Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Tale of Two Races (and one DNS)

(Just going to focus on the races here as writing about the whole NZ trip would make this incredibly long although I will write another post on New Zealand.)

Tarawera:

(Many of you know I got sick before Tarawera and I’m of course going to write about it, but I wanted to note that I see the whole race (and days before) as a great experience and totally positive minus two hours where I was a little upset about it.)

Two days before the Tarawera 100k (got shortened to 70k) I opened my eyes and knew something was off. My head felt heavy and my chest felt weird. I felt fine the day before so I thought that maybe I just accidentally ate something with gluten or got dehydrated. At breakfast I learned the hotel had a juicer I could use. Perfect! A few glasses of green juice was just the thing I needed. While I’m sure the green juice did me some good, whatever I had wasn’t about to just disappear. My head continued to feel heavy and I was developing a weird cough. I’d be fine for long amounts of time and then I’d have a coughing fit that sounded completely horrendous. Literally- I got asked a few times if I was okay.

In realizing I wasn’t going to be healthy before the race I had to make a choice, to run anyway or have a DNS. Honestly, I shouldn’t have started. In fact, had I been in the US and facing this choice, it wouldn’t have even been much of a decision. I was in New Zealand though; the number one place I have wanted to travel to for 10 years. I at least wanted to start. I made a plan to run only 20 miles and early on during the race I knew running only 20 miles was the right decision. Then I got to the 20 mile aid station and ran through a crowd of cheering and motivational people and before I knew it I was running to the next aid station 10 miles away! At 32ish miles in I really wasn’t feeling great and decided I really wanted to be done. In order to finish faster I just decided I should push it and run everything I could. Terrible idea, as my chest started to really bother me but I was still running so I figured I couldn’t be that bad. Thus, I kept going and finished feeling exhausted but happy I got run the trails. (I was also thinking how stupid my brain was for thinking it was okay to do that - yet somewhat impressed it was tough enough to do that).

Not too long after I finished I heard someone saying that he missed the short out and back (maybe 2k or less total?). My ears perked up. I thought there was only the 10 mile out and back. I remembered all the conversation the night before stating the turnaround was at the big aid station I’d be after the 10 miles of no aid station. I had no idea there was a super short one. It was a little annoying to have missed such a short section of the course, but it honestly didn’t bother me as I emailed the RD and told him to disqualify me. I was completely consumed with gratitude for being there.

This is getting longer than planned so I’ll quickly sum up what happened after the race. Sage and I were coming back from eating at the Fat Dog (great restaurant btw) and my chest began to feel tight. It continued to feel worse until we got to the hotel room and the next thing I knew I was on the floor from passing out. Then I woke up on the bed not knowing how I got there. From there I remember taking some medicine and being out of it while every few minutes I got the most painful hacking cough of my life. Thank goodness Sage was there to make sure I was okay! Eventually I feel asleep and amazingly I woke up feeling quite a bit better and manage to go out to dinner with Sage and some other really great people. Unfortunately the hacking cough followed me on and off for over a week.

Ok so I have no pics from the actual race but here are some pics from the pre-race activities: 
Sage and the RD at the welcoming ceremony

At least Rotorua smells a little funky for a cool reason!
Some speedy and wonderful people I got to hang out with!

Northburn 50k:



A few months before Sage and I left for New Zealand, Sage had talked to the Northburn RD and decided to do the 50k “for fun” as well as take part in the panel discussion the Thursday before the race in which all proceeds went to Malcom Law’s High Five-0 Challenge for Mental Health (completely just mentioning this because it’s  an awesome cause that deserves attention). When Sage told me about doing this one week after Tarawera I told him I’d be enjoying a good book as he ran.

Malcom Law's book!

Of course this didn’t happen. I still didn’t feel completely healthy but then I started hearing how awesome the course was with lots of climbing and miles of uneven terrain off trail. I even enjoyed hearing about some Spanish plant that should be avoided. I was hooked and excited. I would run this and my one and only goal was to have fun (I wasn’t mentally or physically ready to even think about pushing it after the previous weekend’s events). Unfortunately Sage and I were missing tons of the required gear, couldn’t run without it, and couldn’t spend the money to get all the gear.Grant Guise from Backcountry Runner to the rescue! He not only showed Sage and I some awesome trails and welcomed us into his lovely home, but completely hooked us up with all the gear we needed for the race.  Definitely a race saver!
Thanks Backcountry Runner (for your help and the sweet hat)!!!

