SPA Login    |    Apply

Jamie

 

Posts by Jamie:

 

Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile Race Recap

I’m walking a little funny today. Feeling extremely hungry. Have heat rash in various places on my body. I’m pretty tired. And yet, I couldn’t be happier on a Monday.

This weekend I participated in the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 miler on Saturday along with many of my favorite ultra running friends (congrats to Jenny Maier, Maria Sharoglozava, Jessi Goldstein, Levi Goltz and Debbie Heard on fantastic finishes this weekend!!) and then went standup paddleboarding in Sausalito on Sunday with #BellaThePoodle (SUP turned out to be a surprisingly great recovery activity!)…

1899961_10152781834210903_3645727382431519240_n

Anyway, back to the race…

This year marks my 5th year completing the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler and I came in with a time of 9:41 (resulting in 4th female in my age group, 10th female overall and 54th place overall).  And while it wasn’t my best year time wise (PR’ed in 2009 with a time of 9:23), looking back I realize just how much I’ve learned and gained as a runner.

10730229_806214826095993_8569373330870005351_n

 

I can still remember the first time I did the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler. It was October 7, 2006 and I was 23 years old (no need to do the math). It was my very first ultra and I had no idea what I was doing. I got to the start line wearing a tank top, shorts and a hat and carrying only a small hand-bottle filled with water and a few salt tabs. I had no drop bag, no fuel and no real plan. I figured I’d just get out there and run the damn thing. I had a bunch of friends committed to coming out to cheer me on, another friend who was stupid (er, I mean lucky?) enough to pace me for the final 25 and a lot of determination.

My first ever ultra marathon....

My first ever ultra marathon….

 

I remember getting to the turnaround fast – in about 4 hours – and then a few miles later realizing that I had just run farther than I ever had before (my longest run had been a 30ish mile training run prior to that) and still had about 20 miles to go. I can vividly remember  getting to mile 43 or so. I was so close to the finish, yet still so far. My legs were so crampy and tight, each step was becoming harder and harder. The hills were mocking me…downhill, uphill…it didn’t matter, it all sucked. I held back tears, tried to exchange jokes with my pacer and walked almost every opportunity I got. I remember having a terrible burning feeling in my stomach for most of the second half of the race (also known as dehydration and hunger  — HA!) and trying to breathe through it. I remember the miles dragging on and on and on….when I was crossing the damn and had less than two to go, it felt like 10. And then the finish line was there — right in front of me — and I shot through it, sprinting with whatever energy I still had left for a finish time of 10:25. I remember it being the best feeling. I laid in the grass, enjoyed a beer, and relished in my accomplishment…already scheming and planning my next race.

Thinking back, I realize that in the 8 years since I first completed the course, I have come a long way as a runner:

I show up prepared (maybe even over prepared): I wore a Nathan hydration pack with plenty of water to get me through the miles and the heat of the day – packed with nutrition, salt tabs and other essentials (cookies and wet wipes, naturally). I also had a drop bag with fresh clothes, food and even a change of shoes.

I train (and race more!): When I ran my first ultra, I ran mainly on the weekends and maybe once during the week. I did a little bit of yoga and barely even scratched the surface when it came to any form of strength training. When I hit those last 7 miles, its no wonder my legs wanted to give out on me. And no surprise I could barely walk for a week after. Now I run with a group during the week, try to fit in a longer trail runs on the weekends and strength train and practice yoga consistently – helping my legs (and body!) put in the miles and recover more quickly.

I have a race strategy: I checked the weather forecast the days leading up to the race not only to ensure I had the right clothing but also to plan how I would run on race day. Given the forecast called for heat and humidity, I decided to give myself a running start. I’m usually more conservative when starting a race – I tend to like to go slower in the beginning to make sure I have enough steam to get me through the end – but because I knew that the longest, hardest climbs were miles 21-30something, I wanted to get them done before the heat of the day really kicked in. I made it through the turnaround in 4:37 (which was just fast enough but not so fast that my legs gave up on me in the last 10 miles).

I lean on friends more!: Since this particular course is so close to home (and my birthday), I managed to get a small handful of friends and family to join me at the finish line. I also managed to sucker my husband into pacing me for the final 13 miles. But I didn’t have a crew following me around from aid station to aid station. Instead, I fed off the energy of all the amazing runner friends I knew out on the course and those supporting runners at each aid station. At nearly every aid station, I ran into someone I knew – whether volunteering, cheering or pacing other runners – and it helped keep me in a good mental state throughout the race.

