Thursday, April 24, 2008

50 Mile Results

The results have come out. Turns out, that even with my slower than anticipated time, I placed 3rd in my division (18-29), and was the youngest woman to run the race. Nevermind that only 3 women my age group were crazy enough to run the race in the first place! Most women who ran the race were in their 40s. It seems kind of funny---how many 40-year-olds do you know who will run for hours at a time?

Overall, I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Not too bad for my first try, though I was hoping to place higher. Maybe in the Palos Verdes Marathon next month...

Monday, April 21, 2008

More about the insanity

Just so you know; April seems to be recovering from her race. She even made it to church yesterday (now that’s a testimony!). Fortunately, we were off for nursery so she didn’t have to chase a dozen or so little scrappers around the room for two hours.
I won't add much to her post but just in case you somehow still think that running 50 miles is not that bad, I’m posting some pictures of the terrain she ran across, or more accurately up and down. These are some serious mountains-and I’m from Utah!

That little blue and white dot in the bottom picture is April.
One of the most salient features of the race was that all of the runners I encountered there were insane. I don’t mean that I thought they were insane just because they were running fifty miles. I mean they were insane because they all did this kind of thing all the time.
The race was out of a little town called Lake Elizabeth, in the mountains between Palmdale and Santa Clarita, a couple of hours north of LA. It’s kind of a biker hang-out. In fact I hadn’t seen so many motorcycles since the last time the Hell’s Angels held a rally in West Yellowstone. Here's a picture I snapped of the biker bar on the main drag.

I’m very proud of April for finishing even though I think she’s nuts. It took a lot of will power to finish and I have no doubt that she can accomplish anything now.

Youtube of The Week
I’m adding a new feature now that Catherine taught me how to put Youtube videos in my posts. It’s called Youtube of the week. This week's edition is meant to compliment April's top ten list from her post. I thought this was pretty funny

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Words of Wisdom from the Ultra Runner

Yesterday was the worst run of my life. Think of the hardest hike/backpacking trip you have ever done. Now think of it being 50 miles long. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Now try running as much of it as physically possible. That's what I put myself through yesterday, all in the hopes of becoming an ultra marathon runner.
Here is the link to the race website, in case you may be interested.
Before the race started, I was talking to a few people who had run this race before. I was already terrified, and these people were telling me what a difficult race this was and that I shouldn't even attempt to run it under 9 hours due to the elevation. Needless to say, this did not help to assuage me.


It all started out pretty well. I completed the first half of the race with the leaders, somewhere in the top 5 women runners. It didn't feel so bad, even though there were some good climbs. I was able to run the whole way, though I took regular walking breaks to conserve energy.


By aid station #3 (mile 20.3) I was at about 3 hrs, which would have me around a 3:45 marathon pace, and I still felt pretty good. Then came a 4 mile mountain. It was steep even by hiking standards. About 1 mile into the hill, my body decided that it had taken enough abuse and would never run again. I even called Steve to tell him that I would walk to the finish. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he convinced me to keep going and at least finish.

It was at this point that I decided I didn't care any more. I gave up trying to get a good time, and decided that ultra marathons were not for me. I would much rather enjoy myself than to feel this way. So I hiked up this hill as best I could, and ran down the other side, whenever my body
would allow me to, despite my upset stomach and some lung pain under my collarbone. At aid station #5 (mile 28.0) I was able to see Steve and eat some potatoes and soup for energy and sodium loss. I felt better after food, but knew that I still had 22 (yes 22!) miles left to go, so I continued my journey, albeit very slowly
After I left Steve and aid station #5, began the worst part of the race. This was a 1200 foot climb in 4 miles. It not only left my body depleted of energy, but it helped the bursitis (swelling and fluid under the joints) in my hips come back due to my crooked right leg. I made it (barely) up the mountain to aid station #6, where I was greeted by "Welcome to Hawaii". It certainly felt like I had run there. The volunteers were all dressed up in grass skirts an leis, in an attempt to motivate us to finish. The people at this aid station were very accommodation for my current condition, and about a mile later, I felt well enough to run again. I was able to run most of the way until the turnaround at mile 35.5 (#7), and even back to Aid Station #6 (which was now #8), and even make up for some lost time.

After that, I attempted to run back down that beast of a trail. Unfortunately, it was so steep and such a skinny trail, that I had to walk a lot of it for fear of losing my footing (I had a couple of close calls). I was able to make my way slowly back to Steve at aid station #9 (42.6). I got some more food and Gatorade and continued back up another peak to the last station #10 (46.1). I had to walk most of the way from #9 to #10 because of how awful I felt. At #10, I got some pizza (it was about 3 pm and I was starving) and called Steven to let him know I was close to finishing. He told me there was a short hill (.5 miles) and then it would be downhill from there. This "short" hill lasted about 2-2.5 miles, but luckily wasn't very steep and I was able to run some of it. Once I got to the downhill portion, I ran with a woman who had done 50 mile races each of the last 3 weekends. Wow. She was nice to talk to, as much of the rest of the journey had been solitary. We ran downhill the last leg of our race. As soon as I saw the town in view, I was able to scrape up some energy and run to the finish line, beating her by a few minutes at 10h32m35s. I was finally finished!!!
Now that I could finally sit down, I took inventory of my condition. You should see my feet!!!

