Monday, July 23, 2012

Volunteering at AC100 Ultramarathon

Photo by Stuart Fingerhut

Wow, what a crazy race! And my first race volunteer experience ever.

Ashley asked me if I wanted to volunteer with her a couple of months ago and we've been talking about it ever since. Last Friday, I couldn't believe it was time to finally head out there and spend the weekend helping runners as they got closer to the finish line.

Plan was to meet up with Ashley in Arcadia at her work so that I could transfer all the sodas I bought for the race. (13 2-liter bottles of coke and 2-13 packs of mountain dew and I think we used almost all of it!)
Everything seemed to be going well. I got there right at noon (and getting to places on time is an issue for me haha), we moved all the soda to her mom's truck that she was borrowing. And then when she goes to start the car, nothing. ?????!?!?! The car would not start. We were on hold with AAA for 20 minutes before they finally picked up and told us their servers were down and nobody would get to us for at least another hour and a half. It was 12:40 at this point and we needed to be at the gate to the trail at 1pm to meet up with the people who had keys or otherwise we would not be able to get up there!

After panicking for some time, we decided the best idea was to cram everything into my Xterra and head out. Ashley didn't think all the food supplies she had carefully and meticulously packed into the much bigger truck would fit into my smaller Xterra but there was no other choice. We moved everything to the other car and took off. By some miracle we made it there shortly after 1pm and met up with the HAM radio crew and the other 2 guys who were volunteering with us, Brian and Stuart.

The drive up there was INSANE. I happen to own a 4x4 but I never take it off-roading. I hate driving so really, unless I have to drive somewhere, my car usually sits nice and pretty in it's shaded parking spot. I asked Ashley to drive it because I did not want to be driving up the mountain, and there really was no way I would've driven up there without having a panic attack. Some spots were so sketchy that it felt like the could would just topple over and we'd be dead since there was nothing but air on the other side of the narrow trail. D: Beautiful views to run on but not for driving. Scary.

We all finally made it up safely to the Sam Merrill (mile 89.25) spot where we would be spending the weekend. We set up our aid station and decorated with lots of pink, balloons and lanterns, laid out all of the food (And there was not one thing Ashley didn't think of! Our station had probably the greatest variety I have ever seen!) And then there was a whole lot of waiting around until we saw our first runner at around 9pm. We had all changed into our nurse and surgical doctor (?) costumes because if you know Ashley and I, you'd know that we much rather do things like this is costume. The boys were good sports and wore the costumes she got for them. Thank goodness they were cool because I was afraid they were just going to look at us and be like "wtf?". We sat around drinking beer, listening to music, and chatting while we waited.

Between 9pm and midnight we only saw a handful of people and they were pretty spread out at the time. The leaders were in good spirits and really nice but they didn't really want to eat anything. During the rest of the night, the number of runners arriving at our aid station increased with the majority of them arriving in the morning once the sun was coming up. It got really busy at that time.
I cooked all of the warm food; bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwhiches. Once the sun came up, most people coming through wanted as much ice as they could have. All four of us were a frenzy of filling up water bottles and camebaks with ice and water, serving out coke, and cutting up watermelon for everybody.

Everybody was nice but you could tell they were exhausted after a full day of the hottest temperatures in the race's history (!) and a night of running in the dark with not much cooler temperatures. We tried to motivate them, feed them and hydrate them as well as we could and send them on their way. It's amazing what people can accomplish when they set their minds to do something. I still don't know if I'm mentally strong enough to embark on a 100-miler, nor do I have any desire really at this time. It just seems like pure misery to me. Especially this race. More than half of the runners DNF'd. I'm sure all of them are amazing athletes but those conditions were just BRUTAL this weekend. I was miserable just with the heat and sleeplessness and I wasn't even doing anything! I can't imagine being out there, and it's frankly not something I feel like testing myself against yet. Maybe someday but not right now.  