I should also mention this race is quite “old school” (which I love) in that the aid stations serve only water, meaning you had to carry all your own food. I’ve never experienced this before but quickly came up with a plan. I mixed Hammer Sustained Energy in with my water so I could get in calories while not taking up any extra space in my pack and then just took enough gels to get me through the rest of the miles. It was also a hot day and I conveniently filled up the water bottles in the front of my Ultra Vesta with Hammer Fizz. It was probably one of my best nutrition plans I’ve had. The Hammer Sustained Energy was great for the long uphill in which I didn’t have to think about getting a gel out and trying to eat and breathe at the same time.

True to usual form, on race morning I barely made it to the start line on time since I waited to use the bathroom until the last minute. The race began, Sage and another guy immediately shot off, and I became increasingly confused as to why I ran the first 8k with the lead pack of guys. Then I realized they were probably all running the 100k or a 100 mile race and life made sense again. In the first half of the race there is a long 10 mile climb. I enjoyed the climb in the beauty of the rising sun, a truly enchanting time of day. I also thoroughly enjoyed that I was starting the climb from a low elevation as it felt much easier than it would have in Colorado. Eventually I got to the miles that were off trail and I suddenly understood why people said it wasn’t very runnable. I had seen pictures of this section and ignorantly thought it didn’t look too bad. It was during this time of the race I decided that those Spanish bayonets looked a bit hungry and that I should donate some blood to them so they could stay strong and sharp! At this point of the race I also realized that while I’m a strong power hiker at the end of a hundred mile race, I’m a completely inefficient power hiker in the middle of a hard 50k and watched a couple guys power hike pass me. Oh well, more time to enjoy the scenery!.
After donating some more blood to the Spanish bayonets and stopping to take in the view a few times I finally reached the hard and rocky downhill. It was great to reach but I was also wishing the other pair of trail shoes I brought with me to New Zealand wouldn’t have torn and fell apart. I was running in a super minimalist pair of shoes that I loved, but just weren’t meant for this race. I was running for fun though! Instead of forcing myself to give my quads a thorough beating I happily cruised down and took it in the beauty of the day. After the bottom of the long downhill I had about 6 miles to go to the finish and a few more hills to tackle. I nearly ran out of water but with 3 miles to go two wonderful women with the most delicious grapes I have ever tasted filled me up and got me going again, though I really tried to stay and talk to them longer (you can see this in the video). Three miles later I finished all smiles, tired but thankful I had accomplished my goal of having fun. Getting first in the 50k with a CR was a nice added bonus.

What will be the Lake Sonoma DNS…


I’ve wanted to run Lake Sonoma for two years. I love courses with a lot of runnable climbs and beautiful trails and Lake Sonoma just seemed like a great course for me. Unfortunately, I had been denying to myself for months that my iron levels weren’t getting better and pushed through many miles and hard runs anyway. Somewhere in those months I realized that when I should have been making huge progress I was actually running slower. Still, I ignored it.  While running Tarawera I knew I was running slower than usual because I was so sick, but in the back of my head wondered how much faster I’d be running without being sick. During Northburn I had a blast, but I still knew I once used to feel stronger. I got back to Boulder and as I ran the trails that altitude hit me like a brick and I’m still having a hard time adjusting back. I knew my iron was low but got a blood test anyway to make sure it wasn’t in my head. I got the results of the blood test and found out my iron is at an all-time low. To give you an idea of how it affects performance, I’d be running pretty well if my ferritin number was 60 higher than mine, or to be really ideal for an athlete, the number would be 90 more. It’s disappointing- I’ve tried everything I could think of and have done tons of research for two years now with no improvement. While I have to admit to myself that since I try to be so healthy otherwise I still feel decent and can run decently well, it’s no longer fun for me to do such competitive races while I’m not at my best. Thus, I made the decision to not run Lake Sonoma. All hope is not lost though. While I feel like I’ve tried everything I know I haven’t. Something will work and one day I’ll see some speed and mountain strength come back and I’ll y appreciate ever moment of it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Strong Abs with the Stability Ball

I got a lot of great feedback from my first ab video (How to: Plank Variation Exercises for Athletes and Beginners) so I thought I'd do another one, this time with a stability ball. It's my favorite ab workout because it's hard not to have fun using a giant ball and some of the moves are still pretty challenging. Enjoy!



