: My goal was to do 12-14 miles at McDowell Mountain and do part of the 50K Frenzy course.  A few friends came out with me and we did another gorgeous trail run…thankfully the sun stayed behind the clouds for most of it and we explored another new trail.

My training for the week finished like this:

12-Oct 6 0 4 6 6 0 18 10 44
0 5.3 6 6 0 8 12 37.3

I did a little less of the weekly mileage than I was supposed to do but still happy all considering.  As always, I foam roll my calves almost nightly, do leg drains and hit the hot tub a few times just to loosen up the muscles.

Aha moments this week:  

  • I may have been a little tight but overall not sore at all!  I really attribute this to ChiRunning as my goal is to always be as energy efficient as possible and use my body correctly so I don’t re-injure myself as I’m adding miles.
  • As mentioned above, focused quite a bit on YChi and had some great aha moments, the biggest one was feeling total leg relaxation as my mind/body were so focused.
  • ChiRunning Form Focuses: working on peeling my feet (especially in sand) rather than pushing with my calf muscles which takes up a lot of energy and more potential for injury.

Fundraising update: I’ve set a goal for myself to raise $5,000 for Girls On The Run.  I’m on their Board of Directors and this is a charity I’m really passionate about as running has changed my life and I wish I would’ve started earlier.  I sent a blast to my newsletter about various ways people/businesses can help out with the charity.  From that email, I received two $50 donations.  Find out more here.

Previous blogs posts in this series:

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