Overall, I learned a lot this weekend. And it was interesting to be on the other side. Great to see the determination on the athletes' faces that came through our aid station. Had a fun time and made new friends. Brian and Stuart were hilarious and such a huge help. Our sexy head nurse aid station leader Ashley was awesome as always and we actually got remarks from the male runners that they did not want to leave our awesome aid station. Haha.

After being awake for 31 hours when I was driving home yesterday afternoon slapping myself on the face to stay awake, I was super cranky and wishing I had stayed home in my air conditioned apartment snuggling with my doggy and my boyfriend. But today, I kind of miss being out there. If you ever have the time to volunteer at a race like this, totally go ahead and do it. It was crazy fun and inspirational.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Goodnight for now...

I shall return...

Um...sooooooo it's been a while, huh?

I really want to get back to blogging because I miss having a place to look back at past important events,

So I'm going to try and get back to recapping races from now on.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Operation Turn Yourself Into A Badass Ultrarunner begins today!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Track is tough!

So last night was my third track workout of the last month. The first time I've set foot on a track since high school track meets. And I'm not gonna lie it's been pretty mentally tough. Track is just so painful! Yes, it is rewarding afterward IF you managed to hit your splits but often times I find myself being too harsh on myself for a multitude of reasons. My form is awful but how do I even go about changing that? My arms and shoulders tense up so much and my stride is too short...I look funny. I give up too easily.

I've been going to the track with Jen the past 2 times. She's doing great and training with somebody has been good but also takes me back to years of high school track and that close competitiveness with your teammates. I really don't think I'm competitive. I am competitive with myself and I try to get faster but actually running next to somebody else when you are out of breath and wanting to drop at each is so mentally tough! It definitely helps to train with others because you have to push yourselves but it is so hard! I'm really hoping I can get better at this and I want to stop being so damn afraid of pushing myself past that pain threshold.
I didn't have a set goal for the track practice but I did significantly better than last time but my heart wasn't really in it and my knees were hurting some from the beginning. Today my legs are sore and my ITB is a little irritated so I'll need to massage before and after tonight's run.

Yesterday was such a crazy day.

5:40am wake up, brush teeth, get dressed
6:00am walk the dog
6:15am drove to work
5:00pm leave work
5:45pm get home and immediately leave for 2.5 mile hike with the dog
6:40pm return home, change clothes, eat half a banana
7:00pm drive to pick up Jen
7:30pm Track practice, 2 mi warm up, 4x400m w 400m recovery (should've been 6), 2 mi cool down
9:00pm Finish Track
9:30pm return home, cook dinner
10:00pm eat dinner, shower
11:00pm go to bed

And today is shaping up to be the same way. I can't wait to leave work and go home. I'm going to try to hit up Fryman tonight but I also have to take the pup out for a long walk because she's been at home alone for 12 hours :( I wish I had a doggy nanny. A danny? hahaha...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Southern California Ragnar Part 1

Where do I even begin with this?!

I can't believe it's been over a month since Ragnar SoCal. This was our 3rd go at one of the Ragnar Relays. Last year at SoCal '10, I met a wonderful group of people that have remained my friends and it seems like we've known each other forever already and it's only been a year!

Our second go at a relay was Ragnar Vegas 2010 but that ended up being a DNF for our small ultra group. But we will return for vengeance at the ultra distance again someday!

SoCal 2011- Huntington Beach to Coronado Island in San Diego!

Our start time was 6am on Friday, April 15th. So our plan was to meet up at our team captain's house in Burbank that morning at 4:30am *gasp*
Going into this race I knew that I had to get as much sleep as possible 2 nights before the race so that I didn't spend the entire time being a cranky zombie like I was last year when I only got about 2 hours of sleep the night before. So I got up at 4am. I had all my stuff ready to go and I waited for our new Van 1 teammate to pick me up. It turned out we live super close to each other. We got to Jen's house in Burbank just shortly after 4:30 and all 5 of us girls hopped in the van and headed to Huntington Beach!