My sister had the great idea of listing the names of each exercise so people could write them down and not always need a computer in front of them when working out. Before you read the list keep in mind I know all the moves have names but I completely forgot what they are. Therefor I just created names that also gave a description of the move.

Warm up: Standing diagonals
1) Standard sit up
2) Sit up with a hold
3) Turning sit up
4) Oblique series: full, half, pulse
5) Pike
(Floor Series)
6) Hands to feet pass
7) Pulse up (ball between feet)
8) Double crunch
9) Side ball taps
10) Full sit ups
11) Center touches
Cool down: Stretch by laying on the ball and letting everything relax

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vo2max Coaching


Sage and I are happy to have teamed up to start Vo2max Coaching! Together I feel like we have formed something special with our combined knowledge and experience. It's already been fun getting started as Sage and I are both so passionate about running and helping people to perform at their best. It's our goal to give the highest quality service that we can, which so far has been easy to do since we truly care about our athletes. Big bonus for me is that I really enjoy doing it. Making training plans = fun!


Run Wild, Live Happy,

Sandi

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Trying to Reach THE Goal

My number one goal for life is simply to be the best person I can be. When I die, I want people to be able to say that I was kind, happy, and I made others happy.

I always try to be kind to whoever I talk to and see the best in people so I thought I was doing an okay job but then I had to admit to myself that there is always room for improvement. Thus, in order to reach my goal of being the best person I can be, I knew I had to take action.

Here’s a few things I have been working on:

Seeing Everyone as Equal: This sounded super easy at first, but then I noticed how my thoughts and emotions were affected in certain situations or by what other people said. To be honest, there are some issues I feel very strongly about and other people feel very strongly about their opposing opinion. It really bothers me when someone’s opinion is hurting someone else. My ego wants me to believe that if I perceive someone’s beliefs as hurtful, than I’m better than that person. However, the truth is that many people have been influenced to think a certain way since they were born, often by their parents, community, and their own personal experiences. This can be good or bad, but the key for me is to always consider a person’s history and to acknowledge “nobody is better or worse than anyone else -- just at different stages of our journeys and dealing with life the best way we know how (Dawn Gluskin)”. I will also painstakingly add that maybe my opinion isn’t always right (Woo! That’s hard to write!). On a different note, but on the same topic, I also had to pay attention to my tendency see others as better than me. I do it all the time- but this thought process is not serving me or the world. I will never be president, break the women’s world marathon record, or be as influential on the world as Gandhi, but my reason for being on earth is important too.

Mirroring: I had a little trouble understanding mirroring at first, however I now understand it as this: When I feel like a situation or a person is bringing up a negative emotion for me, I need to look at myself to find out what in me is bringing up that emotion. If I was at perfect peace with myself, no situation or person could ever change that. Mirroring helps get me closer to that state of peace because I can look into myself to see why certain emotions are brought up and then “rewire” my mind. For example, maybe I get a comment on this post that rubs me the wrong way (I hope not though!). My initial reaction might be to feel upset and think negatively of the person that posted the comment. Then if I reflect on my emotions I might be able to see that my main purpose for this blog is to inspire and help people and so I’m really just disappointed in myself for causing a negative comment. From here I might be able to remember that I meant well, it’s okay if I can’t please everyone, and the person that left the comment and I are both human. Mirroring has been a huge eye opener for me as it really lets me get a good look into my own mind.

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.
- Ernest Holmes

Asking “What can I learn from this?”: I can ask myself this question for pretty much anything both positive and negative. If you have read some of my posts on MindoverDepression.com you might know I asked this about depression and found that my answer was that depression has made me a more caring and empathetic person. I also found out it’s hardest to ask myself this question when I feel disappointed. My ego makes me want to just sulk in disappointment (it’s really easy) and not want to put in the effort of thinking that there can actually be something I can learn. I can always learn something! Sometimes when asking myself “What can I learn from this?” in a situation I am feeling disappointed, it’s helpful for me to answer it on paper. I normally have no idea what I’m going to write before the pen hits the paper but then suddenly I’m writing my answer. Lastly, I realized I need to ask myself the question sometimes when I’m happy. Doing this has given me insight on what I should be focusing on in my life and doing more of.