 

I am better at managing my lows (and embracing the highs): After you’ve done enough races, the lows just never seem as low. And when you do get low, you learn how to manage them. I’m not gonna lie, I had a few lows during the day on Saturday. I took a pretty bad spill – basically superman style skidding down the hill – banged up my knee and hands. It felt pretty shitty and definitely set me back for a few miles as I had to walk off the pain in my right knee. I held back tears and played a game with myself. I set a goal for the number of steps I would allow myself to walk it off and then I’d be running again. It helped me focus, get over it and keep on keeping on. I basically used my numbers game to get me across the finish line – I had developed a counting rhythm in my head that seemed to be helping me breathe deeper, put one foot in front of the other and stay motivated…so I went with it. Counting….weird, I know!

I’m less salty: I used to finish ultras sheet white – caked in salt from head to toe – I used to assume I was just an extra salty person. Now I take salt tabs more frequently, hydrate better and even mix in sports drinks at aid stations.

My race gear:

1796686_10152779201950903_6018604457521276827_n (1)

  • Socks: Balega Second Skin
  • Hat: I wore the Arcteryx Accelero Hat for the first time ever. It has a nice fit, kept my head dry and protected me from the sun. I generally hate wearing hats but this one is pretty good and lightweight (and great for someone with a huge head!)
  • Hydration: I used TailWind Nutrition’s flavorless drink mix in my pack to keep me hydrated and energized. I love it because I can mix it into my pack and it’s like drinking water with added benefits (I can’t stand overly flavored drink mixes for all day  use)

Post Race Gear:

As this will likely be my last (or nearly last) big race of the year, I think I can safely say that 2014 was the year I truly learned how to run. And I owe it all to my amazing friends in the running community, a couple DNFs, and my amazing SweatPink family, of course!

Runner’s Tell All: Check out Pavement Runner + SweatGuru’s Running Tips

If you missed this morning’s Google Hangout with Runtastic, SweatGuru and Pavement Runner, no need to fret, you can catch all their great tips, stories and advice here.

Have a happy, sweaty Thursday y’all! #SweatPink

Ragnar Napa: my first ultra relay experience

photo 2

The start!

A couple weeks ago I was invited to join a friend’s Ragnar Relay Napa team (the Luscious Lushes). It was a last minute invite (definitely my style) so I hadn’t been thinking about training or preparing for it in any way shape or form. But they were short on runners and I’m a runner who happens to love relays (and wine!) so I decided to go for it.

photo

It wasn’t really a difficult a decision for me given I’m a bit of a relay veteran –  I’ve completed several relays with TheRelay (Calistoga to Santa Cruz), The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey and most recently Ragnar SoCal with my SweatPink sisters.

Shortly after my decision to join, however, I learned that we were short a few runners. The week leading up to the race, we had only 9 out of 12 runners confirmed. Given the majority of my team were relay virgins, I volunteered myself for a long distance leg and an extra leg if need be.

photo 1 (5)

 

My amazing and very resourceful teammates managed to secure two more runners a mere two days before the race but one additional runner just wasn’t in the cards. On Thursday (the day before the race), we had 11 out of 12 runners confirmed. Since I had volunteered to do an extra leg, I signed myself up for both legs #2 and #5 for a total of 38 miles (give or take). And while it isn’t the farthest I have ever run, it was definitely my first time doing a relay ultra style. Relays not only require the ability to run the distance but to run at all hours of the day and night on very little sleep. Running 38 miles in a bunch of short spurts was different than anything I’ve ever done before and needless to say, I was both excited and nervous about the challenge.

Around 5:15 am on Friday morning, I met my teammates and we hopped in our weekend mobile home (AKA big white van) to begin our journey from San Francisco to Calistoga.

photo 5

My van (van #1) consisted of five runners: 4 ladies (one who is 5 months pregnant!!!) and a dude. Van #2 had a last minute drop out and was also 4  ladies and a token dude (they split up the other leg amongst themselves – a couple people ran 4 legs vs. 3 – did I mention how badass my team was??!!!).