We came home so I could take an ice bath (brr!) and eat dinner. Due to my exhaustion, I was unable to eat AND get enough oxygen at the same time. Eating dinner made me out of breath, and as I tried to breath more deeply, I felt pain in my lungs and nearly hyperventilated. It was kind of scary until we realized that my body was just so tired that it was having a hard time with everything. After dinner, we watched Jaws (which now has me not ever wanting to go back to the beach). I was amazingly able to stay awake during the movie, but when it became time to get off the couch and go to bed, I found it almost impossible to move, though despite the ice bath, my muscles severely tightened up to the point where I could no longer bend the muscles without intense pain. But after a month without dessert, at least I got brownies again!!!
After last night's sleep, it was even worse. I feel crippled. I tried to get out of bed this morning and couldn't bend my legs. Trying to take the dogs out was painful as could be. I ate breakfast and haven't moved from the couch, mostly because I don't think I would be able to anyway.
Overall, it was an interesting experience, but one that I do not think I will attempt in the future because of what it did to me this weekend. I wouldn't say that it was fun, but it was perhaps worth it just this once, even if just for the training and bragging rights.
To help you on your path of knowledge, I have compiled a "Top Ten Things I Learned by Running a 50-mile Race", in hopes that you do not have to actually run one to benefit from the experience.

10. Running 50 miles at one time is harder than it sounds and nothing can completely prepare you for the pain you feel during a race this long.
9. My iPod lasts longer than I do (10h32m35s).
8. Even if it doesn't seem bad on an elevation chart, 9000 ft of gain means wicked steep slopes.
7. Running on steep downhill can be almost as bad as going up.
6. There are better ways to lose a few pounds in one day than by running 50 miles.
5. I would never wish this experience, not even on my worst enemy.
4. No matter how worn out I feel, I always have a kick at the end.
3. The muscle soreness that sets in after sitting down for a few hours is purely paralysing.
2. Ultra marathoners are ultra masochistic.
1. I will never EVER do that to myself again

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Day Before the Insanity Plea

So tomorrow I'm running a 50 mile race. Yes, 50 miles! That's roughly the distance from Sandy to Ogden. It's kind of terrifying to think that I will be on my feet for the same amount of time I will be at work today, only I don't get paid for it.

I have been running basically non-stop since January, running more than 70 miles some weeks.
My regular training week looks something like this:

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 9 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 9 miles
Thursday: 20 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 25-30 miles

Toward the end of my training, I got really tired all the time. I could never sleep enough to recuperate from the running. I would wake up, run, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed. Needless to say, the house has been cleaner than during the last few months.

The running has been going pretty well though. I can now run 25 miles at an 8-minute/mile pace and not be sore the next day (hopefully this will mean good things for my Palos Verdes Marathon next month!). In fact, it kind of worried me that I didn't get sore anymore. I mean, I did just run 25 miles, didn't I? I guess we'll see how that turns out tomorrow.

Not only have I been running ridiculous amounts of mileage, but I have also consumed massive quantities of "Ultra Marathon Power Fluid", known to mere mortals as water. I have never had more water than these last few weeks. In fact, I carry around a milk jug full of water, and fill it up a few times a day. I just hope that it will help hydrate me properly for the big day.

Truth be told, I have never been more scared in my life. At 23, I am the youngest runner entered in the race, perhaps the only one under 30. I just figured I would never have the time or energy to do an ultra before we have kids. What also terrifies me, is that I have never run for more than 30 miles at one time, and am not sure quite what to expect in the actual race. I've run what most trainers suggest as a good build-up, but I don't know how that will affect when I am actually running. I have a tendency to run too fast in the beginning (I love a good 7-8 minute-mile), but if I can keep it to 9-minute pace, I have a good chance of finishing in the top 3. I think I am going to try for a 4 hour marathon, and pick up the pace if I still feel good 20 miles later.

When I think of this race, I can't help but think of the book Stone Fox. That was the book about the boy who raced a dogsled team and his lead dog dies about 100 feet from the finish.

The idea behind running so slowly is the difference between finishing like Searchlight (the dog in the book) and finishing like this guy:
Either way, I will be glad as long as I can somehow make it over the finish line and officially call myself an ultramarathoner---even if it means I never want to run again (like that would ever happen).
So it's bedtime tonight at 7:30 to be ready for an 8-9 hour race with those other people who escaped from the local mental institutions. "Running is a mental sport...and we're all insane!" At least I already know I'm crazy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's

Here are two of my favorite web-based April Fools pranks. Enjoy.

Thanks to Brett McDonald and Bob Lefsetz.

Update: the first link, for the story about Snoop Dogg converting to Mormonism, may not work anymore but you can read the full text here.

and here is the picture from the article.