The things I listed above are hard. I’ve had to forgive myself many times during this process of growth and I still have yet to perfect anything, but I’m making progress step by step (sometimes 2 steps forward and one step back). It also feels good to know that I’m working towards a goal that is truly important to me that will hopefully not just improve my life, but improve the lives of everyone around me.

Run Wild, Live Happy,

Sandi

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Running in Summer Snow on the Continental Divide

Warning: This video might make you really miss summer (it did for me)!


This video features a spectacular run Sage and I did in Eldora, Colorado last June. There are great trails, awesome views, and some lack of skill as you see Sage falling and me trying to get up a wall of snow! :

Enjoy!  :)

Thanks Hammer for the socks and gels on this run!

Also, I'm very happy to announce my new sponsor Ultimate Direction! A team of women did an absolutely amazing job creating the Jenny Collection. The Ultra Vesta is perfection so check it out by clicking on the UD picture! :)

Run Wild, Live Happy, 
Sandi

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ultra Running and Sponsorship for Women

Thanks for all the support and the kind, thought provoking comments so far on this post!


As many of you know Sage is working on an awesome film called MUT Runner. The subtitle is “A new breed of Mountain Ultra Trail runner has emerged”. In this case the word “new” just means some people are coming from speedier (track/road) backgrounds and that there’s more prize money and sponsorship. Otherwise, the only people in the sport are still going to be people who love the trails and people who are crazy enough to see running and training for ultras as fun.

There’s only one problem, a major problem in my opinion, that’s new and I see as compromising the sport. I indicated that there is now more sponsorship in the sport, which is true, but to be blatantly honest the elite women are getting screwed. There, I put it on the table. Now lets go deeper.

***Before I begin I will acknowledge that my knowledge is limited to only elite American ultra-runners. I am also not acknowledging myself as an elite runner and therefor am making no reference to myself or my sponsors (which I of course only picked because they're awesome!). Also, this post refers mainly to major sponsors (companies with a lot of money to give), as some of the smaller companies are definitely doing it right!

Since I know a lot of elite female and male runners I have gotten a pretty good idea of how much a lot of runners are making…or err uhm…not making. It’s in most people’s contracts to not publicly say how much they’re making so I won’t name specifics or names unless the knowledge is already out there.

Let’s look at the guys. There are probably 5 elite guys who are making enough money in ultras to live comfortably. The top paid guy are making about 4-5 times higher than what the top elite females are making. With prize money matching at least one guy made $40,000 last year from ultras. Then there are quite a few guys who aren’t making enough money to live off of, but are making enough where they don’t have to work full time. It’s easy to look on facebook, read blogs, and watch irunfar race interviews to see that some guys have been able to run for work and travel all over the world thanks to their sponsors.

If we look at New Balance and Brooks they both picked one elite guy to showcase for their trail running lines and gave them a nice salary. Does Brooks even give free product to other trail runners anymore? (I’m just asking here. I haven’t heard anything about their I.D. program in a long time.) The least either company could do is pick one main female athlete as well. No offense to New Balance’s or Brooks’ main trail guy, but they’re not going to inspire me to buy something like an elite woman would. Also, I really hope that Nike improves its 7 men to 1 women ratio for their trail team because it looks really bad. Isn’t it bad enough they’re one of the biggest companies known to treat their foreign employees like crap they don’t care about (obviously me ranting here, sorry! On the plus side Nike has done a great job promoting their female road/ track runners. Maybe they'll do the same for trail runners.)?”

Honestly, I think this is wonderful for the men. I love seeing people live out their dreams and I’m very thankful that companies are giving them enough money to do what they love. It’s awesome! What about the women though?