The next 24+ hours were amazing – filled with laughter, running, sweaty clothes and a lot of strange van smells. I went into the relay knowing one person on the team and came out having 9 new friends who each inspire me to be a better runner:

  • Stephanie: This kick ass lady is 5 months pregnant and doesn’t take shit from anybody. She is a total road warrior – climbing hills, passing other runners – making every mile look easy. And of course she kept us all laughing throughout the race (she has the BEST stories). Oh and the girl can drive (and park) a big white van like nobody’s business.
  • Katie: Incredible, incredible woman! Katie completed her longest run to date off the treadmill and did so with the most amazing energy, enthusiasm and grace I’ve ever seen. She is a wonderful teammate – she is so good at keeping everyone on track and making sure the team was taken care of. What I loved most, however, was watching her fall in love with running…I think she has really, truly caught the running bug!
  • Lauren: I would best describe Lauren as a quiet storm. She would start each of her legs – no matter the mileage – with an incredible ease and then reappear at each exchange looking just as strong as she did on her first leg. Aside from being a quiet badass, Lauren and I share quite a bit more than running in common – our affinity for black clothing, working for fitness companies, and of course startup life.
  • Johnny: Our token dude, driver and most adorable programmer I’ve ever met. Not only did he put up with 4 girls for over 24 hours talking about pregnancy, girl stuff, and everything in between, he also ran like a boss. After his second leg, he felt like he had a lot more to give and offered to switch final legs with me. Basically he offered to take my slightly hillier 4.9 miles and in exchange I got his slightly less hilly 3.9 miles. He is a rock solid dude and a great post race beer buddy, to boot!

Highlights:

  • Spending time with amazing people
  • Wearing construction safety vests. Yup, that’s right, construction vests, baby! We don’t need no stinking running vests, we just go with the real deal. I think next year we’ll have to incorporate construction workers into our theme…hmmm…..No but seriously, they were so large on all of us and we had to get creative and tie them up, knot them in the middle and tuck them in just to make them work. I especially loved walking into a grocery store in my giant vest and headlamp – I looked like I was wearing a tacky, yellow mesh dress because it was so much longer than my shorts. Ha.
  • Rescuing a teammate from a ditch filled with thorns. Nuff said.
  • Watching another teammate help our thorny, scratched up teammate spread Neosporin all over her butt to help with the sting. Again, nuff said. ;)
  • Watching Stephanie at 5 months pregnant passing a group of like 10 runners going up a hill (seriously, amazing and inspiring!)
  • Breakfast at Gott’s after our third and final leg – best (and saltiest) hashbrowns ever!
  • The post race beer garden. Sunshine, beer and new friends. What more is there to say?
  • The giant and strange post race wine country house with an aviary and exotic cats…oh and an MTV style European pool party…seriously

And now, the hairy details:

Leg 1: We started the race at 7:15am. Our first runner, Stephanie (who is 5 months pregnant) kicked everything off with a speedy (yes, speedy!) 3 miler. We had to practically race back to the van to ensure we’d make it to the next exchange in time. I was waiting only a couple minutes before she came all but flying into the exchange…and I was off for my first of 6 legs. I was the lucky runner who got to run the Land’s End trail and then over the Golden Gate Bridge (about 5.5 miles / 8:40 minute miles). I loved every minute of this very familiar leg with the exception of the half mile or so on the sand. It was hilly, beautiful, and the temperature outside was nothing short of perfect.

Our next couple of legs took us through the Marin area. Runners #3 and #4, Katie and Lauren also sped through their first legs. When Lauren came into the exchange I almost couldn’t believe it was time to run again. My second leg, leg #5 was a hilly, hot and hard 6.5 miles through the Marin hills (somewhere near Strawberry).  My run consisted of mostly sidewalks and GIANT, beautiful homes. I enjoyed passing a bunch of runners on the climb but also worried that I was pushing it a little too much given I still had 4 additional legs ahead of me – two of which were over 8 miles each. After about 6.5 miles (doing 8:40 minute miles) I handed off to our token dude, Johnny who took off like a bat out of hell and came in looking like it was just another run in the park….and then van #2 was off!

photo 3 (1)

Leg 2: We hung out at the next exchange in Petaluma while our other van was out running their first legs. Most of my van hung out in the van (Johnny was actually programming) but I was way too hot and sweaty to sit still for very long. I went out and explored the grounds, got a FREE 5 minute massage and then sipped iced tea in the shade with my van mate, Lauren who I found out works at DailyBurn (worlds collide!).