Best Albums of 07

As Promised, here is my “best albums” of 2007 list. I know that it’s late but at least it’s the only one out right now besides. I had to make an all day trip to Amoeba Records now that I have some more free time being that it is spring break (yes, I can spend all day there). So here are my favorite albums of 07, again in no particular order.

Rocky Votolato: The Brag and the Cuss. Ok, it’s not nearly as good as Suicide Medicine but almost as good as Makers and that’s saying a lot.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand. I know this is on every best of list this year so I’m not telling you anything new but this is a really god album. I think My favorite tracks are Killing the Blues and Gone Gone Gone. I liked the version of Please Read The Letter even more than the original as heard on Walking Into Clarksdale (which by the way is the best post-Zeppelin album the guys ever released). I was also presently surprised by the appearance of Allen Toussaint’s Fortune Teller, though the est version of the song still belongs to The Who on Live At Leeds. Raising Sand has Great sound, great feel, and is an album that I listen to over and over again.

Martin Sexton: Seeds. From the first track on it just feels so good. Stream it at

Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist. The triumphant return of one of the great bands of my youth

The Cult: Born Into This. The other triumphant return of one of the great bands of my youth.

Radiohead: In Rainbows. This was a truly brilliant move to put more money in the hands of the band by bypassing the label completely. Heck, even those who don’t pay you anything give you enough info to put them on a mailing list so you can get them to go to future shows, buy merch, the next album etc… But is this going to revolutionize the music industry? No. There are tons of bands giving their music away on Myspace and and before that it was But name one big act that was broken by these mediums. Can’t think of one, can you? The problem is the internet is all noise. There are so many bands out there and some of them are good but it is impossible to filter through them on a large scale. Sure individuals can find stuff they really like and small communities can be built up on the web but for a band to make it commercially (this is the music business after all) they need marketing on a massive scale. And that takes money, money that labels happen to have. Labels have been the traditional filter perhaps that will change but not through set your price distribution. The reason it worked for Radiohead is first, they are Radiohead, already a hugely commercial success that stands out above the noise. And second, they got free advertising on the nightly news because what they were doing was so novel. Do you think the media is going to report on every band that is giving its music away especially when no one has ever even heard of the artist before? So it’s a brilliant idea for Radiohead and maybe for other large acts as well but unfortunately it cannot and will not revolutionize the industry. This is because the heart of the record industry is breaking new acts and set your price is not marketing it is only distribution. True the labels are no longer needed for distribution but if you want to make a living doing nothing but music you need someone to put money behind your act to market you to the consumer. Maybe when the big four labels have finally killed themselves off from stupidity and failure to adapt we will find another way. Best track: Reckoner.

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin. Not as good as the first album but still very good though it’s a little short. Is there a Ghost? is a song I listened to over and over again when they first released it on their Myspace page.

Jimmy Eat World: Chase This light. Not as good as Futures but then again it’s not as depressing as futures either. I loved Futures but man was it sad. I certainly can’t put it up there with Clarity either. But this upbeat album from a band that I had feared was just going to get more and more depressing is a welcome relief.

Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Perhaps I’m still on a high from how great In Your Honor was but this album is still pretty good. Summer’s End is probably the best track. Once and For All is a close second. I also really like The Pretender, Stranger Things Have Happened, and Long Road to Ruin.

Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero. I can’t call my self a NIN fan, in fact some of Trent Reznor’s work makes me want to puke but this is a great album. Check out In This Twilight. This song is almost inspirational. I know, it’s hard to believe that I’m talking about a Nine Inch Nails song but I am. Plus the album is mostly free of the shock rock, obscenity, and blasphemy that is characteristic of much of Reznor’s other work. Those of you who think that Nine Inch Nails has nothing to offer, I urge you to at least check this one out.

Eddie Vedder: Into The Wild Soundtrack. Didn’t catch the film. I liked the book despite the fact that Krakauer has an annoying tendency to mix fact with fiction in his “histories.” It was cool when Wallace Stegner did it (not to mention the fact that he did it much better, his histories also qualify as literary masterpieces on par with is fiction) but the discipline of history has changed. It has become a much more serious enterprise with a rigorous attention to citations and a new insistence that historians should shun speculation. So I get annoyed when people try to present their works as histories when they don’t live up to the high standards of the profession. Krakauer spends most of the book speculating on McCandless’ motives even ascribing the author’s own motivations to his subject. Those who are not familiar with the tradition of mixing literature with history, as perfected by DeVoto and Stegner, may be confused when they read something that does not live up to the documentation that is expected of historians today and may even simply accept these literary liberties to be fact. But I digress. Hard Sun is a great song.

Ben Kweller: Live & Solo at The Artist’s Den. Typical Ben Kweller performance his shows are always a lot of fun. Ben is also a first rate songwriter. I really like this version of Thirteen.

Norah Jones: Not Too Late. Love Thinking About You, also the music video for Sinking Soon is great. I like Little Room as well.