Does anyone know of a woman making a comfortable salary that’s enough live off of (Not including prize money)? I’m hoping there are at least a few women making close to $10,000 and sure, Jenn Shelton had (has?) a sponsorship with Hundai but that’s only one woman. If Timothy Olsen and Rob Krar are getting a lot from the North Face then Rory Bosio and Stephanie Howe should be too, right? Why hasn’t this year’s female ultra runner of the year gotten a big sponsorship? Pam Smith just killed it in 2013 with a Western States win and a world record, where’s her big salary? She uses her kids as weights and put ice down her pants to stay cool during WW100! She deserves a big salary too dammit!  To make matters worse I know that many of the elite women we saw in the top 10 for Ultra Runner of the Year make a whopping $0. That’s right, no salary, no travel, no bonus. These women won some big races this year and all they got were some free shoes and clothes. I’m not saying shoes and clothes aren’t nice, but it’s not fair when I hear how much the men are making.

I know in almost all sports women make a lot less than men. The salary of a WNBA player compared to an NBA player is a joke. I also know that there are more male ultra-runners than woman and the elite men run faster than the elite women. Let’s move on to why this shouldn’t matter.

A lot of people still consider ultra running as a “pure” sport where people share their joys and pains together. The sport itself is awesome, but it’s not very pure to put the “glass ceiling” on female ultra runners. Companies now put this dreaded obstacle over women. By the way, if you don’t know this, it’s mostly men creating sponsorship deals for athletes. This might not be a good for the company or the sport and both are losing out. Just having a woman helping on the deals would be beneficial.

The fact that there are more male ultra runners than female runners isn’t all that important. The number of women entering the sport is growing too and more importantly, women really like to buy running clothes and shoes. How often do you hear a guy say “I love your jacket! Where did you get it?”. With sports bras, running skirts, and headbands there are more things for women to buy as well. Guys are also more likely to wear the same sweaty clothes a few times a week, thus not having as many running clothes. C’mon major sponsors, women are great for promoting your stuff! In road running Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, Lauren Fleshman, etc. have done amazing jobs showcasing their sponsors. Actually road/track running seems to have done a great job of treating men and women equally. Shouldn't we carry that over to the trails?

Unfortunately, the elite men will almost always beat the elite women at races. It’s just life. There are a few things that need to be remembered though. When Ellie Greenwood and Timothy Olson both set course records at WS100, Ellie took two hours longer to finish. I GUARENTEE this doesn’t mean that Timothy Olson was pushing any harder than Ellie. That means Ellie is a complete badass for pushing that hard for two hours more. Seriously, she’s a beast and women are tough! Furthermore, while the elite women aren’t beating the elite men, they’re still beating a large majority of the field.

One other interesting thing to note:
I had a conversation with a few female runners this year that really left a bad taste in my mouth. The discussion was about some of the elite women not getting as much attention or support because they didn’t have “the right look.” Unfortunately, as a fellow woman I can tell you this probably isn’t just in their heads. It’s ridiculous, awful, sad, and wrong. Any guy in good shape is considered good looking to a company; it should be the same for women. Any woman who has the mind and body to run an ultra is stunningly beautiful inside and out. Other ultra runners know that but we need companies who give out sponsorships to see that too.

 Again, I think it’s great runners are getting better sponsorships. Most are working as hard or harder than other professional athletes who make millions, so it’s about time some ultra runners are making enough to live off of. Everyone deserves a chance to live out their dreams, or at least see if that dream is right for them. It’s just a shame women aren’t offered the same deals as men.  This is the great sport of ultra running and in my opinion the sport will lose some of its pureness if women aren’t supported on the same level.

On another note completely please vote for Rachel Nypaver, Valley Girl Adventures!!!!

Run Wild, Live Free,

Sandi

Always try to see the good in people. Its okay to have differences. It's even okay people make mistakes that bother you. The majority of the world has a good heart if we choose to see it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to: Plank Variation Exercises for Athletes and Beginners

My favorite part of my body to workout by far is my core. It's so important for running efficiently and being balanced. The fun part, however, is that there are so many exercises to work on your core. I could do a whole core workout standing, on a yoga ball, with a weight, on my back, or just doing planks like in the video. So many options to make things more fun! Anyway, the first core video is on planks because they are easy to do anywhere since you don't need anything but yourself, you can work on other body parts at the same time, and they're just so effective. If you like the video and want to see more core workouts leave a comment here or on the youtube page.

Enjoy!



Run Wild, Live Happy,

Sandi