We eventually got the call that van 2 was nearing the exchange and went to get ready for our next set of legs. Stephanie was running her longest leg of the relay (6.5 miles) and with the heat, we wanted to make sure she  had more than enough water stops. Every time we pulled over, we’d see her passing people and absolutely crushing them on the hills. She’s 5 months pregnant (I can’t get over it!) and still so competitive and fast – did I mention how inspiring this woman is?

I started my 3rd leg on a track in Petaluma surrounded by kids running laps for what I assume was a P.E. class. I was weaving in and out of the clusters of kids feeling mostly awkward for interrupting their track workout and then I was out on a trail cruising for a quick and easy 4.7 miles (8:13 minute miles). Katie took the baton from me and was off for her longest leg of the relay (6.7 miles) and once again, came in much faster than anticipated. Next up was Lauren who had a long 8.3 mile run in the dark with no van support. It was her first night run and she was going to be unsupported so I gave her my hand bottle to ensure that she’d have water out there on the course and a good pocket for her cell phone. Despite her nerves about the nighttime running, she came in quick and handed off to me for my longest leg of the relay – 8.6 miles. The sun was setting and it was time for safety vests, reflective gear and blinky lights – I absolutely love night running (despite having to wear safety vests) and had one of my very best legs ever. I was running out on a long, open road as the sun was starting to set and it was not only beautiful…but also fast. I had been pretty nervous about this particular leg – mainly because it was long and my 4th one – but it turned out to be one of my favorites. I came in at an 8:06 minute mile pace and felt pretty proud of myself. I handed off once again to Johnny and he wrapped up our last leg of the night around 11:30 pm. We found some late night food for dinner – scarfed sandos and snacks – and made our way to the next exchange to get a little sleep..

Somewhere near the exchange we managed to get a little lost and confused – we were all tired and ready to lay down – but this particular part of the night made me love my team even more. Even though we were lost and things were a little fuzzy, everyone just dealt with it in such a positive way. Finding the exchange was an incredible display of teamwork and positive attitudes – love when everyone just handles it – no drama (or cranky attitudes) necessary. When we finally made it, we cleared off seats and drifted off for a few hours of much needed sleep.

 

photo 1 (3)

Sporting the one non construction worker vest for my first night leg….. ;) #lucky

photo 3 (5)

yellow vests, FTW!

Leg 3: 

We woke up around 4 am to the sounds of a van alarm blaring from somewhere in the parking lot. While annoying, it was probably a good thing given how early van 2 was getting in. We quickly got Steph (our first runner) ready and out the door for her final 3 mile leg and I quickly got myself together for my second long leg (8.3 miles). Just as we anticipated, Steph came in super fast and I was off again for my 5th leg (I barely had enough time to wake up!). My 5th leg was by far my least favorite of the 6. We were running up, up, up on a very narrow side of the highway (no sidewalk, just white lines). It was still really dark out so I was fully decked out in reflective gear and lights but getting blinded by every car and truck coming down the road. The wind was also howling a bit and blowing me from side to side. I think the only thing that kept me moving during this leg was the thought of getting off that horrible, scary road. And by the way, what the heck are all those people doing at 5am on a Saturday morning in Napa? Where were they all going?? I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than when that leg was over. I handed the baton off to Katie who had another 3 mile leg and would be followed by Lauren with a 4 mile leg – meaning not a ton of time to rest before my final 4.9 mile leg. Thankfully, Johnny was feeling up to running more miles and offered to switch legs with me. I gladly traded in my 4.9 miler for his 3.9 miler (which had a lot of downhill – yay!!). Plus, I got to hand off the bracelet to van 2 for their final set of legs which was a lot of fun.

photo 1 (6)

what a trooper!

photo 3 (2)

Was so happy for this hand off to happen! My final leg… 38 miles later!

 

The finish: Van 2 came in blazing again. Jess finished off the relay with a fast 5 miler and we all ran with her across the finish line. Celebration was definitely in order – meaning beer garden time! We enjoyed a couple of free beers (thanks Ragnar) and of course the sunshine before making our way to the house in Geyserville where we swam in the pool, relaxed in the hot tub and observed a very MTV-esque pool party taking place.

Needless to say, it was an epic weekend. Thanks to my teammates, the Luscious Lushes for being so incredible. I’m just glad I was able to complete all 6 legs and not disappoint y’all!

I knew only one person at the beginning of the race…and now have 9 amazing new friends who inspired me mile after mile.  Ragnar Napa FTW!

photo