So Van 1 runners: Jen F., Claudia, Jen S., Angelica, and myself. We were supposed to have six people in the van but one of our teammates (who had actually picked the LONGEST legs of the relay) dropped out 3 days prior to the race.

So we went into the race knowing that some of us were going to have to pick up some extra mileage just like last year. I offered to pick up an extra leg but I had not trained at all because I've been suffering from ITBS since October. So I was pretty nervous about being able to even run all of my own mileage. D:

Jen starting her first leg of the race!
We got to the starting line on time but somehow manage to miss our start time (my fault because I was trying to buy a safety vest that we didn't even need!) So Jen started with the next wave at 6:15am. Then we jumped in the van and drove to the next exchange to drop off her watch and gels since she didn't have time to grab those and she had 2 back to back legs to do!
Jen S. and Claudia waiting for Jen at the next exchange.
We met up with Jen, gave her her supplies and she took off again for her second leg! Rockstar!

Leg 1 was 5 miles on a trail next to a river. Pretty flat and boring and runners were pretty spread out. I was not in shape at all so shortly after 2 miles I was already tired hahaha. I knew it was going to be a LONG way to go for me this time around. I wore my tiger ears and tiger socks and all the cyclists on the trail kept laughing and giving me high fives. It was pretty funny.

Claudia, Jen, me, and Angelica waiting for van 2 at our 2nd major exchange.

Leg 2 was 5 miles alongside Lake Elsinore. I was pretty tired after my first leg so I was dreading this leg because it was 90 degrees out and all of it was facing traffic which gets kind of scary when the shoulder is very narrow. But after the first mile I felt great! I started to get that awesome runner's high and I powered on up the street to the next exchange. This was exactly what I had been missing all those months of not running. That feeling of freedom! I got to the exchange and Jen asked me how I was feeling, and I yelled "I feel great!"

Leg 3 was my night leg, thank goodness it was 8pm NOT 2am and it was super short. Just a little under 3 miles. It was still pretty scary though because at some point I was running all by myself in the middle of the road facing traffic because there was no sidewalk and no shoulder. The streets weren't busy but they also weren't well-lit so it kind of scary. I got freaked out a couple of times thinking I saw something move up ahead of me. D: I was so glad to finish this one!

Leg 4 was 7.4 miles in Carlsbad. It was BEAUTIFUL out there but boy was it a hilly leg!
This was Saturday morning after a short nap at a motel that my amazing teammates had booked ahead of time. I was feeling pretty tired but surprisingly my legs didn't feel like lead yet so I wanted to see if I could manage this leg. The longest run in months had only been 5 miles! 7.4 seemed like a challenge! There some crazy hills during the last couple of miles that seemed to go on forever! I walked a lot of the uphills but I still had fun and when I finally was able to go downhill, I flew down that hill like I had just stolen something haha! It felt so good to be DONE with my mileage! Now my teammates had to finish their legs and then it would be time for margaritas and maybe a siesta while we waited for Van #2 in Coronado!

Team photo minus myself at our 2nd major exchange.

Best tasting margaritas ever! We earned them!
So once all girls in Van 1 finished our legs, we handed off to Van 2 for one last time and headed to Coronado for some margaritas and lunch!
Right after Jen S. finished the last leg for Van 1! So happy!
To be continued...

I'm a total slacker...

Okay, so I'm totally awful about updating this thing but I really want to make it a habit.

1. Because it's a good way to hold myself accountable. And...

2. Because I miss having an online journal that I can look back on to remember certain experiences. It's a good way to keep track of your past when you start getting old and forgetting some of the cool stuff you used to do hahahaha...

So for starters, I've got a couple of races I've done this year (no serious running on my end) that I'd like to review. 

I finish this post with a picture of my dog, Render, because I take like a thousand pictures of her every day and I have to flood the internets with them.

Happy Running :)